Monday, December 30, 2013

Cookies and Cream Muffins

My daughter's favorite muffin!  Cookies and Cream are a kid friendly muffin.  I haven't met a child who said they didn't like an Oreo Cookie.

Cookies and Cream Muffins 
recipe by:  Mama
Preheat oven to 375 degrees than decrease to 350 degrees
2 large Texas size muffins tins
approximately 9 Texas size muffins
large paper liners

Dry Ingredients:
3 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 cup sugar

Wet Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tsp. canola oil
1 stick butter melted

Add ins:
12 oreo cookie cookies crushed with your fingers
3/4 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl add dry ingredients.  Mix with a wooden spoon to incorporate all ingredients.  Next mix all wet ingredients with a whisk and add to dry.  Mix with a wooden spoon to incorporate wet and dry.  Mix well but do not over beat the batter.  Add the add ins.

With a spring loader ice-cream scoop place the thick batter into each muffin tin.  The batter should be very thick, fill up to the rim of the muffin.  This will give you a high top muffin.  If you like, cut extra Oreo cookies in half and place on  each muffin. 

Bake for 5 minutes on 375 degree and reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes in pan and remove to cool. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mocha Espresso Cake

Now this is one of those recipes that is passed along from friend to friend. I can't tell you where it originated from, but I got it from a good friend of mine, so that is good enough for me. I had mentioned to her that I had to make a layer cake.  She told me she had one that she wanted to try, and thought it might be a good one for me to do.

I decided to do a decorative scalloped edging on sides with a large star tip and some chocolate drizzle decorations and a little sifted cocoa. It is one of my favorite ways to decorate a cake. It is very forgiving if you are one of those people who can't seem to get a smooth cake. I fit the bill on that one! It is quite impressive and would make a wonderful Birthday Cake for a friend.

The cake base is a yellow, sour cream cake, drenched in sweet, espresso coffee syrup, mascarpone cheese and a whole egg, butter-cream filling with mascarpone cheese, more coffee and chocolate. This is a sophisticated cake and meant for an adult pallet. I have to say it reminds me of cakes I had in Europe, and I am sure that is where it originated from. Very Italian indeed!

A wonderful ending for an Italian dinner party. 

This cake must be served at Room Temperature to really enjoy the full flavors of the coffee syrup and real butter-cream frosting. Before serving, let it sit out for about 4 hours at room temperature. Tasted better the next Day!

Recipe: 2  ( 6 inch cake rounds) sliced into 4 layers total
1 1/2 cups unsalted room temperature butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream room temperature
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese room temperature
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 vanilla bean split and seeded

Cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy, add room temperature eggs and beat, add mascarpone cheese, vanilla seeds and continue to beat until eggs are very well creamed and incorporated. Add room temperature sour cream and continue to beat. Sift flour with salt and baking powder and add to batter. Beat until incorporated. Butter and flour 2 (6 inch )cake pans. The recipe says to bake for 35 minutes, I had to bake for 45 minutes. Do the toothpick test to determine if done.

1 cup strong espresso
1/2 cup sugar
3 T. Kahlua

Bring coffee, sugar and Kahlua to a quick boil to dissolve sugar and remove from heat.

Butter Cream Frosting
3 whole eggs room temperature
1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar
5 sticks softened unsalted butter
1 cup powder sugar
1/4 cup melted semi sweet chocolate
1 T. instant espresso dissolved in 2 tsp water
2 T. Kahlua

Bring sugar and water to a boil in sauce pot and wash down sides of sauce pot with pastry brush and water to retard crystallization of sugar. Whip eggs in stand mixer until lighter in color. Continue to beat while sugar water is boiling. Bring to soft stage using a candy thermometer. When the sugar is just right slowly pour into the eggs being whipped with the mixer on. Please be careful, you can get burned. You must pay attention. No children should be in the area at this time. After all the sugar water is incorporated into egg mixture, you must continue to beat for about 15 minutes until the egg sugar mixture is completely cool. Add soften butter, melted chocolate, dissolved instant espresso coffee and Kahlua. You can stabilize this butter cream by adding 1 cup powder sugar. Whip until incorporated.

For the Filling take 1 1/2 cups Butter Cream add 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese to filling and beat until incorporated with whisk.

Assembly: Yes, this is a time consuming cake to make. Cut each layer into 2 layers. Coffee syrup, add cheese butter cream on each layer. Do a crumb coat and refrigerate for one hour. Continue frosting another layer of butter cream around the cake. Refrigerate for another hour. Do your piping, doing one column at a time of star tip decoration. Sift cocoa and add chocolate decorations!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mama's Moussaka

This is one of my favorite Greek dishes.  My mama often made it for me as a child.  I loved it as a kid and I still love it as an adult.  This is my comfort dish when I am stressed out.  My only problem is that I can eat the whole casserole.  I do however, make it lighter than the traditional way of making it, which is frying the veggies, and it comes out even better in my opinion.  It is not greasy and heavy.  I roast all the veggies on a cookie sheet on top of parchment paper.  Parchment paper is key here.  It really does a great job with roasting and there is never any sticking to cookie sheet. I love it.  The vegetables cook to perfection!  You save calories and you don't have to make a mess frying.  

I sometimes make this dish for large dinner parties.  I will prepare the veggies and cook them one to two days before the assembly.  It is a wonderful dish to prepare ahead of time.  You can even do the sauce ahead of time and layer the veggies and sauce, let them mingle in the lasagne dish a day before.  Then make your bechamel right before your planning to bake in oven.  It makes this dish super easy.  You can even assemble the entire dish a day ahead of time and just pop into oven.  Freezes great too. 
2 T. olive oil
1 chopped medium size onion
1 carrot finely diced
2 minced garlic cloves
1 pound ground beef
3 Sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 can tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup red or white wine
2 tsp. Italian dried seasoning blend
Salt and Pepper to taste (well season is important for flavor)

In a large pot, add oil, saute onion, carrots, garlic until translucent.  Add ground beef and sausage, continue saute on medium heat, until meat is nicely brown and separated into small pieces.  Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, sauce, spices and red wine.   Mix well and simmer on very low heat for about 40 minutes.  Continue to watch so that the sauce does not burn on bottom.  Stir the pot throughout the cooking process and remember to season with Salt and Pepper.

2 large eggplants sliced 1/4 inch thick, cut lengthwise with skins on
4 medium russet potatoes with skins on, washed well cut 1/4 inch thick, length wise

Extra olive oil for drizzling
Salt and Pepper

You need two Cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and greased with olive oil.  In a 350 degree oven lay evenly your eggplant on both cookie sheets, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 25 minutes until tender.  Remove from oven and place on a plate, set aside.  Now, do your potatoes the same way as eggplant, drizzle again with olive oil and season.  Roast in oven until tender and lightly golden brown.  Remove from oven and place on a different plate and set aside. 

Bechamel Sauce
6 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
2 cups whole milk plus 1/2 cup half and half (room temperature)
Pinch nutmeg
3 egg yolks
1 cup Romano cheese grated
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a sauce pan, saute butter until melted, add flour and mix well with butter to form a paste (aka roux).  Add room temperature milk and half and half and whisk vigorously so lumps do not form.  Reduce to medium/low heat and continue whisking.  When it just starts to bubble remove from heat.  Add nutmeg, cheese and 3 egg yolks and whisk again vigorously.  You do not want your eggs to cook so work quickly.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

In a lasagne pan with at least 2 1/2 inch sides usually a 10x12 or 9x13.  It should be deep dish.  Grease with olive oil.  Start with the potatoes on bottom it builds a solid foundation and do an even layer.  Place a ladle of meat sauce on top of potatoes, spread evenly.  Layer with eggplant then sauce, repeat again with potatoes, eggplant, etc.  always using sauce in between veggies.  Your last layer should be sauce.  Then on top of that add your bechamel.  Bake for 50 minutes uncovered, place pan on cookie sheet to protect your oven, sometimes juices overflow.  Cool for at least 25 minutes before serving.  Serve with a Greek salad.  If there is extra sauce leftover, freeze for a later use and serve over pasta.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Zebra Cookies

Roll out different colors and stack and cut

pull dough to make a long log

Roll and twist dough

Rolled log ready to be rolled in chocolate sprinkles

Slice and bake

 I received this recipe from a recent potluck.  They tasted great and were fairly easy to put together.  They are going into my Holiday Cookie Basket.  This is a keeper.

Zebra  Refrigerator cookies
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Only use cake flour
2 cookie sheets lined with parchment or silpat

Vanilla Dough:
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup plus  1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla
2¾ cups cake flour
pinch salt

Chocolate Dough:
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla
2¼ cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch salt
Chocolate sprinkles

Directions for Vanilla Dough:
With electric mixer on lowest setting, combine butter and powdered sugar. Add vanilla, mix. Add flour and salt, mix. Mixture will be very crumbly, keep mixing on lowest speed, it will come together. When dough comes together, set aside and place in fridge.

Directions for Chocolate Dough:
With electric mixer on lowest setting, combine butter and powdered sugar. Add vanilla, mix. Add flour, cocoa and salt, mix. Mixture will be very crumbly, keep mixing on lowest speed, it will come together. When dough comes together, set aside.

Forming into logs:
Divide vanilla dough into thirds. Divide chocolate dough into thirds. Flatten each dough piece with your fingertips into a 7″x4″ rectangle.Stack them on top of each other.  Cut stack in half.  Roll each stack to a log shape.

Marbling of the logs:
With both hands, twist the dough about three times and at the same time gently extend the dough log.  Roll with palms on a flat surface to shape a very round, about 8 inch log.
Spread the sprinkles in a pan.  Roll each dough log back and forth in the sprinkles to cover the outside of the log, pressing sprinkles gently into dough to adhere. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or more.

Using sharp knife, cut 1/4″ thick slices from log and arrange on baking sheet, 1/2″ apart. Bake 12 minutes, just until they are no longer shiny on top and are slightly firm, there should be no golden color from baking.  No browning. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, place on wire rack and cool completely.  This cookie taste even better a few days old. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Moist Blackstrap Old Fashion Gingerbread

When the weather starts to get cold, I start thinking about Gingerbread.  This is as good as it gets in my opinion.  There is nothing fancy about this recipe other than the fact that it taste like real old fashion gingerbread.  I have tried others, but they always fall short. I know this recipe will become a favorite of yours.  It is robust, moist, sticky and strong in ginger flavor as should be.  I love my gingerbread dark and flavorful.  This recipe has ground ginger, grated ginger and chopped crystalized ginger. 

You can serve your gingerbread plain or a dollop of whip cream would be nice.  I actually serve it in my bread basket for my Thanksgiving  Dinner with my pumpkin bread and cranberry scones.

Moist Blackstrap Old Fashion Gingerbread
Preheat Oven to 325
Serves 10
Spray a 8x12 or 9x 13 pan with a generous amount of spray release.  I use a pan with 2 inch sides

1 cup unsalted butter
1 T. canola oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
3/4 cup honey
1 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup half and half
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
1 tsp. chopped finely crystalized ginger

Combine the butter, water, molasses, honey and brown sugar in a medium sauce pan and place over low heat. Stir the mixture frequently until the butter is melted, and all of the ingredients are well blended. Remove from the heat, pour into a large bowl and set aside to cool to lukewarm.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, all-spice and cloves, and set aside. When the molasses mixture feels just warm to the touch, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the half and half and stir to combine. Fold the dry ingredients into the batter and mix well with a large spatula or wooden spoon.   Stir in the grated ginger and chopped crystalized ginger.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour to 1 and 1/2 hour do the tooth pick test.  I have baked this bread several times and depending on your oven it varies in time.  Cool and cut into squares or wrap in plastic wrap.  It will keep for up to 4 days outside wrapped or in the fridge for a week.  Just bring to room temperature before serving.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hershey's Dark Decadent Chocolate Cake

Frosting seems lighter than above pic trust me it's dark and decadent.  It's just the lighting. 

Originally on first blog Soap Mom’s Kitchen. 

I see my cake on many websites under my old blog which I closed down and a few others that used my pic and gave me no mention.  Anyways,  So here it is again. I can’t thank Hershey Company for this amazing recipe.  It’s on the back of their Special Dark Cocoa container. It’s my favorite This cake is dark, decadent and super delicious!  Leave it to Hershey to come up with a winner.  You must use the Special Dark Hershey's Cocoa.  There is no substitution!  When I originally posted this on Soap Mom's Kitchen, all my readers went nuts!  This recipe got more comments and tons of feedback.  Everyone loved it.  I highly recommend this cake for anyone who loves chocolate.  I only make this cake for my hubby's birthday.  He is a fanatic when it comes to chocolate.  He is crazy about this cake.

Hershey's Especially Dark Cake Recipe

I doubled the recipe to make 4 tiers

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or line 28 to 30 muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans or fill cups about 2/3 full with batter.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans or 22 to 25 minutes for cupcakes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with 

10 to 12 servings.
I doubled the frosting recipe below as well.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt butter, Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Red Velvet Kris Krinkle Kookies

 These cookies are perfect for the Christmas Holiday.  They are so festive with the red and white colors.  They will look glorious in your cookie tins for gift giving.  Enjoy this magical month with the smell  of home baked goods filling your home.  I love the smells of the Christmas Season.  

My fondest memories are of my Mama baking and cooking during the holidays.  I remember standing by her at the stove top eager to learn and taste.  It was the happiest time for me, and I love doing the same for my daughter, Athena.  So put on the holiday music, pour yourself a wonderful glass of wine, and take out the pots and pans.  I love dancing, drinking, laughing and cooking at the stove with my family!  I have a super, small kitchen, but some how everyone congregates there.  It is a wonderful time and it makes me completely happy!

Red Velvet Kris Krinkle Kookies
Yield: 2 dozen cookies 
2 cookie sheets lined with parchment
preheat oven to 350 degrees                                                                 

Wet ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs (room temperature)
4 Tablespoons milk (room temperature)plus one teaspoon white vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. liquid red food coloring

Dry Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened Hershey's cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Place in a bowl and set aside:
1 cup confectioners' sugar in a bowl

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Beat in milk plus vinegar, vanilla and red food coloring. 
  3. Sift together all dry ingredients except for confectioner's sugar.  Add to butter mixture and beat on low until just combined. The dough should be very soft and a little sticky. Cover and chill in the fridge for an hour, this will make it easier to form into balls. 
  4. I dip my fingers in powder sugar that I have placed in bowl and take a golf size ball of dough into my hands and roll into a round ball.  Roll cookie dough into powder sugar and cover very well.  The better it is covered with powder sugar the more prominent the crinkles will show.
  5. Place dough balls on a cookie sheet and flatten slightly with fingers, place about 3 inches apart.  These cookies will expand, so make sure they have room on cookie sheet, I usually do about 6 to 8 cookies per sheet. 
  6. Bake until cookies are puffy and cracked on top about 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on the pan about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Cookies will be soft and delicious!
These cookies would look spectacular in a white tin with a big fat red ribbon!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Jelly Donut Muffins

I found this wonderful recipe on King Arthur's Flour.  It is a muffin but taste like a donut.  I filled mine with raspberry jelly and covered in powder sugar.  The original recipe is not filled and covered in cinnamon sugar.  I highly recommend this for jelly donut lovers who want to save a few calories by avoiding the frying.  


Donut Muffins Recipe adapted by King Arthur Flours

I did make a few changes here is original recipe: recipe here


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg, to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
1 jar of Raspberry Jelly
Pastry Bag with large star or round tip
Powder Sugar for rolling muffins in


1) Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin. Or line with 12 paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely.
2) In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth.
3) Add the eggs, beating to combine.
4) Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.
5) Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
6) Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full.
7) Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425 and reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until they're a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.
8) Remove them from the oven, and let them cool for 30 minutes.   Remove paper liners.  Using a pastry bag filled with jelly fill each muffin and roll in a bowl of powder sugar to cover completely

Store for a day or so at room temperature.
Yield: 12 muffins.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Super Moist Apple Pecan Bread

I received this recipe from a recent potluck.  It is called a bread, but it could pass for a cake.  Anyway you slice it, this fall inspired bread/cake is delicious and great with coffee.  It is simple to put together and you can mix the ingredients in one big bowl.  Keeps for a few days if wrapped well.

Super Moist Apple Pecan Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Bake time 40 to 50 minutes
I use 10x12 disposable aluminium pan
Can use loaf pan or a 9x13 cake pan

Bread Ingredients:
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light colored oil (corn, canola, safflower)
2 eggs 
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
3 large gala apples chopped up finely (I use food processor to chop)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Topping before baking:
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons chopped pecan nuts

Grease and Flour your pan.

In a large bowl mix sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.  I use a large whisk.  

Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Beat until you get a smooth batter.  Add apples and nuts and mix well.  Place batter in pan.  Smooth out.

Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top with 2 Tablespoons chopped nuts.

Bake for 35-45 minutes.  Do toothpick test.  Should be firm to touch.  

Can remove from loaf pan after 10 minutes or serve directly in the pan,
 if using a 10x12 or 9 x 13 pan.

After it has cooled completely drizzle with Glaze.

Powder Sugar

Mix a few tablespoons of powder sugar with a little water to make a glaze.  Drizzle glaze on top after bread has cooled completely.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cottage Cheese Pie

Cottage Cheese Pie
This wonderful cheesecake reminds me of a cheesecake I had from a German Bakery in St. Louis. I came up with this recipe by sheer necessity, I love cheesecake made with quark cheese, but it is hard to find in my neighborhood.  This comes pretty close.  My family loves this simple pie.

Cottage Cheese Pie
For the Crust:
1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

For the Filling:
2 cups cottage cheese 
1 cream cheese
2 Tablespoons Corn Starch
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, well beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Make the crust. Mix together the crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Set aside 1/2 cup of
the crumb mixture for the top of the pie. Press the remaining crumbs evenly into an 8 or
9-inch pie pan and refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth and well mixed.
Alternatively you can beat in a bowl with an electric mixer, but the end result will not be
quite as smooth.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pie pan and sprinkle with the reserved crumbs. Bake in
the preheated 350F oven for 40-50 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Remove from
the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Then chill in the refrigerator for
several hours before serving.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Blackberry Oyster Cakes

 These are just the loveliest little sweet treats.  They look beautiful on a dessert table.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2 mini muffin tin, sprayed with release
A rolling pin to roll the dough
3 inch round cookie cutter
paring knife

Basic Sweet Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch salt
2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water 

In  a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in slowly through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To sample, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Divide dough into two equal disc wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour.

Cake Batter:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 Tablespoon self rising flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. almond extract

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and continue to beat.  When fluffy and well incorporated add flour, ground almonds and extract.  Mix well.  Set aside.

Creamy Frosting:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
few drops vanilla extract

Beat butter until creamy, add confectioner's sugar continue to beat until creamy.  Add extract beat until well incorporated.  Set aside.

6 Tablespoons Blackberry Jam

Assembly of Oyster Cakes:
Roll out pastry dough into 3 inch rounds a total of 16.  Place one round into prepared muffin tins.  Press down gently to form a nice pie crust in each tin. 

Spoon a heaping teaspoonful of prepared cake batter into each muffin cup.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool completely.

With a sharp paring knife, cut around the sponge cake and remove for later.    Spoon 1 teaspoon of blackberry jam on to the bottom of the pastry shell and then pipe out creamy frosting on top of jam. I used a star tip.   Place Sponge cake back on top of frosting.  Dust with confectioner's sugar.  Your done.  They are as cute as can be.  Great for afternoon tea with the girls.  Of course, you can use other jams or lemon curd.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Apple Turnovers

Apple Turnovers
Layers of flaky, buttery crust! Delish!

This recipe comes from my mother’s recipe tin. In my opinion, these are the best turnovers!. The recipes date back to the 1960’s and who knows how old this recipe is.   My mother had a beauty Salon in St. Louis, Missouri. These recipes were passed on to her from her customers. The recipes are representations of home cooking from many different countries. My mom’s customers were German, English, Dutch, Irish, Polish, African, Italian and Greek.
Every Friday night we had a feast in that Salon. These ladies had some of the most intricate hairdos. They really got decked out in those days. I was just a tween, but my love of food started in a Salon. I know that sounds crazy, but these ladies were proud about their dishes and loved to share them. Those Friday nights were the best times in my life. I am sure many of those wonderful ladies have passed away. I moved some 30 years ago and settled in New York. My heart and mind is filled with so much love for that simple time and that recipe tin means so much to me. It is all I have left from that amazing time in my life. I have a little bit of all those wonderful ladies in that tin. Well, this recipe is just as good as those memories and I will be making them all the time. I hope you love them as much as I do.
Apple Turnovers
Recipe: 8 Turnovers
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter (unsalted very cold)
1/2 cup ice water
3 large apples peeled or 4-5 small apples peeled (cut into small dice)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 egg plus 1 T. water
2T. Coarse raw sugar
Water and 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
Mix with enough water to form a medium consistency glaze.

1. In a medium bowl with pastry blender, combine flour and salt. Cut in 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle with ice water. With fork, mix well. Shape dough into a ball; with lightly floured rolling pin on lightly floured surface, roll into an 18 inch by 8 inch rectangle. Cut 1/4 cup butter into thin slices. Starting at one of the 8 inch sides place butter slices over 2/3 of rectangle to within 1/2 inch of edges. Fold into envelope.
Roll back into 18 inch by 8 inch rectangle and place in fridge

2. Fold unbuttered 1/3 of pastry over middle 1/3; fold opposite end over to make an 8 inch by 6 inch rectangle. Roll dough into an l8inch by 8 inch rectangle (I slide my dough onto a plastic cutting board) and place in fridge for 20 minutes.

3. Take out from fridge, place onto floured board and slice remaining 1/4 cup butter; place slices on dough and fold as in steps 1 and 2; Chill another 20 minutes. Take out from fridge after 20 minutes and fold lengthwise and crosswise and chill for 1 hour.

4. Prepare filling: In a saucepan with spoon, mix diced apples, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook on low heat, stirring frequently until apples are tender, about 5 minutes. Chill.

5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut dough crosswise in half roll into a 12 inch square. Chill the other half of dough. Cut into four 6 inch squares. In cup, beat egg with 1 T. water. Spoon 1/8 of apples into center of square and fold over to make a triangle. Take a fork and press the sides all around each turnover to seal edges. Brush with egg mixture. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Continue the same procedure with remaining dough. Bake for about 20-22 minutes until golden. Cool slightly on rack and drizzle with glaze. Can serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Extra Corny Corn Muffins

I have baked a lot of muffins in my day, but this is my favorite one.  It is just perfect and we love them.  This is why I love baking.  I love trying different ratios of ingredients, and then finally one day comes and you have it just right.  The honey in my opinion makes this muffin. 

Corny Corn Muffins
Recipe by Mama
Preheat oven to 400 degrees than reduce to 350 degrees after 5 minutes than bake for another 15-20 minutes until lightly golden and firm when pressed
Large muffin tins (Texas Size)
Large cupcake liner Makes about 8 to 9 large muffins
* special note if using smaller muffin pan adjust time above
I recommend liners, they do stick to pan

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup corn flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup honey
3 room temperature eggs
1 stick melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups whole milk(can use buttermilk adds a nice flavor)
1 can whole kernel corn (Save 1/4 for topping muffins)

In a large bowl add flour, pinch salt,  sugar, baking powder and whisk.  Add honey, eggs, melted butter, 3/4 of the can of corn and milk and mix well with wooden spoon.  Don't over do it, you do not want a tough batter.  Very important, let dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  The thicker the batter, the higher the muffin.  I hate flat muffins!

I use a spring loaded ice cream scooper.  Fill the muffin liner all the way up to the top. Sprinkle a little of the can corn on each muffin.   Bake in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes than reduce temperature to 350 degrees bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and firm when pressed. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Greek Pastitsio

One of my favorite comfort foods is Pas
titsio.  It is Greek comfort food like mac & cheese and mash potatoes & gravy for Americans.  I absolutely love it.  It is definitely stick to your ribs comfort food, but it is so well worth it.  My Greek Mama made this for me as a kid  and now I make it for my munchkin.  This is our family recipe.  Yes, it is a lot of work but that is why it taste so good.  The leftovers or even better the next day.  Enjoy.

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 - 50 minutes

10 x 12 pan with at least 2 1/2 inch sides(the higher the better)
Place your baking pan on top of a Cookie Sheet the juices sometimes
leak out.  This little extra precaution keeps your oven clean and happy.

Meat Sauce
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 large spanish onion
1 carrot diced
3 large cloves of garlic
1 T. dried Italian seasoning
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground lamb
1 (6oz) small can tomato paste
1 (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of white wine
1 tsp. sugar
2 cinnamon sticks or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, add butter and olive oil, saute onion, carrots and garlic until translucent.  Add Italian seasoning, ground meats and saute until meat is all broken up and evenly browned.  Add tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and white wine.  Add sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Stir the pot thoroughly.  Cook on medium simmer for 35 to 40 minutes.  Check to make sure you do not burn your sauce.  You should be stirring the pot occasionally through out the cooking time. 

1 pound package of Misko #2 Macaroni found in Greek Grocery Stores
*You can substitute  with ziti pasta
1 Tablespoon of salt for pasta water

4 Tablespoons melted butter
1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese or Kefalotyri Cheese (A Greek sharp aged hard cheese)
5 egg whites (save yolks for Creme Bechamel sauce)
Pinch salt and pepper
(Also you will add 1/3 of Bechamel to pasta before layering in baking pan)

In large stock pot filled with boiling water add one Tablespoon of salt to water, boil pasta until tender. Rinse pasta in cold water and drain.  Add pasta back to pot, pour melted butter, grated cheese, pinch salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Add egg whites and mix well again.  When bechamel sauce is finished add 1/3 cup or a ladle size to pasta.  I actually use very clean hands and toss pasta gently not to break.

Crema Bechamel Sauce
4 cups room temperature whole milk
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup flour + 1 Tablespoon flour
5 egg yolks beaten
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese or Kefalotyri cheese.
1/4 teaspoon of Grated nutmeg

In a large saute pot, add butter until melted, add flour and using whisk beat until a smooth paste is formed. This is actually called a roux.  Whisk for about a minute.  Slowly add room temperature milk and whisk vigorously.  Continue whisking until Crema is thick and you see the first bubbling on top.  Remove from stove top.  Meanwhile, beat egg yolks in a bowl with whisk.  Add a few spoons of hot crema to eggs and beat with whisk immediately.  Your are now tempering your eggs.  Add the beaten eggs into the rest of the crema in pot and whisk vigorously.  Add cheese, nutmeg and whisk again until all of the mixture is incorporated.  Set to the side. 

Extra Nutmeg and Grated Cheese for Topping right before baking

Oil your baking pan with olive oil.  Be generous this is not a low calorie dish.  You will be doing 2 layers of pasta.  Start with your first layer of prepared pasta and flatten down.  Add a generous amount of meat sauce.  You will have a few cups left over of sauce but you can freeze for another day.  I use it for pasta Bolognese just a touch of heavy cream to the sauce.  Then add your second layer of pasta flatten with palm of hand nicely.  Add your crema and using a spatula spread out evenly.  I then grate some extra nutmeg on top and I use about another 1/4 cup of grated cheese on top, as well.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before serving.  Enjoy with a Greek Salad and a glass of red wine. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pecan Sandies

 I don't know about you, but one of my favorite cookies is Keebler's Pecan Sandies.  I found this wonderful recipe on and they are fantastic!  I am thrilled about it and these will be going in my Christmas cookie gift baskets.

Recipe by: All Recipes

1 cup margarine, softened
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup white sugar for decoration

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, vegetable oil, 1 cup white sugar and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the pecans. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll each ball in remaining white sugar. Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Amish Pumpkin Bread

Amish Pumpkin Bread (Best Ever!!!!!!)

Look no further!  This is the best pumpkin bread I ever had!  It is soul satisfying and absolutely comforting.  I am so excited about this bread.  I will make it forever.  It is so delicious I have made it several times in the past week to give to friends.  I highly recommend this one to all. 

I would serve it for breakfast, brunch or even your Thanksgiving Feast, right next to the corn muffins and milk rolls.  This recipe comes from Amish Country, need I say more.  Try it and I know you will love it as much as I do.  You must be patient and watch that you do not over cook or undercook.  After an hour keep a close eye.  I bake my bread in my oven up to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs beaten
1 lb. canned pumpkin
3 ½ cups flour
2/3 cup water
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground clove
1 tsp. each cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg

Mix sugar, oil and eggs together.  Add pumpkin.  Then add dry ingredients and finally water, stirring just until mixed.  Pour batter into two greased and floured 9x5 loaf pans or I use a deep dish 10 x 12 disposable aluminum pan (double pan it).  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes.  Do the toothpick test.  The tooth pick will have a little gooeyness on it.  I am not sure if gooeyness is a real word, but I think you get the idea.  Especially good, spread with cream cheese.  

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