Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ring in the New Year with Bourdon French Toast

Okay I realize that this is yet another recipe with bourbon, but I just can't help it! Baking and bourbon are a match made in heaven. I find myself adding a dash (or more) in all kinds of things. So of course when I was making french toast, I just had to try adding a bit of bourbon to the soaking mixture. I loved the flavor it added to this already decadent breakfast dish. Perfect for the holiday's. What better way to welcome the New Year than with a great breakfast?

8 large slices hearty white sandwich bread
1 1/2 cups whole milk or half and half, warmed
3 large eggs (for a richer french toast use just the yolks)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of fresh grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus 2 tablespoons for cooking
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Fresh fruit for topping (optional) I used blueberries but almost any fruit would work.
Maple syrup


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Place bread on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake bread until almost dry throughout (center should remain slightly moist), about 16 minutes, flipping slices halfway through cooking. Remove bread from rack and let cool 5 minutes. Return baking sheet with wire rack to oven and reduce temperature to 200 degrees. Alternately, place bread on a sheet pan and leave in cold oven overnight too allow bread to dry slightly.

2. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt, bourbon, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Transfer mixture to 13- by 9-inch baking pan.

3. Soak bread in milk mixture until saturated but not falling apart, 20 seconds per side. Using firm slotted spatula, pick up bread slice and allow excess milk mixture to drip off; repeat with remaining slices. Place soaked bread on another baking sheet or platter.

4. Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. When foaming subsides, use slotted spatula to transfer 2 slices soaked bread to skillet and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. (If toast is cooking too quickly, reduce temperature slightly.) Transfer to baking sheet in oven. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Repeat cooking with remaining bread, 2 pieces at a time, adding 1/2 tablespoon of butter for each batch.. Top with fresh fruit Serve warm, passing maple syrup separately.

Here's a picture of what Hubs calls my secret stash!

If you liked this recipe check out these recipes:
Bourbon Pecan Pie
Maple Bourbon Cream Cheese
Baked Brie with Pomegranate and Apples

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snickerdoodles and giveaway winners!

Snickerdoodles have always been one of my all-time favorite cookies. My mom made these all the time when I was growing up. I remember being thrilled when I opened my lunch box and in it was two snickerdoodles, wrapped in waxed paper. At that point I didn't care what else I had for lunch!
There are two different methods for making snickerdoodles. One that uses cream of tartar and one that uses baking powder. I've tried both ways and I know that baking powder has cream of tartar in it, but the cookies just don't taste quite the same. The cream of tartar lends a bit of tang to the cookies and also helps with the texture of the cookie. I also prefer the all butter recipe over the part shortening part butter recipes.
In my opinion snickerdoodles way better than your average sugar cookie. The top of a snickerdoodle is crackled and crisp but the inside is soft. Perfect cookie texture! For some reason though I haven't made them in a long time. They are an old fashioned cookie and I guess because I love trying new recipes, I just neglected to make snickerdoodles for a while. I recently renewed my love affair with this cookie and will be make anther batch before Christmas. I thought this would be the perfect cookie to submit to the Eat Christmas Cookies Season 2 round-up hosted by Susan of Food Blogga

From Joy of Cooking

Makes about 36 3" cookies

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line 2 cookie sheets.
Whisk until well blended
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat in a large bowl
1 cup (2 sticks)unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar

Add and beat until well combined
2 large eggs

Stir in the flour mixture.

In another bowl combine
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Shape the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls, roll in the cinnamon sugar, and arrange about 2 3/4 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake until the cookies are light golden brown and the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.

And now for the winner's of the Silver Bells book giveaway!! I drew numbers and the winners are...Pam of For the Love of Cooking and Cathy of Noble Pig. Congrats!! Just email me your mailing address to paulahennig(at)msn(dot)com and I'll get your book in the mail. Thanks to everyone for all your great comments!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Silver Bells Teacakes and a Giveaway

About a week ago I was contacted by the publishing company representing author Mary Burton. Mary Burton is a passionate baker as well as author. She developed this recipe for Silver Bells Teacakes in honor of the publication of Silver Bells. Mary Burton joins legendary author Fern Michaels and Joann Ross along with Judy Duarte in creating this holiday collection. Mary's novella is titled Christmas Past.

Mary confesses to a borderline addiction to sweets that is fed by a passion for baking that has become part of her writing routine. Struggling with a plot point, pondering motivation, and wondering if her dialogue is reading smoothly are all triggers for a break from the computer and a sojourn in the kitchen. “When the going gets tough, the tough get baking,” says Mary, who describes the time spent doing so as a chance to relax, focus on the task at hand, ruminate and go back to work refreshed and ready to tackle the relationships, homicides, and police investigations that power her plots.
Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Mary Burton is also an avid cook and even volunteered as a kitchen assistant at a local culinary school to hone her skills.
I agreed to try her new recipe and giveaway two of her books. These tea cakes are easy to make and very tasty.

SILVER BELLS Lemon Cherry Teacake Cookies

¾ cup softened butter

¼ cup softened cream cheese

½ cup of confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon lemon extract

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup of dried cherries

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

½ cup canned cream cheese icing (I used homemade cream cheese frosting I had leftover from making cupcakes. Go here for that recipe)

In a stand mixer, mix together the softened butter and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in lemon extract and confectioners’ sugar. Sift together flour and salt and mix into creamed butter/sugar mixture. Gently stir in dried cherries and chill for an hour. Form dough into (about 2 inch)balls, flatten with the bottom of a glass or mug, dredge in confectioner’s sugar and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (cookies won’t spread). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook 12-15 minutes until set but not browned. Place the cookies on a cooling rack resting over a baking pan. Spoon canned icing into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 15-20 seconds. Stir until smooth and then pour a thin coating over the cookies. Let stand on the rack until the icing hardens. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and garnish with dried cherries.

For fun, I decorate some of the cookies with red and green cream cheese frosting that I had on hand.

I'm giving away two copies of Silver Bells. All you need to do is leave a comment at the end of this post(one per person please!) by 11:59 CST on Saturday December 20. I'll randomly draw two winners from all the entries. Good Luck!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sugared Cranberries

I made these lovely little gems for the first time as a topping for my pumpkin cranberry cupcakes. I liked them so much I also decorated my All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake with them as well. At first I was really just looking for a festive decoration. After making these however,I found that not only are they a glittery and beautiful decoration for desserts but they're an excellent little snack as well. The cranberries are soaked overnight in simple syrup then rolled in superfine sugar. They are sweet and tart and pop in your mouth when you bite them. The cranberries hold quite well for several days in an airtight container. Put these gorgeous little gems into pretty containers and give them as gifts along with your other Christmas goodies.

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup superfine sugar

Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. (Do not boil or the cranberries may pop when added.) Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Drain cranberries, reserving steeping liquid, if desired. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add the cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week.
Use the reserved steeping liquid as a mixer in your holiday cocktails!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Someone's in the kitchen...cooking for me!

I don't know about you but, although I adore cooking, it's always nice to have someone cook for you. Especially when they make one of your favorite meals, just because you mentioned it.
Yesterday Hubs and I were talking about our favorite breakfast meal. I said that mine was eggs Benedict. I've always had a weakness for eggs Benedict. Although I usually can't resist ordering it when we go out for breakfast, I rarely make it at home. It's one of those things that just tasted better to me when someone else makes it. This morning when I came into the kitchen, Hubs had out the Joy of Cooking cookbook and was looking up hollandaise sauce. He said he was going to make eggs Benedict for me. "Really? Why? I asked" His answer: "Because you said it was your favorite breakfast." Awww isn't that cool!
So he made hollandaise sauce and I poached eggs. He put it all together with a little ham and it had to be one of the best breakfasts, ever! Thanks Hubs! Love you and not just for your mad cooking skills!

Eggs Benedict

2 to 4 servings

Prepare and drain well, and keep warm: 4 Poached Eggs
Place on warmed plates or a warmed serving platter: 2 English muffins, split, toasted, and buttered.
Cover with: 4 thick slices ham or Canadian bacon, warmed
Top with the well-drained eggs, then top the eggs with: 1⁄2 cup Hollandaise Sauce or more if desired.
Serve immediately.

Hollandaise Sauce

source: Joy of Cooking

Generous 1 cup

Melt over low heat:
10 tablespoons (1 1⁄4 sticks) butter
Skim the foam off the top and keep warm.
Place in the top of a double boiler or in a large stainless steel bowl:
3 large egg yolks
1 1⁄2 tablespoons cold water
Off the heat, beat the yolks with a whisk until light and frothy. Place top of the double boiler or bowl over—not in—barely simmering water and continue to whisk until the eggs are thickened, 3 to 5 minutes, being careful not to let the eggs get too hot. Remove the pan or bowl and whisk to cool the mixture slightly. Whisking constantly, very slowly add the butter, leaving the white milk solids behind. Whisk in:
1⁄2 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
(Dash of hot pepper sauce) (Hubs used a very generous dash)
Salt and white pepper to taste
If the sauce is too thick, whisk in a few drops of warm water. Serve immediately, or cover and keep the sauce warm for up to 30 minutes by placing the pan or bowl in warm (not hot) water.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Time to vote!!

The voting for this month's Iron Cupcake Earth: cranberry challenge is now open. Just click here and vote for my Ode to Fall Pumpkin Cranberry cupcakes!! Voting ends Friday Dec. 5th.

Also just a bit of news. My blog was added to Alltop! Woohoo! Alltop is an "online magazine rack" that aggregates RSS feeds about popular topics. Thanks for adding my little blog! Click here to check it out

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Baked Brie with Pomegranate and Apple

I remember my first experience with a pomegranate quite clearly. I was about seven and my mom had gotten a couple pomegranate's from the store. My younger sister and I were very intrigued by this new fruit. Mom told us that inside a pomegranates were hundreds of seeds that looked like rubies that would popped when you bit them. So with this introduction, of course we couldn't wait to try a pomegranate.
After warning us the juice would stain our clothes, she cut open a pomegranate, gave us each a half and sent us out to the porch to eat it. She was right. The seeds did look like rubies! (I still think they look like little gems.) Anyway, I still remember biting into those ruby red seeds for the first time. I carefully picked each one out of the pith and bit it, the juice running down and staining my fingers. I'm sure our shirts were ruined but it was love a first bite.
When I heard that POM had a recipe contest open to blogger's, I couldn't wait to join in! I decided to make something festive. In the past I'd made an apple pomegranate crisp and I really like the combo of the apples and pomegranates. I thought I'd take that idea and combine it with one of my party favorites, baked brie.

Baked Brie with Pomegranate and Apple
1 8 ounce wheel of brie
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
1 POM Pomegranate, opened and seeds or arils removed (Click here for instructions on opening a pomegranate.)
1 TBS butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cardamon
pinch salt
1 tsp bourbon

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water: for egg wash.

In a pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Cook for until apples begin to soften about 5-7 minutes. Add the bourbon and cook about a minute more. Remove from heat, stir in half of the pomegranate and let cool to room temp. reserve the rest of pomegranate for garnish.
Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 375 degrees F (190 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.

With a sharp knife, cut the cheese in half horizontally. On a clean work surface, place one half of the cheese, sliced side up, and evenly spread 1/2 cup of the pomegranate apple mixture over it. Set the other half, sliced side down, over the pomegranate apple mixture and spread other half over the top.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and set the cheese in the center of the dough. Fold the dough up over the sides of the cheese, pleating the upper edges to fit snugly around the cheese. Pinch the dough together in the center to seal. Brush the dough evenly with the egg wash and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake until the pastry is golden all over and crisp, 40 to 45 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then transfer to a platter and sprinkle remaining pomegranates over baked brie. Serve with crackers or sliced baguette.

And what goes better with brie than a PomPom -champagne with a splash of pomegranate juice. Perfect!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Burnt Caramel Cake

I was excited about this month's daring baker's challenge. I love caramel cake but I was worried that I may not have time to squeeze in the challenge this month. I'm really glad I did because this is a really good dense cake. I didn't have the right size pan so I made mine in an 8 inch cake pan. It made a thicker cake so I had to cook it about 6 minutes longer. After my cake cooled, I split the cake into two and put the frosting in the middle as well. I added sea salt to the frosting which really complimented the burnt sugar flavor.
This was a fun challenge and I loved the finished cake!
Thanks to our hostessShuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater, for sharing her signature cake recipe! The recipe can be found here . Helping to host this month's challenge as well are, Alex of Blondie and Brownie, Jenny of Foray into Food, and for all your gluten free questions, Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go. Check out all the other DB'rs cakes here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

All in One Holiday Bundt Cake with Sugared Cranberries

I made Dori Greenspan's all-in-one holiday bundt cake for the first time this week. It's the perfect cake for this time of year. This cake is filled with cranberries, nuts, apple,and pumpkin. Sounds great right! Then you add a maple glaze. Yummm! That's pretty much all the holiday flavors packed into one delicious cake.
To make it even more festive, I topped the cake with some of the sugared cranberries I had leftover from the ICE cupcake cranberry challenge.
I thought this would be the perfect entry for this month Sugar High Friday. Sugar High Fridays started by Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess. This month's host is Susan atThe Well Seasoned Cook and the theme is: All that Glitters. Perfect because these cranberries just sparkle like little gems. Check out all the other glitter holiday desserts on here.

All-In_One Holiday Bundt Cake
Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours
(makes one 9- to 10-inch Bundt cake)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoon/5 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 large apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 cup fresh cranberries, halved or coarsely chopped
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Optional: Maple syrup icing (see recipe below)

To make the cake:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (about 12-cup) Bundt pan. Do not place the pan on a baking sheet - you want the oven's heat to come up through the Bundt pan's open core.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside dry ingredients.

Working with a stand mixer (using a paddle attachment, if you have one), beat the butter and both sugars together at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition; beat in the vanilla.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the pumpkin and apples - don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until the flour is just barely incorporated. Working with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the cranberries and pecans.

Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with the spatula. Slide the pan into the oven and bake 60 to 70 minutes at 350F, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Cool to room temperature on the rack. Drizzle with maple syrup glaze.

Maple syrup glaze:
Sift 6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar into a bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup. Add more maple syrup little by little, until you have an icing that runs nicely off the tip of a spoon - you might need another 1/2 tablespoon to get the right consistency. Put the cooled cake on a sheet of parchment or waxed paper and drizzle with the glaze. Let the glaze set for a few minutes before serving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Maple Bourbon Cream Cheese Spread

A couple of weeks ago I made Autumn Pumpkin muffins. The original recipe said it made two regular size loaves. So I decided to make half the batter into muffins and the rest I put into a loaf pan. I ended up freezing the loaf which came in handy this week when I needed a quick dessert to take to my book club. It came out of the freeze as wonderful as the day I made it. I'm always a little sceptical about freezing baked goods. Sometimes they just aren't the same, but no worries with this bread!
Although the pumpkin bread is great on it's own, I thought I'd make it even better by making a cream cheese spread to go with it. After all I was taking it to book club, which is all about food and wine...ohh and the book, right it's about the book. I mean were not just a group of gals that like to eat, drink, and gossip. We read too!!
The pumpkin bread is packed with spices and nuts so I thought maple syrup would be the perfect compliment. I grabbed a few spices, the maple syrup, and brown sugar and threw it into some soften cream cheese. I tasted the mixture and it was really good but needed just a little something else. I put a bit of vanilla in and as I was putting the vanilla away I spied my bottle of bourbon. I thought "Why not!" I mean maple and bourbon, that just sounds awesome. Oh and yes I keep a small bottle (well a fifth) of bourbon in with my spices and flavorings. Hubs calls it my secret stash. I guess I use it a lot...well we do live in the South. I've really come to appreciate the flavor that bourbon can add to a dish. Bourbon is aged in barrels that have been charred. The bourbon picks up a smokey flavor from the barrels that is wonderful in everything from pork dishes to pecan pie. However, despite what Hubs thinks, I don't drink it straight from the bottle! Not yet anyway;)

Maple Bourbon Cream Cheese Spread

6 ounces cream cheese at room temp.
3 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp vanilla
11/2 tsp Bourbon
Mix all the ingredients together until well combined.

This spread is great on bagels too!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ode to Fall Cupcakes

Fall here in the south has been really beautiful this year. Some years we don't get much in the way of fall color but this fall has been perfect. The early cold snap has lit the trees with glorious colors. I love walking in our neighborhood to the sound of acorns crunching underfoot and all the lawns covered in a patchwork of fallen leaves. It's so pretty. I wish that the color would hang around longer, but it's nearly gone.
So here's my ode to fall in the form of a cupcake! The cupcakes are pumpkin with pecans and dried cranberries. Then I frosted them with a rich chocolate frosting and topped with some sugared cranberries.

Pumpkin Pecan Cranberry Cupcakes

source : Shelly Kaldunski adapted

makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 lg eggs at room temp.
1/2 cup, pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Line standard 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners

In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, and eggs. Add the flour mixture and whisk to combine completely. Stir in the pecans and cranberries.

Divide batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 22-24 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool about 5 minutes before removing from the pan. Cool completely before frosting.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter softened
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter. Sift the cocoa powder together with the powdered sugar. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

This is my submission to this month's Iron Cupcake Earth Challenge: Cranberries. Click here to see all the great prizes up for grabs! There's some really cool stuff this month!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie

My pumpkin obsession goes on! Can you improve on the traditional pumpkin pie? That's debatable. I really love your basic pumpkin pie so I'm always sceptical of new pumpkin pie recipes.

When this month's Bon Appetit arrived, it was full of all kinds of Thanksgiving recipes. One of them was for Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie. I saw the pie but didn't pay much attention to the recipe. Hubs picked up the Bon Appetit a couple days later as he was asking what we were having for dinner (at around 2:00 pm!). I said I wasn't sure. So he let the Bon Appetit fall open and pointed to the page and said "Make this". This happens a lot at our house. He thinks it's funny. Luckily for him, I'm still just happy he's home after being deployed for nearly a year.
Anyway he landed on the dessert recipes. By the way pumpkin pie is a favorite of his as well. So when he saw the picture for Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie, he said I had to make this sometime. He pointed out that the recipe called for Scotch. This made the recipe all the more interesting to him! I had made Dori Greenspan's Real Butterscotch Pudding while he was deployed, and it was fantastic. I promised to make this pie sometime, although not right then and not for dinner!
We had a few friends over for dinner this past week-end, and I made the pie for dessert. Everyone raved! It's a bit more involved to make than your average pumpkin pie, so plan ahead.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Pie

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons (or more) ice water

3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Scotch
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Whipped cream:
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon Scotch

For crust:Mix flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter; using on/off turns, process until very coarse meal forms. Add 3 tablespoons ice water; using on/off turns, process until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if too dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap and chill 1 hour.
Roll out dough to 12-to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Fold edges under and crimp decoratively. Chill dough until firm, about 1 hour.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line crust with sheet of foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil with beans. Bake until just beginning to turn golden brown, piercing with fork if bubbles form, about 15 minutes longer. Cool completely.

For filling:Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, butter, and salt in medium saucepan; bring to boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil until deep brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add Scotch, then cream (mixture will bubble vigorously) and whisk until smooth. Return to medium heat and stir until most caramel bits dissolve. Strain butterscotch mixture into small bowl. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Whisk remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar and pumpkin in large bowl. Whisk in eggs, then spices. Add reserved butterscotch mixture; whisk to blend.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk before using.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour filling into crust. Bake until just set, about 50 minutes. Cool to room temperature, about 3 hours.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Store at room temperature.
For whipped cream:Using electric mixer, beat cream, sugar, and Scotch in medium bowl until peaks form.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk if necessary before serving.
Cut pie into wedges. Serve with dollop of whipped cream

Our table for our dinner party (a late birthday celebration for Hubs) turned out so pretty I just had to share a couple pictures!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Texas Pecan Pie

It's getting to be pecan season again. Yeah! I've already posted my personal favorite pecan pie recipe. Tuesday was Hubs birthday. He loves pecan pie so I planned on making him a pecan pie for his birthday. He also choose lasagna for his birthday dinner. He made the pasta sheets himself! So after getting caught up making lasagna( really awesome lasagna!)I ran out of time. I remembered reading a recipe in The Pastry Queen cookbook for some pecan pie bars. Because they have a shortbread crust and didn't need to cook as long as the pie I knew they'd be done in time.
Wow are these bars great. They are basically a pecan pie on a shortbread crust that you can pick up. No fork needed. Portable pecan pie, what could be better! These bars are crunchy/gooey in all the right places.
We also thought the coconut was a great addition. The next time I make these, (and there will be a next time!) I'm going to throw in a couple handfuls of chocolate chips.
So now I have two favorite pecan pie/dessert.

Texas Pecan Pie Bars
source: Rebecca Rather, The Pastry Queen

Yield: 1 dozen


1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar

4 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp salt


8 large eggs

6 cups firmly packed golden brown sugar

1/4 cup Bourbon (recipe says optional but you'll be missing out if you leave it out!)

6 Tbl unsalted butter, melted

2 Tbl Vanilla Extract

1 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

2 cups pecan halves


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 12 by 17-inch baking pan with butter or cooking spray.

2. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl on medium speed about 1 minute. Add the flour and salt; mix on low speed until evenly incorporated but still crumbly.

3. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until it has darkened to a deep golden brown. Leave the oven at 350°F.


1. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until blended. Stir in the bourbon, butter, vanilla, flour, and salt, then the coconut and pecans.

2. Pour the filling over the cooled crust, spreading evenly. Bake until set, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool thoroughly, at least 30 minutes, before cutting into 3-inch squares or diamonds.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lentil Soup

As soon as the weather begins to cool, I crave soup. I enjoy the process of making soup almost as much as eating the soup. Chopping, simmering, stirring, all the while the house filling with a delicious aroma, I find it very therapeutic.
Recently I decided to give lentil soup a try. Lentils are a legumes and are incredible good for you. They are packed with fiber and heart healthy minerals as well as tons of protein. All that and a bag of dry lentils will run you about seventy-five cents!

This soup very is rich and hearty. In fact my carnivorous husband agreed that it was extremely filling despite the lack of meat. High praise indeed! Well there is a bit of bacon and chicken broth, so it not completely vegetarian. If you want to make it completely vegetarian just leave out bacon and saute the carrots, onions, and celery in a little olive oil and use water in place of the chicken broth.

Lentil Soup

Serves 4

3 strips (3 ounces) bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 celery stalk cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth (3 1/2 cups)
2 cups of water
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
In a Dutch oven (or other 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid), cook bacon over medium-low heat until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat.
Add onion and carrots and celery; cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute.
Add lentils, thyme, bay leaf, broth, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cover; cook until lentils are tender, 30 to 45 minutes.
Stir in vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Serve immediately.
I added just a bit of sour cream to the top before serving.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Triple Threat Chocolate Cookies

Okay so taking dessert to your dentist probably seems like a strange thing to do.
Today I have to go back to the dentist to get my crown finished. Not an event I particularly look forward too, but I do have a really nice dentist. At every visit the conversation turns to food within a few minutes of my sitting in the chair. As much of a conversation as you can have with some one's hand in your mouth!
At my last cleaning, mouth open and much scraping going on, my hygienist starts asking me about cooking and what I like to cook. I try to answer her using mostly grunts. Our conversation went something like this:
Hygienist: "Do you ever watch the Food Network?"
Me: "Uh huh"
Her: "I just love that lady , you know the Southern one. What's her name?"
Me: Aula Een?
Her: "Yeah I just love Paula Deen. She's so funny. Do you ever watch her show?"
Me: "Om imes"
Her: "All her food looks so good. Have you ever made any of her recipes?"
Me "ess"
Amazingly it seems she can decipher this strange language.
When the dentist comes in to check on me, he asks, "So what'd you bring us to eat?"
So how do you answer that? The next time I see this person, he'll be drilling on my tooth!
I find myself promising to bring him some goodies on my next visit. Hey, I'm not above bribery. I'll bring you goodies, you give me happy gas! Besides dentists have lots of toothbrushes on hand.

I chose to make the Pastry Queens "Triple Threat Chocolate Cookies" for my bribery. These cookies are seriously chocolate. They're are almost flourless, just 1/3 cup of flour to about a pound of chocolate! Soft, densely chocolate, ...sublime!

Triple-Threat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Source: The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
6 TBSP unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1/3 cup all purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the pecans and walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 7 to 9 minutes until golden brown. Cool the nuts completely.
Grease baking pan generously with butter or cooking spray.
Melt the butter, bittersweet chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate in a small saucepan set over low heat. Stir occasionally, watching carefully to make sure the chocolate does not burn. Remove the pan from the heat to cool.
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate. Beat on medium speed about 2 minutes, until the dough is thick and glossy. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the chocolate mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes, which makes it easier to scoop.
Use a 1 ¾ inch diameter scoop to drop spoonfuls of dough on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them at least 1 ½ inches apart. Wet your fingertips lightly with water and gently flatten the cookie dough(no need to press hard, just press out the hump) Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the tops begin to crack and look glossy. Cool the cookies for 10 minutes before removing them from the baking sheets.

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cranberry Rum Relish

At some point in my adult life I've come to realize that despite all my efforts, I am in fact, beginning to turn into my parents. It's mostly in small ways. For instance, as a teen I couldn't figure out why on earth you'd want to spend a day cutting up fruit and putting it into jars and canning it. Mom would buy flats of berries or bushels of peaches or cucumbers etc. and have us kids help peel, cut, and ladle into jars. I thought this was not only an extremely boring way to spend the day, but it was practically on the verge of torture! After all canned fruit and preserves can be bought at the store and they're not that expensive. So why, was my question. Yes we had a big family, but it's just a jar of peaches! I remember quite clearly on one such peach preserving Saturday, swearing that I would NEVER. EVER. can ANYTHING when I was an adult! Of course I swore this quietly, to myself, as our grumbling had no affect on our mother at all. She'd just say that we wouldn't be complaining the next winter while we were eating whatever it was we were helping her preserve.
Then one day I find myself making strawberry preserves and fig chutney with great gusto. See right there no matter how hard you fight it, your parents slip in and take over your thinking. Now I completely get why Mom made her own bread and chopped up everything she could get her hands on and threw it in a jar or the freezer. Oh and it's not all torture to can things, in fact it's kind of fun...and the transformation is complete!
Recently I bought The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving, and was very excited about it, I might add. It's full of all kinds of wonderful recipes for preserving almost anything. When I saw the recipe for Cranberry Rum Relish, I couldn't wait to make it. It's delicious and just tastes like the holidays. It would be great with turkey or chicken. I think it will be on our Thanksgiving table this year.

1/3 cup dark rum (75 mL)
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (50 mL)
Grated rind of 1 orange
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (750 mL)
1 cup granulated sugar (250 mL)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper (2 mL)

1. Combine rum, shallots and orange rind in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes until rum has reduced and mixture is a syrupy glaze.
2. Add cranberries and sugar. Stirring constantly, continue to cook until cranberries pop and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in pepper.

3. Process for 10 minutes for half-pint (250 mL) jars and 15 minutes for pint (500 mL) jars as directed below, or store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.
Makes 2 cups (500 mL)

I had small amount of relish leftover after canning the rest. I made a turkey sandwich on rosemary bread with sharp cheddar cheese and just pressed it in a hot pan with melted butter for a few minutes. It made an incredible sandwich. Now I know how to use up that leftover holiday turkey!