Friday, December 29, 2006

I'm not dead, I swear

Tulum, a Mayan ruin located south of Playa Del Carmen.

Things have been pretty slow around here lately -- just kind of hanging out and enjoying the post-Christmas quiet. They'll continue to be quiet on the blog until mid-January or so, as Shane and I heading to Playa Del Carmen in a few days. To say we're pretty excited would be a gross understatement. (I could try to transcribe my squeeing, but as my friend Jenny noted last night, even our dog Flurry can't hear sounds so highly pitched.)

So I'm signing off until 2007 but before I do, I just wanted to wish you a very happy New Year. Yay, 2007!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

'Tis the Season for Tasty Gifts!

We have been a lucky family this week.

First, my Uncle Anthony and (Aunt) Teresa sent us an annual Christmas ham from Heavenly Hams. It's Christmas dinner every year, and we love it!

Then, my Aunt Linda and Uncle Matt sent a Mrs. Field's Cookie Basket. The chocolate chip cookies disappeared rather quickly...

Next, an employer sent us a tower of pecan goodies from River Street Sweets. You can't go wrong with a crunchy pecan dipped in milk chocolate.

And then came the most surpristing gift of all -- especially because I'm not sure who it came from (no gift note): Two dozen bagels from H&H Bagels Midtown East, with cream cheese, lox AND about half-a-dozen black and white cookies! It's like being in New York again! All I need is a Sunday New York Times and a nagging nuerosis and I'm THERE!

Two final food mentions: the four of us went to Rochester today for a little Christmas shopping and stopped at the superlative KC Tea & Noodles for lunch. It's a tiny Chinese cafe, and I haven't had anything there that wasn't delicious. My favorite order is their garlic shrimp with white rice and a Taro bubble milkshake. Delicious, and I can get another NY fix by reading the ubiquitious copies of the NY Post scattered about the shop. (They make a wonderfully fragrant cup of jasmine tea, too.)

A little while later, we stopped in at Stever's candy shop. We were blown away by the variety of moulded, dipped, filled, and sprinkled chocolates. We picked up several foil-wrapped ornaments, a chocolate lollipop, a lemon lollipop (Kian still hates chocolate - sigh), a bag of spiced hard candies, and a box of chocolate Christmas miniatures filled with peanut butter.

I don't know what we're going to do with all this food, but it's a happy problem to have.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Les Petite Madeleines

Ready for their date with a cup of tea.
Sadie's class is exploring the world again, and this week, it was her group's turn to present on France. Her portion of the presentation was on food -- can you imagine a better topic for France?

Being in third grade, however, she didn't focus on coq au vin, baguettes, or crepes. She presented on French cooking techniques for "snails, frog legs, and sheep brains." Nothing like a little elementary school "Fear Factor."

Not willing to make les cuisses de grenouilles, I made a batch of madeleines for the class. According to Sadie, "everybody in the class LOVED them. But two kids hated them." (Heh. But now we know who the next Frank Bruni will be.)

Here's what I sent in with these delicate French cake-cookies: Madeleines (or petite madeleines, which the class is eating today) are a traditional French cookie from Commercy, a town of the Meuse département in northeastern France. More like a cake than a cookie, madeleines are usually eaten with tea or coffee and are identified by their shell-like shape. Traditional madeleines have a butter and lemon flavor, similar to pound cake. They can be made, however, in different flavors including vanilla, orange and chocolate. (Source:

Imagine: the next time a friend comes over for tasse de thé or café, you could offer them a plate of fresh-baked madeleines. Trés chic!

Madeleines (Recipe adapted from

2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup all purpose flour
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F. Generously butter and flour a Madeleine pan.* Using electric mixer, beat eggs and 2/3 cup sugar in large bowl just to blend. Beat in vanilla, lemon peel and salt. Add flour; beat just until blended. Gradually add cooled melted butter in steady stream, beating just until blended.

Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each indentation in pan. Bake until puffed and brown, about 16 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Gently remove from pan. Repeat process, buttering and flouring pan before each batch. (Can be made 1 day ahead.) Dust cooled cookies with powdered sugar.

*A metal mold with scallop-shaped indentations, sold at cookware stores. I think you might be able to use a mini muffin pan in a pinch.

Grade: A

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Butter and Jam Thumbprints

Fresh out of the oven.

Buttery and sweet, these are lovely holiday cookies. The best part, however, is the dollop of jam in the middle. Next time, I'll make bigger thumbprints to fit in more jam!
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
1 large egg
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped from pod, or 1/8 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup raspberry, cherry or strawberry jam
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.

In another bowl, whip the butter and the sugar with a hand-held mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until just combined. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing just until incorporated.

Scoop the dough into 1-inch balls with a cookie or ice cream scoop and roll in sugar. Place about 2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Press a thumbprint into the center of each ball, about 1/2-inch deep. Fill each indentation with about 3/4 teaspoon jam.

Bake cookies until the edges are golden, about 15 minutes. (For even color, rotate the pans from top to bottom about halfway through baking.) Cool cookies on the baking sheets. Store cookies in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days.

Grade: A

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Retro Recipe Challenge #5: Boozy Holiday Round Up!

On the Eighteenth of December, Teresa of Vintage Style Files sent to the RRC a Cornish Hens Plymouth entree!

On the Eighteenth of December, Emily from Appetitive Behavior sent to the RRC, a Scarlett O'Hara drink!

On the Eighteenth of December, Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once sent to the RRC, a Singapore Sling!

On the Eighteenth of December, Culinarily Curious from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity sent to the RRC, a Bavarian Mint!

On the Eighteenth of December, Kirsten of Kirsten's Home Cooking Adventures sent to the RRC, a Wassail taste treat!

On the Eighteenth of December, Kevin of Seriously Good sent to the RRC, a Bourbon cake recipe!

On the Eighteenth of December, Brilynn of Jumbo Empanadas sent to the RRC, a Coffee-Chocolate drink!

On the Eighteenth of December, Acme of Acme Instant Food sent to the RRC, a Manhattan cocktail!

On the Eighteenth of December, Breadchick of The Sour Dough sent to the RRC, a Sleigh Bell toddy!

Happy Boozy Holidays to you all!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Brown Sugar Chex Mix

'Tis the season to be a lazy -- no, let's use a better term -- efficient cook. With kids jingle-belling, and everyone telling you to be of good cheer, there really isn't much time to do any cooking other than roasting those marshmallows.

But there's always a need for last-minute gift, and making them in your kitchen is a nice, and potentially economical, way to go. Some recipes even come together in a flash.

This is one of those recipes. In about half an hour, you'll have a tasty treat that virtually everyone will like. (It's not fancy or pretentious, which may be why it's so popular.) It's reminicest of caramel corn, and you can add or subtract treats to add to the caramel. Here's the original recipe, which is a bit different from the one below. For a chocolate (and super sweet) hit, you might even mix in some plain M&Ms after the caramel has cooled. Nuts would be a fun add in, too; I'm not a peanut fan, but pecans would be delicious.

Brown Sugar Chex Mix

8 cups Corn or Rice Chex cereal
1 cup mini pretzels
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla

In large microwavable bowl, mix cereal and pretzels.

In medium microwavable bowl, microwave butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla uncovered on High about 2 minutes or until mixture is boiling, stirring after 1 minute. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated.

Microwave uncovered on High 5 to 6 minutes, stirring and scraping bowl after every minute. Spread on waxed paper to cool, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up. Store in airtight container.

Makes about 19, 1/2 cup servings.

Grade: A

Friday, December 15, 2006

RRC#5 Deadline Today

If you've got a retro recipe that shouldn't be near an open flame, today's the last day to send it in! Shoot an email with your blog link to RetroRecipeChallengeATgmailDOTcom by tonight at 11:59pm EST. Full details and resources can still be found here. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Peppermint Cacao Cocktail

Well, it's not a retro drink recipe, but it's a lovely little cocktail, chock-full of holiday cheer. Plus, what's more festive than a drink served in a martini glass?

For a prettier (but just as tasty) drink, use white creme de cacao.

Peppermint Cacao cocktail

¼ oz (1 ½ tsp) peppermint schnapps
½ oz (1 Tbsp) vodka
1 ¼ oz (2 ½ Tbsp) crème de cacao
1 small peppermint hard candy

Fill shaker with ice cubes and add cocktail ingredients. Shake until icy cold, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with peppermint candy.

Grade: A

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Little Help?

#1: Sadie's class is exploring the countries of the world, and I've been called upon to make a French recipe for her third grade class. I'm looking for something that won't chain me to the kitchen (it's due next Wednesday - a mere FIVE days before Christmas) and will appeal to the palates of 8 year olds.

#2: Sherry, a friend from high school, is looking for a diabetic-friendly chocolate chip cookie recipe (and any other diabetic-friendly recipes) using Stevia. Does anyone have any tried-and-true suggestions?

If so, please leave a comment below or shoot me an email at LauraRebeccasKitchenATgmailDOTcom. Thanks!

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Rich in cocoa flavor, these lovely Christmas cookies arepunctuated by crunchy bits of mint. I didn't add the crushed candies to the batter, thinking it would be too much but I regret that decision. An additional minty snap would have added a nice counterpoint to the chewiness of the chocolate cookie.

A note: I chilled the batter overnight (only 30 minutes in the refrigerator caused the cookies to spread too much), then rolled tablespoonfuls of the batter into balls, squashed them into disks, and pushed the tops into the crushed candies.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
3 large eggs
45 round swirled peppermint candies, coarsely crushed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add sugar, extracts, and eggs; mix on medium-low speed until combined. Reduce speed to low; mix in flour mixture. Stir in one-third of the candies. Refrigerate dough until firm, about 30 minutes (or wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight).

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, form mounds of dough; dip tops into remaining candies to coat. Place cookies, candy sides up, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies until just set, about 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days. Makes about 3 dozen.

Grade: A

Monday, December 11, 2006

Five Days Left 'till the RRC#5 Deadline!

When I rolled out this challenge, I said that I loved Christmas-time but found it stressful. And this year is no different: Christmas is fifteen days away, I haven't finished my shopping, I have 4 packages to send out, I have a mound of papers to correct, there's family coming in for a visit on Thursday, my house needs a thorough cleaning -- the list goes on.

So help me and everyone else under the Christmas Crunch relax by sending in your retro drink or boozy recipe to RetroRecipeChallengeATgmailDOTcom by Friday, December 15 at 11:59pm EST. Full details and resources can be found here. Cheers!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

On the Record about Cookin' In the 'Cuse

God, do I feel sterotypical doing this: here I am, blogging about an interview on blogging.

I just got off the phone with a Syracuse journalism student (I don't want to name her, because I didn't ask if I could) doing a profile on Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, the author of Cookin' in the 'Cuse. I link to Jennifer's site, and vice versa, and so I guess that made me a decent source.

I hope I did Jennifer's blog justice, but all I could keep thinking was that this student's assignment is the exact same assignment my Journalism students are working on right now (the profile piece), and I suck at giving good quotes. And I used the adjective "very" way too many times. AND I actually used the term "blogosphere" which I hate. All in all, if this reporter uses my quotes, I'm pretty sure I'll come across as someone you'll want to smack.

So Jennifer, allow me to say this: I love your blog, I love your commitment to using local and organic foods in cooking, and I hope I conveyed that in the interview.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Stuffed Artichokes

Posts will be a bit spotty this week and next; it's the end-of-the-semester crunch (grading papers) plus an out of town trip (moderating panels).

Until things get back to normal, I'd like to share this recipe for stuffed artichokes. I picked it up in an Italian Cooking class and have made it countless numbers of times. It never disappoints.

It takes a bit of effort but, trust me, it's worth it.

Stuffed Artichokes

4 artichokes
4 TBS fresh basil, minced
2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup or more (probably much more) Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
2 tsp. chopped garlic
S&P to taste

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Boil chokes in salted water for 15 mins. Drain and allow to cool.
Remove stems and set aside Trim the tops of the leaves and scoop out the choke. Sprinkle center of chokes with a little oil & salt.

Peel stems and chop finely. In a bowl, combine Parmesan, breadcrumbs, basil, garlic, oil and choke stems. (Add extra oil if dry.) Stuff each choke with filling, place in well-oiled baking dish, drizzle with EVOO, and cook for 30 mins. or until done. The artichokes are done when a knife slides easily into the base of the choke. Serve immediately.

Grade: A+

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Little Bit of Noterity

Natasha Li Pickowicz, Arts Editor for the Ithaca Times, included me in a round-up of local food bloggers (see below). Yay!

Now that this is out, I look forward to the media stampeding toward me, ready to shower me with continual praise.

By: Natasha Li Pickowicz
We turn to blogs for the latest new rock band, up-to-the-minute political commentary, avant-garde fashion trends, and discreet gossip monitoring - so why not look to blogs for food, recipes, and cooking advice?
In the past year, food and wine blogs have become a legitimate alternative to unwieldy cookbooks and digressive cooking television shows. What could be easier - and cheaper - than navigating your favorite bookmarked food blog as you prepare for the winter holidays?
There are plenty of upstate New York food blogs to read before Turkey day hits this week. Whether you're looking for pictorial inspiration, excruciatingly detailed step-by-step guides, or just friendly, colloquial chatter, these are the ones to read when you're planning your Thanksgiving.
Sites like Epicurious (, Chow (, Gilded Fork (, and television giant Food Network ( will always remain staples for those searching for free, accessible cooking ideas online, but there are plenty of other independent food blogs worth monitoring.
For the more adventurous (and advanced) amateur chef, Munich-based Delicious Days ( is the godfather of food blogs, with magazine-quality photographs, gorgeous, simple design, and exotic, unusual recipes (such as pasta from scratch or quince paste).
Simply Recipes ( is an easy-to-navigate, vast resource, especially for those looking for more traditional Thanksgiving ideas. Blogger Elise links to hundreds of other food blogs, and her post "Thanksgiving Planning" is immensely helpful and will spur many into Thanksgiving-cooking overdrive.
Cooking in the 'Cuse ( is a regional favorite, and is published by Rev. Jennifer Baskerville Burrows, the rector of Grace Episcopal Church and Episcopal chaplain at Syracuse University. She places a strong emphasis on sustainable and organic cooking.
For ideas for fun day-trip ideas (like the Burrville Cider Mill) and information on regional cuisine, sustainable cooking, and heirloom varieties visit Syracuse-transplant (and former Ithaca resident) blogger Couteau Bonswan ( Other local food and wine blogs include the modestly designed but useful Laura Rebecca's Kitchen (, a blogger based in the Finger Lakes region. For more of a national flavor, local food blog (and Cornell hotelie undergrad) The Hungry Hedonist ( writes equally about Ithaca spots as well as food meccas NYC and San Francisco. But be warned: There are no recipes offered here, as this site focuses entirely on restaurant reviews.
Cooking with Ideas ( is written by Bibliochef, a professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. While her blog is topically more digressive, she provides plenty of links to Finger Lakes-related food stops.
For an emphasis on what local wines to pair with your Thanksgiving feast, visit Finger Lakes Weekend Wino (, which is self-explanatory.
Read more on my blog, Popcorn Youth (, or shoot me an email with your favorite food blog at

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mashed Turnips & Carrots

God, I'd forgotten how much I love these. Somehow, they're bitter and sweet, creamy but not thick. I will be attacking these tomorrow.

Mashed Turnips & Carrots
2 turnips, peeled and cubed
6 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 - 4 Tbsp butter
Salt to taste
A splash of milk

Place turnips and carrots in a large pot and fill with water until it just covers the vegatables. Add a bit of salt (maybe a tablespoon) and heat over high heat. After the pot has come to a boil, cook veggies until fork tender (about 20 minutes).
Drain pot and transfer veggies to the bowl of a stand mixer. Add butter and milk, and mash to desired consistancy.

Grade: A+

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Don't Miss The Frozen Pumpkin Dessert Squares!

Eliza's Frozen Pumpkin Dessert Squares: pretty as a picture!

In the RRC#4 Round-up, I neglected to include Eliza's submission for Frozen Pumpkin Dessert Squares. They look like a great twist on a Thanksgiving classic, so please check out the dessert section of the RRC#4 for her creation!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Company's Coming Mashed Potatoes

There's a little bit of a story behind this: a few years ago, I was eating lunch at a church pot-luck. Pot-lucks are not know for culinary excellence. But there was one gem among the casseroles: a bowl of mashed potatoes.

I fwaped some on my paper plate, and settled in among everyone else to tuck in. Everything was fine, but the potatoes -- they were something special. Creamy, flavorful, delicious; they were the best I'd ever tasted.

So I hunted down the woman who made them and she -- generously -- gave me the recipe. I've made them a number of times in the past couple of years since then, and I've never had anyone not RAVE about them. They really are that good. I will never forget the first Thanksgiving I spent with Shane's family; I made these potatoes and people almost licked their plates. (Not a bad bit of in-law insurance.)

These potatoes can be made 4 to 5 days ahead, just be sure to leave plenty of time (around 45 minutes) for re-heating in the oven. Having said that, you can reheat them in the microwave, too.

Right out of the oven!

Company's Coming Mashed Potatoes

8-10 med. potatoes
16 oz. sour cream
8 oz cream cheese (softened)
1/3 cup chives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
4 TBS butter

Peel potatoes, then boil until tender. With electric mixer, mash potatoes, sour cream, and cream cheese until it reaches your desired consistency. (If making ahead, cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to use.)

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Fold chives into the potatoes and add salt and pepper. Transfer to a casserole dish. Dot with butter and sprinkle with paprika, covering with foil. Bake 35 minutes.

Serves 8 to 10.

Grade: A+

Planning Our Thanksgiving Menu

I'm happily curled up on my couch, home after teaching an 8 am course. Snow is falling outside, dusting everything with a glaze of white. The only sound is the ticking of pendulumed clock -- it's the perfect back-drop to tinker with our Thanksgiving menu.

~Thanksgiving 2006 Menu~
Dinner for 7 (5 adults, 2 children)


Golden Corn & Black Bean Salsa served with tortilla chips
Crudite Platter with Spinach Dip

-The Main Course-

Each place setting with be adorned with a
three-dimensional, foil wrapped chocolate turkey

Company's Coming Mashed Potatoes
Green Bean Casserole
Candied Yams - Mom
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Garlic - Dad
Cranberry Sauce - Nancy


As I start to cook, I'll update the above with hyperlinks to my results. In the meantime, many of the above are linked to source recipes (some of them are my own, however). I'm surprised by the number of essential Thanksgiving favorites that are "commercial" recipes: the Spinach Dip is by Knorr, the Green Bean Casserole has both Campbell's and French's products, the pumpkin pie is by Libby.

Still, I guess those are safe, comfortable brands resulting in safe, comfortable food. And that is a hallmark of Thanksgiving: the familiar and the homey.

Tags: , ,

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Bombay Sapphire Martini by Guest Blogger Shane

This post is abbreviated from the original, found here.

The Reverend Horton Heat once said, "I live my life on a layer of ice" and indeed, in my estimation, this is the key to a good martini of any sort, but most especially the Bombay Sapphire.

The key ingredient is unsurprisingly Bombay Sapphire Gin (or to the politically correct, Mumbai Sapphire Gin, hehe). Also, it is well worth noting that a fine martini glass is required for maximum enjoyment. A very thin rim is preferred.

First off, fill your cocktail shaker with crushed ice.

Second, place two jiggers of Bombay Sapphire Gin into the shaker.

Third, shake vigorously, until frost forms on the shaker. This breaks up the ice creating a somewhat slushy mixture which is your first key, and also fully releases the botanicals, which is your second key.

Fourth, put a pony of Martini & Rossi Extra Dry Vermouth into the gin glass. Gently swirl the martini glass to coat the entire inside of the glass with vermouth (much like you would with wine to see its "legs").

Fifth, give the gin a few more good shakes, then using the filter, pour it into the martini glass, it should come to about 1-2 mm below the rim. A pleasant release of botanicals, smelling somewhat like fresh pine needles, should fill your senses. After a few seconds a layer of ice should form on the surface of the martini.

Sixth, if so inclined, drop a couple of Spanish Queen Olives into the martini. For Christmas time, dropping two or three Peppermint Starlight Mints is a very enjoyable holiday alternative to the olives.

Voila! Enjoy!
Grade: A

Friday, November 17, 2006

Retro Recipe Challenge #4: Fall Favorites Round-Up

"Welcome, everyone, to the Junior League's 'Cats in Trees Benefit Dinner.' As you probably know, cats getting stuck in trees has reached epidemic levels in our community, diverting our firemen from their primary task. Just last week, a church, a hospital, and a convent all burned down while the Fire Department was busy getting Queenie out of a maple tree. But before we get to our keynote speaker, please enjoy the lavish spread provided by our wonderful members."

~Soups, Starters & Sides~

Brilynn at Jumbo Empanadas is ladeling out Borscht .

Ulrike aka ostwestwind at Küchenlatein serves up Swede Mash, with a side of sausage.

For your salad, Gillian at Food History has salad cream .

(Artist's interpretation.)

Hometown girl Laura Rebecca has Poppin Fresh Barbecups .

(Artist's interpretation.)

~Entrees ~

Em from Kitchem cooked up Beef Bourguignonne .

Anh from Ahn's Food Blog created a lovely Beef Stroganoff .

Cathy from Not Eating Out in New York offers the exotic Moussaka.

Emily at Appetitive Behavior melts comfort food fans hearts with Susan's Macaroni, Tomato and Cheese.

If you can't decide what to order, sit back and let Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness serve you Irish Stew, Brown Bread, and Dark Gingerbread.


Becke of Columbus Foodie is dishing out Autumn Apple Squares .

La Vida Dulce at La Vida Dulce offers up that perenial favorite, Cranberry Wine Mold.
(An interpretation.)

Rachel at Food Maven cooked up Betty Crocker's recipe for Chocolate Fudge

(Yet another artist's interpretation)

Breadchick at The Sour Dough baked up some Maple Shortbread Bars.

Shandon at How's Annie whipped up some Maple Sponge. (She's less than thrilled about it, but I bet it's delicious.)

Last, but certainly not least, the loverly Alicat at Something So Clever has brought Baked Doughnut Puffs.

"And that's the spread, ladies! I want to extend my gratitude to all the wonderful chefs who helped make this luncheon possible! If there are any dishes I've left out, please let me know so I can put them out and everyone will be able to sample them. Please enjoy your meals!

"And don't forget about next month's holiday celebration! I hope you can join us!"

Retro Recipe Challenge #5: Boozy Holiday

I look forward to the holidays each year -- baking, listening to Christmas carols, sending out holiday cards -- but I also find them stressful. The over-crowded malls, the bleeding of money, the desire to get everything just right; sometimes it's just too much.

And that's when a visit with Johnny Walker comes in handy. He and his friends Captain Morgan, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and the rest really help take the edge off a stressful holiday season.

You may say I'm a boozer, but I'm not the only one.

As such, the theme for Retro Recipe Challenge #5 is Boozy Holiday. Here's the nitty gritty:

Cook up a holiday-appropriate dish featuring alcohol OR mix up a festive holiday drink using a recipe first published between 1900 and 1980. For help in searching for a recipes, visit “helpful links” on the sidebar of Retro Recipe Challenge Blog.

If your religion or lifestyle prevents you from consuming alcohol, then you may submit a mocktail recipe.

Take a picture of your creation(if possible)
Post the recipe, the picture and your results on your blog. Please include:
--The year the recipe was published
--Where the recipe came from
--How it tasted
--A tag for --A link to this post

Send an email to RetroRecipeChallengeATgmailDOTcom by Friday, December 15 at 11:59pm EST. Please include:
--RRC#5 in the subject line
--your first name or blogging nickname
--your blog's name and your blog's URL
--the recipe name and the post's URL

I hope today you'll join us, and the world will drink as one.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Retro Recipe Challenge #4 Fall Favorites: DEADLINE TODAY

This is it folks; we're down to the wire! Get your Retro Fall Favorites into the RRC#4: Fall Favorites by today at 11:59pm.

I'm aiming to post the round-up on Thursday, but I think that's a bit ambitious -- definately by Friday, though.

I'll also be announcing the RRC#5 ... are you dying with anticipation?!?!?


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Spirited Brown Sugar Pecan Pie

Anytime I've ever made pecan pie, I've just used the recipe on the back of the Karo Corn Syrup bottle. It's simple, it's fast, and it's delicious.

Shane was sick this weekend and requested a pecan pie (chicken soup too, but the pie took higher importance). I wanted to branch out, and found this recipe on It came out of the oven looking lovely, despite the fact that I'd misread the recipe and added too much butter.

That was Sunday night, and we didn't have a chance to taste it. On Monday morning, Shane was feeling better. Me, not so much.

I caught his damn cold. Sore throat, stuffy head, aches and -- most telling of all -- no appetite for sweets. Maybe at one point, a fever, but we always lose thermometers so I'm really not sure.

So, I haven't actually eaten this pie yet. But Shane did last night, and said something really emphatic and nice about it, but I was too busy hallucinating about yarn (I swear to God) and didn't catch exactly what he said. The jist was that the pie is delicious.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, I did have a slice. It's delicious, with a richer, more complex flavor than the pie the Karo recipe produces.

My pie is soupier than it should be, but I'm chalking that up to excessive butter. Follow the recipe, and you'll have a very nice pecan pie.

Spirited Brown Sugar Pecan Pie
1 pie crust
2 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon Scotch whisky
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Line 9-inch glass pie dish with dough. Crimp edge decoratively. Whisk sugar, eggs, butter, Scotch, vanilla, and cinnamon in large bowl to blend. Mix in nuts. Pour filling into dough-lined dish.
Bake pie until filling is slightly puffed and set in center, covering edges with foil if browning too quickly, about 40 minutes. Cool pie completely at room temperature. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Grade: A

Monday, November 13, 2006

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (aka, Blondies)

Tasty little buggers.

Essentially, these were a vehicle to try out a bag of Nestle Chocolatier 62-percent Cacao bittersweet chocolate morsels. Shane and I tasted them along with Ghirardelli's 60-precent Cacao bittersweet chips. Alone on the tongue, I preferred the Nestle (!!!) but in baking, the Ghirardelli still has my heart (and palate). (Shane liked the Nestle alone, too, but I forgot to ask him if he preferred it to Ghirardelli in a baked good.)

In any event, these cookie bars have a lot of virtues: easy to whip up, comforting, chocolately. They're not my favorite, and they won't make anyone swoon with pleasure, but that doesn't mean you won't be sneaking samples from the cookie jar, either.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars (source)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (about 4 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup chopped pecans (I used walnuts - LR)

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Butter and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan.

Mix flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in medium bowl. Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Remove saucepan from heat. Add sugar and whisk to blend. Whisk in eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually stir in flour mixture (batter will be thick). Fold in chocolate and nuts.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake blondies until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Cool blondies in pan on rack. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.) Cut into squares and serve.

Makes about 24.

Grade: B to B+ range

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Retro Recipe Challenge #4 Fall Favorites: Only TWO DAYS Left!

I woke up this morning in a bit of a panic: Thanksgiving is next week! What will I make? ACK!

Help me out, guys! Get your Retro Fall Favorites into the RRC#4: Fall Favorites by this Wednesday, November 15, at 11:59pm and give me and everybody hosting T-Day some ideas.

'Cause Turkey ala King ain't gonna cut it.