Saturday, December 17, 2011

Caramel Corn

I was missing in action over Christmas. Let's be real here, over December. Having a big girl job really puts a cramp in my baking/blogging style. So I missed chex mix and crab cakes, cut-out cookies and corn casserole. Next year, next year. So, I'll try to make up for it in the new year.

This salty sweet caramel corn goes a long way towards making up.

{Caramel Corn}
6 quarts (3 large bags) simply salted or natural popcorn
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla

In a saucepan, melt butter and stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Then boil without stirring for five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the soda and vanilla.
Put popcorn in two large shallow baking pans and gradually pour caramel over popcorn, stirring well. Bake at 250 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and dump the popcorn onto sheets of waxed paper to cool. When completely cool, break apart and store in an airtight container for easy, delicious caramel corn that's perfect for parties and gifts, or for noshing on at all hours of the day and night!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread

I heart bananas. But this love is very conditional. My naners have to be firm, blemish-free and quite green. So what to do with very yellow bananas, sitting on the counter getting mushy and starting to brown? Throw them out without a second thought? 

Normally, yes, without even a hint of remorse. But then I'd miss out on something amazing. Moist banana bread heavily laced with semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts. Unbelievably delicious and perfect for a November day. 

{Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread}
adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook


1 1/4 cup sugar 
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter, softened 
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 teaspoon 
vinegar added to 1/2 cup milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and move oven rack into low position. Grease bottom only of a loaf pan, 9 by 5 by 3. Mix sugar and butter, stir in eggs, bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt until just moistened. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. I covered my loaf with tin foil to avoid excessive browning. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Then remove from pan and let cool at least 2 hours before slicing.

This quick bread is moist, hefty, nutty and oozing with chocolate. Suggestions: slice it, butter it, cover it in jam. Dip it in hot chocolate, spread it with peanut butter, turn in into French toast. Or eat in in hunks, straight out of the oven. The possibilities are endless.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pumpkin Dip

What to do with leftover pumpkin? Well, in my kitchen, there is no such thing. Being completely obsessed with everything pumpkin, from beers to butters to bagels and beyond, every little speck of pumpkin usually gets used up.

Which means it's time to go out and get another can. 

What I love about pumpkin is that is melds so well with my favorite spices. All those ones that make you feel warm and fuzzy and festive and cuddley: nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, etc. So here's one way to coat anything and everything in all that spicy pumpkin goodness. 

{Pumpkin Dip}
6-8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

Beat together and transfer to a pretty bowl. Chill before serving with gingersnaps, animal crackers, pretzels or whatever suits your fancy. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Friday, November 18, 2011


Chocolate and peanut butter. Does it get any better? Yes, it does, when it is bite sized and served on a stick. 

My friends and I are having a little party this weekend to watch the OSU game, complete with these beautiful Buckeyes (appropriate, go Buckeyes!), snacks, plenty of cheese, spiked cider, cucumber vodka and craft beers.

 Makes about 40

For the peanut butter base:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 stick butter, softened
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
 1 pound powdered sugar 

For the chocolate coating: 
5-6 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 tsp shaved paraffin

Cover a baking sheet with wax paper. Mix peanut butter, butter, cream and vanilla together. Stir in powdered sugar until smooth.  Roll peanut butter mixture into small balls (about 3/4 inch) and place on prepared baking sheet. Stick with toothpicks and chill for at least an hour.

After chilling, melt the chocolate with the paraffin using either a double boiler or a microwave, stirring occasionally. Dip each buckeye into the chocolate, leaving some peanut butter uncovered at the top. Let cool and return to refrigerator.

I'm sure everyone has had these out of the wrapper, but that's the store bought kind. The fake-tasting-what's-that-weird-aftertaste kind. The too-perfect, too-sweet, no-stick, no-fun kind. Make these. Try these. Love these. These classic holiday treats are always a hit! And just a tip, these buckeyes only up the ante on the Buckeye State Ice Cream. Do it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Molasses Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches

What do you know, more pumpkin. But hey, it's in season, so why not?

Especially when one of my favorite flavors, pumpkin, meets up with my true love, ice cream. Together, they're unstoppable. Add in molasses cookies and the combination is to die for.

{Molasses Pumpkin Ice Cream Sandwiches}

Follow this recipe for the molasses cookies.
{Pumpkin Ice Cream }
 Roughly adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream's Roasted Pumpkin 5-Spice Ice Cream

1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon corn starch
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teaspoon cloves

Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the cream cheese, salt, honey and pumpkin until smooth. In a large 4-quart saucepan, combine the milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and spices over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the corn starch mixture. Return to a boil and cook for another 1 minute. Then, whisk the hot mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Chill. Then freeze according to ice cream maker's instructions. 

Eat like this, or make into sandwiches following these steps...

After the ice cream begins to pull away from the sides, pour it into a shallow baking dish in a 1/2 inch layer. Freeze for a few hours. Later, use a cookie cutter (the size of your molasses cookies) and cut the desired number of ice cream sandwiches. Sandwich these between two cookies and voila, beautiful ice cream sandwiches!

Store the rest of the pumpkin ice cream in an airtight container. Cover ice cream with parchment or wax paper to avoid freezer burn. Enjoy later with pecans and caramel, or my personal favorite, drizzled with hot fudge.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Seeds: Two Ways

Happy Halloween! There is something so festive about this day, whether it involves dressing up our dogs in adorable costumes or handing out candy to trick-or-treaters or getting precariously confident with a very sharp knife while carving pumpkins into works of art.

And after carving your pumpkin masterpiece, here's what to do with those slimy seeds. Quick, easy pumpkin seeds, and oh so good, two ways. Toss with olive oil and cinnamon sugar, or, if you've eaten a few too many pieces of Halloween candy, throw them in sea salt, pepper and a dash of red pepper. A perfect, healthy salty or sweet snack. 

Pumpkin Seeds, two ways: 

{Sweet Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds}

pumpkin seeds
olive oil
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
sea salt, to taste

{Salt and Pepper Pumpkin Seeds}

pumpkin seeds
olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse pumpkin seeds and soak in salted water. Pat dry. Separate into two bowls. In one, toss with the ingredients for the Sweet Cinnamon Sugar Pepitas. In the other, toss with the ingredients for Salt and Pepper Pepitas. Place on two separate baking sheets and roast in 10 minute increments, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crispy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal

It was one of those mornings. Dark. Dreary. Rainy. Almost too grey to bother ever getting out from under my cozy jersey sheets, book in hand. Until I thought of breakfast. 

On a day like this, everyone needs a little something more cheerful than than an everyday bowl of cereal. Today called for something warm and homey with all the best comfort flavors of fall. 

{Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal}
makes two servings
 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
pinch of ground cloves
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk of choice
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
handful pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together all ingredients and pour into ramekins. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon and pecans, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. 

These come out of the oven piping hot and smelling like pumpkin pie. For breakfast. I'm not going to lie, I couldn't stop at just one. This will start the day off right, trust me.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bangkok Peanut Ice Cream

Now that's it's getting cold, it's time to start making ice cream that's hot. That's right, you heard me. Hot ice cream. Spicy, savory, sweet ice cream, with initial hints of peanut butter and toasted coconut followed by a kick of cayenne- it's like a party in your mouth. Thanks again, Jeni.

{Bangkok Peanut Ice Cream}
Makes about 1 quart


1 1/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste


First, toast the coconut. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread coconut out on a baking sheet and toast in oven, stirring and turning every few minutes, until it is evenly lightly browned. Keep an eye on it, coconut burns quickly. Mine took about 7 minutes. Set aside to let cool.

Now for the Ice Cream.

This peanut butter ice cream pops with flecks of cayenne and coconut. Wow.

Mix 2 tablespoons of the whole milk with the cornstarch is a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the cream cheese peanut butter and salt.

In a large 4-quart sauce pan, combine the rest of the milk, the cream, coconut milk, sugar, corn syrup and honey. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch/milk mixture. Then bring back to a boil for 1 minute, stirring often.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the peanut butter mixture. Whisk in the coconut and cayenne. Put ice cream batter into a plastic bag and chill in an ice bath until cold, about 30 minutes. Then freeze according to ice cream maker instructions. When it's done, pack into a storage container, cover with wax or parchment paper and chill in the freezer for at least 4 hours.

This ice cream will literally knock your socks off. I'm really, really excited about this one! It's cold and delicious, with a hot kick at the end. This is delicious by itself, or take it to the next level with toasted coconut, peanuts and chocolate sauce. Eat and be warmed!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

October is National Cookie Month!

Time to celebrate by going all out on a new cookie recipe. Don't get me wrong, I'm obsessed with my very own classic chocolate chip cookie, but Cookie Month calls for something special. Something with cookie chutzpah. Something Times-worthy, with multiple flours, lots of butter, oozing chocolate and several hours in the fridge, chilling to perfection.

These cookies, well, they have style.

{Famous Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies}

Adapted from The New York Times
Makes 16 cookies
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt, for sprinkling
extra flour

1. Sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a medium sized bowl.
2. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, until just moistened. Stir in the chocolate until evenly added throughout the dough. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the dough, and refrigerate for 24 to 72 hours.
3. When you are ready to bake, bring the dough to room temperature and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Scoop your dough out onto baking sheet. A #40 ice cream scoop works well, which is about the size of 2 tablespoons, but you can make them even larger. Sprinkle the cookies lightly with a bit of sea salt and bake for 10-12 minutes.
 Note: I had to add about a cup more flour than this recipe calls for, because my first batch turned out horribly and embarrassingly flat. If that happens to you, more flour does the trick. 
4. Allow the cookies to cool for a minute on the baking sheet, then remove and let cool completely.

These buttery, chocolaty cookies are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Milk is highly recommended. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sarah's Rugalech

This one goes out to my friend Sarah... the girl who befriended me as a shy freshman, taught be how to say cool words like shlep and convinced me that I shouldn't wear my hair parted down the middle. She invited me to her family's Rosh Hashanah and introduced me to her amazing, mouth-watering chocolate chip walnut rugelach. The gefilte fish, not so much.

Thank you for the recipe. I love you.

{Sarah's Rugelach}
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sour cream
1 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese
2 sticks of cold, unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips -or- raisins
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1. Cut cold butter and cream cheese into bits. In a food processor, pulse flour, salt, butter cream cheese and sour cream until crumbly.

2. Shape crumbly mixture into four equal disks. Wrap each disk and chill for two hours or up to two days.

3. Roll each disk into a 9-inch roand, keeping other disks chilled until ready to roll them. 

4. Combine sugar, cinnamon, chopped walnuts and chocolate chips and sprinkle onto the round. Press lighlty into dough. With a knife or pizza cutter, cut each round into 12 wedges.

5. Roll wedges from wide to narrow, you will end up with a point on the outside of the cookie. Place on ungreased baking sheets and chill rugelach for 20 minutes before baking. 

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then brush the tops of chilled rugelach with egg wash adn sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture (eyeball it).

7. Bake them for 20 minutes until lightly golden.

So, these are newbie rugelach. They aren't as perfectly rolled, the filling spilled all over the pan, but... they still taste great! Thank you thank you Sarah. Maybe one day I'll reach your masterful rugelach perfection.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pumpkin Cake

This is the time of year when I overdose on all things pumpkin. Pie. Lattes. Cookies. Butter. Ice Cream. Smoothies. Granola... the list never ends. Here's a new one: cake. And I apologize in advance for the extreme number of pumpkin posts that are sure to follow this one.. or I would, if they weren't all so wonderful.

It's fall. Embrace the pumpkin.

{Pumpkin Cake}

4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting

Beat together until smooth
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
 1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin in a large bowl until it is smooth. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Spread batter in a greased 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

This cake is moist and full of bold pumpkin flavor. The cream cheese frosting puts it over the top. Enjoy on a chilly fall evening!