Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! We spent Christmas with family, friends, and our new puppy. She's become a fast member of the family and received many treats for Christmas. We hosted a Christmas Eve Open House on Saturday, lighting both fireplaces and serving many wonderful appetizers, soups, and desserts. One of the desserts was this cake. I slightly adapted it to use up the rest of my white chocolate chips and buttermilk. Enjoy!

White Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
adapted from
Oven 375

Butter Crumb topping:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup cold butter, cut into chunks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1¼ cup plain flour
¼ cup cake flour
1 stick butter
¾ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¾ cup white chocolate chips
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup buttermilk
1½ eggs
1½ tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup white chocolate chips, for sprinkling on top of the cake
Powdered sugar, for sifting on top of the cake

 Lightly grease a 9×4 inch loaf pan, and line the inside of the pan with parchment paper or foil, and then great it as well.
Thoroughly mix the flour and sugar in a large bowl. Drop in chunks of butter, using a table knife, cut the butter into the flour until it reduces to the size of large pearls. Sprinkle vanilla extract over, working with fingertips, knead the mixture together until moist, clumpy lumps are formed.
Sift the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and baking soda. Then toss the white chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of the sifted mixture in a small bowl.

Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer for about 3 minutes.

Add in the sugar in 3 additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added. Add in egg and beat for 45 seconds.Mix in the vanilla extract.  Alternately add in the sifted mixture in 3 additions with the buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the sifted mixture. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to ensure even mixing.
Stir in white chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the baking pan, and spread evenly, smooth the top with rubber spatula.
Sprinkle the streusel topping evenly on the cake batter, make sure that the whole surface is covered.
Bake the cake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake turns out clean. The baked cake should pull away slightly from the sides of the pan.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the white chocolate chips evenly on top of the baked cake immediately.
Let the cake cool completely. Use the parchment or foil to lift the cake out of the pan, then sift some powered sugar on top of the cake. Serve.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Puppy Love

Welcome Miss Bailey, our new yellow lab puppy! She is a rescue dog, who traveled all the way from Texas to be a part of our family. At just three months old she has a lot of training and growing to do, but we all agreed that she was the prettiest one there. So far we have learned that she likes Straight No Chaser music, chasing cats, cuddling, and smelling everything. My husband has waited for this puppy for many years, it was like Christmas morning yesterday. Bailey was just as excited to meet him!

The dessert this week stems from a desire to purchase these at Starbucks every time I go there. They look so good. I've never actually purchased one, since I challenged myself to make them first.

Gingerbread Biscotti with White Chocolate
Oven 350

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1/3 cup molasses
3  cups all purpose four
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, mix the brown sugar, applesauce, eggs and molasses.In another bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.Mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture.

Divide the dough into 2 loaves, each loaf being about 4 inches wide and 9 inches long. Bake on a parchment lined or nonstick sprayed baking sheet for 35 minutes, until the loaves are firm.

Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them too cool for about 10 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.Slice each loaf diagonally into 1 inch thick slices (take the loaves off the baking sheet and slice them on a cutting board). Put the slices back onto the baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then flip the pieces and bake for another 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before you dip in the white chocolate. Melt 1/2 cup white chocolate chips and 3 tbsp vegetable oil in a bowl in the microwave. Dip the end of each biscotti into the melted chocolate or drizzle with chocolate for a different look. Cool on a piece of parchment paper.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rumour Has It

Yes, it's true...we do not have our Christmas tree yet! In my defense, we had every intention of getting it yesterday, but we went on a new tire adventure instead. My tire ran over a screw and needed to be replaced. Why not just get a patch? Easy enough, if your tire didn't already have a patch a few inches away! So our goal today is to get our Christmas tree and finally decorate the house. We do have candles in the window so we're not entirely Grinch.
We had my in-laws annual open house this weekend. I brought a variety of baked goods. I had a request to make sure that I put this one on the blog.

Dulce de Leche Bars
from Ladies Home Journal (
Oven 350
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 14 ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
Pinch salt
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Line a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing paper to extend on two sides.In a mixer bowl, beat together butter and confectioners' sugar on medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in extract, then flour and salt until combined well.

Press along bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan. Bake until just golden brown around edges, 12 to 18 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool completely

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, milk and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened and a deep caramel color, about 15 minutes. Pour over crust and spread evenly; refrigerate until completely cool, about 1 hour.

Melt semisweet chocolate; let cool slightly. Using a spatula, evenly spread over filling. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Using a knife, score chocolate layer into squares.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Birthday Cake

We were able to have our first fire in the fireplace in our new house. I absolutely love it! I've always wanted a fireplace, but unfortunately never had one in any place I've lived. We're learning all about buying seasoned wood, fire starters, saving newspaper, and taking care of the fire.
We also started putting up Christmas decorations. My husband displayed his collection of Hess trucks. His grandfather gave him one every Christmas from the age of 4 to the age of 23. We have shelves in the family room that can hold all of them. I displayed my father's collection of nutcrackers in the formal living room. As children we would give him a different nutcracker every Christmas. They look very nice guarding the fireplace in that room.
We took a trip to NYC yesterday. We took a tour of Citi Field, where the Mets play. We got to walk on the field, see the players lounge, and see David Wright's locker. We also saw the decorated windows at the department store, my favorite were the ones at Bergdorf Goodman. It was very busy, since it was the first weekend that the tree was lit. For dinner, we ate at a restaurant called Blue Smoke. We would highly recommend this restaurant, great food, atmosphere, and drinks.

This was a cake for my father's birthday today.

Birthday Cake
Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Oven 350


2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Grease 2 round cake pans with butter.
Make 2 circles on a piece of parchment paper by tracing the bottom of the cake pan. Cut out the circles and press 1 circle into the bottom of each pan. Grease the paper with more butter.
Sprinkle some flour in each pan, and shake and tilt the pans to coat the bottom and sides evenly. Turn the pans upside down and tap out the extra flour.

Mix the dry ingredients
To make the cake, put the flour, baking powder and salt into a sifter and sift into a bowl.
Make the batter
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and vanilla on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one is added.

Turn off the mixer, add about one-third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Pour in 2/3 cup of the milk and beat just until blended.

Repeat, adding about one-third of the flour, the remaining 2/3 cup milk and then the rest of the flour, beating after each addition just until blended.

Fill the pans
Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with the rubber spatula. Pour half of the batter into one prepared pan and the other half into the second pan. Using the rubber spatula, spread the batter evenly and smooth the top.

Bake and cool the cake
Put the pans in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the pans from the oven and set them on wire cooling racks to cool for 20 minutes.

Turn each pan upside down onto the rack and lift off the pan. Peel off the parchment and let the cakes cool completely.

Melt the chocolate
To make the frosting, melt the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water in a saucepan, stirring often with a wooden spoon until smooth, about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat. Using oven mitts, remove the bowl and set aside to let the chocolate cool slightly.

Combine the frosting ingredients
In a bowl, using the electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-low speed until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with the rubber spatula. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and salt, and beat on low speed until smooth and fluffy.

Add the chocolate and cream and beat on low until well blended. Frost and decorate the cake as desired (see tip at right). Serves 12.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Twist

I thought I'd share some things that annoy me:
1) Walking by the same person you've already walked by in the dairy, produce, and frozen food aisles.
2) An open parenthesis that is never closed (like this
3) When you're paying for something in a store and they ask you what ZIP Code you live in.
4) When the driver pushes the unlock button, but you pull the handle at the same moment, and remain locked out.
5) When a stranger asks you for the time, and your fear that you won't be able to answer in an appropriate time span causes you to blurt out, "9:17. No, 10:17! No! 9:17!"
6) When you thank the cashier for packaging your groceries but your attempt at brightening her day elicits no discernible reaction.
7) When the car driving behind you has a ski rack attached to the top, making it look like a police car in your rear view mirror.

(from "Don't You Just Hate That?" by Scott Cohen)

Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Roll Crust
adapted from
Oven 350

Cinnamon Roll Crust:
Enough Pie Crust for a 9 inch pie
ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter/margarine

Roll out pie crust on a lightly floured surface. Brush with butter and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon. Roll up tightly and slice into 1/2-inch rounds, like miniature cinnamon rolls.
Press miniature cinnamon rolls, flat side down, evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch glass pie plate, making sure there are no spaces between the rolls. Set aside.

Pie Filling:
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Whisk eggs, egg yolk and sugar in large bowl until blended. Mix in flour, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Stir in pumpkin and butter, then buttermilk. Pour filling into crust. Bake until set (center will puff slightly) about 45-60 minutes. Cool completely.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Better Late than Never

I finished my first administration class on Monday. So happy that I have my Monday night back and part of my weekends! And I finally got my diploma for my master's degree in the mail...just a few months later. My husband and I went and got a frame for it tonight and put it up in our stairwell with the rest of our degrees. It looks good and feels much more official, especially since I didn't walk in a graduation ceremony. My sister, Audrey, requested an ice cream cake for her 20th birthday. So I purchased one of those but decided to make some dessert to bring also. It's dairy-free and can easily be adapted to make two or more loaves. If you don't like raisins, you could use chocolate chips or walnuts.

Pumpkin Carrot Raisin Bread
adapted from
Oven 350

1 1/2cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 /2 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup raisins

Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl.

Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil and water in large mixer bowl; beat until just blended. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened.

Fold in carrot and raisins. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, November 14, 2011


This post is a bit late. I had such a busy weekend that the blog had to wait until today. We had a lot of family visiting from out of state and many get-togethers to attend. We celebrated retirements, birthdays, anniversaries, new homes, and being a family.
On Friday, my mother-in-law and cousin-in-law went for a ride to the Yankee Candle Company Factory Store in South Deerfield, MA. It took us 2 hours to get there, we spent 3 1/2 hours shopping (this place is huge), and we came home with nothing. Why you ask? Because after the 3 1/2 hours of shopping we were standing in line with a full cart and the power went out (transformer). They informed us that it's be about 30 minutes, so we stayed in line. About 20 minutes later we were informed that they would not be getting power back and everyone had to leave. We left our cart in a manager's office and went back for it on Sunday. So we ended up traveling quite a bit this weekend....for candles!

Snickerdoodle Cake

1 cup butter
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda

In a large saucepan, bring butter and water to a boil.

Remove from the heat; stir in flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream, almond extract, salt and baking soda until smooth.

Pour into a greased baking pan (I used 9x 15, but you could easily make this in a sheet pan).
Bake at 375 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until cake is golden brown and tests done.

Cool for 20 minutes. Frost as desired (I made my frosting with 2-3 tblspoons milk, 1/3 cup cinnamon butter, 3 cups confectioners sugar).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hanging Out

Our walls officially have pictures on them! Not every wall, but at least most rooms have some sort of accessories. It's only taken us how many months? Our curtains are slowly going up, too. It's really starting to feel like our home.

Apple Raisin Sticky Buns
adapted from Rachel Ray Magazine
2 tart apples- peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 in thick
1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup light cream
3/4 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Place the apples, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 tablespoon butter on a lined baking sheet; toss to coat. Cover loosely with foil and roast until tender, 15 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, blend the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt at low speed. Add 5 tablespoons butter and mix until crumbly.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with 1/2 cup cream, then mix into the dry ingredients.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to form a 9-inch rectangle. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, the raisins, and cinnamon. Cut up 2 tablespoons butter and dot the dough.
Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture on top and cover entirely with the roasted apples.
Roll up the dough , jelly-roll style, and cut crosswise into 9 pieces; place the slices cut side down in the prepared baking pan. Bake until golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup cream, and the honey to a boil, stirring. Let cool slightly. Drizzle the sauce over the warm buns.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snowy Halloween

Snow in October? Yep, we officially had our first snowfall and we lost power. At this point, I'm pretty sure I jinxed myself during Irene. It's back now, and we didn't lose any food, so that's good. We sought refuge at my in-laws and my sister-in-law was kind enough to forward the pictures, for this weeks blog, from her phone. Thanks everyone!
I decided that since tomorrow is Halloween I would make something without chocolate. We'll all be on sugar highs from all the "leftover" Halloween candy, anyway. These cookies are a twist on the traditional sugar cookie. They could be frosted or left plain.

Spiced Brown Sugar Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. allspice
½ cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium bowl; whisk to blend.


In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, brown sugar and butter. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Blend in the egg and vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Form the dough into a ball or disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 30-60 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness (add water if dough is crumbly). Use cookie cutters to form desired shapes and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.

Bake 10-12 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.