Archive for May, 2011


Let’s Not Forget

May 29, 2011

The Moving Vietnam Memorial Wall is in my town this weekend.  The rain has not let up here and we pushed through the mud and rain to see it, along with many others.  I really wanted my daughter to see this awesome wall.  It’s a half-size replica of the memorial in Washington DC.

I don’t really feel I need to say much more than that.  If you have the opportunity to see the moving wall, or the actual one, please do.  It’s awe-inspiring.  My father never served in Vietnam, although he was of the age, do to his 4-F status.  He worked for the railroad and was standing between two cars, when they moved and went right through him.  He was lucky to live through that ordeal and as a result, he was 4-F.

My best friend’s dad was a vet though, and he told us many stories.  Some that made us laugh and many that made us cry.  It’s people like him, and all the people in the military that make this country so great.

So while you heat up that grill this weekend and enjoy your extra day off, don’t forget the reason why we celebrate.


Chocolate Scones

May 26, 2011

I love a good scone.  Usually I’m not that big of a fan of chocolate, but I was in the mood and decided to make chocolate ones.  This is a variation of my standard scone recipe.  My husband and I loved this recipe.  I added dried cherries and almond extract.  You could add chopped almonds instead or along with the cherries.  You could probably add dried blueberries instead of the cherries and if you don’t like almond, you don’t need to add the extract.

I brought some of them to work and they were gone quickly.  The thing that I love the most about my scone recipe is that it’s easy to put together and cooks quickly.  It’s a perfect thing to make in the morning before work.

The only negative that I can say about these scones is that Meeshie calls them icky brownies.  I put one in her lunch and she didn’t like them.  She thought they were brownies and was expecting something sweet, which they are not.  That’s probably why I like them so much.  They have just the right amount of a chocolate to cherries ratio.

Chocolate Scones

  • 2  1/4 C unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 C Cocoa
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 6 T butter
  • 3/4 C milk (actually a little more than 3/4, so would you call that just a generous 3/4 C?)
  • 1 t Vanilla
  • 1 t Almond Extract (optional)
  • 1/3 C dried cherries
  • 1/3 C Almonds, chopped (optional)

Sift and measure the flour.  Re-sift the flour with the dry ingredients.  Work the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers.  Add the fruit and mix thoroughly.  Add the milk to the mixture.  This is where I added a little more milk because it was not incorporating properly and I did not want to over work the batter.  Divide into two equal parts.  On an ungreased cookie sheet, pat into a round about the thickness of a biscuit, about 3/4 to 1 inch thick.  Cut into wedge-shaped pieces, like a pie and bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees.

Makes 16 scones.


What to Do When You’re Waiting for the World to End

May 22, 2011

My friend Maribeth told me about a wonderful and easy margarita recipe that she has.  I was instantly interested.  I’m  big fan of tequila and when I found out this recipe also had beer in it I was sold.  Actually it’s Corona, and trust me when I say you don’t want to substitute the beer.

It’s finally been pleasant enough for me to want to think about getting out and working in the yard.  So when we got back from the nursery, I knew that I wanted to make a pitcher of margaritas before I tackled the plants or the world ended.  Which ever came first.

The only problem with my plan is that my husband is not a fan of tequila, so I needed to move on to plan B.  There was no way that I could drink all that alcohol and function during the coming week.  Plan B was calling the neighbors and celebrating the world continuing until at least 2012 as well as my neighbor’s birthday.  Not bad for a Saturday in May.


  • 1-12 oz can Frozen Limeade Concentrate
  • 8 oz Tequila (you can use 12 oz if you like your margaritas stronger)
  • 1-12 oz can 7-Up, Sprite or Sierra Mist
  • 8 oz Water
  • 1-12 oz Bottle of Corona
  • Ice
  • Lime, cut into wedges
  • Margarita Salt

Combine the first five ingredients together in a large pitcher until well blended.  Add the ice and serve in your favorite glass with lemon wedges and salted glass.

Serve with friends and your favorite snacks.


Put a Little Crunch in Your Morning

May 18, 2011

I’ve shared this recipe before, but feel it’s worthy of a repeat.

I love french toast.  It’s one of my favorite breakfast foods.  I love it more than pancakes, although I make pancakes more often than french toast.  This recipe is so good that I haven’t made french toast any other way in a very long time.  The extra crunch from the cereal really takes the french toast to another level of goodness.

I saw this on a Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show and knew that I had to make them.  Two great breakfast treats rolled into one.  Who doesn’t love Captain Crunch Cereal or french toast?  The hint of nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla really make this a wonderful breakfast treat.

Crispy French Toast

  • 12 pieces Texas Toast Style Bread
  • 4 whole Eggs
  • 1-½ C Milk
  • 1-½ t Vanilla
  • 4 C Captain Crunch Cereal
  • 2 t Cinnamon
  • 1 t Nutmeg
  • Butter, For The Pan

Beat the eggs, milk and vanilla together. Set aside.

Place the cereal, nutmeg and cinnamon in a gallon sized bag. Crush the cereal into a course consistency. I used the heel of my hand to crush the cereal. Shake the bag to mix the spices with the cereal.

Place some butter on your skillet/pan and turn on the heat to medium. Sprinkle the cereal mixture onto a plate. Dunk the bread in the egg mixture on both sides. Place the bread on the cereal and press into the cereal. Flip the bread and repeat. Place the bread on the skillet and cook for about 4 minutes. Because you are using the Texas toast make sure the side is really brown before flipping. Cook on the other side the same way.

Serve with butter and syrup.

If you have extra you can easily freeze this by sticking the bread on a cookie sheet for about an hour in the freezer and then putting them in a gallon sized bag so they don’t stick together.  Then you can enjoy this treat during the work week!


Heavenly Cupcakes

May 15, 2011

I made cupcakes yesterday and Meeshie told me they were the best she’s ever had.  I know that doesn’t sound like much, she is only eight, but she has had a lot of cupcakes in that short time.  What is it with children and cupcakes, anyway?

These cupcakes are very moist and light.  I loved that the flavor reminded me of spice cake.  I also loved that you can easily double this recipe.

I was searching for a cupcake that was easy but a little different. These fit the bill. I think that Meeshie likes these as much as she likes the oreo cupcakes, and that’s saying a lot.

You can make the horchata, like I did, or you can buy it either premade or in a mix.  Just follow the directions for the mix and then make the cupcakes.  I’ve never made horchata using a mix but I’m sure that the cupcakes will still be moist and flavorful.

Horchata Cupcakes

  • 1/4 C Butter
  • 3/4 Sugar
  • 1 C Flour
  • 1 t Baking Powder
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1/2 t Cinnamon
  • 1/2 C Horchata
  • 1/2 t Vanilla
  • 2 Eggs, separated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cupcake pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg yolks and beat for another minute. In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.   In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and set aside.  In another bowl, mix the horchata and vanilla together and set aside.  Add the flour mixture and horchata mixture to the butter mixture, alternating between the dry and wet ingredients beating well after each addition; starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Take a rubber spatula and fold the egg whites into the cake batter until just incorporated.  Scoop the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Set aside and cool completely.

Makes a dozen cupcakes.

Horchata Frosting

  • 1 C Whipping Cream
  • 5 T Confectioner’s Sugar
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 T Horchata
  • 1/2 t Vanilla

Whip the cream together with the confectioner’s sugar in a cold metal bowl.  Once it has thickened, add the horchata, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost them.

Here is the recipe that inspired me.



May 12, 2011

Have you ever had horchata?  It’s a wonderfully cool rice drink that has cinnamon, nuts and lime.   They serve at most mexican restaurants.

It’s very addicting.  Don’t take that as a warning, I want you to make this.

I’ve been wanting to make it since I came across a horchata cupcake recipe.  You can buy horchata mix in the ethnic aisle of your supermarket, but I really wanted to make it.

This recipe is adapted from Rick Bayless.  I don’t think I need to go into any further detail, right?  If you aren’t sure who the James Beard award winner is, just google him.  Any way, the man knows his mexican cuisine and this recipe is awesome, plus the Frontera Grill rocks.

Oh and it doesn’t hurt that I can hum some Vampire Weekend while mixing this up!

What makes this so simple is that you basically let the rice mixture sit in the fridge overnight in water.  Then you put that in the blender to make a slurry.

Then you strain the slurry.  I don’t think you can see the cheese cloth, but it’s there.  Oh, and don’t skip the cheese cloth.  This is probably the most important step, so don’t skip the cheese cloth.

If you like lime, add some more lime zest.  If you cinnamon, add more of that.  You can probably use other nuts instead of the almonds, but I like the balance of the almonds.  I like the balance of all the flavors and once I have a glass I can’t seem to stop, so I really hope that I can make those cupcakes.


  • 6 T Rice
  • 1 1/4 C Almonds
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 1/2 t of Nutmeg
  • 2  Strips of Lime Zest (colored portion only), about 2-by-3/4-inch
  • 1/2 C Sugar (or more to taste)
  • 2 1/4 C Hot Tap Water
  • 4 C Cold Water

Thoroughly pulverize the rice in a blender or spice grinder. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the almonds, cinnamon stick, nutmeg and lime zest. Stir in 2 1/4 cups of hot tap water, cover and let stand a least 6 hours or, preferably, overnight.

Scoop the mixture into the blender jar and blend for 3-4 minutes, until it no longer feels very gritty. Add 2 cups of water then blend for a few seconds more. Set a large sieve over a mixing bowl and line with 3 layers of dampened cheesecloth. Pour in the almond-rice mixture a little at a time, gently stirring to help the liquid pass through. When all has been strained, gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and twist them together to trap the dregs inside. Squeeze the package firmly to expel the remaining liquid.

Add 2 cups of water and stir in enough sugar to sweeten the drink to your taste.  I actually made a simple syrup with the 1/2 C of sugar and 1 C of water that I let cool and then added the remaining water, but you don’t have to.   If the consistency is too thick, add additional water. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir before pouring, serve with ice.

This makes about 7 servings.


The Best Mother’s Day

May 8, 2011

I had the best Mother’s Day.  I can easily say that and it isn’t even noon.

First, I slept late.  I woke at 5, which is sleeping in to me.  Second, I had breakfast  in bed.  It wasn’t french toast or pancakes, but it was Captain Crunch Berry with dried cherries and powdered sugar, which if you’re eight is the breakfast of champions.  By the way, breakfast in bed still counts, even if you have to request it!

Usually I take my mom and Meeshie to get a pedicure on Mother’s Day weekend, but I took care of that last week.  So, I can’t blame it on the pedicure.

I can’t even say it was the best because of the picnic, or the fact that Meeshie and my husband haven’t argued.

It’s the best day because my brother called to wish my a happy Mother’s day.  Thanks David, I hope you have a great day too.

I hope your Mother’s Day is just as good!


Let’s Monkey Around

May 5, 2011

Do you like monkey bread?  I do.  I found this recipe when I made the lemon pull apart bread for Easter.  It assembles the same way as that bread but has cinnamon brown sugar in it.

I actually like this bread much better than monkey bread.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe, because it’s a grown up version of monkey bread.  That’s probably it.

This bread slices so easily and has a great caramelized crunch.  The parchment paper really helps in removing the bread from the pan and keeping the pan clean.  You don’t have to use the parchment paper, but I recommend that you do.

I’m sure that this bread freezes well, but we ate it too quickly for that.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Pull Apart Bread

For the sweet yeast dough
  • 2 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 2 1/4 t (1 envelope) instant yeast
  • 1/2 t fine sea salt
  • 1/3 C Half and Half
  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs , at room temperature
For the brown sugar paste filling
  • 3/4 C Brown Sugar
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 C butter , melted
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, the yeast, and the salt and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and set aside.  In a small saucepan, melt together the half and half and butter until the butter has melted.  Remove from the heat, add the water and vanilla, and set aside until warm (115 to 125°F) , about 1 minute.    Pour the milk mixture over the flour-yeast mixture and, using a rubber spatula, mix until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened.  Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.  The eggs will feel soupy and it’ll seem like the dough  and the eggs are never going to come together.  Keep stirring.  Add the remaining 3/4 C flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes.  The mixture will be sticky, that’s just right.  Place the dough in a large, greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size.  You can then refrigerate the dough overnight for use in the morning.  Just allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes before rolling out.
While the dough is rising, make the filling.  In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and melted butter.
Make the bread.  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a 9x5x3 loaf pan with parchment paper. Or, lightly coat the pan with nonstick spray.  Gently deflate the dough. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 20-by-12-inch rectangle.  Spoon the  melted butter/sugar mixture generously over the dough. Cut the dough crosswise into 5 strips, each about 12 by 4 inches. (A pizza cutter is helpful here.)   Stack each strip on top of one another.  Cut the strip into six equal slices again.  You’ll have six stacks of six squares.  Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan.  While there is plenty of space on either side of the strips widthwise in the pan, fitting the strips lengthwise is tight. But that’s fine because the spaces between the dough and the sides of the pan fill in during baking. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until puffy and almost doubled in size.  Bake until the top is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes.
Here’s the original.  Love Joy the Baker!

Twisted Strata

May 1, 2011

I made a new version of french toast strata last week for brunch.  I’ve been wanting to kick up my strata recipe for a while and thought using banana bread was a perfect way to do that.

I love a good strata.  I love that you can make it the night before and then just stick it in the oven in the morning.  Strata is perfect for brunch, or a Sunday morning after church.  I made a strata the night before my wedding to serve to the girls as they got ready for church.

This version came to me after I had a wonderful banana bread pudding a few weeks ago.  I’ve also been reading about how soaking nuts is a great way to have a healthy snack.  So pairing them together seemed like a no brainer.  I was right.  Of course, if you have a nut allergy, I don’t think that omitting the pecans will alter the recipe that much.

I used my banana nut recipe as the base of the strata and just omitted the pecans.  I’ve actually been making the bread that way that last few times lately.  It’s the number of bananas that really makes this recipe so moist and yummy.  You could use whatever banana bread you like, though.  I won’t judge.  Just make sure that whatever bread you use, it’s cool.  Making the bread a few days ahead would be best.

Banana Bread Strata

  • For the Bread:
  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3/4 C butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 7 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease 2 loaf pans.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, soda and salt with a wire whisk; set aside.  In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, bananas and vanilla.  Beat at medium speed until thick.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the flour mixture and blend at low speed just until combined.  Do not overmix.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake for 60-70 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean and the bread should pull away from the sides.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Turn the pans on the side; cool to room temperature before removing and slicing.

I usually make this bread once I have 7 ripe bananas.  I just accumulate them and stick them in a bag in the freezer until I have the right amount.  The riper the banana, the better the bread!  (You can also add a cup of pecans to the bread, but then I wouldn’t add them to the strata.)

  • For the Strata:
  • 1/2-3/4 of a loaf of banana bread
  • 3 Eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 C Half and Half (or whole milk)
  • 1/2 C Caramel (use your favorite jar caramel)
  • 1 T Vanilla
  • 1/2 C Pecans, chopped (optional)

Cut the bread up into 3/4 inch cubes.  Place the cubes in an even layer inside a 11×7 prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of the bread.  Beat the eggs, half and half, caramel and vanilla in a separate bowl until combined.  Pour the egg mixture over the bread.  Cover, refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.  Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.  Garnish with leftover caramel, syrup or powdered sugar.

%d bloggers like this: