Archive for the ‘foodie’ Category

I’ve come to the disastrous, disappointing, but self-reflective conclusion that I will simply never, ever, ever, ever, EVER turn out a proper cooked icing recipe.  Ever.

Not cooked caramel.

Not cooked confectioner’s sugar.

Not cooked white sugar.

Not cooked brown sugar.

Not cooked vanilla.

None.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  They’re a failure in my kitchen.  It’s not my fault, really.  I follow the directions, I use the appropriate utensils and equipment, and I simply don’t get the desired results in the claimed time frame.  Eff that, I don’t get the desired results in ANY time frame.  I’ve gotten scorched, overcooked, crumbly, drippy, soupy, watery, crusty, oily, flat… really anything other than fluffy and/or spreadable or dip-able.

I’ve tried the same recipe twice now in less than a week because today is Gracie’s tenth birthday and the girl loves caramel.  She wants caramel cake.  The cake part, well, I have that down pat.  But the icing? Yeah.  NO.  It looks lovely, but no where near fluffy after following all of the directions.  It cooled before it could get anywhere near “fluffy.”  So I heated it up again.  Same results, so this time I just poured it over the cake.

Now I have caramel candy topping the cake.  Whatevs, dudes.  I choose to believe that cooked icings exist in the same realm as Bigfoot, Atlantis, mermaids, and fairies.  I’m not thrilled about a candy topped cake because now I can’t put candles in her cake now.  I’m not even sure I can cut it.

I should say that Gracie is THRILLED that there are little chunks of drizzled caramel candy around the cake, and big chunks that I scraped off of the spoon I used for stirring after it cooled.  She doesn’t even care that it’s crunching.  It’s CARAMEL.  I hope she enjoys the cake as much.

This is the icing recipe I used.  I’ll leave the link, but I did NOT use the caramel cake recipe where the link leads.

Caramel Icing
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into a few chunks
1/4 teaspoon salt, generous
1/4 cup milk (Jessica used lactose-free milk)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Put the dark brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium saucepan, and melt them together over medium heat, stirring often. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the milk and vanilla. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dump in the confectioners’ sugar all at once and beat with a wooden spoon until the icing is thickened and smooth. Quickly ice the cupcakes by holding each by the base and dipping the tops in the hot icing, rolling them slightly to coat evenly. Turn them quickly upright so the icing will even out while it’s still warm and will set smoothly. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Read more at:


Read Full Post »


Cappuccino (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oh my gosh, there is just not enough coffee in the world today.  Not to wake up, not to warm up.  Speaking of… we’re not even supposed to get more than a dusting of snow today.  Maybe a total of two inches, and the further north in the state you get the less snow there should be if you listen to NBC Connecticut AND YET there are schools dismissing early and evening activities canceling.

Come ON people! This is Connecticut! NEW ENGLAND! We have been in New England dealing with harsh winter weather, well… harsher weather than this… for hundreds of years.  I’m a horrible New Englander and I’m not even phased by this.  So far my town hasn’t released school early and I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed.

Granted, I’m home from work today because our heater bit the dust and we’re waiting for a part to come in to repair it and the temperatures are just not fun to deal with.  But the roads are a different matter.  It’s FLURRIES.  Not snow, not ice, not sleet or even freezing rain.  Flurries and clouds.

The most today needs is not early school dismissal or evening activity cancellation until you have heating issues, but a shit-ton of coffee, tea, cocoa, and other hot potables like soup.  In fact, today would be a good day to dig up my Ode to Coffee post.

Luckily I’m in happy stock of coffee, which I’ll be polishing off shortly.  I have a fresh, full box of fully caffeinated green tea.  I also have decaf green tea.  Of course, I have green tea with super fruit flavors like cranberry and blueberry.  There’s also chamomile tea.  I cracked open a new box of vanilla chai tea a night or two ago and expect to whip that out shortly.  When the girls get home from school, whenever that is, I have some recently made homemade hot chocolate mix.

O’hai, you want to know how to make homemade hot chocolate mix? It’s lactose-free, which makes it even better.  You need a medium sized Tupperware container.  You need an entire container of unsweetened powdered cocoa like Hershey Cocoa Powder.  Put it into the container with two cups of white sugar and one tablespoon of fine salt.  Cover with a tight lid and shake.  Heat milk in a mug in the microwave and add the mix per tablespoon into the mug and stir well, or heat the milk in a pan on the stove and stir it so that it doesn’t scald and then add the cocoa mix to taste and stir until it’s melted in.  Then serve in mugs.

We love hot drinks in this house.  Can you tell? When my girls are sick, they love hot drinks the way I do.  My eldest and youngest ask for hot chicken broth in a mug, so I always keep bouillon cubes in the pantry.  My middle daughter loves to have hot tea when she’s not feeling well, so I keep chamomile for her although she’ll drink almost any tea.  Her favorite seems to be vanilla chai, and in the summer she likes it iced.  A runner up is iced caramel tea, which is made from a black tea, blended up just the same way we make chai.  Delish.  I love the caramel tea hot, too.  Lipton has an interesting caramel truffle tea, but it’s not as good as vanilla caramel in the other brand… um… Bigelow.  I get the vanilla chai from Bigelow too.

I still make my coffee using a French press.  Every now and then I use my electric coffee maker, but I’m out of those coffee grounds.  I’d love to have one of those new KeurigMr.Coffee hybrids for Christmas, though, for the mornings I need a mug of coffee before work but don’t have time to press some coffee.  I never have time to press coffee on work mornings.  It would also be great on mornings when I want to ask The Mister or one of the girls to “make” me some coffee and the response is, “I can’t run to Dunkin Donuts right now, sorry.”  🙂  Of course I saw those cute little reusable Keurig k-cups that you can put your own coffee grounds into.  Those are brilliant.

Speaking of Christmas, I know I’m not the only one who hasn’t even started gift shopping.  But that could be a whole ‘nother post.  🙂

Read Full Post »

Pumpkin Muffins With Streusel Topping

Pumpkin Muffins With Streusel Topping

This morning was a rough morning.  We usually stretch out the summer skirts for The Girl as long as possible since she loves wearing them so much.  This year seems cooler sooner than the last couple of years, so we’re transitioning her a little sooner into pants.  She’s not happy.  Part of the bribery process was telling her I would make something with the can of pumpkin that I bought for her a few days ago.  She kept asking for Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies but the chips have milk in them, so I kept trying to get her to choose a pumpkin recipe.  For pants? She wants chocolate.  I told her that if she can wear pants every single day this week without having a meltdown then I’ll make her a batch of Tollhouse on Saturday.

I was going to research a pumpkin recipe after the girls got home from school so that she could help me find something and expected her to ask for the Libby’s Iced Pumpkin Cookies, but I got a call from the pediatrician asking why I didn’t bring the two youngers in for their flu shots yesterday.  Oops.

If you ever read my entry from last year’s flu shot drama, you’ll understand why I enlisted help from my husband this year.  It still wasn’t pleasant but at least I had some muscle with me this time for The Girl.  The  Eldest already had hers last week at her physical, and The Youngest took hers like a champ.  It was Meltdown City for The Girl, however, and she was the Meltdown Mayor.  It still wasn’t as bad as last year.  I think it’ll be difficult to ever top last year.

When it was over, he sort of looked like a dear in the headlights.  He sat in the car, looking a little stunned to me.  I chattered on and on about how well it went and how good the girls were.  The Eldest and The Youngest commented on how that was the easiest, least dramatic year ever.  Again… stunned.

When we got home, The Girl decided on pumpkin muffins and I found the best recipe ever.  She ate three already, maybe four.  The recipe made 24, for crying out loud.  I think that’s a pretty good reward for being so good (relatively speaking).  I mean, this year I came away without any bruises from the event.  That’s a win.  No one bled profusely.  That’s a win too.  Only one child cried.  Another win.  The child that cried is still talking to me.  All around win.

The Best Pumpkin Muffin Recipe EverPumpkin Muffins with Streusel Topping

Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Ready In: 55 Minutes
Servings: 18 (actually it’s 24)
“Moist and hearty pumpkin-oat muffins are topped with a brown sugar and oat streusel perfect for a quick breakfast or a holiday brunch.”
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil (replaced with 10 tsp melted butter with excellent results)
1/2 cup applesauce
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins (optional)

Topping (double this or you’ll be short):
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons rolled oats
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease or line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup oats, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Whisk pumpkin puree, 1 cup brown sugar, white sugar, vegetable oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla extract together in a separate large bowl. Stir flour mixture into pumpkin mixture; mix well. Fold in raisins.
3. Beat 1/4 cup brown sugar with butter in a bowl until creamy and smooth. Whisk 2 tablespoons oats and 2 tablespoons flour, using a fork, into sugar-butter mixture until streusel topping is crumbly.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle each muffin with streusel topping.
5. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2012 Printed from 10/9/2012

Read Full Post »


I made some lovely lactose-free chewy caramels last night.  They’re to die for, and I only had to adapt a recipe a little bit, as opposed to making it 100% unrecognizable.  They’re definitely not vegan nor are they safe if you have a whey allergy, and I’m not sure what the adjustments to make should be in that case.  My apologies.  But if you’re looking simply for “Lactose Free Chewy Caramel” then this may be an option.

What started out looking like this:

1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy whipping cream (has a 36-40% butterfat content)
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (210 grams) packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Butter an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) baking pan.

In a heavy medium sized saucepan, stir together the cream, sugars, and salt. Place the saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture boils, with a heatproof pastry brush that has been dipped in warm water, wash down the sides of the saucepan to remove any sugar crystals that may have formed. Clamp a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Boil the mixture over medium high heat (do not stir) until the temperature reaches 245 degrees F (118 degrees C). (If sugar crystals form on the sides of the pan, wash them down with a heatproof pastry brush that has been dipped in warm water.)

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the caramel into your prepared pan and let cool, undisturbed, for at least eight hours, or overnight.

With a sharp knife, (oiled with a tasteless vegetable oil, like safflower), and with a sawing motion, cut into squares or rectangles. These caramels can be stored at room temperature, between layers of wax paper, for several days. Caramels make a nice gift, especially when wrapped in wax paper or cellophane.

Makes about 48 pieces. Preparation time40 minutes. 

Adapted From:

Rosen, Michael J.Baking from the Heart. Broadway Books. New York: 2004.

Source for Recipe:

Now looks like this:

Lactose-Free Caramels:
1 cup Lactaid whole milk
1/2 cup (1 stick or 8 TB) salted butter
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3-to-4 TB cornstarch

Butter an 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) baking pan.

Mix sugars and cornstarch together until well blended in a mixing bowl.  In a heavy medium sized saucepan, stir together the milk and butter until the butter is melted.  Add the sugars and stir until melted.  Place the saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture boils, with a heatproof pastry brush that has been dipped in warm water, wash down the sides of the saucepan to remove any sugar crystals that may have formed. Clamp a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Boil the mixture over medium high heat (do not stir) until the temperature reaches 245 degrees F (118 degrees C). (If sugar crystals form on the sides of the pan, wash them down with a heatproof pastry brush that has been dipped in warm water.)

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, watch the color and thickness of the mixture.  The mixture should be foamy as it boils, and darken in color over the space of 30-40 minutes.  It should also have thickened noticeably but still be bubbly and foamy.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.  Pour the caramel into your prepared pan and let cool, undisturbed, for at least eight hours, or overnight.

With a sharp knife, (oiled with a tasteless vegetable oil, like safflower), and with a sawing motion, cut into squares or rectangles. These caramels can be stored at room temperature, between layers of wax paper, for several days. Caramels make a nice gift, especially when wrapped in wax paper or cellophane.

Makes about 48 pieces. Preparation time 40 minutes.

Adapted From:

Rosen, Michael J.Baking from the Heart. Broadway Books. New York: 2004.

I made the caramels with great success! I replaced the CREAM in the recipe with LACTAID WHOLE MILK.  I used one cup of milk and 1 stick of butter.  I also increased the amount of brown sugar by 1/2 cup and ended up having to add 3-to-4 TB of cornstarch to help it get to the right consistency.  I forgot to use an 8X8 so it came out too thin, but DELICIOUS.  Definitely  nice and chewy, but not stuck-in-your-teeth chewy.

And my children, even the ones without lactose-intolerance, can’t get enough of these caramels.


Read Full Post »


English: Blueberries.

English: Blueberries. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days ago I made my mom’s Blueberry Muffins.  They were gone in less than 18 hours.  The plan was to make them again yesterday after picking some up after the girls got home from school and The Mister gave me the checkbook to run a couple of errands.  When I came home I put them in the fridge, hidden, and ran next door to feed the neighbor’s bunny and check to make sure their house was secure.  I was gone for maybe 15 or 20 minutes.


When I came back, Gracie was standing at the front door with an empty blueberry tin.  Well, it was nearly empty.


“Look! There are four mushy, stale blueberries! Yuck!”  and she looked a little nervous, like she’d been caught in the act.

“Wow! Is that container from the blueberries we made the other day?”

“Um, I… um…”

I realized I needed to change tact a bit.  She doesn’t quite understand the concept of time the same way we do, so “the other day” could mean “a year ago” to her or it could mean tomorrow.


“Remember when we made blueberries a few days ago? We made blueberries on Monday.  It’s Wednesday.  Is this container from Monday?”

::squeaks:: “I don’t know!”

It’s time to try a different way again.


“Gracie, are those the blueberries I just bought today? Did you eat the whole thing?”


“But… honey did you eat the blueberries that were in the fridge? All by yourself?”

::squeaks:: “I don’t know!”

“I was going to make blueberries with them, but if you ate them it’s okay to tell me the truth.  I’m happy you got fresh fruit into you.  I’m just surprised you ate the whole thing.”


“Okay, but I can TELL you ate them all! Your lips are blue! It’s just better to tell the truth.  That way you won’t get in trouble.”

She gripped that pint tin for dear life, her knuckles white, her eyes desperate.  I thought she was desperate for me to believe that she hadn’t eaten all of those blueberries on her own.  I really was fine with the fact that she ate all of them.


::with tears::  “I tell the troof.  I not ate them all.  There are four mushy ones!”

It’s all in the details, Mom.  It’s all in the details.




Read Full Post »

electric Waffle iron

I used an iron just like this by Sunbeam

I’m making these for supper per child request.  Two of my kids love breakfast for supper, and it’s been a while since we’ve had waffles.

I found this recipe for waffles on more than five years ago and it’s my go-to recipe.  I don’t make any other waffle recipes.  It’s easy and delicious, which is what I need. I love that I can make this for the girls and keep it lactose-free for my middle daughter too just by using her Lactaid milk.  I do like to clabber the milk with some lemon juice.

I suspect that these can easily be made gluten-free for those who have Celiac Disease.  I actually just found a gluten-free cooking blog called Gluten Free Cooking School (ckick here) and she actually has a recipe for gluten free flour mix (click here) that she uses for pancakes.

Fluffy Waffles:
(Jessica, found on AllRecipes)
Makes 9-10 med-large waffles
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
6 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
2 eggs, separated

Preheat waffle iron. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in milk, oil and egg yolks until mixture is smooth. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into batter.

Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until golden; serve hot.

Jessica’s Notes: Added 1 TB sugar to flour mixture; reviews of the recipe on AllRecipes suggested 3 TB sugar + 1 tsp of vanilla to sweeten up waffles but 1 TB was delicious & still appropriate for the waffles to be either savory or sweet.

EDIT:  These really are great waffles.  I’ve blogged about them twice now.

Read Full Post »

Julia Child's kitchen at the Smithsonian Natio...

Image via Wikipedia

Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon – ABC News.

Ah, I miss Julia Child.  This link I posted has an article about Julia as well as her famous (adapted) Beef Bourguignon Recipe. Her Beef Bourguignon is one of those recipes that no matter how difficult, you just know you can try without anyone you know having made it and it will have to be delicious because Julia Child made it and it’s French cooking.  And everything she made was delicious.  That woman never shared a bad recipe.

Now, don’t let the link above fool you… the recipe they have listed is NOT Julia Child’s recipe.  There are some key differences that I suspect would change the flavor dramatically and were changed or even removed so as to make it more calorie and fat friendly.  Julia would not have taken kindly to the alterations in her recipe and then having the altered recipe passed off as “hers.”  Don’t get me wrong, the recipe on ABC looks good… it’s just that because of the “adapted from” Julia would never have considered the recipe in that link as hers.  This is what they included with their version of the recipe:

From the kitchen of Julia Child
Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon

This recipe is adapted from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck (Alfred A. Knopf, 1961)

The key, of course, is “adapted from.”

This is Julia Child’s actual Beef Bourguignon recipe.

Beef Bourguignon
created by Julia Child
from the book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Servings: Serves 6
  • 9- to 10-inch, fireproof casserole dish , 3 inches deep
  • Slotted spoon
  • 6 ounces bacon
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
  • 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • Crumbled bay leaf
  • Blanched bacon rind
  • 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
  • 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
  • Parsley sprigs

Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons(sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Copyright © 1961, 1983, 2001 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted by arrangement with the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: