Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ham and Cheddar Quiche

I'm still using up Easter ham, so I made the quiche recipe from Better Homes and Gardens new Cook Book Version 14 on page 238. I added 1/4 cup of diced green pepper to the recipe and it turned out really nice.
 I made the crust last night after making pizza. Even after eating ham for a whole week, there is still some left! I'm running out of ideas. I've already made it into pizza twice, now quiche. I had a grilled ham and gouda sandwich for lunch on Friday and ham and cheese a few more times.
It sure was a yummy treat for breakfast this morning. I don't like eggs by themselves, but with the addition of a pie crust and ham, cheese, onions and peppers to give it texture I thought it was great!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gardening does not equal baking

I'd like to show you something wildly amazing that I've made today in the world of all things baked or risen, but alas, I cannot.

For you see, the most wonderful weather was thrust upon me today and I found myself out in the garden. I cleaned out three big flower beds and got them ready for spring, but I didn't even do my dishes, yet! We had left-over spaghetti for supper and I did manage to make a salad while I was chopping up after-school snacks.

Here is my "mother" geranium plant and her 4 babies that I rooted a while ago. These will go into one of the patches that I cleaned out tonight. But not until mid June, when it stops freezing at night.

So there you have it, Gardening does not equal baking!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie

Here's a first for me: Sweet Potato Pie! (With Streusel topping)
I had some left-over sweet potatoes from Easter dinner and thought about this. I had heard of sweet potato pie, but never tried it. I had a recipe for it in the Better Homes and Gardens 14th Edition page 441. My sweet potatoes were sweetened before they were served on Sunday, so I used a little less sugar than the recipe called for and it was still plenty sweet. It turned into a lovely pie, much like a pumpkin pie, only sweeter and less eggy tasting. I would have liked it with nuts throughout it, but I liked it anyway.

The recipe also says it can be made without the streusal and add whipped cream instead. If you'd like the recipe, leave a comment and I will add it!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Left-overs pizza

Hello again! Easter is done, and my fridge is full of left-overs. As I've told you before, I often make left overs into pizza. Here is one I made last week, with the cream cheese alfredo sauce and chicken my husband made the night before. No tomato sauce on this one.
I put on some extra red and green peppers and we had a really gourmet pizza. If you ever can, you should try it. Heavenly cheesy and delicious.

Tonight I made some Easter ham and fresh pineapple into a bunch of mini pizzas for the family. They went over just fine, as usual. I made a deep-dish version for myself with mashed potatoes as a crust.  I would NOT recommend that! It was not good. The tomato sauce blended too much with the potatoes and they did not crisp into a crust at all. They blended so much, I could not even really taste any tomato at all. Rather disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. (I got the idea when I remembered the pasta crust pizza I made a while ago that worked really well.) All I can say is that now at least my left-over mashed potatoes are gone! Many people would question why I did not make shepherd's pie instead. Probably because only my husband really likes it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cream Cheese Brownies

These were another square I made for today's big Easter feaster! They are from page 80 of the Company's Coming 150 Delicious Squares. They are cream cheese brownies with cherries. The bottom layer is brownie, then there is a layer of cream cheese mixed with sugar and marachino cherries. Then there is some more brownie bits dollopped on top of that. Bake it and it looks like this:
Spreading the dollops over was tricky and not fun. I think if I made these again, I'd just put all the brownie on the bottom and let the cream cheese layer be on top. It would be much easier and still come out looking about the same. Once out of the oven, cool, cover in icing, cut into squares and here's what you get:

A soft and delicious brownie. I left the walnuts out because I wanted to have at least one square with no nuts in them. These were among the first to go today. I thought they could have been more chocolate-y. (The Midnight Mints were first to go.)

Hope you had a Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Babka (Ukrainian Easter Raisin Bread)

This one was meant to be:
  • First, in the "Arts & Life" section of The Chronicle Herald (Halifax NS) Friday, April 22, 2011 paper, on page E6 there is an article titled "Baking 'Bread of Life'" with recipes for Ukrainian traditional Easter breads. They look amazing!
  • Second, my husband is of Ukrainian background and remembers having these growing up but hasn't had it since he lived at home.
  • Third, it was a sunny afternoon with no real goals today and I already played outside with the children for two hours.
Put it all together and voila! The perfect opportunity to try Babka. The raisin and citrus traditional bread. They said it can be baked in a coffee or juice can. I have lots of juice cans, so I made half the recipe into 3 loaves.
Here it is, straight out of my oven. I baked it with the convection on in my oven. I should not have. They ballooned up and sideways! Yikes, quite top-able. I have never baked anything in a can before.

Immediately after this photo, they all fell down! The only one that landed on the floor got snatched up real quick, cut up and eaten!

Look at me go! Part of the blurry in the photo is actually steam. This loaf was literally just out of the oven.
There were raisins, and half a dozen eggs (well, 4 yolks and 2 eggs for the 3 loaves) and lemon and orange juices and zests in this bread. It was tremendously good. What a way to celebrate Easter! (Yes, just a little early, but there are still 2 loaves we're saving for tomorrow!)

I gotta say, they look rather odd, like golf clubs or something. Thankfully, they don't taste as funny as they look.
I even thought this one looks like it wants to give someone a kiss! The other recipe in the article has just as many eggs and regular ingredients, but it does not have the citrus or raisins in it. Instead, it is a show-off bread that gets braids and crosses and roses and rosettes placed on top and glazed. It is baked in a round baking pan with deep sides. It looked prettier, but I think raisin bread is yummier, so I tried it first. Maybe you will too!

On a related note, I took up making Ukrainian Easter eggs the year I met my husband. They are called Pysanky. They are insanely time-consuming to make, so I usually only do one or two a year, if I do any at all! Here are some I've made over the years:
The blue one in the middle is the first one I ever made. I liked the little butterflies. Each of these eggs took between 2 and 4 hours to decorate. Every symbol has a special meaning. I have a pattern book of ideas that I used to make these.

If I don't see you tomorrow, Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Date Squares or Matrimonial Squares

Welcome to Good Friday. I did my baking yesterday, but I'll show these to you today. These are a favorite of my husband, which is odd, considering they don't contain any chocolate! We call them Date Squares but I use the Company's Coming 150 Delicious Squares recipe on page 50 called Matrimonial Squares.
I first made them years ago and noted that they were greasy when using margarine. I made this latest batch with butter, and I used slightly less than the 1 cup they called for. They are just right! They are easy to make - not fussy at all. My husband would be the first to say they should be cut bigger! I made 36 from the 9x9 pan, but I think he'd like it better if I cut it into 16 squares instead!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Easter Cookies!

Today was a major baking day here. I made Easter cookies with the children, and two kinds of squares and pizza. I'll highlight the cookies today and save the rest for the next blog entries. I made the "Cookie Monster's Cookies" again and we shaped them like eggs, bunnies, chicks and butterflies. I did up a batch of royal icing and split it into three colors - pink, yellow and blue.
While I let the children decorate most of the chicks, I decorated the eggs. It was wonderful to have three different colors, in three separate bags, all with the same tip. Made for a pleasure to work them. I was going to make them all the same but just started changing each one after 3 the same. It was fun. Along the way, I had to ice the chicks for the children to decorate. They were dunking them in sprinkles. They had fun too. I'm keeping those in our special family can that we can eat right away! Here are how my eggs turned out.

 Here's how the other cookies turned out. Not quite like the Easter Bunny does it, but not bad!
Have a blessed Holy Thursday and I'll show you some more yummies tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Five-Cup Slice Squares

These are tonight's addition to the squares I'll be serving as Easter dessert. I can't believe I've never made them before! They are from Company's Coming 150 Delicious Squares Cookbook (page 78).
They were super-easy to make. They were super-sticky and delicious! (As long as you like nuts and coconut). They remind me of a sweeter and chocolatey-er version of a Quaker Chewy Granola bar with Chocolate Chips. I baked them perhaps a little too long - the edge ones were a bit crispy, so next time I'll try them at 20 minutes, rather than 25 in my convection oven. I had lined my pan with tinfoil for easy removal of the squares. Well, they came out of the pan, but I had to pick tinfoil off the sticky bottom for 10 minutes! So I've added the note, "please GREASE pan EXTRA well, super sticky!" (I should have known; all that is in them is raisins, chocolate chips, peanuts, coconut and sweetened condensed milk).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Midnight Mints

These are probably my favorite squares. They are called Midnight Mints and they are the minty equivalent of the well-known Nanaimo Bar.
I love how mint and chocolate go together. Today I added a little more butter to the chocolate for the topping since it was looking a little too thick to spread - what a wonderful idea! It was totally spreadable and easier to cut than usual. I had frozen the bottom two layers for a few minutes before adding the chocolate top, which also helped spread the chocolate without getting the green mixing into it. I was very pleased with how these turned out. The ones in the photo are actually the "rejects" from the bunch that I froze for Easter dessert!

This recipe comes from the Company's Coming 150 Delicious Squares Cookbook again. It is on page 13. The crust is a hearty mixture of coconut, walnuts, graham cracker crumbs and cocoa, along with an egg, some butter and some sugar. It is not too time-consuming to make either, since the bottom gets cooked a little, but there is no baking involved. I'm sure my Easter company will love them!

What are your favorite squares? I'm planning to have a selection for Easter and all I can think of is chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Home-made Granola

This granola is a great dish at breakfast. I like it with milk, or for a treat, I stir it up with yogurt. Sometimes we just eat it dry, out of hand, for a quick snack.
It's made in the microwave, so it's pretty quick to make.

Microwave Granola
Heat on high for 30 seconds in a microwave safe measure:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Combine in a microwave safe bowl:
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flour (whole wheat or white, your choice)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup dry milk powder
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 tsp. cinnamon

Pour honey mixture over oats mixture and stir very well. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 2 1/2 minutes. Stir. Microwave for 2 1/2 more minutes. Stir. Add 1/2 cup raisins if you like. Let cool. Store in an air tight container next to your cereal! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Glazed Raisin Bread p. 434

OOops, I forgot to glaze the "Glazed Raisin Bread". I suppose it is not too late. We only ate half the loaf straight out of the oven!

It was so deliciously good! The raisins were soft and plump, the loaf was full of raisins and the crust was crispy and sweet. I wanted to eat more and more and more! I guess butter and eggs will do that to you! I guess I didn't press out the bubbles after the first rise quite enough, since there is a big hole through the top of the loaf. I think if I had glazed it too, I likely would not have gotten any for myself! Definately a make-again!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cuban Bread p. 23

Cuban Bread is simply a white bread with no fat and it is shaped into "two plump loaves":
I think they look like crowns. They turned out very nice. They taste like nice, white bread.  
I didn't even get close to the 5-6 cups of flour into this recipe either. Are you surprised? No matter, as they still tasted fine, but firm. The crust was crispy and beautiful too.
I was skeptical of the method for baking these loaves - the recipe said to shape the loaves, cut them with an x and place them in a cold oven, and turn it on to let them rise and bake. Surprisingly, it worked! I may have overworked the dough, since the bread did seem a bit dense.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Maple Oatmeal Bread p. 188

This is Maple Oatmeal Bread from page 188.
This recipe would have made 2 small loaves, but I chose to make it into 1 large loaf and two small buns. The author says it is for two loaves.

I made it with cooked porridge instead of soaking oats for 1 hour in boiling water. It didn't need as much flour as the recipe called for, but it did make a delicious bread. It had a delicate sweetness from the maple syrup and it had some oat texture and sticky-ness. If maple syrup weren't so expensive, I would highly recommend this loaf, as it tasted wonderful!  I don't feel it was quite amazing enough to justify the added expense.

It had a strange way to create the bread too. First, you only add some of the flour and let it rise, then you knead in the rest of the flour, place the dough into the baking pans and let it rise again. Then you bake. It worked fine, but it was different.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Two layer Chocolate Birthday Cake

Here's the resulting two-layer Chocolate Birthday cake with Orange buttercream filling:

close-up of the chocolate icing before the banner went on.
It was awesome! Everything about it was delicious! Melody thought it was great. I loved the orange flavor in the filling and the new chocolate cake recipe was lighter than my old recipe. When I make this recipe again, I will put some of the chocolate chips deeper into the batter. I really liked the contrast of the white filling against the brown cake. Very nice.

It was a simple cake to decorate, since Melody wanted "just chocolate icing". I just spread it on roughly and poked in the fondant flowers I made a while ago and added a fondant banner that I piped with piping gel. I liked this cake. It had more cocoa than my other cake and tasted more chocolate-y. I certainly recommend it! Enjoy!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rich Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Filling

This is actually part one of the birthday cake for my soon to be 3 year old. The original recipe calls for peanut butter and milk chocolate morsels and a creamy peanut butter milk chocolate frosting.

 But, I followed my plan from yesterday and made it with chocolate chips instead. I had to trim the tops flat and that is where most of the chips were, sadly. Here's the recipe:

Rich Chocolate Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cups cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans.
Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixer bowl. Add milk, water, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Blend until moistened. Beat for 2 minutes (batter will be thin). Pour into prepared pans. Sprinkle 1/3 cup chips over each cake layer.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

I did all that, and then I trimmed the tops flat (where most of the chips were, but I'll save those for later).
Then I filled it with orange flavored buttercream icing.

I'll show you how I finished it and decorated it tomorrow! I will also tell you how wonderfully delicious it was, I hope!

Friday, April 8, 2011

The chocolate cake dilemma

After the monumental chocolate cake from the last birthday that lasted me about 7 servings, I decided I don't want chocolate cake again for a while. I still love chocolate, but thought it might be time for a change.

Now here's April, and the youngest makes a request for her cake: "I want chocolate cake with chocolate icing and flowers coming out of it like Kimberly's." She's turning 3. How can I say, "no"? Therein lies the dilemma.

So, I started looking for a different chocolate cake recipe that might be a bit lighter. I compared at least 6 recipes. Tomorrow I shall bake one that is called "Rich Chocolate Cake with Creamy Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate Frosting". Sounds devine. Although, I plan to make it with Orange flavored butter cream filling and frost it with my usual chocolate fudge icing. There is a lot more liquid in this recipe than my usual chocolate cake recipe. There is also some baking powder. We'll see if it leads to a lighter cake.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

This is MY version of "Pain Perdu" or "Lost Bread". With all the bread I make, there is often a heel of bread left in a bag and then the next loaf gets cut. Nobody seems to want a dried out, skinny old heel of bread. Now, I could make french toast or croutons, yes, but I've had much more success turning it into Bread Pudding. I cut up any dried out pieces of bread that haven't turned green yet, and put the cubes in a big bag in the freezer. When there is 4 cups of cubes, I take them out and make bread pudding.
I'm sure any bread pudding recipe will do. The trick to get EVERYONE coming back for seconds, is to replace the raisins with chocolate chips and the milk with chocolate milk and decrease the amount of sugar accordingly.

It doesn't look like much, but it is Really delicious! I use this slightly modified recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book:

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
4 cups bread cubes
1/3 cup chocolate chips
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups chocolate milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a 1 1/2 quart casserole, combine bread cubes and chocolate chips.
2. In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Pour over bread mixture.
3. Bake, uncovered for 50 to 55 minutes or until puffed and a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool slightly. If desired, serve with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Ever since my children were big enough to drag a chair over to "help" in the kitchen, I have been making crepes for breakfast. There was a time when I made them on request. Then they started requesting them every day! So, for about the last 4 years I have made crepes every Tuesday and Friday morning. Surprisingly, they haven't gotten tired of them! Thank God, since they are such a snap to whip together. I combine flour and milk with egg and a little sugar and a sprinkle of salt. I add more flour or milk to get the right consistency. I might describe the right consistency as that of a slightly beaten egg, perhaps a little thicker, but not as thick as liquid honey.
Preheat a non-stick or cast iron fry pan to medium-hot (I start at 6 1/2 on my induction burners that go from 1 to 10, and reduce to 6 after first crepe). Pour a soup ladle full of batter into the hot 10" pan and tilt the pan around to let the batter reach the sides of the pan. Cook until the top no longer looks wet. Flip.

The crepe will be a nice tan color. When the bottom is flecked with light brown, it's ready! Remove to a plate. Spread with desired filling and roll up. The sooner you eat these, the better they are! The edges get crispy and harder to roll as they cool.

In our house, I have one order for "just butter", one order of "butter and jam", and four orders of "peanut butter and jam" but my husband also adds chocolate chips to his!

I have, over the years, also tried these perfectly delicious fillings:
banana and nuttella (with whipped cream if you like it)
banana and peanut butter
simply a piece of cheese, melted on the hot crepe
yogurt and berries
maple syrup - works better over two crepes, eaten like pancakes
banana and yogurt

Crepe recipe

Makes enough for one person (about 2 crepes)
1 egg
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp sugar
1 sprinkle salt

Just multiply as needed. I find that 5 eggs works for my family - 9 crepes.
My sister came up with this recipe when I was in high school. She may have used a recipe book, but I am not sure. No matter, it makes great crepes! So, now you can rise and bake some of your own!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Montreal Style Bagels

I made 36 of these beauties today!
They are Montreal Style Bagels. I used the recipe at These have been my most complicated achievement thus far. My husband is very particular about his bagels. These are close enough that he is satisfied with them.

They have to be formed carefully to make their round shape. They have to be timed rather carefully during their rising or else they balloon up like crazy. And they need to be boiled before baking. That is the tricky part. I still under-boil some of them, which makes them shrivel up into small, hard lumps, and I often make them too big or too small, and I still burn them because it depends on how warm they are when they go in the oven. Freshly boiled bagels need less baking time than those that have sat waiting to go in the oven. It surprised me to find out that the sesame seeds are for more than just taste - they keep the bagels off the pan just enough that they don't stick and burn onto the baking pan.  
They turned out dark and crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. When boiling them, I have discovered that if the water is not hot enough, you get a wet, soggy blob of dough forming along the sides of the bagels that will not cook, no matter what. That has been a frustration sometimes. I have learned by trial and error that it is better to put in a new bagel only every 30 - 45 seconds and never have more than 3 in the boiling water at any time. When all was said and done, they made a mighty tasty supper straight out of the oven tonight! I ate one with peanut butter and one with ham and Miracle Whip. The children pretty much just ate them plain or with peanut butter. Delicious!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chocolate Confetti Squares

Tonight I wanted a little something for dessert so I found Chocolate Confetti Squares in the Company's Coming 150 Delicious Squares recipe book. Page 28. These were the perfect squares to please my sweet-tooth tonight! They were super easy to make, had only 4 ingredients and they were created, cooled and eaten all within one hour!
They had chocolate and peanut butter to hold the marshmallows together so they were a delight to eat, too. They were very messy if you eat them slowly with your fingers - they are not like M&M's... These DO melt in your hand! The family and I all thought they were awesome, and since marshmallows were on sale this week, even better!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

What do you do when you are told the strawberries you bought are almost too ripe, you want to bake something for your baking blog AND you spy a box of Dream Whip in your pantry?

Why not do what I did, and make a strawberry shortcake recipe?
I used the biscuit-type shortcake recipe from the 12th edition of Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. Page 246. I chose to make the individual shortcakes, since they are less messy to make up. I made the dough into 6 rounds, not 8, since there are 6 of us.

This recipe was like a biscuit recipe - maybe with a bit more sugar and butter.

And Voila! Here it is. To assemble, I cut the biscuit in half, spread with a spoonful of berries, a spoonful of Dream Whip and the top of the biscuit. Then another small scoop of berries and whip and finally, a big, beautiful berry on top!

Times three! Then I made 3 more for the rest of the family. What a nice way to enjoy those strawberries. They were perfect!