Thursday, March 29, 2012

Almond Cookies

This was my answer to my husbands request "honey can you make something sweet to eat?"  "Sure no problem, I'll whip something up".....I'm June Cleaver after all!.  So I figured I would make some simple straight forward chocolate chip cookies but as I was preparing the batter I thought, BORING!  How about Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies?  I substituted the vanilla extract for almond extract and added sliced almonds.  I ended up making half the batter with chocolate chips and half without to make everyone in my house happy.  I really LOVED the plain almond cookies, they were light, crisp and buttery.   The next time I make these I'm not using chocolate chips at all.  The chocolate takes away from the delicious almond flavor so add the chocolate if you are craving it but try some without too and let me know which ones you like better.


2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) butter or margarine
1 cup white sugar
1/4 dark brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons almond extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small bowl whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.  In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together butter and sugars until light and creamy.  Add almond extract and eggs and beat until combined well.  Add almonds (and chocolate chips if desired) and mix until incorporated.  Drop by tablespoons on a lined baking sheet.  I prefer using silpat liners but you can also use parchment paper or reynold release foil.  Bake for 12 minutes until cookies are light golden brown.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Irish Soda Bread

I have a "thing" for Irish Soda bread.....maybe it's the Jewish girl in me ;).  I love this recipe.  I made it last year and I thought it was delicious. I hope you'll try it too.


4 to 4 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup raisins
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk


Preheat oven to 425°. Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.  Using your (clean) fingers (or two knives or a pastry cutter), work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then add in the raisins.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead! Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite shaggy (a little like a shortcake biscuit dough). You want to work it just enough so that the flour is just moistened and the dough just barely comes together. Shaggy is good. If you over-knead, the bread will end up tough.  Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet). Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an "X" shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45 minutes. (If you use a cast iron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet.) Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it's done.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Homemade Granola

I have been dying to make my own granola ever since watching Ina Garten do it on the Food Network. The beauty of making homemade granola is that you can use whatever ingredients you have on hand. It was a snap to make and its a great healthy snack to have around the house. 
*Side note: The house smells amazing during baking.

1 1/2 C. old fashioned oats
1 C. chopped hazelnuts
1 C. sliced almonds
1/2 C. sunflower seeds
1/2 C. dried cranberries
3 T. vegetable oil
3 T. honey
2 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl combine all ingredients and mix thouroughly. Pour out onto a silpat or foil lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until nicely browned. Turn and stir halfway through baking.

Cool completely and store in an air tight container.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Guest Blogger Monday's...Garlic Knots by Jack

Guest Blogger of the Week

My 12 year old son Jack is taking a Home and Careers class this semester. Over the past few weeks the teacher has been focusing on cooking. Jack has been really into learning and replicating the recipes at home. I love that he is so into it. His assignment this week was to take his chosen ingredient...Garlic....and highlight it in a recipe. So, what's better than garlic knots to show off this spice. This recipe is quick and easy and fool proof. It was a big hit at school with all of his classmates!!

Garlic Knots


2 packages of refrigerator pizza dough (we used thin crust)
olive oil
garlic powder


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stretch out pizza dough slightly and lay flat on a cutting board. It will be a rectangle shape. Cut dough in half horizontally. Then cut the dough into 2 inch strips lengthwise. Knot each strip and tuck ends under. Brush knots with olive oil and sprinkle generously with garlic powder and oregano. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Brown Sugar Molasses Cookies

I was home bored one day so I decided to go into my kitchen and bake cookies.  I didn't want to follow a recipe soI just started adding ingredients that I had on hand and this is what I came up with.  They came out really delicious.  I made most of them plain but my husband wanted chocolate chip cookies so I took half the batter and added chocolate chips and although the ones with chocolate were delicious you really lost the brown sugar/molasses flavor of the cookie, the chocolate was just too over powering.  These are a keeper!!


1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 large egg
2 tablespoons molasses
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl cream together brown sugar and butter.  Add egg and molasses and beat until combined.  In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet a little at a time until fully incorporated.  Dough will be very thick and stiff.  Using a cookie scoop, make even sized balls of cookie dough and then roll each cookie ball in brown sugar and then  roll in your hands again to coat evenly.  Place cookies on a lined cookie sheet and bake for 13 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack and serve.

Cookies with Semi Sweet Chcolate Chips and Chopped Bittersweet Chocolate

Friday, March 2, 2012

Toffee Poke Cake

I seem to be making A  LOT of recipes from Pinterest lately.  I am a little obsessed with that site!!  I saw this Toffee Poke Cake AKA. Better than Sex Cake all over Pinterest boards and done in many different ways.  I thought it would make the perfect birthday cake for my husband.  This cake did not disappoint!  It was really delicious and decadent.......but better than sex?  I'll let you decide that for your self.


1 box devils food cake
1- 16oz jar caramel ice cream topping
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
1 container of cool whip, thawed
1 bag of Hershey's Heath Bits O'Brickle or 3 heath bars, crushed
Bake the devils food cake according to the package, except the oil. Reduce the amount by half. I baked mine in two round cake pans, but I'm thinking a 9x13 pan would have been less messy.
While the cake is still hot, poke holes in it using the back of a wooden spoon. Make sure you don't poke all the way through the cake.  (I used a stainless steel knife sharpener that I don't use to sharpen knives ;)
Drizzle caramel over the top of the cake. 

Drizzle the sweetened condensed milk over the caramel (I used half the can but you can use more if you would like) 

Sprinkle the Bit's O' Brickle or crushed Heath Bars over the top of the sweetened condensded milk. 

Allow cake to cool completely in the refrigerator.   I used round cake pans when I made the cake because I was going for a nicer presentation but you can use a 9x13 pyrex dish or cake pan which would work fine.  Next time I'm going to make and decorate the cake in a pyrex dish because it would just be much easier and less messy. 
However, if you did use round cake pans you will need to carefully remove the cakes from the pans and transfer to a cake platter to decorate.  Using a spatchula carefully lift the cakes from the pans.  It will be mess and gooey but mine came out without a problem.  Now  cover the cake with a thin layer of cool whip, then top with the 2nd cake and cover that cake with cool whip as well.  Sprinkle entire cake with additional Heath bar crumbles.