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Category Archives: Dessert

Blueberry Pie

Some people have knacks for different things: a natural green thumb, the ability to see a design in their head, or maybe to be able to whip up any sort of pie on any occasion. Let’s just say my talents do not lie in the latter- or so I thought. Berry Pies have always been my great nemesis- I remember distinctly crying on several occasions over how awfully soupy it was or that I got the sugar ratio horridly wrong. For those of you who fear pies or berry pies at least (which I find the hardest kind), have no fear. This is a fail safe recipe! Why? because you get to cook the cornstarch BEFORE you hide it in the pie. There is no crossing your fingers and praying that your pie will not be runny, no more cringing as you cut into the first piece– you can confidently serve this pie to your best company!

So why you might ask did I decide to attempt a berry pie? Our first anniversary! I wanted to do something special as a dessert- what better for the man that should have “blueberry” as his middle name?! 😉

 

 

Filling:

 

Pastry:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 tablespoon vinegar
  • Flour, for dusting
  • Sugar, for sprinkling on top

 

 

Directions

Filling: Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and water. Add to a saucepan and heat rapidly until thickened. Set aside to cool as you prepare the pastry. Once cooled add the berries and lemon juice.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine flour, sugar and salt. Cut in shortening. Whisk together egg, water and vinegar. Add to flour mixture tossing lightly with a fork. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and using your hands combine dough. Separate into 2 single crusts. Line the bottom of a pie plate with 1 of the crusts.

Pour filling into dough lined pie pan, and sprinkle the lemon juice over the filling. Adjust top crust, cut vents and flute rim. Sprinkle top lightly with sugar. Place pie onto a baking sheet and into the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. Allow to cool, cut and enjoy!

 

 

 

*Taken from Food network’s website under “Country Blueberry Pie”

 

 

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4 Comments

Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Berry, Blueberry, Dessert, Pie

 

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Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes

I have always had a fascination with cupcakes, especially now with the new “cupcake wars” show that is on food network. 🙂 We did not have cupcakes in my household when I was growing up. The closest thing we ever had was when my mom made little itty bitty cheesecakes that you made in muffin tins… but no cupcakes. So I have always had this desire to MAKE a cake or a cupcake. So here are to my first cupcakes! I couldn’t seem to find a recipe that I liked, so this is a creation all of my own, but, I think they turned out gorgeously! A soft almost savory cocoa cupcake mixed with the sweet smooth seductiveness of the cinnamon buttercream frosting is sure to be a major hit! 

  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with liners. Cream butter and sugar until light and flurry. Lower, add eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk and sour cream. Set aside. In another bowl, sift four, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add buttermilk mixture and sifted mixture to creamed butter mixture. Beat until combined, being careful not to over beat. Using an ice cream scoop, divide into cupcake tins, being careful to be consistent in size. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, and then release from the pan and set on rack to cool.

Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs vanilla

Whip butter, cream cheese, and cinnamon together. On a slow speed, slowly incorporate powdered sugar. Add vanilla. You can spread with a spatula onto cooled cupcakes, or pipe with a piping bag.

 
23 Comments

Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Chocolate, Cupcake

 

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Date Raisin Apricot Cookies

 

So on this night that I made three loaves of bread, I was feeling especially creative. I had recently bought some dates from the store and was itching to use them. I started looking up recipes, and flipping through food magazines and cook books to see what recipes I could find that included dates. I wasn’t really finding a lot of “simple” things, after all, I’d already baked 3 loaves of bread and it was nearing 10 o’clock at night. I knew that Tom would be home in about an hour. Finally fed up with what I was finding, I decided to come up with my own on-the-spot cookie. “How hard could it be?”, I thought. I’ve made cookies since I was a child, most cookie recipes have basically the same sort of base. So I started making my little “date” cookies, and then suddenly I thought to add raisins to it, and then what about apricots? And soon the spices and creativity were flowing through my blood, and Viola! One of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted! 🙂 I often bring my cookies and treats to my work place, just to let people help me and Tom eat some of the goodies I make. Though I live in Chicagoland, there are still a lot of people who are reticent to new or “exotic” groupings of food. I even had a friend say “I would not normally try THAT combination…. but since you made it, I’m going to be open minded and give it a try” 🙂 and to her delighted surprise, she loved them! 🙂 I always have delight in “beating” people’s food dislikes. My husband has often gone on about different foods he didn’t like, and at about maybe a 98% success rate on my part, I’ve been able to convert him over on most of them. 🙂 

 

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp black strap molasses
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped, pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together butter, shortening, and brown sugar. Mix until smooth and without lumps. Add molasses, vanilla and eggs. Beat by hand in bowl until sugars start to dissolve. Add dates, raisins and dried apricots. In a separate bowl, mix together cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, flour, and baking soda. Slowly add dry mixture to wet, mix well. Add rolled oats.

 

On a non-stick baking sheet, drop cookies, being sure to make them uniform size. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just lightly browned on tips. Release from pan and cool on rack. Enjoy!

 
11 Comments

Posted by on January 13, 2012 in Cookie

 

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Cinnamon Rolls

When I was growing up, I remember with great fondness how my mom used to make us cinnamon rolls every Sunday morning. To be honest, I can’t remember if she made them the night before or the morning of, but regardless, I still remember looking forward to them every week! I do have to hand it to my mom and my Italian heritage for my love of food. Cooking at a young age and being surrounded by good food has always fed my desire to bake and cook! 

Dough:

  • 1/4 oz. package yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup scalded milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • dash of cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 3 1/2 cups to 4 cups all purpose flour

In a bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until the yeast bubbles. In a large bowl, mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt, egg, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add yeast mixture. Mix in 2 cups of flour, incorporate until smooth. Add remaining flour. Knead dough for 5-10 minutes on floured surface. Transfer to well greased bowl, and place in warm oven*. Let rise for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, or lowest temperature on oven, once oven feels comfortably warm, turn off temperature, and place dough inside. If for some reason during the rising process the oven cools off too much, repeat the first step.

 

 

 

Filling:

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • dash of cloves
  • 3/4 cup raisins or dried apricots, optional

When dough has doubled in size, punch down and roll out on a flat surface, about a 15×9 rectangle . Spread softened butter over dough, and sprinkle on filling. Press into dough. On the longest end of your rectangle, begin to roll up dough and pinch ends to seal. Cut into 12 to 15 slices.

With remaining butter, spread onto pan. Place cinnamon rolls close in pan, but not touching, leaving room for them to grow. Place back into a warm oven, and let double in size, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until just slightly browned on top.

 

 

 

Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In small bowl, combine the butter and cream cheese. Using an electric mixer, beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat in slowly at first, and then on high. Slowly add in vanilla extract until creamy. Frost hot cinnamon rolls, enjoy!

 

 
30 Comments

Posted by on January 8, 2012 in Bread, Cinnamon Rolls, Dessert, Sweet Bread

 

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Decadent Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

My grandmother and I have always shared a love of dark chocolate. When I was in college, Gramma made this dark chocolate cake, and was it divine! Since then, we have commonly referred to it as the “decadent” chocolate cake! 😉

Well, I was merrily making this lovely cheesecake, and it called to add cocoa powder… and somewhere in the back of my head, I remembered that I had a can of DARK CHOCOLATE cocoa powder! I could only imagine that if that decadent chocolate cake tasted so wonderful, that a decadent DARK chocolate cheesecake should taste just as divine!(And wow was I right!)

This cheesecake, by far, is the best cheesecake I have ever made. Many times with cheesecake, you can only have a small bite, a small sampling, or a small sliver of sorts because of the richness and almost cloyingly sweet taste your mouth gets after an entire piece. Not so with this lovely piece! The savory flavors of the dark chocolate, contrasted with the rich flavor of the chocolate crust and the berries on top, create a world of beautiful balance! The only next feeling is that you must have another bite of that!

I would not recommend making this cake, unless you have a special occasion to go to. Why? Merely because, on my own, I would have eaten the ENTIRE cheesecake singlehandedly!

Crust:

  • 2 cups Oreos, ground
  • 4 tbs sugar
  • 6 tbs butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine Oreos, sugar, and butter. Mix with a fork. Press into a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Cheesecake:

  • 3 cream cheese (total of 24 oz.)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • Berries of choice for topping

Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Beat cream cheese until it has a light a fluffy appearance. Add sugar and continue to beat on high, making sure to clean off the sides of the bowl to ensure a thorough mixing. Add cocoa powder and vanilla, mixing slowly at first. Add eggs and mix well. Pour cheesecake mixture into cooled crust. Tap the cheesecake on a solid counter to take out any extra bubbles and to help prevent the cheesecake from cracking. Place in the oven, and bake for 35-40 minutes. When cheesecake appears almost completely done, turn off the oven, and crack the door, allowing the cheesecake to adjust to the outside temperature. This also helps prevent the cheesecake from cracking. Set aside to cool. Before releasing the cheesecake from the springform pan, insert a butterknife around the sides and circle around the cheesecake. Set aside to cool completely. Top with berries and frosting if you so desire*!

*Note: Do not decorate with berries and frosting until a few hours before you intend on presenting or serving this dish. Be careful also to let the cheesecake completely cool, otherwise your frosting will start to melt.

 
33 Comments

Posted by on December 26, 2011 in Cheesecake, Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Dessert

 

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Chocolate Pecan Bark

Yesterday was one of those days when you feel like making something…. but not really putting in the effort of baking. I always have these BIG dreams of making things, and then sometimes when I actually get to opening the flour bag, I lose the energy to do it. So yesterday included recipes that made me “feel” like I was doing big hard things… when they weren’t at all. These is an easy recipe and is very attractive.

  • 1 package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of toasted pecans, chopped
  • melted white chocolate for drizzling about 1 cup

Melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave or on the stove in a double boiler. Spread the chocolate on wax paper in a 9×13 rectangle, leaving it at least 1/4 inch thick. Toast the pecans sprinkle over the chocolate. Press into the the chocolate. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the chocolate pecan mixture. Set aside until hard. Break into irregular shapes.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Chocolate, Dessert, Nut

 

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Frosted Sugar Cookies

Being a music teacher, I have many opportunities and liberties to do fun things with my students. Each semester I help my students prepare for a recital, Christmas and “Spring”. My first year as a music teacher, my students seemed to lack the drive to practice their songs. Slightly stumped, I decided to do a slightly different incentive and announced a “cookie week”. I set up a system of “points” where the children might earn cookies as rewards. I wasn’t entirely sure what to make, but I figured my best bet would be to make the two most popular cookies: chocolate chip and sugar. My chocolate chips had always been a wild success, but I had never yet made a sugar cookie. I called up my mom and asked for a recipe which she had previously used as a “cutout” cookie recipe. I was definitly not going to be cutting out cookies for over 50 students, especially when you could earn up to 5 cookies for each student!

I don’t remember all of the details of how this recipe transformed into what it is today, but I think some of it was experimentation, and some of it was accident. Either way, these cookies are OUT OF THIS WORLD. After I made them that very first year, I have had students and teachers alike requesting I make them again. The cookies became a bit of a legend around the school and each year when I would announce it being time for “cookie week” I would see the excitement in my students eyes, and magically all the work I wanted them to do would miraculously happen!

Last year, because of wedding preparations and whatnot, I never got around to making the cookies. This year when I announced to one of my students about the upcoming “cookie week”, he replied with big eyes “I’ve only HEARD about these cookies!”.

While I was preparing to make these cookies, my husband Tom told me I should call them the “try them if you dare” cookies. I laughed and asked him why, “well,” he said,” Because you can’t just eat one, you have to eat at least 5 or 6 and then you just have to keep coming back for more; they’re SO good!”

By far, my most popular cookies, these finiky little jewels are worth the trouble. Beware, the batter is incredibly addictive, but far more addictive is the end result! Do not make if you are trying to stay on your diet! 😉

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 3 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 cups flour

Preheat the oven to 357 degrees F. In a stand up mixer, beat together the white and brown sugar with the shortening. Add the salt. Beat in each egg. Add the vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the baking soda and buttermilk, set aside and let them react. The mixture should about double in size. Add the buttermilk mixture to the original batter and stir only just enough that the ingredients are combined. Add flour, if the batter looks too wet, add 1/4 c more. Cook for 8 minutes, or until there is a light tan color on just the tips. DO NOT OVERCOOK! Set to cool, and frost with your favorite frosting and sprinkles! 🙂

 
9 Comments

Posted by on December 5, 2011 in Cookie, Dessert

 

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