Tag Archives: baking

Sweet Rolls with Orange Glaze

Sweet Rolls with Orange Glaze

Sweet Rolls with Orange Glaze

When I began my first year away at college, I had heard about the dreaded “freshman fifteen”. It’s that bizarre anomaly that occurs the first time students go away to college and experience eating in the campus cafeteria where there’s not much that’s healthy, low calorie or pleasant tasting. Legend has it that most freshman will pack on fifteen pounds their first year. And sure enough, it happened to me. My mother claimed that when I came home for my winter break she hardly recognized me.

So do you know what the culprit was…Sweet Rolls. It was the one thing that the cafeteria at Rider University served that was actually edible. I used to eat them in mass quantities. So much so that the cafeteria ladies used to hide trays of them when they saw me coming so there would something left over for the other students. So that folks was how I began my lifelong obsession with the Sweet Roll.

Today I made these Sweet Rolls with Cardamom and Orange Glaze. This is not an overly sweet treat, they’re definitely more a roll than a pastry. I like to add cardamom which gives the roll a spicy-sweet taste and pairs very well with the orange glaze.

Sweet Rolls rising in the pan

Sweet Rolls rising in the pan

Sweet Rolls with Cardamom 

Adapted from the LA Times

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Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts

I love”homey” food, but you already knew that, didn’t you. Some people like to curl up with a warm blanket and a book, I myself, like to curl up with a hot cup of tea and a piece of cake. When curling up, it’s always best not to have a piece of cake that’s too sweet and sugary. No, proper curling should be done with a less sweet, almost bread like cake that will perfectly compliment a cup of tea. Ta Da! That’s where this Apple Loaf Cake with Pine Nuts comes in.

This cake is the BFF to a cup of tea. The “not-so-sweet” cake is filled with chunks of juicy apple and topped with earthy, crunchy pine nuts. Really, a perfect combination of flavors. This recipe will make two, 8″ x 4″ loaf cakes, so guess what, keep one for yourself and give the other to your BFF. Wrap it up in parchment paper and tie it with baker’s twine, and I guarantee, they’ll be very impressed.

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Apple Loaf with Pine Nuts

Adapted from Real Food, Winter 2013

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Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters

Each year, I live for that two month period that begins with Halloween and sees me through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. I’m totally grateful that it’s filled with family, fun and way, I mean way too much food. It’s a whirlwind of turkeys, hams, cookies, cakes and lots and lots of sugar. In fact, I think I need to detox from all the sugar still in my system.

Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters

Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters

But alas, it’s January 6th and the party’s over. The east coast friends have all gone home, the kid’s back at school and Mama is left jonesing for her next gig. Just business as usual. And so, I set my sights on Super Bowl Sunday.

The truth is, I don’t even like football, (did I just hear a gasp from all over America). But I love all the commercials, and who doesn’t love a good ‘ol half-time show. Ok, so just me. I know it’s a little far in advance, but I’ve already started planning my menu for game day. For dessert, I decided to serve these Banana Cream Pie Mini Shooters. Their taste scores a touchdown, but their small size won’t hit ‘ya in the end zone if you know what I mean. I know, lame football humor…

Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters

Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters

Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters

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Lemon Glazed Cookies

Lemon Glazed Cookies

Lemon Glazed Cookies

So, Mama’s sportin’ a new tattoo these days that reads, “I never met a cookie I didn’t like!”. Anyone who knows me, know’s that that’s true. In some circles I’m known as the Countess of Cookies or the Duchess of Dough. Come on, everyone needs a cool nickname, right. So now that I’ve established that I may have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with our friend, the cookie, let me tell you how I put that obsession to good use. This month, I had the privilege of participating in the fundraiser Cookies For Kid’s Cancer, a non-profit organization that raises funds for pediatric cancer research. They’re an awesome organization. Over 600 foodbloggers from around the world participated in the event which raised over $13,000 for the charity. That’s a lot of dough, for a lot of dough if you know what I mean. This was a worldwide cookie swap. I sent a dozen cookies each to three foodbloggers, and in return I received cookies from three fellow foodbloggers. Yes, Mama was in cookie heaven, and no, I didn’t share.

Lemon Glazed Cookies

Lemon Glazed Cookies

The cookie I chose to send to my designated recipients were these Lemon Glazed Cookies. I packaged them in white, vintage canisters, and I hope my fellow bloggers enjoyed them as much as I do. I also wanted to acknowledge the two bloggers who worked so hard to put this event together. They are Lindsay, from Love & Olive Oil, and Julie from The Little Kitchen. So let’s give these ladies a big round of applause. And so my dear readers, I wish you all a warm and wonderful holiday season, however you may celebrate it. And, if you’re so inclined I urge you to click on the Cookies For Kids Cancer website and send a little love their way.

Lemon Glazed Cookies

Lemon Glazed Cookies

Lemon Glazed Cookies From Great Cookies by Carole Walter

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Apple Pie in a Bag

Apple Pie baked in a brown paper bag

Apple Pie baked in a brown paper bag

It’s getting closer to the big day, you know what day I’m talking about, right? Thanksgiving, of course. It’s my most special meal, well it seems every meal is my most special meal, but this one definitely is. In fact, I am so excited I can hardly contain myself.  It’s the one day I will eat with reckless abandon. For me it’s a food version of a perfect storm. Every food I consider to be one of my favorites will make an appearance at my Thanksgiving table.

I embrace this holiday not just for the food, but for the fact that I truly am thankful for the food, and for my family.

I was speaking to my sister-in-law, Wanda the other day and she told me about a pie she makes that is my brother’s favorite. Since Apple Pie is a requisite for any Thanksgiving dinner I thought I would try it out before the big day. I was intrigued because this pie was baked in a brown paper grocery bag. She said that the bag kept the crust from over browning and that the apples became soft and tender and stayed juicy. Hmmmm, sounds like Mama needed to give this a try. Well Wanda, I was quite pleased with the results. I used a pre-made crust for this pie, but hey, if you’ve got the energy then go ahead and make your own crust.

Apple Pie baked in a bag

Apple Pie baked in a bag

Apple Pie in a Bag 

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Removing Apple Pie from the paper bag

Removing Apple Pie from the paper bag

Recipe: Easy

Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Life is funny, nothing ever stays the same.  Friends, please forgive me for getting all sentimental and philosophical on you, but this time of year brings back lovely memories for me. It doesn’t seem so long ago that by mid-October every year my boys and I would spend hours planning their costumes for Halloween, who they would walk the neighborhood with, and which candy I should buy to give out to the local revelers. But things have changed, my boys have moved on to begin their own lives, and my husband and I have been left here to celebrate Halloween alone, just us and a few bags of mini Snickers bars. I know, so sad.

In fact, things have gotten so bad that the local children will not even walk up my long, steep driveway for a measly mini candy bar anymore. In recent years I’ve had to go stand at the bottom of the driveway with “full sized” candy bars if I wanted to see any action.

Halloween is also that time of year when I can use pumpkin with reckless abandon.  I love to use it in muffins, cookies, cakes and pies, and I really can’t understand why it’s not popular all year round. One of my fall favorites is this Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze.  The cake part is mildly flavored with those traditional autumn spices, and the streusel filling is a perfect little surprise in the middle of the cake. What could be bad about pumpkin, nuts and chocolate.

So, one last thing.  Do you think it would be weird if I asked my 25 year-old son to let me dress him up as a Power Ranger so we could go house to house trick-or-treating together? I’m just kidding, kinda’.

Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Pumpkin Streusel Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Adapted from “Very Best Baking”

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Almond Pear Cake-Gluten Free

Almond Pear Cake

Almond Pear Cake

 

My favorite time of the year is the end of September when summertime evaporates into a fond memory and leaves turn golden and the air turns crisp.  Oh wait, that was my former life growing up on the east coast.  As Jimmy Kimmel said in his monologue last night referring to the autumn in Los Angeles; that it was a “bone-chilling 95 degrees today”. He went on to say, “that we have one season…and it’s the good one!”  I’ll be honest with you, since moving to the west coast I definitely do not miss the other three seasons, but I do have a major hankering for the fall. After residing here for three decades I still bring out the heavy sweaters and boots this time of year, and yeah, I’m sweating profusely in my effort to embrace the season.

It’s time to say good bye to the summertime fruity favorites; strawberries, blueberries, peaches and plums and hello to cranberries, apples, pumpkins and pears. I do love the latter as they harken the start of the holiday season, and all the celebratory family meals ahead of me.

My personal favorite fall fruit is pears. In this gluten-free cake, they are paired with almond meal, sliced almonds and fresh pear puree which results in an overly moist and flavorful cake. I think this Almond Pear Cake-Gluten Free will become one of your go-to desserts for the upcoming season.

Almond Pear Cake

Almond Pear Cake

Almond Pear Cake – Gluten Free

From USA Pears

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Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

It’s September, and son #2 is out of the house again living the high-life as a student in Santa Barbara where he’s studying to be an EMT. It’s a hard program, so let’s all pool our positive thoughts together and send them in his direction. Thanks guys! Anyway, he’s been up there about a month, but he’s coming home this Sunday and we’ve decided to have a little brunch in his honor…cause his mama misses him so much!  My parents are coming over, because they too miss him a great deal, and his big brother, son #1 is coming, but he won’t admit how much he misses his younger brother.  Ah, kids!

I’m preparing all his favorites; homemade waffles, fresh fruit and crispy bacon. He has requested that I bake this Chocolate Chip Cornbread which he likes toasted and topped with a big slab of butter. I’ve made cornbread a million different ways, but I particularly like this one for breakfast because it’s a little bit sweet and a little bit savory. If you can, it’s a treat to serve it right out of the oven.

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

From Bon Appetit

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Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Mama’s Tips: 

As with all batters, mix this one just until all ingredients are incorporated. Do not over mix.

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Chocolate Chip Cornbread

Recipe: Easy

Coconut Blondies

Coconut Blondies

Coconut Blondies

So, you’ve been invited to a Labor Day barbecue this weekend. That’s so nice. And the hostess asked if you would bring dessert, but you’re a little baffled right now because you can’t come up with something that’s sorta easy to make but tastes really good, huh? Well, Mama has a suggestion that you might like. It involves all the things I hold dear in life, which is chocolate, brown sugar, coconut and salted nuts. Yes I know, all rolled up into one!

I just can’t get enough of these Coconut Blondie Bars, each layer of these bars is delish on their own. You’ve got your chocolate shortbread crust, your creamy sweet Blondie layer, and then it’s all topped off by a chewy coconut macaroon topping. Now how good does this sound?

Your going to line your pan with foil so that when the Blondie’s have finished cooling in the pan, you can lift them out using the edges of the foil so that you can cut them into professional looking bars. To get extra clean cuts, I chilled mine for about 4 hours before cutting.

Coconut Blondies

Coconut Blondies

Coconut Blondies

From Better Homes & Gardens 

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Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

For years I was the proud owner of a 1980’s flip phone.  My life was good, and it was simple.  I could make calls and receive calls, and I lived in the moment. I wasn’t distracted by my electronic device like the masses of people around me. Yeah, you know who you are.  Sadly, I haven’t had a conversation with either one of my son’s in years because I can’t get them to put down their phones for more than three minutes. I wondered to myself, what was happening on these phones that was so riveting.  Was I missing out on something? Was I suddenly becoming obsolete.

I started getting a lot of pressure from my friends regarding my lo-tech device. They were frustrated because I couldn’t text them, or send them photos.  And so, much to my dismay, I gave in and recently purchased an iPhone 5 as well as an iPad. These devices, which I had regarded as the downfall of civilization as we know it, have become my new obsession. So, here I am totally detached from the people around me because I’m so busy texting, tweeting and Instagraming because lord knows, the world is dying to see another photo of the burger I’m having for dinner. I want to go back to my old life where I had meaningful conversations with people, but I’m afraid that’s no longer possible.  I have an app that helps me convert ounces to grams, and one that tells me which transit to take when I’m in New York City, and honestly that’s a whole lot more interesting than talking to people. Am I right, or what.

However, today, I told myself  “Mama, step away from the phone”.  I pulled out the cookie sheets and decided to return to my old obsession…baking. I decided to share with you one of my all time favorites, the Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti, which I will undoubtedly enjoy as I tweet a photo of the finished product.

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

Lemon Pine Nut Biscotti

From Great Cookies by Carole Walter

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