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Archive for the ‘Desserts, Yum.’ Category

An Apple a Day

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We bought a few apples, like a few dozen apples, a few weeks ago. As I was reading blogs and linking from one to the next I found a whole lot of apple recipes I wanted to try. Last weekend I tried two of them, both successes.

For dinner, Husband made this beautiful Chicken & Spiced Apples dish from Eating Well. The chicken was tender and full of flavor, and the apples lended a beautiful sweet and tart flavor to the plate.

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For dessert, I couldn’t help but make this Apple Custard Pie. I found this recipe on a blog, and I have no idea (I’m so sorry), where I found it. I used a store bought crust, because if you remember, I don’t do pie crusts. And the rest came together so quickly. Sliced apples, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and then a mixture of half-and-half, vanilla and an egg poured on top. Do the layers again and pop it into an oven. I wish, oh, I wish, I could remember where I found this recipe. The pie is soooo good. It’s not too sweet, the apples make it healthy, and the store bought crust was passable. But I’m not a crust snob. Let me know if you want the recipe. I’d be happy to type it up for you. Once I remember where it is!

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We stopped at Chocolate Celeste last week to pick up some goodies for some clients and man, oh, man was I impressed. I hinted last week at the conversation I had with Celeste’s owner and chocolatier, Mary Leonard, but you really need to see the chocolates as well. This first photo is of their new Asian Chocolate line. Flavors include pear, sake and ginger. I bought a box for Christmas Eve. If I can wait that long.

Chocolate Celeste is located on University Ave just east of Hwy 280. That’s right, smack dab, in the center of the city. So, really, unless you live out of state, there’s no excuse fo not stopping by to get some Holiday chocolate.

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Every year around this time I start to bake. I really don’t bake that often the rest of the year, but come December my kitchen is transformed with flour and powered sugar and cookie cutters. I always make Gingerbread Men. And usually the family specialty, Bon-Bon Cookies. After that I switch it up each year. This year I pulled recipes from Cooking Light, Martha Stewart and the Food Network. Here is the list I plan to make, we’ll see if I get through all of these.

Gingerbread Men

Key-Lime Thumbprints

Espresso Crinkles

Bon-Bon Cookies (recipe follows)

Meringues

Macaroons

Sea-Salt Caramels

Chocolate Truffles

There were also a few interesting options in the Star Tribune Taste Section last week. Guess I’ll see how much flour I’ve got.

Bon Bon Cookies
For the cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
1 to 1 1/2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla
3 cups floor
1/4 tsp salt
Candied cherries

For icing:
1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp cream
1 tsp vanilla
Food Coloring

To make the cookies:
Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla. If dough is dry (and it almost always is) add 1 or 2 Tbsp cream (you’ll have cream on hand for the icing). Wrap level Tbsp of dough around one candied cherry and roll into a ball. Place each ball about 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes.

For icing: Mix together sugar, cream, vanilla and food coloring. If you want two colors of icing (we always used red and green for the holidays) divide the icing before adding the food coloring.

When the cookies are still warm, but not too hot to handle, dip the rounded tops into the frosting. Sprinkle colored sugar or other decorations onto frosting immediately, before the frosting is set. Allow to cool and dry completely before storing.

Makes 3 dozen.

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Mexican Chocolate Bundt Cake

I brought a cake to pARTy the other night, and while I really, really wanted to make the Cinnamon Cake with Chili-Chocolate Buttercream, it seemed like too much work for a Friday night event. Instead, I bought a bundt pan. It was one of those things I’ve been meaning to buy and always forgot to grab when I made a Target run. So I made a special trip and picked up a beautiful blue silicon bundt pan.

Online, of course, I found a recipe for a Mexican Chocolate Cake and thought it looked good, and looked easy. The beauty of the recipe is that it called for a Devil’s Food Cake mix and then I just added some goodies to it. I think it took me about 7 minutes to mix it up before throwing it in the over, all the while the show Lost was paused.

The following night I attempted the glazes. The brown sugar – milk glaze was easy and really pretty against the dark cake. But the chocolate chip glaze came up clumpy and look like, well, it just wasn’t attractive. I tossed it. Yes, I tossed chocolate. I know it’s a sin, but it was runny and getting burnt, so I gave up. The cake was still beautiful and with a sprinkling of almonds it was complete. And the best part? It was really good. Really good. Not too sweet, but really moist and delicate. I didn’t even miss the chocolate glaze that was now in the garbage. Oh well. That recipe is a keeper and now that I have my blue bundt pan I’ll be making it more often!

Gus

Oh, and this is Gus. He’s one of the hosts. See his cow?

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Going out to dinner on Valentine’s Day is overrated. Restaurants are crowded, expensive and the staff would rather be home with their sweeties instead of bringing me plates of overpriced goods. So, this year, we stayed at home and cooked. And man, it was good. (Oh, and the photo? That’s Dog, with his V-day gift. Stuffed chocolate-covered strawberries. Woof!)


We started with Crab-stuffed mushrooms. Yes, I found them in the produce department at Lund’s, but still, they were darn good. The cashier at the store jumped out of her skin when he rang them up, demanding to know exactly where in the store I was able to find them. They were good, especially with some of the Ginger-Habanero hot sauce from St. John Spice.

Then we moved on to the main dish. The Truffled Shrimp and Crab Risotto from Cooking Light. The only change I made was to add just a bit of Parmesan cheese at the end. But I have to admit the reviewers were right and that the crab was barely noticeable in the dish. Next time we’ll scrap the crab and add more shrimp. And for those that think Risotto is intimidating, it’s not. It’s tedious. but really easy, and really hard to mess up. Just keep stirring. With it, we sliced up a tasty baguette from the Birchwood Cafe. I started my day with one of the special Strawberry, Banana, Chocolate Chip muffins and grabbed the bread while I was there. Can you imagine a better muffin to start Valentines Day with?

And then there was dessert. Almost as good as chocolate-covered strawberries, I made these great little (light) cakes from Cooking Light. The batter is made on the stove-top and was really easy. It calls for some chocolate chips, but I couldn’t help imaging how it would have been with cinnamon chips and a dash of cayenne. They’re so different, and so light, I think we’ll be trying that next time. Regardless, there are two more in the kitchen, waiting for tomorrow night. Hello Friday!!

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