Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crab Cakes

Every summer, around the fourth of July, my family vacations on Whidbey Island. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the first time I visited this beautiful place. My husband absolutely LIVES for his week on Whidbey crabbing. Over the years, our boys have gotten into the act as well. I get to reap the benefits and eat the delicious abundance of dungeness crab that they catch. :) YUM! If we get to bring some crab home to Idaho, I love to make up some crab cakes. My favorite recipe for the last couple of years has been from Brian Boitano (yes, the olympic figure skater!)

If you can't get your hands on fresh crab meat, It is sold in the refrigerated seafood section of the grocery store and it's actually pretty good! (I buy it locally here at WinCo.)


Crab Cakes:

  • 1 pound lump Dungeness crabmeat, drained
  • 3 cups panko bread crumbs, divided
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil

Sweet and Tangy Remoulade:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce
  • 2 teaspoons orange juice
  • Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 8 cups baby arugula
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a medium bowl add the crabmeat, 1 cup of the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, hot sauce, 1 egg, parsley, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, to taste, and gently combine. Divide the crab mixture into 6 equal patties and arrange on a sheet pan lined with waxed paper.
Set up a breading station using 3 baking dishes or pie plates. In the first dish combine the flour with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. In the second dish whisk together the remaining 2 eggs with 1/4 cup of water. In the third dish combine the remaining bread crumbs with a pinch of salt and pepper. Dredge the crab cakes in the seasoned flour, then in the egg wash and then coat them thoroughly in the bread crumbs. Arrange on a sheet tray.
Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the cakes in batches of 6 until brown and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
Sweet and Tangy Remoulade:
In a small bowl whisk together all of the remoulade ingredients and set aside until ready to use.
In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, orange juice and mustard. Add the arugula, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and toss to coat.
To Serve:
Divide the salad equally between 6 plates. Top with a  crab cake, drizzle with remoulade and serve.

Here is a picture of some of the Renn men crabbing last week.  It's hard work but it always pays off!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Prom Date Peeps...

It's prom season and I've been wanting to make these little chocolate covered "Prom Date Peeps".  Well last night my little guy Nate and I got out the chocolate, started melting...  and then everything went wrong!  It was actually quite hysterical!  Nate bounces on his yoga ball constanly because he has more energy than that Energizer Bunny.  Well he bounced into the kitchen as I was trying to make these...
He kept stealing them and getting chocolate all over himself and his yoga ball and his butt and the floor and my kitchen, etc., etc.  I think you get the picture!!

I also tried to make these little tuxedo strawberries which came out slightly better than the Peeps but still, pretty much a big mess!

Oh well, not every treat can be "Martha-worthy"!  It sure was good for a laugh though.  And this little guy really enjoyed himself!

Blessings to you!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Citrus Glazed Salmon

I love salmon and there are so many different ways to prepare it. The following recipe is my favorite one for salmon because its super simple, it cooks in just 6-8 minutes and it's delicious! The recipe is from my favorite foodie nerd, Alton Brown.

Citrus Glazed Salmon


  • 1 side, skin-on, sockeye salmon, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, pin bones removed
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Position a rack in the oven 3 inches from the broiler. Line a half sheet pan with aluminum foil and place the salmon on the pan.

Place the sugar, zest, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a small food processor and process for 1 minute or until well combined. Evenly spread the mixture onto the salmon and allow to sit for 45 minutes, at room temperature.

Turn the oven on to the high broiler setting for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, place the salmon into the oven and broil for 6 to 8 minutes or until the thickest part of the fish reaches an internal temperature of 131 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the salmon from the oven and allow to rest, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.


Red Velvet Cake and Rose Cake Tutorial

Hi there!  Recently I was reading some of my favorite cooking and baking blogs and came across this Rose Cake Tutorial from I Am Baker.  It looked so gorgeous, I knew I had to try it!  I bake mostly cupcakes, not a whole lot of cakes so I was stepping out of my box a little bit.  It was pretty easy and the result is a real show-stopper!  I decided to make it for my Bunco gals on a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.

Here is one of my favorite Red Velvet cake recipes...

Red Velvet Cake

(from Cooks Country Magazine Dec 2006/Jan 2007 issue)

Serves 12

Ingredients for cake:
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
Ingredients for frosting:
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs in large measuring cup. Mix cocoa with food coloring in small bowl until a smooth paste forms.
2. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add one-third of flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add half of buttermilk mixture and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl as necessary and repeat with half of remaining flour mixture, remaining buttermilk mixture, and finally remaining flour mixture. Scrape down bowl, add cocoa mixture, and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, give batter final stir. Scrape into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.
3. For the frosting: With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in vanilla and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.
4. When cakes are cooled, spread about 2 cups frosting on one cake layer. Top with second cake layer and spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 3 days.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I LOVE this banana bread recipe and I'm not even a big fan of banana bread.  Must be the chocolate chips.  Love me some chocolate chips! 

This banana bread is a favorite of my son, Joe.  I'm going to bake some for him tomorrow.  :)

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for about 3 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. I use the mini chocolate chips because they don't sink to the bottom.  Add the nuts (if you like nuts, totally optional).  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Don't get nervous if the banana bread develops a crack down the center of the loaf; that's typical.  Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. Toast the slices of banana bread, dust with powdered sugar, and serve.

I'm pretty sure this recipe originally came from one of Tyler Florence's shows.  I've been making it for years so it's hard to remember!  I'm also pretty sure the chocolate chips were my addition.  :)


Monday, March 21, 2011

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

Jordan Marsh was a Boston-based department store founded in 1841 by Eben Jordan and Benjamin L. Marsh. With the rise of retail conglomerates, Jordan Marsh became part of Allied Stores (1931) and then Federated Department Stores (1988), a move that renamed all stores Macy's.

On the first floor of the flagship store Jordan Marsh held a bakery famous for its delicious blueberry muffins. The bakery had been a vital part of the shopping experience at the store. In the early 1990s Jordan Marsh closed its bakeries followed shortly by Macy’s acquisition of the store. Since the closing, the blueberry muffins have became the focus of much lore around the Boston area. A December 2004 Boston Globe article put it best: "For decades, any decent downtown shopping trip ended at Jordan Marsh, where the promise of a sugar-crusted blueberry muffin could make annoying children angelic."

After the store's closing, former Jordan Marsh baker, John Pupek, opened the Jordan Marsh Muffin Company in Brockton, MA. Pupek’s company made thousands of blueberry muffins a week, as well as other delicacies made famous by Jordan Marsh. In 2004 he decided to close his store and hang up his apron for good. Fortunately for us, we can bake these at home.  Here is the recipe:

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

  • 1/2 cup  unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups blueberries
  • sugar for tops of muffins
Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-mold regular size muffin pan with paper muffins cups.
Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter, sugar, and salt until soft. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until light and fluffy. Whisk the flour and baking powder together, and stir into the batter, alternating with the milk. Stir in the vanilla. Mix until just incorporated. 
Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Spoon batter into the 12 muffin cups.
Sprinkle sugar on the tops of the muffins.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are light gold and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing each muffin and placing on a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sugary Shamrocks!

Top o' the mornin' to ya!
Here is my recipe for wicked good, melt in your mouth sugar cookies!

Sugar Cookies

  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until well blended. (About 2 minutes) Roll out the dough on floured work surface. Cut into desired shapes. Bake for about 15-17 min. depending on the size of your shape, until golden.
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp warm milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch ofsalt
  • food coloring of choice
Combine all ingredients. Mix well in stand mixer with whisk attachment. Chill icing for about 15 minutes while cookies are baking. Spread a thin layer of icing on the cookies while they are still warm. Add sprinkles before icing hardens. Transfer to a cooling rack.

I put the cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes to let the icing harden and then I package them in cello bags to give away.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homemade Irish Cream Liquor

I just saw a recipe for Irish Cream Cupcakes that I am dying to try (will share that recipe later) and I don't have any Irish Cream.  Well it's snowing like crazy out so instead of going to get some I'll make my own!
(And yes, I do have all of these ingredients on hand) :o)

Here is my recipe:

Irish Cream Liquor

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated) 
  • 1 2/3 cups Irish whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules or instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Mix all ingredients in a blender on high for 30 seconds.  This will keep in the fridge for about a month.


Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

Here is another quick weeknight dinner recipe for you.  It's from one of my favorite chefs, Tyler Florence.  It takes hardly any time at all and tastes just as good as what you would get from an Italian restaurant (even better if you ask me!).

Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

  • 1 pound linguini
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
  • 20 large shrimp, about 1 pound, peeled and deveined, tail on
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves


For the pasta, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it has come to the boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the linguini. Stir to make sure the pasta separates; cover. When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta reserving 1 cup of water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm. Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta and reserved pasta water. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and serve immediately.

I like to add a bit of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese on top but some people don't like to add cheese to seafood dishes.  I say cheese is good with everything!


Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Pi Day! (3.14)

I love me some Pie!  My favorites are Key Lime in the summer and Apple in the fall and Chocolate Silk all year long!

Williams Sonoma posted on their Facebook Page a link with 74 pie recipes!

I am dying to try this recipe for Key Lime Pie from The Pioneer Woman!  She recently posted one for Chocolate Silk Pie that looks delish too!

I am a little under the weather today so I won't be baking any pie but will bake one sometime this week, for sure!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

This is one of my favorite quick recipes.  I love Chinese food but we don't have many options for take out here in my little town.  I saw this recipe on Emeril Lagasse's show a few years ago.  I've changed a few things but it's pretty close to the original.  My son, Nick, asks for it often!  I hope you'll try it!


  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 4 teaspoons rice vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 teaspoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 2 pounds top sirloin or petite sirloin steak, thinly sliced across the grain
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 large heads broccoli, cut into florets and blanched
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or more or less to taste) 
  • Steamed white jasmine rice


Whisk together the garlic, ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and honey. Mix well and set aside until ready to use. Preheat a wok or a large skillet. Once it has reached a medium heat, add 1/2 of the peanut oil. Dredge the beef in the cornstarch, lightly shake off any excess cornstarch and add 1/2 of the beef to the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/2 of the blanched broccoli to the pan and shake frequently.
Add 1/2 of the sauce and stir to evenly coat the beef and broccoli. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Repeat the process with the other half of the ingredients. Serve immediately with steamed white jasmine rice.

*It will be easier to slice the beef in thin strips if it has been partially frozen.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Soft Pretzels

My family absolutely loves this recipe for soft pretzels!  Everytime I've made them they have disappeared in a heartbeat!  The recipe is from Christa Rose.  Check out her blog, Le Petit Brioche.


  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 4.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butter, for brushing


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the center; add the oil and yeast mixture. Mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
  4. When risen, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into a pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is all shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.
I like my pretzels a little crispier on the outside so I baked them a bit longer but that is just a personal preference.  I also tried a batch with sugar and cinnamon instead of salt.  YUM!


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sticky Five-Spice Short Ribs

This is a recipe that I saw Aida Mollenkamp make on her show Ask Aida (love her show!) last summer.  The ribs turn out so tender and so flavorful!  I made them in my new Dutch Oven that I got for my birthday.  :)  I like to serve them with some jasmine rice and some stir-fried vegetables.  Delish!


  • 1 1/2 cups dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 pounds short ribs, English cut
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1-inch piece ginger, sliced
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, halved


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle.
Mix together sherry, oyster sauce, and brown sugar until evenly combined; set aside. Pat ribs dry with a paper towel and season well with salt and five-spice powder.
Place a 3-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed, shallow pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat and add oil. When oil starts to smoke, add ribs and sear until well browned, about 2 minutes per side.
Remove ribs to a plate and set aside. Discard all but 1 tablespoon drippings, return pan to stove, and add garlic, ginger, and chile and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in reserved sherry mixture and bring to a simmer.
Return ribs to pan and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to oven to cook, turning occasionally, until meat is knife tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Increase oven to 400 degrees F and cook, covered, until ribs are sticky, about 30 more minutes.

I love me some jasmine rice!  Here is my recipe for Orange Cilantro Jasmine Rice:

  • 2 C jasmine rice
  • 2 1/2 C water
  • 1 TBSP orange zest
  • 2 TBSP fresh cilantro (roughly chopped)
Rinse rice and drain.  In a medium sauce pan, add rice, water, and orange zest.  Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to low.  simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Fluff with fork then stir in fresh cilanto and serve.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

DIY cupcake wrappers!

Along with cooking and baking, paper crafting is one of my favorite hobbies.  I was able to combine these hobbies for these gameday treats I made for last Sunday's Patriots/Jets game.  I am a die hard Pats fan and the game did not turn out as I had hoped it would, but the cupcakes were really yummy!  :)

I made red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  I posted the recipe here.  I love cupcake wrappers but they are so darned expensive to buy so I thought I'd design my own.  I was working on some projects for the paint company that I design for, Shimmerz Paints and thought I'd make some of my own cupcake wrappers and use their new paints to decorate them!  I drew some templates (3 to a page), printed them out on 8 1/2 x 11 white cardstock and cut them out.  I used some decorative scissors on the top curve.  I then used some paper adhesive to stick the ends together.   I sprayed some Anchors Away Coloringz paint from Shimmerz Paints on the wrapper and then gave them a little sparkle with Baby's Breath Shimmeringz.

For the picks, I printed out a sheet of the Patriots logo and used an scalloped oval paper punch to cut them out.  I then adhered them with a little tape to some red toothpicks and voila! 

For the finishing touch, I sprayed just a little bit of Anchors Away and My Bleeding Heart Coloringz on the frosting for a little color.  The paints are totally NON-TOXIC so no worries! To purchase Shimmerz Paints, go to their website here.

Here is a copy of the templates I drew to make these.  Just right click on the template, save and then print, cut out and decorate!

Have fun creating!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mac and Cheese

It's January and it's cold here in Idaho.  Warm, cheesy comfort food is pretty popular around here in the winter.  There are a million different recipes out there for mac and cheese and I say just use any of them as a base and add what you LIKE!  I love dried mustard and nutmeg in mine.  I love sharp cheddar cheddar cheese and some gruyere too. 

Here is how I throw my mac and cheese down...

Mac and Cheese
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 stick plus 2 TBSP butter (divided)
  • 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 C whole milk
  • 1 TBSP dried mustard powder (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 pound gruyere cheese  (grated)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 C panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 F. 

Boil macaroni for about 7 minutes in salted water until it is cooked but still firm and drain.  Set aside

Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a large pot.  Add flour and whisk constantly over medium-low heat for about five minutes. 

Add the milk and whisk together. 

Add the dried mustard, nutmeg and onion powder.  Cook for about five more minutes, whisking constantly. 

Add the cheese and stir until fully melted.  Add the salt and pepper (to taste). 

Add in the cooked macaroni and stir well.

Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish.

Melt the remaining 2 TBSP butter in a microwave safe bowl (in the microwave, hee hee).  Mix in the panko bread crumbs to the butter then sprinkle all over the top of the mac and cheese.

Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes uncovered until golden and bubbly.


P.S. Oh, by the way... if you are a bacon lover (my family is not - I know, the horror!) then add a little bacon fat into your butter and flour roux and add some diced bacon before baking.  You will thank me (but your arteries won't!)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

I must admit that this cake is the most time-consuming, complex cake I have ever made but well worth it if you have the time!  My dear sweet friend, Wendy, requested that I make this for her birthday.  She is allergic to wheat and this cake contains no flour!  Perfect!  I first made this for my Bunco gals back in December and to say it was a hit is an understatement!  I am still not able to perfect the perfectly whipped smoothness of the chocolate mousse in the middle layer (hence the visible flakes of chocolate) but practice makes perfect!

This recipe is from the genuiuses at Cook's Illustrated magazine.  It appeared in the November/December issue of 2009.  Try it!  I dare ya!  :)

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

For the bottom layer:
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces (plus extra for greasing the pan)
  • 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¾ tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
For the middle layer:
  • 2 tbsp. cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
  • 5 tbsp. hot water
  • 7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
For the top layer:
  • ¾ tsp. powdered gelatin
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 6 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
For garnish:
  • Chocolate curls

To make the bottom layer, butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325˚ F.  Combine the butter, chocolate, and espresso powder in a large heatproof bowl set over simmering water.  Stir occasionally until the mixture is smooth.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.  Whisk in the vanilla and egg yolks.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds.  Crumble half of the brown sugar into the mixing bowl with your fingers to remove any lumps.  Beat until incorporated, about 15 seconds.  Add the remaining brown sugar and continue to beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute more.  Using a whisk, mix one-third of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate mixture to lighten it.  Fold in the remaining egg whites gently with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain.  Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake until the cake has risen, is firm around the edges and the center has just set but is still soft (should spring back after pressing gently with a finger), about 14-18 minutes.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour.  Do not remove the cake from the pan.  (If not making the second layer right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to proceed.)

To make the second layer, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl; set aside.  Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Once melted, remove from the heat and let cool slightly, 2-5 minutes.

In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream, sugar and salt on medium speed until the mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds.  Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 30-60 seconds.  Whisk in the cocoa powder mixture until smooth.  Using a whisk, mix one-third of the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture to lighten it.  Fold in the remaining whipped cream gently with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain.  Pour the mousse into the springform pan over the cooled cake and tap gently on the counter 3 times to remove air bubbles.  Gently smooth the top with a spatula.  Wipe the inside edge of the pan to remove any drips.  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes while preparing the top layer.

To make the top layer, sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and let stand at least 5 minutes to soften.  Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl.  Bring ½ cup of the cream to a boil in a small saucepan.  Remove the pan from the heat, add the gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved.  Pour the hot cream mixture over the white chocolate and let stand about 1 minute.  Whisk until the mixture is smooth.  Cool to room temperature, about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the remaining 1 cup of cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken.  Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 30-60 seconds.  Using a whisk, mix one-third of the whipped cream to the white chocolate mixture to lighten it.  Fold in the remaining whipped cream gently with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain.  Spoon the white chocolate mousse into the pan over the middle layer.  Smooth the top with an offset spatula.  Return the cake to the refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2½ hours.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hearty Minestrone Soup

This hearty soup is my favorite to make in the winter.  It is healthy, full of vegetables and full of fiber yet has tons of flavor!

Hearty Minestrone Soup

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 ounces pancetta, finely diced (italian non-smoked bacon)
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 4 carrot sticks, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound swiss chard (red or green, just leaves) coarsely chopped
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 stems fresh thyme, finely minced
  • 2 stems fresh rosemary, finely minced
  • 1 15 oz can canellini beans (white kidney beans)
  • 1 32 oz box broth (beef, chicken or vegetable - whatever you like!)
  • 1/2 oz block fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 C fresh italian flat leaf parsley (chopped)

In a large, heavy stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the pancetta and saute until brown, about 4 minutes.  Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic.  Stir very frequently for about 10 minutes until soft and the onions are translucent.  Add the potato and swiss chard.  Season with about a teaspoon each of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Cook for about 3 minutes.  Stir in the fresh rosemary and thyme and the can of crushed tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the can of beans and 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add the fresh parsley.  Stir and season with more salt and pepper to taste.  Ladel the soup into bowls and serve with curls of parmesan cheese.

This is a gluten free recipe but you may want to make it a little more hearty by adding orzo pasta, ditalini pasta or my favorite tortellini!

White Chocolate Chip Cookies (with pistachios and dried cranberries)

I'm sure these cookies are not going to please the masses.  I'm going to hear things, especially from my family like "I don't like white chocolate", "I'm allergic to pistachios", "Craisins?  Yech!".  Well, these cookies are simply a selfish pleasure for ME!  I made a white chocolate bark this past Christmas with pistachios and dried cranberries and I loved it.  I thought, "I ought to make a cookie out of these ingredients!"  So today, I did.  Here's what I came up with...
White Chocolate Chip Cookies (with pistachios and dried cranberries)
  • 2 C unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 C white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C pistachio nuts
  • 1/2 C dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add eggs and vanilla.  Mix for another 2 minutes.

In a seperate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.

Mix dry ingredients into butter/sugar mixture slowly just until incorporated.

Fold in chips, nuts and dried cranberries.

Scoop out heaping tablespoon sized cookies (about 8 or 9 to a sheet).

Bake on baking stones or parchment paper lined baking sheets for about 13 to 14 minutes.

Cool for about 2 minutes and then transfer to cooling racks.

Recipe yields about 2 dozen cookies (but I doubled it because I like them a lot!)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Cookie week continues here at My Wicked Whisk! Today's recipe is for...

Big, Soft, Chewy Snickerdoodles

  • 1 C (2 sticks) room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup Hershey's cinnamon chips (these are hard to find but worth the search!) 

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat together (with hand mixer or paddle attatchment on stand mixer) butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Crack the two eggs into a small bowl and beat.  Then add to butter and sugar and mix well.

Whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.

Mix dry ingredients into butter mixture just until incorporated.

Fold in cinnamon chips.

Chill dough for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix 3 tablespoons sugar, and 3 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl.

Scoop tablespoon size globs of dough and roll into balls. 

Coat by gently rolling the balls of dough in the sugar/cinnamon mixture and bake for about 13 or 14 minutes on a baking stone or a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  The cookies may look like they are not baked inside but they are.  This will ensure a soft chewy cookie once cooled.
Let cookies rest for 2 minutes and then transfer to cooling racks.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.


Monday, January 10, 2011

I'm declaring this week Cookie Week!

I'm doing this simply because I CAN, and also because I really like baking cookies!  And most people I know really like eating them.  Seriously...  the sweet smell while they are baking and the warm chewy texture can put a smile on anyone's face! 

The general favorite around here is chocolate chip, thick and chewy chocolate chip.

I've tried dozens, probably hundreds of different recipes for chocolate chip cookies in my lifetime.  A couple of years ago I read an article in Cooks Illustrated (my favorite cooking magazine), the May/June 2009 issue to be exact, for The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.  The perfect chocolate chip cookie is certainly a matter of opinion and taste and this one was pretty close for me.  I made a few changes such as doubling the recipe, making them smaller and changing the amounts of a few ingredients and this is what I came up with...

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups nuts (optional) 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. 

In a skillet, melt 3 sticks of unsalted butter over high heat.  Simmer until the butter turns an amber brown color, about 4 minutes.  It will smell like caramel.  Pour into a large bowl and then add the remaining half stick of butter.  Stir until melted.

Browning the butter gives these cookies a deep caramel flavor.  If you like a lighter flavor and a fluffier cookie, beat room temperature butter with the sugar instead of using brown butter

Add sugars, salt and vanilla extract.  Whisk vigorously (with a strong metal whisk) for about a minute. 

Crack the 3 eggs into a seperate small bowl and lightly beat.  Add to the butter mixture and whisk vigorously for 1 minute.  Let stand for 3 minutes and then whisk for 1 more minute.  Repeat this one more time.  The batter should be glossy and smooth. 

Stir in flour/baking soda mixture with a rubber spatula, just until incorporated.   Do not overmix.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using). 

Scoop heaping tablespoons onto baking stones (my preference) or parchment paper covered baking sheets.  You should fit about 9 cookies per sheet.

Bake for 12 - 14 minutes until slightly golden.  Do not overbake! (unless you like your cookies crunchy, not chewy)  Let sit for 2 minutes and then transfer with a thin metal spatula onto cooling racks.

I'd love to tell you what this recipe yields, as in how many cookies, but my kids are always stealing the dough so I may never know for sure!  If you happen to make these cookies where you have no cookie dough theives around, let me know how many it makes for you!  :)


Friday, January 7, 2011

Welcome to My Wicked Whisk!

I am so excited to launch my new "foodie" blog today!  Before I tell you a little about me, I want to send out huge hugs and thanks to Divian Conner who designed my blog header!  I know Divian from the scrapbooking world.  She is so very talented as a scrapbooker, photographer and now a logo designer!  Check out her website here.

I've had my personal blog for several years.  I've used it primarily to showcase my paper crafts and personal photos and I plan on keeping it going.  Lately there have been more posts about food than anything so I decided to start "My Wicked Whisk" to share my passion for food with you.  The "wicked" in the title is meant as "wicked good" (a common adjective for Bostonians!).  I adore cooking and baking and I'm often asked to share recipes.  I am always happy to share, whether they are my own or from one of the fabulous foodie blogs that I follow.

I'm pretty much a homebody so cooking and baking are perfect hobbies for me.  While my craft studio used to be my favorite room in the house, I now spend more time in my kitchen.  Cooking is my new main creative outlet, much to the delight of my husband who we lovingly call "Special K" and my three hungry, growing boys.  My husband is in sales and just guess what he sells?  CHOCOLATE!  The chocolate salesman and the chocoholic.  Sounds like a romance novel, doesn't it?  A match made in heaven, I tell ya!

My specialty to cook is Italian which I learned by cooking along side my mom as a little girl.  Some of my best memories are those shared with my mom while rolling meatballs and watching our beloved Boston sports teams.  She passed away in 2005 but I often feel her presence with me when I'm cooking.  Cooking for people was my mom's way of showing people she loved them and I have definitely inherited that trait from her.  To me, food equals LOVE!

My favorite food to eat out is seafood, hands down!  Living in Idaho, I don't get a lot of fresh seafood to experiment with in my kitchen so I make sure I order it whenever I'm dining out if it's on the menu!  We often visit my husband's hometown of Seattle where we eat lots of fresh seafood.

Baking is also a passion of mine, especially cookies and cupcakes.  Piping a delicious buttercream frosting on a cupcake is close to euphoric for me!  I could spend a whole day making batch after batch of cookies, enjoying every minute.

I hope to share lots of photos, recipes, tips and reviews on this blog.   I also hope that it will be very interactive which means I'd love to hear from YOU!  I want to know what recipes you'd like me to share, what recipes you saw here that you've tried and I'd love to answer any questions you might have.

I hope you will become a follower and/or subscriber so that you will not miss one tasty bite! 

Cheers and Bon Appetit!