Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Years Eve 2011 Menu!

My New Years Eve party will have to be composed of easy, not necessarily impressive, but certainly delicious things that can be put together quickly in one day! So here goes the plans, subject to change for time constraints...

Something for every taste:

  • A whole bunch of wings from Buffalo Wild Wings with sauce and celery
  • Potato chips
  • Spinach feta triangles
  • Various flavors of baked quesadilla triangles with dips
  • Cocktail meatballs
  • Vegetables and dip
  • Mini apple pastries
  • Spiced pecans
  • Rum balls
  • Fruit cake


  • Soda and juice
  • Champagne
  • Caribbean martini (deemed the 2011 signature drink :) )

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

Christmas Blessings 2011....

... and adorable Christmas wishes from the Roses Christmas Kitty, Mireille. :)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Baking 2011

Lots of baking for Christmas :)

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies--I forgot to ice them! :(

Orange Cinnamon Cream Cheese Cookies--a spritzer cookie recipe that I rolled out :)

Gingersnaps, without molasses, rolled in pretty-colored sugar. Delicious!

Quick white fruitcake made with orange juice instead of brandy for my boyfriend's family. Wonderful! Next time I'll add some nutmeg and pour some orange juice over the top. :)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fruitcake Day 2!

I credit the base of this recipe to someone named Roxy, who said it was her grandmother's recipe.

It's simple. It doesn't involve beating egg whites.

It's also terrifying. Do not fear the recipe. The main ingredients (other than fruit) are... sugar and butter.

Put on Christmas music.

Prepare one of those pans with the hole in the center (like an angel food cake pan... what is the technical term?) by greasing and flouring it VERY well. (I learned my lesson on this the first time I made fruitcake.)

Mix together 2 cups packed brown sugar, 3 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking soda, 2 tablespoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons cloves, 2 tablespoons allspice, 2 tablespoons nutmeg, and 1-2 tablespoons ginger.

Now add FOUR eggs.

Add 1/2 cup brandy, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, and ONE AND ONE HALF cups melted cooled butter.

Take a deep breath. Remember you only eat a small slice of fruitcake at a time.

Add the prepared fruit as well as some chopped candied orange and lemon peel (see below).

Stir very thoroughly. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. About halfway through the baking I recommend covering the pan with foil to prevent the top from overcooking.

Turn the cake out onto a platter. Poke holes in the cake and pour a small amount of brandy over the top.

Keep doing this every two or three days until Christmas. :)


Fruitcake Recipe!
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons cloves
2 tablespoons allspice
2 tablespoons nutmeg
2 tablespoons ginger
4 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 cup brandy
1 1/2 cups melted butter, cooled
Prepared fruit mixture
Chopped candied orange and lemon peel
Extra brandy for pouring over the cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an angel food cake pan very well.
Mix together the dry ingredients.
Stir in the eggs, vanilla, brandy, and butter.
Add the fruit, orange, and lemon. Stir throughly.
Spread evenly into cake pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cover the cake about halfway through the baking to prevent the top from drying out.
Pour a small amount of brandy over the cake every day to three days until you're ready to eat it. :)
Making Candied Peel, Sarina's Recipe
Cut the fruit into four pieces and carefully peel off the rind.
Add the peel to boiling water and boil until the white part of the rind becomes translucent. Drain and pour cold water over the rind to make it easy to handle. Using a spoon, scrape out most of the white part of the peel. Pat dry. Cut the rind into strips and dredge in sugar. Allow to dry.

Preferably overnight.

Using a hairdryer to speed up the process doesn't work so well. I know.

And, uh, put waxed paper underneath if you use a wire rack so your counter doesn't end up looking like this:

Next step: Glaze and decorate the cake. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

FINALS ARE OVER; and, Fruitcake Day One!

Now that FINALS ARE OVER (my last final was at noon today), I get the chance to really get into the holiday season. Lots of baking is planned!!

Fruitcake gets kind of a bad rap. I mean, your average fruitcake is made of cake and alcohol. Therefore, you think it would be something that people would like. Probably it's because most people have only had the icky store-bought kind made with borderline-neon candied fruit....

There are dark and light fruitcakes, alcoholic and nonalcoholic fruitcakes, plain and marzipan fruitcakes, but for the most part traditional fruitcake is made of spices, pound cake, dried fruit, nuts, and brandy and/or rum. Many fruitcakes are aged, some for months and some for a week or two.

Regardless, my own personal fruitcake (the recipe of which was created by elaborate Internet searching and recipe combining) takes a minimum of 3 days. On the first day, I prepare the fruit.


Mixed dried fruit such as raisins, dates, apricots, apples... all kinds of things :)


Pecans or other nuts

Chop the pecans and fruit into medium sized chunks and dampen well with brandy. 

(I know nothing about brandy. I just bought this.)

The idea is to plump the fruit, as well as give it an nice brandy flavor. Dark or golden rum can also be used.


Now let the fruit soak overnight, adding more brandy if necessary. Cover the mixture really, really well. Those of you who have tupperware containers, this is an ideal time for use. Brandy and chopped fruit... are a fruit fly magnet. 

Fruitcake Making Day 1: Complete!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Make Chicken and Fettucini in Tomato Cream Sauce!

Yesterday my boyfriend and I decided to cook a delicious late-night pasta recipe, which I have dubbed Chicken and Fettucini in Tomato Cream Sauce. :) (It's adapted from this recipe here, from The Pioneer Woman.)

No pictures this time--I forgot to take them! You'll just have to trust me. :)

First, go to WalMart with boyfriend to collect ingredients. Buy some garlic bread while you're there, unless you're an awesome person who is good at baking and can make some yourself. :) Also buy Pumpkin Spice Milk.

This is a recommended step.

Go home and drink some delicious Pumpkin Spice Milk. Then, and only then, you can get started cooking. :)

Boil 1 to 1 1/2 lbs fettucini. Don't forget to add a tablespoon of olive oil... I inevitably do...

I followed the recipe and chopped 1 medium onion, but I'd recommend adding more onion than that, for sure.

Melt together 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions and crush in four cloves garlic. Mmmmm. Saute until the onions are less crispy.

Stir one quart tomato sauce and some salt, pepper, and oregano into the onion mixture, to taste. Add 1/2 cup white wine and simmer.

Hopefully your wonderful significant other will offer to chop the three chicken breasts for you, because frankly raw chicken is a little icky. Chop them (or have him chop them) into pieces that are about 1/2 to 1 inch, not too big. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the raw chicken.

Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and saute the chicken until cooked. It doesn't have to be cooked super-super-thoroughly because you are going to boil it in with the sauce.

Grate a bunch of parmesan cheese.

Briefly dance around the kitchen with boyfriend to Christmas music. :)

Now that your sauce is well boiled down and the onions aren't crunchy, add in 3/4 cup heavy cream and some parmesan cheese. How much cheese you add depends on how much cheese you like. Also, if the sauce is too thick you can add some more white wine and/or water. Bubble the mixture--not enough to burn it, but enough to cook it down a bit, especially if you added extra liquid.

Taste and add more cheese, salt and pepper as needed.

Add the chicken and bubble the mixture to ensure the chicken is cooked thoroughly and has a lovely flavor. :)

Pour the sauce over some fettucini and add some cheese on top if you like. Serve with garlic bread! Trust me on this one, it is wonderful.


Chicken and Fettucini in Tomato Cream Sauce.

Takes about 1 1/2 hours total including preparation, though for more efficient people it will probably take less time :)


1 to 1 1/2 lbs fettucini noodles, with 1 tbsp of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 to 2 medium onions, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 quart tomato sauce
salt, pepper, and oregano to taste
1/2 cup white wine, plus optionally, more to taste
3 chicken breasts, cubed into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces
More olive oil for sauteing
3/4 cup heavy cream
Parmesan cheese, to taste
Boil the fettucini noodles.

Melt together olive oil and butter. Saute finely chopped onions and garlic. Add tomato sauce. Stir in salt, pepper, and oregano (to taste), as well as 1/2 cup white wine. Simmer well.

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken breasts and saute in olive oil. Set aside.

Stir cream into the tomato mixture. Add cheese, to taste. If the sauce is too thick add water or white wine to thin.

Add the chicken. Simmer the mixture thoroughly. Add more salt, pepper, and cheese to taste.

Serve over noodles with garlic bread. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Welcome! and; I make Gingerbread Apple Upside Down Cake!

Welcome to my blog! Since this post is about cooking apple cake, here I am peeling apples, baggy sweater and all.

---Taken by my mother.

I embarked on a brand new recipe, Gingerbread Apple Upside Down Cake, adapted from this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Peel, core, and cut apples into thick slices.

Apparently, Apple Hill apples are wonderfully different than other apples, because I cut up the requisite four apples and probably only used two, perhaps two and a half. I used Honey Crisp apples, my favorite!

Melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add 1/2 cup dark brown sugar and simmer.

Now I like to think that I have become very good at sort-of timing things due to a darkroom photography class, so I would recommend simmering about 4-5 minutes, which is the amount of time you should fix a black-and-white print. :D

While the original recipe calls for a 10-inch cake pan, I discovered we were lacking in such things and used a 9 1/2 inch pretty blue pie pan. Here's the part where you butter the pan. Here's the part where I forgot to butter the pan! Oops.

Pour the carmel mixture into the pie pan and arrange the apples in a pretty pattern on top of the carmel. Fill in any large gaps. Set aside.

Cream 1 stick butter with 1/2 cup sugar. Here, the recipe calls for mixing the wet and dry ingredients separately and gradually adding them to the butter mixture. It probably makes it much easier to mix, and makes the cake fluffier.

I did not do this.

I am lazy.

Add to the butter mixture 1 egg, 1/3 cup dark molasses, and 1/3 cup honey. (Yes, this recipe contains FOUR kinds of sugar! Wow!)

The original recipe calls for 1 cup buttermilk, which I did not have, so I made sour milk from 1 cup 2% milk stirred with a little rice vinegar to curdle. In general sour milk gives a more delicate flavor and texture than buttermilk.

Lazy Person's Tip: Since you aren't adding things gradually and alternately, stir slightly as you go.

Add 2 1/4 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt.

The fun part is always the spices! They give that nice homey fall-y taste: 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp cloves. Next time I think I will add more a tad more spices, and maybe even some nutmeg!

Stir or mix until the batter is smooth. (I don't have a fancy mixer, though it's always been on my cooking wish list! In general, mixing the batter by hand can be done with ease, so it's more of a dream than a necessity for me...)

Pour the batter over the apples and carmel. Place in 325-degree oven.

I have this thing about preheating ovens--I never do. It makes greater cooks than I cringe, but I've never noticed a difference....

Warning! This cake behaves like a fruitcake! That means it needs to bake for a long time on a slightly lower temperature. If your oven has a speed bake, do not use it! You'll bake the top of the cake and not the center. Oops. That's why I don't have an exact baking time for you! Bake until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, which is about 40-50 minutes.

Turn the cake out onto a platter, expecting that the carmel might spill a little.

Delicious! And it makes a lovely coffeecake when it's cooled, by the way, despite the richness :)

Plans for next time: Try decreasing the sugars slightly. Add more spices.

Gingerbread Apple Upside-Down Cake (adapted from this recipe):


4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2-4 apples, depending on size


1 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup honey
1 cup milk plus a small amount of rice vinegar to curdle
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves