Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cheese and Onion Drop Biscuits

'Tis the season to eat soups because it's ridiculously cold.  Instead of eating bread with my soup, I like to mix things up by making biscuits.  They're a hearty accompaniment with a light soup and keep your tummy full.

To go with my butternut squash soup today. I made some cheese and onion drop biscuits. These were really tasty, and went well with the sweeter soup I made. I will probably make these with every soup since they don't require much effort.  I didn't even have to use buttermilk, instead adding white vinegar (or lemon juice) to milk.

Cheese and Onion Drop Biscuits

Ingredients for 6 large biscuits:

1 cup and 2 tablespoons self-rising flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tablespoons butter, cut into tiny pieces
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk and 1 tsp. white vinegar mixed together
4 tbsp. chopped green onion (green parts only)


Step 1: Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper
Step 2: Mix flour and baking powder, then blend in butter with hands until butter is mixed in
Step 3: Stir in garlic and onion powders, cheeses and green onion
Step 4: Stir in milk until just combined, add in more milk if needed
Step 5: Drop 6 even spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until tops are lightly browned. Eat immediately!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Apple Cake With Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Autumn is a great time to experiment with apple recipes since apples are in season.  In an effort to bake more goodies with apples, I decided to take a stab at an apple cake.  Personally, I did not like the apple tube pan cake that was all the rage two years ago.  The cake did not taste that great to me, especially after eating far superior apple goodies when I was in Europe.

With the impending hurricane, I decided to use the electrical equipment in the kitchen as much as possible, and chose to make an apple cake with cream cheese frosting (my husband loves cream cheese on anything).

The result was an impressive cake. My husband called it "crack."  The flavors in the cake itself form well after a day in the refrigerator.  It is important to only use cooking apples, since other types tend to turn into mush.  I went on the safe side and bought easily available Granny Smiths.

Apple Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting


6 peeled cooking apples (half grated by cheese grater, and half chopped finely)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda (fresh is always better)
1 cup chopped pecans

Frosting and Garnish:
5 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
6 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping or ready made dulce de leche, plus more for garnish
4 cups powdered sugar
Extra pecans for garnish


Step 1: Mix apples and sugar together in bowl, preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease 2 8-9 inch baking pans (place parchment paper on bottom of each pan if you're worried about flipping the cake over)
Step 2: Stir in eggs, oil and vanilla to apple mixture
Step 3: Add in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and stir to combine
Step 4: Fold in pecans, and pour half of mixture in each baking pan
Step 5: Bake for 35 minutes, and cool for ten minutes
Step 6: Make frosting by beating butter and cream cheese with electric beater until fluffy
Step 7: Add in caramel topping, and slowly add in powdered sugar until a frosting consistency is created
Step 8: Place one layer of cake on serving dish, and place scraps of parchment paper under cake so that it sticks out of cake
Step 9: Frost top of first layer, then place second layer on top
Step 10: Frost tops and sides of cake, and garnish with caramel and pecans, then remove parchment pieces and refrigerate until ready to serve

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Goat Cheese Stuffed Salmon

Salmon is one of the few types of fish I will cook and eat. I cannot stand to eat meat, and eating fish proves to be a chore for me most of the time. When I had plans to invite friends over for dinner, I decided to make something we could all enjoy.  I also wanted to make something that required minimal effort on my part, as I hate being the hostess who is stuck in the kitchen during her own dinner party.

This dish ended up being a sure fire hit. Fish topped with yogurt and mustard tends to retain a lot of moisture. What you end up having is a very moist fish that goes down easily.  This recipe also ended up being quite healthy.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Salmon


4 thick salmon pieces, thawed (buy frozen, as fresh is too thin to stuff)
1/3 cup low fat yogurt
1/4 cup dijon mustard
A few sprigs of fresh dill
Salt, pepper and olive oil to taste
4 ounces herbed goat cheese


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray baking sheet with cooking spray
Step 2: Create slits or incisions in salmon, and stuff with goat cheese
Step 3: Season salmon with salt and pepper
Step 4: Mix yogurt and dijon and spread over the top of the salmon fillets, evenly
Step 5: Top with fresh dill and bake for 15 minutes

Monday, November 12, 2012

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Ever since moving to the state of New York, I've noticed a few differences in the types of foods offered to the masses. In California, importance is placed on fresh fruits and coastal Mexican food. Whereas in New York I noticed high quality pizza, black and white cookies, and apple cider doughnuts.

As great as these doughnuts taste, they're far from healthy. My husband absolutely loves them, but as usual, continues to complain about his cholesterol.  That's when I noticed I had a never used mini doughnut pan in my kitchen. These little molds are great for making baked doughnuts. So with that in hand, I embarked on a healthy(ish) doughnut project.

These are a great breakfast item or any time snack. My husband gobbled them up in 2 days.

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts


1 tbsp. unsalted softened butter
3 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten or 1 serving egg beater
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup lowfat milk
2 tbsp. apple cider
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking powder (fresh is best!)
1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider
1/2 tsp. cinnamon


Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees and spray doughnut pan with cooking spray
Step 2: Cream butter, applesauce, sugar, and then add cider and egg and beat again
Step 3: Add in flour, salt, baking powder, spices, and milk in small batches, and spoon batter in doughnut pan, not filling completely to the top
Step 4: Bake 12-15 minutes and flip over onto cooling rack
Step 5: Bring sugar and cider for glaze to boil on medium heat, stirring regularly. The mix should reduce significantly
Step 6: Stir in cinnamon and glaze over doughnuts

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mushroom, Leek and Goat Cheese Tart

A vegetable based tart may be the best option for those unexpected vegetarian guests at holiday dinners. Instead of serving disgusting and tasteless tofurkey for the vegetarian guest, it's far more appetizing to serve something filling and tasty.

As usual, I don't like making tart or pie doughs, especially for week night meals. So I suggest using boxed pie crust mix. Both mixes will make one 11 inch tart.

This tart is a definite repeat for me. Adjust the pepper to your own tastes, but I like a lot of it.

Mushroom, Leek and Goat Cheese Tart


1 box pie crust mix (for 2 crusts)
3 tablespoons butter
1 lb mixed mushrooms, sliced and washed
1 large leek, washed, trimmed and sliced into rounds
1/8 cup milk
8 ounces goat cheese (herbed or regular), at room temperature
1 egg
1 handful of chopped parsley
3 sprigs of thyme, plus 1 chopped tablespoon
Fresh ground black pepper


Step 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prepare crust per directions on box, and set in 11 inch greased tart shell
Step 2: Dock dough (or use knife to puncture holes all over dough) and place parchment paper and a cup of dry beans on dough as a weight
Step 3: Bake dough for 10 minutes, then decrease temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 15 minutes and allow crust to cool
Step 4: Place large skillet on medium high heat on stove and melt 2 tbsp. of butter.  Add mushrooms, black pepper and thyme sprigs to pan, and cook for ten minutes, discard thyme
Step 5: On a new skillet, melt remaining butter on medium high heat and cook leeks for 8 minutes, discarding thyme again
Step 6: Mix goat cheese, milk, egg and black pepper and spread evenly on base of tart shell
Step 7: Add leeks to tart then top with mushrooms
Step 8: Top tart with chopped thyme and parsley, and serve warm or at room temperature

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chocolate Pumpkin Fudge

Fudge may be the quickest type of candy to make. A little goes a long way, and it does impress quite a few people.  The key to making good fudge is paying attention to the cooking process and constantly stirring the ingredients.

As it is fall, I decided to try to make a pumpkin fudge, but since I love chocolate in my fudge, I made a two-layer fudge. It doesn't matter which layer is on the top or the bottom, but the chocolate layer will be thinner in this particular recipe.  I found this recipe to be really impressive, and great for those who find chocolate fudge to be a bit too rich.

Chocolate Pumpkin Fudge

Ingredients for pumpkin layer:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cups unsalted butter
5 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 cups white chocolate chips
7 ounces marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Ingredients for chocolate layer:

2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter


Pumpkin layer

Step 1: Line 13 x 9 inch pan with foil and spray with cooking spray
Step 2: Combine sugars, butter, milk, spice, and pumpkin puree in a big sauce pan and place on medium heat stove
Step 3: Stir constantly over stove and once mixture boils, continue to stir constantly for 12 minutes until it hits 240 degrees
Step 4: Quickly stir in remaining ingredients until all chocolate chips and creme have melted into mixture
Step 5: Spread pumpkin fudge on foiled pan and let sit

Chocolate layer

Step 1: Place chocolate chips, condensed milk and butter in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds
Step 2: Place chocolate fudge evenly on top of pumpkin layer and refrigerate for 2 hours
Step 3: Cut with pizza cutter into even squares

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cheddar Cheese Loaf

In our household we're big fans of carbohydrates. Sure, I could be a bit thinner without that extra slice of bread, but everything in moderation, right?

Thus, I usually serve bread with most Italian dinners.  Often times I get bread at the numerous local bakeries in the state of New York. New York is very unlike my home in California. People are not afraid of bread, thankfully. But sometimes I want to change things up and try to make bread myself.  Often, that takes far too much time. This pushed me to start finding some great quick bread recipes for dinners.

This particular one is quite easy and great as a side for a traditional American meal.  This recipe makes two loaves. The buttermilk and baking soda work to puff of the dough to turn it into a bread.

Cheddar Cheese Loaves


3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. softened butter
4 oz. sharp yellow cheddar
1 3/4 cups buttermilk


Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease 2 loaf pans
Step 2: Whisk flour, salt and baking soda together in a bowl and add in all but one tbsp. of the butter by hand
Step 3: Add cheese and buttermilk in dough, stirring it in
Step 4: Divide dough into both loaf pans and cut shallow lines in the form of a cross on top of loaves
Step 5: Add remaining butter into crosses on loaves
Step 6: Bake 25-30 minutes and allow to cool before slicing