recipe

Surprise Ingredient Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Pies

I always get a smile when I offer someone a Whoopie Pie. Although baked liked cookies, Whoopie Pies are really more like small cakes, held together with a soft and creamy filling.

I added an unexpected ingredient to these, but it worked out pretty well. I added cooked, shredded beets.  I make a chocolate beet cake, so adding beets to baked goods is something I have done before.

I had been given a large quantity of beets a while back. I canned, dried and froze a lot of them. I decided to use one of the frozen beets to make these Whoopie Pies. I just thawed it out- it was cooked before freezing- and shredded it up.

It worked out well. They are really moist. They really aren’t much different from the original recipe, except moister and with a slight reddish hue. I am surprising my neighbor with them later. She did something really nice for me, and I wanted to thank her. She loves beets and chocolate- so it seemed like a good idea.

Here is the recipe for my beet version, and the original recipe, too. Just in case you don’t have cooked shredded beets laying around.

Chocolate Beet Whoopie Pies

Cookies:
2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
½ c. cocoa
2/3 c. half and half or milk
½ c. cooked shredded beets
Cream filling
3 T. flour
1 c. milk
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
2 t. vanilla
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar

Heat oven to 375-degrees. Line baking sheets with foil and coat with non-stick spray. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in vanilla and eggs then beat in cocoa. Beat in beets. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk. Drop 2 tablespoons of dough on prepared sheets for each cookie, spacing 3 inches apart. Shape into 2 1/4-inch rounds, trying to keep them even as they will be sandwich cookies later. Bake 12-14 minutes, cookies should spring back when touched lightly. Let sit on baking sheet 5 minutes then transfer to rack to cool. Prepare filling: Combine flour and milk in saucepan until smooth. Heat over medium, stirring until thickened and bubbly. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the butter. Place wax paper directly on surface of the mixture and let sit until cool to the touch about 45 minutes. Beat in remaining butter, vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth and fluffy. Sandwich cookies together in pairs with about 2 tablespoons of the filling. Store between wax paper in airtight container. Makes 15.

Whoopie Pies

Cookies:
2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1/3 c. cocoa
3/4 c. milk
Cream filling
3 T. flour
1 c. milk
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp.
2 t. vanilla
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar
Heat oven to 375-degrees. Line baking sheets with foil and coat with non-stick spray. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in vanilla and eggs then beat in cocoa. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk. Drop 2 tablespoons of dough on prepared sheets for each cookie, spacing 3 inches apart. Shape into 2 1/4-inch rounds, trying to keep them even as they will be sandwich cookies later. Bake 12-14 minutes, cookies should spring back when touched lightly. Let sit on baking sheet 5 minutes then transfer to rack to cool. Prepare filling: Combine flour and milk in saucepan until smooth. Heat over medium, stirring until thickened and bubbly. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the butter. Place wax paper directly on surface of the mixture and let sit until cool to the touch about 45 minutes. Beat in remaining butter, vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth and fluffy. Sandwich cookies together in pairs with about 2 tablespoons of the filling. Store between wax paper in airtight container. Makes 15.

Gluten- Free Potato “Breaded” Chicken

Potato “Breaded” Chicken

I love my Mom’s breaded chicken. It was a staple at summer outings. I still make it. Pretty classic, with a flour dredge, egg dip and bread crumbs.

I needed a different option the other day, when making lunch for a friend who can’t eat gluten. I just “breaded” the chicken with potato flakes.

I sometimes use potato flakes as a gluten free thickener for veggie soups and the like. I have also used them as a coating for chicken and fish before.

Even if you can have bread crumbs, the potato flakes are a fun way to coat chicken, fish or pork. They give you a nice, crispy crust.

The chicken breasts I had were pretty thick, so I cut them into  thinner pieces to help them cook faster, and more evenly. You could also cut them into nuggets, if you prefer. I pan fried, but you can also brown them a little, and finish in the oven, if you prefer.

 

Potato “Breaded” Chicken

½ mayo
1 c. potato flakes
Salt and pepper
4 chicken breasts, boneless or 6 boneless chicken thighs
Oil

Spread chicken pieces with the mayo. Season the potato flakes with a little salt and pepper. Place potato flakes on a plate or in a shallow dish. Coat the chicken pieces with the potato flakes, pressing a little to cover well. Heat oil in skillet until really hot. Cook chicken pieces in skillet, on both sides, until golden brown. Turn heat down to medium and continue cooking until chicken is cooked. Serves 3-4.

Microwave Hollandaise Sauce

Asparagus with Poached Egg and Hollandaise

When you serve Hollandaise sauce, everyone seems happier. For the first course on Easter, I served fresh asparagus, topped with poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce. It was a special request, and much appreciated.

It was not difficult at all. Really.

I have made Hollandaise the traditional way, whisking over simmering water, being careful not to scramble the eggs. I always felt a good Hollandaise was worth the effort. But why not make things easier on yourself, if you can?

This is probably the easiest Hollandaise sauce I have ever made. So much simpler than whisking over simmering water. The end result is every bit as yummy as the traditional method. The whole sauce is made in a microwave oven, and in just a few minutes.

I love my microwave. Every time microwave ovens come up in discussion on food-related social media, the haters pop up. People proudly proclaiming how they would NEVER own one. Really? You never get that response about food processors or juicers.

While there are limits to what you can cook in a microwave oven, there are plenty of great uses, too. I make cashew brittle in mine. I also love to cook rice in my microwave. My usual breakfast of oat bran is made in the microwave almost every morning.

If only to make this Hollandaise sauce, I would still own a microwave.

So here is the recipe. I hope you like it as much as I do.

 

Microwave Hollandaise

1 stick ( 1/2 cup) butter

3 egg yolks

1 1/2 T. lemon juice

pinch of salt

fresh ground pepper, optional

In microwave safe bowl, soften butter. This will take 10-15 seconds. Don’t melt the butter, just soften it. Watch carefully. It may take less time if the butter is already room temperature, longer if butter is cold. I often make a double batch, so allow a few more seconds for larger quantities. Whisk together the egg yolks and lemon juice. Whisk the yolk mixture into the softened butter. Let stand on the counter a minute or two. Place in microwave and cook on high heat for 15 seconds. Be careful- only 15 seconds at a time. Whisk the mixture and return to the microwave, cooking 15 seconds. Repeat this process until sauce is thickened, smooth and shiny. It should take 3-4 of these 15 second cooking sessions, but ovens vary. It takes a little longer if you double the batch. Don’t worry if the sauce doesn’t look smooth the first time you whisk all the ingredients together. It gets smoother upon further cooking/whisking. Season with salt and pepper to your own taste. Enjoy with Eggs Benedict or as a sauce for steamed veggies.

Easter/ Spring Pierogi

Easter/Spring Pierogi

I already enjoy making pasta with veggie- based dough. The colors are so pretty, and I love the way they taste. So, since it is almost Easter, I went a step further and used my veggie-based dough to make pierogi.

They remind me a little of Easter eggs. They came out so nice, I will be making them on Easter.

I used a potato and cheese filling, so that part is pretty traditional. The pierogi are also a nice choice for a meat-free dinner.

I served them with sauteed onions and sour cream.  Here is the recipe for all.

 

Easter/ Spring Pierogi

 All of the vegetable doughs were mixed using a food processor. If you want to mix them by hand- puree the veggies first.  Once the doughs are made allow them to rest at least 30 minutes. Since veggie pasta dough tends to be a little softer than traditional pasta- I actually prefer to make them a day ahead and chill. Chilling the dough, even for an hour, will help. The traditional pierogi dough was mixed in a stand mixer.

To make the pierogi a little sturdier, you can also make regular pierogi dough and mix a little of that dough in with the veggie-based doughs.

When ready to roll out your dough, grab a hunk of each dough and press them together. If the the dough is a little sticky that will help. Then on a floured surface roll out to the desired thickness. Folding and rolling a couple of times helps to mix up the color pasta better. I use a template to make my pierogi- but you can cut them out with any round cutter or even a glass or jar. Spoon filling of your choice on center of dough circle. Fold dough in half over filling and press edge with fork to seal. Wetting the edge of the dough will help the dough to stick. Don’t overfill or pierogi will split. Test a couple first to get the hang of it. Place a few at a time into salted boiling water and cook until they float. You can eat them as is, or brown cooked pierogi in butter in a skillet. Serve with grilled onions and/or sour cream. We would often make a larger batch and then freeze them, uncooked, on wax paper-lined baking sheets. When frozen they would be transferred to a freezer bag or container. Place right from the freezer into boiling water when ready to use.

 

Carrot Pasta

1 c. flour

1/2 t. dried dill

1/3 c. carrot puree

1-2 T. water, if needed

   Beet Pasta

1 c. flour

1/2 t. dill

1/3 c. beet puree

1-2 T. water, if needed

Spinach Pasta

2 c. flour

1 10 oz. package frozen spinach, cooked, drained, reserving some of the liquid

Mix this dough as for other pastas, but don’t be too quick to add reserved liquid. While kneading you’ll get water out of the spinach. May require more kneading and rolling than other pasta doughs. Be patient, it’s worth the work.

Classic Pierogi Dough

2 c. flour
1 t. salt
½ c. water (you can also use half milk and half water)
1 egg
Mix all ingredients together and knead on floured surface until smooth. Cover and let rest at least 15 minutes. Roll out thin and cut into circles. Re-roll scraps. You should get between 20-30.

 Pierogi Filling

1 lb. Potatoes, peeled and boiled
4 oz. cream cheese – normally I would use farmer’s cheese or cottage cheese, but cream cheese was what I had
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, optional
salt and pepper to taste
Mash potatoes with other ingredients and season to taste.

I usually add some chopped sweet onion to my filling, but one of my guests isn’t crazy about onions, so I am leaving them out. Feel free to add some, if you like.

Honey Bunnies

Honey Bunny

If you are looking for a fun dish to serve for Easter, you might want to bake a batch of bunnies. They can be served with Easter dinner, or with breakfast or brunch.

The honey-sweetened yeast dough is rolled into ropes, and then the ropes are formed into these bunny shapes. Once the rolls are baked, they are brushed with a mixture of warm honey and melted butter. This is a fun recipe to make with kids.

I make them every Easter. Sweet and so cute, they are sure to be a hit when you make them.

The dough is chilled before rolling, so you can mix up a batch in the evening- put in the fridge- then roll them out the next day. They are actually pretty easy to make.

You can add raisin “eyes”, if you like. It is an option.

 

Honey Bunnies

 4-5 c. flour

2 packages yeast

1 t. salt

2/3 c. evaporated milk

½ c. each water, honey and butter

2 eggs

Raisins, optional

Honey glaze

1/2 c. honey and 1/4 c. butter or margarine heated together until warm.

In bowl combine 1 c. flour, yeast and salt. Heat together milk, water, honey and butter until very warm and beat into the flour mixture. Beat 2 minutes on high speed. Beat in 1 cup flour and eggs. Beat 2 more minutes, until batter thickens. Stir in enough flour to make a stiff batter and chill, covered with plastic wrap for 2-24 hours.

Place dough on lightly floured surface and divide into 15 equal pieces. Roll one piece of dough into a 20- inch rope. Cut rope into a 12- inch piece, a 5-inch piece and 3 one-inch pieces. Coil 12 inch piece to form body, five inch piece to form head and one inch pieces to form ears and tail. Place the body on greased cookie sheet and then place the head next to the body, making sure they are touching. Place ears and tail on the bunny, making sure they make good contact with the rest of the “bunny”. I tuck them under a little. Repeat with the remaining dough. Let rise, covered until doubled, about 25 minutes. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove to cooling rack and brush with honey glaze. Place raisins on each to make eyes, if you like. Brush with additional glaze before serving, if desired. Makes 15 bunnies.

 

Dough is rolled out and cut into pieces for each of the bunny parts

Dough is rolled out and cut into pieces for each of the bunny parts

Unbaked bunny

Unbaked bunny

A colony of rabbits!!

A colony of rabbits!!

Brushing baked bunnies with honey/butter glaze

Brushing baked bunnies with honey/butter glaze

 

Pecan Crusted Salmon

Pecan Crusted Salmon

If you love salmon like I do, this is a fun way to prepare it. The crunch from the nuts adds a nice contrast to the texture of the fish. The flavors work well together, too.

You don’t have to use pecans. I prefer them, but finely chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or even pumpkin seeds might be fun.

A combination of Dijon mustard, butter and honey helps the nuts to stick to the fish. There are a few bread crumbs in there as well.

This dish is simple enough to prepare any night of the week, but special enough to make for company.

I used salmon fillets. You could use a whole side of salmon. You just have to increase the baking time to about 20-25 minutes and reduce the oven to 425 degrees. Depending on the size of the piece of salmon, it might take a few more minutes.

 

 

 Salmon Bake with Pecan Crunch Coating

 2 T. Dijon Mustard

2 T. melted butter

4 t. honey

1/4 c. fresh bread crumbs

1/4 c. finely chopped pecans or walnuts

2 t. chopped parsley

4 salmon fillets

Salt and pepper

Lemon wedges

Mix together mustard, butter and honey and set aside. Mix together bread crumbs, nuts and parsley and set aside. Season each fillet with salt and pepper. Place on lightly greased baking or broiling pan. Brush each fillet with mustard mixture. Divide crumb mixture among fillets, patting to hold. Bake in 450 degree oven for 10 minutes per inch thickness of fillets. Serve with lemon wedges. Serves 4.

Oatmeal Bread

Oatmeal Bread

This oatmeal bread is one of my favorites. With the addition of molasses, the bread has an earthy sweetness that works well with the oatmeal.  It makes a great sandwich bread and I love it for French toast.

This is a very versatile recipe.  You can make 2 round loaves, or bake it in 2 loaf pans (9×5) or even make dinner rolls out of it. I sometimes make hamburger buns out of it.

When making dinner rolls, instead of loaves, reduce baking time to about 15 minutes- but check on rolls at 12 minutes. Baking temperature remains the same.

There is something about the smell of baking bread that always makes me remember my childhood and going to the movies. I know that sounds odd, but there is an explanation. When I was a kid there was a neighborhood movie theater. It was close by, and we would walk there to see movies. On the walk home we walked past a local bakery. Late at night they would be baking bread and other goodies for the next day. The air would be filled with the aroma of baking bread.

 

 Oatmeal Bread

5-5 ½ c. flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 ½ t. salt
1 1/3 c. water
¼ c. milk
¼ c. molasses
¼ c. butter
1 egg
1 c. old fashioned oatmeal

In large bowl mix 1 cup of the flour with yeast and salt. In small pan heat together next 4 ingredients until warm. Pour into bowl with flour mixture and beat 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup additional flour and egg and beat 2 minutes longer. Stir in oatmeal and 1 cup more flour and stir, adding enough flour to form soft dough. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead, adding flour as needed until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough on a greased bowl, turning to grease top and cover, allowing to rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Grease a large baking sheet and set aside. Punch dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a ball and place on prepared sheet. Cover with towel and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until done. Loaves are done when they sound hollow when tapped lightly. Makes 2 loaves.

This versatile dough can also be shaped into loaves and places in 8×4-inch greased loaf pans. Baking time will remain the same. Dough can also be divided into 24 equal pieces and shaped into dinner rolls. Bake rolls at 375 for 15 minutes.

Assorted Oatmeal Bread Rolls

Maple-Glazed Apple Bacon Fritters

Maple-Glazed Apple and Bacon Fritters

I did a class on cooking with maple syrup yesterday. One of the dishes I made was maple glazed fritters. The batter contains diced, fresh apples and crispy bacon. Everyone loved them.

Fritters aren’t difficult to make. They really don’t take that long to make, either. I think people were surprised at how easy they were to make.

I prefer to make fritters close to when I am serving them- so my guests can enjoy them warm.

They make a wonderful dessert, or a fun addition to a breakfast or brunch menu. I dipped them in the maple glaze, which also went well with the apples and bacon.

 

I must warn you, they are addictive.

 

 

 

Apple and Bacon Fritters

2 c. flour

2 T. sugar

2 T. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1 c. milk

2 eggs, beaten

2 T. melted butter

1 c. diced apples

1 c. cooked, crumbled bacon

oil for frying- I used coconut oil

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. Mix together milk with the eggs and butter. Stir in dry ingredients until just moistened and add the apples and bacon. Heat oil to 375. If using gluten free flour, heat oil to 350. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Don’t do more than 4-5 at a time. It will take about  4 minutes in total but you need to turn them to brown evenly so 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Dip in maple glaze (recipe follows) while warm. Makes about 32.

Maple Glaze

1 c. Powdered sugar

1/2 c. maple syrup

a little water if mixture gets too thick

Combine all ingredients and set aside until ready to use.

Tiramisu Doughnuts

Tiramisu Doughnut

These doughnuts are inspired by the flavors of tiramisu, a traditional Italian dessert. They are a filled doughnut, like jelly doughnuts. I used the filling that I would normally use for making tiramisu. It is an egg custard, combined with mascarpone cheese and whipped cream. After the doughnuts are filled, they are topped with a mocha ganache. The end result is sublime.

I started making these doughnuts a few years ago. It was Fat Tuesday and I was making jelly doughnuts, a family tradition. Not everybody likes jelly doughnuts and I wanted to switch things up. As a kid, I loved the cream filled doughnuts my folks would make. I decided to use the filling recipe I used for tiramisu. To finish it off, a little coffee is added to the ganache to give it the flavors of classic tiramisu.

You do need to store finished doughnuts in the fridge, assuming any are leftover.

I won’t lie, these doughnuts are a bit of work, but worth the effort. Here is the recipe.

 

 

Tiramisu Doughnuts

Filling:

5 egg yolks

1/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. Marsala wine (not cooking wine)

2 c. whipping cream

4 T. sugar

1 lb. mascarpone cheese

Make zabaglione (egg custard). In double boiler, over simmering water, beat together egg yolks and sugar until lemon colored. Stir in Marsala and continue cooking, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and will mound on a spoon. This will take about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool down. You can place in bowl in fridge 30 minutes or so. Beat together whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Beat in mascarpone and chilled zabaglione. Chill 1 hour.

Dough:

4 c. flour

2 T. sugar

1 t. salt

½ c. butter

1 packet yeast

¼ c. warm water

2 t. sugar

1 c. evaporated milk

2 eggs, beaten

 

Combine flour with sugar and salt. Cut in butter and set aside. Dissolve yeast in warm water and 2 t. sugar and set aside. Combine milk with eggs. Stir in yeast mixture and add to flour mixture stirring well. On lightly floured surface knead dough until dough is smooth, about 5 minutes. Dough will be very sticky. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1½ hours.  Remove dough from bowl and punch down. Using about a third of the dough at a time roll dough out to about an ½ -inch thickness and cut out with a 2½ -inch biscuit  cutter. Re-roll scraps and cut out. You should get about 2 dozen. Place dough circles on a floured surface and cover with a towel until doubled, about an hour. Heat oil in a deep pan until it reaches 375 degrees. Cook doughnuts a few at a time until golden on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Drain on paper towels and cool before filling.

Note: You can also refrigerate the dough after kneading it if you would prefer. Just place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Roll and cut dough into doughnuts when cold from the fridge. Allow to rise, covered, until doubled in bulk, about 2-3 hours. Fry as directed.

To fill doughnuts use a pastry bag fitted with a long tube tip for filling. I have these handy plastic syringes which are easy to use. Insert tube tip into doughnut and squeeze gently until doughnut is filled with cream (or jelly). Be careful not to overfill or doughnut will split. Once filled doughnuts can be frosted or topped with a sugar glaze. For the Tiramisu Doughnuts I made a mocha ganache.

Mocha Ganache

2 c. chocolate chips

1 c. whipping cream

1 T. instant coffee powder

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe dish and heat in microwave for 2 minutes. Stir mixture until smooth and return to microwave if chocolate is not fully melted. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds more at a time, stirring after each time until mixture is smooth.  For extra smooth mixture strain before using. Dip the top of the filled doughnuts in ganache.

The Art of Biscuits

Biscuits Supreme

Biscuits are easy to make. They really are. Fast, too. You can mix up  a batch of biscuits in the time it takes the oven to preheat.  Yet, I know  people who seem to struggle with them. The other night, a friend and I were talking about the secret to  a light and flaky biscuit.

So what goes wrong? How do you make light, flaky biscuits every time?

For the moment I’ll assume you have a decent recipe. There are a lot of great biscuit recipes out there. I know people that have treasured family recipes. Biscuits that have been made the same way for generations.

Assuming also, that the baking powder is fresh*, there has to be some other reason that some folks just seem to struggle with biscuits.

The problem is – more than likely- over-mixing the dough. When I talk to someone who tells me that their  biscuits are always heavy or tough I first ask about how they are put together.

Once the dry ingredients have been mixed and the fat cut in, there is just liquid to be added. I prefer to chill whatever fat I am using.

At this point the dough should be handled just enough to hold together. A light hand means a light biscuit. The same is true for making scones. The more you knead the dough, handle the dough and roll the dough, the less flaky biscuits become.

Don’t treat biscuit dough the way you would a yeast-based dinner roll. The two are very different in how they are handled. Yeast-based doughs benefit from kneading and “working” the dough. Biscuits are the opposite.

Even when cutting out the biscuits, it will help if you cut  them out as close together as you can. That way you have fewer scraps to re-roll. Every time you roll the dough out- it becomes a little tougher.

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite biscuits. They are light and very flaky. Is there anything better than a fresh, warm biscuit with some butter?

Biscuits Supreme

2 c. flour
4 t. baking powder
2 t. sugar
½ t. cream of tartar
½ t. salt
½ c. cold butter, shortening or coconut oil – you can even use lard
2/3 c. milk

Stir together dry ingredients and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and add milk all at once. Stir until dough sticks together and knead on lightly floured surface 10-12 strokes. Roll or pat to ½ inch thickness. Cut with 2-21/2 inch biscuit cutter and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake in 450-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 10-12.

*If your baking powder might be old, you can test it. Place a couple of tablespoons of boiling water in a cup. Add a teaspoon, or two, of baking powder. The mixture should bubble vigorously. If there are no bubbles, or very few bubbles, you might want to get a new container of baking powder.

New Release: