Saturday, October 31, 2009

Grandma Geri's Molasses Cookies

Fall is in the air and there is nothing like a soft, classic old-fashioned molasses cookie. I thought I would make my Grandma Belding's recipe that I scribbled down in my twelve-year-old hand, some 35 years ago. I stood by her side and fantically tried to keep up as she expertly mixed the ingredients and then added the flour a little at a time until it was just the right texture to dollop a "glob" onto her open, flour-covered plam to shape the perfect cookies.

As I was mixing up this batch, I was already thinking of ways to make it my own, changes, updates, whatever you want to call it. But when I tasted the first one, all the memories came rushing back. These needs no changes, no updates. The only concession t the "future" here is measuring the amount of flour for convenience. And, while I did "shape" the first half in Grandma's time-proven method, I opted to use a 2" scoop for the other half. While the classis method did yield a slightly fluffier cookie, the scoop was much less messy...

In my mind these are the quintessential molasses cookie.

I hope you enjoy them too.

Grandma Geri’s Molasses Cookies (makes 28 cookies)

1 cup Crisco
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 365 degrees F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Cream together the shortening and sugar. Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy, scraping down as necessary. Add molasses.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt & spices.

Add flour in thirds to creamed mixture and stir until smooth between each addition.

Shape cookies using a 2” scoop, leveled, place on leveled side down on baking sheet 2” apart.

Bake 15 minutes until lightly brown on edges.

Remove pan to baking sheet and let cool 2 minutes. Remove cookies to rack.

Simply Delicious Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Simply Delicious Pumpkin Spice Cookies (makes 24 cookies)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin pie filling
2 cups minus 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 Tbsp corn starch
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 Tbsp (3/4 cup) confectioner’s sugar
4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) maple syrup
12 pumpkin candies cut in half.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add egg and beat until light and fluffy, scraping down as necessary. Slowly add pumpkin. Add vanilla.

Sift together flour, corn starch, baking soda, salt & spices.

Add flour in thirds to creamed mixture and stir until smooth between each addition.

Shape cookies using a 2” scoop, leveled, placing level side down on baking sheet 2” apart.

Bake 15 – 17 minutes until light brown (will spring back to touch).

Remove to baking sheet and cool completely.

Mix confectioners sugar and maple syrup until smooth. Frost the top of each cookie and garnish with pumpkin candy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Creamy Cannellini Bean Artichoke Dip - Leftover Wonder! Chicken Pizza

"Leftover" Cannellini Bean Artichoke Dip makes a great base for a quick thin crust pizza in lieu of tomato sauce.

I used Pillsbury's thin crust refrigerated pizza dough and slathered it with Creamy Cannellini Bean Artichoke Dip, topped with shredded leftover chicken, thinly sliced Roma tomatoes, 2 slices precooked bacon chopped into thin slices, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a little mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Wow was this good!

I was so excited I almost forgot to take a picture.

Savory Mediterranean Spinach Phyllo Rollups with Feta & Nuts

Here is the answer to Corinne's challenge to create a low fat (? - kinda) spinach and feta phyllo appetizer...

I like to use the spray instead of brushing with butter because it is faster, somewhat healthier (if you use the olive oil spray) and it doesn't pull and tear the phyllo like the pastry brush.

Hot capicola is a delicious spicy cooked ham coated with paprika and spices. (Kroger has their own Private Selections brand in a sliced 3 ounce package for $4.59.) I like to use it in a creamy pasta with peas instead of using prosciutto.

Folding over the phylo and sprinkling with a little cheese and then nut layer helps keep the phyllo flakey. Using a blend of pinenuts and walnuts gave a great depth of flavor, but Art equally enjoyed the all walnut and parmesan version.

Have fun!

Savory Mediterranean Spinach Phyllo Rollups with Feta & Nuts

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 four ounce package shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, chopped fine
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 ounce hot Capicola chopped finely (spicy Italian cooked ham)
1 cup stock divided (beef, chicken or vegetable)
1 six ounce package baby spinach leaves
1 eight ounce package non-fat cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup Parmesan
3/4 cup toasted pinenuts or walnuts or a combination of the two chopped finely
1 five ounce package feta cheese (or additional Parmesan)
Butter flavor cooking spray

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until onions are translucent. Add the nutmeg, pepper, pepper flakes and salt. Turn up heat to medium high. Add 1/3 cup of stock and cook until evaporated and mushrooms start to brown.

In the mean time, remove any large stems from the spinach. Pile up and roll the spinach and cut into fine ribbons (it took me about 8 times to cut all the spinach).

Pile the spinach on top of the mushroom and pour the remaining 2/3 cup of stock over all. Stir occasionally until liquid is evaporated. Remove from heat to cool.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment beat the cream cheese until light and smooth. Add the egg yolk and beat until smooth, scraping down as necessary.

Fold in the cooled spinach mixture and 1/2 cup Parmesan. Chill.

Preheat over to 350 degrees F.

Unroll thawed phyllo sheets, cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Take one sheet of phyllo and lightly spray with cooking spray. Place 1 1/2 Tbsp of spinach filling in the center end of the long end of the phyllo. Fold over the left side third over the filling, spray and sprinkle with feta. Fold the other third over the feta and spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with nuts. Roll the phyllo from the filled end. Spray the seam end with spray and place seam side down on parchment lined baking sheet. Spray exterior with spray.

Do not overcrowd the pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove to baking rack to cool.

Laura's Birthday Cake - B52 Bundt Cake

This decadent, delicious, delightful B52 Bundt cake was created for my friend Laura's birthday. It includes Kahlua, Bailey's Irish Cream and Grand Marnier in the super rich chocolate mocha cake base and a surprisingly rich cream cheese, chocolate and Grand Marnier "tunnel". The cake is bathed in a dark chocolate, Baileys and Kahlua ganache and decorated with a white chocolate and Grand Marnier drizzle. Recipe to come after it is submitted. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Healthy Living Day 2 - Creamy Cannellini Bean Artichoke Dip ala Piccata with Homemade Whole Grain Baked Zatar Tortilla Chips

Today I continue the mission to come up with healthy snacks. Using a zesty piccata as my inspiration, without the butter of course, I included lemon three ways, bottled juice, reduced fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Creamy Cannellini Bean Artichoke Dip with Lemon and Capers

8 ounces cream cheese
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 14 ounce can cannellini beans (drained)
olive oil cooking spray
1 14 ounce 10-12 count artichoke hearts (drained, halved and blotted dry)
1 shallot minced (about 2 Tbsp)
2 cloves garlic pressed or minced
1 medium lemon zested and juiced (about 1 tsp zest and 3 Tbsp juice separated)
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
2 Tbsp white wine
2 Tbsp capers (rinsed and blotted dry)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning

Cream the cream cheese until light and smooth. Slowly blend in 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar.

Heat large sauté pan, sprayed with olive oil spray over medium high heat with shallot and artichokes (cut side down). Cook until nicely browned, shake pan to distribute, remove from heat, add garlic and stir to mix. Place artichokes and beans in food processor.

Deglaze pan with chicken stock, lemon juice, and wine. Reduce by 2/3 and add to food processor with pepper, salt, chili, Italian seasoning and zest. Puree until fairly smooth (a little chunky). Add capers and pulse to combine.
This makes about 23 ounces of dip. For a 4 ounce serving you get apx. 6.8 grams of fiber and 11 grams of protein and 132 calories. (According to Fitday.)
Serve with crudites and whole grain baked tortilla/pita chips.

Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips with Zatar

Whole Grain Baked Tortilla Chips with Zatar

1 whole grain 10" tortilla per person
Olive oil cooking spray

Cut each tortilla into 12 triangles. (Cut in half, stack and cut in half again, then cut each half into thirds.)

Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray with olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle with Zatar, turn over, spray and sprinkle again. (If making more than 1 tortilla, do not crowd in pan, make multiple batches.)

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. (I like to let the prepared chips sit while the oven heats.)

Bake for about 7 minutes, until golden brown. Remove tray to rack to cool. Of course you could use a whole grain pita bread instead of tortillas, just cut into 8 chips instead of 12.

Zatar is a very aromatic middle eastern spice blend - for a great story and recipe go to:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Healthy Crunchy Tasty Snacking - Day 1

Well, no one likes the "d" word, you know the one I mean... "diet".

I prefer to call it healthful eating. My friend Michelle was just issued a challenge to lose 10 pounds. She is a bartender at a sports bars, which means a lot of fried foods and happy hour crunchy, salty snacks.

I told her I would help her in this endeavor. I know she needs texture and lots of flavor to keep her focused on the healthful alternatives.

My mission this week is to create healthful snacks with low fat, incorporating good proteins and fiber.

The first remake. A Mexican inspired black bean dip. A rousing success with carrots and celery for dipping.

Mexican Refried Black Bean Dip - ole!

1 15-ounce can no-fat refried black beans
1 1/2 roasted red peppers (low-sodium,packed in water)
1/3 cup green taco sauce
2 cloves glarlic (pressed)
4 tsp lime juice
1 tsp taco seasoning
1 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 dashes hot sauce
salsa for garnish

Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth and creamy. Top with a dollop of your favorite salsa for garnish.

Michelle (and a few of her "lucky" co-workers) deemed this a delicious success. And it came out under 150 calories for 1/2 cup with 2 carrots and 2 celery sticks cut into strips for dipping. With 38% of the daily fiber and 14% of the daily protein requirements a real plus. (I used Fitday to do the calculations.)

Absolutely Fabulous Easy Chunky Apple Cider Cranberry "Sauce"

Simply Delicious Chunky Apple Cider Cranberry “Sauce” (low in sugar - high in flavor)

1 large sweet crisp apple (braeburn or gala) diced
1 twelve oz package fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/16 tsp nutmeg (2 seconds grated fresh with microplane)

Cook all ingredients together for 10 minutes, over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until all cranberries “pop”.

Can be served warm, room-temperature or cold.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Poor Man's Easy "Beef Wellington" Appetisers

OMG Quick and Easy Beef Wellington Appetizers
(Relatively speaking of course)

Lets be honest, while Beef Wellington is absolutely delicious, the time and expense of creating a duxelle, pate, crepe, puff pastry and lovingly seared hand-cut tenderloin, with a red wine reduction drizzle make is unreasonable for a weekly (even yearly) “event”. This is even if you purchase the truffle or goose liver pate and puff pastry from your favorite gourmet market.

My quest to create a quicker, easier and reasonably priced version began with recreating what is important here. The overall flavor of course!

I began by making a list of ingredients I would include. This of course means mushrooms, shallots, beef stock, butter, beef, brandy and garlic.

Now for the herbs and spices, thyme, nutmeg, paprika, sage, salt and pepper were what the flavors of the pate should include. Simplified, poultry seasoning, nutmeg, salt and pepper would be the flavor vehicles of choice,

For the puff pastry, the easy choice is crescent rolls or puff pastry – browned, puffy and yummy.

I would replace the pate with a cream cheese mixture, capturing the essence of pate through the herbs, and mixing the cooled duxelle into my “pate”.

The wine reduction I will replace with savory beef stock and wine gravy.

My first attempt was a Mini-Beef Wellington application using real cubes of tenderloin. Great idea, great flavor profiles, but too hard to eat and my lovingly seared beef overcooked, even in the short 18 minute time span.

So, I slept on it and had a revelation, enlarge slightly, use deli roast beef and dip in a beef and wine reduction and add just prior to serving.

Wow! This really worked. Here is my recreation with crescent rolls (puff pastry version to follow soon...

Duxelle/ Cream Cheese “Pate”
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp shallot
8 ounces sliced button mushrooms – chopped fine
8 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms – chopped fine
3 cloves pressed garlic (about 2 tsp)
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Cream Cheese Pate
4 ounces cream cheese
1 egg yolk
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp Brandy

The Crust
2 Packages Crescent Rolls
1 Package Crescent Sheet
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp water
Non-stick baking spray

“The Gravy”
3 cups low sodium beef stock
1 cup red wine
2 Tbsp corn starch
1 tsp butter

The Beef
1 lb shaved deli roast beef chopped fine (I used top round)

Here we go….

Heat butter and olive oil in a very large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and stir around for 1 minute. Shake the pan to distribute the shallots evenly and add the mushrooms. Set the timer for 3 minutes and don’t touch the pan. There will be a lot of liquid at this point, stir and shake to distribute, set the timer again and don’t touch. Repeat this one more time. Add the garlic, stir and add in the beef stock. Leave alone until all stock is evaporated and remove from heat to cool.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese until beaten into submission (until light and fluffy). Scrape down and add the egg yolk and beat until thoroughly combined. Scrape down again, add the spices and, beating on medium-high speed, drizzle the brandy in down the side of the bowl and beat until thoroughly combined. Fold in the cooled duxelle and cover and refrigerate your “duxelle pate” until ready to use.

Spray the cups of 18 cups of your muffin tins. The base - cut the Crescent sheet into 16 even circles (mark in half, then half, then half again before slicing). Whisk the egg, water and milk until thoroughly combined to create your egg wash. Take each circle and rub a little of the egg wash over the top only. Place each circle egg wash side up in a muffin tin.

Now we are going to create a “vessel” for our pate. Work on one roll at a time. Unroll your crescent roll dough. Using the perforations as a guide, slice through to create 8 pieces.

Take a deep breath and relax. Turn the long edge of the roll towards you, with the point facing right. Roll the left edge up and fold the point to overlap the bottom edge by about 1/2 an inch. Place the rolled edge over the round in the bottom of the cup, centering over the base dough. Curl the top point backward and place in the cup. When all eight of these are formed, lightly rub a little egg wash in the inside seams of your “vessel”.

Refrigerate until ready to bake.

Preheat oven to 365 degrees F. Place a heaping teaspoon of your pate in each cup. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, until golden and puffy. When they are done remove them carefully from the pan, unto a rack so the crust doesn’t steam in the cup.

In the mean time, in a medium saucepan bring your beef stock and wine to a boil and reduce by half. Make a slurry with your cornstarch and 2 Tbsp water and whisk into the sauce. Boil for at least a minute, until thick and translucent, stir in butter.

To assemble, place each “Wellington” onto a serving plate, stir in a heaping 2 Tbsp of the beef into reduction and quickly remove the beef onto the top of the Wellington, and drizzle a little sauce over the top.

You know the next step. Enjoy!!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Andale Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Pie Update

Awesomely delicious! Refrigerated overnight prior to baking and the crust came out perfectly brown, flaky and decadently delicious,

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Viva Italia! Chicken Piccata Pie


Woke up early and concocted this new creation. Searched on Pillsbury and there were no piccata entries... yes!

Thought about all the things that make piccata so yummy and then added a little extra color with some sundried tomatoes.

It's online now at, monthly contest.

Lemony Blueberry "Cobbler" Pie

This came out very good - a little runny at first, but set up ok. Added more cornstarch in submitted recipe. View it on in the monthly contest section.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Andale Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Pie

I think I have a winner! This is fantastic, easy and utterly delicious.

Go to in the enter daily contests for this recipe in about 72 hours.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My First Recipe on

I am so happy that my Savory Harvest Pie with Ham, Swiss Chard, Pears, Tart Cherries and Pecans in on In the monthly contest section.

I enetered another recipe today. I'll post the details when it's published.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Creative License

Changed my mind on today's recipe. Had great food thoughts when I woke up in the middle of the night... Harvest Pie with Ham, Swiss Chard and Swiss Cheese in a bechamel-style sauce.

I worked on it today. When Art asked me if I was still going to make a pear tart this week I thought about it. Why not add it to this pie, the flavors are definitely complimentary

Made one - it was little too juicy, but yummy!!! So, I tweaked the recipe and added tart cherries and cut back on the pear. I entered the recipe in the Pillsbury Monthly Bake-Off today - look for it on Wednesday 10/07/2009 at

Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Walt & Nancy's Michigan-Michigan State Party

Decided to create mini Chicken Enchilada Pies last night.

This morning I woke up with a plan in my head. I got 2 frozen chicken breasts out to thaw before breakfast.

Before I knew it it was 10 am and we were planning to leave around 11 (I always loose track of time doing my crossword) - get it in gear!

Pounded and sauteed the chicken - seasoned it and sauteed, shredded and set aside. Blended in mixer with other filling ingredients and chilled.

I tried out my pastry making skills using my ravioli cutter - worked great!

Chilled again before baking (while I took a quick shower).

Came down and finished topping them and threw in oven while I finished getting ready.

Look great!

I think these are a 4 out of 5. I need to roll the pastry a little thinner and change out an ingredient to make a little spicier. A successful day.

Thinking about a pie recipe to try tomorrow to enter the Pillsbury Monthly Challenge...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Today's Recipe MOIST Cornbread Muffins

In spite of my best efforts I have not found a really moist, delicious cornbread recipe.

They always seem to turn out dry, gritty and/or have an unusual (unpleasant) taste.

Here I go - off to the kitchen...


I'm back. and experiment 1 was fairly successful - aout a 3.5 out of 5. I have a moist muffin and no unpleasant taste, but I would like it to be a little sweeter with more corn flavour. A variation I would like to work on is a "buffalo-style" cornbread. But, first I need to focus on this recipe. I need to pick up some corn.

Made my daily Kroger's excursion...

"Ganached" my truffles for the MI/MI State game tomorrow at Walt & Nancy's- it will take a while to set up... oh, they are Version 2 - "Crispy Chippy Chocolate Truffles with Espresso Ganache"


Well Version 2 Corn Muffin is much better - about a 4.5. Added more sugar, reduced corn meal and added frozen white corn - pan roasted with minced onions. Still looking for a 5 though. We'll see how they are at room temperature later.

First Things First

One of my dreams and goals is to win the Pillsbury Bake-Off.

In order to be eligible for this I need to retain my "amatuer" status - so no money making food projects for this creative epicure... for now ;-)

I will continue to develop my original recipes and compile them to share when appropriate.

1. Create or modify a recipe every day.

2. Look into other contests to enter in order to fund my creative food ventures.

More soon!