Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze

March 14th, 2013 by andrea | 2 Comments | Filed in Baking, Cakes, Chocolate, Christmas, Dessert, Holidays, Recipes

If you’re looking for a chocolate dessert that that will make you swoon then look no further. This wonderful cake is smooth and rich, and perfect for entertaining (Christmas, Valentines, bridal showers, dinner parties, etc.)! While easy to make, the cake does require time in the fridge (about 7 hours) so plan accordingly.

Before serving the cake, drizzle each plate with a little Raspberry Sauce for a beautiful presentation. Enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze
-recipe by Abigail Johnson Dodge – Fine Cooking Magazine
Drop-dead delicious, this cake is a pure chocolate indulgence. Yields one 9-inch cake that serves twelve generously.

For the cake:
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (2-1/4 cups)
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into six pieces; more for the pan
5 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. table salt
3/4 oz. (1/4 cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy; more for the pan

For the glaze:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (3/4 cup)
1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) unsalted butter

Make the cake:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Lightly butter the bottom of a 9×2-inch round cake pan and line it with a round of parchment. Lightly butter the parchment and the sides of the pan and dust with cocoa powder. Tap out any excess.

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave or in a medium metal bowl set in a skillet of barely simmering water, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth. Remove the bowl from the water bath and set aside to cool slightly. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and 2 Tbs. water. Beat on medium high speed until the mixture is very foamy, pale in color, and doubled in volume, 2 min. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually pour in the chocolate mixture. Increase the speed to medium high and continue beating until well blended, about 30 seconds. Add the cocoa powder and mix on medium low just until blended, about 30 seconds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a pick inserted in the center comes out looking wet with small gooey clumps, 40 to 45 min. Don’t overcook. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 30 min. If necessary, gently push the edges down with your fingertips until the layer is even. Run a small knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Cover the cake pan with a wire rack and invert. Remove the pan and parchment and let the cake cool completely. The cake may look cinched in around its sides, which is fine. Transfer to a cake plate. Cover and refrigerate the cake until it’s very cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Glaze the cake:
Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave or in a medium metal bowl set in a skillet of barely simmering water, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour the warm glaze over the chilled cake and, using an offset spatula, spread the glaze evenly to within 1/4 inch of the edge. Refrigerate the cake until the glaze is set, 20 to 40 min. Before serving, remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, 20 to 30 min. To serve, cut the cake into small, if not tiny, slices using a hot knife.

Tip: To slice this cake (or any dense, sticky cake), heat the knife first, either by dipping it in a tall container of very hot water or by holding it under hot running water for a few seconds. Then wipe it dry before cutting the cake. The knife will cool quickly, and the cake will start sticking, so expect to rinse and repeat several times. A crème brûlée torch, if you have one, is also handy for heating up a knife.  


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Caramel Oatmeal Chewies

December 17th, 2012 by andrea | No Comments | Filed in Baking, Chocolate, Christmas, Cookies & Bars, Dessert, Holidays, Recipes


I’m a big fan of just about any kind of caramel and chocolate treat. These gooey bar cookies are definitely a winner: chocolate chips, crunchy pecans and a rich caramel drizzle layered between an oatmeal cookie base and crumble topping. They are rich, delicious and easy to make.

I always use Mrs. Richardson’s brand Butterscotch Caramel Topping, which is available at many grocery stores.

Be careful not to overbake the crust layer or the finished bars will be crunchier then they’re meant to be. Serve with a cold glass of milk or a cup of coffee…mmmm, heavenly!

Caramel Oatmeal Chewies
-recipe from

Chewy oats surround layers of chocolate, caramel and nuts in these hearty bars.

1 3/4 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt, (optional)
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup caramel ice cream topping

PREHEAT oven to 350º F. Grease bottom of 13 x 9-inch baking pan.

COMBINE oats, 1½ cups flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Stir in butter; mix well. Reserve 1 cup oat mixture; press remaining oat mixture onto bottom of prepared baking pan.

BAKE for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with morsels and nuts. Mix caramel topping with remaining flour in small bowl; drizzle over nuts to within ¼ inch of pan edges. Sprinkle with reserved oat mixture.

BAKE for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack; refrigerate until firm. Cut into bars.


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Wild Rice with Butternut Squash, Leeks and Corn

December 1st, 2012 by andrea | No Comments | Filed in Autumn, Christmas, Holidays, Recipes, Rice, Side Dish, Thanksgiving, Vegetarian

Since the holidays are are upon us, here’s a great side dish that will compliment a potpourri of menus. I love the combination of chewy wild rice, roasted butternut squash and sweet corn…delish! This dish goes well with just about any meat, and much of the recipe can be made ahead of time — making it perfect for entertaining.

I roasted the cubed squash on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper which made clean-up a breeze. Plus, I didn’t have to worry about the squash sticking to the pan. Click here for tips on how to peel a butternut squash. Enjoy!

Wild Rice with Butternut Squash, Leeks, and Corn
-recipe from Bon Appétit Magazine (November 2008)

Test-Kitchen Tip: Some kinds of wild rice take longer to cook than others. The rice is fully cooked when the grains are tender but still chewy and beginning to split. Be sure to test the rice before draining.

Makes 10 servings

1 1/2 cups wild rice (about 9 ounces)
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
3 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled butternut squash (from 1 1/2-pound squash)
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
1 1/2 cups finely chopped leeks (white part only)
1 1/2 cups frozen white corn kernels, thawed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

Rinse rice in strainer under cold water; drain. Bring 6 cups water and 2 teaspoons coarse salt to boil in large saucepan. Add rice; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered until rice grains begin to split and are tender but still slightly chewy, about 45 minutes. Drain. Spread on rimmed baking sheet to cool. Transfer to bowl. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Oil rimmed baking sheet. Toss squash cubes and 3 tablespoons oil in medium bowl. Spread squash in single layer on prepared sheet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast just until tender but firm enough to hold shape, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Transfer squash to bowl. Cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and 3/4 cup water; simmer until leeks are tender, about 7 minutes. Add corn; simmer 2 minutes longer. Add rice and butternut squash; simmer until heated through and liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.


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Heartland Turkey and Vegetable Chowder

November 29th, 2012 by andrea | No Comments | Filed in Comfort Food, Holidays, Main Dish, Recipes, Soup/Stew, Thanksgiving, Turkey, Vegetable

I’m always on the search for new ways to use up leftover turkey, which is what led me to this delicious soup. It’s loaded with fresh veggies and herbs, and you can substitute different veggies depending on what you have on hand. For instance, I used green beans instead of zucchini. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy in front of a roaring fire!

Heartland Turkey and Vegetable Chowder
-from The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan

This is a hearty, chock-full-of vegetables chowder using leftover turkey. I make variations on this recipe throughout the winter when I have leftover chicken. See what’s fresh in the produce aisle and feel free to vary the vegetables. You could use kale instead of Swiss chard, or even substitute spinach, adding it at the last minute. Add green beans in place of the zucchini, if desired. Serve this soup with a loaf of crusty French bread for a perfect one-course meal. – Diane Morgan

Serves 8.

4 strips bacon, chopped
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 large ribs celery, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 large red potatoes (about 8 ounces each), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice 
8 cups turkey stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 cups chopped deribbed Swiss chard leaves
2 cups diced of roast turkey (1/2-inch dice)
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a heavy 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven with a lid, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently, until crisp and browned. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Set aside. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the pan and return it to medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots. Sauté, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are soft but not browned.

Add the potatoes, squash, and stock. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook for about 15 minutes until the potatoes and squash are tender. Add the zucchini, Swiss chard, turkey, sage, and thyme. Cook for 5 minutes longer. Add the bacon and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve immediately. The soup an be made up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate.




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Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle Chile

November 19th, 2012 by andrea | No Comments | Filed in Christmas, Holidays, Potatoes, Recipes, Side Dish, Southwestern, Thanksgiving, Vegetable, Vegetarian

I love sweet potatoes (yams) but I’m not a fan of the cloyingly sweet dishes that call for sugar and marshmallows. Instead, I prefer savory sweet potato recipes like this one that includes smoky chipotle chiles. The heat of the chiles is really delicious with the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes. This recipe is perfect for a holiday dinner or Southwestern-themed meal.

You can also skip the potato skins and bake the potato mixture in a greased baking dish (about an 8×8 size) at 425° for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle Chile
-recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine

Chipotle chiles are smoked jalapeños. For  this recipe, you’ll need them canned in adobo; you can usually find them with other canned chiles in the Mexican section of the supermarket. The stuffed potatoes can be  made a day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Bring them back to room temperature before  baking.

Serves four.

4 small sweet potatoes of similar size (about  3 pounds total), scrubbed
1 to 2 tsp. olive oil or vegetable oil
1/4 cup sour cream; more for serving
1/2 chipotle chile in adobo, minced to a paste; more to taste
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 lime, cut into quarters

Heat the oven to 425°F. Put the potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet, rub them with the oil, and arrange them so they’re spaced as far apart as possible. Bake until a skewer or fork slips easily into the center of the potato, 50 to 55 minutes. Set on a rack to cool but leave the oven on.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice off about the top one-quarter or one-third (lengthwise) of each potato to expose the interior. Peel off and discard the skin from this top section and put the potato flesh in a medium bowl. Use a spoon to scoop out the rest of the flesh of each potato, leaving about 1/4 inch of sweet potato attached to the skin to help retain its structure. Put the potato flesh in the bowl.

Beat the sweet potato flesh, sour cream, chile paste, butter, and salt with an electric hand mixer on medium speed just until smooth. Taste and, if you want more heat, mince more chipotle to a paste and add it. Mound the mixture into the potato skins and set them in a  baking pan. Bake the stuffed potatoes at 425°F until hot, 20  to 25 minutes. Serve with the lime wedges and more sour cream.



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Rice Stuffing with Water Chestnuts, Apples and Hazelnuts

November 17th, 2012 by andrea | No Comments | Filed in Autumn, Christmas, Holidays, Recipes, Rice, Side Dish, Thanksgiving, Winter

If you’re looking for a creative stuffing/dressing recipe for this holiday season, you’ll want to give this one a try. I had never tried rice stuffing before and was intrigued by the list of ingredients in this recipe from best-selling author Debbie Macomber: crunchy water chestnuts, toasted hazelnuts, tart apples, and sweet raisins. Hazelnuts (filberts) are grown here in Oregon, so this recipe is a great way to show them off. The delicious rice stuffing is a perfect Autumn/Holiday side dish for roast chicken, turkey, pork and beef.

I had trouble finding peeled (skinned) hazelnuts so I bought some with the skins on and tried peeling them myself — a time-consuming and messy process. Do yourself a favor and find them already peeled (removed of their outer skin). If you can’t find peeled hazelnuts, pecans or pinenuts would be a good substitute.

I used 1/2 cup each of dried cranberries and golden raisins in place of 1 cup of raisins, which turned out to be a great substitition/combo. Enjoy!

Mom’s Rice Stuffing with Water Chestnuts, Apples and Hazelnuts
-recipe from Debbie Macomber’s Christmas Cookbook by Debbie Macomber

Mom served this rice dish every Thanksgiving and Christmas. The recipe was handed down by her mother, who emigrated from the Black Sea region of Ukraine as a young married woman in the late 1800s. Until now, it’s never been written down, but passed from one daughter to the next. -Debbie Macomber

Serves 12 to 16.

6 tablespoons ( 3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 1/2 cups white rice (uncooked)
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped (about 1 cup)
2 tart apples, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and black pepper

Melt butter in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and thyme; cook for 6 minutes, stirring often. Add rice and broth; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 22 minutes, without stirring, until liquid is absorbed and rice is just tender. Stir in water chestnuts, apples, hazelnuts, scallions, raisins and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

If stuffing turkey: Loosely fill cavity with dressing. Place any leftover dressing in a buttered casserole. Cover dish with buttered foil, buttered-side down. Bake dressing for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until heated through.

If not stuffing turkey: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 15-by-10-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Stir 1/2 cup turkey drippings into dressing; spoon into prepared dish. Cover dish with buttered foil, buttered-side down. Bake dressing for 40 minutes, or until heated through.

TIP: Save time and hassle by using prepeeled and chopped hazelnuts. Find them in the baking section of your market.


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Roasted Brussels Sprouts

November 12th, 2012 by andrea | No Comments | Filed in Christmas, Holidays, Recipes, Side Dish, Thanksgiving, Vegetable, Vegetarian

This is seriously one of the easiest side dishes I’ve ever made. If you like brussels sprouts then you’ll love the extra flavor that roasting brings out in them. If you don’t like brussels sprouts then maybe it’s time to try them. C’mon, I dare you! These pint-sized cabbages are loaded with Vitamins A and C and fiber. I like to buy them still on the stalk and then cut them off right before using (find them on the stalk at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods).

I roasted the brussels sprouts for less time because they were on the small size and I didn’t want to overcook them. I also didn’t add more salt like Ina did after they were finished roasting because they tasted perfect as is. Serve with roasted turkey, chicken, beef, pork…just about anything. Enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
-recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten

Makes 6 servings.

1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt ( I like these salty like French fries), and serve immediately.


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Cranberry Streusel Coffee Cake

December 20th, 2011 by andrea | 1 Comment | Filed in Baking, Breakfast, Cakes, Christmas, Dessert, Holidays, Recipes, Thanksgiving

If you’re still working on your Christmas morning menu, this recipe for Cranberry Streusel Cake would be a good one to consider. The moist, festive cake is both easy to make and delicious. The sweet, brown sugar streusel is a nice balance to the tart cranberries.

To simplify things the morning of, have your cranberries chopped and measured, and your dry ingredients measured and combined. Now all you have to do Christmas morning is mix the  cake (wet and dry ingredients) and bake it.

I didn’t have plain yogurt so I used a combination of sour cream and buttermilk. The cake turned out great and several people asked me for the recipe. Enjoy!

Cranberry Streusel Cake
-recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine

Add the topping 40 minutes into baking rather than at the beginning, when it would sink too far into the cake, or at the end, when it wouldn’t sink in at all. Serves nine.
9 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour; more for the pan
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. table salt
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, well softened at room temperature; more for the pan
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plain, low-fat yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

For the streusel:
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

Make the cake:
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch-square baking pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt until blended. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until well blended, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs one at a time, mixing until just incorporated. Using a wide rubber spatula, alternately fold the flour mixture and the yogurt into the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the chopped cranberries with the last addition of flour. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 40 min.

Make the streusel:
While the cake is baking, combine the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the butter and mix, using a fork, until the ingredients are well blended and form small crumbs. Stir in the walnuts and cranberries.

After the cake has baked for 40 min., sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top of the cake. Continue baking until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean, another 10 to 15 min. Cool in the pan on a wire rack until warm or room temperature. Cut into squares and serve.


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Cranberry-Orange Sauce

December 14th, 2011 by andrea | 1 Comment | Filed in Christmas, Condiment, Holidays, Quick Cooking, Recipes, Sauce, Thanksgiving, Winter

Next time you need cranberry sauce, I urge you to make your own. Not only is it incredibly easy to make, but you can jazz it up and make it more exciting than the humdrum store-bought variety. In this recipe, I love the addition of fragrant orange zest and orange liqueur…very tasty! 

Cranberry-Orange Sauce   
-recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (November 1999)  

What combination of basic ingredients—cranberries, sweetener, and liquid—would give us a cranberry sauce recipe with a clean, pure cranberry flavor and with enough sweetness to temper the assertively tart fruit but not so much that the sauce would be cloying or candylike? It turned out that simpler was better. White table sugar balanced the tartness of the cranberries without adding a flavor profile of its own. As for liquid, water—not cider, orange juice, or cranberry juice—won out in our cranberry sauce recipe. We also discovered that adding just a pinch of salt brought out an unexpected sweetness in the berries, heightening the flavor of the sauce overall.

The cooking time in this recipe is intended for fresh berries. If you’ve got frozen cranberries, do not defrost them before use; just pick through them and add about 2 minutes to the simmering time. Orange juice adds little flavor, but we found that zest and liqueur pack the orange kick we were looking for in this sauce. Makes about 2 1/4 cups. 

3/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 (12-ounce) bag cranberries, picked through
2 tablespoons orange liqueur (such as Triple Sec or Grand Marnier)

Bring water, sugar, orange zest, and salt to boil in medium nonreactive saucepan over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Stir in cranberries; return to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until saucy, slightly thickened, and about two-thirds of berries have popped open, about 5 minutes. Off heat; stir in orange liqueur. Transfer to nonreactive bowl, cool to room temperature, and serve. (Can be covered and refrigerated up to 7 days; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.)


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Handy Hint: Welcome guests with a fragrant house

December 3rd, 2011 by andrea | No Comments | Filed in Entertaining Tip, Handy Hints

During the Fall and winter months, I like to have cookies baking or a small pan of spiced cider simmering on the stove when I’m expecting company. The moment I open my front door, my guests are greeted with the wonderful fragrance of warm spices. I think it’s a great way of saying, “Welcome to my home”.

What do you do to welcome guests to your home?

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