Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I love Halloween. I love the decorations, the costumes, and the weather. I also love having an excuse to eat a whole bag of mini sized Butterfinger bars. Or a dozen little ghost shaped cake pops...

Don't they just beg to have their little heads bitten off? I realize I am evil. I have accepted that fact.

I made a special one in honor of my favorite Halloween movie, It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown! 

Can't you just picture this little guy saying "I got a rock....."? Poor Charlie Brown, he depresses me a little. I would share my cake pops with him if I could, maybe he just needs some sugar. 

These pops would probably fit that bill. Just a touch of sugar on these little guys. They look like they have done something mischievous, yes? 

Too bad I didn't get a picture of the drunk looking ghosts. I may need to work on my piping skills.

This round of cake pops used a spooky black velvet cake with a dark gray cream cheese frosting. They WILL dye your mouth black, but only for a minute or two, I promise. Its worth it though. Maybe you could try working a black tinted mouth into your Halloween costume. Just sayin. 

Black Velvet Cake Pops with Cream Cheese Frosting (Ghosts and Pumpkins!)
makes about 40-50 cake pops, depending on how big you roll them 


2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 - 1 ounce bottle of black liquid food coloring
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Butter and flour your cake pans and set aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl sift the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, mix the food coloring and cocoa powder until completely incorporated. Set aside.

In a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) cream the butter and sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat until thoroughly combined, being sure to scrape down the sides. Add the vanilla and the red food coloring-cocoa mixture and beat well to combine. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beat on medium speed until combined, then add 1/2 of the buttermilk, and beat until incorporated. Add another 1/3 of the flour, beat well, then the other half of the buttermilk, scraping down the sides after each addition. Finish with the last 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until just combined.

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar and baking soda, and immediately add to batter. Mix on high speed for just a few seconds until evenly dispersed, and pour right away into cake pans or lined cupcake pans.

Bake 2 9-inch cakes for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool completely before making your pops! 


16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2-3 tablespoons black food coloring (enough to make the frosting a dark gray color)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of salt

In a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter, and beat on medium high speed until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt and mix until incorporated. Gradually add the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.Beat in the food coloring until nice and dark. You want it to be dark enough so that your cake doesn't turn gray from adding a ton of fluffy white frosting.


2-3 bags white candy melts
50 or so lollipop sticks
Cake, baked and cooled
Frosting, room temperature
black piping frosting (I just used Wilton ready-to-decorate icing tubes)
Orange sprinkles

When the cakes are room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl with your fingers until broken up into pea-sized bits. Mix in 1 and 1/4 cups of the frosting to start with, using either a large wooden spoon, or you hands if you want to get messy. Mix until the frosting is evenly dispersed. Take a quarter sized about of the cake mixture and try rolling it into a ball with the palms of your hands. If it stays together, continue to roll the rest of your cake mixture into balls and place them on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet. If they fall apart or do not hold together, add a little more frosting until the mix is moist enough to allow you to roll an intact ball. If you are making ghosts, mold into a tapered shape instead of a round ball.

Once you have rolled all the cake mix into balls or ghosts, place in refrigerator and chill for about 1 hour. When the cake balls have been chilled, melt a small amount of the candy melts in a microwave safe bowl according to package directions. Take one of the sticks, dip about 1/2 inch of the end into the melted candy and stick it about half to three-quarters of the way through the bottom flat part of the cake ball or ghost. Don't go too far into the cake ball, or it will fall apart. The candy melts will help adhere the stick to the cake.

Once the cake pops have been chilled, melt the rest of the package of candy melts according to package directions, and add your candy coloring, if using. I kept the majority of the cake pops in the freezer and took them out about 5 at a time. This way, the whole pan of cake pops doesn't come up to room temperature while you are dipping the first batch.  

One at a time, dip the cake pops into the melted candy coating being sure to get the coating all the way up over where the stick is attached to really seal it in. GENTLY tap off the excess coating on the edge of the bowl while rotating the cake pop, to get a even layer all the way around. 
Stick the coated pop ghost side up into a Styrofoam block to dry. If you are doing the sparkling pumpkins, coat with sprinkles immediately after dipping each pop. For the ghosts, let cake pops cool and dry for at least 30 minutes before piping the faces on.  Let all decorations set for at least an hour before packaging them up. They can be frozen in plastic Ziploc bags, if you put them in the refrigerator the candy coating will weep and become sticky. If you are not using cream cheese frosting, they can be kept at room temperature for a few days.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gingerbread Bundts with Cinnamon Glaze

What a lovely weekend it was. Busy, but wonderful. My good friend came down to visit and we baked pretty much the entire time she was here. Usually it is just me by myself in the kitchen, but it was nice to have some company, not to mention another pair of hands.

The apartment smelled amazing for about three days straight, it was like a freaking Yankee Candle Factory in here. The first of the treats that we made were mini gingerbread bundt cakes. These are incredibly easy to make and work both as dessert or breakfast, or dessert and breakfast.

The aroma from these cakes is absolutely heavenly, if 'coziness' had a smell, this would probably be it. Spicy and rich but not too sweet, I think these cakes would be an absolute crowd-pleaser for Thanksgiving or other fall gatherings.

Gingerbread Bundt Cakes with Cinnamon Glaze
adapted from La Cuisine d'Helene
makes 24 mini cakes

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted then brought to room temperature
3/4 cup dark molasses
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup whole milk

Butter and flour a 12-cup mini bundt pan and preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and ginger.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the molasses, sugar, and butter until well combined. Add the egg, and beat until combined.

Slowly beat in the milk and buttermilk. It will look like it has curdled, but don't worry, this is supposed to happen. It will fix itself when you add the dry ingredients.

In a few additions, beat in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Mix until just combined.

Fill each bundt pan cup about 3/4 the way full and smooth out the tops just a bit. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then turn out onto a baking rack and cool completely.

Cinnamon Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk (this will depended on how thick or thin you want your glaze)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix powdered sugar and milk together with a fork until smooth and desired thickness. Add cinnamon and mix to combine.

Dip the tops of each bundt cake in the glaze and let dry on a cooling rack.

If you are freezing the cakes, do so before you glaze them. Cakes can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator for a few days. They may get a bit soggy though, they will still taste great.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What to do when you burn $150.00 worth of spare ribs.

There is a cabin in Cumberland, WI that is cursed. Evil spirits are lurking in the oven, and in the electrical box, and in the vintage Weber gas grill. Last summer, the spirits decided I was doomed to cook dinner with no power, in the dark with a flashlight, having to cook everything on the grill. This summer, they wanted to play with fire, and play with fire they did.

The theme for this year's summer cabin weekend was "Lets burn everything!!". Stefanie burned the pizza bread, Heather burned the bacon, and I burned the crap out of $150.00 worth of spare ribs. I have made these before, on the same grill, under the same conditions, but this year just wasn't my year. I think this grill hasn't really been cleaned thoroughly since about 1972, and there were uncontrollable grease fires, which then led to very unstable temperatures. I thought after the first two rounds of: fire-take the ribs off the grill-tame the fire-put the ribs back on the grill-try to get the grill hot again, that we were golden. Oh boy was I wrong. I put the ribs into stage two: wrapped with tin foil with liquids for steaming and went and played a very competitive game of bocce ball. When I came back about 45 minutes later, they were burnt to a crisp, stuck to the tin foil.

It was awful. This is something I am usually good at, and not only did I screw it up, they looked inedible. After a few tears, a LOT of swearing, and a large glass of wine to calm me down, I told someone to grab me two sheet pans and 8 forks. My team got to work, pulling the burnt bits off, and shredding the rest of the meat that was salvageable. I tossed all the meat with the vat of glaze that was supposed to go on during phase three, and put them back on the grill to bake for about an hour. The rest of the cooking went off without a hitch, smashed potatoes and cheesy corn rounded out the meal.

The verdict? It tasted exactly the same as last year, but now you could eat it with a fork, which I personally think is much less fun than tearing it off the bone with your teeth. It did however, make for a less messy and more civilized meal, but all I cared about was saving dinner. I mean, there isn't exactly a large selection of take-out places in Cumberland, WI. Most of all, I was happy to be with my best friends in the world, enjoying and laughing about yet another meal that almost didn't happen.

The best part of the shredded rib meat? Making sandwiches the next day. The ribs have a lot of Asian flavors in the glaze and the rub, so I made a big 'ol batch of this spicy cilantro coleslaw. Put the two together and you have some of the best sandwiches ever. Make this coleslaw regardless though, it is seriously amazing.

Spicy Asian Coleslaw
adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen

**This makes an absolute ridiculous amount of slaw, so I mix all the veggies, onions, and cilantro and freeze half of it for a later date.

Also, I use my food processor to shred all the vegetables. You can core and cut the cabbage into 2-inch slices then put though the slicer blade. I then use the slicer blade for the peas, and the grater blade for the carrots. If you don't have a food processor, you can just chop and grate everything by hand, it will just take longer.**

1 head green cabbage, shredded
4-5 medium carrots, shredded
1 bag sugar snap peas, sliced thinly
1 bunch green onions, white and green parts sliced thinly
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 cup peanuts, chopped

4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
4 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha (a spicy red chili paste that you should have in your fridge at all times, trust me)
1/2 cup canola or peanut oil

Combine all shredded vegetables with the green onions and cilantro in a large bowl. In a small mixing bowl combine the vinegar, honey, mustard, sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, and peanut oil, and whisk to emulsify.

If you are making this for a large group, you can dress the cabbage mixture and toss with the peanuts right before serving. If you are making this for yourself and plan on eating it for lunch all week like I do, you can store the cabbage mixture in one container, the dressing separately, and the peanuts in a ziploc bag. I only combine what I am going to be eating immediately before consumption. This allows you to store your slaw for much, much longer than if you mix it all together, as cabbage can get soggy quickly.

You can eat a big bowl of this on its own, add some grilled chicken, or top your shredded rib meat on a french roll with it like I did. This winter, if you ever have leftover braised beef, this would be a great way to liven up your leftovers.

When something goes very wrong in the kitchen, keep calm (I myself don't usually take that advice, I admit) and get creative. Know that it will still probably be delicious, and if not, well you have a funny story to tell later. If anyone has any kitchen disasters that turned into a triumph, please let me know in the comments!

Friday, October 8, 2010

'Foodies of the World' - A New Book & I'm In It!

**Happy Dance**

It's finally here! This beautiful, food-and-photo-filled book has at last arrived on my doorstep! 'Foodies of the World', a book featuring over 60 food blogs and their authors from all over the world, has officially been released. My favorite part about it? Well, I just happen to be one of those 60 food bloggers:

Slattery Media Group contacted me back in March to ask if I would be interested in being featured in their new book. After realizing that no, this was not a spam email, or some scam trying to get money from me, I jumped up and down a few times and said "absolutely". Well 6 months later, here it is.

I think this would make a great Christmas present to any of your friends or family that love food, cookbooks, and food blogs. I know a few people who spend what is probably too much time at work on various food blogs, that would love a copy of this. Not only do you get a huge variety of recipes and styles of cooking, but you get to learn about the people behind each recipe, and really hear the voice behind the food. Plus there is plenty of eye candy with large, hi-res pictures.

What's that you say? You want a copy NOW? Sure thing, use this link to purchase 'Foodies of the World':

Click here to order Foodies of the World

Or you can click on the little picture in my sidebar. Note that this is an Australian publication, so if you are in the states, there may be some extra shipping charges. I will be making some royalties off this book, but only if you purchase it through my link or through my blog. But its worth it, cause you love me right? (End shameless plugging)

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I do, and if you have any other suggestions for Christmas gift giving for all my food loving friends and family, please let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Amaretto Brownies & Salted Butter Caramel Sauce (Gluten Free!)

I wish every weekend was cabin weekend...

Cabin weekend means good friends, great food, copious amounts of wine and beer, hot tubbing, and pontoon rides. Exciting news was shared between friends who had gone FAR too long in between visits. Raucous games of cutthroat bocce ball were played. There were too many smiles and laughs to count.

As usual though, the weekend mostly revolved around food, and there was disaster at almost every turn. More on that later, but one thing that did not get screwed up was the dessert. One of my best friends, (and brand new mom-to-be!!), has a gluten allergy, so it is always challenging to find a gluten free dessert that everyone will enjoy. Luckily, there is Tartelette to the rescue. If you ever need a gluten free dessert, please visit her site, she doesn't alter what she eats because of her intolerance, rather, she makes it work for her, and then is nice enough to share it with the rest of us.

Of course I edited the recipe slightly (I can't help myself, I had to add some booze) and I simplified it a bit. Instead of using a combination of hard to find, not to mention expensive, gluten-free flour substitutes, I used an all-purpose gluten-free baking mix. The texture of the brownies may have not been exactly like Tartelette's version, but they were still great. Moist and rich, we didn't miss the gluten at all. Topped with vanilla ice cream, and a salted butter caramel sauce, and heck, the brownie could have been missing for all I knew.

Dark Chocolate Amaretto Brownies & Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
adapted from Tartelette
makes about 20 3-1/2 inch round brownies

*I made the brownies in tartlet molds, and originally served them like that with a scoop of ice cream  and caramel sauce drizzle on top. If you want to make sandwiches like I did in the pictures, bake the brownies in a thin layer in two parchment paper-lined baking dishes and cut circles once they have cooled.

For the brownies:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
6 ounces dark chocolate
1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
3/4 cup all purpose gluten-free baking mix (or all purpose flour)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup amaretto (or if you want to omit the alcohol, substitute 1/4 cup strong coffee)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Brush 20 3-1/2 inch tartlet molds with a bit of melted butter, or butter and line a baking dish with parchment paper, set aside.

In a small bowl set over barely simmering water, combine the butter, chocolate, and cocoa powder. Whisk gently, until chocolate and butter are melted, and mixture is fully combined and smooth. This will only take a minute or two. Remove from heat, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the "flour", baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the eggs, sugar, and vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed about 4-5 minutes. Add chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Add amaretto and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture in two additions and beat just until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

Fill each tart mold about 3/4 the way full, and bake for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (start checking around 15 minutes or so). Let brownies cool in the molds on a wire rack completely, then un-mold and store in an air tight container until ready to serve.

For the caramel sauce:

1-1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 stick salted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the sugar and the water. Simmer just until the sugar is dissolved. Add the butter, and let it boil until it turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat and carefully add the cream. Whisk to combine, and place back over medium-low heat and cook for about 30 minutes, until it has thickened and is nice and creamy.

Now get your vanilla ice cream out.

Grab a spoon...you know what to do.

Just go for it.

Stay tuned for some exciting news, a giveaway, and more recipes from cabin weekend!

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