Thursday, May 28, 2009

BU: BB Outrageous Brownies

FINALLY! An excuse to make these gorgeous Outrageous brownies (and no, just to have these delish treats laying around the house for just the two of us isn't a good enough reason to make these!!). I have been drooling on this recipe and the picture since I got the cookbook earlier this year. So Red and I sincerely thank Eva of I'm Boring for such a great recipe selection. We loved this, and so did our friends who got to taste another winning recipe of Ina!

I did not modify this recipe...for once! And I loved how it turned out the way it is. It's very chocolatey, rich, almost fudge-like, and would wow any of your chocohalic-friends. I also made the entire batch using the exact measurement pan that Ina used (because we had two dinners to go to with friends); and this recipe made 20 LARGE brownies. It can easily be cut into 40-standard size brownies. The only "complaint" that I have, if at all, is that I must have used 5 different bowls when making this. A bowl for the chocolate to melt, a bowl for the walnuts and chocolate chips, a bowl for this.... but it was a very minor complaint in comparison to the reward of having this hunk of scrumptious brownies with coffee.

Another reason to love this recipe was that it retained its moisture if you wrap it tightly with a plastic wrap!!! We enjoyed this recipe for the whole week, and we loved it even better 2-3 days later. That's something that I don't normally find in baked goods!

Here's a nod especially to Mollie, my dearest friend, who's currently living in Brazil-- and has recently discovered her hidden passion in baking and cooking. She requested a recipe with easy to find ingredients that she can make from scratch, especially sweets --I hope this one will do it for you, Mol!! Miss you!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lemon Glazed Blueberry Scones

I had my very first scone almost 12 years ago, when I was visiting the Eastman Kodak's House in Rochester, New York. When you tour the Eastman home, you can then have a little tea break at their small cafe and choose your teas and sandwiches. I couldn't remember what type of scone it was exactly, but this was my first introduction to scone, and it was a positive one, indeed.

Then in one of my recent business travels, I enjoyed a delicious reduced-fat cranberry orange scone from a Caribou Coffee kiosk at the airport, which was out of the world. Since that point on, I have been browsing at tons of recipes trying to decide on which one to try.

I finally landed on this recipe from Tyler Florence in Food Network. This was my first Tyler's recipe, so I really wasn't sure what to expect. He has two blueberry scone recipes, and I chose the one using buttermilk (because it was lower in fat, and we had some that we needed to use up!)

I also decided (at first), not to use the glaze. But then realized, that the buttery little pillows were missing a little "oomph", so we went ahead with the glaze, but used the lemon version. The other step that I think we should have added was using egg-wash to make the top brown a little prettier and sprinkle some sugar. So the glaze was a MUST!

Red was licking his fingers when he was devouring his first scone, "This is probably the moistest and lightest, fluffiest scone I have ever had!" So it sounds like we have a keeper here!!


  • 2 cups unbleached flour, plus more for rolling berries
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut in chunks
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar; mix thoroughly. Cut in butter using 2 forks or a pastry blender. The butter pieces should be coated with flour and resemble crumbs.

In another bowl, mix buttermilk and egg together, and then add to the flour mixture. Mix just to incorporate, do no overwork the dough.

Roll blueberries in flour to coat, this will help prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the scone when baked. Fold the blueberries into batter, being careful not to bruise. Drop large tablespoons of batter on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until brown. Cool before applying glaze.

Lemon Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Technically you should make this simple lemon glaze in a double boiler (i.e. over a pot of simmering water with a heatproof bowl set on top) but it's even simpler to zap it in the microwave. Mix the lemon juice and confectioners' sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest and butter. Nuke it for 30 seconds on high. Whisk the glaze to smooth out any lumps, then drizzle the glaze over the top of the scones. Let it set a minute before serving.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Homemade Frosty Paws

Our puppy Charlotte Mae, is turning 2 this Friday. She was born on May 29, 2007. Since her birthday falls during the Memorial Day weekend, I knew that I'd have time to bake her some homemade treats! She has a really hard job all week, sleeping 10-12 hrs every day when we're at work on her over-sized pillow and mini body pillow.

Here's a picture of her back in the early fall of 2007, where she only weighed about 65 lbs, and can fit nicely to her kiddie pool.

One big challenge that I have with her is that she has sensitive stomach, and the only food that she's been able to eat without having reactions to it has been Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Allergy Formula Food. The three types that we know for sure that she's not allergic to is the Sweet Potato with Venison formula; Potato with Duck, and Sweet Potato with Salmon.

All of these restrictions made it a little bit tough for me to find just the right recipe where she is not allergic to. I saw two recipes online that I thought was simple and can be modified to fit Charlotte's dietary needs, and this was one of them.

Charlotte was so excited to get a little early birthday treat that she can enjoy during the hot days. We used to love getting her the frosty paws from the store, and this was a better option. Not only that it was inexpensive & easy to make, I know for sure that I have quality ingredients.

If you have a furry friend that would love this, make sure to give this a try!!

Homemade Frosty Paws


1 Quart plain or vanilla yogurt
1 banana (1 large jar banana baby food)
2 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp honey


If using regular banana mash well....mix all ingredients until well blended ( you could use a food processor or blender) Place into ice cube trays or small bathroom sized cups and freeze. Once frozen you can store in freezer in plastic bag.

The great thing is you can play with recipe and add stuff that your dog likes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

BU: BB's Backtracking--Goat Cheese & Tomato Tart

I still have the glow of being a relatively new member of the Barefoot Bloggers. I get very giddy and love the fact that I have found a group of people who will be making the same recipe as I do, and blog about it! (So now Red doesn't have to "suffer" my interrogation as he is enjoying the fruit of my labor..., well not as much!) My friends, who are not *yet* in the blogging world asked: "Wow, so that's neat that you get to chat with other people on their experiences making the same recipe." I nodded excitedly.

The BB has just celebrated its first year anniversary, and we got to vote on our fave recipe. It was very difficult, but I picked the Banana Sour Cream pancakes! Of course, it was so yummy that I wasn't patient enough to take good pictures of the food. I was ready to eat, so there you go. Please check out some of the other member's favorites.

One other new feature that the group has added this month was a "Barefoot Backtracking" where we get to swap one recipe from a previous one already tested, due to whatever reasons. And since May's first recipe is the Tuna Salad, selected by Kate from Warm Olives and Cool Cocktails & we don't have access to fresh tuna, I decided to use my one pass to backtrack for the Goat Cheese & Tomato Tart, selected by Anne from Anne Strawberry.

And... I'm so glad we did! This tart turned out to be a lot heartier than I had anticipated. And being the onion lover that I am, the strong onion flavor in this tart really didn't bother me. So maybe if you don't like onion soup, this isn't quiet the dish for you! But all in all, we really liked this dish!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Espresso Brownies

Red first introduced me to this yummy adult treats when we first met 2.5 yrs ago. All of his friends always requested him to whip up this treat for parties and get together. One even asked if Red could shipped them through Fed-Ex when he moved to Iowa. We made these a couple of days ago to the delight of our friends, Jill and Sarah who drove 2.5 hrs to see us.

This isn't a kid-friendly recipe since kids don't usually like the coffee flavor in the frosting, but adults love since it adds depth to the chocolate flavor.

Espresso Brownies
Courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis (Food Network)

  • Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 1 (19.8-ounce) box brownie mix (recommended: Duncan Hines)
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

Brownie Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
  • Whisk 1/3 cup of water, oil, eggs, and 2 tablespoons espresso powder in a large bowl to blend. Add the brownie mix.
  • Stir until well blended.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 minutes.
  • Cool completely.

Frosting Directions
  • Meanwhile, dissolve the remaining 2 teaspoons of espresso powder in the remaining 2 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl.
  • Whisk in the vanilla.
  • Add the powdered sugar and butter and whisk until smooth.
  • Pour the glaze over the brownies. Refrigerate until the glaze is set.
  • Cut into bite-size pieces.
  • Arrange the brownies on a platter and serve.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Potato Gratin with Cheese and Smoked Ham

Red has been asking for a potato gratin all winter long, since we usually always have fresh potatoes in the house. I thought that we should try this, since we have just bought some gruyere cheese and have leftover potatoes that need to be used up! Wow! Don't skimp on the gruyere, it adds such an extraordinary flavor to simple potato gratin.

Adapted from Patricia Well's Bistro Cooking.
Yield: 6 servings

5 medium thick slices smoked ham (about 4 ounces)
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp baking potatoes, such as russets, peeled and very thinly sliced
3 cups freshly grated imported French or Swiss Gruyere Cheese
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degree F.
2. Trim all of the fat from the ham, cut each slice into 1-inch wide strips.
3. Use 1 tbsp fo the butter to coat the inside of an oval porcelain bakin dish about 14x9x2 inches. Arrange half of the potatoes in an even layer in the dish.
4. Arrange half of the ham stripes evenly over the potatoes. Distribute half of the cheese over the ham. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Arrange the remaining potatoes, ham and cheese in even layers in the dish. Sprinkle on more nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Cut the remaining 3 tbsp of butter into bits; dot the top evenly with butter.
5. Bake, uncovered, until the gratin is golden, about 50 min; do not overcook or the gratin will be dry and the ham rubbery. Serve immediately.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mini Blue Cheese Popovers

I have been reading Martha Stewart's Hors D'Oeuvres Handbook for a few weeks now, and overwhelmed by the number of incredible looking food that she has on this cookbook. She has gorgeous pictures and just incredible creative ideas! Unfortunately, some of the recipes are also very time-consuming. I don't mind those for special occasions, but prefer simpler recipes that I can make relatively quick!

These are simple, but a nice alternative to the usual popovers or parmesan popovers that I am used to, and are made in small muffin tins with 1 1/2-inch diameter. The rise and fall of these popovers may be less dramatic, but I think they are just perfect for tapas party, or appetizer.

As an added bonus, they can be made ahead, and just bake before serving.
Yield: 4 dozens

2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus more for tins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh thyme

1. In a large bown, whish together the eggs, milk, melted butter, flour, salt, and pepper. Whisk until all of the lumps have dissapeared. Whisk in the cheese and the thyme. Transfer the batter to an air-tight container. The batter, must be chilled, refrigerate for at least 2 hours aor up to 1 day.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 degree F. Generously butter the mini muffin tins. Fill each cup to the top with the chilled batter. Bake the popovers until golden and puffed, 15-18 min. Repeat until the batter is used. Serve warm.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I have been craving cookies for a couple of weeks now, and decided that I'd like to make these treats so I can enjoy them with coffee. They're perfect and light, and tasted even better the second day. I used Emeril's recipe but made some tweaks.


  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp of cream tartar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • a pinch of nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cream of tartar and salt into a bowl.

With a handheld or standing mixer, beat together the shortening and butter. Add the 1 1/2 cups sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, combine well. Add the flour mixture and blend until smooth.

Mix the 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll the dough, by hand, into 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar and line them up about 2-inch apart on a unlined cookie sheets. Bake until light brown, but still moist in the center, about 12 minutes.

Cool on a rack.

Yield: Approx. 3-4 dozens.