Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My First Sugar High Friday

I love King Arthur Flour and order from them religiously. They have the best products for baking and cooking and the Baker's Banter Blog is awesome! Just last night I was searching for a gift for my sweetheart and I stumbled into the site and what did I find Black and White Brownies. These look wonderful but tonight I'm searching for the two recipes I'm doing for Sugar High Friday.

The theme this month is "TOASTED" so I went with nuts. Almonds, because I was too tired to run and pick up walnuts for the Mallows.

I decided to try two recipes. Partly because I wanted to do a test run of gifts for the holidays and partly cause I thought it would be fun to do this with my 9 year old nephew. We ended up only doing the Choco-Mallows with some revisions. My Variation used almonds and I added caramel filled milk chocolate squares.

Below is the original recipe



* 2 2/3 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
* 1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 teaspoon espresso powder
* 13 marshmallows, halved around the circumference
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted if desired
* 16 ounces chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
* 4 ounces heavy or whipping cream
* 1 3/8 ounces light corn syrup
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 teaspoon espresso powder
* 3 ounces marshmallows, halved around the circumference
* 2 ounces chopped walnuts, toasted if desired


1) Line an 8" x 8" square or 9" round pan with parchment, and grease the parchment. If you don't have parchment, use waxed paper or plastic wrap.

2) Combine the chocolate, cream, espresso powder, corn syrup, and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl.

3) Heat the mixture in the microwave (or in a saucepan set over low heat on the stove) till the cream is hot and the chocolate has softened.

4) Remove from the heat, and stir till the chocolate has melted and everything is smooth.

5) Spread about 3/4 cup of the melted chocolate in the bottom of the pan.

6) Space the marshmallow halves atop the chocolate. Distribute the walnuts evenly in the spaces between the marshmallows.

7) Spread the remaining chocolate atop the marshmallows and walnuts, spreading to the edge of the pan so that everything is covered.

8) Refrigerate for an hour or so, to set the chocolate. Remove from the refrigerator, and loosen the candy from the edges of the pan.

9) Bring to room temperature, and leave in the pan, covered with plastic, till you're ready to cut into squares.

Oh I also totally messed this thing up due to pressure from Sal, I just poured the chocolate over without mixing it with the cream etc. I'll have to do a revision after my weekend away. But they were still YUMMY!!!

Goodbye Fruit Flies

Well after weeks of madness the harvests are winding down, the weather is getting cooler, and the fruit flies are finally moving on or dieing. I'm not sure which. They tend to become the bane of my existence the last few weeks of summer, beginning of fall.

Tonight to continue my thwarting of the last few those pesky flies all those bananas they've been eying that were sitting getting speckled in the kitchen are getting turned in to bread and muffins. Not just any bread either but Apricot Banana Bread. The recipe below is wonderful, I do use the Mariani Apricots if I can find them but any good, moist, dried apricot will do. I love banana bread but this just raises the level of bread way above yum for me and adds a little tang. Oh boy and is it ever good toasted with butter or cream cheese. Now lets see if I can keep from eating it after it comes out of the oven.

Tomorrow night is my final time to finish my Sugar High Friday project with my nephew Sal. But, until that's unveiled here's the Mariani Orchard Recipe for Apricot Banana Bread, all I can say is try it you'll like it.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup Mariani Mediterranean Apricots, chopped
3/4 cup ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, apricots and nuts. Mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, combine mashed banana, milk and egg. Stir in dry ingredients, mix until well blended. Pour mixture into a 9” x 5” loaf pan, bake for 1 hour or until bread begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and wooden toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove loaf out of pan and place onto a rack to cool completely.

Makes 1 loaf.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oh Soooo Tired

I've been back home from Virginia for a whole 14 hours or so, maybe a little more. The trip was a whirlwind weekend to support family and I'm really glad I went and can hardly wait to return. I'm hoping I was able to get some passable photos with my Blackberry and they're few, but not too bad.
It was beautiful.
Anyone want to purchase a yacht? The Yachts available at Bluewater are stunning and the food at the restaurant was simple but fabulous.

It looks like fall has set in. It's a whole 61 degrees outside and I don't think I'm ready for the change just yet. I have things to do. Chocolate chip cookies to make, Renee's Chili Colorado to whip up for the camping trip this weekend. The pear tree has just exploded with fruit. I'm going to get a batch of pear preserves or two in jars before the weekend starts. These are Bartletts and boy are they good. I'll post more after I'm done.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Random Musings and The Cannoli Cake

So, I've just discovered that I live in a town that is on the National Historic Registry. That's kinda cool. Oh and we've got Shasta County's first legal marijuana cooperative. That's just interesting. As long as everything sold there is locally grown I really don't care, but I'm all for supporting the local farmers. :-)

Speaking of locally grown, Miss Nancy brought me about 25 lbs of Roma's from her sister in laws garden yesterday, enough to make about 8 quarts of delicious sauce. Aren't they beautiful!

Yesterday was my cousin Liz's 70th Birthday. We were supposed to go up to her place for a birthday bash on Saturday but that got canceled so my mom thought having her down would be a good idea, and it was. We had great fun! My brother's birthday was last week so it was a dinner for him as well, old man.
Mom did all the usual favorites Meatball and sauce with pasta, eggplant, garlic bread. Then she decided that we also needed some North Carolina BBQ Pork, so she did a cheater version. There was tons of food.
Mom insisted that I make a cake so I decided on a cannoli cake and it was DELISH. I wish I'd taken a picture of it after it had been cut. For the first time out I was very happy with it, but there will be changes. Sponge cake, split and filled with cannoli filling then topped with this amazing light whipped cream butter cream frosting. it was sooo yummy. Things I was not happy with, I personally think the sponge was a bit heavier than it needed to be but I think that was operator error and I'll have to look into to. My niece refused to even try it because she thinks Ricotta cheese is disgusting. My mom said she likes the traditional Cassata cake better so I may have to do a Cassata/ Cannoli cake taste off down the road doing a full compare and contrast. The cool thing about the recipe from last night is that I have leftover filling AND frosting and I think I'm going to fill some cupcakes!!!! Maybe I'll get pictures of those!

Here's the recipe I used.

Jun 16, 2005

This delicious Cannoli Cake has a thick layer filled with ricotta and cream cheese flavored with orange and liqueur and iced with Vanilla-Cream Frosting.

SERVES 12 (change servings and units)


* 6 large eggs, separated
* 1 cup sugar (divided)
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons water
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


* 2 large oranges
* 2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (optional)


1 (32 ounce) container ricotta cheese

* 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 cup confectioners' sugar
* 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate, mini pieces
* 1/3 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips (for feather- design on top of cake)


* 3 tablespoons margarine or butter, softened
* 3 tablespoons milk
* 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
* 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2 cups whipping cream

FOR THE CAKE: Begin early in day or day ahead to make Cannoli Cake.
Preheat oven to 375°F In small bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually sprinkle in 1/2 cup sugar, beating until sugar completely dissolves and whites stand in stiff peaks.

In large bowl, using same beaters and with mixer at low speed, beat egg yolks, flour, baking powder, salt, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 Tablespoons water until blended. With rubber spatula, gently fold beaten egg whites into egg-yolk mixture, one-third at a time.

Spoon batter into UNGREASED 10 inch by 3 inch springform pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until cake is golden and top springs back when lightly touched.

Invert cake in pan on wire rack; cool completely in pan.

FOR BRUSHING CAKE LAYERS: From oranges, grate 2 teaspoons peel (use the rest of peel for the filling) and squeeze 1/3 cup juice (IF NOT USING LIQUEUR, INCREASE JUICE TO 1/2 CUP). Stir liqueur into 1/3 cup juice; set aside.

FOR THE FILLING: In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat ricotta, cream cheese, rest of the grated orange peel, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract until smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup semisweet-chocolate mini pieces.

With metal spatula, loosen cake from edge of pan; remove pan side. Loosen cake from pan bottom; remove pan bottom. With serrated knife, cut cake horizontally into 2 layers. Brush orange-juice mixture evenly over cut side of both layers.

Place bottom cake layer, cut-side up, on cake plate. Spoon ricotta-cheese filling on center of cake layer. Spread some filling out to edge, leaving a center rounded to achieve a dome effect.

Cut a small wedge out of remaining cake layer; and gently rest cake layer over filling. (Cutting wedge will allow cake layer to bend, without cracking, to fit over dome shape.).

PREPARE VANILLA-CREAM FROSTING: In small bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat 3 Tablespoons margarine or butter, softened, 3 Tablespoons milk, 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract until smooth, adding more milk if necessary until mixture has an easy spreading consistency. In large bowl, using same beaters and with mixer at medium speed, beat 2 cups heavy or whipping cream until stiff peaks form; fold confectioners’-sugar mixture into whipped cream. Spread over top and down side of cake.

In a heavy small saucepan over low heat, heat remaining 1/3 cup mini pieces, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth.

Into waxed-paper cone, spoon melted chocolate. (Or, use small decorating bag with small writing tube.) With chocolate, make feather design.

Refrigerate cake until filling is firm for easier cutting, about 3 hours.

Holy Cow

Ok, I'm back. AGAIN.

There have just been so many changes in the last 9 months. I've moved North to the house I grew up in with my bratty brother and my mom and dad. Now I'm here with my mom, my three kitties, mom's kitty and the neighbors boisterous Jack Russell cross Lexie. I've reconnected with friends from school that are keeping me somewhat sane and providing for lots of comic relief and free entertainment. I'm getting to spend more time with my niece and nephew. And, I've met the most amazing man that apparently adores me even though I say what's on my hard headed mind.

So...let the adventures begin, it's looking like there will be LOTS of them.

I've decided with all the things that I've got in my brain that I'll probably expand the focus of the blog to include the other aspects of what's going on here at the ranch. Farm. Ranch. Whichever one it is although with my love of food and family I'm sure there will be lots of goodies cooked and hopefully interesting things will be happening.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Everythings Better with Bacon (or Pork)

Parker's BBQ 3
Originally uploaded by dwightsghost

I'm playing hooky. It's nearly noon, I was up late updating the blog layout and I'm not done. And yet I can't get the darn thought of bacon out of my head. You think working from home would be easy but I've really decided that it's what I have to do when I'm not working on other food related projects. Sad but true and now it back to bacon. Again.
I was just in North Carolina after the holidays to visit family and it's all about the pork products and I didn't get enough. I don't know how that can even be possible but man I'm missing my pork.
I've never been back east in the middle of the winter. There's just not enough room for all the family in any one person's home at that time of year but here we were, about 35 of us at any one given time for the most part, at my Aunt's place eating.
For breakfast, ham biscuits! Not the passable ones you get from Hardee's but real ham biscuits. With the biscuits made from scratch, or Atkinson's biscuit mix with ham (or sausage) from Nahunta. Barbecue, chicken livers and hush puppies from Parker's with these awesome fresh yeast rolls that May Dolan brought over for us. They were still warm when I hid them after snatching one and someone brought over a spiral sliced ham, it was good. Now, that doesn't mean there wasn't the requisite fried chicken but compared to the pork it wasn't touched and it was good too.
So now I'm home in finally rainy Northern California and I'm missing all things pork related which means I'm going to have to make something with bacon. How about some Pig Candy! Thank you Jill Conner Browne!

Pig Candy


# Bacon (several strips)
# Brown Sugar (enough to coat strips of bacon)


1. Coat uncooked bacon in some dark brown sugar.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Recipe from The Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner, by Jill Conner Browne copyright Copyright 2003, Three Rivers Press publishing.

Oooo, and I'm going to be re-reading this book, it's hilarious!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Well after months of family stress with the terminal illness and unexpected and untimely loss of my beloved Aunt I've been finally able to take a breath and work at getting back on track. The holidays were a blur, there was nearly no baking or really any celebratory cooking done by or for my family. And because of it things seemed kinda non existent, like thing s were missed.
So, I spent today blog surfing on and off and am entirely worn out after all the reading that I did. But not too worn out to make some cookies!!!
We'd been craving brownies here at the house but we seemed to be out of brownie mix. (Gasp!) Also I decided that who really needs that many brownies in a house when there is no one close by to share with. So instead I decided to make Baker's Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies with a few small changes because I really didn't have my usual stash of chocolate in the house.

Baker's Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies (with some slight changes ala me!)

5 oz Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chopped
3 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate
3/4 C. firmly packed Brown Sugar
1/4 C. Butter softened
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 C. Walnuts Chopped
3/4 C. Chopped Chocolate (on in my case mini chips)

Melt Chocolate in a large microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes. Stir chocolate till it's melted and smooth. Add sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon until well blended. Add flour and baking powder. Mix in Walnuts and Chopped Chocolate.

Drop Scant 1/4 cupfuls of dough onto ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 13-14 minutes or until cookies look puffed and feel set to the touch.
Cool 1 minute on baking sheet before removing them to a rack to cool.
Makes 18 or so cookies.

Ok, here's what I've found.
#1 No skimping on the additions. The original recipe calls for 2 cups walnuts and 8 ounces coarsely chopped chocolate. I think that this helps the cookies retain the shape and not spread quite so flat due to the amount of goodies the dough has to surround.

#2 I think if you let the batter sit for a few minutes it firms up just a little making the dough mound more than spread too.

These are really like ultra fudgey brownies with lots of chunks and man are they tasty! Now off to do the dishes.

Next up the weekly Tuesday's with Dorie project...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A - Z Reading List

Reading List Update

Well, we're almost to October and I've been really busy but still managing to read, work just gets in the way of things some times. Below is an updated list of what's been read so far this year. I'm sure I'm missing things but I have a pile of books functioning as a bedside table in my room. I need to go through that and see what I've read vs what's still to come...I haven't updated my "book reports" yet
but I'll get around to it sometime.

Happy New Year!

For the new year my crazy cousin Nicole thinks we should undertake a mammoth challenge this year by reading 26 books, one for each letter of the alphabet. Who am I to disagree with her, so I'm going to post what I'm reading/read. This will be updated with additions and a book review when I'm done. So far 1 down 25 to go....

1. Acheron
2. Bakewise
3. Carolina Moon
4. Dream Warrior
5. Eclipse
6. Field Guide to Men - Sweet Potato Queen's
7. Gunslinger
8. Hidden Riches
9. I
10. Judas Strain
11. K
12. Last Oracle
13. Magic
14. N
15. One Silent Night
16. P
17. Q
18. R
19. Skeleton Crew
21. U
22. Vision in White
23. What's Age Got To Do With It?
24. X
25. Y
26. Z