Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 of 2010


I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes from 2010.  It was hard to choose my top ten but these are recipes that I have made several times throughout the year.  When I looked back at my posts from 2010, I realize that my food is not fancy at all.  It is comfort food.  It is simple and easy food.  It is good, delicious food.  It is me.

Thank you for everyone that has visited my blog this past year and has taken the time to leave me comments.  I truly appreciate all my visitors and all your kind words.  I'm looking forward to sharing more recipes in 2011.

Mom's Cooking Club Lesson:  Don't forget to go back and look at the recipes you made in 2010.  Put your "keeper" recipes in a binder so you can remember all your favorite ones.  Make them again in 2011.   

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cracked Sugar Cookies........12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Week 12

I had to include a sugar cookie on my last recipe for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies.  As much as I love cut out sugar cookies, it is very time consuming.  So, I went with an easy drop sugar cookie with a unique cracked top.  A little crunchy with a light sugary coating on the outside makes for a really good sugar cookie. 

Cracked Sugar Cookies
Recipe slightly adapted from Allrecipes & Savory Sweet Life

Yield: 24 cookies


1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup butter, softened
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Turbinado (coarse) sugar or granulated sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets or use parchment paper.

2. Cream together sugar and butter. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla.

3. Add flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Stir.

4. Form dough into walnut size balls and roll in sugar of choice.  Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Don't flatten. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until tops are cracked and just turning color.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before moving to a cooling rack.  

Note:  I rolled half the sugar cookie dough in coarse sugar and the other half in granulated sugar.  The ones with the coarse sugar had a little extra crunch to them.

It's been alot of fun participating in these cookie posts the last 12 weeks.  With the linky blog hop attached each week, I now have a ton of cookie recipes to try.  And so do you!  Check out the other cookies/treats I made the last 12 weeks:

Cracked Sugar Cookies


Mom's Cooking Club LessonGift/Packaging Idea - These cookies are for Santa.  So, place on a cookie plate and leave out with a tall glass of milk.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chocolate Walnut Fudge.......12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Week 11

How about some chocolate fudge on your cookie trays this year?  You have to have some chocolate around the holiday season and what better way than with homemade fudge.  Quick and easy to make which is perfect during the last hectic weeks of Christmas.      

Chocolate Walnut Fudge
Recipe by Anne Thornton from Food Network


2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup chopped nuts, optional, (recommended: toasted, salted walnuts)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


In a heavy bottom saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and the salt. Remove from the heat, stir in the nuts, if using, and the vanilla. Spread evenly into a foil-lined 8 or 9-inch square pan. Chill for 3 hours, or until firm. Remove the fudge from the pan and place onto a cutting board. Remove the foil from the bottom of the fudge and cut into squares. Store, covered, in the refrigerator or freezer.

Note:  I used chopped walnuts but did not toast them.  I stored my fudge in the refrigerator.  I recommend eating the fudge at room temperature. 


Mom's Cooking Club Lesson Gift/Packaging Idea -  Package your fudge in a cute box or container.  You can get boxes like the one above at Target, Michaels or a variety of craft and kitchen stores. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mandel Bread (Mandelbrodt)...........12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Week 10

This is a special cookie to me.  It's a family recipe by my grandmother and one that represents my Jewish heritage.  Since Hanukkah started last week, this is the perfect time to share this cookie from my childhood and culture.  Mandel Bread is a twice baked cookie similar to Italian Biscotti.  It has a cinnamon sugar topping.  Walnuts and/or chocolate chips can be added.

I have never made Mandel Bread until now.  I left that up to my grandmother and my oldest sister, Maxine.  My sister makes them every holiday season and I look forward to getting my fill whenever I get the chance to visit.  Well, now that I have finally made these cookies on my own (what took me so long), I can enjoy one of my favorite childhood cookies any time of the year.  And now, I can continue the tradition and pass on this family recipe to my daughters.

My grandmother (affectionately known as Motha) passed away many years ago but she was in the kitchen with me as I made her Mandel Bread.  Don't forget the family recipes and traditions this holiday season.  And maybe try some new recipes from other cultures as well.  

Mandel Bread
Recipe by my grandmother, Annette Sussman


3 large eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 - 3 cups flour ( I used closer to 3 cups)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped
semi-sweet chocolate chips, optional


1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all the ingredients through salt in a mixer or my hand.  Fold in walnuts or chocolate chips, if using.  Place dough in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight.  Divide dough into 3 or four equal parts and place in bread loaf pans.  Spread dough evenly into pans.  I use my hands for this.  Depending on how many you use, you will have 3 or 4 pans of dough.  The dough will be 1 or 2 inches high but it will rise some when it cooks. 

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes.  It should be crisp and a little golden brown.

Cut cookies into slices while still warm and still in loaf pans.  Sprinkle tops of Mandel Bread with mixture of cinnamon and sugar, divided evenly between pans.

Place loaf pans back in oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Cool before removing slices from pan.  Store in airtight container.

Variation:  Add 1/2 cup or more chocolate chips to batter instead of nuts or with nuts.  I divided the dough in half and placed chopped walnuts in one and chocolate chips in the other half.


Mom's Cooking Club Lesson Gift/Packaging Idea:  Place one or two pieces of Mandel Bread in a clear treat bag wrapped with a pretty ribbon.  Place in a large coffee or cappuccino cup with matching saucer.  For something extra special add a gift card to your local coffee shop.   

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Vanilla-Bourbon Pumpkin Tart - Holiday Dinner Party with the Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club

Vanilla Bourbon Pumpkin Tart

It's holiday time.  Time for dinner parties and get-togethers.  How about a Holiday Dinner Party, Cooking Light style?  This month the Cooking Light Virtual Supper Club got together to celebrate the season.  I made dessert.  Basically a pumpkin pie but kicked up a couple of notches.  The bourbon, spices and cream cheese gave it really good flavor.  A special dessert for a special time of year.  Here is the rest of our menu:

Sandi (Whistlestop Cafe Cooking) - Turkey Scallopine with Apricots and Ginger
Helene (La Cuisine d'Helene) - Creamy Artichokes
Mary Ann (Meet Me in the Kitchen) - Cauliflower Caviar with Frizzled Prosciutto
Val (More Than Burnt Toast) - Wild Rice Dressing with Chestnuts & Cranberries
Jamie (Mom's Cooking Club) - Vanilla Bourbon Pumpkin Tart

Click on each blog's link to see more details of the other recipes.

Vanilla-Bourbon Pumpkin Tart
Recipe by Cooking Light



3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 5 cookie sheets)
1 tablespoon finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Cooking spray


1 cup (8 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Remaining ingredients:

1/3 cup cold heavy cream
2 teaspoons powdered sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare crust, combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle butter over crumb mixture; stir with a fork. Firmly press into bottom and 1 inch up sides of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly browned; cool on a wire rack.

3. To prepare filling, beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add pumpkin and eggs; beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add bourbon and the next 5 ingredients (through ground allspice); beat 1 minute or until combined. Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan. Place pan in a large roasting pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until center barely moves when side of pan is tapped. Cool completely on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Place cream and powdered sugar in a small bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Serve sweetened whipped cream with tart.

Pumpkin Tart


Mom's Cooking Club Lesson:  This tart is made in a springform pan in a hot water bath.  The hot water bath is used to keep the tart from cracking.  If you use the water bath method make sure you wrap aluminum foil tightly around the bottom and sides of the springform pan.  You don't want any water to seep in.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pretzel Peanut Bark.........12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Week 9

Pretzel Peanut Bark

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.  Now the countdown to Christmas begins.  During this busy time, it's hard to find the time to make home baked cookies and treats.  This Pretzel Peanut Bark is perfect for this time of year.  It's easy, quick, only 3 ingredients and you won't be able to just eat one piece.  It's sweet, salty, crunchy and creamy.  So, put aside a little time this holiday season and make this homemade treat.  You will be thanked for it!


Peanut Pretzel Bark
Recipe by Paula Deen


18 (1-ounce) squares white chocolate (I used Ghirardelli Candy Making & Dipping Bar)
3 cups skinny pretzel sticks, broken into small pieces but not crushed, then measured
2 cups dry salted peanuts (I used Cocktail peanuts)


Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment or waxed paper.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water until smooth, or melt in the microwave in a 2 quart glass dish. Microwave on high (100 percent) for 1 minute, stir, and microwave on high for 1 minute more. If necessary, microwave on high for 10 seconds more, and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in the pretzel pieces and peanuts. Stir well with a flexible spatula.

Spoon onto the prepared cookie sheet, spreading the mixture out so that ingredients are relatively evenly distributed.

Allow for the chocolate to cool for several hours or refrigerate for about 45 minutes, until firm. Break the bark into irregular pieces, like peanut brittle. Store in cookie tins, or package in Chinese food take-out cartons lined with waxed paper.

Spread mixture of pretzel sticks, peanuts and melted white chocolate on cookie sheet.  The bark will harden quickly in the refrigerator.

Close-up Pretzel Peanut Bark


Mom's Cooking Club LessonGift/Packaging Idea - I found these cute little Christmas tin buckets and treat bags in the $1.00 bin section at Target.  Place some Pretzel Peanut Bark pieces in treat bag and secure with twist tie.  Place in containers and share with teachers, neighbors, friends and relatives.  A treat made and packaged by you will bring such happiness to others.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ginger-Soy Chicken Thighs with Scallion Rice........The Kids Cook Monday!

Ginger Soy Chicken Thighs

I was feeling under the weather and the last thing I wanted to do was cook.  But I had some boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the fridge that needed to be cooked.  So, I thought my daughters (age 14) could make this simple chicken dish and I would just stand by and give them instructions. 

They made the rice.  Mixed in the sliced scallions.  Cooked the chicken in the skillet.  Made the sauce with apricot preserves, fresh ginger, soy sauce and garlic.  Cooked the sauce and coated the cooked chicken thighs in the sauce.  Placed the rice on a plate and put the glazed chicken thighs on top.  Added some string beans.  Dinner served.  Delicious.

Since this past August, my daughters have been helping me in the kitchen as part of The Kids Cook Monday program.  And I have seen some real changes in how they look at food.  They ask questions, they want to help and do more in the kitchen.  And the real plus is that they are trying more healthy and varieties of foods.  I could really get used to this Sous Chef thing.

For ideas on getting your kids to help more in the kitchen and to eat more family meals together, check out The Kids Cook Monday website.

My family wants to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Enjoy the time and food with your family, friends and loved ones. 

Ginger-Soy Chicken Thighs with Scallion Rice
Recipe by Cooking Light, November 2010, Slightly adapted

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 thighs, about 1/2 cup rice, and about 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce)


4 servings of long-grain rice
2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 (2-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced


1. Prepare rice according to package directions. Drain; fluff rice with a fork. Gently stir in green onions.

2. While rice cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Season chicken with a little salt and pepper.  Add chicken; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm. Add preserves, grated ginger, soy sauce, and garlic to pan; bring to a boil. Cook sauce 2 minutes or until reduced to 1/3 cup, stirring occasionally. Return chicken to pan; turn to coat with sauce.  Serve with rice.

Note: Original recipe calls for 1/2 cup ginger preserves.  You can substitute 1/2 cup apricot preserves plus 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger.

Ginger-Soy Chicken Thighs w/Scallion Rice


Mom's Cooking Club Lesson:  If you need minced garlic in a recipe, a quick way is to run the peeled garlic clove over a Microplane Zester.  This was an easy and safe way for my daughter (or anyone) to mince the garlic needed for the ginger soy sauce. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars.......12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Week 8

Pumpkin Swirl Cheescake

I just had to include a cheesecake dessert in my 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies.  I know they aren't cookies but they could pass as a bar cookie.  Right?  Either way, if you love cheesecake as much as I do, you really have to make these for your dessert/cookie tray this year.  Cheesecake is really easy to make and the results are always so impressive.  These are super easy because you make them in a 9 x 13 pan instead of a Springform pan. (see instructions below for making a traditional cheesecake in a springform pan)

These cheesecake bars were for my husband's Thanksgiving work party.  I had to cut the bars at home and quickly take some pictures before he carted them off to work.  There were only a few left, so my thoughtful husband brought 2 home for me to try.  And I'm so glad he did!  They are soooooo good.  Creamy pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap and pecan crust.  And the swirls are so pretty. 

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars
Recipe by Kraft Foods


25 NABISCO Ginger Snaps, finely crushed (about 1-1/2 cups)
1/2 cup finely chopped PLANTERS Pecans
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves


Preheat oven to 325°F

Mix crumbs, nuts and butter; press onto bottom of 13x9-inch pan.

Beat cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each just until blended. Remove 1-1/2 cups batter. Stir remaining sugar (1/4 cup), pumpkin and spices into remaining batter.

Spoon half the pumpkin batter into crust; top with spoonfuls of half the plain batter. Repeat layers; swirl with knife.

Bake 45 min. or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours.

Make it Easy:  Line pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Use foil handles to lift chilled cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve.

How to Prepare Cheesecake in Springform Pan:  To bake cheesecake in 9-inch springform pan instead, prepare as directed increasing the bake time to 55 min. to 1 hour 5 min or until center is almost set.

Cheesecake Tip:  To help avoid cracks in your cheesecake, place Springform pan in a baking pan.  Add boiling water to baking pan about 1 inch in depth.  Make sure to wrap bottom and sides of Cheesecake pan with tin foil to prevent water from seeping into pan.  The water surrounds the cheesecake with gentle even heat, reducing the chance of a cracked top.

Photo courtesy of Cuisine at Home

Pan of Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

I love the swirl effect.

Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake


Mom's Cooking Club LessonGift/Packaging Idea -  Make these Cheesecake Bars in a nice 9 x 13 pan, like these personalized, engraved pans from The Cake Pan Lady.  Give pumpkin bars and pan to your mom, sister, grandmother, aunt, friend, hostess of party or anyone on your gift list.  If putting out on your dessert table or office party, cut in bars and place on a nice holiday platter or silver tray.  Watch them disappear!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spinach and Green Apple Salad.....The Kids Cook Monday!

Spinach and Green Apple Salad

This Monday, I have a simple but very good for you salad.  Baby spinach, green apples, walnuts, blue cheese with an apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard dressing.  We really liked the sweet, tart and crunchy apples in this salad.  This would be a nice salad for your Thanksgiving table or your dinner table.

Spinach and Green Apple Salad
Recipe by Ellie Krieger, Food Network (slightly adapted)


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 5 cups lightly packed)
1 Granny Smith apple
1/3 cup walnut pieces, toasted in a dry skillet over a medium-high flame until fragrant, about 2 minutes
Blue Cheese (optional)


In a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar and mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the spinach with the dressing until evenly coated then divide the spinach among 4 serving plates.

Core the apple and slice it into matchsticks. Sprinkle a quarter of the apple pieces on top of each salad.

Follow with the walnut pieces. If desired, crumble blue cheese on top of salad.  Serve immediately. 

For more information on getting your kids to help you prepare meals in the kitchen and eating together as a family, go to The Kids Cook Monday website. 

My daughter, Mariah, whisked the dressing.......

and cut up the apple.........

and tossed the salad with the dressing.

 Place on individual plates and top with apples, walnuts and blue cheese.


Mom's Cooking Club Lesson:  Here are some other wonderful salads with fruit in them.  Perfect for Thanksgiving or anytime......

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cream Cheese Brownies.......12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies: Week 7

Cream Cheese Brownies

After 6 weeks of making cookies, I had to make a change.  And, in my book, there is no better change than brownies.  Brownies are one of my family's favorite treats.  I wanted to make brownies with a little something extra.  That something extra is cream cheese.  If you have never had the combination of cream cheese and brownies, you need to make these soon.  These brownies are in between cake-like and fudgy.  Full of chocolate flavor along with the slightly tangy cream cheese layers make a fantastic brownie.  

Cream Cheese Brownies

16 Squares


10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
1 cup plus two tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped ( I used Baker's Semisweet Chocolate )
4 ounces room-temperature bar cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or spray with cooking spray. Line bottom and two sides with a strip of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the two sides. Butter paper, and set pan aside. In a small bowl, whisk 1 cup flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2.Place 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter and chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of gently simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes; remove bowl from pan. Add 1 1/4 cups sugar; mix to combine. Add 3 eggs, and mix to combine. Add flour and cocoa mixture; mix just until moistened (do not overmix).

3.Prepare cream-cheese mixture: Whisk bar cream cheese with 2 tablespoons room-temperature butter. Whisk in 1/4 cup sugar, 1 egg, and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Alternately spoon chocolate batter and cream-cheese mixture into pan; with the tip of a paring knife, swirl to marble.

4.Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 50 to 60 minutes. ( check after 45 minutes ) Cool in pan for 30 minutes. Using paper overhang, lift brownies out of pan; transfer to a rack to cool completely (still on paper). On a cutting board, using a dampened serrated knife, cut into 16 squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 2 days.

Note:  I put the chocolate batter in the pan and then spooned the cream cheese mixture over the chocolate batter.  I then took a knife and swirled the batter together back and forth from one side of the pan and then swirled again from the other side of the pan.  You can also put a layer of chocolate batter, dollop the cream cheese batter and then top off with remaining chocolate batter.  Then swirl.  This will put the cream cheese filling more on the top and center of the brownies instead of just the top. 

Plate of Cream Cheese Brownies

Close-up Cream Cheese Brownie


Be sure to check out the Blog Hop below to see more recipes for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies.

Mom's Cooking Club Lesson Gift/Packaging Idea -  A simple way to package these brownies....wrap a large brownie square in wax paper and tie a festive Christmas ribbon around it.  Place little treat package on your bosses or co-workers desk.  Give to your child's teacher or someone special.  If you are having a dinner party, put a little brownie package with a recipe card at each person's place setting. 
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