Sunday, December 27, 2009

Heirloom Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

My sister Janel gave me a cool cookbook full of heirloom recipes for Christmas, "Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters." I got up early this morning, tip-toe-ing around so the dogs would stay asleep (which didn't work), and pulled out the cookbook and started reviewing recipes. The first one I wanted to try was the Pumpkin Walnut Muffins, pg. 45. I've had a can of pumpkin burning a hole in my pantry (so to speak.) I didn't have any heavy cream or mace on hand so I had to just sort that out on the fly. Here's what I did:

My Version of the Pumpkin Walnut Muffins
2 C unbleached flour
2 T ground flax seed (optional)
1 T plus 1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
1 t ginger
1 C sugar
1 egg (beaten)
2 t vanilla
1 C whole milk
2/3 C canned pumpkin
1 C chopped walnuts
1/2 C butter, melted
1/2 C chopped walnuts (for topping)
1/2 C brown sugar

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients and add the pumpkin and combine. Add the butter and fold in. Fold in the 1 C chopped walnuts. Don't overmix. (I mixed the muffins with a wooden spoon.) Scoop into muffin tin and sprinkle muffins with walnuts and brown sugar. Bake at 400 until toothpick comes out clean. (About 20-22 minutes.)

Everybody say "cheese!"
Review: I think they were just right. The consistency was really good. They baked perfectly and popped right out of the muffin cups. Just the right amount of spice to compliment the pumpkin. (Yep, there were 12 muffins... Mmmmm!) My husband liked them too! Hope you try them, they were a breeze to make!

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Eric Can Cook

Remember the PBS cooking show with "Yan Can Cook?" Well Eric can too, when he has time. This particular little number (see the brownies above) came from pre-fab stuff, but I overheard Em say they were the best brownies she had ever eaten (and that includes homemade from scratch Alton Brown-ies and the kind you make from Bakers chocolate - old school). He made the mix, sprinkled walnuts on top, and baked. When cool, he frosted (out of a can), and sprinkled with powdered sugar. He used a special "Baker's Edge Nonstick Edge Brownie Pan" so everybody got a chewy edge piece.

Cue narrator with English accent: "...and they shall be called "Nemesis Brownies" and they shall be known across the land as evil calorie chunks of delight."


UPDATE: I made some Brownies from scratch that everybody liked! Yay! Get the recipe

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gingerbread Yoga People

Adorable! Words fail me.

{ Photo source:, Patti Paige Baked Ideas Custom Baking }

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Best Banana Bread

A short story about baking with bananas...

The Joy of Baking
A couple of years ago I was looking for the best recipe for Banana Bread. I found it.

All Recipes
Next, it was on to muffin recipes. I ended up baking Banana Crumb Muffins. Em and I loved them, but Eric didn't.

Cooking Light
Then I found a banana bread recipe from Cooking Light. Really? Intriguing! I used my favorite Greek Gods Honey yogurt (because I don't ever have plain yogurt kicking around in my fridge). So, here's their recipe for Classic Banana Bread, and here's what I did:

Banana Bread
Banana Bread
My Version of the CL Classic Banana Bread
1 1/2 C Unbleached flour
1/2 C Whole wheat flour
1t Baking soda
1/2 t Salt
1 C sugar
1/4 C butter (soft/quasi melted)
2 eggs
3 over ripe bananas
1/3 C Honey yogurt
1 t Vanilla
1/2 C Walnuts (chopped)*
Turbinado sugar

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix the butter and sugar, add the eggs, bananas, yogurt and vanilla. Mix in the dry ingredients (don't over mix). Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with some of that "Tarantino" sugar. Bake until a toothpick test shows you it's baked thru.

1. Banana Bread
2. My Version of the CL Classic Banana Bread
3. Banana Crumb Muffins

PS: Did you see the cute pot holder? My sister Janel, made me 2 adorable patchwork pot holders for my birthday. I use them all of the time! ~Thank you Janel!~

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spam Fried Rice

Spam fried rice
Spam Fried Rice

Tonight Em had a friend over, and the pressure was on to cook something yummy. I suppose I could have pulled out a cereal box and some milk, but well, you know... I pulled out an old recipe instead.

Spam Fried Rice

4 C cooked rice
1 can of Spam (lite is okay)
1/2 C (to taste) frozen peas and carrots
4-5 eggs
olive oil
soy sauce

How to: start by cooking the rice. I use Jasmine rice and have a small rice cooker, this makes cooking rice a snap. Next cut the Spam into small chunks and fry in a pan with olive oil to keep it from sticking to the pan. Sprinkle some soy sauce over the ham to caramelize and stir as it browns. Next add the cooked rice to the pan, add the frozen carrots, break eggs over rice (yes, this looks sooo attractive, not) then break the yokes and stir by putting a spatula under the rice and flipping it, repeat every few minutes - this is a bit like hashbrowns, don't mess with it for a minute so you will get a golden cooked area. By the time the eggs are cooked the veggies will be too. Add a little soy sauce if you want. Then serve.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

Is it dark where you are at dinnertime? It's dark here too. Solstice is a comin' and tonight it's again with the "breakfast for dinner." Here's to breakfast at 7:00 p.m!
Mom's German Pancake
(a great recipe to use up eggs)

3 T butter
6 eggs
1 C flour
1 C milk
1 t salt

Place butter in a 9.5 x 13.5 pan and let it melt into a puddle of goodness in a 400 degree oven while you're mixing up the batter. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add milk, flour, salt, and whisk. Pull the pan out of the oven, put it on the counter and pour in the batter (do not stir).
Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. Serve with maple syrup.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Roll Out the Blueberries..."

Cookbook Bites: Whole wheat blueberry pancakes
Whole wheat blueberry pancake.
Everybody now! You don't like sing alongs? Or the song "Roll Out the Barrel?" Fine, just hum along, we're heading into blueberry country anyway!

Tonight I reached for ol' reliable, the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook. I went to pg. 72, the much loved family "Pancake" recipe; oil stained, dog eared, and yes, this cookbook's been written in. (Don't tell the cookbook police.)
Pancake ingredients
Ingredients for the fluffy buttermilk pancakes

My Version of the BH&G Pancakes

1 C whole wheat flour
2 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 egg
1 C buttermilk
2 T melted butter
1/2-1 t vanilla
Milk (to thin down the batter a little)
1 C Blueberries
1-2 T Butter (to butter the skillet between each pancake)

If you haven't made blueberry pancakes before. Mix the dry ingredients first, then mix in the wet (beat the egg first). I use a measuring cup to pour the batter into the skillet. Next drop the blueberries onto the pancake with plenty of room between them (especially if they're frozen). Make sure to cook these on med-low heat so the blueberries de-thaw and you don't end up with raw batter around the berries. Sound like I'm speaking from experience?

Something other than syrup? My mom taught me to butter the pancake then sprinkle white sugar over the top. If the pancake is thin, roll it up and eat, if not, just use a fork. Happy eating!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

C'mon, I'm Taking My Vitamins!

My mom reminded me that I said I was going to post about "healthy" stuff too. It looks like I've been on vacation from "healthy," but I haven't. I've been drinking "blue-goodness" and water, choosing "wheat" over "white," taking my vitamins... AND cooking stuff that tastes good. Is it because it's winter in Utah? The long dark days that simply call for comfort food? We aren't even at the darkest part of winter yet! Lately, when I find a highly rated recipe it's like it's burning a hole in my pocket until I try it out.

So, I've had a recipe and an ingredient that I never have on hand "buttermilk." I also found some recipes that appear to be tried and true by the Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond). The buttermilk met cocoa and it was a happy thing! Here are 2 recipes that are keepers:
  • "The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever" (Photo above) This is the yummiest chocolate cake I have ever made. Love the buttermilk in it! Kind of fluffy like the cake at my elementary school!
  • "Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich" Everybody thought this was a really good sandwich, even Eric! The Squirrel loved it (note: the Squirrel is not a nut loving rodent, but a dog)!
One recipe I don't recommend is Lazy Chiles Rellenos. Maybe it's the altitude difference. I think less milk would have made it set up better. I like my eggs cooked, for sure!

The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake 

Cake Batter:
2 C Flour
2 C Sugar
¼ t Salt
4 T (heaping) Cocoa
2 sticks Butter
1 Cup Boiling Water
½ C Buttermilk
2 Beaten Eggs
1 t Baking Soda
1 t Vanilla

½ C Finely Chopped Pecans
1-¾ stick Butter
4 T (heaping) Cocoa
6 T Milk
1 t Vanilla
1 pound (minus 1/2 Cup) Powdered Sugar

"In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, and salt. In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together.
Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool. In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes. While cake is baking, make the icing. Chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake. Cut into squares, eat, and totally wig out over the fact that you’ve just made the best chocolate sheet cake. Ever."

Source: Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Twilight Chocolate

Countdown to "New Moon" in t-minus 5 days! Why, yes that is Edward on that candy bar wrapper! There's a new chocolate bar in town with 3 flavors in one. Edward is peanut butter, Jacob is carmel, and Bella is creme. Can't think of a better treat to take to the movies next week! Look for them at Walmart.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

On Halloween, after trick-or-treating, Em came down with h1n1. After a long week+ of fevers, coughing, TiVo - when she was feeling better she decided to try her hand at making a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. This was no easy task, the egg whites had to be whipped to peaks, the sugar caramelized in a pan, this wasn't anything like from the side of a Bisquick box.

First taste was - holy moly, that topping's sweet! Probably great with black coffee to balance the sweetness, or maybe vanilla ice cream would mellow it out; however, our take? Put it in the fridge and wait a day or two. Em and I had it for snack the other day, straight from the fridge, cold. It was really good.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Agave Nectar

I took a leap of faith ($3 and change) and tried a new sweetner in my tea this week. Agave Nectar. Emily and I tasted it and it took a minute to place the underlying flavor. Nothing like Stevia or honey, Nutrasweet or Splenda, or sugar... yeah, it was sweet, but it tasted a little like homemade candy, then Em placed it - carmel. I'm not 100% sold, but I'm betting it's better for us than aspartame and chemically engineered sweeteners.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Blast From the Past

Haystacks: Fritos and chili fixin's
Haystacks were something my mom made when I was growing up. They're very good on a cold autumn evening and they're supremely easy to pull together. I mean they beat Rachel's 30 Minute Meals... this is more like 15 minutes. I grated the cheese rather than buying it pre-grated and I think it was less dry. Sounds like a science project in the making: "Which grated cheese maintains it's integrity better, hand grated or store bought?"


1 Can Vegetarian chili
1 Handful Fritos
Chopped Onions (Optional)
Grated Cheese
Sour Cream (Optional)

While heating up the chili chop the onion and set aside. Grate the cheese. When the chili has been heated layer first the Frito's, then the chili, onions, cheese, and sour cream. That's it... as I'm teased about for saying at work "easy-peasy lemon squeezy."

Source: Mom

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Pumpkin Milkshake & Friend

I am not in Disneyland, but I still found a happy place last night. Sort of like "Cheers," they knew my name, and everybody was friendly.
My sister Janel, said I had to try the shakes at Ab's Drive-in. So last night we headed over for a late night dessert. Plus it was a chance to catch up and say "howdy" to my nephew, Nick! Look at how tall that boy is!
So, to the shakes. They were indeed divine. Janel got a "Butterfinger" and my choice? A highly recommended "Pumpkin Chocolate Chip" shake. I don't know how much squash was actually in there, so I can't say "look at me, I made the nutritious choice!" It was mixed with little thin pieces of chocolate (like magic shell with the perfect melting point). The result was some very happy taste-buds. There's something about pumpkin treats in the fall when everywhere you look there are pumpkin patches and jack-o-lanterns.

7903 South Airport Road (4400 West)
West Jordan, Utah

Ab's Drive-in on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 18, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, just when the leaves were starting to change colors, Eric and I were running errands in Sugarhouse. We ended up passing a little cupcake bakery, so Eric pulled a u-turn. It was Mini's Cupcakes & Cafe. They were selling interesting little cupcakes with pretty dollops of frosting. We picked up a peanut butter, a red velvet, and a "Diva" with cream cheese frosting. We were a little underwhelmed, but we'll probably give it another try. Mini's is committed to buying local, which is extremely cool and their creative flavor combos like the "Lemon Pie" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in the photo above were a fun change from the usual! They also care about what goes into their cupcakes.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

"You Are My Sunshine..."

We grew sunflowers in the backyard garden this year and they were really fun! They first grew taller than the espalier apple tree, then they nearly reached the eaves. They were taller than me and definitely taller than my dog Squirrely who was cherry picking the tomatoes, strawberries, and apples that dropped over our fence. Passing the sunflowers every day was a bright point of my summer. When they blossomed they were always humming with activity, a good home to bees and tiny bugs. Eric harvested them about two weeks ago, and yesterday he and Em gathered the seeds. Now they're ready to be saved for planting, snacks, and a handful will be saved for the birds at Christmas. Here are some pics courtesy of the garden:

I'm going to follow the National Sunflower Association's recipe for roasting sunflowers.

Roasted Sunflower Seeds
The recipe says you can soak the seeds in salt water, but I'm going sans salt this year so I'll just give them a quick wash and rinse. Bake at 300 degrees spread on a cookie sheet for 30-40 minutes. Stir. Depending on the family vote and how long we want them around for snacking I may add a teaspoon of butter and seasoning when I take them out of the oven.

Update: Sun 9:06 p.m.
We have sunflower seeds, toasted, buttered, and salted (so much for "no salt.") with popcorn salt. And yup, they taste like sunflower seeds, but talk about "local grown!"

Saturday, October 3, 2009

9 Cups of Almonds?

The other day I picked up a 9-cup bag of almonds from my local warehouse store. What on earth do I need that many almonds for? That's a really good question. After making Cinnamon-Roasted Almonds tonight I'm now down to 5-cups of almonds. These roasted almonds taste very much like what you get at the mall and festivals during the holidays.

Recipe Source/Courtesy:

1 egg white
1 teaspoon cold water
4 cups whole almonds
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Lightly grease a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan.
2. Lightly beat the egg white; add water, and beat until frothy but not stiff. Add the nuts, and stir until well coated. Mix the sugar, salt, and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the nuts. Toss to coat, and spread evenly on the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until golden. Allow to cool, then store nuts in airtight containers.

* Note from Suz: I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the water and egg white. And about 1 T brown sugar, and 1 t Turbinado sugar

Sunday, September 27, 2009

No Bake: Muesli

This morning it's all about "no bake." I've combined muesli (raw oats etc) with greek honey yogurt (healthy goodness + cultures and pro biotics) for a pretty good breakfast. I had no idea that I'd like the nutty flavor. I've been reading up about "raw foods" a way of eating a friend told me about. Ayurveda (from an article and self quiz in the Yoga Journal). This last month has made it impossible for me not to be more aware of what I'm eating. You know, those messages from the universe? It's always nice when you have to wait to flicked on the head to wake up and smell the coffee and change your habits. I'm not saying I'll never bake cookies, or muffins... I'm just making some new habits too.

Muesli is extremely easy to make and I think it beats fast food and the local coffee hut hands down.

(You can find both ingredients at Sunflower market)

Combine and let sit for 5-10 minutes, then eat.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Oatmeal "Devil's Food" Cookies

It's Saturday morning. The sun is up. Food Network is on. Em's still asleep, and the dog is hanging out unsure if he wants to sleep or wait around and see if I drop anything while I'm cooking. What's on the menu at 9am? Devil's Food Oatmeal cookies, i.e. "Cake Mix Cookie #3"

Cake Mix Cookie #3

Yields about 2 dozen.
1 (9 oz.) pkg. yellow cake mix (or your favorite flavor)
2/3 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 egg
*1/2 cup chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, M&Ms (your preference)

* For a healthier cookie, substitute raisins in place of the chips.

Preheat oven to 375. In a mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, oatmeal, butter and egg. Stir in the chips. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately remove to wire racks to cool.

Recipe Source:

In the Test Kitchen: I used a devil's food cake, Guittard Vanilla milk chips, but the result alone wasn't so good. After coating the top of the cookies in powdered sugar THEN the "devil's food" chocolate flavor comes thru better for some reason.

Update: Won't be making these again. Not so good.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

I couldn't sleep so I decided to make some blueberry muffins for breakfast, good thing I'm fasting for a blood test, right? I was looking for the Turbinado Sugar for that yummy, crunchy pastry topping, but I couldn't remember what it was called... "Tarantino" sugar? I had to laugh, that would have been some extremely "edgy" sugar. (Not a Tarantino movie fan.) I found the "Sugar in the Raw" a.k.a. Turbinado sugar, grown in Maui, Hawaii, and all is happy in blueberry muffin land. Goofy, goofy, goofy.
From the package: "Premium Hawaiian Turbinado Sugar is made using 100% pure Hawaiian cane sugar. The natural molasses remaining in the crystals produces a distinctive taste, pleasing texture and natural golden color." Here's the recipe for Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins. Check out the Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins recipe too!

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 cups blueberries
Turbinado sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to wet ingredients alternately with the milk. Crush 1/2 C blueberries and mix into batter. Fold in remaining berries (whole). Scoop into prepared muffin tin and bake for 30 minutes (toothpick test). Cool for 30 minutes.

Recipe Source: The Diva of Dining

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Milk in Your Eggs?

My mom cooked scrambled eggs with milk, my husband's mom didn't... so I haven't made eggs with milk in a long time. Today on I got the base recipe for making a frittata, and yup there are eggs and milk coexisting happily together. So I went for it and made up my own frittata with what was in the kitchen... I'll let you know if it worked.

Cheese Frittata
Cookbook Bites: 2 Cheese Frittata
2 Cheese Frittata
6 eggs
1/3 c milk
1/2 c cheddar grated
1/3 c pepper-jack cheese
2 spoonfuls of salsa
pepper and salt to taste
2 dashes onion pwdr
2 T butter

Melt the butter in a pan in the oven. Mix the eggs and milk (whisk), then add all the other ingreds. Pour into the pan and bake at 375 until done. (about 35 min)

Source: Suzanne Nikolaisen

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Coffee Cake isn't Banana Bread...

Ripe bananas
I'm supposed to be baking banana bread, but there's a "Great Coffee Cake" actually a sour cream coffee cake in the oven. Shhhh, don't tell anybody. There's still a bunch of bananas (yes, the whole bunch) on my counter, speckled and totally ripe. Hmm, maybe we should make banana milkshakes?

Great Coffee Cake
The Breakfast Book, pg. 256

2 sticks butter
1 C sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 C flour
2 t baking pwdr
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 C sour cream

(Set oven to 350. Mix butter, sugar, eggs. Stir dry ingredients and mix with butter mixture. Add sour cream. Bake in greased & floured Bundt pan for 50 minutes or until done.)

Update: I didn't like this recipe. It was too rich. Em thought it was good.

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