Sunday, February 11, 2018


I don't work on the weekends. Well, I don't work at Starbucks or Home Depot. I do work at home, doing things like housecleaning or laundry. You know, the usual things. I used to work weekends. Almost every Saturday and Sunday. Then, two years ago, I had back surgery and while recovering I decided that when I went back to work it was only going to be Monday - Friday. I figured if my bosses valued me, they would take me whenever I was available. And, they did. So, I now work Monday thru Friday from 6AM to 4PM. That's at both jobs. 5 hours at Starbucks, an hour off and then 4 hours at Home Depot.

But, I digress. This post is supposed to be about brownies.

While scrolling through my Facebook feed a week or two ago, I stumbled across a link to Peanut Butter Cookie Brownies. The pictures looked amazing and I saved the link for a time when I could make them. That time was yesterday afternoon, after I finished making my Pineapple Upside-down cake.

The recipe for the brownies was actually two part. You made a brownie recipe, either a box version of your favorite brand, or in my case, a scratch recipe for brownies.

 Once that was made, I made the peanut butter cookie recipe. The recipe, that I will post at the end of this post, called for baking the brownies in a 9" pan. I wanted to surprise my Home Depot coworkers with them so I needed more than what a 9' pan would yield. I made them in a jelly roll pan.

Anyway, aside from the different pan, I basically followed "The Little Kitchen's" recipe.

These brownies are amazing! Super chewy, moist and delicious! I used King Arthur's black cocoa powder in place of dutch processed and it gave the brownies a darker, richer depth than regular dutch cocoa would have. I used Ghirardelli  bittersweet chocolate in the brownies. It's my favorite brand of chocolate.

Give these brownies a try. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Pineapple Upside Down Cake, in a cast iron skillet

I recently joined a group on Facebook called Cooking with Cast Iron. I own two Lodge cast iron skillets, one 10" and one 12". I hadn't been using them, haven forgotten about them. They were in the bottom of a cabinet, just waiting to be brought out into the light again.

So, after joining the group, I've been making an effort to use them. I've made many dinners in them. Pork Chops with Apples, Goulash, Tuscan Sausage and Peppers. The list goes on. However, I haven't done many sweet things in them.

A little back info to this post is that I work at Starbucks. I work with a bunch of really great people and I often bring in "tasty treats", as one coworker calls them, for the gang. I satisfy my baking urges and I don't have all those fattening things here in my house, with only me to eat them. :)

Friday one of my coworkers suggested Pineapple Upside-down Cake as a tasty treat for Monday. I realized that while I have made Peach Upside-down Cake (my Mom's recipe), I had never attempted a pineapple version. Challenge accepted. :) And, while I usually make my Mom's recipe in a cake pan, I decided to use my 12" cast iron pan instead.

The recipe was a simple one. Butter in the pan. Brown sugar on that. Pineapple slices over that.

 A quick batter mixed up and poured over top. I used the liquid from the pineapples for the liquid in the recipe and added a teaspoon of vanilla.

 Baked for about 25 minutes. I let it cool for about 5 minutes and them flipped it onto a cake circle as I have no plates large enough for a 12" cake.

It turned out very well. Delicious, actually. Edges have a little bite of bit to them. That crunchy kind of bite that comes from sugar caramelizing around the edges of a pan. Adding the pineapple juice as the liquid was a good move because it also added a little extra flavor. While I think I still prefer my Mom's peach version, this was pretty darned good. I think the crew at Starbucks will be happy come Monday morning.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

I've made some changes!

I used to post to this blog every week. I was part of several baking groups and loved reading other blogs, trying new recipes, taking pictures. Being part of a community.

The man I was married to made some negative comments about the time and money I was spending baking and blogging and I stopped. Stopped blogging. Stopped keeping in touch with friends I had made. Stopped a lot of things.

In April of 2016 I suddenly woke up so to speak and decided I no longer wished to be married to the man I had lived with and been married to for 26 years. I asked for a divorce. Moved out. In other words, I stopped. Stopped allowing someone else to control my feelings, my likes and dislikes, my time.

With my divorce settlement I bought a cute little single wide 3/10 of a mile from a beautiful lake (I can walk my kayak down to the boat launch) and started living again. My divorce was final January 30,2017.  I am now spending time with my children and grandchildren, without worrying about hurrying home or upsetting someone. I spend time with friends without hearing judgement about them. I travel when and where I want. Some of those things I did when I was married, but I was always worried he might get mad if I stayed too long, or remind me of whatever at a later date.

I wish I had done it years ago.

Of course, years ago I didn't feel like I did on that day in April when I decided I couldn't spend another 26 years being where I was. Years ago I was still trying to be a good wife and homemaker. I still loved my husband and wanted to do whatever to make him happy. Unfortunately, my husband didn't feel the same about his wife. But, it's all good. Things happen when they are supposed to happen. And, rather than look back and say I should have, I look forward and say what should I do today.

So, after what, 6 years away, I am back. I plan to post pictures of things I bake and things I cook. I plan to blog about trips I take and things I see and share pictures of those things. Because I want to. Because it will make me happy. And, because I have missed it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Off to Italy

Hello! I am sure you all thought I had fallen off the face of the earth. Not true! I have just been extremely busy working two jobs and baking an occasional cake here and there. I will post some pictures of those cakes in the near future. But I just wanted to post about my impending trip to Italy. Which I leave for tomorrow!

I, along with a very dear girlfriend, started planning for this trip almost a year ago. It started with me deciding to learn some Italian. From there we started talking about Italy and I decided to make it my "once a year I go someplace I have never gone before" trip. Since my best friend passed away 7 years ago my mantra has been "Live life to the fullest." each year I pick somewhere I have never been, either in this country or in another country, and spend a few days there. Last year I decided it would be Italy.

I asked around and was told if I could only go to one city in Italy it should be Venice. So, my trip started out being a couple of days in Venice. Then Kayla said, rather wistfully, that she would love to go to Italy one day. And me, being me, said why not next year with me?!

I started looking around at plane fare and hotel accommodations and began trying to put together a trip for us. Then I stumbled upon a web site called "European destinations". For the price of twice just the airfare, I was able to book us not just a couple of days but 12 days. And, not just to Venice, but Florence, Rome and Naples!! three days in each city, train fare between each city, hotels in each city (3&4 star!). And, now, about 10 months later, tomorrow we leave for Venice!! I still can't believe it, and probably won't until I walk off the plane at the Venice airport. Kayla has never traveled outside of the country so this is quite Exciting for her. And she is comforted about traveling with someone who has traveled to other countries (Japan, Ireland, and Germany) and been able to get around without getting (too) lost. :-)

So, I will try and update and post pictures for those followers who might still be out there and would enjoy seeing Italy through my eyes. Until later...arrivederci!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chocolate with Francois - Chocolate Tiramisu

I'm back! A day late (and a dollar short!) but I have a legitimate excuse for not posting yesterday. I was at Richmond International Raceway with my Mother-in-law, attending the NASCAR race. She and I attend both Richmond races and the May race in Charlotte. We have been doing it since 1994. No hubbies. Just her and me. We make a full day of it, tailgating, people watching, hanging out. I think she enjoys it more than I do, and that's just fine with me. So, that explains why I didn't post yesterday. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)

So, the April pick for CFW was Chocolate Tiramisu and Seattle Pastry Girl made it her pick. I don't know if I ever would have made it if she hadn't chosen it for April. I like Tiramisu. I made a Tiramisu cheesecake a while back. Just tried to find the post for it in my blog, but I guess I never blogged about it. :] I wish I had, and maybe I will one day. It's a great recipe and the cheesecake it made was fabulous. But, would I have chosen to make this recipe? I am not sure I would have. But, boy am I glad I did.

This was (is) a slightly complicated recipe. You have to make a ganache, a cake and a mousse. Then you have to put those three components together.

The ganache was pretty easy. Chop up some bitter-sweet chocolate, add some mascarpone cheese, and pour some boiled cream over and stir till the chocolate melts. I reread the recipe to see if it said "finely" chopped, when the chocolate that I just "chopped" didn't melt. But, no, I read it right. I ended up setting my bowl of clumpy, lumpy chocolate/cream/mascarpone on my burner which I set at low and stirred the mixture until it melted. Once it cooled down I tried it and found it to be most excellent!

I started on the cake next. After tasting the ganache again to make sure it was still okay. I am lucky enough to have two mixers so I was able to have the yolks and sugar mixing in one bowl while I whipped the whites in another bowl. The cake baked up in the 10 minutes recommended and was set aside to cool.

Making the mousse was a real test of muscle power for my arms. It took all of the 5 minutes, if not more, to first get the mixture of egg yolks and sugar hot and thick and then to get it cooled off, all while whisking it constantly, except when I stopped to check the ganache.

After tasting the ganache again I gathered all the components for the tiramisu to begin putting it together. Francois called for using a 1 or 1 1/2 quart bowl to assemble the tiramisu. I looked at my 1 1/2 quart bowl then tasted the ganache the amount of mousse, cake and ganache that I tasted again that I had on hand and decided to go with the largest bowl I had. Good thing too because more ganache it would have been far too much for a smaller bowl. More ganache Once I had ganache everything ready it took no time at all to assemble it.

I brew my coffee on the strong side but still added some Via to the coffee. I wanted to be sure that the coffee flavor was strong and didn't get lost in the cake and mousse and mmmm ganache. Once the tiramisu was assembled licked the bowl the ganache was in I covered it in plastic and put it in the fridge to cool.

I was pretty sure that I would like it. I wasn't sure about the hubby. He isn't a big coffee person and sometimes textures are an issue with him. I thought he might find the coffee soaked cake a turn-off. However, I worried for nothing. He said it was really, really good. In fact, he went so far as to say he thought it was one of the best recipes I have made from Chocolate Epiphany. The bowl I used, the large size of the Pyrex mixing bowl set I have, to assemble the tiramisu in? It was empty by the third day. Gone! All of it! I work most nights and without me here to portion control the serving sizes the hubby fixed much larger servings than I do and each night I got home, more and more of the tiramisu was gone. I think I might have gotten 1/4 of the amount there was, with the hubby eating all the rest. He asked me yesterday when I was going to make that Chocolate cake/pudding thing I made a couple of weeks ago. Men!

So, my advice to you is make this recipe. Seattle Pastry Girl has it posted on her blog. It the ganache is well worth the effort and dirty dishes it takes to make it. Fabulous dessert. Impressive dessert. Ganache filled dessert. Need I say more. :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A day off - Vegetarian Lasagna - Orange Scented Chocolate Cheesecake

Hey there. Hi there. Ho there. It's me. Thought I would drop in and say hi to any followers who might still be following me. :)

I had a day off today. A day off  from my house cleaning business and a day off from Starbucks. That meant I could sleep in and play in my kitchen. Playing in my kitchen makes me happy. In fact, playing in my kitchen makes me very happy. I knew ahead of time that I would have today off and had chosen a couple of recipes I wanted to try. One was for my Chocolate with Francois group and the other one was a practice run of an all vegetable lasagna. My beautiful daughter-in-law, who is pregnant with my first grand-child, is a Vegetarian. I am getting together next week with her and my son, my daughter and her hubby and we are going to have dinner together and play Quelf, a really fun board game. It will probably be the last time we can all get together before Baby Gulla is born. I plan on baking a pan of the vegetable lasagna and putting it in the freezer so that Sean and Katey have something they can just heat up and eat when they come home from the hospital with the baby. At least one night they won't have to worry about cooking dinner. :)

So, today I decided I would make a vegetable lasagna that I had come across a recipe for. It's from Italian Food Forever and it sounded easy and yummy. I even made the home-made sauce she links to. I used my submersible blender so that there wouldn't be chunks of tomatoes but kept to the basic sauce recipe.

I also bought my lasagna noodles. I do have a pasta roller, but I use it for my cake decorating business. Besides, I was more interested in what was going between the noodles rather than the noodles themselves. The recipe suggests using eggplant, roasted red peppers, fennel, and onions. I could not find fennel anywhere (and should confess here that I wouldn't know fennel if I bumped into it) so I decided to go with zucchini, eggplant, red peppers and onion. Knowing my hubby and his "it has to have meat or it isn't dinner" attitude, I bought some "Gimme Lean" sausage style veggie protein. I know, it isn't meat, but, I wanted to see if he would even notice.

I also cheated by buying roasted red peppers in a jar. I could have roasted some, but, I don't have a gas stove, it's electric. I do have a gas grill, but hated to crank it up to roast three red peppers. Thus, the jar of already roasted peppers.

I made the sauce first. It was super easy. Heat up some oil, drop in some minced garlic, pour in diced Italian style tomatoes, bring to a boil, lower heat, add salt and pepper and fresh chopped basil. And, any other spices or seasoning you would like. Super easy and really good.

I worked on the veggies next. Sliced the eggplant, brushed it with olive oil and grilled it under the broiler. Sauteed the onions till they were soft and light brown. Sliced the zucchini and sauteed that up. Fried the "sausage". Drained the roasted red peppers. Once I had all the ingredients cooked and on separate plates I began to assemble the lasagna.

A little sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. A layer of noodles. A little more sauce. Some "sausage", cheese and eggplant. Cover with noodles. Sauce. "Sausage". Cheese. Roasted red peppers. Noodles. Sauce. "Sausage". Cheese. Onion. Final layer noodles, sauce, "sausage", cheese, zucchini. Last layer of noodles, a little more sauce and a good amount of cheese. Covered the whole thing with foil and put it in a 375 degree oven and baked it for 45 minutes. The recipe on Italian Food Forever doesn't call for covering the dish with foil and it bakes for a shorter time, but I think that's because the noodles are fresh made rather than boxed.

The lasagna smelled fabulous while it was baking and looked wonderful when I took it out of the oven. I let it set for about 20 minutes before cutting and plating it.

I loved it!! So many flavors blending together. It was not greasy or overly heavy like some lasagnas can be. The vegetables were soft but not mushy. There was just enough sauce, not overpowering the dish or drowning the noodles, but just enough to enhance the flavors of the veggies and bind the noodles, cheese and veggies together. What was even better was that the hubby also loved it! At one point he asked about the ingredients, wanted to know if it was all veggies, besides the sausage. It was then that I told him the truth about the "sausage". He shrugged and kept eating. Success!!

Even if you aren't a Vegetarian, you should try this lasagna. Trust me when I say you won't miss the meat that's not in it. Or the ricotta cheese that's not in it. Or the eggs. Just roast or grill some veggies. Layer them with some shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. A little sauce and you are good to go. :)

In the title of this post I mention an Orange Scented Chocolate Cheesecake. That recipe is from my CWF group and it is my pick for the month of June. According to the rules of our group, I am afraid I can't post my review until the 30th of June. But, trust me (again) when I say you need to come back at the end of June and get the recipe for it. Wonderful! Light yet rich. Orange and chocolate flavors blending together. A tender, sandy, sable' crust. The cheesecake baked up tall and beautiful. I really liked it. The hubby thought it was okay. He said I have made better cheesecakes before. However, he is not a big orange/chocolate combination fan. Guess you will have the try the recipe and decide for yourself.

I will be back on the 30th of this month, if not before, to post the latest CWF review...Chocolate Tiramisu. This was unbelievably delicious! I kid you not when I say that the 11/2 quart bowl I made lasted just over two days. And, there were only two of us here to eat it. :] You can find that recipe at Seattle Pastry Girl's blog. It's worth the effort. Trust me. :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rewind - Tuesdays with Dorie - "Tarte Noire"

I recently posted a picture of this tart on Tumblr and as of now, only 8 hours later, it has been re-blogged over 100 times. So, I thought I would re-post the original post, with the recipe, for anyone who might have missed it the first time. This is a Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, from her book "Baking, from my home to yours". If you could only have one baking cookbook, this is the one to have.
Hello again! I hope that this finds everyone well and rested after a big holiday weekend. Did you have a cookout? Did you watch a fireworks show? Did you spend time with friends and family? I did all of that and also played in the pool, slept late, and, made one of the best desserts I have made in a long time. What dessert would that be you ask? It was this weeks TWD choice, Tarte Noire, that Dharmagirl of bliss: towards a delicious life picked.  If she lived closer I would visit her so I could kiss her for choosing such a fabulous recipe. Well, I probably wouldn't kiss her, but I would definitely hug her or shake her hand or something. This may be my favorite recipe so far. I kid you not. Please drop by Dharmagirl's blog and get the recipe. You won't be sorry.

We had my hubby's best friend come and stay with us for the weekend. He arrived on Saturday and settled in for the festivities. We cooked steaks on the grill...nice juicy rib-eyes. Some corn and some baked fries rounded out the meal. We went out in the field after dinner and had our own little fireworks show. My hubby set off the fireworks while I snapped photos and the hubby's best friend shot video.

The guys hopped in the pool after the fireworks show and floated around for a while. I was a bit too cool for me to get in the water. Then, before bed, I served the two of them a slice of the Tarte Noire. They loved it! They both scarfed it down in what seemed like seconds, and all but licked the plates clean. I like it when something I make brings such a satisfied expression to my hubby's face, not to mention his friend's face(who, after all these years, is also my friend).

I put this recipe together in no time early Saturday morning. I decided to make the chocolate shortbread crust and it came together quickly and perfectly in my food processor. I baked it after letting it sit in the freezer for 30 minutes. When I pulled it from the oven, to cool before adding the ganache, I got the brilliant idea to cover the bottom of the crust with a thin layer of caramel! I thought about nuts, but decided to just go with the caramel.

The ganache came together as easily as the crust, becoming this dark, shiny, smooth bowl of deliciousness. :) I used a combination of bitter-sweet and semi-sweet chocolate and poured it over the caramel in the crust. Put the tarte in the fridge for 30 minutes to set up and then sliced a piece for myself  a picture. Yeah, that's it. For a picture. :)

I also tasted it, just to see if it was okay before serving it to the guys later that night. Couldn't serve them something I hadn't checked was edible, right? The ganache was silky smooth and  so creamy. Not too sweet. Rich and delicious! The caramel underneath was a perfect touch, adding just a little sweetness and texture to the chocolate. And, the crust? Crunchy, tender, buttery, chocolate-y, and perfect against the creamy chocolate and chewy caramel. With as easy as this was to put together, I can see making it again and again. I wonder if you could do a white chocolate version. Almonds would be wonderful in this too. Maybe in the crust. Of course, it was fabulous just as I did it, and I would certainly make it the same again.

So, a really big, BIG thanks to Dharmagirl for this weeks pick. Just awesome! And, check out what the others thought of it by clicking here. :)