Monthly Archives: March 2013

White Chocolate Coconut Easter Cakes

I don’t generally bake things that are lovely. I bake well, but in a rustic way. But lately, I’ve had a fascination with homemade fondant and came across this recipe on . It’s made with marshmallows and Johanna made it look so darn easy, I had to try. And I thought Easter would be a great time to make some cute little petitfore type cakes. These are a little bigger than regular petitfores, to accomodate the toppers and the capacity of my tween and teen sons to put away treats!

As you can see, the cake is a bit lumpy, but I assure you, the taste is fantastic! I did take a cake short cut and use a cake mix, but you don’t have to. I also substituted plain yogurt for the oil. If you do this, please be sure your pan is very well coated with cooking spray or the old butter and flour combination. Without the extra fat, the cake will want to stay in the pan.

White Chocolate Coconut Easter Cakes
1 box cake mix (I used Yellow Betty Crocker)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup white chocolate chips

Marshmallow Fondant
1 bag mini marshmallows
1-2 TBSP water
2 lb bag confectioners (powdered) sugar

1. Prepare the cake mix according to the directions on the box.
2. Bake in a rectangular pan for the allotted time (35-38 minutes for my mix).
3. Prepare the marshmallow fondant according to Johanna’s directions. I’m sorry for all the clicking around, but I don’t want to mess up and leave anything out! And once you get to her page, you’ll see that she is clearly gifted in this area in a way I am not!
4. Roll out your prepared fondant on a piece of parchment paper dusted with powdered sugar. You are playing with melty marshmallows and sugar. It’s sticky. It’s also a bit more difficult to roll than cookie dough. Be patient. If you’re making toppers, cut them now. I used smallish cookie cutters to cut little chicks and tulips for my toppers.
5. When the cake is done, allow it to cool and remove it from the pan onto a cutting surface.
6. Cut your cake into the size pieces you want. Get them as even as possible. If your pan has rounded corners, square off the end pieces. My cake pieces were roughly 2″ by 3″ by 1″ high.
7. Okay now this is where you have to do some math. Measure your fondant so that you have enough to cover both the top and the sides with one piece. If you’re insanely clever, you will cut an irregular shape that looks like a rectangle with the four corners missing. I am not that clever. I may be the next time I do this. I cut a 3″ by 4″ piece.
8. Gently lay the fondant over the top of the piece of cake. Then pick it up from the top and turn it over so you can start smoothing it so that you don’t have big clumps in the corners.
9. If you have a little topper, put a little water on the back of it and center it as well as you can on top of your little cake.

This was a bit fussy for me. It took 90 minutes. Next time, I will remember to:

  • Spray my pan better
  • Dust the parchment with powdered sugar before rolling the fondant
  • Be patient and let my cake cool longer in the pan so my pieces aren’t so lumpy
  • Ban all humans and dogs from the work space
I’m pretty excited for my family to see these. They’re used to tasty treats, but I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s not perfect, but I decided to go ahead and post in anyway. I am not Martha Stewart. But I want to show my kids that you can try new things and be proud of the result, even if it isn’t perfect.
I hope you’ll try these too! Enjoy!

Egg Drop Soup

I don’t know that I’ve actually ever had Egg Drop Soup so I really don’t know why I had a sudden need to make Egg Drop Soup. I just seemed so interesting. The thickened broth; the threads of egg, the green onion and ginger. Tantalizing! Plus, my stomach has been upset for a few days and I thought this would be a nice soothing meal for my tender tummy.

This soup required a pit stop at the grocery store on the way home for corn starch, green onions, and a couple other things. I got distracted by a friend. I decided to buy lottery tickets. I had to go see my neighbor’s new tiny dogs. So now, here I am, ready to share this very delicious soup with you. This is a bit fussy. Evidently you can have issues if you add the corn starch after the egg or switch directions while stirring in the egg or add it to fast. So don’t do those things.

Egg Drop Soup
1 quart chicken broth (1/4 cup reserved)
2 or more TBSP corn starch
2 eggs, beaten
1 TBSP soy sauce
1/2 tsp ginger
3 chopped green onions
4 ounces canned mushrooms
4 ounces sliced water chestnuts

1. Bring the chicken broth (minus the 1/4 cup), soy sauce and ginger to a boil.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the 1/4 cup of broth with the corn starch until the corn starch is dissolved.
3. When the broth has come to a boil, slowly add the corn starch and broth combination, stirring while you do. The broth should start to get a little thick.
4. Lower the heat to simmer and slowly, stirring the whole time IN ONE DIRECTION, add the beaten eggs. As the enter the broth they will cook and form these pretty little feathery threads. I kept stirring for a minute to make sure the eggs weren’t clumpy. They won’t be if you’re slow and gentle.
5. Add the green onions, mushrooms and water chestnuts and heat through.

Serve immediately.

I took some to my neighbor with the two new tiny dogs. She has been been everywhere and done everything. She tasted it and immediately declared it better than any she’s had in any Chinese restaurant anywhere.

Not too bad for a first effort.


Creamy Curried Chicken Soup

A friend at work told me his partner has been making creamy soups using pureed cashews. No one in my house has any dairy intolerance but I thought it would be interesting to try this. It took me a few days to come up with the right flavor combinations. I saw a few recipes for Squash soups with cashews, but I have to admit that I’m not a big squash soup fan.

I love Indian food and one of my favorite dishes is Chicken Korma which includes cashews, chicken, garlic and a few other ingredients. This seemed like the perfect thing to try as a soup with the cashew puree.

I decided that the mellow garlic flavor of roasted garlic would be a good compliment to the cashews too. So allow me to present:

Creamy Curried Chicken Soup
2 chicken breasts, chopped and sautéed
1 bulb of garlic, separated into cloves and roasted in 2 TBSP of olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp or more curry powder
2 quarts broth
2/3 cup pureed cashews
3 potatoes, chopped
2 cups steamed cauliflower florets

1. Place the garlic (unpeeled) in an oven safe dish covered with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 375.
2. Saute the chicken and onions on medium heat until chicken is done.
3. Add curry and stir well.
4. Puree the cashews in a little bit of broth – maybe 1/4 cup until smooth.
5. Pour broth into a slow cooker. Add cashew puree and stir until incorporated.
6. When garlic is done, carefully push roasted garlic out of the peel and puree it too. You can add a bit of the broth if you don’t have anything tiny to puree in. Add it to the slow cooker with the broth and pureed cashews.
7. Add the chicken and onions to the broth. Cook on low for 5-6 hours.
8. Add the chopped potatoes and cook for another hour.
9. Serve over steamed cauliflower.

I didn’t go crazy with the curry in this soup. I would have liked more, but I wanted to make it mild enough for everyone in my house to enjoy. Feel free to add more curry or some sort of chili or even cayenne pepper. You can also add a bit of ginger. If the soup is too thin for you, you can add more cashews. I decided that, rather than add more cashews, I would add the potatoes and cauliflower.

From what I can see online, many people who favor a Paleo diet like to use pureed cashews in place of dairy. The soup did have a nice creamy flavor. I’ll definitely explore more ways to use pureed cashews in future recipes. Let me know what you think of this! It would be very easy to turn into a vegan vegetable curry soup by using a vegetable broth and skipping the chicken.


Irish Guinness and Meat Pie

I don’t know if meat pie has any true Irish origins or not. It appears that any time you throw Guinness in something, though, it becomes Irish. So, since I put Guinness in my meat pie, I present you with Irish Guinness and Meat Pie.

Friday is often a carry out night in our home. But I will be busy most of tomorrow. I thought I better get something posted for St. Patrick’s Day tonight, so no pizza.

My food grinder was an important part of my preparation of this dish. I wanted to combine chicken with some sausage that I had, and I wanted to have a smooth filling. So the chicken, onion and fennel went into the grinder.

Irish Guinness and Meat Pie
2 chicken breasts, either ground or finely chopped. Ground turkey would work, too
1 lb sausage
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fennel
1 TSP total thyme, basil, fennel sage and lavender
4-6 ounces of Guinness – any beer will do if you don’t like Guinness
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar
1 prepared pie crust

1. Saute onion and fennel in olive oil on medium heat for about ten minutes until fennel starts to get soft.
2. Add meat and seasonings and cook until done, about 15-20 minutes
3. Add the beer and flour. Stir until things start getting pasty. If it’s too wet, allow to cook down for about 10 minutes. Stay close and stir. You don’t want it to stick to the pan and get burned.
4. Add cheese and stir until incorporated.
5. Put one pie crust in the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate.
6. Pour in meat mixture. Top with the other pie crust and fold in the edges, pinching it together as you go around.
7. Bake for 35-45 minutes at 375 until the crust is nice and golden brown.
8. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

This was a very satisfying meal. It had sneaky vegetables which satisfied my need as a parent to give my kids a balanced meal. It had protein and dairy all in a beautiful golden crust that someone else prepared! Satisfaction, you see, can come in many forms.

I’m glad I skipped the carrots, celery and potatoes that were in most of the recipes I reviewed for inspiration. When I make this again, I will probably add more veggies. Leaks would be good. (Do you find my desire to add leaks shocking?) Celery would also be nice and I would even venture to add some grated parsnip or turnip.

This is another very versatile recipe that you can modify in a ton of ways. The only thing to watch out for is that the filling is not too runny.


Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce: Crazy Sexy Pasta – The Sequel

Saturday is now officially sausage making day in my house. But this does create a bit of pressure for me to figure out new and innovative ways to use the sausage. 

I’ve seen a lot of recipes for spaghetti and meatballs this week and I was tempted to make that with my sausage. However traditional tomato or marinara sauce is a hard “NO” on one food list so that was out. I considered Swedish meatballs or Stroganoff but I didn’t have key ingredients so those were both out as well.   

I wanted to make pasta so I looked around my kitchen to see what I had for ingredients and found tomato paste, basil, white wine and half and half. 

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce or Crazy Sexy Pasta: The Sequel

1 lb sausage

1/2 chopped onion
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
3 oz tomato paste
1 to 1 1/2 cups half and half
Basil( 1/2 tsp dry, 1 tsp chopped fresh)
1/3 cup Parmesan 
Dash of white wine or vodka
1 lb prepared pasta (I used Gemelli)

1. Sauté sausage, onion, and garlic in olive oil on medium heat until the sausage is cooked. 
2. Add the tomato paste and stir around so it’s not all in a big clump.  
3. Add the half and half. Start with one cup and mix until all the tomato paste is incorporated. 
4. Reduce heat and allow to thicken a bit. You can add more half and half if your sauce is getting too thick. 
5. Add the basil and Parmesan and a dash of white wine or vodka. Don’t put in more than 1/4 cup of booze. You don’t want your sauce to get too thin. You just want enough to get the flavor of the wine (or vodka).
6. Toss into prepared pasta. In other words, cook the pasta first. :)

I normally would have wiped the edges of my bowl and made more of an effort to conceal the chip that you see in the upper left part of the picture. But SOMEONE had the audacity to start to eat his food BEFORE I got the picture. And then there was a lot of commotion about just letting people eat and do we have to go through this EVERY night?

I could see tossing something green in this dish. It would really add to the appearance. The flavor was great, though! And I like the gentle orange color of the dish.