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Preview: apples peaches pumpkin pie

apples peaches pumpkin pie

elevating my cooking skills.....

Updated: 2017-08-27T13:15:28.160-04:00


Little Polish Diner Cleveland


Since the new year, we have been somewhat skipping the bakery visits and having lunch Saturdays at some of Cleveland's classic restaurants. I have not posted as of yet, but will start today. These places are classics for a reason! Laura Taxel's book Cleveland's Ethnic Eats has been a wealth of information. along with word of mouth.This afternoon we hit Little Polish Diner at 5772 Ridge Rd. in Parma. It is a very small, bright place with only about 8 tables. The special today was one of my favorites, Chicken Paprikas (with a side of cucumber salad), which I ordered and DH ordered the Polish Sampler (1 Large stuffed cabbage, smoked keilbasa with sauerkraut, 2 potato cheese pierogies and green beans).The paprikas was very good, and came with spaetzle. The only thing keeping it from being better for me was that it came with white meat chicken and I prefer dark meat. For me, there was enough for 2 meals.DH enjoyed his galumpki and the pierogies very much, but thought the keilbasa was a bit overcooked, but still tasty. For more information, here is an article from the Parma Sun Post[...]

Great Cleveland Bakery Hop- Tommy's Pastries



My goodness- where does the time go?! I have been trying to behave myself in the sweet dept, so haven't baked much, since it's only me and husband. I have made this wonderful Apple Cake from the Culinate site quite a few times for different functions, it definitely a keeper.

Anyhoo, one thing we have been doing is visiting bakeries in the Cleveland (mostly west) area. My MIL bought me Laura Taxel's great Cleveland-centric book Ethnic Eats, and we are working our way through town looking for great places to snag some goodies. We have been to a few, but I realized I am never gonna keep these straight, so I better post!
First up, Tommy's Pastries 14205 Madison Ave., Cleveland, OH. The outside is nothing special; we park around the corner, cuz there was no space in front, and as soon as we rounded te corner, the smell we could smell the fresh baked bread. Inside there was one customer, conversing in Hungarian to the young counter clerk, who left with a giant bag full. While we waited for her to pick her items. we had time to choose.
I picked the cheese danish, DH the raspberry. They looked like they would be hard and somewhat heavy, but happily, they were very light, soft yet flaky. We bought some of the Hungarian white bread that was baking. It was so fresh from the oven, that it kept me warm on the ride home! I opened the bag so the steam wouldn't affect the crusty bread, and when we got home, I let it sit on the counter until it cooled.
We also picked a cheese biscuit and some cheese sticks- plain and with caraway. The biscuit we quickly shared in the car, light, flaky and soon gone. These would be great with a dinner, slightly warmed. The cheese sticks were excellent, especially the ones with caraway. These also would be great with soup or stew or a dinner. Or on their own as a snack.

Caramel Expresso Cheesecake Daring Bakers


The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. This cheesecake recipe is a very basic recipe, which allows for a million different variations. You can find Jenny here.I haven't made a cheesecake in a few years- it's one of those things that I like, but hardly ever make. Could be the whopping calorie count!(I wish the calories were as small as my pics-@#$%^!!- the looked fine on my camera settings. When I downloaded they were too big and insisted on being resized smaller. But they got fuzzy when I tried to make them bigger.Hence the funky looking pictures.)My version is a pretzel crusted, expresso cheesecake, topped by creamy homemade caramel. The recipe was pretty easy.My water bath did not leak like some others warned. I have to say though that the batter is REALLY runny, (we were warned) but it does firm up nicely. My pretzel crust is good- I have made before in pretzel salad- but here it wasn't as crisp as I would have liked. Maybe because it's baked again with the creamy part on?The basic recipe for the cheesecake is pretty neutral and could be adapted to savory recipes if you want to go that route. I added a double shot of expresso to mine, and if I hadn't topped with the caramel, the cheesy part alone is not very sweet.To find out about Daring Bakers click here. Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:crust:2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar1 tsp. vanilla extractI used 2 cups crushed pretzel sticks, 1 stick butter, 3 TBL sugar instead. I prebaked for 10 min @400. cheesecake:3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature1 cup / 210 g sugar3 large eggs1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream1 tbsp. lemon juice1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake.I added a double shot of expresso and cut back slightly on the cream. DIRECTIONS:1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath. 2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside. No prebaking necessary if using Abbey's graham crust. 3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy. 4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water. 5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.Caramel:2 sticks butter, 2 ¾ c. brown sugar, 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup light corn syrup, 1 pinch salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Spray (lightly) a cookie sheet with non-stick spray. In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, sweetened condensed milk, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Heat[...]

White Chocolate Coconut Cookies


When I was little, I was always happy when Easter would come, because my basket always contained lots of chocolate. The candy of my childhood was from a company called Faroh's- their chocolate is like no other. I think maybe there is only one store left in the Cleveland area. They have the most awesome Easter eggs, my mom would get me a giant milk chocolate one with a caramel nougat swirl center. Easter was also one of the few times I would get anything made of white chocolate, which I love.
Anyway, yesterday I made these cookies. The recipe is from Nestles. If you like white chocolate, this is a great recipe! As a matter of fact, this may be one of my all time favorites! The coconut flavor is not real strong, it just enhances the flavor of the chocolate. I skipped the nuts, only because I didn't feel like chopping any......
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Premier White Morsels
  • 1 cup flaked coconut, toasted if desired
  • 3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts or walnuts
PREHEAT oven to 375° F. (10 x 15 jelly roll pan if making bars)
COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels, coconut and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 8 to 11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Daring Bakers Valentino


The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.February’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. Recipe comes from "Sweet Treats by Chef Wan."Okay- now that I have the technicalities out of the way I can tell you that this was a super easy cake to make for a busy day! And also worth the effort (just follow directions exactly). I never would have thought that 3 little ingredients would produce such a tasty cake! I did only make 1/4 of the recipe as we are always watching our weight around here. I used a Nestle Dark Chocolatier bar that I had waiting in the drawer, and it made for a great taste. And I skipped the ice cream part and would top with a bourbon vanilla whipped cream.I have been a proud member of Daring Bakers for a year now. This is such a awesome, talented, fun group and I have been encouraged to make things I would normally shy away from because they looked too difficult. You really don't need to be experienced to join- you will learn as you go- and you have the backup expertise of over 1000 bakers! Have a question? Just ask in in one of the forums and someone will soon be there to help you with the answer. For info about joining, stop by the Kitchen.Visit our gracious hosts blogs - Wendy at A Charmed Life (Arizona) and Dharm at Dad - Baker and Chef (Malaysia)- for the entire recipe, including the ice cream. Visit more of the Daring Bakers blogroll for some fantastic looking cakes!Chocolate ValentinoPreparation Time: 20 minutes16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter5 large eggs separated1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.[...]

Blackberry Cake


At our previous house, we had planted a lot of fruit trees and berry bushes. I have to say, of all the fruit we had, by far the blackberries were the easiest to maintain. We had blackberries- both thorned and thornless varieties. The thorned bushes were slightly tart, but so evil to pick because of the thorns, I decided they were my husband's, so I wouldn't have to go near them. He liked them better anyway!
The thornless variety we had were sweeter and were much easier to pick. And for some reason the birds and the bees did not bother the blackberries like they did our other fruit.
The home we have now has pretty much all shade, so we do miss having our own fruit. So I haven't made this cake in awhile. But it is one of my husband's favorite cakes.
The icing seems to be an unusual choice given the cake, but the flavor it gives the spicy cake is just right!

West Virginia Blackberry Cake
2 C. sugar
1 C. softened butter
4 eggs
3 C. flour
1 t. each ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 C. buttermilk
1 1/2 C. fresh blackberries
Cream sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat eggs and add to creamed mixture, beating well.
Combine flour, spices, baking soda and baking powder; whisk well. Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, in three additions each, beating until smooth. Fold in berries.
Pour batter into three greased and floured, 8-inch-round layer pans. Bake at 350°F. for 30 minutes, or until the top springs back when gently touched. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks. Stack layers, filling and frosting with icing.

1 1/2 C. softened butter
1 1/2 lb. powdered sugar
2 t. vanilla
5 to 8 T. cold coffee

Combine ingredients and beat until smooth, adding coffee a little at a time to achieve a spreading consistency

True Delights-Product Sample


Being a member of Foodbuzz has many rewards. I have received some great gifts from them for being a featured publisher and now my first product sample.
New to the market, Quaker True Delights are the next level of granola bars. With flavors like Honey roasted cashew mixed berry; Toasted coconut banana macadamia nut and Dark chocolate raspberry almond, you know your biting into something extra special.
These bars are a great low calorie snack, have no trans fat and are cholesterol free. My personal favorite is the Banana one.
Get your own free sample and then go check out all the great foodie info at Foodbuzz.

Great Giveaway!


The awesome Rose at All About Cakes has a wonderful giveaway of a 200 pc cake decorating kit in honor of her 100th post. Check out her fabulous blog- you will find many great cakes recipes and tips from this professional cake decorator. Y'all know I can't resist making new cakes!

Cinnamon Almonds



A few years ago, when the nearby Costco opened, they used to sell jars of Cinnamon Almonds that my husband went crazy for. For two years they would have them as a seasonal item around Christmas time.
Then, the unthinkable happened....the Christmas items came in and cinnamon almonds. Every time we would go to Costco my dear husband would say "I'm feeling lucky," but we would look and there would be no nuts.
Then, last year the nut people started to bring a "road show" twice a year and sell their spiced nuts, albeit at a higher price and in smaller jar.
Last week, while looking for seasonal recipes, I came across one from AllRecipes that looked promising. So that being the basis, I tweaked it a little and baked us some Cinnamon Almonds. This recipe was really good, extremely easy and great for gift giving.

Cinnamon Almonds
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups whole almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
scant 1/2 teaspoon popcorn salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Foil and grease 2 10x15 inch jellyroll pans.
  2. Lightly beat the egg white; add vanilla, and beat until almost 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 pans.
  3. Bake for 1 1/2 hour in the preheated oven, stirring evry 20 min., until dry and toasted. Allow to cool, then store in airtight containers.

Daring Baker's Caramel Cake


Daring Bakers recipe this month is Caramel Cake from Shuna Fish Lydon's blog Eggbeater.Our hosts for the month - Dolores the host ( with co-hosts Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo:, Jenny of Foray into Food ( Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go ( will assist those who are alternative bakers.Loved Loved Loved this cake! It is the perfect cake! Just the right amount of caramel in the cake and the icing, which is a Caramelized Butter Icing. Just thinking about it makes me drool!The caramel syrup gave me a problem on the first batch, so that got dumped because I cooked it a tad too long and it burnt.Hey! It said dark amber!!! Mine was a lil' too dark. Oh well, it was only sugar and water. Second try was fine!Our extra challenge was to make Caramels with golden syrup. I used another recipe I have and will post that one another time. I couldn't help but drizzle caramel all over the cake!All in all I will make this very dense cake again![...]

Foodie Blogroll Winner!


Wow, despite my lack of blogging for the past few weeks (whoa! how time flies!) I am a winner in this weeks giveaway at the Foodie Blogroll! Thanks Jenn!

Here is a link to the contests page at the Foodie website. Browse around the rest of the site, too, and check out all the great happenings!

TTYL- I'm gonna go buy a lottery ticket.....

Blogging By Mail is Awesome!


I have been waiting, watching the Happy Sorceress' blog Dispensing Happiness for the event Blogging by Mail to come around again. I had never participated before and it seemed like a fun thing to do. So sure enough I joined in this time and received a fantastic package of goodies from Betsy of Food4Five.
10 wonderful items sent from CA- here they are....
The Bread and Chocolate Cookbook by Fran Gage- can't wait to try some of the recipes! A fine addition to my collection of cookbooks!
ScharfenBergen Chocolate- 1 baking, 1 10th Anniversary bar! Oh my!
Michael Mischer Chocolate w/ cherries bar- An San Fran artisanal bar!
Dried Blenheim Apricots- I haven't had apricots this wonderful for a long time. I love them as an appetizer with a small piece of Saga blue cheese on top!
Raw pistachios! Can't wait to add these to my holiday baking!
Asian Pear& Ginger conserve from Eating with the Seasons. Crack that baby open!
A hemp grocery bag also from Eating with the Seasons. So light, it's going right in my purse.
A beautiful blue leaf pottery dish, fits right into my decor!
Finally Clove Soap from Hawaii. I want to take this soap to bed and stick it under my pillow!!! The smell is heavenly! When I opened the box, the scent hit me and oh, man, it's incredible! I am such a dork- I took the wrapping paper it was in with me to smell in the car since I had to run errands right after I opened my box!!! I wish they had scratch n sniff and I could share!
What a fun exchange! Thanks Betsy! And thanks to Stephanie, the Happy Sorceress, for hosting the event!
My box went to Dagmar in Sweden.

Daring Bakers Do Pizza!


Dear blogger- quit reducing my pics.....I was thrilled to find that the DB challenge this month was to make pizza. It's always a fun time waiting for the beginning of the month to see what surprise recipe the Daring Baker host of the month has in store for us.Our host this month is Rosa over in Switzerland, host of Rosa's Yummy Yums. The recipe is “Pizza Napoletana” from Peter Reinhart's “The Bread Baker's Apprentice”. This is the first time I have baked a Reinhart recipe.I have been looking for the perfect crust for years. One that is tender, but slighty chewy, and has a good yeasty taste. I haven't made pizza since last winter and now is a good time to get back into it.And we were asked to really get into it and toss our pizzas like a real pizza maker.So into my kitchen I go and mix my dough together the night before. Have I mentioned - I LOVE my Kitchen Aid??! The last time I made pizza, I was using a hand held mixer. The kitchenaid makes everything so much easier! Then into the fridge my dough went.The next day came the real test. Forming the crust is always the hardest part for me.Usually I try to roll it out. But Rosa asked us to try to toss it with the knowledge that it will make it more tender. My dough seemed the right texture, so I floured up my hands and tried to toss like this. UH HUH..... I guess the key is getting the hands to move in a slightly rotating motion with the dough. It took a while, but by the 3rd try I was getting a little better at it. Still couldn't really toss it in the air though. I ended up kinda stretching/patting into the shape I wanted.I made 3 pies this time and put half the dough in the freezer for another day.One was tomato sauce w/cheese, one w/pepperoni, and mine was w/onion, mushrooms and black olives.The sauce tasted sooo good on its own- baked on the pie- it lost the flavor. I will have to add a little more garlic, basil and parmesan next time, so I will post the sauce recipe when it is perfected. I will tell you the base was 1 small can of tomato paste and one 15 oz can of italian diced tomatoes. It was a great thick texture, so I will figure out the spices later.The crust- well lets's just say I will keep looking. It certainly may be me, but it wasn't quite the taste I was looking for. The texture was not bad though.You can find the recipe at Rosa's blog. You can connect to the Daring Bakers site by clicking their logo on the right.[...]

Apple Cupcakes w/ Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting


Yes, I know! Judging from the title of this blog, an apple recipe is long overdue! So to honor the fall season I made these cupcakes. The cake is moist and has a great apple taste. The icing comes from this recipe. I have used it with other cakes and it is always a winner. (NOTE to Blogger- uhh whats up with the tiny pic??) For the apple cake I used a DH yellow cake mix,used the ingredients on the box, added 2 lrg chopped apples, 1 pkg cheesecake pudding and a little extra oil. In place of the extra oil you could use 1/2 cup applesauce. In place of the liquid, you could use apple juice or even cider for a little extra tang. I also added about 1 tbl of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. Enjoy the fall! [...]

Operation Baking Gals 10th Mountain Team Roundup


  YAY! And a big thanks to all who participated. We had a great show of support for our guy Richard of the 10th Mountain Division. I want to send a sincere thank you to all of you! We sent our soldier so much love! Here is a roundup of what my fabulous baking team sent ….. Please visit the web sites of my team members that have one! You will not be disappointed! Such talent! Melissa M - Lost Nation, Iowa Yummy Banana Bread! Courtney L - molasses spice cookies and snickerdoodles! Mary - San Francisco, CA snickerdoodles, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie bars, beef jerky, trail mix, instant oatmeal packets, tea bags and Jelly Belly jelly beans. Ingrid - Winter Springs, FL Mint Brownies and S’mores Bars, gum and Gatorade packets Greg - New York, NY oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and coffee cake cookies, Halloween candy--Swedish Fish and Sour Patch Kids See his blog post here. Linda - San Diego, CA Coffee Chocolate Chip Cookies, peanut butter reese's pieces toffee chip cookies, orange cranberry oatmeal cookies, crystal light raspberry lemonade, lemon heads, sweet tarts, poppycock popcorn, small individual sized bags of freeze dried fruit, and bags of 100 calorie pack cookies Sandy - Jasper FL Rice Krispy Treats, Chewy Cake and some Peppermint Candy. I also mailed a newspaper from my area. Patty Z - Westlake OH Chocolate Chip Cookies Joanne M - Westlake OH Luscious Lemon Bars Heather P - Brooklyn, NY Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies, and Butterfinger Squares, plus included some real American candy, such as Jolly Ranchers Pam - Longview TX Harvest Walnut cookies, chocolate chip cookies , lemon coolers, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal raisin, halloween candies--M&M's, butterscotch discs, peanut butter logs, mini chick-o-sticks, Ritz crackers with peanut butter filling, gum, Blistick lip balm and Corn Huskers hand lotion (fantastic for the really chapped hands). Pam also was featured on her local TV station talking about OBG! Janet A - Chicago IL Cookies Nayeli H – Chunky Vanilla cookies with white chocolate chips, chocolate chunky cookies with chocolate chips and a vanilla chocolate mix. Mary – Oatmeal sandwich cookies. and some Cowboy cookies Dolores F – "Dorie Cookies"- the Whopper drops and Chocolate chip cookies Marca D – Chocolate Chip and Macadamia Nut Cookies! Lucy M – Charlotte NC Chocolate chip/toffee cookies, Chocolate chunk/cherry/pecan brownies, Cupcakes, and chocolate mini-Bundt cakes what I used instead of packing peanuts: Jello instant pudding mix singles (have you seen these? They’re fabulous!), small packs of nuts, etc. Jennifer C – Bristol CT Chocolate Chip cookies and Oatmeal cookies! Lisa W – Williamsville, NY Zucchini bread, chocolate chip, peanut butter and some other assorted goodies Amy J – Knoxville, TN Snickerdoodles, and oatmeal/white chocolate/coconut/pecan cookies Susan – Orange cookies, devil food cake cookies and chocolate chips cookies Kraf[...]

Operation Baking - Northern Ohio


I have received permission from Susan of OBG to branch out into a regular group here in Ohio. If you would like to bake for soldiers with Ohio connections please email me at (putOBG in the subject line). We expect to ship at the end of each month

Please check out the website OH Bakes.

Cleveland Browns Bars


Edit- I posted this on Sunday- but in the middle of Hurricane Ike so it didn't post. Sorry 'bout the crappy pics! (See last post about Ike)Uhhh the Browns lost.... But the cookies were a winner!!!! Here is the post.....I could have sworn I made this recipe from Jennifer of Bake or Break and posted on it a few months ago. I KNOW I made the cookies, but I guess I didn't post on it. Loved the recipe! Not many cookies feature cashews and teamed with butterscotch you can't lose! Even so, when I made the original recipe, I knew I would change it up a bit the next time I made it, because we love pecans!Tonight is the famous football matchup- Cleveland Browns vs. PITTSburg Steelers. So in honor of my Browns, I have named my changed up recipe Cleveland Browns Bars. They are pretty dang delicious! The crust is like buttery shortbread; and the bscotch caramel- mmmmm!Here's the play by play...Cleveland Browns Bars (aka Butterscotch Pecan Bars)1/2 pound (2 sticks, or 1 cup) butter1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar1 & 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour11 ounces butterscotch chips (I used Merckens Butterscotch Wafers this time)3/4 cup light corn syrup1 tablespoon2 cups pecans (toasted lightly in the oven while the crust is baking)dash saltPreheat oven to 350°. Line a 9″x 13″ pan with parchment paper (line the pan’s width and length, creating a parchment “sling'). Spray parchment paper with cooking spray.Using an mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and salt for 1 to 1 & 1/2 minutes. Decrease mixer speed to low and add the flour. Mix just until combined. Lightly press dough evenly into the prepared pan. Poke holes in the dough with a fork. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the crust is a golden color. Remove to wire rack to cool-pretty much completely.In a saucepan over low heat, stir together butterscotch chips, corn syrup, and water. Stir until mixture comes to a simmer and butterscotch chips are melted. Pour over crust.Sprinkle toasted pecans over the butterscotch. Bake for 5 minutes. Salt top very lightly. Cool completely on a wire rack. After cooling, remove from pan and use a very sharp knife to cut into bars.GO BROWNS! [...]

Hurricane Ike Visits OHIO!


I'm not complaining, cuz we really don't have it anywhere near as bad as the folks in the great state of Texas.
But Ike was pretty wicked, even to Ohio. The storm hit Sunday at 7 PM and knocked down a large tree in our back yard that fell on our fence. Then a few minutes later, the front yard started exploding! Two trees in front and the telephone pole went across, blocking the street.
Our power should be on by next Sunday.
Edited to add- Friday morning- they started putting up the telephone/power pole at 1:45AM! and power was restored at 6AM. Our phone and internet were reconnected at 7pm (after much cajoling by me).

Operation Baking Gals Team 10th Mountain


(image) A few months ago, I had been talking with online friends about troops overseas, and wouldn't we love to be able to find a soldier and send him/her a goodie box, just as a show of support and thanks. Just a little morale boost and a taste of home. But we weren't sure how we would find the soldiers, not knowing any personally.
Just days later, I saw a post on the Daring Bakers website from Susan of She's Becoming DoughMessTic. She had just sent cookies to a soldier oversees, and because of the feedback, came up with a brilliant idea to find soldiers, then to invite the blogging community to bake for them and send the goodies directly to the soldiers. Is that fate, or what?! The effort is called Operation Baking Gals.
I immediately signed on and sent my package to a LT. aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. I know he was able to share his packages with many on the ship. And it was pretty easy! Ok -come next round, no question I would help out again! It's the least I can do to show my appreciation.
Susan's mission is growing by leaps and bounds. Bakers are signing up and soldiers names are coming in. This month, for Round 3, it's my turn to be a host.
So, Could YOU help me bake this time? Our soldier is Richard Martin and he is a member of the 10th Mountain Division- Army Light Infantry based out of Fort Drum NY. I have been told he has LOTS of soldiers he will be sharing with. I have been told these heroes could really use a morale boost - and an unexpected shipment of goodies could really be the ticket.
Will it bring them home? No it won't. But it will remind them of it...and that's a really positive thing in such a negative place. Capt. Ballard (our Round One soldier) told Susan in an email that "I just hope these ladies know that they are doing a good thing. Even if it is 'just' baking cookies...". These guys are protecting our rights, our liberty, our freedom. The least we can do in return is share a few homemade cookies with them. If you are up for helping me support this group of soldiers stationed in Iraq, please send an email to When I receive your email, I will respond with all the info you will need to ship to our guy Richard in Iraq.
We will all ship our boxes at the same time - Beginning the week of Sept. 27th. If you get a free special APO Military Flat Rate box from the Post Office, the shipping should be very low for 1 large box. (Approx $12.95 or less).
Please join the effort to support our troops!

Operation Baking Gals Round 3 Host!


I will be hosting in Round 3 for a soldier (to be named)! We will each bake and send off our goodies the week of September 27. I hope you will join me in this effort to supply homebaked goods to our troops overseas.
Please email me at (in the subject line type "I want on your team") and I will add you to the list of bakers. Please include your city and state in your email if you wish.
For more info on Operation Baking Gals click here.
Also,FYI- if you are planning to bake for this effort or to send anything to an APO or FPO address, USPS will send you free flat rate boxes that can be used to ship to military addresses at a reduced rate.
More info will be added as I receive it. Thanks!

Coconut Cupcakes


Those little pillows are Coconut Cupcakes filled and topped with coconut cream. I used the wedding cake recipe and added coconut flavoring instead and made a Mock Whipped Topping and added coconut pudding to it. So dang good! Wedding Cake 1 box white cake mix 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup granulated sugar 3/4 teas. salt 2 eggs or 4 egg whites 1 1/3cups water 2 Tbls. vegetable oil 1 cup (8oz carton) sour cream 1 teaspoon clear vanilla flavor 1 teaspoon almond extract ( I used coconut) Mix all dry ingredients by hand using a whisk in a very large mixing bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Bake at 325 degrees until done (approx 10 min for cupcakes) Mock Whipped Cream 3/4 c. milk 3 tbsp. flour 6 tbsp. butter 6 tbsp. shortening 3/4 c. powdered sugar 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla 1/4 tsp. salt (Added 1 box Coconut Cream pudding and another 3/4 c milk at the end to give coconut flavoring) Cook milk and flour until thick. Make sure there are no lumps. Cool. Beat butter, shortening, and sugar for 4 minutes in a bowl. Add flour and milk mixture. Beat 4 minutes. Add vanilla and salt. Top with coconut! [...]

DC Visiting


Last weekend, we visited our daughter in Arlington VA. The weekend was beautiful, we had a few really good meals and got to go to our favorite bakery there- Heidelberg Bakery . If you ever are in the area, be sure to stop, you will find just about anything you want there! This has to be one of the biggest bakeries I have been in. I had a cheese danish both days- so good! Be sure to visit their website and drool over all the items!

We also walked about 5 miles on the Mt Vernon Trail along the Potomac River on Saturday. Had to walk off those breakfast calories! The trail is very nice and we crossed the footbridge to Teddy Roosevelt Island and saw a few deer in the woods. It was a perfect day weather-wise!

Daring Baker's Do Eclairs


I joined the Daring Baker's group this year to try and stretch my skills. I never would have dreamed of making eclairs on my own and was pretty skeptical when I saw the challenge for August, posted by our hosts, Meeta and Tony.But learn new techniques is just what I have done here and I am just thrilled! The recipe comes from the book Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme. Éclairs consist of 3 elements:- Pâte à Choux, also known as Choux Pastry or Cream Puff Dough;- Pastry Cream;- Chocolate glazeI halved the recipe, not wanting to be piggy about it, and piped the choux on the baking sheet in little fingers, planning to make mini eclairs.I baked my pate`a choux according to the recipe, but got tied up on the phone and they baked a minute or 2 over. That somewhat spoiled my idea to pipe the cream directly inside, so I let them cool and cut them in half and spread the filling. Why I didn't pipe the filling on the halves, well, I don't know! Next time I will pipe to make them look so much neater.I changed it up a bit by using suggestions from the Martha Stewart Baking Book and added a bit of whipped cream to my pastry cream for an eclair that was less heavy. I also made the original chocolate glaze, but made some with butterscotch glaze, knowing how my family loves bscotch!My eclairs tasted pretty dang good! If I ever venture this recipe again, I promise to be neater!!You can find the original recipe at the hosts websites, listed above.[...]

Cookies for the USS Abraham Lincoln


(image) (image) Well I sent my cookies off the the USS Abraham Lincoln yesterday. I made Oatmeal Scotchie Bars, Chocolate Chip cookies and Peanut Butter Chip cookies. Hope they get there in one piece!

I used my trusty Food Saver vac and sucked most of the air out- but not enough to flatten the cookies- to keep them fresh. Then, super bubble wrapped!
(image) Oatmeal Scotchies are, by far, my family's favorite cookie. I have always made them as a bar, using the recipe on the Nestle's Butterscotch Chip bag.
As part of Operation Baking Gals, I am on Steph's team and am sending cookies to Eric for distribution on the USS Abraham Lincoln. I am happy to be involved in showing our appreciation to our troops as they fight to protect freedom in the world.

Lemon-Up Cupcakes



Browsing the cookbooks at BJ's last week I came across one which looked to have lots of great ideas in it. So I bought it. It is called Ultimate Cake Mix Book from Publications Unlimited. I was going to put a link to it, but couldn't find it easily online. There is another book with the same name by Betty Crocker. But this one is different.
Anyway, one of the recipes is called Lemon Up Cake, but it was actually made as a cupcake. I sorta followed the recipe, and I used a different icing. The same icing was used recently by my buddy Bunny. It is a wonderful Lemon Cream Cheese Icing from Epicurious. I changed it up a bit by using lemon extract instead of lemon zest and adding a bit of yellow food coloring for effect. I topped some with crushed Lemonheads.
The cupcakes baked up very nicely. I finally used my square cupcake pan for half the recipe. These were so delicious (baked and unbaked!!). Bowl licking good!
Lemon Cupcakes
I box Butter Recipe Golden Cake Mix
1 box lemon instant pudding
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cake mix according to directions on box, adding the pudding and substituting the lemon juice for 1/4 c of the water. Beat according to the instructions on the box. Batter will be thick. Scoop into 24 cupcakes. (I use an ice cream scoop.)
Bake 18-23 minutes until light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Ice as desired.