Monday, December 19, 2011

Honey Applesauce Cake Recipe and My 200th Blog Post!!!!!

The following recipe is for Honey Applesauce Cake I found in an old cook book I was given by my mother-in-law called The Culinary Art Institute Encylcopedic Cook Book. I believe I have posted another recipe from this book and it is amazing. It's one of those books that you come across that is sitting there collecting dust until you awaken it from it's slumber and open it, its stiff spine creaking as you do so.... And though the pages are starting to fall apart and the binding glue is dry and brittle, you find these amazing little gems, recipes that have been long forgotten (some well deserved), but others just waiting to be brought to life again

Happy Holidays And Tasty Treats

One thing I love about the holidays are the get togethers and the sharing of food. Whether they be sweets or savory dishes, the traditions are deep and the variety of recipes are abundant. Though I love to bake and make sweet treats, when it comes to concocting my own recipes, cooking is definitly more my forte. So more times than not, when baking, you will see I mainly share my favorite recipes from other bakers and books that I have come across over the years. The great things about Holiday baking is the sharing that goes along with it and honestly it does'nt really matter who or where you got the recipe from as long as you put yout heart into it.
        Who does'nt love getting something homemade let alone something sweet that's home made!? They make great tasty Christmas Gift's for those you may want to give just a little something to like your neighbors or your mailman. So I encourage you, if you have'nt already, to dig out your favorite recipes old and new and share a few with others. The following recipe I have added is a new addition to my baking repetiore "Honey Applesauce Cake". I hope you enjoy it :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tangy Red Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are one of my all time favorite side dishes and occasionally main dishes. I had purchased some beautiful red potatoes at the produce market the other day and knew just what I wanted to do with them. Mashed potatoes of course! Only these are not your ordinary mashers. I decided to add a little goat cheese and sour cream for some extra flavor.
If you are vegan or lactose intolerant you can most definitly substitute the dairy for non-dairy sour cream and even a little vegan butter if you prefer. They won't have quite the same flavor, but they'll still be pretty tasty. Also if you have a big crowd coming over, this recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Serves: 6


6 cups red potatoes (about 7 medium) - peeled if desired and cut into cubes

4 cloves garlic - peeled

2/3 cup sour cream - plus more as needed

4 ounces goat cheese - crumbled

3 tbs milk - plus more as needed

1/8 tsp ground white pepper

2 tsp salt - plus more to taste

2 tbs chives - chopped


Fill a 5 quart pot 2/3rds full with water add 2 tsp salt. Bring to boil and gently add in potatoes. Loosely cover and cook about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Drain water. Keep potatoes in pot and goat cheese and sour cream. Cover and let sit for about two minutes to help the cheese melt. Remove lid add remaining ingredients and mash until reaches desired consistency adding more milk or sour cream as needed and salt to taste.
Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy.

Brandy and Vanilla Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is one of those Turkey day traditions. You can't have the Turkey or Tofurkey without it. I normally have neither of the above and I still love the cranberry sauce. Like most people I grew up with the typical canned version that plops into the dish with a sucking sound as you attempt to remove it from it's tin can. Though I still enjoy it on occasion, in the last few years, I have learned to make my own. And let me tell you, the possibilities are endless. In my version I have added a little brandy and some vanilla bean. The smell was so delicious as I was simmering it that I had to restrain myself from just grabbing a big spoon and devouring the molten cranberry mixture.

Makes: About 2 1/4 cups

Cooking time: 12-15 minutes


1 pound bag fresh cranberries - thawed if they were frozen

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup brandy

1/4 cup water

Zest of one orange

Juice of one orange - about 1/2 cup

1/2 of a vanilla bean - split and seeded

a pinch of allspice


In a medium sauce pan add water, sugar brandy, orange juice and zest. Bring to a light boil. In the mean time - Open the bag of cranberries, rinse and remove any shriveled or rotten ones and any stems you may find.
For the vanilla pod cut in half and set the other half aside for a later use. To get out the seeds, split the pod in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds with a knife blade or spoon.
Once the liquid mixture has come to a boil gently add in cranberries, vanilla seeds and pod and allspice. Stir well, reduce heat and bring to a simmer. Cover half way with a lid and simmer until berries have burst and mixture has slightly thickened, about 10 - 12 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool for a half an hour, remove vanilla pod and refrigerate until chilled - about 1 hour. Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.

Is It Thanksgiving Already?!?!

It's amazing how time flies! Whether your having fun or not, this time of year always tends to take it's sweet time getting here, then one day, bam! It's right in front of you. It's two days before thanksgiving and I still have yet to decide what I'm making. Though luckily I am not the one who slaves all day, my mom does, but I still like to take a few additions over to ease her load. I have added a few sides I hope you enjoy.

I also owe all of you you an explanation as to my lack of posts over the last several weeks. November marks the National Writing Month (NONOWRIMO) and at the last moment, I decided to sign up for it. As some of you may know, I also enjoy creative writing and have been working on my first novel. It has been a long dragging on process with little progress. So I knew that I needed some kind of motivation to finish what I have been dying to do. I decided signing up was just what I needed. Needless to say my blogging has fallen a little on the way side in hopes that I can finish the first draft of my book by the end of the year. However, that does not mean I will not be blogging, as I most certainly will be! I am obviously just in the works of finding the balance of having one more item on my plate.

So again, I thank you for your patience and if you are in need of some thanksgiving side dishes, then I have just what you need. I love to add my own flair to things and that is just what I did with these traditional recipes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! And if you are a black Friday shopper like myself, maybe I'll see some of you Salemites out in the wee hours of the morning ;)

  Your food friend Rachel  :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spiced Poached Pears with Earl Grey Whipped Cream

Pears are in season and my new favorite recipe for them is poached pears.
Often you will see them poached in wine, or some alchaholic infused syrup. Not that wine drenched pears does'nt sounds delcious, but I wanted to make these afforadble and with common items most people may have already in their pantry. I also wanted to use spices that I think compliment the flavor of the pears.

I started with a simple syrup and infused it with a variety of my favorite spices that give it that comforting fall feel and taste that is great for an evening in dessert or a quick sweet treat to finish off the evening after a meal with friends and family.

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes


4 Bosc Pears - ripe, but still slightly firm - peeled, quartered and cored

3 cups water

1 cup sugar

6 whole cloves

4 whole cardmom pods

1/2 a vanilla bean - split down the center and seeded

1 stick of cinnamon


To seed your vanilla bean:
The seeds are the most flavorful part of the vanilla bean so you want to get out as many of them as possible to release their delicious vanilla-ie flavor. Take your vanilla bean and cut in half;  set aside one half for a later use. With the remaining half, take a small sharp knife and split down the center length wise. With the blade of your knife, flatten the pod and scrape the seeds off of each bean half. Place the seeds and the pod into the pot with the poaching liquid.

To Make Poaching Liquid:
In a medium sized pot, add all ingredients except for the pears. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat, cover pan and let spices steep for about 5 minutes.

Peel pears, cut off the stems and bottoms. Cut them in half length wise, then cut in half again. With a pairing knife, cut out the core from each quarter. Gently place the pear quarters into the pot of liquid with a slotted spoon. Increase heat and bring to a boil, let cook for two minutes. The reduce heat again and cover pears. Let simmer for 10 mintues.
Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Place four pear quarters into a bowl with a slotted sppon and adding a little syrup to each bowl  - if desired. Top with Earl Grey whipped cream (recipe below) and enjoy!

Earl Grey Whipped Cream

Making your own whipped cream is one of my favorite things to do when whipping up a quick dessert (no pun intended ;). It's also an easy way to impress your friends. Really all it is is heavy whipping cream, vanilla and sugar. The nice thing about making your own, is you can make as little or as  much as you like and you can flavor and sweeten it to your liking. Some of my favorite ways are to infuse the cream with other flavors before whipping it. As in this recipe, I have steeped earl grey tea in the cream. However, you can flavor it with just about anything from Grand Marnier, to Cinnamon or even mint. My other favorite version is instead of uusing early grey tea, use orange spice tea. This too goes really well with the pears.


1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tbs sugar

1 tsp loose earl grey tea leaves


In a small bowl or cup, place whipping cream and tea. stir together place in microwave and heat for 20 seconds. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Place cream back in fridge to chill and steep for 45 minutes. When ready to whip cream. Place a strainer over a large glass bowl. Strain tea from cream. With a hand mixer, whip cream until peaks are left standing when you remove the beaters - about 60-90 seconds.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kicking Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

This is a simple soup that really packs a punch and makes a great partner to grilled cheese. The idea of this soup is to focus on the natural flavors of the tomato and peppers with just a touch of cream for richness. The jalapeno in this recipe takes it up a notch from your normal tomato soup, but if you prefer, you can omit it or only add half the pepper instead.

Note: If you prefer to keep the cream out of this recipe, simply add a little more vegetable broth in it's place.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Serves: 3-4


6 small or 4 medium sized red and yellow bell peppers (half of each)

6 medium sized tomato's

4 cloves of garlic

1 small jalapeno - optional

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth - plus more as needed

1/3 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil

For Garnish: 1 small yellow pepper - finely chopped - if desired


Preheat oven to 425. Line a large baking sheet with tin foil and coat with a thin layer of olive oil or cooking spray. Remove any stems from the vegetables then place tomato's, bell peppers and jalapeno on baking sheet. Lightly drizzle with olive oil. Wrap garlic cloves in a small piece of tin foil. Place on baking sheet.  Remove the garlic after 15 minutes. Keep roasting the remaining vegetables until the pepper skins are golden to dark brown and the tomato's skins have burst open (about 25-30 minutes total). Remove vegetables from oven. Cover them with another piece of tinfoil and let steam for about 10 minutes.

Uncover vegetables and remove seeds from peppers. Remove garlic cloves from their skins. Place the juices from the baking pan, the peppers, tomatoes and garlic into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture through a strainer pushing through with a spoon, as needed, into a medium sized pot. On low-med heat bring to a simmer and partially cover. Stirring occasionally cook until mixture slightly thicken - about 15 minutes. Add broth, cream, salt and pepper, stir and cook for 5 more minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. If you like your soup a little thinner you can add more vegetable broth - if desired. Remove from heat.Top with chopped yellow pepper and serve with grilled cheese.