Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Spring has arrived, and so have Easter, which came early this year! What is more befitting than to make everyone's favorite Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting...and the best part is to top it off with Shredded Sweetened Coconut, and the best...of the best part of this fabulous cake is
the Candied-Spiced Walnuts
which I happened to think of at the last minute! You can certainly skip the spice, and just go with the sweet, and crunchy glaze. Once they are dry and separated, it can be easy spread on the cake for decoration and an added yumminess that I guarantee will be the first to disappear before cutting the cake!


This was our first Easter holiday without family and friends, and not a very comforting feeling to all of a sudden just have a complete change. Just like from childhood, mine and yours perhaps, we can see the changes that are happening in our lives when it comes to the holidays that are spent with our loved ones and friends, and one day...everything changes, just like it did this year! Death of a loved one, family being separated from each other, dearest friends moving away across the United States whom you've been close to and spending the last 15 years each holiday, and now...gone, perhaps forever; very sad, but total reality which we must learn to adjust to!

Note: the only change I made to this recipe...I used 1 cup of canola oil (instead of 1 1/2 cup)...I omitted the sour cream. My addition was the shredded coconut, and the Candied Walnuts for decoration!

We have to appreciate everything in life...the small and simple things especially, family, friends, and our health, which is not to be taken for granted! Learn to be happy with ourselves, and one-another is the key to life's simple pleasures! I don't always have the energy or passion to cook and bake at home since this is what I have been doing for decades as a professional career, but I always make an exception to do my best for family and friends if the occasion calls for it. No holiday has gone by without my contribution to a special occasion, and that will always go on as long as I can physically make it happen. It brings me joy, and contentment to see the smiles on the faces of the people I love!
As the lyric of the song goes..."I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden"...we are not promised a rose garden, but we can certainly enjoy one, especially this particular one from 2 years ago when I visited extended family in Como, Italy. Could not believe my eyes, and how much joy it gave me to enjoy this beautiful little rose garden on a tiny little balcony overlooking a spectacular tall mountain, so actually I fared better, and I was promised a 'rose garden' ...and much more than that...love and devotion from a beautiful Italian family!
This beautiful white rose was from 'the actual' rose garden of Teresa...she so lovingly takes care of them, and they in return give so much peace and beauty for all eyes to gaze upon them!
I picked these gorgeous roses from the rose garden to put them in water, to enjoy!

As another saying goes..."stop and smell the roses"...yes indeed, you should take time to stop and smell the roses, whenever, wherever you might get the chance to do so. The only ones that really matter with such a beautiful perfume fragrance of their own are the ones that are naturally growing in a garden, and when you get the chance, don't pass them by!

I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to enjoy 'life's simple pleasures'...like this gorgeous scene looking out from the back of the house...never, ever, pass up the opportunity to find beauty in nature which are the simplest gifts from nature. You will never see the most beautiful healthy and the tallest pine trees, like in northern Italy, in the Como, and Lago di Como region. I was fortunate to spend 2 weeks there and loved every minute of it. I am so happy to share this with all my blogger friends!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Thumbprint Cookies

I made these lovely jewel cookies over the Christmas holidays, and did not bother to post them until now. I certainly was so perfect, buttery, and the different fillings, other than just the plain jams made a huge difference. So light,flaky, and melt in your mouth. You just couldn't stop at one, since the different jams, including my homemade mango jam, seedless raspberry, lemon curd, and the most favorite was the Nutella filling that the kids loved the most!
Creation of the 'Thumbprint Cookies' came from the 19th century, either from Sweden, or the Jewish people of Eastern Europe. It's such a versatile, popular holiday cookie with so many variations. Of course it's self explanatory about the 'thumbprint'...in which, one will press with the thumb in the center of the cookie dough, for jam filling. The jam can be filled while baking the cookies, or after it has been baked. I make mine both ways, but I do prefer to fill the cookies after it has been baked to enjoy the filling more!
You can't deny how flaky and light these cookies are...and just look at the 'jewel like' filling ones...and oh, I forgot the I also used orange marmalade filling, as well, but the Nutella filling was every one's favorite, except the lemon curd filling. It was not my homemade lemon curd, but if you find a nice bright yellow colored lemon curd in a specialty store, or your favorite supermarket, just grab it, because it will show that it's very fresh, vibrant and true lemony flavor! Never mind the cost, which is not really cheap...it's well worth it, rather than using the 8 egg yolks, and all that butter and fresh lemon juice, plus time consuming, can be costly as well!
The best part is the sharing...pack most of them up in a plastic container, just make sure you overlap them carefully, otherwise they will smear! This is the only time I wish that I had baked them with the filling...instead fill them afterwards, but I assure you, this way it has a more intense flavor from the various jams, lemon curd, and Nutella filling...yumm!

I used the recipe from my trusted Gourmet magazine, from Dec. of 2007...which they called it Trios, because 3 cookies were joined together and baked that way, but for me it did not sound logical, just to break them apart!

THUMPRINT COOKIES...A.K.A. TRIOS

    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • About 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
    • About 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
    • About 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves
    • Equipment: a 1/2-inch-thick wooden spoon handle or dowel



PREPARATION

  1. Make dough:
    1. Whisk together flour and salt. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until very pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes, then beat in egg and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches just until a dough forms. Divide dough in half and form each piece into a 6-inch disk, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, about 1 hour.
  2. Assemble and bake cookies:
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
    2. Roll 3 separate level teaspoons of dough each into a ball, then flatten each ball slightly (to 1 inch wide and less than 1/2 inch thick). Arrange them in a triangle on baking sheet with edges touching in center, then make a deep indentation in center of each round with wooden spoon handle. Make more cookies, arranging them 1 inch apart on baking sheets.
    3. Fill indentations in each cookie with about 1/88 teaspoon jam (each cookie should have 3 different fillings), avoiding any large pieces of fruit.
    4. Bake until cookies are baked through and golden-brown on edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
    5. Bake more batches on cooled baking sheets lined with fresh parchment.
Note: This is a fail proof recipe, whether you make them separate or make the 'trios' is up to you...they will turn out perfect, each and every time! Also with the filling, before baking, or after baking, works either way!
Another amazing thumbprint cookies I will want to make, which has lemon juice, and of course Lemon Curd filling; slightly different from the recipe above!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Cranberry Muffins

Since we're on the 'cranberry' page...I just wanted to share with you another delicious cranberry recipe! Who can resist fresh Cranberry Muffins, straight from the oven, fresh and homemade. So easy to prepare so moist, and delicious! Still using up my fresh frozen cranberries which I can no longer find in any supermarkets, so you have had to 'squirrel' away your very own! A few days ago, I made stuffing with fresh cranberries pre-cooked and folded in to the stuffing. Looked a little strange reddish in color, but oh, so good with roasted chicken!
These muffins were so incredibly good, I just wish I had saved more fresh cranberries in my freezer. There's so many ways to use up fresh cranberries. I will either look for frozen ones at Whole Foods or will have to wait till November again! For some reason,

I noticed in some of the Hungarian food bloggers' posts about muffins verses cupcakes...so if you make small muffins and put frosting on it...does that become a cupcake?...or is it the same thing...muffins with frosting?...I have never heard of such a thing! It's either muffins, or cupcakes! Seems to me that cupcakes get the frosting on them, and muffins may have a yummy glaze...but never, ever frosting! ...and anyway, cupcakes are more moist and delicate, and muffins seem to be more dense. I love the large muffins, but the regular basic size work just fine!


Today, was such a beautiful, pleasant, breezy, and sunny day, here in S. Florida, and especially on the beach, now that we have our beach back after practically losing the entire beach...due to heavy rains, and winds for the last few months, the beach erosion was terrible. We got tons, and tons. of sand being brought in, and have our beach back again to enjoy. Just wondering what will happen in the next 20 or 30 years from now...are we going to be washed away by the ocean?...seems like the beach erosion is such a problem here...wonder if 'global warming has anything to do with it! I would upload some photos for you re: the beach erosion problem, but that would be another long story that I would not want to get involved with on my 'food blog' at this time... (not that I haven't done that in the past.)

Cranberry Muffins
recipe; courtesy of Ocean Spray


1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 cups Ocean Spray® Fresh or Frozen Cranberries, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Mix sugar and butter together in a medium mixing bowl until completely blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate medium mixing bowl. Add this alternately with the milk to the butter mixture. Stir in nuts and cranberries. Spoon into 12 paper-lined muffin cups, filling 3/4 full with batter.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 12 muffins.



I  haven't promoted any of my other recipes in a long time, but I'm really fond of my Blueberry Muffins, especially with the added sour cream to it...do try these, and forget about the calories or the added fat from the sour cream. Just enjoy, and have a wonderful week! Hugs, Elisabeth

Sour Cream-Blueberry Muffins


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Cranberry Pancakes

Such a beautiful Sunday morning here, in S. Florida. Windy, mostly sunny, and 74 degrees F. which actually feels like in the low 60's...always about ten or more degrees cooler on the beach! A perfect time to make pancakes from scratch, especially when you still have a couple bags of fresh cranberries that you put in your freezer from last December...better use them up, although you can keep them in the freezer for at least 1 year! I always use my 'tried and true' Mark Bittman's Basic Pancake recipe, but this time I followed the Better Homes and Gardens, which has the addition of fresh orange juice as well. A good way to start your morning, on a lazy Sunday!
I have absolutely no clue, how many points these yummy pancakes are for Weight Watchers, but I quit temporarily again...for the third time, not easy to keep up with the points. You have to be really diligent to stay with the program!
Close up, you can see the beautiful ruby red chopped fresh cranberries, nestled in the fluffy light pancakes. This is a rare treat, which is the best way to enjoy at home, and forget about Pancake House, which we only have a couple left over now, in our area. Even if you would go out for breakfast or brunch, you will not find this anywhere...so stay home, and follow this easy recipe. You can also use frozen cranberries, but fresh cranberries are totally out of season for now!
Now, are you convinced how much tastier it is to make your own homemade pancakes from scratch, and adding cranberries, blueberries, chocolate chips that my grandchildren love...but one of my all-time favorite is perfectly ripe, sliced bananas dropped right on the top of the batter, as you're making it...yumm...enjoy!

Cranberry Pancakes


  1. In a small mixing bowl combine cranberries, sugar, and orange peel; set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another mixing bowl combine egg, buttermilk, orange juice, and margarine or butter. Add to flour mixture. Stir just until combined but still slightly lumpy. Fold in cranberry mixture.
  2. Heat a lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat until a few drops of water dance across the surface. For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto the hot griddle.
  3. Cook over medium heat until pancakes are golden brown, turning to cook second sides when pancake surfaces are bubbly and edges are slightly dry (about 1 to 2 minutes per side). Serve immediately or keep warm in a loosely covered ovenproof dish in a 300 degree F oven. If desired, serve with Maple Syrup. Makes 16