Tuesday, October 27, 2009



The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S.   She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

 This was my first time eating a french macaroon, let alone trying to make them.  There are many different flavorings and colors that macaroons can be made with and they look very pretty when finished, however, I decided to keep it simple.  I added cocoa powder to my batter and then filled them with Nutella.  Honestly, I have to admit that I didn't really care for  the overly almond flavor of these, or the cost.  The almond flour cost $10 for a 16 oz bag. Needless to say, I doubt I'll be making these again.   I would rather spend money on expensive chocolate, than almond flour. 


Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Doesn't it look like a perfect chocolate chip cookie sitting on top of a muffin?!  I made these Sunday afternoon because I had the urge to bake something and thought the kids would like them before school this morning.  Nothing like having a little dessert for breakfast! 

I used Ina Garten's Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffin recipe to make these.  The batter has sour cream in it which makes these very moist.  This is my go-to muffin recipe.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Muffins
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, 2002

makes 16 regular muffins


12 tablespoons unslated butter, at room temp.
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temp.
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips (recommed Hershey's brand)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place 16 paper liners in muffin pans.  Spray tops of pans with cooking spray (makes it easier to remove the muffins)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. 

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt (I use a whisk to blend it all together).  With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed.  Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula. 

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans using a large ice-cream scoop, filling to the top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until the muffins are lightly browned on top.  (I always set my timer for the minimum amount of time and give it more time if needed)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Crock-Pot Beef and Bean Chili with Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread

No seasoning packet here, this is all from scratch.  This is one colorful chili when it's all mixed together.  Along with the beef, I added red and black beans, and for even more fiber, corn, grated carrot, yellow and green peppers.  My youngest wouldn't eat it, but everyone else had seconds.  This filled my crock-pot up to the brim, so make sure you have a large cooker. 

Lisa's Crock-Pot Beef and Bean Chili


2 pounds ground beef (can substitute turkey)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomato
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomato with green chiles
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn
1 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and very finely chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1-2 dashes ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper


Cook the beef, onion and garlic in a large skillet over high heat until meat is no longer pink.  Drain and add to the slow-cooker. 

Add in all remaining ingredients, stir and cover.  Cook on high for 3 hours.

This corn bread recipe is one of our favorites.  The first time I made it my husband said it was the best corn bread he had ever had.  The cheddar and jalapeno give it such great flavor, and letting the batter sit on the counter before cooking, makes it very moist and tender, almost cake like.   I modified the original recipe by using mild cheddar (that's what I had on hand), and only 1 jalapeno.  Enjoy!

Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home by Ina Garten 2006

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
2 cups grated cheddar, divided
1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
1 jalapeno pepper, minced 


Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and melted butter.

With a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix!   Mix in half of the grated Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Perfect Gift

A friend of ours volunteers at a local C.S.A. farm in Milan.  My husband met up with him for coffee the other day, and ended up bringing home this large box full of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and more.   Check out the huge yellow tomato and the dark purple peppers.  It makes me happy just looking at the colors in this box. 

little eggplants, so cute!

I had some of my homemade marinara left over so I cooked up the eggplant, red, green and yellow peppers in olive oil, along with some onion, fresh tomato and garlic, and then mixed them in with the marinara.  Healthy, delicious and no recipe required!


Serve over angel hair pasta. Enjoy!