Daring Bakers: Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.


This challenge really snuck up on me.  I guess I could blame it on the fact that last week was my first week of school, but really I am just a little forgetful sometimes and I have a bad habit of putting things off.  This week was really too busy to make this cake, so I had to wait until yesterday.  I have never baked and assembled a cake this involved so quickly!  It still took me a while, about 3 hours start to finish.  This is an accomplishment, in my opinion, especially when you consider the 6 sponge cake layers, chocolate buttercream, the caramel coated triangle cake pieces and assembly.


Foodie Trivia: Part Deux

foodiecrossingPeople actually read and responded my last foodie trivia game!  Craziness.

I was so excited that I decided to continue my little game.  So, here are some more foodie questions…and this time we’re getting serious…there will be an announced prize involved this time.  The first person to comment with all 6 correct answers will receive a dozen cookies of their choice.  Good luck!

Here are the 6 categories in the Foodie Fight game.

Foodiesphere: food people, cuisines and places

Food Stars: Food on film and in print, music and art

Company’s Coming: Party planning, table etiquette, wine and food pairing

Lab and Field: Cooking science, nutrition, and food preparation

Dining Out: Eateries, chefs, menu matters, and restaurant service

What’s Cooking?: Cooking techniques, tools, and ingredients

Here we go…get your thinking caps on folks…and try not to Google all the answers.  I am a teacher and I would be sorely disappointed in the person who made the decision to cheat…


First Days and the Start of a Beautiful Friendship…Bread

My Amish Friendship Bread on Foodista

I survived my first 2 days with 6th graders.  I realized that I’ve kinda missed teaching.  I didn’t miss staying at school for 11 hours, getting home after 6pm, sitting down and realizing just how exhausting it can be to be on your feet all day, well, except for a 25 minute lunch.  That’s right 25 minutes.  All of you office people out there who enjoy hour lunch breaks where you get to eat at a real restaurant with waiters and such should be thankful.  And on those days where you have to have a quick lunch, think of the teachers out there who don’t ever get to leave the building they work in for lunch.

Sorry!  I forgot this wasn’t about self pity,  but about Amish Friendship Bread.  I wish I knew these kids…they look so very friendly.


Photo courtesy of hiddenvalleys.com


Lazy Sunday: Coconut, Oatmeal, Toffee Chocolate No Bake Cookies

These little “cookies” are pretty tasty and incredibly easy to make.  Since these cookies are ball shaped they reminded me more of a truffle and less of a cookie.  From start to finish, including the 30 minutes chilling time, these were ready in less than an hour.  Pretty close to instant gratification.  I used a 2 1/2 quart saucepan and it was big enough to do all the melting and mixing so clean up was a breeze.  Well, we are dealing with melted marshmallow, butter and chocolate so clean up isn’t really a “breeze” but it’s just one sticky pan, not half a dozen, like some recipes require.  So it isn’t too bad.  Great for a lazy day when I want to do a little cleaning as possible.

The cookies on the left were just scooped, the center cookies were scooped, then rolled between my palms, and the far right were rolled in my palms then in coconut.


The combination of flavors and textures is terrific.  The sweetener in these candies/cookies is marshmallow instead of the usual white sugar typical in no-bake cookies like this.  The oats make the cookies hearty, the coconut gives them a nice chew, and the toffee pieces add a nice crunch.  So, if you need a sweet fix and you’re not in the mood to bake a batch of cookies, try these.

Coconut, Oatmeal, Toffee Chocolate No Bake Cookies

  • 6 ounces chopped milk or semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 16 large marshmallows
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup toffee pieces
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  1. Melt butter, chocolate and marshmallows over low heat in a saucepan (or you can use a double boiler).  Stir until mixture is smooth, 5-10 minutes.  Remove from the heat.
  2. Mix in in peanut butter, vanilla.  Stir in coconut, oats and toffee pieces until well combined.
  3. Scoop by tablespoons onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet.  Optional: You can roll the mixture into smooth balls and then roll the balls in coconut or toffee pieces for a fancier looking cookie.
  4. Chill the cookies for 30 minutes, then serve.

Sweet Saturday: Chipper Blondie Bars

Chipper [chip-er]


marked by or being in sprightly good humor and health.


marked by the presence of more than 2 types of chips in a baked good.

Lately I have been changing recipes just a tad and trying to figure out just how much can change without affecting the dish detrimentally.  I changed the pasta last week too much with the addition of the sausage, but other than that it was yummy, so I will consider that to be a success!

I found the original recipe for these bars on King Arthur’s website.  A lot of the recipes sound delicious but have mixed reviews, so I am often hesitant to try them.  The combination of butter, brown sugar, and chocolate sounded like it just couldn’t miss…so I decided to give these Warm Chocolate Blondie Bars a try.  I changed the mix-ins, but left the cookie base alone.  I don’t feel quite ready to start messing with people’s baking ratios.  I used chopped Hershey’s bars because they were on sale, white chocolate chips because I like them, and toffee pieces because they melt into pure deliciousness in a cookie.


The only other differences from the original recipe are that I didn’t use espresso powder or nuts.  The recipe has the option of either all purpose or white whole wheat flour.  I chose all purpose for 2 reasons: I didn’t have white whole wheat, and I didn’t want to replace it with whole wheat flour.  I would consider half whole wheat and half all purpose, but a cookie with ALL whole wheat flour is often too hearty and a bit gritty for my liking.  An oatmeal cookie with whole wheat flour works, but not a chocolate chip type cookie…in my opinion…which matters…very little.


Dinner Rush: Zucchini, Tomato Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Ricotta

Easy weeknight meal #2.  This one was quicker than last week’s Mango Shrimp, and cheaper!  If you choose to leave out the chicken sausage, then its an even more frugal (and also a vegetarian) dinner.  Nothing in the preparation of this dish is time consuming.  There is a little chopping and slicing to do, but nothing tedious…unless you consider slicing a couple garlic cloves to be tedious.

I don’t often make vegetarian dishes when I cook for Ben and myself.  I am content with a dinner where mushrooms, black beans or artichokes are the “meat”.  Tofu?  Not yet, people.  I fear tofu.  Ben would prefer chicken, beef, turkey, etc. as a part of a balanced meal.  So, I made this pasta dish with chicken sausage.  Ben liked this addition, but I think it would have been better as a purely vegetarian pasta.  I love my husband, and I like him to be happy…so I will make this again with the chicken sausage or maybe prosciutto.  Ben can eat his meaty pasta, but I will set aside some pure, vegetable goodness for myself before adding the animal product.  Marriage is all about compromise!

pasta1This meal came about by reading a Martha Stewart recipe for Penne alla Norma which sounded so good…until I reached the line that read…EGGPLANT…gasp…blech!  I hate eggplant.  If someone wants to convince me that it’s delicious, then fly me to your house and treat me to dinner featuring this outwardly beautifully purple vegtable with an slimy inner evil.  If you can convince me that it’s edible…I will retract the last few remarks and worship you.

Anyway, I decided to replace the eggplant in the recipe with zucchini.  That was the first change I made to the original recipe, and some other changed followed; added the chicken sausage, used grape tomatoes, doubled the tomato paste, and the basil, and reserved the pasta water to make the dish saucier.  I also used whole wheat penne.

I really like this pasta.  The vegetables were just tender, not too hard or too mushy.  The flavor of the sauce had a perfect level of spicy because of the red pepper, and it was light enough to be a good summer pasta.  A dollop of ricotta on top gave the pasta a nice amount of creaminess and was also a great complement to the spice.  You could sprinkle parmesan on top instead, but I really liked the refreshing ricotta. (more…)

Foodie Trivia Answers

I know how all of you have been eagerly awaiting the answers to the trivia from the other day…so here they are!

Congratulations to the two contestants who commented…you will each receive…cookies!!  Just leave a comment below with your favorite type of cookie and I will send you a dozen of them.  Good thing only two of you entered…otherwise I would be seriously slaving away in the kitchen next week.

1.  How many fresh tart cherries does it take to make a cherry pie?  about 150, about 250 or about 350 cherries?

Answer: About 250 cherries

2.  What does R.S.V.P. stand for on an invitation?  Respond regrets only, respond either way, or a response is optional?

Answer: Respond either way

3.  What chocolate covered treat made of marshmallow and vanilla cookie appears in the 1997 novel She Comes Undone and the 1989 move When Harry Met Sally?

Answer: Mallomars

4.  How many cups are in a quart?

Answer: 4

5.  What politician, evoking the plight of single mothers on a campaign stop in 2000, said, “Working hard to put food on your family”?

Answer: George W. Bush

Buttermilk Cakes

I made SmittenKitchen’s raspberry buttermilk cake a few weeks ago.  The cake was so lovely that I decided to try it with some different additions.  Since I had blueberries, half a bag of raw blanched almonds and a tube of almond paste already on hand…that’s what I used.  The other ingredients in the cake are readily accessible in a bakers kitchen; 1 egg, 1/2 stick butter, sugar, flour, buttermilk (You can make your own!) baking soda, powder, salt and sugar.  Easy.

blueberry2Buttermilk Cake #1

The first cake I made was a blueberry almond cake and it was, in my opinion, incredibly delicious.  Tart and juicy blueberries in a sweet, tender and moist cake with crunchy almond paste crumbs on top.  The blueberries sank into the batter as it baked, but the almond paste stayed on top so it was able to get a little brown and crunchy.  I sprinkled regular granulated sugar on top as well.  I did not use lemon zest in the cake.  I thought it might not combine well with the almond, but it would probably be great.

I get so worried about overcomplicating a dish that I tend toward simple flavors and fairly normal ingredients.  If you want something crazy, make this.  It grosses me out a bit, but my 7th grade Texas History teacher, Mr. Dennis, made this for us as a Christmas treat when I was in his class, and it was good…so maybe Velveeta cheese is better for more than Cheater Queso?  If you’d like to make a bit more work of your queso…try this. After reading this post and drooling on my keyboard, I might have to try it as well.

Back to buttermilk…the possibilities are endless with this cake.  This recipe is definitely one I will be experimenting with.  It lends itself to fruit additions perfectly, but I would be willing to try chocolate pieces and various nuts as well.  Pecans and walnuts would be tasty.

Buttermilk Cake #2

I absolutely love almond, so next I tried a cake with chopped almonds in the batter and a sprinkle of the almond paste on top as I did this last time.  I used 1/3 white and 1/3 brown sugar in this cake, 2 ounces of chopped toasted almonds in the batter and about 2 ounces of crumbled almond paste on top.


Foodie Fight!: Trivial Pursuit for Food Lovers

I got Foodie Fight (please pronounce Fight as you would in Street Fighter) for Christmas last year from my sister.  I’m not sure where she found it, but you can find it online.  The best price I’ve seen is on Amazon.  A new game is as low as $9.25 and the used ones are going for $4.74!  For that price its worth it just to have sitting in your game cupboard or sitting out to induce conversation.


I have yet to get people excited about playing this game with me.  The three times, that’s right, THREE, someone has agreed to play with me it has been out of sheer pity.  I personally think that people are intimidated by my vast food knowledge…ha!  I know more about food than the average person, but I have been stumped by some of these questions.  There are questions that ask about the science of food or nutrition facts that I’m not so good at.  Other questions are about food brands or fast food restaurants that a lot of people would know.  Then there are the etiquite questions that I struggle with.  Texting at dinner is inapppropriate?  Who knew?  I did know that actually, but I have been out with people who did not.  There are questions about authors of food books, or singer/songwriters who referred to a food or dish in a song.  So, like trivial pursuit, if you have a well balanced team with different trivial assets, then the game is pretty fun.

You can play with the cute little dinner plate game boards, or you can just ask questions without keeping score.  That is a more fun and less formal way to use the game that can lead to some pretty entertaining discussions and possibly a heated discussion about whether the question referred to particular liquor or a mixed drink…it has happened folks, it has happened to me in the last 24 hours…and the argument that followed was not pretty.

Here are a few sample questions.  If you think you know the answers, then post them in the comments…let’s see if you are as much of an educated “foodie” you think you are.  Answers will be posted (for the 5 of you who read this) Friday morning.  There are no prizes involved…

1.  How many fresh tart cherries does it take to make a cherry pie?  about 150, about 250 or about 350 cherries?

2.  What does R.S.V.P. stand for on an invitation?  Respond regrets only, respond either way, or a response is optional?

3.  What chocolate covered treat made of marshmallow and vanilla cookie appears in the 1997 novel She Comes Undone and the 1989 move When Harry Met Sally?

4.  How many cups are in a quart?

5.  What politician, evoking the plight of single mothers on a campaign stop in 2000, said, “Working hard to put food on your famliy”?

Buy the game.  It’s fun.  It’s a great gift for the foodies in your life and a pretty fun game for non-foodies as well.

Dinner Rush: Shrimp with Mango Sauce and Quinoa Salad

The school year is about to begin!  My first day of teacher prep began today, so my casual lifestyle with tons of free time is about to come to an abrupt and unpleasant end.  Taking 8 months off from work to take a couple of part time jobs was pretty great.  It enabled me to move in to our new house and spend time getting things organized and just like I wanted them, running errands as needed, going to the gym whenever I wanted to, playing with the dog, baking and cooking without time restraints, perusing the Internet at my leisure and blogging whenever I pleased!  These days are sadly over.  I will miss you, my lazy life.

I must somehow move on to my new life with a positive attitude and a determination to somehow manage a full time job and the rest of the things I need and want to do.  Hold on, there are women who have more demanding jobs than I do, AND they have children, AND they’re members of groups and clubs, AND they take care of their house, AND they cook dinner, AND do laundry, AND blog!  If they can do it, then measly little me can do it!

I will not allow my new Monday thru Friday, 8-5 (or 6 some days) job keep me from making dinner on the weeknights.  I will also not stoop to macaroni and cheese from a box or putting a frozen pizza in the oven.  I WILL make real dinner!  So, every week I will make, review and blog about quick and easy dinner recipes that can be accomplished by a full time working woman…like I will be as of August 24.


These recipes come from Epicurious Dinner Rush from issues of Gourmet and SELF.  They are both quite delicious.  The most time consuming thing about them is the chopping and prep.  I modified the quinoa recipe quite a bit after speaking with my wiser and younger sister, Sarah, who told me that the preparation of the quinoa in the actual recipe was a bit ridiculous.  I hadn’t ever used quinoa before, so I thought the process of washing it 5 times in cold water, cooking for 10 minutes in boiling water and then steaming it in a sieve for 10 minutes above the boiling water was normal!  Turns out, all you have to do is cook the quinoa as you would rice.  Hooray!  That little change made this dish much faster.

There is a recipe for lime and cumin dressing that goes with the salad, but I didn’t use it.  Instead of the olive oil based dressing, I simply tossed the salad with lime juice, cumin and some kosher salt.  I found the salad to be incredibly light and refreshing.  I thought about adding chopped tomatoes, but opted not to this time.  It would be delicious, though, so I may try it next time.  Here is the original recipe.

Shrimp is always a good choice for a quick meal.  Shrimp cooks quickly, just 2-3 per side, in a hot skillet.  The mango sauce has a great combination of flavors.  Sweet, spicy and perfect with the shrimp.  I served the sauce warm, but it would be good chilled also.  Here is the recipe from epicurious.

I served this meal with a few warmed corn tortillas, so Ben made shrimp tacos.  I liked it better without the tortillas, Ben liked his taco version better.  I think he likes when all the components of a meal come together in a nice little package.  He likes burritos, sandwiches, pizza, stromboli, lasagna, enchiladas, chimichangas and always seems to mix the food on his plate into a new casserole type dish.

This is a fairly quick recipe, and definitely a good choice for a weeknight dinner.