Friday, September 9, 2011

Home Made Pop Tarts

Who didn't have a Pop Tart every once and a while growing up?  Good cold, but better warm...

I decided to make home made pop tarts!  There are all kinds of recipes out there, but I took a shortcut and used refrigerated pie dough. I made a variety of strawberry, blueberry and brown sugar filled pop tarts with icing and sprinkles!

Ingredients (Makes about 8-12 tarts):
Dough: 2 packages of refrigerated pie dough (2 rolls of dough per pack)
Strawberry Filling: Smuckers Strawberry Preserves
Blueberry Filling: Smuckers Blueberry Preserves
Brown Sugar Filling: 3/4  cup of brown sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon and 4 Tablespoons of Flour
Icing:  Confectioner's Sugar, Milk (just a little).

  • I rolled each sheet of pie dough out a little bit (total of 4 sheets) and then cut out the square shape using a special pop tart press from Williams and Sonoma - More Details here. Each roll of dough will make about 4 squares, or 2 whole tarts (with excess for re-rolling - you can make more once you re-roll). 
  • Brush a little egg around the outside of the square
  • Fill the inside with your filling of choice (not to much - about 1-2 Tablespoons)
  • Press one of the dough squares on top of the one you just filled
  • Crimp the edges or use the pop tart press to make it look professional
  • Continue and Repeat
  • Bake in the Oven for 25 minutes on 350 degrees and brush milk on them at the 10 minute mark
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling
  • Make the frosting by mixing 1-2 cups of confectioners sugar and a couple Tablespoons of milk until it reaches the right consistency (should be thick)
  • Frost your pop tarts (I put the frosting in a Ziploc bag, and the cut the tip off and used it as a piping bag)
  • Add Sprinkles as desired

You are done. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Poolside Lunch: Smokey Tomato Orzo and Mozzarella, Pesto Panini

Yesterday, I was planning my menu for a girls lunch at my pool (with my 7 best girlfriends: Melissa, Allison, Stephanie, Sarah, Rachel, Marin and Sheryl).  With my new "twitter" account, I sent Giada DeLaurentiis (@GDeLaurentiis) a note asking her what she recommended for a vegetarian girls lunch by the pool (Rachel and Marin aren't carnivores like the rest of  us). To my surprise, she wrote back within an hour that she recommended her Orzo with Smokey Tomato Sauce.  You can find the recipe at this Link.

The secret ingredient is Smoked Salt. I had never heard of smoked salt before, but heard you could buy it at Whole Foods.  I went to Publix and didn't find it, next stop World Market and didn't find it...last ditch effort in the same shopping center - TJ Max HomeGoods, and it was there in the specialty foods section!  This recipe is INCREDIBLE.  I served it cold. I made according to the recipe except I used one pint of grape tomatoes and one pint of cherry instead of both cherry.  The honey is a great touch!

To go along with the Smokey Tomato Orzo, I made Panini sandwiches.  I bought 2 fresh baguette loaves and split each in half length wise.  I spread each side with a pesto and basil mixture (from the refrigerated section - 1 container) and then layered fresh mozzarella slices, basil slices, tomato slices, portobello mushroom slices (marinated in balsamic vinegar and olive oil and then lightly cooked in a pan).  I then put a little olive oil on the outside of the bread and put them in my panini press (I cut each sandwhich into 4 slices for a total of 8 sandwhiches). I then served cold.

Lemon Bars for dessert!  It was great! 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Double Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

I recently joined the 21st century, and opened a Twitter account.  I now "follow" all kinds of nonsense -   A quote I saw this week on Twitter by Foodimentry " Don't wreck a sublime chocolate experience, by feeling guilty." might feel a little guilty after eating this cake. It is INCREDIBLE AND INCREDIBLY EASY...Double Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.

OK, so I'll admit it upfront. I used a boxed chocolate cake mix...but sometimes those work better.  Just make sure you use one of the "extra moist" extra chocolaty varieties.  I made the mix according to the package directions and poured it into two, 8 inch cake pans (very well greased and floured pans), and baked for 30 minutes according to package directions (350 degrees usually).

Once cooled, I frosted the cakes with the bestest chocolate frosting.

Frosting Recipe:
1 stick of butter, softened
8 oz of cream cheese, softened
1 box of confectioners sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
About 1/2 cup of melted chocolate, (slightly cooled) - use more or less depending on how dark or light you want your frosting
1-2 Tablespoons of milk to loosen it as you mix it

Mix the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla, and then add the confectioners sugar and finally the melted chocolate. Mix with an electric mixer and refrigerate until ready to use.

To frost the cakes:

After the cakes have cooled for about 10 minutes, pop them out of the pans, and then let cool completely (1-2 hours or so).  Once cooled, slightly cut the "dome" off the cakes with a serrated knife so you have 2 flat even that excess for the "decoration" or just eat it or throw it out (see top of cake in picture for how I used it) :)

Put a good amount of frosting in the middle and stack the cakes together and then frost the top and outside. IMPORTANT: Work quickly or the frosting will get too soft.

Once frosted, let firm up in the fridge before slicing.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pan-Fried Onion Dip with the Wednesday Sisters

Pan-Fried Onion Dip with Stacy's Pita Chips

I read this in paperback at the pool today

Set in the 1960s, The Wednesday Sisters, by Meg Waite Clayton  is about a group of five very different women, who become friends through a Wednesday meeting in the park with their kids.  As they become friends, they encourage each other to become more than just housewives, and begin to write essays, articles and novels, and provide feedback to each other during their weekly meetings. As they get to know each other better, they watch the Miss America Pageant each year together, and begin to become friends "outside of the park."   I have to admit, I did not love this book - it was ok, and a little slow in parts. I think it would be a great book club type book though.  You can learn more about the book at:

During the Miss America Pageant that the women would religiously watch each year, they drank Vodka Gimlets, Gin and Tonics and Sidecars.  They also brought casseroles, lemon bars, chips and french onion dip (you know the kind we all love - sour cream mixed with Lipton Onion Soup mix).

So, I decided to bring the onion dip to 2011 and make Ina Garten's Pan-Fried Onion Dip.  You can find the recipe at

I did a few things different from Ina:

1) I used half the amount of oil and butter to pan-fry the onions.  Instead of 1/4 cup of oil and 4 Tablespoons of butter, I used 2 Tablespoons of Oil and 2 Tablespoons of butter...that is plenty.
2) I caramelized the onions longer than the recipe calls for.  Instead of 10 minutes on medium heat and 20 minutes on low heat, I did 10 minutes on medium heat and then 50 minutes on low will make a big difference, I promise.  Just come and check on them every 10 minutes or so.
3)  It's a very rich dip, so I used regular Hellman's mayonnaise as the recipe calls for, but then I used reduced fat sour cream (Daisy) and 1/3 less fat cream cheese instead of will still be VERY indulgent tasting.

A tasty dip, and it adds a little change to the "old school" french onion dip.

Enjoy, and happy dipping!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Pass the Pasta Please - Sun-dried tomato corkscrew pasta

If you are looking for a great, cold summer pasta salad, this is the one for you.  It's Ina Garten's recipe for Pasta with Sun-dried tomatoes. You can find the recipe at: 

It tastes even better refridgerated overnight.  Ina says to use spirals, but the best pasta for this are "Corkscrews." (Mueller's makes them). The huge pasta shapes make your pasta salad look and taste that much better. Also, salt your water fairly heavily so your pasta is very tasty. Because I salt the water, (which makes the pasta taste good, not salty), and I use the capers in the dressing, and all the parmesan cheese, I do not add additional salt which she calls for.  Believe me, it will be salty enough if you do this.

Be careful - her recipe only calls for 8 oz of dried pasta, which is HALF a 16 oz box.  If you make the whole box, you will have an enormous amount, and you will need to double all the other ingredients.

I get great reviews for this pasta salad. I made it on Mother's Day this year, and I'm bringing to a BBQ tonight.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything - You'll won't need any help to remember this Banana Bread Cobbler

Banana Bread Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream

I got the "Kindle Version" of this book, and I read it at Folly Beach, SC over Memorial Day Weekend

Can you remember your grocery list perfectly, without writing it down? I can. Can you remember the names of everyone you meet at a party? I can. I recently read, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer, which was a thought provoking book about the history of Memory, and the lost art of memorization.  The book is less of a "self help" type book, but rather the fascinating true story of an average man who sets out to win the US Memory Championship, and his journey along the way. 

I really enjoyed this book, and it brought back memorization techniques I had learned in 9th grade in Mrs. Taafe's psychology course.  The author proposes that all of us have untapped potential in our brains, and "we all have remarkable capacities asleep inside of us. If only we bothered ourselves to awaken them."  While one can become a master of these techniques, I'm not sure how useful it is in the world of blackberries, outlook calendars and i-phones.  In fact, I try to get everything out of my head into one of these "memory aids" so I do not have to remember anything.  The book was incredibly interesting, but in the last few pages of the book, I learned the most from Foer's comments: "Remembering can only happen if you decide to take notice."  Sometimes, you just have to pay attention!

Since this was a book about Memory, I thought about cooking something with one of the top foods to enhance your memory. There are lots of site's which provide this type of information such as:

However, I decided to think of a "food memory" from when I was younger.  The smell of a ripe banana will usually bring back this memory. No over-freckled banana was ever safe in my house growing up.  As soon as a few slightly overripe bananas had accumulated, but mom made them into Banana Bread...she never used a recipe so each banana bread was unique...some better than others with a new pinch of this, or that, added in.  This seemed to happen at least twice per month!

So, I decided to make a Banana Bread Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream from my Southern Living Magazine - Best Recipes of 2010

1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 medium-size ripe bananas, sliced
Streusel Topping - recipe below
Vanilla Ice Cream

Streusel Topping Ingredients:
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup uncooked regular oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1) Make the Streusel Topping and set aside. To make it, follow these steps:
  • Stir together the 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup self-rising flour, and 1/2 cup butter, softened until crumbly using a fork or your hands. Then mix in the oats and pecan
2) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together 1 cup self-rising flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk just until blended; whisk in melted 1/2 cup butter.  Then pour batter into a lightly greased 11x7 inch baking dish. Top with the banana slices, and sprinkle with the Streusel Topping.

3) Once the Banana Bread Cobbler cools slightly, scoop the vanilla ice cream into bowls and top with big spoonfuls of the cobbler.

Surely, a memory you won't forget!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Enjoy Mother's Day with Strawberry Shortcut Cake

Strawberry Shortcut Cake

A slice of deliciousness

I made a Mother's Day lunch today and it was great!  For dessert, I made a Strawberry Shortcut Cake, and I got the recipe from Pat and Gina Neely on the food network.  The recipe can be found at:

This cake is moist, light and DELICIOUS!

The reason it is called a "shortcut" cake is because you use a strawberry cake mix (I used Duncan Hines) as the base, follow the instructions on the box, and bake the cake.  The recipe calls to bake it in a rectangular pan.  I used a Spring Form 9 inch pan instead, which allowed all the layers to show through and was very easy to unmold!  I baked the cake in the greased and floured pan for about 40 minutes. 

As the recipe says, after the cake had cooled, I poked holes all over the top of the cake with a straw, and then I poured over the top of the cake, the somewhat set, strawberry gelatin (I made the jello according to the box directions and let it firm up to thickened liquid, but not solid or chunky).  Then you add a layer of sliced strawberries which you have previously marinated in sugar and cognac.  I used Grand Marnier to add a little orange/cognac flavor.

I let the cake refrigerate over night (I think this makes it extra moist and good) and before serving, I took the Spring Form ring off the cake (it was so pretty with all the layers showing), let it stay on the Spring Form pan base, and then whipped up a cup of heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/4 cup powdered sugar until I got a medium stiff whipped cream and spread on top of the cake. For garnish, I fanned a strawberry.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Outliers: Food for Thought with Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs

Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs with Chocolate

I recently read the book, Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.  I'd read The Tipping Point before, and thought Gladwell was a fairly insightful writer.  In a nut shell, the book is about why certain people, or groups of people are successful.  He identifies trends to help explain why certain people get the "lucky" breaks, and certain don't.  His 10,000 hour theory is interesting - while timing and luck are critical, those who get the lucky break, all had practiced for 10,000 + hours in their field, whether it be hockey, violin, or golf.  A thought provoking read - or at least a little "food for thought."  You can find out more about the book at:

Along the lines of "food for thought," I thought I would make a "brain food" on this post.  I found a site about the Top 5 Brain Health Foods and 2 of them include Chocolate and Berries.  Chocolate, strawberries, in addition to blueberries and acai berries, are very high in antioxidants. The "darker" the chocolate, the better it is for you.

I decided to make Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs!

2 containers of strawberries
1 container of Baker's Dipping Chocolate - (Dark Chocolate)
1 vanilla creme cake, cubed
Bamboo Skewers

1) Purchase bamboo skewers (found near the grilling supplies at the grocery store)
2) Cut the tops off the strawberries and hull (take a knife to take out the little hard inside of the strawberry)
3) I purchased a pre-made vanilla creme cake from the bakery section at Publix and cut into large cubes about the same size of a large strawberry
* Note: You could also use the pre-made strawberry shortcake molds or pound cake
4) Alternate strawberries and cake (about 4 strawberries and 3 cubes of cake) onto each skewer
5) Melt the chocolate in the microwave. (Following directions on the container of chocolate - you basically microwave 30 seconds, mix, 30 seconds, mix, 30 seconds, mix well)
6) Pour melted chocolate into a zip lock bag
7) Cut a small end of the bottom corner of the bag and squeeze the chocolate over the kabobs for easy drizzling
8) Chill to harden and until ready to serve

These have a great presentation, are light, and you get your antioxidants in (food for thought!) in with the chocolate and strawberries!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Water for Elephants: Read with Scrambled Eggs for Breakfast

I purchased this book on my Kindle

I read the book Water for Elephants, by Sarah Gruen and it was a very entertaining book! I read it on my flight to Denver and back on my kindle.  The book is set in the 1920's during prohibition, and the narrator tells the story of his journey in the traveling circus of the Benzini Brothers.  It's also educational as well, as I was able to understand more about the traveling circus of the early 1900s....quite different from the Circus which comes to the arenas today.  I recommend for anyone looking for an entertaining book!  You can find more about Water for Elephants at

One thing about the circus workers back in the day, was that they worked for minimal wages, a place to sleep (rail car) and 3 big meals a day, which were fairly extravagant for the setting.

There is a lot of information about the Circus in America, which travevled by rail, at the following website: There is also good information about the food for the traveling circus workers

Big breakfasts were a staple of the circus worker's diet back then.  In the book, they reference this:

"And how are you this fine day?" says August.  He digs into a pile of scrambled eggs.

So, I decided to make the "Perfect Scrambled Eggs" by Tyler Florence: 

Tyler Florence's recipe for Perfect Scrambled Eggs takes about 10 minutes to cook over very low heat, but the end result are the best scrambled eggs you've ever eaten!  You basically whisk the eggs with a small amount of cream or half & half and then cook with a little butter over the low heat.  Tyler's recipe calls for sliced Avocados on the side, although I'm sure the circus performers ate them plain :). I garnished the eggs with chives, and since I had quite a lot of leftover chives, I whipped them with some cream cheese and put on a toasted english muffin.


Monday, April 11, 2011

It's your lucky day! "Hidden Thin Mint" Cookies for St. Patty's Day!

I made these cookies on St. Patty's day and I forgot to post them. By popular request, here there are!

1 box of yellow extra moist cake mix
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 stick of butter, melted
1 cup of chocolate chips (or more if you want!)
1/4 cup brown sugar
Green food coloring
Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
2) Mix together the cake mix, eggs, brown sugar, melted butter and vanilla. Stir by hand until the dough forms.
3) Add lots of green food coloring until the dough is the color green you want
4) Stir in the chocolate chips
5) Refrigerate the dough for an hour or so until it is firm and easier to handle
6) Take a small spoonful of dough (maybe about a Tbsp) and roll into a ball and then flatten so you have a disc.  Place a Thin Mint cookie on top (it should be about the same size as the flattened dough ball so just a little dough shows.  Take the same size amount of dough and repeat and place on top of the Thin Mint cookie.
7) Use your hands to seal the edges of the cookie so the Thin Mint is hidden
8) Bake about 9-10 minutes (they should look a little raw) and take out of the oven
9) Let cookies sit on the baking sheet for 2 minutes
10) Remove the cookies and let cool.

YUM!  I brought these cookies to work and everyone loved them!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

2011 - Read The Power with these Shot Glass Desserts

Dessert Shot Glasses for New Year's Eve 2011

The Power - by Rhonda Byrne
 Cheers to 2011!  I'm a little behind in my postings in 2011, but I wanted to get in a post while it is still the month of January! I'm not sure where the month of January went, but it is almost February, which is a fun month of birthdays for my friends and family!

For 2011, I decided my New Year Resolution would be to see the positive in things more often. I randomly saw the book, The Power, by Rhonda Byrne while wandering Costco (when bored, I go there way too often).  It's the same author who wrote The Secret, another popular book in the self help category. I've never read The Secret, but I figured I'd jump right into the sequel.  Overall, the book is about how to see life through a different angle, through feelings, and positive energy.  While at times, a little "new wave," it is definitely a worthwhile read.  The premise is that if you give off positive energy, it will be returned through "the universe" back to you as all energy is related and intertwined. Each chapter of the book has a summary of the high points and has several quotes throughout the book from famous leaders and thinkers.

One of my favorite quotes in the book:

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."

Martha Washington (1732-1802)
First Lady, Wife of George Washington
First President of the United States

You can learn more about the book at:

On New Year's Eve, I brought different dessert shot glasses (inspired by the Seasons 52
 Mini Indulgences dessert shot glasses)

The Mini Indulgences at Seasons 52 Restaurant in Atlanta
I made three kinds:
1) Key Lime Pie with Graham Cracker Crust
2) Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
3) S'more Inspired Layers

Where to find the shot glasses: I purchased small plastic shot glasses at the "dollar store" and it was about $1 for 20 glasses - I bought three packs. You can also use glass shot glasses, or they make special dessert shot glasses if you are making a smaller quantity. These were 1.25 oz glasses, but I think it would work even better if you can find 1.5-2 oz glasses.

Key Lime Pie:
  1. I purchased a pre-made key lime pie from the bakery section at Publix and used that as the pie filling.  I layered in graham cracker crumbs (you can buy a box of graham cracker crumbs in the grocery store where they sell the pre-made pie crusts). 
  2. I scooped out all the key lime pie filling and put into a zip lock bag, and cut a small tip off
  3. I then put in a spoon of graham cracker crumbs into the shot glass, and then piped in the filling, and repeated until the glass was filled.
  4. I garnished before serving with cool whip and a lime wedge
* Note:  Next time, I would mix melted butter into the crumbs and then press into the glasses instead of just putting the cookie crumbs in dry.

Red Velvet Cake:
  1. I purchased a pre-made red velvet cake from the bakery section at Publix and used that as the cake filling.  I layered in a homemade cream cheese frosting in between the cake.
  2. To make the frosting, you basically use a mixer to mix a softened block of cream cheese with 3/4 a stick of softened butter, a box of confectioner's sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla. I put the icing in a zip lock bag and cut a small tip off to pipe in.
  3. I took a small spoonful of the cake and put into the glass and then pressed it down (you kind of have to pack it in) and then alternated between cake and icing until full.  I garnished with more icing on the top and red velvet crumbs.

  1. I layered graham cracker crumbs, then marshmallow fluff (piped in using zip lock technique), then jarred chocolate fudge sauce, then repeat.
  2. The marshmallow fluff is sticky, so you may want to mix the fluff with something like cool whip to loosen it up (next time I will do this).
  3. Garnish with cool whip and marshmallows/chocolate chips - whatever you want.
* Note: I would also add melted butter to the graham cracker crumbs and pack them into the glass vs. putting the crumbs in dry next time.

More Pictures: