Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Favorite Flourless Chocolate Cake - Chocolate With Francois

I think my first experience with flourless chocolate cake was twenty or so years ago when I worked with a girl who had gluten allergies. Unlike today, when it seems everyone has some sort of food allergy, no one had ever heard of someone being allergic to flour.

As I was preparing to make this recipe, I realized I didn't have the bottom for my 9" springform pan. I think I left it at my mother in laws when I made her a cheesecake for her birthday. I did some research on using an 8" for a 9" recipe. 10 cups for an 9" and 8 cups for an 8". Perfect, I can put the extra in my mini cheesecake pans and save the balance to serve for dessert when friends come over next weekend. When I poured the 8 cups into the cheesecake pan, I didn't feel like there was enough batter in the pan, so I added one more cup. In the end, I think I could have used it all since these cakes don't rise.

Watch your cooking time very closely, flourless cakes can be dry. I tasted the mini one on the day I made it. It was just okay, a little sticky and not as rich in chocolate as I would have liked. I froze the larger one for about a week. This resulted in the perfect flourless chocolate cake, moist and fudgy, like a decadent chocolate brownie. This recipe is a keeper. It's easy and can be made in advance, the perfect dessert to serve at a dinner party.

Joanne at Apple Crumbles is our host this month. You can find the recipe on her blog.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Grilled Kohlrabi - CSA

I joined a CSA this year. For those of you who don't know, a CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. You find a local farm who basically sells "shares" of the farm in exchange for fresh produce and sometimes a little manual labor at the farm.
Early in the Spring, I started researching the local CSA's. Since there's just two of us, I needed find a farm that offered half shares. I wasn't having much luck and had almost given up when my husband sent me an email, Wenninghoff's Farm was offering to deliver CSA shares to my husband's work. Even better, they offered half shares. I was so thrilled, I'd found my CSA.

We're in our fifth week of the CSA and we're loving it. Today I am sharing with you a recipe from our first week, Grilled Kohlrabi. Kohlrabi isn't an every day vegetable, I think we'd eaten it once before a few years ago. Kohlrabi is available in green or purple and tastes like broccoli stems with a hint of cabbage flavor. The word kohlrabi is German for cabbage turnip (kohl as in cole-slaw, and rĂ¼be for turnip).

Grilled Kohlrabi

1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and cubed
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar

Toss the kohlrabi in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap in foil. Grill over medium heat for 45 minutes, until kohlrabi is tender. Remove from the foil. Adjust seasoning and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday and Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Asian Grilled Green Beans

I remember eating fresh green beans in the summer as a kid. Or at least I think they were green beans. Why is it a lot of my early veggie memories are of vegetables being cooked until they were almost mush? I remember my mom cooking green beans with onions and bacon for hours. I think I thought they were good but again I didn't know any better.

I soon realized green beans that aren't cooked for hours, are better than good, they're great! With the hot summer weather we've been having, anytime I can find a recipe suitable for the grill, it's a bonus! Since I didn't have any on hand, I omitted the fresh mushrooms. The red pepper flakes add a touch of heat and a nice kick to the green beans. This recipe is quick and easy, perfect for fresh green beans on a hot summer night!.

Asian Grilled Green Beans
Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 6 medium fresh mushrooms, quartered


  • In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Add the beans, onion and mushrooms; toss to coat.
  • Place half of the vegetables on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square); fold foil around vegetables and seal tightly. Repeat with remaining vegetables.
  • Grill, covered, over medium heat for 18-22 minutes or until beans are tender, turning packets over once. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Yield: 8 servings.
I am linking this to Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesday's at the Table, and Tasty Tuesday.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Molasses Coffee Marinated Pork Chops

When Tim and I first began camping this summer, we purchased a Coleman Road Trip Grill. Although I love food grilled over an open fire, it can be a bit challenging especially when the temperatures are in the 80's and 90's. We enjoyed these pork chops on our recent Fourth Of July camping trip. No doubt our fellow campers thought we were a bit strange, always photographing our food.

When I first shared this recipe with Tim, he was a bit skeptical. I must admit, I wasn't 100% sold either but the reviews were excellent. Alton doesn't usually serve up disappointing recipes. I've always been a big Alton fan although he was a bit of a jerk on a recent episode of Food Network Star. Maybe it's all of the weight he lost? I know for a fact, people with a few extra pounds are happier :).

This recipe is a keeper. The molasses marinade makes a rich and delicious sauce. As it cooks down it thickens and the flavor develops. I wanted to eat it by the spoonful. This would be wonderful on chicken or even ribs. Give this one a try, you won't be sorry!!!

Molasses Coffee Marinated Pork Chop

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

1 cup cool strong coffee
6 ounces molasses, by weight
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (6 to 8-ounce) bone-in, 1-inch thick pork chops


Place all of the ingredients into a 1-gallon zip top bag, seal, and shake to combine. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

Preheat grill to medium-high.

Remove the pork chops from the marinade. Transfer the marinade to a small saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high, and boil gently, stirring often, until reduced to about 1/2 cup liquid, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the thyme stems after the glaze has reduced. Meanwhile, grill pork chops 3 to 4 minutes per side or until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Allow the pork chops to rest 4 to 5 minutes before serving with the glaze.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday and Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

From The Good Life -

Over the 4th of July weekend, Tim and I camped at Prairie Rose State Park, one of our favorite state parks. Friday was hot and humid but Saturday brought cooler temperatures and the rest of the weekend was beautiful.

On Saturday, we took a drive to see the Bridges of Madison County. You know the ones from the movie with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. Tim was disappointed, he said he expected them to be larger, functioning bridges. After seeing the birthplace of John Wayne, we enjoyed a picnic lunch at the park in Winterset.

From Winterset we headed east to St. Charles to check out the Madison County Winery. It so happened on this particular day they were celebrating the grand opening of their brewery. Despite the crowd, we managed to belly up to the bar. We were served by the owners daughter who shared with us the bar was made from the crushed wine bottles her father had saved for 5 years. After tasting seven wines, we purchased a bottle of Summer Blonde, a semi sweet white wine.

Our travels then took us north to to Adel and Penoach Winery. The tasting room is in a 1917 barn. Not sure how many wines we tasted, our cordial host just keep saying oh try this one, now this one. We chose a Windmill Red, a red that reminded us of a Pinot Noir, which is quite unusual since Iowa wines tend to be sweeter. The last wine we tried was an apple wine made from local apples. We've tried apple wines before but this one had a touch of cinnamon. It will be wonderful to enjoy this wine, warm around the campfire this fall.

The balance of our holiday weekend was spent enjoying the beauty of Prairie Rose State Park!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wild Blueberry Chews - Cookie Carnival

This is my second month baking with Cookie Carnival. In addition to trying new cookie recipes, the thing I love most about this group is there is no certain posting date. Most of the groups I participate in have a set posting date. Sometimes it reminds me of a school assignment, it's almost due and I haven't even started!

The two recipe choices for Cookie Carnival this month were Wild Blueberry Chews and Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies. I chose The Wild Blueberry Chews because they seemed to be the healthier option, can you say that about cookies?

After mixing the recipe, my dough seemed dry so I added an additional tablespoon of water. The recipe calls for dropping the teaspoons of dough onto the cookie sheet. I used my medium size scoop. When I checked them at 11 minutes, they hadn't flatted at all. I quickly grabbed a fork and flattened them.

When you read the title of this recipe, you'd think these cookies are "chewy" but they're not or at least mine weren't. I love the tartness of the blueberries mixed with the sweetness of the chocolate and the crunch of the almonds! These cookies are delicious!

Thanks to Tami for hosting Cookie Carnival. You'll find a recap of all of the Cookie Carnival bloggers on her site after the end of July!

I am linking these to Tuesday's at the Table, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday , Tasty Tuesday's and
Sweet Tooth Friday.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Secret Recipe Club - Lavender Lemonade Martini

This is my second month participating in Secret Recipe Club. When I received the email with my assignment, I couldn't wait to see which blogger been chosen for me. I was assigned Creative Culinary. What a lovely and delicious blog!

On a Saturday morning I sat at my computer scrolling through the hundreds of recipes on Creative Culinary. As I was scanning the recipes, I ran across many things familiar to me. There were posts of recipes from Nordstrom's Cafe, drinks from Yia Yia's and several versions of St. Louis Butter Cake. I started out with a list of six recipes: Nutella Fudge Brownies, Potato Chip Cookies, Lavender Lemonade Martini, Best Coffee Cake Ever, Hamburger Baked Bean Casserole and Olive Oil & Rosemary Cake.

I've been wanting to bake with Nutella! Potato chip cookies sound so fun. Who can pass up a martini? The casserole would be perfect for camping! My rosemary is growing like crazy. Which recipe to choose?

Inspired by Tim's and my recent trip to the Missouri Valley Lavender Farm, I chose the Lavender Lemonade Martini.A couple of summers ago I made some lavender simple syrup to use for cocktails. I think it ended up in the back of the fridge and not in the cocktails. Infused simple syrup is perfect for cocktails. It adds sweetness, along with a nice hint of lavender. This is a perfect summer cocktail or if you prefer, this makes a refreshing lavender lemonade.

Lavender Lemonade Martini

Recipe Courtesy of Creative Culinary
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 6-8 sprigs of lavender
  • sugar for rimming
  • Vodka, preferably chilled
  • lemon slices and lavender sprigs for garnish (optional)

Preparation Instructions

  1. Add sugar to water in pot on stove and bring to boil; cook only until sugar is dissolved. Add lavender sprigs and allow to cool completely.
  2. Put lemon juice in pitcher and strain lavender/sugar water into same pitcher.
  3. Add cup of ice to pitcher and stir well.
  4. Use a lemon slice to wet the edge of a martini glass. Rim the edge with sugar. I typically put a layer of sugar on a saucer and dip the top edge in it.
  5. Add ice to the glass and fill 2/3 with lemonade.
  6. Add 1/2 to a full shot of vodka, stir. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cake Batter Ice Cream

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! We'd planned to take a camping trip to a state park about an hour west of Omaha. The hot weather, heat indexes of over 110, caused us to change our mind and stay home. The unexpected weekend at home left me with the time and motivation to cook and bake all sorts of summer treats!

If you live in the Midwest, you may be familiar with Sheridan's Frozen Custard. Sheridan's is a Kansas City based custard company with locations in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois and few other states across the US. I was thrilled when our first Omaha location opened a few years ago! My favorite treat at Sheridan's is a Be My Cupcake Concrete. My husband loves it when we go to the drive through and he get's to order the "Be My Cupcake" for me! It's a frozen treat made with vanilla custard, white cake and sprinkles.

I was looking for a similar treat to make at home, when I found this recipe for Cake Batter Ice Cream. Instead of cake and custard mixed together, cake mix is used for the cake batter flavor. In reading the comments on this recipe, I found a couple of people who used skim milk and half and half instead of heavy cream and whole milk. Awesome, anything I can to do to make ice cream a little less bad for you works for me. Several people also commented the recipe was a little lacking in flavor, so they added more cake mix. I used 1 cup of cake mix and 1 tablespoon of vanilla paste.

My cuisinart ice cream maker is several years old and just didn't seem to be freezing properly anymore, so I'd been thinking about getting a new one. A few weeks ago, while browsing the shelves at Goodwill, I found a Cooks Essentials for $7.99. It looked brand new, I am not sure it had ever been used. My new ice cream maker made the perfect consistency of ice cream! Gotta love a bargain!!

While it was freezing, I spooned out a taste. OMG this is so good! I had to make myself back away, I could have continued to spoon out way too many tastes. I can't wait to try a chocolate version of this recipe!

I love ice cream socials. As a kid, we always had an ice cream social at church to celebrate the end of Vacation Bible School. They were always so fun. Today I am participating in two ice cream socials in the blogsphere. Suzy at Kitchen Bouquet is having her third Ice Cream Social Weekend. I particpated last year with these Key Lime Ice Cream Sandwiches! In celebration of National Ice Cream Day, La at A Musing Potpourri is also having an ice cream social.


Cake Batter Ice Cream

Recipe adapted from All Recipes
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim milk)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used a tablespoon of vanilla paste)
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (I used half and half)
  • 3/4 cup yellow cake mix, sifted (I used 1 cup)


  1. Whisk together milk, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, cream, and cake mix in a saucepan until well blended. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture reaches 160 degrees F (70 degrees C), stirring frequently. Remove from heat and place in the refrigerator or freezer until liquid is cold.
  2. Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions until it reaches "soft-serve" consistency. Transfer ice cream to a one- or two-quart lidded plastic container; cover surface with plastic wrap and seal. For best results, ice cream should ripen in the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bobby Flay's Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

This month's celebrity cook along over at Happier Than A Pig in Mud features Bobby Flay. Are you a Bobby Flay fan? Is it me or has Bobby mellowed a bit the past couple of years? Maybe, like me, people were finding him a bit arrogant. Whether or not you like him, one thing is for sure, the man can grill!

When I was planning our meals for Fourth of July weekend, I found Bobby's recipe for Sweet Potato salad. Tim's not a traditional potato salad fan. Since potato salad is synonymous with 4th of July, this recipe was perfect. I'd been wanting to try sweet potato salad!

The flavors in this salad are delicious. The sharpness of the balsamic vinegar, the sweetness of the potatoes and the salty bacon all compliment each other. This salad gets better after it sits a day or two and the dressing has a chance to soak into the potatoes.

Grilled Sweet Potato Salad with Bacon & Herb Vinaigrette
Recipe Courtesy of Bobby Flay

3 large sweet potatoes
1 T. plus 1/4 cup olive oil
8 oz bacon, diced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 t. fresh thyme, finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup canola oil

1. In a large pot of salted water, boil the potatoes until just cooked but not completely soft, 25 - 30 minutes, depending on the size. Test by piercing a potato with a thin bamboo skewer. (I used a fork) When the skewer meets some resistance but can slide all the way through, the potatoes are ready. Drain them immediately; set aside and let cool.

2. Heat grill to medium.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saute pan over high heat. Add the bacon; cook until golden brown and crispy. (I didn't add the olive oil) Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.

4. Return the pan to the heat, adding the shallots to the rendered fat, cook until golden brown and slightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. (I skimmed off most of the remaining bacon fat) Add the vinegar and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil, herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

5. Cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices; brush both sides of the potato slices with canola oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill until slightly charred on both sides and just cooked through, about 5 minutes total.

6. Place the potatoes in a bowl while they're still warm and gently toss with the dressing. Sprinkle with the crispy bacon. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thanks to Lynn at Happier Than A Pig in Mud for another fun Celebrity Cook Along! In addition, I am linking to Foodie Friday and Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In My Garden

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Santa Fe Noodle Bake

When Kraft first introduced Philadephia Cooking Cream, I received a coupon for a free tub. I knew I wanted to use it for some type of pasta dish. Inspired by some of the other noodle dishes I've made, I decided to make a noodle casserole. The cooking cream is a good substitute for sour cream or cottage cheese. If you have kids or are in the mood for comfort food, this dish is for you!!!

Santa Fe Noodle Bake

  • 1 tub Philadelphia Santa Fe Blend Cooking Cream
  • 1-¼ pound Ground Chuck
  • 1 can 15-ounces Rotel Tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 8 ounces, Egg Noodles
  • 1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground chuck in a large skillet. Drain fat, then add tomato sauce. 1/2 teaspoon salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir, then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

Cook egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine Philadelphia Cooking Cream and meat mixture. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Add to noodles and stir.

To assemble, add half of the noodle and meat mixture to a casserole. Top with half the cheese. Repeat with noodles and meat mixture and top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, or until all cheese is melted.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesday, Tuesday's at the Table and Tuesday Night Supper Club.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Meet Me On Monday

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! There's no official Meet Me on Monday over at Never Growing Old today. I decided to go back and answer the questions from one before I started participating.

1. What do you put on your hot dog?
Mustard! About the only time I eat a hot dog is at a summer baseball game!

2. Do you play Sudoku?
Nope! Words with Friends and Angry Birds for me!

3. What is your favorite vegetable?
This is a hard one. I love vegetables. There's hardly any I don't like. I guess it would be asparagus!

4. Do you color your hair?
Violet red. Think Sharon Osborne, only not as violet!

5. What is your favorite brand of clothing?
I am more of a bargain than brand shopper. My favorite brand is whatever pair of jeans fit me!

How about you, what's your favorite veggie?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pink Saturday

Happy Pink Saturday!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lemon, Rosemary and Balsamic Grilled Chicken

In the summer we grill at least two nights a week. There's always chicken in my fridge and I'm frequently looking for new ways to grill it. I love it when I find a recipe that uses ingredients I have in my kitchen. Even better when it uses one of the herbs from my herb garden. This recipe does both of those things and it's delicious.

Lemon, Rosemary and Balsamic Grilled Chicken
Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons thinly sliced garlic
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 chicken thighs (I used chicken breasts)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a medium bowl combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, rosemary, garlic, lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine and pour into a 1-gallon resealable food storage plastic bag. Put the chicken thighs in the bag and seal it. Turn to ensure that the chicken is evenly coated, then refrigerate, turning occasionally, for 2 to 4 hours.

Preheat a grill to medium-low and brush the grates lightly with an oil soaked cloth. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Season the chicken well on all sides with salt and pepper, then place on the grill, skin side down. Cook the chicken about 8 to 10 minutes, turn and continue to cook an additional 8 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the heat and serve while hot.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum and Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday!

From The Good Life - Tempo of Twilight

Omaha's botanical garden, Lauritzen Garden's has a concert series in the summer called Tempo of Twilight. Each concert features a different Omaha 70's or 80's cover band. On this particular night, we were treated to the tunes of The Fabulous Rogues. We enjoyed a bottle of wine and a picnic dinner in the beautiful setting of the garden's courtyard.

The garden is also featuring an exhibit of large scale ceramic sculptures by artist Jun Kaneko.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Graduation Candy Pops

A few weeks ago I was looking to make something fun for Mike's graduation party! I found this recipe for graduation pops on Bakerella's blog. When Mike saw them, he said "crafty"! We all laughed about the different meanings of "crafty". In this case, I am hoping he meant that in a good way.

You'll find the assembly instructions here! I used red hots for the tops and Ghirardelli chocolate squares for the mortarboards. These were easy to make. The most challenging part was finding all of the ingredients.

I am linking this to Tuesday's at the Table, Tasty Tuesday's and Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!

Friday, July 1, 2011

NY Style Crumb Muffins & A New Baking Group

One of my favorite baking groups, Sweet Melissa Sunday's is coming to an end. We're baking two recipes for the next couple of months, with our last recipe in August. Besides Melissa's great recipes, the reason I've enjoyed this group so much is the other bakers. It's such a great group of women! I was thrilled when Karen from Karen's Cookies Cakes and More suggested we bake our way through Matt Lewis's Baked Explorations. I'd been wanting to buy this cookbook and now I have a really good reason to buy it! Not that I need another cookbook, I am not sure what the count is these days but I know it's way over 100.

When I read through the recipe for the NY Style Crumb Cake, I quickly realized this wasn't a low fat recipe. 2 1/2 sticks of butter? I knew this much butter would bring two things, a delicious cake and way too many calories! My solution, cut the recipe in half. When reading Karen's comments on the recipe, I noticed she'd had a failure with an 8" pan. Thinking maybe the pan was too small, I sent Karen an email and inquired about using a 9" pan. She quickly responded that the 8" pan was too big and I needed to use something smaller. I decided to use my large muffin tins.

Not being from New York, I was curious what a New York style Crumb Cake was. I think it's what we call a Coffee Cake in the Midwest. My crumb topping didn't seem to be sticking together enough to make these big crumbs. I didn't have the time or the patience to make a bunch of large crumbs, so I went with the topping as it was. There were some large crumbs, otherwise it was like a cake topping. My half recipe made 5 muffins. A couple were pretty large, so I think I could have made 6 muffins. I had quite a bit of topping leftover, which I saved for the next fruit crumble.

The recipe called for 60 minutes of baking time. I set the timer for 30 minutes and when I checked them, I was a little surprised to find they were done. I think they could have baked for 20 - 25 minutes. As the muffins rose, the topping spread out and in the end I didn't end up with as much crumb topping as I would have liked. That's probably why I have so much leftover!!!

OMG! These are so good. They have such a nice tender crumb and the flavor is delicious!
You can find the recipe here on Karen's blog and the links to the other Baked bakers's here!

I am linking this to Foodie Friday, Sweet Tooth Friday and Full Plate Thursday!