Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Pâte à Choux

Pâte à choux dough is a very easy and fun to make dough that can be piped and baked into cream puffs (as my pictures display), eclairs or even paris-brest.  They are best filled with pastry cream, custard, chiboust cream... or even just sweetened whipped cream if you are short on time like me. :)


8 oz. Milk (1 cup)
8 oz. Water (1 cup)
Pinch of Salt
8 oz. Butter, cubed (1 cup- 2 sticks)
12 oz. Bread flour
1 lb. Eggs

Bring the milk, water, salt and butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the butter is melted add the flour all at once and vigorously stir and break up all the flour chunks in the mass of dough as it cooks. Once the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan (about 3 minutes) turn off the heat. 

Transfer dough to your mixer. With the paddle attachment mix the dough for a few minutes to cool it down. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, and beat them until smooth before adding each addition. 

Scoop dough into your pastry bag (outfitted with a tip that has a large opening). Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper. Pipe the dough into cookie dough sized balls for cream puffs, thick lines for eclairs and thick rings for paris-brest. 

Bake at 400º F until golden brown- about 15-20 minutes depending on your oven and how many pans you have in at the same time. 

Cool completely before filling with cream of your choice. 

Baked cream puffs before filling

I used a pastry bag with a large tip to fill the cream puffs. I pushed the tip into a weak spot on the side of the cream puff and I gently filled until cream started to pop out of the opening

You can dip tops in chocolate, drizzle some on the tops, or leave them plain if you prefer 

Chocolate Ganache and Caramel Macadamia Nut Tart

This delicious beauty is easier then you think. I know it looks fancy. And, that's half the point, right? ;) But, coming from a crazy person who is always frantically throwing something together last minute... you can trust me when I say that it really isn't as complicated as it looks.


Tart dough-
7 oz. All purpose flour
1/2 oz. Cocoa powder
4.5 oz. Butter, softened
2.5 oz. Granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 Egg, room temperature

Sift together flour and cocoa powder. Cream the butter and sugar until smooth and light in color, scraping down the bowl periodically. Combine vanilla and egg separately and add gradually until fully incorporated. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix just until blended. Do not overmix. Wrap dough tightly in seran wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll dough out onto light floured surface into a large enough circle to line tart pan. Lay over pan and press lightly into the bottom and into all the creases along the sides. Using a knife gently trim and scrape excess dough along the top edge of the tart pan.

Line the shell with parchment paper and fill the bottom with a single layer of beans or pie weights. Bake at 375ºF for about 15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove beans and parchment and continue to bake another 5-10 minutes until no longer shiny and baked all the way through. Cool completely.

2 oz. Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 oz. Heavy cream

Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream in a heavy bottom sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before stirring. Then stir gently until all chocolate is melted and smooth. Cool while you make caramel.

4 oz. Granulated sugar
4 oz. Heavy cream, hot
1 oz. Butter

2 oz. Macadamia nuts, lightly toasted

Heat a heavy bottom pan. Add sugar in very small increments, stirring frequently and making sure the sugar is completely melted before adding more. Cook mixture to a golden caramel color. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly stir in the hot cream. Then stir in the butter. Cool slightly.


Pour half of the caramel into the tart shell and spread it evenly over the bottom. Scatter half of the macadamia nuts over the caramel. Pour all of the ganache over the caramel and nuts and spread evenly. Freeze the tart for 1 hour.

Pour the remaining caramel onto the center of the tart and spread evenly over the ganache. Garnish the tart with the rest of the macadamia nuts and whipped cream. Refrigerate until fully chilled.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cranberry Walnut Scones with Sweet Lemon Glaze


All Purpose Flour- 13.5 oz.
Sugar- 2.4 oz.
Baking Powder- 1 oz.
Salt- 0.2 oz.
Cold, Unsalted Butter- 3.2 oz.
Currants or Craisins- 2.5 oz.
Walnuts, chopped- 2.5 oz.
Heavy Cream- 13 oz.

Butter, melted- 2 oz. (1/4 cup)
Powdered Sugar- 1 cup
Lemon Juice- 1 T. or more according to taste and desired consistency.

Sift dry ingredients together onto counter.

Cut cold butter into dry ingredients until butter is pea-sized.

Stir in the craisins and walnuts

Make a large well with dry ingredients and pour cream into center. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients as you gently stir by hand in a circular motion. Be careful not to take too much from sides at a time or cream might spill out of well. Continue stirring by hand until all dry ingredients are mixed in. Fold mixture a few times.

Press the mixture into a small sheet pan (or fill half of a large sheet pan). Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight if making a day ahead.

Cut into even squares and then into triangles. Place onto parchment lined baking sheets. Brush tops with egg wash (egg whites whisked with a little water).

Bake at 350ºF for 15-20 minutes. While scones are baking make the glaze by combining melted butter with powdered sugar. Add lemon juice until the glaze is thin enough to spread but not runny. Glaze scones while still warm.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cajun Red Beans and Coconut Rice

Living on a strict budget can be so hard!! So, to save money I try to cook with simple (and cheap) ingredients and avoid using meat a few nights a week. The perfect way to do this? Beans and rice.

For anyone who has lived abroad.... you know that beans and rice are a staple for a lot of countries. Because of that I got really used to eating beans and rice and now it's one of my family's favorite things to eat. But, beans and rice can get super boring if you don't switch it up. That's why I came up with this recipe. It's still made up of inexpensive ingredients but it tastes delicious! My husband and I joke about it being a meal for poor people with sophisticated palettes. haha! And, that's just what it is.


Cajun beans:
2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups water
1 T. chicken bouillon
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. coriander
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. paprika
1 t. cajun seasoning
dash cinnamon

*adjust all spices according to preference and taste.

Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and cover with lid. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Use a potato masher or fork to mash beans against the bottom and sides of pan. Mash about 90% of beans. Add more water if beans are too thick or mash more if too thin.

Coconut rice:
1 1/2 cups white rice
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 oz.) can coconut milk
1 t. salt
1 t. white vinegar
3 t. sugar
dash of pepper

Combine all ingredients in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover with lid and turn heat down to very low setting. Allow to cook for about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice rest (still covered) for 5 minutes.

Serve large scoop of coconut rice with a bowl of cajun beans.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Classic Cinnamon Rolls

Classic. Cinnamon-y. Frosted to perfection.

These cinnamon rolls don't get any better. I've made cinnamon rolls, orange rolls, raspberry rolls, etc. and always liked them. But, never really LOVED them the way I love these. I finally came up with a great recipe that includes aspects of all the others... creating the PERFECT cinnamon rolls! Mmmm...


1 cup milk
4 T. shortening
3 1/2 cups sifted flour
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg at room temperature

Place milk and shortening in a microwave safe bowl and microwave until shortening is mostly melted. Stir and set in the refrigerator to cool it down. 

Mix 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar and salt together in a large mixing bowl. When milk/shortening mixture has cooled down to about 105ºF (still really warm but not hot enough to kill the yeast) add it to the flour mixture. Add egg. Stir until well combined (about 1 minute) and scrape sides periodically.

Switch to the dough hook on your mixer. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups flour and mix. The dough should be soft but still a little sticky. Run mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes. Allow dough to rest while you prepare cinnamon filling.

1/2 cup softened, unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine cinnamon and sugar. Mix with softened butter.

Roll dough out into a large rectangle shape of about 12in. x 14in. Spread cinnamon sugar filling on top of rectangle. Roll long side all the way up. Use a piece of dental floss to mark the roll into 12 even pieces. Then slide the dental floss under the roll, bring both ends together on top of roll, cross ends and pull until the floss cuts all the way through the roll. 

Place each piece in a greased 9x13 glass pan. Cover with clean kitchen towel and place on top of your preheating oven. Allow rolls to rise for about 30 minutes or until they have risen enough to fill up the whole pan. 

Bake at 350ºF for 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown on tops. 

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine ingredients to make a frosting. Add a little milk if necessary to make the frosting thin enough to spread over warm rolls. Cool in the refrigerator while rolls are baking. When rolls are done baking spread frosting on top. 

BEST EVER Chicken Potpie

Flaky pie crust. Warm, creamy filling packed with moist chicken and perfectly cooked veggies. Once you try this potpie you will never go back to your old recipe or, heaven forbid... your frozen potpie from the grocery store!

This recipe is originally from my fabulous mother-in-law who taught me so much about cooking when I first married into her family. I don't know if I would have grown to love cooking as much as I have without her. She got me into making homemade bread every week, keeping fresh baked cookies on the table as often as possible and taught me how to make fast, delicious dinners with really basic ingredients. I owe so much to her.

Anyway, her Chicken Potpie recipe is just about the best comfort food in my book. I love it. I've made a few alterations to this flaky, flavorful potpie and it turns out every single time.

I cut mine open too soon. If you let the pie rest for 10 minutes before cutting the filling will be thicker.

My boys were too hungry to let it rest. :)


2 cups cooked chicken
2 cups cooked vegetables (carrots, potatoes, peas, etc.
2 T. butter
2 1/2 T. flour
2 cups milk
2 tsp. chicken bouillon

1 tsp. salt
dash pepper
dash dried sage

Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour and whisk. Whisk in milk until smooth. Add bouillon, salt, pepper and sage. Turn heat to medium and continue stirring until thickened- about 10 minutes or so. Turn off heat. Add cooked chicken and vegetables. Set aside until pie shell is ready to be filled. 

Pie Shell:
2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup shortening
1/3 cup ice water

Combine flour and salt. Cut in the shortening with pastry cutter or a large fork. Add ice water. Mix until barely incorporated. DO NOT over mix or pastry will end up being tough. Separate dough in half.

Lightly flour countertop. Take each half and roll out until circle is about 1 inch larger then your pie pan. Place first half in pie pan. Pour filling inside. Place second round on top. Tuck edges under the first round and gently pinch together to seal it shut. Cut two slits in the top of the unbaked pie to allow steam to release during baking.

Bake at 425ºF for 25 minutes or until the center is no longer shiny and the edges are golden brown. Allow pie to rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Harlequin Pinwheel Cookies

These are my husband's all time favorite cookies! They are crispy but also fudge-y with a bit of crunch from the walnuts and not too sweet (so you can eat lots of them!).

Maybe I shouldn't even talk about them because I can't give out the recipe. Yes. That's right. I'm terribly sorry. But, this recipe is so good that it is a family secret. My in-laws were gracious enough to let me have it but I'm sworn to secrecy and not allowed to share it.

HOWEVER... I can share with you a few links to similar cookie recipes that I found online. So, if you are feeling adventurous and want to try something a little fancier than your average cookie recipe then try one of these delicious recipes:

Classic Chocolate Pinwheels

Christmas Pinwheels

Patriotic Pinwheels

Easy White Bread

This is an easy and delicious bread recipe that I make every week for my family. I made this recipe a few times in culinary school and have been in love with it ever since!


Water- 12 oz.
Instant yeast- 0.25 oz.
Bread flour- 1 lb. 4 oz.
Salt- 0.5 oz.
Sugar- 0.75 oz.
Nonfat milk solids (powdered milk)- 1 oz.
Shortening- 0.75 oz.

Straight dough method:

Mix water and yeast and set aside while you measure out all other ingredients.

Add sifted flour to top of yeast mixture. Add all other ingredients to top of flour.

Mix with dough hook on low speed for 5 minutes. Turn speed to medium for another 10-15 minutes. Dough is finished mixing when it is elastic and hardly sticky to the touch.

Cover bowl and let dough rise for 30 minutes (until dough springs back after being touched). Weigh dough into two even portions (about 1 lb. 3 oz. each). Shape into loaves and place in 2 greased loaf pans. Cover and let dough rise in pans until doubled (about 30 more minutes).

Bake at 400ºF for 20-30 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on cooling rack.

Recipe adapted from Professional Baking by: Wayne Gisslen

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Russian Borscht

Mmmmm, Borscht. My "go to" recipe on a cold, wet day. There is nothing better than the smell of fresh, simmering borscht on the stove and homemade bread in the oven.  Seriously. Good. Borscht is relatively easy, delicious and very healthy as well. 

This recipe is straight from motherland Russia. My husband lived in Russia for 2 years serving a religious mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and fell in love with Borscht. He brought this recipe home and converted me to it's deliciousness. :)

1/2 lb. steak
4 beets
3 large potatoes
3 large carrots
1 head of cabbage
1/2 onion
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Beef Bouillon
1/2 cup ketchup
Bay leaves
Sour cream for serving

Cut steak into 1/2 in. strips and set aside. Fill a large stew pot half full with water (about 3 quarts of water). Add a few tablespoons of oil and some salt and pepper to the water. Once water boils add meat. Turn heat down but keep water boiling for 30-40 minutes. 

In the meantime chop beets, potatoes, carrots, cabbage and onion into uniform pieces (I usually cut them all into small strips. See picture below). After the meat has cooked in water for 40 minutes add the beets to the pot. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Then add potatoes and beef bouillon.

In frying pan sauté the onion, carrots and garlic in a small amount of oil and ketchup. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add this mixture to the pot along with the bay leaves and more salt and pepper. Combine well and let cook for 15-20 minutes. Then add cabbage. Cook another 10-15 minutes or until ready to eat. Sometimes I let the soup simmer for a few hours to get the meat really tender. 

Scoop a dollop of sour cream into each bowl of soup and serve with delicious hard bread (like rye or sourdough). And, if you want to have a really authentic Russian meal then make the soup a day ahead and re-heat it the day you are ready to eat. It always tastes better leftover because all the flavors blend well over time. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Rocky Road Ice-Cream

This summer I've become consumed with making ice-cream. It's certainly been fun creating new recipes and combinations of flavors but it's definitely forced me to run more. Oh well!

Out of all the ice-cream recipes I've tried this summer...this Rocky Road recipe is by far my favorite. The rich chocolate base combined with crunchy nuts and gooey marshmallows makes this ice-cream a big hit in my household (me... ahem!).


3/4 cup cocoa powder (sifted)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
pinch salt
1 cup whole milk (do NOT try using any other kind of milk)
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 T. pure vanilla extract
chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
mini marshmallows

-In bowl whisk together the cocoa, sugars and salt.
-Add the milk.
-Using a hand mixer (or a whisk) beat on low speed until smooth and sugars completely dissolved.
-Stir in heavy cream and vanilla.
-Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours but preferably overnight.

-Follow directions on your ice cream maker.
-When ice-cream is almost done churning add in the chopped nuts and mini marshmallows.
-Transfer soft ice-cream to freezer-safe container and freeze for about 2 hours before serving.

Dr. Seuss Birthday Cake!

For my son's 1st Birthday I wanted to try something special. He loves Dr. Seuss books and I knew designing a Seuss-themed cake would be fun and easy! Plus, I figured any discrepancies could be excused because lop-sided and asymmetrical cakes scream Dr. Seuss, right? Haha! I was out of state visiting family when we celebrated his birthday so between being crazy busy and being surrounded by chaos I knew I needed a margin of error. Everything ended up turning out fine! 

 And, of course, what 1 year old isn't going to love having cake anyway? Before we even cut the cake he already had blue frosting on his face from taste testing it. :) I'm pretty sure he approved.



That Chocolate Cake


Ok. This is seriously THE BEST chocolate cake I have ever had! I got this recipe in culinary school and I've been obsessed with it ever since. It is super easy (no special methods required) and it always turns out great. You can let the frosting cool and cover the cake in a smooth chocolate layer. Or, you can pour the warm frosting on each layer (as pictured) which is how I prefer to serve it. This cake is sure to impress your dinner guests or lucky neighbors!

Granulated sugar- 15 oz
All purpose flour- 9 oz
Cocoa powder- 3.5 oz
Salt- 1 t.
Baking powder- 1 1/2 t.
Baking soda- 1 1/2 t.
Eggs- 4 oz
Canola oil- 3 oz
Milk- 8 oz
Boiling water- 1 cup

-Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray 2- 9" round pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.

-Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda in large bowl. Mix in the eggs, oil and milk. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.

-Slowly add boiling water in several increments stirring gently by hand until fully incorporated.

-Bake 30-35 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean.

-Cool for 10 minutes and then de-pan and finish cooling on cooling racks.

Granulated sugar- 10.5 oz
Heavy cream- 1 cup
Unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped- 5 oz
Unsalted butter- 4 oz
Vanilla- 1 t.

-In a saucepan, combine the sugar and cream. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes.

-Add the chocolate and butter. Stir until melted. Then add the vanilla.

-Let frosting cool before frosting the cake (unless you're in a major hurry like me in which case you can also pour the warm frosting over the layers as shown in the picture).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Homemade Honey Graham Crackers

My little guy absolutely loves graham crackers. So, thank goodness I learned how to make them in culinary school this past year and now I'll NEVER buy them again. It's just too easy to make them and they are just too delicious! Seriously. Once you try these you will never go back. Now all I need is to whip up some homemade marshmallows and make the most divine homemade S'mores of all time! :)

FYI... you'll definitely need a kitchen scale for this recipe. Weighing your ingredients is definitely the best way to get accurate and consistent results when baking.


9.6 oz all purpose flour
2.1 oz pastry flour
1/2 t. (.1 oz) baking soda
1/2 t. (.1 oz) cinnamon
1/8 t. salt

8 oz unsalted butter, softened
2.4 oz granulated sugar
2.1 oz brown sugar
1.2 oz honey
2 t. vanilla extract

-Sift the flours, soda, cinnamon and salt together and set aside.
-Cream the butter, sugars, honey and vanilla together on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until fluffy. 
-Add the dry ingredients on low speed and mix just until combined. Do not mix after combined or you will develop the gluten too much and the crackers will end up being tough.
-Separate the dough in half. Roll each half between two pieces of parchment paper or Silpats into a rectangle the size of your cookie sheets and chill until firm.
-Bake at 350ºF for 10 to 12 minutes, remove from the oven and cut into squares. Return to oven and bake until golden brown.
-Let cool on pans and store crackers in airtight ziploc or container.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Layered Strawberry Shortcake

I've always been a sucker for strawberry shortcake. Who doesn't love the stuff? Honestly. It's just classic and delicious. And there's something about having berries in dessert that makes me feel a little less guilty. 

This recipe is adapted from a classic shortcake recipe. I modified it in order to make rounds instead of a square pan (rounds display more beautifully)and in order to produce thinner layers so you won't have to worry about trimming and cutting the layers. This recipe is perfect for that summer picnic you forgot about and need a quick, easy dessert for. Enjoy!


2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk (2% or whole works best... none of that fat free stuff. :))
Sweetened whipped cream

Grease 2- 8in. round pans. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In medium bowl cream sugar and butter. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Combine dry ingredients separately (always sift dry ingredients as well).  Add dry ingredients alternately with milk beginning and ending with dry. 

Spread batter into rounds.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick comes out of center clean. Cool in pans for a few minutes. Finish cooling on cooling rack.

When rounds are completely cooled assemble cake. Place one layer on serving plate. Spread half whipped cream over layer. Sprinkle strawberry pieces over cream. Place second cake layer on top. Spread the rest of the whipped cream onto the top. Sprinkle the rest of the strawberry pieces on the top. If you have lots of time you can get creative and make cool designs with the strawberries. 

Keep cake in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Buying good quality vanilla extract can be outrageously expensive. Every time I walk through the baking aisle of the grocery store I stop at the vanilla shelf in hopes of finding some on sale. Do they ever put it on sale?! Looking down at my already full cart and knowing I'm probably over budget forces me to grab that cheap little bottle of imitation vanilla. No. Thank. You. So, while I was in Costa Rica I bought some incredibly vibrant smelling vanilla beans so that I could make homemade vanilla extract which is not only EASY... but it also cuts the cost down majorly. 


5 vanilla beans (at least 6 inches in length)
1 bottle good quality vodka*

With a sharp knife split the beans open from the top and leave about 1/2 inch together at the bottom. Place split beans in bottle (I used a 1 liter bottle) and pour vodka over beans to fill the bottle. Place bottle in cool, dark place. Let sit for at least 8 weeks. Every week give the bottle a good shake. 

Whenever you use some vanilla you can replace what you used with more vodka. 

*Don't go too cheap when buying the vodka. It will taste too much like alcohol. The higher the quality of vodka the smoother and better it will turn out. I went with a middle-ground quality since I didn't want to spend too much.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Tart

I have a little obsession with dark chocolate. If you love dark chocolate then you will die over this divine dark chocolate tart with a creamy ganache filled center and topped with plump raspberries and powdered sugar. It is not only heavenly to your taste buds but also very fun to put together and an aesthetically pleasing finished product sure to "wow" your friends!


1/2 cup softened butter (unsalted)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup all purpose flour
3 T. dark cocoa powder

1/2 cup raspberry jam (preferably home made)
1 cup any type of chocolate chips (I used dark)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
6 oz. fresh raspberries
confectioners sugar for sprinkling

Beat butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes (until fluffy) pausing every 30 seconds to scrape sides of bowl. Add egg yolk. Beat well also scraping sides to make sure egg is completely mixed in. Add flour and cocoa. Mix by hand just until incorporated. Do not over mix or the gluten in the flour will develop too much and your crust will be tough.

Press mixture into a 9 in. tart pan. Trim top edge to make a perfectly shaped tart. Chill for 30 minutes. 

Bake at 350º F for 12 minutes. Use the back of a spoon to press dough back down in the tart pan. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until crust is baked all the way through. Cool on cooling rack.

Remove frame of tart pan and place cooled tart on serving plate. Spread jam all over the inside of the tart. 

Heat cream in heavy saucepan until it begins to boil. Remove from heat, add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour over jam and chill until firm- about 1 hour. 

Arrange raspberries on top of the tart. Just before serving dust with confectioners sugar.