Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chocolate Glazed Baked Vanilla Doughnuts

Mmmmmm...doughnuts. I finally joined the ranks of bakers who make their own doughnuts. Yummy, cakey, chocolately, goodness at any time, day or night. It took me awhile to take the plunge and buy a couple of doughnut pans, but boy was it worth it.

My first foray into the doughnut world was a simple one. I chose an easy vanilla doughnut with a chocolate glaze. I was a little surprised that it took me several batches before I came upon a recipe that I really like, and then several more tried for the glaze. What I ended up with was so yummy that I try very hard not to make them every morning.

These babies come out super fluffy and moist. The chocolate glaze is decadent and doesn't get flakey like most doughnut glazes. The first time I made them, they didn't stick around long enough to tell how well they stored but the next time I made them, I put some into an airtight container for the next day. I have to say, they were definitely better fresh. They were ok the next day but would really not last any longer than that for freshness.

Chocolate Glazed Baked Vanilla Doughnuts
Adapted from Gourmet Day to Day
And Just Baked


2 Cups Cake Flour (or 1 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour + 1/4 Cup Cornstarch)
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
3/4 Cup Buttermilk
2 Large Eggs
1 Tablespoon Butter, melted

Chocolate Glaze
2 1/2 Tablespoons Butter
2 oz Chocolate Chips
1 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/8 Cup Hot Water

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Liberally grease doughnut pans with cooking spray.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the butter, buttermilk, and eggs.
  4. Sift in the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix until just combined. (Over mixing will create tough doughnuts.)
  6. Spoon the batter into the doughnut wells until about 2/3 full.
  7. Bake 7-8 minutes, until golden and the tops spring back when touched.
  8. Let cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes and then removed to a wire rack until cooled completely.
  9. As the doughnuts cool, make the glaze.
  10. Using a microwave safe bowl that is wide enough to dip the doughnuts into, melt the butter and chocolate chips in the microwave at 20 second intervals, until smooth and shiny.
  11. Whisk in the sugar, vanilla, and water.
  12. Dip the top of each doughnut into the warm glaze.
  13. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes for the glaze to set.

Yields: 12 Doughnuts

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cheeseburger Cups

This is another recipe from Emily Bites. I've tried several of them with varying degrees of appeal. I decided to try this one on a night when I knew I needed a quick meal that could easily be reheated.

I chose a night that I had Zumba class scheduled. These nights mean that Vince comes home from work, gives Max dinner and then gets him ready for bed. While Vince is taking care of Max, I whip something up for grown-up dinner. I don't eat before my classes (that would be a disaster) so I make something that Vince can eat once Max is in bed and that I can reheat for myself when I get home. This recipe fit the bill.

I was actually a little surprised that I liked it so much. I was a little leery of the ingredient list but it come out really tasty! It does not really taste like a cheeseburger, more like cheeseburger Hamburger Helper. It was quick, easy, tasty, and very few points. All pluses that have made this a recipe that I've made several times with great success. It has gotten rave reviews from Vince, Max, and my sister-in-law who is also watching her points. I typically serve two cups with a large salad for a complete dinner.

Cheeseburger Cups
Adapted from Emily Bites


1/2 Pound Lean Ground Beef
2 Tablespoons Dried Minced Onion
1 Tablespoon McCormick Hamburger Seasoning
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
4 oz Can Chopped Mushrooms
4 oz Can Salt Free Diced Tomatoes
4 Wedges Laughing Cow Lite Queso & Chipotle Cheese
3 Tablespoons Ketchup
1 Tablespoon Mustard
16 Wonton Wrappers
1 Cup Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese, shredded

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Liberally grease 8 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  3. In a large skillet, brown the meat, onions, and garlic powder.
  4. Drain off the fat from the meat.
  5. Mix the mushrooms and tomatoes into the meat.
  6. Mix the Laughing Cow cheese, ketchup, and mustard into the meat mixture.
  7. Mix thoroughly until the cheese is completely melted and coats all of the meat.
  8. Line each muffin cup with one wonton wrapper.
  9. Using half of the meat mixture, fill each muffin cup.
  10. Using half of the shredded cheese, top the meat in each muffin cup.
  11. Place another wonton on top of each cup.
  12. Repeat the layering of meat and shredded cheese.
  13. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until crispy.
  14. Let the cups cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

Yields: 8 Cups

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lemon Squares

As a kid, I remember my mom being in the kitchen 90% of the time. She was always cooking something. She made (and still makes) her own pasta, tomato sauce, bread (of all kinds), pretzels, pickles, jams/jellies, cookies, cakes, pies, you name it and she's probably made it. She has always loved cooking. My father's job had us moving around quite a bit when I was a kid. I attended 8 schools between 1st grade and high school graduation. Through all of our moves and all of the different towns and cultures, my mom's food was always a constant in our lives. It was the ultimate in comfort food.

When we moved to Southern Illinois, we found that people ate all sorts of stuff that we had never heard of. So naturally, my mom tried to make some of them. Being Italian, she wanted to try Italian Beef and Italian Cream Cake (neither of which is actually Italian). She hated both and decided to leave the new foods to the "natives".

During our stay in Marion, we soon found that a staple dessert brought to everything from church potlucks to PTA meetings, Girl Scout meetings to work BBQs, was lemon bars. They were always there and always went fast. As kids we learned to covet this potluck delicacy and yearned for our mom to make them at home. Alas, she refused. So, we would anxiously await the next gathering, hoping that someone would remember the lemon bars.

My obsession with this lemony confection died down once we moved to the Chicagoland area, where they are not as readily made. I went years without eating or even thinking about making lemon bars. That was until I moved to Virgina. Southerners love their lemon bars! So, I went on a quest for a tried and true recipe, and then I made it better.

This recipe has been a staple in recipe book for about 8 years now. It is always the first thing requested for me to bring to a party and is usually the first thing to run out. It is a really easy and quick recipe, making it the perfect choice for any party when you need a quick dish to bring. The crust holds up really well to the moist ultra-lemony custard topping. The powdered sugar topping is the perfect compliment to the tartness from the lemons. It is a crowd pleaser!

Lemon Squares
Adapted from All Recipes


3 Cups + 6 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
1 1/3 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Butter or Margarine, softened
6 Large Eggs
1 3/4 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Lemon Juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Liberally grease a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. In a bowl, combine 3 C of flour, powdered sugar, and margarine.
  4. Mix well to combine.
  5. Pat the dough into the bottom of the baking pan.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, until puffed and slightly browned.
  7. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, 6 Tbsp of flour, and lemon juice.
  8. Carefully pour over the hot crust.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes.
  10. Cool completely in the pan.
  11. Once cool, dust the top with powdered sugar.
  12. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares.

Yields: 24 squares

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Chocolate Chip Scones & Ireland

Mmmmm...scones. I love them. In all kinds of flavor combinations. I love them warm with a little butter spread on and melting and I love them plain. Scones are a traditional quick bread hailing from the UK. They can be either sweet or savory with the most common fillings being raisins, currants, cheese, and dates. There is also the luscious lemonade scone made with lemonade and cream instead of butter and milk, yum. You can make scones as either drop biscuits or rolled and cut.

Scones are made and loved throughout the world but they are best known in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Scones were the chosen representative of Ireland at Cafe Europe, a cultural initiative of the EU president, in 2006. As much as I've always loved these flaky, buttery pastries, I've never actually made them. So, when I came across a recipe for traditional Irish scones, I knew I had to try it.

Reading through the blog post with that recipe reminded me of our awesome trip to Ireland in 2009. We had such a great time with our friends and really fell in love with the country. We spent two glorious weeks experiencing the beautiful landscapes, historical sites, and Irish culture. I can't wait to plan our next trip there. In the mean time I'll make due with cooking up all sorts of Irish food like shepherd's pie, soda bread, and now scones.

Chocolate Chip Scones
Adapted from Not Your Momma's Cookie


1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Cake Flour
3 Tablespoons Sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
3/4 teaspoon Salt
4 oz Unsalted Butter, cold and cut into pieces
3/4 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Buttermilk (or 1/2 Cup Milk with 1 Tablespoon White Vinegar added)
2 Large Eggs
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Line a baking sheet or round pizza pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until you get a course meal consistency.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, one egg, and vanilla.
  7. Slowly pour over the flour mixture.
  8. Gently stir together with a fork. (Do not over mix! The less you mix, the fluffier your scones will be!)
  9. Lightly knead the dough together into a ball.
  10. Place the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and pat down into a circle about 1 inch thick.
  11. Cut the dough into 12 wedges. I used a pizza cutter dipped in flour.
  12. Lightly beat an egg with a teaspoon of water and brush the top of the dough.
  13. Sprinkle the top with a little bit sugar.
  14. Bake for 17-22 minutes, until golden brown.

Yields: 12 servings

For those of you that made it through all of that, I'll reward you with a peak at our trip to Ireland. It really was beautiful!

Blarney Castle


Ballyseede Castle

Birr Castle


Hore Abbey

Hore Abbey

Blarney Stone - Yes, I kissed it.

Cliffs of Moher

Hill of Tara

Hill of Tara

Rock of Cashel

Killkenney National Forest

The famous haunted Kinnitty Castle

Kylemore Abbey

The infamous haunted Leap Castle

Trim Castle - Filming location for Braveheart


Slane Castle

St. Patrick Statue

The Burren