Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

I have made this cake around Christmas for the last few years because it combines 2 of Ralph's most favorite things...chocloate and gingerbread. It is really good...I mean REALLY good!!

Chocolate Gingerbread

Feast by Nigella Lawson


1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup plus 2 TBS dark brown sugar

2 TBS superfine sugar

3/4 cup golden syrup or light corn syrup

3/4 cup black trectale or molasses

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

2 TBS warm water

2 eggs

1 cup milk

2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

6 oz package or 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


2 cups confectioner's sugar

2 TBS unsalted butter

1 TBS unsweetened cocoa

1/4 cup ginger ale

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and tear off a big piece of parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of a roasing pan, 12 X 8 X 2.

In a suacepan melt the butter along with the sugars, golden syrup, trectale or molasses, cloves, cinnamon, and ground ginger. In a cup dissolve the baking soda in water. Add the milk and lightly beat eggs and mix well. Stir in the flour and cocoa and beat with a wooden spoon to mix. Fold in the chocolate chips, pour into the lined pan and bake for about 45 minutes until risen and firm. It will be slightly damp underneath the set top and that's the way you want it.

Remove to a wire rack and let cool in the pan. Once cool, get on with the frosting.

Sift the cofectioner's sugar. In a heavy-based sauce pan heat the butter, cocoa and ginger ale. Once the butter's melted, whisk in the confectioner's sugar. Lift the gingerbread out of the pan and unwrap the paper. Pour over the frsoting just to cover the top and cut into fat slabes when set.

Kitchen Notes

-I have made this in two smaller pans. One to keep and one to give away. Otherwise, I just eat too much of this super yummy cake. If you do this, just reduce the cooking time a bit.

-I don't know if I have ever used the parchment and it aleays comes out just fine. I just pour the frosting over right in the pan.

Christmas French Toast

I love to make French Toast. I normally use old bread that I have baked. I love cinnamon and fresh nutmeg and generally use a lot of them in my French toast. I starting making Panatone and Stollen at Christmas a few years back (I need to post that recipe). I found both Panatone and Stollen make great French Toast. Also, I was reading a couple of years ago about using leftover eggnog to make French Toast. A light bulb went off and now I make this special Christmas French Toast every year. You can use Panatone or Stollen, which ever you have and I will guess at the ingredients but this is something I never measure.

Christmas French Toast

1 loaf Stollen or Patatone

3 cups egg nogg

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp fresh nutmeg, or 1/2 tsp powdered

1/2 tsp vanilla

Make thick, even slices of the bread. In a flat pan, mix wet ingredients and spices. Briefly soak the bread in the mixture and dain the best you can. Cook in a medium hot skillet with melted butter.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Cardamon Cookies

Possibly the best cookies that I have ever eaten. Not ooey gooey but thin, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside with a perfect spice. I love these cookies!!

Cardamon Cookies

1 c butter

1 1/2 c sugar

1 egg

2 Tbs dark corn syrup

3 c flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp soda

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cardamon

Cream butter, sugar, eggs, and syrup. Mix in remaining ingredients. Mold into rolls approximately 2 inches in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper and chill for at least 1 hour. Slice and bake on greased cookie sheets at 350 degrees for 9-12 minutes.


2 3/4 c flour

2 TBS cream of tartar

1 c butter

1 1/2 c sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

Rolling mixture:

Equal parts cinnamon and sugar

Beat butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until light and creamy. Add dry ingredients and mix throughly. Chill 1-2 hours. Roll into balls, about a teaspoon each, and then roll in rlling mixture. Bake 8-10 min each at 400 degrees.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Kathie's Turtles

Well, I used this recipe from my online friend Kathie and they sure are good. I did use the corn syrup. I think you could try making the standard sugar and water subsititution for the corn syrup. It's so hard to make candy here where we live because it is so very humid all the time! I picked a couple of "drier" days and made these turtles and the peanut brittle. I think that's about it for candy for the year.

The caramel is chewy and the chocolate has a good shell. These are really tasty. I think the one change I would try is toasting the pecans as the first step. Then again...they'rre really good the way they are. Thank you Kathie!!

1 lb. small pecan halves
2 cups light cream
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Dipping chocolate (I used Ghiradelli bitterweet chips, melted in a double boiler, and then put the candy in the fridge for 10 minutes or so to get it to set after I dipped the turtles)

On buttered cookie sheets, arrange 6 dozen groupings of 4 pecan halves, to
resemble turtles; set aside.
In a large heavy saucepan, heat 1 cup cream to lukewarm. Add corn syrup,
sugar and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, over moderate heat, until
mixture boils very slowly.
Stir in remaining 1 cup of cream that has been heated to lukewarm. Add
slowly so mixture does not stop boiling. Cook and stir constantly for 5
Stir in butter, 1 teaspoon at a time. Turn heat low; boil gently and stir
constantly until mixture reaches 245 degrees F.
Remove from heat; gently stir in vanilla.
Cool slightly. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of syrup over each group of pecan
halves. Cool. Spread with melted dipping chocolate, or dip each turtle

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Johnny's Broccoli Cole Slaw

I got this wonderful little salad from our friend Stella at the hunting lodge. Ralph has been eating it hand over fist for the past few weeks and I can barely keep enough made. I have brought it to several holiday parties as an alternative to the heavy baked casseroles and I have been asked for the recipe every time.

Johnny's Broccoli Cole Slaw


1/4 cup oil

6 TBS white vinegar

4 TBS sugar

2 tsp Kosher salt

1 tsp pepper

Wisk together.

1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 TBS sesame seeds

2 packages broccoli cole slaw

1/2 c unsalted sunflower seeds

6 firmly chopped green onions

Saute almonds and sesame seeds until light brown, then toss with other ingredien. Pour dressing over all and mix well. Best if made one day in advance.

Buttery Peanut Brittle

Peanut brittle is not something that I love, nor would I normally make. I had bunches of red skin peanuts left over from the wedding so I decided to make some. I had to compromise my ethics and buy Kayro syrup, but it still turned out pretty well. I will pack most of it up in gift baskets for gifts this year.


courtesy of cooks.com

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 cup white Karo syrup

1 candy thermometer

Cook sugar, water and Karo syrup together until temperature is 240°F degrees, then add 1 lb. nuts.

Cook until candy thermometer reads 300°F degrees. Butter the cookie pan and have ready (this is very important!):

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoon butter

Measure out and have ready:
2 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Quickly add salt, vanilla and butter, and have the 2 1/2 teaspoon of soda ready. Remove from heat, quickly add the soda (when adding the soda the mixture will fizz). Pour the (very hot!) mixture onto the greased cookie sheet or pan. Don't touch it or try to level the mixture with spoon.

Hint: During the cooking period, the mixture must be stirred constantly to prevent the nuts from burning.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wild Mushroom Chicken pasta with Basil Asiago Cream Sauce

At our house, you get to pick anything you want for dinner on your birthday and I will do my best to make it. We have been to the Crystal Palace at Disney many, many times and Ralph LOVES 2 things there--the salmon and the pasta. I made this pasta for the wedding a few weeks ago so I guess he had it on the brain, because this is what he wanted for his birthday dinner.

Sorry that I forgot to get a picture of this but if you are going to make something with pasta, this is something to consider since it is so very good!


The Crystal Palace Restaurant

Magic Kingdom

Serves 4 to 6 people

Mini Penne Pasta:1/2 pound Mini Penne Pasta (dry/uncooked)

1. Follow direction on the package to cook the pasta to al dente.

2. Cool pasta with cold tap water and set aside at room temperature.


1-1/2 cups heavy cream1 tablespoon fresh basil (wash, stemmed, and chopped)

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning

1/2 teaspoon chicken base or powdered chicken bullion

1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic

1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese

1. Bring heavy cream, all seasonings, garlic, basil, and chicken base to a low simmer in a 2-quart saucepan. Let it simmer to 10 minutes to develop flavors.

2. Carefully add the shredded cheese. Stir constantly to avoid breaking the sauce. You must not boil the sauce at any time.

3. Add the butter to thicken the sauce slightly. Cover the sauce & set it aside from the heat until you are ready to add it to the pasta.

Pasta Completion:

6 each skinless boneless chicken thighs

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 cup sliced button mushrooms

1/4 cup sliced Shitake mushrooms (be sure to discard the stem)

1/4 cup diced Portobello mushrooms

1 cup Basil Asiago Cream Sauce (full amount from recipe above)

1-1/2 pounds cooked Gimelli pasta (full amount from recipe above)

2 tablespoons chiffonade (thinly sliced) fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese

1. Dice chicken and remove excess fat.

2. In a large saute pan, heat oil until it begins to smoke.

3. Add chicken and season with salt, white pepper, and granulated garlic.

4. Once chicken is fully cooked, add mushroom and cook them thoroughly.

5. Add the pasta to the saute pan and stir for three minutes.

6. Now add the sauce and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.

7. Remove the pasta from the heat and place it on to serving dishes and garnish with basil and Asiago cheese.

Monday, December 10, 2007

New Orleans

On the route home we stopped in New Orleans. We stopped and I jacked the kids blood sugars up on bignets and then walked them around the city until they crashed. Then of course, I put them in the car and drove as far as possible! :)

You know I really work hard at giving my children the best nutrition that I can. The thing is, in my humble opinion, that there has to be a balance. I don't make anything taboo but there is always moderation. I don't want them to be so anxious to get away from me just so they can have something that they want to eat. As it turns out, neither of the three children finished one bignet and they all had a mild stomach ache. That in my opinion is a much better lesson!

Sunday, December 09, 2007


The middle of October saw the death of my dear friend May. I made an epic trip (28 hours in the car roundtrip) over 3 days with our three kids to attend her funeral in LA.

After the funeral we headed home. My goodness, there were farm stands all over the bayou. It was great to see. Not to mention, the huge fields of sugar cane that were being harvested. The sugar cane was so beautiful it almost made me not have disgust for the affect that it has had on so many of us.

We only stopped at one of these stands. This little place was in Raceland on LA Hwy 1. I bought Satsumas and the single greatest "prawlines" I have ever tasted. I tasted one and then bought everyone she had!! They had militons growing all around and the lady's husband was grinding sassafras for gumbo file' around back. I didn't get near enough pictures of this beautiful little place.