Welcome to my blog!

For years I’ve been known among family and friends for my various dishes, particularly desserts. So I’ve decided to start a blog to share some of the recipes and my adventures in cooking. Most of what I make is based on common recipes from the internet, cooking shows, etc. But like many, I customize them to make them uniquely my own. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Smokey Bacon Onion Dip

This recipe is based off of one from Giada De Laurentis. As the holiday season is upon us, having a good dip to take to parties is essential.  I switched it up a little bit, added some garlic and liquid smoke. Turned out pretty good according to my coworkers. Enjoy!

 

Smokey Bacon Onion Dip

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 oz bacon, diced small
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced small
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1 package chives (usually .66 oz), finely diced.
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke

Directions:

In a medium sized skillet on medium heat, sauté the bacon with olive oil until brown and crispy. About 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and put it on a plate lined with paper towels to catch the excess oil.

Add the onions to the skillet with the salt and sauté in the oil/bacon fat. About 15 minutes or until soft and caramelized. Don’t leave it unattended as it can burn. You’ll want to stir it occasionally.  About 1/2 through add in the garlic. Allow the bacon and onion mixture to cool. Combine in a medium bowl with the yogurt, chives, and liquid smoke. Put in a container and allow to chill for at least 1 hour, longer is better. Serve with crackers, chips or vegies.

Peachy Coffee Cake

This coffee cake recipe comes from my country cookbook that my mom gave to me when I moved out on my own. I didn’t modify it much but I think I will the next time I make it. It turned out a little on the dry side in my opinion, although the peach topping really helped with that. Otherwise it was rather tasty and super quick & easy to make. Enjoy!

Coffee Cake

Peachy Coffee Cake

Cake:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Topping:

  • 1 14.5 oz can sliced peaches
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 375°.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin spice. Add in the oats and chopped almonds.

Combine the milk, egg, and butter. Stir into the flour mixture until moistened. Do not beat. It will seem thick and dry, this is ok.

Spread batter into an 8″ baking pan that’s been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool.

Roughly chop the peaches and spread them on top of the cooled cake. Sprinkle with brown sugar and dribble the melted butter on top. Turn your oven to broil, put the rack in the top slot,  and broil until the topping bubbles and the peaches begin to brown.

 

Lemon Tea Bread

I got this recipe from that country cookbook my mom gave to me years ago. Even though it’s called bread this is more like a pound cake. Delicious, light, and a good lemon flavor. I only modified it slightly, added a little lemon extract and some other things. It originally called for walnuts too but I didn’t think that would go well with lemon. Enjoy!

Lemon Tea Bread

Bread:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest

Glaze:

  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice of above lemon
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325°.

In a medium bowl beat together the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs one and a time and beat until smooth.

In another bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add in the zest of the lemon.

In a small bowl or measuring cup; beat together the eggs, extracts, and milk.

Alternating, add in the flour and milk a little at a time. Beat until just combined.

Spray and line a loaf pan with parchment paper and non-stick cooking spray. Pour in the batter. Bake for 70 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar. Pour over the loaf, it will soak in. Eat.

 

Vodka Cranberry Cake

So one of my coworkers challenged me to make a vodka cranberry dessert. I was like, game on! So I found a recipe for a basic cranberry cake and proceeded to modify it to meet my needs. So here it is, the Stefanico (as I’m going to call it). Instead of fresh cranberries I used dried but I re-hydrated them in a bit of cranberry vodka. Used the left over vodka to flavor the cream cheese frosting. I think it turned out pretty well. Enjoy!

Vodka Cranberry Cake

Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup vodka (I used cranberry vodka)

Frosting:

  • 2 8oz packages of cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 2 tbsp. vodka

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°.  Spray a 9″ x 13″ cake pan, or 2 round 9″ cake pans, and line the bottom(s) with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, soak the cranberries in the vodka for at least 30 minutes. Overnight is best.

Shift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Add in the sugar and stir to combine.  Beat the eggs until smooth. Add in the milk and melted butter. Fold into the flour mixture until just combined. Don’t over stir!

Strain the cranberries making sure to save the vodka that’s left over. Fold them into the cake batter. Pour into your cake pan(s) and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes our of the center clean. Allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and continue beating until smooth. Add in 2 tbsp. of the reserved vodka and beat until smooth. If it’s too loose add in more sugar until it’s the right consistency. Spoon over the top of your cake and smooth out. Then eat!

Lemon Polenta Cake with Almonds

The inspiration for this recipe came from Jamie Oliver’s show on PBS. I liked it because it’s 1) quick and 2) gluten free. He made his with blood oranges, which I may try sometime in the future, but I had lemons handy and coworkers who love them. So I mixed it up a bit and changed out the syrup that goes along with it. Enjoy!

Lemon Polenta Cake with Almonds

Cake:

  • 14 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 cup sugar, brown or sugar in the raw if you have it
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups almonds, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup polenta
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325° and line a 8″ springform pan with parchment paper, spraying it with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, or stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add in the vanilla and lemon extract.

In a small bowl combine the polenta, lemon zest, almonds, and baking powder. Fold this into the butter/egg mixture. Pour into the springform pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the surface is light brown and a toothpick comes our clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

In a small pan, heat together the honey, water, lemon zest & juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Let it simmer until it’s reduced by half, about 15 minutes.

Take a skewer and poke a bunch of holes in the cake. Pour the syrup over the top, it will soak in. Allow the cake to completely cook before removing from the pan. Flip it over carefully, as it’s a bit fragile, and remove the paper from the bottom. Slice and enjoy!

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Gingersnap Streusel

It being fall, and I picked up a pack of canned pumpkin at Costco, has inspired me to work on quite a few pumpkin-based recipes lately. This one caught my eye because it has a streusel topping made from gingersnap cookies. I had picked up a tin of them at Trader Joe’s and also a bottle of brown sugar bourbon from Heritage Distilling co. (a local distiller)

So I decided to give this recipe a go. I did modify it quite a bit actually. The original had a lot of brown sugar in it. I cut that down and added some black-strap molasses instead. Oh and the brown sugar bourbon, of course. Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Gingersnap Streusel

Cake:

  • 2 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs, 2 whole and 1 yoke
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar bourbon
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp sour cream

Streusel:

  • 2 cups ground gingersnap cookies (about 9 oz)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter, at room temp
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375°. Spray a 9″ x 13″ or two 8″ x 8″ cake pans.

To make the streusel, grind up the gingersnap cookies in a food processor until they are fine crumbs. In a medium bowl mix them with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Add in the butter and cut it in until it resembles a crumbly texture. I use my hands, it’s easier.

In a medium pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to brown and gives off a slightly nutty odor. Once it start to brown immediately take it off the heat and pour it into a heat-proof bowl, this will prevent it from burning.

In another medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and pumpkin spice. Mix in the brown sugar, making sure there are no lumps.

In a large bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, yolk, vanilla, and bourbon. Whisk in the butter until combined. Fold in the pumpkin and sour cream. Gently fold in the flour mixture until just combined. You don’t want to over mix it.

Spread the batter in your pan(s) and sprinkle with the streusel. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, longer if you’re using the large pan. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean when done.  Allow to cool and enjoy!

 

Chocolate Pumpkin Swirled Cupcakes

So a couple of my coworkers were lamenting the fact that almost all of the treats I bring into work are sweets. One is diabetic and the other is on a no-sugar diet. So I took that as a challenge and found this recipe, which is diabetic friendly and has no sugar. I did modify it slightly, as is my want, by adding a little brown sugar bourbon. Enjoy!

IMG_2276

Chocolate Pumpkin Swirled Cupcakes

  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1/4 cup milk (I used coconut milk as I had it on hand)
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar bourbon
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Dutch-processed, it’s the best)
  • 1/2 cup (or so) chocolate chips, divided

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with liners and spray the insides with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl mix together the pumpkin, syrup, eggs, milk, bourbon, and vanilla.

In another bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, pumpkin spice, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and fold in until just combined. Add the melted butter and stir until combined.

Now divide your batter in half. To one half add in the cocoa and 1/4 cup of chocolate chips. Stir to combine. Now add it back into the other half and gently swirl them together. You don’t want them too mixed if you want to see a swirled pattern.

Scope into the lined muffin tin, filling about halfway. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and eat.

 

Mexican Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Since I found the simple Instant Pot recipe for making Dulce de Leche I’ve been on the hunt for recipes to use it in. I came across this one and it sounded tasty. The cookies are similar to the Mexican cookie recipe I’ve posted before. Only that recipe is a shortbread type cookie and this is more of a traditional cookie. I added a sprinkle of sea salt on top where the original recipe called for sugar. I prefer that salty vs sweet vibe. Enjoy!

Mexican Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Flake sea salt
  • Dulce de Leche (see my previous recipe)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325° and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl shift together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and chipotle .

Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat until well blended. Add in the vanilla. Turn the speed down to low and slowly add in the flour and beat until combined.

Use a small ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon to measure out the dough and space at least 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with the flake sea salt. Bake for 15 minutes, the tops should show some crackling. Cool completely.

Spread a heaping tablespoon of the Dulce on one cookie and top with another, making a sandwich.

 

German Chocolate Pie

I came across a recipe for this pie and it immediately caught my attention. Mostly because I have a good friend who loves German Chocolate cake; in fact, I made one for him for this birthday one year. So I thought I would give it a try. I only modified it slightly. Used my own pie crust recipe and added some good Dutch-processed cocoa. Warning! This is really rich so a little goes a long way! Enjoy!

 

German Chocolate Pie

Filling:

  • 4 oz sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Direction:

Preheat your oven to 400°. Roll out the pie dough using my recipe (which will make 2 pies) and line a pie plate. Prick the bottom and sides with a fork. Line the pie dough with parchment paper and pie weights (I just use dry beans). Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully take the weight and parchment out and put it bake in the oven for another 10 minutes or until light brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Preheat your oven to 350°. Put the chopped chocolate in a microwave bowl and nuke to 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Allow it to cool slightly until just warm to the touch. Whisk in the milk, yolks, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the chopped pecans. Pour into the pie shell and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Once it’s cool, combine the brown sugar, cream, and butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. In a small bowl whisk the yolks. Slowly whisk in a small amount of the hot sugar/cream mixture. Pour the yolks into the remaining sugar mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until the mixture is thick. Stirr in the coconut ad vanilla, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Pour over the pie filling and sprinkle with the 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. Refrigerate until completely chilled. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bars

So this recipe is really similar to the Bourbon Pumpkin cake recipe I posted earlier. The big difference is no Bourbon. Still super moist and flavorful though. I modified the original recipe that this is based on. It called for a few ingredients I didn’t want to use and I substituted ones I did want to use. Easy enough. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Bars

  • 4 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Icing

  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temp
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. whole milk

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350°. Spay a 9″x13″ baking pan and line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl beat together the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until smooth. Combine the flour, pumpkin spice, baking powder & soda, and salt. Gradually beat into the pumpkin mixture on low speed. Pout in to the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool. Once it’s cooled flip over onto a board or plate and remove the parchment. Flip it back into the baking pan.

For the icing, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and butter until smooth. Add in the vanilla and milk, beat until smooth again. Spread onto the bars, cut, and eat.