Mango Dome Entremet – I Remember 11

Mango Dome Entremet – I Remember 11


My oldest son is turning 11.  That is the first age that I remember ever being.  I don’t remember before then but I remember talking to a friend and saying that I was 11 (while playing barbies by the pool).  I feel like 11 was so much younger in 1990.  I can’t imagine my middle school students still playing with Barbies.

Anyways, back to my sweet honey boy.  He’s so great.  I feel so honored to be his Mama.  He fills me with such immense joy.  Every time I walk down the stairs in the morning, and he is already awake and downstairs, he’ll stop what he’s doing and run up and kiss me.  Even at 11.  Throughout the day I’ll hear him sing a little tune that goes something like ‘I love my Mama, she’s so pretty….’ of course it usually ends with ‘May I play Fortnite?’  I don’t mind.  I’ll take it.  So now that I am on Summer break from teaching, I decided to tackle a big job.  I have the time!  Nothing but leisure for me these days.  And also, my son deserves nothing but the best.  His favorite food is mangos and I just so happen to find a dessert fit for a king.  I thought I would tackle a baking job like no other.  Nothing like a challenge (I have vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce in the waiting just in case).  I discovered Chef Iso while perusing for pastries that are beyond what I have ever done.  And I found it.  I’ve decided to attempt the Mango Dome Entremet and have acquired all of the crazy supplies (thanks to my Mama who surprised me with buying everything off my Amazon wish list).   An entremet is a French dessert that has different elements in it such as crunchy, spongy, creamy, wobbly, etc.  This one will have a spongy (almond dacquoise), a creamy (Bavarian mousse), and a wobbly (mango compote).

So I’m the home baker that likes to eye-ball things and use basic measuring tools such as cups and spoons.  Today I am officially a hardcore home baker as I will be using a scale.


I covered my scale with plastic wrap because it’s not always clean livin’

I am writing this post as I go.  This dessert has 4 components: mango compote, Bavarian mousse,  almond dacquoise and a mirror glaze.  I will be making this as written by Chef Iso, with no variations due to high altitude.  I think I am most excited about the mirror glaze.  I have always wanted to try one.  Here is how it went:

Making the mango compote was easy.  Again, I did measure all of my ingredients on a scale.  I am noticing that the ‘~ about such and such measurement’ is not accurate to the grams it is asking you to provide.  So I cannot stress enough to measure on a scale.  I have plenty of mango compote leftover which I will freeze for later use, probably on a tropical ice-cream sundae (picture some mango compote coupled with toasted coconut and maybe some white chocolate shavings over some vanilla ice cream!?  Yes please….).




Now it is time to start the almond dacquoise, although hold on!  Major baking/cooking tip ahead:

Make sure to wash dishes that were used, clean the work station and re-organize ingredients after each step and before moving on.

This is key in helping me stay focused and to continually enjoy what I am doing.  This is fun and the last thing I need is to feel overwhelmed with a pile of dishes at the end of this endeavor.  Plus, I do not have endless supplies so I need to wash bowls to reuse for the next step.

For the almond dacquoise, I have used the mesh strainer to sift my already super-fine almond flour and set aside.  My egg whites were measuring a little less than 5 eggs (keep those egg yokes for the mousse!).  Up here in this high altitude it is hard to get a truly stiff meringue, so mine is a little less.  Regardless, it kept its shape as I folded the sifted almond flour in.




Here is my lull.  I will not start the Bavarian mousse until my dacquoise is cooled and my compote frozen.  So after my dishes are done, work station wiped down and ingredients prepped for the next step, I will allow myself the pleasure of sitting – with a hot cup of coffee and a good book (I am currently reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson – it’s so good so far!).

My compote has officially frozen!  So before cutting out the cooled dacquoise I made sure my round cookie-cutter was the right size to my dome pan.  Since I am making only 6 of these domes – I appear to have a lot of leftovers.  I will cut the rest of the dacquoise up and freeze it as well.  Maybe adding a round cutout to each of the tropical ice-cream sundaes I’m apparently going to be making.  Up next: Bavarian Mousse.




Okay several things…. I just finished and my domes are in the freezer.  First of all, I was unable to take pictures while making the creme anglaise (the first step in the mousse).  The creme anglaise takes both hands, I did not want to scramble the egg yokes.  I have made ice cream many a’times so I was well versed in tempering.  I whisk briskly while adding a few tablespoons at a time of the warmed cream/milk mixture.  I then add the tempered egg yokes to the pan with the cream/milk and get it to 170 degrees F on my candy thermometer.  I melt the white chocolate… making sure to not over heat.  It will ruin the whole batch of chocolate if over heated.

HUGE catastrophe!  My immersion blender has died!  Officially died while I was trying to blend the chocolate to the creme anglaise.  Detrimental – but I finished the creme with a hand-held blender and it was fine. Folding the whipped cream into the creme anglaise is a beautiful thing…



The assembly was surprisingly easy.  I added about 3T of the Bavarian mousse to each mold before adding a frozen mold of compote, topping it off with a piece of almond dacquoise that has been generously swept with the simple syrup (that happens to be housing my mango slices to which I will be garnishing the tops of my entremets).




Finishing my domes, I realized that I could have made a 1/4 of the Bavarian mousse recipe.  There is a HUGE bowl of Bavarian mousse left over!  I decided to add some orange zest and juice and will make it into a French-Orange Bavarian Mousse. Nothing like oranges and cream!  I happen to have one navel orange in the fridge – I just hope one is enough.  No time to head to the market since there is gelatin involved….I divided the mousse into ramekins and put them in the fridge.




Now back to my immersion blender catastrophe.  I am stressing out.  This will ruin the mirror glaze.  If there are air bubbles in this glaze, it defeats the whole purpose.  Chef Iso does mention that I may strain the glaze in a sieve and maybe that will take out any air bubbles.  I’m going to have to use a hand-held blender because I live on top of a mountain and do not have the convenience of hopping over to a Bed Bath & Beyond to pick up a new immersion blender.  Dang it… wish me luck…




So I made the glaze and the sieve idea worked quite well!  Above you’ll see the glaze after I used my hand-held mixer and then after pouring it through the sieve (middle picture) it got rid of most the bubbles.  I still strongly suggest an immersion blender.  The glaze was quite easy to make.  No eggs to temper or boiling to certain temperature.  It came together quite quick.




And by the way, my son requested chicken enchiladas, roasted broccoli and refried beans for dinner…..  Needless to say, I’m tired.

But look at this face…. worth it ALL!


We have 6 to eat and a ton of French-Orange Bavarian Mousse in the fridge!


I guess I’ll have to save the hot fudge and vanilla ice cream for a different time.  This worked.  I hope you try this.  It was super fun.  Thank you Chef Iso!  Happy birthday Aiden!

Chocolate Chunk-Pumpkin Seed Cookies ~ BOO! (there’s paprika in them)

IMG_2289Yes, paprika.  Smoked at that.  As soon as I saw that ingredient I knew I needed to try this recipe.  Thank goodness I did.

I had made this cookie to fill my cookie jar for when my dad visited and he could not get enough of them!  He loved them so much that my beautiful step mother left with the recipe in her suitcase.  So then I make them for my friend who is in her last trimester and they are officially her favorite cookie now.  It’s a different cookie.  Very tasty.  Very chocolate-y.  The fact that roasted pepitas are in them – just makes them that more festive for this time of year ~ where pumpkin reins king of all gourds.

Which brings us to present day, every Wednesday I go to my son’s school and volunteer in his class for an hour, then we walk hand-in-hand to the cafeteria where we enjoy lunch with all of his friends (I love my job).  Today was no different, only these cookies had just come out of the oven about 15 minutes prior to my arriving at his school.  Needless to say we left the cafeteria with chocolate on our faces.  A perfect lunch.

Thank you Bon Appetit Magazine, this one is a keeper.

Happy baking friends.


  •  cups raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  •  cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
  •  cups (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  •  cups bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips
  • Flaky sea salt


Look at this amazing dough!

Look at this amazing dough!

  1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Toast pumpkin seeds on a large rimmed baking sheet on upper rack, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk flour, cocoa powder, kosher salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and paprika in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter in a large bowl until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend after each addition. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing until well blended after each. Fold in chocolate and pumpkin seeds.
  3. Portion dough into 18 balls (about ¼ cup each) and divide between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 3″ apart. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake cookies, rotating pans halfway through, until edges are slightly browned and firm but centers are still soft, 18–20 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • Increase flour to 3 cups
  • Decrease baking soda to a full 1/4 teaspoon.


  • Egg shells


  • Butter wrappers
  • Bittersweet chocolate wrapping


  • Roast some extra pepitas and add to your morning granola.  Yum.
Here's my youngest.  I'm in his class on Mondays and not for lunch :( But no worries...he'll have a fantastic after school snack today.

Here’s my youngest. I’m in his class on Mondays and not for lunch 😦 But no worries…he’ll have a fantastic after school snack today.

Basil-Chip Ice Cream ~ So Much to Write About, So I Won’t

IMG_2658It’s kind of like those stacks of magazines.  Once you miss one, you know you’re going to get to it very soon!  Then the next month, another arrives so you put it on top of the other unread one.

A month later….

Then another…

All of a sudden you have 7 Real Simple magazines stacked and you’re like…oh never mind.  They look cute in that basket in the living room.  I’ll just let guests read them (which of course never happens either).

You see, so many insightful, life-learning events have transpired!  So much good food has been made ~ recipes invented!  So after each astute marvel and exceptional recipe ~ I say

I’m going to blog this for sure!

Then time passes and I swear I’m going to…

Blog this sensational recipe!  Hot damn!

Freakin’ nothing peeps.

Ugh.  So here I am with a fabulous, out-of-this-world crazy-ass ice cream recipe that blew everyone’s panties off and my friends are begging me for the recipe and I am overwhelmed with so much to say.

A wonderful insight about yours truly….when I feel overwhelmed, I freeze and do absolutely nothing.

Yes, a character trait to be admired, I know.

Look, this ice cream is out of this world.  A beautiful part is that it only makes 4.5 cups so you can’t go too nuts at midnight.  I made it for my nearest and dearest and all was right in the world.

Kuddos to Bon Appetit magazine (August 2015) ~ I didn’t change a daaaaamn thing!



  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  •  cups whole milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  •  cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate


  1. Set a large metal bowl inside another large bowl filled with ice water. Lightly beat egg yolks in a medium bowl. Bring cream, whole milk, and sugar to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Whisking constantly, gradually stream half of cream mixture into yolks. Return egg mixture to saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats spoon, 2–3 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into prepared bowl. Stir in condensed milk and salt. Let cool, stirring occasionally, 20–30 minutes, then stir in buttermilk.
  2. Using an immersion blender, mix base until smooth and silky. Add basil; mix until finely chopped. Cover and chill 2 days.
  3. Blend base with immersion blender; strain into an ice cream maker. Process according to manufacturer’s directions.
  4. Meanwhile, grate chocolate on the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl. Add ice cream and fold to evenly incorporate chocolate. Transfer to an airtight container. Cover and freeze at least 2 hours before scooping.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • Nada


  • Basil stems, egg shells


  • Cream, milk, buttermilk containers
  • Condensed milk can/lid


  • Sweetened condense milk is in a plethora of recipes.  Just google it 😉

Chocolate Zucchini Cake – Taking Something Nutritious and Making It Into Something That Is Not



It was not a good week at work.  So bad I carried it home for the holiday weekend. I despise feeling bad so I’ve decided to be proactive in my blues.  I am doing all I feel I should do to shake it: reading, writing, manual labor, being with my kids and now….baking.  Alas, chocolate.

Note to self: always start with chocolate.

My son took this of me as I was putting on my work boots for the morning farming and curious why I was wearing those with my dress.

My son took this of me in my office as I was putting on my work boots for the morning farming.  The fashionista that he is was curious why I was wearing the boots with my dress.  Little did he know I was killing it that day.  Farming and working girl…I can do it all kid.

The week prior, this was not the case, in fact the complete opposite.  I was on top of my game!  I even took the morning shift to help with the school farm for a week.  I’d arrive earlier than my scheduled time, put on my work boots and clean chicken poo, along with feeding adorable rabbits and watering the most beautiful plants.  It’s a biodynamic farm (check that out if you want your mind blown).  So as I was watering I couldn’t help but notice these giant pumpkins, white eggplant, all types of tomatoes and zucchini and squash and so much more.  Not only was I being equipped with fresh eggs but our Agricultural Arts teacher who is in charge of this biodynamc garden, handed me an organic zuch that was ginormous.  I thoroughly enjoyed my week of helping out and being of service to my school.  Very much so.  And after I was done spending an hour in the garden I would trudge my way to my office to start working on getting things up and going for our new school year.

And then this week happened.

Now most people have an overabundance of zucchini in their gardens.  I do not because I know others do and I will get them, therefore, not needing to waste the space in my raised bed.

Manipulative – yes.

Helpful – you’re welcome.

This morning I noticed the zucchini waiting to be sautéed or barbecued or added to a delicious soup.  And I laughed at it.  I decided to make a cake.  A chocolate cake at that.  Now everyone knows how much moisture a zucchini can provide a quick bread or muffin.  Thats easy.  But what about a cake for crying out loud?!  I decided to make this cake, add this delightful zucchini and let those nutritious people scoff at me under their breaths.

Yes I know I am taking a perfectly nutritious zucchini and adding glutton and sugar to it.

Yes I know there are so many other ways to take a thoughtfully, organically grown zucchini from our precious school and savor it as is….

I’m sorry, did you not read above?

I’m having a bad week and if I want zucchini chocolate cake,

I’m going to get it.

Damn it.

So here I am, just getting done staining our deck for winter – when I get my chocolaty idea.  I grab my apron and get to work.

Am I a farm girl yet!?

All of the farm girls,

in unison,

just rolled their eyes

and shook their heads –


I used a recipe to help get an idea of measurements and then quickly just did the deal on my own.  This is what I came up with.  Please know I will give you the recipe as a sea-level lovely would make it and will make high altitude rock star adjustments at the end of the recipe as usual.


1 3/4 cup of sugar

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk (don’t have any?  Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon or vinegar to 1/2 cup of milk, let it stand to curdle and voila!)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups finely zucchini (shred using a food processor, then change out shredding disc for the  blade and pulse a few times to make into smaller pieces)

Powdered sugar for sprinkling


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour a bundt cake or fluted tube pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl: beat sugar, and butter.  Add eggs, buttermilk and vanilla; mix well.
  3. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture.
  4. Stir in the zucchini.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the cake cook 10 minutes on a wire rack prior to removing it from the pan.
  7. Once completely cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar because we always can use more sugar.

High Altitude Adjustments

  • Increase flour to 3 cups
  • Decrease baking soda to 3/4 teaspoon
  • Decrease baking powder to 1/4 teaspoon


  • Egg shells
  • Zucchini trimmings


  • Butter wrapper(s)

Apple Crumble Pie with Shortbread Crust – Oh Yes I Did

photoI was feeling quite guilty being too tired to make a market stop after high-tailing it to Costco this morning.  I don’t have German chocolate and a German Chocolate Cake is what I make my husband every year for his birthday.  That is, for the last 13 years I have made a German Chocolate Cake on or near March 3rd.  Guilt.  Puuuure guilt.  So I looked at my loot from Costco and decided I’ll make a pie .  God knows I can afford to use a few apples out of the 20 pack of organic Fuji’s I just bought.

Ummm, I really don’t want to make a pastry crust though.  I want it sweeter, maybe a bit more decadent.  Afterall, I am trying to make an apple pie on equal playing grounds with a German Chocolate Cake.  What made me think of shortbread is beyond me.  Who ever heard of an apple crumble with a shortbread crust?

(Rhetorical question thank you very much)

So we came home, I built a fire (it’s cold outside!) and while the kids played Lego’s I went to work.  Here is what I came up with.  After my 5th peeled and sliced apple I wondered if I made too much filling.   It overflowed so much I was afraid my crumble would crumble.  But alas!  It stayed true to form and came out a champ.

photo 2

(I am currently eating my second piece as I write this)

‘Tis sweet.  Oh, but not too.

‘Tis decadent.  Hmm, but not too.

‘Tis delicious.  Completely.

It ain’t no German chocolate, but it’ll do.

Happy baking friends!


For the Shortbread Crust:

1 cup unbleached flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cold & cubed
1 teaspoon salt

Apple Filling:

8 cups apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour, unbleached or all-purpose
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Crumble Topping:

1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unbleached or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, cold & cubed
1/4 teaspoon salt

1    cup    unbleached white flour ( or all purpose flour )
2    tablespoons    brown sugar
1/2    cup    butter ( cold & cubed )
1    teaspoon    salt


Shortbread Crust:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Combine flour, brown sugar and salt into a food processor, then add the cubed butter.  Pulse until the butter is pea-sized.  Press into a 9″ round pie dish – deep dish 1

Apple Filling:
Stir the ingredients together and pour over the unbaked shortbread crust.

Crumble Topping
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until the butter is pea-sized.  Spread over the apple filling.
Place in a preheated and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown on top.  Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • None


  • Apple peels and cores
  • Juiced lemon


  • Butter wrappers


  • Plastic bags fruit came in

Chai Latte Bars and the Undying Christmas Spirit

chaiI’m going to tell you something.  I feel we’re close enough.  It’s that part in the relationship where we can either move forward, you knowing everything about me, or we can end it because-you’ll now know my secret.  So here it goes.  If you take it wrong and want to break up, I’m okay with it.  Know that I’ll miss you and that I’ve enjoyed our time together.  I wish you well, nothing but the best.

Ahem…did it just get hot in here?  All of a sudden I’m sweating.

Stuttering a bit.


Haha…oh my god no.  I’m just, um…













I heard a few laptops slam.  I even heard a few iPads hit the floor.  Whatever.  And really, more like the Christmas spirit.   I’ve been listening to Christmas music since Thanksgiving.  I have actually made a Pandora Christmas music station and it’s got all the goodies.  Bing.  Frank.  Etta…

I listen to it all day in my office.  After listening to it all the way to work.  And then all the way from work.  And my laptop plays it as I cook.  My boys, if the house is quiet, will ask that it be turned on while we play.

My house has been decorated since Thanksgiving.  Stockings hung with care.  Tree trimmed.  Piles upon piles of presents filling the undercarriage of our tree.  I will walk by on my way to do something productive and will stop, sit and shake boxes.  Especially the ones with my name on them.  I use to peek, but I’m far too old for those silly shenanigans.  I’ve already watched Holiday Inn, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Three times each.

When I was a child,

Truly, since we are being honest here,

until the day I moved out…

Well, and even then I’d call to wake everyone up.

Oh Christ I’m a freak.

I would be the first to wake on Christmas morning.  With goose bumps all over and a belly full of butterflies.  Uh, back up.

Christmas Eve is my actual favorite.  The anticipation of the next morning to come was like crack for me.  I was so happy.  We would have the best holiday party at our neighbors house.  Be flanked with gifts as we were the only children around.  Stay up late.  Then run to bed as SANTA IS COMING!!!!!!

So back to that morning.

Oh my gosh, I bet it wasn’t even 5am when I’d wake.  I remember I’d lay in my bed, eyes bigger than saucers, gripping my blanket and thinking…this is the feeling, the exact moment that I look forward to all.year.long.  This is it.  Relish, revel, enjoy.  And I would.  I’d lay there for about 5 or so minutes just giddy as all hell.  Knowing that it was Christmas morning.

I’d put my feet on the floor, and for just a moment…sit.

Then in a blink of an eye I’d sprint to my sister’s room:


And then I’d run to my brother’s room:


Then all three of us would run and jump onto our parents bed (because no matter how cool my older brother and younger sister thought they were, they’d totally be into it by now):




And yes, I was well into my twenties doing this.  My brother and sister (and myself) would be hungover from the festivities of the night prior but because I am your sister and you are waking up early.

So now my 5-year-old and I stay up past his bedtime talking about Christmas.  We both snuggle in his bed and whisper as not to wake little brother, or get in trouble by Dad.  We discuss everything.  Mostly the plan of Christmas morning.  I’m begging him to wake me first (sucker, I’m so waking up before him) but he says he won’t because I’ll be too crazy.

Smartest kid I know.

That special feeling I get as I fall to sleep on Christmas Eve and that moment I wake up on Christmas morning is like no other.  The Christmas spirit is alive and well in this Jewish girl.

Thanks Food Network for a fab recipe.  Happy holidays friends.


2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

3 tablespoons malted milk powder (original or vanilla flavor)

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

9 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

Nonpareils, for decorating (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 sides. Butter the parchment. Whisk the flour, oats, malted milk powder, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  3. Bake until the top is golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the white chocolate, then return to the oven until the chocolate softens, about 45 seconds. Remove from the oven and spread the chocolate into a smooth layer. Top with nonpareils. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely, then lift out of the pan using the parchment; cut into squares.

Cranberry Bundt Cake – ‘Tis the Season to Eat Cranberries

cranberry3Oh cranberries.  You tart little devils of love.  I devour you in any form and go for more.  I stock up on bags and bags and place you in my freezer so that I may enjoy your little bursts all year-long.  Well, here we are again.  Another year of stocking up.  Another year of pumpkin cranberry bread, cranberry relish and finally…a new recipe!  On the cover of Eating Well Magazine for December 2013 was a beautiful cover….cranberries.  What I found inside….more cranberries.  ‘Tis the season friends.

Here is a fabulous recipe for a home-made bundt cake. The inside has a lovely filling of cranberries cooked down with some juice and brown sugar.  The cake, made with some whole-wheat flour, shredded apple and toasted walnuts.  This is an earthy, hearty, beautiful cake to present to friends, family or just to you.  I loved using Greek yogurt  and allspice.  I felt this dense bundt was perfect for a brunch or afternoon snack.  It screams Winter and my friends certainly enjoyed it, as did I.

I did not make any changes other than altitude changes which are noted at the end of this post.  Thank you Eating Well Magazine!

Happy baking friends!



1 12-ounce package fresh cranberries
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup 100% cranberry juice or water
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or pumpkin pie spice


1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour (see Tips)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 medium apple or ripe but firm pear, shredded
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts


1/2 cup confectioners sugar (powdered)

1-2 tablespoons water


  1. To prepare filling: Combine cranberries, brown sugar, juice (or water) and allspice (or pumpkin pie spice) in a small nonreactive saucepan (see Tips). Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar is melted. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the cranberries have burst, 5 to 6 minutes. Set aside.cranberry1
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 10-cup bundt or tube pan with cooking spray.
  3. To prepare cake: Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Combine yogurt and vanilla in a small bowl.
  4. Beat butter, oil and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the yogurt mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients and beating on low speed just until incorporated after each addition, scraping down the sides as necessary. Fold in apple (or pear) and walnuts.
  5. Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan. Spoon the filling on top of the batter, leaving a little border of batter on both sides. Top with the remaining batter and smooth the top.cranberry2
  6. Bake the cake until light brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and center, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely, about 2 hours.
  7. To prepare glaze: Place confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon water and stir until smooth. Add more water as needed to achieve a thick glaze consistency. Paint the glaze over the cooled cake with a pastry brush.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • Increase all-purpose flour to 2 cups
  • Decrease baking powder to 3/4 teaspoon
  • Increase shredded apple or pear to 2 (it’s dry here!)


  • egg shells, apple or pear peels and core


  • Cranberry bag
  • Greek yogurt container/lid
  • Butter wrapper


  • None

Fall Celebration – A Sweet Party

fallA month back I thought.  Damn.  I love Fall.  I love Fall so much.  I want to marry Fall.  And in true form, instead of celebrating nuptials with a season I decided to throw a party for my love of pumpkin, apples, cinnamon and wood burning fires.

That we did.  We had a fire going on inside, a bon fire going on outside.  A drum circle started in the sunroom and kids with capes and swords were running around the house playing and happy.  Some were cozied up on the couch with a warm drink and food.  Some were accumulated around the fire outside roasting marshmallows and enjoying a beer.  Some were jumping on our trampoline in the dark and some were playing horseshoes with the lanterns we had lit.  All was fabulous.  Worth the hard work in preparation.  A good night.

I decided to throw this friendly style.  All real plates, utensils and cloth napkins.

I decided to throw this party….eco friendly style. All real plates, utensils and cloth napkins.

Although the guest list seem to grow on a daily basis, I thought….it can still be a green party.  We can do this.  Even if it means washing or running the dishwasher.  But alas, I seemed to have accumulated plenty of dishes throughout my years.  Thanks to Grandma’s who clean out their kitchens.

To make my life easier as now I am a working person, I decided to make this pot luck style.  We’ll supply the desserts and drinks, you come and bring a savory dish.  Voila, the party was born.  I wanted to start planning.  So drinks…

Mulled hot cider, pumpkin spice coffee, a cooler full of Izze's and water and of course....a keg.

Mulled hot cider, pumpkin spice coffee, a cooler full of Izze’s and water and of course….a keg.

Next I needed to decide on the plethora of desserts.  Thanks to Fall themed magazines, this was quite the easy task.

Apple cider doughnuts and mini-spiced cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting.

Apple cider doughnuts and mini-spiced cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting.

And because I am crazy, and unable to stop there, I decided to add…

Pumpkin Chocolate Tiramisu and fresh apple slices with a warm caramel dip.

Pumpkin Chocolate Tiramisu and fresh apple slices with a warm caramel dip.

I decided to start off the savory dishes with a pumpkin macaroni and cheese and was excited to watch this table fill up with all kinds of yummy dishes...

I wanted to kick-off the savory dishes with a pumpkin macaroni and cheese and was excited to watch this table fill up with all kinds of yummy dishes…

Here are my afterthoughts for throwing an eco-friendly party for about 50 people:

  • I’ll do it again.  Yes, I was nervous people would feel inclined to do dishes so I tried to intercept as much as possible.
  • Yes, I was nervous about the small children and glass dishes.  But our friends are very involved, responsible parents and I didn’t feel I needed to micro-manage.
  • No, the dishes did not pile up, I simply rinsed and loaded my dishwasher.
  • In the end, I didn’t have enough utensils, so plastic was succumbed to toward the very end of the night when seconds on the desserts were being consumed.
  • Using real plates, utensils and cloth napkins made me feel better about my décor (let alone the minimal waste aspect).


Apple Cider Doughnut Holes

These were great although I doubled the recipe and tried to incorporate high-altitude adjustments.  Don’t.  They don’t need more flour or less baking powder.  I made the batter too thick and needed to add more baking powder at the last-minute because I didn’t add the full amount at the beginning.  So my suggestion, make as is.  Don’t double, don’t adjust.  These were yummos.  Thanks Rachael Ray Magazine.


1 cup cider

4 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 cups vegetable oil, for frying


  1. In a small saucepan, boil the cider until it reduces to 2/3 cup, about 6-8 minutes.  Add the butter and stir until melted; remove from heat and let cool.  Whisk in the egg.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, 6 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the salt.  Stir in the cider mixture until just blended.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 10 tablespoons of sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.
  4. In a large saucepan, het the oil until a deep-fry thermometer registers 340 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
  5. When the oil is hot, drop 5 -6 tablespoon-sized scoops of dough into the oil.  Fry, turning, until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per batch.  Transfer the doughnuts to the baking sheet and let cool.  Toss with the cinnamon sugar.

Chocolate Pumpkin Tiramisu

A few things, I tripled this recipe because of the size of the crowd.  Now I am known for making way too much.  Well, that was way  too much.  Also, I had made this without the bourbon, but alas, I am sure the bourbon would have added much more flavor.  Use the liquor.  Also, up on this insane mountain top there was not to be found any Italian ladyfingers so I had to succumb to the bakery ladyfingers that are basically sponge cake.  Lesson learned.  Don’t do that.  If you are unable to find Italian ladyfingers, the hard cookie, use a shortbread cookie.  The sponge cake just mushed in with the ricotta filling.  No fun.  You want that element of crunch and you want to soak the cookies in that delectable mixture this recipe calls for.  Thanks again Rachael Ray Mag…


1 bar (3.5 oz) dark chocolate (50-60% cacao)

3/4 cup hot coffee (I used pumpkin spice coffee)

5 tablespoons bourbon

1 1/2 cups mascaropone

1 cup confectioners sugar

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1 package (7oz) Italian ladyfingers (about 24 cookies)


  1. On a cutting board, coarsely chop half the chocolate.  Transfer to a large bowl, add the coffee and whisk until the chocolate melts.  Whisk in 2 tablespoons bourbon.
  2. In a another bowl, combine the mascarpone, confectioners sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, cinnamon and the remaining 3 tablespoons bourbon.  Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until fluffy, 1-2 minutes.  Add the pumpkin; mix on medium-low until blended and creamy.
  3. Working with about 1/3 of the ladyfingers, dip and roll the cookies, one at a time, in the chocolate mixture until soaked but not soggy, 3-4 seconds.  Arrange in single layers in the bottoms of six 8-oz glasses, breaking the cookies if needed.  Divide 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture along the glasses, spooning it on top of the cookies and spreading evenly.  Grate about 1/3 of the remaining chocolate evenly over the pumpkin mixture.
  4. Repeat the layers twice more with the remaining cookies, pumpkin mixture and chocolate.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.  Serve cold.

Caramel Dip

At first I was going to do full on caramel apples.  I got the large pack of granny smith from Costco and several bags of the caramel squares.  So then the numbers grew and I knew that 9 large caramel apples will leave some kids wondering why they didn’t get one.  So I decided on a caramel dip.  I scoured Pinterest and put a few recipes together to come up with this one…


1/2 cup salted butter

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk, stirring to combine. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a light bubbly boil.  Remove from heat right away and add the vanilla. Stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature with apple slices and pretzels or drizzle over ice cream.

Mini-Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

This was a last-minute decision.  I wanted something else.  I know right, like I needed  to add a dessert.  But I did.  I couldn’t help myself.  I’ve been wanting to make mini-cupcakes!  And I do love piping…  I searched Pinterest yet again and kind of came up with my idea of a spice cupcake.  High altitude adjustment: increase flour to 2 1/2 cups, decrease baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Ingredients-spice cake

2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons molasses
¾ cup buttermilk


6 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a mixing bowl, sifted together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
3. Using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4. With the mixer running, add one egg at a time followed by the molasses and buttermilk and mix until just combined.
5. Whisk the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir until no lumps remain.
6. Line a mini muffin tin with mini cupcake liners and fill each liner 2/3 way up with batter.
7. Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when removed from the center.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time until fully incorporated. Scraped down the sides of the bowl and stir in the vanilla.

Pipe frosting and I sprinkled with some ground cinnamon.

Macaroni and Cheese

I made this up as I went, utilizing ingredients I had in the fridge such as buttermilk and gouda in the freezer.  This was fantastic.  Rich, but so warm and gooey.  Add cooked chicken and/or broccoli for a perfectly warm wholesome meal.


1 lb small elbo pasta
2 cups canned pumpkin
2 cups buttermilk
8 oz cream cheese
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated gouda cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper


  1. Cook macaroni in salted water and drain.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat blend cream cheese, pumpkin and buttermilk until smooth.
  3. Mix together grated cheeses in a bowl and reserve 1 cup.  Add remaining cheeses and seasonings to saucepan.  Stir until well blended.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in macaroni.
  5. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan and top with the reserved cheeses.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I hope you find time to celebrate the changing of the seasons.  Even if it’s just taking a stroll with a loved one, hand in hand…

Salted Caramel-Apple Upside-Down Cake

upsidedowncakeIt started out horribly.  Thursday I leave work because I have become violently ill.

Let’s back up.

Once a year some ladies and myself rent beautiful cabins in the woods and have ourselves a luxurious time in the mountains: hiking, eating, laughing, relaxing, napping, hot spring-ing and more eating.  I look forward to October all year.  Flash forward to this summer.  Our cabins are picked out, roommates and menus planned.  My bags are packed way too early.

As usual.

Flash forward to this past Thursday.  Friday was our ETA.  And Thursday I have been hit with the 24 hour flu.  The last time I was this violently ill was when I was 20 and had to be taken to the nearest Urgent Care to get an IV to replenish my body with fluids.  Don’t worry, I won’t go into specifics, this is a cake recipe for gods sake.  The point is, I thought I was not going to be able to go to this retreat and I was devastated.  I was also feeling completely awful that I had left my work high and dry with our most important deadline we’ll have all year.  But I was a mess, and of no use to anyone.

Friday morning comes around and I have not been sick for about 8 hours.  I was able to keep dry toast down.  I had stayed home from work as my body was so weak.  Eleven a.m. rolls around and I was able to eat a little more.  Little less bland, so the clouds start to part…just a bit.  I call my friend, so….I have been quite ill.  But I don’t have a fever.  I haven’t been sick in close to 12 hours.  What do you think?

You’re not driving.  All you have to do is sit in the passenger seat and relax with ginger ale.

Once we get there you can just relax in front of the fire.  Read your book, nap.

In fact, you’ll probably get more rest there than at home.

So I go.  Slowly, slowly I get more energy.  I purposely did not pack my swim suit for the hot springs nor did I bring my hiking boots.  All I brought were 2 big books, UGGs, thermal tops and leggings.  I was going to recover, with my GIRLS!

Yet, because I can’t help being me…I arrive and bake a goddamn cake.  That’s right.  I walked into that cabin and whipped it up and holy good god.  Yes!  It was good.  A perfectly warm cake for such a chilly evening in the mountains.  Once the cake was made, I stretched out on the couch and enjoyed the most relaxing weekend I have had in quite some time.

Yay me.

I had made this recipe as printed in the Food Network Magazine, October 2013.  It is made with oranges yet I don’t feel the oranges were the best fruit choice.  The salt at the end dehydrated them and they become a bit bitter.  No matter how sweet those navels were.  So I have changed the recipes to apples.  I have put down the easy peasy caramel recipe as well but I’ll be honest, I had a jar of caramel topping that I wanted out of my fridge so I just heated that up a bit and used that.

This is a super-duper easy cake to make.  Upside-down cakes usually are.  Please try this.  It is absolutely a lovely choice for a dinner party or just to celebrate the chillier evenings.

Enjoy your friends, friends.  Happy baking.


For the caramel:

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon salted butter

4 granny smith apples, peel and core apples

For the cake:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 stick salted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

Sea salt, for sprinkling


  1. Make the caramel: Combine the sugar, 1/3 cup water and the kosher salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Cook, gently swirling the pan occasionally but not stirring, until amber, 8 to 10 minutes. Brush any sugar crystals off the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the butter (the mixture will bubble). Pour into a 9-inch-round cake pan, tilting the pan to coat the bottom; set aside.
  2. Slice apples into medium-thin wedges.  Saute in a few tablespoons of butter on the stove top in a frying pan for about 5 minutes, or until slightly cooked.
  3. Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt until well combined.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with flour, until just smooth.
  5. Arrange the apple slices the cake pan in concentric circles. Add the batter and smooth the top. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. (Tent with foil if the top gets too dark.) Transfer to a rack and let cool slightly, then run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a platter. Let cool completely. Sprinkle with sea salt.
My work here is done...time to relax in front of the fire with a good book.

My work here is done…time to relax in front of the fire with a good book.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • Omit baking powder
  • Increase baking soda to 1 teaspoon
  • Increase flour to 1 1/2 cups


  • Apple peels and cores
  • Egg shells


  • Sour cream container and lid
  • Almond bag
  • Any used container


  • Plastic bag apples came in

Seafood Stew, Summer Wheat Bread and Nectarine Cobbler – Flood Alert

020Funny thing happened this a.m.  Well let’s back up.  So here in Colorado, we’re a little wet.  Scary wet actually.  So it took some determined crawling out of my way cozy bed this morning.  So cozy I must explain.  It is cold here in the Rockies kiddos!  Cold.  My husband tends to run warm so the comforter is just fine for him.  Me?  4 afghans on my side!  Stacked up high.  And I am not exaggerating at all.  I went up and counted to secure the accuracy of my statement.  I was so cozy.  But alas, I had to get to work early today for a budget meeting.  So I get up and get dressed and go.

Driving down the pass was eery.  My gut was screaming to turn around.  They have made the East hand side a 2 lane highway for both directions.  Cones everywhere.  Police lights flashing.  Warning signs blaring through the heavy mist and constant rain.  People driving 30-35 mph.  It’s a slow crawl down the mountain.  Boulders looming over head and the heart beats a bit quicker when the thought occurs…

hmmmm, those could fall at any moment.

I get to the school and it is quiet.  Weird quiet.  It was even weirder when I had to turn off the alarm after going inside.  Usually that has been deactivated for at least a good hour as our organic breakfast program should be well underway.

But whatever.  I get situated.  Turn on lights, put my yogurt in the fridge, open some windows to let the wondrous rain air seep into my office.  I sit down, sip my warm coffee and turn on my Mac to check some emails before the meeting starts.

“School Closed Today”

Oh crap.  Crap, crap, crap, crap!

The first thought that went through my head was so vain and so superficial that I am almost embarrassed to tell you.

My outfit was so cute!

Usually it takes me a good few tries at my outfit resulting in the closet on my floor but today was jean day!!!!  And my jeans are fitting so nicely these days due to the inability to find time to eat.

Very unhealthy, I do not recommend!

So I pack up my stuff, set the alarm and head up the mountain.  I see the flashing sign that says:

“Driving Not Recommended”

So I speed up.

They’re going to shut down that pass at any minute and my cozy pants are all the way up the mountain!

As well as my kids, of course.

The thought of being cozy in my house as it storms outside is just too enticing.  And I figure, in my realist-pessimistic mind, that learning to drive treacherous terrain could come in handy one day.

You know, with World War III looming at every squabble.

So I made it home!  And I want to make yummy, warm food!  So I will be making summer wheat bread.  I check the fridge and noticed my husband, the current dinner-maker of the house, has some seafood defrosting so instead of the intended seafood lo-mein I am going to throw together a seafood stew!  I just made it up.  I know what I like, if you do not like the same just substitute.  Add potatoes if you don’t have a lot of seafood.  Add different seafood than what I have listed.  Flex those creative muscles that you’ve got goin’ on!

Oh darn, my nectarines are super ripe.  Better make a cobbler as well.

Happy cooking friends and to all of you Coloradans out there, stay safe and on higher ground if possible.

Nectarine Cobbler (search on the Food Network website), best cobbler ever!

Nectarine Cobbler (search on the Food Network website), best cobbler ever!


1/3 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup canned diced tomatoes , pureed

1 cup chicken broth

1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

4-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)

4-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 8oz bottles of clam juice

1 lb bay scallops

1 lb raw, deveined and shelled shrimp.


  1. In a large saucepan, saute the onion, red pepper and garlic in oil until tender. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, clam juice, vinegar, oregano, parsley, Worcestershire sauce and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the scallops and shrimp. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and scallops are opaque.

High Altitude Adjustment

  • None


  • Onion and garlic trimmings.


  • Tomato can/lid


  • If you have the shrimp shells, freeze for a later use.  They come in great for making your own seafood broth.

Summer Wheat Bread


1 3/8 cups water

1 1/2 tablespoons  oil

2 tablespoons  molasses

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups  bread flour

2 cups  whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons  active dry yeast


  1. Measure and add liquid ingredients to bread pan.
  2. Measure and add dry ingredients (except yeast) to bread pan.
  3. Use finger to form well in the flour and put the yeast in it. Making sure yeast doesn’t come in contact with any liquid.
  4. Put pan in maker and close lid. Choose “whole wheat” setting and crust color. Press start. (I like to get the dough part made in the machine and then before the last rise form the dough, put it on my bread baking stone and let it rise 30 minutes, then bake in the oven.  I just like the shape of the bread better when I form it as opposed to the bread machine container.)

High Altitude Adjustment

  • Decrease yeast to 1 1/2 teaspoons
What is better than hot home-bread out of the oven with gobs and gobs of butter?

What is better than hot home-bread out of the oven with gobs and gobs of butter?