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Archive for April, 2010

Zucchini casserole

This was a really nice way to have zucchini. I would definitely serve this again as a side dish. Today it was our main because I wanted to make bread today instead of a protein. I made a couple of substitutions, and they worked well. My main change was that I did not pre-cook the zucchini at all, and I seasoned the halves before putting the topping on. This resulted in tender but not mushy, good-tasting zucchini. My sauce was more of a topping and didn’t really pour. I baked for 37-38 minutes and then turned the broiler on for a minute or two.

I cut the recipe in half.


  • 8 zucchini
  • 1/2 cup butter (I used 1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese (I used some cheddar, some mexican blend cheese because I didn’t have enough cheddar)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • paprika (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs or crushed cracker (I used ritz pretzel crackers – so good! I used maybe 12 for four zucchini halves, but only needed about 1/2 of the crumbs)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Wash zucchini; boil whole for 5 to 10 minutes–no more. – I skipped this
  2. Cut off ends and slice in halves lengthwise. Season zucchini!
  3. Place in single layer in buttered casserole dish.
  4. Melt butter and mix in cheddar cheese, sour cream, salt, paprika, and chives.
  5. Pour over zucchini.
  6. Sprinkle with bread crumbs or crackers and then parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until bubbly.


I don’t know why I even bothered with the bread machine Challah bread. It was so much more fun to make it from scratch and braid the dough to make one beautiful loaf of bread. This recipe had oil and water instead of milk, which apparently is a lot more traditional. Jacob said it tasted like Challah and he really liked it. I used a RZ recipe, but referred to Baking Bite’s version for a link on how to braid. The two recipes are almost exactly the same, but BB’s had a little more liquid. I only used 3 1/2 cups of flour to make my bread. I kneaded the dough in my Kitchen Aid for about 8 minutes, then kneaded it by hand until it was smooth. My first rise was 1 1/2 hours, and my second was 1 hr. It took a few extra minutes to come to temperature, and I had to cover it with foil at the end. I wish I had covered it at around 30 minutes because it got a tiny bit too brown.

Challah 1 (Braided Egg Bread) – RZ


  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 3 teaspoons yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • sesame seed or poppy seed (I left this out.)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/2 cup water in bowl of mixer. Sprinkle yeast over water and mix,let stand 10 minutes until foamy.
  2. Add the next 6 ingredients to mixing bowl. Mix with dough hook for 6 minutes. Dough should be a little sticky.
  3. Place in oiled bowl, cover and let rise in warm place until double in bulk.
  4. Punch down dough. Let rise again until double in bulk.
  5. Punch down again. Divide dough into 3 equal parts.
  6. Roll dough into three long strands. Braid the strands, tucking ends under. Cover with towel and let double in bulk.
  7. Brush with beaten egg yolk. Sprinkle with seeds. Bake at 400 F for approximately 30 minutes, until golden brown. The challah is done when it sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Here’s a link to Baking Bites and the step by step on braiding.


Strawberry almond creme tart

I made a lot of adjustments to this recipe to make this work for me, and the end result turned out delicious. First, I wanted to make individual tarts instead of one big one, because I read that the creme filling makes the crust soggy after one day. I also changed the crust recipe to make it more tasty. My crust was one package of crushed graham crackers, 3 tbsp sugar, and 5 tbsp butter. I used my muffin tin, and paper liners sprayed with cooking spray to ensure they wouldn’t stick. I put a HEAPING tbsp of graham cracker crumbs into the liners and pressed down and a little up the sides. I baked them at 350 for about 9 minutes.

For some reason, I halved the filling and topping recipes, but made the entire crust recipe. Now I have a lot of unbaked graham cracker crust in my fridge.

For the filling, I increased the cream cheese to 1/2 cup, or 4 oz. I also added a big big spoonful of sour cream. I liked the use of two extracts. I followed the glaze recipe exactly (except for cutting it in half.) The glaze is essentially a strawberry jam, and it makes me want to experiment with more jam recipes. To assemble, I put a spoonful of filling in the crust, layered some glaze, then some thinly sliced strawberries tossed with a little lemon juice and triple sec. I put a few toasted, sliced almonds on top.

I got 12 tarts out of this recipe. These were very refreshing and rival the La Madeleine fruit tarts I love so much.


CRUST: (I got my crust recipe from AR)

  • 36  honey graham crackers (about 9 sheets)
  • 2  tablespoons  sugar
  • 2  tablespoons  butter, melted
  • 4  teaspoons  water
  • Cooking spray


  • 2/3  cup  light cream cheese
  • 1/4  cup  sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/4  teaspoon  almond extract


  • 6  cups  small fresh strawberries, divided
  • 2/3  cup  sugar
  • 1  tablespoon  cornstarch
  • 1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
  • 2  tablespoons  sliced almonds, toasted


Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare crust, place crackers in a food processor; process until crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, butter, and water; pulse just until moist. Place mixture in a 9-inch round removable-bottom tart pan coated with cooking spray, pressing into bottom and up sides of pan to 3/4 inch. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, combine cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, and extracts in a medium bowl; stir until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over bottom of tart shell.

To prepare topping, place 2 cups strawberries in food processor; process until pureed. Combine strawberry puree, 2/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook 1 minute. Remove glaze from heat, and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Combine 4 cups strawberries and juice; toss to coat. Arrange berries, bottoms up, in a circular pattern over filling. Spoon half of glaze evenly over berries (reserve remaining glaze for another use). Sprinkle nuts around edge. Cover and chill 3 hours.

Note: You can use either an 8 x 12-inch rectangular pan or a 9-inch round tart pan. The recipe also works with a 9-inch springform pan and a 10-inch pie plate.

Bread machine challah bread

So I consider Jacob to be a challah bread eating expert, and he said this recipe doesn’t really taste like challah. I really liked how it tasted because it kind of reminded me of fuddrucker’s buns. It was sweet and fluffy and soft. It was pretty doughy and pretty sweet. It could easily be transformed into a desert recipe. It sliced easily, but I ripped my pieces off of the deformed top.

This recipe didn’t work that well in my bread maker. It rose way over the bowl and actually hit the top of the lid. Jacob said the top middle looked gooey when it was done baking. By the time I got home, I guess it finished cooking because it was completely cooked. The loaf was really ugly because it was made in the bread maker. I would like to make another challah recipe, but I won’t use the bread maker. It’s convenient and easy, but the loaves make too big of slices with too-browned edges.

This recipe is REALLY similar to the Tasty Buns recipe on All Recipes.


  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast


  1. Add ingredients to the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer.
  2. Select Basic Bread and Light Crust settings. Start.

Ultimate stand mixer cookies

Amazingly, I was able to wait almost 24 hours to bake this cookies. That doesn’t mean I didn’t allow myself generous helpings of the dough! The dough was very soft and almost fluffy, it had to be refridgerated. My cookies were a lot flatter than the picture at Cookie Madness. Looks like I’ll have to try the tip of a little extra flour next time. I have half of the dough left, but it’s already shaped into balls and in the freezer. I think I’ll try baking them straight from the freezer, to see if they bake up thicker.

I halved this recipe, and put chopped semisweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate chips, and toasted walnuts in half of the dough. In the other half, I put a little less of the chocolates, Heath toffee bits, and candied cashews (recipe at the bottom.) Both versions were delicious, but I’ll always prefer the weirder mix-ins! Candied cashews are great in cookies. I can’t even describe these cookies, they’re just GOOD. Chewy and a little gooey with a slightly crisper edge. Mine baked for about 11 minutes.

I tried to pick a favorite between this recipe and the award winning soft recipe, but I just couldn’t! They’re so different, but I like them both so much! I even tried the cookies in their standard form (chocolate and walnuts) and ate them back to back.

Ultimate Stand Mixer Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (320 to 350 grams) — see note about measuring
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 oz unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces (230 grams)
1 cup very firmly packed light brown sugar (240 grams)
3/4 cup granulated sugar (144 grams)
2 large eggs, room temperature (100 grams)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup nuts, chopped and toasted (I use either walnuts or pecans)
14-15 oz chopped, good quality chocolate

Stir together the flour, baking soda and salt; set side.

Beat cold butter until creamy in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add both sugars and continue for 4-5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a full minute after each egg and another minute or two after both eggs have been added. Beat in the vanilla.

With mixer on lowest speed or by hand (I always do this part by hand), add dry ingredients. When incorporated, add chocolate chips and nuts and stir to mix. Dump the dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper, wrap it tightly and chill for 24 hours or as long as you can wait or shape the dough into golf ball size balls and chill the ready-formed balls of dough.

Arrange cookie balls on ungreased cookie sheets spacing about 3 inches apart. Flatten a little to resemble a hockey puck, about 3/4inch high.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes (check at 10, depending on size scoops you actually used). Edges should be golden brown. Let sit at room temperature 5 minutes before taking off baking pan.

Makes about 32 cookies

Note: I’ve made these a couple of times and each time the cookies were a different thickness.  To nail down what was going on, I varied the amount of flour by 30 grams.  Cookies made with 320 grams of flour were quite a bit thinner than the 350 gram measure.  Because 2 1/2 cups of flour can have a different weight every time, I’m keeping that measure the same.  But if don’t have a scale and your cookies are coming out thinner than you’d like, try adding 3 tablespoons of flour.

Candied cashews


  • 3 cups cashew halves and pieces
  • 1 1/2 tbsp egg whites
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, combine cashews and egg white until nuts are thoroughly coated. Add sugar and salt and stir until all is adhered to the nuts. Spread nuts on to ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 20 minutes. Nuts will be moist when they come out of the oven but will dry and spices will form a glaze when they cool. Allow to cool and set aside. (I tasted these once they cooled, and they were way salty. But magically, later on, they tasted just right.)

Award winning soft chocolate chip cookies

I followed the recipe exactly, except for adding 1/4 tsp of kosher salt. (I made 1/2 of the recipe.) My additions (all had bittersweet chocolate chips): candied bacon, candied cashews, toasted walnuts, butterscotch chips. These were so yummy and soft, no crisp edges and gooey centers. I could taste a difference because of the pudding, but I liked it. I really liked the cookies with butterscotch, which is weird because usually I don’t like butterscotch chips that much. I guess two artificial flavors cancel each other out. I have a ton of balls of dough sitting in the freezer now, waiting to be baked! I would definitely make these again, but there’s no way I could pick any chocolate chip cookie recipe as my favorite.

Award winning soft chocolate chip cookies (AR)


  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

Candied bacon:

My ratio is 1/4 cup brown sugar to 4 slices bacon. Place bacon on rack above pan with edges. Sprinkle 1/2 of the sugar on one side of the bacon, then bake at 400 for 15 minutes total. Halfway through, flip the bacon and sprinkle the other side with the rest of the sugar.

Alyson’s broccoli salad

I needed a cold vegetable dish to pack in my lunches, and this was perfect. This concept is VERY popular, and everyone’s recipe is just a tiny bit different. I made a lot of adjustments to this recipe to make it healthier. I used a regular head of broccoli and also a teeny one. For the entire salad, I used one slice of bacon. If I added some salted nuts (maybe cashews or peanuts or sunflower seeds), I could probably just omit the bacon. I made WAY less dressing too. I just mixed it all together the night before. I was going to steam the broccoli a little, but it was fine raw on day 2.


  • 10 slices bacon (1)
  • 1 head fresh broccoli, cut into bite size pieces (1 and about 1/4 heads)
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped (I used the whites and some green of 2 green onions)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (1/2 of a box)
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (prob a tbsp, maybe a little more)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar (big pinch, 1 tbsp)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (a little less than 1/2 cup, closer to 1/3)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds (left out)


  1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the broccoli, onion and raisins. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar and mayonnaise. Pour over broccoli mixture, and toss until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
  3. Before serving, toss salad with crumbled bacon and sunflower seeds.