Wednesday, December 22

Flourless Chocolate Decadence

This was one of the quickest, easiest, most delicious cakes I've ever made. And no gluten! I don't have a good picture of it, because we ate it too fast. Have the oven and boiling water ready to go. It's perfect for a holiday dinner party. Another plus too, this can be made the night before!

Here's the recipe:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Have a kettle full of boiling water ready for your water bath. Grease an 8x2 inch round cake pan, and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

In the top of a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl set in a pan on simmering water, melt:

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate 
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, chopped into pieces

Stir occasionally with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon. In the meanwhile: in a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk, beat until soft peaks form:

5 egg yolks
scant 1/4 tsp cream of tarter

Add slowly, and beat until peaks are stiff, but not dry:

1/4 cup sugar

Set the egg whites aside until chocolate and butter mixture is melted. Once ready, remove chocolate and butter mixture from the heat and whisk in quickly:

5 egg yolks

Fold into the chocolate a quarter of the whipped egg whites. Once incorporated, fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and place the pan inside a shallow baking dish or roasting pan. Pour the boiling water from your kettle into the baking dish halfway up the sides of the cake pan. This will gently cook the cake and help keep the temperature around it even.

Bake for exactly 30 minutes. When done, it will still look sticky in the middle but have a thin shell around the outer edges. Let cool on a rack completely, then put in the refrigerator for an hour or so, or up to overnight if you're preparing this early. When ready to serve, use a knife to separate the cake from the edges of the pan. Flip out onto your cake plate, remove the parchment paper and dust with powdered sugar. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8

Empty Pantry Challenge

In an effort to decrease my food budget, I've recently taken up a new mindset. Before just heading to the grocery when I feel like I have nothing at home, I have challenged myself to make everything I possibly can from what I already have at home. My dish for tonight turned out really well!


Taco ground beef, 1/2 pound approx. (from taco night last night)
Wide egg noodles, 1/2 bag (from Aldi's!)
Indian Korma Sauce, 1/3 jar (from Publix, international section)
Frozen Peas, 1/2 bag
Cabot Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, 1/2 cup (I just love this cheese, so always have some around)

So, what I made was:

Pasta Bake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Boil egg noodles according to the package directions
  3. Combine the beef, peas and Korma sauce in a medium size mixing bowl.
  4. Drain noodles and add to the other ingredients. 
  5. Pour into a glass baking dish. 
  6. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top. 
  7. Bake approximately 15-20 minutes, until all ingredients are warm and delicious. 
  8. Enjoy!

Monday, December 6

Holiday Crafts

I am so excited about the Holidays!!! Even though my house is going to be somewhat turned upside down, I can't wait to pull out the ornaments and stockings, pour some eggnog for me and the kids (a dash of holiday cheer in mine perhaps) and deck the halls!

I just wanted to share pictures of these. While I didn't make them, they are handmade in Sweden. I've been collecting them for a few years now, and get sooo excited when I get to pull them out at Christmastime.
I've always purchased mine in town at a store called 2 Danes (located on White Bridge Road). They are a really cheerful Christmas display, and probably not too hard to make yourself! That's all.  Happy Monday!

Thursday, December 2

Gingerbread House Parade!

Grove Park Inn
Asheville, North Carolina
Ok, I'm diverting just a bit from the schedule this week, because there's just so much going on during the holidays! I'm gonna try my best to stick to it, but I wanted to post some pictures from a recent trip first.

I went up to the mountains over the Thanksgiving holiday to relax for a bit with my boyfriend (ooooooh, wink-wink, giggle-giggle) after all the family dinners were finished. He's very handsome, but no pictures of that. What I wanted to show you, were some pictures of the AMAZING gingerbread houses we saw at the Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, North Carolina. This is an annual competiton that they hold there, and is well worth the visit if you're in the area.

Green Gables in Gingerbread, perhaps...
The Inn itself is full of history. Opening in the summer of 1913, it has seen it's fair share of famous names come through it's doors. From Thomas Edison to William Shatner, F. Scott Fitzgerald to Barack Obama, The Grove Park Inn has been home to over a century of hospitality and history. Now, we didn't stay here, but it is definitely a great spot. Four-star restaurants and a world-renowned spa are also a part of the Inn.

Enough about the'd think I was trying to get some commission or something. Back to the gingerbread houses!

Grand Prize Winner
Gingerbread Nesting Dolls
I was totally amazed at the level of craftsmanship on some of these. I'm not exactly sure what the requirements are, but I believe they were all completely built from gingerbread, candy, etc. No cardboard, etc.

Teen Division Ribbon Winner
Gingerbread Church 
There were probably at least a hundred on display. I have no idea how many more had been entered in the competition. There were three divisions, Child, Teen and Adult. I think I would definitely have had to enter mine in the child division...and it would have lost easily.

The Grand Prize Winner had created a kind of homage to Russian Nesting Dolls, but themed around Christmas and made of Gingerbread. I have to admit though, while they were amazing, I thought some of the others should have won...I dunno, I guess maybe I wanted the Grand Prize Winner to actually be a house.

Adult Division Globe Theatre
Gingerbread House
Teen Division Globe Theatre
Gingerbread House
My favorites were the two Globe Theatres, one in the Teen Division and one in the Adult Division. I loved that the teen entry had a performance of Midsummer's Night Dream happening onstage. I knew immediately when I looked inside and saw the ass's head on Bottom's body.

It was great fun to tour around the Inn and see all these wonderful creations. It was definitely a great way to start getting into the holiday spirit. If you're ever in Asheville between Thanksgiving and New Years, definitely stop by the Grove Park Inn and see all the winners.

So now, everyone go home and make your own Globe Theatre.......yeah right. :)

Wednesday, December 1

Holiday Cinnamon Rolls

All right, all right. I know that making homemade cinnamon rolls is something that's probably not at the top of everyone's list. But, I just can't help it! At the holidays, all I want to do is bake, bake, bake!! This recipe that I found is really delicious, too. And yes, there's tons of sugar, but this is a special occasion kinda thing, so enjoy!

Now, they do take a bit of extra time (the dough needs plenty of time to rise). Make sure to give yourself two to three hours, so you don't end up feeling rushed. It's a really great cold, grey, winter day thing to do. My kids loved helping me roll them out and get them ready to bake. I made ours in the evening, then stored them to be ready for breakfast the next morning....we may also have tried a fresh one just before bed too.

Grocery List:

1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening, softened
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp butter
1 cup sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Recipe: (all the ingredients you need are listed above)

Cinnamon Roll Dough:

1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup shortening, softened
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Stir in milk, sugar, shortening, salt, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until smooth. Mix in enough of the remaining flour just to make the dough easy to handle.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until elastic about 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turn greased side up. Cover and let rise until double, about 1 1/2 hours. (It's ready if an indentation remains when touched.)

Punch dough down. Shape, let rise and bake as directed.

Cinnamon Rolls

4 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Roll the Cinnamon Roll Dough into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Spread with the softened butter. Mix sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle over the rectangle. Roll up tightly, beginning with long side of your rectangle. Stretch the dough to make the shape even. Cut into 1 1/2 inch slices. (I used a very sharp paring knife, but you can also use wire). Place into greased medium sized muffin cups. Let rise until double, about 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Spread rolls with the glaze (recipe below) while still warm.


Mix 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tbps milk and 1 tsp vanilla until glaze is smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk. Pour over the warm Cinnamon Rolls. Then eat and enjoy!!!