Monday, September 28, 2009

Beatty's Chocolate Cake

I’m finally back. Still nursing a slight headache but the Barefoot Bloggers recipe that I missed is helping me get back on track. You know chocolate therapy! This last recipe of the month was picked by Mary of Passionate Perseverance. Mary chose Beatty’s Chocolate Cake which can be found in Barefoot Contessa at Home or at the bottom of this post. This cake is out of this world. It will now be my go to chocolate cake recipe. My one and only complaint is that the espresso was a bit too much. I will reduce the amount next time but definitely keep it in. The comment to the side of the cookbook recipe states to make sure you use two 8 inch by 2 inch cake pans or the batter will run over. I used three 9 inch pans and I was very happy with the appearance of the cake and had no oven fires to put out. Yummy cake! Thank you Mary for choosing this recipe. Don’t know what Barefoot Bloggers are? Click here Barefoot Bloggers.

Ina’s Recipe:


  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (recommended: Callebaut)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Hey All,
I'm missing the Barefoot Bloggers post today. I spent most of the evening in the ER(Ocular Migraine) and was left with no time or desire to bake. I'll post again Friday or Saturday.

Happy Cooking!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Zucchini Rice Casserole

When I was a kid my mom made only one casserole, which I still remember. She continues to make it and so do I. It’s always a hit and always yummy. There is a bit of prep work but with our modern kitchen conveniences it makes short work of it. This casserole is my go to meal whenever I want to bring a meal to someone, as we did this week for our sweet neighbor who had her second baby a few weeks ago. I make this because I can leave it unbaked and then the family can either bake it then or freeze it to eat later. The recipe comes from my mom’s 1974 Southern living Casseroles Cookbook. I’ll give my adapted version that is 35 years in the making. OH, and by the way I remember her telling us she was making this for the first time. She had a small mutiny on her hands…until we all tasted it.

Zucchini Rice Casserole

Adapted from Southern Livings Casseroles Cookbook.

Circa 1974


This will make two casseroles. So if you don’t want to give or freeze one then cut the recipe in half.

  • 3 C cooked rice
  • 2 Lbs. Ground beef, I’ve used ground turkey and it tastes the same.
  • 1 onion
  • Lots of Oregano, I use fresh.
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 6 large zucchini, sliced
  • 2 large tubs or large curd cottage cheese
  • 4 Cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • Breadcrumbs


  • Cook rice. I actually cook mine in the microwave so that I can reduce my amount of prep time.
  • While the rice is cooking brown the beef with the onion and oregano and set-aside until the rice if done cooking.
  • Wash, cut and cook the zucchini. Leave it a bit al dente as it will bake again and you don’t want it mushy. Again, I use the microwave to do this step.
  • While the zucchini is cooking mix the beef and rice together. I just dump the rice into the cooling pan with the beef.

After the zucchini is cooked it's time to start layering the casserole.

Here is the order:

  • ½ of the zucchini
  • Rice/beef mixture
  • Cottage cheese
  • Zucchini
  • Cream of mushroom soup
  • Breadcrumbs
Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.

Time to eat! YUM!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Eggplant Dip

Here is a recipe for a fast, easy and basically healthy dip. Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I love to have this dip on my sandwiches, pizza, veggies and of course with chips.





Olive Oil





Slice eggplant into rounds salt one side and let it rest for 10 minute.

Flip the rounds onto a paper towel and repeat the salting process on this side.

Flip and pat the eggplant dry.

Sauté the eggplant until just barely tender.

Sauté the onion until caramelized.

Add the garlic and cook it with the onion for the last few minutes.

Put everything into your food processor and pulse until it reaches a smooth, even, almost creamy consistency.

Add salt pepper and paprika to taste and pulse to combine.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Marshmallow Muffins

Today a friend of ours is celebrating the birthday of her son, James, who died at birth. James touched the lives of his family very deeply and they are forever changed. James taught his family to remember how precious life is and enjoy each and every moment of it. James has also touched me. I can’t stop thinking about him and how wonderful it is that he is giving the gift of inspiration and endless love to so many. Many people live for decades and never touch anyone the way James has. I am inspired by him and by the strength and grace of his family.

As I spend my day thinking about them. I wonder what balloons his brothers and sister will pick to give to him today and I wish that I could find some small way to let his mom know that I’m thinking about them. The only thing that I could come up with is to bake a small treat for them. I will see his mom at the gym in the morning and I don’t want to burden her with refrigeration or a big messy cake so I’m going with Marshmallow Muffins. They can be packaged neatly and transported without a mess.

With that I leave you with this recipe and a BIG Happy Birthday James!

Marshmallow Muffins

From “Chocolate” cookbook


  • 5 tbsp Butter
  • 2 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened Cocoa
  • 3 tsp Baking Powder
  • 6 tbsp Sugar
  • 1/ C Milk Chocolate Chips
  • ¼ C mini Marshmallows
  • 1 egg, Beaten
  • 1 ¼ c Milk


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Line a 12-cup muffin pan with papers.
  • Melt Butter in a saucepan, I use the microwave.
  • Sift flour, cocoa, and baking powder together in a large bowl.
  • Stir in sugar, chocolate chips and marshmallows until thoroughly mixed.
  • Whisk the egg; milk and melted butter together in a separate bowl then gently stir into the flour to form a stiff batter.
  • Divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin tin.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen.
  • Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan then allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Birthday Cake Ina Style

It’s Barefoot Bloggers time. Barefoot Bloggers are a community of bloggers that get together twice monthly to make, eat and post about Ina Graten’s recipes. Today’s recipe was chosen by Susy of Everyday Gourmet. Susy chose Birthday Sheet Cake. Happy Birthday to Susy, who will be celebrating a birthday this month.

I followed the recipe to the letter with the exception of halving it. We will be celebrating my husband’s birthday on Sunday and frankly it’s just too much cake for me. Can you hear the sound of the button on my pants popping? If not, have no fear you’ll get to hear yours after you eat this cake. Holy Smokey's the calories in this cake are outrageous. It is yummy and chocolaty so if you put in an extra day at the gym treat yourself to this cake.

Oh and it’s messy!

Here is Ina’s recipe.


For the cake:nocoupons

  • 18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:nocoupons

  • 24 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Chocolate candies for decorating (recommended: M&M's)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, scraping

down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until smooth. Finish mixing by hand to be sure the batter is well mixed. Pour evenly into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan to room temperature.

For the frosting, place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chips are completely melted. Off the heat, add the corn syrup and vanilla and allow the chocolate mixture to cool to room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the chocolate mixture and softened butter on medium speed for a few minutes, until it's thickened.

Spread the frosting evenly on the cake. Have the children decorate the cake with chocolate candies.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Leftovers Lasagna?

After a small impromptu BBQ this weekend we found ourselves with too many leftovers. With some of the leftover corn on the cob we made delicious lasagna. It took almost no time to cook and was such a great way to change up the leftovers.


Grilled Corn on the Cob, removed from cob

Ricotta cheese

Mozzarella Cheese



Lasagna noodles, cooked until slightly tender

Sweet Italian Sausage


1 egg

1 can of chopped tomatoes

Fresh Parsley


Combine Corn, onion and salt and pepper and allow to sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

Sauté onions and sausage until the sausage is no longer pink. Add the tomatoes and parsley, simmer until the pasta is ready.

Mix ricotta, egg, mozzarella, salt and pepper until combined.

Layer in casserole dish as follows. Pasta, corn mix, cheese mix then another layer of pasta. Repeat this process until the cheese and corn are all in the dish. Then layer spinach and mozzarella cheese topping with the sausage tomato mix.

Bake at 350 for about 45 mins.

Let it rest for about 10 mins then serve.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Awards and Curly Ribbon

I’m working on some house cleaning today. It’s a busy, long weekend for us. I know this is a lengthy post but I’ll do my best to be as brief as possible. There is also a silly recipe at the end of the awards. I’ll be back Tuesday with a regular food post.

Let me start by telling all of you thank you. Blogging has been fun for me and I have learned a lot from all of you. I check all the blogs on my blog list on a regular basis and I have fed many of your dishes to my family and friends. Please check out all of the blogs listed today. I know you will find something you like and want to make.

The MEME award below comes from Sweet and Savory Says it All. This award requires that you list seven personality traits about yourself then pass it on to seven bloggers.

1) Athletic- I like to stay active and I participate in many different types of sports. Athletics also keeps me from gaining too much weigh after eating all of your wonderful dishes.

2) Over committed- I have a tendency to sign up to do way too many activities. This month I joined the PTA, became room mom for two of my three children and signed up to plan and organize the Christmas play for my son and daughter. Remember, that is just this month.

3) Organized-When you are over committed you have to have a plan. If you visit my kitchen you will find that I keep three calendars up so that I can quickly see events that have already been scheduled.

4) Fair- My dad always told me as a kid “life is not fair” I’m still working to prove him wrong.

5) Sunny- I love warm, sunny weather, being on or in the ocean and my favorite color is yellow.

6) Adventurous- There are many things that I’ve never done before or eaten before but I’m always willing to try at least once.

7) Thinker- I have a tendency to over think and over analyze life.


1)Adventures with the Woods.

2)Plum Bush Cottage

3)Happy Tummy

4)Life's Ambrosia

5)Cooking, Dunkin Style

6)Surfing the World Cuisine

7)Reservations Not Required

The Kreative Blogger award is from Journey of an Italian Cook. This award asks that I list seven random things about myself and then pass it on to seven bloggers.

1) I live in Texas.

2) I grew up in Florida.

3) I have duel citizenship.

4) I once ate a whole large pizza and an entire batch of uncooked cookie dough in the same day.

5) Clutter makes me crazy.

6) I love to bleach the bathrooms.

7) I eat chocolate everyday.


1)Ruby Mountain Beads

2)Small kitchen Big Ideas

3)Rubber Slippers In Italy

4)Tide and Thyme (dot) com

5) Munch + Nibble

6)A Southern Grace


The next award, One Lovely Blog award, comes from Latest Addictions and Simple Recipes. For this one I must pass it on to 15 other bloggers that I have recently discovered.


2)Slim Shoppin

3)Chaya's Comfy Cook Blog

4)Chow and Chatter

5)Tomatoes on the Vine

6)Just cook NYC


8)Mocha Me

9)Daily Diner

10)Vanilla Sugar

11)A Nyonya's Kitchen...for all seasons

12)Food Gourmand


14)The Food Addicts

15)Are You Hungry? Mom's cooking...come n' eat

Thank you to the four of you that passed these awards onto me. It’s always nice to be recognized by other bloggers.

Now for a silly recipe:

Curly Ribbon Hair Barrettes (not to be eaten)

This recipe comes from my good friend over at Ruby Mountain Beads. Go check her out. You’ll like what you find. I know I did!


  • Grosgrain ribbon
  • ¼ dowel rod
  • paper clip or clothes pins. Just something that won’t burn and will hold the ribbon in place.
  • Spray starch
  • Barrettes
  • Hot Glue Gun and Glue.
  • One little girl that likes to accessorize.


  • Wrap the ribbon around the dowel rod. Careful not to overlap it.
  • Secure with clothes pins or paper clips.
  • Saturate with spray starch.
  • Bake at 275 for 25 mins.
  • Cool and remove the ribbon from the rods.
  • Cut to desired length.
  • Tie and glue to barrette.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Meatballs, Green Beans and Mushroom with Spaghetti

Have you ever had one of those nights where cooking was more of a chore than a joy. Well Last night started that way for me. My husband was working late (again), the kids were well GRUMPY and the grocery fairy was a no show (again).

I had a pound of ground beef thawed out, no plan and no real desire for anything. My first thought was to go with my dad’s old stand by recipe, gruel. Gruel is ground beef mixed with cream of mushroom soup served over mashed potatoes or rice. Gruel was a favorite of mine as a kid and my kids like it but it seems so heavy and it’s 100 degrees here in Texas. So here is what we ended up having.


  • 1lb Ground beef
  • Basil Pesto
  • Salt/pepper
  • Garlic
  • ½ a Red Onion, chopped
  • Fresh Green Beans
  • Fresh Baby Bellas, sliced
  • Edam Cheese for topping
  • 1 lb Whole wheat spaghetti


  • Boil salted for the pasta. Add Pasta when the water boils.
  • Mix the beef and pesto in a bowl and roll into mini meatball. I ended up with about 20 meatballs.
  • Brown the meatballs in a splash of olive oil.
  • Add the onion, green beans and mushrooms then simmer over low heat, cover until the pasta is al dente.
  • Drain the pasta and mix with the meatball veggie mixture.
  • Grate the cheese on top and serve.

My 6-year-old had three helpings and I had very little clean up. A 20-minute meal and one happy family.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I’m finally posting my Barefoot Bloggers recipe from last week. I love, love, love the recipe that was chosen for last weeks challenge. I know your saying to yourself “ if she loves it so much then why didn’t she post on time?” well, good question. We make this recipe at least once a week and sometimes the kids want it so much that we’ll have it more than once. The recipe is for Pizza. That’s right. How simple? Pizza. This recipe was picked by Andrea of Nummy Kitchen. The recipe is White Pizza with Arugula and it can be found in Back to Basics on page 82. For those of you who have not seen the posts “around town” Barefoot Bloggers are a community of bloggers that make and post reviews of Ina Garten recipes twice monthly. Now back to the pizza.

What I love about this recipe is the dough. Each and every time I make this recipe the dough turns out perfect. I have made the dough with all-purpose flour, Whole-wheat flour and ½ all-purpose ½ whole-wheat. No matter what you choose this is a very good and very easy dough recipe. Ina suggests to make a garlic/pepper infused oil to spread on the dough. I agree the oil makes the difference between a good pizza and a great pizza. Again, we play with different flavors for the oil. Sometime rosemary/garlic, sometime pepper/garlic and other times just garlic. Have fun with the flavors of the dough and the oil. The only other change we made to her recipe is to grill it. If you have never grilled a pizza, DO!

There is nothing better than grilled pizza. OH and I almost forgot. This pizza dough is a great way to use up leftovers or things that need to be used in your refrigerator. Again, HAVE FUN!

Finally, unfortunately I don’t have a picture of our arugula pizza but the lemon with the Fontina cheese is so very summery and refreshing.

Ina’s recipe:


For the dough:nocoupons

  • 1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Good olive oil
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:nocoupons

  • 3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
  • 11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:nocoupons

  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces baby arugula
  • 1 lemon, sliced


Mix the dough.

Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

Knead by hand.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.

Let it rise.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make garlic oil.

Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Portion the dough.

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the dough on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Stretch the dough.

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Top the dough.

Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Make the vinaigrette.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Add the greens.

When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.

TIP: Make sure the bowl is warm before you put the water and yeast in; the water must be warm for the yeast to develop.

TIP: Salt inhibits the growth of yeast; add half the flour, then the salt, and then the rest of the flour.

TIP: To make sure yeast is still "alive," or active, put it in water and allow it to sit for a few minutes. If it becomes creamy or foamy, it's active.