Cinnamon Roll Cake

I once had a roommate who was allergic to cinnamon. Can you believe it? A life without cinnamon. When she told the rest of us we were aghast. 

No snickerdoodles? 

No pumpkin pie? 

No monkey bread?

No cinnamon rolls????

She said that since she knew she couldn't have these treats, they just weren't a temptation. That's when I learned that some people are much, much stronger than I am. Just the heavenly scent of Cinnabon makes that corner of the mall one of my favorites. I buy Costco-sized containers of cinnamon and put it in everything I can, even savory recipes. If a dessert has cinnamon in it, there's a pretty good chance that I will love it.

Like this cake recipe. I don't know if I ever had a doubt in my mind that the two of us would be good friends, and I was right. Plenty of cinnamon goodness, with the slight tang of cream cheese, all rolled together with fluffy cake. It is faster and easier to make than real cinnamon rolls, and still delivers a great cinnamon taste. I love how it looks drizzled with glaze and sliced into pieces. It would be the perfect pick-me-up or thank you for the cinnamon lover in your life. 

Especially if that cinnamon lover is you.

Cinnamon Roll Cake


For the filling
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 T cinnamon
1 large egg

For the cake
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
4-5 tsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Making the cinnamon filling
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 15x10 jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with non-stick spray. 

2. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat cream cheese, sugar and cinnamon until smooth. Beat in egg. Pour filling into pan; spread evenly. (This is easiest to do with the back of a teaspoon.) Refrigerate.

Making the cake
1. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat eggs until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until thickened, about 2 minutes longer.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking soda.

3. On low speed, gradually blend flour mixture into egg mixture, beating just until combined. Add water and vanilla; beat until combined.

4. Pour batter over cinnamon filling; spread evenly to cover. 

5. Bake until cake springs back when pressed in center, about 20 minutes.

6. Invert cake onto the back of a baking sheet and carefully peel away parchment paper. Cut cake into 5 lengthwise strips. (A pizza cutter works well for this.)

7. Roll up one strip jelly-roll fashion. (You must do this while the cake is warm) Place cut side down on a serving platter. With filling facing in, wrap remaining strips around the first strip to form one large spiral. Let cool.

Making the glaze
1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla; stir until mixture forms a thick glaze. Drizzle over top of cake. Let stand until glaze sets. Cut into wedges and serve. (This cake is best served within a day of making it.)

Recipe Source: Creative Cook's Kitchen, Cakes and Pies


Mojito Melon

My husband picks great watermelon. Are you gifted at this? I've decided it's a skill you either have or you don't. 

I don't. 

I spend so long at the watermelon display in the grocery store, looking over the watermelons and closely examining them for some clue as to whether they taste sweet or just plain watery. My husband goes in, thumps a few, and somehow comes out with a great tasting watermelon. I think it's a family trait because his dad and grandma pick good watermelons. I'm secretly hoping that our kids inherit his watermelon picking abilities. 

Some parents think about what their kids will be when they grow up. I worry whether my future kids will pick good watermelons. 

Well, in case you are like me and can't pick a good watermelon to save your life, this recipe is for you. Even if you can pick a good watermelon, this recipe is still for you. It is amazing. Sweetened lime juice in combination with fresh mint gives watermelon an amazing flavor that is sweet and a little citrusy with just enough mint to make it completely refreshing. It's very addictive. The last time I made this I think I ate half a watermelon, and I was still craving more even after my stomach couldn't possibly fit in another bite. I've already got watermelon on my grocery list for this Memorial Day weekend, and we're not even going out to any BBQs. I just want it all to myself. If you find yourself needing a refreshing, simple treat this summer, give this a try. 

Mojito Melon

Note: Some steps of this recipe require time to cool, so make sure you start this a hour or so ahead of the time you want to eat it.


1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup warm water
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tsp freshly grated lime zest
1 medium large watermelon (8-10 lbs)
2 T fresh mint, preferably spearmint, finely chopped


1. In a small bowl, whisk sugar with 1/4 cup warm water and salt until sugar is dissolved. (I microwave mine with frequent stirring if it doesn't dissolve quickly in the warm water.) Stir in lime juice and zest. Cover and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour. (Syrup can be made ahead, chilled and covered for up to 3 days.)

2. Cube watermelon into 1 inch pieces and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour. As close to serving time as possible, stir mint into syrup and drizzle over watermelon pieces. Toss. Serve chilled.

Recipe Source: adapted from Epicurious.com


Pimento Cheese Chicken Salad Sandwich

My husband subscribes to three golf magazines. I don't play golf (At least, I wouldn't claim the couple times a year that I go tear up grass and awkwardly swing around some golf clubs as really playing.) but occasionally I'll flip through some of the golf magazines when they're sitting out and hope that just by reading about golf I will be able to play it better. (It hasn't worked yet.) One time I was flipping through once such magazine and they had a whole article on these pimento cheese sandwiches that sold like crazy during the Masters in Atlanta. 

"What the heck is pimento cheese?" was my first thought. 

And then, "How can there be a cheese product I've never heard of before?"

A little googling showed that pimento cheese is mostly a Southern thing, which might explain why I had never heard of it, and why anyone from the South who is reading this is probably wondering who hasn't heard of pimento cheese before. The ingredients for it can vary, but nearly always include yellow cheddar cheese, some mayo, pimentos (usually sold diced in jars, most famous for being the stuffing for green olives) and salt and pepper. The most common use for it is in sandwiches on white bread with the crusts cut off, but it can be used as a dip on crackers or on pretty much anything that would benefit from cheese. 

Which is pretty much everything. 

Although you can buy it pre-made in the grocery store (even out here in Utah, I've since discovered) it looked easy to make from scratch, so armed with my internet knowledge, I whipped up a batch from one of the most basic recipes I could find and gave it a try.

Hello, new cheese-y friend. Come join your cousins herbed cheeseball and grilled cheese. I'm happy to have you in my life.

Pimento cheese is good. Good in a comfort food, I-shouldn't-be-eating-this-but-I-like-it kind of way. It's cheesy, it's salty and it does taste good on sandwiches and crackers alike. I played around with the original recipe I had tried and included some parts of other recipes I had seen to come up with my personal favorite version of pimento cheese. Judging from how many recipes for it I found online, I imagine everyone has their own personal favorite version of pimento cheese, so I'd encourage you to give it a try and adjust my recipe to how you like it. I've tried this recipe with some reduced fat mayo and the reduced fat Cabot cheese I won. Still good, just so you know. 

My favorite tweak I made, though, was making the pimento cheese into a chicken salad, and that's the recipe I'm sharing today. I added a little more mayo and some shredded chicken, and it makes one of the best chicken salads I've ever had. It has tons of flavor and isn't as egg-y as other chicken salads I've made, which is good if you're not a huge mayo fan. It also holds together well in a sandwich, which is good if you're not a huge oops-I-dropped-a-mayonnaise-coated-piece-of-chicken-on-my-shirt fan. My favorite way to eat the chicken salad on toasted bread with some lettuce. It's a delicious twist on a tasty comfort food. 

Pimento Cheese Chicken Salad Sandwich


2 cups finely grated extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese, low-fat okay. (Cabot 50% reduced fat works well)*
3/4 cup mayonnaise (reduced fat okay)
3 T chopped pimientos (these are usually sold in glass jars near the olives)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp yellow mustard
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
Salt and pepper
10 slices bread, toasted
10 leaves romaine lettuce

* Pay attention to the sodium content of the cheese you use. Some are higher than others, especially with low-fat cheeses, and I found certain brands of cheese made the end result too salty.


In a medium bowl, combine cheese, 1/2 cup mayo, pimentos, onion powder, mustard, cayenne pepper and chicken with a large spoon until well combined. Add remaining 1/4 cup mayo as needed to get the chicken salad to desired texture. (Usually the more finely shredded the cheese the more mayo you will need.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spread about 1/5 of mixture onto a piece of bread, top with a romaine leaf and another slice of bread. Repeat with remaining ingredients and serve.

Yield: 5 sandwiches

Recipe source: Adapted heavily from foodnetwork.com


Sweet-Salty Butter Pecan Cookies

These cookies have been called amazing, addictive, evil and delicious.

And that was just by my normally reserved, quiet husband.

Every time I share them with people I always get requests for the recipe (which is not too often because my husband gives me sad looks when I try to bring them out of the house) and I've even had recipe requests from people who have only heard secondhand how addictive they are. 
They are the perfect mix of sweet and salty, making you want another cookie the instant you are finish the previous one. The outer coating of sugar with a touch of salt not only makes them pretty, but balances out the buttery sweet cookie chock full of pecans and butterscotch chips. Even if you don't normally like nuts in cookies, (like me) give these a try. In our house they rival the chocolate chip cookie and s'mores cookie as our all-time favorites.
And we love our cookies.

Sweet-Salty Butter Pecan Cookies

1 1/3 cups pecan halves
2/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon rum extact
1 teaspoon vinegar, cider or white
1 large egg
2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 1/3 cups butterscotch chips
1/3 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, for topping*
*If you're making smaller (teaspoon cookie scoop-sized) cookies, increase the coating to 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar mixed with 1 3/4 to 2 teaspoons salt.

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Place the pecans in a single layer in a pan, and toast till they've darkened a bit and smell toasty, about 8 to 9 minutes. Set them aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, butter, shortening, salt, baking soda, vanilla, rum extract, and vinegar, beating until smooth and creamy.
4. Beat in the egg, again beating till smooth. Mix in the flour, then the chips and toasted nuts.
5. Refrigerate for about 4 to 5 hours; or overnight. Cookie dough refrigerated for 3 1/2 to 4 hours will spread moderately; chilled overnight, it will spread much less.
6. Mix the 1/3 cup sugar and salt for the coating, and put it in a bowl. Scoop 1 1/2" balls of dough into the sugar/salt mixture, rolling to coat. Then transfer to the prepared baking sheets, leaving 2" between them on all sides; they'll spread quite a bit.
7. Bake the cookies for 10 to 11 minutes — 11 minutes for smaller cookies, 12 for larger ones. Their edges will be chestnut brown and their tops a lighter golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pan till they've set enough to move without breaking. 
Yield: about 4 dozen cookies
Recipe Source: www.kingarthurflour.com


Colorful Chickpea Salad

I was going to wait to post this until it was a little more summery, but I need a little taste of summer right now and judging from some of the comments on my last post, you probably do to. My mom and I put together this recipe when she was visiting. We were planning a luncheon with some extended family while my parents were here and wanted something healthy to go with our big tray of cheesecake chocolate chip cookie bars. That's how we roll, you know.

Side note: I think I've mentioned my mom was here about 10 times on this blog, but rarely mention that my dad and sister came, too. That's just because they didn't cook with me, not because they're not awesome. Just so you know, they ARE awesome.

Does you mom ever do something that makes you think, "Hey, maybe that's where I get that from?" Case in point: we were figuring out what we wanted to serve and my mom pulls out her cell phone and scrolls to a picture she took of a chickpea salad recipe in a magazine somewhere. I had to laugh because I do the same thing. My phone is full of pictures of recipes. The place where I get my oil changed has a subscription to a few cooking magazines and I almost look forward to waiting there because I love flipping through the recipes and taking pictures of the ones that I want to try. I thought it was just me that did this, but it turns out that I get it from my mom.

I also had to laugh when my mom showed me that recipe for chickpea salad because I had recently bookmarked a recipe for chickpea salad, too. Both of the recipes had parts that we really liked about them, so we took those parts and threw in a couple other favorite ingredients for good measure and came up with this salad. We actually came up with a whole lot of this salad since we seem to have a mortal fear of guests not being able to stuff themselves beyond the point of comfort and therefore I was eating the salad for the next week for lunch. (It made a great lunch, by the way.)

The thing I love about the salad is how it tastes just as bright and fresh as it looks. It has a light dressing that doesn't compete much with the flavors of the chickpeas, bell peppers, tomatoes or cucumbers. It would be a great salad to bring to a picnic potluck since it has no mayo in it, or it would be great to make up on a Sunday and bring for lunch during the week. If you do make it up ahead of time, don't put the cucumbers in until the last minute. My mom and I learned the hard way that they lose all their crunch marinating in the salad for more than an hour or two. Not yummy.

Colorful Chickpea Salad


2 19-oz cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans) rinsed and drained
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 english cucumber, halved and sliced thin
1/4 cup lemon juice
3T olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)


1. In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers. 

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients, except the Parmesan cheese.

3. Pour the dressing over the chickpea mixture and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and top with Parmesan cheese before serving, if using. 


Tomatillo Soup

I tend to get a little carried away when I go to the Farmer's Market. All the produce looks so good and I feel like I have to get a little bit of everything - even if I have never had it before and have no idea how to prepare it. I guess there's no better motivation to learn how to cook something than to see it sitting on your kitchen counter just waiting to be used. Or that's at least my thought process.

This is what happened the first time I bought tomatillos. They were so pretty and green, sitting in that basket on the Farmer's Market table, and just begged me to bring them home. Food talks to me, you know. I had a vague idea that they could be used for a green salsa so I bought a bag full and brought them home. 

For those of you who haven't cooked with tomatillos before, this is what they look like:

See why I couldn't turn them down? They're so pretty. They're like green tomatoes with a husk on the outside. (Make sure you take the husk off before using.)

I got my tomatillos home and made that green salsa. It was delicious. And only used a quarter of what I had bought. What do you do in that situation?

Well, if you are me, you google possible uses for tomatillos.

I came up with a soup that sounded pretty good. I made it up, not expecting much, and was surprised at how good it was. It was like a Southwestern sweet and sour soup. Tomatillos have a bright, sour flavor and there was plenty of heat from the jalepenos, hot sauce and cayenne pepper in the soup. It was different and delicious. I made sure to buy more tomatillos the next time I went back to the Farmer's Market so I could have it again. And again. I was excited to see tomatillos in my CSA basket this past week because I knew just what to do with them. I've added to the recipe and tweaked it a little over the years to make it a little more filling. It's definitely one of my favorite soups for a cool, rainy Spring/Summer day. 

Not that we've been having any of those lately.

Tomatillo Soup


1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds chopped tomatillos
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
tortilla chips (optional)


1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions to saucepan and saute until golden. Add garlic and cook and stir for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in tomatillos, jalapeno peppers and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover the pot and simmer for about 15 minutes.

2. Puree soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Return to pot and taste. Add cayenne pepper, hot sauce if more heat is needed. Stir in corn, black beans and chicken and cook over medium heat until heated through.

3. Just before serving, stir in the minced cilantro and ladle into bowls. Put a dollop of sour cream on top of each portion and some cheese and tortilla chips, if desired. 

Yield: Six servings

Recipe source: adapted from allrecipes.com


Tangy Frozen Greek Yogurt

Let me tell you how lucky I've been lately. You know how a little while ago I won an awesome cookbook from JennaLaughs? Well, just a few weeks ago I won some Cabot cheese from Fitting Back In. Believe me, you'll be hearing more about that when the cheese comes because I'm a huge fan of Cabot cheese. Well, after I won the cheese I told my husband I had won two things in a row, and that it was almost not fair to other people to enter contests anymore since I'd win them. He laughed at my confidence in my luck, but I still swore off entering giveaways for the next little while. 

Then I got an e-mail from Dishing the Divine telling me I had won an Amazon gift certificate.

What? I had sworn off entering giveaways! It turns out that Paula from Dishing the Divine had found my site (Through her mom, isn't that awesome? I love sharing recipes with my mom.) and I checked out hers and really liked it. We've got similar tastes, and I love finding new blogs to follow. (To other food bloggers that read this site - you all are so creative and give me such great ideas!) Anyway, since I love when people "like" me on Facebook, I made sure to "like" her site, and that's when I unwittingly entered the giveaway. To everyone else that entered the giveaway, I'm sorry. You were no match against my lucky streak. I will try not to enter future giveaways for the sake of fairness. For the record though, I crazy love Amazon and I'm pretty excited that I won the gift certificate. (Thank you, Paula!)

It turns out we are all in luck, though, because I put the gift certificate toward an ice cream maker. Woo hoo! I've never had one before and I'm super excited about it. Expect all kinds of delicious ice cream, sorbet and frozen yogurt treats to show up on here in the coming months. The ice cream maker came this weekend and I've already been busy churning up all kinds of recipes. So far the one that I was super excited about trying  (cheesecake ice cream) turned out to be a little sour and not-so-tasty so I'm looking for a better recipe. (Any suggestions?) The surprise hit of the weekend, though, was this Tangy Frozen Greek Yogurt, and I was so excited about it I just couldn't wait to share it with you. 

Are you a fan of Greek-style yogurt? I love the stuff. I love how thick and creamy it is and the extra flavor that it has compared with regular yogurt. I'm one of those weird people who actually likes plain regular yogurt, so the extra tang in the Greek yogurt is one of my favorite parts. It's delicious with fruit or just some honey, but just wait until you try it in a frozen yogurt. It's amazing! I love this recipe because it's smooth and creamy, but still retains that delicious tanginess. It has just enough lemon juice in it to give a hint of flavor but not so much that it would interfere with any fruit or other topping you might want to put on top. It's simple to make and the only bad part is waiting for each step to cool so you can get to the finished product. If you like Greek-style yogurt, this frozen yogurt is for you.

Tangy Frozen Greek Yogurt

  • 1 cup sugar (this recipe is fairly sweet. Cut this to 3/4 cup if you want it less sweet.)
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups plain whole-milk Greek-style yogurt (2% works, too)
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk (no substitutions here)
  • 5 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Equipment: an ice cream maker

  • Warm sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Transfer to a large bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Whisk in yogurt, buttermilk, and lemon juice and chill until very cold, 3 to 6 hours.

Freeze yogurt in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up.

Recipe Source: Gourmet, August 2009


Stroopwafels (Caramel Waffle Cookies)

Last year on Black Friday I scored a waffle cone maker for $10. Well, I'm not actually sure whether to say that I scored or the store did, seeing how I had no need for a waffle cone but yet they still got me to spend $10. Also, for the record, it's not a very good waffle cone maker. The waffle surfaces cook unevenly and I can't figure out how they managed to make them out of plastic, but I swear they did. The outside of the iron heats up so hot that you need to wear oven mitts just to open and close it. It reminds me a little bit of the Cornballer from Arrested Development, for those of you familiar with that show. (Yo soy loco por los cornballs!)

Still, despite all the drawbacks of the waffle cone maker, homemade waffle cones are delicious and worth the effort to make them. I'll share my favorite recipe for them later in the summer, but for now I thought I'd share another recipe that I use the waffle cone maker for - stroopwafels.

Raise your hand if you've ever heard of stroopwafels before.

Me either, until I ran across this recipe. Now, I'm not Dutch, and I've never been to the Netherlands (Despite being obsessed with windmills, wooden shoes and my Dutch World Traveler Cabbage Patch doll when I was younger.) but word is that stroopwafels, or syrup waffles, are a common food over there. (Or so says the internet.) They are basically a thin, yeasted waffle that is sliced open immediately after baking and filled with warm cinnamon caramel syrup. When cooled, the outside is crispy and the inside is soft with a little bit of chewiness. Often people will set their stroopwafels on a cup of coffee to warm and soften while they read the morning paper or eat breakfast. It sounded pretty wonderful to me, so I pulled out the Cornballer, err, waffle cone maker, and gave it a try.

I wasn't disappointed. It's a slightly sweet, slightly buttery waffle cookie, with all the deliciousness of a homemade cinnamon caramel sandwiched inside. It's honestly something that I couldn't stop eating. If you have a waffle cone maker, bake these right now. You won't be sad. They're just delicious. For those of you who aren't lucky enough to own a fine waffle cone maker like mine, you can still make this entire recipe from scratch if you have a pizzelle iron, or opt for the easy option and buy premade waffle cookies (Trader Joe's has some nice ones that I've seen) and just fill them with the homemade cinnamon caramel. Either way, it's a win.


For the dough:

4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 scant teaspoon of ground cinnamon
3/4 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup of warm water
2 large eggs
pinch of salt

In a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, yeast, cinnamon and sugar together. Using a pastry cutter or two kinves, cut in the butter until it resembles small pellets. Slowly pour in the warm water and stir the dough until it starts coming together, then add the eggs one at a time. Finally add the pinch of salt and knead the dough for a minute or two until it's nice and solid.

Cover and rest for 30 minutes.

For the caramel:

1 cup of brown sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/4 cup plus 2 T corn syrup
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Melt the sugar and the butter, stirring slowly over a low heat. Add the cinnamon and the pancake syrup and continue to stir until the caramel comes together and slowly bubbles. Keep stirring because at this stage it's easy to burn! Make sure all the sugar has dissolved and your caramel is nice and creamy (Do not try to lick it from the spoon because you'll burn your tongue!) then add the vanilla extract and blend it in. Keep the caramel warm.

To assemble the cookies:

Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces. It's easiest to weigh the total dough and divide by 20 but you can do it by size if you don't have a kitchen scale. Roll the pieces into small balls and cover with a damp cloth. You don't want them to dry out while you're baking.

Heat your waffle cone machine or your pizzelle iron according to instructions. Place one dough ball in the middle, press down the top lid and bake each waffle for approximately 40 seconds. (If your dough is too stiff, like mine was, you can roll it out with a rolling pin before cooking. Check to see if it's browned nicely and a little puffed up, remove it from the machine and place it on a flat surface.

Now you have to work fast. As long as the waffle cookie is hot, it's pliable. The moment it cools, it will break on you so make sure you have all the items you need within reach.

Place your hand on top of the cookie and slice it horizontally in two. (If it's too hot, use a pot holder). Since the yeast made the cookie puff up a little bit, this should be easy to do with a sharp, non-serrated knife. Place a generous size dollop of gooey caramel on top of the bottom cookie, replace the top part and gently push down on it so that the caramel spreads. Pick up carefully and put on a rack to cool off, and put the next dough ball in the waffle maker. You'll soon get the hang of it!

Many will cut the edges off the cookie so that it is a uniform and nice round shape. Doing this gives you the bonus of eating the scraps, but it's not necessary.

Recipe Source: http://www.mydutchbakingblog.blogspot.com/


Spin-Art Pasta

I was 19 the first time I tried it. It was during those experimental college years, where peer pressure makes you do things you wouldn't normally do. Things I wouldn't dream of doing now - like staying up past 11 for no reason, going to football games and taking a Country Western Social Dance class. (Actually that last one is a lie. I'd totally take it again if I could. It was completely fun and I'm not even that into country music.)

Another thing college introduced me to was all kinds of incredibly tasty and very bad-for-you foods, usually late at night. 

One of those foods was spinach artichoke dip.

My roommates were the ones who convinced me I needed to try it. "It's delicious," they said. "And good for you because it has spinach and artichokes in it." (I'm fairly certain that none of us had ever had a nutrition class.) I did try it, and of course, I loved it. What's not to love? It's creamy and cheesy with the tangy flavor of artichokes and the earthy flavor of spinach. You dip bread in it. What could be better than that? I was hooked.

For years I fed my addiction until the sad day when I calculated the calories in spinach artichoke dip. And cried. My roommates were completely wrong. It wasn't all that good for me. I hid my recipe for it and tried to forget I had ever tasted spinach artichoke dip. Then I had an epiphany after seeing a post from my friend Britney. It was a spinach artichoke casserole. Sheer genius, really. Since whenever I eat spinach artichoke dip I eat a meal's worth of it anyway, why not beef it up and actually have it for dinner? 

Anything with the word "casserole" in it doesn't fly with my husband (I think he can even sense when I'm thinking of calling something a casserole) so after brainstorming a bit I went a slightly different route and made pasta. I took a favorite spinach artichoke dip recipe, made it a little creamier and more "saucy" (Everything is better more saucy, isn't it?) and lightened it up slightly by substituting lower fat cream cheese and sour cream. The end result was bowl of pasta with a thick creamy sauce with plenty of tangy artichoke and earthy spinach flavor and less of the guilt. A spinach artichoke dish I could eat for dinner.

If only it were as easy to feed my craving for the cinnamon breadsticks with cream cheese dipping sauce I loved so much in college.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Pasta
HeatOvenTo350Published 05/11/2011

Spinach Artichoke Dip Pasta


  • 1 (13oz) box shell pasta
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 8 oz package reduced fat (not fat free) cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 14 oz can artichoke hearts (packed in water), drained and chopped
  • 1 9 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry in a clean towel
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken (optional)
  • Additional Parmesan for serving


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Slowly stir in milk, then add sour cream, lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir in artichoke hearts, spinach, Parmesan cheese and chicken (if using).
  3. Drain pasta and add to artichoke mix. Toss and season to taste with salt and additional lemon juice as needed. Serve with additional shredded Parmesan.
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook time: 10 min
Recipe Source: adapted from allrecipes.com


Pesto Pizza

I've mentioned before how much I love pesto because it is so versatile and has almost a magical quality in making any food taste delicious. Well, I need to add one more reason to love pesto - it makes my non-veggie eating husband eat this:

That's a pizza on a whole wheat crust covered with broccoli, bell peppers and spinach. Normally the spinach alone would make this a no-go in our house, but add pesto and all of a sudden it's not only acceptable, but "pretty good." (In my husband's words.) In my words, it's great, and a new favorite of mine. I love the whole wheat crust with dried basil and parmesan, and I love the ingenious use of spinach with pesto to make a sauce that not only tastes great, but has a beautiful green color. With the other green veggies, it's one of the prettiest pizzas I've ever made. 

I did have to add some cooked chicken to the original recipe per my husband's request ("Are you making a pizza or a salad?") but the pizza is good both with and without it. The only comment my husband made about the veggies was that he would prefer a little less broccoli on his pieces. 

Not, "No broccoli" just "Less broccoli." 

Behold, the power of pesto.

Pesto Veggie Pizza

1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T canola oil
1T sugar
1T dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 to 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup prepared pesto
1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped fresh broccoli
3/4 cup chopped green or red pepper
2 green onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the Parmesan cheese, oil, sugar, basil, salt, all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining whole wheat flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

3. Roll dough into a 16 inch x 12 inch rectangle. Transfer to a greased baking sheet: build up edges slightly. Prink dough with a fork. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

4. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, bring 1/2 in. of water to a boil. Add spinach; cover and boil for 3-5 minutes or until wilted. Drain and place in a food processor. Add pesto; cover and process until blended.

5. Spread over pizza crust. Top with broccoli, green pepper, green onions, garlic, chicken and mozzarella. Bake 10-12 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Recipe Source: Taste of Home Healthy Cooking


Strawberry Basil Scones

Are you ready for Mother's Day? 

I am. 

Would you believe me if I said that I thought ahead, made these scones, and shipped them to my mom to have for breakfast on Sunday? 


You're right, that didn't happen, although it would have been a nice present. No, I'm covered because as I was frantically searching for a Mother's Day gift this week, I remembered this little fact: the kids in my family had pitched in to buy my mom a charm from Tiffany's for her birthday. I had a vague memory of my mom asking for it and saying it could cover Mother's Day, too, (If you've ever been in a Tiffany's store, you know that no purchases there are really small.) but I wasn't sure.

So I fired off this e-mail: 

Hi mom,
Did we get you the tiffany's charm for mother's day? Or was it just birthday? I'm trying to remember.

And my mom responded:

It was both. Being the honest mother that I am I will admit to that. I love it by the way.

Awesome. Put big check on my to-do list; my Mother's Day gift has already been bought and received. And she loves it. I love when I plan ahead like that. 

(Also, don't you love how personal our e-mails are? Those are the entire e-mails, no joke. As I read mine over again, I was feeling bad for not writing "Love" when I signed my name, until I realized my mom didn't even do that. Vermonters aren't exactly known for their sentimentality.) 

Seriously though, despite being off the hook for thinking of a gift, I will definitely take some time this Mother's Day to call my mom and thank her for all she does. It's funny how your perspective changes as you go through life, and I'm just starting to realize just how much work raising four kids must have been. Especially when one of them was my brother. (I was perfect, just so you know.) We ate together every night as a family, and I'm know that took a lot of work and planning on the part of my mom. I've always considered myself lucky to have the mom I have. 

If you get a chance this weekend and feel like baking your mom (or even yourself) a treat as a "Thank you", you really can't go wrong with these scones. I even made them for my husband's mom and they were resoundingly mother-approved. (Like Kix cereal. But way tastier.) Basil with strawberries is just delicious, and in scone form it's a heavenly breakfast. 

Basil Strawberry Scones

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
2 T snipped basil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half
Half-and-half or milk

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together 2 1/2 cups flour, the 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gently toss in fresh strawberries and basil. Make a well in center of the flour mixture; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together eggs and half-and-half. Add egg mixture to flour mixture all at once. Using a large spoon, gently stir just until incorporated.

3. Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it 5 to 7 times, turning the dough one quarter turn after each fold. (If it is too sticky, add flour from the extra 1/4 cup as needed to make it workable.) Transfer to a lightly floured parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat or lightly roll dough into a 3/4 inch thick circle. Cut circle into wedges and pull apart slightly.

4. Brush wedges with additional half-and-half and sprinkle with sugar. Bake about 14-16 minutes or until golden. Serve warm with butter or at room temp. Refrigerate any leftover scones.

Makes 12 scones

Recipe Source: adapted from Better Homes and Gardens


Churro Cookies

Do you love Costco? I do. I have so many memories of Costco trips when I was growing up. We loved to go because you never knew what exciting thing you'd see there. (Vermont is not known for being the most happening place, so believe me, Costco really was exciting to us.) Now that all of us kids are grown and out of the house, my parents give all of us memberships for our birthdays. It's pretty awesome.

One reason it is so awesome is the food court. You know you've got a serious shopping endeavor when you need to take a break for lunch - kind of like going to the mall. The food at the Costco food court is cheap, of course, and generally pretty good. There may have been times when my husband and I have gone out to dinner there.

Yes, we're super classy.

One of the best items in the food court has to be the churros. For a dollar you can get the biggest churro I've ever seen, warm and fluffy with a generous coating of cinnamon sugar. It's the kind of thing you eat before your meal because you want to have it warm, and then you realize you don't have any room for the Caesar salad you bought. If you're feeling really decadent, you can get some vanilla soft serve too and use it to dip your churro in. I'm not saying I've done this and that it's delicious. I'm just saying you could.

Being in the Mexican food frame of mind with Cinco de Mayo coming up, I've had churros on the brain lately. My husband and I were driving somewhere when out of the blue I said, "What about a churro cookie?" We both agreed it sounded pretty good. Of course, the next few days I couldn't stop thinking of how I'd do it.

I wanted the final cookies to be soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, and coated with cinnamon sugar. And to look like little churros. For the soft inside, I decided to use one of my favorite soft sugar cookie recipes. I love the texture and flavor of it, and knew it wouldn't compete with the cinnamon sugar. I also knew it had no real "tang" to it, so the finished cookies would be different from snickerdoodles. For the crispy outside, I tried a couple different ways of coating the cookies with cinnamon sugar and found that by brushing them with melted butter and adding a generous amount of cinnamon sugar before baking, the finished cookie had a nice crust of semi-melted sugar once it was taken out of the oven. Score.

To shape the cookies, I rolled them into logs and then refrigerated them for a bit. I found the best way to get the little churro stripes was to take a wooden skewer and indent the cookies right after baking when they were still hot. Adding the stripes before baking worked too, but the lines weren't as sharp once the cookies were done baking.

Although they aren't as pretty, if you want your cookies to be over-the-top cinnamon-sugary, you can brush the cooled cookies with another layer of butter and sprinkle on more cinnamon sugar. It will be a buttery, sweet overload. And delicious. Either way you decide to eat them, the finished cookies are just plain good. They're soft on the inside, with a thick layer of cinnamon sugar on the outside and all around as wonderful as they churros they are named after.

Churro Cookies


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar (see note below)
1/4 tsp salt
16 T unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and softened
2 T cream cheese, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
2T melted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2T plus 2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt

Note: If you can't find superfine sugar, simply process 1 cup granulated sugar in a food processor for about 30 seconds, then measure out 3/4 cup for the recipe. 

1. Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time. Continue to beat the flour-butter mixture until it looks crumbly and slightly wet, 1-2 minutes.

2. Beat in the cream cheese and vanilla until the dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds. Knead the dough in the bowl by hand a few times until it forms a large cohesive mass. 

3. Roll cookie dough into rods about 3/4-1 inch in diameter. Cut the rods into 3 inch pieces, place on a plate and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 2T plus 2tsp cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. 

4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place cookies on a baking sheet, with about an inch between each cookie. Using a pastry brush, brush each cookie with melted butter, and then sprinkle with a generous amount of cinnamon sugar mixture. 

5. Bake cookies for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and immediately place indentations lengthwise along the cookies using a wooden skewer. Let cookies cool for five minutes on the cookie sheet, then place on a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Optional - For more cinnamon-sugar flavor, brush cooled cookies with more melted butter and sprinkle again with cinnamon sugar. 

Recipe source: base cookie dough from America's Test Kitchen

Pin It button on image hover