Friday, January 14, 2011


I don't know where these cookies got their whimsical name from but I baked these for the first time a few years back and they quickly made it onto my Top 5 cookie list!

When I was a growing up, after graduating from my Easy Bake oven days, we still only made the basic cookies, like peanut butter and chocolate chip. Anything else was purchased from the grocery store cookie aisle. And snickerdoodles aren't cookies you will find readily. So what exactly is this cookie with the strange name? It's a simple sugar cookie with a crackly top that has been rolled in cinnamon and sugar. They are also known as Snipdoodles or cinnamon sugar cookies. It is a really easy and fun recipe for kids to help with; though if you are anal, like myself, it could get kind of messy.

These are so delicious and have a soft, chewy center. Now if only I did not suffer from year-round allergies and chronic sinusitis, I could drink a tall, cold glass of milk with them. Nothing wrong with a little wishful thinking...


1 stick unsalted butter
2/3 c brown sugar
2/3 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla
2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt

3 tbsp cinnamon
½ c granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together the butter and the sugars. Add eggs and beat just until blended. Stir in vanilla.

Sift dry ingredients together. Combine the creamed and dry ingredients. Combine cinnamon and ½ c sugar in small bowl. Create round balls with cookie dough. Roll balls of cookie dough in the cinnamon sugar mixture until coated.

Place cookies on lined baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes and then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Virtually Everything Sweet, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Buttermilk Whole Wheat Pancakes

This Monday marks yet another snow day in the Queen City. We do still live in the South, right? So it is going to be another brown couch day I suppose.

My intent was to get some work done but so far it is not looking good. I'm having a little bit of trouble getting motivated when everyone else is off work and back in bed. That really has absolutely nothing to do with me since I work from home but...this John Sandford book is peeking at me from the coffee table and looking like my only firm agenda item for today. Blanket...check. Remote...check. Laptop...check. Good eats...check.

I complain about the snow but the truth is that I really love the snow as long as the power stays on, I have a house full of food, I don’t have anywhere that I have to be, and the kids let it stay pretty for at least an hour or two before they start sledding and throwing snowballs and the snow is no longer fresh. That’s not too much to ask, is it? So I am 3 for 4 this morning, which is not so bad. I hear shrieking sounds somewhere in the distance so the kids are already at it.

In keeping with my healthy or healthier lifestyle, this recipe can be made with organic sugar, oil and soy milk.

Whole Wheat Pancakes

2 c King Arthur Flour white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 1/2 c buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp grated orange zest
2 tbsp butter
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In separate bowl, whisk the eggs together. Next, whisk in the remaining wet ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients but do not over mix.

Heat griddle or pan. Oil the pan or spray with cooking spray. Pour a scoop of batter onto the griddle. Cook on the first side until bubbles form and begin to pop. Flip the pancake and cook until golden brown. Keep cooked pancakes warm until ready to serve, in a 200 degree oven. Serve with warm maple syrup.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Virtually Everything Sweet, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Crustless Spinach Quiche

I had a really productive Saturday but did a lot of running and got home and didn't  feel like cooking dinner. Turns out, I happened to be in luck. I made a quiche this morning for tomorrow's breakfast and suddenly it started to look like a great meal for this evening's dinner. One of my friends calls that the "turnaround" when her family eats breakfast food at dinnertime. So, Turnaround Saturday it is, though quiche can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

This quiche recipe is so easy to make and can be made with salmon, asparagus, bacon, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, whatever you are in the mood for. Surprisingly it tastes just as good when reheated in the microwave or the oven. I didn't make mine with a crust today but if you prefer a crust, have at it. It tastes great either way. With Valentine's Day coming up, this would be a great way to surprise your sweetheart...breakfast on a tray with some fresh fruit to accompany the quiche and a mimosa...I'm just sayin'.     

I'm feeling a little like Popeye as I have spinach in the quiche but am also putting spinach on my plate as a side salad with strawberries, bacon bits, toasted walnuts, cranberries, blue cheese and balsamic vinegar. It sounds a little much but trust and believe, I am quite content right about now. I have my quiche, my salad, Miles Davis playing in the background...all I need now is a glass of Moscato...perfect Saturday evening.

Crustless Spinach Quiche

3 large eggs (or 4 medium sized eggs)
1 ½ c milk or heavy cream
½ lb. Jimmy Dean hot sausage, optional
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground mustard
1 tsp parsley
½ c mild cheddar cheese
1 tbsp butter
2 c spinach, cut into pieces
½ c mushrooms, optional

In a large pan over medium heat, cook the sausage until browned. Drain on paper towels.

Add butter to medium sized saucepan and sautée mushrooms and spinach for 3-5 minutes. Drain so all of the excess water is removed.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Pour into casserole dish or pie pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, at 350 degrees, until the top is puffed and golden and the middle is almost set. Let it set for 15 minutes before slicing.


1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 stick frozen unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
4 to 6 Tbsp ice cold water

In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar and pulse. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, and pulse. If you are able to pinch the dough and it holds together, it is ready. If not, add a tad more water and pulse again.

Remove dough from processor and place on a clean surface. Shape dough into a disc. Do not over-knead. Wrap disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. Remove disk from the fridge and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before handling. Roll dough out, sprinkling with additional flour, if needed. Gently press dough into the pie dish. Line pie crust with foil and fill with pie weights, rice or dried beans. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then remove the weights and foil and bake for 5 to 7 minutes more, until lightly golden. Then add egg mixture and bake as instructed above.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Virtually Everything Sweet, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sautéed Pears with Balsamic Glaze

Is there such a thing as a healthy dessert? Sounds kind of like an oxymoron, right? But there are actually low calorie desserts for those who are health conscious but have not lost their craving for something sweet. With the first of the year comes a lot of resolutions to get fit and eat healthier. So during the month of January, I will be posting some healthy (or shall I say healthier than what I would normally post) desserts.

Dark chocolate has some health benefits and has been shown to reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure, which is good for the heart. Fruits are naturally sweet, very nutritious, and many are a good source of fiber and antioxidants. That being said, some healthy desserts might include flourless chocolate cake, baked fruits, yogurt parfaits, oatmeal cookies, smoothies...there's a lot to choose from. So don't be discouraged!

I prepared a savory dessert of sautéed pears with a balsamic glaze. Since I need to detox from all of the holiday sweets, I am going to enjoy this recipe with walnuts and blue cheese. I like to place the prepared dish in the fridge for about fifteen minutes to allow it a chance to cool before I dig in. By the time I get the remote and turn on Grey's Anatomy, dessert will be about ready.

If you absolutely must sweeten it to consider it a dessert, then you have certainly missed the whole point. But, you can use candied walnuts. Or you can eliminate the balsamic vinegar, add a tablespoon of brown sugar to the pan and garnish with crème fraiche or yogurt.

 Sautéed Pears with Balsamic Glaze

1 Bosc pear
2 tbsp unsalted butter
Sprinkle of cinnamon
1/8 c walnut pieces
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly toast walnuts for 3-5 minutes. Place balsamic vinegar in small saucepan and allow it to reduce for 3-5 minutes. Slice and core the pear. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add pears and sprinkle with cinnamon. Cook for 4-6 minutes on each side. Cool.

Drizzle with balsamic glaze, nuts and blue cheese.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Virtually Everything Sweet, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chocolate Crêpes

Crêpes can be eaten for breakfast or dessert...or anywhere in between. And with Valentine's Day rapidly approaching, it would make a great Valentine's Day brunch item, with strawberries or raspberries as a garnish...and maybe a dab of whipped cream...and a splash of chocolate sauce. I'm getting hungry again just thinking about 'em. I'll have to find a brunch date in the next month so I can have an excuse to try them again!

I used to be nervous about making crêpes because it took me the longest time to perfect making flawless pancakes. And what is a crêpe? A very delicate pancake with a savory or sweet filling or topping. You can wrap them around chicken, seafood, spinach, mushrooms...or you can sweeten them with chocolate, jams, fruit or powdered sugar. Or how about all of the above? So of course I went the sweet route, carmelized pears in some rum and sugar and added chocolate, whipped cream and powdered sugar.

Contrary to popular belief, you don't need a special pan to make them in. A non-stick skillet will do just fine. Have a little fun with them - roll them up, fold them over, do your thing. But, be prepared to toss at least two or three of them until you get the hang of preparing them.  Don't are not alone!

Chocolate Crêpes

3/4 c AP flour
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 c whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp Grand Marnier

Sift the flour and cocoa into a mixing bowl. Add eggs, salt, sugar, and butter and mix to a smooth paste. Gradually add the milk and the flavorings. Let dough rest for an hour in the fridge. Whisk the batter again before cooking.

Butter a skillet or crêpe pan, then wipe out the excess butter so the pan is fairly dry. Pour or ladle a small amount of crêpe batter and tilt the pan as needed so the batter spreads and covers the entire bottom of the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Flip the crêpe with a spatula to cook the other side, about 30 seconds.

The batter usually makes 8-10 crêpes, depending on how thin you prepare them.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Virtually Everything Sweet, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Irish Cream Pound Cake

The holidays are finally behind us and it is time to get back to work. Argh! It was nice hanging out, cooking and eating...and eating some more, visiting with friends, shopping, having days of doing absolutely nothing...but all good things must come to an end.

I have a short list of favorite desserts, although I like most sweets. If done properly, one of my absolute favorites is pound cake. Then we have cheesecake, peach cobbler, key lime pie, and coconut cake, though not necessarily in that order.

Pound cakes are very versatile and got their name because originally they contained a pound of each of the main ingredients --butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Today, pound cakes are not as dense and have varying proportions from the original pound cake. But they are moist, buttery and rich with a golden crust.

I have had some fabulous pound cakes and I have had some pretty crappy pound cakes. Here are some Helpful Tips to making a successful one:

  • All ingredients must be room temperature.
  • The most important step in pound cake making is creaming the butter or shortening. The air whipped into the cake during the creaming process makes the cake rise. Beat the butter or shortening until soft, about 2 minutes.
  • Gradually add the sugar, beating at medium speed. Cream the butter and sugar between 5 and 10 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, and blend just until the yellow disappears (about 30 seconds). Overmixing during this stage incorporates too much air, causing the cake to overflow and fall.
  • Do not expose the cake to a draft or open the door to the oven while baking.
  • Measure dry ingredients by filling a mixing cup and leveling it with a knife.
  • Use cake flour for a lighter, finer cake; all purpose flour for a more full cake.
  • Always begin and end with flour.
  • Grease and flour the cake pan to prevent the cake from sticking. Use solid shortening and not butter, margarine, or cooking spray.
  • Cool the cake right side up on a wire rack for 15 minutes after removing it from the oven. Remove the cake from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Keep away from drafts so it won't fall.
  • Use fresh baking powder, baking soda and flour to keep cake from being too heavy.
  • Bake cake on upper rack in oven to ensure it does not brown too quickly on bottom.

Irish Cream Pound Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter
3 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons Irish cream liqueur
1 cup heavy cream

Generously butter tube or Bundt pan and dust with flour.

Sift flour and salt together three times. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Mix in vanilla flavoring and Irish cream liqueur. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour, all of cream, then remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down side of bowl, then beat at medium-high speed 5 minutes.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Place pan in cold oven and turn temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in middle of cake comes out with a few crumbs, about an hour and fifteen minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around inner and outer edges of cake, invert and cool completely.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Virtually Everything Sweet, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.