Monthly Archives: November 2010

Fun with Fondant


Just have to share that I finally tried covering a cake with fondant- and it doesn’t look horrible!

This is a test run, I wanted to get used to the feel of rolling fondant and covering a cake with it before I attempted the birthday cake the Cooker Boy has requested. We spent hours looking at pictures of Spiderman Cakes on Flickr a few weeks ago when we were both home sick, and this is what the Cooker Boy has decided his 4th birthday cake must look like:

from FredBarnie on Flickr

I certainly wasn’t going to try to make something like this without playing with fondant first! Now that I’ve got the feel for it, I can’t wait to see how this cake turns out next weekend!

Wish me luck…


Pomegranate Scented Stuffed Mushrooms


These mushrooms were served as the appetizer during my Pomegranate Party a few weeks ago, and I thought I’d get the recipe out there before Thanksgiving. These were a big hit at my party, and I wish I would have doubled the recipe- everyone inhaled them, and it seemed like 2 per person wasn’t enough!

This would be a great alternative to traditional stuffing for Turkey day- I’m a big stuffing fan, but don’t like it soggy from inside the bird. I like stuffing that’s been cooked separately and has a bit of crunch to it.  I used a little bit of the glaze from the main course, the Pomegranate Citrus Glazed Chicken, to marinate the mushrooms in instead of Marsala wine like the original recipe called for. The glaze was enough to make the mushrooms stand out, but not overly fruity.

I’m going to be a bit lazy today because I’ve got a lot to do…so the recipe isn’t going to be posted here, but you can get the Printable Recipe here.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! Enjoy your family and friends, and be sure to keep those far away in your thoughts and prayers.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Nantucket Cranberry Pie


Let’s just say that I pretty much swear by any recipe posted by The Pioneer Woman. Let’s also say that Pie-making and I haven’t had much of a relationship in the past. My last attempt at pie was a massive failure. In my defense, it was my first shot at making Coconut Cream Pie from scratch- crust,filling,whipped cream- completely from scratch. The crust worked. The Whipped Cream worked. The Coconut Cream part…didn’t work so well. It was more like soup. Tasted great..but no one wants to eat Coconut Cream Soup with a side of pie crust and whipped cream!

This week is Pie Week- at least on Twitter and in the food blog universe it is! I read a post called Love the Pie on that involved a contest with fun kitchen prizes, and of course I wanted to enter the this post serves as my official entry. I can’t ever let a baked goods contest/celebration pass by without some sort of participation! We all know I like a good challenge, and this one is right up there since Pie and I weren’t on speaking terms at the start of this week.

When I came across this recipe on The Pioneer Woman’s site, I knew it was the pie for me. I knew not only could I handle making it….but that it would taste A-maz-ing. It’s a pie..but not really a “pie”. No scary pastry crust or cream filling means that it totally works for me! I love all things cranberry, and I love trying new recipes, so this was a no-brainer. I have to say that when it was all said and done (even after the cats knocked my first pan of cranberries and pecans onto the floor….bad kitties!) that I think I have a new favorite pie!

Do yourself a favor. Check out The Pioneer Woman’s post about this pie- there are beautiful step by step pictures that make my pictures look like my almost-4 year old took them..Then, get yourself into the kitchen pronto and make this “pie” now…and eat it while warm. It’s to die for. Then make it again to share with your family (or coworkers for those of us working the holiday) for Thanksgiving. It’s that good- it deserves a spot right next to the classic Pumpkin and Pecan pies on the holiday dessert table!

The pie that’s not really a pie

Nantucket Cranberry Pie from The Pioneer Woman

Printable Recipe

Butter, to grease pan
2 heaping cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a cake pan or pie plate with unsalted butter. Dump cranberries into pan, then top with chopped pecans. Evenly sprinkle 2/3 cup sugar on top of pecans.

Combine 1 cup each flour and sugar, melted butter, eggs, salt and almond extract. Mix gently by hand until ingredients are combined.

Slowly pour batter over cranberries and pecans, making sure to cover the entire surface. Spread gently to fill in any holes.

Bake for 45 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle remaining Tablespoon sugar on top. Place back in oven for 5 additional minutes.

Serve while warm, and top with vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream for a real treat.

Fresh out of the oven…look at that crunchy layer of sugar on top!

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Pomegranate Citrus Glazed Chicken


When I was selected to host a Pom Party, I knew I wanted to somehow combine Chicken, Pomegranates and Goat Cheese. Why?  I love chicken- and one of my favorite restaurant dishes is the Chicken Bryan at Carrabbas. It’s the first dish I ever tried that contained Goat Cheese- and I was hooked! It seemed to me that the tartness of the pomegranates and the tang of the Goat Cheese would work well together. When I started searching for recipes, I found that others found the combination pleasing- which meant I had to try it!

I found a recipe for Pomegranate Glazed Chicken on Martha Stewart’s website that looked promising. It combined pomegranate juice, orange juice, and a few savory herbs to make a glaze that sounded delicious to me. I used a bit of the glaze in one of the other recipes, which is why I’m posting this recipe first. It made a great substitute for Marsala Wine in my Pomegranate Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms.

I found the process of making this glaze very enjoyable- it was fun to see how the flavors combined to make such a tasty glaze- without being overly sweet or overly savory. It is the perfect combination!

Reducing the juices and spices into a nice thick glaze

Printable Recipe

Pomegranate Citrus Glazed Chicken adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 8

3 cups pomegranate juice
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
5 garlic cloves, smashed
coarsely ground salt and pepper
3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
8 chicken breasts
4 oz goat cheese
1 bag baby spinach
1 cup pomegranate arils

Preheat oven to 425. In a large skillet, combine juices, rosemary, garlic and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Boil over high heat, until reduced to 1 cup, stirring and scraping sides of skillet often. Pour glaze through a fine mesh sieve to remove any bits of garlic. Stir vinegar into glaze. Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate if not using immediately. Reserve 1 cup of glaze for later use.

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place in baking dish, and bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, brush chicken with glaze and return to oven to bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Brush chicken with glaze every 5 minutes. Remove from oven when chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Place a chicken breast on a layer of baby spinach, top with a dollop of goat cheese and sprinkle fresh pomegranate arils on top. Drizzle with reserved glaze before serving.

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Perfectly Pomegranate Dinner Party


Several weeks ago I entered a contest on to be one of 100 people chosen to host a Pomegranate Dinner Party…and I was chosen! The gracious people at PomWonderful sent me an amazing host package, complete with two cases of Pomegranates, coupons for free bottles of PomWonderful Pomegranate Juice, an apron and cutting board, as well as goodies to share with my dinner party attendees.

The final entries are being judged on three components:

  • Best incorporation of Pomegranates into the food and drink
  • Most inspired Pomegranate decor
  • Most successful “How to open a Pomegranate” presentation

I have a confession. Until this package arrived, I’d never tasted a Pomegranate or anything even Pomegranate flavored (besides my Burt’s Bees Pomegranate Lip Gloss). I entered this contest as a challenge to myself, to learn about and hopefully try something new- as well as being able to plan an entire party around one fruit.
I was thrilled to be selected, and when my goodies from PomWonderful arrived I couldn’t wait to try a pomegranate.

Luckily for me, the host kit included instructions on how to open a Pomegranate. I followed these instructions, and found that it’s pretty simple to open and remove the seeds. I was so excited to try my first Pomegranate- and I loved it! It was sweet, juicy, and tart- a perfect combination in my book! Part of the requirements for the dinner party were that each host would do a presentation to instruct guests on how to open a Pomegranate- so I spent plenty of time perfecting my much so that the apron I was sent in my host kit was stained with Pomegranate juice (a sign of super juicy fruit) and in the washer the night of my party!

I began planning my party immediately, sending the word out to my friends and family that I would be having a dinner party. I was even asked by one friend to teach her how to open a Pomegranate. Perfect! I began searching for recipes that either called for Pomegranate in their original state, or recipes I could tweak a little by substituting Pomegranate Juice for something else. Here’s the final menu:

I have to say that dinner was delicious..and I’m not just saying that because I cooked it- the friends and family I cooked for said it for me. I was excited to find the the Pomegranate is versatile- it works well with sweet dishes as well as savory, and paired easily with everything I had in mind. I had some minor last minute changes to my menu- I attempted to make homemade goat cheese, but failed miserably, so I used store bought. In the heat of the moment, I forgot to have someone take a picture of the Roasted Cauliflower- so just picture some golden brown cauliflower florets tossed with garlic cloves, fresh parsley and fresh lemon juice. It was a hit! Here are the pictures from dinner- and I’ll share recipes soon!

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms marinated in the Pomegranate Citrus Glaze used  for the Chicken

Pomegranate Citrus Glazed Chicken served on a bed of Baby Spinach topped
with Goat Cheese and Pomegranate Seeds and a Pomegranate Red Wine Vinaigrette on the side
Profiteroles with Pomegranate Syrup and Pomegranate Cream

Pomegranate Lemonade Spritzers with optional Vodka

I truly had a great time with this party from the moment my Pomegranates arrived. Looks like my friends did too:

The kiddo’s had their own dinner party with Homemade Mac and Cheese

Something must have been funny!

I forgot Dan is a vegetarian, and he was a great sport! Took the stuffing out of the mushrooms, and
enjoyed my Mac and Cheese with a side of Spinach and goat cheese!

Another requirement of this dinner party was to use Pomegranates in your decorations as well as your food. I knew immediately what I wanted to do, I just had to figure out the logistics! I wanted to have a hurricane glass filled with Pomegranate Arils surrounding a candle, so the candle would illuminate the arils and cast a lovely red glow on the dinner table. I was able to pull it off- along with some fall leaves and fresh pomegranates, and I’m super proud of my centerpiece!

The last requirement was to give a presentation on how to open a Pomegranate. Not a problem..I love to talk with a knife in my hand! I seem to make goofy faces when I talk, and a video would have been mortifying..But I do have some pictures to share!

Here’s a quick step by step on how to easily open a pomegranate:

  • Make sure you’ve got a cutting board, sharp knife and an apron. These things are juicy!
  • Fill a large bowl with water and set aside.
  • Slice the top off of the pomegranate, just beneath the crown.
  • Use your knife to score the pomegranate into sections using the membrane as a guide
  • Pull sections apart, like you would an orange, using both hands.
  • Hold over the water, and use your fingers to separate the membrane from the seeds- let the seeds fall into the water.
  • When finished, you’ll notice that the seeds are at the bottom of the bowl and pieces of membrane are floating at the top.
  • Use a spoon or small strainer to scoop out bits of membrane
  • Pour seeds into a strainer
  • Enjoy- pop a few into your mouth, use as a garnish, or refrigerate in an airtight container to use later
Thank you to everyone at PomWonderful
Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

One of the things I miss most about living in Ohio is the change of seasons. Don’t get me wrong…One of the reasons I love living in Florida is that it doesn’t snow. I don’t miss the snow or freezing rain one bit- but what I do miss are the cool crisp autumn nights where I could burrow under my covers, but still sleep with the window open!

It seems like most people associate Pumpkin flavors with fall…I like pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread as much as anyone..but one of my favorite fall treats is a nice juicy caramel apple! I wanted to make a Caramel Apple Cupcake to celebrate the arrival of cooler weather to Northeast Florida (Finally…thank you cold front!!).

A little chilly, but still a gorgeous fall morning in Florida!

I found this recipe on Paula Deen’s website, and decided to give it a try, with a few adjustments. These cupcakes turned out better than I expected they would- and everyone that tried one said they loved it!

I didn’t want to make caramel again, as I had a batch of homemade caramel sauce in the refrigerator- so instead of the candies on top of the cupcakes, I made a caramel buttercream (big surprise, I know!)
Caramel Apple Cupcakes adapted from Paula Deen

Printable Recipe

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup yogurt (I used mixed berry, it worked well)
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
1 medium granny smith apple, chopped finely
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin or mini muffin tin with cupcake liners. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and sugar until well combined.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add sour cream and yogurt, stirring until combined. Batter will be dry- add apple juice or cider a little at a time until the batter reaches a pourable consistency. Stir in chopped apple.
Spoon into muffin tins, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes for mini or 25-30 minutes for regular sized cupcakes. Cool pans on cooling rack. Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3-1/2 cup Salted Caramel, depending on taste
3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
Cream butter in a large bowl with electric mixer. Stir in caramel until combined. Add sugar in small batches, mixing on medium speed with electric mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. If thinner consistency is desired, add milk a tablespoon at a time.

I made some apple chips by using my Pampered Chef Ultimate Slice and Grate to slice an apple into thin slices. I topped with the Pampered Chef Sweet Caramel Sprinkle topping, and put in the oven at 275 degrees until the apple slices dried out and curled a bit. Be sure you slice the apple evenly..otherwise some chips are good, some are burnt. Live and learn!

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!