Monthly Archives: February 2014

Looks can be deceiving – Coffee Cake

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We had a birthday at work the other day; I asked the b-day girl what she would like to snack on for the day.  She was not a big snacky type person and said that I should make something that I would like to eat.  Well I am not going to argue with that.  So I thought hmmmmm I haven’t had a sour cream coffee cake forever; which is kind of sad.  I do have a great recipe that I have made numerous times over the years but I am always looking for different recipes that I can try.  While I do know the culinary rule of “never try a new recipe on guests” I swear I break that all the time and for the most part pretty successfully.  So I broke the rule and made a new recipe and while it was absolutely beautiful and definitely something you could find at a bakery or high end coffee shop (I swear I saw something like this at Starbucks) it was just far too dry and dense for me.

All at work really enjoyed it or at least they were being polite, my family was clearly not impressed and are far too outspoken.  My husband actually said to me if I sliced it thinner he would like it better, I literally being as quick witted as I am; and has also been mentioned to me a several times, told him to take smaller bites.  Clearly there was an issue.  I totally know how I would fix this and it’s SO simple.

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Preheat oven to 350’ grease and flour 10 inch tube pan.

1 ½ sticks of butter at room temperature

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

3 x-large eggs at room temperature

1 ½ tsp vanilla

1 ¼ cup sour cream

2 ½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)

1 package instant vanilla pudding

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp kosher salt


½ cup brown sugar

½ cup AP flour

2 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp kosher salt

4 TBS cold unsalted butter cut in pieces

¾ cup chopped nuts optional and of your choice


½ cup confectioner’s sugar

2 TBS real maple syrup

Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time; add the vanilla and sour cream.   In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture just till combined.  Use a spatula to completely mix the batter.

Streusel:  add the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl; use a fork to combine to a crumble.  If using nuts add at this time.

Spoon half the batter into the pan, sprinkle with ¾ cup or more streusel.  Spoon the remainder batter in the pan, spread the remainder of the streusel on top.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Test for doneness.

Let cool on a wire rack, transfer to serving plate and mix the glaze, add a few drops of water if needed to make it runny.  Drizzle as much or as little as you would like.

My spin is the vanilla pudding which is also in the zuchini bread recipe I use and also I would make and add more streusel. Is there such a thing a too much streusel??? I don’t think so.

Sometimes the best food comes from unexpected places

Spent a long weekend in Millinocket ME, had a wonderful time and some great food.  I was unable to blog yesterday as there was no WiFi.  Thought it was pretty comical I had no problem blogging from Cancun Mexico but Northern Maine not going to happen.  I was told the next time I go up there will be. I am sure if I tried a lot harder I could have figured out a way to get it done, but we were so busy with playing and eating. We logged over 120 miles on snowmobiles; which is saying a lot since I have not been on a sled in 10+ years.  It is just like riding a bike – well at least I picked it up again pretty quickly.  Did you know that new sleds have heated hand, feet and butt warmers – Brilliant!!!!

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Mt. Katahdin this morning – view from my friends camp

The sled I borrowed for the weekend



Sunday we had plans to meet my girlfriends’ nephew and friends for lunch out of the trails then later back at her place for Sunday dinner; there were 9 of us in total.  We brought the turkey from home as they could not get one locally. There was a very lengthy discussion as to when to put the bird in the oven, at what temp, and when we HAD to be back to take it out.  There was a lot of doubt that we would be eating a moist bird.  Our back up plan was lots of gravy and plenty of wine. Well our precise planning worked; dinner was excellent, the bird was juicy and everyone was thrilled. Dessert were very yummy soft peanut butter cookies. Try them if you can.

1 Cup peanut butter

¾ Cup butter

¾ Cup Sugar

¾ Cup Brown Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla

2 Eggs

2 Cups Flour

1 Tsp Soda

Add a handful or two of Chocolate Chips if you want – we did

Cream butters & sugars, stir in vanilla and eggs; add flour and soda till combined.  Either use a cookie scoop or just place about a golf ball size of the dough about 3 inches apart on an ungreased pan or sheet. Cook at 375’ for 10 minutes till slightly brown, do not overcook.  Leave on the ungreased pan for a minute or two till set.  Makes approx. 36 cookies

There are times when no planning garners some pretty amazing results.  On the way home we wanted to stop for a bite to eat.  We ended up down in the Old Port area of Portland.  We saw a place parked and started walking got to the one we saw originally and it just didn’t look right.  My husband said he saw a café a few storefronts back that looked pretty good, at least there were people sitting, eating and smiling; that was his deciding criteria.

olive cafe pizza

What a delightful gem Olive Café turned out to be.  It’s a cozy little Mediterranean Restaurant, great atmosphere and wonderful food.  We each had a salad which were both wonderful and split a pizza.  I was slightly afraid of the ingredients on the pizza but just had to try it.

Chicken Shawarma Pizza – Marinated Grilled Chicken, Garlic Sauce, Chopped Tomatoes, Chopped Parsley, Chopped Pickles, Mozzarella & Feta Cheeses and Sumac garnished with Tahini sauce on a thin crispy crust that was cracker like.  First time ever having pickles on a pizza have no idea was sumac is and don’t recall ever having tahini sauce – it was excellent we ate the whole thing!

Not easy being green – why do veggies get such a bad rap

I am just as guilty as the next for steering clear of everything green growing up!  I was brought up in the era of having to sit at the table until my plate was cleared.  I see good and bad in this approach.  I still feel the need to finish my plate, which is bad for your waist line; good for making you try food that scares you.  I recall as a child placing peas along the underside rim of my plate in hopes that no one would notice.   The family dog wasn’t opposed to any veggie of any color; pretty sure because they don’t see color hmmmm.

I didn’t change my ways until my early 20’s and it has been ongoing challenge ever since.  I have been pretty successful over the years hiding things I dubbed yucky!  I can cut up an onion so small that it disappears in a soup love the flavor, didn’t like the texture – I don’t have to do this as much anymore.  Broccoli was hidden in stir fry or covered with cheese sauce.  Peas were usually covered with gravy mostly only in chicken pot pies.  Asparagus was always covered with hollandaise and just in the last 2 weeks I have been working on brussel sprouts.

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There is speculation that if you eat something 7-10 times you can train yourself to like it.  For the most part I do believe this.  I can now eat Peas, Asparagus and Broccoli without smothering them with anything.  Brussel sprouts are still a work in progress; I am only on try 4 but I haven’t given up hope yet.

Asparagus – we love (except my son) roasting or even grilling with just a little olive oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. We now have an asparagus patch in our garden
Peas – I only like frozen sweet peas – and they are a great tasting side as well as a punch of color – presentation, presentation, presentation.
Broccoli – great steamed or pan seared with some shallots, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. We have been growing broccoli for many years with great success – We harvest and freeze when we can’t keep up before it flowers.
Brussel Sprouts – we are still eating them with a gravy or sauce of some sort – we are working on it – these look cool but they won’t be making it into my garden anytime soon.


1lb tube pasta such as rigatoni, (whole wheat works too)
2 cups frozen peas
3/4 cup pesto
2 handfuls argula
8 oz goat cheese

boil pasta (in salted water) according to the packages directions, at the last minute add the peas, drain and return to the pot. Add pesto and stir to combine.  Add the arugula and toss. Cruble goat cheese on top and a grind of fresh crack black pepper.

*If you wanted to use this as a meal add some diced cooked chicken

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Basil Pesto

6 ounces fresh basil, stems removed, washed and patted dry
4 ounces pine nuts
5-6 garlic cloves (or 7-8 like I do)
2 ounces of grated parmesan cheese
2/3 cup olive oil – more or less
kosher salt
fresh crack black pepper

Combine basil, pine nuts and garlic in a food processor or blender. Pulse until all combined and chopped. Add olive oil to desired consistency. Finish by pulsing in the parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Guacamole & Sweet and Salty Wings for the big game

We are the typical New England sports fans – we watch the Patriots, Red Sox, and Bruins – Neither one of us enjoys watching Basketball on TV but we did get to a playoff game once years ago and it was amazing to be in the old Boston Garden, that place was rocking – I can safely say that as we had nose bleed seats and saw the dust coming off the rafters when the fans were jumping & yelling!  So it was pretty sad that the Patriots couldn’t pull off the last win to get to the Super Bowl – the game was super ugly and they definitely deserved to lose – very disappointing!

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Whether we stay home or head to a party I always make some guacamole, this year we are staying in to watch the game so I am also going to make some Sweet & Salty Wings and an extra-large Italian Grinder to cut up and share.  For dessert I am going to make some Chocolate Mousse for the first time.

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Guacamole – Base your measurements on how many avocados you have

4 ripe Haas avocados

1 small onion chopped

2 small tomatoes diced and seeded

1 lime juiced

2-3 cloves of garlic crushed

1 TBS Cilantro

4-5 shakes of hot sauce

Salt & Pepper to taste

Chop onions pretty small, dice and seed tomatoes, crush garlic add all to a medium bowl, cut avocado in half remove seed and add meat to the bowl.  Juice lime and add cilantro.  Stir and breakdown some of the avocados – I like to leave them a little chunky.

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24 Chicken wings – tips removed and wings segmented – bake at 400′

I like to bake mine – it makes me think they are slightly healthier…

24 wings segmented

3-4 slices of bacon cooked crispy

½ Cup real Maple Syrup

Kosher Salt



Wire rack and sided baking sheet – sprayed with non-sick cooking spray

Single layer, not touching (they can a little but you want the wing to crisp up) Bake for 20 minutes, turn and cook for another 15 or until cooked through. Place on tray of choice.  Chop up the crispy bacon into small pieces, and sprinkle over the chicken. Heat the maple syrup till warm and pour all over – serve warm, you will need wet wipes of some sort but they are worth it!