Thursday, June 30, 2011

Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day GIVE AWAY!!!

Alright kids, simmer down, settle in, I have a story to tell you. Once upon a time there was a girl and she couldn't bake bread. She could however bake a loaf of dense brick like bread with great finesse and ease. If there was a contest for that, she would win, and question about that. Then one day she bought a book that forever changed her enters from left stage...ARTISAN BREAD IN 5 MINUTES A DAY!

No need to mince words folks, this book changed my life, and it is awesome. I went to pastry school and I took a bread class, but it was a ho hum class, and not very good...I came out of that class not knowing or understanding bread anymore or any less. I was determined to find a way that I could make bread quickly and confidently. I found all my answers in this Holy grail of cook books! Whenever someone asks me if I can recommend a good bread cook book I always start with Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day. With this book anyone can make bread. I could leave my 7 year old niece with it and come back and find a beautiful loaf waiting to be eaten.

The recipes in Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day go as follows, dump, stir, sit, shape, bake...I tell no lies, it is that simple. So if you are one of those people who never ever thought they were capable of making bread that was beautiful, then this book is for you. Or if you are that person who already knows how to make bread, but wishes it was quicker and more accessible...then this book is also for you. Or if you are that person who loves to eat bread, but doesn't even know where the oven is located in your house...or when I say "mix" you think "tape"...then this is also for you.

I have tried so many recipes from this book I don't even know where to start. Of course their basic boulee loaf is an all time favorite. Then the Brioche, the Challah, dinner rolls...etc, etc. The list goes on and on and on. You should just go and buy the book, really it is worth your time and money. If you want to buy this book click on the book image on the right side bar of this post.

My posts have been scattered recently due to vacations, and work an effort to apologize to you all for my scarcity, I am bring to you another sponsored giveaway. Thanks to the lovely folks behind the scenes at Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day for sponsoring this!

Here is how this contest is going to work:

1) Comment on this post saying what your all time favorite bread is, and where you can buy it, or if you made it...where you got the recipe from.

2) Send me a loaf of this delicious bread...just kidding.

3) In one week I will use to select a winner, and the book will be sent to you.

PS. No kitchen is complete without this cookbook PPS. Perfect wedding gift, really it is...take it from someone who feels like going to weddings is my full time job, I know : )

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-mouth Winner!!!

First things first...according to you...the most favorite textures for cookies are as follows:

1. Gooey
2. Chewy
3. Crunchy
4. Melt-in-your-mouth
5. Crispy

I would have to agree with the general public on this one, but really I love most cookies and probably wouldn't turn one away just because it was crispy. : )

Thanks to everyone for entering, I entered the numbers into the random number generator and this is what I got....

True Random Number Generator gives us our winner...
28 2

That makes this contest winner Patty Blanchard! Contact me via email to receive your new spiffy cookbook! Thanks everyone for entering! Watch out for another cookbook give away coming soon! I will give you a involves bread...and I talk about it a lot on here : )

Happy Summer!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Flopsy and Cake balls

I have to confess something. Sorry if this offends some of you, but I have been a dog hater most of my life. They smell bad, they slobber, people think they are their kids...oh boy, the list could go on and on. Then one day my Dad brought a puppy home from one of his trips to the East Coast. Not just any puppy, but a tiny Miniature Schnauzer. She did indeed smell bad, and she slobbered, and my Dad grew slightly euphoric around her...I continued to be a dog hater. I kept my distance for a few weeks, I didn't want to pet her, play with her, or have anything to do with her. Then something changed. Every time she thought she was alone she would start howlbarking...which is a cross between howling and barking and basically sounds like crying. My heart broke. Poor little pup, so far away from home. Now, to my dismay and surprise this darn dog has stolen my heart. She literally has puppy eyes all the time, she stares at you tilts her head, and wins over everyone she meets! She is a super cuddly puppy and loves to sit on people's laps. She is also very good at tricks, and responds to come most of the time...unless we are outside and there are just too many distractions for her little hyper active mind...oooh squirrel, tree, leaf, kid, door, car...woof. This little creature we have welcomed into our home has been bequeathed with the name of "Flopsy", or Flopsinator, Flopso, Flops, Flopsipoo, and the list goes on. We call her "Flopsy" because she just plops and flops on the ground all the time with such gusto that the name was all too apropos.

Now the moral to this little story about our Flopser is that it is very possible to have a change of heart towards something. I had similar feelings against these things known as "cake balls"...they just seemed so unrefined and had a hint of "leftover" feeling to them. Then I had a "real" cake ball made from scratch, no boxes involved. Oh dang, so darn darn delicious! When I worked at the bakery we would only make cake balls when people requested them. I always prayed and hoped we had a few extra laying around just so I could eat them. They were awesome, and just the right size. They way I see it is that a slice of cake is sketchy, if you take a small piece you feel like you deserve another small piece, and then it is all down hill from there. Then if you get a big piece you decide to share, but then decide you really should have a piece for again, portion control is out the window. On the other hand, a cake ball, a perfectly portioned cake ball is the perfect size. Just a few bites and your sweet tooth is satisfied. Then if you have extra give them away as quickly as possible to avoid over indulgence in the worst way.

Cake Balls
adapted from

1 batch dark chocolate cake, recipe to follow

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 cups confectioner's sugar

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon milk (or more, as necessary)

Dark Chocolate Cake
makes two 9-inch round cakes or three 8-inch round cakes

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans, or three 8-inch round baking pans...I just poured the batter into 2- 13x9 greased pans, it cooked quickly, and worked out great.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixer bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer for 2 minutes. Mix in boiling water - the batter will be quite thin. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 (or much less if in 13x9 pans) minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on a wire rack, then tap the cakes out of the pans.

Cool completely on a rack. This is a very moist cake, which is ideal for this recipe. It's best to let it cool overnight at least...I just stuck mine in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, whip the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and milk together until smooth. Throw the cake in and mix until combined. Check to see if it will roll into a ball. It should: this makes a very malleable, easy-to-handle cake mixture. But if it needs a little extra moisture, add milk a spoonful at a time.

Scoop balls onto a parchment lined pan using a small ice cream scoop or two spoons. Freeze for at least 30 minutes or longer.

Cake balls for a UT bound High School graduate

Decide what kind of chocolate you want to coat the balls with. Dark, semi-sweet, milk, white, or even melted peanut butter chips mixed with milk chocolate works well. Melt on 50% power in the microwave for a minute, stir, heat for another 30 seconds, stir. Keep doing this until your chocolate is just barely melted. If you overheat your chocolate it won't set properly. When your chocolate is melted remove the cake balls from the freezer. Dip the flat bottom of the cake balls in the chocolate and scrape off on side of bowl. Cool for a few seconds until chocolate is hardened. Then place the cake ball on a fork and spoon a spoonful of chocolate over the cake ball, spread to coat entire surface with a fork. Slide gently off the fork onto a parchment lined pan. At this point you can add sprinkles if you like, or you can wait until the chocolate is hardened and drizzle additional melted chocolate of a different color on top.

This makes a large quantity of cake balls. I had enough batter to bring 3 batches of 24 to three different parties. After you scoop the cake balls they can stay in the freezer wrapped for quite a long time.

PS. If you happen to have lots of random cake scraps from making cakes, save them, and then use those to make these.

This is how "not to" make a cake fail, but you get the picture : )

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares and a Sweet Give away

Roll it, fill it, fold it, cut it

The time comes in every blogger's life when they reach that point. A milestone, a moment of victory, a moment of triumph. That moment is when they reach their 139th post! This is a moment that is often overlooked, and under here I am giving this post its well deserved credit. WAY TO BE POST NUMBER 139!!!

In honor of this accomplishment I bring to you my very first sponsored give away! Thank you Alice Medrich, for sponsoring this give away, and for sharing your wonderful recipes with us! I knew we were kindred spirits when I read your thoughts on using unbleached flour in your recipes, and when I saw your beautiful and creative ideas on cookie making.Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-mouth Cookies not only has great recipes, it also has great tips on how to make the perfect cookie. Tips on softening butter, melting chocolate, mixing, rolling, baking, and storing. All little things, but all important in order to produce successful cookies. The book is uniquely divided into sections according to texture...Crispy, Crunchy, Chunky, Gooey, Flaky, and Melt-in-your-mouth. I can't wait to try every single recipe in the book! So far my favorites from each sections have been:

Crispy: Vanilla Bean Tuilles with fresh Thyme
Crunchy: Great Grahams
Chunky: Pannelets - sweet potato cookies
Gooey: Turtle Bars
Flaky: Pecan Tassies
Melt-in-your-mouth: Coffee Walnut Cookies

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-mouth Cookies has recipes for all the basics like Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, and Oatmeal, but also has a plethora of new and exciting recipes. Alice also has an index in the back that lists which recipes are Wheat-Free, dairy-free, whole grain, only 2 0r 3 points on the Weight Watchers plan, doughs that freeze well, and cookies that last up to 2 weeks. A very helpful resource for anyone making cookies!!! The allergen-friendly cookie recipes taste good and don't call for an extensive list of rare ingredients...which is a nice breath of fresh air!!! Compared to other cookie cookbooks on the market this one is a win-win for everybody. That is why I am so happy to be able to give one away to my wonderful readers!!! If you don't win it I highly recommend you go buy one today! You can buy it on Amazon by clicking on the book link to the left of this post, or go to

The first recipe I tried from this cookbook was the "Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares" recipe. I loved it! It was truly inspired, and different...very different. Thanks to Artisan Books for providing us with the beautiful picture and recipe from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-your-mouth Cookies.

Photograph by Deborah Jones.

Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares
From CHEWY GOOEY CRISPY CRUNCHY MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH COOKIES by Alice Medrich. Published by Artisan Books. Copyright © 2010.

These crunchy-crisp and chewy cookies with sparkling bumpy tops started out to be simple raisin cookies. Indeed, you can pair lemon zest, cinnamon, or anise with dark or golden raisins. But you can also make the cookies with prunes, apricots, cherries, dates, cranberries, or candied ginger. Verbatim from our testing notes: anise is best with the prunes but smells divine in the oven, no matter what fruit we use. Try a ginger/cranberry combo for the holidays (and note that the cookies are sturdy enough to ship). If dried fruit is especially hard or chewy, it will only get harder after baking. To avoid this, soak pieces in a small bowl with just enough cold water (or fruit juices or wine) to cover for 20 minutes (longer will dilute and oversoften the fruit). Drain and pat pieces very dry before using.

Makes thirty-two 21⁄2-inch square cookies


1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (8.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest or ground cinnamon or anise

1 cup moist dried fruit (one kind or a combination): dark or golden raisins; dried sour cherries; dried cranberries; coarsely chopped dates, dried apricots, or prunes; finely chopped candied ginger

1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) turbinado or other coarse sugar


Cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper or greased

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork.

With a large spoon in a medium mixing bowl or with a mixer, beat the butter with the granulated sugar until smooth and well blended but not fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture and mix until completely incorporated.

Divide the dough in half and form each into a rectangle. Wrap the patties in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit for 15 minutes to soften slightly. On a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap, roll one piece of dough into a rectangle 8 1/2 inches by 16 1/2 inches. With a short side facing you, scatter half of the dried fruit on the bottom half of the dough. Fold the top half of the dough over the fruit, using the paper as a handle. Peel the paper from the top of the dough. (If it sticks, chill the dough for a few minutes until the paper peels easily.) Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Flip the dough onto a lightly floured cutting board and peel off the remaining paper. Sprinkle with half of the coarse sugar and pat lightly to make sure the sugar adheres. Use a heavy knife to trim the edges. Cut into 4 strips and then cut each strip into 4 pieces to make 16 squares. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the lined or greased pans. Repeat with the remaining dough, fruit, and sugar.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. For lined pans, set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool; for unlined pans, use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to racks. Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing. May be kept in an airtight container for a week.

Here is how this give away is going to work.

You have to do 2 things

1. You either have to be or become my follower...yes I realize this is bribery...but do it anyway : ) You can do this via Facebook by going to the Networked blogs box to the right of this post and clicking on "Follow this blog"...if you do this every time I post it will show up in your Facebook news feed. Or you can scroll farther down the page and when you see all the little faces of people following me just click the "follow" button. Easy Peasy. If you are a follower and you want an email every time I post shoot me an email at, and I will add you to my list.

2. The second thing you have to do is comment on this post by answering the following question:

What is your favorite texture for a cookie and why? Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth, flaky, or chunky?

In one Week I will use to find a winner and post it on the blog. Be sure to check back and see if you win so I can get your address and have the book sent to you. This contest is only open to people living in the US...for shipping cost reasons, you can only enter once...but if your son who is 2 wants to enter as well that is cool with me : ), pass this on to your peeps...the more followers I get the more sponsored contests I can have!

P.S. Let me know if you do try the Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares recipe!
P.P.S. In the cookbook Alice also gives a wheat free version of the recipe, and a few variations...check them out in her cookbook!
P.P.S. I just took the double oat wheat free cookies out of the oven, they are amazing! Best Oatmeal Cookies ever! Thank you Alice Medrich!