Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

There are a few cookie recipes I think every home cook should have in their arsenal. A good lemon cookie is one of them. And these are really good lemon cookies.

I'd like to think I'm not an emotional eater, but I have to admit these cookies made me very happy. There's something about lemon that is so cheerful and bright. The taste, the smell, it all puts me in a good mood. It's impossible to feel stressed out or morose while eating something lemony.

These Lemon Crinkle Cookies take the best things about lemon and make them even better. Oh so slightly crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, sweet with a slight tart-- these cookies are absolutely incredible. They melt in your mouth. They also keep their texture better than any cookie I've ever made. I stored them in a plastic container for almost a week, and they still tasted exactly like they did on the first day. This does not happen often. Most of the time, cookies get sort of stale and limp by day three. Not these little champs.

I made these cookies intending to ship them off to my husband's co-workers like I do with most baked goods. My husband took one bite and said, "These can stay here." If that's not a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is. The only change I might consider is adding more lemon zest. Not to say these cookies aren't lemony as written, because they are, but it's an easy change to the recipe for the ultra-lemon lovers among us.


1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 tsp lemon zest (or more)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or grease with a light coat of non-stick spray.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice until well combined. In small batches, add in the sifted dry ingredients, mixing just to combine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or foil and place in refrigerator. Chill for at least an hour.

4. Place powdered sugar in a shallow dish or on a large plate. Roll chilled dough into one-inch balls. Roll each ball through the powdered sugar to coat, and then place on prepared cookie sheet.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes in preheated oven, or until bottoms have started to brown ever so slightly and cookie takes on a matte (not glossy) appearance. Be careful not to over bake. Recipe yields about two dozen cookies.

Source: Lauren's Latest

This recipe is shared with Crazy Sweet Tuesday, This Chick Cooks, Cast Party Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, It's a Keeper Thursday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Fresh Food Friday, Sweets for a Saturday, Sweet Indulgences Sunday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday, Craft-O-Maniac, On the Menu Monday, Recipe Sharing Monday, Made by You Monday, Delectable Tuesday, Tuesday Talent Show

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream

Hurricane Irene has come and gone. I'd like to think the batch of Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream I had sitting in the freezer helped me get through it. Luckily, all is well here in the Cats and Casseroles household today. The winds were less than forecasted, and we live on top of a hill, which means we've avoided most of the flooding. My thoughts go out to everyone who has been, or will be, effected by this storm.

I'm definitely a chocoholic. If I'm going to indulge in dessert, most of the time I want it to be chocolate. This Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream is rich, dark and decadent. There's no chocolate craving it can't satisfy. And it really does taste just like a chocolate truffle. It's the more intensely chocolatey ice cream I've ever had. I didn't even want to share any of it with my husband. I did, but I didn't want to. And I can't wait for an opportunity to make it again! (without the hurricane, this time)


1/2 c. sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 c. whole milk
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together yolks and sugar until the mixture becomes thickened and pale yellow. Set aside.

2. In a 2-quart sauce pan, over medium heat bring milk to a simmer. Whisk in the cocoa powder, and let it come to a simmer again. Continue to allow to simmer for about 3 minutes, whisking constantly.

3. Remove sauce pan from heat. Whisk contents of the saucepan into the bowl with the yolk and sugar mixture. Pour back into the saucepan and return to heat. Heat on medium-low, whisking, until the custard begins to thicken. It should become thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not allow milk to return to a simmer, lest the eggs scramble. Once thickened, pour custard into a large bowl.

4. Place chopped bittersweet chocolate in a small bowl. In a small sauce pan, heat the cream over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl with the bittersweet chocolate. Stir until chocolate has fully melted and combined with cream.

5. Combine the two chocolate mixtures. Stir in the vanilla. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.

6. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

Source: The Ultimate Ice Cream Book

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pesto Turkey Panini

The PureBread Deli is a chain of sandwich shops located around northern Delaware. Last time I ate lunch there, I ordered a grilled panini called the Golden Retriever (all the sandwiches are named after dog breeds). I liked it so much I decided re-create a similar version at home.

The defining component of this sandwich is the pesto. With my garden currently overflowing with basil, I figured it was the perfect time to experiment. For my pesto, I used Pecorino-Romano cheese instead of the traditional Parmesan, and pecans in lieu of pine nuts. That's what I had in my pantry. This recipe is very versatile, and easily modified to fit whatever you have on hand. These sandwiches are a great choice for a light, quick dinner after a long, late summer's day. Plus, basil smells really good. I love taking any opportunity to work with it, because I love the aroma.


1 c. packed basil leaves
2 tbsp grated pecorino-romano cheese
3 tbsp whole pecans
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
6 slices whole wheat bread (I used Meyer's Italian)
2 roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
4 oz ball fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
3 oz deli turkey

1. Using a food processor or blender, pulse the basil leaves until it's very finely chopped. Add in the cheese and pecans. Pulse for another 10 seconds. Blend in olive oil in a stream. Season pesto with salt and pepper.

2. Spread pesto on the slices of bread. Build your panini as follows: bread, fresh mozzarella, 2 tomato slices, turkey, bread.

3. Place in a panini press set to high heat (or use a grill pan over medium-high heat). Sandwich is done when cheese has melted.

Note: I was fairly generous with my ingredients, which resulted in only 3 sandwiches per recipe. However, slice a little thinner, spread a little less pesto, and this recipe can be stretched to 4, maybe even 5, servings.

Source: Cats and Casseroles original recipe, inspired by the Purebread Deli

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe is the one that got away. Back when I was first married, I started to mysteriously receive Bon Apetit magazine, although I'd never ordered it. Think someone was trying to tell me something? And while I eagerly read through each issue that arrived in my mailbox, I didn't attempt many of the recipes. Back then, I could barely boil water. But there was this one recipe that stood out to me, that I couldn't help but try. It was for these No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls.

I'm comfortable working with yeast now, but this is a recent development. Not too long ago, I couldn't manage yeast without killing it. So when I came across this recipe, I knew I had a winner. This was true, not only because of how easy and simple these no-yeast rolls are to make, but because they taste marvelous.

So how did this recipe become "the one that got away"? I never wrote it down and then accidentally threw out the magazine. I spent years kicking myself for it. Apparently, I was not the only one. Thanks to the miracle of the modern search engine, I finally re-discovered the recipe through a message board post from someone else seeking it. I'm thrilled to be able to share this recipe with you, so that it will be lost no more.


for the filling:
3/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

for the dough:
2 1/2 c. (or more) all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, divided

for the icing:
1 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp marscapone cheese (or substitute cream cheese), softened
2 tbsp buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Use non-stick spray to grease a 9 inch springform pan.

2. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the filling. Set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, 2 tbsp sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the buttermilk and 6 tbsp of the melted butter. Stir until ingredients are combined and a soft dough is created. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. If dough seems excessively wet, add more flour. Knead dough about 8 turns. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

4. Once dough has chilled, roll it out on a floured surface into a rectangle about 12 x 10 inches. Brush 1 tablespoon  melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle the previously made filling over the butter and press down lightly. Roll up the rectangle along the long side and pinch the ends closed. Cut into 8 equal slices.

5. Place slices in the prepared springform pan. Brush the top of the rolls with the remaining tablespoon of melted butter. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes.

6. In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, marscapone cheese, and buttermilk. Spread icing over warm cinnamon rolls. Serve immediately.

Source: adapted slightly from Epicurious Message Boards

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good Help Is Hard To Find

You might have noticed a new button on my sidebar. My little blog is a nominee for Philadelphia's Most Valuable Blog (MVB). If you would like to vote for me, I would much appreciate it. Voting is open through September 9.

It's a very good thing these are not pioneer times, and I am not farming for sustenance, because I'd be in big trouble. My garden is not doing well. Predators are getting the best of my tomatoes. The onions actually rotted from the soil being too wet (remember all that yapping I did about the wonders of the self-watering container? yeah, you're going to want to ignore all of that).

The good news is that I appear to be getting a second crop of tomatoes. A couple of weeks ago, I trimmed down my massive tomato plants, and, much to my surprise, baby green tomato buds started forming again. Last time I saw one of these, it was early in June.

Wanting to ensure this potential second harvest stands a better chance than the current one, I hired Sundae to guard the garden. She was supposed to stare at it from inside the back door, looking all ferocious, and alert me if she spotted any groundhogs. She chose to do this instead:

My garden is doomed.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Baked Doughnuts

These doughnuts were a long time in the making. It all started with a doughnut pan. I've been wanting to make doughnuts for a while, but the prospect of frying them tempered my enthusiasm. I don't like working with hot oil and avoid it whenever possible. So, when I came across a pan that would allow me to bake doughnuts in the oven and bypass the fryer, I couldn't resist.

Once I had the pan, I had to track down a good recipe, and that became the challenge. There just aren't a wealth of recipes out there for baked doughnuts. I tried out several of the ones I could find, but all of them flopped. For some of them, the problem was with the taste. For others, it was the texture. Finally, I decided to try the recipe that came with the pan. Normally, I don't put too much stock in manufacturer-provided recipes, but this time, it proved to be a home run.

These Baked Doughnuts have the prefect texture for a cake doughnut. The cinnamon and nutmeg give them a great flavor. And even though finding the right recipe proved tricky, the actual process of making these doughnuts is quick and fun. Just mix together ingredients, fill your pan, and bake.


2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3/4 milk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp shortening
1 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp hot water

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat doughnut pan with a non-stick spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Add in milk, eggs, vanilla, and shortening. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat until well combined. Spoon batter into wells of doughnut pan, filling each 3/4 of the way. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for a few minutes and then move doughnuts to a cooling rack.

3. In a shallow dish, whisk together powdered sugar and hot water. Dip doughnuts in glaze and place back on the cooling rack. Allow to glaze to dry and then store in an air-tight container. Makes 10-12 doughnuts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bacon Deviled Eggs

I'm no bacon queen. In most cases, I merely tolerate it. I realize this is near culinary blasphemy. But there are a few dishes where I don't just accept the bacon in it, I love it. These Bacon Deviled Eggs are such a dish. Never before has the humble deviled egg tasted so good. There's something about the salty and smokiness of the bacon that elevate this common picnic fare into something truly special. I make these for Thanksgiving h'ordeuvres each year, and they are always a hit. In fact, I never make any other kind of deviled egg anymore, because when I do, I wind up missing the bacon so much.


12 large eggs
4 slices bacon, diced (bare minimum, increase as you please, I often use 6-8 slices)
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1. Place eggs in a stockpot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and continue to boil for 10 minutes. Drain and run eggs under cold water. Once cool, peel eggs.

2. In skillet, cook diced bacon over medium-high heat. Once bacon has cooked to the point of being browned and crsipy, drain off fat. Transfer bacon to paper towels and blot any remaining grease.

3. Slice eggs. Scoop out yolks into a small mixing bowls. Combine yolks with mayonnaise, bacon, and mustard. Spoon mixture back into egg whites.

Note: These are best served the day they are made.

Source: Allrecipes

Monday, August 15, 2011

Brown Butter Rice Krispy Treats

I finally got a copy of the cookbook Flour, which I'd been eying for a few months. I wanted to dig right in, but, alas, my oven has been broken for the last week. It's been a sad week for me :(. Thankfully, the cookbook's author, Joanne Chang, was kind enough to include this no-bake recipe for Brown Butter Rice Krispy Treats.

It's probably been 20 years since the last time I've enjoyed a rice krispy treat. Making these was a trip down memory lane. This recipe stays fairly true to the beloved classic, while giving it a tad more sophistication. Browning the butter gives these treats a nutty, more complex taste. Yet, the large amount of marshmallow creates the ooey-gooey-ness nostalgia demands. My husband, who hates marshmallow, loved these. I think you'll love them, too.


1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split lenghtwise
2 10 oz. bags marshmallows
1/2 tsp kosher salt
9 c. crispy rice cereal

1. Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with aluminum foil.

2. In a large, heavy bottomed, stock pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into the butter. Once butter is melted, it will start to foam up and bubble. Once the bubbling subsides (which will take a few minutes) is when the butter will start to brown. You'll notice the butter go from yellow to a light tan to a golden brown. You should notice a nutty aroma.

3. Once your butter has browned, immediately add in the marshmallows and salt. Stir constantly until marshmallows are melted and combined with the browned butter. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice cereal. Stir until rice cereal is fully coated with marshmallow mix. Spoon into the prepared pan. Allow to rest at room temperature for about an hour before cutting into squares.

Source: Flour, by Joanne Chang with Christie Matheson, Chronicle Books, 2010, pg. 133.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Quick Queso

My husband loves dip. Loves dip. Loves dip for lunch. Loves dip for dinner. Loves to dip any food in any sauce available. I figure it's only a matter of time before he tries to dip dip in more dip. And of all the dips I've made over the years, this Quick Queso his absolute favorite. It's requires two ingredients and takes less than five minutes to make. That makes it my favorite dip, too.

Oh, and it also tastes really good. So there's that.

I realize Velveeta isn't very modern. Growing up, we had a piece of Tupperware designed specifically to hold blocks of Velveeta and a special cheese slicer to cut it. Back then, fewer people seemed to cringe in horror at the idea of eating neon orange cheese-like substances made of ingredients cooked up in a lab. Ah, the good old days. But even with my new-fangled pretentiousness toward fake non-foods, sometimes you need to let your hair down and live a little. So make some queso out of Velveeta. You won't regret it.


1 lb. processed cheese-like loaf (Velveeta), cubed
1 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel), undrained (it's fine if you want to drain it; it'll make a thicker dip with a milder spice level)

1. In a 2-quart sauce pan, combine the Velveeta and Rotel. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Source: Kraft Foods

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Oreo Cheescake Popsicles

For some reason, I've had in my head for a while that I need to make a frozen treat combining Oreos and cheesecake. I can't quite explain it. I'm not an avid consumer of either. The craving proved so strong, I broke down and bought a popsicle mold specifically to test out this recipe. I'm very happy I did. These popsicles are fantastic. They are, quite literally, frozen Oreo cheesecake on a stick. How can that ever be bad?

If there's one downside it's that these popsicles have a limit to how hard they'll freeze, which means they won't take perfect shape to the mold. So you won't get a picture-perfect pop. But who cares? Did I mention these are made of frozen Oreo cheesecake?


1 8 oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 c. powdered sugar
2 c. heavy cream
10 Oreo cookies, chopped

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar with electric mixer until smooth. Mixing on low speed, pour in the heavy cream. The goal here is not to whip the cream, so take care not to over-mix. Fold in the chopped Oreo cookies.

2. Pour batter into popsicle molds. Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving. Makes 10 standard sized popsicles.

Source: slightly adapted from Group Recipes

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cornflake Chicken Tenders

I was an extremely picky child. I think the grand sum of all the foods I would eat could be counted on two hands. I honestly don't know how my parents put up with me. But there was one food I would always eat: the chicken finger. And if kids' menus at restaurants nation-wide are any indication, I was not alone. Call it a nugget, a finger, a tender, children love breaded white meat chicken. Adults are pretty keen on it, too. My husband loves when I make these.

These Cornflake Chicken Tenders are baked, not fried, making them a healthier option. They bake in just 15 minutes, great for busy weeknights.


1.25 lb package chicken tenders
2 c. cornflake cereal
1 egg
2 tsp hot sauce
1 tbsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In shallow container (or on a large plate), whisk together egg and hot sauce.

3. Place cornflake cereal in a gallon-sized plastic bag. Crush flakes with a meat mallet. Add parley, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper to the bag. Shake until combined.

4. Dip chicken tenders into the egg mixture. Place into bag with cornflakes and shake to coat. Once coated, transfer tenders to a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Source: Cats and Casseroles original recipe

Friday, August 5, 2011

Garden Marinara Sauce

I'm embroiled in a full-scale war with a very fat, very diabolical groundhog who's been snacking on my garden tomatoes. Because of this, I've been picking the tomatoes off the vine as soon as they turn a bit red and letting them ripen inside the house, where they are safe from overgrown, furry yard rats. This situation left me with a bunch of tomatoes that ripened at the same time and had to be used right away. So I decided to make marinara sauce with them. I read in a book that keeping the skin on the tomatoes adds nutrients to the sauce. I don't know if that's true, but it did save me the step of blanching and peeling the tomatoes. Instead, I threw them into the food processor and pulverized them. Easy, peasy. To preserve this sauce for later, I poured it into 1-quart freeze-safe jars. It will last for a year in the freezer, and it's so much easier than canning.


8 large garden tomatoes
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
15 leaves basil, torn
1/4 c. Italian leaf parsley, chopped
2 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Wash tomatoes, scrubbing off any dirt, and pat dry. Core to remove stems and slice in half.

2. Place tomatoes in a food processor (or use a blender). Pulse until the consistency is what you desire. Depending on the size of your processor, this step might need to be done in batches. Also, don't worry if your tomato puree is on the pink side (mine looked like watermelon juice). The sauce will get red as it's cooked down.

3. Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Pour in tomato puree. Add basil, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper. Allow to simmer, uncovered, until sauce cooks down to desired thickness. I simmered mine for about 40 minutes. I left my sauce a bit watery, knowing I would cook it down further when I used it later. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool down. When sauce is no longer hot, pour through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any seeds. Transfer sauce to freezer jars, leaving 1/2 inch of the jar empty to allow for expansion. Keep in freezer for up to 6 months. Makes about 2 quarts.

Source: Cats and Casseroles original recipe

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Icebox Cake

Recently, I've become enchanted with everything 1950s. So it's no surprise I'd want to try making an icebox cake. I just find the term "icebox" to be so quaint; it immediately puts good feelings in my mind. The problem became tracking down a recipe. These cakes have gone out of style and the recipes seemingly buried. I decided to create my own recipe, and this Chocolate Peppermint Icebox Cake was born.

This recipe combines a peppermint whipped cream with chocolate wafer cookies. That's never a bad thing. Think mint oreo. It's also incredibly quick to make. It does require a few hours in the "icebox" before serving, so it involves a bit of planning ahead, but there's nothing more complicated to it than that. Easy as it is to make, this dessert also has the potential to impress. When you cut into this cake and reveal all those beautiful looking layers, it makes quite a statement. For an added touch, I crumbled a couple of wafer cookies on top and garnished the rim with some peppermint candies.


2 9oz package chocolate wafers
3 c. heavy whipping cream
3/4 c. powdered sugar
3 tsp. peppermint extract
peppermint candies for garnishing (optional)

1. In the absolute largest bowl you own, whip together the cream, powdered sugar, and peppermint extract. Start on a low speed and increase incrementally.

2. Assemble the cake in a 9 inch springform pan. Start with a layer of chocolate wafers, overlapping them to cover the bottom. Spread a layer of the mint whipped cream on top. Repeat until you have four layers of each, ending with whipped cream. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Allow it to chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Right before serving, garnish with crushed up wafers and peppermint candies.

Source: Cats and Casseroles original recipe

Monday, August 1, 2011

Blueberry Muffins

The classic blueberry muffin. I tried several different muffin recipes before settling on this one. What I love about this recipe is that it doesn't over complicate things. I wasn't interested in strudel topping, or creamy centers. In the morning, my stomach can't handle much richness. These muffins take fresh blueberries, which burst in your mouth with each bite, and package them in a moist cake. It's wonderful. It's breakfast. These are a great start to the day.


1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 c. blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

3. In medium bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar milk and egg.

4. Incorporate wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into a muffin pan lined with paper liners. Bake in preheated oven for 22-27 minutes. Muffins are done when toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack. Makes 12 muffins.

Source: Epicurious