Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rainy day soup: Lemony spinach orzo soup with mushrooms

I love this soup! It is one of my favorite things to make on a rainy afternoon! Riley doesnt care for it much, as it does have a little kick to it, but Ryan and I can eat it for days! I first discovered this recipe here, and have slightly changed it up. And you can change it up too! Feel free to use fresh or frozen spinach, mushrooms or no mushrooms. I have made this using both fresh and frozen spinach and both have turned out great, but when you can do fresh it is always just a tad better! When I made it this afternoon, I used frozen organic spinach and I also realized I was all out of fresh parmesan cheese so I used this:
Its Irish cheese I picked up at Costco a few weeks ago...they were giving out samples and after one bite I just had to have a whole block of it! I know, I am nuts, but in place of parmesan, this did just fine! Which is awesome, since I have a whole bunch of it and I use Parmesan almost daily.
 Happy cooking! -Jess

Lemony Spinach & Orzo soup with Mushrooms

2 TBSP. olive oil
half of a medium sized red onion, or one small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 whole lemon, zest and juiced
1 tsp. Red pepper flakes (if you dont like things too spice, start with just 1/2 tsp.)
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 cups fresh or frozen Organic Spinach
1 1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta
6-7 cups Organic veggie broth
1/2-1 cup Organic baby bella mushrooms, sliced
2 TBSP. water
1 TBSP. corn starch
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese 

Heat olive oil in a large pot over low heat. Add onion and garlic, cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and thyme. Cook for about 5 minutes until onions are tender. turn heat up a tad and add spinach and orzo. When using frozen spinach you can just toss it right in with out thawing it out and all that, you will just add less water/veggie broth. Cook spinach and orzo for about 1 minute, add broth and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 7 minutes then add mushrooms and continue cooking for another 5-8 minutes, until orzo is barely tender. Whisk water and corn starch in small bowl. With soup on a light boil, whisk in cornstarch mixture and stir rapidly for about 3 minutes, allowing soup to thicken slightly. Stir in Parmesan and serve immediately. Garnish with extra cheese if desired. Enjoy! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Breakfast for dinner

Tonight I asked Ryan and Riley what they wanted for dinner, I was ready to make anything! They replied "pancakes and eggs! pancakes and eggs!" okay! So, in addition to my world famous pancakes and farm fresh eggs, I also made the pioneer woman's 'breakfast potatoes'...

man they are awesome! She makes them using lard, but since Riley and I are vegetarians and I am the primary cook, lard doesn't fly in my kitchen. :P Instead I used some extra veggie oil. Also, the recipe she provides on her website is slightly different from the one in her cook book, I followed the one in the book and baked the potatoes at 375F for 40minutes before I cut them up and all that. Anyway, check them out, they are awesome! Now I leave you with my fancy pancakes! Happy cooking!! -Jess

*baker's note: the batter for these pancakes can be prepared and refrigerated for a day or two, or if you have left over batter you can also store it in the fridge for a few days. 

Fancy Pancakes

1 1/2 cups Milk
4 TBSP Apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour(I use one cup whole wheat and one cup unbleached all-purpose flour)
4 TBSP. raw sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
4 TBSP. melted butter
Combine milk, cider and vanilla in medium bowl and set aside for 5 minutes until milk starts to curdle. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. whisk to combine. Add egg and butter to milk mixture and whisk until combined. Combine dry ingredients with wet and whisk until large lumps are gone. Preheat skillet or griddle lightly oil. When griddle is hot pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake and cook until bubbles appear. Recipe makes about 20 pancakes. -Enjoy! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring!: Dark chocolate & mousse Birthday cake!

Today is the first day of spring! And it is also Uncle Dale's Birthday! We celebrated last night and had this yummy pizza made by Auntie Cathy and Riley  

I contributed to the birthday festivities by making my awesome chocolate cake...its rich and moist and really the best effin' chocolate cake you will ever eat..EVER! You will love this cake, unless you hate which case I dont know why you are reading this blog and we just cant be friends... so make it for yourself or some chocolate lover! happy baking-Jess
Riley loves Chocolate cake and homemade ice cream!
Dark Chocolate Cake recipe

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's special dark cocoa)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 eggs
1 cup vanilla soy milk (or regular milk)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract (if you use regular milk, increase vanilla to 2 tsp.)
1 cup boiling water

Chocolate mousse filling:
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 TBSP. butter

For cake prepare two 9 inch cake pans and preheat oven to 350F (we are at a high altitude so I like to bake my cakes at 355F.) In a large mixing bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes until combined. Slowly stir in boiling water and stir until smooth. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes then carefully remove from pans and let cool completely on cake racks. 
While cake is cooling prepare Ganache by heating 1/2cup whipping cream in small sauce pan, let come to a boil without burning, remove from heat and slowly pour over cup of chips and stir in center slowly until all chocolate is melted, add butter and stir. let set at room temp stirring occasionally until cooled and thick(about 2 hours). you could also cover and place in fridge to cool faster. When ganache is ready (should be spreadable frosting consistency) and cakes are cooled, prepare mousse filling by combining all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. beat on low speed until combined, increase speed and beat until medium/stiff peaks.(will be like whipped cream). Assemble cake by topping one cake with mousse spread evenly, top with other cake and spread Ganache over entire cake, decorate with left over mousse. Enjoy!   

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day: Homemade Thin Mint Ice Cream & Fancy chocolate chip cookies

Last night we made some pretty awesome Thin-Mint ice cream using left over homemade-thin-mints that we made last week. In honor of St. Patrick's day I added some green food coloring, I only added a little so you cant really tell it is green in the pictures. oh well. I also had a craving for some fancy chocolate chip cookies...this is one of my favorite recipes that I developed last Christmas. They are pretty "healthy" and very yummy.

Naturally I used two cookies to make myself a "Thin-mint cookie sandwich"  I mean, I had cookies AND ice cream, how could you not expect me to do such a thing. :)  Now please enjoy the following recipes and the cute picture above of my Riley :) Happy Baking! -Jess

Thin-Mint Ice cream recipe:
*Bakers note: if you don't have fancy thin-mints you can just use chocolate chips and turn this into Mint Chip ice cream! :) 
2 cups Organic whole milk
1 cup sugar
2 cups Heavy cream
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp pure peppermint extract
6 thin-mint cookies, chopped

Combine milk and sugar in medium bowl and beat on low speed with hand mixer until sugar is dissolved. Stir in heavy cream, vanilla and peppermint. Turn on ice cream mixer and carefully pour mixture into freezer bowl. Mix for 20-25 minutes, about 5 minutes before ice cream is done mixing, pour in chopped cookies. Transfer to containers and let set in freezer for 2 hours before eating. 
Fancy Chocolate-Chip Cookie recipe:
1/2 cup Butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup Honey
1 Egg
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 cup Whole wheat flour
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. Flax seed meal
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup Dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar until smooth, add honey, egg and vanilla, mix well scraping sides of bowl if necessary. In a medium bowl sift together both flours, flax seed, baking powder, salt and baking soda. With mixer on low speed, slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in chips. Place bowl in freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F and line two baking sheets with Silicone pads or parchment paper. Remove dough from freezer and using small ice cream scoop (or cookie scooper) scoop dough onto cookie sheets. Bake for about 13 minutes.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Rainy day treats: homemade doughnuts

Riley likes doughnuts 

It's raining today. On rainy days like this there isn't much to do but BAKE! I decided not to bake today. I know, I was shocked too, but this time change thing has got me all confused and I have been really tired, more so then usual. Anyway I thought I would share with you one of my favorite things to make on a rainy day: doughnuts! They are pretty time consuming, so its prefect for a day when all you can really do is stay inside. I use this recipe from Lara Ferroni. Just click the name and it should take you right over to the recipe page. Its a great recipe. A little complex but perfect end results! You can be creative when glazing your doughnuts. Use caramel, powdered sugar, glazed or my favorite...Chocolate Glaze! Also once they are glazed you can top them with nuts! or sprinkles! my favorite is to top them with rainbow jimmy's! they are so fun!  Here is a recipe for my
  Fancy Chocolate Glaze 
5 Tbsp. Butter
2 cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup Hot Water
1 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Add butter and powdered sugar to medium bowl. Pour 1/3 cup boiling water over butter/ sugar mixture. Add vanilla. Melt chocolate in double boiler, add to glaze and mix until smooth. Glaze each doughnut and let set..Enjoy!
Happy Baking-Jess

Monday, March 12, 2012

Homemade Thin Mints

Now, as I proceed with the post of this recipe I am very aware that my mother-in-law will probably send an army after me for making these amazing thin mints she can not eat as she has an allergy to wheat, and eggs, and pretty much everything that is tasty ( I'm just teasing you momma M) anyway, let me put her mind at ease and say I am working on a Gluten-free/vegan version of this look for it in the near future.  :)
I have a confession, I have an addiction to girl scout cookies. Not all girl scout cookies, but you know those ones, the chocolate ones covered in chocolate with the minty flavor..yea, those ones. I can still remember the first time I had one, it was at my grandma's house. Growing up we spent our weekends at my granny's house and usually gobbled up ANY and ALL sweet snacks she had on hand. Anyway, thin mints made their way into my life at that time and it would be a few years before I encountered them once again. Once I moved out into adult world I would find myself buying four boxes when the time came, only to realize that this was not year I bought well over 10 boxes,  freezing them thinking they would last me until next season...I was wrong. Dont judge me! I didn't eat them all on my own! I often had people I would share with, I would give away a box here, a box there. I am a good person, I like to share :)  Anyway, after Riley was born I became more aware of food and what I was ACTUALLY eating. I started reading labels and driving my lovely Ryan crazy with my antics. Then it was that time of year and I realized I would be a hypocrite if I dared eat another thin mint! Still, I bought a box, cried, ate them, and cried some more. Palm oil or no palm oil, those things have a hold of me!!! I cant help it! I told Riley they were mommy's special cookies and she couldn't have any (I am horrible I know) Then last year, as I came to finishing my last box, (I believe I only bought 2) I ran across a recipe online for 'homemade Thin-Mints'. I'm not sure where I originally got the recipe, but I am so glad I did. Now the season is here once again and I fear that my lack of connection to the public has left me high and dry for more hydrogenated palm oil poisoned thin mints from those cute little girl scouts outside of wal-mart. We went into town yesterday and I did not see one scout :(  my heart hurt a little. Did I really miss out on them this year!? I guess its better this way. And maybe next year the whole cookie controversy will be over and I wont feel so bad about eating them.
Okay, enough rambeling, here is a recipe for some very fancy thin mints. They really are a fancy version, still the soft yet crunchy cookie and lovely mintyness. They taste even better when frozen. I plan on crushing some up and making my very own "Thin-mint ice cream" so stay tuned!
**Baker be warned, these cookies are very time consuming and very addicting and you probably wont want to share them after you spend so much time making them, and I wont blame you :)

Fancy Homemade Thin Mints

1 cup Butter, soft
3/4 cups Sugar
1 Large Egg
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Pure Peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups Unbleached All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup good quality Unsweetened Cocoa powder
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. kosher Salt
Chocolate coating
8-10oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate, Chopped
1 tsp. Canola Oil (you could also use Vegetable or Safflower oil)

In bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and peppermint and mix until light and fluffy. In medium bowl sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add to mixer and beat until combined. Form dough into two logs using parchment or wax paper (i ran out of wax paper after the first log and just used plastic wrap) Freeze logs for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F. I like to line my cookie sheets with Silpat's but there is enough butter in these cookies that it is not required.
 Remove logs from freezer, unwrap and slice cookies into 1/4 inch rounds. Place on cookie sheets and bake for about 14 minutes. Cookie will be slightly puffed in center. Remove and let cool completely. Once cooled, melt chocolate and oil in double boiler, you can also add a splash of peppermint extract to chocolate for extra mintyness. :)  *Now coat each cookie one at a time and let set on wax paper until dried. I recommend letting cookies set completely and then placing them in airtight container and storing in freezer.  This recipe will yield about 58 cookies.
*Things will get messy if you are not careful, but the end result is delicious! 
These cookies are Riley approved.

Friday, March 9, 2012


I love lemons...something about a big bowl of lemons just makes me happy. I try to always have some on hand and this usually results in me making my awesome "so, so yummy lemon loaf"! This is one of Riley's favorites as she pretty much named it by saying it was "so, so yummy!"  I have said before that this lemon loaf puts my chocolate cake to shame (aside from lemons, chocolate has a hold of my heart) I know, I know, you cant compare lemons to chocolate, but what I am simply saying is that if I had to choose I JUST MIGHT choose the lemon loaf :O   (did i just type that?!) oh well, make it for yourself and you be the judge...its buttery, zesty, sweet and moist! so yummy!

So so Yummy Lemon Loaf 

1 cup organic whole milk
1 tsp. vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup butter, soft
1 cup sugar
1 whole egg (large)
zest of lemon + 1 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup unbleached All-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/3 cup powdered sugar
3 TBSP. Lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F and grease loaf pan. Combine milk and vinegar in measuring cup, set aside. 
In bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add eggs and mix until combined. Add zest, tsp. lemon juice and vanilla, mix until just combined. 
In a medium bowl sift together flour, salt and baking powder. With mixer on low add dry ingredients and milk alternately into butter mixture. beat for about 1 minute until well combined. 
pour evenly into prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Loaf will be slightly golden. be sure not to over bake or your loaf will not be so, so yummy and moist.
Remove from oven and let cool. Meanwhile combine powdered sugar and lemon juice, whisk until glaze is smooth. pour glaze over cooled lemon loaf..enjoy with a nice cup of Earl Grey :)   

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Awesome Skillet Cookie

I have recentily become obsessed with pinterest. Which is how i came across this awesome skillet cookie recipe By Molly..hi molly! Her recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate, but i used some Hershey's special dark chocolate chips I found at the market during the holidays and had hidden in my freezer..they worked perfectly with the whole wheat cookie! This cookie has a very nutty taste. I suppose you could also use All-purpose flour, but I just dont think it would taste as magical. Ryan told me I should make one every week!
Riley and I had also made strawberry ice cream the same day and when paired together it was like eating chocolate covered strawberries! mmmmmmmmmm, i am drooling just thinking about it. I dont have any pictures of the ice cream but i will share the recipe with you, as for the skillet cookie, you can head over to molly's blog and check it out. Definantly something to put on your 'to-do list' enjoy!

Fresh Strawberry ice cream
note: this recipe was intended for a 2 quart ice cream mixer and will yield about 7 full cup servings.

Ingredients :
3 cups fresh ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced
4 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cups organic sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups organic whole milk
2 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp good quality vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine strawberries, lemon juice and 1/2 cup of sugar. Stir gently until sugar is mostly dissolved, then allow strawberries to sit in juice for 2 hours. 
Strain the berries, reserving juices. Puree HALF the berries. 
In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and remaining sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in heavy cream, reserved strawberry juice, strawberry puree and vanilla. Turn on ice cream mixer and pour mixture into freezer bowl, let thicken, usually about 20-25minutes, about five minutes before mixing is complete add reserved sliced strawberries and let finish mixing. transfer to container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove and enjoy over a slice of Skillet cookie! :D yum! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Welcome....Strawberry Breakfast Biscuit Cake

Hi! This is my blog, I have no idea what I am doing so please, bare with me, and be nice. :)  I have been talking (to myself mostly) about this for months. I wanted to have a way to archive my recipes and also share them with my friends and family who i often drive nuts with pictures of fancy treats on Facebook. So I dont really know what this little blog will turn into but for now I will share this fancy recipe with you... I was originally inspired by this recipe which I made and very much recommend you do too! I LOVE buttermilk biscuits and often slather mine with strawberry jam, so i thought...why not cover this biscuit cake with some jam! Enjoy! -Jess

Strawberry Breakfast Biscuit Cake
ingredients for cake:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, chilled
2/3 cup Buttermilk, cold
1 to 1 1/2 tsp Raw sugar
1/3 cup organic Strawberry Jam

for Cream Cheese Drizzle:
3oz. Cream cheese, room temp
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 cup Powdered sugar, plus 2 TBSP for dusting
1 TBSP milk

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 8x8 baking pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in medium bowl. Cut in shortening using a pastry blender (or fingers) until coarse crumbs form. Add buttermilk and mix with rubber spatula (or hands!) until combined. Dough should be moist but not sticky. place dough into pan and use fingers to spread dough to edges of pan. Sprinkle raw sugar evenly over dough then make three horizontal slits in dough, spread jam evenly in each slit. Bake on middle rack for 15-18 minutes, biscuit will be lightly brown. remove from oven and let cool slightly for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat together cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar and vanilla until soft and fluffy, add milk and beat until smooth about 2 minutes. Dust powdered sugar over biscuit then  Transfer cream cheese drizzle to pipping bag and drizzle over warm cake. serve warm...Enjoy!