Sunday, January 30, 2011


Scott Peacock's ideal pecan rolls
Okay all you dieters.  This one is NOT for you!  Save it for a special treat day.  You know I like to make treats more healthful and, if possible, lower in fat and sugar.  But there isn't much that can be done with sticky buns.  Just suck it up and enjoy these.  Share them so you won't eat them all.  Eat them slowly -- very, very slowly -- and enjoy every single bite.  They are so, so good.

These sticky buns have more yeast than I usually like to work with.  My preference is for slow-rise yeast dough that cures in the fridge for several days and uses a minimal amount of yeast.  That being said, this is an excellent recipe that produces light and flavorful buns with wonderful caramel flavor.  And there is some curing of dough, even if it’s only overnight.  I halved the recipe to fill just one 8” cake pan (6 rolls), because I was testing the recipe.  If I make these again, I’ll make the full batch of 12 rolls and bake them in a 9x12 pan.   
I have made a number of changes to the recipe, some of which simplified it and others were just personal preference.  Scott mixes the dough in a stand mixer, but since I halved the recipe, it was easy to make the dough in my food processor.    This is a recipe I would use again, because everyone loved these rolls. Scott Peacock's ideal pecan rolls (3)
Scott Peacock’s Ideal Pecan Rolls, adapted
Source:  Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, March 2010
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
DOUGH:  6 Tbsp. milk
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut up
2 Tbsp. lite sour cream (Scott uses crème fraiche
2 Tbsp. warm water
1/2 pkg. active dry yeast
1 large egg
2-1/4 cups bread flour, divided use
2 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt

In small pot, or in microwaveable bowl, heat the milk till steamy.  Add the butter to the milk; stir till melted.  Stir in sour cream and let cool.

In the meantime, in work bowl of food processor, stir together warm water and yeast.  Let stand 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, add the sour cream mixture, egg, 3/4 cup of flour, sugar and salt to the work bowl; pulse till smooth and well combined.  Add remaining 1-1/2 cups flour and pulse till sticky dough forms.  Turn out onto floured board; let rest 10 minutes, then knead lightly, just till smooth.  Dough should be slightly sticky.  Place in greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly coated with softened butter, then cover bowl with a second piece of plastic wrap.   Refrigerate overnight to develop flavor.

Next day, transfer dough to a warm place until double in size, about 2 hours, or longer depending on room temperature.  Don’t be in a hurry, because slow rising develops  better flavor.  While dough is rising, make the sticky topping and prepare the filling (both recipes below).

Butter sides of an 8” cake pan or pie plate.  Spread topping in pan; spread evenly with spatula.  Scatter pecan halves over butter-sugar mixture.   Roll out dough to a 9x15 rectangle.  Spread with the 2 Tbsp. melted butter from the filling recipe.  Sprinkle the dough with the sugars and cinnamon, then with the chopped nuts.  Tightly roll the dough beginning at one short side, keeping the roll as uniform as possible.  Pinch the edges to seal the roll.  Cut into six even portions, about 1-1/2” in width each, using a serrated knife.  Arrange rolls over the sticky topping, then press gently so they will rise down and out as well as up.  Cover dish loosely with buttered plastic wrap and let rolls rise until fully doubled (about 60 minutes).  Heat oven to 375F.  Uncover and bake rolls about 30-35 minutes.  Cover with foil if rolls are browning too fast.  Cool on rack 5 minutes, then invert onto serving platter.  (If made ahead, reheat, uncovered, 15-20 minutes at 350F.

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) soft butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. dark corn syrup, honey or maple syrup
1-1/2 Tbsp. water or orange juice
1/2 cup toasted pecan halves

In medium bowl, stir together butter, sugar and syrup till well combined.  Stir in water.  Spread in bottom of pan; top with pecans.

2 Tbsp. each, white and brown sugars
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, melted 
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans, or chopped dates or raisins

Combine sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Reserve butter and pecans for top of rolled-out dough.

(You might also want to check out my Maple-Walnut Sticky Buns and Honey Sticky Buns.)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


It was just four short years ago that my hubby and I built our downsized home, and I had the joy of planning a new kitchen.  Of course, there's never enough time, and decisions are always made too quickly and sometimes later regretted.  All in all, our regrets are few and we are happy with the final results.  But invariably in situations like this I come face to face with my schizophrenia.  Part of me is traditional and part is modern.  Which part to listen to?

When it came time to pick seating for our center island, I was thinking modern.  I love the sleek design and efficiency of modern bar stools.  Just check out the sexiness of this beauty:

And what about this great design:

I love retro stools, too, like this one:

Actually, I love all modern furniture.  Modern furniture is minimalistic, while traditional furniture can be very high maintenance.  So the practical side of me wants to go modern.  I would not have as much to clean and care for. This makes so much sense.  But the emotional side of me loves the history of traditional furniture -- the stories behind each antique and cherished older piece.  First I lean one way, and then the other, and I feel so torn.

This time, again, traditional won out.  But there's always a next time.....

Saturday, January 22, 2011


My hubby's at it again -- competing for kitchen space.  He whipped up a 5-1/2 lb. Boston Butt complete with  barbecue sauce and knocked all our socks off.  He found recipes for the pulled pork, the rub and the barbecue sauce on, and tweaked the recipes just a bit.  

Looking for something to make for a Super Bowl Party, or for a crowd?  This is it.  A real people-pleasing recipe, and so doable at home.  Get the recipe for Guy's East Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue and Pepper. Sauce

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


banana cake with chocolate frosting (2)
A banana cake without nuts?  It didn’t sound right, but readers gave it a 4-1/2 star rating.  Of course, theirs was topped with cream cheese frosting, and my hubby prefers chocolate frosting.  I had to put some nuts somewhere, so I sprinkled them on top. 

The banana flavor is mild, but the cake is moist and tender, and everyone seemed to really like it.  (It won’t replace my top two faves:  Ultimate Banana Cake and One-Bowl Banana Nut Cake.  Ultimate Banana Cake goes right from the oven into the freezer for 45 minutes, and the texture and flavor of this cake really are the ultimate.  One-Bowl Banana Nut Cake is a tried and true Pillsbury recipe from way back that never fails to please.) But if you like banana cake without nuts, then Simple Banana Cake is for you.   And, of course, go ahead and frost it any way you like.
banana cake with chocolate frosting
Simple Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Banana Cake II
Rating:  8 out of 10
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 3/4 cup white whole wheat + 1-3/4 cup unbleached AP)
1/2 tsp. salt (I used sea salt)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup butter (I used 1/2 cup Smart Balance butter blend + 1/4 cup Land o’ Lakes)
1-1/4 cups sugar (I used 1 cup sugar + 1 Tbsp. NuNaturals Stevia)
3 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (I used homemade)
1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium)
3/4 cup buttermilk or sour milk (sour milk = 3/4 cup milk + 2 tsp. cider vinegar)

Heat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9x13” pan and line with two sheets of wax paper cut to fit the bottom. 

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Set aside. 

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy, using medium speed of mixer.  Beat in eggs and vanilla till smooth.  Stir in bananas. 

Add 1/3 cup of dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Stir in till almost incorporated.  Add 1/2 of buttermilk, stirring till almost smooth.  Repeat, ending with flour mixture.    Pour batter, which will be thick,  into  pan.  Bake about 30 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs.    Cool cake in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack.  Remove wax paper and let cake cool thoroughly before icing.

Cocoa Frosting
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted and partially cooled
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. coffee essence (equal parts of instant coffee granules & Kahlua or hot coffee)
2-4 Tbsp. heavy cream

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients.  Beat till smooth and creamy, using medium speed and gradually increasing speed to high.  Frost cake.  Garnish with toasted chopped walnuts, if desired.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


CC Pecan Streusel Sour Cream Muffins (4)
I never tire of muffins, my go-to dessert.  I can reduce the fat and sugar, use whole grain flours to bump up the nutrition and have tons of ways to vary the flavors.  If I have a chocolate attack, a muffin with chocolate chips will satisfy it, and I can even reduce the amount of chocolate chips if I really want to be good.  And the bonus is that I don’t even have to get my big Kitchen Aid mixer out.  Muffins mix up quickly by hand, in just a few minutes.  No frosting to make either.  How great is that?

Take these muffins for instance.  I’ve used whole wheat flour for 1/3 of the total flour amount.  When you only use 1/3, you don’t even notice it.  The muffins are still light and fluffy.  I’ve also used 1/2 cup applesauce for most of the butter, though I did use 3 Tbsp. of butter to get that great butter flavor and tenderness.  I used light sour cream, only because I didn't have any nonfat Greek yogurt at the time.

These muffins are absolutely delicious – flavorful, moist and tender with a nice crunch from the pecans. 
CC Pecan Streusel Sour Cream Muffins
Chocolate Chip-Pecan Streusel Sour Cream Muffins
Rating:  9 out of 10
TOPPING:  2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/4 cup sugar (I subbed Stevia for part of the sugar)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

In small bowl, combine all topping ingredients with fork till well mixed.  Set aside.

MUFFIN:  1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1-1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, partially cooled
3/4 cup sugar (Again, I subbed Stevia for part of the sugar)
2 large eggs
1 cup light sour cream, or non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened, smooth applesauce

Heat oven to 425F.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin, or line with paper cups; set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Make a well for the liquids.

In medium bowl, whisk together melted and cooled butter, sugar and eggs.  Add sour cream (or yogurt), vanilla and applesauce and whisk again till smooth.  Add to dry ingredients all at once and stir with spoon or spatula till combined.  (Don’t overbeat – a few lumps are okay.)  Batter is thick and spongy. 

Spoon about 2 Tbsp. batter into each of the 12 cups.  Top with about 2 tsp. topping; repeat.  Place muffins in oven, close door and immediately reduce heat to 350F.    Bake 14-17 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted in center returns with just a few crumbs.  (If you happen to hit a chocolate chip, you’ll have to reinsert with a clean toothpick.)  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to finish cooling.  Yield:  12 muffins.
CC Pecan Streusel Sour Cream Muffins (2)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Save this recipe for a special occasion.  It's the most amazing dessert ever.

Pecans and caramel cover a gingersnap-graham cracker crust.  They fuse and become candy-like as the pie cooks.  The rich, sweet crust is the perfect counterpart to the not-too-sweet apple filling.  But there's also a cheesecake over top of the apples bringing back some of the richness.  Think that's enough?  No, not yet.  Sweetened whipped cream goes over it all, then the pie gets another hit of caramel and pecans.  Talk about decadent.
Get the recipe for Biltmore Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie.

Monday, January 10, 2011


If you have to blind-bake a pie crust, you want something that’s sturdy and won’t shrink much.  Use this recipe.  It’s also flaky and tender and tastes great.
Flaky Crisco Pie Crust
Rating:  10 out of 10
INGREDIENTS:  1-1/2 cups low-protein all-purpose flour, such as White Lily
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup Crisco vegetable shortening
4-6 Tbsp. ice water

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in small resealable sandwich bag.  Place in freezer 15 minutes.  Place Crisco in freezer on a dish.

In work bowl of a food processor, pour contents of sandwich bag.  Pulse to combine.  Cut Crisco into 5-6 pieces and add to work bowl.  Pulse till mixture is like wet sand.  Pour mixture into medium bowl.  Add 4 Tbsp. ice water and toss with fork till mixture comes together.  (Add remaining 2 Tbsp. water only if it is needed.  Add 1 tsp. at a time to get to proper dough consistency.)  Pat dough into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1/2 hour or up to overnight.  Use as little flour as possible when rolling dough out.  Yield:  1 single pie crust.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Three lucky readers will have the whole wheat pastry flour and organic high-fiber coconut flour to make these fabulous muffins, thanks to Bob's Red Mill.  The contest is over and has selected the three winners. They are:

#8  Melinda RD
#11 Toystory
#20 Suzanne

Please email me at with your US or Canadian addresses so I can have the prizes sent to you.  Congratulations to all of you and please let me know how your muffins turn out!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Beef Stew wbeer
It’s definitely soup and stew weather with bone-chilling temperatures outside, so I decided to try a recipe that’s been in my files for so long, I can’t remember when or where it came from.  My guess is Woman’s Day or Better Homes and Gardens.  Bonnie Estabrook, from Andover, Massachusetts, is the author of this recipe, and it sounded good to me, even though I wasn’t sure how much of it I would eat.   I try to limit my beef consumption, and my hubby is a carnivore.   So this one was for him.  I found a can of Yuengling’s Lager in the fridge, brought over by one of the Sunday afternoon armchair quarterbacks, and thought that would go well with the beef.
Beef Stew wbeer (2) I didn’t change much.  I thickened the stew with white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose.  Guy likes peas in his stew, so I added a package of frozen peas at the end of the cooking time.  I oven roasted some fingerlings and carrots and added them to the stew, also at the end of cooking time, and I sprinkled extra parsley on top of the stew.  Guy gave it two thumbs up, and I thought it was quite tasty.

Bonnie Estabrook’s Beef in Beer, adapted
Rating:  8 out of 10
1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter or Smart Balance buttery spread
1-1/2 lbs. lean chuck, trimmed of excess fat, cut into 1” cubes (I started with 3 lbs, and total weight after trimming was 1-1/2 lbs.)
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 cups sliced onions
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour 
6 oz. low-sodium beef or chicken broth
6 oz. beer or lager
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped + extra for sprinkling on top of stew
1 bay leaf
3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, peeled,  on wooden picks
1 package (10 oz.) frozen peas

In a large, heavy ovenproof pot, heat oil and butter over medium heat.   Brown meat in batches to avoid overcrowding.  Transfer meat to a bowl, using a slotted spoon.  Season with salt and pepper.  When all meat is browned, add onions to drippings in the pot; cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits, 3 to 5 minutes, or till onions begin to soften. 

Heat oven to 350F.  Return beef and any collected juices to  pot.  Sprinkle  with flour and stir to mix well.  Stir in broth, beer, sugar, 3 Tbsp. parsley, bay leaf, thyme sprigs and garlic.  Cover pot; bring to a boil; transfer pot to oven.  Bake about 2 hours, stirring once or twice, until meat is tender and sauce is thickened.  If desired, stir in 1 (10-oz.) package of frozen peas when stew is about done cooking.  Discard garlic and bay leaf.  Sprinkle with more chopped parsley.  Serve stew over boiled noodles or with boiled or oven-roasted potatoes and carrots. 
Crusty French bread is a nice accompaniment.  Yield:  4 servings

Friday, January 7, 2011


The clock is ticking, and you only have till midnight tonight to enter my giveaway.  Three lucky winners will each receive organic high-fiber coconut flour AND whole wheat pastry flour.  Click here for full details and to enter.