food, Thanksgiving, Weekend Cooking

Thanksgiving Menu 2014

Courtesy of PicMonkey
Courtesy of PicMonkey

This morning, I woke up thinking about my Thanksgiving menu. After scouring the internet and looking at Amanda’s post for inspiration, I have a rough idea on what I’m going to serve.

Thanksgiving Menu 2014

Main Dish
Ham with Cloves and Pineapples and Cornbread Dressing

String Beans

Side Dishes
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy (for those that don’t eat mac and cheese)
Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon (for those that don’t eat mashed potatoes)
Cranberry Sauce

Dinner Rolls

Cinnamon Sour Cream Pound Cake
Pumpkin Pie (Care will be proud of me. I’ve never had pie before. It’s the texture guys.)


I have no idea

What are you making for Thanksgiving?

cookbooks, Cooking, Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: Donuts!!

14618917My son, Oliver, begged me for weeks to make donuts. We’ve made cookies, cakes, and even cinnamon rolls before but never donuts. Last weekend, I reluctantly agreed. Oliver downloaded a sample of Jessica Segarra’s Mini Donuts: 100 Bite-Sized Donut Recipes to Sweeten Your “Hole” Day and went to work. Even though he’s only ten, he refused to let me help him. These donuts are so good, I couldn’t help but say “oh my God,” when I took my first bite.

Glazed Fried Mini Donut

            Yields 26 Mini Donuts and 26 Mini Donut Holes or 14 regular-sized donuts

Prep Time: 2 ½ hours  Cook time: 2-5 minutes

For Donuts

2 tablespoons warm water

1.25-ounce envelope fast-rise yeast

¾ cup warm whole milk

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 large egg

3 tablespoons shortening or lard

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil or peanut oil for frying

For Glaze

2 tablespoons whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl if you are going to knead the dough by hand), mix together warm water and yeast and let stand for 5 minutes.

2. Add milk, sugar, salt, egg, shortening, and 1 cup of flour. Mix on medium-low for 2 minutes, then switch to the dough hook. Slowly add the remaining 1 ½ cup of flour, ½ cup at a time. Once you have added all the flour, knead on medium for 2-3 minutes, until dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Turn up the speed to medium-high, and continue to knead dough for 3-4 minutes, until dough is smooth. [Keep some extra flour on hand in case you need it like we did.]

3. Transfer dough to a greased bowl, and cover with a slightly damp tea towel. Place bowl in a warm area (or in an oven preheated to 200˚F and then turn off) for about 1 hour. Dough is ready when it has doubled in size.

4. Transfer raised dough to a lightly floured surface, and carefully roll out until it is ½” thick. Cut out donuts with a floured 2” biscuit cutter, and then cut out the center of each donut with a floured 1” biscuit cutter.

5. Place donuts and donut holes on a lightly floured cookie sheet, and cover again with a slightly damp tea towel. Place in a warm area (or in an oven preheated to 200˚F and then turned off) for about 1 hour. Dough is ready when it has doubled in size.

6. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet or a deep fryer to 350˚F.

7. Once oil is hot, working with 4 to 6 donuts at a time, carefully drop donuts into oil. Fry for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown; flip each donut and fry the other side.

8. Remove and drain on a plate lined with paper towel or newspaper. Continue this process until each donut has been fried.

9. Place wax paper under a wire rack to collect any drippings for any easy cleanup. Then, in a small bowl, whisk together milk and vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar, whisking until smooth.

10. While the donuts are still warm, dip the top of each donut and donut hole into the glaze, transfer to a wire rack, and let set for 5 minutes. Serve immediately; donuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days but are best served fresh.

Note: Oliver didn’t like it the glaze, so we ended up dipping the warm donuts into cinnamon and sugar. We used 1 stick of melted butter, ½ cup of sugar and 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon, dipping the donuts into the butter than the cinnamon and sugar mixture. We used a mason jar top to cut the donuts out and the tip of a piping bag (you know, the ones used for icing cakes) to make the donut holes.

Cooking, Weekend Cooking

Spotlight on 1,000 Easy Recipes

weekend cookingWeekend Cooking is a weekly meme hosted by Candace over at Beth Fish Reads. Have a food-related posted this week, why not join the fun?

Food Network Magazine’s 1,000 Easy Recipes, is one of my kids’ favorite cookbooks. It is a book that has been checked out many times over the past year by each of the kids. I’ve even started going through the book to try various recipes.

1,000 Easy Recipes really is 1,000 easy recipes. There are recipes for breakfast, appetizers, main dishes, and even drinks. In the beginning of the book, readers can find suggested menus for a variety of occasions. The one thing that’s really different about this cookbook compared to other cookbooks is that the recipes are in paragraphs instead of being in list format. But every recipe is pretty short, which is a great way to make sure each recipe stays easy. I like this paragraph format, but I know a lot of people don’t. The format also makes it easy for beginner cooks like kids to follow and execute a recipe. None of the recipes include a list of ingredients but the recipe is a paragraph, so I found it pretty easy to just scan the recipe to find out what I needed. So here’s an example of one of the recipes:

Buttermilk Pancakes

Whisk 1 ½ cups flour with 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ½ teaspoon each baking soda and salt. Whisk 1 ¼ cups buttermilk, ½ stick melted butter, 2 eggs and a little vanilla, then whisk into the flour mixture. Cook by ¼ cupfuls in a hot buttered skillet until bubbly, then flip and cook until golden.

That’s what a typical recipe looks like. I tried this recipe and it was a success. My youngest doesn’t usually eat pancakes but he ate three of them.  When it comes to the vanilla, I added as much as I wanted (which was a lot).  I plan on trying more recipes from this book.

What do you think of this cookbook’s format? Would it bother you?


food networkFood Network Magazine’s 1000 Easy Recipes: Super Fun Food for Every Day

393 pages

Published in March 2012 by Hyperion

Source: Public Library

Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: Cinnamon-Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Weekend Cooking is a weekly foodie meme hosted by Candace over at Beth Fish Reads. You don’t have to save your post for the weekend, but I like to!

Today, one of my best friends from high school is coming over with her two girls. Over the years we’ve lost and got in touch many times but our children have never seen each other. So today’s the day. The younger kids will probably hit it off but since our older kids are pretty shy, I think getting them to make this coffee cake together will help break the ice.

This coffee cake is one more excellent recipe from the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith Day. I’ve already shared the Cinnamon-Sugar-Doughnut Muffins in an earlier Weekend Cooking post. The cake is light and moist and will leave you wishing that you made two. Maybe I’ll make two this time!

Cinnamon-Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients for the Streusel

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

For the Cake

2 ½ cups cake flour (not self-rising)

2 teaspoons baking powder, preferably aluminum-free

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups sour cream

For the Glaze

¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons water

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350◦F. Spray a 10-inch tube pan with vegetable oil spray and line the bottom with a ring of parchment.

To make the streusel: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and pecans, if using. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the crumbs are the size of peas. Put the topping in a covered container and set in the freezer while you mix the cake batter.

To make the cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer), cream the butter and granulated sugar for 4 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix just until blended.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in thirds to the butter mixture, mixing until just combines and no streaks of flour are visible; scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Scrape half the batter into the prepared tube pan and spread it evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle with ¾ cup of streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly, and top with the remaining streusel.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

While the cake cools, make the glaze: Mix the confectioners’ sugar, honey, and 2 tablespoons of water together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Turn the cake out of the pan, then invert onto a serving plate, with the streusel side up. Use a fork to drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

cookbooks, Cooking, Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: Cinnamon-Sugar-Doughnut Muffins

Weekend Cooking is a weekly foodie meme hosted by Candace over at Beth Fish Reads.

Ever since I bought The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, I’ve been paging through it trying to figure out which recipe to try first. There are recipes such as the Pecan-Chocolate Coffee Cake, the Ham and Cheese Pastry Puff, and the classic Carrot Cake with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting. They all look delicious but I decided to try the Cinnamon-Sugar-Doughnut Muffins.

Cinnamon-Sugar-Doughnut Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

For the Muffins:

  • 3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs

For the doughnut coating

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

To make the muffins: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350◦F. Lightly spray 12 large muffin cups with vegetable oil spray.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cardamom. In a medium bowl, combine the milk and buttermilk.

In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, cream the butter for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the speed to low and gradually add the sugar. Continue to mix until the mixture lightens in color. Add the eggs one at a time, beating just until combined. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the milk mixture, mixing just until smooth; do not overmix.

With a large ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them approximately two-thirds full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are firm to the touch and lightly golden.

While the muffins bake, set up two bowls to dunk them in. In one bowl you will have the melted butter, and in the other bowl you will have the cinnamon sugar.

Let the doughnuts cool completely on a wire rack. Dunk them in the melted butter, and then coat them with the cinnamon sugar. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Note: I don’t have the print version of the cookbook, just the ebook so this was my first time trying a recipe on my Nook. I found cooking using my ereader to be a little messy. There’s one thing to get sugar on a printed cookbook but it’s another to get it on an ereader. I wish I could have printed the page, (Barnes and Nobles, are you listening?), but I will use my Nook again to make more recipes.

What the cookbook didn’t tell me is that it took more than an hour to make the muffins from start to finish. I didn’t mind but if I had known, I would have made them first thing that morning. Part of the problem is I didn’t keep in mind that my muffin cups are huge! They’re twice the size of regular muffins cups. So it took about 15 minutes longer to bake. Plus, I’m not use to making things from scratch so I didn’t know that putting everything together would take so long (about 20 minutes).

The muffins were moist and perfect. They were cakey and the cinnamon-sugar coating was a great touch. I made the muffins with the help of the kids and it turned out to be a nice kid-friendly recipe to try. Sorry that I don’t have any pictures to show you all. The muffins were too good to stop and take a picture of. Just imagine a muffin with tons of cinnamon and sugar!

Now I can’t wait to try the cookbook’s recipe for Cinnamon-Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

What are you making this weekend?

cookbooks, Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: Spotlighting The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme hosted by Candace over at Beth Fish Reads. Have a food-related posted this week, why not join the fun?

One of my goals for this year is to cook something with my daughter every week. She’s ten and has decided that she wants to be a chef when she’s older. So each week, we’ve been in the kitchen fixing some of our favorite meals together.

I recently found out about The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl and Griffith Day. I love looking through cookbooks but I love cookbooks that focus on sweets more, so I was pretty interested. The book is expensive and my library doesn’t have a copy, so I decided to wait before I bought it. My waiting paid off because the cookbook was featured as a Nook Find just a few days ago. I hurried and bought a copy.

I’ve been reading the cookbook and there are many recipes that I want to try like the Cinnamon-Sour Cream Coffee. Or maybe I’ll try the couple’s Ham and Cheese Pastry Puffs. What I really like is that in the beginning of the book, the authors explain the importance of temperature and gives readers a list of the spices used throughout the book. Readers can easily go from one recipe to the next without worrying if a certain spice is in stock. Another great thing about this cookbook is that a picture is included with each recipe. I hate trying to figure out whether or not my creation looks like it’s supposed to.

Have you discovered any new cookbooks this week?


children's books, cookbooks, Cooking, nonfiction, reviews, Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: Books for Young Foodies

Weekend Cooking is a meme hosted by Candace at Beth Fish Reads. Anyone with a food-related post can join.

My kids love books about food. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cookbook or a picture book, so lately we’ve been going out of our way to find more books with kid foodies in mind. It’s been a little hard finding fiction with recipes for kids but what we’ve found so far has been pretty good.


Written by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

Illustrated by Janet Stevens

48 pages

Published in 2005 by Voyager Books

Source: Library

Big Brown Rooster is tired of eating chicken feed all day, every day. As the great-grandson of the famous Little Red Hen, he decides enough is enough. If the stories are right and Little Red Hen was as great a cook as people say, then he can cook too. With the help of a few friends, Rooster decides to try and make his great-grandma’s strawberry shortcake. But will the shortcake turns out the way it’s supposed to?

What I really like about this book is that the authors illustrate beautifully that not everything you make will turn out well but the key is to keep trying until you get it right. Kids will laugh at the animals as they try to figure out Great Grandma’s instructions while learning how to measure, sift flour, and other things.  Included at the end of the picture book is the recipe the characters use. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Pizza: How to Make and Bake More Than 50 Delicious Homemade Pizza

Written by Carla Bardi

128 pages

Published in 2011 by Reader’s Digest

Source: Library

If I were to describe Pizza, I would say “cute”. The book is shaped like a pizza. Bardi includes recipes for making pizza dough from scratch including whole-wheat and gluten-free dough. There are plenty of pictures for step-by-step instructions for the dough and for the various types of pizza the author included. As a mom with three picky eaters, there aren’t many recipes in this book that I could make and my kids would eat.  These aren’t your typical pizza recipes instead there’s eggplant pizza, bell pepper pizza, and even pizza with apple and Gorgonzola. There’s nothing wrong with the recipes but this isn’t a book I can really use. I’m still recommending it for those with a more “sophisticated” palate. My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Easy as Pie

Written by Cari Best

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

48 pages

Published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Source: Library

Jacob loves watching his favorite TV chef, Chef Monty, makes his famous recipes. When Jacob decides to make a peach pie, it’s a good thing he remembers all of Monty’s rules about cooking. There are a few mistakes and setbacks but Jacob’s determined to make his pie.

I thought this was a lovely book about making a goal and seeing it through until the end. With illustrations by Melissa Sweet, (A River of Words and Carmine), Easy as Pie is a book that will leave young foodies hungry for more. My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Have you read any of these? Are there any books you would recommend for young foodies?

Cooking, nonfiction, Weekend Cooking

Review: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

What the World Eats

Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio

160 pages

Pub Year: 2008

Publisher: Tricycle Press

Source: Public Library

In What the World Eats, Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio travel around the world to learn what families from other countries eat in a week. Technology has advanced to the point where most countries can get out-of-season produce whenever they want and brands that are popular in one culture are just as popular in another. With such an abundance of food being produce you would think that world hunger would no longer be an issue but it still is. To make matters worst there are more overfed people in the world than those underfed. By traveling the world to new-to-them countries and those they have visited years ago, the authors observe how mealtime is changing.

What the World Eats was such an unexpected delight. It’s adapted from another book the authors wrote, Hungry Planet: What the Worlds Eats, and fitted for a younger audience. Don’t let that stop you from reading this though. This is a book that adults and children can enjoy. The authors give facts about the 21 countries they visited, stories about the families, and pictures to illustrate exactly how much a family eats. The amount of money each family spends in a week on food is broken down by category. This isn’t a definitive guide just at glance at other countries.

I found the book fascinating and my family did too. Once you look at one picture, you want to know more and the authors did a great job keeping readers curious and turning pages. It was so interesting to compare what a family in rural China eats to a family in urban China or to see the profiles of families living in different parts of the United States.

When you lay out exactly a family eats weekly, you can’t help but start to think about what your own family eats too. Right after I finished this book I had to go to the grocery store. I couldn’t help but think about all the processed foods that I saw throughout the book. There were so many things that I usually buy but I didn’t this past grocery trip. That’s part of the magic of this book.

What the World Eats is a great addition to anyone’s personal library. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

children's books, cookbooks, Library Loot, meme., Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking: The Library Loot Edition

Today I’m combining two of my favorite memes together: Weekend Cooking and Library Loot to share a few cooking-related books that I recently checked out from the library. Both books were on the “new books” shelf at the library and I hurried to grab them just in case someone else decided to!

Crazy about Cookies

Krystina Castella

Sterling Publishing

304 pages

Don’t you just love this cover! My daughter and I have been going back and forth searching through the book’s 300 recipes to figure out which cookie to make first. I’m torn between the Sugar-Free Carob Oatmeal Clusters or Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies while my daughter is thinking about Explosion Cookies which are cookies that look like comic book captions. If you ever see this book at your library or bookstore, at the very least just glance through it. The pictures are beautiful.

Ugly Pie

Written by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Heather Solomon

Harcourt Children’s Books

32 pages

I love picture books that feature food and Ugly Pie is no exception. Ol’ Bear has a craving for ugly pie but has only one ingredient. So he goes around his neighborhood to see has anyone else made the pie that he’s craving. When he sees that his neighbor has made everything but ugly pie, Ol’ Bear knows it’s time to make it himself. It’s a really cute book. The bonus is that it includes the recipe for ugly pie which is an apple pie with red raisins and walnuts. My family doesn’t really eat pie but I’m still going to give the recipe a try.

Have you read any food-related books lately? What does your library loot look like?