Saturday, May 29, 2010

Butterfinger Peanut Butter Chip Fudge Cookies

Think fudge brownies mixed with Butterfinger Candy Bar chunks and smooth, creamy Reese's Peanut Butter Chips. A cookie like this is much to sinful to enjoy. So don't. Enjoy three instead. That'll help the guilt, right? It seemed to help mine.

Is it me, or are my pants fitting a bit tighter?

Butterfinger Peanut Butter Chip Fudge Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened slightly

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 Nestle Butterfinger (2.1 ounce) candy bars, roughly chopped

1 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a mixer bowl beat butter, sugar and salt together. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine. Add cocoa powder and baking soda and mix. Add flour a cup at a time just until incorporated. On low speed mix in candy bar pieces and peanut butter chips.

3. Scoop with a standard (size 50) cookie scoop onto parchment 2 inches apart. Push back in any candy bar pieces sticking out of the sides.

4. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then move cookies to a cooling rack.

Recipe & photograph by Laura Flowers.

Printer version

Friday, May 28, 2010

Clara's Cold Lunch Corner Week 6

The hinge on Clara’s metal lunchbox broke last week. So I’ve had to (a bit nervously) resort to a free soft lunchbox from the “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” movie. A few years ago soft lunchboxes had a big problem with lead, so I still tend to stay away from them. Although, they’re probably safe by now.

It would be nice if the Laptop Lunch System came out with a nicely sized square box. We still use a standard metal lunch box for food thermoses, soups, and other bulky items. Clara’s new metal lunchbox should arrive shortly from Maybe then I can quietly dispose of that cute green bag when my daughter isn’t looking.

Currently, between running around like crazy and pulling my hair out, I’m reading Lunch Lessons, a book by one of my renegade food heroes. Chef Ann Cooper's really changed and influenced school lunches not only in Berkley, but slowly across our nation. Thankfully, her book gives us lunch packers information on cold lunches too. I highly recommend it if you’ve got children in school.

Week of May 24th-May 28st 2010.

I didn’t keep up on the lunch veggies very well this week. Hopefully, that’s ok this time as we enjoyed lots of spring vegetables in our family meals.

1. Laptop

Medium covered box- Mini bagel with ham.

Medium covered box- Grapes on the vine

Small covered- Annie’s White Cheddar Bunnies (cheese crackers)

Small covered- 4 Hershey’s Kisses

Tucked on the side- Cheese stick

Liquid Thermos- ½ Newman’s Own Limeade & ½ water

2. Laptop (Picture above)

Large uncovered box- Homemade flour tortilla wrap with ham & cheese, wrapped in plastic wrap. Apple slices in a sandwich bag. (Apples were soaked in lemon water and then rinsed in cold water.)

Small uncovered box- Mini pretzels

Small uncovered box- Raisins & chocolate covered peanuts

Liquid Thermos- ½ Newman’s Own Limeade & ½ water

3. Laptop

Medium covered box- Watermelon chunks

Small covered box- Pickle chunks

Small uncovered box- Trail mix

On the side- Snack bag with two homemade flour tortillas rolled up around cheese sticks.


4. Soft Lunchbox

Food thermos- French Spring Vegetable Soup

Small container- Pepperidge Farm Whole Grain Cheddar Goldfish Crackers

Medium container- Cherries

Wrapped in foil- 1 large carrot


5. Soft Lunchbox (Lunch plus snacks)

Large covered box- Ham & cheese sandwich with mustard sauce

Small covered container- Homemade three berry muffin

1 cheese stick

Snack bag- peanuts & raisins

Snack bag- Red, white & blue yogurt pretzels



Wednesday, May 26, 2010

French Spring Soup & Bruschetta al Salmoriglio

It was a drizzly wet beautifully green afternoon and soup full of spring's finest vegetables felt like the perfect evening meal. Jesse, Clara and I sat around the table and quietly enjoyed bowls of warm creamy comfort with crunchy lemony garlic toasts while watching rain run down the windows.

I know it might be wrong to pair a French soup with an Italian Bruschetta, but hopefully I’m far enough away no one will hunt me down and make me change my ways. All I can say is I’d do it again, oh yes, I would. Maybe tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that…

French Spring Soup
This soup is everything good soup should be, rich and earthy yet light and healthy too. The key is to let the leeks and onions slowly caramelize in the butter for as long as you can.

1/4 cup butter
1 pound leeks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 quarts water
3 large potatoes, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 bunch fresh asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
4 teaspoons salt
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1/2 pound fresh spinach, chopped
1 cup heavy cream

1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the leeks and onion, and cook until tender 20 to 30 minutes. The longer you cook them, the better your soup will be.

2. Pour water into the pot. Mix in potatoes, carrots, asparagus, and rice. Season with salt and lots of freshly cracked black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 25 to 30 minutes, until vegetables and rice are tender.

3. Stir spinach and heavy cream into the soup mixture, and continue cooking about 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 10 servings.

Bruschetta al Salmoriglio
Crunchy, garlicky, and lemony this bruschetta pairs well with spring vegetable soups.

Half a loaf of sliced crusty bread
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried Mediterranean oregano or Greek oregano (Not Mexican oregano)
Very small pinch hot red pepper flakes
Sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half

1. Combined everything in a small bowl except the bread and garlic cloves.

2. Grill the bread on both sides until grill marks form and bread is golden. Remove from heat and rub the warm bread on one side with garlic cloves. Brush oil mixture on and serve immediately.

How to wash and prepare leeks from The Veggie Table

Cut off the fibrous root

If the dark-green outer leaves are very tough and/or spotty, remove them

Trim the ends of the remaining leaves

Cut the leek in half length-wise, then slice or chop

Place in a bowl of warm water and swirl around to help the dirt fall to the bottom

Take the leeks out, place in a colander, and rinse again. Don't just pour them into the colander as the dirt at the bottom of the bowl might get trapped in the leaves again.

Cooking with Leeks

Many recipes call for just the "white parts" of leeks, when in fact the light green is just as good and even the dark green is usable if it will be sautéed for at least 5 minutes or so. I nearly always use all three parts in my recipes.

I had a little help cleaning the soup pot. Even Rocky likes French Spring Soup.

Bruschetta al Salmoriglio recipe p76 "Panini Bruschetta Crostini", By Viana La Place. French Spring Soup recipe from Pictures by Laura Flowers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Caffeinated Triple Bypass Brownies

Are you tired of those skinny thighs? Are your arteries so perfectly clean you feel fantastic? Have you missed caffeine? Is your diabetes so well controlled you feel like you’re on top of the world?

Well if so, do I ever have a recipe to fix that! This triple layer heart attack diabetic coma brownie is everything you need to reach a sugar buzz so high you’ll shoot off the earth like a rocket. Spacecraft? Who needs ‘em!

Caffeinated Triple Bypass Brownies

1 box Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix or Chocolate Supreme Brownie Mix

1 ½ teaspoons very finely ground caramel flavored coffee

1 (11 ounce) bag Kraft Caramel Bits, or about ¾ of a bag of Kraft Caramels, unwrapped

¼ cup half & half

12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon shortening

1 cup mini pretzels, slightly broken

1 cup salted peanuts (lightly salted if you have them), roughly chopped

1. Line an 8”x 8” or 9”x 9” pan with foil all the way to the top and brush with oil. Make the brownies according to package directions adding the ground coffee to the batter. Cool completely.

2. Melt the caramels with the half and half in a large bowl in the microwave on high heat. Stir every thirty seconds until melted. Pour over cooled brownies. Let cool until set.

3. Melt the chocolate and shortening in a large bowl in the microwave on high heat. Stir every thirty seconds until melted. Mix in the pretzels and peanuts. Spread over brownies. Cool and serve.

Notes: Brownies can be sliced and stored in the freezer.

Recipe created by Laura Flowers with inspiration from a lost Associated Press story. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Clara's Cold Lunch Corner Week 5

Me-“Clara do you want me to pack a few extra cookies to share with friends on the bus?”
Clara-“Yeah, Ok Mom.”
Me-“You promise you’ll eat your lunch first, right?”
Clara- “Yeeeeaah.”

Let’s just say an 8-year-old has hoodwinked me. I had to pick Clara up a couple times from school last week only to discover she’s been a typical kid and eating her dessert and fruit for lunch and sharing the rest of her meal after school.

All I could do was bust out laughing. I mean really, this is my doing. I've learned something though. From now on I’m only packing her a small treat.

At least the bus kids are getting some healthy food. Hey, someone has to eat it!

Clara's Cold Lunch Corner Week 5
Week of May 17th-May 21st 2010.
Clara was getting tired of change for her main meals, so I’ve started repeating her favorites. It’s kind of sad when a child has to ask for a pb&j sandwich!

1. Laptop
Large covered container- Spaghetti with grilled veggie marinara sauce & Parmesan.
On the side- Sandwich bag with red grapes, 1 fortune cookie.

2. Metal Lunchbox
Sandwich bag- Peanut butter & huckleberry jam sandwich
Foil- 1 large carrot, not cut up.
Packet of freeze dried apples
Snack bag with mini pretzels

3. Laptop (Picture above)
Large covered box- Spinach with baked & chopped MorningStar Farms Chik Patty & cheddar cheese.
Small uncovered box- Grapes
Small uncovered box- Mini covered container of bleu cheese dressing. Mini covered container shelled sunflower seeds.

4. Laptop
Large covered box- Peanut butter and huckleberry jam sandwich
Small covered box- Red, white & blue yogurt pretzels
Small covered box- Dill pickle chunks
Tucked on the side- Stretch Island Fruit Leather

5. Laptop
Medium covered box- Mini bagel with ham.
Medium covered box- Banana slices and grapes layered with plain yogurt mixed with huckleberry jam.
Small covered- Carrot sticks
Small covered- Vanilla wafer cookies

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Devil's Food Cake with Fresh Strawberry Frosting

Personally speaking, I’m more of a pie fanatic. Sometimes though, I need cake. Seriously need cake. Unfortunately, when these moments strike cake cannot be made before the craving forces me to do dumb things.

For this particular cake I baked it much too late in the evening. I attempted to let it cool, but I simply had to have cake before I went to bed and it was already 10pm! So I frosted it warm.

Well you know what happened next, cake started to slide off and frosting ran down the sides onto the plate. I ran outside in my pajamas to the cool porch with cake in one hand, two frosting covered spatulas in the other hand and quickly set it down on the table. For the next 30 minutes I attempted to hold the cake in place with one spatula while scooping frosting back up with the other.

I should have just given up on pretty cake and eaten it out of a bowl. My neighbors probably had a good long laugh about it. I just hope they didn’t take pictures.

Devil’s Food Cake

Ooo this is good moist chocolaty cake, and even better with strawberry frosting! It’s from the Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book, a baking staple in my home. I've adapted it for a one bowl method.

1/2 cup shortening

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups cold water

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 inch, 8 inch, or a 13x9 inch pan. For round pans also cut out parchment to fit into the bottom of the pans, once fitted inside grease the parchment and then roll flour around the pans tapping off the excess.

2. In a large mixing bowl beat shortening with an electric mixer on medium high to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Add cocoa powder, salt and water and mix well. Mix in the baking soda then add flour beating on low speed until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan(s).

3. Bake for 33 to 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool layer cakes in pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edges and remove cakes from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. Or, place 13x9 inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with desired frosting.

Fresh Strawberry Frosting

Frosting can be as thick and dense or as fluffy and light as you like by adding more or less powdered sugar. Play around with the amount and see what works for you.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft

1/4 cup cream cheese, very soft

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup of the strawberry puree

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Powdered sugar, between 2 and 3 pounds depending on consistency preferences

With a food processor pulse a few strawberries until there’s a half-cup of puree. With a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients together adding the powdered sugar a few cups at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Devil’s Food Cake recipe from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book. Frosting recipe and picture by Laura Flowers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Parmesan Almond Crackers

While cleaning out my freezer this morning I pulled out a small container of unidentifiable flat round cracker looking things. I set them aside to thaw while I finished up, deciding surprise food might be fun to eat with a cup of coffee for breakfast. (Come on, please tell me you do this too!)

One bite in I realized, “Oh, Yeah!!! I meant to share this recipe!” They’re the Parmesan Almond Crackers Linda from Chow Chow Linda wrote about last March. I had forgotten how tasty they are. Man are they good!

Try to cut them as thin as you can without crumbling. They crisp up a bit more that way. I also remember having to drizzle in a bit of water to get the dough to come together, though it wasn’t an exact measurement. Just enough so the dough turned into a ball in the food processor, but was still fairly dry.

Oooo crunchy cheesy. You really should have a few. I’d share but I’m down to two little crackers and my coffee needs the company.

Parmesan Almond Crackers
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup slivered almonds
Water (you may or may not need this)

Place the flour, cheese, salt and nutmeg into a food processor. Add 1/2 cup (1/4 pound) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon slices, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1 egg, lightly beaten, and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Drizzle in a little water at this point if dough looks dry. Add 1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds and pulse briefly just to combine. Pat into a log 2 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.

Slice and bake on buttered baking sheets at 375 degrees until the crackers are firm but still pale, 15 to 18 minutes. (I remember these crackers taking less time to bake, so start watching about 12 minutes in.)

Found on Linda's blog, (who's also my imaginary adopted Italian family member) Chow Chow Linda. Recipe from “Antipasti” by Joyce Goldstein. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Grilled Zucchini, Onion and Garlic White Pizza

Wait! Stop! Don’t leave, you’re really at the right blog. It just looks all shiny and new! Too shiny really, I’m almost afraid to scuff it up by writing on it.

I hope you’ll find the new design easier to navigate. It was turning into an overgrown hermit crab in a tiny shell. Although, this redesign wasn’t my idea. The whole thing was a big surprise.

It was a gift from my great friend Kathia. I found if you fly to New York, give her a jar of Idaho mountain honey and treat her to a Cuban meal, she’ll send you the smart and talented Jessica from The Frilly Coconut. Jessica will know exactly what you want without you having to say much of anything, and then you’ll abuse her a bit by asking her to put in some tabs. However, Jessica is so nice she’ll put up with you anyway.

Thank-you Kathia for this gift, and thank-you Jessica for being so fun to work with! I am grateful for you both.

I think pizza is in order for a celebration like this. I hope you enjoy the new design and find it easier to navigate.

Grilled Zucchini, Onion and Garlic White Pizza

This recipe makes two medium to large pizzas depending on the thickness of your dough. If you just want one pizza, throw half the dough in the fridge or freezer for later use.


1 recipe pizza dough, below

1 (5.2 ounce) container Garlic & Fine Herbs Boursin Cheese

Mozzarella, shredded

Very thinly sliced onion slivers

Parmesan cheese, shredded

A couple zucchinis, cut into thin rounds

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Coarse cornmeal


1. Make the pizza dough 45 minutes in advance. Preheat the grill to high about 30 minutes into the rising dough.

2. Place the zucchini rounds in a bowl and toss with olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Grill on each side until grill marks form. Place back in the bowl and set aside. Leave the grill on.

3. Sprinkle a medium or large good quality pizza pan with cornmeal and set aside. Divide the dough in half, sprinkle a clean surface with flour and pat out dough into circles using your palms and fingers. Move to pizza pan. Brush dough with olive oil. If you have a second pizza pan you can repeat the process now.

4. Place the Boursin cheese in a bowl and microwave for 20 to 30 seconds until creamy. Stir and spread thinly over pizzas.

5. Top pizzas with some mozzarella, onion slivers, grilled zucchini, parmesan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

6. Place the pizzas on the grill one at a time and cook for about 5 to 8 minutes per pizza, depending on how hot your grill is. The hotter the grill, the better the pizza and the quicker it cooks. You’re looking for a nice dark brown bottom crust. Check often near the end, it can go from done to burnt quickly.

7. Repeat with second pizza.

Pizza Dough


1 cup warm (110 degrees F) water

1 (1/4-ounce) envelope (or 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast

1 teaspoon honey

1 cup bread flour

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt


1. In a stand mixer bowl add the water, yeast, and honey and let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. Add the flours, olive oil, and salt and mix with the dough hook until well kneaded. Remove the dough and knead by hand for another few minutes.

2. Olive oil a large bowl. Remove the dough from the stand mixer and knead on a clean surface for two more minutes. Place the dough in the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes before using.

Recipe and photograph by Laura Flowers.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Clara’s Cold Lunch Corner Week 4

This week I have little to offer except Clara’s menu. You see, I have something up my sleeve that I won’t share yet. I usually look around to see what’s going on in the lunch world, but I’ve been working nonstop and my brain is mush. In fact, I think it might be seeping out of my ears. I just hope I have enough brain cells left to get this project finished.

I made Twinkies last week and froze a few of them for Clara’s lunches. She really enjoyed them and kept asking for more. It was also the Twinkies that saved me late last night after I'd worked for about 16 hours straight. I had no idea what to pack! Consequently, lunch number five is one of those haphazard mother has gone crazy lunches, but I think she’ll enjoy it today. It has a Twinkie in it, of course she will.

Hopefully this makes up for the leftovers I sent with her to school. I did try to break up the monotony of the same meal by spacing them two days apart. That seemed to help some. Although really, all Clara wanted was those darn Twinkies!

Clara’s Cold Lunch Corner Week 4

Week of May 10th-May 14th 2010
1. Laptop
Medium uncovered box- PB&J sandwich on homemade whole wheat bread & huckleberry jam. Cut in half and placed in two snack bags.
Medium covered box- Strawberries
Small uncovered box - cheese sticks cut to fit and wrapped in a snack bag.
Small covered box- Red, white and blue gummy bears.

2. Laptop
Large covered box- Kid Caesar Salad: Chopped romaine, Parmesan cheese and garlic croutons.
On the side of the Laptop Lunchbox- Caesar salad dressing in small dip container, 1 homemade Twinkie in a snack bag, 1 small box dried cranberries, 1 snack bag with shelled sunflower seeds.

3. Laptop (Picture above)
Medium covered box- Molded deviled eggs sandwiched back together. A sandwich bag with ice tucked inside kept them cold.
Medium covered box- Carrot sticks with bleu cheese dressing in small covered container
Small covered box- Galia melon chunks
Small covered box- Whole grain cheddar fish shaped crackers
Liquid thermos- Smoothie with soymilk, plain yogurt, mango juice & leftover fruit

4. Metal Lunchbox
Food thermos- Roasted carrot pasta
Sandwich bag- Orange wedges
Sandwich bag- Peanuty Butterfinger Chip Fudge Cookies (Will write up the recipe soon)
Liquid thermos- Smoothie with soymilk, plain yogurt, mango juice & leftover fruit

5. Metal Lunchbox (This is the “what the heck am I going to pack?” lunch!)
Wrapped in foil- 2 biscuits with ham & American cheese
Bag of Garden Veggie Straws
Stretch Island Fruit Leathers
Snack bag- 1 homemade Twinkie

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Golden Chickpea and Artichoke Salad

Things I like about this recipe: It’s fast, healthy, nutty, cheap, tastes awesome, and makes a great lunch.

Things I don’t like about this recipe: It’s gone. All gone.

Now, I am sad.

Golden Chickpea and Artichoke Salad
From Lauren Ulm’s book Vegan Yum Yum. This recipe makes enough for only one person as a main dish, but it’s a cinch to double or triple. As a side it serves about three.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (15 ounce) can chick peas, drained and rinsed well
5 to 7 artichoke hearts, drained and sliced lengthwise (canned or frozen both work fine. I like to rinse the canned ones.)
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted if desired
1 teaspoon lemon juice (I used more to taste)
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley (I used 1 teaspoon dried)

1. Heat oil in a seasoned wok or cast-iron skillet. Add the chickpeas and cook on medium-high for 10 minutes, stirring only occasionally to prevent burning, until the chickpeas are golden brown all over. When done, put them in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

2. Add more oil to the pan and cook the sliced artichoke hearts until browned. Add them to the bowl of chickpeas.

3. Toast the almonds in a dry skillet (if desired) and then grind them in a food processor. Add the almonds to the artichokes and chickpeas. Season the salad with lemon juice and salt and stir in the chopped parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature, adjust the seasoning if needed.

Visit Lauren Ulm’s beautiful blog Vegan Yum Yum. Recipe from Lauren's book Vegan Yum Yum. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Shortcut Homemade Twinkie Copycats

I couldn’t face producing three batches of Twinkies from scratch for Jesse’s work this week. So I didn’t. Instead, I tweaked Todd Wilber’s pound cake mix version into something more Twinkie-like. What's neat about Todd's version is he made his copycats without a cream canoe pan by wrapping foil around spice jars to created molds. If I didn’t have the pan already, I’d have done things his way.

There were a couple problems with Todd’s recipe. I’m not sure if they’re because I used a nonstick pan instead of foil, but they needed a roll in simple syrup. Without it they weren’t really Twinkies, just pound cakes with filling and strange crusty outsides. I adjusted the cooking time as well, but that’s probably just a difference in baking methods. If you use the foil method they’ll take longer to bake.

If you’re not into shortcut baking, Leslie Bilderback made a fantastic, but complicated Twinkie recipe from scratch. It might be fun to tackle if you have the spare time, or are making just a single batch.

I think sometimes a shortcut is perfectly fine though. Especially for something fun like this. Overall, these little cakes are pretty darn Twinkie-like, not too difficult, and have that cool novelty of being baked at home. I'll be making these again.

Shortcut Homemade Twinkies
Simple Syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water

Boil together in a small pot with a lid. Once mixture comes to a boil remove the lid and cook for three more minutes to ensure the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.


Crisco for greasing
4 egg whites
1 16-oz box of golden pound cake mix
2/3 cup of water

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a cream canoe pan with Crisco. (Butter doesn’t work as well here).

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not a solid mass. In a separate bowl combine the cake mix with water and beat until blended. Then, fold egg whites into the cake with a spatula then beat it with the hand mixer at the end until just combined.

Fill the molds half full of batter. Bake for around 22 to 23 minutes, or until the cakes are lightly golden brown around the edges (but light on top) and a toothpick comes out clean.

Run a toothpick around the cakes to loosen the sides. Dump the hot cakes onto parchment paper. Turn cakes upside down so the bottoms are now on top. Place some of the simple syrup into a wide shallow bowl and immediately roll the tops, sides, and ends of hot Twinkies in the syrup. Try not to get syrup on the bottoms. Fill with cream filling, below.

Repeat the process for second set of cakes. Be sure to grease the pan again.

Cream Filling
2 teaspoons very hot water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups marshmallow cream (or one 7 oz jar)
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 chopstick

To do the cream filling, first mix the salt into the bowl of hot water, and mix until the salt is dissolved. Let it cool.

Combine the marshmallow cream, shortening, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and mix, preferably with an electric mixer or stand mixer on high, until fluffy.

Now pour the salt-water solution in and mix.

When the cakes are mainly cool, poke a hole into the bottom in three places like a Twinkie with a narrow ended chopstick. Move the chopstick around inside to make some room for filling. Then stick a pastry bag into the holes and press gently to fill.

Storing “Twinkies”
Store in a wax paper lined covered container for a few hours before serving. Twinkies need time for their outsides to get soft. Twinkies also freeze quite well after filling.

Makes 16 Twinkie Copycats.

Adapted from Todd Wilber from Top Secret Recipes. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Clara’s Cold Lunch Corner Week 3

Let me run off topic for a minute before I get started. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about photography lately and I had an idea that might help. If you have questions would you post them in the comment box please? If there are enough questions I’ll devote a post to tackling as many issues as I can. I don’t promise to have all the answers, but I’ll give it my best.

I’ve only been shooting food for two years and I’m still learning. Food is quite difficult compared to taking pictures of people, landscapes, or prop photography. It’s a huge learning curve for me, and probably the biggest challenge I’ve taken on with photography so far. But, I think that’s what draws me to food work; it makes me use my brain on a very regular basis. I need that! It would rot out of my head otherwise.

Now I’m left guessing why they never taught us food photography in college. They just sort of let us pick our subjects. I wonder if any university helps their students focus on learning food photography? There must be one somewhere.

I’ll stop rambling now and get to lunch. Clara only had three days of school due to service days, so the list is short this week. Also, Laptop Lunches has their monthly newsletter out. They’ve been such a great resource for information it’s worth a quick read.

We made homemade crunchy granola bars for lunches this week. I can't believe how stinkin' easy they are! Five minute prep tops. It's no wonder these big companies put so much marketing into getting us to buy their stupid bars. They're terrified we'll figure out they're crazy easy to make at home and they'll go out of business! They freeze well too, and most of them are packed away in a bag in the freezer waiting to be used in future lunches.

If you make the Playgroup Granola Bars watch them closely near the end. I think I pulled them out 5 minutes early, right before they started to burn. Once they burn you'll have to start over, there's no way to salvage them.

Clara’s Cold Lunch Corner Week 3
Week of May 3rd-May 7th 2010.

1. Laptop
Large covered- Boiled hotdog wrapped in American cheese and a homemade tortilla (in foil), 1 cheese stick, freeze dried strawberries, 4 Hershey’s Kisses, 1 small covered container bleu cheese dressing (for carrots).
Small covered- Matchstick carrots
Small covered- Kumquats

2. Metal Lunchbox
Food thermos- Bison Potato Soup with Bacon & Veggies.
Two small pieces cheese bread wrapped in foil.
Snack bag of walnuts.
Hershey’s Chocolate Bar
Small liquid thermos- Milk

3. Laptop (Picture above)
Large box uncovered- Bagel with cream cheese & ham, wrapped in foil. Two small homemade crunchy granola bars in a snack bag.
Small covered- cantaloupe
Small covered- Carrot sticks

Picture by Laura Flowers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tuna Noodle Casserole with Leeks and Fresh Dill. Fabulous even without Tuna.

I don’t know who this Molly Stevens character is, but she created a seriously good tuna noodle casserole for Bon Appétit. I think I’ll go try more of her recipes, if I ever take a break from making this casserole.

This recipe is everything tuna noodle casserole should be. Creamy with Gruyère, herby with dill and celery seeds, oniony from leeks and crunchy salty with potato chips. Ok, so maybe herby and oniony aren’t real words, but you get the picture. Oh, and lots of soft carby noodles of course! Carby is a word right? Heck, you could leave out the tuna and it’d still be fabulous. Seriously.

Tuna Noodle Casserole with Leeks and Fresh Dill
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
• 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; from about 2 large)
• 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
• Coarse kosher salt
• 1/4 cup all purpose flour
• 2 cups whole milk
• 1/2 cup half and half
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 8 ounces wide egg noodles
• 1/2 cup coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (I used 2 teaspoons dried)
• 2 5- to 6-ounce cans albacore tuna (preferably packed in olive oil), drained, broken into 1/2-inch chunks
• 2 cups coarsely crushed salted potato chips (about 2 ounces)

• Butter 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish. Melt unsalted butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and celery seeds to saucepan; sprinkle lightly with coarse kosher salt. Cover saucepan and cook until leeks are tender but not brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Gradually add milk and half and half; simmer until mixture thickens slightly, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Season leek sauce to taste with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Remove sauce from heat.

• Meanwhile, cook egg noodles in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, stirring occasionally. Drain noodles, reserving 3/4 cup (or a little more) noodle cooking liquid. Transfer noodles to large bowl. Pour leek sauce over noodles. Add grated Gruyère cheese and dill and stir to blend; add reserved noodle cooking liquid by tablespoons until mixture is moist and creamy (about 8 tablespoons). Fold in tuna. Transfer to prepared baking dish. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover with foil and keep refrigerated.

• Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake noodle casserole, covered with foil, until heated through, about 20 minutes if freshly made or 30 minutes if chilled. Remove foil. Sprinkle crushed potato chips over and continue to bake, uncovered, until top is golden brown and filling bubbles, about 10 minutes longer. Serve hot.

Serves 6.

Recipe by Molly Stevens @ Bon Appetit
, March 2010. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

I was looking around for a little weekly cookie inspiration and found it in these orange creamsicle cookies on Susi’s blog, Kochen und Backen Adventures. I thought they would be cute as mini cookies, and used a mini scoop. Thanks Susi!

Orange Creamsicle Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but not melted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon organic orange extract
2 tablespoons fresh orange zest, grated
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
10 ounces SunSpire All Natural White Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a stand mixer bowl, cream the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar together. Add egg, salt, vanilla extract, orange extract, and orange zest and beat to combine. Add baking soda and just mix in. Add flour and mix until just combined. Add white chocolate chips and mix on low to stir in.

3. Using a mini cookie scoop (size 60), scoop the dough and release onto parchment 1½ inches apart. Bake for 7 minutes or until very lightly golden brown around edges. Let rest on cookie sheet for a couple minutes and move to cooling rack to finish cooling. Repeat with remaining dough.

Makes about 56 cookies.

1. To make regular sized cookies use a standard cookie scoop (size 50) and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

2. These cookies freeze well.

Adapted from Guittard and
Susi @ Kochen und Backen Adventures. Picture by Laura Flowers.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Samosa Tacos. Huh?

We love potato and pea stuffed samosas here, but they’re a special occasion food because they take hours to prepare with all the stuffing, folding and frying. This is my way to enjoy our favorite samosa filling without the hassle. I still make real samosas occasionally, but now we eat them much more often as a quick weeknight meal.

Samosa Tacos

If you’re up for the extra prep, these “tacos” are even better with a little cucumber raita drizzled on top. If not, don’t worry about it, they’re excellent plain.

2 pounds Russet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for water
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup frozen petite green peas
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
Taco sized flour tortillas, store bought or homemade

1. Peel and cube potatoes into a pot of cold water. Drain water once all the potatoes are sliced, and refill to 1 inch above potatoes with more cold water. Heavily salt the water and bring to a gentle boil until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork.

2. Drain potatoes well in a colander and place back in the pot. Turn on the stove to low and evaporate the liquid in the bottom of the pot and then turn off the heat. Add all the spices and olive oil and mash leaving some small chunks throughout. Stir in the frozen peas and cilantro and serve on tortillas.

Recipe & picture by Laura Flowers.

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