Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ties For The Animals

Buy a tie and at the same time contribute to a good cause! Check out this fun auction.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sweet and Red Potato Salad

Here is my favorite potato salad recipe. I love it not just for the sweet potatoes but because it's not drowning in mayo. Whenever I serve it people comment on its deliciousness.

Red and Sweet Potato Salad

2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 pound sweet potato or yam, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 T spicy brown mustard
1 1/4 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 cup mayo (not miracle whip)
1/4 cup milk
2 celery ribs chopped
1 small red onion chopped
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

1. Place the red potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add sweet potatoes; return to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes. Check after 6 minutes. You don't want mushy potatoes, just cooked to the point a fork will pierce with ease. We aren't mashing these folks!

2. In a large bowl whisk the vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Drain the cooked potatoes; add to vinegar mixture and toss gently to coat. Cool.

3. In a small bowl combine mayo and milk. Stir in the celery, onion and parsley. Gently stir into cooled potato mixture. Serve immediately or cover and chill and serve cold.

Monday, September 7, 2009


This is my very pretty mother. I'm wishing she was not sick in the hospital and would be able to enjoy the beautiful weekends weather, her family here from Sweden and my sister Chris home from Seattle. She is a remarkable woman and remarkably strong. I love her and wish she would feel better soon.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

It's Official. Best Brownie EVER!

I don't like brownies that are kinda sorta like cake. I don't want them frosted either. I like them to kinda sorta be like fudge. And this recipe is exactly the brownie I have been looking for. These are serious as a heart attack good and the salt that is swirled in at the end. Well, you'll just have to make these to understand.

Salt Swirled Fudge Brownies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1/4 c. plus 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. sea salt (do not substitute plain salt) It must be sea salt.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9″ square baking pan with foil. Butter or spray with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Whisking them in one at a time until thoroughly incorporated, add the cocoa, sugar, eggs, vanilla and flour. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the salt into the batter.

Bake the fudge brownies in the center of the oven for about 35 minutes, until the edge is set but the center is still a bit soft and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out coated with a little of the batter. Let the brownies cool at room temperature in the pan for 1 hour, then refrigerate just until they are firm, about 1 hour. Lift the brownies from the pan and peel off the foil. Cut the brownies into 16 squares. Serve at room temperature.

Ta Da Ta Da!

Not bad considering 1/2 the batter ended up on the bottom of my oven. I'll let you all know how it tastes!

Ta Da!

So after a 1/2 hour of cleaning the racks and the bottom of the oven I did end up with two lovely coconut cakes.

Size Does Matter

At least it does when it comes to cake pans apparently. I decided to finally give Ina Garten's Coconut Cake recipe a whirl. I have been meaning to for quite some time and with a big family picnic tomorrow I need several desserts. The cake was easy to throw together and as soon as I poured it into my two 8" cake pans instead of 9" cake pans as directed I knew I was in trouble. Did I take batter out? Nope...Just went for it. Oops! It all turned out in the end though. I'll post the cake recipe later today. I have a Banana Rum Cake to finish and my Nectarine Tart. Heres the recipe for this little gem.

Don't forget to use the right size pans...however it was fun to share this last night with my facebook friends for a good laugh.

Coconut Cake


  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour. ( 9 inch pans are definitely what I recommend using) hehehehe.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be worried about that. It's not a problem.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling. I have a convection oven so mine baked much faster than the 45 minutes. So watch them!

For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until just smooth (don't whip!).

To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I felt like the Pickle Queen with my beautiful bouquet of Dill.
This is my sister Chris. She typically makes 75 1/2 gallon jars of pickles a year. She usually sends them from Seattle to us as gifts. She is here visiting so that is why we decided to do the pickling here and save her the trouble and expense of mailing them.

Pickling Predicament

Who would have guessed that putting up a couple dozen jars of dill pickles would take a small miracle and frustrating, exhausting search for fresh vine ripened cucumbers and half gallon wide mouth canning jars. I had to travel to Cloquet to get the 6 jars they had in stock.

Apparently my sister Chris visiting from Seattle who is a self admitted food and wine snob is also a pretty tough cucumber critic, of the 120 pounds of pickling cucumbers I acquired through a shall remain nameless food distributor only 15 pounds were pickle worthy. They must be blemish free, not unlike our mates and not torpedo shaped lest it yield overly seedy pickles. So says Chris.

When we fell so far short of pickles I made a frantic call to a farmer I know and I was able to get about 10 pounds of freshly picked gherkins. My good friend Dean was kind enough to pick them up and run them out. He has been my go to guy for all things emergency for quite some time. He's the best!

I must admit I thought pickling was going to be a very difficult and tiresome job. I couldn't have been more wrong. In the time it took for my sister and I to drink a lovely bottle of Cabernet the first batch was totally processed. Fabulous!

At this point I have no idea what went into making these pickles except damn near a full tank of gas, visits to three cities and at least 6 stores looking for jars and cucumbers that measured up to my sisters impossibly high cucumber expectations. All in all a very good first pickling experience!