Monday, December 29, 2008

lizzy-patti bake day

This is my friend, Lizzy. Lizzy likes to bake. Lizzy likes to bake with Patti. Patti likes to bake with Lizzy. Lizzy and Patti are friends. The end.

Haha...besides from sounding like an elementary story book, Lizzy and I had a great time with our bake-day. :) This has been an annual thing that we've (recently) started to do, and what better way to meet up with a good friend than by bonding in the kitchen?!

So on the menu today was the Elvis Fluffernutter Cake, which I have been yearning to bake
for quite some time now, and which I now dub the Coma Cake. Since it will undoubtedly put your body and soul in a sugar coma. NO JOKE. I'm serious, people. I have never been in a sugar coma before and always laughed to myself when people would describe this phenomenon. Believe me...I have experienced a wicked sugar coma with the Coma Cake and it is true. Believe.

So. What are the contents of a Coma Cake, you wonder? Well...only the best ingredients, obviously. Like, marshmallow creme. And bananas. And chocolate chips. And PEANUT BUTTER. And sprinkles. Yes, all the bare necessities of life come together in this one cake. And in the words of "Jungle Book", the bare necessities of life, they'll come to you. Oh yes, they'll come to you.

So let me describe this cake to you all. Cake layers consist of banana cake topped with chocolate chips, which are baked in and conveniently sink into the cake like one big delicious monstrosity. And's all topped off with peanut butter fluff filling and frosted with peanut butter frosting. Basically, whoever concocted this recipe was genius. BOLD and genius.

And here is Liz staring lovingly at the first cake topped off with peanut butter fluff. Oh my, oh my.

So everything was going well. Everything going smoothly. Until...we topped the peanut butter fluff with the second cake layer. What can I say but...bad news bears? All of a sudden, the cake was an ooze-fest mountain. And nothing Lizzy and I did helped to keep the cake in place! Uh ohs. Basically, we gave up on this cake's aesthetically-pleasing factor, and we decided that this ugly, yet oh-so delicious cake, would not be judged by its cover.

And, oh my, what a delicious outcome it was. Sugary-overload delicious, that is. :) If we make this next time, we're definitely cutting back on the sugar in the cake, since an entire cup of mashed bananas lends plenty of sweetness to go around.

Okay, next on our baking agenda were...tomato basil mozzarella paninis! Oh my, yum...

I got a new panini grill for Christmas from my dad and step-mom...thanks, guys!!! They read my blog so, of course, they deserve a shout-out. :) And is this thing amazing. Basically, it's a souped-up George Foreman grill, but BETTER. Oh, so much better. You could cook four big, big burgers on this puppy. Or many paninis.

Wow, were these flippin' good or what. Imagine what a peanut butter banana panini would taste like...but after Coma Cake, we didn't even want to think about peanut butter at least for awhile.

Last on our baking-agenda was tiramisu
a la Tyler Florence for Lizzy's fam's New Year's Eve dinner. We made this last year with much success! And here is Lizzy with the beautiful final product....yumm. What is much better than espresso-booze-drenched ladyfingers all topped with a creamy mascarpone filling? Not much, my friends, not much. Well...that Coma Cake comes pretty close. :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

oh my, baklava

So I've always wanted to make homemade baklava. Ohhh, those savory layers of phyllo, butter, and nutty-goodness. And when I saw a recipe on Alton Brown's Good Eats, I knew this had to be made.

The first task for baklava is to food-process a combination of almonds, walnuts, and pistachios with a lovely medley of spices....think cinnamon-y and all-spice-y flavors.

And it all comes out looking like this....

And...I really am not in the mood to blog, for some weird reason, which is why I am being brief. But another adventure of this baklava-making process was the phyllo dough. Which, for some reason, was dubbed "fillo" dough on this box...

Mayhaps this is the Greek-spelling of the wafer-thin treat? Who knows.

Hmm...almost looks like Bible-paper. Almost. For some reason, this was the first thing that popped in my brain. And who would think that all that would bake up into something like this...

Ooohh, aahhh.


Just don't eat a ton at once, or else you may never want to see another baklava again. This stuff is SWEET.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"iron chef": battle key lime

The other day, David dropped off an obscene number of key limes. I almost felt like I was on "Iron Chef", like that guy who takes a big bite out of that pepper. Yum.

Apparently, Randazzo's had (another) sale on bulk fruit...this time, key limes were the hot item, coming in at 2 bucks a boxful. What a steal. But really, though, how many things can you make with key limes?! My mom had already made a key lime cake, so it was my turn t
o have a shot at key lime deliciousness. And my item of choice? Key lime pie!

So now, my friends, with an open heart and an empty stomach, I say unto you in the words of my uncle...


Seriously, though, I doubt that my uncle has ever baked a day in his life. No offense, Uncle Gary. :)

Let's just say that I now realize why key lime pies are so expensive. Why, you ask? Because key limes are a pain in the bootay to juice! Oh my, yes. Consider key lime-juicing to be a multi-step process...

1. Microwave key limes to get the juices flowin'.
2. Roll 'em.
3. Slice 'em.
4. Juice 'em.

5. Rest your hand....and repeat. Like, 25 times.

Now at the start, this isn't all that bad, this juicing thing. But after awhile...more like, 45 minutes hand realllly is gonna start cramping up. Seriously. Unless you're a professional juicer, that is. And really, I'm not doubting anyone's abilities here, but I recommend seeking out some kind of mechanical juicer to get you through.

So all of that yielded about 3/4 cup juice and key lime-guts...aka the pulp and seeds. Thinking that I had used up all key lime-reserves, I stopped juicing and strained out the guts and went along my merry baking way. WRONG. MORE key limes were in our garage. I did not become aware of this, however, until after the pie had been made. Oh well. My hand may have been saved.

But look how pretty these key limes are! And so green. They really do smell good, too. The only bad part is that the acid kills your hands when they're in that dry-as-a-desert state that is typical in the lovely winter season.

And here is the all-squeezed-out-key-lime mountain that results. They kinda look like little aliens, in a way...with teeth. Or maybe I've been baking for too long today.

Oh, and there's this sour cream-powdered sugar creamy-ness topping that goes on the pie once it's ready to be served...which won't be until tomorrow night. So until then, there will be no pictures of the completed pie. :( All we can do is dream of how delicious it will taste....

Key Lime Pie
Taken from

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup white sugar
4 tbsp. butter, melted

2 (14 oz.) cans condensed milk
1 cup key lime juice
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 tbsp. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Press mixture into 9-inch pie pan. Bake until brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before filling.

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees.

In separate bowl, combine condensed milk, lime juice, and eggs. Whisk until well blended, and place filling in cooled pie shell. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, and allow to chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, combine sour cream and powdered sugar and spread over top of pie. Serve chilled.

hello, my name is patti, and I've been addicted to post-midnight baking for four years now...

Am I an insomniac? No. A bit nutty? Mayhaps? Just in love with baking? Oh, most definitely, silly. However, an intervention might be necessary if this starts to get out of hand.

So I cannot sleep for the life of me tonight. Solution to this problem? BAKE. Or...mor
e like, raid-the-cupboards-to-find-something-creative-to-do. Which is exactly what I did. At 3:20am.

First thing I found? No, Yes, Maybe cookies left over from my 21st birthday bash...that were five months old. Eh, no one could tell the difference, thanks to delicious preservatives and trans fats baked into these circular fortune-telling treats. And really, just add some...

...PEANUT BUTTER, and life is good again. And then what did I do?

CRUSH CRUSH CRUSH with the rolling pin...that my uncle made for me, actually, how cool is that? My uncle is a carpenter, so we always receive handcrafted gifts, or at least once in awhile. This rolling pin is my absolute fav, in my honest opinion. Not only is it supa cool, but it also resembles the rolling pin that Giada De Laurentiis uses on her cooking show. And, I mean, if Giada is using a wooden, sans handle rolling pin, then it must be right...right? Right.

So this is a horridly fuzzy picture, but in the words of Clark, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Why? Because 1) I am finally tired and 2) I am using my mom's camera, since mine sadly died a few weeks ago, and I really don't feel like messing with her camera's settings at 4am. :)

So I was going for a no-bake cookie-esque flavor with this experimentals, and, I must admit, I kind of nailed it. Granted, I did use sugar cookies in place of oatmeal, but these puppies
really do taste like a no-bake. Only in bar-form. Which makes them 10,000 times tastier, of course.

So I'm posting an extremely vague recipe for these guys...make them at your own risk! Or feel free to play around with the ingredients and measurements when you can't get to sleep some night. :)

Insomniac Peanut Butter No-Bake Bars

3 cups or so sugar cookies, crushed
1 cup peanut butter, creamy
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Place crushed sugar cookies in medium bowl. Place peanut butter and chocolate chips in small, microwavable-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 30 second increments, checking for liquidfying stage...and stirring to meld together chocolate chips and peanut butter.

When combined, plop chocolate-peanut butter sludge into crushed sugar cookies. Mix together. Spread evenly into 8x8-inch pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Refrigerate for half an hour, or until cuttable. Cut and serve!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

let me see that pumpkin roll

THANK GOD FOR CHRISTMAS VACATION. 'Nuff said. Really, though, it's amazing to have no classes, no exams, no studying. Just sleeping, hanging with the fam and friends, applying to ridiculous amounts of grad schools, and......BAKING. All while watching Food Network. Oh yes. Life is good.

So tonight is our annual family Christmas party...where there will be over 110 of my extended Italian relatives from my Papa's side all in a room with loads of food. Basically, it's a lot of talking, eating, and reuniting. Oh, and Santa comes, too! What a guy, right? To come to our humble family Christmas party. :)

Anyway, my tiny household's responsibility was to bring two desserts to tonight's big bash. For some reason, my mom was sold on me making this pumpkin roll (recipe conveniently on the back of a can of Libby's Pumpkin Puree, found at your local grocery store). Why she did not desire me to whip up something chocolate, I do not know. Oh well, though. One cannot live on chocolate alone, I guess, though I definitely beg to differ. But anyway, once the whirlwind that is unpacking-my-life-from-college was over, I went to work making this roll.

So as I whipped together the ingredients, this batter was not looking a bit like cake batter. More like...really thick pumpkin pie batter. "What could be wrong???" I kept asking myself, as I checked and rechecked and...triple checked the ingredients I had added to the Kitchen Aid Mixer Of Amazingness. Everything seeming correct, I shrugged my shoulders and continued on with the baking process.

Oh, and if you do decide to make this roll, please flour your pan. I know, it's an annoying additional step, but it's just one of those things you gotta do. Whether you like it or not. Moral of the story? Flour your pan, and be happy.

Yep. Something was most definitely wrong here...but what? I'm telling you, I know cake batter when I see it. And this was most definitely not cake batter. Cake batter on steroids? Mayhaps. But that's not what we were going for here. However, into the oven it went.

As the pumpkin batter on steroids baked in the oven. I got to work making the cream cheese filling. Oh, and is this stuff delicious. Like, I had wicked urges to grab the nearest spoon and dig in right there with no shame at all. But...I suppressed my urges. And I think this filling would be delicious doused over a cake as a topping, also. cream cheese filling-making was a turning out to be a success, pumpkin cake-baking was not. 15 minutes later, the "batter" was still ooey gooey. And this was not delicious ooey gooey, but more like I'm-not-at-all-baked-yet ooey gooey. Eep. What to do what to do? Bake it longer, of course. And longer. And....looooonger. Like, 20 minutes longer than the directions indicated.

This was my cue to quadruple check the recipe. And, lo and behold, I discovered my mistake: the recipe called for 2/3 cup pumpkin puree, NOT the entire 29 oz. can. Whoops... :)

Anyway, to make a long story short, my baked pumpkin pie-in-a-jelly-roll pan concoction ended up being thrown out (by forces beyond my control, mind you), and the cake was prepared the right way.

Ohhh, I cannot wait to nom nom nom this tonight. And that big box o' secret ingredients in the background...that, my friends, holds the source of the next blog post to come in time.

Umm. And I guess my dog, Vino, enjoyed cream cheese residue left on the plastic wrap. :)

Pumpkin Roll

For cake:
powdered sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree

For filling:
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 15x10-inch jelly-roll pan with nonstick cooking spray. Flour pan to prevent stickage. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in mixing bowl until think. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

Prepare filling. Beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla extract in mixing bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake, remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Friday, December 5, 2008

jessie's got himself a cake, and I want to make it mine.

What a terrible blogger I am. Depriving you all of dangerously decadent pictures of seductive treats. Well, your imagination will have to suffice for the time being, since I was not able to get any decent pictures of this really good cake. Sorry, my friends.

Anyway, I do have a good excuse for not taking a single picture of this cake. That is because it was for a Lasagna Night dinner with some friends of ours. They supplied the lasagna and garlic bread, and our house supplied the salad and dessert. So basically, I didn't want to act too strange and go through my overly thorough food-picture-taking rituals as a guest in someone's house. :)

However, do not fear! This cake will definitely be made again since....

1. It was uber easy.
2. It was amazingly delicious.
3. Okay, I'll admit, I just really want to take some close-ups of this beauty. ;)

But anyway, the inspiration for this cake came from a really good Starbuck's-like crumb cake I made back when the days were warm and sunny. Summer....I believe it's called. Basically, I replaced half the amount of butter in the crumb mixture with peanut butter (surprised?), sprinkled it all on top of cake batter a la box (sigh, I know...but there was no time to make cake from scratch!), and then topped it all off with chocolate chips (because we all need a little chocolate in our lives).

So this cake definitely surprised me with the fact that the crumbs ended up being baked into the cake, rather than staying on top. I really didn't expect this to happen, however, the outcome was quite delicious. I mean, crumble in your cake? That's just yummy-sounding, if you ask me.

Peanut Butter Crumble Cake

1 box yellow cake mix...which means you'll also need eggs, oil, and water, but the quantity of these ingredients depend on which boxed cake you get.

For crumbs:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup peanut butter...creamy, please
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Prepare cake according to directions on the back of the box. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Prepare crumbs. In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, cinnamon, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough. Delicious dough.

Using your fingers, break crumb mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch in size. Sprinkle over cake. Sprinkle chocolate chips over crumble and batter.

Bake in preheated oven according to time indicated on back of cake mix box for a 13x9-inch pan. Remove from oven until toothpick comes out relatively clean. Devour and enjoy.