Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars

submitted by Lisa
I know, it is a sad little picture.  I seriously need to take a photo class...or maybe
get a better camera.  (I am thinking I can't blame it on the camera though!)

This is the first time I have made these and while they were well liked, I would have liked the caramel to taste a bit richer.  But I am biased ....being that I make my own caramel and am quite fond of it!  The steps are easy and not too time consuming so if you are looking to try something new, this is a good start.

For the Shortbread Layer:
2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1/2 c sugar

For the caramel layer:
1 c unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 c sugar
4 tbsp corn syrup
2 cans sweetened condensed milk

For the chocolate layer:
8 oz semi sweet chocolate
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 c unsalted butter (1 stick)
sea salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling


To make the shortbread layer, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper.  In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir with a fork to blend, and set aside.  In the bowl of an rmixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended, about 1 to 2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed blend inthe dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press in an even layer over the bottom of the pan.  Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the caramel layer:  Combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, stirring constantly.  Continue simmering and stirring until the mixture turns an amber color and thickens slightly.  Pour the mixture over the shortbread layer, smooth the top, and allow to cool completely and set.  (I chilled at this stage to ensure that the caramel layer would not melt when the warm chocolate was added)

To make the chocolate glaze, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Pour evenly over the caramel layer and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.  Allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then sprinkle with the salt.  chill, covered, until ready to slice and serve.

Source:  Annie's Eats

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

 Posted by Lisa

I have made blonde brownies and tried other cookie bar recipes and I think I like these the best.  For one, there isn't a cup of oil in them!  Yuck.  They baked up a lot nicer and the center cooked through better than other ones.  I did have to bake it longer than it asked for, that might just be an oven difference.  Needless to say, they were for a football banquet and there were only crumbs left.  Very good.

Makes a 9x13 inch pan of bars

2 1/8 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 tbsp butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
2 c chocolate chips (use your preference, semi sweet, bitter sweet, milk, white, peanut butter...)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position.  Line a 9x13 pan with foil or parchment leaving some to hang over the edges of pan for removal.  Spray the lined pan with cooking spray.

Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl;  set aside.  Whisk the melted butter and sugars in a large bowl until combined.  Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well.  Using a rubber spatual, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined; do not over mix.  Fold in the chocolate chips and turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula.

Bake until the top of the bars are light golden brown, slightly firm to the touch, and edges start pulling away from the sides.  24-28 minutes.
 (I had to cook it quite a bit longer for the middle to be done)  Cool on a wire rack.  Remove bars from the pan by lifting the overhanging lining and cut into 2 inch squares.

Source:  My Kitchen Cafe, originally adapted slightly from Cook's Illustrated

Friday, November 11, 2011

Indian Butter Chicken

Submitted by Hannah

Now I know that Heather just recently posted an Indian recipe but I happen to love Indian food and can't get enough of it so I thought I would add another good one. I would say this dish is definitely the closest I have found to my restaurant favorites, it is delicious. If you are lucky enough like me to have a Trader Joe's near by they have the best 3 layer humus and naan bread that I like to serve with this. My 3 year old usually has seconds of this meal, now that is a successful meal.

1 onion (1/2 lb.), peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh jalapeƱo, seeded, and chopped
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
2 teaspoons garam masala ( I only used 1 tsp and added 1 tsp of curry powder)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cardamom ( I did not add this because it is very expensive but I didn't miss it either)
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon crushed bay leaves (I used 2 bay leaves instead)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter
2 cups basmati rice, uncooked
Lime wedges
Fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook rice according to package instructions.
In a large saute pan, combine onion, ginger, chili, and oil. Stir often over medium-high heat until onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, garam masala, chili powder, cardamom, and coriander. Saute for an additional 2 minutes.
Scrape mixture into a blender or food processor; add tomato paste and chicken broth. Whirl until very smooth. Pour mixture back into pan, add half and half or cream and crushed bay leaves, and bring to a gentle  boil over high heat (mixture is inclined to spatter). Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until reduced to 3 cups, about 5-7 minutes. Pour sauce into a bowl. Rinse and dry pan.
Pat the chicken dry. Mix chicken with salt and pepper. Set pan over high heat; add 1 tablespoon butter and the chicken. Stir until chicken is no longer pink on the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until chicken is no longer pink in the center (cut to test), 3 to 4 minutes. Cut remaining 3 tablespoons butter into chunks and stir into sauce until melted.
Spoon chicken and sauce onto rice. Squeeze lime juice over portions and garnish with cilantro.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Karen's Wheat Bread

(I'm leaving this picture small because it's not so great.  I've had to take my food pictures on the fly lately, since I usually have either hungry kids or a full data card on my camera.  Sorry!)

This is really delicious wheat bread.  I'm not sure I'd say it was your typical wheat bread, though.  It's a little more substantial and less airy than some homemade breads.  This is a good thing - ask my kids.  A woman in our church, Karen H., taught bread making lessons years ago and this is her recipe.  I'll always be thankful for the time she took to teach all of us, because up until that time I'd always been a bit afraid of working with yeast.  After I learned how to make it, I made it quite a few times, but over the years I'd gotten out of the habit of making bread.  But thankfully for us, we live near some great friends of ours who make this bread weekly and would often bring a loaf of it over to us.  My kids would be ecstatic - "It's Z bread, it's Z bread!"  (Their last name starts with a Z).  If slathered with an appropriate amount of butter, they would even choose it over dessert.  Now that's saying a lot.  I finally got the hint and have started making this bread again.  Maybe I can get the kids to name it after our family someday, but probably not.

This is an easy bread to make, especially if you have a KitchenAid or Bosch to do the kneading for you, so give it a try.  It's great for sandwiches or all by itself.

2 1/4 C. hot water (I microwave mine for about 1 1/2 minutes)
1/3 C. powdered milk
1/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. molasses
1/4 C. honey
1 Tbsp. salt
1/3 C. vegetable oil
1 C. bread flour
2 1/2 C. white flour
2 Tbsp. yeast
3 1/2 C. wheat flour

Mix hot water, powdered milk, sugar, molasses, honey, salt, oil, bread flour and white flour.  Beat for 2 to 3 minutes in a heavy duty mixer (KitchenAid or Bosch). Add yeast about halfway through the mixing time.  Add wheat flour (don't add last 1/2 cup or so if it seems that the dough is too dry).  Knead on a floured surface 50-75 turns, or in your machine for 2-3 minutes.  Put dough into a greased bowl.  Cover and allow to rise until double (about an hour).  Punch down, divide in half, form loaves and place in greased bread pans. Cover and allow to rise until doubled.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.  Makes 2 loaves.

Source: Modified slightly from Karen H.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Layer Cake

At church we had a chili & dessert cook off for Halloween.  I wanted to try something new so I searched out recipes and found this one at www.marthastewart.com .  The picture above is actually the picture from her site.  I had to use it because I FORGOT TO TAKE A FINAL PICTURE!!  I was so mad at myself.  It was such a rush to get everything together for the contest that I forgot the final one. ugh.  But, I have to say that my  picture would have looked very similar.  I thought it would be difficult to get the edges to look so nice and smooth but the cake cut very cleanly and so did the frosting.  Very easy to make this look clean and elegant. (by the way, I won the dessert prize)  Don't think that because it has a Halloween type decoration on it that this dessert is only for that holiday.  You can make any kind of design with the sugar you want, or omit that all together.  This is a great special occasion dessert. 


  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for sheet
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder  ( I did not use this)
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 2 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet, and line with parchment paper. Butter lining. Dust bottom and sides with flour; tap out excess
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk together chocolate, coffee, and boiling water in a separate bowl; set aside.
  3. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add sour cream; beat until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture.
  4. Whisk chocolate mixture again; add to batter. Beat until smooth.
  5. Pour batter into prepared sheet. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely in sheet on a wire rack.
  6. Invert cake onto a rimless baking sheet; peel off parchment. Halve widthwise. Spread half of buttercream on top of one layer. Top frosted layer with second cake layer; coat cake with remaining frosting. Refrigerate 1 hour. Cut into 12 squares; garnish each serving with a caramelized cobweb.
  7. This is what it looks like when you frost it and put it in the fridge.  See how the edges are a bit rough....well, after it has chilled, take a long serrated knife and trim the edges and it comes out perfect.  Plus, you get to eat all the edge pieces!  YUM!  

Caramel Butter cream


  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 6 large egg whites
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Make caramel: Pour 1/4 cup water into a medium heavy-bottom saucepan. Add 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear. Continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush two or three times to prevent crystals from forming. Let syrup boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until syrup is dark amber.

  1. Immediately remove from heat; carefully pour in cream (caramel will bubble vigorously). Stir caramel until smooth. Transfer to a bowl; let cool.

  1. Whisk together remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, the egg whites, and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water; whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

  1. Return bowl to mixer; fit mixer with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff. Reduce speed to medium low; add butter, a few tablespoons at a time. Continue whisking until smooth.

  1. Switch to paddle attachment. Add caramel and vanilla; beat on lowest speed until combined, 3 to 5 minutes.

Caramelized Cobwebs


  • Unsalted butter, for parchment paper
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick (6 inches) black licorice, for garnish (optional)


  1. Lightly butter two large sheets of parchment paper; set aside. Prepare a large ice water bath; set aside.
  2. Pour 3 tablespoons water into a medium heavy-bottom saucepan. Add sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and syrup is clear. Continue to cook, without stirring, until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush two or three times to prevent crystals from forming. Let syrup boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until syrup is medium amber.
  3. Immediately remove from heat; set pan into ice-water bath to stop the cooking.
  4. Working quickly, drizzle caramel with a spoon onto buttered parchment paper, forming cobwebs. If the syrup is thin and runs too quickly, let it cool a bit longer. Alternatively, if the syrup is thick and slow to drizzle, reheat it gently. Garnish with small licorice spiders if desired.
  5. To make the licorice spiders, cut licorice into twelve 1/2-inch pieces; split horizontally. On each end, cut out two triangles, forming an M. On each side, cut out one triangle from middle. Use caramel to stick to webs. Let stand until hardened and cooled.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Kevin's Bread"

Submitted by Lisa

(Kevin made the bread in this picture)

I am calling this bread "Kevin's bread" because Kevin is the one who taught me how to make it!  I don't know where the recipe comes from other than that, but it was delicious.  Kevin is a 14 yr old boy from church.  Yes, you read that right.  He is the bread maker in his family.  I am not too proud to have a child teach me!

3 c hot water
3 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
*mix*  and set aside

12 cups flour
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp salt
1 c powdered milk
*mix*  and set aside in a bowl.

Take the ingredients below and add to the dry mix above.  With your hand, gently mix it around until it is all incorporated.
1 1/2 c warm water
1 c oil
yeast mixture

Once it is mixed together, cover with plastic wrap and set in an undisturbed place until it has risen to double it's size.

When it has doubled, DO NOT PUNCH IT DOWN!!
Gently break it into 3 sections.  Shape each section by hand into a loaf shape and set into a lightly sprayed loaf pan.  Cover with the plastic wrap and set aside.  Turn the oven on to 375 at this point to preheat.
When the oven has reached temp,(this should only be about 15 minutes of rise time in the bread pans)
 remove the plastic wrap and put the loaves into oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until browned 
and hollow sounding.  
*do not cut into the loaves for at least 30 minutes after baking...they are still cooking while resting*

This is a picture of the bread I made!!  I did it and it was so easy!
Thanks Kevin!

Mix by hand.