Friday, January 27, 2012

Story Behind Dreamy Island Cookies

A couple of summer's ago I baked and sold many of my Dreamy Island Cookies at the Coonamessett Farm Store in Falmouth. I hadn't baked them in a long while and the other day my daughter Bella asked if I would make them. They have chocolate, finely crushed pecans and flakes of coconut.

The best time to eat them is warm, right out of the oven.

I started my small at home baking business from the first summer we moved to Cape Cod. One day I decided to take my kids to Martha's Vineyard for the day. It was a perfect summer day. We rode the ferry, had lunch and took a swim. I remember we walked by a large white house that had a beautiful blue glass collection in the window. We went into town and bought a new piece for their collection. We had the store clerk gift wrap it. We went back to the house and left it on the doorstep anonymously with a note that said, "to add to your collection".

It was fun to do something unexpected for someone else. The kids and I had fun sharing in something spontaneous. My kids are much older now and I hope from time to time they remember that fun day we shared.

On the Ferry ride home I decided I would come up with a cookie for my newly formed business that would reflect the fun of that day. I thought of the name Dreamy Island Cookies to remember that trip to the Vineyard. I am not quite sure which ones I like more my Celebration Cookies with cranberry, blueberry and white chocolate or my Dreamy Island's with pecans, coconut and milk chocolate. I suppose I don't have to choose.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Never the Same Pie Twice!

"Any time of the day is a good time for pie."- Fabienne, Pulp Fiction

My kids were home from school on Monday. It gave me a chance to get a few things cooked and baked to have around the house for the week.

I baked a Cranberry Apple pie (pictured here) and I realized that I've never baked the same pie twice. I always make it more from what seems most fresh at the market and what I have on hand than a recipe.

I used fresh cranberries, apples, lots of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon. If I use lots of fresh fruit it's bound to turn out yummy! I like the way the tart of the lemon juice balances out the sweetness of the fruit.

Last weekend, I was invited to a fun birthday party with a group of friends. We stayed at the fancy and well-known Chatham Bars Inn. It was a lot of fun to get away for a little bit. My friend asked me to bake something sweet to share and I decided to take along my Celebration Cookies. We went out to dinner and went into town to listen to a band. We ended up having the cookies with coffee for breakfast as we spent time chatting about the night before.

The cottage we stayed in overlooked the ocean and it had snowed but it was still bright and sunny. It was a perfect winter Cape Cod morning.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Do Try This at Home!

Here is the Chocolate Banana Cake I decided to make for Friday's Lunch Club. It was a perfect day for baking a cake-grey, rainy and overcast all day! I decided to share the recipe here and urge you to try it at home. Why? Because it tastes really good and your family and friends will be so happy you did.

It's an updated version of the recipe I have in "Meet Me in My Cape Cape Cod Kitchen" and I think it's my new favorite. I must admit, I was so happy when I started to make this today and realized I had everything I needed on hand so I didn't have to make a last minute run to the store.

An old friend used to sell her version of a two layer Chocolate Banana Cake to the restaurant we helped start when we lived in Dallas and every once and awhile I get a craving for a cake like this. It takes a bit of time to get this done from start to finish, but its worth it.

Recipe for Three Layer Banana Chocolate Cake

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

4 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

2 tsp. baking soda

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp. Vanilla

6 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed in a bowl

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3 9 inch round cake pans, set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until well mixed and add in the eggs and beat well. Mix in the sour cream and the bananas until blended and then add in the vanilla. Sift the flour and baking soda together and add to the creamed mixture and beat well. Divide batter evenly into all three pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes until baked. Cool a few minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely before frosting.

For Frosting:

4 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup natural cocoa powder

1/3 cup butter softened

4 Tbsp black coffee, brewed

Sift the powdered sugar with the cocoa then add the butter and mix on low until blended. Add the coffee and blend well until you find the consistency you want for your frosting.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Friday Lunch Club

"Food is not about impressing people. It's about making them feel comfortable."
~ Ina Garten, 'The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook'

I relate so well to this quote by Ina. It reflects the same basic ideas I've shared in "Sweeter by the Beach", "Meet me in My Cape Cod Kitchen" and the many articles I've written and published over the past few years like For the Love of Lobster, Fun & Fabulous Holiday Gifts, Comforts of Baking and most recently Food as Gift.

Sharing food for me, really is about making people feel comfortable.

Over the Holidays, I went to a party where an acquaintance told me about a Friday Lunch Club. She gathers girlfriends once a month and invites them over for lunch on a Friday. The idea is to make and share one of your favorite recipes, print up copies of it and send guests home with it so they can make at a later time.

I thought it was such a simple and fun way to get girlfriends together. So I've decided to host a Friday Lunch Club at my house this Friday. For this first one, I'm going to keep it simple: home made soup, a vegetable quiche and one of my favorite cakes that I don't make very often: a layered banana cake with chocolate frosting.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year, Easy Recipe for Chocolate Shortbread & Cake Balls!

"In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, but never in want." ~Irish Toast

I baked Chocolate Cake Balls yesterday (pictured here). I'd been so busy baking for others throughout the holiday season that I never got around to making these for my kids and they are one of their favorites.

I like the sentiment in the Irish Toast because my friends have always been such an important part of my life. I have a couple of friends that I am still close to today from early grade school. It is such a blessing to have good friends.

As for the Recipe for Chocolate Shortbread I wanted to share it here because I plan to bake it later today for a New Year's Dinner I'm making to celebrate my son's birthday. I'm making a black pepper roast, garlic mashed potatoes and a spinach & feta quiche. I thought the shortbread's would be something simple and yummy to go along with it.

Chocolate Shortbread

(with these you may have to begin any new year diets tomorrow)

1 cup butter

3/4 cup confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 ounces milk chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

2 cups all purpose flour

In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar, until light and smooth. Beat in vanilla and melted chocolate. Stir in flour until just blended. Spread into a greased 13x9 baking dish and bake at 300 degrees for about 40 or so minutes. Let cool completely and then cut into squares.