Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Happy

*coughcoughcough* Smoke alarm's almost going off. Some cabbage Ukrainian thing my dad made dripped and the house smells great. Just awesome. Christmas snuck up on me this year. It's different in college, at least it was for me. I was so focused on finals and my impending doom (just kidding...I think...) that I lost some of that Christmas anticipation I had when I was younger. Pretty much this year I got home, slept off the finals fatigue for a couple days, and hey, would you look at that, it's Christmas. 

So maybe some traditions and feelings will be changing in the coming years. But I think there are some things that probably won't change, at least as long as my brother the ham-monger is in the house. I thought some biscuits would be a nice accompaniment to the meal. 

I found this recipe while casually riffling through this massive Better Homes and Gardens cookbook my sister had. I needed some bread in a hurry, and so the biscuits were made. And they were...way better than anyone was expecting I think. They're good with butter or honey or you can basically eat them whenever you want. Hooray! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Thanks for reading :) Hopefully this new year will be filled with more cooking adventures. 
My lovely sister!
 Biscuits Supreme 
from Better Homes and Gardens


  • 3  cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1  tablespoon  baking powder
  • 1  tablespoon  sugar
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 3/4  teaspoon  cream of tartar
  • 3/4  cup  butter
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream    


    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milks all at once. Using a fork, stir just until moistened. Using a large spoon, drop dough into 12 mounds (I uh, made 25 smaller biscuits) onto a greased baking sheet.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Simple and Traditional - Mexican Wedding Cookies

Mm. My dog is cute. And she ate a couple tablespoons of raw ground beef.
Despite the somber look she has in this picture, Indie appears to be fine. She has an iron gut.
The house smells like butter and angels. Yes, I am familiar with the scent of angels. Angels smell like Mexican Wedding Cookies.

These were originally called Russian tea cakes, and they became popular in the US by the 20th century. But they changed the name to Mexican Wedding Cookies in the 50's. Y'know, anti Soviet sentiments and all that jazz. 

Apparently my mom "first had these at the international club in 7th grade." We've been making them for as long as I can remember. It's basically just butter, flour, nuts and sugar. So you can eat all the dough without salmonella fear. The texture is...crumbly. They kinda stick in your throat. Add to that the fact that they're rolled in powdered sugar and you've got yourself a great murder weapon if you want to choke someone. I'm not making them sound very appealing...they're good, I swear! Especially warm, and with a big glass of milk. I wouldn't lie to you about this. 

Mexican Wedding Cookies

2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup softened butter
1 cup ground pecans (stick them in the food processor or buy them that way) 
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Combine the first five ingredients, beat until everything is mixed together. It's going to look all crumbly. That's okay. Form balls with the dough and place on and ungreased cookie sheet. They're not going to rise or anything so you can pack them in. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Don't overbake. They will be disgusting. Let them cool for a couple minutes, then roll each ball in powdered sugar. Eat on a plate or napkin unless you want to look like a fool with cookie falling all over yourself. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rainbow Cookie Comfort

Readers, it's been one of those draining sort of days. Not like I've done anything physically exhausting, but my head is just tired. To get my mind off of things, I made rainbow cookies, a labor intensive but rewarding process. 
Mixer, I love you. 
For the majority of my life, these cookies were a treat that could be procured only when visiting relatives in New York. Sometimes, relatives would mail them or bring some when they visited, and those days were extra awesome. 

Okay, so once upon a time, my mom made a raffle basket for some school function. Oddly enough, she won her basket back. Thinking she would probably just give it to someone else as a gift, she put it aside for later. On a whim, she flipped through the cookie book from the basket, and lo and behold, stumbled across a recipe for "Italian Tricolors". Also know as Rainbow Cookies. So we kept the book. And lived happily ever after. 

The special ingredient in these cookies is almond paste, or I guess you could call it marzipan. It's kind of expensive, but it gives them their signature taste and moist, cake-y texture. It's worth it for a special occasion. They're supposed to look like the Italian flag but they're kinda just Christmasy. So the timing is perfect for you to make some. many cookies...know anyone who may want some? 

Rainbow Cookies

  • ounces almond paste
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  •  3/4 cup butter, slightly softened
  • eggs
  • cup all-purpose flour, Sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 15 drops green food coloring
  • 15 drops red food coloring
  • 2/3 cup raspberry preserves (pressed through a sieve to get rid of the seeds. You can also use apricot, that's easier. You just want the end result to be smooth.)
  • ounces semisweet chocolate
  • teaspoon vegetable shortening

  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Grease 3 8"x8" metal baking pans. After greasing, line the bottoms of the pans with wax paper, smoothing the paper down onto the pan. Grease the tops of the wax paper and then flour the pans. Put aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, Beat together on medium-high speed the Almond Paste, Sugar, Almond Extract and butter until well blended. (there might be some small lumps of Almond Paste remaining and that's fine.).
  4. Reduce speed to medium and beat in the eggs one at a time until blended. Reduce speed to low and then add the flour and salt slowly to the mixture until combined.
  5. Take two small bowls and add 1 rounded cup of batter into each bowl. (there should be another rounded cup of batter still in the original mixing bowl.). Add 15 drops of red food color to one bowl and 15 drops of green food color to the other. Stir each bowl until evenly blended with color.
  6. Spoon the untinted batter into one pan. With the back of a spoon, spread batter evenly (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick). Repear with red batter in second pan and green batter in remaining pan.
  7. Bake until set and toothpick inserted in center of layers comes out clean. 10-12 minutes. Cool in pans on wire rack about 1/2 hour. Cake should be cool to the touch.

    1. Lay a piece of wax paper on a flat surface that will be able to fit in refrigerator. Or garage if it's cold like it is here. Take the green layer and flip over pan onto wax paper. Gently pull off the wax paper. Spread 1/3 cup of raspberry preserves onto the green layer.

    2. Take the untinted layer and remove from pan. Place it onto the green layer with the wax paper side up. Press down gently and then remove the wax paper.Spread remaining 1/3 cup of Apricot preserves onto the untinted layer. Take the remaining red layer and remove from pan and place upon the white layer again with the wax paper side up. Press down gently and remove the wax paper.
    3. In a 1 quart saucepan (or uh, the microwave), heat chocolate and shortening over low heat, stirring frequently, until melted.Spread melted chocolate mixture on top of the red layer evenly. Do not put mixture on sides.
    4. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, at least 1 hour. (at this point, if you want, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days before serving).
    5. To serve, with a large sharp knife, trim about 1/4 inch from the edges. Cut the stacked layers into 6 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 6 pieces. You will get 36 square cookies from this. Keep in the fridge! 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's Beginning to Sort of Resemble Christmas I Guess.

Home for the holidays! It's weird to like...not have homework. I will take advantage of this new freedom. Prepare yourself for Christmas cookie posts. 
These are not cookies. But they are festive and beautiful. 
It's so nice to be able to sleep and cook and eat until your diaphragm starts pushing on your lungs so you can't breathe and uh...just be a slackeroni in general. On the topic of slackeronis (awesome segue, right?) I made some nice pasta sauce. Gotta reacquaint myself with the home kitchen. 
Even dinosaurs like tomatoes...
I'm thinking I'll make this for my friends for dinner sometime when I get back to school. This sauce is chock full of onions, tomato and mascarpone cheese. Swoon. I could (and sometimes do) eat it by the spoonful. If you don't know's the stuff that makes tiramisu all creamy and delicious. 'Nuff said. Serve this with some exciting pasta and bread and you're good to go. 

Tomato Mascarpone Sauce
adapted from

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
a bit of fresh, chopped basil
1 onion, chopped
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
salt and pepper

Put a little olive oil in the bottom of a medium sized saucepan, and throw the onions in when the oil gets hot. Crush the garlic and add it to the onions. Add the tomatoes and basil, and let it simmer. The longer it cooks, the better it tastes. When you're ready to eat, add the salt, pepper and mascarpone and stir until everything is mixed together smoothly. Add the pasta directly to the sauce. Serve right away, and with a little parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes if you so desire. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Most Hideous Gifts in the World

Ah, sorry it's been a bit. It's almost Christmas. But more on my mind right now is the fact that it's almost finals. Oh joy. To diffuse some of that stress and just cause I'm a little out there, I decided to have a white elephant party! 

Those biscuit tube things will never stop frightening me. They're so unpredictable. 
If you're unfamiliar with White Elephant (also known as Yankee Swap and Dirty Santa...) I will acquaint you. Pretty much everyone brings a horrible gift, throws it in a pile, and then picks a number to determine who chooses a gift first. The first person picks something out of the pile, and the second person can either steal their gift or pick a new one. And so on and so forth. Vicious rivalries can result. We experienced this. I won't go into details. 
Soooooo ugly! 
For this incredibly tacky tradition, I decided to make some all classy and refined - a baked brie! My mom always makes these for my dad's office Christmas party, so I guess I have this Christmas/brie association. Also, I was kind of afraid of them until recently. Brie, that is, not parties. Well, parties a little. Anyway. There's a lot of flexibility in baked brie, so you can play around with what you put inside. My mom does almonds and apricot preserves. I used walnuts and apple butter. 

Oh, and as for what I received in the exchange?'ll have to wait and see. 
Eat it with crackers! 
Baked Brie

1 uh, Brie. Like President brand or something similar. 
1 tube of crescent roll dough (or just the sheet of dough in a tube if you can find that) 
2 Tbsp (approx.) apple butter
2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350. Not 500 like I did. That'll mess up the cooking time. Roll out the dough, and put the brie on top of it. Don't try and pick the white stuff off, it's fine. spread the apple butter on top of the brie, and sprinkle the nuts over that. Fold the dough over the whole thing so it's all covered evenly. If you want to try and make it pretty, you can attempt that. Bake for 25-30 minutes (or, y'know, 10, if your oven is on 500. No. Don't do that.) until golden. Eat right away while it's all melty and delicious! 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How to win friends

My family visited this weekend. Seems like forever since I'd seen them last, even though it had only been a week. Car crash will do that to you. I miss the car. 
Once again, Rebecca cheats death
Yeah. Totally totaled. It's going to make getting baking supplies more difficult. But I'll survive. I'm glad I DID survive. If worrying about how I'm going to get eggs and chocolate is my biggest problem at the moment, I consider myself quite lucky. Oh, speaking of chocolate...I made something delicious. 
Some classy and reliable chocolate truffles. People will probably like you more if you make these. Bring them with you to an awkward situation to ease tension and make your companions think you're fancy. 

FYI...there's cocoa powder all over my stuff now. I might pretend it's not there.
Use whatever you like on the outside of the truffles. I used coconut, crushed pistachios (which I shelled by hand...kind of a pain) and cocoa powder. I bet cinnamon and a dusting of chili powder would be good. Or a little bit of sea salt. Or rainbow sprinkles! Hm...I may have to investigate. 

Chocolate Truffles from Joy of Baking 

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons  unsalted butter
2 tablespoons alcohol (Cognac, brandy, Grand Marnier, kirsch, rum, bourbon, or Kahlua to name a few) (optional) Yeah, I can't have that here. You could probably add some extracts if you wanted. 

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl. Set aside.  Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil.  Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir with a whisk until smooth.  If desired, add the liqueur. Cover and place in the refrigerator until the truffle mixture is firm (this will take several hours or overnight).
Place your coatings for the truffles on a plate. Remove the truffle mixture from the refrigerator. With your hands, or else a melon baller or small spoon form the chocolate into round, bite-sized balls. Immediately roll the truffle in the coating and place on a parchment lined baking sheet or tray. Cover and place in the refrigerator until firm. Truffles can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or else frozen for a couple of months. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Makes 30 small truffles.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Daifuku Love and The Journey Back

I practically clapped my hands when I saw it. That innocuous little bag on the bottom shelf at the grocery store, labeled glutinous rice flour. I snatched a bag and contemplated grabbing a second. You don't know how long and hard I search for this stuff. I check every new grocery store I step into. At this point, you're probably shaking your head and thinking, 'Rebecca, chill. It's flour. And weird flour at that.' Bear with me here.
My daifuku making work space. This is messy business, so prepare to get your hands dirty.
I've developed a thing for Japanese desserts fairly recently. And glutinous rice flour, also know as Mochiko, is the primary ingredient in many Japanese desserts, first and foremost, mochi. Mochi is just a glutinous rice cake made by pounding rice into a paste and molding it into a shape. It looks something like this. I have a few blocks of this type of mochi and will be playing with it at a later date. The other type of mochi is soft, and made with mochiko and water on a stove or in a microwave. 

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to make. I've made some fairly disgusting things with mochiko in the past, and I wanted to redeem myself. Finally, I settled on daifuku, little packages of sweet mochi traditionally filled with red bean paste (anko) or strawberries. But because I have a thing for pumpkin, and I found an awesome recipe, my filling was pumpkin. 
Cooking up the filling. It tastes like pumpkin pie. 
Let me tell you, this process is labor intensive. And sticky. Very sticky. To me, it was worth it. I'm glad my boyfriend was there to help me or it would have taken even longer. It is incredibly, incredibly important to keep everything well dusted with potato starch, or corn starch or something. 
Sticky sticky. 
If you've never tried mochi...well, I can't guarantee you'll like it. I love it, but I'll be the first to say the texture is weird. It's soft and a little bit'll have to try for yourself. I think it's worth the time if you can get ahold of the ingredients. 
The final product! Aren't they cute?

So. I was all ready to bring these back to school to share with my friends. When suddenly, an hour away from school, we got rear ended on the highway! Yeah! My car is totaled. A police officer brought us away from the accident, but he couldn't fit everything in his car. I tried to retrieve one of the containers of daifuku, but they had gotten all smashed upon impact. My parents are bringing the rest of my stuff from the car to me on Friday. If my daifuku are salvageable, I'll report back on what my friends thought of the result. 

Pumpkin Daifuku from The Anime Blog 


  • 1 15 oz can plain pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup white sugar, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg


  • 1 1/2 cup mochi flour (mochiko is available at Asian markets as a box with a blue star)
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar (sold as baker’s sugar)
  • 1 box of katakuriko (potato starch) for dusting hands and utensils
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Some beforehand tips:

1. Dust your hands and utensils often with the katakuriko. You DO NOT want the mochi sticking to anything. This stuff is super sticky so avoid getting it on your clothes or in your hair.
2. Create a daifuku-making space before hand by setting out a large cutting board, a large spatula, a round cookie cutter (I just use a drinking glass), a butter knife, and a bowl filled with a decent amount of katakuriko for dusting. Dust the cutting board, the butter knife and the spatula generously with the katakuriko.3. Clear out your kitchen sink. Since you’ll be cooking your mochi in a large pot, you’ll need room to fill that bad boy with hot, soapy water when you’re done to prevent the mochi from hardening up in it.

4. Don’t pour unused mochi down the sink. It’ll harden up and give you much grief. Instead, clear out any remaining mochi with a handful of paper towels and pitch it in the garbage can when it’s cool.
5. Use common sense; wait for the mochi to cool enough to handle before you start to work with it.

For the FILLING:1. Blend all the filling ingredients together well in a medium size sauce pan. Set the heat to medium low and constantly stir the pumpkin mixture for 10 minutes or until the mixture becomes sticky and resembles caramel. Do not overheat the mixture or stop stirring since you might burn it, i.e. make it taste like nasty burnt pumpkin sugar.

2. Line a small cookie sheet with wax paper and drop the pumpkin by rounded teaspoons onto the covered cookie sheet. After the pumpkin has cooled somewhat, roll the drops into balls and pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for about 20 minutes or till the balls are fairly firm.

For the MOCHI:. After the filling has been in the freezer for 20 minutes start making the mochi. If you’re using food coloring, combine it with the water at this point, keeping in mind that less is more. If you’re using vanilla extract toss that in the water with the food coloring and stir it really well. Then blend the mochiko, sugar, and water together in a large pot. I used a wire whisk to make sure there weren’t any lumps in the mixture.

2. Heat the mixture on medium low heat, stirring the entire time. Once again; keep stirring and keep the heat low. After a few minutes the mochi will start to pull away from the sides of the pot. Turn off the heat and pour the mochi (I’ve always had to help the mochi out of the pot with the spatula) onto the well floured cutting board.
3. Spread the hot mochi out with the floured spatula. Try to make it an even thickness.4. Let the mochi cool until you feel it’s comfortable enough to handle. Take the pumpkin balls outta the freezer at this time. Cut a circle from the mochi sheet using the round, floured cookie cutter (upside down drinking glass). If you’re having difficulty prying the circle up from the cutting board, slip the floured butter knife under it and wiggle it free.
5. Flour your hands really well and place the circle in your palm. Take a frozen pumpkin ball and place it in the middle of the mochi circle. Fold the edges of the mochi over the ball until you’ve sealed it in. Pat the mochi gently until it forms a round cake.
6. Dust the cake lightly with katakuriko and place it on a plate. Repeat steps four and five until the filling is gone, remembering to flour your hands and utensils often. If you have leftover mochi, you can just eat it or fill it with whatever you want. Thick jam, nutella, marzipan, I dunno. You can store the daifuku in the fridge for up to a week. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

But then I felt like we didn't have enough dessert...

Cause my cupcakes turned out to be more like muffins. So I thought to myself, 'Self, there isn't enough dessert here.' I glance around halfheartedly and noticing a loaf of Italian bread that was just sitting around taking up space. 
It sorta looked like this.
Hm. I've never made bread pudding. That might be fun. So bread pudding it was. It's pretty much like baked french toast. Great way to use up leftover bread and eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. This bread pudding pudding was of the chocolate persuasion, and it smelled amazing. Seriously. 
Kahlua is nice. But I can't exactly haul a bottle of it around at college.
Here's the thing about bread pudding. It's really hideous. Especially this one. Brown mush, appealing! I honestly avoided bread pudding for the majority of my life because it looks really unappealing. I wish I hadn't. Don't judge a food by its appearance...I seem to be trending towards creating ugly desserts lately haven't I? 
It's good, I swear!
Chocolate Bread Pudding
Recipe from Paula Deen 

  • 1 (1-pound) loaf French or Italian bread, cubed
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup coffee flavored liqueur
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract (You probably only need one. Almond extract is powerful. But it's your call)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten (!!! Six! I know!) 
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated (use chocolate chips. Who wants to waste time grating chocolate?) 
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
    Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch baking dish and place the bread in the dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, and liqueur. Using another bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, and cocoa powder and mix well. Add the sugar mixture to the milk mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla and almond extract, and cinnamon to the beaten eggs. Combine the egg mixture to the milk mixture and mix well.
    Stir the grated chocolate into the mixture. Pour the mixture over the cubed bread in the pan. Let the mixture stand, stirring occasionally for approximately 20 minutes or until bread absorbs most of the milk mixture. Bake pudding for 1 hour or until set. Check pudding by inserting a knife through the middle and it should come out clean.
    Serve the pudding warm, or refrigerate and serve chilled with whipped cream if desired.