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Saturday, October 8, 2016

Easy Squash Soup

I planted 6 squash plants this year.  3 acorn and 3 butternut. I forgot how large their leaves get and how much space they take up.  I even had a sqaush vine and squash hanging high up in my Cotoneaster hedge.  It was my most perfect shaped squash.  
I like easy.  I came up with this recipe by using Alton Brown's basic recipe. With my changes this is the best squash soup I've ever tasted.  I don't usually mess with Alton, but this time his soup was laking something for me.  
You judge for yourselves!!  You can make it savory or sweet.  Just omit the sugar.  
I used spenda to replace the sugar so my diabetic mom could try it.  You can't tell it has a sugar sub.  
My changes to Alton's recipe were to use half and half instead of cream, (milk plus cream) less salt, no nutmeg, powdered ginger instead of fresh, a whole small onion, a tiny bit of ground cloves, and cinnamon.  You could make this dairy free by using coconut milk.  
I used acorn squash for this first batch.  Their flesh is a bit less orange than the butternut. 

Squash soup in Starbuck's Pumpkin mug

Alton Brown's original recipe for  squash soup with my changes in CAPS below.         


3 to 3 1/2 pounds butternut squash, approximately 2, seeded and quartered (I used 2 large acorn squash)
OIL Unsalted butter, melted, for brushing
SALT FOR SPRINKLING 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 cup honey OR ¼ CUP SPLENDA
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger OR ¼ TEASPOON POWDERED
1/8 TEASPOON GROUND CLOVES-tread lightly this is strong. 
1/2 cup heavy cream  HALF AND HALF OR WHOLE MILK
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the quartered squash onto a cookie sheet with rims, brush the flesh of the squash with OIL AND SPRINKLE GENEROUSLY WITH SALT. a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the white pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender-poke with a fork to see if it is soft.  WHILE SQUASH ROASTS COOK THE ONION IN A SMALL PAN WITH A LITTLE OIL UNTIL IT IS TRANSLUCENT BUT NOT CRISPY.  SET ASIDE.
Scoop OR PEEL with a vegetable peeler the flesh out of the SQUASH skin and place into a 6-quart pot. Add the  COOKED ONION, broth, honey and ginger. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree the mixture until smooth*. Stir in the HALF AND HALF heavy cream and return to a low simmer. Season with the remaining CINNAMON, CLOVES, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
*When blending hot liquids: Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway. If using a blender, release one corner of the lid. This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions. Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth.
Original  recipe courtesy of Alton Brown, 2003.  Changes made by me 2016.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


Well, almost 2 years has gone by since my last post.  I can't believe that much time has passed.  Dealing with other's health issues and my ebay store distracted me from baking blogging.  I also had not been to my Winter escape in Florida for 2 years.  Well, I was lucky enough to go this year.  I just returned from the Fort Myers area with a key lime pie agenda because after sampling probably half a dozen different key lime pies, I was not impressed with any of them.  

It was disappointing. Some too sweet, some too tart, some too cheese-cakey, some too sour creamy, some soggy crusts, crumbly crusts, etc. One slice was served at a fine restaurant and the key lime filling was grainy!!!  I called the server over to tell her.  She got the owner.  The owner said it is a frozen pie they thaw and they are well known for it-grainy texture and all.  I was shocked and so was my aunt. It felt like eating sand-not that I know what that's like, but I can guess now!!.  Neither one of us could take more than one bite.  

Usually my quest for a good popular pie takes more than one try because there are hundreds of recipes for it.  Not this time!!  I lurk on the Cookie Madness blog often because Anna has great recipes and many of them.  The first recipe I tried and altered just a little bit was perfect for me!!!   Tart, sweet, silky smooth, and with a crispy crust that contrasts deliciously in your mouth with the smooth pie.  Oh, and did I mention NO EGGS??? And did I mention lower cholesterol due to NO EGGS and use of YOGURT instead of sour cream???   I don't know why anyone would use eggs anymore when you can make a fantastic pie with out them.  And only 4 ingredients in the filling!  The original recipe I altered is found here on Cookie Madness    If you try my rendition of this recipe (or Cookie Madness' recipe), I'm confident you will not be disappointed.  What's especially nice is since there are no eggs, once you fully mix mix the filling ingredients together, you can taste it to see if it is tart enough for you before you make the commitment of pouring it into the pie shell.   
Just to whet your appetite

Smooth as silk inside

You will need the following ingredients.  I forgot to include butter and the larger lime in the first photograph.  You can use either graham cracker crumbs or cookie crumbs for the crust. Both options are pictured here.

I use a microplane for zesting the limes.  The lime I zested was a larger persian lime which is the standard lime available in grocery stores. 

My pie plate was too large.  It was a 10 inch.  A 9 inch would yield a little thicker filling, but still not high.  You can fix that by doubling the filling recipe below

Here is the recipe:

Preheat oven to 350

Use a 9 or 10 inch pie plate (10 inch will be thin like mine) 


18 Oreo Toasted Coconut sandwich cookies  (or an Oreo flavor of your choice)
4 Tablespoons SALTED butter - melted. (salted is a must as the cookies are sweeeeet) 
1/8 teaspoon salt or just a pinch

Filling: (May be doubled for a thicker, taller pie)
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk 
1/4 generous cup of full fat plain unsweetened yogurt
7 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice  (1 large lime yielded 4 Tablespoons of juice for me and then I added 3 Tablespoons from about 6 or 7 key limes I juiced)  Or you can use bottled juices.
1/2 Tablespoon of lime zest or more for zestier pie. (1 large lime yielded about 1 Tablespoon zest.) 

Redi Whip or make your own whipped cream topping 
Left over lime zest for sprinkling on whipped cream


Process the whole cookies in a food processor until they are small crumbs (or put them into a zip lock baggie and smash them by hand or with a rolling pin).  Pour into a medium sized bowl and mix in salt.  Then mix in melted butter.  
Press cookie mixture into the pie plate (I use the bottom of the one cup measuring cup or a small rounded bowl to press the mixture into the pan.)  
Bake for about 6-7 minutes.  

While the crust is baking and In a medium bowl add in the sweetened condensed milk, yogurt, zest, and lime juice.  Mix well to make sure yogurt is blended in-make sure you mix from the bottom of the bowl where yogurt hides sometimes!  
Pour into the baked pie crust and bake another 6 or 7 minutes.  You can tell it is done by taking the pie out and gently shaking it-it should not be too jiggly. I also saw some bubbles forming on the top so I knew it was time to take out.  Mine was set at 7 minutes.  DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE FILLING BROWNS!!!

Cool for about an hour at room temperature or until the pie is no longer warm.  If you don't want condensation drops to form on the plastic covering the pie (they can drip onto the pie and discolor it), after cooling for an hour on the counter put the pie uncovered in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Then cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  

If you use a canned whipped topping, don't put it on the whole pie, but just on each piece served.  That type of whipped topping melts after a while so it won't survive in the refrigerator overnight.  I learned that the hard way.  

Please let me know if you try this recipe!!

1.  I used a glass pie plate and my cookie crust did not stick to it. If you use metal or something else you might want to lightly butter or oil the pie plate so the slices come out easily. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Best Mint Ice Cream!

Haven't been in the posting mood for um.. a while!  Just had another snow storm and got 7 inches of fresh, heavy snow.  Ice cream makes me think of Summer and I need a Summer fix for sure.  I just made my SECOND batch of Cookie Madness Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.  I also completed my back-up plan:  I  found another never used, packaging- peanut- remnants- still- clinging- to- the- bowl Cuisinart ice cream maker at my local New Uses store.  To my dismay the price nearly doubled since the last $17 machine I bought.  I guess they did their home work. New ice cream makers are expensive.   Still, $32 for a never used $60 machine is a steal.
If you like mild mint flavored ice cream that does not have a dozen egg yolks in it, this recipe is for you.

Creamy, minty, chocolatey

My quality control tester Margo-I ran out of mixing room  so had to use the bathroom.
That's Margo's domain because it has the sink she thinks is her private watering hole. 

Here is Anna's recipe with a couple ingredient changes I made:
( I leave out the vanilla and add salt)

Utensils you will need:

Medium sized heat-proof bowl
large mixing bowl
Mesh strainer
fine mesh strainer to set over large mixing bowl
medium sauce pan
kitchen towel
heat proof spatula or wooden spoon
electric ice cream maker

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 heaping teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs (whites and yolks)
  • 1 cup whole milk or half and half or Fat Free half and half  (I've used both regular and Fat Free half and half.  Ice cream came out good both ways)
  • 2 cups heavy cream (divided use)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons peppermint extract (not mint — make sure it says peppermint)
  • 3 oz  mini chocolate chips, finely grated chocolate, or make your own (**I did this-see below)
  • Optional:  Green food coloring  and Oreo or another chocolate pie crust
  1. Put an empty container into the freezer to be ready for filling with your ice cream.  
  2.  In a medium size bowl mix eggs with cornstarch , sugar, and salt.   Set near stove.  (Tip: put the bowl on a kitchen towel so it will stay still while you are mixing in the custard below)
  3. Pour 1 cup of cream into a large bowl.  Set a strainer over the top.
  4.  In a heavy saucepan set over medium heat, bring the 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of the cream to a simmer. 
  5. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the simmering cream mixture into the egg mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan.  Reduce heat to about medium low and stir slowly, but constantly MIXING UP FROM THE BOTTOM until the mixture thickens – it should NOT come to a complete boil.  It should appear like thick gravy.
  6. Remove from heat and pour through the mesh strainer into the bowl of cream.  Slowly mix. 
  7. Mix in peppermint extract  and add 2 drops of green food coloring if desired.
  8. Transfer to a shallow bowl and allow to cool on the counter for 1/2 hour or so.  Then cover and cool over night or at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.  
  9. Mix according to your ice cream maker's instructions.
  10. Pour into the empty frozen container OR pour into a frozen Oreo pie crust and freeze for at least 4 hours.  
**  Per Anna's instructions I used 3 oz of dark chocolate (I used Trader Joe's)  melted in the microwave and then added 2 teaspoons of canola oil to smooth it out.   I spread it on a parchment lined cookie sheet until it was thin and refrigerated it for 1/2 hour.   Then cut or break up into small pieces and mix into ice cream during the last few minutes of churning.  Or mix in by hand after churning.   

Notes:  Leave out the mint, add a tablespoon of vanilla, and you will have delicious vanilla ice cream.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

KAF Flourless Fudge Cookies

OMG.  Who knew gluten-free deep, dark chocolate cookies could be quick and easy to make.  If you want a perfect dark chocolate, gluten-free, easy cookie to mix up, look no further. Most people don't have a clue there is no flour in this recipe. Just look at the photo below. They taste as good as they look!

These are so easy to make your five-year old could do it!
Here is my adaptation of King Arthur Flour's Flourless Fudge Cookie

Yeild:  about 24 cookies


  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon decaf coffee crystals (smashed fine with a spoon), optional but good
  • **1 cup cocoa powder, Dutch-process (or make your own) 
  • 3 large egg whites ( or 4 if your batter is stiff)
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free extract (I would use orange, but you could use almond,  vanilla, or whatever you like)
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup toasted nuts

  1. Have egg whites at room temperature
  2. Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray two large cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper and spray that with nonstick spray **(Make sure it is not the baking spray because that has flour in it).
  3. In a medium-size bowl combine dry ingredients with a wire whisk until mixed well. Set-aside.
  4. In a small bowl using a fork lightly beat the egg whites for about 10 seconds.  Mix in extracts.
  5. Pour the egg whites into the dry ingredients  and mix carefully until fully combined using a spatula to mix up from the bottom.  (Batter is supposed to be thin like cake batter, but mine never is).  Then mix in chocolate chips and toasted nuts.
  6. Drop by tablespoon full onto cookie sheets leaving at least 1 inch space between cookies ( if you don't add chocolate chips or nuts they will spread more so give them at least 2 inches space.)
  7. Bake for eight or nine minutes. Remove from oven and either let cool on the tray or wait a few minutes and then pick them up and put them on cookie cooling racks. 
  8. Store covered on your counter.  Not sure how long they last, but it has not been an issue here.    
I used a suggestion I read on the Internet on how to turn natural processed cocoa like Hershey's into Dutch processed cocoa.  Dutch processed cocoa has less acid and is more expensive.   For every 3 tablespoons of Hershey's natural cocoa you mix in 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking soda which is an alkaline. So for a cup of Hershey's natural cocoa (16 tablespoons) you mix in approximately 5/8 of a teaspoon. I think I may try using the Dutch cocoa next time, but these came out good. I just want to see if there is a difference.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Delicious Gluten-Free Orange Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies AKA Forgotten Kisses

I have been looking for gluten-free cookies recipes and recently came upon a post from Anna at Cookie Madness for meringue cookies.  Her recipe opened up a whole new world of meringue cookies for me.  Forgotten Kisses refers to leaving the cookies in the oven from a few hours to overnight to crisp up.  I altered Anna's recipe a bit, but as is they were great too!!!  
I am an orange and chocolate fan so I added some orange extract to the whipped egg whites. 
You can find her recipe at the link above.
Gluten free, less fat, and some egg-white protein too!  What's not to like?

Chocolate-chip pecan meringue cookies

My adapted recipe is here:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar (don't skimp)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  ( I made the cookies big and only needed one sheet. See tips below.) 
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until just foamy.  Add cream of tartar.  Continue beating until you have soft peaks.  Beat in the sugar a few tablespoons at a time. Continue beating until stiff, shiny peaks form (mine didn't get completely stiff. It looked like stiffer shiny marshmallow cream). 
  3. To make sure the sugar has disolved, take a bit of the whites and rub between your fingers.  If it is silky smooth, you should be close to done. Then beat in the extract. Carefully fold in the pecans and chocolate chips.
  4. Using a teaspoon, drop 12 mounds of cookie dough onto each baking sheet. Set one sheet on the middle rack and one on the lower rack and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. After 15 minutes switch the baking sheets so the sheet on the bottom is now on the top and the sheet on top is not on the bottom. Bake for another 15 minutes at 275 degrees.
  6. Turn off oven and let the cookies sit in the closed oven for about two hours or overnight. 

  1. Use egg whites that are at least as warm as room temperature.  I take mine out and put them on top of the oven while it is preheating.
  2. My stand mixer would not beat this small amount of whites so I needed to use my hand mixer.  
  3. Make sure you use at least a medium sized bowl because the whites will increase in volume as you beat them.
  4. Take a dab of the whipped egg whites and put some under each corner of the parchment paper to work as "glue" so it doesn't slip.
  5. Bigger cookies are a bit crumbly, but I think they are impressive-looking.  Smaller "one bite" sized cookies are neater.  
  6. I made larger cookies and got 13.  I baked them 45 minutes at 275 degrees.  
  7. You can try using mini chocolate chips if you make smaller cookies.
  8. Don't make them on a humid day unless you've got the AC running. 
  9. Don't eat too many.  They are suprisingly good!!  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What To Do With Those Frozen Summer Berries??

If you are like me, you found bargains on fresh blueberries and strawberries over the Summer.  If you are like me, you purchased too many and stuck them in your freezer.  Unlike me, you probably are using them in healthy snacks or quick breads.  
I decided to use them in ice cream.  No complaints from the husband, nieces, or nephews!  I made blueberry custard ice cream and strawberry custard ice cream.
I used the same recipe for both, but I used bits and pieces from 3 different blogs.  The recipes are a combination of Rich and Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream from Cookie Madness, Blueberry Ice Cream from Fine Cooking, and Strawberry Ice Cream from Joy of Baking.  


  • You can make the blueberry and strawberry sauces a few days in advance and refrigerate. 
  • Put a medium sized covered empty bowl in the freezer ahead of time so it will be cold when you spoon the freshly churned ice cream into it. 
  • If you are making an ice cream pie, pour the churned soft ice cream directly into the pie crust.  Don't freeze it hard, then soften it to put in the crust and re-freeze. If you do, the texture becomes icy.  At least it did for me.
  • Make scrambled egg-whites or an omelet with the leftover egg whites.  I add about a 1/4 cup of milk, some salt, onion, and garlic powder. I also add any leftover cut up meat or veggies. Beat it up, fry it in some olive oil, and presto!  You have a healthy meal to be followed by ice cream.

Blueberry Sauce:
  • 10 oz. (2 cups) fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup (keeps churned ice creams creamier than regular sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
  • Directions:
  • In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the berries, corn syrup, and lemon juice. Set the pan over low heat and mash the berries well with a potato masher or the back of a large fork.  Increase the heat to medium low and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes or until it gets thicker, stirring occasionally.  Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce while it is in the pan.  If you don't have one, use a regular blender or just mash real well.   Refrigerate until cold.  
Strawberry Sauce:   No photo :(  You will need to use your imagination!
10 oz of frozen or fresh strawberries
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the berries, corn syrup, and lemon juice. Set the pan over low heat and mash the berries well with a potato masher or the back of a large fork. Increase the heat to medium low and bring the mixture to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes or until it gets thicker, stirring occasionally.  Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce while it is in the pan.  If you don't have one, use a regular blender or just mash real well.   Refrigerate until cold.



Drumroll...the ice cream base:
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
1 cup less about an 1/8 of a cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks
1 cup 1/2 and 1/2
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (not whipped!!)

  1. Set a large bowl on a towel on the counter.  Pour the cream into it.  Put a hand held strainer on top of it.  Set aside. 
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat or whisk the sugar and salt into the egg yolks until thickened a bit.  Set aside.
  3. Pour half-and-half into a 2 quart sized sauce pan and bring to a simmer (bubbling a bit), not a full boil.  
  4. Slowly drizzle and whisk 1/2 of the hot half-and-half into the egg mixture. If you pour too fast, you will get scrambled eggs. Then pour the rest in while wisking.  Pour the egg mixture back into the sauce pan and stir constantly with a heat proof spatula (making sure you stir the bottom) until the custard thickens slightly and looks like thick eggnog. Be careful not to let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble. Remove from the heat and pour the hot custard through the strainer into the bowl with cream. Press the liquid through the strainer if it is too thick. Stir just until combined. Cover and refrigerate until cold or overnight.  
  5. Place an empty medium sized covered bowl in the freezer to put the ice cream into once it is churned.
  6. For Strawberry or Blueberry Ice Cream. Right before you are ready to churn, stir 3/4 of a cup of the chilled strawberry or blueberry sauce into the chilled custard, then freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When finished, the ice cream will have a soft-serve texture.  If you want it harder, transfer it to the bowl you had in the freezer and freeze at least 2 hours.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's Time For Ice Cream

Those 90 degree temps tempt me to think about ice cream.  As I was perusing the cooking section of New Uses, I found a Cuisinart ice cream maker for....drum roll please.....$17!!!   They retail for $55!!   It appeared brand new!!!  So I think to myself...hmmm..probably doesn't work.  New Uses has a 7 day return policy so I walked out with my ice cream maker and into the alien and blissful world of home-made ice cream.  But where to start?  There are thousands of recipes on line.  My go to blog for all things dessert is Anna's Cookie Madness.  She suggested this Vanilla Gelato recipe.  I liked that it was a simple, straightforward  recipe.  Plus, if my new, used machine didn't work, I wouldn't have wasted too many ingredients.
My first attempt was a success!!  **No scrambled eggs!!!

The recipe below is supposed to have a vanilla bean.  I don't normally have vanilla beans. I omitted it and the vanilla extract and replaced the vanilla with 1 teaspoon banana extract.  I tasted the custard after it was cooked, but before it morphed into ice cream .  Thought I'd gone to heaven!!

You need to try this recipe!!!  Also, pour your favorite chocolate sauce over the banana flavored ice cream.  You won't be disappointed.  One thing about the texture though.  Because it uses more milk than cream, it comes out a little less creamy than ice cream, but not too icy for me (there is a price to be paid for everything and less fat is no exception).  Once it melts a bit, you will know what gelato heaven is!

My new used ice cream maker and banana gelato!!
Adapted from Cookie Madness
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt-I used 1/8 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon banana extract
  1. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and salt until they become pale yellow.  Set aside
  2. In a saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture is 170 degrees F (just hot and no bubbles at all yet). 
  3. Slowly pour about half the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then pour it all back into the saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture reaches 185 degrees F or until the mix coats the back of the wooden spoon and sticks.  **DO NOT LET IT BOIL or you will get scrambled eggs. 
  4. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl that has a strainer on top of it (to catch any scrambled eggs). Then stir in the banana extract.
  5. Let cool slightly at room temperature and then chill thoroughly (at least several hours. I chilled mine over night).
  6. Pour into ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s directions. Freeze for another hour or so before serving.
  7. Tips:  A:  Have a clean bowl and strainer ready for the hot custard so you don't have to frantically yell at your husband, wife, housemate, or kids to get a bowl and a strainer at the last minute.  B:  To easily separate the egg yolks, crack them and then pour into your clean hands.  Let the whites slip out between your fingers into a bowl if you want to use them for something else later. Works every time.  C: Cover the custard with plastic wrap before you refrigerate it so that it touches the custard. That way no "skin" will develop.  D:  Serious Eats has good info. on ice cream and gelato and the science of ice crystals and other issues you may have with some recipes.