Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just Desserts - December 2009

Diva: Tamara

Drinks: Bonnie
Hot Apple Pies

Simmer apple cider with cinnamon sticks, cloves and cardamom pods for a few hours.
Mix in tuaca and top with cardamom and cinnamon flavored whipped cream.

Vegan Hot Chocolate

Lightly simmer 1 ½ large rice milk cartons with a couple bunches of basil, three 70% dark chocolate bars. Add 1 ½ canisters of rice mellow fluff in warm concoction and a dash of cayenne.

Appetizer: Aven
Best Toffee Ever

2 c butter
2 c white sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 c finely chopped almonds

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Allow to come to a boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, and the temperature has reached 285 degrees F (137 degrees C). Stir occasionally.

While the toffee is cooking, cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top, and let it set for a minute or two to soften. Spread the chocolate into a thin even layer once it is melted. Sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate, and press in slightly. Putting a plastic bag over your hand will minimize the mess.

Place the toffee in the refrigerator to chill until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container.


Carribean Coconut Rum Balls

2 ½ c cookie crumbs (I used sugar cookies with a hint of nutmeg)

1 ⅔ c shredded coconut

1 c walnuts, finely chopped

14 oz sweetened condensed milk (1 can)

⅜ c coconut flavored rum

1 tsp rum extract

In a large bowl, toss together the crushed vanilla wafers, 1 1/3 cup coconut and walnuts. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and rum; mix well. Refrigerate for 4 hours.
Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and roll the balls in the remaining coconut. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

(Altered from

Fudge Azteca

1 c butter

4 oz unsweetened chocolate

1 c cocoa powder

2 lbs powdered sugar

1 ½ c black beans mashed 

2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cayenne

1 ½ T coffee


butter and chocolate on stovetop or in microwave 

mix with remaining ingredients and stir until thoroughly mixed

spread in 9x13 pan, refrigerate until firm

Soup: Ashley
Champagne Peach Soup

serves 10

3 c frozen peaches

1 c fresh or canned peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced

1 c vanilla yogurt

1 T honey

 1T lemon juice

⅛ tsp ground cardamom

⅛ tsp ground cloves

¾ bottle dry champagne or sparkling apple juice

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Garnish with chopped mint, diced peaches and a drizzle of honey. Drink the rest of the bottle of champagne.

Salad: Lovina
Who says cheese can't be dessert?

Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese Patty, Sweet Red Wine Vinegarette, Fresh Pomegranate, and Pastachio Brittle

2 lbs mixed salad greens
1 pomegranate, seeded
Pastachio Brittle (see recipe below)
12 oz goat cheese
1 ½ c panko bread crumbs
Olive oil
2 large eggs
fresh cracked pepper
ground sage
½ tsp orange infused olive oil
2 tsp orange zest
3 shallots minced
1 c red wine (I used a good drinking cab)
4 T brown sugar
2 T orange juice
2 T pomegrate vinegar
sprig fresh rosemary

For the dressing:
Heat saucepan over medium heat with 1 T olive oil. Add diced shallot and saute until soft (2 mins). Add red wine, orange juice, brown sugar, orange zest, 2 tsp sage, sprig rosemary. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes until reduced. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature, then whisk in 1/3 olive oil and pomegranate vinegar. Season to taste. Refridgerate dressing.

For the Goat Cheese Patties:
In a mixing bowl, combine goat cheese with 2 tsp ground sage, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper and orange infused olive oil. Form goat cheese into 1 in round balls and place on a plate. Flatten balls into 1/4 inch thick round patties, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to fry. Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in skillet over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk eggs with generous pinch of salt and pepper. In separate bowl, combine bread crumbs with 1 tsp sage, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper. Transfer chilled goat cheese patties into egg mixture then dip into bread crumb mixture, shaking off excess. Place patties in heated skillet. Fry until golden brown (approximately 4 minutes) then turn and repeat. Transfer browned patties to a plate lined with paper towel/bag. Serve immediately.

Serve warm goat cheese patties over a bed of greens tossed with moderate amount of dressing. Sprinkle with about a T of fresh pomegranate seeds and a few pieces of pastachio brittle.

Buttery Pistachio Brittle

Cooks Note - this recipe yields FAR more than you will use for the salad recipe, so give a few treats wrapped in some fun gift receptacles to your friends!! ;)
Brittle candy studded with pistachios is a twist on the traditional peanut brittle candy recipe.

2 c sugar
1 c light corn syrup
½ c water
1 c butter
2 c salted pistachio nuts
1 tsp baking soda

Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and mixture comes to a full boil (10 to 15 minutes). Add butter. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until candy thermometer reaches 280°F. or small amount of mixture dropped into ice water forms a pliable strand (35 to 40 minutes).

Stir in pistachios. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer reaches 305°F. or small amount of mixture dropped into ice water forms a brittle strand (15 to 20 minutes).

Remove from heat; stir in baking soda. Pour mixture onto 2 buttered baking sheets; spread about 1/4 inch thick. Cool completely; break into pieces.

Cook's note to self....don't try to start shelling pastachio's at the same time you start heating the sugar or the mixture on the stove will get to temperature before you get the nuts in and your brittle will have a slightly burnt flavor which will require you to give your friends a disclaimer about the burnt brittle before they put pieces on their salad (LOL!!!!).


Side Dish: Colleen (absent)

Entree: Stacey
Berries and Buttermilk Puddings

1 tsp agar agar
1 c whole milk, divided
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 T sugar
1 c well-shaken buttermilk
¼ c dry red wine
¼ c water
3 T sugar
1 (3-inch) strip lemon zest
1 (3-inch) strip orange zest
1 Turkish or ½ California bay leaf
1 c quartered strawberries
2 c mixed berries

Sprinkle agar agar over ¼ c milk in a small bowl and let soften 1 minute.

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a small heavy saucepan and add pod. Add remaining ¾ c milk and sugar and bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Add agar agar mixture to hot milk mixture, stirring until dissolved. Quick-chill in an ice bath, stirring occasionally until cold but not thickened about 5 minutes.

Bring wine, water, sugar, zests and bay leaf to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then boil until reduced to about 1/3 cup, about 10 minutes.

Add strawberries and simmer 5 minutes. Discard zests and bay leaf.
Chill sauce, stirring occasionally until cold, about 1 hour.
Spoon sauce over puddings and top with remaining berries.

(From Gourmet, September 2009)

Dessert: Erin
Pumpkin Dump Cake

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (12 fluid ounce) can nonfat evaporated milk
4 eggs
1 c white sugar
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
½ c butter, melted
1 c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, salt, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Stir in the milk, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Pour pumpkin mixture into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle the yellow cake mix over the pumpkin mixture, then sprinkle on the pecans. Drizzle melted butter over all. Bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool.


Wild Card: Sara
Apple-Cranberry Phyllo Tart

½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for baking sheet
4 sheets phyllo dough (each 12x17 in), thawed if frozen
2 tsp ground cinnamon
5 T pure maple syrup, plus more for serving
4-5 apples, such as Gala, Fuji or Pink Lad, cored, halved and cut into ¼-inch-thick wedges
1 ½ c fresh cranberries (5 oz)
2 T sugar
Unsweetened whipped cream for serving

Preheat oven to 400. Brush a baking sheet with butter. Lay 1 phyllo sheet on prepared baking sheet; brush with about 1 T butter and sprinkle with some cinnamon. Repeat layering with remaining phyllo sheet and more butter and remaining cinnamon. Bake until crisp and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, core and halve apples; cut into ¼-inch-thick wedges.

Remove phyllo from oven; brush top gently with 2 T maple syrup. Place a row of apple wedges along one short side with rounded edges facing out. Make a second row of apples next to the first row, overlapping the rows slightly and staggering the wedges so that the rounded edges of the second row fall between the rounded edges of the first row. Cut wedges as needed to fill gaps at ends of each row. Scatter cranberries over top. Drizzle with remaining butter and 3T maple syrup; sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until apples are just tender (they should offer a little resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife) and cranberries have softened, about 25 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack to cool slightly.

Cut tart into squares. Drizzle with maple syrup and serve warm with whipped cream on the side.

(From Martha Stewart holiday sweets 2009)

Plus toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss for all!

Lottery: Mariah

Monday, November 9, 2009

Birthday Divas - November 2009

Diva: Erin
To celebrate Erin's birthday and the start of the 5th year of Dining Divas of the Palouse!

Drinks: Stacey
Cava sparkling wine

Raspberry Frapé
Add Sprite to raspberry sherbet and mix well.

Appetizer: Mariah
Deviled Eggs

Set eggs flat in pot, bring to rapid boil remove from heat and cover for 12-17 minutes, prep eggs for the devilish deliciousness === slice, mash and mix.

Mix cooked egg yokes light canola oil mayo and Dijon to taste and until nice and creamy -- add three pinches of white pepper and a few dashes of black pepper. After filling the egg whites with the yummy filling, sprinkle paprika atop the eggs and devour!

Soup: Tamara
Birthday Soup - based on the book Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik

2 onions, chopped
3 T olive oil
2 zucchini, sliced thin
4 carrots, roughly chopped
6-8 red potatoes, peeled and chopped
64 oz of vegetable broth
2 15 oz cans of white beans
1 bag of frozen green beans or peas
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice

In a large stock pot, cook onions on low-medium heat until soft but not brown. Add zucchini, potatoes, carrots and broth. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 1-2 hours.
Add beans, peas and tomatoes and cook for another half hour. Season to taste.

(You can also put shredded cabbage in it before simmering for 2 hours - i recommend green cabbage. The purple turns it really dark.)

Salad: Aven
Mediterranean Layered Party Salad

2 cucumbers -- seeded and chopped
½ tsp salt
1 c sour cream
1 c yogurt
2 large cloves garlic -- minced
3 c spinach -- washed and stemmed
2 c garbanzo beans -- drained
1 tsp dried oregano
2 T lemon juice
1 c roasted red peppers -- chopped
sundried tomatoes
½ c chopped basil
1 ½ c artichoke hearts -- prepared artichoke hearts, chopped
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1 c kalamata olives
Freshly ground pepper
¼ small red onion -- thinly sliced
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Place chopped cucumbers in a strainer, sprinkle with salt and place over a bowl to drain. Transfer to another bowl and stir in the sour cream, yogurt, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Fill the bottom of the serving bowl with the spinach. Spoon garbanzo beans on top and sprinkle with lemon juice and oregano. Layer roasted peppers and sundried tomatoes. Sprinkle chopped basil over tomatoes. Follow with artichoke hearts, crushed red pepper and olives. Spread the cucumber/sour cream mixture to cover the top.

Chill, covered, for at least 3 hours (or overnight).

When ready to serve, garnish the top with red onion, tomatoes and feta cheese.

(Aven decorated the salad to look like a birthday cake, cucumber/red pepper candles and all! Truly the most beautiful Diva salad ever!)

(Modified from

Side Dish: Ashley
Phyllo Squash Presents

roast a medium winter squash (I used kabosha) and 1 russet potato at 400 for about an hour.

In the mean time, saute:

1 carrot diced

½ parsnip, diced

1 c onion, diced

1 rib celery, diced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 T fresh sage, minced

When vegetables are soft, add about 2 cups of vegetable broth. Simmer to reduce slightly. Carefully pour into a blender and puree until smooth.

In a large bowl, mash the squash and potato. Add the vegetable puree and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Lightly grease a muffin tin. Preheat oven to 350. Take 4 sheets of fillo dough. Cut into squares large enough to put in a muffin cup with a hangover large enough to be pinched shut and have a decorative "pouf". Put the dough square in the cups and fill 1/3 with squash mixture. Pinch closed and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Entree: Lovina
Chicken Mole Poblano

2 dried ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 dried anaheim chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 dried chipotle chilies, stemmed and seeded
¼ c golden raisins
¼ c whole almonds
¼ c sesame seeds
1 T whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican, broken in pieces
1 T dried oregano, preferably Mexican
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 serrano peppers, stemmed and seeded
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Mexican, chopped
1 capon or large chicken, cut into 10 pieces (Quorn Chikin’ Cutlets for the veggie option)
1 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 c chicken stock (vegetable stock for the veggie option)
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 lime, juiced
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Cooked white rice, for serving

For the mole: Tear the ancho, anaheim, and chipotle chiles into large pieces and toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat until they change color a bit, about 2 minutes. Put them into a bowl with the raisins and cover them with hot water. Soak unti softened, about 30 minutes. In the same skillet over medium heat, add the almonds, sesame seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, oregano, and thyme. Toast for 2 minutes, grind in a spice grinder, and add the powder to a blender. In the same skillet over medium-high heat add the olive oil, onions, garlic, and serrano. Cook until lightly browned, then add the tomatoes. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 10 to 15 minutes, then add to the blender. Add the chocolate and the soaked chiles and raisins to the blender along with some of the chile soaking liquid. Puree, adding more soaking liquid as needed, to make a smooth sauce. (This makes about 4 cups sauce, the recipe uses 2 cups, the extra can be frozen).

Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and season it well with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet and brown the chicken on all sides; remove the browned chicken to a plate leaving the oil in the pan. Pour 2 cups of the mole sauce into the hot skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and return the chicken pieces to the pan. Simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the onion and radish slices into a bowl. Add the lime juice and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt. Mix well and serve with the chicken.
Serve over cooked white rice with the onion and radish salad. Garnish everything with cilantro leaves.

(From Tyler Florence,

Dessert: Tiffany (sub for Colleen)

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Sundaes

Chocolate Sauce
1 ½ c whipping cream
10 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

½ c all purpose flour
¼ c sugar
3 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1/8 tsp salt

6 T (¾ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c sugar
¼ c (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
¼ tsp vanilla extract
¾ c all purpose flour
¼ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
½ c semisweet chocolate chips
2 pints dulce de leche ice cream

Chocolate Sauce: Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate. Whisk until smooth.

Streusel: Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients in bowl. Rub together with
fingertips until small clumps form. Spread on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden, stirring occasionally, about 18 minutes. Cool streusel on sheet.

Blondies: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan. Using
electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in bowl to blend. Beat in egg, then vanilla.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt over; beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread batter in pan. Bake until golden around edges and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 23 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.

Cut blondies into 1-inch squares. Arrange 5 squares in bottom of each dish. Rewarm sauce; spoon over. Top with ice cream, more sauce, then streusel.

Wild Card: Sara
Chicken Pinata!

Lottery: Bonnie

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Breast Cancer Awareness - October 2009

Diva: Ashley

Drinks: Lovina
Boob Grabbers (modified from recipe on

Johnny Walker Red Label Whiskey
Bailey's Irish Cream

Mix 1 part Johnny Walker Red Label Whiskey to 2/3 part Bailey's Irish Cream.
Pour over ice and serve.

Pinkies (non-alcoholic)

Pink Lemonade
Acai Berry Sparkling Water

Mix together equal parts of pink lemonade and flavored sparkling water.
Serve over ice in a tumbler.

Appetizer: Bonnie
Cranberry Chipotle Chutney

1 chipotle in adobo sauce

2 10 pkg frozen cranberries

1 ½ c sugar

5 T lemon juice and zest

3 cloves garlic, crushed

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp cardamom

Put 1st 4 ingredients in a pot and cook over med-low heat until cranberries pop, stiring occasionally. Add last 4 ingredients and simmer until sauce thickens stirring often.

Use submersion blender lightly just to break up chipotle and few cranberries.

Room temp goat cheese with truffle oil to taste.
Mix and spread on cracker. Top with chutney

(Modified from Bon appetit Nov 09)

Soup: Mary Ellen (sub for Erin)
North African Chickpea And Kale Soup

1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced or diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
1/8-1/4 tsp chilli powder or cayenne
1/4 tsp allspice
½ tsp ground ginger
generous pinch saffron, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
3 c cooked chickpeas (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
8 c vegetable broth (or water plus bouillon)
1 large bunch kale, thick center ribs removed and chopped (at least 8 cups)
about 2 c water
salt to taste

Spray a large saucepan with olive oil spray and heat it. Add the onion and carrot and cook over medium-high heat until the onion begins to brown (about 5 minutes).

Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the spices, including bay leaves and cinnamon stick, and cook, stirring, for another minute.
Add the chickpeas and stir to coat them with the spices. Pour in the 8 cups of vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the chopped kale and stir. If necessary add water to cover the kale and cook until it is tender, about 10-25 minutes, depending on how cooked you like your kale. Check frequently to see if it is becoming dry and add water as needed. Add salt to taste and serve.

(From Susan Voisin at FatFreeVegan)

Salad: Brenda (sub for Mariah)
Edamame Salad

1 lb frozen shelled edamame (soy beans)
3 c frozen petite corn kernels
1 chopped red bell pepper
¾ c sliced green onion
½ c chopped red onion
¼ c chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 T chopped fresh oregano or marjoram or basil
***I used 1 tsp of dried oregano and it turned out fine

1/3 c lemon juice
2 T Dijon mustard
2 T olive oil
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp black pepper

Prepare Edamame according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside to drain thoroughly.

Combine Edamame, corn, red pepper, green onion, red onion, parsley and oregano.
In a large bowl whisk lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add veggies to bowl and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


Side Dish: Tamara (absent)

Entree: Aven
Pink Maple Ginger Pressed Chicken & Tofu

Press tofu, cut into 1/2" slabs, pour 2-3 Tbsp of pomegranate juice over tofu and let soak for 10 minutes

Fillet chicken breasts and cover in pomegranate juice

1/4 c maple syrup
1 T soy sauce
1 T pomegranate juice
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

combine ingredients and use as marinade for chicken
add 1 Tbsp soy sauce and use as marinade for tofu

Pound chicken between two pieces of wax paper.

Add a little oil to skillet on med-high and cook tofu/chicken until brown (~4 min), then flip and cook a few more minutes until done. Remove from skillet and add marinade to pan. Cook glaze until slightly thickened. Add meat back to pan and coat with glaze.

Garnish with pomegranate seeds

Turns out the pomemgranate juice did not make anything pink so feel free to leave it out.

(Modified from a recipe from America's Test Kitchen)

Dessert: Sara
Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes with Raspberry Chambord Buttercream Frosting

Vegetable oil cooking spray
3 c all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp coarse salt
15 ounces (3 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
12 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 c sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 T pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Coat an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray, line bottom with parchment, then spray parchment.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Place butter and chocolate in a heatproof mixer bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring until chocolate melts.

Attach bowl to mixer, add sugar, and whisk on medium-high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture.

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Spread remaining batter in square pan. Bake until set but still soft, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tins and pan on wire racks.

Frost cupcakes with buttercream. Cut out 24 hearts from brownie in pan using a 1 1/2-inch heart-shaped cutter. Top each cupcake with a heart.


12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
½ tsp Raspberry Extract
1 tsp Chambord
3-4 Drops Red Food Coloring

Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high). Add Raspberry extract, red food coloring and Chambord, and beat until buttercream is smooth. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

(From adapted from Martha Stewart)

Think Pink Cupcakes

2 ¼ c all purpose flour

1 1/3 c sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ tsp salt

½ c shortening

2 large eggs
1 c milk

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your cupcake pans with your choice of paper wrappers or liners

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Next, add shortening, milk, and vanilla. Beat the mixture for one minute on medium speed and scrape side of bowl with a spatula often.

Next, add eggs to the cupcake mixture. Beat for one minute on medium speed and scrape the bowl again. Beat on high speed for 1 minute 30 seconds until the cupcake batter is well mixed.
Spoon cupcake batter or put into pastry bag and pipe into your paper liners until about 2/3 full. Try to keep all the liners filled evenly.

Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean without crumbs attached.


Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting

1 container of fresh Mascarpone Cheese
1 stick salted butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon juice
1 ¼ cup powdered sugar

Combine Mascarpone Cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Beat cheese and butter until light and creamy. Add vanilla and then lemon juice. Add powdered sugar and continue beating until smooth. Once frosting is prepared, pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes.

(From the-cupcakery-blog.blogspotcom)

Raspberry Chambord Buttercream Frosting

12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
½ tsp Raspberry Extract
1 tsp Chambord
3-4 Drops Red Food Coloring

Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high). Add Raspberry extract, red food coloring and Chambord, and beat until buttercream is smooth. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.)

(From adapted from Martha Stewart)

Wild Card: Colleen
Berry Muffins

As wild card in the past I have typically contributed something that was non-food related. Knowing that we always have plenty of food at divas, I thought it would be fun to send everyone home with a breakfast item for the next day. Berries, flax, and citrus zest are said to be helpful in preventing cancer. I thought a mixture of berries would be fun so instead of using all blue, I added the raspberries.

1 ¾ c of all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat flour
¼ c ground flax seed
1 T baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
10 T salted butter (1 1/4 stick), softened
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ c plain yogurt
1 ¼ tsp orange zest
1 c blueberries
½ c raspberries

Adjust the oven rack to the middle-lower part of the oven. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar together, beating until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each one. Beat in the grated lemon peel.

Beat in one half of the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Beat in one third of the yogurt. Beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients. Beat in a second third of the yogurt. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients and then the remaining yogurt. Again be careful to beat until just incorporated. Do not over beat.

Fold in the berries. The berries I used were still mostly frozen but were separated. 

Use a standard 12-muffin muffin pan. Put in muffin cups. Distribute the muffin dough equally among the cups.

Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a long toothpick (we use a thin bamboo skewer) to make sure the center of the muffins are done. Set on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and serve slightly warm.

This recipe made about 18 muffins and I filled the cups almost up to the top. The mix was much thicker than I thought it would be, but they turned out relatively well.

(Modified from

Lottery: Stacey

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Memory - September 2009

Diva: Bonnie
Memory food can be both a spiritual and primal encounter. It's more than just a culinary talent; it blossoms the soul and leaves one feeling fortunate and nurtured, or perhaps wanting to bathe in the delicacy and making strange primal noises. It's different than comfort food which can be a numbing tranquility. When taken to the more sophisticated pursuit of memory food, dining is transcendent. It's a pervasive intimacy, inciting in those of us who love to cook a desire to know this art. I invitee and challenged all the divas to bring a dish that was nirvana to them....that was a Memory in their dinning experience.

Drinks: Colleen
Champagne with a Strawberry or Sparkling Apple Juice with a Strawberry

This fun, bubbly drink has marked so many memories in my life. My mom's love for champagne ensured that no big event passed without a champagne (or sparkling juice when I was a kid) toast. Be it a wedding, graduation or even just a Sunday family brunch, champagne is embedded in my memories. Elegant and delicious, it is perfect for Divas.

Appetizer: Sara
Mini Open Face BALTs and ALTs with Mustard Aeoli

Ellis surprised me a with a picnic lunch at work--it was BLTs and bubbly water, that night I went into labor and the next day, July 23 we had Camas Mae!

i used a brown and serve baguette
beelers peppered bacon
heirloom tomatoes form moscow farmers market
organic avocado from the coop

aeoli: I used the recipe from the Joy of cooking and added stone ground mustard from a jar

break two egg yokes in stand mixer with two cloves of garlic minced, pour in 2 cups of canola oil very slowly so the yokes, garlic, and oil emulsify (the recipe calls for one cup of olive oil, but I was improvising with help from my husband who is a sioux chef at Nectar in Moscow). I would pare this recipe down because it made soooo much that we will never be able to use it all before it expires--something like--

1 egg yoke
2/3 c oil of choice (canola or olive)
2 cloves garlic minced
stone ground mustard to taste

Bake bacon at 350 for 20-30 minutes, cut strips in thirds. Slice tomatoes and avocados and tear lettuce. Stack ingredients on bread, top with dollop of aeoli or straight mustard.

Salad: Ashley
Wild Rice Mango Salad.

I lived off of this during my freshman and sophomore years at Colorado State University. I have gone back to it many times over the past 14 years. I got the original recipe from a 1995 issue of Self magazine. I added the cayenne to give it a little kick. Depending on my mood, I will tweak the ratio of the ingredients but usually stick to what the ingredients are. This is an especially nice wrap filling.

1 c wild rice, uncooked
2 c shredded cooked chicken breast
1 avocado, diced
1 large ripe mango, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
¼ c scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup sliced almonds
2 T orange juice
1 T olive oil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp black pepper
salt to taste

Cook rice. Cool slightly. In a large bowl, combine shredded chicken, avocado, mango, red pepper, scallions, and almonds. In a small bowl, combine orange juice, oil, cayenne, pepper and salt to taste. Toss with rice mixture. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.

(Original Recipe from Self Magazine 1995)

Soup: Mariah
Spinach Soup Topped with Popcorn

This dish reminds me of my time in Quito, Ecuador. The sights, sounds and tastes were intense, unique and glorious! The smell of diesel fueled vehicles crowding the city streets, the hustle and bustle of 250 thousand people living in the city, the noise of the masses moving from place to place, the language, the music, and the busy-ness. The family that I lived with gathered at 3pm for food and chat; among other yummy dishes. Our maid, Maruja, made Spinach soup topped with Popcorn for our late lunch Popcorn on soup -- wild and wonderful.

4 T butter
one yellow onion
one head of garlic
2 pounds spinach chopped
4 c veggie broth
Several dashes White pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in large pot over medium heat saute onion and garlic, add spinach and stir until spinach is tender and reduced. Transfer mixture to blender add a cup of broth and process until smooth.

Return Spinach mix to pot, add remainding broth and season to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes and serve. Pop popcorn on the stove top and sprinkle on top of the soup.

Side Dish: Aven
Green Beans and Roasted Red Onions

My memory of this dish is from the first Thanksgiving I hosted after we bought our house. My parents and my in-laws came and I wanted to make green beans for Isaak's mom even though they weren't part of the Thanksgiving tradition that I grew up with. Isaak said his mom always made sure they had a vegetable (usually frozen corn, peas or beans) with dinner when he was growing up and I wanted her to think I was feeding Isaak as well as she did. I had never really loved beans, or onions, but this dish is phenomenal and definately changed my mind. I think it was my favorite part of the meal (except for, of course, my Mom's famous stuffing). I kept going back for more and more and more.

2 ¼ lb medium red onions (about 5) (*I used Walla Walla sweet onions)
¼ c olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar (*I used white balsalmic vinegar)
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper (*I used white pepper)
¼ c water
1 ½ lb green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
(*I also added some lemon thyme.)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Oil a 13- by 9-inch baking pan.
After peeling onions, trim root ends, leaving onions whole, then quarter onions lengthwise. Put onions in baking pan, then drizzle with oil and vinegar, tossing to coat. Arrange onions with a cut side down and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast, uncovered, turning over once and basting with pan juices twice during baking, until deep golden, about 30 minutes. Add water to pan and roast until onions are tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes more. Transfer onions with pan juices to a large bowl.

While onions are roasting, cook beans in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain beans in a colander, then add to onions and toss. Season with salt and pepper.

(Original Recipe from Gourmet, September 2004)

Entree: Tamara
Falafel with Israeli Salad and Tahina

My father grew up on the streets of Tel Aviv eating falafel from street vendors much like we would eat hot dogs from the corner stand. As I grew up we had falafel, not neccessarily for special occasions, but usually only when my mom had a little extra time for the deep frying. It was always a special treat. Today eating falafel means more to me. Now I see it as part of my past, my culture and my heritage. It has also become part of my future. It was the first meal I cooked for my husband back in the day and it's something to share with friends who have never had that type of food or realize it is an Israeli treat. I'm sure it will be something I will share with my son, in hopes of passing on the heritage and culture of his Saba, whom he was never able to meet.

1 c dried chickpeas (*I used two cans, drained)
½ large onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
2 T finely chopped fresh cilantro (*I left this out and added more parsley.)
1 tsp salt
½-1 tsp dried hot red pepper
4 cloves of garlic (*I used 6-8 cloves)
1 tsp cumin (*I used 2 tsp)
1 tsp baking powder (*I used 2 tsp)
4-6 T flour
Soybean or vegetable oil for frying

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and add enough cold water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Let soak overnight, then drain. Or use canned chickpeas, drained.

Place the drained, uncooked chickpeas and the onions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the parsley, cilantro, salt, hot pepper, garlic, and cumin. Process until blended but not pureed. (*Do not add any water to try to blend it better. This will cause the balls to fall apart in the oil.)

Sprinkle in the baking powder and 4 tablespoons of the flour, and pulse. You want to add enough bulgur or flour so that the dough forms a small ball and no longer sticks to your hands. Turn into a bowl and refrigerate, covered, for several hours.

Form the chickpea mixture into balls about the size of walnuts, or use a falafel scoop, available in Middle-Eastern markets.

Heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees in a deep pot or wok and fry 1 ball to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Then fry about 6 balls at once for a few minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. (*I deep fry them until golden. If you do it this way, after dropping them in, be sure they float and don't stick to the bottom.) Stuff half a pita with falafel balls, top with Israeli salad and drizzle with Tahina.

(Original Recipe from The Foods of Israel Today, by Joan Nathan.)

Israeli Salad
An salad is Israeli if everything is finely diced.

iceberg lettuce (or other crunchy lettuce)
green pepper
onion or green onion

Dice and toss.

Take a few scoops of sesame paste, or Tahina, and thin with some lemon juice to taste and enough water to be able to drizzle the sauce over the pita. Add garlic to taste.

Dessert: Lovina
Huckleberry Creme Brulee

One of my fondest memories of eating creme brulee, my favorite dessert, was when Bonnie came to visit me from Reno. Years of working in food service had made us both really appreciate the little variations that chefs put into their menu items at different restaurants. We went to Bricks Restaurant in Coeur d'Alene after I picked her up from the airport and we enjoyed an exquisite line up of food items from the yummy calamari appetizer, to the ahi tuna entree, down to the huckleberry creme brulee we shared for dessert. It was all SO good that years later, we still talk about the dinner we had that night. When I found out that the theme was "memory food", and I was to prepare a dessert, it was an obvious choice for me! Special thanks to Bonnie for providing the huckleberries that were held over from her summer picking adventures with Ashley and Ivy.

4 c whipping cream
1 c sugar (plus about 1/3 cup for caramel)
10 egg yolks
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ c huckleberries (separated in half)
5 bay leaves
big pinch of salt

For the custard:
In a saucepan, combine the cream, bay leaves, and vanilla and gently bring to boil (scalding the cream), allowing the flavors to infuse. Set aside to allow the cream mixture to cool. Preheat the oven to 325. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and pinch of salt in mixing bowl. Remove the bay leaves from the cream mixture once cooled (or strain through sieve). Place half of the huckleberries into a small bowl or cup. Using a handheld immersion blender, purify the huckleberries and add them to the cream mixture. Combine the cream mixture into the egg mixture, mixing just until blended. Distribute the remaining huckleberries evenly in the bottom of the ramekins (about 1/2 tablespoon each). Divide custard mixture evenly among ramekins. Place the ramekins onto a deep baking sheet and add enough hot water to fill the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully transfer baking sheet to oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until custard is only slightly wobbly. Remove ramekins from the water and allow to cool in refrigerator for at least 4 hours (ideally overnight).

For the caramel:
Remove chilled custard cups from the refrigerator and sprinkle each custard with 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Working with one custard at a time, use a kitchen torch or small blow torch to carmelize the sugar, resulting in a thin layer of light brown caramel on top of custard. Allow the caramel to cool to harden before serving.

(modified from Bon Appetit)

Wild Card: Stacey
Starlee's Avocado Chili Pepper Salad

My sister-in-law Starlee made that salad for us a couple of years ago and I fell in love with the dish. I love the combination of avocados, spicy hot chilies, and the cool tangy honey mustard dressing. I knew I had to make it for Divas sometime.

green onions - cut in 2 inch pieces
peppers - chili or alapeno - diced small
red pepper flakes

honey, dijon mustard, white wine, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. whisk together - set aside.

Roast almonds and healthy dash red pepper flakes in olive oil - in a hot skillet for about 10 minutes.

Platter Salad: layer tomatoes, then avocado slices, then green onions, then diced chilies, then almonds. Drizzle dressing over top and serve immediately.

Lottery: Erin