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Wednesday, February 18, 2009


My parents got me a wonderful present for Hanukkah this year. My mom and I got to attend a class at the Cambridge Culinary Institute. We choose the class "All you Knead (Bread Basics.)" It was such a wonderful time not only to spend the day together but to learn about bread making. We got to choose from a list of breads which one we wanted to attempt. As soon as we both saw challah on the list we knew that would be our bread of choice.

For my mom Challah is a daily occurrence, she eats it every morning for breakfast. For me Challah is a tradition passed from my grandmother to me. Every year my grandmother would make Challah for the high holidays, as she got older she could no longer make the bread, so I decided I would take over the task. The last few years I have been making the Challah, the same recipe that my grandmother made. I was never happy with how the bread came out. So I was really excited to learn about the bread, learn how to knead correctly and be able to make really good Challah for my family.


2 scant tbsp dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
2 tsp salt
6 tbsp honey
1 cup hot potato water
1 cup mashed potatoes
6-7 cups all-purpose flour

Egg Wash

1 egg
1 egg white
2 tbsp milk

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, stir in the sugar to allow to activate. While the yeast is growing you should boil your peeled potatoes until soft. Drain the potatoes remembering to keep 1 cup of the potato water. Mash the potatoes until fairly smooth.

In a small bowl beat butter, eggs, yolks, salt, honey, hot potato water and mashed potatoes. (For the class we did everything by hand but you could easily mix this in a bowl with an electric mixer.) Cool the mixture to lukewarm. Add the yeast to this mixture. Beat in two cups of the flour and stir to combine. Add the rest of the flour until the dough is soft and formed.

Knead on a floured surface until dough is soft and springs back when you touch it. (Add more flour as necessary.)

Place into a well greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap place in a warm, wet environment and allow to double in size. This will take about 30 minute to an hour. Turn onto a floured surface and knead the dough for another five minutes. Slice into 12 even pieces. (You will end up with 2 good size challahs. For the class we made 4 smaller ones.) Roll each of the pieces into strands about 14 inches long, and braid 3 together. You will end up with 4 braids. Place two braids on top of each other (ending up with 2 total challahs.) Make sure to pinch the ends of the braids together.

Allow braids to sit until doubled in size again. Mix your egg wash together and brush over braids. Wait 5 minutes and repeat the wash. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown.

The texture of this bread was very nice, however my mom and I agreed that it was a little lacking in the flavor department, so I think we are going to try this recipe again with a little tweaking.

Going to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts was a great way to learn about food and baking and spend time with my mom. I would recommend anyone in the Boston area sign up for a course (or two!)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs

Ben and I decided that we wanted to make a romantic dinner for Valentine's Day. Ben looked at me with those blue pleading eyes and smiled and asked, "can we have pasta?" "Yes, Ben. We can have pasta," I replied.

Ben had bought me Ellie Krieger's cook book almost a year ago and we still had not tried to make anything from the book yet. I picked it up and instantly saw the cover was spaghetti and meatballs. What a perfect idea! Since I don't eat any four-legged animals the turkey meatballs in Ellie's cook book were perfect.

They were super easy and so good. Oh yeah and healthy! I would definitely make these and eat these again. (I'm not a huge fan of turkey, but I was thrilled with these meatballs.) One whole package of pasta, bottle of sauce and these meatballs will serve 4 people.

Turkey Meatballs

1.25 lbs lean ground turkey
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup reduced fat grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 large egg
salt & pepper to taste

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients for the turkey meatballs with your hands until everything looks mixed through. Roll into 2 1/2 inch balls (Ben and I got 13 big meatballs.) Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until browned.

While in the oven start heating your sauce in a large sauce pan. (Ellie Krieger has a recipe for sauce in her cook book with the meatballs, but Ben and I were feeling lazy and did not want to buy all those ingredients to make the sauce so we just picked up a bottle of sauce. Any kind you like will work.) Also put the water on to boil for your spaghetti.

Once the meatballs are done place them into the pot with the sauce mix them in, cover and let cook for 10-15 more minutes. Cook your pasta according to the directions. Drain the pasta and plate. Top with a few meatballs, sauce and extra parmesan cheese.

I loved this meal. Yes Ben and I did do a Lady and the Tramp kiss. It was a great way to celebrate our Valentine's Day. We will be making this again.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chocolate Streusel Bars

Happy Valentine's Day! What more could you want on the day before Valentine's than an extra chocolaty bar. I think that these brownie type bars go a step further with the topping and the condensed milk center, they make them rich and yummy without a ton of eggs and butter as normal brownies have.

I've been on a sweetened condensed milk kick lately and I was more than happy to find a recipe that I thought would be perfect for the ultimate chocolate holiday. I found the recipe here on the Eagle's Brand site. They just looked irresistible. These will be making their way to work with me tomorrow morning to treat my co-workers.

Chocolate Streusel Bars

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1 egg
1 14 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, sugar and cocoa in a medium size bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Use a fork, it may take 5 minutes or so to get the right consistency, you want it all to look like crumbs. Add the egg; mix until well blended. At this point you can mix using your hands, I find it a lot easier. Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture. Press remainder evenly on bottom of greased 13 by 9 inch baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

While the bottom layer is baking, in heavy saucepan, over low heat, combine the sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup chocolate chips. Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Spread evenly over prepared crust.

To reserved 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture, add nuts, remaining 1 cup chocolate chips and white chocolate. Sprinkle the topping evenly over melted chocolate layer. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set. Cool and then slice into bars.

Yum these crazy chocolate bars are so good, rich and a little unusual. So if you are tired of making those regular old brownies, try these for a change. They (the people you serve these too) will love you forever.

Everyone loved the fudgy center of these bars but didn't love how crumbly the topping was. I would next time try and make it more solid like an actual streusel. These got an 8 rating out of everything else I've made them. (The favorites are still the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip and the Treasure Cookies.)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Turtle Pumpkin Cheesecake

Happy 24th Birthday Ben! Today marks a very important day in both Ben and my lives I get to make him a birthday treat. We have been together for the past three birthdays, the first year I made him whoopie pies, last year pumpkin cheesecake bars and this year I decided to go for the real thing and make him a whole pumpkin cheesecake. It is his favorite thing in the whole world, with an oreo bottom of course! This one came out great looking and tasting.

I was actually really proud of how this cake came out looking. It looked so professional and yummy. Ben loved it and thought it was the best cheesecake he ever had. Thanks to Peabody for the recipe. I made a few slight changes but it really came out fabulous.

Turtle Pumpkin Cheesecake

1/2 14 oz can pumpkin puree
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/8 tsp salt
10 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 extra large eggs

12 oreo cookies (liquified in a blender until crumbs)
1 1/4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

chocolate glaze
caramel sauce
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Blend the crushed oreos and the melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 7 inch spring form pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, vanilla extract, spice and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium low speed until creamy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. My mom told me that the smoother the cream cheese the smoother and velvety the cake will be in the end. Gradually add the sugars and beat until blended.

Add the pumpkin mixture and mix till blended. Add the cornstarch and mix just until combined. Add the eggs on at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Pour into the spring form pan and bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes in a water bath of one inch. The sides of the cake should be set and the middle should still be slightly wobbly. Open the oven for 5 minutes then let the cake cool in the oven for an hour. Take the cake out of the water bath and place in the refrigerator for another hour.

Cake should be slightly cooled at this point. You want to toast the pecans to deepen the flavor of the nuts. I used canned caramel sauce and just melted semi sweet chocolate for the topping. Place the pecans on the top of the cake and drizzle the caramel and the chocolate all over. Refrigerate for another 2 hours before serving.

Make this cheesecake for the people you love who love pumpkin cheesecake. They will in turn love you forever.

Happy Happy Birthday Ben. Hope you had the best birthday ever! Kiss.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Treasure Cookies

So these cookies are weird lets just start with that, they have only 1/2 a cup of flour, no sugar, no eggs and no vanilla extract! What kind of cookies are these? I had to make them and find out if they are good. I found the recipe on They were extremely easy to make. I made a few changes to the recipe and I think they turned out great!

My inspiration behind the few changes that I made were that I wanted them to taste like the Caramel DeLite girl scout cookies, and I think the tastes are there. Great new cookie to add to the bank of recipes.

Treasure Cookies

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup toffee bits

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

First you want to toast the pecans and the coconut, just to deepen the flavors of each. Make sure to not burn either one they should just start turning brown and they will each start to smell once they are ready.

Beat the butter and the condensed milk together until smooth. Add the baking powder, graham crackers and flour, beat until smooth. Add in the toasted pecans and coconut, then the chocolate chips and the toffee bits

Stir to combine, spoon onto a baking sheet and cook for 9-11 minutes. I got 21 bigger cookies from this batch.

These will be going off to the office as a reward for all the hard work that has been going on lately. It is not usually this crazy in the office but times are changing and big things have been happening, so everyone has been working very hard. It is time to reward everyone. :)

Everyone at work loved them, they were a bit hit. So next time you need something a little different make these and they will be enjoyed by all!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy 1st Birthday Smart Cookie! My blog is officially one year old. It does not feel like a year ago that I started it. Thank you all so much for following my blog, commenting and being a part of this. It has been a great experience so far and I can't wait to continue.

To celebrate I decided to make chocolate chip cookies, except add in something a little extra special Oreos! Yum.

I used the classic Toll House Cookie recipe and added some different chips and crushed Oreos to the batter.

Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup crushed oreo pieces
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy and light in color. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture, baking soda and salt. Stir in morsels and oreos. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto baking sheets.

Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Serve and enjoy for a special occasion (such as a 1st birthday!!)