Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lemon Slice and Bakes

These are my new favorite cookie and I can't get enough of them. I have made batch after batch since Thanksgiving and have a stash in my freezer. I just pull a few out to go with with my coffee or just because.  A melt in your mouth shortbread with a hint of lemon. They have a lemony glaze and I sprinkled them with silver sugar for the Holiday season. You can easily leave the dusting of sugar off or change it. My sister & her friend made Butterscotch Blondie bars with peanut-pretzel caramel-amazing!! I love salty & sweet. Both recipes came from the December issue of Bon Appetite' www.bonappetit.com. How can I refuse making them when they look so beautiful in the magazine? I am a sucker for photos of gorgeous food or home decorating. I think I buy my cookbooks based on the photos alone. I just can't help myself. As I was making up our cookie tray and in the hustle & bustle of prepping for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I was again thinking of the cookie list for next year, the gifts I want to make, the stocking stuffer's, menu planning and holiday decorating. I'm bad like that, enjoying the season now and already thinking and planning for the next! These cookies are great for any occasion, they double and freeze well.

I wish everyone a very happy and safe New Year's, I already have a cake idea for this New Year's celebration! I encourage you to keep a journal and keep entries of the many blessings God gives you and even the trials you go through. At the end of 2012, you will be amazed at what he has done for you. I am not much of a New Year's resolution girl. I am a list girl! I love making list, reading list, & get so much joy from scratching that one thing off my list. I have a journal for blessings & trials and one for my never ending lists, the bucket list, music, places to go, gift ideas, menu ideas, recipes to try, cookbooks and more cookbooks, home & garden, just about anything list!!!!! This year I will be trying to focus on Galatians 5:22 & 23 but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. With God's grace and strength I can have more love, joy in the life, peace about so many things, even in the trials, patience, patience, patience, show more kindness, do good to others, be more faithful in my walk, be gentle and have self-control. What will you be focusing on?

Lemon Slice and Bakes-
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (could change our for lemon and make them extra lemony)
4 large egg yolks

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
sanding sugar
food coloring (optional) if you want to color your glaze. I left mine white

Whisk flour and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat butter, sugar and lemon zest and vanilla in a large bowl, occasionally scraping down sides, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks; beat just to blend. Reduce speed to low; add flour mixture and beat, occasionally scraping down sides, just to blend. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a 10" long log about 1 3/4' inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 1 hour. Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Arrange racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap 1 dough log. Using a sharp, lightly floured knife, cut log into 1/4" thick rounds. Transfer to prepared sheets, spacing 1" apart. Bake until cookies are firm and golden brown just around the edges. Cool for 1 minute on sheet and transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough log.

Whisk sugar and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice in small bowl, adding more juice by 1/2 teaspoonfuls if too thick. Add coloring if desired. Spread or drizzle icing over cookies. Decorate as you wish. Let stand until icing sets, about 10 minutes or so. Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, December 19, 2011

A New Addition & Triple Berrry Pie

Welcome a new addition to our family! She arrived on Friday, December 16th. She is absolutely beautiful and greets you with a pie, my son's favorite of course, Cherry. I might have some competition though, her pie crust looks perfect. My husband has named her Sue B. I saw a bear similar to this on a road trip one day and was telling my friend about her. I thought it would be so cool to have a bear greeting you at our door with a pie. I'm all about pie you know! (Our Sue B is way cooler!!!) This was my Christmas gift from her to me, to cross off my bucket list and to move forward. Do you have a bucket list? I never really thought about it until Friday. Yes, I guess I do have a bucket list. Somethings I keep to myself and other things I share. My husband has helped me cross things off my list. God has surrounded me with wonderful family and friends, and through them he continues to bless me and they too have helped with my bucket list. God enriches me daily with His one and only perfect gift, His Son, Jesus!

The Christmas Story continued-
Luke 2:16-20 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manager. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. 

I wish you and your families a  Blessed Christmas and an amazing New Year. Thank you for reading my blog, for being an encouragement and a blessing in my life.
Triple Berry Pie-
Your favorite pie dough for a double crust
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup  hulled sliced fresh strawberries 
34 cup fresh blackberries
3/4 cup fresh raspberries 
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
milk for brushing & coarse or regular sugar for sprinkling on the crust

I usually like to make this pie when fruit is fresh and in season, but the frozen mixed berries have worked really well. Just thaw them and proceed with the recipe. This is also my son's favorite, and we can eat this together with just forks in hand. Yummy!!!!


Roll one crust in bottom of a 9" pie plate.

Combine sugar, salt, flour and cinnamon in a large saucepan. Add the berries and gently toss with the sugar mixture until coated. Add the water and lemon juice and cook over medium heat just to the boiling point. Stir often.

Pour filling into crust and dot with butter.

Roll out top crust and place on the top of the filling, or you can cut strips and do a lattice pattern. I just cut out some leaves and placed them randomly on the top of the berries. If you place a top crust, make sure to cut vents in the middle to let steam out. Crimp you edges and lightly brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. 

Have oven preheated to 350 degrees. Bake the pie until the berries bubble and the crust is golden brown about 45 minutes. Cool completely.

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, December 12, 2011

Whoopie Cakes

It's recipe of the month with Nicole and she picked whoopie cakes. I know that both our families love these and who wouldn't. A chocolate sponge cake filled with buttercream, and even better no fork required! You could just run out to your local bakery and purchase some, or check your pantry and see that you probably have all the ingredients on hand. We used the recipe from www.lorrainepascale.com. It's from her Baking made easy cookbook. We did some tweaking to the recipe to convert some of the measurements to American, adjusted the flour a bit and the end result was delicious! This is where a kitchen scale would come in handy, and one is on my Christmas list. You really need to be patient and let the cakes cool before filling them. I know it's hard with those chocolate cakes sitting there so pretty just waiting for that beautiful buttercream filling to be placed between them, but if you don't, the buttercream will melt. Baking is a lot like life. You need to be patient and not get ahead of yourself, let the ingredients work together, enjoy the process and the end result will be worth the wait. Whoopie cakes are love.

The Christmas Story continued-
Luke 2:11-15 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manager. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rest." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

I know that lots of people are starting their cookie baking and that cookie exchanges are getting going. If you are attending a  cookie exchange, encourage your group to bring an extra dozen. Make a cookie tray and donate it to a local nursing home, hospice or food pantry. You and your family could also make a cookie tray with your baked goods and drop one off together. If you are not a baker, why not pick up a box of cookies or doughnuts at your local bakery and drop them off?

Whoopie Cakes-
120 ml (4.2 fl oz) milk
190 g (6.7 oz) Demerara sugar (we used brown sugar at just about a cup)
120 ml (4.2 fl oz) sour cream (a little more that a 1/2 cup)
180 g (6.3 oz) all purpose flour (we used about 2 cups to make a cake like batter)
55 g (1.9 oz) cocoa powder (we used a heaping 2 Tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
4 drops of vanilla extract (we used about 2 teaspoons)
115 ml (4 fl oz) sunflower oil or regular cooking oil (just under a 1/2 cup)

Buttercream filling-
200 g (7 oz) softened unsalted butter
400 g (14.1 oz) confectioners' sugar (we used about 2 cups)
1 Tablespoon milk


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Heat the milk gently in a small saucepan, add the sugar, then take off the heat and add the sour cream. Stir to combine. Leave to cool to body temperature.

Put flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt together in a large bowl. Once the milk mixture has cooled add the eggs, vanilla and oil. Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and fold gently. (This is where you might have to add a bit more flour to get the right consistency.)

You could transfer this mixture to a piping bag and pipe just about 2" circles on your cookie sheet or do as we did and scooped it out. They will spread out as they bake. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean.

Cool Completely!! This would be a good time to clean up your mess, start or fold laundry, pick up.....etc., etc.

Make the buttercream filling by beating all ingredients together until light and fluffy adding a touch more milk to get a spreadable consistency.

Once the whoopie cakes have cooled frost one bottom half and top with another cake. Repeat with the rest of the cakes.

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, December 5, 2011

Baked Skillet Cookie

First, and foremost do you not love cast iron skillets? This pan was handed down to me by my Aunt. I love it and use it almost daily. It has a permanent place on our stove top. It is extremely versatile. You can make eggs, skillet chili, cornbread, one dish chicken pot pie, you'll be telling those salt potatoes to move over and make room for the best skillet potatoes you've ever had! It goes from stove to oven to table, and makes amazing campfire meatballs and fruit cobblers on the grill. I love that you can make a dish in it and serve it at the table. Rustic, elegant and never ever goes out of style. The ease of clean up is a breeze with warm water and a little kosher salt to use as an abrasive. Wipe dry and coat with a thin layer of cooking oil and back on the stove it goes. These pans are like cheese and wine they get better with age. If you don't own one, scour flea markets, local five & dime stores or garage sales. You won't be disappointed and then you can make this baked skillet chocolate chip cookie. If you don't want to make individual cookies then this is the cookie for you. One batch of dough, dumped into a skillet and baked for about 45-50 minutes. Gooey, and full of melted chocolate. Cut into wedges, serve warm with a scoop of the best vanilla ice cream and some fudge sauce wouldn't hurt either. Amazingly delicious!

The Christmas Story-continued
Luke 2:6-10 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for ALL the people.

With all the busyness of Christmas, the shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, we sometimes forget about the needs of others. I encourage you to count your blessings and think of your local shelters, food drives and I know that some local schools collect coats & pajamas for children without. Just think what you might be able to buy if you gave up a few lattes or lunches out. Every year I remember our parents picking a candle off the local Christmas tree at the mall and purchasing an item for that individual. This year our youngest & I will be out doing the same. Maybe your office, local neighbors, or a group of your friends and go in and collect a small box of clothing or bring in items for a meal to donate. It will all be appreciated.

Baked skillet cookie-
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup softened butter (1 1/2 sticks)
3/4 cup light brown sugar1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda & salt together. Beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add egg & vanilla and beat well. Stir in the dry ingredients and then mix in your chocolate chips.

Scoop the cookie dough into a 10" oven proof skillet, spreading evenly out to the edges. Bake 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes, cut into wedges and enjoy. Delicious with vanilla ice cream or a cold glass of milk.

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sheperd's Pie with Turkey

I hope that you had a Thanksgiving that left you completely stuffed, and your soul filled to the brim of joy, happiness and blessings. This year I was debating on what type of turkey I was going to cook. I thought about just doing two turkey breast or a rolled stuffed breast. I sure am glad that my husband suggested the same turkey we have every year! This way we will have leftovers for soup, turkey pot pie and maybe a turkey alfredo pizza. Who doesn't love Thanksgiving leftovers? As I was putting the carcass in a huge stockpot to cook down (don't forget to add a splash a white vinegar to the broth while cooking, it helps extract more calcium from the bones), I realized that I am pretty much a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Even with some of the new recipes I've tried I always seem to go back to the ones we've had year after year. You know it's just tradition! When the carcass was done cooking, broth cooled and all meat removed from the bones, we had enough for soup and I decided to make this sheperd's pie, a twist from my mom's original made with beef. This recipe is pretty easy to put together, ingredients will depend on what you have on hand. I just had to make a new batch of mashed potatoes and some extra gravy. If you don't have either on hand I am sure you can find already mashed potatoes or gravy at your local supermarket. I love a huge pat of butter on the top of my pie that melts down the sides and makes a pool around the potatoes. A scoop of butter with every bite.
I love the account of the birth of Jesus and thought I would share a bit of the story over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas-Luke 2:1-5 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) Any everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth to Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. he went there to register Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child....

If you have a box of Cheerios in your cabinet, I encourage you to take a look at the box, I know on our box (purchased at a wholesale club) had two sending cheer postcards. Cut them out, write a note of encouragement, Thanks or Christmas cheer. Place a stamp in the corner and place it in the mailbox. This will be sent to someone serving in our Military. A few minutes of your time could bring a smile and comfort to someone who is not home for the Holidays.

Sheperd's Pie with Turkey-
4 cups leftover turkey cut into bite size pieces, or enough to fit in the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish
4 cups turkey gravy-homemade or purchased
2 cans greens beans-drained
2 cans corn-drained
(I used beans & corn but feel free to use whatever you like or have on hand)
8 russet potatoes, peeled, cubed, cooked & mashed
salt, pepper

Place the turkey in the bottom of a 13x9 pan and pour 3 cups of gravy of the turkey. Layer the beans then the corn. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the top and spread evenly. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. You can add a few pats of butter as well. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve this along with leftover stuffing, sweet potatoes & cranberry relish. Pass the extra gravy.

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, November 21, 2011


With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching everyone is focused on appetizers, dinner and desserts. I think that breakfast gets over looked. Often we get up and start on dinner preparations and forget to eat. By mid-morning your starving! You need to take a few minutes to sit and fortify yourself with something before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. Who doesn't love a bagel? I love them and so does my family. A dear friend invited me for breakfast and we had homemade bagels topped with cream cheese, smoked salmon and very thinly sliced onions, and they were delicious. I knew that my family would love these. With recipe in hand, I've been making them ever since. Bagels are easier to make than you think. Put some music on, brew a pot of tea and within an hour you'll have these done. I always make a double batch, cool, slice and freeze half for later in the week. Why not have a few minutes with your spouse, toast up some bagels, pour that coffee and enjoy some quiet time together before anyone else gets up and your days starts with the Thanksgiving preparations.

I wish you all a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving! 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  There is much to be joyful and thankful for. As your are preparing your dinner, be thankful for the income that provided the meal, as you set your table, thankful for the home you have, and thankful for each guest that arrives to share the day. For our loved ones that have passed, they are ever present that day. With the food we choose to serve, how we set the table and the wonderful memories we have of them. Our holiday traditions started with them.

Remember and give thanks to all the men & women serving to protect our freedom, and those working at the local missions to serve Thanksgiving dinner to many that would not have a meal elsewhere.

Homemade Bagels
4 cups bread flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/4 cups to 1 1/2 cups warm water

Mix the above ingredients in a bowl. The dough should feel stiff. Adding extra water if it is too stiff or if you can't get all the flour incorporated.

Plop the dough onto the counter and knead for about 8-10 minutes, until the dough is uniform and smooth. Cut into 8 equal pieces and let rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Take each dough ball and poke a finger through the middle and swirl around your finger to form a bagel shape. Let rest for another 20 minutes.

Boil a large pot of water and add bagels three at a time. Do not crowd them. Boil for 1 minute and flip them over and boil for another minute. (One minute per side). Remove with slotted spoon to a cookie sheet and let dry for a few minutes.

Place bagels on an oiled cookie sheet dusted with corn meal. At this time, you can sprinkle poppy seeds, sesame seeds, sea salt or dried onion flakes on top. Bake for 10 minutes on one side, turn them over and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool. If you are going to freeze them, slice them ahead of time and freeze in a ziploc bag.

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chocolate Truffles

I enjoy cooking and baking with my family, and I especially like it when they have picked out a recipe for us to do together. My niece, Nicole and I have been baking together since she was little. Starting out with homemade play dough, candy, cookies and cupcakes. This time she chose Chocolate Truffles from Barefoot In Paris. Yes!, truffles, a chocolate lovers dream!! She has wanted to make them for awhile, but thought they would be complicated. Much to her surprise they were very easy. The longest part is waiting for the chocolate to set up. Isn't that how it goes in our life? We think that things are going to be very complicated and when it's all said and done, it's not all that bad. These truffles are creamy, dreamy and very much full of chocolate. If you do not have Grand Mariner liqueur omit that ingredient, the recipe will not be affected. We doubled the recipe to share with family and friends and I am know that Nicole will be making a batch of her own to share.

Along our path of life, we are blessed with people who are like-minded or kindred spirits as I like to call them. Ones who share the same passions, love and purpose no matter the age. Philippians 2:2 then make my joy complete by being like minded having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. I have kindred spirits in my life, ones who share love for The Lord, talents, putting their families first and have joy in serving others above themselves, they help keep me grounded. Nicole is no exception, we both love to cook and bake, and we can talk hours about recipes, cookbooks and our favorite Food Network shows. She helps her mom prepare or cook meals for those they host from their local church. She will be picking out a recipe each month and will be posting it here as Recipe of the Month. I am excited to see what she picks out for December.

With the Holiday season fast approaching you could make a batch or two, they make great hostess or teacher gifts or gifts for anyone in your life that Loves Chocolate.

Chocolate Truffles-
Recipe from Barefoot in Paris
3 1/2 ounces good bittersweet chocolate
3 1/2 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 Tablespoons Grand Marnier Liqueur
1 Tablespoon prepared coffee
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
Cocoa powder
Confectioners' sugar

Chop the chocolates finely and place in a bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it boils. Immediately pour the hot cream through a fine meshed sieve over the bowl of chocolates. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted. (If the chocolate doesn't melt completely, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir for a few minutes till melted.) Whisk in the Grand Marnier, coffee and vanilla. Cover and chill for 45 minutes to an hour until pliable but firm enough to scoop.

With two teaspoons or a 1 1/4" ice cream scoop, make dollops of the chocolate mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, until firm enough to roll into spheres. Roll in cocoa powder and chill. Truffles are best when they're allowed to set overnight in the refrigerator. Roll in Confectioners' sugar and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes 20 Truffles

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, November 7, 2011

Apple Banana Bread

This is a favorite of my brother! I always seem to have a small stash of bananas in the freezer. Right next to the boneless skinless chicken thighs that I am in love with. I can't help myself, but every time I visit the grocery store, I pick up a package or two. We are apple fanatics and have a never ending bowl of them on the counter. Combining the two just seemed like the right thing to do. Dusting the top of the bread with broken sugar cubes tossed with cinnamon adds to the sweetness, along with some pockets of melted sugar.
The kitchen is filled with an amazing banana aroma while baking, and when the bread has cooled you slice into a surprise of little chunks of soft apples. 

I look forward to and enjoy each season that approaches as mentioned in Ecclesiastes 3:2, a time to plant & a time to uproot. Our fall has produced an abundance of fruits and vegetables. With apples, pumpkins, squashes, root vegetables and late fall greens, the recipes are endless! I know that watermelon and berries are not a match for the fall weather, but come Spring, I will be getting excited for those fruits & vegetables that mark the beginning of that season. Let us be mindful of the season of life God has placed us in today and be thankful for his abundance and blessings that He daily gives us.

As you are walking through the vegetable aisle, listen, those rutabagas just might be calling out to you!

Apple Banana Bread-
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons sour cream
1 mashed banana
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large apple, peeled, cored & diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease & flour a standard loaf pan.

Cream the butter and sugars together till light & fluffy, 3minutes. Add the eggs and mix well. Stir in the sour cream and the vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Gradually add this to the creamed mixture.

Gently fold in the apples. Spoon the mixture into your prepared pan. If you have them, take a handful of sugar cubes and a 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and place in a plastic sandwich bag. Gently crush the sugar cubes leaving some chunks. Sprinkle on top of the bread before baking. You can use two tablespoons of sugar instead of the cubes.

Bake for 1 hour, or until knife comes out clean when tested.

Cool, slice and enjoy!

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mom's Perfect Chocolate Cake!

Happy Halloween! The boys and I couldn't decide which Halloween treats we wanted to make this year. Ghosts in the graveyard cake has been our annual tradition for the past thirteen years, or a Boo-tiful Cake that we liked from Martha Stewart. We made both! Ghost in the graveyard cake recipe can be found at www.kraftrecipes.com and for the Boo-tiful cake www.marthastewart.com. I used the cake decorating idea from Martha and made my Mom's perfect chocolate cake recipe along with my buttercream frosting. It's cute, fun and the cake is moist, delicious and has a creamy filling between the layers. Remember Suzy Q's!!

When we are getting ourselves ready for the holidays, I often find myself quietly thanking our mom for giving my siblings and I a fun Halloween! I remember carved lighted pumpkins on the doorsteps, frosted Halloween cutouts on the table, dressing up, school parties, trick-or-treating in our small town and our last stop at the local Fire House. They would have hot cider, popcorn balls and doughnuts. Once home we would sort our candy, trade with each other, dump everything back in our Halloween pumpkin pails and off to bed. Our mom doesn't remember any of this, she is suffering with dementia, but I do. Fun stuff of the past, things I do now to make it fun for our family and hoping our boys will carry on in the future. I often wonder what she is thinking or remembering when I see her. I will not forget you it says in Isaiah 49:15. I know that God has not forgotten her, and when she smiles at someone she recognizes, he has given her a moment. I was surprised to receive a package in the mail containing one of my favorite candies, no one knows that I like this candy, but God knew! He knew that mom and I made homemade taffy for a classroom project together. He remember me with a gift from my past.

Mom's Perfect Chocolate Cake
1 cup unsifted unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups boiling water
2 1/2 cups sifted flour (sift before measuring)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

9 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter softened
1/2 cup milk or cream (more as needed)

In a medium bowl, combine unsweetened cocoa with 2 cups boiling water until smooth.
Sift the flour, soda, salt and baking powder. Preheat your oven to 350 and grease and flour three 9 x 1 1/2" layer cake pans. In a large bowl beat butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla till light and fluffy about 5 minutes. At low speed beat in the flour mixture in fourths alternating with the cocoa mixture in thirds. Begin and end with the flour. Do not overbeat. Divide evenly into the pans and bake 25-30 minutes. Knife should come out clean when done. Cool completely.

While cake is baking beat the cream, sugar and vanilla till fluffy. Cover & refrigerate till ready to fill the cake.

To make the frosting, beat the softened butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and milk to make a spreading consistency. Usually, it takes just about 5 minutes.

Assemble the cake by placing one layer on plate, 1/2 the filling, the next layer of cake, the rest of the filling and the last layer of cake. Frost top & sides and decorate anyway you wish.

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, October 24, 2011

Slow Roasted Tomato Soup

I have been on a quest for the best recipe for homemade tomato soup that my family approves of. Too many times the recipe calls for onions, celery, garlic, carrots, a little of this and that, and it seems they overpower the taste of the tomatoes. I needed a soup that was smooth & creamy. While reading www.injennieskitchen.com/  I came across this recipe. With the short list of ingredients, most of which I had on hand, including canned whole peeled tomatoes, it was placed on the top of my "To Do" list. I love the fact that it calls for canned tomatoes. October is for apples not tomatoes. As I walked in our kitchen while the tomatoes were roasting I thought I was standing in a garden full of vine ripe tomatoes ready for the picking! I could not wait for the tomatoes to cool fast enough to put this soup together. Since my family likes their soup on the creamy side I added more cream. I have two more recipes marked to try, but after just a spoonful of this soup, it's a keeper!

Is not tomato soup with grilled cheese, macaroni & cheese, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, chicken & biscuits and apple pie, the comfort foods of all time? One bite of any of these dishes and my body just says "Thank You". It says in 2 Corinthians 1:3 that we have a God that comforts us in any trouble so that we can comfort someone else who is going through the same situation. Isn't it exciting to know that you may meet someone who went through what you are currently enduring, and they can offer words of encouragement and hope. "This too shall pass", I often hear echoing in my head, and with time it does, bringing more faith, strength and wisdom for next hurdle. An endless circle of giving comfort and receiving comfort. With your eyes and ears open, you may be a comfort to someone along the way. This person may become of friend of a lifetime. That's how I met one of my dearest friends. Thanking God above for a true treasure in the darkness!

This soup is worth keeping your pantry stocked with canned whole peeled tomatoes!

Slow Roasted Tomato Soup
One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (mine had basil added)
salt & pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
drizzle of olive oil, just about 2 teaspoons
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (I had chicken broth in my pantry and used that)
1 1/2 cups reserved tomato juice
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used a pint)
croutons or crackers


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty foil; set aside.

Drain tomatoes, saving the juices for the soup. Slice the tomatoes in half and place cut side up on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper & brown sugar. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for one hour. Remove tray and cool for 10 minutes. 

Transfer cooled tomatoes to blender, add the stock and blend until smooth. Pour into a soup pot and heat until warm. Stir in the cream and warm for about a minute. Serve with croutons or crackers. I placed all my ingredients in a soup pot & used my immersion blender. This made enough for four with sandwiches, if you want leftovers, double the recipe.

Eat Well, Sonya

Monday, October 17, 2011

Raspberry Coffee Cake

October is breast cancer awareness month, and in honor of my Mother-in-law, Jean, I made this raspberry coffee cake. I remember a Christmas day when my Sister-in-law and her made this together. It was delicious and I've loved it ever since. One bite and I remembered just how darn good it is. There is just something about coffee cake! The cake is light, and the raspberry filling with confectioners' glaze adds just the right amount of sweetness. You can have it ready in just about 30 minutes and it's perfect for that afternoon coffee break.

My Mother-in-law was kind, gracious and very giving woman. She loved her family, the lake and NYC. For me she lived Ephesians 5:9-consisting of goodness, righteousness and truth. Also Titus 2:3-teaching women to love their families and to be busy at home.  She taught me many things as I observed her life, such as keeping the house quiet while someone is sleeping, and just "let them sleep themselves out". A faithful servant at her local church she gave above & beyond, not just 1 Samaritan box but several. A  Christmas tree would go up every Christmas at church and she would collect warm clothing, decorate the tree with it, then  donate it to the local Rescue Mission. She gave a homeless man on her New York street, coffee and doughnuts, when there was a need she met it. "Real" cream for coffee she would say, and you can never have enough food at a gathering. Birthdays are a celebration no matter the age! Holiday traditions are important to pass on, as with setting a pretty table whether having a picnic or an elaborate meal. Jean had a card for every occasion, an area that I fall behind in, but my Sister-in-law excels in. I find myself doing many of these things in my life today. Jean was a Godly example to family, neighbors and her community. We are daily witnesses to people around us, what do they see in you?

Raspberry Coffee Cake
3 oz cream cheese-softened
4 tablespoons butter-softened
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1/3 cup milk

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk

Using a pastry blender or fork cut the cream cheese, butter and Bisquick until it resembles small peas. Blend in the milk and mix. Dough will be on the wet side. Turn onto a floured board and knead a few times. Place on wax paper and roll out to a 12x8" rectangle. Turn over onto a greased baking sheet, remove the wax paper. Spread the raspberry jam down the middle of the rectangle. Make 2 1/2" long cuts at 1" inch intervals down both sides of the dough, folding each slit toward the center. Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes. Just till golden brown. Cool. Combine the glaze ingredients mixing until smooth and drizzle over the coffee cake. To serve I cut down the middle and then across separating each cut.

Double the recipe and pass one on.

Eat Well, Sonya


Monday, October 10, 2011

Slab Pie!

Never heard of it? Neither have I, until I came across this recipe featured in the Special issue of Everyday Food. As soon as I read the recipe I knew exactly who I was going to make this for and why. You see, a friend of mine is in the process of building her first house and the contractors were getting ready to pour the slab foundation. Well, a slab foundation needs to be celebrated with a Slab Pie!!
Building a house is huge and is much more than the materials. It's family traditions, love, laughter, tears, a place of refuge, a comfort zone where one is free to be who they are. I'm very glad that my foundation starts with my faith in God. Without him, I would fee incomplete. Isaiah 28:16

Please don't let the size of this pie scare you away. A whole jelly roll size! I wondered myself how in the world is this crust going to roll out? This was one of the easiest pies I have made. The crust rolled out beautifully and the filling was a quick throw together. Fresh peaches in August, Amen!! Homemade whipped cream was the garnish of choice. One bite and Oh my, it was absolutely delicious. It all came together, our August evening sharing Slab pie with family & friends, celebrating a foundation and the solid building of a continued future for mother & daughter. Congratulations! 

Is there something in someones life that needs a little celebrating. Try this pie. Swapping out peaches for apples or stone fruits would produce equally good results. Don't be surprised if someone shows up wanting to trade you a plant for a piece of leftover Slab pie!

Slab Pie
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 cups cold unsalted butter (4 sticks) cut into small cubes
2/3 cups ice water

In a food processor process the flour, salt & sugar until combined. Add the cold butter & process until mixture resembles small peas. With machine running add 2/3 cup ice water pulsing till the dough is crumbly and holds together. (If necessary add 1/2 cup ice water, 1 Tablespoon at a time) Do not over mix! Divide dough into 2 disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400.

3 3/4 pound peaches-rinsed & thinly sliced (12 cups)
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Toss together and set aside.

Lightly flour a work surface roll out 1 disk to a 12x16" rectangle. Roll the dough over rolling pin and carefully unroll over rimmed jelly roll pan. Pressing lightly to fit. Pour in the peach filling and light brush edges with water. Repeat with remaining dough unrolling over the filling. Press along the edges to seal & crimp. With a paring knife cut slits on to top to vent. Place pie in oven and reduce the temperature to 375. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling. 45-50 minutes. Let cool 1 hour before serving. 

Serves 12-14. To serve 6-8 people halve recipe and use a 9" pie plate.

Eat Well, Sonya