Thursday, January 1, 2015

winter wonderland chocolate peppermint cake

Desi and Lucy...
Mork and Mindy... 
Peanut butter and jelly... 

They just go together.  And in my opinion, chocolate and peppermint do as well.  I absolutely love the combo.  Love. It.

So does my dad.  

Poor thing has a birthday less than a week before Christmas, so he has jokingly commented about how it has always kind of gotten swept up into the holiday without much notice.  Years ago, I began making special cakes for him just so he'd know the day - and he - are special. Every year I try something different, although the base ingredient stays the same.  

I know I've mentioned it before, but Dad is a major chocolate fan, and I am my father's daughter.  So, truth be told, we've both been known to text one another when going through a DQ drive-thru... "Hey there.  Ordering a Chocolate Xtreme Blizzard and wishing you were here!"  

That kind of thing.

This year I wanted to try to blend two of Dad's favorite flavors together, but I didn't want the mint to override the chocolate, so I did a beefed up Devil's Food box mix, with a filling of rich chocolate buttercream between the layers, covered in a mint creamcheese icing.  I topped it off with peppermint "snow."  I was hoping for something to make it extra-special and wintry feeling.  The chopped candy cane and white chocolate did the trick.  I wish you could have seen it in person.  These pictures do not do it justice.

So this is a great way to use up leftover candy canes from the holidays, if you're searching. Actually, if I'm honest, I'm having a hard time letting go of the holidays.  I'm just not ready to say goodbye to Christmas 2014.  It seemed as though there was so much build-up and anticipation, and before I knew it, all had passed.  I am excited about the new year,though, and I'm hopeful for what God has in store for those I love.  He has been incredibly faithful and I am beyond blessed.

I am looking forward to another year of eating and sharing and comforting my family and friends with the gift of good food.  Happy 2015 to you and yours, and may God wrap you tightly in His unending love and mercy!

Now go eat cake.

Winter Wonderland Chocolate Peppermint Cake
For the Cake
  • 1 Devil's Food Cake box mix
  • 1 3.4 oz instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water or 1/2 cup warm coffee
~  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 9-inch round pans with cooking spray and line the 
     bottom of each with a piece of parchment paper.  Spray paper.

~  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix on medium-high for 2 minutes.

~  Divide batter evenly between the pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes 
     out clean and cake springs back to touch, about 25-30 minutes.

~  Let cool in pans 10 minutes and remove to cool on racks completely.  

For the chocolate frosting
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp milk
~ In a large mixing bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy.

~ Gradually add cocoa and powdered sugar until mixed.  Add in vanilla and mix.

~  Pour in milk and combine, adding more milk until desired spreading consistency is 

For the cream cheese peppermint frosting
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 pounds confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tsp peppermint extract
~  In a large bowl, cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.

~  Add in sugar, one cup at a time, and mix until combined and fluffy.

~  Add in mint extract 1/2 tsp at a time until desired flavor is reached.

For the topping
  • 3 full-sized candy canes
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
~  Place both candies in chopper or food processor and pulse until chopped.  I preferred not 
     to pulverize them and have some variation in the size of peppermint, but you can do as 
     you wish.  

To assemble cake:

~ Level off cooled cake rounds by using a large knife and slicing gently in a horizontal 
   direction.  Move one layer to cake plate.

~  Smooth a layer of chocolate frosting on top of bottom layer, making it as thick as desired.  
     I had some left over to refrigerate and use another time.

~  Gently place second layer on top of frosting and apply a thin crumb layer of cream cheese
     frosting on the top and sides of cake.  Follow with a full layer of icing, decorating as 

~  Sprinkle top with white chocolate/candy cane mixture.

Cake recipe from My Baking Addiction.  Chocolate frosting recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen. Cream Cheese frosting recipe from Southern Living.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

over-the-top pumpkin waffles

I have not yet tired of pumpkin this season at all.  I'll admit it.  Some years I do.  I don't know what is different this year.  Maybe I haven't had as much of it, or maybe I'm just changing in my preferences, but I'm still drawn to it even half-way through December.  

I know I've mentioned on the blog how much our family loves breakfast, and we really love it on a Saturday morning.  It's so nice to lazily begin the day in my dilapidated well-loved moccasins and pj's, hair in a top-knot and drinking a mug of coffee while playing around with whatever is in the fridge or pantry.  There's rarely a plan on Saturdays.  

Actually, there's rarely a plan any day, but I digress.  

Anyway… especially Saturdays, everyone has to go with the flow when it comes to meals.  

So when I decided to do pumpkin waffles a while back, and then while digging through the freezer stumbled upon some Pumpkin Maple Swirl Butter and Honey-Glazed Pecans, my typical lazy approach to breakfast suddenly switched into high gear.  I couldn't WAIT to try all of these flavors together and found myself describing them upon first bite as "over the top."  Each square indention of the waffle held the melted butter, syrup and pieces of pecans beautifully.  Every single bite was a joy.  

So, I suppose I just answered my own question regarding my continued interest in pumpkin well into December.  Seriously.  I say with recipes like this one, here's to pumpkin 'til May!

Over-the-Top Pumpkin Waffles
makes 4-5 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin, pureed (or 1 can pumpkin)
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Honey-Glazed Pecans for topping waffles
  • Pumpkin Maple Swirl Butter
~ Heat waffle iron according to directions.

~ In large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients until fully incorporated.  

~ In another bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar, adding in puree, yogurt, milk and 

~ Pour pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients, stirring gently with rubber spatula just until 

~ Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and fold into batter.

~  Spoon onto heated and greased waffle iron.  Keep warm in 250 degree oven, directly on 
    rack until ready to serve.

~ Plate topped with pecans, butter and syrup as desired.

Waffle recipe from the Food Network.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

back again… and my favorite Christmas cookie of all time

Can I just say I'm getting teary writing this post right now?  I have missed it so, you don't even know.  

I'm such a sap lately; I really am.  To be completely honest, I have been practically willing myself through every day of the last month.  Hear me when I say I have absolutely no reason to be in such a state.  But as so many around me are doing, I am working tirelessly, and lots of hours and constant activity has resulted in some significant exhaustion, both physically and emotionally.  For whatever reason, on top of it all, I have been tying my brain up non-stop with loaded life questions and trying to reconcile a lot of pain I'm seeing both people I know, and those I don't, endure.  I've heard myself saying out loud, "I know you're there, God," and I'm regularly reminding myself this life is not meaningless.  I don't know.  Maybe all of this is because I'm getting closer to 40.  Maybe it's Satan.  I think it's the latter.

At the end of the day, I choose to seek joy, despite lack of momentary happiness.  I choose to find and celebrate God in the small things, so that I can appreciate Him when He pulls me and others around me through the hard.  I am committing to make time - be it ever so small - to just play.  And, of course, you know for me that means in the kitchen.

I posted this nearly two years ago and wanted to share it again before the big holiday that's upon us arrives.  I have many other recipes I've tried and even captured in pictures over the last weeks, but as I was scrolling through some past posts re-energizing myself to return, this one - above all - filled me with joy.  

Thank you for being patient.  My intent is not to go on long hiatus, as I've done this last time, but I appreciate you understanding why I did.      

I spent the first third of my life living in a duplex with my parents and grandparents.  It was the neatest thing to be able to run upstairs to "Ma and Popie's" whenever I fancied.  I have all kinds of wonderful memories, as many grandchildren do of their grandparents, but some of the best center around this time of year and all that played a part of the holidays growing up on Herndon Drive.

I couldn't imagine sharing anything but this recipe with you on Christmas day.  The first moment I'd smell Springerles baking, starting as far back as I can remember, to me, that was the official beginning of Christmas. Ma would work tirelessly for days on end, baking dozens and dozens of the German embossed cookies to pass out to friends, family, neighbors, you name it.  We had an extra oven in our basement, so the aroma would immediately make it's way up to me... just delightful.

These cookies are extremely unique, delicate, temperamental, but totally worth it.  With a slight tinge of licorice, the dough - even before baking - is hard to resist.

The star of the show is the rolling pin.  Isn't she a beaut?

I would love to perfect these one day.  Mine will never be as light, nor as beautiful, as Ma's.  But she has officially passed down the coveted rolling pin to me.  Although I have my work cut out for me, I feel completely honored to carry on the tradition.

I have had such a wonderful time "spending time" with you over the last few months.  I greatly appreciate your encouraging thoughts and sweet comments regarding all things Lazy Daisy.  I look forward to continuing to bless others with you through the gift of food... a way to so many's heart, and a way to comfort when words don't always suffice.  May God continue to richly bless you and yours as 2012 comes to a close; prayers for love and light in 2013.

Come to the feast (and don't forget to invite others),

Springerles - 
makes 4-5 dozen of traditional-sized cookies

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened but not melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of anise (can substitute fruit flavored oils; if you do, use 3 teaspoons)
  • about 7 cups all-purpose flour, or 2 pound box cake flour
  • more powdered sugar as needed
~ Dissolve baking powder in milk and set aside. 

~ Beat eggs in mixer (stand mixer is easiest) until thick and lemon-colored, about 20

~ Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, then the softened butter. 

~ Add the baking powder and milk, salt, and preferred flavoring (I always use anise).  

~ Gradually beat in flour, one cup at a time.  If you have a dough hook, that works 
    wonderfully here.  If not, mix in as much as you can with the beaters and stir in the rest 
    by hand until you form a stiff dough.

~ Ma taught me to tape down paper on a large surface in which to work with the dough.  I 
    just cut open paper grocery bags and affix to our island.  She also suggests having 
    powdered sugar handy to sprinkle on the rolling surface and the pin, as well as the
    dough, as needed, so it doesn't stick.  Using the sugar works so much better, and is much 
    tastier, than flour.

~ Divide dough into two sections and cover the section you're not using with plastic wrap.  

~ Working quickly, roll out dough to about 1/4 inch (maybe a bit more) with flat rolling 

~ Using Springerle pin, press and roll through the end of the flattened dough, doing your 
    best to apply consistent pressure to ensure fully embossed imprints.  If you look closely 
    at the picture below, you'll notice I worked a little too slow and the surface dried slightly, 
    causing some wrinkling.  If this happens, turn a blind eye (which I've done my fair share 
    of times) or pick up the dough, need slightly, and start over.

Below is the way the roll should look.

~ As each section is rolled out, use a pastry wheel or bench scraper to cut apart, following 
    the lines.

~ Allow cut cookies to dry a couple of hours (or more).  This will help the pictures stay put 
   when baking.

~ Place cookies on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake between 255 and 325 degrees 
   for as long as they take to turn slightly golden, about 10-15 minutes.  Our oven worked 
   best at 325 degrees for 12 minutes this last batch.  Humidity and such plays a roll, so my 
   next round may require a different time.  I highly suggest you try baking one at a time 
   until you find the right temperature and length of time that works.

~ Store in airtight containers or in zipper bags in the freezer. They keep for months, and 
    improve with age. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

flavorFALL - one ingredient pure pumpkin puree

Two words for this recipe.  

Easy. Peasy.  

In fact, I don't even know if it qualifies as a recipe, because I think recipes probably have to have more than one thing in them, don't you think?  Actually, I've looked up the definition since typing that last sentence.  For those scholarly ones who care to know, according to Webster, recipe is "a list of instructions given to prepare a dish and includes the ingredients."  

Well, in this case, INGREDIENT.  

A real recipe or not, all I know is that now that I've done this version of pumpkin puree, I don't think I'll ever, ever go back to the can.  This is the perfect 'recipe' for this series and a must-have staple for many Falls to come.  The result is so sweet without a thing added to it!  I wish now I had grabbed more Sugar Pie pumpkins (I just love that name) to make a lot of this to store up and freeze.  Next year I'll know… and now, so will you!

Happy weekend, friends!

one year ago: autumn chicken stewblack-bottom pumpkin piedaniel's potato soup
two years ago: butternut squash soup

Pure Pumpkin Puree
Are you ready for this?
  • 1 pie pumpkin
~ Line crockpot with aluminum foil.  Prick pumpkin with fork, multiple times, and place
    in crockpot.  

~ Cook on Low 6-8 hours or until pumpkin is soft.  

~ Cut open pumpkin, scoop out seeds, and scrape out flesh.  Puree with blender or hand 
    blender (not pureed in picture).

Thursday, October 30, 2014

flavorFALL - perfect gingersnaps (without molasses)

I'm sitting in a downtown Boston hotel, late at night, listening to the Ken Burns soundtrack from his Lewis and Clark film and blogging about gingersnaps.  It's really quite surreal, to tell you the truth.  And if you like Early American music, you really need to take a listen to the soundtrack.  

Oh, and did I mention how much I wish John were here?

About fourteen years ago, my history buff and teacher husband wrote a grant to travel to this area and study for about 10 days.  It was a most enjoyable trip, as we walked part of the Lewis and Clark cobblestone trail, experienced Salem, explored Plymouth, strolled along the beaches of Chatham, learned about the Industrial Revolution and celebrated our nation's birthday listening to the Boston Pops and watching the fireworks on the St. Charles River.  I won't ever forget it. And tonight, as I walked just a portion of those same cobblestone streets I did all those years ago with John, I smiled in my heart for the adventure God blessed us with when life together was fairly new and we had much joy ahead of us to live. We had no idea how much joy, but He did. And I might mention the trip was so meaningful to us Luke's middle name was given to him in honor of it... Luke Cambridge... I love that name. And I love this place.

So, what does all of this have to do with gingersnaps you ask?  Not a thing.  Except being here in the fall with the mums and pumpkins adorning historic wooden doors of what are now quaint apartments near the Old North Church and such, along with the known fact that these "ginger biscuits" were greatly enjoyed during colonial times in both European countries and America, I couldn't help but think of them while in this town and wanted to share.  

Our whole family really enjoyed these last week and then again this week.  I made two batches, back-to-back, because they went quickly.  It's the first time I've made them without molasses.  We love them with it, but I didn't have any last week when I got a hankering, so I searched and came across this recipe.  So glad I gave it a try.  I did tweak it slightly and added a dash of pepper and a little allspice to give it a slight bite, in case the lack of molasses left room for a bit more zest.  I loved the result.  There's a slight crunch on the outside while the inside remains soft.  And the cracks are just perfect, are they not?!?

I really loved these with a cup of coffee.  John and Daniel ate theirs so fast, I'm not sure they took time to drink anything, and I think Luke preferred them dunked in milk.  Anyway you have them, you can't go wrong.  As the name states, they're just... well... perfect.

Perfect Gingersnaps
makes about 3 1/2 dozen
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 cup white sugar, divided
  • 7 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup packed, dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

~ In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, baking soda, salt, pepper and allspice.  Set

~ In a large mixing bowl, mix together 3/4 cup white sugar, butter and brown sugar until 

~ Add in honey, vanilla, egg and mix. 

~ Gradually add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.  Cover
    and freeze for one hour.  

~ Line a baking pan with parchment paper.  With a cookie scoop, roll scooped dough into
    ball and roll in remaining g sugar.  Place two inches apart on cookie sheet.

~ Bake 12-13 minutes until golden.  Remove and let cool 1-2 minutes.  Remove to a cooling 

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

flavorFALL - apple cider mojito

It is no secret to anyone that Fall is probably my favorite season.  I've referenced as much with you herehere.... and, oh... here too.  

While I was laid up this weekend with back issues, I compiled several ideas and pulled out many recipes I've considered over time.  The pumpkins, mums, burlap, and all things decorative on our front steps and around the house were fostering a deeper excitement for the season, so I couldn't help myself,  heavy meds or not.  

So this is the first of my "FlavorFALL" entries.  Apple Cider "Mojito" - a super-quick way to spruce up a get-together or just make an ordinary meal a little more festive.  It is a celebration of one of the best fall staples, the apple.  And while I adore hot cider - and I do mean adore - it's kind of nice to have a new twist on an old favorite, and served cold at that!

I'm looking forward to sharing my coming posts in this series.  I hope you'll stay tuned, try your hand at a few, and let me know how it goes.  I'm a sucker for good food conversation.   

Apple Cider Mojito
serves 2
  • 8 oz apple cider, chilled
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 6 ice cubes
  • mint sprigs
  • ginger ale
~ Pour 4 oz of cider in each glass.

~ Add juice of lime-half to each glass and divide ice between both.

~ Pinch leaves of mint sprigs and place in each glass, topping off with ginger ale.  Stir.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

SOUPer saturdays - sausage and bean soup with pasta

I really do love the blogging world, because one simple search for something so insignificant can lead you straight into the significant life of someone you would have never "met" otherwise. Such is the case with the "Italian Dish" blog.  

I was searching weeks ago for a sturdy whipped cream, and I came across Elaine McCardel's work.  I am in Heaven reading her entries, watching her how-to videos, and being transported straight to her Italian roots via her Michigan kitchen.  I do enjoy so many kinds of foods, but my default is always Italian, and when I imagine what cooking in a true Italian kitchen is like, I think fresh, homemade, laughter, and family.  I can't imagine anything better.

I really haven't spent near as much time as I'd like to scrolling through this gem of a site, but what I have viewed makes me want to be Ms. Elaine's neighbor.  I want to RSVP for her in-home cooking classes and be the recipient of her homemade goodness.  But since I live several states south of her, I'll continue to peruse her wonderful site and try my hand at many of the recipes I've already marked.  

I, unfortunately, injured my back a couple of days ago and have been kind of "stuck" in the house in more ways than one.  The kind of issues I have with my back does not allow me to sit comfortably.  And anyone who knows me knows that lying around is not at all who I am, either.  So… I have been cooking in spurts as my pain tolerance will allow.  Because getting in the car to get groceries has not been an option, I started thinking about what I already had in the house and scoured the blog to find a recipe to match.  This one was a perfect 10!  I did an Italian sausage soup a couple of years ago, but this is different and full of just as much flavor.  It comes together quickly, so give it a try.  Your Italy is less than an hour away!

one year ago: in a pinch pie filling,  autumn chicken stew
two years ago: creamy tomato soup

Sausage and Bean Soup with Pasta
makes 6-8 servings
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6-8 cups chicken stock/broth
  • 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tsp fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup small pasta
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
~ In a large pot, cook sausage until brown and remove.  If a lot of oil is left, pour out, but do not wipe.  

~ Add onion, carrots, and oil, cooking five minutes or until softened.  Add garlic and cook another minute.

~ Add tomatoes, six cups stock, beans thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste.  At this point I used my immersion blender to puree some of the soup, but you don't have to. 

~ Add the sausage and cover the pot, cooking on a low simmer for 30-45 minutes.

~ Remove lid and add pasta, cooking until tender.  If soup is too thick, you can add more stock.

~ Top servings with cheese.

Recipe from The Italian Dish