Baking · Dessert · International Incident Party

What’s up Doc

Carrot Cake Cake Popscarrotcakecakepuffs

Another month another IIP party hosted by the fabulous Jeroxie,  This month the theme was rather challenging: Cake Pops.  I have seen many cake pops and I’m a HUGE fan of Bakerella but up until this challenge I had neither eaten or baked a Cake Pop.  I first thought about going the mold method, and explored my local Michaels to see if any of their forms fit my need.  While I saw plenty of rather wicked looking molds none of them seemed “right” for some reason.  So I went back to the Queen of Cake Pops: Bakerella   and checked out her method and decided that was the one for me.  In High School one of the fundraisers that was done a few times a year by various groups were the lollipop drives.  The lollipops in questions were HUGE, easily the size of 5 dum-dums and were some of the strangest flavors.  I decided I wanted mine to taste like my favorite flavor, carrot cake!  For the cake portion I used a modified Martha Stewart recipe, the original can be found on her website.

Ingredients: (cake)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons caramel syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound carrots, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350 and pregrease a sheet pan.  
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.  In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs one a time.  Add the vanilla, water, and carrots mix well and then begin sifting in the dry ingredients.  Be careful to not over mix.
3.  Pour into the sheet pan and then bake for 30minutes, or until a tooth pick comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool completely and then break it into a large bowl.  Use a fork (or hands) to break the cake into crumbs, the finer the better!  (This is also a great step for kids to help out on, nothing like being destructive for a good cause!)

Ingredients (icing)
8 oz cream cheese, cold
1/2 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 lb chocolate wafers for melting (I used Wilson’s Vanilla Pastel Wafers)


1.  Put all the ingredients into a food processor and mix well.  Stir into the cake crumbs until well mixed. 
2.  Form the cake balls using your hand, each one should be about 3 tbsp. Insert the popsicle stick,   place on a wax-covered cookie sheet, cover in saran wrap and return to fridge for at least 1 hr.
3.  Before taking the cake pops out of the fridge melt the chocolate wafers in a double boiler.  Dip the pops in the chocolate one at time, covering them in a thin layer of the chocolate before returning to the cookie sheet.  Place the balls in the freezer for 15minutes then ENJOY!

For those in a rush a box cake would work just as well, however I do strongly suggest using a homemade icing so that it doesn’t get too sweet.  I brought some of these into work and it was great watching the expressions on my coworkers faces as they realized the lollipops were actually cake filled 😀



I Feel Like

Chickun Tonight

IIP time, brought once again by the lovely Jeroxie! I apologize for an issues with this blog, I have been having one of those lost weekends. I am writing this from The Black Squirrel bar in Adams Morgan. The recipe for this month was probably one of the easiest for me to settle on, even though the Nostalgia theme gave me tons to work with.  Growing up my mom made dinner most nights, and it was understood that if you didn’t eat what was served there was always cereal.  in the early 90s a commercial emerged that rocked my world: adults doing the chicken dance on the highways, at work, in the cars, wherever.  All because they felt like “Chicken Tonight”.  It took some begging but eventually my mom picked up a jar and we had some Chicken Tonight and life was good.  The official jar made a few appearances at our place and then my mom started making her own version.  Every time we saw her pulling out the ingredients we would start dancing around the house chicken style, singing out “I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight” looking like losers but feeling like winners.  in college i began experimenting with the standard ingredients in order to make a vegetarian version.  this is a more upscale version of the veggie version and even now almost two decades later I still feel the need to dance around like chicken.
1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/3 cup white wine
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 cloves garlic2/3 cup veg stock

1 Heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and onion and cook 5minutes, or until onion slightly clear.

2. Add the mushroom soup along with the stock and wine.  Bring to a simmer and cook qp minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.  Add the mushrooms and cook another 10 minutes, until the mushrooms are soft.  Season to taste and serve over chicken or tofu.

The traditional way of serving this growing up always involved broccoli and white rice or rice ppilaf.  For those doing chicken the sauce can be poured over the chicken before adding the mushrooms for a more authentic experience.  I havent seen Chicken Tonight on the shelves in years but I hope it will make a return just so I can see grown men in business suits doing the Chicken Tonight dance.


Make the World Taste Good

When I saw the theme for this month’s Internal Incident Party I was a little nervous since I’m not much of an ice cream maker.  Sure I could go out and get a fancy Ice Cream machine, but that’s just not in the budget right now.  So I tried thinking outside of the box, maybe do a Sundae themed cupcake or a cake decorated to resemble an ice cream sundae.  Then I thought back a few decades to when my family lived in southern VA and one of our favorite places to go as a family: Old Country Buffet.  For me, and my sisters, it wasn’t about the food but rather all about the make your own sundae station that came at the end.  Sprinkles, brownies, oreos, hot fudge, caramel sauce…if you could think of it they had it!  So for my Sundae Party I decided to throw a mini ice cream party for my sister and her friends, complete with all the things that make sundaes so amazing.  The other advantage of doing it with my sister and her friends: PEANUT BUTTER!  To me a sundae is not a Sundae without some type of peanut butter product.  So after confirming that peanuts were going to be okay I decided to just go peanut crazy.  For our sundaes we had:
Chocolate Ice Cream
Vanilla Ice Cream
Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Hot Fudge
Caramel Sauce
Reese’s Pieces
Whipped Cream

Each girl had their own style, ranging from the all they could get (my sister):

To the balanced (Jenn):

To the peanut butter heavy yet simply classic (Elli):

I also did a sundae but the picture disappeared along the way…which is fully possible since I was the one taking the pictures and not my normal camera man. It was a fun time, and after getting hyped up on sugar it was time for GLEE!  The sundaes might not be from scratch but we most certainly put the PARTY into the IPP.


Good for your Heart

Black Bean Hot Dogs


Welcome! Tis time for the January International Incident Party, which the lovely Jeroxie is allowing me to post late.  When I saw the theme for January was hot dogs, my heart dropped a little.  Suddenly the IIP went from Iron Chef to Kitchen Impossible which made me slightly nervous.  Even back in my meat eating days I wasn’t always a fan of hot dogs.  In fact I got myself in quite a bit of trouble once at a Friendly’s when I decided that the entire restaurant wanted to know my true feelings for the dinner in front of me.  When I got a little older I discovered a slight love for corndogs, but only if they were prepared to my specifications…luckily I had a very nice friend with a very nice deep fryer so this was possible.  Part of me thought of going in that direction, but then I felt like it would almost be cheating if I posted a recipe for something I haven’t eaten in a number of years.  So I started going thru all of my cookbooks, trying to see if I could find something that would work for making a vegetarian hot dog.  I thought about tofu dogs, or egg salad in panko dogs, or even some seitan dogs before finally settling on Black Bean dogs.  Black bean burgers were one of the first vegetarian meat substitutes I stumbled across and I was hooked from the beginning.    While these aren’t the prettiest dogs on the block. they are delicious and extremely filling!

– 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
– 1/2 onion, diced
– 1/4 cup pickle. chopped
– 1/2 tbsp pickle juice
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 tsp parsley
– 1/4 tsp celery salt
– dash of smoked parika
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1/4 cup corn meal
– 1 tbsp olive oil, for cooking

1. Pour the beans into a blender and puree until silky, adding water if needed.  Add the onion, pickle, and pickle juice and blend well.  Then add the seasoning before blending again.  Drain any access liquid from the blender then hand mix in the bread crumbs. 
2.  Form the hotdogs by placing a few tablespoons of the mixture on parchment paper and molding into a snake like shape.  If you have corn shaped cornbread molds they would also work for this.  Be careful using dough piping equipment to form the snakes as the mixture is very thick.  Once the snakes have been formed (I made 6) place in fridge and chill for 30minutes to an hour.
3.  Remove dogs from fridge.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Carefully place the hot dogs onto the skillet leaving plenty of room between.  Cook for 3minutes and then use tongs to roll the dogs in order to cook the other sides. Serve warm!

As an added bonus I used homemade bread in order to form the buns, which worked out perfectly.  The hardest part of this recipe is turning the dogs so that they don’t break apart.  The best way to avoid this is by making sure the dogs have chilled long enough in the fridge, and then making sure they aren’t overcrowded in the pan.  If they do wind up breaking they just become Vienna Sausages…black bean style!


Alles schläft

Mexican Potato Corn Chowder


Tis that time again: International Incident Blog Party!  While I joined into the festivities a little late in the year I had a great time and hope to do it again next year.  From working with lavender to messing around with salted caramel I learned new technique and tricks and had fun.  For the final month the “secret ingredient” was more of a “secret theme” of COLOURS! When I first read that I had two thoughts 1) hehe they said colours 2) flashing back to college and going with my friends to get Indian food.  It was our thing to go on Sunday mornings, as a hangover cure if you will.  Everytime without fail my one friend would make a comment about how to her the Indian food tasted like colors.  For example the palak paneer tasted green while the butter chicken tasted orange.  I’m not sure how this worked, but it also made for an entertaining experience.  My first thought was to attempt to create some Indian dishes, until I was reminded about previous Indian cooking (mis)adventures.  So on to something else. Something colorful and exciting and suitable for the chilly weather.  I thinking my brain process then did something along the lines of warm:soup:spinach:corn:corn chowder:potato corn chowder: Mexican Potato Corn Chowder.  A nice hardy soup with yellows and greens, and then some delicious cheesy corn bread to keep it company.  I decided to take the recipe I had for Potato Corn Chowder, one that in its original form came from the back of a can of new potatoes, and start modifying it.  I knew I wanted to make it creamier than the original and also wanted to spice it up.  I also decided to use my slow cooker, which wound up working out perfectly.

2  12ozcans creamed corn
1 12oz can corn (drained)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup half & half
1 1b potatoes, cubed
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeño, diced and seeded (optional)
2 tsp chili powder
1 cup favorite cheese (I used Colby but Jack or a sharp cheddar would also work well)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Turn slow cooker to low and add all the ingredients except the onion and cheese.  Stir well.  
2. Add some oil to a small pan and gently saute the onions over medium heat until they start to brown, about 7minutes.  Add to slow cook and cook 7-8hrs on low.
3.  Remove half of the soup and blend well.  Return to slow cooker.  
2. Turn heat to high and add the cheese stirring well.  Season to taste and then cook for an additional hour.  Serve!

I topped mine off with some blue chips in order to add a little more crunch (and color) which wound up working perfectly.  If you have a hand emulsion blender this recipe is a prime example of why those are so amazingly.  Getting the soup into the blender was a pain but the thickness it adds to the recipe is worth the hassle.



Smile Like the Sunrise

Salted Caramel Apple Bliss


Another month, another fun challenge from the amazing International Incident Party.  This month the not-so-secret ingredient was: salt.  Normally I try to cut as much salt as possible from my diet, thanks to some fun health problems.  However there is one salt combination that I LOVE, one that is worth upping my water consumption beyond my normal amount. Salt & Caramel.  A match made in heaven, or in the very least a match made in my mouth.  The first time I came across this amazing couple was while living on the Cape back in college.  There was this little bitty candy shop right off the main road in Hyannis Port and not only did they have amazing handspun milkshakes they only had a few dozen types of fudge.  Among their remarkable collection was their caramel fudge, which they topped with salt.  One bite was all it took to convince me that this combination was just right 🙂 I wanted to do something that included that pairing, but was lighter on the calories considering all the holidays right around the corner.  Enter the apple juice.  I am a huge fan of warm apple juice, and I know from numerous experiences that caramel and apple get along just right.  The result: a warm drink just right for the winter just around the corner with the right amount of sweet and salty…and some whipped cream with more caramel to make it even better.
2 cups apple juice (aim for organic/no sugar added)
2 1/2 tbsp caramel syrup (Monin if you can find it!)
1 tsp sea salt plus more for topping
whipped cream 
1. Heat the apple juice, caramel, and salt in a tea pot until hot.  Pour into mugs and allow to cool slightly. 
2.  Top with whipped cream and at least 1/4 tsp sea salt!

Now to have real fun you can make your own caramel whipped cream.  All you need is one of these and some of these.  Pump 5tbsp caramel syrup into the carafe then fill with heavy whipping cream until the line on the inside of the bottle.  Use one of the canisters as directed and chill for around 5minutes, or as long as it takes the apple juice to heat up.  Then top it off and add the sea salt.  Yum!


Silver, Gold, or Brass

Irish Eggs

So last month I participated in an egg challenge.  This wound up opening the door to the world of eggs, a world that I wasn’t very familiar with prior to the International Incident which in a way was the point of the exercise.  I wound up going thru my cook books and checking out all of the egg recipes I had skipped over, yet I kept going back to baked eggs.  So I decided to keep experimenting with them and seeing what other delicious taste combinations I could find.  Once upon a Thanksgiving ago I found that mashed potatoes and eggs go together really well in the form on a delicious mashed potato omelett.  I decided to take that concept and add to it, while changing it from a cheesy omelett to the power house that is a baked egg.  Some googling let me know that this was actually very similar to a dish known as Irish Colcannon minus the meat…and with some veggie changes.  So in tribute to that ancient recipe I am dubbing these Irish Eggs.


1 lb potatoes, diced
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
1 lb spinach, thawed and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 eggs
2 oz cheese, shredded

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes.  Cook until the potatoes are tender, then drain and mash.  Add seasoning to taste along with butter and milk.  
2. Preheat oven to 375.
4.  Spread the mashed potatoes on the botton of an 9×9 pan.  Add the spinach over top.  Create four wells in the spinach/mashed potatoes add crack the eggs into the wells.  Top with cheese
5. Bake for 15minutes, or until eggs are fully cooked.  Enjoy!

Another simple dish that is perfect for a filling breakfast or a light dinner.  I am now officially a fan of baked eggs and I look forward to figuring how many other ways I can prepare them.  I am also going to attempt to do a poached egg as well at some point…maybe…