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Chocolate Pie Sticks (a use for leftover pie dough)

There is a distinct possibility that I am the only person I know that has a problem with left over pie dough. I make pies much more than the average girl, and I always make my crust from scratch. You should too. Really. The only problem is that I always have hunks of dough left over, but I’m never short.

This recipe is meant for those left over scraps that you always have after making pie. You sit there, looking at a heap of dough that you "slaved" over. You feel a brief twinge of guilt about throwing it in the trash, but with a lack of use for 1/2 cup of pie dough, that’s were it ends up.

Look how economical and thrifty we are.

A use for leftover pie dough and a cute portable snack.

Perfect for little hands. Or big ones.

Chocolate Pie Sticks

Use leftover pie dough

If you don’t have it and want to just make these for the fun of it, here is my pie dough recipe:

Pie Dough:

1 cups of all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbs sugar

3 1/2 tbs butter, cut into cubes

2 1/2 tbs shortening

2 tbs vodka

1 tbs cold water

Chocolate chips (not sure how many you’ll need because that depends on how much leftover dough you have)

1 egg

sugar (about 2 tbs?)

If you have your leftover pie dough ready, skip this next paragraph.

If you are making dough:

Break out that food processor and add the flour, salt and sugar and give it a quick pulse until it’s combined.

Add the cubes of butter and the shortening and pulse until combined, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Move the dough to a bowl and add the vodka and water with a spatula. Your dough will be very moist, but you can add a bit of flour if it is too moist to hold together. Then shape the dough into a disk, cover in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours. If you need to, this can be made up to three days in advance, just store the plastic wrapped disks in a large zip lock bag.

Once you have your dough ready:

Roll out the dough, just like for a pie, and cut into strips about 1 inch wide and six inches long.

Brush each strip with water, and fill with a row of chocolate chips

Cover each chipped strip with another strip and seal the edges.

Poke holes in the top to let the steam out.

Brush with a lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Put on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (or sprayed with butter cooking spray)

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until goldeny brown.

Look how cute Tater is with her pie stick. Yes, I give my kid pie. And fruits and vegetables and chicken. And pie and cupcakes.

I served them with Chantilly Cream.

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S’mOREO Bars for National S’mores week!

I missed National S’mores day. I had no idea that August 10th was a day that the national is obligated to celebrate this childhood campfire treat until half way through the day when my Mini S’mores Cheesecakes were featured on Yummly. The saddest part of all of this: I HAD a s’mores post ready to go. SO, as my way of making up for my egregous sweet treats error, I am making this entire week National S’mores Week and posting my S’mOREO bars.

Yep, S’mOREO bars. That would be S’mores and Oreos together in one beautiful dessert. These little guys single handedly necessitated TWO spin classes this week. You think Oreo’s are hard to resist, see what happens when they procreate with S’mores.

S’mOREO Bars

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/4 cup oil

1 tsp espresso powder

1/2 cup  flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

12 Oreo cookies, chopped

9 graham crackers

5 tbs butter (melted)

1 tbs brown sugar

2 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 350

In a bowl (I like to use a Kitchen Aid stand mixer), combine the butter and sugar and mix until combined. Add the vanilla and the eggs and mix on high until well combined. Add the oil and mix. In a separate bowl, add the flour, espresso powder, salt and baking powder, whisk until well combined.


Two things that need to be said about that previous step.

1. Why the heck do I have to get out ANOTHER bowl, that I will just have to clean when I have so much else to do, why can’t I just throw it all in the mixer!? Geesh!

A: Flour gets tough really quick, think of it like cement. To make the best tasking baked goods you want to mix the flour with the wet ingredients as little as possible, but make sure they are well combined. Whats the best way to do this? Make sure the wet ingredients are well mixed, and the dry ingredients are well mixed with each other, before combining the two.

2. I HATE coffee! Why do you ALWAYS ask me to put it in my chocolate desserts? I wanna leave it out!

A: Coffee intensifies the flavor of chocolate, so you taste a much richer, more intense chocolate while the flavor of the coffee is hidden. I have a sister who HATES coffee, but always keeps a jar of espresso powder in the cupboard and adds a tsp or so of the crystals to any recipe involving chocolate (called for or not). Good baking rule. She’s wise, and you should follow her lead. If you don’t drink coffee, keep a jar of instant coffee powder in your cupboard for the next time you make a chocolate cake that calls for coffee and just mix it with the appropriate amount of hot water.


Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until just combined.

Add the Oreo’s and stir until just combined.

In a food processor, add the graham crackers and pulse until only fine crumbs remain. Add the brown sugar (this gives a nice caramel flavor) and the melted butter and process until combined, it will look like wet sand.

In a greased 9×13 baking pan, add the graham crackers to the bottom and press into the pan. Packing it down will ensure that the crust will be firm and not fall apart once your bars are cut. Pour the chocolate batter on top of that, making an even layer, top with a layer of mini marshmallows.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the marshmallow are golden brown. For an added carmpfirey-er taste, run a kitchen torch over the top.

How To: Make Roasted Garlic Butter

I’ve been smearing this stuff all over pretty much everything this weekend. The growing list of food that has been slathered with roasted garlic butter at my house include: steak, chicken, asparagus, potatoes and just plain 'ol bread. I have a wicked addiction to garlic, and now that it’s in spreadable form no food is safe in my house.

Roasted Garlic Butter

1 head garlic

2 tbs olive oil

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 400. Cut the top off of your head of garlic and expose the cloves. Place it on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with the olive oil.

Fold the foil up tight around the garlic, place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until soft.

Place the stick of butter in a food processor. Squeeze the head of garlic into the food processors, pushing the softened cloves out of the head. Be careful not to get any papery skin into the butter mixture.

Add the salt.

Pulse until combined.

Garlic butter can be served softened, or chilled. To chill the butter, place on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log.

Refrigerate until chilled and then cut slices and serve over warm meat, seafood and vegetables.


Caramel Apple Pie

S’mores are great, right? Evoking memories of summer, campfires and near misses with open flames. Those little treats have been popping up in Blog Land all summer. I even had my little fling with a s’mores makeover. Caramel apples are the new s’mores. Really. I swear. As fall gets closer, and apples pop up more and more in stores, farmers markets and bloggers imaginations, the memories of school carnivals and Halloween parties will throw this sugary fruit treat into the baker makeover spot light. Here is my jump start on caramel apple makeover, falls new, hot, must have.

Caramel Apple Pie

Pie Dough:

3 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbs sugar

10 tbs butter (1 stick, plus 2 tbs), cut into cubes

1/2 cup shortening

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup cold water

Apple Filling:

5 cups of granny smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbs flour

1 tbs cinnamon

1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

2 tbs apple sauce

Caramel Filling:

1 cups brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup of cream

1 tbs butter

1 tbs corn syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

Crust assembly:

1/4 cup melted butter

2 tbs granulated sugar

I’ve done this before and I’m about to do it again. Pie dough lecture. After my years of pie dough research, I feel confident that this recipe is near perfect. I love it. If you are thinking about skipping this step and going with store bought, Stop. Right. There. The food processor method makes your active time about 8 minutes. That’s it. For an investment of only 8 minutes you can make the Worlds Most Amazing Pie Crust and when people ask, "Did you make the crust yourself??" You can sigh, wipe your brow and say, "It was a lot of work, but, yes. I just believe that it is worth all the hard work." They’ll never know.

First, food processors are great at getting the job done as quickly as possible, and as previously mentioned on this blog, the more you mess with dough the tougher it becomes. So break out that food processor and add 2 cups of the flour, salt and sugar and give it a quick pulse until it’s combined.

Add the cubes of butter and the shortening and pulse until combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. A mixture of butter and shortening gives great texture and great flavor.

Add the remaining flour and process until it’s all combined. Move dough to a large bowl, then add the water and the vodka and knead gently until its all combined. Vodka makes your crust flaky. It cooks off completely, unlike water, so you have a great flakiness that will hold up to whatever you put inside of it. Your dough will be very moist, but you can add a bit of flour if it is too moist to hold together. Then split into two evenly sized disks and wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours. If you need to, this can be made up to three days in advance, just store the plastic wrapped disks in a large zip lock bag.

Preheat your oven to 375.

In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice and salt, toss to coat.  Let stand at room temp for about 30 minutes, drain. Add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, apple sauce and nutmeg and toss to coat.

In a pot over medium heat, add the brown sugar, corn syrup and cream. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and allow to boil, untouched, until it reaches 225. Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla, stir to combine and allow to cool.

Roll out one of  your pie dough disks in a circle large enough to fit into your greased pie pan with a bit of over hang. Add the circle to the pie pan and press into shape.  Pour the caramel on the bottom, then the apples on top of that. Roll out the remaining pie dough circle. I like to cut out cute shapes with a cookie cutter and layer them on top, adhering with melted butter. You can do this, or you can make a top crust a round circle with slits cut in the top.  brush the top with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Allow the pie to rest before serving, the caramel needs time to thicken or your will be serving apple pie soup.

Apple Sour Cream Scones

"I asked the maid in dulcet tone

To order me a buttered scone

The silly girl has been and gone

And ordered me a buttered scone."

I had no idea that there were two ways to pronounce the word"scones" until I was in the basement of a youth hostel in Ireland. It was the morning after I’d taken my very first flight across the Atlantic. I was tired and jet lagged, wandering around trying to find the "Free Breakfast" that had been advertised in the price of the room. My budget was too tight to pass up free food, fueling my persistence to locate the illusive no cost sustenance. A long corridor lead me to a bare kitchen, fitted with a small table of baked goods, cereal and coffee that may as well come straight from heaven. As I took the quickest, most direct route to my caffeine siren, I heard a very thick English accent, unlike any I’d heard before. It was hard for my American ears to make out his words, too embarrassed to ask him to repeat himself. The last bit of his introduction was all I was able to catch.

"…..wanna sc-Gone?"

I smiled, sc-Gone? What would that be…

"I’m Jackie." I smiled an apology for not understanding.



"SC GONE??? SC GONE??!!" He shook a biscuit at me with the fury or a trail weary traveler.

"OH, Scone!"

There were quite a few sentences that came out of his crumb laden mouth, but all I was able to catch was "It’s called ENGLISH, not AMERICAN!"

 Well, yes, I will have a ScGone. I’ll have it with a cup of coffee and I will enjoy my very first morning outside North America, no mater how I pronounce it.

I smiled and sat across from him, "This ScGone is delicious."

He gave me a very detailed stare before hidding his smiled behind his breakfast pastry.

I can’t exactly say that this traveling linguist became my first friend abroad, but he was my first breakfast companion and inadvertent dialect coach.

Apple Sour Cream Scones

1 stick of unsalted butter

2 cups of apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1/3 cup sugar

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp Kosher salt

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1/4 cup brown sugar

In a pan over medium heat, add the butter and apples. Cook until the apples are soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool. In a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda and salt, whisk to combine. Add the apples and butter and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add the sour cream and buttermilk and stir until combined. On a flowered surface, place the scone dough. Form into a log about 1 foot long, four inches wide and 2 inches high.

With a sharp knife, cut the log in half. Cut each half in half.

Then make a diagonal cut across each of the pieces making triangles.

Place the triangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Beat the egg in a small bowl and brush egg on to the tops of the scones. Sprinkle each scone with about 1/2 tsp of brown sugar. Place the baking sheet in the fridge and chill for at least an hour. Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees and then bake scones for 18-22 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

Maple Bacon Blondies

Blondie’s used to baffle me. Why would you take a lovely chocolaty brownie and take OUT the chocolate? Isn’t that the good part? I just saw blondie’s as chocolate-less brownies, and really, that didn’t sound like much fun. Then I had a blondie awakening of sorts. If a brownie is a vessel for chocolate consumption than blondie’s can be a vessel for…caramel? Peanut butter? Maple? Blueberries? Bacon? Well, I guess just about anything. I am officially on board.

Maple Bacon Blondie’s

1 cup butter

1 ½ cups brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp salt

2 eggs

¼ cup oil

2 tbs honey

2 cups flour


6 strips of bacon

2 cups brown sugar, packed

1 cup of cream

3 tbs butter

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup chopped pecans

¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease a 9×13 glass baking dish.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add the vanilla and salt, mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on high for at least two minutes until well combined and mixture is light and fluffy. Add the oil and honey and mix well. Add the flour, mixing on low until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until top is a golden brown, edges are a dark brown and pulling away from the pan. Allow to cool. Place 6 strips of bacon on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes or until bacon is cooked, darkened and crisp.

In a pot over high heat, add the brown sugar and the cream. Stir until the sugar has melted and the mixture starts to boil. Using a candy thermometer, allow to mixture to boil undisturbed until the temperature reaches 210, about 7-10 minutes. Add the 3 tbs of butter and the vanilla and stir until combined. Allow to cool (20 minutes). Pour the maple sauce over the Blondie’s. Chop the bacon and place in a small bowl, add the pecans and salt and mix. Sprinkle the bacon pecan mixture over the maple sauce. Refrigerate until maple has cooled and set.


The Help: Minny’s Caramel Cake

I just finished The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. Great. Now what I am going to struggle to stay awake to read at 1am when I know I should be sleeping because Tater is a 6am girl? There is always this vague grief that goes along with finishing a book that has attached itself to you. You start to watch the pages on the right side thin. At first you’re excited that you are so close to knowing whats gonna happen, and then you resist it, knowing you aren’t ready to let go. You read the last page slowly, savoring the last minutes you will ever spend with the characters and then you just sit, one hand on the cover. Smooth it with your hand, think about what the characters will likely do next, briefly wish for a sequel, and then…bake a cake.

In the book, Minny is a sass mouth southern maid that can bake her way out of just about any situation her impetuous tongue can put her in. I love her. In the movie, Hollywood cast her with Octavia Spencer, my brain cast her with Gabourey Sidibe.

I thought a lot about what kind of cake Minny would make for that caramel cake of hers. Definitely not a white cake. Not just for the obvious double entendre, but because it calls for dissposing of the egg yolks. Minny would never do that. She would never NOT use something as lovely and perfect as an egg yolk. She would have used whole eggs, butter, oil, cream and molssas. I also saw this as a cake that would stand on its own, with a mild caramel flavor, even without the lovely caramel icing.

Here is my version of the world famous cake:

Minny’s Caramel Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 tbs molasses

1 cup heavy cream (or buttermilk)

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup whole milk

3 cups of flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Caramel Frosting:

2 cups brown sugar, packed

1 cup of cream

3 tbs butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

 Pre heat oven to 350.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter, brown sugar and white sugar and cream until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the molasses and mix until combined.  With the mixer on low speed, add the cream, oil and milk and mix until well combined. add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until just incorporated. Add evenly between two greased and floured 8 inch round cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tooth pick come out clean. Allow to cool.

To make the lovely frosting, and I really think that I want to take a bath in this stuff, combine the brown sugar and cream in a pot. Stir over medium high heat until it starts to boil. Allow to boil, without stirring (this is the hard part for me) until the temperature reaches about 210 (about 7-10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the butter and the vanilla. Allow to cool until thickened. Pour half the caramel over the first layer, stack the second layer on top and then pour the rest over that.

Yum. I want to make cupcake versions of this soon.

Nebraska Beer Cake

I have this fascinating friend named Mike. He’s done quite a few interesting things in his life: bass player for a Grammy winning artist, handy man extraordinaire, one-true-love to a 96 year old Cuban woman.  His next interesting venture: moving to Nebraska.

Why Nebraska? You ask.

He must have a job offer out there? Nope.

Well, then family? Not one.

Then….why is he moving to Nebraska? The better question, I say, is: Why not Nebraska? It’s a perfectly wonderful place to live.

I do predict that Mike and his super adorable wife are going to love the mid-west. They will  “Win” at Nebraska. And those two California natives will freeze. Their. Asses. Off.

Obviously this cake is in the shape of Nebraska, but there is a little more of that corn husker state in there than meets the eye. I made it with Nebraska’s own Black Betty Imperial Stout. Black Betty is still a smaller craft brew so if you aren’t able to find it, use a dark beer or a chocolate stout.


3 cup flour

1 tbs baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp kosher salt

2 sticks (16 tbs) unsalted butter

2 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 cup (2 3.5 oz bars) 72%  dark chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cup dark stout beer

1 cup of brewed coffee, cooled


2 cups of dark chocolate chips

2 cups of dark beer


9 graham crackers

2 tsp salt

1 tbs brown sugar


4 cups cream cheese room temperature

2 cups butter, room temperature

8 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


First, preheat the oven to 350, and then combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and the cocoa powder in a bowl and whisk until well combined. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the butter and sugar and cream until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. In a microwave safe bowl, put the 72% chocolate. Microwave for 30 seconds, remove and stir. Repeat until the chocolate is melted. Add the melted chocolate to the sugar/egg mixture and blend well. While the mixer is on a medium-low setting, add the stout and then the coffee, continue to combine until well mixed, then add the flour mixture a little at a time until well combined. Grease and flour the cake pans that you are using. I used two 9×13 inch sheet pans. Bake for between 25 and 35 minutes (depending on your cake pan size) or until the cake is set in the center. Remove from oven and allow to cool.


Place chocolate chips in a heat safe bowl. In a pot on the stove, add the 2 cups of beer and cook over medium heat until reduced by half, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Pour the beer, that you have reduced to 1 cup, over the chocolate chips and stir until well combined. Place in the fridge and allow to cool completely about 30 minutes.

Cream cheese frosting:

Place all the icing ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high until well combined and creamy. You really, really need softened butter and softened cream cheese. If either of those are cold, your frosting will have lumps in it.


I used this on the outside of the cake, but it’s optional. Just place all the crust ingredients in your food processor and process until all combined.

Assembly. This will be the easiest if everything is cold. Also, I like to use a piping bag to help with the first layer of frosting (I always do 2 layers of frosting). Put about half of your frosting in a piping bag with a large opening tip. You can also use a large zip lock bag with the corner cut off, like this:

[singlepic id=378 w=520 h=440 float=]

works great.

On your bottom layer of cake, put a rim of frosting around the edge, that’ll make it easier to keep the ganache in the center.

[singlepic id=438 w=520 h=440 float=]

Add the ganache to the center of your frosting ring and allow to spread out evenly over the layer. If your ganache was warm at all, it would be a good idea to place the cake in the fridge at this point to allow to cool before proceeding. Top with the second cake layer, then add the first layer of frosting to your cake with the piping bag and smooth out with an off set spatula. Some people call this a crumb coat, because crumbs will invade this layer. I call it the dirty ice, because it sounds more fun. Place the cake in the fridge and allow the first ice to set, about 1 hour. Once you are ready for your final icing, use an off-set spatula and try to make it as smooth as possible. Before the final frosting layer has set, add the crust to just the sides with your hands, using as much as will stick to the sides. Allow the final ice to set before decorating as you wish.

Cabernet Cherry Brownies

On of my favorite smells in the entire world is red wine reducing on the stove. It reminds of bistros in Paris and lazy winter evenings. Mr. Fits and I spent our anniversary in Paris a few years ago. We ended up at a small cafe in the Bastille District eating Steak Frites and sharing a bottle of wine. We finished the meal by sharing a dense piece of chocolate cake.  As we sat on the side walk patio, watching the night go by, chatting and laughing, I remember feeling so grateful that this was the man that I got to spend my life with. These brownies remind me of that night, the wine, the chocolate and the love of my life.

Red wine is a great addition to baked goods and the alcohol cooks off completely so you have nothing to worry about while serving these to under aged guests.

Cabernet Cherry Brownies

¾ cup fresh bing cherries, pitted and chopped

1 cup red wine

¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter

8 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

1 tbs instant coffee powder

4 large eggs

3 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.

In a pot over medium/high heat, bring the cherries and the wine to a simmer, stiring occasionally. Allow to reduce by half, the cherries and wine will amount to a little less than one cup combined.

Combine the butter, chocolate and coffee powder in a microwave safe bowl. If you hate coffee, don’t be affriad of this ingredient. Coffee, in small doses, is widely known in the baking world to intensify the flavor of chocolate without leaving any of it’s own flavor behind. Microwave on high for 20 seconds, stir and repeat until melted and combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar, at high speed for 5 minutes. I recently learned that beating the eggs and sugar together is what gives brownies that beautiful crust on top.  Reduce speed to low, and add the chocolate mixture then beat until combined. Slowly add flour and beat until combined, but don’t over mix. Stir in chocolate chips and reduced wine. Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 glass baking dish. Bake until the edges start to pull away from the pan and the center is no longer wobbly, about 35 minutes.


Truffled Soft Pretzels with Smokey Garlic Aioli


A few weeks ago I professed my love for Hepp’s Salt Barrel. They have this amazing Black Truffle salt that I have a huge culinary crush on. I’ve spent that last week inventing a recipe that would showcase this gorgeous spice. What better vehicle for salt consumption than a pretzel? Salt makes everything taste better, but in this case, it’s the star.

Truffled Soft Pretzels with a Smokey Garlic Aioli

1 cup water, warmed between 105-110 degrees fahrenheit

1 tbs sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp active yeast

2 2/3 cups flour

1/4 cup truffle oil (can use olive oil instead) plus 2 tbs, divided

2 tbs veggtable oil

5 cups of water

1/2 cup baking soda

1 tbs black truffle salt


4 cloves of garlic

1 tbs olive oil, plus 1 tbs, divided

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/8 tsp salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, sugar and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Give it five minutes to get foamy before proceeding. With a dough hook attachment, put the mixer on low and slowly add the flour and kosher salt. slowly add the 1/4 cup truffle oil, then increase the speed to medium and allow the mixer to knead the dough unit it’s smooth and gathers around the hook about 6-8 minutes. Coat the inside of a glass or metal bowl with the vegetable oil. Gather the dough into a ball and place inside your oily bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to sit in a warm place for about an hour or until it’s doubled in size (this may be a good time to start working on the aioli, instructions at the bottom).

Preheat your oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Bring the water and baking soda to boil in a pot on the stove.

Remove the dough and place on a sheet of parchment paper (if you don’t have parchment paper, use a clean oiled surface that will resist the dough sticking to it). Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into three equal sized pieces, then cut each of those pieces in half, giving you six equal sized pieces of dough.

grab one end of the dough and hold so that the other end hangs towards the ground. Using your other hand, gently squeeze the dough from top to bottom to form a long rope, using gravity to assist. You can also try rolling the dough on an oiled surface, to form a 12-18 inch rope of dough. Place on the parchment paper, forming a U shape, then brining each end in towards the bottom, crossing the ends in the middle to form a pretzel shape, pressing the ends in to secure them in place. Once the water has come to a boil, add one pretzel at a time. Allow the pretzel to boil on one side for 20 seconds and then flip it over and allow to boil on the other side for 20 seconds and remove and place on the baking sheet covered with parchment paper. once all of the pretzels have been shaped and boiled, brush with the  remaining truffle oil and sprinkle with the truffle salt. Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes or until a dark golden brown.

To make the aioli, you first need to roast the garlic. I prefer to roast whole cloves at a time, because it smells amazing, and you can always use roasted garlic in just about everything. But you only need 4 cloves for this recipe so that’s what we’ll do. Preheat your oven to 450. Take your four cloves from the bulb and leave the paper skin on. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with 1 tbs olive oil. Fold the aluminum into a tight package and place in a baking dish. Roast in the oven at 450 for 20 minutes, allow to cool. In a food processor, add the yolks, whole egg, smoked paprika and salt. Cut the root of you roasted garlic bulbs (where it was attached to the clove) and squeeze the garlic out and add to the food processor.  Turn the food processor on and allow to process for about 3 minutes, or until thick and frothy. While your food processor is still on, slowly, slowly add the remaining 1 tbs oil, a tiny bit at a time. Allow to process for a few more minutes, until thick.

Serve your pretzeles right away. These just don’t keep very well, so if you have leftovers the next day, put them in your food processor because they make amazing bread crumbs. Keep the pretzel bread crumbs in an air-tight container in your refrigerator.


Italian Eggs Benedict with Pesto Hollandaise



I worked in a breakfast cafe through college. This is the reason that I will never be able to eat Hollandaise sauce in a restaurant. Those of you who have also worked in breakfast joints may be nodding your heads in agreement, while those who haven’t may have a puzzled look on your face. If you want a further explanation, this book does a pretty good job. I do, however, love Hollandaise and appease my cravings with a homemade Eggs Benedict at least once a month. I love a twist on a classic recipe (as you can clearly tell by my postings) and pesto goes well with just about everything.

Italian Eggs Benedict with Pesto Hollandaise

4 eggs

4 slices of crust Italian loaf bread

4 slices of prosciutto

4 slices of tomato

4 basil leaves

4 tbs melted butter

2 tsp pesto

4 egg yolks

2 tbs room temp water

1 tbs lemon juice

Poach the eggs, one at a time in simmering/boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon after about 3 minutes or when the whites are solid and yolk is still soft and uncooked.

This recipe really comes down to the sauce. First, melt the butter with the pesto. Then, in a good quality sauce pan, add the yolks, lemon juice and water and whisk quickly and continually over low heat until it’s frothy and doubled in size (this is an arm work out, be prepared). You don’t want too much heat or you’ll have scrambled eggs. If you need to step away for a second, or if it’s getting to hot, remove from the heat. While continuing to whisk, slowly add the butter in a steady stream. Continue to whisk until thickened, and almost doubled. If your sauce gets too dry and thick, you can add a few tbs of water.

Slice four pieces off a loaf of crust Italian bread. Ciabatta would also work nicely.


Toast your bread lightly. I placed mine under a broiler for about 3 minutes. Top your bread with tomatoes, prosciutto, basil, poached egg and then a few tbs of your pesto hollandaise.

Watermelon Jalapeno Margaritas

Jalapenos have been popping up in cocktails all over the place lately. Are you skeptical? Scared? Intrigued? I’m just plain excited. I have a deep love in my culinary soul for jalapenos, as you can see, I’ve add them to my Mac N' Cheese, as well as my Bacon Cornbread. Why not cocktails? And I dare you to find a better adult beverage than a margarita to showcase this beautiful pepper.

Watermelon Jalapeno Margaritas

4 cups seedless watermelon chunks

1 1/2 tbs chopped fresh jalapenos, seeds removed (very important)

1 cup of tequila

1/2 cup triple sec

1 tbs Agave nectar

1/4 cup lemon juice

Put all of these ingredients in a blender and blend for about a minute.

Taste to see if you want to booze it up and bit and adjust accordingly. Now, you can add ice and blend or you can serve it on the rocks. Either way, you will porbaly need about 3 cups of crushed ice or ice cubes.

You can rim the glass with either sugar or salt, this recipe lends itself very well to both.

I added a jalapeno ring as a garnish, but that is totally optional.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake


Here’s a little something you should know about me. I have a head full of statistics. I hear one and it sticks. Mr. Fit’s teases me about the fact the a rare week goes by that I don’t reference one. Including the fact that 36% of all statistics listed online are outdated or inaccurate. So take that for what it’s worth.

Here is one that’s more useful. California produces 86% of the nations strawberries. More fascinating than that is the fact that California also grows more than HALF the nations total produce. Seriously, HALF of the fruits and vegetables that are grown in the U.S. come from just one little state (ok, so it’s not that little, but STILL!).

We’re not all palm trees and reality TV, there is some amazing food here. Nothing is better than local produce, especially strawberries. If you have the opportunity to visit our great state, skip Beverly Hills and Hollywood Blvd and head straight for a farmers market, we get to have them year round.

Here is another fun fact about strawberries (have I lost you yet? is this stuff interesting only to me??) They are one of the few fruits that will NOT continue to ripen after being picked. If you pick a green strawberry, it will never turn red. Once they are taken from the vine they become a ticking clock towards rotten fruit so use them quick. Or freeze them fast.

 Chocolate is always a welcome twist on a classic. I love a great homemade shortcake and adding chocolate is great surprise. This is just my biscuit recipe, modified to add chocolate.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake



  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tbs) butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup of carbonated water
  • 1/4 cup cold brewed coffee (can use coffee made with instant coffee powder)


  • 2 1/2 cups of chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice


  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup powdered sugar (depending on your desired level of sweetness)
  • 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract


  1. In a food processor combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar and pulse until combined. Add the butter and process until it is all incorporated and it resembles coarse meal. Add the milk, water and coffee and process until combined.
  2. These are more like drop biscuits than roll ’em out and cut ’em variety. Take about 1/3 of a cup of the dough and form a disk, about one inch high, with your hand place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  3. Put your shortcakes in the fridge and allow to chill for 20 minutes while you preheat your oven to 350. Bake for about 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool.
  4. In a bowl, combine your strawberries, powdered sugar and lemon juice. mix until combine and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Chantillycream sounds super fancy, but in reality it’s just whipped cream that you make with powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar. It has a slightly different taste and texture that goes well with this recipe. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream, powdered sugar (between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup depending on how sweet you like it) and vanilla extract. Beat on high for 3-5 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  6. Once your shortcakes have cooled, cut in half the long way and fill with the Chantilly cream and strawberries.

Miniature Deep Dish Peach Pies

Clearly, I like things in miniature form. Not only are they just plain adorable, it provides some much needed portion control. If I have a pie, just sittin in the fridge, I have a strong temptation to constantly cut off a sliver if I’m in the vicinity. If I just have these small versions, I’m less tempted and I’ve tricked my brain into thinking I had much more than I actually did. I just ate a WHOLE pie! Well, a pie the size of a cupcake, but still. Plus, how great are these for dinner parties?

Mini Peach Pies

Pie Dough:

(adapted from Fool Proof Pie Dough, Cooks illustrated 2007)

3 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbs sugar

10 tbs butter (1 stick, plus 2 tbs), cut into cubes

1/2 cup shortening

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup cold water

Peach Filling:

4 1/2 cups of diced peaches

1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbs unsalted butter

1 tbs honey

1/4 cup lemon juice

Sour Cream Filling:

2/3 cup Sour Cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

I seems to make a lot of pie dough. I love it, and after years of research and practice, I am loyal to the homemade version and it’s vast superiority over the store bought stuff. If you plan ahead, it really doesn’t take much time at all.

First, food processors are great at getting the job done as quickly as possible, and as previously mentioned on this blog, the more you mess with dough the tougher it becomes. So break out that food processor and add 2 cups of the flour, salt and sugar and give it a quick pulse until it’s combined.

Add the cubes of butter and the shortening and pulse until combined, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Add the remaining flour and process until it’s all combined. Move to a bowl, add your water and vodka with a spatula. Your dough will be very moist, but you can add a bit of flour if it is too moist to hold together. Then split into two evenly sized disks and wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours. If you need to, this can be made up to three days in advance, just store the plastic wrapped disks in a large zip lock bag.

In a pot over medium heat, combine the peaches, butter, powdered sugar, salt,  honey and lemon juice. Stir frequently, allowing to simmer until reduced and thickened. About 15-20 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the sour cream, sugar, egg and vanilla and stir until combined.

Roll out your cold dough on a flowered surface. Cut circles large enough to fit into your muffin tins, with a bit of an over hang. I found that for mine, 4 inch worked the best. My largest biscuit cutter was 3 inches so I used a wine glass as my pie dough cutter.

Spray your muffin tins with butter cooking spray and then place your dough circles inside the wells, making sure there is a tiny bit of overhang.

Poke holes in the bottom of your dough and then fill with about 2 tsp of the sour cream mixture and then two tbs of the peaches mixture.

Cut out top circles for your mini pies using a 3 inch biscuit cutter (or a size appropriate for the muffin tins you are using). I had a cute little tiny cookie cutter in the shape of a star that I used for the top. You can just cut slits in the top if you don’t have a tiny cutter. I have also found that the lid of a chapstick tube (cleaned, of course) makes a great tiny circle cutter in a pinch.

Place your top circles in place and pinch the edges together.

In a small bowl, wisk one egg with a fork. Brush on top of your pies and then sprinkle with sugar.

Place your mini pies in the fridge for 20 minutes to all to chill.

Preheat your oven to 350. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the tops are a golden brown.


Watermelon Caprese Skewers with Honeyed Balsamic Vinegar


I’ve been making Caprese skewers for years. Great for parties. Anything that is in a smaller form is just inherently more adorable. I had the idea the other day to substitute a watermelon ball for the standard grape tomato that I use. Hmm…cheese and mellon? Is this OK? I waited a week for this to sink in. I tried it. Now it’s all I can think about and I want more. Right. Now.

Watermelon Caprese Skewers With Honeyed Balsamic Vinegar

1 large watermelon

16 oz of Ciliegine or 'Cherry Size' Fresh Mozzarella

6 leaves of basil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tsp raw honey

Cut the watermelon into 3 inch rings (slices? is that a better term?). This will make it easier to get as many balls out of it as you can with your melon baller. Make as many balls as you can out of your watermelon, because, if you have leftovers you also have a great snack! Store the extras in a container filled with water to keep them fresh. These ciliengine mozzarella balls are pretty fantastic. They sell them at just about any grocery store, in the fancy cheese section, and they come in a tub filled with water.


Slice the basil leaves into thin strips, discarding the thick vein that runs down the middle. Skewer one mozzarella ball and one watermelon ball on each skewer, drape with a basil slice. In a small bowl, mix the balsamic and the honey until well combined. Drizzle over the skewers or serve on the side.

ENJOY!! I love these cute little guys!


Cucumber Cups Stuffed with Spicy Crab

Barbecue season is upon us. And as much as we need a great sundress and cute pair of wedge heels, we also need great party recipes. What makes a party food recipe great? Three qualities: 1. Tasty (obviously) 2. Travels well (in the event of off site parties) 3. Possible to sit at room temperature for a period of time without becoming a huge mess (sorry cheese dip and ice cream cake, we still love you)

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Jalapeno Popper Filled Potato Bites. The marriage of two great bar snacks

2. Olive & Goat Cheese Tartlets.

3. Caprese BLT Sliders with Puff Pastry Buns 

4. Boozy (or not) Watermelon Stars.

5. And the reason you are all here today: Cucumber Cups Stuffed With Spicy Crab

I saw these a few years ago on Iron chef. Cups made of cucumber. Brilliant. I am embarrassed to say that it took me nearly a year to figure out how it was done. Turns out, it’s so easy. All you need is a melon baller.

For a vegetarian filling, check out my Cucumber Cups With Goat Cheese Caprese 

Cucumber Cups Stuffed with Spicy Crab


  • 3 long cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup crab meat, excess water removed
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce (Tabasco or tapito)
  • 1 tsp brown mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbs minced green onion
  • Garnish with chili powder or paprika if desired


  1. Remove the peel from the cucumbers using a vegetable peeler. Cut the cucumber into 2 inch slices. Using a small melon baller, scoop out most of the inside. You want to leave the walls and a thick portion of the bottom intact.
  2. In a bowl, combine the sour cream and the cream cheese with a fork until well combined. add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Fill each of the cucumber cups with the crab dip. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve within 2 hours of making.


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Apricot Mango Creme Brulee Tart

I remember the very first time I had Creme Brulee. A friend of Mr. Fits (a very fancy friend) order it for me while we where all out for dinner at a little restaurant in Pasadena. I was young, in my last year of college, and I was too embarrassed to say that I had no idea what Creme Brulee was. So I waited. Every dessert flanked waiter who came within ten feet of my table was given a thorough visual molesting as I tried to figure out if what he was carrying was, in fact, Creme Brulee. Is that cake-like thing it? Nope. What about that Chocolate thing in that tiny ceramic pot? hmmm, wrong table. And then it was in front of me. I was intimidated. Do I pick off this thick, hard crust on the top? What do I do? I stalled and waited to see what Fancy Friend did with his. crack it open by smashing it with the tip of your spoon. I like dessert that involves very subtle violence. I loved it. The fleeting thought did cross my mind that I would love this vanilla custard with the hardened sugar top in a tart shell. Six years later, I did just that.

This week I wrote another article for the Glendale Examiner on the Montrose Farmers Market. It was there that I discovered that apricots are in the last few weeks of their season. I was so drawn to these huge bins of beautiful pale orange fruit they became the center of my recipe. I wasn’t until I was leaving the market that I noticed the lovely Manilla mangos begging to join the party. I obliged.

Apricot Mango Creme Brulee Tart

Tart Crust:

1 1/4 cups of flour

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

3-5 tbs ice coldwater

Apricot Mango Filling:

1 cup chopped apricots

1 cup chopped mango

1/4 cup of honey

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch


3 egg yolks

1/2 cup of sugar

1 1/4 cup of heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp slt

1/4 cup granulated sugar for brulee crust topping

In a food processor, combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine. Add the cubes of butter and process until combined, about 1-2 minutes. Your dough should resemble course meal. Start with 3 tbs of water, pulse until combined. If the crust doesn’t hold together add more water, a bit at a time, until it does. Dump the dough into a tart pan with a remove-able bottom. Starting with the sides, form the crust inside the pan, trying your best to make it all as even as possible. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a least 3 hours (don’t even think about skipping this step).

Heat your oven to 375.

Once your tart is all chilly cold, remove from the fridge and poke holes in it with a fork.

Place a sheet of parchment paper inside your tart and fill with pie weights. If you don’t have any, dried beans work great. Just don’t forget which beans you’ve used as pie weights and accidentally try to make soup out of them later.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until your tart is a light golden brown.

In a pot over medium heat, combine the apricots, mango and the honey. Sprinkle with the cornstarch and stir. If you hate mangos, or apricots or maybe have an undying love for one or the other, this recipe is easily altered. You need 2 cups of chopped stone fruit, you can use whatever ratio of each that you want or 2 full cups of either. You can even sub in some peaches if you wanna get craaaazy. Cook the fruit, stiring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until it is thick and the fruit is broken down a bit. Add to the bottom of the tart crust.

In a bowl, combine the yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar and whisk until light and frothy. In a pot, combine the cream, salt and vanilla and heat until steamy but not boiling. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. While you whisk the eggs, slowly, slowly add the cream, whisking until combined. If there are any lumps or "eggy bits" in your cream mixture (possibly because you didn’t let your cream cool down) strain the custard through a mesh strainer. Pour into the tart shell on top of the fruit.

Bake at 300 degrees until the edges are set and the middle is still wobbly (it will continue to set as it cools) about 40-45 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and keep cold until ready to serve. Just before serving, top the tart with an even layer of granulated sugar. Pass the flame of a kitchen torch slowly and evenly over the tart until it’s liquified and a light amber colored. Serve immediately. The sugar crust will start to break down after about an hour.



Lemon Pepper Biscuits

This was my breakfast this morning. Even if you aren’t a make-it-from-scratch kinda guy, biscuits should be the exception to that rule. A homemade biscuit tastes so wonderful, and it takes only about 10 minutes to throw these babies together. Plus, the leftovers are great for sandwiches.

Lemon Pepper Biscuits

2 cups of flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sugar

1 stick (8 tbs) butter, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 cup of carbonated water

1 tbs lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450.

I’ve mentioned this before, a time or 12, but overworking dough makes it tough. The less you work with dough the better the texture. BUT, when making biscuits it’s important to make sure that all the butter is distributed evenly or you’ll get pockets of butter that will cook differently. Your goal is to distribute the butter as quikly and evenly as possible. To do this, cut the butter into small cubes and have a food processor do the quick work for you.

Put the flour, salt pepper, zest, baking powder, baking soda and sugar in your food processor and pulse until combined. add your butter cubes and  process until the butter is evenly distributed, about 1-2 minutes. Then add the milk, lemon juice and carbonated water and process until the liquid is well combined with the dry ingredients, about a minute.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Squish together with your hands to form a ball and then flatten into a rectangle about 6 -8 inches long and 2 inches high. Use a sharp knife to cut the biscuits into squares. You can make them as big or small as you want, but this recipe will make 4-6 average sized biscuits.

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle the top with a bit of sea salt and pepper.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown.