ANNOUNCING: Change is part of life, and apparently, it's part of blogging, too. As of September 5, 2013, I'm merging The Virtual Goody Plate with Disco Mom Takes on the World and whatever else may henceforth spill from my fingertips (and kitchen), into one great new blog. I hope you'll join me there in exclaiming, "THIS IS AWESOMELAND."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chocolate Pudding

The other day I really wanted chocolate pudding. I wanted something a step or two beyond the box, but did not need the heavy-cream-and-5-egg-yolk stuff I found in some recipes. I just wanted chocolate pudding. rarely fails me. I found a skim-milk-2-egg-yolk version that looked perfect. Hardly "light" but at least digestible. Plus it called for 5 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate so I took the opportunity to hit the fancy chocolate aisle and brought home some Ghiradelli and Perugina. The pudding was easy to make and the flavor could not be beat. In fact, it was still so rich we could only enjoy small servings, but then it actually lasted a few days! Sometimes there is just nothing like the creamy comfort of chocolate pudding.

2 1/2 cups fat-free milk, divided
1/3 cup sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 ounces good quality semisweet chocolate, chopped

1. Place 2 cups milk in a medium heavy sauce pan; bring to a boil.

2. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

3. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk and egg yolks, stirring well with a whisk. Add egg yolk mixture to sugar mixture, stirring well.

4. Gradually add half of hot milk to egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly.

5. Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla, and chocolate, stirring until melted. Spoon pudding into a bowl. Place bowl in large ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until pudding is cool, stirring occasionally. Cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap; chill. Makes 6 (1/2 cup) servings
Recipe from Cooking Light, August 2006

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Apricot Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

In Penzey's spice store, there are cardboard stands on top of the shelves, offering tear-off recipes using featured spices. They change the recipes about every month, and I love collecting my little stack every time I go.

Last time I went I found this little gem of a recipe for oatmeal cookies with NO RAISINS but such exotics as mace and, that's right, coriander. I do not dig raisins in very many things, including oatmeal cookies. But dried cranberries and dried apricots make a different case altogether.

This is by far my favorite oatmeal cookie; my new go-to. Awesome chewy texture, perfect flavors, though frankly next time I might double every spice - I like to really taste them!
Apricot Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unbleached flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground mace
1/2 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment or silpat.

2. Cream together sugars and butter. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture a bit at a time, mixing well after each addition.

4. Mix together the pecans, apricots and cranberries in the bowl that used to hold the flour. Alternate adding the oatmeal and fruit/nut mix to the batter, mixing well after each addition.

5. Form walnut-sized balls of dough and place on cookie sheets. Bake for about 12 minutes, keeping dough in refrigerator between batches. Let cool on tray; if you try to move them while still hot they will fall apart. Makes about 27 cookies

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Toronto Blueberry Buns

OK, I admit. They had me at hello. Toronto is a city dear to my heart and I would make almost anything with it in the title. These are apparently modeled after a blueberry bun at the Open Window Bakery.However, with this post I am actually breaking VGP Cardinal Rule #1: Only post recipes I actually recommend making.

I mean, the buns are OK. I'd even call them good. But the effort-to-result ratio (E:R) is ridiculously high and they're just not worth it.

But since I put so much time into them, and in fact tried to make them twice (the first time I broke VGP Cardinal Rule #7: Read the entire recipe before embarking, and #9: Don't be an idiot and start a 4-hour baking project at 9pm), I am just posting this to get credit for all my work.

Toronto Blueberry Buns
1 cup warm water
1 T rapid-rise yeast
5 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Blueberry Filling:
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T cornstarch dissolved in 3 T water

1 large egg
Pinch sugar
Regular or coarse sugar for dusting

1. In a mixer bowl, whisk warm water, yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 cup flour to mixture and then add sugar, eggs, butter, salt, vanilla, and most of remaining flour. Knead with dough hook on lowest speed, 5 to 8 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to make a soft dough.

2. Remove dough hook and place dough in greased bowl. Spray with cooking spray. Cover and allow to rise in warm place (I put it on my back porch in the summer) for 70 to 90 minutes or until almost doubled.

3. Meanwhile, for blueberry filling, place blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and heat gently. Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring berries and letting them just burst open, until mixture becomes like pie filling, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove filling from heat, turn out into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed.

4. Turn out dough onto lightly floured work surface and gently deflate. Divide in half and roll out to 1/2-inch thickness, allowing dough to rest a few minutes afterwards so it does not retract too much. Cut dough into 5-inch circles.
5. Whisk egg and pinch of sugar in small bowl. Place dough cutouts on baking sheets lined with silpat or parchment. Brush edges of dough circles with egg wash; deposit blueberry filling in middle of each.
6. Seal; press edges with a fork. Brush again with egg wash and dust with regular or coarse sugar. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 to 60 minutes until almost doubled.

7. Preheat oven to 350. Bake buns until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 12 to 16 buns.
There. I did it.

Recipe from A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fresh Lime Chiffon Cake

It's just so nice of everyone to keep having birthdays! I made this a few week's ago for a girls' night birthday party at my house. Lime is such a mouthwatering flavor, but I had no idea it could be this good in a cake.

I'd never made a chiffon cake before, but it was how it sounds - in texture, about halfway between angel food and regular white cake. In flavor, whatever you make it. In this case, DELICIOUS!

It was an occasion to buy 8-inch round pans. I only had 9-inch, and I'm sure they would have been fine, just cut down the cooking time, but I wanted to do it by the book, so I got 8-inch. They cooked up light and golden, and then came my favorite part - assembly! The filling is so simple and so perfect - lime juice, lime zest, sweetened condensed milk. What more could you want? Except maybe an icing of Cool Whip, sugar and more lime juice. Talk about a summery treat!

And since there are three components to this cake - the cake, filling and frosting, each requiring lime juice, I added it all up so I could get all the juicing done at once. This recipe calls for a TOTAL of 11 T of lime juice, or 2/3 cup. It took about 3 1/2 limes for me. You also need a TOTAL of 2 tsp lime rind (about 2 limes.)

Fresh Lime Chiffon Cake

1 tsp finely grated lime rind
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

cooking spray
1 T cake flour
2 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
7 T canola oil
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 T water
1 tsp finely grated lime rind
1 tsp pure lemon extract
3 egg yolks
8 egg whites
1 tsp cream of tartar

3 T sugar
2 T lime juice
2 1/2 cups fat-free whipped topping, thawed
Fresh mint springs, blueberries, lime wedges, etc. (optional), for garnish

1. Prepare filling: Combine lime rind, lime juice and sweetened condensed milk in a small bowl, stirring until blended. Cover and chill 3 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 325. Coat bottoms of three 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray; line bottoms with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; dust with 1 T flour.

3. Place egg whites in large mixer bowl; beat with mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, 1 T at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Pour into another bowl to hold until needed.

4. In the same mixer bowl, combine 2 cups cake flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until combined.

5. In a medium bowl, combine oil, lime juice, water, rind, lemon extract, and egg yolks in medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add oil mixture to flour mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.

6. Gently stir in one-fourth of egg white mixture into cake batter; gently fold in remaining egg white mixture. Divide cake batter evenly among prepared pans, spreading evenly. Break air pockets by cutting through batter with a knife. Bake 20 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans. Remove wax paper. Cool completely on wire racks.

7. To prepare frosting, combine 3 T sugar and 2 T lime juice in a small glass bowl. Microwave on high for 20 seconds at a time until sugar dissolves. Cool completely. Fold into whipped topping.

8. Assemble cake! Place 1 layer on cake plate. Spread with half of filling. Place second layer on top; top with remaining filling. Place third layer on top.Spread frosting over top and sides. Garnish, slice and serve. Can be stored covered in refrigerator up to 3 days.

Recipe from Cooking Light, June 2006

Monday, September 14, 2009

Strawberry New York Cheesecake-Stuffed Blondies

I made these mouthfuls of cheesey bliss for our housewarming party back in July. I obviously took pictures but after the party I kind of forgot about posting these bars because there was so much else going on, and they weren't sitting around reminding me (they had all been eaten within hours.)

Then a few weeks ago a friend who had been at the party told me he had never gotten over how good these blondies were and he wanted me to come over and teach him and his wife how to make them. Slightly embarrassed, I told him I would be sure to get them the recipe. I mean, when people want the goods, who am I to hold back?

This recipe is all about layering. In fact, I was so please with myself at having accomplished all the layering and swirling and getting it into the oven, I positively forgot the last step, which is sprinkling white chocolate chips on the hot bars when they come out, then smearing them around after they've melted. Talk about over the top. But mine were still good.

Graham Layer:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full sheets)
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Layer:
10 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T flour

Blondie Layer:
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
2/3 cup strawberry jam
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray sides and bottom of a 9x13 pan.

2. For Blondie Layer, in a medium saucepan over very gentle heat, melt butter and brown sugar together and cook until sugar dissolves somewhat (5 to 8 minutes.) Spoon into a medium mixing bowl and let cool to room temperature.

3. For Graham Layer, toss graham crumbs, brown sugar and butter in bottom of pan and press to cover pan bottom.
4. For Cheesecake Layer, place cream cheese and sugar in a food processor and blend briefly. Then add egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and flour and blend to make a smooth batter.

5. Blondie Layer, continued - Into cooled brown sugar/butter mixture, blend egg, flour, baking powder, salt and nuts. Spread batter evenly over graham crust, using a wet knife or spatula.
6. Spread on half of strawberry jam.
7. Top with cream cheese batter.
8. Using a metal spatula, swirl cream cheese batter deeply into blondie batter so that bottom crust, cheesecake batter and blondie batter marbleize.
9. Top with spoonfuls fo remaining strawberry jam and swirl briefly.
10. Bake 25 to 28 minutes. Squares will seem set but might be slightly jiggly. Remove from oven; sprinkle on white chocolate chips adn then smear after 10 minutes as chips melt. Cool 30 minutes on a wire rack. Chill bars in refrigerator. Cut into squares in pan.
Recips from A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

Friday, September 11, 2009

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This recipe is not a revelation. I've hardly met a chocolate zucchini cake I didn't like. They are usually moist, sweet and yummy.
This is just the most recent one I've made...and loved.3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
3 (1-ounce) unsweetened chocolate baking squares, melted
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated zucchini (about 5)
1 cup pecans, chopped
Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer. Gradually add granulated sugar; beat until blended. Add chocolate and oil; beat until blended. Gradually add flour mixture; beat at low speed until blended. Fold in zucchini and pecans. Pour batter into a well-greased and floured Bundt pan.

3. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Recipe from Southern Living, August 2002

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Orange Bubble Bread

As you can imagine, with all this baking my palate is changing. What used to be considered fabulous is slowly becoming "good." I try a lot of recipes that are only "ok," which just isn't up to par, and don't post them.

So when I say this bubble bread (pluck-it, monkey bread, pull-bread, etc.) is OUTSTANDING, I want you to know I really, really mean it.
Yes, it takes a long time, like anything with yeast does, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. The mixing and first rise can be done in the bread machine, which I LOVE. It makes me feel like I'm doing less work, though it's not really that much less. Then it rests, you divide it into roll-size balls, dip in melted butter and roll in the perfectly simple combination of sugar and orange rind. Then you pile it all up in a tube or Bundt pan and let it rise again. When it cooks, the butter-orange-rind-sugar turns into sticky glazey perfection and it's JUST. SO. YUMMY.
But can you ever really have enough glaze? Another quick drizzle of powdered sugar and orange juice finishes the job. Seriously, these rolls are positively perfect. There's nothing else to say.
1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons bread-machine yeast
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
1/4 cup butter, melted
Cooking spray

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice

1. Combine milk, butter, sugar, water and salt a 2-cup glass measure. Microwave at HIGH for 3 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Follow manufacturer's instructions for placing milk mixture, flour, yeast, and egg into bread pan, and select the dough cycle; start bread machine. (OR mix the ingredients into a soft dough, place in greased bowl, cover and allow to rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.)

2. Remove dough from machine (do not bake). Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead 30 seconds. Cover dough; let rest 10 minutes.

3. Divide the dough into 24 equal portions, shaping each into a ball (cover remaining dough to keep from drying). Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and rind. Dip each ball into 1/4 cup melted butter, and roll in sugar mixture. Place balls in bottom of a 10-inch tube pan (or Bundt pan) coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

4. Preheat oven to 350°.

5. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack.

6. Remove bread from pan. Cool bread 15 minutes on wire rack.

7. Combine 1/2 cup powdered sugar and orange juice. Drizzle mixture over loaf, and serve warm.

Recipe from Cooking Light, January 2001

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

Oh, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, how do I love thee?

Here is yet another way.I go through phases in my baking. I haven't been so into cookies lately; I'm taking a break. But a few weeks ago I went on a cake recipe hunt that resulted in a stack of about 8 or 10 that I can hardly make fast enough. Of course a cake really requires an occasion, preferably where there will be enough people to eat all or most of it in one sitting. I don't really need a lot of cake sitting around my kitchen.

Luckily, people have birthdays. My friend Alicia, for example. We had a little birthday lunch with some friends and guess what I volunteered to bring. Shocking, I know.Allergics aside, can anyone resist chocolate and peanut butter? They are meant to be together, especially when it's done well. Hello - peanut butter cake, cream cheese peanut butter filling like an inch thick, fudgy frosting, and lots of nuts and peanut butter cups on top. Totally for a special occasion. Or a Thursday.

I was a little worried about the cake. I've made peanut butter muffins from a few different recipes and they've always been dry or chewy or bland. Not so here - the cake has proper crumb and lovely flavor. The whole ensemble is a bit rich but whatever! It's FABULOUS.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk

Peanut butter filling:
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk

Fudge Frosting:
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
About 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons milk

Reese's peanut butter cups, quartered
1/2 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar, 1/2 cup butter, and peanut butter until creamy. Add vanilla and eggs to the butter mixture 1 at a time, scraping down the inside of the bowl as needed. Beat in flour mixture and milk in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour and making sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next.

2. Butter and flour 2 round 9-in. cake pans. I also line the pan bottoms with parchment or wax paper. Divide batter evenly between pans.

3. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

4. Cool cakes 5 minutes. Invert onto a rack, remove pans, and let cool to room temperature, at least 40 minutes.

5. Make frosting: Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Add butter and beat on high speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 3 cups powdered sugar and the milk; beat until smooth. Add more powdered sugar if frosting seems too thin.

6. Make filling: In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, beat together peanut butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk until smooth and fluffy.

7. Assemble cake: Dollop 1 tbsp. peanut butter filling onto a cake stand (to hold cake in place). Place 1 cake layer on stand. Spread with remaining peanut butter filling. Top with second layer. Starting with the top, then working down the sides, frost cake with fudge frosting. Decorate the top edge with candy pieces and peanuts.

Recipe from Sunset magazine, May 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

JoAnn's Big "Eat 'Em Today" Cinnamon Rolls

Happy September! In honor of Back to School Month I am moving these BEST CINNAMON ROLLS on EARTH to the front of the queue - they are the PERFECT after school snack.Ever since starting this blog I have been on the hunt for a truly divine cinnamon roll recipe. I've tried three or four over the months but none were quite what I was looking for. I wanted something soft, yeasty, stretchy and perfectly sweet and spicy. I don't know why I was looking so hard, when I had JoAnn Randall's recipe at my fingertips all along.

JoAnn is my friend Shanna's mother. I've never actually met her - she lives in Rigby, Idaho - but I have heard endless wonderful stories about her and I have tasted many of the recipes that come from her kitchen, each better than the last. As a farmer's wife and mother of ten, JoAnn made almost everything from scratch, three times a day, seven days a week, for years and years for her family. I imagine in those circumstances it wouldn't take long to become a pretty amazing cook. At least in JoAnn's case that is definitely true.
These are called "Eat 'Em Today" Cinnamon Rolls because the fresher they are, the better. But I have frozen some, double wrapped in plastic and foil, to be microwaved later, and they still satisfy mighty well. JoAnn used to make these for things like football teams and church brunches since they make two dozen. The day I made them, I kept a pan for myself (ahem, I mean my family), brought some to my neighbor from whom I'd borrowed a beach umbrella for the Assateague Island trip, took half a dozen to my sister Maren's family, and shared some with the guys working on our basement (it was only human of me since they had to smell them cooking all morning!)

A few notes - the recipe I got was a copy of the one Shanna had, and in reading it, it was obviously written for someone who already knows the recipe. I had to call her to ask for things like length of raising times and amounts of filling ingredients since they never measure, they just know what to do. I did some estimates but there is wiggle room for what you like. Just don't wiggle too much or they won't be the BEST CINNAMON ROLLS on EARTH.
So if you've got a great cinnamon roll recipe, pass it my way, I'd love to make it and compare. But if you don't have one, look no further. You do now. You can thank JoAnn.

JoAnn's Big "Eat 'Em Today" Cinnamon Rolls

4 cups milk, scalded
2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
6 T butter, melted
2 T yeast
1/2 cup warm water
10 to 12 cups flour

Soft butter
Lots of cinnamon
Lots of brown sugar
Raisins and/or nuts, optional

1/4 cup soft butter
4 T cream or milk
4 to 5 cups powdered sugar
1/2 to 1 tsp vanilla and/or almond extract (I did 1/2 tsp of each)

1. Dissolve yeast and a pinch of sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Heat milk until steaming and bubbles form around edge but not boiling. Cool slightly. Add beaten eggs, salt, sugar, melted butter, and yeast/water mixture; mix well. Add flour 1 cup at a time but don't add too much - the dough should still be quite sticky.

2. Place dough in very large greased bowl, cover and raise for about 45 minutes. Punch down and raise again for about 45 minutes. (I put the dough in my biggest bowl and it was still spilling over the edges and onto the counter after the second rise. I obviously need a bigger bowl.)

3. Pour dough onto large clean floured surface. Knead a little flour into the dough to make it easy to handle. Divide dough in half and set one half aside. Roll remaining half into a large square. Top with softened butter. Sprinkle cinnamon on very generously. Then spread handfuls of brown sugar around generously. Sprinkle on lots more cinnamon. If adding nuts and raisins, press them gently into the dough. Raisins go along the top 2 inches of dough so they will be in the center of the rolls.

4. Roll the dough tightly from top towards you. Use dental floss to divide in half, half again, and then in thirds, for 12 rolls total. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment, silpat, or sprayed with cooking spray, a dozen per sheet. Repeat with other half of dough.

5. Allow rolls to rise, covered loosely with plastic wrap, for about 25 minutes. The way to tell if they are ready is: if you poke the dough and it follows your finger out, they need to rise some more. Your poke should leave a mark.

6. Heat oven to 400. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (watch them after 15 so they don't overcook.)

7. To prepare frosting, cream butter and 1 T cream. You could add a little cream cheese if you like. Add powdered sugar and extract. Add the rest of the cream gradually until it's a spreading consistency you like. Frost rolls while still warm. Little helpers like this part.
Recipe from JoAnn Randall
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