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."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

S'mores Pie

I don't know if it was the recent church campout, that I was in charge of, and was so stressed out at that I never got to make a darn s'more, or if it was the five bags of marshmallows and six boxes of graham crackers leftover from said campout, or just the fact that I hadn't made a good chocolate dessert in awhile, but when I crossed this recipe, there was no doubt. I was making this next.
It's just so toasty! And chocolately! And grahamy! And yes, "grahamy" is a word, why would you even question? Under those toasty devils is a thick chocolate fudge/ganache filling, all held in by a loving homemade crust. No camping required.

Careful when reading Step 3. I didn't like the way the original recipe did it so I've made my own notes and suggestions for next time. There will definitely be a next time.

S'mores Pie
1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 1 plastic wrapped package of crackers)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
5 T unsalted butter, melted

5 oz. premium dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup whole milk
2 T unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

18 large, fresh purchased marshmallows

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, mix the graham crumbs, sugar and melted butter until well blended and crumbly. Transfer to a 9-inch freezer-to-oven pie pan and lightly press onto the bottom of the pan. Bake until set and fragrant, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.

2. Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl (I used the same as for mixing the crust.) In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and butter until the butter is melted and small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Stir to combine. Pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for several minutes, then stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the salt and vanilla until blended. Let cool completely. Pour into the crust and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

3. *Here is what the original says: Heat the oven broiler to low. Cut each marshmallow in half crosswise and arrange the halves, cut side down, to cover the top of the pie. Place the pie on the lowest rack of the oven until the marshmallows toast. Watch carefully; once they start to brown, they toast quickly. Serve while the marshmallows are still warm.

*Here is what I say: What is the point of me chilling the chocolate filling overnight for it to just melt in the oven while I wait 15 minutes for the marshmallows to toast under a low broiler? I say, heat broiler to HIGH. Put marshmallows on pie as directed above. Place pie on MIDDLE oven rack and do not take your eyes off it while they toast. You want the marshmallows to toast without the filling completley melting. But even though mine melted, it was still oh-so-yummy. And gooey just like a real s'more.

Recipe from Deep Dark Chocolate: Decadent Recipes for the Serious Chocolate Lover by Sara Perry

Saturday, September 25, 2010

French Peasant Bread

Mmm, breeeaaad. There is nothing quite like a warm fragrant loaf of soft bread you've made yourself. There is no one perfect kind out there, which is why you will find me posting bread recipes over and over on here; they are all good. I got this one from my friend Lindsay's blog - she made it for another friend Emily's baby shower for her TRIPLETS (omigosh, can't believe it.) It's got the simplest ingredient list, absolutely no kneading, and two simple rises. Didn't even get out my bread board. If you can stir with a spoon and put flour on your hands you can make this bread.

By the sound of "peasant bread" for some reason I was expecting a super crunchy crusty crust but was pleasantly surprised by how soft and tender these rounds are throughout. Wonderfully soft and melt-in-your-mouth bready. We served it up with a hearty sausage and lentil soup, but, like any homemade white bread, it would go great with anything.

French Peasant Bread
1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 T sugar
2 tsp salt
4 cups flour
Oil or cooking spray
Melted butter (about 2 T)

1. Place yeast, water, sugar and salt in a warm bowl. Stir until dissolved. Add flour and stir until blended. Do not knead. Cover and let rise 1 hour, until doubled.

2. Flour hands well and remove dough from bowl. Shape into two rounds and place on a greased cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover with a towel and let rise 1 hour more. Brush with melted butter.

3. Preheat oven to 425. Bake for 10 minutes at 425, then reduce heat to 375 and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more. Brush again with the rest of the melted butter.
Recipe from my friend Lindsay's friend Sarah

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dessert Club

My friend Kerry and I cooked this up. Have a monthly meeting of dessert lovers. On a weeknight, after the kids are in bed, but not too late. Everyone makes and brings a dessert on a theme. We taste, we discuss, we chat, we vote. The evening's favorite gets a little prize. The rest of the goodies get divided up onto take-home plates for hungry husbands, kids, roommates, neighbors, missionaries or for breakfast. Rather up my alley.

Our first meeting was a smash. The theme was "New Recipes" - make something you've never made before. We had eleven participants and the spread included:

Banana Cream Pie
Double Citrus Tart
Blackberry Ice Cream
Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Panna Cotta
Almond Custard
Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches
Nanaimo Bars
Maple Spice Cake
Ooey Gooey Brownies
S'mores Pie
Cream Puffs of Venice

I will just say it was divine. I made the S'mores Pie so I'll be posting that next. It was DANG GOOD. And I'll post the winner, too - Double Citrus Tart. Super fabulous. Ah, my kind of club. I highly recommend starting your own.

Toasted Coconut Cupcakes

Cupcakes are just awesome. They are portable, pretty and perfectly portioned. And most importantly, they are always topped with frosting.

Take these, for example. I made them for the teachers at Hazel's school when the PTA provided dinner the night of parent/teacher conferences. Because if anyone deserves a fabulous cupcake with, oh, I'll just go ahead and tell you, 23 grams of fat, it is elementary school teachers. Butter. All the way.

Toasted Coconut Cupcakes
2 3/4 cups butter, at room temperature, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons each vanilla and almond extracts, divided
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon each baking powder, baking soda, and salt
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut, plain or toasted (I toasted mine for a few minutes in the oven as it heated), divided
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream together 2 cups butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in 1 1/2 teaspoons each vanilla and almond extracts.

2. In another large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to butter and sugar mixture in 3 batches, alternating with coconut milk. Stir 1 cup flaked coconut into the batter.

3. Fill 30 paper-lined muffin cups (1/2-cup capacity) in two or more muffin pans about 2/3 full with batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing muffins from pans. Cool completely.

4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, 3/4 cup butter, and 1/2 teaspoon each vanilla and almond extract until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with remaining coconut. Makes 30 cupcakes (enough to fit in my cupcake caddy for the teachers plus 6 left over for my family.)

Recipe adapted from Sunset, June 2006

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Coconut Lime-Curd Bars

I was bringing dinner - and dessert, of course - to a friend who had just had a baby. That means no chocolate (it bothers some babies in the milk.) And it also meant no nuts (the mom is allergic.) Surprisingly, this ruled out most of my recipes in the queue (like Chocolate Caramel Hazelnut Brownies...wait for it...) so I had to take a different approach. I sat down and focused on my palate and asked what I was in the mood for (that wasn't chocolate or nuts.) Are you surprised I wanted more coconut-lime combos?

These are great for the contrasting textures of powdery crust and sweet, smooth lime curd. Also of course the great flavor combination. The original recipe did not have me cook the crust long enough, so when I poured on the lime filling, it broke the crust in parts and went through to the bottom. So I've amended the crust cooking time to let it get more set.

Coconut Lime-Curd Bars
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons lime zest
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Combine the coconut, 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and the butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times until a crumbly dough is formed. Press firmly into a greased 8-by-8-inch pan. Bake until just golden, at least 20 minutes.

2. Sift together the granulated sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, and the 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss in lime zest and combine.

3. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, lime juice, and vanilla. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture, whisking to avoid lumps. Gently pour the filling over the baked crust. Bake until the lime curd is set in the center, about 22 minutes. Cool completely in the refrigerator, about 2 hours. Cut into 16 bars and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Recipe adapted from Real Simple, May 2005

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sour Cream Muffins with Poppy Seed Streusel

You know that 7am church meeting I mentioned? Ward council. And believe it or not, I actually don't mind. Because even though it means I have to get up extra early, it also means I don't have to do a thing to get the kids ready; they just come and meet me when church starts at 9. It's all Ed those mornings.

As you might imagine, these simple sweet muffins were a hit with the 7 o'clock crowd. Of course, they don't have very high standards. But I do, and they were a hit with me, too. Someone did ask, jokingly, "Is that mold on the top?" I need to find out what he's allergic to and make him something special next month.

I'd like to dedicate these muffins to my daughter Poppy (it is the first thing I've made with poppy seeds since she was born, plus she was a champ in the Bumbo while I made them) and my Mom, who happened to have a carton of sour cream in her fridge she gave me, and I used in this recipe.

Sour Cream Muffins with Poppy Seed Streusel
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon poppy seeds

2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fat-free buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 (8-ounce) container reduced-fat sour cream
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 375°. To prepare streusel, combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

2. To prepare muffins, lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture.

3. Combine buttermilk and remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a small bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into 12 to 15 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Bake at 375° for 15 50 18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove muffins from pans immediately; place on a wire rack. Makes 12 to 15 muffins

Recipe from Cooking Light, November 2005

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Whole-Grain Blackberry Spice Muffins

I'm gonna be honest with you. I wasn't sure if these were good enough to post. I thought they were okay, but I know I was jaded by having made the Amazing Blueberry Muffins just a few days earlier. But then I took them to my monthly 7 am church meeting. Every month since December I've been bringing muffins to the meeting, always one or two new kinds to try out. And after the August meeting, one friend said, "Kari, I like all the muffins you've brought, but I think these are the best ones yet."

Really. Now that is saying something because I've brought a lot of muffins to these guys. So I looked at them in a new light and took another bite. He's right, you know. These are pretty darn good.

Whole-Grain Blackberry Spice Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon apple-pie spice (or pumpkine-pie spice)
1 cup fat-free milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups frozen blackberries (about 8 ounces)
Cooking spray
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp lemon or orange zest

1. Coarsely chop frozen blackberries, and place them back in the freezer until ready to stir into the batter. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through apple-pie spice) in a large bowl. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, butter, vanilla, and egg in a small bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring until just moist. Gently stir in blackberries.

3. For the topping, gently combine 1/4 cup sugar with lemon or orange zest.

4. Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each of 17 paper-lined muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Sprinkel muffins evenly with sugar topping. Bake at 400° for 17 to 22 minutes, rotating once during baking, until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pans 10 minutes on wire racks. Makes 17 muffins

Recipe from Cooking Light, January 2006

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Easy Sourdough French Bread

I've never made sourdough bread before. You start talking about a starter that must be fed and my eyes start to glaze over. I think of Augustus McCrae from Lonesome Dove and his biscuit starter. I just can't commit to that; I've got enough kids to take care of.

HOWEVER. If someone handed me a cheater recipe to make sourdough in my bread machine, in the usual 3 hours, faking the way to the signature tang with vinegar and sour cream, I would try it. Did try it, I mean. Awesome! Perfect, great big loaf of sourdough white, ready to go with whatever you're having for dinner, or to impress friends and neighbors. Don't know what makes this French, but hey, it sounds good in the title. French makes all bread better.

Easy Sourdough French Bread
1 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
4 cups bread flour
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Measure carefully, placing all ingredients in the bread pan in the order listed by manufacturer.Select the Basic/White cycle. Use medium or light color crust. Do not use delay cycle. Remove baked bread from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes a 2 pound loaf

Recipe from

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Quiche Lorraine

I nabbed this one off my friend Lindsay's blog awhile back when she did a recipe week of all her go-to favs. It sounded sooo good and I just happened to have two frozen pie crusts in my freezer (from the Peach Cobbler crust incident.) This is so easy, it's like Quiche for Dummies. But it's delicious - one of those greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts dishes. We had ours, as recommended by Lindsay, for dinner with green salad and crusty bread. And when your kids complain that there's green stuff and refuse to eat it for dinner, well then there's just more leftover quiche for your breakfast. And more lemon ice cream for your dessert since they won't be having any of that, either.
Unfortunately, Lindsay's recipe made a bit too much for my pie shell and some of it overflowed in the oven - burnt egg smell, eew. So I made a note on my copy of the recipe to slightly decrease some ingredients - next time I will probably use 3 eggs, 1 1/8 cup milk and 1 or 1 1/4 cups cheese just so it will fit better. Enjoy!

Quiche Lorraine (Lindsay's Recipe)
1 1/2 cups milk
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 T onion, chopped fine
1/2 green pepper, chopped fine
1/2 tsp salt
dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 lb. bacon, crisply cooked and chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 tbsp flour
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine milk, eggs, onion, green pepper, and seasonings; mix well. Toss cheese with flour. Add cheese mixture and bacon to egg mixture. pour into pie crust. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes. Serve with a big green salad and toasted crusty bread.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Banana Cupcakes with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting (from Kat)

Kat says: We had some bananas that needed using, and I didn’t want to make just regular banana bread. These are my new go-to for ripe bananas! The cupcakes are not as dense as banana bread, but still moist. The frosting is what totally makes these babies. Honey and cinnamon? Why haven’t I thought of this before? I guess that’s why I’m not making the big bucks Martha is. Martha’s frosting called for all butter – I used half butter, half cream cheese. I think next time I’ll do all cream cheese, because that would make it just that much richer and finger-lickin’ good.Banana Cupcakes with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 4 ripe bananas), plus 1 whole banana for garnish (optional)
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Mini chocolate chips, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. Make a well in center of flour mixture. In well, mix together butter, mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla [and mini-chocolate chips, if you’re so inclined. I always add chocolate chips to banana bread, because I’m that kind of gal, and the mini ones just seem to work better for me – better chocolate distribution.]. Stir to incorporate flour mixture (do not over mix). Spoon batter into muffin cups.

4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Spread tops with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting. If desired, just before serving, peel and slice banana into rounds, and place one on each cupcake. Makes 18 cupcakes.

Honey-Cinnamon Frosting
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar - SIFTED
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature OR 1/2 cup cream cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter or cream cheese until soft. Add powdered sugar, honey and cinnamon and beat until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart, Everyday Food March 2008

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