Saturday, December 31, 2011

Corn Muffins in Cast Iron Skillets

Happy New Year's Eve day!
I got up this morning  in a baking mood.  I found a bag of Bob's Red Mill Old Fashioned Stone Ground Cornbread Mix & Cornmeal Muffin Mix in my freezer. Corn muffins sounded good.   I haven't used my Lodge cast iron wedge cornbread skillet yet, so I thought I'd try the mix and the skillet.  The results were perfectly delicious! The skillet worked beautifully, and the mix was delicious.
Recipe called for 1 1/4 c water, 1/4 c oil, 1 egg. I baked these at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
I sprayed each wedge with Pam. One of the wedges I filled with water..I ran out of mix.
Makes 15 wedges or 12 muffins.  Old Weight Watchers Points: 3

The mix says "Friend of the Heart".
 Below are the nutrition facts:
Nutrition Facts
1 Muffin
130 calories        Calories from fat 50
Total Fat  6g               9% daily value
Saturated Fat .5g         2%
Trans Fat  0
Cholesterol  20mg        7%
Total Carbs  17g          6%
Dietary Fiber 2g           8%
Sugars 0
Protein 3g
Vitamin A 0
Vitamin C 0
Calcium 4%
Iron 4%

Friday, December 30, 2011

Almost New Year's Day, Time to Reflect

 After a wonderful Christmas holiday filled with  friends, family and lots of food it's time to reflect on healthier eating.
The snack shown below helped me satisfy my sweet tooth this summer that allowed me to lose a few unwanted pounds.
It's time to to get back on track for the new year, so the apples, are making a come back.
This snack makes me feel like I'm eating apple pie but without all those calories.

The gadget I use is the Borner V Slicer. There are more expensive ones out there, but this does the job and is far less complicated to operate. I have two of these Borner V Slicers. They both do the same job, but are designed differently. The two listed below come with different slicer attachments.
I can't say I prefer one over the other.  Borner also sells slicers that have specific types of cuts, you can find them on  Some of these are eligible for Amazon's Four for Three Promotion.

A simple, delicious, healthy snack:

"Baked" Apple Slices with Cinnamon - Zero Weight Watchers Plus Points; 116 Calories

 Put the medium insert into the V slicer. Place apple slices shingle style on a pretty plate or platter, dust with cinnamon through a fine mesh colander. Microwave covered for one minute. Serve warm. If your apples are too tart for your taste, you could add liquid or powdered Stevia.

Below are the different inserts, and the slices they produce.

 Very small julienne 
 Medium Slice
 Thin Slice
 Thicker Julienne
 Thickest Julienne (could be used for french fries)
Waffle Slice
 Raw apples, dusted with ground cinnamon (above)
Cooked, warm apples (below)

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas Pizzelles!

It's Christmas time, so it's time to make Pizzelles!

Today I literally dusted off my pizzelle makers.  I have three. One is an inexpensive Salton, the others are a Villaware Quattro and a Toastmaster combo waffle/pizzelle machine. (Salton - black machine with two shapes, Villaware - rectangular machine with four small shapes, Toastmaster - square machine with four larger shapes).

I made one batter, and use the three machines. The results were delicious, but varied.  The Salton made "potato chip" thin cookies. I didn't care for those. I did like the results of the Villaware and the Quattro. The pizzelle came out more like the pizzelles you would get at a bakery. They were crisp but still thick enough to have some texture.  I made more from the Villaware machine because I liked the petite size. 

In one of the photos, you will see I used a wooden gadget to make one of the pizzelles into a cone shape. You have to work fast, and I just barely made it. These cookies harden quickly.

Right after my Pizzelles were done, I had a surprise Christmas visit from some folks who had purchased a West Highland Terrier from me 15 years ago.  Since that time, we've always kept in touch and they've continued owning Westies even though there dear Harley that they got from me has passed.
I was able to see their two beautiful Westies, Zoe and Harley II, and I was able to share my Pizzelles with them.  They left me with a beautiful Westie calendar (featuring Zoe & Harley II), that I have come to look forward to receiving. 

The lasagne is done, and the pizzelle machines are cooling.  Below is the recipe for the Pizzelle cookies.
I usually double this recipe, but was simultaneously making my Christmas lasagne with my Mom, so a "three egg" batch is all I did.  

You'll see a couple lasagna photos below. If you want the recipe, just ask.

After heating up your Pizzelle maker, lightly spray with vegetable spray - only once, you will not need to spray each time you make a cookie.  Drop batter by kitchen tablespoon, or mini scoop  in the center of each rosette,
close the machine tightly, set your timer for two minutes, and immediately remove pizzelles with a fork to a flat dish or cooling rack. If they look darker than you'd like, adjust your cooking time.  Once they are cooled, you can store them in a zip bag or airtight container.  When serving, you could dust with cocoa powder, or confectionery sugar.

Merry Christmas from my kitchen to yours!
I hope I've inspired you to try some of the recipes and gadgets these past few months,
and hope to share more with you this coming new year.

Basic Pizzelle Recipe 
(not quite sure how many it makes, depends on your machine)

1 stick softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs (beaten in a separate bowl)
1 Tbsp. anisette extract (anise)
1 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
A little less than 1/4 tsp. salt
Beat with a mixer or by hand butter and sugar, add beaten eggs, anisette.
Add the dry mixture of flour, baking powder and salt.
Mixture will be sticky. 

 We did have more of these, but they were eaten. :)
 Toastermaster machine. Cone gadget.

 Villaware Quattro. The darker cookies were left in longer.

 A peek at the process of assembling our Christmas lasagna.
Completed lasagna, just need to add sauce to the top and bake on Christmas day.
Layers of goodness!

I'm not sure if Villaware's name has been changed, but this looks exactly like my machine:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Fun "Must Have" Item In My Kitchen

So many times I've used this gadget and had not thought to post it here.  Today, I will give it it's due.

I've had this for a couple years, and love it.  I gave my daughter my under cabinet electric can opener and pretty much use this all the time.  I do have a Zyliss hand crank one that I use if I can't locate this one.
I bought this item at a Tuesday Morning store when I was visiting family in Texas. After watching my sister in law using this, I knew I had to have one.
Amazon has it for about the same price I paid for it.  The ratings don't do it justice.  I've had no problems with this little wonder.  As you'll see in my video, I was able to do use it with one hand!
Without further adieu, here is the humbly named "Handy Can Opener".

The Handy Can Opener

This is exactly the same design as the Zyliss, but Amazon did not have the Zyliss.

Christmas Bread Baking - A Tale of Two Breads

Yesterday I baked two cardamom breads.  I feel a bit guilty saying that I baked them. Actually, I assembled them, the breadmakers did all the work.
The loaf of the left was made in the Sunbeam, the Oster baked the loaf on the right.  The Oster loaf  had a crispier crust, the Sunbeam loaf had a more chewy crust.  I accidentally reset the Oster, so the loaf was kneaded twice. That might explain why it is a higher loaf.
I also noticed that even when selecting the exact bread settings, the Oster had a longer baking time. It might be that the Oster has a lower voltage heating element.
Both breads were delicious.
The recipe was from a poster on  If you make it, be sure to increase the cardamom to 1 1/2 tsp, and reduce the flour to 2 3/4 cups. If you like a sweeter bread, you could add more honey or a touch of sugar.  
The two breadmakers and cooling racks are listed on this site under the "Featured Kitchen Gadgets" section.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Note to Folks on Weight Watchers

I forgot to mention to those folks on Weight Watchers that these Babycakes could be a great little snack to satisfy the sweet tooth.  They could be made and frozen in snack size zip bags.

On the Weight Watchers site, there is a cake recipe (link below) that could be used in the Babycakes gadget.

This recipe serves 24, with one serving counting as 3 Points Plus.  I can only guesstimate that 4 or 5 Babycakes made with this recipe would count as 3 Points Plus.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wow, what a difference a pen makes!

The scoop was easy, but slow. The first babycake was almost cooked by the time I finished filling all the holes.

With this "pen" gadget, I can whip right around and fill all the babycake holes in no time flat! Awesome and kinda fun to use.  I leaned a ruler against it to show you how tall this Pancake Pen is.

I also found that it was only necessary to spray the babycake holes at the beginning of the cooking process. I did not have to spray for each batch.  Made for easy clean up, and that's always a good thing.

Look What UPS Just Brought...

I was hoping to have this to use to dispense the cake batter into the Babycakes gadget, but it just arrived.  It's bigger than I thought, but that's a good thing.  It'll hold a lot of batter before needing to be refilled.  It also fills from the bottom or top and has incremental measurements along the side of the bottle.  I picked mine up on Williams - Sonoma for $10 (they had free shipping on any size order).
Amazon has the same item for $10.60 free Amazon Prime shipping.

Babycakes, it's warm inside!

I couldn't help myself. I'm a sucker for a bargain, and if it's on a kitchen gadget...I'm there.
This week someone posted a Kohl's deal that I couldn't pass up on Babycakes cake pop maker.  The deal:
Regularly $25, sale $14.99  + 20% off = 11.99, then there is a  $10 rebate  = $1.99   Really, can you blame me?

So a few minutes ago, I gave it a try.  It's awesome! So cute, so easy, so fun,  so delicious, so many possibilities.

The directions give you a "from scratch" recipe, but I decided to try a conventional cake mix.  It works great with a cake mix.   The babycakes machine comes with a fork tool to pop them out of the machine so you don't burn yourself and is also helpful in dipping them; a cooling rack and pop stand, a package of cake pop sticks and an injector if you want to fill them.  The machine has a red light - Power, and a green light - Ready. Ready only applies to when the appliance is ready for the batter. You have to use your own timer set to 4 - 5 minutes, then check with a toothpick or cake tester to see if it comes out clean - then it's ready.

In the photos, you'll see that I sprayed them with Baker's Joy. I prefer this over Pam for baking as it doesn't impart any flavor into the baked goods.  
After putting batter into the first well with the scoop shown in the photo, it was obvious the scoop was too big, so you might opt for the smallest scoop (1 Tbsp.) or just use a measuring tablespoon.
There are a few videos from individuals online, but they seem to have a big mess afterwards to clean the wells, because they overfilled or didn't use the Baker's Joy.  I learned from their mistakes, I thank them for that.

I warmed some German chocolate premade frosting in the microwave, swirled the cute little cake spheres into the frosting while the frosting and cake was still hot. Popped it in my mouth.  Delicious.  I didn't wait for the cake to cool, but the frosting would probably set better had I waited.   I'm not sure how many pops one cake batter makes, as I wanted to do one batch and post this for you.

I can see myself filling these chocolate cake goodies with whip cream and having a whoopie pie tasting pop, or dipping them in chocolate and rolling them in jimmies/sprinkles or coconut or nuts.

The book comes with some recipes, but your only limited by your imagination with this little kitchen gadget.

If you have children or grandchildren, this would be such a fun project to do with them anytime.

With my love of starches, I'm thinking maybe of putting some bread dough in the machine and dip into spaghetti sauce.   I welcome any other ideas you might have.  For sure, I'd be happy to try them out!

This is the item on Amazon, it is sold by another party through Amazon.  I did write to Amazon to tell them this price is way off from other vendors. Not sure if that'll have any affect of the seller's willingness to lower the price, but here it is none the less.

P.S. I sneaked in a pic of part of the Christmas decorations in my house.

 Christmas, partially decorated.
(All my cast iron cookware is in & under the old school desk.)
 Here it is, cute huh?
 Cake batter, scoop, Baker's Joy & babycake machine.
 Batter: The first one I overfilled, you only need 1 Tbsp.
 Popped out of the appliance, clean and ready for the next batch.
 Warmed frosting glazed onto warm cake.

You'll notice some of the slots are empty. Yes, I ate them. :0)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pre Christmas Baking - Chocolate Biscotti!

Happy Friday! I'm back in the kitchen again. Still working out the best places to put things and trying to figure out which storage bin holds which items, but all in all it's coming together.

Today the gadgets I've used are a silpat mat, Cuisinart hand mixer, Cuisinart mini food processor, Cuisinart cooling rack, Victorinox bread knife.

Being that it is the holiday season, I thought I'd prepare Chocolate Espresso Biscotti.  Not to worry, this is from the old Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook.  I didn't follow it exactly, but will give you my spin on it.


2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup slivered almonds (I used whole and chopped them in the mini food processor)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 Tbsp ground coffee fresh from your canister (I used very finely ground espresso)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp strong brewed coffee

My method:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Spray an approx. 11" x 14" cookie sheet, or line with a silpat mat
3.   Combine flour, cocoa, ground coffee, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
Use an electric mixer to blend ingredients.
4. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, eggs, brewed coffee and vanilla.
Add the sugar mixture gradually to the flour mixture, beat on low speed until well combined. The dough will be fairly dry.  Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to combine any of the mixture that hasn't blended into the dough.  Mix in the almonds.
5.  Put dough on the cookie sheet, form it into an approx. 5 x 9 inch log.
6.  Bake until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 30 - 35 minutes.  Transfer the log onto a cooling rack and let cool 10 minutes.  Put the log onto a cutting board, and with a serrated knife, cut the log crosswise into approx. 1/2 inch slices.
7. Arrange sideways back onto the cookie sheet, bake an additional 12 minutes at 300 degrees, turn at 6 minutes so both sides of the cookie get toasted.
Transfer to wire cookie rack.  They will crisp as they cool.
Makes 15 large biscotti.
WW uses the same recipe, they just divide the dough into two logs, cook them for 20 - 25 minutes and their recipe makes 42 biscotti. With an old point recipe value of 1.
54 calories, 1 g Fat, 0 g Sat Fat, 0 g Trans Fat, 10 mg Col, 35 mg Sod, 10 g Carb, 1 g Fib, 1 g Prot, 11 mg Calc.

In with the gadgets, I also posted a Delonghi espresso machine. It's appears to be a bit bigger than the one in my photos, and has good Amazon ratings.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Here is Our New (England) Kitchen!

After many weeks of roughing it, the project is done. It seemed like forever, but as projects go, I'm told this was done in good time. We started in October and the painter was the last to do his thing, he was done last Saturday.
The video might be a little jumpy, so I've also posted some still photos.  You might see my shoes on the rug in the hall pantry...they were making too much noise on the wood floor, so I kicked them off during the video.

Updated photos below the video: April 27,2012

Here is the reveal video:

Some updated & some close up photos (April 27, 2012)