Category Archives: Desserts

Future Desserts

I just bought a set of four of these to make individual cookie desserts for a dinner party. If they turn out, of course there will be photos and a recipe. I’m sure I will find may other uses for them. Stay tuned….



The Art of Granita

Watermelon Granita

Relaxing after a long, busy day, watching Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing. I’m a sucker for anything Whedon, well, except Dollhouse, which I bailed on after the first few months. The locusts are competing for my attention, singing their late summer song. They always bring back childhood memories of sitting on the porch swing, reading a book in the evening, trying to stay cool.

Went out to dinner with friends earlier and told them I made Watermelon Granita and their response was similar to mine, watermelon is perfect on its own, why mess with it? Why indeed? Partly because it is so pretty, partly because it is nice to have something cold, not too sweet and easy to make during the heat of summer. Granitas can be made with many flavors, I just happened to have a large seedless watermelon on hand this week.

Strawberries, lemons, oranges, a mix of berries, even coffee can be made into granita. Just substitute for the watermelon in the recipe below. Perfect, light and a burst of sophisticated flavor to top off any meal.

Watermelon Granita

  • 4 cups seedless watermelon, cut into large chunks
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • fresh limejuice from 1 large lime or 2 small limes
  • dash of lime zest
  • mint leaves for garnish

blender, shallow dish

Blend together the ingredients (except mint) until smooth. Start with 1/4 cup sugar and add more as desired. 1/2 cup is the standard recipe, but I preferred less to let the watermelon shine through.

Pour into a shallow dish and place in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove and with a fork, scrape the mixture into small ice crystals. Place back into the freezer for another hour and repeat scraping. Freeze for additional hour, scrape again and serve with mint garnish. You can also top with fresh blueberries for a very pretty dessert.


Critters Do Crazy Things and a Recipe

Alas I have no pie photos, but I do have Key Lime Bars.

I was shopping the other day and found myself wandering through the cookie aisle. I really wanted something lemon or lime, but couldn’t find anything that fit the craving. Probably because these Key Lime Bars are difficult to beat. They’re simple enough to make and really hit the spot when you want something cold and tart. You can find the recipe here.

I'm in black and white to look classy, how am I doing?

Kitteh update. They are doing well and have grown accustomed to Bixby. Everyone has their own routine with him. Jake (above) has just started to take him on by standing his ground and daring the Beast to invade his space. It took him a while to come out of his shell after Missy died, but the last few weeks he’s more his old self.


I have a vibration plate that I use every day. It sits between the cat tree and a shelf that serves as a cat perch. Jake and Zander have decided the time working out is a good time for a scritch and perch on either side of me. It doesn’t matter that I am actually working out, they make their demands known and woe to me if I ignore them.

One day, I picked Jake up and held him while the plate was on. He clearly liked it. The next day when I plugged the machine in, he jumped up on the plate. Human nature dictated that I must turn the machine on, at it’s lowest setting. I assumed he’d jump right off, but I was wrong. He stood on it and rubbed against the cat tree and thoroughly enjoyed it. It lasted for two minutes and then he was off on his way. Every once in a while, he again jumps on and I turn the machine on. I’ve up the speed a bit…the higher it goes, the smoother the vibration. I now have to limit him to five minutes, because I think he would stay on the full ten minutes if I let him.

Jake  Ahem

I keep thinking I’ll get video, but I’m guessing the moment I pick up the camera, he’d be off and throwing me a dirty look. No patience for paparazzi.

I have all the ingredients for the Jicama Slaw and I’ll put it together tomorrow. Today I made a granita and I’ll post photos and recipe tomorrow. Until then…. TaMara

Friday Recipe Exchange: Ice Cream Delights

Vanilla Nut Crunch

It’s that time again. Time to dig out the ice cream maker and try out some new recipes. I cannot express how much I love the ease of the frozen bowl style machine. No fuss, no mess.

Pictured above is this summer’s first batch, Vanilla Nut Crunch, recipe here (where there is also a bonus kitteh)

And here are four of my favorites from the past summers:

Key Lime Pie Gelato, click here for recipes and photos.

Strawberry Ice Cream, two recipes here.

Blueberry Sorbet, recipe and photos here.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato, really my very favorite of all the recipes, is here.

For the pet lovers, in case you missed it, Bixby needed to cool off in a cute video here. He now has his own kiddie pool in the yard because flooding the bathroom nightly was not an option.

What’s on your menu for the weekend? Getting ready the big holiday? Any favorite frozen treat recipes?

Double Dutch Chocolate

Tonight’s featured recipe is one of the most chocolaty ice creams ever. It takes a full cup of dark dutch cocoa and just enough sugar so it’s not too sweet. The ice cream scoop in the photo was my very first Kickstarter contribution. It works great on the hardest frozen ice cream with little effort. But in all honesty, I contributed because the presentation was so funny and the inventor was a riot.  I <3 engineers.

Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream

  • 1 cup dark dutch cocoa, unsweetened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  •  1-1/2 cups milk
  • 3-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp good quality vanilla extract

mixing bowl, ice cream freezer

In the mixing bowl, combine cocoa, sugars and salt, until well blended, add milk and use a hand mixer on low speed to combine until sugar is dissolved (about 2 minutes). Stir in cream and vanilla by hand.

Freeze according to manufacturer’s direction for your ice cream maker (for mine, I place the frozen bowl on the machine, add the paddle and the top, turn it on and then pour the ice cream mixture in while it’s turning. 30 minutes later I have ice cream).

After it has completed its freezing cycle, you usually have a soft serve consistency, you can freeze it until hard. Makes about 1-1/2 quarts.

That’s it for this week. There won’t be an exchange next week because of the holiday. I hope you have a great week and a terrific 4th! – TaMara




Frozen Treats: Vanilla Nut Crunch (and Bonus Kitteh)

Vanilla Nut Crunch

It was time to break out the ice cream maker and cool things off. I’d been focusing on gelatos the last couple of summers, but yesterday I wasn’t interested in standing over the stove and stirring an egg mixture. I dug out the instruction manual for my Cuisinart machine and sure enough, there were some simple cream-only recipes. I decided to start with vanilla.

I have two favorite ice creams, one was Ben and Jerry’s Wavy Gravy, RIP (their new hazelnut is inedible IMHO) and Blue Bell’s Moo-llenium Crunch (fingers crossed they can come back from the shut down). I’ve mastered Chocolate-Hazelnut Gelato and it’s a fine substitute for Wavy Gravy, so this time I thought I’d tackle the crunchy vanilla ice cream from Blue Bell.

From their description:

Classic vanilla ice cream with a combination of dark chocolate chunks, creamy caramel chunks, roasted pecan halves, chopped almonds and walnut pieces.

The nuts and crunch

Vanilla ice cream recipe? Check. Dark chocolate? Check. Caramel chunks? Nope, but we’ll get to that. Roasted pecans? Nope, will have to live without because I was not going to drop everything and run to the store. Almonds and walnuts? Check and check. On to the recipe:

Vanilla Nut Crunch

  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp really good vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds (raw or roasted, unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (raw)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional ;-) )

mixing bowl, ice cream maker

In the mixing bowl, combine milk, sugar and salt, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine until sugar is dissolved (about 2 minutes). Stir in cream and vanilla by hand.

Freeze according to manufacturer’s direction for your ice cream maker (for mine, I place the frozen bowl on the machine, add the paddle and the top, turn it on and then pour the ice cream mixture in while it’s turning. 30 minutes later I have ice cream).

After it has completed its freezing cycle, fold in nuts and chocolate. Freeze until hard. Makes about 1-1/2 quarts.

Remember the caramel bits? I had a bottle of caramel syrup which made a nice topping and when I was done, it was pretty darn close to Moo-llenium Crunch. I’m sure pecans will make all the difference next time.

And here is a bonus kitteh because he had to “help” me take the photos today.

Z-Man Whatcha making

For tomorrow – Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream.  Until then – TaMara


Nutella Brownies

Nutella browniesSerendipity was afoot last week. I had read a recipe for Nutella flourless brownies and promptly went to the store to buy a jar and make them. Turns out, on that same day, the creator of Nutella died at 89.

The brownies are pretty good and one of those recipes that taste much better the next day. The process is very similar to my Chocolate Flourless Cake, recipe here.

I prefer the chocolate cake, but the Nutella brownies were a good second. If I make them again, I will add toasted hazelnut pieces (they should be chopped fine so they don’t all sink to the bottom of the batter).

Both recipes are super easy and a make for a very moist chocolate treat. And gluten-free as an added bonus.

Nutella Brownies

  • 4 large Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups Nutella
  • Powdered Sugar for dusting

8×8 baking dish or springform pan, oiled and lined on the bottom with parchment cut to fit

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Beat eggs on high for 5 to 7 minutes until they have tripled in size. Beat in Nutella on low until fully incorporated*. Pour into the baking dish. Tap the dish on the counter firmly to remove any bubbles and then bake for 30-35 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out with a just few crumbs, no batter. Mine actually took about 40 minutes, but I forgot to preheat.

Cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar, cutting and serving. I found it tasted best the next day. Also it freezes very well.

*some recipes call for you to microwave the nutella, but since the jar specifically says, DO NOT MICROWAVE, I just used a spatula to scoop out most of a 13 oz jar.




Blueberry Coffee Cake

Blueberry Coffee CakeDid a little cleaning and cooking today. Recipe is here.

Should have a Bixby update today or tomorrow.


Christmas Music: 12 Pains of Christmas, Bob Rivers

It’s just not Christmas until I hear this song. I’m in the kitchen putting together what I can for dinner tomorrow night. House is clean (-ish) and I’ll have to get some actual office work done tonight, but it’s all falling together.


Pumpkin Buttermilk Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Cake Slices

This was a much more successful pumpkin recipe. Very moist, very flavorful And if you’re creative, you can make it look like a pumpkin. Because I’m at high altitude, I should have remembered to add 2 tbsp extra flour. Next time.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Bundt Cake

  • 2-1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 Tbsp buttermilk powder
  • 3 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 15 oz can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup water


  • 1 -1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk (more or less as needed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

bowls, bundt pan

Butter and flour bundt pan generously. In bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes), add eggs, beat 1 minute. Add pumpkin and vanilla and beat on low until incorporated, scraping sides frequently. Alternate adding the flour mixture and water until all are incorporated with the pumpkin mixture and batter is smooth.

Spoon into the bundt pan and gently tap pan on the counter to remove any bubbles and even out the batter.

Bake at 350 degrees until a wooden skewer comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then invert on a plate and remove from bundt pan. Let cool completely before frosting.

Icing:  Add vanilla to powdered sugar  and then slowly add milk until mixture is smooth. Pour evenly over cooled cake. (I added yellow and red food coloring for some Halloween fun)




Pumpkin Squares Revisted

I make these every year and they disappear quickly. This year was no different. Not all my pumpkin creations are a success. Playing around with an oatmeal pumpkin cookie, I came up with an inedible concoction. Luckily Bixby and his playmates were not quite so discerning, so it wasn’t a complete waste of ingredients. I was glad to whip a batch of squares up after that to restore my faith in my own cooking.

Pumpkin Squares


  •  4 eggs
  • 1-2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup oil or butter
  • 15 oz can pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice (less if desired, I like them spicy)

mixing bowl & 13×9 baking dish, greased

Beat eggs, sugar, butter & pumpkin together, add dry ingredients, mixing well. Spread into baking dish, bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. Cool & frost (frosting below). These are rich, so I would cut them into at least 24 squares.


  • 16 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-3/4 cups powdered sugar

mixing bowl

Mix together cream cheese, sugar & vanilla. Mix until smooth.

You can frost & freeze in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.  Enjoy.


Originally posted 10/2011



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