Friday, December 31, 2010


I just noticed I have some followers! Hello out there! Thanks for following! See you in 2011!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Buckeye Birthday Cake

This recipe was published in the paper over a year ago, but I didn't have the opportunity or inclination to make it until my birthday this year. I'm not 100% sold on it since the layers did not cooperate in standing upright and once it was cut it collapsed into a delicious mess.
The glaze was a bit of terrific, and I've already used it on another cake.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

2010 Fall Television Schedule

I set my Seasons Passes for the fall and I have surprisingly few conflicts, which makes for a stuffed TiVo. It also gives me less shows I have to watch live, On Demand or online. I think most of the NBC shows are available On Demand, which is convenient for Monday and Thursday nights. And of course, the shows on cable repeat frequently so my TiVo catches them whenever.

A fall online schedule can be found here.

8:00 PM
TiVo: How I Met Your Mother
Live: Chuck
Online/On-Demand/Cable: Adventure Time
Online/On-Demand/Cable: Little People, Big World

9:30 PM
TiVo: Mike & Molly

10:00 PM
TiVo: Hawaii Five-O

8:00 PM
TiVo: No Ordinary Family

9:00 PM
TiVo: Life Unexpected

10:00 PM
TiVo: Chopped

8:00 PM
TiVo: Undercovers

9:00 PM
TiVo: Modern Family
Online/On-Demand/Cable: Man v. Food

9:30 PM
TiVo: Cougar Town

10:00 PM
TiVo: South Park
Online/On-Demand/Cable: Top Chef: Just Desserts

8:00 PM
TiVo: Bones
Online/On-Demand/Cable: Community

8:30 PM
Online/On-Demand/Cable: 30 Rock

9:00 PM
TiVo: The Office

7:00 PM
TiVo: Batman: The Brave and The Bold

8:00 PM
TiVo: Smallville

10:00 PM
TiVo: Blue Bloods
Online/On-Demand/Cable: The Soup
Online/On-Demand/Cable: The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (IFC)

9:00 PM
TiVo: Masterpiece Contemporary or Masterpiece Theatre

9:00 PM
TiVo: Masterpiece Mystery!
Online/On-Demand/Cable: The Next Iron Chef

10:00 PM
Online/On-Demand/Cable: Iron Chef America

The only shows not listed are Running Wilde, Raising Hope, and Wildcats, which I watched once or twice each but didn't commit to. And does anyone know what happened to Human Target? I loved that show!

Dressed-Up Cake

Last year, I posted a picture of the cake I make almost every year for my younger sister's birthday. This year, I remembered to bring my camera in order to take a picture of the cake as served. Pictured is Sunshine Chiffon Cake with a strawberry coulis, fresh whipped cream and fresh strawberry.

Cake styled by the birthday girl.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Banana Bread

I make banana bread whenever I have overripe bananas. I don't usually plan it. But on occasion I actually buy extra bananas and intentionally let them get too ripe to eat. I have a bunch of recipes for banana bread, but this time around I used the Kitchen-Aid recipe. The only change I made was adding cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.
The loaf pictured was one that I didn't get to eat since I gave it to some friends who were in from out of town. I did try some of its sister loaf, which was delicious.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mini Key Lime Pies

These tiny Key Lime Pies were dessert for a Labor Day barbecue. My original intention was to make one regular-size pie, but when I was in the baking aisle looking for graham crackers for the crust I found these mini pie shells. I stretched the filling to make 10 servings so we would each have one. I topped the filling with some fresh whipped cream (not made by hand) and a little key lime zest. So cute!

Labor Day morning, I called Whole Foods to see if they carried key limes and the guy on the other end said they did, and that they had them both in a bag and loose. I got to the store and, of course, couldn't find the key limes. I bought some loose limes and went to customer service afterward to tell them that they had given me bad information. The guy apologized and said the produce manager told him there were key limes. I left, and as I was leaving the customer service guy ran out holding a bag of key limes. I went back in and returned the regular limes for the bag. As I was completing the transaction, I saw the produce manager. I'm pretty sure he came out from the produce department just to scowl at me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Up a Tree

This squirrel cracked me up the other day since he was running all around with an apple in his mouth. He ran up the tree in my front yard and then part of the way down. He was posed long enough for me to find my camera, turn it on and snap a few shots. Eventually, he ran down and onto the street and sidewalks. Lucky for me, he didn't try to get into my house.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Whipped Cream

The other day on Chopped, two of the contestants whipped cream by hand. I never do that. If I'm at home (which I never seem to be when I'm whipping cream), I use my Kitchen-Aid mixer and the whisk attachment. When I'm elsewhere, I use a hand mixer.

Tonight, I was in the mood for something sweet so I took a cupcake out of the freezer and thought I'd top it with some whipped cream. I had heavy cream left over from the Key Lime Pies I made for Labor Day so I decided to try my hand at whipping.

It took less than five minutes and wasn't as hard as I thought, but I'd definitely use an electrical appliance if I could.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cars n' Trucks

Here are pictures of the cake and cookies from a young boy's birthday party, which had a loose theme of cars.

Grandma Cuckoo's Swedish Cut-Out Cookies

I made the cookies thick and the frosting fluffy, which is hard to see in the pictures. I frosted the cake, but left the decorating to the boy's mother. But, it was my idea to make the cake a road and put some of the cars and trucks cookies on it.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Melt Bar and Grilled

Melt Bar and Grilled
13463 Cedar Road
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118
Dinner: July 25, 2010 (takeaway)

Mighty Macaroni Melt

Although it took me a few weeks to get to the Cleveland Heights Melt after it first opened, I've made good use of my Big Cheese Club card in last couple of months. In fact, I visited there a total of five times in July! On my first (July 2) and last (July 30) visits I ordered the sandwich of the month, which is the Firecracker Chicken: hot diablo blackened chicken, cool sliced avocado, sweet grilled pineapple and pepperjack cheese. My second visit I got my usual order of the Big Popper: fresh jalapeno peppers, cheddar & herbed cream cheese, beer battered and served with mixed berry preserves. Both sandwiches blend a little bit of sweet with a decent amount of heat. The cheese in each goes so well with both sweet and spicy elements and truly binds the sandwiches together.

On the third visit, I tried the Tokyo Tuna Melt: Asian marinated grilled yellowfin steak, ginger wasabi dressing, lettuce, tomato, muenster. I ordered the tuna rare, which was probably a mistake since the sandwich was a little too fishy to be truly delicious. It was good, but not great.

Pictured is the Mighty Macaroni Melt that was available for one day only in celebration of Christmas in July. The sandwich is creamy homemade macaroni and cheese that's breaded and fried to a golden brown and grilled with American cheese on thick sliced white bread. It was carb-o-licious!

Whether I order in or get takeout, I always skip the slaw and order double fries for an extra $.25. The slaw is too peppery for me to be enjoyable, which is too bad since I like most coleslaws. On most of my visits I was denied pickles because I was told by both servers and hosts that the pickles come with the slaw and not the sandwich. However, on my last visit my waiter told me that pickles are free(!) and that whoever told me differently was wrong. He gave me a large side of pickle slices for no charge.

My only complaint, which is not really a complaint, about Melt would be the servers and hosts/hostesses. There is definitely a "Melt" attitude that the front of house workers exude. I know they're very busy, and I've been told that they don't get breaks so maybe that's why the staff isn't overly nice. They aren't rude or nasty, just not especially friendly. They ARE all extremely knowledgeable about the menu and make helpful suggestions about drinks, but getting one to smile is like trying to break a guard at Buckingham Palace!

Most people who have heard of Melt know that the wait for a table can be hours long. Even a takeaway order can take over an hour to be ready. I would suggest going mid-afternoon (2-3 PM) or after 10PM if you can. Or head straight to the bar and eat there with little to no waiting.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Carrot Cake

Usually when I'm making dessert for a holiday, I ask some of those attending if they have any ideas about what I should make. I threw the question out a few days before the 4th of July and didn't really get a response. I asked my grandmother and she said, "make whatever you want." So I said, "I think I'll make brownies." And she said, "no brownies." Then I remembered that I had a bag of carrots and a brick of cream cheese in the fridge so I quietly decided to make carrot cake.

I got a late suggestion of Key Lime Pie, which I turned down because of the number of people attending (I'd have to make 2 pies). The person who suggested it didn't have any carrot cake in protest (supposedly she doesn't like carrot cake, also she said it was too "heavy" for a summer barbecue.) She did have some Rice Krispies Treats, which I made as a second dessert.

The carrot cake recipe comes from a former friend and is actually very light and moist. The only change I make is cutting down the sugar from a whopping 2 cups to a heaping 1.5 cups. I whipped the cream cheese frosting a little longer than usual to get it airier too. I thought it was a perfect summer holiday cake.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spinach Pie

Whole pie

Savory slice

I got the recipe for this pie from my friend's parenting magazine. It's surprisingly simple and delicious. I'm not sure why they called it a pie and not a quiche. Maybe it's the ratio of egg to other ingredients in the filling. My only big modification to the original recipe is to make my own pie crust. This crust is 2/3 white (all purpose) flour and 1/3 whole wheat flour. It was really good with this type of pie, but I don't think I'd use it for a sweet one. I couldn't find a link to the recipe online, so here it is:

Spinach Pie
2 tsp olive oil
2 cups diced onion (one large)
1 9-inch frozen pie shell (or crust from scratch)
Scant 1 cup reduced-fat milk
3 large eggs
1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 tsp pepper
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
1. Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil in skillet. Add onions and saute on medium high for 10-15 minutes, until they're soft and caramelized. Remove; let cool slightly.
2. Prick pie shell with a fork; bake 10 minutes. Crust from scratch does not need to be pre-baked. Meanwhile, whisk milk, eggs, cheese, garlic powder, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Add onions and spinach.
3. Pour egg mixture into cooled pie shell and bake 45-60 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Edges of pie should be browned.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

All Rise

This song popped up on my iPod the other day. It's from Volume 49 of the British version of "Now That's What I Call Music" that was released a while back. It's got a good beat and it's easy to dance to, but it's very much a boy band song. It makes no sense.

What makes this song particularly great is all the legal terms thrown in. Here are my favorite lines:

"And if you thought you had me fooled, I'm telling you now, objection overruled!"

"I'm going to tell it to your face, I rest my case!"

"I just can't wait, now the case is open wide"

"You'll try to pray, but the jury will decide."

I'd like to file an appeal since this video should have been set in a courtroom.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Top Chef 2010

I went to a fundraiser at St. John Medical Center which was a competition between four local chefs: Ellis Cooley, Jonathon Sawyer, Jonathan Bennett and Regan Reik. Actually, it was two competitions since there was a winner by popular vote and a winner by judges vote. One of my favorite food experts, Ted Allen was the host and one of the judges. The other judges were Al "Bubba" Baker and the 2009 winner of the Top Chef event, Brandt Evans. I took pictures of the food because it was mostly pretty and delicious. The descriptions aren't mine but are from the souvenir program.

Terrine of Beets and Lake Erie Creamery Goat Cheese, Beet Gastrique and Beet Paper
Sirloin of Beef Roulade Short Ribs, Corned Beef, Lobster Carrot Puree and Parmigiano
[Not Pictured]
Beets are one of my favorite vegetables and the goat cheese complimented them very well. The beet paper was insanely sweet and crunchy. I'm not sure how I missed taking a picture of the entree. It was hearty and satisfying, but there might have been too many ingredients fighting for attention. The slight sweetness of the corned beef paired well with the naturally sweet puree and the short ribs were more tender and tastier than other beef ribs I've had. The appetizer tied for my favorite of the night and the entree was my second favorite making Chef Cooley the winner of my vote. Sadly, he did not win.

Fois Gras Steamed Clams with Butter, Red Onion Brulee, Late Harvest Viognier Vinegar and Grilled Bread

Ohio Lamb Crepinette with Heirloom Vegetable Ratatouille

Chef Sawyer's clams were my other favorite appetizer of the night. They were perfectly cooked and were not in the least bit chewy, as is often the case with clams. The broth was light but packed with flavor and was oh so good to dip the [not pictured] grilled bread. I *might* have had three servings of the clams. I'm not the biggest fan of the gaminess of lamb, but the crepinette made the best of it. The ratatouille was more of a sauce than a layered side dish, which allowed me to enjoy the entree as a whole since I could use the stewed vegetables to mask the lambiness of the meat. Anyone who enjoys the taste of lamb would have given the dish 4 stars.

Spiced Poach Shrimp, Coarse Gazpacho and Whipped Cilantro

18-Hour Ohio Pork Shoulder, JB's Grits and Spicy Peach Slaw
Chef Bennett's creations won the fan vote, which really surprised me. My shrimp was poached to perfection but didn't have a hint of spice. The gazpacho was more like a bed of thinly sliced vegetables with a slight kick and was only vaguely reminiscent of the taste of gazpacho. It was good, but not great. I would be impressed if a friend served it, but disappointed if I ordered it in a restaurant. The pork was outstanding. It was tender and juicy and was the star of the plate. The grits were a touch too sweet for my taste, and I didn't really like the peach slaw. The fruit tasted pickled and had spices that hid any natural peach flavor. However, I can't say enough good things about the crunchy pork cracklings that were not in the description but made a surprise appearance on my plate. I wouldn't doubt if those pork rinds were what won over the voters.

Forest Mushroom Terrine, Sorrel Ice Cream, Sorrel Coulis and Aged Balsamic Dressing

Copper River Salmon with House-Made Pancetta Wrap, Ohio Strawberry Jam and Mustard Green Pierogi
These plates won the judges vote, which is hardly unexpected since they were by far the most beautiful dishes of the night. The appetizer looked like it would have been bursting with earthly mushroom and sweet leek flavor, but was sadly bland. The liquid-nitrogen made ice cream was cool in more than one way, but unfortunately tasted like sorrel, which is bitter and overpowering. It also stuck to the plate. The entree was my favorite of the night. The sweet-on-sweet combination of salmon and strawberry jam worked so well and the salty goodness of the pancetta was the right accompaniment. And unlike the sorrel in the appetizer, the bitter greens in the pierogi made a great counterpoint to the fish. And the mini-size was too cute. My only complaint were the pin bones in my salmon.

Bonus Pre-Dessert compliments of Chef Sawyer! Peanut Butter Cookie pictured atop Ted Allen's book, "The Food You Want to Eat"

Tiny cupcakes from A Cookie and A Cupcake in Tremont

More tiny cupcakes.
People seemed to like the cupcakes. I tried one chocolate and one yellow. Fairly standard fare.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

History One Day Will Rave

I'm on a bit of a losing streak with Words with Friends. I've lost five of my last six matches. But, I got a great bingo today, which I hope means that I will soon be winning games again.

When I played this word I couldn't help but think of the Muppet version of The Frog Prince when Taminella keeps shutting up Robin by stuffing popovers in his mouth. "Have a popover froggy!"

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

I liberated some cans of pumpkin from my grandparents' house because of their expiration dates. I wanted to make pumpkin cupcakes with them, but then it dawned on me that I could make pumpkin muffins. The recipe comes from the same muffin book I always use, but I made it with a combination of AP and whole wheat flour. They were dense, but not in a bad way. Pictured is a jumbo-sized one that I made with the leftover batter. The recipe was supposed to make 12, but it made a dozen regular-sized and four jumbos. That's nearly enough leftover batter for another dozen!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Cake for Hire

Some people have suggested that I sell my baked goods. Here's the problem, (I've said it before, but I'll say it again) I'm a great baker but a lousy decorator. For instance, would you pay for this cake?

Good picture of lettering (made with mini chocolate chips)

Good picture of frosting
The above cake was chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. To make the cake a little richer, I added some instant coffee. It gave it a coffee undertone but didn't turn it into a mocha cake. The frosting was a little thick so I thinned it out with a bit more milk. The kid graduating said it was the best cake ever! High praise from a true connoisseur.

Here's a cake that I did not decorate. It was from a local bakery and was served at a party held to watch the last episode of Lost. I like how they did the frosting flames and splashing water. The cake was your basic chocolate with white icing. The taste was just okay, but isn't it nicely decorated?
I think there is a market for my cupcakes, cookies and muffins since those baked goods require little to no artistic talent to make them look appetizing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Listen To This

I downloaded a new app for my iPod Touch called Top 100's by Year by Bing. The app streams the "top 100" songs from each year from 1947 to 2010, one year at a time. The app information describes the tunes as, "songs that have stood the test of time" so they aren't necessarily the most popular songs of the years. Although the songs play on a shuffle mode, you can skip ones that you don't want to hear.

I'm not sure I would have paid for it since I don't generally buy apps for my iPod, but it's worth a free download. It's completely entertaining to listen to songs from a particular year. But I wonder who ranked the songs on the lists? Is Free Bird really the top song of 1973?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blue Velvet Cupcakes

One of my colleagues recently had a baby boy so we had cupcakes to celebrate! I used the red velvet cake recipe, but substituted blue dye for red, which somehow produced cupcakes that were kind of green. The picture doesn't quite do the color justice. The cream cheese frosting was tinted light blue, which was also hard to capture in the picture.
Red velvet isn't my favorite cake, to be sure, but I love the frosting!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day and Night Baked Goods

It seems that I forgot to post these pictures of my Easter baked goods. The first is Sour Cream Coffee Cake, from the KitchenAid cookbook. The second is one of the cupcakes that I decorated to look like an Easter basket with jellybeans as colored eggs and green-tinted coconut for grass. The cupcakes were basic yellow cake with buttercream frosting.
The coffee cake was served after brunch and the cupcakes were dessert after dinner. Both were delicious and pretty.

I separated the pictures as much as I could because they just looked weird next to each other. Either the cupcake looked giant or the bundt cake looked miniature.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Baseball Cut-Out Cookies

I made these for my oldest nephew's little league fundraiser. They are Grandma Cuckoo's Swedish Sugar Cookies. The frosting is a basic buttercream and the seams are drawn with red sugar. I tried to make them thicker than I do at Christmas, but they were still a pretty thin cookie.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Coming Soon... But Not Soon Enough

I had my camera with me today, and I was stopped at a red light so I took this picture.

Melt Bar and Grilled

I'm going to the westside location tomorrow, but can't wait for the eastside one to open soon! It's just about a mile from my house!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

I made cupcakes for dessert on St. Patrick's Day. They were served with Irish coffee after our corned beef and cabbage dinner.

Yellow cupcakes with Mrs. Millman's chocolate frosting and shamrock sprinkles.

I also took some cupcakes to work, and they received rave reviews. The building where I work was on the parade route, but we couldn't see much from 39 floors up. I did get a good shot of the blimp, though.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Burst of Lime Ginger Cake

This cake was made for my friend's belated birthday celebration on Oscar night. Since I usually provide dessert for our Oscar party, the birthday girl requested this cake from her KitchenAid mixer cookbook, which is vastly different from the one that came with my mixer. Her book has color pictures, more recipes and brand name ingredients.

Pretty as a picture.

This cake wouldn't have been my first choice, but it was good. It had a lighter texture than gingerbread, but was still pretty dense. It had a heavy molasses taste that contrasted nicely with the sweet lime and cream cheese filling. Delicious with pumpkin spice coffee!

I forgot to post my Oscar picks for this year before the telecast, but I'm happy to report that I won the Oscar pool for the third year straight with 15/24 right.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cream Cheese Muffins

I had some cream cheese in the fridge that didn't have a purpose so I found a recipe in my Ultimate Muffin Book for cream cheese muffins. The recipe's description said that the taste would be like cheesecake, but it really wasn't. But, they were delicious; slightly sweet with a hint of lemon, which was surprising because the recipe had a whole tablespoon of lemon juice. They were a little denser than most muffins and had a nice crunchy exterior.
I'd definitely make them again if I had some extra cream cheese lying around.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Words with Friends

I've been playing Words with Friends on my iPod a lot. Occasionally, I get bored while waiting for my opponent to play a word so I start a game between myself and Player 2. I used to think Player 2 was better than me, then this happened.

I don't really like or use the word utilize that often, but I'm glad it came to me in this game. 145 is the most I've scored on one word so far.
Wanna play? Words with Friends is a free app for the iPod Touch and the iPhone. I'm accepting new challengers.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Not Pictured

I did some significant baking this month. I made my oldest nephew's birthday cake mid-month, which was delicious but kind of ugly. It was a three-layer yellow cake with strawberry glaze in the middle layers and a blueberry glaze on the top. The blueberry glaze, as you might imagine, was more gray than blue and might have been striking on a chocolate cake, but was rather blah on a golden cake. It was exactly what the birthday boy wanted so it was perfect. But not pretty.

I made some chocolate chip football cookies for the Superbowl, but I didn't post a picture since they looked identical to the ones I made last year.

I almost took a picture of the spinach pie I made last week. Homemade crust and everything. Maybe next time.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Almost Classic Cake

Special Birthday Cake with Semi-Sweet Chocolate Buttercream frosting.
3/4 of the whole cake

I was asked to make a cake as the dessert for a fried chicken dinner. Since most of the attendees watch their sugar intake, I thought I'd try using the bag of Splenda for Baking that's been in my pantry for a while. (I called the 800 number to make sure it was still good. Turns out it never goes bad!) The cake wasn't as moist as I would have liked, but for a first attempt it was pretty good.

The frosting was outstanding. The recipe was a mix of Mrs. Millman's and semi-sweet chocolate buttercream. I used 12 ounces of chocolate chips (melted and cooled), a stick of butter (cold), 1 cup of powdered sugar, a little vanilla and some milk to thin it out.

I left a little bit of the cake unfrosted at the request of the host, but cut it out of the picture because it looked weird.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Guys and Dolls

At last night's Lake Erie Monsters' hockey game, they gave away Shaq bobblehead dolls. It was a good ploy to sell more tickets since they had the biggest crowd in franchise history. The Monsters won in overtime, and there was even a decent fight in the first period.
The tickets were courtesy of my godson's father, which made the whole thing even better.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


This is my latest attempt at making blondies or blond brownies. The last attempt was ugly but tasty and this try resulted in beautiful but not quite as delicious blondies. I think they were better that time because I used white chocolate chips, and this time I used semi-sweet chocolate chips. Or maybe I like overcooked blondies.
This is the last time I'll use this recipe. It's fine, but it's not for me. I made blondies once that were perfect, but I can't remember which recipe I used.