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Éclair Torte


eclairThis dessert has been around for many years, I have no memory of where I first learned of it, or even when I began serving it. The base has no sugar in it, giving it more of a European taste.

Éclair Torte

1 c water

1/2 c unsalted butter

1/4 t. salt (or use salted butter and leave this out)

1 c flour

4 eggs

1 package cream cheese (8 oz, room temperature)

2 packages vanilla instant pudding (3.4 oz each)

3 c cold milk

12 oz whipped topping (I make my own)

chocolate syrup for decorating

Bring the first three ingredients to a boil in a saucepan . Add flour all at once and stir until a smooth ball is formed. Remove from heat and let stand for five minutes. Add eggs and mix until smooth. Spread the mixture into a greased 13×9 pan and bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Cool completely.

In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, pudding mix and milk until smooth. Spread the mixture over the cooled puff and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Spread whipped cream over the top, sealing it. Drizzle with chocolate syrup just before serving.



Mini Margarita Flatbread Pizza


I work from home, so lunch is usually for one and needs to be quick. Margarita pizza is my favorite kind, so I fix one of these pretty often for myself. Sometimes we’ll have it for dinner if no one is terribly hungry, or we’ll use this as a flatbread with pasta.

Mini Margarita Flatbread Pizza

1 Tandoori Naan (I buy small ones from Costco)

1 t olive oil

1/4 t Italian seasoning

1 tomato, sliced

3-4 slices mozzarella

1 bunch basil

1 t balsamic glaze

Oven 200 degrees. Defrost the naan bread as the oven is heating. Spread the olive oil as the first layer on the bread and sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Place the tomato and mozzarella all over the flatbread and place in the oven 5-7 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt. Cut the basil into shreds and sprinkle over the flatbread and pour the balsamic glaze over the top.





Butter Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting


I needed to bake a cake for a house full of people and had a taste for lemons, so I put this together and it worked well! I buy jarred lemon curd (Dickinson’s) but you can make it yourself. This cake is good the first day, but even better when the lemon curd has had time to sink into the cake some. This is a rich cake, something I would only make for a crowd so we cant have too much of it!

Butter Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

1 package plain yellow cake mix

1 cup milk

1 stick butter, melted

3 eggs

2t vanilla

1/2 jar lemon curd


Buttercream Frosting

1 stick butter

3 3/4 c powdered sugar, sifted

3-4 T milk

2 t vanilla

zest and juice of one lemon

Oven 350 degrees. Grease two round pans and set aside. Place the cake mix, milk, butter, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and blend 2-3 minutes until well combined. Divide the batter into the two pans equally and bake side by side 27-29 minutes. Remove to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile prepare the buttercream frosting by blending all ingredients, add more milk if needed, until the desired consistency is reached.

When the cake is cool to the touch, place the first one on the cake plate and spread 1/4 jar of lemon curd across the top of the layer. Add the second layer and spread 1/4 jar of the lemon curd over the to layer. Carefully frost the top and sides of the cake over the lemon curd. Serves 16



Fallen Chocolate Cake (gluten free)


I wanted to take something deeply chocolate to a friend’s house the other night, and he needs his food to be gluten-free, so it was a good excuse to finally make this cake. I saw it in Bon Appetit magazine a couple of years ago and tucked it away, I really like the idea of it being an obviously fallen cake. It was dense and fudgy, not overly sweet at all, and really needed the whipped cream to offset the richness of it.

Fallen Chocolate Cake

1/2 c unsalted butter

3/4 c plus 2T sugar

10 oz bittersweet chocolate (61-72% cacao), coarsely chopped

2 T oil

6 eggs

2 T unsweetened cocoa powder

1 t vanilla

3/4 t salt

1 c heavy cream

3 T powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 inch springform pan and dust with sugar.

Combine chocolate, oil and butter in the top of a double boiler, with the bottom pan filled with simmering water and allow ingredients to melt while stirring over medium heat.

In two bowls, separate 4 eggs with whites in one and yolks in the other. To the yolks bowl add cocoa powder, vanilla, salt, 1/4 c sugar, and remaining two eggs and whisk until smooth. Gradually add yolk mixture to chocolate mixture, blending well.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites on high until frothy, add 1/2 c sugar and beat until firm peaks form. Gently fold in egg whites into chocolate mixture in two additions and folding only until incorporated. Scrape batter into prepared springform pan and sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake 35-45 minutes, until the top is puffed and starting to crack  and cake is pulling away from the pan. Allow to cool completely in the pan, the cake will collapse in the center as it cools. Mix the remaining ingredients on high speed until soft peaks form. Mound the whipped cream in the center of the cake.





Scallop Salad with Cilantro & Lime


Scallops were calling my name from the seafood department, so I knew it was time to make this light salad again. It has a good bit of chopping involved, but the flavors are worth it. This recipe is from my local Hy-Vee grocery store, they use mangoes for the fruit, I use pineapple.

Scallop Salad with Cilantro & Lime

6  T olive oil

6 T lime juice

2 T chopped cilantro

1 t salt

1/2 t cumin

12-16 sea scallops

2 c chopped mango (I use pineapple)

1 tomato

2 poblano peppers, chopped fine

1 jalapeno, chopped fine

2 T red onion, chopped fine

4 c salad greens

1 avocado



Prepare the lime vinaigrette by combining olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, salt and cumin. Set aside.

Grill the scallops on direct heat for four minutes each side, using skewers or a grill pan.

Meanwhile, toss together mangoes, tomato, peppers and onion. Arrange greens on dinner plates, add avocado slices. Top with mango mixture, add scallops and drizzle with vinaigrette. Season to taste. Serves 4.





Salted Seedy Chocolate Bark


My guy and I are on a quest for better health. We have been incorporating more fruits and vegetables for three years now, but we are stepping it up in an effort to control cholesterol and triglycerides. For us, this has meant more natural foods and reading every label to choose lower sugar products. The time and intentionality it requires is very expensive, and the fact that we are buying organic as much as possible makes it even more so.

I am using a cookbook called The Food Lover’s Cleanse, which was recently released by Bon Appetit. The idea from the book is that you recalibrate your food intake for two weeks in any season, but we are using the book for ongoing inspiration, not as a cleanse. Eating clean, whole foods is not that difficult for us, except we enjoy something sweet, especially after dinner. I found this recipe for a sweet/salty combination that hits the spot without spiking the sugar scale.

Salted Seedy Chocolate Bark

1/4 c raw shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

2 T hemp seeds

2 T sesame seeds

1/4 t sea salt (I use Himalayan)

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (70% cacao or higher)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat and add the pumpkin seeds. Toast, stirring occasionally until the seeds start to pop, about 1 minute. Pour the seeds into a bowl. Add the hemp seeds to the same skillet and toast, stirring constantly for about 45 seconds, until they turn pale gold, add to the pumpkin seeds. Add the sesame seeds to the skillet and stir constantly for 30-45 seconds until golden and add them to the other seeds. Add the salt and toss to combine.

Heat the chocolate on low, stirring as it melts. Pour the chocolate into prepared baking sheet and smooth it out, it will not cover the entire pan. Sprinkle the seed mixture evenly over the chocolate and refrigerate for two hours.




Greek Appetizer

IMG_462579218We were going to dinner at a friend’s house and I was asked to bring an appetizer. I had cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions fresh from the garden, so this is what I took. My friend Michelle gave me this recipe years ago, and it’s light and refreshing, perfect for the end of summer.

Greek Appetizer

1 large tomato

1 large cucumber

1/2 red onion

12 oz. Greek Vinaigrette (I used Wishbone)

8 oz. cream cheese

crackers or pita chips

Chop the three vegetables, removing seeds from the cucumber as you go. Mix them together and pour at least 8 oz of the Greek Vinaigrette over them. Allow to marinate for at least one hour, the longer the better. When ready to serve, spread the cream cheese into a circle, like frosting a cake. Pour the vegetables over the cream cheese and serve with crackers.


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