Friday, January 28, 2011


Although it's still January, here in Southern California we have had some fabulous weather. Our days have been in the mid-70's, and our nights have been perfectly cool without being cold. It's a reminder that Spring is just around the corner and now would be  a good time to get that new swing set for your children or grandchildren, and have it all set up and ready for the longer, warmer days ahead. CSN is the place to do your shopping. CSN has over 200 websites and they sell everything from swing sets  and trampolines to patio furniture and cookware. Drop on over and take a look, they seriously have something for everyone.

For the French Fridays Round Up, I'll start with the Chicken B'Stilla. This was our least favorite January recipe. As you can see I didn't use traditional phyllo dough in this recipe. I had shredded phyllo so I made this as a casserole and topped it with the shredded phyllo. This was not a big hit with my family. Maybe it was the combination of flavors from the ginger, lemon, coriander and cinnamon, or maybe the sweet (honey and cinnamon/sugar) and savory combination was what we didn't love. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what it was that turned us off, but there are so many other chicken dinners we like, and so many others we want to try that I probably won't give this one a second chance.

Next up is the Paris Mushroom Soup. As a family, mushroom soup is  a favorite and Dori's soup was good, but it still won't replace our  favorite Mushroom Soup, which has a deep woodsy, earthy flavor from dried porcinis. I might try a combination of the two recipes, and see what I can come up with.

Gnocchi. We all love gnocchi, but not only are they calorie laden but they can be time consuming to make and if you don't have the right touch they are heavy and gummy. These gnocchi were quick and easy to make, and light and fluffy (I followed Dori's advice and whipped the last egg white and folded it into the batter). They still had way to many calories for every day consumption, but they were so delicious that I am just waiting for a good excuse to make them again.  

Our one thought was to add some cheese to the sauce instead of just topping the dish with it, in hopes of infusing the cheesy flavor throughout the gnocchi.

Saving dessert for last, we have Michel Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake.

The cake was full of rich chocolate flavor without being heavy and dense as many flour less cakes can be. Dori had several variation and we chose Dori's favorite, with the baked then chilled mousse layer. Normally when I make a cake like this we fill the center with fresh ripe berries, but none were readily available, so we went with the classic freshly whipped cream.

For the most part the January recipes are one we will be making again, and we are excited for the recipes ahead!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


One of our favorite family go to recipes is chili. I have been making this for many years and can't find the original recipe, but I think it came from a very old Sunset magazine. We make it with either ground beef or ground turkey, and like both versions. Like almost every chili recipe, it has a few "secret ingredients". No one has ever been able to guess that the rich, deep flavor comes from cocoa powder and molasses. Although they sound more like ingredients for a cookie rather than chili, the result is a slightly spicy chili with a hint of earthy sweetness that is perfect for a cold winter night, or a big Super Bowl party.

The best thing about chili is that you can adapt it to suit your own taste. I make it less spicy when Mini Me is home, and I set aside some without beans for Boy Mimi. You can make it extra thick and serve it on top of nachos or make southwest chili burgers. The options are endless, and all delicious.


1-2 tbs oil
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs cumin (3 teaspoons)
1 Tbs chopped chipotle chilies in adobo sauce- more or less to taste
1 Tbs cocoa powder
1 Tbs molasses
salt and pepper.
1 can black bean rinsed and drained

1. In a small bowl mix together chili powder and cumin.

2. In a large sauce pan heat oil, add onions and garlic, cook until soft. Add ground beef or turkey, season with salt and pepper, and the chili powder and cumin. Cook over medium heat until no longer pink.

3. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes (or longer).

If you don't have molasses use a tablespoon of brown sugar.  Adjust the amounts of chili powder, chipotle chilies and cumin to suite your taste.

Serve with shredded jack cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro and salsa on the side.
printable recipe

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana muffins are a great way to eat fruit. At least that is what my children tell me. I've been making these muffins long before I had children, and they are still the most requested breakfast treat. I'm not sure where the recipe originated, but I think I got it from a co-worker long ago. My original is written on a scratch pad from the office where I worked, and it is just a list of ingredients, no directions. It is an old recipe so don't be surprised at the use of margarine or Crisco. I have made them using all three types of fat and whichever you chose, the muffins will be delicious. Of course, the key to good muffins is not to over mix the batter.

Bananas are so versitile, and they go well with many flavors. For years I made these muffins with chocolate chips, but Mimi Jr. got adventurous one day and used blueberries instead of the chocolate chips, and as they say, the rest is history. Pecans and walnuts are good for a bit of crunch, and adding a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to the batter with a sprinkling of cinnamon chips adds a subtle warmth to the sweetness from the bananas. I haven't tried peanut butter chips, but that might not be a bad idea either. Overall, this is the best banana muffin base, with unlimited possibilities in your own kitchen.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

1/2 cup butter, real margarine or Crisco
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3 tablespoons buttermilk, or sour milk*
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees and prepare standard muffin cups, either spray with non stick cooking spray or use paper muffin liners.
2. Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time followed by bananas and buttermilk, mix until well combined.
3. Add dry ingredients and mix only until just incorporated. Do not over mix.
4. Gently fold in chocolate chips, blueberries, nuts etc.
5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown around the edges and top springs back when gently touched. Don't over bake.

printable recipe

*If you don't have buttermilk  you can make sour milk by adding a  1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1/2 cup whole milk. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to curdle. Alternatively, you can use 3 tablespoons sour cream or plain yogurt for the buttermilk.

Friday, January 7, 2011

French Friday Round Up

I hope to get caught up reading all of your blogs soon, but it does take time to read all those posts, bookmark the recipes and wipe the drool off my chin. There are so many post-holiday recipes that I can't wait to try! I thought that I would finish out this week with a round up of the French Friday's with Dorie December recipes. I made four of the five recipes this month.

First up were the Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts.

We love toasted and spiced nuts to snack on and these were delicious, flavored with chili powder and cinnamon for a sweet and spicy snack. I try to cut out sugar when I can so I made a version substituting splenda for the sugar and they were every bit as good as those with sugar.

Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts
Around my French table by Dorie Greenspan

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch cayenne
1 egg white
2 1/2 - 3 cups nuts almond, pecan, cashews

Preheat oven to 300 F.
Spay baking sheet with non stick spray or line with silpat.

Mix sugar, salt and spices together in a small bowl. Beat egg white lightly with a fork in a larger bowl. Toss in the nuts, stir to coat , than add the sugar and spice mixture and continue to stir until the nuts are evenly coated. Spread nuts on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the nuts are browned and the coating is dry. Cool breaking apart as necessary.

Next up is the Leek and Potato soup


This was everything Dorie said, simple to make and full of wonderful flavor. We pureed half of the soup, so it was a combination of smooth and silky with rustic pieces of potatoes throughout.  The real treat in this photo is that crusty roll. It's from the Cook's Illustrated Holiday baking issue. I will do a post of this recipe very soon.

Now the Speculoos

I haven't had these cookies in years and for the life of me I can't think of a good reason for that. These crispy cinnamon treats were the perfect addition to our cookie boxes this Christmas.  I'm not sure why they have such a wrinkly appearance, but I probably didn't chill the dough long enough. Appearance aside, these cookies disappeared fast.

Finally the Beef Daube

You may have noticed that I don't have a photo for this fabulous recipe. I was behind schedule and no one wanted to wait for a photo shoot, including me.  I foolishly thought there would be left overs that I could shoot after dinner. My mistake. If you want to see what it looks like visit Kim over at Stirring the Pot , she has a great post on this recipe.  Suffice it to say this red wine beef stew is simple to make and has terrific flavor. All of the the December recipes are ones that I will be making again.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

TWD: A December round up

I hope everyone had a great holiday season.  It's good to be back at Mimi's Kitchen. This month I decided that I would do with Tuesdays with Dorie as I have done with French Fridays, and do a monthly round of the recipes I made. The round up is a nice way to showcase the recipes in the book and I will most likely continue this way for the two baking groups.

First,  Hindy of Bubie’s Little Baker chose Translucent Maple Tuiles,

These cute little cookie/candy treats are so easy to make but we thought they were more of a granish than a stand alone treat. We enjoyed their maple brown sugar flavor, but felt they really need some mousse or a flan to go along with them

Next, Amber of Cobbler du Monde chose Apple-Coconut Family Cake

This was a nice moist cake with plenty of apples. Because we are split on the coconut issue,  I added coconut to only half of the cake, but even my coconut lovers did not like the coconut in this cake. They thought it was a distracting texture, and preferred just the rum-laced apple flavor of the plain side.

 Jill of Jill’s Blog chose Cardamom Crumb Cake

 This is a nice tender coffee cake. I baked it in the 8 inch pan as directed, but as you can see from the depth of the cake it really would have been better in a 9 inch pan.

 We thought the flavor was ok, but it did not deliver as much of a flavor punch as we expected. The cardamom/orange/crumb combo sounds wonderful, but we felt it was just too subtle.

Since it was such a plain looking little cake, we decide to dress it up with a little drizzle frosting made with confectioners sugar and orange juice. This was just the perfect adorment for this cake, giving it a flavor boost and a little decoration on top too.

December 28 – Rewind! We took a breather, since we have way too many baked goods crowding our kitchen.
To see what the other bakers made visit our blog roll.