Category Archives: Martha Stuff

Happy New Year and the Best From Last Year


Just a quick note to wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.

This post about Orange-Vanilla Meringue Swirls was my most visited from last year. To be honest, it was one of the favorite things I made last year, too.

A little sweet, a little crispy and a little chewy. These Orange-Vanilla Meringue Swirls are a perfect little treat. It’s amazing what a few great ingredients can become when combined with simple techniques.They taste almost like one of those delightful orange creamsicles.

Featured in the May issue of Martha Stewart Living, I’ve been looking forward to making these meringues for weeks. But first, I needed to find a half-inch plain pastry tip. After searching many stores, I had to settle for a half-inch star tip. And to be honest, I kind of prefer the look of the meringues with the decorative ridges.

The recipe calls for half of a vanilla bean’s seeds. I threw the other half and the seeded bean into the jar where I’m making homemade vanilla extract. I’m still about a month or so away from it being ready. More on that in another post, on another day.

Finally, I love the design left on the parchment paper after I removed the baked meringues. I’m thinking about framing the design. You can see a portion of the meringue imprint in the lower left image of the collage below.

Orange-Vanilla Meringue SwirlsMartha Stewart Living, May 2012

  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Large pinch of salt
  • Large pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • Gel-paste food color, orange

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place egg whites in a heatproof mixing bowl. Add vanilla seeds and sugar, and whisk by hand to combine. Set bowl over a pot of simmering water, and whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm, about 3 minutes. Add salt and cream of tartar.

Beat with a mixer on medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form and meringue is mostly cooled, about 7 minutes. Beat in orange zest.

Using a small paintbrush, paint 3 vertical stripes of food coloring inside the pastry bag fitted with a half-inch tip. Fill bag with meringue, and pipe 1 3/4-inch circular shapes 2 inches apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake meringues until crisp on the outside but still soft on the inside, about 75 minutes. (I baked mine an additional 15 minutes.) Let cool completely on a wire rack.


Candy Corn Krispie Treats


Halloween, not exactly one of my favorite holidays. It never has been. Well, except for the flood of fun-sized packets of Skittles, Starbursts and Sweetarts. Yes, I have a very real addiction to fruity-flavored confections that begin with an S.

There are a couple of other things that I really love about this time of year. Chief among them is the annual pumpkin carving with my sister’s delightful family. I was worried that it wouldn’t happen this year after their summer move to Kentucky. But alas, a visit back to Ohio was coordinated and the tradition continued. For a sweet treat, I made these Candy Corn Krispie Treats featured in the October issue of Everyday Food. You can find the original recipe here.

I tweaked the recipe just a bit. They called for adding orange zest and lemon zest to the colored layers. I thought the idea of adding a citrus twist to candy corn shaped treats a bit odd.  Instead I added some vanilla extract. The worst part of the recipe, and this is so minor, was repeatedly washing the saucepan between layers of the Rice Krispie loaf.

Candy Corn Krispie Treats - adapted from Everyday Food, October 2012.

  • 12 cups miniature marshmallows, divided
  • 9 cups puffed crisp rice cereal, divided
  • 9 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sat, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, divided
  • red & yellow food coloring

Lightly coat a 5-by-9 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large sauce pan, melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter over medium heat. Add 4 cups miniature marshmallows, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract; stir until melted. Stir in 3 cups puffed crisp rice cereal and immediately transfer to prepared pan. Coat a spatula with cooking spray and firmly press mixture into an even layer.

Rinse saucepan. Repeat the last step twice: To the second batch add enough yellow and red food coloring (about 5 drops, each) to tint marshmallow mixture orange before adding the cereal, then press into pan on top of the previous layer. To the third batch, add yellow food coloring (about 10 drops) to tint marshmallow mixture yellow. Press into pan on top of the orange layer.

Let set 2 hours or overnight. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and invert loaf onto a cutting board. With a sharp serrated knife, cut loaf into 10 slices. Cut each slice in half crosswise.

Using your hands, gently mold each treat into a candy corn shape pinching the white section to form the tip. Makes 20.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I have a special place in my foodie heart for anything snickerdoodle. The cookie, amazing. Snickerdoodle blondies, always a great hit. Snickerdoodle Krispie Treats, who knew? In fact, when we adopted Ted last December, the rescue had named him Snickerdoodle. We briefly considered keeping the name, but then figured that two guys with a dog named Snickerdoodle seemed a bit silly.

Every time I browse Martha Stewart’s cupcake cookbook, I always pause on the snickerdoodle cupcake recipe. And yet, I seem to end up baking another kind of cupcake.  That ended recently when I finally broke down and set out to bake these sweetly-cinnamon creations. One word of caution, the seven-minute frosting takes a bit of work on the stove with a candy thermometer. It’s a bit more work than traditional buttercream or cream cheese frosting. It’s totally worth it.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes - Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Makes 28

For the cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk


For the seven-minute frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low, Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cake tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to racks to cool completely.

Make the frosting. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.

As soon as the sugar syrup reaches 23o degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low, pour syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium high; whisk until mixture is completely cool and stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes.

To finish, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a pastry bag with a large plain tip, pipe frosting on each cupcake. Using a small, fine-mesh sieve, dust frosting with cinnamon-sugar.




Dill Pickles – Way Back Wednesday

Year two of making my own dill pickles and entering them in the Downtown Akron Partnership Pickle Contest. Last year, I won second place in the dill pickle category. This year, I’m going for the gold, or is it the green? I’m sticking with the adapted recipe from Martha Stewart that I used last year. Have you made your own pickles? Which do you prefer, sweet or dill?

Here’s my post from last August:

A few weeks back we received quite the bounty of pickling cucumbers in our CSA share. About the same time, a co-worker was telling me about how she was making pickles from the cucumbers in her garden. She described a pretty simple method for making pickles that will keep for about a month in the refrigerator.

After doing a bit more research from my friend Martha’s website I came upon the recipe that I’d use for the pickling. The recipe takes about an evening to work through. There’s a bit of waiting between preparation steps. And then, the final great wait. One week in refrigerator before the first taste. I made it five days before I cracked open a jar and tasted the very best dill pickle.

I adjusted the original recipe just a bit. An addition of a tablespoon of mustard seed gave the final product just the right look. If you’ve never made you own pickles, I’d strongly recommend that you give these a try. They’re crisp, flavorful and perfect to eat just as a snack on their own or perched on top of a juicy grilled burger.

Dill-Pickle Chips - adapted from Martha Stewart Living, August 2004

  • 2 pounds Kirby (pickling) cucumbers
  • 3 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dill seed
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 bunches fresh dill, coarsely chopped

Cut the cucumbers into 1/2-inch thick rounds, and transfer to a colander set in a bowl. Toss well with salt. Refrigerate cucumber rounds for 1 hour.

Rinse the cucumber rounds well; drain. Pat dry between paper towels. Transfer cucumber slices to a large bowl.

Bring 3 cups water, vinegar, dill seed, mustard seed and garlic to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring. Reduce heat; simmer 4 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Add chopped dill to cucumber slices, and toss to combine. Pour in the brine. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Transfer mixture to airtight containers, and refrigerate at least 1 week. Pickles will keep for 3 weeks more. They won’t last that long. Ours were all gone in under 2 weeks.

Beef Bourguignon – Way Back Wednesday

Today marks Julia Child’s 100th birthday. To celebrate, I’ve gone back in my archives to February 2010 to reintroduce you to the Everyday Food magazine version of her classic Beef Bourguignon.

I’ve wanted to make this since seeing Julie & Julia. A pretty easy version was recently featured on the PBS series Everyday Food and then in the most recent edition of Everyday Food’s magazine. If you don’t subscribe, you need to.  You really do.  Go. Subscribe now. There’s no time to waste. It’s seriously one of the best mail-days of the month when this little digest of recipes from Martha arrives in the mailbox. I rush inside the house, settle down at the kitchen table and plan my attack on churning out the easy and tasty recipes featured inside. This one was a winner and the perfect Sunday/Valentine’s Day meal to share with that special someone you adore. So what if the prep for the meal took nearly an hour. The additional three hours it braised in the oven made for one of the most tender and flavorful beef recipes I’ve ever had. Here’s the recipe.

Also, Tiffany over at Domesticated Academic, is giving away a copy of Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  You should jump on over there and enter to win it.

Rocky Road Brownies

News flash! While celebrating Marshmallow Week, I think I’ve found the perfect brownie recipe. The brownie layer at the base of these Rocky Road Brownies is amazing. It’s a from-scratch-recipe that only used one bowl to come together. That fact alone, would make these brownies great. They’re a dense, rich and fudgy brownie. Baked for 35 minutes, then topped with chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and pecans. Back in the oven for 5 minutes more. Just long enough to puff the marshmallows and gently toast the nuts.

Rocky Road BrowniesEveryday Food, June 2008

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
  • 1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.

In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine butter and 1 cup chocolate chips. Heat, stirring occasionally, until just melted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove mixture from heat, stir in both sugars and salt, then eggs, and finally flour, stirring until just combined. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.

Remove from oven, immediately sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips, then marshmallows and nuts. Bake until chocolate is shiny and marshmallows are puffed, about 5 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift brownies onto a work surface and cut into 16 pieces.


S’mores Cookies

I’ve been eager to post these cookies for over a week. They were very well received at a work party. But sometimes life just gets in the way. Like a freak July 4th hail storm that shattered most of the windows on the back of our house. The storm also decimated my flowers and tomato plants.

But life goes on, and what better way to move forward than with sweet delicious summer treats? And while I was thinking about these terrific S’mores Cookies from Everyday Food magazine, I decided to go full-marshmallow on you  this week.  That’s right, each day will feature a recipe that celebrates the humble marshmallow. I hope you enjoy the week.

Back to the cookie. These are pretty simple. I probably should have pulsed the rolled oats a bit finer, but I enjoyed the texture that they brought to the soft graham cracker-inspired cookie. Keep a close eye on your marshmallows under the broiler. I needed to move my baking sheets around to get an even browning on all of the marshmallows.

S’mores CookiesEveryday Food, July/August 2009

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into 30 squares
  • 15 large marshmallows, halved horizontally

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse oats until finely ground. Add both flours, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; pulse to combine. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. With mixer on low, beat in flour mixture until just combined.

Drop dough by tablespoons, 1-inch apart, onto two parchment lined baking sheets. Top each with a chocolate square. Bake until just lightly golden, 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Remove sheets from oven, heat the broiler. Top each cookie with a marshmallow half, cut side down. One sheet at a time, broil until marshmallows are lightly browned, 60 to 90 seconds. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

Crisp Wontons with Strawberries and Yogurt – Way Back Wednesday

A visit back in time to July of last year for a simple and elegant dessert.

Saturday night we were invited by our friend Jim to enjoy an evening of classical music provided by the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra at the beautiful Blossom Music Center. Unlike every other concert at Blossom, for the Orchestra you are welcome to bring in a picnic dinner and even your own bottles of wine. Earlier in the week, Jim mentioned the direction he was taking for the picnic menu had a bit of Greek lean. Opa! And since I was providing the dessert, perhaps I could also go a little Greek.

The first thing that came to mind was Baklava. But seeing as how the temps have been in the 90′s and a bit on the humid side, I decided to look for a dessert that might be a tad less sticky and a bit more refreshing. Going through my back issues of Everyday Food magazine I came upon the recipe for Crisp Wontons with Strawberries and Yogurt. Now you may ask yourself, Greek cuisine and wontons? Yes, I know. A bit unorthodox. But the yogurt used in the recipe is Greek. There’s a drizzle of honey. And the crispy, sweet, almond covered wontons sort of have a Mediterranean pastry feel. Ok, I admit, it’s a stretch. But the final product was amazing.

The crisp and sweetened wontons can be made ahead, and then everything was quickly assembled at the picnic.

Crisp Wontons with Strawberries and YogurtEveryday Food, May 2010

  • 12 wonton wrappers
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole natural almonds, finely chopped
  • 1 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey (we prefer Kilker North Honey)
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place wonton wrappers on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with sugar and almonds. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer wontons to a wire rack and let cool.

Dividing evenly, top 6 wontons with yogurt, a drizzle of honey and strawberries, then sandwich with the remaining wontons. Serve immediately.

Gluten Free Lunch with Friends

Last Wednesday, I spent the most delightful day with two of my favorite friends from High School. Stephanie and Jennifer drove up from our hometown for an afternoon in my kitchen. It’s part of a new series here on my blog, “In the Kitchen with Friends.”

Jennifer and her family eat a gluten-free diet. So that’s the theme we decided for our lunch. Stephanie surprised me with a recipe for Backyard Quinoa (Queen) Salad. Jennifer made her famous Chicken Cordon Bleu. I baked a Zucchini-Almond Cake from the latest issue of Everyday Food Magazine. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this gluten-free lunch. It was full of flavor, simple and I didn’t feel like I was missing a thing. Best of all, I got to share it with two very special people. It was wonderful to catch up and share a delectable meal.

Stephanie’s Backyard Quinoa (Queen) Salad

Stephanie calls this her Backyard Quinoa Salad because the tomatoes and herbs are from her garden. I’m so jealous that she’s already harvesting these small jewels of tomatoes.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons Garlic Expressions vinaigrette

In a small saucepan add quinoa to 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Set aside. In a bowl, combine quinoa, cherry tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt, pepper, feta and vinaigrette.

Jennifer’s Chicken Cordon Bleu

This is a delightfully crispy chicken dish stuffed with melted cheese and salty ham. This easily ranks as one of the best chicken entrees that I’ve ever eaten. That it’s gluten-free, is an added bonus.

  • 4 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied.
  • 2 cups gluten-free Bisquick
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 slices deli ham, thinly sliced
  • 6 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together the Bisquick, paprika, salt and pepper. In another bowl add the eggs. Set bowls aside.

Open the butterflied chicken breasts and layer, on one side of each breast, 2 slices ham and 1 1/2 slices Swiss cheese. Fold the chicken closed.

Dip each breast in the egg. Allow extra egg to drip off the chicken. Next, coat each egg covered breast in the Bisquick mixture. Set coated chicken aside.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Carefully add each breast to the pan. Fry for 10 minutes, flipping chicken half-way through. Transfer chicken to a sheet pan and bake in oven for another 20 minutes. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes.

Zucchini-Almond CakeEveryday Food, July/August 2012

  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus 5 tablespoons, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 cup finely grated zucchini (from 1 medium zucchini), squeezed of excess liquid
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep). Line with parchment and butter paper. Whisk together almond flour, potato starch, baking powder, and salt.

Set a large heatproof bowl over (not in) a pot with 1 inch barely simmering water. Add eggs and whisk until foamy, about 1 minute. Whisk in brown sugar and continue to whisk until the mixture is fluffy and sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove bowl from pot and, using a mixer, whisk on high until mixture is thick and pale, 7 to 10 minutes.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold in melted butter, flour mixture, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and zucchini. Pour into pan and bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Invert onto plate or cake stand.

With mixer, beat together room-temperature butter, remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla, and cream cheese until fluffy, 3 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat until combined. Spread on top of cooled cake.

Strawberry Freezer Jam – Way Back Wednesday

It seems as though there might be some sort of Strawberry theme this week. Earlier in the week, I told you all about Roasted Strawberry Lemonade. Today, we go way back to last August, when I learned the fun skill of making freezer jam. It changed my life forever. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration.

Here’s the post:

If you follow my adventures on the made by mike facebook page, you’ll know that I was on a bit of a jam making kick over the past weekend. If you don’t follow my adventures on the made by mike facebook page, then you are completely in the dark, and you clearly don’t love me as much as I thought you did. And frankly, that just breaks my heart. Ok, perhaps that was a bit melodramatic. But you should join all the fun on the made by mike facebook page. See how I made it all easy for you to just click one of those three links to get there?

Back to the jam.

A few weeks back, a friend at work asked if I’d make her some freezer jam. I’d never heard of it, but was intrigued. Coincidentally, not long after that, I received the September 2011 issue of Everyday Food magazine with an article about making freezer jam from the bounty of summer fruits available this time of year. It’s a great “how-to” article, and if you download the digital issue on an iPad, there’s a terrific instructional video about the jam making process.

Over a long three-day weekend, I made three different flavors of freezer jam. There was peach (with fresh peaches from my hometown), cherry, and of course strawberry. Best of all there’s only four ingredients in the jam. My favorite part of the process was listening to the metal lids “pop” as the jam was cooling on the counter. Each little “pop” got me more excited about slathering a piece of toast or english muffin with the sweet and fruity spread.

Strawberry Freezer Jam - adapted from Everyday Food, September 2011

  • 3 pounds strawberries, rinsed, hulled and crushed with a potato masher (about 5 cups when crushed)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, from 2 lemons
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (1.75 ounces) powdered, no-sugar-needed pectin

Thoroughly wash, rinse and dry seven 8-ounce glass jars with tight-fitting lids.

In a medium pot, combine the crushed strawberries and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and pectin. Add to fruit, stirring until the sugar mixture completely dissolves and fruit returns to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat.

Transfer fruit mixture to jars, leaving a 1/2-inch of head space on top. Seal and let sit at room temperature until the jam is set, 2 to 3 hours. The jam will last for up to three weeks in the refrigerator, or up to 6 months in the freezer. Allow frozen jam to thaw in the refrigerator.


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