Super-Quick Beer Bread

This recipe, from My Baking Addiction, was a quick and tasty addition to our lunch of potato soup on a cold and lazy Sunday afternoon. It more than lives up to its name, as it took all of 5 minutes to throw together. The flavor is changed based on the type of beer you use, so feel free to have some fun with what you have in your home bar, I used a Pumpkin Lager from Lake Front Brewery, but if all you’ve got is Miller Lite, that’s fine too.


  • 3 cups Self-Rising Flour
  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 12 oz Beer
  • 2 Tbsp Butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Butter an 8×4 inch loaf pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt and beer; mix well. The mixture will be sticky.
  3. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for about 55 minutes.
  4. At the last three minutes of baking, remove from oven, brush the top of the loaf with the melted butter and return to oven for the final three minutes of baking.

Challah French Toast

This recipe from Ina Garten proves that not all French Toast is created equal. This is the type of scrumptious breakfast treat that I thought could only be had at a restaurant; so, imagine my surprise when I discovered that I could make it at home. Though, one should wonder why that surprises me when I’ve gone so far as to make past from scratch, but I digress. This recipe creates a fabulous French Toast that crisps on the outside while remaining light and fluffy on the inside. Make is next weekend for your family, my boys love it.


French Toast:

  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups Half & Half or Milk
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • ½ tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 large loaf Challah or Brioche bread
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Vegetable Oil

To serve:

  • Pure maple syrup
  • Good raspberry preserves (optional)
  • Sifted confectioners’ sugar (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 250.
  2. In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, orange zest, vanilla, honey, and salt. Slice the challah in 3/4-inch thick slices. Soak as many slices in the egg mixture as possible for 5 minutes, turning once.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a very large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Place the cooked French toast on a sheet pan and keep it warm in the oven. Fry the remaining soaked bread slices, adding butter and oil as needed, until it’s all cooked.
  4. Serve hot with maple syrup, raspberry preserves, and/or confectioners’ sugar.

Chocolate Hazelnut Tart with Marshmallow Topping

I am truly starting to believe that this is the devil in cake form. It’s going to be the death of me, or, at the very least, the fatness of me. It’s just so good that I can’t leave it alone. I should just throw it away and dump coffee grounds over the top, but, shamefully, I can see digging through for more fancy s’mores-esuqe goodness. Anyone remember this scene from Sex and the City?

I found the original recipe on What’s Cookin’ Chicago?, and made it this summer. While it was delicious, I can’t say I was the biggest fan of the meringue topping. It just wasn’t my thing, and doesn’t keep all that well, so you really have to eat it the same day it’s topped. If you like meringue, try it, otherwise, go with my changes noted below and enjoy you decadent chocolate tart with a thick layer of toasted marshmallow. Yum!


  • 1/3 cup Hazelnuts
  • 1 stick unsalted Butter at room temperature + more for greasing pans
  • ½ cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tsp Frangelico liqueur
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ¾ cup Flour


  • 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, halved lengthwise
  • 7 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped

Marshmallow Frosting:

  • 4 large Egg Whites, room temperature
  • 1 cups Sugar
  • ¼ tsp. Cream of Tartar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract


Hazelnut Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With your fingers, butter four 4 3/8-inch, 1-cup capacity tartlet pans, using about 1 generous tablespoon softened unsalted butter total.
  2. Arrange the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them in the oven for 7-9 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. (Alternatively, you can place them in a dry nonstick skillet and toast the hazelnuts on the stovetop.) Immediately gather the nuts in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins. Chop the nuts and set aside.
  3. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the Frangelico liqueur and salt. Gradually add the flour and combine on low speed until just incorporated. Add the hazelnuts and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, divide into 4 equal portions, and press into the prepared pans, making sure the dough comes up to the top edge of the pans.
  5. Bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. remove from the oven and cool for 30 minutes on racks. (Don’t worry if the tart bottoms look wrinkly.) At this point, the crusts can be cooled and stored in airtight containers for up to 2 days.


  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the cream, butter, salt and vanilla bean. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and take out the vanilla beak halves. Using a paring knife, scrape out the vanilla pad’s tiny black beans and add them to the cream mixture.
  3. Put the chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour the hot cream over it. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth.
  4. Spoon the ganache into the tart shells, dividing it evenly among them. Refrigerate the tarts at least 30 minutes, or until the ganache is set.

Marshmallow Frosting:

  1. Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler, or set your clean, dry mixer bowl over simmering water, to avoid dirtying two bowls. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160° F with an instant-read thermometer, or the mixture no longer feels grainy between your fingers.
  2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix in the vanilla until combined.
  3. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. Brown with a kitchen torch and garnish with chocolate and graham cracker segments (optional).

Caramel Pecan Cheesecake

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but Jim loves cheesecake. I’ve always been so-so about it, because it’s one of those things that’s either really good or really bad. To me, there’s really no in-between. I tend to like the New York style cheesecakes that aren’t too sweet, but are quite rich and have a nice cream cheesy flavor. That isn’t to say that they can’t have anything else going on, but, if your favorite is the super sweet no-bake style on the Philadelphia box, we won’t have to worry about fighting over the last bite, you can have it.

I’ve had a little luck trying a few recipes on Jim that I think he enjoyed, but when I saw this recipe on the King Arthur website, I knew we’d have a winner. I mean, salted caramel combined with a delicious cheesecake? How could it not be a winner? It didn’t disappoint in the least. Not overly sweet with great flavors of caramel and nuts. I highly recommend giving it a try if you’re in the market for a delicious dessert to share.



  • 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup pecan meal or ground pecans
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened


  • 1 ½ pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 /4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon Pralines and Cream Flavor, optional
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup + 2 Tbsp King Arthur Touch of Gold Caramel Sauce or your favorite
  • ½ cup cream or half & half



  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9″ springform pan.
  2. Mix the crust ingredients till crumbly. Press onto the bottom and 1″ up the sides of the prepared pan; prick with a fork.
  3. Bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes, till light golden brown. Remove it from the oven; reduce oven temperature to 325°F.


  1. Mix the cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and flavor at low speed until smooth, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl between additions.
  3. Stir in the ½ cup of caramel sauce and cream.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust and smooth. Drizzle the remaining caramel sauce over the top of the cake, and drag a toothpick through to swirl.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300°F and bake 15 minutes more, until the edges of the cake are set, and an instant-read thermometer inserted 2″ from the edge reads 170°F.
  6. Turn off the oven, crack the door, and let the cake cool in the oven for 1 hour.
  7. Remove the cake from the oven, and cool it at room temperature for 1 hour.
  8. Refrigerate for 8 hours (or overnight) before serving.

Rainbow Cupcakes with Polka-Dot Sprinkles

There are a lot of things in my life that I am thankful for: My husband who loves me, even though I’m sometimes not entirely sure why. My son who amazes me each and every day with how much he’s learning, growing, and making me fall even more in love with him than I was yesterday. My family, immediate and extended, who are all supportive and loving both me and our little family. And my friends, whose numbers aren’t large, but who are all some of the greatest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for most of my life.

It’s in this last category that I place Jenna, someone I’ve known since I was two, and am lucky enough to receive a call from the past two years to make the cupcakes for her daughters’ birthday party. You may remember last year’s Butterfly Cupcakes for Ella. This year, the request was for rainbows and polka dots to celebrate, not only Ella’s 3rd birthday, but also her new sister Violet’s, recently brought home from China, 3rd birthday as well.

This was quite the celebration, so it needed an equally celebratory dessert for two adorable little girls. My own celebration comes from the fact that this is one of the only times of the year that my food is treated to a quality camera and photographer in Jenna. You’ll notice that the first two pictures aren’t anywhere near the caliber of the other 3 in this post, since she is much more talented behind the lens than I am. If you’re in the Milwaukee area and looking for a talented photog to take your family pictures, please hope over to SongBird Photography to check her out.

For these cupcakes, I decided to take a page from my new cookbook Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery that I actually won via a Bon Appétit online contest. To be honest with you, I think this is the first contest I’ve ever won, so I was more than a little bit excited about both the cookbook and simply getting something in the mail that I didn’t have to pay for. The only change I made to this recipe was the addition of a little salt. The result is a very dense vanilla cupcake that works well with a lot of frosting and a big glass of milk.

All of my colored batters waiting to go into the muffin tins.

The layered batter ready for the oven.


  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup + 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 cup Self-Rising Flour
  • ¾ cup + 1 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ cup 2% Milk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Gel Food Colors
  • Vanilla Buttercream
  • Confetti Sprinkles


  • Preheat oven to 350, and line a 12 cup muffin pan, or 3 12 cup mini muffin pans, with cupcake liners
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, 3 to 5 minutes, using an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition.
  • Sift the two flours and salt together into a separate bowl. Mix the milk and vanilla together.
  • Add 1/3 of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in 1/3 of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added.
  • For White Cupcakes:
    • Carefully spoon the mixture into the cups, filling about two-thirds full.
  • For Rainbow Cupcakes:
    • Divide batter equally into bowls for however many colors you want, i.e. 6 colors = 6 bowls.
    • Mix in gel coloring into each bowl until desired tone and vibrancy is achieved. Depending on what you’re making them for, a lighter tone could work, pastels for a baby shower, but I wanted vividly bright rainbows, so I erred on the side of too much.
    • Using a small spoon, I used a regular silverware spoon, drop a dollop of each color into each cupcake liner in the order you desire. For the cupcakes pictured above, I added in the following order: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, 15 minutes for minis, until slightly raised and golden brown, and a skewer in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and leave in pan about 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling completely before frosting.
  • Frost as desired. I used a very large round tip to create spiraled mounds that were quickly topped with confetti sprinkles.

Rather Rich Corn Muffins

I recently made a Bacon-Watercress Salad from Food Network Magazine that contained a suggestion to serve with cornbread. Well, given that we’re big fans of cornbread, I wasn’t going to turn up my nose at their “expert opinion” and pair it with anything else. I decided to try this recipe featured recently on What’s Cookin’, Chicago?. Jim asked that we skip the add-ins this time, but I think any combination of the ones noted below would be delicious. I also liked this recipe, because it was easily halved and whipped up by hand for a quick weeknight side.



  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1 ½ cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 ¾ cups All-purpose Flour
  • ¾ cups Coarse Cornmeal
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • ¼ tsp Kosher Salt


  • 1/4 cup Sweet Corn, frozen
  • 1/4 cup Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 bunch Scallions, sliced thin (green part only)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Generously grease 24 standard muffin cups or line them with disposable muffin wrappers; set aside.
  2. Add all the ingredients except the ‘add ins’ into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix at medium speed just until the ingredients are combined and not lumpy. Stir the desired add-ins until combined.
  3. Using a large-sized scoop, fill the muffin cups about 2/3 full with the batter (one scoop of batter per muffin tin). The batter is enough for 24 muffins. Bake the muffins in the preheated oven for 12 to 15 minute, until lightly brown and the tops spring back with touched.

Raspberry Scented Chocolate Chip Madeleines with Framboise Glaze

I hadn’t made madeleines in awhile, and thought that my committee meeting for the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum gala could be the perfect excuse to make, and eat, madeleines without going overboard. Since I’ve made a few varieties previously, I thought I could try my hand my own variation. I made these with the addition of chocolate chips and used Framboise, a raspberry liquor, in place of the amaretto. They received rave reviews, but I think I will try increasing the raspberry flavor within the cakes themselves next time. These are delicious, look and seem fancy, but are really no more difficult than whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.



  • 10 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, plus more for the pan
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • 3 Eggs, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp Framboise
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  • 1 ¼ cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3 Tbsp Mini Chocolate Chips


  • 1 & ¼ cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tbsp Whole Milk (or whatever you have on hand, lower fat will make a thinner glaze)
  • 2 Tbsp Framboise



  1. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a saucepan. Simmer gently until the butter deepens slightly and there are small flecks of brown in the butter, about 5 minutes.
  2. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. Beat the sugar, salt and eggs several minutes until they are light yellow and thickened. Stir in the Amaretto and vanilla bean paste.
  4. Gently fold in the flour and butter in 3 additions each, alternating between the two. Refrigerate the batter for 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 (350 for dark pans). Brush the madeleine pan with melted butter.
  6. Fill the pans with 1 heaping tablespoon of dough per cookie. Bake 11 minutes until the edges are light brown.
  7. Let cool in the pan 5 minutes. Carefully remove from pan and let cool completely on a cooling rack.
  8. If making these in 2 batches, let the pan cool completely. Wipe out the cookie molds and re-coat with melted butter.


  1. Whisk to combine all of the ingredients.
  2. Place the madeleines on a cooling rack placed on a cookie sheet. (This will catch the glaze and make for easier clean-up.)
  3. Spoon glaze over the cooled cookies. Allow to set for at least 15 minutes before serving.