Posts Tagged ‘Better Homes and Gardens’

What a great week for food. Jenn, my favorite on Top Chef: Las Vegas, made it to Napa. She won the Quickfire Challenge but the inconsistency of her unilaterally-cooked salmon had me worried. It was Eli who was asked to “pack his knives” on Wednesday’s episode after delivering a rare, inedible steak. Sorry, Eli.

With the sun nowhere in sight and the pitter patter of rain on the windows, food is safely indoors.. being created in the comforts of my kitchen. After watching Julie & Julia for the first time last night, I woke up craving crepes. Inspired by all the French cooking, I flipped through my handy Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook and examined the Basic Dessert Crepes recipe.

Basic Dessert Crepes


1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/8 teaspoon salt


Combine all ingredients and beat with a rotary beater till blended. Heat a lightly greased 6-inch skillet. Remove from heat. Spoon in 2 tablespoons batter; lift and tilt skillet to spread batter. Return to heat; brown on one side. (Or, cook on an inverted crepe pan.) Invert pan over paper toweling ; remove crepe. Repeat to make 16 to 18 crepes, greasing skillet occasionally.

Likes: 6 ingredients. 6 staple ingredients that are most-likely stocked in the kitchen. One bowl and one batch that goes a long way.

I have always been somewhat intimidated by crepes. And now, I don’t know why. Flipping the crepe is much easier than it sounds. By spraying the pan lightly with cooking spray, my crepe remains perfectly in tact. A spatula can be used to help with the flip, as well. Also, the size of the skillet doesn’t matter. Just make sure the entire skillet is greased and it is important to eye ball the correct about of batter. The correct amount of batter is enough to cover the bottom of the skillet thinly, evenly, and completely. Use the “lift, tilt, and spread” technique stated in the recipe. It works. I suggest pouring the batter into the center of the pan and using the technique to work the batter around the rest of the pan. Drizzling around the pan will most likely leave gaps in the crepe, and gaps will cause the filling to leak out of the final product. We don’t want that! So, be careful. Make sure the skillet is only heated; if the skillet is too hot, it will be difficult for the batter to spread evenly. The most important piece of advice I can give you is: work quickly! And if you mess up, try again. You’ll get the hang of it.

As for the filling, use your imagination. Fruit filling, Nutella, cheese.. with toppings that can include (but are not limited to) chocolate syrup, maple syrup, powdered sugar.. the possibilities are endless. Mix and match some of your favorites. Be creative. The Cookbook offers a few filling recipes like Lemon-Filled Crepes. But, I decided to go with something simple using what I had laying around the kitchen. I sliced a small banana and thinly sliced a quarter of a peeled apple (with all apple and no banana, I used the whole peeled apple). In a small skillet, I sauteed the fruit with a little bit of butter (Julia Child always said that everything is better with butter!.. or was that Paula Dean?!) and cinnamon, heating until the apples were softened. The crepe was stuffed and topped with a dusting of powdered sugar.

When I made the crepes with only apple filling, I cut the peeled apple into thicker slices. The sauté time is a little longer, but the final product of apple-butter-cinnamon in a crepe reminded me of apple pie.. in a lighter, somewhat less guilty, version. I also considered dicing the apple. But then I realized that I would rather fork and knife my crepe with the large apple slices than scramble with the little bits of apple. I’ll probably try it eventually.. Today just isn’t the day.

Dessert crepes can finish off a great dinner. But for me, crepes can be eaten.. well, whenever. Light, fluffy, and easy to make. Crowd-pleaser.. Guaranteed. Bon Appetit!

nom nom nom.



Read Full Post »

Happy Friday! Today I was on a mission for my sweet-toothed fans! Ice cream, banana pudding, and toffee bar cookies.. Yes, I made all three.

I have never made homemade ice cream before. Okay, I said it. There has been an unused Krups ice cream maker in the house for years, and it’s about time to break in the little guy. As instructed by manufacturer, I placed the ice cream maker cylinder into the freezer last night to make sure it would be cool enough upon use. I searched for an simple ice cream recipe, quickly stumbling upon Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream recipes of all sorts. Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia, Heath Bar Crunch.. Wow. I would have made them all if I had more than one ice cream maker and way more room in my freezer. I settled on the basic French Vanilla recipe. For my first ice cream making experience, all I can hope for is tasty success.

Ben & Jerry’s French Vanilla Ice Cream*


2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract


1. Whisk the eggs until lights and fluffy.
2. Whisk  in the sugar until completely blended.
3. Pour in the whipping cream, milk, and vanilla extract, and keep whisking until smooth.
4. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

*This recipe is included in Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.

Vanilla ice cream is a great starting point. Then, you have the option of adding in anything extra. Some suggestions: chocolate chips, mint chips, Reeses peanut butter cups, Heath Bar pieces, graham cracker, chocolate syrup.. pretty much whatever sounds good. Just 2 minutes before my ice cream was scheduled to be done, I added in milk chocolate chips and Nilla Wafer pieces.

After my ice cream thickened, I transferred the mixture into a container and set into the freezer to stiffen further.

My dad tried a couple scoops when he came home from work. He responded, “Wow, it tastes just like ice cream!” Yes, Dad, it is– in fact– ice cream.

french vanilla ice cream w/choc chips and nilla wafers!

Next, I began my banana pudding. I spent last Thanksgiving in NYC. M sent me back to school with a bagful of goodies, including some of Buttercup Bakery’s banana pudding. After a small cup of banana pudding from Buttercup Bakery in NYC just about a year ago, I knew I needed more! I discovered the recipe online: Magnolia/Buttercup Bakery’s Banana Pudding. Last winter, I made the banana pudding and fell in love all over again. It tasted just like I remembered.. and I was even happier that I didn’t have to go to NYC to satisfy my craving!

Magnolia/Buttercup Bakery’s Banana Pudding


1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix — preferably Jell-O brand)
3 cups heavy cream*
1 (12 oz) box Nabisco Nilla Wafters (no substitutions!)
4 cups sliced ripe bananas

*Can use whipped topping (Cool Whip) instead of heavy cream. I like using heavy cream– makes it more authentic!


1. In a small bowl, on medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined., about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat well, about 2 minutes more. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight, before continuing. It is very important to allow the proper amount of time for the pudding mixture to set.

2. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended and no streaks of pudding remain.

3. To assemble the dessert, select and large, wide bowl (preferably glass) with a 4-5 quart capacity. Arrange one-third of the wafters to cover the bottom of the bowl. overlapping if necessary, then one-third of the bananas and one-third of the pudding. Repeat the layering twice more, garnishing with additional wafters or wafter crumbs on the top layer of the pudding. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours- or up to 8 hours, but no longer!- before serving.

small batch banana pudding!

banana pudding packed for parentals to share at work.

Lastly, toffee bar cookies. True to its name, this dessert tastes just like toffee in a lovely bar cookie form. Unlike shaped or drop cookies, bar cookies are much simpler. After 15-18 minutes of cook time and one 15 x10x1-inch baking pan, a whole batch is ready.

Toffee Bars


1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 6-oz package (1 cup) semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


1. Preheat oven 350

2. Beat butter for 30 seconds; add brown sugar and beat till fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla; beat well. Gradually add flour to beaten mixture, beating constantly.

3. Stir in chocolate pieces and nuts.

4. Press evenly in an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan.

5. Bake in 350 oven for 15 to 18 minutes.

6. Cut into bar while warm.

Makes 48.

English Toffee Bars:  Prepare Toffee Bars as above, except omit chocolate pieces and nuts in the dough; bake as directed. Immediately sprinkle chocolate pieces over top and let stand till softened; then spread evenly. Sprinkle with finely chopped nuts.

*This recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (aka MY BIBLE)

toffee bar cookies.

nom nom nom.


Read Full Post »