Breads & Baked Goods

Pumpkin Carving 2013

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Hey everybody!  Happy Halloween!  I just had my annual Pumpkin Carving this past weekend.  Sure it was cold and it did rain a little bit, but I think everyone had fun.  We even did it up a little bit and put some bales of hay around the fire pit so folks could carve and still stay warm.  And we did have a fire extinguisher on hand because having a bunch of dry straw next to an open flame isn’t exactly the safest thing to do.

How autumny!
How autumnal!

Folks brought some stuff to share like a nice rice salad and a yummy warm spinach dip.  We provided the pumpkins and made a big batch of chili.  I baked a whole bunch of stuff as well:

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

I haven't made these extra festive yet with my Halloween accoutrements
I haven’t made these extra festive yet with my Halloween accoutrements

Pepita Lavender Brittle

I love this stuff!
I love this stuff!

Savory Pumpkin Rugelach

Savory and sweet!
Savory and sweet!

Ciderhouse Whiskey (Saveur)

I am clearly not talented at making acceptable lemon twists.
I am clearly not talented at making acceptable lemon twists.

I also made a Harvest Spread, but that was from a mix (I know).  I’ll get the recipes up as soon as I can.  Well, maybe not the Brittle recipe because I have done a Lavender Pepita Croquant before and the recipe is very similar.  On a weird side note, apparently I am the country’s leading expert on Pepita Croquant.  I did a Google search to do some research and there I was — I took up the top three spots.  Weird and unexpected, but still kewl.  Anyhoo, keep an eye out for the recipes and be safe during the holiday!

Gluten-Free Caramel Nut Brownies (a.k.a. Failed Rocky Road Brownies)

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Who doesn’t like a good brownie?  I know I do.  This is my take on a good brownie recipe with a little twist.  Originally I had wanted to do a Rocky Road recipe but it didn’t quite work out.  So this really turned out to be more of a Caramel Nut Brownie, which is still good and tasty!  See, what had happened was I had added the marshmallows to the recipe, but in the process of baking they had melted down to form a caramel-ly nugget in the brownie.  It tasted great, but not exactly the intent.  But that’s how we got penicillin, right?  Well, not really but same principle.

Caramel Nut Brownies!
Caramel Nut Brownies!

On another good note, these are actually gluten-free.  Brownies are one of those things that are easier to make GF since the ratio of flour in the recipe is quite low when compared to a cake.  So you could just swap out the flour with anything that you have on hand, like bean or coconut flour.  I had some GF flour and some xanthan gum on hand so that’s what I used.  Yay me!

Breakfast of champions!
Breakfast of champions!

This recipe was adapted from Ina Garten / Barefoot Contessa and you’ll need a half sheet pan.  Here’s what else you will need:

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 lb., plus 12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 7 large eggs
  • 3 T. instant coffee granules
  • 2 T. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. gluten-free flour
  • 1/4 t. xanthan gum
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 c. chopped walnuts
  • 2 c. mini marshmallows
  • 2 T. cornstarch

1.  Preheat your oven to 350  degrees F.  Now butter and flour your half sheet pan and set aside.

2.  In a heatproof bowl, melt the butter, 1 lb. of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a double-boiler.  Allow to cool.

3.  While the chocolate is cooling, in a large bowl mix the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla, and sugar.  Once combined, gradually add the cooled chocolate mixture.  Let cool to room temperature.

4.  In a medium mixing bowl, sift together your flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt.  Add this to the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.  In a small bowl, toss together the walnuts, marshmallows, and cornstarch.  Add them to the batter and incorporate.  Pour into the prepared baking sheet.

5.  Bake for 20 minutes, then gently drop the baking sheet onto the oven shelf to help any excess air escape from the pan.  Finish baking for about another 15 minutes, until done (test with a cake tester).

6.  Allow to cool completely.  Cut and serve.  You could dust with a little powdered sugar if you like.

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Here you can see what I mean about the marshmallows melting down into a caramel nugget, right in the center of the picture.
Here you can see what I mean about the marshmallows melting down into a caramel nugget, right in the center of the picture.

Vanilla Cheesecake with Strawberries

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Alright, I gots power back (huzzah!)  And I gots a job offer (another huzzah!).  So let’s celebrate with a pretty cheesecake!  This is definitely one of the prettier cheesecakes that I make.  Of course, it is one of the more labor intensive ones to construct, but it’s easy to switch it up by using peaches, oranges, kiwis, or what’s ever striking your fancy that day.  And the cheesecake recipe is such a great staple to have.  This particular recipe is a little bit extra special because I do use a vanilla bean here instead of the extract.  Just a nice touch that really stands out.   Plus you see all the nice tiny vanilla beans, which I just love.

This I made for my Summer Mullet Party / Wine Tasting (you know — business in the front, party in the back).  Unfortunately I was not able to take any pics of any slices, but it was a big hit from what I understand.  I was too preoccupied tasting wine at the time.  And rum.  And bourbon.  Anyhoo, here’s what you need:

For the crust:

  • 12 big graham crackers (before you break it into four pieces)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 6 T. butter, melted

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Wrap the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan with heavy-duty foil.  Lightly coat the bottom and sides of the pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.

2.  Slightly break up crackers and place in the bowl of a food processor with the sugar and salt.  Pulse until fine.  Stir in butter well, and transfer to prepared pan.  Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides of the pan.

3.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until crust starts to brown slightly.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Set aside.

For the filling:

  • 5 8-oz. packages cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
  • 1 c. sour cream

1.  Reduce heat to 325 degrees F.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.  Gradually add the sugar and salt while mixing on low, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

2.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition.  Now add the vanilla seeds and mix to combine.  Stir in the sour cream, again scraping the sides to mix well.

3.  Pour the batter into the cooled crust.  Place the pan in a roasting pan.  Now fill the roasting pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the cheesecake.  Bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until set in the middle.  If the top browns too quickly, cover with foil.

4.  Remove from the oven and run a pairing knife around the edge of the cake to help release it.  Cool completely and then refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

For the topping:

  • 1-2 pints strawberries, hulled & sliced thin, leaving one whole
  • 1/2 red currant jelly
  • 2 t. water

1.  In a small saucepan on low heat, combine the jelly and water.  Gradually melt until mixture is easily spread with a pastry brush.  Set aside to cool but still stay liquid.

2.  Brush the edge of the top of the cheesecake with the warm red currant jelly glaze and make a ring of the sliced strawberries around the edge.  The glaze should re-set when chilled which helps hold the strawberries in place.

3.  Start layering overlapping concentric circles of strawberries, brushing each with the glaze.  Once you get to the middle, place the whole strawberry and brush with the glaze.

4.  Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours to set.  Then you can slice and serve!  And then you visit Jereme’s Kitchen and Daisy Cakes on Facebook and tell me how the recipe went for you 🙂

Notes — I’ve found it helpful to sort the strawberries according to size first before slicing.  I use the slices of the larger strawberries on the outer layers, saving the smaller ones for the inner circles. . . Try different patterns.  Instead of pointing the tips of strawberries out, have the points run along the edge of the cake.  You can then alternate directions with each successive circle.  I really hope that I explained that well.

1st Blogiverary Give-Away

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So here it is!  The moment for which you’ve all been waiting.  To get everyone up to speed, to celebrate my 1 year blogiversary (which was yesterday) I decided to have a give-away.  Nothing celebrates my anniversary more than giving away presents!  And the winner will get not just one, but TWO items!!!

If you are a regular reader, you know that I am here in the great state of Michigan.  So I wanted my give-away to focus on items that are local goods or Michiganian in nature.  Plus, since this is a food blog, it has to be food-related, but not necessarily a food item.  To be honest, sending a food item seemed a little weird.  But enough talk; let’s get to the prizes!!!

First of all, there’s this beautiful Michigan oven mitt.  It shows the Mitten State in all its mitten-shaped glory (and if you’re from Wisconsin, there’s no way that Wisconsin looks like a mitten. . . maybe a boxing glove if you squint a lot).  One side has a map of the lower peninsula and when you turn it over you get the upper peninsula!  It also has a list of the state symbols on the bottom.  Fabulous!

It's a map that's shaped like Michigan!
It's another map that's the shape of Michigan! So it's like you're really getting THREE things!

Second is a cookbook that can put the spotlight on one of our locals.  It was difficult to pick one since we do have a number of great restaurants in town that have their own cookbooks, including several Zagat rated establishments.  Also, there are books from the always spectacular Zingerman’s, which is definitely one of the places to visit if you are in the area for the day.

The book that I chose is eve:  Contemporary Cuisine, Méthode Traditionnelle by Chef Eve Aronoff.  You Top Chef viewers may remember her as a Season 6 alum.  She has worked in the industry for over 20 years, starting from prep cook eventually working her way up to executive chef / owner.  With several years of culinary experience behind her, she attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris where she received degrees in French Cuisine and Wine and Spirits.  Using her background in classical French cooking as a foundation, she draws on African, Cuban, and Vietnamese cultural influences to shape her own unique style.  She has been a champion of the Slow Foods Movement which focuses on a commitment to the environment and also stresses the importance of working with locally sourced artisans and farmers.  In addition to all that,  she was even invited to prepare a meal for the James Beard Foundation where she was able to highlight her cooking philosophy which features bold flavors, contrasts, and textures.

Luckily I had the chance to go to her restaurant eve before it closed (too soon, if you ask me!).  I witnessed first hand her wonderful mien of cooking, while at the same time celebrating the union of two of my best friends (shout out to Cari and Jeremy-with-a-Y).  By the way, her Ginger Lime Martinis are top-notch!  Her current venture is Frita Batidos, which features Cuban-inspired creations that harken back to times she spent growing up in Miami while visiting her grandmother.  Her food is amazing and her passion definitely becomes apparent in how she writes about food and how she connects with food.  And if that quick bio doesn’t make you want to add this book to your culinary library, I don’t know what will!

There's Cooper wondering why I'm not looking at squirrels with him.

Alright, here’s how you enter:

  1. Commenting on this post gets you one entry
  2. If you post in the comments, AND subscribe to my blog you get one
  3. Liking my Jereme’s Kitchen Facebook page gets you one
  4. Liking my Daisy Cakes Facebook page gets you one

So that’s four chances for you.  You can let me know on your comments if you already subscribe, but I will probably check anyway.  I will have to go ahead and say that any member of my family will have to be excluded from this give-away, but they probably won’t read this anyway.  Plus anyone who is affiliated with Jereme’s Kitchen or Daisy Cakes (thinking about changing the name) will also have to be excluded.  But since that involves just me, I can police that fairly easily 🙂

Y’all have until Friday, April 6 to enter, but maybe I could extend it a day.  The winner will be chosen at random and I will make the announcement (or contact the winner) the Monday after Easter (April 9).  Although I may be distracted because I am planning on winning that 1/2 a billion dollar Mega Millions jackpot 🙂  I know I’m going to win — I can feel it!!!

Good luck everyone!

Here's a preview of the book.

Remembering Licorice

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On this day last year, my dog Licorice passed away.  She was 16 at the time and would have turned 17 in February 2011.  Now if you remember a few months ago I had posted about having to put down my dog Moby in September of last year as well (and yes these were the saddest holidays I’ve ever experienced).  His death was from out of the blue, whereas Licorice’s passing was something for which I had been preparing for years.  Given her advanced age and some previous (and current) health scares, her death wasn’t that much of a shock.  But that didn’t make it any less painful.  After all, this was the longest relationship that I’ve had with another living thing aside from family.

I was living in Gainesville, Fl when I rescued her.  I just fell in love with her gigantic bat ears; she later grew into those.  She was black lab mix with a barrel chest, skinny legs, and pointy ears.  Definitely an odd duck for a lab.  But she was a sweetie, unless you tried to mess with her food.  Moby learned that lesson quickly.

Happy Sweet Sixteen!

Towards the end, her health started to fail.  There was a big scare when she was about 13 when she couldn’t move, spewed out fluid from both ends, and couldn’t eat a thing.  It lasted over a week and I was at the point where if I didn’t see any improvement, I would have to really consider the worst.  At the time she was on so many meds and I was up pretty much every hour administering some kind of medication.  Eventually I worked out a medication schedule that also included flipping her on her opposite side, changing / washing her bedding 3 or 4 times a day, and cleaning her as best as I could.  But she made it through and lasted a few more years.

The last few months of her life became more of a struggle.  She wasn’t able to walk around on her own; only her front legs had any kind of strength.  Also, she had started to get some skin infections and problems with discharge from her eyes.  Her weight dropped and her breathing became more labored.  Not the best quality of life.

Daisy and Licorice want some cake!

But there are lots of happy memories, with birthdays being some of those memories.  This is from her Sweet Sixteen.  I couldn’t afford to buy her a car, but she got a cake baked with love!  Thankfully Licorice, Moby, and Daisy all got a chance to take part in the celebration.  This was taken from Food, Fun, and Facts.  For a little added treat, I added a cream cheese frosting and some gummi bears.  It was her Sweet Sixteen, after all so I thought a little extra treat was in order.  Here’s what you need:

  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. cooking oil
  • 1 c. shredded carrots
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1 egg

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a ring mold with cooking spray.

2.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking soda.  In another combine the remaining ingredients.  Add the flour combination and mix quickly.

3.  Transfer to prepared mold and bake for 30 – 40 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before transferring to a serving plate.

Notes — serving suggestion is to frost it with some cottage cheese and top it with some carrot pieces. . . like I mentioned earlier, I frosted this one with a cream cheese frosting and topped it with some gummi bears.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pepita Croquant

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Sure it's cracked, but it still tastes good!

Here’s that pumpkin cheesecake that I was talking about in my Lavender Pepita Croquant post.  It’s nothing all that fancy, but still it’s pretty much a classic dessert for this time of year.  If you’re looking for an alternative to a pumpkin pie, this could be it!  I tried to make this a marbled cheesecake, but I made too much of the chocolate batter and it just ended up like a chocolate layer on the top.  Which, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, just not the effect I wanted.  It didn’t really matter since I was topping this with a nice whipped topping.  This will make a 10-in cake.  Here’s what you need.

For the crust:

  • 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 c. ginger snaps
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted, plus more for the pan

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter the bottom and sides of your springform up about 1 inch.  Set aside.

2.  In a medium-sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix.  Pour the melted butter over the top.  Mix well to combine.

3.  Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and up the sides about 1 inch.  Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.

For the filling:

  • 4 8-oz. packages cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 c. canned pumpkin puree (or fresh if you’ve got it!)
  • 1 T. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 c. flour

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In the bowl of a stand mixer and on low-speed, cream together the cream cheese and the sugar until smooth.  Add the pumpkin, spices, vanilla, and salt.  Mix well, being sure to scrape down the sides.

You can't even see the cracks anymore!

2.  Add the eggs one at a time, again scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl after each addition.  Sift to flour over the top and mix until just combined.

3.  Pour the filling into the prepared crust and, smooth the top.  Bake in the middle of the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Allow to cool before wrapping in plastic while still in the pan.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

4.  Cover the top with some fresh whipped cream or whipped topping.  Sprinkle the top with some of the Pepita Croquant.  And it’s ready to serve!

Notes — I mistakenly used a 9-in springform for this and it should have been a 10-in.  So I had to keep the cake in the oven longer than it should have, so some stuff was a little bit “crispier” than it should have been.  Just a reminder to use proper equipment!. . . If you just have a 9-in pan, just use 3 packages of cream cheese, omit one egg and 1/4 c. sugar. . . You’ll notice that there is some cracking on the cheesecake.  If this happens to you, an easy fix is to just cover it with something like some whipped topping (which I had leftover from the pumpkin trifle from a little bit ago). . . Crust ingredients can vary, specifically the butter.  You need to have enough moisture so that the dough can crumbs can hold together.  Take a handful of the crust mixture in your hand and squeeze.  If it holds together, it’s good; if it falls apart, you’ll need more butter.

Farmers market, or Farmer’s market, or maybe Farmers’ market?

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I still am not clear on the proper phrase to use.  Sometimes I find myself overly focused on the correct grammatical term.  They all work on some level which is kinda strange.  Weird thing to become obsessed about, I know.  But I digress. . . This is just a quick post focusing on the Ann Arbor’s Farmers Market (check them out on Facebook, too!)  These were from a couple of weeks ago.  To be more specific, this was our trip to the weekend market the morning before my family got into town for Labor Day weekend.  This was so early that some of the vendors didn’t even set up for the day.  Early trips are nice because you get to beat the crowds, but on the other hand not all the booths are there.  And it can get crowded, especially on home game days when visiting Wolverine fans and alumni come into town.  Anyhoo, hope y’all enjoy this quick introduction to the market.  If y’all are ever in town, make sure to try and stop by.

Squash!
I was so tempted to pick up some of those purple beans.
Luv the squash blossoms. I will post a recipe for some stuffed blossoms soon
Who doesn't luv fresh flowers? I guess if you're allergic you wouldn't. . .
it. . . early. . . Dan. . . need. . . coffee. . .
Isn't nice how everything is so neat and organized?
The baguettes from Cafe Japon are amazing! The best ones in town, in my opinion
I really like the work of this artist. And everything is very reasonably priced.
Those small potatoes up front were the size of raspberries. I see a salad of those, some peas, and some pearl onions, with some mint maybe?
Since Halloween is this month, I thought I'd put in a picture of some Ghost Peppers. Scary!