Lavash Crackers w/ Artichoke Salsa! Daring Bakers September Challenge

This month’s challenge was to make Lavash crackers along with a dip, spread, a salsa, or a relish of some sort. Here’s the challenge… the crackers had to be made with an all purpose wheat flour, or a gluten free flour, I choose the wheat flour, because I had it in my house, but the toppings had to be made gluten and vegan free!

Our host’s this month are alternative Daring Bakers, Natalie from Gluten A Go Go, and Shel, from Musings From The Fish Bowl. I want to thank them for picking a savory recipe this time, it was nice for a change. The recipe comes from the book, The Art Of Extraordinary Bread, By Peter Reinhart. Please check out their blogs for the complete recipe’s and instructions on the crackers.

This took no time to get the dough together, I think it took longer to knead it! I probably didn’t roll it thin enough I should have divided the dough in half, and rolled it into 2 pans, but I didn’t!!

I used a dry seasoning I have that is a mixture of rosemary, garlic, lemon peel, and spicy red pepper, to press into the cracker dough. Some stuck, some didn’t!

All in all this was a very easy and fun challenge, and who knew, I’d learn how to make crackers!!

The topping I chose was a very quick “Artichoke Salsa” which by the way is vegan, and gluten free! It’s simply made by opening a jar or two of your favorite marinated artichokes, draining them and pulsing them in your food processor. When finished pulsing, pour into your bowl.

Then chop some red onion, slice up some kalamata olives, 1 clove of smashed garlic, and diced and seeded tomatoes. Finish off with salt, pepper, shredded basil, a hint of lemon peel and a little olive oil to taste.

It actually tasted really good with the crackers, and it was a great appetizer with a glass of wine!

Please check out the ever growing Daring Baker blogroll for all their cracker creations!

Buon Appetito!


Cannoli Filled Cream Puffs!! August Daring Bakers Challenge

This months Daring Bakers challenge was taken from a book called, Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Herme’.
I knew I was going to like this the minute I saw the recipe, because it only had 3 elements to it! Choux pastry, or cream puff dough, some kind of pastry cream, and a chocolate glaze.

Then there was the fact that our dear Host’s MeetaK and Tony Tahhan, kindly gave us culinary leeway to choose what ever filling we wanted, along with the size and shape of our choice, which made it even better!!

Of course my choice was to stuff these little mini babies with cannoli filling. The filling consisted of ricotta, which was made smooth by putting it into a food processor, along with some powdered sugar for sweetness, after which I added some rum, grated orange rind, just the slightest hint of cinnamon, and mini chocolate chips.

To make it less dense, I folded in some freshly whipped cream.

After glazing the top with chocolate, I finished it off with some chopped pistachio’s.

The biggest problem I had was working with the pastry bag! Everything was squishing out the top, I think my bag was too small. So after one attempt with it, I quickly switched to a gallon size Ziploc bag. I would appreciate any hints to working neatly with a pastry bag!

Other than that only issue, everything else was a breeze! I would definitely make these again!

For the complete recipe please click on our Host’s link above.

And please go check out some of the other Daring Bakers creations here.

Buon Appetito!!


Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream ( Daring Bakers)

Filbert genoise, praline paste, praline butter cream frosting, sugar syrup, apricot glaze, and a ganache! Phew!! Those were all the components to this months Daring Baker challenge.

I must say It all got off to a pretty good start, I mean my cake itself (the genoise), came together perfectly, it rose nice and I was able to get 3 layers evenly cut.

I think the problem started here, although it doesn’t look that bad, I think I overcooked the sugar which turned into a bitter tasting caramel.

I proceeded to make the praline paste by putting the brittle into my food processor and just letting it go till it turned paste like.

I had no problem with this either, It looks pretty good doesn’t it?

Little did I know at the time that the bitterness of the caramel was going to affect the whole flavor of the cake!

Unfortunately that’s what happened, the whole cake had a bitter taste to it, even my Hubby who has a enormous sweet tooth couldn’t even finish his one piece, believe me, he wanted it to be good!!

So needless to say I was very glad that I halved the recipe. I used a 6×3″ pan, and stuck pretty much to the flavorings.

Oh, and my ganache, well that’s another story, I definitely need help in that department!

Mine never got thick enough it turned out more like a glaze, I probably should have added more chocolate to it, but I wanted to get it done as I was starting to lose day light.

I tried to cover a multitude of sins with my “fancy scroll work,” lol, which I did “Sandra Lee” style, by filling a zip lock bag with the frosting and then snipping the corner like a pastry bag.

Hey, you win some and you lose some! I don’t think “fancy cakes” are my forte’, but that’s what being a Daring Baker is all about, I definitely challenged myself! You should have seen my totaled kitchen, that would have been a great photo! lol

I want to thank our dear host this month Chris, over at Mele Cotte, go over there and you can check out the whole recipe. It was 5 pages long when I printed it out.

And don’t forget to check out the other Daring Bakers cakes, I’m sure there are some gorgeous ones out there!!


Rum, Raisin, and Ricotta Danish Braid

Daring Bakers June Challenge
Danish Braid

Danish dough, or as it’s sometimes called laminated or layered dough, is a pastry technique. It’s like the beginning steps of learning puff pastry,” but not nearly as complex”, so says the author Sherry Yard of (The Secrets of Baking). By learning this technique you can create a whole slew of different recipes, of course I would be contented just getting through this one!!

Although it was time consuming, it wasn’t too difficult to do, as long as I had my directions close at hand.

Of course I had to put my Italian twist on it, so for my filling I decided to do sweetened ricotta cheese, with rum soaked, golden raisins. I soaked the raisins over night in the rum so they were definitely “drunk”!!

I wouldn’t call this “braided to perfection” by any means. I prefer to call it a, well…. a more “rustic look”.

The recipe called for Cardamon, which I didn’t own, but really wanted to try, besides, I thought that it would go well with the ricotta . I searched a few stores for the cardamon, and ended up getting it at Whole Foods, it was ground, and only $4.99, which I thought was a steal. In my search I even found it as high as $15.00 (ouch!)

I was anxious to try Cardamon, because I’ve been reading that it’s the “new Cinnamon”. I can’t say that I’m 100% sold on it yet, I’ll have to try it again in something else. I do love it in Chai tea though!

The egg wash made for a beautiful golden brown finish!

Can you see the layers? It really worked!
I have a deep respect for bakers, with their exact measuring and patience, something I am learning to do in this group!
A big “Thank You” to our host’s this month, Kelly, of Sass and Veracity, and Ben, over at What’s
Cooking, for helping me get out of my “comfort zone”. Go over and check out the complete recipe on their blogs.
Don’t forget to check out some of the other Daring Bakers braids here.


CHEESECAKE POPS! ( Daring Bakers)

This happened to be a very timely challenge for me, because yesterday my daughter and I hosted a personal shower for my neice. I thought “what a great idea, I’ll make these for the shower!” Considering I had a bunch of other things to cook and bake for the shower, this might not have been such a good idea! Doing something new and unfamiliar, then dipping and decorating them, and of course taking pictures! Well you know what I mean!!
Thursday night I baked the cheesecake which by the way, took me 65 min. to bake. My oven is only 2 years old and very accurate, so I set the timer for the 35 to 45 min. that the recipe called for, but it just didn’t set. Other than that, I had no problems at all!

Here is the perfectly set and cooled cheesecake!

This months challenge of these DECADENT Cheesecake Pops, was hosted by two ladies, Elle, of Feeding my Enthusiasms and Deborah, at Taste and Tell. Go over to their blogs to check out the whole recipe. I have to admit these little pops were quite a hit at the shower, I got alot of “Ooooh’s” and “Ahhhh’s” A big thanks to them both!

As far as the melting of the chocolate, I did mine in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, it turned out nice and glossy and stuck to the frozen cheesecake balls perfectly.

I decided to decorate the lolipop stick with pipe cleaners, they were super easy to bend around, and I liked the color it added. Great for a Girlie shower!!

I got a little carried away with what I decorated them with. Here is what I used:

Mini chocolate chips



Chopped pecans

Crushed Oreo cookies

Plain chocolate

Crushed Skors toffee bar

Crushed Biscotti ( of course I had to get something Italian in there!)

These one bite wonders are perfect for any party, trust me, they’re worth it!!

Please check out some of the other Daring Bakers amazing Cheesecake Pops here.


Julia Child’s French Bread- Daring Baker Challenge # 2

Julia Child! What can I say? She’s an Icon to say the least, chef extraordinaire, the real deal, and the true Queen of food television! So it’s no wonder why our Host’s, Breadchick Mary, of The Sour Dough and Sara, over at I Like To Cook, wanted to make Julia’s french bread our next Daring Baker challenge.

I have to admit when I first saw the recipe ( by the way, you can get it in detail over at Mary’s site) I thought it was a bit overwhelming, I had to read it several times to take it all in. I kept pushing it aside, because as I said before, I have issue’s with precise and exact measuring. ( believe me, ask my family!) But heck! We’re Daring Bakers! Up for the challenge, good or bad we all learn something. Right?
That’s one thing I always admired from Julia, she was never afraid of making mistakes, she would take it in stride and move on!

So now, on to my french bread baking experience!

The dough came together with no problem at all, I did it by hand.

I did however have other problems, I wanted to make batards, but they ended up turning into baguettes, the dough didn’t fit into my pans, I rolled it out too long, so I ended up flipping my pans over and baking them on the actual bottom of the pan. It worked out well after all, but it was very hard to clean my pans for some reason.

I ended up making two plain loaves, and the other one I added sundried tomatoes with Kalamata olives.

I didn’t change the recipe at all, I just stuck them in, so I hope I stayed in the recipe guidelines as the host’s said we can top at least 1 loaf with any ingredient we wanted.

But I have to say, the plain loaf was our favorite anyway! The crust turned out crispy, crunchy, and chewy, just the way we like it, and the texture inside was the best!

Nothings better than a great loaf of bread, dipped into some very special extra virgin olive oil! Mmmm!!

As Julia would always say….Bon Appetit!


My First Daring Baker Challenge!…LEMON MERINGUE PIE

After many months of observing, I decided to join the elite group of men and women called, The Daring Bakers. This group is the brain-child of Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina, two blogger friends, who decided to challenge themselves by baking the same exact recipe, and then posting about it on each of their blogs. It turned out to be so much fun that they decided to do it again, other bloggers started to see what they were doing, and they too wanted to join in on the fun, and the group just grew and grew. As of today there are 400 plus members and it’s growing every month. The premise is the same today except now each member gets to host the challenge of their choice. This month the hostess is Jen, The Canadian Baker and her pick was Lemon Meringue Pie!!

I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I made a Lemon Meringue pie, I think I was a newlywed, and believe me that was many moons ago! And being that I have a thing about precise measuring, I knew this was going to be a challenge for me when I saw how long the recipe was! There are 3 components to this pie, the crust, (which by the way, tasted and turned out great!) the filling,( as you can see in my picture) was light and lemony, a bit of a challenge because when it comes together it gets really thick and you have to whisk the heck out of it!! But I’m proud to say I succeeded with that also. And last but not least, the meringue.
As for the meringue… well, I had visions of grandeur!! I envisioned it peeking so high in the center, so that when you cut into it, you would have this HUGE pile of meringue on the top of your slice, picture perfect huh??NOT!!

As you can see my dreams didn’t turn out the way I wanted. My meringue never got to that real stiff peek stage,instead it just flattened out when I scooped it on. My fellow Daring Baker, Maryann, suggested that maybe I actually didn’t beat the meringue long enough, and you know, I think she’s right! Any other input from other Daring Bakers would be truely appreciated!

In conclusion, even though the meringue flopped on me, it had a great taste, in fact the whole pie had a really nice flavor, better than any meringue pie I have ever purchased. You could really tell the difference between store bought and home made!

So,I’m happy to say that I completed my very first Daring Baker challenge, and I look forward to what’s in store for next month!!



After wondering around in Whole Foods the other day, a beautiful container of fresh figs caught my eye, I had to buy them. I really didn’t know what I was going to do with them at the time. And then I remembered that the Daring Bakers did a challenge with figs not to long ago. So, getting inspiration from the many recipes I read, I decided I’d give it a try. Polenta cake was something I always wanted to make, and what better way than to par it with figs!!! All in all, it turned out well, my hubby loved it! But then, he’s a sweet freak!! But on the second day it started to dry out. It’s worth trying again, but it needed more moisture!