Sunday, February 5, 2012

Hello Autumn! Whoopie Pumpkin Pies!

As soon as September rolls around, the craving for anything pumpkin flavor hits me like a ton of...well...pumpkins. I cannot wait for that first Pumpkin Latte from Starbucks (although I will only order it once to say I've had it. After that, I order a Chai Tea Latte with 2 shots of pumpkin! YUM!) along with a pumpkin scone. Of course, it's time to start stock piling all the pumpkin puree I can at the supermarket before my friends and fellow pumpkin obsessed buy them all up!

While scouring the web for pumpkin recipes, I came across this one and for some reason, I knew I had to try it! Turns out, I loved it. Better yet, the KIDS loved it! This one is a hit!!

Neely's Whoopie Pumpkin Pie

For the cookie:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar (start of with this amount, but you'll probably need to add a lot more)
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Using a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, then the buttermilk and the vanilla. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients in increments to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the batter onto parchment lined sheet trays, leaving a 2-inch space between each cookie. Put in the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on rack.

Beat together the cream cheese and butter, in a small bowl, until smooth. Slowly add in the confectioners sugar. Once smooth, add the pumpkin puree, the cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Beat until smooth and well mixed.

To assemble the cookie, spread a heaping tablespoon of the filling to the flat side of a cookie and sandwich with another. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

I have to say, that this was one of the funnest recipes I've made. I just had a great time working this one. I will say though that after reading the reviews and changes others had made, that you do indeed need to add A LOT more confectioners' sugar to the filling mix to thicken it up. If you don't, it WILL be runny! I also found that putting in the fridge for a little bit to set them up, helped a great bit too. But regardless of those little quirks, the Whoopie Pie made my family WHOOP for joy!

Recipe curteousy of Food Network: The Neely's.

Back to School with Giada's Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

Waaaaaaay back towards the end of August, my kids headed back to school. Being the good Mommy that I am, I wanted to give them a little treat for them to enjoy when they came home from their first day.

Instead of going with the traditional Chocolate Chip or Peanut Butter cookie that the kids all crave, I did something a little more...shall we say....selfish?

Ok, ok...these weren't JUST for the kids. I had been wanting to make these cookies for a while now and I just needed an excuse. I love anything lemon and throwing in that twist with the ricotta cheese had me intrigued.  Not to mention, it's a cookie created by one of my favorite celebrity chefs - Giada.

So after I shooed the kids out the door in the morning and spent some quality 'me' time by cleaning and playing on Facebook, I decided it was time to knock these out!

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.


In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.


Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container.

Before the glazing...

After glazing...Yum!

The verdict?

I could eat the glaze by the spoonful!

My husband and I LOVED them. My middle son, Jason did as well. (He's a lemon lover like me.) But the other two would of preferred the Chocolate Chip cookies. Stinkers!

I think these are wonderful cookies for perhaps a little more grown up palate. Serve with a warm cup of tea and you've got yourself a delicious ending to a lovely little luncheon with some friends.


Working out the details - Giada's Raspberry Pound Cake with Vin Santo Cream

With Gourmet Club starting up, my board and I needed to get together and go over details, come up with our new by-laws and start planning for our 'Welcome Coffee' where we sign up new and returning members for the club.

I decided that I wanted to serve my girls Giada's Raspberry Pound Cake with Vin Santo Cream as a little treat to gnaw on while we knocked out all the details.

Raspberry Pound Cake with Vin Santo Cream

                    For Pound Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the loaf pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing loaf pan
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag sweetened, frozen raspberries, thawed and drained
Set an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9 by 5 by3-inch loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, orange zest, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until blended, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, fold the drained raspberries evenly into the batter.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. (Cake may deflate in the center during cooling)

Vin Santo Cream
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Vin Santo wine or Moscato wine
In a large bowl, beat the cream until it holds soft peaks.
Add the vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and Vin Santo. Continue to beat mixture until cream holds stiff peaks.

Transfer the pound cake to a serving platter. Slice and serve with the Vin Santo Cream.

I could not find any Vin Santo wine, so I used a Barefoot Moscato wine, which worked very nicely with the cream. The ONLY issue I had with the whole pound cake was the raspberry seeds. I'm sure there's got to be frozen, seeded raspberries out there somewhere. Right?  But other than that, I really enjoyed this pound cake. The Mascato based cream took it to a higher, richer level so I wouldn't skip that.

 If you notice in the pic, I had a little 'sinkage' on the top of the loaf. But was rest assured by Giada's website that this was totally normal and not to worry!

The Gourmet girls all seemed to enjoy it and I know my husband really did as well since there were no leftovers for later.

(On a side note: I really need to stop using my iPhone to take pictures! Especially since it's a - GASP - 3G! Horrible quality. I apologize!)

I have been SUCH a slacker! A new recipe - Curried Chicken Salad

Today as I synced my iPhone and noticed I had more food pictures on there than actual pictures of people, I realized that I have a TON of recipes that I've tried in the last, oh...6 months or so that I haven't blogged about. Then I thought, 'When was the last time I even did a blog post?' Let's just say, it's been A LONG time!

One of my purposes for creating this Hammie Gourmet blog was to write about my adventures as President of the OWC Gourmet Club here on Camp Lejeune.  I would like to pretty much blame the non-existing posts on this. Being President and running the club has totally cleared out any free time that I wanted to devote to writing and blogging. (Although my FB and Pinterest accounts haven't suffered! ;) Thank goodness!)

So here I am, ready to dive back into blogging about my adventures in Culinary delights. I can't make any promises, as this could just be a one day fluke but I'm here to tell you, I'm about to knock out as many of these bad boys as possible!

This recipe I'd like to give props to Care's Kitchen! I've gotten many food inspirations from her blog! The Curried Chicken Salad is to die for if you are a curry lover, like me! I could just eat and eat and eat and eat it. Did I mention, I could seriously eat the crap out of this? I hope you love it as much as I do and if you want more fun and exciting recipes, head on over to Care's Kitchen! You won't be disappointed.

Curried Chicken Salad

3 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cooked and cooled (Care's recommended rubbing them with herbs and grilling. I rubbed mine with some evoo and good ol' S&P and baked them in the oven until done.)
1/4 to 1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Plain Yogurt
1 tsp. curry powder (large teaspoon)
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. hot paprika
1/3 cup celery, finely diced
1/4 cup scallion, chopped
2 T. cilantro, chopped
1 T. fresh lemon juice
a handful of raisins
a small handful of sliced almonds
Kosher salt and pepper to taste


Chop up your chicken into bite size pieces.

In a medium bowl mix together mayonnaise, yogurt, curry powder, turmeric powder, paprika, celery, scallion, cilantro and lemon juice. 

Fold your chicken into the mayonnaise/yogurt mixture.

Add your raisins and almonds and salt and pepper to taste. Even better the next day eaten cold!
Serve some sliced cantaloupe for a light, delish meal!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Banana Bourbon Layer Cake

Most of you know that us Hammie's, especially Jon and I like to torture each other by having our birthdays and anniversary all within the span of 5 days. First it's my birthday, followed 2 days later by our Anniversary, and finally 2 days later, it's Jon's birthday. At the time, I think we thought it'd be a GREAT idea to cram all that together.But 10 years later...I sometimes think it's a bit too much. What's wrong with having a wedding anniversary in say....March? April? Nooooo...we have to shove as many celebrations into one month as possible! lol (Not to mention that our youngest, Jack's birthday is ALSO in July. Poor planning or suckers for punishment? You decide.)

BUT in any case, since I had made those Fudgy Salty Peanut Butter Brownies for my birthday (which were still left over for dessert on our anniversary), I had decided that Jon was getting a birthday CAKE. Whether he liked it or not! I started looking for something unique. Something that doesn't necessarily scream birthday cake. While flipping through the many pages of different recipe websites, I came across the perfect recipe for him!

He has ALWAYS loved Banana Foster and this was like a mad, beautiful mix of cake-bananan-high proof liquor that dreams are made of!

Banana Bourbon Layer Cake!
recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2 to 3 ripe bananas, enough to make 1 cup mashed
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 bananas, not too ripe
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons dark-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup bourbon


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time. In another bowl, mash bananas, and combine with buttermilk and vanilla. Add alternately to butter mixture with flour mixture, beginning and ending with flour.
  3. Beat egg whites until stiff; fold into batter.
  4. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
  5. When cake layers are cool, whip cream with confectioners sugar until stiff. Fold in sour cream. Place a cake layer on a plate, and spread with filling to within 1 inch of edge. Place other layer on top, and press down lightly. Chill for 1 hour.
  6. Slice bananas 1/2 inch thick. Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. When it sizzles, add slices in a single layer. Sprinkle with sugar. When golden brown, turn slices; cook until brown on other side.
  7. Carefully pour in bourbon (using a measuring cup, never the bottle) and ignite with a match. Cook until flames die down, shaking the pan to toss bananas in syrup. Remove from heat.
  8. Arrange banana slices on top of cake. Pour remaining syrup over cake, letting it drip down sides. Serve immediately!
*Prepare the sliced-banana topping just before serving.

    Look closely, this was my very first attempt at Flambé -ing something! So happy to report that I didn't set anything on fire - mainly me!

    The cake definitely had a nice strong banana flavor and if I could of changed anything, I would of cooked the bourbon-banana mixture a little bit longer to tone down the strong hit of alcohol flavor and I would of flavored the whipped cream mixture a bit more (made it sweeter) that went in between the layers.

    Jon blowing out his birthday candles!

    Happy 36th birthday babe! Man, glad I'm not as old as you are!

    My Birthday Brownies!

    Wow! Ok, it has seriously been a long time since I've posted anything here. My apologies (to ye few followers). I've been living the Summer diet of hot dogs, mac-n-cheese and cheeseburgers. Toss in some melon and a couple glasses of wine or beer and that's been my diet since the middle of June. Sounds healthy and delightful, doesn't it?

    Part of that is because my family and I headed to my parents home in Michigan for a few weeks, where my sister and her family were also visiting. With a home full of 12 people and 4 dogs, the fastest, cheapest way to feed people was by bbq'ing some hot dogs and cheeseburgers. I'm good on those for a LONG while, btw....

    When I finally did make it back to our home, it was basically just get what we need to get by on until the next payday (which wasn't too far off). But, I was bound and determined to use my summer free time to try out a bunch of new recipes, whether I thought my family would eat them or not! Thankfully, my guinea pigs are always willing to try something new, so for the last few weeks I've been cranking out different recipes for us all to try.

    But, let's start with something FUN! My birthday brownies!

    I had been thinking about what kind of cake I wanted to make myself for my 32nd (ah-hmm...) birthday and finally decided, 'you know what, I don't even WANT a cake! I want brownies!' So then I went on the made search for the perfect brownies to make. This is what I found!

    Fudgy Salty Peanut Butter Brownies

    Tell me that doesn't just sound and look divine! I wanted something better than a box mix and I had remembered how much I enjoyed Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Chocolates, so I looked for something with the main ingredient being 'salted'. I'm telling you, these are the most delicious, richest, "OMG I just had a food orgasm" in my mouth brownies you'll ever have the pleasure of shoving in your face!

    In other words - MAKE THEM! It'll be worth it in the end....

    Fudgy Salted Peanut Butter Brownies
    recipe courtsey Food Network


    Decadent Brownies:

    • 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, plus more, softened, for pan
    • 1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 1 1/3 cups sugar
    • 1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs, at room temperature
    • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Peanut Butter Buttercream Layer:

    • 1 cup creamy peanut butter(don't use old-fashioned or natural)
    • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
    • 1 1/4 tablespoons milk
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 cups salted cocktail peanuts


    • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
    • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter


    Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. 

    For your brownie batter: 
    Melt your butter in a medium (or large) heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. 

    While the butter is melting, whisk the cocoa powder, sea salt and sugar in a separate bowl. (The sugar and salt will work as abrasive agents to get any lumps out of the cocoa.) Whisk the cocoa/sugar/salt combo into the melted butter until the sugar has dissolved fully. The mixture should look like fudge and pull away from the bowl into a ball. Take off the stove and set the pan on a dishtowel on your counter. Allow the fudgy mixture to cool down until it's warm, but not hot anymore.
    While that is cooling, line the bottom and sides of your 9 by 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil. You want to leave about 4 inches of overhang on the 2 opposite sides. These serve as your handles to remove the brownies from the pan in 1 piece, so make sure that there is enough of the overhang for you to have a solid grip. Grease the parchment or foil well.
    Stir in the vanilla into the cooled fudge mixture to loosen it up. Add the eggs into the mixture 1 at a time, adding the second egg after the first egg is fully incorporated. The batter should look shiny and well blended. Add in your flour and stir it until it's fully incorporated. Once it looks fully blended, beat the batter vigorously for at least 45 strokes. This'll not only get out any pent up stress, but it will make the brownies chewy. Fold in your chocolate chips. Spread the very thick and fudgy brownie batter evenly in the lined pan with an offset spatula or your greased hands.
    Pop the brownies in the oven and bake until they get a nice crust and your house smells like brownies, 30 to 35 minutes. Let them cool completely on a rack or a dishtowel on your counter.
    While the brownies are cooling make the buttercream and ganache. 

    For the buttercream: 
    Mix your peanut butter and butter together in a stand mixer until they are totally blended. Turn your mixer down and slowly add your powdered sugar and fine sea salt. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn your mixer back to medium, add your milk and vanilla and keep mixing until it's fully blended. Dollop the peanut butter buttercream in heaping spoonfuls on top of the cooled brownies. Evenly spread it with the back of a butter knife the over the surface. Scatter the peanuts evenly over the buttercream, pressing into the buttercream so that the ganache has something to hold on to and the peanuts are all covered. 

    For the ganache: 
    Melt the chocolate chips and butter together in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Allow the ganache to cool down slightly for 10 minutes or so, then pour it evenly over the peanut butter buttercream layer. Smooth the ganache out with the back of a butter knife, making sure to cover the buttercream and peanuts completely. Chill the brownies in the refrigerator until the toppings are set, 1 1/2 hours or so.
    Remove these delicious guys from the refrigerator. Lift up the ends of the foil liner and place the Fudgy Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies on a cutting board. Cut into squares. 

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Spin on Potato Salad and Cannoli's

    I guess potato salad and cannoli's don't generally go hand in hand, but sometimes when you're in the mood to try out different things, you pick what you pick and you don't throw a fit!

    Yesterday I was in the mood for a different kind of potato salad then the one I usually make. Jon and I had decided that we wanted to cook out some Italian sausages on the grill and we both really could go for potato salad. I looked all over the net and found this yummy sounding one on Epicurious....

    Jacques's French Potato Salad 

    So it was decided I would make that. But I was really also jiving to make these very yummy cannoli knock-offs I found in my current issue of the Food Network Magazine. They're actually called, 'Cone-oli's" since instead of the typical shell you use, they substituted sugar ice cream cones. They're adorable!
    For the potato salad, it calls for Fingerling Potatoes. In case you didn't know, Fingerling Potatoes look like this....

    But wouldn't you know it, the commissary (our military grocery store) didn't have any and I was not about to run back into town. So I improvised and bought small red potatoes. I also couldn't find any chive (UGH, seriously?!) so just used a little more green onion. Oh! And I was totally in my 'happy place' since I got to use a couple of herbs from my container garden! JOY!!!
    Here is the recipe for the Potato Salad....

    Jacques's French Potato Salad 

    yield: About 6 cups, serving 4 to 6

    • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes or other small waxy potatoes
    • 1/2 cup or so extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 cup 1/4-inch slices of scallion, green and white parts
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 3 cloves garlic, mashed and coarsely chopped (1 1/2 tsp)
    • 1/3 cup white wine
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
    • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped chives
    • 2 tablespoons or more coarsely chopped fresh green or purple basil, fresh tarragon, or parsley
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper (coarse), plus more if needed

    For serving and garnishing
    Large radicchio leaves, about 6, from the outside of the head
    1 or 2 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
    Chopped fresh parsley

    Scrub the potatoes and put them, whole, in a saucepan with water to cover by 1/2 inch. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook the potatoes gently until they are just tender and can be pierced with a sharp knife. Drain immediately and let cool slightly. (Scrape the skin from the cooked potatoes, if you want, as soon as they can be handled. For a decorative look with fingerlings, scrape off only a band of skin, about 1/2 inch thick, all around the long sides of the potato.)
    Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small saute pan. When hot, add the scallions and the onion, toss to coat well, and cook for about a minute over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, toss to mix, and cook for just a few moments, then remove the pan from the heat.
    Slice the potatoes while still warm, cutting them crosswise into 1/2-inch sections. Put the pieces in a large mixing bowl, pour the wine and 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil over them, and toss gently to distribute. Add the warm vegetables from the pan, mustard, chives, chopped herbs, salt, and pepper, and gently fold all together, mixing well but not crushing the potatoes. Taste the salad and add more seasonings as you like.
    Serve the potatoes warm (no colder than room temperature). Arrange the large radicchio leaves, if you have them, in a close circle on the serving platter, with their curved insides up, to form a rough bowl. Spoon the potato salad inside the leaves, sprinkle chopped egg around the edges, and parsley over the top. 

    Cooks Notes: Not only could I not find any fingerling potatoes or chives but I also couldn't find any  radicchio. It was not a good day to grocery shop apparently. One of the things that I despise by living here btw...hard to find ingredients that really aren't that 'unique'. UGH!  

    But that is the beauty of cooking - IMPROVISING! So I didn't have the right potatoes or the chives and radicchio leaves. But that didn't mean it wasn't delicious! Jon and I LOVED it! My sister and her kids, on the other hand - well, it wasn't their cup of tea. But we've just resigned ourselves to the fact that just because we're sisters doesn't mean we were born with the same food pallet. HER LOSS! 

    My lovely Potato Salad...

    Up next was our dessert for tonight! I love Cannolli's and when I saw this in the Food Network magazine, I just had to make it!

    Yield: 6 sevings
    • 1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
    • 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (about 2 ounces)
    • 6 sugar cones
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios


    Put the ricotta in a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Refrigerate 30 minutes to drain.
    Transfer the ricotta to a large bowl. Add the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, and the orange zest and beat with a mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute. Fold in 3 tablespoons chopped chocolate. Cover and refrigerate until thick and cold, at least 1 hour.
    Transfer the ricotta mixture to a resealable plastic bag. Snip off one corner and pipe the mixture into the cones. Gently press the remaining chocolate and the pistachios into the ricotta mixture. Dust the cones with confectioners' sugar. 

    Now, I'm not one generally for the chocolate-orange combination, but I have to say it was dang tasty in this! Again, no one but Jon and I liked them (all the more for us). I thought that at least with the cute little sugar cones, they would of gobbled them up but alas, another culinary expedition that only resulted in Jon and I eating the whole dang thing. 

    Such is life....