Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Recipe From Ina's New Cookbook...Mocha Chocolate IceBox Cake

As you all know,  Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?" cookbook just came out this week.

I have not read it, but from what I can gather, it is full of simple no-fuss recipes for those who like to eat well but want to spend minimum time in the kitcken.  That seems to be the majority these days.  I think there are few of us who want to spend a whole morning making a bolognese sauce for a dinner party.

She was on the Today Show Tuesday morning showing three of the recipes in her new book.  Click here to view the segment.

Serves 8


2 cups cold heavy cream

12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup KahlĂșa liqueur

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Pernigotti

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3, 8-ounce packages of Tate's Bake Shop chocolate chip cookies

Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, KahlĂșa, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed, until it forms peaks.

To assemble the cake, arrange chocolate chip cookies flat in an 8-inch springform pan, covering the bottom as much as possible. (I break some cookies to fill in the spaces.) Spread a fifth of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the cookies. Place another layer of cookies on top, lying flat and touching, followed by another fifth of the cream. Continue layering cookies and cream until there are five layers of each, ending with a layer of cream. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the top with the chocolate, cut in wedges and serve cold.

*You don't have to use Tate's but do get a good brand

Recipe Ina Garten
Photo Quentin Bacon

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Pumpkin Carving Contest At the Office!

I'll have to say that my daughter's office surely knows how to promote good will amongst it's co-workers.  When they are not having a chili contest, they are having a pumpkin carving contest, or a picnic at the zoo!  They are a group of very creative people... after all,  they design internet advertising and promotions for major corporations around the globe.

I asked my daughter last night who was responsible for all these great ideas and she mentioned they have a great Human Resources person.   Goes to show you where the great ideas are really coming from!

Here are some of the entries:

My daughter's entry

Some of the entries

Some stiff competition!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Carving Ideas!

If you haven't carved your pumpkin yet, don't despair, here are some great ideas from the folks at Better Homes & Gardens!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Dogs Of Madison Avenue

Last week I spend a few days in New York City visiting friends and enjoying the beautiful Fall weather. The Upper East Side, which is where I used to live and where I always stay, is the place to go if you want to see beautiful people and beautiful dogs of all breeds. Check out Lindaraxa's Garden for some posts and many pictures of my visit.

Here are the dogs of Madison Avenue, the best behaved dogs in the world besides those in Paris, perhaps.

The customers at Yura

Hey Mom, don't forget my latte!

She had to take me out in my curlers...

What you looking at, fat boy?

Please, please unleash me...please

I didn't know we were supposed to dress up...

New customer at Yura

Now, now what do I see coming...


Labradoodles are the "in" dogs these tan

...and black

So how many subscribers do you have? (he has his own blog)

Let's head to the park and sit on a bench

I used to be the "it" dog until the dumb labradoodles...yuck!

Finally, on the last day...a Westie!

Is she friend or foe?

Oh dear, here comes the competition

This is degrading...

What, you didn't like my DNA?

Let's get on with it folks, it's getting late!

Who cares about Madison Avenue? Rather live here at the lake!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Peanut Butter Crisscrosses

Everybody seems to be baking Peanut Butter Crisscrosses these days.  When I got home from New York there was a box full of them that my pregnant neighbor had made (we should have guesses then!).  This week a group called Tuesdays with Dorie is making them.  You know Dorie, don't you? That's Dorie Greenspan the famous baker.  So I thought I would share them with you, in case you get the peanut butter crazies as well!


•2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

•1 tsp. baking soda

•½ tsp. baking powder

•¼ tsp. salt

•Pinch of grated nutmeg (I used grounded nutmeg)

•1 cup / 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

•1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, I used smooth)

•1 cup packed light brown sugar

•¾ cup sugar

•2 large eggs

•1 ½ cups chopped salted peanuts (I didn't chop them, it so much better when it's crunchy!)

•About ½ cup sugar, for rolling


Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.
Working with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for a minute or two, until smooth and creamy. Add the peanut butter and beat for another minute. Add the sugars and beat for 3 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl and, on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they just disappear. Mix in the chopped peanuts. You’ll have a soft, pliable (mushable, actually) dough.

Pour the ½ cup of sugar into a small bowl. Working with a level tablespoonful of dough for each cookie, roll the dough between your palms into balls and drop the balls, a couple at a time, into the sugar. Roll the balls around in the sugar to coat them, then place on the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between them. Dip the tines of a fork in sugar and press the tines against each ball first in one direction and then in a perpendicular direction – you should have a flattened round of dough with crisscross indentations.

Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. When done, the cookies will be lightly colored and still a little soft. Let the cookies sit on the sheets for a minute before transferring them to cooling racks with a wide metal spatula. Cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the remaining dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches.


The cookies will keep for at least 5 days in the cookie jar. Wrapped airtight, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Playing Around:

For a chocolate version, reduce the flour to 2 cups and sift 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder into the dry ingredients. Use 1 cup chopped salted peanuts and add 1/3 cup finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate chips, preferably minis) along with the nuts.

Preparation: 10 minutes

Baking: 12 minutes per batch

Portions: 60 cookies

From Dorie Greenspan's Baking from my Home to Yours

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Ideas

Nobody does Halloween better than Martha Stewart, although I used to think I came in a close second!  Last year was too busy with the move and the floods that hit our area earlier in the Fall, but this year I think I will have a bonfire out back and invite all the neighbors.  So what are your plans???

Window covers

Coffin boxes for candy

Cupcake wrappers

Treat bags

Treat bags

Bottle labels

For more Halloween ideas from Martha Stewart go {here}

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Back in A Bit!

Columbus Day on the Lake

I am in New York City and will be back before you know it.  Some fun posts are in the works!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Best Of Show Blue Ribbon Cornbread

Sadly, this was the last week of our local farmer's market and I rushed over to buy as many green and red pepper jellies as I could find to enjoy in the winter and give away as gifts to my northern friends.  There was a guy there who mills his own corn meal and I decided to pick up a bag.  What a difference.  This is the recipe I used to test it out.

Cathy Justice is the wife of the Greenbrier Hotel's new owner.  This is her award winning recipe for cornbread.


1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/16 teaspoon salt (I used 1/2 tsp.)

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg, slightly beaten

3/4 cup canola oil


Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Prepare an 8”-x-8” oiled pan. (I used a nonstick pan.)

Mix all dry ingredients. (I whisked the ingredients together.)

Add liquids. (I whisked all the liquid ingredients together until they were creamy smooth and then I poured them over the dry ingredients.)

Stir softly to mix.

Bake for 30 minutes. (The cornbread will rise and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread should come out clean.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ahimsa House - Fun Festival And Pet Parade

I can't think of a more worthwhile organization than this one...

•Ahimsa House, meaning "nonviolence" in Sanskrit, was founded in 2004 by Emily Christie after she lost a pet to domestic violence. Ahimsa House became Georgia's first and only organization dedicated to helping the human and animal victims of domestic violence reach safety together.

•Originally, Ahimsa House maintained a central shelter for animals at a secret location in metro Atlanta. In Fall 2006, we recognized the need to change our program model in an effort to operate more cost-effectively and to better serve victims statewide (see How We Help, below). In March 2007, Ahimsa House launched the Emergency Animal Safehouse Services program, which houses animals via a network of foster homes and boarding facilities across the state.

•Between March 2007 and March 2010, Ahimsa House received 803 crisis calls and provided 6,692 nights of safe, confidential shelter for pets in need. In 2009, we were able to reunite 89% of our clients with their pets once everyone was safe.

•Ahimsa House holds an animal shelter license from the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

•We are a member agency of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence; the Gwinnett, Dekalb, and Fulton County Family Violence Task Forces; and Georgia Legal Professionals for Animals.

•Ahimsa House was named "Rescue Organization of the Year" by Pedigree in 2005.
For more information on Ahimsa House go to their website

Fun Festival and Pet Parade

Presented by UPS

Hosted by Holly Firfer

Chastain Park (Blue Lot)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fun, Food and Entertainment for the Whole Family!

Halloween Costumes Encouraged - for People AND Pets!


Registration begins at 9:00am


•One Mile Pet Parade

•Silent Auction (click here to see a partial list of items)

•Microchipping & Nail Clipping by a Vet

•Pet Contests with Celebrity Judges (click here to learn more)

•Halloween Costume Contests for People and Pets

•Vendor Booths (click here to see current list of vendors)

•Live Entertainment by indie rock band What The...?

•Food by Local Restaurants and Beer by Sweetwater Brewery


•... and Much More!

Participate with or without your dog! For more info go here

The are also having a bake sale and you can donate homebaked goods by contacting  Melissa Dorrell at or Alicia Farrington at to receive additonal information
I am coming back from my trip the previous Wednesday but will do my utmost to contribute some homemade goodes from My Kitchen By The Lake and Lindaraxa's Garden

Please do try to help in some way, any way! Donate, attend, bake or volunteer!!!

Ahimsa House - P.O. Box 8181 - Atlanta, GA 31106 -
Admin Line: (404) 496-4038 - 24-Hour Crisis Line: (404) 452-6248 - Fax: (404) 671-8599

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Things To Do In The Fall in North Georgia

If you are looking for things to do on the weekend, here a a few of the top festivals in North Georgia.  Everything from apples, to "gold rush" , Oktoberfest and antebellum houses decorated for Christmas.  There's something to do every weekend until December.  So pack up the wife and the kids and head north!

There are also plenty of pumpkin farms around but, as you know, our favorite is the Kinsey Family Farm in Gainesville, Georgia where we pick up our pumpkins and get our Christmas tree.

foto Lindaraxa

Friday, October 8, 2010

Jam Lid Labels

I am taking some homemade jams and chutney to friends in New York next week and have been pondering what to do with the ugly jam jars.  Here's a great idea from Martha Stewart, which is both economical and very presentable. 

There is still time to do some canning.  Remember all those teachers, neighbors and husband's assistants you are going to want to send gifts to.   There is nothing like a homemade gift, especially if it's food!

Here's a recipe for fig jam.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

The best breakfast after a hangover...or...the best late snack to avoid a hangover!

Spahetti alla carbonara is one of those quintessential Roman dishes.  If you have a well stocked pantry with pancetta or bacon in the freezer you can pull this quick meal in a jiffy.  Use Pecorino Romano in this recipe. It is saltier and more robust than Parmaggiano Reggiano. Or at least use half and half.

Printable Recipe


4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 oz (115 gr) pancetta, diced (or substitute with un-smoked bacon)

2 eggs


1 lb (450 gr) spaghetti

2 oz (60 gr) pecorino romano cheese, freshly grated


In a large stockpot, bring the water for the pasta to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, pour the olive oil in a frying pan, and add the bacon. Fry until the bacon is light brown, but still soft. In a pasta bowl, beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. When the water comes to a boil, add salt and cook the pasta following manufacturer’s instructions, testing for readiness from time to time, until al dente (firm but not too soft or overcooked). Drain the pasta and drop it immediately into the bowl over the beaten eggs. Mix vigorously. The heat of the boiling pasta will cook the eggs, making them resemble a light cream. Add the bacon with its frying fat, the grated cheese, and abundant black pepper. Toss thoroughly. Serve at once.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Orange Spice Pumpkin Bread

 For years, Williams Sonoma carried a pumpkin bread mix that I used to make in the Fall to enjoy with my tea.  They have replaced it with a pecan pumpkin bread and it's just not the same.  I went into their recipe file and found this recipe which has a glace that I have omitted.  The addition of the orange zest to the mix is plenty and the bread needs nothing more than a slight dusting of powdered sugar to finish it off.


For the bread:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp. allspice

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

10 Tbs. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp. finely chopped orange zest

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup pumpkin puree

Powdered sugar (optional)


Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease a pumpkin loaf pan.

To make the bread, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat together the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and orange zest on medium speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and pumpkin puree and beat until incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture in two additions just until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for until you unmold.  You can serve plain or dust with powdered sugar.

Serves 10.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.


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