Vodka Zinger Balls

December 10, 2012
Vodka spiked center

Vodka spiked center

2 cups (measured with whole cookies) vanilla wafers
1 1/2 cup sweetened flake coconut dyed red (reserve 1/2 cup for toasting and rolling)
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup raspberry vodka
1 tablespoons plus 1 1/4 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon of seedless raspberry jam
4 oz white chocolate or almond bark for dipping
toasted coconut

Before you go to bed, prepare the mixture to be chilled in the refrigerator over night. Use a food processor (or crush with a rolling pin in a ziploc bag) to chop or crush vanilla wafers into consistent fine crumbles.

Empty into a large mixing bowl. To proceed like the photograph, dye coconut by combining 2 tsp of water with four drops of red food coloring in a ziploc bag and shake until evenly colored red. Next add 1 cup of the dyed coconut and pulse until chopped into bits (or chop with a knife.) Then add the red chopped coconut to the mixing bowl containing crushed wafers. Sift 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar into bowl with wafers and coconut. If you don’t have a sifter shake it through a mesh strainer to get it broken down into a dusting. Mix all ingredients and set aside.

In a smaller mixing bowl mix 1/4 cup raspberry vodka, corn syrup and raspberry jam. Pour this vodka mixture into the larger bowl with the wafer mixture and mix thoroughly. It will look like a lump of dry cookie dough. Allow it to chill in the refrigerator over night or for a few hours. Once it is firm, use a small cookie scooper to create symmetrical balls and roll into balls and place on waxed paper. Allow them to chill again in the refrigerator. You may roll them in sifted powdered sugar or dip them into white chocolate or almond bark. This photograph shows Zinger Balls dipped in white chocolate and then rolled in two-tone red dyed and plain white coconut.

To continue like the photograph, set the oven to 350 degrees and toast remaining 1/2 cup red coconut for about 7 minutes. Careful to watch coconut and use a fork to mix it as needed to prevent burning. I added a handful of plain white coconut half way through toasting to get color variation, but please note it will toast faster because it is not wet like the red coconut. Set the coconut aside to cool and begin melting white chocolate in a double boiler or use a wide bowl on top of a pasta pot with about 3 inches of simmering water.

Once the white chocolate is melted, roll the balls in the white chocolate, set onto waxed paper and sprinkle and press coconut into each vodka ball. Use small foil cupcake liners for a nice presentation. However, if you turn them inside out then the silver shows better.

chop into fine crumbs

chop into fine crumbs

add wafer crumbs to bowlsift sugar into bowladd chopped coconut to waferscoconut dyed in bag redtake chilled dough and scooptoast coconutmelt white chocolat for outer coatingplated zingers

Vodka spiked center

Zebra Cheesecake

August 23, 2012

Zebra Cheesecake

One slice can force your brain to manufacture more dopamine than love

Dessert on the wild side

I love the visual combination of decadent white and black chocolate in this recipe and the obscenely delicious layer of chocolate on top of the chocolate crust.  It is a labor intensive recipe, but worth the work.  I suggest you begin this recipe at the beginning of the day or better yet, make it a day ahead.

1 ½ C Chocolate Oreo Cookies

3 T butter, melted

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate pieces

4 (8oz)  packages of cream cheese, softened

1 ¼ c sugar

3 T cornstarch

¼ tsp salt

5 large eggs

8 oz sour cream

2 tsp Watkins vanilla extract

1 ½ C heavy cream

8 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate squares

8 oz white chocolate baking squares

Raspberries for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9X3 spring form pan.  Place Oreos in a food processor and pulse until crumbs are fine.  In a bowl, mix crushed Oreos with 3 T of butter.  Press crumbs firmly onto bottom of pan.  Bake the crust for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate pieces. Let stand until chocolate pieces soften, then spread chocolate evenly over the crust.  Place in refrigerator to chill until you finish mixing the filling.
  2. In a large bowl, use mixer on medium speed to beat cream cheese until light and fluffy.  In a small bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Gradually mix into cream cheese until well blended.  With mixer on low speed, gradually beat eggs in one at a time, sour cream vanilla and 1 C heavy cream (reserve ½ C for glaze later) until blended and smooth.
  3. Divide batter evenly into 2 (4-8 cup) measuring cups with pouring spout.  In small saucepan over low heat, melt 8 oz squares of semi-sweet chocolate.  In another small saucepan melt 8 oz of white chocolate.   When melted smooth, mix white chocolate into one bowl of filling and mix the semi-sweet  chocolate into the other bowl.  Make sure the filling is evenly divided or the batter will not pour into properly.
  4. The Zebra stripe design is achieved by alternating pouring the filling into spring form pan.  (This is difficult so don’t panic.  Do the best you can because it will look dynamite even if the pattern is a little less even than you desire.) Pour half of the dark batter into the pan.  Then pour white batter from 2 feet above pan directly into the center of the dark batter (the height will force the center of the cake to be pushed to the edge of the pan.   Alternate pouring white and dark batter about 3 times decreasing the amounts of batter each time and ending with white batter.  The batter should resemble concentric circles.
  5. Bake cheesecake 30 minutes.  Turn oven to 225 degrees and bake 1 hour and 45 minutes longer or until center is set.  Turn off oven; let cheesecake remain in the oven 1 hour.  Remove cheesecake from oven.  Run thin bladed spatula or knife around edge of cheesecake to loosen side of pan.  Cool cake in pan on wire rack.  Refrigerate at least 6 hours or until well chilled.
  6. Optional glaze:  About an hour before serving prepare the glaze.   In a quart saucepan over medium heat, heat remaining ½ C heavy cream until small bubbles form around edge of pan.  Remove saucepan from heat.  Stir in remaining 4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate until melted and smooth.  Cool glaze about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, carefully remove cake from pan to cake plate; with spatuala, spread glaze over top and side.  Refrigerate 30 to 45 minutes until glaze is set.  If you like, garnish with whipped cream and raspberries.

chocolate Oreo Cookies crushed

Add butter

Press firmly into spring form pan

Allow chocolate pieces to melt on hot baked crust and then spread evenly

pour melted chocolate into seperated filling bowls

Begin alternating pour of filling. My chocolate was a bit too thick because I had an unequal amount of batter divided. It will still work, but won’t pour as well. My dark filling stayed in the center when it should have pooled out more when white batter was poured onto center. Just a small mistake can change the look, but doesn’t ruin by any means.

melt white chocolate in its own sauce pan
melt chocolate in seperate pans
Add ingredients one at a time
Beat cream cheese with mixer until fluffy

Leopard Martini Recipe

August 16, 2012

Leopard Martini Recipe

Mrs.Robinson's drink

For ladies some where between the range of kitten and cougar.

  • citrus vodka
  • mango nectar
  • mango rum
  • rocky candy syrup
  • chocolate shell syrup

Recipe for one cocktail:

1 1/2 oz citrus vodka

1 1/2 oz mango nectar

3/4 oz mango rum

1/2 oz rock candy syrup or simple syrup

chocolate shell syrup for garnish

1. Thoroughly chill a martini glass in the freezer.  Begin testing the shell chocolate syrup to make sure it is not going to dump into the glass rapidly.  I recommend that you NOT pour from the bottle.  Instead, use a tablespoon and fill with shell syrup for better controlled application.  Now begin applying chocolate shell syrup randomly to the inside of the chilled glass.  You may have to move the glass in different directions to achieve the irregular spots of a leopard. Return the glass to the freezer to keep it cold.

2. This should be done a day in advance of your party so the spots can carefully be applied.  My shell syrup went rogue and I had to apply the Smuckers brand shell syrup slowly and chill in between each section’s application so it didn’t just run all over the inside of the glass.

3. Fill cocktail shaker with ice and combine the vodka, rum mango nectar and candy syrup.

4. Shake well until the shaker is too cold to hold.

5. Strain the contents into the prepared glass with spots.  Ta-Da!

This drink is a fun and edgy interpretation of a martini with its deep amber glow and dark brown spots.  It would be fun to serve at bunko, book club or a Mrs. Robinson themed party for adults some where in the range between kitten and cougar.

Snickers Beast Cake Recipe

February 16, 2012
Three layers of chocolately goodness

Good for you

I wanted to bake a Snickers inspired cake for my nephews that had big visual impact and lots of flavor. This Snickers Cake referred to around my house as the “Cake Beast” is the result of those efforts. WARNING: This cake is extremely rich and decadent. It will wreck your diet and call out to you from different rooms of the house when you least expect it. Proceed with extreme caution.

Here are the beastly supplies: Two boxes of milk chocolate cake mix, one can of fudge frosting, one can of cream cheese frosting, three cups milk chocolate chips, one tablespoon of almond butter, one bag of caramel, 2 cups of chopped roasted peanuts This is the best the sugar industry has to offer!


oh, so so much

more is more


1. Following instructions on cake mix and divide batter into three nine-inch pans. Bake in 350 degree F oven. (will leave in for ten minutes before adding caramel)


2. In a heavy sauce pan melt caramel with 1/2 cup of butter and 1/3 cup of whole milk until smooth.





3. Pull soft-baked cakes out after ten minutes and add 1 cup of milk chocolate chips and less than a third of the caramel mixture to each cake reserving about a 1/3 cup of caramel for the top of the cake. Add cakes back to oven and continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes or until done.

inside the beast

matche taste with the visual expectations by baking caramel and chocolate in cake


4. Mix cream cheese frosting with one tablespoon of almond butter to mimmick taste of nougat  5. Chop roasted peanuts.  6. Remove cakes and allow to cool.  7. Assemble cakes and frost between layers with nougat leaving top nougat layer of nougat thicker and visible.

cream cheese frosting base

add almond butter to cream cheese frosting

8. Frost entire cake with fudge frosting and then pour remaining caramel over the top. (may need to reheat)  9. Add chopped peanuts to the top of the cake.

Creative gift w…

December 14, 2011

Creative gift wrapping for baking is one of my personal passions.  If you spend time baking with love, then the end product should match that effort.  Today I met the ultimate challenge—wrapping a tray of cookies.

I used a disposable red tray and carefully used Press N Seal to cover cookies.  Then I took a yard of tulle set the tray in the middle of the tulle, pulled the tulle up around the tray and hobo tied it at the top with ribbon.  Next, I added  a poinsettia harvested from a clearance shelf of silk flowers and secured within the bow knot.  Finally I added another stream of ribbon that I let free flow over the sides and presto a wonderfully festive tray of home baked and home wrapped cookies!

Supplies:  Wire cutter (stolen from hubby’s garage), silk flowers, ribbon, one yard of tulle, disposable tray, PressNSeal wrap


Last Taste of Summer: Grilled Peaches with Frozen Vanilla Yogurt and Toasted Coconut

September 24, 2011

Last Taste of SummerGrilled Peaches with Frozen Vanilla Yogurt and Toasted Coconut

This is the easiest recipe and so yummy that it is hard for me to resist having it one last time before the fall leaves are gone and the grill is shut down for the winter.  The best part of this recipe is that it only takes ten minutes on the grill and about 7 minutes of prep time–not bad for dessert.

First prepare fresh peaches by using vegetable peeler to remove peach skin.  Cut the peaches down the center and around pit, then twist the sides to release the halves and remove pit–very similar to the way you prepare avacodos.

use vegetable peeler to easily remove skins

Place peach halves into a foil tent and sprinkle with brown sugar, dot with butter and add a dash of salt.  Seal the tent so no juices escape.

Use a bowl under the foil to shape tent

Toast coconut on stove top at medium heat until slightly brown.  (This can be toasted in the oven, but I always forget it’s in there and I am less likely to burn it on the stove top where I can eyeball it while doing other things.)

Drunken Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

March 22, 2011

Okay, now that the St.Patrick’s Day festivities are over, it’s time to scoop up on the Mega Sale Corned Beef Brisket in the supermarkets.  Corned Beef and Cabbage is one of my favorite meals.  To me, the world comes down to two kinds of people; there are those who love cabbage and those who wish they did. This recipe is a shout out to those who love firm sour cabbage draped over the salty sensuous rush of corned beef … pssst:  The secret ingredients are one stick of butter and one bottle of dark beer.
Drunken Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe:
1 white onion sliced
4 stalks of celery intact
1 (3-5lb) Corned Beef Brisket
2 Bottles of Sam Adams Lager or Dark Beer (one for you and one for the roast:)
8 small red potatoes
1 small bag of petite carrots
1 medium head of cabbage
1 stick of butter

Preheat Oven to 450 degrees Farenheit. Yep. That’s hot.
Begin with a dutch oven, place sliced onions and celery at bottom and spread out so corned beef brisket can sit on top of veggies fat side up.

bed of veggies for brisket

Empty seasoning packets and one bottle of dark beer into the dutch oven. Now, we are going to pressure cook this brisket. Place tin foil over roast and concave it down not touching beer or veggies, but close. Seal it around and place dutch oven lid on top. On my dutch oven it takes two sheets to cover the width.

Brisket fat side up

Allow the meat to cook at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes depending on the size. Then lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees Farenheit for a total of 3 hours. In the last hour of cooking add potatoes and carrots with one stick of butter. Then in the last 30 minutes add salted and peppered cut up cabbage to top of brisket and veggies. (Cabbage will be crisp. If you desire softer cabbage add with other veggies at the final hour mark.)

I like to serve this with corn muffins.  The juices are rich with beer and butter.  The one thing I add to my corned beef is a horseradish sauce.  Don’t ask me exact measurements, but this is how I whip it up…

Sour Cream–about 1 cup—2-3 tsp of horseradish root—5 dashes of worsteshire suace, salt, pepper, a tsp of dijon mustard with a final dash of lemon juice.  I stir this up and refrigerate until dinner.  Sorry I forgot to take the money shot, but it smelled so good I was pleasantly distracted and very satisfied.  ‘Tis a good day with Drunken Corned Beef and Cabbage.

Peppermint Twist Cupcakes; My New Favorite

November 30, 2010
Man Bait

Unique Christmas Treats

I discovered a delicious alternative to the usual holiday fare of fruit cake, cookies and almond dipped everything: Peppermint Twist Cupcakes.  The secret ingredient is Andes Creme De Menthe Baking Chips that are folded into fudge batter, which create cool pockets of tastiness within the chocolate cake.  The peppermint frosting on these cupcakes is so rich and minty, that husbands will do anything, but laundry to get these cupcakes.  Have fun and enjoy, but be warned:  You can’t eat just one….or two.

Cake Recipe
Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix; Follow directions then add:
Add 1 1/2 teaspoon Peppermint Extract
Fold in 1 Cup of Andes Baking Chips into batter
Frosting Recipe
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
8oz cream cheese (1 brick)
1 teaspoon Peppermint Extract
3 Cups of Powdered Sugar
Use hand mixer to cream butter and cream cheese.  Add peppermint.  Slowly add powdered sugar until all is incorporated.  Scoop into ziplock bag and cut tip for easy frosting swirls.  Top with red sugar or crushed candy canes.

CSI: Cooking Scene Investigation: How To Recreate Lost Family Recipes

April 6, 2010

My sister is pregnant and oh, so particular about what she eats.  Use celery salt, and her gag reflex gets jittery.  Deviate from the gumbo recipe a fraction, and well, it’s not you, it’s her taste buds. ( Never mind the 30 minutes you spent nursing the roux.)  But nail the cranberry white chocolate scone recipe, and it’s like watching someone win the Publisher Clearing House Sweepstakes.  It’s just that much fun to watch her eat something she enjoys.  I guess that’s why I bother to continue to endure the grueling task of feeding her finicky cravings—that and I love her. 

Cindy is also a fan of crime dramas, True Television and Nancy Grace.  She and my mother watch an unhealthy diet of these shows.  Much to my amusement they have selected which psychic detective they would use in the tragic chance a family member or they themselves disappeared.  To which I answered, “How many psychic detectives are there?”  Apparently, plenty and I laughed to further discover that my mother was “uneasy about life insurance policies” for her daughters.

This conversation about sleuthing for missing persons came to mind when my sister gave me the news on Friday that my contribution to Sunday dinner would be Grandma Sewell’s Banana Pudding.  “Got that psychic detective handy because I have never made this recipe, nor has anyone written it down.”  It was an impossible assignment—not one a non-pregnant Cindy would have handed out so casually, but I took it like a woman and embraced the challenge.

Now, my grandmother is still alive at 87 years old.  She is practically deaf, blind in one eye, but very much with it.  However, Grandma Sewell cooks without measurements and cannot verbalize the tricks to getting biscuits to rise or why her meringue leaps up at the sky.  She’s been making these recipes for seventy years and its part of her. Asking would make her feel bad because she wouldn’t know how to explain something so simple and putting her into that position would be impolite and downright un-southern.

Once I agreed to the monumental task, I decided to take the approach of a CSI:  Cooking Scene Investigation detective.  First order of business was to interview the witnesses.  I called the usual suspects, both of my sisters  and a cousin to see what they remembered about the taste of the dish. 

Next, I turned to my mother for historical perspective and a few hard facts.  I ran a few recipes by her.  “No” my mother said, “Grandma serves her pudding warm, not cold.”   Yes… I remembered that, it was hot but isn’t pudding thick BECAUSE it goes into the refrigerator?  Hot/cold…what? How could it be confusing to replicate a dish I had eaten my whole life?  This crucial reminder got at the heart of the mystery and narrowed the search for the final recipe.  I eliminated all cold preparation recipes from the pool. 

Naturally, I decided to turn to another Southern cook, Paula Dean, but her recipe called for cold storage and whipped topping.   Next, I scoured the reference for cooking, my beat up stained copy of the “Joy of Cooking.” This recipe offered optional whipped topping or meringue, but it was thickened with cornstarch. 

Grandma did not come from cornstarch stock. We were buttermilk biscuit, sausage-gravy-eating-flour people.  That I knew for sure.  Out of desperation, I looked at the vanilla wafer box recipe and cringed when I saw instant pudding—maybe in polite company that would fly, but my pregnant sister wouldn’t stand for it. 

Finally, I went online and started to Google my way through the various recipes eliminating cold recipes, all cornstarch and anything else that felt European or called for a Yankee pudding pot.  At last, my sleuthing paid off and I stumbled upon a respectable Banana Pudding Recipe.  I tackled the recipe and it was a little more difficult than I anticipated, but the stakes were high and Sunday dinner was but hours away—which left little room for error.

 I hesitated to turn the burner too high for fear of scorching the milk, but was forced to go to medium to get it to boil and thicken.  Then the meringue got a little tempermental because it was a humid day—but adding more sugar made it peak and eventually lick at the ceiling.  Shew.  It looked right, but I forgot to add wafers to the top for garnish…oops.  I packaged the pudding into my carrier and nervously took it to my sister’s house.

Was this indeed the right recipe?  Did it explain the unexplainable?  Did it provide a logical step-by-step account of my grandmother’s actions?  Did it hold up in Cindy’s court of temperamental tastes?  Yes, the recipe was a hit.  Thanks to my CSI:  cooking scene investigation tactics, it is now safely returned to the family and it didn’t take a psychic to do it.

Tips for recreating a lost recipe:

  1.  Ask other people what they remember about the look and taste of the dish—even better did they ever see the recipe being made?  Write notes and save for search.
  2. Can you identify an era, region or ethnic origin of the dish?
  3. Utilize this information to begin searching cookbooks and online. 
  4. Search online by using ingredients as key words:  “banana pudding ‘meringue’ recipe” or “old-fashioned banana pudding” or regionally “southern banana pudding recipe.”  I often search for recipes by ingredients and it helps narrow the options quickly.
  5. Try to ‘cook’ with the same utensils.  My grandmother never owned a double boiler or a non-stick pan.  She used a wooden spoon and a round deep cookware dish she got at a tag sale.
  6. Keep trying recipes until you get it right and then write down and distribute to rest of family.


Warm Merignue Topped Banana Pudding


Grandma Sewell’s Southern Banana Pudding Recipe


  • 2 cups vanilla wafers
  • 3 bananas, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup white sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line the bottom and sides of a 1.5 quart baking dish with a layer of alternating vanilla wafers and banana slices.
  3. To Make Pudding: In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with flour. Mix well, then stir in half the milk. Beat egg yolks and whisk into sugar mixture. Add remaining milk and butter or margarine.
  4. Place mixture over low heat and cook until thickened, stirring frequently(may have to bump up the heat, but keep stirring and watch it like a hawk.) Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Pour half of pudding over vanilla wafer and banana layer while still hot.
  5. Make another layer of alternating vanilla wafers and banana slices on top of pudding layer. Pour remaining pudding over second wafer and banana layer.
  6. To Make Meringue: Allow eggs to come to room temperature (30 min.)In a large glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Make sure eggs are foamy before adding sugar.  Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, continuing to beat until whites are stiff. If they don’t stiffen continue adding sugar—up to 1/4 cup per egg white.  Spread meringue over last layer, making sure to completely cover pudding layer.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, just until meringue is browned.


March 29, 2010

Oh, but of course ambience is a French word.  It makes sense that the culture who taught us how to eat properly added a word to their lexicon to describe the intangible feeling a place gives you —especially while dining. 

I pawed at that word “ambience” this morning when my husband quietly rose to brew coffee and materialized with a tray of French toast, juice, coffee and a splash of peanut butter on the plate.  There we sat in the bed, passing the newspaper back and forth, approving of this and hating that with the dog inches from my plate– full puppy eyes pressed into her paws.

The cool spring unfolded outside and I glanced out the window that cradles the bed trying to catch a glimpse of Mr. Fox who took up residence this winter under our deck.  Yesterday he yawned and curled into a circle in the sun out in the yard and I couldn’t help but think of him under the deck enjoying our morning.  The ambience of breakfast in bed, our smug fox guest, the perfect company of a doting husband and a begging dog made me glad. 

Fox den view from the dog house

sunbathing fox