Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

At the beginning of the year, Rice Kernel and 8 of his kindergarten classmates formed a basketball team in a well-run local kids basketball league. Some of his buddies have a slight understanding of game rules and at least minimal command of the ball, but my dear son has neither. He is as rookie as a rookie gets. And if you think his teammates know what’s going on, well, let’s say they are nothing compared to the competition. Case in point, one teammate, whose Dad played collegiate ball no less, said to her mom after the third game, “I had no idea you could steal the ball away from another team.” And the scores, you ask? I think we lost 8 to 3 last week. A great improvement from 14 to 2 the week before…

Thankfully, Rice Kernel is having tons of fun. And the parents are having even more fun watching these 5- and 6-year olds. So much so, we organized a team practice to get “some” drills and skills in. With cantaloupe “balls” and mini bagel “hoops” on the menu, we were craving something sweet for our early morning breakfast. Lemon poppyseed was unanimous. Modified from a Joy the Baker recipe, these are made with thinned Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for a healthy protein boost. You know, after all that running on the court….


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Our First Bakeoff

It’s been a few months since I’ve popped my head in.  We’ve done a lot of cooking, as usual, but a lot less baking. Turns out, a family must eat meals, but not necessary sweets. Hah! Just kidding.  Must eat meals? Yes.  Must eat sweets? Also, yes.  But for me and FHE that comes in the form of cookies (always of the oatmeal pudding variety these last several months).  And for my ever-growing children? That comes in the form of still-uneaten Halloween chocolates and various forms of dried, dehydrated fruit.

Our meals have mostly consisted of the things we enjoy most: various cruciferous greens sauteed in olive oil, salt and pepper served alongside simply prepared proteins (salmon and white fish and chicken are the favorites), which, to my disgust (sorry) often get dipped into Rice Kernel’s favorite condiment: ketchup.  Nothing too remarkable to post about, but remarkable enough to keep our family’s tastebuds happy and satiated.  Sadly, my children haven’t expressed enough interest (or had enough time, in the case of my older one) to cook with me of late.

A few months ago, though, Rice Kernel’s school had their first-ever bakeoff. I took it as a sign to rope him into the kitchen for some cooking nostalgia, and to start in on the lesson of “trying your best.”  What can I say, as a mother these topics are never far from my mind.

Bakeoffs always intrigue me: I read about them in print and I salivate over them when televised.  But I rarely have the desire to concoct something new. For one, it takes too much planning!  After I convinced Rice Kernel to join me and submit a recipe, we scratched our heads for days.  He was stuck on cookie dough. And then brownies.  Somehow we settled on cakepops with cookie dough in the center, brownie on the outside, and covered with chocolate.  They were a bit of a mess to make. And quite a production. But fun, nonetheless. Rice Kernel formed all the cookie dough balls and I had the messy job of wrapping 2 by 2 inch chunks of brownie around the balls. In the end, we only lasted about 15 balls – more than enough for the judges, thankfully.

The result was deliciously sweet. Chocolatey smooth and creamy, with speckles of crunchy mini chocolate chips. Did I mention they were sweet? 

We got a ribbon. Well, everyone did. And Rice Kernel was very proud of himself.  Now if only I can find that ribbon……

bakeoff bakeoff2

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My favorite oatmeal cookies (pudding-based), with crunchy edges and chewy interiors, punched up “healthful” additions, if you will!

Dark Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Pudding Cookies



  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package instant pudding mix (vanilla)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional — I like lots of vanilla)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (5.7 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 cups oats, quick or old fashioned (I used old fashioned)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add both sugars and beat until creamy. Beat in the pudding and vanilla (if using), then add the eggs and beat just until blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into the butter mixture until blended. Stir in the oats.
  4. Using a tablespoon, scoop up dough and roll into balls. Arrange the balls about 2 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Press tops down slightly.
  5. Bake one sheet at a time on center rack for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are nicely browned. Remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.

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I recall very few dessert recipes from my Mother’s arsenal.  She wasn’t much of a baker (Betty Crocker made frequent appearances) nor did she have a sweet tooth.  But this is one she prepared – and one that I am very fond of.  As a child, summers on Long Island were hot and humid.  I delighted in this soupy, slurpy, chilled dessert often.  And why not? The tapioca pearls glimmer in a rich coconut milk broth, studded with small pieces of sweet fruit.  It is satisfying and wholesome, yet surprisingly light.
Since we are headed into Fall, I should note that this dessert is just as a delicious hot or warm.  And if honeydew isn’t available, mango and pears are a fragrant substitute.
Tapioca Pearls with Honeydew and Coconut Milk Broth

  • 1/2 cup (75 g) small dried tapioca pearls
  • 4 cup (1000 ml) water


  • 1 3/4 cup (400 ml) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) water or nondairy milk ( I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) regular sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 2 cups honeydew melon, peeled, deseeded and diced


  1. Bring water to a boil.  Carefully place tapioca in boiling water and stir for 1 minute.  Let cook for 6 minutes, covered, at full boil.  After 6 minutes, turn off the heat and leave the tapioca covered on the stove for 20 minutes.
  2. Drain tapioca in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water.
  3. To make the “soup”, combine the coconut milk with 1/2 cup (125 ml) of water or nondairy milk in a large saucepan. Stir in the salt and the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
  4. As soon as the liquid boils, turn off the heat and stir in the drained tapioca pearls.  Remove from heat.
  5. You may serve the dessert warm or chilled.  If chilled, refrigerate the soup base and fold in fruit when ready to serve.

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Lemon poppyseed is one of my favorite combinations in cake, scone, and muffin forms.  After rediscovering my affection for biscotti recently, I decided to infuse lemon and poppyseed into the traditional Italian cookie. 

Lemon adds a refreshing zing and the addition of poppy seeds do not go unnoticed.  The icing on the cake is literally the icing – a white chocolate lemon icing spiked with flecks of lemon zest.

I based my recipe loosely on this one, with the addition of 2 tbsp of poppy seeds (I like more!) and an additional tbsp of lemon zest in the white chocolate coating.


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