Parmesan, Rosemary & Pecan Cocktail Crackers

I brought these to a meeting recently and amidst platters of appetizers, so many people were talking about them and asking for the recipe that I thought you might enjoy it, too.

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Best Banana Bread a.k.a. Kona Banana Bread

I call this banana bread, which comes from Marion Cunningham, the best, because it truly is. Your bananas must be very ripe. I have a trick.  

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Passover Blueberry Cinnamon-Streusel Muffins

I didn't just test these once. Or even twice. Or even thrice. Sum it up to say that I had muffins as hard as hockey pucks, as dense as tennis balls and as palatable as styrofoam cups all over my kitchen before I hit Passover perfection. 

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Cornbread Stuffin' Muffins

Baking stuffing in muffin cups has many advantages. These  are universally popular, because it seems everyone likes cornbread. Here are several other advantages:

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Mini Coconut Popovers with Chutney


These new, lactose-free popovers can be baked large to serve in place of bread or in mini muffin tins for appetizers. They each have their own personality, just like our kids. 

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Whole Wheat Muffins with Yogurt & Banana

It's great to make your own muffins, because you know what's in them. In this case only wholesome ingredients and very few calories--160 each to be exact. 

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Pepper Jack & Chive Popovers

Plain popovers are amazing. They are also fun.  I still get excited every time I open the oven and see how a simple batter turns into glorious, golden rolls rising way over the top of the pan.  People often tell me they are afraid to make popovers because they mistakenly think anything that rises so high must fall, like a souffle. But I can assure you if you bake them until they are deep golden brown, they will barely deflate, if at all. Unlike a souffle, they are even better reheated until the edges are crispy. 

Plain popovers are great, but now that I've come up with  Pepper Jack & Chive Popovers, plain popovers seem, well, plain.  Once you know how to make a popover, which is simply a mixture of milk, eggs and flour, it makes good sense to add some flavorings.  Once you try flavoring popovers, you may never be satisfied with plain ones again. (For my tips and recipe on basic popovers, see Over the Top Popovers.) 


Adding cheese to popover batter results in rolls that are a little denser with a more bread-like texture.  This recipe makes 6 large popovers in a standard popover pan or 10 smaller ones in a mini popover pan, standard muffin tin, or 1/2 cup custard cups.

1½ cups whole, low-fat or nonfat milk
3 large eggs
1½ cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 to 2½ tablespoons minced chives
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, optional
6 tablespoons shredded pepper jack cheese

  1. Heat the milk in a saucepan or the microwave until hot, but not boiling. Mix the eggs in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, a blender or a food processor. While mixing, gradually pour in the hot milk. Add the flour, Parmesan cheese, chives, salt and pepper; mix on low until thoroughly incorporated, scraping down the sides as needed. Mix in melted butter, if using. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  2. Position oven rack in the middle or lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Place the popover pan, standard muffin tin or custard cups in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes then remove from oven and spray the sides and top edges with pan spray.
  3. Whisk the batter well and divide among the cups, filling almost to the top. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the pepper jack cheese over the top of each large popover, 1/2 tablespoon over the small ones. Bake until puffed and deeply browned, about 35 minutes for small popovers,  or about 45 minutes for large ones. The longer they bake, the less they will deflate.   If they are browning unevenly the last 10 minutes, rotate the pan.  
  4. Remove popovers from pan and serve. 

MAKE AHEAD:  For crisper popovers, remove them to a rimmed baking sheet where they can be held uncovered for up to 4 hours. Before serving, reheat at 450° for 3-5 minutes or until hot and crispy.

Makes 6 large or 10 small popovers. 

See also Lemon Almond Popovers.

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Lemon Almond Popovers

Plain popovers are great, but just think what happens when you add pepper Jack cheese and chives, or lemon zest and almonds. Here are 2 delicious popover recipes, along with a yummy Lemon Honey Butter, to add a plethora of personality to plain popovers.

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Orange Apricot Bread with Cranberries

In this very moist bread, the sweetness of oranges is beautifully balanced by the tartness of dried apricots and cranberries.  If you prefer to make smaller loaves, fill pans 2/3 full and begin checking for doneness after 25 minutes. I recommend using Turkish or Mediterranean apricots because they are plumper and sweeter than California apricots.

Serve with breakfast, brunch or salads, or spread with cream cheese for tea sandwiches.  

1/2 cup dried apricots (Turkish preferred)
1 cup sugar
Grated peel of one orange (about 2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or spray a 9 x 5x3-inch loaf pan. 

2.  Put apricots into a small microwave-safe bowl.  Cover with 3/4 cup water.  Microwave on high (100% power) for 2 minutes or until water is boiling and apricots are plump.  Drain and set aside.

3. Put sugar and orange peel into a food processor with the metal blade and process until orange peel is finely ground, about 60 seconds.  Add oil and egg and process until blended, about 30 seconds.  Add orange juice concentrate, water and drained apricots.  Process for 60 seconds or until apricots are very finely chopped.  Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Process for 30 seconds or until thoroughly incorporated.  Add cranberries and pulse 3 or 4 times to mix.  Scrape batter into prepared pan.  

4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is lightly golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.   Remove from oven and immediately invert onto a cooling rack.  Turn right side up and cool.   (Store wrapped bread at room temperature for 2 days, refrigerate for 7 days or freeze.)

MAKE AHEAD: Store bread wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days, refrigerate for one week or wrap in heavy foil and freeze. 

Makes 1 (9x5x3-inch) loaf.    

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Over the Top Popovers

Popovers Perfected.

After testing 25 popover batters, I have discovered the most failsafe recipe that I guarantee will be over the top every time.  The biggest surprise is that they can be made ahead of time and I think taste even better when reheated.   

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Pumpkin Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 can (15 oz.) unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 oz. cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces
4 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar combined with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, for topping 

1. . Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans.  Whisk flour, baking powder and soda in a small bowl. 

2. In a large saucepan, preferably nonstick, over medium heat, combine pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Cook, stirring, until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in granulated and brown sugars, oil and cream cheese until combined. Let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until cream cheese is thoroughly incorporated. 

3. Whisk together eggs and buttermilk. Add to pumpkin mixture and whisk to combine. Fold flour mixture into pumpkin mixture. Fold in walnuts. Scrape into prepared pans. Sprinkle sugar/cinnamon over top of each loaf.  

4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until skewer inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 20 minutes. Go around edges with a sharp knife and invert breads from pans. Turn right side up and let cook at least 1 1/2 hours. Serve warm or room temperature.

Makes 2 loaves; serves about 16. 

Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated. 

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