BHG Delish Dish

Stirring Up Ideas In The Kitchen

January 2013

Hi, it’s Beth again, assistant digital editor for Working in the food department of Better Homes and Gardens means that I get to attend taste panels. Taste panels are when our amazing test kitchen chefs prepare the recipes that will be featured in the magazine months in advance. Some of the best bites of food I’ve ever tasted happened at a BHG taste panel. In fact, the best brownie I’ve ever eaten, happened at a taste panel about three months ago. It was the Fudgy Cherry and Port Brownie developed by baking mastermind and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Dorie Greenspan. It has reached brownie folklore status around the office. Every food editor has been raving about this brownie for months.

So naturally, when this month’s magazine hit the newsstands, I knew I had to share the delicious brownie recipe with our blog readers. The best (and most surprising) part of making the brownie recipe was how easy it was. I had never cooked with port before,  but all I had to do was cook dried cherries in port on low heat until they plumped up. Then melt a little chocolate, mix it all together, bake it, and top with raspberries. Easy enough. I even found raspberries on sale at the grocery store which I considered to be a January miracle. Another note about this recipe: don’t skimp on the raspberries, people! The brownie gets its delicious fudgy-ness from loads of chocolate and chewy port-soaked cherries, and fresh raspberries complement the richness of the brownies by adding in a tart, lightness.

The hardest part about making these brownies? Not eating them all immediately. Seriously. They are so rich, but so addictive. I forced my friends (and one next-door neighbor I ran into in the hallway) to try the brownies just so I wouldn’t eat every single one in a day. Consider yourself warned. 

Some keys to success for this brownie:

  • Definitely follow the suggestion of covering your brownie pan in foil and buttering it. My brownies didn’t get dried out sides like they normally do, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I used a foil-wrapped pan.
  • You don’t need fancy port. I bought the cheapest port I could find and it still imparted amazing flavor.
  • Fresh raspberries are totally worth the splurge. Plus, they make the brownies look fancy.
  • Want even more tips? Watch the recipe in action here!

I’m excited to make these beautiful brownies again for Valentine’s Day in a couple of weeks. What are you making for Valentine’s Day? If you haven’t planned ahead yet, I highly suggest you give our Fudgy Cherry & Port Brownies a try.


I guess, I’m on a cake run with last week’s cake and now this one. And holy-cakeness, is this ever a cake. Let’s talk about this traditional Mexican dessert that’s known as a Tres Leches Cake. That simply translates to three milk cake.

Here’s what I love about this tres leche cake recipe, it’s simple in design, made even more simple by using white cake mix. Along with that, the recipe calls for lime zest. I can’t emphasize enough how that one small flavoring takes this cake from good to great. The lime provides a subtle but confident note against the richness of the milks, while the strawberry  gives the ensemble a fruity bite to pull everything together.

As usual I switched things up a bit by flipping the cake from one ten inch pan to two eight inch pans and then sliced it up for a seven layer cake. In doing so, I traded the “skewer and pour” method as the original recipe uses, for brushing the milk mixture on the top and bottom of each layer. From there I lined each layer with plastic wrap and froze it before finishing with the whip cream and strawberries. It’s not necessary to freeze the layers, but it certainly makes for easy handling. Other than that, I stayed true to the recipe.

Now that you know how easy this is to make, click here for the recipe and get baking.

In Northern California at The Forest Feast, I am getting oodles of beets in my weekly CSA box! But no matter where you happen to live, it’s likely that beets are available at your local farmers market during the winter. My favorite way to cook these vibrant little gems is to roast them until slightly crispy, with herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper. I started with this recipe for Roasted Beets and modified it a bit, adding rosemary. It makes a great side dish during these cold weather months!

Roasted Rosemary Beets
  • 6 medium beets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


1. Scrub beets; trim off stem and root ends. If desired, peel  (I don’t bother).

2. Place beets in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. In a small bowl combine olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Drizzle over vegetables in pan. Toss lightly to coat.

3. Cover pan with foil and roast in a 375 degrees F oven for 30 minutes; uncover and continue roasting for 20 to 30 minutes more or until vegetables are tender.

4. Makes 6 servings.


The Forest Feast is a blog by Erin Gleeson full of simple, colorful vegetable based recipes with photos and watercolor illustration. After working for many years as a food photographer in NYC, Erin moved to a cabin in the woods where she is currently working on The Forest Feast Cookbook.



Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Not the bowl of Cheerios with a sliced banana and almond milk, haphazardly thrown together then scarfed while tackling my inbox at 7am on a Monday morning mind you, rather, breakfast - real breakfast. The kind you can take your time to make on lazy weekend mornings. The kind that’s hot, filling, and something you can really sink your teeth into, like French Toasted Sausage & Pear “Hot Dogs”.

Smoked sausage, melty cheesy, and crispy pear slices are stuffed inside sweetened rolls then dunked in a spiced-egg batter and sauteed in butter until hot, pillowy, and MIND MELTING.

A final drizzle of real maple syrup takes these hand-held French toast sandwiches completely over the top. Smoky, sweet, and cheesy – I can’t get over how yummy these were!

Start the French Toasted Sausage & Pear “Hot Dogs” by sautéing smoked chicken sausages until brown and crisp. Meanwhile, make a sweetened egg batter for the French toast. Eggs are my number one favorite thing to make for breakfast. Scrambled eggs with mashed avocado, warm frittata with leftover roasted vegetables, over medium eggs with a hot piece of buttered toast – the possibilities are endless, inexpensive, and always, always, always easy.

Crack two eggs into a shallow dish then whisk with milk, vanilla, and spices, including cinnamon and nutmeg.

The bread used in this French toast is another reason why the dish is so yummy and unique. Instead of regular french bread, the recipe calls for King’s Hawaiian Hot Dog Buns, which have a lightly sweet taste on their own. I couldn’t find hot dog buns, so I used these Mini Sub Rolls.

Separate the sub rolls, then lay them out with the rest of the ingredients, including sliced provolone cheese, sliced red pears, and the sauteed chicken sausages.

On one side of the roll layer half a slice of cheese, 2 slices of red pear, and 1/2 a chicken sausage sliced in half. Place the other half of the roll on top then dunk the sandwich in the egg mixture on both sides.

Saute in melted butter over medium heat until golden brown on all four sides, then top with a drizzle of maple syrup and dig in. One bite and I promise you’ll never look at French toast the same way again!

Click here for the French Toasted Sausage & Pear “Hot Dogs” >

Hi all, Jessica Christensen, senior editor with Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications here. I recently had a craving for cake and through a series of misadventures in my kitchen I created what later became Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue, a published recipe we put through the BHG Test Kitchen.

I started out the day with a couple of challenges—first, my 10-month-old son who thinks he should be involved in every project I undertake and second, my need for something sweet without overdoing it on the calories. So I started with an old favorite—Busy Day Cake. This is a one layer cake, so the calories wouldn’t be through the roof, and with only seven ingredients, it was sure to be quick so I could (maybe) get it done during my son’s naptime. Because I can’t leave any recipe alone, I decided to spruce it up with the classic Meringue Frosting (a fat-free recipe), and hey, why not add some pumpkin and nutmeg to the cake batter? So to make a long story short(er), I did exactly what bakers should never do—started baking before checking that I had all the ingredients. It wasn’t long before I discovered I had no granulated sugar AND I was missing a beater to my mixer.


No problem. I had brown sugar. So I continued on my mission replacing the granulated sugar with brown sugar in both the cake and the frosting. I added some freshly grated nutmeg (I always use freshly grated whole nutmeg instead of pre-ground because there’s just no comparison) and replaced a little bit of the fat with some pumpkin. I beat both the cake batter and the frosting with the one beater on my mixer and guess what—it worked fine! I used my handy Microplane to grate a big of nutmeg over the cake top for a super simple garnish.



I loved my  version of Busy Day Cake so much, I made some changes and put it through the test kitchen. The one we published—Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting—didn’t have pumpkin (I didn’t want the recipe to be too seasonal since I would be unrolling it after the holidays), replaced some of the brown sugar with granulated, and added a touch of baking soda to help the cake’s texture. During photography (see top photo on this page), it somehow morphed into a two-layer cake and the food stylist hit the meringue with a food torch for some pretty browning on the top. If you’re looking to cut calories wherever possible for your after-holidays diet, you can simply cut the Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting recipe in half so it’s just one layer (but you can still make a full batch of the Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting).

The moral of my story is that baking doesn’t always end up like you planned (especially when you fail to plan ahead), but with a little ingenuity and courage, the results can still be fabulous.

What baking or cooking issues have you overcome on the fly?

Happy Belated New Year! How many of you are getting healthy in 2013? This is something I always try to focus on because I’m a young Mom with a 3 year old and another one on the way. Pregnancy tires me out and I’ve noticed I’ve had less patience for elaborate dinners. But lucky for me {and you!} I’ve found a few healthy shortcuts to save time and keep things healthier in my family’s diet.

1. Add more veggies to all your meals! My favorite thing to do is hide lots of zucchini and carrot in my Spaghetti Sauce or making something with Mexican flavors, like Portobello Fajitas or Chicken Enchiladas, and throwing in a few extra peppers and using corn tortillas. I used to hate corn tortillas because they were dry and I never had the patience to fry each tortilla individually to soften it up. Seriously, who has time to babysit seventeen tortillas in a shallow oil bath? Not this girl! I’ve seen people ‘dry fry’ their tortillas in a hot pan just to warm them through, but again I don’t have time for that! I tried microwaving them dry too, but it didn’t seem to help. Mine kept cracking. Well, one day I got an epiphany that seriously has been such a caloric time saver! One that will keep corn tortillas soft and pliable. Are you ready for my shortcut? It seriously takes 2 minutes or less to do.

First, grab a wad of paper towels and make them damp.

Unwrap these paper towels and place your stack of tortillas in the center.

Wrap the paper towels up and around your corn tortillas and microwave 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on how strong your microwave is and that’s it! 

The water helps steam the tortillas, turning them into pliable, soft extra tasty tortillas! Perfect for any Mexican dinner like these Portobello Fajitas or Chicken Enchiladas! So tasty and packed full of veggies! If you think you’re not a corn tortillas person, give this trick a whirl and see if it changes your mind! It definitely changed mine!

2. Bake instead of fry chicken. Baking chicken is a great way to lower the fat content in a dish. Season it up and throw it in the oven. The best part about this is you don’t have to babysit the chicken on the stovetop. This is such a time saver for me! This Roasted Cranberry Chicken sounds simple and super delish!

3. Choose to drink water over juice or other beverages with calories–I’m pretty sure my child is the only one on the block who would rather have water than apple or orange juice! If you don’t like water or seem to have to force it down, try squeezing in a little lemon or experiment with this Cucumber Mint Water.

Hope you all have a happy and healthy new year! Enjoy!

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