Cinnamon Swirl Bread


Cinnamon Swirl Bread |

Farmgirl Gourmet came to fruition in 2006 on a whim to keep our family in the loop on what we were doing with our 120 year old farmstead.  Each post was an apology for taking 6 months or more to write something.  Fast forward to October 2010 when I decided to make it or break it, so to speak.  It wasn’t long after I had jumped in head first that I received a note that I had been chosen to work on Emeril Lagasse’s latest cookbook “Sizzling Skillets & Other One Pot Wonders” and that I’d be working with 19 other bloggers from around the country.  We worked fast and furious together for 3 weeks making Emeril’s recipes, tweeting with him, spreading the word about his book and, well, just having a great time collaborating together.


Then it was all over.  There was this emptiness that followed, like closing the biggest deal of your life.  You should be excited, but the phone has stopped ringing and you’re no longer elbow to elbow with your team.  That’s when it hit us.  Let’s not let it end….let’s keep it going and Virtual Potluck was born.  

You’re probably wondering why I’m going into great detail about Virtual Potluck, well this post today is dedicated to Donna Currie of, who was one of the original 20 bloggers in Virtual Potluck, and has just released her first cookbook, Make Ahead Bread.  With this amazingly beautiful book, there’s no way to say “I don’t have time to make bread” anymore.  Each recipe has Day 1 and Day 2 instructions.  It’s brilliant.  To commemorate her book the Virtual Potluck crew has gotten back together to do a HUGE giveaway (see pics below).  Let’s get to the prizes: 

Giant Super Grand PrizeReally Big Grand Prize
super grand prizeCinnamon Swirl Bread |
- Make Ahead Bread cookbook
- Magimix 3200XL 12-Cup Food Processor in Brushed Chrome
- 9-Piece set of Duralex Mixing Bowls
- Made in the USA hardwood baker’s rolling pin from Harold Import Company
- Microplane Elite Zester, Cube Grater, and Spiral Cutter
- GIR scraper
- Coupon for a free KAF bag of flour of their choice to use at their local supermarket and a plastic scraper
- One package of Walker’s Shortbread Cookies
- Make Ahead Bread cookbook
- WÜSTHOF CLASSIC 9-inch Double Serrated Bread Knife
- 5-Piece set of Silverstone Bakeware in winner’s choice of red or blue
- Made in the USA hardwood baker’s rolling pin from Harold Import Company
- Microplane Elite Zester, Cube Grater, and Spiral Cutter
- GIR scraper
- Coupon for a free KAF bag of flour of their choice to use at their local supermarket and a plastic scraper
- One package of Walker’s Shortbread Cookies
Grand Prize9 More Winners Get
Cinnamon Swirl Bread | farmgirlgourmet.comCinnamon Swirl Bread |
- Make Ahead Bread cookbook
- Rye Bread Baking Kit from King Arthur Flour
- Made in the USA hardwood baker’s rolling pin from Harold Import Company
- Microplane Elite Zester, Cube Grater, and Spiral Cutter
- GIR scraper
- Coupon for a free KAF bag of flour of their choice to use at their local supermarket and a plastic scraper
- One package of Walker’s Shortbread Cookies
- Make Ahead Bread cookbook
- Microplane Elite Zester, Cube Grater, and Spiral Cutter
- GIR scraper
- Coupon for a free KAF bag of flour of their choice to use at their local supermarket and a plastic scraper

WOW…that’s a lot of goodies!!  There will be some seriously lucky winners!  Here’s how you enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I chose to make Cinnamon Swirl Bread from Donna’s book as I am a huge fan of it with a big slather of butter!  Me and bread are BFF’s forever.  This bread was super easy to make.  I started it one night after work, then the next day popped it in the oven.  So easy – and amazingly delicious.  Make sure you check out Donna’s blog for the full list of Virtual Potluckers who made recipes from her book – HERE.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Bread


    For the Dough
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • For the Filling
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 graham crackers, crushed into crumbs (optional)
  • Nonstick Cooking Spray


  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients and knead by hand (mix first in a large bowl, then turn out and knead) or in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment until the dough is elastic.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour in a warm place.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl. Spray two 8x4-inch loaf pans with cooking spray.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, on a floured surface, pat the dough into a rough square, then use a rolling pin to roll the dough to a rectangle about 8 x 16 inches.
  5. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon filling onto the dough rectangle, leaving about an inch uncovered on one of the short sides. Use the rolling pin to lightly press the mixture into the dough. Starting at the short side opposite the uncovered end, roll the dough, jellyroll style. When you reach the opposite side, pinch the dough to seal the seam, then pinch the ends of the roll closed as well. Place the finished dough in one of the prepared baking pans, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap or place in a large bag and tie the end closed.
  6. Prepare the second half of the dough in the same way.
  7. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours.
  9. Remove the pans from the refrigerator and heat the oven to 350º F.
  10. Remove the plastic wrap from the pans and bake the loaves until they are nicely browned and the internal temperature reads 190º F, on an instant-read thermometer (about 35-45 min); make sure you test in the dough and not in the filling. Turn out the bread from the pans and let cool on a rack before slicing.

Donna’s Book, Make Ahead Bread, is available for sale on Amazon. If you’d like an autographed copy, you can order one from Barbed Wire Books.

You can find Donna on her blog, Cookistry, or on Facebook and Twitter.

For the giveaway, we’d like to thank our sponsors who generously offered some fantastic prizes:

In addition to supplying items for the giveaway, a special thanks to Taunton Press, Silverstone, Microplane and WÜSTHOF for supplying products for all the bloggers to work with.

Do you want to know more about the sponsors? You can find them on their websites and social media, here:

Taunton on Twitter and Facebook.
Magimix on Twitter and Facebook.
WÜSTHOF on Twitter and Facebook.
Silverstone would like you to follow Pots and Pans on Twitter and Facebook.
Duralex on Twitter and Facebook.
GIR on Twitter and Facebook.
Harold Import Company on Twitter and Facebook.
Microplane on Twitter and Facebook.
King Arthur Flour on Twitter and Facebook.
Walker’s Shortbread on Facebook.

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Simply Delicious Guacamole – #VirtualPotluck

Simply Delicious Guacamole via Farmgirlgourmet

Simply Delicious Guacamole via Farmgirlgourmet

When it comes to guacamole, I am somewhat of a purest.  Don’t get me wrong if you put a bowl of fancy pants guac in front of me, I will put the hurt on it, but when I make it at home, the simpler the better.  My recipe is easy to make with ingredients you most likely have in your fridge and pantry.

You may be asking yourself: “Self, why did she leave the pit in the guacamole?”.  Well here’s your answer – Avocados contain an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase, which when in contact with oxygen in the air, causes avocados to turn brown.  Read more at HuffPost Taste.

A side note – if I was to ever be stranded on an island alone for the rest of my life and was able to choose one meal to eat every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it would be Avocado sandwiches on white bread with Best Foods/Hellman’s mayo & pepper.  I could do it.  Really.  I ate that sandwich for lunch almost everyday growing up and still do today.

Ok, back to guacamole – the Virtual Potluck crew thought it would be fun to whip up several varieties of guacamole to whet your appetite.  Grab the bag of tortilla chips and get ready to drool.  I know I am!

Simply Delicious Guacamole

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 2 cups

Simply Delicious Guacamole


  • 3 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled & diced
  • 1/2 plum tomato, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and mash lightly with a fork to blend and break up some of the avocado chunks. Adding the pit to the bowl will keep the avocado from oxidizing and turning brown.

A Year Ago – Alice’s Famous French Dressing


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Dark Chocolate Cashew Brittle Cookies & a Virtual Baby Shower

Dark Chocolate Cashew Brittle Cookies

It was September of 2011 when I was selected along with 19 other food bloggers to participate in a book promo for Emeril Lagasse.  I was still pretty new to the food blogging scene and didn’t know any of the other bloggers.  We spent 3 weeks together working on the promo and became fast friends.  One of those bloggers is the beautiful and gracious Rachel of  She and I have become great friends and my week is not complete without saying HI to her. She’s just a sweetheart and I love her to bits.

I received an email from Brandy of and Brandi of asking if I wanted to participate in a virtual baby shower for Rachel (If you haven’t heard, she’s about to pop very soon with her first little man).  How could I say no?  So I jumped on board and offered up my graphic design services to create the invitation.  The list of bloggers who are cooking for Rachel’s virtual baby shower is long and amazing.  She is definitely well loved in the blogging community.  Please make sure you check out all of the deliciousness.

Check out all of the deliciousness!




Dark Chocolate Cashew Brittle Cookies & a Virtual Baby Shower

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 16 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 2 dozen


  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, chips or chunks
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cashew brittle


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchement paper and set aside.
  2. Set a double boiled over medium-low heat, add the chocolate and butter and heat until just melted. Stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. Add the melted chocolate and mix well to combine. Mix in the flour. Add the chopped cashew brittle and stir to combine. (the mixture will be liquid, but it will puff up in the oven)
  5. Use a hinged scoop and scoop the cookie mixture on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 12-16 minutes. Do not overcook. Cool on a wire rack.


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Pumpkin Apple Cake + @TatesBakeShop Giveaway

Pumpkin Apple Cake


Holy Giveaway Central Batman!  First Emeril’s cookbook, then the Harry & David Roxy Ann basket and now a Tates Bake Shop giveaway from Virtual Potluck?  Tis the season to be generous I suppose.  I have more fun and delicious giveaways in the queue too.  If you like free stuff, you might want to enter your email address over on the right under my picture to receive the latest and greatest in your inbox.  Don’t miss a post!

For now, let’ talk Tate’s.  Kathleen King is the creator and owner of the Southampton bakery, Tate’s Bake Shop.  She has a cult following, making her bakery an actual “destination” according to the New York Times.  That’s pretty amazing, if you ask me.  Her latest cookbook; “Baking with Friends” is a culinary delight for anyone with a sweet tooth.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up the book, drooled on every page, only to put it down feeling overwhelmed with what to make.  I finally handed off the book to the kids and said “you pick”.  To my shock, they came back with this cake.  Not cookies or brownies, but a moist pumpkin apple cake.  Yes, they are foodies too!

The cake is perfect, in my opinion.  It’s not too sweet, only requires a slight dusting of powdered sugar and would be perfect for your Thanksgiving dessert table.  Before we head off to recipe land  I wanted to let you know that I am giving away a signed copy of the book as well as the Cookie and Bar Tower pictured above.  So you can savor Kathleen’s treats while you peruse the book endlessly.  If you want even more ways to win from Tate’s Bake Shop, check out the Facebook promo they are running as well.  You could win $1000, a KitchenAid mixer and copies of the book.  All you have do is make one of the recipes and let them know.  That’s a win win if you ask me!

Enter the Tate’s Bake Shop Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pumpkin Apple Cake + @TatesBakeShop Giveaway

Yield: 12 to 16 Servings

This cake combines the best flavors of autumn. It is an effortless cake that is perfect for breakfast, a lunch box, or an afternoon snack. If serving to guests, dress up each serving with a spoonful of caramel sauce. (from Baking with Friends)


  • Softened butter and all-purpose flour for the pan
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting


  1. Position the oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter and flour a 9 inch fluted or plain tube pan and tap out the excess flour.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer set on high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in the granulated and brown sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs, followed by the vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the apples and walnuts. With the mixer set on low speed, min in the flour mixture in thirds, scraping down the bowl as needed. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.
  3. Bake until the cake is golden brown and a long bamboo skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a wire cooling rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the wire rack and unmold. Turn right side up and cool completely.
  4. To serve, sift confectioners' sugar over the top and cut into wedges

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Whole Wheat Applesauce Pancakes with Fresh Peach Compote

Whole Wheat-Applesauce Pancakes with Fresh Peach Compote |
An easy recipe for Whole Wheat Applesauce Pancakes that are kicked up with a fresh peach compote that is delectable. 

Whole Wheat-Applesauce Pancakes with Fresh Peach Compote |

I don’t know about you, but I am super excited to see who wins Top Chef Masters.  Being laid up with a bad back for the past week has gotten me completely caught up on television.  Yay me!!  Ok, maybe not so much.  I love watching cooking shows, but I also love being in my kitchen and when you can’t stand (walk, sit, sleep, breath – you get the picture) the kitchen is no place to be.  So, I lived vicariously through the Cheftestants on the show.

If you watch Top Chef Masters, you’ve probably noticed that the show is being sponsored by Anolon Cookware.  Beautiful cookware…that all matches. 

Whole Wheat Applesauce Pancakes |

My kitchen cupboard is like a resting ground for old, mismatched pots and pans.  I pick them up at yard sales, got a few for wedding gifts (those are the nice ones) and some are hand-me-downs from my Mom.  So when Anolon got in contact with Virtual Potluck and asked if we would like to do a promotion for them, I was stoked.  Pots – that match?  Sign a sister up!  

Whole Wheat Applesauce Pancakes |


They sent me a 2 quart covered saucepan and a 5 quart covered saute pan.  Both – GORGEOUS.  (and they match).  I am so in love with them that I’m ready to put a garage sale sign in my yard and haul my ugly lot to the curb – and then buy the rest of this Anolon line to… guessed it, MATCH.  I might even buy a pot rack and display them like art.  If you know me, you’d know that I am totally anti-pot-rack.  Totally!  Don’t get my wrong, I think they look amazing, in somebody elses home.  I personally don’t want to clean pots before I use them and I don’t live in a house with a maid (unless you count me) thank you to the dust collecting pot rack.  My opinion, everyone is different.  Don’t lynch me.  Thank you.

Back to Anolon.  The saute pan is amazingly perfect.  I love it with my whole heart.  I made pancakes in a dry pan and they came out beautifully browned and evenly cooked.  No oil or butter necessary.  Love it.  The pancakes are my recipe for Applesauce Pancakes that are super easy to make and require no butter or oil either.  You can make them lighter by substituting all purpose flour, but I like to slip in the whole wheat whenever I can.  I hope you take a moment and check out for some beautiful cookware.  They have been an absolute pleasure to work with.  Check out all of the other Virtual Potluckers posts for Anolon here.  


Let’s go make some pancakes…I’m hungry.

Whole Wheat Applesauce Pancakes with Fresh Peach Compote

Yield: Makes 4 Servings (about 10 pancakes)

Whole Wheat Applesauce Pancakes with Fresh Peach Compote

A quick and low fat recipe for pancakes that will fool your anti-whole wheat eating kids. The peach compote comes together quickly and the syrup is so tasty, you may just want to put away the Aunt Jemima.


  • 1 pound fresh peaches, skinned, pitted and sliced (or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pancakes:
  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/8 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 3 egg whites, lightly beaten until frothy
  • 1 1/2 cup fat free milk


  1. In a medium saucepan, add the peaches, brown sugar, water and cinnamon and bring to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has started to get thick and the liquid is syrupy.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a batter bowl with a whisk until incorporated well.
  3. Add the applesauce, egg whites and milk and stir until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  4. Preheat your griddle and using a 1/4 cup measure, pour the batter onto the hot griddle. Top with sliced bananas and cook until the bottoms are golden and then flip.
  5. Serve with maple syrup and enjoy!

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Walnut Levain & A Bakers Dream Come True!

Walnut Levain 3

To all of my gluten intolerant friends – shield your eyes (and I’m sorry)!  Everyone else, get your butter knives ready.  Today’s post is all about gluten.  Well, Walnut Levain to be exact and a giveaway that will make all you bakers giddy with joy!  

This week the
Virtual Potluck has teamed up with King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast to bring you a whole lotta gluten and yeasty love!  Some of the Virtual Potluck bloggers received flax products from King Arthur Flour while others got Classic Fresh Sourdough Starter. The sourdough page at King Arthur flour has links to tips, recipes, and more. And there’s plenty of information about flour, as well.

There’s even more about flours, the company’s commitment to quality, and why you get so much more with King Arthur Flour. Or you can attend a baking class or demo in Norwich or on the road.  Find out how to bring the free Life Skills Bread Baking Program to middle-school students in your community, or join the online community, The Baking Circle.
Red Star Yeast also has recipes (including gluten-free), a yeast conversion chart, a baking steps guide, and how-to-bake videos including videos for bread machine, stand mixer and hand-kneading.

Want to know what you could win?  Here’s the low down on what one lucky duck will receive:

From King Arthur Flour
From Red Star Yeast
  • 3 Strips of Yeast
  • 1 Bread Loaf Pan
  • 1 Apron
  • 1 Bread Knife (Pictured Above)
And the winner is…………………. Julia!!!
Julia – GIRL, you lucky lucky duck!  Email me your info and King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast will get your goodies in the mail to you stat so you can start baking deliciousness!!
How to Enter:
  • Leave a comment telling me what you’d bake if you won all of these goodies.
Bonus Entries(leave a separate comment for each):
You can enter the Win a Vermont Dream Getaway sweepstakes daily by liking King Arthur Flour on Facebook and completing the entry form found there. The grand prize is a five-night stay in Vermont, including three nights at the Norwich Inn, a private brewery tour, and classes at King Arthur Flour; two nights at the Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, Vermont, plus a lake tour and photo shoot; and of course meals and travel.  

Don’t forget to check out for more ways to win the prizes from King Arthur Flour and Red Star Yeast

Walnut Levain
Levain is a sourdough bread, also known as pain au levain.  In this version toasted walnuts are added to give the tangy bread a bit more texture. The recipe was modified from King Arthur Flours basic sourdough recipe.

2/3 cup walnut halves or pieces
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt (I used kosher)
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

  1. Add the walnuts to a dry medium skillet set over medium-high heat.  Toast until they become fragrant and slightly browned.  Remove to a cutting board and coarsely chop.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl add the remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough becomes elastic.  Flatten out and place the chopped walnuts in the center.  Knead until the nuts are well incorporated, about 10 turns.  Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and add the dough ball.  Lightly coat with cooking spray and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Place in a warm, draft free, area for 90 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough in half and form into balls.  Place on a flour dusted parchment lined baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic and place in a warm, draft free, area for 1 hour.  
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Bake the bread for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
Makes 2 large round loaves.

Disclaimer: I was provided product free of charge and was not compensated monetarily for this post.  All opinions are my own.  Contest is open to US Residents only and the winner will be chosen via on Sunday June 10, 2012 and announced on Monday June 11, 2012.  Winner will have 48 hours to respond at which point another winner will be chosen.
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Homemade Sriracha

Homemade Sriracha

Have you jumped on the Sriracha craze?  If you haven’t or have never heard of Sriracha before, I recommend you run to the store right now and get a bottle.  No wait, finish reading this post first and then make your own.  It’s easier than you think.  Honest.

The Virtual Potluck crew has teamed up with Savory Spice Shop to bring you 12 recipes using different spices from their online spice store.  Each of us chose a different group of spices and I was fortunate enough to grab the Chili! Chile! spices.

A whole box of spicy chile deliciousness showed up on my doorstep and I needed to figure out some use for them that wasn’t the norm.  

A few weeks ago I unearthed the giant mason jar pictured here from the top cupboard of my kitchen.  4 years ago I had filled it with habanero’s, jalapeno’s, smoked jalapeno’s from my garden.  Along with white vinegar and garlic.  4 years it sat waiting for it’s debut.  I was a bit scared to open it, as I wasn’t quite sure if it would be any good.  I stuck the immersion blender in it and proceeded to strain it through a sieve.  The end result…well let’s just say there’s not much of it left.  We have been practically drinking it.

So, as I sat staring at this pile of beautiful dried chiles from Savory Spice Shop I had the vision of making Sriracha from them.  I had never made it from dried chiles before, only fresh but what the heck, right?  I started the kettle of water and picked the chiles I was going to use for the Sriracha.

I put the whole chiles in a big bowl, covered them with boiling water and let them rehydrate.  Gave them a quick dice and added them to the big mason jar along with the ground habanero, white vinegar and salt.  Capped it and put in the fridge for 2 weeks.  That’s it.  No need for 4 years of brewing either.  The best part of all….you can make your own Sriracha for less than $10.  4 – 1/2 pints of chile deliciousness.  Just think how excited your friends will be when you present them with a jar of your homemade Sriracha?  

Homemade Sriracha

Yield: Makes 4 1/2 pint jars

Homemade Sriracha made with dried chiles. Only 2 weeks of steeping is required to get a full flavored chile sauce.


  • 5 dried ancho chiles, whole
  • 18 black & red chipotle chiles, whole
  • 2 teaspoons ground habanero
  • 5 cups white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt


  1. Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Put the whole chiles in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water. Place a heavy plate on top of the chiles to keep them from floating. Allow to steep for 30 minutes or more.
  2. Remove from the water and rough chop. Add to a 1 quart jar (or 2 pint jars) along with the ground habanero, vinegar and salt. Cap tightly and refrigerate for 2 weeks. Shake the jar lightly every few days.
  3. Insert an immersion blender (or conversely use a countertop blender) into the jar and blend well. Pour the chile mixture into a fine mesh sieve set over a large bowl. Stir to strain the liquid from the solids. Press the solids with a rubber spatula and discard. Repeat with the remaining chile mixture. Ladle into clean 1/2 pint jars and cap tightly. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.




Disclaimer: Savory Spice Shop sent Virtual Potluck members spices to test and develop a recipe with, free of charge. My opinions, as always, were based on product testing and tasting!  US mailing addresses only. One (1) winner will be chosen randomly. Prize will be shipped by Savory Spice Shop. The contest ends Sunday, April 22nd, 2012 at 11:59 pm Eastern time. The winner will be announced on Monday, April 23st via email and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.

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Shrimp with Fresh Basil, Thai Style

Shrimp with Basil Thai Style via
Shrimp with Basil Thai Style via

This bowl of deliciousness comes from the new Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook.  It’s super quick to make and the my Hubs and Son barely spoke a word at dinner tonight.  That’s always a good sign that it’s a winner.

The fine folks at Lodge were sweet to send me a copy to review.  They also sent along a cast iron skillet that is perfect for my morning eggs.  I am in love with it.  Well, I like it a lot.

The Lodge folks would like you to have your very own copy of their brand spankin new book too so they asked the Virtual Potluck Team if we’d like to do a giveaway…to which we all said HECK YA.  The book is filled with tons of great recipes and don’t fret…if you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can still enjoy every recipe in this book.
Check out all of the recipes created by the Virtual Potluck team by hitting up

Congrats to Darcy Panak!!  Please email me your info at as soon as you can!

How to Win

Note: Giveaway runs from Wednesday April 4th through Sunday April 8th.  Winner will be announced on April 9th.  I will do everything in my power to contact the winner, but if there’s no email, facebook or twitter link in the comment, a new winner may need to be chosen. 
Shrimp with Fresh Basil, Thai Style – Lodge Cookbook Review & Giveaway- Giveaway Ended!

Yield: Makes 3-4 Servings

Shrimp with Fresh Basil, Thai Style – Lodge Cookbook Review & Giveaway- Giveaway Ended!

Quick and easy one skillet meal.


  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as Nam Pla)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped


  1. Stir together the fish sauce, water, soy sauce, and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. Prep the remaining ingredients, so you can add them quickly when they are needed.
  2. Place a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it becomes very hot, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the oil and turn to coat the pan evenly. Add the shrimp in a single layer and leave them to cook on one side, undisturbed, until their edges turn bright pink. Toss well and turn all the shrimp cooked side up so the other side can cook, undisturbed, for 15 seconds.
  4. Add the onion and garlic and toss well. Cook 1 minute, tossing occasionally, until the onion softens and becomes fragrant and shiny; continue tossing so it wilts and softens but doesn't burn.
  5. Stir the fish sauce mixture to make sure the sugar is dissolved and pour it around the edges of the pan. Toss well to season the shrimp with the sauce, then let cook, undisturbed, just until the shrimp are cooked through and the sauce is bubbling.,
  6. Add the green onions, cilantro and chile and toss well. Add the basil to the pan and toss well. Cook 10 seconds and pour onto a serving platter deep enough to hold a little sauce. Serve Hot.
Disclaimer: I was provide a copy of the cookbook and a cast iron frying pan for free and was not remunerated for a positive review or for writing this post.  All opinions stated here and anywhere on Farmgirl Gourmet are that of my own and are priceless.  Winner will be chosen via and shipped a copy of the cookbook from Lodge Manufacturing.
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My Mother’s Chocolate “Lovers” Cheesecake

Chocolate Lovers Cheesecake2

Stop staring.  Ok, I am too.  The Virtual Potluck team is getting together with Taste by to bring you tasty food and drink pairings to make your Valentines Day special.  My contribution is this delish Chocolate Lovers Cheesecake.  But first….

Today I’m going to tell you a little story….then give you the recipe for this OUT OF THIS WORLD no bake cheesecake.  Yes, I’m serious.  Ok, let’s get to the story so we can eat some chocolate.

My Mom was an amazing woman.  She was tall.  She was gorgeous.  When she walked in a room you knew it!  She was a great single Mom for the majority of my childhood.  One thing she wasn’t – an experimental cook.  She had a few killers that she kept in her repertoire (see picture above) but for the most part I grew up on Mac & Cheese (the Kraft kind) and Top Ramen: see the 5th sentence of this paragraph.   Once a year, on February 14th, she would bust out her “killer” and make everyone swoon with delight.  She would always take it to work with her walking proudly like a rooster showing off it’s fine feathers and with good reason.  She knew that she was going to blow the minds of everyone who laid their lips on this cake.  Really, it’s that good.

Before we head off into Chocolate Lovers Wonderland….here’s a bit about the N8tion guys.

“Taste is a new mixology show that features cool cocktails from the common guy. From the creative minds at, our resident “booze head” Otis showcases classic and not-so-classic cocktail recipes. Who is Otis???? We found him under a bar in downtown Atlanta nursing a Corona while holding a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. No seriously, after tending bars for countless college parties, he honed his bartending skills in local taverns on the nights he wasn’t moonlighting as a bouncer. Taste is a product of, an independent television and radio network founded by brothers Myron and Otis McDaniel.”

Now it’s time for Chocolate.  I know you’ve been waiting for a while.  So here we go.  Enjoy!!  p.s. I’ll take any leftovers you might have.  Thanks.  :)

Chocolate “Lovers” Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
11 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

4 ounces dark chocolate
2 tablespoons water

Whipped Cream Icing
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 Melt chocolate chips in top of a double boiler over low heat.  Stir until melted.  Combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until fluffy and smooth.  Add sugar and vanilla and beat well, scraping down the sides.  Add melted chocolate and beat to combine.

2 In another bowl add the heavy cream and beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold into the chocolate cream cheese mixture gently.  Spoon mixture into a springform mold lined with aluminum foil (or sure 2 1/2 inch cookie cutters as I did that are set on a parchment lined baking sheet).  Chill the mixture for 1 to 2 hours.  Invert onto a serving platter and remove the aluminum foil.

3 In a microwaveable dish add the dark chocolate and water and cook for 30 second intervals until the mixture is melted.  Let cool slightly.  Pour over the top of the cheesecake and set aside.

4 In another bowl add the whipped cream icing ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form.  Fill a pastry bag fitted with the tip of your choice (I used a #96 star tip).  Pipe icing on the top of the cheesecake and serve immediately, or chill until ready to serve.

Note: to make the swirled hearts I melted semi-sweet chocolate and white chocolate separately, made a square of aluminum foil and folded up the edges (so the chocolate wouldn’t run out) and then poured both chocolates into the foil and swirled with a chopstick.  Allow to harden and then use a heart shaped cookie cutter and apply light pressure to cut out the shapes.  They can break easily so go slowly.

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