Catching Up…

Has anyone noticed that things have been a little quite around here lately? No? Hmm. (That could have something to do with my already-infrequent writing schedule, I suppose.) Well, I actually have a valid reason this time, rather than another “we’ve just been so busy” excuse. It turns out that hurrying across an icy driveway isn’t always the wisest idea. Especially when you wipe out and land on your right wrist. Whoops.

All in all, it wasn’t too bad, as they sent me home with my arm in a splint and instructions to take it easy for four weeks. I’ve gotten pretty good at working a mouse with my left hand, and I’m able to zip my coat and tie my own shoes again, so things are definitely looking up. One of the hardest things has been the forced “vacation” from the kitchen. I cannot wait to get back to making dinner again after work, and I’m pretty sure that Andy is more than ready for me to get back to cooking as well.

So, what have we been eating for the last three weeks? When this happened, I told Andy that bones don’t heal on bachelor food, so there was no way we were eating frozen pizza and canned soup for a month. ;) He’s done a great job of picking up the slack and keeping us fed. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve eaten over the last few weeks (along with some Subway sandwiches, Papa Murphy’s pizza, blizzards from DQ and dinners out with friends):

Meanwhile, I have been catching up on my blog reading and making mental lists of all of the things I want to make as soon as I can wield a knife again. (Trust me, this is just the tip of the iceberg…) 


With any luck, I’ll take some pictures and share some things with everyone here!

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Posted by on February 23, 2015 in Uncategorized



This One’s a Keeper!

So, out of all of the cookies that I made this past Christmas, these were my favorite. I realize that seems like a backhanded compliment, since I only made a couple batches of cookies, but it’s not. I promise. What I’m trying to say is that these were good enough to make the cut on an incredibly short list of baked goods during a hectic December. :)

I had a stockpile of fresh cranberries in the freezer and a lemon in the fridge, and the recipe looked simple enough for my crazy schedule. The only change I made was to use my KA mixer to combine the lemon zest and the sugar – it does a better job than I ever could do by hand! I used my small cookie scoop, which meant I ended up with one-to-two-bite cookies (one bite for Andy, two for me).

They’re the perfect combination of sweet and tart, and the cranberries give them such a festive look. Of course, there’s no reason to save these guys for Christmas (good thing too, since I’m sharing this at the end of January). They’re the perfect cookie for lots of occasions: Ohio State parties, Valentine’s Day… they’d even be a good addition to a Super Bowl spread – on the New England side of the table, of course. ;)

LemonCranberryCookiesCranberry Lemon Cookies 

For the cookies: 
2 1/4 cup AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

For the glaze: 
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and the lemon zest. Turn the mixer on to medium and beat the sugar and lemon zest until well combined and fragrant. (Alternatively, you could put the sugar and zest in a bowl and rub it together with your fingers until it’s fragrant, but that takes a lot longer.) Add the butter to the lemon sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the chopped cranberries. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let it chill for about 30 minutes. (This is when I get caught up on my dishes.) 

When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small cookie scoop, form the dough into balls about 1 1/2″ in diameter. Place the balls on the prepared sheets and bake until lightly golden brown. (Mine took about 10 minutes; the original recipe recommends 13.) Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool slightly before removing them from the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cookies have cooled completely, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice for the glaze. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies. When the glaze has hardened, store the cookies in an airtight container.

From What Megan’s Making

Click here for a printable version.


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Posted by on January 30, 2015 in Cookies, Dessert


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Going to the Dark Side

It’s no secret that I’m stuck in an ongoing argument battle debate about the greatness of chocolate over vanilla. Why more people don’t come to the dark side, I’ll never understand. After all, we have chocolate. (Side note: If you’re here for healthy January food, you probably want to click away now. I’m an “everything in moderation” girl, which means I like my veggies and refuse to give up dessert in January.)

Back in November, I celebrated “Friendsgiving” with some of my girlfriends. We had such a good time (and so much good food) that we decided to do it again a month later and call it Christmas. :) (Plus, this gave us a chance to redeem ourselves – we left our husbands at home for Friendsgiving, and Andy wasn’t going to let me forget it.) Since I’d appeased the vanilla crowd with creme brulee in November, I knew that I had to go dark for Christmas. Dark and rich. 11 ounces of chocolate dark. More than 1 1/2 cups of cream rich. Cook’s Illustrated simply calls this a “rich chocolate tart,” and they aren’t kidding. It was phenomenal, if you’re into over-the-top chocolate things.

To make things easier (this is a CI recipe, after all), I made the crust Friday night, made the filling and baked the tart Saturday morning, and then glazed it right before we left for dinner Saturday night. Other than cheating a bit on the final chilling time, I followed the recipe to the letter. I was slightly concerned that I overbaked the crust, but it turned out just fine.

We served it with whipped cream, and the 10 of us ate about three quarters of the tart Saturday night, even after we’d stuffed ourselves on turkey, stuffing, two kinds of potatoes, green bean casserole, salad and cranberry sauce. :) Of course, that meant that someone had to step up and eat the leftover tart the next day. We all have to make sacrifices, right? ;)


Rich Chocolate Tart

for the crust: 
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 /4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
1 cup (5 ounces) AP flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces

for the filling: 
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped  (I used the CI recommended Ghirardelli 60% cacao baking bar.) 
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into thin slices and softened
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

for the glaze:
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hot water

for serving
whipped cream, optional

First, prepare the crust. Beat the egg yolk and the cream together in a small bowl. In a food processor, process the almonds and the sugar until the almonds are finely ground. Add the flour and salt, then pulse briefly to combine. Put the butter chunks to the food processor, then pulse the mixture until the butter is cut in and the mixture looks like coarse meal. (CI says it will take about 15 pulses, but I didn’t pay attention to how long it took.) With the food processor running, add the egg/cream mixture and process until the dough comes together in a ball. Place the dough on a large sheet of plastic wrap and roll it out into a 6″ disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm, but still workable. (If you refrigerate it overnight, like I did, take it out of the fridge and let it warm up so it’s workable before rolling it out.)

When you’re ready to bake the crust, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom with non-stick cooking spray. Roll the dough into an 11″ circle between two sheets of plastic wrap. Keep the dough between the plastic and slide it onto a baking sheet. Refrigerate the dough for about 15 minutes. Remove the dough from the fridge and peel off the top piece of plastic wrap. Leave the dough on the baking sheet and invert the tart pan on top of the dough. Press the tart pan down hard enough to cut the dough. Pick up the baking sheet and invert the tart pan onto the counter. Remove the baking sheet and peel off the remaining piece of plastic wrap. Reserve the remaining piece of plastic wrap.

Roll a rolling pin over the edges of the now-right-side-up tart pan, cutting through any remaining dough. Reserve the scraps. Roll the dough scraps into ropes that are 3/4″ thick.Press the ropes of dough onto the sides of the tart pan. Line the tart pan with the plastic wrap that you saved, and using the bottom of a measuring cup, gently press the dough into an even thickness all the way around the sides of the pan. Trim off any remaining scraps of dough that hang over the edges and remove the plastic wrap. Put the tart pan and baking sheet in the freezer and freezer until firm, about 20 minutes.

Remove the pan and baking sheet from the freezer. Cut a 12″ piece of aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray. Press the foil, oiled side down, onto the surface of the tart, and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake until dough is dry and light golden brown, about 25 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through the baking time. Carefully remove the foil and pie weights, and then return the pan to the oven and bake until the pastry is rich golden brown, about 8 to 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack.

While your crust is cooling, prepare your filling. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine the cream, espresso powder and salt. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour the cream mixture over the chopped chocolate. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, then gently stir the mixture with a whisk until it is smooth. (Try not to whisk too hard, as this will incorporate air into the filling, which leads to little air bubbles on the surface of the tart. On the other hand, you’re going to cover the tart with glaze, so no one will be the wiser if you get carried away with the whisk.) Add the butter and continue to whisk until the butter melts.

Set a fine mesh strainer over the bowl of chocolate. Pour the beaten eggs through the strainer and whisk until the mixture comes together and becomes glossy. Pour the filling into the baked crust. Gently shake the mixture to evenly distribute the filling. Use a toothpick to poke any air bubbles that make their way to the surface.

Bake the tart on a baking sheet until the outer edge of the filling appears set, with very faint cracks in the surface, about 30-35 minutes. (The filling will still be wobbly when it’s done.) Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Refrigerate, uncovered, until filling is chilled and set, at least three hours. (I rushed this, since it took me longer than I had expected to bake the crust.) 

Remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you’re ready to glaze the tart. (Don’t ask me why. This is another one of CI’s extra steps that I don’t get.) Bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Take the pan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate to the cream mixture. Let the chocolate stand for 5 minutes, then whisk until combined. When the mixture is smooth, whisk in the hot water until the glaze is smooth and pourable. Working quickly, pour the glaze over the tart. Tilt the tart back and forth to spread the glaze over the surface. Let the tart stand for at least one hour before serving. Cut into wedges and garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

From Cook’s Illustrated, November/December 2013

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Dessert


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Hello, 2015!

Happy New Year, everyone!! I hope you had a Merry Christmas and that 2015 is treating you well so far. Between the holidays and our bathroom remodel, things have been crazy busy here (which explains why I fell off the blogging bandwagon last month), so we’ve spent most of our long weekend relaxing.

According to WordPress, I actually wrote less in 2014 than I did in 2013, which was NOT my goal, so this recap is going to be shorter than I’d like. Here’s hoping that I can carve out a little more time for writing this year!

2014 marked another year of participation in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I had a blast (no surprise there) making maple-glazed spiced brown sugar cookies for my three matches, and I had just as much fun receiving my treats from three other bloggers! Totally doing it again this year. :)

CSA2014 week 12

It was also another year of CSA goodness from the good people at Olden Produce Farms. They kept us stocked all summer with awesome veggies, which meant lots of fritters, salads and other farm-fresh goodness. Local friends, if you want fresh produce, you should check them out. It’s good stuff.

I made lots of ice cream, especially the ever-popular vanilla bean, but my favorite was the chocolate ice cream. It was out of this world good. Not sure why Andy and the rest of my friends don’t see it.

Chocolate Ice Cream

I also found a new favorite mashed potato recipe. Thank you, Cook’s Illustrated.

Garlic Parm Mashed Potatoes

I’m also including some pictures of recipes that I never got around to sharing (because time just got away from me). I made lemon raspberry ice cream sandwiches for Labor Day, and they were a huge hit. I also made cranberry cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, mostly so I’d have an excuse to make sugared cranberries, which are pretty much a trifecta of greatness, as far as recipes go. They’re easy and pretty, and they’re delicious. I also went out on a limb and tried this gnocchi tomato salad, and we were both blown away by how much we liked it. Once you pan fry gnocchi, you’re never going back. Seriously. I probably ate 1/4 of the fried gnocchi while I made the rest of the dinner.

Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches



I also took a cake decorating class and finally learned how to make roses! (Although, to be perfectly honest, they’re “cheater” roses, rather than the “official” Wilton rose. Details.) It was a lot of fun, and the only way to improve my skills to keep practicing, so it looks like I’d better make some cake. Whose birthday is next?

Anniversary Cake

I think that’s a pretty good summary of the last 12 months in  my kitchen. As far as 2015 goes, I’d like to try new recipes more often. I subscribe to 3 different food magazines (Cook’s Illustrated, Taste of Home, and Kraft Food & Family, in case you were wondering), and I’d like to try at least one recipe from each issue I receive throughout the year. I’m looking forward to using my Christmas gifts: a Dutch oven (because Andy and Karen are awesome) and an Ethiopian spice, berbere, from my sister-in-law. (Thanks, Kim!!) 

Thanks for reading, everyone!

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Posted by on January 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Spiced Brown Sugar Cookies with Maple Glaze (for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!)

“The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things –  of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.” – Lewis Carroll

OK, so we’re not talking about any of those things (although there is still a giant head of cabbage in my fridge, so we will be talking about cabbages at some point). ;) Today, we are talking about cookies. After all, it’s reveal day!

I did a lot of thinking about what cookies I wanted to send this year. When I signed up for the swap, I knew that I wasn’t going to have time to get my cookies in the mail after Thanksgiving. So rather than go for a Christmas cookie, I chose a fall cookie and sent them before Thanksgiving. Good thing too, since we’ve spent the last 3 weeks working with drywall, thinset, tile and paint.

It was great, though, in the middle of construction and chaos, to get boxes of delicious cookies in the mail! We made quick work of all three batches, and Andy declared that all of them could become regulars in our house. We received chocolate mint crinkle cookies from Stacy at the Baking Bandit, chocolate peppermint patty cookies from Carla at Alyssa and Carla, and snowball cookies from Terri at Love and Confections. We loved them all. It’s no secret that the chocolate-mint combo is near and dear to our hearts (right after the chocolate-peanut butter combo), and those snowball cookies, well, there was definitely an almond flavor to them, and I LOVE almond extract. And the super cute tin? Totally using that to pack up a food gift this Christmas. So, a big thank you to my “secret Santa” bakers – you fueled us through many late nights!

2014 Swap Cookies copy


Like I said, I chose a fall cookie. Brown sugar, spices and maple. I love maple syrup, and I’ve had Annie’s spiced brown sugar cutout cookies bookmarked for a while. I decided that they’d be the perfect with a little maple extract and a simple maple glaze/icing. They weren’t fancy – especially since I cut them into simple circles, rather than cute shapes. (I thought circles would be less likely to crumble in shipping.)  I’d like to think, though, that what they lacked in looks, they made up for in flavor. I also hoped that the glaze would keep the cookies softer on their trip across the country! I didn’t get around to taking a picture of my packaging, but I decided to use some of my chalkboard painted tins for shipping. I thought they turned out well! Here’s hoping that they traveled just as well and that everyone liked them! I sent cookies to:

Cindy at Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Erin at Erin Cooks
Kaitlin at I Can Cook That

Maple Sugar Cookies

Spiced Brown Sugar Cookies with Maple Glaze

For the cookies: 
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon maple extract

For the glaze: 
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon maple extract
pinch of salt

To make the cookies, whisk the dry ingredients (flour through allspice) together in a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg and the extracts until well-combined. Gently mix in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.

Place the dough on a large sheet of plastic wrap and press it into a flat disc. Wrap the dough and chill in the refrigerator until firm. (I let mine go overnight.)

When you’re ready to bake the cookies, line baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/4″ thickness. Cut cookies out of the dough with cookie cutters, rerolling and cutting scraps as needed. Place cookies about 1 1/2″ apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are just lightly brown, about 9 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before removing cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

While cookies are cooling, whisk the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste, and adjust with sugar/maple syrup/milk until the glaze reaches your desired consistency/sweetness. (I’ll be the first to admit that I made up the glaze as I went along. I was looking for a consistency that was thin enough to drizzle, but not so thin that it would all run off the cookie immediately.) Cover the cooled cookies with the glaze. (I prefer to dip them in a shallow dish and then return them to the cooling rack to “dry.”)

Store in an airtight container. Cookies keep for at least a week (that’s how long we had the extras) and soften slightly as time goes on.

Cookies from Annie’s Eats, who found them at Bake at 350. Glaze is Beth’s Blue Plate original.

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Cookies, Dessert


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TGIF Treats

At our house, Friday nights are something special. We’re both busy with work, friends and other activities during the week, so by 5 p.m. on Friday, we are in full-blown TGIF mode and ready to usher in the weekend. Usually that means making an easy dinner and getting a movie (yay for Redbox coupon codes). Recently, though, our weekends have been more work than play (remodeling a bathroom will do that to you), so we haven’t had as many relaxing Friday nights. In spite of (or because of, maybe?) our ever-growing to-do list, I still wanted to do something special for our Friday night last week. Special but easy. It was a Friday, after all. I didn’t want to be doing dishes till midnight or anything crazy.

Then it hit me: Pudding. Pudding is easy. I could mix it up while the scalloped potatoes baked. It sets up fairly quickly. There are minimal dishes afterward. OK then. Now, I just needed a flavor. I scratched vanilla off the list immediately (boring!), and I’d made chocolate pudding relatively recently, so that was out as well. Then I remembered how much I like butterscotch, and I was off to find a recipe.

Since Deb’s chocolate pudding is easy and delicious, I decided to start there for a butterscotch recipe. Good plan, right? Well… I discovered numerous pudding recipes in the Smitten Kitchen archives, but none of them said “butterscotch.” Lucky for me though, I found butterscotch pudding popsicles. Since I don’t have popsicle molds (are you listening, Santa? Mom? Andy? Hint, hint…), I had to stick with my original plan and just make pudding. Besides, skipping the popsicle step just meant dessert was ready sooner. :)

Sooner was definitely a good thing. The pudding is sweet and rich, but not overly so. I tasted it before and after adding the vanilla, and wow, that’s what makes the pudding. It was definitely one of the highlights of our Friday night. There’s only one issue with this recipe.

It made about four servings, which meant it was gone by lunchtime on Saturday. Bummer.

Butterscotch Pudding

Butterscotch Pudding

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used a combination of skim and half and half.)

Combine the cream, brown sugar and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat the mixture until it comes to a boil, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk the cornstarch into the pan, and gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Return the pan to the burner and cook, stirring often, until the pudding thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla and salt.

Transfer the pudding to a bowl and chill in the refrigerator until set. If you’re anti-pudding skin (like me), place a piece of plastic wrap against the top of the pudding while it chills.

From Smitten Kitchen

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on November 18, 2014 in Dessert


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Prepping for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

It’s my favorite way to spend a chilly Saturday afternoon… Buckeye football and cookies!



Posted by on November 15, 2014 in Uncategorized




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