Ever since we got a couple of adorable little pie pumpkins in our farm share back in October, I’ve planned on making this dish. Sure, it’s two months after that, but thanks to the wonders of living in a 150 year old brick house that doesn’t retain heat very well, the pumpkins were still good and ready to go.
Like most of my…life in general, I didn’t really have a plan, more a set of guidelines: fill pumpkin, bake. I happened to have some hot Italian sausage I picked up from Steinhauser Farms at the Lunasa market a while back. I thawed it out to use in a pasta dish earlier this week and wanted to use up the rest of it and this seemed like a good way to do that. I also had some extra sharp white cheddar and thanks to a stocking-up trip to the store, I got mushrooms and arugula as well. That’s it. That’s all there is to this recipe–five main ingredients and some seasonings and olive oil. You put it together, you let it do its thing in the oven and you have these adorable little self contained meals. Continue reading
I wasn’t doing a lot of baking for a bit there recently and in the meantime, my Calder delivery kept coming. By last Friday, I had amassed a small cholesterol-y fortune to the tune of about 4.5 pounds of butter in my pantry. I thought to myself, I should probably whittle that down before it goes bad. So I did what any other me in my situation would do: I made cornbread. And cookies. And those triple chocolate brownies that I’m convinced could easily be the flavonoid-filled death of some otherwise healthy person. But it wasn’t enough. By the end of the weekend, I still had a pound and a half of butter. At least that’s a reasonable amount for me. I can always make another batch or four of cornbread. I mean, it’s really good cornbread. But I also wanted to try something new. Frosting.
Generally, I don’t like to make frosting. I’ve tried before, for cakes and cinnamon rolls, and it always comes out “meh.” Seriously. It actually shrugs its sugary shoulders with a bored sounding “meh” as I spread it haphazardly across the top of some otherwise adequate baked concoction. The frosting is unimpressed with my meager talents at creaming various dairy products with sugar. Well that’s fine, frosting, cause I don’t like you either. Really, I don’t. I’ve never cared for frosting. Generally find it too sugary–I prefer the cake part. I don’t like filling either for the same reason. In fact as a kid, when given a Hostess cupcake, I would peel off the frosted design and then proceed to eat the cake around the filling and then throw the filling away. What can I say? That’s just how I roll. Non-frosted. Continue reading
If I were a Bond girl, my cheeky code name would be Cara. Cara Mel. I’d make sly, sultry comments to Bond while carelessly smoking a long, elegant cigarette that won’t have the chance to kill me because I’ll die in a freak accident by getting a mounted sword-fish nose through the stomach while Bond escapes the clutches of some comical, balding, verbose and vaguely effeminate bad guy yet again. “Cara Mel burns when hot, Mr. Bond,” I would say. “Cara Mel lies,” he would reply blithely, the line coming out very suavely if he was Sean Connery, and not nearly as impressively if he was say, Roger Dalton. Sorry, Rog. But it’s true.
Of course my action-packed, sugar-fueled day dreams are only tangentially related to post, at point (Caramel, Bar). Mostly because I’m tired and I get weird when I’m tired, and also because I can’t think of any other way to introduce this recipe other than to say it’s so good that Josh made me take the pan to work so that he wouldn’t eat the entire thing himself. So there you go. Bond tested, Josh approved.
No, really, these bars are quite good. And really easy too. And of course, I still had about 1.5 of caramel leftover from making the Take Five bars. I used half of it for this recipe and the other half I melted into a pan of these brownies. So yes. I’ve had a lot of sugar this week. Enough to kill a lesser mortal. Okay, maybe not kill. Stun? Make giddy? Give cavities? There it is. Continue reading
maybe she meant, let them eat cherries
Or, “What to do with 14 pounds of canned cherries.”
Josh likes cherries. Josh likes canning. Josh cans cherries. Lauren carries off two cans of cherries. Lauren cooks cherry cake. Cherry coffee cake. Cherry coffee cake with canned cherries. Josh is cheery. Josh likes cherry coffee cake with canned cherries.
I was bored on Saturday and that’s usually a recipe for disaster deliciousness because when I get bored, I bake. Only I was running low on ideas. It’s amazing, really—there are seven hundred and fifty recipes in my Evernote cookbook and yet, not a single thing I wanted to make right then and there. Well, that I could make anyway, with what I had on hand.
So I went offline and in search of my 40-something cookbooks. I wasn’t inspired by much there that day either, until I went through a Tastebook I had put together several years ago. If you’ve never been to Tastebook, it’s basically a site that lets you organize and print your own cookbooks—it’s rather nice, and I especially like it for gifts. But anyway, I’d printed myself a cookbook of recipes I found online a few years ago and one of them–the very first recipe in the book, actually—was for a cranberry coffee cake. Well I could do that, I thought. But I don’t have any cranberries. But I did have a basement wine cellar full of unfermented fruit (I know—I’m doing it wrong). That is, full of cherries that Josh bought fresh and canned a few weeks ago. Josh likes cherries. Josh likes cake. Cake likes cherries. Lauren cooks cherry cake. Continue reading
Where do banaberries come from, you may ask? Well *pats seat* come here and sit down. We should talk.
You see, when a banana and a blueberry love each other very much, they go out on a date. Sometimes drinking is involved and they end up doing some things they don’t remember in the morning, which is probably for the best as it’s most likely somewhat uncomfortable and disgusting. Banana sneaks out in the morning to avoid awkward conversation. And shortly later the fruit of their love is born: the banaberry.
In coming up with a more succinct name for these muffins I baked yesterday, I shortened the original lengthy moniker of “Banana Blueberry Muffins with Walnut Streusel” by combining the terms “Banana” and “Blueberry” into “Banaberry.” But that’s hardly romantic now, is it?
Anyway, so I was home all day yesterday. It was a planned day off to wait for FedEx to drop off my new iPhone (yes, I’m one of those). What was not planned was that FedEx dropped it off a day early on Tuesday. But hey, I’d already taken the day off. Might as well be productive and bake something delicious.
Three somethings, actually. I made a couple batches of les petits pains au chocolat for Josh, some more cornbread (sans the prosciutto this time) for both of us (but mostly me, really) and a batch of these rather lovely little muffins, which I took to work. Continue reading
Sometimes, I get the urge. The urge to merge wet and dry ingredients. The urge to stir.
One of the reasons I cook so much is because I get easily bored and then I have to find something to do. I have books to read, movies to watch, house to clean, dog to keep from drooling everywhere…but it’s not the same. I prefer to be cooking. And since I can’t cook two dinners a night, I end up baking something. It calms me. I listen to music (mostly Motown) and bop around in my kitchen. Sprinkle a little of this, a pinch of that, an estimated teaspoon of something or another, a handful of chocolate chips…or four.
This is pretty much what happened last night. I cleaned the kitchen after dinner, sat down on the couch to relax, opened up Evernote, saw a recipe I’d recently collected, got off the couch, went back to the kitchen, made sure I had brown sugar, went back to the living room, got my laptop, went back to the kitchen and began to bake. These are the days of my life. Continue reading
677. Six hundred and seventy seven.
A year in the 7th century? Yes, it was. The number of a Boy Scout troop in Washington? Probably. The number of hours that equal 40,620 minutes? According to my desktop converter widget, yes. It is also the number of recipes in my Evernote recipe notebook. Or at least, it was a couple weeks ago…I’ve since added a few more. 13 more. At that rate I’m going, I’ll be at magic number 700 before you read this blog post.
That’s a lot of recipes. It doesn’t even include any of the recipes in any of the (46) cookbooks I have. And I love it because I get an unholy amount of glee from finding, collection, reading and researching recipes. However, it occurred to me that this is absolutely useless unless I actually try out some of them. Sure, I make plenty…I mean, that’s evidenced in this blog already. But I’ve barely scraped the surface of the glorious world of food stored away in my digital notebooks.
I wanted to do something about that. But knowing me and my propensity for utter laziness, I knew I’d need some pressure. So I posted on Facebook for volunteers to sign up to taste test some recipes and my friends, delightful fans of free food that they are, obliged me. Thus the Great Recipe Experiment was born. Continue reading
Josh’s office held a potluck this week, which his coworker Sophia was kind enough to tell me about in advance (Josh is not very good about giving me advance notice of such things…it’s often a, “Oh, honey, I need a dish that feeds 20-30 people for a potluck…this afternoon” kind of thing. But anyway…potluck! Apparently this one had an international theme, in honor of the Winter Olympics. Ooh là là.
Immediately I thought, “I’ll do something French.” It’s my usual fallback. I credit this to five years of French class and billions of hours spent watching Pepe LePew cartoons in my youth. That crazy Pepe. Doesn’t he realize that’s a kitty?
I had the perfect recipe in mind, too, something I saw recently on FoodTV: balsamic chocolate truffles. While technically a recipe from Everyday Italian, I consider truffles French. And even if they were Italian….still fits the international theme. Also: chocolate. Win-win. But then I actually read the recipe and realized it would take like 4 hours to make those things and there was no guarantee they’d come out right the first time, and it’s a weeknight and well—maybe those were better left for a weekend project. C’est la vie.
So now I had to think of a real dish. Go go gadget brain! So to speak. I scrolled through the 15 or so recipes in my Evernote cookbook that are tagged “French” until I found one for a Roquefort quiche.
Hmm. Quiche, you say? Continue reading
I found a recipe in Cooking Light for Strawberry Jam Crumb Cake. It just sounds scrumptious, doesn’t it? It looks pretty good too. I have the week off and you know I can’t go more than a few hours without getting bored and baking something. My immediate thought was to make cookies, and then brownies, and then I thought that maybe I should try and wean myself just a little bit off my dependence on the black gold that is chocolate and try something new. And I’ve never made a crumb cake before (as least, I don’t think so, and if I ever did, I guess it was so terrible that I blocked it out) so I figured, why not?
Of course, I didn’t have any strawberry jam because what fun is baking if you actually have all the ingredients you need? I did have apricot preserves, though, since I’d needed it for my spicy apricot chicken. Works for me. Continue reading
I decided to do an experiment today, sort of as a way to ease my way into breadmaking with teeny tiny baby steps. First, I ate a piece of bread. Two actually. On either side of a piece of cheese. Grilled. I mean, after all, if I’m maybe someday going to bake bread on my own, then I need to get adequately acquainted with it. So I ate bread. And then I made English muffins. They’re not really bread. I mean, they’re muffins. It’s in the name. But they’re bread-like and seemed like a reasonable amount of effort, so I figured, eh why not?
What I didn’t know, but maybe should guessed, is that English muffins are actually pan-fried first before being baked. That’s how you get that nice dark color and crisp top and bottom. Yeah. The more you know (and knowing is half the battle!).
You, too, can follow along at home now by going to Pete Bakes and checking out the English Muffin Recipe that I used.
His come out way better looking than mine, but with time, they will soon be beautiful. Like a bready, yeasty duckling who turns into a bready, yeasty swan with peanut butter on top. Continue reading
Recipe from Joy of Baking
Well, I feel joyous. What about you?
My love of chocolate, as you know, knows no bounds. This is a super easy and very fast recipe for a chocolate bundt cake, although I actually made a regular cake because I have a bundt cake pan but my bundt cake pan is…um…a castle. Yeah. So it seemed a bit…grand….for this. But don’t fear: while this is a small cake, comparatively, it’s big on flavor and happiness. Delicious delicious happiness.
Cinnamon Chocolate Cake
1 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c. soft butter
2 large egg whites plus 1 large egg
1/2 c. lowfat milk
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp chocolate extract (or use vanilla if you can’t find chocolate)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Beat butter and sugar together; add eggs one at a time, then chocolate extract, cinnamon and milk. Add in the flour, baking soda, salt and unsweetened cocoa. Mix until well blended. Spray a bundt pan or 9″ round pan with cooking spray. Fold batter into the pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes depending on your oven.
Top with chocolate ganache. Eat. Smile. Be happy. Share.
According to a super-scientific quiz on Facebook, I am well prepared for the inevitable (Inewitable!) zombie apocalypse and will survive for at least a month, probably more. And you know why that is? Because I watch my zombie movies. I will even admit to seeing Zombieland twice in the theaters. What can I say? I have a thing for watching Woody Harrelson kill zombies. Between that and my numerous viewings of Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead and many others, I know the rules of surviving a zombie horde: don’t get attached, don’t get eaten, don’t go in the basement or upstairs, to defeat the zombie you have to remove the head or destroy the brain and of course, rule number one: cardio.
Thankfully, all you’ll need to defeat these zombie cupcakes with is a hearty appetite. And maybe a pitchfork. Or a regular fork. These cupcakes were originally done by the Sweetest Kitchen and after I saw them, I figured—hey! That’s a cute cupcake trick that I can actually do! My friend Lindsay can decorate awesome cupcakes. Me? Not so much. I’m a pretty good cook and an okay baker but decorating? Not so much. I lack the artistic talent to do anything beyond rudimentary. So I was very excited to find these cupcakes because not only do I have an obvious, alarming and awesome affinity for zombies, but these are a tasty, fun and festive way to celebrate Halloween. Continue reading
So an apricot walks into a bar. Which would be funny if it weren’t so terribly sad, seeing that alcoholism runs rampant in the apricot population. It’s an epidemic. You can do your part to help quell this senseless march towards destruction by donating your dried apricots to a nobel cause: baked goods.
I love dates. I don’t get them often but they’re always nice. Oh, and the fruit too. The fruit is good. And I like to make date bars. Delicious, sweet, chewy. However, today I had a bag of dried apricots I purchased awhile ago and I figured, why not substitute them in place of dates in the bar recipe?
So I did. These bars are extremely easy to make, and fairly quick too. They’re also sweet, chewy and utterly delicious, with a nice crunchy crust. Oh, and alcohol free. Continue reading
I think there’s one basic truth in this world that we can all agree upon: macaroni and cheese is freaking awesome. It’s like pizza-even when it’s bad, it’s still macaroni and cheese.
There’s a de facto rule in my family that every holiday meal must contain at least one pan of baked macaroni and cheese. To not have it is a sin against God. And taste. And delicious flavor.
I do have a go-to recipe for mac-and-cheese that I like to pull out for such meals, and it never fails. But tonight, I was on my own and I wanted to make something that would a) use up some leftover chicken from last night’s sammiches and 2)have all my carbs, veggies and protein in one pot.
I ended up combining influence from my usual recipe and from this baked penne with cheddar and leeks recipe from Bon Appetit, and threw in a few other things I had on hand. Continue reading
I had difficulty committing to Brownies.
Not the delicious, gooey, chocolatey dessert. But the group–you know, kind of like kindergarten for Girl Scouts. I joined Brownies three times in elementary school. And I quit Brownies early three times. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the group. A lot of my friends were in it, and they were cool. But the group did crazy things, like sit out at an Eastern Michigan Football game in freaking November. Do you know how cold Michigan gets in November? Do you know how cold metal football stadium seats get in November? Also, they wanted me to sell cookies. I don’t sell things. I also lived in a bad neighborhood and am pretty sure I wouldn’t have been allowed to go door-to-door. And they made me wear a brown uniform that was pretty much a skirt, a vest and a sash. I don’t wear skirts. I didn’t then, I definitely don’t now. But mostly I quit for one reason in particular: the meetings were almost always on Friday afternoons, right after school and dude, I was missing Duck Tales. That was not acceptable. And in fact, to this day, I think I made the right decision. After all, my obsession with pop culture, television, animation and movies turned me into the girl I am today and provided the platform for my current interests and career.
But while I couldn’t quite commit to Brownies, I can totally without a doubt commit to brownies. Not quite to the level of love and adoration I have for cookies but still an admirable level of devotion. Continue reading
I have a pumpkin.
I have named him Jack. Jack the Pumpkin King. This has everything to do with my obsession with the Nightmare Before Christmas and absolutely nothing to do with anything normal.
Jack and I met this afternoon. I had just hefted the box containing our second-to-last (how sad!) farm share goodies onto the counter, opened it up and began pulling out the lovely produce contained therein. A couple more leeks, some celery, some potatoes….and then he caught my eye. I tried to pretend like I didn’t notice at first but really, how could you not? He was the greatest looking guy in the room–er, box. That nice round body, that firm smooth skin, that orange glow…
There was a pumpkin in our farm share. Continue reading
You know, I tried really hard to think of a witty lead in for this blog post, but I’ve got nothing. I blame it on Monday. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. [Edit: Thankfully, Sophia saved me with a hilarious new title that you can read above.]
But anyway, tonight we made calzones. Partly out of a want of pizza on my part, partly out of a guiltiness that I pasted a calzone recipe into my Evernote months ago and had yet to get around to making it, and partly because Busch’s has ground sirloin on sale. I figured, heck, at home we already had cheese, peppers, onions, garlic, spinach and mushrooms and tomatoes…all we had to do is pick up the beef and some pizza dough. AND we–and by “we” I mean “I”–could make enough for tonight and tomorrow’s lunch. Genius. Of course, once at the store, a few other items got added to the list, mostly due to Josh’s deep-seated love for pepperoni and pizza sauce. And then it came down to the crust.
What to use?
I mean, at this point, I’m feeling too lazy to make my own pizza crust. And by “this point,” I mean “I am always too lazy to make my own pizza crust.” But Busch’s only had (that I know of) frozen pizza crusts, and we didn’t want to wait for a dough ball to thaw. Nor did we really trust the canned Pillsbury pizza crust (don’t get me wrong–I am not a food snob (much) and and I have made more than my share of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, biscuits and donuts but pizza dough? In a can? For some reason I won’t go that far). And we didn’t want to venture to another store to get fresh pizza dough. So I did the only reasonable thing: I picked up a couple of pie crusts. Pillsbury. My reluctance to embrace pizza-in-a-can also does not extend to ready-made-roll-out-pie crusts. I’m a complex creature. There’s no point in trying to figure it out. Continue reading
I tried to think of a witty headline for this one but failed. Sorry.
I wanted to make Josh something for dessert. Josh loves bananas. I considered doing another batch of roasted banana bars but wanted something new. And simple. And easy. And cakey. And Josh loves cupcakes. So…well, that was that. However instead of putting the banana in the cupcake, I thought I’d try putting it into the frosting instead.
Because that works, right? Continue reading
So I continued my Adventures in Pomegranates tonight, using up more of the juice shipment I got from Pom Wonderful.
As you might recall, the last time we saw our intrepid heroine (uh, me), she had just conquered pomegranate molasses and used said molasses in creating homemade pomegranate barbecue sauce. Now join us for the next installment of this thrilling storyline as our heroine strives to harness the power of the pomegranate for good, or for awesome.
Speaking of awesome, cheesecake. Cheesecake. Yeah.
I wanted to create a dessert with the pomegranate juice and while the idea of converting my current strawberry tiramisu recipe into a pomegranate one was bandied about, I instead decided to make a pomegranate glaze. And the perfect conveyance for that glaze? Cheesecake. Delicious, delicious citrus cheesecake.
Now, granted, it didn’t come out quite the way I intended much at all, the cake part anyway, but that was mostly due to my own tiredness and inattention. Having made the cheesecake before though, I can indeed vouch that the flavors are fantastic. The citrus and vanilla really come through, and that pairs well with the sweetness of the pomegranate. A bit of unsweetened whipped cream could pull it all together nicely. Continue reading