February 7, 2012

Cherry Chocolate Malt Cookie Sandwiches

Cherry Chocolate Malt Cookie Sandwiches

I’ve never made a big deal about Valentine’s Day. It’s nice to get some flowers but I don’t expect anything else. We don’t even bother going out to eat on Valentine’s Day anymore because the restaurants are always so crowded. Besides, my birthday is less than a week later so it’s easier to celebrate both occasions then. But there is one thing I love about Valentine’s day, especially since I started this blog: it’s a great excuse to make chocolate desserts!

I decided to make some cookies because Brandon’s coworkers have been asking for more cookies from me ever since my epic cookie testing project last December. It’s definitely flattering that they liked my cookies so much, so it seemed like a good idea to keep them happy and to find a great recipe to post for Valentine’s Day at the same time! I found these chocolate malt cookies in one of my Martha Stewart cookbooks and thought they would be really nice paired with a cherry-white chocolate filling.


October 25, 2012

Apple, Pear & Quince Brown Betty

Apple, Pear & Quince Brown Betty

You know that saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Of course you do, everyone does, but I wonder how many people actually eat an apple every day? After eating poorly and—not surprisingly—feeling crappy all summer I’ve been making an effort to get my diet back on track and eating an apple every day was the first thing I decided to do. But not just apples, I’ve been making sure I have at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal. That includes dessert, too, which is where this wonderful Brown Betty comes in.

A Brown Betty is a dessert that’s similar to a crisp but instead of just having the awesome streusel-y part on the top you get several layers of it. Crisps are already one of my favorite desserts so a layered version is even better! Like a crisp, a brown betty is very simple and doesn’t take long to make. I’ve seen lots of variations but generally they consist of fruit and some kind of bread or cookie crumbs. I was inspired by …

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August 7, 2008

Sugar and Spice Cookies

Sugar Cookies

Have you ever seen two different recipes for the same thing and didn’t know which one to make? That happens to me all the time. Sometimes I don’t bother at all, thinking it’s too much pressure to pick the “right” recipe, but if it’s something that looks really good I might just make both and see what I like better. That is the case for these dueling snickerdoodle recipes that I found on two or my favorite sites: What Geeks Eat and Simply Recipes. The big difference between the recipes is the Shuna’s at Simply Recipes has cornstarch, while Vanessa’s has the more traditional cream of tartar. You can go read Shuna’s post about why cornstarch is special. Due to this different “secret” ingredient in the cookies, I found the outcome of both to be completely different tasting cookies.

If you are cookie dough connoisseur, the cornstarch recipe wins hands down. I LOVE cookie dough, but I could barely eat any of the other recipe because it was too flour-y. The problem comes after you bake them. The cornstarch cookies have a really nice …

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September 23, 2008

Pam’s Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti

I am all about comfort food. What I love even more is food that is dead simple to make and that stores easily. That’s probably why spaghetti is my all time favorite dish. Judging from how many brands of spaghetti sauce there are at the grocery store, I would venture to say that not many people make their own sauce anymore. This was one of my mom’s staple recipes and I don’t think I ever saw her use sauce from a jar her entire life. This was the first recipe I asked for when I moved into my own apartment during college and I’ve been making it ever since. I’ve tried jar sauces before, but I always wind up feeling like I’ve let my mom down. Plus none of them taste even one fifth as good as homemade.

November 15, 2011

Butternut Squash-Apple Soup & Gouda Grilled Cheese

Butternut Squash-Apple Soup & Gouda Grilled Cheese

It’s nearing the end of the year which means that I only have a few more deliveries from my CSA and I’m starting to get sad when I think about not getting that box every Wednesday. But I’ll definitely be signing up for another year and, thankfully, I only have to wait about two months since they pick back up in March.

I started this blog several years ago to become a better cook and put more effort into developing healthy eating habits, but joining this CSA has really been the final kick in the pants I needed to make that happen. I’ve probably tried more new vegetables in just the last 6 months than in all of the last 10 years. It’s been great and has helped me to finally convert my inner picky eater into someone who will try anything at least once. There’s still quite a few things I don’t like (mushrooms…yuck) but at least I tried them and I’ve even found ways to hide the stuff I don’t like so it doesn’t go to waste (mushrooms always go into my favorite spaghetti …

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June 20, 2011

Frozen Raspberry Pie

Frozen Raspberry Pie

Sometimes I worry that people think I’m way better at this while cooking/baking thing than I actually am. But if anyone is to blame for this perception, it’s obviously me because I’m always telling you how easy this or that recipe is to make and blah blah blah…look how great it turned out, too! Here’s what you should be taking away from any recipe I post on this site: If I can make this thing, then you most definitely can as well. Because the truth is I’m still learning and I make mistakes ALL the time. But the awesome thing about learning to cook is that the more you do it, the more you learn little tricks and shortcuts so that you can fix your mistakes and learn to steer clear of them next time. But even then, things don’t always go your way. It always sucks to waste ingredients, but you just have to stop, take a breath and start all over again.

December 21, 2009

Christmas Cookies!

Christmas Tree Cookies

I may have gone a bit cookie crazy. Besides my Peppermint Fudge Pinwheels, I have two more cookie recipes to share. Well, it’s more like one recipe and one technique, but I’ll get to that.

I’ve never been able to find a sugar cookie that I actually like. I’ve tried about a million and they all just taste blah to me. But I think that’s just the kind of person I am. Brandon told me the other day that I have tendency to put too much flavoring in the things I bake and that may be true, but I just want something that tastes like…something. I hate blah food. Even something that has too much flavor is better than something that doesn’t have any. But I think this is just that age old debate of people who like vanilla ice cream and people who like chocolate. Of course I choose chocolate! The only time I’ll eat vanilla ice cream is if it’s covered in fudge or caramel.

Anyway, I’m not sure I even have a point other than to say that this desire for flavor translates into everything I cook and share on this blog. I make a lot of stuff that I don’t share here because it’s boring or basic. I always try to find recipes that are fun (at least to me). Which leads me to these totally adorable Christmas Tree Cookies. They are fun and easy to make and did I mention how adorable they are? But that’s not even the best part of them. The original recipe was for plain ol’ sugar cookies, but of course I modified them! The best part is that they taste just like cinnamon graham crackers, which are my absolute favorite. And my boyfriend, Mr. You-put-too-much flavoring, actually said that these were perfect! And he hates cinnamon, so if he likes these cookies, anyone will.

Christmas Tree Cookies Christmas Tree Cookies

I bet these cookies would be fun to make if you have kids. You divide the dough into three rolls which you cover in green sugar, then after they’ve chilled for a while, you just sliced them up and bake. I think kids would definitely have fun assembling the little trees; I did and I’m almost 30 years old! These would be really festive and pretty for a party and they keep well in an air-tight container. As with all Betty Crocker cookies I’ve made (or maybe it’s just a personal preference?) I think these taste better the day after you bake them.

Christmas Cookies

The other kind of cookies I made are technically called Stained Glass cookies, but I’m not sure that’s really accurate, especially after I modified them. I have seen recipes for stained glass cookies that actually have a little transparent window of sugar in them and these are not like those at all. These are just your basic sugar cookie recipe, but you divide up the dough and color parts of it with food coloring.

You are supposed to cut out shapes with cookie cutters in the uncolored dough and then cut up the colored doughs into little squares and arrange them on top of the uncolored cut-outs so that it looks like a stained glass window. But OH MY GOD, that is tedious. Seriously, I did about 3 cookies like that and I was done. It took forever and the colored dough kept getting too soft so I had to keep freezing it every 5 minutes. I was about ready to shoot someone and that is not the attitude you should have when making Christmas cookies! It’s supposed to be fun, not mind-numbing. So I pretty much just gave up on the whole “stained glass” thing and just cut out circles and whatever else I wanted. Then I took the colored doughs and cut them with cookie cutters and added more little details. It was much more fun when I could just do what I wanted to.

Christmas Cookies Christmas Cookies

Despite all that work, the cookies that came out were pretty but they were blah. Just about the blandest sugar cookies I’ve ever tasted: they weren’t even that sweet! So I won’t be posting that recipe, but the technique is still interesting and fun (as long as you do what you want and don’t try to kill yourself being “perfect”), and it should work with your favorite sugar cookie recipe.

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October 19, 2010

Hearty Beef and Potato Stew

Hearty Beef and Potato Stew

I’ve posted a lot of sweet stuff lately, so I decided it was time to switch things up and post something healthier. Since the weather finally started turning cooler this month, I’ve been on the look out for some new soups or stews that I love as much as my chicken tortilla and chicken pot pie soups. Unfortunately, there are a lot of soups out there that are bland and boring, but after trying out two disappointing soups I was happy to find out that the third time was the charm with this recipe.