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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


For Christmas, I always make at least one tiramisu, which I bring to my cousin's house. It has become something of a tradition, and I thought I'd share the recipe, since it always goes over so well. It is one of those things that is slightly labor-intensive, but so worth it. It is also one of those things that is heavily customizable, especially with regard to the choice of liquor used.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Peanut Butter Pie (No Bake)

Here is an incredibly easy no-bake dessert that is great if you need a quick holiday treat: No Bake Peanut Butter Pie. It has few ingredients, and is a snap to put together! It has peanut butter, Hershey's Kisses, cream cheese and Cool Whip, all in a graham cracker crust. Pretty simple!

I have the original recipe from a "Hershey's Holiday Favorites" mini-mag from 2004, but it can also be found online here. I tweaked it just a bit, to be more peanut buttery!

Rocky Road Candy

Here's a quick and easy holiday candy recipe that can be made entirely in your microwave. It is a great and tasty treat, and especially easy to do with kids!

Rocky road ice cream was invented in 1929 by William Dreyer, who was in the ice cream business with his partner Joseph Edy -- and yes that is today's Edy's ice cream for those of you in the east, and Dreyer's ice cream for those of you in the west -- the ice cream is marketed under 2 names to honor both founders. As the story goes, William Dreyer added walnuts and bits of marshmallow (snipped with his wife's scissors) to chocolate ice cream. Prior to this point in time, the only ice cream flavors available i he US were vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, so Dreyer's new flavor became a hit. Dreyer and Edy decided to call the flavor "Rocky Road" as a nod to the Great Depression, and the flavor took off from there.

Gingerbread Bread Pudding

I love me some gingerbread. Normally, I make several batches throughout the holiday season, as well as the occasional gingerbread man and decorated gingerbread house. This year, I decided to add a twist and combine two of my favorite things, and make Gingerbread Bread Pudding!

I got the idea from Bobby Flay’s pumpkin bread pudding (which I would also like to try someday), but I tweaked the recipe a decent amount, not the least of which was making use of gingerbread, and using mixes that Betty Crocker sells, for added convenience!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Peanut M&M Cookies

This post is nice and simple, but a great, great cookie. My mom and I have been making them for year, peanut M&M cookies, in Christmas colors! The original recipe is based on one available on the M&M site, but I've slightly modified it to suit our tastes, and it is even better than the original!


I've been making rugelach for Christmas for a few years now, as per a special request from my mom a few years back, as they are one of her favorites. I happened upon this recipe from Ina Garten, and with a few modifications, made them my own.

Rugelach is Yiddish for "little corners" (although sometimes it is attributed as being related to the word "royal"), with the -ach ending actually denoting the plural form of the word. It originated with the Ashkenazic Jews of central and eastern Europe, who adapted the tradition of using sour cream in dough from the Middle East. The dough is typically sour cream or cream cheese-based, and it is rolled around a filling that typically contains nuts, spices and/or raisins. Sour cream-based rugelach is typically a yeast dough, while cream cheese rugelach typically uses eggs as the leavening agent. This recipe falls into the latter category.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chocolate Hazelnut Toffee Cookies

If Ferrero Rocher and old fashioned monster cookies did the dirty and had love babies, these cookies would be those babies.  Inspired by one of Giada's recipes, the end result ended barely resembling the original by the time I was through tweaking, but the result is a sublime mixing of chocolate and hazelnut, with a hint of toffee. The ingredients list is a little long because of all the mix-ins, but the cookies are straightforward to assemble.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Gingerbread Truffles (Gingerbread Cake Balls)

Because I'm on a roll, here's one more posting that is a cake ball variation. These are gingerbread cake balls, and I've been dying to try them ever since last year. 'Tis finally the season, so here they are, in an abbreviated posting, because I'm sure everyone is familiar with the basics of cake balls by now.

Coconut Cake Balls

Since my previous koulourakia post was for something quite labor-intensive, I decided to follow-up with a post about an easy holiday treat!

This entry is yet another of the many variations on Bakerella's cake balls that I've come up with over the years, and one I mentioned offhandedly as a possibility in a previous post. But they are good enough that I decided to give them their very own post -- coconut cake balls! This post is very short, it is really more of an idea than a recipe, but they are easy and tasty, and for some reason, I always associate coconut confections with Christmas, so here is the workflow:

Koulourakia (Greek Butter Cookie)

This is my second posted recipe for koulourakia, which are traditional Greek butter cookies normally served at holidays, particularly Easter, but also Christmas. They come in a variety of shapes, including twists and circles, and the following directions are to make the more common twist form.

Helpful schematic courtesy of my Uncle Jeff

For those of you who have never had the opportunity to taste koulourakia before, they are butter cookies, on the dry side like biscotti. They are meant to be enjoyed with coffee or at least milk. They are slightly sweet, with vanilla, and glazed with an egg wash.  And they are delicious, a simple flavor but one of the best around. This recipe is my Aunt Maria's, and it is hand's down the best I've had since my Yia-Yia's (who never wrote anything down, and unfortunately that recipe was lost).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Peanut Butter Blossoms

My mom and I have been making peanut butter blossoms for years at Christmastime. It is a well-known and well-loved recipe which came originally from Crisco, although my mom and I slightly modified the recipe to exclude...well...the Crisco. Instead of the butter-flavored shortening that the original calls for, we just use regular butter in a 1 to 1 swap. This doesn't work in every recipe, because while shortening is 100% fat, butter is only about 80% or so fat. However, for these cookies, a 1 to 1 swap of butter for shortening works fine, because of the added fat of the peanut butter. You can use crunchy or creamy peanut butter, but make sure it isn't reduced fat.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Easy Pistachio Chip Cookies

This is my first Christmas cookie posting of the 2010 Christmas Baking season, and I'm starting out with a brand-new cookie recipe that is super-easy but big on taste!

My Christmas cookie baking is fairly constant from year to year in terms of variety, but I try to roll out at least one new variety per year, to test. Sometimes, the new ones make the cut and transition to perennial Christmas cookie staple...and sometimes they don't. These pistachio cookies definitely make the cut, for both their taste and ease of assembly. Let's face it, when you are making many different kinds of cookies, convenience definitely becomes an important factor. I tore the original recipe out of a Betty Crocker mini cookie magazine, but it is also available online here.  The original recipe calls for cranberries, but I modified it, because I prefer chocolate!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake Pie

I. Love. Pumpkin. Pie. In fact, let’s be honest: I love pumpkin anything. But pumpkin pie is the very pinnacle of all pumpkin desserts as far as I’m concerned. I used to make a traditional pumpkin pie every year, but last year I went in a different direction, rolling out a brand-new type of pie, and haven’t looked back since. This new pie, the Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake Pie, is my definitive holiday pie. It is like three desserts wrapped into one, and although it might sound busy, this pie has the most wonderful blending of flavors that results in my favorite Thanksgiving dessert.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

This year, I decided to add some desserts to my Thanksgiving repertoire, and after spying this eye-appealing recipe on the Williams-Sonoma site, I decided to try my hand at a cranberry upside down cake. So with a few ideas taken from a similar recipe from Martha, I concocted my own version of this recipe that combined what I felt were the best elements of both, plus some additional mods from moi.

But before we get to that, let’s talk cranberries!

Honey Cornbread Muffins

I love multiple iterations of a holiday. You know, when you celebrate the same holiday several times in a given season? Take Thanksgiving, for example. I just celebrated it (with friends) last week, and I’ll be celebrating it again (with family) next week. In my family, because of everyone’s schedules and obligations, it isn’t unusual to celebrate Christmas, and then “Second Christmas” and occasionally “Third Christmas.” As an avid baker and budding chef, I relish the multiple opportunities to not only make the staples that people expect year after year, but also to change things up a bit or try out new recipes. Multiple holiday celebrations are like gigantic experiments where I can field test different creations.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hazelnut Truffles (aka Nutella Balls)

I’ve actually mentioned nut butter balls before, in one of my very first posts, when I was mulling over potential ideas for wedding favors. I briefly described a basic general process for making candy balls from any nut butter (I have seen peanut, almond, cashew and macadamia nut in Wegman’s). Since I made Nutella balls this past weekend for a party, I thought now would be a great time to go back for a recap, especially since I tweaked the recipe a bit for a richer truffle.

Nutella is a kind of gianduia, that is, a chocolate paste containing about 30% hazelnuts. The generic name comes from Gianduja, a marionette featured heavily in the Italian Carnival (the festival season immediately preceding Lent).  Gianduja the puppet (whose name literally means something like ”John the pottering man”) is portrayed as the archetypal provincial Piedmontese character, honest, loyal, with a love of good wine and pretty girls. Typically wearing a tricorne hat and brown coat trimmed in red, Gianduja is the official “King of the Carnival” in Turin, the capital of Piedmont. Gianduja the chocolate was also an invention of Turin, by the chocolate company Caffarel in 1853 (Caffarel, incidentally, still exists and is now a subsidiary of Lindt). In 1946, Pietro Ferrero, also of Piedmont, formulated a solid block of “Pasta Gianduja” for retail, followed closely by a soft “Supercrema” version in 1951. In 1964, Supercrema got a new formulation and name: Nutella; and today there are nearly 200,000 tons of it produced every year!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Zombie Brain Cupcakes (Easy Halloween Cupcake #2)

Zombies. Rotten reanimated corpses stumbling hither and thither in search of brains and other various human body parts on which to feed. I love them for it. Zombie movies, zombie games, zombie merchandise, I devour them all with a ravenous hunger that rivals any denizen of the undead. Unlike the other usual suspects of Halloween, such as vampires, witches and mummies, who can simultaneously be bad while exuding both sex appeal and style (don’t think a mummy can be sexy? Then you haven’t seen Arnold Vosloo), zombies seem to exist for no other reason than to kill. They are remorseless, they are ruthlessly terrifying, they are…not at all appetizing. And, at least for those zombies of George A. Romero’s fertile imagination, they are actually quite gross. I don’t want to see that on a cupcake, although there are some who might. But, there are ways to create a zombie-themed confection without resorting to decomposition.

Vampire and Slayer Cupcakes (Easy Halloween Cupcake #1)

Like my previous Halloween post on Quick Creepy Treats, this post and the few following it are not actual recipes, but ideas and directions for assembly of some quick Halloween-themed treats, in this case, cupcakes. But not just any cupcakes…vampire cupcakes…and slayer cupcakes!

In other words, 

Welcome to the Hellmouth. Or my kitchen. Either way. Now, vampirism is a cumbersome and complex topic, full of history and pop culture references. For just a bite (get it?) of vampire lore concerning that most famous of all vamps, keep reading, or scroll down to the pics to get back to the Buffy baking!

Apple Cider Doughnuts (Oct '10 Daring Bakers Challenge)

This month's Daring Bakers Challenge (my first participation in a while) was extremely exciting for me: doughnuts! I've always wanted to try my hand at doughnut making, and I even have one of those baked doughnut pans although I've yet to use it. For this challenge, I decided to give it a try, and I decided to fry them, despite having never deep-fried anything in my entire life. This process was a definite learning experience, but a lot of fun, and the doughnuts were super-tasty.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pecan Pie Muffins

Mid-October begins the official pecan harvesting season, and they are ubiquitous in baking and cooking throughout Autumn. I adore pecan pie, it is one of my Fall baking staples, so I jumped at the chance to try Pecan Pie Muffins -- all the goodness of pecan pie in a muffin form. 

Pecans, or Carya illinoinensis, are native to North America. They're called after the Algonquin name for the nut, "pekkan" which literally means a nut that has to be cracked by a stone. These nuts were very popular in America from the colonial period onward, and had some notable fans early on. Thomas Jefferson used to grow them in his nut orchard at Monticello, and he made a gift of pecan trees to George Washington, who henceforth began to grow them at Mount Vernon. Although they were grown on a small scale sporadically in America, mass commercial cultivation had to wait nearly a century for a slave named Antoine of the Oak Alley plantation in Louisiana to develop a method for grafting and propagating pecan trees in 1846-1847. This cultivar was dubbed "The Centennial", and was the first commercial variety of pecans in the world. Two of the original pecan trees grafted by Antoine still stand today at the Oak Alley plantation, which is less remarkable when you realize that pecan trees can live to be over 300 years old!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pumpkin Blondies

Hands down, my favorite flavor of the Fall is pumpkin -- pies, bars, cakes, soups, you name it, I love it. My Autumn baking season, roughly from September until Thanksgiving, is positively dominated by pumpkin in all its many permutations, and this post is no exception. Last year, I modified a pumpkin cookie recipe with great  success, so this year I decided to try my hand at some pumpkin bars, which are more like blondies due to their moist, dense texture. I modified a basic recipe from Martha Stewart, changing around the proportion of pumpkin, as well as the amounts and kinds of sugar, spices, and some of the mix-ins. Like my cookies, I added butterscotch chips to these in lieu of the chocolate chips that the original recipe calls for, because the combination of pumpkin and butterscotch is just too darn good to pass up!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Quick and Dirty Creepy Treats: Easy Halloween Food Ideas

Now that October is here, I'll still be posting Autumn-themed stuff, obviously, but I also wanted to get started on some Halloween-themed posts. So, for the next 4 weeks, my posts will be Halloween-centric with some smatterings of Halloween history and lore thrown into each post.

For this post, I am dusting off some really old ideas and pics (I was notoriously bad about documenting my creations before I became a blogger) of quick and easy Halloween treats that come together in a snap but are super fun to do. These treats are collected from ones that I and my friend Lauren made years ago when our lab hosted our Department's Halloween Social. Everyone in my lab pitched in and made Fall and/or Halloween-themed desserts, and this post is dedicated to just a few of them, the "quick and dirty" treats, to borrow a phrase we use often in lab. They are not very sophisticated, but they are cute and easy, and would make a great starting point for brainstorming new Halloween treats. These are all great ideas especially if you want something to do with little kids, because they are all decorating-oriented and not oven-oriented. For this post, we have quick Witch Hats, Critters, Ghosts, and Dirt. Unfortunately, I made these a while ago, so I don't have pictures of intermediate steps, but the directions are straightforward so this shouldn't be a problem. To be honest, they are so simple that, in most cases, you can just figure out how to assemble them from the pictures!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eat Like a Pirate: Tortuga Rum Cake

September 19th be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, which means we can all wear eye patches, brandish cutlasses, 'n yell "arrrr" 'n "avast" t' our heart's content while mutterin' about our mates and protectin' our booty.

I be completely unabashed in me love fer this holiday. It might only be 8 years ole, but 'tis already me fav'rit savin' only Halloween 'n Christmas (Ye can find out more information about International Talk Like a Pirate Day 'n any local activities here). This year, I be celebratin' by bakin' like a pirate, namely by combinin' those two thin's most often associated wit' pirates: Tortuga 'n rum! I present t' ye: Tortuga rum cake(s), potentially plural 'cause although I be usin' a mini-bundt pan here, I also include th' bakin' time t' make a full sized bundt cake.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Tender flakes of pastry interspersed with creamy filling, and topped with a sweet glaze with just a hint of chocolate, napoleons might very well be the stuff from which dreams are made.  Learning to make them was initially a little daunting for me, a baking hobbyist, because they look so complicated…and French…and professional…and French…but I’m here to say that with a few good recipes – and the help of Pepperidge Farm – anyone can make bakery-worthy napoleons in their own kitchen. And if it is a “wow” reaction you crave when presenting your baked goods to the general public, trust me, these things more than “wow.”

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mango Pie

One of my favorite fruit pies in the summer is mango, and conveniently enough, it is also one of the easiest pies to make.  The basis for the recipe (read: the ingredients list) originally came from my friend Shivani, and I then adapted the proportions of which to suit my own tastes.  This is a no-bake pie, requiring only a handful of ingredients, most of which are easily attainable. Mango pulp, unflavored gelatin, cream cheese, sour cream, water, and graham cracker crusts. I say “crusts” plural because this recipe will make multiple pies at once. The only unusual ingredient is the mango pulp, which comes in 30 oz cans. I use alphonse mango pulp, which I get from my local Indian store. This kind of pulp is already sweetened, so the pie does not require any additional sugar. If you are not fortunate enough to live within easy striking distance of an Asian supermarket, the pulp can also be found here.  Alternatively, you can make fresh mango pulp, which defeats the ease of assembling the pie, in my opinion.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cherry Pie with Almond Crumb Topping

This is my second cherry pie this summer, the previous being a traditional 2-crust pie. Having made a quick lemon meringue pie over the weekend, I was left with enough crust for a single-crust pie. And when I saw the cherries in the supermarket, I decided that now was the time to try the crumb-topped cherry pie that I had been pondering since the last cherry pie I made. I decided to leave the filling basically the same as my previous pie, I have reposted the ingredients below for convenience.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gluten-Free Boston Cream Cupcakes

My friend Dana, who is gluten intolerant, had a birthday picnic last month.  So, I decided to bake some gluten-free treats that turned out rather well, so I thought I’d share them: gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, and gluten free Boston Cream Cupcakes.

Unlike the cookies, which were from scratch, I decided to try the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix as a base for the cupcakes.  I hit upon the idea of Boston Cream cupcakes because I had read mixed reviews of the BC boxed mix, so I wanted to be able to dress up the cupcakes a bit, just in case.  And, happily, I discovered that both Jell-o instant pudding mixes and BC tub frostings are gluten-free, which took a lot of guesswork out of the filling and frosting.  Jell-o pudding mixes list “modified food starch” under the ingredients, and this is corn starch unless otherwise stated, Kraft is very diligent about listing allergens.  This opens up a ton of possibilities for flavors and fillings. Obviously, if someone is also casein intolerant, other arrangements for fillings would have to be made. I’m definitely not an expert on non-dairy fillings, but I’ve heard (although I haven’t tried it for myself) that the non-instant pudding works better with soy and almond milk than the instant.

Before trying the cupcakes, I searched around to find other people who had already tried the mix, to see if anyone had tweaked the box directions to get a better result, and I hit upon a fabulous resource, A Gluten-Free Guide, which has all manner of gluten-free info, recipes, restaurant lists, food reviews, etc. On this site was posted a review of the BC gluten-free yellow cake box mix, along with tweaks that the author said vastly improved the cupcakes’ taste and texture (backed up by reviews posted on the site). It called for adding, amongst other things, instant pudding and orange juice directly to the mix. So, I decided to give it a try, and they turned out better than I had even hoped.  However, and I can not stress this enough, pudding flavor does make a difference in taste, and if you can find it, I definitely recommend the French Vanilla pudding over the regular vanilla, for both the cake and the filling.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Triple Berry Pie. Make this now.

Wow. All I can say is, wow. I tried making a triple berry pie on a whim, not really expecting much from it, and I just might have found my favorite fruit pie. Ever. No mean feat, since it had some stiff competition from blueberry and cherry, not to mention key lime and lemon meringue.  But this pie has an edge, at least for my tastebuds. Not only that, but it is incredibly easy to put together. You can probably use any combination of berries you want, adjusting the sugar content accordingly, but I went with fresh blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

Cherry Pie

I have a confession to make. Prior to this pie, I’d never made a cherry pie using fresh cherries before. Or even frozen cherries for that matter.  I’ve always used Comstock cherry pie filling. But after making this pie, I can tell you that I will never use Comstock filling again. Not that Comstock pie filling is bad – it isn’t. And it has a home in certain recipes, such as a cheesecake topping. But in pie form, it tastes nothing like the real thing, and the real thing is fabulous.  This recipe, which I modified from a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen, is meant for sweet cherries. I searched high and low (too late in the season), because I had my heart set on making a sour cherry pie, but it was not to be. I couldn’t even find frozen sour cherry berries. Next year, I will make sure not to miss my local orchard’s sour cherry picking season, which is typically for 2 or 3 weeks sometime in the middle of June.

Cherries are “stone fruits” or “drupes”, meaning that the fruity flesh surrounds a hard pit, the endocarp that contains the seeds. Cherries are part of the genus Prunus, along with apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, and almonds. Most eating cherries are divided into 2 types: sweet (Prunus avium) and sour (Prunus cerasus).

Wild cherries have been considered good eats since prehistoric times, and the first known example of cultivated cherries dates from 72 BC Rome, where it was introduced by Lucius Licinius Lucullus who was, amongst other things, a Consul of Rome, brother-in-law of Cato and uncle-in-law of Julius Caesar’s assassin Marcus Junius Brutus. Cherries were first introduced to England in the 16th century by Henry VIII.

I made this particular pie for the 4th of July weekend, the “red” to complement the “blue” blueberry pie that I made. Like that pie, this recipe is for a 2 crust pie, although I have seen cherry pies with a crumb top before. And also like this pie, you can do up the top crust in a variety of ways, although I chose star-shaped vents to match the 4th of July theme and my Blue pie. I didn’t take many pictures of this particular pie, but you get the idea.

Blueberry Pie

As part of my summer fruit baking theme, and as part of a delicious 4th of July weekend, I decided to make several fruit pies, the first being blueberry. I love a good blueberry pie. In fact, it might be my favorite fruit pie of all time. It is mostly because of the flavor, but also partly because I am sentimentally attached to blueberries – my Yia-Yia had blueberry bushes in her backyard, and I was forever picking blueberries in the summer when I would visit her. Unfortunately, I dropped the ball with picture-taking with this recipe, and the cherry pie. In fact, for most of my 4th of July recipes: I was working so fast, I didn’t even pause to take good shots. But, the few pictures I have should give you a good idea.

Blackberry Cobbler

On her website, Ree had a debate about cobbler recipes. Now, I’m not normally one for cobbler, but when I saw her pics and saw how easy it was, I figured I’d give it a try. This recipe isn’t a true cobbler however, it seems somewhere between a berry buttermilk cake and a cobbler, I think. But it is nonetheless delicious, and pretty simple to toss together. I had been itching to make something with blackberries, so that's what I used, but you can use whatever berries you wish.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Banana Pudding, Bumped Up

Not really. It’s better, and easier. The original Nilla banana pudding recipe is an actual cooked pudding dish. Bah. Too much work! And just using boxed pudding according to box directions is okay I suppose...but it lacks something – unless you tweak it just a bit. This dish is a snap, and I’ve never yet met a person who didn’t love this, and I’ve fed this to a lot of people!

You will need:

  • 2 boxes of Jell-o French Vanilla Instant Pudding
  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 1 ½ C milk
  • 1 box of Nilla wafers
  • A bunch of bananas
  • Cool Whip

The choice of pudding is crucial here. French Vanilla, not regular vanilla. If you’ve tasted both, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t tried the French Vanilla, get it. Sometimes it can be hard to locate, not every store carries it, but it is worth the effort, believe me.  If all else fails, you can get it here. I use this pudding for cream puffs and as a base for napoleon filling as well. Yes, Jell-o makes a “banana crème” pudding as well – but trust me and go with the French Vanilla. Synthetic banana flavor is not the taste we’re looking for.

Oreo Balls, Patriot Style

I’m just going to toss these out here, because I’ve posted cake ball recipes numerous times, but never Oreo balls. They are part of the same culinary family, as far as I’m concerned, and wickedly easy. Even easier than their cake ball cousins, if you can believe that, because – get this – you don’t have to bake anything. I’ll say it again: you don’t have to bake anything.

And you only need 3 ingredients:

  • Package of regular Oreos (less 7 cookies or so), crushed
  • 1 8oz block of cream cheese, softened
  • Chocolate or candy coating for dipping

Summer Squash Salad

I have a friend. That friend has a farm share. Did everyone but me already know about these things? I didn’t, until I came to work at my present job, where all of my co-workers have a farm share. It is exactly what it sounds like – you pay for a share in a farm, and weekly during the summer, you get an allotment of fresh veggies, which constantly change depending on what is in season. It is a great way to 1) Make sure you eat your veggies; 2) Get exposure to some veggies you might not typically buy if left to your own devices; and 3) learn new recipes for said veggies. It really promotes seasonal cooking.

So anyway, my friend was going to be out of town, so he suggested that I pick up and use his farm share veggies for that week so that they wouldn’t go to waste, and I happily agreed. The harvest from that week (and imagine getting a comparable amount of fresh veggies every week in all different varieties), which was also conveniently right before the 4th of July weekend, included: cabbage, carrots, red and green onions, green beans, swiss chard, cucumbers, red beets, and summer squash. Lots of summer squash. As in 8 of them, a mixture of zucchinis, yellow pattypans and yellow crook neck squash. Now, I had managed to use up the cabbage and carrots, plus some cucumbers and onion making cole slaw and a pasta salad. The swiss chard and beet greens found a home being sautéed up as a side dish to some chicken. But what about the summer squash?

Sun-dried Tomato and Feta Pasta Salad

It is my firm belief that every picnic should have a nice, cold pasta salad. It is the perfect side dish to every conceivable bbq entrée. My first instinct was a tuna macaroni salad, but I decided to save that for another time. Instead, I decided to keep the pasta salad strictly vegetarian, and so I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten.
I wish I had better pics, but you get the gist.

Cole Slaw (KFC Copycat Recipe)

A good cole slaw is a must-have for any picnic. Personally, I love fresh raw cabbage, so a well-made cole slaw is one of my absolute favorite things.  But, prior to this past 4th of July weekend, I had never attempted it from scratch before.

So after hunting around on the internet, I came up with this recipe, which I found on Amanda’s Cookin’, but which is also posted on various other websites. This recipe happens to be a KFC cole slaw copycat recipe, and an excellent one at that. Make it the day before you want to serve it, and leave it in the fridge overnight to let the flavors mingle. You won’t regret it. Seriously, this is some good cole slaw, I got nothing but complements.


Now that summer barbecue season is here, I thought I should start adding some picnic-related posts. I made many of the recipes in this, and subsequent posts, for this past 4th of July. The first entry, BLT Dip, is a great addition to any bbq, or party in general. I brought it to two different parties during the 4th of July weekend, and it was a hit both places. My pictures are a little crappy, I was so intent on getting everything done for the 4th that I often forgot to take pics until it was too late. Hopefully you get the idea.

The recipe itself is very simple, I modified it from a recipe by Paula Deen:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Celebrating National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day

Today, June 9th, is a notable day in history. Let's look back over the years. In 1822, Charles Graham received the very first patent for false teeth. In 1902, the very first Automat opened in Philadelphia, making today the actual birthday of modern fast food. Additionally, Donald Duck (the only classic Disney character I like) made his first appearance on this very date in 1934. But most importantly, today is National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day! In celebration, I present to you: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Carrie'd Away by Cosmo Cupcakes

Sex and the City 2 opened this past weekend, and I went to see it opening night with some friends. Last year, my friends and I "pre-gamed" with some chocolate fondue. This year, I decided to make SATC-themed cupcakes: Cosmo Cupcakes!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Berry Buttermilk Cake

A slice of Strawberry Buttermilk cake!  

It's quick, it's easy, it uses up extra berries -- the Berry Buttermilk Cake! This is a great, light, fruit-based recipe for summer! I found it originally on Epicurious, paired with raspberries. You could use any type of berry however, and I made one version with sliced strawberries, and one with raspberries. Any berry would work here, including blackberries, blueberries, and (pitted) cherries.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Brownie-Bottomed Ice Cream Cake with Fudge Sauce

Ice cream cakes. They are, hand's down, one of the most versatile cakes imaginable. A home-made ice cream cake is a blank slate of endless possibilities for crust, ice cream flavors, fillings, and toppings.

This year, for my mom's birthday, I decided to make her an ice cream birthday cake, according to her specifications: brownie-bottomed, and filled with Turkey Hill Moose Tracks Frozen Yogurt. She left the rest up to my discretion.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Key Lime Pie

This is my third lime-related posting in a row. When I said that this summer's baking would be exclusively fruit-based, I didn't realize I meant exclusively one fruit! But who's complaining? Not me, that's for sure -- I love lime.

This recipe is extremely simple to put together and quick to bake. It originally comes from Emeril, and is a basic recipe very similar to others I have seen except for the amount of lime juice, which is a little more than the average recipe. Lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, and eggs come together to make a simple lime-flavored custard poured into a graham cracker crust, and a thin layer of slightly-sweetened sour cream and lime zest is smoothed on top after baking.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wasting Away in (Cupcake) Margaritaville

Margaritas are not my favorite drinks, although I can tolerate them -- especially raspberry ones. Let's just say that Jose is not always a good friend to me. However, I do love lime. I also love Cinco de Mayo, and baking things with a theme. So this year, I decided to bake Margarita-flavored cupcakes in honor of the 5th of May.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Key Lime Coconut Crumb Bars

My husband and I have this  deal, you see. He really isn’t into sweets, which is rather unfortunate since all I know how to do is bake.  He will, however, make an exception for several things that incorporate fruit, such as the thumbprint cookies from a previous posting. I promised, in keeping with the theme of the approaching summer, that all of my baking would include fruit until at least the end of August.
So when I saw this recipe on the Pioneer Woman Cooks, I knew I had to try it. After all, it’s Ree Drummond.  Have you met Ree? If not, then head on over to The Pioneer Woman ASAP. You’ll thank me. Not only does she bake, she cooks, and her recipes are insanely good, her writing is always entertaining, and her photos are gorgeous. 

Anyway, on Ree’s site, there was this darling recipe for lemon crumb squares. And it caught my eye, because I was just talking about lemon squares with my mother the other week. But we were talking about more traditional shortbread-bottomed, cooked pudding-topped lemon squares. Ree’s recipe is a variation that uses two layers of crumbs that are cousins to coffee cake crumbs, except without cinnamon…and way denser…and with oatmeal...with a delicious layer of lemon sandwiched between them. And then, the clincher:  Ree casually mentions at the bottom of her post that the recipe would also work for key limes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thumbprint Cookies (Strawberry Rhubarb and Raspberry)

Last month, my cousin Jennifer brought cookies to my house, delightful little thumbprint cookies. They were perfect, with their jeweled colors and melt-in-your-mouth buttery goodness. But do you know what made them extraordinary? My husband loved them. My husband, who is indifferent to almost all baked goods known to man, not only ate them, but pronounced them his favorite cookie of all time.


That was that, as they say. I've never had any desire to make fruit thumbprints before (I inevitably lean towards cookies filled with chocolate etc), but I immediately requested the recipe from my cousin, so I could take a look at it. A little searching turned up the fact that this recipe originally came from the book Williams-Sonoma Collection: Cookies, under the moniker of "Ruby Jewels."