Category Baking

the food around here lately

I bet you guys were thinking we haven’t been eating much interesting stuff around here lately, huh? Since I had a couple people mention they miss me posting about food, I decided to give it a go once more. We have been eating some yummy and crazy stuff! Although, I must say, I’m not near as vigilant about getting pictures of everything we’re eating these days, so you’ll have to settle with just the links.

We had a vegetarian friend over for lunch one day so I made these Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwiches with Fig and Honey. They were really more like dessert but so yummy. And perfect with curried carrot soup.

And for you gluten free folks, these are some of the easiest gluten free cookies I’ve made and they are SO yummy: Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies. Mine were about half almond butter too. Very crumbly, but it didn’t matter because they tasted so good.

Chocolate peanut butter cookies

A surprise hit were these Quinoa ‘Burgers’, which really aren’t burgers at all – more like pancakes but more filling. And they freeze well too. Sadly, I am not sure what to do about quinoa since it’s come to light that Bolivians aren’t getting to eat as much of their staple food source because of the rising global prices of quinoa. But the farmers are getting paid more . . . It’s quite the conundrum.

Quinoa 'Burgers'

Just in case we were starting to be suspected of being vegetarians, I made Balsamic and Whiskey Steak which then lead to the leftovers becoming Steak and Eggs for breakfast, complete with crispy hash potatoes. Naturally.

Steak and Eggs

And to ward of all the vampires we have in Austin, I gave the Vampire Steak a try. Nice and garlicky.

And another surprise hit? Balsamic Roast Beef. I strained off the cooking liquid after it crock potted all day and put it in the fridge to remove the layer of fat and then cooked it down to make a thick sauce and reintroduced it to the shredded pot roast. Much more flavorful than your standard pot roast.

And seriously, if you don’t think you like cauliflower, try roasting it. I could eat a whole head of cauliflower like popcorn when it’s prepared this way. I’ve been eating it several times a week. (And really, isn’t every vegetable better when it’s roasted?)

And finally, a little something Jude and I whipped up (literally) for dessert at a friend’s house, a Cannoli Tart. It was surprisingly similar to a true Cannoli and not very sweet at all.

Cannoli Tart

How about you? Any good recipes to share?


Brownie Cookies with Salted Caramel Creme Filling

Brownie cookies are already seriously high up there in my favorite things. Chocolate cookies with chocolate chips with a slight crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside. So fantastic already.

Brownie Cookies

But then you add salted caramel frosting and these things become epic. Seriously epic. Like, can hardly keep from making these every second of every day. Thankfully this recipe made enough filling to make several batches of brownies. Seriously, if you need a show stopper holiday cookie, these  Brownie Cookies with Salted Caramel Creme Filling are some of the best.

Brownie Cookies with Salted Caramel Frosting

 What are some of your favorite holiday cookies to make? Share your recipes in the comments below!


salted, dark chocolate, giant peanut butter cup

I love pinterest. Especially when it reveals food beauties like this one. A giant reese’s peanut butter cup sounds delicious enough and then you realize that it’s a salted, dark chocolate, giant reese’s peanut butter. Holy dang. Salt + Chocolate = happy place.

Note to everyone else – silicon tart pans? No good. Use a removable bottom tart pan. Otherwise you will end up like I did – unable to take the tart out of the pan. The crust is very tender, which tastes delicious but it’s not very transferable. Oh well – it didn’t end up mattering because it was devoured right out of it’s silicon home. It was so. Good. So good. It was rich and delicious – a tiny sliver was all your needed to get your fix. Or maybe two tiny slivers.

The only complaint I have is that this recipe took forever – you have to cool each component at each step. You make the crust. Chill it for a long time. Roll the crust out in the tart pan. Chill it again. Bake it. Chill it. Fill it with the filling. Chill it. Top with ganache. Chill it. But it’s worth it. Just set aside a fair amount of time to complete it!

Salted, dark chocolate, giant peanut butter cup

Chocolate. . . Mmmm.

Totally cheated on these – used a boxed mix and added sour cream. My brain didn’t have the capacity to bake from scratch on this particular day! But I did fill them with Nutella and make a Nutella buttercream to frost them with. So delicious!

Nutella Cupcakes

Chocolate goat’s milk ice cream. Funny story about this one. I went in to get Jude’s hair cut with my hair stylist (who is so cool she cuts his hair for free until he’s 3) and her client after us had just milked the goats at her kid’s school. They were going out of town for spring break and wouldn’t be able to use it before they left so she brought the milk in to my hair stylist, because she is also a chef (I know, right?). My hair stylist in turn, knowing how much I love food, asked me how much I would like. Does this stuff happen to anyone else?

I left with 4 huge mason jars of fresh, raw, goat’s milk! When I got home I got down to business of making this ice cream. Two batches actually. It’s better than your typical chocolate ice cream, I think that point has been agreed on by all who have tasted. I also made some goat cheese by heating the milk to 180 and squeezing a lemon in it. Strain and drain the curds – ta-dah, goat cheese! And I used the whey to make pizza dough. Nothing goes to waste.

Chocolate goat's milk ice cream

Anything I should be cooking this week?

what we’re eating

Anyone surprised that this is another pinterest recipe? I had been looking for an excuse to make a 5 pound chocolate bundt cake because well, I don’t know that it’s a good idea to have so much chocolate sitting in your house staring at you. But it is a good idea to bring 5 pounds of chocolate goodness to a group of ladies! This is the dark chocolate sour cream bundt cake with dark chocolate ganache. The recipe is apparently for a specific bundt pan that William Sonoma makes. I probably should have noted that before just proceeding with my bundt pan because there was a little overflow in the oven. Thankfully I had the foresight to put a baking sheet underneath the bundt pan to catch the drippings. Minus the minor overflow – the cake was incredible. Sour cream in a cake = awesome all the time. I’ll be storing this recipe in the ‘what dessert to make for lots and lots of people’ category.

dark chocolate sour cream bundt cake with dark chocolate ganache

This week in our local basket, we got some of the most beautiful roma tomatoes that I have ever seen. I decided to make Paneer and Tomato Curry with them and attempted to make my own paneer. Paneer is a really simple pressed Indian cheese that you make by bringing milk to 180 degrees and adding buttermilk. It separates and you drain the curds in cheesecloth for a couple hours. It’s pretty much ricotta with less liquid. I’m not sure that I did everything right with the paneer but it still tasted good and it was a nice vegetarian addition to our weekly meals.

tomato and paneer curry

I’m still singing the praises of the New Best Recipe Cookbook. This French toast is pretty much perfect and you can make it with simple sandwich bread, which is kinda ridiculous. I have never made a French toast that I want to eat again with regular sandwich bread – it’s always something fancy, like brioche, challah or some sort of raisin cinnamon bread. And then I was introduce to this goodness. It’s amazing. And simple. You should try it!

french toast!

I had made sushi at home once before, so we decided to give it a go again. This is nice for a couple of reasons – one of which is that you can control the sustainability of the fish. I usually have to turn off that part of my brain when we go enjoy sushi. . . Alaskan sockeye salmon and wild caught blue swimming crab were our ‘fish’ of choice. I wasn’t going to mess with raw fish. The most complicated component is the rice and I used Alton Brown’s simple straightforward recipe. Our other roll components were cream cheese, jalapeños, cucumber, asparagus, avocado, panko, wasabi, ginger, and spicy mayo.

sushi dinner at home!

Everyone rolled their own roll and then we all shared. It was pretty delicious. And I think it was pretty beautiful as well!


What have you been cooking lately?


put these in your mouth

Pinterest to my food inspiration once more! Fried goat cheese found here. I tossed the herb garden salad mix with some pomegranate vinaigrette, tossed in some fresh strawberries and toasted pecans. Quite the delicious lunch. And beautiful too!

fried goat cheese salad

And sometimes I just don’t want to make a cake from scratch. And so I don’t. I doctor a cake mix. In this particular instance, I had a Paula Deen cake mix that I got for pennies on clearance that I doctored. Sour cream and extra eggs make it divine. Doctoring recipe can be found here. I also had a box of instant pumpkin spice pudding in my pantry. Also found on clearance. Seeing a theme here? I mixed it to ‘pie filling’ consistency and spooned it into the middle of the hollowed out cupcakes. And then I made buttercream frosting from scratch. The best frosting I have ever made and it’s from my favorite cookbook of all time, seriously, it’s never failed me – the New Best Recipe – put it on your Christmas wish list. And flavored it with pumpkin pie seasoning and maple syrup. Not bad for a box mix cake, right?

pumpkin pie filled, maple cinnamon frosting topped, cupcakes


recent eats

Holy moly, I have cooked some good things recently and have not been sharing them with you guys! Instead of writing up too many food posts, I decided to just dump them all here into one post. You guys don’t mind, right? Let’s get started.

Back in July, I made some Beef Empanadas for a friend’s birthday party. I wanted a hardy, handheld appetizer and empanadas came to mind! Not to mention, I have been wanting to make my own empanadas for quite some time. These were surprisingly delicious and simple to make due to the use of puff pastry. The black bean dipping sauce was certainly a winner as well – adding a certainly creamy richness to balance all the spice in the filling. I eventually do want to try and make my own pastry for the outside, but in a pinch, puff pastry sure makes a quick substitute!

Beef Empanadas

When I saw this recipe posted on Budget Bytes, I knew I wanted to make it. I love yogurt marinated meats and this Chicken Swarma and Homemade Naan really hit the spot. I mean, homemade naan is freaking awesome – fresh grilled bread slathered in melted butter. Oooo. Yes. And then you add the grilled, yogurt marinated chicken and it gets even better. Yes please. Add some fresh summer tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce and you have an easy handheld meal!

Chicken Shwarma

So, I may have developed a little bit of a girl crush on Gwyneth Paltrow. This is a bit strange for me since I’m not really one to follow much of what celebrities do – their world usually doesn’t collide with mine often, but Gwyneth kept popping up . . . First on Glee (ohmygoodness, did I just admit I watch that show? Guilty pleasures!) and then on the cover of my Bon Appetit magazine. So I read her article and it turns out we have some similar interests: food, kiddos, music, sustainability . . . and now I think I really like her! The first recipe I made from her recipes was the Corn Vichyssoise. Cold, sweet, fresh summer corn soup with a dollop of sour cream = so refreshing on a hot summer day. Win.

Corn Vichyssoise

Next up, I tried her Mahi Mahi with Mango Avocado Salsa and it was amazing. I love the combo of avocado and mango over such a meaty fish. Such a great summer meal! I could see myself making this salsa to eat with tortilla chips too. So yummy.

Mango Avocado Mahi Mahi

Next up, Pioneer Woman’s Enchiladas. Ree really knows how to knock recipes out of the park. Everything I make by her turns out amazing (although usually pretty gut/calorie busting). So a couple notes – I made this for a friend that’s gluten free, so I thickened the sauce with cornstarch instead of the rue with flour that Ree suggests. This was my first time frying the corn tortillas in oil instead of simmering them in chicken stock and dang, that extra fat makes them extra delicious. We sliced some avocado thin and ate it with the enchiladas for the final win.

Pioneer Woman Enchiladas

I bought 16 pounds of cherries. Yes, you read that right. Sixteen. Pounds. On my defense, they were organic cherries that Whole Foods was running a special on for $2.99 a pound. So I bought the max you could buy and spend the next several days using the back end of a chop stick to pit cherries! This of course lead as much cherry consumption as possible. Enter Cherry Pie with Coconut Crumb Topping. We made them in mini tart pans so everyone got their own pie. Who doesn’t like having a pie all to themselves?

Cherry Mini Pie

Continuing on my cherry trend, I remembered a recipe I had seen on GoodLifeEats awhile back and went to check it out. Cherry Limeades quickly became our refreshing drink of choice. I made a giant batch of limeade and we regularly blended it with some ice and frozen cherries for a brief respite from our summer heat.

Cherry Limeades Cherry Limeades and Life Cereal

Whew, how’s that for a diverse round up of the food I’ve been cooking lately?!

What great recipes have you tried lately? 

Homemade English Muffins

You might be asking, “who is crazy enough to make their own English muffins?” Yeah. That’s me. I saw this recipe awhile back and I knew I was going to make it. I love English muffins – I eat them for breakfast and as snacks. I mean, you can put nutella on them. Perfect snack, if you ask me! I know a lot of you are intimidated by making bread. But really, look at that ingredient list – simple ingredients, give it a go! And you don’t even have to use your oven – you cook these on a skillet! Perfect summer time bread.

Now, I will add a caveat. I am used to eating sour dough English muffins, so I was missing a little bit of that flavor. Nonetheless, fresh bread is always delicious and these are great with butter, jam or a fried egg, bacon and some cheese!

English Muffins

English Muffins

1 cup Milk
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 cup Warm Water
¼ ounces, weight Yeast
¼ cups Cornmeal
5-½ cups Flour

Preparation Instructions
Combine milk, butter, and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. Warm until butter starts to melt, then whisk briefly. Remove pan from heat and allow liquid to cool to lukewarm.

Pour water into a mixing bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Stir gently with a fork. Set bowl aside for 10 minutes, or until yeast has dissolved.

Line baking sheets with waxed paper and sprinkle with a generous amount of cornmeal.

Pour cooled milk mixture into yeast mixture and gently stir until well blended. Add 3 cups flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Beat in remaining flour and salt until the dough is no longer sticky. Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and dust with flour. Flour hands and knead dough for 3-4 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes.

Roll out dough with rolling pin to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into circles (a tumbler or mason jar does well). Transfer muffins to prepared baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal. Cover with a dry, lightweight towel and let rise until doubled in height, 35-45 minutes.

When muffins have risen, heat a skillet over medium heat. Carefully lift muffins from the pan and place on the ungreased skillet. Cook about 10 minutes on each side, using a spatula to flip them. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before splitting (with a fork) and toasting them.

challah bread

Who doesn’t like challah bread? It’s eggy, a little sweet and beautiful to look at. It’s the perfect vehicle for nutella, French toast, or just a little bit of butter. I know, I know, some of you guys are afraid of making bread. It seems like such a long process and so many things can go wrong, right? Well, I really think you should give it a try – nothing tastes better than fresh baked bread. I mean it! And your house smells divine while and after it’s baking. Nothing like it.

I saw a recipe on my google reader one morning and it called for some challah bread so I decided I wanted to make challah. I had tried once before but with sub-par results. So I turned to Deb, from Smitten Kitchen to recommend her favorite recipe and I set to work. Only once I started measuring out the 8 cups of flour did I realize that this made 2 loaves of bread! Oh well, the more the merrier, right? I figured I would eat one loaf (well, share) and use the other for said recipe (which sadly did not turn out as spectacular as we had hoped).

The best part? I got to learn a new method of braiding AND use it on a baked good. Pretty cool if you ask me.


Challah Bread
Adapted from Joan Nathan

The secrets to good challah are simple: Use two coats of egg wash to get that laquer-like crust and don’t overbake it. Joan Nathan, who this recipe is adapted from, adds that three risings always makes for the tastiest loaves, even better if one of them is slowed down in the fridge.

Time: about 1 hour, plus 2 1/2 hours’ rising
Yield: 2 loaves

1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins per challah, if using, plumped in hot water and drained
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling.

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.

2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading, but be careful if using a standard size KitchenAid–it’s a bit much for it, though it can be done.)

3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.

4. At this point, you can knead the raisins into the challah, if you’re using them, before forming the loaves. To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.

5. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.

6. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.

7. Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take it out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool loaves on a rack.

Note: Any of the three risings can be done in the fridge for a few hours, for more deeply-developed flavor. When you’re ready to work with it again, bring it back to room temperature before moving onto the next step.

Basic Dinner Rolls

I love bread. It’s one of my guiltiest pleasures in life. I often find myself eating a couple rolls before dinner, several with dinner and maybe sneaking a couple more after dinner. I’ve shown you guys a great French bread recipe and even a couple recipes for rolls, but this one just wins it all. They are buttery, soft, flaky, melt in your mouth, hide the basket so no one else gets any delicious.

Drooling yet?

I am. And planning on making these again soon.

One of my favorite parts of the recipe is that it can rise for up to two days in your fridge. I like being able to put dough in the fridge and forget about it for a little while. It’s a good quality to have in a dough.

And you can thank me now because I’m showing you this recipe just in time for Thanksgiving (for more Thanksgiving recipes, head over here). I know I’m not the only one that likes to take the Thanksgiving rolls and stuff them with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Or am I?


Basic Dinner Rolls
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes 24

1 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
2 envelopes dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 large egg
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled
5 1/3 cups (about) all purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water (glaze)
Poppy seeds


Place warm water in large bowl. Sprinkle yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar over and stir to blend. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture is slightly foamy, about 8 minutes.

Whisk milk, 1 egg, salt and remaining 1/3 cup sugar into yeast mixture. Add melted butter and whisk until smooth. Add 1 cup flour and mix until smooth. Combine 4 cups flour and 1 cup chilled butter in processor. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add to yeast mixture and stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Knead in bowl until smooth dough forms, adding more flour if dough is sticky, about 5 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough overnight. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Butter twenty-four 1/3-cup nonstick muffin cups. Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead briefly until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Divide dough into 24 equal portions. If desired, divide each of those into three and place three small balls of dough into each muffin tin. Cover rolls with kitchen towel. Let rise in warm draft-free area until rolls are puffed and doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Brush rolls gently with egg glaze. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake until rolls are golden brown, switching top and bottom baking sheets halfway through baking, about 25 minutes. Transfer pans to rack and cool rolls 5 minutes. Remove rolls from pans and cool on racks. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Wrap in aluminum foil and freeze. If desired, rewarm thawed wrapped rolls in 350°F oven about 10 minutes.)