Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Cold Night

Last night was kinda an intense night and BP II was not feeling well. Actually, he said, “It feels like my eyes are going to explode.” Anyway, we have guests coming in from out of town tonight for New Year’s and I have nothing in the house. Also, I have all the ham still leftover. With BP II in bed I forged out into the cold alone to figure something out for dinner. I thought I would be a good girlfriend and make some soup to warm him up. I wanted something simple and quick; I didn’t want to be spending my night watching this soup on the stove. I bought some carrots, celery, egg noodles and chicken stock. I have onions and garlic at home. That is the great thing about soup, you can just throw in some really good ingredients and it will taste great.

I came home and chopped the onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Added some olive oil to a big stockpot and sweated the veggies for about 15- 20 minutes. Seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. I also, happened to have some leftover cheese rinds and randomly threw those in as well. Then added the chicken stock, some water and a couple of bouillon cubes. When the veggies were soft, I added the noodles and some of the leftover ham. The result was really good. I think one of the best soups I have made. With a baguette it was a hearty and satisfying meal.

Next, I have to think about what to make for New Year’s dinner. UGH!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Poor Paula

I know this is terrible, but I love seeing people fall or get hit in the face.

New Year's Resolutions

I am not typically a person who makes New Year’s resolutions. I mean if you want to do something, just go out and do it. You don’t need a “new year” as motivation.  That logic has always bothered me. However, I look at everything 2009 has brought me and as bad as it is out there, with recessions and all the celebrity death’s, I thought it might be positive to set some new goals for 2010. I have made such strides with my cooking and I want to continue to learn and grow as a more experienced cook. I mean I have crossed major bridges, like the pie dough incident and the German potato salad incident.  Each one making me a little better or a little bit more knowledgeable. Now I know that it is always a good idea to have a back up pie crust in the freezer for just in cases. Sometimes things just don’t work out. And French onion soup. I have always wanted to learn to make a French onion soup and I thought it was going to be difficult and such a process, but really it was great. I guess learning to just try things is half the battle. Anyhoo, I have compiled a list of things that I would like to make in 2010. Well, it started out as dishes that I would like to make but then that became too difficult so I broadened the parameters a bit.

1.)Learn to make gnocchi 
2.)Make a real ragu that you have to simmer on the stove for hours 
3.)Find a really good pan sauce that works with all kinds of meat 
4.)Make a homemade pesto without a food processor 
5.)Make my Nana’s perogies 
6.)Learn to make bread 
7.)Find some healthier alternatives for my cooking 
8.)Make ravioli 
9.)Make something that requires real ginger root. It has been sitting in my kitchen forever  
10.) A real good lasagna

Be Prepared

This was my Christmas gift. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Domain Name!

Please set your favorites to

Is Your Meat Done?

We have all wondered when is my meat done? You don’t want to cut into the meat o all the juices run out before resting and it leaves you with a dry piece of meat. But you also done want to be serving uncooked meat and run the risk of making people sick. The more and more I cook, it becomes easier for me to tell when something is done. I do have a meat thermometer to take the guess work out entirely but it is not digital and takes FOREVER. Therefore I tend to leave it in my utensil drawer. I find beef is the easiest to tell by look and touch. The firmer the meat, the more done the beast is. I found a great video on how to tell with your hand and have embedded it below. Happy cooking!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hello Neighbors

Every year I like to make a little something for my neighbors. In New York, you live so close to people but never talk to them. I have 3 neighbors but really have no idea who they are. Where do they work? Are they married? Where are they from? Completely unknown. Anyway, I decided to make some cookies and say hi. And would you believe that not one was home.

I figured that the ginger snap cookies, butter cookies and chocolate cover pretzels would be a good mix. I also decided to do this last Saturday, you know the day of the BLIZZARD! I thought I would be snowed in and maybe never see my family again. Well, this was a complete overstatement and everyone and fun of me for going to the store and buying $120 worth of food and not venturing outside.

I started with the chocolate covered pretzels because I thought they would be easy. WRONG! I do not have a double boiler so I thought I didn’t need one and instead up a Pyrex glass bowl over a pot of boiling water. The bowl didn’t exactly fit correctly but I went with it anyway. Needless to say water started boiling over and was a mess. I then switched to a smaller pot but that ended up being too small. A tried a 3rd pot which worked but the chocolate was not melting. Then I remembered seeing the barefoot add some cream to the chocolate and it worked. The chocolate started to smooth out. I was afraid the chocolate wouldn’t harden but after letting them sit out for an hour and then putting them in the fridge, they hardened right up.

Next time I think I will use milk chocolate instead of semi sweet.

I tried the butter cookies next because I thought sugar cookies are a bit overdone. These were plain but I liked them and I got make shapes- if I hade some cookie cutters. Unfortunately, I don’t have any cookie cutters so just a plain unimaginative circle for these. :)


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sifted sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Sift together flour and salt into a bowl.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the butter and mix on medium-high until fluffy and light. Add the sugar and the eggs, 1 at a time, until and mix until combined. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour to the butter, sugar, egg mixture. Mix until batter looks smooth. Place dough onto a flowered cutting board and cut the dough into quarters, flatten and wrap with the plastic. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

With a rolling pin covered in flour, roll out dough quarters 1 at a time, on a floured work surface to 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. Use a variety of cutters to cut out cookies. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment and space cookies about 1 1/2-inches apart.

Bake cookies until they are golden brown, about 8 minutes. Using a using a spatula, transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.

Pan Roasted Tomatoes

Finally, was the pan roasted tomatoes. I think these would have been really good if it was summer and tomatoes were in season and my basil did not brown so damn fast. But I really like tomatoes so I might be biased.

Garlic and Herb Tomatoes

3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
2 pints cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Heat the olive oil in a saute pan large enough to hold all the tomatoes in one layer. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to loose their firm round shape. Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped basil and parsley and serve hot or at room temperature.

Cheese Biscuits

Next, was cheese biscuits. These were ok but I will probably not make them again. They were a little too floury or something. Biscuits might be something to stick with Pauls Dean on. I bet she makes great fattening biscuits.

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
1 cold extra-large egg
1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk
Maldon sea salt, optional


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas.

Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. With the mixer still on low, quickly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar with small handful of flour and, with the mixer still on low, add the cheese to the dough. Mix only until roughly combined.

Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly about 6 times. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 10 by 5 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with salt, if using, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through. Serve hot or warm.

Mac and Cheese

Next up Mac and cheese. This was good but I think I should have used more salt. Did you get what I was doing? Ham and cheese? Get it? Ok I know I am a huge nerd.

I used store bought bread crumbs instead of making my own. Also, cooked bacon the regular way- in a pan. I tried to save the bacon fat like I saw BP II’s mom do only to have the glass container break in half from the heat.

Grown Up Mac and Cheese (thanks Ina)

4 ounces thick-sliced bacon
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
2 cups elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
3 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
2 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil leaves


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and arrange the bacon in 1 layer on the baking rack. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is crisp. Remove the pan carefully from the oven - there will be hot grease in the pan! Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and crumble when it is cool enough to handle.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt the butter in a medium pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or 2 more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon and stir well. Pour into 2 individual size gratin dishes.

Place the bread slices in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Add the basil and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Christmas Ham

I have never made a ham before but thought it would be something good to try for Christmas dinner. It is traditional and BP II turns out is a huge ham fan, although he did not tell me this until I already planned the menu. Anyway, I looked for a good ham recipe and came across this on from Emeril. Again, I think it would have been much better if I had scored the ham correctly but that is a lesson for next time. BP II thought it was very good but I realized that I do not like ham.

The other reason I wanted to make a ham was now I have all these leftovers to make soup with. Yay!


1 (12 to 15-pound) fully cooked bone-in ham
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 (2-liter) bottle cola
3/4 cup cherry preserves or jelly
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons orange flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier) ( I left this out)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Trim rind and excess fat from the ham, leaving a 1/4-inch thick layer of fat. With a sharp knife, score the fat in a diamond pattern. Place the ham in large roasting pan and sprinkle with the allspice. Pour the cola into the pan and bake uncovered 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting every 15 minutes with the pan juices.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the cherry preserves, orange juice, and liqueur over medium heat and cook, stirring, until melted, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the ham from the oven and brush the top and sides with the cherry glaze. Return the ham to the oven and bake, brushing with pan juices and glaze every 15 minutes and tenting the ham with foil if browning too quickly, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of ham without touching the bone registers 140 degrees F, about 15 to 30 minutes.

Remove the ham from oven and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I also got this article from Bon appetite for scoring a ham:

Whole, fully cooked ham comes with the rind partially trimmed and a white layer of fat covering the meat. Don't remove the fat layer—it flavors the roast and keeps it moist during cooking.

However, the fat does need to be scored, or lightly cut, before cooking so that it crisps up as the meat roasts. The easiest way to do this is with a small chef's knife. Make crosshatches about 1/3 inch deep and spaced an inch or so apart, creating a diamond pattern over the entire surface.

The crosshatches will help the fat to crisp up, and a pretty diamond pattern will emerge during roasting. It's easiest to slice the ham roast with the fat still on, and let diners work around the fat. Also, if there are leftovers to be stashed in the fridge, the cap of fat will keep the meat moist. If you do choose to remove the fat, pry your fingers underneath the cap of fat and pull gently

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Dinner

BP II and I will not be spending Christmas together and therefore we decided to celebrate Christmas this Sunday, just the two of us. I wanted to make a big dinner with all the trimmings to celebrate. I was so excited. We woke up super early (like 8:00 and anyone that knows me knows that I do not get up at 8:00) and opened our gifts under the tree. (I received a pretty blue Dutch oven… yay!) I completely understand if you are nauseated at this point because I know it is completely obnoxious how much we got into this but bear with me.

I started dinner around 3:30 for a 7:30 dinner and the menu was ambitious: Cherry glazed coca-cola ham, grown up mac and cheese, cheddar biscuits, pan roasted tomatoes and Pecan pie. I thought I had planned it out well and things would all be done around the same time, ending with me popping in the pie before we start dinner. OMG!

The ham needed to be scored and in the oven for 3 hours and basted every 15 minutes. I have never scored a ham before but saw Alton Brown do it once on the food network. It looked easy enough. In hindsight, I think I scored a little too deep because the ham was dry in those parts. Lesson Learned. I also had to call my aunt to find out what it meant when the recipe says “remove excess fat.” The whole ham looks a little fatty. Anyway, the advice given to me was - you would know what excess fat to remove. If it doesn’t look right, or you see something that you wouldn’t want your food to cook with, remove it. Ham is in.

The 2 hour timer mark goes off and now it is time for the heavy cooking. The next thing to start is the grown up mac and cheese. I brown the bacon and move on to the cheese mixture. I start heating the milk in one pan and melting the butter in another. I was so afraid that the milk would begin to boil, I added the flour to early and the butter mixture was a little lumpy. I added the warm milk anyway, because I am the kind of person that just goes for it. The milk mixture never fully thickened and there were lumps of butter and flour that would not go away. I decided to cut my losses and strain the milk into a bowl and try the roux again. This time success. I removed from heat and added the cheese and bacon. Popped this bad boy in the oven with the ham and on to the pie. I take the pie crust out of the fridge to let it soften a bit. (I made the pie dough the night before) All of a sudden I hear this sizzling sound and smoke coming from my oven. WTF! I open my oven and see the mac and cheese is boiling over! Quickly, I put a sheet pan under the mac and cheese pan and this stops the sizzling. My oven is still smoking.

It is right about now that I cut my finger. It is small but continues to bleed non-stop!

Back to the pie dough. I am rolling this dough and it is just not coming out right. It gets too sticky and I can’t get it up from the board or it keeps ripping into pieces. I am starting to freak out. Why can I not get this to work? BP II comes over and asks if he can help and in my Linda Blair Exorcist voice I scream that I am fine and leave me alone. He persists and simultaneously the pie crust falls apart yet again and for a single moment I just loose it. I throw pie crust everywhere. Two big heaping handfuls of pie dough go flying threw the air and hit a kitchen wall. Yes, I threw a temper tantrum at the age of 23. BP II tired to console me but I just needed a minute to wallow. I cleaned up my pie dough and threw it all away. After a minute of regrouping, I started again. Made a whole new pie dough and put it in the fridge to chill. Then went over to BP II to apologize, he just laughed and said, “I always knew you were a little crazy.”

I would just like to mention that during all of this, I am basting the ham every 10 minutes.

On to the cheese biscuits. I have 30 minutes until it is time for my ham and mac and cheese to come out. The plan is to rest the ham while the biscuits bake and just cover the mac and cheese and hope for the best. The recipe states to use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, which I don’t have and therefore resort to using my hand mixer. Needless to say biscuit mixture flew all over my kitchen – On my front door, the bedroom, like everywhere. I had already had my mental breakdown, so I just continued on. At this point, I have also run out of bakeware. I have nothing to cook these damn biscuits on. I have to wait for the mac and cheese to come out of the oven before I can start these biscuits. Timer goes off, I rest the ham and wash the baking sheet for the biscuits. Pop in the oven. 30 minutes to dinner.

Pie crust, round two is next. I am not sure why the pie dough was not cooperating this day. It could have been how hot my apartment was at this point or how dry the air was. I am not really sure. BP II wanted me to note that because of these unforeseen circumstances; it might be good to keep a ready made pie shell in the freezer at all times. For everyone’s sanity. This pie dough was a little better this time but not much. I did manage to get it in the pie pan and piece together the breaking parts. After that it was pretty easy to combine and get ready to pop in the oven.

Finally, the pan roasted tomatoes. The only real issue was the basil went brown on me. I am not sure how or why but I bought bright green basil on Friday and by Sunday, it was brown. I tasted it and it was fine just not very pretty or as crisp. Luckily these were really easy and I could just coast. Dinner is finally ready.

I had planned to put on a dress and make-up for this dinner. You know make it special but by the time it was done, I just wanted to eat. You know what I mean?

Cooking Club Pics without Recipes

Kristen K.'s Little Sister's Lasagna

Karen's Spicy Mac & Cheese

KLamp's Mac and Cheese

Kristen C.’s Sloppy Turkey Joes


2 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
1 package, 1 1/3 lb of ground turnkey breast or lean ground turkey
½ red onion
½ red bell pepper
2 TBL of brown sugar
1 TBL or Worchester sauce
1 cup of tomato sauce
4 crusty sandwich rolls, split
Seasoning blend of equal parts black pepper, ground mustard, onion powder, garlic powder


1.) Heat oil in the pan and brown turkey. Chop red onion and bell pepper, add to meat

2.) In a small bowl, combine seasoning blend, brown sugar, Worchester sauce and the tomato sauce. Then pour over meat and veggies.

3.) Simmer for about 10 minutes on low. If the mixture looks a little thin, add some ketchup to thicken.

4.) Serve on buns.

I thought the Sloppy Joe was a super cute idea. The picture does not do it justice. I am so sorry I forgot my camera and had to use my stupid phone. Well, it is a sloppy joe and it is hard to make pretty but these were yummy and very comforting.

Cooking Club: 2nd Meeting

Please don’t hate me; I know that I have been away for awhile. I don’t really even have an excuse, just absent and maybe a little hungover. Anyways, I have so much to blog about. First there was the second cooking club meeting. Which went off spectacularly. Comfort food was delish and even the double mac and cheese was fantastically different and comforting. Unfortunately, I did not get everyone recipes this time around so I will just have to show the pic.

I will start with my cinnamon buns. This is a great recipe to have in your repertoire. Make the dough ahead and in the morning just pop them in the oven. I actually made these twice. The first time was after ice skating, a couple friends came over to hang out. ( I made them play monopoly with me) I knew I had cooking club the next day and wanted to try my recipe out to see if I had to make any tweaks. I must say the only downside was the waiting. I had to wait for the yeast to rise and then wait for the buns to rise. Lots of waiting. That’s why if you make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate; it should be so bad.

Also, this was the first time I used yeast and I was a little unsure of how it was supposed to work. I put the little guys in a bowl with sugar and lukewarm water and waited (yes lots of waiting) for the bubbles to form. The first package, the yeast kinda stuck together and was clumpy. I figured that was not correct so I tried the second package. That combined a little more nicely.

The first time I made these, they turned out perfect. When I made them for the cooking club however, they were a little dry and burnt on the bottom.

Cinnamon Buns


For the dough :
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
3.5-4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts, lightly toasted
 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

/3 cup icing sugar
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
3 teaspoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon


To make the dough, dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Set aside for about 5 minutes until foamy. Meanwhile, warm the milk in a saucepan. Add the butter, remaining sugar, and salt, and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat.

Sift 3 cups of flour into a large bowl. Add the yeast, warm milk mixture, and the egg, and stir to make a dough. Knead for 10 minutes on a lightly floured board, incorporating more dough as necessary, until the dough is soft, silky, and pliable. Form into a ball. Place in a buttered bowl and turn to coat the dough all over. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise until twice its original size. This will take about 2 hours. At this point, the dough can be left overnight in the fridge, ready to use the next morning. When well risen, punch down the dough, then leave to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, butter a baking sheet. Prepare filling by mixing the sugar, cinnamon, and nuts in a small bowl.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle measuring about 12 x 9 inches. Brush with the melted butter. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, pressing it in slightly. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll, starting at one long side. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll across into 12 equal slices. Arrange the rolls, cut-side up, on the prepared baking sheet. Allow to rise, covered, for at least 40 minutes until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until well risen and golden. While the buns are in the oven, prepare the glaze. Sift the confectioners' sugar into a bowl. Whisk in the melted butter and enough milk to make a thick but pourable mixture. When the buns are ready, remove from the oven. Pour the glaze over them and leave to set for a few minutes before devouring.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Butterscotch Cream Cheese Blondies

I began with an Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterscotch Bars recipe from the foodnetwork and in the end made something of my own due to lack of equipment and incorrect ingredients. I was looking for a treat to bring into work because once again I was being harassed. Everyone always wants my Guinness cupcakes but I like to try and make different things. It is so boring to keep making the same thing and besides haven’t they figured out they are my guinea pigs? Anyway, I found this recipe on that was supposed to be a butterscotch cream cheese cake. I love cheese cake but I am hesitant to make one because I am afraid that I’ll eat the whole thing and that is no good for anyone. So I have tried some different recipes that sound promising, like chocolate chip cheesecake bars but they always leave something to be desired. Anyway, I decided to give this one a go.

I went to the store and picked up everything I needed. When I got home, I started the oven and was getting everything ready and then I read the directions. This recipe needs a food processor. I determine that is can not be too difficult without one and I was correct, the hardest part was chopping the butterscotch chips with a knife. (which BP II took care of for me) I think the idea was to make a crumble like mixture and use it as a crust as well as a topping. I thought it would be better to melt the butter and really make it like a cheesecake crust, which turned out incredibly well if I do say so myself. The error was in buying evaporated milk instead of condensed milk. Sadly, I didn’t even realize my error until I mixed it with the cream cheese and saw the consistency. It was like whole milk. I am pretty sure it was supposed to be thicker. I figured I would just go for and see what happens. I tried putting the topping on this liquid mixture but it just sank. (I bet it was because I melted the butter and made this non-floating concoction)

When I took the bars out of the oven, I thought things had gone terribly wrong. It looked odd. I let it cool for a bit and figured I would just taste a bit to see what it tasted like – awful. I was soo disappointed. After that it was time to call it a night. On my way to bed, I put the pan in the refrigerator. The next morning I decided to try it again and see if the cooling had helped at all because after all it was loosely based off a cheesecake recipe which tastes better cold. I was pleasantly surprised. The crust turned out really well and because it was sooo thick it was brownie consistency. I did think that the cream cheese filling could use some sugar but I brought them to work anyway. I told them these were a mistake and not to judge but the reaction was surprising. People thought they were good and didn’t need anymore sugar. I will be honest, they did grow on me a bit. These blondies were a pleasant surprise. I don’t think I will make them a staple like my Guinness cupcakes but definitely something different to keep things interesting.

My Butterscotch Cream Cheese Blondies


1 bag of butterscotch chips
8oz package of cream cheese
2 cups of flour
¾ cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
14 oz of evaporated milk
1 cup of butter, melted
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 ½ cups of rolled oats


1.) Chop butterscotch chips until very fine.
2.) Combine flour, oats, cinnamon and brown sugar in a bowl. Add the butterscotch chips and then the melted butter. Stir until butter is fully integrated. You might need to use your hands.
3.) Press half the “crumble” mixture into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350º, remove and cool for about 10 minutes.
4.) In another bowl, combine cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice and evaporated milk.
5.) Pour cream cheese combination on top of the crust. Slowly sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture on top.
6.) Bake at 350º for 5 minutes or until brown. Cool and REFRIDGERATE before eating.

Interestingly enough, I googled the difference between condensed milk and evaporated milk and it turns out these is no difference between evaporated milk and unsweetened condensed milk and they can be used interchangeably. There is a difference; however, between evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Apparently, sweetened condensed milk is super sweet. I think if I would have put sweetened condensed milk in my blondies, it would have turned out toothache sweet. So this accident might have been a blessing in disguise.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

French Onion Soup

French Onion soup is one of my favorite soups. I always get it at diners and I must say there is always variation on how good it will taste. Sometimes it is really good and warms your bones and other times it leaves something to be desired. I guess it is one of those soups that can be made several different ways. I have been hesitant on trying to make it at home because I wanted to be able to melt the cheese on top like they do in the diners and I was unsure whether or not my bowls were oven safe. After a quick stop to I found out they were indeed oven safe, now all I needed was a recipe. I looked at a couple and saw one from the barefoot and we know everything the barefoot cooks is delish. However, the recipe called for cognac which I do not have on supply. So I continued to look and found one from Tyler Florance. I was unsure but decided to give it a go. OMG was this soup amazing. Better then I have ever had in a diner. I highly recommend it. The only thing was that the soup was like molten lava hot. The meal was very satisfying if I do say so myself.

French Onion Soup


1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle ( I used like 3/4 of a bottle)
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 pound grated Gruyere


Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top.

Alternative method: Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Donation Jar at Work

Carrot Cupcakes

It was my co-worker’s birthday last Friday and since I have been away (jury duty… ugh) I completely missed it. I actually didn’t even know except it was brought up when I was out to lunch yesterday. I thought it would have been fun to bring in something to celebrate. Also, I was told they felt slighted because I never bring treats to that side of the office. Originally, I thought about making a cake but the thought of transportation scared me a bit. (I really need one of those cake carriers from BB&B) Then I thought about making little carrot cake cupcakes. I have never made a carrot cake and it was definitely something I wanted to try. I found a recipe on with a 5 star rating and decided to give it a try. The only problem was that the recipe used apple sauce and I have never used apple sauce as a substitute for oil. I am also not a huge fan of trying to make treats healthy. That is why they are treats, right? Despite my reluctance, the 5 star rating won me over and to tell the truth I have been eating so bad lately, making things a little lighter could do me some good.

I have never wanted to own a food processor so bad in my life. Grating carrots was a very tedious process and a number or times I ended up grating my fingers. Very annoying. I also did not feel like buying whole wheat pastry flour and used all purpose flour instead.

I thought the cupcakes came out a little dry and plain myself, but BP II seemed to like them. The icing was amazing as always so I was fine using the cupcake as a vehicle for more icing. So much for eating lighter.

Carrot Cupcakes


3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup natural applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

2.) Sift together the first 6 ingredients. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla and carrots. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in 1/4 cup of the chopped walnuts.

3.) Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

4.) With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and lemon zest until smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts. The cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator.

Spiced Cream Cheese Icing

4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
¼ teason of cinnamon
4 TBL of room temperature butter
1 package of cream cheese

Combine last 5 ingredients with a hand mixer. Then, slowly add powdered sugar until smooth.

Also, for a pretty application, spoon icing into a Ziploc bag. Snip corner and squeeze icing towards the opening. It is the poor man’s pastry bag and better yet, no cleaning afterwards!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Follow up Post

Chicken Stock

Despite the aesthetic disaster that was the roast chicken, the taste was very good. I also, could do so much with it. I first made some home made chicken stock by covering the bones with water in a large pot. Let it simmer for (well, I let the chicken simmer in water for 6 hours. But it was not on purpose; I went to a concert on Saturday night and ended up staying wayyyy later then I intended. Yes, with my stove on low heat and all things flammable removed. Not that I would have anything flammable by my stove anyway. When I cam back there was not much left of my stock and all that was left was a concentrated chicken concoction. I do not recommend making stock this way.) about 3 hours. Strain out chicken pieces and you have a beautiful stock left. If you happen to have some root vegetables and fresh herbs, throw them in too with the chicken bones. Then again discard after straining.

Chicken Pot Pie

On Monday after jury duty, I made BP II a chicken pot pie. The great thing about chicken pot pie is that you can throw all your leftovers in and make them taste like new. I love when that happens. I didn’t have much but I was digging around in my freezer and found some frozen broccoli. This is how you make it:

1 medium onion
1 TBL of butter
1 ½ cups of vegetable (could be anything from broccoli to carrots to peas, your choice)
2 cups of chicken stock
3 TBL of flour
1 puff pasty sheet
1 clove of garlic
Egg wash


1.) Preheat oven to 350º. Melt butter in medium sauce pan. Chop onion and add to butter and place on medium heat. You do not want to sauté these onions, instead sweat them for about 5 minutes or until tender. Chop garlic and add to onions. Cook for about 1 minute.

2.) Stir flour into onions and garlic. Add chicken stock and stir until sauce becomes thick. About 5 minutes.

3.) Stir in broccoli and scrape into baking dish.

4.) Roll out puff pastry and lay on top of baking dish. Make sure to crimp the puff pasty to the sides of the dish

5.) Add 3 slits on the top and brush with egg wash

6.) Bake for 1 hour and cool for 30 minutes.

Chicken Salad

On the last day of jury duty, I was done at 12. I came home and decided to make a chicken salad sandwich with rest of the chicken leftovers. (I know, finally I am done with this chicken) I stopped at Food Emporium and bought a chibotta roll for $.75. I love bread! I am a complex carbohydrate junkie and bread makes the sandwich. Anyway, when I arrived home, I combined the leftover chicken, cranberries, celery, just enough mayo to cover and a drop of lemon juice in a bowl. Then, placed in the roll, coverd with 2 slices of white American cheese and whalla! The best chicken salad sandwich you ever had.

Ok, I am now done with this chicken.

The Roasted Chicken Incident

I apologize for not posting but I had jury duty and no access to a working computer. Anyway, this has been an interesting couple of days. First off, Saturday BP II came home from visiting his family for Thanksgiving. I was so happy to see him and wanted to make a special welcome home dinner. I knew he did not have a turkey on Thursday, so I thought making a roasted chicken would be well received. When I went to Food Emporium I bought a whole bird because I thought it would be special and I can use the leftovers. I get home and get ready to roast the chicken, take chicken out of the wrapping, cut veggies, place in the cavity, melt butter and spread on chicken. As I am spreading the butter I noticed something odd. What is that sticking out of my bird? A NECK! WTF what is a neck doing still attached to my bird. Naturally I screamed. BP II comes over to investigate. I am freaking out and screaming for him to remove it. He tries but the bird is already stuffed and buttered (A very slippery little sucker) and of course still attached to the vertebrae, which is not easily cut without a cleaver (which I do not have). It was awful. I had this big beautiful bird with a little penis hanging off. Terrible.

The roasted chicken actually tasted really good. I sautéed up some spinach and mashed up a roasted butternut squash to finish the meal. It was almost perfect but this is my life.

Roasted Chicken

1 Whole Chicken
¼ cup of butter – ½ cup depending on size of bird
1 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic
3 thyme sprigs
3 rosemary sprigs
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper


1.) Preheat oven to 325º

2.) Roughly chop veggies and place in bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and combine. Place inside the cavity of the bird

3.) Melt butter and with a basting brush, rub all over bird

4.) Season with salt and pepper and tie legs together with twine. Tuck wings.

5.) Place in 325º oven covered with tinfoil for 30 minutes and then raise temperature to 425º and cook for 60 minutes or until chicken reaches 165º F. This time could be longer or shorter depending on the size of the bird. Periodically baste bird with juices. It is important not to overcook because you will end up with a dry bird.