November 2015
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Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits


Buttery, flaky biscuits are one of my favorite things to bake. I remember besides Hedgehog’s Yellow Cake, biscuits were something I learned to make when I started baking at the grand old age of 8. I was so proud to make them all by myself! I’d like to think my technique has improved since then; I know not to over-mix the dough and to use a light hand when kneading. It also helps to have a great recipe and I know I can always rely on ones from Ina Garten. These lovely biscuits are flaky and buttery with the pleasing, savory flavor of extra-sharp cheddar ringing through. I made these for David’s Thanksgiving lunch at work, so I doubled the recipe and kneaded half of the biscuit dough at a time. I also cut them into thirds lengthwise, then each third into fifths, making 30 smaller biscuits in all. The recipe below is for 8 large biscuits, or 15 smaller biscuits. If you don’t have a stand mixer you can cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or two knives, then stir in the milk and cheese with a wooden spoon, still being careful not to over-mix.

from: Ina Garten
makes: 8 large biscuits, or 15 smaller 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 (I used Cracker Barrel Extra-Sharp Yellow Cheddar)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water or milk
Maldon sea salt, optional



Preheat the oven to 425 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 a 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. If you want to straighten the edges a bit, you can use a pastry scraper to push in the sides.



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 a little Maldon salt, if using.



Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through. (If you cut smaller biscuits, they will only take about 18-20 minutes)

Serve hot or warm. They are especially mouthwatering right out of the oven.





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Sweet & Salty Brownies


A deep, dark gooey brownie, with a miso caramel layer nestled between the chocolate-y layers. It’s delicious enough, but then those gooey brownies are topped with crunchy demerara sugar and flaky sea salt to finish it off. This heavenly brownie from Baked was featured on the Food Network, where it was praised as one of the best salty foods in the United States. Considering the positive responses I got when I made these, I think I would have to agree. Some people thought the amount of finishing salt made them too salty, so I took the original 1 1/2 teaspoons down to 1/2 teaspoon. However, feel free to add up to 1 1/2 teaspoons depending on your penchant for salt. This was the tastiest dessert I’ve had in a long time (and I’ve had a lot of amazing desserts!) . This may now be in my top 5 desserts- ever. To be fair to Baked, I exchanged their salty caramel recipe for my husbands kick-ass miso caramel which is also salty, with the added mystery of white miso. That caramel is so amazing we have made it 4 times so far to use in apple dessert recipes, as well a dipping sauce for fruit and pretzels. It goes really well in this recipe.

adapted from: Baked Explorations
makes: 12 large or 24 small brownies

miso caramel filling

2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup white miso paste


1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces quality dark chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped (I used Ghirardelli)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1/2 – 1 1/2 teaspoons fleur de sel
1 teaspoon coarse sugar

make the miso caramel filling

In a large saucepan (the mixture doubles in size when the cream cooks, so use a large pan to prevent boil-over) over medium heat melt the butter. Once melted, stir in the brown sugar and cook 3-5 minutes until the mixture begins to look like caramel. Add the heavy cream and stir to combine. Continue to cook the mixture over medium heat for 10 minutes, whisking constantly once the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and miso paste until combined. Set aside on a cooling rack to cool.

make the brownie

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored metal 9-by-13-inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.


Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water, and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler, and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove from bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.




Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this state, or your brownies will be cakey.



Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there is just a trace amount of the flour mixture visible.




Pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle 3/4 cup of warmed, but not hot butterscotch sauce over the brownie layer in a zigzag patter, taking care to make sure the sauce does not come in contact with the edges of the pan or it will burn. Use an offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie layer. In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently to cover the caramel layer.



Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs (along with some caramel).


Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with the fleur de sel (starting with 1/2 tsp) and coarse sugar. Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving. The brownies can be stored, tightly wrapped at room temperature, for up to 4 days.





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Sweet Potato and Apple Soup


Roasted vegetables are one of my favorite things to eat this time of year, whether it be sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, or butternut squash. When roasted then blended with stock, these tasty vegetables turn into a deliciously creamy soup. In this recipe, the sweet potato is the star of the show, with a few parsnips thrown in for fun. We visited a local cider mill last month and brought home some freshly pressed Honey Crisp apple cider which I used in this recipe. It adds a sweetly tart element that brightened up the soup. The original recipe called for green hot sauce, which I didn’t have, so I just threw in a few dashes of cayenne. This added a little bit of heat that was perfect for this warming soup.

adapted from: Food + Wine
serves: 6

1 3/4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice (about 2 large)
2 small parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
salt to taste
6 cups vegetable stock
1 cup apple cider
pinch or two of cayenne pepper
finely diced Granny Smith apple and minced parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375. On a baking sheet, toss the potatoes with the parsnips, garlic, olive oil and salt. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tender, and some pieces are nicely browned.


In a blender, puree half of the vegetables with 3 cups of the stock; transfer to a large saucepan. Repeat with the remaining vegetables and stock. Add the apple cider and cayenne and heat through. Season with salt. Serve with the diced apple and minced parsley.

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Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

coffee cake12

Holy Moly. This is one decadent breakfast. It’s rich and heavy and delicious. Serve with hot cups of coffee and your overnight guests will love you forever.

from: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
serves: 12 to 16

Lemon Sugar-Almond Topping
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1 1 /8 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup plus 7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest plus 4 teaspoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
4 large eggs
5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup sour cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened

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Witches Broomsticks & Vampire Teeth


My mom recently sent me an article that showcased some adorable Halloween treats, and I chose these two. Thanks Mom! They were a lot of fun to make and of course fun to eat. If you are looking for a healthier snack for Halloween parties or want something fun to make with your kids, these were a hit. They are easy to assemble and make cute and clever treats for your favorite little ghouls.

Witches Broomsticks

mozzarella string cheese sticks
mini pretzel sticks
fresh chives

Cut each cheese stick in half. Carefully slice 1 end of each piece into thin strips with a paring knife, like broom bristles. On the top of the uncut half, use the tip of the knife or a skewer to make a small indentation. Carefully twist a pretzel stick into the indentation to create a broomstick. Tie a length of chive into a knot near the top of the cheese.






Vampire Teeth

red apples
creamy peanut butter
mini marshmallows
slivered almonds
red jam, optional (I used raspberry jam)

Slice an apple into wedges (thinner is better than thicker). Working in pairs, spread peanut butter on one side of each wedge. Arrange a row of marshmallows on top of the peanut butter like teeth. Add 2 almond slivers like vampire fangs. Top with the other apple wedge, nut butter side down. For an extra-spooky twist, coat the tips of the “fangs” with red jam using the tip of a knife.





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Spicy Rosemary Cashews


These nuts are addictive. They make an easy and tasty appetizer, party favor, hostess gift, or holiday treat. I like to have a bowl on the table for game nights with friends.



from: Peace Meals
makes: 3 1/2 cups

1 pound whole unsalted roasted cashews
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chile de arbol
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the cashews on a rimmed baking sheet and heat in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl to form a paste. Add the warm cashews and mix gently until evenly coated. May be served warm or at room temperature.



* ground, dried chile de arbol is a great substitute for cayenne pepper. It is still spicy, but I think it has a little more flavor. It is a rung lower on the Scoville scale, but freshly ground chile de arbol can be just as spicy as cayenne that has been sitting on the shelf for a while. If I ever use dried chiles in a recipe, I usually like to grind up the rest for use in other recipes. A second or old coffee grinder is great for grinding spices and dried chiles. Just make sure to keep it separate from your regular coffee grinder.



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Grilled Fennel and Orange Salad with Almonds & Mint

fennel salad4

I do love vegetables, but if pressed, I might have to own up to being more of a fruit girl. Well, I was. One spectacularly simple dish in Chicago a few years ago tipped the scales for me and started me on the path to vegetable worship. It was a beautiful little dish of roasted fennel and whipped goat cheese. The combination was so simple, but it was really one of the best vegetable dishes I’ve eaten, and I have been a fennel lover ever since. If you’ve never had fennel, it’s hard to explain the flavor. I hesitate to use the words ‘anise’ or ‘licorice’ because that might deter people who don’t like licorice. When raw, fennel does have a teensy bit of licorice flavor, but it is more subtle and sweet than anise. When roasted or grilled, the flavors just concentrate into something I can only describe as wonderful (pretty much any roasted vegetable is wonderful in my opinion). I’ve served fennel to people who don’t normally like licorice, and they have loved it, so give it a try if you’re unsure. This salad is very simple and quite frankly, delicious. The grilled fennel is tasty, but I’ve also made it with roasted fennel which I like just as much. I plan to make this with roasted fennel in the winter when the poor charcoal grill is in garage-hibernation for winter. If you want to roast it, slice and prepare the fennel in the same way and roast on a sheet pan in a 400 degree oven. Roast until nicely browned and caramelized, then flip the fennel and continue roasting until the other side is lightly browned and the fennel is tender.

from: Bobby Flay
serves: 4 (small servings)

fennel salad

2 bulbs fennel, sliced into 1/2-inch thick slices
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 oranges, peeled and segmented*, plus 1 orange, juiced and zested
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or more to taste, but I thought 2 tablespoons was too much)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

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