Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lactation Cookies.

That's right friends. Lactation cookies of the oatmeal and chocolate chip variety.  This month good friends of mine welcomed their child into the world.  I was hoping to find a way to help or support in this time, and my friend suggested the idea for lactation cookies as thought of by her lactation consultant.  As a novice baker I'm usually pumped to try something new.  This recipe is inspired by the recipe for Momma's Milk Cookies on this website, which will also give you information on why the key ingredients of oats, brewer's yeast, and flax are helpful.  The key ingredients just provide nutrients that are helpful for lactation;  I ate a couple and nothing weird happened.  The recipe is definitely unique and the cookies are different from any oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I've had before.  I'm going to try the other recipe on the linked site soon, and if you have any ideas for other uses for brewer's yeast please pass them my way.

Found in the vitamins & supplement section in 
Whole Foods.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Crazy Coconut Cake


 Coconut Cake, with Coconut Buttercream Frosting, topped with coconut flakes. Obviously for the hardcore coconut lover.

Much to my aggravation, my fiance Mark's birthday happens to be three days after Christmas. It's killer for me because he's already hard to buy for, and I have to think of enough present ideas for two occasions in the same week.

His food tastes, however, are pretty easy to figure out. When I saw the recipe for Coconut Cake in the June/July 2012 issue of BUST magazine several months ago, I knew I had to keep it in mind to try.
So, the morning of his birthday, I woke up at 8 a.m. to put the thing together. I never made a homemade cake before, let alone a layered one, but I was extra motivated by the fact that his mom just bought us a Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas. It was also my first time making homemade buttercream frosting.

This recipe I found in BUST, but they cited the recipe from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, by Cheryl Day & Griffith Day. This recipe is repeated nearly verbatim from the magazine.

Cake Ingredients:
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
3/4 cup cream of coconut (could not find this stuff in the store anywhere, so opted for coconut milk instead)
1 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 lb. (three sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups sweetened flaked coconut

Prep time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Cook time: 45-50 minutes
Serves: 10 - 12

Apple & Goat Cheese 'Za

This pizza is a close cousin to the Apple & Cheddar 'Za I posted about last month. Remember that? Actually, I just checked, and it was EXACTLY one month ago... Weird pizza coincidence.


Here's the pizza dough recipe my family always uses. I'm not sure where it came from originally but we've used it for a long time. Many, many pizzas.
1 envelope active dry yeast or two teaspoons
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
at least 1/4 cup olive oil

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spiced Chocolate Bread Pudding

1 loaf challah bread
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup whole milk
1 1/4 cup sugar 
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch cayenne
pinch salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
7 eggs, whisked a little in a large bowl
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
Dulce de leche, vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top, if desired

1. Cut or rip up the bread and toast until golden. Cool. Butter shallow 3 qt baking dish and arrange bread pieces evenly. Scatter chocolate chips on top.

2. Pour milk, sugar, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and cream in a saucepan. Heat on medium and whisk until bubbles form around the edge. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk some more. Pour into the large bowl with the whisked eggs. Whisk to combine. 

3. Pour chocolate mixture on top of the bread and chocolate chips. Make sure all the bread has the mixture on it, press the bread down as needed. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

4. Bake at 450 for 45 minutes or 1 hour, until knife comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Cut into squares and serve plain or with dulce de leche, vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top.

This recipe was from Good Housekeeping, about a year ago. It was one of our many desserts this Christmas!

Bonus recipe: Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Honey Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

I made the buns for Christmas dinner today! I've baked buns from this recipe maybe three times before, but this time I think they were extra good, like melt-in-your-mouth buns. They call for buttermilk powder, which we usually have in the fridge to sub for liquid buttermilk. It keeps for a long time. I doubled the recipe this time so we'd have plenty for the holidays.

We're almost ready for Christmas!

My sister Linda took this one today. :)

Honey Buttermilk Dinner Rolls
Adapted from maybe Good Housekeeping? Cut out a couple years ago?

1/3 cup (to mix with yeast) plus 1 tbsp (for glaze) honey, plus more for serving

1 packet active dry yeast (when recipes say that I normally use about 2 tsp)
4 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup dry buttermilk powder
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
3 tbsp butter, melted

Friday, December 21, 2012

Pissaladiere (Onion Tart)

At least six or seven years ago my dad found this book, Paris in a Basket, at a used book sale. It's not really a cookbook - it's more great descriptions and pictures of a lot of the different markets in Paris with occasional recipes added in. I made this onion tart for the first time about when I got the book from my dad, way before I had any cooking skills. It's a really tasty and pretty tart with surprising flavors. 

The intro in the book says: 

"Although Annie Boulanger is writing a cookbook of her own, she was generous enough to share her recipe for pissaladiere with us. There are many different versions of this recipe: in Provence it is made without egg; in other regions a bit of custard is added; and often a lot custard is added and it resembles a quiche. We like Annie's version the most and if you love onions this is for you!"
I've had a cold so my Hines Ward mug has been very busy.
(I didn't use this recipe for the pastry since I had leftover dough in the fridge, but I remember it being good and flaky.)

For the pastry:

1 1/3 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
8 tbs ice water

For the filling:

2 lbs onions

3 tbs olive oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup liquid cream
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch nutmeg
1 pinch cinnamon

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Broccoli-potato-cheddar soup

It's been kind of warm these past few days, but the cold weather is coming and that means I'm craving soup.  Specifically, I'm craving broccoli cheddar soup, Panera-style.  I decided to add a bit of potato to make it more filling and try to use up the potatoes that have been sitting around in my pantry for a while.

served with some delicious Mancini's pesto bread...perfection!

2 cubes of vegetable (or chicken) bouillon
5 1/2 cups of water
[alternatively, you could use 2 cups of chicken or veggie broth plus 3 1/2 cups of water]
1 head of fresh broccoli, chopped
1-2 medium potatoes
1/2 cup milk or cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
(up to) 1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper

In a large pot, combine bouillon (or broth), water, broccoli, salt, and pepper.  Use the whole broccoli stalk, not just the florets.  Bring to a boil.

mmmm, broccoli

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, peel and chop the potatoes into 1/2 inch chunks.  (I say "chunks" rather than "cubes" because mine are never remotely close to cube-shaped.)

Add the potatoes to the broccoli-broth mixture and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

Stir in flour one spoonful at a time until broth thickens.  Reduce heat and add the milk and cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted.  Serve hot, with a little extra cheese on top as a garnish.

If you plan on having leftovers, take out half of the soup BEFORE adding the flour, milk, and cheese, and finish this last step right before serving.  The first time I made this soup, it thickened so much in the fridge that you could practically chew it after reheating!  If that does happen, though, adding a little milk before you reheat it works wonders.

As usual, I'm already thinking about what else I'd like to do with this soup.  I'm thinking a little red onion might be really good.  Also red bell pepper, if you're into that kind of thing.  Maybe bacon bits?  Good thing we've got several months of cold weather coming up so I can do more soup experiments!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Peppermint Meltaways

Hi everyone! Laura invited me to this blog after spending hours at work discussing the many uses of pumpkin, crock pot recipes, and just generally how much we love food.  Here is my first contribution and, of course, it is a Christmas cookie.  I just made these this evening and they turned out so delicious.  They literally do melt in your mouth and the peppermint makes your taste buds feel extra festive. 

For the cookie...
1 cup softened butter, at lease at room temp.
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch (I know that this is a scary amount of cornstarch, just trust me)

For the frosting...
2 tablespoons softened butter
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Crushed up candy canes for garnish

In a small bowl, mix the butter and confectioners' sugar together until light and well-whipped.  Beat in peppermint extract.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour and cornstarch.  Slowly add it to the butter/sugar mixture and stir well.

The mixture will be very lumpy/tough to stir once you add all of the cornstarch and flour.  I don't have a mixer so I used my hands to knead it out really well and it worked fine.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on an un-greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  Remove once the bottoms of the cookies are a light brown.  The tops will remain very light colored and will not look finished to the eye, but as long as the bottom is light brown it's fine.   Immediately place on wire racks to cook. 

To make the frosting add the butter to a small bowl and beat until fluffy.  Add the confectioners' sugar, extract, and milk and stir until smooth.  Once the cookies are cool, frost them and beautify with some crushed candy canes!

And here's a picture of my very happy dog Roma to finish up

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hearty Pumpkin Soup

I made this soup for the cookie exchange so we could have something other than pure sugar to eat for the night! It started out as a simple creamy potato soup, but I decided to go with a vegetable pumpkin soup instead since we had so many vegetables at the apartment. I was at the farm a couple of weeks ago and I picked some radishes that I included in this soup. The greens are separated since I used them in another recipe. They are sweet and delicious on top of a pizza! I wanted to include some pictures in the blog since I think they are pretty!

At last, the recipe!

Pumpkin Soup

1 large red onion, diced
1 small white onion, diced
1 leek, light green section sliced (dark green saved to make veggie stock)
4 large carrots, chopped
5 radishes, chopped
1/4 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
3 red potatoes, chopped
2-3 cups vegetable broth, depending on desired consistency of the soup
2-3 cups pumpkin puree
1 can chickpeas
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tabletspoon dried rosemary

Saute the leek and onions until softened.

Add the carrots, cabbage, and the radishes and cook until slightly softened. Add the broth, herbs, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer on low until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and chickpeas and heat up the soup until it is hot enough to serve. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. I garnished the soup with some dried rosemary and served it with some delicious foccacia from Mancini's in the Strip District.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Spinach, feta, and cheddar muffins

I'm heading to a Christmas party this evening and I know one should never show up to a party empty-handed, but I've been to way too many potlucks featuring a half dozen versions of the same dish, so I decided I wanted to try something a little different.  After some brief meandering around the vast internet world of food blogs, I settled on feta and spinach muffins--you can find the original recipe here.  The great thing about muffins is that they're single-serving finger foods that are easy to pick up and nibble on while at a party.  Another great thing about muffins is that they're not just for breakfast anymore.  And the best thing about muffins is, well, this.

So, muffins.  The ingredients: (makes about 18 muffins)

1/2 medium-sized red onion
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups flour
cheddar cheese, shredded--I don't ever really measure cheese; I shredded about half of a block of cheese
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup spinach
1 large egg
1 cup milk
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375.  Melt butter in a skillet.  Add chopped onion and saute until onions are soft.

Chopping an onion makes me cry every time.  I decided to be prepared this time.

Combine flour and baking soda in large mixing bowl.  (Whatever you do, don't dump the first teaspoon of baking soda all over the floor.  Not that I did that, or anything.)
Add onions, cheeses, egg, and milk.  Mix well.

Add spinach and mix again.  If you're using fresh spinach, chop it nice and small so it mixes well with the rest of the ingredients.  If cheap like me and using the frozen stuff, make sure to thaw it and drain any excess water before adding to the rest of the mixture.

Christmas Sugar Cookies

These were made for the cookie exchange and it is a doubled recipe. Lots of cookies! Also we did not have Christmas cookie cutters. However, we did have a dreidel cookie cutter (it's Brittany's) and a bunch of dinosaur ones. I think they were a hit. This recipe is from my Mrs. Field's cookie book. We make them so often, we tore out the page to have it on hand more easily. My suggested playlist for making these cookies is the Sufjan Stevens Christmas album (I think there are 2). This is a Pittsburgh dinosaur:

4 cups white whole wheat flour (I like the added texture of this flour)
1/2 tsp salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the butter and sugar together. Then add the eggs and vanilla and blend. Then add the flour and salt. Put the dough in the refrigerator for about 1 hour until it firms up. This helps the cookies hold their shape better when baking.
After the dough is firm, roll out the dough in batches on a floured surface. Use cookie cutters to cut out your desired shape.

Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake at 325 degrees for about 9 minutes until lightly browned.

Minty Christmas Brownies

This recipe is from an old roommate, Janice. We cooked up a storm while living together! I like this recipe because you can do so much with basic brownies. This time I added mint chocolate chips and orange mint extract. More on how to make your own mint extract later.

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (dark cocoa would be a nice variation)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water
2 eggs
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 handful of mint chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 8x8 inch baking pan. Mix the wet ingredients together and then add the dry ingredients. This is a one bowl recipe. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the batter and bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out cleanly. Or you can just underbake them!

Vegetarian Pad Thai

This is my first time that I have ever made this dish on my own. There's a lot of preparation but overall it is a pretty simple recipe once you get all the ingredients. I think it turned out pretty well. I decided to surprise Nick with dinner since we had been talking about going to Nicky's Thai Kitchen in the North Side. Michelle and Steve actually made us some pad thai while were helping them plan out their big Europe trip and it was delicious. Their version was made with chicken. I wanted to do a more veggie friendly version, so I (very) loosely followed this recipe from Epicurious.


  • 16 ounces dried flat rice noodles (labeled as Pad Thai or Banh Pho(!!!) noodles)
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind concentrate (got this from Lotus in the strip)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 cup boiling-hot water
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce or Bragg's liquid aminos
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons Sriracha (depending on the spice level you want)
  • 1 tablespoon dried cilantro
  • 1 bunch scallions
  • 5 large shallots
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • teryaki marinade
  • 6 large eggs
  • 7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 cups bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • coconut oil

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Red Velvet Cheesecake Surprise Cookies

My cookie exchange party contribution part one! These babies are SOOOOOO TASTY and SOOOOO BEAUTIFUL - they are the perfect cookie. There is even a surprise inside. (Hint: it is in the name of the cookie...)

They are not especially quick and easy to bake since they have to rest in the fridge and you have to stuff the surprise inside, but it's not much extra effort and is more than worth it. And it uses a cake mix, so that skips some steps. Don't be surprised if these don't turn up at the cookie exchange because I "forgot" them.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies

From Two Peas and Their Pod (my current favorite food blog, I've made a lot of recipes from their site, including ones I've posted about: this one and this one)


For the cookies:
1 box red velvet cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cheesecake filling:
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the white chocolate drizzle:
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, melted

Ginger Carrot Soup

This recipe was also featured in Bust and I pretty much followed it as is.

1 large yellow onion, diced
1-2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced
1 head of garlic (yes, I'm serious- the whole thing)
8 large carrots, diced
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Saute the ginger and onions. (This mixture smells so good as it cooks!) Add the garlic once the onion is softened and cook for another minute. Add the carrots, stock and seasonings and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for 40 minutes until carrots are soft. Blend the soup to get a thick creamy mixture. Perfect for a cold day! Garnish with fresh parsley.

Monday, December 10, 2012

M&M and White Chocolate Mint Cookies: The First Batch of Cookies for the Exchange!

Hi all.  As you've seen, we're hosting a holiday cookie exchange at our apartment this week.  After all, cooking should be a communal act, bringing all of us together.  Michelle said before that giving food to someone is showing them love and gratitude.  What better time of year to share these sentiments?

Earlier this month we went to the Lawrenceville Joy of Cookies Tour.  Encase you haven't been, several businesses in our Lawrenceville neighborhood (can't find the words to sum up Larryville) coax us in with delicious cookies.  It did the trick because I ended up checking out several stores that I wouldn't have gone in otherwise.  I highly suggest going, but be sure to go early - lots of places ran out of cookies during the four day event.

The highlight of the trip for sure was checking out greenSinner.  Michelle had been hyping this local, sustainable florist for weeks and my God it did it go beyond expectations.  Michelle and Mekenzee have inspired in me a new found appreciation for succulents, and this great workshop and greenhouse, and the beyond kind owners, only continued that cause. Not only does greenSinner win the awards (in my mind) for best new business and best shop owners, but they for sure had THE BEST cookies of the tour.  They were made by their friend Culinary Cory, and I wish I would have remembered to look up his blog before trying to replicate his Minty Grinch Cookies View his recipe here!

One last thing and then the recipe...

Butternut Squash, Onion & Apple Galette

I've been meaning to make a free-form pie like this for a while, and I'm definitely looking forward to making lots of different kinds now that I've made this one. I'm still using up that gigantic squash I roasted (see the mac and cheese and enchiladas), and I love using apples in everything (see half of the things I've posted on the blog plus Colleen's quiche). And rosemary!!!! Michelle and other sage-addicts can sub in sage.

Butternut Squash, Onion and Apple Galette
Adapted combo of Food Network's Butternut Squash, Apple Onion Galette with Stilton and the Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette on Seven Spoons

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced (1 stick)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
(from Food Network) "For the dough: Pulse the flour and salt together in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few bean-size bits of butter in it. Add the egg and pulse 1 to 2 times more; don't let the dough form a mass around the blade. If the dough seems very dry, add up to 1 tablespoon of cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time, pulsing briefly. Remove the blade and bring the dough together by hand. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour."

1 large baking apple, such as Rome Beauty or Cortland
1 small or 1/2 medium butternut squash (about 3/4 pound), roasted and cut into chunkes
1 small onion, rough chopped
1⁄3 cup cubed cheddar (optional)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (I didn't use)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons mustard

1-2 egg yolks to brush over crust

Mix up everything but the mustard & egg yolk in a bowl. Then put as much as you can in the middle of the pie crust.

Fold up the edges of the crust, folding pieces over each other and pinching to seal. Bruss with egg yolk if you want - it'll look pretty. Here's what mine looked like at this point, kind of odd-looking:

Bake at 400 for about 35 minutes. 

On the Food Network recipe it uses raw butternut squash and says to cook for 55 minutes, but I would think that would burn the crust, I don't know.

This fancy galette inspired some sister/puppy lovin'.

Bust Borscht

While reading our issue of Bust magazine (not a magazine about statues, but feminism!), I decided to make a couple of the featured winter soups. This borscht is vegan and I believe it is Eastern European in origin. It is a mild soup but since I love beets that is ok with me! I picked the beets this week while I was at the farm to plant tulips.

Vegan Borscht

1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
5 medium sized beets, chopped
2 medium potatoes, diced
1/4 head of cabbage, chopped
4-5 cups of water or vegetable broth
a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
fresh dill
fresh parsley

Saute the onion in a large soup pot for a couple of minutes.

Then add the celery, carrots, and beets and cook until tender.

Add the cabbage and saute for another couple of minutes. Then add the liquid and the potatoes. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 40 minutes until all the vegetables are tender.

Season with salt and pepper. I like to blend half of the soup so that it is still a little chunky. Serve with a spoonful of vinegar and plenty of dill and parsley.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Rajas con crema (on butternut squash enchiladas)

As I understand it, rajas con crema is a Mexican condiment - like if you aren't feeling salsa, put rajas con crema on it. They are roasted poblano peppers in cream sauce.

I bought a couple poblano peppers at Schramm's, and I had stuffed them last time I'd bought these peppers, so this time I made rajas con crema. So far I've had it on brown rice with chicken and baked on top of butternut squash enchiladas.

These enchiladas are just like the pumpkin enchiladas I posted about before (because that's pretty much always how I made enchiladas) except sub in butternut squash and spread some rajas con crema on top before baking. They had some nice spice because I had roasted the squash with cayenne pepper for the butternut squash mac and cheese, but the poblano peppers I used weren't that hot.


6 poblano chiles
1 tbsp butter 
1/2 onion, sliced
pinch salt
1/2 cup Mexican crema (probably not that authentic but I made mine from this recipe)
1/2 cup milk (I didn't add this)
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...