dulce de leche...

...over ice cream. is perfection.


tacos with spicy corn & black beans

sometimes, rather surprisingly, i'm in the mood for spice.

and tonight i wanted corn. more specifically, corn + spice. i found a bunch of "mexican corn" and "spicy corn" recipes online, but i didn't have everything called for in them, mostly i was missing the green pepper. and i was worried that the "jarred salsa" would taste soggy, mushy, and not quite right. but i improvised anyway. and it worked...

...and ditto for the beans. i wanted to change it up, spice it up, so i read the recipe on the back of the goya can. i had maybe half the ingredients for that one too. oh well. so i improvised that one too. it probably isn't as good as the original recipe, but it was definitely better than plain old black beans from a can. (and i had everything already in my pantry)

spicy corn

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 onion, diced
2 cups corn
kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup salsa
2 tablespoons cilantro
  1. in a saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. add the onion and saute until starting to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. add the corn, salt to your liking, and cumin. cover and cook about 10 minutes.
  3. add salsa and cilantro, mix, remove from heat, and serve or cover to keep warm before serving.

spicy black beans

15 ounce can black beans, rinsed
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, diced
3 gloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt & pepper
  1. in a saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. add the onion and garlic and saute until starting to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. add the beans, water, oregano, and season with salt and pepper. bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes or until most of the water has been cooked out.

dr pepper cake

i needed cake. cookies. pastry. no, not pastry, i needed something quick, easy, and sickeningly sweet. so i found this dr. pepper cake.

but in our house, it was "dr w" cake - since we have wegmans dr w instead of dr pepper.

but i made some modifications -

the sugar seems like a lot - a full two cups, in addition to a full can of soda. so i reduced it to 1 1/4 cups. it was still pretty sweet.

and i only made a half batch of glaze. for the same reason - i didn't want it to be so sickeningly sweet i couldn't take it. and a half batch was perfect.

the cake is good, even though it was a bit more dense like a brownie, but the dr pepper taste wasn't very strong. you can taste it, at the end of a bite, as long as you know it's there and you're looking for it. so sometime i'm going to try concentrating the dr pep flavor by boiling it off a bit first. we'll see how that goes.

dr pepper chocolate cake
from she wears many hats

for the cake:
1 1/2 cup Dr. Pepper soda
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
  1. preheat oven to 350F and grease a 13x9 baking pan.
  2. combine the dr pepper, oil, butter, and cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium heat. bring to a simmer, mix well, and remove from heat.
  3. add sugar, flour, and baking soda to the pan and mix well.
  4. in a separate bowl, beat the eggs and buttermilk together. add a small amount of the hot batter to the egg mixture (a couple tablespoons) and mix well. then add the egg mixture to the batter and mix well.
  5. pour into greased pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. while the cake is cooling, make the glaze.
for the glaze:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar
  1. combine the butter, cocoa powder, and milk together in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. when the butter is melted and the mixture is combined, whisk in the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth.
  3. pour over the warm cake.
2015.03.02 this was daily dish recipes' pick for the secret recipe club!


soft pretzels

i've waited all week for these. and the pretzel bite and pretzel roll recipes that showed up on other blogs this week didn't help the craving. so this morning i gave in.

the dough comes together quick and the boiling part isn't nearly as complicated as it first sounds. if you have pretzels that don't keep their shape while boiling - i had a couple turn back into long ropes - push the joints together before boiling or just reshape them after boiling, before they're baked. no biggie.

i like mine with lots of salt, jason likes his with a little salt...so i made them exactly how we like them...

...and i left a few unsalted just for this -

warm them up in the microwave, brush the top with melted butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. perfection.

you'll notice alton's recipe makes 8 pretzels and the first time we made them, we made 8. but you end up with 8 big pretzels, like food court at the mall sized pretzels. and really, they're too big when you just want a snack sized pretzel. so i cut the size in half and reduced the bake time since they aren't as thick. long story short - make them whatever size you want. you want them smaller? go for it, just check on them around 8 minutes. want them bigger? i'd still check at 9 minutes, but they'll probably take a little longer.

soft pretzels
based on alton brown's homemade soft pretzels

makes 16 4 inch pretzels in 1.5 hours (includes rise time)

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 packed active dry yeast
22 ounces all purpose flour (about 4.5 cups)
2 ounces melted unsalted butter (about 4 tablespoons)
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
nonstick cooking spray
pretzel or kosher salt to sprinkle on top
  1. combine the water, sugar, and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit about 5 minutes, until foaming.
  2. add the melted butter and flour to the bowl. mix on low speed with a dough hook until combined. turn the mixer up to medium and mix about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth, elastic, and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  3. remove the dough from the bowl, spray the inside with cooking spray, and replace the dough back in the bowl. cover with plastic wrap and store in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  4. line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. preheat the oven to 450F.
  5. bring 10 cups of water and baking soda to a boil.
  6. while the water is heating up, turn the dough out onto a well oiled cutting board. using a pizza cutter or chef's knife, cut the dough into 16 equal pieces (i cut mine like a pie).
  7. roll each piece of dough into a rope about 18 inches long. form into a pretzel shape and place on the baking sheet. roll and form all pieces.
  8. drop pretzels, 2 at a time, into the boiling water. boil for 30 seconds, remove with a slotted spatula or wire spider, and place back on the baking sheet. repeat with all the pretzels.
  9. brush the tops of the pretzels with the beaten egg and sprinkle with salt to your liking.
  10. bake for 9-11 minutes, until golden brown on top.
  11. let cool on the baking sheet for a couple minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.
  12. these are best eaten within 10 minutes of coming out of the oven, but a quick 20 seconds in the microwave works well too.
  13. do not store in a sealed bag or food storage container as they will become wet and lose some of their chewiness. consume within 3 days, if you can make it that long.

italian stuffed bread

don't try to make this during the week. unless you can get home earlier than 6.

or you don't mind eating at 9:30 at night. it's not that it's hard to make, it's the wait time that gets you.

regardless of the time, it was incredibly easy to put together. i started with a whole wheat bread dough and then used a classic italian combination - prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, and basil - and layered them on the bread, rollled it up, and baked it.

feel free to change up the filling to your liking. i bet ham and cheese would be good. or artichokes and cheese. really, ___________ (you fill in the blank) and cheese would be excellent.

italian stuffed bread

1 pound of your favorite bread dough - i used whole wheat
2 ounces prosciutto
1/2 cup basil leaves
2 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced
  1. make your bread according to the recipe directions.
  2. when the bread is ready for baking, roll out into a sheet about 1/4 inch thick.
  3. build your layer of filling starting with prosciutto, then cheese and tomatoes, and topped with the basil.
  4. carefully roll the sheet into a log, starting at one end.
  5. pinch the open ends of the log closed by pulling the top down to the bottom. pinch any openings in the bread, or the filling will ooze out while baking.
  6. put the log on a sheet pan and place in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  7. preheat the oven at 350. brush the top of the bread with water.
  8. bake the bread on a sheet pan for 50-65 minutes, until browned on the outside.
  9. cool on a wire rack and wait until almost completely cool to cut.


cook's illustrated chocolate chip cookies

O. M. G.


what? you thought it was just a normal chocolate chip cookie? if you want a plain old chocolate chip cookie, use the recipe off the back of the wegmans chocolate chip bag, it's the best one i've found on a package.

and what makes these cookies so special? one simple thing. browned butter. the butterscotchy flavor it adds is amazing. out of this world. try it. tonight.

ok, two simple things. the cookies are larger than usual - a full three tablespoons. and it makes sense - when the cookie's bigger, the outside gets nice and crunchy and the middle stays chewy. it's perfection.

when i watched this episode of america's test kitchen a couple weeks ago, they had a segment where they taste tested chocolate chips. surprisingly, nestle came out last - or close to last? - and they recommended ghirardelli 60% cocoa bittersweet chips both for flavor and the fact that they're flat chips and create a layer of chocolate in the baked cookies. so i splurged the $3 for a bag and used them instead of my usual wegmans bag.

cook's illustrated/america's test kitchen chocolate chip cookies
get the recipe here


risotto cakes

from now on, i am making double batches of risotto, simply so i can make cakes with the leftovers.

the cakes were better than the original. crunchy on the outside, smooth and creamy on the inside. perfect, especially dipped in warm tomato sauce. and super quick to toss together.

word of warning - i didn't measure anything. nothing. not a single thing when i made these. so if you want more cheese, add it. or a thicker coating, push the panko against the side of the cake.

in my opinion, there was only one thing missing from the original recipe - garlic. so i added garlic salt to the breading. it definitely made a difference. and i mixed in more parm to the risotto before forming the cakes, because i thought it needed more cheese too.

risotto cakes
makes 6 4" risotto cakes, serves 2

~3 cups leftover risotto
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
vegetable oil
  1. if your risotto is cold because it's been in the refrigerator, microwave it until it's room temp. otherwise when you fry them, the middle might still be cold.
  2. mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic salt, italian seasoning, and pepper in a flat dish, such as a plate or square glass baking dish. i used an 8" square pyrex baker.
  3. add about a quarter of an inch of vegetable oil to a saute pan. turn onto medium heat and let the oil get hot while forming the cakes.
  4. form the risotto into equal size balls and pat into patties.
  5. put the risotto cakes in the breadcrumb mixture. pat the top of the cake so the breadcrumbs stick to the bottom. flip the cake so both sides get coated with the crumb mixture. roll the sides in the crumbs too, so the cake is totally coated.
  6. make sure the oil is nice and hot. put enough cakes in the pan to fill it, but don't overcrowd the pan, you'll need room to flip them. i did mine in two batches of three.
  7. cook for 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. flip and cook an additional 3-4 minutes on the other side. serve hot with a side of warmed tomato sauce.

baked's lemon cake

this is one of the few - very very very few - times i didn't read the entire recipe before starting to cook. sure, i read the ingredients list. sure, i read the description. and saw the oh so perfect looking slice of cake on the opposite page, but i didn't realize what a true labor of love this cake would be until i was elbow deep in lemon juice.

the juice and zest of 8 lemons, in fact. before you decide to make this cake - here's the rundown.

step 1: bake a lemon pound cake. sounds easy, it is. it's a basic lemon pound cake. just make sure it's cooked all the way - mine weren't done even though the toothpick came out clean. bummer.

step 2: make a lemon simple syrup of equal parts sugar and lemon juice. when the cakes are cooling, poke them like crazy, and brush on the simple syrup.

step 3: make a lemon glaze. use the rest of your lemon juice and some powdered sugar to make a glaze for the top.

it's lemon insanity. jason loved it. me, it was almost over the top. almost.

it's pretty dense, and really only lasts a day or two after it's made. then it starts to get slightly soggy, slightly dried out at the same time. it's weird and definitely not the same as when it's eaten the same day.

lemon lemon cake
from baked: new frontiers in baking


dulche de leche cookies

i needed something to make with my homemade dulce de leche - otherwise i'd eat the entire jar with a spoon.

luckily, i found this sandwich cookie at annie's eats, although mine weren't as successful as hers -

my first sheet pan full burned. not bad enough for me to not eat them, but bad enough to not serve them to company. and i only baked them for 10 minutes, so watch these buggers when you bake them.

i don't know what i did - or didn't do - but mine aren't as flat and squatty and perfect for sandwiches like hers. mine came out more cakelike - good for jason, not so much for me. i much prefer a chewier cookie.

the flavor is outstanding. even the burnt ones taste amazing. so i'll definitely try these again someday.

dulce de leche cookies
from Annie's Eats


risotto with bacon, peas, and leeks (and super easy baked bacon)

i love risotto.

the creaminess. the cheesiness. how can you go wrong?

this one is simple - leeks, bacon, and peas. the only real change i made from the original recipe is baking the bacon. if you've never done it, try it. it's super easy and the bacon comes out super crisp -

line a sheet pan (with a lip) with parchment paper. place a cooling rack on top. lay the bacon strips across the cooling rack. bake at 350 until crisp, about 30 minutes for thick cut bacon.

i like to bake my bacon for breakfast too. then the eggs, bacon, and coffee are all done at the same time - no cold bacon because only one thing can be cooked at a time.

so back to the risotto - it was easy. relatively quick - for the time it took, it was painless and i did some dishes and put away some dishes while i added the chicken stock.

like the recipe mentions, i had about 2 cups of stock left over. i probably could have used it, but we were both starving and just wanted to eat!

don't omit the lemon juice - it adds a nice brightness to the dish. and next time, i'm gonna add more cheese! nothing can go wrong with more cheese, right?

...and stay tuned for risotto cakes for the leftovers!

risotto with bacon, peas, and leeks
adapted from everyday food

makes 6-8 hearty servings in 45 minutes (i'd definitely halve it if i just wanted it for the 2 of us for one night)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
5 strips thick cut bacon, baked, and crumbled
10 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup marsala wine
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
juice from half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
salt & pepper
  1. melt the butter over medium heat in a dutch oven. add the leeks and saute until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. in a separate pan, warm the chicken broth over medium high heat.
  2. add the crumbled bacon to the leeks and cook until warmed, about 2 minutes.
  3. add the rice to the leek bacon mixture and stir. cook until translucent, about 2 minutes.
  4. add the marsala wine and stir to deglaze the pan. cook until mostly evaporated 1-2 minutes.
  5. add ~ 1cup chicken broth ( a couple ladle fulls) of stock to the rice. stir to incorporate. cook until the liquid is absorbed. continue adding broth, stirring to incorporate, and cooking until the liquid is absorbed until creamy, about 30 minutes.
  6. add the frozen peas and mix in.
  7. mix in the parmesan cheese. remove from heat, cover, and let stand a couple minutes.
  8. mix in the lemon juice and season with salt & pepper.


strawberry & grape poptarts

first thing's first: if you've never had homemade grape jelly, you're missing out. make some. now. if i hadn't stopped myself, i would have eaten the whole jar with a spoon. it's that good. my grandpa didn't lie.

second. i've had this recipe stuck in the back of my head since i saw alton brown make them on good eats last year. two years ago? anyway, it's been a while. so i grabbed my jar of grape jelly and my next to last jar of mom's 2009 strawberry jam (i come from a long line of jammers) and made some of the easiest, best pastries ever.

i found alton's recipe for "pocket pies" at foodnetwork.com. instead of filling them with chocolate or mango or whatever, i just added hearty tablespoon of jam. i also baked mine instead of frying them.

a couple words of advice -

1 - bake on parchment. almost all of mine sprung a leak while baking and i thought my sheet pan was ruined. luckily a soak in hot water was all it took to come off...which brings me to

2 - don't overfill them. add a hearty spoonful, but don't add too much or they'll ooze while baking

3 - i poked the tops of some with a fork and some i cut a slash with a knife before baking. the knife slash is the way to go. when the pastry starts baking, the forked holes get too small and the steam can't escape, so they puff up really big.

4 - make sure you don't add cream to your glaze or it will never harden. i wasn't thinking and decided to use up the last of some heavy cream rather than milk or water (hmm i bet a small amount of jam would be good too instead of the liquid) to make the glaze. not a good choice.

fill these suckers with whatever kind of jam/jelly/fruit filling you like.

and they definitely freeze well. pop them in the toaster from frozen and you're good to go.

homemade poptarts
from alton brown's pocket pies


lemon shortbread

the best cookies i ever made were chocolate chip shortbread at christmas. i got phone calls asking for more shortbread. so yea, it's my go-to from now on.

i had 1 lemon leftover from last week's lemon cake, and i needed cookies in a pinch...plus these were sitting on my "to make" list, since the chocolate chip when i knew i wanted to try these with lemon - it's jason's favorite - and they didn't disappoint.

they're a breeze to throw together and nothing is easier than slice and bake.

i finished them off with a nice, thin, tangy lemony glaze.

next time i'm gonna try lime. and replace the vanilla with juice for even more citrus goodness!

you can use the base - without the lemon zest - for a plain shortbread or add your favorite mixin. for the chocolate chip ones, i mixed in 1 and a half cups at the end.

the best ever shortbread
adapted from Ina Garten

makes 30 2" cookies

12 tablespoons (1 & 1/2 sticks) butter, room temp (this is very important, the butter needs to cream with the sugar)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
zest of one lemon
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. mix in the vanilla and lemon zest.
  2. in a separate bowl, whisk or sift together the flour and salt.
  3. add the flour & salt to the butter mixture. mix on low speed until it comes together into a dough. it will take a minute, but it will come together.
  4. roll into a log about 2 inches in diameter (roll it wider or skinnier depending on how big you want your cookies). roll the log in some wax paper.
  5. chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  6. preheat the oven to 350F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  7. slice the log into 1/4 inch slices. place the slices on the sheet pan. they don't spread much, so they can be pretty close together.
  8. bake for 10-13 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown.
  9. remove from the pan and cool to room temp.
to make the glaze: whisk together 1/2 cup powdered sugar and lemon juice until the glaze is thin and spreadable. if it's too thick, add more lemon juice, a small amount at a time. if it's too thin, add more sugar until you reach the desired consistency. spread the top of each cookie with glaze using a pastry brush. let the cookies sit for about 30 minutes until the glaze hardens.

2012.05.07 this was delishhh's pick for the secret recipe club!


cinnamon sugar biscotti

i don't dunk oreos. or chocolate chip. or any other cookie. i hate tiramisu. and i don't even want to think about an open faced sandwich. why? all that sog. ick. there's nothing worse than biting into a wet, mushy cookie/bread/cake. i was one of those kids at birthday parties that never had ice cream with my cake for fear that the ice cream would melt into a puddle and destroy the cake by touching it. gross.

there's only one food i'll even think about dunking: biscotti. and i only dunk in coffee. and together, it's the best breakfast ever.

so what i saw this recipe posted on joy the baker combining biscotti with cinnamon - also the perfect mate for coffee - i knew i had to try it.

and it was almost perfect. i saw almost, because i'm a biscotti snob. i know. i like mine to be crunchy and dry on the outside, but still a little cookie-like and moist in the middle. so if you ate them without dunking in coffee - which jason always does since he hates coffee - they're crunchy but not so hard you feel like you're going to break your teeth. that's how i like them. and these were a little dry for me. i'll have to try them again another time and decrease the baking time a bit. or i might try adapting my other go to pistachio biscotti recipe (which i've also adapted for almond and it works perfectly).

since i'm such a biscotti snob, i made a couple changes to joy's recipe:
  • i like my biscotti long and about 1/2 thick slices, so when i shaped my loaves, i made them wide. the loaves don't spread out much, so form them into the size you want them. mine were about 9" long and 6" wide. yes, i measure them to make sure the two are about the same size so they cook in the same amount of time.
  • joy baked her loaves on two separate sheets on two racks in the oven. i didn't bother - i put both side by side on one sheet pan and rotated it half way through.
  • during the second bake, i flipped them half way through, so both sides were up at some point. and her second bake is too long - i did three minutes, flipped, and three minutes more. a fill 10-15 would really dry them out, which is fine if you like them super duper crunchy.

why the second bake? the first bake cooks the biscotti, the second dries them out to add the crunch factor. without the second bake, they're simply finger shaped cookies. which would also be good, if you don't like them so dry.

cinnamon sugar biscotti
adapted from joy the baker's cinnamon sugar biscotti

mine made 24 1/2" wide cookies in 75 minutes

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 egg + 1 yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla

for the topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  1. preheat oven to 325. line one baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. beat in the egg and yolk. mix in the vanilla.
  3. in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  4. add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter all at once. mix until a stiff dough is formed.
  5. divide the dough in half and shape into roughly equally sized logs. make them long and skinny if you want short, stubby biscotti or make them shorter and wider if you want longer biscotti.
  6. transfer to the baking sheet. brush the top with the beaten egg & water mixture. in a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping. sprinkle over the egg coated loaves.
  7. bake for ~45 minutes until golden brown, rotating the sheet halfway through.
  8. remove from the oven - keep the oven on - and let cool on the sheet about 10 minutes. use a spatula and move the loaves to a cooling rack, until able to handle, about 10 minutes.
  9. use a serrated knife - my bread knife works best - and cut into slices the size you wish. put the slices cut side down on the baking sheet.
  10. sprinkle with more of the cinnamon sugar mixture and bake about 3 minutes. flip the biscotti, sprinkle with more of the cinnamon sugar mixture and bake an additional 3 minutes. cool on a cooking rack. store in an airtight container for up to a week.

chicken with artichokes, lemon, & angel hair

this is my kind of dinner.

sauteed, flattened chicken tenders. sandwich the tenders between two pieces of wax paper, and if you don't have a mallet, smack with the bottom of a sauce pan until they're the desired thickness. or should i say thinness?

thin angel hair pasta with a lemony artichoke sauce.


and an easy weeknight meal.
chicken with artichokes, lemon, & angel hair
adapted from everyday food's chicken with artichokes and angel hair

makes 2 hearty servings in about 30 minutes

1/4 cup flour
1/2 pound chicken tenders, pounded thin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1 can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
  1. cook the pasta according to package directions. while the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, make the chicken and the sauce.
  2. heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saute pan over medium high heat.
  3. place flour in a shallow dish & season with salt & pepper. dredge the chicken in the flour and set in the warm oil. do not crowd the pan - cook in two batches if necessary. cook the chicken until brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. remove chicken from the pan.
  4. add broth to the pan and bring to a simmer. cook until reduced by half.
  5. add the chicken and the artichokes. bring to a boil.
  6. remove from heat and mix in the butter. cover to keep warm.
  7. when the pasta is done cooking, drain. top the pasta with the chicken and sauce.


lemon orzo soup

i'll be honest. i did not like this soup. it didn't have enough orzo for me. it tasted waaaay too eggy. and the lemon - too much. but hey, you might like it.

hmm maybe i didn't temper the eggs right - but it was smooth and creamy without chunks of egg. maybe i was expecting something else. what, i don't know, but something with a bit more subtle lemon and definitely not tasting like a bowl of egg. if you really like lemon, try it, just add some more orzo.

it took no time to put together and the only thing i didn't have on hand already was the saffron, so i skipped it. all in all, an easy weeknight dinner.

lemon and orzo soup
from every day with rachael ray

(the best) light alfredo sauce

i know i know. it's been weeks since our ravioli extravaganza when i promised to post the alfredo recipe. but i've been busy. making a baby quilt for one chica who's having her first (and only) chico next month. so yea, i've been spending time with my kitchen and my sewing machine.

anyway...here's the alfredo. it's nice and creamy and the flavor is excellent. i think the crushed garlic makes it. and i quadrupled it to serve 12. i'm sure you could halve it to serve 2, but i haven't tried it yet.

how light can this really be? if you've never made real full-fat alfredo, it's 1 part parmesan cheese, 2 parts butter, and 2 parts heavy cream. yea, seriously.

light alfredo sauce
adapted from Cook's Illustrated, serves 4

1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup half & half
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
salt & pepper
pinch ground nutmeg
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. heat butter over medium heat in a large sauce pan until melted. whisk in the flour until it's cooked, smooth and golden, about 2 minutes.
  2. whisk in the milk, half & half. add the garlic, good pinch of salt & pepper, and pinch of nutmeg and bring to a simmer.
  3. reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. remove from heat. remove the garlic clove and stir in the parmesan cheese.
  5. when serving with pasta, add ~ 1 cup pasta cooking water to the sauce before mixing in the pasta to thin out the sauce a bit.


turkey & zucchini quiche

this has been on my weekly meal list for the last two weeks (yes, i plan my dinners for the following week every sunday morning). after an evening of shopping for dining room tables, i decided it was finally time to make this for dinner.

considering this was my first quiche attempt, i'd say it was a success. i personally didn't care for the flavor that much - i'm not sure if it's the zucchini or if it's missing something or what - but jason really really liked it. and it was super quick and easy to pull together and was light and fluffy.

i swapped out the chopped smoked turkey in the original recipe for 1/2 pound ground turkey, since i had it left over from turk burgs earlier in the week. and it worked beautifully.

i'm thinking next time i'll swap out the zuke and turkey for ham & potato. i'll let you know how it goes.

turkey & zucchini quiche
adapted from Inside the Kaganoff Kitchen

1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Bisquick (i used the heart smart version)
3 cups grated zucchini (i used frozen which i had leftover from last summer)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt & pepper
  1. preheat oven to 350. grease a 9 or 10" pie plate.
  2. melt the butter with the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. add the turkey, onion, and shallot and cook until the turkey is cooked completely and onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. break up the turkey so you have small pieces. remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  3. whisk the eggs, vegetable oil, and bisquick until smooth. make sure the turkey mixture isn't too hot (or it will scramble the eggs) and add to the mixture. mix in the zuke, parmesan, gruyere, and basil.
  4. pour into the pie plate and sprinkle extra gruyere on top.
  5. bake for 45 minutes until the eggs are set and the top is brown. let cool 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

baked donuts

they're all over the blogs. so i figured after my somewhat failed attempt at fried donuts last fall - i made apple cinnamon fried donuts that came out dense and hard and no good - that maybe the baked version would be a bit more forgiving. at least that's what i was hoping.

i got up this morning and made the dough. my dough was a bit wet so i added more flour until it was smooth and elastic. easy enough. and let it rest for about 45 minutes before i checked on it. when i finally checked, it hadn't risen much at all. since i don't have a really warm place in my house to stash it, i turned the oven onto "warm" and set the bowl in for the last 15 minutes. the dough rose a bit more, but in hindsight, probably not as much as it should have.

after jason searched online and in stores for a donut cutter for me at christmas, with no luck, i gave up and picked up these biscuit cutters yesterday. i needed a set anyway. and i like how they're fluted on one side and smooth circles on the other.

i rolled out the dough and used the 3.5" to cut out the circles. transferred them to the sheet pan and punched out 1.5" middles. i put the dough back in the warmed oven for about an hour to let it proof again. and again, they rose, probably not enough as they should have, but i baked them anyway. and after 8 short minutes, i had nice baked dough.

but that's all it was. baked dough. they aren't bad, but not amazing. definitely don't have the same light and airiness that i was expecting. i'll have to try these again sometime, with a different recipe.

but honestly, submerging in melted butter and rolling in cinnamon and sugar saved the day.

the recipe is found on 101 Cookbooks


the best (brown) soda bread

honestly, i've never thought too highly of recipes in the newspaper. i don't know why, i just never gave them much thought.

tonight i needed a quick bread to go with soup. i like irish soda bread, but i wanted something with wheat. most of the wheat soda bread recipes i found included something i didn't have on hand or the combination didn't sound all that appetizing. until i landed on this one...

and if you thought the irish soda bread from last month (or was it january?) was good, this one is waaaaay better.

it was just as quick - 5 minutes to throw together & 25 minutes to bake, i had all the ingredients, and the wheat flour definitely adds a really good nuttiness.

i halved the recipe to make one loaf, and it was the perfect size for four people....(or two if you're bread hounds like us...we ate three quarters of the loaf tonight with dinner)

brown soda bread
from the boston globe at http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2009/03/11/brown_soda_bread/

alton's dulce de leche

it worked.

sure, it took two hours, but it worked. rich, thick, creamy, sweet dulce de leche. and my house smells like sweet milk. amazing...but i did make one change.

i don't have vanilla beans. they simply cost too much in the grocery store and i haven't spent enough time figuring out what to buy and where to buy them online. so i skipped the vanilla bean. which kinda stinks, because i bet it would be amazingly good.

oh yea, and another thing to note - this recipe is a pot ruiner. my four quart pot soaked in soapy water for 6 hours this afternoon. i don't know if my "low" setting on my stove isn't low enough, but i had a nice burnt crust on the bottom and the sides were covered in sticky caramel goodness, so it took some elbow grease to clean it up. but it came clean.

after simmering for 30 minutes

after simmering for 60 minutes

after simmering for 90 minutes

after simmering for 120 minutes

alton's dulce de leche
recipe from food network

4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  1. combine milk & sugar in a 4 quart saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. when the sugar has dissolved, stir in the baking soda.
  3. reduce heat to low and cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally. do not reincorporate the foam that forms on top of the mixture.
  4. cook until the mixture is dark caramel color and reduced to about 1 cup, about 2 hours total.
  5. strain through a fine mesh sieve and store sealed in the refrigerator.


onion & garlic soup

i've been meaning to make this soup for the last two weeks. no joke. and whenever it's turn has come up for dinner, something else better has taken it's place. something more exciting, more filling, than simple onion soup.

and i love a good onion soup. i've eaten my way through rochester's french onion soup, and let me tell you, there's some good soup out there, and there is some real bad how-can-they-call-this-soup out there.

i've made my own french onion before and can never get it quite right. the addition of garlic to this one is perfect. the garlic mellows out in the 10 minutes its sauteed with the onion, so when you get bites of it, it's a nice warm garlic flavor. perfection.

and not only is it delicious, it's unbelievably easy to make, takes less than thirty minutes, and uses pantry ingredients. a turkey panini would have been a perfect accompaniment, had i thought of it before tonight.

i made some slight modifications to the original recipe...
  • i do not care for wet bread, so i definitely didn't top this with the toasted baguette. still can't bring myself to soak a piece of bread in soup and eat it. ick.
  • i added a touch of dried basil. the thyme and basil are used in my favorite mushroom soup, and i really like the combination. it worked well with the onions in this too.
  • i swapped dried thyme for fresh thyme, since it's march, and i definitely don't have fresh and refuse to pay what they're asking in the store. and honestly, in soup, dried is fine for me.
  • i cut half my onion into small dice and the other into small slices. i like the mix of small and larger onion pieces.
  • i omitted the balsamic vinegar. really, i was scared of it. i tasted the soup at the end, when it's time to add the vinegar, and loved the flavor already. i was afraid the vinegar would ruin it. i'll have to try it with the leftovers and see how it goes.

onion & garlic soup
adapted from everyday with rachel ray's sweet onion & garlic soup

25 minutes, start to serve, 3 hearty servings or 4-6 as a side/starter

3 tablespoons butter
1 sweet onion, chopped or sliced
1 head garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
32 ounces (4cups) beef broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon (hearty pinch) dried basil
salt & pepper

  1. melt the butter in a stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. add the garlic and onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. add the beef broth, thyme, basil, season with salt & pepper, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. serve. easy as can be.

error: baked dulce de leche

i keep seeing posts on other blogs about making dulce de leche and how easy it is.

it all started with not without salt's version of boiling the can submerged in water.

and then i saw needful thing's baked version and decided that sounded a little less scary.

so i bought a can of sweetened condensed milk, put it in a glass pie plate and covered with foil, put the pie plate in a roasting pan, filled the roasting pan up with water until it was about half up the pie plate, and put in a 435F oven for 60 minutes.

it did not work so well at all. the result was an ever so darker shade of sweetened condensed milk. not even close to what i was expecting.

so the next morning, i decided to bake it without the water bath. bad news.

i baked the covered pan at 400 for about 20 minutes, checking it every 5. now i see why the water bath was so important. the bottom and sides were pretty burnt and the middle had turned a light caramel color.

i let it cool, whisked it until smooth - being careful not to get the burnt parts mixed in - and tried it in my freshly pressed coffee.

but i wasn't wowed. it really didn't taste all that different from my normal routine of sugar + half & half. i'll have to try another version. or try a caramel instead.

chili mac & cheese

jason keeps asking me to make "normal" food. i'm not quite sure what that means, exactly (unless he really does mean 1950s food...hmmm...), but when i saw this recipe posted when poking around the internet, i knew it would be a winner.

how can you combine meat, cheese, and pasta and not win?

but there just wasn't enough heat. surprisingly, not enough spice. next time i'm going to double the cumin & chili powder, maybe amp up the pepper jack, and maybe, just maybe, i really shouldn't have omitted the jalapeno from the original recipe.

a couple other tips -
  • start the water boiling for the mac when you're prepping for the chili. i started the water later, when i added the turk to the pan, and the chili was done way before the mac. i should have timed it better.
  • i didn't let the milk cook long enough to thicken before i added the cheese, so the mac & cheese was pretty runny - not enough to really be bad, but enough to want it thicker. next time, i'm going to wait a bit longer.
and if you think this is good the day you make it, just wait until leftovers the next day. the flavors meld together and it isn't as wet. perfect.

chili mac & cheese
adapted from life's ambrosia

30 minutes start to finish, 4 hearty servings

for the chili:
1 pound ground turkey
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, strained (without the juice)
14.5 ounces kidney beans
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

for the mac & cheese:
2 cups dried macaroni
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups 2% or whole (or a mix) milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded colby jack
1/2 cup pepper jack

  1. bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package.
  2. in a skillet, cook the turkey, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and garlic powder until meat is brown. remove meat from the pan.
  3. in the same skillet, heat olive oil over medium and cook onions and garlic. cook until onions start to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. add meat back to the pan.
  4. stir in tomatoes and beans. add remaining 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and hot sauce.
  5. reduce heat to low and simmer while you finish the mac & cheese. if the chili seems dry, add a little water until it's not soaked, but not dry.
  6. for the mac & cheese, strain the mac when it's done cooking. put the pan back on medium heat and melt the butter.
  7. whisk in the flour for one minute. slowly whisk in the milk and cook for one minute.
  8. add the cheeses, season with salt & pepper, and mix until melted.
  9. return mac to the pan and stir until evenly coated.
  10. remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
  11. mix the chili into the mac and cheese until well incorporated.
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