Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Linzer Cookies

It's almost the new year which means so many of us are going to have food-related resolutions stifle our diets for at least the next few days so I'm ending the year with something buttery and sugary: linzer cookies. I love linzer cookies. I don't know what it is about them, but I've always loved them. Maybe it's because they're so pretty? I used to get them at university all the time as a little pick-me-up between classes. I haven't had one since I left Ithaca, which is sad, right? So, to fix that problem, I made a batch.
Ingredients [makes about a dozen cookies]:
1 cup flour
½ cup blanched almonds
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
raspberry jam (or jam of your choice)
powdered sugar

Monday, December 30, 2013

Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup

I won't lie and say that I don't enjoy canned soup. I quite love Campbell's Cream of Tomato; it's delicious. But, making a homemade version just feels really appropriate for a chilly and snowy winter Saturday, which is what the weather was like when I made this a few weekends ago.
3½ lbs ripe tomatoes
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 sprigs thyme
¾ cup tomato paste
3 cups chicken stock
½ cup cream
salt and pepper
olive oil

Friday, December 27, 2013

Sparkling Moscato Cocktails

With New Year's Eve quickly approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to share a few cocktails. I used to be a big drinker in college (who wasn't?) and I was a party maniac for a while but lately, I v. rarely drink. I don't know if it's because I'm lame or just not into it anymore. However, that's not to say I don't enjoy the occasional sweet libation.

My favorite wine, and possibly my favorite alcoholic drink, is Moscato D'Asti. It's a really sweet white dessert wine and sometimes it's effervescent. Because it's my favorite, I'm sharing three easy cocktail ideas based around this one type of wine. If you're making a party, it would be easy enough to just set out some chilled bottles of wine and the flavor additions as a drink station and people could mix their own drinks as needed. The perfect low-maintenance strategy for the low-key host(ess).
I wasn't 100% sure how to share the proportions of these drinks so I just did them relative to the size of one bottle of wine, but honestly, how sweet you make your cocktails is up to you.

Ginger Cinnamon Pear Syrup

Flavored syrups are an amazing way to add a little something to a cocktail or mocktail. I'll be sharing cocktail recipes a little later today and one of the components of one of the drinks I'm mixing up is a pear syrup. It's really delicious but simple to assemble.
Ingredients [yields about ½ cup of syrup]:
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
knob of ginger
1 bartlett pear

How To: Seed a Pomegranate

While I was in college, I fell in love with Pom iced teas. They were bottled in glass cups which could be reused and they were delicious. I loved the peach one, especially. Ironically, I'd never seen a pomegranate in real life until just a few years ago. I'd only had the juice. I don't know why either, because fresh pomegranates are delicious. They have this weird reputation of being annoying to "dissect," which confuses me because I think they're easy to take apart. Let me show you!
Here's what a pomegranate looks like. It's like a humongous Christmas ornament. You'll want to start by trimming off the bottom, carefully scooping out the stem, and then scoring the fruit longitudinally. I score along the raised ridges. The ridges are rather subtle, but once you look for them, they start to look pretty obvious.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

Did everyone enjoy their holidays? I hope so. I'm just sharing a few photos of our day and our delicious lunch/dinner (we ate at 3). It wasn't as big as Thanksgiving since it was just three of us, excuse me, four including George Michael, but it was still amazing.
{my handmade card}

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Café Au Lait

Happy Christmas! Is everyone having a lovely holiday? I am. Christmas morning is always really hectic but the afternoon is for winding down. You know, the time where you all sit around, watch a ton of random television, and cozy up with a mug of something warm.
coffee beans + grinder
french press
steamed milk + frother

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

Happy Christmas Eve! Besides being Christmas Eve, today is sort of special because this is my 500th post! That's kind of crazy for me to think about, but I guess since I've been blogging for a few years now, that totally makes sense. I love the progress I've made and I hope a year from now, I look at today's blog post and think, "Whoa, that post is so ugly. I've improved so much." Growth is fun to observe.

Anyway, today, I'm sharing a cozy soup recipe, which I thought was nice and seasonal and kind of holiday appropriate. I made this a couple weeks ago on a lazy, snowy Sunday afternoon. It was the first real snow of the season (re: I actually had to clean off my car) and I was just bumming around, knitting in front of the television, when I suddenly remembered that there was a butternut squash sitting in the pantry. This particular squash had been bought when we went apple picking way back in October, which may sound gross but (uncut) winter squash has a nice long shelf life - 2 months at room temperature, 3 months in the fridge. I mean, that's why it's called winter squash; it's harvested in the autumn after the skin has gone tough so that it can be consumed in the winter. It probably could've lasted a few more weeks in the cupboard but I figured I should hurry up and use it anyway.

All of the versions of butternut squash I've ever eaten, either in restaurants or from store-bought cans, have been really sweet and creamy, which makes sense since squash is sweet and creamy. But, I decided my version should be a little different and have a bit of a kick so I added some cayenne pepper, a bit of fresh ginger, and crushed red pepper, among other seasonings. Obviously, I used butternut squash but you could use acorn squash, pumpkin, banana squash, pretty much any hearty winter squash will do. Neither my recipe nor I are vegetarian or vegan but if you are, you could substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock and almond milk for the cream.

Ingredients [serves 6 to 8]:
2 lbs. butternut squash (or another winter squash of your choice)
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter (or a combination of both)
½ onion, diced (about ½ cup)
1 carrot, diced (about ½ cup)
1 celery stalk, diced (about ½ cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
3 sprigs thyme
1 sprig rosemary, stripped
pinch of nutmeg
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
¼ cup cream (or almond milk)
salt and pepper to taste

Monday, December 23, 2013

Diced Apple Cake

It's almost Christmas! Eek! Have you done all of your Christmas shopping yet? My family isn't huge on presents in general so it's not a big deal and none of it stresses us out. If we can think of something fun or if someone specifically requests something (usually out of necessity) then we'll make a baby-sized production of it. The funnest Christmas gift I bought this year was a toy for George Michael (my dog). I got him this stuffing-less beaver toy whose head squeaks and whose giant tail is filled with crunchy-sounding plastic. I know GM is going to love it.

Honestly, for me, Christmas is more about the food (my gosh, prime rib, I'm drooling) than the presents so the best part is planning, cooking, and consuming Christmas dinner. Oh, and duh, Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus, duh, but that's a touchy subject for a lot of people so I won't get into it. I do enjoy all of the holiday cheer in the air though. It's nice.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, my coworker, who originally hails from Illinois and has an apple tree in the backyard of his Illinois home, brought me a huge bag of apples from said tree. How lucky is he that there's an apple tree in his backyard? He warned me that they were a bit on the soft side so they were probably better for baking than for eating fresh. I wasn't in the mood to make pie or applesauce or any of the "usual" stuff so I decided to make a cake using a LOT of apple and I came up with the following:
6 medium-sized apples
3 eggs
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup powdered sugar
+ whipped cream (optional)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lasagne Bolognese

So the reason I made the bolognese from yesterday was because I wanted to use it to make lasagne because I was craving lasagne. I daydream about food and then I get obsessed and nothing else tastes good so I have to find a way to satisfy my craving. I'm such a fatso, right?

I shared a white lasagne on my blog last year but I haven't shared a red lasagne yet. And since I have a pasta maker now, I made it with fresh pasta. It was so simple but really delicious; I surprised myself. I definitely recommend making this for guests. Anyone you feed this to will be really impressed (except for maybe vegans and vegetarians). And you can brag and be all, "I made this from scratch with fresh pasta. I'm awesome." And your friends will be like, "Get over yourself," until they take a bite and then they'll be like, "HOLY SH*T. You really are amazing!"
Ingredients [makes a 9"x13" pan]
¾ lb. pasta dough [if you use the recipe I shared previously, just cut the quantities in half]
2 cups bechamel
3 cups bolognese
2 cups shredded cheese (mild, melting cheese like mozzarella, havarti, fontina, gruyere)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
butter or olive oil for greasing.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Okay, so after a jillion dessert recipes, I'm finally sharing something savory again.

Bolognese is a meat-based sauce that's simmered with lots of love and there are countless variations. Some use strictly beef, some use pancetta, some recipes contain milk, and there are some hardcore advocates that say, "It's not a bolognese unless you _____!" Honestly, unless you personally invented the recipe, I don't think you have any right to say what's right and what's wrong. I think if it has the same spirit, follows the general guidelines, and most important of all, if it tastes good, then you're probably on the right track.

Obviously I'm not Italian so this recipe isn't a super authentic, passed down for generations, given to me by my Strega Nona, blah blah blah, holy grail recipe. It's something I just came up with based on what I've watched Food Network chefs doing and what I personally like about bolognese.
Ingredients [makes 4 to 6 cups of sauce]:
1½ lbs ground beef (I used a 90-10 mix; you could use any ground meat of your choice, really, even sausage)
1 medium onion, diced (about 1.5 cups)
2 to 3 carrots, grated (about 1.5 cups)
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
2 bay leaves
2 x 6 oz. cans of tomato paste
28 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes
2 cups water (or wine)
salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon of each)
olive oil

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée is my most favorite dessert in the world. The best creme brulee I've ever had was in Paris, of course. My sister and I had just arrived on a flight from London. It was pretty late and we were starving. We found a restaurant close to our hotel, wobbled in (our legs were wobbly with hunger), and ate a delicious meal. I then used my impeccable (re: pathetic) French skills to order a dessert to share. I think I said something like, "Oi, garçon, nous mangerons un dessert, ensemble, sil-te-plaît? Deux cuillères, une crème brûlée." the translation of what I said was, "Oi, sir, we will eat one dish, together, please? Two spoons, one crème brûlée." He was so impressed he gave it to us for free. Just kidding. He charged us extra for my terrible accent. Just kidding again, we paid the regular amount.

Despite loving this crunchy sugar-topped custard, I've never made it myself because I didn't own a kitchen torch. But I recently bought one, soley with the intention of making crème brûlée (though it's come in handy elsewhere).
3 cups cream (I used light cream but heavy whipping cream would work too)
1 vanilla bean
4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
pinch of salt
+sugar for brûlée-ing

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


The graham crackers I shared yesterday make awesome s'mores.
All you need are graham crackersmarshmallows, and chocolate. If you don't have a torch, just brown the marshmallow in your broiler.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Homemade Graham Crackers

As you know, I made myself a batch of homemade marshmallows with the intent of throwing them into mugs of hot chocolate. But, everyone knows, the main purpose of marshmallows (besides being the glue in rice krispies treats) is to make s'mores, right? I was digging through my pantry but we didn't have any graham crackers in the house and instead of running out to the store to get some (which would have taken all of 10 minutes) I decided to make them from scratch (which took several hours). Am I crazy? Maybe.
So I still remember learning about graham crackers in history class (I think it was sophomore year of high school) when we were discussing the Popular Health Movement and Andrew Jackson or something. We learned that some creepy minister invented graham crackers as a way to suppress the sexual appetites of his congregation. He believed that bland food would quell one's carnal urges. (FYI, Kellogg's corn flakes were created with a similar motive; if you ever wondered why they're so terribly bland). What a weirdo, huh? Anyway, graham crackers have evolved quite a bit since the 1700s; now they're sweet and more of a cookie than a cracker and they actually taste good. I think they might actually have the opposite effect than Graham intended, at least for me. TMI? Okay, then, let's move on.

Ingredients [makes 2 dozen crackers, depends on the size]:
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
¼ cup cold butter (1/2 a stick)
3 tablespoons honey
1½ tablespoons molasses
¼ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
+ 1 tablespoon raw sugar
+ 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
+ ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Friday, December 13, 2013

Hot Chocolate

I'm sharing a homemade hot chocolate recipe today. So today's post was extra fun for me because I got to use yesterday's marshmallows.
Ingredients [1 serving]:
1 cup milk (preferably whole)
¼ cup dark chocolate chips (60% cacao) - more or less depending on how chocolatey you want it
pinch of salt
+ optional seasonings: drizzle of honey, pinch of cinnamon, chili powder, nutmeg, hazelnut extract, whatever you like!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Homemade Marshmallows

Wow, so far, all of my December posts, except for two, have been sweets. Well, 'tis the season or something.
Today, I'm sharing something fun: homemade marshmallows! I mean, duh, you already knew that because of the title, right? I was inspired by (re)watching The Lorax recently. There's that scene where the Once-ler rips open a bag of marshmallows and they go flying into the air, remember?

There really is no reason to make marshmallows yourself except it's just a fun thing to do. Sure, you could run out to the market and buy a bag; it's more practical and it's probably cheaper. But this is cooler and you can brag to your friends about it. You can really shove it in their faces how awesome you are, you big show off.
3 packets of powdered gelatin (approximately 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons)
½ cup + ½ cup water
12 oz. granulated sugar (approximately 1½ cups)
½ cup light corn syrup (the clear kind)
2 egg whites (optional)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or extract of your choice (suggestions: peppermint, coconut, maple, cinnamon, or hazelnut)
oil for greasing
powdered sugar for dusting (about ½ cup)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cinnamon Ice Cream

Ice cream may not seem like a winter-appropriate dessert but I made this ice cream for Thanksgiving to accompany a vanilla bean bread pudding, and when it's an accompaniment to a warm dish, I think ice cream is v. appropriate. I actually made the bread pudding with challah bread instead of sourdough and it was good; like, good enough to the point where I want to make all future bread puddings exclusively with challah. To elevate the dessert a little more special for the holiday, I thought I'd impress my guests with some homemade ice cream. I mean, crème anglaise (the type of ice cream base I use) is an amazing sauce on bread pudding already, so if you serve cold ice cream over hot bread pudding and some of it melts, it's just like you spooned a bit of sauce over the top. Parfait.
2 cups half & half
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup + ½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cinnamon stick
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Monday, December 9, 2013

What I Ate: The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

My sister will tell you that I have been obsessing over what I call "school cafeteria chocolate chip cookies" forever (or since I've last had access to them, which was back in high school). She will attest to how annoying I've been. I've tried countless chocolate chip cookie recipes and none of them have passed the test. Even Phoebe Buffay's grandmother's recipe (a.k.a. Nestle Tollhouse cookies) don't cut it for me. I wanted cookies that were somewhat thin with a good crunch around the outside, a chewy center, mini chocolate chips, and a crackled texture. Do you know the type of cookie I'm describing? Yes? No? I mean, doesn't every public school in America serve the exact same chocolate chip cookies?

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this recipe through the Savory Sweet Life blog (by googling, "best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever"). I read through the directions, looked at the photos and thought to myself, Hm, these could be the ones. So, I made a batch and guess what? This cookie was exactly what I'd been looking for, hooray! Just to reiterate, I take absolutely no credit for this recipe (though I wish I could). I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Savory Sweet Life. Thanks, Alice!
2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 oz. all purpose flour (approximately 3 cups)*
¾ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
2¼ cups chocolate chips (or as many as you'd like)**

*12 oz. by weight! I didn't think I had to clarify this, but I had someone comment (you can see the comment below) that 12 oz. is only 1-1/2 cups. This is true when you're measuring water but not when you are measuring flour. When dry ingredients are quantified in ounces, it's by weight. When wet ingredients are quantified in ounces, it's by volume. Didn't think I had to clear that up, but apparently I do!

**I use mini chocolate chips because that's just what I prefer in my cookies. I'm not the biggest fan of chocolate. I also used a bit less than the recipe called for (about 2/3 of the bag) because I wanted a more even ratio of chips to cookie in every bite and my sweet tooth is on the smaller side (despite how it may seem based on the number of desserts I share on this blog) so I didn't want the cookies to be overly chocolatey. If you're a big chocolate fan, might I suggest chocolate chunks?

Friday, December 6, 2013

What I Ate: Dolsot Bibimbap

Bibimbap is one of my favorite Korean dishes but bibimbap made in a hot stone pot? That is the ultimate.
{heating the pot | oiling the pot | adding in the rice | adding in the vegetables} 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Literally Coffee Cake

I call this "literally" coffee cake because there's actually coffee in the recipe. It's not just a cake you make to accompany your cup of coffee. It's also rather convenient because I used boxed cake mix instead of measuring out a bunch of flour and baking powder and sugar and blahblahblah.
This cake is kind of, sort of a weird play on tiramisu. Actually, it's nothing like tiramisu but it was inspired by tiramisu's feature ingredients: coffee, chocolate, and mascarpone.

Cake Ingredients:
1 box of yellow cake mix
1 cup strong coffee
¼ cup melted butter
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup chocolate chips (optional)

Ganache Ingredients:
¾ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup cream
¼ cup strong coffee

Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
1 cup mascarpone cream
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What I Ate: Magic Custard Cake

So, what is magic custard cake? I found this recipe through the White On Rice Couple. I happened upon it a few weeks ago, I think through Smitten Kitchen, and I kept going back to look at the post because I was so intrigued by this "magic" cake and finally decided that I should just make it.
This cake really is magical. I brought it to a family party and everyone kept asking, "How did you make this? Did you layer a bunch of different batters?" It's a relatively simple recipe, though it took quite a few mixing bowls, but the outcome is quite rewarding.

I made the recipe just as written except instead of vinegar to stabilize the egg whites, I used cream of tartar.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Quick Cabbage Kimchi

Recently, my local grocery store started stocking Napa cabbage. Napa cabbage is also known as Chinese cabbage and it's the main ingredient in the most commonly made baechu kimchi (baechu is Korean for cabbage). Unfortunately, the day I decided to buy some Napa cabbage and make kimchi, my market did not have any daikon (white radish) so I ended up making the lazy person's kimchi.

This kimchi recipe is relatively quick and simple and doesn't require as much effort as traditional baechu kimchi but it's still yummy.
3 lbs Napa cabbage
½ cup coarse sea salt
1 bulb garlic, minced (yes, a whole bulb!)
2 tablespoons grated ginger
¼ cup hot pepper flakes (gochugaru; to taste)
4 to 5 scallions, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce (to taste)
1 tablespoon sugar

Monday, December 2, 2013

What I Ate: DIY Pancake Mix

I used my buttermilk pancake recipe to make my own DIY pancake mix because I despise boxed mix and I've had a bit of a pancake obsession lately so it's just been easier to make them this way. I just added all of the dry ingredients to a jar and made a pretty little tag for it. Admittedly, the proportions are going to be EVER SO SLIGHTLY off because in the original recipe, you're starting with 1 cup of flour and then adding a bunch of stuff to it so really, it should be something like, 1 cup + 3 tablespoons of dry mix, but seriously, it's not a big deal. To make up for that, I just omitted the milk from the recipe directions.
Anyway, here are the results of this awesome product. The griddle pan is from World Market (one of my new favorite places to buy kitchen stuff). It's double sided and the flat side is perfect for making pancakes.
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