Saturday, April 13, 2013

Easter Lunch

I hosted my first family holiday meal this Easter in our new and improved home. We wanted to switch up the menu and make it a little easier on ourselves, so we chose to forgo the ham, and stick with pork tenderloin instead.
Roasted sweet potatoes are always a favorite, as are deviled eggs and macaroni and cheese. Well, anything covered in cheese is a favorite in this house I guess. Not pictured are the yeast rolls and actual green veggies that accompanied this spread of meet and butter-laden dishes.

Can't forget dessert! Tried my first italian cream cake. Not too shabby, but I know what I will change next time that I make one.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Marinated Cucumbers

This is a Pinterest special. I have never, in my life, voluntarily eaten a cucumber. I saw this on Pinterest, and decided that this recipe was worth overcoming my lifelong hatred of this odd vegetable. They were pretty delicious, I have to admit. Got this from a great blog post, but I left out the onions because I didn't have any.

1-1/2 lbs cucumber (about 3 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c rice vinegar, seasoned or regular
1/2 c water
3 Tbs sugar*
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbs minced red onion


1. Place cucumber slices in a colander sitting over a bowl, sprinkle with salt and toss well. Let sit for 1 hour refrigerated. Toss the cukes a few times while they drain as well. While cucumber slices are draining, prepare marinade below.
2. Combine vinegar, water, sugar and red pepper in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cook until reduced to a 1/3 cup (about 10 minutes). If for some reason you boil for too long, just add a little water until you have 1/3 C. Remove reduction from heat and add onion. Let mixture cool to room temp.
3. When cucumbers are done resting, pat them dry with a few paper towels and then combine with the vinegar reduction. This can be served immediately, but for best results refrigerate until well chilled.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Chocolate Tart

On previously noted Short Rib night, I needed to come up with something for dessert after a red wine- laced meal. What better than chocolate, right? I had a spare puck of pie dough laying around so I cobbled together a chocolate filling and made this easy dessert. It is a great thing to make out of what you have laying around, I decided.

Inspiration found here.

How to make the chocolate filling:


12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Roll out fresh or store bought pastry dough to 1/8" thickness and line the tart pan, making sure you press it well into the pan. Prick the dough with a fork and fill it up with dried beans and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 17-20 minutes until it looks slightly golden and firm. Let it cool.
  2. For the filling: Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth, then remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes. Whisk together the eggs, cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until combined.
  3. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Bake until the filling 1 inch from edges is set and slightly puffed but center wobbles when pan is gently shaken, 20 to 25 minutes. (The center will continue to set as it cools.)
  4. Dust with icing sugar when cool.

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Once in a while, I get the urge to make short ribs. It isn't something I've mastered yet, by any means, but I came across this recipe from Bon Appetit's website. They claimed that it was both delicious and impossible to screw up, and I proved them right. Original recipe link listed below.

I started out with short ribs that I was able to get at the local market, and seared them in a little bacon fat and olive oil. The smell was amazing - I wish I could bottle it.

After removing browned short ribs, I added onions, celery, and carrots to the pot, and scraped all the yummy "bits" off of the bottom of the pot.

After the veggies were brown, I combined with a bottle of Cab and beef stock, and let the mixture reduce. Then I added the contents of the pot and the browned short ribs to a roasting pan and set sail on a 4 hour journey to dinnertown. Voila! Falling off the bone. Still working on my presentation. 

 We paired the ribs with roasted veggies and mashed potatoes, and reduced the remaining cooking liquid to make a gravy that was most delicious. Overall, a great "special" meal to switch things up. 


  • 5poundsbone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2" pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3tablespoonsvegetable oil
  • 3medium onions, chopped
  • 3medium carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 2celery stalks, chopped
  • 3tablespoonsall-purpose flour
  • 1tablespoontomato paste
  • 1750-ml bottle dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 10sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 8sprigs thyme
  • 4sprigs oregano
  • 2sprigs rosemary
  • 2fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 1head of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 4cupslow-salt beef stock


  • Preheat oven to 350°. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 Tbsp. drippings from pot.
  • Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined and deep red, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs to pot along with garlic. Stir in stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.
  • Cook until short ribs are tender, 2–2 1/2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls over mashed potatoes with sauce spooned over.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Baby Shower Nibbles

I got the opportunity to play caterer for a friend who was hosting a baby shower recently. I did not take photos of the goodies because they were not all assembled until they got to the party site. However, the gracious mom-to-be, Bethany, snapped these gorgeous photos of the final product. I am so pleased! Also I had a lot of help, so big props to Brian, Kiley, and Karl for digging in and being so great.
Cake pops - Kiley's masterpiece. They're blue because it's a boy. :)

Baked potato bites.

Berry salad with Champagne vinigrette.

Cucubmber cups with chicken salad.
Thanks to the hostess with the mostest for letting me help!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rich Red Velvet

It's baking season, hooray! In anticipation of guests this weekend, I wanted to make a dessert that we could nibble on for a few days. Obviously, Red Velvet cake is always a winner. Plus, who doesn't love lots of food dye?
Verdict was mostly positive. I don't take "messy to cut" as too hard of a critique. :)

I used one of Sara Moulton's recipes, and added my own favorite cream cheese frosting.
Vegetable oil for the pans
2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 ounce)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
cream cheese frosting
crushed pecans, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour 3 (9 by 1 1/2-inch round) cake pans.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
Using a standing mixer, mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and a smooth batter is formed.
Divide the cake batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Place the pans in the oven evenly spaced apart. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through the cooking, until the cake pulls away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the oven and run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pans. One at a time, invert the cakes onto a plate and then re-invert them onto a cooling rack, rounded-sides up. Let cool completely.
Frost the cake. Place 1 layer, rounded-side down, in the middle of a rotating cake stand. Using a palette knife or offset spatula spread some of the cream cheese frosting over the top of the cake. (Spread enough frosting to make a 1/4 to 1/2-inch layer.) Carefully set another layer on top, rounded-side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer and cover the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with the pecans.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Itty Bitty Apple Pies

I fell prey to a food fad today. I couldn't help it. I was wandering around with my husband in Crate & Barrel when his eyes lit up as he pointed to a display touting all things classified as "mini pie." So we bought one, rushed home, and made pie. Lots and lots of little pies, actually. It has been a long time since I have made a pie from scratch, but I think I'll be doing it more often now. They're. Too. Cute.
First in the "Itty Bitty Pie" series is apple. I anticipated figuring out bake time, etc would be easier with something that I already knew how to make. Plus we had some apples on hand and I was too lazy to go get anything else.
For the filling,I peeled and chopped the apples, and made sure I had my pan close by.
Please note that each of the "pie" sections in the pan has a removable bottom like a tart pan - essential for tiny pie removal.

Sautee apples with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and whiskey.

Cut rounds of pie dough for bottom crust. Note: my pan came with an appropriately sized round for sizing (a giant cookie cutter) but yours may not. Also, having done this once now, I think the size they suggest is too small, and you'll see later that my crusts separate - irritating. The 2nd batch I made was larger and much better.

After cooking the filling, I added it to the waiting dough. It is important not to overfill!

I placed on the top crust (which, as I mentioned earlier was too small to effectively seal the edges, but whatever) and 30 minutes later, these adorable little pies popped out. I used a shot glass to raise the little bottoms out of the molds, and cooled until we couldn't stand it any longer.

Next time, I will make sure the crust is thinner, and cut a little larger. However, the portability (and adorability!) of these little guys makes them worth the work.

Here are the recipes I used:

Dough: I found this recipe to be simple and easy. Made enough for 4 double crust pies and 4 single crust pies. (12 rounds total, and there was a little extra.)


3 apples, peeled and chopped into 3/8" bits. I used Granny Smith because they seem to be resilient.
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp whiskey (We happened to have a bottle of Jack laying around.)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 egg + 1 Tbsp water (egg wash)


1. Melt the butter in a pan on medium high heat. Add all ingredients and stir to coat. Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring consistently.
2. Remove from heat until pie shells are ready. Makes enough for 4 mini pies (4").
3. Fill pie shells, apply and crimp on top shell, and paint with egg wash.
4. Bake at 375 for 30 min and let cool. Enjoy!

These are almost like eating cookies, except the crust is much more flaky.