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Patriotic Treats

7/3/15

Remember how fireworks were both exciting and completely terrifying as a kid?  I was always convinced the droopy ones would fall from the sky and land on me.  We saw some from our neighborhood last night, and Etta went to bed biting her nails, poor thing, but I hope she fell asleep having awesome, magical dreams about them.  Here are some treat ideas for your happy weekends!


Bacon American Flag Pizza


I'm not the best at following directions.  If I feel like I can do something on my own, I will try before really thinking it through, or looking at an instruction manual.  Why must there be so many words?  So many steps?  So many, before you begin's?  I don't want to before I begin!  I wanna begin!  

I'm a child.  This impatience can get me in trouble in the kitchen.  I see a photo on pinterest and think, I can do that!  I'm going to do that!  And then I attempt without really thinking it through.  This Bacon American Flag Pizza is case in point.  I saw this photo, started jumping up and down (no really), and grabbing things in my fridge.  I happened to have pizza dough in the freezer, fresh mozzarella cheese, purple potatoes (surprising), bacon (less surprising) and pizza sauce.  Who needs directions!?

Well, had I looked at the ACTUAL recipe (found here), I would have realized I needed to bake the bacon first to get it crispy.  And I would have realized that using alfredo sauce instead of a tomato-based sauce would have kept the cheese whiter.  And if/when I make this again, I will use shredded mozzarella cheese.  Oh well, you can still tell that it's a flag, right?  It tasted good! 

Now I want to make a patriotic dessert.  Any ideas? 

Blistered Tomatoes

7/2/15


Sometimes, when I think I have absolutely NOTHING in the house to cook for dinner, I remember that I have tomatoes and I have pasta, therefore I have a meal.  By slowly cooking cherry tomatoes until they blister and pop, you create a delicious sauce, and it couldn't be easier.  I just heat up one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, add the tomatoes, season them with salt and pepper, and cook them for however long I want.  Sometimes as little as 10 minutes, sometimes for as long as 30.  Sometimes I add minced garlic or shallots.  Sometimes fresh basil at the end (and a dash of cream?!).  But I always add them to cooked pasta, and I always top it with lots of Parmesan cheese.     

I hope you're all getting ready to enjoy your holiday weekends!  I wrote another article for the Today Show Parenting Team about summer... and how I'm TRYING to keep it simple and fun (and messy... I keep chanting "let kids be messy, let kids be messy" - it helps with the OCD).  
You can read it (and vote!) here.

Blue Apron Miso Chicken

6/26/15


There's nothing more frustrating than the dinnertime rut... that familiar tug and pull between making the same old thing, trying something new (but what??) and calling the delivery guy.  This is the main reason I've been dying to try Blue Apron, they take the guessing game out of your nightly routine!  If you don't know about Blue Apron, it's a pretty fabulous service that sends out weekly recipes with pre-portioned, fresh ingredients in one convenient box.  The meals are simple, yet unique, so you'll most likely try something you hadn't thought of making!  You still get to do the cooking, but they make your prep very easy, and the recipes are extremely easy to follow with step-by-step photos as you go along.  Carson and I tried out the 2-person meal plan for one week, and the other night I made the Miso Roasted Chicken with Spring Peas and Jasmine Rice.

As a fan of miso, I LOVED this.  The chicken was roasted perfectly in the oven, and the spring peas brightened everything up.  I had never worked with pea shoots before, so that was fun to try, and the chopped nuts sprinkled on top gave the meal a wonderful texture.  Some comments on the site say the dish is too salty, but I didn't really think so (I should mention, however, that I LOVE salt).  I give this dish a two thumbs up, and I give Blue Apron three thumbs up!  (I have three thumbs, it's amazing the things you learn about me on this site.)    



Today Food Contributor!

6/25/15


Yesterday was a humbling, overwhelming and surreal day.  It was announced that I will be joining the Today Show family as a Today Food Contributor!  Every time I'm there, I feel like making a bedazzled poster and joining the energetic plaza crowd... and then someone comes to put a microphone on me and I'm like, oh, you want me to be on TV?  Are you sure?????  Pinch me.

What I'm even more excited about (if that's possible) is the launch of the new TODAY Food (check out this video if you haven't already).  It's a redesigned website with easy-to-follow recipes, tips, meal plans and videos... it's real, healthy, affordable and SIMPLE meals... it's finding your comfort-zone in the kitchen... it's Today.com/food.  HA!  I'm a commercial!  But seriously - no SIRIiously - my goal all along with this blog has been to make cooking FUN.  If a recipe freaks you out, change it, if you can't find a weird ingredient, skip it.  Cooking does not have to be intimidating!  

To answer one big question I got yesterday... NO, this new gig does not mean I will give up blogging.  In fact, I'll probably blog more!  I seem to be more productive when I'm busier, is that weird?  This blog is my happy place, and you virtual people are my virtual family.         

So in case you didn't see my segments yesterday, you can view them (and find the recipes) here:

Thanks for all the well wishes, you guys are THE BEST!

Mini Cookie Butter Cake

6/23/15


Don't worry, no tuscan beans or rice were harmed in the baking of this cake.  Or used at all.  That photo is just for reference, because I baked this cake in a soup can!  (Which I've done before here and here.)  I mean, is there anything cuter than a tin can cake??  Not if you're a woman, because then you love mini things (don't get me started on the tiny tabasco bottles you get at hotels).

This cake is baked with Biscoff, and is topped with a cookie butter buttercream.  If you're a fan of the stuff, you will LOVE this tiny treat!  And you might do what Carson and I did, which is dip each bite in tequila.  Or rum.  Because that's a totally normal and logical thing to do.      


Mini Cookie Butter Cake
Recipe adapted from The Baker Chick

For cake:

1 egg white
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 Tbsp cookie butter spread
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 Tbsp milk

For frosting:

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
2 Tbsp cookie butter spread
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an empty, cleaned soup can with baking spray.  In a bowl, whisk together the egg white and sugar until combined.  Add melted butter, cookie spread and vanilla, and continue to whisk until creamy.  Stir in flour, baking powder and salt.  Finally, whisk in milk until everything is combined.  Pour into soup can, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let cake cool before applying frosting.

For frosting, vigorously stir together the butter and cookie butter spread.  Add the powdered sugar and milk, and stir until combined and creamy.  Spread onto cooled cake.

Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake

6/22/15


It's Carson's birthday!  We are on day 3 of celebrating over here, after having a little party on Saturday and of course Father's Day yesterday.  It's all very confusing for our almost-three-year-old daughter, who thinks every birthday party is HERS.  On Saturday, Carson requested a "light fluffy cake" with berries and whipped cream, so I found this recipe for a Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake.

For the first time, I made this type of cake properly with a grocery store-bought angel food cake pan.  Follow these three pointers, and you TOO can enjoy this deliciously "light and fluffy" treat:

1. As tempting as it may be, do not grease the pan.  Apparently the cake needs something to cling to. 
2. Fold your ingredients together!  Google "how to fold cake batter" if you need a tutorial.
3. Once baked, turn the cake upside down on top of a beer bottle to prevent cake from collapsing.

Happy Birthday Carson :)

Homemade Treats for Dad

6/19/15

I always find Father's Day hard to shop for.  Most of the cool, techy toys I know Carson would LOVE are like, stupid expensive (I'm talking to you, drones).  I've found homemade gifts are the most meaningful, whether that's a customized beer bottle label from this site, or a baked treat from MY site!  Here are some ideas!  Exclamation points!  (Or is it marks?)


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