Archive for the 'food' Category

Homemade Applesauce

I am never buying applesauce again! I’ve always liked it but never had homemade until Joseph decided to make it on a whim a few weeks ago–I can’t believe we waited so long. Making your own is so easy and delicious. Plus, you know the ingredients are fresh and chemical-free!

Homemade Applesauce from
4 apples – peeled, cored and chopped
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.

Seriously, how easy is that? I’m laughing at myself for buying applesauce all these years.

French Toast with Berry Butter

Today marks one year since we packed up all of our belongings, stacked them in our front yard, and put them in a gigantic crate.  Actually, we only watched as military-paid movers did the hard work (and thank god for that–I hate moving).

Still, today is a bit of an emotional day for me. Joseph for some reason is absolutely unaffected, but I’m having a hard time grappling the fact that we left our first home together a year ago.

It’s best to hide my feelings by surrounding myself with butter.

The Pioneer Woman posted this a few days ago, and I knew I had no chance–I had to make it over the weekend. Sunday Morning was French Toast with Berry Butter Morning. It was a good morning.

Not only is the butter delicious, but I love the french toast! It’s made with egg yolks, which delivers a beautiful yellow color and leaves behind the intense egg flavor you sometimes find in french toast. I plan to make french toast this way–with berry butter or not–from now on!

Beautiful butter! I have a lot left over, so I think I’ll let it sit in the freezer and repeat French Toast with Berry Butter Morning a few times.

French Toast with Berry Butter from The Pioneer Woman (with step-by-step photos)

1 pound Unsalted Butter, Softened
½ cup Raspberries
½cup Blackberries
1 loaf Crusty Bread: Baguette, French Loaf, Etc.
4 whole Egg Yolks
2 cups Half-and-half
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
Zest Of One Lemon
Maple Syrup For Serving
Sifted Powder Sugar, For Serving (optional)

Make the berry butters: in separate batches, whip 2 sticks of butter at a time on high using the whisk attachment. Switch to paddle attachment. Add either raspberries or blackberries. Turn mixer on low for only about five seconds, just long enough for the berries to begin to mix in/break up, but not so long that it turns into a mess. Clean mixer bowl and attachments and repeat with other kind of berry. (A stand mixer is not absolutely necessary here–you can even do it by hand. Just whip soft butter and add berries until they break up a bit)

With each batch, turn mixture out onto a long sheet of plastic wrap set over a long sheet of foil. Use the wrap/foil to roll the butter into a cylinder: first seal the plastic wrap around the cylinder, then secure the foil around it. Twist the ends, gradually applying more pressure as you twist in order to make the cylinder taut.

Once it’s a nice, neat cylinder of foil, place into the freezer for 30 minutes in order to quickly solidify it, then transfer it to the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Butter should be nice and firm.

NOTE: You can add a little sifted powdered sugar to the butter to make more of a sweet spread for bread and muffins! For French toast, though, the maple syrup makes things sweet enough.

To make the french toast, cut bread into slices 1/2 inch thick. In a dish, mix together egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Dip bread slices in mixture, coating both sides, then remove from dish and set aside. Repeat until all bread is coated.

Heat iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Sizzle butter in the pan when hot. Cook French toast on both sides until golden brown, being careful not to burn.

Remove berry butters from fridge. Unwrap one end and cut slices. Lay one slice each onto each serving of French toast. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired, then drizzle with maple syrup.

Pizza with Philadelphia Cooking Creme

I’ve been curious about the new Philadelphia “Cooking Creme” for a while. Joseph thought they seemed disgusting, so I decided to sneak it into one of our meals. And I’m happy with the result! The base of this pizza is Italian Cheese & Herb spread mixed with ricotta. I’ve never had a white pizza before, but it was a nice alternative to tomato sauce.  It’s definitely better than Alfredo sauce, which I really hate the taste of.

I like making pizza because it’s hands-on and easy! I just whip up my favorite pizza dough, set out a few different toppings, and Joseph and I can each make our own.

Before entering the oven–Joseph’s is the symmetrical one on the left.

I put them in the oven about 8 minutes–until the cheese melted and the vegetables softened and warmed a bit.  (My mini-pizza was a little bit too tall as I went overboard on the veggies)

Pizza with Philadelphia Cooking Cremefrom Buns in my Oven

2 pizza crusts (store bought or homemade)
1 container Philadelphia brand Italian Cheese and Herb Cooking Creme
4 ounces ricotta cheese
1 – 1/2 cups cooked and chopped chicken
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced, or more to taste
Additional toppings of your choice (I like mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, fresh sliced tomatoes, and green onions)
parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven as directed for your pizza crust.

In a small bowl, mix together the cooking creme and Ricotta cheese. Spread on the two pizza crusts. Top with the chicken, tomato slices, and green onions. Place the sliced mozzarella on top of the pizzas. Sprinkle with parsley to make everything pretty.

Bake as directed on your pizza crust. Let the pizza rest five minutes before cutting.

Note: The recipe above makes two large pizzas, so cut it in half for one large pizza or 4-6 miniatures.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins

I woke up a few weeks ago absolutely craving chocolate. My first thought was, “I need chocolate muffins with chocolate chips.” After some 8AM internet-scouring, I went the zucchini route rather than put myself into a chocolate coma. Boy am I glad I did! If you haven’t tried zucchini bread yet, you must! I did not expect such deliciousness and am really kicking myself for putting it off for so long.

Although I’m a big fan of zucchini, I swear these muffins taste nothing like vegetables! The bread is rich, and the cinnamon adds an intense flavor. And the little bit of chocolate is wonderful! I know they sound disgusting, but trust me here.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins from

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup milk
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup chopped walnuts

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Combine the egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in zucchini, chocolate chips and walnuts. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done.

Grilled Tilapia with Avocado Salsa

I’m always on the hunt for quick and tasty recipes, especially when cooking lunch at home for myself, and frequently turn to tilapia. I buy a big bag of filets and keep them around to either grill or bake. I love seafood, it’s good for me, it’s easy and fast to cook, and tilapia works with a number of flavors.

These week I’ve been on an avocado salsa kick. I threw it together on a whim and think it will be repeated often! It works great as a midnight snack for insomniacs like myself. My ingredient measurements aren’t specific, and they’re definitely not static. I’m not really one for measuring unless I’m baking–I just taste everything as I go along!

Grilled Tilapia with Avocado Salsa
Serves two

2-3 tilapia filets
Tony Chachere’s Seasoning

Lightly season filets with Tony Chachere’s or preferred seasoning. Cook in cast-iron skillet over heat, or in a George Foreman grill until they easily flake with a fork.

1 avocado
½-1 roma tomato
¼-½ white or red onion, chopped
¼-½ corn (I heated up frozen corn)
1-2 Tbs olive oil
2-3 Tbs parsley, chopped
Salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon, to taste

Chop avocado, tomato, and red onion. Stir all ingredients together. Chill in refrigerator if desired. Enjoy!

Mini Chocolate Meringue Cupcakes

I don’t watch many cooking shows unless they star a chef I really like (my favorite are Nadia G, as mentioned here, Guy Fieri, and Anne Burrell), but Joseph and I tuned into Giada at Home a couple weeks ago. As soon as I saw these on the show’s itinerary, I knew they would be in my kitchen soon.  The tops aren’t technically supposed to collapse, but I was secretly hoping they would.  They’re much prettier this way, I think!

Look at that flaky top! It is a really great contrast to the thick and rich body of the cupcake. These remind me of molten lava cakes but less gooey (and less messy) with a wonderful crust. I am a huge fan of chocolate and cinnamon together, and the flavor is similar to my favorite Nutella cookies.

The recipe made me 24 pretty and delicate cupcakes!  I feel like cookie and cupcake recipes always make me fewer than the written amount, so that was a nice surprise. I filled the liners all the way up to the top and still had a bit of batter left over.

Mini Chocolate Meringue Cupcakes from Giada at Home via the Food Network

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (I cut back to ¼ heaping tsp)
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
¼ cup cake flour (I used AP flour without problems)
3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Chocolate drizzle topping:
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
½ tablespoon vegetable oil

For the cupcakes: arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 24-count mini-muffin pan with 1.25-inch diameter paper liners and set aside. Grease both the pan and cupcake liners with cookie spray!

Melt ½ cup chocolate chips and set aside. In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg yolks, vegetable oil, 1/3 cup of the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt, at high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in the melted chocolate chips and stir until smooth (mixture will be thick).

In a separate bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites at high speed until they hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Stir 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, fold the remaining egg white mixture. In batches, sift the flour over the batter and fold it in using a spatula. Fill each paper liner to the top with batter and bake for 12 minutes until puffed. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

For the topping: In a small bowl, combine the melted chocolate chips and oil. Stir until smooth.

Using a fork, drizzle the chocolate mixture over the cupcakes. Allow the topping to harden for at least 1 1/2 hours at room temperature before serving. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Pretty easy! Since I don’t have two electric mixers, I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for both steps, making sure to thoroughly clean and dry the bowl and whip between. Any leftover residue from the egg yoke mixture can ruin your egg white meringue, so take precaution.

Enjoy!  I took these to a party over the weekend, and they were a big success

Bitchin’ Kitchen’s Pink Grapefruit Meringue Pies

Joseph and I were days away from canceling our U-verse subscription a couple months ago. Then we discovered Food Network and the Cooking Chanel.

Bitchin’ Kitchen airs on the Food Network in the US and Canada and is adapted from Nadia G’s web series.  It took me a while to get used to the show, and I think I made at least five tweets complaining about her. But Joseph finally talked me into watching an entire episode, and I fell in love. Nadia G is funny, strange, beautiful (seriously, she is hard to look away from), and she really can cook.  She has an obvious passion for quality of food, but the show doesn’t take itself too seriously. It fits right along with our sense of humor, and it’s the only cooking show on TV that makes Joseph and I laugh. It is seriously bizarre and hilarious.

So a few weeks ago I for the first time was inclined to make a recipe I saw on TV–BK’s Pink Grapefruit Meringue Pies.  They are perfect! I will definitely be making these instead of boring old lemon meringue pies from now on. The dark chocolate graham cracker crust is divine with the citrus filling, and the meringue is not too sweet.

Pink Grapefruit Meringue Pies from Bitchin’ Kitchen”

20 graham crackers
½ cup semi-sweet dark chocolate, grated
¼ cup brown sugar
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 eggs at room temperature, yolks and whites separate
1 Tablespoon grapefruit zest
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
¼ cup freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 ½ cups water
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 ¼ cups sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch salt
¼ teaspoon white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).

In a re-sealable bag, crush graham crackers. Transfer crushed graham crackers into a big bowl and mix in: dark chocolate shavings, brown sugar and melted butter. Line 4 4-inch pie molds with the crust mixture. Note: I used a food processor to crush my graham crackers and only needed to use about half the mixture.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, then cool.

In a bowl, combine 4 egg yolks, fresh pink grapefruit juice, fresh lemon juice, a pinch of pink grapefruit zest, and a pinch of lemon zest.

In a heavy saucepan mix water, cornstarch, 1 ¼ cups sugar, and a pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat whisking constantly for 2 to 3 minutes until the mixture thickens. Slowly add this mixture to the citrus-ey yolks.

Pour mixture back into the pot, reduce heat to low, add 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter and whisk for 8 more minutes, until very thick. Cover and refrigerate.

To 4 egg whites add 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar, and 3 Tablespoons white sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form.

Heat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).

Spoon citrus filling into graham cracker crust and top with lots of meringue. Bake for 10 minutes, until the meringues brown slightly.

I love the show so much I bought a t-shirt!

Leftover Food Photos

I take a lot of pictures of food. I just really like food and want to take photos of it, even if I have no use for the photos. So you’re getting some of my leftover food pictures.

This is something I eat a lot: an egg sandwich. Toasted wheat bread, Miracle Whip (I know, it is disgusting–but it is my egg sandwich secret!), and a fried egg. I grew up eating these and think the very first thing I ever cooked was likely an egg sandwich. I’ve been fryin’ eggs since childhood.

One of my other favorite sandwiches! Toasted wheat bread, mayonnaise, mustard, turkey, swiss, and avocado.

I have a sandwich problem. I also have an avocado problem.  This photo is making me reminiscent! I used to get these spicy salami sandwiches at the commissary in Italy.

But I have to say there are definitely some benefits to being back in Texas!

Blue Bell, you have no idea how much I missed you.

It’s nice to get a chai tea frappucino whenever I want. However, I definitely miss Italian cafes much more more than I ever missed Starbucks.

I miss Kinder chocolates but stock up every time I go to World Market.

The best part of spring!

Chocolate Cake with Blackberry Buttercream Frosting

I usually use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to make something ridiculously decadent and pink. I did really well this year.

The frosting isn’t raspberry or strawberry: it’s blackberry. I love a little blackberry jam on my toast but can’t eat more than a thin layer. The sour berry lends itself perfectly to sweet frosting! It makes an extremely rich and deep flavor, rather than something too sweet.

And the decorating was really easy too. Get a 1M or 2M decorating tip, make a circle, and then swirl around the circle two or three times! My frosting was a tiny bit too runny, but that’s okay. My decorating inspiration came from the wonderful I am Baker, who posted a great rose tutorial here.

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake

2 c sugar
1 ¾ c all-purpose flour
¾ c cocoa
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 c milk
½ c vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c boiling water

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch pan.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Blackberry Buttercream Frosting adapted from Sammyw

1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c seedless blackberry jam
4-6 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter and jam with electric mixer with paddle attachment. Cream until well incorporated, bout two minutes.

Gradually add powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency.

To assemble a layered cake, cut in two however you like. Spread a layer of blackberry jam along bottom layer. Place the second layer on top. Decorate with blackberry buttercream frosting.

Chunky Cauliflower, Cheddar, and Potato Soup

With snowstorms rolling through the US, soup is absolutely necessary. I firmly believe there is no better way to get warm (though I have a contender–I managed to fit my warm house shoes inside Joseph’s, and my feet feel amazing).

I made this soup last week, and when preparing this week’s menu had to add it again. At first, the recipe sounded pretty disgusting, but I’m glad I stuck through! It’s more like a baked potato soup with bits of cauliflower. They go together very well, and this is going to be made a lot around here.

Chunky Cauliflower, Cheddar, and Potato Soup from Relish!

2 russet potatoes , skins left on and roughly chopped
4 cups cauliflower florets (about one head)
2 carrots , roughly chopped
2 garlic clove(s), roughly chopped
1 white onion , roughly chopped
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups beef broth
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
¾ cup milk
¼ teaspoon caraway seeds
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
freshly ground pepper, to taste
¾ cup buttermilk
4 green onions , chopped

Place the potatoes, HALF of the cauliflower, carrots, garlic, onion, salt and broth in a soup pot. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

While this is simmering, steam the remaining cauliflower for 5 minutes, or until tender, but still a little crisp, drain and set aside.

Remove the potato cauliflower mixture from stove after 15 minutes, and let cool 10 minutes. Puree the entire mixture, in batches in a blender until smooth and creamy. NOTE: make sure to let the steam escape! Return the mixture to the pot and add in the cheese, milk, caraway seeds, mustard and pepper. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.

Stir in the steamed cauliflower and heat for a few more minutes. Just before serving, mix in the buttermilk. Serve soup garnished with green onions and extra cheese, if desired.


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

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