Birthday Goodies

Yesterday was my birthday… the big 23! Not one of those get down and crazy birthdays, but one of my best friends came over for dinner, and that was just fine for me. Not everything has to be extravagant, right?

I decided that I wanted to make dinner on my birthday. Confused mom a little bit. But I like to cook, and I don’t get to do it a lot anymore, so it was a treat for me.

I started off making a Berry Coffee Cake. Now, what I haven’t told you yet, was that this was the second try on this cake. I made it a couple days ago and much to my dismay and frustration, it came out way undercooked. I followed the instructions, may have added a little too much liquid, and the cooking time just wasn’t adequate. Teach me to just eyeball amounts when baking.

What’s cool about this coffee cake is that even though it’s light and fluffy (when you cook it right), and tastes like it should be utterly fat-filled and unhealthy, it came out of a fantastic new cookbook by Marlene Koch, called Eat What You Love. She takes every day recipes that people love (it’s a book filled with comfort food) and makes it healthy. What’s super cool about this cookbook is that she doesn’t substitute flavor for calories. There’s even a paragraph in which she goes into detail about how if substituting a “low-fat” versus “non-fat” item will decrease the level of flavor, she’ll opt for “low-fat.” I like this lady. Thank you Grandpa for introducing me to my new favorite cookbook!

Anyway, I had the first piece with my coffee this morning, and it was delectable and believe it or not, filling! Score for low calorie items! I’ve put in the bibliography and the recipe on the appropriate pages for your cooking pleasure.

And on to dinner. Once again editing one of my favorites, I made a creamy version of my Medling. And since the recipe was requested by my best friend, here it is… Mom said it was a little too spicy for her tastes, but she ate her portion worth, which means it was good enough to overcome the spiciness. The difference here is that I added artichoke hearts, a little bit of parmesan cheese (freshly grated of course) and more sauce than I normally would. Let’s just say there was more goodies than pasta and I was totally OK with that. And of course, I made my favorite garlic bread to go with it. Like I would have it any other way with my obsession for garlic.

Oh yeah, and thanks dad for cleaning up the disaster I made in the kitchen. I really need to learn how to be a cleaner cook. Though it’s not quite as much fun that way…

Holy Crepes Batman!

This week’s dinner with the sweet-tooth friend of mine (she needs a nickname…I think we’ll call her “Lady Luck” since she’s such a huge fan of Lady Gaga) had a French theme. So naturally, we had a super scrumptious supper of roasted chicken and sage-infused roasted potatoes and some delectable veggies. And did I mention the crepes?

Dinner was extremely flavorful, and to be honest, we were just too damn hungry and busy devouring it to take pictures of it – but I don’t want to anyone to think it wasn’t description worthy! Due to some car trouble, actually roasting a chicken – or making chicken francese as was the original plan – was a little bit out of the question. But substituting a rotisserie chicken from Fry’s works just as well. They were even nice enough to put an apricot glaze on it! Lady Luck made some awesome potatoes…I was eating them straight from the pan, I have to admit. We’ll call it quality control. They fried up in some sage and thyme infused oil and it gave them such a unique flavor! Definitely not like that other dish we had that wasn’t so good because of the amount of sage in it. My love of all things herb-y has been rekindled!

Once we had…you know, gorged…ourselves on yummy chicken, potatoes and a veggie medley, it was time for dessert. And let me just say that we are talented enough to edit a high school paper (Lady Luck’s daughter) while making crepes! Ridiculously simple to make by the way. I was a little intimidated at first – crepes seem like such a fancy food that it takes a patisserie chef to make one. I was wrong! They’re essentially a really big pancake made from a too-thin batter, and of course, we added Nutella to ours. Oh, and Ghiradelli chocolate chunks! Hence the little brownish black crispy goodness you see in these pictures.

I definitely love what has become a ritual with an amazing friend. Next week? We’re going to Thailand! There may even be a drink involved – non alcoholic that is!

Halloween Bars

I got this one off you are what you eat…or reheat. She’s definitely up at the top of my list for favorite bloggers. I think it’s because she writes like me, and she eats like me. The main difference is that she’s a better food photographer than I am. And she has more time to cook.

Anyway! So these bars are rich and delicious, a little on the chewy side, and perfect for satisfying my sweet tooth. The only part that I don’t like about them, is that they aren’t the type of dessert that you can make as you’re prepping dinner and have them be ready fresh out of the oven. They fall apart when they’re cooled, let alone when they’re warm! Although, they’re perfect with a glass of milk.

Katie, on YAWYEOR, mentioned that she used brown and orange M&Ms (apparently she has the patience). But also said that they would be good with Reese’s. Well, I got the two combined, because since it is Halloween, Reese’s puts out pieces that are in brown, orange and yellow. It’s great!
You can find the recipe copied directly from YAWYEOR on my recipe page.

Jack Daniels Chocolate Pecan Pie

Dessert again!

Now, I’ve never made a pecan pie. Lemon Meringue, sure, but not Pecan. That was all mom’s job for Christmas. But this. This was an irresistible challenge from one of the Roomie’s cookbooks.

It’s super easy too. Pie crust, eggs, sugar, Jack Daniels, butter, pecans and chocolate.  The only thing that I even had to pick up was the pie crust!

Now, I know there are a lot of people who don’t like the taste of whiskey. No worries. All this tastes like is a tart pecan pie. There’s that little bit of “burn” that comes from the whiskey, but of course, you’re not going to get drunk off my pie.

Happy eating 🙂

Berry Bread

This is the first installment of updating this thing for the first time in a long time…one more to follow.

I really do enjoy having time off where I can make something a little extra. This time it was straight of off the Cooking Channel. On Chuck’s Day Off, he makes this dessert that looks so ridiculously easy, I have to try it. All he does is take berries (he uses fresh, I use frozen), combines them with sugar and then puts them on the stove so they can reduce and create a syrup. This reduces down into a sweet, and slightly tart, syrup that is used to create the base for the bread pudding-like dessert. And let me just say, it tastes really, really good on waffles. So the next step is to cut crust off of bread, soak one side in the syrup, and then put it in a bowl lined with plastic wrap, syrup side out. When that’s all done, so that you’ve practically created another bowl with the bread, put the berries, strained slightly, in the middle of the bread bowl, and then top it off with more bread. Basically making a lid.

The tricky part, for me at least, was finding something heavy to put on top of this creation, because it needs to be weighted down and left in the fridge for 8 or more hours. That’s what the guy on Chuck’s Day Off said, and I only let mine sit for about 6 hours. Trust me, let it sit for 8. Then you basically flip it on to a plate, and cut it like a cake. Tasty dessert.

*NOTE* When storing this dessert, make sure that is in a bowl or something deep, because as it sits for a day or so, the syrup starts to leak out and if its not in a deep dish, it will attack the inside of your fridge.

When life gives you lemons, make pie

The pie after it's been fully assembled and baked for that yummy brown crispiness on top

Yet another family tradition that only started a few years ago is picking the scrumptious lemons off our family’s tree in the backyard and making lemon meringue pie. Oh and is it good. The lemons are so fresh that the pie is good and tangy. I’m sure it’s fun to watch me attempt to make meringue too…getting that white stuff to “stiff peaks” just sounds dirty. My grandpa likes it, and so do I, so it’s all good, and a special treat considering we only make it the one time a year. I have to say, lemon meringue pie is about the only kind that I’ll eat, next to key lime pie and chocolate mousse.

The recipe we used came off the side of the corn starch box, which came from Kroger – just to make sure we give credit where credit is due. I bet that it’s been the same recipe since the 50s, too. How awesome is that?