Baking

peanut butter & chocolate cinnamon buns

My relationship with peanut butter and chocolate desserts needs no explanation for long-time readers. One day I’ll tell the story of how the little peanut butter pie that could came to be. Today, though, I want to share a new peanut butter and chocolate recipe with all of you. It’s only recently that I could even fathom that flavor combination again. Cooking has the power to heal, but some recipes, some flavors, well, they’re too reminiscent of moments that I’ll never experience again.

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milk chocolate brownies

There’s no shortage of chocolate recipes floating around the internet, especially this week with it being Valentine’s Day and all. A more organized person who writes a food blog would’ve even planned such a thing out. I always chuckle when I get a PR pitch about my upcoming editorial calendar. This little space of the internet is about as organized as my daughters’ room. This is one place in my life where no plans are actually comforting. I can be who I want, when I want. It just so happens that my craving last week coincided with a holiday where chocolate plays so prominently. Why is that exactly?

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two-ingredient biscuits

Mondays are probably the least loved day of the week, which is why I decided it was the perfect time to finally share one of my biscuit recipes. A little over one year ago, I perfected my buttermilk biscuit recipe. For years I’d been making Dorie Greenspan’s, and while I never fell out of love with it, it was time for this little bird to stretch her wings and go out on her own. The ingredients were pretty much the same—flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, very cold butter, and buttermilk. The ratios and technique are what I tinkered with to make what I think are the fluffiest biscuits, ever.

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chewy, bittersweet brownies

I found myself craving brownies the other night, which rarely happens. I must confess that while I love baking chocolate desserts (they generally make everyone happy!), they are not my first choice for eating. I reached for my copy of Homemade with Love to make the walnut fudge brownies on page 185. Honestly, it still blows my mind, and humbles me, every time I pull my own cookbook off the shelf.  A quick scan of the ingredients, and I realized I didn’t have any espresso granules in the house. I decided to brew up a small pot of very strong coffee in its place. While I was at it, I swapped in whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose, and used less, too. You can use regular all-purpose flour if that’s all you have on hand, and it’ll be fine. I just figured I’d fool myself into believing the whole wheat would make them healthier.

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chewy white chocolate & pistachio cookies

Write. Delete. Repeat.

This has been my habit as I stare blankly into the screen this morning. It’s not so much that I’m at a loss for words. In fact, the words are scattered in my mind, a mental game of 52 pick up in progress. Still, my lack of clarity to how I’m feeling lately shouldn’t get in the way of sharing these cookies with you. They’re inspired by a recipe for chocolate chip cookies from a bakery in Paris called Laura Todd. It took a little detective work to figure out if levure sans phosphate was baking powder or baking soda, so thanks to Mardi for helping me out with that one.

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candied pecans {easy homemade gift-giving}

We had our first big snowfall in the country this weekend. Well, not in the country, as in the United States of America. I mean the country, as in the area where our house is upstate. I figure you all probably knew what I was talking about, but the writer in me felt compelled to make it very clear. I have readers around the globe (it boggles my mind, really), and I didn’t want anyone to confuse my country with the country.

See how easy it is to get caught up on the little details? Something as simple as me coming here to share an easy recipe for a quick last-minute homemade gift has me pondering the clarity of my own words. Perhaps the simple things are the tasks that truly push us to look closer at the finer details of life. I’ve been contemplating this a lot lately. Continue reading »

gingerbread cake {a one bowl recipe}

I know, I go silent for almost a month, and then share three recipes in four days. This is the upside to my cold. All of the little projects I’ve been meaning to do, the bills I’ve planning to pay, life is what I think we call it—I suddenly find there’s time to get things done when I’m relegated to the sofa, trying to get better. Actually, the sofa has just become my temporary workspace. Too tired to walk up and down the stairs, and not willing to put my cooking habits on hold, my laptop has found a permanent place in the living room, just about 20 paces from the kitchen counter. Continue reading »

banana, walnut & white chocolate chunk scones

I’ve been wanting to share this recipe for over a month now, but something has been holding me back. I keep asking myself “do we really need another scone recipe in the world?”. If it were up to me, the answer would be yes. Scones are a great “get your feet wet” sort of project for those fearful of baking. There are no special tools, or pans, required, and the technique is very easy. Just mix some dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, etc.),  rub them together with very cold bits of butter, and stir in a mixture of egg and buttermilk. In less than 30 minutes, from start to finish, you’ve got a rather satisfying breakfast, in my little ‘ol opinion. Continue reading »

how to measure flour

It hit me in the middle of the day yesterday with an odd feeling of surprise. I’m talking about November. It seemed to tip toe in, and I appreciate the calm greeting. I hope it brings more peace than October. The leaves are defiantly clinging to the trees here upstate, showing off their shades of red, orange and gold with the fanfare of a peacock. I know how they feel, in a way. Letting go isn’t easy. Paying attention to the season changes is an important reminder that life is about loss and renewal; it’s a never ending cycle.

As we settle in for what is perhaps the busiest baking season, I wanted to share something that’s been on my mind for a while now. I’m going to geek out here for a moment, but please stick with me. I promise it’ll make for a better baking experience the next couple of months, in fact for the rest of your life. Continue reading »

carrot persimmon cake

I fell hard and fast for persimmons right around this time last year. The girls and I were visiting Todd and Diane, and there was a tree dripping with ripe, deep orange orbs. I mentioned to Diane that I bet they’d make an incredible cake, and she told me to help myself. With a sparkle in my eye, I looked at her and asked “are you serious”? I had no tried and true persimmon cake recipe in mind. This was a recipe development itch I’d be scratching, and didn’t want to feel as though I was wasting any of their bounty. Incidentally, Diane and Todd just came out with a new cookbook, aptly titled Bountiful, and this is a book you want to own. The photography is incredible, the stories they share are touching, and the recipes, well, they make Bountiful a win-win-win for me. Continue reading »