B-b-b-butterscotch pie.

Uhm. I’m not really great at pie. Seriously.

Butterscotch pie with toasted meringue!

Or at least thats what I always say. I might not be able to get away with that anymore, though. Between the apple bourbon brown butter whatever it was pie and the apple cranberry pie and now this… people are starting to think I’m just full of shit. They’re starting to think I pretend I’m not good at pie so that I can avoid making it.

But in the past I’ve had on and off love/hate relationship with pie. I’m notoriously bad at the crust because I lack patience. And I also never wait for them to cool before cutting so, yeah, they can look messy. Some come out perfect. Others don’t. This one. Meh.

Butterscotch pie with toasted meringue.

This butterscotch pie came out visually okay. Not great. I was a little tired and it was getting late and I rushed it a bit in my anticipation of eating it. But the taste? OH MAN.

The taste alone made everyone crazy.

But did I mention I’m tired? Yeah. This time of year is kicking my ass. Between working & baking & decorating & blogging & family & this annoying cold I’ve been fighting off… let’s stick with pie.

Butterscotch pie with toasted meringue.

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Cranberry walnut corn muffins.

It’s December already. Can you believe it? Time really flew by this year, it seems. Every year seems to go by faster and faster, actually, the older I get. It really seems just like yesterday I was gardeningcanning peaches. And now Thanksgiving is over and we’re sprinting toward a new year. I can’t believe my Christmas tree will be up by the end of next week!

Cranberry walnut corn muffins.

The day I first made these was the day after the horrific Paris restaurant & nightclub attacks, back in November. I felt like I needed to bake something, as I usually do when bad things happen. As someone whose husband has been in Paris (and all over Europe), performing in nightclubs and bars similar to Bataclan many times… it’s even harder. I can put myself in that situation very easily. I know what it’s like to know someone you love is many miles away and you’re waiting for the call when the show is over. For some, that call didn’t come.  These bad things seemingly happen a lot in today’s world- and for me, when they do, it’s comforting to come into my little kitchen and make something warm and delicious.

And you know how it is- you have like, three random ingredients you need to use, and you want to moosh ’em all together and make something. So that’s how these were born. I found a recipe I liked, and added walnuts to it. These are basically a one-bowl wonder.

They’re also kind of a go-between of sweet and savory, tart and sweet. Great warm with butter and just as great as a side to a meal. They do make a wonderful breakfast, too, though.

Cranberry walnut corn muffins.

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Easy DIY gift: walnuts in syrup!

It’s officially Christmastime. Dudes. I have been hearing Christmas music for WEEKS now, and it’s finally acceptable to me to begin listening to it myself. I always have to wait until after Thanksgiving- that holiday deserves it’s due respect. But now it’s also time to think about what the hell I’m doing for people’s holiday gifts. But here’s an idea.

Anyway, over the summer, Jay & I took my mother out thrifting/antiquing and for her birthday lunch to a little old fashioned ice cream parlor called Itgen’s. That I know of, there are two such places near us; one is Hildebrandt’s (famous for being featured on the Food Network by Guy Fieri) and Itgen’s (which has been featured in Saveur). Both make their own ice cream, both have traditional old school fare. Both date back to a time we know refer to as “back in the day.”

And there’s another common thread. Both places serve an ice cream topping called walnuts in syrup.

Walnuts in syrup, aka wet walnuts.

These are also known as “wet walnuts” but I’m sorry, I giggle every time I say that. Perhaps I’m just juvenile. But I prefer to call them “walnuts in syrup.” It’s a traditional ice cream topping, sometimes referred to as “wet nuts.” Heh. See? Sorry. I can’t help it. Let’s just go with walnuts in syrup, k?

Anyway, walnuts in syrup are a great thing to make at home, without having to leave to go to an ice cream parlor- no matter how cute and fun that parlor may be. Also they make a great DIY gift… because even though they’re processed in a water bath, they’re INSANELY simple to make! Besides, because it isn’t a jam or jelly, you don’t have to worry about pectins or anything. You just cook it, ladle it into jars, pop the lids and bands on, and then process it. And you don’t even need any extra equipment! Take a peek at this post for a quick run-through of water bath canning (I swear it’s easy!).

Walnuts in syrup aka wet walnuts! A delicious sundae topping and DIY gift idea!

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Happy Thanksgiving, pilgrim.

A young Rita Hayworth getting ready to dig in to that turkey...

Well, hey there- Happy Thanksgiving! Today, I hope you’re just as excited and happy as Rita Hayworth up there to dig into some good grub. I hope everything is going smoothly, you’re sitting back with your feet up and you’re 100% ready and prepared for the day. I hope.

But in case you’re not, or in case that pie you made slid off the counter and Fido ate it and now you don’t know what to do, someone asked you to bring something today and you completely forgot or in case grandma’s cranberry sauce leaves a lot to be desired, I’m here to help.

Here’s a list of recipes that can help you make today a success. Yes, some of them require a time and effort, but if you start early enough & you have the ingredients, you’ll be golden. Others don’t take much time at all- plus you can use frozen pie crust if need be (I won’t tell).

On that note… GO EAT!

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Apple-cranberry pie.

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

Apples for apple-cranberry pie.

Peeling apples for apple-cranberry pie.

As a food blogger and someone who just loves to eat in general, there are a few things I hear from people a lot. One is usually something like “How do you stay so skinny?” Now in my mind I am far from skinny, but also do people assume I eat every single thing I make in it’s entirety? And two, which really bothers me: “I don’t have time to do all that!”

Yes, yes you do.

Apple-cranberry pie; like apple pie with cranberry sauce!

I’m busy too. Trust me. I have a lot going on in my life. But it’s a matter of priority. Some people will always choose to drive through a fast food restaurant, others will make homemade hamburgers. That’s just the way it is. Some people won’t ever try to do it, so they won’t realize how it really doesn’t take 6 hours and it isn’t all that difficult. However, if I want something, I want to make sure its the best it can be. Sometimes, yes, I use shortcuts like frozen pie crust, and that’s okay. That is TOTALLY OKAY. But Jay can sniff out a frozen crust from a mile away- and he prefers homemade. So if I know I’m making a pie ahead of time (and not at 3 a.m. when I can’t sleep), I try to put aside extra time to make a homemade pie crust. Especially if it’s for a holiday dinner.

This pie was new for me, and I wanted to share it with you because it’s a great Thanksgiving pie. And Christmas pie, too, really. It’s like cranberry sauce and apple pie rolled into one. It’s dessert and a side dish. It’s totally unexpected. And it’s also adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, which I happen to trust immensely when it comes to recipes.

Apple-cranberry pie.

I hope you’ll try it this year for the holidays. Maybe you’ll come to love it so much, you’ll never buy a frozen crust or store-bought pie ever again. And yes… I continue my tradition of being horrible at folding pie crust.

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Simple scones with caramel ginger pear jam & vanilla butter.

Simple scones, vanilla butter and caramel ginger pear jam. Click through for all three recipes!

It’s cold! On weekends this time of year, I wake up hungry. Hungry and chilly, I wander bleary eyed into the kitchen. Indy sits next to me some mornings, on “his” kitchen rug patiently waiting for the back door to open so he can take care of his… *ahem* daily constitutional. I put the Keurig on and stand there waiting for coffee in my pajamas, fuzzy socks or slippers, rubbing my eyes thinking, “God I wish I had something to shove in my pie hole.” Usually… I also wake up lazy; too lazy to make something. But if I’m lucky I already have made something! For example, scones with caramel ginger pear jam & vanilla butter.

Jay is a huge fan of scones. So am I really, and for some reason I never make them. I should really make them more often. They’re ridiculously easy and delicious- requiring no mixing other than by hand, no special equipment. And also? They go with everything. Like the recipes I’m giving you today: caramel pear jam and vanilla butter.

Yes, I said vanilla butter. I’ll get to that in a sec.

And… caramel ginger pear jam. It is pear season, you know. Go getchu some gorgeous pears and do something. Ginger is so warming, and it gives an exotic kind of scent to the jam. But you can feel free to omit it and keep it just caramel pear, if you want. YES- YOU GUYS GET THREE RECIPES IN ONE POST TODAY. OMG AREN’T YOU LUCKY.

Caramel ginger pear jam.

By the way- these scones are NOT just a vehicle to get vanilla butter and jam into your face hole. They’re buttery, flaky, and delicious. Totally great on their own. But also great with: marmalade, plain butter, clotted cream, crème fraîche, and just about any kind of jam or jelly you can imagine. They also can be totally changed up to suit you.

They really are easy too. I swear.

Simple scones.

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Dutch apple-pumpkin crisp.

One particularly nasty, cold, and quite rainy afternoon in late October, I decided to use the remainder of my leftover pumpkin puree and the apples I had left (that were barreling straight towards being “too soft to use”). I knew I had to use up both of these things sooner rather than later, and I couldn’t imagine in what way I’d do it. Two apples aren’t really enough for a pie, and these weren’t pie apples anyway. And one scant cup of pumpkin puree is probably enough for muffins or cupcakes, but… been there, done that, yanno? How many pumpkin muffins can one person eat!?!?

I contemplated pumpkin-applesauce, but two small apples aren’t really enough for a good amount of sauce. I didn’t think it was worth the effort.

Dutch apple-pumpkin crisp.

Thankfully, Google is our friend. I found this recipe by Betty Crocker and adapted it to suit my needs (I do not currently own a microwave). It’s a great way to use up leftover pumpkin puree that may or may not be on the verge of tossing, and maybe a few straggler  “soft spotted” apples, too.

I love making these “crisps” or “breakfast thingies.” I’ve made summer stone fruit versions, and berry varieties that were more cake-y. The addition of oats not only makes it heartier but makes it versatile; it almost screams HAVE ME FOR BREAKFAST, TOO! And it’s so cool and autumn-y out. The leaves are all pretty reds and yellows. Ya just need somethin’ like this to eat on a November morn.

dutchapplepumpkincrisp3

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