Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Shortbread

I heard about these cookies on the radio when I was hungry so I made them a couple of days later. I prefer plain shortbread, but they weren't bad. After reading the comments I decided to only use orange zest (plus I didn't want to buy orange oil or flavoring), and they were still very orange-y.

The Brass Sisters' Shortbread from All Things Consider's Found Recipes

Vanilla Bean Caramels

I love good caramel and I've been wanting to try to make these awesome pretzel/chocolate/caramel sticks, so I decided to start experimenting with caramel recipes. This one was okay - I think I cooked it a little long (I'm pretty sure I went to 250 instead of 248 on the candy thermometer).

I used sea salt instead of fleur de sel because I thought it was probably the same. I'm still not sure if it is or isn't, but the caramels tasted a little too salty (even though I omitted the salt on the top).

I used my vanilla bean paste instead of the vanilla/vanilla bean.

Vanilla Bean Caramels from Annie's Eats

Friday, December 6, 2013

Chocolate Raspberry Fudge

One day Eric and Moo went to Cabela's just for fun and they brought me home a piece of chocolate raspberry fudge. I didn't know that Cabela's had fudge, and it was a couple days or so before I felt like eating it. But once I ate it, I had to have more. Some days while I was pregnant it was all I could think about. Now I crave it less often, but I still want it quite a bit. Cabela's is about 30 minutes away, though, and the fudge is kind of expensive, so I've been looking for recipes online.

This particular recipe doesn't have the chocolate and raspberry layers like the fudge at Cabela's, but I thought it might still be good. It is, but it isn't as awesome as the Cabela's fudge. This fudge has a little bit of a grainy (but not really grainy) texture and doesn't have as clean a flavor. I wouldn't make it again, but not because it's gross - just because it's not exactly what I'm looking for.

Chocolate Raspberry Fudge

Chopped Taco Salad with Homemade Catalina Dressing

Eric loves taco salad. I don't. But this salad popped up on my facebook page and I decided it looked okay, so I made it (mostly for Eric). I used ground beef (though I would have used vegetarian beef-like crumbles if I had found them at the grocery store because I don't love ground beef outside of burgers and meatloaf) and only romaine lettuce (because I thought it would be silly to be left with two half-heads of lettuce). It was pretty good. I was surprised to be a big fan of the dressing because I thought I didn't like catalina dressing.

Next time I'm going to try to do a vegetarian version - maybe with more black beans.

Chopped Taco Salad with Homemade Catalina Dressing from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Soft Pretzel Rolls

I hadn't ever had pretzel rolls until one day a few months ago when they were on sample at Costco. They were pretty good, but not something I craved. But when this recipe popped up the description made me want them. So I made them to go with our chili dinner tonight. The first part (before rising) was easy - I didn't have instant yeast so I proofed it before adding it to the milk/water mixture, and I probably used 8 cups of flour (I just added a half cup at a time after the first 6 cups and stopped counting but watched for the dough to be the right consistency). The boiling part was easy, too - I did it while Moo was napping and it took probably 30 minutes to get all the rolls done. I varied the boiling time and didn't see a huge difference in the end result. I do wish I had used more coarse salt on top - on the parts that were salted there was a definite pretzel taste. And my baking time ranged from 18 to 20 minutes.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe Soft Pretzel Rolls

Slow Cooker White Bean Chili

I made this for dinner tonight and it was really good. The preparation was quick - I got everything into the crock pot while Moo was eating her breakfast pancakes - and once it was cooking there wasn't anything to do until about a half hour before dinner. We had a couple of people over for dinner and ended up with just one small serving of leftovers, and everyone liked it.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe Slow Cooker White Bean Chili

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna

I made this for dinner tonight. I wanted to make a freezer meal to get ready for the upcoming new baby (but this is probably the only one I'll make - I don't make dinner every night, so why do I need a freezer full of freezer meals?), and when I saw this recipe on Facebook it looked good. I used my regular 8*8 glass pan and bought a disposal aluminum pan (that ended up being a little shallow but will probably be fine since the spinach does cook down quite a bit and the foil stays on for the first part of the baking). Instead of using 3 lasagna pieces I used two for each. And I didn't measure the spinach; I bought a big carton of it and tore it (tearing is like coarse chopping, right?) over the lasagna until it looked like there was a thick layer. Also I used Costco canned chicken (cooking chicken seemed like an extra step I didn't have time for) - 2 cans total.

I really liked the recipe. I like white sauce lasagnas, and overall it was tasty. I like that I can have it ready in the freezer, and I imagine it will make good leftovers.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe White Chicken and Spinach Lasagna


For the same dinner as the Balsamic Chicken Noodle Bowl, Eric's other sister made these scotcheroos. I wanted to keep eating them all night but just had two. I made them for us a few days later, and I think I cooked the sugar/corn syrup mixture too long because they were kind of tough/hard. I tried again this week and cooked the sugar/corn syrup on medium-low just until I saw some simmering (not to a full boil), and they were very soft. Cooking them a little longer probably would have been fine - they're not grainy (from the sugar), but I feel like they're almost grainy.

Also, I feel like the recipe is a little unclear - a package or a cup of semisweet chocolate chips? I used a cup (and a cup of butterscotch chips).

Rice Krispies Scotcheroos

Balsamic Chicken Noodle Bowl

Eric's sister made this a couple of weeks ago for family dinner and I really really really liked it. I love balsamic vinegar, and it was just really tasty. I made it a few days later and liked that it was mostly easy. I used Costco tenderloins for the chicken (I can't remember how many) and cooked the chicken before cooking the peppers. I left out the feta (just because I think Eric's sister had left out feta) and probably used more mozzarella (I used the entire ball thing I had gotten at the store), and I think I had less basil (I used fresh basil, but the little package I bought probably wasn't a half cup). When I made it the cheese got kind of melty, but it was still really good. Next time I might try adding some tomatoes.

It also made pretty good leftovers, and I hate leftovers.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe Balsamic Chicken Noodle Bowl

Hoisin Rice Noodles with Chicken

This was a recipe that Eric thought was good (or not bad) and I didn't like at all. I felt like it *could* have been good - kind of a Thai-peanut-noodle dish - but it wasn't very flavorful to me.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe Hoisin Rice Noodles

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chicken with Zucchini and Mushrooms

This is one of Mel's Kitchen Cafe 30-minute recipes, so I tried it for dinner tonight. It was quick and easy, and it tasted fine, but it wasn't anything special. I expected it to be more flavorful because of the sesame oil and balsamic vinegar, but it was pretty bland. Maybe it would have been better if I had added some salt? I'd make it again, but it's not something I'd really get excited about eating.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry

Made this stir fry (with the sweet-and-sour chicken) for dinner tonight (we had people over). It was pretty quick, pretty cheap, and a hit. The chicken was a little too peppery and there was a bit too much sauce. I used 6 Costco chicken tenderloins - probably both of those problems would have been solved with more chicken, or I could have used less salt/pepper in the salt/pepper/corn starch step. It really was easy (hardest part was cutting the chicken and veggies), though, so I think we're going to add it into the rotation.*

*We don't really have a meal rotation. Sometime I'd like to make a chart, but I haven't yet.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars

This was another recipe that I found when looking for dessert ideas. They turned out pretty well. Eric says it's one of his favorite things I've made.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars from Annie's Eats

I wasn't completely happy with the caramel layer. It has a sweetened condensed milk base, so it was easier than some other caramel recipes, but it just didn't have that rich, buttery caramel taste that I like. I might try making these again but with the caramel from the chocolate caramel tart I've made before. Also, I spent about 35-40 minutes cooking the caramel before I decided it was done. The recipe doesn't give a temperature indication, but mine got to a little over 200. (Maybe 220?) I decided to stop when it looked like the color in the picture on the recipe. My caramel was pretty firm, but Eric says not too firm.

I did each step on a different day. The shortbread and chocolate layers were super fast/easy. I used the same Ghirardelli 65% (I think 65%) bars that I use for ganache and stuff.

I was nervous about putting on too much salt, so I used our sea salt grinder and then sprinkled the finer salt lightly across the top. I wish I had used more salt because it's very tasty on these.

Banoffee Pie

A few weeks ago we needed to bring dessert to something so I found a few recipes that looked good and asked Eric which he would prefer. I can't remember what I ended up making, but today I got around to making this banoffee pie from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. I guess banoffee pie is a thing...I hadn't heard of it before making this recipe.

I did make my own dulce de leche using the crockpot method she gives. I made two batches. Both times I had one jar on its side and that jar leaked. I cooked both batches on low for about 9 hours and decided they were done because they looked like they were the right color. I used a little over two jars for the pie and stirred in a teaspoon of vanilla before pouring it into the oreo crust. 

I accidentally used granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar in the cream layer. I don't know how it would have been different otherwise. 

The pie overall was a lot softer than I thought it would have been. I had the cream layer in the mixer for probably 5-6 minutes and thought it looked thick. It was in the refrigerator for probably 1.5 hours before serving. It was very tasty, though (but very very sweet). 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Banana Pudding Caramel Cream Trifles

One day this recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe popped up on facebook so I decided to try it. I did each part separately so that I didn't have to cook everything at once (with the pudding and the caramel sauce (I made her homemade sauce) it was a bit of time stirring at the stove). I didn't love how the pudding turned out - I even strained it, but it was still kind of grainy or something. But the taste was fine, and the caramel sauce was awesome, and all together it was pretty good.

Chicken Sauce for Hawaiian Haystacks

I really like Hawaiian Haystacks. I had no idea they were a trend from the 80s. Anyway, the pictures on this recipe looked really good so one day I made the chicken sauce from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. It was a little more involved than I thought it'd be, but it was tasty. We had this over brown rice with tomatoes, green onions (I didn't eat those), chow mein noodles, and mandarin oranges. I wish I would have included black olives and maybe pineapple instead of the oranges. It was still tasty, though. And the leftovers were great.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

One of my favorite things to eat is sweet and sour chicken (Almond Chicken) at The Mandarin in Bountiful, UT. I've never had sauce like theirs anywhere else. This recipe on Mel's Kitchen Cafe looked like the same sauce, and it's one of the most popular on her site, so I decided to try it. I've made it twice. The second time the corn starch/egg step went a lot better - I didn't cut the chicken as small (the first time I did bite-sized pieces, and the second time I did chunks that were probably 3/4 inch by 1 or 1 1/4 inch), and I beat the eggs with a mixer. I also stirred the chicken through the eggs instead of trying to coat each piece. Both times the chicken pieces haven't been evenly coated, so they don't look just like the chicken in her picture, but it still tastes good. Next time I want to try to remember to include some bell peppers.

I use chicken tenderloins from Costco and usually do 5 pieces and bake it in an 8 x 8 pan (p.s. I *love* that you just mix the sauce and pour it over). With that amount of chicken it would probably be nice to 1.5 times the sauce recipe (or even double it), but it's fine as it is.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Williams-Sonoma Mexican Wedding Cookies

I really really like Mexican wedding cookies. Eric made chocolate chip cookies for the people he home teaches, so I decided to make these for the people I visit teach. Instructions are copied verbatim from the book Cookies by Williams-Sonoma.


1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup ground blanched almonds


1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, cream the butter until fluffy and pale yellow. Add 1/2 cup of the confectioners' sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat on low speed until blended. 

2. Sift the flour and cinnamon together onto a sheet of waxed paper. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. Stir in the almonds. Cover and refrigerate until the dough is chilled, but not hard, and is no longer sticky to the touch, about 15 minutes. 

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready 2 ungreased baking sheets. Sift the remaining 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar into a shallow bowl. 

4. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. 

Bake the cookies until just golden on the bottom, 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes before removing them one at a time and rolling them in the sugar. Let cool completely on wire racks. 

My Notes

I hate rolling things in sugar. 

These were good, and the cookie part did have that Mexican wedding cookie taste, but I think almonds are the worst nut (except for peanuts) and I didn't grind mine finely (I was afraid of getting to almond butter) so there were little bits of almond throughout. Next time I make these I'm going to make them with walnuts. I feel like that's how I've had them before, anyway, and walnuts are just a better nut. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sweet Rice Pudding Brulee

I was going to make a 3-chocolate layer creme brulee but I was missing one of the chocolates, so I made this instead. The recipe is from the book Creme Brulee by Whitecap, and instructions are copied verbatim.

I liked the recipe, but it wasn't my favorite. The rice *did* expand and I think I would have liked it better if there were more custard and less rice. (My bad for not reading the recipe completely before starting.)


2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup risotto rice
1/4 cup superfine sugar
4 egg yolks
1 cup hevy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup superfine sugar, to finish


1. Pour the milk into a saucepan, bring to a boil, hen add the rice. Reduce the heat and cook over a moderate heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rice is soft and about one-third of the milk remains. 

2. Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the sugar. Use a fork to mix together the egg yolks, cream, and vanilla extract in a bowl, then strain into the rice and mix well. 

3. Arrange 6 heatproof ramekins or custard cups in a roasting pan. Spoon the rice and custard into the dishes, then pour warm water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until the custard is just set. 

4. Leave the dishes to cool in the water for 40-50 minutes. Lift out, sprinkle the tops with sugar, and caramelize with a blowtorch. Serve within 20-30 minutes. 

Tip: These puddings can be eaten cold, but as they cool the rice swells to make a much firmer finish. 

My Notes

Elsewhere in this book, "just set" is followed by "with a slight softness at the center," so I stopped baking (10 minutes past 25 minutes) when the edges were firm and the center was a little jiggly. 

I didn't notice the part about caramelizing immediately and serving quickly until they had been in the fridge for a few hours (I assumed that they were like other creme brulees that needed to stay in the fridge before eating), so I don't know what they would have been like at room temperature. 

I used my vanilla bean paste in lieu of vanilla extract.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Williams-Sonoma Sugar Cookies

This is the second sugar cookie recipe I tried. It's from the book Cookies by Williams-Sonoma. I've made 4 other cookies from this book, so at this point I trust it (not like that The Perfect Finish book!). Instructions are copied verbatim from the book.

These were crispy/crunchy, light (but buttery/rich), and very tasty but rolled thin enough that they probably wouldn't withstand toddler frosting.


1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
Sugar for sprinkling, such as granulated, decorating, turbinado, maple or confectioners' 


1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, cream the butter until fluffy and pale. Add the granulated sugar in 3 additions, beating on low speed for 2 minutes after each addition. Beat the egg yolk and vanilla into the butter mixture until well blended. 

2. Sift the flour and salt together onto a sheet of waxed paper. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended. 

3. Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to overnight. 

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment (baking) paper. 

5. Remove the dough disks from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out between 2 sheets fo waxed paper to a thickness of 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Using cookie cutters, cut into circles or other shapes. Repeat with the remaining dough portions, then gather up the scraps and reroll them. If the scraps of dough have become sticky, refrigerate them for 10 minutes before rerolling. For best results, do not roll the same dough more than twice. 

6. Using an offset spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared pans. Sprinkle with sugar. (If using maple or confectioners' sugar, bake the cookies, then sprinkle with sugar while still warm.) If using an intricately shaped cutter, refrigerate the cutout cookies for 15-30 minutes before baking. 

7. Bake the cookies until they are lightly golden brown on the bottom, 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool briefly on the pans on wire racks before transferring them to the racks to cool completely. 

My Notes

Like I've said before, I just whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl instead of sifting them.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sugar Cookies

I volunteered to make sugar cookies for a spouse's club Valentine's Day activity so I used the event as an excuse to try a couple of recipes. One of my favorite cookies is the sugar cookie with cream cheese frosting from Smart Cookie, so I'd love to someday find a cookie recipe that's close to theirs.

The first one I tried was just from the Internet. I read some reviews and made a few changes (adding more sugar and vanilla), and I adjusted the recipe for only 30 servings (15 was too few, and anything between 15 and 30 required me to use a fraction of the second egg).

I wasn't happy with how these turned out, and after baking up these and the ones from the other recipe I just ended up buying some at the store on the way to the activity. I was looking for a cookie that would puff up a bit and hold its shape well, but this wasn't it. The ones I got at the store were almost exactly the same, though.

I wonder if I need to start using high-altitude adjustments. Maybe it's because I don't that I so often feel stupid when I'm baking.

Here's the link to the recipe. Below is the ingredients/instructions I used.


3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt


1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight). 

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. 

3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pecan Toffee Bars

I've been wanting to make pecan pie since about Thanksgiving, but Eric doesn't like pie crust so I didn't get around to making it just for me to eat. This recipe promised to be "like mini pecan pies in bar form," so I decided to try it. It's from The Perfect Finish by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark. Instructions are copied verbatim from the book.

The first part (the crust) made me so mad. First, I was sad that I didn't have a food processor big enough to handle the dough. I started with a pastry cutter, then tried knives, then tried a fork, and then went back to the pastry cutter. Eventually I got it to the "coarse crumbs" consistency, but then I had to press it into a ball. That was a huge pain. I couldn't get it all together, so I just plopped it onto my awesome new pastry mat and rolled it out. That part was really easy, but then I noticed that the instructions said that the 9 x 13 rectangle would be 1/8 inch thick. Mine was about 1/2 inch thick. At that point I started thinking that all that butter would just be wasted and I was pretty annoyed at the recipe authors for not being more careful with their instructions (or ingredients?). I put it in the oven anyway, and after the requisite 30 minutes I lifted up the foil to check for "slightly golden." It was nowhere near there, and the dough was sticking to the foil (the instructions didn't say anything about this or about greasing the foil, though afterward I figured I probably misinterpreted "cover with aluminum foil, pressing the foil down into the corners" to mean that the foil should be against the dough). I ditched the foil and let it bake for another 15ish minutes until it was golden around the edges and faintly golden across the top.

The second part was really easy, but I had to let it cook for about 30 extra minutes before I felt it met the description "no longer moves to the side when the pan is tilted." Even then, there was still some movement but I thought, "Seriously? Twice as long?" This was annoying too because I had planned on 30 minutes and wasn't able to do something that I needed to do (go to the store to get a plastic heart-shaped cookie cutter) when I wanted to do it. I was pretty worried, too - there was a lot of bubbling around the edges and I didn't want the filling to turn too hard once it cooled (even though I knew it was supposed to "set into toffee."

A couple of hours after I took it out of the oven it was still warm and mushy. I was tired of looking at it, so I gave it to my brother. He gave it to some people who said that it was good. I don't think it turned out how it was supposed to. But by the time I realized that I had already typed in the recipe, so I'll keep it here instead of just listing this as a failed attempt. Even though that's totally what it was.

P.S. A day later I started wondering if I was being too hard on this recipe. My brother said his friends really liked it, and if it was really supposed to be like pecan pie then it makes sense that it had a soft middle (but the cookie part should have been firm/crunchy and it wasn't). I wouldn't try it again even so, though, because I didn't like the molasses taste (no fault of the recipe).


Shortbread Crust

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt

Pecan Filling

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup molasses
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups pecans



1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. In a medium bowl, using a fork or pastry cutter, combine the flour, butter, sugar, and salt until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 

2. Press the dough into a ball, gathering up all the crumbles. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 9 by 13 inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Press it into the bottom of the baking pan, pushing the dough out to the edges of the pan (but not up the sides of the pan). Prick the dough all over with a fork and cover with aluminum foil, pressing the foil down into the corners. Bake on the center rack until it has become slightly golden when you lift up the foil, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to fill, leaving the oven on. 


In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, corn syrup, molasses, eggs, butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir int he pecans to combine. Spread the filling evenly over the hot crust. 

Bake and Serve

Return the pan to the oven and bake on the center rack until the mixture is set and no longer moves to the side when the pan is tilted, about 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. Cut into bars and serve.

Williams-Sonoma Double-Ginger Snaps

From the book Cookies by Williams-Sonoma. I liked these because I appreciated the crunchy sugar outside and chewy inside, but one time I got sick after eating one (unrelated) and now I don't want them anymore. And Eric likes the Pioneer Woman ones better. And I don't love making the crystallized ginger. So I might not make these again for awhile. Anyway, instructions are copied verbatim.


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 large whole egg, lightly beaten, plus 1 large egg white
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup coarse sugar crystals


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment (baking) paper. 

2. Sift the flour, ground ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together onto a sheet of waxed paper. 

3. In a large bowl, stir the oil, brown sugar, and molasses together with a wooden spoon until well blended. Add the whole egg and beat until blended. Stir in the flour mixture and crystallized ginger. 

4. Lightly beat the egg white in a small bowl. Spread the sugar crystals in a shallow bowl. 

5. With dampened hands, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Brush each ball lightly with egg white and roll in the sugar to coat lightly. Place the cookies about 1 inch apart on the prepared pans. 

6. Bake the cookies until the tops are set and crackled, 15-18 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes before transferring them to the racks to cool completely. The cookies will firm as they cool. 

My Notes

I follow their instructions for making crystallized ginger (below). I also roll the ball in the egg white because brushing it was too messy. 

Crystallized Ginger

Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar until dissolved. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, then add 1 cup thinly sliced (1/8 inch), peeled fresh ginger. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, then put the ginger in a bowl with 1/2 cup sugar and toss to coat. Spread out in a single layer on waxed paper and let cool. Store in a tightly covered jar for up to 3 weeks. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard

Another recipe from the "Indian" category on Smitten Kitchen.

I forgot to add the lime and wished I hadn't. I left out the cilantro because Eric doesn't like it, but it probably would have been nice (especially with the lime).

I used 4 cups of broth, but at the end (of what seemed like a lot longer cooking time) the lentils weren't as soft as I would have liked. So if I make this again (which I might, because it's pretty cheap and easy and fast except for how long it takes to cube the sweet potatoes), I think I'll add 5 cups broth.

I didn't use any almonds.

I did remove all of the seeds from the pepper. In the end the dish had a slight spicy kick but it wasn't too spicy for me.

Also, we had spinach so I used that instead of chard. I chopped it up, so I didn't really notice it.

I really like sweet potatoes, so I think it would be a little better with more sweet potato and less lentil (fewer lentils?).

It would probably be good with naan. Or rice.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Naan (again)

I've also used this recipe to make Naan. My cooking friend gave it to me, but it's from the book How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. But apparently there's a difference between How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything: The Basics, which is the book I got from the library, because I can't find the recipe in there. (We also have How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, a gift from Eric's sister.)

This is the one I used for dinner last night. I used 2 cups whole wheat flour (about 1 1/4 cups white whole wheat and 3/4 cup red whole wheat) and about 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour. I added a little extra yogurt and milk, and ended up using 1 cup water. While it was rising I read somewhere that it's almost always okay to just switch out 50% of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat without having to adjust anything else. I should have done that; the dough ended up being really wet and hard to work with when it was time to roll it out. Also, I didn't love the flavor with the whole wheat (but it wasn't bad, and maybe it would have been better if we would have brushed it with butter at the end instead of forgetting that step).


2 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1 tbsp sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
2 tsp kosher salt
4 tbsp butter, melted and still warm


1. Stir together the yeast, mik, yogurt, and sugar in a small bowl and set aside. 

2. Combine the flour, egg, and salt in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add the yeast mixture through the feed tube. 

3. Process for about 30 seconds, adding 1 1/2 cup water, a little at a time, until the dough starts to form a ball. (You may not need all the water.)

4. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few seconds to get a tight, round ball. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. You can also let it rise in the fridge for 6 to 8 hours. 

5. Put a baking sheet (or preferably, a stone) in the oven and heat to 500 degrees. Punch the dough down and divide into 12 balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rest at least 10 minutes, and up to 30. 

6. Roll out the balls, two at a time, into an oval roughly 6 inches by 8 inches. Place a small bowl of water next to your prep area. Open the oven door, wet your hands and pick up the dough to dampen each side, then place them gently on the hot stone. Bake for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown, turning over with tongs. If the dough sticks to the stone, let it bake for 1 more minute. Brush warm naan with melted butter, and finish the process for the remaining dough. 

My notes

I always proof my yeast because I've had a couple of times where something didn't rise and proofing it makes me feel better. 

I'm pretty sure when he says "food processor" he means food processor like what you would chop vegetables in, but ours is too small for this recipe so I just did it in my Kitchenaid mixer. I also used the kneading paddle for the first knead. 

I guess this is where I got the idea to bake the naan on the pizza stone. Also, just like with the other recipe, I add a bunch of garlic (last night I added about 3 tbsp because I really like garlic) right before the second rise/rest. 

Chana Masala

I can never remember what the Indian dishes are called. When I go to Indian buffets I know that I usually like the dish with spinach, the one with with lentils, and the one with chickpeas (and the bread and those fritter things and samosas). I saw this recipe and decided to make it in case it's the same as the one with chickpeas.

I used the extra lemon juice instead of amchoor. I wasn't sure what she meant by "hot green pepper," so I bought an anaheim pepper.

I had to buy garam masala for this recipe. The rest of the spices I had (though I only had whole coriander, so I toasted and ground that with the cumin seeds).

Overall, it wasn't a bad dish, but I wouldn't make it again. It was a little too spicy for me (though that would probably be fixed with less chili powder), and it wasn't a thick enough consistency. Maybe it would have been thicker if I had pureed the onion/pepper, or if I had let it cook longer. Or maybe some coconut milk would have worked?

We ate it with our naan, but some rice would have been nice.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Mango Lassi

I love mango lassis. I'm sad when I don't order one at an Indian restaurant. Mangos were on sale today, so I bought a couple and tried a recipe.

It wasn't gross, but it wasn't at all like a restaurant mango lassi. It wasn't as smooth (we use a Ninja blender), but it also didn't have the same taste. So I'll keep trying (with other recipes).

Pioneer Woman's Butternut Squash and Kale Quesadillas

This is the only recipe currently under Pioneer Woman's "vegetarian" category, so I decided to try it for dinner tonight. But I had a couple of bad quesadillas in a row (I won't say what restaurant, but I will say that I don't want to go there ever again), so I took the "over pasta" option in the recipe description.

It was my first time buying/cooking/eating kale (remember when I asked the person in the store where it was and I was standing right by it?), and I didn't hate it. It's not my favorite green, though - it was a little bit tougher than I would have liked. I thought the meal (the squash and kale over shell pasta topped with shaved parmesan) was just okay, but my brother (who we invite over because we like him and also because he helps us have less food leftover) said it was one of his favorite things we've made.

I'm shocked that the meatloaf wasn't on his "top 3" list. It's really really good meatloaf.

He and Eric also said I should take pictures of what I make. I don't really want to get into that - I feel like typing up the recipes takes enough time as it is, and there are way prettier pictures than I would take on the sites I'm linking to. But here's a picture.

Pioneer Woman's Molasses Cookies

This is the recipe I bought cardamom for. They're good cookies. Eric likes them better than the double ginger molasses cookies I need to post the recipe for.

Homemade Oreo Cookies

Another recipe from my cooking friend. I don't have the book, but I'm pretty sure it's Flour by Joanne Chang. Instructions are copied verbatim.

I've made these cookies three times, and the frosting just once. I wasn't that impressed with the frosting, and I think the cookies are better (and easier to eat) just on their own with milk. They're tasty. 



1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
Pinch of kosher salt



1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the vanilla and chocolate. Add the egg and whisk until thoroughly incorporated. 

2. In another medium bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda until well mixed. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. The dough will start to seem too floury, and you will find it easiest to switch to mixing it with your hands until it comes together. It will have the consistency of Play-Doh. Let the dough sit at room temperature for about 1 hour to firm up. 

3. Transfer the dough to a 15-inch square sheet of parchment or waxed paper. Using your hands, shape the dough into a rough log about 10 inches long and 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Place the log at the edge of the sheet of parchment paper, and roll the parchment around the log. With the log fully encased in parchment, roll it into a smoother log, keeping it at 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm. The log may settle and sink a bit in the fridge, so reroll it every 15 minutes or so to maintain a nice round log. (At this point, the dough log can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. If the dough is frozen, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding.) 

4. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. 

5. Cut the dough log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place the slices about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. 

6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies are firm to the touch. Check them frequently after 16 or 17 minutes, poking them in the middle. As soon as they feel firm to the touch, remove them from the oven. You can't judge by color because they start out black. Let cool on the baking sheet to warm or room temperature. They don't have to cool completely before you fill them, but you can't fill them while they are hot. 


1. While the cookies are cooling, using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat the butter on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until completely smooth and soft. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Add the milk and salt and again beat until smooth. Add the milk and salt and again beat until smooth. It will look like white spackle and feel about the same - like putty. You can also mix this filling by hand. Make sure the butter is very soft, and use your hands to mix and knead the sugar into the butter. You should have about 1 cup. (The filling can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.) 

2. Scoop about 1 rounded tablespoon of the filling onto the bottom of one cookie. Top with a second cookie, bottom-side down, then press the cookies together to spread the filling toward the edges. Repeat until all of the cookies are filled. 

My notes

I don't know if my salt is kosher salt. 

I do this all in my Kitchenaid mixer (except that I whisk the flour, etc. in a separate bowl). P.S. - any time a recipe says to sift dry ingredients together, I just whisk them together in a bowl. 

As I was typing this, I thought that it might be pretty awesome to use a cream cheese (or cream cheese/marshmallow fluff) frosting instead of the buttercream frosting. 

The book suggests a peanut-butter cream filling as an alternative. 

Lemon Tart Brulee

This is another recipe from The Perfect Finish, by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark (making the score 2/4 from this book). I've made it twice. It's easy, doesn't take a ton of time, and both times it's been delicious. It's pretty sour, but the caramelized sugar topping balances out the lemon. Instructions are verbatim from the book (but see my notes - I used a different tart shell the second time).


Almond Tart Shell

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup almond flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
2 large eggs at room temperature

Lemon Filling

1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
21 1/3 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed and softened
Pinch salt
1 10-inch almond tart shell, baked
1/2 cup Demarara or turbinado sugar, for serving, optional


Almond Tart Shell

1. Place the all-purpose flour, sugar, almond flour or ground almonds, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the eggs and pulse until the dough just comes together. 

2. Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and pat it into a disk. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or overnight (or up to 3 days). 

3. When you are ready to bake the tart, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Fit the dough into a 10-inch tart pan, trim it so that there is an inch of overhang all around, and fold the overhang in to build up the edge of the tart shell. Lightly prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork to prevent bubbling. Freeze the tart shell for 1 hour. 

4. Line the tart shell with aluminum foil, fill it with pie weights or dried beans, and bake on the center rack for 25 minutes. Gently lift the weighted aluminum foil off the shell, prick the crust a few more times with a fork, and bake for 5 more minutes until lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. 

Lemon Filling

1. Have ready a clean bowl with a fine-mesh sieve set over it to strain the filling. 

2. In a bowl, beat together the sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest until thoroughly combined. Pour into a heavy, nonreactive saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir and cook until the lemon curd is as thick around the sides as mayonnaise, 12 minutes (about 196 degrees F on a candy thermometer). 

3. Pour the curd into the sieve and push through with a rubber spatula into the bowl. Let cool until it feels just warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. 

4. Add the softened butter cubes and salt, and whisk until thoroughly combined. (Use an immersion blender to smoothly incorporate the butter.) 

5. Spread the curd evenly in the baked tart shell and refrigerate uncovered until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day. 

6. If you have a blowtorch or creme caramel torch, you can brulee the top of the tart before serving by sprinkling an even layer of the Demarara or turbinado sugar over the top and browning it evenly. Or run it under the broiler, watching very carefully - depending on how far the pan is from the heat it can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes, and you may need to move the tart around to caramelize the top evenly.

My notes

I have 9.5-inch and 11-inch tart pans. In the 11-inch pan the filling doesn't come to the top of the tart shell. In the 9.5-inch pan it's flush with the shell. 

The first time I made this I used the almond tart recipe (I made the almond flour/meal with blanched almond slivers in my food processor), but it made quite a bit more dough than I needed and I couldn't really taste the almond (maybe I could have added almond extract?). The second time I made this I used the tart recipe I linked to in the chocolate caramel tart post. That one doesn't make as much dough and it uses less butter. 

I use rice instead of pie weights (and I use it for that "unshrinkable" tart shell recipe, too). I've reused the same rice for probably a year and it still works/is fine.

Both times I've made this, the curd has gotten to 196 degrees F pretty quickly, but it has taken at least twice as long as indicated to get to what I would call as thick as mayonnaise (even around the sides). I cooked it a little less the second time and it was softer but still set after refrigerating. The first time I cooked it for quite awhile (25-30 min?), and I really liked the finished texture. There were a couple of egg chunkies in it (I might not have been as vigilant about stirring as I could have been), but those strained out and the curd didn't taste eggy. 

I don't know what Demarara or turbinado sugar is (I use granulated sugar that I've put through the food processor), and I don't know if my saucepan is nonreactive. Maybe it's reactive and that's why it takes so dang long for the curd to thicken? 

Pepper and Spice Dark Chocolate Cookies

I made these for Eric because he liked the homemade oreo cookies a lot and he likes things that are spicy. From The Perfect Finish, by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark. Instructions are copied verbatim.


1 tsp black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of ground mace
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp pink peppercorns
12 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
Granulated sugar, for sprinkling


1. In an electric spice grinder or clean electric coffee grinder, grind the black peppercorns and cinnamon stick to a medium-fine powder. Sift the ground spices, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, allspice, salt, ginger, mace, and cayenne onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper and set aside. 

2. Using a mortar and pestle or the flat side of a knife, crush the pink peppercorns. Place the pink pepper in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and add the butter and brown sugar. Beat until creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the egg and vanilla. 

3. Add the spice-flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap and roll it into a 1 1/2-inch-diameter log. Wrap well and refrigerate overnight. 

4. The next day, position the oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick liners. Using a thin-bladed knife, slice the cookies into 1/4-inch-thick coins and place them on the baking sheets 1/2 inch apart. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of granulated sugar. Bake, turning the sheets from back to front and switching them between the top rack and the bottom halfway through, until the cookies are just firm to the touch, about 8 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes to firm up, then use a spatula to transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. 

My notes

I added a tiny bit more pink peppercorns - I had just bought them, they're pretty, they come in a big just seemed like the right thing to do. 

I didn't do the thing with two sheets in the oven. 

I don't like these as much as Eric does. They have a little bit more of a spicy aftertaste than I would prefer. But he'll sit and eat a bunch at a time, so it's not that they're not good cookies. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte

This is *so* good.

My cooking friend made it for us and I wanted to cry because I loved it so much. She made it without the peanuts and without the espresso powder, so that's how I've made it too. I add a little more mini chocolate chips (which can also be regular chocolate chips that have been through the food processor a bit) and a little bit of cocoa powder instead.

The first time I made it I didn't have a springform pan, so I used a pie dish and it was fine. Also, I make the ganache as directed in the chocolate caramel tart recipe because I don't want to use a double boiler, and it's always fine.

Also, my friend suggested using the cookies from the oreo cookie recipe in the crust, and that's really good too.

Raspberry Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

In high school I worked for a restaurant that served a raspberry vanilla bean creme brulee dessert. I loved caramelizing the sugar, and it was one of my favorite desserts to order. For Christmas I got a kitchen torch, so I've been trying lots of different creme brulee recipes. This one's from Creme Brulee by Whitecap Books. Recipe instructions are verbatim from the book. I added the raspberries on my own.


1 vanilla bean
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
8 egg yolks
1/4 cup superfine sugar
3 tbsp confectioner's sugar


1. Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and put it in a saucepan. Pour the cream into the pan, then bring almost to a boil. Take off the heat and allow to stand for 15 minutes for the vanilla flavor to develop. 

2. Lift the vanilla bean out of the cream and, holding it against the side of the saucepan, scrape the black seeds into the cream. Discard the bean casing. 

3. Use a fork to mix together the eggs and sugar in a bowl. Reheat the cream, then gradually mix it into the eggs and sugar. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan. 

4. Place 6 ovenproof ramekins or custard cups in a roasting pan then divide the custard between them. Pour warm water around the dishes to come halfway up the sides, then bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes until the custards are jus set with a slight softness at the center. 

5. Leave the dishes to cool in the water, then lift them out and chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. About 25 minutes before serving, sprinkle the tops with confectioner's sugar (no need to sift). Caramelize using a blowtorch then leave at room temperature. 

TIP: One teaspoon of vanilla extract can be added to the egg yolks in place of a vanilla bean in the cream. 

My notes

I've made this twice. The first time it was awesome. I followed the recipe except that I scraped the black seeds out of the vanilla bean before boiling the cream (but still left the bean in for the boiling/15 minutes) and I didn't reheat the cream. It took 10-15 minutes longer to cook than indicated, maybe because the cream was cooled. The second time I reheated the cream a bit and set the timer for too long - they browned around the edges. The second time the custard tasted a bit eggy in parts - this may be because of cooking it for too long, but it may also be that I didn't separate the eggs well enough (there might have been some egg white in the mixture). 

Also, I put granulated sugar into the food processor for a couple of minutes to make it "superfine," and I use this same sugar for caramelizing (instead of powdered sugar). 

I did use vanilla beans both times, but I've since bought vanilla paste that I'm going to use in the future. I'll probably add it to the yolks.

When I've made it, I added 4-6 raspberries to the cups before pouring in the custard. Also, we don't have traditional ramekins, so I use our little Corel bowls and just make 4. 

Hot and Sweet Meatballs

I saw this recipe on the Pioneer Woman website and decided it would probably work for the Costco meatballs we have. I used mango peach jam because we didn't have apricot (the next time I made it I used apricot and it seemed the same). Everyone who's had it likes it a lot (for me it's almost too spicy because the meatballs also have some spice, I think).

I've used this with about 16 meatballs up to about 32. When I did 32 I increased the recipe to 1.5, but it was almost too much sauce.

We eat it with rice, and the leftovers are just as good.

Monday, February 4, 2013

BTS Cake

A long time ago - maybe in college - someone made a "better than sex cake." It's just what it's called. I made it tonight for Eric's birthday and was surprised that my brother hadn't ever heard of it, so here's the recipe. A box chocolate cake works fine, but a couple of years ago Eric's sister made an awesome chocolate cake so now I use that recipe. Or I've tried to use that recipe...the first time it was overbaked because our oven cooked too hot (but it was still okay because of the filling), and this second time it overflowed (even though the dish was only 1/2 to 2/3 full) and sank again in the middle (again, though, it was okay because of the filling - I just cut away the sides so that it was level). My guesses on this second time are that it was because of the white whole wheat flour I used or because it needs to be cooked at a higher temperature than indicated. It's so good, though, so I'm going to keep trying until I get it right.

The filling is just 1/2 to 2/3 cups each of caramel sauce (ice cream topping) and sweetened condensed milk (mixed together in a saucepan over medium heat until blended). After the cake has baked, poke large holes throughout (maybe an inch apart or less). I use the fat end of a knife or the round end of a wooden spoon. Then pour the filling over the cake, trying to evenly distribute it (don't let it all seep down the edges). Refrigerate for awhile - maybe an hour.

I think most people top the cake with cool whip and then crushed heath bar bits, but sometimes I like to make a frosting with a bar of cream cheese and a little tub of marshmallow fluff. I haven't done that in awhile (Eric thinks it makes the rich cake *too* rich), so I can't really remember, but it might also need some milk and/or powdered sugar to round it out and make it more spreadable.

Failed Attempts

There are a few recipes I've tried lately that weren't great (and that I wouldn't try again).

Green Thai Curry from Vegan With a Vengeance - a lot of work for not a lot of flavor (though I did get to learn how to use lemongrass)

Orange Supreme Muffins from The Perfect Finish - part of the problem might have been that I was using white whole wheat flour. I don't know. But I got to learn how to supreme an orange.

Bouley Banana Chocolate Tart from The Perfect Finish - the caramel was off. Maybe it was the lime juice. It just wasn't good. Waste of ganache...

Pumpkin Creme Brulee - turned out, but wasn't good.

Dark Chocolate Caramel Creme Brulee - more of a pudding. Tasty, but I didn't like it with the caramelized sugar top. The custard was good by itself with raspberries.

Croissants - *tons* of work (or time), maybe they would have been better if I hadn't overbaked them. I'll try again with a different recipe. (This is what I had tried.)

Sweet Tamarind Chutney

After making the sweet potato crepes (with naan, not crepes) I wanted to find another use for my tamarind sauce so I made this sauce. It's a good sauce to dip naan in. And the samosas that my cooking friend makes but that I haven't yet tried (I'm waiting for my pastry mat to come in the mail).

Sweet Potato Crepes with Cilantro-Tamarind Sauce

For about 5-6 years I had a vegan cookbook with a sweet potato crepes recipe that I wanted to try, but every time I looked at it I decided I didn't want to go buy the spices. I eventually tried the recipe a few months ago and now it's one of my favorite things to make for dinner (with naan instead of crepes, but I'll include the crepe recipe here). The recipe is from Vegan With a Vengeance, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Instructions are verbatim from the book.



2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 cardamom pods
6 whole cloves
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt


2 tbsp peanut oil
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
Half a 15-oz can coconut milk
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp fresh lime juice


1/2 cup raw cashews
2 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro
2 tsp tamarind concentrate
Half a 15-oz can coconut milk
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp peanut oil
Pinch salt


1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups water


Spice blend

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Pour in all of the seeds, pods, and cloves except for the cinnamon and cayenne, and toast for about 3 minutes, shaking the skillet back and forth for even heating. The spices should smell warm and toasty. Remove the mixture from the pan immediately and transfer to a bowl to cool. When fully cooled, place in a spice grinder (a coffee grinder works) or mortar and pestle. Grind to a fine powder and add the cinnamon, cayenne, and salt. Set aside. 


Preheat a large skillet over moderate heat. Pour in the oil and heat, then add the onions and bell pepper, and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger; saute about 2 minutes more. Add the spice blend and make sure the onions are coated with is. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for a minute or two. Cover the pan and cook for 15 more minutes, stirring frequently, until the sweet potatoes are tender. (You should prepare the sauce while they are cooking.) Add the coconut milk, maple syrup, and lime juice, cover, and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. The coconut milk should be fully incorporated into the sweet potatoes. 


Grind the cashews in a blender or food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. That's it!


Combine the flours and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the water and olive oil. Use an electric hand mixer to blend until completely smooth (if you don't have a mixer, mix with a fork for a good solid 3 minutes). Cover the batter with plastic wrap and let chill in the fridge for 1/2 hour or so. 

Preheat your crepe pan or a nonstick skillet that is 8 inches or so across. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray or a very thin layer of olive oil. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the pan; tilt and rotate the pan so that the crepe batter has covered the bottom and crept up the sides of the pan just a tiny bit. When it looks like the top of the crepe has pretty much set and the corners of the crepes are just beginning to brown, flip over with a spatula and cook the other side for just under a minute. 

You can remove the crepe in one of two ways (and probably more than two but this is how I do it: (1) fold the crepe in half and then in half again, so that it's folded into a triangular shape; or (2) use a spatula to transfer the crepe to a large plate, putting a sheet of waxed paper between each crepe to keep them from sticking. You may be able to get away with not using the waxed paper if you'd like to chance it. Either way you do it, cover the plate with foil as you make the remainder of the crepes.


There should be two crepes per plate. Place one crepe on a plate, fill with about 1/2 cup of filling and fold each side over, like a jacket. Repeat with a second crepe and drizzle with tamarind sauce. 

My notes

This is a great recipe that's hard to mess up. The most time-consuming part is cubing the sweet potatoes (use a food processor for the onion and pepper). On the spices - I use ground mustard and ground cardamom because that's what I have. I usually substitute about 1/2 tsp (a little less) ground cardamom for the 2 pods, though the Internet says that freshly ground cardamom would be better. I bought a spice grinder a bit ago to do this and it's kind of fun. And it smells really good.

The crepes are pretty with the filling and the sauce, but I really do prefer this with naan. Also, when I made the crepes the chickpea flour didn't seem to matter for the taste. Even when I used more chickpea flour and less regular flour.

And I haven't ever found 15-oz coconut milk cans. I think the ones I always find are 13 oz or something, and that's always seemed to work. 


I love naan. When I make it at home it doesn't turn out exactly the same, since I only have a regular oven, but it's still really good. Right now my favorite thing to eat with naan is sweet potato crepes - I'll post that recipe too.

This is the recipe I've used. I don't have a grill, so I use a pizza stone in the oven (at 500 degrees, so they only bake for a couple of minutes (at the most) on each side). (I've also tried it in a skillet on the stovetop, but I didn't like that method as well.) I don't oil it, and I don't brush the naans with butter until after they're done baking. I *do* pat them with a little bit of water before placing them on the stone. And I probably add twice the garlic that the recipe calls for, and I add it (kneading it in) before the second rising.

Pioneer Woman's Butternut Squash Risotto

I didn't really know what risotto was before I tried this, but I gave it a go and it turned out well. We've added it to our "rotation."

Pioneer Woman's Meatloaf

One day I was watching the episode of Grey's Anatomy where a couple of the characters were trying new recipes, and they were making meatloaf. It made me super hungry for meatloaf, so I googled for recipes and found one on Pioneer Woman's website. It's amazing.

I cook the bacon first and then chop it into small pieces and pat it onto the loaf before baking (because I don't like a lot of fatty fat around the meatloaf). Also, I've tried cooking this on a broiler pan, in a loaf pan, and on a roasting pan covered in foil, and only the broiler pan (covered in foil to make cleanup easier but with holes punched through so that the fat can still drain) works for me.

And I always use a meat thermometer.

Chocolate Caramel Tart with Sea Salt

This is the first recipe I got from my cooking friend. It's from a book called The Perfect Finish, by Bill Yosses and Melissa Clark. I currently have this book from the library, so I'm working my way through several of their recipes.

The instructions are verbatim from the book (pages 137-138). I've added my own notes at the bottom. Also, the ingredients ask for Maldon sea salt, but here I've just written sea salt. Because I don't know what Maldon sea salt is.

Tart shell: They include a recipe, but I've only used one from Smitten Kitchen.

Filling ingredients: 

Caramel layer: 

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
Pinch of sea salt

Ganache filling: 

12 oz bittersweet chocolate (preferably 60 to 66 cacao percent), coarsely chopped
Small pinch of sea salt
2 cups heavy cream



1. In a small saucepan, bring the 1/2 cup cream to a boil, then turn off the heat.

2. In a heavy saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar with 5 tableespoons water and cook, stirring, over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring this caramel mixture to a boil and let cook, without stirring, for about 4 minutes, until it reaches a dark amber color (at about 374 degrees F) and begins to smoke. Don't be afraid, the taste is worth it. Swirl the pan if the sugar is browning unevenly.

3. Take the pan off the heat and slowly whisk the hot cream into the caramel, standing back as you pour since it will sputter. Stir until smooth. Add the salt. Put the pan over low heat if the caramel is not pourable, and warm it, swirling, until it can be poured.

4. Swirling the pan, pour the caramel into the tart shell, evenly covering the bottom. Let cool. It will become matte, rather than glossy, and will feel rubbery and no longer sticky. Refrigerate until ready to pour in the ganache.


1. Place the chocolate and salt in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the cream to a boil.

2. Pour the cream over the chocolate, let sit for 3 minutes, then whisk, beginning in the center and slowly working outward until the chocolate has been smoothly melted into the cream. Set aside.


Scrape the ganache into the tart shell and give the pan a light rap on the counter to level the surface and remove any air bubbles. Allow the chocolate to set at room temperature for at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours. Sprinkle with the sea salt.

My notes: 

I love making this tart. It's not very complicated and doesn't take a ton of time, but it looks fancy and tastes amazing. I like to keep the topping salt separate - not everyone likes it, and it seems better to sprinkle it on right before serving. 

The first time I made it I didn't let the caramel boil for long enough, so it didn't completely set (but it was still good). They're serious when they say to let it smoke (but when I make it, I take it off the heat *immediately* after it starts to smoke, so I don't usually try to do this step when Moo's around). 

Puff Turnovers

This is one of the first recipes I got from my cooking friend. The rolling/assembly takes a little bit of practice, but they're *so* good (at least, I think so. Eric's not a fan, but he's not really into pastry).

I've never seen ClearJel in stores, so I always use cornstarch. I almost always fill these with the Costco three-berry mix, though I have tried cream cheese (didn't like it) and Nutella (good but heavy). I think my cooking friend uses homemade jam.

Moo's Eats

I don't love cooking, but I love eating yummy food. We have a friend who is an amazing cook - if her house were a restaurant, it would be my favorite. Awhile ago I realized that she probably doesn't have success with everything she tries, but since she tries so many recipes she's able to make several things that are really really good. So I decided to try more recipes - so that I would know how to make things I love to eat, and so that my daughter (Moo) would grow up being exposed to a lot of different foods.

I'm calling this blog Moo's Eats - most of what I make she doesn't eat (yet...I'm pretty sure that one day she's going to figure out what she's missing), but I'm making it with and for her (and the rest of our family).