Sunday, December 1, 2013

If you need a sexy Christmas gift...

I'm making truffles again this year! They are the sexiest gift you can give a loved one. They also make mother-in-laws very happy. Here's the deal on what I'm offering this year.

Three flavors:

  • Goat Cheese and Black Pepper
  • Rosemary Citrus
  • Irish Creme

Hooked yet? You should be, these things are like a party in your mouth. Lovingly handcrafted by me, packaged by my helpers Hank and Wrigley. That's a lie, my gentleman friend usually packages them, he's much neater than I am. He's also my taste-tester. 

The details: email me your wants. I can only ship the Irish Creme and the Rosemary Citrus. I know, I know. The Goat Cheese truffles are the bomb. Sadly, you have to live in the 406 to enjoy them. I take cash (locally only!), credit cards or you can go old school and mail me a check. Truffles are going to cost you $12 for a half dozen or $22 for a dozen. Shipping is $5.95 and I will ship anywhere in the lower 48. 

Here's the catch, dear readers... You only have until December 7th to get your orders in! For serious. So get it in early! Please send me an email at to place your order. We can work out the details from there. 

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus... whatever holiday you choose to celebrate, I hope it's lovely. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I'm not dead. I've just been eating bacon.

Fittingly, my first post back involves bacon. You know you wouldn't have it any other way. These cookies are great to take to a party, great to eat standing up over the counter(but not right out of the oven), and they also freeze well. They're also great if you have been asked to bring something for the cookie table at a Pittsburghian wedding. What's a cookie table you ask? It's this crazy, awesome tradition where a bunch of people (family usually) bring a ton of different kinds of cookies to a wedding and they get put on the cookie table. And then you eat them.

These gems, they have peanut butter. They have bacon. They have all kinds of awesome. I came across the recipe for these in the Joy the Baker cookbook, she also has a website here, which is equally rad to browse. Hers is the kind of cookbook I just read because it's full of delicious goodness. Aptly titled, "peanut butter bacon cookies".

And so we begin...

8 slices bacon
1 c all-natural peanut butter
1.5 c granulated sugar
2 tsp molasses (I've used maple syrup too)
1 large egg
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
.5 c coarsely chopped roasted, salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350. Bake bacon off in oven. Just line a baking sheet with foil, or if you have a cookie cooling rack, put that over the baking sheet and lay the bacon on it. The bacon should be done in 12-15 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to cool. Coarsely chop when it is cool enough to handle.

Line a clean cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixed (paddle attachment), cream together the peanut butter, 1 cup of the sugar and the molasses until combined, about three minutes. Add egg, baking soda and nutmeg and mix on medium for another two minutes.

Remove paddle attachment and use a wooden spoon to fold in bacon and peanuts. Roll dough into large walnut-sized balls and roll in the remaining sugar. Place on cookie sheet and use a fork to make the classic peanut butter cookie pattern. If the dough is crumbly, just press together with your fingers.

Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on the baking sheet for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to completely cool. Don't get too excited here and just start eating - the cookies will crumble in your hands!!! Let them cool. Please.

When they've cooled, put 'em an airtight container and they'll last up to five days. To be honest, they have lasted longer than two days in my house. This recipe should make two dozen cookies.

We've eaten them too quickly every stinkin' time and I always forget to take a finished photo. You'll just have to trust me on this one. You know I'd never steer you wrong when bacon is involved. That's just mean.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Grammie does know best, sometimes.

The original recipe.
I was craving something sweet a few weeks ago, which is rare and I was sick so I didn't want to leave the house to get ingredients. Sadly, I had no eggs and very little sugar so my options were limited. I was also missing my Grammie who lives in Jersey. I haven't seen her in over a year and she's not doing so well health-wise. So naturally, I opted to make her no-bake cookies. She used to send me a care package a couple times a year in college full of these, might I add a couple more care packages a year then my mother ever sent me. Jeanne always had time to send my friends strawberry bread, but I guess my packages were just lost in the mail. And Jeanne still sends my college friends strawberry bread, twelve years later. But I digress... cookies.

Step one. Cut a hole in the box. Oh wait. Wrong thing.
These are pretty straightforward. I made a few alterations because of the lack of ingredients in my kitchen, but they stilled turned out super-delicious. The picture shows Grammie's original recipe. Here's what I did differently: Subbed butter for margarine (homie doesn't do margarine), used a hodgepodge of sugar in the raw and brown sugar to make the 2 cups sugar (I don't recommend this, mine turned out a bit soft), subbed coconut milk for evaporated milk, changing the equivalent (I just googled the substitute and google (so smart!) told me how much to use).

So basically you measure into a medium-sized pot the cocoa, butter/margarine, sugar and milk of your choice and bring it to a boil for one minute. Add the remaining ingredients - crunchy peanut butter, oats and vanilla. Stir until it loses its shine and then drop onto wax paper by the tablespoon. Let 'em cool for at least ten minutes and dig in. Then go call your grandma and tell her you love her. Send her some cookies.

No bakes. A little runny, a lot delicious.
I remember my Grammie trying to teach me so much more in the kitchen when I was kid, but 12 year-old me was such a feminist that she wanted nothing to do with the kitchen. Although it was pretty cool that I learned how to kill lobsters. Such a thrill. I got to stand on a chair and drop them into the water (so maybe I wanted to be the next Julia Child before I even knew it) I was the oldest grandchild, and the only girl so she expected me to help. I made it a point to loudly disagree and spew my limited knowledge of gender equality whenever I had the opportunity.

It's quite the paradox I find myself in these days. 34 year-old Marisa wants to kick 12 year-old Marisa's ass for not listening more, or wanting to be in the kitchen more, while 12 year-old Marisa would totally kick 34 year-old Marisa's ass for wanting to spend so much time in the kitchen, and willingly doing so. I just wish my Grammie lived closer and was cognisant enough to be with me in the kitchen so she could teach me a few more things. I'm finally ready to listen. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

I say tomato. You say tomato. We all say soup.

Tomatoes. So delicious. So versatile. I planted nine tomato plants this summer with grand visions of canning. Mother nature had other plans. It totally wasn't my gardening skills. Two plants didn't bear any fruit at all, one only gave me tomatoes with bottom rot, and two only gave me two or three tomatoes. So, not enough to can. I'll just try again next year.

Recently, my roommate came home with huge bag of perfectly ripe, gorgeous tomatoes from her grandmother's garden and told me to do something with them. I had no idea what to do with them so I've been avoiding them. So fast forward to this past Friday morning. I was moving out of my house, she was helping me load the car and managed to sneak the tomatoes into the front seat. So now, fast forward to Friday night. Furniture is in, bed is put together and I'm trying to figure out what to make for dinner with whatever we've got in the house because I was absolutely, not on your life, going back into town to go to the grocery store. I suggested tomato soup, the mister suggested grilled cheese and boom, dinner.

Now, I have never made tomato soup from scratch. I've thought about it, but that's as far as I get. So I just free-styled it, which should surprise no one. I took the tomatoes (I had 14 or so of various size), quartered them, put 'em on a foil-lined baking sheet, drizzled olive oil on them and added a bit of salt and pepper. Stuck them in the over at 375 for about 40 minutes until them were nice and roasty. I also stuck half a head of garlic in a foil packet in to roast. 

So after about thirty minutes, I headed back into the kitchen to start the soup. Chopped up half a large yellow onion, a shallot, half a red pepper, a rib of celery and sauteed them all in some olive oil and butter. After about five minutes, I added some fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano from the garden and let it cook for about another five minutes. Took the tomatoes out of the oven and let them rest for a few minutes while the other stuff cooked down. I then scraped the tomatoes and garlic off the baking sheets and added them to the soup pot, adding an extra 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes with basil for good measure. After that, I also poured in some chicken stock and because I ran short on that, a bit of beef stock. It was probably four cups total, but really I just poured it in until it covered all the yummy goodness in the pot. I then stirred it all together and left it to get even yummier for about twenty minutes.

Then it got tricky. This is where you must blend everything together. Ideally, an immersion blender is great, but really, how many of us have that in our kitchens? Not this girl. So instead, I got out the blender and a couple cups at a time, scooped out the chunks and blended them up, pouring them into another bowl until everything was out of the soup pot. Then it all got dumped back in together. It worked just fine, I just hate accumulating the extra two dishes to do in this process. I may be a bit OCD about trying to use as few dishes as possible when I cook. But I digress... Once the soup is back in the pot, add some sherry. I only had about 2 tbsp. left so that's all I added. I would have liked to put in about a third of a cup. This is also where I added some half and half to make it creamy. I added just about half a cup which gave it a little extra oomph, but didn't make it crazy creamy. While this cooked for about ten minutes, I got busy making the grilled cheese. 

While this soup is a bit time consuming, it's simple and delicious. It's also just what I needed after a long day of moving on a cold, snowy day. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dinner for one.

Recently, I had a rare night alone, the roommate and the mister were both at work. It was one of those stormy nights, where you really don't want to leave the house, but you really don't want to order pizza. Because, full-disclosure, I'd already had pizza two days in a row. What can I say, sometimes I like to pretend I'm still an undergrad.

On nights such as this, I really just like to turn the music up and cook, then curl up on the couch with the dogs and watch cheesy tv (thanks, CW!). So first I whipped out a batch of one of my favorite sweet treats, Dark Chocolate Bourbon Banana Bread.

During one of my many trips to the fridge, I left the door open longer than necessary, trying to come up with a comfort-food type solution to dinner. There was leftover penne noodles, cream, frozen peas, Redneck bacon (always!) and gorgonzola in the fridge. The universe was basically telling me to make a cream sauce. Even though I love cheese like it's going out of style, I'm not a big cream sauce kinda gal. I make a white sauce once every couple of years.

Did I use a recipe? Hell no. Did it still turn out delicious? Absolutely.

The base to any white sauce, or gravy for that matter, is a roux. Roux is basically a sauce base. It's equal parts flour and fat. Sometimes I use flour and bacon fat, most of the time I use flour and butter. It's easy, and what I usually have on hand. It's just a couple of tablespoons of each, for this recipe, I used 3 tbsp of each. You must, absolutely must, whisk your roux constantly so it doesn't burn. Whisk it for a few minutes, then slowly add half-and-half, heavy whipping cream, regular old milk, whatever you have on hand. Continue to whisk as you add your dairy. I probably used 3/4 of a cup for this. Once it's in, add chopped garlic (about 1 tbsp), salt and pepper to taste and continue to whisk. I also added about 1 tsp of crushed red pepper. You want to bring it to a slow boil so it reduces (thickens) to make a nice, creamy sauce. Once it had thickened (it took about five minutes), I add about a 1/2 cup of crumbled gorgonzola and continued to whisk until it was incorporated.

Allow me to backtrack for a moment, in the same pan I made the roux in, I cooked my bacon. I chopped it up into small pieces and sauteed it until brown, scooped it out and drained it on a paper towel. I added the butter and flour for the roux directly to the same pan (without washing it) for some added flavor.

So, once the sauce had thickened, I reheated the penne and frozen peas in the microwave for about a minute. I then dumped it all in with the sauce, and dumped the bacon back in as well. I mixed it all up with a nice, big wooden spoon and let it cook together for just a few minutes.

I then unceremoniously dumped it all onto a plate, added a few pieces of crusty Le Petite baguette to mop up the sauce, and inhaled every last bite.

Quite tasty, if I do say so myself. So the next time you have no idea what do make for dinner, just look in your fridge and something delicious, just might come to you.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I long to mix something.

I miss you, friends.
My things, my wonderful kitchen things have been boxed up and living in a friend's garage for the past two months. I've been living with my parents all summer until my renters move out of my house, and while my parents have a kick-ass kitchen (what up double oven!?), it's just not the same. I long to chop things. A list of things I miss...

  • my KitchenAid Mixer. This explains itself. 
  • ball jars.
  • stainless steel mixing bowls. 
  • cookbooks. How am I surviving the summer without Nigella?
  • my favorite coffee cup. 
  • my super-fly measuring cups from Anthropology that I sometimes eat out of.
  • bacon jam.
  • spices. all my dear, sweet, sexy spices.

There are more things I miss, mostly just cooking in general and having friends over to share a meal. I've been eating out more this summer than I ever have in my life. My gentleman friend is not a big cook and his kitchen reflects that. I tried making something at his place earlier this summer and there wasn't a bowl in the place. Or a wooden spoon. I had to mix the peanut noodle salad up in the noodle pot.

My dream kitchen and I will be reunited soon. I move back into my lovely little brick house in two weeks. My garden is flourishing, I'll be canning tomatoes and making pickles in a month or so. I'm sure my gas stove and garbage disposal have missed me too. It's been two years since I've been in my cozy little home and I am beyond excited to get back. In all reality, I'll stay up all night that very first night and unpack absolutely everything. I'll probably sit on the cold tile floor and caress a cookbook or two, and perhaps my favorite wooden spoon. It might get weird. 

Regardless of all the things I miss at the moment, I've also made some pretty rad things this summer just making do. Peanut butter bacon cookies anyone?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bananas. Bourbon. Bread. Oh, and chocolate.

When it comes to bananas, I can't eat them once they have brown spots. I don't know why, it's just a thing. So I try not to buy too many bananas at once to avoid a stockpile. When they do turn brown, I simply throw 'em in the freezer to use later. Usually for banana pancakes. This time, however, I switched it up. See, I just got this delightful, wonderful, stupendous cookbook last week and in it was this delightful, wonderful, stupendous recipe that I just had to try. What's this cookbook, you ask? It's Joy the Baker. My friend Aneta turned me on to her website a while back and since that day, it's the first place I check when I want to bake something. The website is here, and you can find her cookbook on Amazon. It will rock your socks off. And what is this recipe, you ask?

It's a Chocolate Bourbon-spiked Banana Bread. And it is rad.

Here's what you need

2 c all-purpose flour (I used whole-wheat)
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1 c sugar (I used sugar in the raw)
2 large eggs
3 mashed ripe bananas (about 1.5 c)
1 t lemon juice
3T bourbon (I used Pendleton b/c it's what I had)
1 c chopped walnuts (I omitted this b/c I didn't have any on hand)
1 c semisweet chocolate chips

Here's what you do

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8x4 or 9x5 loaf pan. Set aside out of reach of dog.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, beating for one minute between each. Stop mixer, scrape down sides and add the bananas, lemon juice and bourbon. Beat until all mixed together.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat until almost incorporated. Stop mixer, remove paddle, and remove bowl from stand. Add the walnuts and chocolate, fold in with a spatula.

Spoon mixture into loaf pan. Bake for 45 min to one hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow loaf to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with more bourbon or coffee. Or eat it standing up at the counter.

Who said I was dignified?