Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Caramel Apple Crumble Bars

Happy first day of autumn! Here's a really great recipe that's perfect for this time of year. 

Caramel Apple Crumble Bars - Adapted from Annie's Eats


Apple Filling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces (see photo below)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Caramel Filling
11 ounces of caramel candies like the ones found here
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream


1. Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a 9x9 baking pan.

Note: For easier removal, butter and line the pan with parchment then butter the parchment.

2. In a large skillet melt the 2 tablespoons of butter. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract. Sauté for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside.
 My favorite vanilla extract

3.  In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugars, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir and combine. Add butter chunks, egg, and vanilla. Combine well using a pastry blender until mixture comes together and becomes crumbly.

4. Take two thirds of the dough and evenly press it down into the baking pan. Bake for 12 minutes.

5. While the base is baking, make the caramel filling. In a medium saucepan, combine unwrapped caramels and whipping cream. Melt over medium heat and stir frequently until combined and melted. Pour onto the base and spread evenly. Add the baked apple filling over the caramel and spread evenly. Add the remaining one third of the dough to the top, covering apples.

6. Bake on the middle rack for 25 minutes or until the top is a golden brown. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

When I was in Michigan I picked fresh cherries and bought some dried cherries for future baking and snacking. The dried cherries are perfect for oatmeal cookies. I swear, I could eat half a dozen of these at one time. They are so good.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Printable Recipe


4 ounces of butter, softened
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped.


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Mix until creamy.

3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir until combined. Add oats and chopped cherries and stir until evenly distributed.

4. Scoop dough out and place about 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets.*

5. Chill cookies in the fridge for about an hour before baking. This will cause them to be a little bit thicker.

6. Bake on the middle rack for 14-16 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown and the center looks a little under cooked. Let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool.

*I like my cookies on the larger side so I got about 12 cookies out of this recipe. You can make smaller ones and get about 2 dozen from this recipe. If you do that, shorten the baking time by 3-5 minutes. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kale Soup

More soup! 'Tis the season for warm bowls of delicious and nutritious soup to get us through the cold winter months. I liked this soup better than the leek soup I made recently. All the garlic and onion gave it a bit of a punch. Good for the clearing of sinuses.


Extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1/2 large yellow onion
1 shallot
3 small russet potatoes, unpeeled and diced
4 cups (1 quart) vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk *
6 cups kale leaves, stems removed
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream for garnish *


1. In a food processor, chop garlic, onion, and shallots. Lightly coat the bottom of a large soup pot with olive oil. Sauté garlic, onions, shallots, and diced potatoes for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

2. Add vegetable stock, water, and milk. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer 20 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and soft. Add kale and stir. Cook for 3 minutes.   

3. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Return soup to soup pot and keep warm on low heat until ready to serve. Garnish with sour cream. 

*To make this a vegan dish, use almond milk instead of regular milk and omit sour cream

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Leek, Potato, and Parsnip Soup

In my last post I was urging you to make buttery, calorie-heavy biscuits. I'm now going to urge you to eat healthy! Yes. It is a new year and time to pack your body with nutritious foods. I know, I know...this blog is a nutritional roller coaster...sigh.

This recipe comes from my new favorite chef/nutritionist/cook/teacher: Christina Pirello. I watched her show for hours this past weekend. I couldn't get enough. She has a lot of great recipes, all vegan. I'm looking forward to trying more.   

I adapted this recipe to my liking. My version is not vegan because I used regular milk. But you can follow the original and use almond milk.

Printable Recipe


Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 leek, rinsed free of dirt/sand and diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Sea salt
1 large parsnip, unpeeled and diced
2 large russet potatoes, unpeeled and diced
3 1/2 cups filtered water
1 1/2 cups milk *
1 1/2 cup miso broth
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
Parsley for garnish


1. Lightly coat the bottom of a large soup pot with olive oil. Sauté onions, leeks, and garlic for 3 minutes on medium heat. Add parsnips and a few pinches of salt. Sauté for 1 minute. Add potatoes and another pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes.

2. Add water, milk, and miso broth. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 35 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Add ground pepper.

3. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Return soup to soup pot and keep warm on low heat until ready to serve. Garnish with parsley.

*To make this a vegan dish, use almond milk instead of regular milk

Friday, January 4, 2013

Garlic-Rosemary Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Happy 2013! I hope everyone had a lovely holiday season. Now I know it's time to shed those holiday pounds but before you do that, you might want to make these deelish biscuits. I've made these a few times (most recently for Christmas dinner) and they are always a hit.Garlic + Butter always = a good time.

Printable Recipe

Yields 8 biscuits


2 1/4  cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbs dried rosemary
6 tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup buttermilk
4 tbs melted butter


1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. in a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for buttermilk and melted butter. With a pastry blender, mix ingredients until the consistency is similar to cornmeal.

3. Pour buttermilk into the center of the mixture. Fold the buttermilk in until all ingredients are evenly combined.

4. Place parchment paper onto a large baking sheet. With a tablespoon, drop 8 mounds of dough (evenly-space) onto the baking sheet.

NOTE: Batter will be sticky.

5. Evenly pour melted butter over the biscuits. Bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Cookies, Holidays, and Photography Show!

Hello and happy holidays to anyone who still reads this blog. A lot going on lately so there hasn't been much baking this holiday season. Gasp. I did make a carrot cake a couple of weeks ago and this past week I had a taste for chocolate peppermint cookies (photo above). Instead of researching recipes I just combined a couple of my own and it worked out fairly well. I took my base cookie recipe from this and the icing recipe from this. I smashed up some of those yummy, soft peppermint candies and sprinkled them on top. They are sweet but deelish.

Christmas Eve and Christmas day will be packed full of cooking and baking and wine and turkey brining and foods and wine and good friends. AND WINE. So looking forward to it.

On a side note, I'm doing another photography show at Kitchen Sink. My work will be up until January 31st so if you're in the Andersonville area stop in and see.

Above two photos generously contributed by Roberto.  Happy holidays all!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gallery Show & Photography Sale

A lot going on these days. Deleting my Facebook and Twitter accounts back in June has given me more time to focus on things I want to do. Specifically focusing on creative outlets. I've always loved photography and have been taking and editing photos for years. An opportunity came about recently to be a part of the newly formed 8x8 Gallery. With limited time I managed to pull everything together and learned a lot in the process. There are things I would definitely do differently but I suppose that's all a part of the learning process.

Tonight is the opening night and I'm so excited. Looking forward to seeing old and new friends. And my apologies to my blogger friends. I will catch up with you soon!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Spinach Mushroom Feta Tomato Frittata

Say that three times fast! I know it's a rather wordy name but I felt like it was right and suited this dish. All those ingredients are prominent and deliciously delicious. So tah-dah. That's the name. To be quite honest, I really just threw this together with very little precise measuring. I think when it comes to frittatas, you can really use ingredients that fit your taste and lifestyle. If you like meat, put in meat. If you like only veggies, put in only veggies. Just use the base egge recipe and you'll be all set.  


6 large eggs
4 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley (you can use fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste

4 tablespoons butter
1 shallot - diced
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms - washed and sliced
6 ounces spinach - chopped
1/4 cup feta cheese
12-20 cherry tomatoes cut in half


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, crushed red pepper, parsley, and salt & pepper. Set aside.

3. In a medium-sized cast iron skillet (or oven-safe skillet), melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook down to your preference. Add spinach and sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Turn off heat and evenly spread the ingredients in your skillet.

4. Pour egg mixture over all the ingredients. There is no need to stir. Evenly sprinkle feta cheese on top. Evenly place cherry tomatoes on top with the round side up.

5. Bake for 15 minutes.

6. Broil for 2-3 minutes (optional).

7. Cool for 5-10 minutes. Slice and serve. 


Thursday, August 30, 2012

How to Use a Zester

I suddenly feel it is my mission to show people how to properly use a zester. Seems simple but nooooo! I see so many chefs on TV using it incorrectly. It drives me rather insane so to rectify that and make myself feel better I am providing a simple “How-To”. Please people. Use your zester to its full potential!

Example 1

This next photo is NOT how you should use your zester: 

Zester on bottom, lime on top is a big fat NO. 

Example 2

Okay, this isn't the best photo but I think you'll get the point. There are different types of zesters but most have these curved sides:

Those curved sides are there for a reason. Yes, it's true! 

Example 3

You want those little curved sides to face up with item to-be-zested underneath:  

Making sense, right?

Example 4

When your zested item is on the top of the zester (see photo 1) you cannot see how much zest you are actually taking off: 

Anything below that first, thin layer is bitter. So basically, the center part (where it is white) is bitter and you don't want to zest that deep. Again, with the lime on top of the zester, you can't tell when you hit that white part. AND you can't evenly zest what you are zesting. 

Wow, this post is so zesty.

Example 5

Look, when you can properly see what you are zesting, you can evenly zest! 

So even and not too deep. Let's celebrate.

Example 6

How glorious. Look, all that yummy zest is contained within the curves of the zester. You can easily scoop it out and measure for baking and cooking.

Any questions?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday Julia!

Today would have been Julia Child's 100th birthday. To celebrate, here is my girl Martha cooking with Julia:

Oh Julia, how you have changed the way we all cook!

Also, THIS still cracks me up.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery

'Tis the season for weekend getaways. If there is one thing Rob and I like to do it's get away from the city for a few days. Personally I'm happiest being amongst nature and fresh air.

We took a trip recently to Galena, Illinois. A historic town right along the Mississippi river. The city is super duper tourist-y but still a lot of fun. One of the highlights was our trip to Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery. Vineyard tours and wine tastings are always a good time. Wine time! Oh yeah. I was really impressed by their dry reds. I find that a lot of Midwest wineries have sweet reds. Yack. Not a fan but sweet wines are quite popular. They're just not for me I suppose.

After our wine tasting and tour and our sharing a bottle with some new friends (fun!), we took a walk around the property. I took the above photo just across the street from the winery. Cornfields as far as the eye can see. Although the corn crops in that area are suffering because of the drought and should have been much taller. Sad.

Picturesque puffy white clouds. I love when clouds look like cotton candy. I just want to pluck them out of the sky and eat them. Ahhhh, nature!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Peach and Blueberry Cobbler Fail

Okay, so I found a Martha Stewart recipe for a peach and blueberry cobbler that's made in a cast-iron skillet. It sounded deelish, looked deelish but was not 100% deelish. I think with some tweaking it could be better. It definitely needed more sugar and maybe more butter or some vanilla or something! Maybe more blueberries. There weren't quite enough. The original recipe called for apricots but I had peaches. Maybe it's better with apricots? Hmm, who knows! It looked good though....

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It's Blueberry Time, Again!

It's been a rough year for fruit in these here parts. We had a long string of 80 degree days back in March. The fruit trees prematurely bloomed and then a frost came in April and destroyed the early blooms. Each year I go blueberry picking in Michigan around the first two weeks of July. This year there were very few places doing U-pick because of the damage to the blueberry crops. The same goes for cherries, peaches, and apples. Not the apples! My favorite thing to do in autumn is to go apple picking. Huff huff. There has been a drought this summer as well. All of these factors are affecting farmers and their crops. Such a shame.

Even with the lack of U-picks for blueberries, I did manage to pick some a few weeks back. Last year I picked 10 pounds of blueberries. On the day I picked this year, it was in the upper 90s and humid. Horrendous temps for picking. I literally almost passed out in a giant pool of sweat. So Rob and I only got two and a half pounds. Such a disappointment since each pound was only a $1.70. Huff huff, again.

I am going to put them to good use though. Tonight I am going to make a peach and blueberry cobbler in a cast iron skillet. Stay tuned for the recipe.    

Friday, July 13, 2012

How Does My Garden Grow?

Very well, actually! One of the great things about our new place is our porch. Tons of sunlight and space which is conducive to successful growing of plants. But man, plants need water. A lot of water. Who knew? I sometimes dread, sometimes look forward to watering (it's a lot of back and forth filling up watering cans). But it feels good to know you are nurturing and sustaining life. And eating food from my garden is satisfying in a way that is different from store bought veggies. And the flowers! The flowers are so purdy. I can't wait to some day have a full garden. But for now, this is really great.

Here are some photos from the garden with captions explaining. Our tomato plants are close to taking over the porch. If they get any bigger I may just put them to work. I think they'd be capable of filling up watering cans...

This is 1 of 3 humungous tomato plants

Yummy tomatoes from said humungous tomato plant

Love the hibiscus flowers

Lots of basil! I see pesto in my future.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Natalie Merchant & Random Ramblings

I saw Natalie this past Tuesday. I can’t quite articulate how I feel right now. I become strangely emotional after I see her. I don’t really understand why. Maybe it’s the connection I feel to her/her music? The fact that such anticipated moments come and go so quickly, which feels unfair? I don’t really know.

Now don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing show. Probably one of my favorite Natalie shows. She played with a full orchestra and she sounded better than ever. I kept track of the set list because as time goes by I usually forget it.  

The Land Of Nod/Nursery Rhyme Of Innocence And Experience/Life Is Sweet/Equestrienne/Beloved Wife/Gold Rush Brides/She Devil/Maggie And Millie And Molly And May/Butterfly (a new song)/Verdi Cries/Spring And Fall: To A Young Child/Henry Darger/This House Is On Fire


The Man In The Wilderness/The Sleepy Giant/The Letter/The Worst Thing/Wonder/Break Your Heart/Carnival/These Are Days/Kind & Generous

Butterfly, which is a new song, was great. And she covered a lot from Leave Your Sleep. And of course, ended with the songs that most people know and love. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wonder, Kind & Generous, etc but man, when she plays those the crowd goes nuts. It makes me wonder (no pun) if people really know her catalog. She has so much incredible music that deserves to be heard.

Anyway, I feel like I have more to say but I’ll say it another time or maybe update this post again.

On a completely unrelated note, I deleted my Facebook account. I also deleted my Twitter and Google+ accounts. I’ve been wanting to do that for a while. It feels very freeing. I’m going to focus more on my blog and real human connections not related to social media.


The man in the wilderness asked me to tell
All the sands in the sea and I counted them well.
He said he with a grin, "And not one more?"
I answered him, "Now you go make sure." 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Blueberry Bars...Nom Nom

Finally! I have used the last of the blueberries I picked last July after my trip to Saugatuck.I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and adapted it to my taste. These are deelish with a cup of coffee. Personally, I think they are better the day after you bake them. So make them one day before you intend to nom them.

Printable Recipe


1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
The zest of 1 lemon
1 cup unsalted butter - cold and cut into small chunks
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


The juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups of fresh blueberries

NOTE: If using frozen blueberries, allow them to thaw prior to making this.


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease (or line with parchment paper) a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the white sugar, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Add the cold butter chunks, egg, and vanilla extract. Use a pastry blender (or two forks) and mix dough. It should be well-combined and crumbly.

3. Take half the dough and evenly pat into the bottom of the greased pan.

4. In another bowl, mix together the lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Pour blueberries in and mix.
5. Pour blueberry mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Take the remaining dough and evenly crumble it over the blueberries.

 Ready for the oven...nom nom

6. Bake 45-55 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature before you cut.

On a totally different subject...I received the coolest card from my friend Corene that I just had to share! She made it herself and personalized it with my favorite quote from the Tori Amos song, A Sorta Fairytale. Thank you Corene! <3