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

INGREDIENTS

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.

DIRECTIONS

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. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Another website update. And...I baked!

Sunset on Old Mission Peninsula

So I completely revamped my website again. Now I am really happy with it. It's much different than the layout I had before. It's flash-based so now it's...flashy! Get it? Flashy?! I crack myself up.

I also baked my blueberry pie recipe last week with fresh-picked blueberries from Michigan. Turned out delicious. I spent a few days in Northern Michigan on Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsula. The weather was warm, sunny, and perfect. The weekend I was there was the first weekend for cherry picking. Talk about cherry heaven! I picked a lot of cherries but I ate them all before they even had a chance to be baked in something. I did buy some dried cherries so I'll be making some oatmeal-cherry cookies soon. YUM.

And to anyone who is still reading this blog...I hope you're having a great summer!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Baking Hiatus, New Photo Projects, Daguerreotypes, & Other Ramblings



I have not been baking.  I think since January I’ve baked a carrot cake and lime bars. That’s it. I cannot believe that’s it! I’ve been focusing on my photography which has been rather time-consuming and has put baking on the back burner. 

I’ve spent quite a bit of time putting my photography website together. It’s finally in a place that feels good to me. Most of my photography has focused on nature. Flowers, animals, landscapes, etc. In recent months I’ve become somewhat obsessed with a new project focusing on old photographs of people. I explain it in my Forgotten Lives gallery on my site if you’re interested in reading more. The photo above is one example. 

With this project in mind, I felt it necessary to go back to the very start; the beginning of photography. The search of course has lead me to the daguerreotype. I’m becoming truly fascinated with this process and the daguerreotypes themselves. So completely different than our modern point and click digital age. I hope to start collecting these someday. I’ll probably need to work 5 jobs to afford that as they are highly sought-after and expensive. Argh!

I just realized in writing this post that I haven’t posted anything in 6 months. I think that’s the longest time I’ve gone without posting. 

Must. Post. More! And bake…

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.


INGREDIENTS

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 *

DIRECTIONS

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


INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

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

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

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.

YUM.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter Wonderland

Oh look...it snowed in Chicago! We haven't had much snow in the past year so I wanted to take advantage and get some shots. I took a walk before work and got some near the lake. I froze my fingers off but it was totally worth it.

I hope everyone's holidays are going well. I will be posting some recipes from my Christmas cooking in the upcoming week.





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.  


INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS

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. 

 Deeeeeeeeeelicious!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Unedited Sky - Part 1

I took this photo the other evening, post-sunset. I love my rooftop view looking west. There are no tall buildings to obstruct my view. Mother nature is truly amazing in all her colorful glory.


I took this next one a couple of weeks ago. Also unedited. Look at that sky! The depth and darkness are incredible.


I'll be spending a lot of time on my rooftop taking photos. Stay-tuned for more unedited goodness.

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.