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Wednesday
Dec312014

2014: A Year in Review

New Year’s Eve is finally here. It’s crazy how fast time flies. Joel and I were talking the other day and he mentioned that nothing really happened this year. I’m not so sure I agreed, so In the spirit of the season, I decided to take a moment to reflect upon 2014. This spring, Joel surprised me with a trip to NYC for my birthday, which ended up being a food-lover’s dream! While we ate at many amazing places, it was that weekend when I first tried Shake Shack, and while we aren’t really fast food people, I’m so glad there isn’t one near us because it could be potentially dangerous! We also traveled to Nantucket for the first time this summer. What a beautiful little island. I could go back every summer and never get sick of it! That trip ended in Boston for my cousin’s wedding. What an amazing trip it was! Later in the summer, we visited Philadelphia with friends. That weekend was so memorable for us. We ate one of the most delicious meals of my life at Zahav, we finally saw one of my favorite artists in concert, and our friends got engaged! We attended their wedding in December and it was absolutely beautiful! This past year also brought many babies. All within a few weeks of each other, Joel’s sister and her husband welcomed their second son, Lucas, my best friend and her husband welcomed their first child, and my goddaughter, Charlotte, and my brother and his wife welcomed their third daughter, Magda. This past October, our little family grew too; we got a dog! We had been talking about it for a while, but just assumed that it would only be fair to get one in the summer when I was home from work, so that it could get used to being at our house and learn to be potty trained. We lucked out. On Columbus day, I took a random trip to the SPCA to fill out an application so we were on the list for when the perfect dog showed up. Little did I know that the perfect dog was already in the back waiting for me. I walked back to take a peek and found a 1 year old black lab named Willow curled up in her pen. I spent an hour outside playing with her, put her on hold so that Joel could meet her when he came home from work, and went back about 15 minutes later with Joel to spend another hour outside with her. It broke our hearts to make her spend another night in her pen, but two days later, she was home with us. She was already potty trained and she really is a great dog! All in all, 2014 really was a great year for us, our families, and our friends! I can only hope that 2015 is just as good to all of us, and to you as well! I wish you and your family a happy and healthy new year! 

While I didn’t post as much as I would have liked to this year, there were most definitely some recipes that stood out in our minds as favorites. So, as I do each year, I’d like to reflect on the food we’ve had throughout the year and share those favorites with you. What were your favorites?  

January: 15-Minute Wonton Soup. What a delicious and simple recipe. This soup has warmed us up time and time again!

Wonton soup

 

February: Peanut Butter Pie. A birthday request from my brother, this pie married his top two birthday flavor requests of peanut butter and Oreo! 

Peanut butter pie

 

March: Sriracha Turkey Meatballs. I’ve mentioned that we don’t repeat many recipes around here. This one has been made at least a half dozen times, which should say something about how delicious it is! 

Sriracha turkey meatballs

 

April: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad. Once I learned how to properly cook it, quinoa has become one of my favorite grains. This salad is as delicious as it is easy to put together.  

Quinoa Salad

 

May: Homemade Shake Shack Burgers. After our trip to NYC, Joel had to go find a recipe to make Shake Shack at home. These burgers are delicious, and that sauce is to die for! 

Shake Shack Burgers

 

June: S’mores Scones. A bite sized taste of summer, made for my cousin’s bridal shower. These were a hit!  

Smores Scones

 

July: No-Knead Cinnamon Buns. A great way to start off any day!

Cinnamon buns

 

August: Crispy Cauliflower Tacos with Mango Salsa. We took a risk with this one and it ended up being one of the most delicious surprises of the year!

Cauliflower tacos

 

September: Greek Cucumber Noodles. Zucchini make a great substitute for pasta in this salad.

Cucumber noodles


October: Stovetop Applesauce. After a day of apple picking, this was a great way to use up our bounty! 

Applesauce

 

November: Sour Cream Chocolate Bundt Cake. This was one of the most moist and delicious chocolate cakes I’ve ever eaten. 

Sour Cream Chocolate Bundt

 

December: Chocolate Pinwheels. I don’t know what part I like more, the swirls or the taste!  

Chocolate Pinwheels

Monday
Dec152014

Chocolate Pinwheels

Chocolate Pinwheels

For the third year in a row, I took part in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, hosted by Lindsay and Julie. I really enjoy trying new cookie recipes and sharing them with people. This year, those people were Lisa from Blogghetti, Sara from Confectionary Tales of a Bakeaholic, and Lynna from Hearts in my Oven. I hope you enjoyed these pinwheel cookies as much as I did, ladies! These cookies were relatively easy to make, and produced an impressive looking cookie in the end. I enjoyed the taste of these cookies as well, especially along with a cup of tea. One batch of these cookies made enough for me to send each of the ladies a dozen, plus left us with almost a dozen for ourselves, which didn’t last too long! I will most definitely be making them again!

1 cup + 2 tablespoons Butter, divided
1 cup Sugar
2 Egg Yolks
4 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
4 tablespoons Milk, divided
3 cups Flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
6 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

To make the chocolate swirl, start by melting 2 tablespoons of the butter in 2 tablespoons of milk in the microwave. Add the cocoa powder and mix well; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the remaining 1 cup of butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and remaining 2 tablespoons of milk, beating until well mixed. At low speed, gradually add the sifted dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the dough until it leaves the side of the bowl. Remove 3/4 of the dough and set aside. That portion will become the vanilla swirl. To the dough remaining in the bowl, add the chocolate mixture and beat until fully incorporated. This portion will become the chocolate dough. Form the two doughs into balls and slice each ball into two equal halves. On a sheet of wax paper, roll the vanilla dough out into a rectangle that is about 7 inches wide and 8 inches long. Repeat with the chocolate dough. Flop the rolled chocolate dough onto the vanilla dough and peel off the wax paper. Lightly press the surface with a rolling pin to adhere the chocolate and vanilla doughs. With the short end facing you, roll the dough into a tight log, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge. Repeat with the other half of the vanilla and chocolate doughs. After about 30 minutes in the fridge, take the logs out of the fridge and roll on the counter to retain the circular shape. Wrap tightly again in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about an hour (or store in a freezer-safe container and bake as needed). When ready to bake, thaw the cookie dough log slightly and slice 1/4-inch thick rounds with a sharp knife. Place the cookie slices on a parchment-paper lined sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Cool cookies on a cooling rack and store in an airtight container. 

SOURCE: Sugary Winzy

Monday
Dec152014

Wookie Cookies

Wookie cookies

Usually, the Secret Recipe Club takes a break in December for the holidays. But this year, we did a cookie swap instead! We were paired with other members from all four groups who opted in to this fun exchange. This month, I was assigned to Debbi Does Dinner Healthy, written by Debbi of course. Debbi is a group C SRC member who just as her blog title says, is determined to make healthy, low-calorie meals without compromising any taste. I chose to make these Wookie cookies, because how can you pass on a name like that?! They are like an amped up chocolate chip cookie, with two different types of chocolate, plus a dash of cinnamon to give it a whole new dimension of flavor. I loved these cookies! In fact, I only baked up a few, and the rest of the dough is in my freezer for whenever the urge strikes! While this month was all about cookies, I did take a peek around some other recipes on Debbi’s blog too. She has quite the arsenal of delicious sounding recipes, such as Summer Squash Casserole, Sweet and Spicy Chicken with Broccoli, and French Onion Risotto! We may have had to make cookies this time, but I will most definitely be back to make some of your delicious recipes, Debbi! 

2 1/4 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 cup Butter, at room temperature
1 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside. In another bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the flour mixture until fully incorporated. Stir in both types of chocolate chips. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto a baking sheet about 1-inch apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Makes 3 dozen. 

SOURCE: Debbi Does Dinner Healthy

Monday
Nov242014

Sunburst Muffins

Sunburst muffins

Every month, I participate in a fun recipe swap event called the Secret Recipe Club. Each member is secretly assigned to another member’s blog, and they have the month to peruse the recipes and decide what to make. It is one of my favorite things about blogging. Each month, as soon as I get my assignment, I go through the entire blog that I am assigned to and put recipes that sound good into a folder for a second look. This month, my assigned blog was Feed Me Seymour, written by Kim. Kim’s life seems to be surrounded around food, and I’m pretty jealous! Not only does she write an amazing blog filled with so many delicious recipes, but her mom is a pastry chef, so she grew up around sweet treats, and she works as a food editor, which sounds like a perfect job for a person who loves food! When searching through Kim’s blog this month, I set aside about 20 recipes for a second look. I mean, with recipes like Arancini DiRiso, Caramel Apple Walnut Handpies, Homemade Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows, Pickled Watermelon Rinds, Tijuana Taxi Margarita….I wanted to make them all! In the end, however, I chose these sunburst muffins, if for nothing else, their name. You see, I live in Buffalo, and if you’ve seen the news lately, you know we’ve been getting hit hard with some crazy winter weather, so a little “sunburst” is exactly what we need right now! So, while the weather outside might be frightful, these muffins were absolutely delightful! Thanks for bringing a little sunburst into my otherwise snowy life, Kim! 

1 1/2 cups Old-fashioned Oats
1 cup Flour
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
8 ounces Greek Yogurt
2 Bananas, mashed
2 Egg Whites
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
Zest of 1 orange

Line a muffin tin with paper liners and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine the yogurt, banana, egg whites, oil, and half of the orange zest. Add the yogurt mixture to the oat mixture and stir until just combined. Pour the muffin mixture into the muffin tins about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Sprinkle the remaining orange zest on top of the muffins and serve. Makes 1 dozen muffins.

SOURCE: Feed Me Seymour

Sunday
Nov162014

Sour Cream Chocolate Bundt Cake

Sour Cream Chocolate Bundt

My college girlfriends and I like to get together every few months to catch up. While I am lucky enough to have a job where I work with one of them, we all don’t see each other as often as we would like. Life has a habit of getting in the way sometimes. But, we were able to carve out a little time last night to meet up at my friend Jessica’s house for dinner. She has 2 little kids and it was fun to see them running around and having a good time. Of course, my friend Jenelle brought her 4 month old baby too, who we enjoyed passing around between all of us. Jess made lasagna, and we all brought the rest of the food to make a full meal. I volunteered to bring dessert. Chocolate is a safe bet so I started searching for a cake to make. I found one on my friend Amy’s Pinterest board, which was perfect because I knew she’d be there craving something chocolatey. While this bundt cake had several steps to it, and took quite a while to bake (I killed the time by listening to the Serial podcast, which I am obsessed with), the results were outstanding! The cake took a little longer than planned to cook, so it came out of the oven just as I had to leave. I inverted the pan onto my travel carrier and the cake plopped right out. I whipped up the ganache, but waited to pour it until after I got to her house, so that it wouldn’t leak out of the carrier onto my car floor mats. After dinner, we cut into the cake, which was still slightly warm. We all loved it, especially Jessica’s husband, who said that most chocolate cakes he’s had have been dry and this one was the complete opposite. Must have been the sour cream! Anyway, next time I’m in need of a slightly fancier chocolate cake, I’ll turn to this recipe because it certainly is a winner!

For the Cake
1 cup Cocoa Powder, plus more for dusting the pan
7 1/2 ounces Semisweet Chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup Boiling Water
2 1/4 cups Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher Salt
20 tablespoons Butter, at room temperature (2 1/2 sticks)
2 1/2 cups Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
5 Eggs
4 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Sour Cream
1 1/2 cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a bundt cake pan and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess. In a large bowl, combine the cocoa powder and the chopped chocolate. Add the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth; set aside. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Reduce speed to low and add the brown sugar until blended. Increase the speed back to medium and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated, then add the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture a little at a time, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour. When the mixture is well blended and no lumps remain, slowly pour in the chocolate mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl when necessary. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, about 60-65 minutes (mine took almost 75). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool before inverting it onto a serving tray and removing the pan. 

For the Ganache
6 ounces Semisweet Chocolate, finely chopped (I used chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons Butter
1/2 cup Heavy Cream

Place the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a boil. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until the mixture is melted and smooth. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down he sides. Let the cake stand for about 15 minutes, until the ganache has set. *Ganache can be made ahead of time and reheated to regain a pourable consistency. I nuked it for about 20 seconds in the microwave. 

SOURCE: Lick The Bowl Good