Thursday, October 25, 2012

Classic Beef Meatballs

The weekend before last, it finally felt fall-ish. It was chilly and gray, the NY Giants were winning, and I could smell fireplaces from other houses in our neighborhood. The kind of fall day that makes you want to cuddle up in a hoodie and watch a movie (if you want to be entertained, watch Game Change — Julianne Moore does a killer Sarah Palin!).

The thought of spaghetti and meatballs crept into my head. We never make pasta for dinner, but I found myself wanting some old-school Italian goodness. The husband was agreeable, although he says he eats "meatballs and spaghetti" rather than the other way around. Definitely a carnivore. Note that these are delicious (and very healthy!) with spaghetti squash too!

Anyway, this was the first time I made meatballs with just beef — I really wanted to go traditional. You can use a meat combo (e.g., pork, veal), but I wanted to stay simple. I started with a Martha Stewart recipe and adapted from there. Sadly I forgot to take a picture of our finished dishes, but here's a good "before" shot.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Panko-Crusted Salmon

If the idea of cooking salmon makes you nervous, wait! Don't touch that dial! Keep reading! You really should give this one a try. I love making salmon this might actually be my favorite way to prepare it. It's fast, easy, and so tasty. And don't forget healthy — that's important too!

I even taught Brad how to make this dish. Typically, I'm the cook of the family (though Brad mans the grill), but he nailed this one! Here's a dimly lit cell phone shot of him in action!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gooey Butter Cake

My blog seems to have turned into Dessert Central lately. While I didn't want to post yet another sweet treat, it just happens to be a special occasion — my husband and baby daddy's 33rd birthday.

And he's a special guy, so for his birthday I made one of his favorites — Gooey Butter Cake.

Brad is from Kansas and I'm from New Jersey, so we had to be very purposeful when deciding to pursue our relationship. And when he permanently moved to Philadelphia five years ago, I knew I was a lucky girl! We've since gotten married and had a beautiful baby girl. He's supported me in amazing ways over those years — most recently as my "labor and delivery support person" (at least that's what the hospital bracelet he had to wear called it). He was so great in the delivery room that the nurses and doctor asked him what birth classes we took (shhh, we didn't take any classes!). And I just love watching him with Katy — she lights up when she hears or sees her daddy!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Banana Bread with Cinnamon Swirl

We've had a lot of visitors over the past couple of months, as Baby Katy is a very popular gal! It's been nice to have an excuse to bake something have something sweet to snack on when they're here.

I came across the original recipe on Pinterest and was wooed by the sounds of a "cinnamon swirl." I made a few modifications to add some fiber and reduce the fat, but followed the basic premise of the original recipe. Feel free to ignore my modifications if you want full-on indulgence!

And you know how the best part of a muffin is the top? Where all of the flavorful, crunchy goodness lives? Well, thanks to the swirl of sweet cinnamon in the middle, you get a little bit of that "best bite" throughout the bread. That's in addition to the nice crust it creates on top, of course.

It's tasty from top to bottom!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Baby Girl Has Arrived!

Greetings, friends! It occurred to me that I have been absent from my blog for nearly the whole summer. You see, I was in the process of baby-making — and as it turns out, that's pretty taxing work!

While I had a mostly enjoyable pregnancy, I began having difficulties being on my feet in the kitchen for hours of cooking (sad!) and also using my laptop on my lap, which no longer existed starting sometime around mid-June. Thus, very little experimental cooking or blogging.

The end result of my hiatus? A beautiful baby girl named Kaitlyn Grace. She has been a true blessing, and we're so happy she's here! She was born August 4, 2012, just a day after my birthday.

Here she is in the hospital, one day old.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Strawberry Lemonade Bars

I haven't exactly been whooping it up this summer. I think it has a little something to do with the fact that I'm really pregnant and we've had several heat waves so far. But at least I can cook/eat like it's summer — and these treats are like summertime in a bar!

I do a lot of pursuing on Pinterest these days, and I came across this recipe there. Brad and I both really enjoyed it — it's light, refreshing, and so full of flavor. They're a snap to make, too, as long as you have a few lemons on hand. (And I highly recommend that you use fresh-squeezed lemon juice rather than store-bought. It'll make a huge difference in taste!)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rhubarb Snacking Cake

I've already mentioned that I love me some rhubarb. And there's no better time than now to get in on the action while it's still in season. This rhubarb snacking cake is a great way to feature the unique, tart flavor, and I dig it!

I looked up rhubarb on wikipedia to get the low down. I was very interested to read this: "Rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable; however, in the U.S., a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the U.S. as a fruit, it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. A side effect was a reduction on imported rhubarb tariffs, as tariffs were higher for vegetables than fruits." Sorry, was that nerdy of me to find interesting?

I saw this recipe in a post from Smitten Kitchen. It caught my eye because she talked about how she took Martha's recipe, cut the cake portion in half, upped the amount of rhubarb, and threw more crumb on top.

YES. This is my kind of a recipe.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Perfect Pulled Pork

These days, I'm all for making food on the weekend that will feed us during the week. It's just smart! It's also cost-effective, efficient, and gives us back time otherwise spent making dinner and cleaning it up. Pulled pork is a great for this purpose.

Here's the thing about pulled pork. It's completely low-maintenance. But yet it tastes like you spent hours caressing it, massaging it, and willing it to be tender.

Before trying this recipe, you should ask yourself a few questions:
  • Can you order a Boston/pork butt from your butcher? I'll be honest, it feels a little silly to say to a grown man, but it pays off. Note that while it's called "pork butt", it's really a shoulder cut of meat.
  • Can you mix spices and brown sugar together and rub them into the meat? 
  • Can you place the pork in a low temp oven and not touch it for 8 hours? 
  • Can you take a fork and shred the meat in a totally imperfect, and even haphazard, way?  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cherry Almond Granola

Having a stash of homemade granola in the pantry is a beautiful thing. First of all, it makes for a great snack, is perfect for mixing in with yogurt/fruit for breakfast, and is good enough to sprinkle on top of vanilla ice cream. (So far this is sounding a lot like my post about Rhubarb Strawberry Sauce.)

Secondly, it's so easy to make — can you stir and do you have 30 minutes? And finally, it keeps for weeks in an airtight container/ziploc bag, so there's no feeling harried to finish it off.

The beauty of granola is that, once you have the basic technique down, you can really experiment as much as you want with the ingredient list. Like cashews? Great! Throw them in or sub out one of the other ingredients. Want dried cranberries instead? Cool — make it happen! Just beware that if you add more ingredients (as opposed to substituting something out), you'll need to up your quantities of honey and oil to make sure everything has a nice coating while baking.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rhubarb Strawberry Sauce for Mom(s)

For some reason, pregnancy and blogging hasn't mixed for me. It may be because my baby bump precludes me from using my laptop comfortably on my lap. Or possibly because we've been trying to get so much done every weekend — we're definitely in the nesting stage!

We've painted the baby's room and our living room/kitchen, shopped for new baby furniture, registered, and I've been trying to make food to freeze so I'm not cooking dinner so much during the week. And at the end of any of these projects, all I've wanted to do is sit down with my feet up and veg.

I did, however, manage to make a few homemade gifts for Mother's Day.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Birds' Nests

Here in Philadelphia, we've had a week straight of clear blue skies, sunshine, and mid-60s — the kind of weather that's good for your soul and wakes your spirit up after the cold of winter. And the fig tree is blooming on the roof deck...a sure sign of warmer days ahead!

For Easter, I was on dessert duty. I had planned to make carrot cake cupcakes (recipe forthcoming), but I also wanted a little something else to add to my spread. I found a cute idea on Pinterest (I really heart Pinterest, by the way!) for these chocolate peanut butter birds'  nests. They are no-bake, quick, and super easy (they are also a great, edible craft to make with kids). And most importantly, they taste good!

Happy Easter and Passover to everyone! 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Shortbread Announcements

There are times in life when you have big news, but you just don't know exactly how to present it. At some point, I decided that the natural choice for our recent news was via cookie — shortbread to be exact.

And the news? My husband and I are expecting a baby girl August 1st! She'll be our first child, and we have the usual mix of emotions — mostly joy, excitement, and fascination. And maybe a dash of oh-my-god-but-will-she-come-with-instructions??-iness. Just a pinch. :)

I was finally able to try out a great birthday gift that I got last year — cookie cutters from Williams-Sonoma that give you the option to stamp messages into the dough (thanks Eve and George!). The cookie cutter was just large enough to fit the headline of our news story. How convenient!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Grandma's Rice Pudding

Today's post is a tribute to my grandma, Eleanor Mittermaier, who passed away last week after living a beautiful life for 91 years. In the About Me section of this blog, I mention that I was raised among cooks. Grandma Mitt(ermaier) was one of them. In fact, the photograph of me as a kid on that page was taken in her kitchen — she let me lick the beaters! It's no wonder I loved her.

Grandma Mitt had a legacy of her own, and she was special to so many. Among her many talents, she was known for was her ability to whip up a killer rice pudding.

Grandma's recipe and her fabulous retro tablecloth

It was a dish that could often be found in her refrigerator, and I can picture my grandpa enjoying it after a day at work and a home-cooked meal. My grandpa worked in the same building as my dad in the latter part of his life (Retirement? Not for old Joe!). Often, Grandma Mitt would send Grandpa to work with a fresh tray of rice pudding (and maybe a Tupperware of fruit salad that she threw together) to pass along to my dad. She took care of her sons long after they flew the coop!

This rice pudding is a simple, old-school, and delicious dessert. It's consistent and reliable, but surprisingly not too sweet or heavy. It's made on the stovetop, so even your oven gets a break with this one. And the ingredients are easy and cheap too.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Baked Berry Oatmeal

Breakfast is important! We all know that. You know what else is important? Not feeling like you're eating the same boring thing for breakfast all the time. And how about not feeling like you're having a carb fest to the tune of pancakes, bagels, waffles, or toast. That's important too.

You want protein? Check! Fruit? Check! Dairy? Check! A little fat (everyone needs a little fat!)? Check! And grains? Check, friends! It's a well-rounded breakfast delight that shouldn't send you into a carb coma an hour later.

I am in love with this recipe for baked berry oatmeal — something I found on Pinterest, my other new love. It's easy to throw together, and likely with items you already have in the pantry/freezer (assuming you have a bag of frozen berries lying around). I made mine with cranberries I had lingering in the freezer from the holiday season, but the original recipe called for raspberries. I think this is the kind of thing you can experiment with — I suspect any frozen berry will do!

Enjoy this item warm on the weekends or serve at a brunch. Or eat it leftover, as I did this morning at work, and enjoy it at room temp.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Homemade Pretzel Dogs

I have news. I am the proud new owner of a "real" camera, and I am amazed at the quality of the photos. And I don't even know how to use it yet! I'm really looking forward to the challenge of learning how to use it, and I'm acutely aware that I haven't even scratched the surface! So, there's that.

Then there is the whole homemade pretzel dog thing. I made these for Superbowl Sunday. Please know that I'm a lifelong fan of the NY Giants. And that having pretzel dogs as the fuel to get me through that nail-biter was perfection!

You take half a hot dog, sandwich it in homemade soft pretzel dough, and cook up a delicious and simple treat.

Just look at those delicious pigs in their cozy, pretzel blanket.

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