Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gimme S'more Grahams!

Homemade grahams and fixin's for next level s'mores
I've been reading about homemade graham crackers for quite some time. The thing is I haven't made a habit of eating graham crackers just to eat them - I usually only eat them with s'mores and unfortunately I only eat s'mores when I'm camping. Sadly, no camping trips have been planned for this summer - you can see the dilemma. However, as fate would have it, the lovely Martha Stewart featured s'mores on the cover of her July 2012 magazine reminding me that July 4th was right around the corner. Just like that, a s'more festivus was created! Even better, the s'mores recipe featured homemade grahams with patriotic star cutouts. Oh how I love Martha - and Independence Day - and grahams - and s'mores. I altered her recipe a tad (this is an actual measurement) as my dough was too crumbly to roll out.  A little half & half did the trick. After several rounds of chilling in the fridge, cutting squares & stars and baking tray after tray - I can report these grahams were VERY tasty and not at all healthy in case you were wondering. I may start making them just to make them and not wait around for s'more season!

Graham Crackers
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living 2012


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  •  As Needed - 1 1/2 teaspoon half & half (adjust as needed to make a workable dough)


  1. Whisk together flours, wheat germ, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  2. Beat together butter, sugar, and honey with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; beat until combined.
  3. Turn out dough onto a floured surface, and divide in half. Roll out each dough half to 1/8-inch thickness, and refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes. (If you find you can't roll out the dough, work in the half & half as needed). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut out squares with a 3-inch fluted square cutter if you have it - or just eyeball it. Cut a star out of the center of half the cookies using a 1 1/2-inch star cutter or get creative with any shape. Reroll scraps once, and repeat. 

    My stars weren't perfect - but I didn't hear any complaints!

  5. Place squares 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets, keeping cookies with cutouts together. Refrigerate until very firm, about 15 minutes.
  6. Bake cookies until dark brown, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating halfway through (star cookies take about 1 minute less). Let cool on sheets 10 minutes. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days.
Graham crackers, sparklers and my little brother devouring a s'more - I think he fell in love.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What the Kale!?!

It seems as though there is a kale craze running rampant. I'm happy to report I have been on the bandwagon for months now! Not only is kale delicious it is also nutritious - a perfect item for a blog devoted to tasty healthy things. I have two favorite recipes for kale: Kale Chips and Kale with Cannellini Beans and Bacon. The first is simple - the second is not. Today, we are going with simple. Let me start by setting your expectations at a reasonable level. Kale chips are in no way like a potato chip. Please don't be fooled by the many kale enthusiasts desperate for you to try kale chips with attempts at luring you in with false claims comparing kale to a potato. Yes, they are light crunchy seasoned bits of goodness but they do not have the taste or texture of a potato chip. I repeat: not a potato chip.

Now that expectations are set - on to the easiest recipe you will ever find! I make kale chips at least once a week...sometimes twice a week. Every time both cookie sheets of kale chips are gone within an hour (I have an abundance of snackers in my house). It is important to note the type of kale used - the curly kale  found in most grocery stores works much better than Lacinato "Dinosaur" kale often found at local farmers markets - I have a sweet cousin that can attest to this.

Kale Chips
Adapted from several sites

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
**If you want a little kick add a dash of Cayenne Pepper, Garlic Salt or Paprika depending on your preference

Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and dry kale. Remove center ribs and stems. Cut or tear into pieces. Toss with olive oil in a bowl then sprinkle with salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on two baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Voila! Serve immediately...or not. They are great either way!

Some photos for reference:

Before (top) and After (bottom)
Mmmmm crispy goodness!

The final product

Monday, January 9, 2012

Beef Stew with Beer & Faux Cheesecake

Let me start with saying - it was 75 degrees this weekend in Arizona and there was absolutely no reason for me to make such a hearty meal. However, I was given the most lovely Le Creuset gift for Christmas and I couldn't wait to use it! I had stew on the mind and scoured my cookbooks for a beef stew with broth that didn't take 8 hours to make. Nothing jumped out at me, so I turned to The Pioneer Woman for inspiration, her recipes are usually right-on target.  I quickly found Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika - woot! It was really easy to throw together and the result: AMAZING! Hands down the best stew I have ever made. If you prefer step-by-step instruction she does a great job of breaking it down here.

Beef Stew with Beer and Paprika

(as adapted from The Pioneer Woman)


  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 2 pounds Stew Meat
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 12oz can Beer, nothing fancy, I used Bud Light
  • 4 cups Beef Stock (or 4 Cups Water + 4 Beef Bouillon Cubes)
  • 2 cups Water (additional, If Needed)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • ½ teaspoons Paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • Black Pepper (to taste)
  • 1-½ teaspoon Sugar
  • 4 whole Carrots, Washed, Unpeeled, And Roughly Sliced
  • 4 whole Potatoes, Quartered

Prep Instructions

Heat oil and butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown meat in two batches, setting aside on a plate when brown, allow to cool slightly, then cut pieces in half.

Add diced onions to the pot. Stir and cook about three minutes until softened, then add garlic for another minute. Pour in beer and beef stock, then add Worcestershire, tomato paste, paprika, salt, pepper, and sugar. Add beef back into the pot. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Add carrots and potatoes, then cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes. (If stew gets dry, just add a cup of hot water at a time to replenish the liquid.)

Serve with rolls or french bread and enjoy!
Next Up: Faux Cheesecake a.k.a. Janky Stawberry Cream Cheese Pretzel Mess
This is what it looks like:

Don't let the looks deceive you, it is actually really good. It's also REALLY easy to make. Some people call it a Stawberry Pretzel Salad...but I don't agree. Salads should be served in a bowl. This is served in a baking dish...which means you bake it (well, you bake part of it) - so...definately not a salad. Who came up with that?

  • 2 cups pretzels, crushed
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar                    
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 (8 ounce) CoolWhip, thawed
  • 1 (6 ounce) package strawberry Jell-o
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen strawberries


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Stir together crushed pretzels, melted butter and 3 tablespoons sugar; mix well and press mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a large mixing bowl cream together cream cheese and 1 cup sugar. Fold in CoolWhip. Spread mixture onto cooled crust. Make sure it is touching all sides of the dish so the Jell-o on top does not drip down to the pretzel crust.               
  5. Dissolve Jell-o in boiling water. Stir in frozen strawberries and allow to set briefly. When mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour and spread over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate until set.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Flour --- In a cloth bag!!

Last week I was running low on my all-purpose flour, which actually makes me happy because I LOVE to shop for baking supplies. I ventured out to the grocery trying to convince myself why it is necessary to spend extra on King Arthur (it is sooo much better, that's why). I made it to the flour section of my beloved baking isle and couldn't believe what I was seeing:
Imagine the sound of angels singing a beautiful harmony.
Flour! In a cloth bag!?! "Flour in a cloth bag" I said to myself and then giggled - aloud - in public. I didn't know such a thing was still in production. Well it is true - and I would have bought the whole lot for fear this was some sort of fluke. It was priced right too, $3.99 for the 5lb bag (less than my favorite King Arthur). Needless to say, I was beyond excited. So I will give the cloth bag of flour a try and see how it works out. In the meantime, I would like to thank Cortez Milling for producing such a perfectly packaged product and bringing excitement to my day. Now, if only I could get milk in glass bottles life would be complete...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Auntie M's Tater Salad

By no stretch of the imagination can this delicious potato salad be considered "healthy". I'd like to think that it can be healthy...but the closest I can get is that it is a healthy portion of nostalgia. I suppose it is only nostalgic to me, so you are on your own in justifying any health benefit. HOWEVER, if you are looking for something tasty you have hit the jackpot.

A big bowl of deliciousness.

 My Aunt Mel has been making this potato salad since I can remember - she makes it better than anyone. It could win a blue ribbon at the state fair if they had such a contest. It reminds me of summer, it reminds me of home, it reminds of when I was 7 and begged her to omit the onions (and because she loved me she would make a smaller bowl, onion free). On occasion, when I am feeling homesick, I get some taters boiling and try my best to replicate Mels recipe.

I would be happy to share this recipe with you if I could but I suppose there isn't really a recipe at all. This potato salad is made by combining ingredients in no measurable amount. It depends on the size and texture of the potatoes...when it looks right, it is done. I can provide an ingredients list should you want to give it a go: Mayo, taters, Mayo, pickles, Mayo, eggs, Mayo, mustard, vinegar and seasonings (salt, pepper, paprika). Did I mention Mayo? I've watched her use a whole jar before. Not kidding.

Happy Eating!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

Back in 2007 I pulled a recipe out of my Cooking Light magazine for Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze. It looked divine and I was sure I would make it for a summer treat, perhaps to take on a camping trip! Sadly this was not the case - 4 years later and an invitation to a girls day of crafting I pulled the recipe from deep in my memory bank, alas, it was time to give this banana bread recipe a whirl. Thanks to my binder-o-magazine recipes (complete with plastic page protectors) I was able to find the recipe in mint condition (it can also be found on the information super highway here).

I am a banana bread fanatic, always looking for the perfect recipe. I usually bake quick breads in the fall and winter but this recipe called for coconut and lime so I felt it was suited for summer baking. I made two smaller loaves, as opposed to the 9x5 loaf it recommended in the recipe. The banana bread turned out very well, slightly crumbly, crispy coconut on top and a nice hint of lime in the glaze. If you are in the mood for summer baking, give this one a try!

My two smaller loaves, one to keep, one to give away!

Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, yogurt, rum, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist. Stir in 1/2 cup coconut. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring with a whisk; drizzle over warm bread. Cool completely on wire rack.

The professional photo from Cooking Light

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cherry Amaretto Drop Cookies

Several weeks ago I invented a new recipe: Cherry Amaretto Drop Cookies. I can't take full credit for inventing the recipe per-se, rather I simply reconstructed an old recipe for Polka Dot Cookies (PDC) my mom and I make at Christmas. As far as I know, she and I may be the only people that like the PDC's, but nevertheless, we keep making them (and eating them). The PDC recipe calls for red and green maraschino cherries, walnuts and chocolate chips -- pretty fancy. However, with cherry season in full swing I decided to give the PDC recipe a classy little makeover. 

It all started by soaking some beautiful bing cherries in Amaretto <<Drool >>.  The end result was fab! I added chocolate chips to the last dozen for some variety. These tasty cookies have a cake or biscuit texture, they are not overly sweet. I recommend them to anyone looking to make good use of summer sweet cherries!

Cherry Amaretto Drop Cookies

1 C. Margarine
1/2 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
2 Eggs slightly beaten
2 tsp. Vanilla
4 C. Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 C. Milk
1 C. Bing Cherries, halved
1/3 C. Amaretto

Combine cherries and amaretto in bowl, soak overnight. Mix dry ingredients in medium bowl. Mix liquids, except milk, in large bowl. Add dry ingredients to liquids alternating with addition of the milk.

Drain cherries of excess liquid. Fold into cookie dough.

Drop big teaspoons of batter onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees.