I’m a quitter (kind of)

Here’s the deal: I started this blog as a hobby to help me learn more about food, to improve my kitchen skills, and to have fun with photography and to fill time. While those goals have been pretty well accomplished, one key element is missing: fun. You guys, I don’t think blogging is fun.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to read blogs, and I do understand why and how someone would want to artfully craft a photo of caramel drizzling down a towering ice cream cone, or steam rising from the most perfectly shaped loaf of bread you’ve ever seen — but I’m not one of them.

My photography is more of a journalistic style, and I don’t have the time, energy, or, really, desire to hoard a stockpile of ramekins of every hue and spend time styling my food. I just spent all the time cooking it. I’ll be honest with you: I pretty much just want to eat it.

This is in no way meant to be dismissive of the hundreds (thousands?) of great food blogs out there — I love what they do, I’m just not doing it. I am happier reading and then venturing into the kitchen, and not spending hours crafting what I’m going to say about these particular cupcakes that hasn’t been said before by someone with more talent.

Also, there’s a kicker: I started graduate school (on top of a full time job). I have enjoyed it so far, but it’s sucking up a lot of my free time. And the free time I have left is time I want to spend with my husband and dogs and friends and family  or in the kitchen actually making something, instead of sitting in the dark manically trying to think of something to type into WordPress.

So, for the sake of a sense of accomplishment, I plan on updating this post with the rest of the new recipes I try for the year. I’ll link to the original recipe, post, or book that inspired me to get into the kitchen.
Thanks to my friend and family who have been reading along, cheering me on, and cooking with me.

Instagram Roundup

My overdue post from last week should be up soon (uh, hopefully?). Until then, enjoy my iPhone pictures.


My two favorite things are politics & ice cream so my evenings have been pretty great lately.


Dinner with my favs who make even hard times good times (we made this pasta! & then we had pie!)


I have been SUPER into this salad lately. With chicken for Senor and in a heaping bowl without salad for me. (pro-tip, the salad dressing recipe makes a crazy large amount)

Dear Pittsburgh People: if you haven’t hit up Smoke Taqueria you are missing out on life. FOR REAL. This watermelon auga fresca was outrageous & the rest of the food was so great I didn’t even bother to take a picture.

Goodies from The Sweet Lobby on a decent trip to DC.  I have been dreaming about the dark chocolate salted caramel cupcake ever since. I never had macarons before so I got to see what all the fuss was about. If I am feeling adventurous I might attempt them soon.


This is me trying to recapture the deliciousness of that cupcake with a salted caramel latte. It wasn’t AS good but nothing could be.


Jonathan made this happen on a Saturday night and I was very grateful. He also did a double batch of his famous spicy garlic buffalo sauce.

Jonathan is forever on my case about saving little bits of heavy cream or buttermilk or some other ingredient he doesn’t think I’ll use before it spoils. When he had buttermilk leftover from the boneless wings he made, I had to fight to keep it in the fridge by promising I’d make pancakes the next day. Because SOMEONE like to sleep in pretty late on the weekends, I had to take a photo to prove I had actually done it. Fun fact: i never made pancakes before, ever! Also fun fact: “buttermilk pancakes for one” might be one of the lamest things I’ve ever googled.


Delightful (if kinda dry) little cookies from my Greek food cook-a-thon with Emily. More on that later.


Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcake test batch for cupcakes I’m going to make for my friend’s bridal shower this weekend. More on that later, also.


Whipped egg whites are pretty


If you like chocolate as much as I do, you should make this cake for someone awesome’s birthday. Thanks for saving the day, Dorie Greenspan (as per usual)

(39) Potato & Pesto Pizza

You guys, I’m over a week late posting this recipe, and it’s not exactly rocket science, so I’m just going to skip straight to the point:

I made a pizza crust, and I slapped some potatoes on it. And it was delicious.

Make this. Eat the leftovers cold  and put sriracha on top. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.


  • 1 pizza crust
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced


  • Slap everything on a pizza crust. Save some pesto for on top.
  • Bake
  • Eat.
  • Seriously, it’s pizza.


(38) Tiramisu French Toast

You know what you should totally do? You should grab a couple of friends, whip up a bunch of delicious breakfast-y foods, and enjoy scarfing it all down in late morning September sunlight and crisp air with copious amounts of coffee. Have first, and then seconds, and then thirds. Sit around talking about politics for an hour. And then pour yourself another cup of coffee and watch Doctor Who.

You can thank me for this great idea later.

Our brunch menu today consisted of: apple sausage patties, ricotta & pesto pie, cheesy veggie hashbrowns, strawberries and blueberries and this tiramsiu French Toast. And coffee. Always coffee.


  • 1 loaf challah bread
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup  heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • butter
  • cocoa powder, for serving
  • maple syrup for serving
  • Sliced strawberries for serving


  1. In a large baking dish, whisk together eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of instant coffee powder, sugar, cinnamon and cream
  2. Slice bread into 8 thick slices. Soak each slice for about 30 second on each side
  3. Butter a griddle or skillet over medium heat, cook soaked break slices for 1-2 minutes on each side, until browned. Add more butter if needed.
  4. Mix together mascarpone cheese, honey, and remaining instant coffee in a separate bowl
  5. When the french toast is done cooking, top with the mascarpone cheese mixture. Dust with cocoa powder. Serve with maple syrup and strawberries.
  6. Drink another cup of coffee, duh

Recipe via one of my favs: How Sweet Eats

(37)Tofu & Veggie Gyoza

We eat stir-frys and other Asian-inspired meals quite  a bit around her. Stir frys and fried rice and noodle-y dishes are fabulous during the week because (a) you can throw all your fridge’s leftovers in a pan and have a delicious meal and (b) they are crazy fast and easy to make. When we have a little more time on the weekends, however, we like to really go for it and make more complicated dishes.

My husband Jonathan has long been the dumpling/gyoza/potsticker maven in the house, and we even bought a bamboo steamer to help facilitate these little cooking adventures. I am terrible at anything that requires precision when it comes to assembly, but I decided to give these a try, and we enjoyed cooking up a big batch while signing along to our favorite songs from high school this past Sunday.

I recommend this recipe for anyone who likes delicious things (duh), who enjoys cooking projects, and/or who wants to try cooking with tofu. I think this is great for a tofu-phobic person, because it shows how easy and versatile tofu is to work with, and you really don’t have to do anything fancy: just drain it, chop it up, and throw it into some wonton wrappers. I myself am no expert on tofu cookery and I think the results were fantastic.


  • 8 oz extra firm tofu
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 – 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilatnro
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 package wonton wrappers (30-40 wrappers)
  • water or egg whites to seal the wrappers


  • Drain tofu.  Press in a tofu press (or a couple of plates with cans stacked on top) for at least 30 minutes.
  • Cut tofu into tiny cubes. Mix together 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce, and 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar. Place tofu in a bowl with the marinade, stir to coat, and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, mix together shredded carrots, cabbage, ginger, minced garlic, cilantro, and the remaining sauce and spices. Mix in one beaten egg
  • Place about one tablespoon of filling in the middle of the wonton wrapper, and seal according to package directions (usually with an egg wash)
  • Steam gyoza for 10-12 minutes
  • They keep in the fridge for about a week (except not really, because you’ll eat them faster than that) or you can freeze them flat on a cookie sheet and then throw them in a freezer bag. Reheat by cooking them quickly in a pan with a little sesame oil.

Recipe adapted from Picky Cook

(36) Baked Pumpkin Donuts (With Chocolate Glaze)

Fall is upon us, and for a lot of people that means the arrival for two things: pumpkin treats and football. For me, it means it’s time to start timing my grocery store trips witch whatever time the game is on to avoid long lines.
The thing about pumpkin and football is this: I wish I liked them! People who like them are so into it! They are in a secret football and/or pumpkin loving cult and it seems to bring them so much joy. I mean, do you h ave any idea how many times I heard or read the phrase “pumpkin spice latte” last week?

I have been going through a phase of trying things I didn’t think I liked. Things, like pumpkin, that I may have had an aversion to over the years for no particular reason. I don’t think it makes sense to cut myself off from things just because I tried it once years ago. I have discovered all kind of things I “didn’t like” are actually pretty great (sweet potatoes, anyone?). And guess what? Now I can add another thing to my list. Pumpkin isn’t so bad after all. At least not when it is coated in chocolate.

If you are a donut fan, this is really one not to miss. The texture is better than any other baked donut I’ve tried (and I’ve tried quite a few), it’s not sickeningly sweet, and the blend of spices is really nice and subtle – not the overwhelming blast of cinnamon  you get in a lot of fall treats.
“But I don’t have a donut pan!” you say. Dude, get one. They cost like $7 and people lose their minds when you bring them a bunch of fresh, homemade donuts.


  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2-3 oz chopped dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • Sprinkles (duh)


  1. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together vegetable oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, canned pumpkin and milk
  3. Slowly add the try ingredients to the wet- stir until just combined, do not over mix
  4. Spoon or pipe batter into a greased donut pan
  5. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, allow to cool on a rack before glazing
  6. Assemble the glaze: chop chocolate and place in a microwave safe bowl with shortening. Microwave and stir in 20 second spurts until chocolate is melted
  7. Now the fun part: dunk the cooled donuts into the glaze. Top with sprinkles before glaze sets.
  8. Makes 12 donuts

Recipe via Sweetened with Honey

(35) Broccoli Calzones

As has been covered here in a previous post, everyone in my house, including my dogs, love broccoli. Obviously when I saw this recipe, I couldn’t wait to try it, and with good reason. Sadly, I made the horrible mistake of halving the recipe, meaning there were no leftovers. Let ye not be so stupid.

A nice thing about this recipe is that it can be as easy or as complicated as you want it to be, depending on how much you feel like making from-scratch ingredients. I used my favorite home made pizza crust and this pizza sauce for dipping, but it could just as eaisly be thrown together with store bought equivalents on a busy night. I did, however, go with the frozen chopped broccoli, which meant that this came together in minutes and I had time for a beer with my brother (and sous chef) while the calzones were in the oven.

The recipe I’m posting is the half-size, and it makes 4 decently sized calzones. It easily doubles and would be a fabulous freezer-friendly option, so I’d recommend buying twice what you need and going for it.


  • 1 pizza crust – homemade or store bought
  • 1 10-oz package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozarella cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Pizza sauce, for dipping


  • In a large skillet, saute garlic and onions in oil until softened. Add broccoli  and red pepper flakes and saute for 5-7 minutes until most liquid has evaporated.  Set aside to cool
  • In a separate bowl, combine cheeses and salt and pepper
  • Mix broccoli and onion mixture into cheese mixture
  • Cut your dough into 4 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball, and roll out into a circle
  • Put 1/2 – 3/4 cup of filling on one-half of each dough circle, leaving a border. Fold the dough over in a half-moon and crimp the edges
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes

Recipe via Martha Stewart

Instagram Roundup

Wherein I get food smeared on my phone case.

I tried cooking with meatless ground & it was pretty tasty! I made stuffed shells and we ate them for days.

New favorite salad: avocado & strawberries on top of spinach with a lime & cilantro dressing. So ridiculously good. I need to make this a few more times before I can’t get my paws on strawberries.

This toasted marshmallow milkshake is probably the best thing I made all summer. A campfire in a glass. I want another one. Right now. (p.s. I left out the vanillia extract, it didn’t need it)

We didn’t cookout nearly enough this summer, but when we did we made it count. This is a tiny fraction of the meal we had a few weeks ago (Thanks for letting us use your deck, Emily!)

Daytime dates are pretty great, especially when they end with a dessert like this.


Burrito fixin’s


Is there a better snack in the whole wide world than raspberries & dark chocolate?


Jonathan has been pretty obsessed with the idea of bacon & guacamole grilled cheese sandwiches ever since we was the idea on tastespotting. It was intense.


Froyo date with my mom.


Mom & I made these cake mix rolo bars for our Labor Day picnic. They were crazy good. Even the non-dessert-eaters in the family had two.

(34) Burrito Additions: Chipotle Salsa & Beer Glazed Black Beans

A few months ago, I tossed a bunch of old cookbooks and decided to pare down my library to the books I’d use most often and I could learn the most from. Dorie Greenspan made the cut, a million old copies of Kraft magazine did not.I’m working on slowing building up a collection that values quality over quantity.

Though Mexican food is an absolute staple in my house (and in my restaurant choices) and though I’ve been cooking up Mexican inspired dishes for years now, I’ve never strayed much from my old stand-bys: beef tacos, veggie fajitas, nachos pile high with guacamole. These things are all great, but I’m trying to focus on learning more about authentic Mexican cuisine, work with better ingredients, and master new recipes I haven’t tried yet. Thus, in my cookbook research, I knew I wanted a killer volume that would teach me all the Mexican food basics, plus some. Again and again, people recommend Rick Bayless  and I finally took the plunge and bought the 20th Anniversary Edition of Authentic Mexican. It has not disappointed.
Last night, we threw together an awesome burrito bar full of some of my standards: cilantro lime rice, fresh pico de gallo, shredded cheese, cumin-spiced grilled chicken and these two new recipes I’m sharing here today: beer glazed black beans and chipotle salsa.

The chilpotle salsa is the first thing I tried from Authentic Mexican, and it was so rich and easy to make, it makes me all the more eager to jump into the book’s other treasures. Plus, it gave me an excuse to finally work with tomatillios for the first time.

The Beer glazed black beans are from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, a book whose praises I’ve been singing all year to anyone who will listen to me. I thought my standard re-fried black beans were pretty decent, but these blow my old method out of the water. The combination of the onion and beer really elevated these and made them fabulous – they’re great on their own as a side, or as filling in a meatless burrito.

Beer Glazed Black Beans – Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked black beans (or 2 15 oz cans- rinsed & drained)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste

Beer Glazed Black Beans- Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a pan and add onion and garlic. Saute until fragrant and onions begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes
  2. Add black beans, honey, chili powder, and beer to the pan
  3. Bring mixture to a steady, slow bubble. Simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until sauce reduces and thickens
  4. Add salt to taste, serve warm

Chipotle Salsa – Ingredients

  • 3 medium fresh tomatillos, husked and washed
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 canned chipotles, seeded
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Salt, to taste

Chipotle Salsa – Instructions

  • Roast garlic and  tomatillos by laying aluminum foil on a skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Place garlic and tomatillos on top of the foil, turning every few minutes until browned in spots. (Roasting garlic should take about 15 minutes; tomatillos should take about 10 minutes.)
  • Place tomatillos, garlic, chipotles and 2 tablespoons of water in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper

(33) Black Bean Stuffed Poblanos

As someone who is not a big fan of traditional stuffed peppers, I have to say I was skeptical about this recipe. Even as I read the ingredient list and told myself it sounded awesome, even as I blended the sauce that made my kitchen smell amazing even before it hit the oven, even as the minutes started to count down on my oven’s timer, I wasn’t really super convinced I was going to love this.
Oh, was I wrong.
Unlike green bell peppers, which (in my opinion) tend to get a funky taste when cooked too long, these poblanos retained not only a great texture but an awesome amount of spice. Not enough to make you run for a glass of milk, but enough to let you know they weren’t messing around. The filling is awesome – and the sauce, well, let’s just say I when I went back for seconds, I made sure I got enough sauce to completely saturate my plate of rice. I am not ashamed.

I fully realize my photo isn’t the greatest in the world, but when you  have dinner this good waiting for you, you don’t mess around with camera settings. No regrets here.


  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno chile ,minced
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves (2 whole, 1 minced)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 4 large poblano chiles, halved lengthwise, ribs and seeds removed
  • salt and pepper


  • Half the poblanos lengthwise and remove seeds and ribs
  • In a blender or food processor, combine can of tomatoes, jalapeno, 2 cloves of garlic, one roughly chopped onion, 1 teaspoon cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Puree until smooth.
  • Place sauce in 9 x 13 baking dish
  • In a separate bowl, combine chopped onion, black beans, corn meal, 1 clove of minced garlic and 1/2 cup of pepper jack cheese. Season with 1 teaspoon cumin. Stir to combine.
  • Spoon black bean mixture into poblanos and place peppers in the baking dish
  • Cover peppers with remaining cheese
  • Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove the foil during the last 10 minutes of baking.


  • This makes enough stuffing for probably 6 chiles, depending on size.
  • I highly recommend serving with rice mixed with cilantro and lime juice, yum!
  • Recipe via Martha Stewart