Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Link: The best way to cook sausage

Click on the image above to read a post by the great Kenji at Serious Eats about the best way to cook sausage. With my son's birthday party coming up in a week and a half, this couldn't be better timed for me.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Baked squash blossoms

I've wanted to make squash blossoms ever since I found out they were a thing. I remember hearing Sookie St. James on Gilmore Girls rave about people expecting her stuffed fried squash blossoms and thinking, "I don't know what that is, but it sounds delicious." I've seen recipes here and there on the food blogs I follow, and they always looked so pretty. I've just never actually been able to find squash blossoms. So when I saw them at the farmers market on Saturday at $2 for a dozen, I jumped at the chance to finally try them. I baked half of them last night, and sometime this week, I'm going to try a dessert recipe I found.
photo by storeyland
6 squash blossoms

1/2 c ricotta cheese
1/4 c parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 T fresh basil, chiffonade
salt and pepper, to taste

1 egg
1 T water
Panko bread crumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut off the stem of the blooms if necessary.
  2. Stir together all the filling ingredients with a fork until combined. Carefully spoon mixture into squash blossoms. How much you use will depend on the size of the blooms, but it will probably be around a tablespoon or two. Twist the tops of the petals together to close.
  3. Whisk together the water and eggs and brush onto the outside of the blooms, coating all sides. Carefully roll the blooms in the panko crumbs and arrange on a greased baking pan.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 25 minutes.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sauteed squash

I improvised this recipe Tuesday afternoon when I was short a vegetable for my son's lunch, and it turned out really well. My son really ate it up, which makes me glad since his daddy doesn't like squash. I made this with yellow squash, but it should work with zucchini, pattypan, or any summer squash.

1 squash, cut into 1/8" slices
1/2 T butter
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 t dried thyme (fresh would be better)
a splash of red wine vinegar (I would have preferred lemon juice, but it's what I had)
salt & pepper, to taste


  1. Heat a 10"-12" saute pan over medium high heat. Add butter, olive oil, squash, and a bit of salt and pepper. Stir or shake to get squash as close to a single layer as you can.
  2. Leave it alone for at least 30 seconds. Toss to flip or use a spatula to flip if you aren't comfortable tossing it.
  3. Repeat the process of leaving it alone and flipping until you get some nice brown spots on your squash.
  4. Add thyme and vinegar or lemon juice. Stir, shake, or toss until the vinegar or lemon juice evaporates. Adjust the seasonings to taste.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ask a grown man

I may have found the best thing to ever originate from an online magazine for teen girls, Ask a Grown Man. Questions are submitted by teen girls and answered by grown male celebrities. I had forgotten how much teen girls are obsessed with boys. I would recommend starting with Paul Rudd.


Monday, June 4, 2012

The first farmers market trip of the year

The farmers market in my town opened for the first weekend of the summer this Saturday, so my son and I went for a little field trip. I can't speak for him, but I had a blast. I got some local honey, a pint of blackberries for $2, green beans, tomatoes, and a massive head of cauliflower.
Seriously, look at the size of this thing.
To give you an idea of just how massive this cauliflower was. I took a picture when I put some in the toaster oven to roast. (I seriously love my new toaster oven. I can roast things without heating up the kitchen, which is great considering it's in the 90's most days.) I just tossed it in a little melted butter, salt, and pepper, set the toaster oven to 400 degrees and watched the cauliflower until it got some nice brown bits on it. What you see below isn't even a quarter of that head of cauliflower. And it was delicious by the way.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Every major's terrible?

The exceptionally clever people at xkcd have done it again. Click the picture to be taken to the comic of a clever little ditty about why every college major is terrible.  Someone has even attempted to sing it.

My major isn't mentioned. Does that mean it isn't terrible or that it's so terrible that it doesn't deserve to me mentioned?  Hmmm....


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Corn in a toaster oven? Who woulda thunk!

May has been hot in my neck of the woods. There have been a few days where our air conditioner just couldn't keep up, and it's supposed to be over 100 degrees on Thursday. (Ouch!) So, I'm trying to avoid turning on my oven as much as possible. If I use the oven on one of those days where the air conditioner is straining, the house doesn't cool down until well after sunset, and who wants that?

Lucky me, my husband got me a toaster oven for Mother's Day. (Really, it's okay. We've been talking about how much we wanted one for years. I mean, literally, years.) We've had a rough month with illness running its way around our family, so last night was the first time I used it, and I really went all out. No toasted bagels or frozen waffles for me. No, what's the first thing I made in my toaster oven? Roasted corn. And, it turned out great. I am so proud of my little toaster oven.


  1. Soak the corn, in husk, in salt water for several hours. If you can't submerge all the corn, put the end where the silk sticks out on the bottom. I don't know if it actually works, but I imagine that capillary action brings the salt water up into the corn through the silk. Even if it doesn't actually work that way, I've always gotten good results by doing it like that.
  2. Place the rack in your toaster oven on the lowest slot and set your toaster oven to bake at 350 degrees. Take the corn out of the water, and using kitchen shears, snip off the silk hanging from the top and any loose bits of husk or parts that stick out.
  3. Put the corn on a small pan and place on the rack in the toaster oven. Bake for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tip: Use Naan as pizza crust

I saw an interesting tip in the Publix ad the other week. Next to the picture of Tandoori Naan on sale was the suggestion to use Naan to make pizza. I thought it sounded like an odd mix of cuisines, but I thought it was worth a try. I bought a package of two of the garlic Naan, as well as some fresh mozzarella and sauce. It was delicious, and they were a good size for individual pizzas.

Photo by MoHotta18
 I've made this twice now, and I have a couple of tips I've learned from the experience. You'll want to use less sauce than a pizza made from dough. The sauce doesn't absorb as much, so the sauce is more likely to form a slick under your cheese. Nobody likes to take a bite of their pizza and have all the cheese slide off. Second, put the Naan directly on the rack in the oven or put it on a cooling rack and put that in the oven for easier removal. If you put it on a cookie sheet, the bottom doesn't crisp up and you end up with a pretty floppy pizza. With the bottom unshielded from the heat of the oven, the bottom crisps up nicely without burning and the crust holds up better to the toppings, which makes the pizza easier to eat.

Naan Pizza

2 pieces of garlic Naan
Pasta or pizza sauce
Fresh mozzarella, shredded
Other toppings of your choice (i.e. red pepper flakes, basil, pepperoni, etc.)

Build your pizza on a peel or cooling rack depending on whether you will cook it on the oven's rack or the cooling rack. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Add desired toppings to Naans and transfer to the center rack of the oven. Rather than timing the pizza, keep an eye on it, and pull it out when the cheese gets to your preferred point of brown and bubbly. (It's nice that you don't have to make sure the crust is cooked.)

- Katy

Friday, May 4, 2012

Holy Moley, Guacamole!

I saw a recipe in my inbox the other day for "Healthified Guacamole." Curious, I clicked on the email to see what they did to make guacamole healthier. I was thinking it was pretty healthy to begin with. I mean, the avocado is kind of high in fat, but it's all good healthy fat, and there are plenty of nutrients in guacamole as well. Lo, and behold, the recipe I saw before me was simply a standard recipe for guacamole. What kind of guacamole had the writers of this email recipe been eating? (Though I admit, I was glad to see that hadn't done something weird to mess with guacamole. I mean, let's just admit it. A good batch of guacamole is basically perfect food.)
photo by stu_spivack

I love making guacamole at home. It's so hard to find a good store bought guacamole and generally cheaper to make it at home, especially right now when the grocery stores are all having their Cinco de Mayo sales. If you're looking for a good store bought guac, I like Trader Joe's the best and Wholly Guacamole the second best. If you're looking to make your own, read on. My version is adapted off of this Alton Brown recipe. I do a couple of things to it that may make it inauthentic, but I like it, so I don't care.

3 avocados
1 small lemon
1/2 medium red onion, diced
2 plum tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small handful of cilantro, chopped (should come to about 1 T after chopping)
a few jarred jalapeno slices, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

1) Cut the avocados in half and remove the seeds. Cut the avocado in cubes by scoring a grid into the avocado through to the skin and then scoop out with a large spoon. If the avocado is nice and ripe and soft as it should be, your cubes won't be perfect, which is fine. I like to think of the cubes of avocado in my guacamole as the bread cubes in a bread pudding. Some will remain fairly intact and some will break up completely to make a nice balance between creamy and chunky.
2) Dump avocado pieces into a large bowl and squeeze the juice from the lemon onto them and toss to coat.
3) Add the onion, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and jalapenos, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you can wait to eat it, let it sit for about an hour to let the flavors meld.

For variations, you can mash the avocado before adding the rest of the ingredients. You can use a lime instead of a lemon. You can also add some spices such as cayenne, cumin, or chili powder. If you're looking to be more authentic, leave out the jalapenos.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Click the picture to view an absolutely hilarious retelling of one woman's adventure to replicate her mom's tasty pecan shortbread cookies. And they sound delicious to boot!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cheesecake tips and tricks

This post at The Kitchn has some great tips for baking a great cheesecake. I heartily agree with all the tips, and I had never heard the tip to chill your cheesecake for at least six hours. I always just let it come to room temperature on the counter and only chilled it if there were leftovers. I will definitely have to try chilling my cheesecake before serving next time.

I think the most important thing to remember about a cheesecake is that it's basically a custard pie, so it should be handled with care. It will not take kindly to overcooking or too high temperatures. It definitely follows the cardinal rule of cooking eggs - if it looks done in the pan, it will be overdone on the plate. I'll admit; I have had difficulty with this one. But, once I got over it, I could enjoy creamy, luscious cheesecakes and smooth, moist, even custardy, scrambled eggs, and omelets that don't taste like styrofoam.

A lot of people swear by baking cheesecakes in a water bath, but that's a problem if you use a springform pan. The great Alton Brown gets around this by using a 3" tall cake pan instead, but I'm rather attached to my springform. I get around it by putting the two racks in my oven in two adjacent slots with the top rack in the middle of the oven. On the bottom rack, I put a sheet pan filled with water. (Put the pan in first and then fill with water.) I put the water pan in the oven as soon as I finish baking the crust so the water has time to warm up and get the oven nice and steamy while I get the filling ready. Once the filling is ready and in the pan, that pan goes on the rack right above the water pan. It's protected from the harsher radiant heat from the coils at the bottom of the oven, and the cheesecake gets to cook in a nice moist environment. It doesn't coddle the cheesecake as much as a water bath would, but I think it's a good compromise.

The next thing is to not let the cheesecake overcook. I think this is where most cheesecakes go wrong. If you're paranoid about undercooking, you can turn off the oven when you think it's almost done. That will allow you a little more room for error. Although you're more likely to overcook it this way, it won't be as noticeable and will give you peace of mind if you're worried about eating undercooked eggs. (I say to get over it, but that's just me.)

If you're more worried about overcooking, like me, take the cheesecake out of the oven when the outer half is set, but the center still jiggles when you shake it. So, if you're using a 9" springform pan, you're looking for a jiggly circle between 4" and 5" in diameter when you shake the pan. And by shake, I mean wiggle back and forth on the oven rack horizontally, just so there's no confusion. I don't want anybody picking up the pan and shaking it up and down. That sounds like a good way to get boiling hot and probably pretty sticky cream cheese on yourself. Yikes!

If you're looking for a good recipe, I would highly recommend this one from Tigers & Strawberries. It has never failed me, and it's easy to customize.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Best mold buster I've found

Baking Soda
photo by [F]oxymoron
I used to swear by cleaning my bathtub with Comet. I didn't think anything could kill the mold or get rid of stains in the tub as well. I mean, it made sense. It's basically scour-y bleach. But, no more. I tried a cleaning tip I saw online (can't remember where exactly or I'd attribute it), and I can tell you now, I will not be going back.

The tip I read online just said to sprinkle the tub with baking soda, but I added a little something to it. After I let the baking soda sit for a little while, I sprayed it with some vinegar and then scrubbed the tub with the mixture. I was shocked by how easily the discoloration from mold disappeared. I honestly didn't know my tub could be that color! And how dirty the water was when I rinsed everything away! And jeeze, a four pound box of baking soda cost, like, $2.

Cheap, effective, and no bleach fumes? Sold!

Bookmark and Share

Monday, April 23, 2012

Breastfeeding, talk about your ups and downs (NSFW?)

I found the hilarious image below on this post at How to Be a Dad with the caption, "Breastfeeding: Got a problem? Suck it." I've seen my LO do exactly this and then pull away and look at me with brows furrowed because he cannot understand why Mama is laughing so hard.

I love breastfeeding. I will miss it so much when it's gone. It's been great to have the special bonding time between me and my son and to know I'm doing at least one thing that's unequivocally best for him. It's so sweet when he cuddles up and his eyes get heavy when I'm nursing him at bedtime. It's so cute when he stops in the middle of eating just to smile and talk to me before finishing his meal. I laugh hysterically when he dive bombs my boobs because he's hungry or when he plays with my bra strap while he nurses.

But, I'm also ready for it to be over. He just started crawling a couple of weeks ago, so it's a struggle to get him to settle down to nurse. He also grabbed a nipple the other day and got his sharp little baby fingernails nice and dug into it before I could get him to let go (oh, and then he bit the same one two days later). I also took pseudoephedrine, which decreased my supply, which never bounced back. I under-produced (by half) for the first two months of his life, which came along with a host of other problems, so the low supply has me seriously stressed out. Throughout breastfeeding, I've experienced most problems possible: low supply, latch problems, nursing strikes, sore nipples, clogged ducts, etc. There were a few times in those first couple of months when I almost quit.

So, do I love breastfeeding? Usually. Do I hate breastfeeding? Sometimes. Has it been difficult? You bet your ass. Am I glad I stuck it out? Yes.

I guess I wanted to share this because I don't think people hear the full story of what it's like to breastfeed. I thought it would be a lot easier than it was when my baby was born. People talk about how natural and wonderful it is, and it is. But, it's difficult. It can take a few weeks until things start to go smoothly, and it is a lot of work up until then. I wish they covered that aspect of breastfeeding in the birthing classes and baby books. I'd be willing to bet more women would stick it out if they knew that it would be tough at the start when they made the decision to breastfeed. I also think hospitals could be a lot more supportive to breastfeeding mothers - most women go into labor planning to breastfeed but leave the hospital feeding formula - but that is another post.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hunger Games, indeed

This brilliant person came up with a recipe for Katniss's favorite dish from The Hunger Games, lamb stew with dried plums. It looks absolutely delicious and incredibly rich, just as it should be for a Capitol dish. I can understand why Katniss took a liking to it. There are so many mentions of delicious sounding food in that book; one could write an entire cook book based on the trilogy. (Dear anyone considering doing this, please omit any Greasy Sae dishes.)

After seeing this, I must say I'm a bit inspired. I'm feeling like taking a stab at the chicken and oranges in a cream sauce, myself.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I actually made something I pinned!

Indeed, it's the third recipe I pinned that I actually made. I'm so proud of me. I made Pasta with Cauliflower and Sausage from The Kitchn. I loved it, and my husband, who hates cooked cauliflower (but likes it raw, go figure), loved it as well. I made a half recipe, and there were still enough leftovers for both of us to have a meal of leftovers (and for me to cut up a little to give to the little one. He liked the cauliflower. He makes Mama proud.).

Sauteing the cauliflower really brings out the sweetness of it, and it goes really well with the slight spice of the mild italian sausage. I thought the flavors balanced really nicely, and it had a nice sweetness to it without having the over sweet taste you can get from a jarred sauce. Plus, I cannot resist fresh mozzarella. I like to buy the little balls to snack on in lieu of string cheese.

I used onions instead of shallots (because it's what I had around) and parmesan instead of bread crumbs (because I was too lazy to make breadcrumbs). All in all, I'd say it is definitely a repeat.

Bookmark and Share

The resurrection of the blog

If anyone is actually out there to read this, I commend you. This blog has been dead so long, you've probably forgotten that you followed it in the first place. Well, I'm here to tell you that I'm bringing it back from the dead.

I've decided to expand the scope a bit. I'll continue to post about food, and that will be my main focus. But, I've discovered a couple of new loves since I stopped posting here. I started crocheting about two years ago, and I had a baby nine months ago. So, I plan to post a bit about crocheting and yarn and a bit about parenting.

I hope you'll enjoy reading what I have to share. See you again soon!

Bookmark and Share