I promise that I have been doing much more in the kitchen than baking up butter and sugar-laced treats. It just seems that the only time I think to snap a picture is when I have a baking project going on. Truthfully though, I haven’t been spending as much time in the kitchen as I would like to. We just moved and are still getting settled in. I was out of town for a week visiting family and friends across Connecticut and New York. And next week I am starting grad school so I am busy preparing for that, too.

Our CSA is going strong. This year we opted with Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op. Everything is from Lancaster County, just an hour away. They deliver to our favorite coffee shop in our neighborhood (which also sells take-out beer), so it makes our weekly trip totally worth it. It’s also walking distance, so we don’t have to drive to pick it up! We are pretty inundated with greens right now, but we scored a pound of sweet cherries a few weeks back. I had a potluck for work and Father’s Day was coming up, so I put them to use immediately. Of course, I left some for snacking, too.

Brown Butter Cherry Bars
from Smitten Kitchen

For the crust:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 pound sweet cherries (you will not use all of them, so there should be plenty left for a treat later on!)

To make the crust: Preheat over to 375°F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. (It should look like this.)

Using rubber spatula or fork, mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated. Transfer dough to your prepared pan, and press the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, about 18 minutes (it will puff slightly while baking). Transfer crust to rack and cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.

To make the filling: Cook butter in heavy small saucepan (a lighter-colored one will make it easier to see the color changing, which happens quickly) over medium heat until deep nutty brown (do not burn), stirring often and watching carefully, about six minutes. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup to cool slightly.

Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.

Arrange pitted cherries in bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over the fruit. Bake bars until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (though, of course, this took less time in my hyperactive oven so please watch your baking times carefully). Cool bars completely in pan on rack.

Use the parchment paper overhang to carefully remove cooled bars from pan and place them on a cutting board and cut them into squares with a very sharp knife. The cherries, if they fall over your slicing lines, will want to give you trouble but if you saw a sharp knife into them slowly before pressing down, they’ll cut neatly and with minimum carnage.


I did not snap a photo of the finished product. They were so delicious I ate them almost immediately. I made a second batch and they came out even better than the first. Having fresh cherries definitely made the difference, but you can use frozen, or any berry of your choice. It would probably be a lot of fun to stud this cake with lots of blueberries or rasberries in the upcoming weeks while they are in season. I don’t know if I’ll make them again- they have a LOT of butter- but I would definitely recommend that you make them. And maybe share them with your friends.


There is nothing as simple as chocolate and strawberries to make an impressive and delicious dessert. Usually this involves dipping the strawberries in melted chocolate, which is easy and always a crowd pleaser. For Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to make something that was delicious, yet easy, but would still impress the heck out of my ma-in-law. I’ve had some failures before involving last-minute Mother’s/Father’s day treats, so I was determined to find something utterly simple that I knew would work in a short period of time. I skimmed through my saved recipes and found something that caught my eye on The Kitchn a few weeks ago. A tart, with strawberries and marscapone cream, dotted with bits of dark chocolate chunks. Hello! I was sold.

The original recipe was from an on-line newspaper article from The Oregonian, discussing the simplicity of strawberries and the many different ways to use them. It combined a few different recipes, and The Kitchn basically tied them together and added a layer of rich chocolate ganache. The ingredients were easy to find and inexpensive. The recipe as a whole didn’t take long to make at all. I think I made it that Sunday morning, and brought the strawberries along with me to add once we arrived at dinner.

Strawberry Tart with Rich Marscapone Cream and Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from The Kitchn and The Oregonian

For the crust:

1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal, uncooked
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (1 stick)

For the cream filling:

1/2 cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup mascarpone cheese (cream cheese is fine, too)
1/3 cup finely chopped dark chocolate
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar

For the ganache:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the oatmeal on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, add the oatmeal, flour, sugar and salt. Pulse until combined and the oatmeal is chopped. Add the butter and continue to pulse until the mixture looks crumbly.

Pat the dough into a 9- or 10-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Use the back of a measuring cup to help spread it evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.

For the ganache, melt 1/2 cup whipping cream and 1/2 dark chocolate in a pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until melted. Pour ganache over baked oatmeal crust and chill in the fridge until firm and cool.


To make the marscapone cream, place the cream and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat at high speed until cream begins to thicken. Sprinkle in the sugar, and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in the mascarpone cheese. Stir in the chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

In a large bowl, mix the sliced strawberries, balsamic, and sugar until macerated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Immediately before serving, spread the marscapone cream in a thick and creamy layer over the ganache. Top with strawberries and serve cool. Eat. And eat and eat and eat. And enjoy!

What a hit! And honestly, so simple. I ate much more than I should have, and everyone else went back for seconds, too.  The rest of the tart was destroyed by Stu’s dad and brother. By the end of the night, we all had very full and happy bellies.  I guarantee that you will, too!

I know I am probably more than a month behind in this post, but I have been so excited to share this with you all. This year was the first time I spent Easter without my own family. I spent the holiday with Stu’s relatives and I was determined to bring something from my own family’s tradition. Although we are not super traditional-Italian, we always have an Easter pie. I don’t know my grandmother’s exact recipe, so I spent quite a while doing some research. I checked Food Network and found recipes from Emeril and Giada, but they just didn’t seem authentic. It was after a few different searches that I found a great article by Susan Russo from Food Blogga that totally defined my upbringing of Italian Easter dishes. I originally wanted to make a Ricotta Pie, but wasn’t keen on the addition of pineapple. I love the idea of Pizza Chena (or as we say, Pizza Gain),  but wasn’t into the addition of meat, and was a little intimidated by the whole concept. So I settled on the simple, yet delicious Italian Rice Pie, similar to my own family’s recipe.

Italian Rice Pie
adapted from Susan Russo

For the crust:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 stick unsalted butter (chilled)
1 extra large egg or 2 small eggs
1 to 2 tablespoons ice water, or as much as needed

For the filling:

1/2 cup uncooked Arborio rice
4 cups of water or whole milk
7 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon extract (or the zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 pound ricotta cheese, drained

For the crust, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times to combine. Add the butter and pulse about 10 times until the dough becomes pebbly in texture. Add the eggs and pulse repeatedly until the dough begins to stick together. Slowly add the ice water by the tablespoonful, while using a few long pulses. Add more drops of ice water as necessary, until the dough holds together well. Invert the dough onto a floured work surface. Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing the filling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before continuing.)

If you don’t have a processor, then combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add chunks of chilled butter, and using a pastry blender or two forks, chop the butter until it resembles little pebbles. At this point, add the eggs and ice water, and stir with a spoon until the dough begins to form. Using your hands and working the dough as little as possible, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough holds together. Form the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate while preparing the filling. (Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before continuing.)

To make the filling, place the rice and water or whole milk in medium heavy-bottom saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook the rice, uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the rice is sticky. The rice should still be firm as it will finish cooking in the oven. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add the eggs and sugar to a large bowl. Using a hand-mixer, beat until well combined. Add the lemon extract (or zest and juice) and vanilla, and beat on low for about 10 seconds. Add the drained ricotta, and beat on low for a few seconds until just combined. Stir in the cooked rice. Mix with a rubber spatula until well combined, making sure there are no clumps of rice. Place in the refrigerator.

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Coat a 10 1/2-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into an 11 1/2-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the prepared pie plate, gently pressing it into the bottom and sides. No fluted crust is necessary. At this point, set the crust in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes to get it really chilled, which will make for a flakier crust.

Remove the chilled crust from the freezer and pour the filling to about 1/4 of an inch below the top of the crust, as it will puff up slightly when baking.

Bake for 1 hour or until the filling puffs up, turns golden, and is “set,” meaning it should be firm, not jiggly when you gently move the pie plate. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Note: If you have some extra filling left over, you can pour it into a small baking dish or ramekins for a crustless version, and follow the same baking instructions. Leftover rice pie can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

This came out almost exactly as how I remembered it. I would have loved to use fresh lemon, but was skeptical of using regular grocery-store lemons as opposed to the Meyer variety. I settled on lemon extract, begrudgingly. The pie was delicious though. The cheese and rice was a perfect combination, and it looked absolutely lovely in my Le Crueset pie plate that I got for Christmas. It was a huge hit at dinner. I left some of the leftovers and took some home to have for breakfast later in the week. I can’t wait to make it again next year. I may even try some Pizza Chena! I recommend this dish even if it’s not the Easter holiday. It’s delicious and refreshing.

My last post was about two months ago. In that post, I made a big deal about how I’ve been super busy, but that I promised to get back into the swing of things. I also made a big stink about giving up meat for Lent. I can’t promise that I’ll be back in the swing of things, but I can tell you that a lot has happened since my last post. For one thing, I got accepted into graduate school for Elementary Education and certification. Hurrah! I’m going to be a teacher. I also successfully gave up meat. I lost 6 lbs. doing it. Then I gained 3 (or more) back when I went on vacation to Boston and New Hampshire and drank lots of different beers. Then I ran a 10 mile race. And now I probably want to run a lot more. That being said, I have a lot more free time now that graduate school applications are out of the way (for good) and I’m no longer training for my run (for now.)

I can go on and on for hours about all of the terrific, and not so terrific meals that I cooked while I was without meat. I can also tell you about the terrible cheeseburger that I had after my race on Sunday. But instead, I’ll leave you with a post about one of my favorite meals that I made while I was without meat. I loved it so much, I’ll make it again and again. It’s called Pad Thai. And it’s awesome.

Vegetarian Pad Thai
Adapted from Mark Bittman 

12 ounces dried flat rice noodles, 1/4inch thick
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces pressed tofu, or extra-firm tofu, blotted dry and sliced
2 scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths
1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
2 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
2 teaspoons tamarind paste or ketchup
2 teaspoons sugar
1 /4 cup chopped peanuts
1 /4cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 small fresh jalapeno peppers
1 lime, cut into wedges

Put the noodles in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Soak until softened, at least 15 minutes; if you want to hold them a little longer, drain them, fill the bowl with cold water, and return the noodles to the bowl.

Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the eggs and scramble quickly for the first minute or so with a fork almost flat against the bottom of the pan; you’re aiming for a thin egg crêpe of sorts, one with the smallest curd you can achieve. Cook just until set and transfer the crêpe to a cutting board. Cut into 1/4-inch strips and set aside.

Raise the heat to high and add the remaining oil. When hot, add the garlic, tofu, scallions, and half the bean sprouts to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate.

Put the drained noodles, eggs, nam pla, tamarind, and sugar in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are heated through, then add the stir-fried tofu mixture. Toss once or twice and transfer the contents of the pan to a serving platter. Top with the peanuts, cilantro, chiles, and remaining bean sprouts. Serve with the lime wedges.

This dish is particularly special because Stu and I have been trying to recreate it for years. My dad actually makes a killer Pad Thai, with chicken and sometimes shrimp, and he made it for us one of the first times Stu came to my house for dinner. We’ve been trying to make our own ever since, and have been continuously unsuccessful. Mostly because we can’t get the noodles to the right consistency, but also because we wait until the verrrry last minute to prep everything. Something clicked with this recipe though, probably because we didn’t use meat so we weren’t juggling as many steps as normal. This dish was divine! I loved every bite of it, and the leftovers the next day. A co-worker who used to work at a Thai restaurant even commented on how delicious it looked. I was super pleased. This is certainly one dish that made giving up meat a breeze!

Hi friends.

It has been quite some time since I sat down to post to this blog. I’ve missed it. But a hiatus was definitely necessary. I’ve spent the past three months frantically preparing application materials to graduate school programs and studying for the long-anticipated GRE. Boo. I’m pretty much done with all of that, and now I have much more room in my free time to devote to cooking, baking, and blogging. I’ve still been spending plenty of time in the kitchen, but I will admit that over these past few winter months, I haven’t been as dedicated to eating local and healthy food. A lot of pizza (home made, of course) , some take-out tacos, and grocery store produce have worked their way into our weekly meal plans. I’ve still made an effort to incorporate healthy food, but I definitely need to get back on track.

In the midst of studying and trying to balance work and play, I was able to take some time to read Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters.” It’s a book that he wrote about 2 years ago about how to eat “sanely” and sustainably. He talks mostly about how eating less meat will not only make you healthier (and slimmer), but will also reduce the impact of greenhouse gases on our environment. The book was a pretty easy read and included a bunch of recipes that help you to introduce more fruits and vegetables, and more importantly, whole grains into your diet. It got me thinking. I don’t eat too much meat as it is, but I definitely enjoy a beefy hamburger or some hot and spicy Italian sausage every now and then. Don’t even talk to me about pulled-pork sandwiches. I usually eat this type of food when I am out to dinner, but I’ve come to realize that I go out to dinner, in some form or another, almost every weekend. Which means I’m eating beef/sausage/pork at least once a week. Back in January I started keeping track of what types of meals I’m eating and it turns out that I’m eating meat at least 3 times a week, sometimes more. While I really enjoy eating it and even look forward to it, I am thinking that I should experiement with some changes to my diet.

I’m currently training to run a 10-mile race in May. By race I really mean just a run, I’m not competitive at all. In fact this will be the first organized run I’ve ever done. And until this point, I’ve never run more than 3 miles in a stretch. It’s a lot of work. I’ve been making a conscious effort to work out at least 3 times a week, but I want to do more than just exercise.

Next week is the start of Lent. I don’t consider myself very religious anymore, and even when I was, my religion never observed Lent. Technically. At least not the part where you have to give something up. Despite this, I usually tried to give things up for the 40-something days and in most cases I was very successful. During college I gave up both Coca-Cola and Gushers Fruit Snacks (this is why I gained so much weight at the time), and since then haven’t really had the need to crave either.  This year I’ve decided that I’m going to give up meat. I’m going to see what it’s like to go meat-free- even chicken and fish- for 46 days. I’m not planning on sticking to this diet after Easter, but I’m hoping that it will be a good way to challenge myself. I think it’s enough time to measure if there is any difference in the way my body feels, my state of mind, and the amount of energy that I have. I’m excited to see what types of limitations I face at the grocery store and out at a restaurant. I will of course be sharing most of my findings on here.

I’m also been doing some thinking about the way that I structure this blog. In the past I’ve constantly been taking pictures and sharing recipes for mostly everything I’ve cooked. I think I’ll be scaling back the amount of posting that I do, and only sharing the really special recipes. Not everyone needs to know how many times a month I make chocolate chip cookies or how often I eat pizza (which is a whole lot.)

Of course, CSA season is coming up and I’m pretty sure we’ve decided to stick with it again. Not having access to fresh and local produce all winter has been a major bummer. I am getting so excited for asparagus, berries, peaches and REAL apples that are not mealy and tasteless. Not to mention an abundance of leafy greens. Go veg!

So, to sum it all up: I’m back. I’m busier than ever. I am going meatless and running 15 miles a week. And I can’t even stand it how badly I want spring to be here. Keep checking back to see me make even bigger moves in the next few months.

In the meantime, I’m off to make some meatballs. Lent doesn’t start until Wednesday!

I am backed up on posts, so this meal is from a few weeks ago, but I don’t think it’s too late to enjoy it, even though pumpkins have given way for candy canes, chocolates, and tons of delicious cookies. I made this right after Thanksgiving with a pumpkin that I’d had in my apartment as a decoration for the Fall. I felt bad throwing it out, and decided to honor it properly by cooking it up!

I had been saving a recipe that was sent to us by our CSA from way back in October. I was waiting specifically until I didn’t have need for a pumpkin anymore. So after Thanksgiving came to an end, I got right to work.

Roasted Pumpkin Curry
from Nibbledish.com

1/2 of  1 small pumpkin seeded, peeled, and cubed
1 can of coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 or 3 tablespoons of red curry paste
2 or 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
4 or 5 tablespoons sugar
1 red bell pepper, julienned
8 oz. firm tofu, diced into small cubes
1 cup of green peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup of chopped carrots
1 cup of steamed jasmine rice

Preheat oven to 400F.

Cut pumpkin into two halves and roast, cut side down, for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, bring coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, and curry paste to a boil. Reduce heat and add bell pepper, carrots, tofu, green peas, and roasted pumpkin. Simmer until bell pepper and carrots are soft. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

This dish was so delish! I was really surprised how well the pumpkin worked with the curry. It was very spicy- great for a chili night. The chili paste and the coconut milk made it silky, spicy and sweet. The vegetables complimented it well and the rice made it thick enough to fill you up. I highly recommend this for veggie lovers and my vegan friends. If you don’t have access to a pumpkin (by now it is past Christmas and finding one is probably quite a challenge), you can probably use any type of winter squash. I’ll probably make this meal again before Winter comes to an end. I am pretty obsessed and have been singing it’s praises for over a month now!

I’ve never been a huge fan of Brussels sprouts. This is just purely based on the idea of BrusselsSprouts, not even the taste. I hadn’t event tried them until a few years ago when I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home, when a friend brought a side dish of sprouts to our  potluck. I didn’t fancy them back then, and I was still skeptical of them until recently. We received some in our CSA share in the month of November. I was a little reluctant, but Stuart was ecstatic. I took a measly bundle from the bottom of the bin, and searched far and wide for a good recipe. I ended up cooking them in a Frittata with bacon, and it was absolutely horrendous. I swore off the sprouts again.

Not too long after, as Thanksgiving was approaching, we received some more from our CSA. Stu encouraged me to give them another go around, so I told him I would. I also was lucky enough to stumble upon an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats that was specifically centered around the beauty of the Brussels sprout. I thought I was ready to give them a try.

Oddly enough, I found my recipe in the October issue of Real Simple. This was after searching culinary magazines, websites, and blogs. It was a simple recipe for ravioli with Brussels Sprouts and bacon. Alton Brown had mentioned that bacon is the perfect counterpart to sprouts, and I love a good ravioli dish. I decided to give it a go.

Stu took the reigns on this one, as I was busy tying up loose ends (i.e. a pumpkin pie) for Thanksgiving

Ravioli with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
from Real Simple Magazine, October 2010

1 pound cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen)
6 slices of bacon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
grated Parmesan, for serving

Cook the ravioli according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate. Break into pieces when cool.

Wipe out the skillet. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the pecans and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, 2 to 4 minutes.

Add the Brussels sprouts, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in the vinegar. Add the bacon and toss to combine. Serve over the ravioli. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil and top with the Parmesan, if desired.

Yeahhh! This was so good. I think the bacon did the trick, but also the fact that the sprouts were sliced so thinly. It was just the right combination of bitter green vegetable, savory meat, and soft cheese. Not only would I eat this dish again, but I look forward to the next time I can cook up some sprouts- even beyond the holiday season. Not too shabby!


On November 13th we had our last CSA pickup of the summer season. It was a glorious one. We got some really great stuff, and I used the opportunity to stock up on some things that will most likely last us for the next few weeks, if not longer. They were all pretty affordable, so I walked out of there with some gems.

In our share we received:

Organic Garlic from Culton Organics. These 3 heads, along with the few that I already had stored up should last at least a month. I hope.

Spaghetti Squash, uh oh!

A beautiful bulb of fennel.

More brussel sprouts!

Beets and beet greens

And OH YEAH! Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Harvest from the Hood, with wet hops grown fresh at the farm. We’d been waiting for this all summer long!

We also scored some apples and awesome sharp cheddar cheese. I picked up a butternut and acorn squash, a ton more apples, and a whole bunch of sweet potatoes. I’ve used a lot of the produce so far, but I’m storing all of the squash for later in the season. The fennel made an awesome Carrot Fennel soup, the brussel sprouts were featured in an incredible ravioli, the beets into a beet green gratin, the sweet potatoes in a souffle for Thanksgiving that did not turn out as well as I would have liked, and the apples went into a delicious apple pie. I’m still using some of the produce and I can’t wait to use it over the next few weeks, especially when I’m in a bind. I still have some beets and most of the squash, along with some sweet potatoes. Hooray for seasonal food all the way into the Winter time!

I have been very productive in the kitchen lately. Honestly, I have, although this blog shows no proof. Unforunately, neither does my camera. I have been up to my eyeballs in festive foods and baked goods, including but not limited to: apple butter, cranberry apple jam, pumpkin pie, apple pie, home made marshmellows, donuts, and a failed sweet potato souffle. However, most of these things were so involved that I didn’t get around to photographing them, or if I did, it wasn’t enough to make a post out of. Also, most of these things will probably be used as Christmas gifts so I don’t want to go too deep into details.

In the meantime, here are the photos that I did take, in no particular order, so that you can get a sneak peak of what I’ve been up to.

Apple butter in the Crock Pot.

Cranberries and apples, for jam.

Home-made marshmellows are weird, and just about as unnatural as regular marshmellows.

I roasted this sucker and made it into a pie. And a mousse. A vegan mousse. And granola. And I still have more to use.

So that is a general mash-up of what I’ve been up to. Mostly baking things that are unhealthy. I still have our final CSA pick-up to post, and it was  good one! As well as some of the seasonal meals that we’ve been able to get out of it. I’ve also been stocking up on potatoes and squash for the upcoming weeks. Now that our CSA is over, I’m trying to focus mostly on meals that are pantry-based, or more importantly, cheap. Things might get pretty boring around here, especially since the budget is tight, but I’ll do my best to keep things interesting. I’ll also promise to do my best at posting more regularly, as Christmas is coming up and I can already tell I’ll be spending many long nights in the kitchen making baked goods and home-made presents. Come on back for more!

A few weeks ago, around Halloween, I was making baked goods galore. Most of them were sweets, and some of them were for other people. but I admit that I did quite a bit of snacking myself. After eating Apple Harvest Muffins, Pumpkin Muffins, Pumpkin Scones, and Cinnamon Rolls for weeks, I decided to limit myself on the sweets. But, I still wanted something to bake and something to snack on during my morning prep period at school. I’d recently made a bunch of different jams, and we received some peanut butter from our CSA, so I decided that it was time for me to make some bread. For the first time ever. Uh oh!

There’s a recipe in my Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook that makes a honey white bread. I’m not really partial to white bread, but I thought that it would be a simple enough recipe to start out with, plus it didn’t require a ton of research, because I already had it in my cookbook collection. I had all of the ingredients on hand, so I took a few hours on a Saturday afternoon and got to work. This recipe made two loaves of bread, so I froze one and will use it some time over the next few weeks.

Honey White Bread
from Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa At Home

1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1-1/2 cups warm whole milk
6 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
1-1/2 tablespoons honey
2 large egg yolks
5 to 6 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Place warm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Add yeast and sugar; stir and allow them to dissolve for 5 minutes.

Add the milk, butter, and honey. Mix on medium speed until blended. Add the egg yolks, 3 cups of flour and the salt. Mix on low speed for about 5 minutes. With the mixer still on low speed, add 2 more cups of flour. Raise the speed to medium and slowly add just enough of the remaining flour so the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl. Knead on medium speed for about 8 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

Dump dough onto a floured surface and knead by hand for a minute, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Grease a bowl with butter, put the dough in the bowl, then turn it over so the top is lightly buttered. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and allow to rise for 1 hour, until doubled in volume.

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans with butter. Divide the dough in half, roll each half into a loaf shape and place each in a prepared pan. Cover again with the damp towel and allow to rise again for an hour, until doubled in volume.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. When the dough is ready, brush the tops with egg white and bake for 40-45 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped. Turn them out of the pans and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

The concept of bread-baking is incredibly easy. I’m not at all afraid to try my hand at it again. With this particular recipe, I spread it out over an extended period of time, and I think that prevented my bread from turning out as spectacularly as it could have. We had a dinner party to attend, and I made the dough ahead of time, let it rise, and the refridgerated it, anticipating that I would be able to bake it once we returned home. Unfortunately, we were out pretty late, and I didn’t have enough time to bake the dough that night. I waited until the next day, but had to let the dough rise again, as it had collapsed a little after being in the fridge for so long. It turned out just fine, but I’m sure it would have been a bit lighter and more moist, had I baked it when the dough was fresh and not out of the fridge.
My next attempt will most likely involve some whole-wheat flour, but may still contain the honey. I have a lot of cooking and baking to do over the next few weeks for the holidays, so maybe after all of my seasonal stuff dies down, I’ll give another loaf a try. The moral of this post is, not to be afraid to bake bread! It’s incredibly easy, as long as you have some time and some patience.