Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Four Weeks of Cookies: Santa Hat Cake Pops

Next up in Four Weeks of Cookies...drum roll... CAKE POPS! And not just regular cake pops, santa hat cake pops, just in time for Christmas. Merry Christmas, y'all!

It's been a while since I last made cake pops. I try to make them about once a year, but hadn't gotten around to it yet in 2013. Luckily, my coworker told me he loves cake pops, so I promised to make a batch during the holidays. I had already done reindeer, Christmas trees and snowmen in years past, so this year I opted for the last holiday-themed design in my cookbook, santa hats. While they appear simpler than some of my previous batches, looks are deceiving. Because they are red and white, as opposed to one solid color, they require triple dipping. Oof.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Four Weeks of Cookies: Snickery Squares

Today, Four Weeks of Cookies continues with a non-traditional selection. This 'cookie' is of the bar variety- made up of a layer of buttery shortbread, topped with a layer of dulce de leche and caramelized peanuts, and finished with a layer of rich chocolate and a sprinkling of nuts. It's like a grown-up version of a Snickers bar (hence the name). If all of that sounds appetizing to you, then congratulations, you're a sane human being.  If not, then get the heck out of here, because these bars are freakin' delicious and you don't deserve them.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Four Weeks of Cookies: Big Kid Thumbprints

 Four Weeks of Cookies is back, my friends! One cookie recipe for each week in December, in an effort to pack as much baking as possible into the holiday season. This year I promise to be more timely in my posts, i.e. I won't finish the series in March this time, and I will also be providing some more interesting cookie recipes. I may be a bit liberal with what counts as a cookie, spice it up with some cake pops, even. But who cares, it's all in the name of deliciousness and holiday cheer, so here we go.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Lentil Meatballs with Lemon Pesto

Happy belated Thanksgiving, y'all! I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday and the subsequent food coma. I spent several days at home, visiting with my family and my adorable pups (see below). There was a bit of shopping, a bit more football and a whole lot of food. After the holiday weekend I had, I'll definitely be turning to some lighter fare this week to recover. If you're on the same page, definitely give these lentil meatballs a try. Technically, they're not 'meatballs' as they're vegetarian, but I'm going to go ahead and call them that anyway, as lentillballs doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Halloween, friends! I hope everyone has some fun plans and great costumes in store. Pat and I dressed up as Pam and Jim from The Office (alternatively, a three-hole punch and a cat, if you're not an Office fan) this past weekend, but I'm still waiting for an inspired idea to come to me for the real deal on Thursday. 

Anyhow, in honor of Halloween, I bring you my first pumpkin treat of the season (drum roll, please)... pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I've always enjoyed this variety of cookies, but have never gotten around to making a batch myself (Editor's note: this is false. Discovered a recipe for pumpkin pecan chocolate chip cookies w/ frosting in my archives. Oops). Let me say, if you're looking for a low effort goodie for Halloween or for fall in general, these cookies are an excellent option. They couldn't be easier. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Goodbye, Summer! (And Peach Pie)

It was a brief summer here in Chicago and a busy one at that, but I still managed to fit in a few trips to Pat's family's lake house in Michigan. The house is in Union Pier, a little over an hour's drive from the city, which makes for an easy weekend escape. Union Pier is a cute little town with a great muffin spot and a solid farmers' market within walking distance from the house. I always try and hit up the farmers' market while I'm there. They have high-quality fresh produce and some homemade jams that are to die for.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Let me start by saying, I've never been a big fan of poppy seed muffins. With the myriad of muffin varieties out there, poppy seed has just never been my first choice...or my second...or third, fourth or fifth. But when you're baking for others, you make things that aren't your favorite and sometimes you discover new favorites along the way.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mexican Quinoa Bowl

Hello, friends! It's been forever, I know. Work has been busy. Life has gotten in the way. Sometimes it's hard to come home at the end of the day and blog when all I want to do is collapse in front of the TV. I've done a whole lot of that as of late, and I'm going to try and strike a better balance moving forward. A little less lounging and a little more cooking/blogging. I can't tell others to make time in their busy schedules to cook, if I'm not going to practice what I preach.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cantuccini aka Almond Biscotti

One thing you should know about me is I love coffee. Almost as much as I love chocolate (emphasis on the almost). I drink it at all times of the day, but I'm particularly fond of the afternoon coffee pick-me-up, and no such experience is truly complete without a crunchy biscotti to dunk in your caffeinated beverage. I am partial to almond, or sometimes a chocolate variation, if I'm feeling indulgent.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Four Weeks of Cookies: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

 I know it's slightly ridiculous, but I feel like I should finish my Four Weeks of Cookies series, albeit three months late. So here it is, the fourth and final cookie recipe of the series (not like I won't have a million more posts about cookies in the future, but whatever…) ­— oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Could you make this cookie during the holiday season for a party or cookie swap? Sure. But you can also make it at any other time during the year, because it is a classic. A cookie for all seasons.

This is my all-time favorite cookie recipe, my go-to, my signature. So it's kind of a big deal that I'm sharing it with you guys. It's originally adapted from the recipe for Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies printed inside the top of every container of Quaker Oats. Personally, I believe that some of the world's most tried and true baking recipes come from various ingredient packages, boxes, and bags. These recipes are simple, but they work. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dining Out in Chicago: Blackbird

I walked into Blackbird at 5:30 on a Saturday evening in early March. After several hours exploring the Art Institute with my sister, I had worked up quite the appetite and was ready to sit down and decompress. I was pleased with the scene that greeted us upon our arrival. The restaurant was relatively quiet, with only a handful of tables occupied. Soft light spilled in through the floor to ceiling glass facade as Beach House played in the background.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl

I have a confession to make. I've really fallen off the healthy lifestyle wagon this year. I've been super busy and feeling totally unmotivated, which has resulted in a lot of ordering in and a lack of regular exercise. Consequently, I haven't been looking or feeling my best the last couple of months. BUT, I'm back on track! The past two weeks I've been eating healthy again (minus the occasional weekend treat) and have upped my workouts back to 5 times a week. I can't wait until the Chicago weather warms up enough for me to start running again, but until then I'm doing a combination of spin and barre classes at a local studio. (Quick plug: Fit Girl Studio in Lincoln Park is wonderful and I recommend it to all ladies in the area. They do spin, yoga, and barre, all of which are fantastic.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sizzling Shrimp

This shrimp dish is absolutely perfect. It's a simple preparation with minimal ingredients that is incredibly flavorful. Tender shrimp with just the tiniest hint of spice are bathed in a heavenly seafood broth and finished off with a spritz of fresh Italian parsley. The shrimp are delicious, but the real star here is the broth. Give me a fresh loaf of bread (or a spoon for that matter) and I could eat it all day.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Moroccan Lentil Soup

As I’ve mentioned before, soups are one of my favorite things to make when it’s cold outside. Apart from being hot and delicious, they’re hard to mess up and generally only involve a couple of dirty dishes. Plus they make a large number of servings that can be stored in the fridge for easy dinners or brown bag lunches. Also, soup is one of the easiest dishes to make both super healthy and tasty. I only wish I loved cold soups as much as I love hot ones, that way I could get my fix all year round. But alas, a big bowl of gazpacho just doesn’t do the trick. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Four Weeks of Cookies: Red Velvet Black and White Cookies

"Red velvet black and white cookies? Is this real life?"

Those were my first thoughts when I stumbled upon the recipe for these magical cookies. They seemed too good to be true, like zero calorie ice cream or Hogwarts. But, lo and behold they do actually exist; in fact, they are the brainchild of one Mrs. Rachael Ray. I'm not a big RR fan and Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off may be one of the most ridiculous shows on television (Coolio was a finalist?!? Come on.), but I have to give the woman props for these cookies. They are sheer genius.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Scrambled Egg Tartine with Smoked Salmon & Herb Cream Cheese

Remember a few months ago when I said I wanted to become "master of the egg one preparation at a time"? Well, I had recently become unemployed and figured I needed some goals for while I was in between jobs, other than finding a new job, that is. Now I'm starting a new job on Monday (!) and I've only managed to master 2 egg preparations. So much for that idea... Maybe I'll make it more of a long-term goal.

While I've only perfected 2 techniques, I have to say the ones I've chosen have come in extremely handy. In my first post I taught you all about the olive oil fried egg and now we're on to soft, creamy scrambled eggs. Both preparations are extremely versatile and are great tools to have in your back pocket. Whether it's a lazy Sunday morning or a late night craving, as long as you have some eggs, you'll be prepared.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Carrot & Ginger Dressing

Hello, friends! It's been awhile, I know. December kind of got away from me. Now it's mid-January and I have yet to write my first post of 2013. I apologize, and I vow to make it up to you by finishing the Four Weeks of Cookies series (albeit a little late). There may be a few non-cookie recipes, such as this one, thrown in here and there, because after the excess of the holidays, I'm trying to eat super healthy. That means no gluten, dairy, eggs, red meat, or sugar, and tons of fruits and veggies. It's been rough (and I may have cheated a few times, shhh!), but it feels good to get back on track with regular healthy eating and exercising. And it's led me to discover some really tasty recipes that make me forget about my beloved bread and desserts, at least temporarily.