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Archive for the ‘Sweet’ Category

Smiles on a random weeknight.

Ben and I made these Bourbon Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes from Jessica at How Sweet It is. This girl is a fellow ‘burgher and has an awesome blog full of amazing looking recipes. These were darn tasty and very rich. I could have went for slightly more spice but the general idea of adding bourbon to a milkshake is life changing.

After the milkshakes, I went a little bourbon crazy and also made the Salted Brown Butter Bourbon Rice Krispy Treats from last week’s Post Gazette. I took them to a party and people kind of went nuts for them. The novelty of bourbon in a childhood snack pretty much had everyone talking about and trying the treats. I would definitely make these again, possibly adding a little bit more than six cups of rice krispies – mine were a little overly gooey.

I also enjoyed a nice bourbon and coke while dressed up as Wonder Woman for Halloween. I might be bourboned-out for a bit. I’ll be back though.

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Pumpkin Cupcakes

As you may be able to tell from the photo, I made these cupcakes a few weeks ago. It doesn’t look quite that green or pretty in Pittsburgh anymore.

I used this recipe from Eat, Live, Run. A perfect fall treat. Lightly spiced cake and cream cheese frosting. I took these to a birthday party gathering and while I saw a few people digging in,  I would guess the sugary cupcakes tasted even better as breakfast the morning after the (drinking) festivities.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with cake for breakfast, in my opinion.

I also made these pumpkin brownies last weekend. I am always unsure of the pumpkin/chocolate combination but I really liked these. I added a little extra cocoa to the brownie portion of the batter and did not attempt any type of swirling of the two batters. I simply dumped the chocolate in first and the pumpkin on top. I sprinkled some mini chocolate chips and extra walnuts on top halfway through baking.  My boyfriend crushed about half the pan in a 3 day span and my Monday night Dancing with the Stars crew (hello there!) finished off the rest.

What is your favorite fall treat?

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So these brownies were a baking experiment for an upcoming themed party I am throwing. Overall, they got mixed reviews from the friends and family. They do pack a bit of a kick, with cayenne pepper, chili powder, and cinnamon in the batter.

Ben and I agreed that the taste is certainly not unpleasant but would keep you from eating a whole pan. Which is completely possible when it comes to brownies. It is called brownie madness and sometimes you cannot fight it.

I followed this recipe. Even with the interesting spices, I thought this base recipe was solid – great texture and chocolate taste. It might be my new go-to brownie recipe. Apparently there are varying schools of brownie-thought regarding whether cocoa powder alone will make a good brownie or if melted baker’s chocolate is needed. This recipe uses cocoa powder. I have done the melted chocolate before (namely the ‘Baked’ version), but after this recipe I may not go back.

Any other tasty variations of brownies out there I need to try?

The Brown Eyed Baker, another Pittsburgh based blogger, recently posted a ‘Top Ten’ brownie list. Check it out here. Considering my boyfriend is kind of a brownie-monster, I may try and slowly make my way through that whole list. Delicious.

Edit: I made these again with half the cayenne and chili powder and the same amount of cinnamon. Perfect! I would suggest you make these modifications too unless you want them hot, hot, hot!

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Father’s Day

In order to celebrate this fantastic guy:

I made this tasty pie:

That would be a key lime pie made from fresh hand squeezed key limes, thank yoouuuu. (Whole Foods seems to be a reliable source for key limes). Other than the squeezing, this pie is super easy, especially when you use a store-bought crust and Cool Whip.

You can find the recipe here. Bright, light, tart and creamy.

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Sunday Morning

One.

Two.

Three.

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Over the last month, I have fallen into a nice Sunday night routine. I pick a new recipe, gather the ingredients, and bake something yummy (hopefully) that will carry me through lunches and snacks during the coming week.

The biggest challenge during this routine is not eating 3 or 4 of the cookies/muffins/cupcakes that come out of the oven at 9PM or so.  What? Any reasonable person would taste the goods hot out of the oven, after they have had a chance to cool, and somewhere in between.

Recent Hits

Rosemary & Walnut Scones (Adapted from Alton Brown – click here for recipe)

I really like scones. My favorites are at Café Raymond in the Strip – huge, crumbly but not dry, and not too sweet. One Saturday morning, I happened upon rosemary walnut scones there – divine.  My re-created effort was pretty good but the texture was different. Alton Brown’s recipe seems to result in a more biscuit-like and buttery scone. I may attempt to further tweak the recipe due to personal preference, but it is delicious as is. Probably all that butter, cream, and shortening 🙂 .

I omitted the currants called for in the recipe and added approximately 1 cup of chopped walnuts and 1T of chopped rosemary.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies (From Sugar Plum – click here for recipe)

I am always on the hunt for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe. I tried this one for a cookout and liked it! I am not sure it was good enough to give up my chocolate chip cookie recipe hunt but the cookies looked good and tasted pretty yummy. They were more crunchy than soft. I did omit the walnuts – maybe they would catapult the cookie to ‘best ever’ standards?

Recent Misses

Cornmeal and Strawberry Muffins (from Post-Gazette – click here for recipe)

While these were tasty straight out of the oven, they kind of had a funky texture and taste by the next day. I would not recommend these muffins.

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Blueberries and Quinoa

Tax season has put quite the damper on my kitchen time (as well as my life in general – boo).

However, here are a few quicks links to items I have made recently and liked.

Blueberry Spelt Muffins

After randomly buying spelt flour during a stop at the new Market District near Robinson, I started looking up recipes to use the new ingredient. Spelt is a different type of wheat and is considered nuttier and sweeter than whole wheat. Spelt flour also contains more protein than regular wheat (according to Wikipedia of course). I really liked these muffins. They puffed up to the perfect shape and had great texture. 

Notes: I used butter rather than canola oil and frozen blueberries rather than fresh. I also used blueberry yogurt in place of the applesauce.

Turkey and Quinoa Loaf

The long hours I work this time of year usually lead to lousy/lazy dinners. I wanted to try and make something I could eat over a few days time and would actually resemble a home-cooked, balanced meal when paired with some quick steamed vegetables. I also had a random box of quinoa banging around in my pantry (aka the largest deep drawer in my tiny kitchen). I liked this loaf. I ate it plain, with potatoes, with veggies, and on a sandwich.

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Recipe: Carrot Cake

Last weekend, The Boy and I celebrated Valentine’s Day. We started by cruising the Strip District Saturday morning, grabbing donuts and coffee and cheese and lobster. The Boy allowed time for us (me) to peek my head in every shop and take my time perusing the goods. This is my kind of date 🙂

After our Strip District jaunt, The Boy and I parted ways. I was to arrive back at his place around 7PM. My job was to bring dessert and come hungry.

Now I know Valentine’s Day means chocolate for many. However, The Boy is not a chocolate fan and wanting to please my own Valentine, I went for something just as delicious. Carrot cake.

shredding the carrots was a breeze with my food processor

I used Alton Brown’s recipe –

Carrot Cake (from foodnetwork.com – see recipe here) 

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter, for the pan
  • 12 ounces, approximately 2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
  • 12 ounces grated carrots, medium grate, approximately 6 medium
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/3 cups
  • 2 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup firmly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 ounces plain yogurt
  • 6 ounces vegetable oil
  • Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9-inch round and 3-inch deep cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

Put the carrots into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add this mixture to the carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour.

In the bowl of the food processor combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt.

With the processor still running drizzle in the vegetable oil. Pour this mixture into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cake reaches 205 to 210 degrees F in the center.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan. After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.

(Notes: I halved this recipe and baked in a round 6 by 2 inch cake pan. I used almost all the batter save for maybe a few tablespoons.)

 Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 9 ounces powdered sugar, sifted, approximately 2 cups

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter on medium just until blended. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the speed on low, add the powdered sugar in 4 batches and beat until smooth between each addition.

Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using.

Yield: approximately 2 cups

(Notes: Again, I halved the amounts for the frosting. I also made this using a hand mixer.)

 The cake had wonderful flavor. This is also a carrot cake sans nuts, raisins, or anything of that nature. Although I love all those add ins, I appreciated the simplicity of this particular cake.

However, the texture was slightly off. I don’t know if I possibly messed up the measurements while halving the recipe? There was this very slight rubbery texture to the cake – like one might get when making a lowfat muffin. Hmm. I think was likely a result of my tinkering with the recipe and using a different pan.

The cake was still a hit though (loved the smaller size pan and resulting cake – more suitable for two) and enjoyed with a wonderful meal prepared by The Boy. The meal started with cheeses and meats from PennMac, served with homemade Italian bread The Boy had baked. Swoon. I was then served hand-made lobster ravioli (again, made by The Boy) in a saffron and lobster broth. Amazing. How did I get this guy again?

🙂

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Update

So I have certainly been MIA. I blogged over a week ago about plans for 2010 and my resolve to get some good content on to Snickie.

And then real life happened.

Last week brought a family medical emergency and the beginning of the dreaded ‘busy season’ in accounting. This combination resulted in dinners of jarred spaghetti sauce over pasta all last week. It ain’t always glamorous folks. I did manage to force down some salads here and there – I hope this half-ass effort at balanced eating will keep me going.

Le sigh.

Before the storm of last week hit, I did manage to try a few new recipes. Two weekends ago, I prepped:

Beef Burgundy

Fennel and Orange Salad

Sour Cream Banana Bread

The beef was good but a little salty. I would possibly cut back on the soy sauce if I made this again. Also, it needs to cook for seven hours. If you decide to eat it after cooking for only five hours because it is already almost 8PM, it will be a little chewy. Noted. This recipe was mainly a reason to test out my new slow cooker. It was tasty enough. Leftovers were frozen.

I really loved the fennel and orange salad. I used one fennel bulb, two oranges, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and fresh mint. I will make this again.

The banana bread was awesome. This quick bread will definitely be in the rotation. The loaf was made on a Saturday night, quietly chipped away at all week, and was gone by the following Saturday. Did I mention I live by myself? I did make this with low-fat sour cream.

Additionally, I have seen some cool food stuff in the PG lately. I want to try it all out!

New Annex Cookery in Homestead – Mom of Snickie visited last weekend. She found the shop pleasant and hoped to visit the cafe attached but it was closed (Sunday morning). Check the hours if you plan to check it out.

Winter Cherry Tomato Pasta  – Looks tasty and quick.

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This holiday season absolutely flew by. I traveled most of December for work and while I loved seeing other cities dressed up for Christmas, I missed a bit of the cheer in my own backyard!

Nevertheless, I still managed to bake a bit, cook a bit, party it up a bit, and eat and drink a bit.

Here are some Snickie holiday highlight:

Snickie Decor:

I am slowly amassing some holiday decorations for the Snickie-pad. Last year I started down a silver and gold themed path. I did not add much to the collection this year. However, what I do have lends a simple festive look to my little apartment.

Snickie Kitchen:

My ‘cooking’ during this holiday season consisted of cookies and appetizers. Here are some recipes I tried out.

Sugar Cookies – old faithful. However, my dough was very dry to the point of almost being crumbly this year. I added some milk and moved on and they seemed to taste good in the end.

Ginger Spice Cookies – spicy. I love these cookies. Once again though, they seemed to flatten out dramatically on me. Hmmm. I am beginning to think my knock-off Silpat is the culprit.

Pine Bark – addicting. I also used my ‘Silpat’ with this recipe and I had issues with the bark never really firming up. It was still tasty and crunchy.

Puppy Chow – again, addicting. This one turned out just right. Can’t really mess this up.

Hot Crab Dip – tasty enough. This creamy dip was eaten up at the events I took it too. However, the addition of the hot sauce had it tasting a little too close to its buffalo chicken dip cousin, if you ask me. I may tone down the hot sauce if I made this again.

Kielbasa Bites – I made this dish for a holiday work pot-luck event. Kielbasa just generally isn’t my favorite, but I wanted to bring something different. I liked the spicy, sweet and sour notes of the sauce.

I usually would cook a bit more during the holidays, particularly cookies and other items to take to parties. However, with this year being particularly busy, I often relied on a bottle of wine or champagne instead. This worked pretty well – you rarely can go wrong with booze.

Snickie Party-Time:

Soooo many social events were packed in to the month of December. I attended three parties at the homes of friends. Highlights were cranberry champagne cocktails, home-made pad thai, intense aged scotch, a tasty cappuccino punch, and certainly the company of beloved friends.

I also attended a baby shower during the holiday season. Being so close to the heavy eating of the holidays, the hostess opted for a ‘make your own salad’ spread. It was perfectly light and refreshing. This was a great idea for a shower.

I made it to a Pens game too!

And of course I visited some Pittsburgh restaurants during the holiday season:

Nakama – A trip to Nakama was in order to celebrate a belated birthday. Nakama is a wildly popular hibachi and sushi joint on Carson Street. Our table had a massive amount of food. While Nakama isn’t my favorite spot in the Southside, it is definitely a fun place.  I suppose I am just not wowed by the large portions of so-so food. However, although some knock their sushi, I really think it is decent. You could certainly do worse.

Paris 66 Bistro – I ended up at Paris 66 (6018 Centre) a few days before Christmas. I am not sure this visit made me want to rush back. I had the ‘La Marais’ crepe and found the salad portion overwhelming and the dressing odd. Additionally, it was 80 degrees (we could see the thermostat) in the restaurant. While I greatly appreciated the warmth (it was freezing outside that night) this was a bit much. Most of group had sweaters on and were melting. The waitress was a bit aloof. I am not totally sold on this place yet. (see my previous visit here).

Snickie Christmas – Foodie Style:

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day went by in a total flash. Christmas Eve started with early morning homemade Italian donuts at the The Boy’s grandparents’ house. Amazing. From there, The Boy and I dashed to his father’s house for more family time, complete with mimosas. After a short reprieve and mass, it was back to the grandparents’ house for the feast of the seven fishes. They end up with more than seven types of fish – this meal truly is a feast. I had pasta with anchovies, smelts, oysters, shrimp, lobster, crab, scallops, and tuna stuffed calamari. Everything was divine. The work that goes in to this meal is mind-blowing.

After this gorge, The Boy and I got back in the car to head to my family’s Christmas Eve celebration. While I did not eat much here, there was a spread of ham, cheesy potatoes, peel and eat shrimp, cookies, etc. Whew.

Christmas morning brought more mimosas at my parents’ house. Then it was off to my grandparents’ house for more family time. The spread there was brunch/lunch like. I couldn’t resist the old Pittsburgh favorites – I had my share of buffalo chicken dip and crab dip. More shrimp was consumed.

And finally, the home stretch! Christmas dinner was had at The Boy’s house. We had stuffed veal breast, homemade apple sauce, green beans, rolls, and a custard napoleon for dessert. I also had a lovely Barolo during this meal.

Of course, all these amazing meals were shared with lovely family. I felt very grateful to be so blessed this holiday season.

Snickie Haul:

Apparently word has gotten around that I like this food and cooking stuff. I got a ton of food-centric gifts! Thank you fam! I got a slow cooker, a new blender like contraption (supposed to be amazing for smoothies!), a waffle iron, wine and limoncello, and some various spices. Can’t wait to put all these to good use.

And then, the day after Christmas, I went to Costa Rica! Stay tuned for the recap!

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