Friday, July 2, 2010


Well fellow foodies.  I've moved my blog.  There have just been too many technical difficulties, too many things that are annoying about this particular old-time blogger template that this blog is on.  So, I hope that you will feel free to join me at my new site:

Because I think that if you do, you'll be glad you did!  I have a sweet new recipe that's perfect for the 4th, and that everyone should have in their arsenal of recipes!  See you there!

[erin's star signature]

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spicey Avocado, Fish & Black Bean Taco Salad

I found this recipe in one of my favorite books- Katie Brown's Weekends.  It's a compilation of recipes, crafts, and home decor ideas.  The thing I love about her recipes is that they're usually simple, and elegant.  She's a caterer, among other things.  This recipe is in a section where she has recipes from around the world: Morocco, France, China, and, of course, Mexico.

I made it for the first time tonight, and knew that it would be a hit.  As I was snapping shots of the finished product Don couldn't resist eating.  Between shots I asked him how it was.

"You like it?"  I coax.
"Well great," I exclaim as I take my last picture.  "Let's eat!"
"I'm already done."

I only took three pictures, and I it probably took only a minute or two.  So, these little babies are pretty good.  And if you're not a fish taco fan, you might want to change your mind.  Fish tacos should be grouped in a whole different food group from your everyday fish, because you don't really even realize that you're eating fish.  Let me put it this way:  I have a sister to abhors anything remotely fishy, and she loves fish tacos.  In fact, she's the one who introduced me to the whole concept.  Funny, huh? Of course this is taco salad, but it's pretty much a variation on a theme.

Here's the recipe.  It's a nice, fast dinner.

  • 2 lbs. cod
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • olive oil for sauteing
  • 1 cup salsa
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 can black beans, rinsed and dried
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced 
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 avocado, pitted and diced
  • corn tortillas
  • 3 cups shredded lettuce
  • sour cream (optional)
Rinse the fish and pat it dry.  Set aside.  In a bowl, combine the chili powder, brown sugar, and salt and pepper.  Rub the mixture into the fish on both sides.

Heat a little oil in a large skillet.  Saute the fish until it flakes easily.  Remove from heat.  Break the fish into large chunks.

In a bowl, combine the salsa, lime juice, black beans, green onions, cilantro, and avocado.  Warm the tortillas in the oven or on the stove top over a low flame.  Divide the fish and bean mixture equally among the tortillas.  Top with lettuce and, if desired, sour cream.

Your taco salad will never be the same. 

[erin's star signature]

Friday, February 19, 2010

French Onion Soup

I have a similar conversation with Don every time I make this soup, and it goes something like this:

"I thought you didn't like onions." Don gives me a quizzical look.
"I like this."

I really don't like onions a whole lot, well, let me rephrase that, I don't like uncooked onions.  But this doesn't fall underneath that.  And since all of the onion flavor melds with the broth and you don't have that strong onion taste burning your tongue and making your breath stink for the next 24 hours, I make an exception.  Besides, I'm mildly obessed with anything French related.
The best part about this soup??  It doesn't take a long time to make and is comprised of a small list of ingredients, and since I always have onions, I pretty much always have the ingredients for this soup.  It's a wonderful thing to make when you don't feel like cooking.  And I'm all about that.

Here's the recipe:

French Onion Soup
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large)
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 TBSP dry sherry or dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash black pepper
  • 6 slices French bread, toasted
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss, Gruyere, ro Jarlsberg cheese (4 oz., I usually only have mozzarella in fridge)
In a large saucepan, melt butter, add onions.  Cook  covered, over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until onions are tender and golden, stirring occasionally.  Stir in broth, sherry (if desired), Worcestershire sauce, and pepper.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, sprinkle toasted bread with shredded cheese.  Place bread under  broiler until cheese melts and turns light brown.  To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with bread.  I usually don't top with the bread, since I prefer to dip it.

Bon appetit!

[erin's star signature]

Monday, February 8, 2010

Best Ever Sugar Cookies

I just realized I've never put any cookies on here!  With a blog name like mine, that's almost sacrilegious.  Lucky for me it's almost Valentines.  And if you're like me, sugar cookies with pink frosting go hand-in-hand with Valentines Day.  (Don't worry Launi, your gestational diabetes will be over soon and we'll bake to our hearts delight!)  Confession:  I have the hardest time when it comes to sugar cookies.  I can never seem to get them right.  Either they're too brittle, or I didn't roll them out thick enough, or I mess up the frosting.  But, I finally found a recipe that I love!!  It's the kind-of recipe that makes people like me wonder how you did it, and if it's possible for someone under 60 who hasn't spent a huge chunk of their life in the kitchen to replicate.  And the answer is yes!  I don't know what it is about this recipe, if it's the double leavening with the baking soda and baking powder, on top of the 3 eggs that are added, but these beauties rise like you've put yeast in them.  They also have a beautifully light and soft texture.  I think that might be from the sour cream/sour milk that you add to them.  Best of all--there's no fridge time, no chilling the dough overnight, or for a few hours, or at all!  They are my one and only sugar cookie from now on.  And I'm so happy that I found them, and can finally make peace with the sugar cookie world.
I actually got the recipe from a ward cookbook.  Those people in Millville sure can cook!  That's what I love about ward cookbooks.  They're like little gems among the cookbook world.  They're tried and true recipes, and usually not anything too fancy.

So, here is this gem of a recipe:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream or 1 cup sour milk*
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 to 6 cps flour (I used 5)
  • orange zest or lemon zest-optional 
Cream butter and sugar together.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add cream/milk and dry ingredients, using only 4 cups of flour.  Add vanilla.  Gradually add just enough more flour to make it so you can roll out dough from a 1/4" to 1/3" thick on a floured surface.  Cut with cookie cutter.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes on greased cookie sheet.  Cookies will remain white.  
*To make sour milk combine 1 cup milk with 1 TBS vinegar, and let sit for 5 minutes.

Plain, simple, easy.  Frost with your favorite cream cheese, or butter cream frosting.  Or whatever frosting floats your boat. 


What is it about pink buttercream that makes me happy??  Probably nostalgia.  The frosting that I used was from none other than the famous Magnolia cookbook.  See?  I told you I'd share.  It's what compliments their famous vanilla cupcakes.  It's actually not so much a buttercream frosting as it is an old fashioned confectioners' sugar and butter frosting.  It's wonderful, and the trick is all in the mixing.  You have to mix this baby for a good while before you get the right consistency.  And for those of us without kitchen aids, it can be a lot of work, but it's worth it!

Magnolia's Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6-8 cups confectioners' sugar 
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl.  Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.  On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.  Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency.  You may not need to add all of the sugar.  If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly.  (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.)  Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  **I halved this recipe and it was just enough for all of the cookies.

[erin's star signature]

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Seven Year Granola

I have a confession to make:  this granola isn't mine.  I actually got the recipe off of the Traveler's Lunchbox blog.  It took her seven years to refine it, thus the name.  The difference between this and other granola is the use of oat flour and brown sugar, the combination of which produces a super light and flaky granola.  I love this granola, even though I'm not really a granola person.  But I tried this recipe because it made me feel nostalgic, my mother would always make granola for us.  Anyway, I ended up making it for an entire summer a couple years ago.  It's easy to make, and mixes up pretty quick, and it's healthy.  And did I mention it's economical as well??  It lasts us at least a good week, and that's with us eating it like there's no tomorrow!
Anyway, I forgot about this granola until I stumbled across the recipe last week.  I thought I'd share.  Just a note before you read the recipe, if you don't have quick oats and oat flour, no prob!  Just do what I do and for quick oats blend regular rolled oats in a food processor/blender until they're about half their normal size.  Do the same for oat flour until it reaches a flour stage.

Seven Year Granola:

  • 3 cups quick oats
  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 3 cups nuts/seeds (I like to use a mix of almonds and walnuts, but play with it!)
  • 1 cup coconut (optional, I actually added this)
  • 1 cup brown sugar,  packed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (I used salted, it's all I had)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp mace
  • 1 cup Craisins
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large bowl combine the oats, oat flour, nuts and/or seeds.  In a microwave-safe bowl or a saucepan combine the brown sugar, butter and water and heat just until the butter has melted and the mixture is bubbly (about 1 min. for the microwave).  Stir everything together until smooth, then stir in the salt, vanilla and spices.  Pour this mixture over the oats and nuts, stirring everything well to coat.  Let stand for about 10 minutes.
Spread the mixture out on a large baking sheet, separating it into irregular clumps with your fingers, and allowing space between the clumps for the hot air to circulate.  Slide into the middle of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and stir, gently breaking up the mixture into small-to-medium sized clumps.  Return to the oven and bake another 15 minutes or so before stirring again.  Repeat the bake-and-stir until the mixture is a uniform golden brown and completely dry; this usually takes 1-1 1/2 hours (for me it took 1 1/4).  Add Craisins, if using.  Cool completely before using.  Store in a covered container at room temperature.  Serve with milk or yogurt and fruit as desired.

1. Finished Product, 2. Adding quick oats, 3. Oat flour, 4. oats, coconut and nuts, 5. mixing oats, nuts and coconut, 6. uniform mix, oat and more, 7. spices, 8. unmelted spice mix, 9. Melted spice and sugar mix, 10. Oats & etc. mixed with brown sugar mix, 11. the Quaker Oat Guy, 12. ready to bake granola

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Holly Hipps' Sweet Rolls with Walnuts and Clementine

This recipe, unfortunately is not from Magnolia.  But, this is the first cinnamon roll recipe that I mastered. My mother has a divine, decadent one from the Lion House that I inherited. But I'm scared of it. It requires dough hooks for an extremely sticky dough, which results in a heavenly, moist cinnamon roll.  I used to make them perfectly, and then one day my world crashed down around me, and every time I made them they flopped. So, this is my standby.

Today, I made these rolls with the regular cinnamon-sugar filling.  Then I added some alterations: coarsely chopped walnuts and some clementine juice and zest to cream cheese frosting. The frosting is typically more of an icing, but I'm a cream cheese fan.  And I was the one making them.  The result of my hard labor?
I ate three.
By myself.
And I don't regret it. I'm excited for breakfast so I can eat more. Don said they were, "awesome". Which is high praise. Especially since he's not a frosting freak like I am. Some times I don't know how we got together.

The thing that I like about this recipe  is that Holly Hipps (a neighbor of my in-laws, and a baker to boot) has broken it down into a pretty idiot proof recipe (which I definitely needed until this last year before yeast and I became friends). Don almost didn't let me share this recipe, because it is held sacred in his family.  It's that good.  Did I mention that cinnamon rolls are fun to make?  It's the grown-ups way of playing in the mud.  I prefer to do everything by hand, stirring, kneading, spreading the butter, cinnamon sugar, etc.  There are very few tools and clean-up needed that way.  And it makes me feel like I'm five again, making mud pies.  That's where it all started.

So, here it is:


  • 1/2 c. warm water
  • 2 TBSP dry yeast
  • 1 TBSP sugar
Melt together:
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 3/4 c. shortening
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
Add the cooled shortening mixture to the yeast mixture, You don't want to add it hot because you'll kill your little yeast friends.  Then add that to the egg mixture.  Blend well, and add 7 cups of flour.  Knead several times, place in a greased bowl in a warm, draft free place.  (I like to fill a glass 9" x 13" cake pan half full of the hottest water I can get out of the tap and place it on the bottom rack of the oven.  Then I cover the greased bowl, with it's contents, with a dish towel and let it rise). Let double in size.  You will know it is double the size when you stick your index finger in and it leaves an indentation in the dough.  Punch down (my favorite part), roll out to about 1/2-1/4 inch flat in a rectangle shape.  Soften one cube of butter, and spread with hands (or a pastry brush if you're a pansy) on the now rectangle dough.  Make a cinnamon-sugar mixture (I guest-a-mate, but it works out, I did 3 TBSP of sugar to about a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon) and sprinkle THICKLY over the butter.  There's nothing worse than bland cinnamon rolls.  Sprinkle with coarsely chopped walnuts.  Roll the long side to form a little cin-a-dough log.  Then, (and this is my other favorite part), take a string and slip it underneath the log, then switch both strands from one hand to the other so that they are crossing, pull, and cut sections measuring about 1 inch wide.  Place on buttered (because you're worth it) cookie sheet.  Repeat with remaining dough. Let rise until double the size.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes (mine were a little less, ovens vary, so check on your rolls, if the smell done, they probably are). 

  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1 pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 to 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • about 1 TBSP fresh clementine juice (or to taste)
  • 1 to 2 tsp(s) of clementine zest
Clementine Frosting:

Combine butter and cream cheese, beat with a mixer until light and fluffy.  Add sugar, one cup at a time until mixture reaches spreading consistency.   Add juice and zest.  The juice will change the consistency of the frosting, so you might need to add more sugar.

Alternate Icing:

  • 1/2 c. margarine/butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
Mix all ingredients and add enough canned milk until smooth.  Frost over cooled sweet rolls.

Spread icing/frosting with a rubber spatula on cooled cinnamon rolls.  Or, if you're like me, warm rolls since I can never wait until they cool to eat them, and I like the half-melted frosting look.
[erin's star signature]

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Aaaah, Magnolia

Look at what I got myself for my birthday.

I'm so happy.  Magnolia.  Or as, Lilly, my sister-in-law says, "Mongolia."  (She gets the two mixed up sometimes.  Even though one is a country and the other a flower. It's endearing, dearest Lilly.)  I have been in love with the Magnolia Bakery in New York since I picked up a copy of the Reader's Digest four years ago and they were rated as one of America's top bakeries.  Since then I have scoured the internet trying to find out top secret information about the bakery.  How do they do their swirl?  Are any of their recipes on the internet?  Then, a mere half week ago I found this beautiful cookbook.  It's what dreams are made out of.  It has everything from ice cream to sweetbreads to cheese pies.  Oh yes, cheese pies.  I had to have it.  Don't worry, I'll share.  Although, the cookbook still doesn't show how to do that dang swirl.

[erin's star signature]

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sourdough Starter

Sourdough starter is a thing I've feared for years. I was feeling ambitious back in my high school days and decided that I wanted to make some. I felt like I went on a wild goose chase, and all of my grand ambitions vanished. Two months ago, the ambition resurfaced. This time, I was more successful. That's not to say that I didn't run into problems. It's a very confusing process, trying to figure out how to get sourdough starter. It's also very frustrating. But, now I've done the work for you, and I'll give you the watered down version of how to get this marvelous little wonder food. And it is marvelous. In Alaska, during the gold rush days, sourdough starter was considered extremely precious because it was a source of food--baked goods no less. The workers would keep it in dough form, and put it close to their bodies while they worked so it would stay alive. And it is alive, those little wild yeast friend of ours.
So, think about that while you read the following. There are three kinds of ways that you can get sourdough starter:

  1. You can get some from someone who currently has starter.  People claim to have strains that came across the plains on the Oregon trail.  How cool is that??  There's also a website called King Arther Flour that sells sourdough starter.  Their strain of wild yeast was developed back East and has been around for over 250 years.  How cool is that??  Here's the link:  You can buy an ounce of starter for about seven dollars, and it comes with instructions and recipes.    I really need to break down and buy some, because I'm dying to compare it to the starter that I made.  Which brings me to option number two:  make your own.
  2. You can make your own starter either by catching wild yeast that resides in the air, the flour that you're using, the potato water that you saved, the red cabbage leaf  or grape that you put in it.  There are lots of ways to capture wild yeast.  And they all have a slightly different flavor depending on your method.  This is the old school way, the way that all sourdough snobs swear by.  The one that old-timers will recall with fondness and tell you firmly, "You don't use anything in your starter except flour and water!!" least that's what Don's grandpa told us.  And this brings me to option number three:
  3. You cheat.  By giving your starter a boost with domestic yeast.  That's what I did, and it's worked out loverly for me.  Don't tell Don's grandpa.  My little starter baby is now 2 1/2 months old, and thriving.  I gauge it's health by how well it works, and the amount of liquid (called "hooch" in sourdough language) that collects on the top.  Hooch is a good sign, and nothing to be afraid of.  It's kind-of like mild, harmless, beer...that won't get you drunk.  It's a byproduct that shows that your yeast is thriving.  If your starter is dry, stir it in, if it's just right, pour it off.  Oh, bytheway, should you make your own starter, and the bread doesn't taste very sourdoughy, don't worry, the starter will get stronger with time.  Here's a picture of what my starter looks like:

See the layer of liquid?  Hooch!  It's kind-of scary looking, I know.  Here's how it looks after it's been stirred in:

 It looks a little better now.   Here's the recipe for the starter, should you decide to make your own.  In later posts I'll show you how to take care of and use your starter.

Sourdough Starter
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
Dissolve your yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water.  Stir in the remaining warm water, flour, and sugar.  Using a wooden spoon (you don't want to use any metal when working with starter, no metal bowls, spoons, etc.  It reacts funny with the yeast), beat until smooth (you don't have to get all the lumps out, it's somewhat impossible, as it sits the lumps will go away).  cover with a cotton cheese cloth (I just use a dish towel).  Let stand at room temp. for 5 to 10 days (the time will depend on how warm your kitchen is, the warmer it is, the sooner your starter will be done).  Stir 2 to 3 times a day until starter is bubbly and fermented.

To store your starter you can use a glass/plastic/special sourdough crock that is about double the size of the amount of starter you have.  Make sure it has a lid, and make sure none of the starter gets on the mouth area, because the stuff acts like concrete, and it will be tough to get it off.  

I'll blog more about how to take care of your starter soon!  In the meantime, try it out, it'll surprise you with how uncomplicated it is.

[erin's star signature]

Why Engineers Don't Write Recipe Books

I got this in an e-mail from my Honey.;)  I don't think I've laughed so hard in a while.  My favorite part is where it has you use sieve size #10.  Five points to anyone who makes these cookies!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1. 532.35 cm3 gluten
2. 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
3. 4.9 cm3 refined halite
4. 236.6 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride
5. 177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11
6. 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11
7. 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde
8. Two calcium carbonate-encapsulated avian albumen-coated protein
9. 473.2 cm3 theobroma cacao
10. 236.6 cm3 de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size #10)

To a 2 litre jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 Btu/°F-ft2-hr, add ingredients one, two and three with constant agitation. In a second 2 litre reactor vessel with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients four, five, six, and seven until the mixture is homogenous.
To reactor #2, add ingredient eight, followed by three equal volumes of the homogenous mixture in reactor #1. Additionally, add ingredient nine and ten slowly, with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.
Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piece-meal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm). Heat in a 460°K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnston's first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown. Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25°C heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.
- Anon

[erin's star signature]

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Grandpa Leavitt's Sourdough Waffles

For those of you who aren't sourdough fans, hear me out-neither was I. I recently learned that not all sourdough tastes sour. Me oh my. You can make almost anything with sourdough, anything that requires yeast, you can switch it out, it's a fabulous leavening. This has caused me to go on a sourdough kick.

A mere three days ago, when I made my own sourdough waffles for the first time. Had I had them before? Yes, I grew up on these babies, after all, I inherited the recipe from my mother. But, I had forgotten how fluffy, flavorful, and delicious they were!!! And so I made them again the other day, so I could share all of my loyal food blog readers, which I think consists of three people at the most. I'm not sure, so far only Launi has commented (thanks ShLauna, I love you!!) So, I bring you, sourdough waffles.


  • 2 cups of overnight starter*
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp of oil
  • 4 tbsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 level tsp of baking soda
Overnight starter
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 cups of sourdough starter 
Mix until smooth and set aside for about eight hours (or overnight).  This replenishes and proofs your sourdough starter at the same time, making it so that the yeast is activated.

In the morning, take out the two cups of the sourdough starter needed for the waffles, and store the rest in your fridge.  (Or if you plan on using it everyday, there are specifically designed, dark crocks for sourdough starter, which will enable you to leave it out on the counter at room temperature.)

Next, Mix starter, eggs, oil, sugar, salt and baking soda all in a non-metal bowl.  NEVER, I repeat, NEVER use any metal when you are cooking with sourdough.  It causes a strange reaction with the starter.  So, mix with a wooden spoon.  It's good for your arm muscles.

Pour onto preheated and greased waffle iron.  The waffles will steam.  You will know that they are done when they stop steaming.

I love waffles.

Hello, darlings!  You make me so happy.  Seriously, I made this batch up just for me the other day (I halved the recipe) and didn't need to eat until dinner, but it was worth it.  Oh, yes.

Bon appetit!

[erin's star signature]