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Blondies

My blog is unbalanced. Originally, I envisioned a better balance between savory and sweet…but I think sweet is slightly ahead. I do have a few delicious meals to blog about, but I am more excited about these blondies!

Mary Kathryn had quite the day yesterday—the kind that clearly needs to end with something buttery and warm. She’s been talking about these “amazing” blondies that she had a few weeks back, so I figured I would take a stab at them.

As it turns out, the only plain blondies recipe I could find was in the Williams-Sonoma Cookie Cookbook. Luckily, the recipe was super easy, and jazzed it up a bit with a little chocolate drizzle. The blondies turned out rather well, and I might even make them again for our BBQ today!

Blondies

From: Williams-Sonoma Cookies

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter

1-1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan, line the bottom with parchment (baking) paper, and grease the parchment.
  2. Sift the flour and salt together onto a sheet of waxed paper, and set aside.
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and brown sugar. Heat, stirring often, until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook about 1 minute longer; the mixture will bubble but not boil. Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla to the cooled sugar mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Sprinkle the sifted flour and salt over the sugar mixture and stir until just blended.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with a spatula and smoothing the top. Bake until the center is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Do not overbake. Transfer the pan to a wire rack until cool enough to handle.
  6. Run a small knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cookie. Invert onto the rack, lift off the pan, and then carefully peel off the parchment paper. Let cool completely on the rack before cutting into 2-inch squares.

Three Cheese Bread (aka: cheesy bread)

If you make this bread, the number of friends you have will increase exponentially.

If you make this bread for a party, you are guaranteed to get an invitation to the next big bash.

Seriously, this bread is a hunk of cheesy, greasy heaven. It’s super simple to make, but the crosshatch pattern that creates the little fingers just makes it party food; all the guests immediately dive in and then bond as they hold their messy hands in the air while searching for napkins. A family friend gave us the recipe several years back, and I could not even tell you the number of times I have made it. My friends kindly informed me last night that I could easily assemble the bread and mail it unbaked directly to their dorm rooms at school. Right…

Admittedly, I cannot take credit for the first picture on this post; Mary Kathryn traded her photography services for my cooking services. Not a bad deal.

Three Cheese Bread (aka: cheesy bread)

1 round of Sourdough Bread
1-½ cups freshly grated cheese (combination of Swiss, Gruyere, Parmesan)
¾ cup butter, softened
1-2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
kosher salt
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
red pepper flakes

  1. Blend butter, salt, and garlic in a small food processor.
  2. Add the grated cheese and blend until just combined.
  3. Slice the bread about 1-inch apart and again at 90° making a checker board-type pattern. Cut as low as you can get without cutting the bread apart.
  4. Spread/cram the cheese mixture between the cut faces of the bread. Sprinkle a little extra grated cheese on top.
  5. Place the bread on a cookie sheet and bake at 365° for about 25 minutes or until the cheese looks thoroughly melted and the top of the bread is golden brown.
  6. On a large serving platter, pour a thin base of olive oil and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar.
  7. Sprinkle red pepper flakes on the oil and vinegar base.
  8. When the bread comes out of the oven, place on the platter.
  9. Make sure that the platter is large enough so you can dip the bread chunks easily in the oil and vinegar mix.

Going Greek

We have one pasta salad that we make. Every time we want pasta salad. It’s really tasty and I love it, but it in the spirit of trying new recipes, we wanted something a bit different. We went to Costco for water and blueberries (blueberry pie post to come…) and on the way home, brainstormed the possibilities. Rather than trying to find the perfect recipe in one our bajillions of cookbooks (I might have an addiction to buying cookbooks), we decided to create our own. And we went greek.

Regardless of the fact that we are not professionals, we like to improvise. I truly tried to keep track of the specific amounts of each ingredient we used, but no guarantees. Still, the recipe is quite easy and would taste good no matter what.

Greek Pasta Salad

Vinaigrette
1 minced garlic clove
2 tbls. olive oil
1 tbls. red wine vinegar
1 tbls. lemon juice
pinch dried oregano

8 oz. cooked penne pasta, cooled
2/3 cup canned artichoke hearts, quartered
½ cup cucumbers, peeled and diced
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles

salt
pepper

  1. Combine all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small jar and shake to combine
  2. Mix the penne and the next 6 ingredients (through the feta cheese)
  3. Toss with the vinaigrette (add as much or as little as you would like)
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste

let me quantify…

I realize before I embark on my little excursion, I need to quantify the extent to which I feel comfortable in the kitchen. I think this list might provide an accurate picture:

  • Currently, it would suffice to describe myself as my mom’s personal sous chef. I am perfectly qualified to construct a salad, chop vegetables and, most importantly, wash dishes. I suppose dish-washing is my core kitchen competency. A mother’s dream…
  • I can make salsa and guacamole without a recipe. Yes! Points for me.
  • I’ve mastered the Toll-House chocolate chip cookie recipe.
  • I can make pasta (not from scratch, of course), but I am deathly afraid that I will undercook or overcook it.
  • I would go out to dinner before I serve guests meat. I would either poison them with raw chicken or make them gag with the equivalent of rubber chicken. Cute.
  • I’ve technically made a few dinners, pasta and such, but not without the guiding hands and eyes of my mother. It might be true that my few attempts have resulted in my yelling in front of the stove for my mom to come downstairs and save me.
  • This Thanksgiving I made really good cranberry sauce.
  • Oh yes. And the only TV I ever watch is the Food Network. Ina Garten and Giada are my favs. Paula Deen is cute, too.

I like good food, I know what good food is. I just don’t know how to make it. It also might be important to mention that I am a complete health nut. Interesting combination…

pots vs. pans

I’m tired of pretending I know how to cook.  I think sometimes I even convince myself that I could tackle any recipe and conquer those pots and pans in the cabinets.  Um, how about not.

Sure, I’ve bought enough cookbooks, purchased enough cooking magazines, perused enough food blogs, and read enough food-related literature to portray an image of kitchen savvy-ness.  But, in truth, I am just a poser.

Great.  So now I’ve just finished my freshman year in college—tired of consuming substances that semi resemble food in the dining hall—and face three months at home before I venture off to live in my (gasp) sorority house next year.

And my response to this situation?…Expose my attempt to master basic kitchen skills to the World Wide Web.

I suppose it is slightly presumptuous to assume anyone will actually stumble upon my blog, let alone take the time to read it.  Oh well.  This journey is a personal battle.