Featured Slider

Panzanella

 


At the height of summer (and long after too!), there is nothing we love more than a bowl of panzanella. It's so refreshing and light, but also satisfying at the same time. The combined flavors of basil, vinegar, garlic, caper, and red onion just speak to me. We love this as a main course because we are two panzanella-devouring fiends, but it also goes really well with a simple roast or grilled chicken. 

Panzanella

(Adapted from Ina Garten)

For the panzanella:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small loaf of bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups total)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced into 1/2-inch half moons
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 20 large basil leaves, julienned or coarsely chopped
  • 3 rounded tbsp capers, drained 
For the vinaigrette:
  • 1 tsp finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

  1. Place bread cubes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Toss to distribute the olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees F until lightly browned on both sides. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. 
  3. Whisk all the vinaigrette ingredients together and pour over the vegetables. Ideally, let the panzanella sit for half an hour for the flavors to combine. 
  4. Just before serving, add the toasted bread cubes, and toss to combine with the juices. Serve immediately. 

Cooking the Book, Vol. 2: Dinner: A Love Story

 



If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know how much I love Dinner: A Love Story. The recipes are approachable while still being interesting and creative. Jenny Rosentrach is amazing at being able to write about a dish in a way that makes me immediately add it to my meal plan for the week. But how did her first book stack up? Here are the recipes I made: 

Chicken Pot Pie: 5/5 stars. This is a very basic chicken pot pie recipe, but it's a good jumping-off point. I changed it up by using a regular potato instead of sweet potato, throwing in some celery (I felt like its flavor was important), and increasing the amount of chicken broth to 2 cups (because 1 cup is just not enough liquid to attempt to cook the veggies in). The result was shockingly tasty and comforting. We've made this again a few times since it's the perfect way to use up leftover chicken.

Black Bean Burritos: 5/5 stars. I made a modified version of this from Korena in the Kitchen (she doubles the seasonings and adds a few teaspoons of chipotles in adobo rather than jalapeno). I don't normally love Mexican food or beans, but I devoured two of these burritos in no time. They were that good. We will definitely make them again, and even better--they're vegetarian! 

Salmon Salad: 3/5 stars. I actually made this a couple of years ago after seeing it on her blog. It's basically a nicoise salad with salmon instead of tuna. I realized that I don't actually like nicoise salad all that much and felt like the beautifully roasted salmon (this part of the recipe was perfect) got lost in all the veggies and potatoes. My husband thought this was fine, but I ended up eating the salmon and the rest of the salad separately. 

Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies: 5/5 stars. Genius. This was my first foray into spicy desserts, but I know it won't be my last. I baked these to bring into work, but my husband loved them so much that he wouldn't let me. "These are too good to share." This went into my heirloom recipe notebook. 

Turkey Chili: 5/5 stars. Another recipe I found a few years ago on her blog. I don't actually like chili all that much, but this one is special. The cinnamon makes the dish. I throw in a tablespoon or two of brown sugar as well because I like my food sweet, and it's just addictive. This went into my heirloom recipe notebook. 

Spicy Shrimp with Yogurt: 3/5 stars. This was just okay. It wasn't bad, but I was expecting the shrimp to have more flavor. 

Basic Vinaigrette: 4/5 stars. A basic, simple vinaigrette recipe. Vinaigrettes like this aren't my favorite, but it does its job if you want a bright, light salad dressing. 

Pork Shoulder Ragu with Pappardelle: 5/5 stars. This recipe is the crown jewel of this cookbook. It is so genius that it made it into the Food52 Genius Recipes Cookbook. My husband was floored when he tasted this, and I loved how easy it was to make. We used homemade tagliatelle instead of pappardelle because we couldn't find pappardelle anywhere near us. I actually prefer it without the pasta and think it would be better suited over mashed potatoes or polenta. Anyway, you need to make this yesterday. This went into my heirloom recipe notebook. 

Great-Grandma Turano's Meatballs: 5/5 stars. This is a very good meatball recipe. I actually bake these instead of frying them because I'm queasy about the amount of oil involved in frying meatballs, so they're not exactly tender, but they have good flavor. The fennel seed is brilliant.  

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions, Spinach, and Parmesan: 3/5 stars. For something that Jenny calls her "favorite dinner on earth," this was disappointingly bland. Even with extra parm and salt. I think it would benefit from doubling the amount of caramelized onions, but I didn't care for it enough to try again. 

Todd's Minty Pea Dip: 5/5 stars. I was so intrigued by this combination that I just had to try it out. It tastes just as surprising as it sounds. I ended up making a version of this that she adapted into a pasta recipe on her blog, and while it was pretty good, I think this is best left as a dip. 

Beluga Lentil Soup with Anchovies: 3/5 stars. I'm not sure how to feel about this soup. It wasn't bad, but I didn't necessarily want to eat more of it either. The appearance was super unappetizing due to the black lentils (a dirty dishwater gray), and maybe that affected my perception of it? 

Asparagus with Chopped Egg and Onion: 3/5 stars. For all the little steps involved in this (blanching asparagus, making a vinaigrette, boiling and chopping an egg, mincing red onion), it was just okay. I prefer simply tossing asparagus in olive oil and roasting it, which is easier and more delicious. 

Pizza Crust: 5/5 stars. This is now our go-to pizza crust recipe since I discovered it at the beginning of the pandemic. It comes together so easily (no kneading!) and is fairly easy to work with. This went into my heirloom recipe notebook. 

Mushroom and Onion Pizza: 4/5 stars. A nice pizza recipe. Not groundbreaking, but pretty tasty and easy too. The amount of toppings was perfect for a sheet pan pizza. 

Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs with Braised Leeks: 2/5 stars. This was a miss for us. It had such potential, but the chicken was tough and not very flavorful. In addition, the sauce was too runny, and this led to it being bland. 

Average Recipe Rating: 4.1/5. 

Another solid cookbook! Although not all of the recipes were successes, there were some really outstanding recipes in here, and overall I was happy with the food we made. This was one of my favorite cookbooks to read because of the autobiographical format (she tells the story of her family and the recipes are woven in throughout). Jenny actually inspired me to keep a dinner diary myself, which I've been doing faithfully for a few months now. 4 of her recipes ended up in my heirloom notebook, which is amazing. I really recommend giving this a read, and checking out her food blog, which is one of my all-time favorites. 

I'll update this as I continue to cook from this book.

Recipes I'm Excited to Make Next:

  • Arroz con Pollo
  • Lamb Kibbeh with Mint-Yogurt Sauce
  • Butternut Squash Soup with Apples
  • Apricot-Mustard Baked Chicken
  • Mustardy Pork Chops with Apples and Onions
  • Kale with Avocado and Pickled Onions

52 Weeks of Cookies (Week 6): Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread

 


I made these espresso shortbread once in med school to give out as part of Christmas cookie boxes and remember being unable to stop snacking on them. So when I wanted to bake cookies for a coffee-loving couple friend of mine to welcome their new baby, these immediately came to mind. They're a little more involved than a drop cookie, since you have to roll them out, refrigerate them, and cut them into squares, but Deb's suggestion to roll them out in a gallon bag is genius. They make melt-in-your-mouth shortbread that my husband couldn't stop snacking on as well.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread

(Recipe from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp boiling water
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temp
  • 2/3 cup (80 grams) confectioner's sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup storebought mini chocolate chips or 4 oz (115 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

  1. Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water and set aside to cool. 
  2. Working with a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioner's sugar together on medium speed for 3 minutes until the mixture is very smooth. 
  3. Beat in the vanilla, espresso, and salt, and then reduce the mixer to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough (don't overmix!). Fold in the chocolate. 
  4. Transfer the soft, sticky dough into a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll out the dough into a 9" x 10.5" rectangle that is about 1/4" thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn't cause creases. When you get to the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out excess air, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. 
  5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. 
  6. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and cut open along the seams. Turn the firm dough out on the cutting board and cut into 1 1/2" squares, using a ruler if needed. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one a few times with a fork. 
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes. The shortbreads will remain pale. Remove from oven and transfer to a cookie rack. 

Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice

 


This is one of Andrew's favorite meals. It's basically chicken and rice on steroids, where the chicken is moist, flavorful bone-in chicken thighs and the rice is a cardamom-spiced, caramelized onion-laced revelation. It comes from Sami Tamimi and Yottam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook. I've adapted it slightly from trial and error over the years since the rice was undercooked when both Andrew and I have made it as written in the recipe. 

Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice

(Slightly adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook)

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/4 pounds skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • Rounded 1/4 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 long cinnamon sticks, broken in two
  • 1 2/3 cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained
  • 4 tbsp dried currants
  • 2 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dill leaves, chopped (I never have dill and always leave this out)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped (I hate cilantro and always leave this out)

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the sliced onions and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is a deep golden brown. 
  2. While the onion cooks, place the chicken in a large mixing bowl and season with 1 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Add the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon, and use your hands to mix everything together. 
  3. When the onions are done, transfer to a bowl and wipe the saute pan clean. Heat saute pan again over medium heat and add the chicken and spices. Sear the chicken for 5 minutes on each side and remove from the pan. The spices can hang out in the pan, but it's okay if they stick to the chicken as well. 
  4. When all the chicken is done searing, remove all but a thin film of the oil and chicken fat from the pan. Add the basmati rice, caramelized onion, 1 tsp salt, plenty of black pepper, and the dried currants. Stir well to combine and add the chicken back to the pan, pushing it down and nestling it into the rice.
  5. Pour the boiling water over the rice and chicken, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes. 
  6. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, quickly place a clean tea towel over the pan, and seal again with the lid. Let rest for 15-20 minutes. 
  7. Uncover the pan and check the rice for doneness (if not all the way cooked, cover again and continue to rest). When rice is done, scatter the chopped herbs on top, and use a fork to stir them in while fluffing the rice. Taste for seasoning. 

King Arthur Flour's Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza

 


It's easy to see why this is King Arthur's Recipe of the Year. It's pretty freaking awesome. The crust is crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. The crispy cheese on the outside gives it great flavor. It's rich and hearty and the perfect dinner when you want something bad for you. While they call it pizza, I would call it a focaccia on steroids, and I mean that in a good way. We'll definitely be making this again. 

Just a note: Read the recipe thoroughly and plan ahead before you make this! I didn't read the recipe all the way through, as is my habit, and didn't realize that it needs an extra two-hour-long rise at room temp after the overnight rise. As a result, we ate dinner fairly late that night, but at least this was worth the wait. Oops!

Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza

(Recipe from King Arthur Flour)

For the crust:

  • 2 cups (240 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant or active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil for greasing the pan
For the pizza:
  • 6 oz (about 1 1/4 cups loosely packed) mozzarella, grated
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup tomato sauce or pizza sauce (I went the homemade route)
  • Any toppings you want but keep the total to less than 1 cup
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano for sprinkling on top

  1. Place the flour, salt, yeast, water, and 1 tbsp olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer or medium large mixing bowl. Stir everything together to make a shaggy, sticky dough with no dry patches of flour (should take 30-45 seconds in stand mixer or 1 minute by hand using a spoon or spatula). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and gather into a ball. Cover the bowl. 
  2. After 5 minutes, uncover the bowl, and using your wet hand or a bowl scraper, stretch the bottom of the dough up and over the top in a fold. Repeat 3 more times, turning the bowl 90 degrees. every time. Cover the bowl. 
  3. After 5 more minutes, uncover the bowl, and repeat the folding process you just did before. Cover the bowl. 
  4. After 5 more minutes, uncover the bowl, and repeat the folding process. Cover the bowl.
  5. After 5 more minutes, uncover the bowl, and repeat the folding process for the fourth time. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 40 minutes. Then refrigerate the dough for 12-72 hours. 
  6. 3 hours before you want to serve your pizza, coat your cast iron in 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, spreading it up the edges as well. Transfer the dough to the pan, and turn once to coat both sides in the oil. Press the dough to the edges of the pan, using your fingers to dimple it as you press. If the dough shrinks back, cover it, let it rest, and try again in 15 minutes. 
  7. Cover the crust and let it rise for 2 hours at room temperature. It should look jiggle slightly when you shake the pan. 
  8. 30 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Make sure one of your oven racks is at the bottom of the oven and one is near the top. 
  9. When you're ready to bake (finally!), sprinkle 3/4 of the mozzarella evenly over the crust, all the way to the edges. Dollop small spoonfuls of sauce over the cheese. Sprinkle on the remaining mozzarella and any toppings. 
  10. Bake on the bottom rack for 18-20 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling, and the bottom and edges are a rich golden brown (use a spatula to lift the pizza to check the bottom). If the bottom is cooking faster than the top, move to the top rack for 2-4 more minutes. If the top is fine but the bottom is not quite golden brown, leave on the bottom rack for 2-4 more minutes. 
  11. Remove from oven and carefully run a knife around the edges to prevent cheese from sticking. Let pizza cool very briefly, and then carefully lift pizza out of pan using spatula and onto a cutting surface. Use a knife or kitchen shears to cut into wedges. Serve hot with Parmesan or Pecorino on top.

Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

 


I'm not normally a cupcake person, but when it was time for a socially distanced baby shower for my co-worker, we figured cupcakes were the right way to go. My co-worker loves anything banana-flavored, so I dug around online and found this wonderful banana cupcake recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction. They came out perfect! I was surprised by how many people ended up loving them, as I always thought banana was a controversial cake flavor, but maybe it had something to do with that delicious cinnamon cream cheese frosting on top. Thanks, Sally!

This was my first time piping (I used a plastic sandwich bag with the corner cut off, so they're a little messy, but it was a lot of fun, and I can't wait to do it again.

Banana Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

(Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction)

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed banana (from about 3 large very ripe bananas)
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (60 grams) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
For the frosting:
  • 8 oz (224 grams) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360 grams) confectioner's sugar (or add it to taste like I do)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. Line a second 12-cup muffin tin with 6 cupcake liners (this recipe makes about 18)
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a small/medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla, then beat on medium-high speed until combined. 
  5. Beat in the mashed bananas.
  6. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients until just incorporated. 
  7. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the buttermilk until just combined. 
  8. Fill muffin cups to 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  9. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy. 
  10. Add the confectioner's sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. 
  11. Frost cooled cupcakes and serve. 

Pizza Margherita

 


Is there anything more beautiful than the colors of a margherita pizza? I think this is easily the prettiest pizza I've ever made. It also tasted pretty damn good too. We found ourselves grabbing for slice after slice, yet it never felt heavy because of how refreshing this tomato sauce was. 

While we used our go-to dough recipe from Dinner: A Love Story for the crust, the sauce comes from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. It's so simple, but it proves that sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. 

Just a note: Between the simple uncooked tomato sauce and the fresh mozzarella we used, our pizza looked very wet in the oven (we're talking puddles of water), but like magic, the water cooked off at the end, and the pizza turned out perfect. So have faith and try not to fret and open your oven every 5 seconds like me, and you will end up with a perfect margherita pizza.

Pizza Margherita

(Recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

  • 1/3 cup pureed and strained tomatoes, or 1/2 cup whole tomatoes in juices, blended until mostly smooth
  • Salt
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • Few drops red wine vinegar
  • Pinch of sugar
  • One 3/4 pound pizza dough dough, ready to use
  • 4-5 oz mozzarella, grated, torn, or very thinly sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn into bits
  • Handful finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano to finish

  1. Preheat your oven to the highest temperature it'll go. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment (this is the easiest way we've found to prevent pizza from sticking) and set aside. 
  2. In a small bowl, stir together tomatoes, a couple pinches of salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, the minced garlic, a couple of drops of red wine vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. 
  3. Stretch your pizza dough out to fill your prepared baking sheet. Spread dough with tomatoes, leaving a small margin at the edges, and layer on the mozzarella. 
  4. Bake pizza for 7-11 minutes, until bubbly and a bit brown on top. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with basil and Parmesan/Romano. Serve hot right in the pan. 

52 Weeks of Cookies (Week 5): Camping Cookies

 


Way back in July (I know, these are old posts), we went on a backpacking trip up to Mount Isolation in the White Mountains. It was a challenging hike and not the greatest of campsites, but we persevered, helped in part by these delicious cookies that I made and packed just for the trip. I'm a pretty picky eater, and when our cooked food plans fell flat, I pretty much lived on these cookies all weekend. Maybe it was because I was so ravenous, but I think these are my favorite cookies yet! They are super crunchy from the Rice Krispies, slightly chewy from the oats and coconut, rich from the nuts, and satisfying from the chocolate and buttery cookie base. The only thing they're lacking in is the looks department, but I find them kinda endearing. We took to referring to them as Hagrid's rock cakes during our trip. I think I'm going to make them for every backpacking trip from now on!

Camping Cookies

(Barely adapted from 3191 Miles Apart)

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup crisp rice cereal (like Rice Krispies)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup chopped toasted pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and egg and mix until combined. 
  3. Sift together flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Stir in oats, coconut, rice cereal, chocolate, and pecans (make sure pecans have cooled). 
  4. Stir together dry ingredients and wet ingredients until well-combined. The dough will be dry and crumbly. 
  5. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. 

Peach Pancakes


I found this delightful recipe in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, which I wrote about last week. She had me at the description of caramelized peaches! Andrew was really surprised at how much he liked these (he doesn't typically like fruit in his sweets). It quickly became a reason for us to buy peaches all summer long. They are not health food given how much sour cream they contain, but they sure are delicious. 

Peach Pancakes

(Recipe from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook)

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg 
  • 3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Butter, for pan
  • 1 peach, halved, pitted, and very thinly sliced (about 1/8-inch slices)

  1. Whisk the egg, sour cream, vanilla, and sugar together in the bottom of a large bowl. 
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, baking powder, and baking soda. 
  3. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined and still a little lumpy. 
  4. Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium-low. Melt a pat of butter in the bottom of the pan and ladle in 1/4 cup of batter at a time, leaving at least 2 inches between pancakes. Don't crowd the pan as these pancakes are delicate and a little tricky to flip. Arrange two peach slices over the batter. 
  5. When the pancakes are dry around the edges and you can see bubbles forming on the top, about 3-4 minutes, get your spatula all the way underneath the pancake and flip in one quick movement. If any peaches slide out when you flip, nudge them back in place underneath. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, until the pancakes are golden brown on the underside and the peach slices are nicely caramelized (it's okay if they're slightly burnt). If they're browning too quickly, lower the heat. 
  6. Serve warm with maple syrup!

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf Cake

 


This delightfully moist loaf cake recipe came from Dinner: A Love Story, where it is called Last-Minute Bake Sale Cake. It is indeed easy to throw together last-minute, and it makes a wonderful dessert-disguised-as-breakfast. This was the perfect way to get rid of some yogurt that was about to go bad, and I liked it so much that it was gone within a few days. We'll definitely be making this again. 

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf Cake

(Recipe from Dinner: A Love Story)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup blueberries (or raspberries or blackberries)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one standard loaf pan. 
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. 
  3. In a large bowl, mix together sugar and lemon zest until well-distributed. Add sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk until combined. 
  4. Fold the dry ingredients and blueberries into the wet ingredients until just combined. 
  5. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before slicing. 

Cooking the Book, Vol. 1: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

 


Okay, I know this isn't exactly a new book, but it's new for me, and over the past summer, I've found myself baking out of it a surprising amount. It's full of gorgeous photography and American classics with a modern, gourmet spin. This is one of those cookbooks where you flip it open and want to cook everything! I'd be remiss to not review it given how much use I've gotten out of it, and how many recipes I still plan to make! Here's what I've made so far:

Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes: 5/5. These are more sour cream than they are pancake, but they are so damn good. We made them 3 times in 1 week before we realized we probably shouldn't eat that much sour cream on a regular basis. This went in my heirloom recipe notebook. Recipe here. 

Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones: 3/5. I can never figure out why, but half the time I make scones, they come out flat, and this was one of those cases. I thought the flavor was fine (tangy and rich from the ricotta and raspberries), but my husband wasn't a fan. We ended up throwing most of these out as they didn't keep well in our cake saver. 

Potato Frittata with Feta and Scallions: 5/5. Really tasty! Definitely more involved than I want to get for breakfast (you have to roast sliced potatoes before even assembling the frittata), but this makes a fantastic brunch or dinner with a side salad. We've made it again a couple of times since. This went in my heirloom recipe notebook. Recipe here.

Tomato Scallion Shortcakes with Whipped Goat Cheese: 4/5. This was somewhere between a 3 and 4 for us, but I think part of it was user error. Just as with the scones, my scallion shortcakes turned out flat. Then I made the mistake of using my stand mixer for the whipped goat cheese, and ended up having to double the cream in order to get the whisk attachment to reach the cream at the bottom of the mixer bowl. I forgot to double the goat cheese, which diluted the end result. In the end, I liked it more than my husband did. My friend ended up making it too, and she raved about it, so your results may vary.

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette: 5/5. This was my first homemade pie crust, and let's just say I definitely need more practice. Crust aside, the filling was just phenomenal! It is a pretty time-consuming recipe to make with many steps, but we will be making it again for sure. I can see it going over extremely well at a party with both vegetarians and meat-lovers. Recipe here. 

Everyday Margarita Pizza: 5/5. A really authentic-tasting NYC margarita pizza. And gorgeous too! I was surprised at how good the sauce turned out for being just raw pureed tomatoes mixed with a few odds and ends. 

Shaved Asparagus Pizza: 5/5. Oh my god. This is worth the price of admission alone. We did cut the amount of mozzarella in half the second time we made this because we found it was a bit too much, but overall, this is my new favorite pizza! This went in my heirloom recipe notebook. Recipe here. 

Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto: 2/5. This was pretty disappointing. The pesto part tasted great until I added the cauliflower, and then it was just...bland and unappetizing. We didn't like the grainy texture either. Sorry Deb, but this wasn't our favorite.

Mushroom Bourguignon: 4/5. Pretty good for being meatless. Deb recommends serving this over buttered egg noodles, which I did, but my husband and I both felt like it was a weird pairing. I want to try this again served over mashed potatoes. 

Flat Roasted Chicken with Tiny Potatoes: 5/5. Basically a spatchcocked chicken with potatoes. We made this on a sheet pan because we couldn't fit our chicken in the small cast-iron pan we had. We also used small/medium-sized potatoes cut in half because we couldn't find tiny potatoes. It still turned out really great. Potatoes roasted in chicken fat are always a winner, and the chicken itself was really flavorful despite the simple preparation.  

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats: 5/5. I've made these before from reading her blog. They are more work than your typical Rice Krispie treats (I personally hate browning butter), but they're totally worth it. This was a staple of many a girl's night back in med school.

Grapefruit Olive Oil Pound Cake: 5/5. Delicious, bright, and citrusy. I appreciate that it's a change from your typical lemon-flavored baked good. My husband loved this one and raved about it to his brothers and co-workers. We'll definitely make this again. 

Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake: 4/5. Pretty tasty. I'm a sucker for any baked good with blueberries, and this was a good one. I prefer my cakes melt-in-your-mouth, so I don't think the grittiness from the cornmeal is really for me. I also thought it was a bit too sweet with the crumb topping, but overall a solid cake. 

Red Wine Velvet Cake with Whipped Mascarpone: 4/5. I made this for my friend's birthday as she is a big wine lover, though I confess I did not use her whipped mascarpone recipe and used a regular cream cheese frosting instead (mascarpone is expensive and hard to find where I live). I personally can't stand red wine, so I can't give an honest assessment of this cake (it just tasted like wine to me), but I did get raves from people at work. I only gave it 4/5 stars because I wish the cake was fluffier. It's a dense, fudgey cake which is not what I have in mind when baking a red velvet cake. 

Overall Recipe Rating: 4.4/5 

Clearly, this cookbook has recipes that work! Most are reliably good, and many of them are excellent. 3 of them went in my heirloom recipe book! If you enjoy Deb's writing on her blog, you will also enjoy reading this, as it's full of her signature relatable writing style. I would highly recommend making this part of your own cookbook shelf. 

I'll update this as I continue to cook from this book.

Recipes I'm looking forward to making next: 

  • Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby
  • Maple Bacon Biscuits
  • Honey and Harissa Farro Salad
  • Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
  • Marbled Pumpkin Gingersnap Tart

Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

 


If you like pickles, you will love this cucumber salad. Sweet, tangy, crispy, and totally refreshing. It comes together quickly, especially if you start at the beginning of your food prep and let the cucumbers chill out in the brine. I serve this as a side dish, but it's also nice as a snack or even a condiment. 

Sunomono (Japanese Cucumber Salad)

(Recipe from Appetite for China)

  • 2 English cucumbers
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp white or black sesame seeds, or a mix of both

  1. Cut the cucumbers into paper-thin slices. In a colander, toss the cucumber slices with the salt and let sit for 5-10 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, stir together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar is dissolved. 
  3. Gently squeeze the cucumber slices to get rid of excess water. Transfer to the large bowl and toss with the rice vinegar mixture. 
  4. When ready to serve, transfer cucumber to a serving dish.

Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil


When Dinner: A Love Story posted about how easy and restaurant-worthy this recipe was, I knew I needed to make it. We love the combination of corn and basil, and we love any kind of pasta dish (as you can probably tell). I also appreciate how this creamy pasta doesn't require any cream at all. This came together so quickly and tasted so fresh and summery that I know we will be making it for years to come. 

The only change I really made was scaling up the recipe so that I could use the full pound of pasta I had rather than 12 oz, because I hate nothing more than pasta recipes that only call for 12 oz. Part of me blogging about this is having my new and improved version of this recipe written down so I don't have to do all the annoying mental math next time. You're welcome!

Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil

(Slightly adapted from NY Times Food)

  • 16 oz dry orecchiette, farfalle, or any other short pasta you have on hand (I used penne)
  • 1 1/3 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
  • 3 ears corn, shucked and kernels removed
  • 2/3 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to taste
  • 2/3 cup torn fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Fresh lemon juice, as needed

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta until 1 minute shy of al dente, according to package directions. Reserve 2/3 cup pasta water and drain pasta. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add scallion whites and a large pinch of salt. Cook until soft, about 3 minutes. 
  3. Add 1/3 cup water and all but 1/3 cup corn. Simmer until corn is heated through and almost tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add 1/3 tsp salt and 1/3 tsp black pepper. 
  4. Transfer corn mixture to a blender and puree until smooth, adding a little water if needed to get it to a thick, pourable consistency. Set aside. 
  5. In the same large skillet, add the butter and melt over high heat. Add reserved 1/3 cup corn and cook until tender, 1-2 minutes. 
  6. Add the reserved corn puree and cook for 30 seconds to heat through and combine the flavors. 
  7. Reduce heat to medium. Add pasta and half the reserved pasta water to pan. Cook for 1 minute, then add more reserved pasta water if the mixture looks too thick. Stir in 1/3 cup scallion greens, the Parmesan, the basil, the red pepper flakes, 1/3 tsp salt, and 1/3 tsp pepper. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to taste. 
  8. Transfer to bowls and top with scallion greens, a drizzle of olive oil, and Parmesan to taste. 

Double Chocolate Muffins

 


These are a breakfast staple in our house when we want to bake something easy and decadent that can double as breakfast and dessert (and snack if you are so inclined!). I don't always have the best luck with muffins, but these come out every time, and they are absolutely delicious. They also rewarm nicely in the microwave (15 seconds) with the chocolate chips getting all melty and cake the remaining nice and tender. 

The recipe makes 12 regular-sized muffins and a good bit more mini muffins (almost a whole pan). I personally love the mini muffins and see them as a bonus, but you can certainly make all regular-sized muffins and probably end up with 16-18. 

Double Chocolate Muffins

(Recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)

  • 1 3/4 cups (8.75 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (7.5 oz) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (2.5 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (9 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or 3/4 cup milk whisked together with 3/4 cup sour cream or yogurt)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare 1 regular 12-cup muffin pan and 1 mini muffin pan with muffin liners (or grease the pan). 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and toss to combine. 
  3. In a separate bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and oil. 
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. 
  5. Fill the muffin cups evenly with batter (I use a 1/4 cup muffin/ice cream scoop for the regular muffins and a mini 2-tbsp cookie scoop for the mini muffins). 
  6. Bake for 15-17 minutes for the regular muffins and 10-12 minutes for the mini muffins, until a toothpick comes out clean and the muffins are springy to the touch. 
  7. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy warm!


Chicken and Dumplings, King Arthur Style

 



Even though I grew up with the Southern type of chicken and dumplings where the dumplings are rolled flat like thick pasta sheets, I've since come around to the New England style, where the dumplings are like cakey biscuits floating on top of the chicken stew. Our go-to recipe is an adaptation of the version from Simply Recipes which I may post here someday, but this recipe I found from the King Arthur Flour website was really tasty for less effort. Andrew kept talking about how much he enjoyed it as he ate, which is my green light to make it again. Thanks, King Arthur!

Chicken and Dumplings
(Recipe slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour)

For the dumplings:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (255 grams)
  • 3 1/3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 rounded 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pats
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives or parsley
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or 1/2 cup plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
For the filling:
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp dried thyme 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cups diced cooked chicken (I used leftover chicken from a store-bought rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed (or a mixture of cooked peas and carrots)

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the 2 1/4 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Work in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Stir in the herbs. Cover and stick in the fridge while you work on the filling.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  3. In a large oven-safe 3-quart saucepan (I used a cast-iron Dutch oven), melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the 1/2 cup flour and cook for 1 minute. 
  4. Add the chicken broth 1 cup at a time, whisking it in to prevent lumps. Once all the broth has been added, season with the thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire. 
  5. Simmer for 15 minutes, then stir in the chicken and thawed frozen veggies. Keep at a low simmer while you finish the dumplings.
  6. Whisk the buttermilk and egg together and add to the dumpling mixture, stirring until just evenly moistened. 
  7. Scoop the batter over the simmering filling using a muffin scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup, leaving some space between the dumplings as they will expand as they cook. Cover and bake for for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 5-10 minutes to brown the biscuits. 
  8. Remove from the oven and scoop a dumpling and some filling onto each serving plate.