Monthly Archives: December 2011

New Year’s (cooking) resolutions!

It’s time to say goodbye to 2011, and welcome 2012 with open arms.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve come pretty far in the past 6 months of cooking and blogging, and I’m pretty damn proud of myself. I wish I had a screenshot of what my first post looked like with the basic, free wordpress layout. But I can at least say that I’ve gone from this:

To this:

Pretty cool huh?

Not only did my cooking (and photography skills) improve vastly, but I got more creative and adventurous, trying new foods and recipes and just generally taking risks. I think it paid off 🙂 Continue reading

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Candy cane cupcakes

Merry Christmas everyone! 

I…can’t think of anything else to say here. It’s too early in the morning, and I’m already all hopped up on sugar and peppermint. And ginger cookies of course. Breakfast of champions.

I made these cupcakes from my brand new cupcake cookbook that my sister gave me, and I’m so excited that they worked! We all know I’ve had cupcake troubles in the past, so I was thrilled that not only did they poof nicely,  but they tasted pretty damn good too 😉

It’s a simple chocolate cupcake recipe paired with a fluffy white frosting with crushed peppermint candies in it and sprinkled on top! And a few candy canes, in case they weren’t minty enough. Continue reading

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Unbelievably amazing ginger cookies

ginger cookies, molasses, cinnamon cookies, christmas cookies

You might remember Kevin as the guy I spent hours decorating turtle sugar cookies for over the summer, for his last day of work at the lab before he went to graduate school. I, however, remember him as the bearded guy who is a better baker than I am.


On my very first day of work I was offered a delicious cookie, and I was shocked when they told me the nerd wearing the Doctor Who shirt had baked them. “Boys can bake?” I remember thinking to myself as I brought the cookie into the lab (big no-no). I remember also thinking, “that’s a sweet shirt.”

And then there was the time I brought in brownies to impress my boss, on the same day that he brought oreos baked into chocolate chip cookies. I was clearly out of my league.

My only choice was to entice him into my kitchen and steal his magic recipes!

Kevin Kewin

He hides his recipes in his beard. But you gotta give him credit for passing the “I’m going to surprise you with a rat on your shoulder while you’re cooking, and see how you react” test! 


Since Christmas is just a few days away, I figured I’d post his incredible ginger cookies, for you to share with Santa.  Continue reading

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Foolproof peppermint bark

Looking for something super easy to throw together the night before that Christmas party or holiday potluck? Look no further! I made this for my nephew’s first birthday party this weekend, and all the adults went nuts for it. They kept exclaiming how good it was, and I’m so talented, and how did I make it?

I felt a little dumb saying, “I melted chocolate, and then I melted more chocolate, and then I put candy on it.”

You will need (here’s where it gets tricky, so pay close attention):

  • white chocolate
  • milk chocolate
  • crushed peppermint

And that’s it. It’s up to you how much to add, it all depends on what ratios you want and how many people you’re feeding! I used roughly a pound each of white and milk chocolate, and a few handfuls of the peppermint.

If you are not lucky enough to live by a Wegmans, or at least a grocery store that sells candy in bulk, you might have to melt down some chocolate bars and crush your own candy canes. I’m lazy though 🙂

First you line a cookie sheet with foil, and lightly spray with cooking spray. Then you melt the milk chocolate in a double boiler (or a metal bowl suspending over simmering water) stirring often to prevent it from burning.

When the chocolate is melted, pour it onto the cookie sheet, spread it evenly (again, how thick you spread it depends on how thick you want it!) and pop it in the fridge for half an hour.

When it’s hard, melt the white chocolate in the same way. Add a few handfuls of the crushed peppermint, and then smear the whole mixture evenly on top of the chocolate layer. Sprinkle more candy to top it off, and then refrigerate for another hour before breaking into bite-sized pieces!

So there you go, minimal effort for maximum results. My favorite way to cook! 🙂 You can throw it all in a bowl to serve at a party, or you could even wrap them up and give them as gifts, if you need a last minute present. Or go ahead and save it all for yourself, I won’t judge you.

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German food part 2: spaetzle dumplings

German food, Germany, German beer, knockwurst, spaetzle, spaetzle dumplings, german dumplings, potato salad, german potato salad, spicy potato salad, vinegar, celery seed

I’ll be honest with you folks, I have no idea if these turned out correctly. But they were fun and easy to make, and they tasted good so gosh darn it, I’m posting them.

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German food part 1: hot German potato salad

German food, Germany, German beer, knockwurst, spaetzle, spaetzle dumplings, german dumplings, potato salad, german potato salad, spicy potato salad, vinegar, celery seed

I dont know much about German food (or German culture in general), and what I do know is limited mostly to stereotypes:

Epcot didn't teach me much

But I’m always open to trying new foods, so when I was at Disney we ate at Biergarten. The food was exciting, the people were nice, and the music was lively! So when Ken and I were deciding what cuisine to tackle next, I thought, “why not German?”

This proved a little more difficult than we imagined, and while I’m fairly certain our methods were as unauthentic as you can get while still calling it German food, I think it turned out well!

German food, Germany, German beer, knockwurst, spaetzle, spaetzle dumplings, german dumplings, potato salad, german potato salad, spicy potato salad, vinegar, celery seed


On our menu we had:

  • hot German potato salad
  • Spaetzle dumplings
  • Knockwurst
  • and of course, beer


I knew right away I wanted to make spaetzle. When I had it at Biergarten, I was blown away by how tasty it was, even though I didn’t know what was in it. Making it at home was a bit of an adventure, because the recipe we used called for a spaetzle maker, which obviously I don’t have. So we had to get a little creative. 🙂

Constructing the rest of the menu was a challenge, because German food apparently consists mostly of side dishes. After searching for recipes for days, we gave up on trying to find a big main dish and instead chose to make a spicy potato salad, and fry up some sausages to round out the meal.

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All grown up cupcakes: chocolate and dark beer cupcakes with irish cream frosting

cupcakes, baileys, chocolate stout, beer cupcakes, boozy cupcakes,

There’s something so perfect about the mating of alcohol and baked goods. Especially when you take something so sweet and innocent as a cupcake and you corrupt it with not one but TWO types of liquor, making a very adult version of your favorite childhood treat.

I’ve been wanting to bake with alcohol for awhile, but I was always too afraid of my sub-par baking skills to give it a real shot. But my recent success with the Mickey Cupcakes (which I still have to post a recipe for! Sorry!) inspired me to suck it up and dive in. And oh my goodness, are these on an entirely different level than the Mickey cupcakes. The Mickey cupcakes, like Mickey himself, were…cute. They were sweet and sugary and fun, and there’s a time and a place for that. But Western NY in the winter is as far from Orlando as you can get, and though there’s nothing wrong with that, it takes some getting used to.

These rich, decadent cupcakes are the perfect companion to sitting by the fire, drinking a glass of wine (or leftover Bailey’s or beer!) and contemplating your very grown-up future. Or, if you’ve already accepted the daunting realization that you aren’t a kid anymore, go ahead and make these to celebrate your maturity. Or just make them because you like cupcakes and alcohol 🙂 Continue reading


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Fried chicken with cayenne and paprika

Believe it or not, this was actually our second attempt at making fried chicken. The first time Ken found a recipe online for spicy siracha marinated fried chicken, and seeing as how much we love siracha, we went for it. I was busy making the carrot cake for Thanksgiving, so I didn’t really read the recipe. But I may have turned the heat up too high by accident, and the second the chicken touched the boiling oil it blackened. We then had to cook it for 20 more minutes, watching disparingly as it got darker and darker and darker.

By the time it was done it was charred beyond recognition. We were laughing so hard the whole time, because when you ruin dinner that badly, the only thing left to do is laugh. That, and heat up a can of spaghettios.

But this time we succeeded beyond my wildest dreams! No joke, this chicken was so easy and amazingly delicious, I was floored. It is going to become part of the regular rotation. So if you’ve never fried chicken before, try it!

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Apologies and Thanksgiving wrap-up

So I never did get around to posting those thanksgiving pictures, and I kinda sorta didn’t cook anything. For a whole week.

Crazy, I know!

But I feel like I deserved it, after completely rocking the socks off of thanksgiving dinner! See exhibit A:

Here is the spinach and artichoke dip* I made in my crock pot, and the shrimp cocktail I poured into a bowl. Everyone oohed and aahed when I brought it out, but all I did was defrost the shrimp and hook the little buggers over the edge of the bowl. Not a culinary masterpiece.

I also made my grandmother’s curry dip and it was good! I do not like jicama though, it had a weird flavor I couldn’t get over. But remind me to post that recipe in the future, it would be great to whip up before a party 🙂

*In cleaning up the kitchen, we somehow forgot to refrigerate the spinach artichoke dip, and as a result it sat out on the table all night. It did not smell great the next day. I would recommend against this.

My mother’s turkey! Came out pretty nice, didn’t it? I still think it was too small though…

Side dishes on the sideboard! Starting from the far left we got cranberry sauce (from a can), bottom left is the homemade stuffing, then the cranberry sauce (homemade: Thanks Sugarcrafter!), my aunt’s sweet potato souffle, cauliflower mashed potatoes, lemon roasted green beans with almonds, and a salad.

Not pictured was the gravy I made from scratch. I even simmered the giblets for hours, chopped those up and added them to the stock!

Everyone was so impressed with how much I cooked, and how far I’ve come in the past six months. And I have to say I’m thankful for my family for being so supportive and understanding that weekend, leaving me alone when I was stressed, and doing most of the dishes 🙂


So now that I’ve recovered from Thanksgiving, it’s back into the kitchen I go. Instead of picking a country or a technique for this week, I thought I’d try a few recipes from a cookbook I just got on my Kindle Fire (Merry Christmas to me!). I also splurged and bought myself the Iphone 4s (Happy Chanukah to me!). 

The cookbook is called 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know, by Cindi Leive. It’s funny AND full of awesome recipes that I can’t wait to try. And next week I’ll go back to being super adventurous and crazy (I can’t decide between German food and Indian…any suggestions?), and I’ll even start throwing in some favorite holiday recipes for you to try!

I missed you, and I’m glad to be back! Happy December!!!


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