Wednesday, October 31, 2012


 Halloween was such a fun day. Because it was a week day Adam and I both had to work. My company goes all out with pumpkin carving contests, caramel apples and costume contests which makes it a good place to be on Halloween. The theme this year was the zombie apocalypse so to fit with the theme, I dressed up as a zombie girl scout and handed out cookies. I got up early and my sister and I went to town on my make up making me look as zombie-ish as possible, who knew Elmer's glue and frosted flakes could look so gruesome. I even won a prize for a creepy costume! Adam and I finished off the day by eating waffles and watching a scary movie. It was a great day!
 Zombie beauty queen, zombie bride and zombie girl scout.
Hope you had a happy Halloween too!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Autumn Chopped Salad

I have to admit that in my house the salads that accompany our meals are usually a last minute, thrown together, whatever-I-have-in-my-vegetable-drawer concoction. Not a whole lot of though or time is put into salad preparation. But a few weekends ago I decided maybe I could go the extra mile and make a yummy salad to go along side Sunday dinner. Sure glad I did because this salad is beyond good. It was the first thing gone on the dinner table, even before the homemade rolls! There are so many textures and flavors the spicy sweet pecans and salty bacon, the juicy pears and chewy all goes so well together! Make this before pears are out of season!
Autumn Chopped Salad
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
4 cups baby spring mix lettuce 
3 medium pears, medium diced
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped sugared pecans
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Poppy seed Salad Dressing (I like Brianna's Home Style Dressing)
On a large platter, combine the lettuce, pears, cranberries, pecans, bacon and feta cheese. Drizzle with poppy seed dressing (I would estimate that I use about a 1/2 cup of dressing, use as much as you prefer). Toss the salad gently so you don't smash the pears and serve immediately. (If you don't want to serve it right away hold off on dressing your salad until right before dinner time, and at the last minute toss in freshly diced pears and sugared pecans too.
Quick Sugared Pecans:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups pecan halves
2 tablespoons sugar
For the pecans, melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the spices and 1 tablespoon of sugar and then the pecans. Toast the nuts, stirring often, until the color deepens slightly and they are lightly toasted, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a bowl and toss with the remaining sugar. Let them cool completely spread out on a sheet pan or large plate before tossing with the salad.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Carving Part 1 and 2

Part 1:

We carved our fair share of pumpkins this year, it's such a fun tradition. We got together with friends to carve and then the next day carved with my family. Our creative juices have been flowing!

The finished pumpkins: I carved the classic Jack-O-Lantern, and Adam went with the grim reaper.
(Don't mind my dead herb garden the pumpkins are perched on)

Part 2:
With my family things usually get a little competitive. No one holds back, and we usually have some pretty amazing pumpkins because of it. This year we went with a Disney theme. Everyone got so serious, we worked away quietly on our pumpkins, occasionally yelling out threats to each other.
 (SIDE NOTE: Yes I realize I have something on my face. No, it's not real. Yes my sisters and I broke out the Halloween make up early to do a trial run before the big day. Yes I'm going to win the company costume contest. Yes I'm using a power tool on my pumpkin. Any other questions?)
The finished pumpkins: my pumpkin was polka dotted Minnie Mouse, Adam's was the Black Pearl from Pirates of the Caribbean, Sister's was Cinderellas Carriage and other sisters was Totoro.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Pumpkin Patch

 This weekend we visited the pumpkin patch. We scoured the field to find the perfect pumpkins, and had plenty of success.   
I love going to the pumpkin patch it's so...festive. The pumpkins, the fields, the company. It was a fun fall outing with my guy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Culinary School: Week 9

Can I just admit something? This is a safe place, right? I don't really like fish. Maybe it's because I don't live by the ocean and can't get it fresh, maybe it's because of the weird texture, maybe it's because it smells awful. Whatever the reason is it's just not my thing. You can imagine my dismay when I showed up to class on Wednesday and the fishy stench was filling the kitchen. I put on my big girl pants and got my hands dirty (literally). We learned to fillet trout, sole and salmon. For the most part it was as bad as I was anticipating. I went home from class every night smelling like...well fish. I even found scales stuck to my fingers and arms the following days, it was hilarious (but not really). The salmon, in my opinion was definitely the best of all the fish we tried this week. Probably because it is the most familiar to me, I grew up forcing down salmon (haha hi mom :)!)  On a more positive note I cooked salmon en papillote and I didn't hate it! I actually loved it! It was moist and flavorful! The dish is cooked by placing a piece of salmon, lemon slices, a bit of butter and parsley in a piece of parchment paper folded and sealed and cooked (steamed) in the oven for 10 minutes. I had never seen salmon (or any fish for that matter) cooked using that method. It was so simple but so delicious.  In baking this week we had a written midterm, it was not fun. In fact I hated it. I would have rather filleted 20 fish. Unfortunately that wasn't an option. I took the test and won't know what my score is until next week. Question: why is there so much math in cooking? Why? WHY? Anyway enough of the dramatics, after the midterm we made biscotti, lady fingers, butter tea cookies and a few others. The last two weeks working on cookies and quick breads has been really fun. Possibly my favorite part of baking so far. Next week we're onto pies and pate a choux, you could say I'm excited but that might be an understatement. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pot Roast

With the winter months looming upon us (seriously there was snow on my car this morning!!) I decided it was high time to share this recipe. Pot roast, in my opinion is the perfect meal for a cold day. It makes you house smell incredible, you get extra heat because you have to leave your oven is on for a long time, and it's total comfort food. I mean please who doesn't have memories of their mothers or grandmothers making a roast for Sunday dinners growing up? I know I do. Comfort food I tell ya. I love me a good pot roast, and this one is so good. A couple of the ingredients are a little different and you may be thinking "Tomato paste?! Mustard?! Really?!" But just trust me when I say it works. The tomato paste gives the meat and gravy a sweetness and the mustard contributes with a mild tangyness, they're the two ingredients that make this pot roast better than the rest. Never one to shy away from fresh herbs I love having fresh rosemary in this dish, it's a perfect accompaniment to the meat. Serve this roast with mashed potatoes and warm rolls and you will have yourself the perfect winter day meal. Give this a try on a cold day, it'll warm you right up! 

Pot Roast

4 lbs. boneless chuck roast
Black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp red wine vinigar
1 (32 oz) box beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 bay leaves
3 stalks fresh rosemary
8 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2'' pieces
4 stalks celery, cut into 2'' pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef stock (reserved from the roast)
For the Beef
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Allow chuck roast to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, add the canola oil to a large pot with lid.
Add the roast to the pot and brown meat, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the roast, rest on a plate and set aside.

Pour about 1/2 cup of stock and a tablespoon of red wine vinigar into the pot and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen all the brown bits. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions and garlic and cook for 5- 7 minutes, until very fragrant and onions are tender. Add the stock and the remaining wine vinigar.
Whisk in tomato paste and Dijon mustard add bay leaves. Place the roast back into the pot, add rosemary stalks, cover pot with lid and place in the oven.Cook for 4 hours.

After 4 hours, remove from oven and add the carrots and celery.
Place the lid back on and cook for 1 more hour in the oven until meat is very tender. Remove the roast and place on a large platter, pick out the bay leaves and the rosemary stocks.With a slotted spoon, remove all the vegetables and place with the roast.

For the Gravy
Ladle 2 cups of the beef stock (from the pot where you cooked the roast) into a measuring cup.
In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
Add flour and stir to combine consistancy should be dry and crumbly. Cook for 1 minute while stirring. Slowly add beef stock whisking into pan with the butter and flour. Whisk until completely incorporated and lump free.
Bring to a gentle boil while stirring, reduce heat and cook until slightly thickened. Taste for additonal seasoning, salt and pepper if necessary. Spoon gravy over meat and vegetables before serving.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What I wore: Fall Outing

Dress: Urban Outfitters  Boots: Fergalicious by Fergi Leggings: American Apparel Watch: Fossil

Last weekend Adam was out of town so it was girl time with my mom and sisters. We packed it full of fall festivities. Apples, pumpkins, treats, shopping and the witches festival.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Raspberry crumb cake from class, me in my new dress (stoked when I noticed it was also worn by my favorite baker), some of the last green leaves to go, the abnormally good napa valley salad, condements from breakfast out last weekend, studying like maniac for my baking midterm, warm chocolate chip cookies, french toast and home fries.

(I don't want to talk about how the majority of photos are of food so in the wise words of Ingrid Michaelson "take me the way I am")

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

This is real, it's not a dream. Combining pumpkin, cheesecake and gingersnaps all in one dessert...there's no words for how glorious this is. Really it's a better version of pumpkin pie. I'll be the first to admit that I love me some pumpkin pie but sometimes you want to hang out with pumpkin pie's more sophisticated, prettier older sister. That my friends is this cheesecake. The spicy gingersnap crust is best part of this rich cheesecake, it's chewey and buttery and the perfect counterpart to the pumpkiny filling. The name might sound complex and overwhelming, but don't let this dessert fool you, it's really pretty easy. Top it with some sweet whipped cream and you have yourself the perfect fall dessert. Give it a try this season, you'll be glad you did!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust


1/4 cups finely crushed gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling mix)
5 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 10" round springform pan lightly sprinkle the sides and bottom with sugar .

For the crust: Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until evenly crumbled or you can crunch up the cookies in a zip lock bag with a mallet or rolling pin until they are the consistency of fine sand (this method takes longer and is more difficult to get a fine consistency). Press into the bottom of the springform pan, and at least 1" up the sides of the pan. Bake for 7 minutes, just until you can smell the gingersnaps. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.

For the filling: Place the cream cheese in the bowl of your mixer. Blend on low speed for a minute, until no more lumps remain. Add the sugar, flour and spices and mix for an additional 1 -2 minutes until everything is combined. Be sure to stop the mixer at least twice to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the vanilla and pumpkin and mix to combine. Add the eggs one at time, mixing for 10 seconds after each egg is added. Stir in the sour cream by hand. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan/crust and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. The center of the cake will be wobbly but will set up as it cools.

When the cake is finished turn the oven off and prop the oven door open allow the cake to slowly cool for one hour in the open oven. Remove the cake from the oven and chill, lightly covered for 4 hours or overnight before serving. Enjoy with fresh whipped cream or plain!

*Bring cream cheese up to room temp by cutting it in to cubes and microwaving for 5 second intervals until it's soft.

*You can typically find crunchy gingersnap cookies in the cracker/cookie isle of the grocery store.
*Pumpkin puree is the unseasoned, canned pumpkin normally found in the baking isle (Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin is what I used). Save what you don’t use by freezing or refrigerating.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Lunch date

Today my mom and my sister and I went to lunch at The Rose in Salt Lake. Our experience was so great that I felt obligated to share about it here on my blog. 
 First off they have an extensive tea menu, I got the herbal mint tea and my sister tried the lemon ginger. We were both very satisfied. The atmosphere is very chill and relaxing. It would be a great place to get lost in the pages of your favorite book, while nibbling on a tasty treat.
 The food was fabulous, the menu is light perfect for quick lunch or breakfast. I tried the berry salad, my sister got the toasted pb and j and my mom got their porridge with fresh berries and cream.
 It was a great afternoon spent with my girls, sipping tea and munching on yummy food.
If you are in the city (or need an excuse to go) and are wondering where to eat try The Rose you won't be disappointed!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Culinary School: Week 8

Making it to week 8 means that I am half way done with my first semester of culinary school. Which is awesome...depending on how you look at it. This week in baking and pastry we left yeast breads behind and moved on to quick breads and cookies. Because we are no longer working with yeast we are able to whip up many more products per class. With yeast we had to wait for the dough to proof and ferment for long periods of time, making it impossible to cover a lot in one class. This week we made blueberry muffins, raspberry coffee cake, scones, biscuits, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, savory muffins, and banana bread. All in just two class periods! It was fun making things that I am so familiar with, it was almost like a nice break from having to think too hard. Let's be honest I could make chocolate chip cookies with my eyes closed and my arms tied behind my back. :) All of the products were really good this week but I think my favorite thing I made were the scones. We were given permission to flavor the scones any way we wanted. I made orange walnut and dusted the tops with granulated sugar. They were dreamy. I also really loved the banana bread, it was a great recipe, I'll have to share it here sometime. In my cooking skills class this week we had an event to cater so on Wednesday we prepped everything and on Thursday we finished the meal and served it. Going in to culinary school I was sort of bummed when I found out how many catering events we had to participate in just because I didn't want it to cut into precious time I could be cooking and learning. But now doing it now I'm realizing now that sometimes I'm learning more doing these events than I would be otherwise. I really don't mind them and I'm getting good experience. It was another fun week, and now just 8 weeks to go!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Red Leaves

I swear this has to be the most gorgeous fall I can remember. Trees are lit with so many different colors everywhere I turn, I hate to think it will all come to an end in a few short weeks. I'm trying my hardest to soak in this beautiful time of year. On Sunday I grabbed my camera and some of my favorite people and we spent the afternoon admiring the mountains.

My sisters book with red leaves made for the perfect fall shot.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Updated Recipes

I have recently updated two of my most favorite recipes and I though you should know! Especially because one if them is soup and let face it, it's kinda flippin' cold outside and temperatures are only going to keep dropping, cheesy potato soup is just what you need right now! The other one is cheesecake, and yes it really is as delicious as the photo makes it look! Sorry I'm not sorry.

Here are the links:

Simple Cheesecake
Cheesy Potato Soup

Monday, October 15, 2012

Meatball Subs

Over the weekend we had a little get together with some friends, and I racked my brain for several days leading up trying to decide what I should make for dinner. I needed something simple that I could prepare several hours ahead of time that would knock their socks off. I had made these meatball subs once before and Adam loved them they seemed to fit the bill. I made the meatballs in the morning an then refrigerated them until that night. Then all I had to do was put my sauce together and plop in the meatballs to reheat! It was fabulously easy, and everybody loved them! Win-Win. The meatballs themselves are slightly spicy and packed with flavor. They get a little crust while baking in the oven, and those little crunchy bites were my favorite. These subs are not for the dainty eater, things will get a little messy so make sure there are plenty of napkins close by because you're going to need them. I served these on soft white hoagie rolls topped with provolone cheese. With a big green salad on the side and baked rosemary "fries" for dipping in extra sauce.

Meatball Subs

For the meatballs:
1 1/4 c. italian bread crumbs or crushed saltines
3/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. low-sodium beef broth
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
3 eggs
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
2 pounds ground beef

To dredge the meatballs:

1 1/2 cups flour in a shallow baking dish
For the sandwiches:
A dozen hoagie rolls
Sliced mozzarella or provolone cheese
For the sauce:
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, mix all of the meatball ingredients together EXCEPT the meat. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes so the breadcrumbs/crackers can soak up the liquid a little bit. Add the meat and mix well with your hands until all the ingredients are combined.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil with non stick cooking spray. Form golf ball-sized meatballs and dredge them in the flour shaking off any excess flour, until very lightly coated. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet about one inch apart. Bake for 20 -25 minutes until the meatballs are completely cooked through.
While the meatballs are cooking pour all sauce ingredients into a large pot and allow to simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, cover with a lid until meatballs are ready.
When the meatballs come out of the oven, let them sit for about 15 minutes. Gently scrape off any fat and place the meatballs into a large pot with prepared tomato sauce.
To assemble the sandwiches, slice the rolls in half. Place 3-4 meatballs on each bun and top with desired amount of sauce and cheese. Serve immediately.
*Makes 25-30 meatballs/about 7-9 sandwiches
*After the meatballs have baked you could do what I did and place all cooked meatballs on 1 sheet pan, cover and then refrigerate until about a half hour to an hour before you need them. Then place them in the hot sauce to reheat. This allowed me to make the meat balls in the morning and quickly put them together before my guests arrived.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Culinary School: Week 7

Classes this week were good overall. In pastry and baking we continued on with learning about sweet breads. We made cinnamon rolls, coffee rings, sticky buns and brioche. Brioche (pictured below) is a sweet bread from France made with a ton of butter and egg yolks, and then shaped into the cutest little form sprinkled with course sugar. The coffee ring (pictured below) was by far the yummiest thing we made this week, it was basically the same thing as the cinnamon rolls but for some reason pulling it apart made it more delicious. I can't wait to make it at home. The most difficult bread to make and shape and have turn out just right was definitely the brioche. I ended up having to make the dough twice because the final product the first time had a similar consistency to sand (ha), I think I over scaled the flour. Luckily my second try turned out better. The shaping is supposed to look like a little round ball on top of a small cushion. Notice how all my little round balls are lopsided. They should be right in the middle and should be perfectly round. It's a work in progress. :) In cooking skills this week we had our second practical. Roasting, frying, grilling and pan searing pieces of chicken were among the tasks to complete in under 3 hours. I was 2 for 4 because 2 of my leg/thigh pieces were still bloody. Whoops. However, I made a perfect bechamel and an almost perfect beurre blanc and that in and of itself deserves an award. And to top it off my knife cuts were muuuuch better than last time. Overall I feel like it went OK, I could have done a bit better but I'm happy with the overall results. I'm more happy that there are only two more practicals in that class. 
(I'm sharing two pictures this week, sue me)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Random Facts II

I decided I couldn't leave Adam out,  you need to know fun facts about him too! He's kinda awesome. 

Fifteen Fun Facts about Adam

1. His favorite dish is a pulled pork sandwich from Oklahoma Joes BBQ with spicy BBQ sauce and a side of fries
2. He enjoys snacking on the cheapest vanilla ice cream the freezer isle at Winco has to offer
3. He feels most manly when riding his motorcycle (grilling comes in as a close second)
4. He is always reading at least 3 books at any given time 
5. Recently he masterd the art of the metalcore roar
6. In his opinion the only tv worth watching is football, The Colbert Report and Spongebob Squarepants
7. He is an on again off again coke addict
8. Hates top 40 radio
9. On occasion will laugh in his sleep (and have no recollection of it in the morning)
10. The most common words uttered from his mouth are "This is the best [blank] I have ever eaten"
11. His toes pop at least once a minute.
12. Hates when wet towels are left on the floor
13. Has defeated the Big Juds Burger challenge
14. He loves the smell of drying laundry
15. He likes editing papers

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Random Facts

I really like to make lists. It's sort of a compulsion. I would share my grocery list but that would be strange...right? Right. Here's a list about me! 

Fifteen fun facts about Amanda

1.       My favorite thing to wear is a dress
2.       Cookies are my favorite food
3.       I love the east coast. Like a lot.
4.       I have to check behind the shower curtain before I pee, to make sure there’s not anybody in there.
5.       I burn grilled cheese sandwiches every. single. time.
6.        My car is always a mess
7.       I hate the dimple in my chin
8.       I love string cheese
9.       My best friend (and husband) call me Mandersnatch (in reference to the Bandersnatch from a poem written by Lewis Carroll)
10.   I hate taking the tags off new clothes – I’m always afraid I might want to return something
11.   I really enjoy grocery shopping
12.   I have a big pet peeve with the way people eat/drink. If it’s too loud, too gulpy, if there’s heavy breathing after drinking, if the utensil hits the plate/bowl too much, etc. I’m extremely sensitive to strange eaters/drinkers.
13.    I love fake American Chinese food – Let’s talk about Panda Express?
14.   I have severe claustrophobia. No elevators, no underground parking garages, and I realllllly struggle traveling via metro, if I think hard enough about it even being in the car can be too much.
15.   I have an obsession with tiny baby things. Baby carrots, baby humans, baby pigs. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cowboy Cookies

I love cookies - all kinds. But I do have my favorites and these are one of them. These cookies are so much more than the standard chocolate chip cookie. These little guys are full of texture and flavor. They're rich and cinnamony and chewy. There are many variations of cowboy cookies with all kinds of strange ingredients (corn flakes?! what) but these are the ones that I grew up eating packed full of all the best ingredients, coconut, chocolate, oats...etc. The recipe is extremely versatile as well, you could add a handful of white chocolate chips or exchange the pecans for walnuts, or omit them all together. Add more chocolate chips if that's your thing or replace a 1/2 cup of butter for a 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Options are endless. The dough freezes beautifully, normally I'll bake about half and freeze the rest of the dough so that when the craving hits I have cookie dough at my fingertips. Try them out soon and share with someone you love.  
Cowboy Cookies
4 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1 cups chopped pecans (I do half the dough with nuts and half without)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat for another 2 minutes till light in color and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Slowly add in the flour mixture, blending until just combined. Add the chocolate chips, oats, coconut, and pecans and stir until fully incorporated. Cover dough and let it rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour before baking. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a baking sheet, bake for 8-10minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove cookies from pan and allow to set on a cooling rack.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


The spice of the season, my favorite new accessory, my cousins precious baby Brooklyn,
fall fruit stand, a crisp autumn afternoon, the most perfect mode of transportation, beautiful white roses on my night stand.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

These muffins are my favorite fall treat! The spicey, pumpkiny flavor just screams October. The best part is they are so simple to make, so when the craving strikes they'll be ready in about a half hour! I love the pumpkin chocolate combination they pair so well together but if chocolate is not your thing replace them with chopped walnuts, raisins or both! It's not really fall until you try these muffins!

 Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins


1 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar 
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin with non stick cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients (including sugar and spice) till completely incorporated. Add soft butter, pumpkin and eggs and mix well into dry ingredients. Add chocolate chips and stir gently into batter. Scoop batter into muffin pan until 3/4 full. Bake 20 minutes until edges are light brown. Watch carefully not to over bake to avoid dry muffins. Enjoy!

Culinary School: Week 6

School this week was awesome! I think it's because we made so many yummy (and in some cases interesting) things to eat! In pastry and baking this week we focused on sweet bread, we made challah and gibassier. Challah is Jewish holiday bread braided and baked to perfection. Made with lots of eggs and lots of butter, it was yummy I'm looking forward to making some challah french toast this weekend! Gibassier is a traditional bread from France, flavored with anis seed powder and orange blossom water. Anis seeds come from the spice star anis, the flavor is quite strong and black licorice-y. An overabundance could be too much but just the little bit that we used made the bread taste great! After the Gibassier is baked it is brushed with a healthy portion of clarified butter and tossed in sugar. Hows that for sweet bread? In my cooking class we made Gnocchi, a potato pasta that is utterly delicious (I think this was my favorite thing I made this week) and had a demo on homemade marinara  sauce, the two paired were so good. The gnocchi cooks up to be so light and fluffy. I struggled with the shaping of my little gnocchi guys but they still tasted great. We also made fried frog legs this week, I wish I could say that I liked them but they were awful! The meat was so tough and chewy and literally tasted like frogs (and the environment in which they live) smell. Finally we made our first fancy, complete dish. It was a grilled pork chop with apple bacon gastrique, and yes it tasted as good as it sounds. We made a caramel type mixture with brown sugar bacon and onions and then added apple cider vinegar, sliced apples and sage, and let it cook down to perfection - that's the gastrique, a sweet and sour sauce. The gastrique was served over the pork chop with sauteed summer squash and gnocchi. My taste buds were going crazy it was soooo good. I'm looking forward to experimenting with variations of the gastrique - I'm thinking peaches and balsamic vinegar topped with a little goat cheese crumble? Anyway all in all a fantastic week of classes! 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hidden gem

I was organizing some old photos on my computer yesterday and came across this. I don't know why the three year old version of me is wearing that giant sombrero but I think it's hilarious. I love the exposed tummy and toothy grin. Toddler perfection. Can life go back to being that simple?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cinnamon Peach Crisp

Know what I want to talk about today? Peach Season. Really there should be five recognized seasons Spring, Summer, Peach, Fall, Winter. Who's with me? Let's take this matter to Washington, or at least our state senator. Change 2013. Ok kidding, but really. Fresh peaches - so good. Fresh peach crisp - soooooo good. Sliced peaches sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar topped with a crunchy oatmeal and almond crust, served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream...try to tell me your mouth is not watering right now because I know it is. This peach crisp is fabulous and with the peach season coming to an end (tear) make the most of those fresh peaches and try out this delicious dessert

Cinnamon Peach Crisp:


For the peach filling:
10-12 cups sliced, peeled peaches (Fresh are best, but frozen work too as long as they are thawed)1/2 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger

For the crisp:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds (just add extra oats if you don’t want to use almonds)
1 1/2 cup oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup flour
1 cup butter

In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and spices. Add sliced, peeled peaches to bowl and toss gently to coat, set aside. In another mixing bowl combine brown sugar, almonds, oats, cinnamon, flour. Add butter using a pastry cutter (your fingers, or a fork work great too) and work it into the flour oat mixture, until its course and crumbly. Pour peach mixture into a large ungreased baking dish or 9x13 glass pan, sprinkle oat mixture on top and press down lightly. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 35 - 40 minutes, until the crumble topping is browned around the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool 1 hour on a cooling rack. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream, enjoy!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Five reasons why October is my favorite month

1. Pumpkin muffins are the un-official official food of the month
2. Being able to coordinate my outfits with nature
3. Halloween candy - specifically candy corn
4. It's the month for all things scary (haunted houses, scary movies...)
5. Finally it's not 800 degrees out side

(Farmers Market October 2011)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Peanut Butter Cookies

This recipe will produce best peanut butter cookies you'll ever make. No kidding these little morsels of goodness are so tasty. A good peanut butter cookies should melt in your mouth,  and taste really peanut buttery, be sort of crumbly, and not super greasy,  but still be super soft, these cookies are all of those things and then some. They're really easy to whip up and bake up beautifully, trust me on this one make these cookies! The peanut butter lover in your life will forever be indebted to you.

Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder 
3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar, for rolling dough balls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars together till light in color and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time mixing between. Mix together dry ingredients and slowly add to the peanut butter/sugar mixture till just incorporated. Scoop out 1'' balls and roll in 1/4 cup sugar, place dough balls on a greased cookie sheet and make the traditional criss-cross pattern with the back of a fork. Bake cookies in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until there is light browning around the edges.  Remove cookies from baking sheet and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.