an easy schmeasy yummy decadent dip...

Are you looking for something to make for New Year's Eve that is delicious, fast and easy? For all you guys that want a dip you literally can throw together in less than 5 minutes (plus the 30 minutes bake time)- this one's for you. I'd forgotten all about it for years, until The Husband requested it for Christmas Eve luncheon. It was gobbled up. Then we made it Christmas Day for another crowd- still good and still decadent.

Four Ingredients

The halogens don't make for the best photo lighting,

but the jumbo lump crab made it tasting extra special.

Hot Crab Artichoke Dip

1 can artichoke hearts (not marinated)
6 ounces crab meat, drained
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375º F. Chop the artichoke hearts into bite size pieces. In a medium bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, crab meat, mayonnaise and parmesan cheese. Put the mixture into a 10x7 oval gratin dish (an 8x8 square is fine too) and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and is the top is golden.


peace • love • joy

photo courtesy of The Son

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas,
a Happy Hannukah,
and a wonderful, buttery New Year!




cranberry cobbler

I bet when you saw the title, you were envisioning some type of fruity baked dessert with a biscuit/dough/streusel topping. I'm sorry if I disappointed you, but there are cranberries, yes. Flour, no. Gin, yes. Butter, no.

You start with some cranberries cooked slightly in a simple syrup,

 cooled and muddled with citrus fruits, steeped with gin and sherry,

 strained, poured over crushed ice 

 and then topped with a sprig of mint.


butterscotch snowball cookies

White and powdery. Fun and tasty. Round mounds of snowy perfection. Doesn't this cookie epitomize the season we're in? I make these every winter and rarely at any other time- don't ask me why. Probably too busy making other cookies. But the recipe comes out every December, no fail.

Snowballs, aka Mexican Wedding Cookies/Russian Tea Cakes, are typically made with some kind of chopped or ground nut; in this iteration, I've included butterscotch morsels with the chopped pecans. Make sure the dough is chilled, otherwise the balls become disks- still tasty, but flat.


the best cranberry nut bread

Though I did not personally name it the best, (Cook's Illustrated did,) I would whole-heartedly agree that this is a hard recipe to beat. The bread has much to offer:

it is spongy and tangy from buttermilk,

 citrusy with orange zest and juice,

 and tart from the cranberries.


turkey, roasted red pepper, pepper jack panini

Have you enjoyed a gut-busting weekend of non-stop eating? I'm trying not to regret that piece of pecan pie I just ate for dinner, but it was calling my name. As was the vanilla ice cream. In my house, the sweet leftovers are always the first to disappear.

Tomorrow, I might tackle the turkey, and while a turkey/stuffing/cranberry sauce sandwich will be The Hubs' lunch of choice, I'll veer away from from the previous day's flavors and add a little heat and cheese.

The Daughter threw together the combo last month and I loved it. The pepper jack lends just enough chili heat, the roasted red peppers add a slight sweetness and char, and turkey, well, turkey is what's available, right?

Turkey, roasted red pepper, pepper jack panini

turkey, sliced thinly
roasted red pepper slices
pepper jack cheese
good-quality artisan bread (ShopRite sells La Brea breads, your local Whole Foods would have something good)
olive oil
panini press

Using a pastry brush, oil the outside of each slice of bread. Layer the meat, cheese and red pepper in between the bread. Place in panini press and press for about a minute or two, or until golden brown.


boozy cranberry sauce

How far in advance do you start cooking for your Thanksgiving dinner? Have you started yet? I'm sure you've made some sort of list, if you haven't already gotten all the shopping done.

So far, I've made one thing. And it's taken about 7 minutes. Ok, maybe 12. I love the ease, simplicity and do-it-ahead-check-it-off-your-list quality of recipe. If you haven't ever made cranberry sauce from scratch, you should give it a try- just boil cranberries with some sugar and water, hear it snap! crackle! and pop! and then turn super thick. Cranberries have natural pectin, which cause them to thicken beautifully while cooling down after being cooked.


turkey leg placecard

Kids love surprises. Put anything into a brown paper bag, tell them it's a goody bag, and watch their eyes get big with anticipation. Use it as a place card... or should I call it a place bag?... and you get double the pleasure.


ginger and molasses cupcake {msc}

"What was I thinking?" is what I asked myself as I looked at this recipe last week. A few months ago, I chose this cupcake for the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club (to which you can belong, too- just check it out here.)  I suppose that ginger could be an autumnal sort of flavor, particularly paired with pumpkin or pear, (try saying that five times fast!) but when you add molasses with it, it starts heading into the direction of gingerbread. I must have been in some sort of fog, or I was being extremely forward thinking in having an option for wintertime.  Let's just choose the latter reason.


thanksgiving oreo turkeys

Aren't these the most adorable Thanksgiving treats? Don't they bring a smile when you see it? Turkey on the right is checking out turkey on the left's cold feet. (We ran out of yellow...)

They make a wonderful addition to the Thanksgiving place setting, or as The Daughter plans, a goodie to hand out to her team's last practice. This is our first year to try it them, and I'm pretty sure they're going to become a tradition.


all-in-one holiday bundt cake {bwd}

What are your favorite flavors of autumn? Is it pumpkin? Cinnamon? Apple? Cranberries? Pecans? How about all of the above, wrapped up into one delectable bundt cake?

That is exactly what the bakers at Baking With Dorie Greenspan baked this past week.  I was very excited to tackle the recipe —then the storm came and potatoes and cookies upended my baking schedule, but here the cake is, a little late, but in all its seasonal glory.

It's wonderful for breakfast or with a mid-afternoon snack. The cake is moist and lightly spiced, the cranberries are tart, the pecans add a nice crunch to it. I didn't have the time, but I would suggest toasting the pecans before adding them to the batter.


thankful cookies aka momofuku milk bar cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookie

Thanksgiving came early for me, and not in the usual form of turkey dinner, family gathering, and celebration.

I gave thanks and had an incredibly grateful heart because...

We got our power back!  (You know how they say that you don't really appreciate what you have until you don't have it...)

baked mashed potatoes with parmesan and bread crumbs

It's Mashed Potato Time, and over a hundred food bloggers are participating in the Crazy Cooking Challenge, which exists to find the Ultimate Mashed Potato Recipe. I had recently bookmarked this recipe from Bookcase Foodie, so this challenge was a perfect fit.

I enjoyed these potatoes, particularly with the mozzarella and parmesan cheese. The Daughter wished the potatoes could have been creamier (use heavy cream then,) saltier (I've got high blood pressure and have salt issues- she can add what she wants) and more buttery (ditto to adding a pat of butter.) She managed to down three servings, so they couldn't have been that bad.


halloween cookies 'n cream cheesecakes

 ♫♪♫ Do you know exactly how to eat an Oreo? ♬ Well, to do it, you unscrew it ♪♫...

OR, you slap chop it (very fast),


halloween whoopie pies

"WHOOPIE!" Don't you just want to holler it when you see that word?

The Amish have a thing for the whoopie pie, as do New Englanders. Maine legend states that a baker had extra cake batter, poured it into molds, slapped some frosting in between, and there was born the whoopie pie.  I like the Amish version of the beginnings, where the Amish women placed these cake treats into school children's lunch pails. Upon opening up their meal, the kids would yell, "Whoopie!"

You should bake up a batch (or maybe pumpkin ones!) and see if kids will exclaim the same.


pumpkin brown butter cupcakes

If you're a baker, you've probably already tried a pumpkin recipe this fall. Maybe a loaf or two of bread? Whoopie pies with cream cheese filling? Perhaps a pie?

May I suggest to you another baked good to add to your arsenal of autumn sweets? These cupcakes, I admit, have the texture more akin to bread or a muffin, but there is an ingredient that makes this oh-so-special and worth a try.

Browned butter. You use it not just in the cake, but also in the icing. Lick the bowl, good to the last drop, positively, delectably delicious. And oh, the aroma! The nutty, rich smell of the butter...

The flecks of milk solids are turning golden at the bottom of the skillet.

You can see some of the flecks in the batter.

Vanilla is used in the frosting, along with browned butter,
confectioner's sugar, and a smidgen of milk.

Even without the icing, the cupcake/muffin is pretty darn good.

With the icing, however, the cupcake is divine.

Thanks to Monica of My Cupcake Journey for choosing the wonderful recipe. I baked this with a bunch of bloggers who are baking through Martha Stewart's Cupcakes- you can join in on the fun too if you'd like!

Tastewise, I felt it was little flat. I would add at least a quarter teaspoon each of ground ginger and cardamom to the spices. Also, I didn't use sage in the recipe. I didn't want that herbal note with my pumpkin cake.

Pumpkin-Brown Butter Cupcakes
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for tins
1⅔ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for tins
¼ cup fresh sage leaves, cut into chiffonade (optional)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Brown-Butter Icing (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Brush standard muffin tins with butter; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the sage, if desired, and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown. Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; let cool.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs and brown-butter mixture. Add flour mixture, and whisk until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

To finish, dip top of each cupcake in icing, then turn over quickly and let set. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are glazed; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

Brown Butter Icing

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk, plus more if needed

Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat, swirling pan occasionally, until nut brown in color, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour butter into a bowl, leaving any burned sediment behind.

Add confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons milk to brown butter; stir until smooth. If necessary, add more milk (up to 2 tablespoons) a little at a time, just until icing is spreadable. Use immediately.

This post is linked to Chic and Crafty


brioche au chocolat

This is The Little Girl's latest project:

Hello people of the Earth and beyond! The Daughter has returned (trumpets play victoriously in the background). 

Today, I've made Brioche Au Chocolat. While labor intensive and difficult to make (well, at least for me), this little pastry is absolutely, positively delicious. The rich pastry cream and smooth chocolate filling make me feel as if I have gone to Heaven and come back down. As it says in Flour, "...you've got an out-of-this-world indulgence."

This uses only ½ of the dough, and you wonder what to do with other half? You can bake it up into a loaf, freeze it for later use, or make the coming-soon-to-blog chocolate marzipan coffeecake. YUM!


pumpkin streusel coffee cake

Today is THE PERFECT fall day. Loads of sun. Breezy cool air. Auburn leaves. Invigorating and refreshing, all the day needs now is a little cinnamon and spice.

Enter this pumpkin cake. I mixed it up in about 20 minutes, and it baked for about 40, just enough time for me to de-clutter the kitchen and get the bathroom cleaned. All in time for my music meeting.

The Committee Members enjoyed it, with two of them saying that they're not huge pumpkin fans and that this was the perfect amount of pumpkin. (They don't like pumpkin pie, so if you do, you might want a recipe with more pumpkin in it.) I personally like pumpkin any which way, a little more, a little less, it's all good.


"k" cream puff

The Baking With Dorie baking assignment was Peppermint Cream Puff Ring. I wasn't quite in the peppermint cream mood (come back in December and I'll be singing a different tune,) so I went with plain whipped cream. I piped the dough into a "k" rather than a round for a celebratory cream puff birthday dessert for The Daughter.

Ideally, I would have made some chocolate to top it off, but I ran out of time and drizzled some Fat Toad Caramel Sauce.

Their caramel sauce is made from goat's milk and is extremely creamy, silky, and delicious! Everyone liked this choice of topping, I think, even better than the would-be chocolate. (Apparently, I'm the only chocoholic in the family.)

Thanks to Tina at My Inner Domestic Bliss for picking this fab recipe. I love any excuse to make cream puffs! She's got the recipe on her site, and you'll want to check out her pretty creation. All the other bakers have their results posted here.


chocolate dipped pretzels

Can you believe that we're already saying good-bye to September and hello to October? Time seems to move faster in the fall. I thought it'd be fun to usher in the month with some chocolate dipped pretzels.

The Chatty Student (his mom often yells from the other room, "... Stop telling your teacher about the day and start playing!") brings sprinkled, chocolate-covered pretzels every Christmas. They've become his handmade tradition that I always look forward to receiving, hiding (who says I need to share?) and sneak-eating.


chili topped baked potato

Inspiration comes in many forms. An incredible picture. A few poignant words. An impeccably dressed person.

For The Kids, it was the Food Network magazine's insert, 50 Stuffed Potatoes. The cover photo of the pamphlet garnered an immediate "Let's Make THIS!" reaction. The photo of the overstuffed potato, brimming with chili, sour cream and grated cheese made us drool.

I baked the potatoes and they topped to their hearts' content.

There are a few time-saving techniques you can use. Instead of baking the potato in the oven, you can microwave the potato. Using a fork, poke holes a few times to allow steam to escape. For four potatoes, start with 8 minutes, and then check for doneness. Canned chili and grated, packaged cheese also help. Do what suits your time constraint and preference. Then dig in and enjoy!


summer {iheartfaces}

I interrupt the usual baking and cooking to participate in a fun photo challenge sponsored by i heart faces

The Nephew made an appearance on this blog last year with some potato latkes. He spends a month with us every summer (well, two so far), which means we get in some quality pool time. He is a bit ambivalent about water, but doesn't mind playing, as long as his head doesn't get soaked. You can see the look of consternation in his face; his expressive eyebrows ~ like tildes ~ make me smile.

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