power of the pause- hot chocolate mix

I thought I had paced myself this December to create some space for breathing. Even with good intentions, decorating, shopping, gatherings, parties, rehearsals, and performances filled up the to-do list and crowded out the silent moments. If one such moment appeared, it was filled with dvr'd TV. (Hello, Homeland! Scandal! Goodbye blog posts.)


chocolate crinkle cookies

Generally speaking, cracks are not appealing. Cracks in sidewalks, in ceilings, in heels and chapped lips- they are all very ugh-inducing. This, however, might be the one and only instance where cracks look good, even alluring. I say the more cracks there are, the better!


oreo owl cookies

These owls are a delightful treat to share with neighborhood kids- big AND small. They require no baking and are fun to put together.


mississippi mud torte

"This is rich."

Those were my first thoughts after taking my first bite.

Maybe it was because I'd just finished a huge Korean meal of bulgogi, seafood pancake, and jap chae, maybe it was because there are three different layers of chocolate in this bad boy, but can I tell you, IT WAS INTENSE.

If you're looking for a dessert that knocks you over with texture, flavor and power, you're at the right place.


chocolate-coffee ice cream pie

fool∙ish   /'fo͞oliSH/ :
     lacking good sense or judgement; unwise

That about sums up my decision to single-handedly work my way through this pie. I couldn't resist. It was 80 degrees out today, (as it was yesterday, and last week). I needed a pick me up.

I used just about every single excuse to justify my actions. Perhaps it can be argued that it would have been foolish of me NOT to eat it, it was so darn good.


lemon drop cake

Buh-bye, Summer!

Today's the last day (autumnal equinox occurs at 10:29 EDT tomorrow) and I'm trying not to shed a tear. Even though school's been in session for two weeks, even though I can't stand the humidity of August, even though I do love the fall season, saying good-bye always makes me a little sad.


crumb coffee cake

Hey everyone, I hope you're having a fine summer. I was watching my new guilty pleasure, Rush, on USA Network, and saw a back-to-school commercial. Wham, bam, kick to the gut. I felt as though my summer was dwindling to a close.

Now, I know for some of you (North Carolina people, I think?) you're already in session, and for many of you, school starts at the end of August. Here in NJ, it's always been after Labor Day, so yes, I want still want to think that I have nearly a whole month of vacation left! That said, my kids are at a two week sleep away camp, so talk to me after they're home for two weeks, and you know that school can't start soon enough.

But I'm not here to rail against vacation and back-to-school angst, I'm here to talk about this yummy coffee cake! I love the crumb to cake ratio (heavy on the crumb), the flavors are simple and straightforward, the texture moist and firm.

You can find the recipe over at kimchi MOM, where I'm guest blogging today. She is not just a friend in the blogosphere, but a friend in real life (you'll read why.) While you're there, take a look around her site; she has some amazing, delicious recipes you'll be inspired to try. (I'm partial to her Indian Style Roasted Cauliflower.)


taco seasoning mix

I never ever thought to make my own taco seasoning mix until The Daughter earmarked a recipe in the Food Network magazine. It was wonderfully simple, quick to throw together, and I'm guessing, cheaper than the packaged kind from the supermarket. If not less expensive, at least healthier. Once you make your own, you'll never buy a pack again!

Of course, I can't find that particular recipe in that particular edition from a few particular years ago... so I've been using the most popularly reviewed one on allrecipes.com.

Here is my variation—

Taco Seasoning Mix
adapted from Allrecipes.com

1tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground fennel (optional, some of The Family preferred it without this spice)
2 teaspoons cornstarch

In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

Mix 3 tablespoons of the taco seasoning and ½ cup water with 1 pound browned ground beef. Simmer until combined.


gluten-free almond butter cookies

I had one compelling thought as I was taking these photos. Brown cookies do not make great photos. You will just have to trust me that these cookies taste better than they look.


morning glory muffins

Are you one of those who combines different cereals for breakfast? I definitely am. I got hooked decades ago in college. With the cafeteria's huge selection, I mixed away. I haven't stopped since. (This morning it was Kashi GoLean Crunch with Peanut Butter Captain Crunch. I mix high/low, healthy/unhealthy. I need balance in my life.)

I appreciate variety, and that's why I'm drawn to these muffins. You could call these Everything-but-the-kitchen-sink and be very close to the truth. The more stir-ins, the merrier.



I like cornbread. I really do. But my baking relationship with cornbread is complicated. We have issues.


lemon pound cake

We are a few weeks into Spring and here in the Northeast, it still feels like mid-Winter. This is when I start thinking seriously about moving to San Diego. I glare at the grey skies. I wander up and down the citrus aisle at the supermarket.


ranger cookie

I sampled this cookie about twelve years ago at The Thespian's home. We dropped by her home unannounced and she pulled out a tub of frozen cookie dough, defrosted it in the microwave, and baked up a fresh batch of cookies for us. I made a mental note of that. What better way to welcome people into your home?!


jam thumbprint

This cookie stole my heart at the last Christmas cookie exchange. If there had been a contest, it would have won first place.


waste not... panettone bread pudding with amaretto cream sauce

You will have to tell me if you disagree, but I don't think I've ever met a moist panettone.

The one Big Brother brought home for Christmas was thisclosetonotdry. (As with all baked goods, the panettone is best eaten the day it is baked.) In previous years, I've sliced, toasted and buttered for a few days and then dumped the rest. In the spirit of wasting not, I found the best solution to use up the leftovers.


super bowl sweets

On February 2, most of America will be firmly ensconced in cushy couches, eating chips, wings, pizza and other gut enhancing foods. I am so there, gut notwithstanding. Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest food-consumption day in the good 'ole USA, behind only, you guessed it, Thanksgiving. For shame, I've never dwelt too hard about the dessert portion of it, as the wings/pizza/chips combo loom larger than usual and take precedence. I usually make a batch of chocolate chip cookies.


waste not... coconut buttermilk pound cake

We are into the third week of the new year ... how are the resolutions going? In recent years, I have pretty much given up resolving to do anything. I'm one of those "I resolve to not resolve."

I will admit, however, to an ongoing desire not to waste. One item, my nemesis, which always gets only partially used, is that darn quart of buttermilk. I use one cup and then manage to forget about it in the deep recesses of the fridge. The inevitable dump down the drain occurs after it's waaay past due and is stinkysourclumpy

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