baking · comfort food · cupcakes · dinner · easy · gluten free · healthy · lunch · mushrooms · pasta · potluck food · vegetarian · veggies · Yummy

Mushroom and Oat “Meat”balls

The snow situation has been out of control lately. Last weekend Harriet (my cat) and I decided to hibernate at the boyfriend’s place while a blizzard raged outside. Is there anything better than eating comfort food, snuggling inside, and watching Netflix for hours while it snows like mad outside? Yeah, actually… it gets better when you add booze. I drank nearly an entire bottle of vodka over the course of the weekend, mixing it with grapefruit juice and laziness. We spent our time in various reclined positions on the couch, watching anything we could find on Netflix or HBO Go, only getting up to refill our drinks or play a rousing game of Super Mario Brothers. We also got up once to give all three cats “meowtinis” for the fluffy one’s birthday, which was really just tuna and tuna juice in a martini glass.

This is the only photo of these two getting along. Not pictured: The birthday boy (he doesn’t give a fuck about tuna, and just wanted his crunchy treats)

The plan was to stay Friday and Saturday night, then get the hell out of his way on Sunday morning. He and I walked out to my car Sunday morning, and found it under a mound of snow. It took 30+ minutes, lots of pushing, the help from a bobcat (that didn’t help AND scratched my car, me almost crying, then my BF finally maneuvering it that last few inches out of the snow. I was trying to get to Acro, but wanted to stop home first to shower. I wasn’t going to have time for a shower, but would still have time to clean up at home and change cloths. WRONG. There were two snow storms back to back, and this was the second one. That means that there were tons of open parking spots on my street, but they were filled with so much snow that my car wouldn’t be able to get into them (much less out again).

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ARE YOU SEEING THIS?

I would not be stopping at my apartment due to lack of parking, so I had an extra 20 minutes to kill. Filled with rage, I drove over to the fancy grocery store for a latte and a cupcake. I walked into the store, past the bouquets of flowers, $40 teddy bears, gourmet cheese, fresh baked bread, and made a beeline for the bakery counter. There were perfect little cupcakes lined up behind the glass, and I wanted one. There was no one at the counter, so I took my time making my decision. After circling the display several times, I made a choice. Chocolate cake with salted caramel buttercream. But where the fuck is the bakery clerk to help me? What the fuck is happening right now? While the individual cupcakes are behind glass, there are 4 packs of cupcakes sitting out for anyone to grab. Since my rage level was already at capacity, I ripped a 4 pack from it’s stack, and stomped to the register. When I got to the car, I decided to share the other 3 cupcakes with my acro friends.

When I got to acro, I decided I wanted to eat another cupcake after class. Seems silly to share 2 cupcakes with a group of people. So I decided to leave them in my car for whenever I had a cupcake craving next (they would obviously be gone within a day). I referred to them as my car cupcakes, and stand by that as one of my best ideas to date.

I wish upon you all the joy of car cupcakes.

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Mushroom Oat “Meat”balls

24oz mushrooms, finely chopped (if you have a food processor – use it!)

1/2 to 1 onion, finely chopped

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup quick oats (or regular oats pulsed in the blender a couple of times)

1/4 cup parsley

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons parmesan

2 eggs

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop the fuck out of those mushrooms (and onions). This shit took me nearly an hour. Twenty-four ounces is a LOT when you’re chopping. So maybe invest in that food processor before embarking on this journey. Or just cut the recipe in half like a normal human. When you’re done chopping, throw the onions into a large skillet along with a drizzle of olive oil and crank the heat to medium-high. You ever play that Wii game Cooking Mama? It’s like that right now… you gotta time it right otherwise everything gets fucked up. The original recipe says to cook the mushrooms first. Well, that’s bullshit. The onions take longer to cook, so get those rolling first. Stir ’em around a bit and let ’em cook for a few minutes. They’ll start to soften and become slightly translucent. That’s when you want to add the mushrooms. Let everything cook down. Once it’s all starting to brown slightly, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now it’s time for the garlic. Once you’ve added the garlic, you’ve only got maybe 3-4 minutes before it burns. I suggested cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, and then removing from heat. Scoop everything into a large bowl and add all the other dry ingredients (wait to add the eggs!). Stir it all together. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then mix into everything else. Grab a spoonful of the mixture and roll around in your palms until it forms a ball. Line up as many balls (lol) as you can onto a greased baking sheet.

Original recipe says to refrigerate for 2-12 hours. I did not do that. It turned out fine. This recipe also makes an obscene number of balls. I believe it was about 32 total, which is great if you have a large family or a potluck to attend. I do not, so I shared with my boyfriend and only baked a few at a time (keeping the mixture in the fridge for a few days). You could also just cut the recipe in half.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Throw ’em on top of some pasta,  maybe stuff ’em into some French bread for a meatless meatball sub, or crumble some up onto a pizza. Get creative! Then shove as many balls into your mouth as you can!

baking · breakfast · brunch · cake · Christmas · comfort food · dessert · easy · Holiday recipes · potluck food · quick · snacks · vegetarian · Yummy

Cranberry Orange Bread for Christmas

I struggle hard with gift giving. There are very rare occasions that I really nail it… but it’s almost never on someone’s birthday or around Christmas. This year I agonized over presents for my family. My mom always tells me not to get her anything (classic). So I’m left guessing. I know she genuinely doesn’t care what I get her, but I have to get her something. I mean, she gave me life.

I have to be very honest here… I literally almost got her nothing. This is not a proud statement for me. I kind of just threw my hands in the air on Christmas Eve and yelled, “FUCK IT,” startling my cat and probably several neighbors. But then I got to thinking about it, and I remember that not everyone is like me. Some people like knick knacks and nonsensical pretty things. So I went to one of my favorite little shops with a certain someone who was able to finally help me make a decision. I wandered through the whole store bitching and moaning (honestly, I don’t know how he was able to put up with me) that she wouldn’t like any of it. He held up shawls and scarves. I scoffed and pouted as I continually elbowed my way through the crowds of other panicked daughters. We walked into the kitchen area where he suggested a cookbook. Sighhhh. She doesn’t really cook much – not from new recipes anyway. And she’s not a new kitchen gadget kind of person. It just ends up frustrating her, and then she asks what was wrong with the way she was already doing the thing that the gadget is supposed to make easier. “How about this?” he asked, holding up a tea steeper in the shape of an adorable animal. But she doesn’t like tea. Or coffee. I honestly thought about getting her a case of Tab (yes, in fact, it is 1976), but she flies back to Florida next week. Also, seems kind of impersonal. I was about to give up when he said something along the lines of, “She doesn’t care. She’ll love whatever you give her,” while holding a pretty candle holder that had a forest pattern on it when lit, and I was convinced. The madness was over.

My love language is acts of service. I mostly want to feed people to show I care. I want to help them with a problem, support them when they’re struggling, help them paint their new apartment, or move into a new place. That’s how I show love. That’s what comes most naturally to me. Gift giving is hard because I want everything I give to be meaningful – because I really want to be of service. Turns out gift giving doesn’t have to be that serious, and I just need to calm the fuck down sometimes. Shit. Like, what’s the big deal? Buy someone a candle and move the fuck on.

Also, who are those people that purchase the perfect gift whenever they happen to find it and then hoard it until that person’s birthday or Christmas? HOW DO I BECOME YOU?

I made this bread along with some pumpkin bread to give my family as well. Because let’s be real – I’m never going to stop feeding people.

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For the bread:

1 cup cranberries – fresh, frozen, dried (or a combo – I did mostly fresh and a handful of dried)

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg (at room temp… place into a warm cup of water for 5 minutes if you forget to set it out)

1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup buttermilk (Don’t have it? Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to regular milk.)

1/3 cup vegetable/canola/coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons orange zest

 

For the crumble top:

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into cubes

 

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice (I used the juice from the orange I “zested” for the bread)

As much orange zest as you like!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan (or several mini loaf pans!) and set aside. You’ll want to make the crumble top first and set it in the fridge, just so it’s all ready to top the batter.

For the crumble top:

Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium to small mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter in with a pastry cutter (for the fancy folks), a couple of forks (I found that to be impossible), or your hands (this is easiest!) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set in the fridge.

For the bread:

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add in the cranberries and set aside. In another bowl, mix the egg with the brown and white sugars until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and orange zest. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing gently but thoroughly. No lumps allowed! The recipe says to not over-mix… not sure what happens if you do. Try not to fuck it up.

Pour the batter into grease pan(s) and cover with the crumble top, pressing it lightly into the batter. Bake for 45-60 minutes (the smaller pans need less time, so check them after 35 minutes).

For the glaze:

Whisk all ingredients together. Boom. Done. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan(s) and drizzling the glaze over the top.

Give these to everyone for Christmas/Birthdays/etc. Or just eat them all by yourself. Fuck it.

baking · cake · comfort food · dessert · Yummy

Gingerbread Cake for Thanksgiving

 

This is my very first Thanksgiving without my mom.

She’s not dead or anything – she just opted to stay in Florida. Who the hell could blame her? Sunny beaches and no one demanding anything? Fuck yes. I totally fucking get it. But now I don’t have a Thanksgiving meal being cooked for me. That’s a fucking bummer.

I spent three Thanksgivings living in New York during my early 20’s. My mom visited every single one of those Thanksgivings and cooked me a full dinner. I’m spoiled fucking rotten, and I know it. We once had a Friendsgiving at my giant, rent controlled apartment with a group of my misfit friends from the cafe in which I worked. It involved a LOT of champagne and ridiculous behavior (my mom is cool). The photos from that night are embarrassing and hilarious. My face is all shiny and my eyes are glazed over. I think I drank something like 4 bottles of champagne. I mean, that’s normal, right? Humberto was still living there, and everything was right in the world. As much as we tried to recreate it, it never fell together that well again.

Since my mom isn’t in town for Thanksgiving, I am having a mini Friendsgiving (is it still called that when it’s only 2 people?). I asked if he would be into an apple/pumpkin pie combo (can you believe that is a thing?!). He immediately responded with, “What’s wrong with you?” Okay. So no combo pies. FINE.

That means we get gingerbread cake, which is usually my go-to Christmas dessert. This cake is dark and not all that sweet – sort of like dark chocolate. It’s lovely despite it’s plain appearance. Please serve it with fresh whipped cream. You won’t be sorry.

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Gingerbread Cake

1 stick of butter cut into cubes

1 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 cup unsulfured molasses

2 large eggs (room temp, lightly beaten)

2 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

Whipped cream (homemade is best)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add the baking soda and watch it foam up like a little kid’s science fair project. I have no idea why this is a necessary step, but, you know, science. Let it sit for about 5 minutes before stirring in the butter until it melts. Whisk in the brown sugar and molasses. Mixture should be lukewarm at this point. If it’s too hot, let it sit for 10-15 minutes to cool down. Pour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in eggs.

In a medium mixing bowl, throw in flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking powder. If you’re feeling fancy, you can sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix well and pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. And then, per all my cake baking instructions, throw that shit in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. It stops the baking process and keeps it moist as fuck. You’re welcome.

I photographed this with reddi-whip, but don’t be like me. Serve it with fresh whipped cream. Don’t know how to make that? You literally just whisk the shit out of some heavy whipping cream, a splash of vanilla, and a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar. If you have a mixer, use that. If not, you can do it by hand – trust me.

baking · biscuits · breakfast · brunch · comfort food · dinner · easy · eggs · mushrooms · vegetarian

Vegetarian Biscuits and Gravy

 

I’ve never been big on biscuits and gravy. It seems like a lot of carbs in one meal… not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not my thing most of the time. That being said, this weekend was cold and rainy. It seemed like the perfect time to start baking and carb loading, so that’s exactly what I did. I also wasn’t feeling the greatest, so it felt good to bake and lounge.

Last summer I was having a hard time with my anxiety. While most people with anxiety feel safest at home… my home was triggering a lot of it for me. This made it hard to be home alone, which was frustrating because I was newly divorced and living alone. Being the amazing human that she is, Hannah offered to let me stay at her place whenever I was feeling overwhelmed. This happened a good handful of times. Her husband was supportive of this, and would often cook us breakfast in the mornings. He makes bomb biscuits and gravy, which was something I didn’t even think I liked. I remember one instance when I spent the night on a Friday. Hannah had to work in the morning, but I slept in. Her husband made me breakfast anyway. Some people might think that is weird… but fuck those people. I needed to get out of my apartment, and they welcomed me into their home. Not only that, but they treated me like family.

I’m really lucky to have so many good humans in my life.

This version isn’t the same recipe Hannah’s husband uses, but it’s still pretty great. While I’m still learning how to bake biscuits that are light and fluffy, I fucking killed it on this gravy. I’ve been a little mushroom’d out since making that mushroom barley soup a few weeks ago, so I didn’t add as many mushrooms to this as I normally would. Instead, I opted for some veggie sausage. You could easily add more mushrooms and omit the sausage. Or you could omit the mushrooms and add more sausage. This can easily be made vegan (see substitutions in the recipe), or you could add meat. I love when one recipe can be adjusted without much fuss.

Vegetarian Biscuits and Gravy

For the biscuits:

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 tablespoon sugar

6 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed (or shortening)

1 cup buttermilk (or milk/nut milk)

 

For the gravy:

1/4 cup butter (or oil)

1/2 cup onion, chopped or diced

2 veggie “sausage” patties, chopped

A handful of mushrooms, chopped

2 1/2 cups almond milk

4 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

1/2 cup veggie stock

1/4 teaspoon thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

For the biscuits:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the cold, cubed butter either with a pastry blender or your hands. I chose hands because I’m not fancy. This just means squishing the butter into the dry ingredients until it is crumbly. There will still be some small chunks of butter remaining. Add the liquid all at once and stir it in quickly (but gently) for about 20 seconds. This didn’t work as well for me, and I ended up needing to add more buttermilk. The dough should be soft… mine was dry/flaky. I did the best I could. Once your dough is ready and the right consistency… scoop it onto a baking sheet. This will make about 12 biscuits. I just used my hands to make medium sized balls of dough. The more I read about making biscuits, the more I think that is a bad idea. I guess they don’t like to be touched that much, and it can cause them to be hard (like mine). Sigh. It’s a learning process for everyone involved. Let me know how you handle it, and how they turn out. Mine were still good, but could have been softer/fluffier. Bake your biscuits for about 15 minutes, until they are lightly golden brown.

For the gravy:

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Throw in the onions and saute until they begin to soften (3-4 minutes). Add in mushrooms and cook another few minutes, until soft. Add in the veggie sausage. While the veggies are cooking, place the cornstarch into a small bowl with a little bit of the milk. Whisk together until it becomes a smooth paste, then slowly whisk in the rest of the milk. Once the veggies are cooked, pour in about 1/3 of the milk mixture and stir until it begins to thicken. Slowly stir in the rest of the milk mixture, mixing well. Pour in the broth and seasonings and continue to stir until everything thickens. Gravy will be thick and bubbly. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

I like to serve it over a biscuit that’s been cut in half, and then top it with a fried egg. You could totally eat this without an egg, you could add veggies, you could pour it over potatoes instead of a biscuit (Fuck. I’m definitely gonna do that). Whateverthefuckyouwant.

It is an excellent breakfast for dinner situation, too.

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Nom nom nom

baking · cake · chocolate · comfort food · dessert · snacks · vegetarian

A Disaster of a Chocolate Strawberry Cake

This cake was delicious, but a fucking mess. I forgot to grease the cake pans like a goddamn amateur. It was my friend’s birthday cake (sorry, Stacy), but she was nice about it. Seemed wasteful to throw away perfectly good cake that was just a little (a lot) broken. We don’t waste cake around here!

Speaking of which, I went to a wedding 2 weekends ago where they had chocolate cake with Bailey’s cream in the middle. FML. YAAAASSS. I had two pieces, and I’m not even a little sorry. Wedding cake slices are tiny as fuck. I had one after dinner, like a normal human. Then I drank a bunch and ate another one a few hours later. I know how to do a wedding right.

It should also be noted that Hannah and I fucking badgered our way into this wedding like fucking pros (except it was by accident). I never thought Jeni would give in to our bitching about wanting to be flower girls (I never got to do it as a child). When she came up to us several weeks ago to announce that we’d be walking the dogs down the aisle, our jaws dropped. Were we really so annoying that she put us in her goddamn wedding? I can’t believe it, even now. It’s like we have a super power or something. I think we should go around begging our way into weddings more often. And dog walker? Fuck. That’s literally the best job in the wedding party. We didn’t have to buy fancy dresses, or plan any parties. We just got to show up, play with dogs, and still be apart of the whole thing.

I fucking love weddings that don’t involve dancing. This one took place in a bowling alley (but, like, a fancyass bowling alley), and also had a photo booth. I know all the hipsters do photo booths at their weddings, but my friends and I have never been cool enough. This was legit my FIRST photo booth. Excitement! And the wedding was for a coworker, so most of my badass work friends were there. We got together for a clinic photo and that shit fucking killed me. The longer I look at it, the harder I laugh. It literally NEVER stops being funny. Hannah and I did one together, too, which is just fucking fantastic. I can’t with these people. I love them so much.

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Are you seeing this?! We’re pretending to stab the bride. Obviously.

We also all traveled “up north” together last weekend. For those that don’t know, “up north” in Minnesota refers to basically anything more than an hour or so north of the Twin Cities. It’s where everyone goes on the weekends in the summer. The thing is, I don’t love being in nature, so I don’t often go up north. Stories from our drunken adventures will be in the next blog post. Have I mentioned yet how much I love my co-workers?

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Chocolate Strawberry Cake (originally from here – which is where you should go to see what this is actually supposed to look like)

For the Cake:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
For the Frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and slightly cooled
For the Ganache:

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream

For the garnish:

Sliced strawberries – as many as you’d like. I used about 16oz.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. GREASE THE PANS RIGHT AWAY (don’t be like me, or your cake will fall apart). You’ll need two of the 9 inch round cake pans.

In a stand mixer, throw in the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well, then add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat for 2ish minutes before adding the boiling water. Pour into GREASED pans (again, don’t be like me). Bake for 30-35 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean). At this point, I like to place my cakes into the freeze to stop the baking process. Leave ’em in there for 20ish minutes. Remove from the pans (this is easier if you greased the pans).

For the frosting:

Start by beating the butter on high in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate. Once smooth, set aside to make the ganache (aka the BEST part).

For the ganache:

Heat the cream in a small pot over medium-high heat until it starts bubbling around the edges. Place the chocolate into a small, heat-safe bowl and pour the scalded cream over the top. Let sit for a minute. Stir until smooth.

To assemble:

Spread the frosting over the bottom layer of cake and top with sliced strawberries before adding the second layer of cake. Pour the ganache over the whole thing. Let it set for a couple of minutes before adding more sliced strawberries.

Done. Nailed it. Eat up! Doesn’t matter if it looks janky. Serve that shit with no fucking shame. Never apologize for baking someone a cake.

 

baking · cake · Cheesecake · chocolate · comfort food · Dating · dessert · vegetarian

Brownie Cheesecake for a Visitor

As previously mentioned, my love language is “acts of service,” which is primarily demonstrated through cooking and baking. Since the guy was visiting from Hawaii last week, and I had missed his birthday by a few weeks, I made him this birthday cheesecake (which is better than a boring normal birthday cake). He mentioned in passing once that he loves cheesecake. I pay attention to these things. He also mentioned that he doesn’t like cream cheese, which obviously doesn’t make any fucking sense. Honestly, it was almost a deal breaker, but I was able to move past it. I’m mature like that.

The cleaning frenzy was out of control to prepare for his visit. I bleached my bathtub for God’s sake. WHO AM I? I just kept hearing my friend, Liz, teasing me for the mold and soap scum during her last visit. To drive her point home, she drew a heart in the soap scum with her finger, which was both cute and disgusting.

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Y’all. This visit was incredible. We saw so many things, and had so many conversations and experiences. He tried AcroYoga for the first time. He attended a Yin class that I taught. We drove to Duluth and walked along the shore of Lake Superior (where he picked up trash and I swooned). We went to the science museum and the sculpture garden. I cooked dinner while he made cocktails. We went to fancy ass restaurants. We ate the most marvelous food together, including peanut butter stuffed jalapenos (The Butcher and the Boar) and a hamburger that was sauteed in duck fat (New Scenic Cafe). I ate meat despite my vegetarianism (FML, that shit was good). I don’t know why he has that effect on me. I just so rarely have dinner with someone else that loves food as much as I do. It makes me want to try everything being served.

Despite all the fun things we did together, my favorite part of the whole trip was simply walking around the city. We sat together. We people-watched. We talked. We held hands. We watched the sun set. I was basically living inside a movie. Obviously.

At the end of the visit, I cried a bunch at the airport. Like, a bunch. It was messy and embarrassing, as most human experiences are (at least the ones worth having). When I apologized for crying and “being weird,” he simply said, “Don’t apologize. You’re open and honest. I appreciate that about you.” I’m sorry… what? Who the fuck is this guy? What the fuck is happening? Am I being punked?! (Does that reference make me sound old?)

There’s still a 4,000 mile barrier and a lot of uncertainty. I get that. But, fuck it. I’m holding on as long as I can, while remaining open and honest. Isn’t that what life is all about? Staying open to the experience? #noregrets

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Anyway! There are several steps in this recipe. I sort of enjoy the fact that it looks really complex (and comes across fancy as fuck). While it can be a bit time consuming, it’s actually fairly simple. Don’t let all the steps scare you! Go make this for someone you care about, or just for yourself. I have a friend that likes to eat this cheesecake in the bathtub while listening to Tom Waits. My guy ate it for breakfast in his underwear (which is the biggest baking compliment I’ve ever received – also, y’all know how much I love eating sweets in my underwear). This is a judgement-free zone. You do you.

The trick to making this pretty is not skipping the ganache layer. Ganache provides it with a smooth, luxurious finish. Otherwise it can look sloppy as fuck. Don’t be a sloppy fuck. Plus, why would anyone even consider skipping an extra chocolate layer? It’s absurd.

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Brownie Cheesecake (originally from Smitten Kitchen)

For the brownies: Follow the instructions here. Set in fridge until cool (I made these the night before). Once cooled, cut into smallish squares (approx. 1″).

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For the crust:

1 1/2 cups finely ground chocolate Teddy Grahams (or Annie’s brand Bunny Grahams)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix all the crust ingredients in a medium bowl. Press into a greased pie pan, getting some up the sides as well. Set in fridge until ready to fill.

For the cheesecake:

3 (8 ounce)  packages of cream cheese, softened

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sugar

2 cups brownie cubes (You will have extra! You’re welcome!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. On a lower speed, add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and sugar.  Make sure to scrape the bowl occasionally to get all that good stuff mixed together. Once everything is fully incorporated, fold in the brownie cubes. Pour filling over the crust and bake for 45 minutes. Outer edges will brown slightly. Let cool completely. I usually throw it in the fridge right away, but that’s not what the pros do because it can cause the top to crack. We’re not worried about cracks, though, because we have some motherfuckin’ ganache to cover all of our mistakes. Only cover with ganache once fully cooled.

For the ganache:

3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Bring heavy cream to a simmer (basically once the edges start bubbling), and pour over the chocolate chips. Let sit for a minute or two, then whisk together. Pour over the cooled cheesecake and place back in the fridge. Once set, dig in!

Now then, I’m off to finish the last piece of this… while watching Netflix in my underwear. I suggest you do the same.

baking · breakfast · brunch · comfort food · Dating · dessert · easy · Fruit · jam · pie · snacks · Tarts · travel · vacation · vegetarian

Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts

I texted Cortney today, “I miss you. I want to come visit and drink iced coffee in the rocking chairs. Then we can go for a swim at our beach.” She responded with, “I’m ready. Let’s do it.”

Don’t have a lid for your sauce pan? Just cover with another pan! Lids are for rich people.

The rocking chairs are special for us. They’re all along the front porch of the Moana Hotel in Waikiki. Cortney took me there on my first trip to Oahu 2 years ago because it’s a great spot for people watching. I had ordered iced coffee from the coffee shop attached to the hotel and impulsed a few macaroons as well. We settled into our chairs with our fancy cookies and proceeded to check out all the hot people that walked by, having one of our many epic conversations. That experience stuck out to me. It’s silly, because we also went snorkeling and hiking and touring and did a million other amazing Hawaiian things. This was just one random morning. But for some reason, every time I think about visiting her again, I imagine those rocking chairs.

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During my most recent visit we recreated it. It was the morning after my second date with the guy. I refused to tell her anything about it until we were comfortably seated in our chairs with iced coffee and macaroons. She was dying. Keep in mind, Cortney has never met the guy. He is merely a friend of a friend. She didn’t actually have a clue how our dates were going to go, or if he was going to be a crazy person that sends unsolicited dick pics. For all she knew, he could have been a fucking murderer. Honestly, it’s mostly just dumb luck that I’m not dead right now. Okay, I’m being dramatic, but after my Tinder experiences I have become a little (understandably) guarded. So we sat down in our beautiful wooden rocking chairs, taking bites of our tropical flavored macaroons, and I finally launched into the story about the night before, when I discovered that I had found someone incredible. And we did what Cortney and I do best… we talked it all out. She let me gush, and then offered up her thoughts/feelings/encouragement. She allowed me to be unapologetically myself, just like she always does (and what I try to always do for her), and encouraged me to feel all my feelings. While I skipped zero details with Cortney (often starting statements with, “This is a little TMI, but….”), I will skip almost all of the details with you, dear readers. Just know that this person made me feel like I was enough, just as I am… in all of my very human glory.

(Side note: He’s coming to visit me next week. “Excited” is an understatement.)

When Cortney visited last fall, we made hand pies. This is a variation of that, but better (in my opinion). The only annoying part is the fucking dough. All the freezing of shit and the waiting. I’m not great at waiting (duh). It turns out that it’s worth the wait, and it’s easy as fuck to make. Get on it, y’all. You won’t be sorry.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts (inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

1 1/2 pounds rhubarbs stalks (or approx. 6-10 stalks depending on size), cleaned and trimmed of leaves/dirty ends

1 cup dark brown sugar

a splash of vanilla

2ish tablespoons strawberry jam (Thanks, Stacy!)

Slice rhubarb in half, length-wise, and then chop in approximately 3/4″ pieces. You should have about 4 1/2 cups, but it doesn’t have to be exact. Set aside 1 1/2 cups. Combine 3 cups of the chopped rhubarb with the brown sugar and vanilla in a sauce pan on the stove over medium-low heat. Cover and let sit for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should become pretty saucy. Uncover and increase heat to medium, cooking for another 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and causes the spoon to leave a trail at the bottom of the pan. Once finished, stir in the strawberry jam, letting it melt in. Finally, add in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of rhubarb. Pour into a bowl and set in refrigerator until cool.

For the crust: follow instructions from Fruit Hand Pies. Except you’ll just put a scoop of the filling in the center of a piece of dough and mush the sides up around it. It’s like a little bowl for jam… that you can eat!

Place them on a greased cookie sheet (or cake pan!) and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. This should make about 8-10 tarts. I only had enough rhubarb for 4 tarts. Then I ate one before the final photo, which is why there are only 3 finished tarts. Fuck it. I’m human, and I was hungry/had a craving. My only regret is that I didn’t make more.