Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Balls!

Happy Holidays everyone! I wanted to share with you my favorite Christmas cookie recipe -- Christmas Balls. Of course I can't talk about delicious Christmas balls without channeling the SNL sketch with Alec Baldwin showing off his Schweddy Balls on NPR. Trust me, bake these balls and you won't be able to wait to get them in your mouth too! Christmas Balls
  • 1 c. butter 2 t. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 t. water or milk
  • 2 c. sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. chopped pecans (chop 'em pretty small)
  • thin confectioners frosting (about 3/4 c. powdered sugar + 1-2 T. milk)
  • coconut or colored sugar

Cream butter and vanilla; add sugar, creaming the mixture until light and fluffy. Blend in water. Stir in flour, mixing well. Add pecans. Shape in 1" balls. Bake 1" apart on ungreased cookie sheet in 325 degree oven. Bake 20 min. or until firm to the touch. Cool before removing from pan. Frost with conf. frosting and coat with coconut or with red and green colored sugar.

I decided to bake Christmas Balls yesterday when the first blizzard of the season had me holed up indoors, relishing wearing my jammies all day. Turned out I had all the necessary ingredients for balls except for 1 cup of pecans. Rats! I tore apart the cabinet looking for some kind of nutty stand-in, and luckily I came across the remains of a stash of "Culinary Touch" nut mixes sent my way by the fine folks at Fisher Nuts. These blends, intended to "add delicious flavor to any dessert or meal" were about to do just that.
Fisher's pecan, cranberry, orange blend seemed like it would work, and perhaps even improve my balls.

Whatta you know, the touch of cranberry and orange made my favorite Christmas cookies even more delicious. Didn't even think it was possible! It took me awhile to find a use for the Fishers Culinary Touch blend, and this was the perfect occasion.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

In my last post I was prepping for Thanksgiving, hosting for the first time! Everything went great, the parents were pleased and delighted to meet one another, though we barely made it through cheesecake and boardgames before passing out from exhaustion.

I can't take too much credit though. While my main man did most of the cooking, I merely handled the clementine cranberry sauce and the pumpkin cheesecake. Thank you to my friend Nancy who suggested an alternate recipe from Smitten Kitchen which I actually ended up making for the big feast. I tried Martha's the weekend before as practice, but it never quite solidified in the middle. It did however make a delicious dip for ginger cookies!

That said, next time I think I will combine both recipes and make Martha Stewart's cake (baked somewhat longer) with the pecan crust from Smitten Kitchen and the sour cream frosting. It will be the ultimate pumpkin cheesecake!!!

So I know Thanksgiving was about a month ago, but do you think it's ok for me to eat the last 3 slices of cheesecake still hanging out in the fridge?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thanksgiving Dress Rehearsal

With two sets of parents coming to our tiny Brooklyn apartment for Thanksgiving, we set up the table tonight to make sure we could wedge it between the coffee table and the entertainment center. We're also stock piling the traditional provisions, as you can see above.

I'm going to try my hand at my first ever cheesecake with this Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe from Martha. Got the springform pan and everything. Wish me luck! If it fails I'm gonna feel like our rotting Halloween pumpkin here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins

It's fall, and that means it's time for my favorite seasonal treats -- pumpkin treats! To kick off the baking season, I reasoned that muffins would be a healthy treat if I stuffed them full of protein-rich quinoa. Try this recipe for a healthy-ish, pumpkin-y breakfast. I found it on The Daily Green. I also made my own pumpkin pie spice and substituted vinegar+milk for buttermilk:


Makes 12 muffins

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups quinoa, cooked and drained
2 eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened canned pumpkin
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds or pepitas

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil or butter a 12-cup muffin tin or line with muffin tin liners.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, pie 3. spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the quinoa, separating the grains with a fork to distribute evenly.

3. In another bowl, beat the eggs, then add the pumpkin, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla extract. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Gradually stir into the dry ingredients until just incorporated.

4. Spoon the batter into muffin tins and sprinkle sunflower seeds on top of each muffin. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the muffins are browned around edges and a tester comes out clean. Let the muffins rest for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Popsicle Test Kitchen

With the last sweaty month of summer beating down on NYC, it was perfect weather for popsicles. Inspired by the People's Pops (pictured above) who have been selling their local ingredient-made pops at Brooklyn Flea and other neighborhood spots this summer, I set out to try my own hand at freezing up some treats.

First I went with an old standby that Mom and I used to make when I was a kid. Yogurt pops. I distributed a couple heaping spoonfuls of Stonyfield Farm's strawberry low-fat yogurt into six popsicle forms and with small chunks of fresh strawberry mixed in. Verdict? Delicious, and relatively guilt free!

My second popsicle project was a recipe I found via ReadyMade Magazine. I had some trouble making the two layers of semi sweet and super sweet coffee work with my particular popsicle forms, but it worked out in the end despite lots of sticky condensed milk and coffee squirted all over my kitchen. If I did these again, I would omit the less-sweet layer. Sure the two-toned pop looks cute, but I found myself racing through the icy and somewhat watery dark layer to get to the extra sweet bottom layer.

Try this one for yourself here: Vietnamese iced coffee pops on Cookbook Catchall

Finally I decided to see if I could replicate the delicious watermelon mint pops that People's Pop were selling at the Flea. I harvested mint from my sprawling window mint plant -- the only thriving plan in my apartment -- and set to work blending it with watermelon chunks in my food processor.

The results were pretty good, though if I did it again I would strain the blended watermelon first and then add the mint so as to omit any extra seeds or stringy bits that snuck by me.

People's Pops are still supreme, perhaps due to the sheer pleasure of enjoying them in the hot sun instead of my own kitchen. Some things are best enjoyed outside of the home.

When a Problem Comes Along, You Must Whip It

Need a rug to tie the room together? No problem. Now you can adorn your floors with the artwork of songwriter and Devo man Mark Mothersbaugh.

"They'll cover a hole on the floor; you can sweep things beneath them. You don't have to feel reverential about the artwork. You can walk on it. You can do your prayers on it if that's your predilection. And there are many ways to get rug burn on it." - Mark Mothersbaugh, about his rugs on

Visit Nowhere Limited to purchase you own limited edition rugs. But hurry while it's not too late, to whip it, whip it good...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blueberries, Blueberries, Blueberries!

After a bountiful harvest of blueberries last weekend in the Berkshires -- FIVE pounds of hand-picked berries in fact -- I had to figure out what to do with it all.

Maybe eating pie and cake all week isn't the best way to keep my girlish figure in shape, but since blueberries are a miraculous wonderfruit antioxidant, that makes it ok, right?



I turned to for a less-guilty pie recipe that uses extra lemon zest for sweetness and instant tapioca vs cornstarch. The results were citrusy and delicious, albeit a little soupy.

What I am most proud of, however, is my first ever homemade pie crust!


How do I win over my boyfriend's heart just a little more? By baking a kick-ass version of his mom's own cake recipe. Of course this could go badly should I not quite stack up to Mom...

Phew! Thankfully I passed with flying colors. Here's this family recipe so you too can impress your boyfriends. I also amazed my intern Pete, who after two months in NYC away from home was probably really thrilled to have something home baked.

  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
  • 2 Cups sifted sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten w 1tsp real vanilla extract
  • 3 Cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 1 quart (4 Cups) blueberries (preferably fresh) dredged in 1/4 Cup flour
  • cinnamon sugar to taste (I go heavy with it)
In a large mixing bowl cream butter well, add sifted sugar & cream again. Add eggs & vanilla, blend well and set aside. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder and add alternately with the milk to the batter mixing well after each addition. Fold in the dredged berries. Pour into a 9"X13" greased & floured baking pan ( I use Crisco shortening) and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. If using a glass or very dark coated pan bake at 325 degrees. Cool on rack before cutting. Yum.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Slap Chop Rap

There is just no introduction that could do this justice, so just watch...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Moldy Thumb

Just thought you might all enjoy the wonder and mystery of the mold that has taken over my succulent plant.

I mean seriously, what IS that yellow thing? On the up side, and so you don't think I'm a total FAIL with plants, check out my thriving herb garden. The trick is that it's outside so nature waters it instead of me.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Boone's Farm Cake

Don't ask me what I was doing on the Boone's Farm Fan Club site, but I came across this enticing recipe. Cake mix, instant pudding AND crappy strawberry wine? I just might have to try this out:

Boone's Farm Wine Cake

Special thanks to Boone's Farmer Kendra from Roseville, California for submitting her soon-to-be world famous Boone's Farm Wine Cake recipe:

Mix together:
1 box Yellow Cake Mix
1 box Butterscotch Instant Pudding Mix
4 Eggs
1 Cup oil
Once all mixed together add
1 Cup Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill Wine
dash of Nutmeg

Pour into Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 - 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let set for 10 minutes to cool before inverting onto plate.

Thanks to Sarah N for the photo of Dan B

Thursday, May 14, 2009

House Gymnastics

I cannot decide if the guys behind House Gymnastics are brilliant bohemians making the best of their home environment when a gym membership is just too costly...

...or are they dudes who just never grew out of jumping up to slap the tops of doorways or slide down banisters in the school hallways. Whichever it is, I applaud them for making an art of it. Plus they are kind of hot.

I wonder what they recommend for getting footprints off the walls.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sweet Victory

My personal baking hero, The Cake Hero Melissa Torres, won the Brooklyn Kitchen's 3rd Annual Cupcake Cookoff with these delightful spring cupcakes! Vanilla cake with frosting made from real strawberries and springtime fondant decorations.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Digital Grilling

How to solve the problem of grilling on the tiny slab of concrete you call a backyard while also enjoying tunes from your iPod as it strains to blast tunes out your kitchen window?

The miGrill - a tabletop gas grill with built-in speakers.

Just plug your iPod right into the miGrill's base where its speaker module will provide the soundtrack to your very compact BBQ. Seriously, how did we ever grill without this?

Thanks once again to Thrillist for tipping me off to the weirdest crap.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Spending Some Green on Mom

I was delighted to stumble across a shop around the corner from my apartment, newly opened on Earth Day -- Green in BKLYN. As you might guess, they specialize in eco-friendly gifts and housewares including Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day cleaning products as well as treats, cleaning supplies and wearables for doggy and baby. Eager to support a new local, green business I picked up a tea towel for Mothers Day featuring one of Mom's favorite kitchen phrases.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Home + Garden Reno for Hipsters

If I had a few thousand more dollars squirreled away and was ready to gut and reno that brownstone in Clinton Hill or that Victorian home in Ditmas Park, I'd be way psyched for this event next week at The Bell House. Advice for the hipster homemakers.

TUE 4/7: 6pm-8pm / FREE: front lounge

*Darrick Borowski (of Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture) talking home renovation.
*Alice Kreig and Carmen Devito (of Groundworks Gardens) to talk about plans and outdoor renovations.
*Rob Slifer (of Professional Advantage/Eastern Bank) to talk about how to get the $$!
*Eve Levine (of The Corcoran Group) to host and answer real estate questions.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

iPhone Birthday Cake with Cupcake App

I've frequently shown off the edible work of my baking buddy Melissa, but this one really, um, takes the cake.

iPhone birthday cake complete with cupcake app. Sweet.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hott Mugs

In addition to my favorite Democrat Mugs, which allow me to press my lips up against Obama and Eleanor Roosevelt, Fishs Eddy now sells Nudie Mugs in green and yellow.

Is it weird that I've been posting a lot lately about racy housewares?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

From Snuggie to...

...the COUCH DRESS! The larger, more elegant, more hand-crocheted sister to the blanket with arms known as the Snuggie.

Weighing in at I'd guess like 100 lbs, this colorful, grandmotherly blanket gown comes with two flower broaches... for when you want to take Couch Dress to the opera? I'd like to hear if Couch Dress fares as well as Snuggie in the outdoors.

Note to shoppers: Pantalaine will customize this item to fit you and any loveseat or sofa in your home.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Erotic-Glass by Wilson

Looking for something to adorn your windows or perhaps the top of your buffet? Want something classic, but with a twist? Look no further than Erotic-Glass by Wilson, a crafty Canadian lady who brings a little sexiness to the timeless craft of stained glass.

Nipples? Check. Bondage? She's got it. Menage a trois? You bet. There's nothing classier than a woman having her head held against the nether regions of her lover, or a man cupping a woman's breast while she gives him the ole reach around.

Certain images are crafted in reflective mirrors, stirring one to ask, as Wilson puts it, "In whose hold does she find her 'safe haven'? Is it in the arms of a loving partner? Could it be in the arms of potentially anyone seeing their own reflection in the mirror? Or could it be her stonger inner self?"


How "safe haven" and bondage go hand in hand, I'm not sure. But hey, that just ain't my thing. Somehow the fact that some oddball middle-aged lady in Ontario is crafting this sultry stained glass makes me find it more adorable than creepy.

Much thanks to Thrillist for bringing Erotic-Glass to our attention!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Paula Deen Pantsed

Lovable granny chef Paula Deen lost her pants at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Oh my!

Speaking of Paula Deen, last night I was treated to a delicious dinner of baked french toast and eggs in spicy tomato sauce. Nothing quite like breakfast for dinner! The baked french toast was a Paul Deen recipe, minus an entire stick of buttah. The eggs recipe was from Everyday Food, with these edits by the chef:

I used mexican cotija cheese (instead of feta) and sprinkled chopped cilantro on the whole thing at the end. Another tip: I recommend carefully squeezing up the whole tomatoes in your hand then adding them into the sauce -- messy, but easier than breaking them up with a spatula. Also I used one can of crushed tomatoes and one can of whole peeled tomatoes.
This fantastic meal, which also included a bread salad, a basil and tomato salad AND sausage and grits, was only a precursor to a tasty and recession-friendly Soup Swap... which I will tell you all about soon. Still slurping soups...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Boyfriend Jeans: Making Extra Desserts OK!

As I squeezed myself into my skinny jeans this morning, regretting downing the extra helpings of Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding leftover from my Valentine's Day dinner, and the extra red velvet cupcakes my Valentine brought me from Baked, I thanked the fashion gods that ripped-up boyfriend jeans are in for Spring.

Perfect timing too since two of my favorite jeans have recently worn holes in the thighs and crotch, my black denim Levi's even ripping straight across the ass when I tried to hoist myself into an SUV (another reason to loathe those vehicles). It was all just fate making my wardrobe up to date for the new season!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day at Home Sweet Home

With the economy in the toilet, who has the money to eat out anymore? Waiting around at busy restaurants on Valentine's Day only to be surrounded by people on awkward, high-pressure dates just isn't my idea of fun anyway. Better to cook at home for your sweetheart this year, so here's a few suggestions for different types of Valentine's:

First Date / Guy You Lured Home Earlier from the Bar
A first date calls for some social lubricant! Epicurious offers recipes for the "Top 5 Sexiest Cocktails" and food pairings. Home Sweet Homewrecker suggests skipping the food pairing to just focus on the fancy booze.

The Old Ball and Chain
Split up the cooking duties. One of you tackles the main dish and the other the sides or dessert. This way you both have a project you can work on in the kitchen, together! No waiting around for your food wondering what to talk about. And do the dishes tomorrow.

Daddy Daughter Date
This is what I'll be enjoying this V-Day. Dad likes Triscuits and Miller High Life, so I think I got it covered!

Flying Solo
Don't have a Valentine? Who needs 'em! Curl up with a box of Annie's Bunny Pasta with Yummy Cheese (for maximum cuddle and comfort levels), your NetFlix and hit the hay with your man arm pillow. Is that weird?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cake Porn vs. the Diet

I had just eased into day-three of my half-hearted New Year's diet, the first day where I'm not totally starving or madly craving cake (even though on a normal diet I don't eat cake for weeks at a time without noticing). So of course I stumble across this. A recap of some of the most delicious, gorgeous, drool-worthy confections from across the country. It's enough to make me want to go on a cake-eating road trip.

Included in Cake Spy's confections of the year recap is the pumpkin whoopie pies from Brooklyn's Baked, where I just the other day gave in to the Brewers Blondie and a strong cup of coffee that gave me a toothache and the shakes, respectively, and ignited the desire to go on a diet in the first place. Oh sweets, harsh mistress, it's a vicious cycle!