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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Not dead. Just crazycakes busy.

Hi friends! My, but it has been a while, hasn't it?

It's been so long, in fact, that I forgot how to log into to update. Took me a few minutes and some frustrated, less-than-kosher verbage, but I got in. Obviously.

Anyway, I've gone from casual kitchen blogger to full-swing businesswoman recently. I sucked it up, collected my nerves, and put myself and my cake truffles out there, and it turns out, people love them. I mean, who wouldn't love a cake truffle, really? Trolls, that's who. And probably vampires. I hear they don't eat much.

So, business has taken off like gangbusters, and I've been kind of consumed with that. And the whole "raising kids" thing. But that's just a hobby. Motherhood doesn't pay well.

Anyway, I just wanted to say hello and let you know I'm still around. I'm active on Facebook if you ever want to come say hello. And you can check out goodies on Etsy, too, if you are into the window shopping thing.

I hope you all have a perfectly lovely holiday, full of all kinds of sweet things and whipped cream.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Can't Compete With Pizza

Sometimes I have thoughts that originate outside my kitchen. Sometimes. This is one of them. Kind of. It's still food related, but... um... aw hell. Alright, I confess, this is kitchen related, too.

Last week marked a very special occasion in our household. My five year old son, Monster, is officially a kindergartner. His first day, I completely embarrassed myself while becoming a living cliche. I got out of my car in the circle drive as I dropped him off to wave and snap photos, with parents behind me in their minivans, huffing and giving me the stinkeye for holding up the line.

Since then, I've taken a lot of pleasure in the little things--packing his afternoon snack into his Toy Story lunchbag, reading enthusiastic correspondence that come home from his teacher in his folder every night, secretly throwing away the endless piles of coloring book pages when he's not looking, and best of all, being able to drop off my kid while wearing the comfy pajama pants with the hole in the crotch, flip flops, and no bra. Oh yes. This is the high life, friends. I'm living the dream.

Monday, August 29, 2011

How To Make A Cakepop

Hello friends!

I've had a lot of questions over the last couple months, regarding cakepops. There are tutorials all over the interwebs, but I want to show you my method and address some of the more common questions that seem to come up.

Because I didn't do a separate shoot just for this post, I'll be using a composition of different photos from various projects to illustrate each step. Sorry if that's distracting. Consider, eclectic. :D

I'll start with some of the FAQ I've gotten recently.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cakepop Bouquet

Ahhhhh, school's in! You know what that means, friends. We'll wave goodbye from the drop-off zone, watching our little ones march inside, toting their backpacks and lunchboxes, heads full of all the exciting things they plan to do on the monkey bars at recess.

As much as it makes my heart hurt a little to see my little ones' youth slip away so quickly, I'm thoroughly pleased to see the sticky-hot days pass right along with them. We seem to have hit another heatwave recently, and summer's letting us all know she's not quite ready to be shoved out the door yet.

So, to honor her last days with us, I wanted to make something bright and cheery.

I happen to have several dozen cake truffles that I made this week. They're key lime truffles--creamy key lime cake blended with homemade, tangy lime buttercream to create a luxuriously soft truffle center, drenched in a vanilla candy shell and crowned with sugared lime zest. Yum, right?

I've had this idea in my head for quite some time--wondering what would happen if I repurposed some flowers, added some cakeballs, and made semi-edible bouquets. I wanted to give it a try. I found some silk sunflowers in my craft basket and an empty clay pot on my gardening bench, located a pair of wirecutters, and went to work.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

$10 Dozens! Key Lime Cake Truffles! Limited time only.

This week, key lime cake truffles are on sale for $10 a dozen.

Creamy, tangy key lime cake truffle, neatly dipped in a sweet vanilla candy shell and crowned in sugared lime zest. Mmmm. Tastes like the Caribbean!

The usual price is $18 a dozen, so they're nearly half off. Order now--the sale ends Friday!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ohmigosh! Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I made peanut butter cookies yesterday. Whatev.
I stuffed them with creamy peanut butter and melty chocolate. No biggie.

So hey, you know...just cookies, right?


When you pull apart the soft peanut butter cookie, the warm, gooey center says, "Hi there. I love you." These cookies have serious mojo. And also? They're sorta magical.

I think these need no further introduction.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Client Projects - Super Huge Photo Post

I have been kind of AWOL lately, huh? I haven't been neglecting you, dear friends--at least, not on purpose. No, I've just been spectacularly busy. I even made food that turned out yummy and didn't even take pictures of it, because my brain is off dancing drunkenly in the streets elsewhere. I made crispy polenta cakes and eggs. I made fudge-covered bing cherry brownies. I made marshmallow fondant. Pictures of any of it? Nope. I'm ashamed.

But I DID take photos of the stuff that's been keeping me so occupied. If you follow me on Facebook, you've already seen these photos. And if you're not on Facebook with me.... well then, that's where the cool kids are. You should come. Tell your friends. They want to be cool too, right?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Free Cakepops!!

Hi there, friends!!

If you have not yet started following the Happy Baker on Facebook, you should.
Click "Like" on the top of this page. Tell your friends. Make them Like it, too.

Why? What's in it for you, hm?

Well, I'll tell you.

If The Happy Baker's facebook page can get 100 "likes" by September 1st, I will enter all of my followers' names into a random drawing (done at and the winner will receive a dozen free, handmade chocolate truffle cakepops. And because I love you so much, I will make them extra big, extra creamy, and extra awesome. They'll be gift wrapped all pretty and delivered right to your door with a little thank you note from Yours Truly.

Oh, also! When your friend "likes" the Happy Baker's page, make sure they send me a message or post a comment, telling me you referred them. You'll both get an extra entry into the drawing. Score! No limit on how many entries you can have.

So get to it! Spread the cakepop love! <3

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sweet Corn Spoonbread and Tomatillo Salsa

Today was a lovely day. I don't know if it could have been much better. I slept well last night. I had a luxurious afternoon nap. I met with an old friend for lunch and had a fantastic turkey sandwich over discussion of life lessons and reminiscing. We went window shopping. Kiddo played outside with his friends and came home with a soaked shirt and chugged a glass of ice water. Brainfreeze. It was one of those perfect summer days.

So what makes the perfect summer day even more perfect? How about a spicy, flavorful dinner made with locally grown vegetables and fresh herbs, paired with a side of something soft and sweet? Oh yeaaah. That'll do it.

I had three tomatillos sitting in my produce basket for a week now, feeling lonely and unloved. Truth is, I just had them wrapped up really well and forgot about them, which is a shame because they're SO wonderful. They may not look like much from the outside. If you've never worked with them, chances are good you probably pass them in the grocery store and never even pay them a passing glance.

That just won't do.

Buy one. Or six. And make salsa. They're fab.

The size of the tomatillo you use is up to you. The small ones, about the size of a ping pong ball, are sweet. The larger, more plum-sized ones, are more tangy and have more acidity. On the outside, tomatillos look a little like papery, dry bulbs. (Did you know they're actually a member of the Nightshade family? Unlike its cousins, Belladonna and Jimsonweed, a tomatillo won't kill you. Don't mention the family reputation to the tomatillo, though. okay? It's a really awkward situation at reunions.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Death by Chocolate, part 2

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say something I don't usually say. Ready?

Cake isn't always best when it's tucked into cute little cupcake liners.

Now. That's not to say it isn't completely awesome in little cupcake liners. It is. I'm just saying that sometimes, an old fashioned layer cake might be the way to go. Especially if you're dealing with a moist, fudgy chocolate cake, arranged into four gorgeous layers, stacked up tall with whipped ganache. Oh yes. I'll take a slice of that.

If you've linked to this post from somewhere else, or just happened to stumble across it (hi!), you can find the original recipe and photos here, at Death By Chocolate, part 1

I used this exact same recipe to make a layer cake for my friend Kassia's Dirty Thirty birthday. In fact, I made this right alongside the cupcakes in the above post. You really can't have enough chocolate on your birthday. It's a fact.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Death by Chocolate, part 1

Buckle up, peeps.

We're gonna go on a crazy ride. We're gonna make cake. But not just any ol' cake. No.

Cake with cocoa. And chocolate milk.
Filled with whipped ganache.
Crowned in a cloud of chocolate buttercream.
Dipped in dark chocolate ganache.

Holy moly, right?

Shockingly, these cupcakes, as explosive as they are with chocolatey goodness, are not too rich to eat. The bittersweet chocolate counteracts the sweetness of the buttercream and gives you a nice balance, so it's decadent, but not cloying.

The cake is fudgy and thick, a bit like a brownie. It holds up well to all this deliciousness. When I first saw the recipe, I was a bit taken aback to see the addition of boiling water, but the reviews were awesome, so I went with it. And I'm so glad I did. These things are tremendous.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Butterflies are Love

It's 2:09am.

This is why I can't sleep. I'm FAR too busy playing.

Melted chocolate and a piping bag is open invitation for insomnia. So many fun things to do.

My project tonight was a mess of little purple candy butterflies, perched on top of ganache-dipped chocolate cupcakes. Ohmigosh.

...did I mention that under the ganache is a fluffy cloud of fudge buttercream? Oh, and did I also mention that the INSIDE of the cupcake is hollowed out and filled with whipped ganache? No? Oh. Well it is.

That's one super happy butterfly.

These got tucked into a plain brown hatbox and tied with a purple ribbon. They're going to my son's school in the morning. Teachers need love. Especially teachers who deal with pants-wetting, tantrum-throwing, boogey-eating preschoolers all day. Bless their wonderful little hearts, Lord knows I couldn't do it.

...not without a hefty dose of Xanax and a cocktail.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

New Updates

Hello, friends!

You may have noticed, my blog's got a whole new look. Also, it has caught up to the 21st century and joined Twitter as well. I'm still a tweeting novice, so if you have any tips or recommendations, send them my way! Any awesome groups I should join? Any fabulous websites or blogs to follow?

Also, I have a link on the right to my storefront on Etsy. Now, I hate to be so blatant about merchandising, but I tried the Adsense thing, and frankly, I just hate having ads on my site. It looks awful, and I don't want to spam you guys, ever. You deserve better.

So if you have an event coming up and would like to order some goodies, send me a message. If not, just keep on reading, and send me some comments! I love the interaction, and it's been feeling kind of dead in here lately. I will -always- reply to your comments or questions. And if you tried a recipe, or want to share one of your own, send it along! I'll post it! I love to see what's brewing in your kitchens. <3

Until then, have a safe holiday, and happy eating!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vegan Strawberry Date Bars

Sometimes, I don't want to do stuff.

Sometimes my bed looks far too inviting to want to actually crawl out of it and be productive. And sometimes even pouring a bowl of cereal is way too much work. Get a bowl? Ug. Put the milk BACK in the fridge? Psh. I can't be bothered with all that high maintenance breakfast drama for something blah like Cheerios.

So what's a lazy girl to do when the sun is shining, and the day beckons for something healthy and fresh and wholesome, but you're still schlepping around the house in a ratty tshirt, half asleep? Make these bars, that's what. They come together in, like, 5 seconds. There's very little cleanup, they make just enough for two or three to share (or one hungry baker) and... Hm. What else...?

Oh! That's right, did I mention they're vegan? And gluten free! And you can even easily make them raw vegan if you wanted, if you're feeling extra granola.

This recipe is loosely adapted from one I saw in this month's "Whole Living" magazine. Except I changed some stuff. And added some stuff. But the concept has been stuck in my head since I first saw it, and has been whining to be let out.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rainbow Cake Pops

Hold onto your britches, friends.

Are these not the darn coolest things ever? And the best part is that they're sneaky! On the outside, they're a plain ol' boring cakepop. Sure, they're chocolatey and delicious. Sure, they're creamy and melt-in-your-mouth, but still. Just a cakepop. (Bakerella is hiring a hitman to hunt me down as we speak, for blaspheming so awfully)

But then... You bite into it, and KAPOW!! Totally groovy psychedelic swirls of colorfun jump out and smack you in the face! (Because they're fierce like that. Fierce.) You didn't see it coming, did you? Well, that'll teach you. Don't underestimate the mighty cakepop. (Please call off the hit, B. I love you.)

Anyway, I must say, these were quite a project. I did two batches, and the first was FAR more time consuming than the second. By the time I got to the second batch, I had a better idea of how to go about it, and the results came out much better with much less work. Win, right? I'm all for less work.

So, I'll tell ya how it happened. No magic wands were involved.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sweet Holy Smores, People!

Okay, so I'm trying to come to terms with the idea that my tropical little desserts might not happen. I keep putting them off, and I WANT to make them, but I usually balk at the idea of making a bunch of things that can't be easily given away. And these guys are fragile. They won't pack well or hold up to a lot of shuffling around. So if anyone local wants to come chat a while in my kitchen and take home some yumminess, sing out. I want to get these guys done. Really.

In the meantime, however, I made s'mores. But these are certainly not your typical campfire s'mores, no sir!

I thought of so many friends when I made these.

I thought of Katie and her undying love of cinnamon toast crunch.

I thought of my friends Kassia and Amanda, who are off on a long camping excursion.

I thought of Christy, who I need to go camping with very soon!

I thought of Cara, who stopped by just in time to help, but couldn't stay for a bite. That was tragic.

So you see, friends, there is a lot of love in these s'mores. That's probably why they're just so damn delicious. Or it might be the Ghiradelli chocolate. Or the buttery marshmallow cream. Or the crispy cinnamon toast crunch...

Wait, what's that you say? Where's the Hershey bar? The big spongey mallows? The graham crackers? "Posh!" you say. You say it's not a S'more without those vital ingredients, yeah?

Well, let me tell you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Getting there...

Hello out there.

I wish I had something amazing for you today. I don't.

I'm in the process of making something amazing, though. Something coconut and macadamia nuts. And graham cracker and kiwi. And white chocolate and cardamom. Crazy, right?

Unfortunately, I don't think it'll be done until tomorrow. It's not a particularly difficult or tedious recipe or anything. In fact, I could probably have it all done in about an hour and a half if I wanted to. But I'm afraid I've gotten distracted. Summer has flashed a grin at me, and like a lovestruck teenager, I'm wandering off after it.

Oh sure, I could be baking. But I haven't been. At least, not for more than an hour or so at a time.

Instead, this is what I've been doing this week.

I had cold spaghetti for breakfast. Two days in a row.

I took out the trash.

I browsed for museums to visit.

I gave my daughter a soap mohawk in the bath tub.

I had friends over for queso and a princess movie.

I painted my nails red.

I changed my mind and repainted them plum.

I fell asleep on the couch and woke up to Fraggle Rock. I didn't change the channel.

I said hello to the snake that lives in my garden.

I used clementine-scented bath gel in the shower.

I noticed that my neighbor's garden is overrun with weeds, and felt better about my own.

I fed my mom's cats.

I took a nap in my hammock.

I went for a walk and waved at my neighbors.

I fell for a prank phone call. But only a little.

I said a prayer for a friend. And then said a couple more.

I picked up the same eight baby toys. Again and again.

I introduced my daughter to tomatoes and avocado.

I stayed up until three o'clock in the morning.

I joined a friends' fundraiser relay team.

I listened to some seriously fantastic bluegrass music.

So you see, I've had a busy week. I promise, I'll have something yummy to you soon. Thanks for being so patient. And for those who are have just subscribed, hello! Good to see you. Thanks for joining us! I just know we're going to be very good friends.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gooey Butter Cake Balls

Oh my gosh, you guys! I was just reading through my own blog and saw, several posts down, that I promised you gooey butter cake balls. I never delivered on those, did I? Oh no.

Please forgive me. Let me fix that right this second.

First, some history.

This is a gooey butter cake.

Thanks to for the pic!

It is exactly what it sounds like--it's a cake, it's gooey, and it tastes like butter. It's sweet and rich, and satisfies that urge your sweet tooth sometimes has for something just horribly unhealthy. It's also delicious.

Gooey butter cake is a St. Louis landmark and tradition that originated in the 1930s. According to legend, a German baker added the wrong proportions of ingredients in the coffee cake batter he was making. It turned into a gooey, custard-like filling.

Being a true St. Louisian, I couldn't resist the urge to turn a local point of pride into a lush truffle.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Girl Scout Samoa Twinsies

Happy Friday, friendlies! I am going to preface this post with one disclaimer. I support Girl Scouts. I am totally down with jamborees and sashes. I can get behind the sisterhood thing and helping little old ladies across the street. that Boy Scouts? Meh. Whatev.

Camping? Love it. Patches? Who doesn't love flair! The Girl Scouts are good people. During my pregnancy last year, they singlehandedly contributed to at least 10 pounds of my total gain, purely through the abuse of Do-Si-Do Peanut Butter cookies. En masse. I do my part. You should too. Support your scouts or the terrorists win.

Okay, NOW. I must also say that it is incredibly unfair of said Scouts to set up their booths and peddle crack-laced cookies to the public, and then disappear for another 51 weeks while we all throw ourselves into Thin Mint comas and begin turning on each other in fits of peanut butter withdrawal rage.

So between those magical annual festivals of Girl Scout glory, I want to offer you a substitute to help keep you sated until the Scouts return once again to distribute their wares.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cheese and Almond Creme Blintzes

Happy Monday, dear ones. I hope you're all having a wonderful day. If not, then I hope you have wine.

Did you have a good weekend? I had a fabulous weekend. Barbecue and pool party with the family, then an absolutely stirring concert at a tiny local theater last night. I did a little digging and found a photographer who was there and has photos! ::dance:: Gotta wait for them to be uploaded, though.

If your weekend was as rockin' as mine, you better spill it. I want to hear.

So after an amazing couple days, I woke up this morning and craved something light and fluffy. Pancakes would be too heavy. Toast? Nah. Too dry. Omelet? Eh, too meaty for a balmy St. Louis morning... hm. What could I make?

Oh! Blintzes! Light and airy, creamy, and full of yum. And let me share something with you, friends--I like yum. What could be tastier than thin, toasty crepes stuffed with marzipan-infuzed ricotta filling and drizzled in homemade blackberry sauce? HO boy! Nothing. So I hopped out of bed and whipped up my batter.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Springtastic Salad

It's gray today. It's hot, and the air is sticky, and thunder keeps rolling through but there's no rain. It's one of those days that just makes you want to sit in the air conditioning and not move much.

The perfect cure for the hot-sticky blues is something fresh, bright, and clean. Something sweet and tangy and fabulous. Something just loaded to the brim with all kinds of goodness that comes from the earth.

So on days like these, a salad just fits the bill.

But we can't have just any ol' salad, now can we? Nope. That just won't do. A salad should have texure, and not just texture but contrast! Hot and cold, sweet and spicy, creamy and crunchy, ooh baby, I'm gettin' all shivery. Sounds like one hell of a salad, yeah? Yeah!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ruby Red Streusel Cake

For decades, people have been confusing breakfast with dessert.

Layers of cake, drowned in sugary syrup? Why not? Call 'em flapjacks.

More cake, glazed in icing and filled with jam? Of course! Everyone loves donuts!

Flaky pastry, filled with sweet cream cheese and fruit compote? Well heck, who could say no to danish?

Now normally, I'm definitely more of an eggs and yogurt kind of girl, but today, I'm jumping on the dessert-for-breakfast bandwagon. This coffee cake is brimming with all kinds of fabulous breakfasty fruits. So it counts, right? Serve it up with eggs, and you've got a perfectly balanced breakfast.

No? Well hey, balanced is overrated. I think Marie Antoinette would agree.

As for the title of today's post, the cake itself isn't ruby red, but all the juicy goodness inside of it is. Fresh plump strawberries, tart stalks of fresh rhubarb, and of course, ruby red grapefruit. Oh yes, grapefruit. See, I told you it was a breakfast cake. And with Mother's Day right around the corner, it'd make a lovely brunch dessert. Wrap them in pretty pink liners and you'd have some spectacular muffins for Mom.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Curd and Cookies

Spring is finally here, friends! With rain and flowers come a whole slew of holidays as well. With Passover drawing to an end and Easter about to begin, you might prefer to shut your eyes and kick your feet up rather than slave in the kitchen, whipping up goodies. Well, you're in luck! Mother's Day is right around the corner too, and if you're a mom, kicking your feet up is the name of the game.

However, before we get pampered and spoiled by OUR families, we need to remember our own mothers and make sure the day is just as special for the women who raised us and put up with our childhood shenanigans year after year.

No matter what you have planned for your Mom this year, a little something sweet always makes any day a bit nicer. And what with the flowers blooming and birds singing, that something sweet is all the better when it's bright and bursting with fresh flavor.

Lemon curd! I know the name isn't glamorous, but the flavor definitely is. Thick and creamy, lemon curd is a basic lemon custard that can be used an a million different ways. It can be the bottom of a lemon meringue pie. You can schmear it on toast or muffins (lemon curd on a blueberry muffin? Get out of town, it's to die for!) Or, of course, there's always my favorite way--just eating it with a spoon.

These cookies and curd are perfect for a ladies' tea, brunch, gift baskets, dessert, you name it! And it doesn't take more than the wink of an eye to get everything put together, which leaves more time for you to sit with those feet up!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Beefauxroni Bake

Hello, friends! Good to see you.

My kids and I were strolling through the grocery store today, buying some staples and ingredients for this weeks' Food Forum ingredient challenge. My son spotted a can of Chef Boyardee Beefaroni and asked if we could have that for dinner. Now, I'm not gonna go all snobby on you and claim that the Chef and I haven't had an on-again-off-again romance most of my teenage and early adult life. I still find myself craving those raviolis now and again.

However, beefaroni is one thing that should just never, ever be eaten from a can. It's too delicious made from scratch! Or even kind-of from scratch. I'm channeling the Horrific-Hanukkah-Cake queen, Sandra Lee, folks. This recipe mostly comes from various packages, with a handful of fresh ingredients, but it's FAR better, even in its semi-homemade state, than any canned beefaroni you'll find on a shelf. Not to mention, it's entirely vegetarian, low fat, and kosher (dairy). And the kid loves it! Win/win!

Just please--let's keep this between us. The Chef doesn't need to know, m'kay?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Brown Sugar Blondies

So I poised over the keyboard for a good 15 minutes, trying to write an interesting opening for these blondies. But really, they speak for themselves and require no introduction.

But they do require some raving.

They absolutely melt in your mouth.
They're studded with melty chocolate chunks and chewy caramel gems.
I brought them to a dear friend's birthday party this past weekend, and one of her guests asked if I'd snuck crack into them. Truly, you cannot have just one.

These are some evil damn blondies.

I made an extra large batch for a party of 20. You can halve this recipe for smaller groups, but really, you shouldn't. They'll disappear quickly.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Elotes Asados con Chile

Is there anything better than food carts? Walkin' down the sidewalk, and those savory aromas come wafting by, promising something hot and tasty, all wrapped up in foil like a happy little snack cocoon... Mm. In Philly, you can count on a rockin' cheesesteak sandwich. In Chicago? A dog loaded with all the fixin's. In New York, everything from falafel to bagels and lox. Even at Six Flags, you can count on a food cart to serve up lemon ices, cotton candy, and those freakishly enormous turkey legs.

Nothing bad ever came from a mobile food vendor.

A hot elote just further supports my position. In Mexico, elotes are common street fare. Sometimes they're served up on the cob, and sometimes the kernels are shucked off and served in a cup with a fork. Either way you serve it, you're guaranteed to get some oohs and aahs if you add this recipe to your Cinco de Mayo fiesta. Elotes and margaritas? Don't mind if I do!

But wait. What is an elote, anyway?

Elote: [el-OH-tay] It's awesome. But besides that, it's grilled corn, brushed in a spicy chili lime sauce and rolled in cotija cheese.

Let that sink in. Fresh, grilled corn. Chili lime sauce. Rolled in cheese. Ohhhh yeah.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Whole Wheat Feta Pizza

Every now and then, even the most devoted of dieters craves something a little crusty and covered in sauce. Something a little cheesy. Something a little...oh, dare I say...naughty?

I'm far from a devoted dieter, but with summer fast approaching, I am definitely watching what I put in my mouth a little more closely. But while I'm doing that, my palate doesn't have to suffer. Healthy food doesn't have to be a parade of boring salads or plain chicken breasts, oh no. In fact, the healthiest foods are usually abundant in color and flavor.

Think of all the dirtiest comfort foods people usually turn to--mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, cake, butter, chips, bread, cheese pizza... it's all different shades of brown. That's not pretty. And anything boring to look at probably isn't too healthy, either. Mother Nature is not boring.

The beauty of pizza is that you can put anything on it. There are a million substitutions you could use in place of a processed, starchy crust and gooey mozzarella to make your homemade pizza a little lighter, and a lot more fresh.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Double Sweet Potato Medallions

Alrighty, 'tato lovers, hold onto your seats. This thing is three layers of joy. Sweet potato, layered in sweet potato, seasoned with cayenne and cinnamon, and fried to a golden finish. Holy moly.

I don't know if I should admit to this, but I honestly wasn't expecting them to be this good. I thought, "Eh, let's just experiment a bit and see what happens." Imagine how tickled I was when not only did they turn out beautiful, but also super yummy and very versatile.

You can serve these as I do all my latke dishes--with hummus and green onion-- or with sour cream, greek yogurt, even JAM! Yes, jam. I tried one smeared with a little strawberry jam, and It. Was. Amazing. Cream cheese? Go for it! Honey butter? Get out of town! There are a thousand different variations. You can make them large and serve them under poached eggs for brunch, or you can make them small and plop a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of honey over them for a sweet-but-not-too-sweet dessert. Oh my, I'm making myself hungry all over again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Black & Blue Vegan Tacos

So I suppose I should pause "Tangled" long enough to actually write a blog post tonight, hm? Anyone who secretly has a 6 year old girl living somewhere inside them and hasn't seen this movie, you need to. Really. I've seen it three times today. Hey, at $4.99 On Demand, I'm getting my money's worth. It's adorable!

And just for the record? Wow! I'm completely boggled by what animators can do with graphics these days. All this technology!

...Apparently, I also happen to have a half-blind old lady living inside me who can't program her VCR and thinks "Bluetooth" is a pirate. It gets crowded in here.

Okay, anyway. Dinner.

Any time I think I've come up with a brand spankin' new idea or coined a new term, I go to Google to double check. So far, I only have one recipe that seem to be purely original--gooey butter cakeballs. You haven't seen those yet, but they're coming, I promise. I have successfully created them, and they were fabulous.

Ahem. Tacos. Right.

While this recipe surely isn't anything new, or even all that creative, I didn't see any other taco on Google (in my admittedly lazy and halfhearted search)called a "Black & Blue". So it's mine! I'm claiming it! Make a note.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Red Beans & Rice

Brrr! Yesterday was cold!

I yearned for something hearty that would bring me back to the good ol' days when my mom would make big pots of something hot and tasty for the family and dinner would be served with a giant spoon. I had a pound of smoked turkey sausage hangin' around, and I always keep a stash of dried beans and lentils handy, so I thought I'd go back and visit an old favorite.

Spicy and popping with flavor, this dish hit the spot. And true to tradition, dinner was served last night, piping hot, with a giant spoon. Ahhh, just like momma used to make.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Even though I'm supposed to be taking a brief hiatus from rich desserts, I'm going to make an exception here. I feel like NOT posting these would be robbing you, and I'm pretty sure robbing a friend from sweet, toffee flavored treats is some seriously bad juju. So in the spirit of friendship, I offer you cookies. With melty chocolate. And browned butter.

If you've never tasted browned butter, you should know that it's heartily reminiscent of rich toffee or caramel. It'll lend your cookies a deep decadence without any added ingredients or flavoring. And it's really easy to make, too. Score one for easy, right?

Because the butter in this recipe is melted and browned instead of whipped, the cookies end up thick and chewy. They're the perfect recipe for someone who likes their cookies a bit less fluffy. Oh, and the best part? Your whole house will smell like toffee for days. It really doesn't get much better than this, lovies.

Browned butter:
Also known by the French as "buerre noisette", or literally translated, "hazelnut butter" for its distinct flavor.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Loaded Savory Muffins

[Editor's Note, post script] It's been about 5 hours since I made these, and I've eaten four. I double checked my ingredient list to make sure I didn't add crack somewhere along the way, but nope...didn't see any. So, fair warning: These things might cause your family to call A&E and hold an intervention. [/Note]

I'll be the first to admit I went a little overboard when making breakfast this morning. It ended up being a bit of a "clean out your fridge" recipe. I started with scallions, sundried tomatoes, shallots, red pepper, and kalamata olives...and then I thought, "Wait! I still have that artichoke bruschetta topping left over. That'd be good!" And then when I plucked the jar out of the fridge, I saw a package of soy crumbles that I'd opened last week and need to be used. So I threw those in. And then I realized I had a container of feta I had bought for...something... and figured, why not?

It got away from me a bit. But I'm so glad it did.

I had been wanting to make something like a frittata for some time now, and when my 5 year old son crawled into bed with me this morning and asked what we were having for breakfast, that's what I figured I'd make. But I wasn't really in the mood for eggs. Once inspiration hit, I'm sure I got that glazed look again, and the mind went wandering.

Muffins may be the world's perfect food. Fluffy, tender, portable, and you can put just about anything into them. From blueberries to cheese to sausage, it's the most versatile food there is. "Salad", as varied as it can be, doesn't even come close because how often do you see someone managing to grab a salad on the way out the door and eat it while driving to work? Not likely. Eat your heart out salad, it's muffins for the win!

I often enjoy the simplicity of minimalistic recipes with only a few well chosen ingredients.
This is not one of those recipes.

While it can be said that less is more, I am an unapologetic fan of the idea that sometimes--just sometimes--more is more. And today, I want more. These ingredients all mingle together in one big, tasty, well attended par-tay. When I pulled these hodgepodge goodies from the oven, my mouth instantly watered. The garlic jumps out at me first, which is odd since I used very little of it. But then come the spicy shallots and scallions. Then the more rich undertones of the cream cheese and the subtle sweetness of the cornbread. My son and I gobbled them fresh from the oven. They didn't disappoint.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Double Ganache Tart

Alright, fabulous friends. I promise--this will be my last rich, decadent pastry for a while. But since my chocolatey streak is going to be on temporary hiatus for a bit, I figured we might as well go out with a bang, eh? And what says Shazam! better than ganache? TWO ganaches! Pile them in a flaky pastry shell, and I dare you to be in the same room and not lunge over the counter for a bite.

This tart is actually deceptively easy to make and has very few ingredients, especially if you buy crust mix or pre-rolled pastry. I just bought dry pastry mix, added water, and rolled it into a ball for this purpose. I'm kinda lazy like that.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Swirly Cinnamon Date Bread

I am mad at this bread. It has some nerve coming in here, smelling so spicy sweet and gesturing me over with its "come-hither" buttery swirls. How dare it? I'M the boss in this kitchen, Bread, and I will tell YOU the ways of the world. You're not better than anyone else.

Okay, well, maybe you are. Just a little. Or a lot.

Sigh. I can't resist your golden crust and brown sugary goodness. You're just so sweet, come cuddle with me. We're friends forever.

Every Friday, I make sweet egg bread called challah. Unfortunately, my recipe yields a super huge batch, so I have to halve it. I'm not feeding an army, here. Or a high schooler. However, this Friday, I was in a hurry and forgot to halve the recipe. So I went ahead and halved the finished dough. I baked my usual bread with one half, and froze the other to make this week.

Except for one little snag. I'm currently watching my carb intake and since my quads are still sore from the gym, motivation is still holding fast. The idea of baking up two gorgeous golden loaves of bread that I wouldn't be able to eat just seemed masochistic. So instead, I figured I'd make a gift of the bread. But if I'm going to gift food to people, it's gotta be fabulous. Plain challah, as delicious as it is, wasn't good enough. We gotta make this special.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Puff Pastry Brownie Mess

First of all... this recipe was a total experiment. I don't claim to be a chef. I'm just a chick who likes sugar and hopes her kitchen won't explode one day. That is all.

That food forum I mentioned, the one that does the weekly ingredient challenges? Yeah, it totally stumped me this week. Puff pastry. Now, there's a million things one can google and find as far as puff pastry recipes go... brie en croute, turnovers (both sweet and savory), quiche crusts, napoleons, a thousand different pinwheel rounds... but I wanted something more original. Something with a little more ohmigosh.

I happened to have a bowl of leftover brownie batter in my fridge from a recipe I made Friday night, and I had a total fat-kid moment and thought, "Puff pastry AND brownies? Combined! Gasp!" Now I know how Mr. Reese's felt at the dawning of his epiphany. You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!

Unfortunately, the idea looked a whole lot better in my head than it actually performed in execution. It was fairly ugly, actually. A bit of a mess. Turned out a little like the new Bieber album. You don't want to admit you'd like such a thing, but secretly, it's awesome.

There's no real recipe for this--basically just some frozen puff pastry and a cup or two of brownie batter. Bake at 400. That's about it. But we all love food porn, so here's some eye candy to get your Monday started off with some gooey, drippy chocolatey love.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Carrot Latkes with Edamame

What a way to welcome in spring, eh? I say this in hesitant optimism. It's 75 degrees today, and I'm hoping that if I talk about spring often enough, it'll finally just haul its flowery butt in here and take a seat for a while.

I bought a bag of carrots yesterday while at the grocery store. I don't know exactly why--I don't really eat carrots all that often. It just seemed like an adult thing to do. Grown ups buy bags of carrots, yeah? I got them home and just looked at them on the counter. I've been told I look a bit glazed when thinking about food and recipes. Usually, I'll feel that little twinge of inspiration, and my brain clamors to hang onto it, which sometimes requires a whole lot of mental aerobics. So I'll tune everything out and stare at whatever it was that inspired me, while flipping through my mental Rolodex of flavors and textures in an effort to find that "aha!" moment.

So I'm staring at my carrots, probably looking a bit like a lobotomy victim, and finally something clicked.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Strawberry Ganache Pie

First of all, I wanna say hello to my new readers and email subscribers. Hi there! I see you! Thanks so much for following along on my little kitchen adventures. If it weren't for you, I'd just be some chick sitting here talking to myself. Pull up a chair.

Yesterday was Pi Day! 3/14! In honor of the inherent geekiness of the day, there will be a chemistry lesson in today's post, friends. No explosions, though. Sorry. I managed not to set anything on fire today, too. Hooray!

In my last post, I commented on how I hate to keep fresh perishables in the fridge because I forget about them. This recipe came from exactly one such example. I took down a bag of whole strawberries from my freezer to thaw to make jam, and I ended up shoving them to the back of the fridge and they disappeared from view and from mind.

A week later, when cleaning out the leftovers and mess, I found the bag of berries, now thoroughly thawed and sitting in a deep puddle of rich, ruby juice. Oh my. The urge to make jam had passed, so I found myself wondering what I could concoct that would put these babies to good use. I was then reminded of what day it was, and my own question was answered immediately. How can you make anything but pie on Pi Day?! And what goes better with strawberries than chocolate?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Polenta Stuffed Tomatoes

You know what makes me sad? When you think Old Man Winter has finally disappeared, but you come to find he only backed up for a running start.

I'm never one to complain about "yucky" weather. I usually love yucky weather. It gives me an excuse to stay inside and end up wrist-deep in batter of some sort! But I have to admit, I was really looking forward to putting in my garden and swingin' in my hammock with a glass of lemonade.

So when I woke this morning to gray skies, snow, and slush, I decided a warm, hearty breakfast was just what the doctor ordered. Only, in my efforts to keep my pants from exploding, I wanted something a bit healthier than pancakes or french toast.

I had an idea I wanted to try. I love stuffed tomatoes, filled with the traditional meat-and-grain combo, like a stuffed pepper. So I thought--why not make it for breakfast? I could use polenta for the grain, and eggs for the "meat". Well now, that's just a fabulous idea! And hey! Less than 200 calories each! Can't beat THAT.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Caprese Kebabs

With spring fast approaching, you may be entertaining daydreams of family picnics, flowers abloom, and sunny skies. Along with spring comes fresh flavors and lighter dishes. Winter has passed, friends--it's time to put down the cakes and stews, and break out something juicy and organic.

Caprese salad is one of most simple, elegant salads on a traditional menu. Fresh, bright basil paired with creamy mozzarella, all brought together with plump, ripe tomatoes. How can you beat that??

Well, for starters, you can make it mobile. Everyone loves food to go, and kebabs are a festive way to wrap up your salad to be eaten on the move. Whether socializing, flitting from person to person at a party, or piled onto an hors d'oerves platter and served, these little beauties are sure to please, and bring a classic spring salad to a whole new level.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pina Colada Cookies

Imagine what would happen if traditional white chocolate macadamia cookies decided to pack their bags and go lay on the beach for a while. They'd get out their little beach towels and lay in the sun, right? And, like any other tourists, they'd suck down some pina coladas, yes? Well, imagine if they got a little tipsy and spilled those pina coladas all over themselves. Oh no! Now we've got white chocolate macadamia cookies, covered in pineapple and coconut, getting all toasty in the sun! No! What a tragedy.

Oh wait. I didn't mean tragedy, I meant delicious. Suddenly, fellow beachgoers stop and stare, licking their chops, and the cookies glance at each other and begin to feel afraid.

So let's spare those poor vacationing cookies, shall we, and just make some of our own. Crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, all filled to the brim with gooey white chocolate, tangy pineapple, and crunchy little bits of macadamia. I'm suddenly feeling festively tropical.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fried Buffalo Eggs

This has been an interesting week. Obviously, I love to cook and bake, and blogging only deepens that love because it forces me to pay more attention to what I'm doing. However, I think I may be a little too invested. How can I tell? Well, you know it's not a good sign when the act of blogging starts to inhibit rational behavior.

I set my kitchen on fire this week. I was baking cookies on a brand new (and still slippery) baking sheet, and when I pulled them from the oven, the parchment paper slipped off and everything fell onto the hot oven coils. The treated paper immediately burst into bright flames. Using an oven mitt, I fished around with a steel spatula, trying to scoop out the burning debris. I got a good piece, but then dropped it while trying to get it to my kitchen sink which was, mercifully, filled with dishwater. Before I could blink, I had fire in my oven, fire on my floor, burning cinders in my sink, and the only thought in my head was, "Oh damn, my camera's all the way across the room!"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

German Chocolate Cake Pops

Well hellooooo there. This is, by far, the most-Googled recipe on my entire blog. And you know what? For good reason. These things are ridiculously, amazingly, obnxiously delicious. I'm pretty sure they might be the debbil.

It was my hubby's 38th birthday party this past Sunday, and I asked if there was something specific he wanted me to make for the occasion. He chose one of his favorite desserts--german chocolate cake.

While definitely a delicious cake, I wondered if there was a better way to make it accessible to a large crowd. After all, who wants to spend the whole party standing by a cake, slicing pieces for everyone? Not me. I gotsta get my party on!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stupid Mango Cupcakes

I am writing this post in a cloud of resentment. Bitter, pouty, pure resentment.

I have had this idea in my head for weeks-- strawberry cupcakes with mango glaze and a berry-mango buttercream frosting. It sounded so amazing. So I went and bought all my supplies and got to work.

The cupcakes ended up tasting absolutely perfect. Fluffy, spongy, soft... The buttercream, a silky cloud of creamy mango delight. Wonderful. So why am I so damn resentful?

Sweet Validation.

One of my hobbies is browsing recipe sites, finding recipes that look yummy, and then reading the reviews. It's my favorite way of learning--reading about other peoples' successes and failures, twists and add-ins. I get inspired really easily by hearing about what other people make. But then my recipe-perusing was interrupted by a rather unexpected surprise...

Have you ever asked someone for a recipe for something delicious, and then when you follow it perfectly, your end product tastes nothing like theirs? You figure you must have done something wrong, but you know what? I think some chefs and bakers intentionally screw up their own recipes, so you can't successfully duplicate their dish. It's sneaky and it's selfish, but unfortunately, it's also a trick of the trade.

I just want to let you know that I'll never do that. What's the point of taking the time to write out a recipe that's not accurate and intended to fail?? Why not just say, "This is what I made. It was fabulous. No, you can't have the recipe"...? You would think you'd WANT people to try your recipes and rave about them, yeah? I don't get it.

Anyway, referring to the surprise mentioned earlier, remember the Red Velvet Fiasco? Well, I had used a recipe from Magnolia Bakery for those cupcakes. It turned into freakin' cement.

So I was browsing vanilla cake recipes today and saw one listed for Magnolia Bakery. Well you can bet your bottom buck I passed it right by. I can't afford to keep breaking kitchen appliances.

Moving on to another recipe, I started reading the comments, which were generally positive, and this just serendipitously jumped out at me:

"The only thing I did differently was use margarine instead of butter. I tried that
horrible Magnolia Cupcake recipe from another site (it's a fake recipe, definitely not
the one used in the bakery) so anything after that would've been good."

HA!! So I'm not the only one!! I feel vindicated now.

Monday, February 28, 2011

It's so Empanada-licious!

It's hard to write a blog post when your head feels like it weighs 20 pounds and your ears are waging a rather epic war against your throat. For someone who never gets sick (it's true--my immune system is one tough badass.) I'm a little embarrassed that this silly seasonal nonsense managed to knock me over so thoroughly. I may or may not be writing under the influence of cough syrup and rum, so... let's hope this post doesn't end with someone wearing a lampshade.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Just popping by

Hey there, lovies!

I haven't keeled over in some pastry-induced coma or anything. I'm still alive and kickin. My blog has slowed considerably in these last couple weeks. Mr. Happy Baker has been given leave for a brief visit, so the Missus (that would be me) has actually stepped out of the kitchen for a few minutes.

Never fear, though--there are still recipes being made and photos being taken, and experiments going horribly awry.

New post soon!

Should it be a rum-soaked tortuga cake? Or fruit empanadas? Or chocolate pate sucree cookie wafers? I've made them all this past week. Now...what to post?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Oreomazing Truffles

A dear friend's birthday is this week, and for her birthday party, I was asked to bring a dessert. That's a pretty wide request for someone like me who has chocolate in her veins, so I called and asked her what kinds of things she likes. She said, "Just about anything Oreo."

Well now, I just happened to have the perfect confection in mind for anyone who calls themselves an Oreo lover. Oreo truffles!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fettucini Nests with Lush Tomato Pesto

Hello, friends!

I got a new camera today! I'm so excited! I squee'd a little when I uploaded my brand spankin' new photos and saw how crisp and clear and fantastic they are. I may have licked the screen.

(I did not. But I sorta wanted to. A little.)

Anyway, tonight's dinner was, in small part, a fail. My little fettuccine nests didn't stay nesty, and I didn't have quite enough little cherry tomatoes. But one bite and my teensy little fail turned into one giant, whalloping WIN! The husband enthusiastically requested seconds, but being used to cooking for one, I hadn't made quite enough. (He's stationed across the country with the Army. Sadface.) So I went back and made more. Because yes, it was just that good.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quickie Crustless Quiche

It's been a heck of a week, friends.

Sorry I've been away, but my kitchen has been in a bit of a standstill lately, with family affairs taking main stage for a while. But now that everything's back on a more normal cycle, the kitch should be chugging away again in no time.

Also, in happy news - I've been commissioned as a contributor to the fabulous, healthy, kosher blog: The Jewish Hostess. Regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof, it's a blog featuring tons of absolutely to-die-for recipes that are, in vast majority, healthy and light. Go check them out. I won't be posting the same recipes here that I post there, so I'll be sure to link to TJH when something new goes up over there. Be sure to go scope them out and leave a comment! :)

Anyway, tonight, like almost every Saturday, is game night at my house. My family comes over and we play board games and have some nosh. I had intended to make more of my Won't-Miss-the-Crab Rangoons, but it turns out...wonton wrappers don't thaw well after being frozen. Idea scrapped. But then, inspiration!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

White Chocolate Creme Brulee

If there was ever a timeless dessert that embodied elegance and simplicity, it would have to be creme brulee. Now, that being said, why stop at simple when you can add some serious shazaam?

This white chocolate creme brulee is so full of awesome, it can barely contain itself. See it jumping for joy? No wait, that was me. I'm a big fan of awesome.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Email subscriptions

Just an update for you, dearhearts.

I have installed Feedblitz to allow readers to subscribe to this blog via email. This way, all you'd have to do to sign up is enter your email address once (on this blog--no need to go anywhere else) and then all new posts will automatically get forwarded to your email inbox. See the little box over there, at the top, on the right? Yep, right there.

There's no privacy invasion--Feedblitz doesn't sell your email address, and you never have to enter any passwords or anything. It's just a quick way to subscribe, and may help people who have trouble navigating the "Follow" feature.

What do you think? Would this make it easier for newcomers, and would it be a feature you'd be interested in using? I have a 30 day free trial, so I'm using this as an experiment. (after the free trial, it's only $3 a month, so it's not anything crazy)

If you like it, say so. If you have trouble using it, say so. I wanna see how it works out for you.

Let me know!

Refreshing Veggie Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

After a week of rich desserts and sugary sweets,
I bet you all are in the mood for something a bit
healthier, eh? My waistband is begging for something
that is not filled with cream and sugar, so tonight,
I'm making a completely vegetarian, vegan, kosher
parve side dish. Bah, who needs it as a side dish?
Packed with vitamins and protein, this could very well
be the main dish for a light, crisp lunch paired with
a slice of crusty bread. Mmm!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sweet Little Hearts

The countdown to Valentine's Day is on, friends. Some people are expecting to be wined and dined, some just order a pizza and watch terrible movies, and some are facing this year solo and going for sushi with friends. However you celebrate (even if you don't celebrate at all) you're still going to be completely assaulted with flowery images of hearts and winged cupids everywhere you look. Including here. You can't fight it.

But when those assaulting images are as amazingly adorable as these little chocolate cake pops, how can you possibly not swoon just a wee bit?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Breezy Key Lime Pie with Strawberry Glaze

Anyone tired of winter yet? Yeah, me too.

This weekend brings sunny skies, our first warm temperatures, the stores all have big bouquets of Valentine's flowers, and I'm feeling like SPRING!

So to celebrate, I'm whipping up this super simple pie that will taste like you spent all day in the kitch. (If you can't tell, I adore recipes that are beautiful and seem like they'd take forever to make, but they don't. Who needs to know otherwise? It'll be our secret. Shh!)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Ravioli Revolution

I wrote this overly optimistic post before I actually made the dish, which I often do. I usually write first, then go in after I've actually made the dish and edit, add comments, or revise the recipe as needed. In this case, I wanted to kick myself in the ass for my obnoxiously chipper approach to fresh pasta. So I'll keep the original post, but I'll add my after-comments in italics.

Okay, so after the Red Velvet fiasco, I think I'm done trying new recipes for a while. For the next few posts, I think I'm gonna rely on old faithful--classic cooking techniques that have served me well.  Fresh pasta is one of them.

Making your own fresh pasta may seem intimidating to someone who's never tried it, but I promise, it's not. In fact, once you've made it yourself and have seen how easy and cheap it is to make, you'll wonder why on earth you ever bought the dried boxes of pre-made stuff that may have been sitting on a shelf for goodness only knows how long.

The Red Velvet Event

I attempted a recipe today I found online. It was an utter fail. I used this recipe for Magnolia Bakery's red velvet cake WHAT a mess!

I'm always irritated when someone's recipe just creates complete crap, especially if I had to go out and buy special ingredients for it. Which I did. The reviews called the product of this recipe, "a religious experience". Well heck, that's always worth trying, eh? I don't know if standing over a giant bowl of cocoa-flavored cement with colorful language teetering on the edge of my lips counts as a religious experience, but if that's what they were referring to, I'll pass next time, thanks.