Monday, December 28, 2009

My mom's favorite thing to bake.

Hello, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

Hope everyone is enjoying this special time of year, filled with twinkling lights, laughter, and that "ok sure, I'll have another" outlook to the appetizer/dinner/dessert tray. It's totally allowed. 

The main reason that these wonderful indulgences are much more justified at this time of year is this when everyone breaks out their special [fill in name of food here]. That recipe they only make one or very few times a year, that one you really really love. 

My mom's fudge falls into that category. 

Every year I watch for a varying amount of time while she makes it, always fleeing while the sugar dramatically boils (which she says is her absolute favorite part), always excitedly tasting the end result. I've never actually made it, but this year, I did take a few pictures of the process. 

And yes, I did stay in the room the whole time. 

Haven't I become so brave?


Bubble bubble bubble

Looks good


Happy eating!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's beginning to feel a lot like winter.

Perhaps you heard about (or experienced) what happened in my area this past weekend. 

it snowed.

It snowed. A few inches - unremarkable to many; disappointing to children (and adults) wanting to build snowmen but finding the covering way too powdery to even make a good snowball; generally annoying to yours truly. 

snowy shrubs.

I'm not really a fan of snow. Well, if it stays out of my way and does not affect the road quality, it doesn't really bother me.

snowy leaves

Actually no, I still don't like it then either. 

branches in the snow

But I will give snow this - freshly fallen, untrampled and unplowed, glittering in the is pretty. 

I didn't spend this entire weekend being annoyed at cold crystalized water, however. I began assembling cookies for various holiday gatherings (began being the operative word here).

The first batch of cookies was the shortbread cookies first seen on Mothers Day. This time I kept everything but the raspberry jam, making a basic shortbread cookie with a special holiday touch of whimsical icing. 

same cookies, assorted glaze patterns.

Personally, my favorites were the happy faces, the swirls, and the squiggles. 

a batch of shortbread cookies.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hole in the middle of the bread egg (or, "Hey! Not dessert!")

My dad taught me about this recipe years ago, cutting holes in the middle of bread and adding an egg in the subsequent hole. And snacking on the leftover circle of bread.

A critical, crucial step.

I'm not kidding here. 

So in my house*, this is called Hole in the middle of the bread egg. Actually, I used to (up until about, oh, 3 months ago) call it "hole in the middle of the egg bread". It still sounds more pleasing to my ear, despite it not making much descriptive sense. 

Let's go!

Create a hole in the center of the bread using a cup. Obviously, the more brightly colored cup you use, the better your end result will be. Duh.

Cutting the hole

Eat the piece of bread. Do it. 

Feel free to snack

Add butter to a pan, and add the center-less bread. 

Into the pan

Is anyone else reminded of Death Becomes Her? Such an awesome movie. 

Add the egg, and salt and pepper if you wish (or any other egg accompaniment you desire).

Egg, salt, pepper



I have to admit, this was a bit of a nervewracking moment for me. Usually when flipping eggs, I have a fairly low success rate. With camera in hand, I felt even less prepared for the big moment. Surprisingly, it went pretty well. 

And, eat. 


*Other people know this dish by the name "Egg in a basket," "Birds nest," or a bunch of other names. I prefer to avoid the artistic terms for "bread" and "egg", and use the straightforward name for this straightforward dish. Up to you. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Unsure of how much longer the crispy crunchy leaves will still be speckled amongst the grass, I decided to take this opportunity to take another close look. 


Sunny day


Fallen pine needles

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Good morning!

Originally uploaded by Kitchenphobe

I'm not really sure what to say about this sunrise...

It's not the most colorful one I've seen recently (always witnessed while the camera is far enough away that by the time I get to it, the sky has morphed into its daytime shades).

But its still pretty.

Good morning, December! Happy to see you!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! 

(Well, for those of you outside of the U.S., Happy November 26th! Yay!) 

When one thinks of typical Thanksgiving desserts, the words "pumpkin," "apple," and "pie" come to mind. Which is all well and good, but I am planning on tossing a new player into the dessert table mix this year, with such keywords as "chocolate" and "cookie". 

I don't think the table will protest. 

And I'm hoping the people eating at it won't either.

The dry ingredients
Dry ingredients

That looks pretty creamy to me
Looks smooth to me

Beginning to add the dry ingredients

After incorporating in all of the dry ingredients, I noticed that the batter was dry. Like, really dry. Like dry to the point that I thought that maybe possibly something could be awry, and it maybe probably was my fault.

The almost-forgotten eggs amongst the dry batter crags. 
That could explain why the batter was dry...

A sigh of relief and little mental pat on the back for remembering that.

I substituted chocolate chips because I had them already. Yay convenience. 

Oh, guess what I bought?!

This should help. As a side note, the recipe called for ungreased cookie sheets, but I wasn't taking my chances. 
A worthwhile purchase

Before being baked

Kitchenphobe's holiday tip: It's usually a good idea to remove any finger-adorning jewelry before rolling cookies.
Why you should take off rings before baking
Side note: My ring tells time. (The inside is a sundial). How awesome is that?


Hello cookies!

Hi there cookie

A pile of deliciousness.
A pile of yum

An inside look

With a texture akin to cake/a brownie, these cookies are wonderfully chocolatey and delightful. (A pause for irony—there is a Toll House commercial on right now). I believe that they will make a great addition to our Thanksgiving dessert spread. 

Hope everyone has a relaxing, safe, and delicious holiday! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Salsa with Adam. The food, not the dance. But I'm sure we could learn the dance if we tried.

Adam: Hey, let's make salsa this weekend.
Me: Okay. 

Tomato, pre-chopping.


Onions. They're weirdly sized 'cause I sliced them.

Hey, pepper

The pepper is safe now

Finished salsa, coming in for a bite

Salsa is a fairly intuitive and easy process (which means I was fairly intimidated and attempting to deflect any questions asking my opinion on the product throughout). Adam did fine. Surprise, surprise.

So we combined tomatoes, and black beans, and onions, and jalapenos, and crushed pineapple, maybe some other stuff, a bunch of spices, and ended up with salsa. 

And by we, I mean he. I'm still slowly chopping the onion into irregularly-sized pieces. 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pecan Lace...Somethings..

So you know when you're walking down the aisle of a grocery store or some other purveyor of food items including cookies, and you see the one you just absolutely cannot resist. You stop suddenly at the box (or bag, or what have you) and begin a bout of mental fencing in your mind, arguing that while the cookies do taste good, you really don't absolutely need them for survival, as you do with say, oxygen.

But they're good. Oh so good.


Soooo gooooooooood.

Oh, fine.


This cookie for me is a Pecan Lace Cookie. I love their crispy texture, their nutty flavor, and their sweet...sweetness. And then one day, I found a recipe for them online. Honestly, as much as I love this cookie, I had never really sought out a recipe for one. It was one of those things that had never occurred to me that I could actually make. 

And yet, this recipe seemed easy enough that I could. Let's see...

I began my recipe modification (a fancy term used here for laziness) with crushing the pecans in the same mixer that I made the rest of the cookies in. It seemed to work pretty well, and it was one less thing to wash later on. Cool.

Is it going to work? Oh, I just told you it did. Well it was a moment of anticipation for me. 
Prepare to be crushed finely, pecans

Bwahahaha my plot worked. Hello there, finely crushed pecans. 
Hey, it worked

After the pecans looked like that, I just put them in a bowl while making the rest of the batter, then added them back in after everything was combined. 


Feeling pretty proud of myself, I began to swagger around the kitchen, boasting statements such as "If I take the cookies off of the baking sheet quickly, I totally won't need parchment paper." 

You already knew that this was the helpful hint not to listen to, right? Yeah, just checking. 

This is why. 
Um. This actually cleaned up a lot easier than I thought it would.

Relatively undeterred, I took out my spatula and began a'scrapin. Pretty much the middle 80% of the cookies came up, leaving what you can see above clinging for dear life. 

So, how'd they look?
Isn't there a saying about taste over looks? Yeah, that describes these.

Pecan lace bark? Pecan lace pieces? Pecan lace I shouldn't get any more fancy ideas? 

Hey, let's drizzle them with one will be able to tell. 
The addition of chocolate

Okay, yes, while the delicate chocolate drizzle did not exactly camouflage the fact that there was not one whole cookie on that plate, there was one important thing to note.

These cookies tasted just like the cookies from the store. 

Even better, they were arguably less effort to make than going to the store and buying a box. 

I'm serious. These cookies are little fantastic sweet crispy bits of joy. 

I highly recommend you make them. Just be sure to use parchment paper. 

Friday, November 6, 2009

Aaaaannnd....part two!!!

Hi again! 

Did everyone have a good week? 

Okay, so here is part two (of two) of the desserts made for Halloween. (Yes, I know people started talking about Halloween like last week, but it's still closer to Halloween than Thanksgiving, so I think it's fair game.) 

(For part one, here you go)

I was very excited and nervous about this dessert, as I had pretty much conjured it up in my mind, and had no reviews or hearsay to lean on. All I knew that it might possibly through some shred of hope work and maybe maybe taste good. 

I have a lot of faith in myself, don't I? I feel as though I should disclose that I'm writing this right now eating chocolate chips with a spoon (why? I don't know), so people can accurately adjust their faith level in my abilities. 

I call this...Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Adam peeling apples. Yup, he's been put to work. 
Peeling an apple

Grating apples. This one's all me. And no, I have no idea why my skin is magenta. 
Grating the apple

Originally I meant for these cupcakes to be normal (not sure what the actual name is) size, and had even bought little Halloween cupcake wrappers. Unfortunately, that pan went missing, so they had to be made as minis. 
Into the pan with you

And leftover snowman cupcake wrappers had to be used. They're festive...just not for the right holiday. 
Mini cupcakes

Ooh I hope they taste good, 'cause this made A LOT of cupcakes. 
Lots...and lots...and lots of cupcakes

I didn't call them caramel for nothing!
With caramel sauce

There, autumnal sprinkles will balance out the encroaching winter theme.
How could I resist seasonal sprinkles? How?

So I'm not even kidding when I say that this made a LOT of cupcakes. Like 90 cupcakes. Plus batter left over to make a little tiny cake. I mean, I know it would have yielded less cupcakes had they been made at their desired size, but if you want to feed a crowd via small desserts, this is not a bad option. 

So not only did this recipe make a lot of cupcakes, it made a lot of pretty good cupcakes. (Phew, right?) At first when we tasted the cupcakes out of the oven, they got reviews of "pretty bland" (keep in mind that I have the spice allergy, so these cupcakes did not have the little kick that cupcakes with cinnamon or nutmeg would have). I'll admit, at that point, I was getting nervous. Several surfaces were filled with diminutively sized cupcakes. These had to work. (please?)

Thankfully, they were amply boosted by the caramel topping. I'm not sure that the sprinkles lent themselves to any flavor enhancement, but they couldn't hurt to add a little texture and cuteness. And really, how could I afford to skimp on the cuteness level? 

So dressed and adorned and accessorized, these cupcakes are quite good! And really, pretty easy to make! Yay!

To make Caramel Apple Cupcakes (you know you wanna...):

- 1 box of yellow cake mix (sorry, I totally forgot to check what size the box I used was. But I don't think it matters too much. We'll go with "regular size")
- Whatever ingredients the cake mix says to add (feeling the love here, right? haha)
- 2 granny smith apples
- Caramel topping (I used a type in a squeezable bottle, it makes the process a bit neater)
- Sprinkles (if you desire sprinkles of the autumnal variety, I got the ones I used at Michaels)
- Cupcake wrappers (they help to keep the caramel sauce from dripping all over)

That's it! Oh okay, you do have to do this...

- Assemble the cake mix according to the box instructions, set aside
- Peel and grate the apples (I'm sure you could use the food processor for this, but I chose to be hands-on). Put the grated apples in a paper towel or two and blot up excess moisture (I thought this would be a good idea, as to not mess with the moisture level of the mix). You don't have to go nuts trying to dry them.
-Combine the apples and the cake mix, and put in a cupcake tin. I tried to fill them up about 1/2 - 2/3 of the way. 
-I baked mine for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees, but I usually find I need to bake things longer than recipes say, so it's probably a good idea to start checking them earlier.
-When the cupcakes are cool (by the way, they can be frozen), top each with a squirt of caramel sauce, and spread the sauce to the edges of the top of the cupcake using the edge of a knife. 
-Sprinkle to your heart's content.

Enjoy! Hope you like lots of little tiny cupcakes!