I have no idea what’s wrong with me.  I started out the day just fine.  Got up, got a silly boy a ticket to a football game, went to the gym, worked out, went back home, showered, got ready, went to my parents’ house, and watched some football.   The Utes beat Wyoming 30 to 6 and TCU spanked BYU (31 to 3).  All in all it was a good kind of day.  But somewhere along the way I got grumpy.  Really grumpy.

So now that I’ve made it home all I can do is find things to bitch about.  Things my roommate does, things the people who are in my group for MGT 5700 do (or don’t do), things I do.  Sheesh, its hard being me.  So I’ve decided to sit down and chow down on the leftover cookie dough from last night.  And speaking of last night, I made cookies.

And I found a nice chill song to try and mellow out to while I catch up on recipes.




Now that you have that to bake to here you are!  The recipe that I adapted last night for oatmeal(ish) cookies.  This is nothing like the oatmeal recipe that I usually use (one of my mama’s) but it was a fun diversion from the norm.  And besides, I couldn’t find my mama’s recipe anywhere.

Spicy Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip and Walnut Cookies

Note: This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s version.  What I changed was instead of butter I used all vegetable shortening, walnuts instead of pecans, added 1/4 tsp. of both chili powder and chipotle powder instead of the cloves and orange zest.

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon chili powder and chipotle powder
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment or grease the cookie shet.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the shortening in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla, and beat until well mixed, about three minutes.
  3. Stir in eggs, one at a time.
  4. Add half of the flour and all of the salt, soda and spices to the creamed shortening with the mixer on low speed. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the second half.
  5. Stir in the oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Drop the dough, by the tablespoon, onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on a rack. Store at room temperature in a cookie jar or other airtight container.

Today has just been one of those days.  The kind that sort of slink by peering at you from out of the corner of their eye.  I just looked up and it was gone.  The weather was beautiful, though, with bright sunshine and fall colored leaves starting to peak out on the mountains.

Not wanting to waste such a stunning sight, I made my way to the public library after work.  And did something very naughty.  I found the cooking section, sat down and went to town.  I would have brought almost 7 of those recipe books back home with me but I had a tiny purse and plans to scour Smith’s baking aisle on the way home to stock up on a few necessary items.  As it is I brought home two baking books, Ratio (one I’ve heard rave reviews on) and Artisan Breads (one with these breathtaking pictures of stunningly crusty and rich loaves), and one other, The Lightness of Being.

I’m stoked about the Artisan Breads book, mainly because I’ve got this crazy need for bread making in my life right now.  A few days ago I completed my first experiment with sourdough bread, and it has only bolstered my need to explore the world of bread even more.  This loaf is soft and tangy on the inside with a chewy crust on the outside.  The boule ( the French term for bowl is merely a round loaf), however, was about the size of a “wagon wheel” (per Texas Joe) so next time I’m definitely going to go for baguettes or rolls.  The bread is also amazing with the spinach, walnut and roasted garlic pesto I made last weekend.

Sourdough Bread

From How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

*Note, this first part is the recipe for the starter.  This takes about 2 days to get the “sour” for the sourdough bread, so start it about 48 hours before you really want to get started.  To maintain the starter, take half out (like for the bread loaf) and mix in 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup water into the remaining starter.  Do this every week and starter will maintain itself “forever.”

1 1/2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon yeast

1 cup warm water

  1. Mix the flour, yeast  and water together in a bowl. Cover loosely and place in an out of the way place (the recipe suggests the top of the refrigerator).   Stir every 8 to 12 hours; the mixture will eventually bubble and start to smell sour.  If the kitchen is warm this can take as little as 24 hours (mine took the full 48 hours and its about 70 degrees Fahrenheit).

3 1/2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon yeast

1 1/3 cup water

2 teaspoons salt

  1. The night before you plan to bake, put half of the starter in the mixer (the recipe uses the food processor, but I just used my hand mixer) and add the additional flour, salt, and yeast.  As the mixer is going pour in the water and process until a sticky dough is formed.  It will be a little too sticky to knead by hand.
  2. Put the dough in a large bowl, cover and let sit for a few hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. For a boule: Sprinkle a small amount of flour on the counter and dump dough out of bowl. Start to shape into a ball by “tucking in” the dough towards the bottom center, rotating, and repeating to create a surface tension on the top. (I didn’t use the counter much for this.  I just held it in my hands and worked the dough over the counter.) Pinch the seam that will form on the bottom of the loaf together.
  4. Place dough ball on a well floured clean kitchen towel in a colander or round basket seam side up.  Cover with towel and let rise 2 to 6 hours.
  5. Preheat oven about 30 minutes before baking to 450 degrees F.  Turn dough out onto baking sheet and cut the top of the loaf a few times.  Spray the inside of the oven with water to create steam and then slide baking sheet into oven.
  6. Bake at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes (spray the inside of the oven with water 2 or 3 times in the first 10 minutes) then turn oven down to 350 degrees F and bake 25 more minutes.  Loaf should have a golden brown crust.  Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Spinach, Walnut and Roasted Garlic Pesto

*Note: These measurements are all estimates considering I just sort of threw this together. Also this is the easiest in the food processor.

4 cups spinach

1/2 to 3/4 cup toasted walnuts

1/2 head roasted garlic

1/4 cup olive oil (more might be needed)

1/3 cup parmesan

  1. Place walnuts, parmesan, and roasted garlic in food processor.  Process until chunky.  Add spinach in batches, using olive oil when necessary to keep things going smoothly.

Ooooookay!  So sorry I’m the worst post-er ever in the history of this blog, but I’ve finally figured out how to post something! Wooo!  And here it is:  The epic list of what new things I’ve made over the past few weeks.

  • Buttermilk Chocolate Loaf Cake
  • Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
  • Chocolate Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting and Raspberry Filling
  • B-b-q Chicken Pizza
  • Chili Verde
  • Alfredo Sauce with Farfalle, Chicken and Broccoli
  • French Bread (two different recipes)
  • Texas Sheet Cake
  • Potato Soup with Chipotle and Bacon

There are two more things in the making: Sourdough Bread and Homemade Oreos. 🙂  Wow, I need a life.


It was 11:00 at night. I had been reading for hours. I was bored. And craving cookies. But alas, no cookies to be had. Not enough butter or sugar or eggs to MAKE cookies. Translation: I was grumpy.

I did, however, have 1 egg. Some milk. Flour. A bit of sugar. Vegetable oil. And a LOT of quickly-browning bananas. So, at 11:00 at night, I made fried bananas. Translation: I was no longer grumpy.   😀

Then yesterday I had a bunch of friends over for dinner and asked them if they would like me to make some more bananas for dessert, since I had a lot of leftover batter. They were skeptical but we cooked those pesky yellow fruits up anyway, and turns out, fried bananas are now a favorite!!!

This recipe is extremely easy and if you get the oil hot enough, only takes about one minute to get all the pieces cooked. Serve hot. Powdered sugar is a nice touch, though not needed since the bananas are plenty sweet on their own.

Fried Bananas

  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Eat Time: 60 seconds
  • Serves: 1 – 8, depending on how many pieces you want
  • Wok for frying (deep and narrow bottom)

4 large or 6 small bananas (the firmer the better)
1/4 C milk
2 T sugar
6 T flour
1 egg
vegetable oil (peanut works well too)

The Steps!

  1. Pour the vegetable oil in the wok and turn to high heat. Use your best guess as to how much oil to use – you want to immerse the bananas at least half way. Full is better, but that’s a lot of oil in one go…
  2. Mix the egg, sugar, flour, and milk (the longer this sits, the better, but you can use it immediately)
  3. Peel the bananas and cut them in half length-wise. Cut each half into three pieces. Dip the pieces in the batter.
  4. When the oil is hot, carefully place each piece of banana in the oil. Once brown on the bottom, use a fork to turn the bananas over and cook the other side.
  5. Place in a wire sieve or on a paper towel for a few minutes, then serve!!!

Enjoy kids! This is officially my new go-to speedy dessert. Will it be yours?

Two nights ago, I was making brownies (IMO, they were good, but not good enough to repeat. My roommates claim otherwise…I won’t post the recipe, but I suggest pouring melted nutella over your next batch of brownies.) and my dear roommate Frans waltzed into the kitchen after having disappeared to Scandinavia for an entire week. Upon his appearance, I was suddenly reminded that, “Oh crap, Frans’ birthday is tomorrow.” Should I make a birthday cake?

And then I logged onto my beloved facebook, and what do you know? It’s Frans’ birthday on the 21st, but it’s also Txomin’s birthday! Let me reform that earlier question to a statement of joy: I’m making a birthday cake!!!!

The day of, however, I was feeling a little lazy, and you know that when Chantalle starts to get lazy, she takes shortcuts. Boxed cake. Premade Frosting. Pressurized Whip Cream. Okay, I did none of those. I did worse. I bought a cake. *extremely shame faced Talle* However, it was just a plain white cake that I bought (okay okay, I bought two) and I still made the frosting, which is really the best part of this cake anyway. If you need any further proof after reading the recipe, let me add that I live with 14 other people – this morning, there were two pieces of cake left. Now, there are none. This cake always wins.

Better Than Sex Cake

  • Prep time: 20 min.
  • Feeds: a lot of people. or not. you might eat the whole thing.
  • 2, 9″ round cake  pans (for presentation) or 1 long glass pan (for practicality)

1 boxed white cake mix

1 box instant vanilla pudding
1 C. water
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 C whipped cream
2 tsp almond extract (optional)

Fruit of your choice (fresh strawberries or peaches are my favorite, but mandarin oranges and pineapple are also fantastic)

The Steps!

  1. Bake the cake according to the directions (2 9″ rounds for presentation – remove from pans) or (1 long flat glass for practicality – leave it in the pan), let cool completely.
  2. Mix the water, pudding, condensed milk, and almond extract well. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.
  3. Mix whipped cream into pudding mixture, refrigerate again if needed.
  4. Spread a layer of the icing on the cake, put on a layer of fruit.
  • If you are using 2 round cakes, place the other on top. Ice again, another layer of fruit.
  • If you are using a long cake, do another layer of icing and more fruit.

And that’s it kiddies. If you have extra icing, you can save it for a bit (it goes wonderfully with strawberries or vanilla cookies). Refrigerate this bad boy until serving time and if there are leftovers (milk and cream spoil and that’s not cool with this cake around), but I doubt there will be. Oh, and the name of the cake? I’m not kidding on this one.  🙂

Another lovely transfer. This one was a massive hit for all my little NACURH conference kiddies, except for Sal, who nearly died when he discovered the white chocolate…apparently he abhors it. Sal is strange.

“So I just spent the past 30 minutes trying to hack into my account on a computer that is not mine – I can never remember my silly user name, and let’s not get started on passwords. That’s what the “remember my password” button is for, right? – and before  my superior hacking skills were enacted, I sat and stared at my own little laptop as the browser crashed Every.Time.I.Opened.Wordpress. Stupid Mac and its mystery bug. Time to go to the Apple Store, I guess.

Anyway, I have had a thoroughly frustrating couple days trying to get on here and SHARE! but success, I have finally managed to sneak on (how, I shall keep a secret hee hee) and I have a beautiful somewhat-made-up recipe to share. I say “made up” because part of the recipe is indeed a boxed cake mix and yeah, I decided to be lazy and buy icing, but you  have to begrudgingly allow me my lazy ways – 1. because the cupcakes turned out amazingly and 2. because I started baking at midnight with a 12-page paper due the next day, and not finished. Yes, I’m probably insane, and let’s not get into how late I slept in the next morning, but the cupcakes were divine.

Lemon Coconut Surprise Cupcakes

1 box lemon supreme cake mix (I suppose you could make one from scratch, but not at midnight)
1 Lemon, zested
1 Cup grated coconut
splash of coconut rum (I like Whaler’s, but I suppose you could use Malibu, if you HAVE to – side note, Whaler’s Coconut Rum is the best stuff EVAR)

1. Bake according to the box in cupcake molds or whatever they are called. Then cool. COMPLETELY

1/2 bag white chocolate chips (give or take)
2 Cups + shredded coconut
Lemon Icing

2. Using a  sharp knife, cut a circle in the top of a cupcake, pull out the middle and throw it away (or eat it, like me)

3. Place a few white chocolate chips in the center of the cupcake, replace the top, all sneaky-like

4. Spread  lemon icing on top, then dip in shredded coconut. Repeat for each cupcake

Ta-Da! Enjoy!”

I wrote this on my old, forgotten blog, which I intend to delete, but I wanted to save this for sharing (and for personal use later. MMMM)

“My roommate’s boyfriend wandered into the kitchen the other night and after observing my tomato-slicing prowess labeled me “the Queen of Making Delicious-Looking Salads.” However, I’m not entirely sure that title is quite appropriate. Most of the time I just throw stuff together and call it ‘dinner’, and when I am making something extra special, it’s because I stole it from someone else. But really, who doesn’t steal – or rather, borrow and perfect – recipes. Honestly. So I’m going to run with it.

The following salad is not the one that earned me my title, but none the less, it is absolutely amazing, and for some reason screams ‘SPRING’ to me (though the fact that it’s Easter but snow outside may have a bit to do with it – 60 degrees and sun, come back, come back). Either way, this salad makes me want to slip on some shorts and go for a hike/picnic and munch on this once I reach the summit. Too bad I’m not into hiking.   :)

Almost Spring Salad

baby greens

red bell pepper, thinly sliced

avocado, chopped, chunky

1/4 Cup (ish) of almonds, chopped

1/4 Cup (ish) of grapes, sliced in half

1/4 Cup (ish) orange, peeled and diced

onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, sliced

Wake-Up Call Dressing

1/2 Cup olive oil

1/2 Cup white wine vinegar

2 T brown sugar

1 T chives

1 T curry powder

1 clove garlic, sliced or minced

1 T soy sauce

So. I’m in Holland. Officially. Goodbye Utah, land of jello, SUVs, and Diet Coke. Hello Amsterdam, city of beer, pot, and bicycles. Life could not be more fun and exciting.

It’s rainy and cold outside today and I have many many pages of academic jargon to plow through for my classes on Monday, but I just can’t concentrate. I found a drool-worthy recipe for Nutella and Hazelnut Brownies last night (bell’alimento) and I’m dying to try them, but alas, I have no hazelnuts (not a suprise), no nutella (and yet I live in the land that eats it like candy), and no willpower to put on my rain gear and go pedalling to the grocery store to search for said items. And when I say search, I do not mean that metaphorically. I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies last week and COULD NOT find chocolate chips. So poor me, I had to cut up a bar of chocolate. And I threw in a bag of chocolate-covered hazelnuts (YUM). Sigh. Life is so hard.

But I digress. Moral of my longwinded sob story is that I have the baking bug again. So what to make? I landed on Apple Crisp, figuring that was a good route to take for three reasons: 1) I have a kilo of apples that NEED to be used; 2) I know the recipe by heart; and 3) because apple crisp is something my mom and I would make when it was yucky outside. Perfect.

Now, the only problem I encountered was yet another funny cultural cramp – the grocery stores close early here. We’re talking 8:00 at the latest. And yeah, I have all the ingredients for Apple Crisp, but it’s so much better with vanilla pudding (or dutch vla), ice cream, hell, even whipped cream. Of which I have, yep, none. Damn. So I made my own custard to go with. I’m so clever.

Apple Crisp

  • Feeds 4-6
  • Cook at 180 C/350 F
  • Time to prepare: 30 min.
  • Time to cook: 20-40 min. depending on altitude
  • a cake pan or pie plate work well for this recipe

1 1/4 C. flour

1/2 C. + 2 T brown sugar (I used dark sugar in the raw)

1/4 C. white sugar (the coarser the better)

1 stick of butter *

*if the butter isn’t salted, add a 1/2 tsp salt*

4-5 apples

1 tsp. vanilla

4 tsp Cinnamon

2 tsp nutmeg

a splash of lemon juice (optional)

The Steps!

  1. Wash, peel, and cut up the apples. You can slice or dice, or just take a knife and wing it. Keep it chunky and the pieces won’t stick together. Toss your apple pieces with lemon to keep them from going brown.
  2. Pour vanilla, 2 tsp Cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, and 2 T brown sugar onto apples and mix well. Pour the apples into the baking dish and spread them out so the bottom is covered.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, remaining spices, and sugar together. Cut the butter into chunks and using two dinner knives, cut the butter into the mixture (you could use your hands but keep in mind that your body heat will melt the butter slightly and the texture of your topping will change).
  4. Sprinkle the topping over the apples, covering everything as completely as possible. Cook!

Meanwhile, you can enjoy the lovely “baking apples” smell as you do the custard! This one is super easy, just don’t overheat.

Easy Vanilla Custard

  • feeds 4-6
  • time to make: 10 min.
  • time to cook: 5 min.

1 C. milk (skim, whole, soy, matters not)

1 T cornstarch

2 T sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 egg yolks

The Steps!

  1. Mix the milk, cornstarch, vanilla, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to thicken.
  2. Cream the two egg yolks in a bowl, then pour a little of the milk mixture in, stir, pour more milk in, stir, repeat. (You do this to control how fast the eggs heat up. If you just pour them in, they’ll cook, and that’s icky in a custard)
  3. After you have successfully blended the eggs into the milk mixture, place back on the heat and cook for a minute or so. No boiling. Boiling is bad!   🙂

Serve the Apple Crisp hot, the custard can be served warm or chilled, whatever fits your fancy. Enjoy! I know I did (So did my flatmates)!

Remember how I said once I liked cookies more than anything else? Well, the reason why is this: since I was barely old enough to “help” in the kitchen, my mom bought me my very own apron and hot mit, baking set, and a stool so that I could stand at the counter and bake with her. We always made Chocolate Chip Drops from Joy of Cooking, but no matter how many times my mom and I have made them over the years, each batch turns out different. Proof that a plain old cookie can always surprise you.

But here’s the thing. Sure, we use a recipe from a cook book. Sure, the recipe itself is from the 1940s and obviously a tried and true cookie. But in my house, we break the rules. Bad. Sure, you could use crisco to make the cookies fluffy. Or butter to make them crunchy. But in my house, we break the rules. And I know once you read the ingredients you are going to wrinkle your nose and think I’m an awful excuse for a baker, but it’s kindof like eating fries with a Wendy’s frosty or eating peanut butter and butter together, hell, it’s like putting cheddar cheese in bread pudding (yum, btw), the tastes just blend, so trust me, okay?

And for the love of god, don’t think about how many calories you consume in piping hot cookies straight out of the oven…

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Joy of Cooking ft. Old School Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 375. Use 2 cookie sheets.

Whisk together:
1 cup plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Beat in a large bowl until well-blended:

2/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup bacon fat. Yeah. You heard me.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar

Add and beat until well combined:
1 large egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Stir in the flour mixture until well-blended and smooth. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips.

Drop the dough in spoonfuls on the cookie sheets. (These cookies spread out, so don’t put too many on a sheet or you’ll get one big cookie. Much harder to share. Wait, why haven’t I done that yet?!) Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are just slightly colored on top and the edges are brown, about 8 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool (or burn your fingers eating them, like I do).

I occasionally get these cravings for cake, but I’m going to be honest — it never tastes as good as it sounds. I’m not a cake girl, never have been. C is for cookie and that’s good enough for meeee OHHHH cookie cookie cookie starts with C is my song on baking nights. So when I got a cake craving last week, I decided to try something different. Forget that spongey crumbly mess most cakes become — I went for a vegan chocolate cake, and oh my lovely life, this cake is wonderful.

I used two round cakes, layered, with candied oranges in the middle and ganache all around, served with orange pineapple icecream. Yum yum. Give it a shot!

Vegan Chocolate Cake

  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1 C white sugar
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 C vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 C water
  1. Mix the dry stuff, then mix in the wet stuff.
  2. Bake in two round cake tins (you don’t even need to greese them! I’ll give you a moment to celebrate.) at 350 degrees F (that’s 175 C for my european friends) for 45 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes clean. You know the drill. Let it cool completely before icing.

Orange Chocolate Ganache

  • 10-12 oz. bittersweet Orange Chocolate, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 C  water, milk, cream, or, to make it super fun, use pulp-free OJ
  • 1/2 stick butter (the general call is for unsalted, but quite honestly, I ALWAYS cook with salted butter and it still tastes fabulous, so IMO do what you want)
  1. Heat the chocolate and the liquid in a double boiler (or a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water) until the chocolate is melted completely.
  2. Remove from heat and add the butter in chunks, whisking briskly until the ganache is as smooth as you can get it.
  3. Let it cool to room temp, then spread it on. Ganache keeps well in the fridge for a few days, or you can freeze it for later, just make sure it’s room temperature before starting to ice your cake, or else you’ll end up with gooey crumbs.  😉

Serve and enjoy! Let us know what you think!