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Pinecone Cheeseball

April 30, 2017


Hello!   Long time,  no talk.  We’ve been busy with work and stuff.  But I just hosted a woodland-themed baby shower for a friend, and I was pretty happy with this relatively easy, crowd-pleasing pinecone cheeseball.

I saw this idea all over the place when I googled woodland baby shower.  I thought about making a cheeseball from scratch, but all my favorites have non-pasteurized cheese in them.  And that’s a no-no for the pregnant ladies.  So instead I used two packages of Boursin, which to my delight is made with pasteurized cheese.  I took them out of their packages and molded them into one big egg-like shape (with a flat bottom).  And then I put plain almonds all around that, starting with the bottom of the “cone” and pressing the rounded end of each almond into the cheese at a slight angle.  I tried to alternate the position of the almonds so that each almond sort of went in between the almonds from the prior row.

Then, I decorated the plate with fresh rosemary from my herb garden that I barely ever use anymore (tears).

I recommend staring this at least an hour before your party.  That way, you’re not rushed, and you can put the cheese back in the fridge for a while to firm up again in case it softened while you were working on it.

Serve with water crackers, although our beloved Deb abhors water crackers, so feel free to use something more interesting.



White Russian / Kahlua Cheesecake Brownies

March 21, 2014


This is perhaps not a Lent-appropriate recipe, but oh well.  Save it for Easter?

This was a birthday gift a long time ago for someone who loves Kahlua but can’t drink it anymore for health reasons.  I thought why not put Kahlua in some brownies and solve that problem right there?  

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Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Cookies (. . . for dogs)

March 2, 2014


Last month, we adopted a wonderful Australian cattle dog named Sydney.  She has adopted us very quickly, and has become very protective.  We’re working on training her to be more obedient so she won’t bark for hours at anyone who comes to visit.  Training requires treats, so I thought I’d try out a recipe for homemade doggie treats.  Sydney seems to approve heartily, based on the way she licked my hand to get up all the crumbs (don’t worry, I only gave her a taste test after she sat and followed the “Look at me” command).

Since I’d never made dog treats, I turned to a reliable source of all sorts of recipes – King Arthur Flour.  These came together easily and made the house smell great.  


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Black-Pepper Panna Cotta and Red Wine Strawberries

November 1, 2013


Did you think that just because there’s been radio silence, we haven’t been cooking?  Okay, that’s kind of true, we’ve both been cooking a lot less, because we’ve both been incredibly busy over the last several months.  However, in September, Em came to stay with us for a weekend, and we had an awesome SK cooking day(s).

Em suggested trying out panna cotta, and although our previous experiences with gelatin left me a bit wary (man that stuff smells bad), I agreed.  And I’m so glad I did.  I told Em and still believe that this is one of the best things we have ever made.  So simple and yet so satisfying.  I took a bite when it was done and said, “it tastes like cream.”  Em looked at me and said, “Wait, is that a good thing?  I couldn’t tell if that means it’s tasty or you’re annoyed that you put in that much effort and it still tastes just like cream.”  Definitely meant it was tasty.  

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Cherry Bounce, PawPaw Style

July 23, 2013

Cherry Bounce

The world lost (and heaven gained) a great man last week–my wonderful PawPaw.  He was a wonderful grandfather, and I miss him so much already.  One of the ways we bonded over the years was talking about cooking, baking, etc.  This recipe falls into the “etc.” camp.

Cherry bounce is a delicious (adult) drink.  Other than the taste, one of the best parts of cherry bounce is being able to serve it to people and say, “Oh this?  This is just some booze I made.”

Cherry bounce has quite a long history, not just in my family but across America.  As my grandfather was fond of telling people, “Martha Washington had her own recipe for cherry bounce.”  He found the recipe in a newspaper article and sent it to me once–of course, hers was at a different scale than our recipe–designed to sate the thirst of all of Mount Vernon.

It takes six months to get from step one to drinking the cherry bounce, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s completely worth it.  It tastes delicious on its own and is also quite tasty over ice cream or in sauces.  My Uncle John recommends that at the end of the process, you reserve the cherries and use them to stuff a duck.

You can use pretty much any liquor you’d like to make this.  My favorite version to drink straight is the brandy version.  My favorite version to mix with things is the bourbon version.   I’ve never made the vodka version, because I’m not much of a vodka person–at least not since about age 23.

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Beetfredo (Whole Wheat Penne with Roasted Beet Sauce)

November 30, 2012

I bought some beets intending to make beet chips, which Emily – God love her – brought into my life.  Then I didn’t feel like going through all that effort, and I needed a fun dinner idea, so I settled on this pasta with a sauce of roasted beets and Greek yogurt.  I’ll make beet chips another time.  Or ply Em with flowers and chocolates and beg her to make me some next time I see her.

This is an . . . interesting dish.  The flavor is very, very beet-y, which I love.  However, I harbored hope that this would be a good way to “hide the vegetables” and get pickier eaters to eat more veggies.  Alas, if you don’t like the flavor of beets, this dish will not fool you, and you will not like it.

The original recipe called for 2 TBSP of lemon zest, which I thought was a bit excessive.  I might try it next time, though, because I tasted the lemon I did use but thought more would be fine.

You could also use any type of pasta you want, but I felt like making the dish extra healthy by using the whole wheat pasta I had on hand – I really wanted to take my post-Thanksgiving detox seriously.  Next time, I might try being really adventurous and using some spinach pasta.

I wanted to use the beet greens, in the spirit of our mantra, “Waste not, want not.”  I planned to cut the leaves off the stems and throw them in with the pasta for the last few minutes of the pasta cooking.  When I pulled the beets out of the fridge, the greens looked a little wilted, so I didn’t use them this time.  I’ll try that next time and report back!

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Blueberry Applesauce

November 10, 2012

For most purposes, I think of myself as a Texan even though we moved to Ohio right before I started third grade.   All of my family is from there, many of them still live there, and I just love Texas.  So now that I’ve spent seven and a half years out of Ohio (college, law school, now being an adult, allegedly), it always surprises me when I crave things that are Ohio-y.  For example, this year, I just really, really wanted to go apple picking.

Admittedly, when it comes to fall, Ohio beats Texas any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Mainly because Ohio actually has fall.

But once you get all nostalgic for autumn in Ohio and go apple picking, what do you do with a bushel of apples?  Well, I did lots and lots of things, but one of the reasons I got far more apples than you’d need for some apple pies is that the beloved carnivore loves applesauce.

During the course of our having-lots-of-apples, I made several batches of applesauce.  I made three different types: regular applesauce (for me), super-sweet applesauce (for him), and this blueberry applesauce.

This was one of those random things I sometimes come up with in the kitchen.  We had some blueberry wine, and I thought, “I wonder how it would taste to use blueberry wine instead of water to make applesauce?”  Then I did it, and both the beloved carnivore and I thought, “yum.”

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Hurricanes for the Hurricane

October 28, 2012

In the words of Sophia Petrillo, a hurricane’s a-comin’.   Please stock up on batteries, water, non-perishable foods, and then batten down the hatches and stay safe.

We have finished battening down our hatches, moving our herbs inside, filling pitchers with water just in case, etc.  Since we’re the hurricane couple, we completed our preparation by sitting down and drinking a couple of hurricanes.

Forgive the iPhone photo 🙂

I developed this recipe for our anniversary (we decided that we’d make drinking hurricanes an anniversary tradition, since they made one heck of a signature cocktail for our hurricane wedding).   I just haven’t had time to share it, because this fall has been all kinds of busy.

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Dark and Summer-Stormy (Cherry-Infused Dark and Stormy)

August 8, 2012

The beloved carnivore is a huge fan of the classic Dark and Stormy drink.  And he’s eager to introduce others to this drink.  I dare you to come visit us and get away with not drinking one.  Unless you have religious or other personal objections to drinking alcohol, you likely will not succeed.

All of which is somewhat hilarious to me because my roommate from the first year of law school is from Bermuda and taught me all about this drink.  But I’ll at least give Chris credit for me drinking it more than once a year.

Somewhat randomly, I decided to put some cherry simple syrup in a dark and stormy.  It was delicious, in my opinion.  I actually liked just the cherry syrup and ginger beer mixed together even better than the cherry-infused dark and stormy, but I forgot to take a photo of that bright pink concoction before dumping in the dark rum.   You should try that, too, especially if you’re looking for a fun and tasty non-alcoholic drink.
These glasses are one of my favorite wedding presents that we received.  They were a gift from my uncle’s mother (who is not my grandmother; my uncle was brave enough to marry into our family).  She is such a sweetheart and told me that someone gave her and her husband these glasses a long time ago and she wanted to make sure they stayed in the family.  It’s one of the sweetest things anyone’s ever said to me – I am always so touched when someone adopts a broad view of what constitutes “family” and includes me in that definition even though they don’t have to.

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Back in the Saddle Again (Roasted Cherry Chocolate Tart)

August 6, 2012

My apologies for the radio silence.  It’s been a busy couple of weeks, and I, for one, am still recovering from what will go down in history as the most epic of all Smitten Kitchen days, the one during which Emily and I learned our cooking limits by far surpassing them and cooking into the not-so-wee hours of the morning.  Had I not fallen asleep precisely when I did, the sun would’ve risen before I got to sleep.   It was a little ridiculous, and I think we’ll both exercise a little more menu-restraint next time, but we can hardly be blamed for our eager addition of dishes to the menu.  We had not cooked together since August, and I think we’re still not used to this whole “twice a year” version of our cooking extravaganzas.

Now that I’ve recovered a bit, I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite dishes we cooked, which I’ve already duplicated in my own kitchen.  It’s a roasted cherry and whipped cream tart with a chocolate crust.  We knew we were exhausted because when we ate our “dinner” at approximately 4:30 in the morning, we didn’t want to bother with cutting and serving it.  That’s okay, because it made a phenomenal breakfast.  Light, airy, but indulgent and heavenly all the same–the roasted cherries taste like grown-up maraschino cherries.  Next time I’m visiting my mom, stepdad, brother, and sister, I want to make this for my stepdad–it tastes a lot like one of his favorite ice cream flavors (cherry with chocolate chips, I can’t remember the formal title).

The best part is that you could use this method of roasting cherries for almost any purpose.  I can’t wait to try to use these cherries to make other kinds of tarts, or scones, or even cookies.  I guess I’d better hurry, as cherry season is tragically coming to a close.  I can’t think about that, I’ll think about it tomorrow, Scarlett O’Hara style.   Today, I’m thinking only about this tart and how much I need to tell you how to make it so you can go out, buy cherries while you still can, and treat yourself to this deliciousness.

Oh, and the second best part?  Roasting the cherries releases a decent amount of cherry juice that you won’t want to dump in your tart, or it will get soggy.  Instead of making a soggy tart, you can make a simple syrup with the juice (instructions included below), and use some of it to decorate the tart.   You can keep the leftovers in your fridge and flavor drinks–both alcoholic and non–with it.  It’d be a great way to spice up a Sprite or 7-Up, and later this week, I’ll share an adult beverage recipe that takes advantage of this yummy syrup.

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