Fillo Tartlets with Potato, Spiced Apple and Fried Sage

There are many nice things about the holidays….

026I get to cook like a maniac.

039And eat like a maniac.


But the best part of any holiday meal are the sides and the appetizers.

045And the fact that you can start drinking at noon and no one seems to care can say anything because they are hungry and need you to cook for them.

053But when that wine starts to kick in, you probably want to make an easy appetizer like this.

059It looks so elegant and no one will guess…

079Just how much wine you had before bringing it to the table.


Spiced Apple Fillo Tarts with Potatoes and Fried Sage

This is a recipe that I created for the Athens Mini Fillo Shell contest. I won the contest and Joe won the award for eating them faster than I could make them. Grendel got an honorable mention.
  • 1 Box Athens Mini Fillo Shells
  • 15 sage leaves
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon Sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Piping bag, fitted with star tip
  1. Boil water with a sprinkle of salt in a medium pot.
  2. While water is warming up, fry the sage. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. When pan is hot, add 15 sage leaves.
  3. Fry sage until crispy, should take about a minute or two. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
  4. Make spiced apple filling. Peel one medium apple and dice into small chunks. In the same saucepan that you used to cook the sage, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and heat under medium flame. When pan is hot, add diced apples, cinnamon sugar, lemon juice, nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir. Cook apple mixture until apples are soft 5-8 minutes. Cool slightly.
  5. With a teaspoon, fill each phyllo tartlets with apple mixture. Set aside.
  6. Peel potato and cook in boiling water until soft (a fork pierces the potato easily), about 30-40 minutes. Add cooked potato to mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste along with 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons heavy cream. With a potato masher, mash very well until the potatoes have a smooth and creamy texture. If necessary, add more heavy cream.
  7. Put potato in piping bag with a star tip. Pipe potato onto each tartlet. Add fried sage leaf for topping.


Cauliflower Steak & Eggs

Cauliflower-Steak-and-EggsThe “blizzard’s” over.  Like any good New Yorkers we elbowed old ladies out of the way to get the last organic vegetables at Trader Joe’s. No kale? What will happen to us???

013(We already had tequila, so I didn’t completely panic).

024And then we realized the biggest horror of the storm…..

033We’d have to cook dinner for ourselves.

037I don’t know about you but nothing says comfort food like a big chunk of cauliflower.

047Work with me.

043So, cauliflower it is.  It’s prepared like a steak. And cooks like a steak.

But doesn’t moo like a steak. Perfect for the inevitable blizzard rationing of the great snowstorm of 2015.

Cauliflower Steak & Eggs

If you haven’t already guessed, I would have preferred a pizza. But this dish was a big hit in our house. Except for Grendel. Who has a very different idea of steak.
  • 2 medium heads of cauliflower
  • Olive Oil for brushing
  • Kosher Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 1.5 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic paste
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups of freshly grated parmesan
  • 4 large eggs
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 cup of fried onions (crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. With a sharp knife, starting at the top of the cauliflower, cut a 1-1.5 inch thick slice of cauliflower for the “steaks”. Cut right through the stem. You should have 4 steaks. Cut enough florets from the remaining cauliflower to measure 4 cups. Brush cauliflower lightly with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay cauliflower on baking sheet, seasoned side up and set aside.
  3. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, bring florets, garlic paste, cream, pinch of salt and pepper to a boil. Stir periodically. Turn off heat when tender, between 10-12 minutes. Strain mixture, reserving 1 cup of the cream mixture. Lay the cauliflower on a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 10 minutes. Transfer florets to a blender along with the remaining cream mixture, pinch of salt and pepper and puree until thick and smooth. Add puree to a saucepan and reheat just before plating. Turn oven up to 350 degrees.
  4. In a saucepan, begin the cheese sauce. Add the butter and flour together under medium heat and stir until well combined. Add milk and stir thoroughly. Add parmesan cheese, ½ teaspoon of salt, dash of pepper and stir until cheese is completely melted. Turn down heat but keep pan on stove to reheat before serving.
  5. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the cauliflower steaks. Brown both sides, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a baking sheet and transfer to oven for 10-12 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked through.
  6. While cauliflower is cooking, crack eggs into a large saucepan coated with cooking spray. Fry until just done. Repeat with remaining eggs.
  7. On individual plates, spoon the cauliflower puree. Add Cauliflower steak on top. Spoon warmed cheese sauce over. Top with fried egg, then garnish with parsley and a handful of crushed fried onions over each “steak.”


The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014

003I am so thrilled to be a part of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. But whomever said it was better to give than to receive were clearly referring to parking tickets.


Because the culinary confections I received were sinfully good.


Alexa from Simple Eats- thanks for sending that awesome family recipe and way more than the required dozen cookies . I like your math, Alexa.

Rebecca from a Dusting of Sugar-the chocolate almond biscotti were a hit!

And Emily from The Answer is Always Pork –I am so glad I am no longer a vegetarian… or a vegan….or a pescatarian after reading your blog. I sense a fast friendship here. Great Double Chocolate Biscotti.

034For my own cookie choices in the swap, I decided to make 3 different kinds of cookies from NYC’s Momufuku Milk Bar.

041Because why make something simple when you can make it incredibly complicated, stress yourself out and require medical attention for your multiple cookie pan sheet burns? PS: Milk Bar, I do not consider freeze dried corn and glucose a staple pantry item.

But first up, the Corn Cookie. Because freeze dried corn just screams Christmas to me.

071The Cornflake Marshallow Cookie. Because…..


….it has cornflakes and marshmallows in it. And the unfortunately named, Compost Cookie.


No, you don’t have to live in Portland to make it.

207But it does keep people from temporarily “sampling” your creations when you tell them they are called “Compost” cookies.  Which is helpful.

017Enjoy the cookies Starr from Chicago Foodie Girl, Monika from What’s on the Plate, and Erin from Delightful E Made!! Happy holidays to you!!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014

It is no secret I am in love with Cristina Tosi in a borderline unhealthy way. And it’s not just because of all the butter she uses. Her Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook changed my baking life. Yes, partially, it made me angrier and mumble to myself more in the kitchen. But it’s challenging, beautiful and unique.
Corn Cookies

This is the greatest cookie of all time. The Meryl Streep of cookies. San Diego weather cookies. Eat all you want and lose weight cookies. I just look younger and younger as the years go by cookies. My favorite of the 3.
  • Makes 13 to 15 cookies
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1⅓ cups flour
  • ¼ cup corn flour
  • ⅔ cup freeze dried corn powder
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  1. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the
  2. paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, corn flour, corn powder,
  5. baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together,
  6. no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Using a 2¾-ounce ice cream scoop (or a ⅓-cup measure), portion out the
  8. dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough
  9. domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at
  10. least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature–
  11. they will not bake properly.
  12. Heat the oven to 350°F.
  13. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or
  14. Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle,
  15. and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be faintly browned on the edges yet
  16. still bright yellow in the center; give them an extra minute if not.
  17. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a
  18. plate or to an airtight container for storage. At room temp, the cookies will
  19. keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014

This cookie makes me mad. It likes to make the shape of a protozoa when it bakes. If you talk real nice and buy it some jewelry, it will behave. But just the smell is worth EVERY effort.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ teaspoons coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups Cornflake Crunch
  • ⅔ cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1¼ cups mini marshmallows
  • Cornflake Crunch
  • 5 cups cornflakes
  • ½ cup milk powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 9 tablespoons butter, melted
  1. Cream together butter and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and add egg and vanilla; beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. Reduce speed to low and add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix just until dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula.
  3. With the mixer on low, add cornflake crunch and chocolate chips; mix until just combined, 30 to 45 seconds. Add mini marshmallows and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 2¾-ounce ice-cream scoop or ⅓-cup measuring cup, portion dough out onto prepared baking sheet. Pat tops of cookie domes flat. Wrap baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 week. Do not bake cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line additional baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.
  6. Arrange chilled dough at least 4 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Transfer to oven and bake until puffed, cracked, spread, and browned on the edges, about 18 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets.
  7. For the cornflake crunch:
  8. Instructions
  9. Heat the oven to 275°F.
  10. Pour the cornflakes in a medium bowl and crush them with your hands to one-quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, sugar, and salt and toss to mix. Add the butter and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as glue, binding the dry ingredients to the cereal and creating small clusters.
  11. Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, at which point they should look toasted, smell buttery, and crunch gently when cooled slightly and chewed.
  12. Cool the cornflake crunch completely before storing or using in a recipe. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the crunch will keep fresh for 1 week; in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for 1 month.
Compost Cookie

So, the secret is out. You can’t actually use your compost to make these cookies. Conversely, you can use about anything else you have in your pantry to make them. And they are awesome–everything a cookie should be!!
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons glucose
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup mini chocolate chips
  • ½ cup mini butterscotch chips
  • ¼ recipe/1/2 cup Graham Cracker Crust (Recipe to Follow)
  • ⅓ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2½ teaspoons ground coffee
  • 2 cups potato chips
  • 1 cup mini pretzels
  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  1. Combine the butter, sugars, and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk over mixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  3. Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oats, and coffee and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and pretzels and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated. Be careful not to over mix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips.
  4. Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop (or a ⅓-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature – they will not bake properly.
  5. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment or silicone baking mat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case.
  6. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temperature, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.
  7. Cook’s Note: Can use premade graham crackers if desired.
  8. Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.
  9. Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional tablespoon of butter and mix it in.
  10. Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.


Bacon Bark
















Christmas is the season of making bark.
















White Chocolate, Peppermint, you name it- people are barking.
















But not like this….
















Waistline….meet…..Bacon Bark.
















It sounds too good to be true.
















But yes, Virginia, it exists…
















It’s not for everyone, of course.
















This is the bark you would make if say, the Dukes of Hazzard were coming over for Christmas.  Hee haw.

Bacon Bark

I used pumpkin seeds in my bacon bark instead of walnuts cause I’m crazy like that. Also, because I didn’t have any walnuts. This bark is addictive if you are a bacon lover or Grendel who didn’t mind the substitution at all. Good dog.
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Bacon:
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • 6 strips center-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. To prepare the nuts: In a small bowl, add the pecans, walnuts, brown sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, paprika and a pinch of salt and a grind or 2 of pepper. Stir until everything is coated and set aside.
  3. To prepare the bacon: In another small bowl, add the brown sugar, paprika, bacon, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and a grind or 2 of pepper. Spread out on a nonstick baking sheet and cook until the bacon is almost done and the sugars are bubbling, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the nut mixture on to the sheet. Stir and fold with a spatula and spread everything out on the sheet again. Place back in the oven for 15 more minutes, stirring and spreading again halfway through. Serve warm, or allow to cool and break apart.


















Recently, Pamela and I went to the Institute of Culinary Education.















Where we learned to make homemade pasta.
















And also how hard it is to make homemade pasta.
















But the last time we got together, I made this lovely Caponata.
















Just as delicious. And less flour in your hair. And shoes. And handbag.


Making pasta from scratch isn’t really that hard. But the part about the flour in my handbag is true.
  • 3 cups olive oil
  • 2 lbs. eggplant, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste, thinned with ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup crushed canned tomatoes
  • 6 oz. green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. finely grated unsweetened chocolate
  • ½ cup finely shredded basil
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts
  1. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add eggplant and fry, tossing occasionally, until browned, 3–4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggplant to a large bowl; set aside. Pour off all but ¼ cup oil, and reserve for another use. Return skillet to heat, add onions and celery, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until caramelized and almost evaporated, 1–2 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Stir in olives, vinegar, raisins, capers, sugar, and chocolate, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Transfer to bowl with eggplant, along with basil and pine nuts, and mix together. Season with salt and pepper, and let cool to room temperature before serving


Cheese Straws
















Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
















After Cinco de Mayo.
















And if you were with me this Thanksgiving, you probably couldn’t tell the difference. Tequila, you vixen, must you make an appearance at every holiday???
















Which is why I am grateful for easy recipes like this.
















Basically all you need is an oven….
















Some puff pastry……….
















And to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.


Cheese Straws

I adapted this recipe by adding about 6 tablespoons of za’atar instead of the thyme. I can appreciate that not everyone has za’atar in the house. But it’s easy to use in all kinds of dishes. Pretty hard to spell correctly though.
  • 2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry (such as Pepperidge Farm), defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup finely grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board until it is 10- by 12-inches. Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the surface of the pastry. Sprinkle each sheet evenly with 1⁄4 cup of the Parmesan, 1⁄2 cup of the Gruyère, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the thyme, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt, and some pepper. With the rolling pin, lightly press the flavorings into the puff pastry. Cut each sheet crosswise with a floured knife or pizza wheel into 11 or 12 strips. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each straw and bake for another 2 minutes. Don’t over bake or the cheese will burn. Cool and serve at room temperature.



Curried Apple Squash Bisque

There is not much you can dislike about butternut squash.  Except of course,  around Thanksgiving, we all start to resemble one.

Oh just me?  Moving on….Distraction statement….

One thing that’s often overlooked about the Pilgrims…..

Is their love for Red Thai Curry Paste.

Work with me here.

Oh look,  I made a heavy cream silhouette of my 2nd grade teacher. Who was mean. And had a gnarled finger.

Another thing overlooked about the Pilgrims is their obvious use of the Vitamix.

Pretty sure it’s in the history books. One of the newer editions.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!!


We love you mom(s)!!

Curried Apple Squash Bisque

I have eaten so much butternut squash it is now my dress size. I am an M/L Butternut Squash in dresses. Seriously, this is the best soup I have ever ever made. Which is not that amazing because I have only made one other recipe. But make this recipe next year or I will come over and make it for you.
  • •2 2-pound butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
  • •2 teaspoons olive oil
  • •2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • •1 cup chopped onion
  • •1 cup chopped carrots
  • •1 chopped peeled apple (laaaarge apple)
  • •2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste*
  • •2 14-ounce cans low-salt chicken broth
  • •2 bay leaves
  • •1/4 cup whipping cream
  • •4 tablespoons honey
  • •6 tablespoons sour cream, stirred to loosen
  • •Chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush cut side of squash with oil; place squash, cut side down, on large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 1 hour. Cool slightly. Scoop squash out into large bowl. Measure 3 cups squash (reserve any remaining squash for another use).
  2. Melt butter in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and apple; sauté 5 minutes. Add curry paste; stir 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, bay leaves, and 3 cups squash. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered 1 hour. Discard bay leaves. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return to same pot. Stir in cream and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Rewarm over medium-high heat.
  3. Divide soup among bowls. Drizzle with sour cream; sprinkle with cilantro.


Cranberry Cream Tartlets
















When you are done with my Thanksgiving dinner….
















You believe that you cannot eat another bite of anything in your lifetime.
















The button on your pants is about to fly across the room like escargots in a Julia Roberts movie. Slippery little suckers.
















You can hear the grommets on your chair weep for reprieve from the extra weight of your rapidly expanding bod.
















But that’s what stretchy pants are for.
















Oh, you don’t wear them all year long at dinner?
































Anyway, this is a perfect serving size dessert that will help save your pants buttons. And your chairs. And your love life.
















And if you are still clinging to the belief that Martha Stewart might stop by your house to make all of your dreams come true and hire you as a recipe developer so you can quit your day job…
















Use some leftover cranberries to make pretty napkin rings.
















Perfect portion little tarts….
















If you don’t eat six of them.
















At the same sitting…

Cranberry Cream Tartlets

To make the napkin rings, just cut a small piece of craft wire and string the cranberries through. Twist to close. You heard it here first.
  • 2 cups finely crushed gingersnaps (about 30 cookies)
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 2⅔ cups water
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1⅓ cups sour cream
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 1 recipe Double Vanilla Whipped Cream
  • 24 sugared fresh cranberries (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a medium bowl stir together crushed gingersnaps and melted butter; press onto the bottoms and up the sides of eight 4-1/2-inch individual tart pans. Place tart pans on a baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  2. In a medium saucepan bring the water to boiling. Remove from heat; stir in dried cranberries. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. In another medium saucepan combine sour cream, sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, and salt. Stir in the water-cranberry mixture. Bring to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly; reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and the ½ teaspoon orange peel. Spoon evenly into prepared tart shells. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours.
  4. Spoon Double Vanilla Whipped Cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe whipped cream onto the tarts. Remove tarts from pans; if desired, garnish each tart with three sugared cranberries and additional finely shredded orange peel. Serve immediately.
Double Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine whipping cream and vanilla paste. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until soft mounds form. Add powdered sugar; beat on high speed until soft peaks form (tips curl).
Sugared Cranberries

  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
  1. Combine ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in cranberries until well coated. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to wire rack; let dry for at least 1 hour.
  2. Working in batches, roll cranberries in remaining 1½ cups sugar until well coated; let dry for at least 1 hour.


Honey Sesame Chick Peas


Tonight we went to see the movie “Gone Girl”.


And that’s pretty much what happened.


I fell asleep.


Not a doze. A deep, Titanic REM sleep.


It’s not all Ben Affleck’s fault.


Although he still owes me $8.50 for Gigli. And Daredevil. And Jersey Girl. And Man About Town.  And the J-Lo years. And what he makes next.

081I did eat a massive tub of popcorn however that equaled this month’s electric bill. That may have contributed to the nap.


I think I’ll make these honey sesame chickpeas for our next movie night.


Which will be starring Matt Damon Ryan Gosling.


Honey Sesame Chick Peas

Know this: this is not an easy recipe. Much like Ben Affleck movies, it is going to take a while to get it right. You have to make sure your chick peas are totally dry before you start roasting and to do this, you should start with dried chickpeas, not canned. If you do use canned, drain and pat away until these suckers are bone dry or you will be stuck with soggy chick peas. Which are not a good movie snack.
  • 2 {15 ounce} cans Chickpeas {aka garbanzo}, drained and rinsed or I bag of dried chickpeas (soaked)
  • ¼ cup Honey
  • 1 tablespoon toasted Sesame Oil
  • ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  1. Arrange the chickpeas on a large, rimmed metal sheet pan. Roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together honey, toasted sesame oil and salt.
  3. Once the chickpeas are roasted, remove and drizzle with the honey mixture and toss around. Sprinkle with the sesame, stir to coat the chickpeas and then slide them back into the oven for 10 more minutes or until caramelized.
  4. Allow to cool (honey will harden to a candy coating) before serve.




Pumpkin Spice Latte


As John Oliver said, we tolerate pumpkin spice because we like fall. Fall is the best season because we get to stop thinking about how weird our legs look in shorts.

007The Huffington Post said pumpkin spice is the gateway drug of autumnal pumpkin edibles.

012I say, it’s amazing how polarizing a coffee beverage can be.


Sure, the whole cast of CSI would be hard pressed to find even trace elements of pumpkin in “pumpkin spice” but who cares?


It’s not like any California grapes were harmed in the production of my last Fanta. And not a Florida orange casualty in a whole vat of Sunny D.

036So I decided to travel 10 feet to my nearest Starbucks to try out the beverage that has 96,000 Twitter followers. About 95,999 more than me. (Thanks mom)

046And the verdict?

053It absolutely does taste like an overpriced yuppie candle.

060Try this version. Made with real pumpkin and way less humiliating.


Pumpkin Spice Latte

This recipe makes 2 servings. Because until they figure out what Pumpkin Spice really is, you probably don’t need any more than that.
  • 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, plus more to garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 to 2 shots espresso or about ¼ cup strong coffee
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, whipped until firm peaks form
  1. Heat the pumpkin and spices: In a small saucepan over medium heat cook the pumpkin with the pumpkin pie spice and a generous helping of black pepper for 2 minutes or until it’s hot and smells cooked. Stir constantly.
  2. Stir in the sugar: Add the sugar and stir until the mixture looks like a bubbly thick syrup.
  3. Warm the milk: Whisk in the milk and vanilla extract. Warm gently over medium heat, watching carefully to make sure it doesn’t boil over.
  4. Blend the milk: Carefully process the milk mixture with a hand blender or in a traditional blender (hold the lid down tightly with a thick wad of towels!) until frothy and blended.
  5. Mix the drinks: Make the espresso or coffee and divide between two mugs and add the frothed milk. Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg if desired.