Recipes you have to try

Last week the half a bag of coconut and two half used bags of butterscotch and chocolate chips were calling my name from the pantry. Seriously. I was trying to write a blog post and they would not shut up. They needed to be consumed. They were lonely in there with all the boring flax seeds and garbanzo beans. I had to oblige them.

When I googled butterscotch, chocolate and coconut these came up. The oven was set to 350 in less than 5 seconds.

I am such a sucker for a gooey bar. Way better than a cookie or cake. Bars are the way to go. They keep longer, you can decide the portion and they are harder to screw up baking wise. The recipe is here. I changed a few things though:

I subbed all of the butter for applesauce. (Fine if you don’t mind an apple taste, but if not, just sub half of the butter or not at all if you can wear a bikini with pride.)

I used flax eggs instead of real. I usually always do this in baked goods now. It’s just one T. flax meal to 3T. almond milk or water. I started doing this so Beau could eat raw cookie dough to his hearts content, but now it’s just became habit.

I subbed a cup of the flour with whole wheat. I have no idea if its any healthier but it makes me feel like it is. I also feel like its healthier to consume dessert standing over the counter in a dark kitchen around midnight with my only light coming from under the microwave. My thighs say differently.

I think I’ve gotten us onto a slippery slope. Let’s just keep going with the health theme here.

Mint Oreo Cupcakes. Don’t be fooled by the lone Oreo on top. There is also one BAKED IN THE BOTTOM. Like I said, healthy.  To be honest, the two Oreo’s are kind of overkill but just go with it. I made these for the winery employees. You wouldn’t have to do mint. You could run with any flavor Oreo you find and adjust your frosting accordingly. I didn’t really substitute anything expect for making the cake from scratch instead of the box. Too many preservatives in those things. Wow, I just totally judged you using cake mix from a box while also telling you to put two Oreo’s in one cupcake. The irony. It’s killing me softly. Use whatever you want. Just promise me, you will eat some kale while you make these. You need to be able to fit through your front door without the jaws of life. Remember this when you reach for seconds.

When you have delusions that you are a chef(that would be me) but your repertoire consists of Beouf Bourginon, gooey bars, and a bad-ass vinaigrette dressing sometimes you ask yourself in a Nathan Lane singsong voice “Is that all there is?

If I think I’m some great chef maybe I should be able to make something other than Italian? Maybe something daring like Asian or Indian? I already make a mean fry-bread taco, so obviously I’ve got Mexican covered. In my Asian recipe searching I went back to Ole Faithful, The Pioneer Woman.


Oh, a rancher from Oklahoma wasn’t your first choice for Asian cuisine??? Yes me neither, but my Nobu Cookbook was stuck in customs and I had green onions spoiling. Her Sesame Noodles were beckoning me. I’m not going to lie though…I have some issues with this recipe.

First, that she uses spaghetti noodles. I’m sorry but my brain can’t compute using what I think of as Italian ingredients in Asian.  I just can’t. I stick things into compartmentalized boxes and that is where they stay. I could write a whole post about why Rory Gilmore does not belong on Mad Men, but then I’ll be up all evening. Just know that I see things very black and white. Gray is not in my color wheel. Unless it’s on walls, then it’s dreamy.  I had to sub Spelt pasta. I needed the dark color and texture. To each his own, but I think the rougher texture of the noodles make the sauce cling better.

Second, I subbed brown raw sugar for white sugar. I have no idea really why, but I generally prefer using brown sugar in cooking. I delude myself into thinking it deepens the flavors of the dish. Whatevs, you could probably add Sweet N’ Low and I’d ask for seconds.

Third and lastly, Sesame Seeds! What are cold sesame noodles without sesame seeds??? Admittedly I’m a sesame seed addict. I buy them in bulk and have been known to bring them in my purse when dining out. Since most of you that read this blog know me, my weirdness shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. (Hi mom.) I have now made these like 5 times in the last month. You should do the same.

Let’s continue this journey on the Orient Express. I’ve been a strict vegetarian for 7 years. No chicken broth,  no jello, no marshmallows. Nothing. I also don’t eat eggs or drink milk so I was far down the road to militant Veganism. Until I read The End of Illness. In short,  Omega 3 supplements are BS and the only real way to get them is from Fish or flax but even flax is a little suspect. Of course Salmon is like the hot popular blond hippie in the fish kingdom so I started there.

(This photo is awful. I apologize.)

I’m not the biggest fish fan so starting out I need recipes that drown the taste out enough for me to be able to imagine it’s tofu. With scales and bones.  This recipe does just that. It’s awesome and Asian and easy. That sentence sounds like a video I found on my ex’s computer.

I really didn’t tweak this recipe except to add WAY more brown sugar.  I feel like I can’t have a recipe without sugar in this post. I like octupled the sugar. I added 1/4 C. instead of the measly 1 1/2 teaspoon the recipe calls for. Don’t judge me. It makes it better. Trust. I also subbed olive oil for the peanut oil because I’m lazy and didn’t  feel like spending 8 dollars on organic peanut oil. Add a teaspoon of peanut butter to the marinade and it will taste the same.  My last tip for the recipe is to not use all of it for the marinade. Save some for serving and drizzle it on top. Magical. Almost doesn’t taste like fish. Almost.

I promise I  don’t only make recipes with sugar. Here’s a delightful pot pie I made two weeks ago.

Mushroom Potpie

(Totally did not look this and that fork is ugly)

What’s that you say? Puff Pastry contains sugar? You can leave my blog right now and go click back over to This recipe may or may not contain a form of what may or may not be sugar. I at least didn’t add any more.

In summation, this recipe is delicious and I didn’t change a thing! Except for one of course. It has you make it in an 8 in square baking dish. Wha-wha-what??? No, no, no. Pot pie is served in individual ramekins. There is no square pot pie. You DO NOT CUT pot pie into squares and serve. While I admire the food styling in the photo above,  the pot pie is rapidly oozing away from the crust  and will devour that lettuce in a matter of seconds. I don’t like warm runny salads and I assume you don’t either. Make it the way it’s supposed to be. In bowls. Individually. So with every spoonful you get a piece of crust. What is wrong with you Real Simple? Do you not even know your own name????

Let’s leave on a high note.  And by high I mean what your cholesterol will be after eating this. Or what you should eat if you have a case of the munchies.

martha's creamy mac

Oh hi there Martha. I usually think your recipes are a hot mess and wonder if the test cooks in your kitchens are actually high, because they never ever turn out correctly. But with this one you proved me wrong. The photo and recipe I’m linking to are from Smitten Kitchen because I like her photos more, and Deb needs more clicks than silly old Martha but the recipe is the exact same. Here’s the thing….The croutons are what makes this dish. MAKES. THIS. DISH. The base is everything you want in Mac and Cheese. Elbow noodles? Check. Although cavatappi would make a perfectly fine choice if you were trying to impress fancy people. Cheddar cheese? Check. Butter, milk, blah blah blah. Your traditional components are all here. The roux is a solid foundation that stops it from becoming a liquid style mac and cheese. Boston Market, I’m looking at you. Whatever, the base is fine. It’s better than fine even, it’s good. What makes this dish excellent though, is something as simple as TOSSING MELTED BUTTER WITCH CUT UP WHITE BREAD and baking them on top.  Oh. My. God or .Gawd depending on your proximity to Long Island. This dish becomes transcendental with the addition of  adding what are basically croutons. Because they’re soft. And Buttery. And crunchy. And the perfect complement to the strong tasting cheese beneath. It’s other worldly. The first time I made it I added a touch of blue cheese to the crust. Ridonkulous good. I know it’s summer now and comfort food has been put on the back burner but sometime in mid-August when you’re sick of tomatoes and cucumbers(that day will come, promise) and it’s raining and you’re starting to long for fall, pull this recipe out and make it.  I swear to you it’s worth heating up that oven.

Grab me my gun. The best magazine you’re not reading.

I’ve always felt like I lived in the wrong part of the country and born in the wrong time period. I really should have been a southern belle in the 1950’s. Maybe I’m pulling a Shirley MacClaine and really was??? Spooky… or maybe it’s just because of my roots I feel so drawn to the south. My Grandmother was born and bred in Texas. Her little sister is even named Dixie. Seriously.  So my grandmothers Southern blood coupled with spending summers with an aunt in Virginia it’s made me a total wannabe debutante. That is why this magazine has replaced Martha Stewart Living as my monthly must have.

My mom lives in North Carolina during the week for work and commutes back to Minnesota on the weekends. On one of these trips last summer she grabbed an issue in the airport and brought it home for me knowing full well, it was my magazine soul mate. Oh, don’t y’all have magazine soul mates too? (See what I did there?)

The photography is  breathtaking and the subjects covered are true Southern Americana.

Isn’t this photo haunting and beautiful at the same time?

The magazine not only features sporting and food,  but it also highlights Southern musicians

The Avett Brothers.

The magazine was launched by Rebecca Wesson Darwin in 2007. Ms. Darwin envisioned a magazine about the South, the sporting life and the land. She had recently moved back to Charleston, South Carolina following a successful publishing career in NYC, and in hindsight, launching a lifestyle magazine in the beginning of the recession was probably not the smartest choice, but she steered them through it and the magazine is thriving.

The magazine also highlights true Southern fashion.

The recipes and food photography is incredible. Traditional southern barbeque with coleslaw and deep fried Okra. Doesn’t get more Southern than that.

Oh wait it does. Pimento cheese spread!

They also offer true southern cocktail recipes like the 610 Magnolia 

1 large and uneven slice of lemon peel
1 rough-cut brown 
    sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dash Regan’s Orange 
Bitters No. 6
No more than 1 oz. branch water (or bottled water)
2 large ice cubes
2 oz. Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-year bourbon
Small triangle of orange slice for garnish

Add the lemon peel, sugar cube, and both bitters into the bottom of an old-fashioned glass. Using a wooden muddler, begin to muddle the ingredients firmly but not violently in the bottom of the glass, working the muddler in a circle. The tapered shape of the glass allows you to perform this task with ease.

Add the water, and continue to muddle for a bit longer. Add the ice and then the bourbon. Stir with a spoon. Float the thinly sliced orange on top of the drink (not wedged onto the side of the glass), and serve.
I also love that the magazine prominently features animals.

As their masthead says, it truly is the Soul of the South.

With that, I’ll leave you with this truly Southern recipe from one of their recent issues.

Arnold Palmer Cake

From Momufuku Milk Bar
Makes a 6″ Cake, Serves 6 to 8

1 Lemon Tea Cake
1/4 cup Bitter Tea Soak
1 cup Tea Jelly
1 3/4 cups Lemon Mascarpone
2/3 cup Almond-Tea-Crunch

8 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon extract
1 1/2 cups cake flour
9 bags Lipton black tea leaves
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350° F. Cream the butter and granulated sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. After 2 or 3 minutes on medium-high, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs and egg yolks one by one until they disappear into the butter and sugar.

Scrape down the sides again and turn the mixer to low speed. Stream in the oil, buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon extract. Mix on medium until everything is homogenous and fluffy—about 5 minutes.

Combine the flour, tea leaves, baking powder, and salt in a separate mixing bowl. With the mixer running on low, incorporate the dry ingredients into your main bowl. You don’t want to overmix the cake; just mix until the dry ingredients disappear (45 seconds or so).

Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat. Spread the cake batter on the pan and give it a little jiggle to even things out. Bake for about 30 minutes, then give it a gentle poke. You’re looking for it to bounce back and for the cake to have pulled back from the edges a bit.

(makes a little more than you need)
2 1/4 cups water
8 bags Lipton black tea
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup instant Lipton unsweetened iced-tea powder
1/2 tsp. pectin NH
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove it from the heat and add the tea bags. Let the bags steep for 5 minutes, or until the tea is very bitter. Discard the tea bags and store the bitter tea soak in an airtight container.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the sugar, pectin, and tea powder until thoroughly combined. Over high heat, slowly whisk in 3 cups of bitter tea soak and the lemon juice, and bring to a full rolling boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for at least 2 minutes. This activates the pectin and will turn the tea and lemon into a beautiful jelly. Transfer the jelly to an appropriate container and refrigerate. Once set, the jelly will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.