It’s back-to-school time again. And it’s kinda a big year for us. No, no little ones on the way. It’s Kevin’s (aka graduate school husband) last year of graduate school. Next year, we leave for internship. Time flies. Three short years ago, we married, moved to Chicago, and Kevin started graduate school in hopes of becoming a clinical psychologist. Hopes are beginning to turn into realities. And I’m gonna have to rewrite the first paragraph of my bio. One year closer to dropping the sugar momma title! Read more
One man’s dessert is another man’s breakfast. At least that’s what happened with my leftover mascarpone filling from these tarts. Can I tell you—nothing goes to waste at this casa. Nothing. You would think we lived through the Great Depression. Oh, wait. But on a happier note, this leftover treasure made for one, no two, very delicious breakfasts. I’m talking, so good, you don’t need to leave your house breakfasts. True story—we went out to breakfast one morning, stood in line to be seated, and decided to head back home and make this—Mascarpone French Toast. Read more
I’ve written and rewritten this sentence 13 times. How do I compete with this?
Aren’t they cute? And tiny. And little. I have an affinity towards small things. Simon Birch is my favorite movie. And the only movie I can quote every line. “Ah, it’s a horse!” Simon says in a squeaky voice after coming into contact with a large dog. I feel that way sometimes too, Simon. Five. Zero. That’s all the length I’ve got. We short people have to stick together. And that’s why I like mini tarts. They’re just my size. Read more
I’m not sure if I should title this Cupcakes 101, Baking 101, or Melissa’s Baking Philosophy. I did a presentation on this a couple weeks ago and called it Cupcakes 101. So we’ll stick with that. Just know—this isn’t your ordinary cupcake talk. I apologize.
I mentioned doing a presentation. On food. First time ever. Yes, I was nervous. Nail biting nervous. I’m used to presenting logos, brochures, and ideas, but food…I love food. It’s got an extra soft spot in my heart and in my stomach. But I’m no expert. I’m self taught. I guess you could say Martha taught me everything I know via daytime television. That gives me some credibility. But it ends there. Most days, it’s just me, my kitchen, trial, and error. Read more
Last month I made this decadent chocolate chip cake. And topped it with a hand drawn sign. I had every intention of making it available to you, but in the flurry of serving and eating the cake, the sign disappeared. Probably selling for big bucks on e-Bay. Ha!
Ask and you shall receive. A reader asked for the sign this week so I decided to go digging around for my original template. Found—under a stack of unread Real Simple magazines. (Don’t worry, I will read these cover to cover.) So, I did a little scanning and editing and viola! A downloable PDF just for you! Read more
So excited to finally share what I’ve been concocting this week! I’m guest posting over at Baking with Basil, so you’ll have to head on over there to get the full scoop, pun intended. But first—can I tell you that this ice cream tastes absolutely incredible despite what you may be thinking. And the lemon wafer cookie just puts it over the top. Basil. Who would of thought? Thankfully, Brooke had faith in me. She is one brave lady! While you’re there, stay awhile and check out all of her great recipes. Bon Appetit!
UPDATE: Basil Ice Cream recipe originally posted at Baking with Basil.
- 2 c. half and half
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 1 1/2 c. whole milk
- 1/2 c. basil leaves, lightly packed
- 1 1/4 c. sugar
- dash of sea salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- In a blender, puree milk and basil leaves.
- In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, combine milk puree, half and half, heavy cream, 1 cup of sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine. Give it a little taste to make sure you have enough salt.
- In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar.
- Over medium-high heat, heat milk mixture until sugar dissolves and begins to simmer. Slowly pour about one cup of the simmering milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs (a.k.a. cook the eggs without scrambling them). Add egg mixture to sauce pan, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Turn heat off. Add vanilla extract.
- Pour mixture in a large bowl. Cover and place in fridge to cool, about 3 hours. To speed up the cooling process, place bowl in an ice bath in the fridge, or place in the freezer sans ice bath.
- Once mixture is cold, make ice cream according to your machine’s instructions.
- Serve with a lemon wafer cookie (purchase at Whole Foods) and a sprig of basil if you wish.
My absolute favorite restaurant serves italian white bean hummus with flatbread crisps as an appetizer. (Please promise me you’ll go here if you are ever in the Chicago area.) I could go just for the hummus and maybe a drink. But you know how that goes—if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to ask for a glass of milk.
Because I can’t abstain from the rest of the menu, I learned how to make white bean hummus at home. It’s pretty darn close, and it’s pretty darn good. Although I have yet to try making the flat bread crisps. Not sure if I can pull those off.
Can I tell you the best thing about this hummus? It brings good friends around a table. Put a couple plates of hummus out. Pita chips. Or grilled naan. A bottle of wine. And that’s a recipe for a good evening.
- 2 15oz. cans of cannellini beans
- 1/4 c. tahini paste (you can buy this at Whole Foods)
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil + more for serving
- 1/4 c.-1/2 c. water
- red pepper flakes
- parmesan cheese, grated
- Rinse and drain beans.
- Place beans in a food processor or high powered blender. Add tahini, lemon juice, salt, cumin, and garlic.
- Turn the processor on and slowly pour in olive oil. Process until smooth and thick. Add warm water to thin if texture is too thick. Cover and refrigerate.
- To serve, place hummus on a plate. Drag the back of a spoon in a swirling pattern around top of hummus (not pictured). Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes. Accompany with pita chips, naan, or flat bread crisps.
I’ve departed from my normal flour, butter, and sugar gig this week. I hope you don’t mind.
Confession: I’m a mexican food junkie, and I eat way too much guacamole. But I wasn’t always this way. Sadly, my unrefined childhood taste buds didn’t crave guac until I was in college. I lost a good 20 years of consumption. However, I think I’ve made up for it in the last six years. Thank goodness for its health benefits.
Every time I make guac, I think of my mom. She first introduced me to it with a recipe called—Game Day Guacamole. I can still see it peeking out of her overly stuffed light blue checked recipe box. Excuse me while I reminisce. The fact that food has the ability to conjure up vivid memories makes me love it even more.
I wish I could say that I still use the Game Day recipe, but I don’t. Being the hard-headed person that I am, I had to come up with my own recipe. I blame it on the artist in me. I’m like a dog marking its territory. I have to put my stamp on everything. Knowing how I am now, I can only imagine what I was like as a child. My apologies Mom and Dad. But lucky for you, I have perfected my recipe. At least to my liking. So go ahead, and give it a try.
The best thing about this recipe—it’s not a science. Precision isn’t a must. Taste as you go. Follow your gut. And put your own stamp on it, or not.
recipe from yours truly
5 ripe avocados, peeled
1/4 c. chopped grape tomatoes
2 tbsp. chopped red onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
3-6 jarred jalapeños, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
half of a lime, squeezed
1. Add avocados to a large bowl and mash. Click here for a peeling how-to.
2. Mix in tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, jalapeños, cumin, and lime juice.
3. Add Sriracha and sea salt to taste.
4. Taste. Add more where you see fit. It’s usually salt or cumin for me.
5. Press plastic wrap on surface of guacamole. This will keep oxygen from creeping in and turning things brown before you serve it.