Brown Eyed Baker Sweet. Savory. Sinful. Thu, 23 Oct 2014 04:01:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 BEB Readers: Most Popular Cookbooks and Kitchen Equipment Thu, 23 Oct 2014 04:01:35 +0000 10 of the Most Popular Cookbooks and Kitchen Gadgets Among BEB Readers |

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been in multiple stores that already have their Christmas items on display, while Halloween items are sitting on clearance racks. Retail marketing continues to befuddle me, which is probably why I had no luck looking for Thanksgiving decorations two weeks before Thanksgiving last year. I can’t keep up! The holidays are hurtling towards us at a serious clip, and my mom has already asked me what I want for Christmas. Twice. I have no idea. I’m still trying to figure out if our baby is supposed to sleep in a crib, a bassinet, a pack n’ play, a rock n’ play or the dog bed (kidding!) come January. What I want most for Christmas is to not go into labor during a snow storm. That’s about it… I’m so easy to shop for, right?!

In the event that you’ve already started your shopping or have been putting together your own wish list, I thought it would be fun to run through the most popular cookbooks and kitchen gear among BEB readers thus far in 2014. I always love to see what other people are buying, and there have been some seriously awesome cookbooks released this year. One thing is for sure – you all love your ice cream and soup! My kind of people :)

10 Most Popular Cookbooks

1. The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments

2. New England Soup Factory Cookbook: More Than 100 Recipes from the Nation’s Best Purveyor of Fine Soup

3. America’s Test Kitchen DIY Cookbook

4. 500 Soups: The Only Soup Compendium You’ll Ever Need

5. Williams-Sonoma Collection: Soup

6. Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

7. Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food

8. Sweet Cream & Sugar Cones: 90 Recipes for Making Your Own Ice Cream and Frozen Treats from Bi-Rite Creamery

9. Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

10. The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

10 Most Popular Kitchen Items

1. Tovolo Glide-A-Scoop Ice Cream Tub

2. Norpro Cream Canoe Pan

3. Progressive Freezer Pop Maker

4. Le Creuset Petite Oval Au Gratin Dish

5. Norpro Stainless Steel Cannoli Forms

6. John Boos Block Board Cream with Beeswax

7. CIA Masters Collection Wire Cooling Rack

8. KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment

9. Taylor Candy and Deep Fry Stainless Steel Thermometer

10. Fat Diddio Oblong Tart Pan with Removable Bottom

What were some of your favorite cookbook and kitchen gadgets this year??

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip Wed, 22 Oct 2014 04:01:00 +0000 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip - A sweet, creamy dip that tastes like chocolate chip cookie dough without the guilt of raw egg! | #recipe

When I was a kid and my mom would bake cookies, there was an unwritten rule that my sister and I would get to lick the beaters when my mom was done. This usually happened in the midst of holiday baking, and I have such fond memories of hanging out in the kitchen, waiting for her to be done with the mixer so that I could swipe some of that sweet, sugary cookie dough off the beater. At some point along the way, raw cookie dough became bad news amidst worries over salmonella. I don’t think my mom ever made us stop eating cookie dough, but it sure took some of the fun out of it! Luckily, this sweet dip tastes almost exactly like raw cookie dough (minus the gritty, sugary texture), which means all the sinful goodness without the raw eggs!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip - A sweet, creamy dip that tastes like chocolate chip cookie dough without the guilt of raw egg! | #recipe

Almost ten years ago, one of my best friends and I were lucky enough to work at the same place. We routinely used our work breaks to bring binders full of recipes to the corporate cafeteria and swap favorites. This recipe was one of the recipes that she gifted to me during one of those escapes from the cubicle, and it continues to be one of my favorites.

I love that it’s not a straight-up dessert, but rather an awesome sweet snack that’s perfect for get-togethers. If you grew up stealing bites of your mom’s cookie dough, you’ll absolutely love this dip!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip - A sweet, creamy dip that tastes like chocolate chip cookie dough without the guilt of raw egg! | #recipe

One year ago: Compost Cookies
Two years ago: Pumpkin Seed Brittle with Vanilla Bean and Cardamom
Four years ago: The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Five years ago: Egg Bagels

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

A sweet, creamy dip that tastes just like chocolate chip cookie dough without the guilt of raw egg!


½ cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
⅓ cup light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces cream cheese
½ cup powdered sugar
¾ cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
Graham crackers or Nilla wafers, to serve


1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter, brown sugar and salt over medium-low heat, stirring continuously, until the brown sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, whisk in the vanilla extract, and set aside to cool to room temperature.

2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar for 1 minute, until smooth and fluffy.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in the cooled butter mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl and refrigerate if not serving immediately. Remove from the refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes before serving. Serve with graham crackers or Nilla wafers. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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Apple Slab Pie Tue, 21 Oct 2014 04:01:38 +0000 Apple Slab Pie - Perfect for serving a crowd! | #recipe

My grandma was much more of a “cooking grandma” than a “baking grandma”, so many of my memories surrounding her food revolve around dinners, not necessarily desserts. She did have a handful of sweet treats in her repertoire (things like icebox cake, ambrosia and biscotti) that she would serve, but the focal point was always the actual meal. The only pie I remember her ever making was apple, and it was never in a traditional round pie plate… it was always in a sheet pan or a 9×13-inch baking pan. I never asked why, but knowing my grandma, she would have figured that a 9-inch pie plate wouldn’t make enough to feed everyone on a typical Sunday. Having just enough was never enough for her; she wanted to make sure that if someone wanted seconds or thirds, there would be plenty left.

Apple Slab Pie - Perfect for serving a crowd! | #recipe

As someone who loves a high crust to filling ratio when it comes to pie, slab pie is right up my alley.

There is an abundance of butter, flaky crust, and just the right amount of juicy, spiced apple filling.

Apple Slab Pie - Perfect for serving a crowd! | #recipe

The filling set up beautifully and was perfect when the pie was sliced – it didn’t run and the apples didn’t slide out every which way, which is a huge pet peeve of mine when eating a big slice of pie. Most times I find that I end up eating the filling separately, since it ends up all over the plate and not neatly packaged inside the crust.

As you can see, this filling was perfectly sturdy and had just the right amount of apples and thickener. It was a thing of beauty!

Apple Slab Pie - Perfect for serving a crowd! | #recipe

If you love pie in any of its many forms, you owe it to yourself to make a slab pie. It’s less fussy than traditional pie, and it will ensure that everyone can take a crack at seconds if they’d like.

It’s the only way my grandma believed in feeding people, and I’m happy to follow in her footsteps!

Apple Slab Pie - Perfect for serving a crowd! | #recipe

One year ago: Slow Cooker Apple Butter
Two years ago: Maple Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Three years ago: Skillet Apple Crisp
Five years ago: How to Roast Garlic

Apple Slab Pie

Yield: 12 to 18 servings

Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

A traditional apple pie made in a jelly roll pan - perfect for crowds!


For the Crust:
3¾ (470 grams) cups all-purpose flour
1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ cups (340 grams) unsalted butter, very cold
¾ cup ice water

For the Filling:
3½ to 4 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 8 medium apples), peeled, cored and chopped into ½-inch chunks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
⅛ teaspoon salt

For the Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
Pinch of salt


1. Make the Crust: Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas. Gently stir in the water with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Using your hands, knead it two or three times to form a ball. Divide the dough roughly in half (it’s okay if one is slightly larger). Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc. Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or up to two days).

2. Preheat oven oven to 375 degrees F. Line the bottom of 10x15x1-inch baking sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper.

3. Prepare the Filling: In a large bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice until coated. Add the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt, and stir to evenly coat.

4. Assemble the Pie: On a lightly floured surface, roll one of your dough halves (the larger one, if you have two different sizes) into an 18x13-inch rectangle. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and gently work the dough into the corners and along the edges of the pan. Trim any overhang off the sides to ¾-inch.

5. Turn the apple mixture onto the dough and spread into an even layer.

6. Roll the second piece of dough (the smaller one, if they were different sizes) into a 16x11-inch rectangle. Drape over the filling and fold the bottom crust’s overhang over the edges, sealing the two pieces of dough together. Crimp the edges, if desired. Using a paring knife, cut nine small slits over the surface of the top crust.

7. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, water and salt. Brush a thin coating of the egg wash evenly over all of the exposed crust.

8. Bake the Pie: Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool to room temperature before serving, about 45 minutes. Leftovers will keep at room temperature, well-covered, for up to three days.

(Recipe from Smitten Kitchen)

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Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs Mon, 20 Oct 2014 04:01:59 +0000 Crock-Pot BBQ Ribs - The easiest, most flavorful ribs you'll ever make at home! | #slowcooker #recipe

Homemade ribs are one of the few things that have truly intimidated me in the kitchen. I have saved countless recipes for barbecue ribs, but all of the hands-on time, plus precise grilling temperatures and placements, left me feeling less than motivated to tackle them at home. I mentioned to you on Friday that I’ve been trying to make more use of my slow cooker, and last week while I was making my grocery list, I asked my Chief Culinary Consultant if there was anything in particular he’d like for dinner. He suggested some type of meat in the slow cooker, so I started poking around for ideas. I threw out some new ideas, and when I mentioned barbecue ribs, he immediately got excited. Ribs it was!

Crock-Pot BBQ Ribs - The easiest, most flavorful ribs you'll ever make at home! | #slowcooker #recipe

I ended up mashing together a number of different recipes before I came up with my game plan. A lot of the recipes I found called for simply throwing the ribs into the slow cooker with a bottle of barbecue sauce; however, many of those reviews stated that the meat lacked flavor. So, I decided a rub was in order. Done.

The next hurdle was figuring out how to eliminate a fatty, soupy sauce if the ribs cooked down, releasing juices and fat into the barbecue sauce. Some recipes recommended par-cooking the ribs in the oven to help with this, but that seemed to defeat the purpose of having an easy, throw-it-together-in-10-minutes type of meal. I opted for cooking the ribs sans sauce for the first seven hours; between the rub and layers of onion, the meat was wonderfully flavored. Then, the accumulated liquids were drained out, the ribs returned to the slow cooker with the barbecue sauce, and cooked for an additional hour. I was positively thrilled with how this method worked out.

The resulting ribs were literally falling off the bones, and were bursting with sweet, smoky and slightly spicy flavors. We enjoyed the ribs exactly how they came out, but if you prefer a stickier, more caramelized coating of barbecue sauce on your ribs, you could place them on a foil-lined baking sheet once they are done in the slow cooker and broil them for a few minutes.

Now that we’ve had these ribs, I don’t feel like I need to master the on-the-grill version anymore. These could not be simpler or have a better texture and flavor! If you’ve been intimidated by making ribs at home, this recipe is your answer. Served with my favorite mashed potatoes and cole slaw, we were definitely going back for seconds!

I have a feeling this is going to be a weekly request at this house ;-)

Crock-Pot BBQ Ribs - The easiest, most flavorful ribs you'll ever make at home! | #slowcooker #recipe

Three years ago: Salted Caramel Popcorn, Pretzel & Peanut Bars
Four years ago: Pumpkin, Cinnamon Chip & Pecan Granola Bars
Five years ago: Potato Rosemary Bread
Six years ago: Wendy’s Copycat Chili
Seven years ago: Soft Pretzels: Part II

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes

The absolute easiest way to make ribs!


3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 pounds baby back ribs, back membrane removed, cut into sections to fit the slow cooker
2 large yellow onions, sliced
1 cup water
1 (40-ounce) bottle barbecue sauce (your favorite)


1. In a small bowl, whisk together the paprika, brown sugar, salt, black pepper and cayenne. Rub the spice blend evenly over both sides of the ribs.

2. Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place a layer of sliced onions on the bottom. Alternate layers of ribs and onions. Pour the water over the top of the ribs. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours; the meat should be extremely tender and falling off the bone.

3. Using tongs, remove the ribs to a large plate. Pour off all accumulated liquid and the onions. Return the ribs to the empty slow cooker and pour the barbecue sauce over top, turning the ribs so they are evenly coated. Cover and cook on low for an additional 1 hour. Cut and serve!

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The Weekend Dish: 10/18/2014 Sat, 18 Oct 2014 04:01:08 +0000

Happy Saturday to you!

I hope your weekend is off to a fabulous start. We are having lunch with my grandparents today, and aside from that I’m looking forward to laying low, relaxing, and maybe putzing around in the kitchen a little bit. Do you have any cooking or baking plans in the works?

As always, you’ll find a recap of what was posted to the site this week as well as some bookmarked recipes from other blogs. Enjoy!

On Brown Eyed Baker This Week

My Favorite Meatloaf Recipe – I finally found a meatloaf recipe that is reminiscent of cozy weeknight dinners at my grandma’s house.


Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins with Pecan Streusel – I revived this recipe from the archives with a few tweaks and some new photos… they’re my favorite fall breakfast treat!


Strawberry Pretzel Salad Milkshake – A milkshake inspired by one of my most favorite summertime desserts… this is the quintessential sweet and salty treat!


Chocolate-Dipped Banana Bread Biscotti – A recipe from Joy the Baker’s new cookbook, and it’s phenomenal!


Friday Things – Duke is growing up, some pregnancy updates, slow cooker recipes, and more…


What I Bookmarked This Week

Recipes and posts from other blogs that I thought looked especially delicious and that I thought you would like, too:

Apple Pie Bars (Tide and Thyme)
Little portable pieces of apple pie? Yes, please!

Caramel Apple Blondies (Buns In My Oven)
I can’t get enough of the caramel and apple combination in the fall, and I’m excited to try a new blondie base recipe.

Chorizo and Black Bean Queso (Confections of a Foodie Bride)
I will never, ever turn down queso, and this version sounds utterly fantastic.

Cinnamon Roll Apple Danish (Oh Sweet Basil)
I haven’t had a fabulous Danish in a long, long time. I need to make these!

Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Double Smoked Bacon (Closet Cooking)
This sounds like an absolutely amazing option for a Thanksgiving side dish!

Have a delicious weekend!

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Friday Things Fri, 17 Oct 2014 04:01:53 +0000 IMG_2716-600

1. These two have been total cuddle bugs for the last couple of days. Duke has started to lose his manic puppy energy and is settling in as a super sweet, awesome dog. At the same time, Einstein has been feeling a little more feisty since losing some weight, so they’ve been getting along really well.

2. In more Duke news, last we started giving him some freedom outside of his crate when we leave the house. We did it the first time during a quick 45-minute errand and he did great, so we kept with it. We’ve left him four or five times since and we haven’t had any issues – no accidents, nothing chewed, a perfectly-behaved pup! I’m so proud of him :) I’ll admit that I was totally nervous the first time, just as I was when I started easing Einstein out of crate long ago, but I feel better knowing he’s not stuck in there if we’re gone for a long time. He’s still sleeping in there at night, and while we have tried twice to get him to sleep in our room (Einstein sleeps in there on his own dog bed), he just paces and whines and wants to go back down to his crate. Baby steps!

3. I’ve been working on trying new slow cooker recipes recently since they’re easy and usually result in a hearty comfort food-type meal. Yesterday, I tried making ribs, which I haven’t made in the slow cooker before, so I held my breath. They were AMAZING! I’ll be sharing the recipe next week, so stay tuned! In the meantime, do you have any tried and true favorite slow cooker meals? If so, feel free to share them below! I have a feeling I’ll be using it a lot more in the coming months.

4. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely adore Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps. I usually buy a big bag from Costco and have them as a snack, as well as use them for dipping – hummus, guacamole, random dips – they’re fabulous for this purpose! This week, I saw Carrian tweet about new holiday flavors and I almost fell off my chair. Peppermint bark-flavored pretzel crisps?! I will eat the entire bag in one setting, I guarantee it.

5. I’m now almost through my 27th week, which means that I’ll officially be into my third trimester on Monday. I can’t believe it! Time is FLYING, and I have a feeling that these last few months are going to go even quicker, with a baby shower, holidays, and getting everything ready for the baby. I feel like I have grown a ton almost overnight this week… I took this picture last Saturday. Whoa belly! At least I can still see my feet (I swear there are actual legs in those boots!) ;-)


The little guy has been moving around like crazy lately… when I first felt him moving, it was only very low in my abdomen. Now, he’s all over the place – low, right in the middle of my belly, my sides, my ribs… I think he’s trying to bust out! Wednesday and yesterday were pretty much the most uncomfortable I’ve felt so far during this pregnancy. On top of the growing my belly has been doing, I haven’t slept all that well, and I’ve been having some bouts of “round ligament pain”. So, I’ve prescribed myself lots of couch time these last couple of days!

6. I got to see my mom for a little girls’ lunch on Saturday… she was diagnosed with shingles a little over a month ago, and both her doctor and mine advised us not to be around each other for an entire month to be on the safe side. I was able to go to her 60th birthday dinner two weeks ago, but we had to sit on opposite ends of the room and I couldn’t have any contact with her. The quarantine is finally over!

7. I’ve been starting to poke around for ideas on what to wear to my baby shower in the middle of November. If you had one during the winter months, what did you wear? I’m thinking a comfortable dress with maybe tights and boots and some pretty accessories? I’m fashion-challenged, so absolutely share your ideas! Also, feel free to share any stores (online or brick and mortar) that might have some good options for a dressier occasion (I’ve been living in tshirts and comfy clothes from Old Navy and Target!).

8. Dara from Cookin’ Canuck wrote an amazing post this week on how to write a business plan for your blog. While it’s geared toward blogging, I think you could absolutely tweak it and use it for any small business venture you might be working on… such a great resource!

9. Thanks for all of the recommendations on cases for my new iPhone! I decided to go with a Zagg Glass screen protector and a Spigen Neo Hybrid case. I got the screen protector already – it was incredibly easy to install and looks great. The case was back-ordered and should arrive early next week. Hopefully I can keep my phone in one piece until then :)

10. TGIF! These guys hope you have an awesome weekend!


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Chocolate-Dipped Banana Bread Biscotti Thu, 16 Oct 2014 04:01:55 +0000 Chocolate-Dipped Banana Bread Biscotti | #recipe

The food blogging landscape has grown by leaps and bounds since I started writing in this little space in 2007, but back in those early couple of years, there were only a handful or so of food blogs, and everyone “knew” everyone. I was a fan of Joy the Baker from the start – everything she made looked like something I would want to devour and I loved her carefree style. I bookmarked nearly every single recipe in her first cookbook, so I was thrilled when she sent me an advance copy of her newest one, Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence.

As I flipped through the new book flagging recipes, I knew immediately which one I wanted to try first. These banana bread biscotti jumped off the page at me because they reminded me so much of my grandma. They are a mash-up of two of my favorite recipes of hers – banana bread and biscotti. It took less than a day for me to start mashing a banana and get these into the oven!

Chocolate-Dipped Banana Bread Biscotti | #recipe

These biscotti are absolutely fabulous – the banana flavor shines through; that, combined with the cinnamon and dark chocolate dip, is phenomenal. The combination is simply amazing! The only adaptation I might make is to include some chopped walnuts, since my grandma always included those in both her banana bread and biscotti, but that’s simply nostalgia talking. These are perfect as-is, and you can make them as soft or as crunchy as you’d like.

If you love cozy, warm and comforting baked goods (and a healthy dose of chocolate!), then these biscotti deserve a spot in the cookie jar on your kitchen counter.

Chocolate-Dipped Banana Bread Biscotti | #recipe

One year ago: Skillet Cornbread
Two years ago: A Chocolate Chip Cookie Throwdown and Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake Dip
Three years ago: Pumpkin Soup with Apple & Spices
Five years ago: BBQ Chicken Pizza
Six years ago: French Toast
Seven years ago: Brown Sugar Raisin Bread

Chocolate-Dipped Banana Bread Biscotti

Yield: About 24 biscotti

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Banana-infused biscotti dipped in dark chocolate.


For the Biscotti:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 medium overripe banana, mashed well (about ½ cup)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Egg Wash & Topping:
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Chocolate Coating:
8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped


1. Make the Biscotti: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the banana and the egg until completely combined, then beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Give it a final stir by hand using a rubber spatula.

4. Divide the dough in two and place into rough 9-inch by 1½-inch logs on the prepared baking sheet (the dough will be soft and shaggy looking, but that's okay).

5. Prepare the Egg Wash and Topping: In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water, then brush over both logs. (This will help to smooth out the surface of the dough.). In another small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over both of the logs.

6. Bake the Biscotti: Bake the biscotti for 40 to 45 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven, but keep the oven on if you plan to twice-bake the biscotti.

7. Allow the biscotti the cool until you're able to handle them. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into ½-inch-wide diagonal slices.

For Soft Biscotti: Place the sliced biscotti on a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

For Slightly Firm Biscotti: Place the sliced biscotti cut-side-up on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

For Crisp Biscotti: Place the sliced biscotti cut-side-up on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for an additional 12 to 15 minutes, flipping them over halfway through baking.

Allow the biscotti to cool completely.

8. Dip the Biscotti: In a heatproof bowl set over a small saucepan of barely simmering water (or in the microwave on 50% power), melt the chocolate until completely smooth. Dip about one-third of the biscotti into the melted chocolate, allow excess to drip off, and return to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Allow to set completely, at least 30 minutes (you can put the pan in the refrigerator to speed up the process). The biscotti can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

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Strawberry Pretzel Salad Milkshake Wed, 15 Oct 2014 04:01:26 +0000 Strawberry Pretzel Salad Milkshake

One of my favorite desserts of all time is one that has shown up at almost every single warm-weather family function on my dad’s side of the family since I can remember – Strawberry Pretzel Salad. It sounds like one of the weirdest things on Earth, but the combination of a pretzel crust, cream cheese and Cool Whip filling, and a strawberry Jello top makes it totally irresistible. I still can’t help eating half of the pan myself whenever I make it; it’s one of the few desserts that I will intentionally hoard.

A couple of weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins released a list of some of the new food offerings at the arena for the upcoming season. Being obsessed with all things hockey and food, I immediately checked it out. Along with some new food was also a new milkshake by one of my favorite burger places that has a location at the arena – a strawberry pretzel shake. SOLD.

While I went to the home opener last Thursday evening, I wasn’t sitting anywhere near the burger and shake stand, so I decided to make one at home using the idea as inspiration.

I blended together vanilla ice cream with some milk, cream cheese, frozen strawberries and pretzel pieces to capture the totally nostalgic flavor of strawberry pretzel salad. I loved how it turned out and now I want to make a big pan of the real thing and share it with absolutely no one.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad Milkshake

One year ago: Snickerdoodle Biscotti
Two years ago: The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
Six years ago: Challah Bread

Strawberry Pretzel Salad Milkshake

Yield: 2 large milkshakes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

A milkshake with all of the flavors of the nostalgic Strawberry Pretzel Salad dessert.


2 cups vanilla ice cream
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1½ cups milk
1 cup (about 5 ounces) frozen strawberries
1½ cups broken pretzel pieces
Whipped cream, to top


1. Place the ice cream, cream cheese, milk, strawberries and pretzels into a blender. Puree on medium speed until smooth. (If you prefer a thinner milkshake, you can add more milk.)

2. Pour into glasses and top with whipped cream. Enjoy!

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Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins with Pecan Streusel Tue, 14 Oct 2014 04:01:13 +0000 Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Pecan Streusel | #recipe

[This recipe was originally posted in October 2010, but I have given it a couple of small tweaks, as well as taken some new photos. This fabulous muffin recipe definitely deserved to be resurrected from the archives.]

Few things go together as well as pumpkin and cream cheese. Sure there’s peanut butter and jelly, as well as peanut butter and chocolate, but warm and spicy pumpkin baked goods paired with sweet cream cheese is a match made in fall-baking heaven. Add to these muffins a pecan streusel topping and you will be hard pressed to find a better breakfast treat once the weather starts to cool down. These pumpkin-cream cheese muffins have become one of my very favorite fall breakfast items; they taste like part muffin, part cupcake, part coffee cake… all wonderful things in my book!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Pecan Streusel | #recipe

These muffins use a neat little trick to make sure that there is a nice little pocket of cream cheese in the middle and that it doesn’t float or spread out inside the muffins. The cream cheese filling mixture is prepared, shaped into a log and frozen for a couple of hours. When you’re ready to make the muffins, you put a little bit of batter in the muffin cups, then cut the log into even pieces and add a piece of frozen cream cheese filling, then add the remainder of the batter to the muffin cups.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Pecan Streusel | #recipe

These muffins, as far as I’m concerned, are truly perfect. The muffin itself is moist and tender – not too airy, not too dense or dry. The cream cheese filling is as perfect a complement as I could imagine, and the pecan streusel on top is the icing on the cake. The pecans add some crunch and the streusel delivers those amazing crumbs synonymous with muffin tops and crumb cake that I can never get enough of.

I can’t think of a more amazing fall and winter breakfast treat than these muffins. They’re indulgent, cozy, and utterly delicious.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Pecan Streusel | #recipe

One year ago: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, Three Ways
Two years ago: Cook’s Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three years ago: Beer and Brown Sugar Kielbasa & Sauerkraut
Four years ago: Pumpkin Pie Bars
Five years ago: Black Bean Mushroom Burgers
Six years ago: Apple Hand Pies

Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins with Pecan Streusel

Yield: 12 muffins

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

Fluffy spiced pumpkin muffins are filled with a cream cheese center and topped with pecan streusel.


For the Cream Cheese Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Streusel:
½ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup pecans, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Muffins:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
½ cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Make the Cream Cheese Filling In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla, and stir to combine. Form the mixture into a 12-inch log on a piece of plastic wrap, wrap it in the plastic wrap and then again in foil, and freeze for at least two hours, or until firm.

2. Make the Streusel: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Stir in the pecans, then use a fork to mix in the melted butter, ensuring that all of the ingredients are moistened. Refrigerate while you prepare the muffins.

3. Make the Muffins: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.

4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, allspice, baking soda and salt.

5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract.

6. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the dry ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to gently combine the batter, mixing just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

7. Remove the cream cheese from the freezer, and divide it into 12 1-inch slices.

8. Scoop 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter into the muffin cups. Place 1 slice of the cream cheese log in the center of each cup, then divide the remaining batter evenly between the muffin cups, ensuring that the cream cheese is completely covered.

9. Sprinkle the pecan streusel on top of each muffin. Press on the streusel lightly to make sure it adheres to the batter.

10. Bake until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, and then remove muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Let them come to room temperature before serving, or warm briefly in the microwave to take the chill off. The muffins can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 months.

(Recipe adapted from Ezra Pound Cake)

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My Favorite Meatloaf Recipe Mon, 13 Oct 2014 04:01:50 +0000 My Favorite Meatloaf Recipe | #recipe

I’ve talked a lot about Sunday dinners at my grandma’s house, where there was always an abundance of pasta and traditional Italian foods. However, we would often eat dinner at grandma’s at random times throughout the week. If she knew my parents were particularly busy, or happened to be making something she knew we’d like, she would call and tell us to come over. One of my favorite non-Italian meals that she made was meatloaf with mashed potatoes. It’s such a comfort food, and it reminds me of walking into her house on chilly fall and winter evenings, when it was already dark at dinnertime.

Not long after my Chief Culinary Consultant and I began dating, I found out that meatloaf was one of his favorite meals. It took me awhile, but I finally found a meatloaf recipe that we both love and that’s incredibly easy to make.

My Favorite Meatloaf Recipe | #recipe

I love that this recipe uses a mixture of ground beef, pork and veal, which keeps the meatloaf from tasting like a giant hamburger; it also keeps the final texture nice and moist, and not at all crumbly. There are quite a few notes on possible ingredients and pan substitutions in the recipe below, so be sure to check them out. The ability to play around with the ingredients makes this a very forgiving and adaptable recipe.

Without exception, I serve meatloaf with my favorite mashed potatoes; you can’t have meatloaf without the mashed potatoes as far as I’m concerned!

This meatloaf is husband-approved and making it always reminds me of cozy dinners at my grandma’s house, so it’s a definite win-win for me.

My Favorite Meatloaf Recipe | #recipe

One year ago: Salted Caramel Rice Krispie Treats with Dark Chocolate
Two years ago: Alton Brown’s “The Chewy” Chocolate Chip Cookies
Three years ago: Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats
Four years ago: Cheese, Olive and Ham Bread
Five years ago: Lemon Burst Cookies

My Favorite Meatloaf Recipe

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

After years of experimenting with various meatloaf recipes, I've finally found my favorite!


For the Glaze:
½ cup ketchup
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 teaspoons cider vinegar

For the Meatloaf:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup whole milk
1 pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
½ pound ground veal
16 saltine crackers, crushed
⅓ cup minced fresh parsley


1. Make the Glaze: In a small saucepan, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar; set aside.

2. Make the Glaze: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while preparing the remaining ingredients.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne and milk. Add the ground meats, crackers, parsley and cooked onion mixture; mix with a fork until evenly blended.

4. With wet hands, pat the mixture into a 9-by-5-inch loaf shape. Place on a foil-lined rimmed baking pan (you could also use a 9x5-inch loaf pan with a perforated bottom). Brush with half of the glaze.

5. Bake loaf until it is cooked through (it should register 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer), about 1 hour. Cool at least 20 minutes. Simmer the remaining glaze over medium heat until thickened slightly. Slice the meatloaf and serve with extra glaze.

Note #1: The whole milk can be replaced by ½ cup plain yogurt.

Note #2: The crushed saltines can be replaced by ⅔ cup quick oats or 1⅓ cups fresh bread crumbs.

(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

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