posted by on baking, grandma, Holidays


This was my second Thanksgiving in Phoenix, Arizona. Luckily, as I mention a lot, my Grandmother lives close and for that I am thankful!

She decided she’d be prepping a whole turkey this year and insisted on having a cherry pie from Village Inn (she loves their pies) but I told her I refused to go without some kind of dessert with pumpkin in it. We decided we’d just have to have both!

I wanted to find a different recipe this year from the normal pumpkin pie (the first time I had made a pumpkin pie from scratch was last Thanksgiving if you can believe that!). I stumbled upon this recipe from Martha Stewart and normally her recipes are a little too bougie for my tastes but I couldn’t help myself this time.

Soft, cake-like pumpkin spice cookies frosted with a brown butter icing. They were a hit! (For the record, the cherry pie a la mode was equally awesome…)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 ¾ cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¾ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 ¼ cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (14 oz.)
  • ¾ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For The Icing

  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) butter
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl & set aside.
  2. Put butter & brown sugar in a bowl & mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
  3. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low & add pumpkin, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Mix until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; mix until combined.
  4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. (easier filling if you place the bag in a tall glass as shown in my picture above – if you don’t have a pastry bag, just use a baggie and cut off one of the corners, it will work just as well).
  5. Pipe rounds onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart (I did a spiral about 3 times around as shown in above photo).
  6. Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 6 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheet and bake for another 5-6 minutes until the top of the cookie is spring-like.
  7. Leave the cookies on the baking sheets & cool on wire racks 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer cookies to wire racks & let cool completely.

Make icing:

  1. Put sifted powdered sugar in a bowl & set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add butter to powdered sugar, scraping any browned bits from sides and bottom of pan. Add evaporated milk & vanilla and stir until smooth.
  4. Spread about 1 teaspoon icing onto each cookie using the back of a spoon & let the icing dry a bit.

**These cookies are very soft and will not store well stacked so I recommend freezing/refrigerating or placing wax paper in between to prevent the icing from sticking.**

1. So glad our dear friend Kailey got to spend Thanksgiving with us this year!  2. My cousin Heath, Grandma & me 3.  the whole gang! (so fun to see my cousins Frankie & Weston that I hadn’t seen in 20 some years and Grandma’s sister and brother-in-law)

posted by on baking, portions

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I pinned this recipe to my food board on Pinterest this weekend. For the first time, I actually got up and started putting this recipe together shortly after I had saved it from Pinterest. It’s a little bit more work, but it’s the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I have tried.

The brown butter, sea salt & good quality dark chocolate are what make these cookies a few steps above the norm. I only had a ¼ cup of dark chocolate chips left so I halved her original recipe and then halved the dough, freezing it for later.

The brown butter part is important. The original post has perfect how-to pictures. I have the worst patience when it comes to browning butter for baking, but trust me. It’s worth it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • ½ cup + 1/8 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup white sugar (I just estimated this using my ¼ cup)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup + ¾ cup filled a little more than half way
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • Good quality dark chocolate chips
  1. Place the stick of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. I use a lid, but that’s up to you if you want to cover it or not. Slowly start to melt the butter and let it come to a boil. You are looking for a nice golden brown color and brown bits to form around the edge and at the bottom of the pan.
  2. Once it turns brown, pour the butter into a dish so it stops cooking and can cool for about 5 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, place both the brown and white sugars.
  4. Add the brown butter and mix until well combined.
  5. Add the egg & vanilla. Mix well.
  6. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda & sea salt together with a whisk.
  7. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix well.
  8. At this point, I halved the dough (since I only had a ¼ cup of chips) placing the rest in a freezer bag with baking instructions written on the outside.
  9. Add the chocolate chips to the dough and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon.
  10. Scoop out onto a parchment lined baking sheet, sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes. Check the cookies around 8 minutes, I flattened the cookies out a bit with a fork and let them bake for the last minute.

Makes about 8 cookies (this whole recipe will make 1.5 dozen approx.)

posted by on cooking for 2, healthy, portions, quick, vegetable

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I won’t say much about this recipe other than my version has a more complex flavor than the normal ground beef and cheddar cheese version that we’re all used to. Also, since I’m pre cooking all the ingredients, it spends less time in the oven, leaving the pepper tender yet crisp. Use what you have in the fridge and your cupboards, as this is a very versatile recipe to keep. If you’re vegetarian, skip the ground turkey.

Makes 3 peppers
What you’ll need

  • 3 bell peppers
  • 1 cup instant rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 can of diced tomatoes (no added salt)
  • 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and slightly drained
  • 1/2 lb. ground turkey
  • crushed and finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • dried parsley
  • dried basil
  • parmesan cheese
  • mozzarella cheese
  • sea salt & pepper
  1. Clean and cut the tops of the peppers off. Using a paring knife, carefully remove the seeds and membrane from inside. Rinse again, sprinkle lightly with sea salt and pepper, place in a glass baking dish and set aside.
  2. Cook the cup of rice according to package and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, cook the onions and turkey until the onions are soft and the turkey is cooked through.
  4. Add thawed spinach, tomatoes, garlic & seasonings. Mix well.
  5. Add the cooked rice and freshly shredded parm. Mix well.
  6. Stuff the peppers as full as you can. You should have enough mix for 3 medium-large sized peppers.
  7. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake in a 375 degree oven just until the cheese has melted (10-15 minutes).

posted by on baking, guilty pleasure

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Giant, chewy chocolate chip cookies with a slight crunch on the outer edges. I’m all about put together now, bake later. Scoop out the dough into ¼ cup portions, freeze and package in a freezer baggie so you can bake a cookie whenever you’re craving one!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2¼ cups flour (minus a few tablespoons)
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 12 tbsp. butter, softened (or 1.5 sticks)
  • ½ cup + 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup + 1/8 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ package of dark chocolate chips
  1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl and set to the side.
  2. Mix together the butter, sugar, brown sugar in a bowl until it’s creamy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla (maybe a tsp. extra) and keep mixing until it’s well blended.
  4. With a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture a little bit at a time until well combined.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. In ¼ cup measurements, slightly flatten the dough out to form a flat circular shape.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. You only want the edges to be golden brown and then let them finish by leaving them on the baking sheet to cool.
  8. I usually bake 6 at a time to give them room to spread a bit and then freeze the remainder of the balls for baking later.


posted by on Drinks


Blame it all on Cup Cafe! Until this weekend I had never attempted (or wanted to for that matter) to make a bloody mary. I take one trip to Tucson and Cup Cafe and I’m craving a bloody mary all the time now. I decided to skip the mixes and make my own.

It’s getting better every time I make one and I tend to go on the less on the spicy and more on the tomato but obviously adjust the seasonings to your liking. You won’t be disappointed. Make sure you use lots of ice too people – it slows down the chemical reaction the tomato juice has with the other ingredients. (SCIENCE!)

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Vodka
  • Tomato Juice
  • Lemon
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Sea Salt
  • Celery Salt
  • Dill Weed
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Celery
  1. Add ice to fill a cocktail shaker.
  2. Pour 2 shots of vodka (2 oz.) and tomato juice (4-6 oz. depending on how much you love tomato juice) into a cocktail shaker.
  3. Add a few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce, fresh squeezed lemon, dash of sea salt, few dashes of celery salt, dill weed, one or two dashes of cayenne (remember I like it on the less spicy side).
  4. Shake well and pour into a glass full of ice. Garnish with olives, celery, pickles… whatever. I like to keep it simple.


posted by on cooking for 2, healthy, portions, quick

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Life is finally starting to mellow out a bit now that I’m getting a little more settled in my new job and the weather is finally turning from the crazy desert heat. Perfect timing to get back on track with my cooking and getting back to going mainly vegetarian.

A much needed trip to the grocery store and I was set. This one is a new favorite from “Healthy Cooking For Two (Or Just You)” by Frances Price, RD from Rodale (I couldn’t find this recipe book on their website – it was published in 1995 but you can find it on Amazon to purchase).

Fettuccine with Spinach & Feta – serves 2
What you’ll need: 

  • 8 cups spinach leaves, loosely packed  (I’d recommend thawing out chopped frozen spinach instead)
  • 1 green onion
  • 2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. dried dill weed
  • Pepper to taste
  • 4 oz. fettuccine
  1. Feta, olive oil, green onion, lemon juice, dill weed & pepper mix

    If you’re using fresh spinach, remove stems, rinse well, roughly chop & set aside.

  2. Thinly slice the green onion and place in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Add the feta, oil, lemon juice, dill & pepper.
  4. Cook the fettuccine according to the directions. *don’t need any salt with the feta cheese*
  5. For the last 30 seconds of cooking, stir in the spinach and push under the water to wilt it.
  6. Drain the pasta and spinach and add to the bowl with the cheese and oil. Mix well and serve!

per serving: 449 calories, 18.7 g. protein, 49.8 g. carbs, 3.1 g. dietary fiber

posted by on baking, cooking, Nebraska

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Nebraska Sunset

Going to grandma and grandpa’s meant having access to wide open land, horses, tractors, grandpa’s collection of classic cars, and a television with an antenna fully loaded with a few local Nebraska TV stations.

Luckily I had my two sisters and plenty of cousins and family to keep me busy when we were around, but when it was time to come inside we would turn on that little television, nine times out of 10 landing on PBS for lack of a better choice (I was too young for Jeopardy at the time).

My sister, cousins and Grandpa – Thanksgiving 1989

PBS was the mainstay and I was quickly hooked on the likes of Bob Ross (art nerd, remember?) and anything that had to do with cooking or “how to.” Of course if you really wanted to dig back we could talk about Ghostwriter, Reading Rainbow, Mister Rogers, Mr. Bean, Bill Nye, The Red Green Show, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego, Zoobilee Zoo… I digress.

Not much has changed for me since the 90’s in the world of TV. In the last couple of years I’ve ditched expensive cable’s thousand channels full of garbage and gone back to having just a few channels coming through my antenna (HD, mind you). The TV is seldom on but if it is and Game 3 of the NLCS is rained out for example (Go Giants!) I still land on PBS.

I still dig the shows that hit my passion of cooking and baking. Lidia’s Italy in America and America’s Test Kitchen aren’t shows that I necessarily go out of my way to watch but just as if I were a kid again, sprawled out on grandma and grandpa’s living room floor with that creepy ceramic cat staring back at me, I’m hooked when I catch them. It’s somewhat nostalgic at this point but all of this came to me today after I finished reading an article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about Christopher Kimball. It’s a longer read but a must in my opinion.

“Cooking is about putting food on the table night after night, and there isn’t anything glamorous about it.” -Christopher Kimball 

Who doesn’t want to read about a man and his success after a quote like that?

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