With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pine Nut Tart

Stop.  Take a step back.  Breathe.  Re-focus.

Today was the first time in a long time I had a chance to do just that.

Mary Quite Contrary Bakes is, at its core, meant to be joyful.  A place for me as well as you to come and have a moment of fun.

However as of lately, with all the tragedy and mourning the country has been in over the shootings in Connecticut, it seems more than ever a place to come, pause, and reflect.

And remember what is really important.

Because as much as I love baking at its heart, it'd be nothing without the people I share it with.  And that includes you.

Every once in awhile a flavor or ingredient catches me off guard, and it's a surprise when I fall head over heels for it.

Pine nuts definitely qualify.

They're rich, buttery, and when mixed with a sweet and custard like caramelized honey filling on top of an italian cookie crust, they go to the next level.

It may seem daunting at first glance, but truly it's not.

This was our Thanksgiving treat this year and in addition to being a nice change, it was also to die for.  And maybe I enjoyed a slice every single day after Thanksgiving until absolutely none was left.

And maybe it's making an appearance on my Christmas table this year around as well.

A fun twist and something different, for whatever holiday you celebrate this season.

Pine Nut Tart
Servings: 1-10 inch tart


For the Crust:
-1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/3 cups all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 10 Tbsp unsalted butter (cold, cut into pieces)

For the Filling:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
- 12 Tbsp unsalted butter (cut into pieces)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 6 oz (1 1/2 cups) pine nuts

Make crust. (Make crust at least 1 hr before baking tart.  Note: this recipe yields two crusts.)  Whisk together cream, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla in a bowl.  Pulse flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a food processor.  Add butter and pulse until mixture is course.  Add in cream and pulse until dough comes together.  Split dough in half pat into two disks.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  On a lightly floured surface roll out 1 disk of dough into a 14-inch round.  Reserve second disk for another use.  Fit dough to a fluted 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, removing any excess and patching any tears.  Freeze tart dough while making filling.

Make filling.  In a saucepan bring sugar, honey, and salt to a boil. whisking until sugar dissolves  Add butter and whisk until incorporated.  Transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool for 30 minutes.  Whisk in cream, egg, and egg yolk until combined.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place tart on a parchment lined baking sheet (to catch any overflow) and scatter pine nuts in the bottom of the tart.  Slowly pour filling over nuts.  Bake until golden brown and center is set but slightly wobbly, approximately 1 hour.  (If it looks burnt - don't fret, it won't taste it!)  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gingerbread Muffins

I've talked before on occasion about how sometimes when I bake something, snapping a perfect picture of it isn't the highest on my chain of priorities.

Often times it's about sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying without worrying about the perfect shot.

Especially around now, when things seem to get a little bit overloaded with the holidays getting more into swing.

With photo sharing websites such as Instagram and the high quality aspect of the IPhone 5 camera this is hardly an excuse anymore, and often times I still find myself shooting off a quick picture regardless and sending them out through venues such as these.

But then it dawned on me.

If there is any time to sit back and relax and share without worry of perfection, it's these same holidays.

And all of you who don't see my Instagram pictures of treats would definitely enjoy these as well.

On a morning with minimal time and minimal supplies, I vowed to whip up the first muffins I had all the ingredients on hand for.  And that just so happen to be gingerbread.

Perfect timing they say.

Spicy and subtly sweet, easy to dress up with jam or butter or great left all on their own - an easy treat that makes even the hurried holiday morning that much more special.

And with a view into my completely un-styled holiday kitchen: recipe booklets, pretzel jars, random teaspoon measures, half-used molasses jars and all, they're ready to be enjoyed immediately.

And truthfully, sometimes that's just what I need.

Gingerbread Muffins
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Servings: 12

- 2 cups flour
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a standard muffin/cupcake tin with paper or foil liners.  Set aside two separate medium sized bowls.  In one bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, ginger, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to combine.  In the other bowl combine melted butter, sugar, molasses, milk, and eggs.  Whisk.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredient bowl and fold in until no streaks of flour remain.  Divide between muffin cups and bake 19-22 minutes (or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean).  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from:  Food Network

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pumpkin Cranberry Cupkins

I thought long and hard about what to name these little guys.

For all intensive purposes, they look like muffins.

And more than a few people would be completely happy with just calling them that... and then calling it a day.

But when we take a step back and realize one of the main (and very few) ingredients in them is cake mix.... muffins just wasn't going to fly.

Cupcakes was definitely out.  They're not iced, there is fruit in them, and they were gladly eaten for breakfast.  Not that I would tell you there was anything wrong with finding reason to have a cupcake for breakfast either.

Which lead me to come up with some pretty awful alternatives, the least of which being Cupkins.

A part of me loves it and a part of me hates it.

But 100% of me adores these, regardless of what you call them.

They are absolute breeze to whip up and with a few simple ingredients and no added fat outside of dry cake mix, we can definitely call them healthy.

If you're still looking for a simple breakfast after the madness that was Thanksgiving cooking, consider these.  Because really less time in the kitchen means more time with the people that matter, and it doesn't get much better than that.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving I hope your holiday was relaxing, special, and most of all filled with great food and people.  Now bring on the holidays!  Cheers!

Pumpkin Cranberry Cupkins
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: 8-10 Cupkins

- 1/2 box Vanilla or Yellow Cake mix
- 7.5 oz pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 egg white, beaten until frothy
- 1/2-3/4 cup fresh cranberries
- 2-3 Tbsp water (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a muffin tin with baking spray (or line with paper cups).  Stir together cake mix and pumpkin in a medium bowl.  Add the water to loosen things up a bit if you'd like.  Gently stir egg whites and cranberries into the mixture.  Spoon into prepared muffin tin.  Bake for 22-25 minutes or until centers spring back when lightly touched.  Cool and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: Bake at 350

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Toasted Coconut Marshmallows

As most of you probably already know, those here on the east coast got hit pretty badly from Hurricane Sandy.

For all intensive purposes my area got off easy, but watching our beloved Jersey Shore get destroyed and hearing about the trouble New Jersey and New York are still in with power outages was and is still horrible.  Our thoughts go out to them completely.

In preparing for what people around here were calling Frankenstorm and The Storm of the Century, I figured I would get use out of my oven before we inevitably lost power, and whipped up my first batch of marshmallows ever.

These were so much easier than I anticipated and got better and better every day they sat.  So by the 4th day of being stuck inside due to weather.... when everyone was eating easily four of these a day..... I think we knew we had a winner.

Dropped in a hot chocolate to give it a twist or enjoyed on their own, these are too simple and enjoyable to pass up.

My only regret is that I didn't get to make a toasted coconut s'more out of these.  I have a feeling though they'll be making another appearance soon.  


Toasted Coconut Marshmallows
Servings: One 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan


- 2 cups unsweetened natural dried coconut
- 3/4 oz unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup water (divided)
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (all I could find in my area was imitation and it worked great)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Toast the coconut on a parchment lines baking sheet until golden, stirring frequently, 7-10 minutes.  Oil a 9 or 8 inch square baking pan and sprinkle the bottom with 1/2 cup of the toasted coconut.

In the bowl of an electric mixer sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup water and let soften while making syrup.

In a small heavy saucepan heat sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup water over low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.  Bring to a boil over medium heat without stirring (wash down any crystals built up on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water).  Place thermometer in pan and continue boiling until soft ball stage (240 degrees F) has been reached.  Remove from heat and let stand until bubbles dissipate.  

With mixer on low speed, pour hot syrup into gelatin in a thin stream down the side of the bowl.  Increase the speed to high and beat until thick (about 15 minutes).  Add in extracts and beat one minute more.  

Spoon marshmallow over coconut in pan and pressed evenly with dampened fingers to smooth top.  Sprinkle top with another 1/2 cup coconut.

Let stand at room temperature until firm, about 2 hours.

Run a sharp knife around the edges and invert onto a cutting board.  Cut 3/4 wide strips and then cut each strip into 3/4 inch squares.  Put remaining coconut in a bowl and toss marshmallows a few at a time to cover the sides.  Store in a single layer at room temperature (or layers separated by wax or parchment paper) in an airtight container.  These only get better as the sit.  Enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: Gourmet and Epicurious

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Things I'm Loving Lately: Fall 2012 Edition

Soaking up the last few perfectly warm days with BYOB and artisan pizza.

Views from my own window that will never ever get old.

Living in my own fall wonderland that is Northeast USA at this time of the year (at least until hurricane Sandy decided to have her way).

Birthday celebrations.

Probably one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken.  

Nerdy science jokes.


The ugliest/most amazing fall dessert I've yet to find.

City brunches..... with biscuits the size of my head.

Re-imagined 10th grade dresses, and liking them just as much in a new way.

Remembering the days when Sadie looked like this.

Yet loving this just as much, if not more.

And this.
Most definitely this.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Avocado Brownies

When in need of a change, there are a few typical routes someone can go about.

A new haircut. 
A furniture rearrange.
A spontaneous trip.

Lately I've been craving something new, something exciting, a change of pace.  And since a spontaneous adventure is out of the question at the moment, a furniture rearrange seems like too much work with too little to go on, and a new haircut just won't fit the bill, I needed to find another way.

Then I stumbled on these.

Avocados and chocolate.  Chocolate and avocados.  Think I've lost it on this one?  You might just be surprised.

I know I was.  Coming from an self-proclaimed "I'll take a cookie over a brownie any day of the week" person, I couldn't get enough of these.  The chocolate completely masks the avocado flavor and all you're left with is a rich and dense brownie that seems to stay that way for days (if they last that long).

And throwing avocados into them instead of butter was just enough of a kick for me to change up my pace, at least for the day.

On a completely unrelated note, this photo reminds me of growing up SO much.  If the words slimed, gak, floam, and this theme song don't mean anything to you.... you may have just missed out.

But back in the present day, you could definitely ice these brownies.  I chose to leave them just as is though... and maybe was content with eating one with some ice cream.... for breakfast one weekend no less.


I never claimed to be a breakfast role model.

But I think you'll love these just the same.

Give 'em a try!

Avocado Brownies
Servings: 9 extra large or 16 medium brownies

- 2 large ripe avocados, mashed (about a cup)
- 8 oz dark chocolate, melted (I used 4 oz bittersweet/ 4 oz semisweet but try your own combo!)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 oz dark chocolate, chopped (again I used 2 oz bittersweet/ 2 oz semisweet)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray an 8x8 or 9x9 inch square pan with baking spray.  In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  In a separate bowl store together the mashed avocado and melted chocolate.  Stir in the sugar until well combined.  Stir in the eggs and vanilla extract and oil until well combined and smooth.  Stir in the flour mixture until just combined and no streaks remain.  Don't over mix this part.  Lastly fold in the chopped chocolate until distributed.  Spread batter in prepared pan and smooth top.  Bake for 28-32 minutes (checking at beginning of time) until middle is set and cake tester comes out with only a few crumbs.  Let cool completely.  Cut, serve, and decide whether or not you'll tell people what makes them so special.  Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: How Sweet Eats

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Time to Celebrate

It's hard to believe it's that time of year again.  

Yesterday, the 18th, was my birthday.

My 23rd birthday.

Truth be told I feel a lot of things about it.  I feel incredibly old.  I feel incredibly young.  Most of all I feel incredibly fortunate.  I loved 22 and I'm hoping that 23 will be just as great.

Somehow though, I think it will. I'm hoping that if I can continue to think big while also relishing in the  little things (even a part of the time), then I'm well on my way.

So grab a fork and a virtual slice of birthday cake and help me celebrate.  

You only turn 23 once and I love that you're here to share it with me.

I'll be back with a killer recipe next week, but for now...


Love, Mary

Monday, October 8, 2012

Two Ingredient Strawberry Fudge

When I first started baking, and I mean FIRST started baking, I would choose any recipe regardless of its level of difficulty.  I had no reference of experience to base what I could or couldn't do and even with the most complex recipes, I figured "Hey if I screw up, I'm new at this. No big deal."

Sure, I did have my fair share of screw ups in those days, but for the most part, things went well (a big part of why I'm still here enjoying this now).  The first time I attempted fudge I had no idea whether it was difficult or not to make at home, tried a recipe (coincidentally had it work great), and thought fudge was easy every single time.


If you'd like to know my opinion on temperamental fudge making now, ask me about the red velvet fudge I've failed at about three times now.  One day I'll get it.  I'm determined.

When you do get fudge right though, it is one of the simplest and most enjoyable candies to make.  And you'll be hard pressed to find a more fool-proof recipe than this one.  

Sure it takes a few shortcuts to get there and some might turn their noses up at using canned frosting to make it, but I say, whether you're a beginner baker or not sometimes easy fudge you know is going to work every single time is exactly what you need.

If you've never tackled fudge before I recommend starting with something like this.  You never know what you'll end up being able to conquer from there.

Easy to share.  Easier to enjoy.

And as for life over here, if anyone knows the secret to a good red velvet fudge... you know where to find me.

Two Ingredient Strawberry Fudge
Servings: 1 9x9 inch pan

- 1 (16oz) can of strawberry frosting
- 1 (12oz) bag of white chocolate chips

Spray a 9x9 inch pan lightly with cooking spray.  Line with wax or parchment paper. (important! the fudge is a pain to get out otherwise. this makes everything much easier.)  In the microwave melt chocolate chips at 30 second intervals, and stir until smooth.  Stir in the can of frosting until combined.  Spread into prepared pan and smooth, using knife to create decorative design if desired.  Let set in refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Cut into small pieces and enjoy. (This is very sweet so keep that in mind with portion size!)

Recipe adapted from: Cookies and Cups

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Classic Shortbread

 Remember the time that I thought this fall would be an absolute breeze?

And that I'd have so much time for baking and blogging that I wouldn't even know what to do with myself?


I do.  Fondly.

Unfortunately that is 100% NOT the case.

So here we are with another easy, in your face, cookie recipe.  (Not that anyone is complaining yet.)

These cookies are not for the faint of heart.  Buttery to the point of ridiculousness, large and unapologetic, sweet, creamy and melt in your mouth wonderful.

Perfect for when time is short, things are stressed, and simple indulgence is the answer to everything.

Not that it's never not.

Triple negative?  I'll have to get back to you on that one.

But until then, enjoy.

Classic Shortbread
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: 8 large cookies

- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 sticks (16 Tbsp) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar

In a bowl whisk together flour and salt.  Put butter in a separate bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in powdered sugar gradually until mixed in thoroughly and beat until creamy.  Add flour mixture and mix on low until combined.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Using a piece of plastic wrap press dough into a 9 or 10 inch tart pan and smooth down.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Cut a 2 inch circle in the center of the dough.  Cut dough in 8 wedges out from the circle.  Using a fork, prick dough all over (in circular pattern if desired).  Bake until golden and firm (about 1 hour) and place on wire rack to cool.  Re-cut lines if need be.  Let cool completely in pan before serving.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart's Cookies

Monday, September 24, 2012

Biscoff Glazed Oatmeal Cookies

Everyone has their way of de-stressing when things get a little overwhelming.

A part of me wishes my go to de-stresser was something like taking a jog or yoga. 

But nope.  It seems my way to zone out when I can't even comprehend how many things I have to do and how many places I have to be, is to make cookies.  Lots and lots of cookies.

These particular gems came out of my most recent stress out, and let me say... I'm so glad they did.

Super soft oatmeal cookies (aided by the addition of greek yogurt) are baked until golden and then smothered by a sweet Biscoff glaze.

I mean I guess you don't have to smother the cookies with the glaze, but I think you'll be inclined to do just that.  Not only does it keep the cookies fresh for days, but it also maybe makes them a little bit addicting.

I'm talking "I just had two for breakfast and I'm debating whether or not I can rationalize having one as a mid-morning snack."

Rest assured it can be done.

But you're familiar with Biscoff right?  It's a spread that's becoming more and more well known in the United States and is similar to peanut butter in texture but instead of peanuts ground up to make it the spread uses.....cookies.

Therefore you know it's gonna be great.

And these cookies are just as fantastic.  So in lieu of 8 million + adjectives, I'm just going to let them speak for themselves.

Make them.  Love them.


Biscoff Glazed Oatmeal Cookies
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: About 18 cookies


For The Cookies:
- 2 cups old fashioned oats
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 6 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

For The Glaze:
- 1/4 cup Biscoff Spread
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Whisk together oats, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and flour in a bowl until combined.  In a large bowl beat butter, oil, and sugar until well combined and fluffy.  Beat in egg until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.  Beat in yogurt and vanilla until combined.  Add in flour slowly, mixing just until combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.  Measure out approximately 2 Tbsp of dough for each cookie and space on baking sheets at least 2 inches apart.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, rotating pans halfway through, or until edges are light golden.  Let cool on wire racks for 5 minutes and then let cool completely on wire racks.  When cookies are cool make icing.

Combine biscoff, milk, powdered sugar, and corn syrup in a bowl until smooth.  Place rack with cookies over paper towels.  Pour/spoon glaze over cookies and allow at least 30 minutes to set (if you can).  Enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: Bake at 350

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Beer Batter Bread

The old standby.

A favorite sweatshirt.

A song that brings you back to a certain time with only a few notes.

A birthday meal.

Something that, if had every day would certainly not be the most extraordinary, but every once in awhile feels like the best thing in the world.

In a baking life where repeats are practically nonexistent, this beer batter bread is a wonderful standby.  I think I've made it around 4-5 times in the past few years (which trust me is monumental) and every time I wonder how it's taken me so long to come back to it.

Yeasty and chewy, comforting with just a hint of sweetness, the perfect bread to whip up on a whim.

It goes great with soups, sandwiches, and all on its own, preferably smeared with some softened butter and a generous sprinkle of sea salt.

My next idea is a a killer breakfast sandwich loaded up with bacon eggs and cheddar on this, or a grilled cheese would be amazing too.

The options are endless and if you try this out with a different beer every time, you'll never be bored.

And I recommend you do just that.

Easy and wonderful every time.

An enduring favorite of mine.


Beer Batter Bread
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: 1 loaf

- 3 cups flour
- 3 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 (12oz) bottle of beer (unopened at room temperature)
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 375 degress F.  Grease a 9x5 inch baking loaf pan.  In a bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Open the beer and add all at once.  Stir until just combined.  Pour into pan and drizzle with melted butter.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.  Let rest in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes, the turn out onto wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature with butter.  Or with soup.  Or make killer sandwiches.  Anything goes.  Enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: The William Sonoma Baking Book

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Orange Bourbon Barbecue Sauce

In theory, the time between summer and fall has the potential to be one of the most magical times of the year.

The days warm enough to hold all the wonderful outdoor activities that we associate with summer, with the nights and mornings cooling off enough to hint at the weather that's just around the corner.

In practice, it doesn't always go that well.

(Maybe I drank a pumpkin spice latte in 90 degree heat because I was so excited about them coming back, or maybe I got caught in an air-conditioned classroom that was freezing in a summer dress.  Maybe.)

When we can hit the mark between summer and fall just right though, it is one of the most wonderful things imaginable.  And this sauce is there.

With the days cool enough to be able to stand over a simmering pot but with the weather nice enough to still get out there and grill, you basically have no reason not to make this.

This sauce is out of this world.

Think making your own barbecue sauce is obsolete?  It'll take just one taste to change your mind.  All of the normal suspects of homemade barbecue sauce (brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar etc) come together with bourbon and orange to create something that is absolutely out of this world.  The sweetness of the orange juice reminds of the long summer days while the slight spice from the bourbon echoes the colder nights that will be here before we know it.

And it could not be easier.

This would be great with any food associated with regular barbecue sauce.  We enjoyed ours warmed over grilled chicken, but next time you better believe I'll be going at it with some homemade french fries.  Oh yes.

So while maybe I haven't got my wardrobe or coffee choices down pat just yet, this sauce is definitely spot on.

And is one of the best way to savor the last days of summer and welcome in fall.

So so good.


Orange Bourbon Barbecue Sauce
Servings: 2-3 cups

- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced - I used the kind from a squeeze bottle and it worked great)
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 3/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp black pepper (ground)
- 1/2 tsp salt

Heat olive in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté until slightly browned and mostly clear (about 5 minutes).  Add garlic and sauté for a minute or so more.  Bring the heat to low and add the bourbon, scraping the pan as you go.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 35-40 minutes, or until reduced and thickened.  Store mixture in an airtight container.  

Recipe adapted from: Joy the Baker

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Candied Cherries

In the time that I've been baking, I've used the things that I've made to say one thing or another.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm a big proponent of words (as anyone who's ever spent any time with me can attest) and feel if I was going to err on a side, it probably would be of over-using them.

Words can hurt, words can comfort.  I know in my case words can often inspire.

But, on occasion, there are some things that words can't say.

And the act of sharing or just enjoying food with someone is a way to fill in the blanks.  Little kindnesses we could sometimes use just a little more of.

Fresh cherries are combined with sugar, lemon juice and water, then simply cooked and cooled to create a topping that was an exclamation point on the various treats I chose to put with them... brownies, ice cream, and sherbet all making the list.

They were also an exclamation point on the ending of an awesome summer.  

Easy to make.  Easier to share.  


Candied Cherries

- 1 lb sweet cherries (fresh or frozen) 
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 drop almond extract

Stem and pit the cherries.  Combine cherries, water, sugar, and lemon juice in a large saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat until cherries come to a low boil and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally for the first 15 minutes and frequently the last 10 minutes so cherries don't stick.  One the syrup has thickened, take off and add almond extract.  Allow pan and cherries to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container until ready for use.

Recipe adapted from: The Perfect Scoop

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Homemade Crunch Wrap Supremes

I don't have too much to say, good or bad, on the topic of fast food.

Truth be told I don't eat it all that often, but not because I'm on some high horse about it or have some huge vendetta against it.

AND let's be honest, if you're offering to take me out for some curly fries and/or a Rolo McFlurry, odds are I'm the first one out the door.

There was a time, though, when I loved Taco Bell.  

I mean LOVED.

(This was also around the same time I bought a crimper that put hearts and stars into your hair and wore a shirt with palm trees on it that said "Jamaican Me Crazy" constantly..... so my judgement on a whole then may have been questionable at best.)

Even though that time is pretty far gone now, when I saw these homemade Crunchwrap Supremes floating around online, I decided they had to be a part of my life sooner than later.  I knew making them at home would allow me to control exactly what went into them.

And also a part of me still loves the idea of Taco Bell, if not always the execution.

When I finally bit in I was absolutely giddy at how spot on they were to the memory I had built up in my head.  No, I didn't have a store-bought one with me to do a side-by-side comparison, but honestly I couldn't imagine these tasting any better.

Taco seasoned ground beef, melted cheddar cheese, a corn tortilla, sour cream, lettuce, and tomato are sandwiched between two flour tortillas and cooked on the stove until crispy.

If you're a fan of the big chain that made these popular or just a fan of great food in general, these are a must make.  They really don't take much more time to whip up than it does to get into your car and hit-up a drive-through anyway.

They completely thrilled the 12 year old in me, who was dying for her Taco Bell fix.  

And now that I know I can re-create them at home?

It's safe to say that it's going to be a wonderful next ten years.


Homemade Crunch Wrap Supremes
Servings: 6

- 12 "burrito size" flour tortillas
- 6 corn tortillas
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 pkg taco seasoning of your choice
- 1 jar of taco cheese (found in the same aisle as the mexican foods/or chips)
- 1 container of sour cream
- 3-4 tomatos (depending on size)
- 1 bag/head of iceberg lettuce

**please note these quantities and measurements for filling crunch wraps are estimates, you should adjust filling amounts to suite your own tastes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Use one corn tortilla to cut a circle of the same size out of 6 of the flour tortillas.  Put the 6 cut out flour tortillas aside.  (Reserve outside of the 6 flour tortillas for making homemade tortilla chips if desired.)  Place 6 corn tortillas on a baking sheet (spread out) and bake until crispy (mine took about 7 minutes - I would recommend starting with 5 minutes and then checking every 2-3 minutes until they are done to your liking).  Put oven to "warm".  

Cook the ground with the taco seasoning as directed on packet and set aside.  Chop tomatoes and lettuce.  Have a medium size skillet ready on the stove and have a counter surface with all of your ingredients ready to assemble.  

Microwave a full size flour tortilla for about 10 seconds (or until warm) and lay onto counter surface.  Place some (I started with 3-4 TBSP and adjusted from there) ground beef in the center of the tortilla and top with some of the cheese (I did about 2-3 TBSP).  Lay a corn tortilla on top and press down slightly.  Top corn tortilla with some sour cream (I did about 1-2 TBSP) and some chopped lettuce and tomato.  Top entire thing with one of the cut out flour tortillas that are the same size as the corn tortilla.  Fold each side of the larger tortilla up until all the filling is covered, pressing down to get a somewhat seal.

Spray the cooking pan lightly with cooking spray and place the crunch wrap into it, seam side down.  Cook on low-medium, pushing down lightly with a spatula, for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Place on serving pan in oven to keep warm until ready to eat.  Continue with other ingredients until you have made all the crunch wraps.

It may seem like lengthy instructions but once you get into a swing of it, these are really easy to assemble.  Although this filling combination is a replica of the one you would get at Taco Bell, feel free to tweak fillings as you wish and adjust as you go.  Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Culinary Couture

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cherry Chocolate Coconut Scones

We've already talked about how up until last summer I was under the impression that I didn't like cherries.

And about how I was completely ignorant to the fact that sweet fresh cherries in the summer were some of the greatest little gems I could get my paws on.

AND about how cherry season seems to be the most painfully short of all the stone fruit, coming and going before you even get a chance to realize it's gotten into full swing.

With all of that in mind this summer, I bought an absurd amount of cherries (like possibly 6-7 lbs) knowing that it would afford me the opportunity to make all of the cherry ideas I had stored up all year......

and then.....

well, I ate all 7 lbs before a stick of butter had been unwrapped or a flour bag had been propped open.

It happens.

I was resolute in getting at least one cherry treat out to you before the season ran dry and after being inspired by a similar ice cream flavor combination, I had a feeling these wouldn't go wrong.

(But I happen to be of the camp that when it comes to eating a scone, it's hard to go wrong from the start.)

Chunks of cherry, chocolate, and chewy coconut come together to make an end product that isn't overly sweet and is a perfect complement to breakfast, or any time of the day really.

I happened to make my batch right before going to see "The Dark Knight Rises" in IMAX.

Whether or not I debated/acted on my impulse to sneak one of these in my purse with me, I'll leave up to you to decide.

While cherry season is still in full swing, pick up a bag and make these.

Get yourself aboard the fresh cherry train and don't look back.

Cherry Chocolate Coconut Scones
Serves: 16

- 3 1/4 cups flour
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and chopped relatively small
- 6 oz semisweet chocolate chips
- 3 oz shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  In a large bowl combine dry ingredients from flour to salt, whisking to combine.  Using a fork or a pastry blender, mix the butter until it forms coarse crumbs, making sure the butter pieces are not too large.  Create a well in the center of the bowl.  Pour in the vanilla and the buttermilk until just combined.  Stir in the cherries, chocolate chips, and coconut until well distributed.  Use hands to finish mixing dough if necessary.  Divide in half and pat into circles.  Cut each wedge into 6-8 wedges (depending on size desired) and bake for 13-15 minutes until lightly golden.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from: How Sweet It Is