Chocolate-Chip Peppermint Cookies

IMG_6050

Candy canes are only so useful after the holidays have come and gone.  What does one do with hundreds of mini candy canes, individually wrapped, sitting above one’s refrigerator?

Fortunately, the New Yorker has a number of suggestions.  You could, for example, crush them up and use them to salt, er rather, mint your your driveway in advance of wintry weather.  You could use them to pull clumps of hair out of your drain or drag struggling marionettes off stage.  These are but a few of the New Yorker’s (somewhat) humorous suggestions.

Or, you could crush them up and make these cookies.  I have tried, unsuccessfully, to make these in the past.  Too often Continue reading

French Lentil Soup with Mushrooms and Kale

Lentil Soup

Lentils are a favorite in our house. We make our lentil burgers and our mustard-vinaigrette lentils. We have our lentil tabbouleh and lentil penne dish.  We love our lentils. This lentil soup is a recent addition to our lentil love. The beauty of this soup is that it comes together quickly and makes more than enough to go around (and then some).

So leftovers are a given with this recipe. And the advantage with a good soup is that the flavors tend to intensify with time. A few days in the refrigerator Continue reading

Butternut Squash Tart with Rosemary Crust

IMG_6004

Picking a recipe is never easy.  There are thousands of recipes on any given website and among any collection of cookbooks.  And then, when cooking for a crowd, things get only more complicated, as more and more tastes, allergies, and preferences must be accounted for.

Among the vast collections of recipes, this one stood out almost immediately.  I love a good homemade crust.  Caitlin loves a good gourd.  The addition of fresh rosemary (from our own herb garden out back) was an additional selling point.  Beyond those considerations, Continue reading

Pumpkin Layer Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

Pumpkin Cake

Oh birthdays!

As a kid, birthdays are amazing spectacles, full of friends, cake, presents, noise-makers, silly hats, and confetti.  Fire trucks, magicians, and even costumed superheroes may make an appearance.  All in the spirit of celebration.

And then, at least for some, birthdays lose their luster.  They cease to be either fun or exciting, but simply mark the inevitable drum beat of time and aging.

I am not there and hope never to be — hiding from my birthday, pretending it has not yet come or gone.  Bring on the birthdays!  And bring on the cake and presents!  Continue reading

CSA Corn and Black Bean Salad

CSA Salad

We are now in the second year of our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from the La Vista farm in Godfrey, Illinois. Every other week, we pick up our bounty of fresh vegetables and herbs. In recent weeks, we have been enjoying La Vista’s tomatoes, okra, summer squash, basil, and other similar items from our farm basket. We have also supplemented from our herb garden, replete with rosemary, thyme, and dill, giving us the full array of summer flavors.

This recipe comes together Continue reading

Tres Leches Cake with Berries

IMG_5424

In my last post, I bemoaned the fact that I had not been trying out enough recipes from the Barefoot Contessa (a.k.a. Ina Garten).  Well, sure enough, I am back in form, with a second Barefoot Contessa in less than a month’s time.

I had always wanted to make a tres leches cake, having always been eager to order the dessert at the Mexican restaurants we might frequent.  I loved how moist and sweet the cake was.

And as luck would have it, Continue reading

Blueberry Bran Muffins

Blueberry Bran Muffins

How I have been remiss!  It used to be that an Ina recipe landed on my blog almost every other month.  There was her spanakopita and her cheese straws.  There was her panko-crusted salmon with french lentils and her maple-roasted winter squash.  Every dish, it seemed, was a winner.

And with six of her cookbooks sitting on my shelf, each neatly arranged according to the spine’s color, there was no shortage of recipes at my disposal.  There were even two recent books — Make it Ahead and Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust — that, horror of horrors, I had not yet acquired.

Bran Muffins

I was desperately falling behind on my Ina testing.

Fortunately, the St. Louis County Public Library Continue reading