January 29th, 2009

sausage stuffed mushrooms

stuffed mushrooms 1

you’ve probably noticed by now that i’ve got a bit of sweet tooth. cake over steak. i’m usually happy to let the girl do most of the cooking (she’s an amazing cook), but there are times when i have to break out ingredients other than butter and sugar. the results? indulgent. full of bacon.

mushrooms 2

another common theme: appetizers for dinner. i love making a bunch of little finger foods and just eating them as a meal. growing up, this was a treat reserved for new years eve, complete with mozzarella sticks, potato skins, nachos and *gasp* birch beer (best soda ever). since i’m still young enough that it’s a novelty to go to the grocery store and get whatever i want, if i want snacks for dinner now, that’s what i’m having.

mushroom stuffing 1

these stuffed mushrooms are straight up indulgent and flavorful bites that work just as well as a main dish as they do party starters. the combination of sweet sausage and earthy mushrooms mixed with caramelized onions and hints of parmesan cheese will make you rethink how you do dinner too. and the way the sausage just crisps up in the oven – i could go on if you want…

parmesan cheese

the great thing about recipes like this is that you can mix and match any ingredients you like. try turkey or chicken sausage (just had this for the first time recently – surprisingly good!). throw in any spices or herbs you might like, or even mix in some wild mushrooms for a kick.

mushroom stuffing 2

i don’t actually have any pictures of the mushrooms once they came out of the oven. there’s a perfectly good reason – we finished them off before i could break out the camera. seriously.

stuffed mushrooms 2

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January 26th, 2009

sticky buns

sticky buns 10

so we have a new president! since i live in washington dc, the center of all of last week’s inaugural commotion, you might think i’d take advantage of living up the street from the white house and haul my butt to the mall to witness history. don’t get me wrong – i love democracy and i’m incredibly excited about barack obama, but i was a little busy, um, making sticky buns. i mean, look at these things! i knew you’d understand.

bun dough 3

while i can’t offer you photos of the millions who flocked to the capitol on tuesday, i can show you what i was doing while i watched all of the speeches and ceremonies on tv (i’ll be honest, i teared up a few times). and though it wasn’t quite as powerful as actually standing in the cold cheering on our new commander in chief, i could still feel the energy that permeated the city.

dough and mixer

one more thing about the inauguration: the weekend before, i went to the hair cuttery for a trim. the woman snipping away casually remarked that earlier that morning, she cut john mccain’s mother’s hair. i was skeptical, not that she cut mrs. mccain’s hair, but that mrs. mccain was still alive at all. embarassingly, i had to check when i got home, and indeed, roberta mccain is still kicking (at 96 years young and with a great looking head of hair).

risen bun dough

moving on…these sticky buns are awesome. the dough comes together quickly and easily, they come out of the oven looking beautiful and taste even better. my advice for the recipe below – don’t use all of the caramel glaze. i made the mistake of just pouring it all in (i used a 9-inch cake pan to bake them), and while the apartment smelled great for a few minutes, it quickly turned to the smell of burnt sugar as the glaze bubbled out of the pan and onto the oven floor.

rolled bun dough

before i knew it, the kitchen had filled with black smoke and the excess glaze had solidified into rock hard blackened tuiles. i had to crawl on my hands and knees to the oven so i could get a baking pan in there  to catch the falling glaze. i couldn’t bring myself to turn off the oven while the sticky buns were only partially done, so i let them finish. the apartment still smells a little burnt, but the sticky buns came out perfect. the things i do for baked goods.

sticky buns 2

bonus sticky-bun-related headache: in the picture above, you can see a little sugar on the right bottom corner. shortly before this picture, i knocked over a giant tupperware container full of granulated sugar which quickly became a giant tupperware container full of nothing. i spent a few hours vacuuming and sweeping up tiny granules in my living room (note to self: make sure lid is actually on container next time). in the end though, the sticky buns were worth it. i’ve been eating them for breakfast each morning after a few seconds in the microwave.

sticky buns 7

one last thing – i have to apologize if i’ve been a little neglectful of comments or emails lately. i’ve actually just started going back to school part time (yay!), and i’m still figuring out how to balance work, class and baking. i’m enrolled in a program at the boston university center for digital imaging arts (they have a campus in dc), and in 18 months i’ll have a certificate in graphic design and web design. it’s a really incredible program, and i’m excited to be excited about school again. after years of self-taught trial and error in photoshop and html, i expect that finding out all the things i don’t know will be a totally humbling (and fun!) experience.

sticky buns 16

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January 19th, 2009

apple bread

apple bread 5

i’ll be blunt: it’s freezing outside, and my kitchen doesn’t have heat. suffice to say, it’s not fun. so last sunday afternoon  i was looking for any excuse to turn on the oven, but wanted something quick so i could start preheating immediately. my favorite standby is chocolate chip banana bread, but i had zero bananas. rumaging through the fridge, i discovered 2 granny smith apples in the fruit crisper (yes i have one of those). would it work? maybe, just maybe…

diced apples

this recipe is so simple and perfect, i can’t believe i haven’t made it before.

apple bread 2

remember the apple muffin recipe? and i’ve ready mentioned the banana bread recipe. take those two, subtract 3 bananas, and you can imagine how incredible the house will smell when you take this bread out of the oven, and how satisfying it is to devour with a mug of hot coffee.

apple bread batter

i’m all about recipes that take little time and effort but still taste like your mom slaved over a hot stove in the kitchen all day. and honestly, at about 10 minutes from peeling and cutting apples to putting this bread in the oven, you have no excuse not to make a loaf or two tonight and give one to someone you love (or even just like). what are you waiting for? go now!

apple bread

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