Sunday, September 18, 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Blackberry Jam Swirl Cookies

Hello readers! It's Secret Recipe Club time of the month again. For those of you who don't know, SRC is a group of bloggers who make another member's recipe (in secret, of course) and blog about it on a given reveal day. It's the third Monday (in Pacific time zone, Sunday night ) of the month, which means it's reveal day for Group C. I love SRC because it makes me blog on a consistent basis, I get to learn some new recipes AND I get to discover some of my favorite old recipes as well.

This month, I had Helen's blog Casa Costello. Helen is a mother of 3 living in the UK and has a amazing assortment of recipes. She has a section on her blog called "Bake of the Week" so I knew I should really do some sort of baked good. I had a potluck to attend a couple weeks ago and cookies seemed like an easy but popular thing to bring. I opted for these delightful looking swirl cookies (she did orange raspberry whereas I did lemon blackberry fig, simply because that is what I had available)

These cookies were delightful and very easy. They even kept well for few days after and were delightful with a cup of tea in the morning. I know this will make its way into my regular cookie rotation.

Thanks for this amazing recipe Helen!

  • 200 grams unsalted butter, at room temp
  • pinch of salt
  • 110 grams sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons (and juice of half)
  • 250 grams flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • blackberry jam


  1. Cream together butter, salt and sugar until well combined and fluffy. Add lemon zest, juice and egg and mix thoroughly. 
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together flour and baking powder. Add that to the butter mixture and mix until just combined.
  3. Remove dough to plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Roll out dough to a little less than 1/4 inch thickness in a large rectangle.
  4. Spread jam over the entire surface, up the swirl, then wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze until firm enough to slice
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. and slice cookies to 1/2 inch thickness. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until a light golden brown. Let cool completely on the tray before attempting to remove (because that hot jam is like napalm on your skin)

Two years ago Slow Cooker Pea Soup
Four years ago Easy Coffee Cake
Five years ago: Coconut Milk Agar Agar

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Bananas Foster Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream is one of the things I've always enjoyed making. I love all the strange flavors you can't get in the store. The texture and flavor is just so much better than anything else you can find and you always know exactly what's in it.

This ice cream recipe came from the Bi Rite Creamery recipe book, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones. Bi Rite Creamery is an amazing ice cream shop in San Francisco and their banana ice cream was always one of my favorites. The line may be out the door, but it moves quickly and their flavors are so interesting and delicious. If you are in their area, I highly recommend checking them out.


  • 2 brown bananas
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp dark rum
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 3/4 cup cream
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  1. Place bananas with brown sugar and cinnamon in a large pan. Heat until sugar dissolves and bananas start to bubble. Mash well with a fork
  2. Add rum and flambe quickly until the alcohol has burned off. Set aside to cool completely.
  3. In a small bowl, mix egg yolks and vanilla bean scrapings until the yolk comes up in ribbons. 
  4. In a small saucepan, mix together cream, salt, vanilla pod and milk. Heat until barely scalded.
  5. Temper egg yolks with the cream and add back to the pan. Heat until mixture coats the back of a spatula. Strain and remove from the heat. 
  6. Add banana mixture and let chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. Churn mixture according to ice cream maker directions.
One year ago Bengal Style Daal
Two years ago Vanilla Ice Cream
Four years ago Easy Coffee Cake
Five years ago Fruit Gummies

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


All of you know by now how much I love cajun/creole food. I never had much exposure to it before moving to Virginia and meeting people from Louisianna, but now it's become a favorite that I cannot live without. From jambalaya to gumbo to fantastic beignets, I can't get enough of cajun food.

This is a very easy recipe that comes together with plenty of leftovers.

  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 lb andouille sausage, cut into thin coins
  • 2 lbs white shrimp, belled and de-veined
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain rice
  • 2 tomatoes or approx one can diced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp cajun seasoninng
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a large dutch oven, brown coins of andouille sausage in a little oil until well browned. Drain off excess oil and remove sausage.
  2. Brown onion, garlic, peppers, celery in pot, scraping up stuff on the bottom. Add sausage back to the pot with tomatoes, rice, thyme, and cajun seasoning. Stir well and add chicken stock
  3. Cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Add raw shrimp, stir into rice and let stand another 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve with okra or greens.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Secret Recipe Club: Mint Rosemary Leg of Lamb

It's finally Secret Recipe Club time of the month again and I am FINALLY settled enough to really begin cooking again.

As you may know, my husband and I moved to Los Angeles about 1 month ago. It has been several hectic weeks of starting jobs, starting school, getting settled, catching up with old friends and making our new apartment really feel like home. We're still not quite there yet. We're still looking for a dining table and have been eating most of our emails on the couch/coffee table while we find one, but it feels like home now.

I must admit, I waited until the last minute for this recipe. I knew I wanted to make this lamb recipe, but with so many other groceries to by and so much pantry to restock, I knew this might need to wait. But after an extremely long week of school and work and so many other things happening, I thought we both deserved a treat. The best part: This lamb can be cooked in the crockpot. I threw it in Friday morning and all I had to do when I got home was roast some potatoes and brussel sprouts.

This month, I was assigned "My Whole Food Family" by Susan, an Aussie mom of 3 kids. Her blog features a bunch of not fussy recipes with real ingredients that even kids will eat. As you know, I opted to make her Slow cooked Leg of Lamb, which she had previously made for Australia day. It was so juicy and flavorful. I've made slow cooked lamb before that was dry, but this was wonderful. It looks and tastes impressive without being any effort and it's enough to feed a crowd with leftovers for days.

Thank you Susan. I will absolutely include this recipe in our regular rotation of special occasion meals.


  • 1 leg of lamb, bone in (about 5 lbs)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 heaping tsp dry oregano
  • 2 heaping tsp dry basil
  • 1 heaping tsp dry rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of fresh mint leaves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  1. In a food processor, combine water, garlic, serrano pepper, paprika, oregano, basil, rosemary, mint, lemon and kosher salt. Pulse until well combined
  2. Rub mixture over all sides of the lamb and place in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight
  3. The next morning, place lamb in the slow cooker with 1/2 cup chicken broth. Slice 1 onion thinly and add to the crockpot on top of the lamb.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 9 hours. Slice lamb and serve with the onion and a little extra chiffonade of fresh mint

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Hello again. Long time no see.

I love how busy life has been since moving to LA. Every week, we have an event going on. Every day I'm at work (love it, busy and hell and not stressed). Every day I have lots of chores to do while my husband is in school. I have lots of food to make now that I no longer work in hospitality and no longer have a chef to make me delicious food. I don't cook as much as I would like anymore because I'm so busy, but I'm more challenged and happier than I've been in a while. I wish I saw my husband more, but it's okay. Life is good.

One of the things I miss most about Virginia is the chef at my old work. He made the most excellent cajun and creole food. I loved the gumbo and jambalaya and shrimp etouffe that I can get here, but not as easily (no as cheaply). I made this at home and it was honestly one of the best things I've ever made. I highly recommend it. Best of all, all my coworkers were jealous of my lunch all week long.;


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lb andouille or smoked hot sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 clubs beef stock
  • Worcestershire sauce (8 dashes or so)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups okra, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1/4 cup chopped curly parsley
  1. Place oil in a large dutch oven. Season chicken with salt and pepper and sear in the oil until well browned. Remove.
  2. Add butter and flour to the oil and cook, stirring consistently, until a very dark roux forms.
  3. Add celery, onion, bell pepper and garlic to the roux and cook a few minutes until tender. Add cajun seasoning, rosemary, bay leaves, stock and worcestershire, stirring until well combined. Cover and cook for 1 hour
  4. Add tomatoes, parsley and okra. Cover halfway and cook another 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with rice and extra fresh parsley.
One year ago: Chicken Pho
Four years ago: Rye Hot Dog Buns
Five years ago: Smoked Salmon Baked Eggs

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Morning Glory Muffin

Moving has been going well. The house is mostly unpacked at this point and my new job is going well. Our kitchen is still a little lacking (I don't remember what we were missing until I go to start making something and it's not there). Grocery shopping takes more time than I would like (not yet knowing the lay of he land) coming home from work takes more time than I thought (with the traffic) and we are much much busier than we thought.

It's still growing on me. I now work different hours than before and breakfast/dinner are both more complicated than they were before. Steve will also be at school a lot in the future, so it's going to take us a while to get back in the swing of cooking. I'm still not even there yet, and I enjoy cooking.

Now that I don't have lunch provided for me at work daily, I'm going to need to start packing my lunch on a regular basis. I also need to start making breakfast too. Really, it's just getting into my new routine.

Below is a recipe for Morning Glory Muffins that are great when frozen. They are a perfect breakfast on the go.

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups peeled grated carrots
  • 1 large granny smith apple, peeled, cored and grated
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts or pecans)
  • 1/2 cup raisins, soaked in bourbon and hot water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  1. Soak raisins in bourbon and hot water until plump. Discard excess water. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, spices and salt. Add carrots, apple, coconut and nuts
  3. In a separate bowl, mixed together mashed banana, oil, vanilla egg and juice. Add to flour mixture and mix until just evenly moistened. Fold in raisins
  4. Pour into prepared muffin pan and bake about 25 minutes or until done. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

We live here now

It's been a month since I was able to make a post to this blog. We moved cross country a week and a half ago and life has been absolutely crazed. With finding jobs, buying furniture, moving, getting settled in our new apartment and (thankfully) getting the rest of our stuff in 3 days, life has been insane. Things are finally getting a sense of normalcy now. I finally made dinner in our house for the first time since arriving. It wasn't anything impressive...just pork chops with asparagus and brown rice. It was the best I could do with one pan, one knife, a cutting board and a rice cooker. No baking dishes, no pots... just the bare bones until the rest of our stuff.

Life in LA is....different. I'm from California but LA is its own beast. Traffic sucks, the weather is beautiful, the people are no more beautiful than normal people and "preventative botox" is a thing (botox before you get wrinkles). I think I hate it and then there are things that I love about it. It makes me wonder how the next two years are going to go, but I know we'll be able to come out okay in the end.

I mean, I get to play here...

And here....

Most importantly, I get to eat here...

And this was all just week 1. Wish me luck on the rest of my exploration!

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