Saturday, September 29, 2012

Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squash

I complain a lot about Georgia.  I do.  There's a lot (especially in my little corner of the state) that I don't like about it.  High up on that list is the lack of the nuevo-hippie type of amenities that I came to love living in California.

Wait, don't go.  I'm not a hippie.  Let me explain.

I love Trader Joe's.  Have you been there?  It's like a slightly granola grocery store, but way affordable.  I don't know how to describe it, but it's wonderful.  I'm not doing a good job of explaining myself.

In California I loved going to the farmers market.  I loved that good, sometimes organic, fresh food was right at your fingertips most of the time.  I loved that there was a Whole Foods where I could get any weirdo gourmet obscure ingredients I might need for the nutso recipes I like to attempt.  Also there are really cool bakeries, independently owned restaurants...'s just a dream come true, ok?

Well, I knew there would be less of that here in GA, but little did I know there would be next to none.  However, I recently found out from my friend Sara (who taught me to make macarons, baguettes, and crepes) that there is a food co-op available here every Saturday. 

Basically you pay 15 bucks on Monday and on Saturday they bring in kind of a grab bag of fruits and veggies grown locally...whatever's in season.  It's enough produce to get the two of us through like a week or two without needing to buy produce at the store...and it presents a fun and new challenge to use what you're surprised with.  Also it just feels awesome to buy local food for cheap and to eat in-season produce.

Anyway I'm done with my hippie rant now, thanks for listening.  My point is that, I got these beautiful acorn squash from the co-op this week...and I had not one clue what to do with them.  So I did this!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apple Cider Caramel Filled Cookies

One of my favorite fall memories from my childhood has to be going apple-picking with my brothers and my dad.  We all piled into the car and drove out to the orchard.  They give you this apple-picking contraption that basically consists of a metal basket on the end of a long pole (reminiscent of a lacrosse stick) that makes it super easy to picke apples from the ground, but I think my brothers and I took the opportunity to do a little tree climbing as well. 

After we picked the apples we got to see how apple cider is was pretty cool watching them press down the appled...and let's be real, how delicious is apple cider?  I just remember the whole place smelling amazing.  If you have kids...I would highly recommend apple-picking as a super fun fall activity. 

Speaking of apple cider...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

I'm coming to you live from my couch, bundled in sweats and a blanket and I'm still a little chilly.  It is fantastic.  Since about May we've had the thermostat in the house set at 80.  Here in Georgia, if you have it set lower than that...the AC never shuts off.  Never.

So this is the first night it's been cool enough for us to open up the windows, turn off the AC and cool this place off.  It is glorious I'm telling you. 

Also a glorious sign of autumn...I had my first ever salted caramel mocha frappucino from Starbucks.  It was life-altering.  I'll have to find a way to incorporate salted caramel at some point.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Is there anything worse than shopping for jeans? 

I look back on my 16-year-old self with my shiny new driver's license, going to the mall with a friend and just joyfully trying on pair after pair.  Little did I know that just a decade and change later, I'd be much more concerned with pears than pairs. 

I'm sure many ladies can identify.  Even if you don't hate your shape, which I don't HATE it... I mean sure I'd rather be eating a pear than looking like one...but it's not the worst thing in the world.  Still...for some reason jeans are the bane of my existence.  If they fit one place, they're loose in another.

And don't even get me started on the most minor of water/salt/cupcake fluctuations in my system that seem to render one pair or another utterly unwearable.  How is that fair?

What I'm getting at is that I feel like I need a new pair of jeans...but I'm scared.  I know that only regret, harsh lighting, and dissatisfaction are waiting for me that fateful day I decide to walk into that Buckle or American Eagle or whatever it may be.

You know what the answer is?  Yoga pants.  Yoga pants and delcious, soothing, there-for-you carbs.  Carbs think you look fantastic in those pajama pants.  To carbs, the only reason to go to the mall is to get a soft pretzel.  Carbs...let's be best friends.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Coconut Chicken Curry

I know many people agree with me on this, but there are few things I hate more than having to go to the doctor.  Really, the only things worse that come to mind the top of my head....needles and being deprived of food.  Oh wait, I'm getting blood drawn tomorrow and have to fast for the 12 hour prior to that. 

Oh and I work nights.  So at the risk of sounding like a HUGE whiner (which I know I am), it's the perfect storm for me.  I ate an INSANE version of my Green Smoothie to get me through the night though.  Which worked until...oh right about now. 

Enough whining!  Let's talk about that one time when I got to cook and eat something. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

French Onion Soup

Well it's official.  It is chilly outside tonight!  By chilly I mean 65, which...looking back that was a pretty average temperature year-round in Monterey so...

Maybe that's not chilly for you.  But here...that's soup weather!  Hurray!

So, thanks to pinterest I'm going through a period of my life in which I'm alternately obsessed with different fashion/food/beauty related products or ideas.  I spend hours poring over my laptop dissecting the pros and cons that would go along with cutting bangs. 

I know this can't be good.  I know.  Help me?  No don't.  No do.  Actually just sign up and we can link each other stuff forever, YAY!  Here's a brief list of my recent obsessions.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

A few weeks ago I was chatting with some friends about food goals.  By that I mean foods that we don't necessarily enjoy, but we really want to.  Do you have anything like that?  I have a few of those.

I used to be much worse...I used to hate seafood of any kind.  God how wrong I was.  My family and I would go out to eat to this Chinese restaurant that served all you can eat crab legs one day of the week...and I wouldn't touch them; instead I would load up on fried rice and general chicken like a dummy!  I could just kick myself!  

Finally I overcame that seafood aversion by diving headfirst into sushi.  Crazy, I know right?  Now I can't get enough of the stuff.

I know I should be scolded for missing out on all the deliciousness that I'm about to mention, but trust me, I know.  That's why they're goals.  So without further ado, these days my food goal list includes:

- Mushrooms: I know, I know.  I'm working on it.  Maybe I should start by making some crab-stuffed mushrooms....omg yeah that sounds fantastic.

- Olives: This really only ever applies with pizza and salad but I love pizza and salad.  I don't want there to ever be a time when I can't eat those things.  Plus when I was little my brother Michael always looked like he was having so much fun putting an olive on each finger.  I want that fun.

- Squash: It's not that I don't like's just that I never use it.  I need to use it more.  It's a great fall veggie.

-Milk: While not technically a food...I really should drink more of it.  I hardly touch the stuff besides on cereal, in smoothies, or baked into confections.  And you know...osteoporosis and stuff right?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cucidati - Italian Fig Cookies

These cookies.  Oh these cookies.  I've been blessed to have eaten these since childhood, but have always been utterly intimidated by the prospect of making them myself.  My little Italian grandmother (Nonnie) and one of my aunts made these and about a billion other cookies for our wedding reception.  They were a major hit.  To be specific...they disappeared lightning fast.  Real homemade Italian cookies are a made from butter and sugar and love, and I can't express the joy I feel whenever I am lucky enough to get my hands on some.

In my heart of hearts these are really definitely a Christmas treat for me.  But I think the awesome mix of fig, date, and walnut flavors lends itself pretty well to fall too.  PLUS, as I mentioned, I've been terrified to attempt these on my own, mostly because in my family, they were always touted as one of the most difficult cookies to make, so I had to seize the opportunity of having my friend Sara in the kitchen to help out. 

Like when she stopped me from putting 2 POUNDS of walnuts in when the recipe called for 2 CUPS.  Yeah.  I almost did that.  That's real life.

Even more real life anecdotes?  That wasn't even CLOSE to the only insane thing she stopped me from doing...let's just say I struggle with talking while baking.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cayenne Sweet Potato Fries

Today was the first not extremely humid day that we've had here in awhile.  And by awhile I mean awhile.  In Georgia, that's how you can tell that fall's coming.  It's not quite here yet (except in my head), but it's coming.  I guess Target thinks it's here already too, though, because they already have all the fall/Halloween decorations out in full force.  Not complaining...I think that's awesome.

I've recently become obsessed with Joy the Baker Podcast.  I guess I shouldn't say recently because I've known about it for awhile, but in the past week, I've probably listened to like perhaps 10 hours of these two lady food bloggers chatting about nothing in particular.  It's awesome.  They are Joy the Baker (obviously) and Tracey of Shutterbean.  I love Joy the Baker's pie crust's officially the only one I use now, and I swear by it to anyone who will listen to me ramble about crust.  Anyway, it's highly entertaining, you should check it out.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Texas Sheet Cake

In my book, fall starts September first.  And seeing as the grocery store has had the Halloween candy out since mid-August...I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way.  So happy fall everyone!  I am oh so pumped.

Jim and I just got back from a weekend of food, football, and friends in North Carolina.  There was a good deal of pool lounging that happened as well.  Anyway, we discussed a few food-related topics (imagine that...) and Jim went on a small diatribe about his feelings on the cupcake.  

He is not a fan.

The idea sounds so great...portable, single-serving, hand held personal cakes!  What's not to like, right?  Here's what he doesn't like.  Starting from the outside-in.  He's very methodical with this.  First, the liner.  You pull it off, you've got crumbs.  Not liking it.  Secondly, the frosting.  It's stacked so high that it gets all over your face and/or on/in your nose.  Hilarious but problematic.  Third, and this is one I can identify with.  Cupcakes are kind of all corner-piece.  You really only have one "middle piece" bite going on.  Whereas with a (gigantic sheet of) cake, you have middle pieces galore, where ever bite is soft and delectable.

Well Jim has been requesting this cake for quite some time.  You may recall I made Texas Sheet Cupcakes awhile ago...this is basically the same recipe just baked in a sheet pan.  And while Jim enjoyed the cupcakes for their spot-on Texas Sheet Flavor...he still disapproves of the form in which they were presented.  So I did it.

I finally made his cake.

Texas Sheet Cake
(adapted from blue eyed bakers)


2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 heaping Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla


1 3/4 (14 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
4 heaping Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
6 Tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans

For the cake: In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt and set aside.  Melt butter in the microwave in a separate bowl, and add cocoa powder and boiling water, stirring to combine.

Add butter mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla.  Stir into the flour mixture until incorporated.

Grease and flour a sheet cake pan.  Pour batter into the pan, making sure the batter spreads to the corners in an even layer.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  

Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack.  Frost when cooled.  

For the frosting: Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add cocoa and stir to combine.  Add buttermilk and vanilla, whisking until smooth.  Finally add powdered sugar, whisking again until smooth.  Frost cake generously, sprinkling pecans on top.  Serve directly out of the pan, cover with plastic wrap and store leftovers in the fridge.  

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