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Showing posts from September, 2018

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

As a Mainer, I adore baked beans. I love to make them the old-fashioned way, which involves soaking the beans, parboiling them, putting them in a clay pot with a lid in the oven and babying them every step of the way. They are absolutely amazing made this way (a thousand times better than canned- it’s like a completely different food) but they are a pain. I caved and used a slow cooker. But the recipes I found didn’t leave me with that amazing taken bean result I craved. I tried layering my bacon, beans and onions; that turned out to be the secret. With the bacon nearest the heat, it renders out some fat and the onions get a chance to gently soften without browning on top of the beans. Just mix the liquid component before pouring it on top of the layers and you won’t disturb them! The best way to taste for doneness is to perform the 3 bean test. Eat three beans from different parts of the dish; if they are all cooked through, the whole shebang is done. If one is still ha

Garlic Butter Pork Tenderloin

I love pork tenderloin. Inexpensive, cooks in less than 30 minutes, tender and juicy, plus it works well with almost any marinade or sauce you can dream up! It’s pretty healthy for you too as it’s a very lean cut of meat. The secret to this easy pork tenderloin is to thoroughly dry it before searing. Removing water from its surface prevents steaming and ensures your meat actually sears. Finish the meat in the oven and then rest it for nearly as long as you cooked it; this way, the steam in the meat redistributes back into the meat rather than running out as soon as you slice it. Rested meat = juicy meat. My favorite food ever in the world is butter so I can never resist a butter based sauce. Today I went for a classic garlic and parsley butter sauced and drenched my pork in it. There is no limit to the variations you can come up with for tenderloin, though- lemon pepper, salt crusted, teriyaki, maple glazed- the sky is the limit. I love to serve this with roasted

Summer Squash, Broccoli, Potato and Cheese Soup

My parents have a very bountiful garden. My dad inherited a green thumb from my late grandpa, Bumbi. Whenever I visit my parents in the summer, I can expect to come home with a haul of fresh produce. I have delighted in cucumbers, cabbage, tomatoes, basil, parsley, rosemary and dill thus far; nowadays I am inundated with summer squash. What to do with it? I have made sautéed squash, summer squash noodles, breaded and friend discs, squash parmesan…. and today, with the first “cold” day of the late summer being upon us, I wanted soup.  My old favorite soup is potato, broccoli cheddar; I used that soup as my backbone here. I added the summer squash to the mix and exchanged the cheddar for parm and pecorino cheeses. For herbs, I used marjoram and thyme; they pair so well with those cheeses and complement the flavor of squash perfectly.  After a long day working on my basement, tidying up and playing with my puppies, that bowl of soup was precisely what I needed wind down

Pumpkin Streusel Bread

It’s September; the weather is turning from humid summer heat to crisp fall chilliness. It’s my favorite time of year. In addition to beautiful sweater weather, fall also brings along the best baking of the year. I am not ashamed to admit I adore all things pumpkin, including the infamous pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks. I was craving something warm and pumpkin-y today, so I decided to make this pumpkin streusel loaf. This is a very easy quick bread to make. Dry ingredients stirred into the wet then topped with a very simple but oh-so-delicious streusel and you are done. Bake in the oven for an hour and get treated to the most glorious smell coming from your kitchen. The only hard part is waiting for the bread to cool so you can slice yourself a thick piece and enjoy it with tea, coffee or hot cider. Enjoy! Ingredients 1¾ cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice ¾ teaspoon salt 2 eggs ¾ cup sugar ½ cup brown sug

Barley Bowl

I love grain bowls. They are healthy, warm and filling and infinitely variable. Switch the grain, switch the veggies switch the beans and switch the dressing. The basic cooking method is the same but the flavor combinations are endless. I love barley; it’s mildly flavored, slightly chewy, and very easy to cook. Just boil it in water or chick stock and drain any excess moisture. I always have it on hand in my pantry, so I often use it for my grain bowls. I added the vegetables and beans that I had on hand, along with my grain bowl constant- the avocado. Creamy and delicious, it’s my one non-negotiable topping. The dressing I chose tonight was a Newman’s Own Roasted Garlic and Parmesean, but anything you have on hand or choose to make would be delightful. I hope you try this out soon! Ingredients: 1 cup barley 3 cups water 1 cup broccoli 2 cups mixed baby greens 1/2 cup shredded carrots 1/2 sweet onion, chopped 1 14 ounce can reduced sodium chick peas,

Mocha Chocolate Cake

This cake is sheer chocolate perfection. The cake itself is deeply, darkly chocolate and incredibly moist. The mocha frosting is light, yet rich coffee-tinged chocolate decadence, topped by perfectly luscious, seductive drips of ganache. This was a birthday cake for my aunt; I am so happy to be the family baker. It gives me an excuse to test cake recipes all the time! I wanted an elegant, classy cake for my aunt. This cake is sparsely decorated with smooth edges and artfully placed chocolate drips, which achieves a beautiful, austere beauty, I think. The flavor is not complex, but it is perfection. Be sure to purchase chocolate that you would eat in hand, and really good Dutch-processed cocoa powder. I bought Guittard this time but Valrhona is a very famous and excellent brand as well. The better the chocolate, the better the cake! Be patient with the Swiss meringue; do NOT add the butter until the meringue is thoroughly cooled or else you will have a soupy mess. I speak f

Corn Salsa

It’s the beginning of the school year! It feels really strange to say that since I have been out of school for seven years. This time, I come back not as a student, but as a teacher.  This fall, I will be teaching private voice lessons at three schools and running a vocal program for gifted and talented high schoolers in addition to teaching students in my home studio. I am thrilled to be able to use my master’s degree in opera performance in my professional career.  I must confess, I have always loved the beginning of the school year, even as a child. I loved school, so going back never made me sad. I was excited to learn new things and see all my friends. I also adore fall; saying goodbye to summer felt more like saying hello to my favorite season. Still, I think I am more excited about school this year as a teacher than I ever was as a student. I am so excited to meet my students, help them develop their musicality and ears, and watch them grow and improve.  To

Mimi's 90th Birthday Cake

It’s my grandmother Mimi’s 90th birthday! My father requested that I make a fancy cake for her party; I am so honored that I got to make her this dessert.  Mimi is a very salt-of-the-earth, low-maintenance woman; she is very thrifty and loves simple desserts like angel food cake and cobblers. However, my father felt that her 90th required something with a little more flash. We decided to keep the flavors simple- it’s just chocolate and vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, but he told me to go all out with the decorations. I wanted to keep the decorations to this cake elegant, classy and with some lovely sparkle. Piped rosettes are very classic; I upped the ante by spraying them pearlescent and adding pearl dragees. The next tier I wanted in silver; I sprayed it silver, added edible silver leaf and wrapped the whole thing in edible lace. To add even more oomph to the top (and additional yummy goodness), I made meringue cookies. I found the perfect silver sparkly cake to