Category Archives: Baking

Seduced by the Slow Cooker & Christmas 2013

Cooking Light hit my sweet, er savory spot with not one, not two, but a whole section devoted to the sultry workhorse of the kitchen – The Slow Cooker.  In their Slow Cooker Recipes to Feed a Crowd feature I made four of the recipes including the Classic Slow Cooker Beef Stew; Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine; Tangy Italian Beef Sandwiches and Sweet & Tangy Short Ribs.  Most of these were knock your socks off good, but the hands down winner has to be the Chicken Tagine. Nom, nom, nom. This is a new go-to when I don’t feel like doing much in the kitchen but want something spectacular when I get home.


David and I made the short ribs together, followed it to the letter and boy, we were not fans. The Sambal Oeelek (which usually we can both handle) was HOT. I mean on fire, I was choking a bit hot. Not sure what happened, but we are going to try again and see if it was user error. David and I are still both scratching our heads on what went wrong. Regardless, give the the other three a try. They are simply delightful and easy to prep. I just love coming home to the smells of something in the slow cooker don’t you?

Now on to the BIG DAY – CHRISTMAS! I am one of the biggest nerds on the planet for Christmas and last night, David and I were talking about why. On the surface, I love all the smells, colors and flavors of the season – it’s all up my alley. But more importantly I feel this time of year is when things are a little slower and people are just a bit kinder towards one another. Goodness, I sound just like the opening to Love Actually don’t I? But I truly do believe it!

Enough of this gushy stuff, let’s get to the food. So I had to make this perfect roast chicken again and yes, once again, it turned out perfect. So, so, so perfect. I don’t think I will ever follow another roast chicken recipe again. I also made this Stupid Simple Roast Beef with Horseradish Cream from Food & Wine magazine – jeez, this was outrageously delicious. It was perfectly medium rare and juicy to boot. Was it stupid simple? You bet! We smeared and smothered the spicy, creamy horseradish sauce all over the meat and ate with abandon. I also roasted some red potatoes along with meat and then tossed them in the pan drippings when done. These were cracktastic. At one point, Lila had eaten all of her potatoes and when David asked the table if there were any more, one of guests was trying to hide his – he didn’t want to share, hahahaha. I also served a simple side salad of roasted beets, kale, shaved parmesan and roasted hazelnuts with a lemon infused creme fraiche sauce.  Easy, breezy and mostly healthy – it has kale and beets, come on!

Stupid Simple

The only misstep for us was the Dark Chocolate Pudding with Pretzels from Bon Appetit. I followed this to the “T” (as I always do duh, but especially so since it’s a pudding and those can be tricky) and it was waaaay too rich for the table; even with the salty pretzels. People took a few bites and then kindly set it to the side. Good thing we had cheesecake as a backup! Overall, Christmas 2013 dinner was a success but more importantly, we were so grateful to be with amazing family and friends. Hope you and yours had happy holidays and who is ready for 2014?

A Winning Night

Yowza! I don’t care what side you were on last night, that was a nail biter at times huh? I wanted to make something quick and simple so we could get back to watching the pundits dissect and predict every single swing state for hours upon end until the polls actually closed and the good stuff got started. I chose this Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart from Cooking Light with a simple spinach side salad drizzled with my homemade Lemon Oregano dressing.

First, the crust. You know I make crust for a living so I was intrigued by this one with its salt, pepper, baking soda and olive oil as the fat to bind. Interesting. It was like a shortbread crust but savory, and yummy! The combo of butternut squash, eggs, Gruyere cheese, bacon and mushrooms was simply divine. Added bonus, I’m so super duper pregnant right now that I was thankful this was a quick and easy recipe. I’m telling you I can’t stop cooking, I love it too much!

This soared passed any predictions we had and won the popular vote in our house. For picky eaters or if you are in need of a quick crowd pleaser, this definitely has the ability to reach across the aisle and make everyone happy. Oh dear, I’ve been watching way too much CNN.



The new Cooking Light cover simply states “Indulge Yourself”…yeah twist my arm Cooking Light, twist my arm. I think I earmarked half of this issue and when I got to the banana bread section – yes lambs you have a plethora of choices for banana breads in this issue – I clapped with glee. When I was little, I would go to  this lovely tea room in Longview, TX with my mom and two older sisters and the one thing I recall vividly was their delicious banana bread. The tea room is long gone, but I will always remember that’s where my love of banana bread began.

As mentioned, Cooking Light has basic banana bread, banana bread with chocolate and the peanut butter banana bread that also happens to grace this month’s cover. I also love a good old peanut butter, honey and banana sandwich, so this one was a clear winner for me.

This was extremely easy to put together. You simply mix all of the wet ingredients, combine the dry ingredients and then mix into the wet. I baked this in the Wolf range for a little less than the suggested time as it was starting to look a little overdone…I was worried…ask David I really was. I decided to forge ahead and make Cooking Light’s go-to glaze of one percent milk and powdered sugar, but this time they added peanut butter. After cooling, I cut into it and took a bite, still very concerned it was overdone. The verdict?  Moist. Delicious, Sweet and nutty. This had perfect banana bread flavor with a peanut butter twist and I liked the addition of the crunchy peanuts to give it some texture.

My only advice is to watch this while it’s in the oven. I’m still getting used to using the Wolf range since it’s amazing but is a little more sophisticated than yours truly. This browned pretty quickly and I was keeping an eye on it. I did pull it out about five minutes early since it was browning on the top and edges, but the flavor and moist texture made this a winner for us…and my office mates.