OMG I haven’t posted in three weeks.  How did that happen!?  Well, actually, it happened because I decided to start a new project here.  I’m refinishing 100 year old doors I got for free!  So, stripping the paint, sanding, staining.  It’s going to take all summer.  But I think it will turn out well!  However, this means I spend most of my free time in the alley working on the doors and not in front of the laptop.

Here’s an amazing pie that is actually called Crack Pie.  I make it every year for the office holiday party, as well as for thanksgiving.


This recipe is from Bon Appetit



  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)


12 servings, one serving contains: Calories (kcal) 350.8 %Calories from Fat 53.8 Fat (g) 21.0 Saturated Fat (g) 12.5 Cholesterol (mg) 141.3 Carbohydrates (g) 38.2 Dietary Fiber (g) 0.7 Total Sugars (g) 30.4 Net Carbs (g) 37.6 Protein (g) 3.0 Sodium (mg) 131.6


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.
  • Using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; add 3 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. (Note: I understand it is important to use a glass dish for this.  I guess if you use a metal one you risk the crust burning.) Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.


  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and whisk until blended. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble). Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight.
  • DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.
  • Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold.

Cooking from my Cookbooks: Edamame pesto with Asparagus

I confess, I have been slacking on my “Cooking from my Cookbooks” series, but I’m here to rectify that.  While I was on my vacation, I browsed my kindle cookbooks (I have quite a few now…at least six) for four recipes–two to catch up on for March, where I did not cook anything from my cookbooks, and two for April, to get me back on track.

This recipe comes from the 30-Minute Suppers e-book put out by America’s Test Kitchen.  At such a low price point, it’s a  pretty short cookbook, but there’s enough interesting and fast ideas in there that I found a few things that piqued my interest.  I chose this Edamame pesto with Asparagus because I have had this bag of frozen edamame in my freezer since….well, at least 2013 and possibly even 2012!  Why I bought it, I don’t know.  I bought it with nothing in mind other than “Edamame! fun!” and then never came up with a use.  Also this leads me into admitting for the past two weeks I’ve actually planned out my dinners in advance, and made shopping lists based off them.  I’ve saved myself money by not buying excess stuff, and planned things that used up stuff that’s been in the freezer or pantry for a while.  It’s also made dinner prep go much faster, because I already know exactly what the game plan is every night.  Why haven’t I done this before!?

This pesto is FANTASTIC.  I’ll be buying frozen edamame again….and this time it’ll get used up fast.  It doesn’t change the flavor IMO, but it makes for a creamier, thicker pesto than usual.


8 oz frozen edamame, thawed

1 cup each of: parsley, basil, cilantro

1/2 C pine nuts

1/3 C grated parmesan (but you should add more!  I’m going to note that I got Parmigiano Reggiano aka the “real stuff” at Mariano’s for $15 a pound, which is unheard-of cheap for Chicago)

1 garlic clove

2 T lemon juice

1/4 C olive oil

1 lb asparagus

1 package fresh pasta

Blend the edamame through olive oil in a food processor.

Boil water, add the asparagus, then when that’s almost done, add the pasta to finish both at the same time.  Making sure to reserve the cooking water, strain the pasta over a bowl.

Put the pesto in a saucepan, and stir in the reserved cooking water til you reach your desired consistency.  Then add back your pasta/asparagus and toss to coat.


Recipe: Thai Butternut Soup

Hello readers!  I apologize for the silence this past week.  This second half of March is gearing up to be overwhelmingly busy thanks to work plus weekend trips (one for work, one for fun…but I’ll probably be bringing work to it!)  so I am not sure I will be doing much posting before April.  But I’ll try my best when I can!

I made this soup Sunday night and it was to. die. for.  I pinned it a bit back and thought, well, cooking from my pinterest is sorta like cooking from my cookbooks, right?  Let’s not talk about how many pins I have that I haven’t done anything with!  The majority of my pinterest is recipes….I’d guess easily 90%, and I have over 1,600 pins, so, yeah, a lot of recipes there.

I tried photographing it but it turned out just horribly, so I’m using the picture provided courtesy Cooking Light.



Here is a link to the recipe.

I’ll note that I did not have cilantro in the house so skipped that (Plus, I notice J. is not a huge fan of cilantro.  I am, but I know it is  a polarizing herb).  Also, I didn’t have peanuts, so I swirled in a heaping tablespoon of PB out of the jar.

This will undoubtedly become a repeat recipe for me.

Also, it could easily be made vegan.  Swap vegetable stock for chicken stock, and check out this vegan fish sauce.  I think I will try that fish sauce myself.  Who knows what’s really in the fish sauce I bought from the store….

Anyways, if you like curry and coconut milk and spice, run don’t walk to make this recipe!

High Five for Friday: Food Style

I was thinking this Friday would be as good a time as any to showcase some of my favorite culinary links.  These are all links that I use frequently and have influenced my cooking style.

1. The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do The Work

It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since the winter this recipe was published in the Times.  It was nearly impossible to read a cooking website without seeing no-knead bread featured during that winter.  I still make it all the time, and I still run into people who are new to it.  This is probably one of the least fussy bread recipes I’ve ever seen, and I’ve never had it come out flawed. I recommend it to anyone who wants a good crusty loaf of bread like what you’d get at a nice restaurant.

2.  SB Canning Homemade

Want to can the basics like jam, whole fruits, pickles, and tomatoes?  Want to go all out and can full meals, soups, and stews?   From the most basic water bath canning for beginners to long-term pressure canning, this site has it all.  I prefer it to the Ball site, and that’s saying something.

3. Ice Cream Recipe Creator from Fine Cooking

I LOVE this.  Take the basic technique, infuse, add, and mix in ingredients to generate your own custom ice cream recipe.  I have made some awesome ice creams with this–have fun!  Maybe I’ll make some soon….it will be a high of 40-something soon, time to break out the suntan lotion and beach hats, right?


I know, I know, I talk about Fitness Blender a lot on here.  But remember, I live in  city where the weather is barely above freezing on a good day, our sidewalks and streets are caked with ice and snow, and I mostly rely on trains and buses to get around.  Going to the gym is a pain in the ass this time of year.  I’m one week in on my 8-week workout plan for busy people and so far I really love it!  I’ve been eating pretty healthily too to go along with it.  This video helped me visualize all the stuff I’ve read about healthy eating.  When I go to the grocery store now, I think to myself, “Was this on Kelli and Daniel’s table?”

5. How to make a Shrub Syrup

Shrubs are a mix of vinegar, fruit, and sugar that you combine with sparkling water or booze to create a tart, fruity beverage.  I made a strawberry ginger one and a raspberry one this past summer, and I’ve been treating myself to them this past fall and winter.  I particularly loved the strawberry ginger and I plan on making homemade ginger ale soon.  Ginger ale/beer is one of my absolute favorite drinks!

I hope you liked these high five for friday recipes!  Enjoy your weekend!

Cooking from my Cookbooks: Tagine of Yam, Shallots, Carrots and Prunes

The second recipe of February comes from Tagines by Ghillie Basan.  Back in the days of yore before Amazon Prime I used to add cheap cookbooks to my orders to get them high enough for free shipping, if I was $5 or so away from that goal.  That’s how I picked this up–but I was also interested in the recipes, as I own nothing else Moroccan.

To cook a tagine, you don’t need the vessel of the same name.  I went with a medium sized cast iron dutch oven….I have a tagine from World Market but I read reviews of people who tried to cook with it and it did not go well.

This is a very thin cookbook coming in at under 70 pages. The recipes are meat-centered for the most part, with lots of lamb and fish recipes.  This vegetarian one caught my eye and it’s the first recipe I have made from this book.

Tagine of Shallot, Yam, Carrot, and Prunes

2-3 T olive oil with a pat of butter

1.5 inch piece of ginger, grated or finely chopped

1-2 cinnamon sticks or 1-2 t ground cinnamon

about 16 small shallots, peeled and chopped in half (or quarters if you can’t get small shallots)

1.75 lbs yam or sweet potato, in bite sized chunks

2 medium carrots, in bite sized chunks

3/4 C pitted prunes, coarsely chopped

1 T honey

2 C stock, chicken or vegetable

Cilantro and mint, for garnish

Heat the olive oil and butter in your cooking vessel of choice and add ginger and cinnamon.  Add the shallots and brown them.  Add the yams and carrots.  After 2 minutes, add the prunes and honey.  Then add stock and boil.

Reduce heat and cook for 25 minutes.  Stir in some of the cilantro and mint.  Add salt and pepper if desired, and cook down any remaining stock until the sauce is thick and sticky.  Serve over couscous and garnish with remaining herbs.

Recipe: No bake protein bars

These are great for breakfast and a piece of cake to make.  Four ingredients!  You need peanut butter, old fashioned oats, whey protein powder, and coconut cream.  I found all four ingredients at Trader Joe’s.  We went through a batch in a week, and they’ll be on my to-do list for the next few weekends, I suspect.


Click here for the recipe. Note: I used natural peanut butter, without sugar. I found it’s best if you add a few tablespoons of honey to the recipe. However if you use pb with sugar added, you might not need it.

Cooking from my Cookbooks: Cherry Cheddar Bar Cookies

This recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated cookbook, America’s Best Lost Recipes. It interested me for two reasons–one, I had cherry preserves left over from canning this summer, and two, I love salty and sweet together.  So I thought I’d give this a try:


  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup cherry jam or preserves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on two sides. Grease the foil.

Pulse first four ingredients in a food processor to combine.  Add the butter and cheese, pulse into crumbs.

Press half the dough into the prepared pan (save remaining dough for topping). Bake 15 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, but don’t turn off the oven!

Spread jam over the crust. Press the other half of the dough on top.  Bake until the top is golden, about 25-30 minutes. Cool completely in pan–I forgot to do this, so mine cracked a bit.

Use foil to lift cookies from pan. Cut into bars.


Verdict:  These are pretty good.  They’re not great…the flour to butter ratio seems to be too high on the flour side IMO.  Or maybe it’s that they need more sugar?  However, I do think the cheddar adds a nice tang and I’m really tempted to try adding cheddar to a different fruit bar recipe, one with more going on in the crust.  I have a different bar recipe, from Baking Illustrated, and maybe I’ll tinker with the idea there.

EDIT: These are much better the second day!  They were a hit at the office.  The bar seems to gel together more, and create more of a shortbread.