Monday, October 31, 2011

Chili lime chicken with black bean & corn salad

It's the sweetest day of the year and you're desperately trying to figure out what to have for dinner so you get something substantial in your stomach before the glorious sugar overload begins.  (Or, perhaps it's the finale to weeks of sampling the candy dish in your office... ahem.)

Contrary to my frequent unfulfilled wishes, candy is not an appropriate meal substitute. 

Here's a super quick meal you can whip up in 20 minutes that will leave you feeling satisfied and ready to attack the pile of sweets without an excess of guilt-- chili lime chicken and black bean and corn salad.  Summery (pffffff October) southwest flavors for the win!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Red velvet cake pops

I present to you red velvet cake pops, some in the (relative) shape of ghosts!

Let me say how much more respect I have for the acclaimed Bakerella and other homemade cake pop artists!  She has practically made cake pops the "it" item in the baking world this past year.  Do yourself a favor and check out her masterpieces.  They are uh-maze-ing!

Mine?  Well, maybe not the prettiest little ghosts you've ever seen.  In fact, I'd say they are quite ghastly.

It's scary how pathetic-looking they are!

I'm frightened by the sight of them!

But, do you know what an ugly cake pop tastes like?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The blog's 2nd birthday!

Happy birthday to me Baking, domesticity, and all things mini!  I can hardly believe that exactly two years ago, I launched this little project.  We're into the terrible terribly adventurous and delicious twos now :)

I celebrated my blog-iversary the only way I thought would be appropriate -- searching out a new baking challenge for myself, making miniature sweets, and sharing them with you!  And, I suppose you can check the box next to "domesticity", too, since I wore an apron during assembly and took said miniature sweets to a tailgating party.  Yes, yes, and heck yes!

One little glitch -- said tailgate was for a late evening Pitt game last night and this girl didn't walk in her door until after midnight.  So, the cake pops will have to wait until tomorrow.  For now, browse through some of my favorite recipes from the last year:

11-8-10 Breakfast apple granola crisp
11-17-10 Real meatballs
12-13-10 - Breakfast pizza
1-5-11 White chocolate covered Ritz Bitz sandwiches 
2-4-11 Black (and gold) bottom cupcakes
2-24-11 Simple bolognese with rigatoni
2-25-11 Peanut butter cup crunch brownies
3-31-11 Coconut chicken
3-29-11 The best cinnamon rolls in the world
5-10-11 Monte Cristo sandwich
5-16-11 Monster cookies
5-23-11 Spring asparagus bacon hash
6-15-11 Classic French onion soup
7-6-11 Watermelon, arugula, and goat cheese salad with balsamic glaze
7-22-11 Corn and tomato pie
8-18-11 Homemade Oreos
8-23-11 Ham and cheese in puff pastry
8-25-11 Bacon-wrapped potato wedges
9-8-11 Favorite lasagna
9-13-11 Pumpkin whoopie pies

10-5-11 Beef taco salad with chunky tomato dressing

Looking back at everything I've made and done this past year --  I'd forgotten just how much -- I am reminded of my never-ending love for food and, more so, sharing said love with kind folks like you!  You keep me going and constantly inspire me, so I must thank you :)

One Year Ago: Happy 1st birthday to me!
Two Years Ago: The beginning

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Back to basics

My name is Katy.

Hi, Katy.

And I have an enormous crush on Ina Garten.  Like, want to be friends with her.  A typical day would go like this: Ina and I would visit the local fish monger and small food specialty shops in East Hampton/Pittsburgh's strip district, maybe doing a little shopping for denim shirts and pearls as well.  We'd cook in our brightly-lit kitchens, plating up food on classic white place settings.  Then, we'd welcome our husbands (hers, Jeffrey, and mine-to-be, Matt, obvs) home from their jobs in education (they're friends, too, of course) and have fabulous themed dinners with glowing conversation, chuckling amongst ourselves something absolutely hilarious that we heard earlier that day. 

So, maybe enormous isn't the right word.  #inalove

From that same fascinating woman comes a short and sweet interview with the Barefoot Contessa herself.  For someone as accomplished and famous as her, it's so refreshing to see she keeps it simple in the kitchen!

"The party is only as happy as the host. I learned this the hard way at one of the first parties I ever threw. It was a brunch, and I decided to make omelets for everyone. I never got out of the kitchen — and I didn't have another party for a year. I tell people when they're hosting to make a menu out of recipes you know really well and to pick up something at the bakery for a great dessert. It's a much better party if the food is simple and you're relaxed.

Having a man who can cook is overrated. My husband, Jeffrey, makes the coffee, that's it. It's more important to have one person who cooks and another person who appreciates it.

Even better than chicken soup for the soul: Homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese, with grown-up cheeses like Gruyère and extra-sharp cheddar. I made this for a friend recently who was upset and hadn't eaten in a week. She devoured it!

Food tastes best when it's properly salted. That means salting it a little at a time throughout the entire cooking process, not just at the end. It enhances the flavor of whatever you're cooking and makes food taste seasoned — not salty.

Gratitude is the best hostess gift. I always send flowers or a note the next day to express my appreciation.

Cook with your heart! They say that gardens look better when they are created by loving gardeners rather than by landscapers, because the garden is more tended to and cared for. The same thing goes for cooking. I only cook for people I love."


If you could befriend one celebrity chef or food personality, who would it be and why?  Mine's obvious, but Alton Brown is a close second.  Nerdy food love!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin ginger snaps

Well, hello there, comrades!  I've got a question for you.  Just one question.  So, dig deep within your souls and be prepared to answer honestly.  Ready?

Ready, Freddie.

Are you sick of pumpkin yet?

I ask this because I've got a mind-blowing recipe for pumpkin gingersnaps that will, um, blow your mind!  I mean, these cookies will cure whatever ails you.  Be it the first round of the flu, it's-only-Tuesday-itis, or a why-won't-the-weather-cooperate-for-my-friends'-wedding-on-Saturday worry.  I'm still working on a term for don't-want-to-work-just-want-to-exercise-and-bake-all-day-itis.  Any suggestions?

Oh!  The cookies.  Yes, the cookies.  They'll fix all of those problems.  I did promise that.  Aren't they pretty?  So, are you sick of pumpkin yet?

If you answered "yes" that you couldn't stand another pumpkin recipe... Tough cookies!  Trust me when I say that you aren't quite finished with all things pumpkin until you've had these cookies!  They aren't too pumpkin-y.  In fact, they taste more like a warm spiced cookie.  The kind that will play nicely with either a tall glass of cold milk or a steaming cup of herbal tea.  And the pumpkin added to the dough merely lends a chewy and moist texture to the delicately sugared cookie.  A perfect culinary transition from the sugary celebrations of Halloween to the warm and cozy season of giving thanks.

If you answered "no" because you are begging for more ghourdly good confections... My allies!  You who can't get enough of our favorite member of the squash family need no real convincing, but please permit me to harp just a bit.  These cookies have velvety pumpkin puree to thank for the oh-so-chewy texture with a tiny crunch on the outside from the bath in sugar.  As if that weren't enough to send your taste buds into a jealous fit, the portable treats are bursting with fall flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and yummy ginger.  Love!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin gooey butter cakes

If you couldn't guess by now, I really love food and documenting my adventures with it!  The funny thing is this -- even if I didn't have a public outlet for sharing those things, I'd still take more pictures of food than some folks do of their children.  #sadbecauseitstrue

But, sometimes, it's really really fun!  I get a little carried away with the pictures and then go b-a-n-a-n-a-s over the subject of said photography.  Like, carrying a plate of dessert and a hacky sack pumpkin all around my apartment, using various props and lighting in different rooms.  Fiddling with my humble camera's settings and adding more specs to my fantasy someday-I'll-cough-up-the-serious-dough-to-buy-it camera.

Whatever the reasons, I suppose you can say that I'm really proud of my creations in the kitchen.  Especially when they look and taste like this: pumpkin gooey bars!

Note: Watchful florescent pumpkin is not for consumption.

It was like glamour shots, food edition, invaded my apartment the other night.  I couldn't stop! Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you how it all began.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chocolate pudding dump cake

I shouldn't have.

But I wanted to.

Really wanted to.

All I needed was a reason.

I finally got one -- our friend Marc's birthday!

So, that thing I wanted to do.... I finally did it!

What did I do, exactly?

Made the most sinful, decadent, so-good-that-it-must-be-bad-for-you chocolate cake ever!!!

And, uh, I have a confession regarding said chocolate phenomenon.

It's homemade! in, made in my home.

But not from scratch.

Viva la boxes!  These boxes.

I did my research and was informed that this is the best chocolate cake mix.

It lived up to the hype.

And these boxes worked wonders... with my help of course.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Virgin mimosa a.k.a. the famosa

It's a Saturday morning and you're waking up at a later-than-usual hour to enjoy a relaxed and possibly decadent breakfast.  Some eggs, maybe French toast, fresh fruit, possibly a pastry -- go nuts, it's the weekend!  You're not a fan of coffee and regular juice just won't cut it.  Wouldn't it be nice to sip on a fancy little drink without taking off your pajamas and leaving the comforts of home?

Mm hmm.

Or, hey, it's a Monday morning, and you had a great weekend.  "Wasn't it fun?" you recall.  But, now it's Monday and time to return to the weekly routine.  If only you could give yourself a little something to put some pep in your step.

Wouldn't that be nice.

There's only one thing to do.  Make yourself a famosa!  A what, you ask?  Say it with me -- fuh-mow-suh!  Like mimosa, but with a new first syllable.

What's a famosa?  A fake mimosa, of course!  But, more importantly, what's IN a famosa?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Beef taco salad with chunky tomato dressing

According to Wendy's, it's there.  Don't you love that the company has revived it's famous slogan from 1984?  I hear that was quite a great year :)

Finding myself in search of beef but not quite willing to give in to fast food so early in the week (it was only Tuesday!), I thanked my lucky stars and planning prowess that I had the makings for a spicy and hearty beef dish.

Beef taco salad!  Trust me.  You want to make this right now.  So glad I dismissed that craving for Wendy's because this was a million times better!... and without any guilt!!

Smoky seasoned lean ground beef and black beans.  Crisp chopped romaine hearts.  Sharp white cheddar cheese.  Yum!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Healthier apple muffins

At the beginning of my freshman year of college, I did what any kid new to living on her own would do -- went absolutely crazy with the freedom to do whatever I want... staying up late, getting ice cream for dinner, you get the idea.  All relatively tame things :)

But the biggest change in my lifestyle that year was discovering that my eating habits were totally and completely my own.  No longer was I required to adapt to an entire family's dining routine or eat what was being served.  If I wanted to eat an early dinner before night class or wait until noon for breakfast on a weekend, nobody was going to stop me.  And, if I wanted to indulge in the dining hall options including Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Subway, and my weight in chicken tenders, watch out world.

But, as you could probably guess, I was one minor injury away from packing the infamous 15 pounds onto my petite freshman frame.  Luckily, I kept up my exercise habits throughout this period of culinary liberation, but even that might not have saved me from death by muffins... and a potential muffin-top.