Tuesday, November 29, 2011

12 days of cookies: Day 3 - Black and white cookies

Another day, but not just another cookie.  This is the famed black and white cookie, or half and half cookie as some may know it.  It's super popular in the New York City area; in fact, the first time I ever saw one was in an episode of Sex and the City.  But of course.

Monday, November 28, 2011

12 days of Cookies: Day 2 - Orange creamsicle

It's the Monday after a long and glorious holiday weekend.  The temperatures are in the 60s here in balmy Pittsburgh and Christmas seems so far away.  But, one look at the 10 day forecast and you'll see that winter (aka snow!) is just around the corner.  That means it's time to start your ovens and get to baking cookies!

The second recipe in this series is for one of Matt's favorite cookies and one of my very first original Katy recipes - the orange creamsicle cookie or, as Matt deemed it, the creamsicookie! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

The 12 days of Cookies: Day 1 - Oatmeal raisin

Happy black Friday, friends!  If you're like me and looking to avoid the chaos that's at the malls today, might I suggest a better endeavor?  Get out the boxes of Christmas decorations, start decking the halls, and get an early start on your holiday baking!

Because, really, this is totally my favorite time of the year.  Parties and gifts galore, wonderful food, and friends who make you want to install a revolving door at your house so the visitors keep comin' :)  It's that spirit that has inspired me to feature a special series of blog posts for you:

My 12 most favorite cookie recipes all in one place for you and your baking desires.  I'm starting a bit early so that you have plenty of time to stock up on sugar, spice, and ingredients so nice (cough Nutella cough).

First up is my all-time most favorite cookie and one that has loads of meaning to me.  Oatmeal raisin cookies!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy travels, happy people, happy eats, happy times to all of you! :o)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chocolate chip pecan pie

Because I can't leave well enough alone, I had to give you another dessert.  I know there are more than enough ideas here, but are you really going to fault me for giving you just one more?  I think not.  Especially when it's a pecan pie with chocolate chips!  In other words, my new favorite pie.  Hands down, no contest.

I've made pecan pies before, and they've been darn good.  Disappearing good.  But not great.  Pecan pies have the reputation of being too gooey and runny, and so sweet that your teeth ache with only a few bites.  And those whole nuts on the top of the pie?  Gorgeous, sure, but a nightmare to cut through for pretty slices.  Nothing pisses me off more than an ugly piece of mediocre pie served to guests.

What?  Some folks have road rage.  I have pie problems :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pepperoni pizza burgers

Because you're going to be eating yummy Thanksgiving leftovers for days.  Turkey sandwiches.  Turkey pot pie.  Turkey paninis!  Stuffing sandwiches.  Yes, carb on top of carb... seriously, try it!  And all of the fixin's for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Delicious, comforting food that'll have you rummaging for your Thanksgiving pants ASAP.

In light of this turkey surplus, I thought we could all use a dinner idea that's a bit un-Thanksgiving-y that won't involve you phoning the local pizza joint.  Oh, but you'll still get the same flavors you love about pizza.  Intrigued?  Mm hmm.

Friday, November 18, 2011

10 Tasty Thanksgiving side dishes & desserts

That's the no-brainer!  But what about the supporting cast?  We're heading into the biggest food shopping weekend of the year (this is my guess, anyway), when it's common to see shelves cleared of bread and canned green beans.  Before you make your list and check it twice, I want to share some of my very favorite Thanksgiving fixin's in case you've come here looking for inspiration :) 

As guests are arriving and mingling, you don't need much in the way of small bites, but a batch of my mom's disappearing chicken dip with some veggies and crackers will hold over kids and adults until lunch/dinner.  What time do you eat?  Is it more of a lunch or a later dinner?  Our family usually sits down around 2... that way there is time for a post-meal nap before dessert and football!

Believe it or not, the side dishes are totally my favorite part of the big feast.  Turkey is delish, sure, but it's the enormous buffet surrounding the bird that really makes my mouth water.

For the kids, vegetarians, and people who (like me) love carbs like there is no tomorrow, have a batch of crowd-pleasing mac and cheese ready:

    A Kemp family Thanksgiving dinner wouldn't be complete without an array of pies, especially apple crumb and sour cherry.  But, hey, don't limit your dessert vision to pies.  Any (or, ahem, all) of these sweet endings are sure to satisfy the sweet tooth in everyone!

    What's your favorite Thanksgiving meal dish?  Good luck shopping this weekend! 

    Two Years Ago: Basic buttercream icing

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Tomato vegetable casserole

    Matt is quite a catch, let me tell you.

    He makes me laugh all the time, challenges me, and is the most caring and selfless person I know.  He's super handy around the apartment and will pretty much eat anything I put in front of him without any complaints.  It's a good thing because we're getting married in, whoh, 23 days!

    As far as food goes, he has only two serious dislikes: cucumbers and black olives.  And he's not crazy about broccoli, but will gladly devour it with enough cheese and seasonings.  Matt's always willing to try anything and readily succumbs to the "close your eyes and open your mouth" new recipe test.  Let's add "way too trusting of Katy" to his list of wonderful qualities.

    Regardless of whatever meals I impose on him, he is still a man.  And men love meat, choosing a steak over vegetables 100% of the time.  So I try to keep this in mind when I plan dinners.  While I may be okay with pasta and a salad for the night, he's gotta have protein.  Meal plans regularly have entries like this: "Monday - fall harvest salad with apples, walnuts, roasted butternut squash, goat cheese -- add chicken for Matt."

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Caramel-stuffed apple cider cookies

    I'm an emotional eater.  Think about it -- aren't most of us?  I'm not talking emotional as in, "Oh my gosh, I'm so upset about the crappy day I've been served up, so I'm going to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream all by myself."  I save feats like that for happier moods, ha!

    Honestly, though, I'm the kind of eater who has lots of feelings tied up in food and culinary-related things.  Tastes that bring back cherished memories.  Fried Oreos make me think of light-up night in downtown Pittsburgh.  Dairy Queen soft serve cones with rainbow sprinkles take me back to tennis lessons with my dad when I was young.  And fresh sushi rolls make me long for sunny California, where I first tried it.

    No matter how big or small, food as the ability to transport me to anywhere or anytime.  Even a humble little cookie.  

    And, especially, a totally yummy cookie with a sweet and chewy surprise hidden in the middle.  Caramel stuffed apple cider cookies!  Get ready to tune out those unseasonably (and so freakin' random!) warm temperatures because one bite is going to have you clamoring for the closest blanket and a cuddle buddy.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Wheelin' and dealin'

    I have a cookie recipe for you that just couldn't wait any longer... but it must.  Last night when I planned to do some blogging, I was busy...

    Buying my very first car!!!  (still in shock slash jumping up and down)  A 2012 Hyundai Accent GLS in mocha bronze (who comes up with these color names anyway?).  Her name is Ava :o)

    But, let's be honest, you don't come here to read about my new wheels.  You come for cookies.  Tomorrow there will be cookies, friends.  Scout's honor!

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Cranberry, turkey & cheddar panini sandwich

    Have I yet mentioned how much I love my new Cuisinart Griddler that I received a few weeks ago at my bridal shower?  No?  Let me count the ways...

    1. It's a panini press, grill, and griddle all in one!
    2. Cleaning is a cinch -- pop off the plates, wash, and towel dry.  Easy peasy.
    3. I feel so gosh darn cutting edge using this.  I once envied Giada every time she'd whip up a panini and press it with ease.  Now look at me!  Giada better watch out, giant smile and all.
    4. Storage is a breeze.  No worries about scratching the nonstick surfaces because the whole thing folds up and protects itself.
    5. The temperature settings on it are legit.  Some griddles have ambiguous settings of "warm, warmer, hot"... what is that?!  Oh yes, I'd like my burger done "hot" please.  Lame.

    All of those are dandy reasons on their own (seriously, you must get your own Griddler), but if you still need more, particularly something visually tempting, this is for you.  100% my new favorite sandwich -- the Thanksgiving panini!

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Pork chops with cranberry sauce

    I love to plan.  And, truth be told, I'm pretty great at it.  As far as meals go, you know that I work in one week increments, and it works well most of the time.  But, sometimes, I even outdo myself.  Stupid self, setting the bar so high.

    Last week I made this scrumptious (and oh-so-simple) cranberry sauce for pork chops.  And there was some left, so I saved it.  And I used it again last night for another rockstar of a recipe.  I'm not sure which was better.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself, so I'll save that recipe for later.  Back to the chops.

    Pork chops are such a tricky cut of meat.  So many folks (myself included) fear the overcooked dry and rubbery slabs of pork from our grade school cafeterias of long ago.  Sweet lunch ladies would then dump some can of mysterious gravy over said pork chops in an effort to rescue them.  Someone should've told them that said slop would've managed to ruin even the best steak in the world.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Butternut squash mac & cheese

    Let me tell you a funny thing about being an amateur cook -- you're still an amateur!  There is still a chance that those should-be-in-a food-hall-of-fame dishes I saw on TV won't look and taste quite like they should when I attempt them in my own kitchen.  Let's face facts: I have no formal training in food.  I'm not raining on my own parade.  I just myself an optimistic realist.  Make sense? :)

    Thankfully, I haven't yet encountered any true culinary disasters.  Yes, there have been dishes that don't taste that great and baking endeavors that I wouldn't photograph, but nothing truly inedible.  ("Thank goodness!" says Matt.)  Then again, I haven't really pushed the envelope when it comes to my cooking.  I save that stuff for the restaurants I frequent, usually ordering items I'll most likely never create it at home.  There's a fine line between a challenge and garbage-bound food.  As I get older, I become more and more aware of what I am (and am not) capable.

    But, at some point, you grow tired of saving recipes for a rainy day, no matter how out of the box they are.  The kind of rainy day that affords you extra prep time, an infinite supply of perseverance, all of the ingredients at arm's length, and the willpower not to snack whilst cooking.  I know myself and can safely say all three of those things will never ever happen.  Cough snacking cough.  Again, just keepin' it real.