Archive for the ‘food/recipes’ Category

brown butter bars

brown butter bars

The spring rain in these parts has been turning to snow more often than not. And I’ve been trying to celebrate the good bits of winter before they are gone for good. Granted sometimes it’s done with gritted teeth, like when I’m putting on my coat and hat and scarf and mittens for the bajillionth time, but hot chocolate is still delicious even if it is April. Baking a batch of these nutty, jammy bars warms up the house, makes it smell delicious and they are just right with coffee.  All the good, cozy things about winter and they taste pretty damn good too.

browning the butter

I combined a few different recipes to make these bars–one called them breakfast another dessert, so feel free to eat them all day. The biggest change I made was to brown the butter before I added it to the rest of the ingredients. If you’ve never done this before you will soon find yourself searching out ways to add brown butter to everything. Seriously, it’s like butter only better. To make it, put the butter in a light colored pan (so you can see it brown) and wait, stirring now and then, until it melts, then stops spitting and sputtering and turns a lovely dark shade of brown–about the color of maple syrup. Then take it off the heat right away so your lovely butter doesn’t turn black.

brown butter bars

You can have your kids mix up all the dry ingredients while you cook the butter, then pour the butter in, scraping all those good browned bits off the bottom of the pan and into the bowl.  Actually your kids could probably do most everything. It’s dead easy: press two thirds of the dough in a pan, slap some jam on top and crumble the rest of the dough on top. It’s the perfect recipe to play around with too. You could use apricot jam and a little cardamom, or grind up pecans instead of almond flour and maybe even find some peach jam. Whatever you have in your cupboard is going to make these delicious, so you don’t really have much of an excuse to not make them right now. Unless it’s summer where you are right now, in which case poo on you.

brown butter bars

brown butter bars

  • 1 1/4 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup almond flour (or whichever nut you’d like, ground up fine)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tea salt
  • zest of one orange
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, browned
  • 1 cup jam

Combine all of the ingredients except the butter and jam in a large bowl. Brown the butter: cut butter in pieces and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the milk solids (the little bits at the bottom) turn a deep brown color.  Quickly take it off the heat and pour it into the dry ingredients, scraping the pan into the bowl. Mix. Press two thirds of the dough into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper. Spread the jam on top and crumble the rest of the dough over it. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned. Cool and cut into squares.

This recipe can easily be doubled and baked in a 13×9 cake pan. It’s pretty much my go to “shit! I need to bring a snack for preschool tomorrow!” recipe.


I wanted to make a little something for all the people who helped us out while we were gone on our trip (thanks guys!), so I made two big batches of brownies. Nick Malgieri’s supernatural brownies have been my basic recipe for a few years, mostly because it has a ton of chocolate in it and not very much flour–because really it’s not about eating cake it’s about eating chocolate buttery goodness. They were good, but not as good as I remembered. Luckily I just found a brownie recipe with just as much chocolate and even less flour (1/4 cup) in David Lebovitz’s new book Ready for Dessert. These I might not share at all.

And I found these perfect little plates to put the brownies on while I was at the thrift store. They look Dutch, don’t they? but they actually say Lad n’ Lassie on the back. So, Happy St. Patrick’s day I guess? Now go make some brownies.

Supernatural Brownies

from the New York Times

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado
1 cup granulated sugar (I would say 1/2 cup is probably enough, unless you use super crazy dark chocolate)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 3/4 cup whole walnuts, optional.

1. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.

2. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. If using chopped walnuts, stir them in. Pour batter into prepared pan. If using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack.

Yield: 15 large or 24 small brownies.

sledding party

sledding party buffet

We celebrated my little boy’s fourth birthday this past weekend–a week late. On his actual birthday we were all too sick, or if not sick then too crabby, to do much of anything.  But this week we were better! We ventured out of the house! And we had a sledding party!


My son actually came up with the idea (is he secretly reading crafty blogs?) while we were in Hawaii oddly enough. And it seemed perfect: the sky had just dumped ridiculous amounts of snow on the midwest. But then we got back and it was 40 degrees and you could see the grass! In February!  The day before the party it snowed a few fluffy inches, just enough to fly down the hill on. Thank you weather.

homemade marshmallow favors for the sledding party

It was a small party, so making favors was a pleasure rather than a production. We made vanilla marshmallows, which we packaged in waxed paper bags all prettied up with snowflakes. I doubled my friend Lily’s recipe for hot cocoa mix only used regular sugar and threw in a few teaspoons of salt for good measure.  Some of the hot cocoa mix went into jars I scrounged up and with the rest I made a vat of hot chocolate for the party. And then made a vat of whipped cream to go with it.

hot cocoa mix and whipped cream

Obviously, I stole the tail gating idea from Courtney and actually I think this was the first time I’ve ever even been to a tail gate party. Not a lot of sports fans in the family.  It is awesome (if you didn’t know). And it is super awesome for a little kid’s party. They just come and go when they please, while you help yourself to another spoonful of whipped cream in your coffee. dontmindifIdo.

Slowly everyone’s toes froze and it was time to go home. But before that there was much sledding and snacking and frosting on faces. I say it was a success and my big four year old boy says so too.

breakfast and lunch

breakfast: strawberries picked by my kids this summer, warmed with some brown sugar and poured over hot oatmeal. It was like summer and winter all rolled into one.


lunch: cloud sandwiches. A friend brought over some beautiful challah he baked, so we made cloud sandwiches–no cutter required.

p.s. I updated the short list (of links) on the right–take a peek.

christmas cookies

christmas cookies close up

There have been some lovely things coming out of the oven these days. I always tell myself I won’t make a thousand kinds of cookies this year, but then well: there are the ones I always make and the ones my mom used to make and the favorite ones from last year and the new recipe I found this year. I kind of like getting carried away, but the problem is that I tend to favor the extra complicated cookies at christmastime and I come away never wanting to see another cookie again. This year that hasn’t happened. yet.

christmas cookies

fig pinwheels: these were a favorite from a few years back but they are less exciting to me now. The dough is super delicious, but the filling is too figgy. I think next year I’ll make it with dates and orange peel.

english toffee: always good.

hazelnut thumbprints: I made these last year and didn’t give any away because they were so good. This year I made a double batch (so I could share) and filled them all with apricot jam.

basler brunsli: I think these are Swiss cookies? They are chocolate and almond and rum and so grown up and wonderful. I’m going to share the recipe with you next week.

alfajores: this was a new one for me this year and blazzam! they are amazing. Two little flaky cookies, like barely sweetened pie crust with dulche de leche inside. awesome.

mexican hot chocolate cookies: these are new to me too and they are lame. The cookies are boring and not spicy at all. Oh well, there has to be one crummy recipe every year.

gingerbread and ganache sandwich men: I think gingerbread and chocolate are the best together, so I made these little sandwiches. How could they not be good?

cookies packaged up

All of the cookies I’ve made so far are packaged up and ready to go, but I’m working on another list: christmas cookies just for us. So far I have down these (which I make every year) and these (which are a perfect new twist on an old christmas favorite).