• pie crust recipe vodka
    Dessert

    Fake it till you bake it

    When it comes to pie crust, I’m the first to reach for that trusty store-bought Pillsbury. But when Bon Appetit tells you to go homemade, and to put vodka in the dough, you listen. You listen hard. And then you get the most impossibly tender, flaky, perfect pie crust of your LIFE. In addition to the recipe itself, I’m giving you a few additional directives … Tips for a perfect homemade pie crust: Vodka is necessary because, well, SCIENCE. The liquid helps keep the dough pliable and workable without over-developing the gluten. It cooks off in the oven, leaving a flaky, layered crust. Cut the butter into small pieces, about…

  • bear hug cookies
    Cooking Tips,  Dessert,  Holidays,  Recipes

    5 steps to perfect royal icing sugar cookies

    I always get suckered into those point-of-purchase-displayed royal icing sugar cookies. You know, the ones at Starbucks, decorated in the theme of the nearest popular holiday? That hard, sugary icing gets me EVERY. TIME. Upon investigation a few years back, I discovered that recreating these diabetic-coma-inducing treats seemed like way too much work, so I abstained from homemade in favor of the overpriced coffee-shop variety. But after my macaron-baking adventure, I gained some newfound patience in the baking department and decided to give it a whirl. Just like the macarons, royal icing sugar cookies are an art and a science—and almost every recipe out there completely oversimplified things, especially when…

  • Appetizers,  Beverages,  Dessert,  Holidays,  Recipes,  Sandwiches

    Gourmet game day

    The best thing about game-day parties is the excuse to stuff your face and guzzle beer with zero guilt. Don’t show up to your Super Bowl party empty-handed. Seriously, don’t be that guy/gal. I’ve even taken you half of the way there, with this handy-dandy Super Bowl recipe list: You can thank me in free game-day betting squares. Dips Jalapeno popper dip Greek 7-layer dip Loaded bake potato dip Hot spinach dip White queso dip Sliders and sammies Spicy whiskey BBQ sliders Out-of-this-world veggie burgers Cheeseburger sliders Fried pizza sandwiches Philly cheesesteak with garlic aioli Crock Pot faves Slow-cooker carnitas Crock Pot picante chicken Crock Pot chicken, rice and green…

  • Appetizers,  Dessert,  Gluten free,  Paleo,  Recipes

    A little nutty

    This diet that is. And how I begin to feel after a day of forcing down handfuls of baby carrots, hard-boiled eggs, oranges and boatloads of bacon. OK, so that last one isn’t so bad. Still, it’s nice to come home and grab for a handful of these sweet little nut clusters. It seems to put a band-aid on almost every Paleo-induced side effect. Carb cravings. Candy cravings. That unpleasant, heartburn-y, “queasy from eating too many raw, undressed vegetables” pit-in-my-stomach feeling (am I the only one that gets this, by the way?) Best of all, it’s super easy and arguably pretty healthy. Cavemen (and women)—forage your nuts! (Told you this…

  • Breakfast,  Dessert,  Recipes

    A bracket I can get behind

    When it comes to sweet sixteen brackets, I don’t have the best of luck. For me, March Madness begins with as much naive excitement as the locker room of your favorite Cinderella team … and ends with crushed dreams and a $50 deficit in my bank account. Here’s to hoping that the Solo Foods Sweetest 16 recipe contest—the focus of this post—brings happier results. Fortunately (I think), my fate rests in the hands of you, my FANTASTIC readers … As one of 16 (duh) bloggers chosen to participate in the contest, I was tasked with creating a dessert with at least one Solo Foods ingredient. Armed with pie fillings galore, I set…

  • Appetizers,  Dessert,  Entrees,  Holidays,  Recipes,  Side Dishes

    A haunting in Roscoe Village

    I like horror—maybe a little too much, judging by my Netflix queue. Many a night, Dave flings the bedroom door open to find me in the glow of some weird B-grade horror movie. What can I say, I love things that are a little sick and twisted. Which is why I say, screw the cutesy Halloween decor—give me fake bugs and terrifying zombie props. Scouring Pinterest, I found some equally spooky Halloween bites: Spider web dip Refried beans, covered in a layer of guacamole, surrounded by a ring of salsa and shredded cheese, decorated with a “spider web” of sour cream. I put the sour cream in a plastic bag,…

  • Cooking Tips,  Dessert

    Macaron mania

    When it comes to baking, I can get a little obsessed. Exhibit A. So when I decided to make notoriously tempermental macarons, I had the sneaking suspicion that it wouldn’t be a one-and-done deal. Still, I had NO IDEA what an art—and a science—it actually was. I dove in naively at first, using what I now know to be a laughably imprecise recipe that does beginning macaron makers NO favors. Thanks a lot, Martha. Regardless, my first batch of lavender-lemon macarons came out half decent, considering I used totally inexact measurements, unsifted almond meal and under-mixed batter. More on that later. Anyway, I chalk the fact that my macarons had any…

  • Cooking Tips,  Dessert,  Recipes

    Orange overload

    Orange is not my favorite color. Not by a long shot. Unfortunately, I now have no choice but to embrace it—as my company’s new branding revolves around a wildly intense shade of it. My vehement protest against the change was to no avail, so I’ve adopted the if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em mentality. A turning point in this acceptance came after baking this little beauty for the agency rebranding celebration: Not only did it turn out beautifully, but I won the party’s orange food contest (a small consolation for having to stare at the orange, agency-branded coffee mugs, drinking glasses and other tchotchkes that have recently infiltrated my workplace). This post isn’t a recipe,…

  • Dessert,  Holidays,  Recipes

    ‘Tis the season …

    … for lots and lots of butter. That’s right. Even more than usual. I’m talking pounds of it. Restaurant-size vats. Because it’s time for my famous saltine cracker toffee. A quartet of the most nutritionally devoid—yet dangerously irresistible—ingredients on the planet: chocolate, refined carbs, sugar and BUTTAH. This is a combination more addictive than crack, and as a holiday present, it beats the hell out of scented shower gel and Christmas-shaped loofas. You’ll need: A couple sleeves of saltine crackers 1 cup of butter 1 cup of brown sugar 2 cups of chocolate chips (your choice of white, milk or dark chocolate) Nuts, sprinkles or other toppings of your choice…

  • Appetizers,  Beverages,  Cooking Tips,  Dessert,  Entrees,  Holidays,  Recipes,  Side Dishes

    The one day a year when bingeing is socially acceptable …

    … is nearly upon us!! Hip-hip-hooray!!! As far as food goes, holidays don’t get much better than Thanksgiving. Last year’s Thanksgiving post pretty much covers things so I’m posting the link again (hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). There’s also my Southwest Thanksgiving post and the Paula Deen post to give you a little turkey-day inspiration. Also keep an eye out for a special Thanksgiving Day post. Happy gorging!