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Survivor Cookies + A Survivor

May 10, 2010

There was a little girl

Who had a little curl

Right in the middle of her forehead…


But what happens when a 17 year old “little girl” realizes she has a lump in her neck?

What happens when cancer takes that curl away?

These are not things most of us think about. Not unless our lives have been personally affected by cancer.  Whether it’s a parent, a friend, a family member. You.  The truth is, we’ve all been affected in some way.

A big way.

A small way.

Our own way.


So while many food blogs keep to their core idea of food with the occasional fundraiser to end world hunger or to end hunger right here in the US, I’m turning today to the Relay For Life.  The Relay is a fundraiser I hold close to my heart since my family walks to celebrate Mariah.

Mariah was that “little girl” who found that lump in her neck on the day that changed her life forever.  And here we are one year after the end of her Hodgkin’s Disease treatment getting ready to walk for her.  To walk to celebrate all of those survivors and to remember all of those who lost their battles.

To walk for life.

To walk to save lives.

To walk so that people…families. friends. neighbors. teachers. You. Can see cancer as a disease of the past in our lifetimes.

A dead disease.

Not a deadly one.


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Just look at how all of those curls grew back in!!

Here’s your opportunity.  Here’s your chance to give back to fight back.  I want you to challenge me to make and decorate 1 Survivor Cookie for every $5 you donate (up to 100 cookies – see photo above) to Smells Like Home’s Relay For Life fundraising campaign. Your donation goes to Relay For Life (via the American Cancer Society) and my donation will be all of the cookies going to Team: Mariah’s Our Survivor on the night of the Relay – hey, those walkers are gonna need some sugar aren’t they?!

Donate Here!!


Help me celebrate Mariah.

I’ll help you celebrate or remember _____.

(Fill in the blank with a comment below…and don’t forget to donate in the link above!)


BB: Jam Thumbprint Cookies

April 22, 2010

When I say I’ve been wanting to make these cookies for over 5 years, I’m not kidding.  Seriously, I printed this recipe off of FoodNetwork long before I knew the power of Ina’s recipes…long before I purchased any of her cookbooks…long before I was blogging…long before blogging was “in.”  The printed recipe somehow got lost in the shuffle of paperwork, made the move from our old house to this one, and periodically reappears in said paperwork when I’m looking for something or sorting through the “stuff.” For whatever reason, the recipe has yet to make it to the kitchen and into my rotation and I subsequently forget about it until I open up Family Style and remind myself that I need to make these cookies.  It never got done until this week.

And now I’m kicking myself for waiting so long because these were some of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.  And if you love shortbread as much as I do, you’ll agree with me. It took all I had in me not to keep eating these yesterday!  I wasn’t too sure about rolling the dough balls in coconut but I’m so glad I decided to because the toasted coconut added such a depth of flavor to the shortbread and jam that I was overwhelmed with delight.  As for the jam…of course there are tons of different flavors you can use.  Ina recommends raspberry and apricot, neither of which I had so I used strawberry and orange marmalade.  Now, I’m a full-on strawberry jam kind of girl but honestly, I didn’t love it in these cookies and I feel like the flavor almost got lost in the shortbread and coconut.  The marmalade on the other hand, was outstanding!  I know that some lemon or orange zest in the dough would be fantastic since the citrus jam “pops” amongst the other flavors.

Many many thanks to Cassandra of Foodie with Little Thyme for forcing me into finally making these fantastic little cookies!

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
  • Raspberry and/or apricot jam
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.

Fettuccine with Leeks and White Beans + Broiled Salmon

April 20, 2010

Sometimes it’s difficult to explain why I choose the meals I do each week.  This meal happened to pop up in a list of Spring pasta dishes I was looking at on the Martha Stewart website last week.  The list itself intrigued me since finding lighter pasta dishes that do not highlight lemon (since Kyle doesn’t love lemon nearly as much as I do) seems to be difficult. This wasn’t one of the typical light and Springy dishes but boy did it sound good!  And truthfully, it was just as good as it sounded! The leeks give a nice undertone of onion flavor and were a really nice complement to the white beans and sage. I loved the idea of mashing up some of the white beans to thicken the sauce instead of using a butter-flour roux and this helped to keep the dish on the lighter side.  I’m sure you could serve this pasta as a meal itself with maybe a side salad but we decided to pair it with broiled salmon (instructions below) and ate the pasta as a side dish.  What a way to increase our healthy fat intake than with a beautiful piece of salmon!

Fettuccine with Leeks and White Beans

source: adapted from Martha Stewart, Everyday Food, April 2005

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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound (about 1 bunch) leeks, sliced and cleaned
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth, (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 12 ounces whole wheat fettuccine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley, (optional)
  1. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add leeks, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add beans, broth, and sage to pan; with a potato masher, mash about one third of beans. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook until sauce has thickened but is still soupy, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions suggest. Drain.
  4. Add lemon juice to sauce. Stir in cream and Parmesan. Add pasta; cook, stirring, until heated through, 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley and more Parmesan, if desired.

Broiled Salmon

source: Smells Like Home

Yields: 4 servings

  • 1 lb fresh boneless salmon fillet, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp canola oil
  • Italian herb seasoning (I like Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Turn the oven to broiler.  Place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  2. Place fillets on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle canola oil over each of the salmon fillets and gently rub the oil into the fish.  Sprinkle with Italian herb seasoning, salt and pepper.
  3. Broil for 8-12 minutes depending on the size of the fillets until the fish is firm and starting to turn translucent from the bottom up.
  4. Remove from oven when fully cooked and remove the skin before serving.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

April 19, 2010

Most of the time, I buy fresh fruits and veggies with a specific purpose in mind to use them – either in a recipe or as a snack.  Sometimes though, I’m a little impulsive in the produce mecca that is Whole Foods and I recently picked up a quart of strawberries feeling thrilled to have found in-season Florida strawberries in the beginning of April.  Here in the Northeast, strawberry season doesn’t happen until mid- to late-June…that’s a long time to wait for fresh, local strawberries! So I got home, ran a few recipe ideas through my head and started craving strawberry ice cream.  I’m not sure why since I’ve never been a fan of it but I pulled out The Perfect Scoop and found this frozen yogurt recipe.  It sounded wonderfully fresh and since I had some Greek yogurt to use up, I knew this was what I was looking for.

When I say this was one of the most simple frozen dessert recipes I’ve ever made, I’m not kidding.  The strawberries are macerated then puréed with the yogurt and some lemon juice, chilled, frozen in the ice cream maker…and it’s done! You can eat it soft or freeze it in the freezer.  I reserved about 1/4 cup of the strawberries before I puréed them and mixed them into the soft frozen yogurt and just loved the chunky berries throughout the smooth frozen yogurt – the recipe below reflects this minor change.  So if it’s been a while since you’ve used your ice cream maker, dust it off and don’t waste another moment before you make this frozen yogurt…you won’t regret searching out some nice fresh strawberries!

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

source: adapted from David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop

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Yields: about 1 quart (1l)

  • 1 pound (450g) strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 2/3 cup (130g) sugar
  • optional: 2 teaspoons vodka or kirsch
  • 1 cup (240g) plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  1. Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch (if using) until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring every so often.
  2. Reserve 1/4 cup of the strawberries on the side. Transfer the remainder of the strawberries and their juice to a blender or food processor. Add the yogurt and fresh lemon juice. Pulse the machine until the mixture is smooth. If you wish, press mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds.
  3. Chill for 1 hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes + Bailey’s Irish Cream Buttercream

April 14, 2010

I may have made these cute little cupcakes for St. Patty’s Day this year but don’t be mistaken…no one will complain if you bring these to work say, in the middle of August.  I had heard so so much about the now famous Guinness and Bailey’s cupcakes and honestly, at first, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of beer cupcakes.  In fact, it took me two St. Patty’s days to finally work up the courage to make them. But boy am I glad I did!  I absolutely loved how they turned out and since the Guinness gives just a little undertone of flavor to the chocolate cupcakes, I was able to concentrate on the awesomeness of the Bailey’s Irish Cream buttercream.  Oh.My.Goodness. The buttercream was seriously great.  Because the buttercream isn’t cooked, the Bailey’s is a prominent flavor so if you’re serving them to those who are averse [ahem] to alcohol, they should probably be forewarned. Everyone who tried these cupcakes raved over them, even those who didn’t know there was alcohol in them, and I will not hesitate to make them again for anyone who requests them.

Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream Buttercream

source: Smitten Kitchen; Printer-Friendly Version

Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes or 48 to 52 mini cupcakes

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling (Updated to double it, based on many commenters suggestions — thanks!)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Frosting (see Recipe Notes)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out. Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.

[This is a fantastic trick I picked up while working on the cupcakes article for Martha Stewart Living; the test kitchen chefs had found that when they added the sugar slowly, quick buttercream frostings got less grainy, and tended to require less sugar to thicken them up.]

When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Ice and decorate the cupcakes. [I used a star tip and made little “poofs” everywhere and sprinkled it with various colors of sanding sugar to keep it looking festive for New Years. I bet shaved dark and white chocolates would look gorgeous as well.]

Do ahead: You can bake the cupcakes a week or two in advance and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer. You can also fill them before you freeze them. They also keep filled — or filled and frosted — in the fridge for a day. (Longer, they will start to get stale.)