alt cake

i made a carrot cake today with almond flour, craisins, and almonds. turned out decent! i think i would put a tad more sugar in it next time. i also made a half batch so it was just one 9″ pan of cake.



foodie friday: thanksgiving recap

that’s a lot of food to cook. maybe next year we’ll do tacos.


so jane had an enjoyable time hacking out the spine of the turkey so we could spatchcock it. it makes for a quick roasting time and a more even cook. this year i bought a smaller whole turkey and then bought a turkey breast so there were leftovers for everyone to take home.


liz did good getting the table figured out! those are some of my birch logs that i cut up and made into tealight holders. happy with how they turned out!


the bird turned out really well! and there’s that great gravy that jane spent three hours stirring. 

we tried a weird corn dish this year that i think everyone’s ok with not making again. i think we might pass on brussels sprouts next year, also. that’s a lot of food. 

i have a ton of leftovers! which is ok. and pie galore!

foodie friday: a christmas cookie catastrophe

i’ve written about my nose issues. they haven’t really resolved themselves. i’ve taken a round of antibiotics for sinus problems that i got from my dentist, and since then, i feel like my sniffer comes back for a nanosecond, then it’s gone. perhaps the future bodes well in the olfactory department. 

until then, there are a lot food-centric holidays approaching, and my taste buds are crying. i should be relatively ok through thanksgiving, as savory foods seem to be ok for the most part. i’m not worried about the turkey, slightly worried about the dressing, but mashed potatoes and squash should be ok. pumpkin pie will be…ok…sort of. at least it’s not chocolate, which seems to be the worst of the worst, along with vanilla cake. 

but christmas? that has me worried.


i looove making christmas cookies. and EATING them. they are delicious! 


and why would i go through all the work of making cookies if they taste like a compost heap? disgusting. and i’m not making loads of cookies just to give them all away and not be able to eat any. what’s the point?


i’m especially worried about crack balls (photo above). these little guys are delicious. i might give them a try and coat them in something other than chocolate – i don’t know if almond bark would work; i’d have to give it a good ol’ sniff to see how it makes me feel.

so, i think i’m going to try some of my faves that i think might be ok: eggnog snickerdoodles and ginger molasses cookies. i know i can’t make the peanut butter blossom cookies. they’ll be gross. perhaps some spritzes might be ok. i’ll just have to make a half batch at a time and see how it goes. 

this nose blows.

ps: i deliberately did not post yesterday’s post to twitter. if you want to read it, feel free to click through to the homepage and check it out. i didn’t need it to be “discovered.”

foodie friday! squash-potato soup

Squash Potato Soup
mmmm soup
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
  1. 2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  2. 4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  3. 2 medium onions, roughly diced
  4. 2 celery stalks, roughly diced
  5. 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  6. 2 bay leaves
  7. Chicken stock to cover vegetables (about 9 cups)
  8. 1 pint cream/milk
Spices to taste
  1. salt
  2. pepper
  3. fresh thyme
  4. parsley flakes
  5. balsamic vinegar
  6. powdered mustard
  1. Take all your veggies, garlic, and bay leaves, and put them in a pot and use chicken stock to just cover. put over medium-low heat and let it cook until all the veggies are really soggy and mushy. Take out the bay leaves and use a stick blender to blend it til smooth. Or you can run it through a blender or food processor in batches. It should be really thick - mix in your cream/milk. If you want a looser soup, add more milk.
  2. Spice it up! I used fresh thyme, salt, pepper, ground mustard, and parsley flakes. For this batch, I ended up using about 2-3 tablespoons (yes, tablespoons) of salt. Don't sell yourself short on the salt. I shook a couple shakes of balsamic vinegar in there as well. If you know you like a certain spice in soup, give it a try. Taste your soup and spice it til you like it.
  3. Another tip: cook up some bacon really crisp, crumble it and put it in the soup. I might do that tomorrow.
  1. I like cheese on my soup. I used feta this time, but I would also recommend some shredded parmesan. Cheddar might also work. Can also crumble some bacon on top.
Life in the Cheese Drawer

once a year i give a go at squash potato soup. it’s always sweeter than i remember it (that squash is sweet!), but i really like it. so here’s your foodie friday post! unlike most food bloggers, i put the recipe at the top so you don’t have to scroll for days through someone’s life story before you find the recipe. (i hate that.)


i had a bunch of butternut squash from my garden this year, so i had to do something with it. hello soup!


I also have some thyme growing in the giant flower garden that was here when i moved in. the gift that keeps on giving! now it’s just like it’s freeze-dried (haha. stupid cold weather.)



after the stick blender. best $15 i ever spent. seriously, it’s worth it if you do a lot of soups or sauces.


mmmm, topped with feta cheese and leftover thyme leaves.

happy yule

when we lived in austin, and the tree was up in the living room, people were stopping to get their christmas trees, and gifts were on everyone’s mind, one of the catalogs that my parents inevitably got every christmas season was the swiss colony catalog

for a person entranced by food, such as myself, the swiss colony selection was a glorious thing to behold (or so i recall). thinking back, it probably wasn’t great food, but it looked enticing at the time: little summer sausages, rolls of cheese covered in almonds, candies tied up in bows, nuts, petit fours, mini cakes, fruitcakes, beefsticks, and gift boxes from four items to four hundred. it was mesmerizing. 

9eeef082a0bfefe8b71ca0b40012975fone of the most very interesting food stuffs in the christmas catalog, though, was the yule log advertised year after year on the front or back covers, little raccoons peeking out of a chocolate log. a little holly with berries stuck on the edge, and slices with the telltale swiss roll look. every year i looked at that thing, and every year i wanted to buy it. it must have been outrageously expensive, or shipping was, because i never sprang for one. come to think of it, i think my parents may have purchased one thing from there one time – i remember getting something from swiss colony at one point, but it wasn’t frequent. (knowing my dad, it was probably cashews.)

fascination with the yule log (or, as the french say, buche de noël) has stuck with me since. thanks, swiss colony.

however, every christmas, my makes a red cake, and why have two cakes? don’t need it. so i just never made a buche de noël because there was already christmas cake. but this year, i stayed home, and i spent ALL DAY today making and putting together a yule log cake. FINALLY.


so started off with martha stewart’s recipe, and then kind of migrated over to bon appetit because it didn’t require mixing cake batter over a double boiler -_-

(THAT right there should set the tone on how tedious these things are).


the cake itself was even an ordeal: you need to separate the eggs and beat a meringue and then beat the yolks til light and fluffy. on top of that, you melt your chocolate with sugar to make a chocolate syrup and then add it to the yolks slowly (so you don’t cook the eggs) then fold in the meringue, then finally add your half cup of sugar and half cup of cocoa. good grief. anyway, spread that out into a jellyroll pan and it bakes just like that – 12 minutes.


i really should have taken a pic of the rolled cake. right after it’s out of the over, you flip it onto a dishtowel that’s been dusted with powdered sugar, and then roll it up IN THE TOWEL and let it cool. 

meanwhile, make your mousse…. round one i failed and threw it out. round two went a lot better. mousse involves melting chocolate and beating more separated eggs. oh, and homemade whipped cream. 

at this point, if you need to go to the store to get more chocolate chips and eggs and cream because you’ve just thrown out your first attempt at chocolate mousse, now’s a GREAT time. 

time to unroll the cake from the towel!


oohh noo.

well, spread the mousse on and attempt to roll it back up…



at this point, i was kind of crying inside, but i knew that everything tasted good, so it would at least be delicious. ok, i knew the MOUSSE tasted good. at least that would be yummy.

i set that out in the garage for about 3 hours in hopes that it would harden up enough to frost. then i made frosting, which i feel like should not be a big deal, but ended up being a big deal

for future reference: always just go with a cream cheese/butter/powdered sugar/nutella chocolate frosting. it’s just so much easier.

martha said “make a ganache and whip til the consistency of butter.” ok, martha. after whipping for 20 minutes, it was still the consistency of unwhipped cream. so i added butter and some powdered sugar and sort of rescued my frosting.

after rescuing the frosting, it was time to make my bark chunks, which was probably the easiest part of this whole mess. melt chocolate chips and spread into a thin layer on wax paper, then cool til it’s hard. break it up! easy peasy. and i didn’t screw it up.

then came the part i knew i couldn’t fail! meringue mushrooms! most people would balk at making these little guys, but not me! after years of macaron work, i knew how to deal with making meringue for baking. whipped up egg whites, poured in some boiling sugar water, then mixed in a little cocoa and vanilla. poured it into a piping bag and got to work making little mushrooms on parchment, which are pretty much the same as making little macarons on parchment.

the fun part was also making the stems, and since the meringue was stiffer than macaron batter, they stood up! 


and of course, the mushies took 2 hours to bake *eyeroll*. when they were done, all i did was put a little frosting on the stems and stuck them to the caps.

time to frost, place the bark, and set the mushrooms.

img_1658 img_1659

i did use real pine needles, so those weren’t edible, but they sure do look nice! final step was to dust with powdered sugar and a little cocoa.

img_3224 img_3219


now, there are no little raccoons. and i think i spent a solid 5 hours of work on this thing. but this tastes pretty good. i would use a vanilla mousse or cake next time – it’s so rich that it needs something to cut it. overall though? swiss colony ain’t got nothin’ on my buche.


i decided to donate to TPT (st. paul’s pbs station) in hopes that more money would encourage it to get the create channel on its airwaves. in the meantime, i have access to a bunch of aired shows, including the great british baking show! i watched season one on netflix a while back, and was instantly hooked.

the premise is simple: get a bunch of brits together for a bake-off, including a technical challenge where they have to read directions and use their know-how to create these arcane recipes, and every week someone is picked off. two judges: mary berry, who reminds you of that great-aunt who’s slightly on the saucy side but likes to wax eloquent about foods of yore, and paul hollywood, who’s harsher than mary but also better looking (when he compliments a baker you know that the baked good is top notch). add in a couple emcees in blazers who like to make bad puns and weird sexual references, and it’s a, ahem, recipe for success.

so with my newfound access to tpt’s archives, i watched season three over the past week, and just finished up the finale with the winner earlier tonight. i’ve never been so emotionally invested in reality tv! maybe it’s because the contestants really are just joe schmo next door and looks like they could be your neighbor who’s really good at baking cakes. maybe it’s because everyone is generally sad to see people go. there tends to be no drama between contestants (that we can see), and everyone’s just so dang happy for the winner. no hard feelings.

the person i was hoping would win won, and it was so emotional for that person as well – you could tell throughout the competition that it was hard to feel like s/he was actually good at baking. it ended with real pick-me-up words from the winner:  “I’m never gonna put boundaries on myself ever again. I’m never gonna say I can’t do it. I’m never gonna say ‘maybe’. I’m never gonna say, ‘I don’t think I can.’ I can and I will.”


as an aside, i’ve decided to stay home for christmas, and i’m going to make a buche de noël. and have a bonfire. 



today is foodblog. sorry for the lack of words!

  1. bacon made that galette SO MUCH BETTER. any future squash spinach galettes will include bacon. 

bacon  galette jane

so i spatchcocked the bird again, which reduces cooking time significantly i’ve never been able to capture the seasoning process of the turkey before, but liz was able to get some pics of jane scooping in the seasoning while i shoved it under the skin. spatched squash


mmm look at that bird! i think i forgot a step that would have flattened the breast out a little more, but that’s quite all right. it was pretty delicious as is! 

so it begins…

tonight i made real cranberry sauce from scratch! 

we never had cranberry from a can growing up; my uncle squire attended to the cranberry orange relish that was a staple on the thanksgiving table. and that relish* STAYED a staple for my entire 37 years…EXCEPT THIS YEAR. i’m changing it up.

sorry uncle squie 🙁

i went searching for a reasonable recipe to make cranberry sauce, and it turns out they’re all pretty reasonable. cranberries, juice, sugar. alton brown’s and the pioneer woman’s recipes were pretty similar, and they eschewed the refined sugar and went the natural route: honey and maple syrup, respectfully. 

i went with the pioneer woman’s recipe as i like the taste of maple syrup over honey, and i doubled it. 

it’s so simple, i can still remember it:

  • bag of cranberries
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1 cup syrup
  • orange zest
  • 3 tblsp orange juice (i put a little more than that)

(i also threw in a pinch of salt.)

so what we’re doing here, effectively, is making a cranberry JAM. bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. i then poured it into jam jars, and now they’re all sitting in my garage waiting for thursday, when it will be served cold. 

i’m hoping the stuff holds their jar shapes so we can make them jiggle.

(also, i might add, my new kitchen is MUCH more conducive to good food photography.)



(except when i can’t focus, apparently.)

*relish: throw cranberries and a whole orange into a food processor. blend. throw in a bowl and mix with a boatload of sugar. taste. probably add more sugar. serve cold. 

ATK’s squash galette

so i made this squash galette today from america’s test kitchen via lynne rosetto kasper (on twitter).

Copyright 2016 America's Test Kitchen (Daniel J. van Ackere)

Copyright 2016 America’s Test Kitchen (Daniel J. van Ackere)

and it was really time consuming. cubing squash is not my most favorite thing to do on the planet, that’s for sure.

but it was really yummy. and FILLING. omg. i don’t think it could ever replace just squash at a thanksgiving meal. it could be a nice appetizer, but the whole wheat crust really fills you up, and you’d have no room for dressing during t-day.

also, if you weren’t going vegetarian (this was vegetarian option for thanksgiving guests), this could definitely benefit from some pork product – sausage, bacon, something. 

i definitely would make this again, and i’m thinking about making just the filling for thanksgiving. throw some bacon in it, and it would be delish. or if there were a less filling way for it to get from table to mouth – a cracker, perhaps? i might make it for an appetizer. we’ll see what happens!

when life hands you pumpkins


i know it’s easier to just go buy a can of festal and use that for all your pumpkin baking needs, but let me tell you: making your own pumpkin puree to use in bars, breads, PIES, is probably the best thing you can do for your baked goods. want to actually taste PUMPKIN instead of all the spices? make fresh pumpkin puree.

firs off, plant some pie pumpkins in the spring. have a bumper crop due to all the rain. if that doesn’t work, your local food vendor should sell pie pumpkins.

cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, put them in a pan (glass or a jelly roll pan works – something with edgess), and bake them at 350 for an hour-hour and a half or so. until you poke a fork in them and it slides in easily.



look at that carmelization! anyway, let these cool for a bit, then scoop out the insides into a food processor and whip it up. scoop that mess into a colandar/sieve/strainer lined with a dishtowel. 

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-10-08-15-pm screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-10-07-55-pm

let this sit overnight at least and drain all the liquid out. i am saving my pumpkin juice to make a festive drink!

put these in whatever container and stick them in the fridge for soon use and the freezer for use down the road (like in a month for thanksgiving).