I made it out alive - all of my papers and presentations are in, and I'm home for winter break, woo!  Expect many cookie recipes to follow :).  In the meantime, I will be sleeping and leaving you with two things: 


First, an excellent all-purpose holiday cake recipe that's extremely versatile, lasts for quite awhile (useful for making ahead of time!), and is absolutely delicious.

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Second, my boyfriend Chris just started a Beer of the Week blog - go check it out!  He'll be reviewing beers, posting about food (we make such a great pair :D), and beer/food combinations.  Sweet!


By the way, I got this amazing Bundt pan from Goodwill for $1.  How awesome is that??



All-Purpose Holiday Cake

adapted from Joy the Baker


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup apple sauce

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 tablespoon rum

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 apples, cut into chunks

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup chocolate chips (a mix of chocolate and white chocolate chips would also be yummy!)

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a Bundt pan.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

Whisk together apple sauce, pumpkin, eggs, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, rum and vanilla in a large bowl until just combined. Fold in flour mixture until just combined, then fold in apples, cranberries, and chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the Bundt pan.

Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 30 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.


winter has begun...


I woke up to this icy winter wonderland yesterday, and this morning was greeted with snow piled on top of all of this ice.  Crazy!  Apparently we're making some news here.  I think this was my favorite quote of the day:

"This is pathetic," said Bob Cott of Portland, Maine, who lost power for the first time in 10 years. "I'm already sick of winter and we have nine days to go before it officially begins."


Lol.  I went out to clean my car off late in the day, but I was afraid to venture out any earlier.


Again, sorry for the cell phone quality pictures...


Anyway, even though it was cold and awful out, I wanted a lighter lunch/brunch - I woke up at noon.  I've been waiting for the right time to make this absolutely amazing looking tuna salad, but sadly I am out of beans, onions, AND fresh herbs.  So instead I created my own recipe - not bad, I have to say!

tuna tuna2


Quick, Easy Tuna Salad (without mayo!)


1 can chunk light tuna packed in water

1/4 cup diced tomatoes (I used from a can)

1 tsp olive oil (I used garlic-infused olive oil)

1 tsp honey mustard

1 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1/8 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp Mexican chili powder

garlic powder to taste

salt and pepper to taste


Drain the tuna, then combine all ingredients and mix.  That's it!  This is especially good on top of a toasted English muffin, or on whole wheat bread in a sandwich.

stress stress, more finals, done monday finally

The next few posts will be mostly cell phone pictures, my camera was full for awhile and I wasn't at my computer long enough to upload them/my computer wasn't working well enough to upload them...sorry!

Not necessarily food related, but there's coffee involved!


Coffee cup sleeve that made me smile the other day :).


Dinner that night - freshly made varenyky from the church, pan fried and eaten with sour cream and a salad.  Ohmygoddeliciousness.


Bundled up for the weather.


probably the most delicious thing you will ever ingest


So, I have a friend, Leah, who makes an absolutely AMAZING cranberry sauce.  She was gracious enough to share some tips with me (as well as the whole recipe, but my memory is so awful I was forced to Google for cranberry sauce and adjust according to what I remembered!).  And let me tell you...I will never nay say cranberry sauce again!

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I did NOT used to be a fan of cranberry sauce - I had tried the canned version on turkey one year for Thanksgiving, and was sorely disappointed.  The concept sounded delicious, but I did not like the way the flavors played out in the canned version.  This recipe has SO restored my faith in cranberry sauce though!


Leah's tips included adding zest of lemon and orange, as well as nutmeg, cinnamon, and a little less sugar that is usually called for.  This stuff is so good, I guarantee that you'll be eating it straight from the fridge with a spoon...not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything ;). 


My interpretation on Leah's Amazing Cranberry Sauce

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
12 ounces of fresh cranberries 
zest of one orange 
zest of 1/2 lemon 
1/2 tsp nutmeg 
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine juices, water, sugar and salt to a large sauce pan.  Stir pan on medium heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Add in the cranberries,  spices, and zest and stir to combine.

Put a lid on the sauce pan, with a tiny gap at one edge for steam to escape.

Cook for 10 to 12 minutes. The longer the cranberry sauce is cooked, the less the cranberries will be a uniform texture.  So, if you want a more uniform texture, cook longer.  Personally, I like mine to be rougher and have some whole cranberries in it, so I took mine off on the earlier side.

The sauce is ready to eat warm, but tastes even better if you refrigerate it overnight.  Enjoy!

my meals today, since i didn't get anything else done!

Although I did shrink wrap my window this afternoon...





Lunch (Trader Joe's Brown Rice California Sushi, toasted English muffin with cheese, clementine/grapefruit/mango fruit salad with fig balsamic vinegar)



Dinner (Turkey soup/stew with wild rice, recipe coming soon!)


my latest and greatest favorite breakfast!


1/3 cup Bob's Red Mill Spice N' Nice Hot Cereal

1 cup milk

1 tbsp butter

2-3 tbsp packed brown sugar


Heat milk in saucepan until just starting to bubble.  Add hot cereal and butter, cooking until absorbed to your liking (for me, after about 6-7 minutes I'm happy with it).  Stir in brown sugar, and eat!




crockpot chicken tikka masala - yum


My roommate and I have an absolute love of Indian food.  Now, to start off this post, let me say that I am aware that chicken tikka masala isn't technically an Indian dish.  Anyway, there are a few pretty good Indian restaurants in the area - Shalimar in Troy, and the Curry House in Albany.  Both of these places have awesome lunch buffet deals.  The chicken tikka masala is excellent at Curry House, and Heather and I both had a craving for some awhile ago - she had the chicken, I had the crockpot and culinary skills.  Yum!

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This was a fairly easy dish to make, made even easier by the fact that I made it in the crock pot, and then took a nap while it cooked.  Awesome multi-tasking!  After the chicken was done cooking, all I had to do was set the setting to "Keep Warm", and cook up some jasmine rice.  Enjoy!


Crock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

recipe adapted from Supah Weblog

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast diced into large cubes

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cup plain yogurt

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 small can tomato paste, thinned out with water

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp paprika

2 tbsp garam masala

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp cayenne powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients except for chicken in crock pot. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add in diced chicken. 

Turn the crockpot on high and cook for 3-4 hours, until chicken is cooked throughout.  You may also put crockpot on low to prolong the cooking time.  Serve over jasmine rice.  This recipe also freezes well!

merry christmas a bit early from the apartment!

So we put up our tree in the apartment back in the second weekend of November.  Our semester ends the week after Thanksgiving (next week in fact!  Uuugh crunch time...), so we figured we may as well decorate early.  And we did!






Oh hi there!

the essentials for food blogging!

Or what I use, anyway!



My camera: Sony DSC-S700 7.2MP Digital Camera.  It works pretty well once I figured out how to get the most out of it - it's fussy but takes great close-ups.



Windows LiveWriter.  I never thought I'd say this about anything from Microsoft but...I love it!!  It works offline, then syncs to Blogger when I want to make the post, so I can create posts when I'm out of wireless range or am in the car.  It's a lot easier to add photos and edit layouts for posts here than in Blogger, as well, which is great!



ACDSee Photo Manager 10.0.  I learned about this program from work this summer while editing documents for a conference my boss was going to.  I really love the interface and software - it basically organizes all of your photos according to a number of possible methods (ratings, tags (like on Facebook!), auto categories (like aperture, ISO setting, etc)).  However, it also is able to auto-correct exposure and contrast, allows rollover previews (my favorite feature), and many other features I haven't fully explored yet.

happy birthday mom!



I recently went home for my mom's birthday, to spend time with her and, most importantly, to make her a cake!  Ever since I can remember, my mom would make my sister and I any kind of cake we wanted for our birthdays, and we always reciprocated.  When I first met my boyfriend, I was shocked that his family didn't do the same...I just assumed that's how the world worked :-P.

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My mom's only request this year was for a cake with lemon in it, and my chocolate frosting (I use Peabody's recipe here, with an addition of 1 tsp instant espresso powder).  I decided to make her my own variation on Magnolia Bakery's yellow cake recipe: Lemon Cake with Raspberry Cream Cheese Swirl.  Yum!



Frosting making - well, bowl licking.  Yum!

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The cake was pretty simple to make, but time consuming in its separate components.  In hindsight, next time I will actually "swirl" in the raspberry cream cheese layer instead of letting it sit on top (I thought maybe it would sink in).  Other than that, I thought the flavors were well balanced and not too overpowering!


Now I have to decide what I'm going to want for my birthday ;).  (P.S. Chris - you still owe me a cake from last year!)


Lemon Cake with Raspberry Cream Cheese Swirl

cake recipe adapted from the Magnolia Vanilla Cupcakes recipe

2  3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoons salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

zest of one lemon

juice from half of a lemon

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease three 8" cake pans.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the lemon zest and juice, mixing well to incorporate.  Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Spoon the batter into the cake pans.  Add in Raspberry Cream Cheese Swirl (recipe below) and swirl with a butter knife in each pan.  Be careful not to mix too much.  Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Place cake tins on wire racks and cool the cakes completely. Remove the cakes carefully when cool, and frost!  (I used the chocolate frosting recipe, above).


Raspberry Cream Cheese Swirl

12 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

2 large egg whites, room temperature

4 tbsp sour cream, room temperature

1/3 cup raspberry preserves

In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese until smooth.  Add in sour cream, beating well.  Add in sugar and salt, beating well to incorporate.

Beat in egg whites and raspberry preserves until incorporated.


omelette omelette omelette

I've been attempting to write this post about omelettes for about two weeks, but something's just not clicking.  So without further ado, I give you...omelettes for dinner!


Saute some onions in butter until they are almost caramelized, then throw in tomatoes, ham, and spinach leaves.  Then sprinkle the cooking eggs with cheese and fold over the filling mixture.



This one was made with feta cheese, ham, and arugula leftover from a Trader Joe's trip when visiting my sister.  I wasn't as much of a fan of the arugula in this omelette - I found it tasted much better in a whole wheat pita with feta cheese, maple champagne mustard, and ham.


Basic Omelette Recipe

makes one omelette

Heat up a small skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter on medium heat.

Once the butter is melted, crack 2 eggs into the pan and beat with a fork until smooth.  At this point, to make a fluffier omelette, add about 2 tsp of milk to the eggs.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper.

When the eggs begin to bubble on the surface, and the edges of the omelette are dry, flip with a spatula.  Add desired omelette ingredients on top of the omelette.  Cook for a few minutes more, then fold the omelette in half with the spatula and let cheese melt.  Enjoy!


to try: marshmallow recipes

I think these could make great Christmas gifts...I'm going to have some free time (ha, "free time") this week and after classes, so I'm earmarking some recipes:


sanity, please?

In the midst of all this.....



This is how I cope...

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I love when I'm getting ready to make breakfast, and accidentally put together something really delicious.  This time it was Archer Farms Organic Flax Seed Waffles (picked up at Target a few weeks ago on clearance!), with Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter, All Natural Peanut Butter, a banana, and (not so good) day old coffee.


I wish I had a picture!  But it all disappeared too fast..oops!


on the topic of pumpkins


Oh, this stuff is SO. GOOD.  We don't have any Trader Joe's in my area (so sad!), but my sister is going to college in Boston so every time we've visited her I load up while I have the chance.  I love fall!


I've been trying to find pumpkins to make some toasted pumpkin seeds, but I can't find any at the local grocery store!  I'll make a trip out to an orchard or something at some point before Thanksgiving, but I was hoping I wouldn't have to make a special trip out...sucks!


On my fall to-try recipe list:


to do list for NYC!

Most suggestions taken from David Lebovitz's blog at http://www.davidlebovitz.com/.



Joe The Art of Coffee

405 West 23rd Street
New York City
(212) 206-0669



Garrett's Caramel Corn

560 5th Avenue
242 W 34th St/1 Penn Plaza


Black & White Cookies


115 Second Avenue




Il Laboratorio di Gelato

95 Orchard Street (between Broome & Delancey)



a weekend in québec city



















and of course.....