What You Should Bring When You Don’t Know What to Bring [snip doodles]

These snip doodles, a predecessor of everyone’s favorite cookie, the snickerdoodle, are amazing.

I brought them to big group of people who confirmed what I already knew upon first bite, and begged for the recipe. I’m happy to report they couldn’t be easier to make. When you find yourself with a bake sale, or book group, or holiday who-knows-what, and you’re supposed to bring something for dessert, you know what to do.

Thanksgiving, 2017: The Plan

Normally, you all get a free preview of my meal plan on Tuesdays, but Thanksgiving has us all kinds of out of order, and with a few days ahead of us to start prepping, I’m sharing this year’s plan today, in hopes it may give you inspiration if you need it.

Spoiler alert: Dear guests who are also readers – don’t keep reading if you want to be surprised, but also, we’re mostly having what we always have. (These photos are from Thanksgiving, 2015)

andre, the turkey.


Mashed potatoes

Green bean casserole (made two days before, cooked while the turkey is resting)

Stuffing (made the day before, cooked while the turkey is resting)

Sweet potatoes (made two days before, cooked while the turkey is resting)

Brussels sprouts from my sister-in-law (usually roasted with pancetta, and whoops, now I’m drooling)

Cranberry sauce (made whenever my husband wants)

Biscuits (made in the morning and warmed up before dinner)

apple pie.

Apple pie (gifted by a friend)

Pumpkin pie (sold by a neighbor who is a far superior baker)

And this pecan praline sauce because I’m not making the usual bourbon pecan tart (made a day or two before)

And ice cream, because, duh

And orange cookies, because I can’t not bake anything. Hopefully they’ll be amazing, and you’ll see them before too much longer. (made the day before)

full plate.

The rest of the week, if you’re interested:

Sunday – Sausage and tomato risotto, which is a forever favorite.

Monday – hot dogs and tater tots, and some sort of veggie. Yep. That’s it.

Tuesday – A veggie and chicken stir-fry (love this teriyaki sauce the most) if I’m home early, and leftovers if I’m not.

Wednesday – whatever we didn’t do on Tuesday

Thursday – LOL, see above

Friday – PIE and only pie.

Saturday – Oh gracious, I don’t know yet.

In Which I am Lame [smitten kitchen confetti cake]

It’s confession time, dear readers.

I don’t get funfetti.



I mean, I get it. Sprinkles in and cake and on a cake. What could be more festive?

But is it that big a deal to throw sprinkles in a cake? I guess it is because you can find funfetti versions of just about anything. But I never got into it.

Which is why when an old college friend asked if I’d made Smitten’s confetti cake, I answered no. I remember watching Deb’s Insta story this summer, when she deftly iced Muppets on her daughter’s second birthday cake (because of course she did), but I wasn’t overtaken with a need to replicate the cake itself. I signed up to bring birthday snacks at the end of every month to a group of women I love to hang out with, and right as the end of October rolled around, I got that question. I completely trust this friend’s foodie opinions, so there we go. Decision made. Confetti cake was on the menu.

Gooplet and I cranked the cupcakes out on Monday, iced them on Tuesday, and we served them on Wednesday. I used the little non-pareil rainbow sprinkles that no one really likes (Seriously, does anyone have a place for these in their heart?), and guess what? Still some seriously wonderful cupcakes. Deb will never leave you astray. I doubled the cake recipe and baked 20 cupcakes for 22 minutes. Double the frosting was plenty for icing them.

The Story Behind the Menu – Weeknight Dinner for a Friend

Who: the three of us and a friend

What: a regular weeknight dinner

When: Monday evening

Why: because she works less than a mile away from our house, and we thought it’d be a blast



The thought process: I knew I had to make a lot of food that could be made in advance, and couldn’t make a single thing that would come together at the last minute. I was going to be prepping this with Gooplet right underfoot, so I had to stretch myself to find easy recipes that still qualified as classy.

The menu:

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk – it had been so long since I last roasted a chicken. It’s one of those tasks that could not be easier, and yet every time I’m about to do it, I get anxious about it. Good news: it continues to be the easiest, and turns out just great no matter what.

Ladd’s Roasted Potatoes – Last time I roasted a chicken was probably about the last time I made something from The Pioneer Woman, so I was long past due. Let me tell you – anything dripping in butter and Lawry’s is just fine by me. (Let me also tell you these would be just as delightful at breakfast as they were at dinner.)

Sauteed Green Beans – Whenever I need to take a vegetable dish to the next level, I make green beans a la my mother in law. Saute a finely chopped onion, add some minced garlic, salt and pepper, and some haricots vert. Quickest, easiest, best green bean dish ever. Add toasted, slivered almonds if you want some crunch.

Apple Pie a la mode – A neighbor of ours just started a pop up bake shop, and she sold apple pies to raise money for a wonderful cause. I bought one to enjoy at dinner, and had one less thing to worry about.

What worked: Dinner! My theory with almost every single kind of entertaining I’ve ever done is: it’s going to work because it has to work. It can’t not work. As I had no intention of calling this friend to cancel, I knew dinner was simply going to happen. There’s something about that mindset that helps me immensely. The wine was flowing, we put the kid to sleep before dessert, and kept the party going long into the night. (Well, long into the night for us parents, which means we were done by 10 and fully cleaned up by 10:30.)

What didn’t: I don’t think this didn’t work, but I wish I had made one or two more dishes. By loading my meal with butter, I’m confident our guest went home well-fed, but when I entertain I love having too much on the table. I wish I had done an arugula salad, and maybe some garlic bread too. And I didn’t take any pictures! That happens way too often these days.

What We Ate This Week

Dear readers, it’s confession time. A big part of the reason you don’t see in-depth recipe write ups here anymore is because I don’t dedicate the same amount of time to documenting my food as I used to. But perhaps an almost-as-large part of the reason is because…gasp…I don’t follow recipes as much as I used to. So in the name of putting the “food” in food blog, I’m going to jump on at least once a week for a round up of what we ate. This will be what’s notable, not forgettable, or repetitive. Here we go…


Last week had been so hectic that I went into this week without a meal plan. That almost never happens, and when it does, pretty much ensures we’re going to eat like total crap. And that’s how most of the week played out. Happens to the best of us.  Here were the clear winners from an out-of-sorts kind of week.

After my trip to Costco found me with two boxes of Cranberry/Almond/Coconut Special K (run, don’t walk to get yourself some), I decided to make Quaker’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, but replace the oatmeal with cereal, and replace the raisins with chocolate chips. Shared these with friends to their great delight. I love having people to bake for.

When we last visited The (Not So) New Girl and her little guy, I was lucky enough to be the one who got to polish off the last of a broccoli kale slaw her husband made. There is nothing better than finishing the bottom of a bowl of a salad with tons of mix-ins, because they all sink down to the bottom. When she sent me the recipe, I remembered that it’s similar to a recipe of Shutterbean’s, that I’ve always wanted to make. This salad is amazing. The sum is so much greater than any of its parts. I swapped out the sunflower seeds or walnuts I already had on hand, and left out the chicken, because meat was the star of the table already.

Making this Barefoot Contessa lemon yogurt cake was a great way to feed a couple different sets of people last week. How I’ve never blogged about it before is baffling. It’s a staple. (I do vaguely refer to it in this ancient post. Helpful, no?)

And finally, last night was Honey Sriracha Chicken, which is such a great meal, and probably comes together in less time than it takes you to wait for Chinese delivery. We left out the sugar and didn’t miss it in the slightest. Next time, I’m going to prep the sauce and chicken in advance, and cook them off in the ten minutes before I’m serving.

A Year With Goop [best birthday cake]

We did it! We kept our son alive, and quite adorable, for a whole year! A celebration was in order.


A celebration, of course, approved by my introverted husband. We took a trip to the zoo, and came home for cake and presents. Perfection.


Though I love to bake, I’m just not a cake-decorator. I kept it classic with Deb’s best birthday cake. But, I did cover the whole thing with Lucky Charms marshmallows. One big box gave me all I needed to completely coat a six-inch, two-layer cake. I got 18 cupcakes out of the batter in addition to the mini cake, and stuck a leprechaun hat marshmallow in the center of each.

p.s. I often love what Janssen is doing over at Everyday Reading, and she wrote about making mini cakes for each of her girls on their first birthdays. One of their other birthday rituals is sugar-y cereal for breakfast in bed. Love that.

A New (to us) Breakfast Food [overnight Belgian waffles]

I asked my husband for a waffle maker for Christmas.  He was shocked, and thought it was the most un-romantic gift ever.  Which I thought was weird because usually we get each other (drumroll…..) nothing.  We’re adults who can buy whatever we need, and a lot of stuff we want, and we all know I spend half my life trying to own less crap.

That said, I got a waffle maker!  She’s beautiful.

In our family, I make pancakes, my husband commandeers French Toast, and no one makes waffles because we don’t have a waffle maker.  Except now we do, and so for its inaugural run, we graced it with Ina’s overnight Belgian waffles.  Do not be scared off by the yeast this recipe calls for.  This is not like making bread from scratch (but that’s easy too, see here.)  This is a recipe that involves stirring a bunch of stuff you dumped in a bowl, and that’s it.  I made this batter after Gooplet went to bed, and kept things moving in the waffle maker while my husband fed him breakfast the next morning.  The perfect recipe for us right now.


To make 10 or 12 waffles, you will need:

  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 package (¼ ounce) active dry yeast, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups lukewarm whole milk (90 to 100 degrees)
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for the waffle iron
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • Sliced bananas, toasted coconut, warm maple syrup, and crème fraîche, for serving*

The night before, combine the water, yeast, and sugar in a very large bowl (the batter will expand enormously). Allow it to stand for about 5 minutes, until the yeast dissolves and the mixture has started to foam, which tells you the yeast is active. Stir in the milk, butter, honey, vanilla, and salt. Add the flour and whisk until the batter is smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to sit overnight at a cool room temperature.

The next morning, heat a Belgian waffle iron according to the manufacturer’s instructions and brush the top and bottom with melted butter. Beat the eggs together with the baking soda and whisk them into the batter until combined. Pour just enough of the batter onto the hot waffle iron to cover the grids (⅓ to ½ cup each, depending on your waffle maker), close, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes on medium heat, until the waffles are golden brown. Cut them apart with a small knife, if necessary, and remove them with a fork. Repeat the process until all the batter has been used. Serve the waffles hot with sliced bananas, toasted coconut, maple syrup, and crème fraîche and let everyone help themselves.

*We didn’t use Ina’s fancy toppings, just maple syrup.  We get a bottle from friends every year–it’s our favorite.


On Resolutions [salted caramel pretzel chocolate chip cookies]

Did you make them?  Did you pick a word?  I’ve done both in the past, and couldn’t seem to do either this year.  Instead, my husband and I took about 5 minutes on New Year’s Eve to talk about what we hope 2017 will look like in our family.  Per usual, that involves me not trying to pack a zillion things into short time frames.

I did post on my Instagram story (which, btw, is such a fun place to share real-time kitchen antics) that I wanted to eat more cookies.  Then I saw this post on Design Mom and figured we’re onto something here.

The cookies I shared are these salted caramel pretzel chocolate chip cookies, and they’re every bit as delightful as you’d expect, given their name.

To make 36, you will need:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pretzels
  • 18-20 caramels, cut in half (I like to use Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramels)
  • Pretzel twists for pressing on cookies (about 36)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars together for about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add in the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped pretzels.
  4. Form the cookie dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons of dough. Place a caramel piece in the center of the dough ball, making sure the cookie dough completely covers the caramel. This will prevent the caramel from oozing out in the oven. Place on prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Gently press a pretzel twist on top of each cookie. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.
  5. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

*A note: When you store cookies with large chunks of salt on top (as can be found on pretzels), science happens, and the salt can make things soggy over the course of a couple of days.  Keep that in mind as you store these.  I baked about half the dough, stored the rest in my fridge, then made a second batch for a later occasion.

This New Thing We’re Doing [cranberry apple cake]

Dear readers, I didn’t mean to abandon you, especially not during this, my most epic food week ever.
Except it seems that’s exactly what I’ve gone and done.
I have done 0 work to prepare for Thanksgiving.  And it’s Wednesday!  Thanksgiving is tomorrow!  I need to go grocery shopping. I’m on dessert duty at my in-laws on Thursday, and then I’ll make our little family a mini Thanksgiving on Friday (turkey, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and whatever leftover dessert we walk away with from the afternoon prior).
If you need a little something different on your Thanksgiving dessert table, may I suggest Ina’s easy cranberry and apple cake?
My husband has taken to making a little something each weekend, and this was on the agenda the other day.  We devoured it.  It’s like pie filling with a simple cake on top.
Hope your Thanksgivings are filled with whomever it is you’re most thankful for.
To make cranberry apple cake, you will need:
12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla, and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Adding Sweetness to your Day [donut bread pudding]

If you’re ready for something to completely coat your teeth in sugar, then dear readers, a glass of milk is your happy home today.

I hosted a baby shower for AGOMYR this weekend, and as a result, ended up with a half dozen leftover Krispy Kreme donuts.  Donuts are a rare fried food that I can (usually) walk right by and pass up, so they just sat in a container on my counter for a couple days.  Until I remembered Pinterest had recipes for donut bread pudding.



This was breakfast this morning.  It’s probably the most indulgent thing I’ve ever eaten.  You know that fuzzy feeling on your teeth when you’ve consumed more sugar than should ever be allowed?

You don’t?  Nah, me neither.

To make a small casserole, you will need:

  • butter for greasing the pan
  • a half dozen donuts, chopped into sixths
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk

Butter an 8 x 8 casserole dish.  Add donuts.  In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, vanilla, and condensed milk till combined.  Pour over donuts and let that goodness get soaked up a bit (I left mine covered in the fridge overnight).  Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.