Best of 2014

Here were are again dear readers, at the close of another year.  Time to look back and reflect on our successes in the kitchen.  Mine are almost all recipes that add little nutritional value to your life.  So if you’re looking for help with your resolution, that’s another blog.  Sorry!

Click on the pictures to go to the recipes.

chocolate crunch bars.

banana walnut baked oatmeal.

funfetti cookies.

garlic and herb bread twists.

black bean burritos.

best chocolate chip cookies.

pounded cheese.

swedish pancakes.

chubby hubby cupcakes.

brown butter cherry bars.


toffee tiramisu.

cheddar tailgating bread.


chocolate peanut butter globs.

candy cane cookies.

And two non-recipe posts:

brownie taste test.


Want to know what else is good here?  Check out the best of 2013, and 2012.

On Eating

I’m one of those people who loves to eat.  I love the whole process, from start to (almost) finish.

I love sitting down on the weekends and planning out dinners for the week.

I love taking my time shopping at Whole Foods.

I love getting to know the vendors at our farmers’ market.

I love the Italian man who sells me pasta and tells me I’m his favorite customer (I mean, duh).

I love preparing dinner.

I love chopping garlic.

And mincing onions.

And browning meat.

And I love eating.

It’s a joyful process for me.

parmesan fries.

Is that too much?

Then know this.

I hate doing the dishes.

But I do love eating.

And it’s amazing how much my tastes have changed over the years.

I went from making one pot dinners from my mom’s issues of “Women’s Day” and “Family Circle,” to using ingredients like prosciutto and arugula.

It didn’t happen overnight.

on eating.

It largely happened because I started reading and watching pretty much anything that had to do with food.  After you’ve watched enough people make kale chips, you figure, it’s time to try them for yourself.

Yeah, I still don’t like kale chips.

But the more I watched food being made, the more interested I became.

And the more I had to try for myself.

When I make a dish with my own hands, I’m so much more likely to enjoy it.

I have a vested interest in the results because of all the preparation I did.

I think this is all just to say, don’t be afraid to try new things.

Fancy Snacks {yogurt with bananas, coconut, almonds, and dark chocolate}

Every Thursday, Tracy posts a fancy snack (here is one of my favorites), and on a recent Thursday, I realized that, duh, I can fancy up my own trips to the pantry.  Inspired by my favorite Chobani flip flavor, Almond Coco-Loco, I created a little yogurt bowl that I cannot get enough of.  Since the first bowl I mixed, I’ve been eating this any time hunger strikes, and it always hits the spot.

noosa yogurt.

Have you had Noosa yogurt?  Seriously amazing.


Spoon some of your favorite flavor yogurt in a bowl.  Slice a banana on top. Add about a tablespoon of sliced almonds, and a tablespoon of coconut (I almost always use unsweetened).  Break a square off your favorite dark chocolate bar, and chop chocolate into small pieces.  Add to yogurt.  Mix everything together, and dig in.  Obviously, this isn’t a strict recipe.  You could double (triple!) the chocolate, sub out a different kind of nut for something crunchy you like, or add something you can’t believe I forgot.  But what I love about this particular combination is that each bite of yogurt contains a little bit of all your mix-ins.

coco loco yogurt.


Valentine’s Day Plans [cherry chocolate granola]

Dear readers, it’s summer break ’round these parts, and that means I’m not tied to my computer like I often am in the colder months.  I’ve been digging deep in the archives to find  some recipes worth sharing again.  These all aired in the blog’s earlier days, but I’m pretty sure the only people who were there to see them go live were CV(D), Wooden Nickels, and Cari Faye.  They are my tried and true staples, and they’ll run for a few weeks while I enjoy the good life.  I’ll check back in with you later this summer dear readers.



What are you up to on Valentine’s Day, dear readers? Do you make a big deal out of the day and get together with your loved ones?  Or do you hide under a blanket with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s?

Valentine’s Day and I have a love/hate relationship.  There are years when it goes unexpectedly well and I concede that maybe it’s not so bad.

And there are others where it seems everyone is making plans to outdo everyone else and I’d rather just put my pajamas on and call it a night.

So far, this is shaping up to be one of the better years.

For one, I helped stage a flower sale/fundraiser at work, and delivered over 700 flowers to some unsuspecting folk.

And for another, there are lots of little ways this particular day will be special.  Starting with breakfast.

Annie posted a recipe for Cherry Chocolate Coconut Granola on her site earlier this year, and I was drawn to it right away.  It was almost identical to a granola I built for myself one morning at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago.  The only major difference I spotted was that Annie’s had chocolate (the minor was that I used cranberries instead of cherries).  So basically, she made things ten times better.  And a million times better than the bowl of Cheerios we were planning to eat.  Even if they were honey nut.

I inhaled a big bowl of this for breakfast this morning, and it was like eating a chocolate chip cookie.  A chocolate chip cookie that tastes like a chocolate chip cookie, but doesn’t have butter, eggs, or added sugar.  And how better to start a day that’s practically dedicated to chocolate, than with a couple of morsels tucked into your first bites?

The best part of this whole granola-making endeavor is that one crunch into my cereal and I realized I never need to purchase the overpriced granola from Whole Foods that I love so much ever again.  The homemade stuff is ten times better, and cheaper, when it comes from your own oven.  Throw on your Birkenstocks and embrace it.  You know you love granola, too.

To make 7 C Cranberry Chocolate Coconut Granola, you will need:

  • 1 C shredded coconut (sweetened, or not)
  • 1/3 C walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 C almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 3 C old fashioned oats
  • 3 T canola oil
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 C dried cranberries
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I had mini chunks so I used those)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a skillet, toast coconut over medium heat, stirring often, until light brown.  Transfer to small bowl, and set aside.  Wipe out skillet and add nuts, toasting 3 minutes, until lightly browned.  Add oats and oil and toast, stirring until oats are toasted, about another 3 minutes.

Pour oat mixture into large bowl and toss with cinnamon, salt, and honey, till combined.  Pour mixture onto baking sheet, pressing till you have an even layer.  Bake, stirring every few minutes (I forgot this part!), for 15 minutes.  Remove baking sheet, toss in coconut and cranberries, stir and move granola to one side of baking sheet.  Using spatula, press granola into flat slab.  Let cool to room temperature.

When cool, break granola into pieces.  Add chocolate bits and serve or store.

P.S.  How great would this be if you’re having people over for brunch?  Just add eggs and mimosas.

*Original post here.

Chicken Stock, Flavor Boost Edition [chicken stock]

Dear readers, it’s summer break ’round these parts, and that means I’m not tied to my computer like I often am in the colder months.  I’ve been digging deep in the archives to find  some recipes worth sharing again.  These all aired in the blog’s earlier days, but I’m pretty sure the only people who were there to see them go live were CV(D), Wooden Nickels, and Cari Faye.  They are my tried and true staples, and they’ll run for a few weeks while I enjoy the good life.  I’ll check back in with you later this summer dear readers.



Warning:  2 chickens were harmed in the making of this post.

I’ve made chicken stock before, but never with this much flavor.  This time, I threw in more carrots, because they were about to go bad, and more cloves of garlic.  I didn’t peel or chop them, I just threw them in.  It was fun.  Also, more thyme.

And this stock turned out so much more flavorful than my last.  Why?  Were the chickens better?  Was the secret just to throw everything in the pot a la Ina, rather than slicing, dicing and browning a la Love and Olive Oil?  Maybe it was my “backyard” thyme?

I have no idea, but I’m glad it made so much.  These 9 cups are just the beginning.  The rest is in the freezer.  Can’t wait to make dinners with this.

Ummm, I didn’t really follow a recipe, I just made this by feel.  I used Ina’s recipe as a guide, but consulted with my main man Mark as well.

*Original post here

On Over-Thinking [cranberry bliss bars]

Sous Chef Lauren and I used to think we’d make pretty good psychologists.  I don’t know where she stands on that old assertion to this day, but I still maintain I wouldn’t be a bad one.

For one thing, I’m a pretty good judge of character.

And for another, oh man, do I over-analyze everything.

craberry bliss bar

Take, for instance, these cranberry bliss bars.  I made these after a former colleague raved about them.  I’ve always eyed them at Starbucks, but I’m a coffee-only girl there.  I’ve had a cake pop once and that’s it.  If I let myself get food it would open the floodgates to hundreds of calories I never needed in my day.

But we all know I don’t hold back in my own kitchen.

Plus every year at Christmas I used to make these cranberry, white chocolate chip cookies that I never really loved, but everybody else raved about, and maybe I would like these more.

And ohmygosh maybe I should bring some to my morning Starbucks team because they’re some of my favorite people, and it’s kind of funny because Starbucks makes these bars, but I bet the homemade version is better.


But then I started over-thinking.  Wait, Starbucks makes these bars.  I wonder if the people who work there even like them? Is everyone sick of them?  Do they really want more of something they can have at any time?

And then I realized.  It’s the holiday season.  The perfect time of year to thank people who do nice things for you on a regular basis.  Shut up and hand over the bars, Jennie.  People will appreciate the gesture, even if they find you mildly odd for baking them something that sits in front of them all day.  They will feel warm and fuzzy because you thought of them.

favorite teacher

And that’s exactly what happened.

To make cranberry bliss bars for a crowd, you will need:

For the bars:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 2/3 C brown sugar, unpacked (Whaaaat? I definitely didn’t pay attention to that when I made them)
  • 1/4 C unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2/3 C white chocolate chips
  • 1/3 C dried cranberries, chopped

For the topping

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 oz. white chocolate
  • 1/3 C dried cranberries, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  In another bowl, whisk sugars, butter, egg whites, applesauce, and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to the dry mixture, and stir till combined.  Fold in white chocolate chips and cranberries.  Press mixture into baking pan, packing it tightly with the back of a measuring cup.  Bake 10-14 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

When bars are cooled completely, prepare the topping.  Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.  Spread frosting on top of bars.  Sprinkle with cranberries.  Melt white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.  Drizzle over bars (I used a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off).

Cut into squares first, then cut each square in half until you have triangles.

22 Recipes Everyone Should Know How to Cook

Did you see Bon Appetit’s post about the 22 recipes everyone should know how to cook?


We’re doing pretty well over here, how about you?*

1.  Spaghetti and Meatballs

2.  Classic Salad

3.  Chicken Pot Pie  (and on a larger scale, use this recipe)

4.  Garlic Bread

5.  Chocolate Chip Cookies (or, here, here, or here)

6. Fritatta (classic, or leftover-friendly)

7.  Fried Chicken

8.  Cocoa Brownies (and because there is no definitive best brownie, here, here, or here)

9.  Pancakes (my favorite classic buttermilk pancakes, and a roundup of some other winners here)

10. Burger (I don’t have a recipe for burgers?  Probably because my husband grills them.)

11.  Mac and Cheese

12.  Chicken Noodle Soup

13. Pot Roast – coming soon!

14.  Potato Salad (I’m partial to mayo-free versions)

15. Lasagna Bolognese (and a much easier version here)

16.  Roast Chicken

17.  Fried Rice (No idea where to start on this one.  Any tips, dear readers?)

18.  Tomato Soup

19. Perfect Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs (Okay, they’re not pan roasted.  But I’m not really allowed to make any other ones)

20. Mashed Potatoes

21. The Perfect Pot of Rice (this is my husband’s domain)

22.  Mussels (no thank you)

*always cook with wine

The Mushy Part

Oh man did I love Full House growing up.  I’m not sure what it was about that show, but I couldn’t get enough of it.  Seriously, when my mom needed a solid punishment, taking away the new episode on Tuesday was about as rough as it could get for me.  And as Wooden Nickels watched over my shoulder more days than she’d probably care to admit, she noted that each show contained a “mushy part,” a vignette in which the synthesizer soundtrack kicks into high gear, and one of those adorable Tanner daughters realized the error of her ways.

Aside from a 90s sitcom or two (Dear readers, Steve came back!), I am not the most emotional person, which worked in my favor whilst I searched for an emotionally stable life partner.  I found one, we got married, and my world has continued to spin, mush-free, ever since.

With the exception of one little tradition.


Every year, we eat at the same place we ate (and loved) on our honeymoon.

It’s a tradition I look forward to all year.

And this year, I had the most amazing salad.

peach salad




Country ham,

Salted pistachios,

And vanilla black pepper vinaigrette.

When I saw it on the menu, it reminded me of these, and I knew I had to have it.

market peach

And then it was a matter of time before I had to make it for myself.

peach salad

I couldn’t make it exactly as it was put before me back in North Carolina, but I came pretty close.  I swapped out the country ham for prosciutto, and the vanilla vinaigrette for honey.  It was a beautiful way to savor what summer has to offer.  And when we ate it, my icy-cold heart got to indulge in a little more mushiness over again.

I don’t have an exact recipe, but I’ll tell you what I did.

Place a generous schmear of ricotta (this is my fave) on a plate.  Pile a heap of arugula on top.  Tear up a piece of prosciutto and drop over top of salad.  Cut peach into large chunks, and nestle into greens.  Dress with this vinaigrette, sans shallots and garlic.

Pesto Week – Friday

Dear readers, welcome to pesto week here at A Glass of Milk.  I’m hoping your garden is bursting at the seams with basil, just like K’s.  Since she asked me what to do with all that green, we’re spending the week talking about my favorite herb, and my favorite sauce.  Which also means taking a trip down memory lane.  Enjoy the ride!

Except today isn’t about pesto.  Today is just about basil.  It’s Friday.  It’s my birthday!  We’re breaking the rules!  It’s time for a drink.

I dare you to slip some vodka into this baby.  It remains the beverage of my dreams.

You know the day you can smell spring coming?  When it has been too cold for too long and suddenly you walk outside and it just feels different?  The first day you roll the windows down in your car?

I call it a Dave Matthews day, because that’s the kind of mood I’m in.  I switch to my “Chill” playlist and need fresh flavors in the kitchen.

In the fall and winter, I drink milk, water, beer and wine.  That’s it.  I don’t drink juice, I don’t drink soda, I don’t drink coffee(!).  Empty calories.

In the spring and summer I break my rules for lemonade.  I cannot resist fresh-squeezed.  I played around with the perfect ratio of lemons to water to simple syrup (and the ratio of sugar to water in that) and then I found this.  Giada.  You have truly outdone yourself.  Many reviewers called for more water, and I got on board with that.  But if you watch Giada make this, you’ll notice the glasses into which she pours the finished product are almost completely filled with ice.  In my head, a happy place where Giada can do no wrong, she has the situation covered with her large, ice-filled glasses.

The basil simple syrup makes the lemonade (do you believe it?) even cooler and more refreshing.  It feels like a drink someone would offer you at a spa.  Definitely one worth sipping on the porch.

**Updated** Ummmmmm, this is pretty much destiny, folks!  Now back to the show…

Italian Lemonade

*adapted from Giada De Laurentiis…I did add more water, and only filled the glasses with a couple of cubes of ice.  I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live their life.  Lemonade is a matter of taste as well as personal convictions.  You may enjoy different amounts of water, sugar and lemons.  This was what worked for me.

  • 2 C lemon juice (12-15 lemons)
  • 4 C water, flat or sparkling (ooh la la)
  • 1C water
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 bunch basil, washed and stemmed
  • Ice
  • lemon slices and basil sprigs for garnish (ups the glam factor)

First, you’re going to make basil simple syrup.  Simple syrup is sugar that’s heated up with water until it dissolves.  Basil simple syrup is sugar that’s heated up with water until it dissolves but also has basil added for infused flavor.  Don’t you want to be able to say you made a basil infused simple syrup?  You’ll be ready for Top Chef in no time!

Pour 1 C flat water in a small sauce pan, with basil and 2 C sugar.  Stir, stir, stir, until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.  Strain syrup through a fine mesh sieve.  Discard the basil leaves.  They’ve given you all they could.

From there, pour the lemon juice, simple syrup and water in a pitcher and give it a stir.  Serve in cute little glasses with ice and a lemon twist.  Get ready for spring.

*I am posting this under drinks as well as cocktails because it has serious potential.

Pesto Week – Wednesday

Dear readers, welcome to pesto week here at A Glass of Milk.  I’m hoping your garden is bursting at the seams with basil, just like K’s.  Since she asked me what to do with all that green, we’re spending the week talking about my favorite herb, and my favorite sauce.  Which also means taking a trip down memory lane.  Enjoy the ride!

I’ve never been one for salads held together by mayo.  More often than not, I’ll find a way (hello Greek yogurt!) to swap it out and replace it with a much more palatable ingredient.  And somewhere along the way I noticed that people were using pesto to hold salads together, where mayo might have been used before.

It works beautifully mixed with chicken and placed in heaping proportions on this sandwich.

It keeps people coming back for more of this potato salad.

It’s fun and different when mixed with spinach and edamame in this perfect weekday lunch option.

And my all time favorite pesto salad is one I invented myself, with quinoa and almonds.  See below.

This above all.

To thine own self be true.

I absolutely love Ina’s green beans with crispy shallots, and find that it will complement just about anything you could dream of putting on your table.  So on a never-ending quest to eat more fruits and vegetables, I turned it into a salad, complete with pesto, toasted almonds, and quinoa. Now it’s a meal unto itself.

Now, I make a big bowl on the weekends, and finish it off for lunch throughout the week.

Know what you love, and build on it.  A simple side dish could become a meal, a salad, a casserole, and who knows what else?

Let yourself get crazy in the kitchen.

To make Green Bean Salad with Almonds, Shallots and Quinoa, for a couple days, you will need:

  • 1/4 C sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 or 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 lb. haricot verts, trimmed
  • 1/2 C pesto
  • 1 C cooked quinoa (or other leftover grain like couscous or barley)
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • A couple splashes of white wine vinegar, if you’re into that kind of thing

Saute the shallots in a tablespoon of olive oil till they are crispy, about 8 minutes.  Remove shallots and set aside, leaving oil in the pan.  Saute green beans till nice and hot, and as cooked through as you like them.  For me, that’s about 4 minutes.  Dump the almonds, shallots, green beans, and quinoa in a bowl and toss till mixed.  Stir in pesto and white wine vinegar, if using.  Serve warm or at room temperature.