Jan 24, 2012

Sugared Cardamom Bacon

Mmmmm bacon! I thought bacon couldn't get any better... until I made this! It's from Jessica over at How Sweet It Is. I added less cardamom because - let's be realistic here - how many of you even know what cardamom is? It kind of intimidates me. I've only used it one other time in my life and it was too overpowering and ruined the dish. I think it smells lovely, but I was nervous about its strength, so we went with a low dose. If you are a lover of cardamom, then feel free to double it. This bacon is super simple and absolutely AMAZING!

1 lb sliced bacon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil, then top with a wire rack. 
Combine brown sugar and cardamom and spread on a large plate. Dredge bacon slices through the mix, lightly patting the sugar on top but not overdoing it. Lay strips on wire rack and bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping the bacon once halfway through.
Remove and cool on wire rack for 1 minute. Do not cool on paper towels - they will stick.
Best Bacon Ever!!

Recipe Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Jan 17, 2012


Yep, you read that right - it's called Stoup. It's thicker than soup but thinner than stew, so it's stoup! As an adult, it seems like such a silly thing to say. But growing up, there was nothing silly about it.

This is home to me. It's another recipe passed to my mom from her mom and then passed on down to me. Actually, I don't remember ever seeing an actual recipe. I know I watched and helped my mom make it and when I went to college I had to call my mom to verify that I was making it right. But, it's super simple. It's an easy crock pot/cook all day kind of dish, so it's great for busy days.

Plus, I've had a few requests for healthier recipes (I don't know why no one else lives on dessert and breakfast foods alone??) and since this uses a less fatty cut of meat and lots of veggies - I'm hoping my whinier healthier friends will be happy!

And, of course, with all of the snow blowing around, it's nice to come home to a hot pot of soup. Or stew. Stoup!

2 lbs stew beef (usually chuck roast cut into bite size pieces)
1 large onion
1 lb carrots (either baby carrots or sliced carrots)
8 ounces frozen peas
8 ounces frozen corn
2 cans diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried basil
6 medium potatoes cut into bite-size pieces
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup red wine to de-glaze the pan after removing the beef and onions
1/2 cup pearl barley added to pot with potatoes - makes it a bit thicker

In a large skillet over high heat, brown beef and onion in oil until meat is no longer pink; drain. Transfer to a crock pot (slow cooker). Add water, carrots, peas, corn, tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes, paprika and basil. Add water to pot until ingredients are just covered. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Add the potatoes. Cover and cook on low 1-2 hours longer or until beef and vegetables are tender.

Jan 16, 2012

And The Winner Is...

My cute friend, Nori (AKA KilaMOMjaro)! Congrats, my fellow baker! Just send me a message with your addy and I'll send the super cute spoons off right away! Thanks, everyone for entering. Any ideas as to what the next contest prize should be?

Jan 13, 2012

Homemade S'mores

 I know that S'mores are as easy as PB&J or a bowl of cereal, but you haven't lived until you've made your own mallows and grahams... and then toasted them and slathered them with mana from heaven (AKA Nutella). Plus, you get to cut the marshmallow to whatever size and shape you want! Just bear with me on this post. Then follow the directions. Then bake me cookies to thank me. Or maybe just buy me stuff from Trader Joe's.

Homemade Marshmallows
Homemade Graham Crackers
Nutella (or chocolate chips, or Hershey's... but I loved the Nutella best!)

Turn oven on Broil. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place desired amount of Graham crackers on parchment paper. Put a whopping-ly huge marshmallow on half of the graham crackers. Leave the other crackers bare.

Broil in the oven until tops of the marshmallows just begin to smoke. Remove the pans from the oven, turn the marshmallows upside-down and return to broil the other side. Broil until it's nice and crispy. You may want to catch a few on fire (and blow them out super fast!).

Add your chocolate to the marshmallow-less cracker. Smoosh the two together. 

 Then eat them!!! And lick the yummy deliciousness as it oozes out of the S'more. Don't forget to lick your plate. Heaven, right? That's the best part - all of the gooey slop that drips onto your plate.

Then have S'more!

Jan 12, 2012

Homemade Graham Crackers

This recipe is from my second attempt at making graham crackers. My first attempt was successful and delicious, just a bit more time consuming than I thought it should be (recipe is here: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/000126.html ). Plus, my hubs said the crackers weren't crunchy enough - like regular graham crackers are. So then I came up with this recipe!  I liked the flavor of the first recipe better, but I might try the one I posted below with a little bit of honey or molasses - which will hopefully add more flavor. After you make these, try some Homemade S'mores with Homemade Marshmallows! Amazing! Or just dip them in milk... equally awesome!

1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups wheat flour
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

In a medium bowl, cream together the shortening and brown sugar. Stir in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir into the creamed mixture alternately with the milk. Cover and chill dough 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough into quarters. Place one quarter of dough onto a strip of parchment paper or a silicone mat large enough to fit on a cookie sheet. Lightly flour top of dough and rolling pin. Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness. Trim sides until you have one large rectangle. With a pizza cutter, slice dough vertically into four rectangles, and then horizontally into 8 total:

Poke 9 holes (I used the back end of a little paintbrush). Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until crisp. Edges will be golden brown. Immediately remove parchment or silicone mat from baking sheet to cool on wire racks.

Jan 11, 2012

Homemade Marshmallows

Holy marshmallows, Batman. These things are ridiculous. And by ridiculous, I mean you will want to shove 10 of them in your mouth and try to say "Chubby Bunny." Except you'll be too busy trying to swallow them to make room for more of them in your fluffy mouth. Or maybe you'll be like me and you'll stare at them trying to come up with all of the different ways to eat them. With just one batch we had...

Hot Cocoa...

S'mores on Homemade Graham Crackers (stayed tuned, folks... those will be on the blog tomorrow!):

(This is pre-toasted)

Chocolate Peppermint Marshmallows:

S'more S'mores:

 And a whole lot of eating them plain! (Plus a few more S'mores... a few more times!)

The process was much easier than I thought marshmallow making would be. Plus, who doesn't love licking marshmallow ooze off a spatula? (Just make sure your hair is pulled far away from your mouth... marshmallow hair? Not so lovely.) 

About 1 cup powdered sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla

Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some powdered sugar.

In bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using a stand mixer or about 10 minutes if using a hand-held mixer. (Some reviewers felt this took even longer with a hand mixer, but still eventually whipped up nicely.)

In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan. Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (An oiled pizza cutter works well here too.) Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.

Do ahead: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.

Recipe adapted from smitten kitchen

Jan 9, 2012

100th Post + Giveaway!

***Sorry, contest is closed. Stay tuned for more fun contests!***

This is the 100th post on my little food blog! To celebrate, I'm going to do a little giveaway! But first, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite recipes! Here are my top ten favorite recipes (click the name of the recipe to go to that recipe page!):

Just about the most ooey gooey chocolate-y dessert you'll ever find - Best Brownies:

 Cinnamon & Sugar Doughnut Muffins:

The BEST pizza I've EVER had - Margherita Pizza:

Heaven in a bar - Homemade Twix Bars:

Equally fantastical - Homemade Butterfingers:

A super simple, super family friendly meal - Sweet and Sour Meatballs:

And my #1 Recipe from all 100 of them...

So, my sweet friends... I'd like to thank you all for reading my rambles, commenting on my posts, and using my recipes to fill your tummies! I love hearing from you and seeing what you think of the recipes I post. Because of that, I'm giving away these ADORABLE Cupcake Measuring Spoons by Ganz! I think they are just about the cutest thing I could have in my kitchen. And I'd love to share them with you! 

Seriously... how cute?!?!

Love love love!

To enter, leave a comment below telling me which of my recipes is your favorite. If you post on your blog about my giveaway, leave another comment below with a link to your post. I will close the contest on Sunday, January 15th at 9pm PST. Limit of 2 entries per person... please just be honest. :) Sunday evening I'll randomly pick a winner and Monday morning I'll announce the winner! Then, I'll mail the lucky winner their new set of super cute Cupcake Measuring Spoons! Good luck friends!

Jan 6, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Cake

I'm not going to talk about this amazing cake too much because there's plenty of recipe verbiage about to happen up in this joint. All you need to know that it is a party in your mouth just waiting to happen. Like the party of the year. The exclusive one that only cool people get invited to. And you're invited. 'Cuz it's in your mouth. Okay I'll stop now. 

P.S. Just kidding, I'm still talking. Be sure to read the recipe all the way through before you make it. The filling is supposed to chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before you assemble the cake, and the cake is supposed to hang out in the freezer while the filling is chilling (ha!) in the fridge. In other words... make this early in the day.

Chocolate Peppermint Cake


2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs - at room temperature
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup milk
butter for greasing the pans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with a circle of parchment or wax paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and slowly add the sugar. Continue beating until light and smooth, about 4 minutes. Turn the mixer off and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the cocoa powder and vanilla and beat at medium speed for 1 minute more. (Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl again, if needed.) With the mixer running at medium-low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Combine the water and milk in a saucepan and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat.

With the mixer at low speed, add the flour mixture, about a 1/4 cup at a time. Carefully pour the hot liquid into the batter. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a large rubber spatula, finish combining the batter until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Lightly drop each pan onto the counter to settle the batter.

Set the pans on the middle rack in the oven. Bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pans and the center springs back when touched lightly, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool the cakes, in the pans, on a rack for 10 minutes. Turn the cake layers out of the pans and cool on the rack. (If not assembling the cake right away, wrap the layers in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 1 day, or freeze for up to 2 months.)

Assembly and Decorating:


1/4 cup finely crushed peppermint candies
1/2 (10.5 oz bag) miniature marshmallows
2 (12 oz) cartons Cool Whip
15-20 starlight mints
1/2 package crushed Oreo's
When cakes are cool, slice each layer in half horizontally to make four thin layers, total. Place a piece of wax paper between each layer and put sliced cake in the freezer while you make the filling. 

To make filling, combine peppermint candies, marshmallows, and one container of the Cool Whip. Mix until smooth. Chill, covered in refrigerator 2-3 hours. Remove cake layers from the freezer and separate. Spread one-third of the filling on the first layer and then place another layer of cake on top of the filling. Repeat this  process with the next two layers. Place the last layer on top and frost the sides and top with the second container of whipped topping. Take a handful of cookie crumbs and gently pat (or, like my husband did: throw) on to the side of the cake. Repeat until sides of cake are covered with crumbs. Garnish with rosettes of whipped topping, starlight mints, and cookie crumbs. Serve cold. 

Recipe adapted from Food Network and Lion House Bakery.

Jan 5, 2012

Savory Cheese Ball - Guest Post!

I am so excited that my sweet friend, Jennie has swapped blogs with me for today! You can find my post for today on her amazing blog: Mommy's Kitchen Creations. She's whipped up an awesome Super Bowl cheese ball to share with you guys. I hope you enjoy!

Hey Pickle Boat readers!  My name is Jennie from Mommy's Kitchen CreationsYou all are so lucky to have found Megan's blog.  Isn't she amazing?  I've had her food, and let me tell you...Its even better than it looks! 

For all of you football fans out there... here is an awesome recipe for you today.  It's time to start planning your menu for that super bowl party you are hosting this year. This cheese ball is a definite must for your appetizer spread.  My sweet neighbor used to make this for me every Christmas.  I think I was more excited about the anticipation of the cheese ball showing up at my door, than all of the gifts under the tree.  Yeah, it's seriously that good! I would always make her and her husband, my famous cinnamon rolls.  I have since moved away and lost hope of ever seeing that cheese ball again. I can't believe I never asked her for the recipe.  I ended up running into her while I was Black Friday shopping.  We both blurted out across the masses, almost simultaneously, that we missed each other's treats.  We made our way over to each other and I was finally able to get her recipe.
Ahh, my palate is at peace once again.

Savory Cheese Ball

2 (8 oz) blocks of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 green bell pepper chopped
1/2 small yellow onion chopped
1 (2 oz) package of corned beef (deli meat) chopped

Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix with an electric mixer.  Separate mixture into two balls and roll into crushed pecans or walnuts. Serve with crackers.
Tip:  feel free to play around with the amount of peppers and onions depending on your tastes

Jan 4, 2012

Philadelphia Sticky Buns

I don't know about everyone else's upbringing, but there is nothing in my childhood that was more constant than holiday traditions. Christmas was a big deal in our home and my favorite memories of my mom are all related in some way to that time of year. Whether it was decorating, baking, or gifting, my mom went all out... The baking part is actually pretty amazing since I can literally count on one hand the foods my mom actually cooked well throughout the rest of the year.

My two favorite holiday dishes are recipes that my mom got from her mom. Amazing, again, because my Grandmom, Polly, was also not the best cook in the world. Everyone always told the story of how Grandmom's house was the last house on the block to finally get a microwave... Grandmom knew that microwaves cook food faster, so she assumed that meant that she would just burn her food faster. Shockingly, though, holiday meals were always a huge success.

And every Christmas morning meant Philadelphia Sticky Buns. They can be assembled quickly the night before and left in the fridge until morning. Then, just take them out to rise while the presents are being unwrapped and bake them when you're ready.

I'm going to post an ingredient list, because my recipe doesn't have it. Hopefully it's helpful!

1 loaf frozen white bread dough (I just get the Rhodes brand 3-pack in the freezer aisle)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (divided) butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
raisins (optional) 
cinnamon and sugar mixture

The directions below are verbatim from my Grandmom's recipe card:

Philadelphia Sticky Buns - Frozen Bread Recipe
Let frozen loaf thaw at room temp (2 to 3 hrs) or in refridge (6 to 10 hrs). Roll dough to size 8" x 12' starting on 12" side. Brish wish 2 tbl melted butter & sprinkle with cinnamon sugar & raisins. Roll up like a jelly roll & cut into 10 or 12 slices. Put in 9" square or round pan in which 1/4 c butter, 1/2 c packed brown sugar have been melted. Stir first & add a few raisins, if desired. Let rise in a warm place (slightly warmed oven, turned off is a good place - no drafts) until doubled in size (3/4-1 hr). Bake at 375 for 25-30 min. Turn out of pan IMMEDIATELY. 

Jan 3, 2012

Pumpkin Ginger Scones

My sweet husband surprised us with these yummy scones for breakfast. My daughter has been wanting us to make this style of scones for almost a year. The hubby finally delivered. And boy were they yummy! Not too sweet, not too dense, a little kick (ginger), and pumpkin! Plus they're a lot healthier than any doughnut or cinnamon roll you could make. We sliced them open and slathered on some homemade apple butter. Yum!

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup pumpkin purée, well drained, canned or made from 1/2 pound fresh*
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Sift together the flours, salt, ginger, baking powder and baking soda. Place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

2. Add the butter to the food processor, and pulse several times until it is distributed throughout the flour. The mixture should have the consistency of coarse cornmeal.

3. Beat together the pumpkin purée, buttermilk and maple syrup in a small bowl, and scrape into the food processor. Process just until the dough comes together.

4. Scrape onto a lightly floured surface, and gently shape into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick. Cut into six squares, then cut the squares in half on the diagonal to form 12 triangular pieces. Place on the baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on a rack.

*To roast the pumpkin: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Place the pumpkin pieces on the baking sheet, drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive or canola oil on top, cover tightly with foil and place in the oven. Roast for 1 1/2 hours or until thoroughly tender. Remove from the heat, transfer to a strainer or a colander set over a bowl or in the sink, and allow to cool and drain. Peel the pieces, and purée in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

recipe adapted from NY Times

Jan 2, 2012

Buttermilk Pie

If you ever happen to pass through Utah, you MUST go to Magleby's. It's a mom and pop restaurant started by an amazing dessert cook mom and a motorcycle enthusiast pop. Sounds familiar, no? It has a super home-y feel and very flavorful dishes. My two favorites are their Parmesan Crusted Breadsticks (copycat recipe coming soon) and their Buttermilk Pie. I've tried to recreate their pie many times. This recipe is the closest I've found yet. It's basically a thick custard-like pie with a hint of spice. It's best served with some crushed raspberries, fresh whipped cream, and a little mint. My husband surprised me for my 30th birthday this year by making and bringing two of these to my party at a delicious restaurant here in town.

6T unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
3 Tablespoons flour
1Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk - room temperature
1 baked 9 inch deep dish pie shell

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine butter and sugar until sugar is incorporated fully. Add egg yolks and mix well until combined. Add flour, lemon juice, nutmeg and salt. Slowly add buttermilk. Mix well and set aside.
In another bowl, whip egg whites until they form soft peaks. Pour small amount of buttermilk mixture into the whites. Fold gently until just combined.
Pour custard into baked pie shell. Bake in the middle of the oven until filling is slightly browned and barely moves when pie is jiggled - approximately 45-50 minutes.
Cool and serve warm.
Refrigerate leftovers.

Jan 1, 2012

Not-Soggy Bread Pudding

Happy New Year! I have the perfect way to welcome 2012...


 I'm not quite sure what to call this recipe since it's not really bread pudding. Bread pudding is mushy and soggy. This is not. It's more like a combination of French Toast and Cinnamon Rolls. But I can't really call it French Rolls because that's something totally different. Plus there isn't any rolling involved. Also, I can't call it Cinnamon Toast, because that's something else, too. The original recipe was bread pudding, and the technique is for bread pudding... but I've changed it to be much more delicious - and much less soggy - than traditional bread pudding. Très chic! Even my bread-pudding-hating sister loved it!


10 slices white bread sliced in 1" cubes - I prefer to use Grandma Sycamore's white bread, but if you can't find that, any thick, heavy white bread will do. The thicker the bread, the less soggy the bread pudding. 
1/4 c butter, melted
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups HOT milk
ground nutmeg
more cinnamon
1 apple cider packet (about 1 tablespoon mix)
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In large bowl, combine melted butter, raisins, and cinnamon. Add bread cubes and toss well to coat. Transfer to a large baking dish. The bigger and more shallow the better. Be sure to spread the raisins around evenly.
Use same mixing bowl to beat eggs. Stir in sugar, vanilla, and salt until sugar is dissolved. Slowly whisk in hot milk. Pour mixture over bread cubes, sprinkling with cinnamon and nutmeg. Let soak for 5 minutes. Bake 25- 30 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Mix powdered sugar and apple cider mix in small bowl and add water a little at a time until glaze consistency is reached. Drizzle over bread pudding just before serving. Serve warm.

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