Flashback Friday – Clazy

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 7/28/08 at Exit 51


In a single word, this will be one clazy week.  I’ve got several major deadlines at work that require varying degrees of my time.  I’m hosting dinner for 8 on Friday.  And this weekend, the mistah and I will embark on the South Beach program (I hate the word diet).

The reason for SB is that I think we could definitely be making some better food choice at our house.  And if our wardrobes happen to fit better as a result, so much the better. Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Clazy”

Commitment Chili

I haven’t been watching the Barefoot Contessa the way I used to.  There’s something I can’t quite define about the current season of her show that I’m not enjoying.  But I happened to be watching the episode where she had Devon Fredericks on making her award winning chili and no sooner was the show over than I was online printing out the recipe.

I don’t know how many people Ms. Fredericks usually cooks for or how big her dutch oven is, but there was no way I could make the recipe without scaling it down.  Gallons of anything is not a scale I feel comfortable working in and I personally don’t have a single pot that would hold that much chili.  So I made my adjustments and got to cooking.

Now I knew that this recipe needed a long cooking time so I purposely got to work early in the day.  I like to exaggerate a little so I tweeted that I was making some crazy 6 Hour Chili.  And then about two hours later once everything was cut, seared, stirred, and the chili was actually simmering away I went back to twitter and said that this should have been called “6 Hour, 2 cutting board, 5 bowl, every utensil you have will be dirtied chili” because of the mass destruction the recipe unleashed in my kitchen.  At least I had a good long time to clean up the mess.  A few loads of dishes later, the chili was still simmering away at which point I decided that instead of calling it 6 Hour Chili, I ought to call it Commitment Chili because deciding to make the recipe calls for you to commit to get from start to finish.  There aren’t any shortcuts with this recipe.  Not in the time it takes.  And not in the ingredients you use.

So if you have a fear of commitment, then perhaps you should avert your eyes now.  Because once I say that this was some of the best chili I’ve ever eaten, you’re going to want to know how to make it.  And I can’t be held responsible for what actions you take after that.

Last chance….

…Ok, this was some of the best chili I’ve ever eaten.  It was worth the 6 hours, 2 cutting boards, 5 bowls, and every utensil it took to get that beautiful bowl of chili.  It was also worth the $20 I spent on brisket.  Like I said, there are no shortcuts.  And the brisket is really what sets this chili apart for me.  The big hunks of tender beef make this a dish that I would be proud to serve to company.  For real, if I say that I’m making 6 Hour Chili, you need to find out what time dinner is served and then just happen to be in my neighborhood around that time.

Commitment Chili

Adapted from Devon Fredericks

BAH Note:  Even after adjusting the amount of cayenne, chili powder, and red pepper flakes I used, the chili still packed a lot of heat.  The next time I make it, I need to find a way to cut back further on the spice.  Because no meal is enjoyable if it overwhelms you.  And you can always add more spice but once it’s in there, it’s in there.

BAH Note PS: After this post published I had a few folks say that the likely culprit for the level of heat was the cayenne.  Next time I’m going to turn down the cayenne to about 1/4 teaspoon and see where that gets me.  Kathy recommended “several tablespoons of ancho and regular commercial chili powder plus I throw in a couple of whole jalapenos and my chili is only vaguely hot” and over on Facebook Wendy said “The 1 tsp cayenne is absolutely blistering. Cut that back to 1/4 tsp and use additional chiles – I use a blend of chiptole for spice, smoke, and fruitiness, ancho for richness, pasilla and guajillo for a prunelike fruitiness”.  Thanks ladies.  I can’t wait to implement these ideas.

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds beef brisket
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups tomatoes, chopped (with their liquid)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup strong coffee
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black or kidney beans

Pat the brisket dry with paper towels, cut into 1 inch cubes, and season with salt and pepper.

Heat half the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat and sear the beef in batches, adding more oil as needed.  Transfer the seared beef to a separate bowl.  Saute the onion and garlic in the same pan until softened, approximately 5 to 8 minutes.  Add the chili powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and cumin to the pan and cook for 1 minute.  Add the green pepper, bay leaf, tomatoes and juices, and the seared beef to the pan.  Bring to a boil, cover the pot with a lid, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  After 2 1/2 hours, stir in the coffee, add salt and pepper to taste, cover and simmer for another hour.  Add the beans, stir to warm through, and serve.

{printable recipe}


Coconut Macaroons

The Universe has a way of bringing the most fascinating people into my life.  So what do you think happened when I gathered a bunch of them around the dinner table?  Only the best dinner party I’ve ever given, that’s what.  Who were these fascinating people, you might be asking yourself.  Let me tell you.

Sweet Mary – Seriously one of the most generous souls, Mary has taken her love of education, food, and travel and woven them together into the fabric of her life experiences.  A common theme throughout all of her adventures is the idea of community.  Whether it is on a small island in French Polynesia, in the classroom, or around her kitchen table, Mary has seen the power that comes from connecting with other people in meaningful ways.

Inspired Taste – Adam and Joanne use their love of food and cooking together to strengthen their relationship.  I admire the fact that they prepare food together and it is a positive experience.  That means that there is hope that one day The Mistah and I can truly collaborate in the kitchen, which I think is pretty inspiring.

Angry Asian Creations – Lan has seen parts of the world I can only imagine abstractly.  Like Ethiopia.  I mean, I know where it is on a map but I can’t even begin to comprehend what it must be like to live there. She is also an example of a good Bread Bible Student and proof that if I would just apply myself, I would be rewarded.

Grace Before Meals – Combining his love of food and his faith, Fr. Leo knows the power that comes from sharing a meal together.  And he is on a mission to get us around the table strengthening our families, building our communities.  Maybe more than anyone I know, Fr. Leo is so perfectly suited to his vocation that I can’t imagine him in any other role.

Gathered around the table, sharing a meal, we told our stories.  We talked about our hopes and aspirations.  There may have even been an admission of some Food Network crushes, the details of which will stay among the six of us.  So in those moments when I ask myself why I keep this food blog going, I only need to remember the feeling of community, understanding, and inspiration that we created.

I sent all my guests home with coconut macaroons.  They left with goodies, but their presence was a tremendous gift to me.

Coconut Macaroons

Adapted from Baking Bites

BAH Note:  You don’t have to use a stand mixer for this recipe. A hand held one would work just fine as would some good old fashioned elbow grease.  These morsels are moist and chewy perfection.

  • 14 ounces sweetened flake coconut
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the coconut in a food processor and pulse until the coconut is chopped into rice size pieces.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and salt.  When smooth, add the cornstarch and 1 teaspoon of almond extract and whisk until smooth.  Add the coconut and continue to whisk until it is evenly coated.

Using a small ice cream scoop (approximately 1 tablespoon) portion out the macaroons onto your parchment and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until they are golden on the bottom and just browned on top.  Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately 24.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Get Yo’ Pie On

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 7/23/08 at Exit 51

Get Yo’ Pie On

I’m not one to spread rumors.


According to their web site, the Hampden location of Dangersouly Delicious Pies is open.

Maybe after the non-national retail chain repair service appointment on Saturday (after that fiasco, I found a local company who was more than happy to have a live person make an appointment with me that I have every expectation will be kept), the mistah and I can make a run into Hampden for some Dangerously Delicious Pie.

But maybe I should call first.  Just to be sure they are in fact open.  So if you call and get a busy signal, that would be me jamming their lines so you think they aren’t open and don’t come and eat all the pie before we get there.

Sadly, in the time since this first posted on Exit 51, the Hampden location of Dangerously Delicious closed.  However, they are still serving up seriously good pie from the shop on Light Street.

Caramel Apple Muffins

I’ve been half jokingly telling some folks I follow on Twitter that I am going to have parental controls installed on my computer that will block me from seeing the wonderous things they are making with butter, sugar, and flour.  Because anymore, I feel like I gain 5 pounds by just turning on the pc and going through my reader.

So I do try and be deliberate about what recipes I print out and bring home.  And I try to have a strategy outlined as to how the baked goods will exit our house as quickly as possible to limit my opportunities to overindulge.  Typically, this plan involves coworkers.  They bear the brunt of my sugary obsession.  But recently, the Universe presented me with the opportunity to share my compulsion to ‘bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean’ with my neighbors.  I’ll set the scene for you.

The Mistah and I had gone out to grab some dinner.  There may have been tater tots and chocolate malted milkshakes involved.  Then again, there may not have.  You’d have to have been on Twitter that night to know for sure.  And while we were out, someone hit my car parked back at home.  How do I know this?  Because a neighbor came knocking on our door at 10pm to ask whether the car parked under the street lamp was ours.  When we confirmed that it was, she proceeded to explain how earlier the car had been hit not once, not twice, but three times by another driver.  This outrageousness had been witnessed by several folks and they managed to record the tag number of the driver before she fled the scene.  Because you know that driver did not leave a note.

So the neighbors see everything that happens, they get the tag number.  And they called the police to report the hit and run.  In a million years, I would never have seen that one coming.  Using the information provided by the witnesses, the officer matched the tag number with a person and went and paid her a little visit.  And so it was that when this neighbor came over to let us know that our car had been hit and I went outside to inspect the damage, I found the card the officer had left with all of the information about the driver that I would need to file a claim.

Really.  I can call my insurance company and let them know which of Allsate’s customers is going to be funding the new side panel and hood on my car.  This had to be thanked and rewarded because I really think most people would have turned a blind eye to the whole thing.  So I decided that the appropriate way to say thanks was with butter, sugar, flour, apples, and caramel.  Because I wanted to make Caramel Apple Muffins.  I just did not want to be left alone with them.

So that’s what I did.  I made muffins.  I had some challenges.  I may have had a failed experiment in using a food processor to chop caramel candies.  I may have had to clean scorched batter and topping off of pans and pizza stones.  But I was able to go knocking on a couple of doors and use Caramel Apple Muffins to say thank you.

I can’t guarantee that if you look out for your neighbors one of them will show up on your doorstep with some freshly baked muffins.  But it sure as hell can’t hurt your chances either.

Caramel Apple Muffins

Adapted from Sugarcrafter.net

BAH Note: It was a huge pain to chop up the caramels.  I wonder what would happen if you just nestled a whole caramel in each muffin cup?  Also, I made the mistake of overfilling my muffin cups.  So when the batter rose I ended up with a mix of batter and topping scorching on the pan and dripping down onto my pizza stone.  My point?  Don’t overfill.  After the baking was done, I was tweeting with @Sugarcrafter and we decided that this would be great as a cake with some brown sugar icing.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tart apple, peeled and diced (between 1/2 cup and 1 cup)
  • 12 caramels, chopped
  • 1/ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and coat a muffin pan well with nonstick spray.

Combine the brown sugar, oats, 3 tablespoons butter, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt.

In a second bowl mix together the milk, egg, 1/4 cup butter, and vanilla.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until everything is just combined.  Fold the caramel and apple into the batter.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and top with the brown sugar mixture.

Bake 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes before carefully turning them out onto a wire rack to cool.

{printable recipe}

Food Memories – Russian Tea Cakes

I discovered Ali and her blog 3 Baking Sheet to the Wind earlier this year on one of my rabbit hole trips on the interwebs. At first, I could not quite believe there was another person out there who devoted massive amounts of mental storage capacity to pop culture phenomenons such as Teen Witch, Heathers, The Breakfast Club, Willy Wonka (the original), and Summer Rental. It’s like she’s the voice inside my head telling me to click over to these time sucks when I see them in my Tivo Channel Guide. Not only does Ali know and lurv these movies, she finds ways to tie them to a recipe in her ‘Sugared Cinema’ selection each and every Friday. The other days of the week, she’s rocking out fabulous decorated cakes, cookies, and throwing down some serious beer.  The tag line of her blog isn’t “I like baking and drinking craft beer…sometimes simultaneously” for nothing. So it wasn’t too long before I started pestering Ali for a Food Memory. She kindly obliged with the following memory for one of the easiest, tastiest cookies I’ve ever made.

Russian Tea Cakes

During the Christmas season, my mom and her best friend would pick a day to get together in our kitchen and spend the entire day baking.  They started the tradition when I was around 5 or 6 years old and carried out the tradition for a good 10 years or so.  My mom would get experimental and try out a new recipe every now and then but for the most part, they would stick to the old faithfuls:  red and green sprinkled sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies, fudge, date bars and Russian tea cookies.

As a kid, I had pretty typical tastes when it came to sweets.  The sugar cookies were my favorite (she could have thrown sprinkles on a stapler and I would’ve eaten it.)  I never could understand why she insisted on making those powdery Russian tea ball things, though.

As I got older, I found myself sneaking cookies from the Russian tea container.  They were so wonderfully buttery (even more so than the sugar cookies) and I was addicted to them, right down to the powdery residue it left on my fingers.  After a long hiatus, we decided to bring back the Baking Day tradition last Christmas.  There were a lot of new additions, some from me and some from my sister, but we knew the day wouldn’t be the same without my Mom making those Russian tea cookies.

Russian Tea Cookies

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

BAH Note:  Ali didn’t have her mom’s exact recipe but she poked around online until she found one that was close to what she remembered.  I tweeted to Ali that I was kicking myself for scaling the recipe down and only making a half batch.  I could not stop eating these morsels.  At 12 minutes, they are perfectly undercooked so that the center is still slightly moist while the outside is crisp.  The decision to omit the walnuts completely and  substitute almond for vanilla was mine and mine alone.  And I stick by it.  I can’t eat nuts, period. And I’m not usually big on almond flavor but in these cookies it was the perfect counter to the buttery, sugary goodness.  I can see why these would have become a favorite in Ali’s house growing up.

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.

Combine the flour and 6 tablespoons of powdered sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until combined.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and almond extract until it is smooth.  Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until fully combined.

Roll the dough in to 1 inch balls and place them about 1 inch apart on the prepared sheets.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool completely before rolling them in the 1/3 cup powdered sugar.

{printable recipe}

Flashback Friday – Staycation

Flashback Friday

The following originally appeared on 7/22/08 at Exit 51


Tilghman Island
Tilghman Island

What do you do when you’ve maxed out your vacation for the rest of the year but you want to get away? Why, you take a staycation. Despite all the current buzz, the concept is not new. It’s being a tourist in your own town, city, state, etc. Continue reading “Flashback Friday – Staycation”

Emergency Cupcakes and Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

How do people find time to bake during the week?  In my world, baking is usually a weekend only activity because I just can not make the time to rock out the cookies, cakes, and other sweets after a full day of work.  My patience and attention are spent by the time I get home and baking is not something you want to only sort of pay attention to.  When I’m not paying full attention I do things like mix up baking soda and baking powder, or intend to scale a recipe down but don’t think through all the steps and put in half the sugar but all the flour.  If I’m going to be producing baked goods on a weeknight, it better be an emergency, and the recipe better be Wendiproof.

I just so happened to find myself in a situation during the week where cupcakes were called for and I had what turned out to be a Wendiproof recipe at my disposal.  And let me tell you something, you NEED to have this recipe in your repertoire. I don’t think I’ve ever said that about anything.  But these cupcakes and marshmallow buttercream frosting are the perfect solution to any baked good emergency that you could encounter.  The method is beautifully simple, the ingredients are pantry staples, and the results are amazing.  This recipe will wow people into thinking you slaved away in the name of cupcakes.  The truth, that these cupcakes nearly make themselves, can stay our secret.

Emergency Cupcakes

Adapted from Abby Dodge

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper or foil liners.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl until well combined.  Combine the water, oil, and vanilla in a measuring cup or small bowl and add to the dry mixture.  Add the egg and stir until blended, about 1 minute.

Using an ice cream disher, fill each liner about 3/4 full of batter.  Bake for 19 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning the cupcakes out and placing them on a rack to cool completely.

{printable recipe}

Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting

Adapted from Abby Dodge

BAH Note:  This may become my favorite, go to frosting.  It is ridiculously easy to make, the texture is exquisite, and even I managed to pipe it decently. Although I’d like to see what happens if I reduce the amount of butter down to a stick or maybe a stick and a half.  Two sticks of butter gives you a very rich frosting.  Not that it’s a bad thing.  I bet that if you had a mind to fill your cupcakes as well, this frosting would oblige.

  • 2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
  • 7 ounces marshmallow fluff
  • 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine the butter and marshmallow in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium until completely smooth.  Reduce speed to low and add confectioners sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Continue to beat until smooth and fluffy.

{printable recipe}

Boathouse Roma Tomato Jam

I  have an affinity for the idea of southern living.  I don’t know if I would enjoy actually living down in Dixie but in my perfect world, life is full of southern grace, charm, and food.  I think it would really depend on where in the south I happened to find myself.

I don’t think I could take the heat and humidity that seems to thrive down south (not that Maryland is any picnic in the summer).  And then there’s the whole tornado thing.  Maryland isn’t much of a tornado alley so the notion of storm cellars and twisters that can level entire neighborhoods makes me kind of uncomfortable.  Maybe it’s just that I’ve seen The Wizard of Oz and Twister too many times not to have a prejudiced notion of what it means to live with the possibility of these storms…god forbid somebody drops a house on me. And then there’s the bugs.  Fire ants, palmetto bugs, and mosquitoes the size of buzzards. My perfect world of southern living does not make accommodation for these pests.

So maybe actual southern living is not for me.  Perhaps I am better served by small doses of southern charm during long weekends away from the Free State. Regardless, thanks to my friend who let me borrow her copy of The Boathouse cookbook, I can bring a taste of that southern food into my own kitchen.  And right now, the south tastes like tomato jam. I wish that I did have a big cellar so that I could make big batches of this and can it for proper long term storage.  In my mind, that’s what my basement is for. Not for seeking refuge from the storm.

I am entering this recipe in the Get Grillin’ Event run by Family Fresh Cooking and Cookin’ Canuck, sponsored by Ile de France CheeseRösleEmile HenryRouxbe and ManPans. This week’s theme is appetizers.  Check out all the entries and submit one of your own!

Roma Tomato Jam

Adapted from The Boathouse

BAH Note: I’ve used this as a sandwich condiment, as a topping on flat bread, and on wee rounds of toasted baguette.  I bet it would be fantastic on a grilled pizza with some lovely, salty feta.

  • 1 container roma tomatoes (I guess there were about 6 or 8 tomatoes), coarsely chopped
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan.  Add chopped tomatoes and onion and saute over medium high heat for about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium low and add the balsamic and brown sugar.  Stir to combine and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 30 minutes or until a jam-like consistency is reached.  I turned off the heat when a spatula run through left a clean trail in the pan.

Serve at room temperature.  Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator.

{printable recipe}