Zucchini and Yellow Squash Gratin

Surprise, Surprise,  I was searching for yet another zucchini recipe. I was getting a little tired of the pasta-zucchini dish (well, my family was, too) when I decided that maybe zucchini should be a side dish instead of the main show. I really wanted to do a type of gratin, but I didn't want to go out any buy a ton of expensive cheese. I actually didn't want to leave my house at all. It's hot out there, and my car doesn't have air conditioning.

I was kind of nervous when putting this recipe together. It didn't look like it was going to be good. It looked...goopey, and globby, and weird. Even after it was done baking, and the house was filled with its delicious aroma, I was still unsure. But it tasted devine, and was just what I was looking for! It's not too cheesy, so the zucchini still comes through, and its parmesan-panko topping is perfect!

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Gratin
(Martha Stewart)

2 tablespoons butter
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/2" coins
2 medium yellow squash, sliced into 1/2 " coins
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
course salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450.
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
Saute the zucchini, yellow squash, shallots, and garlic, stirring occasional, until the squash are crisp tender - about 4-6 minutes.
Season with pepper, add the cream, and cook until the cream is thickened, about 5 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the panko and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese.
Spoon the mixture into a greased 2 quart baking dish.
Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of panko and parmesan.
Season with salt and pepper.
Bake until the top is golden, about 8-10 minutes.

Summer Strawberry Cake

I decided it was high time that we go to church here. We aren't your "every Sunday" church goers, but we like to attend every now and then. Usually Sundays are one of the only times that we get to spend together as a family, with no interruptions, and we tend to think that God will understand if we decide to spend that time together. I think I can speak for us both when I say we believe you can praise the Lord from wherever you are - a park, a cafe, your living room, or a church pew. That's not to say that we don't enjoy the fellowship, community, and support system that a traditional church congregation offers, which is why we go. And why I wanted us to start attending a church here.

I didn't mean for this to turn into a religious discussion. What I meant to say was that our first time attending church was on Potluck Day! I love Potlucks! Everyone knows that food is the perfect liaison for bringing people together. And what a better way to introduce ourselves than with this utterly perfect cake (although now I am really setting myself up for something).

This strawberry summer cake is divine in every aspect. The cake itself is moist, flavorful, and light. And the strawberries and fresh whipped cream add the perfect amount of summer to it. In a lot of ways, this cake reminds me of an angel food cake - you can eat a ton of it and still feel the need to go back for more. It's straight out of heaven.

Strawberry Summer Cake (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Martha Stewart)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp, plus extra for pie plate
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a 10 inch pie pan or a 9 inch deep dish pie pan (a regular 9 incher won't work with all the batter, so if that's all you have, just leave a bit of the batter out at the end).
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.
In a large bowl and with an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Mix in the egg, milk, and vanilla until just combined.
Add the dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pie plate (remembering to leave just a little bit of it out if your plate is a regular 9-incher).
Arrange the strawberries, cut side down, on top of the batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Squish them in there if you have to!
Bake the cake for 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temp to 325 and bake the cake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes more. Or until you can no longer stand the amazing smell filling your house and you just have to eat it now.
Let cool in the pan on a wire rack.
Cut into wedges.
Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

This cake can be stored at room temperature for 2 days, loosely covered.

Fresh Whipping Cream
3 cups heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar

In a large bowl, whip the cream and sugar with an electric mixer on high until the cream is stiff and you can see the tread marks of the beaters in the cream.
Placing the bowl and beaters in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before you make whipped cream will help the whipped cream to form faster.

The Daring Bakers Make Fresh Frasiers!

We've been in our new place for over a month now, and we are starting to get adjusted and scheduled. It's hard getting used to not having a yard, but our new tradition of a family walk after dinner is fun, and everyone enjoys it. I make it a mandatory event, no matter the temperature. The dogs need out of the house, I need out of the house, and we all could use a little time together to just be. It's nice and relaxing.

Its also an adjustment getting used to Joel being gone for 12+ hours everyday, and him being an utter zombie when he is home. I try to remember that he works very hard and is really tired, and to not get upset when he passes out at 8:00, but I still feel like a little kid jumping around him "Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Pay Attention to Me!" whenever he is home.

I've started, slowly, the process of making some friends!! I've joined a few clubs - MOPS and MOMS, and I have met a nice girl at church and in our apartment complex. So, in total, I have 4 "kinda sorta" friends! I'm very excited about that, and I am trying to pace myself. I know that building a friendship takes time, and I don't want to scare them off with being over exuberant. Making new friends is so much like dating!! I am always thinking... "Did I say the right thing?" "Am I bothering them?" "Do they like me?!?!?!"

Jana ofCherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.

And this is when the sun went down and I had to turn a light on. Ugh.

A Fresh Frasier is kind of like a suped-up French version of a Strawberry Shortcake, and definitely delicious! It might look really complicated and hard, but it was actually fairly easy, and this recipe went off without a hitch! I really enjoyed this recipe, it looks really impressive, it tastes delicious, and is totally worthy of a re-do! I followed this recipe as written, but next time I think I am going to play with it a bit, see what fun stuff I can come up with!

Our first taste of pastry cream! Don't worry Mom, I took the spoon away before she put it back in her mouth. :)

Chiffon Cake:

1 cup + 2 tablespoons (270 ml) (5½ oz/155 gm) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (4 gm) baking powder
3/4 cups (180 ml) (6 oz /170 gm) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) salt, preferably kosher
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon (3.17 fl oz/95 ml) water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (3 gm) lemon zest, grated
5 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1 gm) cream of tartar
  1. Preheat the oven to moderate 325°F (160°C/gas mark 3).
  2. Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Add in all but 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) of sugar, and all of the salt. Stir to combine.
  4. In a small bowl combine the oil, egg yolks, water, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk thoroughly.
  5. Combine with the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly for about one minute, or until very smooth.
  6. Put the egg whites into a stand mixer, and beat on medium speed using a whisk attachment on a medium speed, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat on a medium speed until the whites hold soft peaks. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on a medium-high speed until the whites hold firm and form shiny peaks.
  7. Using a grease free rubber spatula, scoop about ⅓ of the whites into the yolk mixture and fold in gently. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until combined.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Removed the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  10. To unmold, run a knife around the sides to loosen the cake from the pan and remove the spring form sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Refrigerate for up to four days.

Pastry Cream Filling:

1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) whole milk
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (1/2 ml) (¼ gm) salt, preferably kosher
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (10 gm)cornstarch
1/4 cup (60 ml) (2 oz/55 gm) sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz/30 gm) unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon (3¾ ml) (4 gm) gelatin
1/2 tablespoon (7½ ml) water
1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) heavy cream
  1. Pour the milk, vanilla, and salt into a heavy sauce pan. Place over medium-high heat and scald, bringing it to a near boiling point. Stir occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer add the cornstarch and sugar. Whisk to combine
  3. Add the eggs to the sugar and cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
  4. When the milk is ready, gently and slowly while the stand mixer is whisking, pour the heated milk down the side of the bowl into the egg mixture.
  5. Pour the mixture back into the warm pot and continue to cook over a medium heat until the custard is thick, just about to boil and coats the back of a spoon.
  6. Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh sieve into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for ten minutes stirring occasionally.
  7. Cut the butter into four pieces and whisk into the pastry cream a piece at a time until smooth.
  8. Cover the cream with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap onto the top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  9. In a small dish, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand for a few minutes to soften.
  10. Put two inches (55 mm) of water into a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer over a medium heat.
  11. Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz/60 ml) of the chilled pastry cream into a small stainless steel bowl that will sit across the sauce pan with the simmering water, without touching the water.
  12. Heat the cream until it is 120 F (48.8 C). Add the gelatin and whisk until smooth. Remove from the water bath, and whisk the remaining cold pastry cream in to incorporate in two batches.
  13. In a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium-stiff peaks. Immediately fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream with a rubber spatula.

Simple Syrup:

You may choose to flavor the syrup. One way is to use flavored sugar (for example: apple cider sugar,orange sugar, or vanilla sugar) or to stir in 1-2 teaspoons of flavored extract. You may also infuse with herbs or spices, if desired or add four tablespoons (60 ml) of fruit juice or liqueur while the syrup is cooling.
1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) (2⅔ oz/75 gm) of sugar, flavored or white
1/3 cup (2⅔ fl oz/80 ml) of water
  1. Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil and let the sugar dissolve. Stirring is not necessary, but will not harm the syrup.
  3. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool slightly.
  4. Transfer syrup to a lidded container or jar that can be stored in the refrigerator. Simple syrup can be stored for up to one month.

Fraisier Assembly:

1 baked 8 inch (20 cm) chiffon cake
1 recipe pastry cream filling
⅓ cup (80 ml) simple syrup or flavored syrup
2 lbs (900 g) strawberries
confectioners’ sugar for dusting
½ cup (120 ml) (5 oz/140 gm) almond paste
  1. Line the sides of a 8-inch (20 cm) spring form pan with plastic wrap. Do not line the bottom of the pan.
  2. Cut the cake in half horizontally to form two layers.
  3. Fit the bottom layer into the prepared spring form pan. Moisten the layer evenly with the simple syrup. When the cake has absorbed enough syrup to resemble a squishy sponge, you have enough.
  4. Hull and slice in half enough strawberries to arrange around the sides of the cake pan. Place the cut side of the strawberry against the sides of the pan, point side up forming a ring.
  5. Pipe cream in-between strawberries and a thin layer across the top of the cake.
  6. Hull and quarter your remaining strawberries and place them in the middle of the cake. Cover the strawberries and entirely with the all but 1 tbsp. (15 ml) of the pastry cream.
  7. Place the second cake layer on top and moisten with the simple syrup.
  8. Lightly dust a work surface with confectioners' sugar and roll out the almond paste to a 10-inch (25 cm) round 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) thick. Spread the remaining 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of pastry cream on the top of the cake and cover with the round of almond paste.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  10. To serve release the sides of the spring form pan and peel away the plastic wrap.
  11. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

It was bound to happen. I just didn't really expect that it would.

See, I'm still rather new to this whole Twitter thing, and while I use it occasionally, I'm not very good about it. I have no idea what the little symbols are, or how to make the links appear as those tiny little URL's. And I can go for days without checking it, which is eons in Twitter-time. So I miss a lot, and I am rarely if ever involved in any conversations there. But it just so happened that I stumbled upon a re-tweet (that's when someone reposts something someone else said, in case you didn't know) about these amazing brownies, and I had to have a look. And so I stumbled upon a new blog, which I have fallen in love with, and these brownies, which I

I remember it quite clearly (which is good, since it was only a few days ago...). Ladybug was in bed, it was getting late. Joel was sitting on one end of the couch, studying. I was on the other end, just messing around on my phone, when it happened. I saw them.
"oooooh...." I said.
After a few moments of silence, Joel said "What?"
"I want to make these brownies. Now"
"Now? What kind are they?" he said.
"Double Chocolate Zucchini!!"
"That sounds...gross"
"No, it sounds amazing, and I'm going to make them first thing in the morning!"

And so I did. I don't think I have ever responded to a recipe so eagerly!! And I was no disappointed. These are rich, and amazing, and sooo chocoaltely! When served straight from the refrigerator, they are super fudgy. When warmed for a few seconds in the microwave, they are cakey and wonderful. When served warm with a scoop of ice cream....oh man...

Joel didn't like them. Which was bad. Because I don't know anyone in the new town yet, and I was left alone with an entire 8x8 pan of these. I tried to tell myself that it was ok, they were made with whole wheat flour! They had olive oil in them! They used all natural honey as a sweetener, no refined sugar! I even put a note on the door to our apartment complex that said "Free Brownies! Come and Get Them!" And NO ONE CAME!

I ate half the pan by myself before I had to freeze them!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
(A Dash of Sass)

2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4c white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease an 8x8 inch baking pan.
Grate the zucchini and press gratings with a paper towel to squeeze out excess moisture.
IN a large bowl, bfeat together oil, eggs, agave/honey, and vanilla.
Add zucchini and mix to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.
Add the dry to the wet and stir!
Add in the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cool completely.
Serve chilled for a fudgy brownie or warmed for a gooey, cakey brownie.

Pasta with Summer Squash and Rosemary Butter

I might have gone a little crazy with the zucchini lately. Really, its not my fault. It seems that zucchini and summer squash has taken over the farmers market, and being 25 cents a piece - its hard to resist. And so I bought. And bought. And then realized that I might have bought too much.

Luckily I found this wonderful recipe over at Epicurious. It's simple, its super quick (I think it took me a grand total of 10 minutes to make), and it was delicious. Using fresh ingredients is key here, especially since there are so few of them, you want each star to shine.

We took a trip up to a cute little town called Marietta, OH the other weekend, and there I found a really cool store, Rossi Pasta, that sells fresh gourmet pasta! They have so many fun flavors, I'll definitely be going back for more. Or, since I know can make homemade pasta, thanks to the Daring Cooks, I might just steal their flavor combos!! Cooking with fresh pasta makes such a big impact on the final outcome of your dish - it just tastes SO much better, and it only takes a fraction of the cooking time!

And, by the way, I wasn't kidding about the overload of zucchini. I've got a whole bunch of fun recipes for you guys, so make sure you come back in the next few days!

Pasta with Summer Squash and Rosemary Butter
(Epicurious - Published in Gourmet Magazine June 1999)

1 pound pasta
2 medium zucchini
2 medium yellow squash
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove, minced
Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
Meanwhile, trim the ends off the squash and cut into 1.5"x1/4" sticks.
Melt the butter in a deep skillet and sauté the vegetables, string gently, for two minutes.
Add the minced garlic, rosemary, and pepper to taste.
Satee for two more minutes, stirring gently, until the vegetables are just barely tender, about 2 more minutes.
Add the cooked pasta to the vegetables and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water, stirring to evenly combine, until just heated through.
If the pasta becomes too dry, add an additional 1/4 cup of the pasta water as needed.
Serve with parmesan cheese and freshly cracked pepper.

Pasta Cartwheels with Cheese and Broccoli

Something big has happened, my friends.

Ladybug has decided that she is a big girl now. She is one, after all, and she ought to start trying this thing out called "walking". She has been walking around the house for a few weeks now, holding onto our hands as she explores the house from a new level. But just a few days ago, she stepped it up a notch. Literally.

Four steps. On her own.

I laughed, I nearly cried, I thought my heart was going to explode.

She is getting so big so fast, and I am thoroughly enjoying being able to watch her expand her horizons everyday. Everytime she does something new, discovers something for herself, it makes my heart sing. I love being a mom, and I am so thankful for our little family!

This recipe was really good, and both of us girls enjoyed it for lunch 2 days in a row! It took a bit longer than I really like for making lunch, but since I did it during morning nap, it really wasn't that big of a deal. The recipe came from a great book called "First Meals" by Annabel Karmel. There are great recipes in here, from baby's first food all the way through preschool and beyond. She focus's on fresh flavors, and getting your child to enjoy all different flavors and textures of food. I actually borrowed this book from a friend at work, but then accidentally stole it when we moved, so..Thanks Belinda! We are enjoying your book, haha! I'll get it back to you...someday...

Pasta Cartwheels with Cheese and Broccoli - First Meals by Annabel Karmel

1/4 lb pasta cartwheels
1 1/4 cups broccoli, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup frozen sweet corn

Cheese sauce:
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cups milk
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons bread crumbs

Cook the pasta according to directions, then drain and set aside.
Steam the broccoli and corn for 4-5 minutes, until tender. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a small pan.
Add the flour to make a paste, and stir over low heat for 1 minute.
Gradually whisk in the milk, bring slowly to a boil, and cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat, add the nutmeg, and stir in the cheddar cheese until melted.
Sitr in the vegetables into the sauce, then mix with the pasta.
Pour the mixture into a greased gratin dish and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
Bake in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes, until bubbly.

The Daring Cooks Make Homemade Noodles By Hand!

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks' July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

When I first found out about this month's challenge I was really excited! It seemed like a lot of fun to cook noodles by hand (no tools allowed!), and the added challenge was to do something from your heritage!

Before Ladybug was born, my husband and I thought it would be fun to research our genealogy and discover more about where we came from. It was really fun to do, and we got totally addicted to www.ancestry.com. I eventually had to cut us off, though, once my husband found out that not only was there a castle named after him in England, but that he was also related to the Welsh royalty. Once he found that out, he wanted me to curtsy and call him "my lord" whenever I spoke to him. Riiiight.

Since both my husband have Welsh blood, I thought it would be fun to do a traditional Welsh noodle. Only, I could not for the life of me find one! Even when I expanded to include my Scottish and Norwegian heritage, I could only find boiled cakes, haggis and pot pies. However, once I took a look at the given challenge recipes, I saw that spaetzle was included. I've always wanted to make it, and since both my husband and I have a smudge of German blood, I thought this would be a good one. Plus I couldn't stop singing...

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favourite things
Cream coloured ponnies and crisp apple streudles
Doorbells and slaybells and SCHNITZEL WITH NODDLES!!!" 

I knew what I was making, and I was very, very excited about it! So what if my husband rolled his eyes at me and my daughter stared at me as if I was a stranger as I danced around the house singing... I was very happy how this turned out. It was absolutely delicious!! The spaetzle is a breeze to make, very simple and fun, and we all really liked it. In fact, Ladybug thought it was the best thing she has ever eaten, and demanded more, more, more! I thought she was going to explode with the amount she ate! The schnitzel was fantastic as well. I decided to make the "hunter's" variety of schnitzel, which includes a red wine and mushroom sauce that was amazing. I ate all of my helping, plus that of my husband (he claims he is deathly allergic to mushrooms, even though he is not, but that just means that I get to eat them!) 

Spaetzle - Tyler Florence
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
12 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
In a second bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and place the liquids in.
Gradually mix in the flour into the liquids until the dough is all combined. It should be smooth and thick.
Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and reduce to a simmer.
To make the spaetzle, hold a colander (with a pot holder - steam is hot!) over the water and slowly push the dough through the holes. Do not overcrowd the pot or your noodles - use only about 1/4 cup of dough at a time.
Allow the noodles to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring gently to prevent sticking.
When the noodles begin to float to the top, strain them out of the hot water and place in a second, clean colander. Rinse with cold water.
Repeat until all your dough has been cooked.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the spaetzle, tossing to coat.
Cook the spaetzle for a minute or two to give the noodles some color, and then sprinkle with the chopped parsley and a touch of salt and pepper.

Jaeger Shnitzel - Wolfgang Puck
2 pork chops, pounded thin
salt and pepper
1/2 cup flour
3 ounces olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped carrot
1/4 cup chopped celery
Bouquet garni (thyme, bay leaf, parsley
2 cups red wine
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon butter
2 ounces thick cut bacon, diced
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups mushrooms
2 tablespoons parsley leaves, minced

  • Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour.
  • In a heavy saute pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Sear both sides of the meat until golden brown. Remove and set aside.
  • Add the onion, carrot, celery, and the bouquet garni. Saute for one minute.
  • Deglaze the pan with the wine and continue to cook until the wine has reduced by half.
  • Add 3/4 cup of the stock and return the meat to the pan. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the meat is tender. 
  • Remove the meat to a plate and keep warm. 
  • Strain the sauce, and reserve.
  • In a second saute pan, heat the remaining olive oil and the butter. Saute the bacon until golden. 
  • Add the onions and the mushrooms, and saute until those are golden.
  • Add the mushroom/onions and the sauce back to the large saute skillet. 
  • Place the meat back into the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  • Serve the meat alongside noodles or mashed potatoes, with the sauce. 

My husband wanted me to share this with you. He always complains of the "I cook - You clean" rule when it comes to the Daring Kitchen. I always DESTROY the kitchen, and he jokingly says that he needs to make a group for all the husbands out there called "The Daring Cleaners". Hahaha

World Peace Chocolate Cookies

I've seen these cookies everywhere, and every time I saw them, I just knew I had to make them one day.  But then one thing led to another, and I never did. Until now. And I actually wrote it on my calendar, that's how much I wanted to make these!

I actually made these for my husband to take with him on his first day of residency. I think I will try openly bribing the doctors, nurses, and other residents with baked goods as much as I possibly can. Maybe I can shorten some of those 24 hour shifts? Maybe? I think its definitely worth a shot!

These cookies are amazing. They are egg free, easy to make, and as long as you give yourself the 3 hour sit in the fridge time, are probably the fastest cookies I've ever made! My only problem came in when slicing the logs. The rounds are supposed to "slightly crack" around the edges.

I call a big old BS on that one.  Maybe its because I used regular sized chocolate chips instead of mini's? My knife was too thick? Whatever the reason, I ended up really reshaping each cookie, they literally fell apart. Luckily, the delicate texture of these cookies was not harmed by my man-handling of them.

And they are supremely good cookies. Apparently Dorie Greenspan's neighbor told her that if everyone in the world ate one of these cookies there would be world peace. And I agree, if only the baker doesn't horde them all in her nightstand so no one else can find them...

World Peace/Korova Cookies (Dorie Greenspan - Paris Sweets)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Whisk the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
Beat the butter on medium speed until it is soft and creamy.
Add both sugars, salt and vanilla, and beat for 2 minutes.
Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour mixture, and drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer before turning your mixer on LOW for 5 or so seconds. (If you decide to skip this step, cocoa powder and flour will end up all over you, your mixer, your counters, your cupboards, your floor, pretty much everywhere. Trust me).
Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds (you can remove towel now), just until the flour disappears into the dough. For the best texture, work the dough as little as you possibly can once the flour is added.
Toss in the chocolate and mix only to incorporate.
Turn the dough out onto your counter and gather together.
Divide in half.
Working with one half at a time, shape into a log about 1.5 inches in diameter and wrap in plastic wrap.
Refirdgerate at least three hours (or up to 3 days).

Preheat the oven to 325.
Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Working with a thin sharp knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 an inch think. They are probably going to crack and crumble, just reshape them as best you can).
Arrange on a baking sheet, leaving 1 inch between each cookie.
Bake cookies one sheet at a time for exactly 12 minutes! Exactly! They are not going to look done when you take them out of the oven, but trust me, they will be just fine!
Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow the cookies to rest until they are only just barely warm.

Baby's Birthday Carrot Cake

The big day has come and gone. And while this post is almost three weeks late, its still hard to imagine that Ladybug is now ONE!

Her actual birthday was after we moved out to West Virginia, so before we left we had an early birthday party with all of our friends and family. Since we were in the throes of graduations, quitting work, packing, and all the other excitement, we decided to have a potluck BBQ/pool party. It wasn't fancy, there were no decorations, but it was exactly what we needed, and I think Ladybug had a wonderful day playing with her friends, eating cupcakes, and swimming!

Ladybug knew exactly what to do with this yummy treat! There was no hesitation, not for a second, as she plunged in and ate just about every last crumb!! I don't have any actual photos of her digging in with me. They were taken, and now apparently being held hostage (**coughcoughAdenacoughcough**), but hope to add them to this post as soon as I get them!

These cupcakes are wonderful, whether you are a baby, toddler, or adult. They are moist, and even without a lot of sugar in them, they have a wonderful flavor. The icing is great, too, not too sweet, but a perfect accompaniment to the cupcake! Try them today!

Birthday Apple-Carrot Cake (Adapted from Weelicious)
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup agave nectar or honey
1/2 cup applesauce
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup shredded apples

Preheat the oven to 350
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl.
Using a mixer, beat the agave, applesauce, and eggs until thoroughly combined.
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet.
Add the carrot and apple and mix until thoroughly combined.
Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups (either lined with paper liners or lightly oiled, your choice). Fill 3/4 full.
Bake for 30 minutes (or 15 if making mini cupcakes!)
Cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Icing (Makes 2 cups) - Weelicious
1-8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
4 tbsp agave nectar (or honey, since baby is old enough now)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Use a whisk, electric mixer, whatever you fancy.
* I found that this icing was really soft, and since I wanted to pipe it on, I added about 1/4 a cup of powdered sugar to the mix, just to give it some density.

Pasta with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and a Creamy Lemon-Yogurt Sauce

Its hot.

And our AC stopped working.

And the maintenance man is gone for two days.

Luckily, its been relatively nice out without a lot of humidity, so that we can have windows open and fans on, and not be dying in the heat. Ladybug is tootling around the house in her diaper, and we've been to the pool a few times. So while we are a bit on the warm side, we aren't sweating too badly.

Still. I don't want to cook. Anything.

I stumbled upon this recipe a while ago, and filed it for future reference. Thank goodness I remembered it! I did have to turn the stove on, but only for like, 15 minutes, and it was well worth it. This is a nice refreshing dish, perfect for sweltering hot days. And apparently its healthy, too! I was smart enough to make enough of this for a good amount of leftovers, so we will all have plenty to eat without heating up the house more than we need to!

I got this recipe from Meet Me in the Kitchen, who got it from Ezra Pound Cake, who in turn actually got it out of a cookbook, Jillian Michaels, "Master Your Metabolism". Apparently its been passed around quite a lot, and now I am passing it to you!

Pasta with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and a Creamy Lemon-Yogurt Sauce
(serves 4, 303 calories per serving, ish)

8 ounces whole wheat pasta
1/2 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium zucchini, cut into thin strips (3" long, 3/4" wide)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced,
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced horizontally

Cook pasta according to package directions. Remove 1/4 cup of the cooking water before you drain.
In a large bowl, stir together the parmesan, yogurt, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the zucchini and sauté until just wilted, slightly soft and see through.
Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 15-30 seconds.
Stir in the tomatoes and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the zucchini mixture to the yogurt mixture, and stir.
Add in the drained, cooked pasta and toss gently to combine.
If needed, you can add in the reserved pasta water to thin out the sauce.
Divide into four bowls and serve.
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