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{things i made} party appetizers part two



Just in case you need some culinary inspiration for tomorrow's big night, here are a few of the new recipes I posted this year that can pass as finger-foods. We traditionally ring in the New Year with a late meal of small plates, Times Square television watching, and a bottle of champagne at midnight. I'd love to hear your plans! Plus, be sure to check out the 2013's installment of this post (with nine different appetizers) here.



rosemary and caramelized onion pizza - baked falafel - french onion dip - baba ghanoush​ - stuffed artichokes - shrimp cocktail


{things i } raspberry pistacchio thumbprint cookies

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As (practically) promised, I ended up making twelve cookies for Christmas this year. For a holiday that's all about traditions, I figure it's pretty important to have one that's all my own. These thumbprints are perfectly festive by the tree–and taste as good as they look!




5 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 4-ounce jar raspberry jam
2 cups shelled pistachios, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients. 
2. Beat the eggs with the olive oil and milk. Stir the liquid mix into the dry one, until just combined.
3. Scoop a small portion of dough and roll into a ball about 1 inch in size. Roll each ball in the chopped pistachios (use your fingers to gently press the nuts into the dough if necessary). Place the balls on 
a lightly oiled cookie sheet.
4. Use your finger to make a deep indentation in the center of each cookie. Make an imprint in each one with your thumb and spoon in jam. 
5. Bake 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from rack and cool.
6. Mix together 2 cups confectioners' sugar,  3-4 teaspoons milk,  1/8 teaspoon salt, and  1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to make a pourable glaze. Once completely cooled, drizzle the glaze over the cookies in a random pattern. Allow to set before storing. 





{things i made} christmas cookies

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I can't believe it's that time of year again–Christmas cookie baking! My tradition for a while has been to make twelve different types of perfect little treats–for the twelve days of Christmas–but truth be told, that's a bit indulgent (we might scale it back just a bit this year, though I tend to go overboard once I get some baking-momentum). All that practice though has left me with a stuffed recipie-box. Check out this group for inspiration–and there are even more in the blog's archives!


Butter Horns - Fig Moons - Baci di Dama - Coconut Cookies Crinkle Cookies Lemon Knots - Amaretti Cookies - Peanut Butter-Filled Chocolate Cookies -  Biscotti Regina - Lebkuchen - Italian Wedding Cookies - Double Chocolate Chip Cookies - Almond Biscotti - Lemon Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies - Pistachio Lime Cookies - Sea Salt Chocolate Chunk Cookies 



{things i made} white wine and manchego asparagus carbonara

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I’ve has some pretty awful experiences with pasta carbonara—from inauthentic tries at restaurants (heavy cream is not a traditional ingredient!) to an at-home attempt that was so rich everyone couldn’t stomach a full plate, I figured it was one of those dishes meant to be eaten once in Italy when everything about it would be local and calories “wouldn’t count.” Then I stumbled upon this winning idea—throwing in roasted vegetables and swapping out the intense Parmesan cheese with slightly more mild Manchego. The result is party-presentable, very tasty, and insanely simple after minimal prep.


2 lbs penne
2 bunches asparagus, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces​
1.5 cup peas, thawed and drained on paper towels if frozen 
12 large cloves garlic, chopped​
1 cup white wine
200g manchego cheese, grated 
12 oz pancetta, chopped and fried until crisp
4 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh parsley, to garnish

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Toss the asparagus in olive oil, put it on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on the top rack of the oven.​ After 10 minutes, add the garlic and the peas ​and roast until it ​all ​starts to crisp​, 20 to 30 minutes (check every 10 min and give t​ray​ a shake so that they roast evenly).
2. Meanwhile, add wine to your smallest saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer uncovered until reduced, about ​10 minutes​.
3. Crack the eggs and whisk together with olive oil. Set aside.
4. Cook and drain pasta. 
While still hot, add the egg mixture,​​ s​tir​ring​ constantly to​​ prevent ​the egg​s​ from scrambl​ing​.​
5. Add the wine and cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Add the roasted vegetables and cooked pancetta and mix. Serve topped with parsley, ground pepper and a little extra cheese.


{things i made} pumpkin loaf

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I'm not sure how this has happened but "pumpkin" season is coming to an end. Tomorrow night I'll bake a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving–how exciting is that!?–but sadly after turkey day, the ingredient loses just a bit of its shine. Still, I love baking with it in the fall–check out this post to see just some of the recipes I've made–and this moist bread reminds me exactly why. There's something almost savory about its taste, I suppose because its so hearty and nutrient rich. This bread is very easy to put together also easily adjustable (more or less sugar or spices). Just be mindful of the baking time and be sure to cook it all the way–undercooked pumpkin anything is not so yummy.


​2 c​ups pumpkin puree
2 cups applesauce
​1.5 teaspoons vanilla ​
4 eggs
1 cup water
​1.5​ cups sugar
3 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
​3/4 teaspoon allspice​
1 teaspoon salt

rolled oats, for topping

1​. ​Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans and dust with a little flour.
​2. ​In a large mixing bowl, beat together pumpkin, applesauce, sugar, water, ​vanilla ​and eggs until well blended.
​3. ​Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ​allspice, ​and salt, into a separate bowl and stir until combined.
​4. ​Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Sprinkle with rolled oats.
​5. ​Bake for ​1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow bread to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. 

{things i made} crunch-top apple pie

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It's hard to reinvent the wheel–and just so you know, in this case the wheel is apple pie. When it comes to the autumnal staple, I've already got a filling I love and a crust I love but I was looking to make things a little more interesting and special. I'd never heard of or seen a crunch-top pie before but I liked the idea (more crust to distribute over the sweet, jam-like filling will always be fine with me). Easy, tasty, and seasonal–go apple picking (stores count too) and make one tonight!


2-2/3 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup oil
6 tablespoons milk

1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Put the oil in a measuring cup and add the milk without stirring. Pour mixture into the flour and mix briefly. Do not refrigerate.
3. Flatten dough by rolling on floured surface or between two sheets of wax paper. Place in pan. Repeat, with a second batch of ingredients, reserving for top crust.


3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash salt
1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil, frozen)

1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl.
2. Using a fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.


2/3 cup sugar 
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 pounds Granny Smith and/or Braeburn apples, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl, combine sugar with cornstarch and spices. Add apples and lemon juice and toss to coat evenly.
2. Spoon apple mixture into prepared crust. Top and seal with second pie crust. Fold overhang up over the pie-plate's rim and pinch to form a decorative edge. Cut three vents in top crust. Sprinkle evenly with crumb mixture.
3. Bake pie 1 hour 10 minutes or until apples are tender when pierced with knife (to prevent burning, cover pie loosely with tented foil after 40 minutes). Cool pie on rack 3 hours to serve warm, or refrigerate to serve cold later. 

{things i made} minestrone

It is officially soup weather–chilly days somehow always creep inside and all I want to do is cozy up and keep out the cold with hearty, warming dinners. I have yet to meet a soup I didn't like, and this one's no exception. A good minestrone is incredible–lots of veggies packed in every bite, an herb-flavored broth, and a bit of pasta too–but bad, un-flavorful one is a tinny waste of calories. Luckily this one is of the first variety and exactly what a cold November night calls for.
1 cup white onion, minced 
1/2 cup zucchini, chopped 
1 pound sliced mushrooms (about 6 cups)
2 russet potatoes, peeled, cubed

1 cup green beans, cut into one-inch pieces
1 cup carrots, chopped or shredded
1/2 cup celery, minced 
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 ounces sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
8 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
2 (15 ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans small white beans or great northern beans, drained
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoon parsley
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups hot water
4 cups fresh baby spinach, torn

2/3 cup  small shell or tube pasta, cooked
Finely shredded Romano cheese 
(or Parmesan), for serving 
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Saute onion, celery, garlic, pancetta, green beans, potatoes, and zucchini for 5 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent.
 2. Add broth to pot, plus tomatoes, beans,
mushrooms, carrot, hot water, and spices. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 40 minutes.
3. Add spinach leaves and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until desired consistency. Serve with pasta and topped with cheese.

{things i made} baking with pumpkin

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I love baking and cooking with pumpkin, mostly because the average person (me included until a few years ago) normally doesn't think past a traditional pumpkin pie when presented with the ingredient. I haven't touched the canned puree in ages (I use this site's step-by-step to make it fresh–it seems more complicated than it looks the results are like comparing night and day it's that good). Check out the links below to find the perfect recipe for this Halloween–and keep another in mind for Thanksgiving! 



white chocolate chunk pumpkin cookies – recipe here

traditional pumpkin pie - here

cream cheese frosting filled pumpkin muffins - here

pumpkin cheesecake swirl brownies – here

pumpkin crumb muffins – here


{things i made} pain-perdu


I love French toast–it always was one of my mom's favorites so we had it quite often as children. It's of course most worth making when a good, thick bread is involved, which is why "pain perdu" (literally, "lost bread," but referencing stale bread) always held so much appeal to me. After a good soaking in milk, vanilla, and egg (this recipe uses orange–zest and liquor–instead of any cinnamon for flavoring) and a quick fry on a griddle, the end product is a soft, custard-y center enrobed in a crispy, sweet shell. It's dessert-for-breakfast at its most hearty and indulgent, and it's phenomenally good.


1 large brioche or challah loaf
3 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
​1 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
3/4 teaspoons salt
Oil, for pan
Confectioners' sugar, hulled strawberries, and/or syrup, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Slice the bread in 3/4-inch slices.  
2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, honey, sugar, orange liqueur, vanilla, orange zest, and salt. Pour the egg mixture into a large shallow plate and soak a few slices of bread for about 5 minutes, turning once.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Take each slice of bread from the egg mixture, and place in pan. Add more bread to the egg mixture to soak. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until browned. Place the cooked bread on a baking sheet to keep warm in the oven. Wipe out the pan with a dry paper towel, add more oil, and continue to cook the remaining bread. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and serve hot with syrup and/or fruit.



{things i made} angel food cake

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There isn't a lot to hate about angel food cake. Light, airy, and sweet, the name plays on its dreamy qualities. Science explains how the sponge cake bakes so perfectly–the eggs whites get stabilized with cream of tartar and they climb the steep pan slowly as they bake. Cool it upside down to prevent collapsing and cut with a serrated knife so as not to compress the slice, and with some freshly made whipped cream and macerated fruit the cake will be a little slice of heaven.



1 cup flour with ​2 ​-​1/2 tablespoons cornstarch​, ​sifted after measuring
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. table salt
1 1/2 cups egg whites (fro
about 9-10 large eggs), room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 

1. Clean your mixing bowl, beaters, and utensils thoroughly. Preheat oven to 350° F. 
2. Spin sugar in a food processor for 60 seconds, or until finely ground b
ut not powdered. Add half of the sugar to the flour, and set the other half aside.
3. Sift together the flour, half of the sugar, and salt at least 2-3 times to ensure it is evenly mixed.
4. Begin whipping egg whites at medium speed. Once they become frothy, add the cream of tartar and increase the speed of mixer to high.
5. Once the egg whites start to look fluffy and white, sprinkle in the reserved sugar two tablespoons at a time while mixing. When all of the sugar is added, the meringue should look glossy and billowy. Continue to whip until medium peaks form. In the last couple minutes of whipping, add extract.
6. Sift about third of the flour mixture over the top of the meringue, and fold gently with a flexible rubber spatula so as not to deflate the meringue. Once the flour is just barely incorporated, stop folding. Repeat two more times with the remaining flour, folding until just barely incorporated.
7. Gently pour batter into ungreased angel food or tube pan. Gently twist the pan back and forth to settle the batter to ensure that the batter contacts the sides of the pan. Do not drop the pan against the counter.
8. Bake on the middle-lower rack for about 35 minutes, or until the top is evenly golden brown. Do not open the oven door during the first 30 minutes of baking, as it may deflate the cake.
9. Once done, immediately invert the entire pan over a bottle (some pans come with metal feet and can be flipped on the counter). Let the cake cool completely while suspended.
10. Once cool, use a thin knife to cut around the edges of the pan. Remove the cake from the sides of the pan, then cut underneath to separate it from the bottom/tube part. Slice the cake with a serrated knife, and serve as is or with fruit and whipped cream.





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