Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Unfussy: Hernekeitto

Made pea soup for dinner. Erik was not pleased. "But, I hate peas. I have always, always hated peas." True enough. I might have told him that herne are "special Finnish peas" and this is my favorite soup. So, he (very reluctantly) tried it. And, as often happens, he was pleasantly surprised. Thumbs up from Erik (even with his post-soccer hair).

And, Mads had a second bowlful, so she's a thumbs up there too.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Beastmode Birthday Cake!

I've been told this was "quite an ugly cake, not up to [my] usual standards," but it was tasty and the recipients loved and appreciated it, so it's all good.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Samoas Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Contest: Dessert Antipasti

It's that time again... the Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Contest! And, this year because the Samoas cookie is turning 40, the contest was all about Samoas. So, our troop decided to do some recipe science and kitchen magic!

First, I looked through the recipes that have won or placed for Samoas in the past (a critical omission on my part last year). Then, I picked up our free boxes of Samoas cookies and a coupon for a free pound of Darigold butter from the Girl Scout office so that we could start creating!

Finally, I considered a brilliantly fun and easy no-bake recipe that honors my Nonna's Italian roots... her grand-kid approved Chocolate "Salami," which is basically a salami-shaped roll of delicious chocolate confection, studded with yummy cookies and usually with dried fruit, nuts and other flavorings such as citrus zest, vanilla, coffee, or alcohol. The recipe that we created is a riff on this old, classic recipe (that sometimes even uses raw egg yolks). To keep it kid-friendly, we skipped any alcohol or raw egg, and since the Samoas cookie is so flavorful already (caramel, toasted coconut, and chocolate plus delicious buttery cookie), we let it shine along with some scout-favorite mini marshmallows to enhance the "salami" look.

And, to go with the Samoa'd chocolate salami, we also tried out a Samoas Marshmallow Crispy Treat which, after all 14 Juniors in our troop taste-tested two different varieties of each recipe, the girls decided that the marshmallow-cereal treats tasted most amazing as the "bread" for the chocolate salami, so we submit for the Samoas Only Girl Scout Cookie Recipe Contest...  our very own Samoas Dessert Antipasti! 
Samoas Dessert Antipasti - Kid-friendly, easy and scout-approved!

Samoas Dessert Antipasti 
(Junior-Scout Approved!)

Nonna’s Samoa'd Chocolate Salami
  • 10 crushed or chopped Samoas cookies 
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 Tbs. softened, salted Darigold butter
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chunks or chips, melted
  • 1/3 cup mini marshmallows
Samoas Marshmallow Cereal Treat “Focaccia”
  • 4 Tbsp.  (1/2 stick) salted Darigold butter
  • One 10.5 oz bag mini marshmallows (equals 6 cups) 
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1 box of crushed or chopped Samoas cookies 

For the Samoa'd chocolate salami
Put 10 Samoas cookies into a zip-top bag, close it, and bash up the cookies with a rolling pin until they are about pea-sized chunks (or chop them up with a chef's knife), then dump into a mixing bowl. Next add the sugar, unsweetened cocoa and the softened (melty) butter. Stir all ingredients together, by hand, until combined.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds. Pour over the cookie mixture and stir a little, then add marshmallows and stir well.

Spoon the mixture onto (powdered-sugar covered) plastic wrap and shape into a salami log (with cooking-spray covered hands. Dust with more powdered sugar, and roll up in plastic wrap. Pop into the freezer for about 30 minutes (or refrigerate for 1-2 hours), and then cut it in slices to serve with marshmallow "focaccia."

For the marshmallow-cereal treat "focaccia" 
Spray a 9x9 pan with cooking spray. Put all 15 of the Samoas into a zip-top bag, close it, and bash up the cookies with a rolling pin until they are about pea- and marble-sized chunks. Separate out about ¼ cup of crumbs for the top of the “bread” and set it aside.

Next, in a large soup pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the bag of mini marshmallows, stirring to combine.  When the marshmallows are melted, remove from the heat and stir in the 6 cups of cereal.

Sprinkle the bottom of the prepared pan with some of the crushed Samoas. Mix the remaining Samoas (from the bag) into the marshmallow treat mixture (this takes a strong arm, or four Junior scouts and one leader). Next, scoop the marshmallow mixture onto the crushed cookies in the 9x9 pan, press gently to even out, and then top with the remaining ¼ cup of Samoas crumbs. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes until firm, then slice into thin “bread-like” chunks and serve topped with, or alongside, chocolate salami.
Melting the Darigold butter and marshmallows in copper pots (Samoas caramel is made in copper pots! That's a fact!)
Prepping the four versions for taste testing... 
More sugar? Less sugar? More marshmallows? Fewer? A whole box of Samoas? 
And, the winning recipe... to combine the chocolate salami with the cereal-treat "bread" with less sugar (but more Samoas). Cookie season is their favorite!! 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Unfussy: Grilled Endive

Thumbs down from both kids on the grilled endive, but Mads loved the garlic vinaigrette that it was dressed with. The chicken roasted perfectly in 40 minutes, and the carrots are absolutely delicious (and I don't care for cooked carrots).

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Cooking

Using the recipe from The Cupcake Diaries books (from Sue & Nonno for Christmas), I made a dozen cupcakes while the kids were working through homework. They both deserved a treat for all of the work they plowed through.

And, since I'd seen a demo of "no-fail" fried chicken on Queen Latifah's show, I made fried chicken for the first time ever, and finally used the cast iron chicken fryer for its intended purpose. It was tasty, not greasy, and far superior to any from the store or restaurant. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year...

with some traditional Japanese dishes from our good friends. Absolutely delicious!!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Yule Log 2015

I used the Heavenly Cake Roll recipe again from Smitten Kitchen this year, and some marzipan fruit that I had in the cupboard, plus a sprinkling of mini M&M's. The kids were uninterested in helping as they had a bevy of friends over for NYE.

It was tasty as usual.

Kitchen Decor

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Cheese plate to go, M's gorgeous ornament that she made, and a repurposed lemonade bottle for gifting some Huggo's On The Rocks Mai Tais (fun labeling by me, to make sure the recipient knew where the recipe was from).

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Gifts from the kitchen... And, the Interwebs.

I love the Internet. Brilliant ideas, information. Love it. This brilliant lady made fresh Christmas potpourri, and so I did this... I added whole cloves to mine (about 1 Tablespoon).

And, my friends loved it. LOVED.

And, this brilliant lady shared this recipe for Primal Chocolate Chip Cookies, and they are the only kind I make anymore. They're that good. And, our family isn't even gluten free, but healthier cookies are a winner, especially when they taste great. 

I do make mine with COLD butter rather than palm shortening (or coconut oil when I make them for vegan friends). 

They're made with almond meal, butter, honey, vanilla, salt, and baking soda. That's it. I know the recipe by heart. Oh, and they're made in the food processor. I only stir the chocolate chips in by hand at the end. 

Aren't they pretty? 

And, perhaps most exciting of all this year... On The Rocks, the casual dining restaurant/bar on Kailua-Kona Bay in Kona, HI, shared the recipe for their Famous Mai Tai on their blog this month. If I close my eyes, it's just like I'm right there with my feet in the sand sipping on one while listening to some amazing live tunes on a ukulele! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday Houses

Sweet Brickle

When M was a baby, we started calling her "Brickle" because she was as sweet as butter brickle. But then we figured we should look up exactly what kind of candy we were comparing our child to.

It turns out that it's a delicious toffee-ish confection that I made for our family that first Christmas. And, I'd only made it once since then, until today. Jen served the exact recipe at our scout leader holiday party last week, and so I figured it was time to dusty this one off for the holidays!

So easy. So delicious! Share it with your friends and family. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Saltine-Toffee-Cookies/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Thumb&e11=saltine%20toffee&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Recipe&soid=sr_results_p1i1

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014


Graham cracker house construction is M's homework this week. So, I made a wee one, and I'm helping her construct.
The bonus is that the icing recipe the school suggested is fantastic.


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