Welcome, Fall

The weather in New York City has been glorious this past week (except for that whole freakish Tornado thing).   I’ve talked about how much I love this season, when it starts getting chilly and people buy new school supplies — I love the promise of an empty notebook!  Fall is also the season when Mr. Kitchen and I truly fell in love, so this season has all sorts of super happy memories for me.   One of our best dates was going to some of the OpenHouse NY sites.  Each year in the fall, there’s an “Open House NY” weekend, where sites that are generally not open to the public open their doors for everyone to visit.  We got to visit the garden rooftops surrounding Rockefeller Center and the Mason’s lodge in the city.  I love exploring the city and I was so so happy to discover that Mr. Kitchen did too.

Another reason to love fall?  The produce choices available in this season just can’t be beat.   So in honor of this fabulous time of year, where there are Apples! Pumpkins! Squash! All sorts of root vegetables! I thought it might be nice to focus on fall produce recipes for the next few weeks.

First up?  Apples.

Most people have an apple pie recipe, but apples make such a fabulous addition to all sorts of foods.  I’ve seen it added as a last step in stews, had it chopped and roasted with onions and celery with chicken, and all sorts of other mix-ups with turkey and other proteins.  My newest favorite is adding to it to a pork roast.  Actually, it’s more like adding a bourbon-infused apple pie to pork roast.

pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

Pork Loin with Apple Bourbon Topping

The rub

2 lb pork loin

1 tbsp salt

pinch cayenne pepper

generous pinch thyme, pepper and rosemary

2 tbsp olive oil,  another 2 tbsp for searing

The topping

1 apple (I like Granny Smith), finely chopped

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp  cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

3 tbsp Bourbon (your choice, but a word to the wise — if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.)

A roasting pan

Preheat the oven to 325°

Mix together dry rub ingredients (salt, cayenne, pepper, etc.)  Rub down the pork loin with about 2 tbsp olive oil and then rub on dry ingredients.  Let stand 10 minutes.  In a pan large enough to fit the roast, heat the remaining olive oil.  Sear the roast on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side.  (For a good tutorial on searing, see here)

Once the meat is seared, place it in the roasting pan.  I like to use roasting pans that have an elevated roasting rack.  I also add water to the base of the pan, as an extra insurance that the meat will remain tender.  Cook the roast in the oven, uncovered, for about a half an hour.  (You’ll be adding the topping to the roast and will be returning it to the oven.)

To make the topping, finely chop the apple and add the lemon juice.  Add vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg and bourbon.  Stir together well.

After the roast’s initial 30 minute cooking period, remove from oven and pile the apple topping on top of the roast.  Return to oven (make sure there’s still water in the base of the pan!) and cook until the center of the roast reaches 160° .  Generally, this takes about 40 minutes per pound, but I’ve found that using this topping makes the roast cook a bit slower.   We’re also cooking this at a slightly lower temperature, to let the apple flavoring soak into the meat.  If you’re shorter on time, a good guideline is 350° and 30 minutes per pound.  Let roast stand for 10 minutes before carving (it allows the meat to firm up to make slicing easier).

pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

The pork with the olive oil and herbs rub

pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

Searing the roast

pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

Pile the apple mixture on top of the roast

pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

Cooked and sliced pork roast with brown sugar bourbon apple topping

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Well that didn’t go as planned…

I know that I’m a bit late for the Labor Day BBQ recipes, but I was a little traumatized after my attempt to make peanut butter and jelly cupcakes, only to have them turn out like golden and slightly burned hockey pucks.

I have a baking disaster every once in a while and I guess I was due for one.   I painstakingly put these little babies together, carefully piping some jelly into the batter, topping that with more batter.

Peanut butter and jelly cupcake batter

Peanut butter and jelly cupcake batter, pre-topping

I was worried that the oils from the peanut butter might bake quickly, so I took them out a minute before the low-end on the baking range, but to no avail.  Hockey pucks.  Mr. Kitchen said they were still pretty tasty.  That’s why we’re getting married.  Cause he’s got no problem eating my reject cupcakes.  He accepts my occasional baking screw-ups.  This pairs nicely with my usual ability to ignore the fact that his clothes never seem to make it into the hamper.*

Peanut butter and jelly cupcakes

Sad peanut butter and jelly cupcakes

I think maybe I’ve figured out how to amend the recipe to fix the peanut butter oil problem, but it will take more testing and patience than I’ve got time for right now.  Instead, I’m giving you my absolutely no-fail Oh-My-God amazing butterscotch chocolate chunk recipe.

Super yummy and man-o-man is this perfect with a glass of milk.  Speaking of milk, did I mention that Mr. Kitchen’s family used to own a dairy farm? I’m trying to concoct a death-by-dairy recipe in honor of our recent trip to Michigan.  If you’ve got suggestions, let me know.  In the mean-time…. Butterscotch Chocolate Chunks!

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

*Adapted very heavily from Nick Manglieri’s Modern Baker

(Makes about 12 large cookies)

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

10 tbsp softened butter (salted) (about 1 1/4 sticks)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

12 oz chocolate chunks (I tend to over-chunk my cookies, but I love em this way) — Note you can mix dark chocolate, bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate

2 cookie sheets (I like to line mine with foil, but parchment is also an option)

Preheat oven to 350º

Stir flour and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine softened butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla and beat with mixer until just mixed.  Then beat in egg.  Be careful not to over-beat this mixture, which will result in flat cookies.  With a large spatula, stir the flour into the wet mixture.  Add chocolate chunks and gently combine.  Drop heaping spoonfuls of dough on to cookie sheets lined with foil or parchment.  Gently press cookies down.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies have risen a bit and are golden.

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Gently mixed dough for Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Giant cookies!

Baked Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Baked Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Cookies

*Sometimes I go ape-shit over this.  Once it’s out of my system, I bake him cookies.

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Easy Does It

I’m on vacation this week, and we’re headed out to Michigan to visit Mr. Kitchen’s family.  We haven’t seen them since we’ve become engaged so we’re excited to go visit!  Also, I am very excited to not get up and schlep on crowded smelly super hot subways for a week.  I need to escape from the city, or at least work commuting, fairly regularly or else I get twitchy.  Does anyone else living in the city get that?  I’m generally a pretty happy person but every once in a while — generally after weeks of working overtime with no end in sight — I start getting irrationally angry at my commute.  Once I even kicked a subway car.  Guess what? When you do that? The subway car always wins.  I had a bruise on my foot for a few days.

Anyway, back to my vacation and visiting my soon-to-be in-laws.  I’ve never really cooked for my in-laws, but if I were hosting a meal, I would imagine I would serve something like this.  Really, this might be the perfect in-laws over for dinner recipe.  1) It looks impressive 2) It involves crowd-pleaser ingredients (unless your in-laws have nut allergies) 3) It’s pretty easy to make and 4) It’s fairly healthy!

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Makes enough for two breasts — Double for your in-laws!

Stuffing

2 tbsp butter

1/4 onion, diced

1/8 cup almonds, chopped or pulsed in food processor

1 tsp parsley flakes

1 egg yolk

2 tbsp Parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Topping

1/4 cup Panko

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (shredded)

1 tsp butter (melted)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

A bit of olive oil, for drizzling.

Preheat oven to 350º

To form pockets in the chicken:  With a very sharp knife, cut from the top (thickest part) of the breast from right to left and top to bottom at approximately a 30 degree angle, so that you’re forming an angled slit throughout the entire length of the chicken.  Make sure that you do not cut all the way through the chicken breast (otherwise you’ll have chicken breast halves).  Start out easy, making a slow, shallow cut.  You can always go back and cut deeper.

The stuffing:  Melt butter in sauce pan and saute onions and peppers.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Allow mixture to cool.  After it has cooled, mix cooked peppers and onions with almonds, egg and Parmesan.  Spoon mixture into chicken pockets.

The topping:  In a bowl, mix together Dijon and melted butter.  Brush some of this over the chicken breasts.  Mix remaining butter/Dijon with panko and Parmesan, and spoon on top of breasts, pressing the topping on gently to set it.  Drizzle tops of chicken breasts with a bit of olive oil.   Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Diced onions and peppers

Diced onions and peppers

Sauteed onions and peppers

Sauteed onions and peppers

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Stuffing the chicken breasts

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Stuffed chicken breasts

Pre-bake Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Pre-bake Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

Panko topped stuffed chicken breasts

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Lighten Up

As you may have noticed by the photos that accompany the recipes I’ve posted, I cook (and inevitably eat) everything that’s included on the blog.  So, while all the stick to your ribs food I’ve been posting has been an absolute joy to make and eat, my Wii Fit Mii has been looking pretty shameful lately.  Yes, that’s right, I’m being shamed by the Wii Fit.  My Mii has been looking pretty dejected this week and the game system keeps playing that “doh doh doh doh” “you lose” music, so I’m thinking this is a bad sign.  Everything in moderation right?  So next up is a delightful, light and actually good for you Herb Crusted Salmon.

Herb Crusted Salmon.  Is it just me or does that just automatically sound just a bit more sophisticated than your average mid-week meal?  Luckily, this recipe is incredibly easy and takes less than 20 minutes total to prepare.

herb crusted salmon with white asparagus drizzled with a balsamic parmesan vinaigrette

I paired the salmon with a white asparagus drizzled with a balsamic parmesan vinaigrette and dinner rolls

Herb Crusted Salmon

2 Salmon steaks (approx 3/4 lb)

2 tsp basil

2 tsp thyme

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp rosemary

2 tsp flour

pinch salt

pinch pepper

pinch tarragon

Olive oil to drizzle on salmon

Pre-heat oven to 400º

Rinse salmon fillets.  In a bowl, mix the herbs together in along with flour.   Cover a jelly roll pan with foil.  Drizzle a little bit of olive oil on fillets, enough to just coat the top surface of the fillet.  Dip fillets oil-covered surface down into mixture of herbs, pressing gently to coat the surface.  Place fillets on pan.  Drizzle again with a bit of olive oil.  Bake for approximately 10 minutes.

White Asparagus with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Parmesan

Half a bunch of white asparagus, rinsed

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp salt

pinch pepper

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese (shaved)

Rinse and trim asparagus.  In a shallow pot, blanch asparagus spears over medium-high heat for approximately 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  In a bowl, mix together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and dijon.  Drizzle or toss with asparagus.  Top asparagus with Parmesan.

Pre-cooked salmon topped with herbs

Raw salmon topped with herbs

Mixing the white asparagus with balsamic vinaigrette

Mixing the white asparagus with balsamic vinaigrette

Herb crusted salmon with white asparagus drizzled with Balsamic vinaigrette and Parmesan

Herb crusted salmon with white asparagus drizzled with Balsamic vinaigrette and Parmesan

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Are You Ready for Some Football?

I mentioned last week that I am dying for fall to begin.  It coincides with all my favorite things — the weather finally turning from ungodly to tolerable and then downright pleasant, the return of hearty recipes, sweaters, school supplies and football.  I love football.  I’m one of those crazy people who yells and screams at the TV during games, because in my sports-induced insanity, I think the players can actually hear me.  (I’m looking at you Manning.)   Mr. Kitchen and I started getting serious right around the start of football season,  and he says he was really pleasantly surprised when he found out I was a fan of the game.  He gets a kick out of my insane TV ranting.  So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to game-time snacks, I’ve got em covered.  Trust me, even if you hate the game, if you’re dating a sports-guy, you’re gonna end up at  at least one game.  You’re likely going to a Super Bowl party if nothing else.   Make these, and you are insta-Sports Girlfriend Goddess.

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Makes 2 thin loaves

I am including a recipe for the dough that has been adapted slightly from Nick Malgieri’s “The Modern Baker,”  but if you are short on time, most supermarkets carry pizza dough.  (Pillsbury makes a dough if you’re really short on time.)

Bread Dough

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt**

2  1/2 teaspoons active yeast (one packet)

1  2/3 cups warm water

3 tbsp oil  (olive is best, but vegetable will do)

Additional oil for coating the pan

Filling

3/4 lb very thinly sliced pepperoni

3/4 lb very thinly sliced provolone

Additional

* 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese optional (shredded) for top of bread

1 Egg, beaten for wash

** The recipe would normally call for 2 teaspoons salt, but I find that the pepperoni is salty enough on its own to balance out the bread, especially if you’re topping the bread with Parmesan.

The Dough — Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir well to mix.  In a separate bowl, whisk the yeast into the water and whisk in the oil.  Make a well in the center of the flour and pour liquid into center.  With a spatula, begin stirring in the center of the bowl, gradually stirring from the center outward, incorporating more and more flour as you go.  Once the flour is totally incorporated, the dough will still be very soft.  Knead the dough very lightly, by folding the outside edges into the center — keep folding until there are no dry bits left.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk (generally 1-2 hours depending on the air temperature).  Lightly oil your hands and turn the dough over once.  Cover again and let rise, approximately one hour.

Preheat the oven to 325 º.

The Roll — Once the pizza dough is prepared, roll out half the dough flat into a rectangle approximately 18 inches wide and 12 inches long.   Lay out slices of provolone in one layer across surface of dough.  Layer pepperoni slices on top of provolone.  Starting at the top of the dough, roll edges downward horizontally so that dough forms a roll.  Press down on seam and twist ends to seal dough.  Place the roll on a tin-foil lined cookie sheet in a U-shape, seam-side down.   Repeat rolling, layering provolone and pepperoni and sealing for remainder of dough.   At this point, you can sprinkle shredded Parmesan on top of rolls and press cheese gently into dough.  Brush egg wash across entire top surface of each roll.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until dough is golden.  Let cool on pan for 15 minutes, then slice into 1″ wide slices.

Pepperoni provolone bread

Dough rolled out for Pepperoni provolone bread

Pepperoni provolone bread

Layer the cheese then the pepperoni for Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Rolling the dough for the Pepperoni Provolone Bread -- I ran out of provolone in the second loaf, but you can easily mix in some mozzarella.

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Brushing the egg wash on the Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

Pepperoni Provolone Bread

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The Everything Good Cookie — Love at First Bite

Mr. Kitchen and I may be hazy about the first meal I ever made for him, but we’re definitely in agreement on the first thing I baked for him:  Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies.  I made these shortly after Mr. Kitchen and I first started dating.   These beautiful drop cookies are also known in our household as The Everything Good Cookie because they are a mixture of everything heavenly on Earth — peanut butter, steel cut oats, chunks of semi-sweet chocolate and sometimes, when I’m feeling frisky — walnuts or pecans.  Mr. Kitchen swore he heard the Seraphim after eating just one bite.  I knew I had him then.   I don’t bake them all that often — their yummy potency can be overwhelming (for the waistline) but when Mr. Kitchen has done something super awesome, I break out the recipe.   (Oh who am I kidding — I bake these when I’m PMSing too.)  I can’t remember where I saw the basis for this recipe, which I’m sure was a peanut butter cookie, but I just kept adding things until the dough literally couldn’t take anymore ingredients without totally falling apart.

I also think these are the perfect fall cookie and, maybe it’s a result of the super hot summer we’ve had in New York this year, but I’ve been craving the fall like nobody else.  I’ve taken to cooking those stick-to-your ribs type casseroles too in the irrational hopes that it will bring a change in the season.  (More on those next time.)  This is what happens to me in August in New York.  I go a little batty.  August also makes me want to buy school supplies, even though I’ve been out of school for nearly a decade.  Go figure.

Now, like I said — this recipe — the force is strong with this one.  Use sparingly, unless you want yourself a stalker.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes 12 fairly large cookies

3/4 cup old fashioned rolled oats (steel cut oats)

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 stick salted butter (softened)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 tbsp vanilla

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 large egg

Approx 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks (the amount really depends on how much you like chocolate)

* Optional — 3/8 cup nuts (walnuts work well)

In a food processor (or a blender), pulse 1/2 cup oats.  In a large bowl, mix together whole oats, ground oats, flour, baking powder and baking soda.  In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar until creamy, then add vanilla and peanut butter.  Mix well.  Add egg and beat well.  Add in flour mixture and beat well.  Add in chocolate chunks and nuts (if adding) and gently mix together.  Chill cookie dough at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 325º  Drop large spoonfuls (think the size of a medium meatball) of cookie mix onto foiled cookie sheet (ungreased is fine) and gently press down on cookies to flatten slightly.  Cookies should be placed 1.5-2″ apart if possible.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  **I’ve found that these cookies are best when just the bottom is golden brown.

These are amazing fresh out of the oven with a scoopful of vanilla ice cream on top.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The peanut butter mixture gooeyness

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The dough -- try to resist eating this raw!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Drop the dough, flatten slightly

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The Morning After

Ah the sleepover.  Nothing could be more blissful than a couple’s first weekend together…. Many a girl has swooned over thoughts of coffee and the crossword, tucked in bed with her new beloved, eating something fabulous (and undoubtedly fattening).  We have every Jennifer Anniston movie to thank for that.  Hell even Julia Roberts got a big fantastic breakfast the morning after in Pretty Woman.   Not that every morning after is pretty.  I seem to recall Mr. Kitchen and I being pretty hungover.  No matter, I’ve got an easy no-fail awesome Challah bread french toast recipe for you.  I told you that leftover Challah bread from the You’re Gonna Remember Me Brown Bettys would come in handy.  Wanna make sure he keeps coming back for breakfast?  Who could resist this?

Challah Bread French Toast with Strawberries and Blueberries

Challah Bread French Toast with Strawberries and Blueberries

Challah Bread French Toast

(Makes 6 slices)

1/2 loaf Challah loaf bread

2 eggs

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp cinnamon

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Strawberries, stemmed and sliced

Blueberries

Butter (for frying)

Confectioner’s sugar  (for dusting)

Slice Challah bread loaf into six slices (1/4 inch slices.  In a bowl, beat eggs, heavy cream, vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar well.  Heat pan over medium heat.  Melt a pat of butter in pan.  Dip a slice of the Challah in the egg batter on each side.  Put into pan, browning on each side for approximately 2 minutes.  Note:  I’ve found it’s best to cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, which will keep in the moisture and reduce the chance of burning.  Repeat with each slice of Challah.  Garnish with strawberries, blueberries and confectioner’s sugar.

Challah Bread French Toast with Strawberries and Blueberries

Challah Bread French Toast with Strawberries and Blueberries

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Cooking Into His Heart

As the size of my butt can attest, I love food.  Some of my fondest memories of when I first began dating Mr. Kitchen, my almost-husband, involve cooking for him.  He swears the first thing I made for him was Empanadas, but I think it was sausage and peppers.  In either case, I do remember he always asked for seconds.   He still does.  I think I did, in some way, cook my way into his heart.   He says that my cooking showed him I cared for him — that I wanted to take care of him.  I think that’s likely true for a lot of people, but let’s face it — the cliche “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” exists for a reason.  I know lots of women who agonize over cooking for their would-be boyfriend for the first-time.  They want to bring their A-game, to somehow make their guy all weak-kneed in their domestic goddess presence.  For any of you who might be searching for that perfect, but not terribly hard “wow” recipe, I present “You’re Gonna Remember Me Berry Brown Bettys.”

Berry Brown Bettys, Strawberry Blueberry Challah Bread Brown Bettys

Strawberry Blueberry Challah Bread Brown Bettys

This recipe is great for two reasons: you can prep much of this beforehand; and it’s super fast to make.  I can’t imagine any man who would turn this down, when served warm with fresh whipped cream.  It’s got a magical mixture of Challah bread, berries, butter, sugar…. really could anything be better?  Plus, that leftover Challah? Well I’ve got another recipe for you in case the date goes really well and he’s there for breakfast.

You’re Gonna Remember Me Brown Bettys  (AKA Strawberry Blueberry Challah Bread Brown Bettys)

Adapted from Gourmet and Smitten Kitchen

Makes six individual desserts

Challah Loaf

3/4 stick salted butter

1/8 cup light brown sugar

4 tbsp All-purpose flour

1/2 cup Japanese bread crumbs (Panko)

1/2 cup blueberries, rinsed

1 cup strawberries, rinsed, stemmed and sliced

1 teaspoon lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Whipped cream (this can be refrigerated for a couple of hours beforehand if you’re making it fresh)

A muffin tin  (preferably holding six muffins, but 12 will do)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat until golden.  Remove from heat.  Use a brush to coat the muffin tin.  (Note: If you’re using a 12-muffin tin, only coat six of the spaces unless you are doubling this recipe.)  Slice six pieces off Challah loaf and gently cut crusts off.  Roll the bread with a rolling pin until flattened.  Brush both sides of the bread with butter and gently press slices into muffin tin (one slice in each space).  Stir together brown sugar, flour and Panko.  If using zest, incorporate into dry ingredients, otherwise, incorporate lemon juice into strawberries and blueberries.  Add remaining butter to mixture.  Toss ingredients gently to coat berries in flour/Panko/sugar mixture.  Spoon heaping spoonfuls into muffin tin, pressing down gently to pack mixture in.

Note:  If you are using a 12 muffin tin and are only making six Brown Bettys, be sure to fill the empty spaces about halfway full with water.  This will prevent scorching in the pan and burning your Bettys!

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then remove foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until strawberries are tender.  (Some of the blueberries may burst — don’t worry, they taste better that way!)  Let stand for 5-7 minutes and top with whipped cream.  These are best when served warm.

Challah Bread Rolled Out

Rolled out Challah bread

Challah Bread Pressed in Muffin Tin for Brown Bettys

Pressing the Challah bread into the muffin tin

Baked Strawberry Blueberry Challah Bread Brown Bettys

Baked Strawberry Blueberry Challah Bread Brown Bettys

Finished Challah Bread Strawberry Blueberry Brown Bettys

Finished Challah Bread Strawberry Blueberry Brown Bettys

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Graduating from the Barbie Kitchen

My old kitchen was what we affectionately termed a Barbie kitchen.  Literally the size of a dollhouse kitchen, it came complete with a mini, under-the-counter size fridge and an Easy-Bake Oven.  I have no idea how I ever cooked things there — I had one square foot of counter space.  Let me repeat that.  ONE SQUARE FOOT.  It was a galley kitchen you had to turn sideways to walk in.  But I was single, so it was perfect for me.  I had the unicorn of NYC real estate –a backyard — and I threw summer dinner parties and bbqs.  But it came with lots of cooking complications.  Like my freezer not working.  And the fact that I could fit absolutely nothing in my fridge.  And ONE SQUARE FOOT OF COUNTER SPACE.  Can you imagine rolling out a pie crust in one square foot of counter space? Or making lasagna? Or chopping, well, anything?!?  My stove was no better.  I couldn’t fit a standard size roasting pan in there.  I had to get itty bitty cookie sheets.  The one blessing of that kitchen — it forced me to cook nearly every day.  I couldn’t fit leftovers in my fridge!

Truth be told, I learned a lot about myself living and cooking on my own.  I learned that I could never ever date someone who didn’t love food and who didn’t love my cooking.  My husband-to-be, who I met while in that apartment, became my ultimate taste-tester and sometimes regretful guinea pig.  I would venture to say he might have fallen in love with my lasagna and my cheesecakes before he fell in love with me, but he disagrees.  It’s with him that I’ve finally graduated to a Big Girl Kitchen, complete with ten times the counter space of the Barbie Kitchen and a real, life-sized refrigerator and oven.  I can cook whole meals in there!  So here’s me, cooking my way through life, love and everything in between.

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