Maple Graham Crackers

One of my favorite kitchen challenges is making homemade versions of store-bought treats. Not to get all preachy, but I’d rather not eat something I can’t pronounce. And I’m not a big fan of partially-hydrogenated anything.

So despite the fact that I just bought a box of caramel delites at the Harvard T-stop (don’t call me a hypocrite; it’s for the children!) we really don’t have that many boxed treats laying around. But Gabe and I are both humans, and humans need snacks.

Enter homemade graham crackers. I love being able to eat a slightly sweet treat while knowing that it’s made by my hands rather than a conveyer belt. This version has a twist, based solely on the fact that I ran out of honey before baking them: maple syrup! Try ’em! They’re slightly sweet, all whole wheat, and pretty neat. Can’t be beat.

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Baked Spinach Mac ‘n’ Cheese

As I ran across campus today– trying to protect roughly 1700 pages of precious library books from the freezing rain– all I could think about was a hot plate of comfort food. It was the perfect day for some homemade mac ‘n’ cheese.

But by the time I got home, neither Gabe nor I felt like cooking, so we ordered Indian food for supper instead. (Ah, the joys of city living!)

I still thought I’d share this recipe with you; I came up with it a couple weeks ago and we found it pretty tasty. This version of mac ‘n’ cheese is much healthier than the original. I discovered that using more flavorful cheese (such as an Italian blend) means that a little goes a long way. So instead of the whopping 16 oz. of cheese that some recipes use, this one only calls for 4 oz. And it still tastes cheesy, I promise.

Up close and personal

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Cranberry Vodka

Happy Valentine’s Day! Gabe and I have totally different schedules so I won’t see him until late tonight, but I did pack his lunch and included a sandwich in the shape of a heart. (Guess who I learned that from?)

Today’s recipe has me in good spirits. I used high quality vodka for this instead of the bug spray cheaper stuff I used for my homemade vanilla extract. Of course, the actual consumption will have to wait until the weekend, when a certain high school friend is paying us a visit. (That’s right, Sam. It’s on the blog; you can’t back out now.)

Happy V-day, everyone! Much love!

P.S. Credit goes to Gabe for the bug spray joke. He makes me giggle.

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Macarons with Strawberry Frosting

In case you haven’t heard, next Tuesday is Valentine’s Day. Gabe and I are looking forward to some R&R and fun with friends at the Cape this weekend. In preparation for our trip I spent the morning working ahead on homework doing some V-day baking.

Which means more macarons! A lot of macaron makers insist that you must use powdered food coloring instead of liquid food coloring or your macarons won’t turn out, but that seemed silly to me. And as you can see, I successfully used the liquid stuff without creating a catastrophe.

In fact, they’re quite pretty. :) Happy early Valentine’s Day!

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Whole Wheat Beer Bread

Okay, I’ll admit it. Up until about two days ago, I had never even contemplated making beer bread without the aid of a mix. But then we had one of our Shabbat parties and our lovely guests filled our refrigerator with beer, and as much as I love the occasional brewski, there’s no way Gabe and I can drink it all ourselves.

The solution? Turn it into food!

I used whole wheat flour in this recipe and much less butter than most, but it still tastes deeeeelicious. The cool thing is that this bread takes on the flavor of whatever type of beer you use. (But in a good way, so that icky can of cheap beer your boyfriend bought on a whim at Trader Joe’s can actually be used for something. Ahem.)

Cheers!

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Best Pesto, Presto!

It sort of feels like the wrong time of year to be posting about pesto. This savory sauce screams of summer, when fresh basil plants have sprung up everywhere, and the neighbors have so many tomatoes they’re leaving them on your doorstep and running away.

Alas, it’s not summer yet. But I still want pesto.

This is by far my favorite recipe. I love making big batches and freezing it in ice cube trays so I can grab a cube whenever the mood strikes. Pesto is delicious spread on sandwiches, stirred into soup, tossed with pasta, or just eaten by the spoonful. (Yeah…)

It provides a little taste of summer, even in February, and that makes me smile.

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Tuscan White Bean Salad

When I lived in Washington, D.C. my biggest kitchen challenge was learning how to cook for one. My stomach still turns at the thought of a particular ramen noodle salad that I loved on day one but hated on day fourteen. (I also learned that being frugal did not require buying 80% lean beef. Especially when the thought of eating all that fat grossed me out so much it ended up in the trash anyway.)

Anyway… you’d think that by now I would have learned how to pare down portion sizes. But you’d be wrong.

This Tuscan white bean salad is delicious, but it makes a ton. Perfect for a potluck, but not so great for just the two of us. Next time, I’ll reduce the proportions, or plan to serve it at a party instead. Live and learn!

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