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Manda Cooks

Dear Loyal Saucy Readers,

You may have caught on to the fact that Christina and I haven’t been cooking together lately. Don’t worry—our friendship doesn’t flip flop as often as Blair and Serena’s (despite other striking similarities)…it’s just that…deepbreath….just say it……wedon’tliveinthesamecityanymore. Phew. Now it’s out there in the open. Saucy currently lives 116 miles apart, but it could be worse, right?

Anyway, the point is that I, Amanda, have decided to launch my own little food forum, MANDA COOKS.

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Settling In

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I recently moved into a new apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. My bedroom is small, missing some key furniture items, and currently in a state of disarray. Unlike my bedroom, the kitchen is enormous, houses my new (old) KitchenAid standing mixer (!), and is generally pretty spick and span. So naturally, that’s where I’ve been liking to spend my time. And what better reason to spend time in the kitchen than having to a) play with your new KitchenAid, b) bake sweet treats for new friends and old friends and housewarmings, and c) eat baked goodies for dessert (and breakfast…)

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The first recipe I wanted to introduce to Mr. KitchenAid was my standard chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, since he and they will likely be spending lots of time together. I am happy to announce that they got along perfectly and my arms were more than happy to not have to cream butter and sugar and incorporate oats into the sticky dough, which can end up being quite a work out. Mr. KitchenAid simply sat there, mixing away, humming a bit and within minutes I had perfectly mixed and consistent cookie dough. LIfe changing, really.

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A few days later I made my first autumn 2009 batch of pumpkin bread. Mr. KA impressed me yet again. The pumpkin bread was moist and filled with spices, and oh-so fally. Wrapped in a plastic bag and paired with a stack of cookies, it made a perfect housewarming gift for Cuddleganners Emily and Jona.

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And yesterday another important addition was brought into my new home: Baking Illustrated, the baking cookbook of all baking cookbooks, written by the authors of Cooks’ Illustrated magazine. I paged through the book when I got home and was soon whipping up a batch of brownies that ended up being as perfect as the book claimed: dense and gooey with a flaky top layer, requiring a glass of milk to finish them off. I had two for breakfast this morning.

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Galette and Other Goodies

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I have been intrigued by the simplicity of galettes for a while now — throw what you want (really! anything!) on top of a pie crust, fold the edges over, and voila! When I was home last weekend some snacks were needed for the Notre Dame game on Saturday afternoon. I picked up some party dogs for momma from the farmer’s market and decided to dive into the world of galettes to make a veg-friendly munchie. I chopped a medium sized white onion and a clove of garlic and sauteed them in a bit of olive oil for about ten minutes. Once translucent, I piled the onions in the middle of a circular pie crust, threw on some leftover chopped tomatoes from breakfast and shredded gruyere cheese on top. I folded the sides in, popped it in the oven for about 25 minutes, sliced like a pizza, and enjoyed!

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Other weekend goodies included three loaves of pumpkin bread, a quadrupled batch of granola, spicy spiked oatmeal cranberry cookies, and, my favorite, brunch at Spring Mill Cafe with mom and Dana.

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Birthday Cakes!

For those of you who don’t know, August is the best month to have a birthday…preferably end of August. Some really great people are born during this Leo to Virgo transitional period. For example, yours truly (20th!), cheetah sister Allison (30th!), and co-worker Natalie (31st!).

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I was lucky enough to have four birthday cakes (plus one chipwich with a Hanukkah candle in it and a cupcake with a ballerina on top) throughout my birthday celebrations (that may seem like a lot but are you surprised? no, you’re not.) My first: a two layer chocolate cake with light and fluffy frosting made by Gram and decorated by Dana (see above). My second: a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cake, chocolate fudge brownie on the bottom and cookie dough on the top. My third: a vanilla layer cake with chocolate pudding in between the layers, chosen by my dad. And lastly, a truly amazing crepe cake from Lady M picked out by my favorite sister, Dana; it was comprised of about thirty crepes with a thin layer of custard between each, I can’t even begin to describe how yummy it was.

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After happily receiving my plethora of birthday sweets, I knew it was time to give back to fellow birthday girls. I made Allison Shipley’s Secret Garden chocolate bundt cake (a classic among my high school friends) and sprinkled it with powdered sugar. And I put together a three layer red velvet cake for Natalie, generously frosted with red velvet’s partner in crime, cream cheese frosting.

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Speaking of birthdays…there is another Saucy birthday coming up in about three weeks…let the birthday cake brainstorming begin!

Unfortunately my camera battery is dead and the charger is MIA so photos taken on my blackberry will have to do. I know they’re not up to Saucy standards but forgive me. Sigh.

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