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Archive for the ‘Sweets’ Category

Norman Rene’s Pumpkin Bread

A few weeks ago, fellow cooking-enthusiast Julian Joslin placed a folded piece of lined paper in my hand and whispered “this is the best thing you’ve ever tasted” while maintaining I’m-really-not-messing-around eye contact. I unfolded the paper to find Norman Rene’s (the legend himself…take my word for it) recipe for pumpkin bread. I carried the little gem in my wallet, was reminded of its presence throughout the past few weeks, but was juggling a busy schedule and could not find time to bake. Rough, I know.

But then yesterday rolled around. My dysfunctional morning turned into a dysfunctional day and by 6pm I was anxious and stressed and exhausted and just…blah. After a rough day at work there is nothing I want more than to rush home, slip into my Wicked Goods, and bake. This is most likely an attempt to prove that I can indeed produce something of worth, despite a series of events that tried to prove otherwise. And so, I hopped off the bus, hurried up the three flights to my apartment, changed into pjs and slippers, and made myself comfortable in the kitchen. I opened a bottle of red wine, took a big sip, let out a big sigh, and began to measure out my sugar. I had a stroke of genius halfway through cracking the eggs and popped Look Who’s Talking into my laptop so I could occasionally gaze at John Travolta for another reminder that life is actually worth living. While the mini muffins and mini loaves (because everything is better when its miniature…ponies are another great example, see fall-themed Saucy post below) were cooling, I popped a goat cheese, caramelized onion, and asparagus (gently placed on the surface in a star-ish shape) quiche in the oven that would be ready just in time for…drum roll….CHRISTINA’S ARRIVAL. Could my night get any better? Yes! It did!! A roomie reunion at Gin Mill commenced at 9pm. Needless to say, I have learned a valuable lesson: all I need to lift my spirits is pumpkin bread, red wine, John Travolta, quiche, Christina, Cuddlegan, and a few Jack and ginger ales…nbd, right?

Now it’s Friday night and I am celebrating the end of the week by fluffing my pillows, getting under covers, playing Cuddlegan’s “Power Women” playlist and beginning my two new books with a slice of pumpkin bread and a cup of mint tea in hand. Finally, some time to breathe. 🙂

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Twilight Again

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This past weekend, Saucy was lucky enough to make another trip up to the Catskills to celebrate Christina’s birthday and have an end-of-the-summer roomie snuggle fest. It was another great weekend spent sitting by the fire wrapped in blankets, exploring nearby towns, and cooking (duh!) Without much else to occupy ourselves with (which was a good thing!) we decided to take a risk and attempt homemade gnocchi. To loosen up and gain some confidence, we opened up a double bottle of wine and settled our rumbling tummies with fresh bread, brie, and apple slices.

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As the potatoes boiled, we conquered the beginning steps of an epic chocolate birthday cake and prepared some veggies for the usual roasting. After about thirty minutes, we drained the potatoes and peeled the skin off. We quickly pushed them through a potato ricer and formed them into a riced-potato volcano, with a nice little crater for the incoming egg yolks. We incorporated egg yolks and flour into the potatoes and then began rolling out gnocchi ropes and slicing away! Our first tester gnocchi came out a little too watery potato-y. Slightly discouraged, but with eyes on the prize, we incorporated more flour into the mixture and set up an assembly line to cook the little guys: Jona dropped them into boiling water, Kim scooped them out as the bobbed to the surface and placed them in a sauce pan, I sauteed them for about a minute, and Linnae uncovered and covered the serving bowl so we could retain the heat! Christina….watched?

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Gnocchi

8-10 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes
3 egg yolks
3/4-1 cup of flour

Seems simple, right? HA! Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil then decrease heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and skin is beginning to free itself. Drain water from the pot and let potatoes cool, until they are just cool enough to handle. Peel away the skin (this should be fairly easy) and put the potatoes through a potato ricer. Form a potato volcano and put the three egg yolks in the crater, along with some flour. Integrate the eggs and flour into the potatoes until it forms a consistent, sticky dough. Separate the dough into eights and roll into ropes, each about 15 inches long. Use a knife to cut the rope into one inch segments — these are your gnocchi! If you want to be fancy, use a fork to make ridges on them. If you’re hungry, skip that. Place gnocchi into a pot of boiling water about 10-15 at a time. Once they bob to the surface, scoop out and transfer to a frying pan with a bit of hot oil and butter and saute until cooked through a bit more, about 1-2 minutes. Toss with (homemade<–duh) sauce and top with fresh basil.

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We sat down to dinner feeling accomplished and ate til our tummies were full and another double bottle was empty. Though our cake had managed to be baked throughout the gnocchi process, we needed some downtime before tackling frosting and eating dessert. So to the fireplace we went!

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After some digesting, we all had chocolate on our minds. We all piled back into the kitchen to melt chocolate and whip up some frosting. Linnae and Kim took charge of the decorating and we sang happy birthday and happily ate our cake by the fire. Within a few moments of finishing up the cake, Saucy was passed out — Amanda 6 inches from the fire, and Christina nearby, wrapped in a blanket like a burrito. Tired from three straight hours of cooking related activity, we called it a night, sang our own interpretation of Miley’s “The Climb” and headed to dreamland.

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Chocolate Cake

Recipe coming!!

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Barefoot Contessas

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Saucy had spent Saturday morning lounging around before convincing each other that an outing was in order. So we hopped on a downtown C train, Columbus Circle bound. Our plan? J.Crew to try on some outerwear, William & Sonoma to fantasize about our future kitchen (singular), and Whole Foods to grab something for dinner. J.Crew was pretty uneventful; we pined over the “downtown field jacket” for a bit in our shared dressing room then lazily headed down to W&S. Christina picked up the Barefoot Contessa on display and began to flip through while Amanda wandered off to the baking section. Of course Ina came through: within a few minutes, Christina came across two recipes that screamed “Saucy!” and we suddenly had plans for an Ina Garten dinner and dessert.

For dinner we made Goat Cheese and Tomato Tarts. The flaky puff pastry topped with slowly sauteed onions, shredded parmesean, crumbled goat cheese, a slice of tomato, and a sprinkle of fresh basil was simple enough but so delicious. The dish was so Saucy (how could a goat cheese and tomato combo not be Saucy?) and was basically perfection after being paired with a glass (or two…) or dry white wine.

Ina Garten’s Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

1 package frozen puff pastry, defrosted
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, sliced into thin slivers
3 tablespoons dry white wine (plus more for drinking…)
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
6 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
4 ounces goat cheese
2 medium tomatoes, cut into slices
3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil

Unfold the puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Using a circular shaped object (we used a bowl and a wine glass), cut the pastry into circles and place the discs onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 425F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onions and sautee for 15 to 20 minutes, until almost no moisture remains in the pan. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine and the thyme and continue to cook for 10 minutes, until the onions have browned slightly.

Using a sharp knife, score a 1/4-inch wide border around each pastry circle. Prick inside each circle with a fork. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese inside the circle and top with the onions and garlic. Crumble goat cheese on top and then place a slice of tomato in the center. Top with more parmesan and a sprinkle of fresh basil. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is slightly brown.

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Despite hitting the spot, after any savory dish Saucy usually craves something sweet. And Ina delivered yet again with her Brownie Pudding. With just six ingredients, dessert was easy to throw together (especially when aided by a KitchenAid) and since its baking time was an hour our tummies had enough time to digest our tarts and make sufficient room for dessert. The end result was every batter-lover’s dream: a crisp top layer covering ooey gooey battery brownie goodness underneath. We refrigerated what we didn’t eat and in the morning found ourselves sneaking bits of what was now equally delicious creamy custardy fudge brownie goodness. Thank you Ina!!

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Ina Garten’s Brownie Pudding

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend eggs and sugar for 5-10 minutes until very thick and light yellow. Reduce mixer speed to low and add vanilla extract, flour, and cocoa powder. Pour in cooled butter and mix until just combined. We also added some mini chocolate chips.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked.

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Chip(w)iches

Cookies are yummy. Ice cream is yummy. Chipwiches are ALSO yummy! Saucy and Emily cooked up a double batch of Amanda’s classic oatmeal chocolate chippies today–half of which Christina took to a work party, and half of which we kept for chipwiching or straight up cookie consumption.

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The perfect dessert to follow a dinner of leftover risotto!

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By some strange stroke of luck, Cuddlegan was able to coordinate schedules (for the most part) and head up to Kim’s house in the Catskills for the weekend. Christina, Amanda and Nina piled into Kim’s car for the drive upstate on Friday evening. Linnae joined us on Saturday morning and Nina headed back home on Saturday afternoon. Of course we missed our Emily, but had a great weekend nonetheless. We have compiled a top-8 list of weekend happenings for you to enjoy.

1. Smores: our go-to dessert on both nights. Amanda like her marshmallow to be completely lit on fire, held close to the chocolate to melt it slightly, blown out and then smooshed on top and eaten open faced. Christina prefers her marshmallows lightly toasted until brown then placed ontop of chocolate squares, sometimes skipping the graham cracker altogether.

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2. Our morning hike. The epic hike Kim had planned was downgraded to a walk to the reservoirs due to muddy conditions on the trail. We saw tadpoles, risked our lives, put our toes in freezing water, and played with some pups. We returned home with rumbling tummies and made ourselves yogurt parfaits with blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and bananas.

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3. Woodstock. We piled into the car and drove into Woodstock to explore for a bit. We picked up some fresh bread for dinner, shared some homemade chocolate ice cream, and bought a quarter pound of homemade Twizzlers. Yum!

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4. Pink champagne toast. Linnae brought along a bottle of pink champagne with which to have a traditional Cuddlegan champagne toast before dinner. The champagne was finished by the time we sat down to dinner so we popped open a bottle of another favorite, a magnum bottle Yellowtail’s Shiraz-Cabernet. And of course we had Woodchuck Amber cider with dessert.

5. Saturday night dinner! We sliced some bread and poured some olive oil to up our energy while we cooked. We chopped some veggies, made a simple tomato sauce (tomato puree, whole peeled tomatoes, red wine, shallots, garlic, and spices), and put together a salad (romaine, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and Naisy’s dressing). Soon enough we were sprinkling chopped fresh basil and fresh mozzarrella on top of our pasta, loading our plates with roasted vegetables and salad, and sitting down to eat.

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6. Stargazing on the basketball court. After dinner and dessert we drove down to the golf course to look at the stars, bottles of wine in hand. Kim had a semi-panic attack about a campout that a seven year old had told her about and so we decided to spread our blankets on the basketball court instead. The stars were great, the snuggling was better.
7. We woke up early on Sunday morning and headed to Maggie’s Krooked Cafe in Tannersville for breakfast. We each polished off a half order of atmeal pancakes loaded with seeds and grains and stole bites of Linnae’s banana (aka blueberry ::ahem::) pancakes and Kim’s top secret omlette. We left with satisfied tummies.
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8. Move over Columbia tennis team, Saucy is hitting the courts. We suited up in (borrowed) tennis whites and headed over to the tennis courts. Christina showed off her serves while Amanda dodged the incoming balls, and even hit a few. Final score? Love-Love 🙂

A special thank you to Kimmy for opening up her home and sharing it with us. xo, Saucy

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There are certain foods that just taste better at home: monkey bread, chocolate chip cookies, and, of course, Gram’s pancakes.

A few weeks ago my mom threw a little graduation brunch for yours truly. I made banana crunch muffins and sour cream coffee cake. Mom made baked eggs florentine, baked french toast, and monkey bread (duh!) Everything was delicious and quickly eaten up.

banana crunchies

banana crunchies

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Ina Garten’s Banana Crunch Muffins

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs

¾ cup whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)

1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)

1 cup small-diced walnuts

1 cup granola

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into bowl and whisk. Add melted butter and blend. Combing the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas and add them to the flour mixture. Do not overmix. Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin tin and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

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monkey bread

monkey bread

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I was just in New Jersey staying with my little brother for a few days and there was a strange lack of cookies in the house. (For those of you who know my stepmother, you also know that there are usually sixteen different types of cookies to choose from at any given time.) Obviously this was an issue, but Veraldi’s have pretty good problem solving skills so we were whipping up our own batch in no time. I used Baking Illustrated’s recipe for thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies and we threw in some peanut butter chips too. Please note the new jagged edge cookie technique outlined below. Loves it. Cookies were dunked into glasses of milk soon after being removed from the oven and our cookie cravings were satisfied.

please note the jagged edge technique

please note the jagged edge technique

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm

1 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup sugar

1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together and set aside. Cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and blend until combined. Slowly add flour mixture and blend until just combined. Stir in the chips.

Roll a scant ¼ cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with the jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough’s uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 ½ inches apart.

Bake until edges have begun to harden but center is still soft and puffy, about 15-18 minutes.

ready for dunking

ready for dunking

The next morning Robbie and I drove over to my Gram’s house for pancakes. Cooked to order (I like mine batter-y in the middle, don’t ask.) and with optional blueberries, they were better than any pancakes elsewhere. Leftovers were, of course, thrown to the squirrels.

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lucky squirrels!

lucky squirrels!

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Today marks the 25th anniversary of my sister’s entrance into the world. Wow! Though she is having a mini fête to celebrate tonight, I am currently en route to Philadelphia to attend some celebrations of my own and to spend some QT with mommy. But my favorite sister’s birthday is still my favorite sister’s birthday so I invited her over last night for dinner. I wanted to use up the left over squash, zucchini, and tomatoes from Saucy creations earlier this week and so I sauteed those three with shallots and garlic then tossed with orecchiette. The result was yummy but simple, perhaps a bit too plain for those who aren’t straight-up-veggie lovers like I am. Next time I’ll try to make it a little more…saucy! For dessert I made a raspberry buttermilk cake that I had seen on Smitten Kitchen. The pasta might have been plain but the cake was perfect and really hit the spot. Dinner and dessert were followed by coffee, some people watching, and a birthday kiss on the cheek before Dana hopped on a subway back downtown. Happy birthday sister! I love you!!

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Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries (about 5 oz)

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy then blend in vanilla, lemon zest, and egg. Alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture and mix until combined. Pour into a greased and floured cake pan. Place raspberries evenly on top then sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool and enjoy!

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