Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookie Pots

there are few things better than warm chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven, still warm, with a tall, cold glass of milk.

perhaps it's because cookies and milk are quintessential childhood that they seem like the ultimate comfort food to us as adults. these chocolate chip toffee cookie pots are just that - a grown up version of a childhood classic. the warm, gooey, pots of cookie dough get a generous scoop of ice cream instead of milk, but the affect is the same. the cold, creamy ice cream is just the thing the rich, gooey, chocolate and toffee filled cookies need to put it over the top.

i love toffee and butterscotch chips but you could add anything you like here peanut butter chips, milk chocolate, white chocolate chips, etc.

these are also good leftover. just cover and refrigerate the pots and then pop back in the oven to warm for a couple of minutes. be sure to have vanilla ice cream on had because these are best a la mode!

Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookie Pots 
adapted from very culinary
makes 8-9 mini (4oz) pots

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
12 tbs butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tbs vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup toffee bits
1/4 cup butterscotch chips

preheat oven to 350 degree F.

butter ramekins with butter wrapper and set aside. in the bowl of en electric mixer, cream together butter and sugars until creamy. add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. add dry ingredients to electric mixer slowly until well combined. add chocolate chips, toffee bits, and butterscotch chips.

scoop cookie dough into ramekins filling them 2/3 full. press down lightly to even out dough. bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden brown. let cool for 5-10 minutes and serve warm with ice cream and extra toffee bits, if desired.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Horsein' Around

this ridiculously adorable colt was born to our neighbors horse a couple of days ago. E and i were lucky enough to see him 1/2 hour old.

but he looks even cuter, up, and about on those long skinny legs of his.

he's sticking close to his mama and i'm sticking close to my camera.

i can't stop taking pictures of him.


happy 8th anniversary to my favorite person on the planet!

feels like yesterday and forever at the same time.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

as we mark the unofficial official start to summer, may we take time to remember . . .

to those who have given their lives for the freedom we enjoy today, we can never thank you enough. may their sacrifice never be taken for granted or forgotten.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Weekly Nightcap - Raspberry Margarita

i have a bit of an obsession with margaritas. i have yet to meet one that i haven't liked. yet i can't seem to settle on a favorite. perhaps that is why i am constantly trying new flavors.

our friend, J, happens to make some of the best margaritas out there. in fact, just a couple of weeks ago, he made a mean mango margarita for me and E. so, when he came over for dinner last weekend, i wanted to come up with a different concoction.

enter raspberry puree. i have had a bottle of it in my freezer for quite a while now. i know, i know, you can make it. but straining the seeds out is such a pain (and keeping the seeds in is an even bigger pain). anyway, i got it on amazon and have been looking for ways to use it ever since.

the sweet raspberry is juxtaposed with lime juice and tequila. of course the margarita staple triple sec also makes and appearance in this surprisingly refreshing cocktail.


Raspberry Margaritas
makes 2 drinks

1/3 cup raspberry puree
juice of 1 lime
2 ounces triple sec
4 ounces tequila
fresh raspberries, optional

add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake well. strain into two margarita glasses and garnish with fresh raspberries if desired.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Breakfast Bacon and Egg Stack

greek yogurt with fresh fruit is my usual weekday breakfast. it's quick and easy, packed with protein and keeps me full for a surprisingly long time. i can change it up as fruit in season changes (fresh, juicy peaches in july and august are my favorite) but i can almost always get raspberries and blueberries.

i love that breakfast and rarely tire of it. however, saturday mornings i want something a little different. something that tastes like the weekend. while i love pancakes, i am also a bacon girl through and through. (plus, sometimes pancakes make me feel sleepy and threaten to send me right back to bed for a nap rather than a productive saturday morning. i also find myself hungry an hour after pancakes.)

this breakfast stack is the prefect weekend breakfast because it's filling, contains bacon, is full of protein, tastes decadent, contains bacon, yet it surprisingly easy to make. did i mention it contains bacon? i recently discovered wegmans seven grain sourdough bread and can't get enough of it. it still has that distinct sourdough taste yet is made with whole wheat flour and other crunchy grains.

when i wake up, i preheat the oven and lay out the bacon. by the time i have fed the dogs, the oven is ready and i pop the baking sheet in. 20 minutes later (just enough time for a cup of coffee and some today show) and the bacon is ready.

by the time the toast is finished toasting, i have fried two eggs (one for E, one for me) and breakfast is ready to assemble. i recently found this spreadable cheddar from cabot and picked some up not really knowing what i would do with it. turns out, it is perfect to spread on warm, toasty bread. top the cheesy bread with the bacon and the egg and your breakfast stack is ready to enjoy!

of course you could make this anyway you like it. you could use spinach or tomatoes instead of bacon (or prosciutto too), any kind of cheese you like and your egg anyway you like it. i have used fried, poached, and scrambled eggs all with success.

i suggest you make this breakfast stack for your family this weekend. they will happily come to the table - they may even offer to help with the dishes after this meal:)

Breakfast Bacon and Egg Stack
serves 2

4 slices bacon
2 slices bread
2 tbs spreadable cheddar cheese
2 eggs
salt and pepper

preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

line baking sheet with foil and line bacon up making sure they are not touching. bake for 15-25 minutes depending on how you like your bacon cooked (mine has to be crispy). 

toast bread and spread each with 1 tbs cheese. cook egg as desired. lay 2 slices of bacon on toast spread with cheese and lay cooked egg on top of bacon. sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Best BBQ Sauce

i am a dark meat kind of girl. you know when you go around the table on thanksgiving and the turkey carver asks "light or dark meat?" i am firmly in the latter group. it just has so much flavor.

it's not to say i don't like breast meat, i just find it dries out very quickly. with that said, there is nothing quite like a perfectly cooked, super juicy chicken breast. what makes that even better? when its smothered with barbeque sauce.

i have been using the barefoot contessa's bbq sauce for years. every spring i make a big batch, and store it in a mason jar in the fridge so i have it on hand. it's good on everything from chicken (breasts and thighs) to pork to shrimp.

this recipe never disappoints. i have only very minorly tweaked the recipe. i will say if you like your bbq sauce on the sweeter side, add more brown sugar. if you like it more vinegar-y, add more vinegar, and if you like it spicier, add hot sauce.

make a big batch of the sauce, fire up the grill and let summer commence!

BBQ Sauce
adapted from Ina Garten on 
makes 1 1/2 quarts

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz tomato paste
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup soy sauce
7.5 oz hoisin sauce
2 tbs chili powder
1 tbs chipolte chili powder
1 tbs ground cumin
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

in a large sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. add onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. add garlic and continue to saute until tender - 5-6 more minutes. add remaining ingredients and let simmer for 1 hour. let cool completely and store in an airtight container. stays good for several months in fridge.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thought for Sunday

go ahead, enjoy that piece of chocolate

. . . or that piece of chocolate cake:)

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Weekly Nightcap - Pineapple Orange Crush

today was a glorious spring day. the kind of day you can't help but love being alive. the kind of day that has everyone saying "if only it could stay like this all summer."

here on the east coast it was high 70's, clear, sunny, no humidity, and a light breeze. one of those "perfect" days. to celebrate this fabulous friday, i was looking for something cool and summery to drink tonight. turns out, i found it!

this pineapple orange slush is super refreshing and easy to make. of course, you could use any kind of orange liqueur in this but i chose patron citronge so it had just the slightest hint of a margarita feel to me. be sure to use fresh pineapple if possible as it will taste the best.


Pineapple Orange Crush
makes 2 drinks

4 oz orange liqueur
1 cup pineapple
1/4 cup pineapple juice (i used the juice collected from the pineapple)
1 cup ice

whirl up all ingredients in the blender until smooth. pour into two glasses and garnish with pineapple, if desired. enjoy!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday Latelies - Photos

i don't have a video for you all today but there are some things i have been enjoying this week and i wanted to share them with you. so here is my photo version of thursday latelies this week.

my peonies are starting to bloom and i can't get enough of them. i am lucky enough to have white ones, light pink one, and dark pink too. every morning i cut some more.

i have been spending some extra time loving my doggies this week. i can't get enough of them and they need the extra attention after spending almost three weeks sharing E and i with my parents dogs.

i hardly ever have bread but i couldn't resist this seven grain sourdough at wegmans today. it was fresh out of the oven and i enjoyed a piece tonight with some sweet butter. perfectly crispy and chewy, just the way i like it.

finally, the weather has been so nice we have enjoyed just having the windows open. today was amazingly gorgeous - in the 70's and no humidity. there is nothing like a fresh breeze blowing through the house! (extra bonus, i can see these white peonies while i wash the dishes.)

happy thursday everyone!

Spicy Cole Slaw

i like a little spice in my life. they say variety is the spice of life but sometimes spice is the variety of life.

last night i was craving fish tacos. you know, the usual. wait. what? you don't crave fish tacos? oh, my bad. well i crave lots of things - chocolate, prosecco, cheese, pop tarts, cupcakes, ice cream, and apparently, fish tacos.

i always apologize to my husband because when and if i ever get pregnant (no, i'm not currently) i will be the worst with cravings. i already have weird crazy ones. i'm afraid if i throw hormones in the mix, i'll be insane. so, again, sorry ahead of time E.

ok, back to fish tacos. i like mine with fried fish. who doesn't, right? but i don't do the deep fried thing at home so second runner up is blackened fish tacos with vinaigrette cole slaw and guacamole. for some reason last night i wanted some spice so i added some sriracha hot sauce to my cole slaw and a little mayo to cool it off.

so what started out as a whim turned out to be life changing. ok, maybe not life-changing (it's just cole slaw after all) but it was so good that i don't think i can ever make slaw without it. the recipe is super easy but so good.

you can certainly increase or decrease the amount of hot sauce to your liking. a dash if you like it mild or more if you like it hot. i'm a medium kind of girl so the recipe as is will give a kick but won't leave your mouth on fire.


Spicy Cole Slaw
serves 2

juice of 1 lime
1 tbs olive oil mayonnaise
1/2 tsp sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce)
1/8 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 cups chopped cabbage (or cole slaw mix)

in a medium bowl, whisk together first 5 ingredients. throw in cole slaw mix and stir well to combine. let sit in fridge for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients for dinner so flavor can get to know each other.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Appetite Adventure - Bluegrass Tavern, South Baltimore

if you are just joining me for my appetite adventure and aren't really sure what it is, find out about it here. you can see the full list of reviews so far here or by clicking the appetite adventure tab at the top of this page - right next to "home" and "about PW".

p.s. oops, i forgot my "real" camera this night. please excuse the less than quality iphone pics.

some places make writing a stellar review easy. Bluegrass Tavern is one of those places. from walking in the door, to the last bite, our experience was pure pleasure.

this place feels like baltimore to me. housed in a two-story brick townhouse on the corner of south hanover street and west fort avenue, the place is oozing with charm and character. we immediately head to the bar to get drinks before the happy hour specials are over and are greeted by bartender Kelly.

Bluegrass Tavern is known for their extensive selection of bourbons so i choose a cocktail featuring one - the bluegrass manhattan. this drink features makers mark, blood orange bitters, and green mountain maple liqueur. the maple flavor leaves a sweet, smooth finish to this tasty concoction. E has a bit of trouble deciding what he wants and Kelly helps him narrow down his choices based on what he usually likes to drink. she suggested a blended scotch not on the menu and E is not disappointed. he enjoyed the light, smooth taste of Great King.

 it's also worth noting they have quite the selection of beer as well (artfully displayed on their chalkboard by the bar).

we made our way upstairs when our reservation time arrived and quickly settled on the butcher and the cheesemaker daily selection of house made cheeses. we let the chef choose three for us and were not disappointed. the cheeses were divine (i only wish i remembered the types) and the crustini was the perfect vehicle for the creamy cheeses. my only qualm was the balsamic was indistinguishable in the strawberry balsamic reduction smear on the side of the board.

the menu changes seasonally based on what is fresh and in-season (i love that) but E and i managed to order two things that are mainstays on the menu. i got the fried chicken with potato salad and deviled egg puree. it. was. excellent! i can't tell you the last time i had fried chicken but i loved every bite. they used boneless, skinless chicken thighs which i loved. i don't want white meat with fried chicken and it felt a smidge healthier without the skin yet it still maintained a ton of fried crunch. perhaps me favorite part of the dish was the deviled egg puree. it literally tasted like pureed deviled eggs (one of my favorite dishes). the tangy bite of vinegar was evident and the creaminess paired well with the crunchy fried chicken. (i am even pleased to report that it reheats well. i could only manage one thigh but heated the second one in the toaster oven and it remained crispy!)

i also (unwisely) ordered a side of fries. i only say unwisely because fries came with E's order and we ended up having way too many fries. the malt vinegar aioli was excellent. the fries were good but could have been crispier in my opinion.

E ordered the daily grind burger which was an 8 ounce ground creekstone beef burger with grilled onions, roth kase rufomo cheese, special sauce, housemade ketchup and fries. the burger was melt-in-your-mouth tender and the onions and cheese made it even more mouth-wateringly juicy. i can't wait to go back so i can order the burger and have it all to myself!

E also ordered the spicy mac and cheese. the waiter told us it only had a hint of spice but we both found them to be quite spicy. i love it (even more so warmed up the next day - i think things get spicy the longer they sit) but E found it borderline too spicy. the flavor was good and the texture was creamy and cheesy.

finally, i am sad to report we did not have enough room for dessert. i took a picture of the dessert menu though because i wanted to try everything on it. we will definitely be returning to sample more of the delicious drinks, food, and will be sure to save room for the lemon coconut cake, or the bluegrass s'more, or the strawberry rhubarb sunday, or the  . . .

all-in-all Bluegrass Tavern is an excellent taste of baltimore. if you are looking for a true baltimore gem with a focus on traditional american favorites with a new twist, make the trip to Bluegrass Tavern. Just make sure you arrive with an appetite and a thirst for something new.

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