Want a Little Fat?

I was kinda stumped as to what to bake this week.  But an epiphany hit me over the head with a 10-inch iron skillet.  (Not really, just being dramatic.)

In truth as Paul and I were waiting for our Saturday morning breakfast burrito, I thought of cornbread.  The cool thing about cornbread is that you can make it sweet or savory.  I was feeling savory and nailed it with this recipe.  How can you go wrong with cheddar cheese, bacon, and scallions.  That’s kinda a southern triple-threat.

So I broke out my aforementioned 10-inch iron skillet and gave it a whirl.  Paul cooked up a ridiculous amount of bacon (for no other reason than we like bacon), and in doing so created a wonderful, sizzling mess of bacon grease.  The lovely drops of heavenly fat coated the skillet beautifully and gave it a sinfully delicious and very crispy edge.

The only setback was the fact that the flavors of the cheddar, bacon bits, and scallions were overpowered a bit by the cornbread flavor.  It’s a great recipe but I was just hoping for those ingredients would shine more.

Regardless, if you want a southern, kick-arse cornbread this one is for you!

Cheddar, Bacon, and Scallions Cornbread (recipe care of seriouseats.com)

Bacon, Cheddar, Scallion Cornbread.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  6 slice bacon (cut into 1/2-inch pieces), 1 cup yellow cornmeal, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 2 large eggs, 3 tablespoons melted butter (cooled slightly), 6 ounces cheddar cheese (shredded), 1/2 cup finely sliced scallions

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 425°F. Cook bacon in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until fat renders and bacon crisps, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Pour bacon fat out into a small bowl. Return 2 tablespoons to pan and place pan in oven. Reserve an additional 2 tablespoons fat and discard the rest or save for another use. In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, buttermilk, eggs, 3 tablespoons melted butter, and 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat. Pour wet ingredients into bowl with dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Stir in bacon, cheese, and scallions. Using pot holders, carefully remove hot pan from oven. Pour in cornbread batter and place in oven. Bake until skewer inserted into middle of cornbread comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let bread cool in pan for 5 minutes, then carefully turn out to wire rack and let cool an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Reheat any leftover cornbread before serving again.

Death By Chocolate

Well if you’re gonna die, chocolate’s not a bad way to go.

This is incredibly decadent.  Simple as that.  The bread itself has a nice chocolatey flavor, but isn’t overwhelming.  What puts it over the edge are the caramel sauce and butterscotch chips and chocolate chips layered on top.  Shocking huh?

Truthfully, this is even a bit too much for me.  Y’all know I have a love affair with chocolate, but this just went too far.  I did like the chocolate bread, it was lovely.  I might even drizzle caramel sauce across the top, just for fun.  But as a whole, I’ll skip this one.

Now if you are a lover of all that is sweet in the world, you’d love this!  Give it a go.

Two notes:

I don’t like baking with store made products like the caramel sauce mentioned in the recipe.  Call me a snob, it just doesn’t taste as good.  So I made my own. The sauce is delicious!  Paul was VERY happy test-tasting it this morning.  I gave the recipe below.

I had a hard time getting the center of the bread to bake without burning the outside.  Unfortunately the outside is a bit crunchy, not burnt but definitely baked too long.  Maybe you’ll have better luck.

Triple Chocolate Butterscotch Caramel Quick Bread (recipe care of shugarysweets.com)


INGREDIENTS:  3/4 cup butter (softened), 1 1/3 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 Tbsp vanilla extract, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup boiling water, 1 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 cup milk chocolate morsels, 1/2 cup caramel ice cream sauce, 1/4 cup butterscotch morsels, 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate morsels

DIRECTIONS:  In mixing bowl beat butter and sugar until creamy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla, sour cream and water. Slowly add flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Mix completely. Fold in milk chocolate morsels. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper. Use baking spray to grease completely. Pour batter into pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 60-65 minutes. Allow to cool in loaf pan about 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack and cool COMPLETELY. When cool, spoon caramel sauce on top of loaf. Press chocolate chips and butterscotch chips into the caramel, it helps keep it from dripping down the sides. Refrigerate bread. Slice when ready to serve! Enjoy.

Caramel Sauce (recipe care of fifteenspatulas.com)

INGREDIENTS:  1 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup water, 2 tbsp butter, 3/4 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract optional

DIRECTIONS:  Add the sugar to a heavy bottomed saucepan, then shake it so it lies in an even, flat layer.  Add the water to fully moisten the sugar. Place the pot over medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and turns clear, a few minutes. Raise the heat to medium high, and cook the caramel until it turns amber colored*, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and immediately add the heavy cream. Add the butter and stir everything together until the caramel smooths out. If desired, add vanilla extract. Let the caramel sauce cool to room temperature, then transfer to a jar and refrigerate. The caramel can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 month, or in the freezer for 3 months.


If you want to add salt to the caramel, stir in 1/2 tsp at the end along with the vanilla extract.

Yields about 1 cup caramel sauce.

*If you have a thermometer, the temperature target window is between 338 and 350F. Above 350 and you’ll start to smell (and later taste) a burned, bitter quality. Below 338, and you won’t have proper color and caramelization.

The Buttermilk Biscuit

After the holidays and the plethora of sweets and desserts that come with that special time of year, I had to find a recipe that wouldn’t add to my blood-sugar level.  I seriously indulged in cookies, candies, and cakes, oh my!  Well, if I’m going to be honest (which I really should be), I indulged in ALL that was sweet and savory.

But this morning was all about the buttermilk biscuit.  I swear I must have southern roots somewhere in my lineage because I can’t get enough buttermilk biscuits.

These are light, savory parmesan pillows.  Even though they’re a drop biscuit which makes them just about the easiest thing to bake, their flavors are subtle and build as you enjoy.

They would be perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, a side for dinner ~ especially soup which is my plan for later in the week.

Give these a try.  You will not be disappointed.

Black Pepper, Parmesan & Rosemary Buttermilk Biscuits (recipe care of stellacheese.com)

Black Pepper, Parmesan & Rosemary Buttermilk Bicuits.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary (finely chopped), 1-1/2 sticks nbsp (6 oz.) unsalted butter (cold and cut into small pieces), 1 c. (divided) loosely measured grated Parmigiano Reggiano® or Italian-style cheese about 2 oz. total (Note, do not use the shakable, canned parmesan cheese. It is too salty and will not produce a tender biscuit.), 1-1/2 cups cold buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 400° F, adjusting racks to center and lower third of oven. Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper or lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Attach blade to food processor and then to bowl. Add flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and rosemary; pulse to combine. Add butter pieces and 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano® or Italian-style cheese to bowl over flour mixture. Lock lid in place and pulse until butter is completely cut into flour mixture (about 25 to 30 pulses). Mixture will look like lumpy sand. While pulsing, drizzle in buttermilk. Continue to pulse until dough just comes together (about 55 pulses). Mixture will be lumpy at first and then come together. Do not over mix. The dough will be a bit sticky. Use spoon to drop biscuits onto prepared baking sheets, about size of small golf ball. If you are making larger biscuits, adjust cooking time accordingly. Leave about 1 inch between each biscuit. Place into preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove biscuits from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano® cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Merry Christmas!

The fire is crackling, the lights on the tree are twinkling, Bing Crosby is singing O’ Come All Ye Faithful and our kitchen has about 12,000 dirty pots and pans and plates and spatulas and knives and spoons strewn across it.  A perfectly unperfect picture but that’s how we roll!

A few months back Paul found a fun grilled cheese cookbook in a cute little store on Santa Clause Lane, and while flipping through it we found this delectable treat.  Rather than buying the cookbook, I took pictures of the recipes (yes, it’s wrong and I am that bad).  Anyway, in a rush not to get caught I only took a picture of the first page of the recipe not noticing the “CONT’D” note at the bottom.  Oops.

Gotta be honest, this was a fun experiment but not worth all the dishes.  The flavors were amazing, especially with the brown sugar-bourbon sauce.  But in truth, I think you could just make regular french toast and melt thinly sliced brie cheese on top while it’s cooking.

Regardless, go forth and bake.  Have a very merry Christmas!

Sunday Brunch Grilled Cheese (partial recipe care of Grilled Cheese Kitchen)

Grilled Cheese French Toast.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  One 1 lb brioche or challah loaf (cut into 8 thick slices), 3/4 cup whole milk, 1 egg (lightly beaten), 4 Tbsp salted butter (2 Tbsp melted, 2 Tbsp at room temperature), 2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp granulated sugar, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 tsp kosher salt, 4 oz brie or triple cream cheese (thinly sliced), 8 ripe strawberries (hulled and thinly sliced), confectioners’ sugar for dusting, Brown Sugar Bourbon Sauce (recipe to follow)

DIRECTIONS:  Arrange the bread slices on a large baking sheet and let dry while preparing the other ingredients.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla.  Add the granulated sugar, flour, and salt and whisk to combine.  Scrape the batter into a shallow pan, such  as a pie dish or cake pan.  Set aside.  Heat a stove-top griddle pan or a large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat, or heat an electric griddle to 350 degrees.  When the griddle is hot, nestle two slices of the bread in the batter and let soak for 5 seconds, then carefully flip and soak on the second side for another 5 seconds.  Transfer the soaked breads to a clean plate.  Melt 1/2 Tbsp of the room-temperature butter on the hot griddle and add both pieces of the soaked bread.  Cook until the first sides are nicely browned and completely dry to the touch, about 3 minutes.  Using a wide spatula, carefully turn the breads.

Lost the rest of the recipe.  Oops.

Brown Sugar-Bourbon Sauce (recipe care of Grilled Cheese Kitchen)

INGREDIENTS:  1 cup packed dark brown sugar, 1/2 cup salted butter (at room temperature), 1/2 cup heavy cream, 2 Tbsp bourbon, 2 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:  In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the brown sugar and butter together, whisking constantly until smooth.  Turn the heat to low and carefully add the cream, bourbon, and vanilla (the mixture may boil up at this point, so add the liquids slowly and keep whisking constantly).  Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally, or until slightly thickened.  Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool for 5 to 10 minutes before using.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.  Reheat in microwave when your ready to serve.


Add the Fat

So y’all know I wouldn’t lie to you.  My confidence after last week’s fiasco was shaken.  My thoughts… although I totally failed on the last one, I’m gonna try a recipe from the same site?  Am I nuts?  No!  I’m brave.  I can do this!

Before I get into the process, may I say this was a total success.  This is crazy good.  Crazy fattening with 1 1/2 cups butter and 2 3/4 cups brown sugar, but all necessary.  I gained weight just reading the recipe.

I’m a firm believer that the lovely, buttery fat makes every heavenly bite worth it.  As I’ve written in the past:  give me the whip cream, layer on the chocolate, incorporate the whole fat buttermilk.  When it’s appropriate, add the fat.  You won’t regret it.

This recipe does not shy away from fat or calories. But I kinda love and respect that.  I did, however, make a change.  I scrapped the “glaze” part because it did NOT work for me.  So instead, I warmed milk (but would’ve preferred cream) in a sauce pan, added the brown sugar I had left after this sugar demanding recipe, and a touch of vanilla.  I let the milk almost simmer as the sugar dissolved.  I then spooned/drizzled that liquid (not glaze) over the cake when it had cooled.  It actually created a yummy syrup that moistened the cake.  Turned out great!

Go for it!

Coffeecake with Crumble Topping and Brown Sugar Glaze  (recipe care of damndelicious.net)

Brown Sugar Coffee Cake.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (at room temperature), 1 1/4 cups brown sugar (packed), 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup Greek yogurt

Crumb Topping:  1 cup brown sugar (packed), 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (melted), 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Brown Sugar Glaze:  1/2 cup brown sugar (packed), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.  To make the crumb topping, combine sugars, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter. Add flour and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Spread out mixture on parchment paper to dry until ready to use.  In a large bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Beat in vanilla until well combined.  With the mixer on low speed, add Greek yogurt and dry ingredients alternately in 3 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.  Scoop the batter evenly into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with reserved topping, using your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter.  Place into oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  To make the glaze, combine brown sugar, vanilla and 2 tablespoons water. Whisk until smooth.  When the cake is done, cool for 10 minutes and drizzle the glaze evenly over the top.  Serve warm.



Yeah, that was a hit and a miss.  Fail. Baking disaster. No way was that even remotely close to what it shoulda been.  Oops.

Now I don’t mean to be arrogant but I kinda feel like muffins are a no brainer.  The batter is usually pretty basic to put together, you pop them in the oven, you pull them out when the toothpick comes out clean, you let them cool.  Botta bing, botta boom.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  Yes, I just said that.

But these muffins just threw me for a loop.  They stomped on my arrogance and humbled me, big time.  I showed Paul the picture of what they were supposed to look like and his comment was, “Those don’t even look close.”  His straightforward honesty made me laugh.

Somewhere along the way, I seriously messed these up.  I’d love to say it was a terrible recipe, but usually Damn Delicious doesn’t steer me wrong.  If you’re brave enough to try them after seeing this horrible picture, let me know what happens.

Mocha Oatmeal Muffins (recipe care of damndelicious.net)

Mocha Oatmeal Muffins.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 2/3 cup old fashioned oats, 2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed), 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup plain yogurt, 1/4 cup strong coffee, 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter (melted), 2 large eggs, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mocha Sugar Topping:  2 tablespoons old fashioned oats, 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. To make the mocha sugar topping, combine the oats, turbinado sugar, cocoa and instant coffee powder in a small bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, cocoa powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, coffee, butter, eggs and vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Sprinkle with reserved topping, using your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter. Place into oven and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Salty Goodness

Well, these are just ridiculously good.

The combination of the sugary dough and salty flakes is perfection.  I didn’t include the cranberries, Paul’s not a fan.  So my version is much more simple than Ina’s (yes the Barefoot Contessa and I are on a first name basis, we’re great friends – at least in my mind).  However that aforementioned sweet/savory combination brings a complexity to such a basic cookie.  I would’ve liked a walnut thrown in but Paul doesn’t like those either.

Pretty much anyone who cooks or bakes knows that the quality of ingredients makes all the difference in the quality of the dish.  Yeah, yeah, yeah… yada yada yada.  But seriously, it’s so true!  The chocolate I used for these cookies were little drops of heavenly love.

Last weekend Paul and I were wandering around Los Olivos, a cute little town about 45 minutes north of us.  During our visit we stumbled upon a chocolate shop called Strafford’s Chocolates.  These people do not mess around when it comes to chocolate.

First of all, the actual shop is in an old ranch water tower, maybe from the early 1900’s.  Who woulda thought to put a chocolate shop in a water tower?  It’s adorable!  The space is homey and cozy and just draws you in.  Everywhere we looked we were in awe.  So of course we had to buy a bunch of things.  One of the purchases was two bags of homemade chocolate chips.

You wouldn’t think that the flavor of chocolate chips would vary that much, however it definitely does.  No preservatives, no chemicals to make them last on a grocery store shelf for years.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love Tollhouse as much as the next guy.  But these chips were just so honest, so true.

Right about now ya might be thinking that I’m a little crazily obsessed with chocolate and you would be absolutely right.

The moral of the story is go to Strafford’s Chocolates and stock up on all their goods.

Salty Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies (recipe care of barefootcontessa.com)

Salty Chocolate Chunk Cookies.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, 3/4 cup light brown sugar (lightly packed), 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 2 extra-large eggs at room temperature, 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1¼ cups old-fashioned oats (such as Quaker), 3/4 pound bittersweet chocolate (such as Lindt) chopped in chunks, 3/4 cup dried cranberries, Fleur de sel


DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 3 sheet pans with parchment paper. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. On low speed, add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl again. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Mix in the oats. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture. Don’t overbeat it! With a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate and cranberries until the dough is well mixed. With a 1¾-inch ice cream scoop (or two spoons), scoop round balls of dough onto the prepared sheet pans. Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until nicely browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.