Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Taste of Home: Berger Cookies

Every region has something unique, an item that only the locals know about. In central Maryland that secret, aside from Old Bay, is Berger Cookies. I remember going to The Farm Store as a little girl with my grandparents and getting a fountain soda and a pack of these delicious cookies coated in a thick layer of ganache. And although their recipe is a secret, I think I have concocted something pretty darn close to the original.

Without further ado:


Berger Cookies

Yield: 16 cookies


3/4 pound Milk Chocolate

1/4 pound Dark Chocolate

1/2 pound Butter

1 cup Heavy Cream


1/2 pound Butter, softened

4 oz Granulated Sugar

1 Egg

1 tsp Vanilla

10oz All Purpose Flour

For the Ganache:

  • In a small sauce pot combine the butter and the cream over low heat.
  • Cut up the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heat safe bowl.
  • Once the cream and butter boil, pour over the chopped chocolate. Do not stir the mixture for 7 minutes.
  • After the 7 minutes has passed, stir the chocolate and cream mixture, with a spatula, until silky and smooth.
  • Pour into a shallow baking dish and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Do not stir during this process, it will make the chocolate lose its shine a smooth texture.
For the Cookies

  • Cream the sugar and the butter together.
  • Once light and fluffy, add the egg and vanilla.
  • Slowly stir in the flour until the dough comes together in a ball.
  • On a greased cookie sheet, place rounded tablespoons of the dough.
  • Press the centers of the balls down, creating a button shape.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes or until slightly brown. These cookies are very light in color, naturally.
  • Once baked, allow to cool on the cookie sheet until room temperature.

  • Flip the cookies upside down.
  • With an offset spatula or a spoon, spread the ganache on the under side.
  • Refrigerate for another hour before serving.
  • Enjoy!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Christmas is quickly approaching and just in case you didn't know what that means, let me remind you: COOKIES!

To kick of this sugar coated holiday, I thought what better cookie to make than these peanut butter kiss cookies. Justin and I both have childhood memories of this super delicious, super simple cookie, so making it was like bringing a piece of home to Florida.

Lets get to the recipe!

Peanut Butter Kiss Cooies

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

1/2 cup Butter, softened

1/2 cup Peanut Butter, room temperature

1/2 cup Brown Sugar

1 cup Granulated Sugar, divided

1 Egg

1 3/4 cup All Purpose Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

1 Tbsp Milk

36 Hershey Kisses, unwrapped


  • Whip the butter and the peanut butter together until smooth.
  • Add the 1/2 of the granulated sugar and all of the brown sugar. Whip until fluffy and light.
  • Add in the egg, the vanilla, and baking soda.
  • Once combined, slowly fold in the flour by hand.
  • Scoop the dough into 1 inch balls and roll in the remaining sugar.
  • Place onto an ungreased cookie sheet and make a small dent in the center of each ball.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and press kisses into the center of each cookie. Return to the oven for 2 minutes.
  • Allow to cool completely before enjoying!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Shiitake and Goat Cheese Flatbread

Big things have been happening around here: Christmas is coming, Nash is finally potty trained, Justin bought me this amazing new iPad, and I moved from The Bistro to The Atlantic Bar and Grill at work. What has any of this news to do with this amazing recipe? There are flatbreads on the menu at The Atlantic Bar and Grill! And of course it is what inspired me to make this for lunch today.

My flatbread has shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, goat cheese, tomatoes, and wild arugula (aka rocket). But of course you can put whatever your heart desires on your flatbread. And, in case you couldn't think of a spectacular hors d'oeuvre for your family Christmas party, go ahead and whip up a couple of these, cut them into two bite pieces and voila! You are a holiday hero.

Flatbread with Vegetables and Goat Cheese
Yield: 1 flatbread

1 Naan Flatbread, found in the deli aisle near the pita
1 oz Goat Cheese, softened
1 small Bunch of Arugula
1/2 Roma Tomato, diced
1/4 White Onion, julienned
5 Shiitake Mushrooms, caps only, julienned
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat one half of the oil. Once very hot, almost smoking, add the julienned shiitakes. Allow to cook until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove the mushrooms and wipe out the pan.

3. Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Once hot, add the onions.

4. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until golden and soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from the pan.

5. On the Naan, spread the goat cheese in a thin layer.

6. Top with the Arugula.


7. Next, layer on the onions, followed by the mushrooms and then the tomatoes.

8. Place in a 350 degree oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the naan is warm.


9. Cut into pieces and enjoy!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Although October is long gone, I am still on a crazy pumpkin kick. Justin loves pumpkin pie, and I love...anything sweet, so after some research I whipped up this little gem of a recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies.

They came out way better than I anticipated and stay moist and delicious until you can manage to eat them all! Anytime you add pumpkin to a dish it just stays miraculously moist without adding all of the fat from oil (which would give you the same result). Give it a go! I am sure no one at your house will be complaining.

Oh and these are super easy because, well I cheated and used boxed brownie mix :)

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies
Yield: 1ea 9"x13" Pan
1 box of brownie mix
All of the ingredients listed on the box
6 oz Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
2 Tbsp Flour
1 Egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp Vanilla
1 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

  • Whip up the brownies according to the directions on the box. 
  • Pour into a 9"x13", greased baking pan. 
  • In a new bowl, beat together the remaining ingredients. 
  • Drizzle over the unbaked brownie batter. With a spoon, swirl the two flavors together. 
  • Bake according to box direction. 
  • Allow to cool completely, then cut and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer

After making those delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, I had just enough pumpkin puree left over to make--well, absolutely nothing. Seeing as I can't fathom the idea of throwing it away, I whipped up this little gem of a recipe to use it up. Justin really seems to love it, so I am sure you will, too.

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Creamer
Yield: about 1 quart

1 pint Half and Half
7 oz (half a can) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (Check out my recipe for it here!)
1/4 tsp Salt

  • Combine everything in a pot over medium heat. Whisk continuously. 
  • Bring to a boil and remove from heat. 
  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer, cool and store in an air tight container in the fridge.
  • Shake well before each use and impress your family.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I remember the first time I ever had Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. I was in high school, taking my culinary tech class, when Chef handed out this recipe for chocolate chip cookies. At first glance I was disgusted. "Why would you make cookies healthy?" I thought.

Who am I kidding? I now know that simply adding a fruit to something does not make it automatically makes it delicious!

So here is an amazing recipe for some amazing cookies. Oh and the best part is that they stay super soft for a long time.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 5 Dozen 

1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Brown Sugar
8 oz Butter, softened
2 Eggs
1 cup Pumpkin
3 cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Vanilla
2 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (check out my recipe for it here)
1 tsp Salt
2 cups Milk Chocolate Chips

  • Cream together the sugars and the butter. 
  • Once light and fluffy add the eggs, vanilla and pumpkin. 
  • Gradually fold in the flour, salt and baking powder. Reserve a 1/4 cup of the flour. 

  • Toss the chocolate chips in the reserved flour and then fold the dusted chips into the batter. 
  • Spoon rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. 

  • Allow to cool and store in an air tight container.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Spice

Fall is in the air, even here in South Florida. So you know what that means--bring on the pumpkin! I am willing to bet that most of your beloved pumpkin infused recipes call for some variation of pumpkin pie spice. So why buy something you will only use once a year when you can make your own?

 Here is my recipe for pumpkin pie spice. It makes about 1/4 cup so use some now and save the rest for later.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
7 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Nutmeg, fresh grated
2 tsp Allspice, fresh ground
2 tsp Cloves, fresh ground

Simply grind all of the spices together in your spice grinder and voila! Pumpkin Pie Spice. Store it in an air tight container and you are all set for Fall.  

Friday, August 31, 2012

Fall is in the Air

Fall is rapidly approaching and I am so excited for Fall inspired candles, Fall holidays and most importantly, cooler weather!

During Hurricane Issac, it kind of felt like Fall- darker sky, wind, cooler weather. So I hunkered down with Justin, burned an apple pie scented candle and made Chicken Pot Pie.

The first time I made this recipe it was the day after Thanksgiving in Deep Creek Lake with my family. We had so much left-over turkey no one knew what to do with it, so Gammy made the biscuits and I made the filling and the result was delicious. This recipe is made with chicken instead of turkey (because I was using the leftovers) and Pillsbury Biscuits (because I already had them), but you can use whatever meat and biscuit combination you would like.

As for the veggies. Choose whichever ones you like. Most grocery stores carry frozen mixed vegetables which work great for this but, If you want to use fresh, make sure to sweat/blanch them before mixing them into the filling. 

Chicken Pot Pie
Yield: 4 (generous) servings

32 fl oz Chicken Stock
1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp Rosemary
1 Tbsp Thyme
1 cup Mixed Veg
3 cups Chicken, cooked, shredded
8 Biscuits

  • In a  pot, whisk together the flour and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring periodically.
  • Simmer for 7 minutes.
  • Add the chicken and the vegetables.
  • Pour into an ungreased 9x9 baking dish.
  • Top with the biscuits.

  • Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until the top of the biscuits are golden brown.
  • Cover the top with foil and bake for another 4 minutes.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes before digging in. 
  • Enjoy!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Let's Go Bananas!

Yes, I live in Florida. And yes there is a hurricane coming. And yes, the sky was looking particularly ominous today, but I did what any person who had off would do (I am talking every person in the Boca Raton- Delray area) and went to the grocery store to buy supplies. Not hurricane supplies particularly, but rather supplies to make myself some delicious Banana Nut Muffins and Chicken Pot Pie.

Now I will admit, my pot pie recipe is definitely the lazy version, but don't judge me! I had a ton of stuff in the house that needed to be used up. The Banana Nut Muffins are all from scratch though, so I guess the two recipes balance each other out. I will be posting the Pot Pie Recipe shortly so stayed tuned if you love comfort food (and who doesn't love comfort food) as much as I do.

If I had the motivation to change out of my pj's, put make up on, do my hair, walk down to the car, drive to the I would get the ingredients to make some cream cheese frosting for my muffins. Would that make them cupcakes? Hmmmmmmmm? Anyway, here is the recipe to make yourself a fantastic stormy day treat.

Banana Nut Muffins
Yield: 16 Muffins 

1 3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
2/3 cup Light Brown Sugar
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 Egg, beaten
1/2 cup Half and Half
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
2 cups Banana, mashed
1 cup Walnuts, chopped
1/2 tsp Vanilla

I only have one muffin pan, so I made 12 muffins and then poured the rest of the batter into a loaf pan and made some Banana Bread. It is like a two for one recipe here people!

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nuts. It is important to add the nuts now so that they get coated in flour and don't sink to the bottom of the muffins during the baking period.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg, half and half, bananas and vanilla. 

Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients.
Stir together until just combined. It should be lumpy.

Scoop into greased, unlined, muffin pans. I scooped mine with an ice cream scoop so that they would all come out the same size.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The bread took about four minutes longer to bake than the muffins, so watch your baked goods carefully!

Allow the muffins to cool for 10 minutes before trying to pop them out of the pan.

Waited long enough? Good. Now you can devour your muffins! Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mango Madness

One of the perks of living in Florida is all of the lovely (and reasonably priced) tropical fruits. This past week our local grocery store had mangoes on sale. I bought ten and brought them home. After having them as snacks and packing some in a picnic beach lunch, I still had so many left over.

What to do except the obvious: make sorbet!

Mango Sorbet
Yield: 2qt when frozen

6ea Mangoes, peeled and rough chopped
2 cups Water
3 cups Sugar
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Combine all of the above ingredients.
Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.
Allow the mixture to cool down slightly.
Blend in a blender, in small batches, until smooth.
Pass through a strainer.
Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
Turn in an ice cream machine until frozen and delicious. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I Love it When Dinner Comes to Me

So I've moved to Florida. What do I do down here when I am not at work (haha! me, not at work)? Besides the obvious (watch reality tv while eating ice cream, duh) I do partake in some pretty amazing things.

I don't know if your apartment complex hosts food trucks every now and again, but mine does. And it just so happened that Justin had off work, and I got off before six, so dinner was had-- food truck style.

This was such a fun community event! A lot of people showed up for the trucks, and I don't think the trucks were expecting it! Three trucks showed up to feed our community: "Get Toasted" "The Big Ragu" and "Joji Yogurt". My favorite truck was Joji Yogurt, (Fro-yo, toppings, and cute little spoons, what's not to love?) but all of them were delicious.

From "Get Toasted" I had a "T'n'M"-- tomato, mozzarella, basil and balsamic sandwich, while Justin had a "Chicken Satay Sandwich". Both were delicious. We followed that up with an order of "Rice Balls" from the "Big Ragu". They were very interesting--baseball sized balls of seasoned rice, filled with cheese, breaded and then fried, topped with tomato sauce. To top it all off, frozen yogurt was in order.

I got Green Tea Yogurt and Pineapple Sorbet, and Justin had Green Tea Yogurt with Chocolate Yogurt. I am a fro-yo purist, but he was a little more daring and opted for some Crushed Wasabi Peas and Pretzel Balls as toppings for his yogurt. I think it is safe to say Joji was the highlight of our night.

Have you ever eaten at a Food Truck? If so which one?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Refrigerator Berry

So after everyone had left to go back to their homes, I realized that I had a whole refrigerator full of berries: strawberries, blueberries, and cherries.

Despite my best efforts, I could not eat them all before they were going to spoil. So I did what any normal person would do and whipped up a batch of Refrigerator Berry Sorbet (I think this is the best recipe name I have made up thus far!).

The best part of this sorbet is that you don't need to use the exact same berries as I did; improv as you see fit.

Just like in my last sorbet recipe, Honey Orange Peach Sorbet, you will need an ice cream machine. If you do not have one and are refusing to buy one ( a thought that is beyond me) you could do this like a granita-- pour into a shallow pan, freeze for 30 minutes, scrape with a fork, and repeat until frozen.

Refrigerator Berry Sorbet
Yield: 1 quart of frozen delicious-ness

1/2 pt Blueberries
1 pt Strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 pt Cherries, pitted and halved
1 c Water
1 c Sugar
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pot.
Simmer for 15 minutes.
Blend in a blender until smooth.
Strain through a fine strainer, if desired. I left all the pieces in mine.
Chill overnight.
Freeze either in your ice cream machine or granita style.
Eat in bed and enjoy!

Now that I'm a grown-up I can eat in bed :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Caffeinated? You Betcha!

Surprise, Surprise! I am still here, busy but here nonetheless.
I have spent the past weeks moving from Baltimore to South Florida.
Assembling a whole apartment's worth of furniture from Ikea (I should probably apply for a job at the Ikea Help Line).
And starting my new job as the lunch time grill cook at The Four Seasons Ocean Bistro (South Florida+Summertime+Pants+Grilling=HOT).

But don't fret! I promise I will get back on the writing wagon and when is a better time to start than now.

To me going through this super busy time I think I have consumed more than my fair share of coffee. And the best part of all of this coffee consumption is that I was finally able to try a new brand.

Meet Baltimore Coffee. This coffee is made in my hometown, which was a huge surprise to me because in my 18 years of living there I had never heard of an independent coffee manufacturer. But, hey, you learn something new everyday.

This morning in honor of my day off, Justin and I brewed a pot of the "Baltimore Blend" we got from Gammy in a "Perfect Pot Sampler" set. There are six flavors all together, three different roasts: "Espresso Milano", "Breakfast Blend" and "Baltimore Blend". And three different flavored coffees: "French Vanilla", "Rainforest Crunch" and "Snicker Snicker". We went with their signature blend but I cannot wait to try the "Rainforest Crunch" with coconut and vanilla flavors.

After doing some brief research I came to some interesting yet welcomed, information about the company.

Founded in 1895, they supply coffee and tea to top restaurants and boutiques around North America and Europe. Every bean is roasted in a specially designed, cast iron, roasting drum made in Paris, France to ensure the most even roasting possible. Is it effective? Yes. Is it delicious? Yes. Is it environmentally friendly? Yes! Baltimore Coffee is USDA Certified Organic and Smithsonian Certified Bird Friendly.

So after all of these wonderful things, why not check out Baltimore Coffee? Oh yea, they deliver to your door, too. So there is no excuse not to check them out.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Allentown Farmers Market

These past couple of days have been so busy, but so fun!

On Thursday, Justin graduated from The Culinary Institute of America.

After the ceremony Krissy and I went to Apple Pie for lunch and, of course, dessert.

I had the Cavatelli Carbonara with Spring Peas and Ramps.

And then this is what I had for dessert.

No it is not an egg in a can! It's a Mango Sphere with Coconut Panna Cotta and a Cookie Crumble in a Chocolate Sealed Can.
It was delicious! Panna Cotta is my favorite dessert, ever, and this coconut flavored one was so so delicious. I would love to make it at home. And serving it in a can was so cute!

Friday, Justin, his mom and I went to the Allentown Farmer's Market.

It was huge! And they had everything; produce, meats, baked goods, cheese, prepared foods. They even had things wrapped in pretzel dough. I had chicken, bacon and ranch in mine. Oh. My. Gawd. It was so delicious that I forgot to take a picture!

We bought a ton of delicious produce and meats and made dinner for everyone. The menu was:
Chicken Fines Herbs with Pancetta Roasted Brussel Sprouts and  Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

For Dessert I made a Peach and Blueberry Tart with Diplomat Cream Filling.