Looking Forward To — Summer + Ice Cream Sandwiches


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It’s already starting to feel like summer in Houston, and while I already miss the spring weather, I’m really looking forward to pooltime, summer thunderstorms, and ice cream! This is the first summer I’ve had an ice cream maker, so I’m SUPER EXCITED about eating homemade ice cream on the porch after dinner. I’ve especially been craving ice cream sandwiches lately, so here’s a round-up of all the recipes I’ve got my eye on:

I’ve been obsessed with chai lately, so chai ginger ice cream sandwiches sound amazing! Is it bad that I’m thinking about making them not vegan?

Just look at all these fancy ice cream sandwiches!

I bought Yossy Arefi’s Sweeter off the Vine a month ago, and I can’t wait to try these strawberry ice cream sandwiches with cocoa nib poppy seed cookies!

Would it be weird to eat gingersnap eggnog ice cream sandwiches in July? I can’t decide.

My grandma always made cracker cookies, so I’d bet money that these saltine crack ice cream sandwiches are to die for!

A couple weeks ago I wrote about how excited I am for peach season, so these peach gingersnap ice cream sandwiches sound perfect.

Have you made an ice cream sandwich with semifreddo before? It sounds really interesting…

This isn’t an ice cream sandwich, but I can’t get over Joy’s cream cheese red velvet ice cream. It sounds so over the top and amazing!

What about you? Do you have any summer food cravings?

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Looking forward to — Summer + Peaches

peach season
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I never liked peaches growing up. I would eat them in a peach cobbler, but I secretly cared more about the topping and the vanilla ice cream than the peaches. But now I can’t get enough of them. Isn’t it weird what you don’t like as a kid, and then fall in love with when you’re older?

Since I’m new to the peach dessert world, here are some recipes that sound perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon:

  • There are a lot of “best” recipes out there, but since the peach pie from A Couple Cooks is a family favorite and won a prize at the county fair, it really must be the best peach pie.
  • I’ve never had peach butter before, but it sounds amazing! (Also, how is peach butter not everywhere in Georgia? I went to college there for four years and never heard of it until I found it in the Smitten Kitchen archives!)
  • Deb from Smitten Kitchen loves peaches, and I’m hoping that these Almond-crisped peaches count as breakfast. Leftover fruit crisp is one of my favorite breakfasts!
  • Hummingbird High’s Blackberry peach pie combines two of my favorite fruits in one pie, so obviously I have to make it. I’m pretty sure there’s a rule written about it somewhere.
  • I’ve never been big on banana splits (I don’t know what’s wrong with me either), so these grilled peach splits from Smitten Kitchen sound like they’re more my speed. I bet they’d be amazing at a summer barbecue!

Do you have any favorite peach recipes? I’d love to hear about them!

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Fake It Till You Make It: Fall Edition

This black n' blue pie from the Four & Twenty Blackbirds book was my goodbye to summer.
This black n’ blue pie from the Four & Twenty Blackbirds book was my goodbye to summer.


Disclaimer: if you’re in denial that summer is over and fall is on its way, you might want to stop reading now. Just look at the black n’ blue pie I made for Labor Day! So summery!


If you’re as excited as I am for fall, you can keep reading…




Sorry for yelling at you, but I really am that excited about Fall. June was fun, July was busy and stressful, and August was miserably hot, so I’m totally ready for fall. There’s just one problem — I live in Houston. And fall doesn’t start here until October (at best).


So I’m going to fake it. While some people are holding onto summer and making every summery dish they can, I’m already thinking about the two fruits (and a vegetable) that scream fall to me: apples, pumpkins, and pears.


Unfortunately pears aren’t quite in season yet (at least here) and Teddy gets pumpkin-ed out really fast. But we’re both apple fanatics, so I’ve been looking up all the apple recipes. Here are 5 6 7 that have made it to my to-bake list:


1. These apple and cheddar scones from the Smitten Kitchen are definitely happening this weekend. Who could resist scones that are “October on a parchment-lined baking sheet?” Not me!


2. Kristin’s boiled cider is addictive — it’s great in an apple pie, it’s great on ice cream, it’s great on a spoon… Trust me, you need to make this.  


3. Lately I’ve become the weirdo person who only has whole grains and coconut sugar in their pantry (who am I?!?), so these whole wheat apple muffins are right up my alley.


4. This apple almond tart looks delicious. (Also Sarah’s apple tartlets look so fancy with the melty whipped cream and caramel sauce. Yum!)


5. Emma’s baked cheesy apple sandwiches sound kooky and delicious. I think it’d be perfect with a cup of soup!


6. This cinnamon-sugar apple skillet cake sounds like the perfect cake for having friends over. Or the perfect thanks-for-having-us-over cake if you’re the guest. Both are good ideas.


7. I’ve always been intimidated by homemade doughnuts, but these apple cider doughnuts remind me of the maple doughnuts that people go crazy for in Virginia in February.


8. I couldn’t resist adding these pumpkin cinnamon rolls because guys — they’re pumpkin cinnamon rolls. Who can resist that? I’ll just have to sneak them past Teddy.


Do you have any end-of-summer or beginning of fall baking plans? I’d love to hear!

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Baker Diaries #3: Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones

Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones


I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I did a Baker’s Diary post! These scones have been on my to-bake list for ages, so when I saw a quart of raspberries for the price of a pint (normally) I snagged them for these scones. I baked three the night I made them and froze the rest, and they bake up perfectly! These are definitely going to be a repeat offender in my kitchen because they were just that good. The best thing about them is that with the whole wheat flour you don’t have to feel bad about having two. 😉


One thing to keep in mind with this recipe is that the ricotta makes the scones extra moist and soft. I loved the moist texture, but if you know a scone purist they might say these aren’t “real scones” because they aren’t flaky. I’m not a scone purist, but I know people who are a little snobby about scones. True story, a guy I knew in college told me he didn’t like the lemon glaze on my lemon craisin scones because ” the scones at Oxford don’t have a glaze.” *insert eye-roll emoji* The best thing was, he was an American, so it wasn’t like he grew up eating English scones. He probably wouldn’t like these scones, but it’s ok. More for us!


Here are some notes I took about the baking process:

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Baker Diaries #1

Smitten Kitchen's Whole-Grain Cinnamon Bread


I’ve talked about how much I love baking before, but if you’ve ever been in the kitchen with me while I’m baking, you might think that I actually hate it. In my head, baking is relaxing. Just measuring ingredients and mixing them together — always in the right order, and always with the perfect tool.


In reality, baking is rarely like that (at least when I’m doing it). I’m notoriously bad at mis en place, and even when I read the recipe beforehand and try to gather all the ingredients and tools I need, odds are I’ll forget something. Then I’ll be checking my next step, and oh *#$%, I was supposed to melt the butter before adding it, and my butter is sitting in the fridge, totally not melted.


But I still love it and somehow find it therapeutic — although maybe not when I’m standing on tiptoe trying to find the paddle attachment I forgot I needed to use before the dough hook, and the cabinets are too $%*&@#* tall for me to find anything. I wonder if other bakers swear as much as I do. At least the cat can’t get in trouble at school for using a bad word she learned from me.


While I’m definitely not a pastry chef, I do really like baking, and I miss it when I haven’t done it for a while. A month ago we thought I’d have to stop baking entirely, but then we noticed that if I switched to whole-grain pasta and bread (and only ate it occasionally), I still managed to lose weight. (17 pounds so far!) Teddy suggested that since we have bread, fruit, and cheese nights for dinner about once a week, maybe we could make whole-grain bread instead of buying it. (I knew I kept that boy around for a reason.)


So I thought it might be fun to write about my bread/ whole-grain baking experiences here. Not necessarily an original recipe (although those might sneak in every once in a while too), but more of a recipe review of sorts. Baking is interesting because something could go wrong at any minute, and while baking flops are always disappointing, I actually like trying to figure out why it flopped. Was it a dumb mistake on my part, or a recipe failure? Or did the oven just decide to hate me and cook the bread unevenly?


For my first experiment, I decided to make Smitten Kitchen’s Whole-Grain Cinnamon Bread. And I was really blown away! It’s delicious and doesn’t taste too “healthy,” if you know what I mean. Whole grain flours have really come a long way since I was a kid (or maybe I’m just more accepting of bread with seeds in it now). Here’s what I learned while making this recipe:


  • I cut this recipe in half because I only have one loaf pan, which made some of the measurements wonky. Thank goodness I have a kitchen scale! It would have been a total nightmare without one. I even used it to cut an egg in half because the original recipe called for a whole egg for 2 loaves.
  • I used a mix of whole wheat flour and white whole wheat flour (which is from a different type of wheat that’s lighter in color and tastes a little more like all-purpose flour). I really liked the mix, but Teddy said that using white whole wheat would make the bread even more decadent, so I think either way would be great.
  • I had to add extra flour while I mixed the dough because it was really wet, and I was afraid that I was going to add too much and make it tough. But I think it turned out great! It was nice to know that I remember what dough should look like, even if I haven’t made it in a while.
  • I had never heard of using egg and water as the binder for swirl bread, but Deb is totally right — it holds the bread together much better than melted butter would. (Plus you don’t have to feel bad about putting some butter on it after you toast it!) But I got nervous that the egg made it too wet, so I wiped some of it off of the dough before I added the cinnamon, which I kind of regretted. I think using the full amount of egg would make the swirl really gooey and delicious. So if you try this recipe, just be aware that the egg might look more wet than melted butter would, but don’t worry, it’ll work just fine.

What do you think of this series idea? Would you try out this recipe? Let me know if you have any recipes you think I should try!

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The Cookbook Project


Mimi Thorisson's Roast Chicken with Creme Fraiche from A Kitchen In France
Mimi Thorisson’s Roast Chicken with Creme Fraiche from A Kitchen In France


Yesterday, I realized I have a problem. I have too many cookbooks.


I was reading Sarah’s blog post about the twangy blueberry sauce from Tara O’Brady’s new cookbook Seven Spoons, and by the end of the post she had me convinced that I needed that cookbook. Because I obviously need another one, right?


Last night I counted all the books on my cookbook shelf (yes I have a shelf just for cookbooks) and realized — I have 18 cookbooks. 18! And I’m sure I have at least one or two more floating around on my bookshelves that I forgot to include.


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Favorite Places: Franklin Barbecue


Franklin Barbecue (Before)


Last weekend I went to Austin to try Franklin Barbecue, which is arguably the best barbecue in Texas. Which is a HUGE deal because if Texas is known for anything, it’s for cooking ridiculous amounts of brisket. Luckily our friend from Austin had been there before so he knew what to expect. But in case you’re in Austin and would like to try it out, here’s what you need to know:


  • Going to Franklin Barbecue is definitely an experience. It opens at 11 AM Tuesday-Sunday and closes after they’ve sold out of all of the meat they’ve smoked for the day. BUT it’s such a cult favorite in Austin that people start lining up at 7 or 8 in the morning — we got there at 8:15 on Sunday and the line was already into the parking lot. So if you like to spontaneously decide to pick up some barbecue, this isn’t the place to do it. (Luckily there are lots of other really good barbecue places in Austin to fulfill any sudden barbecue cravings.)


  • Come in a group. Since the lines are so long, it makes the experience much more fun if you go with friends. Plus, that way you can send one or two people to go pick up some Starbucks and breakfast tacos to tide you over until lunch.
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Mussels and Linguini with a White Wine Herb Sauce

I’m not the biggest seafood person. My Mom cooked it pretty frequently growing up, but somehow now that I’m an adult I rarely eat it. It’s not that I don’t like fish — I just usually forget about it. Teddy will sometimes suggest fish for dinner, but I’m always too excited about the new recipe I want to try to pay much attention.
So imagine Teddy’s surprise when I suggested mussels for dinner one night. I’m sure it seems weird to have mussels as the first seafood I’ve cooked all by myself, but I was inspired by Deb Perelman. If she can get over her fish hang ups with mussels, maybe I could too.
And can I say, this mussels with linguini and white wine herb sauce is delicious! I whipped this up on a whim, and Teddy and I loved it so much that I wrote down the recipe so we could have it again. This is a really fun date night meal — there’s extra wine, it’s a little messy, and it’s so fun to eat! And while this recipe is for 2, mussels are so inexpensive ($6 for a pound at my grocery store!) that it can easily be scaled up for a quick meal with friends. I think it’d be a great light meal for a summer dinner party with friends. Teddy and I might have some summer plans lined up.
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Cardamom Orange Mini Madeleines

Spring has sprung in Houston, and it has me daydreaming about picnics and tea parties and pretty floral dresses. And if I know anything about tea parties, I know that you need a yummy dessert to go with your tea. And, if you happen to have one, maybe a bunny plate to serve your desserts on.


Bunny Plate


I’ve had a mini madeleine pan on my wish list for a while, and we finally made it to a Sur La Table and bought one. Teddy and I have been trying to bake in smaller batches, so that we won’t have a whole cake or a whole pie sitting around tempting us all week. So while a madeleine pan was definitely a splurge, I’m excited that I can experiment with flavors without having to feel guilt about having cake around all the time. Plus they seem so fancy, which is perfect for a tea party.


I used Emma Gardner’s recipe for Maple Nutmeg Mini Madeleines, but since it’s spring, I wanted to try a different flavor combination. I’ve been wanting to bake with cardamom, and I thought orange and vanilla would go with the cardamom really well. The madeleines are bright and citrusy and perfect for spring. And they’re so small that I don’t feel bad about eating at least four!


Cardamom Orange Mini Madeleines

Adapted slightly from Emma Gardner’s Maple Nutmeg Mini Madeleines (with flavors inspired by Sarah Kieffer’s Cardamom Pound Cake)


Makes 20+ madeleines

65g unsalted butter (plus more for tin)
50g powdered sugar
20g almond meal/ flour
20g all purpose flour (plus more for tin)
45g egg white (about 1.25 – 1.5 eggs worth)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
Few shavings of fresh nutmeg or a dash of ground nutmeg
Zest of 1/2 an orange (I used a Cara Cara)
To make the batter:

Brown the butter: cut butter into slices and melt in a small pot with a light-colored bottom over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After the butter is melted, continue stirring and wait for the butter to hiss and get foamy on top. After the foam dissolves a little, watch for some white flecks to appear at the bottom of the pan. Continue to stir until the flecks turn a nice brown color and the butter smells nutty. Pour butter into a small bowl, making sure not to leave any brown flecks behind, and set aside to cool. Butter browns really quickly, so you definitely don’t want to walk away from the stove! If you’ve never browned butter before, Emma’s guide is really helpful.


Sift the powdered sugar, flour, almond meal into a large bowl and whisk together. Whisk in egg whites. In a small bowl, stir vanilla, cardamom, sea salt, nutmeg, and orange zest together, then whisk into the batter. Whisk in the brown butter a little at time, so that it incorporates into the batter easier. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-24 hours.


Brown Edges


Believe it or not, I didn’t “test” that madeleine. It actually slipped out and fell into the bottom of the oven. So be careful, because they might try to escape!


To bake the madeleines:

Preheat oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour tins, making sure to get all the \nooks and crannies. Put little dollops of batter into each mold so that they’re about 3/4 of the way full. The batter is sticky after chilling in the fridge, so I like to use a teaspoon to get a little scoop, and then use another spoon to nudge the batter into its spot.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, until the edges are brown and each madeleine has a hump in the middle. Flip madeleines out onto a plate and serve.


FLowers + Bunny Plate



– These are best within an hour or two of coming out of the oven, so you can make the batter ahead of time and then bake them off right before you want to serve them.

– I got my mini madeleine tin here. If you’d rather not buy a single-use kitchen gadget, I think adding some cardamom and orange zest to vanilla cupcakes or shortbread would be equally great!

-If you’re looking at the measurements wondering why they’re in grams, it’s because the original recipe is in grams, and the amounts were really finicky in volume measurements. I’m hoping to be able to give both weight and volume measurements for baking recipes in the future (and possibly update this recipe), but trying to figure out these measurements was giving me a headache.

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Cauliflower Tacos + Dragons Love Tacos with This Picture Book Life

Everyone I know loves tacos — Moms, Dads, Grandmas, kids… and dragons?




According to Dragons Love Tacos (written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri), dragons love tacos and parties. But taco parties are their favorite. In Dragons Love Tacos, the narrator and his dog invite some dragons over for a taco party. The dragons are delighted and everything is going well until — oh no! The little boy realizes that he picked the WRONG SALSA! Dragons do not like spicy food because it upsets their stomachs. But the narrator has accidentally bought mild salsa with jalapenos added! He tries to stop the dragons from eating the spicy salsa, but too late. And dragons with upset tummies can definitely ruin a party.




When I first read this book, I immediately thought of Danielle Davis of This Picture Book Life. I love the wide selection of picture books she discusses on her blog — from the cute, funny, and heartwarming, to the serious, thoughtful, and heartbreaking, she talks about them all. So when we started talking about taco ideas to celebrate Dragons Love Tacos and she suggested that I think up a recipe for veggie tacos that any meat-lover (or dragon) would enjoy, I knew I had to think up something good. So I came up with a cauliflower taco.


Taco Model


Cauliflower — in a taco? It might sound weird, but actually the texture is perfect for tacos. Not too soft, but not too crunchy, and they can stand up to Tex-Mex flavors surprisingly well.


And because cauliflower tacos aren’t crazy enough, I made crispy taco shells — with my microwave! There are lots of recipes for how to fry your own taco shells, but all that popping oil is a little intimidating. So when I saw Geoffrey Zakarian make crispy taco shells in the microwave during the Warming Winter Meals episode of The Kitchen, I knew I had to try it. And it works! (Although your mileage may vary depending on your microwave and the brand of tortillas you’re using.) No popping oil or messy kitchen to clean up. And I have a hunch that you could make a few at once, so they’d be extra great for any taco parties you might be planning.


Taco Platter (2)


These tacos are delicious enough to convert the most meat-loving dragon you know. Just don’t add any jalapeno!


Spicy Pico de Gallo:

– 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped, with seeds removed (should be about 2 cups)

– 1/2 minced jalapeno, seeds removed

– 1/4 cup minced white onion

-1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped

– juice of 1 small lime


Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in the refrigerator to let the flavors marry. (This can be made the day before.)



– 2 tsp. ground cumin

– 1 tsp. garlic salt (if you don’t have garlic salt, you can use 1 tsp. Kosher salt + 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)

– 1/2 tsp. chili powder

– 1/2 tsp. ground coriander

– 2 small pinches cayenne pepper

– 1 pinch black pepper

– 1 large head cauliflower

– 1/4 cup minced white onion

– 2 tbsp. Canola or vegetable oil

– 6-8 small corn tortillas

– 1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped romaine

– Your favorite taco toppings


Preheat oven to 350°.


Coarsely chop cauliflower, removing as much of the stem as possible. Add onion to cauliflower in a large bowl and stir to combine.


Stir spices together in a small bowl until they are evenly mixed. Add oil and stir until well combined. Drizzle over cauliflower and gently toss until cauliflower is evenly coated in spice mixture.


Spread cauliflower mixture evenly onto a foil-lined medium baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until cauliflower is slightly tender.


Meanwhile, lay 1 corn tortilla on a paper towel and insert a microwave-safe mug — the narrower the better. Make sure the tortilla is as skinny or wide as you want your final taco shell to be, then place mug (upright) in your microwave and heat on high for 30 seconds. If tortilla is still slightly soft, heat for an additional 15 seconds. Carefully remove mug from microwave, and then remove paper towel and shell and set your now crispy corn tortilla shell aside on a plate. If there is any excess moisture inside the mug, dry with paper towel before repeating with other tortillas. Note: the mug will be hot after it’s been in the microwave, so make sure you hold it by the handle and be very careful when removing the tortilla shell.


Once your cauliflower is cooked and all your tortillas are crispy taco shells, it’s time to assemble! Layer cauliflower, chopped romaine, and Pico de Gallo, and then add your favorite taco toppings. We like Sargento’s Mexican cheese blend and maybe some hot sauce, but you can add sour cream, guacamole, black beans, corn salsa, or anything else you like. Enjoy!


Taco Platter and extra Pico


To keep the fun going, Danielle is talking about Dragons Love Tacos over at This Picture Book Life, so be sure to check it out! We hope you’ll make these tacos. But remember, if you invite any dragons for dinner, you might want to leave out the spicy Pico de Gallo!



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