Typographic Inspiration

Happy Friday y'all. In honor of it being Friday, whether it's the end of your work week or not - I wanted to take a quick moment to share this week's new tattly tuesday removable tattoo. Now is that the perfect inspirational reminder or what? This particular tattly is one of the newest editions to their typographic collection.

Here are a few others that are new and equally enjoyable (and that I can't seem to get enough of!):

So true.
Which is why we should all strive
to make every waking hour a happy hour.
Isn't it ironic? Don't ya think?
What I strive to achieve each and every day.
What about you?


Speaking of Fall...

Fall is here folks. And you know what that means. Pumpkin flavored everything imaginable, the leaves changing colors and crunching under your feet, and the quintessential "drink everything out of a mug" weather. Not to mention, the perfect season for pie. And speaking of pie... here's an interesting little article I came across ... guess who illustrated this pie crust cookbook drawing (among others)? Click here to find out.

And while this isn't pie - not too long ago, I made "Baked" NYC bakery's Sunday Night cake (from their second book) for my threadcakes entry. Let me just say, I wish Sunday rolled around more than once a week.

Speaking of Baked, I recently discovered their instagram profile - and it's the bomb dot com! Along with this post they shared on their blog for these halloween horror themed cake pops.

And speaking of halloween, I just had to share this video from Eater Chicago about Lula Cafe's halloween costume... they just keep getting better, don't they?

the VIOLENT HOUR from Lula Cafe on Vimeo.

And speaking of drinks and cocktails - this time of year my intake of latte's seems to shoot through the roof. (And who can blame me with clever latte art like this one below?!) I also like to convince myself that as long as I have a warm drink in my hand - who needs gloves? Save the gloves for winter.

In other news, I recently applied to officially become an operating Cottage Food business. So perhaps, next time this fall you'll see me braving the fall chill at local farmers markets...! Get excited. Here's a sneak peek at the product tags I made as well as a preview of what I might be making!

What are you looking forward to most this fall?


Turn Up the Heat!

Summer is finally here, can you believe it? Well in case you can't, the weather this week decided that you needed a bit of a wake up call anyway - so it went ahead and planned a bunch of triple digit temperature high days. And while turning on your stovetop or oven is probably the last thing you'll want to do, I'm hoping the following post might convince you that it's so WORTH IT to defy the odds and do it anyway.

June flew by quite literally, but the end of the month went out with a bang. There was a party for a good friend of mine (Lo - you're my miss bomb-dot-com and you know it!), who has since skipped town to work on a cruise ship in Hawaii. I know, right? You can read more about her adventures in paradise here. Such a courageous move called for an outrageous sendoff party. And as we all know, outrageous parties need some contagiously addictive food - which is just what yours truly set out to provide.

I had recently attained a new cookbook, for which the party was the perfect opportunity to try on some new recipes for size - and boy did it pay off! (It probably also helped a little that I used a decent amount of produce straight from the farmers market in a lot of these new recipes - the remaining ingredients were provided by the ever faithful "whole paycheck" - which led me to do pretty close to just that, but was nonetheless, completely worth it.) Anyways, back on topic. The new cookbook I got has become my new food bible. It's called The Good Life, and it's pretty much an instruction manual on how to lead just that. This book shows you how to make dishes from scratch with love and only a little bit of sweat.

Sure, I still made a few of my mainstays, like jalapeno poppers (compliments of Pioneer Woman) and olivida crostini (compliments of the Farm Chicks), but the real winners came from this newbie. For the first time, I tried my hand at homemade rosemary focaccia to go with the olive tapenade. Albeit after accidentally dropping the first batch on the floor, the second batch worked like a charm. And it was so simple, I pondered why I'd never tried it before. I also made (yes, from scratch!) a raspberry lemonade (with fresh farmers market raspberries and just a handful of blueberries), and a perfect summer grilling dish of zucchini wrapped haloumi soaked in a greek herb marinade and garnished with a generous helping of capsicum dressing. 

See, you're getting ready to fire up the grill right now, aren't ya? 

Saying goodbye is bittersweet enough. Which is why I just couldn't help myself when I came across this sweet dessert - it definitely helped make the goodbye tears a little sweeter! With fresh strawberries from Nichol's Farms, light and fluffy hand whipped cream (cool whip who?) and a brandy infused strawberry jam filling - the buffet table's tub-o-twizzlers didn't stand a chance against this airy sponge cake's sweet summery charm.

Then, before I knew it, the celebration was over, we said our goodbyes, not a crumb of food was left in sight, and it was magically 4th of July. And here we are, in sweltering heat and the midst of summer - and there's really not much you can do but to sweat it out. True, doing any kind of "real" cooking that entails anything outside of scooping ice cream straight from the carton into your mouth is going to make you sweat a little more than usual, but the payoff is more than worth it. Trust me on this.

Oh yea, and one more thing... Happy Birthday America!


Momofuku's Crack Pie

Have your pie and eat it too!

Although with this pie, let me tell you - you will be using every self disciplined bone in your body to keep from eating the entire pie yourself. It may not look overwhelmingly delicious or dressed up, but once you taste it, you'll stop worrying about how it looks - and start worrying about when is an appropriate time to serve yourself seconds.

With the crust essentially a giant oatmeal cookie and the filling a brown sugar custard it tends to have the effect of a dog with a spoon of peanut butter. You'll be licking your fork and it will take every fiber of your being not to allow yourself to lick the pan much less your plate.

Christina Tosi's Momofuku Milk Bar CRACK PIE
Makes 2 (10-inch) pies, each serves 8-10
1 recipe Oat Cookie (follows)
1 tbsp lightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, melted
1 recipe Crack Pie Filling (follows)
confectioners sugar, for dusting

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees (Farenheit)
2. Put the oat cookie, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. (If you don't have a food processor, you can fake it till you make it and crumble the oat cookie diligently with your hands.)
3.Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter, and knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until moist enough to form into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so,  melt an additional 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and knead it in.
4. Divide the oat crust evenly between 2 (10-inch) pie tins. Using your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the oat cookie crust firmly into each pie tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the tin are evenly covered. Use the pie shells immediately, or wrap well in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
5. Put both pie shells on a sheet pan. Divide the crack pie filling evenly between the crusts; the filling should fill them three-quarters of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes only. The pies should be golden brown on top but will still be very jiggly.
6. Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees (Farenheit). Depending on your oven, it may take 5 minutes or longer for the oven to cool to the new temperature. Keep the pies in the oven during this process. When the oven reaches 325, close the door and bake the pies for 5 minutes longer. The pies should still be jiggly in the bull's-eye center but not around the outer sides. If the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven for an additional 5 minutes or so.
7. Gently take the pan of crack pies out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature. (You can speed up the process by carefully transferring the pies to the fridge or freezer if you're in a hurry.) Then freeze your pies for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling for a dense final product- freezing is the signature technique and result of a perfectly executed crack pie.
8. If not serving the pies right away, wrap well in plastic wrap. In the fridge, they will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month. Transfer the pie(s) from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost a minimum of 1 hour before you're ready to get in there.
9. Serve your crack pie cold! Decorate your pie(s) with confectioners' sugar, either passing it through a fine sieve or dispatching pinches with your fingers.

Makes about 1 quarter sheet pan
8 tbsp butter, room temp
1/3 cup light brown sugar tightly packed
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/8 tsp baking powder
pinch of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees (Farenheit)
2. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 or 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. On low speed, add the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white.
3. On low speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix for a minute, until your dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. The dough will be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4. Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line with parchment, or just line the pan with a Silpat. Plop the cookie dough in the center of the pan and, with a spatula, spread it out until it is 1/4 inch thick. The dough won't end up covering the entire pan; this is OK.
5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until it resembles an oatmeal cookie - caramelized on top and puffed slightly but set firmly. Cool completely before using. Wrapped well in plastic, the oat cookie will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Makes enough for 2 (10-inch) crack pies

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups tightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk powder
1/4 cup corn powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
16 tbsp (2 sticks) butter, melted
3/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 egg yolks

1. Combine the sugar, brown sugar. milk powder, corn powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until evenly blended.
2. Add the melted butter and paddle for 2 to 3 minutes until all the dry ingredients are moist.
3. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on low for 2 to 3 minutes until any white streaks from the cream have completely disappeared into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
4. Add the egg yolks, paddling them into the mixture just to combine; be careful not to aerate the mixture, but be certain the mixture is glossy and homogenous. Mix on low speed until it is.
5. Use the filling right away, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.


Quick New Recipe

Hey folks. Just wanted to quickly share a new recipe I tweaked and tried this weekend. And it was a hit, so I thought I'd better share it. Since you probably already shared some goods sweets and eats with your mama this past weekend - it might even be a good one to try out on your daddio next month!  (Hint hint - he'll thank you for it, I promise.) Enjoy!


1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg, separated, room temp
6 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbs all-purpose flour
2 eggs, room temp
3/4 c. greek yogurt
1/2 tsp grated orange zest
2 cups fresh (or frozen but thawed) blueberries
1-2 tsp additional orange zest

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg yolk, beating until blended. With speed on low, add flour mixture in 2 additions, combining until dough forms. (If your dough isn't coming together, add a few drops of ice cold water.) Flatten your dough out into a disc and press into the bottom and up the sides of your pan. You can use a 14x4.5 in rectangular tart pan, a 9-inch round tart or pie pan, or try individuals in cupcake liners. Refrigerate your dough for about 30 minutes (or freeze for 15), until firm. Once dough is cold and firm, whisk the remainder of your egg (the whites) and brush along the surface of your crust. Bake your crust for 15 minutes until set. Cool for at least 10 minutes.
Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add in the tablespoon of flour. Add your eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. Whisk in your greek yogurt, vanilla and zest. Pour your creamy filling into the cooled crust. Bake for 20 minutes, until slightly puffed and set. Cool completely. Once cool, pile the surface of your tart with a mixture of the fresh blueberries and zest. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.


Why Hello There

It's been ages, I know. I'm still grasping at straws to find time for myself these days, however, I have been able to sneak a few foodie and crafty time outs in here and there. To give you a peak at what I've been up to, I thought I'd put on my photo journalism hat and show you some visual proof that I haven't disappeared completely. Enjoy!

In no particular order...

 Easter Lamb cake from work.
 I wish I had a dog...! Me and Beast.
 Black and white cookies.
 Asparagus tart.
 Good morning spring!
 Special delivery to the John Hancock!
 Bread & Cheese plate at Rootstock.
 These cookies are the bomb.dot.com. And I'm not even a "Who" follower.
 Homemade whole wheat gnocchi.
 Grilled tomatoes & asparagus.
 Handmade paper flower bouquet.
 Homemade brioche.
 Quick trip to Louisville.
 Brioche roll filled with pastry cream and chocolate!
 Sun-draped scene in downtown Louisville, KY.
 Old architecture in Louisville.
There's a heart in my coffee...! How'd that get there?


From Scratch

Now that most of the major winter holidays have passed, I've started to reminisce about what I will miss most about this notorious "Windy City" season. Feeling unmotivated to go outside despite this timid winter weather? Nope. Experiencing "my eyes are bigger than my stomach" syndrome on all too many occasions due to the sudden scads of food that present themselves at every holiday? Nope. Having hands the texture of sandpaper throughout the winter months? Nope. One thing that I will miss? With the holiday season, comes the promise of my mom's homemade bread. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, there's always mom's raisin bread. Sometimes it even fills up every meal of the day - it's that good. I've even come to freezing it so I can sneak some during the non-glacial months of the year. Because of the power this bread has had over me, I've never really ventured into the realm of bread making myself - let's be honest, I never really had to. However, that all changed when I got a peek at the Flour cookbook. There were so many tempting recipes, I just had to make my own. (Sorry mom - don't worry, your raisin bread still takes the cake.)

Last week I was feeling inspired and made the basic brioche. Not only was it easy, all considered (aside from the whole testing your patience thing - making bread is a labor of love, do not expect to indulge in the fruits of your labor until at least 24 hours after you start making the dough), but it was multi-purpose too. The recipe I used makes 2 doughs. So with one, I made a basic loaf of bread and with the other I made brioche au chocolate (brioche filled with a light layer of pastry cream and sprinkled with semi sweet chocolate chips). Believe me, you'll have trouble waiting the 35-45 minutes for these suckers to bake, much less waiting the 2-4 hours for them to proof after you've assembled them. Like I said, labor of love. The waiting makes them all the more worth it.

Plus, the bread itself makes the perfect base for toast, grilled cheese, or really any kind of sandwich. This week I've found myself making any excuse to have a sandwich at every meal. Peanut butter, tofu "egg" salad, you name it. If I had some semblance of the ingredients in my fridge, I made it and put it on some brioche.

If you don't have access to something like the Flour cookbook for your foray into bread-making, I would highly recommend going to your local library (this is in stock at CPL, don't worry I already checked) - and checking out the Soup and Bread Cookbook. The perfect remedy for winter's doldrums meals of "whatever I can heat up quick in the oven." 

Bread. It's something so basic and one of the simplest staples - that we tend to take for granted. When in reality, it's not all that difficult to make yourself. Some weeks might be more challenging than others to fit it in, but folks, that's what the beauty of the freezer is for - keeping your labor of love fresh for when you need it, even if it's a week or so later. At least give it a try. You won't be sorry. Promise.

Bread also goes quite well with another recipe I tried my hand at making from scratch this week - gnocchi! I made whole wheat gnocchi with cremini mushrooms and peas in a light butter sauce (aka - some melted creme fresh, so yum!) - and of course topped with some fresh shavings of parm. It was surprisingly easy and came out amazingly well for a first attempt.

What have you attempted to make from scratch this winter, dear readers?


Collectives and Channeling

I woke up the other day feeling not quite ready to brave the gloomy day that greeted me outside. So, I did something I rarely ever do. I turned on the tv. Not neflix, not hulu, not a dvd. The real, live public broadcast tv. As I surfed my way through morning cartoons and infomercials, I stumbled upon good old WTTW, Channel 11. And what did I happen upon, but an episode of Wisconsin Foodie. I can't even quite pinpoint what it was that made me stop, but I'm sure glad I did. The particular episode I caught featured the Underground Food Collective. After doing some research online, I was hooked. Just reading their about us section, speaks to the very core of what it means to me to be a "foodie."

Our training and travels give us a sense of the possibilities for food. This is more than just recipes; it's about how food is experienced and enjoyed. We carry these lessons with us as we cook.

Food isn't about how renowned the head chef is, or how many of the dishes are sprinkled with novelty, high-priced ingredients. It's about the experience of sharing food, gathering around a table, and working together to create something - a dish, an atmosphere, and orchestrating an evening - that someone else is going to enjoy. These guys get that. And for that, I applaud them.

After my "underground" discovery, I headed to a source of Chicago-style inspiration, Ipsento Coffee. A while back I had bought a bloomspot for a free coffee class there and I headed over to try my hand a pulling shots and steaming milk. My first attempt had too much channeling (it's an "espresso" term, don't worry about it) and was pretty awful. But my second shot, paired with some steamed milk, made my very first latte one to be proud of (even if my attempt at latte art left something to be desired. ("Well, it looks like... something. At least your lines are symmetrical." I'll take it for a first try.) At my day job, I witness the orchestra of making an espresso-based drink multiple times in a day, so it was nice to get my hands dirty and try it out for myself. Kind of like playing "queen" for a day - well, yesterday, I got to wear my barista hat (who needs tiaras, anyways?).

After a night of "coffee talk", I went home determined to finish out my day with something sweet. I had peanut butter on the brain for some reason. Probably because I was salivating over the Nutella specialty drink at Ipsento - and what goes better with Nutella than some peanut butter? Eh? So I set out to make the Momofuku Milk Bar peanut butter cookies. I've only made two of the cookies from their recipe book so far, but I haven't been disappointed with either one. This peanut butter cookie has that special Momofuku twist. Before making your batter, you make a quick caramel and peanut brittle (probably the easiest peanut brittle I've ever attempted! - caramels really aren't as scary as you think people) that gets chopped up and mixed into the batter. Genius, right? Like, why didn't I ever think of that - genius. I know. My mind was slightly blown as well. And the result was just as impressive. I had one at lunch today and I haven't been able to shake thinking about when I can have another. Can tomorrow come already?

While I wait for tomorrow,  and dream about peanut butter cookies, share with me what has inspired your inner foodie lately, dear reader!


It's Been a While...

Have you missed me?

Life has gotten in the way a little bit too much again in this first month of the new year. But don't worry. I'm still here. While I'm still playing catch up, to tide you over, I'm including a hodge-podge of links and tidbits for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookie
This month is not only the start to the new year, but also the month of my birthday. This one was a big one. I was so spoiled that not only did my mom bake me the Flour bakery birthday cake, but I also got the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook AND cookie mix. So this weekend I made the compost cookies. All you have to provide is butter, an egg, and some pretzels and potato chips. The recipe begins with creating graham cracker crumbles - something I would've never imagined making for a cookie recipe. According to some of the reviews I read online, a lot of people who have made them at home have had some difficulty with the outcome being really flat crunchy cookies. Mine did flatten out a bit from the original ball shape, however, they weren't exceptionally flat or overly crunchy. For a first attempt, they came out just right - a delightful combination of salty and sweet. Just how Christina Tosi would want it. Up next: corn cookies! 

A new take on Pioneer Woman's Creamed Spinach
Another thing I tried my hand at this weekend (gotta balance out the sweet somehow, right), was making creamed spinach. I had a bag of spinach taking up space in my fridge which I had intended to use to make a salad. Instead, it endlessly sat in my fridge until I finally fated it to become creamed spinach. Not wanting it to go to waste, I set about making Pioneer Woman's version, with a few twists of course. Instead of sauteing the spinach in butter, I opted for a splash of white wine, also sitting idly in my fridge. And, in addition to the spinach, I added a sprinkling of roasted red peppers. I think my roux got a little too thick, however the end result was still delicious.

"The Trip"
On a random night in, I decided to have a date night with my Netflix. Ok, fine so this is the case less randomly than I might be willing to admit. Browsing through the new releases, I came across a film called The Trip. The description promotes it as a mockumentary about a foodie road trip, which is the main source of the plot, but as with most things relating to food, the inspiration is so much more than that. I thoroughly recommend it for a watch. If not for the element of foodie exploration, than at the very least for all the Michael Caine impressions or Muppet references. You just never know what can and will happen when two people sit down at a table together to enjoy a meal. The conversations, and dishes, are endless.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream - The "Super" New Collection
I can barely contain my excitement. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams has a new collection. The theme surrounding it is being sneakily described as "cake-saturated". While the flavors within the collection haven't been disclosed yet, just browsing the pictures on the Jeni's blog site will be enough to get you salivating. Think hand-piped meringues from the bake shop and brilliant colors achieved with all-natural food colorings (beet and black carrot powders). Does it get much better than that? No it does not. Try to resist - the new collection won't be released until Feb 3.