July 21, 2013 by Bake Up, Little Suzy
The good news is my little show opens in less than two weeks and we’re right on track. The bad news is my little show opens in less than two weeks and I’m plagued with the world’s worst chest cough. For better or for worse, I’ll soon be standing in front of hundreds of people at the Illusion Theater in Minneapolis, and I’m hoping with all I’m worth that I won’t be up there honking like an agitated goose.
Thank goodness for Air Supply’s Greatest Hits to ease my anxiety.
I’m comforted, too, by the memory of the last meal I prepared for Mom and Handsome Greg that I truly tasted—Crab Cakes with Orange Aioli—before cough drops became my primary source of sustenance and “mentholyptus” killed my taste buds. The crab cakes were exceptionally crabby—you could easily add more breadcrumbs and make more cakes. They were moist and flavorful with a crispy, golden crust, and the accompanying dip was a perfect balance of creamy mayo, pungent garlic, and bright, fresh orange zest.
Continue reading for the Crab Cakes with Orange Aioli recipe
Category Family and Friends, Fish and Seafood, Fruit, Garlic, Greens, Handsome Greg, Jalapeno, My Mom Rules, Onion, Orange, Sauce, Vegetable | Tags: fish and seafood,fruit,garlic,greens,handsome greg,jalapeno,my mom rules,onion,orange,sauce,vegetable | 5 Comments
June 16, 2013 by Bake Up, Little Suzy
I’m not exactly what you’d call a sports fan. I mean, sure, I’ll watch gymnastics at the Summer Olympics and figure skating at the Winter Olympics. But beyond that, I don’t know the difference between a double dribble and a double play.
I make an exception to my sports Grinch-i-tude each summer when Handsome Greg takes me out to see our minor-league hometown team, the Saint Paul Saints. Granted, the game itself bores me to tears, but I love that the game is An Event. I love the anticipation of the action, and getting to know the people sitting near us, and the hokey entertainment between innings, and the tiara-wearing pig who delivers the game ball. And I love baseball food—hot dogs, pretzels, cracker jacks—I love it all.
And so when I was tasked with preparing a springtime dinner for Mom and Handsome Greg last month, I thought, how can I elevate baseball cuisine?
I braised fresh bratwurst in beer infused with apples and onions, and served them in soft Kaiser hot dog rolls topped with Bloody Mary Ketchup and Rosemary-Roasted Garlic Honey Dijon. I served the brats with soft pretzels and beer cheese sauce, alongside a great, big platter of fresh veggies with homemade French onion dip. For dessert, I served homemade Cracker Jacks—caramel puff corn and peanuts in red and white striped popcorn boxes.
Touchdown! Or home run! Or whatever, I don’t know.
I first made Bloody Mary Ketchup from scratch, with slow-roasted tomatoes and onions and blah blah blah. I most recently tried the same idea with store bought ketchup, and it was every bit as good, but with far less work and time. So here’s the quicky version:
Continue reading for the Bloody Mary Ketchup recipe
Category Family and Friends, Fruit, Handsome Greg, My Mom Rules, Recessipes, Sauce, Tomato | Tags: fruit,handsome greg,my mom rules,recessipes,sauce,tomato | 2 Comments
April 14, 2013 by Bake Up, Little Suzy
Well, this is awkward. I suppose it’s a little late to give a heads up that posting will be sparse until my show opens in August…? Also, the dog ate my homework, and the check is in the mail.
I’m sure you will forgive me for failing to post a new recipe for (gasp!) an entire month, when you try this righteous salad. It’s bright and fresh, yet satisfying, with a perfect balance of salty, sweet, and sour. It’s so delicious that with one bite, you’ll forget entirely what a lazy slacker I am. The recipe is from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Do you have this book? You need this book.
The day I prepared this salad is pretty much a blur—I was so rushed making dinner for Mom and Handsome Greg that I barely had a chance to take photos of the meal. So I’m sorry to say that my sad pics don’t begin to do this recipe justice. Just another reason to pick up The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook; the photos are so beautiful you’ll have to resist the urge to devour the actual pages. The only change I made from the original recipe was to omit the tablespoon of fresh, minced ginger, because, as I mentioned before, I’m deathly allergic. If ginger doesn’t send you to the ER, then I suppose you ought to add it to the dressing as Deb suggests. She knows what she’s talking about.
Continue reading for the Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Miso Dressing recipe
Category Appetizer, Beans, Cabbage, Family and Friends, Garlic, Handsome Greg, My Mom Rules, Onion, Peas, Radish, Salad, Sauce, Side Dish, Vegetable, Vegetarian | Tags: appetizer,beans,cabbage,garlic,handsome greg,my mom rules,onion,peas,radish,salad,sauce,side dish,vegetable,vegetarian | 12 Comments
December 30, 2012 by Bake Up, Little Suzy
Happy Holidays, imaginary internet friends! And congratulations on surviving the end of the world. Now I’m off to Barnes and Noble to demand a refund for my Mayan wall calendar. Wish me luck!
In the meantime, I hope you’ll take another look at the 10 most popular recipes I shared this year.
S’mores Fried Ice Cream with Chipotle Chocolate Sauce
Asparagus Lasagna with Pancetta, Goat Cheese, and Lemon
Baked Churros with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche
Loaded Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Cinnamon Roll Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies
Toffee Cashew Cookies
Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Pie Crust Crackers
Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich
And the most popular recipe of 2012:
Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Here’s to a delicious (and gooey) new year!
Category Asparagus, Bread, Breakfast, Cake, Caramel, Carrots, Celery, Chicken, Chocolate, Cookies, Corn, Dessert, Family and Friends, Fruit, Garlic, Green Beans, Grilled Cheese, Handsome Greg, Ice Cream, Jalapeno, Lemon, My Mom Rules, No Cheese Left Behind, Nuts, One-Dish Meals, Onion, Pasta, Peas, Pork, Potato, Professor Meowington, Recessipes, Sandwich, Sauce, Soup, Spread, Tomato, Turkey, Vegetable, Vegetarian | Tags: asparagus,bread,breakfast,cake,caramel,carrots,celery,chicken,chocolate,cookies,corn,dessert,fruit,garlic,green beans,handsome greg,ice cream,jalapeno,lemon,my mom rules,no cheese left behind,nuts,one-dish meals,onion,pasta,peas,pork,potato,professor meowington,recessipes,sandwich,sauce,soup,spread,tomato,turkey,vegetable,vegetarian | 2 Comments
November 28, 2012 by Bake Up, Little Suzy
It’s embarrassing how much time I spend thinking about recipes I want to try. I’ll start with the germ of an idea (say, a pear dessert for Mom’s birthday dinner). Then I’ll spend weeks – maybe months – considering the options: pear tart, pear cobbler, pear cake, pear sorbet… And when I finally decide on the perfect recipe, I abandon the idea entirely because I’m terrified of making a mistake. (Yeah, I never said my process was a healthy one.)
In this case, the paralyzing fear was invoked by the menace of homemade caramel sauce—it’s the easiest thing in the world to ruin. I think if I ever get around to recording another CD, it’ll be called Ways to Ruin Caramel, with forlorn country ballads like “Too Runny,” “Too Hard,” “Bitter and Scorched,” and “Grains of Sand.”
It took no less than three glasses of cheap wine for me to face my caramelized fear, and I’m so drunk—I mean, I’m so happy that I did! This caramel sauce is the perfect texture (creamy but not too thick), with the subtlest bite of sea salt and just enough booze. *hiccup*
The other components of the recipe – poached pears, sweetened mascarpone, flaky puff pastry, and toasted pistachios—are a cinch to prepare, yet every bit as delicious as the bourbon caramel.
Continue reading for the Poached Pear Napoleons with Bourbon Caramel Sauce recipe
Category Caramel, Dessert, Family and Friends, Fruit, Fruit Desserts, Lemon, My Mom Rules, No Cheese Left Behind, Nuts, Pear, Spread, Vegetarian | Tags: caramel,dessert,fruit,fruit desserts,lemon,my mom rules,no cheese left behind,nuts,pear,spread,vegetarian | 14 Comments
May 28, 2012 by Bake Up, Little Suzy
It was a dark and stormy summer night. The rain beat against the windows and a vulgar blaze of lightening tore open the night sky. Full of green chile enchiladas and cocktails, Mom, Handsome Greg, Professor Meowington, and I gathered in a circle on the living room floor, passing the flashlight and sharing ghost stories (like that one about the young couple whose car breaks down during a storm when there’s a serial killer on the loose.)
Another chorus of baritone thunder sang through the quiet, and I returned to the kitchen for my 2nd (OK, 4th) vodka lemonade. A blood-curdling scream escaped my throat as my eyes fixed on a most horrifying sight: my toasted marshmallow ice cream balls, carefully coated in two layers of graham cracker crumbs had been left on top of the refrigerator to melt in the summer heat. Nnnnooooooooooo!
The flaccid, lifeless ice cream balls squished under my finger. I threw them back in the freezer, and wondered, who could’ve done such a thing? Who’d been in my kitchen? Oh, my god! The ice cream killer was inside the house.
As it turns out, Handsome Greg left our dessert on top of the fridge when he got out the ice for the last round of drinks. Actually, he was a dead giveaway; Handsome Greg is the only one of us tall enough to reach something above the refrigerator. And the ice cream balls were saved in the nick of time. They hardened up in the freezer as the oil was heating and the chocolate was softening and the thunder was thundering.
Handsome Greg was forgiven, and we all enjoyed a ridiculous and delicious dessert.
In light of my happy ending, I suggest you host a slumber party, tell ghost stores, and fry up some ice cream of your own. You’ll break through the crispy graham cracker coating and toasted marshmallow ice cream will ooze out. Then drag it through the smoky chocolate sauce, and you will have constructed a perfect homage to s’mores in a single, hot-and-cold, campfire-smoky, crunchy-creamy bite.
And all without anyone getting killed and left hanging from a tree branch making thumping noises on the roof of your ‘87 Acura.
Continue reading for the S’mores Fried Ice Cream with Chipotle Chocolate Sauce recipe
Category Chocolate, Dessert, Family and Friends, Handsome Greg, Ice Cream, My Mom Rules, Professor Meowington, Sauce, Vegetarian | Tags: chocolate,dessert,handsome greg,ice cream,my mom rules,professor meowington,sauce,vegetarian | 10 Comments
May 9, 2012 by Bake Up, Little Suzy
Whew! Thirty posts in thirty days – I made it through National Grilled Cheese Month. And though I made some delicious discoveries (Cinnamon Roll Grilled Cheese, anyone?), I’m a little cheesed out. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m ready for bright, fresh spring flavors. And some roughage.
I originally made this dish for Mom and Handsome Greg as part of an Argentinian-inspired meal that began with corn and bacon empanadas and ended with baked churros, cinnamon ice cream, and homemade dulce de leche (recipes coming soon, I promise!).
For our main course, we enjoyed crispy romaine leaves filled with luscious summer salad and tender grilled chicken, and kissed with garlicky parsley pesto. Fresh and bright, hearty but not heavy.
Continue reading for the Grilled Lime Chicken Lettuce Boats recipe
Category Avocado, Chicken, Cucumber, Family and Friends, Fruit, Garlic, Greens, Handsome Greg, Lime, My Mom Rules, Salad, Sauce, Tomato, Vegetable | Tags: avocado,chicken,cucumber,fruit,garlic,greens,handsome greg,lime,my mom rules,salad,sauce,tomato,vegetable | 16 Comments
March 19, 2012 by Bake Up, Little Suzy
Big news, imaginary internet people: I’m having the best week ever!
After eight long months of unemployment, as of this morning I have a job.
I’m the newest member of the marketing team at Free Spirit Publishing, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Everyone I’ve met there over the course of the three (count ‘em, three!) interviews feels like a friend already, and they (we!) do really important work – publishing books on positive youth development and resources for kids and teens.
I start in two weeks, so I guess I’d better get used to waking up before Days of Our Lives.
And there’s another reason I’m on cloud nine these days. I made an Argentinian-inspired dinner for Mom and Handsome Greg on Saturday night, and the corn empanadas with orange-infused honey were – gosh, can I even say it? – the best thing I’ve ever made.
I don’t like to play favorites, and that’s a really big thing to say, but these empanadas with their sweet, sticky sauce deserve the accolades.
The combination of flavors and textures – sweet, succulent corn, biting peppers and onions, salty bacon, gooey cheese, bright cilantro, crispy fried dough, and floral, citrusy honey – absolutely warrants my blatant abuse of tired adjectives.
There was much more orange honey than needed for the 12 empanadas, and it’s been a treat finding other things (besides a spoon) off of which to lick it. For starters, Mom’s popovers:
Continue reading for the recipe for Corn and Bacon Empanadas with Orange-Infused Honey Drizzle
Category Appetizer, Corn, Dumplings, Family and Friends, Fruit, Handsome Greg, Jalapeno, My Mom Rules, No Cheese Left Behind, Onion, Orange, Pork, Recessipes, Sauce, Side Dish, Vegetable | Tags: appetizer,corn,dumplings,fruit,handsome greg,jalapeno,my mom rules,no cheese left behind,onion,orange,pork,recessipes,sauce,side dish,vegetable | 31 Comments
March 4, 2012 by Bake Up, Little Suzy
Every year for as long as I can remember, Mom and I make a trip out to Shakopee to get our nerd on at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. No, we don’t dress up in corsets and snoods, but we thoroughly enjoy the brave souls who do.
As soon as we arrive, we make a careful plan for the day. We see all our favorite acts – the Elizabethan Syngers (yes, with a Y), the Fandazzi Fire-Eaters, and the dulcimer player Mom has a crush on – and in between performances we admire the lovingly-crafted artisan wares. Then we eat tempura veggies and sip cheap red wine from ye olde plastic cups.
At the end of the day, when we’re full and tired and covered in dust, we make a final stop to buy a treat for the road at my very favorite booth, The King’s Nuts (ba-dum ching). As much as I enjoy Pearson’s classic salted nut roll, the pre-made treat languishing in a vending machine for who-knows-how-long simply can’t compete with the King’s fresh, handmade confection – tender nougat dipped in soft caramel and rolled in salty-sweet cashews.
One recent snowy afternoon, I was dreaming of sunny days at Ren Fest, when I was overwhelmed by a craving for the King’s sweet, tender, salty nuts. Why are you snickering?
I was considering a run to the gas station for a candy bar, when I remembered the toffee chips and cashews in the pantry. An hour later, I was pulling crispy-chewy cookies from the oven. I folded a warm cookie in half in my hands, and it broke along the curvy salted borders of the cashews. The sticky toffee bits fought to keep the two halves together.
Craving satisfied; crisis averted.
Continue reading for the Toffee Cashew Cookies recipe
Category Caramel, Cookies, Dessert, Family and Friends, My Mom Rules, Nuts, Vegetarian | Tags: caramel,cookies,dessert,my mom rules,nuts,vegetarian | 31 Comments
February 26, 2012 by Bake Up, Little Suzy
Lasagna terrifies me.
For years, I dreamed of re-creating the Italian comfort classic in my kitchen, but I was always scared off by the many potential pitfalls. It’s too dry. It’s too soupy. The noodles are undercooked. The noodles are mush. The noodles are stuck together in a giant starch-bomb. Who are these kitchen acrobats willing to walk the cheesy Cirque du Soleil tight-rope of perfectly baked lasagna?
Well, I know of one lasagna superhero, and she’s been the greatest deterrent of all to my taking on lasagna. It’s my mom. She makes lasagna once a year for Christmas dinner, and it’s outstanding. Her take on the classic lasagna is hearty and packed with flavor, and it comes out perfectly every time.
I just can’t compete with that. It seemed pointless to attempt a classic lasagna knowing it would never measure up to Mom’s. So I decided the only way I could bake a lasagna that didn’t leave me feeling dead inside would be to take it in an entirely different direction.
I knew I wanted to nix the traditional red meat sauce and use a béchamel punched up with tangy goat cheese instead. Then I held a series of vigorous auditions in the produce department, and after much deliberation, ultimately cast asparagus, lemon, and thyme as the leads. Diced, sautéed pancetta plays a salty, supporting role. (Sorry, I’m watching the Oscars.)
The resulting lasagna is almost as delicious as Mom’s, but could not be more different. It’s really the perfect dinner for a late February evening, when I’m still craving winter’s creamy comfort foods, but I’m ready for bright, fresh flavors. The tender asparagus and sunshiny lemon zest reach out from under a velvet blanket of cheese and pasta to invite springtime to stay for dinner.
Continue reading for the Asparagus Lasagna with Pancetta, Goat Cheese, and Lemon recipe
Category Asparagus, Family and Friends, Fruit, Garlic, Lemon, My Mom Rules, No Cheese Left Behind, Pasta, Pork, Vegetable | Tags: asparagus,fruit,garlic,lemon,my mom rules,no cheese left behind,pasta,pork,vegetable | 26 Comments