Archive for the ‘cookbooks’ Category

cinnamon roll joy

Ok, so I might have had two of these for breakfast this morning:


Every Saturday, Andrew and I do a special breakfast together, and I usually keep what I’m going to make a surprise. This morning, it was cinnamon rolls from Joy the Baker’s cookbook. Susy gifted the book to me last year and every time I open it I want to bake my way through it, a la ‘Julie and Julia.’ Seriously, everything in the book is mouthwatering.

Let’s just say these were a hit, filled with a cinnamon, sugar, maple syrup mixture with chopped pecans and golden raisins. The gooey liquid was bubbling away as I pulled them out of the oven.  The picture above was taken before they were iced; I actually incorporated Pioneer Woman’s addition of maple flavor into the milk and powdered sugar icing.

*Note: I’ve been using PW’s cinnamon roll recipe since I got her cookbook awhile ago.  They are amazing and wonderful and to die for.  Her recipe also makes about 50, but she offers helpful freezing directions, so it’s all good.

The best part: the other half of the cinnamon rolls are in the freezer, just waiting to be devoured another day :)

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quite a collection

I took this photo for a friend after she and I had talked cookbooks and I raved about how everything I’ve ever made out of these has been fantastic.


(Can you tell I’m a little OCD and that they have to be in rainbow-order AT ALL TIMES?  My mug collection is like that, too. I can’t stop myself from rearranging them each time I empty the dishwasher.)

Cookbooks that can double as decor!  Genius.

Anyway, just thought I’d share.  Whether you’re a beginner or advanced, into gourmet food or just good home cookin’, look no further than the Barefoot Contessa.  Each one reads like a book (at least they do to me) and the wealth of information I’ve gleaned is unreal.  She’s taught me how to steam potatoes, cook steak and get the chocolatey-est chocolate flavor ever.  Seriously, everything I’ve learned about cooking has been from the Food Network and Ina Garten herself.  She is my hero.

So, if you’re so inclined, go out and grab one for your collection today…or all eight.

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This post was originally supposed to just be about Mr. Nye’s birthday get-together (which was Sunday afternoon), but so much has happened since then!  Note: This post is in no way chronological.

(Edited to add:  Yet again, I’ve delayed a day…  It’s now Saturday morning and mom arrived last night to visit.  We already made a Bed, Bath and Beyond run for a couple small items–blast!  Andrew took my coupons in the Pilot on his trip to Ohio this weekend–and are planning lots of house-y things today.  We’ve already reorganized my small kitchen appliances and it’s not even 10 a.m.)

And speaking of the Nye’s…  I took Hadrian on his first walk in the village yesterday–I can’t believe it’s taken almost a week–to their house to stop by their yard sale.  I walked away with a well-loved cookbook of  Mrs. Nye’s in which she marked some muffin recipes.  Those are always the best kind to have–the marked-up and splattered ones.

Getting him in the shot was surprisingly difficult…


…and this is what you see when you round the park (which is across the street) on your way to the Nyes’ house.

What a beautiful view!  I started off in a sweatshirt (can you believe you can wear sweats and pants here in summer?!  I LOVE IT.)

In other news, we put our bed together.  (I use “we” loosely here; I mostly watched.)  And in true pet-fashion, Hadrian had to be in the middle of everything.  We had to force him out of the bed so Andrew could finish putting the slats in!

Check out this pint glass.  I LOVE pint glasses with fun logos and things, except that I need to curb my habit of ‘collecting’ things I love; my mug, glass, scarf and Le Creuset collections are getting dangerously large…

Anyway, I bought two of these at Hallmark (I much rather would have liked to have found them at some neat store or Goodwill or something, but oh well, Hallmark does have cute stuff) LAST SUMMER almost as soon as we moved into the hotel.  I couldn’t bear to break them out until we were in our “forever home,” so they’ve been living in a paper bag shoved in a bin ever since.

I busted them out the other night as we ate leftover pizza and celebrated getting both the extra fridge and freezer into the basement.  (There I go again with this “we” business; I had no part in that victory.  Andrew, his dad, and a couple other engineer friends from Moog graciously helped move our appliances this past week.)  And a victory it was!  They had to take the doors off both of them, plus the basement door AND doorframe, and even get a special tool.  But I’m happy with them in the basement, which is all that matters :)

Now, onto the party!!

We’ve been ‘adopted’ by the Nyes, especially since Alex had to go and move to Pittsburgh, just as we moved back to EA.  We find ourselves over there once every week or two–invited or not–and Mrs. Nye force-feeds us homemade cookies and Kone King ice cream she keeps stocked in the freezer.  We have it rough, I know.

So, when we heard Alex would be in town for his dad’s birthday and that his little get-together would be Sunday afternoon–as in, the Sunday we were in the middle of moving–there was no question we’d be taking a break to attend.  These celebrations are always ‘intimate’ affairs–late lunches in which family (immediate, cousins and grandma) and Andrew and I–crowd into the eat-in kitchen.  This time we feasted on steak, pork, potatoes, green beans, rolls and fruit.

I know posting this picture of Andrew is dangerous–what with the Nye boys being loyal readers and all–but I had to.  Let’s just hope it doesn’t end up on a blanket!

We sang and Mr. Nye blew out his candles before we enjoyed some of the best chocolate cake (or should I say best icing) I’ve had in awhile.  Mrs. Nye, I’m (almost) ashamed to admit that I single-handedly ate all the leftover cake you sent home with us…in one sitting.  Do you have more?  I might need some soon.

And the event wouldn’t be complete without one of Adam’s ‘Andrew creations.’  This time, Andrew’s blanket presided over us, hanging from an upper window, akin to a poster of Kim Jong Ill or something.


You just never know what you’re gonna get with Adam.  You just never know.

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Or, “the year of the personalized presents.”  Or, “Holly is loved.”  Or, “…and this year’s theme is: GINGER!”

You get the picture.

I opened the pile of boxes the mailman has been bringing for the last week or so the other night, and there was no way to anticipate the amount of love those cardboard walls contained.

-a sparkly beaded necklace with color blocks of clear, silver and two shades of blue; I can’t wait to dress up and go to dinner wearing it

-teal running socks and tie-dyed sports bra, from a friend who listens (and who put together an incredibly thoughtful gift with four ‘themes,’ all beginning with ‘F:’ food, fitness, friendship and faith)

Joy the Baker‘s cookbook, which I desperately wanted to buy the moment it was released a few months ago because the story of how she baked sweet potato pies with her dad touched my heart (it also features her on the cover, in a 50’s dress with tattoos on her shoulder, which something inside me just loves)

-an assortment of dark chocolate, some with fun fillings like orange and ginger and some without

-what looks like a lifetime supply of ginger candies from multiple sources (gosh, I must talk about ginger more than I thought?), including THREE tins of ginger Altoids, straight from Texas

-Pumpkin Ginger tea, two of my favorite flavors all wrapped up in a cup of warm goodness for those fall afternoons I’ll be spending doing homework

-Larabar’s Coconut Cream Pie flavor energy bar, which I’ve been eyeing every time I go grocery shopping since Wegmans stocks that one in the checkout line with all the candy bars and it CALLS TO ME EVERY TIME–how did my running partner know??

-two red and dark teal/green wall hangings, one featuring a pineapple and one with cherries, which made me long for a house in which to hang them

-various kitchen gadgets, from the cutest little chalkboard tiles on which to write dish names or guests’ names for entertaining, to beautiful metal measuring spoons decorated with designs of food

-flowers sent from a girlfriend from college that are colorful and beautiful and remind me how long it’s been since I’ve had fresh flowers in the house

-a beautiful orange scarf with tassels on the end, which complements my collection quite well–of all the colors and patterns I already have, orange wasn’t one of them

-two devotionals, which will come in handy since Made to Crave is (sadly) coming to an end this week

-a giftcard to Boden, which arrived in its own beautiful package and is my new favorite clothier (except that I own NOTHING from them so far), from the least likely source–just check out their website–can’t you just see me in everything they have or what?

-a giftcard for a massage that I am COUNTING THE DAYS until I can redeem!

-peanut butter-flavored Gu for long runs, from a friend who knows her energy gels

So, basically, I’m a pretty lucky girl.  No, luck doesn’t really have anything to do with it.  God has hand-picked each of these ladies (and family members) and put them in my life for a reason, and equipped me to be a friend worth having.  I am so blessed, it’s not even funny.

(And this doesn’t even include any of Andrew’s family’s stuff; we’re doing my birthday this coming weekend since we were gone this past weekend.  Yay for more love!)

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At least this one has been…  Playing, and school-working, and running and cooking…   I have been a BUSY girl these last few days, filling my extra free time to the max!  So busy, I haven’t even had time to BLOG-gasp!

Let’s see…where did I leave off?

Well, Andrew’s long gone, but I can’t not post about the fantastic dinner we had Wednesday.  Foreign!

I pulled this recipe for Banh Mi sandwiches out of a Food Network magazine back in 2008 or 2009.  It has, literally, been sitting in my “to try” recipe binder (in the fish section), waiting for such a time as this.  Well, the stars aligned last week and I finally made them…

You can see the fish peeking out from under the watercress and carrot.  The seasoning for the fish was super easy and really good–I just sauteed coconut oil (which is solid at room temperature) for a minute or two, added some Thai red curry paste and cooked it a little longer, then slathered it all over the fish before broiling.  It smelled SO GOOD.  I’m keeping the recipe because I think it’s such a unique flavoring, and the asian sauce you make to go with it was a winner, too.

Andrew left Thursday, which was the night I made my hawaiian pizza.  Check out my solo dinner set-up:

Disclaimer: About a minute after I took the photo, I traded the magazines for the laptop and perused my usual: Kath’s blog, Facebook and People.com.  I call them my guilty pleasures.

Check out that perfectly browned cheese!  With a good red sauce, hawaiian pizza cannot be beat.  Although I don’t know that I’ll be using fresh mozzarella next time for pizza; it’s best reserved for caprese salad.

Thursday night was also the night I chose to clean the WHOLE house…kind of like a mini-spring cleaning.  I always clean when Andrew leaves…  The way I see it: the earlier I get the place cleaned up, I longer I get to experience a clean house without having to pick up after anyone else!  It’s been glorious…

The next morning, at 6:30 a.m. no less(!), Emily and I did one of our Made to Crave discussion dates over the phone.

Is it bad that I was eating at the same time I was discussing a Bible study about CONTROLLING eating???  I suppose I should fess up and admit I printed out TWO cookie recipes from King Arthur Flour’s ‘best cookie line-up’ just moments before this shot was taken…

Also, note the “cookie-like” object on my plate…  They’re called “Anytime Cookies” and they’re from an online site called Nourished Kitchen.  I made them a day or so before Andrew left and WOW.  Loved them!  Super easy, SUPER healthy (no added sweeteners–just sweet from dried fruit) and the texture was great.  They’re kind of like a mini-muffin more than a cookie.  But at only 127 calories, they’re easier to have as a snack with some fruit or yogurt (or both) than something bigger or heavier.  I’ve shared them with some local loved ones (and Susy in her pre-half-marathon care package–tell me what you think!) and they raved.

Recipe is linked.  They use coconut flour and unsweetened, shredded coconut.  Coconut flour is higher in protein and fiber than regular flour.  Most grocery stores with a ‘natural/organic’ section should have coconut flour there, or in their gluten-free section.  That’s also where you’ll find the unsweetened, shredded coconut–the kind in the baking aisle is (heavily) sweetened.  If you absolutely can’t find the unsweetened kind, use the regular and perhaps decrease some of the fruit.  Or you’ll just have sweeter cookies, which if you’re not used to things like plain yogurt and unsweetened applesauce, might be a good transition for you, anyway.

OK, now that I’ve COMPLETELY digressed from my weekend re-cap…

I made this recipe for sweet potato and coconut soup, the recipe for which has been hanging on the fridge forever…  I knew I’d have leftover fish from the Banh Mi, and I thought a coconut-flavored soup would be perfect. PCC Natural Markets is a ‘chain’ of co-ops in Washington State and a friend from the co-op here sent me a link to the soup awhile ago.  Thanks Mary!

I roasted the sweet potatoes instead of steaming like the recipe called for–check out these babies!  Like dessert, I tell you.

Friday was filled with school-working, since I cleaned all night Thursday…  Chem lab to finish, two Micro labs to finish, Chem practice quizzes to prep for the actual quiz, Stats homework… Not to mention paying bills, random emailing and phone-calling, co-op blogging

Friday night I enjoyed my soup topped with a dollop (I love that word, don’t you?) of plain lowfat yogurt (to sub for sour cream, of course!), cilantro and chopped peanuts, paired with leftover fish, edamame and white wine.  As my friend Regina said when she saw the photo (I sent her a photo of my food–I AM that weird)…”Def not an Andrew meal!”  Nope, not an Andrew meal, although he does eat all of these things (points for him), he does LOVE any of them.

Saturday morning, I read the paper!  What a relaxing pastime…  Now I know why people sit and read the paper on Saturday mornings…  I’m usually up and going early on Saturdays, either the gym or early-morning shopping at Wegmans to beat the crowds (I like shopping so much I’d rather get up EARLY and go to enjoy myself than be rushed and crowded–grocery shopping, to me, is an EVENT).

If you look close enough, you can see yours’ truly’s byline on the front page, ABOVE the fold…(!)

I did hit the gym later that morning and tried a “punk rope” class.  It’s basically a circuit-training class with jump ropes, and while it wasn’t as high-intensity as it could have been, it was a nice change and a great time slot (8:30 to 9:15) for a Saturday morning workout.

I spent the afternoon with Carolyn bridesmaid-dress shopping…

…and we found a winner!  She’s liked this one from the beginning, and was finally ready to declare that this was it.  Ours will be black with a black ribbon, and Abigail’s will be black with a hot pink ribbon.  If you’re reading this and you know Abigail, you know that that is SO her.

I’d made plans with Regina for later that night (when was I supposed to get any of my Chemistry done, you ask?  I was asking myself the same thing…), but we didn’t know if we were going to stay in, or go out, so I decided to have something ready just in case.  Enter Triple Ginger Biscotti.

Yet another recipe that’s been hanging around for awhile… Not even sure who sent it to me…?  Susy, was that you?  They turned out well, but the recipe made A TON.  Should have halved it.

Regina and I stayed in and enjoyed out biscotti and tea after walking Hadrian.  So glad she was up for a walk despite the chilly temps; I’ve been thinking a lot lately (because of Made to Crave) about how EVERYTHING we do (socially, at least) is centered around food–meeting for drinks, dessert, coffee, lunch–the list goes on.  Now that the weather is getting nicer, it will be easier to meet up for more active activities like walks or runs.  Just something I’m trying to start doing to decrease foods’ ever-present status in my life…

(STILL chastising myself for not getting a photo of dear Regina…I’m such a terrible blogger!)

Sunday mornings are normally my run mornings, since it’s easier to run outside around the house than get to and from the gym before church.  Despite my late bedtime Saturday night–Regina and I were talking until at least 10:30–Hadrian got me up at 5:45 and I decided to go with it.  After polishing off some coffee, biscotti, the last Anytime Cookie and a banana, I headed out with Hadrian for our 3.4 mile loop.  I’d decided to do a long run (a.k.a. something in the 9+mile range for me), so after dropping him back off at home, I set out for my 7.4 mile loop around Orchard Park.  The stop at home was perfect; I was able to shed a pair of gloves (I wear two!) and add my sunglasses.  And since no one wants to run 10.8 miles, I added a 3-minute loop near the house, which upped it to more than 11.1.  Not an even number, but at least 11.  I was tired, but satisfied.  I hadn’t run more than 7 miles in a LONG time, so busting this out was good for me.

All that running done by 8:45 a.m.!  Still plenty of time to refuel and meet Andrew’s family for church.  I read my friend, Emily’s blog (a fellow RD-in-training here in Buffalo, not to be confused with the oft-mentioned Emily with whom I’m doing M2C) a couple days ago and she had a ‘toasted marshmallow cheesecake‘ oatmeal that I HAD TO TRY.  I knew it would be perfect post-run.

Yes, that is Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter melting on the top.  Deliciousness, and pure indulgence.  At least with peanut butter one gets a little protein; cookie butter is just dessert, people.  Also, I had to leave out the ‘mallows, I was fresh out!  But, since I’m not a huge marshmallow fan, anyway, (love ‘smores!), it wasn’t a big deal.  SO GOOD, I could have liked the bowl.  In fact, I might have.

After church and lunch at Panera with everyone, Carolyn and Ben and I headed to Target for some errand-running.  So fun to see what they registered for!  I treated myself to some new gym towels–mine were getting pretty ‘tired,’ for lack of a gross-er word–and some other things I needed.

LOOK!  The pineapple in action!

I packaged up every last piece of that biscotti!  Had to get it out of the house for my waistline’s own protection.  Note: this photo was taken at about 4 p.m. Sunday, at which time I had YET to start any Chemistry…  I had completely one practice quiz the night before, but still had two to go.  My procrastination drugs of choice: 1.) baking 2.) cleaning 3.) anything else that needs to be done around the house.  That way, I still feel productive while ‘wasting time.’

Oh, and I also changed out my purses for spring!  Goodbye my lovely green leather (but ridiculously heavy!) bag, hello Paris purse!  The blue striped bag was a Target purchase to corral all my giftcards and coupons, since the red bag is a bottomless pit.  Not a single pocket to be found inside…

Biscotti packed up…now on to Chemistry! I did a practice quiz, followed by leftover sweet potato soup and veggies and hummus for dinner, then another practice quiz.

After taking the dog for a brief, and chilly, walk, I sat down for the real thing.  Deep breaths abounded…

And I was handsomely, and shockingly, rewarded with a 100%!  Holy smokes!!  Seriously, I know I whine and complain about Chemistry, and while I have an A in the class, it’s still super hard and I never quite know what’s really going on with all those electrons and ions and things swimming around in solution…  Anyway, I’ve NEVER gotten a 100% on a quiz in either semester of Chem so far, so this was huge.

Except that it wasn’t.  The quiz took all of 15 minutes since EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM WAS ONE THAT HAD BEEN ON THE PRACTICE QUIZZES.  I repeat: I had the answers in front of me.  Seriously. I mean, on all the past quizzes there have been a handful (maybe 5 or 6) problems that matched up with practice quizzes, but never ALL of them.  My theory?  Dr. Barton rewards those who do the practice quizzes, because that’s the kind of guy he is.  Let’s just say I was in total shock and had to keep checking to make sure I’d taken an ACTUAL quiz and not another practice quiz.  And for fear that you think I exaggerate about how bad Chemistry is, this 100% will allow me to drop the 72% I got on the last quiz…

And it was a HUGE blessing, too!  The extra time I gained by finished the quiz so early allowed me to prep my breakfast:

Pioneer Woman’s Breakfast Bread Pudding.  It’s essentially a ‘breakfast casserole’ but less egg and assembled like a bread pudding.

I order to lighten it up a bit (and it is just me by my lonesome), I halved the amount of sausage.

I am, as I type this, enjoying a bowl of this and a pear for breakfast.  YUM.

Signing off now–whew, this was a long one!

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So, I may not be quite the ‘gourmet’ chef Andrew makes me out to be ALL the time…

…if you think THAT’S bad, you should have seen the other guy!  (a.k.a. the hunk of ORGANIC beef roast I bought for Pioneer Woman’s Carnitas Pizza.

(Actually, upon further inspection of the meat itself, it had only formed a nice ‘crust’ on the outside and was still quite edible on the inside–thankfully!  Otherwise, Andrew might have killed me.  In fact, I moistened the shredded meat with a little apple juice I had stashed in the freezer since our HOTEL STAY last year… Side note: I am my father (the pack rat)’s daughter.)

Apparently, leaving a roast in the oven while out of the house is too much for me to handle; not 10 minutes after we left for church I had a panic attack and tried to make Andrew turn around.  I suppose I could have done the math on the cooking time a bit better, and certainly should have added some more liquid to the pot before departing…

Anyway, her carnitas pizza (the recipe for which must not be online), piqued my interest from the moment I saw it in the book.  It’s a regular pizza crust–I used one I found in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (best one yet!)–with green tomatillo salsa, fresh mozzarella slices, sauteed red pepper and onion, then baked and topped with the warm meat and sliced green onions.

Let’s just say Andrew was on his 5th piece before either of us knew what was happening, but I suspect that had more to do with the crust than the toppings, unfortunately.  Or fortunately, I suppose.  I’m on the hunt for a go-to pizza crust recipe…could it be that the search is over?

I enjoyed the last two pieces for lunch today–YUM.  While I may not make the exact recipe again, PW does have a bunch of neat pizza recipes on her website and in her newest cookbook, and we seem to be on a pizza kick lately!  It’s the “best crust” hunt, I tell ya.  My favorite pizza, you ask?  HAWAIIAN, all the way.

And, just in case you were wondering about that pot….

…GOOD AS NEW!  Nothing a little elbow grease and a brillo pad couldn’t handle.

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Or dinner, rather.

(And yes, I know I shouldn’t end a ‘sentence’ with ‘of,’ but it’s not really a sentence, and it just wouldn’t sound the same any other way.)


This is what ‘cooking’ (a.k.a. piling things on top of one another) looks like in my house right now.  Can I just say that Pioneer Woman has a dream house AND a re-done ‘lodge’ with a potentially nicer kitchen than her own?  Seriously jealous.  Not that I ever want two houses to clean.  EVER.

So, I decided tonight would be ‘breakfast for dinner’ night since it was supposed to be sometime last week when we had no food in the house (does anyone else revert to pancakes for dinner when you have nothing else??), but it never happened.  I’ve been dying to make PW’s Lemon Blueberry Pancakes since they appeared on her blog awhile back, and when they were included in the new cookbook, I put them in the rotation ASAP.

Note the plate of pancakes ON TOP OF the yogurt maker.  (I also made bread and hummus today, in addition to yogurt–AND I had a class, AND swimming, and two dog walks, and two loads of laundry, and vacuuming–whoever wonders what I do to fill up my time, well folks, that’s where it goes.  Unemployed Holly doesn’t know how employed Holly ever made it.)

I can’t tell you how sick I am of the yellow light in our dining room…. And the tiny kitchen.  And the carpet…I’ll stop before I a) bore you, or b) start sounding like a whiny brat.  CAN. NOT. WAIT. UNTIL. DREAM. KITCHEN. WITH. NATURAL. LIGHT.

The reason I say P-Dub would be proud is because I also made canadian bacon and eggs with salsa.  Well, I eat eggs with salsa, Andrew doesn’t.  But since he didn’t even start eating eggs until we went on a backpacking trip in the Boundary Waters a couple years ago, I’ll take it.

I hate to admit it (I really do), but they were a bit anticlimactic.  Good, definitely, but not so amazing that I can’t wait to have them again.  Andrew said they tasted like a blueberry muffin and that the blueberry flavor overpowered the lemon.  I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about since he a) doesn’t even really like muffins (according to him), and b) doesn’t eat blueberry pancakes.  EVER.  He’s a bit of a purist; plain pancakes, vanilla ice cream, strawberry yogurt, no mayo or mustard…  Whatever he is, it’s BORING.  (But I love him…)

All in all, they were pretty good and I’m glad I have another serving in the freezer, just waiting for me to drizzle a bit of my ginger maple syrup on them…  Because ginger goes so well with both lemons and blueberries!

And, in case you were wondering if we had any more counter space to spare…

Nope, not so much.  Dishes done compliments of Andrew, who has become dishwasher extraordinaire.  Seriously, he does them in the morning before work as I’m packing up his breakfast and lunch, then he does them immediately after walking in the door after the gym as he dumps his lunch stuff into the sink and I’m in the kitchen making dinner, and then (if I haven’t gotten to them yet), he picks up after we eat where he left off while I was prepping dinner!  Whew!  WHO IS THIS MAN?

If you like lemon and you like blueberry, make the pancakes.  If not, make Foster’s Market’s Panama Pancakes…you won’t regret it!

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