• Location: Minnesota
  • Favorite foods: Sushi
    My mother's pancakes
    Have I mentioned sushi?
    Popcorn (just not kettle-popped)
    Chocolate cake
  • Last bite on earth: Sushi, followed by pancakes and then chocolate late. Washed down with a nice red wine.

Win a Copy of 'Marcus Off Duty'

Oddly enough, it's a salsa / peanut butter hybrid that my vegan friend turned me onto years ago - it goes perfectly with pita chips!

Win a Copy of 'Baked Occasions'

Nut Goodie Bundt Cake - A recipe that I created that turned the Pearson's Nut Goodie candy bar into a bundt cake. It's the top request from everyone!

Win a Copy of 'Ovenly'

Soft pretzels covered in cinnamon and sugar!

Win a Copy of 'Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food'

Spag bol. That's spaghetti bolognese (and yes, I use the jarred stuff when I need it really quick - but I get it from one of the best Italian markets in the area, so I justify it to myself that way).

Win a Copy of 'A Boat, a Whale, & a Walrus'

Italian - everyone loves it and you can easily adjust for dietary restrictions. Ideally, I like a nice Caprese salad, followed by one vegetarian and one meat-friendly lasagna and some lovely peasant bread to sop up the juices. Finally, a nice espresso and tiramisu!

Win a Copy of 'Huckleberry'

Anything involving pumpkin - I am think especially of a nice, yeasted pumpkin bread with lots of cinnamon!

Win a Copy of 'Jamie Oliver's Comfort Food'

My mother's pancakes. Hands-down. I have the same recipe, but I cannot replicate them.

Win a Copy of 'Seriously Delish'

Pumpkin / squash anything!!!

Win a Copy of 'The Ginger & White Cookbook'

Chocolate chip cookies - the chewy kind!

Win a Copy of 'Paris Pastry Club'

Nothing beats a good bundt cake here in the Midwest!

Win a Copy of 'Sweet and Vicious: Baking With Attitude'

Decadent raspberry chocolate torte. So decadent no one has yet to finish a whole slice!

Giveaway: Win a Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer

Win a Copy of 'Mother Daughter Dishes: Reinventing Loved Classics'

Chicken Dinner Bars - it's a tradition that every time a family member has been gone for a long time, like my brother when he is stationed overseas, we make them for that person on their return. They are so addictive!

The Best Sweets We Ate in May

Growing up in the Upper Midwest, I have very fond memories (and a few pounds) of Dairy Queen. Driving up north toward the Canadian border to visit my grandparents and other family in the summers, every small town featured a Dairy Queen (or if they couldn't afford that, a Dairy King, a Dairy Whirl, etc). I blame them for at least part of my 100 extra pounds that I was sporting by my senior year of high school, or at least I blame the M&M Blizzards. I heartily agree with @ajax62 that Dairy Queen is worth mentioning, both in this string and also on a site like SE. No judging here; everyone has their own thing.

Bake the Book: A Lighter Way to Bake

Pound cake. Asking too much?

Cook the Book: 'The VB6 Cookbook' by Mark Bittman

Carrot and coriander soup!

An Open Letter to Serious Eaters

I have to agree with everyone regarding the removal of Talk. I don't use Facebook or Twitter or other social media much, because of privacy concerns and part of the appeal of having Talk on this site, is that it is directly tied to it, and not to every other site that we are on. I love the idea of refreshing Serious Eats, but Talk is one aspect that I would really like to have maintain its current state.

Bake the Book: Teeny's Tour of Pies

Chokecherry pie; it's hard to find, and really a full slice is just too big. But A "teeny" one would be perfect!

How often do you price compare when you shop?

My mother thinks that I am insane, because not only do I price compare, but when I shop, I know exactly what I want to buy and which store has it at the best price, on sale and off. Thus, a simple excursion to "the store" normally takes me about three hours start to finish, going to about four to five stores. I even know that certain stores in the same chain have different sales, depending on the day / week, so I plan to shop around when I will be in the vicinity of those stores, so that I can make sure to get the best prices on everything that I possibly can. There are some store clerks that think that all that I ever buy are cold cuts and lettuce, while I am sure that there are at least two clerks at my local Byerly's (a local, high-end chain) that think that I subsist on their artisan french bread alone.

Flour Types for Pizza Dough?

Simple Pleasures

@Tipsy: Oh, I love that contrast of temperatures. I love heating up the meat to put in a sandwich. Even if it's just a turkey or ham sandwich, I love that difference!

Also, I miss Maltese bread spread with creamy Laughing Cow cheese wedges, served with plain black tea in the mornings in Malta. Such a treat!

Suggestions for dessert tasting menus

Cookies are a great idea. You can make them ages ahead and they are so varied that you can make some that will suit anyone's tastes. I would suggest something like a biscotti for the coffee-loving crowd (chocolate almond?), then maybe a nice sugar cookie (you don't have to make the rolled kind, there was a post for a great recipe on this site a little while back that I love and uses sprinkles to brighten them up a bit) and then maybe a nice spicy one, like a molasses cookie for those that love something like that. Plus, whatever you don't eat on the day can easily be frozen (baked or raw) and you have them for later!

what are your favorite DIY kitchen hacks?

Does it count that I use my dishwasher as a storage unit for my weird baking and cooking pieces that don't really fit in to other places? I prefer washing by hand, so it was just sitting there, unused and feeling lonely, so I finally shoved some of my bundt pans and other goodies in it. Works a trick!

When Breakfast Gets "Weird"

I do that all the time, actually (that is, when my breakfast isn't a coffee). I like turkey and cheese or ham and cheese sandwiches, soup, leftovers (lasagna being a recent one). And, as @JoeAC noted accurately, pizza is always a good breakfast option!

What will you make for Easter?

Reservations. No one in my family (and there are only three of us here right now) can agree on a menu. My mother grew up with ham, which my father refuses to eat. I love it, but nothing else that my mother serves, except the rolls, which she never gives to you until after dinner, so that you can make sandwiches with them and the leftovers. My mother can't have salt, spicy or acidic foods, and my father is diabetic and can't have what my mother can. It's pathetic. I made reservations. Bonus: No dishes!

Simple Pleasures

This question occurred to me last night while I was enjoying a bit of a snack before bed...

It had been ages since I had something like this; so simple and so tasty. It was just some whole wheat bread, not even toasted, spread with really nice strawberry jam. that's all.

I know that we see and often make elaborate items, from grilled cheese sandwiches to multi-layer cakes.

But what have you had recently that it just simple, plain even, but really soul-satisfying?

What to do With a Lot of Whipping Cream

I accidentally bought far more whipping cream than I actually needed for a cake that I was making this weekend and I have no idea what else I am going to do with it, since I rarely use it, and am not a huge fan of whipped cream or mouse-type desserts.

Does anyone have an idea of a way that I can use it? I have about 2-3 cups leftover that I just don't want to waste.

Thanks in advance!

How to Top a Torte?

I am working on trying out some chocolate torte recipes (flourless, mousse, honey, etc) and I am interested in how to better top them.

Right now I have tried a ganache, but that seemed too thick and rich for a lot of people, and with the torte being so rich anyway, I don't want people to be turned off by that.

Does anyone have an idea of what I could use instead? I thought of a glaze, but would that be too thin, or would the flavor get lost? Even if it's chocolate?

This is my first real time making tortes, so I could use all the help that I can get (can you tell that I am breaking in a new springform pan?)!


The Best Cookie for an Ice Cream Sandwich

I am in the mood to make some ice cream sandwiches, but I want to make a variety of cookies for them, not just the standard chocolate chip cookie (albeit tasty, it does get boring after awhile).

What do you think are the best homemade cookies for converting into ice cream sandwiches? Oatmeal raisin? Peanut butter? Any ideas are welcome!

What are you giving up?

I just had a conversation with a friend / colleague of mine, because I wanted to basically apologize in advance for my future grumpiness. You see, I have (stupidly, perhaps) chosen to give up all sweets for Lent this year.

Now, I can have it if the sugar is naturally occurs in it, like fresh fruit, but no candy bars, cookies, cakes, etc.

I have done this once before and it was very hard, but I am bound and determined to do it again.

So, is anyone else doing something similar? Have all of the vegan recipes that Kenji posted inspiring a vegan Lent? or am I the only insane one here? :)

Amsterdam Eats

I just found out that I will be spending almost a week in Amsterdam (and possibly other place in the Netherlands) next month and was hoping that some SE'rs might be able to guide me to some good traditional foods / restaurants.

I know about Edam cheese, which I am really looking forward to, as well as stropwafels (which I already adore) and Dutch pancakes, which I grew up eating, but what else would you recommend? I am open to anything!

Thanks in advance for any guidance / suggestions!

I feel a little dirty...but oddly, not guilty.

I won a snack box off of a website about a week ago and it finally arrived, stuffed with amazing snacks from all over the world. Most of them looked tasty, like the Cadbury's buttons that I haven't had since I lived in the UK. Most of them were foreign, but of the sweet variety, and plenty of American snacks that I just haven't had in awhile...

...And then, I saw it. A bag of Chicharrones (pork rinds). I have never had them. They always seemed to wrong, and decadent and just gross to me. But, since I am always looking to try new things, I didn't immediately throw it our or give it away...but I let it sit there and stare at me for awhile...

...last night I broke down and opened the bag. Just to try a single piece. You know, just to finally know what the fuss was all about.

Well, readers, I ate the whole bag (albeit a mini one). One piece. Back to the couch. Okay, another piece. Back again. Finally, I stood in the kitchen and ate it all.

And no, I don't feel guilty, but I do feel a little dirty.

What have you eaten that made you feel this way? Fois gras? A double-down from KFC?

How to Fix my KitchenAid Stand Mixer

I just noticed this happening yesterday while using my Artisan Stand Mixer to help me knead some dough and I was hoping that someone on SE might be able to help me fix the issue.

This doesn't occur when the batter / dough is very loose or if it's on a very low speed, but starting at the medium setting or with any bread-style dough, my mixer head now starts to wobble every so slightly, and it's not encouraging. I thought that there might be a loose screw somewhere, but for the life of me, I can't find one on it that would affect that part (where the head meets the actual stand part).

Has anyone else had this issue? If so, how do you fix it? I assume that it's something fairly straightforward, but I just can't figure it out.

Thanks in advance!

Craving Replacement Fail

About six weeks ago I randomly found a display of small bags of caramel corn that were produced by a husband and wife in the area and sold in the local high-end grocer. Since I make it a point to allow myself to buy one new thing to try at the grocery store once a week, I decided to pick one up, even though it was $5 for the bag, which was about 8oz (in other words, a single serving for me).

Flash forward to today and I am so heavily addicted to it that I have been eating one or sometimes two bags of this miraculous caramel corn every single day. It's bad. I mean, bad. Total Addict, I am now - but it's *so* expensive!

So, last Friday, at my office in our convenience store, I bought a small bag of another (still locally-produced) caramel corn, which happens to only be about $1.50 (read: MUCH cheaper). I was all prepared to drop my addiction to the expensive stuff and scarf loads of this newer kind, but two bites into it last night and I threw the whole lot out. It tasted burnt and not sweet. The bits stuck to my teeth, unlike the other kind, and I was massively disappointed.

Has this ever happened to you? You become addicted to something, try to switch to something else (to save money, calories, etc) and just end up totally disappointed? And still hopelessly addicted to the initial product?

Talk About over-Engineering

I just saw this video and I cannot believe that someone out there thought that this machine would be a time-saver, a benefit to anyone or a good idea, period. I used to work at a place that made pancakes as one of its signature items and believe me, making them from scratch was about 100 times faster than what this machine is doing. But the seriousness of the video is just hilarious.

Just wow.

Watch it if you need to get a laugh today.

Recipes to Use Up "Failed" Rolls

So, I made some lovely dinner rolls for Christmas, but due to circumstances beyond my control / understanding, they are really tiny; as in, tasty, perfectly formed, but about 1/8th the size of a normal dinner roll.

Shy of donating them to Minime from Austin Powers, does anyone have a sweet idea to use them for? I have a *lot* of them, and I can't seem to think of anything except bread pudding, but no one besides my mother actually likes it, and I don't want to make something that not everyone will want on Saturday.

Any ideas are more than welcome and thanks in advance!

Diabetic / BP / Cholesterol Christmas Breakfast

So, given that we are currently in separate locations, my parents and I are postponing Christmas until this Saturday and I have offered to host them for dinner at my place. I love to cook for them and I have a lot of ideas, but I also have a lot of hindrances.

My mother has requested a "breakfast for dinner" theme, including potentially: pancakes, waffles, french toast, etc. The problem being that my father is diabetic and has high cholesterol and my mother has high BP and cholesterol. I have a waffle iron that works really week, and I can make pancakes with the best of them, but I am not sure that I have any good tricks for making them low calorie / sugar / carb, etc.

Does anyone have any good recipes for a breakfast-like dish that might fit into the above health categories? I have sugar-free maple syrup already for my father, but as for the rest, I am a little stumped. I have made low-calorie things like that before, but the texture never seems to work quite the way that I would like, and since it's Christmas (ish, anyway) I don't want to give them something that isn't really tasty, you know?

Thanks in advance for any and all ideas!!!

Variations on Ginger Cookies?

I love making ginger cookies, and am very familiar with the standard gingersnaps and gingerbread men, but I just got a request from a new colleague to make her ginger-flavored cookies and I wanted to see if there was something just a little different that I could make.

Short background, this colleague grew up in Communist Poland, where she says that there was no ginger, and therefore no ginger cookies. She loves them in all their forms, so she has left it up to me to decide what to make.

I could make either of the versions mentioned above, or even Moravian spice cookies, but does anyone out there in SE Land have any other ideas that I could try? I am totally up for something new and different, as long as the main flavor profile is still ginger, since she just gushed about how much she loved it (as do I, admittedly).


Surprisingly Impressed

Chalk it up to a random craving while in the grocery store, but a couple of nights ago I was wandering through the local store and spotted a display of Hostess products.

Now, I never grew up with these, as my mother was always baking and teaching me, so we never really ate "store-bought" goodies. I sometimes got some, like Soft Batch and Fudge Grahams, when visiting my grandparents on the farm, but that was rare.

I remember once having a Twinkie back when I was a kid, after pestering my mother for months about being able to try one, since all of my friends ate them at lunch every day, while I was relegated to the school hot lunch (gag!). When I ate it, I realized that my mother's baking was a lot better than that bland, pale Twinkie.

I have had a few over the years since then, always really quite disappointed. No flavor. Mushy or dry, depending. Stale-tasting for sure.

But last night, when I broke into the package, I was exposed to a rather pleasant not-quite-vanilla-but-close scent. Biting in them, I was actually impressed. I liked them. okay, they weren't life-changing or anything that I need to gorge on everyday, but I actually liked them.

So, have any of you tried any of the "New Hostess" treats? What do you think of them? Are they better than what you remember?

Which Would You Choose?

I am not sure that I have seen one of these in awhile, so since I was looking at the monthly cafeteria calendar a little while ago at the office, and noticed that near the end of the month they are running a special for National French Toast Day (who knew?), I thought that I would ask this:

Okay, you can choose one and only one. No gussied-up treatment, either. Just the traditional way of serving them is to be considered (i.e. maple syrup, powdered sugar, etc)....If you could choose one, and only *one* of the following to enjoy for breakfast every day, which would you rather?

1. Pancakes (American style)
2. Crepes (or "pancakes" if you are in the UK)
3. Waffles
4. French Toast

I have been thinking long and hard about this, and I think that my decision is based on the fact that if I were to eat them every day, these would give me the most "bang for the buck" so to speak, and also just be really tasty. Pushed to say it, although I *love* my mother's pancakes, I would choose French Toast.

I rarely eat it, but it's just so indulgent, but yet "healthy" in the sense that it provides protein in the eggs and if you use whole wheat or another hearty style bread, you can get some nice fiber and whole grains in, too. Not to mention that it soaks up copious amounts of delicious maple syrup or jam when available.

So, what's your choice?

Amazingly, I have never had it...

I was thinking about this recently while in a conversation with a colleague that happens to be addicted to something that I have never tried. They looked at me in utter shock and dismay that I had never in my life eaten a Pop Tart, despite the fact that I have nothing generally against processed foods or other guilty pleasures. Heck, I eat my fair share of microwave Kraft macaroni and cheese, so I can't say that I am all "high and mighty" when it comes to food.

But that got me to thinking about all of the popular things that I have never eaten, despite the fact that everyone else in the country / world seems to have eaten their fair share or more. So, here's a brief list of the mainstream things that I have yet to taste. What are yours?

1. Pop Tarts
2. Lay's potato chips (I just don't care for potato chips, especially non-ridge ones)
3. Taco Bell
4. White Castle
5. Sonic
6. Domino's (my family has been boycotting them since the early 1980's)
7. BBQ chips / crisps of any kind (I have never liked BBQ and therefore have an aversion to anything that might remind me of that flavor combination)
8. Until recently, Snickerdoodles (still don't think that I was missing anything, actually)
9. Pickles (I have eaten all kinds of pickled foods, but never actual, traditional pickles

Just the scent alone...

I had already eaten breakfast this morning before coming into the office, and was just passing through the cafeteria getting my first coffee of the day when I walked by one of the sets of toasters there and I caught the unmistakable scent of slightly burnt, buttered toast. One of my favorite scents ever. Okay, not everyone likes that carbonized smell to toast, but somehow I have always loved it.

Anyway, I had to stay up rather late working last night and still make it in early (chalk it up to having to work with the UK and Australia in the same day, every day - thank you time differences) and was really tired, but somehow, that scent not only woke me up, but calmed me and just made me smile and now I am in a much better mood than I was before.

So, does anyone else have that ever and what causes? Not the eating of the food itself, but just the sheer aroma of a food, be it toast, or something else. What food smells make you happy? Calm? Awake?

Was it me, or the puff pastry?

While cleaning out the freezer last week, I realized that I had a box of puff pastry that I had purchased over a year ago. I remember that when I first bought it, I put it in the fridge for a couple of days, thinking that I would use it, but then didn't get a chance, and thus put it back in the freezer, where it sat for the last year.

In an effort not to make waste, I took it out again last night, so that I could make palmiers today (since they didn't use a lot of other ingredients, I figured that if they didn't turn out, at least it wouldn't cost me a lot).

So, this morning I started it out, and the dough itself was gluey, almost. I still persevered, but ultimately, when they came out of the oven, they were gluey-looking, stuck to the base of the baking sheet, sticky and just all-around unappetizing.

Having never made palmiers before, my question is: Did I make a mistake in a) thawing and then freezing and then waiting a year to use the dough? Or did I simply not have any idea how to really make palmiers and they are actually a lot more complicated than the recipes suggest?

What to make / bring for my friend in Finland

As I mentioned in a previous thread, I am soon going to be going to Finland. I am fortunate enough to have a friend there who is going to be showing me around Turku (where she lives) for a day, and I wanted to bring her something to say thank you for taking that time. I will already be bringing some quilted placemats that my mother made (absolutely beautiful!), but I wanted to wrap something tasty in them for her, something that comes from me.

My mother suggested banana bread, but I have been trying to think of something that might be a) more unique (is in, she probably hasn't eaten it before) and b) something that won't get stale on the way there, since it will be a few days before I see her.

My initial thought was chocolate chip cookies. But I am open to thoughts.

Thanks in advance!

Supermarket Superstar

Has anyone else seen this show? Yeah, I know it's on the Lifetime network, but I actually got stuck on it, because it seems to be the perfect combination of reality TV for me - food and business!

For those that haven't seen it, each week a trip of home cooks / bakers, vie to have their product of choice be produced professionally for a national chain of grocers. There was a dip, a baked good, etc., episode.

If you have seen it, what to do you think? Somehow, I think that they didn't quite get the word out to enough people, because in the beginning they always say something like "these are the best three in this category" and then bring out three people with huge problems with their food that they need to tweak. Do you think that's just for the show? Do you like the premise of it even?

For myself, train wrecks though some of them may be, I actually am really into it and find myself trying to spend the hour thinking of what I would introduce in that category...

Copenhagen for a Day

Well, in an effort to maximize my trip to Finland, I will be taking an overnight trip to Copenhagen next month, too (turns out, it's cheaper and easier to get to than Tallinn - that's surprising!)

If you had only an overnight there, what would you say are your must-eat places? I know that they have "danishes," but really, I would rather have what's good, not what is cliche.

Any suggestions are very welcome!
Thanks in advance!

Do you Dress it up? Or Leave it Alone?

I read an article on Yahoo this morning stating that Cheerios, once again, has ranked as the healthiest cereal around, and becomes even more so when you add fruit to it (

This made me think back to when I was little and for a short time my mother tried to get me to put a sprinkle of sugar on my Cheerios as a topping, but I flatly refused. I have always loved it - it's still my favorite cereal and a go-to comfort food for me to this day - and always will, but I like it just plain. Nothing on it. No bananas or other fruit, no sugar, not even milk, most of the time. Just plain is good for me.

So, do you top your Cheerios (or other cereals, if Cheerios isn't your thing)? Or do you leave it plain? What made you start putting something on it? Was it a mother trying to make it go down easier, or add more nutrition, or did you just get inspired to try something new one day and found a winning combination?

Okay, crackers sorted - Now for the toppings!

Wow! I didn't expect to get such a great line of responses to the cracker question, but that leads me to two conclusions:

1 - People love their crackers, especially old-school ones like Triscuits and Saltines.


2 - There are myriad options for topping crackers, so now I want to know what your favorite sweet (it happens!) and savory toppings are for you crackers.

Me? For sweet, I like saltines with peanut butter (or really, any nut butter, like cashew or almond) and maybe a little honey. As for savory, nothing for me beats a nice sharp cheddar and a thin slice of ham on a Triscuit. Something about that combination just makes me drool!

So, what about you?

What's Your Favorite Cracker?

I got to thinking about this last night while I was looking at the vast array of crackers in my local store. There have been so many new ones that have come out recently that I like, as well as old standbys that I still love eat frequently. So, I wanted to see what everyone here loves, old-school and new. Since there are so many options, I will divide it into two parts: 1) Those crackers that you can easily enjoy on their own, without toppings of any kind and 2) Those that really lend themselves to spreads and toppings.

So, me:

1 - Better Cheddars (old school) and Nips / Cheez-its (I think that they are secretly the same thing)

2 - Saltines for soup and peanut butter and Triscuits for things like cheeses (cream and hard cheese included) and meats and other savory toppings.

So, what are your favorites?

Finland and Estonia in September - Food Ideas?

I am going to be travelling to Finland (mainly Helsinki, but also at least Turku to visit a friend) and Tallin, Estonia in late September and I will be staying at a really great hotel that has a full kitchen in each room.

I would love to get ideas from anyone who has been to any of these places on where to eat out, or what to get at the supermarket / local shops to cook at the hotel. I have heard that they have things like moose and bear, but can you get those at the local butcher, or would I have to have them at a restaurant if I wanted them?

What else would you suggest that I eat in any of those places? Special desserts / breads? I am open to all ideas! I have no definitive plans, so I am open to slight travel, too, if that's what it takes to get to a must-go-to location.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Fresh Food on TV: Weekday Edition

With all the channels on broadcast TV and cable—and the inevitable episode repeats—it's hard to sort out what's new or worthwhile. Let us sort it out for you so you don't miss anything worth watching. Times may vary with region; check your local listings for exact hour and channels. Recommended Shows: There's a lot on this week. First, a bunch of chefs are on the morning shows and chef Gordon Ramsay is on Live with Regis and Kelly and Late Night with Conan O'Brien Tuesday. There's "food porn" on tonight's episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and "sexy food" on tomorrow night's episode of Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern. Monday and Tuesday, respectively, 10 p.m. ET, Travel Channel Monday (February... More