Monday, October 25, 2010

Just Say "No" to Ghost Cupcakes: Sage & Roasted Pumpkin Pesto

Folks, let's make it a point to avoid mislabeling food items this holiday season.

For instance: These are cupcakes decorated as ghosts.

Cupcake Project Ghosts

These are cupcakes that are supposedly ghosts, but are really little cupcake Klansmen.

NOT ghosts.

I realize this guys kind of blurred the lines between the two.

Damn you, Oogie Boogie!

But honestly, you can tell when a spade's a... slightly spectacular dessert fail.

So, to review...

Well done, Cupcakery!

NOT Ghosts:

I'll try and take a crack at them myself, but smart money says mine will look not so much like ghosts as much as Gleep and Gloop from the Herculoids.

And now, your recipe...

Sage and Roasted Pumpkin Pesto

1 cup sage leaves, loosely packed (cleaned and torn)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper or red pepper flakes (more if you like)
2 -3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds, roasted and shelled
OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup loosely packed parsley

1. Just throw everything EXCEPT the oil into a food processor and start blending. Slowly add the olive oil into the mix, blending in short bursts. The mix will keep in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Corn Maze & Relay Success: Asian-Style Carb Loading and Earl Grey Tea Cookies

This past weekend saw Baltimore host its 10th Running Festival, an annual event that tests the skills of some of the world's top athletes as well as the patience of drivers and local residents trying to navigate around various closed sections of the city.

Last year, I had the "pleasure" of taking part in the half-marathon. Having taken a prolonged break from running since January's marathon, I opted to take it down a notch and run the anchor leg of the team relay - a mere 7.3 miles.

Now, those of you who have seen me know that I am a notoriously slow runner, but I somehow managed to finish in a decent time frame, averaging 12minutes a mile - probably due to the fact that I managed to finish uninjured this year. The only draw back was that I had to take the Light Rail - which was CRAMMED with loads of fellow, stinky, sweaty racers - to the nearest stop to my house. Which is added another mile or so to my race day activities. Still, I had a great time, and somehow managed to score a $500 gift card to Red Star World Wear. SWEET.

Friday night I was able to indulge in my favorite pre-race ritual: carb loading. The trick is to find something pasta-esque that isn't loaded down with things that will sit like lead in your stomach the next day (i.e., cheese, cream, a bottle of wine, etc.). It just so happened that Friday we were also celebrating my good friend Margi's birthday at a local sushi joint. Admittedly, it was a little difficult to refrain from stuffing my face with rolls and sashimi, but my udon entree suited me just fine.

Plus, I got some green tea ice cream out of the meal - not too shabby!

Post-race I hung up my snazzy new medal, showered, napped hard, and then headed out to Frederick to meet up with some peeps at Summers Farm to check out their corn maze, which is shaped like the Washington Redskin's logo. Seriously.

The Farm proved a bit more entertaining than the previous week's orchard trip, with opportunities to snack on just-out-the-fryer apple cider donuts, kettle corn, and hot drinks; bonfire spots available for rental; a petting zoo/live barn (home to the largest sow I have ever and likely will ever lay eyes on); and surprisingly steep and wedgie-inducing slides scattered among the grounds.


As for the maze, Tony and I were the first to successfully navigate our way out. I still think they're creepy ( *thank you for THOSE residual nightmares, Mr. Stephen King*), but we had a good time nonetheless.

And now for the recipe:

Earl Gray Tea Cookies (or biscuits, for my UK/NZ buddies) are my go-to recipe when I need to bring a crowd-pleasing dessert to a personal or public function. Seriously - strangers have hugged me after eating these things. The trick, I've found, is to (1) use room temperature butter and (2) try adding already steeped earl grey tea instead of water to the recipe. The only other advice I can add is to line your baking sheet with parchment paper to keep the little rounds from sticking.
Feel free to try out other tea varieties to suit your needs. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm betting chamomile would make a bangin' biscuit.
DO NOT use a slip mat. The bottoms will brown but the rest of the cookie
will take for friggin ever to bake through.


Tonight I'm visiting my friend and new momma Monica to introduce her little one to the joys of pumpkin carving. Or the joys of watching adults coo over you while you simply sit there and look adorable. Either way, I'm having pizza and a good laugh before the weekend.
Earl Grey Tea Cookies
(Adapted from Real Simple)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into pieces

1. Pulse together all the dry ingredients in a food processor until the tea leaves are pulverized.
2. Add the vanilla, 1 teaspoon water/prepared tea, and the butter. Pulse together until a dough is formed. Add more water/tea (1 tsp at a time) if the dough is not forming.
3. Divide the dough in half. Place each half on a sheet of wax paper and roll into a log, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
4. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap each log. Slice each log into disks, 1/3 inch thick.
5. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes.
6. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Apple Picking. Sort of: Savory Kale with Apples and My 1st Trip to an Orchard

One of the perks of living in Baltimore is you have access to the fall time harvest activities. Which I generally avoid like the plague. It's not that I have anything against vegetable patches or orchards, I just never had the overwhelming urge to visit them. I'm allergic to hay and corn mazes kind of freak me out. Plus, the idea of an entire famly fun outing centered on picking fruit seems a tad too Walton-esque.

But I found myself heading out to the Catoctin Mountain Orchard on Saturday anyway. Organized by my buddies Matt and Meredith (of Ex-Boyfriend fame. Friend 'em, people! You'll be happy you did.), I was assured that apple picking would be fun-fun and not church-"fun", as I intially feared. After a lengthy ride through Frederick, MD which included, among other things, a zebra siting (I kid you not), we finally arrived at the orchard...

...where we were soon informed that visitors were NOT allowed to pick their own produce. Nope! While you are welcome to walk amongst the apple trees, you are not to touch the bounty therein. Produce could instead be purchased at the store.

WTF, indeed, fine reader! If I wanted to go somewhere where we weren't allowed to touch anything, we could have gone to a museum. Any thoughts of freshly picked produce and hot cider went up like a dry leaf on fire. It was just as well, really: At 80 degrees and sunny, the day wasn't really apple-picking appropriate. Plus, I made a rookie picker mistake and wore flip flops to the orchard. M & M were in thick jeans.

Rather than mourn missed opportunities, we decided to take a quick walk through the orchard. Two other friends had joined us by this point, so we had a nice group as we walked amongst the trees, which were friggin LITTERED with apples. I had a rebel moment and left the trail to touch one just to see what would happen. (Answer: a whole lotta nothing.)

After some shopping at the orchard store (which was actually pretty nice) and gorging on cookies and such, we decided to explore the area a little further. We headed to Catoctin Mountain Park and went on a quick trail walk to check out the Blue Blazes Still, left over from the days of Prohibition. And totally haunted. Nah, just kidding!

Then it was off to find lunch. We settled on Cafe Nola in Frederick. Charming, good drinks (I recommend the Peach Palmer)- waaaaay to long on service, unfortunately. Still, the food was tasty. And, I was able to catch a glimpse of the local art scene available:

That night Tony and I got together with M & M for some apple-based goodness. Meredith whipped up an apple crisp that is still making my mouty water, along with some 10-minute apple sauce. Oh, and beer. Delicious, seasonal beer. Grab the Dogfish Head Punkin Ale if you can. Hand to god, it's like drinking pumpkin pie.

Later in the week I decided to have a go at drumming up my own recipe using the apples and kale I purchased at the orchard. The results were actually pretty satisfying - Tony even had seconds (and he can be hard pressed to eat greens). Add some vegan mac n' cheese on the side and we had one of our first full on vegan-friendly menus. Hoo-rah!

Tonight I will be doing the carb-loading thing at Sushi Hana here in the city, because tomorrow yours truly is taking part in the 2010 Baltimore Running Festival!

Yup! I'm back on the wagon. Or running behind it anyway. This year I'll be the anchor leg of the marathon relay, running as part of Team Kiwi, which I didn't name but can totally get behind. Following the run, I'm going to have another go at the fruit picking thing at the Summers Farm in Frederick (again) with some DC-based peeps. Apparently there's a Redskins-shaped corn maze....

See you post-race!

Savory Kale with Apples and Caramelized Shallots

1 large bunch kale, stemmed with ribs removed
3 medium sized apples (such as Empire or Fuji), cored, peeled and diced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp apple cider or apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil or butter**
pinch of salt & pepper

(**Note: If you're going to use butter, cut it with the olive oil so it doesn't burn. I'd also suggest waiting to add it with the apples.)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the kale. Blanch it for 10 - 15 seconds and then immediately remove the leaves and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Strain the kale and roughly chop the leaves. Put to the side.

2. Heat a large skillet or sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil starts to shimmer, go ahead and add the onion slices. Stir to make sure they are covered with oil and then add a pinch of salt. Continue to stir for 10 -15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium as the onions begin to take own a caramel-brown color. (Add a little bit of water if the onions start to stick to the pan.)

3. Add the apples, sugar, vinegar/cider to the pan. (Add butter here if you're using it.) Continue to stir the mix over medium heat for approximately 8 - 10 minutes, until the apples are fully sautéed.

4. Add the chopped kale. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and plate to serve.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Slight Food Advertising FAIL

I'm not sure how many of you have caught a glimpse of/lost sleep over the new Halloween Snickers' commercial, but honestly - what in the hell were those ad reps smoking??

Check out the horror here:

Friday, October 1, 2010

Who Likes Free Stuff? (Foodie Blogroll Giveaway Goodness)

Hey, people! If you like free stuff (and come on - who doesn't?) and if you really like it when said free stuff is food, then be sure to check out the Foodie Blogroll-sponsored giveaways from The Mowhawk Valley Trading Company and from Spices, Inc. Good luck and good eats!


Contest: Comment to Win a 10 jar set of Spices, Inc. Spices

Contest: Comment to Win a 10 jar set of SpicesInc Spices

Sep, 28 2010

Spices Inc

We are really happy to announce this giveaway with our friends from During the next 4 weeks, they will give away sets of their amazing spices to 8 lucky winners!

About offers a thorough selection of top quality spices, chiles, seasonings and dried herbs. Since 2008 they’ve been focused on providing great spices and seasonings for the health conscious who also live full lives and are constantly on the go! Spices Inc also has a growing selection of organics, salt free seasonings and spice sets.

The Prize:
There will be 8 winners (2 per week) who will receive either a 10 jar (1 winner per week) or a 6 jar (also 1 per week) spice set. offers 40 spice sets to choose from which make great gifts for the food lover in your family.

Winners of the 10 jar drawings will have their choice of 7 spice sets to choose from while the 6 jar winners will get to choose from 12 selections.

Free Newsletter and Weekly Prize Drawing:
In addition anybody can sign up to win free spices in our weekly drawing.

To order your own spices or spice sets:
Visit us at


1) Do the following (the more the merrier!):

2) Leave a comment on here with a link to your activity.

3) You also must currently be a current active member of the Foodie Blogroll having the latest version of The Foodie Blogroll Widget on your blog.

4) Spice sets will be shipped within one week of that week’s promotion end.

5) US residents only due to shipping restrictions.


Contest: Comment to Win 2 Jars of Mohawk Valley Trading Company Raw Honey

Contest: Comment to Win 2 Jars of Mohawk Valley Trading Company Raw Honey

Sep, 28 2010

We are really happy to announce this giveaway with our friends from The Mohawk Valley Trading Company. During the next 4 weeks, they will give away jars of their amazing raw honey to 8 lucky winners! Their honey products are delicious!

Their raw honey is unpasteurized, unfiltered, unprocessed, unheated, unblended and is available in 5 varieties.

About Mohawk Valley Trading Company:
The Mohawk Valley Trading Company offers the highest quality organic and unprocessed natural products they can produce such as maple syrup and raw honey.
Raw honey contains all of the pollen, live enzymes, propolis, vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, and aromatics in the same condition as they were in the hive.
The Adirondack Wildflower Honey is certified pesticide-free and they offer 2 types: Summer and Autumn.
The Prize:
There will be 8 winners (2 per week) who will receive one jar of Adirondack Wildflower Summer Honey and one jar of Adirondack Wildflower Autumn Honey, for a total value of value $20.00.
To order your own Raw Honey:
Visit Mohawk Valley Trading Company at


1) Do the following (one entry per activity - leave separate comments to increase your chances):

  • On your blog: Write up your own blog post about this giveaway.
  • On the giveaway page: Leave a comment to tell us what you would use this honey.

2) Leave a comment on here with a link to your activity.

3) You also must currently be a current active member of the Foodie Blogroll having the latest version of The Foodie Blogroll Widget on your blog.

4) Prize will be shipped within 30 days of promotion end.

5) US residents, 48 contiguous states only due to shipping restrictions.

Legal Notice:No purchase necessary to enter. Contest void where prohibited. Contest open to US residents of the 48 contiguous states. Contest open to members who are 18 years or older. Contest open only to currently eligible Foodie Blogroll Members. Restrictions may apply. Winners will be announced on 10/8/2010, 10/15/2010, 10/22/2010, 10/29/2010.

Why Raw Honey?