Archive for the ‘Baking and Food’ Category

On Sundays, I love to spend the day in the kitchen…this weekend, Ghiradelli chocolate chip cookies were made, as were french radish, butter and sea salt sandwiches. I used a little of that fresh Amish butter we bought from the Dutch farmer’s market. If you’ve never tried this classic french pairing, I highly recommend you do…you’ll never look at radishes the same way again! Three of my favorite things in the kitchen are my little red tea-pot, the mason jar salt and pepper shakers (you can buy a set here), and the red carnations.  Aren’t those red carnations cheery? They were my grandmother’s favorite flower to give us as little girls, so once a month, I pick up a small bunch ($4) at the grocery store. They last forever and need very little care; every time I look at them, I think of her.

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On Sunday, the hubby and I took a took a trip to a local farmer’s market, where everything is either grown on-site or sourced from local farms. We brought home a small bounty of goodies for the week:

I love how the cantaloupe looks like crocheted lace, don’t you?

We plan on tossing those beautiful baby potatoes with salt, pepper and olive oil and grilling them to go alongside some gorgeous NY strip steaks. Fresh off the grill, we’ll top the potatoes with some fresh Amish roll-butter before serving:

What’s your favorite thing to buy at the farmer’s market?

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Yesterday morning, I was faced with this sad little bowl black, slightly over-ripe bananas. Normally, I would just peel them and freeze them for making banana smoothies, but instead…

…I mixed them with flour, brown sugar, eggs, oil, baking soda, and cocoa powder.

Then, I topped them with over-sized bittersweet chocolate chips, and baked those sad little bananas for 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

And out came twelve of these little beauties! I think I’ll warm one of these up for breakfast this morning…

Much better than a banana smoothie, right? This is, of course, a Nigella recipe, which can be found here. You are so very welcome.

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This week has been insanely hectic (hence, the lack of posts), so today I am looking forward to a little bit of down-time! I think I’ll start by knitting some bunny ears and drinking hot coffee…

…then maybe I’ll bake some gooey chocolate brownies with this Mexican vanilla my sister brought me back from her trip to Mexico.

Ooh, and maybe I’ll work on crocheting a few garden squares –  after I take some pictures of my shawl, of course. How will you be spending your Thursday?

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Last night, I made a couple of loaves of whole wheat bread to go with our lamb shepherd’s pie.The recipe is from the White on Rice Couple – if you like cooking food and looking at beautiful photographs of it, then you should definitely pay them a visit! The first loaf baked  little higher than the second, but I think it is because it had a slightly longer rise time (I was out running errands).The loaves have a beautiful, crisp crust…And a soft, tender crumb. Here is the link to the recipe, in case you’re hungry. I am going to go toast a slice right now, and slather it in salted butter and honey. Have a great weekend!

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The baking bug bit me yesterday, so I whipped up a batch of yummy buttermilk scones. They are so easy to make, and so very delicious when smeared thickly with butter and honey.Buttermilk, flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, sugar, butter, and shortening…I used an egg-shaped cookie cutter to cut the scones, then brushed the tops with a little egg wash before baking.  Today I may have some with homemade three-berry jam, a gift from my fantastic mother-in-law.This morning, I’ll be knitting the toe of the second hermione sock, so look for finished project pictures next week.  This weekend is supposed to be nice, so I am looking forward to getting out for some fresh air.  How about you, readers?  Any fun plans this weekend?

{p.s. Jill over at Knitterella just released her first pattern – The Smocked Slouch Hat.  It is totally cute – you should go check it out! Congratulations, Jill!}

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My sister was in dire need of both chocolate and cookies yesterday, so I whipped her up a little treat to knock out both cravings at once.

Any excuse to use the mixer, right? This cookie is an adaptation of a Nigella cookie recipe – it’s crisp and crumbly on the outside edges, but the insides stay soft and chewy, thanks to the oatmeal and brown sugar.

Who doesn’t love the combination of bittersweet chocolate and pecans?  I prefer using the Ghiradelli chips because they are so big and decadent…The dough is a bit dry and crumbly, but is easily rolled into generous, tablespoonful-sized balls.

Slightly squish the tops with the tines of a fork before popping them in the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until they are slightly golden brown.  And then, as my grandmother used to say…

Mangia, mangia! {Eat.}  Here is the recipe if you’d like to make your own batch this weekend:

Chocolate Chip and Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

{makes 25-30 cookies, based on how much cookie dough you eat.}


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 9 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line pan with parchment paper.
  2. Measure flour, baking powder, salt and oats in a small bowl, stir.
  3. Beat the butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy, then beat in egg and vanilla.
  4. Stir in the flour and oat mixture, then stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.
  5. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place on baking sheet.  Flatten slightly with a fork.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy! ~J

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{image via Oh for Cute at Etsy}

…I would totally try to knit something out of this vintage baker’s twine, wouldn’t you? Set of 5 vintage spools (that’s a total of 45 yds.) for $16 at Oh for Cute’s Etsy shop.

{Picture via my beloved Nigella Kitchen cookbook}

*Also, just kidding about the baked goods.  I made these really awesome Nigella brownies the other night.  And when I say awesome, I mean really awesome. {Watch her make them here.} I made mine with 1 cup of  Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips (in place of the chopped milk chocolate) and they were dense, dark and decadent. They must be eaten warm out of the oven with a very tall, very cold glass of milk.

If you are stuck home with kids because of the snow/rain/ice today, you can have these ready to eat alone in a bedroom closet in under half an hour.  You. are. welcome. ~J

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With Christmas just a few days away, things are pretty busy here around Casa Sorella – but I did want to pop in to share a few more Christmas hats with you.  This one is for my adorable nephew Jackson – he is a Jets fan, so now he can show a little team spirit when he watches the game with his Dad.    Instead of the 1×1 rib the pattern calls for on the bottom, I worked a chunky 3×1 rib.  I secured the pom-pom extra well, as he has already ripped the one off of his blue winter hat.  {I love boys.}  I can’t wait to see this on the little meatball’s head!This plain and simple cap is for my son.  He came home from school the other day (he’s 9) and said: “Mom, I can’t wear this Scooby Doo hat to school anymore.  The kids are teasing me – they think Scooby Doo is for babies.”  {Boys are mean.}  So I knit him a hat that nobody could possibly make fun of!  No pom-pom for this fourth-grade boy – way too risky.For Ben’s edge, I worked a 2×1 rib – a few rows in gray and a the rest in the blue, then worked the rest of the pattern as written.  Here are the details:

  • Pattern: Kim’s Hats by Kim Hamlin
  • Source: Last-Minute Knitted Gifts
  • Yarn: Cascade 220 Wool {for Jackson: Green -9430 and White – 8505; for Ben: 8555 – Blue and 8400 – Gray, all 1 skein each}
  • Needles: Size US 9 16″ circulars and set of Size 9 dpns.
  • Size Made: Jackson – toddler/ Ben – child
  • Mods: Jackson – 3×1 rib/ Ben – 2×1 rib

Yesterday, I made Nigella’s Girdlebuster Pie {how awesome is that name?} and some Snickerdoodles for the annual cookie exchange.  Today I will be making 6 lbs. of meatballs and 8 lbs. of sausage and peppers for our Christmas Eve party.  Things can get a little stressful with all the prep-work, so I’ve implemented a  “no complaining” rule for myself – no complaining about anything, not even how tired I am.  I got through yesterday without making one complaint and my hubby said he was very proud.  Thanks Joanna, for the inspiration! ~J

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This week, I’ve been working on getting things ready for Thursday. On Monday, I made pie crusts for both my Pumpkin Pie and The Pie That’ll Make You Cry, and yesterday, I rolled them out and nestled them into their baking dishes to chill for baking.

My pie crusts look all sorts of crazy when I roll them out.  After taking the dough out of the fridge to rest for a few minutes, I roll it out so that it’s larger than the pie plate, then, I carefully wrap the crust around my french pin:

Then, I slowly unroll it, draping it gently over the top of the pie plate:

It doesn’t matter how gentle I am, because it always tears, but that’s okay! Then, I trim the excess dough with a spatula and use it to patch any thin spots and tears.

Be sure to build up the edges of the pie crust so that it bakes evenly:

There we go.  These babies are waiting patiently in the fridge for their fillings, which will be made later this afternoon. I also piled up my scraps and rolled them out to cut little decorations out for the top of my pumpkin pie.  Once rolled – for some inexplicable reason – I couldn’t find my box of cookie cutters {!?!?!}, so I used a cheese knife to cut out some hearts.

The rustic look is in, right?  And since my kitchen was already a mess, I decided to use some ripe, black bananas to whip up some of Nigella’s banana bread.  Only, I ditched the loaf pan in favor of a muffin tin.  I topped some with walnuts and left some plain for those who do not like nuts.  You know who you are.

Once the pies are finished, I plan on doing a little knitting and relaxing…how about you?  How are your Thanksgiving preparations coming?  I’d love to know what you’re baking… ~J

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