About Me

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I'm a foodie and an amateur chef. I love to cook and to learn all I can about food! I believe that food is very powerful. It can bring people closer together, and it can also destroy relationships. I'm serious! P.S.- I can't stand doing the dishes!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A "Grown-up" Breakfast

A quick story for my fellow eaters!

After a few minutes of being awake yesterday, I noticed two things 1) It's still winter and 2) I'm hungry. I knew that my sister had gotten a waffle iron as a present, so I texted her (even though she was in the very next room) and said "We should make waffles, I'll make some syrup" (I didn't want to get out from under my covers until there was a plan).

I got down to the beautiful kitchen and decided what I would do. After a bit my Sister came down and we began to cook together. As much as this may sound as if I am being a sap (because I am)- It was really enjoyable. It had been quite a long time since we had cooked together, with me, being away for most of the year. I remember her making pancakes one Saturday morning when we were much younger. I helped by getting the plates, utensils, and juice ready since I wasn't very stove savvy at that age. I remember the warmth of feeling I had towards my sister as we ate, and the sense of pride in having "helped make" breakfast, just the two of us! (Not that I ever told her that, I'm the sap in the family!). Yesterday morning it kind of felt like that again (but with us being older and me being able to cook now...and with coffee!). I love my sister and I love to cook, so the fact that we could do it together was wonderful for me!

Okay, story time is over. On to the cooking!

Anyways, I had had this idea all night: I wanted to make syrup. So, I decided I would. I already knew how to make a simple syrup for the purpose of mixing into drinks (It works well when making large containers of brewed iced tea!) so this should be easy! (..and it was)

Simple Syrup (for use in drinks):


1 Part Sugar
1 Part Water
2 Part Sugar
1 Part Water

Combine sugar and water in a medium sauce pan. Turn heat on high and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until all the sugar granules have dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool before using.

For waffles, though, I figured the syrup would have to be a bit more thick than one used for drinking purposes but I didn't want to make it TOO sweet. I also wanted it to be more than just liquid sugar. For these reasons, I decided to use the 1Part Sugar, 1 Part Water ratio and add an extra one-third of a cup of Sugar (next time I may go with a 2 parts sugar, 1 part water ratio just to check it out), a few pinches of Cinnamon, and a dash of Amaretto.

I ended up making the most delicious and warming syrup I have ever tasted. The amaretto gave the syrup a rich almond and fruit flavor and the cinnamon added warmth and a bit of spice. After drizzling the syrup over top of our waffles, and sitting down to eat, it was like being kids again, just more "grown- up".

The Cinnamon Amaretto Syrup tastes amazing over waffles, and probably on pancakes as well, but I wouldn't hesitate to drizzle it over vanilla ice cream, or other desserts. I also plan to try making an Italian style soda with this syrup!

The thing to remember about Simple Syrup is that you can add almost anything to it for flavor! Try different extracts such as vanilla, or fruit oils used for cooking, try herbs such as mint, use edible flowers such as hibiscus or rose, add spice with things like ginger root or cinnamon sticks. Another way to have fun is by using different types of sugar; try brown, or raw sugar for a different taste. Store any extra syrup in a airtight glass jar in the refrigerator.

Just two warnings though: 1) If you are going to use an extract or oil of any kind: add only a drop or two at a time. Extracts are very concentrated and if you add too much it will ruin the taste of your syrup 2) While cooking Simple Syrup use only METAL or WOODEN utensils, wooden is best in my opinion. Sugar gets very, very hot and WILL melt any plastic utensil you use. If you need to taste test your syrup, dip a clean, dry metal teaspoon in and then out, wait for a bit, blow on it, and then taste it. Be careful as it will be very hot!

I love making Simple Syrup, because it is just that- Simple ...and so delicious! I guarantee that you will see more Simple Syrup recipes on this blog in the near future!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christmas Cookies!

Happy New Year fellow eaters!

Welcome to 2011!

It has been much too busy lately and I have missed writing. I've been home with the parents for about two weeks visiting with family and friends for the Christmas season. Along with the Christmas season, there has been much Christmas food, many, many Christmas cookies, and yummy Christmas drinks (mmm....Egg Nog and, of course, my Mom's Sorrel). So I have probably gained about 100 pounds which I have resolved to lose in the new year. In all of this I have not actually had to cook much for myself. I do miss it, but at the same time, I have to fill up on Mom's and Lucy's (my best friend's wonderful Step-mom is an amazing chef and always manages to feed me when I come over) food while I have time, but I'm sure once I get back to my little apartment kitchen I will be ready to feed the masses again!

Since I haven't cooked much since being here I will rewind to a Friday right before the "Holiday Rush" began.

So many of us get wrapped up in the rush, and how we're going to get this and that, how will we get where we are going, and how soon will we get there (which was my big worry). Yes, these things may be forefront in our minds, but take a moment to shut it off and think. Unfortunately, some who read this may be jaded enough to write this off as being cliche, but it is good to be reminded that the Christmas season should not be one big commercial about what we can get out of it, but what we can give, and who we can give to. It is even better to realize that not everyone gets to gather with family, in a warm home. Some people don't have a "Merry Little Christmas" or any kind of warm holiday. Those of us who are in more fortunate situations (even if we only have a little more ourselves) should not only be thankful, but we should try to ease the burden, or even bring a little cheer to those who don't have any.

On the Friday before I left:  My amazing friend, Crystal, (from The Mum Life) had invited me over to bake cookies with her (and a few others) for the parents and staff of the Pediatric Acute Care Department of UVA. We also made cards for the children who are patients there.  These people who spent Christmas in the hospital, staff members working through Christmas, children who are ill, and parents who are worried, were alone for the most wonderful time of the year. Nothing quite takes the chill out of spending Christmas in the hospital, but we could at least try! Crystal came up with the idea and got us (well me anyway, I may have been the only one hustling and bustling) to stop our hustle and bustle for a few hours and work on the cookies and the cards. We ended up with about 16 dozen cookies and 37 cards; a small token of our love and our wishes for their well being. We hope to have brought these people a bit of warmth and cheer in their circumstances and we wish each precious patient a quick recovery.

On to the cookies: Crystal  surprised me. She said that she was going to bake Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with no sugar added applesauce.
The applesauce took the place of a lot of the sugar that would have been used in the cookie. It also took the place of any kind of butter or shortening. I must admit that I was skeptical about these cookies, but they turned out SO good. They tasted great without being too sweet, and stayed rich and moist in texture. These cookies are great for anyone who likes chocolate chip cookies, anyone who has diabetes, and they are good for you. Yes, I said it, these cookies taste good AND are good for you!
I am posting pictures here but you can find the recipe here on Crystal's blog!

I made Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies. These are delicious and I love the way the cookies look especially around Christmas time, but, they are great for any time of the year! I adapted a recipe that I found online for my own personal use. I like to use 1.5 sticks unsalted butter and 0.5 sticks salted butter.
 Cranberry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

You'll need:

2 Sticks of butter
1 Cup of packed brown sugar
1 Cup white sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
3 Cups all purpose flour
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1.5 Cups White Chocolate Chips
12 Ounces Dried Cranberries


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F  (190 degrees C). Prepare cookie sheets. In a large bowl cream together the butter, the brown sugar, and the white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla extract.

Combine the flour and baking soda and stir into the sugar mixture. Mix in the white chocolate chips and cranberries. Roll into walnut sized balls and place onto prepared cookie sheets. Flatten top of cookies slightly. Bake for 8- 10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.

Allow to cool on racks.

Share and Enjoy!

Although I am late, I wish each person reading this a Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, and a Happy New Year!!!!