July 2015 Calendar – Chocolate Whiskey Tart with Toasted Beer Marshmallow Meringue

Posted by on Jul 3, 2015 in Desserts | 3 Comments

July Calendar from Some Kitchen Stories


Smitty & The Girl

The Murder Mystery Year: Chapter 7

Last time… 


“I didn’t know we were coming to the house until we turned onto that long driveway. I knew it was bad because Dad started using his low voice with Grandma. But she was driving and we just… pulled up. She just parked the car like she came here every day and got out and went and rang the bell. And Dad was sitting in the car with me. And I just… I went after Grandma. The front door opened and she and I went in. I could see Dad in the car, just staring at the house.” 

Freddy cleared his throat. She wanted to tell him to keep going but there was no real need. He was lost in the memory now and he needed to say it all out loud. She’d seen a few victims, a few witnesses, go through this- once they started, they had to keep going. “We saw the lady, Sylvia, and her maid. They looked really surprised to see us. The maid kept staring at me. And then Dad came in. And the yelling started. There was a lot of yelling. And then, I don’t know. It happened really fast.”

“What did, Freddy?”

“Just.” He looked at her, his eyes glassy. “All of a sudden, the front door opened and my mom- and that lady was there.”

“Petula Mathers?”

“Yeah. And her sister. The tough one. And then everyone started talking at once and I just- I wanted to- I needed air, so I went outside to the terrace. And I was standing there and there was this noise-“

“What kind of noise?”

“I- I don’t know.”

“A bang? Or did it sound like someone got hit? Like when you hit your head on something?”

“The second one, I guess.”

“Where did the noise come from? Inside the house?” When he nodded, she said, “And you were outside on the terrace.”

“Yeah.” Freddy frowned. “And I walked into the kitchen and suddenly everything got real quiet. It was creepy. And there was this noise, I think it was a cat, and it ran through the kitchen and spooked me and I tripped on this thing on the floor, a purse or something.”

“A purse?” Clemmons frowned. “You tripped on a purse in the kitchen? But everyone was in the parlor arguing when you left?” He nodded. “Huh. Wait right here, would you?”

Freddy blinked. “Why?”

“Because I want you to look at some purses.” She patted him on the arm, satisfied to at last having found something to go on, no matter how small.

More Smitty stories

HAPPY 4TH OF JULY. S’mores for everyone!

The S’Mores Recipe Collection

S’More Cookies | S’Mores Pizza | S’More Pie | S’Mores in a Jar

Get the recipe for Chocolate Whiskey Tart with Toasted Beer Marshmallow Meringue below…


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Chocolate Whiskey Tart with Toasted Beer Marshmallow Meringue

Source: Adapted from tworedbowls.com | Makes approx. 3-4 tartlets, depending on size of your pan | Print Recipe



3/4 Cup of finely ground graham crackers (about 6 sheets)
1/4 Cup of hazelnut meal, or finely ground toasted hazelnuts (or 1 cup ground graham crackers)
5 Tbsp of unsalted butter, melted


2 Tbsp of cornstarch
1/8 Tsp of salt
1/2 Tsp of instant espresso powder
1/2 Cup of heavy cream (whole milk should also work)
2 large egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
1/2 Tsp of vanilla extract
5 Oz of dark chocolate (ideally 60% or more cacao)
2 Tbsp of whiskey


1 Cup of Guinness Draught
3 Egg whites at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/2 Cup of granulated sugar
10.5 Ounce of bag mini marshmallows


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place graham crackers in a food processor and grind until fine (or smash in a large Ziploc bag). In a large bowl, mix 3/4 cup of the graham cracker meal, 1/4 cup hazelnut meal or finely ground toasted hazelnuts, and melted butter until moist. Press into the bottom of the tart pan and bake for 10 minutes.

2. FILLING: In a small saucepan, combine the cornstarch, salt, and espresso powder. Pour 2 tablespoons of the cream into the mixture and whisk until smooth. Turn the heat to medium-low and pour the rest of the cream in a steady stream into the saucepot, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Add the egg yolks and continue to whisk, heating the mixture until it thickens and just begins to bubble.

3. You’ll know it’s thick enough when you swipe down the back of a spoon and the mixture doesn’t run together (this should take a few minutes). Immediately remove from heat and add chocolate and vanilla extract. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Last, stir in the whiskey until fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Pour filling into the graham cracker crusts and chill in the refrigerator until cold, about 30 minutes.

4. TOPPING: Place the Guinness Draught in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Let the beer cook until reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 20 minutes. Let cool.

5. Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the pinch of tartar and mix again until the mixture thickens slightly and becomes opaque. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Fold in the marshmallows using a large rubber spatula. Fold in the beer reduction. Pile meringue high atop the tart and brown with a kitchen torch.


Skillet Strawberry Cobbler with Cream Cheese Swirled Biscuits

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 in Desserts | One Comment

Skillet Strawberry Cobbler with Cream Cheese Swirled Biscuits

We are swimming in strawberries.

Skillet Strawberry Cobbler with Cream Cheese Swirled Biscuits

Okay, well, technically these cream cheese swirled biscuits are swimming in strawberries. But so are we. They’re popping up everywhere. In Maine, it’s just a few days before the strawberry festival where you can also buy different variations of strawberry jam like an 8 oz strawberry kiwi jam for sale. I’m excited to go there and load up a box with enough strawberries to fill a vault. In late June, I am the Scrooge McDuck of strawberries.

It’s been a long week- feverish and frenetic and pitched with moments of deep, tremendous sadness (but down south and close to home). My bones are still rattling.

One of my best and dearest and most loved friends is coming to visit this weekend. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve been holding on to the idea of This Visit for the last four full days. I am wading through work and sadness and humid air, caught halfway between the now and two days from now, when I can pick up my friend from the airport, give her a gigantic hug and then parade her through Maine. Strawberries everywhere.

Wishing you quiet moments and heavy skillets of summery comfort.


Skillet Strawberry Cobbler with Cream Cheese Swirled Biscuits

Skillet Strawberry Cobbler with Cream Cheese Swirled Biscuits

Source: halfbakedharvest.com | Makes one 12” skillet | Print Recipe



5 Cups (about 3 pounds) of fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled + halved if large
1/3 Cup of sugar (brown sugar or granulated sugar)
2 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
2 Teaspoons of vanilla extract + one vanilla bean (optional), seeds removed
Pinch of sea salt (about 1/4 teaspoon)


3 Cups of all-purpose flour
2 Teaspoons of baking powder
1 and 1/2 Sticks (12 tablespoons) cold salted butted (or unsalted with a pinch of salt)
3/4 Cup of buttermilk
1/4 Cup of honey
8 Ounces of cream cheese, cubed


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Prep a 12-inch cast iron skillet with butter or cooking spray.

3. In the skillet, combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, vanilla bean and a pinch of sea salt. Toss well to combine.

4. In a large bowl, whisk flour and baking powder together. Using a pastry blender or your hands, add butter pieces to the flour and mix until coarse pea-sized crumbles remain.

5. Whisk together the buttermilk and honey and pour into the flour mixture. Stir with a spoon until just combined, trying not to overmix. Use your hands if needed to bring the dough together. Fold in the cream cheese.

6. Use a 1/4 cup measure to drop batter onto the strawberries or press dough on a sheet of parchment paper or cutting board, then use a biscuit cutter to shape the dough into rounds. Place the rounds on top of the cobbler. (You will have leftover biscuit dough which can be baked on a sheet with parchment and eaten warm, slathered with butter and jam.

8. Bake the cobbler for 40-45 minutes or until the strawberries are bubbling and the biscuits lightly golden. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.


Pull-Apart Brioche Cinnamon Roll Bread

Posted by on May 23, 2015 in Breads, Breakfast, Brunch, Desserts | 3 Comments


Maddie hovered beside the food table, pretending to mingle.

She had walked into the party so casually, with such grace and ease, but somewhere between her third and fourth vodka tonic she had become somewhat obsessed with the fact that her offering to the party, an asparagus and green onion tart (in a freeform galette pastry that Maddie had been assured would make her look both rustic and elegant) was still completely and utterly untouched. Well, aside from the small square in the corner that Maddie had cut off herself, in a vague attempt to prove that the tart was edible! Oh look, someone took some of the tart, now I can join them and I won’t be the first person to cut into this gorgeous and so thoughtfully-vegetarian dish and look how pretty it is- it’s so, what’s the word, rustic. And yet fancy. Who did this? Who made this? The woman who made this clearly has her shit together, I bet she didn’t even have to take off her rings while putting it together, this rustic and elegant and vegetarian (so thoughtful!) dish, have you tried the asparagus tart? It’s so good. Here take mine, it’s so good. Get some before it’s gone.

Maddie hovered beside the food table, wondering if she should cut another slice of her poor, lonely tart. She cast a baleful eye on the other plates. Brenda’s deviled eggs were going fast. Kyle’s guacamole was a hit, yes, but guacamole was always a hit; Kyle was playing it safe with his monochromatic tie and he was playing it safe with his party offerings. Nan’s coconut kale salad was a towering monstrosity but people dug into it with giant spoons, like they were in the last Whole Foods on earth. Even Tonia’s pathetic contribution of cashew hummus and carrots had attracted the majority of Patty’s book group, who were all on Whole30 and raving about it as they gnawed on carrot nubs and their pale eyes roved over everyone’s small plates as they slid past. But no corner of the table was as populated as the dessert section. Maddie watched with envy at the crowd of laughing, giddy people who were tucked over a plate of brownies, a mountain of thick and chewy bakery cookies and two monstrous cinnamon roll bread loaves. 

She leaned over her sad tart and gave in, cutting it into small squares so that it might become more appealing, more accessible, more like the person she was trying to be. She arranged them on the plate and spaced them out, saying good-bye to rustic and elegant and going for ease-of-grab, vowing to make and bake cinnamon bread next time, great big loaves of them. 


Do you know how long I have wanted to make pull-apart bread? Do you know how long I have wanted, desired, ACHED to make pull-apart brioche cinnamon roll bread? Way too long. It makes me sad to admit how long. Don’t be like me, kids! Don’t wait! Do it. Buy that top dutch oven. FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS.

One year ago: Ottolenghi’s Classic Hummus

Two years ago: Sweet Whiskey Lemonade

Three years ago: The Twix Tart

Four years ago: Pretzel Bites with Honey Mustard


Pull-Apart Brioche Cinnamon Roll Bread

Source: Half-Baked Harvest | Makes 1 large loaf or 2 9×5 loaves | Print Recipe

*Overnight alert! The brioche dough comes together easily but needs 1-2 hours to rise and then an overnight rise in the fridge.

Ingredients: Dough

1/4 Cup of warm water
3 Teaspoons of instant yeast
3 Tablespoon of granulated sugar
1/2 Cup of warm whole milk
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons of salt
3 Eggs, beaten
12 Tablespoons of butter, melted
3 and 1/2 – 4 Cups all-purpose flour
Half a vanilla bean, seeds (optional)


6 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 Cup of brown sugar
2 Tablespoons of ground cinnamon
Half a vanilla bean, seeds (optional)
Pinch of sea salt


2 Ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 Cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tablespoons of milk or cream, to thin
1 Teaspoon of pure vanilla extract


1. In a large bowl, combine warm water, yeast and sugar and mix until well-incorporated. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes.

2. Add the warm milk, salt, eggs and melted butter and mix until combined. Gradually mix in the flour until the dough comes together. (Tip from my bread-making class: add 3 cups of flour and then add the remaining flour in 1/2 or 1/4 cup intervals, gauging the wetness of the dough and its need for flour as you mix it together.)

3. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Kneed into a smooth ball for a few minutes (the butter will make the dough very soft but it shouldn’t be overly sticky). Grease a large bowl and add the dough to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

4. To make the filling: add the brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla beans and salt to a bowl and mix well.

5. Lightly dust surface with flour. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough dough and roll the dough into a rectangle (about 9×24 inches). Spread about 6 tablespoons of the very soft butter evenly over the dough. Spread the brown sugar + cinnamon evenly over the butter and lightly push the brown sugar into the butter. Starting with the long edge closest to you, pull the edge up and over the filling and carefully roll the dough into a log, keeping it fairly tight as you go. When you reach the edge, pinch along the edge to seal.

6. Place the log seam side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With a pair of sharp kitchen scissors cut diagonal slices almost to the bottom of the log. Arrange the cut sections so that they lean to alternating sides. Use your hand to gently push the dough together to help compress the log better.

If using the loaf pans: Cut and shape the dough as directed and then use your hands to push the dough together to almost the size of you bread pan. The dough will zigzag slightly. Using the parchment paper, lift the dough up and into the bread pan.

7. Immediately cover the dough and place in the fridge overnight. (Note from Half-Baked Harvest: do not let the dough sit at room temperature long or it will start to get very big.)

8. The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the dough from the fridge while the oven preheats and brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Bake the bread log for 20-25 minutes (the bread in the loaf pan needs about 45-50 minutes) or until lightly browned on top- do not over bake.

9. While the bread is baking, whisk the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Add milk until your desired consistency is reached.

Serve the warm, gooey, sticky, sweet bread with a drizzle of frosting. Everyone loves you.

Flourless Brownie Cupcakes

Posted by on May 9, 2015 in Desserts | 2 Comments

Flourless Brownie Cupcakes

We are never far from our 20 year old selves, Deena thought. She stood at the edge of a bar. She was forty-one and the simple act of standing at the edge of a bar was all it took to find her 20 year old self. Why wasn’t anyone talking to her? Should she break in? Is that rude? Where should she put her bag? On the stool? Did she sit or stand? She could stand but she’d worked on her feet all day at the plant and they already ached from all the standing that had been done. But if she sat, her thighs would spread like a dropped bean bag chair. Was she going to strike up a conversation with someone too young to know what a bean bag chair was? Her 20 year old self caught Deena’s eye in the mirror behind the bar. 

Deena sipped her drink and decided to stand. She chatted with Beth, her coworker who had long dark hair and was closer to the 20 year old version of Deena, who hated this scene then and even more so now that she was forty-one and the resounding word in her life had become “settle.” Her body settled. Her heart. It was the word that chased after her when she told people at work that she was unattached; unspoken but there in Beth’s eyes. “Shouldn’t you just settle now? For anything?” Beth who was so beautiful that the equally beautiful bartender stumbled in his haste to get her drink order. Or maybe Deena was just imagining that happened. Her 20 year old self, she thought, could not be trusted on such matters. She was forty-one and had learned that much.


Why don’t bartenders have an emergency stash of brownie cupcakes behind the bar? Isn’t that something we can make happen? Guys? You’ve got all those fancy cocktails with your rose hip syrups and your locally distilled gin and that dashing suspender/handlebar mustache combo- is it really such a stretch to keep a plate of warm-out-of-the-oven brownie cupcakes just behind the bar? So that when you see a person has had a really long day (week/month/how is it May already?) and they’re frowning over the menu that you really, truly made so much more complicated than it needs to be (if you know the majority of the drinking/eating population has no idea what the hell “eggplant-raisin agrodolce” is, can you at least describe how it tastes on the menu? So I’m not sitting there squinting at it, trying to guess the origins of the word like I’m in some restaurant spelling bee instead of putting delicious noodles into my face?) you can put a manicured hand on the bar, wait until that woman’s glassy, too-long-staring-at-the-screen eyes meet yours and utter the words, “do you want a mini brownie cupcake? Will that help?”

Yes. Yes, I believe it would. And even flourless and dairy-less, to boot, it’s just the thing you need. At least we can make them at home, at the end of that long day/week/month. At least we can do that.

Flourless Brownie Cupcakes

Flourless Brownie Cupcakes

Source: A Dash of Cinema | Makes: 18 Cupcakes | Print Recipe


6 Tablespoons of coconut oil
7 Ounces of semisweet chocolate chips
2 Eggs
2/3 Cup of coconut (or granulated) sugar
2 1/4 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 Cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons of arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
A dash of salt


1. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare your cupcake tin with liners.

2. Over low heat, combine coconut oil and semisweet chocolate chips until melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Combine the eggs, vanilla and sugar for 3 minutes with a handheld or stand mixer.

4. Add the melted chocolate and coconut oil and mix.

5. Add cocoa powder, arrowroot and salt. Mix until batter is smooth.

6. Scoop batter into cupcake liners, about halfway. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on your cupcake size. Remove from oven and let sit in the warm pan for a few more minutes and then enjoy!

*I wrap these up and popped them in the freezer. Makes for a great emergency dessert. – J


Butterscotch Bourbon Ice Cream Pie (and Giveaway!)

Posted by on Mar 19, 2015 in *Some Kitchen Stuff*, Desserts | 35 Comments


Hello world… SKS is officially 4 years old!

4 years of blogging. 246 published recipes. 4 years of recipe triumphs and fails, some disasters so epic that pans (whole pans) have been ruined and tossed into the trash (that would be me), at least one occasion of REPEATEDLY buying the wrong ingredient for one single recipe (that was Nicole, it was either self-rising flour or cake flour and it was ridiculous), I still remember when I did my first shop online to get my commercial freezer. 4 years of dragging whole cakes, loaves, bars, cookies and pies into the office (some office, any office) to pawn off on anyone who would take them.

At least a handful of nights with one of us standing at the counter at 9 o’clock at night, covered in flour. 4 years of blog calendars and feverishly sent emails, cookbook trading, way too much sampling of Eat Boutique goodies, cookies, cookies, cookies, salad, cakes, cookies, “When was the last time we made cookies? Should we make cookies”

There are many products out there; from cars to light bulbs, that claim to be green, eco friendly or less harmful for the environment. But as there are no hard and fast rules as to what makes an eco friendly product or not it can be quite difficult to discern between something that claims it is green and something that actually is.

However, there is a good rule of them and four aspects that make up most eco-friendly products and checking for them can give you an idea if the product you are looking at is environmentally friendly or not.

By selling eco friendly goods made from manufacturers who are serious about this industry and not try to label a product that is partly eco friendly. To have a greater chance at getting your current buyers to re-order from you, you should provide as much information as possible. Your partners will keep your advertisements and product reviews on their websites if your “percentage of returns” minimal. Your customers will be happy to shop again knowing they are getting a quality environmentally friendly product. You can buy eco friendly products from QBamboo to make your home eco friendly.

As an eco friendly product review marketer, I like to find websites that provide as much information as possible. This saves me from having to contact their customer service department and ask them what fibers and colours are used to make their clothing, home wares or body care products. Eco friendly shoppers also want to go online, find that product which fits their needs and order it without having to verify first if the product is truly “eco friendly”.


And ice cream. So much ice cream. Of all the experiments and trends and food-related crazes that have swam up and past us over the last 4 years, homemade ice cream has stuck the hardest. Other blogs have kale. We have ice cream.

So it seems only fitting to celebrate with a recipe for outrageously festive Butterscotch Bourbon Ice Cream Pie with Graham Cracker Crust (a Melissa Clark recipe! We’re branching out!) (Jeni’s is still the best but it came out pretty great!) AND the chance to gift one of our readers a Build Your Own Sundae Kit from Jeni’s (our favorite ice cream, did I make that obvious to you?).

The lucky SKS reader/winner will receive a festive kit that contains:

    Luscious milk chocolate with superior creaminess mixed with Ohio wildflower honey and grass-grazed Ohio milk. Refined and just sweet enough, like a bar of fine Swiss milk chocolate.
    A perfect balance of salty and sweet: sugar caramelized by hand, blended with sea salt and grass-grazed Ohio milk. Initial notes of burnt sugar give way to mouthwatering saltiness.
    Voluptuous vanilla ice cream. Rich and full-flavored, with notes of jasmine and honey. Made with Direct- and Fair-Trade-Certified African vanilla beans reserved exclusively for Jeni’s by Ndali Estate in Uganda.
    Very thick, extra-bitter, intensely flavorful chocolate sauce. Served warm and drizzled over a favorite ice cream.
    Sweet, crumbled graham crackers baked with butter and a heavy pinch of sea salt.
    Rich, little buttery baked nuggets of cocoa. Airy, sweet, and salty, with deep, rich cocoa flavor.

I’ve made all three of those flavors from Jeni’s amazing cookbooks and can attest that they are perfect in every respect and that you will swoon over them, especially since SOMEONE ELSE MADE THEM. I think we can all attest that delicious things taste better when someone else makes them, right?

How to Enter: Leave a comment and tell us what kind of recipes are you loving right now. 

Dates: Thursday, March 19 to Thursday, March 26, 2015 (contest ends at 12:01am EST on March 27, 2015)

Selecting a Winner:  Winner will be selected on Friday March 27, 2015 using random.org, a random generator. The winner will be notified by email and will have until Tuesday to respond. If the winner doesn’t respond to the winning notification email, another winner will be chosen.

Boring/Horrible Disclaimers: You must be 18+ to enter. We will only be shipping within the continental United States.  SKS reserves the right to disallow comment submissions for the following reasons:

  • Any rude or obscene comments will not be approved. (But I will laugh at them silently before deleting them.)
  • All spam comments will not be approved. (Again, some of these make me laugh. But they will not be approved.)
  • No purchase is necessary to enter. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. I’m not even sure what you would purchase to win, honestly. Wait, was someone going to send me money to increase their chances? Maybe I should rethink this disclaimer…


Butterscotch Bourbon Ice Cream Pie

Source: Melissa Clark for The New York Times | Makes: 1 9″ Pie | Print Recipe


2 Cups of heavy cream
1 Cup of whole milk
1 Cup of sugar, divided
⅛ Teaspoon of fine sea salt
6 Large egg yolks
1 Tablespoon of bourbon


1. In a medium pot over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup sugar with 3 tablespoons water, swirling pan frequently, until sugar turns reddish brown in color.

2. Add cream, milk, 1/2 cup of sugar and salt to caramel until sugar completely dissolves and cream mixture is completely smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream.

4. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).

5. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.Stir 1 tablespoon bourbon into base. Cool mixture to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

6. Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until needed.


Almond Olive Oil Cake with Brown Butter Glaze

Posted by on Mar 6, 2015 in Brunch, Desserts | One Comment

Almond Olive Oil Cake with Brown Butter Glaze // Some Kitchen Stories

“Olive oil, in a cake?” 

The baker looked at his apprentice and lifted a dripping spatula far, far too high. Batter rained on them both. “To bake, and to cook, takes a leap of faith, Geoffrey.” He scowled into the bowl and pushed the thick batter aside, searching for pockets of flour. “It is like love, that way.” 


Sometimes, many times (most times), I make something I know because I quite simply do not want to fail.

I buy just enough food, and ingredients, for one week. This tendency is not born of ideology but of budget- I buy what I can afford and then I stop. I am that person in the supermarket with a calculator out, adding up prices as I tick ingredients off the list. (My apologies to anyone lagging behind me as I push the cart slowly past the herbs, my face buried in my phone. I’m not texting or updating my status on Facebook but trying to calculate fractions of weight version price per pound in my head.) When I hit my number, I have to stop and reassess the items in my cart, wonder which ones will have to go back to the shelf. Actually, this rarely happens- for some reason, I have become very attuned to my budget and what I can afford and rarely end up more than a few dollars over.

So when I come across a recipe that’s a risk, I pause for dramatic effect. Because, see, if it fails, I have to eat it anyway or there’s nothing else, really, to eat. If a recipe has too many pricey ingredients, it’s immediately out- I can’t make one $40 meal for the week when my budget is $50.

This strategy serves me well. It’s a lot of work and it’s sometimes painful. On those rare occasions when I’ve put things back at the register, it’s downright humiliating. But it helps me save money so I can travel, go out, buy concert tickets on a Monday night, see a friend for a long weekend. (Food is everything but yet not everything.) So it’s worth it.

I make an exception with olive oil. A big, gaping, ridiculous exception.

Almond Olive Oil Cake with Brown Butter Glaze // Some Kitchen Stories

Brene Brown has a whole section in one, or multiple, books on scarcity and our great, clamoring fear of it. I recognize the feeling well- when a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of olive oil, I pause and my chest gets tight. Watching the level of the olive oil bottle is frightening to me and it’s scarcity, that hum of a word, that’s behind it. I take a deep breath, remind myself how vigilant I am about food and price and ingredients and I say to myself, out loud, “When it runs out, I’ll buy another bottle.” And not a cheap bottle. A good bottle. The best I can find. The thing with olive oil, see, is that it’s important to me. I’m Italian American, maybe that’s part of it, maybe the biggest part, why that bottle is a source of comfort to me. I use it often and when I cook something spare and simple and good, the better the ingredients, the better the final product. Somewhere along the line, I decided to grant olive oil a pass. It sings, the stuff. If you know what to do with it, it goddamn sings.

Listen to me now- in this, you should not be afraid. Buy a really, really good bottle (imported or from California, pure olive oil, extra virgin, the best you can possibly afford) and use a giant-sounding, heaping 1/2 cup of it in a cake. This cake.

Do it. You won’t be sorry. It’s good.

You can always buy another bottle.


Almond Olive Oil Cake with Brown Butter Glaze

Source: Lottie & Doof | Makes: 1 9″ Cake | Print Recipe


1 Cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 Cup of almond flour or meal
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon of kosher salt
3 Large eggs
3/4 Cup of granulated sugar
1/2 Cup of extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 Teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/4 Teaspoon of pure almond extract
Grated zest of 1/4 medium orange
1/2 Cup of orange juice

For glaze:

2 and 1/2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 Cup of confectioner’s sugar
3 Tablespoons of whole milk
A few drops of fresh lemon juice
1/2 Cup of sliced almonds, toasted and cooled


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, salt, and set aside.

3. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk them lightly to break up the yolks. Add the sugar to the bowl and whisk it in very thoroughly. Add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is a bit lighter in color and has thickened slightly, about a minute. Whisk in the extracts and zest, followed by the orange juice.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined, about 30 more seconds.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake the cake for 30 to 45 minutes, rotating the cake pan halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning. The
cake is done when it has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, springs back slightly when touched, 9 and a cake tester comes out clean.

6. Allow the cake to cool for ten minutes in the pan, then gently remove it from the pan and allow it cool completely on a rack.

7. When the cake is almost finished cooling, make the glaze: melt the butter over medium heat in a small, heavy saucepan. When the bubbles subside, lower the heat and watch the butter carefully, swirling it in the pan occasionally to distribute the heat. When the butter begins to turn a light tan color and smells slightly nutty, turn off the heat and let the butter sit. It will continue to darken as it sits.

8. While the butter cools, sift the confectioner’s sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk until completely smooth but thick, then slowly whisk in the butter. Taste the glaze and add a few drops of lemon juice to balance the sweetness. Stir in the toasted almonds. Spread the almonds and glaze onto the top and sides of the cake and let it sit until set and dry.


How to Make a Magic Wand

Posted by on Feb 28, 2015 in Desserts, Snacks | No Comments


Lorie placed the tiny chair on the rock but it wouldn’t stay up. Beside her, her father frowned and nudged it back with his knuckle. “Here,” he said. “Use the moss to keep it up.” 

She did as she was told. It took some finagling from the both of them but, finally, the little throne sat upright. She shifted in her spot on the forest floor, the dew seeping into her knee socks, and admired their work. Beside her, her father was quiet. He worked in the woods and knew them well. At that moment, she knew, he was tracking the calls of an animal in the distance. He met her eyes over the offering they’d built for the faeries. “It’s a fox,” he told her.

“What’s it doing?”

“Don’t know.” Her father looked over his shoulder to follow the sound. It was a scratchy, bark of a cry. He  reclined on his side next to the faery den, as at home on the forest floor as other people were on their living room couches. “Guarding her cubs, maybe.” He rummaged in his backpack for another pretzel and handed her one. “How’s Mom?”

“She’s okay.” Lorie fussed with the moss. The small platter, that she had taken from her old doll house, looked odd on the rock with only a few tiny red berries to weigh it down. “She thinks this is silly.” She felt her father’s eyes on her face and kept them trained on the little offering. “She thinks I’m too old.”

“If you’re too old, I’m definitely too old,” her father replied after a moment. “The funny thing is that whenever we leave things for the faeries, when I come back the next day, they’re always gone. The chair will still be here and the little plate,” he told her. “But everything else will be gone.” The small pile of red berries she couldn’t eat, the tiny pile of silver rocks they found in the pond, the perfect sea shell. “How do you explain that?”

Lorie didn’t answer. She knew what she should think and what she wanted to think. She felt, as she often did, oddly suspended between her parents, though her mother wasn’t there with them. In the distance, she heard the fox cry once more. Her fingers lingered on the tiny throne. She marveled at the force that kept it upright, on the edge of the rock, and she wondered if it would stay.   


How to Make a Magic Wand (Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Sticks)


1 12 oz Package of milk chocolate chips
12 Large pretzel rods
Edible gold paint or dust


These are so easy!

1. Prep: Line a baking tray or two with parchment paper.

2. Take your chocolate chips and melt them in a double-boiler or in a microwave-safe bowl (30 seconds, stir. 30 seconds, stir. Continue until fully melted.)

3. Make sure your melted chocolate is in a large-enough bowl so you can fit the whole pretzel.

4. Drop the pretzel into the warm, melted chocolate. Use a fork to cover the pretzel completely and then use the fork as a makeshift crane to remove pretzel and place on baking tray. Dust ends with edible gold powder.  Let cool and dry completely until chocolate hardens.


Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse

Posted by on Feb 22, 2015 in Desserts | No Comments


There is something magic about the snow, thought the little girl, and she stood outside her house as the first snow of winter drifted down towards her. The flakes swung toward her like a magnet to rest on her face, her shoulders, her hair. She opened her eyes wide and stared up into the dark sky, mesmerized by the white swirl over her head. When she awoke the next morning, the girl knew, the whole world would be white. 

“It’s God,” her grandmother told her at the kitchen counter last winter as they watched the snow cover everything. “Doing this.” She winked at her granddaughter and picked up a tiny sieve and a spoonful of fluffy sugar. She tapped the sieve over the mug on the counter and the girl watched the sugar fall over the dish. The girl laughed. Her mother glanced over her shoulder and let out a tired sigh. “Snow means shoveling,” her mother muttered. “And cold hands and wet pants and slick roads.” 

The girl’s grandmother shook her head and picked up the dish of warm chocolate pudding but when the girl held out her hands for it, she paused. She gave her granddaughter a knowing look. “Your mother needs it more,” she murmured and she pressed it into her daughter’s hands. “Eat your medicine, Charlene,” her grandmother said, in that tone that said she would not be denied.  


The girl stared up at the night sky and watched the snow fall. She wondered if, as the pastor had said, her grandmother was nearby, right now. Maybe she was in the snow. The girl blinked, searching for her. 

She heard the door and her mother’s voice, calling for her. “Come inside,” her mother called. It was not the first time she’d been called. “It’s cold.”

The girl stared up at the sky. “I’m okay.”

The door didn’t close. The girl felt, rather than saw, that her mother lingered in the door. “Come inside,” she called. “I’ll make you some chocolate pudding.”

The girl continued to stare up at the sky. She tilted her head up and felt the snow touch her face. I don’t need it yet, she thought. Not yet.


Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse

Source: Everyday Food | Makes: 4 Servings | Print Recipe


4 Large egg yolks
1/4 Cup of sugar
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Ounces of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 Cup of heavy cream


1. In a double boiler, whisk egg yolks with sugar and salt until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm (about 2 to 3 minutes).

2. Off heat, whisk in chopped chocolate until melted. Cool to room temperature.

3. In a medium bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Whisk half of whipped cream into room temperature chocolate. Gently fold in remaining whipped cream.

4. Divide mousse among four dishes and chill, for at least 2 hours.

5. Before serving, remove mousse from refrigerator for 15 minutes. Garnish with shaved chocolate.


Caramel Peanut Butter & Pretzel Cups

Posted by on Feb 13, 2015 in Desserts | One Comment


I think it’s safe to say that this week sucked a big ‘ole nut.

(Oh, sorry. I think I’m supposed to say Valentine’s Day is coming, here’s some chocolate, ain’t love grand? per American Food Blog Ordinance 379 Paragraph 3 Sub-paragraph 4A, Section B. Damn regulations.)

We had layoffs at work this week. It was… bad. So bad that I’m struggling with words, my vision, remembering where I am, what day it is, oh is it snowing again?

I feel so lucky when I say that, before this week, I have never had to experience this particular nugget of adult hell. I’ve been laid off before but I was working remote at the time and it happened all over the phone. No coworkers present, no good-byes, just… my shaking hand putting the phone down on my Ikea desk and my eyes resting on the dog I had just adopted weeks earlier, who was fast asleep at my feet.  There is no side of this, I realize now, that doesn’t hurt.

In the midst of all that, my closest coworkers seem to be suffering from a deluge of yet more bad news this week in the form of death, loss, tragedy and the kind of everyday inconveniences that don’t fit on the grand scale but Sweet Baby Jesus make getting up in the morning just a little bit harder (I’m sorry, Jessica, that your roof is leaking and your idiot landlord doesn’t seem to care, when we are currently buried under 6 feet of snow).

There has never been a better time, in my opinion, for chocolate.


Tonight I melted a giant bowl of it and went crazy. Juliette Binoche levels of choco-crazy. Nothing is safe from this bowl of meltingly sweet and sticky, glossy, semi-sweet dark chocolate in my hands. I’m going to cover everything I own in the stuff and hand it out tomorrow like medicine, just stuff into people’s hands as I pass by. This weekend, I determined, is about love in all its forms, pure and simple, sugar and sweet. I don’t mind the red roses and the hearts and the paper cupids- bring it on, I say. We need as much of it as we can get, in any schlocky form it currently takes.

Drink up the pleasure of some company this weekend, would you? For all of us?


Caramel Peanut Butter & Pretzel Cups

Inspired by: Take 5 Candy Bars | Print Recipe


7-10 ounces of molding chocolate (we used Chocoley*), milk, dark or semi-sweet
1/2 cup of nut butter of your choice
1/2 cup of dulce de leche (I used Chocoley’s caramel filling in mine)
A handful of mini pretzels
Sea salt


1. Melted your chocolate in a heat-proof bowl that’s perched over a small pot of simmering water. Stir until melted completely. Remove from heat.

2. Line a muffin tin with parchment wrapper.

3. Spoon melted chocolate on the bottom of the cup. Give it a little shake.

4. Add 1 small pretzel, a dollop of nut butter and a swirl of caramel or dulce de leche.

5. Top with melted chocolate to cover.

6. Let cool for a few minutes and then add a sprinkling of sea salt.

*The folks at Chocoley very nicely sent us a package of melting chocolate (dark, milk and semi-sweet dark), caramel filling and peanut butter cream center filling, to experiment with in the kitchen this winter. Check out more of the treats we made here. All opinions are our own.

February 2015 Calendar – Brownies for Everyone, Always

Posted by on Feb 5, 2015 in Desserts | 2 Comments

Free February 2015 calendar from Some Kitchen Stories


Smitty & The Girl

The Murder Mystery Year: Chapter 2

Last time | More Smitty Stories

Clemmons walked into the Mather house first and was grateful that taking the lead meant she could close her eyes for a second, steel herself. She had been an office for six years but had never seen a murdered body before. She’d seen her share of the dead, of course, but this was Cliffwood- dead in Cliffwood meant “natural causes” or “well, she was 97…” In six years, there was only one that had shaken her even slightly and that was a car accident off the main road, a teenage boy. Her husband, an ER doctor, was the one who came home some nights and settled into a chair with a glass of whiskey, to stare at the television but not see it. 

She made observations as she walked through the house. It needed a good dusting for one thing. The floors were clean though, that was a shame. Would’ve been nice to catch some footprints. 

Gibb walked behind her, his breathing heavy. “There goes your quiet night,” she muttered to him and he shook his head. He’s been with the station twenty years to her six and Clemmons wondered if he was prepared for this, despite that. 

She glanced behind her and Tom, pale as a ghost, nodded his head to the right. She turned, stepping carefully, pausing at the doorframe that led to the kitchen. There was a scuff there, a black mark, and for a split second she thought it was blood. She walked through the quiet kitchen and took in the signs of breakfast, an unwashed mug, the ring of coffee around it on the counter, a handful of crumbs, an open cereal box. Clemmons followed the low murmur of voices into the parlor and came face to face with what she could only declare was a motley assortment of people. Mike Newell, the local bartended, stood in the corner with his arm around his teenage son, who stared out the window, his expression glassy with shock. A woman with dark hair stood on the boy’s other side, her hand in his. Across the room, pacing, was Sylvia Mathers who wore a silvery nightgown that would be at home at a nightclub. A woman with curly dark hair and a sour expression stood beside her, the only sign of her anxiety her wringing hands. Identical redheads, one in a leather jacket, stood in the back of the room with a scowl; the other redhead was more like a doe in headlights. Her wide eyes were fixed on the body that lay on the floor. The body that had absolutely, most certainly been murdered. And there was Bobby Mulpepper, who looked like he’d been recently sick.

Clemmons glanced up from the body and looked at Gibb. “You stay with them. Nobody moves.” She eyed them all warily. “We question them one at a time, alone.”

“Are you accusing us of-” Sylvia Mather’s voice had a slightly hysterical pitch to it. When Clemmons turned to look at her, her words faltered.

“I need to call it in.” Clemmons nodded to Sylvia Mathers. “And then you’re first.”


We are deep into it now, guys. Winter is bearing down hard. I’ve never experienced this much snow in my life, here in Maine, and I just looked at my weather app and saw, wait for it, four more days of snow coming our way. I’m not even sad, I’m IMPRESSED- where is all this snow going to go exactly? Is there a point where snow drifts just… topple over? I was walking Charlie this morning and found myself on the sidewalk wedged between mounds of snow over six feet tall, like I was slipping through a frozen maze.

I would be sorry for it all if snow wasn’t such a good excuse to turn the oven on and reach for loads of butter and sugar. Snowstorms, for me, mean brownies and all kinds of them, yes, give them all over, nom. (The ones pictured in our calendar are our Dulce de Leche Brownies, incidentally. I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I tried to put them all into my face.) Even better now that it’s February, a month where all I want is chocolate, chocolate, chocolate like I’m a real-life, deranged Cathy cartoon. Bring it snow. I’ve got oven mitts, you don’t scare me.

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Jam Meringue Cookies

Posted by on Jan 25, 2015 in Desserts | 6 Comments


She faced the blank computer screen and bided4 her time. Fussing over items on the desk (a pen that had rolled astray, a stack of old bills that needed shuffling, a keyboard that needed a good swipe between the keys) took a few moments. Then there was the pile of soft, puffy cloud cookies on the plate; she tended to one of those two. She got up, went to the bathroom, forgot why she walked into the bathroom, came back, sat down and sighed. “What do I need to say?” she murmured aloud. The cat purred in response from the windowsill. “Maybe it’s the wrong question,” she told the uninterested cat. She sighed again and rubbed the heel of her hand over her heart. “What do I need to hear?”

That was an easier place to start. The words she typed out, she could change and probably would before she was done. But at least it was a start.


“You are a good person. 

You are loved and you love. You work hard. You’re trying your best. You have both hands out, open and waiting. It’s all you can do.

I’m sorry you hurt; I don’t know why but I know that it’s more than you deserve. It’s temporary, though- whether it leads to something better or worse, it’s a moment, just a glimpse and in a second it’ll be gone, poof. Gone like one of these cookies. If you can’t trust in anything right now, trust in that. A minute ago, you were four years old. Ten. Twenty. All of your hurts have collapsed inside you, fallen away. If I picked one out and handed it to you, you may not even recognize it as your own. Isn’t that something? It’s something.

Hope does not spring eternal. It does not. Hope is a well that sometimes goes dry. Sometimes you have to add the spring back to it, feed it, pour it in with those two, open hands. Sometimes you have to pour it in, stand back, and wait for it to fill back up. If you think it will, just wait, and it will. If you think it won’t, pour in some more. Do the work. Scrape and pull and squeeze water from the earth, if you have to, but get it into the bucket and, by God, pour it in. Get others to help you, if you need to- get an army, if you need to. Find someone who will stand beside you and whisper in your ear, “It will fill up. It always, always does.”

It always, always does.


Jam Meringue Cookies

Source: Better Homes & Garden | Yield: 20 cookies | Print Recipe


2 Egg whites
1 Tablespoon of fruit jam, room temperature
6 drops of red food coloring
1/8 Teaspoon of cream of tartar
1/3 Cup of superfine sugar or granulated sugar
1/3 Cup of sifted powdered sugar


1. To prep: pour egg whites into a large, steel or glass bowl (wiped clean) and let stand, covered, for at least 30 minutes. Cover 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Preheat oven to 300°F. In a small mixing bowl, stir together jam with food coloring. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, combine the superfine sugar and powdered sugar; set aside. Uncover eggs and add cream of tartar. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a team, beating for 5 to 7 minutes at medium speed until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved.

4. Use a spatula to gently fold 1/2 cup of the meringue mixture into the bowl of jam; gently fold jam mixture into the remaining meringue.

5. Using a pastry bag (or a large spoon), pipe or scoop onto the parchment paper.

7. Place baking sheets in oven and turn off oven. Let them dry in the oven, with the door closed, for 1 hour or until dry and crisp but still light in color. Let cool on parchment paper.


World Peace Cookies

Posted by on Dec 24, 2014 in Desserts | One Comment


Val had appeared in the doorway at the worst possible time. He rubbed his eyes. “Are you okay, Mom?” 

Diana wiped the tears from her eyes and replied with a bright, watery smile. “What are you doing awake?” Val, my Valentine. When he was born and placed into her arms, all she could see was her own beating heart. 

“Waiting for Santa.” 

“He won’t come if you’re awake, you know that.”

Val climbed onto the love seat and patted her cheeks with his chubby hands. “Are you okay?” 


He scowled at the television where the news report was ending and shook his head like a sage old man. Diana reached over and hit the Power button. “A lot of sad news lately.” Her son collapsed beside her and she tucked him under the blanket that was wrapped over her legs. 


Together, they watched the flickering lights of the tree in the corner. It cast a shadow on the ornaments he’d made in school this year and last year, his tiny baby thumbprint, the star made of popsicle sticks, his round, owlish face peeked out from the branches. Diana placed a hand on his head and said, “I have a few wishes for you.”

“You do?”

“I do.” She swallowed hard. “I wish for you to always have a loving heart. To ask questions. To not look away but to protect your heart so you can feel as much as you can and change as much as you can. I wish for you to know what you have and what others don’t have. I wish for you to seek out the whole story, all sides of it.” She smoothed the hair from his eyes. “I wish for you to remember that all anyone wants, anywhere, is just to be seen and heard and loved. And that where there isn’t much else you think you can do, you can listen and learn and love, in endless supply. I wish twinkle lights for you,” she whispered. “And quiet places to think. And long hugs when you need them. And big, heavy meals when you want them. And that you’re always able to sleep.”

“And warm cookies,” Val added as his eyes started to close.

“And warm cookies,” Diana said with a smile. 


SKS Holiday Recipes

S’more Cookies | The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies | Snowball Cookies (Foodie.com) | Cookie in a Skillet | White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies | Hot Cocoa Cookies | Shortbread Cookies Filled With Caramel | Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies | Bourbon Balls | Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies |Beurre and Sel Jammers | Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles |  Nutella Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies | Turtle Tassies | Walnut Bombs | Whiskey Truffles | Caramel Corn with Bacon and Cashews | Apricot White Chocolate Biscotti | Homemade Peppermint Patties | Easy Buckeye Brownie Cookies (new!) | Nana’s Butter Cookies with Milk Jam (new!)

World Peace Cookies
Source: Dorie Greenspan, by way of Smitten Kitchen | Makes: 36 Cookies | Print Recipe

Notes: Cookie dough must be refrigerated for at least 3 hours or can be frozen up to 2 months; just add 1 minute to baking time.


1 and 1/4 Cups of all-purpose flour
1/3 Cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Teaspoon of baking soda
1 Stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 Cup of (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 Cup of sugar
1/4 Teaspoon of fine sea salt
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
5 Ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips


1. In a bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa and baking soda together until well-combined.

2. Working with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer in a large bowl) beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy for at least 4 minutes. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

3. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour mixture, cover the stand mixer with a towel, and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. If there’s still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a few more times, if not, remove the towel.

4.Toss in the chocolate pieces and, on low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more or just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly.

5. Turn the dough onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (See Note)

6. Bake them! Place rack in center of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

7. Working with a sharp, thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (Deb’s note: the rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange on the baking sheets with one inch between them.

8. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm. Best served warm or at room temperature.


Nana’s Butter Cookies with Milk Jam

Posted by on Dec 18, 2014 in Desserts | One Comment

Nana's Butter Cookies with Milk Jam from Some Kitchen Stories

Nana played Judy Garland at Christmas, exclusively. She played Judy and danced in the kitchen, a soft shoe. When we made cookies, she crooned, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and when I complained that it wasn’t even a Christmas song, she tsked and spun me around and powdered sugar sprung from my shirt and she said, “Some songs are for always.”

Nana was my song for always.

Nana's Butter Cookies with Milk Jam from Some Kitchen Stories

I have a theory that this time of year is so alluring because of all those damn twinkle lights. It’s definitely a solid draw. That and the smell of slowly cooking sugar.

love these cookies. I love them. They are the twinkle lights of cookies. They remind me of being young and standing in the bakery next to my mother. If I was lucky, she’d buy me a Linzer tart, one of the big ones, with the raspberry jam poking out of its powdery window. I still find those cookies impossible to resist. And as soon as I saw these, I knew my greedy heart had to have them. They’re so grown up and fanciful, aren’t they?

Isn’t it nice to be grown up but still fanciful? To eat cookies for dinner. To sit in a dark living room and stare at a bundle of forest and light. To contemplate wishes, both lost and found.

Nana's Butter Cookies with Milk Jam from Some Kitchen Stories

We have one more cookie recipe to share with you before we take a brief respite over the holidays! Stay tuned…

Nana's Butter Cookies with Milk Jam from Some Kitchen Stories

SKS Holiday Recipes

S’more Cookies | The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies | Snowball Cookies (Foodie.com) | Cookie in a Skillet | White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies | Hot Cocoa Cookies | Shortbread Cookies Filled With Caramel | Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies | Bourbon Balls | Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies |Beurre and Sel Jammers | Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles |  Nutella Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies | Turtle Tassies | Walnut Bombs | Whiskey Truffles | Caramel Corn with Bacon and Cashews | Apricot White Chocolate Biscotti | Homemade Peppermint Patties | Easy Buckeye Brownie Cookies (new!)

Nana’s Butter Cookies with Milk Jam

Source: Maurice Luncheonette via Bon Appetit Magazine | Makes: 16 Cookie Sandwiches | Print Recipe

*Note: dough must be chilled for at least 1 hour and milk jam cooks for 1.5 hours

For the cookies:

1 and 1/2 Cups (3 sticks) of unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 Cup of powdered sugar
2 Teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons of whole milk
2 Teaspoons of kosher salt
2 and 1/2 Cups of all-purpose flour, plus more
1 Large egg

For milk jam and assembly:

1 Qt. of goat’s milk or cow’s milk
1 and 1/4 Cups of granulated sugar
3/4 Teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
Powdered sugar (optional; for serving)


For the cookies:

1. In a medium bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

2. Reduce speed to low; add milk, salt, and 2 and 1/2 cups of flour and mix just to combine.

3. Form dough into a 1/2 inch-thick disk and wrap in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

4. Preheat oven to 325°. Let dough sit at room temperature to soften slightly, about 5 minutes.

5. Roll dough out between 2 sheets of parchment paper until about ⅛ inch thick. Cut out rounds with a floured 2.5 inch diameter cookie cutter. Cut out a circle in half of the rounds with a 3/4 inch diameter cookie cutter and transfer to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart.

6. Whisk egg and 1 tsp. water in a small bowl and brush tops of cookies with egg wash. Bake cookies, rotating halfway through, until golden brown, 12–15 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool.

For the milk jam & assembly:

7. Combine milk, sugar, and baking soda in a large saucepan; scrape in vanilla seeds and add pod. Bring just to a boil over medium heat, swirling pot to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, until mixture is reduced to about 1 and 1/4 cups (it will darken and separate, with little bits visible), about 80–90 minutes. Strain milk jam through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl and let cool.

8. Spoon a small amount of milk jam onto flat side of a cookie without a hole and sandwich with a cookie with a hole. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Do Ahead: Cookie Dough and Milk jam can both be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Holiday Treats: Easy Buckeye Brownie Cookies

Posted by on Dec 8, 2014 in Desserts | One Comment


There was a box that held ornaments that I was not allowed to touch. 

When I was nine, I snuck a chocolate cookie off the counter and asked Mama about the box, small and square and wrapped in one gold ribbon like the ones you get at holiday cookie delivery. She took the cookie from my hand and said, “Only Papa and I put those ornaments up on the tree. Only we can touch them.” And when I asked why, she said, “One day you’ll find out. But I don’t want you to know just yet.” And she was a little sad about it but firm, in her way, in her way that left no room for discussion.  So I let it be. 

That next year, my nana died and I learned what the box was for; Mama took a seashell off the tree, one from Myrtle Beach that Nana had sent her years and years before. She cradled it in her hand and instead of wrapping it in paper and storing it with the others, she walked it over to the small, square box, untied the golden ribbon and slipped it inside. 

When I was thirteen and three-quarters, my Aunt Cissy got cancer and “went fast, too fast,” as my Papa said. He had been friends with Aunt Cissy since they were in university together and she was there in the room when I was born. Papa took a bell off the tree and wrapped it, put it in the small, square box. 

Over the years, more ornaments went into the small, square box- a turtle dove, a snowflake, another bell for another friend. I never saw those ornaments get put up on the tree but they ended up on the tree anyway- one night I stayed up extra late, reading in my bed, and when I ducked into the hall for a glass of water, I saw my parents tending to the tree we’d decorated together only hours before. They held the small, square box between them and added their ornaments to the tree, talking and smiling. I heard Papa say Cissy’s name and my mother laughed. I heard her tell the story about Nana’s terrible gingerbread houses, the ones they couldn’t bear to eat. I leaned against the wall and listened for a while. In between their words, the branches of our tree seemed to jingle and dance, its faint light shook, as if part of the conversation.


I have a theory, hear me out, that there are such things as Input days and Output days.

As in, I cannot possibly be expected to do, create, say or complete anything today because it is in Input day- I only want to read, listen, watch, learn and absorb today. Likewise, there are days when I think I cannot possibly absorb, hear, watch or read one more thing or I will definitely explode- today I’m actually going to shut up and make stuff. Write articles, cook, send all those emails I’ve been putting off, get ahead on those projects, write, write, write. 

I’m sure most (normal) people are really skilled at doing both and balancing both, every day, but lately I’ve been feeling either one way or the other. And I’m okay with that. It feels so much better to put a label on it and sink into what I’m feeling as opposed to fighting it.

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of Output days. So many, strung together, that I can feel myself starting to retreat (holidays tend to have that effect, the older you get). But before I retreat completely into an Input-Only setting (where Christmas movies, hot chocolate, and books are high on the To Do Only list), I think I might have to break down and make cookies, a lot of cookies. Starting with these.


SKS Holiday Recipes

S’more Cookies | The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies | Snowball Cookies (Foodie.com) | Cookie in a Skillet | White Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies | Hot Cocoa Cookies | Shortbread Cookies Filled With Caramel | Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies | Bourbon Balls | Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies |Beurre and Sel Jammers | Brown Butter Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles |  Nutella Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies | Turtle Tassies | Walnut Bombs | Whiskey Truffles | Caramel Corn with Bacon and Cashews | Apricot White Chocolate Biscotti | Homemade Peppermint Patties

Easy Buckeye Brownie Cookies

Source: Taste of Lizzy T’s| Makes: 24 Cookies | Prep Time: 30 Minutes | Cook Time: 24 Minutes | Print Recipe


1 (19.5 Ounce) box of fudge brownie mix
1/4 Cup of butter, melted and cooled
4 Ounces of cream cheese, softened
1 Egg
1 Cup of powdered sugar
1 Cup of creamy peanut butter
4 Blocks (4 ounces) of chocolate Candiquik (or make your own dipping chocolate)


1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

2. In a medium bowl, beat together the brownie mix, butter, cream cheese and egg. The dough will be a little sticky to the touch- scoop dough into 24 round cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 12 minutes.

4. While the cookies bake, make your peanut butter filling (they will need to be ready when the cookies come out of the oven) by mixing the creamy peanut butter with the powdered sugar until well combined. Form mixture into 24 one-inch balls.

5. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, press a peanut butter ball lightly onto the center of each cookie. (Peanut butter will soften and melt slightly). Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on the sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. Prepare your dipping chocolate. Spoon 1/2 tablespoon on each cookie to cover the peanut butter. Let chocolate set. Store in an airtight container.


Thanksgiving Recipes 2014: Mini Pumpkin Pies

Posted by on Nov 15, 2014 in Desserts | 4 Comments


Jane sampled the first bite of her Cornbread, Chorizo, Cherry and Pecan Stuffing and smiled. “It’s good! I think it’s good.” She looked at her mother and raised her eyebrows. “What do you think?”

“I like it.” Her mother nodded encouragingly, her new blonde bob bobbing. “Add it to the list.” It was a new tradition, if there was such a thing, for the Marksons to try a slate of new recipes two weeks before Thanksgiving and hand-select the ones that would make the table that year. Ever since Jane took over the holiday, in her new house with the two ovens she just needed to use fully, she had to, it was necessary, this was how she wanted to tackle the holiday and her mother obliged. (Her mother was just relieved her daughter and Jim, her husband of two years, hadn’t actually moved to Cincinnati as they thought they might and would’ve agreed to anything her daughter suggested, if it meant she lived down the block for the rest of their days.)

Jane glanced up at her mother who had failed to go for a second bite of the gorgeously complex and interesting side dish. “Are you sure you like it?”

“Of course! It’s very good.” Jane wanted to believe her mother, behind her wide smile, she really did. 

“I have an idea,” Jane said suddenly. “I saw it on Pinterest- since I’ve been married for two years, why don’t you make a dish that you made for Thanksgiving when you were first married! Wouldn’t that be fun? That would be fun.”

Her mother’s smile faltered. “Oh, I don’t- how would I even know what I made then-“

“Funny you should say that because… I have them all right here!” Jane reached behind her and plopped the leather bound album onto the table between them. The turkey roulade winced and the stuffing beside her bounced. Jane beamed. “Grandma found it and gave it to me, isn’t it great? It’s all of your old recipes. And marked by date!” Jane practically squealed and grabbed her mother’s hand, appreciative of their equal appreciation for organization. “Let’s see what we’ve got.”

“Yes, let’s see.” Her mother stifled a smile. “Let’s see what I made for dinner in 1972. This should be interesting.”


Jane turned the crackling pages and found the list. “Let’s see here. Okay, recipes you made. Hmmm. Individual Turkey Noodle Casseroles. Okay- noodles, margarine, cooked turkey, condensed cream of mushroom soup, capers, thin cream, what’s thin cream? And 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese.” Her words trailed off. “Okay, maybe not that one.” She smiled brightly at her mother. “Maybe just a scootch too much sodium, I think. And fat. Maybe. Here’s one. Chipped Beef Peanut Butter Cheese Hearts. Okay no, is that real? Is that a real thing? That you ate? Did people eat that?” Jane scanned the list, a bit desperately, as her mother’s shoulders started to shake. “Here’s another appetizer- Cheese “Carrots”, okay no. That’s just soft cheese and Worcestershire molded into the shape of carrots. Ew, really?” She looked at her mother. “Really?”

Her mother shrugged. “Those were actually pretty tasty.”

“Stuffed Avocado Slices.” Jane swallowed hard. “Stuff avocado with cream cheese, sweet pickles, green onion and pineapple. Okay, you know what?” Jane closed the album, her face green. “Maybe we just stick with my magazines. This year.” 

“Of course, dear,” her mother said. She spooned up another bite of the chorizo cherry stuffing and smiled, only to herself.


All of those recipes mentioned in the story are very, very real. They’re from Mary Margaret McBride’s Encyclopedia of Cooking 1960 which I found in a massive antique store in Maryland last year. The book is 1531 pages long and every single one of those pages is absolutely amazing. I might snap pics of a few and put them on our Instagram, just because I can and, frankly, I shouldn’t have to keep something as incredible-sounding as Frosted Meat Loaf to myself.

(You know you want to know the ingredients in Salmon Salad Tropical, come on.)

If you glance down at our collection of blogged Thanksgiving recipes, you’ll see we’re no stranger to trying new-fangled, twisty recipes around here. I definitely think it’s fun and worth doing. I also know, fully well, that someone may find this list fifty years from now and be fully and completely horrified by what they find. And so it continues.

For our first recipe this year, we’re taking a classic favorite and shrinking it to simple, sample-size bites with these Mini Pumpkin Pies. Our thinking is keep it small and eat more of absolutely everything on the dessert table.


SKS Thanksgiving Recipes

Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows | Butternut Squash Soup | Sugar and Spice Cocktail Nuts | No Knead Dinner Rolls | Apple Crumb Pie | Mad Easy Chocolate Pecan Pies | Apple Crisp | Almond Crunch Pumpkin Cheesecake | Multicultural Stuffing | Pear Cornmeal Cake with Rosemary Syrup | Brussels Sprouts with Mint & Anchovy Sauce | Spinach with Fresh Indian Cheese

Thanksgiving Recipes 2014: Mini Pumpkin Pies

Source: Home is Where the Boat Is | Makes: 12 Mini Pies | Print Recipe

Note: You need a 4-inch round cookie cutter, a small leaf-shaped cookie cutter (optional) and a standard-size muffin tin.


1 Package of refrigerated pie crust
1 Can (15 oz) of pumpkin
1 Can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk
2 Eggs
1 Tablespoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice (make your own!)
Nonstick cooking spray


1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray and insert 4-inch circles of dough.

3. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs and pumpkin pie spice until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour into pastry-lined muffin cups, almost to the top. (Top with a pastry leaf if desired.)

5. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes longer or until knife inserted comes out clean.

6. Allow to cool 30 minutes in pan and remove to wire rack to cool for another hour for pumpkin filling to set completely.

*Note from Mary: You will have a little more filling than would fill the 12 muffin cups, bake in a ramekin and add some pastry leaves for a cook’s treat!


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