Fake it ’til you make it
S’mores Brownies

skipaheadYou know what I hate about bonfires? Smoke. I hate that my hair and clothes and coat all reek of smoke until someone hoses me down with a fire hose and some febreeze. And face it, if you’re having a bonfire, you’re probably going to be out there until the wee hours of the night and who wants to take a febreeze shower after that?

Other than that, I love bonfires. I love the community that always happens when a bunch of people hang around a bonfire. I love feeding the fire and watching the flames grow, shrink back, and finally become nothing more than a white-hot ember. And I love the food. Roasted marshmallows, burnt black hot dogs, and of course – S’MORES!

But, heck, who has time to sit around a bonfire on a Tuesday night? Well don’t worry, Bakerella and I have you covered with some fake out s’mores you can make in your oven. And then, watch, the people will flock to the table and that same sense of community will grow. And all without your hair smelling like smoke (well hopefully…).


S’mores Brownies

Overall: four-star

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These brownies were really yummy and fairly easy to make. I didn’t love what happened with the graham crackers after they baked. They kinda just melted away into the brownies and I couldn’t even taste them. However, these brownies seemed to get better and better as they aged. Gooey chocolate and soft marshmallows. (Recipe here, from Bakerella.)

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It’s Na-chyo Birthday
Ginger Rhubarb Compote

skipaheadSo is this post about nachos or ginger rhubarb compote? Well both.

Yesterday was E’s 30th birthday. Old man. (Give me a month, I’ll catch up.) For his birthday he asked for one thing: the best nachos in town. He always does this, folks. Asks for the moon and then expects me to deliver. I mean, who is he to ask for nachos in Minnesota. That’s like asking for cheese in Wisconsin or seafood on the coast. Oh, Wait.

So I found lots of places with the “Best Nachos in Town.” But after a lot of Yelp reviews and some foodie reviews online I found the golden ticket: Salsa A La Salsa. Ooo, yum. The chips were made fresh and they topped them with refried beans, guac, sour cream, taco meat, cheese, lettuce, and pico de gallo. I know, it sounds pretty standard, but I’m confident it was the fresh chips that made them so delectable.

After a lunch of junk food and an afternoon of sweets (courtesy of his many awesome co-workers), E was craving a salad and feeling a bit like Elaine in this episode:

So I scrapped my plans for cake and instead made E something with rhubarb. You really can’t go wrong, in E’s eyes, when you cook with rhubarb. We had this rhubarb compote (I’m calling it Rhubarb Butter at my house though) on bread, but it would be amazing with some creamy cheese or on a cracker. Or even over ice cream!


Ginger Rhubarb Compote

Overall: five-star

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This was so incredibly easy to make, I felt ashamed telling E. Hey, honey, here’s how much effort I put into your birthday dessert: 10 minutes. It tastes pretty good too. If you don’t like rhubarb, obviously this won’t be for you, but the ginger and cinnamon take the edge off the sour rhubarb.  (Recipe here.)

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Enjoying the bubble
Sahadi’s Lebanese Lentil Soup with Spinach

skipaheadLittle K has hit another milestone in life. I stopped hauling his carseat everywhere. He now sits all by himself in the front of the shopping cart eyeballing all the shoppers around him and straining to reach whatever is close enough for him to yank off the shelf. I have so much fun shopping with him, I barely notice what’s going on around me and I sit and chat with him even though he’s not quite able to chat back. “Where do you think they hide the mayo, kid?” “Do you want turkey and rice or chicken and apples?”

When I went into Target the other day though, I noticed a mom putting a baby seat into the shopping cart. I peered into the carseat and saw a very new, very sweet little girl. Her momma was inspecting and reinspecting the way the carseat latched and then, when all looked well, she pushed the cart off into the produce area, all the while in her own little bubble. She was beaming (both momma and baby) and each only had eyes for the other.

It made me feel very nostalgic for a time that was only a season ago. I can remember the first time E and I took Little K to the store and how many people remarked about how tiny he was. I’m sure we had that bubble around us too. Walking in a daze, bumping into endcaps, grinning like a fool. It’s funny how the everyday, mundane tasks – like grocery shopping – can become such special little moments between momma and baby. In the not-to-far future, Little K will want to walk on his own and I’ll miss the squirming, grabby, handle-sucking baby in the front of my cart. Until then, I’m happy to enjoy the bubble.


Sahadi’s Lebanese Lentil Soup with Spinach

Overall: five-star

When I met E he had really tall hair. Like no one ever told him to trim his frizzy hair shorter than 3 inches and use pomade. It wasn’t the best look for him, but luckily I looked past that and looked at what counted. That’s what you need to do here. Look past the uglier than 3-inch tall hair, to the amazing, fresh, yummy flavor. (Recipe here, from Bean By Bean: A Cookbook.)

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Mark Me Tardy
Spotted Cow Honey Bread

skipaheadOh hi.

Don’t mind me, I’m just that kid slipping quietly into class trying to pretend that I’m not tardy. Yeah, it’s been a while since we chatted. Uh, sorry ’bout that. I won’t belabor the boring day-to-day of my life, but it involved my good friend Kerin having a beautiful baby girl, me doing a crazy amount of house prep (We’re about to put our house on the market! Who wants to move to Minnesota? Anyone, anyone?), and trying to keep my head above water at work while we’re missing our leadership.

Little K is jealous of this girl's fabulous head of hair!

Little K is jealous of this girl’s fabulous head of hair!

In the last week my baby turned nine. months. He’s army crawling all over the place, waving buh-bye, and starting to mimic words. Next week he’ll be going to kindergarten, the next week he’ll be driving, and then he’ll be moving out and starting college.

He points out everything these days. He's pointing at Waldo dog in this picture. Kid loves his doggies.

He points out everything these days. He’s pointing at Waldo dog in this picture. Kid loves his doggies.

Hopefully life will calm down and let me check in with you a whole heck of a lot more often. If not, maybe it’s because our house sold the first week we put it on the market. Lets you and I hope for that, mmkay?


Spotted Cow Honey Bread

Overall: three-star

This is the quickest, easiest bread I’ve ever made. The flavor doesn’t rock your world, but it’s a good one to pair with soup or to load with butter and jam. Plus – there is beer in it… Oh, and not just any beer – New Glarus beer! Brewed just a hop and a skip from my hometown!  (Recipe here, from Conscious Kitchen.)

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Pretty Good Odds: Giveaway for Garlic Chopper

I mentioned last week that I’m giving away three of these hot little numbers:

Three. And so far we have two people entered. I’m not much of a numbers freak, but I think those are pretty damn good odds. If I were you, I’d enter. The giveaway ends Wednesday, May 15th, 2013 at 8am CST, so enter today. Here’s how: leave any old comment on the garlic bread post here. That’s it. Pretty complex stuff, right?

But wait, there’s more! You can get extra entries (and give yourself even better odds if that’s even possible at this point) if you:

Just make sure you leave me a separate comment for each entry (so if you’re a twitter and facebook follower, leave me a total of three separate comments) so you get the entries in the drawing!


Weeeee! Garlic Chopper Giveaway
Garlic Bread

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**This giveaway is now closed, thanks for all the follows and comments! Holly, Sherry, and Jenny each won a garlic chopper of their very own! (Ladies – check your email for more info!)***

Before I had Little K I remembered friends telling me how your vocabulary, movie catalog, and music presets change so much after you have a baby. Instead of Maroon 5 it’s the Wiggles, instead of damn it’s oh gosh!, instead of Hangover 3 it’s Baby Einstein. I always laughed at their joke, but didn’t quite understand how right they were. I guess I always thought it was a conscious effort to sensor yourself. You stub your toe and rather than swearing like a sailor you look over at that sweet smiling baby and say, “whoops a daisy!” Maybe it starts out like that, until you find yourself saying, “weeeee!” to an empty car. True story.

The other day I was rounding a particularly tight corner and suddenly I heard myself saying, “Weeeeeee!” I cut myself short in bafflement. I didn’t just say that, did I? (When I hit a big bump or round a tight corner, I always tell Little K, “Hold on!” or “Weee!,” even though I have him strapped so tight in that car seat we could probably be off-roading in the Rocky Mountains and he wouldn’t have a clue.) I have a long car ride to get to work each day and my fellow commuters know that you start to have conversations with the radio – “Oh Baloney! It’s gonna be 85 on Monday, in your dreams, punk.”  you talk out loud to yourself about your day – “Gotta get that TPS report filed!” – and you even have one-sided conversations with the cars around you – “Ok sweetie, you have plenty of room – just merge already! Mmkay?” But what you do not do is talk in baby voice about the man walking his doggie or how bumpy a ride it is, and you certainly don’t yell out weeee! when you’re coming off an exit ramp!

But I did and I sat there stewing in embarrassment for a minute before I started giggling and said “WEEEEEEEEE!” even louder. I am comfortable with the fact that I’m a Mom through and through now – even when baby isn’t in the car – and, heck, it’s fun to say weeeee! And so, because I want you to say weeee, I am giving away three rolling garlic choppers! The details to enter are at the end of this post.


Garlic Bread

Overall: five-star

You guys, how did I not know garlic bread was so easy to make?! I have to admit, I’ve always bought the pre-buttered garlic french loaf from the bakery section of my grocery store, rather than just making it myself. I thought it had to be kind of a pain to prepare and probably wouldn’t taste as good. But it’s yummy and easy. #totalpackage  (Recipe here, Simply Recipes.)

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Dinner Parties are Dangerous
Vegan Fruit Tart

skipaheadI mentioned that we went to a dinner party a couple weekends ago and hung out with Jenny and Cait, two of E’s friends from his home town. And I think I told you that Jenny is vegan, but what I didn’t mention is that Cait’s husband Steve is allergic to peanuts. Last time we had the group over to our house I was a proud hostess, offering up all sorts of nuts to my vegan friend. Only to find out later that poor Steve was sitting on the other side of the room, not because I smelled, but because of all the nuts! This time I decided I could do better and find a dish that the lovely vegan could enjoy, and the anti-peanut man wouldn’t die from. Reasonable, right?

E had a brilliant idea of looking up Jenny’s Pinterest dessert board and raiding one of the good recipes from it. Unfortunately most of the recipes involved peanuts, or Nutella, or almond milk – or any other variety of nut-related item. I didn’t know Steve’s exact allergy and decided to just avoid the whole nut thing all together. I almost gave up on the idea though, until I came to a pin at the very bottom of her board: fruit tart!


Vegan Fruit Tart

Overall: three-star

Awesome flavor, though it does take a little effort and patience to prepare. Best prepared, immediately baked, and served warm.  (Recipe here, original from A, B, C, Vegan.)

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Green French Fries and Why I Blog
Baked Asparagus with Parmesan

skipaheadHave you noticed all the goings on around Krystal cooks.? New follow tools, recent posts information at the end of a post, and fancy schmancy recipe pages for the handful of recipes I have to post here on my site.

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You may have also noticed the slower load times, random error messages, and down time. Well the good and the bad is because of a move I decided to make to WordPress.org. Instead of having WordPress host my site, I’m hosting it now. It means I can have more control over my layout and install some pretty awesome widgets (like the Recipe Card plugin I’m using for my recipes. Love it!!) And I suppose it’s unreasonable to expect a completely hiccup-free transition, so we’re grappling with some error messages and load time issues. I sincerely hope you’ll tell me what you like, what’s frustrating you, what you wish the site could do, or if you see anything wonky. I appreciate all your feedback!

I’ve been having so much fun finding new plugins for the site and trying to figure out why Publicize isn’t working anymore, and this post over on Blonde Ambition got me to thinking about why I’m blogging in the first place. Honestly, the blog was conceived and born in a matter of hours. I was making dinner one night – a particularly irritating cookbook recipe – and telling E how much it frustrated me that on paper the recipe looked fast and easy and manageable. Hours later and loads of dishes, we were eating a mediocre meal of spaghetti and meat balls. I said I wished there was a resource that you could go to that would give you a full review of the recipe, done by a real person, so you could trust that the recipe was as true to form as the cookbook and pictures let on. E and I both decided it was an idea worth pursuing and later that night E and I had the site set-up and the concept mapped out. 

Fast forward a few months and we’re still here plugging along. The blog is turning out to be a lot more than a place to share quality recipes. It’s a hobby. It’s a diary. It’s a letter to friends. It’s a way to make friends. It’s a place to connect. I’m so glad you’re here and you’re reading along. I hope you’ll help me out by sharing a page, offering up a comment, trying out a recipe, submitting a recipe for me to review, or letting me know how my site could be more useful. In the meantime, I’ll be here working away at a never-ending list of recipes to try.


Baked Asparagus with Parmesan

Overall: five-star

Ooo, I love asparagus. I didn’t think I did as a kid, but it was mostly because my family liked to cook the hell out of it. Mmm, smooshy. Asparagus is delicious and full of flavor. You can eat it fresh, steam it just enough to cut the crisp, or give it a quick bake to roast and bring out the flavor even more. This recipe is fast and easy, and so delicious. It’s a total package (maybe the first of the month? Yikes!).  (Recipe here, from Simply Recipes.)

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Quality Time with My DVR
Dry Manhattan with Drambuie

skipaheadA couple of weeks ago my Dad showed me how to make a Dry Manhattan using two of his favorite drink ingredients: Drambuie and bitters. Given my current fascination with Scotland and the Outlander Series, I was excited to find that Drambuie is a Scottish liqueur. Apparently Drambuie originated from one of the most important historical figures in Scotland. When Bonnie Prince Charlie came to Scotland in 1745 to make his gallant, but unsuccessful, attempt to regain the throne of his ancestors, he presented the recipe to a MacKinnon of Skye as a reward for his services. The Drambuie Bottle New Design 2009 Imagesecret of its preparation has remained with the MacKinnon family, and the family has manufactured it to this day. It is the only traditional liqueur to use a base of 100% aged Scotch Whiskies, many of which are 15 to 17-year-old malts, blended with the finest herbs and honey. The word Drambuie comes from the Gaelic: “An Dram Buidheach,” meaning the drink that satisfies. [source]

So, that having solidified Drambuie as my new favorite drink, I decided to make myself one of my Dad’s Manhattan’s to go with the Mad Men episodes I’m currently catching up on. I had planned on watching the two most recent episodes and catching myself up on the season (no spoilers!!), but I only got through one before I stumbled across a show called “Call the Midwife” on Netflix. My new fave. Pretty much anything the BBC is whipping up is my new fave. I’m about halfway through the 6 episodes (watching them in 20 minute increments when Little K lets me have a break), and I’m either on the edge of my seat or holding back tears. Sometimes both. Check it out and let me know what you think!

In the meantime, lets keep this adult beverage train going and whip up a Manhattan and watch a Mad Men. I will be caught up with the season in time for this Sunday’s latest episode!


Dry Manhattan with Drambuie

Overall: three-star

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Very easy recipe to make, but not really the best drink I’ve ever had. I’ll bust one out in honor of Mad Men every once and again, but for the most part it’s just too strong for me.  (Recipe here.)

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Good friends, good drinks
Honey Lime Margarita

skipaheadOver the weekend we hung out with a couple of long-time friends of E’s and somewhat more recent friends of mine. Cait and Jenny grew up with E. They’re both married – to great guys by the way – and Jenny is expecting a little boy in July. I’m so happy to call them friends and be a part of their lives as we each take on each milestone. Although I’ve only known then for a handful of years, I treasure their friendship and I love that the three Marshall-ites and their spouses all work so well together. I hope to count them as dear friends for years to come.

Jenny and Jon had us all over to their place to catch up and eat super yummy summer food (even though the weather has been pretty anti-summer these days). E and I brought margaritas to share, although the hostess wasn’t allowed to imbibe. (Don’t worry, we made something special for her too – review coming soon!)


Honey Lime Margaritas

Overall: four-star

This was a fairly easy recipe to make if you’re making it for just a couple of people, a little too much trouble if you’re trying to feed the masses. It turned out really tasty and was all too easy to drink!  (Recipe here, from Simply Scratch.)

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