Adult Cracker Jack


Sugar and Cayenne and everything nice.


Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
2 cups salted peanuts (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (see Note)
3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or coarse sea salt (see Note)


Lightly coat two large, heatproof rubber spatulas, a very large mixing bowl and two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or a thin slick of oil.

In a large saucepan or pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels, cover and keep the saucepan moving until all of the kernels have popped, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared bowl, removing any unpopped kernels. Toss with salted peanuts, if using.

In a small bowl, whisk together the baking soda and cayenne pepper.

Have the two large baking sheets ready. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, salt and 1/2 cup water. Cook over high heat, without stirring, until the mixture becomes a light golden-yellow caramel, 10 to 14 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the baking-soda mixture (the mixture will bubble up).

Immediately pour the caramel mixture over the popcorn and don’t fuss if it doesn’t all come out of the pot — you’ll have plenty. Working quickly and carefully, use the prepared spatulas to toss the caramel and popcorn together, as if you were tossing a salad, until the popcorn is well coated.

Spread the popcorn onto the baking sheets and quickly separate them into small pieces while still warm. Cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes. Once cool, store in an airtight container for up to two weeks or two minutes, if you’ve got a family like mine.

This is where I found the recipe here at Smitten Kitchen.

Berries and Buttermilk

Berry muffins with lemon icing.


2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1  cup blueberries and raspberries


Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, egg, buttermilk, and vanilla.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until mixed (the batter will not be smooth). Gently stir in fruit.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins; fill the cups almost to the top. Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 18 minutes.

Mix juice of one lemon with about 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and ice muffins.

I got the recipe here.

Oatmeal Cookie with Brown Butter Icing

Brown butter icing makes these oatmeal cookies a bit more special.


2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups loosely packed brown sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Brown Butter Icing
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons milk


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place half of the oats in a food processor and pulse until the oats are chopped up, some flour-like, but some pieces remaining. In a bowl, combine all of the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and salt. Whisk together.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the egg and egg yolk, then the vanilla, until smooth and combined. Take a large spoon and stir in the dry ingredients, mixing until a dough forms.

Scoop the dough out using an ice cream scoop (you want about 2 tablespoons of dough) and place on the parchment paper 2 inches apart. I put 6 on a baking sheet – because they will spread! Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until golden on the edges and thin and chewy. Remove and let cool completely.

Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add butter. Whisk constantly until melted, then continue to whisk as bubbles form, the butter begins to foam, and eventually brown bits appear in the bottom of the pan. This will take about 5-6 minutes total. As soon as the brown bits appear, remove from heat. I always stir for an additional 30 seconds or so. Let cool for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl combine brown butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Whisk until the mixture comes together then add in 1 tablespoon of milk, continuing to mix. I always stir my glazes for a good 3-4 minutes so they really come together. If it still doesn’t appear glaze-like, add in milk 1/2 tablespoon at a time and mix again. Don’t worry if it becomes too liquidy – just add a tiny bit of powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cookies.

I got the recipe here.

Lemon Buttermilk Pie


Pie. Because Tuesdays are boring.

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup room-temperature buttermilk

4 eggs, room temperature

6 tablespoons cooled melted butter

zest and juice of 1 lemon

9” graham cracker crust


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together sugars, flour, and salt in a bowl.

Whisk buttermilk, eggs, melted butter, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Whisk in the sugar mixture.

Pour into pie crust and bake for about 45 minutes until just set. Let cool and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

I worked with this recipe.

Carrot Ginger Sesame Loaf

I found this at the Food52 website but couldn’t find the black sesame seeds.  I added some raising and some walnuts.


½ cup melted butter, cooled

2 cups flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

½ cup applesauce

½ cup almond milk

1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ teaspoon sea salt

2 large carrots (7 oz. total) coarsely grated

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup golden raisins

2 tablespoons sesame seeds


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 8½ by 4½–inch loaf pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.

In a large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, applesauce, almond milk, ginger, vanilla, and salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture, followed by the carrots, raisins and walnuts, and finally the butter.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the sesame seeds. Bake until the middle of the loaf has puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes.

Let cool completely in the pan before slicing.

I got the recipe here.

Hot Chocolate Cookies


Cayenne pepper is what makes this chocolate hot. 


1 stick unsalted butter

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 cup flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. 

In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate together, whisking until glossy and smooth.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla and eggs on low speed until well combined. Pour in the cooled chocolate and continue to mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
In a medium bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cayenne pepper. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate batter and mix on low speed until just combined and no visible flour remains. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
Working in two batches, scoop 12 balls of dough (preferably using a small ice cream scoop with a spring handle, about 1 1/2 tablespoon size) onto a parchment-lined sheet pan leaving at least 1 1/2 inches of space between each cookie.
Bake the cookies for approximately 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time. The cookies should be puffy and still fairly soft when removed from the oven. 

Immediately slide the cookies, still on the parchment paper, onto a wire cooling rack. Cool just a bit before serving, 5 to 10 minutes. Cookies can be stored in airtight container for up to three days, but I prefer them on the day they are baked.

I worked with this recipe.

Mom’s Cheesecake

This has been a family favorite ever since I can remember. I just added some chocolate on top.


1 lb. cream cheese

1 lb ricotta

1 lb sour cream

scan cup of sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons corn starch

3 tablespoons flour

Chocolate Topping

4 oz. chocolate chips

4 oz. melted butter


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grease a spring form pan (medium sized).

Blend all ingredients with hand mixer until smooth. Bake for 1 hour and then turn off oven and leave for 2 hours.

Melt butter and pour over chocolate.  Let chips melt and then pour over cake. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.



Cream Cheese Brownies


When a regular brownie won’t do. Not that there is anything wrong with a regular brownie.


1 package cream cheese, softened (8 oz.)

¼ cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

¼ cup butter

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

½ cup white sugar

2 eggs

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.

Combine cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar and 1 egg in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth. Stir 1 cup chocolate chips into the cream cheese mixture. Set aside.

Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat off, and set a heatproof mixing bowl over the water. In the mixing bowl, combine butter with the remaining cup of chocolate chips; stir until just melted and blended together. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 2 eggs, then sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into chocolate until evenly blended.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared baking pan. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the chocolate layer. Top with remaining chocolate mixture (this doesn’t need to completely cover the cream cheese layer). Using a knife, swirl the top chocolate layer into the cream cheese to make a marble pattern.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until top is crinkled and edges pull away from sides of the pan. Cool thoroughly. Cut into 12 to 16 squares.

I worked with this recipe.


Russian Honey Cake from Smitten Kitchen

I wanted to make this cake for it focused on techniques that I have never done before. Thanks to Smitten Kitchen for the inspiration. You can find the original post here.


Cookie Layers

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups flour, divided

Frosting and Filling

32 ounces sour cream

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk


Begin the day before: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Get 2 baking sheets (or even better, round pizza pans) down, more if you have them. Tear off 6 sheets of parchment paper large enough to have a 9-inch circle on it.

Make cookie/cake dough: In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar, honey and butter over medium heat. Once simmering, cook for 3 to 4 minutes (no specific temperature needed), it should get a faint shade darker and smell wonderful. Whisk in baking soda.

Remove from heat and set aside for 2 to 3 minutes. It’s not going to significantly cool off, just settle a little. Lightly beat your eggs in a spouted measuring cup (for easiest pouring) or small bowl. Whisking the honey mixture vigorously in the pot the whole time, drizzle the thinnest stream (think: 1/2 teaspoon at a time, that slowly) of the eggs into the honey mixture. Do not stop mixing. Continue until all of the eggs are thoroughly whisked in.

Stir in the salt and vanilla and 3 cups (390 grams) of the flour with a spoon. The dough is going to be thick like a bread but you’ve got this. Stir in the last 1/2 cup of flour 1/4 cup at a time.

Shape and bake the cookies/cakes: Lightly flour your counter and divide the still-warm dough into 8 even pieces. Roll the first one between two sheets of parchment paper (no flouring needed) to a slightly-bigger-than-9-inch round. Remove top sheet of parchment paper. Very lightly dust the top with flour if you’re going to put something on it (such as the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan or the rim of a 9-inch bowl) to trim the shape to an even 9-inch circle. Save the trimmings — put them aside on one of the sheets of parchment paper, it’s fine if they overlap a little. Dock the circle all over with a fork. Slide your 9-inch round onto a baking sheet and bake for 6 to 7 minutes; it should feel firmish and get slightly darker at the edges. Slide the cookie onto a cooling rack. Go ahead and reuse the parchment for another layer.

Meanwhile, while the first layer is baking, roll out your second piece so it’s ready to go into the oven as soon as the first comes out. If you’re making good time, get the third ready too and continue to bake them two at a time. Keep adding the unbaked cookie trimmings onto one piece of parchment paper. Repeat this process as you bake each round and you’ll have all 8 baked before you know it.

Finally, take that last sheet of parchment with all of the cookie scraps on it and slide it onto a baking sheet and bake it, checking in at 4 minutes, because the thinnest scraps will want to burn quickly. By 5 minutes, all should be baked until pale golden. Let cool completely.

Fill and frost the cake: Whisk sour cream and sweetened condensed milk together in a large bowl. Once cookies are cool, place a dab of the sour cream mixture on your cake plate and place the first cookie on top of it to help adhere it.

Scoop 3/4 cup sour cream mixture onto the center of your first cookie layer. Spread it only a little from the center, leaving a good 1- to 2-inch margin of unfrosted cookie. Stack the second cookie on top and repeat until you have 8 layers.

This will quickly become a huge mess. The sour cream is going to spill out and down the sides anyway. It’s also going to want to slide around and not stay neatly stacked. It’s totally okay because the filling will thicken as it absorbs into the cookies. Put the cake in the fridge for a couple hours (1 to 3) and when you come back to it, nudge the stack gently back into place and use a spoon and icing spatula to scoop the spilled-out filling back up the sides and onto the top of the cake. Don’t worry about it looking neat. Let it chill overnight.

The next day, finish the cake: Grind your baked, reserved cookie scraps in a blender or food processor, or bash them into crumbs in a bag with a rolling pin.

Take your cake out and do one final frosting clean-up. Spread any newly puddled sour cream back up the sides and across the top. If you’d like to make a decoration on top of your cake, take one of those used pieces of parchment paper and cut a stencil with it. Place it gently on top of the cake.

Use a small spoon to sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the crumbs. In the coolest trick I saw on a cooking video, use a pastry brush to gently brush the crumbs off the stencil and across the cake in a thin layer. Remove the stencil and parchment paper strips and look at that clean serving plate.

You can serve the cake right away, or keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days. When slicing, I found that a knife dipped in hot water made picture-perfect cuts.

Raisin & Rye Soda Bread


I’ve been sick for a few days and have not been able to bake.  Thought I’d get back in the saddle with this simple, delicious fave.



Nonstick spray

2 cups flour

5 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon salt to sprinkle on top of bread

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes

1 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup raisins

1 tablespoon caraway seeds


Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins.

Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and caraway seeds.

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I worked with this recipe.