pumpkin spiced jack-o-lantern macarons

2014-10-12 20.27.13

Going out trick-or-treating for Halloween candy was something I looked forward to every year as a kid. I always hoped to get lots of fun size Snickers bars, and always scoffed at the ever-present rolls of Smarties candies that would accumulate in my pumpkin shaped pail. Come on, those things were barely even candy!

These days, living the life of a gal who’s pushing 31, my trick-or-treating days are long behind me. That doesn’t stop me from still carving jack-o-lanterns to set out in my front yard, watching John Carpenter’s Halloween every year (and It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown — it’s a classic!), and occasionally buying a mixed bag of Halloween candy to snack on hand out to potential trick-or-treaters.

The older I get, the more I embrace those nostalgic Halloween traditions. Living life as an adult, I get the added perk of making my own classier, grown up-friendly Halloween treats, like these adorable pumpkin spiced macarons! Yes, pumpkin spice is everywhere, but I promise you, these actually taste like real pumpkin and spices!

Continue reading

blue ribbon deep fried cheesecake

It’s that time of year again. Time to grab your friends, buy your tickets, take a ride on the ferris wheel, and scarf down some junk food. Yep, it’s time to go to the fair!

When it comes to fair food, there’s pretty much nothing that can’t be deep fried. Coke, beer, butter, they’ve strangely done it all. Some things lend themselves better to a dip into hot oil, like Oreos or dill pickle chips. And cheesecake? You betcha!

2014-10-05 16.50.20

Continue reading

county fair mini corn dogs

It’s that time of year again. Time to grab your friends, buy your tickets, take a ride on the ferris wheel, and scarf down some junk food. Yep, it’s time to go to the fair!

Though most other fairs happen in late summer and early fall, the county fair where I grew up always came through town in April. I still remember seeing the ferris wheel at night all lit up from a distance, and imagining the smell of cotton candy and funnel cakes galore. And what about those bricks of curly fries? So good.

2014-09-28 16.09.05

As a kid, every year when springtime would roll around, there weren’t many events more anticipated than the county fair. Fun nights spent with your friends, winning some stuffed animals at the midway, and gorging yourself on fried foods until you were sick — it was like a dream come true!

Continue reading

old school rectangle pizza

Let me just preface this post by saying: high-end, quality pizza, this is not. This is your deliciously cheesy, tasty, greasy, eat-it-in-shame, so-bad-it’s-good sort of pizza. Don’t dive in expecting chewy, crispy, pillowy crust and high-quality toppings.

2014-09-21 13.37.54

Now that that’s out of the way, this pizza totally brought back the nostalgia in full force. Rectangle pizza was the highlight of my lunch week in elementary school! Everyone looked forward to Pizza Day, even if most of the kids would most certainly go on to enjoy much (MUCH) better pizza. I still look back on this pizza with a certain rose-colored fondness. I know it’s not good quality pizza, but it gets the job done and it brings back happy memories of careless youth. It’s the perfect final post in my back-to-school series, and if you ever had this pizza as a kid, I urge you to make it now. Relish the nostalgia and the grease.

You’re welcome.

Continue reading

classic soft dinner rolls

I can say with extreme confidence that any kid in any school cafeteria in America ate these rolls growing up. At my school, they were ubiquitous with a tray full of mushy spaghetti that, no matter how gross, everyone still seemed to love.

2014-09-15 13.45.08

Here’s something strange that maybe you witnessed during lunch — kids would hollow out the dinner roll and shove the spaghetti inside it, then devour the whole thing. Somehow, this was a thing. Even kids who went to school in other states knew of this! How did this strange method of spaghetti-eating become widespread knowledge? The world may never know.

Continue reading

chicken fried steak fingers with country gravy

Did you ever eat something so bad that it was actually good? That would be the perfect way to describe the oddly named “steak fingers” we were served in my elementary school cafeteria. They were really nothing to write home about, and were surely mass-produced and most definitely frozen at some point in their lives. These steak fingers bore little resemblance to their homemade counterpart, real country-style chicken fried steak.

No matter how awful the cafeteria’s steak fingers were, I couldn’t help but adore them. Something about that tasty combination of steak, formerly-crunchy breading with lots of black pepper, served with a big pile of mashed potatoes and gravy was just magic to me.

2014-09-07 17.30.56

For this recipe, I decided to stay true to the cafeteria’s version in shape only, and go the traditional route for everything else. Real, down-home, crispy chicken fried steak with boatloads of creamy, peppery gravy and a heap of mashed potatoes. Can I get a hell yeah?

Hell yeah.

Continue reading

tart cherry crisp with oaty crumble topping

2014-08-31 18.06.29

It’s now September, which means that most kids have already started school. That means new backpacks, dreaded homework assignments, and the school cafeteria!

Wait… do kids still eat lunch in the cafeteria? The last time I did was probably in 1998, so things may have changed a bit! In the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you some childhood nostalgia in the form of re-vamped — and dare I say delicious? — recipes from those days of eating from plastic lunch trays with your friends by your side.

There were a few dishes served in my school’s cafeteria that I actually didn’t despise. Of course desserts are always high on the list (they’re also kinda hard to mess up), so it’s no wonder that the cherry crisp served at my school was actually top notch.

Continue reading

chocolate-buttermint ice cream sandwiches

You know what the best kind of sandwich is? An ice cream sandwich. It’s only fitting that I’d end my National Sandwich Month series with one!

2014-08-12 14.54.23

I’ve never met someone who would turn down an ice cream sandwich, even those little rectangular storebought ones with the chocolate cookies that stick to your fingers. I’d be really suspicious of a person who’d turn down one of these, made with soft, crumbly chocolate cookies and smushed with Jeni Britton Bauer’s outstanding Savannah Buttermint ice cream!

I don’t know how long I’d been dreaming of having the Jeni’s Ice Cream cookbook. On occasion, when my money was burning a hole in my pocket, I’d pick up a pint of Jeni’s at my local AJ’s store. $12 a pint is not exactly a cheap snack, but ohhh, it was so worth it. But! — Now that I have this book in my possession, I no longer have to shell out tons of money for probably the best ice cream I’ve ever had in my life. I can make it at home now! It’s the perfect ice cream for sandwich-making.

Continue reading

monte cristo sandwiches with dijon mustard + strawberry jam

2014-08-10 12.50.37

Until now, I’d never made a Monte Cristo sandwich before (the horror!).

The idea behind this sandwich is a relatively simple yet decadent one – I’m all for sandwiches that basically use french toast for the bread! – but for some reason, I’d not yet tackled one. They’re perfect for breakfast, even though my breakfast preferences tend toward something a little less rich, like veggie scrambles or a quick bowl of cereal. Monte Cristos are a bit involved, but the payoff is so worth it! You can change it up however you see fit, using sliced turkey and ham (or just using your favorite of the two), different types of cheese (I went with the classic, swiss!), and swapping the strawberry jam for blackberry, raspberry or maybe even apple butter. The powdered sugar dusting is an absolute must in my book, though, so don’t skip it!

Continue reading

brown sugar bacon BLTs with fresh herb mayo

2014-08-04 13.20.33

It’s not an easy task to get me to eat mayonnaise.

Oil? Fine. Eggs? Yeah, sure, why not? Blend them together, and I usually want nothing to do with the whole situation.

I did discover that if I dress up mayo with lots of fresh parsley and chives, it’s insanely good. What would this new fancy mayo be good on? Oh, how about some summertime BLTs with oven-cooked mustard and brown sugar bacon, butter lettuce leaves and some super awesome local sliced tomatoes?

I’m into it. You should be, too!

Continue reading