Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last Week and Peppermint Marshmallows

Last week was exhausting.  Here is what worked:

Mexican Chocolate Crinkle Cookies - Phenomenal. Not just as in "we both know I'm a phenomenal dancer."  The best cookie I've made in a long time. Better than World Peace Cookies. Seriously. When I made those I couldn't stop eating the dough, but these are better.

were wonderful as well, but very complicated. It cemented its status as something that is the quintessential Christmas cookie (say that twelve times fast). Using all kinds of holiday spices, it is finicky enough that you're a better woman than me if you're willing to make them for just any old weekday. And we all know I'm willing to make just about anything for any old weekday. One of my taste testers said they reminded him of German stollen, but in cookie form. Another, who lived in Germany and has had The Real Deal, was impressed by them, knowing the work that they require.

was great, a little on the skinny side.

I was happy with just about everything I made. Especially the mexican crinkle cookies. Wow. Look for that recipe here sometime soon - as soon as I bake some more and have them pose for me. 

The marshmallows had a great flavor, but their texture was a little funny. Because I added actual pumpkin puree to the meringue-candy base, they were wetter and less springy than a person expects from a marshmallow.  They got consumed, no worries there. My brain began to wander... how to make hot chocolate's perfect companion a little fancier. With peppermint.

Friday, December 24, 2010

For Unto Us An Oven Is Born!

For unto us an oven is given.
Unto us, an oven is born!
And the government shall be upon its shouuuuuulders!
And its name shall be called WONDERFUL!  OOOOOOVEN!!!

And this is where the analogy of my new oven to the Baby Jesus (haps to the bday dude!) ends.

Goodbye Old Oven, we don't miss you at all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Things I am Baking Today

I don't work today, thanks "flexible schedule" (don't worry, I'll be working on boxing day). Instead I got up at the crack of 10 and got to grocery shopping for my Holiday Baking Session (sorry sister, these all require the use of an oven. Some also require a stove). Here is what I'm attempting:
  1. Mexican chocolate crinkles (chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, chile powder)
  2. Marshmallows (sugar and more sugar, and gelatin)
  3. Fudge (chocolate, sugar, butter, delicious)
  4. Lebkuchen (all kinds of fanciness)
  5. Linzer cookies (almond, raspberry, C Fierce's favorite) 
I think I have every base covered, including sugar coma. What's the over under on Stomachache Onset Hour?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When your oven breaks ...

You feel really sad.

Then you turn off the gas and open the windows so you don't die. 

Then you order Chinese.  And hope your landlord reads your blog and buys you a new oven.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Quick Cast Iron Chicken Wings

At Casi di Fierce, we watch a lot of football.  Plans are made from September to February well in advance.  Saturdays & Sundays = football = chicken wings. (And beer, but that's another story.  But it might explain why these photos are not that focused.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Buckeyes Proper

We know you're probably getting ready for the biggest feast of the year - and so are we. We are coordinating side dishes and rounding up enough utensils so that we don't have to wash between turkey and the other main course, dessert.  There is also another Major Calendar Event coming up: Game Day. In solidarity with every other Buckeye Fan in the Nation, and the state of Ohio, we present to you, Buckeyes Proper. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Eight Down, Five to Go

Hey internet!  How's it going?  I'm good.  I have what some people would refer to as "a tan" (or, others, "normal human coloring").  Thanks, Hawaii!  You were awesome.  You are also good at mai tais, happy hour all the time, Japanese tourists, Louis Vuitton, and sunshine.  In no particular order.  Keep it up!
 Anyway, enough about Hello Kitty-themed buffet restaurants.  Do you remember when I broke my camera, got a new one, said I would blog All The Time and Be Really Good At The Internet, and even made a list to prove it?  That was a long time ago.  

Let's see where we stand on my commitment to you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

While C Fierce is sunning herself on island beaches, hiking up volcanoes and eating all the pineapple and macadamia nuts she can get her hands on, fall in Virginia is in full swing. There are jack-o-lanterns on porches and red yellow and orange leaves on the trees. I have to reassure myself that fall is fun, even as there is frost on my car in the morning, the promise of the ice that will come. The only way I can do it is by thinking of the best and biggest holiday of all, right around the corner. That, and the pumpkin muffins on my plate for breakfast. 

These muffins are sweet but not overly so. Walnuts and golden raisins are a welcome surprise that keep it from being every other pumpkin muffin you've had. They're incredibly moist, even a few days after they're baked.  I left a few at a friend's who unlike me showed restraint, and when we got into them a few days later they were still wonderful. No microwaving needed. 

Pumpkin Muffins
From the always wonderful Dorie Greenspan: Baking: From my home to yours. 

2 Cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch ground allspice
1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup golden raisins (I think dried apricots would be wonderful here)
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
about 1/3 cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds for topping

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Get 12 cupcake molds ready with butter or paper liner. 

Whisk the dry ingredients together.

Using a stand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until soft. Add the sugars, beat until light and smooth. The mixture will get lighter when a lot of air has been incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time and mix between additions until they are incorporated. Beat in the vanilla. 

Lower the speed of the mixer. Add buttermilk and pumpkin, mixing until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until they disappear. Stir in the raisins and nuts. Divide the batter among your 12 cups and sprinkle the sunflower seeds over top. Bake for 25 minutes or until a thin knife (anyone else use a piece of spaghetti?) inserted comes out clean. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Grapefruit, Fennel and Herb Salad

I am afraid of cooking. 

I'm going to try to learn how, and to get myself into the swing of things, I'm starting out easy with a salad. Can J Fierce chop?  Yes she can.  Can J Fierce slice? Yes she can (and so can her mandoline).  Can J Fierce section? Yes she can, although it is more complicated.  Can J Fierce toss? Yes she can. (C Fierce note: what is this, an Obama rally? I thought we were a cooking blog.)

To review:
Chop Herbs
Slice Fennel
Section Grapefruit
Toss together. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bad Blogger Chili & Cornbread

I am a bad blogger.  Recent C Fierce Life Events that have kept me from Le Blog include but are not limited to:
  • Moving apartments.
  • A war with the United States Postal Service - "delivering the mail" is not something they do well, let's not even get into this.  However if you need any phone numbers to high-ranking USPS officials just let me know.
  • Ninety degree days in October that make me want to do anything BUT turn on the oven.  Last night I had strawberries and sour cream for dinner.  (Trust me: delicious.)
  • General lack of effort towards kitchen-related activities.
  • Not being able to open up the end of my camera to put the pluggy-inny thingy in it to add photos to my computer because YEAH I work in the IT industry and I'm good at computerz.
  • Driving a car.  This might sound strange to our non-DC readers, but it is a Huge Life Change for me.  Stay off the roads.
I know, pathetic.  And inexcusable to our twelve readers (Hi Mom!).  What can I say? I'm a bad blogger.  Sigh.

Here is some chili and cornbread we made yesterday.  
That is queso fresco and avocado on that chili.  (Guess who likes to play with the Hipstamatic iPhone app.  THIS GIRL.  Especially when she can't use her regular camera because she's a dingbat.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

It happens just once a year, every year, on the same day.  You get your very own special holiday, where you are free to revert back to an eight-year-old child and do things a certain way just because you can.  Things like eat ice cream for breakfast, have a bundle of helium balloons follow you around work all day, wear a paper crown. Well, it was his. Celebrations were in order. Last year I made these.  How could I top that?

There were clues all year.  Seconds on dessert at the holiday staff party, certain dinners out, repeatedly getting the same thing when He Never Even Wants Dessert!  That kind of thing. I had an inkling.

Boston Cream Pie it is.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Angel Food Cake with Blueberry Sauce

Do you ever look at an angel food cake and think, man, they make them too cheap for me to ever try that at home! I do, a lot. It could be because I spend most of my waking hours surrounded by food, but they've been taunting me for a while from their perch in the bakery: Psst ... J Fierce, don't you want to break down and actually purchase a baked good? Not just the ingredients for a baked good? Over here you can get all the flavor and none of the hassle, mess or cleanup ...

I'm here to tell you, those cakes are no angels.  Far from it. Their goal is to make you full, and leave your curiosity for kitchen taste testing unsatisfied. If only they knew that comments like that only make me steel myself harder against them. You know the philosophy over here with The Sisters Fierce. Why buy something I can make at home for twice the cost and double the effort? 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Coconut Rice Pudding

Hello internet! Guess what, I made something! In the kitchen, on the stovetop. Something with milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla.... aren't you proud?  One of my unmentioned August goals was to make something gluten-free and celebratory (unmentioned because I didn't know if I would have time to fit it in and I didn't want to make any promises).  I envisioned something majestic, with piles of frosting, something worthy of celebrating both a birthday and going away occasion in one splendid baked good.


Let me tell you how that went down. I looked and looked through my 37 baking books. I was hunting for something either gluten free or with a small amount of flour so that I could substitute it for rice flour. Thirty-seven books (that's my ballpark estimate, I haven't really counted ... yet), and not one appropriate towering cake recipe.  I was discouraged.  I paced and huffed. Then I improvised.  What is delicious and rarely ever made by hand any more? That's right, internet! Pudding!
Coconut rice pudding.  Creamy and chewy, delicious warm right out of the pot or cold from the tupperware in the fridge. Bonus: solid enough to hold candles!

Coconut Rice Pudding for two, adapted from Cooking for Two 2009
1 cup water
1/2 cup arborio rice 
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups milk (use whole or half and half, just not skim)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Bring the water to boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the rice and salt. Cover, simmering over low heat until the water is almost entirely absorbed. This should take between 10-15 minutes.
Stir in coconut milk, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Continue simmering, stirring frequently, 45-55 minutes, or until a spoon (or in this case, a celebratory candle) can stand up easily in the pudding. Serve warm or chilled, if you can wait. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Too Hot To Cook

All this summertime vacationing -- and hosting vacationers! -- has equaled lots of dinners out, in town and away from home, for the Sisters Fierce.  We've had lobster, steak up to our ears, peach cobblers in spades, crabcakes out the wazoo ... you get the point.  And all these amazing dinners mean that sometimes all a girl wants is a simple dinner at home.  And when this particular girl gets home and the hour hand has nudged beyond 8pm, the last thing she want to do is cook. 

I especially do not want to cook, if, at 8pm, the temperature is still hovering near 80 degrees, which is unfortunately highly typical for my fair city.  In fact, in its early days, my town was deemed a "hardship" post for foreign ambassadors due to its swamplike conditions.  Deeeelightful!

Enter C Fierce's Summer Weeknight Dinner to the rescue.
Please ignore my giant thumb.  It's the same size as the raspberry.  That is not normal.
That's crackers, goat cheese, fruit and some honey.  (Sometimes there is balsamic vinegar if I'm feeling extra fancypants!)  I eat this meal, or a variation of it, at least three nights a week.  Especially if no one else is home and I know I'm going to just eat the goat cheese standing in front of the fridge with a spoon so why not put it on a plate in the first place, self.
Oh lord it's even bigger here ... You don't even know how hard it is to type with these things.

C Fierce's Weeknight Summer Dinner

Crackers (as many as you can get out of the cellophane wrapper without them breaking, eat the ones you broke standing over the sink)
Fruit (at least as many pieces/slices of fruit as you have crackers)
Goat cheese (way more than you think is necessary because you know you're going to eat it off the plate anyway)
Honey (a little prep-bowl-full)
Optional: Lemon juice, cracked black pepper, fancy salts, whatever the heck you think tastes good


Put the ingredients on a plate.
Eat them.
The end.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August Goals (and apricot cherry pie)

I meant to tell you about this cherry pie weeks ago.  Before I moved for the first time this summer, and before I hit critical mass with my courses.  The bottom was layered with apricots, baked in the only pie dish not packed yet, and cut with my finest silver. Obviously. 

See, when you score cherries for the deal I did (the deal of the summer, weeks ago, when they were at their peak), and you already packed all ten of your pie plates (yes, I really have ten, anywhere from 2"-9" in diameter) you just make do. You borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor, some corn starch, and then you don't use enough of it because you're trying to eyeball a tablespoon since all of those are packed too, and it seems like a lot because its corn starch and you don't want the thing to gum up.  So even though this apricot cherry pie was a little bit liquid-y, it didn't exactly go to waste.  Pie? yes, make do would be the term. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

July, where did you go?

So, um ... where have we been?  That's a good question.  We have posts drafted - lots of them!  We promise.  We have all kinds of things to tell you about!  Seriously.  We've been eating lots of good food, some of it stuff we even made.  There are granola bars, and cakes, and homemade juice.  There are cherry pies.  And steak for breakfast.  And and and.

It's just that, well, we've been a little busy.  C Fierce went on vacation.
She did some blueberry picking, too, and got her blueberry-picking-butt kicked by KFTF's mom (remember him?) who somehow managed to pick eight pounds of blueberries in four minutes.  (There are rumors out there that she might be taking blueberry-picking-performance-enhancing-drugs, but more on the juice later.)

J Fierce moved.  Twice.  (She has a very bad habit of doing this every ten to twelve months.  She keeps your address book on your toes.)

July, it seems, has gotten away from us.  Don't despair, internet friends (and the ten followers who read us who are not related to us - seriously, who are you people? we love you. Tell your friends about us).  Once the dust settles - and J unpacks, by which time she will be ready to move again - we'll be back on track with all those delicious little posts.

Stay tuned, because we miss you, too. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mama Fierce's Strawberry Pie

Remember how we promised to post some mom recipes after Mother's Day?  And then how we didn't post a single thing, nothing, for two entire weeks?  Well, I'm blaming that on my sister, but I can tell you that it was worth the wait. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Carrot Cake Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

People of the internet.  Stop whatever it is that you're doing.  Look at this cookie, hovering in the ether.  Don't you want to just reach through your computer screen, grab a hold of that sucker and just devour it?

Yes, I thought so too.

Go get yourself some carrots, a bottle of Maker's Mark, some raisins and a lemon.  You are going to need a few more things but these are a very good start.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Father's Day, Papa Fierce

Happy Father's Day to our Papa Fierce!
Somebody just said "Hey! Who wants pie!"

In honor of our dad, we're both going to go to the grocery store under the pretense of picking up milk, eggs and bread.  We'll go straight to the deli counter, order a half a pound each of at least six different sliced cold cuts and cheese, then we'll swing by the snack aisle and pick up a few bags of chips.  (Ruffled, if you please.)  Man cannot live on bread alone, so the saying goes.  Man needs some deli meat to survive.

In continuing our Parental Unit Appreciation Series, here's a few things we've learned from our dad over the years.
  1. The early bird gets the black raspberries on their cereal in the morning.  Growing up, we had raspberry bushes in our backyard and our dad was always the one out in the garden first, stockpiling the fruit for breakfast.  It pays to get up early when fresh fruit is involved. 
  2. Dessert is a must, even if its just some jam on toast.
  3. The one condiment we will always have on hand, in at least seven different varieties, is jam.  See #2.
  4. When dining out with the family, say you aren't hungry and just order soup and salad.  Then make sure to load up on everyone else's entree.  It helps to get an extra dinner plate from the waiter to do this properly.  Papa Fierce has perfected this trick to the point where we know what's going to happen once the "I'm not that hungry" comes out of his mouth. Guard your entrees.
  5. Make sure you always have a few varieties of cold cuts on hand so when no one wants to cook, a sandwich is always an option.  Trust us: a sandwich is ALWAYS an option.
  6. Are you still hungry?  Offer to help. Papa Fierce is always ready to do some of the sous-chef work of peeling apples or pitting cherries to jump start the pie-making process.  He once deveined two pounds of shrimp on Christmas Day in no time flat only to get to that shrimp cocktail awaiting him. 
Don't forget to thank your own father for the foibles that make your family so much fun. And if you see our Dad, tell him The Sisters Fierce love him, but could he please just save us some deli meat. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Crunchy Granola

Oh, granola.  You are such a fickle creature, aren't you?  Crunchy or chewy.  Bars or ... cereal.  With chocolate or without.  Coconut?  Maybe.  There are as many varieties of granola as there are fish in the sea.  Okay, maybe not that many.  But you get my point.

In college I spent a year overseas and became addicted to an unpronounceable brand of granola that to this day makes my heart swoon.  We bought it from the cheap German warehouse grocery store - and I mean, I bought it by the kilo (if you know your conversions, that's really not that much).  Hunks of dark chocolate lurked throughout and stumbling upon them was a revelation.  I ate it for breakfast, I ate it for dessert.  I ate it for a snack, straight out of the box, anytime, all the time.  This granola?  This shit was GOOD.  And I loved it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Raspberry Brownies

I went on vacation, right? This girl who loves to bake, who loves to eat delicious things, went on vacation. Without bringing her most favorite cookbook in the whole wide world (if you've been reading the recipes I don't have to tell you which one this is. If you're curious, do some research). 

I knew I would be relying on modern conveniences like stealing your condo neighbor's wi-fi to check your email, and get recipes. We ate delicious seafood (no, not the kind you're thinking, the subject of my most favorite juvenile joke), white fish topped with green apple compote and fried garlic chips, I swear I'm going to try my hand at that sometime soon, like September. You know, after my sister fulfills goal #2 of Cooking An Entire Fish.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

I made these a few weeks ago.... and its not that they weren't good, its that lately, well, I've been preoccupied. With pedicured toes in the sand, with sunburned legs, with warm breezes, with stacks of trashy novels. Ah, vacation. 

Snap out of it, J Fierce! You're back to real life now. Time to cram in baking around hectic work schedules, working out, that thing you're supposed to eat first called dinner, with reruns on tv. Want to know how these came about? Well, I'll begin at the end. 

There had been a minor natural disaster of some kind in my kitchen: the microwave was covered in butter, the floor with freshly squeezed lemon juice.  In my hand, the fruits (in this case, the muffin-fruits) of my labor: still warm lemon poppyseed muffins. I know you're thinking, when is J Fierce going to get off the lemon poppyseed kick? I hate to break it to you, but this is one of my favorite combinations, so if you don't like it, tough.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spinach Salad with Roasted Cherry Tomato Dressing

I have to admit something, internet.  I do not like grapes.  I know this is very wrong of me, that people go ape over grapes, that they are the classic summertime snack.  I just don't like them.  They make my stomach hurt and I think they are blander than a beige painting on a taupe wall.

However.  I love me some cherry tomatoes.  Lest you think this is a bizarre tangent, think for a moment, please, on the size and shape of grapes and cherry tomatoes.  Pretty much the exact same, right?  Yet grapes, in all their spherical glory, really gross me out.  

Now some cherry tomatoes ... oh my.  I cannot imagine a life on this earth without them - I can easily put away a pint in two minutes flat.  Pop pop popping them in my mouth one at a time until they're gone, they are my grapes.  But cherry tomatoes are better than grapes in so many ways - bet you can't make this delicious salad dressing with a pint of grapes, now can you!  Ha!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Mother's Day, Mama Fierce

Have you mailed your mother's day card yet?  Better get to the post office, kiddos!  Your mom is waiting!  And if you forgot, oh boy.  Call up the flower shop immediately.

What better way to celebrate Mother's Day at The Sisters Fierce than to dedicate a post to our fantastic Mama Fierce?  She's obviously influenced us in many ways, not only genetics and the remarkable ability to turn any sentence into a pout.  (Trust us on this one.  Just ask our boyfriends.)
Look at those babes! Mama Fierce on the right, and our amazingly gorgeous Grandma Ruth, whom we miss very much, every single day.  And we also wish they had held on to their wardrobes - yes, those are little anchors on Mama Fierce's dress.  Ahoy!

Mama Fierce taught us how to drive stick shift, why you should always always ALWAYS wear earrings (you'll feel naked without them), and many other Very Important Life Lessons.  But since this blog revolves around food, we thought we'd share some of the many tips and tricks Mama Fierce taught us in the kitchen.
  1. Confectioner's sugar is not flour.  Mistaking one for the other does not a good broccoli soup make.
  2. The electric cooktop is not the best place to leave a cordless phone (or two or twelve).
  3. Come to think of it, the microwave is also not really a great spot for a wire-framed basket.  Oops.
  4. Don't be afraid to make substitutions. Lasagna will probably be just as good if you realize you don't have enough ricotta so you use cottage cheese instead.  (See #1 when you are curious as to what substitutes well for flour.)
  5. Don't be afraid to stay out of the kitchen for an evening or two. Use up your leftovers. We both inherited the penchant for finishing off random small bits of dinners past from Mama Fierce: occasionally skipping a whole meal and replacing it with a snack when you've eaten well all day is just fine. This is called "grazing."
  6. Stave off the pre-dinner munchies with a pile of crudites.  We think slicing a bunch of veggies was a diversion tactic meant to keep her four wild, ravenous, hungry children out of her hair. It worked and we ate more veggies. 
  7. Does your kitchen stink because you burnt something?  This never happens to us, just so you know. But in case it did... Bring about a cup or so of water to boil on the stove and throw in some cinnamon, cloves, or other aromatic spice.  Let that simmer away for an hour or two and presto chango - stinko gone-o.  
  8. Sometimes, simply setting the table does wonders for your mood.  When we were in high school and had free lunches, each and every Wednesday, Mama Fierce would make us lunch at home.  It could have been blue-box-mac-n-cheese or a plain turkey sandwich, but she always set the table.  Flowers from our backyard garden, real napkins and placemats, too.  Taking the time to make things a little nicer is always worth it.  Our mom always makes sure to tell us she loves us, but more importantly, she always takes the time to show us she loves us, too.
Of course she's also imparted to us some absolutely killer recipes.  We drool just thinking about Mama Fierce's famous summer strawberry pie - and her Texas sheetcake is just absurd. Stay tuned this week for those recipes.  We can't wait to share them with you, and in case she thought we forgot ...

Happy Mother's Day to the greatest mom on earth.  We love you Mama Fierce!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pistachio Tart Cherry Ice Cream

This stuff is amazing.

But I know what you're thinking, who really makes their own ice cream?  I do... sometimes.

A few years ago I got a KitchenAid freezer bowl attachment for Christmas (read: exchanged a pretty cashmere sweater that was under the tree and didn't fit).  I used it once the first year.  It takes forethought (can I really think about what I want to make fifteen hours in advance?). It takes up a lot of space (my freezer is full of breakfast burritos and ling ling spring rolls, so I put it at my boyfriend's. He loves those 9am phone calls: "will you pleeeeease put the ice cream maker in the freezer? I think its under the shelf where your big chili pots are, and if it isn't there check next to the oven or maybe its above the stove and and and and). Then you have to wait even longer, because after you freeze it in the freezer bowl, you have to freeze the custard base in the regular freezer. For three more hours. A lot of waiting. It can be a three day process if you do it the way I do (that is, not planning ahead).

Friday, April 30, 2010

Farmers Market Breakfast

Springtime in DC is a treacherous time.  Will it be humid?  Rainy?  Ninety nine degrees out or 52?  How many tourists will I need to push down the escalators on the metro?  Three minutes into my morning commute today I immediately regretted not wearing tights.  Yes, the weather forecast says it will be 72, but when it's 43 degrees at 7:45am, my legs, they are a-shiverin.

However, with the springtime weather ups and downs comes some forms of sunshine: produce!  At the farmers markets!  Certainly, it is glorious.  There is really nothing that makes a weekend as lovely as a morning walk down to the bustling market, scoping out the vendors, doing some good people watching ... and of course, picking up fresh produce.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Brownies with Cherries and Chiles

I have a cookbook problem.

There is an entire shelf of in my living room stacked with cookbooks. There's more than one that I haven't made a single thing from. I have single topic cookbooks. Take pie, for example. I have three completely devoted to it.  There is also a book solely about macaroons, and I hate to tell you this, but I have never had a macaroon, not once. I'm not even entirely confident about the standard ingredients. I looked through the book, I promise, but I think it may have been written in Engrish and some things definitely didn't quite translate.

You know what gets me about cookbooks? Its leafing through the pages and creating the scenarios where you get to share that meal. Its thinking, oh, that would be fun to bring to a potluck, or my book club.  Or, maybe for Poppa Fierce's birthday I'll try that caramelized pear pie. I like to think about the possibilities in the pages. Its a fun day dream.

Given that, I didn't mean to buy another cookbook today, I swear. It isn't like me to lie and say I totally ignored the cookbook section at the store and that the book literally fell out of the sky accompanied by a live piano performance singing songs of its deliciousness within. Just kidding, it is. If I thought you would believe me. I read each and every title on the shelf, my head cocked slightly sideways like your pup when he's confused.

The book stood out to me, not necessarily because of the brand but the title. Come on, who doesn't love chocolate? So I picked it up and leafed through-I figured it looked pretty good. I continued to browse, looking for bargain Le Creuset (preferably a mini coquette in the shape of a vegetable). I got the thing I had actually come for, and decided I didn't really need the cookbook. So I put it down. 

Then I heard a voice: You should probably just page through it one more time to see if anything jumps out at you, you know, its worth it if you get one good recipe! I obliged my inner shopaholic, and was feeling above the influence until I saw this recipe, the one here after the jump (you didn't think I was going to just let you see it, did you?). This recipe is my favorite chocolate bar in brownie form. I wasn't going to leave without it. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homemade Bagels

Goodness gracious.  We've had this post in the queue for what, oh, four weeks now - we know, we know, we already apologized, but the last month has been a bit ... involved.  So.  Now that we have that out of the way for good, MOVING ON.  Don't these look lovely?
That's J Fierce's poppyseed bagel on the left, and C Fierce's onion garlic salt bagel on the right.  We spent a few days together hanging out at J Fierce's, eating a lot of dried sour cherries, making mango/pineapple/strawberry/mint salsa (it's probably still in the fridge somewhere because someone *ahem ahem C Fierce* got a leeetle carried away with chopping the pineapple), grilling steak, eating the best fried chicken in town, drinking beer out of mason jars ... and didn't even have any fights!  Nope, no bar fights!  And no fights with each other, either, which, in itself, is an amazing feat.  (Ask J Fierce about the time she refused to speak to C Fierce and Little Brother Fierce for the entire duration of a flight, layover, and subsequent flight.  ALL OVER A STUPID FOUNTAIN SODA.  WEIRD I THINK MY CAPS LOCKS KEY GOT STUCK.)

ANYWAY back to the bagels.  Some were cuter than others ...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mediterranean Quiche

Yesterday, C Fierce and I were talking on the phone.  Somehow the topic of food came up (weird). and I said something very true but never before articulated: "you know, I just don't get that excited about food. Unless its dessert."  To date, exactly two of my multitude of posts have not been sugar-laden. Everything else on here not baked? That would be the work of C Fierce.

Today, however, I am sharing a recipe that makes me excited.  It is infinitely adaptable with whatever you have in your cupboards.  We'll ease me into the savory world with a pie crust and pan. Behold the quiche.

Imagine, if you will, a dish that can be enjoyed at any time of day, morning noon or night. With the tanginess of feta and the greenness of spinach, you really can't lose. Beware, if you're hungry: I ate half of it at one meal (that was the only thing on my plate, but still. Oink Oink).

Friday, April 9, 2010

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

You know how sometimes carrot cake isn't very good?  Face it, you went after it for the cream cheese frosting, and now you're wondering why it isn't culturally acceptable to just eat that stuff with a spoon.  The problem lies in the cake underneath: it is either too dry, crumbly, or just plain lacks that carroty flavor.

I have found the foil to your problem. This is the moistest carrot cake I have ever tasted, and I have tried quite a few.   A sample of what I'm sure are unbiased reviews from my tasters: "the best cake you have ever made," "awesome," "did you make any more?"

The occasion was a dinner party, and I didn't know the menu.  I knew I wanted to bring something slightly different than normal. Not a chocolate or vanilla cake, and not a pie (though my pie crust is something to behold. Come stone fruit season I promise the best cherry pie recipe ever).  It would have to transport easily and be something I could make ahead, since I had to work both days leading up to the event.  This cake was perfect. I made the cake the morning before the day of the dinner, made the frosting the evening before, and frosted it the morning of.  After the jump, see a picture that made C Fierce attempt to eat her computer screen.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Lemony Apple Spice Muffins

Question and Answer Time, Internet!  

Q.  Where in the world have the Sisters Fierce BEEN all this time?
A.  Hunting on the Serengeti.  Floating around the world in a hot air balloon in ninety days.  Suffering with a broken stove/oven combo and waiting for the landlords to replace it.   Starting a new job and re-learning how most jobs work ... i.e. having interesting fun work to do during work time instead of blogging.  (OOPS.)

Q. What is a cupcake without frosting?  
A.  A muffin.

Q. Who wants a cupcake without frosting?  
A.  NOBODY.  Not the Sisters Fierce, no sir.
However, a few Sundays ago I found myself scrounging the pantry for something, anything, to bring to a potluck cookout.  The weather?  Rainy.  The mood?  Cozy.  The pantry?  Nearly empty.  Quickly rifling through the cupboards and a half a dozen cookbooks, I came to a winning solution.  Shredded apples, a touch of lemon and spice, and a happy little muffin was born, no frosting necessary.  Enjoy the recipe after the jump.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rice Krispie Treats Grow Up

Do you remember just how good those rice krispie treats were? The ones your mom made. The ones that seemed like magic-the transformation of marshmallows and cereal, yes, cereal, into something so much greater? You know, before they came in the shiny blue wrapper.  When they were a treat your best friend's mom sent with her to school during the holidays?  Oh, they were good.

But like this? They even better. I have to say, Rice Krispie Treats have grown up a bit. 

Make a ganache. Let it set. Take your butter and brown it. Add some salt. Let it set.  Frost with ganache. Watch the fireworks.

See my ganache topped treat (as opposed to the adorbs sandwich versions above. I'll let you guess which ones are easier to eat) after the jump.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Currant Pecan Scones

Fed up with all the Irish themed stuff swirling around you yet? Me neither. For those of you who are, though, this recipe isn't really Irish exactly, but it's pretty close without doing a soda bread-type thing. I'm not a huge fan of soda bread, but maybe all that really means is I haven't had a great one yet.

Sometimes, it is really nice to bake with a friend. Though most of my adventures involving oven and flour are solo expeditions, I occasionally am fortunate enough to have an evening off and the luxury of a friend there with me.  After a delicious dinner of pizza and PBR (because really what more do you need on a Tuesday night) we felt the need to call ourselves civilized. Thus began the very simple task of scone making.
I like scones much less in coffee shops. They always taste floury and aseptic. A good scone, a really really good one, should be flaky. Melt in your mouth. Kind of crumbly, even, to the point where you're picking up after yourself and reminding you why you shouldn't eat them in the car on the way to work-you already had one anyway, and now you're getting your pants crumbly. Everyone at work will know of your impatience, plus you'll distract yourself from driving if you keep trying to get every last morsel that you've dropped.

These were not overly sweet which makes them feel more appropriate for breakfast, and they take to freezing really well. If you're a big planner, may I recommend flash-freezing them and cooking on an as-needed basis? They won't keep until next St. Patty's, but they'll keep for your cup of tea over the weekends of the next few months. My tip on that is after the jump, accompanied by some step by step photos! These "process shots," though not the gorgeous images to which you've become accustomed, are going to make my sister so excited.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Irish Fix #2: Pistachio Praline Bars

Did you SEE the Irish-flag inspired apricots from J Fierce on Monday, people?!  In my best Chandler Bing voice, could they BE any cuter???  We've been busy thinking up good "green" treats for you, internet, and we hope you like them.

If you're up for a little more of a challenge this St Patty's Day, you should try these pistachio praline bars.  Do not be afraid of making these.  Do not let "candy making" scare you away.  All you need is a little self-restraint.  You'll need self-restraint in Not Stirring The Boiling Sugar For Ten Minutes, and a little more self-restraint in Not Eating The Entire Tray In Ten Minutes Flat After You Finish.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Toasted Oat Shortbread Cookies

Is there anyone out there who doesn't just love a good dinner party?  No?  I didn't think so.  A few weekends ago some friends got together for dinner, drinks and some very impromptu nineties-pop-hip-hop-karaoke.  (Okay, it wasn't karaoke in the sense that we actually had microphones, or speakers, or those tvs with the words on the screen.  A remote-control-substitute-for-the-mic does just fine when you really need to belt out some Mariah, BoyzIIMen, TLC, or maybe even some Ace of Base.  Or some All4One.  I won't judge.  Nor will I post any of those photos on this blog.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Your Irish Fix

Who here likes Saint Patrick's Day? When we were little it was just another day you had to remember to wear green to school so you could avoid getting pinched. When you're older it's a day for drinking and celebrating the irish heritage you have, you know, way back in there somewhere.

One of my (many) hidden talents is my ability to find four-leaf clovers at the drop of a hat. I would irritate my friends who were actually irish with my effortless discovery of the charms.  Eventually we decided I must be part leprechaun to have such luck.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spinach Mascarpone Dip

You may have caught on to the Sisters Fierce trait that is loving food in miniature.  It's true, food is always better when it's little.  For Christmas, J Fierce gave me six mini brioche tins and six mini bread loaf pans (which brings the total I own to 14, which is completely and utterly normal).  Last year she gave me a set of mini cookie cutters and a mini whisk keychain which is quite possibly the cutest thing in the world (outside of a weiner dog in a hot dog outfit).  

This fascination with making baked goods small doesn't stop there.  Each year on our birthdays we end up getting each other things like Le Creuset ramekins.  You know the ones - tomato or pepper shaped?  Last year J Fierce received an artichoke.  A few years back she gave me a little garlic one, and this year I received a Staub pumpkin.  What can I say, we're easy to please.  Well, easy to please when it comes to buying gifts for one another that involve food items.  Other than that, a little tougher.
Here is some delicious spinach dip in the pumpkin.  SERIOUSLY isn't that CUTE.  Almost as cute as these guys.  Okay I promise, I'm done.  Moving on!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Anyone who knows me knows I like birthdays. A lot. A lot as in this might be a bit unhealthy for a twenty-something like myself.  In general, I have a countdown going about three months out for mine, and I always get a DQ ice cream cake (the crunchy cookie in the middle keeps me coming back). Yes, I know, I love to bake. However, baking my own birthday cake is not top on my list. Eating a mediocre one someone else made for me is right behind it (because you know how picky I am). For my special day, I go with DQ.

My birthday falls in the summer, so in grade school I never got to bring in treats on my birthday.  We weren't in session and most of my friends were on vacation. Heck, I was almost always on vacation.  Because my mom is awesome, she had me celebrate in school on my half birthday.  For her this meant THREE of her children bringing in birthday (and in my case, half-birthday) treats within two weeks of each other.  Poor Mama Fierce. This is probably why I  distinctly remember bringing in jello-jigglers (red ones).  I'm not sure what grade I was in (though it probably fell around Jell-O 1-2-3's market dominance).  I remember the coolness of the squares and how they left my hands a little red after I played with them for a while.  Mom probably walked them the two blocks to the school during lunchtime, carrying them on that plaid lucite tray we all loved.  Hey mom, if you're reading (because we know you're our biggest fan) let us know if that was just one instance or multiple.

Birthdays are so special because it's your very own holiday... one you don't have to share with any of your three siblings.  Besides, I'm a Leo, so of course its all about me to begin with.  How could a birthday not be fun?

A few things pointed me to the cupcake last week. After getting accosted at work by my coworker thinking my foil-wrapped lunch (pizza) was Valentine's day baked goods (she was so excited, I felt bad letting her down), I said I'd bring in something later in the week. Then I realized two of my coworkers have birthdays coming up.  All signs pointed toward "bake."

My workplace is very unlike that of my sister's. There is no conference room in which to take unflattering photographs of cake on paper plates. The pace is too quick and work is too independent to gather my co workers together, light candles and sing songs.  Sit down and eat a piece of cake? No time for that, either. Not that I want to make a cake for 40 people.  The obvious choice was mini-cupcakes.  I left them in the one room we all have to be in at some point in the day (a room that can't comfortably fit more than three people, only two of whom can sit), and left a note that one should be eaten per employee. When you're baking for that size crowd, it's the only economical option. Luckily, I had a few more than that at home during the process (you know, just to make sure they were good).  Read on after the jump for the cutest little cupcake ever ...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Best Banana Bread Ever

There is someone in my house who buys bananas like they are going out of style.  I don't understand it.  There's no rule that says you must purchase the entire bunch - the grocery store police won't arrest you if you buy AN banana or TWO bananas.  Yet the bananas continue to appear.  What's a girl to do with all these very ripe bananas?

Banana bread.  Duh.  But to get specific - this is the best banana bread.  I don't want to go too far in calling it ... healthy ... but it's wholesome in all the right ways.  Meaning, you won't eat it and think "boy this is healthy" which everyone knows is code for "this tastes like crap but I guess I'm supposed to like it because it's good for me."  You wouldn't even need to convince someone to eat it for health benefits.  It's delicious on its own merit.  It's sweetened by honey and a hint of vanilla, and has a gorgeous crumb that doesn't fall apart when you take a bite.  People, banana bread is not cornbread.  It should not be crumbly, okay?

I adapted this from a very basic recipe that I had written down on an index card a few years ago.  With some tweaks along the way, this recipe has morphed into The Best Banana Bread Ever.  It makes two loaves, is easily halved, and even easier MINI-SIZED!!!  This time around, it yielded one regular loaf and six mini-loaves (with chocolate chips).  Yes, I own 14 mini bread loaf pans.  What are you going to do about it, huh?  

The Best Banana Bread EVER

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
3 cups mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
2 eggs
2 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (optional, but why wouldn't you?)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease two 9 x 5 in loaf pans (or 12 mini-loaf pans because they are way cuter and easier to give to friends).

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, wheat germ, salt and baking soda.  In a medium bowl, combine bananas, vegetable oil, honey, eggs, egg whites, and vanilla extract.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.  Add the banana mixture and stir until just combined.  (Do not overbeat or the bread will be heavy.  This is especially important because of the whole wheat flour and wheat germ - be nice to the gluten!)  Stir in the chocolate chips if using.  Pour batter into prepared pans.

For two standard loaves, bake 60 minutes.  (I know, it sounds like a long time, but start checking for doneness at 45 minutes with a toothpick.)  For mini loaves, start checking at 25 minutes.  Your house is going to smell SO DANG GOOD.

Cool on wire rack.  Enjoy plain or with butter or with cream cheese or with oh crap I am so hungry now.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chocolate Almond Meringues

The evening began with a friend I hadn't spent time with in quite a while and a bottle of wine. We perused recipes, settling on a simple one that turned out to be more perfect than we could have anticipated. It gave us an easy task (the wine necessitated that) and a long baking time (good for catching up, she even did the dishes which guarantees another invite).

It was so simple. One minute we're having girl talk and the next we're oohing and awwwwing over puffy egg whites! The recipe doesn't entail a ton of active time, but you do need to work quickly once the eggs are at stiff-peak stage. I also recommend making them bite-sized, as they crumble pretty quickly once you've bitten into them.

If you haven't had a meringue, don't be scared off by the less than gorgeous photo here. They look like little monsters. Know that once you bite into it, it will melt in your mouth.

(recipe after the jump... thanks to c fierce)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Operation: Cheeseburger

Imagine, if you will, that you're relaxing on the couch on a snowy Sunday afternoon. Flipping through the channels, your heart rate is rising as you get way too involved in the men's Nordic combined Olympic race. COME ON AMERICA!  You need to watch something a little less involved. Hmmm, what's on Food Network? Three hours of that Mark-McGrath-from-Sugar-Ray-only-bloated guy? Sign me up, yes, I will watch six episodes of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, moving only to adjust my sweatpants. Yes, I will crave cheeseburgers like the deserts miss the rain.

So this, dear readers, is what led us to Operation: Cheeseburger. Too much Guy Fieri can do that to a person. We scoured the food mags and blogs for the best recipes - ketchup, mayo, brioche buns and burgers were on the horizon. And good lord was it delicious. I would suggest you skip the step that involved grinding the meat from sirloin and strip steak. Fun, but slightly unnecessary and extremely time-consuming, but it makes for a nice photo, doesn't it?

Homemade mayonnaise comes together in approximately 32 seconds. People, do this. Your life will never be the same. I am not even going to make the recipe hard: Put two egg yolks, juice from a half a lemon and 1/8 teaspoon of sugar in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse for about ten seconds. Then add in a steady stream of 3/4 cup of vegetable or canola oil (don't use olive oil, it's way too overpowering) while you run the FoodPro (what, that's what Kevin on Iron Chef calls it) for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides, try not to eat it straight from the bowl, adding salt and pepper to taste.

DONE. That was easy, right? I'm telling you, it is so delicious and so worth it. What is equally delicious is homemade ketchup. It takes a LOT longer than the mayo but it is so rustic and flavorful. I'm not saying I'm throwing away my Heinz 57 anytime soon, but the homemade ketchup is killer. Check out the recipe after the jump.

So, you've got your burgers, your mayo and your ketchup made ... unless you are J Fierce, you need a bun for this bad boy. (It's true - she eats a cheeseburger sans bun, knife and fork, like a wackadoo.) Do not be afraid of making these cheeseburger buns. They are so easy and So.Very.Very.Good. Light and fluffy, but sturdy enough to hold up a big juicy burger with all the toppings, these burger buns are worth the time. And what, you're just watching Guy Fieri and his bad facial hair all afternoon, get yourself in the kitchen and get these going.

Toppings and sides are up to you - personally, my preference is a slather of mayo and ketchup on the top bun, followed by a good melty cheese like Havarti or Gouda, caramelized onions and bacon. If you're like KFTF, you will put the lettuce and any other toppings (such as disgusting pickles, ew I just barfed on my keyboard) between the burger and the bottom bun to maximize potential. Sides, as you can see in the above photo, involve more onions and baby red potatoes. I am not going to lie, these were roasted in bacon fat. No, I do not weight 400 pounds, but at times I wonder how in the world I don't.

Do with your burger what you will, but pretty please, make it homemade. Recipes after the jump (did you see how I did that like a real live blogger?  So proud).