This video makes me laugh so much. If my son ever sent me something like this I would lose my mind. So funny.
The most popular post of 2020 (Those luscious lemon bars up top of the adorable shark video) has held the number one spot for 4 years in a row. People love Lemonies. If you are one of the few readers who haven’t tried them…go ahead and treat yourself in 2021.
Holding steady at number 2 is Detroit-Style Pizza. It’s definitely one of my favorite pizza recipes ever.
Another great pizza recipe I tried last year was King Arthur Flour’s Crispy Cheesy Pan Pizza. They named it their 2020 Recipe Of The Year. Delicious.
I’m not surprised that the bears hit the booze in 2020. Drunken Gummy Bears moved into 4th place up from 5th place in 2019. Dipping into a few booze-soaked gummy bears can make the long days at home a bit more bearable.
Back in the top 5 for the first time since 2016, at number 5, is Caramel Cake. To quote me, “It’s very light textured, which is perfect since it is cloaked in an incredibly rich and sweet caramel icing that hardens up into a delectable shell.”
British Columbia-based band Sondaze has some advice for us. It helps that it’s offered via this swirling, chill tune. I absolutely love the singer’s calming voice.
Check out Sondaze on Bandcamp where you can buy their music.
Throughout all of the ups and downs of the past decade, this little space has consistently provided pure happiness for me. Sharing food and music is something that never gets old. Thanks to every one of you that joins me from time to time.
An ISITK birthday means gingerbread is on the menu. Today a perfectly spiced version is served up in cute, individual portions and coated with a rich chocolate ganache.
Chocolate-Glazed Gingerbread Cakes
5 Tbs butter, softened
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup boiling water
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 ½ tsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
Crystallized ginger, thinly sliced, for garnish
Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows)
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Generously grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and boiling water. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, and beat until well combined. Add molasses, fresh ginger, and the baking soda mixture. Beat until combined. (The batter will look curdled but will come together once the flour is added.) Add the flour mixture and beat until well combined.
5. Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about halfway.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. Transfer to wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack to cool completely.
7. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of Chocolate Ganache over each cake, letting some drip around the sides. Garnish with crystallized ginger.
Note: Once glazed the cakes can be refrigerated, in airtight containers, for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz premium quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat bring cream to a boil then turn off the heat.
2. Add the chocolate and stir to completely cover it with cream. Let stand for about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk mixture until smooth. Let cool slightly, stirring frequently.
Note: Ganache will thicken as it sits. It should be pourable but still thick enough to coat. If not, place the bowl of ganache over a pan of simmering water and stir until it reaches a pourable consistency.
Sometimes a song comes into my life just when I need it.
Digging through my email mountain, I came across ‘Everything’ by Dublin-based Sam Ali. It’s beautiful and comforting. My heart was further melted when I learned that all proceeds from this song go to ALONE Ireland helping older people stay independent.
I love serving a Bûche de Noël every Christmas Eve. There are so many fun variations out there and it’s always a hit.
This Frozen Chocolate Bûche de Noël has vanilla ice cream rolled up in chocolate cake. Whipped cream and strawberries are all the decoration you need.
An added bonus is that you can make the yule log ahead. When life gets busy, there’s nothing like having a delicious dessert waiting for you in the freezer.
Frozen Chocolate Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 Tbs corn starch
3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa, plus extra to dust
2 1/2 pints premium quality vanilla ice cream
2 Tbs Grand Marnier
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Halved strawberries and mint, to serve
1.Preheat oven to 400℉. Grease a 9 x 15-inch Swiss-roll pan and line with parchment paper.
2. Beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until very pale and light. Sift in flour, corn starch and cocoa then fold with a rubber spatula to combine. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan.
3 Bake for 12 minutes or until sponge starts to come away from sides of pan. Set aside to cool.
4. Meanwhile, remove ice cream from the freezer to soften until spreadable.
5. Invert cake onto a large cutting board and brush with the Grand Marnier. Spread with the softened ice cream using a warmed palette knife. Working quickly, roll cake from the longest edge into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours or until firm.
6. When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.
7. Remove the log from the freezer and place on a serving platter. Spread whipped cream mixture all over the cake and use a fork to create decorative lines like a those of a log.
8. Return to the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up, then dust the log with a little extra cocoa. Decorate with strawberries and mint leaves, then serve immediately.
I’m heeding Thumper’s advice and keeping my mouth shut.
Nothing bad going on here, but this year is weighing on me as much as I know it is on you.
I’m lifting my glass and toasting all of you with this refreshing and pretty little White Christmas Cocktail.
As I am typing this it occurred to me that it is Hanukkah right now. I wish all my friends who celebrate a very happy one. You could easily make this cocktail suited to the festival of lights by swapping out blue curaçao for the elderflower and floating a lemon slice instead of the mint and peppercorns. (Photo here…just add lemon slice)
Stay safe, my friends. xx
White Christmas Cocktail
2 tablespoons elderflower liqueur (such as St-Germain)
1. Put a few mint leaves into a cocktail glass. Add 2 tablespoons elderflower liqueur (such as St-Germain) and a few pink peppercorns. Top with sparkling wine.
Makes 1 festive drink
This song sorta sums it all up….and in a very catchy way. Per Brandon Welchez “The world needed a Christmas song reflective of the total shittiness of 2020 so we decided to write one.”
And the entertaining video for the song….
Check out Crocodiles on the band’s Website where you can buy their music.
Not sure if you have seen ‘A Ghost Story’, but that is one engrossing film. And yes, Rooney Mara eats an entire pie in four and a half minutes on screen. Fascinating to watch (although I am sure many of us can perform that feat).
If you are looking for a pie to share, look no further than this Apple-Berry Twist Pie. Not only is it beautiful to look at, it has the perfectly balanced combination of berries with apples. The coarse sugar dusted on top provides a lovely crunch.
Apple-Berry Twist Pie
Ingredients for the crust:
1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Ingredients for the filling:
2 pounds assorted apples (such as Gala, Fuji or Honeycrisp)
8 ounces (about 2 cups) thawed frozen mixed berries (such as blueberries, blackberries and/or raspberries)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Pinch of salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
Directions for the crust:
1. Pulse the flour and salt in a food processor to combine. Add 2 tablespoons butter then pulse until the mixture looks like cornmeal.
2. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and pulse until it forms pea-size pieces.
3. Add the cream cheese and pulse a few more times until the dough just comes together.
4. Add the vinegar and 1 tablespoon ice water then pulse a few times until the dough is moist.
5. Divide the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap. Shape each into a disk and wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
Directions to make the pie:
1. Put a baking sheet on the middle oven rack and preheat to 425℉ for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, peel the apples and slice about 1/4 inch thick. Toss the apple slices with the berries, granulated sugar, flour, vanilla, butter and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. Roll out 1 disk of dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Place in a 9-inch pie plate. Fold the overhanging dough under itself.
4. Put the filling on top of dough in the pie plate.
5. Roll out the remaining disk of dough into an 8-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Slice the dough into 12 strips. Brush the strips with some of the beaten egg.
6. One at a time, twist the strips of dough and, working from the center of the pie outward, arrange the strips on the pie to make one continuous coil.
7. Brush the top of the pie with the remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.
8. Transfer the pie to the hot baking sheet in the oven and bake 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350℉ and continue baking until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, another 50 to 55 minutes. (Tent with foil if the crust browns too quickly.)
9. Transfer pie to a rack and let cool completely.
1. Line two 15 x 10-inch pans with parchment paper.
2. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain the grease then add cheese and mustard. Cook, stirring, until cheese is melted. Cool slightly.
3. Flatten each biscuit into a 4-inch circle. Place four biscuits in each of the prepared baking pans. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of meat mixture onto each biscuit.
4. Using a sharp knife cut out Jack O’Lantern faces from remaining biscuit circles. Place each over meat mixture and pinch edges to seal tightly. Reroll scraps if desired and cut out stems for pumpkins.
5. Brush with egg. Bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
A buttery zucchini sauce with the fresh bite of parsley couldn’t be easier to whip up for a quick and delicious pasta dinner.
Rigatoni With Zucchini Sauce
8 Tbs butter
2 pounds zucchini, chopped
3 cups chopped onions
1 tsp salt
1 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley leaves
1 pound bowtie or rigatoni pasta
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Black pepper, to serve
1. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add chopped zucchini, onions and salt. Cook over medium hear until the vegetables are very soft but not browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes.
2. Purée the zucchini mixture in batches along with the parsley leaves. Return the sauce to a clean skillet and place over very low heat.
3. Cook the rigatoni according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
4. Toss the pasta in the zucchini sauce, adding some of the cooking water if the sauce is too thick.
5. Top pasta with a sprinkling of Parmesan, black pepper and the shredded zucchini. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
There are comments out there that say the bird is being moved by his human, but I still think it’s all so cute.
There are also comments out there about this Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake. Lots and lots and lots of comments…and they are all very favorable.
All of those gushing reviews are for a good reason, because this cheesecake is amazing. The bourbon laced pumpkin filling has the ideal blend of spices and bakes up to creamy perfection. The sour cream topping and nutty graham crust provide fabulous contrast from above and below.
Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
Ingredients for crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker (from five 4 3/4- by 2 1/4-inch crackers)
1/2 cup (50 grams) pecans, finely chopped
1/4 cup (45 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Ingredients for filling:
1 (15-ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (95 grams) packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) heavy cream
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla
1 tablespoon (15 ml) bourbon
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until well combined.
3. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of prepared pan. Chill crust at least 20 minutes. (Gourmet recommends 1 hour).
Directions to make filling:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and bourbon in a bowl until combined.
3. Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.
4. Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then stir in cornstarch mixture and beat until smooth. Add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.
5. Pour filling into crust. Put springform pan on a shallow baking sheet (to catch any spills in case the pan leaks) and place in the oven.
6. Bake until center is just set, about 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)
Directions to make topping:
1. Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and bourbon in a bowl. Spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 more minutes.
2. Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours. Chill, covered, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
3. Remove side of pan and garnish with the pecans. Bring cheesecake to room temperature before serving.
Make ahead: Baked cheesecake can be chilled, covered, up to 1 week.
An ISITK fave, Steve Mahoney & The Milkshakes have a new album, ‘The Second Wave’, released September 25th. It’s packed with pop treasures as well as infusing some topical 2020 commentary into the music.
It was hard to choose one song to share as so many spoke to my soul. I have already shared a single from the album in this post out ahead of the record’s release. (Have a listen…it’s a slower tempo burn and so good). But today’s choice of ‘Danger Zone 2’ was decided by the combination of Steve’s catchy vocals over that irresistible throw back instrumentation.
“All around us we are losing the fight”
Check out Steve Mahoney & The Milkshakes on Facebook. You can buy their music on Bandcamp.
Enjoy this cozy soup on a chilly day. It only takes about a half hour from start to finish.
Meatball-Mushroom Parmesan Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups lower-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup sliced baby-cut carrots
8 (1-inch) frozen Italian-style meatballs
1/2 cup rotini pasta
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
2. Add broth and carrots; bring to a boil. Add meatballs and pasta; return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is tender and meatballs are cooked through. Stir in spinach then sprinkle with cheese to serve.
This mock toffee is so much fun. Buttery biscuits covered with a buttery caramel and crunchy pecans taste amazing. They are super easy to make, too.
Butter Pecan Toffee
4 oz butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup
40 tea biscuits
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1. Combine butter, sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and 305°F on a candy thermometer. (If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can follow the technique on this page).
2. Arrange tea biscuits side by side on a large baking sheet lined with non-stick foil (or grease some regular foil).
3. Pour the sugar mixture on top of the biscuits and sprinkle with pecans. Chill until firm then break apart to serve.
These songs are up for listening purposes and only for a short period of time. Like what you hear? Then please support the artist and buy the music. If you're an artist or label who wants the song taken down, please let me know.