Category Archives: Kitchen

A Few of My Favorite (Baked) Things

13th November 2014

I just threw two loaves of (my pretty darn impressive) banana bread into the oven and my goodness does it smell amazing… I’ve always contended that a home that smells like food, especially baking bread or pastries, is particularly inviting. If only I had the time to always have something in the oven!

Baking really is a favorite pastime of mine — especially desserts. What’s funny is that I don’t really even like to eat desserts all that often, so I often only bake when I have an exchange coming up or an event where I can spread the caloric wealth. Unless I’m baking banana bread because, duh, you always want that around. Ha.

Anyway, while I’m waiting for this bread to finish, I thought it’d be fun to pull together some of my favorite things I’ve baked in the recent past. I’ve included recipe links where applicable.

Red Velvet Oreo Stuffed Crinkle Cookies

DSC_0342 2I made these the day before a party and they were a hit… Almost too luxurious, if you ask me! Recipe link.

Cinnamon Rolls

DSC_0105These are just your everyday, run-of-the-mill cinnamon rolls. But my goodness were they delicious, and they’re notable because they were my first ever attempt. I made these and then shared some with my grandparents who were in town for the winter.

Strawberry Milk Whoopie Pies

6479470799_812eef8141_bYes that is a cat nose. I made these for a holiday cookie exchange and they took FOREVER. Whew. Tip: use the best butter you can find for the buttercream filling. The more expensive, the better. It’s worth it. Recipe here.

Breaking Bad Chocolate Cupcakes With Chili P

bbcupcakesWhat do you bake when you’re headed to a Breaking Bad finale party? Cupcakes with Jesse’s secret ingredient, of course! What a fun night (and great ending). I winged it with these. If you recreate, just make some chocolate cupcakes and add a dash of chili p to your frosting for good measure.

Blueberry Lemon Dessert Bread

DSC_0401 2This is one of those breads that’s super easy to make and always gets eaten up. You could always create a lemon sugar drizzle, poke some holes into the bread, and pour it on top for even more moist goodness. Beware of sugar coma, though. Recipe here.

Blueberry Thyme Sugar CookiesDSC_0034 copy

I was in a super creative, adventurous mood when I made these pretty cookies. I just took a regular sugar cookie recipe and then rolled in some fresh thyme from the garden. Then I created a blueberry glaze with more fresh thyme and called it a day. I believe I ended up bringing these to a symphony performance for rehearsal room snacking.

And the bread just got done. How’s that for good timing?

So Cheesy: Easy Homemade Mozzarella Cheese Recipe

9th June 2014

In recent years, David and I have dabbled lightly into the world of cheese making. We started with a ricotta, dare I say the easiest type of cheese to make, and have since begun making homemade, fresh mozzarella cheese. I wouldn’t call it a complicated process, though it does take some time. That said, it’s one of the fastest (a couple hours) and simplest cheeses to make in your own kitchen and I encourage everyone to give it a go!

Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Recipe

To begin, you’ll need some whole milk (if you can find raw milk, even better — we’re using store bought milk, though), citric acid and vegetable rennet. The latter two can be found at a health food store and/or Amazon for very cheap.

To begin, you’ll need:

  • a gallon of whole milk (if you can find raw milk, even better — we’re using store bought milk, though)
  • 1.5 tsp. citric acid
  • 1/4 tsp. vegetable rennet

The latter two can be found at a health food store and/or Amazon for very cheap. You’ll also want a big pot, a thermometer and some straining materials (a sifting spoon and  strainer will do).


Step 1: Pour your gallon of milk into your stock pot.

Step 2: Combine 1/4 cup of water with the 1.5 tsp. of citric acid and stir until dissolved.

Step 3: Add the citric acid solution to your milk and heat on medium until the milk/water/citric acid solution reads 90 degrees.


Step 4: While your milk mixture is heating up, combine your 1/4 tsp. of vegetable rennet with 1 cup of water. Some people use the tablet variety, which can work, but the liquid rennet is best.


Step 5: Once your milk reaches 90 degrees, take it off the heat and add your vegetable rennet/water solution. Stir well and then place a lid on top.


Step 6: Allow the milk to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes, or however long it takes for it to firm up. It should appear yogurt-esque in texture and consistency (see below):


Step 7: Using a spatula or knife, divide the (very soft) cheese into sections and make sure none of it is sticking too firmly to the sides. Then place your pot back on the stove and heat it up to 105 degrees.  Heating it up will allow the curd to better separate from the whey.

Cheese7Step 8: After the milk has reached 105 degrees, use a slotted spoon to transfer the curd/cheese into another bowl. We use a pasta strainer since there is often still some liquid that needs to be sifted out, even after transferring with a slotted spoon.


Step 9: Continue transferring until you have a loose glob of cheese (see below).



Step 10: You can place that glob into the microwave for 15 seconds at a time to get even more liquid out. The more you microwave, the drier the cheese will become. A few little bursts is usually plenty.

Step 11: Roll your cheese into a ball. You can even season it if you like! We like to keep it simple with sea salt and cracked black pepper, but your options are limitless!



And that’s it! Eat it fresh, shave it and put it on some homemade pizza, gift it to friends or do whatever you want with it. For storage, we usually place it in an airtight container with the tiniest bit of whey to keep it fresh and moist.

Speaking of whey, you’ll have a lot left. Instead of throwing it on the drain, consider adding it to protein drinks or shakes, substitute it for water in bread recipes, in your vegetable stock, or pour it in the garden.  You can freeze it for up to 6 months.