Category Archives: Recipes

12 things we learned from our Molly-mandated cooking class

On sweet friends, talented artists and secret recipes

How to fix the world (If it’s made out of cake) — A post by Katherine

A Few Quiet Moments– A post by Molly

Patriot Pies — a post by Molly

Before the first fireworks flew into the sky on Monday, I started my own Independence Day celebration with my own Declaration of Independence: I turned the oven on.

The tone of the oven when it reached its set 350o rang through the empty kitchen and could be heard ’round the air condition-less house.

After an afternoon of overbearing expectations and regulations from the ruling summer heat, I couldn’t help but resort to kitchen warfare. The summer heat had melted my butter, caked my sugar, and spoiled my strawberries; and I had had enough.

Of course these are ordinary issues for bakers further south, and they rarely complain, but they live subject to the summer heat all year round, of course they are used to his influence in their kitchen.

It is simple common sense that a ruler, who can only be bothered to stick around for a few short months, should not have control of his subjects’ entire lives.

So I marched to the oven, armed with my troops of star-shaped mini pie shells, and waited until the late afternoon when I knew the heat would be lazily complacent. Under cover of SPF 30, I slipped the shells into the oven. Despite the best efforts of the heat to break my spirit and force me to turn of the oven in some dehydrated delirium, I held my ground and the pie shells came out golden and unscathed.

After my afternoon struggle, I became even more grateful to the American patriots for fighting the actual rebellion, so that I and many others could fight silly rebellions every day. So go ahead light those fireworks on your residential street, grill all those burgers for just a few people, and bake a pie when it’s 90o out. Save the rule following and meat pies for the Brits, Fourth of July belongs to the rebels.


Star Spangled Kitchen Pies

1 cup Butter

1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

2 tbsp milk


1 cup favorite pie filling (I recommend Apple, Cherry, or Berry for max patriotism)


  1. Mix all of your ingredients (besides the filling) until they form a stiff dough, it should be too wet. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.


  1. On a well floured surface or between two sheets of plastic wrap, roll out the dough until it’s only a few millimeters thick (you might have to divide into two pieces).


  1. Using a star shaped cookie cutter, cut the sheets into stars and place the stars in a well-greased mini muffin tin.


  1. Bake in a 350o oven for 15 minutes, cool and remove from pan by twisting the shells.


  1. Place 1/2 tbsp of your favorite pie filling (I used mixed berry left over from my own Independence/Graduation party) in each shell and chill in the fridge until ready.
They call me the Betsy Ross of the kitchen

They call me the Betsy Ross of the kitchen

I would hang these pie pans from a flagpole if the pie wasn't so delicious

I would hang these pie pans from a flagpole if the pie wasn’t so delicious

This pie filling also helped us celebrate my Independence from high school

This pie filling also helped us celebrate my Independence from high school

Leave the meat pies to Sweeny Todd

Leave the meat pies to Sweeny Todd

May our crusts always be flaky and our fillings free from liver and other nasty bits, from sea to shining sea.

May our crusts always be flaky and our fillings free from liver and other nasty bits, from pan to shining pan.

Anti cancer brownies

I had the best of intentions when I whipped up a batch of anti-cancer brownies for my dinner guests yesterday.

I believed the recipe when it told me brown rice syrup was a healthier alternative to sugar, and that cocoa was healthy, but that that consuming milk or dairy products such as ice cream together with cocoa may inhibit the absorption of flavonoids from cocoa.
I even complimented Festival Foods on its excellent variety of healthy alternatives to sugar when I shopped there ahead of my baking afternoon.

Brown rice syrup, I said to myself as I drove home from the grocery store triumphantly, who knew? I thought about all the ways I could use it to make all my recipes so much healthier.

But, I live with a co-blogger who debunks my research on a regular basis and she had a few things to say as I arrived home and began to assemble my treat.

“You know, it all gets broken down as sugar anyway,” she said as she read the label. “This has 22 grams of sugar per serving. How is that healthier?”

“But it’s brown rice,” I said sort of weakly as I considered the fact that she may have, once again, been absolutely right. “It has nutrients sugar doesn’t.”


I had some time to do a little more research as my super healthy brownies baked.

Turns out the extra nutrients in the brown rice are basically cooked out during the sugar making process. The brownies, chock full of dark chocolate cocoa (another item my co-blogger rolled her eyes at months ago when I first bought it. ‘Cocoa is cocoa, mom. You just paid extra for the words “dark chocolate”‘), smelled delicious.

But they looked ridiculous, dark, crumbly and really dry.

I served them, and we all chewed politely for a while.

“These would be delicious,” I said. “With a big bowl of ice cream.”

Anti cancer brownies

I’m all for healthy eating but I think the key is actual sugar in moderation, rather than modified food masquerading as sweetener. My next low sugar dessert is going to be chocolate covered frozen bananas. These brownies were a fail.

Here’s to friendship and the rich bread it inspires

It didn’t look like much, zipped into a plastic bag and, well there’s no other word for it, fermenting on my desk.

But my friend Allie asked me if I’d like some friendship starter and, if there’s anything I’ve learned in this long life of mine, it is to open my heart to friendship. So, I said yes to the friendship bread and, in the 10 (ahem, 11) days I spent with it, I learned it was a perfect metaphor for the relationship it represents.

You have to tend to your friendship bread, but it’s also forgiving. I know this because I missed a day and my 10-day recipe became an 11-day one, but the bread turned out just fine. Isn’t friendship like that? Thankfully, mine are.

You have to lean in, though, dust the edges of the pan thoroughly, sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar on top. My friends don’t ask a lot of me, but they do appreciate my time (and I theirs). It’s important to shove aside the clutter in our lives occasionally, to make room for our friends. Send a little sugar their way, let them spice up your life.

If you commit to a friend, you have to see it through — go camping if you said you would, even though you’re scared; meet for dinner on a day your work ran long; remember the birthdays and anniversaries; listen. I came home late on the day I had to finish my bread and I wasn’t pleased to have to bang around the kitchen well past my bedtime. But, that bread made my whole house smell delightful. I ate a piece of warm, friendship bread before I went to bed and I slept like a pudgy baby.

Of course, friendship is meant to be shared, and so is friendship bread. I hadn’t read the recipe all the way through when the night came to finish it off and I had to improvise a little. My recipe ended up making one large loaf and two smaller ones. I gave the smaller loaves, with a starter and the recipe, to two friends.

In another 10 days, I’ll have more loaves and starter to give.

The bread is rich and that seems right too. I know my own life is infinitely richer for all of the wonderful friends I’ve made a long the way.

Chickens and Kathy's shower 031

I gave my sister Kathy one of my friendship starters. My sisters are two of my best friends.

Don't hate me 'cos ya ain't me

My goofy Gourmet Club friends…

Gourmet Club pirates 018

…have been a source of joy and tasty treats for almost 20 years.

Marquette friends

Ring out Ahoya for our Marquette friends!

Jim, Kathy and Catherine

Some of our fun, crazy smart theatre friends.

work friends

Some of my young work friends, including Allie, the source of my friendship bread.

friendship loaves

Friendship bread.

friendship bread recipe

My copy of the Friendship Bread Recipe. What can I say? I’m a messy cook.



Accidental blessings

Welcome to Kale University

For the most part, our kitchen is more Big Ten than Ivy League.

Inspired by a sweatshirt Molly’s brother Charlie gave her for Christmas, though, I invited my family to spend the week at Kale University.

Lux et veritas.

We’ve long been kale fans in this house. I like the way it holds up in soup and salads, especially in packed lunches. I also like the way it tastes and its crazy nutritional value. A cup of cooked kale has 35 calories and 1,180% of your daily requirement of vitamin K. That’s not a typo, that’s a super food.

Given a choice, we both prefer curly kale to baby kale. I’ve learned that kale season peaks right now (as, hopefully, will our Packers).

So, this week I bought a big bunch, and had a little fun.

I am including two of the dishes that developed. Hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Welcome to Kale

Welcome to Kale University. 

Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms

Pizza stuffed mushrooms


1 large package common button mushrooms, cleaned and de-stemmed

1 large sweet onion

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 smoked Mozzarella sticks cut into four pieces

5 large leaves of kale

5 green olives

Penzeys Frozen Pizza seasoning (a Christmas gift we wanted to try out)

Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 375

Naked mushroomsPlace mushroom caps on a jelly roll pan, cap side up.

Pizza mushroom ingredientsSautee onions and chopped mushroom stems in olive oil for three minutes or so, until onion is translucent. Add chopped kale and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with pizza seasoning. Cook for a few minutes more, until kale wilts. Do not over cook.

Stuffed mushroomsSpoon mixture into mushroom caps. Top each cap with a piece of mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with Pizza seasoning. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese bubbles.


Pork Roast with Kale and Apples


1 boneless pork loin (Ours was 2.5 pounds)

Four apples, peeled and chopped

1 large sweet onion, chopped

1/4 cup leftover dried fruit from Christmas if you have it. Raisins if you don’t.

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 large leaves kale, chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350

Add onions and apples

Drizzle olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Brown pork loin on both sides over high heat. Season on both sides. Add minced garlic, onions and apples. Sautee for two or three minutes.

Cover and bakeRemove from heat. Add dried fruit. Cover and place in the oven. Cook for 45 minutes (depending on the weight of your pork loin).

Add kale Remove from heat and add chopped kale. Cover and let the pork rest and the kale steam, about 10-15 minutes.


Mastering the Art of Kostelnik Cooking (a post by Molly)