Beantown Baker Sun, 14 Jun 2015 18:17:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ultimate Whoopie Pies featured in PEOPLE magazine! Tue, 20 Jan 2015 19:08:17 +0000 In case you missed my Instragram post from this morning, a picture and quote of mine were printed in PEOPLE magazine this week.

People Magazine Feature

Check out the January 26 edition and turn to page 109. The article features football shaped foods, including my Ultimate Whoopie Pies. I’m planning to make these for the Superbowl party I’ll be heading to. Check out my Football Foods category for more ideas.

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It’s amazing what a difference a year can make Mon, 17 Nov 2014 11:30:53 +0000 I have had this post open for hours. Multiple times over the past few days. Every time I try to put to words how I feel about 11/17/13, I get teary-eyed and can’t quite get the words out. But I’m sticking through it and writing this post. More for me, than for you guys, so thanks for reading along.

The frame around my mom's front door stayed standing.

The frame around my mom’s front door stayed standing.

November 17 started like any other Sunday in the Beantown Baker household. Hubby and I were up to our eyeballs in Thanksgiving preparations, but we slept in and then made breakfast together. I had a massage scheduled for 2pm. I went to my massage for an hour of blissfully relaxing ignorance.

When I got home, I didn’t catch on right away that something was wrong. Hubby met me at the door, which was rare, and once I got close enough to him, I could tell something was wrong. He spoke very deliberately and calmly telling me there had been a tornado in Washington and my mom’s house was flattened. Then he said “Andrew was at her house and he’s in the hospital”. My heart sank as a million horrible things raced through my mind about my baby brother.

This was the second day after going through rubble. Believe it or not, we had made a lot of progress.

This was the second day after going through rubble. Believe it or not, we had made a lot of progress.

I instantly called my sister to get the scoop and she was a mess too. Come to find out, I really had enjoyed pure ignorance during my hour long massage. During that time, various members of my family had gone through agonizing minutes of terror in various forms.

My dad, who lives 45 minutes away from my mom’s house, had driven frantically to her house since Andrew wasn’t answering his phone. My mom had been out of town and missed the whole ordeal. When my dad, stepmom and step siblings got close to mom’s neighborhood, many of the roads were closed. They parked about a mile away and ran through a field. The field had clothes, furniture, and other debris scattered throughout and it was muddy. It was a tough run. There was more confusion once they got to my mom’s house because Andrew was no where to be found, even though his car was parked in mom’s garage.

While this was going on, my other siblings were in contact trying to figure out how to help. They posted on Facebook in hopes that one of Andrew’s friends knew where he was.

The bathroom where Andrew took cover. Nothing was left of it...

The bathroom where Andrew took cover. Nothing was left of it…

And of course there’s Andrew’s side of this story. He had been sleeping on my mom’s couch in the living room after a night out. He doesn’t remember all the details and it all happened so fast. For whatever reason, when Andrew woke up to the sounds of a tornado, looking outside to see a tree flying straight towards him snapped him in to motion. He ran to the bathroom to take cover. Everything around him was blown away. The bathroom vanity and sink literally rolled right over him, leaving deep cuts in his back on their way. I’m not at all a religious person but it’s a pure miracle he survived that tornado.

The diagrams posted later on the news showed that the center of the tornado went right through my mom’s kitchen, about fifteen feet from the bathroom where Andrew took cover. All of this happened while I was getting my massage. Once I got caught up on what had happened from my family, my instinct was to jump in the car and get there as soon as possible.

But, of course, the tornados were moving our way and it wouldn’t have been safe to leave. Waiting the 5 hours for our tornado warnings and watches to go away so we could leave was agonizing. Then we had a 5 hour drive to get there.

Looking across the street from the front door.

Looking across the street from the front door.

The next week was a blur to me, as I’m sure it was to my mom and Andrew and everyone else touched by any sort of disaster like this. We went through as much of the rubble as we could at my mom’s. Some of the things from her basement were salvageable, but due to a broken pipe, a lot of it got ruined anyways.

Today is the anniversary of the tornado that ripped through my mom’s neighborhood. We were very lucky that Andrew survived with only some cuts and bruises. A year later, my mom has moved in to a new house with her new husband. Andrew has some pretty gnarly scars. I haven’t been back to Washington since last year but many of the houses have been rebuilt.

My dad helped to organize the Tree Recovery Washington Facebook page and a tree planting day a couple weeks ago. Hundreds of trees were donated by nurseries and volunteers planted them for anyone who lost trees due to the tornado (insurance doesn’t cover landscaping costs). The town of Washington is moving on. I think people are dealing with it in their own ways. While my sister Lindsey wasn’t there when the tornado hit, she did lose her home too. She got a tattoo of the key to the house to help cope with her pain. My entire family is completely changed because of this tornado and the aftermath. Some relationships are stronger than ever.

Lindsey's new tattoo

Lindsey’s new tattoo

As for me, I decided to write and post this as a sort of therapy. This is one of those things you never think will happen to your family until it does. And somehow, someway, you get through it. Thanks for listening and thanks again to everyone who donated to my mom last year right after the tornado.

Here’s a video that shows some footage of the tornado, recovering, and Washington today.

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Cranberry Ice Cream Tue, 28 Oct 2014 11:30:23 +0000 Cranberry ice cream is sweet with a bit of tartness and the perfect way to finish any meal this fall.

Cranberry Ice Cream

Last year, Hubbby and I had a great time hosting our family for Thanksgiving. All 23 of them! I spent the weeks and months leading up to Thanksgiving choosing recipes for the menu, testing them out, making freezer meals to feed the family throughout the week, and just in general talking about Thanksgiving food.

Cranberry Ice Cream

Of course, this isn’t much different from other years. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday! Nothing beats a week off of work to just hang out with family, sleep in late, play games until the early morning hours, and of course, the food!

Most of the recipes that I used for our menu were posted last year, but there are still a few that didn’t get posted. This Cranberry Ice Cream is one of those recipes.

Cranberry Ice Cream

This ice cream is sweet and just a bit tart from the cranberries. It has a great soft/smooth texture. And, of course, I love that it’s PINK! Just perfect for the month of October and my Power of Pink Challenge.

Power of Pink
Don’t forget to enter in my Power of Pink Challenge for your chance to win a $100 donation to the charity of your choice.

One Year Ago: Roasted Beet and Garlic Pasta and Strawberry Blonde Cookies-n-Cream Ice Cream
Two Years Ago: Cranberry Ginger Fizz Cocktail and Easy Chicken and Sausage Cassoulet
Three Years Ago: Raspberry Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast and Shrimp Fritters with Blackberry Dipping Sauce
Four Years Ago: Cranberry White Chocolate Cupcakes and White Chocolate Cranberry Mousse
Five Years Ago: Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins and Pumpkin Pecan Pie Candy
Six Years Ago: Pumpkin Pie Dip and Halloween M&M Treats
Seven Years Ago: Lemon Berry Muffins

Continue reading: Cranberry Ice Cream

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The Best Rice Krispies Treats Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:30:14 +0000 Adding some mix-ins, a heavy pinch of salt, and some extra marshmallows takes your run-of-the-mill rice krispies treats to a whole new level

The Best Rice Krispies Treats

A couple weekends ago, we were in Illinois for my nephew’s first birthday party. I was in charge of providing desserts for the party. My sister went with a monster theme for the party. She had a bunch of cute decorations! For the desserts, I made a 2-layer 6-inch cake for Ryan, 4 dozen cupcakes and some rice krispies treats.

The Best Rice Krispies Treats

Now some people are perfectly content with the recipe on the marshmallow or Rice Krispies box. Personally, I want more ooey-gooeyness in my rice krispies treats. So for years, I’ve always thrown more butter and marshmallows in mine. And of course, a sprinkle of salt on desserts always takes them to the next level. A couple years ago, I started throwing other things in my rice krispies treats too. I mean, why not.

The Best Rice Krispies Treats

My favorite combination these days is cinnamon chips and chocolate chips. But be warned, I am not at all a fan of the Hershey’s cinnamon chips that you can get at most grocery stores. To me, they taste waxy and really chemically. And not super cinnamon-y. Instead, I prefer the King Arthur Flour cinnamon chips. They pack a real cinnamon punch and I’ve been throwing them in everything.

The Best Rice Krispies Treats

For the party, I decided to go with my favorite combo for the adults in the crowd and made some with mini M&Ms and chocolate chips for the kids. In reality, kids and adults liked both flavors. They were a huge hit, as were the rest of the treats I brought. By the way, I used my go-to yellow cupcake recipe for half the cupcakes and the cake and my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe for the rest of the cupcakes. I used this white chocolate buttercream for the frosting.

Dessert table at Ryan's Party!
Picture from Instagram

In other news. Today I’m 20 weeks! So I’m halfway towards meeting my little ninja!!

Two Years Ago: White Chocolate Raspberry Blondies
Three Years Ago: Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Beets
Four Years Ago: Roasted Beet Hummus
Five Years Ago: Pecan Pie Cookies
Six Years Ago: Peppery Lemon Brown Sugar Salmon
Seven Years Ago: Banana Blueberry Muffins

Power of Pink
Don’t forget to enter in my Power of Pink Challenge for your chance to win a $100 donation to the charity of your choice.

Continue reading: The Best Rice Krispies Treats

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:30:00 +0000 Pumpkin, spices and sweetened cream cheese combine in these perfect fall muffins.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Can you guys believe it’s fall already!?! Like I said before, I’m actually looking forward to fall this year. For most people, the changing of the leaves indicates that it’s time for pumpkin EVERYTHING. From coffee to candles and everything in between, we all go crazy for pumpkin this time of year.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

I personally, enjoy my love of pumpkin baked goods year-round. I made the muffins to share at a work breakfast potluck. We were raising money for the United Way and had a recommended $5 donation that was collected at the door. I was impressed with the spread! My co-workers are pretty talented in the kitchen.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

It’s no surprise that these muffins were a hit. They’ve got all the warm fall flavors expected in a pumpkin muffin, along with a fun surprise of the cream cheese filling. Since making these the first time, I’ve made them a couple more times, with and without the topping. They’re tasty both ways, just a bit more sweet and indulgent with the topping included.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

If you are looking for yet ANOTHER pumpkin recipe to try out this fall, give this one a shot.

Two Years Ago: Pumpkin Vanilla Cocktail with Spiced Sugar Rim and Apple 7-Layer Magic Bars
Three Years Ago: Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Risotto and Neapolitan Cheesecake Cake
Four Years Ago: Smores Cupcakes
Six Years Ago: M&M Cookies

Power of Pink
Don’t forget to enter in my Power of Pink Challenge for your chance to win a $100 donation to the charity of your choice.

Continue reading: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

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7th Annual Power of Pink Challenge Fri, 10 Oct 2014 19:12:25 +0000 Like most things this year, I’m a little late announcing my 7th Annual Power of Pink Challenge, but that’s what I’m here for today. Back in 2008, I wanted to find a way to help promote Breast Cancer Awareness during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I came up with the Power of Pink Challenge to as a way to encourage fellow bloggers, bakers, and readers to think about Breast Cancer Awareness by making something PINK in their kitchen.

Power of Pink

As you all know, breast cancer is a disease that has touched my life in more ways that I would like to admit. I have made it a personal goal of mine to try to make a difference on this front.

I have been saving pink recipes as I see them come up throughout the year. To check out some inspiration here are the Power of Pink Favorites on Foodgawker or my Power of Pink Posts.

As I have in the past few years, I will be making a $100 donation to the charity of one winner’s choosing. I have included more options for entering this year since I am announcing the challenge so late in the month.

As always, you can enter by making something PINK and posting about it on your own blog during the month of October (be sure to post the logo and link back to this post). This year, anyone who makes something pink, you’ll get two entries for the prize.

You will get one entry if you find an old post on your blog that’s pink food, update the post with a link to this page, and send me the info listed below.

You can also get one entry for every social media share on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter that shares this post. Please tag me in your posts as well and use #PowerofPink.

Thanks in advance for everyone participating in the Power of Pink Challenge. I look forward to seeing all the entries come in over the next couple of weeks!

For each entry, send the following information to

  • Your name
  • Name of your blog
  • Link to your post or social media share
  • Picture (or permission to pull one out of your post), if applicable
  • If you don’t have a blog and would like to participate, just send me your information to be entered.

    ]]> 1 Chocolate Sugar Cookies Wed, 24 Sep 2014 11:30:10 +0000 Chocolate sugar cookies. Why didn’t these come in to my life sooner?!? They’re chocolatey and soft with a crispy edge. Basically, exactly what you expect in a great sugar cookie, but made even better with the addition of chocolate.

    Chocolate Sugar Cookies

    It’s good to be back here on the blog some more. Sure, I’m not back up to my 3x/week posting schedule that I was doing for months and months. But, it’s good to be back! I have gotten a few questions about whether I plan to turn this blog in to a baby blog or a baby food blog… I don’t. Obviously having a baby is going to be a life changing event, so you’ll hear me talk about the baby on here some. Keep me posted if you have thoughts or want to hear more (or less) about the little ninja.

    Chocolate Sugar Cookies

    Sorry for the sidebar. Back to these cookies. I know the holidays seem like FOREVER away, but I’m thinking I’ll add these to my holiday baking list. I might add a pinch of cinnamon to them when I do that… In the mean time, I’ve been enjoying these crumbled up in some homemade ice cream or with a dollop of peanut butter or cookie butter. If you’re looking for a classic crowd-pleasing cookie to bake up, be sure to give these a shot.

    Chocolate Sugar Cookies

    One Year Ago: Spicy Tomato Jam
    Two Years Ago: Blueberry Coffee Cake Bundt
    Three Years Ago: Baked Zucchini Sticks with Caramelized Onion Dipping Sauce
    Four Years Ago: Raw Summer Vegetable Pasta
    Five Years Ago: Steak Fajitas with Chimichurri and Drunken Peppers
    Six Years Ago: Squash and Turkey Lasagna
    Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Continue reading: Chocolate Sugar Cookies

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    Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole Wed, 17 Sep 2014 18:51:25 +0000 Chicken, quinoa, and black beans combined with classic Mexican spices create a hearty, yet light, casserole you’ll enjoy any time of the year!

    Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole

    The weather is getting chillier here in Cincinnati. After a mild summer, and for the first time in years, I think I’m ready for fall. Maybe it’s the baby growing inside of me, but I’m really looking forward to comfort foods, comfy clothes, and cooler weather.

    Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole

    I actually made this dish for the first time last spring. The lovely people at Kohl’s sent me this Bobby Flay Stoneware pan to try out and I started thinking about what I wanted to make… I had a ripened avocado on the counter, so that was my inspiration.

    Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole

    I started throwing stuff together and came up with a mixture that I was happy with. After scooping it to the pan and baking it, I topped it with some of that fresh ripe avocado. One thing I really enjoy about this recipe is that it reheats nicely. So I can whip it up one night for dinner and we can enjoy leftovers for a couple days for lunch.

    Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole

    You could change up the mix-ins or the spices to fit your preferences or what you have on hand. I’ve also made this where I leave the tomatoes out while it bakes and top the casserole with freshly chopped tomatoes instead. That was a great way to use some fresh, ripe tomatoes!

    Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole

    Even though this was the first dish I made in my Bobby Flay pan, it isn’t the only thing I’ve made in it. We’ve made plenty of food using the pan for the past few months and have no complaints about it. I (of course) love the red color!

    One Year Ago: Brownie Sundae Ice Cream
    Two Years Ago: Peach Cobbler
    Three Years Ago: Chocolate Biscoff Cupcakes
    Four Years Ago: Baja Fish Tacos
    Five Years Ago: Lemon Blueberry Ice Cream Bars
    Six Years Ago: Blueberry Buckle
    Seven Years Ago: BBQ Dip

    Continue reading: Mexican Chicken Quinoa Casserole

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    French Silk Pie Bars Wed, 03 Sep 2014 11:00:49 +0000 French Silk Pie Bars have all the velvety chocolate flavor of a French Silk Pie, in the portable format of a dessert bar!

    French Silk Pie Bars

    By the way, I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend. In case you missed my big announcement, be sure to check it out on Instagram.

    My little brother came to visit for the weekend. Of course, when I say little, don’t kid yourself. This guy towers over all of us at 6’4″. His favorite dessert is French Silk Pie. We really enjoyed this recipe I made before when he visited us in Boston a few years ago, but this time, I wanted to make something different.

    And, let’s be honest, I didn’t want to make a pie. Pies are not my favorite thing to make. I know fall is coming right around the corner, which makes me think of pies, but I’m just not in to them. So bars it was.

    French Silk Pie Bars

    As you can see in the pictures, the crust to filling ratio is pretty high on these bars. When I make these again, I’ll reduce the crust recipe to 3/4 of the original. I have reflected the recipe below to reflect that change. The chocolate mousse filling in this recipe is amazing. I’m tempted to just make that part of the recipe again to eat it with a spoon.

    Since the crust and filling were both really tall, I didn’t think my pan could handle the whipped cream topping, so I cut the bars and piped it on top. And piping the topping made it look all fancy and fun. I threw the sprinkles on top since I’m lazy and wasn’t in the mood to make chocolate curls… Next time you need a chocolatey travel-friendly dessert to impress your friends, remember these French Silk Bars.

    French Silk Pie Bars

    French Silk Pie Bars

    French Silk Pie Bars have all the velvety chocolate flavor of a French Silk Pie, in the portable format of a dessert bar!

    Yield: 16 bars


    For the Crust:
    12 Tbsp (1.5 sticks) butter
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1/3 cup powdered sugar

    For the Filling:
    8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
    1 cup heavy cream
    3 eggs
    3/4 cup sugar
    2 Tbsp water
    1 Tbsp vanilla
    8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces

    For the Topping:
    1/2 tsp gelatin
    2 Tbsp cold water
    1 cup heavy cream
    4-5 Tbsp powdered sugar


    For the Crust:
    Preheat oven to 350 degF. Line an 8"x8" pan with parchment paper.

    Pulse crust ingredients in food processor 8-10 times until combined. Press crust in to bottom of pan.

    Bake for 20-22 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

    For the Filling:
    Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (use 30 second intervals at medium power). Set aside.

    Beat the heavy cream to stiff peaks. Place in small bowl and chill in the fridge.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together eggs, sugar, and water until pale yellow and slightly thickened (~6 minutes). Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and heat mixture to 160 degF, whisking occasionally.

    Put bowl on to mixer and beat on medium speed until cooled to room temperature and thickened, about 8 minutes. While beating, add in the chocolate and vanilla. Beat in butter, one piece at a time. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in whipped cream.

    Pour mixture over cooled crust and smooth top. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.

    For the Topping:
    In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water to soften for 2 minutes. Head 15 seconds in the microwave and whisk to dissolve gelatin. Whip the cream to stiff peaks, adding the gelatin and powdered sugar while whipping.

    Spread or pipe on top of bars and chill until set. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles or curls.

    Recipe adapted from Willow Bird Baking

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    The Food Lab Chocolate Chip Cookies Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:00:51 +0000 The Food Lab set out to make the best chocolate chip cookie. With crisp edges and a chewy center, these cookies are no joke.

    The Food Lab Chocolate Chip Cookie

    It’s been a month since I posted about why I had been away for so long and how I was going to be back soon with more recipes. I guess “soon” is a relative term so maybe a month qualifies as soon, but I still feel like it’s been to long.

    Instead of dwelling on that, let’s get to this recipe. We all know that I have a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve made time and time again. No matter what combination of mix-ins I use, they’re always a hit. Sure, they’re a bit fussy with browned butter and a 24+ hour chill time. But they’re worth every minute of effort.

    The Food Lab Chocolate Chip Cookie

    So when I saw this post pop up on Serious Eats, I was initially only intrigued at the science behind developing the perfect chocolate chip cookie. After reading through the (lengthy) article, I was more than intrigued. I knew I’d be baking a batch of these guys at some point soon.

    An opportunity presented itself a couple weeks later (and by opportunity, I simply mean a day when I was craving something sweet and didn’t have much else going on). I set out to bake up the supposed best chocolate chip cookie ever.

    The Food Lab Chocolate Chip Cookie

    The verdict? These are some really good cookies. They have a great texture from the chopped up chocolate instead of chocolate chips. One thing I always do is add multiple different flavors of chips since they all have a little different shape. This gives cookies more texture. Going forward, I’m going to chop up some of those chips or use chocolate chunks as well.

    You also get this great chocolate-ness in every bite from the shards of chocolate floating around in the batter.

    The Food Lab Chocolate Chip Cookie

    These cookies come out chewy in the center and just crispy enough without being overly crispy on the edges. And of course, sprinkling sea salt on the top of cookies is ALWAYS the right answer.

    Overall, this is a solid chocolate chip cookie recipe. I prefer a thicker chewier cookie myself, so I’ll probably stick with my go-to recipe I mentioned above, but incorporate the idea of chopping some of the chocolate. Hubby made it clear that if I’m making cookies for him though, it has to be this recipe. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

    The Food Lab Chocolate Chip Cookie

    Also, just wanted to mention that today is my 7th blogiversary! 7 years ago today, I hit publish for the first time. While it’s been slow around there these last few months, I’ve loved bringing recipes to you guys, documenting my growth in the kitchen, having a creative outlet, all while developing this little online community. So thanks for reading! I hope you continue to stick with me!

    Continue reading: The Food Lab Chocolate Chip Cookies

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