Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Whoops

... I have a blog. I kinda forgot. I've still been cooking and baking. Baking more for Hilltop, which is nice. Cooking more (and washing lots of dishes) at Hipcooks. Oh, and I'm getting married. Anyone who reads this blog probably already knows that. So add part-time wedding planner to my resumé. It's not very fun, so far. Finding a venue is proving to be really difficult. So I have no clue when an actual wedding will happen. Everything is $$$$. I am more of a one dollar sign kinda gal. 

Any tips? I've got tons of ideas, just no practical and affordable way to implement them.


Honey Boo Boo and a Grampire / Halloween 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

What I've Been Up To...

...Lots of stuff, but not really blogging at all! I've been busy baking for Hilltop, winning ribbons at the LA Fair, assisting at HipCooks, eating lots of delicious food and playing with hama beads (AKA Perler beads).You can follow most of my adventures on instagram @kristonibologna or check out my bakery on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HilltopBakeShop 

Don't those macarons look so delicious? I'm not sure I have the patience to make them, but I've been itching to try. Next free weekend I have will be macaron time!






 Real blog forthcoming...!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Blondies

I've been making these for years so I'm surprised I've never blogged about them! But now that I'm selling them on my Etsy shop, I'm not going to reveal my secret recipe!
Instead you can just drool over these pictures until the Power of Blondie compels you to make a purchase. And when it does, you can use coupon code: BLOGSPOT to get 10% off your order (any order)!




Saturday, June 30, 2012

Still here!

I have been too busy to blog, but I'm still cooking and baking!  Here's a lovely scallion pancake stuffed with shiitake mushrooms. This is probably one of the best things I've made in 2012. 
(serves 6, but I usually want 2 so this serves me and John with enough for me to have leftovers the next day, which reheat surprisingly well)


Batter:1 cup flour
¼ cups milk
1 egg
¼ oz melted butter
a pinch of sea salt
1 bunch scallions, chopped



Blend all the ingredients and let rest in your refrigerator, covered, for at least an hour. Make these crepes style in a pan with plenty of butter. 


Filling:
~12 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 T sesame oil
½ T soy sauce½ T balsamic vinegar
hoisin sauce

Sauté the mushrooms in sesame oil, adding the soy sauce and vinegar when the pan looks dry. I just stuff the pancakes omelet style, folding over on itself and drizzled with hoisin sauce.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

For Sale!

It's slow going... but I have started listing some of my baked goods on Etsy! There's a ton of people already on there, so I'm doing my best to keep my prices competitive. 
Picking a name for my shop was probably the hardest part, but I went with Hilltop Bake Shop because I live on a big hill and I like rhyming. 

**Hilltop Bake Shop**  <-- click this :-)


I hope to add at least two more items before the end of the month! I'm going to stick to mostly bars and cookies and stuff that ships easily.  On the way: lemon bars, peanut butter blossoms, and gingerbread cookies.

Also, John bought me this cute gadget and I can't wait to use it! I'll have to test it out to see if it the mini pies will be easily shipped so I can add these to my store's rotation.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tortellini Soup


I made this soup last Monday for my sometimes-weekly walk/dinner with my friend Amy. We served it with a yummy cucumber/arugula/tomato/etc salad and some rosemary bread bought from the bakery. I used spinach-cheese tortellini and chicken tortellini. I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 because I wanted to have leftovers, but I ended up having more than I could eat. (Even though this recipe is great, by Thursday I was a little sick of tortellini soup.) 
Still, you should make this. It's really delicious.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

National Grilled Cheese Day - April 12th

image courtesy of Punchbowl.com
I know what I'm making for dinner tonight! Even though a grilled cheese really only requires bread, butter and cheese, it can be so much more. And the combinations are endless. Some of my favorites include tomato, egg, goat cheese, bacon, avocado, apple (but not all of these in one!).

I've been to the Pop Shop in Collingswood, NJ a couple times. They specialize in grilled cheese and even took on Bobby Flay in one of his Throwdowns. The best thing I have eaten there was a grilled cheese made on a Philly pretzel... not a pretzel roll. The entire pretzel was cut in half and it worked well because Philly pretzels have practically no space between the dough, if that makes any sense. 

Who doesn't love grilled cheese? I better not see anyone raising their hands...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How To Keep an Avocado Green

I love avocados, and I love living in California where I can regularly get them for under a dollar, sometimes 2/$1! That beats paying $2 or more in Philadelphia. But the problem with avocados is that you really shouldn't eat a whole one in one sitting. Even though I so could. The second problem is keeping that other half (or three-quarters, or whatever) fresh and not all brown and mushy looking! I've tried lots of solutions, including the lemon juice thing and the leaving in a cup of cold water thing...
they work OKAY, but I was usually still left with some brown spots. And the water thing was kinda weird... I did feel like it eventually affected the texture of the top layer of the fruit. 

So here's my new tried and true solution (I'm probably not the first person to do this so I don't think I can patent it):



To save the other half of an avocado, make sure you leave the seed in it. Most importantly, you want to limit the exposure of oxygen to the fruit and removing the seed creates another air pocket. I took some plastic wrap and pushed it gently against the exposed part of the fruit and seed, trying to form somewhat of a seal. Then I wrapped the entire half with another piece of fruit and put it in my refrigerator.
Voila! a day later and my avocado looks GOOD. It was especially good this morning mashed on my sprouted grain mini bagel and sprinkled with some pepper.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

100

(So, this is my 100th blog post. Coincidentally, I had this post planned for weeks before realizing that 2012 is also the 100th anniversary (birthday?) of the Girl Scouts of America. I love synchronicity.) 


I was a Brownie for a year or two back in Wisconsin. I don't remember much from those days, but I do somewhere have a sash with about 7 or 8 merit badges. Mostly I just love the GSA for the same reason everyone else does: the cookies (duh).


I was kind of freaking out because I couldn't find ANY cookies this year, and then a co-worker brought a small selection of boxes for us to fight over. Among them were boxes of Caramel deLites, the Samoa knock-off I hadn't seen around these parts in several years. The first time I had encountered Caramel deLites, it was sometime in high school or college and I was kind of outraged because I thought they had changed the name of my favorite cookie. This was before I learned that there are two bakeries that produce the cookies for the GSA each year: the Little Brownie Bakers and the ABC Bakery. I'm not sure how it's decided which bakeries supply cookies for certain troops. Little Brownie Bakers are responsible for the real deal Samoas, as well as Tagalongs, another favorite of mine. ABC Bakery produces the knock-offs Caramel deLites and Peanut Butter PattiesPlenty of people say that they're the same thing. But it's not true.


Submitted for the approval of the midnight society, I call this PROOF:


Which cookie looks better to you?

How about which cookie tastes better? To tell the truth, when I did the blind taste test, it was hard for me to figure out exactly which was the Samoa, except that I knew I preferred the after-taste of cookie B. John knew his favorite the instant he put it in his mouth. I guess he has a more discernible palette than I do. 
cross-section of both cookies
So, drum roll please...
......
......
......
COOKIE B is the Real Deal Samoa! Overall, the Samoa looks better, IMO. The chocolate is darker, there is more coconut and, when you examine the cross-section, there is also more caramel. 
Both are delicious, but, as I said before, I do prefer the Samoa. So does John.
The nutritional information is pretty much identical, however, Samoas come 14 to a box and with Caramel deLites you get 16. 
So, the mystery is solved. I was so glad when another friend texted me about a secret supply of GSC I could get my grubby little paws on in order to conduct this super scientific experiment. 

And, just in case you're interested, here's where your $4 per box goes:
  • 91 cents goes to the bakery
  • $3.09 goes to the GSA to provide programs, activities, recognition patches, and otherwise contributing to the development of girls in the community.
GSC time is pretty much done for this year, but luckily I've got a stash to last me for quite a while! 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I'm Back

I had a little un-planned blog hiatus there for a minuteall of February... First I got sick, then I was busy doing the layout for my cookbook, then our iMac hard drive crashed. Luckily, we were able to save the pictures and documents from it before replacing it, but I've just had some setbacks, I guess.
The whole self-published cookbook thing was just a Groupon I had purchased last Fall, and forgot about until I realized it was expiring at the end of February. It's mostly just a recap of my favorite recipes from 2008-2011 and it was sort of a pain to assemble because I was in such a rush. But it's cute and might be a good gift idea in the future... I'd just have to go back and tweak some layout issues I noticed when it was finally printed.
I've been making a lot of new meals courtesy of a meal plan thing I purchased (again, a Groupon) and trying to be good, however I find myself about 10-13 lbs UP on the scale on any given day, and that just needs to change. Luckily, it is now Spring and that's when I find myself to be most motivated. So, I'll have to strike a balance between working out and eating well, but still continuing to bake some delicious foods. 
In other, non-culinary news, I'll be going to Harry Potter World in less than two months and I can not wait!
 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bacon-wrapped Sausage-stuffed Dates

I had a nice dinner out with my friend Amy back in December. Everything we ate was delicious, but most of all we loved the Spanish Stuffed Dates, which are dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with chorizo.
Here's my version... just as good if I do say so myself (and much cheaper!):
  • 1 package of pitted dates
  • 1 lb of bacon slices, cut in half
  • 1/4 lb (maybe even less?) spicy sausage or chorizo
  • toothpicks
Cut the dates with a pair of shears so that they are "butterflied." Put about half a teaspoon of uncooked sausage in the date and snap shut. Wrap with half a slice of bacon and close with a toothpick. Cook in a skillet over medium-high heat, turning as needed, until bacon is cooked. My photo is not very good and they do look a little charred, but they were perf. And the sausage inside cooks fine, no worries.

Monday, January 30, 2012

French Toast Egg Bake

I make egg bake/casserole type dishes a lot. They were big in my family, so I tend to gravitate towards these dishes whether sweet or savory. I made this on a whim recently because I had some leftover cinnamon bread that I didn't want to go bad. I layered the rest of my bread (about 6 slices) in a sprayed bread pan, along with some dried cherries, pecans or walnuts and a bit of brown sugar crumbled over it. Mix a few eggs and some milk (there is really no exact recipe for this, I make it differently every time) and pour over your bread. Drizzle some maple syrup if desired. Cover and let sit overnight in the refrigerator. Pop in the oven in the morning for about 20-30 minutes at 375, until eggs are set.
Slice and drizzle with maple or berry syrup (my favorite). 
Yum!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

... Hello, 2012!

And hello to a bevy of new kitchen gadgets, thanks to Santa and all the other people in my life who spoil me. 


First up, my brand new "mini" bread maker. I guess it's called mini because it makes a smaller, one-pound loaf, but it's still a ton of bread for just me and John. That being said, I've already made three different loaves, with many more to come. I'll discuss these on a later blog. I love it. I also used a gift card my mom got me to buy myself a nice bread knife.

Next, I begged Santa to bring me this relatively cheap, but totally awesome smoothie maker. I am having a blast making smoothies and somehow avoiding the temptation to make MILKSHAKES in it. They're coming, though, I can feel it. 




Then, John's parents surprised me with a sweet and extravagant gift: a super nice 14-piece set of non-stick Calphalon cookware. I love them. I promptly took all my old pots and pans (except my "weathered" baking sheets) and donated them to a co-worker. I love my new pans and I'm being really careful with them, because pretty much anything you would think of doing with them voids the warranty! It's really nice having the perfect size pot/pan for any job, and a matching lid that actually fits! 


My brother got me one of those electrical mini-cupcake makers. It makes 7 mini cupcakes/muffins in 7 minutes, and one box of cake mix made over 60! I spent the better part of New Year's Eve-day baking cupcakes for my friend Jenn's birthday.


So yes, basically this is a blog bragging about all the cool stuff I got for Christmas. But not really... it's like, "here's what's to come!" ... And much more! 
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