Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Rock On, 1969!


Many years ago, upon receiving a fondue pot as a gift, Matt and I asked an acquaintance "Do we seem like people who would own three fondue pots?"

And without pause he answered "YES."

We do, by the way. Own three of 'em.

It's not the sort of meal you have often, because, well...cheese. Lots of cheese. It can be heavy. There's a lot of prep.

On the other hand - it's fun! Dipping and playing with your food? C'mon. Who doesn't love that?

So, we decided that the weather was still cold enough and we were all well/un-stressed enough to deal, and made fondue Sunday night.

By...chance?...cosmic pull?...he's not sure really...Matt stopped at a thrift store Saturday while out running errands. And there, he found Gourmet International: FONDUE - The Fine art of fondue, Chinese Wok and Chafing Dish Cooking.
It was a dollar. He grabbed it. It's what we do.

And because it's what we do, I used their Family Style Swiss Cheese Fondue recipe.

They give the option of using milk instead of Kirsch, which I did. (The lingering alcohol flavor has always been by big fondue-y hang-up).

Love that this practically giving-it-away book, a book at its time of publication would have seemed all Exotic! and New!, can still be relevant.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

He's a Chocolate Chip off the (Who are you calling?) Old Block


Remember that 'little' guy? Well, almost ten years later and he's all grown up (I'm not kidding - 5' 5 1/2" already!) and proving that he is totally, completely our kid when it comes to food. And he just made these beauties.

Salted Dulce de Leche Brownies.

It's for a school baking contest and he did it all by himself. (You know, except for the oven and cutting at the end.) I know I'm not around much these days, and was never really a 'mommy'-style blogger, but doggone it - I'm so proud of him!

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Sunday, August 03, 2014

Tiny batty things.


First - can anyone tell me why uploading photos from Picassa to Blogger is no longer a thing that works? I don't like fighting with technology... Second - Black Bat Chocolate Truffle Ice Cream. Folks on Tumblr designated July as Cass Cain month. Big storms with ALL the wind meant our cable and internet got knocked out - twice - leaving us without access for a week. ...I'm a few days late to the party. Gorgeous ice cream, rich and dark (King Arthur's black cococa) with little black bats and your basic yellow sprinkles to signify Cass's color scheme and code name.

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Monday, July 21, 2014



Still here.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Whoa - a post!


Yep. I'm still here.

Still cooking and baking and all-around fooding.

Just not documenting every culinary moment these days.

I did want to share these yes-I-know-they're-not-great photos of the cupcakes I made for Alex's class Halloween party.

Glow-in-the-dark meringue ghosts.

Broken-Glass cupcakes.

Bloody cute.
(Get it? ...sigh.)

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Baking for Batgirl


Not long ago, Gail Simone was asked what Barbara Gordon's favorite cookie/baked good would be. The answer?


Yeah. You just know my food geek over-achiever-y-ness was going to kick in.

Snickerdoodles are good. But what about Snickerdoodle cupcakes?

I mean, cupcakes are (were?) the rage for a reason. Who doesn't like cupcakes?

Not Babs, I hope!

Lovely cake batter with just enough cinnamon to evoke that wonderful cookie.

I opted for a basic powdered sugar frosting in lieu of the Italian meringue (which tends to leave me a bit punchy).

On top of that, sift cinnamon sugar and there you have it. Snickerdoodle cupcakes! Perfect after a hard night of crime-fighting. ...or, you know, not.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cover Grill


People who follow me through social media must suffer from whiplash on a regular basis. I'll post something about comics, followed by food porn and then highlight some form of social injustice.
What can I say: I'm a complicated gal.

This post was prompted by something Bon Appetit Tumblr'd last week, a call to make their cover recipe and share the results.

Sambal Chicken Skewers.  Not for the heat-intolerant. But worth eating through the pain!

It's not exactly a cover shot, I know. We were in a hurry to get dinner to the table.  But I happen to believe true beauty isn't always on the surface!

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Social Media Burger


Friend of a friend. A co-worker's mom. The lady from church. The hostess at a Tupperware party.

That's how we used to discover new recipes.

Now we have blogs, food products and magazines online, Facebook...you name it.

A few weeks ago on Twitter, someone I follow retweeted the Instagram of a burger they'd had...somewhere. It looked and sounded amazing, so Matt and I decided to replicate it at home

Quality beef burger (veggie ones for the non-meat eaters, of course), bacon, chipotle barbecue sauce and tempura-d avacodo on a roll. 

And yes, it was as good as you think.

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter breakfast


Whoa; I know. A post!

Easter dinner plans had to be rescheduled due to a Very Ill Child, but Matt still gets spoiled.

A solid layer of smoked salmon, soft and creamy scrambled eggs and a gorgeous, ripe avocado - all dotted with sriracha.

Some times, the simple things really are the best.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

"Teach me."


Last night, Alex - who is much-too-rapidly approaching his tenth birthday- helped make a cardamom bread.

Measuring and adding ingredients he has down already. Mixing, no problem.

It came time to knead the dough and I told him I'd work it a bit first, so it'd be easier to handle. A few minutes later, I asked him "Do you know how to knead?"
His instant reply "Teach me."

And so I did.

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Saturday, February 09, 2013

TDATD: Retro Vibe


Old-timey POP.

While everyone else was mashing potatoes and getting creative with pumpkin, we were channeling the 1940s-1960s in preparation for our annual Two Days After Thanksgiving Dinner.


Iceberg lettuce wedges with a house-made French dressing.

Matt doesn't like turkey, and Alex and I are both vegetarian. The traditional Thanksgiving dinner isn't something that appeals to us.

Many years ago, even before we met, Matt started hosting a dinner party for friends the Saturday following turkey day, aptly named the Two Days After Thanksgiving Dinner.

Each dinner carries some sort of theme. Previous parties included Indian, Things Stuffed Into Other Things, Mexican and Halloween in November. This year, we decided to give retro foods a spin.

Rolls from a wartime (the big one, for those wondering) cookbook.

Pulling from both vintage and retro-themed cookbooks, we put together a casual, almost-cocktail party menu.

Tomato soup

You've gotta have soup, right? Very basic, but strongly flavored.

Shrimp cocktail with a horseradish-heavy cocktail sauce.

What's a more classic appetizer than the shrimp cocktail?  The sauce came from my trusty Wartime cookbook.

Waiter, would you serve the nuts? I mean, serve the guests the nuts.

Smoked-chicken salad, served with classic crackers.

The molded salad was such a standard dish. It's also pretty gross. I wanted to keep the look without turning my stomach while making it, so we went with chicken salad: smoked chicken, mayo, celery and chipotle powder, molded in a plastic wrap-lined bowl and chilled then served on a bed of lettuce with Ritz, Triscuits and Captain's Wafers on the side.

Deviled eggs

Feta salad in cucumber cups

Like your favorite Greek salad, inverted.

Making it up as we go: Mock-Champagne Punch.

Matt and I don't drink alcohol (not for preachy reasons, we just don't care for it), but I'm always looking for reasons to use my vintage punch bowl.
The Champagne Punch without the punch is a good enough reason.  Vanilla seltzer, lavender dry soda and pineapple juice.


Hostess was in the news around the time of the party. So I made my own cream-filled chocolate cupcakes and 'canoe' cakes.

Oh, look - it's me! Or my pedicured-foot in my rockabilly shoes and dress.

Even did my hair sort of vintage: the pin-curl is my new best (style) friend.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

'Tis the Season



...and after.

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Sunday, November 04, 2012

Cambodian Chicken & Rice Soup for Souper Sundays



I like the cooler temperatures a lot more than Matt. My feeling is that you can
add more layers to get warm, but when it's hot you can only take off so much
to get cool!

There's another, and more recent, reason I like this time of the year: Matt's more
willing to eat soup. (This is called a 'win-win'.)

Give it some Asian flavors and he might even have seconds.

Cambodian Chicken and Rice Soup (with shrimp, which we omitted) is ridiculously
easy and full of flavor.
For Matt's, we used our already-smoked and shredded chicken instead of rotisserie.
Ginger and garlic (we used jarred pastes for ease) are heated, stock (more of the smoked
chicken stock), water, fish sauce, honey and cooked jasmine rice are boiled.
Add in the chicken, then the shrimp (if using) until just cooked. Throw in some
lime juice, shredded basil & sliced chile and you've got a filling soup with a
bit of heat.

Once again, it's Deb and her Souper Sundays that gets me back here and posting!

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Something resembling Italian Wedding Soup: Souper Sundays


What's this? Two weeks in a row?

I'd better be careful or you might start expecting more from me.

A 'quick' & easier Italian Wedding Soup for dinner (and Souper Sundays). As always, we made two versions of this. One for Matt & another for Alex & me.

Already-made smoked chicken stock or vegetable boullion was boiled with finely-diced (or, as I like to call it, 'confetti') carrots & celery. After a few minutes, add first the orzo & cook until al dente, then the meatballs (the recipe wants them one-inch; I made mine considerably smaller, while Matt's were only a bit larger than that) made from either ground pork or a vegetarian ground 'sausage', breadcrumbs, grated cheese (Asiago, in this case) & a bit of salt & pepper. This gets simmered, then chopped spinach goes in & simmers a bit more.

The recipe also calls for chickpeas, which is an unfamiliar ingredient for this soup (to me), but we decided to omit them on the grounds that a few years ago, sillyAlex (TM) declared he didn't like them.
And some nights, you just don't want to deal with the whole 'try it before you say you don't like it' debacle.

For something that came together quickly & with so few ingredients, it was surprisingly good.
Matt & I prefer to brown our meatballs before adding to anything liquid, but despite a short cooking time, they came out nicely-done.
Results were flavorful, but not overwhelming.

And after Alex quite literally cleaned his bowl & went off to play, Matt & I did a parenting-win high-five.

Love ya, Deb.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

McSpicy Paneer-ish


I read an article from NPR last week, about McDonald's plans to open stores in India near temple sites, but featuring vegetarian menus. (My feelings about that will have to wait for another time and place.)

One of the dishes mentioned was the McSpicy Paneer; a sandwich made with a tempura-d slab of paneer.

Ok; I don't eat fast food. And if I did...it wouldn't be at a McD's.  But this? This intrigued me.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find much beyond a general description for the sandwich so I decided to just wing it.

A spiced mayo spread on the bottom half of a roll, followed by lettuce and a thick slice of tomato, then slices of batter-dipped and quick-fried paneer, and finished with raita.

The result? Quite good, actually. A bit too much food (which I suppose is on par with a chain restaurant sandwich), but tasty.
We'd rather have used a tamarind chutney in place of the spiced mayo, but couldn't find ours.

Definitely worth further experimentation, though.

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Sunday, September 09, 2012

Real-Deal Tortilla Soup for Souper Sundays


I am such a bad food blogger.

I made this soup three weeks ago. I had every intention of posting!

...And then I didn't.

Ah, well.

No time like the...blah blah blah.

I've become such a fan of Serious Eats over the last year. I think a third of my bookmarked recipes come from them.

And despite Matt not being much of a soup fan (I know, I cry a little on the inside, too), he was very interested in this one.

Bonus? I finally got to use the Michael Chiarello method for slicing corn kernels from the cob!

I think the only changes made were using some already-cooked (and smoked) chicken for Matt, tortilla chips instead of frying fresh...and of course, leaving out that foul cilantro.
And blue potatoes. Come on; look at that beauty!

Really fabulous & quick soup. Deep flavor - it has a lot going on. And so filling!


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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I like to smell some cookies...it makes me feel at home.


This is what good cooking is all about.

Sing it, Julia.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

It's Ridiculous


This sandwich, I mean. It's kind of ridiculous. We were sitting around the dining table one night, at dinner, & I had this idea for a sandwich. (What? You don't discuss food while eating food with your family?) I knew I wanted something along the lines of a Primanti Brothers sandwich, but a little different.

 A mayo-smeared roll topped with French fries, slices of fried chicken, prosciutto, avocado, shredded lettuce & tomato.

What a mess. What a delicious mess.

It wasn't exactly right: a spicy mayo or even spiced fries would improve things. And mashing the avocado would help structural integrity.

But it was good. (Alex & I, of course, had a similar sandwich using faux chicken & bacon).

Good, & let's face it: ridiculous. 

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Saturday, July 07, 2012

Minted Lamb Burger


Like the rest of you (I'm sure), I have more recipes bookmarked on my computer than I will live long enough to make.

Each has a folder, with expected titles like 'chicken', 'pies', 'beverages'.

There's also one marked 'For Matt'.

With the range of meat analogues (faux meats) available today, Alex & I can have the same, albeit vegetarian, meals as Matt.

But there are just some things that can't be 'faked', & lamb is one of them.

So it was finally time to make something just for Matt, & the Minted Lamb Burgers wtih Feta & Hummus got the nod.

Well...sort of.

We completely forgot to get feta, so there's that. But hummus spread on the bottom roll, the burger, lettuce, tomatoes & topped with raita.

And yes. He says it was as good as it looks.

Oh, & don't worry! Alex & I weren't left out: we had the same meal, but with falafel 'burgers', instead.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Continent-jumping for Father's day


 Smoked Salmon Involtini

Not everyone is lucky enough to have parents worth celebrating. Alex, fortunately, is.

 Matt is an amazing dad. I know how special that is. A special dinner for Father's day is my way of showing it.

 He loves salmon, & salmon is what he got. An appetizer of smoked salmon rolled around a mixture of guacamole & cream cheese, served on mini-toasts. A beautiful piece of wild Alaskan salmon, sprinkled with chili powder, ground chipotle & smoked paprika, cooked lightly then topped with what can best be described as a salsa cruda. A side dish of a slightly made-up fattoush.

And for dessert - Mexican Coke float.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

International Black Alice Day


This time around, I'm baking not for a big name superhero, but for a snarky & not-as-well-known-as-she-should-be anti-hero: Black Alice.

Black Alice is the costumed name of Lori Zechlin, created by Gail Simone.
As is often the case, Lori's powers developed after a traumatic experience, in this case, the death of her mother.

And those powers? Oh, she 'borrows' the abilities of other magic users. Most of the time, neither well nor wisely, but it certainly makes for an interesting read.

Lori, or Black Alice as she's being celebrated today, is a fun, sad & nuanced character. You can learn more about her in Simone's Birds of Prey and Secret Six.

When International Black Alice Day was announced, I was stumped. No foods came immediately to mind.

So I asked 'mom' if there were any dishes associated with Black Alice. Gail suggested things a teenager could make for herself, like cheeseburgers.

Ok. That I could do.

The Black Angus Alice Burger

Starting at the bottom: roll smeared with barbecue sauce, topped with potato chips, an enormous Angus beef patty, cheese slice, bacon, ketchup & mustard, lettuce & tomato.

Very much the sort of thing you can eat when you have a sixteen year old's metabolism!

But of course I had to make dessert. It just wouldn't be me, otherwise.

Devil's food cupcakes with a peanut butter ganache filling & goth-grey buttercream frosting, topped with purple 'disco dust'.

An inch & a half of pure sugar, chocolate cake & a bit of bitter, sweet & peanut butter-y goodness.

Chocolate cake...well, because. The frosting because there is no way Lori'd use pink!
And the filling? A bit sharp, a touch of sweetness...& peanut butter to reflect the nuttiness of the world she lives in (c'mon; she had a crush on Ragdoll & worked with King Shark. Who's a shark!).

Matt & Alex had gone to bed, so I was out of taste-testers.

...so sweet, my teeth literally ached.

But were I (redacted) years younger? I'd love it.

 So happy International Black Alice Day! Enjoy a burger too big to eat & little cakes so sweet they might send you into a sugar coma.

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Thursday, June 07, 2012

Chicken Tikka Makhani


Oh, hey. It's me again.

Twice in one week? This is when you start looking for the pod.

This recipe for Butter Chicken came up on my Twitter feed a few weeks ago, via Serious Eats.

Yes, it's a lot of ingredients and sure, it takes a bit of time.

The good news: it's not active time. There's a quick pureeing & the chicken marinates for hours. Then, it gets broiled & set aside.
Toss a bunch of stuff into a pot. Simmer, add in the chicken.

Serve with rice & you're done.

Oh, & the wait? Totally worth it. A vivid tomato-flavored sauce. And for an Indian dish with cream, it's relatively light.

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Monday, June 04, 2012

Worth the $5.75


Summer vacation starts early here, and Alex was getting bored.

This meant it was time for a trip to the big used book store.

So, he and Matt stopped in one day, coming home with a huge stack of thick books (Arabian Nights, Richard Burton translation, among them).

They also grabbed a copy of Asian Wraps: Deliciously Easy Hand-Held Bundles to Stuff, Wrap and Relish by Nina Simonds for me.

We're all fans of Asian flavors here, so it wasn't an entirely altruistic gesture on Matt's part.

The book saw its debut tonight, with the Vietnamese Chicken Salad.

Thin rice noodles are topped with shredded chicken (for Matt, we used some of the hickory- & pecan-smoked chicken we'd made last night, while Alex and I used the soy delight nuggets from Earth Fare, pan-fried in a splash of olive oil), grated carrot, peanuts, mint and (replacing the we-think-it-tastes-like-dish-soap cilantro) basil. That then gets a Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce poured over (lime juice, crushed red pepper flakes sugar, minced garlic, nam pla soy sauce and grated carrot.

Easily eaten in Boston lettuce leaves or from a bowl (we did both), it's a good combo of bright, fresh flavors and crunch. The dressing really ties it all together. Both guys are taking leftovers for lunch and we're already looking forward to trying more recipes. You've gotta love those used book stores.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Dinner


Matt & Alex made sushi fo rme.
And Alex set the table. Cute, no?

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, Wonder Woman! And an Amazon Princess Party.


My first superhero. My role model. A beacon of strength during what was far from a happy childhood.

Diana's been getting some, well, less-than flattering treatment lately. But those of us who love her & all she symbolizes remember the 'good' times.

So I'm honoring her in the way I know best.

Today is the birthday of Wonder Woman, the Amazon Princess.

And you, too, can have an Amazon Princess Party!

First, you'll need to send those invitations.

After the royal scribe has finished hand-lettering each one, wrap the scrolls around an arrow, aim your bow & fire in the direction of each guest's home. (Or, simply wrap the invite around a plastic arrow & send in a mailing envelope; your choice.)

Next you'll need to decorate.

Outdoor spaces are best, but wherever you host your party drape the area with gossamer in alternating red, white & blue. Wrap the tables in a similarly-colored bunting. Add metallic gold gossamer streamers, preferably hung from classically-styled columns.

No Amazon Princess Party would be complete without activities! Of the sporting kind, that is.

Depending on the number of Amazon Princesses attending, the events can run in order or concurrently.

Possible activities:

  • Foot races

  • Archery competitions

  • Long jump

  • Discus (Frisbees are a suitable alternative)

Winners receive tiaras and/or laurel wreaths.

Your party guests will have worked up an appetite by this point. The birthday Amazon Princess can now lead them to the feast table.

They will be served cubes of melon, wedges of oranges & tangerines, plums, nectarines & grapes (still in bunches).

Pomegranates, broken open & ready to be eaten.

Platters of feta & saganaki with pita.

Goblets (or juice boxes) of grape juice.

After the Amazon Princesses have had their fill, bring out a platter of baklava. It's ok to stud it with candles.

If you can arrange for your guests to battle evil gods or align themselves with talking gorillas, I can guarantee that this is one birthday party that they'll never forget!!

(baklava recipe can be found here.)

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Irish breakfast dinner for St. Pat's


Forget stews or corned beef.

When we were in Ireland it was all about the breakfasts.

Wonderful, creamy eggs. Smoked salmon for Matt (just about every day). There were always potatoes, in some form.
And of course...the bread. Wonderful brown bread.

So that's what we made.

Eggs made the Nero Wolfe way: stirring constantly for a very, very long time.

Potatoes: baked potatoes cut into wedges, dipped in buttermilk then a mixture of flour, cayenne, salt & pepper (twice), then deep-fried.

Bangers for Matt. Yes, they're hard to find but I lucked out (The Vermont Country Store, I thank you).

And brown bread. Perfect, amazing bread with Kerrygold butter.

Mugs of Brigadoon tea from Adagio Teas...& it was almost like being back.

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