The Best Sweet Potato Pie

The Best Sweet Potato Pie

I often hate it when recipes titles declare things as “perfect” or “the best.”  I find it a bit smug.  I mean, really, how does one know it’s the best?  Have they tried all of the other recipes for that particular dish?  And what is perfection?  Food is extremely subjective.  Taste is extremely subjective.  Cooking techniques vary greatly with ingredient or equipment preferences, dietary choices, even one’s kitchen ethos.  There is no perfect; there is no best.

Crispy Skillet Potatoes with Buttermilk Ranch Sauce

Crispy Skillet Potatoes w/ Buttermilk Ranch Sauce

For a very, very long time I’ve been trying to figure out how to make perfectly crisp skillet potatoes.  The kind of potatoes that give you that supremely satisfying CRUNCH as you bite into them but are gloriously silky and creamy in the middle.  I’ve been looking for a fool-proof method that would work every time…and I found it!  This is it.  And they are indeed crispy…crispy with a capital C-R-I-S-P-Y.  And to top off these wondrous carbs, I made a buttermilk ranch sauce — because everybody secretly knows ranch is the BEST.

Salted Caramel Corn & Apple Cookies

Salted Caramel Corn & Apple Cookies

Let’s hop right into it! These cookies are major! They’re the sweet/salty cookie lovechild of apple pie and caramel corn with a bit of caramel apple inspiration! The salted caramel corn gives them a slight crunchy/chewy texture and the cinnamon-laced apples leave the cookies soft and moist. They’re a fun combination of textures with the whimsy and nostalgia of county fairs, the circus and the holidays all wrapped up together!

Apricot Brie Arugula Baguette Sandwiches

Apricot Brie Arugula Baguette Sandwiches

Sometimes you just need something quick.  Maybe you’re busy getting chores done around the house.  Maybe you’re running low on energy or culinary get-up-and-go.  Or maybe, the weather outside is so nice and you’re seriously whooping your hubby’s butt at a game of Bags and don’t want to lose your mojo by stopping to make dinner, so you slap together some bread, jam, cheese, and arugula for a super quick and easy baguette sandwich supper.  Yep, that’s the one.

Beer Batter Fried Green Olives with Sriracha Mayo

Beer Batter Fried Green Olives with Sriracha Mayo

Gone Girl.  Have you read the book?  It’s twisted and dark in the best way possible, a real page-turner, enormously suspenseful. Written by Gillian Flynn, who’s storytelling is wickedly funny and scrumptiously creepy, the plot is a sticky spiderweb of “who dunnit?” And now the movie adaptation comes out tomorrow, for which she also wrote the screenplay. They chose the perfect director for it, too: David Fincher! And it was filmed in my town, Cape Girardeau, Missouri!  And my family and I along with several of our friends got to be extras; an amazing experience! And, I also got to meet….wait for it….(no, not Neil Partrick Harris–Barney Stinson joke there)…but Ben Affleck. Gulp. Heart flutter. Swoon.

Parmesan & Herb Crusted Pumpkin Slices

Parmesan & Herb Crusted Pumpkin Slices

My CSA box last week was the perfect example of seasonal transition.  It was filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans as well as potatoes, pumpkin, sage, kale and butternut squash (and more!).  It was a box that kept surprising me as I pulled out the eclectic mix of seasonal veg.  It also served as a happy reminder of what being a member of a CSA is all about…reconnecting our food system to what’s grown locally in a way that’s sustainable to our particular climate and region.

Potato Kale Cakes with Kimchee Mayo

Potato Kale Cakes with Kimchee Mayo

Over the past month I’ve made 2 new food discoveries: savory (the herb) and kimchee (Korea’s national dish).  I’m in love with both…and though they may seem like strange bedfellows, I’ve put them together in this recipe.

Savory, the winter variety, was introduced to me through my CSA; one of the many awesome benefits of being a member is experimenting with new foods and flavors.  To me, it tastes like a cross between thyme and flat-leaf parsley; it resembles the woodsy flavor of thyme, but also has a clean, bright quality similar to parsley. It’s a beautiful in-between seasons kind of herb.  I’ve been using it in everything, including these potato kale cakes.

Panzanella

Panzanella

This Tuscan bread and tomato salad is exactly why summer was invented.  It brings together the lovely veg that’s simultaneously in season; a harmony of ingredients and flavor.  Historically, this dish spanned all classes of 16th century Italy.  Though namely a peasant dish — it was a way to use up stale bread, which back then was only baked once a week — it was also adored by nobility.  Poets even wrote about it.  The stale bread was soaked in water and vinegar to soften then tossed with whatever vegetables came out of the garden, most commonly onions and cucumbers.  Tomatoes weren’t introduced to the salad until the 1800’s.