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sugar sugar

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

Recipe: vanilla sugar

I’m up to my elbows in butter, sugar, flour, and chocolate. Yes, it’s that time of year again – the cookie frenzy. Thanks to a back muscle spasm over the weekend that kept me from standing or walking, I had to rush getting all of the baked goods and confections out the door in one very long and exhausting day. But they’re done and you can stick a fork in me!


these went to jeremy’s staff



In addition to the cookies, marshmallows, and homemade hot cocoa mix, I included a jar of homemade vanilla sugar. It’s such an easy do-it-yourself project and it makes a great gift with a personal touch. Use vanilla sugar in place of regular sugar for that extra vanilla oomph. Even if you can’t think of a use for it, just open the jar and get a whiff of that floral, sweet, and heady perfume.

you’ll need whole vanilla beans and sugar

slice the bean lengthwise

scrape out all of those beautiful little seeds



**Jump for more butter**

a little time off

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Recipe: homemade hot cocoa mix

I hope everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving was able to enjoy their holiday! Me? I remained mostly offline for the past several days and loved every minute of it. Instead of expending my energies on cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I kept the food prep simple and opted to ski. Crested Butte happily received nearly 2 feet of snow before opening day on the mountain. It goes without saying that first tracks were accompanied by the sound of hoots and hollers echoing down the slopes of untracked powder. When the powder was no more, we went skate skiing, did a little mouse proofing of the house, squealed at baby puppy malamutes (that was me doing the squealing), and worked on stuff that always gets neglected back home.


fluffy

fresh

amazing snow for november

trees plastered from snowmaking guns



It seems that once Thanksgiving has passed, the calender shifts into high gear. Suddenly everything I never wanted goes on sale in my in-box. Oh, but it IS nice to nab a deal on those climbing skins I’ve been eying for over a year. For the most part, we ignore the frenzied consumerism because we don’t do gifts over the holidays. What I mean is that we only give homemade or local gifts to people like Jeremy’s staff, my oncologist, our vet, the post office. I try to mix it up from year to year with a variety of baked goods, confections, and something like a barbecue spice rub, homemade jam, or a flavored cheese powder for popcorn. This year, I’m including jars of homemade hot cocoa mix.

bittersweet chocolate chips, sugar, powdered milk, salt, dutch-process cocoa powder

chop the chocolate

mix everything together

scoop into air-tight jars



**Jump for more butter**

dinner at andrew’s

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Recipe: apple cider ice cream with apple cider caramel swirl

Last year, my friend, Andrew, went from owning 16 things that all fit in a backpack to owning a beautiful canyon home outside of Boulder. After traveling the world for over a year, he finally had a place to hang his hat. I visited, got the grand tour, and we agreed that we would have to cook dinner together in his new kitchen. That was 18 months ago. Every few months we’d touch base and our schedules just didn’t jive until last week. Andrew has hosted a lot of dinners at his house in that time, so his routine is dialed in. Except this time, he let me call the shots because I was guest cooking. I suggested a menu, prepared a few dishes in advance, and then we set to work Thursday afternoon.


which grocery store?

some kale, some apples…



Once at the house, Andrew tidied up (and sanded his deck – industrious fellow) while I took over the kitchen. As the sun dropped behind the canyon wall, guests began arriving. Some of my friends, his friends, mutual friends, and my mom! I usually try to take my mom out to dinner when my dad has poker night, but this time I was cooking at Andrew’s house, so we invited her to join us. Andrew led a few tours of his beautiful home as people trickled in.

miso butter roast chicken ready for the oven

the host with the most



We started with hot chorizo sweet onion dip (from Todd and Diane) and tortilla chips before sitting down to roasted carrot ginger soup, Oak’s shredded kale salad, miso butter roasted chicken (from Kathya), and a steamed rice blend with extra miso butter roast garlic sauce on top. Dinner was lively, fun, and I could finally relax since all of the cooking was done!

andrew serves up the miso butter chicken

dinner is served

my plate full of yum



For dessert, I served an ice cream I had made ahead of time at home. I’ve been feeling the love for apples of late, and that includes apple cider. A few weeks ago I was testing and tweaking an apple cider ice cream with apple cider caramel swirl. Instead of forcing apple cider caramel swirl on everyone, I decided to serve the caramel sauce on the side. Turns out everyone wanted the caramel anyway – I mean, who wouldn’t? The ice cream was declared a success and now that I’ve field tested it, I can share it with you. First, let’s get crackin’ on the ice cream.

eggs, apple cider, sugar, vanilla bean, sea salt, heavy cream, whole milk (not pictured: vanilla extract)

split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out

warm 1 cup of cream with the milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean

reduce the cider in a saucepan



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