Spooky Shortbread Cookies

October is my favorite month of the whole year. Pumpkins, monster movies, ouija boards, Ray Bradbury stories, Vincent Price, and of course Halloween!

And what a better way to celebrate the shortening days than with a cup of piping hot tea and Scottish shortbread cookies?

I love shortbread cookies. The perfect combination of crispy, buttery, but not too sweet. You have to try really hard to mess them up. And they’re usually only 3 main ingredients: butter, flour, and sugar. Although at my house we add a dash of vanilla.

But after looking at my childhood Halloween craft books, it clicked in my mind how easy it would be to make festive cutouts like skulls, bats, and ghosts!

If you have festive cookie cutters, great! If not, you can draw your own shapes on construction paper or index cards and cut around them. It’s pretty straightforward. I had cookie cutters of ghosts, bats, and bones, so I had to make my own skull pattern.

Frosting is optional too, but I wanted to make them prettier. Boy did I find out how hard it is to do icing decorations! My respect for cake decorators has increased dramatically!

Spooky Shortbread cookies

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/3 cups flour, plus extra for dusting rollout surface
  • 1 tube ready to use black buttercream frosting
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt.
  3. Add 2 1/3 cups flour and mix until well combined.
  4. Sprinkle flour on a flat surface
  5. Separate the dough into two halves to work with. Place one half on floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll out into slab 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick.
  6. Cut out shapes from slab, and place on non-stick cookie sheet.
  7. Gather up slab and re-roll, cutting out more cookies
  8. Once cookie sheet is filled up, place in oven and bake 17-19 minutes
  9. Let cool on wire rack
  10. Once cooled, decorate with buttercream frosting
  11. Serve with hot tea, coffee, or cocoa.

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Mushroom, Onion, and Spinach Frittata

I’ve been doing yoga more recently. Although I may not be able to contort my body in all of those crazy poses, my abs feel sore and my legs are jelly sometimes which must mean it’s working. I guess.

But lately I’ve been craving frittata! I confess, I have no idea how other people make it. I have only ever made it from scratch myself or with my mom. It is kind of like a baked omelette. But I feel like this version is 75% vegetables instead of mostly egg. It’s my go-to meal for clearing up space in the fridge, solving dinner dilemmas, and getting my dose of both comfort food and veggies. It’s especially good with fresh eggs!

This recipe can easily be diversified with shredded carrots if desired for a little more color. And Panko bread crumbs or French fried onions on top make it even more delightful!

Mushroom, Onion, and Spinach Frittata

1 onion, diced

8 white button mushrooms, diced

3 stalks celery, chopped

3-4 cups fresh organic baby spinach

9 eggs

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 cups shredded cheese

Panko bread crumbs (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In large skillet, sauté the onions, celery, and mushrooms until cooked through and onions appear translucent.
  3. Add spinach and cook down until wilted.
  4. In a separate bowl crack the eggs, add the turmeric, and scramble them all together.
  5. Add the scrambled eggs to the mushrooms, onions, spinach, and celery.
  6. Sprinkle cheese and breadcrumbs on top
  7. Place in oven and bake for 15-18 minutes until frittata is puffy
  8. Remove from oven and serve immediately with salsa.

Green Dragon Sushi 🐉🍣

My dog has never eaten sushi, but nevertheless he’s obsessed with it. He is so fascinated by the food prep and wonders why I’m on my feet slicing, rolling, and arranging so many various foodstuffs in the kitchen. It’s ok Dobby, you are more than welcome to keep me company.

I first got my SushiQuik kit back in January and have been playing with the right food combinations and flavors to get the perfect sushi concoction. It wasn’t so easy. I had to do a lot of outside research and it wasn’t always pretty. Although red food coloring makes for nice looking Valentine sushi, the the seasoned rice vinegar distracts from the inside flavors way too much. And when I say distract, I mean full on destroys any other flavors that may be present.

From cookbooks, to the Food Network, to watching and quizzing the sushi chefs at various restaurants, I have garnered enough tips and tricks to feel confident sharing perhaps my best and favorite sushi roll to date!

Ok maybe it isn’t sushi in the traditional sense. I followed the advice of one sushi chef and used a combination of lemon juice and orange juice to season the rice instead of rice vinegar and sugar. I also had no fish but I was craving sushi like crazy! So I had to improvise and use apples. It isn’t full on vegan, but for vegetarians it should work nicely. It made three long rolls and I ate them all. By myself. No regrets.

As soon as I made them up, my mom helped me arrange them to look pretty for nice photos. But then we had a little too much fun and arranged them to look like a serpent. So voila: green dragon sushi. Honestly I’m tempted to color the rice green to really make it work.

Green Dragon Sushi

    1 1/2 cups sushi rice
    2 cups water
    1/3 cup lemon juice
    1/3 cup orange juice
    3 sheets nori wrappers
    1 mini cucumber
    1 gala apple
    3-4 individual packs Sargento Colby Jack Cheese (or substitute Arla Gouda cheese)
    1/2 avocado
    1/4 cup Kikoman soy sauce or Hoisin garlic sauce.
  1. Measure out the rice and put into pot. Add water and set on medium heat.
  2. Once water comes to a low boil, cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Cook approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. While rice is cooking, cut the cucumber, apple, cheese, and avocado into smaller rectangular slices, removing the peel on the apple and cucumber.
  4. Once rice is done, remove from heat, fluff rice with a non-stick sushi rice paddle.
  5. Add lemon juice and orange juice to the rice. Mix well.
  6. Place nori sheet on rolling mat and spoon out small portions of rice onto the nori, pressing down firmly into place.
  7. Cover whole nori wrapper in rice, leaving the top and bottom of the wrapper exposed.
  8. Place fillings of cucumber, apple, cheese, and avocado in the middle of the rice.
  9. Wet your finger with water and coat the bottom of the exposed nori sheet with water (this will help it to stick together).
  10. Slowly begin to roll the mat that allows the ingredients to be surrounded in rice.
  11. Roll the sushi roll to end of the exposed top of the nori. Wet the nori top. Finish rolling onto this exposed top and firmly add pressure here to seal.
  12. Remove mat and take roll to cutting board. Slice the roll to desired thickness with a sharp knife in that has been rinsed in water (again, this helps for it to not stick).
  13. Repeat steps 6-12 two more times or until amount desired.
  14. Arrange sushi onto a plate in a snaking pattern and garnish with apple triangles for scales, and cucumber strips for tail, horns and snout.
  15. Serve with side dishes of soy sauce or Hoisin garlic sauce.

Cast Iron Cornbread

It has been way too long since I last posted anything on here and I do not appreciate that! But going away on a trip to find dinosaur tracks and having my granny over to celebrate her birthday are kind of distracting so you don’t get much time to write.

Living in Texas, I can’t believe I have not written down a cornbread recipe to share! Truth be told, I do not have a recipe for cornbread. But my mom does, and she knows my great-grandmother’s recipe and technique. I love cornbread and would pair it with maple syrup or butter as a kid. Today I will eat it plain just because I love the texture and subtle flavor. Plus it’s also good as muffins!

The first time I ever made cornbread, I was a little scatterbrained and accidentally put oil in the bowl before I mixed the dry ingredients together. It turned out ok, but that was a big no-no!

This time around, I learned some tips and tricks I’ll be sure to remember for next time. Thanks mom! 🙂

Also, while I personally make this in cast iron, any circular cake pan will work as well.

Cast Iron Cornbread

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour

2-3 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 egg

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Measure out vegetable oil and pour into cast iron skillet. Place skillet into preheating oven.
  3. In a large bowl, add cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
  4. Mix dry ingredients together with a whisk until combined.
  5. Make a hollow well bowl with the cornbread mixture and crack the egg and pour milk into the well.
  6. Proceed to mix all the ingredients together.
  7. Remove cast iron from preheated oven and pour the oil into the cornbread mixture (so the pan is greased but enough oil can be added to the mixture).
  8. Stir everything together and pour the batter into the skillet
  9. Return skillet to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden on top.
  10. Remove from oven and serve with butter, maple syrup, raw honey, or red beans. It’s good with just about anything lol!

Where in the World is the Honey Dijon Mustard?

I have been enjoying the summertime like nothing else lately. Not only have I been experimenting with the idea of breakfast pizza, but I’ve been reading into a lot of cookbooks I would love to try out and review. I really want to read the cookbook Vincent Price wrote with his wife in the 1960s. But most recently have had to come to the glaring reality of how complicated it is to buy mustard.

I didn’t use to like mustard, but thankfully I’ve grown into it. What fascinates me is the overwhelming choices you can get. The different brands. The different flavors. It’s like there’s a special kind of mustard for every personality. I mean, there is even the presence of horseradish mustard for the hard-core individual whose mouth was most likely burnt beyond all feeling by a pepperoni hot pocket.

But one day I found my favorite flavor: honey dijon mustard. I tried it a year ago and it quickly became a necessity in my fridge. It has the right kick, but a sweetness to keep me in the conversation. It doesn’t muck up a sandwich or distract from the other flavors. For me, it’s just right.

But for SOME REASON, it’s like I cannot find it anywhere. No grocery store where I live sells it!

Do you want some Grey Poupon? No.

Do you want French’s basic yellow mustard? No.

How about some whole grain mustard? Um, I’m good. No.

Honey mustard? Uggghhhhh…..

How about some horseradish mustard? Dear God NO!!

Why can none of these places give me what I want? So I have resorted to desperate measures.

I made my own.

I followed a basic honey Dijon glaze recipe from the Damn Delicious blog, but I added more honey and mayonnaise to make it sweeter and smoother to my liking. It’s so addicting, I even eat it on toast or a croissant in the morning. And night. And at second breakfast. And elevensies……

Honey Dijon Mustard Spread

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup basic yellow mustard

1/3 cup pure honey

  1. In a large bowl, combine the mayo, both mustards, and honey until well mixed. Taste and adjust ingredient ratios to desired flavor.
  2. Pour into empty mason jar and store in the refrigerator
  3. Eat on sandwiches, crackers, toast, or with deli meats.

Birthday Cupcakes

Today is my birthday, but a year ago today also became your birthday too. I woke up to a text message from my mom to come bring a leash to the field. Still half asleep and still in my pjs I met you. Your skin was bright pink, the little fur you had was matted, and your spine was easily distinguishable. Your short tail was likely broken, it waggled so funny. You were thrilled to have someone pull our dog Jack away from you. And so you followed us home.

The vet said you were already a year old already, but in retrospect I don’t think so, considering you’ve quadrupled in size. You were so pathetic and slept for most of the day. Although plenty of people jokingly called you the birthday puppy, I knew you couldn’t stay. How could I justify a new dog when we already had 3?

But time went on and no real homes came along. In the meantime, you kept yourself busy following me, crying for attention, chewing everything I owned, and sleeping at the foot of my bed. After a while, I’ll admit, you won me over. You even got a name for yourself: Dobby. Because the way you perked your ears made you look like the house elf. Not to mention your love of socks.

It was not too long until I realized you began to channel my emotions. When I was calm, you were playful. When I was stressed out of my mind, you became antsy and threw hissy fits with me. It did not help the situation I hope you know. I remember you insisting that I hold your rawhide chew to decompress your stress from watching me hastily put together final portfolios at 2 AM. The day after you were quite calm and content to sleep all day since I was at ease. At the start of grad school, you were very insistent on being a better help to me, and accompany me reading.

I have always told people about my “funny problem child”. I remember all the scowls and huffs when I tolerated your hissy fits when Bo would steal your rawhide chew. You walked away from it, you have no one to blame but yourself. But I think of the way he nibbles my toes. The fact that he howls at new people in his house. His love of coconut yogurt. The way that he gets freaked out at Bob Ross’ smiling face on the tv. The look on his face when I address him as “eey bby”. Or even how he has to channel his stress by licking/eating the wall. We’re going to have to fix that by the way…..

I’m sorry that you always look so grumpy, and that you cry actual tears when you see me leave the house sometimes. But I know you’re dedicated when you sit at the fence and watch me leave for the day. Some days you have given me a fair share of headaches when you decide to stay up late in the evenings. Other times, you have made me smile through tears on particularly bad days when you lick my face and waggle your stumpy tail.

So yes, my problem child, today is both of our birthdays. Between the countless “Dobby-Do’s” and “Dobby-dont’s”, you have brought joy, frustration, laughter, and a patience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I wanted to get you a cupcake collar for your birthday because you’re sweet like one, and like a cupcake, even if it’s messy and gets everywhere, it was well worth the trouble. But instead I found you one with sprinkle donuts! So win-win I suppose. Happy birthday Dobby, my real-life spirit animal.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Guy Fieri?: A Trip to Flavortown

I don’t always watch the Food Network, but when I do, it’s on a Friday and it’s most likely going to be Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. I confess, I really haven’t understood society’s borderline obsession with the host Guy Fieri, but I am loving every minute of it.

Sure he drives a sweet car, and those frosted tips look legitimately good on the man, but I don’t think I could stand having him in my kitchen. I don’t think I would tolerate him sneaking bites of my ingredients. I’d have to tell him, “Guy! Don’t you be eating all my stuff! There won’t be enough for my recipe dammit!”

But in all seriousness I think quite highly of Mr. Fieri. He has a lot more personality than some of the other people on the network. You can tell he enjoys his job.

But recently I fell down the rabbit hole to Flavortown and haven’t come back just yet. It’s been too fascinating to even try to avoid. I have the Food Network app on my iPad and like to scroll through potential recipes that look good (most of them are complicated and include kale). I recently found out that you can search for recipes via your favorite chefs. Turns out Guy Fieri has 990 recipes. Oh. My. GOD!

So naturally I ended up putting on my scuba gear and deep diving into this mad world called Flavortown. Because I want to know why people are as crazy about him as they are. In the process I found a lot of tequila recipes, sliders, grilled beer chicken, and fries of various kinds. But by far his most popular recipes are those with clever names. I kid you not, there is “Just No Thang, Butta Chicken Wing”, and “Garden of Good and Evil Bulgogi”. Just look at how popular the “Need for Fried Cheese” holds up against the ones beside it. I believe the people have spoken:

By far though, my favorite part of this phenomenon are the jokes. Everything from memes to cards against humanity, Mr. Fieri is a part of pop culture. I mean, you can apparently buy hoodies with his face plastered all over them! Um. Yes please?

I feel like I should clarify something. Mr. Fieri, I hope you understand, but people are doing all these things because they love you. You bring a lot of joy to a lot of people. You’re not afraid to poke a little fun at yourself. As a result, you’ve become like a cult of personality to a lot of people. I hope you take all of this attention as a compliment, because people legitimately enjoy you. Now if you excuse me, I have a ticket to paradise and it’s name is Flavortown.