beer and cheddar soup & giveaway

:::contest closed:::

[beware bad/corny puns ahead!]

Happy Halloween. I have a huge treat for you.

But in the spirit of the Holiday you have to get through the scary stuff to get to the treat.

First, something a little spooky.

This is Nancy working on her Halloween makeup in the style of Dia De Los Muertos.

Garlic to keep away the vampires. Good thing too, this recipe had 3 heads of roasted garlic plus 8 cloves of sauteed garlic.

Beer and bread to fill your stomach and to keep you warm.


beer and cheddar soup: adapted from the kitchn
serves 8

printable recipe

1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 large yellow onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup (8 fluid ounces) of beer, the recipe calls for Stone Ruination IPA (I used Sierra Nevada Ovila Saison because I am a little obsessed with this beer and the story behind it)
1 cup whole milk
3 heads roasted garlic
1 tablespoon smoked paprika, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/4 pounds cheddar cheese, grated
chopped fresh chives, for garnish
water, for thinning if needed

Roast the garlic: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel outermost of the papery skin from the garlic head. Using a knife cut the top 1/4 to 1/2 inch off of the top of the garlic, making sure to expose the individual cloves of garlic. Lightly cover with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and bake until the garlic skin is light golden brown and cloves are tender when pressed, about 1 hour.

Melt 3/4 cup of the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, whisking to avoid lumps. Cook, stirring frequently, until the flour takes on a light blond color, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and minced garlic and cook just until the garlic is aromatic, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock, beer, and milk. When the liquid begins to simmer, stir in the garlic, paprika, and cumin. Using a handheld immersion blender or a blender, puree until smooth. Whisk in the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Add a handful of cheese at a time, whisking after each addition, until melted and smooth. If needed, thin soup with a little warm water for a thinner consistency.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with chives and paprika. Serve immediately.

Tasting Notes: This soup is decadent, warm and filling. A little goes a long way. Not an everyday soup. I would serve it with a salad with a really acidic dressing to cut through all the richness.

The Treat!!!!

Big Kitchen.com has partnered with evil chef mom for a devilishly great giveaway. Want to win a Delongi Immersion Blender? I have had this blender for a week now and I have used it for everything. I have chopped nuts, made soup, whipped cream, cookie crust, smoothies, and milk shakes. You can even chop onions in it. This is one of those gadgets you probably think you do not need until you actually have one, then you name it and think of it as one of your children and wonder what your life was before it came around.

The deets: This immersion blender has five speeds plus a turbo button for some extra oomph. An extra long shaft so it can be used in extra large pots. It has a beaker, chopper attachment, whisk attachment, and big foot. The blades are stanless steel and most of the parts are dishwasher safe. That means this is much easier than breaking out the blender for most things.

So how do I win it?

Leave a comment here. (you can leave as many as you want)

Visit Big Kitchen.com and take a look around, maybe make a Christmas wish list?!

Like Big Kitchen on Facebook.

Follow Big Kitchen on Twitter.

Winners will be announced Friday, November 4, 2011. Good Luck!


pasta carbonara with leeks and lemon

Nothing is certain but death and taxes...

I want to add a few stipulations to that:

1. Most people hate Mondays.
2. Most people think reading at the table during a meal is rude.


3. Parents have a litany of rules. Some great, some good, some not-so-good, and others are just arbitrary. They vary from home to home.

I also remember certain arbitrary rules I hated as a kid, making my bed for example. I thought it was stupid and vowed never to the same to my kids. So far I haven't. I make my bed but could care less about my kids. You want to sleep in a tangle of sheets and blankets? Great, fantastic, have at it. It's not for me but if you don't care, neither am I. Pick your battles is my motto.

Which brings me to #2. You can read at breakfast and lunch but dinner? No, there is no reading at the table unless I am feeling nice and I rarely feel nice. But every couple nights one of the kids would inevitably ask if they could read at the table. Really? You know the answer is (shaking the magic 8 ball) In all likelyhood, NO! Then I would get a lot of whys, how comes, and who made that rule? I honestly didn't have an answer that satisfied them or me for that matter. 'Because I said so' has never been a good reason to me. I feel like a bully when I play that card.

So we cut a deal. Every Monday night you can read at the dinner table but in exchange for that, no reading or asking to read at the dinner table for the rest of the week. It makes Mondays a little more pleasant (see #1) and has started a nice unexpected tradition. We sit at the table for a little longer and most often there is a conversation going on anyways.

This Monday night's dinner was pasta carbonara with leeks and lemon. What we were reading:

Krysta: Zone One by Colson Whitehead [so far not feeling it like the critics]
Drew: He didn't read anything this week
Will: The Bachman Books by Stephen King  [the original book containing Rage]
Nancy: It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini [loves it, can't wait to read it again. movie sucked.]

pasta carbonara with leeks and lemon: everyday food november 2011
serves 4
(printable recipe)

salt and pepper
12 slices of bacon, cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces
4 leeks (white and light green parts only) halved lengthwise, rinsed well, and thinly sliced
1 pound pasta
2 large eggs
1/2 ounce Parmesan, grated (1/4 cup) plus more for serving
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

Set a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from skillet. Add leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until leeks are golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add pasta to pot and cook according to directions. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice. Whisk 1/4 cup pasta water into egg mixture.

Drain pasta and immediately add to egg mixture, along with bacon, leeks, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Sprinkle with more cheese if desired and serve immediately.


apple crumb coffee cakes


Right now...

Time: 10:01 am

Weather: 64 degrees and sunny

On my desk: Paperwork for Andrew's IB exams, a toilet handle, and medical bills. Want to guess how much Rich's July stay in the hospital was? There is a prize to whomever guesses closest to the correct total. It was a five day stay with 3 day in ICU. GO!

In my belly: Irish Breakfast Tea and a slice of toast.

On my nightstand:  We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver and Damned by Chuck Palahniuk. Both disturbing for different reasons. Warning: Neither of these books should be read before bed.

In my Amazon Shopping Cart: The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga: A Practical Guide to Healing Body, Mind, and Spirit and Sweetness and Blood: How Surfing Spread from Hawaii and California to the Rest of the World, with Some Unexpected Results.

Feel free to read into what those four books say about me and my psyche.

Last movie watched: The Ides of March.

Dinner tonight: I don't know, any ideas?


apple crumb coffee cakes: food & wine november 2011
makes 12
(printable recipe)


1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

crumb cakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg, beaten
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely diced

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Make the streusel:

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the flour with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter pieces and mix at medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal; continue mixing the streusel until very small clumps form. Transfer the streusel to a large plate or bowl and refrigerate until it is well chilled, about 10 minutes.

Make the cakes:

Line 12 standard-size muffin cups with paper liners. Spray the liners with vegetable oil cooking spray (or just spray the muffin tin) In the mixer bowl, combine the flour with the granulated sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Add the butter pieces and beat at low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sour cream and beaten egg and beat until the batter is smooth. Add the diced apple and beat just until incorporated.

Fill the muffin cups about three quarters full with the crumb cake batter. Press the streusel into clumps and sprinkle on top. Bake the crumb cakes in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, until risen, golden and springy to the touch; rotate the pans halfway through baking. Let the crumb cakes cool slightly before serving.

Tasting Notes: This is my favorite kind of recipe. It is easy and you probably have most of the ingredients all ready in your refrigerator and pantry. Within an hour you could have these little lovelies in your hand. A Sunday snack because who turns down warm baked goods on a Sunday afternoon? Nobody, that's who! You know how sometimes coffee cake be dry and flavorless? Not these, soft and moist, full of flavor from the bits of apple, cinnamon, and sour cream. Plus, they are topped in streusel! I wish everything could be topped in streusel.


chicken enchiladas verde

A couple of weeks ago, it was Rich's birthday and according to family tradition you get to pick your birthday meal, heart attack or not. You are allowed a 24 hour reprieve from the evil regime.

Rich's pick was chicken enchiladas with flour tortillas. Ugh, I know, I know. That's all sorts of wrong but I have made them before and it's actually pretty good. I asked Rich to go to the store to buy tortillas since we were out of them.  He brought back butter flavored flour tortillas.Yes, they actually exist. Matter of fact, the first thing when you google butter flavored tortillas is this. I should have read the comments before I started cooking.

Anyways, my thinking was that the flour tortillas will absorb the sauce and you wouldn't taste the butter. Oh was I ever wrong, I should have figured that out when you could smell the strong aroma of butter coming out of the oven.

How bad could it be?

Well, we all gathered around the dinner table and the kids and I all took a bite. Then we looked at each other mid-chew and spit our enchiladas back on our plate and then looked at Rich. Of course he had taken a bite of his rice and beans first (he never eats the entree first, always the side dishes). So we waited quietly and just stared at him.

He asked, 'Why are all of you staring at me?'

"Oh just because honey. We wanted to see if you like the enchiladas.'

He took a bite, thoughtfully chewed it, barely swallowed it and then declared with all the passiveness of a great diplomat that dinner wasn't so bad. He then proceeded to eat a whole enchilada to prove he could. We all dumped our food in the trash without eating another bite. It wasn't until later he declared it was disgusting, like eating popcorn flavored enchiladas.

Popcorn. Flavored. Enchiladas.

And he ate it.

I should have trusted my instincts to run far, far away when I saw butter flavored tortillas.

I owed Rich are redemptive* birthday dinner.

Really, is there not a better definition than redemptive? (Redemptive /ri╦łdemptiv/ adj.: Acting to save someone from error or evil: "redemptive love".)

But then it gets even better. My sister was at my house when Rich brought home the evil tortillas and she heard my 'how bad could it be?' comment. I texted her to warn her how horrifying  it actually could be. The next morning when I log on to Facebook there is a message from my brother in law.

'Authentic as can be, Tortillas of the corn type. Hot oil. Enchilada sauce (red). Geso fresco (of your choice). Cilantro, diced white onion.Dip tortilla in warm sauce. Fry sauce laden Tortilla in oil until soft. Place on plate and sprinkle with queso fresco. Fold in half and repeat until desired quantity is achieved. Sprinkle cilantro and onions on top and enjoy authentic bliss!'

Oh fuck no, he did not just do that. He typed authentic bliss, matter of fact he used authentic twice. He wrote tortilla of the corn type. Like I don't know what kind of tortillas are actually in enchiladas. He just told me how to make enchiladas like a 2 year old who has never stepped foot into a kitchen. Pretentious much?  Now I love my brother in law, he is one of the few people in this whole wide world I would lay down in front of a train for (still would) but he did not just tell me how to make enchiladas. I admit I get rather grouchy after cooking a horrible meal especially when I know what mistakes I made. But I especially hate being corrected first thing in the morning when I already know the mistake I made. Make Krysta MAD. Smash computer screen. SMASH! Let's just say I have a lot of pride and leave it at that.  My curt reply was, 'I know.... but that's not what Rich wanted for his birthday dinner.' And I seethed for days.

This is how I normally make chicken enchiladas verde. Step by step. I don't have a recipe unless you count my helpful brother in law's.

Place corn tortillas on the counter to warm up to room temperature.

Boil a whole chicken in large pot with a couple cloves of  peeled garlic, a jalapeno, and a white onion cut into chunks.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove husks and wash a few pounds of tomatillos.

Half or quarter tomatillos, depending on size. Cut two white onions and a few jalapenos into chunks. Place everything into a large roasting pan. Sprinkle lightly with salt and  cook until they look like the picture below.

While the tomatillos are cooking. Place a few Anaheim peppers on a gas flame, rotating them until they are black and completely charred. (This picture was taken at the halfway point) When the peppers are completely charred, place them in a ziplock bag and seal the bag.

If you do not a gas stove, lightly cover the peppers in vegetable oil and place them under the broiler until charred.

Grate some Monterey Jack cheese or even better if you can find Queso Blanco, use that.

By this point the chicken should be cooked. Take it out of the pot and place it in a bowl. Once cooled, shred chicken. Making sure to separate the skin and bones from the meat. Place meat into a large bowl and half of the grated cheese. Set aside.

Remove peppers from the the bag. Remove all the blackened skin, cut in half and remove seeds. Then slice peppers into long strips then dice.

At this point, your tomatillo should be roasted.

Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Working in batches, scoop some of the tomatillo mixture into a blender and blend until smooth.

Remember to leave some space in your blender and leave the top off with a towel over the top, hot liquid expands and you don't want your blender to blow up.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pour the tomatillo mixture into the strainer, and using the back of a ladle push the liquid through the strainer. You will be left with some seeds and skin from the tomatillos.

Add water if you feel that the sauce is too thick.

Add a ladle full of sauce to the chicken and cheese mixture. Mix. Set aside.

(You can add more sauce, I prefer my enchiladas not swimming in sauce)

Line a large baking sheet with paper towels.

In a frying pan, heat vegetable oil until almost smoking.

Place a corn tortilla into the hot oil and cook for a few seconds. Until the tortilla is floppy and soft. Make sure they do not get crispy. Drain a lined baking sheet. Repeat.

Here's where my brother in law recommends 'Fry sauce laden Tortilla in oil until soft.' You can do this, if you want. I have done this. Yes, it's authentic but I don't think he has ever had to clean that mess up because I still remember the mess it made and I have fried a lot of shit in my lifetime and have made HUGE messes in the kitchen and frying tortillas dipped in sauce goes down as one of the worst EVER. Sauce was on the ceiling, it was on the furthest wall from the frying pan. I will not do that again in the name of authenticity.

Lightly coat a glass 9x13 glass baking dish with PAM cooking spray. Then ladle some sauce into the glass pan. Coat the tortilla in sauce, fill with chicken mixture (not too much, them roll.)

Dip, fill, roll until the pan is full.

Pour more sauce over the top and sprinkle cheese over the enchiladas. Bake in the oven until golden brown and the cheese is melted.

While the enchiladas are baking, finely dice some white onion. Chop some cilantro and tomatoes. Warm up some extra tomatillo sauce.

Spoon some sauce over the top. Sprinkle cheese, onion and cilantro over the finished dish. Serve warm.

(printable recipe)


cream cheese pound cake

This was the post where I was going to talk about the worst meal ever. I am going to have to give you a rain check on that. The last two days included a Hot Wheel being flushed down a toilet by a three year old, a guy calling me Rosie O'Donnell for a second time (he's homeless, obviously mentally ill but being called Rosie (TWICE) by a homeless mentally ill man? Well you start thinking you might need drastic plastic surgery.) and nursing a teenager who had her wisdom teeth pulled. What I really want to know is if PAM has a spray that repels trouble, insults, and sickness but can keep your self esteem sticking? If they sold that I would be a customer for LIFE.

This is my final post for PAM Cooking Spray. I have a one for next week that they didn't ask me to do but because I am feeling like an overachiver and it was meant to be this post but I didn't get pictures before everything was demolished.

Ok, I am rambling. So to get to the point, this pound cake is a tired and true favorite. I have made it 10 ways to Sunday and it always works. When I serve it, people ask for the recipe. It's dead simple but you will keep coming back to the kitchen because you just want one more tiny little sliver and before you know it, the pound cake is all gone. It's adaptable like any great pound cake, it's dense and moist with a great crumb. It holds up well by itself. It is killer with ice cream. Even better with strawberries and whipped cream or peaches and cream. If you wanted to stew some thickly sliced apples, heavily spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and serve it on top, well go for it, after all it's Autumn.

Because pound cake is so simple, it has to come out of the pan neatly. No one wants a messed up slice of pound cake. I speak from experience. This is hard won wisdom, folks. A long time ago I tried to serve a pound cake that didn't come out cleanly from the oven, even though it tasted great, nobody touched it. Lesson learned, grease your pan well because even a great recipe will turn out to be a disaster if the preparation is bad.

One final point, if you have been reading ECM for awhile, you know Rich had a heart attack this summer. If you read this recipe, your first thought will be that I am trying to kill him with all the cholesterol in this recipe. Nope, he is pretty good at staying away from this stuff by himself but he still wants baked goods once and awhile.An added bonus of PAM is that there are no calories, no transfat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, or sodium. Everything Rich has to stay away from. Even though most dishes contain fats and cholesterol, by using PAM in dishes this one way I can make sure we can control Rich's cholesterol intake.*

*Which totally sounded like a commerical or that they asked me to write this but funny thing is PAM never mentioned it and now that I am huge Nutrition Label reader, I noticed this myself. Crazy, how the world works.


cream cheese pound cake:
makes one bundt cake or 2 loaves
(printable recipe)

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 12- cup Bundt pan with PAM cooking spray. (or two 9 inch loaf pans) Combine all ingredients except flour and beat until smooth. Add cake flour 1/2 cup at a time. Stir together until smooth. Pour into pan. Bake for 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Normally I do a random number generator for my giveaways and I did four comments this way then I picked one on purpose, you'll see why. But I swear the comments random number generator was looking out for these commentors.

So let's do the random numbers first!

#38 Stacey Jones: I have to work this Thanksgiving. But we will be celebrating it either after I get off work or on the weekend. What I'm looking forward to is cooking with my husband and teaching my children to cook. Hopefully they will learn recipes to hand down to their kids. My husband and I will clean up probably after a nap together! Lol happy holidays! Stay safe!

Teaching her children how to cook and working Thanksgiving! The random number genorator was looking after her.

#9 mlmnttlkn: Have no idea what our holiday plans are yet, the worst part will probably be hubby going to bed super early to work black friday morning at walmart.

Dude, I have worked Black Friday at Target for years, I know the chaos that ensues. I cannot even imagine how Black Friday at Walmart would be.

#5 Kristin Caler: I LOVE all the fall flavors, the root veggies, the squashes, gourds, pumpkins, everything.

Same here. Fall is my favorite time of year.

Amanda Paroli on Facebook: Just in time for the holiday's. Perfect for making yummy food and spending time with family and friends. Nothing is better.

Amanda, put this toolkit to good use!


I picked this one... I had to after you read it you would have too. I might be called Evil Chef Mom but I am not called the Grinch.

#41 Ashlyne: Every month I send my Dad eight to twelve dozen cookies to share with the troops where he is deployed. This holiday season I look forward to sending more cookies and other types of baked goods to our troops over seas. I do not look forward to my first Christmas away from my dad. (P.S. I am 12 and my Mom said I can post on her account because I can’t have one, but I really want to win this). Ashlyne

Ashlyne: I hope this helps and most off all I hope your dad stays safe. There are no words that express how I am feeling right now knowing you have to spend your first Christmas away from your dad.  

If you won, please send your mailing information to krysta(at)evilchefmom.com


a PAM cooking spray toolkit giveway

:::contest closed:::

My mom mentioned Thanksgiving the other day. Already? Really? I can't even think a week in advance, let alone think about hosting and planning a menu for the holidays.

What does that have to do with a giveaway?

PAM cooking spray has generously sponsored a giveaway with Evil Chef Mom.

Check it out. If you win, you will receive a box that includes:

-PAM branded spatula
-PAM branded oven mitt
-Pyrex baking dish (13” x 9”)
-12-cup muffin tin
-One full can of the new and improved PAM
-PAM related recipes

Which should totally help with the fast approaching holidays and clean up. Which is the whole point of PAM, right? And if you tell me you couldn't use another Pyrex baking dish, a muffin tin, spatula, or oven mitt then I know you are one of those people who have already finished your Christmas shopping for this year. Sigh, that makes me depressed.



How to win?

First: You have to be a US resident.

Second: Leave a comment about what you are looking forward to the most about the holidays or what you are least looking forward to... (cough, cough... DISHES!)

That's it.

If you would like an extra entries: you can like PAM on Facebook and then leave a comment on ECM on Facebook.

I will announce winners on Friday with my last PAM experiment. Which includes the redemption from the worst meal I have ever made and coincidentally on a good day one of the worst meals to clean up.


pumpkin gingersnap ice cream

'Ewwwww. What is that smell?' Katie asked me when she opened up her dorm room closet.

'Everything is just a little musty. It happens with an old building that's been closed up all summer. Let's open a few windows and air it out. Everything should be fine.' I told her.

Now, I feel the need to point out that Mills is an OLD school. Not the kind of  'there's no school like the old school' with big fat gold chains and clam shell Adidas.

I mean like established in 1852 old school. There are bound to be funky musty smells. Think of those two men up there after not showering plus wearing some Icy Hot and not changing their underwear for a few days. Funky/musty smells are part of the charm. Just like old guys. I know, I married one.


Moving is always stressful. Then add moving into a strange smelling dorm room with your mom, your father, and step-mom... all who are trying to be polite to each other which results in no one speaking to anybody unless it's about the traffic or weather and after 45 seconds  those topics are exhausted. No one even makes eye contact with each other, there is a weird tense vibe in the air PLUS whatever that smell is. Trying to make sure everyone gets just enough attention so later on you don't have to hear about how rude it was to exclude so and so with the inside jokes. Just exactly who are the adults in the room? Plus that god awful smell. WHAT IS THAT SMELL?

This makes for a very high strung daughter. I mean Katie, it is fair to say is already high strung enough as it is but this? This just takes the proverbial cake.

I begin sniffing around her room while everyone is unpacking her stuff. There it was... in the corner, on the ceiling in her closet. Water damage but not just a water mark that comes from living in an old building but a paint bubbling saggy ceiling problem.

'Ummmm, Katie? You are going to need to report this.' Pointing up to closet ceiling. 'Also, this is why your room stinks. Move your clothes someplace else in case the ceiling decides to fall in.'

Cue the squawking baby pterodactyl.


The next day the building maintenance crew comes in to take a look.

Building Dude #1 confers with other Building Dude. We will call him Charlie. Charlie and Building Guy #1 start talking. There is some silence of silence, then some muttering... and some hmmmmm's. I imagine some rubbing of chins in deep thought and scratching of heads in puzzlement going on with Building Dude #1 and Charlie.

'We need to go see what's on the second floor to see what could be causing this damage.' BD#1 and Charlie tell Katie. After awhile BD# 1 and Charlie come back. More hmmm's and muttering go on. They then turn to her and say, 'There's a problem. Last year we had a raccoon infestation and it looks like they used the crawlspace above your closet as a litter box. Someone will be by to fix it tomorrow.'

When Katie calls to tell me this, I ask, 'Repair how? Because you understand this isn't a scrape the bad paint and repaint? This is replace the drywall, re-plaster the ceiling type job. And if it's really bad.... hazmat, replacing the whole ceiling and insulation if it's in there, maybe replacing the wood beams if the urine has soaked through and hasn't dried. Also mold and because it's an old building there might be asbestos AND you know there has to be lead paint. Which means don't eat the paint chips that fall on the floor.Watch, they are going to repaint the ceiling to get you off their backs trying to do the cheapest thing possible because this is just a Pandora's box waiting to happen and all it's going to do is result in you having a urine paint smell in your room. Be prepared to move... eventually.'

Do I need to tell you what Building Dude #1 and Charlie did? There wasn't enough foreshadowing in that last paragraph for you?

Yup, they went the cheap route. Which resulted in a urine/funky/musty/paint smelling mess.


A month later. Katie gets moved out of her dorm room because THE RACCOONS ARE BACK and using the same spot above her closet as a litter box. It's like how salmon always go back year after year to the same spot to spawn. Apparently, raccoons go back to the same spot to take a dump.

This being the Bay Area and a very politically correct school, the raccoons will be humanly caught and released somewhere else. So before making the repairs, the raccoons have to be caught. Bully for the raccoons!

Which would be great and all... if some student stopped releasing the raccoons from the traps before the professionals get to them. 

Oh yes, you read that right... at night some student is going out and releasing the raccoons from the traps.  Katie is starting to feel a little like this...

To be continued.

[Katie, this ice cream is waiting for you when you get home!]

pumpkin gingersnap ice cream: sunset magazine october 2011
printable recipe

1 pt. whipping cream
1/2 cup milk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coarsely crushed gingersnaps
2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)*

Whisk all ingredients except gingersnaps and bourbon in a bowl to blend. Strain into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions. Scrape ice cream into a bowl and stir in gingersnaps and bourbon. Freeze, covered, until scoopable, 2 1/2 hours and up to 1 week (gingersnaps soften somewhat after 1 day).

*Because this ice cream doesn't contain eggs, I highly recommend adding the bourbon to keep this ice cream from freezing into a massive brick. See this comment thread explaining why.  Also, since you are adding the bourbon at the end of this recipe make sure to use something that isn't rotgut because you will taste it. Makers Mark is nice.


apple upside down cake with caramel sauce


Seriously I had to call dibs on this recipe. I showed this to a bunch of food bloggers and while they were ooohing and ahhing, I was like, 'Oh crap! Who is going to beat me to making and posting this cake?' So I called dibs after asking if it was rude to call it. Have you seen this cake? It's like a caramel apple in cake form. I am all over that in a heartbeat. Anyways... I had plans for this cake.

What plans?

Well, I am doing a couple posts for PAM cooking spray and an awesome giveaway next week. They sent me an email asking if I might be interested in partnering with them to try out their new and improved formula to see if makes cooking and clean up a bit easier. I must have been feeling feisty because I was yelling at the email, 'BRING IT ON! I have a couple recipes that will make it weep.I have recipes that dishes, pots, and pans need to soak for days afterwards. I will show it no mercy!'

So first up, an upside down apple cake baked in a caramel sauce. Have you ever tried to clean up caramel after it's cooled? No bueno. It is not at all fun.

When a recipe calls for you to line it with parchment paper AND grease the parchment, you know you are in trouuuuuuble.

I totally bet you read that last sentence like you were 8 years old.

upside apple cake with caramel sauce: adapted from king arthur flour
(printable recipe)


2 medium apples
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons boiled cider or thawed apple juice concentrate
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup Lyle's golden syrup or light corn syrup


3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons boiled cider or thawed apple juice concentrate
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large apple, peeled and finely chopped
3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans, optional

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" round cake pan at least 2" deep with PAM Cooking Spray Line the bottom with parchment, and spray the parchment.

Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast them just until they become aromatic, about 5 minutes.

Prep the apples; Peel, core, and slice apple apples into 1/4" thick wedges. Place the apples into the prepared pan in overlapping concentric circles.

Prepare the topping: Heat the butter, sugar, boiled cider, cinnamon, and corn syrup together over low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Pour 1/2 cup of the syrup mixture into the prepared pan, and set the rest aside.

To make the cake: Beat the oil, brown sugar, boiled cider, eggs, spices, and salt together for 2 minutes at medium speed. Mix the flour with the baking soda, and stir it into the batter. Add the chopped apple and nuts, and mix until just blended. Drop scoops of the batter atop the apples in the pan, gently spreading to cover. Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven, and run a thin spatula around the edge to loosen. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a serving plate, bottom side up. Scrape out any sauce that remains in the pan, and spread it over the cake.

Reheat the reserved topping. If butter starts to separate as you reheat, add water by the teaspoon and stir until the butter rejoins the rest of the sauce.

Pour the sauce over the cake. Serve cake warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream if desired.


A couple notes: If you can find apple cider, make boiled cider. It's lovely and adds lots of depth to this cake. My friend Rebecca says, 'It’s like everything wonderful about fall condensed into one syrup.'  Also, most people freak out when reading the words corn syrup. Mind you corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are two different things but if you still don't feel comfortable using corn syrup in recipes, Lyle's Golden Syrup is a wonderful substitution.

That was the pan afterwards. The caramel and apples came away cleanly from the pan as I flipped the cake onto the cake stand and it took all of a minute to clean the pan with hot water and some soap. I am 0 for 1.

(This is a sponsored post. I received compensation, a toolkit, and PAM promotional items from ConAgra Foods. My opinions are my own and was in no way told what to write. This is my FTC disclosure)