Category Archives: Dessert

Quick and Easy Dr. Seuss Cupcake Toppers

Across the country, thousands of schools, libraries, and community centers participate in fostering a love of reading by celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss.  My son’s school is celebrating all week long with fun activities and asked parents to get involved.  Being a fan of reading and especially Dr. Seuss, we decided to go with it.

Dr. Seuss Cupcakes Kate from Scratch-3

I first went to my most trusted of personal assistants, who also calls herself Google.  She’s fabulously helpful most of the time.  However, what I found there needed specialty store items and eBay purchases.

No thanks!

While fondant and edible printer ink is surely terrific, I wanted to create a simple variation.  One that anyone can manage with a quick run to the grocery store and twenty minutes.  Of course if you want to make the cupcakes with your best “from scratch” recipe and whip up three different colored frostings, you are more than welcome to do that.  But, I’m well aware that not everyone sees that as a rational investment of time.

Dr. Seuss Cupcakes Kate from Scratch-5

If you want to get the cupcakes from the bakery or use a boxed mix and some funfetti frosting  this recipe still works, though using the term “recipe” is a bit of an over statement.  It’s more like instructions for assembly.

And, so this is what we concocted with a little inspiration from pinterest and my husband’s genius idea in the candy aisle.



Fast and Easy Dr. Seuss Cupcake Toppers

Makes 24

  • 1 bag of marshmallows (not mini)
  • coconut oil (optional, for handling marshmallows)
  • 3 bags Life Savers Berry Bites Gummies
  • 24 cocktail straws or lollipop sticks (toothpicks will work too)
  • 24 cupcakes, prepared and frosted

Note: The gummies are three different colors/flavors, one of which is somewhat orange in color so I only used the two red of the three flavors.
1. Cut the ends off the marshmallows and reshape back to a circle (doesn’t have to be perfect and if you find your marshmallows to be too sticky, you may use coconut oil to reduce stickiness).
2. Stack three red gummies white side up and skewer with either a lollipop stick or cocktail straw (toothpick will work too, just warn the teacher about pointy edges).
3.  Slide the stack to the end of the skewer and then slide the cut marshmallow end to the stack.  Note, the marshmallow should be touching the red side of the gummy.
4.  Cut skewer to the height of the prepared cupcake.
5. Gently slide each skewer into the center of each cupcake.

Posted in Dessert, For Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Salted Chocolate Tart with Peanut Butter Pretzel Crust

chocolate tart Kate from scratch-6

If you haven’t discovered the phenomenon of salted chocolate on your own, allow me to guide you for a moment through the logic behind it.

Do you love peanut butter with chocolate?  Do you love pretzels with chocolate?  Do you love salted caramel smothered in chocolate?

Of course you do!

chocolate tart Kate from scratch-2

Any rational person on this Earth with taste buds finds these combinations exquisite.  It’s the salt within those pairings that enhances every nuance of flavor within the chocolate. It creates a dynamic deliciousness between sweet and salty allowing for balance and fullness of flavor.  chocolate tart Kate from scratch-3

Do you remember that food fad a few years back that paired bacon with chocolate?  It was completely wild but it worked (for the most-part) because bacon is salty – and people just love anything with  bacon in it, but I digress.

chocolate tart Kate from scratch-5

Trust me on this one: chocolate plus salt equals amazing.  It’s now a given, so use it to your advantage as I have with this tart.

chocolate tart Kate from scratch-8It’s topped with dark chocolate ganache and has a crispy salty peanut butter pretzel crust that screams luscious and lovely decadence.  Make it for someone you love this weekend and have a happy Valentine’s Day!


Salted Chocolate Tart with Peanut Butter Pretzel Crust

For the Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups salted cocktail peanuts
  • 2 cups mini pretzels
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Filling

  • 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Ganache Topping

  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4  cup heavy cream



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor pulse all ingredients together until a fine crumbly mixture is formed.
  3. Press crust into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch heart-shaped aluminum pan or a nine inch round springform pan, reserving 3/4 cup of crust mixture for garnish/topping.
  4. Bake for six to eight minutes.
  5. Remove from oven.

Chocolate Filling:

  1. In a medium pot over medium low heat warm the cream and chocolate until the chocolate starts to melt. Mix these 2 ingredients together until completely smooth.
  2. Remove cream-chocolate mixture from heat and allow to cool for one minute.
  3. Briskly whisk in egg and extra egg yolk, continue to whisk for an additional thirty to forty seconds after egg is added to help mixture temper.
  4. Add vanilla and salt and continue to whisk until shiny and smooth.
  5. Pour the chocolate filling mixture into the cooled tart shell and place it back into the oven and bake for twenty minutes or until puffed and fragrant.
  6. Remove it from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.

Ganache Topping:

  1. Heat the cream in a small saucepan and add the chocolate. Whisk together over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and all the chocolate has melted.
  2. Pour this mixture over the middle of the chocolate tart and use an offset spatula to spread it around evenly.
  3. Let the entire tart chill overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Top with reserved peanut butter pretzel crumbs.


Posted in Dessert, Entertaining, For Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Best Hot Chocolate Recipe Of All Time

 Do you remember how as a kid everything looked better in cartoons?  Strawberry-Shortcake-land food looked way better than the food in real life.  That’s just a fact.

This made the reality of actual strawberry shortcake highly disappointing at times, particularly when the products used in recipes didn’t hold much merit.


The ninja turtles had far better pizza than anyone else in the world and I found it quite unfair.  I didn’t live too far from the sewers of New York City.  Why couldn’t I just go there and get some?  I was about seven then, so you’ll have to forgive my illogical logic, naturally.  While we’re on the subject of cartoons, have you seen those cabbage patch doll hats?  They are weirdly adorable.

But, getting back to my point, this hot chocolate is absolutely perfect.  It’s the best recipe one will ever find.  Not just a delicious treat, in my opinion but the apex of all other hot chocolate in existence and therefore completely rivals all cartoon hot chocolate.  That’s a huge deal and obviously a much bigger deal than rivaling any real hot chocolate you’ve ever come in contact with.

I have made it dozens of times, if not more, in all variations.  You can add a dash of cinnamon or a dash of cayenne or make a peppermint mocha as I so often do around Christmas time (directions below).

It’s rich, creamy, classic, pure chocolate flavor is like drinking a cup of pure comfort.  It’s warm and aromatic and soothing and might be, quite possibly, my most favorite thing in the world.

The Best Hot Chocolate Recipe Of All Time

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup +2 tablespoons white sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 3  3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Whisk together the cocoa powder, sugar and salt.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine mix with water and bring to a light simmer.  Add remaining ingredients.  Stir every minute until very hot.  Note: Do not boil once milk and cream are added.
  2. Serve with whipped cream or marshmallows if desired.
  3. Variation: For a peppermint mocha, use coffee instead of the hot water and add a peppermint candy cane to the steaming cup once finished.  Stir the candy cane so it melts into the mocha.
This post was written and photographed by Kate Moran, owner and editor of Kate from Scratch. 
The recipe was adapted from one original sent to us from a reader. 
Please keep the recipes and post ideas coming.
Posted in Dessert, Entertaining, For Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Death By Chocolate Cupcakes

Happy 2014 everyone!  This year, we’ve decided to hold back on the pretenses and celebrate the new year the proper way.

With death by chocolate cupcakes, obviously.


I found and adapted this recipe from another blog and it’s really quite delicious as is.  Now I know I should depend on blogs more often for my baking recipes.   The cake was moist, the filling decadent and never lacking in chocolate flavor.

Overall, it’s a win and I highly recommend it.

The only thing I altered was filling the cupcakes with most of the frosting and leaving only a small amount on top of each cake.  I find this method to give the perfect cake to frosting ratio with each bite.  I also just upped the vanilla a little bit and used dark brown sugar instead of light, but that’s just for a little more oomph in the flavor department.

I bet a dash of espresso powder would be delicious as well, but I wouldn’t recommend that for the kids.  They get crazy enough with just the sugar, no need to add coffee to that equation.  Yikes.


Death By Chocolate Cupcakes

Recipe Adapted from Blog: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1/2 cup (64g) unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour (you may use cake flour for a more soft and tender crumb)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk

Dark Chocolate Frosting

  • 2 and 3/4 cup (330g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup (80g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 Tablespoons (90g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons (95ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt (to balance sweetness of frosting)
  • 1/3 cup (60g) semi-sweet chocolate chips for decoration, optional


chocolate cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 12 cup cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners (Tip: double up the liners to prevent fading of pattern on liners).
  2. Place chocolate and butter into a glass bowl and microwave on high in thirty-second intervals, stirring thoroughly after each.  Note: If you prefer to do this in a double boiler –the old-fashioned way–, you may.  Remove from heat once thoroughly melted and set aside to cool slightly until further notice.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl whisk together dry ingredients:  Cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set that aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  5. Add cooled butter/chocolate and whisk until smooth.
  6. Add half of the flour mixture, then half of the buttermilk. Repeat until everything is added. Stir until barely combined you do not want to over mix as this will cause a tough cupcake (and while that sounds adorable, it is not).
  7. The batter will be very thick like pudding.
  8. Divide the batter between 12 liners in your cupcake pan.  Bake for 18 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when gently pressed with the back end of a wooden spoon.  Note: I prefer this “press test” to the toothpick test to prevent over-baking, but the toothpick test works if you prefer it.
  9. Allow to cool completely before frosting.  Be patient.  It’s worth it. Promise.

Chocolate Frosting:

  1. Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder to assure there are no lumps. Set aside.
  2. With a handheld of stand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until fluffy  which should take about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the sifted sugar and cocoa powder alternately with the heavy cream and vanilla in small batches. Beat on low speed after each batch of sugar added to prevent sugar from flying everywhere.
  4. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too dark (or) add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet for your liking; as I did.

Note:  Using a frosting filled pastry bag (or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped), fill the insides of the cupcakes by inserting the tip of the pastry bag half way into cupcake.  Fill until the cake plumps up, which should be about 2 tablespoons of frosting inside.  Then swirl the top of each cake with an additional two tablespoons of frosting as well.  This gives the perfect cake to frosting ratio in every bite.

Posted in Dessert, Entertaining, For Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Cranberry Zinger Whoopie Pies

It is officially the holiday season which could be surmised solely based on the amount of butter I use on a weekly basis.  It’s kind of ridiculous but, also, kind of awesome.  Whoopie pies are a necessity of holiday indulgence, naturally, and if you don’t agree, then you’ve never had one. whoopie-pie-kate-from-scratch-christmas-holiday-baking-3

They are mini cakes filled with delicious possibilities.  I chose a coconut marshmallow filling and a sweet-tart combination of cranberry speckled orange vanilla scented cakes.  They are reminiscent of the packaged zingers you may have grown up eating from time to time; but oh so much more once hand-made and whoopie-pie-ified.

They are soft and chewy and gooey and sweet with bites of tartness that lace the sweetness with a wake of flavor.  When you bite into them the marshmallow stretches and gives a pop of island essence that says, ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ and that makes me want to go listen to Christmas music and watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (probably the greatest Christmas movie ever).   In fact, I think we’ll go do that right after we do the dishes.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Cranberry Zinger Whoopie Pies

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 simple vanilla cake batter recipe, prepared (boxed or homemade, makes no difference to me)
  • natural food coloring (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter plus more for baking sheet if not using parchment or baking spray
  • 1 bag toasted coconut flavored marshmallows (may substitute regular marshmallows + 1 tsp. coconut extract or a splash of coconut flavored rum)

In a small pot over medium high heat, add cranberries, sugar, water and orange zest.  Simmer until cranberries burst and syrup coats the back of a spoon.   Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly. Fold cranberry mixtured into prepared cake batter recipe and add natural red food dye, if desired.  Chill whoopie pie batter in freezer for fifteen minutes and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking pan with parchment or generally grease with butter or baking spray. Pipe or spoon 36 small circles of batter onto prepared pans, keeping a relatively uniform size and leaving one inch between each circle, to allow for spreading. Bake in preheated oven until cakes spring back when pressed, or about 9-10 minutes.  Note: Allow cakes to cool completely before filling.  In a large glass bowl, add marshmallows and butter.  Microwave on high in thirty seconds intervals, stirring between each until marshmallows are fully melted.  Note: You may melt over double boiler if preferred. Spoon filling onto half of the flat sides of the mini cakes and stack each with the other mini cakes.  Feel free to decorate as you choose and enjoy!

Posted in All, Dessert, Entertaining | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Best Brownies Ever


Max disappeared into his room for a few minutes and then this happened. Never mind that mess in the background. One more week and they’re in school, this place will be tolerably clean again, but I digress.

kate-from-scratch Then he decided that it was time to “conquer a brownie battle” .  I obliged considering I was dubbed his “sidekick dragon-lady” and I take my character very seriously and also …I like brownies.  It makes sense.

I make cookies and brownies materialize so ubiquitously that I often forget to include them in my recipe arsenal.  I surmise that everyone already knows their favorite brownie recipe, so there’s no sense in inundating you, my clever and knowledgable readers, with unnecessary and trivial things such as brownies.


But, wait just a minute.  Maybe this assumption I’ve made on your behalf is all kinds of wrong.

Maybe you don’t have a favorite brownie recipe yet.  I didn’t have a favorite brownie recipe until last year!  In fact, I wasted a lot of time and energy on years of crappy disappointing brownie recipes, one just as disastrous as the next.

So, maybe you’re just like me three years ago; kitchen surfaces showing their brownie battle wounds and you, randomly being splattered in chocolate and the only thing to show for it is overly fluffy, grossly gooey or the worst –”I can’t believe I wasted that much good (expletive) chocolate on a wrongly written baking time” brownies.  It’s a thing, yes, wrong baking times are out there and some are even in print.  You’ve been warned.

Maybe you always turn back to box mixes because it’s just easier than the obnoxious recipe that calls for things you never have on hand.  Things like time, patience, Himalayan salt and fifty zillion egg yolks.  The entire point of brownies is that they’re uncomplicated and cut straight to the point with little fuss.  You can slather them in chocolate frosting, drop handfuls of peanut butter chips into the batter before baking, you can add that bowl of candy to the batter that’s sitting around after Halloween or (if you’re fancy) swirl in some goat cheese lightly doused with cinnamon and sugar if that’s your thing.  I kept it simple and added one single Hershey kiss to the center of each brownie this time.


Best Brownies Ever

Hardly Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  •  3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt (about 2 grams)
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Optional: 9 Hershey’s Kisses, or 3/4 cup of your favorite add-in (chocolate, butterscotch or peanut butter chips, nuts, chopped candy, cream cheese swirl, etc)
  • Optional: confectioner’s sugar or a drizzle or light coating of frosting


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter an 8×8 inch square glass or metal brownie pan.  Note: As always, if using metal, baking time will be less than when using glass so please be aware of this.
  2. Place strip of fitted parchment inside of greased pan and rub butter over parchment.
  3. Melt chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl over a pot filled with two inches of simmering water until only a lump or two remain. Remove bowl from heat and stir until thoroughly melted.
  4. While whisking constantly, add sugar, eggs. vanilla and salt.
  5. Continue to beat until smooth and velvety.
  6. Fold in flour until combined.
  7. Pour batter into prepared baking dish
  8. Place one unwrapped Hershey kiss into the center of each brownie portion (3×3 grid)
  9. Bake in preheated oven for twenty-six to twenty-nine minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out fairly clean.
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack until warm.  Grab parchment at sides and lift out of brownie pan.
  11. Served most deliciously while warm with ice cream.
Posted in Basics, Dessert, Entertaining, For Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

The Sweetest Place On Earth

I mentioned that we were going to bring our sons on what we call, a “mystery trip” for Trey’s seventh birthday.  And well, let’s just say… it’s going to require some very slick and clever planning on my part to top this year’s birthday shenanigans in honor of next year’s celebrations (We’ll worry about that next year, though).  For now, let’s just revel in this evidently thrilling, deliciously raucous and totally awesome birthday.

So, “why Hershey Park” you ask?  Well, first,there’s this…


That’s right!  They fit a six piece brass band including a sousaphone into a golf cart.  Awesome?  Uhh…yeah it is!  Wielding big smiles and a flair for jazz, they played for me and my boys as we walked to our car.



But, also his birthday is at the end of summer; which, let’s face it, totally blows for scheduling a big birthday event.  Everyone is either away or out of touch on weekends or they’re always around and you see them all the time and you’re kind of just sick of them already (no, not you, don’t worry).   But, yeah, you get the idea.  Second of all, ever since Trey was two, he requests one thing… and  that thing is CHOCOLATE.  Sure, his birthday request is usually in cake form but honestly, they’re just vessels for KitKats and Hershey bars among other treats.

I’m onto him and I dig it.

So, I figured… let’s just cut to the chase and do it right.


I also happen to know for a fact that he got my genes in the department of loving all things fast, crazy, and fun.  So, the only thing he might love more than chocolate…


…is roller coasters.




The park did not disappoint and Trey even went on his first “completely upside down and backwards” roller coaster which immediately got Max on the competitive fast track of fun too.


Yep, Max who stands at three years and barely three feet tall (yikes), managed to finagle his adorable self onto his first -ever- roller coaster and absolutely raved about it!  Sure, there are still plenty of rides we couldn’t go on with both of them yet, but that didn’t mean anyone was sidelined, fortunately.


And even he were sidelined, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind since he decided that the only thing more awesome than rides and roller coasters, is drums!


He was right!   That part was very cool, too.


After hours of fun and chocolate and cake, we were all utterly exhausted.  We didn’t get to go onto any of the water rides yet as this was our first time there, but maybe we’ll be able to stay a few days next time and get everything in.  Overall it was probably the best birthday any of us have ever had, which is saying a lot considering we have had about seventy seven birthdays between the four of us.  And, now I have massive amounts of chocolate to bake with, so you too can enjoy some very sweet creations…coming soon.


Posted in All, Dessert, Entertaining, For Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Peanut Butter and Jelly Kettle Corn

We’re already getting ready for that one and only time of year that freshly sharpened pencils and the sound of cutting construction paper make me smile joyfully.  Yes, “Back to school” is mingling around us and I am keeping up the pretenses of summer mode for Trey’s sake until next week.  You see, we don’t dare talk to Trey about such things until his birthday has passed and this year we’ve decided to do a something a bit different; a bit surprising and a bit special for his birthday in place of renting out a party room for him and twenty other sugar fueled kids at our local fun-kid-crazy-center.
However, if I told you, the surprise would be ruined and what fun would that be?  So, you’ll just have to wait for the big reveal this weekend, as will he.  However, somehow these two ideas (both the surprise and “back to school”) have coupled in my mind and presented itself as this beautiful sweet-salty-peanut-buttery creation.  And, while this creation isn’t exactly a  hint, it will have to do for now.
 It’s fun, sweet, delicious with a touch of rich peanut butter, sea salt, and yogurt covered raising…and it’s reminiscent of what I ate for lunch at school almost every single day for approximately five years when I was his age.  And, while peanut butter may mean banishment to the “peanut tables” at his school in this day in age, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it here as a pre-birthday, pre-back-to-school treat.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Kettle Corn

Amusement Park Style Kettle Corn with Roasted Peanuts and Yogurt Covered Raisins

  • 2-3 tablespoons peanut, coconut or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup yogurt covered raising
  • 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped or whole
  • sea salt to taste, optional

In a large, heavy bottomed pot with tight fitting lid over medium-high heat, add oil.  Lightly whisk together the corn kernels with one tablespoon white sugar and all of the brown sugar.  Once oil is rippling and sizzling, add sugar-kernel mixture to the popcorn pot. Cover the pot with a lid, and move the pot fairly briskly in a circular motion on the stove.  Allow the corn to pop, moving the pot constantly, until the rate has slowed down to one pop every two or three seconds. Remove the pot from the stove, and shake the pot until the popping stops. Pour into a parchment lined sheet pan, and allow to cool to room temperature.   Meanwhile, heat peanut butter with one and a half teaspoons of white sugar and the yogurt covered raisins in a small nonstick pot over medium low heat; stirring gently as needed, until the mixture melted (the yogurt will melt off the raisins as well) and smooth. Cool until it coats the back of a spoon nicely.   Pour peanut butter mixture over cooled popcorn in a drizzly fashion.  Immediately sprinkle drizzled popcorn with roasted peanuts and allow to cool.  Season with salt to taste, if needed.  Break apart the large clumps of popcorn by hand.  Devour blissfully.

Posted in Dessert, Entertaining, For Kids, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Dear Foodgawker: A Rant and Some Easy Rice Pudding.

Note: It’s raining and cold here this Memorial Day weekend but I hear it should be nice by Monday (woohoo!).  Save the grilling for then and try this simple and easy recipe for rice pudding tonight.  It’s the only one I’ve ever used because there’s no sense in messing with perfection, obviously.

The following is just a little rant about some food blogger type things that I know a lot of people can identify with.  Enjoy.


Dear Foodgawker:

I had a streak of luck awhile back with a slew of acceptances which renewed my self efficacy in terms of blogging and food photography.  I can only surmise that somebody outside of the norm was behind the approval process during that time.  Whomever that person was, actually enjoyed my submissions and they were accepted!  The photos were the same quality they always are (ranging from not bad to pretty decent), and there was definitely nothing special about them.  Then it was over.  Not a single photo has been accepted for a fairly tragic amount of time, and so I am relenting to your food photo snobbery.  As annoying as it might be, you have every right to be kind of a jerk an elitist.  That’s your thing.  It’s cool. You’re Ludo, I’m Nigella. It’s all good.  You like to set the bar so high that not even you can reach it (I’d be interested to see that, honestly).  You like to set standards that only superhuman professionals buy at the store and snap a photo of can dream of.  Neat.  It’s cool but it’s not for me.  I have no clue what you’re looking for and so there’s no sense in continuing.  Trying to figure it out is abysmally pointless, at least for a little while.

Why not?

Well the deal breaker is in the rejection letters.  First of all, I can’t opt out of them. “Don’t call us we’ll call you” would make me despise the process less.  I’d notice a steady flow of traffic from your site if ever my photo was accepted and it would be a pleasant surprise which is better than the bitter cold rejection you always offer.  Second, the emails are automated and have a tone that sounds polite at first, but then just seems robotic and condescending; especially after the sixty third arrives.

“Thanks so much for submitting..Unfortunately…reason: ____ please continue to submit”

I find them completely irritating and unhelpful, honestly (“food/photo styling” is not a helpful directive for future reference, if you care) and generally, these emails are just a huge bummer to the end of a seemingly great day.  The worst is when I bravely submit a whole bunch at once, thinking, “if I get just one accepted, it will vanquish the agony of all the other rejection”.   Wrong! Instead, I get a barrage of  rejection letters and corresponding feelings of inadequacy sent directly to my inbox all at once from some automated terribleness that I like to call  …well, I’ll spare you the profanity, but it sounds like foodgawker and has an extra F.

It’s my way of saying, “that was not nice”.

What happened to the good old days when we as lowly bloggers could submit some terrible casserole (with flash!) and get over 2k hits flooding in from your site within a few short hours?  I’ve heard the tales from those that have been around long before me.  I can scroll back and see it for myself.  Really terrible photos used to pass as “amazing” and even be featured! Was that before you became the cool kid on the block?  Now you’re only “secret friends” with the amateurs?  Well, either way, those days are long gone and I’m finding the process to be not quite worth it, anymore.  Who knows, though, maybe I’ll change my mind and try again (this has happened several times over the years).  And then I will briskly be reminded, via robotic email, to just stop bothering with it. It’s one site that I can’t peg down out of about fifty that either are just as popular, or will be within 2013. Perhaps it’s time to just let it go.

There are at least five other sites that feature my posts (and photos) regularly and you,  dear foodgawker, are just a spiral of self doubt and quite frankly, suckiness (yes, I said suckiness).  It’s not a fun relationship so I’m taking a break.

Yes.  Again.

(Shut up)

Whenever I remember to post on pinterest, bloghertastespottingdailybuzz, babble and the others, my photos are accepted, shared and even occasionally featured!  So, it’s hard not to take it personally.  I know it’s not personal because it’s a cold heartless robot I’m dealing with, but it’s no fun, regardless.  What could I possibly be doing so wrong?  Bah…I suppose that’s the ever alluring mystery, though, isn’t it?  More rejected means more elite and elite = “youfancy” success.

Anyway, I’m having a great week despite your annoying rejection letters being the worst thing ever : Traffic is up and people are sharing.  Tastespotting appears to like me just fine and accepts my photos regularly (I won’t forget to submit anymore). Also, today is national wine and tap dancing day.  That’s fun.  So, yeah…to put it nicely – I’m breaking up with you.




Rice Pudding

  • 5 cups organic whole milk
  • 7 ounces short grain rice
  • 2-3 tablespoons vanilla sugar (to taste)
  • garnish: cinnamon and brown sugar (optional)

Place the milk, rice and vanilla sugar in a deep saucepan. Bring to a medium simmer and put on the lid. Cook for half an hour, stirring occasionally, until the rice pudding is thickened. If you accidentally cook it for too long or (for whatever reason) becomes too thick, you can thin it down by adding a little more milk.  Place in dessert bowls and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, if desired.

Adapted from : Jamie Oliver’s Recipe


Posted in All, Dessert, For Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Cocoa Dinosaur Dunkers


“Mommy, can we please make dinosaur cookies now and not tomorrow?” he asked with a big grin.

Looking at the grey sky and realizing I was out of distractions, I obliged.


This is Max; our little ball of perpetual exuberance and wonder who turned three a few weeks ago and loves dinosaurs almost as much as he loves chocolate cookies.  He helped mix the dough, roll it out as well as shape the dinosaurs.  But the most fun part was “excavating” the dinosaurs from the powdered sugar; a wildly jovial experience for anyone, obviously.  dinosaur-breakfast-dunker-cookies


I dunked them into my coffee this morning, and with irresponsible genius it passed as my breakfast.  They are delicious.  A light cocoa taste, not too sweet and not too heavy.  They’re soft and almost biscuit like as they soak up your extra hot morning coffee or tea; resembling a cocoa version of a Stella D’oro breakfast treat.


Cocoa Dinosaur Dunkers

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + more for rolling dough
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven at 350°F. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix with an electric mixer on medium-high speed butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon.
  3. Add flour mixture in three additions; mixing after each for about ten seconds, or until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill an hour or more.
  4. Roll out cookie dough on floured counter. Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top, if desired. Bake on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the time will vary depending on the thickness of your preferred cookie – I like thicker cookies).
  5. The cookies will puff slightly when they’re done baking.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar or decorate as desired.
Cocoa Dinosaur Dunkers
Recipe Type: Dessert, sweet, cookie
Cuisine: dessert, sweet, cookies,
  • Cocoa Dinosaur Dunkers
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour + more for rolling dough
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven at 350°F. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix with an electric mixer on medium-high speed butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cocoa and cinnamon.
  3. Add flour mixture in three additions; mixing after each for about ten seconds, or until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill an hour or more.
  4. Roll out cookie dough on floured counter. Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top, if desired. Bake on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the time will vary depending on the thickness of your preferred cookie – I like thicker cookies).
  5. The cookies will puff slightly when they’re done baking.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioner’s sugar or decorate as desired.


Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen





Posted in Basics, Breakfast, Dessert, Entertaining, For Kids, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments