May 2011

Now that we can set aside worries about the world ending and meeting our maker, why not meet your Maker’s Mark and see what fun making boozy bourbon blondies can be? I had joked that blondies should be served on a Rapture menu. Then the more I thought about it, the more I thought: Mmmmm, blondies. It’s been a long time. I should whip up a batch!

But what makes a blondie a blondie? Isn’t a blondie just a congo bar or a variation of a toll house bar? And while we’re at it, how many licks DOES it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?!

So, I looked. And I stumbled upon Mark Bittman’s blondie recipe via Smitten Kitchen. Optional add-in: B O U R B O N! As if tollhouse cookie bars aren’t enough deliciousness. Nevermind rapture–this kat is simply rapt! MEOW!

If you do NOT roll on the boozier side of Sweet Street , you’ll want to use LESS THAN the entire quarter cup of bourbon. Or if you omit the bourbon altogether, keep the flour at one cup and you’ll be just fine. But if you’re not shy with alcohol, game on with the whole amount! And cheers to that and to you!

adapted from Mark Bittman via Smitten Kitchen

1 stick salted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
1/4 cup bourbon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup + 1 tablespoon flour (the extra tablespoon is to compensate for the Maker’s Mark)
1/2 cup chopped chocolate (I chopped up dark Valrhona feves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 x 8″ baking dish. Combine melted butter with brown sugar till smooth. Beat in egg, then bourbon and vanilla. Lower your head over the bowl and breathe deeply. KIDDING about that last instruction! 🙂

Combine salt, soda, baking powder and flour. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir in chopped chocolate.

Pour into baking dish.

“I am ready to bake!”

Is anyone looking? Who cares?! You’ll want to lick that spatula. ENJOY! But before you get too carried away, set a timer for 25 minutes. This leaves PLENTY of time to ensure you have licked all your utensils clean. AHM NOM NOM!

Let these bourbon-y babies cool in the pan on a wire rack before you cut them. Are you enraptured or what?

I loved these so much (and they’re so quick!), I made another batch yesterday. This time, no bourbon, but 1/4 cup chocolate chunks and 1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries. Omit the extra tablespoon of flour and we’ve got yet another variation on the theme. My two most trusted taste testers liked both, but definitely leaned toward the bourbon batch! Which blondie will you prefer?

Well, how did your chili come out? Are you ready for some cornbread? It’s not just good with chili, of course. I’ve made stuffing out of it and it tastes mighty fine for breakfast or a snack when there’s a homemade pan in the house.

Adapted from Virginia Hanker

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal (I used White Lily)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (I used Lievito Pane degli Angeli per Dolci)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Combine the egg, sour cream, milk and butter; stir into dry ingredients till moistened.

Pour batter into buttered 8″ square baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or till a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm. This cornbread reheats fantastically with a brief spin in the microwave.

Bet you didn’t think this kat could find a tune to share with you about cornbread. Well, you’d lose that bet! Let’s give it up for Lyle Lovett and His Large Band: “We’ve got some beans and some good cornbread, now listen to what the preacher said!”

April Katt's on quality control patrol!

A week of rain and chilly temps calls for chili! What does a kat from the Land of Steady Habits know about making chili, you ask? I can only say, “That’s the way–uh-huh, uh-huh–I like it!” The base recipe came from a friend of mine years back. Over time, I’ve modified it considerably to create what I’m sharing with you here. Best of all, you can do the same to make it your own. Or maybe you’ll like it just the way it is!


1/2 a large onion, diced
olive oil
1.5 pounds ground chuck (you can substitute ground turkey or ground chicken)
1 teaspoon Adobo
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 can white beans, rinsed
1 bottle of beer
1 tablespoon soy sauce
scant tablespoon granulated garlic (or 3 cloves garlic, pressed–throw it in with the onion if you choose to take the fresh path)
1 bell pepper, diced (I prefer red or orange or yellow, but green works, too)
1 tablespoon chili powder*
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (no kidding!)
1 teaspoon sugar

*I use 1 teaspoon Penzey’s medium hot chili powder, 1 teaspoon ancho chili, 1 teaspoon chipotle

Saute onions in olive oil till golden.

Add ground beef, sprinkle with Adobo. Once cooked, drain juices.

Add spices.

Add tomatoes, paste, beer and bell pepper.

Simmer till chili begins to thicken (15-20 minutes). This is a great time to put a lid on it so the chili doesn’t splatter all over your stove.

Last, add the beans.

Top with cheddar, and serve with some tortilla chips or cornbread. Yes, easy, delicious, homemade cornbread! Can I tell you about it later?

Katty’s Chili!

It’s challenging to take a picture of a black katty on a dark, rainy night. Her expression cracks me up, though. Long live The Queen! And cheers to her chili!

Shhh…I’ve got a thing for Cap’n Crunch. It’s a taste I’ve never outgrown. Despite the fact it tends to shred the roof of your mouth, it sure is fun to eat.

A few years back, this kat crossed paths with Cap’n Crunch chicken–a recipe from Planet Hollywood, I’m told–and was quite intrigued. The original version calls for a blend of the Cap’n and corn flakes. Instead, I thought a 2:1 ratio of the Cap’n to panko would be delish–and it is!

Many have raised an eyebrow (understatement) in response to my love for this recipe. All I can say is: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! Oh, and brace yourself–it tastes especially great served with some Miracle Whip (yeah, that’s right) kicked up with Sriracha for dipping. So let’s be open-minded and start sizzlin’, shall we? 🙂

adapted from CDKitchen

1 1/4 cups Cap’n Crunch cereal, coarsely ground
3/4 cup panko
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
black pepper
1 pound chicken breast, cut into snackable pieces!
vegetable oil for frying

Combine the ground Cap’n Crunch with the panko and set aside.

Beat egg with milk and set aside.

Stir flour, onion and garlic powders and black pepper together and set aside.

Now you’ve got three dipping stations. Get ready to get your chicken crunchatized!

Ready to get Crunchatized?!

Dip each piece of chicken into the seasoned flour to coat. Shake off excess flour and into the egg they go! Then coat the pieces with the cereal/panko mix. Quite frankly, this is where it gets messy! As the process rolls on, you’ll find your fingers getting as coated as the chicken! Luckily, before long, you’ll have a plate that looks like this.

"Fry me."

Heat oil in a large skillet. You know it’s time to fry when you dip a piece in and the oil sizzles.

Sizzle, sizzle!

Cook 3 to 5 minutes each side, depending on the size of the pieces. Drain on paper towels and serve with kicked up Miracle Whip enhanced by the spicy goodness of Sriracha.

I’m willing to bet you won’t be disappointed when you make this recipe. But if I can’t convince you, guess you better shop around for something else to try this week! Make it a great one!

♥ and purrs,

I ♥ almond horns. You know, those crispy outside/chewy inside crescents of almond paste, covered with almonds, dipped in dark chocolate, often found in bakeries. Probably fortunate I can’t think of anywhere near me that makes them, as I’m more than a little nutty about these particular almond-y goodies. So I was pleasantly surprised to learn just how EASY they are to bake at home. Easy like Sunday mornin’, yeah!

I’d heard good things about Love’n Bake Almond Paste (gotta love it for the name alone, no?) and anxiously awaited the arrival of a three-pack at my doorstep.

The Love’n Bake site has an entire treasure trove of recipes, where I found this one. I made but a few minor changes.

  • Omitted the apricot glaze–the variety I’m familiar with doesn’t have one
  • Used my 1 oz. ice cream scoop to portion out the dough, so mine are a little smaller. Kind of a joke, really. It’s just an excuse to have two rather than one larger one!
  • Beat an egg to use as an egg wash before rolling each cookie in the almonds
  • Half a cup of melted chocolate gets the job done purr-fectly!

ALMOND HORNS from Love’n Bake

1 (10 oz.) can Love’n Bake Almond Paste
3/4 cup sugar
2 whole eggs (1 for the cookie dough; 1 for the egg wash)
sliced almonds (I used slivered almonds, so mine look a little rustic!)
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On slow speed, using a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix almond paste with sugar. Gradually add one egg to create a smooth paste. Mix till well blended. It’ll look like this.

Next, beat the other egg. Spread almonds on a large plate. Scoop dough (a cookie scoop is handy here–original recipe calls for scant 1/4 cup of dough) and roll into balls.

Take each ball, roll into a three-inch long log. Hey, now–“All kids love Log!”

Dip into egg wash, then roll in the almonds. Curve each log into a crescent shape. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and load ’em up!

Bake until cookies are lightly browned. In my oven, it was 15 minutes, but please take a look at the 12-minute mark to see how they do at your house.

See how nice ‘n toasty the almonds become? Remove horns from oven and cool on a wire rack. They will firm up as they cool.

Melt the chocolate and dip each horn, both ends.

I understand these keep well in the freezer; however, treats are made for sharing, so I will store them in a tightly sealed container and make sure they find good (lovin’?!) homes within the next 3-4 days.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, but especially to mine! You ‘n me against the world since 1975, Mama! I’m so lucky to have a strong lady like you always in my corner. I couldn’t possibly love you more.