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DIY Cream Cheese from

October 20, 2014
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

DIY Cream Cheese – It Couldn’t be Easier!

DIY Cream Cheese from LaughingLemonPie.comSo I made my own cream cheese. And let me be the first to say: I understand it is totally uncalled for to be making your own cream cheese. I a) do not neeeeeed cream cheese, and b) even if I did, it is so readily available why make your own?

Because it can be done. And easily. What can I say?: when I found out, I was intrigued.  I’d never thought of it before, didn’t know it could be done! Yes, I made my own yogurt and even my own cheese once, but somehow cream cheese never occurred to me – how do “they” make cream cheese? What is cream cheese anyway? Certainly not something an average person could concoct, right? I think it was the obviously man-made brick shape of a certain famous brand that was a household staple in my childhood fridge that imparted a factory-feel to the product and removed it from my ‘you-can-make-that’ radar.

So, when I ran across a mini-recipe for cream cheese in Radically Simple that listed just one ingredient(!), well I nearly immediately had to try for myself.

Turns out, making cream cheese is super fab & easy. And not air-quotes easy like making your own yogurt, or grilling pizza (As Jim Shahin of the Washington Post says of grilling pizza” It’s like learning a new computer program. Those who know how to do it always say it’s easy. But it’s only easy if you know how to do it.”) – making your own cream cheese is straight-up really and truly simple. 1 step, 1 ingredient. You don’t even need a recipe really.

Are you ready?….the ingredient is SOUR CREAM! You basically let sour cream drain a bit overnight. As much or as little sour cream as you like. Here I put about 8oz in a coffee filter rubber banded around the mouth of a big Ball jar. The Ball jar was good because I could then screw on the cap – but I suppose you could cover the exposed sour cream with plastic wrap if using a vessel without a lid. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, plunk it out of the coffee filter, stir in some salt, and voila!: Cream Cheese, ready to spread and enjoy.

It came out soft and fluffy – like the whipped cream cheeses you can buy in a tub. Very nice and spreadable. Surprisingly little liquid had drained out to transform it from sour cream to cream cheese. Mine didn’t have quite the tang I expected, but after adding a good dash of salt it got there…yum! Results should vary from time to time, and between different sour creams and their different fat-levels, liquidity, consistency, flavors, etc. As with any DIY, you know exactly what is in yours and you can add in whatever flavors and etc that you like, and to your taste.

Now, no one neeeeeds cream cheese, obviously, but I think we can all agree that it can be kind of nice to have sometimes. Lately I’ve got all these jars of apple butter staring me down. DIY Cream Cheese from LaughingLemonPie.comAnd…I’m one of those wacky people who likes the combination of jam & cheese. But committing to a tub or brick of cream cheese? I have a hard time buying the stuff. So this method is ideal for singles, people who are the only cream cheese eater in their household, and the brick-o-phobic.

It’s not an exact match, but if you are an only-occasional cream cheese eater – well this might be a good trick to keep in mind. You can make as much or as little as you like or need, you’ll not feel obligated to eat a whole tub or brick, and you know exactly what’s in your DIY cream cheese.

Are you brick-o-phobic? What’s your favorite cream cheese pairing? Jam & cream cheese – gross or great? Share your thoughts below!

Holy Smokes Cook Off on

October 13, 2014
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

Front Range Flavor: Holy Smokes Cook-Off!

How excited was I to be invited to guest-judge a fantastic local food event this past weekend? Enormously.Holy Smokes Cook Off on

Tasting 12 different home-cooked dishes? For a good cause? Yes, please – anytime! I’ve never felt so fortunate to be a) opinionated, b) decisive, and c) have no food allergies, dietary restrictions, or food prejudices!

The Holy Smokes Cook-Off on LaughingLemonPie.comHoly Smokes Cook-Off is organized by Catherine Ballance and Executive Director Susan Lythgoe in addition to multiple volunteers, campus chapters, churches, and teams as a benefit for Flatirons Habitat for Humanity and families across the Front Range in need of affordable quality housing.

The Broomfield Enterprise was on hand to chronicle the event, taking lots of photos including an epic one of yours truly trying to wrap my head around the task at hand.

Holy Smokes Cook Off on

Best presentation goes to Lutheran Church of Hope’s team.

As we learned at the 1st Annual Laughing Lemon Pie Chocolate Cake-off, perspective is everything – what tastes “good” or you think you “like” can change a lot when put head to head against something else or against several others of its kind. When you make one cake, pie, or dish it’s pretty great and you’re usually pretty pleased with the result. But stacking them against anything else? Well…then you have a cook-off!

Holy Smokes featured 12 teams vying for 3 honors – the award for Top Chef/Team based on best tasting dish, the Healthy & Delicious category, and People’s Choice based on dollar votes and most dollars collected. There was a range of items for the crowd (and myself) to taste – a couple different mac & cheese interpretations, a healthy sloppy-joe, pumpkin bread and pie, a Holy Roller (scrambled eggs stuffed into a sausage football and then woven with bacon slices – what?!), a muy muy interesante Cuban Beef Picadillo, vegan Sofritas Taco Bites, Holy Holy Smokes Cook Off on LaughingLemonPie.comMole Chili, a Mexican chicken soup, and a Chile Verde and a Green Chili neck and neck for the top spot.

Holy Smokes Cook Off on

The two top tasting dishes! Atonement Lutheran’s Chile Verde on the left, and United Church of Broomfield’s Green Chili on the right (recipe below).

Coloradans can appreciate that on the face of it Chile Verde might seem synonymous with Green Chili, but oh the luscious differences. It took many many bites to parse out which tasted best – in the end it was “The Incredible Hulk” Green Chile made by Pasha Ripley for United Church of Broomfield that won the Top Chef/Team honor. We are lucky enough to reprint the recipe here, it has a lengthy list of ingredients – but that really showed in the depth of flavor. “The Incredible Hulk” was a standout combination of sweet and heat – the flavor held up over time, complex enough to be interesting all the way down to the bottom of the bowl. It is something you could eat a lot of, and be very glad you did.

Pasha Ripley for UCB's "The Incredible Hulk" Green Chili


  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 4 jalapenos, seeded and finely minced (remove seeds for milder flavor)
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely minced
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, finely chopped (use the other half as a garnishing option)
  • Rendered fat/drippings from 8 oz bacon (use the bacon for some other purpose - BLTs anyone?)
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2-4 T olive oil (divided)
  • 2.5 lb pork loin, slivered and diced (partially freezing the loin makes it much easier to handle, sliver, and dice)
  • 1 lb roasted Hatch green chiles - freshly roasted, frozen, or (in a pinch) canned
  • 10oz can green enchilada sauce
  • 16oz jar tomatillo-based salsa verde
  • 1/2 cup white wine (or equivalent of water or soup base)
  • 1.5-2 cups water
  • 1 T chicken Better than Bullion soup base
  • 1/4 cup New Mexican green chili powder
  • 2 T ground cumin
  • 1 T ground white pepper
  • 1 T agave nectar
  • salt to taste
  • green (jalapeno) Tabasco sauce to taste


  1. Chop the veg, garlic, onions, and cilantro - set aside.
  2. Fry off the bacon, leaving fat and drippings in pan.
  3. In a skillet over medium heat, mix flour into the bacon fat until it's blended and starts to bubble.
  4. Take off heat, scrape into a bowl, and set aside in refrigerator.
  5. In a large stock pot heat 2 tablespoons olive oil, then add and sweat the veg, garlic, onion, and cilantro.
  6. Meanwhile, back in the skillet, over high heat, drizzle the remaining olive oil.
  7. Sear pork briefly in skillet - this step will probably have to be done in batches to ensure that pork pieces make contact with the skillet.
  8. Add seared pork to the veg in stock pot.
  9. Raise heat under stock pot to medium-high, stir in flour/bacon fat mix.
  10. Then add wet ingredients (chiles, enchilada sauce, salsa, wine, water, soup base).
  11. Add remaining ingredients (dry spices, agave).
  12. Let simmer, stirring often, for 30 minutes.
  13. Taste and season with salt and green Tabasco sauce.
  14. Simmer another 30 minutes or so - if you think it is too thin, simmer uncovered to reduce. If you feel it's too thick add a bit of water and cover for remaining 30 minutes.
  15. Garnish with leftover cilantro, monterey jack cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, tortilla chips, and/or whatever else you'd like. Eat it in bowls, or use it to smother burritos - YUM.
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Holy Smokes Cook Off on

Nachitos Rojos with 34 Degree Crisps from

October 10, 2014
by Emily Klopstein

34° Nachitos Rojos

Leftovers got you down? Not once you discover 34° Crisps! (Is that just the cheesiest thing you’ve ever read!? HA, I know – But it’s true). Nachitos on

We could talk all day about how well 34° Crisps pair with all kinds of cheeses – but for me their real magic is in lunchtime leftover transformation. Leftovers have never had it so good. 34° Crisps transform an ugh-leftovers-again? lunch into a whole new experience.

Nachitos Rojas are a lovely little take on nachos using 34° Whole Grain Savory Crisps and leftover red chile beef with the addition of avocado slices, sour cream dollop, and honey chipotle drizzle. Using the Whole Grain Crisps saved me 135 calories and 8 grams of fat – gracias 34°!  Fat/cal savings are for 9 34° Crisps vs using 9 regular tortilla chips. All the crunch of nachos, but way less cal. As they say: Mucho Sabor!

I made a big batch of this Cooks Illustrated Recipe for Carne Deshebrada but used guajillo peppers rather than the anchos they recommend. I made it on a Sunday in the oven, but for weekday dinner I would totally modify this recipe for the slow cooker.

Honey Chipotle Sauce from LaughingLemonPie.comHold up a minute – Honey Chipotle Drizzle? Yes, you read that right. And it is basically the greatest thing ever. It’s such a staple in our household it gets its own squeeze bottle. And the “recipe” couldn’t be simpler – Empty one 5.8 oz bottle of Bufalo Chipotle Hot Sauce into a 10 ounce squeeze bottle (I got a bunch at a restaurant supply store once, but you can (of course) find them online). Fill the rest of the way with honey and shake vigorously. In other words, Honey Chipotle Sauce is about a 60/40 ratio of store-bought chipotle sauce to honey.

FYI: 34° provided LaughingLemonPie with crackers to sample, but we were not compensated otherwise for this post, and all opinions are (as always) our own.

What’s your best leftover coup? Or 34° creation? Share below!

fry bread taco Tocabe

October 6, 2014
by Lacy
1 Comment

Restaurant Report: Tocabe

My first semester at The College of Santa Fe (now the Santa Fe University of Art and Design), the school offered day trips you could sign up for that cost nothing or just a few bucks, and as a lonely freshman with few friends and no car, I was one of the first to put my name on the list.

(What can I say? Once a dweeb, always a dweeb…)

The first trip saw us all loaded into a big white van and driving to the famous Santa Fe Plaza for Indian Market. It’s an annual festival in town that showcases some of the finest native American art and craftsmanship you’ll ever see all in one place.  After wandering around looking at the artist stalls, I was hungry, and got in line at one of the few food stalls for a “Navajo taco.”

And my life has never been the same.

If you’ve never had fry bread, it’s pretty much a life changing experience.  The closest thing I can compare it to is sopapillas, but bigger, rounder, and usually topped or filled with a variety of yummy taco fillings. Ah-mazing.

Only problem is that I’ve never seen real fry bread outside those road-side or festival stands in New Mexico.


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Tips for Eating Locally - even in the Winter! from via SALT Bistro, Boulder

September 29, 2014
by Lacy

Tips for Eating Locally — Even in the Winter!

Tips for Eating Locally - even in the Winter! from via SALT Bistro, BoulderYou’ve been to SALT the Bistro, right? In Boulder? Super yummy? Where Tom’s Tavern used to be, at the west end of the Pearl Street Mall?

SALT has long been a remarkable place for its very Boulder farm-to-table focus, but now Chef Bradford Heap is pushing further forward – pioneering a GMO-free restaurant. The Daily Camera gives a peek into how challenging that can be. At a recent event, Chef Heap shared some tips for eating locally even in the winter – I’ve gone ahead and added some of my own as well.

Tips for Eating Locally – Even in the Winter

  1. Squash, apples, pears, kale and chard are just a few things that will be ready to harvest during the fall. Buy in bulk and store in a cool, dark place for future use.  You can even DIY your own root cellar (which can be as easy as a box in your garage).
  2. Raspberries and strawberries are still flourishing this time of year. Fresh berries are perfect for preserving into jams and jellies, or you can freeze them for fresh-fruit taste all winter long.
  3. Think outside of the can. In addition to canning your freshly harvested finds, consider pickling and curing. Pickled watermelon rind and cured meats make a nice addition a charcuterie board.  Pickles aren’t as hard or as scary as you think — give it a try!
  4. You can also freeze lots of fresh produce. Just Google “How to freeze…” and the produce you’ve got for your best chance at success.
  5. Eating locally is more than just vegetables and fruit. Keep it local by looking for locally-made products available year round at your local market: local meats, cheese, dairy, etc.

Pork Flatbread from Salt Bistro on LaughingLemonPie.comChef Heap also shared his recipe for Fall Flatbread features pulled pork, apples, arugula and gorgonzola (which sounds AMAZING, right???).

Fall Flatbread photo courtesy of SALT the Bistro.
Apples & tree photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani via Compfight cc

Pork Flatbread from Salt Bistro on

September 28, 2014
by Emily Klopstein

Fall Pulled Pork Flatbreads with Balsamic Leek Onion Jam and Gorgonzola Dolce Sauce from SALT Bistro, Boulder

Fall Pulled Pork Flatbreads with Balsamic Leek Onion Jam and Gorgonzola Dolce Sauce from SALT Bistro, Boulder


  • For Pulled Pork:
  • 2 Tbls Olive Oil
  • 8 oz Memphis BBQ Seasoning (from the Savory Spice Shop in Boulder)
  • 2 pounds Pork shoulder
  • 1 quart (4 cups) roughly chopped Mirepoix (onions, celery, carrots)
  • 6-8 sprigs of fresh organic Thyme, washed
  • For Balsamic Leek Onion Jam:
  • 2 leeks (only the bottom ends), cut into 1 inch julienne (wash them after chopping)
  • 2 Tbls unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tbls local Honey
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • For Gorgonzola Dolce Sauce:
  • 4 oz Creamy Gorgonzola
  • 1 cup organic heavy Cream
  • For Flatbread assembly:
  • Fresh pizza dough (I’m sure Chef Heap has his own recipe, but I like this Jaimie Oliver stand-by), alternatively you can purchase flatbreads at many grocery stores.
  • 5 (or more) ounces organic Arugula
  • 1 Honey Crisp Apple, julienned
  • 1 Jalapeno, thinly sliced


  1. Start the pork the day before you want to make this meal.
  2. Rub pork shoulder generously with Memphis BBQ Seasoning.
  3. Heat a 12” stainless saute pan on medium high heat.
  4. Cut the pork shoulder into quarters and sear in hot pan.
  5. Sear on all sides then place in a roasting pan (or slow cooker).
  6. Add the mirepoix and thyme to the roasting pan or slow cooker, plus 5-6 cups of water (or 4 cups of water and 12 ounces lager), and cover.
  7. Place in a 300 degree oven for 4 hours, or set slow cooker to low for 6-8 hours.
  8. If there is a bone in your pork shoulder it should pull right out when done.
  9. Let pork cool, then pull.
  10. Make the Balsamic Leek Onion Jam - Heat small stainless saute pan with a swirl of olive oil. Add leeks and turn heat to low. Sweat leeks until soft (10-12 minutes), then add butter and balsamic. Add brown sugar and honey, then reduce to a syrup.
  11. Make the Gorgonzola Dolce Sauce - Heat 1 cup of heavy cream and add to your blender or Vitamix. Blend, slowly adding 1 oz at a time of creamy gorgonzola until emulsified. The gorgonzola cream should reach a nearly fondue-like consistency.
  12. To make Flatbreads - Decide if you’re going to grill or cook indoors in an oven. Preheat oven (and pizza stone, if you have one) to 425 degrees, or preheat covered grill on medium high for 10 minutes (aiming for a temp of 450-500 degrees). On a floured surface, cut fresh pizza dough into 4 pieces. Roll dough out into small flatbreads about 1 inch thick. Grilling instructions - Drizzle and rub olive oil into the dough so it doesn't stick to the grill. Grill the flatbreads for about 5 minutes each side. In the oven - Place dough on a non-stick cookie sheet or preferably a baking stone if you have one. Bake at 425 degrees for 7-10 minutes.
  13. Flatbread assembly - Top warm flatbreads first with Balsamic Leek Onion Jam, then add pulled pork. Top that with jalapeno, arugula, and apple slices. Finally, drizzle Gorgonzola Dolce Sauce over the whole thing and devour.
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September 22, 2014
by Lacy

101 Paleo and Whole30 Friendly Recipes (via Mark Bittman)

Several years ago, Mark Bittman started putting out astonishing lists of 101 recipes (no more than a sentence or two each!) and I started printing them out, putting them in my recipe notebook, and referring to them often for inspiration.

So, when I started doing the Whole30, of course, I went back and looked at them again — and I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the ideas were Whole30-friendly, or easily made so with a quick swap here or there or the judicious omission of cheese.

All of these recipes are from Mark Bittman’s 101 series with the New York Times. I have culled from all the lists and edited a few recipes slightly (swapping coconut aminos for soy sauce, for example) to make things Paleo and Whole30 compliant.

This is in no way meant as plagiarism (as these are not my recipes and not meant to seem as such), but rather a remix, if you like.  Enjoy!

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Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever from

September 15, 2014
by Emily Klopstein
1 Comment

Our Quest for the Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

It started with my impending birthday, and the desire to make a chocolate cake for myself. Simple, right? presents the 2014 Chocolate Cake-Off

But how do you decide which chocolate cake recipe to make when you have amassed a collection of 67 chocolate cake recipes? Uh…not so simple.

And so the quest for the best chocolate cake recipe evolved into the 2014 (1st annual?) Laughing Lemon Pie Chocolate Cake Fest — a head-to-head tasting of 8 different chocolate cakes to determine the all-time (or this time) best recipe. The most chocolately, and most worth the calories.

However, I could not do this on my own. Well, I could but it’s a lot more fun and healthy to have friends help. 20 discerning tasters were invited and advised to think CHOCOLATE.

There was no frosting to distract them – cake squares were marked with their letter in white chocolate drizzle scribble. As a (semi)blind-tasting, tasters only knew the cakes as A-H. Lacy did however make a lovely frosting used as cake “dip” for tasters so inclined. Everyone really enjoyed the stabilized buttercream recipe from Tasty Kitchen.

The 8 contenders for best chocolate cake recipe…

Narrowing the field down to a number conceivable both to bake without a commercial oven and then limited to a number of pieces that might fit on just 2 plates per taster was excruciating! However, as I poured over my chocolate cake recipe collection I started to notice some patterns; that helped me get to 8 categories from which I then picked 1 recipe each. The categories and recipes were:

A: Guiness/Stout Chocolate Cake – My one-time all-time favorite chocolate cake was the Chocolate Stout Cake published in Bon Appetit way back in 2002. What my 2002 early 20s self thought was “The Best Cake EVER” (written in the margins of the magazine clipping), my mid-30s 2014 self balked at…4 sticks of butter?! 4?! No can do…sorry charlie. Harnessing the power of the interwebs I found a more acceptably buttered version over at Taste of Home. And for the very butter-shy, there is a “skinny” version Lacy tried and liked from Skinny Taste.

Quest for the Best Chocolate Cake from LaughingLemonPie.comB: Pumpkin – Another recipe with margin scribbles (“makes EXCELLENT chocolate cake!”) I found in Sunset Magazine, Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes.

C: Box Cake Mix! – Oooh! I thought we’d throw a red herring in there to truly test the powers of industrial chemistry and food science vs those of the home baker. Some tasters were worried at my “red herring” reference…no she didn’t! no there isn’t! Omega-3 Chocolate Cake? Ha ha – no there isn’t, no I didn’t. Based on a recommendation from Food & Wine Magazine’s Taste Test: Chocolate Cake Mixes, I chose Duncan Hines. (Classic Devil’s Food. Normally $2.19 per box, on sale for $.99 each – woohoo!)

D: Buttermilk – I had to decide between two, both from Martha Stewart. These are the same recipe, except that One-Bowl Chocolate Cake adds water, and Chocolate-Coconut Sheet Cake contains coffee. I went with the coffee version.

E: Beet – Chocolate Cake (with Beets) from Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.

F: Vegan – This was interesting, I had a dozen+ vegan cake recipes. When it came time to choose one I discovered…they were all the same recipe! Wow. The only variation being that some called for a cup of water. Among the choices were Martha’s Double Chocolate Cake, Nita’s Crazy Cake from Bon Ap, and Chloe Corscarelli’s Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes as published in Sunset Magazine.

G: Sour Cream – A Nigella Lawson At My Table article published in 2004 in the New York Times (I have a photocopy of a clipping of it from a reprint in the Minneapolis Star Tribune) for All-in-One Chocolate Cake. The sheer brilliance of this recipe is that you literally just dump all the ingredients in a food processor. All at the same time. Whiz it, pour it in the pan. Bake. Done. So simple! It was a must-try.

H: MayonnaiseCook’s Illustrated has a recipe for The Best Easy Chocolate Cake that uses mayonnaise as the sole form of fat. Normally I steer clear of mayo (it is just too too too good – the crack of foods for me. Once I have some I must. have. more. now.). But I was intrigued by the simplicity of the recipe, and heartened by the fact that there wasn’t additional fat (I draw the line at mayo + butter. Ewww.).

Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever from LaughingLemonPie.comAnd the best chocolate cake recipe is…Vegan!?!

Yep, the by far and away winner and crowd favorite was the vegan cake! How do you like that?! I was pretty sure that butter was going to be a big factor in the winning recipe – but no. Very interesting.

Cake “F” was nearly every tasters #2 pick. So how’d it get to be #1? It was a few people’s top choice, and had the most consensus. Tasters chose their top 3 cakes – I then weighted the scores (#1 got 3 points, #2 2 points, and 3rd choice got just 1 point) and tallied.

Only one person actively disliked the vegan cake. In her and/or the cake’s defense, she is married to a vegan and in so being is a bit over the whole vegan thing. Her taste buds retaliated against that particular recipe, craving butter/eggs.

A note about the vegan cake, recipe F – it is really, really chocolatey. That’s why it won, right? It’s not for the faint of heart or a person who is on the fence in their love of cocoa. It had a dark chocolate flavor, quite strong. As one taster noted, this recipe would pair really well with the sweetness of a vanilla frosting to act as a foil and complement. It went divinely with the Tasty Kitchen frosting Lacy made (here’s a review and photos of the frosting recipe as posted by Ree Drummond – The Pioneer Woman).

The 2nd and 3rd place cakes both included coffee – further cementing the fact that chocolate and coffee are best buds for your taste buds.

Results, scores, & commentsQuest for the Best Chocolate Cake from

F: Vegan (I followed Martha Stewart’s Double-Chocolate Cake recipe) Score: 25 points (“flavor builds, a bit dry,” “pairs so well with the frosting,” “dark cocoa taste”)

H: Cooks Illustrated Best Easy Chocolate Cake (with Mayonnaise, and coffee) Score: 16 points (“good all-around,” “just right…you gotta eat a lot of this”)

D: Chocolate Coconut Sheet Cake (with Buttermilk, and coffee) Score: 12 points (“dense & chewy, nice mid-chocolate note”)

A: Chocolate Guinness Cake Score: 6 points (“disappointing texture,” “rich & dense/fudgy,” “heavy non-chocolate flavor,” “different”)

Quest for the Best Chocolate Cake from LaughingLemonPie.comC: Duncan Hines “Classic Devil’s Food” as recommended by Food & Wine Score: 5 points (Hooray for the home-baker! I was so relieved when this wasn’t a taster-favorite. It was admittedly very good, I tried not to hate myself for liking it – Heck, it is designed by scientists for my enjoyment! It had a nearly perfect texture, but the chocolate note was mild, “weak flavor, but fluffy.”)

B: Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes Score: 4 points (“funny flavor,” “good flavor, moderate moistness”)

G: Nigella Lawson’s All-in-One Chocolate Cake (with Sour Cream) Score: 1 point (“not very chocolatey,” “not dark enough,” “hint of gingerbread”)

E: Chocolate Cake (with Beets) from Deceptively Delicious Score: 0 points (poor beets :(, “chewy, weak flavor”)

I’ve already got a contender for next year’s Chocolate Cake-Fest, in the healthy cakes category: 100 Calorie Chocolate Cake from Chocolate-Covered Katie. What’s your favorite chocolate cake recipe? Any suggestions for next year? Have you ever done a tasting like this? Share below!

And if you LOVED this post (and are excited to know what the best cake recipe is), please Pin and share this post with your friends! We really appreciate it!


September 8, 2014
by Lacy

My Whole30 Results and Review


I had come across Whole30 a while back and dismissed it out of hand as being one of those crazy radical extreme diets I always swore I’d never do.

In late July, I saw a fashion blogger I follow, Wardrobe Oxygen, was doing it, and I was intrigued again.  I went to the Whole30 site and really read everything, and my fears were assuaged that it wasn’t a lose-weight-quick crazy diet, but actually more deeply about restarting a healthier relationship with food.

And then I read one line that changed everything. “This isn’t hard; losing a parent is hard.”

In early July, I lost my dad to leukemia.  It wasn’t unexpected, but it was sudden, and I was left reeling a bit.  I had just started seeing a therapist in expectation of his eventual death and the resulting grief, and rather than telling me that my previous eating disorder diagnosis was gone (as my previous, kinda crappy therapist had), she said nope! And by the way, let’s expand that diagnosis a bit.

So, I was deep in the thick of grief, yet also strongly determined not to try to eat my way out of it, as I might easily have done.

And then I read that line on the Whole30 website and thought, “You know what? They’re right.”

I decided then and there to start that weekend. I stocked my fridge.  I moved most of the non-Whole30 foods out to the garage, and I got Well Fed 2, a Whole30-approved cookbook, from the library. (The first one has a hold list on it about a mile long!!) And I got started.

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Watercress Salad with Grilled Sweet Potatoes & Orange Honey Vinaigrette from

August 31, 2014
by Emily Klopstein

Watercress Salad with Grilled Sweet Potatoes & Orange Honey Vinaigrette

Ready to try watercress – the super-est (but least practical) superfood? It’s the CDC‘s #1 PFV (Powerhouse Fruit & Vegetables). Despite my shock at its ranking, initial balking, and further obstacles in getting familiar with this impractical and un-versatile superfood, I do have 2 applications to recommend. You can click over to Watercress: Super-est (but least practical) Superfood to read about the journey and more about PFVs.

It took some doing, but I tried and found two recipes I actually fully enjoyed, and might make again if I see cress on sale – A salad with watercress, grilled sweet potato (yum!!), grilled pork chop, and orange honey vinaigrette; and a potato salad with creamy yogurt and wilted watercress dressing.

I was inspired by a Martha recipe for Watercress Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, but since it was WAY too hot to be turning on the oven,  I took further inspiration from the sensational grilled sweet potato salad in Salad for Dinner: Complete Meals for All Seasons. I added grilled pork, and used fresh-squeezed orange juice rather than lemon juice in the dressing. Yum. A grilled chicken breast could very well stand in for the pork. The sweetness of the potatoes, orange juice, honey, and candied nuts really balanced out the peppery-ness of the raw cress in a salad like this. Creamy feta was a good add-on as well.

Watercress Salad with Grilled Sweet Potatoes & Orange Honey Vinaigrette from

Watercress Salad with Grilled Sweet Potato and Orange Honey Vinaigrette


  • 4 oz watercress
  • 1 or 2 medium to large red-skinned sweet potatoes
  • 10 oz salad greens - spinach, red or green leaf lettuce, or butter lettuce would all be nice here.
  • Spiced salad nuts (optional - recipe below)
  • Feta or fresh mozzarella (optional)
  • Some meat perhaps? Grill a chicken breast or a couple of pork chops to top the salad.
  • Dressing:
  • 3 T fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1-2 tsp dijon mustard (depends how much bite you like, remember the cress is peppery)
  • 1 tsp - 1 T white wine vinegar (optional, depends how much mouth pucker you like in a salad dressing).


  1. Grilled Sweet Potatoes: Pierce then microwave the sweet potatoes whole, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Turn them over periodically to get even cooking - you're looking for a knife or fork to slip in easily but you don't want them so cooked as to be falling apart. Let them cool down (you can cook them well in advance), then slice in half lengthwise then cut the halves a few times - you want spears about the size of "steak fries." Heat your grill to medium-high. Coat the sweet potato pieces in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill over medium for about 10 minutes, turning every few minutes until well marked but not too black.
  2. Orange Honey Vinaigrette: whisk all ingredients until emulsified, or use a small jar to combine, shake, and potentially serve the dressing in and from.
  3. Spiced Salad Nuts can be purchased (I like the spiced pecans or walnuts at Trader Joe's), but lately I make my own: Heat a non-stick pan over med-high and add 1/4 cup brown sugar with a splash of water (2 Tablespoons more or less). Grind in a whole bunch of sea salt and pepper (I generally do about 20 turns of salt, and 40 of pepper from hand-held salt/pepper mills). Add a good dash of allspice - this is to taste, at first the allspice flavor can seem odd or off-putting but I rapidly came to love it in this application. You could easily sub in any other herb or spice that you adore. Using a silicone spatula, add an overflowing cup of pecans or walnuts to the pan and coat them with the sugar-spice over a good bit of heat for as long as it takes for the water to dissolve and the nuts to become coated in spicy caramel and toasted in the pan, 5-10 minutes. Let cool in pan - hopefully they come out nice and crispy. Every now and again mine don't or won't crisp up - humidity? They're still tasty that way, but less satisfying without the crunch.
  4. Assemble the Salad: Remove the watercress leaves from the stems - try keeping the stems in a container of water to see if they'll regrow! Toss with spinach or leaf lettuce, and plate. Top with grilled sweet potato spears, spiced nuts, feta, and sliced grilled meat. Add dressing to taste!
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Another idea would be to add watercress to turkey or roast beef sandwiches, which can be quite bland and could use some strategic pepper if you ask me. However, not being a turkey sandwich eater…I haven’t tried this, nor have I been able to convince my turkey-sandwich-eating husband to do so.

Maybe it could be made into a sauce for steak? That’s another place that the peppery flavor would be a good complement. There are recipes for watercress sauce to go with salmon, I haven’t cooked steak in years…so it’s another idea I haven’t tried myself. Martha’s Slow-Roasted Salmon with Green Sauce or chef Jill Hough’s Pan-Seared Salmon with Upland Cress Creme Fraiche would be a good place to start, though.

So tell me…what would, will, or do YOU do with watercress?