Cooking with Jess: September

When I started Lolly’s Sweet Treats in July, I had the intention of doing a special Cooking with Jess feature every month where my friend Jess and I and cook new food together. Unfortunately, August was insanely busy for the both of us so Jess and I had to skip a month. Now that school’s over and we both have jobs, we started it back up. This time I went over to Jess’s apartment. She planned the menu this month and it included: Flat Iron steak with avocado butter, a vegetable pancake topped with mixed greens and goat cheese, tossed salad, garlic herb challah, and sour cream apple pie. It was a delicious meal. Unfortunately, I forgot my digital camera and had to use Robert’s older one he has for work, so the pictures are a little fuzzier.

My first time cooking with beets- Jess showing me the ropes

Cutting the vegetable pancake!

Sour Cream Apple Pie

Printable Version

Yield: 8-10 slices


  • 1 recipe of your favorite pie crust
  • 1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 medium Golden Delicious apples (peeled, cored, and thinly slices)
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough to a 12 inch round. Ease into a 9 inch pie plate. Trim and crimp edges. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile whisk together the sour cream, egg, lemon juice, and vanilla. Add apple slices to the sour cream mixture and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the pie shell and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes more.

Melt the butter. Stir together the flour, both sugars, pecans, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the melted butter until crumbly. Carefully sprinkle the mixture on top of the baked pie and bake until apples are tender, about 20 minutes longer. Allow to cool completely. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

Source: Unknown


I dedicate these popovers to my Aunt Khaki. When she visited this past August, she planted the bug in my ear to bake a batch of these magical rolls. I finally got around to doing it last week and I am very glad I did. Popovers are best described as light, hollow, fluffy muffins that rise to spectacular heights in the oven. They can be savory or sweet and I am looking forward to trying out different variations very soon.

The batter of this particular recipe is similar to that of pancakes and it is super easy to make. There is no yeast required, but it does require a bit of planning as you need to let the dough rest for an hour before baking. The end result is worth the wait and it makes a nice addition to any meal.


Printable Version

Yield: 6 popovers


  • 2 cups (11 oz) bread flour
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 cups low-fat milk, heated to 110 degrees (I zapped it in the microwave for 1 minute)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar


In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs until light and foamy. Gradually whisk in the milk and butter.

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Slowly whisk three-quarters of the milk mixture into the flour mixture until smooth. Whisk in the remaining milk mixture. Pour the mixture into a large measuring cup and cover with plastic wrap. Let the batter rest for an hour to prevent the popovers from rising too fast in the oven.*

Move the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease the interior of a 6-cup popover pan. Whisk the batter to recombine and carefully pour into the popover pan, making sure the batter doesn’t go above the top of the cups.

Bake for 20 minutes. Without opening the oven, reduce the temperature to 300 degrees and continue to bake until the popovers are golden brown- about 35-40 minutes longer. Poke a small hole in the top of each popover with a wooden skewer and continue to bake until deep golden brown for about 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and place the pan on a wire cooling rack. Poke again with a skewer and allow to cool for 2 minutes. Carefully remove the popovers from the pan and cool about 10 minutes longer.

Serve immediately or store at room temperature in a zip-lock bag for 2 days. To reheat, place the popover on baking sheet and heat for 5-8 minutes at 400 degrees.

* The batter can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for a day. Just be sure to let it come to room temperature before baking.

Source: The Best of America’s Test Kitchen

Sweet and Spicy Chili

Soup season is here and nothing welcomes fall quite like a steamy bowl of chili. When we got home from sunny Florida two weekends ago, we were greeted with rainy and cloudy Ohio weather. It was a little depressing to say the least. So, in an effort to help lift our spirits, I made a big pot of this sweet and spicy chili and a pan of jalapeno cornbread. I developed this recipe last fall for a chili cook-off at the PT clinic where I was a student during that quarter. I researched some recipes online and added my own little twists. The end result is a chili that is a little sweet from the brown sugar and corn, but also moderately spicy from the chili powder, cumin, and green chiles in the diced tomatoes.

I’ve learned the most important thing to do when making chili is to allow ample time for it to simmer. This process really activates the spices and allows the flavors to meld together. I usually make the soup in a dutch oven over the stove, but you could also put the soup in a crockpot on low while you are at work for the day. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Now, I am sure there are some chili-purists out there that don’t think chili should have corn or be slightly sweet. However, I am a believer that you should tailor recipes to fit your tastes and this soup reflects that philosophy. :)

Sweet and Spicy Chili

Printable Version

Yield: 12 servings

  • 1 lb lean ground Beef or Turkey
  • 1 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1-29oz can Tomato Sauce
  • 1-15 oz can diced tomatoes with Green Chiles
  • 1-15oz oz can Diced Tomatoes with Onions
  • 1-15oz can Whole Kernel Corn, drained
  • 1-15 oz can Light Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-15oz can Pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 ¼ cups Water
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 ½ tsp Black Pepper
  • 5 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup White Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 2 Bay Leaves

In a large pot (I used a Dutch Oven), brown ground beef or turkey. Drain. Place meat in a dish and set aside. Add a small amount of olive oil to the same pan. Sauté onions until tender, add the garlic and sauté a few minutes longer. Add the meat, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans, corn, water and the rest of the seasonings. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low so it can a simmer. Simmer for 3 hours, stirring about every 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and serve. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese, if desired.

Source: Lolly’s Sweet Treats :)

Food Memory Friday: Carol’s Famous Sleepover Peanut Butter Bars

There was a period of time in my life from the time I was 10 to the time I was about 14 that involved slumber parties with my girlfriends at least once a month. Andrea, Angie, Kelly, Nicole, Jamie, and Sarah and I were pretty inseparable. At these sleepovers we entertained ourselves by dressing up in costumes, creating (and videotaping) dance routines and skits, watching movies, and talking about boys. We usually tried to stay up all night and to accomplish this difficult task, we needed the assistance of sugar. That’s where these peanut butter bars came into play.

They were the treat that my childhood friends and I grew to adore and expect whenever we went over to Andrea’s house. Andrea’s mom, Carol, seemed to always have a pan of these bars in the kitchen and it was the perfect snack for high-energy, Backstreet Boys-loving girls. As we got older and got involved with different activities  (and actually started dating those boys we were talking about), the sleepovers became less and less frequent until they stopped happening all together. Then came high school graduation and we all went our separate ways.

Flash forward about five years and Jamie got engaged.  For her bridal shower, I wanted to make a cookbook for a party favor that included recipes from family and friends. When Carol sent me the recipe for her famous peanut butter bars, a stream of fond memories of our slumber parties flooded my mind. I’ve made these bars a few times since and every time I do, I reflect on the fun childhood I had and the great bonds I made with those girls. Even though we don’t get to see each other very regularly anymore, I am forever grateful for those nights that we stayed up way too late and laughed until we peed. Thanks, Carol, for providing us with this special dessert that helped create a lot of wonderful memories.

Carol’s Famous Sleepover Peanut Butter Bars

Printable Version

Yield: 16 bars


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips


  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter
  • 2-3 Tbsp milk


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugars, and peanut butter in a mixing bowl. Add beaten egg and vanilla. Mix well.

Whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.

Spread into a greased 9×13″ pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Combine the icing ingredients and drizzle over top.

Source: Carol  :)

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

I’ve been making this cornbread for a few years now. I first discovered the beauty of jalapeno cornbread when Robert ordered it at a local restaurant. I did some research online and found that the beloved Ina Garten has her own recipe.  It’s not a traditional cornbread in the sense that it’s a bit more “cakey” than other recipes, but it’s a nice variation. The sharp cheesiness and spicy jalapenos are a wonderful match with the subtle sweetness of the cornbread. I’ve adapted Ina’s recipe just slightly by adding in buttermilk, more jalapenos, and a little more cornmeal. It makes a big batch, but it freezes well so you can enjoy it in moderation over a couple of weeks.  It goes great with pulled pork or a bowl of piping-hot soup.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

Printable Version

Yield: 1.5-2 dozen squares


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 3-4 seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers, diced


In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder. Whisk together the milk, buttermilk, eggs, and butter in a separate bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the lumps are dissolved, being careful not to over mix. Mix in 2 cups of the grated cheese, the chives and jalapenos. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan.

Pour the batter into the pan and spread out evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and chives. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into large squares.

Source: The Barefoot Contessa

Baked Garlic “Fries”

These garlic “fries” were a wonderful surprise.  The recipe is directly from Ellie Krieger’s cookbook, The Food You Crave. Ellie’s recipes are flavorful, delicious, and good for you. Her philosophy on food is a balanced one and she advises people to not mention health when preparing food, but rather to cook fantastic meals with high quality ingredients that just happen to packed full of nutrients. These “fries” are a perfect example and they are so easy to make.

Robert actually made this dish a few weeks ago while I was busy studying for the PT licensure exam. These salty potes stole the show for dinner that night (I don’t even remember what the main dish was because they were that good)! The potatoes are sliced thinly and then a small amount of garlic oil is drizzled over them before they are baked.   If you love garlic and french fries, you will absolutely love this recipe. You won’t feel deprived from the real thing.

We will absolutely be making these fries again… and again!

Baked Garlic “Fries”

Printable Version

Yield: 4 servings


  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 3 large baking potatoes (I used red potatoes because that’s what we had on hand)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley, if desired


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the garlic and oil together in a small saucepan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Strain the garlic from the oil with a sieve. Set the garlic and oil aside.

Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Toss together the oil, potatoes, and salt in a large bowl. Spread them out evenly in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.Bake until golden and crispy, about 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and toss with parsley and reserved garlic. Serve immediately.

Source: Ellie Krieger, The Food You Crave

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies


After a week of fun in the Florida sun, Robert and I are back home and back to reality. We had a wonderful time with Jess and Greg and we both commented that it was one of the most relaxing vacations we’d ever been on. In addition to the rejuvenation that we experienced, it was also a nice way to officially close the door on the 2011 summer and welcome autumn with open arms.  When we got back to Ohio, there was a distinct coolness in the breeze and I noticed the leaves on the cherry tree in our backyard are beginning to display shades of orange and red.

To kick off the fall baking season I made these pumpkin whoopie pies* for my parents. There’s something glorious about sandwich cookies, especially whoopie pies. I found this particular recipe in an Amish cookbook my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas a few years ago. When it comes to baked goods, the Amish women don’t mess around.  Although whoopie pies have become rather trendy as of late, they have been a staple in the bakeries back home for a long time. This version is a perfect fall indulgence. The cake-like cookies are  a delicious  medley of pumpkin and cinnamon and I added pumpkin pie spice and additional ground ginger to the batter to enhance the flavor even more. Even better, the cookies are filled with a cream cheese frosting. It’s a beautiful thing.

*recipe and pictures updated on 10.18.15


Enjoying a frozen Butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter- I’m currently searching for this recipe!

The boys throwing football on Clearwater Beach

We ate lots of tasty, fresh seafood

Beautiful sunsets

My life’s companion :)

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Printable Version

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies


For the cookies:

  • 1 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt

For the frosting:

  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cream the sugar and melted butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla. Blend well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and ginger. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until the ingredients are just combine. Scrape the bowl with a spatula to ensure the  batter is evenly mixed.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop small amounts of batter onto a greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with your hands so the cookies are even. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on parchment or wax paper and allow to cool completely.

To make the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the milk and vanilla and beat well. Gradually add the powdered sugar until the frosting is well mixed.

Spread or pipe the frosting onto the flat side of one of the cookies. Place the flat side of another cookie on the icing and store in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer.

Source: Adapted from Olde Tyme Cooking