December 31, 2008

Sweet Endings- Cheesecake Tartlettes

While I'm a big fan of holidays in general, New Years Eve has never endeared itself to me. Instead of running around town in uncomfortable shoes, setting all my hopes for the new year on one night of revelry, I prefer to ring in 2009 from my living room with a glass of champagne and this year, a slice of cheesecake. With an eye on my upcoming resolutions (eat healthy, lose weight, ugh so boring) I opted out of a the tall portion of Dorie's Tall and Creamy Cheescake and made tarlettes instead. This one is Meyer Lemon.

Here's Blueberry.
And with the leftover batter, I threw in a Raspberry Ramekin version.

So after you're done raising your glass, how about raising a spoon, and wishing everyone a sweet and happy new year.

December 25, 2008

So Very Nice

I must have been a very good girl this year because I got dinner at Joel Robuchon in my stocking. Six mind blowing courses comprised of some of the most coveted ingredients- black truffles, foie gras, oxtail, and kobe beef. A decadent chocolate dessert featuring dark chocolate shards, chocolate cream, coffee creme brulee, and gold dusted rice krispies all covered in a warm ganache. And then there were the carts- the first one with over 20 varieties of breads and rolls, later a trio of satiny ice creams, and finally, when you think you couldn't possibly eat another bite, a 3 level trolly containing every type of french cookie, marshmallows, and a gorgeous array artisanal chocolates. A meal so inspiring I can't adequately describe it at this time except to say it was a once in a lifetime experience. Being naughty is fun but for a meal that good, it pays to be nice.
Thanks Santa!

December 20, 2008

Kamikaze Cookie Bombs

The holiday season is full force, with the baking, eating, shopping, eating, and did I mention the baking? Until now I've been pawning off my holiday treats on my husbands co-workers but now that he is on vacation, what is a avid baker who is still desperately trying to fit into her skinny jeans to do? With so many cookie recipes to try and my "limited waist availability" situation there was really only one recourse- the neighbors. Lucky for me, some of my dearest friends just happen to live within a 2 block radius of my house. Perfect for sneaking by and making a little sweet-filled deposit on their doorstep at odd hours. Foisting goodies on unsuspecting friends and neighbors is a wonderful holiday tradition to start in your town. If stealth cookie gift bombs are wrong, I don't want to be right!

Almond Cardamom Stars With Orange Icing
adapted from Cooking Light, December 2008
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup almond paste, crumbled
1 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
3 tbsp canola oil

2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp skim milk
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest

Pulse 1 cup sugar, baking soda, cardamon and salt in a food processor until combined. Add almond paste and butter until blended. Combine juice and oil in a separate bowl then slowly add to dough and process until dough forms a ball. Working with half the dough at a time, press dough into a square on plastic wrap. Cover with additinal wrap and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375F. Remove plastic wrap from dough and cut out stars with a cookie cutter. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 6-8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.
Prepare icing by whisking sugar, milk, juice and zest in a small bowl until smooth. Spoon over cookies and chill 1 hour.

Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers
adapted from Ina Garten & Nooschi
1 packaged store bought puff pastry sheets, thawed
2 cups sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 450F. Combine sugar, salt and cinnamon. Using parchment or wax paper, place one sheet of puff pastry over an even layer of the sugar mixture. Sprinkle another layer of sugar on top of the pastry and roll out into a 13x13 inch square, making sure the sugar is pressed evenly into the dough. Fold the sides of the square towards the center so they go halfway to the middle. Fold them again so the two folds meet exactly at the middle of the dough. Then fold 1 half over the other half as though closing a book. You will have 6 layers. Slice dough into 3/8 inch slices and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 6 minutes until the bottoms have turned golden brown, then flip cookies over with a spatula and bake for an additional 2-4 minutes until the tops have carmelized. Transfer to a wire rack to cool

December 17, 2008


Now, I know there is no such thing as "recession proof," but I didn't think we'd hit rock bottom until my chocolate class was canceled due to lack of interest. Lack of interest! In chocolate! Have we sunk so low? Is Armageddon here? Is it time to throw in the spatula (er, towel) and hunker down in the bomb shelter to await imminent destruction?
Rather than admit defeat, I looked to you, the foodie blogosphere, for guidance. And you talked me down off the ledge and gave me Peppermint Bark.

Phew that was a close one! Thank you Leslie, April, Jamie and Jen for your recipes and for showing me all is not lost. Together, we can save ourselves, and the $24 dollars William Sonoma charges for a tin of the stuff, one homemade confection at a time!

Window or Aisle

Remember when flying was fun? When you could show up 30 minutes before your flight, check bags for free, and count on a circumspect turkey sandwich to go with your peanuts on most cross country trips? Well, those days are definitely over friends as air travel has become something akin to a root canal in terms of pain, discomfort, and impact on your wallet size. As much as I was thrilled to have made it home to Florida to celebrate my Mom's wedding, the journey home left me tired, cranky and desperate for a day spent recovering on my couch with a cup of tea and some homemade treats. This week's TWD, Buttery Jam Cookies really fit that bill. Made from ingredients I already had on hand, these soft, cakey cookies are stress-free because they are a cinch to make and ready in no time. Forget all the hustle and bustle of the yuletide rush and take a (tea) time out. And while your relaxing, check out Tuesdays With Dorie to see what my fellow bakers are cooking up this holiday season.

December 8, 2008

Lemon Ginger Sugar Cookies

It's not that I'm lacking in holiday spirit- in fact I have a garage full of decorations waiting to be put up, and a boxful of Christmas cookie cutters ready to go. It's just that I'm headed to Florida this week so I'm putting the holiday frenzy on hold until I get back. Instead of wreaths or snowmen decorated with sprinkles and red hots (which I can't wait to make upon my return) for this weeks' TWD, Grandma's All Occasion Sugar Cookies, I give you Lemon Ginger Slice And Bakes. I added lemon zest to the sugar and a teaspoon of ginger to the flour mixture before chilling, slicing and baking these little lovelies. They are topped with icing made from lemon juice and powdered sugar, and some multicolored sugar crystals. Light and fragrant, the are the perfect cookie to munch while packing for the Sunshine State.

December 7, 2008

Reduce Reuse Recycle

Admittedly, there was a time when I was wasteful. Never a big leftover fan, meals I cooked would often go from table to tupperware to trash, without ever giving a second thought to how much mileage I was getting out of my food. Now that I try to cook every day, I want to try new recipes without spending a fortune on groceries so I've taken to seeking inspiration for meals by rummaging in the fridge rather than trolling the grocery aisles. This year, Thanksgiving leftovers yielded much more than turkey sandwiches- although I sure ate a heck of a lot of those. Leftover filling from my Butternut Squash Turnover appetizer became
Butternut Squash and Mushroom Cous Cous.

Slow cooked turkey stock became an excellent base for Matzo Ball Soup. And, thanks to Nicole at For The Love of Food, leftover pumpkin puree found a new home in a deliciously light Pumpkin Custard.

What's in your fridge that can be re-purposed?

December 3, 2008

Cool Yule Pie

Even though the malls have been playing Jingle Bells for weeks, and Starbucks switched to holiday cups the day after Halloween, we have a strict rule in my house that no Christmas music will be played until Thanksgiving day. Then, its non-stop until New Years Eve! I love Christmas music and have quite a lot of it so picking a favorite song, that would also translate into pie form for December's You Want Pie's With That, was tough. Scanning my itunes library, today desperate for ideas, I started listening to Cool Yule by Louis Armstrong and inspiration finally struck- Cool Yule Chocolate Peppermint Pie! It starts with chocolate wafer cookie crust, a layer of mint chip ice cream, and then topped off with rich dark chocolate ganache. It's like a peppermint patty from your freezer!

Cool Yule Pie
1 package chocolate wafers
2 tbsp melted butter
1 pint mint chip ice cream, softened
5 oz semisweet chocolate pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

Using a food processor (or brute force) grind up chocolate wafers. In a medium bowl, combine with melted butter, then pat into a 9 inch tart pan. Carefully spread softened ice cream over the crust, filling the pan almost to the top. Freeze for at least an hour, until set.

In a medium saucepan, bring heavy cream and salt to a bowl, then pour over chocolate pieces and whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

Using a spatula, spread the ganache over the tart and return to the freezer to set for at least another ten minutes before serving.

December 2, 2008

Lemon Linzer Sables

Cookie season is officially upon us people! After the last leftover turkey sandwich has been eaten and all of the dishes are finally done, it is time to bust out the rolling pins and fire up the Christmas cookie assemble line! Usually I spend a few days poring recipes from my many cooking magazines looking for edible gift ideas. This year I've some extra help from the TWD elves with the cornucopia of cookie recipes that have been selected for December. First on the list, Linzer Sables.

I used hazelnut meal in the cookie dough and filled them with Trader Joe's (highly addictive) lemon curd. The cookies came out light and crisp with a hint of spice and a satisfying zing from the lemon. Definitely a great way to kickoff cookie season!

November 30, 2008

Lighter Side

After a full (really full) weekend of turkey, stuffing, pie, mashed potatoes and more pie, I'm thinking it's time to lighten things up a bit- perhaps some salad days are in order. Like this salad I enjoyed on a recent fall evening during a lovely meal cooked by some even lovelier ladies. We all share passion for good food and wine and I could have sat at that kitchen island all night chatting, drinking white wine, swapping recipes and stories. We began the meal with a salad of manchego cheese and Pears. Simple and seasonal, it was perfect shared with friends in a cozy kitchen on a fall evening. Make it with, or for, your friends.

Green Salad with Manchego and Pears
adapted from Gourmet Magazine, November 2007
1/3 cup green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas; not toasted)**
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
3 tbs Sherry vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp grainy mustard
4 cups packed salad greens
4 cups packed frisée (French curly endive), torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup Shaved Manchego cheese
4 Bartlett pears

Cook seeds in 1 tablespoon oil in a small heavy skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until puffed and beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels and reserve oil. Season seeds with salt and pepper.
Whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add remaining 1/3 cup olive oil and reserved oil from skillet in a slow stream, whisking until emulsified.
Divide greens and cheese among salad plates. Cut off 2 opposite sides of each pear (reserve for another use), leaving a 1/2-inch-thick lengthwise center slice with stem and core. Arrange a pear slice on each plate and drizzle dressing over salads. Sprinkle with seeds.

**When recreating this salad at home, I substituted slices almonds for the pepitas.

November 29, 2008

The Madness That Is... Caramel Cake

Seriously, this month's Daring Bakers challenge Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting should really come with a warning label. A decadent, crazy moist, dense cake infused with caramel syrup- one could easily stop there and have a lovely rich dessert. But no, those envelope pushing Daring Bakers had to take it one step further with not just any butter cream, but one made from copious amounts of browned butter, a pound of powdered sugar, and more caramel syrup! Oh the humanity!

This cake was so rich, even my husband could only handle one slice. It was definitely way sweeter than the desserts I normally make, but the cake itself was outstanding in texture and moistness and truly I could not stop eating it.

Many thanks to Dolores, Alex, Jenny and Natalie for hosting this month. Feeling daring yourself? Try Shuna Fish Lydon's signature caramel cake recipe for yourself. You can find it here. But don't say I didn't warn you.

November 27, 2008

Twofer Tartlettes

My love affair with pumpkin pie goes way back. It was the first pie I had ever made, and was often the one contribution I felt confident making to our holiday feast. The recipe on the back of the Libby's can has never let me down so you can imagine I was more than a little skeptical of this weeks' TWD, Thanksgiving Twofer Pie. A double layer pie with silky pumpkin filling on the bottom and a sticky sweet pecan topping, how would this measure up to the original?
After reading this great article on pie crust, I decided to try an all butter version for the crust. I made the dough with a pastry blender rather than a food processor and it came together easily. I refrigerated overnight, then rolled it out thinly and pressed it into four tartlette shells which I partially baked. The consistency of the crust was very light and flaky, almost like puff pastry. I layered the two fillings and baked them off for about 35 minutes and I must say I was pleasantly surprised with how they came out. That being said, I did feel the pecan layer really overpowered the pumpkin. Good thing I thought ahead and picked up a can of the old faithful, Libby's Pumpkin so I could make a back-up pie. Change can be good but sometimes you just gotta go with what you know.

November 26, 2008

Unwanted Guests

I thought I was so prepared for my first Thanksgiving cooking adventure. Days of recipe research, shopping done early, knives sharpened- a recipe for success. Waking up yesterday morning full of unbridled cooking energy and...I was stopped in my tracks. Ants! Tons of them, pouring into my pantry!! How is this even possible? I had never seen a single ant in my kitchen for over three years and now?! They were even in the blender for pete's sake! A frantic killing spree ensued and panic set in. I hightailed it to the store for ammo and laid the bait outside to lure them out of my kitchen.

After all the excitement my cooking mojo was a little off so I decided to start with something safe, like Cranberry Tangerine Conserve.

A tangy/sweet combination of fresh cranberries, tangerine and ginger, it was a cinch to make and filled my house with smells of the season. By the time those cranberries started popping, I had put the kibosh on the ant attack, and regain my composure. Now I'm ready to kick off this Thanksgiving. Someone hand me an apron!

Cranberry Tangerine Conserve
from Gourmet Magazine November 2008
2 tight-skinned tangerines
3/4 lb fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tsp grated peeled ginger
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar

Peel off a 4 by 1 inch strip of zest from 1 tangerine and scrape of any white pith. Squeeze 1/3 cup of juice from the tangerines. Bring juice, zest and all other ingredients to a boil in a heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Then simmer uncovered until berries have burst, approx. 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Discard zest before serving if desired.

Note: The original recipe also calls for 1/2 cup of golden raisins, which I omitted because I am a cranberry purist.

November 23, 2008

Back In Black (And White)

Normally the end of a show for me is the beginning some much needed rest and recovery. However this road to my winter hiatus started out very bumpy with a week of being displaced from our house due to termite fumigation. Packing and unpacking my spices is an ordeal in itself, much less the pantry, fridge, medicine cabinets, not to mention every toiletry product known to man! Needless to say, I am thrilled to be back in my home, and back in the kitchen.
And I have some new assitants too.

Meet Chessie and Cleo. We made these great Chocolate Crackle Cookies today.

Ok, I made them but they gave me moral support.
Actually they slept through the whole thing.

These cookies were super easy to make, and I already had all of the ingredients in my pantry. Check out the recipe on Montcarte.

November 18, 2008

Please hold while your party is reached

My life has been on hold for a while. For six months it's been a daily routine of work, wait and worry. Work as in 70 hours a week on a brilliant television series coming to its end. Worry, over the economy, the election, but mostly over my sweet Clyde kitty who was diagnosed with lymphoma back in May. And waiting- for election results, my last day of work, for Clyde to let us know he was ready to move on. This blog, and the baking groups within, have helped keep me sane these last few months- providing distraction from my troubles and inspiration to look towards my future goals of getting serious about cooking.

With the mile markers of a rough summer/early fall fading in the distance, my heart feels a little lighter, my spirit higher, the future brighter. I will miss my sweet kitten, and the community of the Boston Legal set. But I welcome the changes ahead- new recipes to try, jobs to experience, kittens to love, and a president who can pronounce nuclear.

November 9, 2008


Clyde the Cat.
I will miss you.

November 4, 2008

TWD Takes Me Back

I spent a good portion of my formative years at my grandparents house, playing gin rummy and listening to big band music. Now Gia (that's what I call my grandmother) has always had a sweet tooth and while she eschewed mainstream goodies like sugary cereal and Oreos, you were sure to find certain staples in her house at all times- Hershey's kisses (only in the fridge), Stella Doro cookies, Entenmann's pound cake, and rugelach from the Publix Bakery. I grew to prefer these mysterious "grown-up" pastries and I wondered, could this week's recipe measure up to the tastes of my childhood?This recipe seriously blew my away! One bite and I was instantly transported back to my grandparents kitchen table. These cookies were rich, but light and flaky at the same time, and not overly sweet. I made half the batch with the traditional apricot jam layer, then added bittersweet chocolate, almonds and cranberries.

The second batch I traded the jam for Nutella and then sprinkled them with more bittersweet chocolate and almonds.

Simpler times in our life tend to disappear as we get older- simple pleasures overshadowed by worry over jobs, the economy, and the health of our family members. The next time I start to fret I think I'll take a breath, put on some Benny Goodman, and make a batch of rugelach. And then maybe quick someone's butt in gin rummy!

October 28, 2008

No Tricks Please

Dear Neighborhood Kids,
I regret to inform you that I will be unable to provide treats for you this Halloween. Perhaps your parents have explained to you the state of our economy at the present time. While all of you little ghosts and goblins are off going door to door this Friday night I will be at work, and as I will be losing my job in just 3 weeks it is imperative that I do so. Please accept these Chocolate Nutella Cupcakes in lieu of Halloween candy. And please refrain from egging my house.
Happy Halloween,
Cinemon Girl

There was a lot of talk (and a lot of math) on the P&Q about the dryness issue of these cupcakes. I added 1 tsp of espresso to the batter, under baked them by about 4 minutes, and then piped in some nutella.

They were not overly most but they were dense and soft and I loved the glaze on top. I was on a tight schedule and had to forgo my grand decorating plans and stuck to a variety of Halloween sprinkles I had laying around.

Have a great Halloween everybody!

October 23, 2008

Waste Not

I should be sleeping. I don't have to be at work until 12pm and won't be getting home before midnight, but I'm up. And it's all Libby's fault- Libby's pumpkin that is. The bag of leftover pumpkin puree from last weeks' Pumpkin Muffins has been calling my name every time I walk by the fridge. I had no choice but to shut it up with a batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies. So much for being well rested. At least when I get tired later on I can eat them to stay awake. Thanks Libby.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies
Adapted from Cara's Cravings
4 tbsp melted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup flour
1/2 cup semisweet mini chips
Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8X8 pan. Beat butter and sugar together until well blended, then slowly beat in he egg, vanilla, salt and spices. Slowly add the flour until incorporated. With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Bake for 25-27 minutes. If using an aluminum pan, bake on a preheated cookie sheet to make sure they will be done all the way through.

October 21, 2008

Fall Is For Pumpkins

Autumn has finally arrived, in its mild fashion, in Southern California. This weekend brought blue skies, a crispness to the air, tons on leaves littering my back yard. It was the perfect time to make this week's TWD, Pumpkin Muffins. I am a big pumpkin fan so I was really looking forward to making these. I decided to forgo the nuts and raisins and instead topped the muffins with the crumple topping from Dorie's recipe for Allspice Crumb Muffins.

The grocery store was strangely out of buttermilk, so I substituted light sour cream. I had enough batter left over to make mini muffins mixed with mini semisweet chocolate chips.

It's time for crisp fall afternoons.
It's time for flannel pajamas.
It's time for pumpkin muffins.

October 20, 2008

Rocking Our Crocks, Stewgate Results

I arrived at work with seconds to spare, Thai Coconut Soup intact. I ran upstairs to our Post Department on the 2nd Floor to drop off my entry, following the scent of our crock meals which thickened the air. Even actors auditioning on the first floor could smell something culinary was happening in the building. I left my crock on low and headed down to stage.

3 Hours later judging commenced and my fellow crockers and I anxiously awaited the results.Well, I didn't win, or place for that matter. But I received positive comments from a few people and there weren't any leftovers to take home. Ultimately, I was happy with results. As a matter of fact, I had enough ingredients left over for a 2nd I'm making some right now! Who knew crock was so addictive!

At The Crock of Dawn...Stewgate Begins

5:30am: The sky is still dark, and I am dragging myself out of bed- a typical Monday morning. Except, I don't have to be at work for 3 hours. I have to crock... Crock pot that is because today is Stewgate, my work's first annual Crock Pot Cook-Off. I have never crocked before and was extremely apprehensive. Not being a fan of stews and pot roasts, I never felt the need for a crock pot and truly found myself at a loss when it came to choosing a suitable recipe. Bowing out of the competition was not an option, they even bought crock pots for those of us without them! After days of research to find a dish that didn't look to me like it had already been eaten (hey, I'm being honest) I finally settled on a Thai Coconut Soup from A Year of CrockPotting. A spicy broth based soup of vegetable stock, coconut milk, lime, siracha, and ginger, this seemed like a recipe I could pull off without poisoning anyone and was something I would actually eat.

7:30am- Soup simmering on low, time to get ready for work. I'll be unplugging the crock for the short drive (man I hope it survives the trip)and then setting it up on my desk to finish cooking before the competition begins...Wish me luck!

October 14, 2008

Coffee Mate

Four years ago I began my first timid forays into the kitchen. I was working on a show that was wayyy into holiday gift giving and I realized the only way I could participate without blowing my bank account was to find a homemade gift that everyone could enjoy. A friend and co-worker, who was already an accomplished baker, suggested we make biscotti. We spent a full 12 hours destroying my kitchen making batches of almond, chocolate chip, and this crazy braided peppermint biscotti and putting them in little holiday bags. People at work loved it and it was such a hit I made them again and again all winter long for my friends and family. Making biscotti was truly my first baking success story. I love my tried and true recipe and was a little nervous to try a new recipe but hey, this is the new, adventurous in the kitchen me! I can change things up, throw caution to the wind, use cornmeal in my biscotti?!
Hooray for embracing change because I loved this recipe. The biscotti was crunchy but not too dry, with a delicate crumbly texture. I made the original almond recipe, modified slightly by using just 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract and 1 teaspoon of vanilla.
Then I mixed sliced almonds into half of the batter, and cranberries and bittersweet chocolate chips in the the other. I did revert back to my old standby recipe on the second bake- reducing the oven temp to 325 and laying them on cut side up for 7 minutes on each side. I later melted some leftover chips and drizzled the chocolate over the cranberry/chip biscotti.

I have grand plans for this recipe this holiday season: pumpkin spice, hazelnut with nutella glaze, white chocolate cherry macaadamia...oh the possibilities! I'm gonna need a lot of those holiday bags!

October 5, 2008

Caramel Temptation

Tragically, having started a (gasp!) diet last Monday, I was more than apprehensive when it came to this week's Tuesday's With Dorie challenge, Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake. Would I be able to control myself with a recipe that is essentially the love child of a cake and a snickers bar? Overcompensating for my inability to indulge, I went a little overboard by making a mini cake exactly like the original recipe, and cupcakes with salted caramel frosting.

They look pretty good right?

Well....I've got to admit I found the cake a little dry. I usually underbake recipes because I prefer a fudgier texture but this cake went from jiggly and underdone to dry and overdone so quickly! I need to try this recipe again to figure out where I went wrong because it should have been fabulous. Even the cupcakes were dry and hardened to a rock-like consistency the second day. The best part of this experience was making the caramel. It took a long time to reach the right amber hue (it was dangerously close to burning when I took it off the heat) but it smelled and tasted terrific. I used half to make the Caramel Peanut Topping and used the rest to make Salted Caramel Frosting similar to the recipe found here.

This frosting is too die for! If it it weren't the the "D" word, I would have eaten straight out the bowl. Well, I did sneak a few spoonfuls- a girl's gotta have a little fun!

September 27, 2008

That's What Ritz Are For

When I told my mom that I was spending a beautiful Saturday afternoon kneading (and kneading and kneading) dough to make homemade crackers, she good naturedly reminded me that they do still sell crackers in the grocery store- love you Mom! I was a little skeptical myself when I saw this month's Daring Bakers challenge was Lavash crackers- I mean all that work when Aisle 7 at Von's teeming with cracker variety? But, that's just the kind of thinking that kept me out of the kitchen for so long and now I'm finding how fun and rewarding it is to make even basic staples, like crackers, yourself. In actuality, this challenge was really simple and so much fun! I opted for the non-gluten free recipe and used whole wheat flour. For the toppings I used kosher salt, dried thyme, and paprika- I also kneaded some of the thyme into the dough.

I was a little conservative when it came to rolling out this dough, the end result was more toasted pita than crispy cracker, but still totally delicious. Next time I will try rolling it out much thinner and baking it on my pizza stone. For the spread, I made a vegan version of Smitten Kitchen's White Bean & Roasted Red Pepper Dip.

It was delicious with the lavash and I love the gorgeous orange/red color! Ritz aside, I loved this challenge and will definitely be making homemade lavash more often. See ya Aisle 7!

White Bean & Roasted Red Pepper Dip
**Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 15oz can white beans
1 cup roasted red pepper, drained
2 cloves of garlic
Juice from one small lemon
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper

Process everything in a food processor or blender until desired consistency.

** I omitted the 3 oz cream cheese from the original recipe to make this dip vegan.