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Grilled Cheese, in the style of Commonwealth November 30, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, quick meal, vegetarian.
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grilled cheese

Commonwealth is a small coffee shop that opened in downtown Birmingham a few months back.  By all accounts, their coffee is phenomenal, but having never been a coffee drinker (I think I’ve tried coffee once in my life), I cannot comment.  I can tell you, however, that their grilled cheese is DELICIOUS.  Ryan ate there for lunch one day, and couldn’t stop talking about the grilled cheese until we went there together so I could try it for myself.

They serve the grilled cheese on thick, soft-but-toasted bread, with at least three different cheeses inside.  We don’t know for sure, but think Boursin might be one of them.  There’s definitely grilled halloumi, and some sort of melty white cheese tying it all together.  It comes with a little cup of tomato soup, and it costs $9.  It’s worth the money, but considering we don’t leave around the corner, and the fact that two grilled cheeses costs about $20, we decided to make our own version, which I dare say comes verrrrry close to the deliciousness of the Commonwealth grilled cheese.  I served it alongside the best tomato soup ever, and it was a meal that I wished I could eat again and again and again and again.

Warning: this is not the healthiest thing I’ve ever posted on this blog.  But it’s worth it!

Grilled Cheese with Boursin, Halloumi, and Muenster

grilled cheese

4 slices of bread (we used Trader Joe’s sourdough)
A little bit of butter
1/2 block of halloumi
Boursin cheese
2 slices of muenster cheese

You’ll want to grill your halloumi first.   Cut it into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices and grill it either on a grill pan, or just in a skillet.  You don’t need to spray or oil the pan before putting the cheese on it.  It has plenty of oil in it to cook properly!

Once that is done, assemble the sandwich using Boursin cheese as a spread on both piece of bread.  Layer the halloumi on one slice, muenster on the other, sandwich together, butter the outsides, and grill it up!

Banana Muffins with a Crumb Topping November 27, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in breakfast, dessert.
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banana muffins with crumb topping

Sometimes, Ryan has to be at work at 7am.  When that happens, I wake up at 6am with him and make us both lunches for the day. When he leaves for work, I usually do one of three things:

1.  Go back to sleep for an hour

2. Clean the house

3. Go to the gym

Last week, I changed it up a little and decided that I’d bake a batch of banana muffins before the sun came up.  I put up my favorite Clipse album , pulled out all of my of baking ingredients, and in 30 minutes time, I had a nice warm batch of banana muffins to take to work.

I’ve made quite a few baked goods for my co-workers over the years but these muffins were perhaps one of the most loved.  Never before have I received so many thank-you emails.  The tray was empty in less than twenty minutes!  They were really, really good, and really, really easy.  Next time I have a few over-ripe bananas sitting around, these will be the first thing I make.

Banana Muffins with a Crumb Topping

banana muffins

1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 ripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted

For the crumb topping:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tablespoon cold butter


Pre-heat the oven to 375F and line 12 muffin tins with baking papers (cupcake wrappers).

Mix the first four dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) together in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix together the bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter.  Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until they are just mixed.

For the topping–mix together all ingredients except butter.  Cut the cold butter into small cubes and then mix it in to the dry ingredients.  It’s easiest to do this with clean hands.  It should resemble coarse sand when you are done.

Fill the lined muffin tins about 1/2 to 2/3 full.  Top each one with a sprinkling of the crumb topping.  Bake at 375F for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Try not to over-bake!

Makes a dozen muffins.

Getting Fresh: Root Veggie Shepherd’s Pie November 23, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, good for a group, vegetarian.
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root vegetable shepherd's pie

Hello!  My second food column is up at the Ferndale Patch.  Just click on the link or the photo above to see a recipe and write-up for a root vegetable shepherd’s pie.  It’s delicious!

Peanut Butter Cup Cake November 13, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dessert.
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peanut butter cup cake
Happy birthday to Ryan!  Although he looks a decade younger, my husband has turned the big 3-1.  I wanted to make him a birthday cake for a celebration with our families, and decided on his favorite flavor combo, peanut butter and chocolate.  Who doesn’t like PB & C?  It’s delicious!  And so was this cake.  Three layers of chocolate-y, peanut buttery decadent delicious cake.  The first layer is a 9″ chocolate cake spiked with peanut butter chips; the second  layer is a thick layer of peanut butter frosting; the third layer topped it all off with a chocolate ganache.  It’s easier than it looks, though it take some time with the making, cooling, frosting, cooling, topping, and cooling some more.  Totally worth it.

Peanut Butter Cup Cake
(From That’s My Home, prize-winning recipe from Lisa Robertson)
(Printable Recipe)


1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup peanut-butter morsels

Peanut Butter Layer:

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream


1. For cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 9-inch round cake pan. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixer bowl. Add milk, water, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla; blend until moistened. Beat for 2 minutes. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with the peanut-butter morsels. Bake for 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

2. For peanut-butter layer, in a medium mixing bowl, place peanut butter, butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Mix until combined. Sift in powdered sugar. Mix well. Spread mixture on top of cake (I did this using a small spatula). Refrigerate 30 minutes.

3. For ganache, heat cream in a small saucepan to boiling; remove from heat. Add chocolate chips; let stand 5 minutes. Stir, then refrigerate for 30 or until mixture is spreadable. Spread on top and sides of cake.

Getting Fresh: Check it Out! November 12, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in bread, dessert, vegetarian.
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pumpkin scones

My first monthly column for the just-launched Ferndale Patch site is up!   Each month, I’ll be posting a recipe along with step-by-step photos and information on where you can locate the ingredients in Ferndale grocery stores. My first entry is for delicious pumpkin scones with a double glaze–check it out by clicking on the link or the image above.

Roasted Root Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese November 8, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, good for a group, vegetarian.
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root vegetables

I had a rutabaga sitting on my kitchen counter for almost two weeks.  A friend had made rutabaga chips with curried mayo at our recent Cooking Club, and I bought the rutabaga with the intention of making chips out of it, but as the days and weeks passed, I knew I just had to use it up or it’d go bad.  Same with the parsnip slowly losing it’s crisp in my fridge.  It was now or never for these guys.  I threw together a macaroni and cheese, subbing cubed and roasted root vegetables for half of the pasta.  The result was a nice smoky, savory dish with the earthiness of the vegetables nicely balanced by the creaminess of the melted cheese.  Top it with a little hot sauce, and it was outstanding.

Roasted Root Vegetable Macaroni & Cheese

root vegetable mac & cheese

2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
8 oz dried pasta
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mix of swiss, Gruyère, and cheddar)
2 cups reduced fat milk
3 tablespoons flour
1 small onion
Salt & pepper
Smoked paprika (optional, could sub cayenne pepper)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese


Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Start by roasting your vegetables.  Peel and cube all of the veggies you are using.  I used parsnip, rutabaga, and carrot, but you could also use celery root, sweet potato, squash, or other winter vegetables. Cut them up into even-sized pieces.

diced vegetables

At this point, they looked like cheese cubes, and I kind of wished they were.

Put them in a large roasting pan, stir in a tablespoon or two of olive oil, liberally sprinkle with salt and pepper, and put them in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until tender.  You’ll want to stir them up about halfway through the cooking time.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil your pasta when it is ready, just until it is al dente.

While the water is coming to a boil, start your cheese sauce.  Dice an onion, and saute it in 1 tablespoon of butter for about 5 minutes.  When it is soft, add the flour to the pan and stir it up.  Slowly add the milk, whisking the whole time.  Reduce heat to low, and keep it warm, stirring occasionally.  After you put the pasta in the boiling water, add the cheese to the saucepan with the milk, onion, and flour.  Stir the cheese in slowly.  Add your spices now, too.  Salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cayenne, thyme–anything you might like.

When everything is ready, drain the pasta, and add it to a large casserole dish along with the roasted vegetables.

Pour the cheese sauce on top, stir it up, and top with breadcrumbs and parmesan. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until the top has started to turn golden brown.

Soy Ginger Turkey Burger November 5, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in BBQ, dinner, meat.
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I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog for 6 months and haven’t yet posted the recipe for our much-loved turkey burger!!  This turkey burger has been hugely popular whenever we make it, and although I cannot vouch for it myself (being a vegetarian), I have heard enough people rave about it to know that this recipe is a keeper.  The ingredients list might seem strange but just trust me on this one–orange juice and soy sauce go together better than you could’ve ever imagined.  Ryan and I make this together–I prepare the mixing bowl with all of the ingredients that go into the turkey burger, then he mixes in the meat and grills the burgers to perfection while I make myself a veggie burger.  It’s nice teamwork.  🙂

Soy Ginger Turkey Burger

turkey burger

16 oz. ground mixed turkey
3 tablespoons no-pulp orange juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 scallions, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste


Thoroughly mix all ingredients except turkey in a large bowl.  Mix in the turkey.  Form the meat into four even-sized patties, and grill over medium-high heat until the middle of the burgers reach at least 165F. 

Gnocchi with Shiitake Spinach Cream Sauce November 2, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in dinner, quick meal, vegetarian.
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Sometimes, the best meals come from raiding the fridge and throwing a bunch of odds-and-ends together.  That’s how this meal was born, and WOW was it good.  Comfort food to the max (stick-to-your-ribs potatoes and cream!) but if comfort food isn’t appropriate on a chilly fall night, then I don’t know when it is. Plus, I used half-and-half instead of heavy cream and threw in a cup or so of chopped spinach at the last second, so those were my concessions toward healthy cooking for this recipe.

Ryan said this one’s going on the menu for sure—the ever-growing list of recipes that we’d serve at the restaurant we’re opening only in our imagination.  I would have to concur.

Gnocchi with Shiitake Spinach Cream Sauce
(Printable Recipe)

mushroom gnocchi


1 package potato gnocchi (I had a package of mini-gnocchi in my pantry that were great in this)
4-6 oz. shiitake mushrooms
1 1/4 cup vegetable broth, warmed
1/2 tbl butter
1 shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup parmesan
1 cup chopped fresh spinach (or just a few handfuls)


Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes. Add the shiitake mushrooms and saute another 3 minutes.  Add 1 cup warm vegetable broth and simmer at medium-high heat until it is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

mushroom sauce

Add the half-and-half and parmesan and simmer until it thickens, about 2-4 minutes. Add a cup of chopped spinach toward the end of the cooking time.

creamy mushroom sauce

While the vegetable broth is simmering, prepare your gnocchi in a separate saute pan.  Add a little olive oil, and 1/4 cup vegetable broth.  Cover, and steam over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.  Remove the cover and saute, stirring frequently, until the broth has evaporated and the gnocchi start to crisp on the outside.

When both pans are done, combine them, serve, and eat!

Spiced Cashews November 1, 2010

Posted by Angela @ Making Food for Friends in appetizers, vegetarian.

Everyone has one recipe that people ALWAYS ask for, without fail.  Mine is a hand-me-down from my aunt.  My aunt first made these spiced cashews a few years back at a holiday gathering and they have quickly become the most-requested recipe in our family. The beauty of these cashews is two fold. First, they are addictively delicious. Second, they take literally minutes to make.  I’ve gone home at lunch, made a batch of cashews, and brought them back to work twenty minutes later, still warm and toasty with spices.  They keep for days, too.  Sure, they are great right out of the oven, but they are just as good as a snack a few days later, provided you keep them in a Ziploc or some  sort of air-tight container.  Bring a batch to your next gathering and you will have many happy friends. Promise.

Spiced Cashews
(Printable Recipe)

spiced cashews

1 lb. roasted cashews
2 tbl minced fresh rosemary leaves (it’s best not to try this with dried rosemary–get some fresh sprigs–I usually use at least 3 sprigs)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tbl kosher salt (leave this out if you use salted roasted cashews)
1 tbl unsalted butter, melted


Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Gather your ingredients!

spiced cashew ingredients

Spread the cashews out in a single layer on a large baking sheet and toast in the oven until warm, no more than 5 minutes.  Watch, they burn quickly!

While the cashews are toasting, prepare your spiced butter by melting a tablespoon of butter in the microwave and mixing the melted butter with the cayenne, rosemary, and brown sugar.

spiced cashew ingredients

Toss the warm cashews in the spiced butter.  I find it’s best to put the cashews into the bowl with the spiced butter and stir with a spatula, constantly scraping the sides to make sure all of the butter gets on the cashews.  You don’t want to leave any of this behind!  You can eat them immediately, or save them in an air-tight container for up to a week.

spiced cashews