Sunday Food Prep – what went down in my kitchen (11)


Can you believe it’s December 15th already?!

Only 10 more days until Christmas and 2 weeks until it’s 2015.

I can hardly believe it.

Man, this year has FLOWN by!

Of course, just because time flies and I’d like to grab onto it and slow it down doesn’t mean that I can shirk my chores and responsibilities.

Seriously, why isn’t there a loophole?

So, we got out in the yard and raked. So. Many. Leaves.


But, we built a big pile for mulching for my garden in the spring (yay!) and we hauled in another few pounds of pecans.


Did you know that the average pecan tree can yield 40 to 50 POUNDS of pecans?!

I should seriously set up a pecan stand. 🙂

In addition to all the raking, I also got some good food prep going.

I roasted a chicken in my crockpot and then made some homemade chicken stock.


I should have ended up with 8 1-cup portions but I made a mess (oops!) and ended up with 7 1/2 cups. So, I distributed the remaining half among the 7 jars.

I also have some homemade beef stock going. We went to an evening farmer’s and craft market on Friday and I nabbed some marrow bones. On Saturday night, those bones, a T-Bone steak bone, and the leftover bones from a chuck roast all went into a crockpot and have been cooking ever since.

Thank goodness for 2 6-quart crockpots!

I made some quinoa, Lindsay’s Quinoa Breakfast Bars (YUM!!!), and roasted some sweet potatoes.


Seriously, if you have not yet made those breakfast bars, you are totally missing out. I’m kinda addicted to them.

They’re so easy and so delicious! I like to put a little almond butter on mine and have it with a piece of fruit.  🙂

Finally, I chopped up some carrots and red bell peppers for the week next two days. 😉


I was wiped from doing the leaves but by the time 7pm came around, I was pretty pooped.

Ginny helped me feel better by being all warm and snuggly and cute on my lap.


Talk to me: Have you had to rake a lot of leaves this Fall? Do you bag them, burn them, or reuse them as mulch? Any recipe ideas (not Pecan Pie) for all my pecans? 🙂

– jennifer

Sunday morning treats – Cinnamon Pecan buns


Happy weekend!!

happy weekend!

Holy cow, has it been a crazy week!

We’re full on in move prep – the movers show up to start packing in a week!


I can’t believe it’s that soon!

I don’t feel ready.

I know I’m not ready.

My last day at work was Friday – but, now, the real work begins.

We have a week to “de-junk.”

Seriously, we need to learn how not to “junk” to begin with!

The home-buying process is moving along quite nicely and hopefully, we’ll only be “homeless” for a few days.

*fingers crossed*

100 day burpee challenge – day 13!

Have you been keeping up?  I didn’t get my 12 done yesterday.  So, that means I have yesterday’s AND today’s to do.  Um, that’s 25 burpees.  *sigh*

Missing a day SUCKS!

So, I decided today was a cinnamon roll kind of day.

What?  You don’t agree?  Well, you’re missing out. 🙂

I found a recipe for Cinnamon Pecan buns that are absolutely amazing!


These don’t have the traditional icing but, you know what, they don’t need it.

The combination of brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans makes a delicious topping and the icing would be too much.

The bonus about these buns?

They are made without any butter or oil in the dough!

The secret ingredient?

Cottage cheese!


I know!  I didn’t believe it either!  But, it really works – trust me!

AND, these are made without yeast so you can actually make them in less than an hour. 🙂

So, what are you waiting for?


Cinnamon Pecan Buns
makes about 15 buns

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup pecans
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (optional)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the bottom and side of a 10-inch springform pan with half of the melted butter.

2. In a food processor, combine the pecans with the brown sugar, cinnamon and kosher salt; pulse until the nuts are almost finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and sprinkle a scant 3/4 cup over the bottom of the prepared pan. Wipe out the food processor.

3. Add the cottage cheese, buttermilk, egg yolk, granulated sugar, vanilla and orange zest to the processor and puree until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine the 2 1/4 cups of flour with the baking powder, baking soda and fine salt; whisk to mix. Add the flour mixture to the processor and pulse just until the dough comes together; it will be quite soft and sticky.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a smooth ball. *NOTE* They weren’t kidding when they said the dough will be sticky. It is VERY STICKY!!! Make sure you keep the flour handy – you’re going to need it!
Roll out the dough to an 11-by-16-inch rectangle, flouring the work surface as necessary. Brush the dough with the remaining melted butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Sprinkle on the remaining pecan-sugar mixture.

5. Working from a long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder and cut it into 1-inch slices. Arrange the slices cut side up in the prepared pan. Bake the buns in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes, until lightly browned on top and slightly firm to the touch. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

6. Run a knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the buns. Remove the springform ring. Invert the buns onto a plate and carefully remove the bottom of the pan. If any of the pecan mixture sticks to the pan, simply scrape it onto the buns. Serve warm.

Recipe from Food and Wine

Question: What’s your favorite weekend morning treat?

– jennifer

Race report! plus Bacon-Bourbon Brownies. For real.

Marathon Day! I peeked out the window when I woke up to discover … rain. The weather forecasters were right. I was not happy. They’re never right! 40 degrees + rain = not fun. We held out hope that the rain would let up by the time we got out to the start. We prepped our cute, matching race ensembles the night before – hey, we ARE girls!


Well, unfortunately, it never stopped raining. Okay, we had no rain from miles 15-20 but, by that point, who cares? We were already soaked, freezing, and miserable. The race folk had worked quickly and pulled together some “Run for Boston” shirts that they were handing out. It was so cold, we wore them the entire race!


Even though it was raining, people still came out to cheer us on, which was AWESOME! Because we really needed it. And, security was out in full force. We really appreciated that AND the cops were super awesome. They were even cheering us on. I’ve never run a race where the cops were so involved. I wish more were like that!

So, the altitude didn’t kill us but the rain and cold tried to. We weren’t really out for time but we are stoked with our finish. Unofficial time? 4:29:33. We’ll take it!


And, before I blogged at Cooking with JenS, you could find me at The Connoisseur Chronicles. This recipe is from back then. Brownies. With Bacon and Bourbon. You’re welcome. 🙂

Three words. Bacon. Bourbon. Chocolate. All in one dish. Seriously. Thank you Food and Wine Magazine! Bacon-Bourbon Brownies with Pecans. Boy, is that fun to say, or what?! Bacon-Bourbon Brownies with Pecans. Mmmm…..what more could a girl ask for? (Okay, the nerd in me wishes pecans were instead named something that started with the letter “b” – alliteration is so much fun!)

This recipe is from the August 2011 issue of the magazine. Yep, I’ve had this magazine for maybe 4 days and I’m already making recipes out of it! It is seriously packed with delicious sounding grub, this recipe topping the list! AND, you know how we LOVE bacon so it HAD to be done! After all, everything’s better with bacon.

The best thing about these brownies – except for the bacon and bourbon, of course, is that they are from scratch. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some seriously awesome brownie mixes available in your local grocery store – hello Ghirardelli! – but brownies from scratch are just so amazing. They tend to be rich, dense and decadent. Basically, they’re everything a brownie SHOULD be! And these definitely meet that criteria. The bacon adds a saltiness that contrasts the chocolate and the pecans add a crunch that compliments the smooth density of the brownie itself. Really, this is HEAVEN in a bite! Okay, more than one bite and I’ve definitely had more than one brownie so far. Don’t judge me.

Now, I wanted the good, salty stuff for this recipe, so I bought some applewood smoked bacon. YUM! Plus, you have to reserve nearly ¼ cup of bacon grease to add to the recipe and turkey bacon just doesn’t produce that. No, don’t be grossed out – it really adds to the richness of the brownie. And no, this is NOT low-fat. It’s a brownie, for goodness sakes!

Let’s talk about the bourbon. If you like to lick the beaters, you will definitely taste the bourbon in the mix. Mmmmm….just enough to add to the flavor but not enough to make you tipsy. I used Bulleit – a delicious frontier bourbon whiskey in an old-school glass bottle recommended to us by my brother-in-law – thanks Monte! Hope you’re not mad I used two shots for other than drinking! Um, and no, don’t ask me why it’s a “bourbon whiskey”. I used to think they were two different things but, apparently not. And, while we’re on that subject, why the heck is scotch a “scotch whiskey?” Seriously, could alcohol BE any more confusing?! Oh wait….don’t answer that. You, of course, can use the bourbon (whiskey) of your choice.

The bottom line is… bacon, bourbon and chocolate are a divine combination that EVERYONE – especially chocoholics – should try. Recipe’s down there. You’re welcome.

Happy drinking (bourbon), cooking and eating!


Bacon-Bourbon Brownies with Pecans
½ cup pecans
½ pound sliced bacon
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350̊. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on 2 opposite sides. Spray the paper with vegetable spray. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop the nuts.

2. In a skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, turning once, until crisp, about 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels and let cool; reserve 3 tablespoons of the fat. Finely chop the bacon.

3. In a saucepan, combine both chocolates with the butter and stir over very low heat, until melted; scrape into a large bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat in both sugars with the reserved 3 tablespoons bacon fat. Beat in the bourbon. Add the eggs and salt and beat until smooth. Sift the cocoa powder and flour into the bowl and beat until blended.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the bacon and pecans on top. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the brownies are set around the edges but slightly wobbly in the center; a toothpick inserted into the center should have some batter clinging to it. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the brownies cool completely. Lift the brownies out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares or rectangles, serve and do a happy dance.