Tag Archives: inspiration

My favorite “fancy”, crowd-pleasing cracker spread

Now at the outset, I need to credit my mother with this recipe because it is just absolutely divine. Anytime we would have guests over, she would whip up a quick batch of pesto and create a “wow”-worthy dip with another ingredient always in our kitchen: goat cheese logs.

Most days, I don’t have the time to whip up pesto, so I just grab a small container at the grocery store around the corner. But if you have time, make your own pesto for an even better version of this delicious spread.


  • 1 batch pesto (see below for pesto recipe)
  • 1 log of your favorite plain goat cheese, at cool room temperature
  • basil leaf, for garnish
  • favorite crackers

Press goat cheese into bottom of serving dish to make a thin layer. Spread pesto over goat cheese, completely covering the cheese. Add basil leaf in center of pesto as a garnish. Serve. Receive lots of compliments and silently thank my mother for giving you the easiest appetizer recipe ever. Enjoy!

Annie’s Mom’s Famous Pesto

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 cup walnuts (my mom uses whole walnuts)
  • 1 cup EVOO
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 freshly grated romano cheese

Process first 3 ingredients together until moderately chopped. Add Olive Oil in drizzle while processing, then add cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until use, although I recommend using immediately.

adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook



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My Cookbook Wishlist

I love cookbooks. There’s nothing like opening one and having inspiration and creativity wash over you when you’re trying to come up with new ideas for your family’s table. I am fortunate enough to have amassed a very extensive cookbook collection. So extensive that I can’t keep most of the cookbooks in my apartment because I don’t have enough room. Most of the cookbooks that I have were my grandmothers, so I love pouring over them finding little notes about a particular dish. It’s as if she is reaching out to me with these notes to let me know that she is in the kitchen with me.

Despite the volume of resources in front of me, I can’t help but want for more cookbooks. Each one a source of that magical power that puts the chef in the kitchen with me. Here are the books I am currently craving:
Macarons by Annie Rigg (I found this book last night at a One-Year Anniversary Party for the Anthropologie on State St in Chicago – so fun, but that’s another story. I was totally inspired by the flavor combinations and the artful presentation of the macarons.)
The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser (As an avid reader of the New York Times – I read it almost religiously – I have had my eye on this book since I found out last summer that it was being published. It came out in October of 2010, but Santa didn’t hear my pleas this year, so it made the list.)
Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis (Another Anthro find – I love their book selections – and after flipping through a couple pages, I couldn’t wait to read more. I love hearing the memories associated with particular recipes. It makes the dish so much more special.)
Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan (Dorie makes great French recipes so accessible to the average reader and also encourages improvisation with the recipes themselves based on what is currently in your pantry/refrigerator.)
Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours  by Sarabeth Levine (Breads and Pastries? Yes please!)
Tartine by Elisabeth Pruiett and Chad Robertson (The famous bakery in San Francisco compiled some of their customers and their own favorite recipes complete with gorgeous photos.)
Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson (The more grown-up sister of the above book, Tartine is solely about bread. While I would initially be reading this book more for inspiration, I hope that one day my skills are up to snuff where I can make loaves as pretty as they do.)
The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters (The first cookbook I ever loved was Fanny at Chez Panisse. The Art of Simple Food is a must have for any kitchen – hence why it made the list.)

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SNOW DAY = Baking

Snow Day? Really? I felt like I was 8 years old again. When I got the call that I didn’t have work last Wednesday, I was literally giddy with excitement and anticipation for the day of baking that lie before me. But what oh what to bake?

Thanks to Fresh and Foodie and Smitten Kitchen I settled on vanilla marshmallows, because is there anything better than a cup of hot cocoa after shoveling snow or making snow angels? No…there isn’t.

Home-made marshmallows are a BAH-ZILLION times better than store bought, so if you haven’t ever tried them, you MUST!

Springy, Fluffy Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

The recipe makes about 100 marshmallows, depending on how large you cut the marshmallows (I cut mine into rectangles.)


About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Oil bottom and sides of a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar. I like PAM (so easy) and make sure that you dust the pan very well (so important).
  2. In a large heatproof bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften. (Beware: plain gelatin smells kind of gross as it softens.)
  3. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. (Just like Fresh and Foodie, I don’t have a candy thermometer. 12 minutes was the right amount of time for me as well. Carefully watch the pan to make sure that it doesn’t boil over.) Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
  4. With a mixer (hand-held or stand) beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about 8 to 10 minutes.  (If you’re using a stand mixer, this will take less time — approximately 6 minutes.) (It will start to look like marshmallow fluff.)
  5. In separate medium bowl, beat egg whites until they just hold stiff peaks. (I did this while waiting for the candy mixture to cook. You will need to use separate beaters (or wash the originals) from earlier. If you chose to beat the egg whites while the candy mixture is cooking, make sure to briefly re-beat it before mixing it with the candy/sugar mixture.) Beat whites and vanilla bean into sugar mixture until just combined.
  6. Pour mixture into baking pan and sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top. The marshmallows should be entirely covered (It looks like SNOW!) Let marshmallows rest uncovered at room temperature for at least three hours before cutting.
  7. Run a thin, sharp knife around the pan, loosening the marshmallow. Carefully invert the pan over a cutting board, and using your fingers, start to pull the marshmallow away from the corner of the pan. Work your way across until the entire marshmallow is released from the pan and is on the cutting board. (Beware: this is a messing process!)
  8. Sift more powdered sugar on top of the marshmallows before cutting. Using a greased pizza wheel (or a long knife), cut marshmallow into 1-inch cubes or so. (I opted for 1.5 inch strips.) Return cut marshmallows to the pan and toss with an additional sifted confectioner’s sugar until well coated. Store marshmallows in a sealed container for up to one week.
  9. Enjoy with a yummy mug of hot cocoa (some milk with basic ganache or this recipe from Martha Stewart).


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So this past weekend, I was able to enjoy some relaxation time in Kohler, WI.

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Welcome Back

Yes…I know I said that I would be updating my blog more often. Clearly I failed at that attempt. I’ve been back in the US for a little over 3 months and started work again at the beginning of June for the same company…

But on to the new point of this blog. As I mentioned in one of the much earlier postings, my goal in the UAE was to become a better cook. And while that did happen, it is still an evolving goal. So my thought was that this blog become devoted to all things that I enjoy talking about/thinking about, aka food, travel, life, and random thoughts.

Welcome to the newly renamed Inconsequential Musings.

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