Adventures of an unfussy foodie.

Pretty Kitten's Kitchen is now at

PKK is Moving!

December 26, 2011

December 20, 2011

Key Lime Muddy Buddies

This page has moved.
Please click here to get the recipe at my new site, PB&J Eats!

December 12, 2011

Easy, Soft Caramels

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Please click here to get the recipe at my new site, PB&J Eats!

December 08, 2011

Chubby Hubby Bars

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Please click here to get the recipe at my new site, PB&J Eats!

December 05, 2011

Tips & Tricks: Beurre Manié

This is, possibly, one of my favorite tricks ever. I'm not really sure why, but I love having it in my back pocket.

So, what exactly is "beurre manié"? Well, it's French; French for "kneaded butter". Traditionally, it's a thickener, much like a roux, but it's added near the end of the cooking process. I make it up and keep it on hand to make my roux (rouxs? Darn the French and their complicated plurals! -- complicated language in general, really...) in a jiffy with no measuring.

Want to make some?

Take a 1/2 c. softened butter (one stick) and mix it briefly but thoroughly l with 1/2 c. flour to make a loose dough or paste. Scrape this mixture onto some plastic wrap, roll into a uniform log, and place in the fridge to firm up. Once firm, cut into 8 equal pieces (easily achieved by cutting in half, cutting the halves in half, and then cutting those quarters in half). Each slice will give you 1 Tbsp. of flour and 1 Tbsp. of butter with which to start your white sauce or gravy.

I stick mine in a ziplock bag and store it in the freezer, then pull out as many as I'll need for a recipe. So, if my recipe asks for 3 Tbsp. butter and 3 Tbsp. flour to make a roux, I toss three pats of beurre manié in there and continue exactly as I would if I had measured out the ingredients individually -- cook until golden and no longer floury-smelling, add liquid, etc.

And if you find your sauce isn't thickening, as I sometimes do, throw in another pat and watch the magic happen -- no clumps, guaranteed! (Be forewarned, though, that this may result in a slightly floury taste, since the flour wasn't cooked.)

This also has great potential to help out a slow-cooker dish that didn't thicken up as much as desired.

Give it a try!

December 03, 2011

Chocolate Shots

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Please click here to get the recipe at my new site, PB&J Eats!

November 30, 2011

The Post-Thanksgiving Post

(This is a little late in the game, I know. But hey, I have a 6-month-old and I'm generally lazy, so basically we're lucky I'm getting around to this before Christmas.)

Still wondering what to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers? If you still have some lingering around, read on.

My mother, bless her, used to make this "everbody-in-the-pool"-style casserole that I have always hated. (Sorry, Mom, but you know it's true.) So I'm usually on the hunt for fun ways to use up leftover turkey. Here are a couple of my favorite ideas, no real recipes required:

Turkey French Dip Sandwiches

1. Inspired by this recipe from Kelsey's Essentials, I made a riff on the traditional French Dip sandwich.

Directions: If you have leftover drippings, heat them up over low heat with a bay leaf and a few peppercorns. No drippings left? No prob, just use turkey or chicken stock instead. Toss in leftover turkey (thinly sliced breast meat is my favorite, but whatever you have will do) and heat with the broth until warmed through. Give the jus a taste and add salt (or not) to taste. Now grab some rolls or buns and some provalone cheese. (Or gruyere, if you've got it, but who has gruyere just lying around? Not I.) If the mood strikes you, feel free to slap the cheese on the rolls and stick them under the broiler until bubbly. Fill the cheesed-up rolled with warm turkey, and fill a ramekin with the jus (do your best to avoid the peppercorns -- don't ask me how I know). You know what to do from here: dunk, devour, repeat!

Thanksgiving Bundles

It's Thanksgiving dinner all wrapped up in a tidy package!

2. Years ago, my best friend, Angie, told me about her favorite meal made by her mom, "Chicken Bundles". The basic idea was that you combined cooked, cubed chicken with cream cheese and some other stuff, stick it in crescent roll dough and bake it up. If you look around at recipes on Pinterest, you'll probably notice that crescent-roll-enrobed dishes are all over the place. Here's my holiday-themed take.

Directions: Preheat the oven to 375º, and get out a sheet pan. Cut leftover turkey into small cubes and grab your leftover stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce, if you like. Release the crescent dough from its cardboard prison and unfurl it. There are typically 8 triangles in each package, but we're going to pinch every two of them together to form 4 rectangles, got it? Good. Layer in your leftovers in whatever order pleases you; I put down some cranberry sauce, then some stuffing, then turkey and a little gravy for moisture. Then gather up the corners of your rectangle and pinch them together, then pinch together the sides to make a tidy little packet (or bundle, if you will) and transfer to the sheet pan we discussed earlier. Stick them in the oven for 15 minutes or so, or until golden brown. While that's going on, heat up more leftover gravy -- it's for on top. Serve up your Thanksgiving Bundles on a bed of leftover mashed potatoes, smothered in gravy. And if you have some, a side of leftover green bean casserole would round things out nicely.

Some other standbys: Turkey Noodle Soup, Turkey Pot Pie, Turkey Tetrazzini, Turkey Sandwiches, etc.

Just don't ask me what to do with your leftover yams, because... yuck.

Happy leftovering!

November 15, 2011

November 14, 2011

PSA: Two Ingredient Eggnog Ice Cream

I'm not a big fan of eggnog, but if YOU are, head over to The Busy Bean and check out my friend, Colleen's, latest post. You won't be disappointed. :)

In other news: I have a new recipe to share with you tomorrow. Don't forget to check back!

November 11, 2011

Pantry Meals: Easy Polenta Parmesan

I've always found it kind of funny that things like Chicken Parmesan sometimes don't even have Parmesan cheese in them at all, or if they do, it's certainly not the star. Why is that?

Don't get me wrong. I love me some gooey mozzarella or provalone, I just don't get what's with the misnomer.

Misnomed or not, I love this dish I discovered years ago via a Robin Miller cookbook my mother had lying around. I think my favorite part about it is that I can always have the ingredients on hand -- and there are really only three ingredients. I mean, this is barely even a recipe!

As a bonus, it's vegetarian. I like to step away from the meat at least a couple of nights a week, so this is perfect. And if you're not familiar with polenta, this is a great, simple introduction -- it's soft and satisfying and hearty without being heavy.

I can bang this out on nights when thinking about dinner exhausts me (and since the arrival of our little man, this is a state in which I find myself frequently). It comes together in roughly 10 minutes, making it a great thing to have in your back pocket during the crazy holiday season, when time and energy are at a premium.

Easy Polenta Parmesan

Prepared polenta, plain or in the flavor of your choice (you can usually find this in the produce section of the grocery store -- if not there, then try the pasta aisle)
Your favorite jarred marinara sauce
Shredded mozzarella cheese (or an Italian cheese blend)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice polenta into 1/2" discs. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil into a frying pan, and set over medium-high heat. Season discs with salt and pepper and set in pan. Let toast for a minute or two until the gets a little color, then flip and let toast on the other side.

Transfer toasted polenta into greased baking dish in one layer. Top each one with a spoonful of marinara. Sprinkle with cheese, and set under the broiler until cheese is browned and bubbly.

OR You can skip the step of toasting the polenta if you like, but in that case I would bake it at 350º for about 20 -30 minutes to warm the polenta through. It's good either way. If you broil it, it's done a bit faster but you use more dishes. If you bake it, it takes a bit longer, but is less work. Only YOU can decide which method will work best for you -- and/or prevent forest fires.

Serve with steamed broccoli or a salad.

November 08, 2011

Plum Buckle

Crisps, cobblers, buckles, grunts, pan dowdies, brown bettys -- some desserts are endearing by virtue of their names alone! But this particular dessert has a very special place in my heart, as it is an old family recipe.

My mother used to transform the tart plums that grew on the tree in our yard by baking them up in this delicious cakey confection. And when she would make it in the dutch oven... Good. Gravy. It's marvelous!

Despite the fact that these are quite possibly the worst pictures to accompany a post on this site, I still think it would be well worth your while to give this recipe a try.

Plum Buckle


for the batter
2/3 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3 c. flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. milk
7 c. sliced red plums -- the tarter (more tart?) the better, in my opinion

for the topping
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon

For batter, cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and mix until well combined. In a separate bowl, toss together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with the milk until everyone's in the pool.

For topping, cut together all ingredients (with a fork or pastry cutter) until well combined.

Place plums in bottom of greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Cover with batter mixture. Drop topping by teaspoons over the top. Bake at 350º for 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm -- and don't forget the vanilla ice cream! :)

September 30, 2011

Moving house


So, do me a quick favor:

Click on my blog header.
Now back to me.
Now take a gander at your address bar.
Now BACK to me.
What do you see there?
It's my new URL --!

As my husband, the wee man cub and I are moving from Utah to Oregon this weekend, it seemed appropriate for my little blog to move house, too! So here we are, all settled. (I cannot tell you how much I wish physically moving house was this simple...)

If you want to update your bookmarks, please do! If you don't care, I'm told that my old URL should automatically redirect. (Please let me know if it doesn't! Though, come to think of it, if it doesn't redirect, you probably won't make it to this new site, and therefore won't see this post... So... yeah.)

Once we have our household unpacked, I hope to get back to posting more regularly. Man has it ever been a crazy year! I'm excited to get back on track!

See you soon, friends!


August 24, 2011

Frozen Treats to Try

Hurry! The summer's almost over! Grab your ice cream machine and get cracking on those ice cream recipes you've been dying to try. Because the interwebs are full of them, and every time you see a new one your mouth waters and you can't. stop. thinking. about. ICE CREAM!

What's that you say? You don't have an ice cream maker?


Me neither.


But I have the solution: Give one of these easy recipes a try -- no fancy schmancy machinery required!

1. Peanut Butter Oreo Ice Cream Pie from Kevin & Amanda

I think the name says it all. I see no possibility of this not being awesome.

2. Frozen Banana Split Squares from Our Best Bites

I've become a little obsessed with banana splits in the past year or so, so this simple dessert has my name written all over it. Plus, I can think of a hundred ways to change this up.

3. Frozen Eton Mess from Seven Spoons

Eton Mess is described as berries and cream over meringue cookies. {Yes please!} This recipe adds some tangy lemon curd and transforms Eton Mess into a delightfully icy confection. I've been wanting to try this dessert for while now.

Any easy icy treats you're swooning over this summer? Leave a comment!

August 17, 2011

Speaking of...

My last post was about the trend of food trucks. And while we're on the subject, I have to ask:

Am I the only person who is sick to death of the cupcake fad?

Please say no!

July 20, 2011

Local Flavor: Chow Truck

Due to the fact that I just had surgery and recently had a baby, I've been kicking back this summer and generally being lazy. This has given me the opportunity to get intimately reacquainted with the television.  For example, had I not been laid up, I might not have watched an entire season of Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race.

Food trucks are such a fun trend! And I've been meaning to try Salt Lake City's own Chow Truck for quite some time. So when my mom suggested we make an outing this afternoon to give it a try, I was all for it.

Off we went, babe in tow, on a culinary adventure!

I got the Coconut Lemongrass Chicken Taco and Mom got the Spicy Beef Taco with Cilantro Chile Pesto. We split an order of the Asian Spiced Root Chips.

And I've got to tell you...

It was fantastic. The root chips were fun and out of the ordinary. The chicken was full of yummy-yet-subtle lemony/coconutty flavor, which was complemented nicely by the Asian slaw served on top. And, though I didn't taste it myself, my mom loved the spicy beef, which we were told is one of their best-sellers.

The verdict: If you're a SLC local (or happen to be in town for a spell) and interested in trying something new, seek out the Chow Truck.

Now that I've had a little taste of the food truck scene, I'm hungry for more. Anyone know of other local SLC food trucks? How about in other locales? Leave a comment about your favorite food truck fare!

July 10, 2011

Important Introductions

It's been a while since I came here to share with you, and a lot of things have changed for me in that time. The most important change has been a certain little someone I'm anxious to introduce.

Presenting... baby Bryce!

He is absolutely the most amazing thing I've ever made from scratch!

Pregnancy and other health complications have seriously put a wrench in the blogging works, but I hope to be back up and blogging regularly again in the near future.

Thanks to those of you who are still stopping by!

April 20, 2011

Ridiculously Low-Fat Hummus

I am living a ridiculously low-fat life right now. (Doctor mandated.)
Sometimes it makes me sad, but I'm appreciating that fact that it forces me to explore food in a way I haven't looked at it before. This won't last forever, but I am learning a lot about how to lighten up my diet in a way that is still satisfying.

I will admit that I am not always successful at making my lighter diet satisfying. But sometimes I'm really impressed with the results.

As with this recipe for hummus.

I think of hummus as a healthy food to begin with. I mean, chick peas, olive oil, sesame paste -- nothing too ominous here. But combine the healthy fats in the olive oil and tahini with the addictive nature of hummus (okay, and the pita chips)... and, well, it adds up fast.

This even lighter version of traditional hummus replaces almost all of the oil and sesame paste with nonfat Greek yogurt. I added a dash of sesame oil to replace some of that tahini taste. This was also super simple to whip up, so give it a try!

Ridiculously Low-Fat Hummus
{Inspired by this and this}
(Sorry, no picture yet, but I'm sure you've seen hummus and know what it looks like.)

1, 15 oz. can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. nonfat Greek yogurt (I used Fage brand)
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried dill
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

In the bowl of your food processor, pulse chick peas, spices, sesame oil and lemon juice until fairly smooth. Add in yogurt and continue to process until smooth (or as smooth as you like it). Add salt and pepper to taste.
Scrape into an airtight container and chill for at least an hour to let flavors marry. Then eat it. With whatever you can find. Like a shovel. ;)

Coming soon: variations on this theme to include roasted red pepper and/or roasted garlic. (Yum!)

March 02, 2011

Tips and Tricks: Quick Baking Substitutions

I am really a baker at heart. I love to cook dinner most every night, and breakfast when time and occasion permit, but my heart belongs to cakes and breads and (to a lesser extent) cookies. {Oh my!}

Still, there is no more frustrating facet of baking than finding out halfway through whipping up a recipe that you don't have the fancier ingredients on hand. I cannot tell you how many times this has happened to me. Or how about this: I don't have the pantry space to store 5 different kinds of flour, nor am I interested in buying a whole bag of self-rising flour for just one recipe I rarely make, no matter how spectacular. I'm just not that dedicated, I guess...

Below I've listed a few handy substitutions you can use in a pinch using ingredients pretty much everyone always has in the cupboard:

  • 1 c. cake flour = 3/4 c. all-purpose flour + 2 Tbsp. corn starch

  • 1 c. self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour + 1/4 teaspoon salt + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 2 c. pastry flour = 1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour + 2/3 c. cake flour (see above)

  • superfine/casters sugar = granulated white sugar put through a food processor until very fine (superfine, if you will)

  • 1 c. buttermilk = 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar + enough milk to make 1 c. of liquid

  • 1 c. whole milk = 1/2 c. evaporated milk + 1/2 c. water (might taste a tiny bit off, but once it's baked into your cake you won't know the difference)

Do you have any handy tips for substitutions in baking? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

February 14, 2011

Black Forest Truffle Tart

Happy Valentine's Day, dear readers!

I'll admit, I'm not really a huge fan of this holiday -- all the forced romantic stuff kind of takes the actual romance out of things. But it is a good day to eat chocolate, no matter what your romantic situation might be. Personally, I will take any excuse I can get. And if you're combining chocolate with cherries, I'll come running!

Random side note: My love for cherry pie filling is practically legendary. For the longest time I thought I liked cheesecake, but then I discovered that without the cherry pie filling it really wasn't my thing. (My thighs thanked me for this realization.)

I originally found this recipe on Foodie With Family in the summer and I have been drooling over it ever since. I was so excited to finally make it this weekend! It is truly fabulous, though extremely rich. My favorite part: only 5 ingredients and NO BAKING REQUIRED. That's right. That's what I said.

This is a great dessert that doesn't take much time or effort to make, so if you haven't yet planned something for a special (or not-so-special) dinner tonight, I highly recommend. And to make it even easier, you can buy a pre-made oreo crust if you're so inclined. I won't judge.

Black Forest Truffle Tart

15 oreo cookies, finely crushed
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
12 oz. chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate to cut the richness a bit)
2 c. cherry pie filling

Combine crushed cookies with melted butter until well coated. Press firmly into a 9" tart pan or pie plate. Set aside. (I put mine in the fridge to firm up.)

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate chips and heavy cream. Microwave for one minute on high, then whisk or stir with a fork. The chocolate chips should melt into the cream, creating a smooth chocolatey liquid. If needed, microwave longer in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until a smooth consistency can be reached. Place cream mixture (ganache) and your whisk in the fridge. Every fifteen minutes or so, open up the fridge and give it a stir. After 45 minutes to an hour, the mixture should start to thicken and be cool throughout.

At this point, transfer the ganache mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the wire whip attachment, whip until light in color and fluffy. (Note: This will not take very long at all. Don't over-whip -- this will make butter.) Gently spread in prepared tart pan or pie plate. Top with cherry pie filling and refrigerate 30 minutes, or until ready to serve.

We didn't feel it needed any whipped cream, but if you want some, I can support that decision. Vanilla ice cream might be good, too. (I also drizzled mine with chocolate syrup [Hersheys], so if you have some on hand, go ahead. I think it added a little flair.)

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February 10, 2011

Tips and Tricks: Ziplock Steam Bags

I love steamed veggies, particularly broccoli, but I hate to haul out my big pot with the steamer basket for a side dish that should be considerably simpler. Or maybe my big pot is otherwise occupied making pasta, etc. Either way, I was thinking there had to be some way to make steamed veggies like I could make on my stovetop without having to add extra water to the mix, thereby washing away many of the nutrients left intact by steaming.

One day I happened upon Ziploc "Zip 'n' Steam" bags at the grocery store, and I thought they looked like they might be worth a try (my distaste for the use of 'n' not withstanding -- really, is it so hard to just say "and"??). So I tried them.

It was love.

Just prep your veggies and stick them in the bag (along with some salt, if you like) and microwave them for the amount of time on the handy dandy chart on the bag. No need to add water, just seal and zap and you're in business.

I'm not getting paid by Ziploc to say these things (though I wouldn't object... and you're welcome for the free advertising and stuff, SC Johnson); This is a product I legitimately love and hope you will find helpful. So try them out and tell me what you think.

(I'll also mention that hubby and I washed and reused these several times each before sending them to the recycling bin. They are quite durable, so if you don't mind the little extra work involved in washing them, you can stretch your dollar even further by reusing them a few times.)

Do you have any handy items you use in the kitchen to make things quicker without sacrificing quality? Leave a comment!

February 03, 2011

Delicious Dill Dip

I had planned this post as a pre-New Years post to give you some party ideas. Obviously, that didn't happen. But maybe you're throwing a (Superbowl) party sometime soon, or need an appetizer to bring to a potluck... Or you can just tuck this in your back pocket and pull it out when you need it. I'm pretty sure it will come in handy at some point.

There are a lot of snack foods out there, so maybe a veggie tray with a simple dip seems boring. I disagree.

My mother is famous for her veggie trays, and I've had lots of practice watching her create them (not to mention all the practice I've had eating them). Her veggie tray is one of the first things to go at family gatherings. There's something timeless about the wholesome goodness of veggies and dip that never fails to satisfy a wide variety of people. Plus, how can you pass up the virtues of this kind of snack over those fried chicken wings slathered in blue cheese dressing.

Providing so much bang for your buck, and requiring not much effort at all, a great dip can be the life of the party. Just throw this together the night before, arrange your veggies on the tray, and watch as your friends go crazy.

To make things extra easy on yourself, buy an already-assembled veggie tray at the grocery store. Supplement it with tiny dill pickles and black olives, or any other bite-size bits that you like with dip. This would even be great with potato chips, fries, or breadsticks.

I promise very few leftovers.

Delicious Dill Dip

8 oz. light sour cream
1-2 green onions, sliced
1 Tbsp. dried dill
3 heaping teaspoons Bon Appetit seasoning (McCormick)
8 oz. Best Foods light mayonnaise (yes, it must be Best Foods)

Combine all ingredients and let marry overnight. Serve with veggies.

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