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Pear & Honey Coffee Cake

A while back, Pete requested coffee cake as an addition to my baking to-do list. As an idea that celebrated the addition to our kitchen of a bundt pan and a glass cake stand as well as making something that benefits my coffee habit, it quickly took precedent over nearly everything else on the list (which is surprisingly long for a three-week old food blog.)

I found this recipe, admittedly, crouched over a pile of cookbooks in Barnes & Noble with a pen and paper sitting next to me. I fully support the cookbook industry (or the book industry in general), but c’mon…$40 for a handful of recipes? So in the bag this one went, along with about five others and a photo of the inscription in Martha Stewart Cupcakes (because it’s awesome.)

I did, originally, intend on using apples, but then I found these pretty little pears in the grocery store on the way home and, being sucker for anything that looks good, I switched directions. For the nuts, I literally just emptied our cabinets of three nearly-empty bags of walnuts, pecans and almond slivers, all of which tasted great toasted and paired with, uh, pear. The glaze drizzled on top makes this cake extra-moist, and although I didn’t have any on hand, I imagine it’s probably delicious with vanilla ice cream on the side (as are most things with ice cream on the side.)


(adapted from Farmers’ Market Desserts)

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup oil

½ cup canned pumpkin

1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar

¼ cup buttermilk (or ¼ cup milk mixed with 1 teaspoon vinegar)

¼ cup honey

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups pears, cored and diced (about 3 pears)

1 cup toasted nuts

½ cup apple cider

½ cup honey

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place nuts on baking sheet in oven and toast for about 15 minutes. Dice and chop pears into ¼ inch pieces.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together sugar, oil, pumpkin, honey, eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture. Fold in pears and toasted nuts.

Pour mixture into greased and floured bundt pan. Bake in over for 45 minutes, or until cooked fully through (check with toothpick.) Let cool for 20 minutes before inverting onto plate.

While cooling, melt butter, apple cider and honey in a small saucepan. Boil until reduced to about ½ cup. Poke small holes in top of bundt cake and pour glaze over top until it begins to sink through.


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Strawberry Ricotta Pancakes

“A pancake before its time just isn’t a pancake.”

My ever-eloquent father waxes poetic on the patience and attentiveness required to whip up a proper flapjack breakfast. Seeing as though neither of these skills is particularly engrained in my (otherwise diligent, efficient, infallible) character, I let him play Master Chef for the morning and read a book instead. So I suppose I can really only take half the credit for making these, having sliced strawberries, thrown together a batter and plopped myself in an armchair for the rest. A proper brunch is a relaxed brunch!

The original recipe called for significantly smaller amounts of milk and ricotta but the batter became far too lumpy and viscous to do any sort of pancake-y things, like, say, pouring. After nearly doubling the milk and adding a few more strawberries for good luck, good measure, etc, we had an appropriately runny batter that formed into nice little splats in the frying pan.

“Wait ‘til you see holes forming in the top—that’s when you know they’re really cooking.” Thanks Dad! Always appreciative of a good, if obvious, play-by-play. They did indeed bubble and they did indeed cook and any apprehension you may have initially had upon hearing “cheese” and “pancake” in the same recipe would have immediately been rescinded upon first bite. Beautiful! Not so much fluffy as creamy (re: ricotta) and just the right amount of sweet to let the strawberries take center stage. As they should.


(adapted from Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 tablespoons melted butter

¾ cup ricotta cheese

1 ¼ cup milk

1 egg

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup thinly sliced strawberries

Sift dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together butter, cheese, milk, egg, lemon zest and vanilla. Gradually beat into dry mixture. Stir in strawberries. Melt a pat of butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Pour ½ cup of batter onto pan, cook on each side about five minutes. Serve with as much fresh fruit as you can find!


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Cranberry Pecan Scones

There really was no rhyme or reason to making these scones other than taking advantage of the scone baking tray at my parent’s house and giving my mom something to snack on while she’s at work (because I’m the better daughter.) Also, cranberries are pretty.

I will not pretend that I didn’t choose this recipe for its surprising lack of butter (running on the ideology that anything typically paired with coffee is essentially all-butter.) I rummaged through our cabinets and found a bulk bag of pecans all but begging to be toasted and threw them in with a heap of the berries and the zest of an orange (which I then ate.) The result being an awfully hearty scone, perfectly timed to go with an afternoon cup of coffee.

The orange zest/juice is a nice addition, punching up an otherwise boring recipe with enough citrus to make the non-cranberry-pecan bit actually taste like something. Thinking back, cinnamon might also make a nice addition, but, you know, don’t go too crazy!


(Adapted from Taste of Home)

2 cups flour

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup cold butter

1 egg

6 tablespoons orange juice

1 ½ teaspoons grated orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ cup dried cranberries

¾ cup chopped and toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chopped pecans on a small baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes.

Combine first five ingredients in medium mixing bowl. Cut butter into chunks and cut into flour mixture until well-mixed and crumbly. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, orange juice, orange zest and vanilla. Add to flour mixture. Stir in cranberries and toasted pecans.

Knead on floured surface for 2-3 minutes. Separate into eighths and place in scone pan. Bake in over for 20-25 minutes.

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Croque Madame

My family isn’t necessarily hard to cook for—they’ve just got hearty appetites that are, generally speaking, geared toward the upper-half of the food pyramid, relying heavily on good doses of butter, sugar or preservatives the way many rely on spices. My sister can often be found texting me photos or descriptions of her most indulgent meals (including one of a gallon tub of ice cream) in hopes of eliciting a disgusted response to her lack of nutritional variety. So it’s certainly not a disinterest in food, but instead trying to reach a nice compromise on What’s for Dinner when I’m craving salad and they’re craving cheesesteaks.

Sandwiches seem to be a good medium for us. They’re filling, but not perversely loaded in fat, salt or some weird corn byproduct that’s marketed as a preservative but certainly isn’t preserving your health. There are various proteins involved and I even got my dad to eat beets in his salad, so kudos for some healthy habits!

Croque madames are a more fun version of their counterparts, croque monsieurs—that is, a fried ham and cheese sandwhich. Why adding an egg on top makes it feminine, I’m not sure, but that’s the French for you. This recipe is courtesy of Ina Garten, or rather, my friend’s Ina Garten cookbook collection, which she has lovingly curated and stored in her room away from the mess of the kitchen (big fan.)

It’s a slightly more complicated process than your average grilled cheese, but the extra grating, dipping and pan maneuvering are a fair trade for such a cheesy little sandwich!


(via of Barefoot in Paris)

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon nutmeg

8 thickly cut slices of Italian bread

8 slices him

4 slices Swiss cheese

4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bread on baking sheet and toast each side, about five minutes. In a medium saucepan, melt butter, then add flour, milk, Parmesan, black pepper and nutmeg. Stir until thickened and remove from heat.

Begin frying eggs in a medium frying pan.

Place two slices of ham and one slice Swiss cheese on four of the bread slices and top with another piece of bread. Dip both sides into the cheese sauce and place on medium frying pan. Fry each side for about 5 minutes, or until crispy.

Serve with fried egg on top.


Lastly, and I just thought this was cute, I was going through old cookbooks with my mom and we came across this note in one of them. We deduced that my dad wrote it before leaving for Alaska ages ago–probably 15-ish years, is my guess? Love that my mom gets the P.S.

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Arugula Salad with Pomegranate and Walnut

One of my biggest faults as an eater is repetition. I like order, familiarity and routine (tack stability onto that list and you’ve got a pretty accurate depiction of my personality.) So whenever I come across a food or a dish I truly enjoy, I will make every effort to eat it again and again over the course of the following days or weeks. Sometimes this means having a bowl of cereal before bed every night (I’ve got years on this one), other times it means eagle eyeing the plethora of greens in the produce section for a package of baby roquette arugula, as is the case here.

This is a salad I ate often in Spain. My host would get the most intense cravings for ‘rocket’ (sounds so much cooler than arugula, doesn’t it?), convince herself that her body was vastly depleted of iron and load up on these mineral-filled leaves for days at a time. Arugula is definitely an acquired taste—it’s strong and spicy, if a green can even be such a thing, and often described as tasting “peppery.”

I had long since given up on enjoying pomegranates after watching someone go to backbreaking lengths de-seeding one of the damn things only to produce a small bowl of crunchy little pips. Since trying on my own in recent months, I’ve realize that the fruits of this laboring (!) are well worth it. There’s also that whole antioxidant/high-nutrient density thing. It’s a shame they’re are only a winter fruit. One of my local grocery stores has already stopped carrying them. Pomegranate season is nearly ending, so enjoy them while you can!


1 1/2 cups roquette arugula leaves, washed and dried

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

1 tablespoon chopped walnuts

oil and vinegar

Throw it all in a bowl and eat!


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Breakfast of Champions

I hate to be that person posting pointless pictures of her various meals throughout the day, but I’m going to be that person because a) nothing photographs better than a fruit salad and b) these are, above all, my constant cravings.

Good morning!

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