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If you have an hour and a stove and enjoy delicious things then I have a weekend kitchen project just for you! Homemade ricotta! Making cheese is “whey” easier than it seems. Cheese-making has been on my to-do list for “whey” too long. (Are we tired of this joke, yet?) (No “whey”!) I promised myself I would give it a go after my trip to Vermont this fall when I got to go behind the scenes at the holy grail of cheese-making BUT then life happened and there was always a-something-else that required my time. So the other day I got serious. I gave myself a pep talk, carved out one hour, and began my first foray into cheese-making.

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Homemade ricotta is like a gateway cheese. One you start with the ricotta the doors open to the hard stuff. You realize what were you ever waiting for because that was just so ridonkously easy. Now I just can’t stop thinking about all the other cheeses out there that can come out of my tiny kitchen. Ricotta. Burrata. Don’t even get me start-ta[ed].

Ricotta is the most simple of DIY cheeses so we’re going to start there. All you need is lemon juice, whole milk and cream. The most involved tool that is required is a kitchen thermometer (but you already have in your arsenal from beer caramel-making, right?).

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mini toasted coconut banana bread (baked) doughnuts via butter me up, Brooklyn!

Mini doughnuts are pretty exciting. Tiny plus doughnuts – what is not to love? But I should probably clear the air before going any further. For quite a while I have been against The Mini Doughnut Pan. It always seemed like a frivolous baking extravagance that even I could not justify. (And this is coming from the human who stores sprinkles and cookie cutters under her bed.) There just seemed to me so many reasons against purchasing one, the biggest being that in my humble opinion The Doughnut Pan a one-trick pony.

mini toasted coconut banana bread (baked) doughnuts via butter me up, Brooklyn! 1

Get past the obvious and there aren’t too many reasons to tap in a mini doughnut pan into the game. Well maybe sorting beads. Or making ice rings. Or homemade sidewalk chalk. Or even making bird seed snacks.

mini toasted coconut banana bread (baked) doughnuts via butter me up, Brooklyn! 2

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red wine brownie hearts

Valentine’s Day seems to be a polarizing holiday; a love or loathe type of situation that makes people cringe in disgust or happily don headbands with bobbing red glitter heart antennae attached. This year it is just a straight-up polar-vortexing holiday which is neither here nor there and that was just me trying to get in all my vortex jokes while I am able.

I suppose I fall somewhere in the middle and my usual route is the “how many conversation hearts I can consume today” approach. But regardless of your stance on Valentine’s Day, it is easy to get behind Galentine’s Day. Galentine’s Day is all about celebrating lady friends, your group of gal pals, or your BBF that you’ve known for 100-years. Literally. (Just had a thought – and maybe this needs some workshopping – but is the dude equivalent “Pal”-entine’s Day?)

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I celebrated Galentine’s Day a bit early this year (I mean honestly, every day can be Galentine’s Day!) so that I could share this little video with y’all. It is a celebration of lady friend love, booze, crafts, glitter and red wine brownies.

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meyer lemon bars with salt and pepper crust

I’ve lived 28 years of life without hearing or even knowing that the words “Polar” and “Vortex” had any possible meaning when strung together. Now their meaning is as clear as ice. Also quite literally, as cold as ice.

There has been so much crazy going on these days! Not only has this January had more snow and cold than I can remember in all of the 10 years I’ve lived here COMBINED — but I’ve been watching football. Watching football comes as a shock to most everyone who knows me because for all those years I spent not having any idea that it was possible for lone arctic winds to break free from the larger wind pack and take an uncharted vacay south; not one second was spent caring about football.

seahawks brownies via butter me up brooklyn

But then my hometown of Seattle turned it up a notch in the sports department and I couldn’t help getting on board. I have a hat. I have watched every game this season. (Well, minus one. I have no good excuse. I would like to publicly apologize to the sports gods for missing it.) I even know what “icing the kicker” means! WHO AM I? If you would have asked me that last year, I would have thought you meant it involved an offset spatula, a layer cake, and was something vaguely sporty.

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cream cheese spritz + a video!

December 23, 2013

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We are now three-quarters through my favorite time of the year: The Month of Holiday Baking. It may be the food coloring, it may be the parties, it may be the snow that we have been getting in Brooklyn that feels oh-so-festive but regardless of the reason, I been joyously dusted in flour from head to toe. I’ve made a few batches of ginger molasses chocolate chip cookies, a round of my aunt’s lemon sugar cookies with almond icing, and then after cracking the caramel code – spent an afternoon wrapping carm-ales in tiny squares of waxed paper.

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But my most favorite thing that December brings, is the perfection that is spritz. Spritz cookies are one part nostalgic (because my Chicago grandmother used to make them every year) one part sprinkle (and what, may I ask do sprinkles not make better?) and an equal pinch of  festive and delightful.

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carm-ales on butter me up, Brooklyn!

Update 12/24/13: Congratulations Christy! A box of Ovenly goodies is coming your way!

Homemade caramels have always been a sticking point (pun intended) for me. Meringue – no prob! Frosting a multi-layered cake – sure, you got it – and would you like me to bring it on the subway as well? OK, see you soon! I have quite a lot of patience when it comes to kitchen projects but there was something about caramel-making that I could never quite get to work out.

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My attempts always left me frustrated and disappointed, not to mention caramel-less, which may be the most depressing fact of all. That was until I had the irrational obsession with making homemade caramels for the holiday season. I told myself: they’d be perfect for any and all moments! A last-minute thank you! A office party dream! But the reality was that I was either making batch after batch of beer-infused caramel sauce or hard toffee topped with pretzels. Neither were my attempt of soft, chewy caramels.

carm-ales on butter me up, Brooklyn! 3

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Hello dearest friends. I have a few super exciting announcements. The first is that the extra special holiday project I’ve been working on is finally ready to be introduced to the world. This is something I have wanted to share with you for a long time now and I’d like for you to formally meet The Curated Cookie Platter.

The Curated Cookie Platter is a collection of twelve bite-sized mix-&-match cookie recipes for all your holiday baking needs. There is something for everyone. There is probably too much booze and spice but it is December and therefore I am allowed a bonus amount of adjectives.

Curious what is inside? Well to start, there is this recipe for Mulled Red Wine Cranberry Crumble Squares. Selecting just one recipe to share was like having 12 children; it was difficult to choose my favorite. But mulling red wine, adding tart cranberries, and sandwiching it between two layers of orange-spiced oat crumble tugged at my heart strings just enough for me to share it with you in the preview. But TCCP (or how it has lovingly become known in my email) also includes a few of your new favorite cookies. Perhaps you want to meet the glazed and sprinkled soft Fernet Branca cookie, or fudgy peppermint crackles (which happen to also be naturally gluten-free) or a few dozen spiced fresh ginger and orange snowflakes (for which all you need in the special equipment department is a star cookie cutter and a few pinches)!

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creme fraiche apple bourbon bundt on butter me up, Brooklyn!

If I were a more talented lyricist then this post would include a humorous baking-inspired cover of Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s famous song, called oh I don’t know something along the lines of “I Like Big Bundts”. It would be amazing. I hope somewhere in the world that exists for the sake of bundt lovers everywhere.

But instead there is just this recipe. But it’s a recipe for a bundt that is not messing around. I can not lie. This cake has so much delicious going on. I know you read apple in the title and were like noooooooo, no apple cake for me please, then thought to yourself doesn’t she know that we are firmly into peppermint season now? Well yes, but this cake raises the bar on apple cakes. It is indulgent. It is an overload of goodness. There is crème fraîche and butter and brown sugar and bourbon.

creme fraiche apple bourbon bundt on butter me up, Brooklyn! 2

And then there is the bundt side of things. In the same way a tart pan makes anything look fancy, a bundt is a dinner party dessert secret. And when you bake it in an extra-fancy swirl bundt – bing! – 10 points get added immediately to your classy score.

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pumpkin cheesecake on butter me up, Brooklyn!

We made it! The Week of Thanksgiving is finally here. You probably have had your Thanksgiving dessert mapped out for weeks now and have been just waiting at the ready for the day to come and your plan to be put into action. But if you are still on the fence about what to make or if a few dozen more people decided to show up and you are in need of another dessert then I have just what you are looking for; this is the perfect pumpkin-spiced answer to all your last-minute baking needs.

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Except the good news is that this dessert is hardly baking. It’s a barely-bake situation. If you can crush gingersnaps in a food processor (or with a rolling pin and a heavy duty ziplock bag) you are halfway to pumpkin cheesecake glory.

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But that’s not all folks! For only $19.95 I’ll throw in the tart pan!! Annnnnnd you get the… oh what’s that you say, this isn’t an infomercial? My bad, I’ve got holiday brain big-time. Plus this tart needs no sales pitch. It’s a bourbon-spiked dream of a dessert because there’s also the whole “make-ahead” part which is just the icing on the proverbial cake. The refrigerator does all the work for you, and this week, what with your oven working at overdrive and all, it could probably use a little love and attention.

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Kinfolk Giveaway on butter me up, Brooklyn

Update 11/23/2013: Congratulations Kathleen! Thank you all for entering and happy holiday baking!

When the Burl Ives begins to play on a constant loop and the twinkling street lights go up while the trees still cling to their last leaves and it seems like the holidays are barreling down on us faster than one can say “Gift wrap!” I begin a little countdown of my own. There are only 5.5 weeks left until my mom’s Christmas Eve Linzer Torte.

Over the years, there have been a few family traditions in our house that have stuck. The first is called Snapdragons and involves igniting a platter of nuts that have been soaked in brandy and snatching as many as one can before the fire goes out. (Flaming brandy is amazingly as fun as it sounds.) The second is Linzer Torte.

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A Linzer Torte is an amazing thing. Not only does it always have a place of honor in our dessert line-up, it is almond dough hugging a jam filling. It is also the perfect holiday dessert because it can be easily made ahead and really gets better with time. So if you’ve had too much flaming brandy on Christmas Eve and missed the dessert hour, then it makes for a fantastic Christmas Day mid-morning breakfast treat. I would like to go on the record however and say this has never happened to me.

Inside the kinfolk table, full spread

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