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A Recipe for New Year’s Resolutions

Well, another year is upon us and I’m making another set of resolutions. Surprisingly, I actually kept quite a few of my New Year’s resolutions in 2009: create a blog, start my own business and run an actual mile (you have to start somewhere!). So 2010 better watch out! Next year, I resolve to be healthier and more active, grow my business and my family, better manage my finances and finally read a couple of classics that I’ve had on the backburner for some time. But on the cooking front, I’ve got a whole separate set of resolutions that will hopefully come to life on this blog throughout the next year. And if they don’t – you can just call me out on that and get me back on track!

1.  Master Five Meals: I’ve experimented with a lot of new dishes in 2009, but I am going to master five great dinners in 2010 a la Julia Child style. Translation: I will test these recipes several times until I get them just right.

2.  Buy Local, Organic: I know the benefits of buying and eating local and organic, but sometimes I am just lazy. This year, I am more committed than ever to ensuring that we eat as much local, organic and in-season food as possible and not wasting anything we purchase – something I was terribly guilty of until last year.

3. Use New Cookbooks: My husband bought me two outstanding new cookbooks for Christmas (and a beautiful saucier pan from Williams & Sonoma): Veganomican and Love Soup.

I’ve been wanting Veganomican for quite some time and already made one dish so far. Both books offer numerous healthy, creative recipes for vegetarians and I’m pouring through both right now to find those five new dishes I plan to master in the new year.

4.  Patience and Presentation: My two biggest flaws in the kitchen are lack of patience and poor presentation.  In order to master five good meals, I must learn to be patient, slow down and take the time to present the best dish possible.

5. Organize My Pantry: When your kitchen is the size of a small closet, it truly becomes a matter of surival to be well organized. My re-organization began in December, but it is just the beginning. From stocking essential ingredients to creating structure among the cabinets and pantry cabinet, I vow to have order.

So what are your foodie resolutions for 2010?? I’d love to hear from you. Happy New Year!


How to Build a Cheese Plate

It is well documented that I detest American cheese. Perhaps it was those “tasty” grape jelly and American cheese sandwiches my mother made for me when I was little or maybe it is just the lifeless flavor and texture of it. Honestly, I just don’t see the point in it. Happily, I’ve learned to love goat cheese, bleu cheese and a variety of semi-hard cheeses since those early cheese loathing days. To me, these are cheeses to love.

I’m taking a somewhat lazy route to my Christmas Eve food contribution by serving a cheese plate. Typically, I try to make something, but inevitably it doesn’t hold up well after the train ride to my parent’s house. 

A good cheese tray is always a hit and you can mix it up each time with different pairings and accompaniments. Selecting your cheese, deciding what to serve it with and picking a wine can be a little daunting, which is why I’m consulting this great article I found on CHOW at It offers an easy, quick tutorial on putting your cheese tray together and provides a glossary on cheese terminology.

This year, I’ve decided to go with a bleu cheese, a goat cheese and a mild semi-hard cheese. I’ll serve the bleu cheese with honey or figs and the goat cheese with a homemade cranberry compote. The remainder of my cheese plate will consist of sliced apples, pecans or almonds, sliced baguette and crackers.

Now off to find some wine for my cheese…Cranberry-Orange Compote

From the 12/5/09 Fork You Live at Foster’s Homewares

  • 1 12-ounce bag of cranberries, washed and sorted to remove any mushy berries
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar

Combine the cranberries, orange zest and juice and the sugar (start with 1/2 a cup and then add more later if it’s too tart). Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until the cranberries break down and turn jammy.  Serve over goat cheese.

Peanut Butter Cups and Coffee Toffee

Well, we all know I’m not much of a baker. Case in point – my own father left this message for me on Facebook the other day: “you are a beauty not a baker. Don’t make lemon bars for Christmas Eve. Love, Dad.” I guess that pretty much says it all.

While my father clearly isn’t keen on my baking endeavors, I just couldn’t resist. And I wanted to make candy. As I contemplated what to make, I kept going back to this fuzzy memory about candy molds and candy making as a little girl. My grandmother didn’t make candy and I don’t think we made it at school.  That left my mom. So I put a call into the Undomestic Goddess herself to get to the bottom of this mystery. Sure enough there was a candy demonstration at a neighbor’s house and she came home equipped with candy molds and a variety of chocolates, and together, we did make candy. Unfortunately, we didn’t continue that tradition. I suspect my dad probably threw them against the wall or mocked our feeble attempt at candymaking. 

This peanut butter cup recipe is decadent and delicious. I love Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and was surprised at how much I liked this homemade, vegan version. If you are a peanut butter lover, the peanut butter mixture alone will knock your socks off. Above all, the recipe is also difficult to ruin, which is probably what I liked about it most. The toffee, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. While I diligently followed directions and made sure the mixture reached 300 degrees (no more) with my new candy thermometer, it still seemed to burn a little. But it was hardly a disaster so I’m considering this one a success. If I had more time, I probably would have tried it out again and hoped for a slightly better  result.

And my new Facebook message to my father: “Dad, while I doubt you will even sample my candy, you can at least take comfort in the fact that I did not make lemon bars again. Merry Christmas. Love, Cheri.”

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups (from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone)


  • 1⁄2 cup Earth Balance butter  
  • 3⁄4 cup crunchy peanut butter (preferably unsweetened and unsalted)  
  • 3⁄4 cup graham cracker crumbs or 10 graham cracker squares  
  • 1⁄4 cup maple sugar or other granulated sweetener  
  • 1 cup grain-sweetened, non-dairy chocolate or carob chips  
  • 1⁄4 cup soy, rice, or nut milk  
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped pecans, almonds, or peanuts  
  • Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir in the peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs, and maple sugar and mix well. Remove the mixture from the heat.
  • Evenly divide the mixture, approximately 2 tablespoons per cup, among the muffin cups.
    Combine the chocolate and milk in another pan.
  • Stir over medium heat until the chocolate has melted.
  • Spoon the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture.
  • Top with chopped nuts.
  • Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 2 hours before serving. 











Coffee Toffee (from Smitten 


  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons molasses (can swap corn syrup or honey)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or a heaping 1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, or 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (toasted, skinned and cooled) or another nut of your choice


  • Line a small baking sheet (mine are 9×13, to fit in my puny oven) with parchment paper or a silicon mat and set aside.
  • In medium heavy saucepan (I used a 3-quart) with a candy thermometer attached, melt butter, brown sugar, white sugar, molasses, salt and espresso together over together. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a whisk (one that reaches into the corners is especially helpful here) until the temperature approaches 250 degrees F, at which point you should stir constantly until it reaches 300 degrees F.
  • Pour immediately into the prepared baking sheet — you can spread it more evenly with a silicon spatula. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the toffee and let them sit for a minute until soft, then spread the chocolate evenly over the candy base. Sprinkle the chocolate with chopped hazelnuts and then, if you’re as impatient as we are, you can slide the sheet onto a cooling rack in the freezer until the toffee is set.
  • Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.
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