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  • The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
    The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
    by Deb Perelman
  • Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients
    Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients
    by Matt Lewis, Renato Poliafito
  • Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion
    Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion
    by Alice Currah
  • The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier
    The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier
    by Ree Drummond
  • Bouchon Bakery
    Bouchon Bakery
    by Thomas Keller, Sebastien Rouxel

Entries in Savory Sweet Life (4)


A Forever House. And a Cookbook Giveaway.

By December 15, 2012, we will have moved our family four times in 18 months. From New Jersey to Atlanta and back home. But when we move to our house in New Providence, New Jersey, we’re done.

We’re done moving.

It’s the promise we’ve made to ourselves and to our kids. We simply can’t do it anymore, Karen and I. And our kids can’t do it either. They’re done. And so are we.

We’ve taken to calling the new house our “forever house.” Where we will live forever. This has to be true for us. We have to tell ourselves this is true. Mostly because we feel so fragile that we just might break for good if we have to move again. And if we were really honest with ourselves, which we certainly are not, we’re afraid our kids will break. Yes, kids are flexible. Yes, they bounce back. But a rubber band stretched too many times loses its ability to bounce back. Or worse, it becomes thin and worn and snaps. And all of us are feeling a little thin and worn, not just by the moving but also by life.

2012 was a lot.  Among the many things...the death of a father at the beginning of the year.  And a hurricane at the end of October that wiped out our second car and destroyed too many belongings in storage, flooding them with river+sewage water that came rushing back from the ocean.

But. This is the best we’ve been in a long time. We’re home, almost. Almost. And we’re almost feeling happy.

We’re staying in a temporary apartment while we wait to close on our house. Five people in a very small two-bedroom apartment. Three kids in two beds. It’s tight. Incredibly so. But we’re OK.  

There is an empty apartment down the hallway from us. But two nights after the hurricane, we saw two Weimaraners poke their noses around the corner, dragging their owner, Amy, down the hallway. She and her niece were refugees from Hoboken, New Jersey. Their condo had flooded, water at least four feet high. Nearly all their belongings destroyed, they had grabbed clothes and the dogs and found themselves in our apartment building, dragging giant trash bags full of their wet clothes into their temporary home.

I had spent the day cleaning out our storage space after Karen took the kids to stay with her mom and stepfather in Pennsylvania, in an attempt to bring some sort of normalcy from a time filled with not-normal. I stayed in New Jersey, trying to save thousands of pictures in albums, throwing away mattresses and furniture. I got the easier of the two responsibilities.

Walking into our apartment building, there sat Amy and her niece and their dogs, waiting for the building custodian to unlock their apartment. I was covered in the remnants of river water that had flaked off our belongings. When she saw me, Amy said, “I bet I had a worse day than you did, and you look pretty bad.” I told her to try me.

“I lost my car,” she said.

“Nice. So did I. Try again,” I said.

A smile on her face. “I lost my home. And everything in it.”

We both started laughing, because if you don’t...well.

The next morning, we baked our new neighbors a loaf of Alice Currah’s Sour Cream Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Bread. Because when the chocolate chips are still warm and melty, there’s nothing more comforting to eat, especially when you need some energy to just keep going.

We’ve made a lot of Alice’s food this year, ever since we received a copy of her new cookbook, Savory Sweet Life: 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Family Occasion. It’s joined the ranks of The Pioneer Woman's and Melissa Clark’s cookbooks in our house. That means we really cook from it. Every week. Because the food is good and reliable and comforting and filling. And honestly, we don’t have time to fuck around with food lately. It needs to be good so we can get on with life.

One of the most filling soups we’ve ever had is Alice’s Smoky Corn Chowder. Usually, it takes hours to get any depth of flavor. Quick soups usually taste like water and shortcuts. But this chowder is quick and memorable and terribly comforting. You'll have to buy the book to get that recipe. Money well spent. We depend on this book. And so will you.

Two of you are going to win a copy of it just by leaving a comment below. Tell us what you’re thankful for. That’s it. And thanks to William Morrow for making these two copies available for the giveaways and for our review copy.

We’ll go first. We’re thankful for our forever house. And for being a family. No matter what.


Congratulations to Jen Caplet and Betty Ann Besa-Quirino who each won a copy of Alice's book! 


Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate-Chip-Cookie Crust (via epicurious + savory sweet life) | Pie Month

This is the 6th entry in our Month of Pie. Pie Month is a celebration of things we love. Because life is hard, and there should always be more pie. Have a look at the other entries. Really. 
Pie #4 - Peanut Butter Cream Pie with Chocolate Whipped Cream

I’m live blogging while I taste this pie. Let's taste this pie together, kids.

It’s the chocolate curls that get me first. A vegetable peeler taken to a bar of 70% Bittersweet Scharffen Berger. I pinch a bit off the top to taste. Easy, fast, pretty, and barely sweet.

The knife goes easy into the pie. No resistance. Cutting through air, until it hits the crust, giving way to the blade as I swipe it from the center to the rim.

Another cut.

And then it’s time to contemplate the crust. Chocolate chip cookie dough peeks past the whipped cream. This is going to be great. I used our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe from Alice at Savory Sweet Life, foregoing the usual chocolate chunks in favor of semi-sweet chips. The recipe calls for prepared cookie dough. You can do that, but we use Alice’s. These are the perfect cookies, making the perfect pie crust.

A fork goes in, swiping off the point. Creamy, banana, whipped cream, a hit of chocolate from on top, and a crunch+chew of the cookie crust chaser. A linger, barely, of rum. 

Forget the fork. 

This is pie to hold, to be caress, to love.

The other half of this pie went to the neighbors. Share the pie love.

recipe | Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate-Chip-Cookie Crust via
recipe | Chocolate Chunk Cookies via Savory Sweet Life


bouchon bakery nutter butter cookies + big summer potluck reflections

This post is about a bunch of food bloggers. And cookies and community. And a food processor.

Three Saturdays ago, we met one of our blogging heroes and met a bunch of new ones. Let me explain...

Karen and I consider ourselves the founding members of a chocolate chunk cookie cult that worships the recipe created by Alice over at Savory Sweet Life. We know many of you are also devotees to the most perfect chocolate chip/chunk cookie (I’m looking at you, Chris and Lori). 

So when we heard Alice was going to be the keynote speaker at a casual food bloggers' gathering just an hour away from home, we jumped at the chance.

Well, “jumped” isn’t the right word. Maybe I should say we started up the great “could someone please babysit our children for a day for free so we don’t have to tap into our sad 401k?” machine. Fortunately, Karen’s parents volunteered. We just had to make them dinner the night before the event. More than fair.

And so we went for our first day away from the kids for an entire day, together. Well, just the two of us and a bunch of nutter butter cookies from a Bouchon Bakery recipe. 

These cookies are as big as my head. Two PB cookies, the softest you’ve ever eaten, brought together by peanut butter creme, which we shoved inside a chocolate cake in a previous post. Our cookies are in the picture at the beginning of this post, sharing the plate at the top, but isn't all the other food really pretty?

We discovered nutter butters at the Time Warner Center Bouchon Bakery outpost after our son was born (it was our first outing in the city when he was four weeks old). Little man in a big stroller. And a big cookie for me and Karen. Each. We do not share.

These cookies are like bringing your A-game, giving a confidence that what you made is good. Just the boost needed when spending a day with 40ish incredible food bloggers. 

I could go through the day and tell you what we did, but bloggers who were there have done a better job than I could. Read them here. And here. And here. And here. Here. Here, too.

But this is what Karen and I are left with these several weeks later:

  • Four years is too long to wait to spend an entire day with your wife without children. We love our kids dearly, and we can be better parents when we recharge ourselves.
  • I don’t know how they do it, but the hosts and organizers of the event, the mother-and-daughters team at Three Many Cooks, seem to have a collective gravitational force that pulls wonderful people to them. Every single participant was so kind and generous with her thoughts and encouragement for each other (I say "her" because I was the lone "he"). I know this was because of the tone set by Maggy, Pam, and Sharon. We’re going to be giving away a signed copy of Pam’s new book, Perfect One-Dish Dinners in the next week, so stay tuned for that.
  • I walked in wanting to meet two people, Alice (cookie high priestess) and Debra from, and left wishing I had more time to talk to everyone. Like a couple of days more. With each one of them. And eat all their food.
  • The Alice we met was exactly the same person who wrote back to me in January when I asked if we could post our take on her chocolate chip cookies as our very first recipe post. She couldn't have been more encouraging to us to start the blog. And her talk at Big Summer Potluck was an arms-wide-open approach to all of us. Take chances. Be who you need to be, who you were meant to be. And if you don’t know exactly where this whole thing is headed, just keep going. Because you’ll figure it out.
  • Abby Dodge (see her below) is super cool and incredibly funny. She has a new book coming out, Desserts 4 Today. Every dessert recipe uses four ingredients. That's crazy. And tasty. Also easy. Buy it. Or try out her Nutella Brownies first via SavorySweetLife, then buy it.
  • KitchenAid, one of the generous sponsors of the gathering, gave away several of their wonderful appliances (I say that because I love my coffee bean burr grinder. It is killer). Karen walked away with one of their grand prizes, a sweet 12-cup food processor. In red. Nice.

  • Erika at Ivory Hut is photography master. She also makes a gin and tonic sorbet. That make me love her more.
As we climbed back into the minivan to drive home, Karen and I both said it had been the best day we had in a long time. We were ready to get back to being parents. 

But the best thing was that the next day, Karen signed up for a photography class at the International Center of Photography. Something she had wanted to do since we moved to the NYC area. Seven years ago. It’s never too late to feed yourself, to grow, to learn, to be exactly who you were meant to become.

And then we ate another nutter butter and drove home.

recipe | bouchon bakery nutter butters (via


our favorite chocolate chunk cookies

It's been a week. And it's only Wednesday.

We're snowed in. Not unhappily so. But three small children aren't going to tolerate it for long. And the little car that came in the Cheerios box will not keep a three year old happy forever.

And snow just seems to beckon comfort food.

So we're making chocolate chunk cookies.

Because what else is there?

We take chocolate chip cookies very seriously (I'll get to the chunks in a second). I shudder to think how many different recipes we've tried in search of the perfect version. We need the cookie to be soft, crisp, sweet, salty (not overly, but present), and oozing chocolate. To add another requirement, it needs to bake perfectly when pulled from the freezer (hold, please, we'll come back and visit the freezer soon). That's a lot to ask, but some quests are worth it. After 13 years, we found our recipe.

Alice over at Savory Sweet Life has created what she calls The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER! That's not an overstatement. It deserves the all caps and the exclamation point. Maybe an extra exclamation point. Alice apparently finds herself in Twitter schoolyard "my cookie recipe is better than yours" smackdowns on a regular basis. Do not fight with her. Just walk away. She wins.

Here's how we've made Alice's recipe our own...

Remember I said we like our chocolate oozing. We get the ooze on by chopping our own chocolate instead of using chips. Ain't a thing wrong with chips. They're handy and inexpensive, and Alice, I am not fighting you. But if you find yourself near a Trader Joe's, get yourself a 17.6 ounce bar of dark Belgian chocolate for about $5. Slap it down on your cutting board, and using the biggest knife you've got, start chopping. Some of it will flake which streaks the dough with slivers of chocolate. The chunks are what you're after, because when you bite into them after they come out of the oven and sit for a few minutes, you've got an ooze of chocolate in almost every bite.

Alice's recipe freezes perfectly which is good, because we need one or two cookies almost every night (we joined a gym so that we could keep our cookie habit). Instead of making a half batch, we use an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to fill a baking pan full of unbaked cookies. Freeze them overnight, and then throw them into a plastic storage bag in the freezer. Pull out however many you need. Our oven cooks them perfectly at 360 for 14.5 minutes.

Cookies tonight. And tomorrow. And until this batch runs out and we need to make a new one.

Go visit Alice at Savory Sweet Life. And do not mess with her.