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Boston, MA
Making hearts smile one story and recipe at a time...
Interests: laughing, cooking, writing, photography
Recent Activity
I was never a girl scout. Growing up I always kind of envied them - it was like an elite club that I was never part of. Years later I made up for it by joining a sorority at college in Texas, but Girl Scouts always eluded me. As I was not a Girl Scout, I never really got into the whole cookie thing. Sure, I knew about them and ate them, but I really only liked the Thin Mints. They reminded me of similar cookie my parents would buy and keep in the freezer. The mint flavor was like... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2014 at The Queen of Tarts
There are so many granola recipes out there. Everyone seems to like theirs slightly different from the next - dried fruit, no fruit, sweet, salty, buttery, dry, crispy, soft, etc. I first made my own granola a few years ago in our apartment in Boston's South End. It was pretty simple- oats, coconut oil, agave necter, toasted almonds, and raisins. I also added a few extra pinches of salt for the sweet/savory combination. I liked the creation so much, that I made a HUGE batch of it before our wedding and had bags of it waiting in the guests' hotel... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2014 at The Queen of Tarts
On July 13, 2005 my husband and I went on our first date. On our second date I cooked for him. The meal was fine, some might even go as far as to say great, but the dessert was over the top - poached pears in red wine with a dark chocolate sauce over the top. I also made chocolate truffles for the first time. All of my friends now know that I make chocolates on a fairly regular basis (of course it is a bit more difficult now that we live in the Middle East - the weather does... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2013 at The Queen of Tarts
Hi Kathy - there are a lot of apples in the recipe, and I liked it that way. That being said, cut back to about a lb and it should balance the batter/apple ratio a bit more!
Toggle Commented Sep 27, 2013 on Apple Spiced Muffins at The Queen of Tarts
1 reply
The heat. That is what it is that has kept me away from blogging for so many weeks. The intense heat of the Arabian Gulf that takes away your desire to do, well, pretty much anything and everything. Between the high temperatures (regularly above 112F) and the constant dust and sand in the air, I have been incredibly lazy. Sure, I still get to the gym, I still go to work, I still brave the traffic in Abu Dhabi on a regular basis, but at the end of the day my energy is zapped. Gone. Sucked out of every cell... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2013 at The Queen of Tarts
OK - so maybe the original version of this recipe is not by Brenda, but Brenda made this zucchini bread for me, and she shared the recipe with me, so she is now getting the credit. Truth be told, the credit should go to Gluten Free Goddess - amazing recipes and gorgeous pictures! There are several things that make this recipe so amazing. It has brown sugar in it, which gives a deep and rich sweetness. The recipe is gluten free and dairy free, and you could make it vegan if you want. It is a forgiving recipe, and this... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2013 at The Queen of Tarts
I used to be so good at this - writing recipes, taking photos, etc. But ever since we moved to Abu Dhabi, a new rhythm has set in, and while it is neither good nor bad, it is different and my attention is focused elsewhere. From time to time I think about the days back in Boston where I cooked and baked and wrote regularly (at least a few times a month) and every time I completed a blog post I felt an enourmous sense of accomplishment. Yes, I know some of you do at least one, maybe even three,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2013 at The Queen of Tarts
I have the best memories of cookies as a kid - my mother ran a gourmet food store, and I would sneak into the walk-in freezers with a spoon and put spoonful after spoonful of the cookie dough into my mouth. It made me quite popular when I brought my friends to show them what treasures hid behind door number one. Sure, you could argue that it was unsanitary or a terrible thing to eat raw egg. As a 12 year old, those kinds of things really didn't matter, and it is still a great memory. I mean really, how... Continue reading
Posted Apr 20, 2013 at The Queen of Tarts
They are GREAT for lunch kits. They can also be put in the freezer.
Toggle Commented Jan 31, 2013 on Dark Chocolate Date Bars at The Queen of Tarts
1 reply
(image by Lily Underwood Burns) I have a thing for bars. Not the kind you step up to an order a drink from but the kind you eat. I know that a lot of them are crap. They are full of sugar and stuff you cannot really pronounce, but I still am on a search to find the perfect bar. I guess the closest bar to perfection might be a Lara Bar due to the minimalist approach in ingredients an pure taste. But the flavor of the original bars is a bit flat for me. It is sweet piled upon... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2013 at The Queen of Tarts
I love the flavors of sweet and savory together particularly when it comes to dessert. In particulate I am drawn to dark chocolate with a hint of sea salt. As a child chocolate covered pretzels were always a favorite, and this is still the case. When I want desert it tends to be dark chocolate. Not an entire bar, just a small piece - it is after all good for your heart and all good stuff. One or two small squares and I am pretty much satisfied. However, we recently came back from Vietnam where we took several cooking classes.... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2013 at The Queen of Tarts
Traveling has consumed our lives for the past two months - Nepal, India, Vietnam, and Cambodia are now safely stamped into our passports and leave amazing memories. Living in Abu Dhabi has opened up a whole new part of the world (literally) that seemd so foreign and distant when we lived in Boston. Most places in Asia, Africa, and Europe are within 7 hrs. Considering it takes almost 15 hours to fly back to Boston, 7 hours seems like nothing. Each time we travel we learn about the culture through the food - the flavors, smells, and textures of the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2013 at The Queen of Tarts
November... for me it is truly the sign of the holiday season. Apples, pumpkins, foliage, and the scent of winter in the air. Oh, and my birthday. My birthday is in November as well. Since we moved to the Middle East fall is different. Instead of getting mentally prepared to spend the coming months inside, we start opening the windows and spending more time outside. The cooler weather (the days are around 80F instead of 120F) means longer walks outside, dinners by the water with cool Gulf breezes, and a break from the sweltering months of the summer. All of... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2012 at The Queen of Tarts
My mother taught me how to cook. My father also spent a considerable amount of time with me in the kitchen. They both have their specialties and entertain better than anyone I know. The best gift they have ever given me is the ability to cook. It often does not come down to the exact 1/8 of a teaspoon or the perfect shape of a pie crust. Instead it comes down to a feeling, a sense of knowing what flavors work well together, when to improvise, and when measuring matters. Of course when it comes to measuring there tends to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2012 at The Queen of Tarts
There are lots of flours out there. More kinds of flours that I can possibly begin to name. At times, it really is a bit overwhelming. There are of course the basic, no-nonsense kinds of flour like all purpose, whole wheat, and bread flour. Then there are the more exotic kinds of flour like spelt, teff, quinoa, and coconut. For people with allergies or those looking for something different, the options are endless. I suppose I fall into the latter category. I am always trying new recipes and experimenting with old ones. So it is no wonder that our pantry... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2012 at The Queen of Tarts
I know - maybe the name of the cake should be a bit more refined... but really, that is exactly what kind of cake I made. It is adapted from Nigella Lawson's Orange Cornmeal Cake, which I made for my husband several years ago. Since I first made that cake he has talked about it to friends on several occassions. Even when I first made it, I boozed it up a bit. When it came out of the oven I poured a generous amount of Grand Marnier over the top as the cake cooled. The result was, well, pretty damn... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2012 at The Queen of Tarts
I am not posting anything new here. In fact, I am a bit late to this particular party. Frozen bananas=ice cream? Yeah, actually they do. And they are really freaking good. I am not a huge banana fan, and when I do eat them I am VERY picky about them. I do not like them very ripe, I do not like them too green. I do not like the brown spots. And since we live in the Middle East, bananas tend to rippen fast. Very fast. When this happens I do what most people probably do, and I make banana... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2012 at The Queen of Tarts
When asked whether I want chocolate or vanilla, I tend to choose vanilla. There is something undeniabley wonderful about the simplicity of the flavor. Don't get me wrong, I love chocolate, and I have small pieces of dark chocolate every single day. However, vanilla is often overlooked. When we first moved to the UAE I have a hard time finding vanilla extract. Sure, there was imitation vanilla, and I could find vanilla flavouring on the shelves of every grocery store and hypermarket. But vanilla extract was no where to be seen. It then dawned on me that it contained alcohol.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2012 at The Queen of Tarts
Cravings... I think we have all had them at some point. Over the past few months I have tried very hard to keep mine under control. Unfortunately it does not always work. I keep joking that I am carbo-loading for a big race in the early fall, hence the abundance of bread in our kitchen. And bread always tastes better when it is accompanied by a fruity Spanish olive oil and some flaked sea salt... I suppose I could crave things that are worse? But as the weeks and now months have progressed, my attention has turned to lighter fare.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2012 at The Queen of Tarts
Sticky buns that is. I grew up around these sweet, sticky, decadent delights. My father makes amazing sticky buns - he always has and he always will. I remember one Christmas morning after he spent several hours in the kitchen mixing, waiting, mixing, and baking, when he placed what seemed liked hundreds of sticky buns in several baskets. We all wanted to drive up to Boston to be with my grandparents, but he insisted on spreading early morning Christmas cheer (in the form of sticky buns) to our neighbors. He walked up the road dropping off the baskets to the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2012 at The Queen of Tarts
There is something intensely comforting about baking the things I did in Boston right here, in Abu Dhabi. Sometimes finding all of the right ingredients poses a bit of a challenge (I have yet to find buttermilk, but Laban is a good substitute) however I let these challenges take my cooking and baking in a new and more exciting direction. Several years ago around the time of the Kentucky Derby I baked a Bourbon Cheesecake with Bourbon Caramel for the top. I have not made a cheescake since then, but we recently had pounds of cream cheese left over from... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2012 at The Queen of Tarts
I have put up a recipe of this kind before - I promise you. But I keep going back to it, because the ingredients are entirely too easy to get in this part of the world - that would be the Middle East. In the summer people are often seen underneath date trees with large tarps - someone climbs up the tree and throws down the sun-soaked sweet dates. As a child I never liked dates. They were hard and too sugary, and I picked them out of granola and cereal on a regular basis. Then I started liking them,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2012 at The Queen of Tarts
Reading your posts put a smile on my face...sometimes tears, but almost always a smile. Love from the UAE! xo
1 reply
(Image from The string, the nylon thread that hold a small piece of my heart together is almost five years old. Anniversaries come and go in people's lives, but when I think back to where I was and what I was doing five years ago, it amazes me how things have changed. 12 December 2006 I lay in a hospital bed, tubes everywhere, pain in my chest that is truly undescrible, and fluid draining slowly from my lungs. And that little piece of string that holds it all together. Today we are living Abu Dhabi, UAE, married, and smiling... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2011 at Lily U Burns
There are countless recipes for chocolate chip cookies - everyone seems to have their favorite, and of course there is the great debate over chewy or crispy. I have always loved chocolate chip cookies, and truth be told, I have never EVER met anyone who did not like them. They come in all shapes and sizes and textures as well. I remember driving around in the summer as a child and eating Famous Amos cookies from the brown bags they came in. There was something delectable about that crunch from such a small cookie. The very first time I had... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2011 at The Queen of Tarts