An Unfortunate Affinity to 70s Soft Rock, and Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet Potatoes Biscuit Recipe on

Mmmm sweet potato biscuits… /homerdrool

Here’s an annoying fact: I get music from my parents’ generation stuck in my head. All. The. Damn. Time. Perhaps it’s because my mom listened to music constantly when I was small, but regardless of the cause, the end result is the vast majority of the 70s soft rock genre has wormed its way into my subconscious like an earwig on a coke bender. Air Supply, Chicago, Bread, the Carpenters, the entirety of the Yacht Rock canon. It’s all very good music, to be sure, but it’s little out of context in the land that is Steph’s Brain… And it’s become one hell of a distraction.

Here’s an example. For the past month, I’ve had Jim Croce stuck on repeat through every waking moment of my life. My days look (sound?) something like this.

At my desk, typing an email to a colleague:

Operator, won’t you help me place this call? You see the number on the matchbook is old and faded…

“Hey there Ms Writer, I never received the documents you mentioned last week. Can you please help me make this call?” DAMMIT! Backspace, backspace, backspace…

Later in the day, walking to pick up my lunch. I’m waiting for my sandwich:

She’s living in LA,with my best old ex-friend ray, a guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated

“Ma’am? Hello? You with the short hair? Is this your sandwich? I’ve been waving at you for like three minutes now.”

In the evening, standing over boiling pasta water:

Isn’t that the way they say it goes? But let’s forget all that, and give me the number if you can find it, so i can call just to tell them I’m fine and to show…

“Crap, where did all the water go? How long has this thing been boiling for? Fraaaack!”

Going to bed:

I’ve overcome the blow, I’ve learned to take it well. I only wish my words could just convince myself that it just wasn’t real… But that’s not the way it feels………

To which I end up dreaming of phone booths and That 70s Show.


Sweet Potatoes Biscuit Recipe on


It’s worth mentioning that this song came out in 1972, almost six year before I was born. Croce even died before I made an appearance on this planet. It’s also an unfortunate testament to my verbal memory skills that I know every god damn lyric to every f**king adult contemporary song released between 1970 and 1982. Those lyrics up there? Yup, typed completely from memory. What I wouldn’t give to put that sizable portion of my brain to better use. Sigh.

I listened to a lot of music in high school, music that others my age were listening to, but none of it seems to have stuck. Why don’t I ever develop Nirvana ear worms? Or Beck? R.E.M.? Michael Jackson? Hell, I’d even take early, cheesy Guns & Roses or some soupy remix of The Verve’s The Drugs Don’t Work. Anything from my generation.

I don’t know why I’m telling you this story, other than the fact that I’ve never mentioned it to anyone and it feels good to say it out loud (as it were). Just please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t ever mention The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald within earshot, or you’ll curse me to weeks of Gordon Lightfoot crawling over my shoulder when I’m in the shower, murmuring Superior, they said, never gives up her dead, when the gales of November come early. Creepy.

Thanks, mom.

And special thanks to my coworker, Rich, who occasionally peeks his head over the cube wall to warble, “Operrrraaaatorrr” every time he’s sure I’ve finally freed myself from the torment of this song.


Sweet Potatoes Biscuit Recipe on
Few things will distract you from a clingy ear worm better than warm biscuits. Especially these sweet potato biscuits, which are so easy to make and glow with such a nuclear shade of orange that you may very well miss the second coming, should it arrive within ten minutes of sliding these guys out of the oven.

I’d never had a sweet potato biscuit before making these, and I have to credit the recipe to Scott Hocker, author of the Sweet Potatoes edition of my favorite little cookbooks, Short Stacks. These books are pretty awesome as far as creativity goes, each filled with a unique set of recipes that I find really exciting. (Which is more than I can say for most cookbooks these days.)

Once you’ve roasted the sweet potatoes, this biscuit recipe comes together in a flash, with very little drama. There’s no cold butter to mess with, and with the exception beating the dough too much, you’d actually have to try really hard to screw these up. So for those that consider yourself challenged in the kitchen, Merry Christmas.

Thank you for your dime. You’ve been so much more than kind.


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Turkey Mac-and-Cheeselets on KATU – Turkey Leftovers (Video)

Turkey Mac-and-Cheeselets on AM Northwest - Turkey Leftovers Video on


A few days ago I posted the recipe for our Turkey and Gouda Mac & Cheeselets, a great way to use up those turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving. In the few days since then, KATU in Portland aired a segment I filmed on how to make these cute little portable baked macaroni and cheese dumplings. It’s a long segment that essentially shows the entire turkey leftovers recipe from beginning to end. To print the recipe, go here.



Thanksgiving Turkey Leftovers Bliss: Turkey Mac-and-Cheeselets Recipe

Thanksgiving Leftover Bliss! Turkey Mac-and-Cheeselets on

 - Oodles of turkey leftovers? These portable mac & cheese lets are a delicious kid-friendly solution. -

Ok. The tryptophan haze has set in, as have the food coma, carb dive, and sugar crash. The dishes are done, the excess pie and casserole pawned off to friends and family in the last of your Tupperware. But if yours is anything like this household, you’ve likely got a metric ton of turkey leftovers sitting in a huge zip-top back in your fridge. What do with with it all? Well, besides turkey minestrone soup, healthy turkey-stuffed cabbage rolls, or an amazingly hearty turkey chili, why not try a unique macaroni and cheese dish from Melt?

Cooked in a muffin tin, these adorable individual mac-and-cheeselets are a good way to use up all that leftover turkey while exercising portion control… assuming you eat just one or two and not, like, seven. They are a perfect portable snack when Christmas shopping, hiking in the woods, or sitting through the long drive or flight home from wherever you celebrated your holiday. Just toss a few in a baggie and head out. They taste great at room temp!  [Read more...]

Gruyère and Emmentaler Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Ham and Cubed Sourdough

Gruyère and Emmentaler Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Ham and Cubed Sourdough on

 - This macaroni and cheese casserole is a culinary trinity of Gruyère, Emmentaler, and Black Forest Ham -

Thanksgiving is coming up. Even though it’s later than usual this year – to the degree that it’s magically synced up with Chanukah – it still creeped up on me, sneaking around in little mousy slippers. I love Thanksgiving, but this year I’m just too tired to cook. The book tour for Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese was short but intense, and left me with a lingering cold that thinks it’s found a cozy place to hang out for the winter. (I heartily disagree and am doing all I can to evict said ick – out, damn bug!)  I am so, so glad to be home; I am so, so glad that the cold, reflective season is upon us; and I am so, so beat that the idea of cooking for the holidays makes me want to curl up into a tiny ball and wave the white flag.

But cook I will, because that’s what I do.

So my solution is to make a dish so easy I could prepare it in my sleep. And, perhaps, do all the work the day before so that my actual Thanksgiving holiday isn’t gummed up by a kitchen panic. You know I’ve got macaroni and cheese on the brain lately, so here’s a super simple macaroni and cheese casserole recipe for you. A game changer of a hearty mac that takes very little work but yields  awesome results. Huzzah!

This dish has a long name but a short timeline: Gruyère and Emmentaler Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Ham and Cubed Sourdough. These cheeses are available pretty much everywhere, though you can use all Gruyére if you want, or all Emmentaler. You could swap out Gouda or cheddar for the Gruyère, and plain Swiss cheese or Monterey Jack for the Emmentaler. In other words, use whatever damn cheeses you like in this dish, as long as they’re melty and decadent.

Note: you can find Gruyère and Emmentaler cheeses at Trader’s Joe’s, Whole Foods, Costco, or most natural food stores and artisan cheese shops. I’ve even seen them at Fred Meyer, Safeway, Albertsons, Kroger, and Lucky’s, though it will entirely depend on the ordering habits of the store’s cheese buyer.

If you’re hoping to beat the Thanksgiving kitchen craziness, I recommend constructing this macaroni and cheese casserole the day before, including everything but the cubed sourdough topping (we don’t want those lusciously crunchy little cubes to get soggy, do we?), and then keeping it tightly wrapped in the refrigerator. Pull the casserole out of the fridge about an hour before you bake it to let the dish come to room temperature. Then, as soon as you pull the turkey out of the oven, add the bread cube topping to the casserole and slide it into the oven to bake while the turkey rests.

This dish is a game changer on so many levels: it’s simple but elegant, with a gorgeous array of textures that will tempt even the most sullen bah-Thanksgiving Scrooge. And since you can make it a day ahead with not a whole lot of work, consider this my early Christmas gift to you.

And for my awesome vegan readers? Here’s a vegan macaroni and cheese dish, just for you!

And Now for Something Competely Different: Steph and Garrett on Fox40 TV

As a side note, Garrett and I recently appeared on Fox40 News in Sacramento, where we made the avocado mac and sampled it with the news crew. We thought we’d share the segment so you can take a peek. Enjoy!

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Turkey Minestrone Soup Recipe

Turkey Minestrone Soup Recipe on http://www.theculinarylife.comSummer is officially over here in Oakland, with overcast mornings turning into cool evenings. As the hot season turns into autumn, it’s time to start thinking of soup recipes. This turkey minestrone soup, compliments of the ever-talented Thadeus Jones, was created just for seasonal changes like this. Make a lot and enjoy it for days.

When you are a kid, the world is a huge place that is at once exciting and full of wonderment, but also scary and daunting. The funny thing is that your whole ‘world,’ when you are that young, is just the few blocks you are allowed to wander or go to a friend’s house. It’s not even a world in the adult sense. It’s funny to look back and see that what you thought was this huge place is really just a few minutes of walking, and nothing like what adults have to contend with. That’s not saying that when we were kids we didn’t think of what we had as one giant playground full of friends, mean kids, homework, girls (eww cooties!), and other parents. [Read more...]

Winter Sweet Potatoes Gratin Recipe

Winter Sweet Potatoes Gratin Recipe on

I got this idea for sweet potatoes gratin after I made Gratin Dauphinois. I thought, what if I change up the recipe a little bit, using a different starch and a few new spices? I’m all about experimentation, and I was tired of the same old — though delicious — potato gratin recipe. I wanted a new game. And of course, I wanted it sweeter.

I opted to use sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes have less starch than their paler tuberous cousins, so the recipe required a little noodling to thicken the sauce up. I had a block of cream cheese in my fridge, so I used that. The texture of this gratin it nice and thick, with a velvety smooth finish from the cream cheese.

The end result is a savory sweet potatoes gratin that curled my toes. Think potatoes au gratin, but just a touch sweeter. I added a few winter spices to the mix, so this warm, comforting dish tastes similar to pumpkin pie; while it’s baking, the scent of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon will drift through your house, beckoning everyone to dinner.

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Gratin Dauphinois Recipe

Gratin Dauphinois Recipe on
This week I was surfing around The Kitchn and stumbled across a recipes for gratin dauphinois recipe (pronounced dow-FEEN-wah). What is gratin dauphinois, you ask? Well it’s a very, very rich version of potatoes au gratin (or potatoes gratiné), despite the fact that it contains no cheese.

Gratin dauphinois gets it names from the Dauphiné region of France. This particular version of potatoes gratiné is cooked simply, with just butter and cream, and involves rubbing a cut clove of garlic throughout the baking dish to infuse the gratin with the flavor of garlic. Overall, this dish is creamy and gooshie and perfect for those cold winter days when nothing seems to keep you quite warm enough. It’s like a big bear hug. [Read more...]