Author Archives: Doug Kinnison

Lovely French Macarons

Magnificent Macaroons - Kendall Totten Photography  

What would motivate a man to make some little pink french cookies that he’s never had before? Well, lately I’ve been learning to code video games, and I’ve been working so hard at developing that craft that I’ve been neglecting my savory hacker duties. So I thought I would switch gears and clear my head. Secondly, they are a gorgeous looking food. Finally, they are French. I’ve never been to France but I’ve been really into French food lately and I wanted to experience a bit of their culture.

I went online and watched Beth’s Foolproof French Macaron Recipe on YouTube like 4 times (no joke). If you follow this recipe, I would highly recommend doing the same. She clearly points out pitfalls to watch out for and what results you should look for.

People have been saying how difficult and time-consuming making macarons will be, but honestly after watching Beth’s video, they were pretty simple! This was my first attempt and they turned out fantastic. I did have help from my sous chef (and the love of my life) so that helped too!

Stack of Macaroons - Kendall Totten Photography

As you can see, the texture of macarons when done correctly have these little feet-like bottoms that are all rough. This is key to making sure that the macarons are firm, yet light and easy to chew. Kind of like firm cotton candy. This was my first time having a macaron, so I wasn’t sure what to put in the middle of the sandwich. Beth recommends something kind of tart to balance out the sweet. I didn’t have the time to create the berry filling that she showed, so instead I defaulted to Nutella, french preserves, and frosting. All of these were good but I have to say, they were indeed a bit too sweet. I would recommend taking Beth’s advice and using something tart in the middle.


When I was done, I was curious about the insides so I cut a cookie in half. I’m assuming that this is the ideal texture since our photos closely resemble those seen on other recipe sites. These were easy to eat and similar to cotton candy. In the end, even though they taste great and look so pretty, you may think you’d like to make like 2 dozen… but don’t. Trust me, one per person will be enough!

By the way, if you’re anything like us, you may be interested in knowing the difference between a macaroon and a macaron!

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When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie… that’s Amore!

After winding down a fantastic 2 year anniversary, I decided to make my first deep dish Chicago style pizza. I used my cast iron (because I thought that’s what they did at Giordanos in Chicago). This worked wonderfully!

The first basic step is the dough. I’m not going to give explicit instructions because most people have their own preferred methods but I will give a couple of secrets.

  1. The yeast loves sugar, so I add a tiny bit to the luke-warm water used to activate the yeast.
  2. “Luke-warm” doesn’t mean room temp., and you’re not warming the water for a baby. For best results, use the hottest water possible from the tap.
  3. Add a little extra flavor to the dough. I like to add some bread dipping seasonings or even basil to the flour before I add the water and yeast. I also use the “well” approach as opposed to mixing the yeast in the flour.
  4. I only let it rise once. It will continue to rise a little while it’s in the cast-iron pan waiting for the fillings.
  5. Finally, when kneading it, if the dough doesn’t make your arms tired then it’s not firm enough. Add tiny amounts of flour to the surface and knead in. The dough should have the slightest tackiness to it.

Now that you have your dough, you’ll want to make sure that it doesn’t stick to the pan, so coat the pan with a healthy amount of olive oil.

Then after rolling the dough very thin, lay it in the cast-iron pan like you would any pie crust. Be sure to press out the air bubbles that will likely form under the dough. Cut off the remaining extra dough from around the edges.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Now comes the fun part, the toppings, or more appropriate for this deep-dish pie, “fillings!”

First start with a thin layer of cheese on the bottom so that the crust will not get ruined by the tomatoes that we are about to add.

Then top the cheese with slices of fresh tomatoes one layer thick. Add some dried basil to the top of the tomatoes.

Now add a good healthy layer of sausage, real or vegan. We like Tofurkey Italian Sausage. I have to admit, I was worried about the sausage breaking down in the sauce and would have preferred the real deal but in the end it worked out just fine.

Then add piles of mushrooms,more dabs of sauce, and some pasta seasonings. Then a layer red peppers and a few more dabs of sauce.

Next add tons of cheese. I mean go nuts with it! If you bought cheep cheese, that’s fine, just don’t go quite as nuts or your pie will be more rubbery than you would probably prefer. I prefer fresh mozzarella.

After you’ve stuffed your pan almost as far as it will go, use the remaining dough to add a top crust to the pie. Be sure to pinch off the border like any sweet pie.

*WARNING* Don’t follow the picture to the right. Bonus points for if you already know why.

What you should do at this point (and I didn’t realize until I was literally placing this 50lb monstrosity of delight into the fires of Mordor) is butter the top of the crust and sprinkle with a little bit of garlic salt. I mistakenly added sauce and cheese to the top before placing it in the oven. This of course burned the cheese on the top early on (but it was still delicious!).

Place your pie in the 500 degree oven and set a timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, drop the temp by 100 degrees and let it go for another 30 minutes.

5 minutes before removing from the oven, top the pie with a little bit of sauce and cheese. Don’t go crazy with the cheese at this point, just a sprinkle a bit of mozzarella and parmesan.

When I took mine out, it didn’t stick to the pan one bit and I could spin it around with ease. Let it cool for 5 mins and then then serve. Here’s a tricky serving method (which I don’t recommend!) but I used a plate to flip the pizza out of the pan. Place the plate on top of the pie, press them together, flip the pie onto the plate, then cover with another plate and flip again.

Bingo-bango, you now have a Chicago style pizza, a happy belly, a fantastic smelling house and a beautiful best friend swooning. We enjoyed our pizza pie with some “Betty Faye” wine from Gregory Vineyards. Slightly sweet with a terrific flavor.

Thanks my love for an amazing 2 years! I can’t wait to see what cooking adventures we will have in the years to come!

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Eat like a King! Broiled Lobster with Mediterranean Sides

Lobster tail, Asparagus, rice, tabouli, roasted garlic

Lobster Tail Feast!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than surely a taste is worth a million. I didn’t grow up on lobster tail so I really didn’t know what to expect from this dish. It started because Fresh Market was having a sale on lobster tails for only $6 a piece.

Lobster tail, butter, salt, pepper, paprika, bread crumbs

Above: warm butter blended by hand with a fork, sea salt, paprika, bread crumbs, & fresh pepper. (Trust me, it’s fresh, even if I didn’t grow up on a pepper farm).

The recipe is really simple because most of the wow factor comes from the sheer fact that you are about to eat lobster. When we picked up the lobster tails, they were frozen. Let them thaw slowly in cold water over several hours. Don’t rush it or you break the cells down further and ruin the taste.

Split the lobster tail in half

Cut down the top of the tail, then grab it lengthwise and squeeze towards the bottom to open the shell further. This makes it easy to pull out the meat that’s inside. At first I had just reached in with my fingers and tried to pry it out the meat; and  while that did work, it turned out to be much more difficult.

By making a slit down the center, you can then fan out the meat and spread it over the top of the shell. This gives you a nice platform to add the butter, paprika and breadcrumbs.

The recipe I was following called for several tablespoons of softened butter. So I added a lot of butter… too much really. Lobster has such a sweet delicate taste of its own, that the gobs of butter almost masked the lobster altogether.  Lesson learned, next time I’m going to only use minimal butter and let the lobster speak for itself.

Once the tails are prepped,  pop them into the pre-heated over at 350 degrees for about 18-20 mins. The final color should not have anything translucent, it should all be a solid white.

The Accompaniments

Roasted garlic is a great ingredient to many recipes, but it can also double as a tasty side dish. Pull off as much of the dry garlic skin as possible, cut the top flat and sprinkle with olive oil and pepper, maybe a dash of salt. Then wrap them in tin foil, and place in oven for 20 minutes. Delicious!

Kendall made some fresh tabouli salad for a side. You can buy a pre-made tabouli salad mix that calls for only olive oil and water, but we recommend also adding your own fresh parsley, tomato, and lemon juice.

Next we roasted some asparagus with salt, pepper and Fustini’s Sage & Wild Mushrooms Olive Oil. Take care not to over-cook it, as it’s always better with a little crunch.

And finally we threw in some rice with italian herbs, olive oil and green olives on top.

Broiled lobster tail, rice, tabouli, asparagus, roasted garlic.

Lobster tail tastes like a million bucks, but isn’t too difficult to prepare at home.

This dish was fun to make, easy and well worth it! I have to say that this was one of my favorite dishes that we have made so far. It will definitely make the cut and will be something that we use to entertain guests with in the future!

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Bi-Bim-Bop Bowls

Any savory hacker worth his (or her) salt loves a good hearty bowl of Bi-Bim-Bop. This Bi-Bim-Bop will knock your socks off unless you cut back on your Sriracha, however this is not suggested.

So here is how I’m doing it. I begin with some cilantro lime rice like they serve at Chipotle.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Cilantro Lime Rice

That goes in the bottom of the bowl. Then I saute some meat (or tofu) and add some Veri-Teriyaki.


The Sauces: Veri-Teriyaki and Sriracahhhhh!!

Once the meat is cooked, I add a little pepper oil and then toss in my stir-fry veggies. I like to use red and yellow peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms and onions. Add the mushrooms last so that they stay fresh and don’t give up their juices.



Once this is done, set it aside and get the pan real hot. Add a fair amount of oil and fry two eggs. You can serve the eggs anyway that you prefer. I like to do them over-easy. When the eggs are done, set them aside and begin to prepare your dish. Add rice to the bottom of the bowl, then add some shredded cabbage… Oh wait, what’s this???

Bi-Bim-Bop Cabbage Cup!

Bi-Bim-Bop Cabbage Cup!

Cabbage leaves are the EXACT same size as bowls? Forget the title of this post. No longer will it be Bi-Bim-Bop Bowls  It will now be called Bi-Bim-Bop Cabbage Cups!

Add your veggies and meat I often at this stage like to add a little more Veri-Teriyaki to the dish. Now place your fried eggs on everything and add some sliced avocado.

Rolling the goods

Rolling the goods

Garnish with a little Sriracha sauce (or a lot as I prefer). Serve with a smile and enjoy with great company!

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Perfectly Timed Pork Stew

Perfectly Timed Pork Stew

Perfectly Timed Pork Stew

Pork Stew with Beef Broth Base


  • Brown the pork in olive oil after coating in flour and herbs.
  • Set pork aside.


  • Sweat the garlic, onion, carrots, celery in left over grease from the browning for 5 mins.
  • Add some dry wine and reduce.
  • When reduced, add the broth and pork to the sweating veggies.
  • After a 30 minute simmer, add leeks, pork, both sweet and russet potatoes, more carrots, and squash.
  • After another 30 minute simmer, add 1 TBSP of butter, and the remaining flour you used to coat the pork.
  • Stir for 5 mins and serve with some awesome bread from the Ann Arbor Food Co-Op.
  • Top with pepper and parmesan cheese.

*Hint: It’s better the second day.

Pork Stew

I love to add the bread and let it soak.

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Chicken Dumpling Soup?

Chicken Dumpling Soup

I love chicken Dumplings + I love chicken noodle soup from scratch.


  • Dumplings mix
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan cheese


  • Boiled chicken
  • Stock from chicken
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onion


When the soup is done cooking, add the dumplings to the pot in big spoonfuls. Cover and cook till done.

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Dr. Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich - snapped with an iPhone

Cooking the Pork Roast:

  • Pull the fat off the pork
  • Place in slow cooker
  • Add one 2 Litre of Dr. Pepper
  • Let cook for at least 7 hours *DO NOT OPEN THE LID!
  • Separate pork
  • Add BBQ Sauce from Cherry Republic

Creating the Sandwich:

  • Fresh bun
  • Coleslaw
  • Kettle chippies
  • Pulled pork

Note: We first tried using this coleslaw recipe from, and thought it was good but just okay. Later we adapted it recipe and made our own!

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Math Tastes Good.

Ham Bagel With Avocado and Cream Cheese

Ham Bagel With Avocado and Cream Cheese

Don’t forget to pick up your half-dozen Zingerman’s bagels for FREE on your birthday!

Check out our other Zingerman’s bagel recipe ideas.

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