Pear + Cheddar Salad

New year. Who dis?

Ok ok bear with us. We’ve been absent, yes. But it was January, also known as the month of no inspiration and the month that Hannah moved to Chicago. (insert sassy dancing emoji of joy)

And here I am with a salad “recipe.” I guess it counts. Mostly I made this, loudly exclaimed about how Good I Am At Salads throughout dinner, and wanted to share. Don’t hate me.


  • 1/2 head of romaine lettuce
  • sharp white cheddar, cut into tiny cubes or crumbled if you have that kind of time
  • roasted, salted almonds, roughly chopped
  • Pear Champagne Salad dressing (Trader Joe’s is LIFE.)

Roughly chop up that romaine, cube the pears, cube the cheddar, and chop up some almonds. If you’re doing this for lunch and you want more protein, add some roasted/grilled chicken! Toss into a bowl that’s bigger than you think you need with less dressing than you think you need (add more if you want).

For now, please, I beg of you, use the Trader Joe’s dressing. It’s got champagne vinegar, gorgonzola cheese, pear mush, and evoo in it and it’s to die for. I’ll be working on making my own version over here in the Chicago test kitchen, but for now, use it, love it, drink it. (just kidding about one of those).

I would also like to take this moment to share an amazing service I just started using, called Imperfect Produce. Every week I get a cute little cardboard box full of veggies that have been deemed “unfit,” “uggles,” or “imperfect” by some people who think that grocery store veg should live up to Vogue standards. I have yet to receive any produce that is truly ugly. Mostly it’s just really delicious and really cheap. Last week I got 1 head of romaine lettuce, 1 bunch of organic swiss chard, 1 bunch of kale, 2 bosc pears, 4 kiwi, 2 cucumbers, 2 peppers, 4 beets, and a pound of potatoes. For $15. You read that right. $15. So if you live in a big city, I’d recommend them to you.



The Old-Fashioned Lantern: An NYE Cocktail

Just in time for your NYE celebrations, here’s our first cocktail recipe from Emily Andrews, Hannah’s best friend. Emily and her husband Ian are some of the best at throwing a good party, so we knew that they’d be the perfect guest-posters for this recipe. We hope you enjoy this smokey, spicy cocktail this New Years Eve as you’re kissing the new year in. Happy 2018!

About this time four years ago, I landed at the Spokane International Airport and stepped into the Pacific Northwest for the first time in my life. I had come to celebrate New Year’s with my boyfriend’s family, and to meet them for the first time.

Ian and I had not been dating very long – not even a year – but we were already talking about marriage. He and I are nothing if not tempestuous.

I was extremely nervous as I waited for my suitcase at baggage claim. I knew there was a good chance he would propose that week, but everything was so uncertain and I carried all the pressures and insecurities of being a senior entering my last semester of college like the proverbial monkey on my back. So many of my future plans hanged on what would happen here in this alien outlying territory of the Louisiana Purchase, and for heaven’s sake, what if his family didn’t even like me?!

The days of my scheduled trip ticked by. The Andrews were as warm and delightful as could be, although I might have surprised them with the churlish bent of my Scotch-Irish ancestry. I think Ian decided to marry me only after he found out I enjoyed drinking whiskey straight.

My expectations dwindled. He wasn’t going to propose this week.

So I was completely unassuming when Ian asked one night if he could take me on a walk through his parent’s property. We passed under the bright starts of the Washington night sky until Ian stooped at the base of a pine tree to pick up an old fashioned lantern and light it. He said they kept it there for when it got dark in the woods.

I believed him. I wasn’t initiated in the ways of the PNW. What did I know?

To make a long story short, he had fixed up a tent in the middle of the forest and laid out a picnic dinner for us there in front of an elaborate wood stove. He proposed. I cried. It was all the worst kinds of warm and fuzzy.

And here we are four years later, back in the place where it began. After a lot of cross country travel, we’ve bought a new home in Spokane and I am officially a PNWer myself, though Ian still makes fun of me for thinking all PNWers hide lanterns in the woods.
They say every home needs a house cocktail, and this is what Ian came up with for us. It bites like the pines of the PNW, smells sweet like the wood stove where we got engaged, and punches every bit like a feisty Andrews.

I hope that as you enjoy it, we may all find rest from any fears we have about the future in the New Year and joy in whatever adventures 2018 brings our way.


The Old-Fashioned Lantern


  • Grand Marnier
  • Old Forester Bourbon
  • Cinnamon Brown Sugar Simple
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Orange Rind


  • 2 Rocks Glasses
  • 2 oz. Jigger
  • 1 oz. Jigger
  • 3/4 oz. Jigger
  • A Lighter

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Simple Recipe:

Standard ratio for simple syrup: 1 cup of Extra Dark Brown Sugar to 1 cup of Water. In this case, however, add 2 cinnamon sticks. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate.

Using the lighter, set one end of a cinnamon stick on fire. This could take a second: be persistent. Once it is lit, upend one of the rocks glasses and place it over the top of the lit stick, so that the smoke fills the glass.

Fill other glass with ice. Add 3 oz. of Bourbon, 1 oz. Grand Marnier, and ¾ oz. Brown Sugar Simple. Stir briskly until chilled. Then, carefully but quickly, strain the mixture into the smoked glass over one large ice sphere. Snap and squeeze the orange rind over the cocktail, and drop it into the top as a garnish. Enjoy.


Merry Christmas!

From both of us here at Common Sense Kitchen, we wish you all things merry and bright this Christmas!

We’re taking this week off from recipes to spend time with our handsome husbands and our families. We’ll be curled up with steamy mugs of hot drinks and eating all the good foods that come out of our mom’s kitchens (so expect an over-flow of cooking creativity on the other side of this break).

Thank you so much for your support and enthusiasm as we’ve launched this little blog. It’s been a dream of both of us for a while and it’s been so much fun to make a reality. Can’t wait to see what 2018 holds for Common Sense Kitchen! Stick around for the ride, why don’t ‘cha?

Boldog karácsonyt! Fröhliche Weihnachten!

Hannah & Essie

Friday Faves: Host a Christmas Coffee

Here we are, back again with another nudge (whack?) to host people in your home. Do you hate us yet? Look, we’re both introverts, but we still love hosting people. There’s something about bringing people together, feeding them, and giving them an overabundance of caffeine, that really makes a house feel like a home. So, we’re back with more suggestions.

The Christmas season is full of amazing recipes, no one’s on a diet, and everyone’s in party mode. So grab a couple of your favorite pals and have a ladies night with dessert, coffee, and great conversation. Coffee and dessert are an especially great combo if an entire meal seems overwhelming.

We’re maybe a little bit obsessed with coffee. Both of us have an obscene number of ways to make coffee: espresso maker, Chemex, pour-over, moka pot, and percolator, to name a few. We love good, strong coffee to match our highly-opinionated personalities. It’s a killer combination, just ask our husbands. (Actually, maybe don’t.)

So drag out your favorite, most high-maintenance way of making coffee and make a fun dessert! We suggest this pear-cranberry galette, these cookies, or a store bought chocolate cake. We aren’t picky about the sort of sugary yumminess you serve with coffee, and we can guarantee your guests won’t be either.

We also would like to begin to beg you all to tag us on the ‘grams if you use one of our recipes. Pretty please? #commonsensekitchen #helpusout #makethefood #isitgood #arewecrazy (don’t hate us)

xoxo & Merry Christmas!

Hannah + Essie


Linzer Augen

While I was growing up, my family didn’t do much Christmas decorating during December. We saved that for Christmas Eve. However, we did bake up a storm in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Gingerbread, sugar cookies, “Linzer Augen” and a half dozen other traditional Austrian baked goods. Linzer Cookies come from the city of Linz, Austria which happens to be where I was born. So they’re a little bit of my heritage in sugar form.

I’ve adjusted my mom’s original German recipe to be in American measurements instead of grams. They’re easy and yummy. The trickiest part of these cookies is making sure they don’t burn. The bake time is 7-10 minutes, and ideally they should just have a hint of brown around the edges. Keep an eye on these stinkers, they’ll get dark quicker than you’d expect. Other than that, I can’t think of a way you could mess these up.

Turn on some tunes and cozy on up for a fun time filled with baking and delicious smells.


  •  Ingredients:
    • 2 1/3 c. flour
    • 1 1/4 c. almond flour or finely ground almonds
    • 1/2 c. sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp butter
    • 1 pinch salt
    • jam, currant jam is traditional, but raspberry is common in the States
    • powdered sugar to sprinkle on top
  • Directions:
    1. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl if needed.
    2. Add the egg and beat.
    3. Meanwhile, combine together the flour, almonds, and salt.
    4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix.
    5. Refrigerate dough until firm, about 1 hour.
    6. Preheat oven to 400°F.
    7. On a lightly floured surface, roll half the dough out until it’s about 1/8″-thick
    8. Use a 2 1/2″ round cookie cutter (or drinking glass), cut out cookies.
    9. Cut out a small circle or other shape out of the center of half the cookie rounds
    10. Transfer rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
    11. Gather the scrap dough, roll, and repeat.
    12. Bake all of the cookies for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn brown. Keep a careful eye on them after 7 minutes as they can go from lightly browned to dark in less than a minute.
    13. Let them cool for a couple minutes on the pan, then transfer to a rack
    14. Spread  1/2 tsp of jam on solid cookies.
    15. Top each with one of the cutout cookies to make a tiny cookie-jam-cookie sandwich.
    16. Sprinkle all the cookies with powdered sugar to finish.

Prost! Mahlzeit!


Pear-Cranberry Galette & Maple Ginger Glaze

What are your “Christmas flavors”? Is there anything your family used to make or buy that just tastes like Christmas? For me, it’s spiced pears.

Every Christmas dinner my grandmother used to make a cold, spiced pear soup as our appetizer. I used to hate it when I was little because of the pear strings that always lurk beneath the calm, nutmeg-sprinkled surface. But now I just love it and it marks the Christmas flavors for me.

When I was trying to come up with a great Christmas dessert, I knew I had to make a galette. I’ve loved making these recently because it’s all the satisfaction of a pie without as much of the crust stress.

In order to cut out that crust stress even more, just grab the frozen, pre-made pie crusts from Trader Joe’s. It’s on our list of Christmas TJ faves over here. I’m really picky about pie crust, but Y’ALL. These are delicious. I suggest rolling these out a little more until they’re quite a bit thinner, as they’re VERY thick the way they come and that takes away from the filling.


  • 6 small Bartlett pears, peeled & chopped
  • 1/2 C fresh cranberries, halved
  • 2 Tbls honey, slightly heated
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

I TJ pie crust, rolled out until it’s 1/8″ thick (ish).

Maple-ginger glaze:

  • 1/3 C maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger

All right, you found me out. It’s not a glaze, but it’s delicious. I just didn’t know what else to call it.

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix together all the filling ingredients. Since the ripe pears are very delicate and you don’t want the filling to be total mush, heat up the honey a little until it’s quite liquid. Mix gently with a spoon until all fruit is covered in the honey + spices.

Put the maple syrup and ginger in a small bowl and microwave it for 20 seconds.

Seriously. Microwave it.

Place the rolled-out dough either in a pie dish or on a lipped baking sheet, lined with parchment paper. The fruit will cook down and probably spill out of the dough, so make sure you’ve got something with a lip on it. The parchment paper will make sure that even though the galette is surrounded by sticky fruit liquid, you’ll still be able to get it off the baking dish.

Place your fruit filling into the center of the pie crust until you have 1″ to 1 ½” of dough all around. You may have some filling leftover! Pull the edges of the dough up around the filling and pleat it like you’re recovering a chair.

Bake it on 350 until the filling is bubbling and the crust is starting to brown. Brush it with butter and leave it for another 3-5 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Take it out of the oven and let it sit until it’s slightly cooled. Then you can take it out of the baking dish and plate it.

Drizzle the maple-ginger glaze over it and serve!

Serves: 4 (or like just you, but like I’m not gonna tell you how to live)






Friday Faves: Gathering

In this day and age of social media, it becomes so easy to assume we need special dishes, a theme and countless other things to make a dinner party look pretty. The truth is, once you have the people, everything else is unimportant. We truly mean that. Please don’t worry about the food, the place settings, or making your home perfect. Just invite those people over, plop some sort of food down in front of them, and get going with the good times.
For example, last year, Essie and her husband had moved into their new home and had no furniture and extensive renovations going on in most rooms. It would have been so easy to not let anyone see the mess. But instead they had some of the most fun gatherings, sitting on blankets on the floor with friends and family.
Please don’t be intimidated by other people’s beautiful pictures or the illusion of perfection. If you’re second-guessing your party-throwing abilities, chances are SO IS EVERYONE ELSE. We’ve put together a simple menu below + guide for hosting a gathering of your own this holiday season and hope it may give you a little push to start hosting and partying like the crazy kids you are.
A couple Common Sense tips to Gathering
  • Don’t worry about the table setting. The pictures we took for this post were created with Airbnb dishes, a scrap piece of fabric, and a potted plant we got at Trader Joe’s (have we mentioned that we love TJ’s? Too often, you say?). Use paper plates, your every day dishes, or pull out that wedding china you registered for and never use. It doesn’t matter. We just ask that you try not to buy anything extra for a gathering. A jar of roadside wildflowers or random greenery from in front of your house, a half burned candle, a plant you already have, a pretty scarf, a handful of pine cones, or just about anything can be spread out on your table, floor or counter to create a lovely atmosphere.
  • Keep the food simple. We love cooking, run a food blog, and dream about our kitchen at night (yes, really. We’re a couple nuts.), but neither of us would have an issue serving a salad kit and ordering pizza for a quick and easy gathering. There is nothing wrong with easy and simple. You’ll be happier and more relaxed for your friends, and everyone wins when that happens. Let go of the “supposed to”s and “should”s.
  • If you want to have new friends over for the first time, but you’re worried about it being awkward (something Hannah thinks about on the reg #halp), make dinner interactive! Let your guests help you by mixing the salad, chopping up fruit for a pie, or even have a make-your-own-pizza night!

If you’re feeling up to a bit more cooking, may we recommend this menu:
—- salad
—- good wine
—- something sweet
The brilliant thing about serving two roasted things is that you can cook them at the same time, at the same temperature. We love easy easy recipes. You can find our roasted chicken recipe here and our roasted veggie recipe there. Pop the chicken in at 450 and pop the veg in an hour later, then just leave ’em (don’t just forget about them – baste your chicken and turn your veggies, but you know what we mean). For a salad, we recommend the Veggies + Greens salad kit from TJ, mentioned here.
Good wine doesn’t need to break the bank; most people know what they like and what they don’t like. We love a good, robust red wine, so we recommend the Rodney Strong cabernet. Hannah found it at her local TJ for $14, which is a great price for an even better bottle. Other favorites include Trader Joe’s Coastal syrah, Josh cabernet, or an oaky, buttery chardonnay (try one from Wente!).
To finish the party, haul out some ice cream, a bag of Dove chocolates, or, if you’re like Hannah and Very Into Pie, try your hand at making a galette! We’re coming out with a recipe for a pear + cranberry galette next Monday. #getpumped
PARTY LIKE IT’S 2009. (We’re not sure what we mean by that).
Hannah + Essie