Wednesday, December 21, 2011

pumpkin eggnog ice cream

 (grainy photo from my phone)

Recently a friend sent me a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Shakes, which sounded amazing, but I had unfortunately just ran out of leftover Pumpkin Pie. It inspired me to come up another seasonal concoction, Pumpkin Eggnog Ice cream. I looked up some recipes, but so many ice cream recipes involved cooking things then tempering them, and I was (am) lazy, so wanted an easy and fast way to my Pumpkiny-Eggnog filled dreams. I remembered that when I made the ice cream for the Roasted Cherry Coconut Ice Cream sandwiches, I didn't have to do any of that. So I based some of the recipe on that. I sort of just threw a bunch of stuff together, and I must say, the result is pretty great. Don't you love when mad kitchen science works out?

PS: This would also make a nice Christmas gift, and/or a great treat to bring to a Holiday Party.

Pumpkin Eggnog Ice Cream

16 oz. Eggnog
1 cup heavy cream
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 can Spided Pumpkin
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

Whisk together the ice cream ingredients in a large bowl. Make sure the sweetened condensed milk has been thoroughly mixed into the cream.

Put the ice cream mix in your ice cream maker and freeze according to instructions. Freeze. EAT.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

apple butter

Remember my influx of apples? Well, this is part two of Apple Fest, 2011. I've talked about apple butter before, and it's delightful. This apple butter turned out different than the last batch. I may have cooked it too long, but this stuff is much thicker. I was nervous about that, but then I tried it. It is almost like bread candy. Cinnamon apple bread candy. Yep, I just blew your mind. Now go blow someone else's mind. (Also! This makes a wonderful Christmas gift.)

5 1/2 pounds apples - peeled, cored and finely chopped
4 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place the apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples in the slow cooker and mix well. Cover and cook on high 1 hour.
Reduce heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown. Uncover and continue cooking on low 1 hour. Stir with a whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate or freeze.

(I found the recipe found here) 

**PS- if anyone has any diabetes or celiac friendly recipes or sites they can recommend, can you send them my way? 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

apple coffee cake with crumble topping and brown sugar glaze

 (photo from my instagram)

Recently, I had an influx of apples, thanks to an awesome neighbor, and I was looking for yummy ways to use them up. I was talking to my sister-in-law (2.0) and she suggested a cake that my oldest sis likes to make. So, like the homegirl she is, she emailed me this recipe so I could try it. Well, I sure am glad I did. It's definitely not low in sugar, but it's high in awesome. It's a great holiday party cake, so bring this with your ugly Christmas sweater to your next party!

Apple Coffee Cake with Crumble Topping and Brown Sugar Glaze


1 stick plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apples

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Brown Sugar Glaze:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with 2 teaspoons of the butter. 
In a large bowl, cream together the remaining stick of butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating after the addition of each. In a separate bowl or on a piece of parchment, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Fold in the apples. Pour into the prepared baking dish, spreading out to the edges.

To make the topping, in a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter, and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the cake and bake until golden brown and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

To make the glaze, in a bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla, and water and mix until smooth. Drizzle the cake with the glaze and let harden slightly.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm in love with these vase mills. I saw them originally on one of my favorite blogs, Design Milk. I have a thing for salt and pepper mills. Maybe, when I have a bigger place, I can start a super sweet collection—and these will definitely make the cut, that's for sure.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

ultimate banana bread

I've been wanting to make this bread for a while. I love America's Test Kitchen more than most things. Baking Illustrated is practically my cooking/baking Bible (in addition to my family recipe book). So, needless to say, I follow their blog and collect as many recipes as I can. (Maybe one day I'll beg and beg and beg and they'll let me work in their Test Kitchen?) This was entitled Ultimate Banana Bread and uses SIX, count them, SIX extra ripe bananas. And you use the juices from the bananas for extra flavor. It's full-on. Full-on delicious!

Ultimate Banana Bread

Makes one 9-inch loaf

Be sure to use very ripe, heavily speckled (or even black) bananas in this recipe. This recipe can be made using 5 thawed frozen bananas; since they release a lot of liquid naturally, they can bypass the microwaving in step 2 and go directly into the fine-mesh strainer. Do not use a thawed frozen banana in step 4; it will be too soft to slice. Instead, simply sprinkle the top of the loaf with sugar. The test kitchen’s preferred loaf pan measures 8½ by 4½ inches; if you use a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan, start checking for doneness five minutes earlier than advised in the recipe. The texture is best when the loaf is eaten fresh, but it can be stored (cool completely first), covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.

1¾ cups (8¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
6 large very ripe bananas (about 2¼ pounds), peeled (see note)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.

2. Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have ½ to ¾ cup liquid).

3. Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

4. Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1½-inch-wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

5. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

family foods

I was just in Southern California to see family for a last minute, much needed getaway. I really wanted to hang out with this girl (and the rest of my family, too).

I'm sure it goes without saying, that when I'm around my family, the food is always in delicious abundance. Here are a few things we ate/made.

My sister made homemade chicken noodle soup (homemade noodles, too!), and My sister-in-law made this amazing sourdough artisan bread, which she's been working on perfecting for a bit. I'd say she hit the mark. My goodness, it was fantastic! I will see if she'll do a guest post and give us all her secrets.

Sis-in-law, will heretofore be known as 2.0 (that's my nickname as her, seeing as how we have the exact same name, but she's more awesome than me, hence the v.2.0). Anywho, 2.0 made some awesome sourdough pancakes and put shredded apples in them. They were a delight.

 Here is a photo of the start. I'll share the sourdough recipe at the end of the post. You're welcome. (You'll need a sourdough starter to make this)

And one of my favorites, and 2.0's as well, Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cake.

Now for the Sourdough Pancakes recipe:

1 egg
2 T. oil
¼ c. milk
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 T. sugar

Add 2 cups warm water and 2 ½ cup flour to 1 cup start. Mix together and let sit overnight. In morning, put one cup in with starter again, leaving you with 4 ½ cup batter. Add any fruit or other lil' nuggets you like to the pancakes. For shredded apples, you add it to the whole batter, if you add chocolate chips or blueberries, add them to freshly poured batter. Griddle or pan should be at medium heat, flip when doughy side bubbles. When pancakes are cooked as golden as you like, EAT THEM UP.
***For Sourdough Waffles, add 2 more tablespoons of oil.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Oatmeal Cake with Pears

It's comfort food season, and pear season—which, in my opinion—go hand in hand. I had some pears that I wanted to use up and I was trying to think of the best way to do so. I remembered my sister-in-law's (and her mom's) famous and amazing Oatmeal Cake. They have always done it in a bundt pan, but I figured I'd try this cake with pears on the bottom, in a 9x13 pan. It was magical! Seriously, this is one of my favorite cakes ever. It has so many of my favorite elements, cinnamon, oatmeal, coconut, pecans, caramelized goodness, and now pears. Make this cake! Your everything will thank you!

Oatmeal Cake with Pears (slightly adapted from my sis-in-law's recipe)
1/2 c. butter
1 1/4 c. oatmeal
1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. milk
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
4 Pears, peeled and sliced thin 

Butter a 9X13 cake pan. Line bottom of the pan with prepared pears; set aside. In a bowl melt butter and combine with oatmeal, add boiling water, let sit for 20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour batter over pears and bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until golden and cake springs back at your touch.

3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. coconut
1/3 c. butter
1 cup pecans (chopped well)

Heat the butter, sugar, and heavy cream until the mixture begins to bubble on the sides, making sure that the butter is completely melted (do not bring to a boil). Fold in pecans and coconut and pour over hot cake. Place under the broiler (lo broiler) for 1-3 minutes and watch carefully so that the coconut doesn’t burn. The topping should bubble and become somewhat caramelized. Put this in your face as soon as humanly possible.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

some foods from my new york trip

Last week, I went to New York with a good friend of mine—then proceeded to eat my way through the city. Here are some photos from some of the gastronomic highlights.

 On the way there, I sat next to a native New Yorker on the plane who said I had to go to Ferrara since it has so much history. It's been around since 1892. They are famous for their cannoli's and other Italian pastries. Above is a Lemon Meringue tart.

Part of a GIANT Lobster Tail pastry, also from Ferrara.

We went to Brooklyn to meet with some of our dear friends, Dallas and TJ, and they took us to a place I've been dying to go: Four & Twenty Blackbirds. They have incredible made-from-scratch pies. Clockwise from the top left 1) Maple Buttermilk, 2) Salted Honey, 3) Plum Crumble and 4) Salted Caramel Apple.

Here is the storefront.

Vanilla Buttermilk Waffle with an apple sauce and raspberry coulis with vanilla creme fraiche and some kind of amazing sauce that seemed caramely and super delish from Clinton Street Baking Company. My mom has their cookbook, and every recipe looks amazing. I would eat anything on their menu. Every day. All day. Anytime.

Monday, October 10, 2011

an "ah-ha moment"

A few months back, a woman named Olivia contacted me on behalf of Mutual of Omaha’s “Aha Moment” campaign. Every summer, for the past few years, they take an Airstream trailer across the country and interview people about their "Ah-ha moments"—and they asked me to be a part of it this year. It's a pretty cool concept, and the first time I've gotten a non-spam email from a company through my blog—so I looked into it. As much as being on camera freaks me out (you'll notice my blushing), and feeling like a giant dork, I decided to do it. So, last month, I met the very nice team and hopped into their trailer and tried to make sense of why I have my blog and why I love baking so much. Here is a link to my video.

(And please don't think I'm as big of a dork as I think I am.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Peach Cobbler

In my last post, I discussed my love for peaches. They are The Fruit of The Gods. Why can't they just be in season all year? Then I could make Peach Cobbler anytime I want. This recipe is from the awesome cookbook The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather. This recipe is super easy and so, so good.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup milk
3 cups sliced fresh peaches, peels left on
1/2 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan set over medium-high heat until it bubbles and turns a nut-brown color. Watch the butter closely, as it can go from browned to burned in a few seconds. Pour the butter into an 8-inch-square baking dish. In a medium, stir together the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, and milk. Pour the milk mixture on top of the melted butter. Do not stir. Without mixing, arrange the peaches evenly on top of the batter. Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar over the cobbler.

Bake the cobbler for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top turns golden brown. The batter will migrate from the bottom of the pan to cover the peach slices. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, September 19, 2011

blueberry peach crumb muffins

When blueberries are on sale, I can't seem to help myself from buying as many as possible. So, due to my recent influx of those little blue bits of glory, I needed to find an awesome blueberry muffin recipe. I've made a lot before, but when I saw this recipe from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri, I knew I had to try it. I'll be honest, he had me at "Crumb Topping".  Also, I needed to add peaches, cause well, peaches are awesome. Do I really need another reason? Didn't think so. Without further ado, here is the recipe...

Blueberry Peach Crumb Muffins
(This says it makes 12 standard muffins, but I definitely had batter leftover. I bet it could make 18, with my muffin tins)

Crumb topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar

Muffin batter:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 freshly grated nutmeg
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, barely softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 pint blueberries, rinsed, drained and picked over (I personally would use more than this next time)
1 peach peeled and diced

1. Preheat oven to 375°

2. For the crumb topping, combine the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl and stir well to mix. Melt the butter in a small pan. Remove from the heat, then add the brown sugar to the pan of melted butter and use a small heatproof rubber spatula to stir them together. Scrape the butter and sugar mixture into the flour mixture, stirring it in until the flour es evenly moistened. Set aside while preparing the muffin batter.

3. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a mixing bowl and stir well to mix.

4. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowls of an electric mixer fitter with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for about 1 minute, or until well mixed and a little lightened in color. Beat eggs one at a time, beating smooth after each.

5. Decrease the mixer speed to low and beat in 1/2 the flour mixture. Stop the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and beater.

6. On low speed, beat in the milk. After the batter has absorbed the milk, beat in the remaining flour mixture. Stop and scrape down the bowl and beater again.

7. Add the blueberries and peaches to the bowl and beat them into the batter on the lowest speed for no more than 2 to 3 seconds, to crush some of the berries slightly.

8. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to give a final mixing to the batter.

9. Divide the batter equally among the cavities in the muffin pan. Break the crumb topping into small crumbs with your fingertips and scatter over the top of each muffin. Bake the muffins until they are well risen, feel firm to the touch, and the topping is golden, about 30 minutes. Cool the muffins in the pan on a rack.

Monday, September 5, 2011

foods from my trip, part ii

More deliciousness...

Fresh garden tomatoes. (Yellow is my favorite!)

Freshly juiced apple juice from homegrown apples in my parent's yard. (One of the best things I've ever had!)

Mint It's-It!! Yummy. The real San Francisco treat.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, September 4, 2011

foods from my trip home

Mom's homemade Rhubarb Pie.

Lunch from Dottie's. Zucchini cakes with poached eggs grilled cornbread. Grilled cornbread is the best thing ever.

My favorite ice cream from childhood and just life in general: Chocolate Malted Crunch from Thrifty's.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

whole wheat chocolate chip cookies

I stumbled upon this recipe the other day and had to try it. I love chocolate chip cookies of all kinds, but I haven't seen a whole wheat recipe before. So, for you (and mostly for me) I decided to try it. And I'm glad I did. I adjusted it a bit from the recipe on Butteredup, I made my cookies smaller and just used semi-sweet chips (cause I'm lazy), but I was super happy with the result. 

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Seen on Butteredup adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce via Orangette

3 cups whole wheat flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 ½ teaspoon sea salt 
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar 
1 cup sugar 
2 large eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
8 semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to blend. 

2. Put the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl, and blend on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the chocolate, and mix on low speed until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and then use your hands to turn and gently massage the dough, making sure all the flour is absorbed. Chill dough for at least 12 hours. 

3. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat to 350°F. Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment or silpats.

4. Scoop cookie dough onto cookie sheet. (I used a medium cookie scoop to get the size I wanted).   

5. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until somewhat cracked and browned.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

zucchini banana bread

(sorry about the crappy phone photo)

Zucchini season is here! And there is a LOT of it. I had the pleasure of receiving some gigantor garden variety zuccs recently and had to find a load of zucchini recipes to use up the copious amounts of the veggie I now had in my possession. The first recipe is yummy, moist-deluxe Zucchini Bread, adapted from Southern Plate: Classic Comfort Food That Makes Everyone Feel Like Family. It's sooooo good, you must try it! 

Zucchini (with banana and coconut - added by me) Bread.
makes 2 loaves

3 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/2 c. greek yogurt
2 t. vanilla extract
splash almond extract
2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1 mashed banana
1/2 cup coconut
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease two 4 x 8-inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat the banana till soft. Combine with the eggs, oil, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, almond extract, zucchini and coconut. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix all ingredients together.

Pour into the pans and bake for 1 hour, or until the centers are no longer soft.

PS: If you haven't tried Banana or Zucchini Bread toasted with butter, you are missing out, so go fix this mistake!

PPS: If you are trying to save your extra shredded zucchini for later, do not use a food saver, if you have one. I learned the hard way that you just need to measure it out into ziplocs and not try to be fancy and food-save it, unless you want green juice all over everything.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


My friend, Julia (remember her from all the great photos?) did a little interview with me. Go here to see it!

(photo by Julia Bender)

Monday, August 1, 2011

banana oat squares

I like sleep. Sleep is good. This love for sleep sometimes makes it hard for me to have a decent breakfast before I have to get out the door. Because of this constant conundrum, I'm always looking for a grab-and-go options. I can't remember how I came across this recipe, but it fits the bill. It's filling and pretty healthy. I added ground flax seed and toasted wheat germ and swapped the type of nuts, and I am pretty happy with the result. While I use these as a breakfast booster, these could be a substitute for granola bars or cookies. They have a soft and light texture, with a hint of hearty-ness. Check out the recipe below!

Banana Oat Squares, adapted from Sweet and Savory Tooth via Notecook

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 to 1 cup mashed bananas (3 bananas)
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg and beat well. Add salt and mashed banana and mix until incorporated . Add oats and nuts. Stir. Spread in greased 8×8 inch pan. Bake for almost an hour until firm. Cool and cut into squares.

Monday, July 25, 2011

olive oil granola with dried apricots and pistachios

(photo by Julia Bender)

Remember how I'm obsessed with granola? I see a new variation, and I can't help but try it. This was my latest discovery, and I sure do love it. I found this recipe from the New York Times, via thekitchn (have you noticed I like that blog? Cause I'm siting it in almost every post? Can I work for them, please?) It's so delicious. It's got a bit of a savory vibe, working with a little bit of sweet. It's like a sophisticated granola. The ingredients are a little on the expensive side, so in the future, I'd like to try swapping out different nuts and seeds to make a less expensive version. But try this at least once, you'll love it! I know I did. Lots.

Olive Oil Granola With Dried Apricots and Pistachios

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups raw pistachios, hulled
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup coconut chips
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
Fresh ricotta, for serving (optional)
Fresh berries, for serving (optional).

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats,
pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil,
brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed
baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every
10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to
combine. Serve with ricotta and fruit, if desired.

Yield: About 9 cups.

Monday, July 18, 2011

ice cream sandwiches: roasted cherry coconut ice cream with gingersnap cookies

(photo by Julia Bender)

As it turns out, I have pretty rad and talented friends. I know a lot of people say that, but allow me to brag for a moment. Julia is a gorgeous and talented photographer, not to mention fun roommate and travel companion and secret code talker. We lived together in SF for 4 years and became like sisters. This summer has been extra fun for me, cause she's been in town, and we've been recreating our old times of awesomeness. Including this little mini photoshoot of a practice round of ice cream sandwiches and some granola (this recipe is coming, just you wait). Isn't she awesome? Also, while in SF, we became good friends with Chef Tom Call. I talked about him before here. Well, the ice cream sandwiches I was testing and Julia was shooting were for this event. When I got my ice cream maker, all I could think about was ice cream sandwich combos. This was the first one I thought of. I liked the idea of cherry ice cream with gingersnaps. I felt like the combo of a chewy and slightly spicy cookie with the freshness of a summer fruit was pretty ideal for an outdoor summer meal. I did a lot of practice tests and research on possible recipe combinations. For the ice cream, I loved this recipe by Faith Durand; who's recipes are always so on point. She doesn't disappoint this time, either. I mean, c'mon, it's got COCONUT MILK in it. You know I'm down for some coconut. (I don't know how her ice cream stays white, I've made this recipe a few times now, and it always ends up pink with the juice from the cherries. Still tastes delish, though.)

Quick Coconut Ice Cream with Roasted Cherries
(makes 1 quart)

For roasted cherries:
1 pound Bing cherries
2 tablespoons sugar

For coconut ice cream:
One 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 cup cream
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Heat the oven to 450°F. Toss the cherries with the sugar and spread them out in one layer on a large baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring several times, and watching to make sure the sugar and juices don't burn. Remove from the oven and let cool. Pit the cherries and set them aside.

Whisk together the ice cream ingredients in a large bowl. Make sure the sweetened condensed milk has been thoroughly mixed into the cream.

Put the ice cream mix in your ice cream maker and freeze according to instructions. When the ice cream is the texture of soft-serve, scrape it out and fold in the roasted pitted cherries. Transfer to a bowl or container and cover the ice cream with plastic wrap so that the plastic wrap is in full contact with the surface of the ice cream. Freeze for another 2 hours, or until firm.

Tip: Chill the separate ingredients (coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk) for an hour in the refrigerator before mixing everything together. This will help the mix be colder and therefore freeze faster when you put it in the ice cream maker.


For the cookies, I tried a few things, but I settled on an adaptation of this cookie from Martha Stewart (when in cookie doubt, go Stewart!). I really don't know what the deal with this recipe was, but I made it four different times, and I could never get them this fluffy, and mine were much darker than the picture. I wanted these to be really chewy, too, so I added ground oats and more flour. It also helped when the dough was refrigerated overnight and rolled into balls and put in the oven to bake when still cold.  I wanted to make sure they were solid enough to hold ice cream without leaking, but not so thick that it overpowered the ice cream. I think with the few tweaks I noted, that it's a great cookie solution. Here is the original recipe:

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (I ended up with 1 1/4 cup)
(I added 1/2 cup of ground oats)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch of baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar plus some for sprinkling (I didn't sprinkle any extra)
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons molasses

Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture holds together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg, vanilla, and molasses. Mix on medium speed until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Place the dough on parchment paper and roll out into an 8-inch-long X 1 1/2-inch-wide log. Freeze until firm, up to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the log into 1/4-inch rounds, place on a baking sheet 1/2 inch apart, and sprinkle with sugar (I skipped this part, because I was filling these bad boys with ice cream - no extra sugar needed!) Bake until the cookies crack slightly on the surface, about 12 minutes (9 minutes was my magic number). Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

Monday, July 11, 2011

peanut butter ice cream

I was hangin' with my awesome niece this weekend, and we decided we wanted to make ice cream. I think it's well established that I love all things peanut butter, so naturally, that was what I was looking for. Thankfully I found this recipe. And I'll tell you what, it delivered. I loved it, the niece loved it, and so did all the other taste testers. So bottom line is, you need to make this! Like right now!

Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
Yield: About 7 cups of ice cream
Prep Time: 12 min + processing time

A peanut buttery ice cream with chocolate peanut butter cup chunks mixed in...

1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped chocolate peanut butter cups (I used a bag of the mini Reece's peanut butter cups)

1. Make the base: In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to combine peanut butter and sugar until smooth. Add milk and mix on low until sugar is dissolved- a full two minutes. You don't want to be tasting crunches of sugar in your ice cream, so give it a chance to dissolve. Mix in heavy cream and vanilla and beat until well combined and smooth.

2. Process the ice cream: Turn on your ice cream machine, pour the base in the freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes. A couple of minutes before you're ready stop the mixing, add in the chopped peanut butter cups. The ice cream will be a soft-serve consistency. You can eat it right away, or freeze to eat later. If you freeze it for later, it will be more ice-cream-scoopable. Let it sit out for a few minutes before you try to scoop it.

Source: (adapted from The Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker recipe booklet)

Monday, June 13, 2011

bakesale betty's fried chicken sandwiches and lemon ice

A long time ago, I posted about going to Bakesale Betty's in Oakland. It was so inspiring and delicious. If I opened my own storefront, I'd love to run it similar to her business model. The last week I was in SF for work, I stayed the weekend to hang with the parents, and I dragged them out to this giant White Elephant Sale, then to Bakesale Betty's. I've been craving that lemon ice since I first had it years ago and I just wanted them to see this place that really inspired me to want to do my own thing with food one of these days (someday? hopefully?). When we were ordering in line and Ms. Bakesale herself realized my mom had never been there and we were just getting lemon ice's, she gave us two of their famous fried chicken sandwiches—on the house. Seriously, I love this woman! We took it home and split them up between the parents and myself. We were all blown away. A few weeks later, my dad did his thing and found the recipe for this online and for the lemon ice that haunts me on the daily. Fast forward to Memorial weekend, when my parents and I were visiting two of my sibs in Southern California. Needless to see, we made these ridiculously good sandwiches and the drink. Everyone LOVED it! The cole slaw that you make really puts it over the top. My rad sis-in-law who haaaaaates onions totally got down with these bad boys. I'd call this success for all parties. See recipes below.

Bakesale Betty's Fried Chicken Sandwich
Serves 4
You'll have some breading left over, even after dipping twice. This makes a hefty sandwich in all regards - you'll need two hands to eat it.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 6 ounces each (we sliced the chicken breasts in half, to make sure they weren't too thick. Or you could pound them to be flatter, if you don't want to slice them)
Kosher salt to taste
1 quart buttermilk
The vinaigrette1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
The coleslaw1 small red onion, very thinly sliced (we used half this amount)
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 jalapenos, seeded, cut in half and sliced crosswise
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 green cabbage, core and outer leaves removed, and very thinly sliced
Kosher salt
The breading1 pound all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt + more to taste
11/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
4 Acme Bakery torpedo rolls, sliced lengthwise (we found rolls as close to this as possible. We also buttered and toasted the buns, to avoid soggy bread)

Instructions: Season chicken breasts with kosher salt. Let sit at least 5 minutes. Fill a wide, shallow nonreactive bowl or casserole dish with buttermilk. Add the chicken and soak in the refrigerator for 1 hour up to overnight.
For the vinaigrette: Combine mustard, vinegar and salt in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until well blended.
For the coleslaw: Macerate onions in red wine vinegar, and let sit at least 20 minutes. Remove onions and discard vinegar. Toss onions with jalapeno, parsley, cabbage and salt. Toss with vinaigrette until evenly coated.
To fry chicken: Pour vegetable oil into a large stockpot. Do not fill up more than halfway, or the oil could splatter. Bring oil up to 365°, using a digital thermometer/candy thermometer to monitor the heat. Prepare the the breading while waiting for oil to heat up.
In a wide shallow bowl, mix flour, cayenne, salt and pepper. Pull a chicken breast out of the buttermilk one by one, letting excess drip off, and dredge completely in flour. To create a thick crust, place in buttermilk and dredge in flour a second time. Do not drain or shake off excess buttermilk or flour during the breading process.

When the oil is at 365°, carefully place chicken pieces into oil one by one. Let it cook for a minute before disturbing chicken, then help it "swim" in the oil with tongs, until it is evenly cooked, about 5-7 minutes. Remove chicken from oil and drain on paper towels. Season immediately with salt.

For the sandwich: Place fried chicken breast on bottom of torpedo roll and top generously with coleslaw.
(recipe found via)

Bakesale Betty's Lemon Ice
Makes about 5 drinks
This recipe is from Alison Barakat (a.k.a. Betty), owner of Bakesale Betty in Oakland, where the lemon ice is kept frozen in a slush machine. This is an adapted version for home cooks.

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup hot water
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
Instructions: In a 2-quart pitcher, whisk sugar with hot water until sugar is dissolved. Add 2 cups cold water and the lemon juice, and stir until combined.

Pour 2 1/2 cups of the lemon mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. Store the rest in the refrigerator. Add lemon ice cubes and liquid mixture to a blender and pulse until you get a slushy consistency. Pour into 5 glasses and serve immediately.

(We used an ice cream maker and mixed it until it was slushy enough, since we didn't have time to make the cubes.)
recipe found via

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

chocolate chocolate cookies with caramel bits

I could probably think of a more fancy sounding name for these cookies, but why not call a spade a spade? Or a chocolate chocolate cookie with ooey-gooey bits of caramel just what it is? I wanted to make a cookie and I was feeling really uninspired at the time, so I called me oldest sis for some guidance. We both are recent Cuisinart food-processor owners (her even more recently), so she pointed me to a double chocolate cookie recipe from the cookbook that comes with the food processor. We clearly come from the same gene pool, because we both thought the dough would be chocolatey, with chocolate chips to boot. Don't tell anyone but, I often break the cardinal rule of baking—which is—READ THE RECIPE before you start baking. But, since I take after my mom and have a very well stocked kitchen, I almost always have what I need on-hand, or can substitute something better, I sometimes just dive in without reading. This time was no exception; most of the way into the recipe, I realized that "double chocolate" meant white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips. Whoopsie! I don't really like milk chocolate chips anyway, or white for that matter, so I made some swaps and added my favorite ingredient: CARAMEL. Yums Magee! I tried these out on my family and they approved. You could ask my niece, who swiped the cookie from her mother and shoved it in her mouth, but her favorite word is bubble, so she may not be able to wax too poetic -- so, you'll just have to take my word for it. Here is my altered recipe:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup pecans
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/3 cups cocoa powder (depending on how rich you want these)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup caramel bits (I cut up Kraft caramels into little bits - I also tried a recipe using the pre-made bits, but I liked the chopped up version better. See how dedicated I am to making the perfect recipe??)

Preheat oven to 375°

Put flour, pecans, soda and salt in bowl of food processor; process to combine and finely chop pecans (pecans should not be chunky—they should mix in will with the consistency of the flour). Reserve.

Process eggs and sugars for 1 minute. Scrape work bowl. Add butter, vanilla and cocoa; process for 1 minute. Scrape work bow. Add reserved chocolate, caramel bits and flour mixture. Pulse until combined.

Drop by rounded tablespoons, about 1 inch apart, onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, for 10 minutes (the tops should crack). Allow to cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

event: market-inspired summer dinner with chef tom call

You guys, something very fun and exciting is happening. My good friend, Tom Call, is an amazing chef in San Francisco (you can read all about him here). I should know—cause he practically lived at our house in SF—and would always cook for us. My roommates and I would be all whiney and complainy about how we didn't know what to make with our four random ingredients and he would whip up the most amazing, delicious, legit meals. You have some tomatoes, corn, cheese and potatoes? Oh, perfect. Tom will hand-make some gnocchi with polenta and a tomato sauce. AND BLOW YOUR MIND. Just to name one of many examples. Anywho, he and his lovely wife, Sarah, and their awesome new baby are coming out here in June, and he is hosting a pop-up dinner. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the concept—it's basically a dinner that is not in a restaurant, but in a private location and that is prepared by a legitimate chef. He has started to do these in SF, and will be gracing us with one here. And guess what? I'm helping. I'll be supplying the desserts. I'm very excited and a lil' nervous about making something that is good enough to be paired with his food. Let me know if any of you would like to reserve a seat. Or just RSVP to

Ok, that's all for now... I'm going to go rack my brain about what I can make. I'll be testing recipes all month, so if you iz my homie, you'll probs get some taste tests within the next few weeks. Hope you are hungry...

Monday, May 9, 2011

peanut butter munchies

A new friend of mine from work came over the other day, wanting to have a baking night. We were looking through some recipes I had pulled a while back of things I wanted to try. She was feeling peanut butter, and you know how I'm always down for the peanut butter. I had printed out this recipe that I found via foodgawker, and boy are we glad we made them! They are really easy to make and so much easier to eat. We brought a few to some friends and the rest to work the next day, and if you like chocolate and peanut butter, these are THE cookies for you. If you don't, well then I don't think I can help your special kind of problems...

Peanut Butter Munchies

Chocolate Cookie Dough:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Peanut Butter Filling:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat together butter, both sugars, and peanut butter until creamy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; mix well. Beat in dry ingredients. Put dough in refrigerator while you make up the peanut butter filling.

In a medium mixing bowl mix together peanut butter and powdered sugar until smooth. It will be the right consistency when you can shape it into balls. Shape the mixture into 32 small (2 cm) balls.

On the palm of your hand flatten out a ball of the chocolate dough like a pancake, place the peanut butter ball in the middle and wrap the chocolate dough up around the peanut butter ball until it is covered. Repeat for the rest of the dough and peanut butter balls. Place balls on cookie sheets (about 2 inches apart).

Bake cookies in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until they are just set and the surface begins to crack. Let cookies stand for 1 minute, transfer to a wire rack to cool. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ode to tartine

The main thing I miss about traveling to SF every week (besides seeing my parents) is getting together with friends to eat amazing food at least once a week. I have a whole list of my favorite spots that I send to people when they travel there, and it was getting outdated because there are so many new and great places. My new favorite is Outerlands in the Outer Sunset neighborhood. I have many classics, but the one I will wax poetic about  right now is Tartine. I've talked about them before. Their cookbook contains my all-time, absolute favorite lemon bars recipe. It's a must-see spot. On my last week of travel, I discovered that my friend Ruel had never been. So we decided we must go to indoctrinate him, and satiate my cravings for it, since it will be a while till I get back to the city. We ordered the Pastrami sandwich that had two of my favorite ingredients: gruyére and horseradish. We'd be chatting and one of us would have to stop and take a moment while the horseradish drew a tear or two. SO. GOOD. 

We ordered two desserts, and I was only able to manage to get a picture of one, cause we devoured the other  (bread pudding—you know how I love my bread pudding) before I could think of documenting the evidence. Dessert #2: Banana Cream Tart. Here is the description on the menu: Flaky pastry coated in dark chocolate with caramel, pastry cream, and lightly sweetened cream.Yup. It's as good as it sounds.

In summation. Go to San Francisco. Then, whatever you do, EAT HERE.

(ps, sorry about the crappy camera phone photography)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pear and Fresh Ginger Crisp

I love a good crisp. Warm fruit and spices with a crispy topping is just magic to me. It's one of the most ultimate comfort foods out there—and we all know how much I love my comfort food. I found this recipe in a cookbook called The Craft of Baking. The thing I love about this book is that it will give you a recipe and then on the side of said recipe it says "varying your craft" and gives you alternate versions to the original recipe. This is totally my steez, y'all. I love tweaking stuff and seeing what works better (and sadly, occasionally, sometimes worse) than the original. Most of my favorite recipes have come from that very practice. This book is definitely one of my favorites for this reason, and just the fact that it contains so much goodness. So, without further ado, here is the "varied" recipe of a Pear and Fresh Ginger Crisp.

6 ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled, halved, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (4 oz.) almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoon (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, mix together the pears, ginger, sugar and flour. Let the mixture stand at room temperature until juices begin to draw out from the fruit, about 30 minutes.

Combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix just to combine. Add the butter and mix just until the streusel comes together. Spread onto a baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 15 minutes.

Crumble the streusel with your fingers, and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.

Pour the fruit and juices into a 6-cup casserole or an 8-inch square baking dish. Top with the streusel. Place the baking dish on the prepared baking sheet and bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the fruit in tender, the juices are bubbling and thickened, and the topping is browned, about 40 minutes. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and let the crisp cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The crisp is best eaten the day it is baked.

Monday, March 21, 2011

the knife that changed my life

Ok, so that's a bit dramatic, but holy crap, this knife is amazing! My parents continued their tradition of amazing Christmas gifts, and this was one of them. They somehow always find the most amazing kitchen utilities. This knife says it's a tomato knife, but I use it for everything. It makes the perfect paper thin slices of anything—strawberries, yams, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc. This is my absolutely go-to knife. They hand grind each knife, and all the materials are sourced and made in the good 'ole US of A. The wood is Virginia birch wood (my Grandpa would have loved that). You can find out more about the process here. Anyway, I can't wax poetic about this knife enough. If you are looking for a great go-to knife, hit this baby up!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm back to my full-time life in just one city every week. It's amazing how having weeknights to run errands and get stuff done feels like such a luxury. I started a new job at a rad Ad Agency that's only a mile from my place. Having a short commute after traveling across 2 states every week and before that, driving about 45 minutes each way is the dreamiest. Anyway, starting at a new job can always be a little daunting and since it's been so long since I've started a brand new job, I was extra nervous. I decided if I couldn't win people over with my "sparkling personality", I could try to win them over with cookies. So far, this cunning plan seems to be working. It must be because this recipe is so legit. My oldest sister sent this to me a while ago, raving about it. Since I'm always looking for and collecting good recipes, I get a little overwhelmed with all the options, thankfully my good friend Rachel was over she helped me narrow down the selection to these. She also helped me with this mini shoot for the cookies. Thanks, Rach! These are moist deluxe with all the coconut and the perfect amount of chewy vs. crispy. I suggest you try them if you are trying to bribe people to like you—or just for your stomach to like you. (Also, my sister said to make the recipe exactly as listed, I only made one change out of necessity, but this recipe really doesn't need to be tweaked at all).

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
Cream until fluffy.
2 eggs, beating in one at a time
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Mix well and add:
2 2/3 cup 
coconut (yes, you read that correctly)
1 cup semi sweet 
chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk 
chocolate chips (**I didn't have any, so I did all semi-sweet -- sorry sis!)

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

**I don't know the original source of the recipe, but my hat is tipped to whoever out there made this happen.