Cooking


So did I mention I don’t have the internet at my house?! Because … I don’t. Which makes blogging a big sporadic. OK, a lot sporadic? Or perhaps nonexistent would be a better term to use. Thus begins some much needed updates. First off (because my favorite CLow requested a pic of my kitchen … ummmm … about 2 months ago), the house!

The end of July and first weeks of August were a bit stretching. But the results were beautiful and the ways the Lord provided were incredible beyond belief! My dear mother has needed a new oven for awhile now. She was still using her 28 year old, original with the house, not working quite right anymore oven. Long story short – she had one in mind that she REALLY wanted, we ended up finding an awesome guy at Sears who found us a super great deal, AND her Sunday School class pulled off “Operation Oven Mitt.” What might that be you ask? They collected money for my mom to get the oven of her dreams – double oven, woohoo (almost as spectacular as a double rainbow)! Such dear people!! We also got laminate flooring throughout the entire house (minus the bathrooms). They are beautiful and we’re thoroughly enjoying them (sorry I don’t really have a picture of the floors; you can see a pinch of them below). And again, God provided AMAZING deals. 🙂 So without further ado, welcome to my kitchen!

Yay for the beautiful, new double oven!

Cookie Time!

Why just the other night I made cookies in the lower oven! Hey, there are 2 missing! Quick shout out to Polly – it’s your recipe and I ended up making them TWICE last week and I miss you like CrAzY. I’d like to state for the record that I did NOT eat them all. I’ve made them for other people … and enjoyed a few for myself, of course. They are weight watcher cookies after all people! I’m practically getting more fit by eating them.

So remember when I said like 2 weeks ago that I had written a post and then lost it. Well guess what … all was not lost!! So here is the post that I actually wrote on … May 11th I believe.

So I’m really not sure how it’s been so long since my last post … time really does fly! So in order to make up for my absence … how about a chocolate cake?! 🙂 But first, some random updates. The last few weeks have been full.

I went to Chicago for Children’s Hunger Fund’s Children’s Champion Award Celebration Banquet, held at the Museum of Science and Industry. It was an amazing (and very quick) weekend! You can see pictures here. It was such a beautiful event in which God was glorified!

My mom came into town! What a fun whirlwind that was! We went to Stella Mare’s in Santa Barbara, she volunteered at CHF with me for my half day of work on Good Friday, we ate lunch in Pasadena and walked around the Huntington Gardens, we shopped at The Americana (purple bowls featured below were a purchase at Sur La Table – thanks Mom), we went to Aroma (sigh … I just love Aroma … oh! and we were given a free cake), we shopped and hung out at the beach in Santa Monica, we ate Golden Spoon for dinner 3 nights in a row, she helped me in my Sunday School class (thanks mom!), we ate at Stonefire (yum!), we went to a movie, we looked through cooking magazines, and we talked, laughed, prayed, and read our Bibles together! Man, that was a packed 3 1/2 days! And what a glorious 3 1/2 days they were! I sure do love you, Mom! 🙂

Third time’s a charm … Polly and I have tried to see the new Jane Eyre 3 times … 3! The first time, I bailed. The second time, she bailed – well, we both kinda bailed on account of being tired. The 3rd time … success! We ate In & Out burgers in the car on our way down to Los Angeles on a Friday night (I may or may not have dropped pickles and other items, spilled sauce on my [white] shirt, and had Polly wiping up my messes for me). We thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Highly recommend it – the movie that is – although I’d say the eating of In & Out while driving as well; it provided LOTS of laughter and entertainment!

Ummm, back to BCC. I first heard about this cake and its story several months ago. Then, about a month and a half ago, I got to taste it. Let’s just say, I was sorry I asked for a smaller piece; then I ended up having seconds. 🙂 The recipe is from sweet Rhonda, and I’ve been dying to make it. Actually, I’m making it this weekend for a Sunday School Teacher’s lunch, but decided I couldn’t wait that long. My excuse to make it last week was my sweet little Brooke is now half way through college.  Why “Boyfriend Chocolate Cake” you may ask? Because it’s the first thing Rhonda made for her boyfriend-now-husband. And let me just tell you … as I was making it and tasting the batter I thought … “I should be having a guy over to eat this, not Brooke!” 😉

Mmmm, nothing says cake like butter, sugar, brown sugar, and homemade vanilla (and yes, it's lumpy. someone may or may not have softened her butter enough ... who did that?!)

Sifting! It's basically my new favorite thing. Who knew that there was actually a reason they tell you to sift certain things?! Amazing, I tell you.

Ready for the oven! *note: I made half a cake. It was appropriate for celebrating one's halfway point through college 🙂

Hmmm ... I wonder where the batter that was on those beaters, bowl, and spatula went?? 😉

The End. And what a glorious end it was!

Anyone else hungry now??! I’m going to bed before I’m tempted to whip me up one of these puppies!

So when I logged onto my blog a couple weeks ago, I was pretty embarrassed to find that somehow time flew by, yet again, with no signs of life on this here blog. And yet there’s been a fairly steady trickle of people stopping by — I’m completely perplexed. So anyhow, I just wanted to pop on and let the world know I’m still here (and by “world” I really just mean a couple family members and co-workers, who … I’m pretty sure all know that I’m still alive and well). So what have I been up to over the last month and a half you may or may not be wondering … what has been keeping me so busy that I haven’t been blogging??! Allow me to fill you in …

Teaching Sunday School! I teach sweet little K-1st graders at Church of the Canyons. I’m often astounded by the minds of 6 year olds … they ask the most brilliant, interesting, and silly questions … and they make the most outrageous comments! They (usually) make me smile! 🙂

Cooking! What I’ve been cooking is the astounding part: eggs! Yes, that’s right, eggs. Now I’m not a huge egg fan; in fact, I never eat them. But I have recently been introduced to farm fresh eggs, and I feel like Julie Powell in Julie & Julia when she eats her very first egg and says, “It tastes like … cheese sauce. Yum.” OK, so I don’t know if I’d describe eggs as “cheese sauce,” but I would say that I never knew an egg could taste so good. I’ve poached them, made Pasta alla Carbonara with them, and fried them. I haven’t been on an egg only diet, don’t worry. I made Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake for a friend’s birthday. Oh, and Penne alla Vodka (2 times, 2 recipes). And salmon. Oh, and blondies (sooo good with bananas, walnuts and dark chocolate). I think there were a few other things thrown in there, but I don’t remember.

My second poached egg. Who knew it was so easy?!

So I got creative. I knew I wanted an egg for dinner. Then I remembered I had some honey wheat bagels. When I was at Sprouts, they were sampling Gouda, which I then HAD to buy. Then I looked at their deli meat and thought, "Yum, black forest ham. Hey, I've got the makings of a 'breakfast' sandwich!"

Horrible, blurry pic ... but the cake looks good 🙂

Spending time at home (oh, and then got the stomach flu which basically wiped me out for a good week). In Sacramento, I enjoyed everything from family to the theater to pedicures to walks along to river to amazing restaurants and even more amazing friends! More to come on this, and my birthday!

Yay for pretty toes!

Yay for cousin time and silly pictures! 🙂

That’s all for now; I’m going to bed. And since I have several things in mind to write about, I hope it won’t be another month and a half before blogging!

If you’ve never heard of the show Psych, you’ve been missing out on the greatest show ever! I consider Shawn, Gus “TT Showbiz,” Juliet, Lassie, and even Henry to be some of my closest friends. Phrases from Psych may happen to find their way into my vocabulary … on a regular basis (“Whaaaaaaat” … “It usually starts with a holla and ends with a creamsicle” … “Sweet dollop of spicy goodness” … “It’s one part vanilla and two parts awesome” … “I’ve heard it both ways”). I am responsible for introducing Polly to this show, and she loves it just as much as I do! So Friday night, we had a long overdue Psych Party! The entrance ticket — a food containing pineapple. Why pineapple, you might ask? Pineapple happens to be a beloved food of Shawn and Gus and almost every episode contains pineapple in some form or another. We enjoyed fresh pineapple, Hawaiian pizza (the best I’ve ever had, thanks to Jenny), chicken salad (yum!!), and pineapple upside-down cake (PUDC). I must confess that I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten PUDC before. I’ve definitely never made it. But the event and this recipe enticed me! The way Deb describes a fear of PUDC is exactly what I felt before this (even though I actually never started eating it until now) …

If you’ve stopped eating pineapple-upside down cake because you were rightly scared off by the seventies wallpaper-like pattern of rubbery pineapple rings filled with unnaturally bright maraschino cherries and the bland, almost pointless cake within that are all-too-accepted as the bakery standard, fear not, you can start again.

I would say that my PUDC was a success, and if you’re going to make one, this is definitely the recipe to try. Everyone really enjoyed it, and it even turned out looking OK! As I started making the cake, I was afraid … very afraid. But in the end, all the fear was in vain. And this is what came out of my oven:

No, this was not baked in an easy bake oven like Shawn’s!

Now after all that I do have to say this … if you minus the pineapple and add more rum, this cake would be PERFECT! Shawn … Gus … I’m sorry, I’m just not a huge fan. I gave it a try, I really did. And I did like it … I just didn’t fall in love. Give me rum cake. Give me chocolate peanut butter deliciousness cake. But please, keep your pineapple upside-down cake.

As previously mentioned, I got a Cuisinart Food Processor for Christmas! I was shocked to find the 14 cup beast “under” the tree. I kept telling my mom, “I don’t need the 14 cup! That’s huge!” She kept assuring me, “I think you’ll be glad you had the 14 cup, Hannah.” Well, of course, mother knows best. I used the beast for the first time last week to make these delicious chocolate sugar cookies … and I am in love! Cuisinart, you have outdone yourself. I think my food processor is my new best friend, and I’m pretty sure I’m about to wonder how I ever lived without it. A few days later, I was dying to cook, just to use my food processor again! This time: pesto. Yum. And I’m planning to make the same cookies again this week, because I’m addicted to both the tool and the end result! I decided I had to take some quick snapshots to document my first use … yes, I’m a nerd, I confess. 🙂

Step 1: Dump every thing into the bowl

Step 2: Press the button to mix ingredients together
Step 3: Place on cookie sheets to bake
Step 4: Eat. Enjoy. Exercise … well, don’t think about that part.

On another note … I took my roommate, Polly, to an early birthday celebration at Stella Mare’s last weekend. We ate the most delicious food and had such a fun time. And while I know she may absolutely hate me for putting these pictures up, I personally think they’re adorable (even with not so great quality and unremedied red eyes in the second photo … but do I care … well, no. I figure so few people actually read my blog, that it doesn’t really matter). 😉

I think desserts just taste better when "Happy Birthday" is written on the plate in chocolate

Happy (early) Birthday, Roomie!

Um, so remember when I said I’d provide the recipe for this?

Yummmm

I’m finally coming through on my promise. So Cheryl, this one’s for you! 🙂 And by the way, this loaf is amazing with nutella on it for breakfast. That and a latte … breakfast of champions right there, baby! 🙂

Braided Loaf

From The Great American Baking Book

Makes 1 loaf

I package active dry yeast

I teaspoon honey

I cup lukewarm milk

4 Tb butter, melted

3 cups flour

I teaspoon salt

I egg, lightly beaten

I egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon milk, for glazing

  1. Combine the yeast, honey, milk, and butter, stir, and leave for 15 minutes to dissolve.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture and egg. With a wooden spoon, stir from the center, incorporating flour with each turn, to obtain a rough dough.
  3. Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean bowl, cover, and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 ½ hours.
  4. Grease a baking sheet. Punch down the dough and divide into three equal pieces. Roll to shape each piece into a long thin strip.
  5. Begin braiding from the center strip, ticking in the ends. Cover loosely and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the bread in a cool place while over heats. Brush with the glaze and bake until golden brown, 40-45 minutes. Set on a rack to cool completely.

After finding a delicious looking pasta recipe that included mascarpone cheese, parmesan, sage, butter, and walnuts … how could I resist? I was a goner. My cooking buddy, Jess, and I made plans to cook this scrumptous looking recipe for dinner Sunday night, along with homemade bread. So the process started in the afternoon with … coffee! And of course, we couldn’t have just any coffee … only Italian coffee would suffice. So with coffee in our cups, we set out to make a “Braided Loaf” which happens to be both delicious and easy! From start to finish, the bread takes about 4 hours, but most of it is just the time it takes to rise. So with step one down, we’re feeling pretty good. And as Jess learned, I like to talk to my yeast mixture … I think it helps it get all happy and gives it the will to rise. 🙂 She busted out her camera, and we documented the whole thing … so I hope you enjoy the pics …

Just waitin'

We took a break for awhile and tried to watch a movie that didn’t want to cooperate for us, even though we tried and tried … and tried again. After some time relaxing on the couch, we finished the bread and began preparations for dinner.

Ready for the Oven!

The beginning stages ...

The sage in the pasta inspired us to add sage to the chicken in white wine … which was an excellent addition.

Chicken with Sage and White Wine ... cooking to perfection

The bread turned out perfectly, as you can see …

If only there were such a thing as smell-o-vision

About to put the pasta on and add all the finishing touches

While dinner turned out quite yummy, the pasta wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was good. The full menu consisted of: Fettuccine with Mascarpone and Sage Walnut Butter, Chicken with Sage and White Wine, Salad with mini heirloom tomatoes and balsamic dressing, and home made, fresh out of the oven bread with rosemary butter. Oh and I almost forgot, for the crazies … orange juice. ; ) All in all, I think our meal was a success and it looked lovely. 🙂

Good job, Jess! : D

Hmmm ... a step up from the card table? ; )

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