Category Archives: Cooking

Weekend Recap

Sophy’s school had a bake sale last week with some offerings that included princess toppers. As you could imagine, she had to have one immediately and would not be appeased. I sent Rolland out to find something to stick on the top of a cake and this was our best option in West Seattle. 

   

She loved it, the cake not so much as I took a flyer on a recipe from Baking with Less Sugar and I made it gluten free. We’ll call it an experiment gone awry.

Someone got a sassy new haircut uping the cute 1000%.     More cooking with homemade sausage I loved but Rolland found a little too Italian sausage and not enough Jimmy Deanesque. I used the recipe from Bon Appetite that I can’t find online. I also made a cherry pie using Tartine’s flaky tart dough. Canned filling was requested and was apparently approved.

As always, I wished it was longer and the weather was shockingly beautiful. I’m ready for another one. With better cake.

Professing My Love for the Tartine Cookbook

So it turns out that when people in Seattle say summer doesn’t start until after July 4th they aren’t exaggerating. We turned our heat on in June for several days. It was crazypants time for these Texans. Rolland had started wearing shorts in May but had to retreat to pants shortly thereafter. June included shorts, and a refusal of long pants, plus a space heater in his office. Principles over rationality was a thing thing in the house for a while. All of this is a large build up to the fact that I could easily turn on my oven in June without fear of melting. Giddiness ensued.

Using this new found oven freedom, I immediately took requests from co-workers and dove into my Tartine cookbook to make Banana Cream Pie. I hadn’t realized how many steps would be involved, not difficult, but time consuming. This pie required:

  1.  Pie Crust
  2. Caramel
  3. Melted Chocolate
  4. Pastry Cream
  5. Whipped Cream

Now, the benefits included finding my go to pie crust from the Tartine cookbook. It’s super easy and now I try to have several crusts made and in the freezer for a quick quiche, pie, tart, etc. Quiche is hands down a favorite in our house and a favorite weeknight dinner with ham, cheese and a little parsley or other herb of choice. I use Susan Wittig Albert’s Tex-Mex recipe as my basic base and wing the ingredients after that. But, I digress.

IMG_4521Pie in progress. Crust coated with melted chocolate and caramel ready to pout on top of the melted chocolate. The bananas are kind of an after thought as they’re simply sliced and laid on top of the pastry cream then covered in whipped cream. Banana haters like my hubby could easily skip it and have a tasty cream pie.

I also had leftovers from said pie for a chocolate pie with the second pie crust and extra whipped cream. Plus, leftover caramel was used to top brownies since the fudgy goodness wasn’t decadent enough on it’s own.

Caramel brownies 4-17

I also used Tartine’s brownie recipe for this but it was almost too rich for me. It’s just too sweet in the sweet/salt ratio. I’m now considering making it salted caramel brownies… hmmm.

If you’re in the mood to take the baking up a notch, Tartine is a good book to add to the collection. It’s beautiful with gorgeous food pics. And highly useful in wooing co-workers to your will. Finished second chocolate pie with help from toddler. I also recommend one of these for a sous chef although she hogs the wooden spoon.

Chocolate pie
Sophy pie help

Note: I received no bloggery goodness for pimping out the cookbook. Or the weird Seattle weather, although only people from the South would really see this as pimping out the weather.

Further Note: I still don’t own Tartine Book 3 after desperate pleading to the editors in case anyone wanted to add it to my Christmas list.

Random Tuesday

Completely random blog post today. We had “Tamale Tuesday” at work today with the rest of tamales I had ordered for New Years. Sooo yummy! It was crazy several of my coworkers had never had tamales so I had to explain about the corn husk wrapper. Thank goodness someone asked. It never occurred to me I would need to provide directions! They’re hooked. I could make a fortune importing tamales. :)I also made cake for dessert. It’s my Grandma’s chocolate sheet cake and it’s incredibly good. Plus, it’s huge so perfect for work.

photo(28)To continue with the random, we collect points off of the pampers diapers and wipes so Rolland had a promo for 200 free prints from Shutterfly. I felt like I was cheating on mpix but I can’t pass up free prints when I had over 300 to order from Thanksgiving! My sis-in-law also got a promo for $20 off a photo book from Shutterfly and sent it with Sophy’s Christmas stuff. I put a book together of our last Halloween trip to the Arboretum in Dallas. I had a million pics and have been wanting to do a book but had been putting it off. I’m pretty happy with how it looked online but we’ll see when I get it, I ordered from Blurb for my last book and it was fantastic. Again, $20 off so I can’t be too choosy. Total order was $50 bucks with $24 of it shipping! Greatness except I’m still grumbling about the shipping. I am getting mpix pics for us as soon as I get another promo code. I can’t live without the luster finish, it’s a little bit of a problem!

A Year of Self-Improvement

So I’ve been surprised at how little I’ve enjoyed the move so far. With that, I’m working on doing some things I’ve always wanted to do. And some things I just need to do! I signed up for weekly yoga and have been getting regular massages. All of that with the walking and I’ve been feeling better but have a long way to go for some physical goals I’ve set. We’re also cooking at home more which helps cut out some of the unhealthier options.

I’ve had Book & Larder on my must visit list. I signed up for the wait list for the croissant class and they just added one in February! Super excited. It’s also next to my favorite burger place, Uneeda Burger. YUM. I’ve expanded my nightstand reading with more cookbooks. I’m loving Relish by a Daphne Oz. I was initially skeptical as she’s fairly perky on The Chew but it’s really informative and fun. Casually approaching health without the preaching which I appreciate. We’ve had some mixed results with Pinterest which has been 50/50 so far. I’m hoping more cookbook guidance increases the success ratio.

In 2014 I’ve committed to Project Life and documenting each week. I’m signed up for another Snap Shop class for my DSLR to help learn how to use the fancy camera. Really excited! Lots of plans for gifts next Christmas. Just FYI! I get such better results and Soohy pics are a favorite with the fam. Mpix promo codes are on my wish list for Valentine’s Day! I’ve got some pics I want for framed pics. I’m also going to work on the 2013 family book. I want to include the full year. Uhm, I’m going to need to add Blurb promo codes to the wish list as well!

Another class with gifting potential is Ruth Rae’s class. I thought about signing up for the weekend but I hate being away from the toddler! I haven’t been doing much with jewelry lately so this should be fun. I’ve mostly been playing with collage and building my supplies back up. If anyone has suggestions for collage supply options in Seattle I’d love to hear ’em.

I’m building up the “to visit” list and hope to make it feel more like home soon. Sophy and I are exploring tomorrow for last minute Christmas errands. Girls day! Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

Note: I forgot I signed up for a child nutrition class from Stanford Online! I’m kinda nervous! It’s Stanford! Oy!

Birthday and Le Creuset Greatness

Yesterday was Rolland’s birthday so went to the new Texas Land and Cattle Co. in Allen. It’s the “fancier” version. Truthfully, it was a little fancy but not so much that I worried about Sophy. This was her dinner. Macaroni and Cheese (Kraft) with creamed Parmesan spinach. Spinach was in place of applesauce and our server couldn’t believe she preferred this to applesauce but she did. She ate the sauce like soup.

This was my selection. You get to pick the meat for the entree and then the rub/spice and sauce option. I went with salmon, truffle salt and Bearnaise sauce. Holy smokes it was good. Garlic confit in the mashed potatoes was a big hit too. This is quickly becoming a new favorite meal. Their version was yummy. In the blurry background is Rolland’s steak with cheese grits. Those grits were fantastic.

Sophy showing off her spoon skills. She switches hands but she really is right handed so that often goes much better. Gotta love her persistence though.

After dinner we came home to find this box on the step.

With this inside.

To reveal my new saucier pot!

A few weeks ago, there was apparently an incident where my Le Creuset chocolate pot fell, nearly braining the baby, and Rolland deflected it to the floor where the non-enamel handle broke with some enamel chipping off the pot itself. The details around the falling of the pot are sketchy. As I wasn’t here at the time, he was able to formulate a game plan which included us hot footing it down to Williams-Sonoma when I got home. We were pretty sure they no longer made the pan (they don’t) but a suitable replacement was found. My super smarty husband mentioned the incident to the salesclerk and she suggested we contact them since there’s a lifetime guarantee for their products. He did and they sent this.  All we had to do was send in the broken one ($20 bucks in shipping) and viola! New saucier in Marseille blue.

Smarty pants is forgiven.

Blog Note: Neither TXLC or Le Creuset asked me to pimp out their products, although I’m not opposed to free goodies that I love and offer tasty goodness. This wasn’t the case here.

Summer Break

It’s been pretty busy around  the house lately but I’m still super excited for summer. Every year I still think I’m going to get out for the summer and decide to over plan when not much really changes with our schedules except less traffic. Not to minimize the importance of less traffic
cause that’s awesome!

But we’ve made some changes around the house that have made it feel a little more special. We’ve started eating al fresco for all meals at home. This was partially to save our dining room rug from the toddler but we also wanted to enjoy our nice patio. We’ve cleaned up the yard and all the debris that had accumulated in the nooks and crannies. A small furniture rearrangement has made it seem roomier and the grill area has a space all to itself making it easier to keep Sophy fingers away. I still want to get a little more color via retro styled seating. Similar to these.

I have a long list of recipes I want to work on from Salty Snacks: Make Your Own Chips, Crisps, Crackers, Pretzels, Dips, and Other Savory Bites, Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without All the Junk, The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-doux, and a bunch of other cookbooks I’ve amassed.

I’m also stock piling these jars. I’ve currently got a couple in the refrigerator with basil simple syrup and another with lime juice for spontaneous Basil Lime Coolers. My new favorite drink. Sophy’s a fan too. 

Super quick recipe is:

1. Simply Syrup: add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water along with 5-6 basil leaves (substitute with mint or any other favorite herb here) and heat until sugar dissolves. Let cool and use immediately or store in a container in the refrigerate.

2. Juice limes: we do an entire bag at a time. Costco or Sam’s is your best bet for large inexpensive produce for this. You could also do grapefruit, orange juice, etc. 

3. I also add carbonated water that Rolland carbonates using the soda stream but totally optional.

4. Mix the above into a pitch or in a glass of crushed ice to taste. Sophy and I like tart so I do about 2/3 juice to small amount of syrup and water. Sophy’s has about 1/4 juice and 3/4’s water with a tiny bit of sugar.

Tasty summer goodness.

Last Saturday: What was for dinner…

And this is what we had for dinner last Saturday but I forgot to post! Oy!

Anyway, we hit the road early to make sure we got to the bakery early to get all the good stuff. Turns out we got there a little too early as they were still putting everything out 20 minutes after opening. This kind of thing drives me crazy because a) I’m crazy and b) I’m a control freak. We were having some friends over for dinner paying homage to The Barefoot Contessa.

But we did procure some tasty bread and croissants. Yum.

For once I did do some actual planning and set the table before everyone arrived so it was pretty cute with several small vases of tulips and my super cute Jonathan Adler pig butter dish. My congratulatory new job gift from my hubby last June. And yes, it was perfect for me because I’m a weirdo.  So here’s the before shot…

After, with beef bourginon which was pretty tasty. You can also see the lovely bread from fancy bakery. Photo was provided by my friend Randall as I was super tired and ready to eat by then. There had been a fancy cheese platter breakage incident that had me off my game timing wise.

With spring coming in any minute, we’ve got some cookouts in the future. Rolland mans the grill and makes a fantastic salmon and grilled burgers. Can’t wait. I’m trying to take my laissez faire approach to summer that served me well the last two years. Burgers, maxi dresses and baseball. It’s the only way to get through a Texas summer.

Hot Chocolate Obsession

With our cold snap here in Texas and my new mug from Rolland for Christmas, I’ve been hitting the hot chocolate every night. It’s old school cocoa that I learned how to make from my Grandma and it’s sooo yummy. I’ve fancied it up with handmade marshmallows (they’re on the list to learn how to make from scratch) from Whole Foods and Mexican Chocolate with Cinnamon. I picked up the chocolate on a whim from Spec’s and have started adding a shaving over the marshmallows. Chocolate on marshmallow on chocolate seems like the perfect use for it. 

Recipe that’s not really a recipe below.

Homemade Hot Chocolate
Makes 1 Serving
 
1 TBSP Cocoa
2 TBSP Sugar
Pinch of Salt (learned from The Barefoot Contessa not Grandma)
1/4 cup of water
1 cup of Milk (I use 2% but whole seems appropriate here)
Note: Most of this is done by eye and just mixing things in until they look right but I took a stab at making and writing it down as I went. Things can easily be adjusted to your taste.
Mix cocoa, sugar and salt together in a sauce pan with a whisk to get out any lumps. Add in water and mix heating over medium heat. Add milk once sugar and cocoa have dissolved. Heat to your preferred temperature and pour into your favorite mug.
Optional adding of chocolate shavings and marshmallows. You could also add in all sorts of yummy experiments like mint, peppermint, caramel, whatever sounds good.
 

The Little Paris Kitchen

I’ve discovered a new favorite show that my husband can hate. And he does. A lot. Although to be fair Rachel Khoo never stood a chance since he hears the french music playing and bee lines it out of the room. That man seriously has issues with the French. It’s not right. Also, anyone want to visit Paris with me? He claims to never return. London? London he loves and will visit any time.
… Anyway, I love The Little Paris Kitchen on the Cooking Channel and can’t wait for the cookbook The Little Paris Kitchen: 120 Simple But Classic French Recipes to come out. I may, in the interest of frugality and minor torture, make it my Valentine’s Day present request. So far the recipes look relatively easy but fancy enough for a nice dinner if you use the good china. Also, being on the frugality train I love the Paris eye candy to help nip in the travel bug. It doesn’t really work but I still like the eye candy. 
So far, there have been a few new offerings for the late winter that look pretty good. I’m really looking forward to Danielle Bryk’s new show on DIY. I loved what she did with her house on Family Under Construction. House and Home has a gallery of a few finished rooms. Luckily, the husband loved this one so we can both watch. I’m hoping it will help keep the home organization and improvement momentum going. Additionally, I want to paint everything white – another hated of the husband’s. For the love of God, never bring up Sarah Richards. He’ll lose his poop. 

Anything else new I can’t miss?

Random Wednesday

It’s been super relaxing so far in 2013 but we are making progress on the organization. Kitchen clean out and clean up is still going forward with only 2 cabinets left. Lower cabinets have all been Sophy proofed and we swapped out the heavy Le Creuset pots with the much lighter weight baking pans on our island so when she pulls on them down like she did the other day she isn’t immediately at risk for a concussion. The loud crash did scare the hell out of her for about 5 minutes and then she was right back it. I may or may not have giggled a little and gotten a pretty dirty look from a disgruntled 10 month old. She is an adventurous little girl. Greatness. I hope she never loses it.
We also used up all the chicken stock in the freezer in 2012 so Rolland made some on New Year’s Eve. Glamorous. We did have on our dress pajamas…not true. Totally regular pj’s. But going into the New Year with a tasty batch of chicken stock does make me happier than a drunken revelry. Also, I don’t drink so there you go. After the chicken stock we had some tasty chicken left over and I made enchiladas for our New Year’s lunch. We usually have Central Market tamales but no one wanted to get all scrappy with the other shoppers to get them. CM for the New Year’s tamale rush is madness. For reals. But, we had our tasty chicken enchiladas stuffed with black beans, chicken and cheese with Trader Joe’s enchilada sauce and more cheese on top to keep the Mexican food tradition alive. There was also black eye pea salsa for luck. The tortilla soup not tasty and was a giant disappointment although I’m not a major fan of them anyway. The tortillas are from CM and super tasty. I’m hoarding butter tortillas in the freezer for an emergency, zombies or what not.
Besides improved home keeping, I do want 2013 to be a little more art filled. Rolland got me a much coveted flex shaft (pics in the future!) with the fancy pink limited edition shaft that will require some studio rework. It was already on the reorganize list anyway. I have big plans for some soldering projects, jewelry pieces and more frequent journaling. The journal pages are great since they’re easy to do when Sophy’s sleeping and I get a little creative outlet. This one was a super New Year’s Eve quickie page but I love the colors and got in some drawing that I usually don’t do. I really need to work on my lettering, I find it tricky and intimidating. I have no idea why but am adding it to the art goals for the list.
Tomorrow is back to the mines. I’m totally not ready but am already contemplating my outfit so there is that. This partial week of doing nothing has been awesome. With a plan for a more frugal 2013 I’m hoping to get more of them in. Happy Wednesday!