Happy Birthday to two of my dearest friends. Two women whom I adore.
Their birthdays are only two years apart, but I won’t reveal who is older or their exact ages.
Let’s just say that one is a tiny bit more than decade younger than me and the other is just less than a decade behind me.
Yeah, they’re young and they are both gorgeous, inside and out!
You may not be able to see, but they are both in the image above. You can easily see that I am cooking with Tram Mai on the old Valley Dish. We are making Amy’s Famous Taco Soup. Because it is Amy’s recipe, I’d brought along a framed photo of Amy and her family… you can barely see it down in the lower right corner of the image. Can you see it?
Since then, Amy and Tram have been together at my house a couple of times, but unfortunately, I’d never gotten a photo of them together, so until I do, this will have to do!
Before our mutual friend, Lori, moved to Chicago, we used to celebrate Amy (on the right) and Lori’s (center) birthdays together.
Happy Birthday, Amy! I love you!
This fun photo was taken in August 2010 when Tram invited me to cook with her on stage at Phoenix Cooks. Good times!
Happy Birthday, Tram! I love you!
March 21, 2013 6 Comments
If you’ve read from this blog before, you most likely already know that I am NOT a baker. If I bake something, and it turns out, and I post it here, and I call it “my own” – you can rest assured that it is a fluke, a miracle, or a lie!
The exception, the fluke, if you will, is my carrot cake. I did “create” that. After making carrot cake after carrot cake over many years (and many years ago) I finally got a perfect carrot cake that I truly believe is the best you will ever have.
I do make a pretty mean cheesecake, but not because I’ve created anything new. But because I’ve discovered, while making many cheesecakes and by reading many other people’s opinions about cheesecake, and then stealing the best of their various ideas and putting them together, how to make a fool-proof cheesecake. My cheesecakes always turn out perfectly! For my three “must do” steps/tricks, go HERE.
Aside from that one cake and cheesecakes in general… I would no more be able to create a new and wonderful baked dessert than I would be able to take apart a car engine!
All that being said, I’ve found a woman, a blog, and a cookbook with pretty fantastic desserts! It’s called Sprinkle Bakes and I made the following Very Impressive, Very Beautifully Photographed, and Very Delicious cake from her very lovely blog for my cooking series last month.
In all honesty, I should just stop now and send you directly there. I’ve pared down her recipe to make it a bit more manageable, but I haven’t really changed it at all. Also, I should not post my photos, as they were taken with my iPhone at Les Gourmettes, in the rush of a cooking class for 16 students. Photos of food are not top priority in those moments. Cutting the cake and serving it to the lovely paying students, is! But I made the gorgeous decadent cake, so you shall suffer through my photos, then go over and see Sprinkle Bakes’ very professional photos and her very helpful step by step photos and be inspired and amazed!
Now, be prepared, not only is this cake a mouthful, so is the name of the cake!
On a quick side note: Congratulations to my friend, Larry Fitzgerald, who received a Man of the Year award yesterday. It is beyond well deserved. Now I wait for him to receive the overall NFL Man of the Year award when it is announced Super Bowl week. Fingers crossed. Larry lives up to his press, he truly is a wonderful man!
Oh, I almost forgot – Merry Christmas Eve! xoxo
December 24, 2012 1 Comment
Today is Dave’s birthday. Connor came home from school for the weekend and HE, not I, made Dave’s birthday cake! All I did was take the action photos. Dave’s cake of choice is always his Auntie B’s Chocolate Cake. My mother-in-law sent me the recipe even before we were married so that I could make it for her boy who had moved so far from home.
Dave remembers the anticipation of The Beloved Cake when he would see a measuring cup full of milk, covered with a towel, sitting near the heater under the front picture window of his childhood home. You see, the recipe calls for sour milk. That old method of souring milk is no longer recommended since milk that is soured naturally may contain toxins. A safer, quicker, and much easier way to sour milk is to add 1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup of 2% or whole milk and leave it sit on a counter for 15 minutes before using. All that being said, everyone in Dave’s family is healthy and happy after consuming many of Auntie B’s cakes that were made with naturally soured milk.
Happy Birthday, Dave! xoxo
October 6, 2012 5 Comments
This post should be called “Surprise Me Thursday – Part 4″ except we didn’t make this dessert on Thursday. No, we made it to serve 24 at our Teen Week graduation lunch on Friday. Although, I did find it on Pinterest… and originally I had planned to make it on a Thursday. Until, one of the students wrote down “Red Velvet Cake” on their menu suggestion card (which I have the teens fill out on Monday mornings), and I thought, “Hey this is the perfect opportunity to make those cute mason jar cakes I see daily all over Pinterest.” Two birds – One stone.
These are so delightful and oh so delectable, that they are now my “go to” party dessert!
By the way, we made the recipe twice to get 24 jar. You may double the frosting but don’t try to double the cake portion… instead, make two separate batches.
June 23, 2012 3 Comments
I don’t know what my record high is for the number of photos in one post, but this may top them all. Why would such a sweet, innocent, plain-Jane-looking, and in fact, angelic cake need so many (14) descriptive pictures? Because when we’re talking about angel food cake, we’re talking all about the “Incredible Edible Egg.”
Eggs truly are incredible! Perfection in a shell. Magical, if you will. They are the workhorse of the kitchen, providing the strength to bind ingredients, the power to rise and puff souffles, and the delicacy to act as the wings of an angel food cake. Simple egg whites whipping up into soft, fluffy, light as air, clouds of creamy goodness.
Egg whites are mostly protein and have no fat. When whipped, they hold air and their volume increases by up to 7 times. When whipping whites, what you are looking for is “peaks”. With soft peaks the bubbles are a little more pronounced, and when you remove the beating whisk, the peaks tip over. Stiff peaks stand up straight when you remove the whisk. Egg whites whipped to this stage are used in meringues and cakes when sugar is added.
Plus, once the sugar is added, you won’t need to worry about over-beating, and the meringue can be whipped almost indefinitely… but only once the sugar is in there, otherwise it is quite easy to over-beat the whites. They will become dry and separate into clumps. Once that happens – they are ruined.
A most important note: Egg whites simply will not whip in the presence of fat. Egg yolks contain all the fat in an egg, so if you drop a little bit of yolk into your whites, carefully remove it by scooping with a bit of egg shell, this works because the shell attracts the yolk (same is true if egg shell gets into your cracked egg -shell also attracts to shell). If there is more than a drop of yolk in the whites, just toss that egg out and start over. And always whip with a sparkling clean whisk and bowl.
Ironically, fresh cold eggs are easiest to separate but older room temperature eggs whip quicker and can achieve a bit more volume. Personally, I separate my eggs when they are cold and don’t worry about how fresh they are or even wait for them to come to room temperature, it is what it is!
The reason recipes often call for cream of tartar or lemon juice is because acid makes beaten whites more stable.
And the reason angel food cakes are inverted as they are cooling, is because this cooling method keeps the cake from collapsing or deflating once it is removed from the oven. (I think my photo of the cake inverted on a wine bottle looks like a table lamp… but maybe that’s just me.)
Hopefully all this is more than you ever wanted or needed to know about the wonderful egg - now on to the main attraction – The Cake!
Oh wait, one more thing… real quick… I had to make a cake ahead of time, then the kids made the cake in class. They frosted my cake and tomorrow I will show you what we did with the cake they made – Oh my word, you will L-O-V-E IT!
June 20, 2012 6 Comments
How about a little Bundt pan history?
In 1950 Nordic Ware invented the Bundt® Pan; a ring shaped pan with fluted sides. The pan sold somewhat slowly until the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest winner used the little-known Bundt® Pan for her Tunnel of Fudge cake recipe. This prompted a mad rush for the pans, causing them to surpass the tin Jell-O mold to become the most-sold pan in the United States. Since their introduction, more than 50 million Bundt pans have been sold by Nordic Ware.
Oh, and by the way, National Bundt Pan Day is November 15th. And do you remember the scene in the 2002 movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when the mother of the groom-to-be comes to the home of the mother of the bride-to-be and presents to you a Bundt cake? Still makes me smile, HERE IS A LINK to a grainy video from You Tube.
This super moist yogurt cake is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or dessert. So simple to put together and pop in the oven… seriously delish.
FYI: I used a decorative sunflower Bundt pan in place of the traditional Bundt that has the tube in the center, so it took about 20 minutes longer to cook than this recipe states.
February 4, 2012 No Comments
Thanksgiving is tomorrow!!! Don’t know that I can help you now if you haven’t gotten busy yet, but just in case, I give you - Complete Thanksgiving Planning Guide and Timeline.
OK, so I have caved and I have made the dough for the potato rolls. How can I not, after The Audrey Files made them for her family and then raved about them on her blog? I’d feel like a heel if I stood my ground on that one. But I must rebel in some small way, so I am NOT going to make a homemade pumpkin pie this year! Instead I am making a pumpkin bundt cake, so take that, my whining family! But, I even felt a little guilty about that, so I purchased a little pumpkin pie at Trader Joe’s… oh well.
I do not trust a bundt cake to come out of the bundt pan cleanly. So I never, and I mean never, use Pam to grease it. I always melt plenty of butter and brush it on every visible interior surface and then dust the pan with flour. That usually does the trick, but not every time, sometimes it just sticks in one little spot, just to spite me.
November 24, 2010 7 Comments
As usual, there are overripe bananas sitting on my counter. That indicates two problems, first that people ask for bananas and then don’t use them, Marissa and Dave, I’m talking to you! And secondly, now I must make banana-something, again! OK, that’s not truly a problem, just a reality.
The real problem is that I didn’t follow my own advice while preparing to make this coffee cake. I neglected to set up my mise en place (the French phrase meaning “everything in place”) beforehand. So even though this is called blueberry-banana coffee cake… there are no blueberries in mine. We had them on the side. Dang it! Be sure to get out your blueberries, and everything else needed, before you begin.
October 1, 2010 No Comments
Sometimes a proud mom just has to brag about her children. Today is one of those days, so please bare with me. The picture below is from Connor’s 18th birthday (he is now 19 1/2 years old) and he had just blown out the candles from his favorite kind of cake, which would best be called “chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate!” I am posting this picture and the recipe for the cake, not because we celebrate half birthdays around here, but because I want to tell you how proud I am of my son.
Connor will have a weekly comic strip in The Lumberjack, Northern Arizona University’s newspaper! So very cool! His older sister, Marissa, who recently graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Arizona, wrote for her newspaper, The Wildcat, and now Connor will be published too. Marissa is equally proud of her “little” brother, as you can see by yesterday’s post on her blog, as seen HERE. Yes, she beat me to it, and that kinda makes me doubly proud of both of them. xoxo
September 30, 2010 No Comments
It’s been raining here in Arizona all week. Yesterday and this morning have been especially harsh; flooding, high winds, closed airports, several feet of snow up north, (plus a leaking roof for me!) – just crazy stuff for our dry desert state! This weather makes me want to bake and the chilliness and dark skies make pumpkin and spices seem like the perfect thing to pop in the oven. I was planning to make a regular Bundt cake, but while digging through the cake pans, I found my mini-rose shaped Bundt pan. These pretty little cuties bring a little warmth and sunshine to an otherwise cold and rainy day.
January 22, 2010 2 Comments