Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

Last week, M and I made doughnuts together.  We used Giada De Laurentiis’s recipe for Italian Doughnuts.  I liked the simplicity of it since it calls for pizza dough which I make often and don’t have to leave rising for very long. We’d seen Giada make these on her show, Everyday Italian, and they looked scrumptious.


M rolled out the dough and cut them out on her own.


She even helped lower them into the oil while I held my breath and questioned if I was crazy to let a 5yo stand over a pot of hot oil.


I don’t fry often, and I was a bit obsessive about making sure the oil was hot enough but not too hot.  It turned out just right though.


We chose to dip the hot doughnuts in cinnamon sugar.  Giada also suggest a chocolate coating which would be yummy too!


They were delicious!  We ate an obscene amount of them as soon as we finished frying.  Unfortunately, they didn’t keep well.  By that night they were tough though they improved some when re-heated.


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On Monday, we drove back from my in-laws house after a long holiday weekend with late bedtimes and lots of playing outside.  We arrived home tired and cranky.  I searched our food stores and came up with the fixings for bean and cheese quesadillas or cheesadillas as C calls them (not that she eats them).  While I made re-fried black beans, Brent stopped in our neighborhood DVD store and rented Kiki’s Delivery Service, an old favorite.  (One of M’s friends saw it recently. The two of them were inspired to play witches which included riding her friend’s zipline with brooms between their legs.) We watched and ate and recovered from our drive.

Tuesday was filled with playing with friends, a bit of schooly stuff (phonics matching game, M reading part of a Nate the Great book to me, a worksheet on antonyms), and a harrowing few minutes in the grocery store with both girls.


M and I spent Wednesday morning together, reading, doing art and sewing while C was at summer preschool making an octopus and a seahorse. After nap, C set up this pattern of rocks while M played Curious George games at PBS Kids.

Then all four of us walked up to our neighborhood tailgate market and sampled (and bought) berries and goat cheese and honey. C got quite angry with my insistence that she not serve herself from all the goat cheese samples and cried for much of the walk home, but such is life with 2yos.  In the evening, M and C played beautifully together, setting up a vet clinic in the living room with overnight kennels in the kitchen.  M’s dream is that she and C will both be vets when they grow up and open a clinic together.


Thursday was fairly quiet. I had some time to myself in the morning which was lovely and the afternoon involved lots of reading from the stack of books I picked up at the library. We took Swiss Chard stems to our neighbors chickens and ended up visiting with her for awhile and borrowing tapioca, the only ingredient we lacked for making the best blueberry pie ever.  Feeling wimpy after a few recent pie crust disasters, I used the filling from this recipe with a refrigerated crust so I can only imagine how much better it would be with the vodka crust which I’ve heard is amazing.

We finished up a full week with a trip to an amazing park in Montreat, NC with a stream to splash in and several playstructures, and we had lunch at my favorite pizza place in our area, My Father’s Pizza.  The weekend promises two birthday parties and a get together with neighbors to discuss our entry into the world of chicken ownership.  Whew!  And I worried we might get bored in July since I didn’t have much planned.

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Buttermilk Cake with Fruit


As soon as I saw the Raspberry Buttermilk Cake posted at Smitten Kitchen, I knew I had to give it a try.  I got some raspberries and fought off both girls to be able to save a cup of berries for the cake.  It was delicious, but it fell apart spectacularly when I tried to get it out of the pan.  On the second try, this time using blueberries instead of raspberries, it came out perfectly and was just as yummy though all the fruit sank to the bottom.  We ate it for breakfast this morning 🙂 I forgot to sprinkle the 1.5T of sugar over the top on the second go and no one noticed so if you want to cut a bit of the sugar, this is a good alternation.

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Our holiday weekend was packed with activity despite lots of rain.  My parents came to visit providing much grandparently attention and giving Brent and me a much needed date night.  We drank wine, ate cheese, bread, and olives and talked uninterrupted.  Amazing!


On Saturday, M ended year three of ballet lessons with a fantastic recital performance.  We went out for ice cream afterwards, sweet cream with raspberries in a dark chocolate-coated cone for me, “brown” a.k.a. chocolate for C, and raspberry sorbet with white chocolate chips and gummy bears for M (not a combo I plan on trying any time soon :)). We wrapped up the day with take-out eaten picnic style while watching Madagascar.

On Sunday, I ran errands all by myself on my own and Brent got some much needed yard work done while my mom and C played endless games with counting bears and my dad and M played art shop.  My parents departed in the afternoon and we had some friends over for the traditional Memorial Day grilling of hot dogs.  For dessert, I made a scrumptious Texas sheet cake (recipe below).  The evening included bubbles, digging in the dirt, playing musical instruments and a spectacular meltdown by M who missed her grandparents very much.


Today we’ve gone to the bookstore, done some worksheets on counting money, re-discovered our dry-erase letter cards, built a marble run, taken a walk in the rain, met a new neighbor, sent M to another neighbor’s for a playdate, eaten more cake, and watched several episodes of Dora. I also made a Sam’s run and sewed this drawstring backpack for M to use for carrying a water bottle, a notebook, pencils or other small items when we go for walks. I saw a similar bag at Old Navy and thought “I can make that.” So I got over my usual need for a pattern and gave it a shot hoping the design was as simple as I thought and luckily, it was.

A weekend well spent!  I’m gearing up for a busy week as M’s school comes to an end for the year and we get ready for a week at the beach!

Texas Sheet Cake (adapted from Bonny Wolf’s Talking With My Mouth Full)

For the cake:

1 cups (2 sticks) of butter
1 cup water
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2.25 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix butter, water, cocoa in a saucepan and heat until butter is melted, stirring occasionally.  Add flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda to an electric mixer bowl.  Stir to combine.  Add butter mixture and combine thoroughly. Save the saucepan to use for the frosting. Add sour cream, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix until combined. The batter will be thin. Pour into a greased and floured 15.5 x 10.5 x 1 inch jelly roll pan.    (I didn’t have a pan this size so I used a  9×13 inch pan and didn’t use quite all of the batter.)  Bake 20-25 minutes.

For the frosting:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 lb confectioner sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
6 T milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pecans (to scatter on top) (optional)

Mix all ingredients in reserved saucepan and heat, stirring until smooth.  Pour frosting over cake while it is still hot from the oven.  Scatter pecans on top.

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IMG_0465A few days ago, I decided to go through the numerous sticky notes protruding from my copy of The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz (my review is here.) and see if I could make one or two recipes with what I had on hand.  So for dinner that night, we had warm goat cheese salad using lettuce from our CSA and bread from the peasnt loaf recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes.  I did have to dash into the grocery store for some goat cheese, but it was well worth it. The salad was delicious!

IMG_0457Then there was dessert.  I’d always thought of chocolate mousse as a dessert with lots of heavy cream, probably because of the American fear of raw eggs.  David shares a very simple version containing only chocolate, water, liquer, and eggs. Since I buy farm fresh eggs and I’m willing to risk eating IMG_0460them in their raw form, I was eager to try it.  I used Cointreau rather than Chartreuse because we had it on hand and I love how it tastes mixed with chocolate.  I like to make chocolate cordials with bittersweet chocolate, water, and Cointreau.  The mousse recipe simply includes adding egg yolks and whipped egg whites to that mix.  It was divine!  I made dessert dishes of it for Brent and myself but we polished them off and got out the bowl with the rest so we could have more.  The next night, we finished the remainder with strawberries from our neighbors garden.  The combination was heavenly!

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SweetlifecoverhomepageI’ve been eagerly anticipating The Sweet Life in Paris for months. I ordered it as soon as it was released last week, and it is every bit as delicious as I expected it to be. I adore David Lebovitz’s witty essays on his blog as well as his yummy recipes.  David worked at Chez Pannisse in San Francisco for over a decade, then spent time writing several wonderful cookbooks.  After a personal tragedy, he decided to make a fresh start in Paris. This book is a collection of essays about learning how to decipher the cultural codes of his new city.  And it is laugh-out-loud funny.

I was reading yesterday while the girls played in the back yard, I started laughing and M asked me what was so funny.  I explained that it had to do with a bad batch of mint chip ice cream and a toilet that wouldn’t flush (a story that was even funnier to me since I seem to be cursed with at least one temperamental toilet where ever I live).  M demanded that I read the story to her.  I did, and she pulled up a chair and insisted I read more.  I selected a few more child-friendly passages, and she loved them as much as I did.

I’ve marked several of the recipes to try ASAP, and I’m looking forward to stealing a bit of C’s naptime to finish the rest of the book.  If you’re interested in Paris, desserts (who isn’t?), or need a good laugh, order this book immediately!

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Recent Yumminess

img_0327Inspired by this post at Zakka Life, M and I recently had hot cocoa and peeps (seems a bit late, but we’re still in the 50 days of Easter :)) during our afternoon reading time.  I’m not a fan of peeps on their own for taste but I love how they look and in cocoa, they taste like any other marshmallow.

img_0336A few days ago, I made the Custard-Filled Cornbread from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. Molly warned that the batter would be thin, but it was even thinner than expected. And though I heeded her warning to put the pan into the oven gently after pouring the cream into the center of the batter,  I was nervous that it wouldn’t come out right.  But it worked like magic.  The layers were perfect.  The top tasted like regular cornbread but the center was custardy and scrumptious.  This book is quickly becoming a favorite of mine.  I love Molly’s writing and so far all the recipes we’ve tried have been winners.

This past weekend I made the lemon cake from the latest issue of Everyday Food (my favorite cooking magazine).  Instead of the whipped frosting, I made the glaze they paired with lemon cookies: 2 cups powdered sugar, 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice and 2T lemon zest.  Just before serving the cake, I covered the bottom layer with glaze, topped it with the second layer and poured the rest of the glaze over the top.  It was divine!  We took it to dinner at a friend’s house and it disappeared that night.  I didn’t manage to get a picture of it which caused M to say that I’ll have to make another one very very soon.  I’d make one right now if we had lemons in the house.  It would be perfect for breakfast.  I love the combination of lemon cake or pie with coffee.

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