Monthly Archives: October 2010

Country French to Chick-fil-a

I flew into DC last night so today was my first day of trolling around the town, eating and hanging out with my friend. For breakfast we drove to Alexandria, VA (she technically lives in Arlington, not DC) where we went to La Madeleine Cafe and had a really yummy breakfast. I went for the Country French breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, potato gallette and a croissant – all very good. I also couldn’t resist the lemon madeleine’s …

And later, after spending what felt like an eternity at Babies R Us, we had a quick stop at Chick-fil-a. I haven’t been to one of these in over 10 years, so I obviously didn’t remember how delicious it was – the fries, amazing! And the lemonade was delicious too. My least favorite thing was probably the chicken strips, although they weren’t really bad, the others were just much better.

I’m off to bake Kristi’s birthday cake. Check back tomorrow after we cool and decorate it.


Side Dish – Rice Casserole

One of our favorite dishes –

1 cup cooked white rice

The easiest way to cook rice is spray a pan, heat, add 1 cup of rice, brown; once hot, add 2 cups water (always double the water to the amount of rice) and let boil. Once the water boils, turn to low, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes – 15 is generally sufficient.

Sour Cream


Can of green chiles

Salt & Pepper

Similar to a bean dip, you alternate layers of cooked rice, sour cream, shredded cheese and a can of green chiles. My mom adds butter, but you don’t have to (although it does taste a little butter, I mean better); add salt and pepper to taste. Cook in an oven of 350 for about 30 minutes – you can also place under the broiler for a few minutes – I heart broilers 🙂


Homemade Doughnuts – The Daring Bakers Challenge, Oct 2010

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

As you all know, October is my first month officially being a part of and participating in the The Daring Kitchen and more specifically, the baking portion. After seeing this month’s challenge, I was really excited. I LOVE DOUGHNUTS! I mean, I really love doughnuts. If they weren’t … doughnuts, I would eat them every day. But they are, so I don’t. But they do make a great treat. I recently learned that in the five+ years that I have been with Brad, I never let him on my mom’s can of biscuit donuts that she used to make for us as kids. Although he liked them, once he tried these, I could tell, there was no going back to a nice can of Pillsbury. 😦

Lori gave us for options for doughnuts: yeast, cake, bambolini and pumpkin (as I said before, Fall should be all things pumpkin). The first doughnuts that I made were the yeast… and here it goes, a story without words – or just a few words…

Steps 1 & 2

Step 3

Steps 4, 5 & 6

Step 7 START

Step 7 END

Steps 8 & 9

Steps 10 & 11

Step 12

I had a really great time making (and eating) these donuts. It’s a perfect morning treat. Next time you have guests, start a batch of doughnuts – it only takes an hour to rise and we all know that there is no sleeping in when we host guests. Take the extra hour and make them something special; I’m sure they would be really surprised at your skills and hard work. Anyone can drive to the doughnut shop in the morning, not everyone can whip a quick batch of homemade doughnuts. Try it out. It’s really much easier than you would think.

Yeast Donuts
Milk 1.5 cup / 360 ml
Vegetable Shortening 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 70 gm / 2.5 oz (can substitute butter, margarine or lard)
Active Dry Yeast 4.5 teaspoon (2 pkgs.) / 22.5 ml / 14 gm / ½ oz
Warm Water 1/3 cup / 80 ml (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
Eggs, Large, beaten 2
White Granulated Sugar ¼ cup / 60 ml / 55 gm / 2 oz
Table Salt 1.5 teaspoon / 7.5 ml / 9 gm / 1/3 oz
Nutmeg, grated 1 tsp. / 5 ml / 6 gm / ¼ oz
All Purpose Flour 4 2/3 cup / 1,120 ml / 650 gm / 23 oz + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil

1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. (Make sure the shortening is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.)
2. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.
3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm.
4. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.
5. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.
6. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
7. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
8. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).
9. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
10. Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.
11. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).
12. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

Q & A with Chef Harold Dieterle, Top Chef Season 1 Winner

Calphalon sends me emails a couple of times a month – sometimes they are worth reading, sometimes not. This, I thought, was not only worth reading but also worth sharing.

I leave for DC on Wednesday to visit my bestie… our last time together before her little one arrives. I’m so excited I wish I was leaving today. If you have any suggestions on where to visit, what to see, what I should eat, let me know. Oh, and don’t worry, I will still be blogging for your reading pleasure. Not only am I going to make her a birthday cake – I’m going to make her help! HA

Food for Fuel

Yesterday and today were very busy with a lot of food preparation – thankfully my mom came up to help… I couldn’t have done it without her. Lee, Brad’s dad came out from Texas to do the Santa Barbara Century ride today – it was awesome. Not only did they finish their 100 km in a good time, they had the stamina to hang out in our courtyard for a good five hours visiting with our friends & family. All in all, a pretty good day but it’s safe to say that everyone is pretty tired.

Although I did a lot of cooking, I have to recognize my dad for AMAZING tri-tip. I don’t care what anyone says, no one’s tri-trip is better than my dad’s. In addition to tri-tip, we had:

chicken skewers

pinto beans

rice casserole

corn & flour tortillas

chips, salsa, guacamole, queso

fruit salad

green salad

cold pasta salad – this is yummy (I’ll post the recipe below)

celery & carrots

pumpkin cheesecake

chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting – I cannot get enough of this frosting- mmmmmmmm!

A lot of food, a lot of fun, friends, family… what a great day. And congratulations to Carl, Kevin and Lee. And Brad, you did awesome – I am so proud of you. Maybe I’ll do it with you next year… maybe.

Cold Pasta Salad

Noodles (linguine, rotini… anything you want)

Zesty Italian Dressing

Salad Supreme


Black Olives


Sun-dried tomatoes

Cook pasta, as directed, coat with zesty italian dressing and salad supreme; refrigerate overnight. The following day, add more dressing, as needed and add chopped veggies and cheese. You can use the veggies of your choice the ones I listed above are my personal favs. This cold pasta dish is always a favorite and easy to make.

Food Inspiration

I sometimes get uninspired to cook – especially when I’m tired. When I am feeling overwhelmed or lacking energy, the last thing I want to do is cook – at least with something other than a box or a can.

Luckily I subscribe to a lot of food blogs and although I am looking at them while at work (shhhh, I multi-task very well), I get really inspired by the things that are out there and people are doing – I should be one of those people! So here are a few things that I have found particularly inspiring lately:

Vertical Pear Salad – arugula, pecans, cheese

Homemade bread

Candy Apples – LOVE these for Fall

This apple has been cured in lime pickle roasted and then hollowed out. We fill it with foie gras mousse, crisp pork tail, a puree of the apples inards, hazelnuts and shiitake mushroom. Check out Town House Blog

Themed cake balls – anyone wanna have a party??

Anna’s Chocolate Cake (aka chocolate sheet cake)

Other than Swiss Pastry Shop’s Black Forest Cake, this is Brad’s other favorite cake. BFC is in a league all its own and is hard to make, so it doesn’t get made very often (by me, I mean. SPS makes it all of the time and I’m pretty sure it’s the state cake, or at least the city’s cake). This, although a little more work to make than a cake mix, is pretty easy to make and the first time I had it was last year when I was staying in Texas over the holidays. It’s kind of funny how Kathy (Brad’s mom) can make a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting AND sprinkles – all thing I love to do with cupcakes, and Brad loves it. I make it and he says, too much chocolate; I don’t like sprinkles… oh a son’s love for his mother!

Anna’s Chocolate Cake

2 sticks butter

1 C. water

1/4 C. cocoa

Mix the above three ingredients in a pan over low heat until melted. Set aside to cool. Add:

2 C. flour

2 C. sugar

Mix well.

Add the following ingredients, mixing well after each addition:

2 eggs

1/2 C. buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, an easy substitute is to pour 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar into a 1 C. measuring cup and fill the rest with milk; let sit for 5 minutes, use as needed)

1 t. baking soda

1 t. vanilla

This fills a 9×13 pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Mind turned out with a weird “X” thing on the top, and I’m not sure if it’s from my oven or because I didn’t really follow the directions when mixing the ingredients (shocking, I know)- good thing it is being covered in yummy frosting.


1 stick butter

1/4 C. cocoa

1/4 C. buttermilk

2 C. powdered sugar

Heat the butter, cocoa and buttermilk over low heat; add the powdered sugar and beat well. Ideal to spread over the cake while it’s still warm.

Hopefully the picture doesn’t make it less appetizing.

And after my decorating class and my first use of a stencil, you get this:

The “happy halloween” is melted chocolate that I was practicing with on wax paper. I wrote a few things (also how I did the MAMA BULLDOG cupcakes) and bagged them for later use. Perfect because I don’t like reusing the chocolate and I also don’t like wasting it. Anytime you have leftover melted chocolate, practice making cupcake toppers or other embellishments for things that are coming up (I have a great one that I can’t wait to share). The cat is a stencil I found on one of Martha Stewart’s many websites. I have to admit, I passed on the four stencil scarecrow because I knew it would be more work that I wanted. Once stencil was fine with me, thank you very much. The cat is done in buttercream (what else) and covered in black dusting sugar.

Good thing I like Halloween.