Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top Posts of 2011

As it is the last day of 2011, and I can't be the only one thinking WHERE did this last year go, I don't want to be the only blogger left without a recap post. As I don't think I have the time or willpower to mill though every post of the last year and give you a DVD style commentary, I'll post readers most popular posts of the last year.

As the day winds down and 2012 is creeping around the corner, here it goes. The top posts 10 of 2011 as decided by the internet (and reported by Google):

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Triple Chocolate Strawberry Cake

This recipe is brought to you by the friendly skies, courtesy of Delta Airlines and the generosity of my dad's frequent flyer miles. I'm totally lying about Delta Airlines, they have no idea who I am. The fact that I am currently writing this post at, oh, about 36,965 feet in the air somewhere over South Dakota (thank you in-seat monitor!) is due to my ol' pops lending me a few thousand air miles so I could make it home for Christmas. This post is not brought to you by the man across the asile watching Twilight or the overly touchy-feely couple next to me. Nope. Not at all.

I'm slowly but surely getting into the Christmas spirit. I would like to think my journey down jolly lane began somewhere in West Seattle sitting in a second-run theater watching a slightly askew showing of "A Very Muppet Christmas". Not only was I good Seattelite and donated a massive bag of dog food to the Humane Society of Seattle (there are more dogs than kids in the city, it's obvious who we love more) but I also roped two of my closest friends into going with me. We left the theater feeling spirited, mainly due to the excitement of the hundreds of children surrounding us, and my skin is losing its green tint and I think my heart has grown at least 1.25 sizes. The last part may be because of holiday food but let us pretend it's from Christmas and going back to the Midwest for the first time in a year.

While I may still be working up to celebrating Christmas, I was surely in the celebratory spirit last weekend.  One of my best friends from not only high school, but also college, now lives in Seattle with her boyfriend (also an alum of BHS and Michigan) doing the whole AmeriCorps thing. I can't be the first one to say it's always nice to have a piece of your upbringing in your new home. As her birthday falls at the end of December, she rarely is able to have a birthday party, let alone in the company of twenty plus people. Her boyfriend came up with the idea to throw her an early surprise birthday party with me at the helm helping spread the word. While I guess actually having people at the party is pretty important, I personally think having the perfect cake is crucial.

Casually bringing up the topic of cake at our weekly girls Glee night earlier in the week, the birthday girl in question explained to here that there can be no such thing as too much chocolate. Ever. Triple chocolate diabetic-shock ice cream? Bring it. Girl hath no fear. So I made the most ridiculously over the top chocolate cake. Dark chocolate cake PLUS dark chocolate almond whipped ganache PLUS a dark chocolate cake collar.


Oh, and it was pretty cool that a lot of people showed up too the party too. And that 'A' turned 24. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Dark Chocolate Cake
Adapted fron Ina Garten

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking power and salt. Mix together.
  3. In a small glass, milk almond milk and vinegar together with a fork. Allow to sit for a few minutes until almond milk starts to "curdle." (Note: if this doesn't need your cake to be dairy-free, use 1 cup of buttermilk).
  4. In a medium bowl, beat eggs until they begin to froth. Whisk in almond milk mixture, coffee, vegetable oil and vanilla extract.
  5. With mixer running, slowly add in liquid mixture until completely incorporated, taking care not to overbeat the batter.
  6. Divide better evenly between the two cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until tester is inserted into the middle of the cake and comes out clean. When done, leave in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack until completely cool. Frost as desired.

Whipped Dark Chocolate Ganache
This recipe is incredibly flexible. I always do equal parts chocolate and almond milk but you can adjust the ratio to suit your ganache consistency tastes.

  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200g almond milk

  1. Chop dark chocolate and place in a medium heatproof bowl.
  2. In a small sauce pan, heat almond milk until it starts to boil. Keep on eye on it - it tends to boil over when it's not being watched.
  3. Pour heated almond milk over chopped chocolate and let it sit for one minute. Whisk together until uniform and smooth. Allow to cool completely (I sometimes use my fridge and freezer to speed to up).
  4. When cooled, use a whisk or whisk attachment on a mixer and beat until light in color and the texture of mousse. 
  5. Use as desired on cake.

As this was the first time I've ever made a cake collar (I think it turned out pretty decent!), I'll direct your attention to a site that does a much better job explaining the process than I ever could. Here you go.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tomato-Olive Stuffing

Sometimes it's hard to get into the holiday spirit and I guess this would be one of those times. As a girl from Michigan who was frequently spoiled rotten with a fresh blanket of flakes every few days in December, the adjustment to holiday weather in Seattle has been less than jolly. How am I supposed to feel Christmas in my fingers and my toes when it's a balmy 45 degrees and  the ground is damp with freshly fallen rain drops? Bah! HUMBUG!  

Tonight I went for a long walk by all the fancy houses in Queen Anne while listening to my favorite podcast's holiday episodes. I took pictures of silly houses and a decked out Space Needle! My cheeks got rosy! I even had to put gloves on…  Eventually, I felt some of the spirit slip through me, but I don't have the same urge as in years past to listen to non-stop Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving to the evening of the 25th. I think I might be broken.

No matter, I am preforming some self-therapy and forcing myself to listen to Sufjan Stevens' Christmas album and throwing in the classic Bing Crosby for good measure too. I might even see what holiday offerings Netflix has. No matter what, when I fly into Michigan a week from now, I will be jollier than the man in red himself!

Regardless of if you're a little like me or you're pacifically one of Santa's elves, I'd like to think this stuffing is perfect for the holidays. I personally made it for Friendsgiving (which was ironically a week after real Thanksgiving), which is my mind is one of the greatest holidays of them all! Friends, lots of wine, more food than we know what to do with and college football playoffs? HECK YES! We know how much I love Friendsgiving so we should move onto the stuffing… it's amazing. Completely out of left field and out of the ordinary amazing. After poking around the internet for a few days looking for a stuffing recipe that didn't make me think of a 1950's Christmas television special, I finally came across something that didn't just call for butter and bread. No no, this had olives, tomatoes and rosemary, oh my! Even though I'm positive tomatoes aren't the least bit in season in Seattle, I was able to find a beautiful box of cherry tomatoes ready for roasting.

While Thanksgiving has passed, Christmas is fast approaching.  If you need a dish that reminds you of far-off flavors but in the comfort of your home, look no further. And hey, we can pretend it's totally healthy because it has vegetables in it and stuff.

Tomato-Olive Stuffing
Adapted from The Bitten Word

  • 1 loaf crusty Italian bread, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (approx. 8 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced medium
  • 2 large celery stalks, diced medium
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in middle and lower thirds. On two rimmed baking sheets, arrange bread in a single layer. Toast until dry and pale golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool. 
  2. Meanwhile, lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and cook, stirring frequently, until onion and celery are softened, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, olives, rosemary and red-pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add parsley, eggs, and bread; stir to combine. Add broth in two additions, stirring until absorbed after each addition. Season generously with salt and pepper and transfer stuffing to dish. Bake on middle rack until deep golden brown on top, 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving. 
  4. Great for leftovers, both hot or cold!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Moroccan-ish Carrot Salad

For the past few weeks months my CSA box has been overloaded with carrots.  We're not even talking your standard large orange carrots that cartoon bunnies nibble on, oh no. I have never seen, let alone cooked with, such colorful carrots in my entire life. White ones, purple speckled ones, rainbow bunches and tie-dye ones. I'm totally lying about the last one, but that would be pretty cool except I'm not so sure I'd want to know about the science that brought my hippie carrots.

I had thought I exhausted all the uses for the common carrot. Roasted? Check. Pureed into a variety of soups? Triple check. Gnawed up raw? Yep. In a carrot only salad? No… or at least not until a few weeks ago. I saw this recipe somewhere on the Internet a few weeks back and was excited to finally have a new use for my overflowing collection of carrots. Even better was I didn't have to turn on the oven and cause the heat to rise in my apartment to unbearable levels. That's the curse of having a 400 square foot studio and an incredibly powerful convection oven - the temperature of the oven is pretty representative of the temperature in my apartment. I guess worse things have happened in the world.

While I was pretty happy with this Moroccan-ish carrot salad, there are a few things I would have changed.  First off, I don't know if this was my or the recipes error, but I thought the carrots were a tad too firm. The smaller cuts were perfectly tender but some of the larger ones were nearly impossible to penetrate with a fork. As you might imagine, some carrots were leaping off the plate in my attempt to trap then within my tines. Second, I thought carrots alone were a little bland and there wan an excessing of dressing. My remedy was throwing it upon a bed of lettuce and calling it dinner. All in all, good & healthy salad.

Moroccan-ish Carrot Salad
Adapted from Crumb

  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp each cumin and caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp spicy paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful mint leaves, chopped
  • Handful crumbled goat cheese
  • Romaine lettuce

  1. Blanch the carrots for 2 minutes (note: I would increase the blanching time) in a large pot of boiling water, then plunge into an ice-water bath to stop the cooking process. Once the carrots are completely cooled, drain and transfer to a pretty salad bowl.
  2. Using a dry skillet, toast the cumin and caraway over high heat for about 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Grind into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
  3. Combine the cumin and caraway mixture with the paprika and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and honey. Whisk until blended, then pour over the carrots and toss to coat. Set aside to the flavors meld, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. When ready, serve over romaine lettuce and sprinkle salad with handfuls of chopped mint and crumbled feta.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup

The soup has some serious heat and had the same magical powers as pho.  Remember how you feel the need to eat a whole bowl of pho every time you sense a sniffle or start covering coughs? I do. It's made even worse, or better(?), by the fact that there is a pho shop less than a mile away from me. And there isn't even that big of a hill to walk up on the way back. Too bad I don't think unemployment supports a pho-a-day habit so well. Good thing I know my way around a kitchen and can make things that are just as good, if not better, than what I was caving. Well, except Fro-Yo… if I knew how to make that you'd have to lift me out of my apartment window.

When the boy and I made this for dinner a few weeks ago, I can safely say it was the least sexy meal ever. We were both dealing with the consequences the sniffles a la jalapeño & chipotle. For anyone who has had pho, you know that this is the end goal. You want to be cleaned out and warmed up. These minor symptoms of hot soup shouldn't take away from the fact that this soup is delicious. Even more so, I was finally able to use up the butternut squash from my CSA's and fend off a winter cold. BONUS POINTS!

I would advise against eating this soup in the summer, that just might be considered torture.

Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted from uTry

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small leek, use white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed
  • well
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño, finely diced
  • 1 Granny Smith (green) apple, cored, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 pounds Butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut
  • into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound red yam, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 cups chicken/vegetable stock
  • 1 medium chipotle chili (canned in adobo sauce),
  • can substitute with 1 tablespoon of chipotle spice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup pepitas 

  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Saute garlic, leek, carrots and onion until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add apple, ginger and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Add butternut squash, yam and stock; simmer until squash and yam are tender, about 15 minutes. Add chipotle or chipotle spice.
  3. Puree using an immersion blender (or a standard blender, in batches).
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Dollop teaspoon of pepitas right before serving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pumpkin Swedish Pancakes

Sometimes, just sometimes, a recipe is so delicious that it doesn't need an expertly shot photo to prove its worth. I didn't whip out my light box, teeter on the edge of my bar stools or clear off the candles on my window ledge to bring you the perfect shot. Heck, I didn't even have my darling D7000 (seriously, I take better care of that camera than I do myself) within a 5 mile radius.  Instead I was equipped only with my iPhone (and not even the new fangled 4S at that), a sunny Sunday morning and a delicious well-past-noon brunch. You know what? I'm ok with that. Sure, these pictures won't make it onto Tastespotting but you would be a fool not to make these.

While the Swedes aren't known for putting pumpkin on their plates, I say these Swedish pancakes are still authentic as they were made by a halfsies Swedish boy. I actually think that means these pancakes are  perfect, as they are half Swedish half… not. He adjusted the traditional Swedish pancake recipe by adding in one more egg, omitting the butter, adding agave, mixing up the spices and obviously adding about half a can of pumpkin.  The only issue he had is that some of the pancakes tore a little too easily as the moisture content was bumped up. He theorized that throwing in some vital wheat gluten next time might help but I'm asking you, dear readers, do you have any suggestions?

I personally am excited to try these out again and maybe use different purees in place of the pumpkin. They may or may not work but to anyone who knows me, breakfast food is my favorite meal genre and I'm pretty much up to eating or trying anything that is thrown into said category. 

Bonus to this post: a sneak peak into how I blog. Under the coves, the presence of pants is questionable, big cup of joe at my side, All Songs Considered podcast playing and handwritten recipe propped up. Sure, it's not fancy but as it is rainy and cloudy right now, it's pretty much the perfect place to be.

Pumpkin Swedish Pancakes
Invented by Andy
  • ~⅓-½ can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • dash of: cinnamon, all spice, ground cloves, nutmeg 
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • ⅓ cup whole wheat flour
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • Goat butter (to fry in)

  1. Whisk together all ingredients, except butter, until the batter is smooth and no lumps remain.
  2. Heat cast iron skillet and melt butter. Add one scoop of batter and cook on one side until lightly browned.  Flip and continue cooking on the other side.
  3. Serve warm with a cup of coffee and some pure (Grade B people, please) maple syrup.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Apple Spice Blondies

The reviews are in on yet another fall-themed apple dessert and there are more than a few sticky thumbs-up in the crowd. Keep in mind there might have been a slight error in tallying the votes as I'm pretty sure a lot of the ladies at girls night were licking their fingers. I know I was constantly licking spoons and stealing apples out of the batter when I was mixing up the dough. Tell me, what is better than apples coated cinnamon-y fall-flavored batter? Nothing? Nothing. That's right - you found my Achilles heel. So anyone who is trying to trick a favor or a slice of cake out of me… use this piece of information wisely.

I came across the recipe when I was trying to look for an alternative to baking a whole apple pie. Don't get me wrong, it's one of my favorite desserts out there and little is more rewarding than seeing a homemade pie emerge from of the oven. But you see people, it's a lot of work and waiting. The dough, the baking… the resisting of eating apples covered in spices and sugar straight out of the mixing bowl. Sometimes a girl just needs a break. Good thing these apple spice blondies are a pretty good pie substitute without sacrificing flavor.

Before I leave you to the recipe, a piece of wisdom: don't ship your sister these blondies 3,000 miles wrapped in only some tin foil and enclosed in a measly flat rate envelope.  It's true, they will show up on her door room stoop flattened like a sheet of paper and virtually inedible.  At least she got a sassy card with the package…

Monday, November 7, 2011

Butternut Pizza

Dear Aperture photo library: 

Why did you have to go up and delete a lot of my recently uploaded photos of food?  I know you decided to upgrade to the 3.2 version and you probably have some new features that I will probably never use but seriously?  What did I ever do to you? Because of you, I am not unable to bring the goods to my adoring (you adore me, right) fans. No maple walnut apple crisp. No rosemary pear cast iron pan cake. Basically, Aperture, right now you are the grinch of the town called The Ginger Cook-ville and I'm none too happy about it.



I am completely vented and ready to move onto discussing two of my favorite thing: Glee and pizza. I've mentioned before how, every Tuesday night, my closest Seattle girlfriends and I cook dinner at Katrina's house and watch Glee. Food, show choir and 27-year olds trying to pass themselves off at high schoolers.  That is a snapshot into the secret life of the 20-something female people. Do you also remember that I said I would start bringing my camera? I finally did AND I even was able to play cheesy 1970's British photographer with Julie in the backyard while taking some head shots. What I'm basically trying to say is that we're the classiest bunch of ladies you would ever hope to meet.

Julie suggested we make a vacation of her favorite pizza at Proletariat Pizza in White Center. I made my usual half whole wheat thin crust recipe earlier in the day and other ladies were in charge of different ingredients. It's your pretty basic pizza except for that it is topped with shaved butternut squash and loaded with arugula right after it is taken out of the oven. That my friends, is the key to a perfect fall pizza. I must warn you though, this recipe will also probably appear in another location hopefully very soon. We're planning to develop our weekly cooking adventures into the greatest collaborative blog that has ever existed!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chocolate Pretzel Rings

I'm feeling a bit lackluster in the kitchen area today, how about you?  My CSA box is coming on Thursday and I'm surviving off some delicious, but interesting colored, soups I have been stock piling in my freezer. I did buy two cute little butternut squashes at the Capitol Hill farmers market yesterday but those already have a date planned with some green chard. Essentially, things have been grinding to a halt in my kitchen but fret not! I have a stock-pile of recipes (ok, like two or three recipes) for just this occasion.

Cue the easiest/cutest/most crave-worthy snack ever - pretzels with chocolate and M&M's. Roll your eyes if you must, but I made these for the Superbowl this past February. I already had so many recipes piled up, and this barely counts as a recipe and more of a middle-of-the-night craving, they sort of fell by the wayside and faded into foodie oblivion. However, I recently got a new MacBook Pro and in an effort to try and clear out some of the files clogging up my 'vintage' MacBook before transferring files, I happened upon this photo. Blog post worthy right? At least I'm not posting (yet) about the semi-questionable thing I whip up for lunch sometimes...

My friend's old roommate claims that these are "a total chick magnet" and he likes to casually whip some up and impress a girl with his skills (I use that word very loosely here) in the kitchen. Out of the array of snacks I set out, these were definitely one of the first to go. Even better the M&M colors can easily coordinate for an impending holiday or general season. Easy, cheap, customizable AND a chick magnet? What can go wrong?

Evidenced by the following photo, you can see that some apple treats will soon be making their way onto the blog!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apple Spice Cake with Maple Goat Milk Buttercream

Do you ever have those times where you think "we'll, I'm just sitting here on my couch and the Netflix instant streaming queue is a little subpar right now… I should probably write a blog post." You keep thinking this over and over but alas, no blog post.  Story of my life right now.  I think in the time I thought I wanted to write a blog post I: watched some movies of questionable quality, ate a bowl of popcorn, did my laundry and cooked a whole bunch of things but failed to take photographs of them.  Though I have been catching up on emails and planning a camping trip like my life depends on it.  I mean, it kind of does but really I'm just procrastinating.

Remember above how I mentioned I've been cooking a lot but failing to take photos?  I would like to blame 4 of my best girlfriends, but in reality I continually forget to bring my camera to Tuesday night girl's dinner.  That's right, every Tuesday we gather at Katrina's house to drink wine and cook an (according to all her roommates) extravagantly gourmet meal.  So far we have made roasted butternut salad with fried sage/goat cheese crostini; whole wheat pizza with caramelized onions, figs & goat cheese; pumpkin cashew coconut curry and last night this delicious fall vegetable galette.  I can feel the disappointment and resentment from my parents from the other side of the country; they always urge me to post more "real food."

I'll just set a goal for myself of, no matter what, no excuses, I will bring my camera to dinner next week. Until then, as an act of mid-20's rebellion, I will blog about cake.  At least it's a small cake that I made for a boy on his birthday.  I think you get negative good karma points if you hate on a birthday cake, especially one for a boy that you think is cute.  Disregarding shame and karma points, this cake was perfect for two people and I imagine it would work even better for a small gathering. The boy and I each had a small slice and I sent him off with the rest wrapped up and ready to be frozen.  From what I understand, he ate a couple slices for breakfast the next day and polished it off not much later.

While is he a guy and this doesn't mean much because it is common knowledge that all guys are human garbage disposals, this cake was pretty good.  A simple spice cake with the addition of grated apples made the cake incredibly moist and light and the maple goat buttercream, as usual, provided an interesting and complex tang.  While you can obviously make this cake larger or divide the batter up into cupcake tins, the recipe below works perfectly for two layers of a 5 or 6 inch cake. I used the largest ramekins I had on hand, I'm not exactly sure how large they are.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Roasted Carrot & Sweet Pepper Soup

So a few weeks back I had some surgery.  Nothing huge (not in the slightest) but I couldn't eat anything with a consistency tougher than baby food for a week and a half. To add a whole bunch of insult to injury, I got my CSA box two days after surgery; it was full of leafy greens, end of summer vegetables and delicious, delicious peaches.

Usually this would make me skip all the way home but instead I shed a tear for the vegetables that had to fall into the hands of my friends.  Giving up some baby bok choy? I've never been so heartbroken. Pattypan squash? Left me in a funk for days.  However, anything that I could roast and puree up I kept.  End of the day I was left with a bunch of rainbow carrots, an array of sweet peppers, some tomatillo's and a variety of foods I could bring to that Sunday's BBQ.  Cue Roasted Pepper Carrot soup with tomatillo salsa.

It was easy to make, had a depth of flavor and magically lasted a few days in my fridge. Even though I made this in a moment of desperation, I'm looking forward to making it again.  Actually… what did I get in my CSA box again…?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Peaches and Cream Cupcakes

It's the first day of fall in Seattle (well, I guess all over the Northern Hemisphere it is too)… and it is 83 degrees outside.  Have I mentioned that sometimes Seattle weather drives me nuts? We get summer weather in the fall and… rain every other time? Whatever, I still love you Seattle and no matter what you do I'm still not budging. That and I really like my apartment. I have a pretty view and a pretty rocking convection oven.

Regretfully, it'll be back to rain come Sunday. That is why I am writing this post outside and drinking a beer (shhh, don't tell anyone it's not 5 o'clock yet!)

As peach season was, and almost still is, in full swing in Washington, my CSA box was loaded with the fuzzy fruit. So much so that I really couldn't eat it all by myself.  I churned it into ice cream, baked it into batter and dutifully snacked on slices throughout the day. Still, I had a few left over and and BAM, birthday cupcakes!

When my dear friend, Katrina, turned 24 a few weeks ago we went out to The Saint, a new-ish tequila bar in Capitol Hill.  Now if bringing your ergonomic cupcake carrier to the bar doesn't scream "coolest person alive," I don't know what will.  Per usual, I topped the cupcake off with my (now) signature goat milk buttercream but I could have never anticipated how well the flavors would mesh together.  Sweet n' tangy. It's kinda my thing.

It was apparently everyone else's thing too.  I'm not usually one to toot my own horn, but most, if not all, of my friends said "these [were] the best cupcakes I have ever had!" The cupcake is light like a muffin but slightly denser like cake. Of course, having pockets of peaches scattered throughout the batter doesn't hurt either.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cantaloupe Sorbet

Wouldn't you know, I'm not the biggest fan of cantaloupe in its purest form. Cantaloupe margarita? Sure! Pass the pitcher! Blended into a grocery store fruit salad? Sure! I can handle that.  On it's own in a bowl right in front of me? No thanks.  I don't know what it is, but even when my mom tried to get me to eat it as a little kid, it was the one food I picked at and refused to eat.  I think it's a texture thing.  Maybe?

Regardless, I got a big ol' cantaloupe in my CSA box a few weeks back and had a boy from coming over for dinner. I had two issues at hand. One, I had to use said cantaloupe. Two, I had to make a dessert to impress said boy. After flipping though a cookbook or two, I landed on Sir Lebovitz's cantaloupe sorbet.

You know what? I loved it.  And I loved it just as much when I finished it off a few days ago. My friend Matt loved it when he came over to drink wine.  Moral of the story, even people who who don't like cantaloupe will love this sorbet.

What I love most if that the sorbet still retains all of the cantaloupe flavor, isn't overly sweet and the lime perfectly sets off the flavor.  So if you get a CSA full of melons, look no further!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

DIY Iced Coffee

I'm pretty picky about my coffee, but I think that comes with the territory of living both in Seattle and a part of the country where, in the winter, the sun doesn't rise until 9am and it starts setting at 2:00.  Oh geeze, I didn't mean to get off to such a negative start there… oops. Hey! We have the most gorgeous summers in the whole United States! Positivity! As I type this I'm sitting on my couch staring out at clear blue skies, Mt Baker and float planes taking off & landing in Lake Union. How many of you can say you did THAT today? Well, minus the 3 million-ish inhabitants of the Seattle Metro area.

Right, back to the coffee. As you can probably tell, I may have had a bit too much of it this morning.  It's pretty easy to overdo. Not only is iced coffee much more concentrated, when it's mixed with some almond milk and a little bit of stevia extra… it's incredibly hard to stop myself.  It also doesn't help that I refuse to drink it in anything other than my treasured possibly-stolen-from-The-Cabin mason jar!

FOCUS. I had seen "recipes" (I use that term incredibly loosely) floating around the internet for a while now. As I usually order iced coffee from Cafe Ladro as much as possible in the summer, I figured making it at home would save me a small fortune. It's pretty simple: stir together some coffee grounds with water, let it steep while you sleep, strain, & BAM. MAGIC.  As the name suggests, iced coffee is served over ice so all that magic you just made lasts forever.  For me at least 1 billion dollars at the coffee shop worth.

Sadly, as summer and kinda coming to a close, I'll have to start making the switch back over to Americano's. Who wants to be my sugar daddy and either serve me Americano's in bed every morning or buy me an espresso machine? I'm really not too picky.
Standing on high counters + living alone = bad idea. Crisis = averted. Sorry, Mom.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Shaved Fennel Salad

Being an adult can be pretty awesome.  You can buy fancy beer, even though I sometimes still blush when they card me. I really should stop doing that, I've been "of age" for a while now.

You can eat pints of blueberries and bunches of carrots from farmers markets and call it lunch. No one is judging.

You can fly your best friend (since the age of 11!) up from Texas just to make her go on a hike with you. No, we did other stuff but really, who are we kidding…

A few days later you can hike up the side of a mountain and stay up late.  Did I mention I did this all in the past few days? No? Yeah, sometimes being an adult is cool.  These are some of the major pros.

Other times, I eat popcorn sans pants and call it dinner when I don't have much time on my hands. Don't judge me.  When you're an adult you'll see all things are possible.  This salad? One of the awesome parts of being an adult. One week I got a surplus of vegetables I don't usually cook with in my CSA box. I had eaten fennel before but had yet to cook with it. Adult arugula? POUNDS of zucchini? Good thing a few days before I finally purchased Heidi Swanson's "Super Natural Everyday."

Anyone who is even slightly acquainted with me knows that I have a slight addiction to cookbooks.  Some I rarely use and others that every page is splattered in stains. Already this one belongs in the latter category. As the name of the book implies, all of the recipes are as natural as possible and relatively free of "additives" (sugars, refined grains, etc).

Moral of the blog post: this salad is easy to put together, you can make it ahead and everyone will think you're a super fancy adult.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lavender Cupcakes with Lemon Goat Milk Buttercream

So, these cupcakes were supposed to be a little fancier than they are.  Now, I’m not discrediting my skills.  No no, these cupcakes just as good, if not better, than I expected. It's just that I was looking forward to decorating them in a certain way. I had been watching and reading tutorials on how to make flowers with buttercream. I even spent a whole two dollars on a new tip. Moral of the story: don’t use zest in buttercream when you intend to use a tip with a tiny opening.  It gets all sorts or clogged and the user (read: me) get's all sorts of frustrated.

As luck would have it, I have about 20 other frosting tips littering a drawer in my kitchen.  I pretty much closed my eyes, reached in and felt for one that was not too big and not too small. The Goldilocks of piping tips.

Other than the slight issue with the buttercream, I actually had a blast making these. While I had dabbled in baking with goat butter/milk before, this is the first time all aspects of the cake were goatified.  Is that a word? No? Moving on…

Regardless, even though goat butter is about double the price ($5 for 1 cup) and so far I’ve only been able to track it down at Whole Foods, it really makes a difference.  PEER PRESSURE. Not really, you’re more than welcome to use some unsalted butter but don’t say I didn’t warn you… The combination of the soft lavender with the tang of goat makes a full bouquet of flavors.  And the buttercream? Oh jeeze, if that much sugar didn’t put me into a coma nor make me the size of a blue whale, I would eat it every day. No one wants to see a passed out Katherine the size or a blue whale with a mane of red hair. SCARY.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Papaya Chipotle Pineapple Chicken with Almond Soy Soba Noodles

Wouldn't you know, I cooked chicken last night and didn't set off the fire alarm.  Now, for most people, this would be a no brainer.  You see, I am not like most people... I was a vegetarian (and a strict one at that) for the majority of my life and never learned how to cook meat.  It has to be cooked to a certain temp so you don't die or some brain disease? What?  Moral of the story, I am slightly challenged when it comes to meat.  Either I try to pan fry it and the fire alarm goes off.  Or I try to cook it solely in the oven and the fire alarm goes off.  Tough times.

But ah ha! I can pan sear it and then put it in the oven.  Result? Juicy, delicious and full of marinade. Saying I did a little dance to some Justin Timberlake in my kitchen would be an understatement.  If I had room in my studio apartment, I would have done cartwheels.

While the chicken would go great on a bed of anything (well, not everything), I decided to use my new julienne mandoline, a fresh pack of soba noodles and went wild.  As I don't like eating too many noodles, the julienned zucchini added to the dish without weighing it down.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lentil, Roasted Turnip and Chard Soup

I'm baaacccckkk. Wait, what... you didn't know I was gone? Oh, this is awkward... well, I was gone. I even left the state of Washington and headed on down to California for the first time ever. You read that right, I had never never been to California before this vacation. I can finally call myself an American. I did what you'd expect me to do while on vacation. I took silly pictures with my little sister:
Smile, Caroline, you're on TGC!
 Hung out in touristy parks doing touristy things like taking ironic pictures with my iPhone:
See that yellow house in the middle? Yeah, the Tanner family lived there!

 And essentially took a sight-seeing flight back home to a (gratefully) sunny Seattle:
Sup Shasta?
I know you though, you're here for the food.

 A soup recipe in the middle of August? I know, it’s cruel and highly unusual considering 99.9% of the country in melting away in 100+ degree heat waves. But you see, I live in the .1% of the country whose summer only just started. Yes, you read me right, most days we don’t crack 80 degrees. Just two or three weeks ago, it was in the 60’s, raining and I was eating my body weight in Pho just to stay warm. My family was out visiting and I found myself saying over and over again “I swear it’s nicer in Seattle in the summer, I swear.” Then I left for San Francisco and when I came back, it has been continual high-70’s sunny days. With low humidly.

I probably shouldn’t have told you that. Now you’re all going to move here and my rent will go up.  Please ignore the last paragraph and read all my other posts about the rain here.  And STAY AWAY.

So this soup – it’s healthy, full of fresh veggies and relies on (hopefully) some of your pantry staples. If you don’t have lentils continually on hand, please, head over to your nearest Whole Foods/Food Co-Op/bulk grocery store, grab the biggest bag you can find, fill it up, don’t break your back carrying it home and enter lentil land.

You’ll thank me.

I’m also happy to say this recipe is 95.6% my own. Researching the contents of my CSA box, I had never cooked with turnips before, and looking at what's in my pantry, this soup just kind of came to be. It’s pretty adaptable for any ingredients you have on hand. Just replace the turnips with another root vegetable (taters, carrots... bigger turnips), the chard with another cooking green and you could even substitute the lentils with white beans, or something of the like.


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