Friday, December 31, 2010

So this is the new year

Happy New Years Eve!

I am not very good at new years resolutions and or goals for the new year. I usually keep them pretty simple and some how I still don't fulfill them.

For example:

Two years ago I decided that I needed to drink more water. It's so simple and so important. While I did drink water (obviously) I didn't really drink anymore than usual.

Last year I decided that I wanted to go for the water idea again and to add to it I wanted to use all eco-friendly/biodegradable shampoo and shower products. Again, not so much happened. While I tried to find truly earth friendly products the search was really difficult. Organic does not mean that after it goes down the drain that it is all that good. And things like castile soap make your hair feel like hay. So I gave up.

This year I'm thinking that I should write a list of things I want to do within the next year and just see how many I can do. Ambitious I know but by giving myself more options I may actually do one or two of them and honestly thats better than any other year.

I do have a life aspirations list but some of those items are much larger than things I can accomplish in this next year but there are definitely some that I could start or try to fulfill.

Here are some of my goals-

-learn to play the guitar
-make exercise a priority for overall health
-go to a protest
-try vegetarianism
-master French macarons
- use biodegradable shower products
-drink more water
-save money
-learn to surf

I think I can do at least 2 or 3 of these if not more.

I truly do like the idea behind resolutions/goals. It kind of reminds you that you can be and do what you want. That its never too late to make a change and have the intention to change. And imagine the satisfaction of accomplishing those goals and seeing the effect it has on your life.

2010 was definitely a difficult year for me. Graduating college, looking for jobs, my grandmothers cancer diagnosis and her passing. I am ready to bring in 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Birthday Cake

My cousin Ellen's Birthday is on Christmas so her day gets a little mixed in with all the holiday chaos. So every year I make her a birthday cake so that she has at least one thing that remains a constant birthday tradition. And she loves chocolate, I mean really loves chocolate.

This year I made a variation of the cake I made for my sister's Birthday 3 weeks ago. A yellow chocolate chip cake with a mint chocolate whipped cream icing.

I used the same cake recipe from here and just added chocolate chips.

The icing however is pretty darn special. I use this recipe as my go to chocolate mousse recipe, chocolate whipped cream recipe, and for cake filling and icing. It is ridiculously easy and it tastes sinful.

No, really it does.

Chocolate icing, mousse, and whipped cream recipe:

1/4 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/2 cup heavy cream

*1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract (optional)

from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book

Beat the heavy cream and add the cocoa powder and slowly add the sugar until it forms soft peaks.

done and done.

I totally recommend making a cup of hot chocolate and topping it with this magical chocolate cloud.

Holy yum.

enough said.

Back to the District

So today is my last day at my MANNA internship in Philadelphia because....

It's official. I'm going back to Washington D.C.!!

Food and Friends (the non-profit I interned with last spring) has asked me back! I will be interning again for 6 months to a year full time! I am so excited!

I start January 10th and I am so excited to be back in the office! Food and Friends truly is my dream organization to work for.

I'm am sure many great stories will come out of it. So get ready!

And hurray for having a job!

Now to finding a place to live....

Monday, December 27, 2010

Twice as Nice

Nothing like leftovers! The second time around is twice as nice. I made a holiday sandwich with green beans and almonds for lunch.

This recipe I'm about to share is very sentimental. My fondest memories of Christmas eve as a child include these twice baked potatoes. I remember walking into my grandmothers house which was covered in green and red with the fire roaring and candles lit and the smell of these potatoes wafting in the air. It really felt magical. Every year I looked forward to these potatoes.

I will not lie to you, they are very time consuming but the benefits out weight the costs tenfold. My grandmother whom we endearingly called Gram, use to make these over the course of days so as not to be cramming at the last minute. Of course I waited until Christmas day in the afternoon to start these because I'm not nearly as organized.

I use a ricer to make my mashed potatoes, in fact it is Gram's ricer that I use. It is old and used but it means so much to me that I don't mind if it makes the task a little bit longer. I feel as though she is in the kitchen with me when I make these, helping me through all the steps.

Unfortunately, Gram never wrote down the recipe, at least not one we can find and so I have taken liberties to make one up and still call it hers. Bold I know, but I don't think she would mind.

Gram's Twice Baked Potatoes:

Baking the potatoes for an hour at 350

Then cut the potatoes in half and hollow each out carefully with a spoon

Then I use Gram's ricer to mash and make the potatoes smooth

After ricing, add milk, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper and mix

Then fill each skin back up with the mashed potatoes

Then grate cheddar cheese

Top each potato with plenty of cheese and top with a pinch of paprika
and bake for 20-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven

And it should look like this! Gooey, melty, crisp, browned and delicious.

*I don't really measure milk, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper. The reason for this is because it really depends on how many potatoes you want to have. I cooked 11 potatoes which yielded 22 twice baked potatoes. But if you need a recipe to follow find one just for mashed potatoes and then follow my directions to make them twice baked.

note: I think a ricer or a food mill does the best at making the potatoes smooth and creamy but if this task is too daunting you can just mash the potatoes and mix with a mixer/ kitchen aid.*

This blog will be somewhat of a challenge for me because I don't always measure things. This can be disastrous when baking, I know and so I want to get things as close as possible to the "right" amounts however, I tend to be a taste and go kind of girl. But honestly if you're nervous about tasting and going with mashed potatoes any recipe will do.

Take one bite and bliss will ensue!

I am off to eat the last one.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Your's, Mine and Who's?

I wanted to clear something up and or explain something to my "readers".

Yes, I love to bake. And I do consider a lot of recipes that I have to be my "own". However, this is somewhat of a fib. I do not sit down and come up with all recipes on my own from scratch. Most recipes come from different cookbooks and baking books I own. I give full credit to these books when I post the recipes.

The reason I call them my recipes is because out of all the recipes for that particular baked good I consider these recipes to be the best. The best tasting, the best to make and the most fool proof recipes(most of the time). These are the recipes I use all the time, the ones I grab when I want a really solid product.

Believe me, the day I start really experimenting and coming up with all my own recipes...everyone will know!

Merry after Christmas

The whole fam (thats me in the red striped collared top and grey cardigan)

It seems as though the holidays have gone as quickly as they came.

On Christmas eve my family went to my god mothers house for cocktails and then to my grandfathers for a low key dinner. This is a little different than our usual Christmas eve traditions because this is the first year we are celebrating without my grandmother. We all just wanted to make things a little easier and care free so that her absence wasn't overbearing.

And on Christmas we woke up and opened presents. Boy did I make out this year! I got really great gifts, including a new tart pan, pastry bags and tips, lululemon gift certificate, fossil makeup case,cirque du soleil tickets and a cute cardigan just to name a few.

Then I proceeded to make twice baked potatoes and a birthday cake for the events at night. These two tasks took all day and were well worth it in the end. We then had family and friends over for turkey, twice baked potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce dinner which was delicious and great fun. And then my boyfriend topped the night off by showing up in a red onezy.


And clearly this has all exhausted Cosmo my cat who is sleeping off the holidays.

Now I am taking the day to recuperate and play in the impending snow fall!

More recipes from the holidays to come.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Merry Christmas to all!

The past few days have flown by. A whirlwind to be exact.

There is just so much to tell but I am exhausted and so I leave you with this montage of the days events.

I know you're eager for me to explain all these wonderful things! So stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Bake Off- Part Four

The final installment... how dramatic of me.

The stress and chaos of the holidays can make you go nuts. So what better to do than make spiced nuts!

My mom makes these spiced walnuts every year. As a little girl I use to give bags of these to my teachers and bus drivers and now we make them for my mom and dads bosses and co-workers.

They are elegant, simple and tasty. They actually have a very complex flavor. They are spicy, salty, sweet and nutty. They would be great to put out at a cocktail party, in a salad, and or with dessert. These are some versatile nuts.

I don't love walnuts but I do like these and hopefully you will too.

The spices

soaked in oil and sugar


all bagged up

Spiced Walnuts:

1lb Walnuts

1/2-3/4 cup sugar

4-5 Tablespoon corn oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoons allspice

1/2 teaspoons cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

Blanch the walnuts in boiling water

Ina bowl add vanilla, and all spices and set aside

Place nuts in bowl with sugar and oil and let sit for 5 minutes

Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes

Add more sugar and salt to the top and toss. Then put in the nuts in the spice bowl and toss. Let cool on a brown paper bag and then package up to give away

or for yourself!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Bake Off- Part Three

This is the third installment of my baking extravaganza and probably the most important. This cookie I can actually call my own. I actually experimented with chocolate cookie recipes and made it my own. And it is the most popular cookie that I make. Everyone asks me to make these and give them the recipe.

These chocolate peppermint cookies are soft, chewy, full of peppermint flavor and are intensely chocolately. It's like a peppermint patty, candy cane and mint chocolate chip ice cream all rolled into one bite. Crazy I know! But I only speak the truth.

Lucky you, I am going to give out the recipe! After all I need to spread some more holiday cheer.

I give you chocolate peppermint cookies...

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon of peppermint extract

2 eggs

2/3 cup cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks

Crushed candy cane bits

Bake at 350 for 11 minutes

Smells like Christmas

crush some candy canes and top the dough

Your life will change when you eat these cookies

I promise.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holiday Bake Off- Part Two

Recipe Repeat

I made more sugar cookies. They are just too fun to decorate and this time I was able to make them super christmasy.


How pretty. Now if this doesn't scream Christmas I don't know what does.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Bake Off- Part one

As it is the most appropriate time to be baking everyday due to the holidays I figured it was my duty to take advantage of the festive spirit and bake to my hearts content. Here is part one of my baking extravaganza.

First- close your eyes and imagine Christmas.

Second- what smells come to mind?

Third- theres only one thing left to do, make gingerbread men!

I make them every year and I have tried many recipes to get the gingerbread man soft, spicy and sweet. Some recipes turn out hard as a rock and taste only of cloves and molasses, while others are so dry all you taste is flour. I have found the perfect balanced recipe, soft in the middle, a little crunch as you bite in and a perfect ratio of spice and sweet.

Gingerbread Men

3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 sticks of butter

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup molasses

-from Mrs. Field's Cookie Book

Make dough, form into 2 disks and chill for 30-60 minutes
Bake at 325 for 8-10 minutes



Confectioners sugar

Roll out the dough and cut those little men out

place them on the cookie sheet lined with parchment because parchment= the best invention ever..well in the baking world

Let cool

Decorate with little faces and little G-men jumpers- look how I cranked these babies out!

And enjoy!

This recipe yields a lot of cookies, so there are plenty to share and give away as gifts-that is if you don't want to keep them all for yourself!!
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