Thursday, May 30, 2013

My very first Guest Post - Reinventing the Classic Strawberry Shortcake

Well to say the least I was completely honored when Sara asked if I would do a guest post for her blog Seaside Swag.  Although I have had friends do guest posts here, this was my first time doing one.  When Sara asked I immediately started trying to think about which recipe I could make.  I ended up needing a little direction…I mean there are hundreds of things I could have baked…and Sara mentioned doing a strawberry shortcake.  So, while relaxing by the pool on a cloudy and cool Memorial Day, (I think I was hoping DC would finally be consistently warm.) I started to day dream about how I could put a twist on this classic spring dessert.   Then I figured it out…lemon scones would become the shortcake for this reinvented strawberry shortcake.  The lemon shines with the strawberries, hitting nice citrus notes with the sweetness of the berries this time of year.  The scones are a nice shortcake substitute because they hold up well with the weight of the whipped cream and the strawberries.  This twist on a classic is a delicious spring treat and would be great served at any dinner party.  Enjoy! 

Oh and a few pics of me acting like its warm over Memorial Day weekend.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Guest Post #13: No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread

So I kind of feel like my friend Meghan requires no introduction, but that might be because she gets mentioned in this blog fairly regularly.  This is her second stop around these parts as over a year ago she baked up a yummy strawberry balsamic tart.  When she mentioned she was doing yeast experiments and made a no-knead bread, I suggested she do another guest post.  Literally the conversation went like this...
Meghan: Did I tell you about my yeast experiments?
me: Noo what did you do?
Meghan: I made a loaf of no-knead bread in my Dutch oven and an overnight pizza dough
me: how did it go?
Meghan: Really well! The pizza dough was the smitten kitchen method. her cookbook has a quick dough and a slow dough, so smart
the bread was intimidating but it turned out perfectly
me: hmm You should make it again and do another guest post :)
Meghan: haha I can do that
So, this is Meghan's post. As a fellow food lover and home "chef," I know this bread really will turn out perfect.  I might just have to get my yeast out for the long weekend and do a little yeast experimenting myself!
From Meghan:
My college roommate Emily makes bread and jams and all sorts of goodies for farmer's markets around Chicago. She loves her food to be hands-on, and I do too. I make my own granola, keep scraps of vegetables in my freezer to make soup stock, and almost always have a pot of dried beans soaking. But I had never tried to make bread at home. It seemed like a special and time-consuming skill.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

I feel like recently I am trying to figure things out again, and by things I mean life.  I think this might just be because its summer and for some reason this time of year I always tend to do this.  I might have to blame this on summer vacations growing up, when it was really the time to be most creative, to really enjoy every second of every day, and to let your mind wander or sit by the pool and dream about what you wanted to do when you grew up.  Or maybe its just because I have been reading The Great Gatsby...

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
My horoscope last week said that I need to be chasing my dreams...I say how about a more definite step towards them?  It basically said now is the time, and ended with "How can you spread the word about what's most important to you?"  I think that's what I am doing right here...Right?  Spreading the word about my love for butter and sugar, of mixing them together to create something delicious (well hopefully delicious) to share and spread the love.  However, it is hard sometimes...I start to day dream about opening a bakery, then think about the money, and the competition, and how there are so many others out there dreaming of the same thing.  BUT I know that I can't let this keep me down, so in the mean time I will just keep practicing and dreaming...and really trying to narrow down exactly what I want, so that when it is the time I can leap.

So about this bread...I have been wanting to make it for at least a month.  Literally I had a page open on my IPhone with a link to this recipe for forever.  They totally suckered me in when they said it was like Amish friendship bread, but with out all the waiting or in my case finding someone who had the starter.  It reminds me a lot of my mom's sock-it-to-me cake, but in bread form.  It is sweet, moist, cinnamony and delicious.  Next time I will be adding pecans, but I wasn't sure how my brunch friends would feel about the addition of nuts, so I left them out.  I made one big loaf to serve during brunch after a 10K this past Saturday and a couple small ones to send home with people.  This recipe is definitely a keeper!  Enjoy!
Just a little inspiration during the run to keep going since I have been terrible about training this spring.

And the bread:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Brownies? Blondies? Cookies?....Let's call them Bloonies

Okay I need to admit something....I am totally already wishing for the weekend.  I know, I know, its only Thursday, but the craziness around here is getting to me and I am screaming for a day to do nothing.  A day where I get to act like its a lazy summer day.  I mean half the time, weather wise, it feels like summer around here; then again the next day might feel like winter so who knows.  I am SO ready for the summer though...for lazy evenings, afternoon bike rides, laying by the pool, for Jazz in the Sculpture Garden, and Monday movie nights in Crystal City.  So let's all pretend for a moment that its summer...what do you wish you were doing on this bright summer day?
So...down to these were really supposed to be brownies.  Like I semi-sort of-kind of followed a recipe for fudgey brownies and ended up with these...which were delicious but can't really be called a brownie.  They really are a mix between a brownie, a blondie and a cookie.  They are chewy like a brownies, have chocolate in the batter like a brownie and are loaded with chocolate chips like a good chocolate chip cookies should be.  So, if you are up for trying something new, give these a whirl.  And if you want to take them over the top warm one up about 20 seconds and then top with vanilla bean ice cream.  Okay, I know I don't have a picture of the final product here, but I got a little distracted and forgot to take one...I will totally be remaking them a capturing such a shot.  Enjoy!
P.S. still checking out bakeries in Greensboro to find the perfect cake for the wedding.   This is how my mom and I do a little pre-tasting.  Buy two cupcakes, split down the middle and share...mind just fell into one another...I would like to call it a cupcake hug.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

One week, two peanut butter-chocolate cakes.  Okay, okay they weren't actually made in the same week, but I am backed up on posting so its double peanut butter, double devil's food this week.  For the second go round, I made a two-layer cake instead of cupcakes and it has a chocolate chip cookie layer in the middle.  An idea I totally stole from a restaurant I ate at in Dallas in early April.  The cookie added great texture and flavor, although the peanut butter kind of took away from having full cookie flavor.  Next time I am going to try this in a more basic cake.  I went the "naked" route with this cake, since I knew that it was already going to be a very rich cake and the extra peanut butter frosting might just take it over the top and not in a good way.  But none the less the birthday guy was happy, and ultimately that was all I was really hoping for.  Really when it comes to birthdays that is really always my goal.  To make a cake that is exactly what someone wants, because for one day a year in the office they get to decide what I make...which lets be real is easy for me, because then I don't have to decide what to make without any direction.  Instead, I can take what someone else wants, maybe put a spin out it, and try to make it the very best I can.  So the question then is, what is your favorite birthday dessert?
Oh and earlier this week I got to spend sometime in Southern California...take a peek...
Wish I was still there with sunrises like this...
And a view like this...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

I keep having the problem where I don't feel like I know where start here in this blog.  I guess I could start by saying Hello! Welcome!  This is my little space in the internet world that doesn't have to deal with my everyday work, but it occasionally does.  It is my spot to share my adventures and mishaps in baking.  My corner to expound on what its like to be in my 20's living in DC, working to make a living and learn about life, and then getting to work on the fun stuff, like baking, too.  I haven't been writing much lately because real life, real work stuff has been crazy, but good too.  Real life has been a in I finally moved in with the boy and we are starting to get settled.  Oh yeah and that whole planning for a wedding thing...good thing its not until June 2014.  Whew. 
But in all seriousness I am completely thankful for my life, friends, family, and work.  Lately I have been going with the idea that things will work out the way they are supposed to.  In the mean time, I will just keep plugging away, running around, and baking anytime I get the chance.  For me baking truly is an outlet.  It is that activity that completely takes my mind off of work, of the other stresses going on around me, because I know if I am not concentrating I might forget one ingredient and then my cake might fall, my cookies might turn out tasting like bricks, or the pie might just turn into a runny mess.