Saturday, September 3, 2011

why I pole dance. . . . .

When I tell people I pole dance it's usually met with a "Good for you," or  a groan of disapproval or consternation, and a few have even gone so far as to tell me if my career doesn't workout, I will always have a back up plan. Of course men's responses are quite the opposite,(I get a wink of approval) they think it's fabulous. . . . no explanation required. It really is too bad people cannot get beyond the stigma of the strip club and see the strength,  grace and flexibility pole dancing requires. Now, before you go and pass judgement, please realize I'm neither involved in anything illicit nor am I stripping, not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you.

my pole.

I started taking lessons on a whim(two years ago), but I have continued taking lessons and practicing because of the physical challenge pole offers. If anyone knows me or knew me a child; they know I was extremely cautious. Hanging upside down from the pole and performing various aerial moves has pretty much cured me of that. The pole does something for my body that running never could, like strengthen my core and my arms; I guess holding your body weight upside down  with your arms will do that. Pole dancing has beat my body up from head to toe: bruises, scratches, muscles and tendon pulls and some scars that may never heal, haha!  It's also allowed me to work on being more graceful and I have taken advantage of the ballet classes that are also offered at my pole studio. The bonus: It's  empowered me and challenged me to face my fears.

I have yet to master this move.

Aside from all that, I have met some some amazing women. My instructor is one of them.  Her strength and stamina is so inspirational to me. Pole dancers come from all walks of life and many have been strippers in past lives, yes, but just as many have professional careers and graduate degrees. I couldn't have asked to be part of a better community of women and this is why I have a love for the sport of pole and, yes it is a sport. . . .and if you're thinking then why do they wear so few clothes? Every point on a pole dancer's body is a point of skin contact, hence a place to hold onto the pole. Sweat pants could potentially cause a nasty spill on the head.
My lovely instuctor, Michula Nunez; I hope she doesn't mind.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Chain restaurants blow and here's why. . . . .

You may be able to tell from my  understated title that this just might be a rant, haha, well maybe, but it's also complimentary to a fabulous little mom and pop Italian joint we tried tonight that just refueled the fire on my position.
I won't deny that I am a food snob and I have eaten at my fair share of chain restaurants but I'm just really beginning to tire of the mediocre food and substandard service at the big box chains. The last time we went to a burger restaurant, the name to remain anonymous (hint, hint, their mascot wears a big red bird suit) we didn't get out at under $50 and the food was meh, yeah, just kind of blah. In this economy restauraunts really should start looking at how to serve local ingredients from sustained farming and maybe even step up their service. . . . after all that's often why clientele return to their favorite chain restaurant. With that said I have decided if we're going to eat decadently, it had better be damn good.

 With that in mind, we decided to go to a little local joint in Corona called NYPD-New York Pizza Dept. It had gotten rave reviews on yelp and the owner was a East coast transplant whose claim to fame is real NY style pizza, which I didn't try this time, and of course gives us reason to return. The only Italian we have in town is the generic chain and we've been looking for good Italian that doesn't require us to drive to L.A. or the O.C. The little restaurant is in an unassuming strip mall and looked to be nothing special on the outside and the inside was not very impressive either, just looked like a little urban cafe.
However, the food was made to order and we had to wait a little while but while we waited we ate these fabulous garlic knots topped with fresh chopped garlic, o...m.....g....

I ordered the creamy fettucine alfredo with tomatoes, broccoli, and pine nuts and Mike had the stromboli and the portions were so huge we could only mow through about half of our dinners, especially after we scarfed all those garlic knots. I rarely order alfredo, because hardly anyone (myself included) gets it right, either the sauce is too thin or it's lumpy, but this sauce was so smooth and velvety, the pasta just melted in my mouth. Besides, the amazingly good(and fattening) comfort food, the owner was sitting at one of the tables with some locals drinking a little vino and talking sports and a little smack. He was loud, but funny as hell and. . . . . we felt right at home.
 When we left we told him how much we enjoyed the food and that we would be back and he told us how much he appreciated that.
So if you're  ever in the area. . . . or just driving through it's definitely worth the detour.

Until next time Ciao Bella, muah!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I shall dream in chocolate tonight. . .

So I have been the negligent blogger because I mostly blog about baking and it's been in the triple digits here in Socal., so needless to say there's no baking going on in my kitchen, but there are other things happening, which I'm happy to report on.
Sometimes, I forget that it's my blog and I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want to. . . .but in all seriousness I need to get out of this singular mindset and make my blog more multi-dimensional. I really enjoy baking, but I like to read and take pictures too, (now that I have a snazzy new SLR) among other things.
As of late(ever since I read A Moveable Feast) I've been on this Expat kick, wishing I could just pick up and move to France for a year and immerse myself in the culture of alfresco cafes, lovely chocolats,  absinth and kir at night and the Louvre and the Musee d' Orsay somewheres in between. But alas it's not meant to be, but a girl can dream, can't she? Anyways, speaking of Expats I am now reading The Sweet Life in Paris , by David Leibowitz, a famous pastry chef come author who discusses what he learned from living as an American in Paris. Although he seems frustrated with the French in regards to certain cultural habits, he does an eloquent job of conveying the beauty of their love for food, particularly desserts and chocolate and the great chocolate to be had well only in France.
Anyone who knows me, knows I have such a sweet tooth and chocolate like coffee is the bane of my existence, so I decided life is too short to waste my hard earned dollar on cheap chocolate, so I am now on a mission to find not just a superior quality chocolate, but one that's the most pleasing to my own palate. So I ordered chocolate from several chocolate producers, four to be specific( because the experts say not to sample more than five at one time because it will overwhelm the palate.) I bought some Pellegrino to cleanse the palate in between tastings. Out of the four makers, two were my favorites for different reasons: The Amadei, Porcelana is made from the Criollo cacao and more rare than the other beans which I found to be more smooth, silky and delicate in flavor, although 70% cacao no bitterness to be found. The other, the Domori, Il Gianduja was creamy, milky almost genache-like and might I say addicting. I will be doing this again until I find my favourite and will post my findings until then. . . bientot!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pop goes the tart

I feel so bad that I've neglected to post any baking projects. . . . but alas there have not been many, for three reasons: A). I eat them all, which counteracts me trying to look svelte in  my bikini for Vegas and summer Barbeques and B). Summer School and C). I've been using my iphone to snap my food pics. and it's just not suitable for still life pics. I'm hoping to have a groovy SLR in a few weeks, then I'll be a photographing--baking fool;)

Nevertheless,   I bought a huge jar of nutella, not because I like to eat it by the spoonful, the way I eat creamy peanut butter, (absolutely no self-control), but because I found this awesome pop tart recipe that looked so fabulous, I just had to give it a whirl.
I got the recipe from here: And the only thing I altered was the baking time.

Homemade Nutella Pop-Tarts
For the dough:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons cold milk
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, and salt for 10 to 15 seconds. Scatter the butter over the top. Mix on low speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or just until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it. Lumps of butter the size of pecans should be visible throughout the dough.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk until blended. Add to the flour mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds or until the dough just barely comes together. It will be a shaggy mess.
Dump the dough onto an unfloured surface and gather it into a tight mound. Using your palm and starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top and sliding your palm down the side and along the work surface. Do this once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the mound until the whole mess has been smeared into a cohesive dough with streaks of butter throughout.
Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down into a disc about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. The dough will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge or 1 month in the freezer.
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
For the Glaze:
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons water
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
To assemble the Pop-tarts:
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it in half. On a lightly floured surface roll the first half of the dough into a 28×11 inch rectangle. Using a paring knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into eight 3 1/2 x 5 1/2 inch rectangles (about the size of an index card). Brush four of the rectangles with the egg.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling on top of each of the 4 egg washed dough rectangles. Top with the remaining 4 rectangles of dough. Use a fork to lightly press the edges together and seal them together. Place each Pop-tart on a parchment lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
Repeat the same process with the remaining half of the dough.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops of the pastries are golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.
Brush the tops with the glaze. Add sprinkles if you want to feel happyl. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the glaze to set before serving.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Makes 8 pop-tarts.

With the leftover dough I made Nutella pinwheels(4 of which I devoured after I glazed them); my grandma used to make these w/butter, cinnamon, and sugar.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Yes, I am a cupcake snob.

It's been almost a month since my last posts; as always life got in the way and things are winding down again, only to pick back up when summer school starts in a few days. Yes, I'm working summer school.  What was I thinking?! Doh!

Okay, but to the reason I'm posting today, I think I may very well be a cupcake snob and here's why.  I'm not proud to admit this, but  I've tried a variety of cupcake establishments starting with Magnolias,(which made cupcakes popular in New York) and Sprinkles-the chain that make cupcakes popular in Socal., Casey's-our local joint, Sweet Lady Janes-cupcakes is not neccessarily their specialty, and my all time fave-Crumbs-in L.A.( a must try-and they ship nationwide) and a few other places in the L.A. environs.

But, a new place just opened very conveniently located (just down the street) and had they been good, it would have been very bad for my waistline.  But, sadly they weren't. Now,  where do I begin? They did little advertising before they opened? I didn't know they were even open, Hello, Internet!!  They serve their cupcakes in plastic clamshells, GASP! They don't wear cute little outfits or uniforms, or are not unform in any way, period. Their cupcakes tasted like a box mix and the only two offerings of cake were choc. and yellow and the icing was, well, for a lack of a better term, runny. I really wanted to like them, but they pretty much missed the mark. Cupcakes are not a neccessity, they are a luxury bakery item( selling at $3-$4 a pop) and should be treated as such.

 My cupcake criterion: I want my cupcakes to taste delicious: for my foodie palate, be aesthetically pleasing: presentation, and packaged cute: again presentation. I want my cupcake servers to be professional, dressed uniformly, even if it's in a skirt with knee-highs and pink aprons: atmosphere,(See Casey's) and the whole experience to be, in a word:  heavenly=)  Am I asking too much?!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


So, since I've been depriving myself of all things unhealthy and fat-laden; I wanted to make something sinfully delicious and decadent. I found the recipe to this delicious dessert here: hungry mouse  and I didn't change a thing. And Oh, Em, gee these were sooo oooey gooey good, they put me into a food coma.This will be my go to dessert for Barbeques from this day forward.

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Roast Beast

Dear Blog,

So sorry I've neglected you so badly the last two months; I will try to be more attentive in the upcoming summer months, now that I'm not so overwhelmed with piles of papers screaming to be graded.

With that said, besides the grading I've spent the last couple weeks along with my husband doing some serious introspection about our eating habits and we both came to the conclusion that we spend far too much money and time on dining out. So, I decided if we are going to cook in much more often than I needed to be both health concious and creative with meal preparation. I finally bought a meat weight iron that I can used to make paninis, which  is my latest favourite thing to make. Thus far I've used chicken and ham and cheese and want to experiment w/Roast beef. 

Part of trying to be more healthy at this point is avoiding processed food whenever possible and lunchmeat at the deli counter is processed and therefore, contains harmful chemicals. Between Michael Pollan, Jillian Michaels and Oxygen magazine I'm trying to stay informed (even if I don't always make the right choices) and eat cleaner. So today I bought a roast (top round) and I'm following this recipe from Hungry Mouse: and now I'm waiting for it to cool and for hubby to get back from store with an electric carver, so I can slice it deli thin, fingers crossed it works.

Well the meat thermometer I bought didn't work and the roast was too rare, so after slicing we stuck it back in the oven for another 40 min. It will probably be tougher than anticipated, but we will make use of it anyway and now I know to buy a smaller roast(maybe an eye of round next time) and a functioning meat thermometer.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Embracing Breakfast

I am trying to open up my reportoire of cooking to include breakfast foods, as foreign as they are to me, it only makes sense as an early riser that I would actually embrace breakfast foods in all their glory. But I digress, as a child (ask my parents) I pratically refused to eat breakfast foods, (except for toast,  hashbrowns and the occasional biscuit and gravy); however if we were dining out I almost assuredly would order a cheeseburger or maybe even spahgetti, gasp! My dad used to comment "That's Un-American." He would grumble and I would happily eat dinner for breakfast.
Well my tastebuds have actually matured and I won't go as far as to say breakfast is my favourite meal, but I have embraced pretty much all things breakfast, even eggs if they're smothered with cheese, bacon, etc. I like belgian waffles particularly with berries and nuts, omelettes, and pretty much everything breakfasty. So with that said french toast has never been one of the things I even enjoy as a breakfast convert, so I set out to find a recipe that would enable me to enjoy it.
Pain Perdu:  french for lost bread, meaning it would have been thrown out if not for the ultimate save of the french toasting. I got the recipe from one of my favourite sites Allrecipes, and made a few tweaks to make it my own:

Pain Perdu


  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 12 thick slices day old french bread, brioche, or challah


  1. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, milk, brandy and orange zest. Beat until thick and foamy. Pour mixture into a shallow pan. Soak bread slices in the mixture for 2-3 minutes on each side until they are thoroughly soaked through.
  2. Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium heat. Lightly spray griddle with cooking spray. Cook the bread slices 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve hot.
I put butter and sifted powdered sugar over the top, syrup might take away from the orangy goodness. The happy french toasting conversion has commenced.

Que' Magnifique!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In Honor of all things Irish. . .

So aside from making corned beef and cabbage to honor and celebrate good ol St. Patrick, I'm going to make an honest attempt to read Joyce again, that is James Joyce. A few years a go I bought Ullyses, along with the Bloom's day guide(which everyone says you need to understand the esoteric language and inside allusions)  but alas. . . .it wasn't meant to be.  I just couldn't get past the first two pages without reading it over and over again, with no comprehension whatsoever. Last summer I decided to finally read Angela's Ashes and thoroughly enjoyed the way McCourt opened up about a childhood of  hardships and utter destitude in Ireland in the early twentieth century. With that mindset, I tried  again to read Ulysses, only to fail yet again.
So,  apparently I'm  a Joyce wimp;  I am going to start with Joyce's  Dubliners, a book of interconnected short stories and then hopefully move onto Portrait of an Artist and then maybe this summer take another stab at the ever elusive Ullyses. I can do this! Do I  sound convincing?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

out with the old. . . .

So I changed my blog title; it was all new to me at first and I was just learning how it all works. My old title was too limiting and not at all, all encompassing of my many loves, I mean  baking is just one of many things I love, so in case anyone cares, here's my little spiel, not at all intended to persuade anyone well except maybe, myself.

These five firsts, all seemingly so unrelated yet are all things I so dearly love and rather not breathe as to live without them. They are all the one thing each that started my love of all things related, well except the man, (there's only one,) but it's interesting how very much they are intrinsically so carefully woven together by those I love.
My husband, well self-explanatory, he enables and supports me. . . . why I don't know.
The kitchen aid was one little or big appliance that inspired me to bake(a gift from my mum) and well the rest is history and I have no formal training, but it's a hobby that yields just rewards.
And the one dog, a tiny Pomeranian, who taught me the significance of all living creatures, great and small. She loves me unconditionally and in turn I've devoted myself to help and rescue those in need. She, along with the five more we've since taken in has opened my eyes to a whole new world of animal rights and advocacy for those who have no voice to speak for themselves.
I cannot express how much I love running which extends to pretty much any solitary exercise activity. When I was younger I enjoyed the physical changes in my body that was the result of hard training, but as I age I'm enjoying the beauty of my strength, whether it be through pole dancing or cardio endurance.
The literature class, just the one was not only the beginning of my career as an English teacher and the beginning and end of two English degrees but my love of language and how it enables us so many endless possibilities to communicate on various levels.
These are just a few, (well five) of my most favorite things, makes me feel like breaking out in song.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Hamlet in Rewrite

Since I have little time to bake as grades are due on Thursday and I'm bleary eyed from essays I thought I'd string together a chronology of today's essays greatest hits to create a revisionist writing of Hamlet from various students' perspectives (like a students' Picasso of Hamet, if you will), not mocking, okay just a little, but I have to I was forced to read so much drivel that only more wine or purging out of my own soul, to expel it all, so that I may start anew tomorrow will cure me.

I'll try to keep it semi-chronological, so you may follow:
So this may be less revisionist, because even Hamlet continually shortens the span between his father's death and his mother's hasty remarriage to his uncle Claudius, but what we don't know is that Cladius actually married Gertude the same day as Hamlet Sr.'s death. And he actually had a sibling, (name unclear) but this sibling was not on the same course as Hamlet and apparently less indecisive. The aforemntioned issues with dad's death and mom's quick remarriage led to Hamlet's diagnosis of manic bipolar disorder.
Later we find out that he wasn't mentally sick; Hamlet was just using his fake madness as an escape goat from reality. Hamlet packed all his troubles into a knapsack, jumped on his goat and traversed to a place far, far away.
        Of course, he realized he had to face his problems eventually and returned to find his friend Horatio, Bernardo, and Marcellus in the closet. Because he's such a great orator and friend to Horatio,  he was able to coax them out and there they remained.
     Much later. . . .we  arrive to a scene on a stage strewn with dead bodies and we find out it is there that Hamlet has murdered Claudius and he's ready to take his own life;  he gives his famous "To be or not to be" speech, contemplating suicide as the poison simultaneously pulses through his veins.  Horatio, since he's now "out" wants to follow Hamlet to his death, but Hamlet doesn't allow it; he must live to retell Hamlet's story, again and again.
      And who, but the dead Laertes returns from the grave to take over as the new King of Denmark, promising to give Hamlet an honorable burial.

And that concludes today's greatest hits and I am purg'ed.

Monday, February 28, 2011

great dates

I bought some dates this weekend at the Farmer's market and have never really baked w/dates but wanted to incorporate them into a breakfast food. As of late, I've been in a baking rut, using the same tired recipes, so I wanted something unique and chocolate-less. The recipe I used was found (Walnut Date muffins)  on Regina Rae's blog to which I made no changes except I made a struesel topping, since I figured w/little sugar the recipe may lack for sweetness.
For me dates have a special meaning  because as a child and young adult at about this time every year my family would make the annual and quite lengthy trek to the Indio Date Festival. A place that was once responsible for much of the nations date crops also became home to a festival honoring and even blessing the date as part of opening ceremonies. Because of the arid climate and a little engenuity on the part of farmers, dates flourished. And even though Indio was once responsible for a larger part of the nations date crop, they've since otherwise been overcome by  large companies like Sunsweet.
The festival features various foods made with dates including and not limited to date cookies and date shakes. The festival boasts and Arabian theme and still features Arabian themed plays like tales of 1001 Arabian nights. As children our favorites were the play and the camel and ostrich races.
The dates and this little recipe took me back to those cherished days gone by spent w/family and food.

Walnut Date Muffins
Ingredients:3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (preferably dark)
heaping 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
scant 1/2 teaspoon all spice
scant 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
scant 1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (or other alternative or milk)
1/3 cup molasses*
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 free-range eggs
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped, pitted dates
few pinches of extra all purpose flour

Streusel Topping:
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. soft butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped nuts
*Cool trick for the molasses: to avoid having the molasses stick to the measuring cup, simply grease the inside of the cup with a thin layer of vegetable oil.  Then, measure desired amount of molasses into the cup.  When you pour the molasses into other liquids it will slide right out and leave little-to-no residue in the bottom of the cup.

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease preferred muffin tin.  Because I was making these muffins for dinner (as a side dish, rather than a breakfast-style main dish) I made 16 small muffins.  Alternatively, grease two 6-muffin containers, or one mongo-muffin container and vary the cooking time.
2.  Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a fork to combine.
3.  In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg.  Add soy milk and vegetable oil.  Grease the 1/3 cup with vegetable oil (see above note) and measure molasses.  Whisk with a fork and incorporate into dry ingredients.  Fold in walnuts.  Before folding in chopped dates, because they’re gooey when cut and prone to sticking together, I tumbled the chopped dates in a sprinkling of white flour and then folded them into the batter.  That way the were able to move uniformly throughout the dough and not clump together. Roll dates in flour and fold into batter.
4.  Spoon batter into muffin trays 3/4 full.  If you desire more of a muffin-top (as I did), fill 4/5ths of the way but be sure to grease the top of the pan, too, because the muffins will rise over the top.
5. Mix together struesel ingredients and sprinkle evenly over the top of each muffin.
6.  Depending on the muffin size, the baking time will vary.  For small muffins, mine were set in the middle and clean (from the “knife test”) within 18-20 minutes.  For large muffins, I imagine they’ll need to bake close to 30 minutes.
7.  Once removed from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack so they set.  To remove muffins, carefully take a dull knife and run around the edge of each container (and very carefully under the muffin top, if you filled them a bit higher) and gently pry out.

My husband thought the muffins were not sweet enough, but I found them to be just right w/ that mild sweetness of the dates and the sugary crunch on top.  I think they would probably be amazing w/a little  tangy orange marmalade. Until next time, Au Revoir!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Enveloped in cheesy comfort

So I haven’t baked for a couple weeks, because I’m trying to shed some of my winter weight. Come to think of it I’ve not been cooking much either, so I decided to treat Mikey to a comfort meal.  And although the sun was out here in Socal. today, it’s still been winter in the evenings, hence perfect weather for comforting.
I got the recipe for the Mac n’ cheese  from Allrecipes  and tweaked it to my liking. I really don't like my mac n' cheese creamy (tramatized from Kraft mac n' cheese from childhood-sorry mom.)  I guess I'm a mac n' cheese snob of sorts. So if you like the artificial boxed stuff, this is not the recipe for you.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese


  •  12 ounces of macaroni
  • 1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, sliced*
  • 1 tablespoon butter melted
  • one clove of garlic pressed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (190 degrees C). Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. Grease a 2 quart casserole dish. Place a quarter of the macaroni in the bottom, followed by an even layer of one-quarter of the cheese slices. Dot with garlic and  butter mix and season with salt and pepper. Repeat layering three times. Pour evaporated milk evenly over the top of all.
  3. Cover with baking sprayed aluminum foil  and bake for 45 minutes* and then uncover for additional 15 minutes or until top is golden brown.
* I like to use various types of cheese.  I have tried grating it also, but I prefer the sliced method as it seems to bond better.Today I used half jalapeno jack and half extra sharp cheddar.
Also, I stir the macaroni at 30 min. and 45 min. to blend everything well as the milk has the tendency to sink and sit at the bottom.

To contrast the heaviness of this oh so heavenly comfort food I made a nice Italian salad. I got that recipe from Once Upon a Chef blog.

*I couldn't find fresh parsley at my local grocer and I was too lazy to go to Trader Joe's , so I had to use dried and it worked out fine. Also, I used feta instead of ricotta slata and it was fine.

The homemade dressing was divine and pretty darn easy to make w/the food processor. I just may make this my go to salad for italian meals.

Until later, Ciao'!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Non-traditional V-day

So lets face it ladies V-day is a girl's holiday and there really is not much in it for the guys and I already spotted the bag of Godiva in our fridge, yes. . . .that makes me giddy, bc I'm such a girl. I like chocolate, flowers, and champagne.
When I asked hubby what he wanted I got the same answer I always get. . . . . .oh, nothing.  So I'm not cooking, bc well it's Vday, but I am of course baking and torturing myself with what I least like to bake, but the DH loves the most and that's carrot cake. I know it's not very valentiney like chocolate covered strawberries or chocolate cupcakes, but it's his favourite and we all should get our favourite things on this day of love, February 14, 2011.

Here's the recipe I got from Allrecipes w/the alterations I made:

4 cups grated carrots

2 cups + 4 T cake flour

2 cups white sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 eggs

1 cups vegetable oil

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice

3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts


1 (250 g) package Cream Cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 cups confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Last time I made this it made a 1/4 sheet plus a small round cake, so I put the excess in a heart pan. I'm also going to double the icing, so I can split the 1/4 sheet and fill it. The original recipe calls for 1 1/2 c oil, which is way too much, so I cut it down and you can even sub. applesauce, which I did for 1/2 the oil last time and it worked out fine.

Monday, February 7, 2011

It's not LA Fitness, but it's sure convenient. . . .

So one of the many reasons, I've not been baking (besides grading horrendous stacks of papers) is this garage/gym project, which we've been working on for the past month or so. We moved a crap load of stuff/junk from our garage to this little shed and in the process threw junk away that I didn't even know we had.

The reason: To begin with was for Mike to have a little workout area, which of course turned into (our) little workout area. Today, we finally received the elliptical machine which took several hours to assemble and I can't wait to jump on in the morning, instead of making my early trek to LA Fitness.

We moved our TV to the garage along w/cable hook up, so we are now wired and ready to "Just Do it"! LOL  It's been almost cathartic to rid ourselves of so much junk and start with a clean slate for the new year.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tastes like home

It's amazing how just a subtle wafting through the air of just one particular food can transport me back to my childhood. The smell of apple pie, that buttery crust, those tart apples are one of many olfactory stimulis that reminds me of simpler times. My mom was a great apple pie baker and my grandma also baked pies, but what I remember the most was how she would cut off the excess crust, spread the little remnants with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and roll them into pinwheels for us. Sometimes she would even let us put them in our little oven, which made them extra special. After a busy weekend of grading and readying garage for gym equipment I needed some comforting.

My mom's recipe:
1 c. flour
1/2 c. shortening
5 T water
Cut with pastry cutter until dough forms. Roll dough out
onto floured surface until big enough to cover pie pan. Crimp edges and
prick inside pie w/ fork. sprinkle bottom w/1T flour and some cinnamon.

5-6 granny smith apples peeled and  sliced.

Place sliced apples in crust and press down to even w/hands.

streusel topping:

3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. margarine
Cut w/ pastry cutter until crumbly(I admit I usually eventually
use my hands.) Pour struesel over apples and press down gently.

Bake at 400 for 35-40 min or until golden brown.

I paired my slice with some Dreyers vanilla bean ice cream(and bold coffee)  and it added just the right amount of sweet to those tart granny smiths.
Bon Appetit!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lalalala. . . .LEMON!

Although, it's been a busy weekend, four hours of grading: check, three dogs to groomer: check, 90 gallon fishtank emptied and refilled by my DH: check, and  storage shed purchased and under construction as I type: . . . . . check,  I decided to check my citrus trees and I hit the jackpot. Not only did I have ripe lemons and oranges, but I had a bounty and my lemons are ginormous. Ripe lemons on the tree=lemon bars for the win!

I got the recipe from the Food Network's Ina Garten, and tweaked to my liking:


For the crust:

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup flour
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, (mine took 29 minutes, but I think it's hotter than the temp. sometimes)until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.

shortbread crust:

 Lemon bars are naturally not very yellow unless you add yellow food coloring to the filling.
 When you take them out of the oven the filling will jiggle a little; if you wait until the filling sets it will be too rubbery  upon cooling. Don't worry the filling will set in a couple hours. We like our lemon bars to make your mouth pucker, so I cut back on the sugar and they were indeed tart and tasty.  Until next time, adieu.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

From bliss. . . . . to this.

So, I have come to the conclusion if I wait until I bake again to blog, it may be a while. I'm trying to keep myself from hyperventilating as we speak because my husband in his infinite wisdom has decided to upgrade fishtanks and anyone who has ever worked with fishtanks knows what that means (puddles of water everywhere) and if you know my husband (Mike) you would know that not only his office which always look like a tornado hit it and missed every other room in the process, but now every other room in the house is suffering the after-effects. The fish tank was delivered yesterday and this is day two. I tried to tell him this is wreaking havoc on my OCD, so he took some boxes downstairs, but it will be several days before everything is back to semi-normal.
Just frazzled.
Two weeks ago I was basking in the bliss of winter break and because of the  non-stop rain, I enjoyed cuddling up with the dogs with a cup of hot cocoa. Now, I'm two weeks back to work, with a heap of grading beckoning to me, and not only is the house turned upside down, but I start some on the job admin training this week, which means working through my preps. to get some job experience under my belt before seriously deciding to apply for an open position. I'm a little freaked out about leaving the known stress of (classroom chaos and grading) to a new adventure in administration.  Mike says I thrive on being over-productive and he knows me better than he thinks, but I'd like to go back to those quieter moments on occasion., I I could please.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cake Decorating Amnesia


So, I lied, but it was a white lie, because I was trained as a cake decorator for Ralphs and Vons respectively, but that was many moons ago and I don't really consider it formal training because the cakes came to us  premade along  with most of their baked goods. Anyways, this was my first attempt in  a long while to reintegrate into cake decorating (my daughter asked  me to make my grandson a cake and I couldn't refuse him)  and I don't know that I can say it's just like riding a bike, because I have forgotten a lot, for starters, I'm lacking the proper tools. I own a cake turntable and a few assorted icing tips, but if I'm going to continue doing cakes I will need to purchase some more tools of the trade, like a cake  comb and  cake cutter.
 In addition, this was my first time working with fondant and I must say my daughter did most of the work (she's an ace of Cakes junkie), who says you can't get an educated from the boob tube. Anyways, it was easier to work with than I thought. I bought a fondant roller, but I could have used a fondant mat and paint brush to smooth the fondant, but parchment and our fingers sufficed this time. 
The cake icing is chocolate buttercream and we used chocolate fudge for the piping. The bed is made from rice crispy treats covered with pre-colored fondant. w/e also used the fondant to make the stars(hand-cut) and the ball, blocks and etcha- sketch on the side of the bed (you could see the rice crispy treat, so we had to improvise. I got the cake toppers from Ebay as a set. I got the original idea form here:
For the alien cupcakes I got neon green food coloring, mentos for the eyes, black gel for the pupils and mouth, green sour twists for the antenae, and sour rips and a fondant leaf cutter for the ears and I got the original idea from here

 I will post the recipes and my comments for the cake and icings at  a later time.
In addition to the cake we made some alien cupcakes since there will be approximately 30 guests at my grandson's Birthday partry and a quarter sheet will only feed 15-20.

Monday, January 3, 2011

back to the drawing board

Gah, the cake is too dry, so I'm going to try the Birthday cake recipe on SmittenKitten. It wasn't a complete fail, though as the buttercream icing with melted bittersweet chocolate instead of cocoa powder was pretty darn amazing if I do say so myself. Here's the recipe, which I got from William's Sonoma:


  • 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 6 Tbs. milk, plus more, if needed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

Put the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler set over but not touching simmering water in the bottom pan. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, the 6 Tbs. milk, the vanilla and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, then reduce the speed to low. Add the chocolate and beat until combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute more.

If the frosting is dry, add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time, until it is creamy but still holds peaks. Makes about 4 1/2 cups.
I only used about 51/2 cups of powdered sugar and it was enough to fill, ice and border a 9" two layer cake.

Trial run

So I have scoured the web looking for the perfect yellow cake from scratch (which I will post if the cake meets my approval) for my grandson's birthday. So I found one and did a trial run today and the cake looks delicious. My usual go to blogs like Cakerella and Smitten Kitten called for ingredients I didn't have on hand and I wanted to do a trial run before baking his cake on Saturday. If this cake is not moist enough I will go to the experts and try a  cake with buttermilk or try a sugar spray, but I was being lazy and going for simple and this one fit the bill.