April 29, 2011

Easter Bread: Photo Friday

Easter Bread

My mom sent home with me this small bread loaf at Easter. The past years, she made a larger bread and placed the colored eggs atop of the bread for our Easter dinners.

She is where I get my love for cooking and baking from. I often tell her that I wish I can cook as well as she does. And my love for entertaining? I got that from my dad. I can talk to just about everyone, and I got that from him, no doubt about it.

Thanks Mom and Dad.

April 22, 2011

Happy Easter! - Photo Friday

Happy Easter

I'm in the dining room, making up a grocery list...

"I've got to go buy some eggs for Easter." I mention to the hubby looking at grocery flyers.

"I got it. The farmer friend is coming in with fresh eggs" says the hubby.

"Great! I'll take it off my list."

Hubby comes home with 3 cartons of fresh eggs. I open the box....

Brown Eggs

"Oh, the came pre-colored did they? I guess we can tell the kids we don't need to color eggs this year!"

Brown eggs.

Lesson: Don't send a man to get the job done. At least my man.

Happy Easter!

April 20, 2011

Peanut Butter & Onion Soup

Peanut Butter & Onion Soup

I hear ya. What? Peanut Butter and ONIONS? Together? As a soup?

I'm not off my rocker. Though I had the same response when my hubby served it to me. "The kids LOVED it!" he said. I was a bit apprehensive.

My hubby hits the kitchen at times to try out various "different" recipes. Recipes that would not necessarily jump out at me from the "must try me!" category. Some are a major miss, some are in the meh category and others are a great surprise.

Peanut Soup

And I will tell you, go forth and try it. It's really good. Creamy, peanut-y flavored with a slight sweetness. The salty bacon garnish actually complements it. Yeah, I know, strange but it all works! It's like a Top Chef challenge and we won the quickfire!

Though, I have to tell you my hubby adapts EVERYTHING and isn't the greatest at using measuring spoons & cups. So, these are the measurements below, as best to accurate as I can pin him down on.


Peanut Butter & Onion Soup
makes 4-6 servings

4 rashers of bacon

1 medium sized onion,
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup of peanut butter
1.5 cups milk
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar (adjust to preferred taste)
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 tsp white pepper

dollop of sour cream as garnish, optional

Fry your bacon in a pot over medium heat. When cooked, remove the bacon, leaving the bacon fat and add the onions. Saute onions until soft and starting to brown. Add the broth, peanut butter, milk, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.

Reduce to simmer, and cook for about 15- 20 mintues more. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly so to puree with a handheld stick blender. Reheat if needed.

Garnish with sour cream and bacon that has been minced. Serve warm.

Recipe inspired from: Boiled Peanut Soup

April 18, 2011

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

I have been pretty busy lately working but I have been enjoying it every step of the way. I am very fortunate to be doing the photography for a step-by-step book on wedding and special occasion cakes. The author has some amazing cakes and I myself have been learning a thing or two about decorating as I've been photographing! Perks of the job and right up my alley: cakes, decorating, food photography - loving it all! It is a fabulous experience thus far and I can't wait until I can tell you more about it.

Due to the busy schedule the last while, I haven't been doing a lot of cooking and baking either. I've been sending my kids to school with store-bought snacks for their lunches, which has been making me a bit sad, so when I came home one night and saw those ripe, browned bananas on the counter, I knew it was time to make me some banana bread.

I have been using this recipe often the last several months. A slice alongside your breakfast yogurt or as a snack in the kids lunch box, is exactly what this momma ordered.


Banana Bread
makes 1 loaf

1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 medium ripe bananas mashed, about 1 cup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and scrape down the sides often to mix it all well. Add the mashed banana and vanilla.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips together. Add to the banana mixture but do not over mix, only until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes, until well browned and when a toothpick comes out clean. Place on cooling rack for 10 minutes and then remove from pan to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from: Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding, Anna Olson.

April 11, 2011

Lemony Cornmeal Cake

Lemon Cornmeal Cake

With the sunshine around lately, I've been getting excited about spring and warmer weather. And recently, my palate has been wanting fresh tastes too. I've been craving lemony-flavored things. Sure, many of you probably don't think of lemons with regards to spring but the color brightens my mood. A big bowl of lemons is like a bowl of sunshine in your home!

I am digging lemons more and more, especially when it's a sweet and sour combo together. When I have lemons kicking around the house, I am always looking for different ways to use them up.

Cornmeal Lemon Cake

I recently stumbled upon this lemon cornmeal cake recipe. I have been more interested in using cornmeal in baking. I've used cornmeal in savory baking, such as cornbread, but never in sweet baking.

This is a great coffee cake when you have guests over and it is simple to make. I was half expecting it to be a heavy cake but it really wasn't. The simple syrup can be made while the cake is cooling and it gives it that wonderful tangy and sweet combo, that I mentioned above. And, since no flour is used in this recipe, it is gluten-free. Enjoy.


Lemony Cornmeal Cake
makes one 9-inch cake

1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
juice and zest of one lemon
1-1/4 cups almond flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder

simple syrup:
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one, scraping after each addition.

Add the lemon juice and zest, almond flour, cornmeal and baking powder. Mix until all incorporated.

Pour the batter into a 9-inch springform pan, which has been greased and lined with parchment paper at the bottom. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 45 minutes or until the cake has developed a golden hue and is firm with touch.

Cool in pan for about 15 minutes. Remove from pan & place on wire rack.

To make the simple syrup, place all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the syrup to thicken slightly.

Slowly pour the simple syrup over the cake for it to absorb. Allow to cool and serve.

Recipe adapted from: Lemon Cornmeal Cake, The Big Book of Baking.

April 8, 2011

Ariel Birthday Cake: Photo Friday

Ariel Birthday Cake

My daughter wanted an Ariel birthday cake this year. I've made a Little Mermaid birthday cake before, as well as tiered fondant princess cake, a girly princess flower cake and a princess castle cake.

I've been busy lately and I was at a loss of what type of cake to make. So, when a friend offered their Ariel cake pan, I took it. Except, I didn't want the little icing florets that you usually do on such cakes.

So, I decided to bring in the resident artist, aka The Hubby.

My hubby has drawn Ariel free-hand so many times for my daughter that we made a deal, I make the cake and colored icings and he sculpts it.

I think he did a fantastic job.

My daughter is one lucky gal.

April 5, 2011

Top Chef - The finale 2 Episodes

We are down to the final 3: Antonia, Richard and Mike. Wolfgang Puck and Padma have the chefs doing a quickfire where they become conjoined twins, using only one hand or no untensils while making food with canned goods, hot dogs or cooking all in one pot. It was one of the most ridiculous things I've seen in a long time. It sort of looked it could have been auditions for the Wipeout show but with top chefs. oh my.

Antonia's curry soup and Richard's currywurst doesn't do it for the judges as Mike's pork and beans dish. I think Mike had it way too easy if you ask me.

They are given the elimination challenge of creating the judges "last supper". Masaharu Morimoto requested sashimi, pickled vegetables and perfect rice. Michelle Bernstein desire was for fried chicken and biscuits and Wolfgang Puck visioned foods that his mother made, goulash, spatzle and apple strudel.

I thought it was cruel that Mike gave Antonia, Morimoto's dish to make, because that is NOT easy, and of course, he took the easiest last supper of fried chicken. He's playing the game, that's for sure, and he wanted to go to the end with Richard.

That being said, Richard wins that challenge and is into the finale. Padma brings out a card, which has Mike and Antonia, back into the kitchen, creating one last bite for entry into the final 2.

Antonia makes a grouper in a coconut, curry sauce but it's Mike that secures the last position into the finale, with his surf and turf.

I almost cried alongside Antonia. It made me sad and I was really hoping to see a woman be in the last 2 position. Sorry, Antonia.


Final 2: Mike and Richard.

I figured Richard would have made it this far. But, I have to give kudos to MikeasI did not see him as one of the final 2 or 3. I thought he would have been cut a long time ago but he is obviously the underdog.

The eliminated chefs are brought back and told to make an amuse-bouche. For the final challenge, Mike and Richard are told they get to create the restaurant of their dreams. However, they have to pick their sous chefs, through a blind tasting. Whomever's appetizer they pick will become their kitchen hands.

Mike - Restaurant Iz: Carla, Jamie and Tiffani.
Richard - Tongue & Cheek Restaurant: Antonia, Spike and Angelo

It seemed to be a tie since it was 2 dishes from each chef that stood out to the judges. Mike's braised pork shoulder with pepperoni sauce and the pinenut rosemary custard was the judges faves. Where Richard's raw oyster with creme fraiche and raw hamachi with sweet bread veal won the judges votes.

But, when Gail said that Mike's food would be what she would eat on the weekday and Richard's food on the weekend, I knew who clinched the title of Top Chef.

I felt pretty bad for Mike but a big congrats to Richard. He is the master in the kitchen and he proved it by clinching the Top Chef Title.

April 1, 2011

Colored Choco-Chips in Cupcakes: Photo Friday

Colored chocochips to plain cupcakes

Sometimes, a little pizazz goes a long way.

Rainbow-colored chocolate chips in your white cupcake batter makes everything so much better.

It's true.

Just ask my kids.
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