Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dutch Baby for breakfast

My mantra this weekend has been "I am not sick, I am not sick, I am not sick!"
... but I'm kind of sick.

So, true to form, I bake. I don't know why, but there is something about baking that is so comforting (yes, I know, there I go again. It may really be my favorite word). I love a warm kitchen, a house that smells sweet and spicy. I find great joy in an hour or two in the kitchen with a mug of hot tea.

Yesterday David ventured out to the gym without my sick behind, so I made myself breakfast for a change. (Yes, he is still making breakfast in bed, I love it!) :)

Raspberry Dutch Baby
(Adapted from a recipe found in the Seattle Times)
This is a very versatile recipe, you can use any fruit you would like, or even change it to savory and add veggies and bacon. Just treat this like a fancy pancake and add whatever toppings you love.

1/4 cup butter
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk (I use non-fat because that is all I ever have in our house)
3/4 cup flour (I have used white and wheat, works with both)
toppings of your choice

Put butter in a 2-quart cast iron skillet (yes, I bought my cast iron skillet solely for this recipe!), toss in the oven and pre-heat to 425 degrees.
While the butter melts, quickly mix the batter. Mix the eggs until they are a light lemony yellow. With the mixer running (or if you are whisking, keep at it), slowly add the milk and then the flour. Continue mixing for 30 seconds.
Pour the batter into the pan. Do not attempt to incorporate the melted butter. If you are adding savory toppings (veggies or canadian bacon), toss them on top of your pancake now.
Bake 22 to 25 minutes, until puffed and browned on the edges and the center is golden brown.
If you are making a sweet pancake, heat up your fruit while the pancake is baking. I love fresh strawberries with this, but have also heated up strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in a sauce pan with a little sugar. This makes a syrupy fruit glaze (similar to jam) that is may be my favorite pancake topping!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Exciting mail

I got some exciting mail this weekend! After our Hawaii trip, Heather made this great compilation slide show of all of our pictures accompanied by music! It was easily my favorite memento of the trip, so I somewhat insisted that she make one for our LA (and for every future trip we take together! lol...).
Anyway, thank you Heather (and Carrie), I had a great time, and love the slide show! :)

Next time Italy! :) lol....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Goal update - picking apples from an orchard!

We did it! Previous goal #10 (I have since updated) has been accomplished! :)
Saturday was a rainy day; we almost bailed out, but The South 47 Farm is close to home so we didn't really have an excuse! David and I ventured out to U-pick apples, taunted a goat with our booty, and bought a few other things from the fruit and veggie farm stand. All and all, a muddy good time! (Oh yes, we will be returning for the pumpkins!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chocolate covered bananas and dating stories

A couple months after David and I started dating we took our first trip together - the train up to Vancouver, BC.
I was so nervous! I had never been to Vancouver, never traveled with David, and had never vacationed with a boy! So many new experiences in one trip: we biked Stanley park, stayed in a semi-swanky hotel, explored city streets, fell in love with the Granville Island Public Market, and had a traveling dinner date which included a Godiva chocolate covered banana.
I will admit, I kind of turned my nose up to the idea of a frozen banana initially, but (as so often is the case) David was right, they are divine!
We now make chocolate covered bananas every once and awhile, and kind of giggle that they are now one of my favorite deserts and that David MUST have sprinkles. lol... Choose your own decorations, but try them, you too will love them! :)

Chocolate Covered Bananas

Small bunch of long, ripe (organic) bananas
1-2 bags of semi-sweet (organic) chocolate chips
Popsicle sticks or chop sticks
Sprinkles, coconut, crushed nuts or any other extras you can come up with!

First, it is important that you choose ripe bananas. If your bananas are not ripe they will not taste very good, and they will break when you try to put them on the stick.

Cut your bananas in half (a whole banana is too much, trust me), insert your sticks of choice and freeze on a parchment lined cookie sheet for at least an hour.

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler (aka Pyrex bowl over small pan of boiling water). One thing I learned after doing this a few times - let the chocolate melt until it is silky smooth and very liquidy, when you think it is melted, let it go another minute or two, it will make the chocolate application so much easier.

Use a spatula (if you have one) to stir your chocolate while it melts, it also helps when smoothing the chocolate onto the banana. Actually, go buy a spatula if you don't have one, they are so useful! lol... Anyway, smooth the chocolate over the banana, coat with your toppings and then place back on the parchment lined cookie sheet.

Once you have coated all of the bananas, put them back in the freezer for two hours. After your bananas are good and frozen wrap them individually in saran wrap and store in the freezer for ... maybe a couple of weeks? Who knows, they get eaten very quickly in my house! :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fighting off a cold and use of the word 'comforting'

There is something so comforting about homemade bread. Even better if you are the one to add the homemade. Add in the chuckle your boyfriend gets every time you say the word comforting, and you have a good use of a lazy weekend!
I was kind of feeling kind of wimpy this weekend, not really sick, not really healthy. I downed a bunch of Emergen-C, made some soba noodles with far too much spice, and of course some homemade rosemary bread. Now if you live in the Seattle area, you know this weekend's temperatures averaged right around 80/85 degrees during the day, but it was fall heat and still chilly in the shade! lol... Well at least the warm temperatures helped the bread to rise!

Rosemary Wheat Bread
(Adapted from the Art of European Bread Baking)

1 1/3 cups warm water (105 - 115 degrees ***this is very important, use a thermometer!***)
1 package active dry yeast
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine water, yeast, olive oil, rosemary, salt and sugar. Let mixture stand for 5 minutes.

Using a wooden spoon add in wheat flour and then the white flour 1/2 cup at a time. Stir until most of the flour has been absorbed and a rough ball has formed. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface (I usually use white flour for this bit, but you can really use whatever you have, generally wheat will absorb more liquid more quickly). Knead dough until a moderately stiff, smooth and elastic ball forms. Lightly grease a mixing bowl with olive oil, place dough in the bowl, and turn once to coat the dough. Cover the bowl with a saran wrap and place in a warm spot to rise until doubled (45-60 minutes).
I like to put my bread on the back burner of my stove while cooking or baking something else. the ambient heat (as long as it isn't so hot as to cook the bread/kill the yeast) really helps the rising process.

Punch the dough down, and let it rise for another 30 -45 minutes until again doubled in size.

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees, and score the bread every inch or two with a sharp knife. (I've read this prevents a mid-baking bread explosion)

For baking, I have baked on a parchment lined cookie sheet, or if you have it a pizza stone also works really well (I also topped the pizza stone with some parchment paper).
Whatever you use, toss the bread into the oven at 425 for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes lower the heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.

If you are craving a crunchy crust, you can lightly spray or brush the bread with cold water every 3 minutes of the first 10, but I must warn you, I don't like crunchy crust, and have never tried this part of the recipe! :)

When the bread is done, thump it like a melon, it should sound hallow and be golden brown.

I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Egg Love

Until a couple of months ago you couldn't pay me to eat eggs in the morning, the mere mention of the idea made my stomach turn (there were several unfortunate incidents when I was a child that are better left unmentioned). No eggs for me, I was maintaining a passionate love affair with cereal!
However there came a point when I realized that my love affair with the tasty cinnamon-sugary breakfast cereal was holding me back from reaching my goal - and was therefore axed! I wandered aimlessly for a few mornings, but finally broke down and admitted my true love of eggs.
The thing is, they are so tasty and easy! One egg, a piece of toast and maybe a little fruit or veg, and a full meal you can make! French toast, egg on toast, scrambled egg, the options are limitless!
For the eggs pictured, toast one piece of wheat bread, place on plate.
Heat your pan, add a tsp of olive oil, the pan should be hot enough that the oil shimmers and may start to LIGHTLY smoke (if you have a grey smoke fog in you kitchen, wash your pan and start again at a lower temp).
Whip one egg in a bowl, poor in pan and let cook for aprox 2 mins. until set. While cooking add salt, pepper, italian herb grinder, salsa, black beans, cheese, veggies - anything you heart desires to the top of your egg.
After aprox 2 mins. using a spatula, lift one half of the omlet, and fold over. You should now have a half circle with your cheese and veggies on the inside.
Continue cooking on low heat for another couple of minutes to melt your cheese, but be careful not to leave your egg too long or it will be a tough little omlet!
Once your egg is nicely browned, add the egg to the top of your toast, garnish with tomatoes if you have them (or like them) and ta -da! Breakfast of champions!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Vacationing with the stars!

This last weekend was spent vacationing with the girls in LA, visiting the traffic, catching up, and admiring Carrie's crafts! It was fun to come home and tell David about our shopping adventures on Rodeo Drive and touring open houses in Beverly Hills!
Our plans were slightly derailed by the crazy forest fires, but the weekend ended up being just the thing I really needed. I came home feeling tired, but so much more relaxed!
Thanks ladies for a fantastic vacation, perhaps next time Italy? :)