Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A New and Improved Site!

We've moved! Check out the new site

See you soon!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trick or Treat: Halloween Cupcakes


I have a lot of baking for Halloween parties this week. And that means a lot of cupcakes. I made mini cupcakes as I am primarily baking for 2-7 years olds.

I started my cupcakes this morning as soon as my kid was eating his breakfast. I wanted to get as many cooked off and starting to cool as possible so I could get frosting while he was at a 1/2 day of school. Baking is a little faster and less messy when my favorite little sous chef isn't around.

Round 1 went to the Pastry Gods. I have no idea. I am guessing it was too large of chunks of oreos for mini cupcakes. I have made these many times and never had the situation that I had this morning. I regrouped. Poured another cup of coffee and started a fresh batch. Next batch came out perfect. As for the first batch, with the great suggestion of Yeast Coast Baking, that I would turn them into cake balls. Yeahhhh. These were ugly. I don't know. Today wasn't my day. My kid is syked as they taste delicious and they are too ugly to face the public so they will stay in our house to be enjoyed.

I surrendered to the Cookies & Cream Cupcakes and left it at one successful batch. Surely, another cupcake would not have the tragic results I had be confronted with today. Apple Cider Cupcakes were decided upon. Fortunately, these are beautiful. I should have started my day with these.

While cleaning up after frosting the last Apple Cider Cupcake, I was at the sink when I heard "I am so so sorry". As a parent, every time I hear this my stomach goes to my throat and I brace myself. "I am so so sorry. I am so so sorry." I stepped around the kitchen island to find...

Why yes, that is the good batch of Cookies & Cream Cupcakes on the floor. I really honestly didn't know if I should laugh or cry. I chose both. I called CB over at Yeast Coast Baking and as I was relaying the story I broke down cry-laughing. Then I hear "why is your smile upside down?". Trust me the child is lucky he's cute. I'm done for the day. Beer me.

Happy Halloween!

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup coarsely chopped oreos

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with liners.

Beat buttermilk, sugar, oil, and vanilla together until foamy. In separtate bowl sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat. Add in oreos and mix well.

Pour into liners, 3/4 way full and bake 18-20 minutes. Allow to completely cool before frosting.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oreo cookie crumbs, well crushed

Beat shortening and butter together until well combined and fluffy. Add sugar and beat for 3 mins. Add vanilla and milk, beat for 5-7 mins. Add oreo crumbs, beat for 1 minute.

Apple Cider Cupcakes

2 eggs
1 2/3 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 c butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat overn to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with liners.

In large bowl cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, beat well, approximately 3 minutes. Add baking powder, spices, and salt. Mix. Add flour and cider alternately until combined.

Fill 3/4 way full. Bake 18-20 mins. Cool completely before frosting.

Use recipe above, instead of milk, substitute a 3/4 cup cider boiled to a reduction of a quarter cup. Do not use oreos. Sprinkle with cinnamon on top.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

An Apple a Day...

It's fall! And we took a family trip to Larriland Farm in Woodbine, Maryland to pick our own apples and take advantage of some of the fall festivities around their farm. They have a great storybook character hayride through the fields, over the creek, and through the woods which is fun for young and old. There is also a "haunted barn", perfect amount of spooky for a 4 year old, parents are free and kids are $2. And there is a hay bale maze, again you pay for the kids and parents are free. OH! and they stamp the kid's hand so they can do it again and again after you paid the one time. There are great grilled items for lunch, apple fritters, candied apples, apple ciders, etc at stand around the farm. A farm store will provide any odds and ends, produce if you don't want to go into the fields, or novelty items to bring home. My kid had a blast, very excited for everything we did and the weather could not have been better.
We headed out into the orchard where the Braeburns, Idareds, and Staymans were ready for the picking.

Picking Staymans
Now with all of our apples it was time to get cooking some fall treats! I had just received two cookbooks "The Apple Lover's Cookbook" and "The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook" and was anxious to try out the recipes.

"The Apple Lover's Cookbook" is a great resource book for making your apple-y treats. It describes many popular apples helping to provide the best apple treats. I've tried two recipes so far, one great, one not so great. So I will have to get back to you on how I feel about it as an actual cookbook, but as far as a resource and an apple inspiration- wonderful!
Apple Cinnamon Rolls
"The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook" is gorgeous. It has a few blank insert pages for you to add your own heirloom recipes. This book would make a beautiful host gift throughout the season. The photos are stunning, the page layout is well thought out and it is organized by season. I have made three recipes from this cookbook. The orange gingerbread- delicious! and then used it to make gingerbread stuffed pork loin. I did change the recipe only slightly, using the boneless pork loin I had on hand- which just changed the presentation. My son inhaled this pork and I must admit I snuck down for some leftovers also. It really is that good. Mixing the fresh picked apples with the gingerbread made for such a warm, comfort treat! I served it along with the potato-leek gratin from the cookbook. Great fall dinner and SOOO easy. I feel as though this cookbook will be perused often.

Apple Gingerbread Stuffed Pork Loin with Potato-Leek Gratin and Spinach

I also made an amazing pot roast braised in white wine with onions served with potatoes. I love when the weather gets cooler and the meals are full of warm, satisfied bellies such a nice contrast to the light foods of a hot summer.

Pot Roast with Potatoes and Spinach

(I promise to unpack my camera from the move some day! Sorry these were all taking on my phone)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Pop! Pop! Popcorn!

I swear one of the most overpriced, over complicated, over calorated (that is now a word) foods is popcorn. You don't need a popcorn popper, you don't need a microwavable bag full of crap- and believe me it is crap in that bag- all you need is a pot with a lid, some oil, and a quarter cup of popping corn. Mr Orville Redenbacher may be the most recognizable brand, but I highly encourage you to go find some popping corn from a farmer, from a Natural foods store, dry your own, trust me you will no longer need to drown it in butter. My own child won't have anything to do with bar coded popcorn because getting (fresh) is that much tastier and, wait for it, CHEAPER, significantly. Did I mention no junk added, no calories, or weird stuff that makes no sense why it has been added to popcorn. Popcorn is full of health benefits like fiber which makes it a great snack, it's when you (or the food industry) add that junk it turns from delicious and healthy to a high calorie junk food.

For fun you can get it still on the ears of corn and rub it with a bit of cooking oil, put it in a paper bag and microwave it for 45 seconds. The kids (and you) will giggle and ooh and aaah.
When that novelty where's off you can coat the bottom of a pot with cooking oil, add in popcorn kernels (no more than cover the bottom of the pot in a single layer), put  on the stove over medium-high heat and cover. In a minute or two you will hear the familiar sound of pop, pop, popping. And when the popping decreases to a couple (yes 2-3 seconds) between pops remove from heat but remain covered for 30 more seconds. Pour into a bowl and there you go! Delicious treat without any guilt. Fiber it up. Add herbs to a kosher salt and sprinkle over, or a bit of fresh grated parm, or leave as is- it's that good! Also great as a garnish to fall soups.

This post just made me want to go pop some now! Snack time!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fall Salad, Simple Dinner

I love this salad. It's fast, it's easy, it's filling, and it is delicious.

All you need to create this fast meal:
Bacon lardons, cooked off
apple slices
blue cheese
olive oil
apple cider vinegar
(a nut would be a nice add to this- walnut or almond)

For Dressing: add 1/2 teaspoon per serving of olive oil to pan, heat. Add cooked bacon lardons. Once warmed add a splash of apple cider vinegar.

Assemble salad: spinach, apples, bacon vinaigarette, then blue cheese, optional nut. Serve immediately.

Do You Know the Pumpkin Man?

Chocolate! Pumpkin! Cinnamon! Oh MY!

Chocolate and Pumpkin- does it get any better? Add some cinnamon buttercream! Delicious! They truly just melt in your mouth with every bite. Never one of those cakey mouthfull feelings, just a bite of Autumn melting across your mouth. A great cupcake.

What your going to need for the cupcake:
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk (dairy free is fine)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a bowl mix together pumpkin, oil, sugar, milk, vanilla. Add in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, salt. Stir together with a fork. Do not use a mixer it will make batter gummy. Once well combined, fold in chocolate chips.

Fill liners 2/3 full and bake for 22-25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter (or margarine)
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup milk (or soy creamer)

Beat the shortening and butter together until well combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for 3 minutes. Add vanilla, milk, cinnamon and beat for 7 minutes until fluffy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's Fall!

I love love love fall! Nothing is better than the cool crisp breeze after a hot summer, especially the muggy, can't breath summer days of Washington, DC. The second the weather gets into the low 80s and Labor Day has come and went it is our fall.

This past weekend I searched my cookbooks for a fall treat that I had the ingredients on hand for- Pumpkin Pie Brownies won. I hadn't made these before, but trust the cookbook "Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar" to the fullest Even if you aren't a vegan or have egg/dairy allergies, this is a fantastic cookbook, quickly followed up by "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World". Rumor has it that they have a pie cookbook coming out just in time for the holiday season which I will have to jump on.

For Brownie Layer:
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

For pumpkin layer
3/4 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup (non-dairy) milk
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan or a 9 inch square pan lined with parchment paper.

To make brownie layer:
Melt chocolate
In a large mixing bowl, mix together pumpkin, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine, then mix in melted chocolate.

To make pumpkin layer:
mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir til thoroughly combined.

To assemble:
*On my first run it all mixed together, so I don't have a full proof tip yet, but see below on what I am going to try on my next run
Use a spatula to spread the brownie layer mixture into the prepared baking pan, bring batter to edges of pan. Pour pumpkin layer over it, leaving a little room at the edges if you can. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pumpkin layer looks fairly firm- a little jiggling is ok- and has cracked at the edges a bit.

Let brownies cool for 20 minutes, then transfer pan to the fridge to set for at least an hour and a half. Once set you can decorate with chocolate chips, cut into wedges, and serve.

*I am going to put a greased pint glass or small bowl in the middle of my pan, then pour brownie in around it- that way my sides build up a little more. Remove glass allow brownie to come to middle enough to cover and pour pumpkin mixture into center.
Would love to hear your suggestions when you make these! They are delicious even if their presentation is not perfect.
Happy Fall!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Go Grease Lightning!: A Summer Wrap Up

Where did the summer go!?! I am wide awake at 1am on Labor Day, my mind racing. Knowing that I haven't posted much at all since the beginning of summer I compiled some photos from my phone of summer dishes and events to bring you up to speed.

My summer opened with an old friend coming to visit, good friends having a baby girl, my husband and crew winning a trophy at BBQ Battle, an old friend passing away.
Georgetown Cupcakes, Budweisers, and Shrimp Poop with CB at the Waterfront in Georgetown

I made these organic onesies with iron-on decals

Great Job, Old Glory!

An intimate meal the night before the funeral

As soon as we got back from the funeral...

We bought a house! Finally. We were in search of a home that fit the needs for our whole family. My husband needed an easier commute and wanted water. I wanted a place for my gardens, my bees, my chickens, anything else I could fit in there, a great school system, and a great community. My son wanted a yard, a playroom, kids, and a fun school. We had been searching since January 2011, had put in offers on 4 houses and either lost the bidding war or we were willing to meet the seller's compromise. So when our realtor, Lynn (who I miss after spending at least a day a week with her since January) sent a house just listed that day we ran out to look at it and had an offer in by the end of the day. Everyhing fell into place and we were officially homeowners the day after our wedding anniversary. Not bad for having a 5 year plan and making it happen in the 4th year. Although it has my current arch nemesis- a concrete block shed, that really needs to come down and built somewhere else, it is perfect for us. And starts us on the next 5 year plan.
We are a block from the water, which was apparently smart on our part as we didn't have street flooding during Hurricane Irene. My husband's commute is now not only easier, but much more scenic. My bees have moved in and are very happy. We have met with a Master Gardener and the yard will be developed to be an fully edible landscape instead of one focused vegetable garden plot, my idea and Kristen executed it beyond my vision. The school system couldn't be better, it's a blue ribbon school. We have kids all over our neighborhood and they go down to the dock to fish, crab, or skip stones.

Our Dock, a block from our house

The biggest cause of traffic at our new house
My son and I had gone to return the cable boxes for the old house and decided to swing in to my husband's restaurant for some lunch on the way home when the East Coast Earthquake hit. We were almost done with our meal when I thought a really big truck was out front until trophies (see above) started falling off the shelves above the door and the bar was about to start dumping liquor bottles to the floor. As soon as you realized what was happening it was over, knocking out telephones everywhere. When we arrived home we had some structural damage, that would really cause problems a few days later when Irene hits, and a few things were knocked over.

Archived photo of Washington Monument before cracking due to earthquake
Still in boxes and not even hanging towel bars and closet rods yet Irene hit.
Chesapeake Bay 8 hours before Irene was over us

Strapped down the bees, put a heavier rock on top, duct taped everywhere

Power Out, good thing my kid had his camping headlamp handy!

Part of water damage to wall in kitchen
Our power was out for almost exactly 100 hours and our neighborhood has one road in, one road out and it was blocked. There were down wires covering half the road, if you were willing to hold your breath under those and hope the cracked telephone pole holds you got to a second block of a tree and wires completely over the road. So we were trapped on our tiny peninsula. Thankfully after living in St Thomas, USVI and having to deal with WAPA power outages weekly I had kind of prepared of us for the storm. Told my husband to pick up bags of ice for the freezer, filled the bathtubs, got the flashlights ready, did a load of laundry and cleaned all the dishes, and 10 minutes after giving my kid a bath (knowing the power wouldn't be with us much longer) the power left. We didn't even see an electric truck in our whole town until Wednesday, the same day we got our power back.
What did we eat having no power and limited dishes, no way of washing hands...

Halibut with a vegan beurre blanc, baby broccoli, and cherry tomatoes

Romaine Salad with Creamy Parmesan, Kalamata Olive Viniagarette, and Fried Egg
Purple Cauliflower, basil, goat cheese, and cherry tomatoes

BLOTs (Bacon, Lettuce, Onion, Tomato) with a basil aioli and green beans

What do you do when you have no power and are stuck in a new house? Projects! Put up my walk-in closet shelves and rods. Started to work on the nautical themed guest bathroom. Hung pictures (to may or may not hide new water damage in the kitchen).
Still work in progress

My favorite reading spot right now
And a few more glimpses of summer food photos from my phone...

I made chocolate dairy free ice cream

My kid made oreo banana dairy free ice cream with the new ice cream maker

My husband got a pearl in his oyster during his birthday dinner at Georgia Brown's

Birthday Cupcakes for my mother in law
My son will now only eat homemade tortillas made into chips. After having them once, he requests them all the time
Yellow Watermelon, made a chilled soup from part of it
And for our last boat docking lunch of the summer, my father in law ordered the Hawaii Five-O
Yes, that's a ham and cheese on a glazed doughnut
Books I read this summer and recommend:

And new cookbooks I acquired:                                            

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Food Wars

Yesterday 36 Million pounds of ground turkey was recalled, processed at a Cargill plant in Arkansas from February to August. 6 MONTHS and it went undetected or even worse, ignored. It was recalled after a person died and 76 super strains of salmonella were reported. Yesterday 3 people were arrested in a swat team raid for selling raw milk through Rawesome, a natural foods buying club.

How many people will be arrested in the ground turkey recall that killed and sickened many? None, and I am positive there weren't any swat teams invading the plant yesterday taking anyone in handcuffs. They will get a slap on the wrist fine that will be small change to a company that is one of the largest of Big Ag Corps and THE largest privately owned Big Ag- with 3.3BILLION Dollars in net profit last year.

Rawesome had $10,000 of raw milk products dumped, computers and cash seized and were raided with guns drawn.

Our food system is broken. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be aware of what you are buying. Food is fuel for our bodies not just something to stop our stomachs from growling or something to do while watching tv.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Husband Got Some Press

Nice article on my husband

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Baby, A Passing, Great Friends, Great Food

A month ago when you looked at my summer calendar you would have noticed that not a lot of days had been scheduled. There was a friend in for a long weekend, a weekly dance class, a swim class, a baby due in July, and a beach trip at the end of summer. The rest of the days were going to be filled in spontaneously with "what do you feel like doing today" fun. Well, since the day school let out (and actually just before) our summer has been a whirlwind.
My dear friend, Nora, who was due July 4th had her baby 3 weeks early. Yes, the last day of school. So exciting!!! My old dear friend from high school, CB, was coming in for a long weekend and we were going to baseball games, the zoo, the National monuments, The Monkees concert, and then I was dropping her at the Baltimore Airport Monday morning where I continued my drive up to Boston to see the new baby and as my son is calling her his "new girlfriend".
Once in Boston we went by Fenway and Bug insisted on buying 'Fia a pink Red Sox baseball- I should mention here my son is obsessed with Red Sox Baseball- with his own allowance money.We saw the beautiful baby girl the next morning. She is stunning. And I am a firm believer that all babies are not cute, especially new ones, so I tell you honestly, this baby is beautiful. It was fantastic to see Nora and Jason and meet baby.
We drove home Wednesday, much to my son's disappointment. He loves Boston.
On Thursday, I found out a Boston friend had passed away. I was broken hearted. It was sudden. And I knew I had to be in Boston for the funeral, not only for my own goodbyes but to be there for his best friend. I have a lot of happy memories of Rajiv, laughing, getting into mischief, eating, trolling around and for cute boys together, "stalking" Tom Brady when he moved into his Comm Ave house (we would take the most inconveinent route just so we could walk past his house for a glimpse- never got one). I was also angry. We were supposed to meet up with him at the end of summer (yes part of the previously mention beach vacation) and he was only half way through the Martha Stewart Living subscription I had sent him, per his request. I was angry I didn't have one more day of laughing and mischief.
My husband had BBQ Battle in DC Friday night- Sunday night, where he stays in town and works around the clock competing and vending in BBQ. They took 2nd place in America's Best Sauce, and brought home a trophy!

Barely glancing at the trophy and definitely not getting enough rest we piled up and were off to Boston early Monday morning. My husband and son were going along to drive with me, so I wouldn't be alone on the drive, but I really wouldn't be seeing them again until Wednesday. We arrived and checked into our hotel. I directly went to my friend's house (with Apple Cake in hand) for dinner and conversation. I got to meet one of Rajiv's friends from years ago when he was fresh out of college, Janet. We ate a dynamite dinner, which you do at Becky's house every time. (I have mentioned her before in a post from Arubula's Kitchen) It was a night of light conversation, catching up, bonding, and preparing ourselves for the day ahead.nice
See a future blogpost for what we ate!
With heavy eyelids we all said our goodnights and I went back to my hotel. It was so nice to take an evening stroll through the streets of Back Bay, my old stomping ground, before catching a cab. It felt like I had flashed back several years ago and Rajiv was still there.
The next day we all met up and caravaned to the funeral. Somehow we crammed 4 adult people into my very small car. It was a traditional Indian funeral. I saw old friends, made new, a very new is who held my hand and rubbed my back when I needed it. Thank you, Megan!, couldn't have gotten through it without you. I was determined to have game face for the day, hold it together and be there, the rock, for Becky, I would allow myself to fall apart tomorrow. There were a lot of deep breaths taken and dark sunglasses.
We were headed from the funeral home for the procession to the cemetary when car accident #1 happened. (Yes, #1) No one was injured but a member of the procession had his car taken away by a flatbed. We made it to the cemetary without further incident, Janet and I bonding on a very long scenic drive of the South Shore. As we left the cemetary accident #2 happened when someone tried to run through the procession. The entire procession pulled to the side of the road (none of us knowing where we were going without following the limo/family) while firetrucks, ambulances, and police came down the road. I told you before Rajiv liked mischief and cute boys- he got plenty of both. It was the comic relief we needed after such a difficult time. Again, no one was injured, but unforutnately the car was not drivable. Janet and I bonded and laughed in my car thinking how much Rajiv would enjoy all this.
We finally did make it to the reception. It was a nice time to catch up with old friends I hadn't seen in years, meet old and new friends of Rajiv's. And just take a moment to pause before the drive back to town. We, once again 4 adults in little car, drove back to town for margarittas and munchies in Rajiv's honor. Old friends met up, there were laughs, a complete mess in the kitchen and an emptying of the cupboards, dancing, deliveries of more tequilla, pictures, and stories of Rajiv, and how he touched so many. I didn't get back to my hotel until 2am and I think we could have all talked til the sun rose, finding comfort in each other while silently processing the day we had. Rajiv would have loved it.
It was a very long drive home on Wednesday, not just metaphorically. I am happy to just have laundry to do today and silently process the past few weeks. I left Boston feeling wrapped in warmth of my dear friends, people I miss so much, but comfortable because there is a place of unconditional love, great food, and always a place where no matter what it'll be ok.

Rock on, Rajiv. I love you.
In Loving Memory of
Rajiv Bhatt