Thursday, September 16, 2010


It's been awhile, huh? Things have gotten a bit in the way of my culinary adventures I had said in my last post (in JULY!! Hoo boy...) I had to have heart surgery (which went wonderfully) and am recuperating (slowly but surely).

Oh, I also turned 25 since last we spoke (on July 17th, 2 days before the surgery). This was my cake (red velvet with cream cheese frosting and whimsical colored sugar):

My birthday cake

Kitchen-related activities are still a bit of a challenge, so my camera has had a break from being fogged up with pasta steam, caked in cookie dough, and precariously balanced over a whirring Kitchenaid (such a little trooper).

Hence, I don't have a lot of food-related anecdotes as of late. But that doesn't mean that I can't dredge up some fond food memories from the not-incredibly-distant past, right?


This past December, my parents and Adam and I went to the happiest place on earth (no, not the baking aisle of Le Gourmet Chef), Disney World! Here are a few of the delicious items we dined on (descriptions from the restaurant menus where available)...

Breakfast at Kouzzina, Cat Cora's restaurant. Kouzzina, Greek for kitchen, is located on the Boardwalk:

Stacked Kouzzina Breakfast: Two Poached Eggs, Kalamata Olive Toast, Artichoke Spread,
and Sweet Potato Hash with choice of Bacon or Chicken Sausage.
Stacked Kouzzina Breakfast @ Kouzzina
I thought that this was a great and different breakfast than the typical pancakes and eggs and potatoes. Not that I don't love pancakes. Actually, pancakes are pretty much my favorite breakfast. But back to this, very delicious.

Classic Golden Waffle: with Whipped Mascarpone Cheese, Honey, and Chopped Pecans
and choice of Bacon or Chicken Sausage
Classic Golden Waffle @ Kouzzina
I should say now that I don't have first-hand experience with every dish here. Either my dad or Adam had this. Looks quite tasty, doesn't it?

French Toast: Golden Brown Thick Challah Bread with choice of Bacon or
Chicken Sausage
French Toast @ Kouzzina
Again, either dad or Adam had this. How much more inviting does a dusting of powdered sugar make a dish? I must remember this more often.

What is a vacation without sugar-covered deep-fried dough? This particular specimen is from Sleepy Hollow in the Magic Kingdom:
Funnel Cake @ Sleepy Hollow in MK
I am a big fan of funnel cake. A big huge fan. Like to the point that I might have pointed out every single funnel cake stand Adam and I passed up until this one (with half-hearted excuses why I shouldn't have one then: just had dinner, it was 8 am, etc, etc...) when we FINALLY stopped. Yum.

Special touches can be seen anywhere, even in a crepe! (From Les Crepes de Chefs de France, France pavilion in Epcot)
Chocolate Crepe @ Crepes de Chefs de France in Epcot
Another tasty snack, this one with international flair. And musical flair too!

Right next door to the crepes you can quench your thirst with one of these slushes...available in Cosmopolitan (below), Grey Goose Citron Lemon, and Grand Marnier Orange. If frozen slushy drinks aren't your style, wine, beer, and champagne are also available (Les Vins de Chefs de France, France pavilion in Epcot).
Cosmo Slush @ Les Vins de Chefs de France in Epcot
Oh lovely French slushy, you are sweet and tart and pink and just so wonderful!

Back to a restaurant, this time Raglan Road, an Irish pub, in Downtown Disney!

Soda Bread and dipping oil with Guinness reduction.
Bread and Dipping Oil @ Raglan Road
Admittedly, when this first arrived at the table, I was not sure what to expect. Slightly sweet and warm and oh so good! I'd like 6 of these right now please!

Dalkey Duo: Dalkey-battered cocktail sausages with a Dalkey mustard dipping sauce.
Dalkey Duo @ Raglan Road
Yes, that is a second order you see in the background. And yes, it was FAR too many little battered cocktail sausages. But if you're going to have far too many of something, little battered cocktail sausages aren't the worst thing. (I'd still vote for far too many funnel cakes or chocolate crepes though!)

Fish and Chips: Our famous beer-battered fish and chips served with fresh tartar sauce.
Fish and Chips @ Raglan Road
Fish and chips are a fairly recent addition to my diet, very enjoyable (you know, when there aren't any funnel cakes or crepes to be found).

Ok, ok, I'll stop.

Maybe. No promises.

Keen Eye for the Shepherds Pie: We give the traditional shepherd's pie (prime beef and lamb) a much-needed makeover with our contemporary twist to this favorite dish.
Keen Eye for the Shepherds Pie @ Raglan Road
Adam's. He really liked this, loved the flavors.

Frozen Confection Time!! These are from The Fountain at the Dolphin.

Create Your Own Sundae: One scoop or swirl of your choice of ice cream, favorite sauce, and your favorite dry topping, topped with whipped cream and a cherry. (As seen in raspberry sorbet, caramel, and mini M&M's.)
Sundae @ The Fountain
Sorbet = gotta be Sara's! Very good, nice and sweet and frozen and tasty.

Coco Loco Shake: Chocolate and caramel cappuccino ice creams blended together, topped with whipped cream, malted milk balls and drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauces.
Coco Loco Shake @ The Fountain
Adam's. I can't attest to how this tastes, if I even gave cappuccino-flavored ice cream a fleeting glance I'd be awake for 3 days. Oh, and I can't have ice cream. LAME.

How fun am I to be around? I know, right?

My much-cooler-and-food-tolerant-than-me boyfriend seemed to enjoy this.

Disney World is home to some fabulous creations, among them is this: the carrot cake cookie (carrot cake cookie halves sandwiched via cream cheese frosting), found at Writers Stop in Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Carrot Cake Cookie @ Writers Stop in Hollywood Studios
This is another item I can't attest to the taste of. But it looks ridiculously decadent though, doesn't it? I believe that was the consensus of those who indulged.

Or maybe a snack with a little more protein and a little less cream cheese frosting is called for? Chicken Tostadas from the Taqueria del Lago, Mexico pavilion in Epcot.
Chicken Tostadas @ Taqueria del Lago in Epcot
This I DID eat! Although I'm not really sure why we have a spoon here. Very fresh and warm and delicious.

When you are celebrating an occasion, as we were (Mom's birthday!), sometimes restaurants will acknowledge your occasion with a special bonus treat (usually in the form of a dessert). This was from Boma, located in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, a buffet bursting with all different types of African cuisine.
Anniversary Surprise @ Boma
Okay, I'm going to plead the excuse of this was over 10 months ago. I'm going to go with fruity/jelly thing, appley/spicey thing, some sort of macaron, and possible chocolate truffle. The words were cocoa powder. I remember everything being very good (just not what everything exactly was).

Lastly, I had to end on a baked good, and what better than the fabulous and ginormic Napoleons from Boulangerie Patisserie, the French bakery in the France pavilion in Epcot?

(And yes, there are two photos of these. And yes, they are that good as to warrant that.)
Napoleons @ Boulangerie Patisserie in Epcot

Napoleon @ Boulangerie Patisserie in Epcot
Oh my goodness did you SEE this cross-section?????? Seriously, fabulous. FABULOUS!

So I hope to be returning to the kitchen soon (and not just to get a glass of water), stirring and mixing and setting off the smoke alarm. Oh we all know it's bound to happen. And I'll be there, preparing to recount the tale to you.

Lots of love,

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Better than never, right?

You know it's been awhile when you have to pause and try to remember your blogger password.

Yep. So how you been? Ahem.

Unfortunately, I don't even have a fun excuse for my absence, like I've been on a beach for a month or I was the grand prize winner in a chocolate contest and have been blissfully munching away.

I have to have heart surgery in a week to repair a leaking valve. This has been causing my energy to be depleted by even the teeniest of tasks, which in turn has led to a lack of activity in the kitchen. And in most of the places I've been occupying, really. But things will be fixed, everything will be alright, and I'll be back to my shenanigans in no time!

Alright, time to up the mood again. Who's up for some sangria??

Adam and I actually made this over a month ago for Memorial Day (before the turn of events described above), so these pictures are slightly...vintage? (An appropriate term when dealing with wine.)

What would a cooking adventure be without Adam playing with citrus?

My boyfriend and citrus.

It didn't take long for things to start becoming lovely...


I'll admit, I spent much of the afternoon opening the refrigerator door, retrieving a slice of lemon or lime and exclaiming "would you look at THIS?!?!?!"

I like to think that the rest of the people in the house were as impressed. They did a good job of pretending to be, anyways.

But, c'mon...


Sangria is fantastically easy to make, and wonderfully adaptable. I like to think there's not much you can do to screw it up, as I've made it several times in several ways and each time it has been tasty.

Here's what we did:

1 bottle of wine (we used a Pinot Noir)
1/4 cup of white rum
1/8 cup of Cointreau
1 lemon
1 lime
1 orange
1/4 cup of frozen strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries (I would probably eliminate these next time, they just became a bit mushy)
1/4 cup of sugar
1 12 oz can of seltzer (plain, or lemon-lime or orange flavored works well)

Combine everything except the seltzer into a large enough vessel, and refrigerate for a few hours (we left ours to steep for about 6 hours, I believe), stirring occasionally and looking at the lovely colors. Feel free to taste-test. You don't want to serve unfit sangria to your guests.

Right before serving, top it off with the seltzer. Enjoy!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Those of you with seasonal allergies may want to have an antihistamine at the ready.

I found a dandelion.

Looking down

Not exactly a rare discovery, I know.

Wish flower

But I hadn't taken pictures of one in awhile.


(And yes, I spared this flower from my making a wish. It had been such an agreeable photo subject.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

You really really should make this bread.

I love bread.

I also love cookies and orange juice and listening to Disney songs.

But today, we're talking about bread.

Bread on its own is pretty wonderful. But when you're able to amp up the "good for you" factor with veggies and fruit and whole wheat in the bread, it's even better. And it's even BETTER when the "good for you bread" tastes even more...well...good than its counterparts.

Here, my friends, we have one of those breads, recipe courtesy of Jamie at My Baking Addiction.

Grated zucchini

I love frozen fruit

If I can interject here for a moment while the bread is baking. I love frozen fruit. Frozen peas and corn too. They're so delightful for a quick snack while preparing a side dish. Frozen blueberries are my favorite in particular, however. Back when I was in middle school and high school, after I would come home, my mom and I would sit on our porch, talk about our days, and enjoy a refreshing treat of frozen blueberries and whipped cream. Hence my sneaking of blueberries throughout the making of this bread. It made it even more reminiscent and enjoyable.

Oh look, it's done!
Freshly baked bread

Check out all of the blueberries inside.
Let's take a peek

Slicing it up

Oh, how I am enjoying this bread. My very few adaptations to the recipe were to switch out half of the oil for applesauce (why not continue the fruit/veggie theme), and I eliminated the cinnamon (allergies). The recipe was still flavorful and wonderful-tasting, and I didn't feel as though I was skipping a major ingredient by leaving out the spice (although I'm sure it is even better with it included), which was appreciated.

Thank you Jamie for sharing this great recipe!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Baking for an audience. (Or, I'm no Sara Moulton, despite the shared first name.)

So the day finally occurred. The Day.

The day where I would be baking in front of people not related to or dating me. A still forgiving crowd, albeit less obligated to be.

Hoo boy.

I pondered and thought, and decided to make a recipe which had served me well in the past. I even brought the dry ingredients (I was to bake in my friend's house, no less) in a plastic bag, so prepared was I. I felt confident, and a tad bit sassy, carting in my cocoa and flour and homemade vanilla (more on that on a later date).

I mixed together the ingredients, "borrowed" eggs and oil from my friend, and put the cakes in the oven. They baked. I made witty banter with my friends. I took them out of the oven. The banter continued as the cakes cooled. We ate dinner.

After dinner, the cakes still had not cooled to my liking. I thought (no, Sara, haven't you learned that thinking is BAD) that maybe they would cool down faster out of the pans.

I took one pan and hovered it over a plate, my friend peeking below.

I then heard the sound of disappointment. Ohhhh.

Where's the other half?

Found it.

(I'll clarify now that my cakes were not blue, the lighting made it seem that way. They were just brown. And misshapen.)

Seems as though the cakes were more than very reluctant to leave the pans in their warm states. Really, who could blame them. It was nice and cozy in there. And they were about to be wrangled by yours truly into some sort of socially acceptable form (not really).

Despite the really awful looking cakes ("I'm sure they still taste good!" she was chiming in with at this point), I forged ahead. What other choice did I have? (Note to self: learn to make parfait or another broken-cake-friendly dessert.)

Already beginning to cave in on itself.
Problems on the horizon

The plan was to cover the cake in ganache. While does cover flaws on a cake, it doesn't hide them. You know a problem is still there, but it does have the added bonus of a tasty layer on top.

Not bad, not bad...
Trying to cover them up

Not good, not good...
Not pretty

At this point, Adam had the misfortune to wander in and ask,

(and we all know what he's about to ask)

"How's it going?"

I gave him my best "doom and destruction and horror and "Oh the humanity"" look, to which he replied (after hustling over to make sure I still had my limbs after my expression), "Oh, it looks fine."

Here, it just looks kinda like a mess. But not a sinking mess with a crumbling foundation. It's all about perspective, really.

After slicing the cake. No, the inside is not undercooked. It's just missing an essential ingredient we like to call cake.
Try to ignore the sinking middle, please.

When sliced, it sort of kind of maybe resembles a respectable cake. Kind of. Maybe.
Doesn't look too bad in slice form

Despite its cringe-worthy appearance, yes, again, the cake did not fail me. Really, how could you go wrong with chocolate and raspberry (the middle layer) and more chocolate. I know! Don't let the cakes cool entirely before slapping them together! That'll work out brilliantly!


So yes, the moral of the story is to be friends with kind and forgiving people (ones who enjoy cake are a nice bonus). Also to let your cakes cool before taking them out of the pan. But more about the friends (such as mine, who barely acknowledged that the cake was self-demolishing before their eyes, and only made mention of it to remark on its deliciousness).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's that time of year that the world smells like a florist.

I love looking at the pretty flowers and colors this time of year, don't you?

Tree in bloom

Springtime colors


This is so much better than snow.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An idea for leftover Easter candy. Or that candy calling to you from the 75% off bin.

So Easter was a few days ago, and I'm sure by now the baskets have been rifled through, the favorite candies picked out and long gone by 10:30 sunday morning.

Have you ever noticed that Easter candy is not just enjoyed through being eaten? Candies of all shapes and sizes are hidden, Peeps are microwaved and forced to joust.

Um, yes, I did say joust. Your family doesn't do this?

But if you do have any Peeps hanging around, here's a simple and delicious idea: Smeeps.

This looks good already

The peeps, pre-microwave

All heated up


(I thought the photos detailed the process pretty succinctly, don't you?)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Re-attempting a previously failed theme. Is anyone else nervous?

With springtime brings seasonal allergies; pastel-colored candies, tank tops, and disposable dinnerware; and the tuning up of the symphony of flip-flops, their slapping on the concrete as omnipresent as cicadas' buzz in the warmer months.

It also brings Easter.

Last year for Easter, I made these cookies, which were chocolatey and sugary delights (not to mention meticulously measured). This year, I began brainstorming early, trying to think of an absolutely fantastic contribution to the dessert table. Ideas bounced crazily around my head like a child that had eaten all the sugary confections I contemplated. Cupcakes? Cake? I pondered.

Finally, a few days before Easter, I walked into Michael's, saw they were having a sale on Wilton candy melts, and the decision was made.

Candy covered pretzels.

Yes, I know how this went last time.

With a profound sense of confidence that came out of I'm not really sure where, I bought a bag of purple and a bag of yellow. I was ready. So ready.

The only moment of indecision occurred in the supermarket, when deciding what shape of pretzel to turn purple or yellow. Seriously, who knew there were so many different shapes of little salted (or unsalted variety) pretzel? It was impressive. It was overwhelming. I pondered, looking at the thin ones, the thick ones, the short ones, the long ones, the honey mustard ones (those were ruled out fairly quickly), the rows and columns of pretzel that lay before me.

I eventually settled on (after consulting my mom's opinion on this decision as well) the square ones (the ones that look like you could play tic-tac-toe in them if you had a really really tiny writing instrument).

After being dipped in candy melts:
Lots of pretzels

Ready for easter

Well, that went pretty well, now didn't it? Not to toot my own horn over dipping half a pretzel in a chocolate melt, but the outcome was pretty crowd-pleasing. And there was no burned or crumbling chocolate in sight.

Today's lesson: Even if something goes pretty wrong the first time you attempt it, it may be worth it to try it again. Unless it was just doomed from the start. Then you could just try making these pretzels. They're quite good.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

First day of spring! ...also, what I had for breakfast this morning.

Hi there! Enjoying spring as much as I am?

As excited as I was for the arrival of spring, I didn't let winter fade away completely unnoticed.

The last sunset of Winter 2009-2010.
The last sunset of Winter 2010

I awoke the next morning feeling happier...sunnier...warmer. (It didn't hurt that the temperature reached 73 degrees that day.)

My mom and I took a walk in the park, reveling in the spring-like warmth.

This bench is waiting and ready for visitors.
Ready for people to sit

Hmm...could stand to look a bit less brown.

Admittedly, it still is a tad early in the season to expect leaves and flowers. But there were a few hints of the season to come back at the house.

Hey, bud

Hey! Green!

And of course, how could I let the first day of spring go by without a free frozen treat?

Celebrating with frozen confections

Welcome, spring. You'd been missed.

And now, for the "also" part of this post. I enjoy oatmeal in the mornings, and I also like adding little "extras" into the mix (usually fruit). This morning was Apple Oatmeal.

Good morning!

I used quick-cooking oats, and diced up an apple into small pieces. I put half of the apple into the oats and water at the beginning of the cooking, and fired up the microwave. Shortly before the oatmeal was to be completed cooking, I added a few raisins, golden raisins, walnuts, and pecans (from a trail mix), then powered the microwave back on again for 30 seconds. Half a minute later, I added the rest of the apple.

I thought it would be interesting to have the two apple textures in the same oatmeal, and actually, it was. The apples that had been cooked were probably more what people would expect with a fruit oatmeal, softer and warm. However, I also enjoyed the crisp and fresh taste of the unheated apple in there. All a matter of personal preference - either form of apple (or both) is a great way (at least in my opinion) to start a spring day.