Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cupcakes and biscuits and cards....OH MY!

     So.....I had plans to bake some new things and share it with you.  I did bake some new things.  But I won't share it with you.  Here's why:
     First of all, we had some friends over for dinner and I wanted to "go all out."  Aaron picked out a fish dish (that sounds funny..) which turned out GREAT (you know what? I will share that recipe with you) and I decided to add a green salad and some cheese biscuits that were supposed to be "just like Red Lobsters."  They were not just like Red Lobster's and I was not pleased.  Strike one.  No biscuits for you.
     Secondly, I had a Hawaiian-themed scrapbooking party to attend and thought I'd make margarita cupcakes because they went over so well the last time I made them.  Wrong again.  Wrong, wrong and wrong.  Something went terribly (you guessed it) wrong and they just didn't taste as good as the last time.  I took them to the party anyway, and some girls liked them, others did not.  I came home with extras.  Strike two!  ( On a positive note, the party was both fun AND successful in that I managed to make 5 of my own cards.  Woo to the hoo.)
   Lastly, we had plans today to go over to a friends house for lunch.  I said I would bring rolls.  Originally I planned on going to the store and purchasing some but NO, I decided to make some.  These weren't supposed to be just any old roll either.  You see, when I was in elementary school there were these rolls.  Oh such rolls!  They were yeast rolls that were as high as they were wide.  They were both dense and moist and positively delicious.  I decided to make those.  So I found a high rated recipe online and made them this morning.  I was hopeful but the outcome was poor to say the least.  They were not high or moist.  They were hard-ish, not at all high and mediocre.  I watched as some pushed them around their plates and/or did not go back for seconds for them.  It was a sad day indeed.
     Oh well!  Julia Child had mess-ups (I'm guessing she did) and she carried on!  So will I!  Here's the recipe for the delicious fishes called Grouper parmesan from

2 lbs. grouper fillets or other thick whitefish fillets
1 c. sour cream
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. grated onion
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash hot sauce
Chopped parsley

Cut skinned fish into serving size pieces. Place in a single layer in a well greased baking dish (12 x 8 x 2 inches). Combine remaining ingredients except paprika and parsley. Spread mixture over fish. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake in moderate oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until done (do not overcook). Garnish with parsley. Serves 6.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ol' reliable

When I share recipes, I noticed I only really share baked goods.  That is until now.  I've been craving good ol' marinara sauce for quite a while now.  I'm gonna say 4 years-for-awhile-now.  When I was single, I used to make it all the time but once Aaron entered the picture I stopped.  You see, Aaron doesn't love tomatoes and this is what my marinara sauce is made from.  Oh well.  I decided to make it tonight and I was not disappointed!

Marinara Sauce
(cook 30 min. before you plan on serving it)

2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 small onion, chopped
1- 16 oz. can of tomatoes
1 - 6oz. can tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp basil
1 1/2 tsp. salt

In medium saucepan, over medium heat, in olive oil cook garlic and onion until tender (approx. 5 minutes).  Stir in tomatoes and their liquid plus the remaining ingredients.  Reduce heat to low and cover.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally.
Serve with spaghetti or your other favorite pasta.  Voila!  Instant dinner

P.S.  I add a bit more sugar than the recipe calls for, usually 1/2 - 1 tsp more



Monday, February 21, 2011

An Essay: In pictures: What I did over the weekend

  As mentioned before, we took an impulsive trip to California.  Here are a few pics of what we did when we were there ( don't mind the quality....I'm looking into photo editing "stuff.")  Anyway!! Here we go........

After waking up semi-refreshed in the morning:

                                                     We finally met our "niece" Minnie:

   hung out with her AND her parents a bit

Tried out some beers (this is at Bear Republic in Healdsburg, Ca) at several different places, mostly in Santa Rosa...

We then sipped a few drinks we already knew we liked
Visited a few vineyards and sipped some wine the next day

We decided to take a break from sipping and decided to shop and then went home and did the stuff you do when you hang out. 

The next day we were introduced to one of my new favorite places.  If I was Oprah, it would be one of my favorite things and I would gift it to all.  I literally can't stop talking/thinking about the Francis Ford Coppola winery in Alexander Valley:

I fell in love.  There was a beautiful series of buildings and a simple outdoor venue

 A 1948 Tucker car from the movie "Tucker."

 And, memorabilia from the movie "Marie Antoinette"
Oh, and wine.  There was wine too ( I forgot to take a picture)
In one word it was: delightful!

At another vineyard, Trentadue in Alexander Valley, I both sipped and found some ports I couldn't leave behind.  I am now a proud owner of two(2) bottles and will both deny I have the bottles in my possession and guard them with my life at the same time!  I feel so adult, me with my port! Ha!

We then had to get in the car and head home...another end to another great weekend!  We'd like to thank Milly and Jesse again for their hospitality!  We look forward to seeing you soon!  Portland maybe?

Friday, February 18, 2011

"You're crazy...."

"No you're crazy!" That's the common "argument" heard around our house.  We don't actually mean it (most of the time) but it seems to happen more than not.  My take on things is that we're both a little crazy and that's why we work so well.  Want to hear what else is crazy? Okay, I'll tell you!  Thursday night after I got of work ( and back from some shopping....shh, don't tell!)  Aaron and I went out on a date night. We started talking about our plans for the up and coming weekend.  We didn't really have anything going on and to make a long story short we made a last minute decision to drive to Cali to visit family.  Fast forward 1/2 hr.  We had packed and were pulling out of town at 9 PM.  We drove all night and finally got to Aaron's sister's house at 3:30 am.  Is that crazy?  I think so too, but I can justify it by saying that it's a good crazy!  Have a crazy-good weekend, I know we will be!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lazy sunday with a side of not so lazy

Ah! Another lazy Sunday!  This weekend has been a whirlwind.  Or as Liz Lemon would say "a whirl of wind."  Due to the fact that I worked Friday ( I don't usually), got up for early morning service, baked some cupcakes and ran around like a crazy person all day yesterday, I informed Aaron that today, Sunday would be my sleep in day and he better let me do it (or else!)  He gladly obliged and got up early to go hike/bike in a local park.  I got up and checked in on the computer, made some coffee and again perused some cookbooks.  After cupcakes yesterday I really didn't want to eat something super sweet but I wasn't feeling savory either.  So I looked to my newest cookbook (thank you Gillian!) ' Favorite Food at Home' by an Irish chef, Rachel Allen.  Alas, I found the lazy Sunday breakfast food:

                                                   Banana and Peanut Butter Muffins
Makes 12
  • 2 and 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c light brown sugar
  • 2 bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 crunchy peanut butter
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 c milk
1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a muffin pan with 12 paper cups.
2.  Place the flour, oats and baking powder in a bowl, mix together and set aside.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs, add the light brown sugar, mashed bananas, peanut butter and thee melted butter.  Stir to mix, then add the milk and stir to combined.  Add the dry ingredients and fold in gently, do not over mix.
3.  Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and bake for 18-24 minutes or until the tops spring back when gently touched.  Allow to stand in the muffin pan for a minute before turning out to cool on a wire rack.

These muffins were filling enough to eat with a little butter on the side and a cuppa joe.  They were pretty tasty!

We then went to meeting and decided afterwards to go for a hike while the weather is so nice!  We had ulterior motives in doing the hike: 1) we want to get in shape and 2) we recently bought a new camera and have decided to try it and all of its' settings out.  It was windy and a bit cold but overall a nice hike. Here are a few pics from our hike.

Hope you all have a great remaining Sunday!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Windy with cupcake gusts

We were invited to a party with the request to bring cupcakes.  Apparently that is all people were asked to bring.  When we got there I couldn't believe my eyes!  It was cupcake madness! 

There were black forest, German chocolate, chocolate with peanut butter frosting, very small ones and even one VERY large one.  There were several lovelies that I adored and had to take pictures of. 

the center is an oreo cookie!

So I devised a plan: a couple of friends and I took it upon ourselves to sample as many as possible by  splitting them up amongst ourselves.  It was the least we could do and the most we could eat before going into a diabetic coma (not funny but a true possibility).  It seems I won the cupcake jackpot so... I was pretty happy.  Still am. 

Blondie Cupcakes

I made 'Blondie Cupcakes' with classic cream cheese frosting.   I've never made these but found that they were really easy to make with a few basic ingredients.  Some of my favorites?  Toffee bits, butterscotch chips and cashews.  To be honest, they were good but not my favorite.  I was just happy to have a reason to make a new cupcake. Here's the recipe if you want to try these babies out.

Blondie Cupcakes
Makes 12
  • 1 and 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/2 cup unsalted cashews, coarsely chopped (3 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup toffee bits
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degree F.  Line standard muffin tin with paper liners.  Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
2.  With an electric mixer on medium- high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture- beat until incorporated.  Fold in butterscotch chips, toffee bits and cashews by hand.
3.  Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.  Bake, rotating halfway through, until golden brown and cake tester inserted comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached (but is not wet) , about 30 minutes ( I would say 25).  Transfer tin to a wire rack to cool completely before removing cupcakes.  Cupcakes can be stored up to 5 days at room temperature in airtight containers.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I heart blogs

I'm always talking about this blog that or that blog this.  Someone brought it to my attention that I read a lot of blogs.  Yes.  Yes I do.  Now I have more of a reason to.  Here are a few more (in addition to the ones I've already listed) blogs I find terribly interesting AND inspiring.  I'm not sure what I want to create next.  Check these out for a little inspiration, if so willing.   (more recipes than I could possibly dream of)  (about a traveling girl, the food she comes in contact with on the way)  (another do-it-yourself / home-improvement site that's just my style)  (a vegetarian-based blogs with delicious recipes and equally delicious photos)

P.S.  I found many more but figured I would share them with you later ( if you don't find them yourself first!)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A lazy Sunday breakfast

     To me, Sundays are the new Friday.  I'm making it a "thing."  I used to have Fridays off and would either choose to stay at home in my PJ's and be lazy-sticks OR I would get dressed up in my dressed-up-casual-clothes (code: not scrubs) and head out of the house to shop and run errands.  However, that no longer applies.  Fridays have become a work day one day out of the month and a service day the rest of the month.  No longer can I sleep in and leisurely laze around.  The same applies for Saturday.  But on Sunday...well, things have changed.  We used to have morning meeting but this year we are at 1:00.  Ah!  Now on Sunday, I have the possibility of sleeping in, staying in my PJ's for a couple hours (or not) skimming through some cookbooks, making us a "good breakfast" (NOT oatmeal or cold cereal) studying for meeting, going for  a walk, hike or bike ride THEN coming home and getting all dressed up for meeting.  Then after meeting we still have a few hours of light to do whatever we want.  It's always an enjoyable day.
      I chose to tell you all of this so I could share with you another of my favorite and super easy recipes, one I made today in fact.  I get to make them on Sundays now so I thought maybe you would like to as well. The recipe today is from: The All New All purpose Joy of Cooking cookbook.  It has this to say about a Dutch Baby (no not a literal human baby).  "Sometimes called a German or puff pancake, this batter is poured into a skillet looking like a heap of scrambled eggs and emerges from the oven puffed and wondrously golden.  Serve this straight from the oven with a dusting of powdered sugar, a spoonful of the best fruit preserves you can lay your hands on, or some sliced fruit sauteed in butter and splashed with brandy or dark rum."  I couldn't have said it any better.  Behold, the Dutch Baby.

Dutch Baby
(makes one 10-inch cake, 2-4 servings)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
Whisk together until smooth:
  • 1 /2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temp
Melt 4 tbsp of unsalted butter in a 10-in ovenproof skillet (cast iron is ideal) over medium heat.  Tilt the pan so that the butter coats the sides.  Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and cook, without stirring, for 1 minute.  Place the skillet in the oven and bake until the pancake is puffed and golden 12-15 minutes.  Serve immediately, for the pancake loses its puff, and therefore drama, almost immediately.

P.S.  That is the exact recipe from the book.  I have done a few things differently and it still worked out great.  I actually use a 9-in.  glass pie plate and melt the butter in the plate in the microwave.  I then skip the step of pouring the mix into the pan and cooking it on top the oven.  After melting the butter, I pour the mix into the pan and place it straight into the oven.  Also I prefer to use salted butter for more flavor.  FYI:  I've also made the toppings and sauces recommended and they have all been great.  The Dutch Baby can also stand alone.  If you try this out I hope you love it as much as we do!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Oh the places I could go...

if I wanted to.  January is over now and what do I have to show for it?  Darker circles under my eyes, a few more pounds that decided to take a nap on me and less time in the day to do what I really want to.  Other than those things, I really don't have a whole lot more to show for it, not really.  To be completely honest, it kind of makes me sad.  I was so optimistic about the new year and all of the exciting things to come with it. Then somewhere between now and then I lost my wind in these sails. 
     I'm not sure if you've heard, but it's February and things are lookin' up for ol' Whitney.  Since Aaron has been laid off we've been able to spend more time together, especially over the weekend when I don't work.  We've been able to spend time with each other in service and today we took a quick, last-minute trip to Medford.  It was exactly what I needed.  I feel a little lighter and a lot less stir crazy just by getting out of our beautiful and amazing  (sarcasm...SARCASM) town for a day .  We had some of our dearest friends join us and we went everywhere.  We shopped, we ate, we tested beers, we shopped some more and came home.  It wasn't much but it was exactly what I needed.  Fun was had by all and we girls came home with some goodies.  Hope you are all doing well and having a delicious February so far!