April 24, 2009

Light & Crispy Coconut Almond Granola

breakfast this AM

I watched an episode of Martha Stewart last night and saw them making granola. I had no idea how easy it was! Although I didn’t follow the recipe they made on the show, I used the fundamental steps and a combo of what I had laying around in my pantry and I am happy with the results!

It’s really crispy & light—not super dense like some granolas can be. The coconut is yummy and the slivered almonds make me swoon. The taste of it all kinda reminds me of Honey Bunches of Oats cereal-but with a little kick from the ground ginger! I guess what I was excited by most- was the fact that there infinite combos to granola making. Now I can channel some of my inner hippy and go nuts.

This is what I came up with last night:

i made granola last night

-2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
-1/2 cup slivered almonds
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/2 cup sweetened coconut
-1/4 cup maple syrup
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix ingredients together throuroughly & spread out on a large rimmed cookie sheet. Put it in the oven and stir every 10 minutes. 40 minutes total.

enjoy! I’ll let you know what I come up with next. Or if you have a good combo, let me know!

April 20, 2009

Lemony Asparagus Tart

smothering with lemon oil mixture

I am not sure why I made this this afternoon. I had 2 lbs of asparagus in my fridge that I planned to use for an asparagus soup … I JUST cleaned up my kitchen, made it all sparkling clean and decided that I needed to bake something! I guess it was like the equivalent of needing a cigarette break…but in baking form. I can seriously destroy a clean kitchen within seconds!

I find that focusing on executing a recipe really helps clear my head…. Because I am a mother, my thoughts are consumed with WHAT DO I NEED TO PACK IN THE DIAPER BAG? BABY LAUNDRY! NAP TIME! FEEDING TIME! not to mention working, maintaining a household and a marriage! I find that in these 20 minutes or so of baking and measuring, I am at complete peace. It is the calm to my storm.

The best part of it is that I have something to show for it!

This tart was DELICIOUS. It would be a great appetizer…a main course paired with a nice salad…could be a hearty snack….shared with someone special. It also could be a decoration on your kitchen counter that you slowly pick at throughout the afternoon…I might have some experience with that.

The lemon really makes the asparagus pop! It has a nice tang to it and the cheese makes it super creamy. Pair that all with a crispy puff pastry and we are getting down to business. I am excited to make this again and experiment! I’m thinking of adding some mushrooms…or swapping cheese with something else like pesto?

ingredient porn

this is for the dough lover in my life

Also must mention how happy the symmetry of asparagus makes me!

all lined up and ready to go

and I get dibs on the end piece!

fresh from the oven!

Lemony Asparagus Tart

(adapted from an Everyday Food Recipe)

-1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough
-5 oz. shredded Gruyere cheese
-1 lb. asparagus
-zest of 1 lemon
-1 tablespoon of lemon juice
-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-Salt & pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

2. Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with Gruyere. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over Gruyere, alternating ends and tips. Mix lemon juice, lemon zest & oil together in a small bowl. Brush the asparagus with the oil mixture oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

Looks so cute all cut up huh?

asparagus tart train

April 14, 2009

Coconut Cake!

Lots to report from this past weekend-

Let’s start with the cake first even though it was the last thing I did.

happy easter to you all!

My neighbor and I made little nests that were chocolate covered chow mein noodles fashion from a mini muffin tin. Totally cute huh? I decided to put them on top of the cake and plop some Robin’s Egg candies in them. I also bought this edible grass from Target. It was apple flavor & yummy!

here’s the insides:

don't look inside.  it makes me self conscious.

It was my first time making this 7 minute frosting and I was impressed! It’s incredibly light & fluffy and somewhat guilt free.

stiff peaks!

The cake was a hit! I had two pieces on Easter night (shhh! don’t tell)
It’s really fluffy and light. It’s like eating coconut clouds.

scarfing down that cake

Coconut Layer Cake

recipe from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook


-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
-2 cups sugar
-4 large eggs, at room temperature
-1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
-1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1 cup milk
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract


-3/4 cup milk
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 seven-ounce package sweetened, shredded coconut
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-3 egg whites
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-1/2 cup cold water
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

(for the cake)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F Grease and lightly flour three 9 x 2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.

2. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine the flours and add in four parts, alternating with the milk and the vanilla extract, beating well after each addition. Divide the batter among the cake pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

(for the filling)

1. In a medium-size saucepan, whisk the milk with the sugar and the flour until thoroughly combined. Cook and stir constantly over medium-high heat (about 5 minutes) until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and add the coconut. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover and cool to room temperature.

2. When cake has cooled, spread half the filling between the first two layers of cake, then the other half between the second and third layers. The cake should be assembled so it can be iced as soon as the frosting is completed.

(for the frosting)

1. In an electric mixer bowl, combine the egg whites and the vanilla extract and set aside. In a medium-size saucepan over high heat, combine the water with the sugar and the cream of tartar. As mixture begins to bubble at edges, stir once to make sure the sugar is dissolved completely, then let come to a rolling boll (about 2 to 3 minutes) and remove immediately from heat.

2. Now, in a medium-size bowl, on the medium-high speed of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and the vanilla extract with the whisk attachment until foamy, about 1 minute.

3. Without turning off mixer, pour the sugar syrup into the beaten egg whites in a thin, steady stream. Continue beating constantly, on medium-high speed, for about 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form but frosting is still creamy. Frost top and sides of cake immediately. Generously sprinkle top with shredded coconut.


Also this weekend…..

We worked on our vegetable garden!

day 2

We are growing the following tomatoes:
-Sun Gold
-Heartland VFN
-Better Boys

-Sweet Basil
-Thai Basil

It’s the first time I’ve had my own vegetable garden and I am pretty stoked. I really hope it does well! I can’t wait for all of the caprese salads this summer! And maybe I’ll make some Thai Basil Chicken too!

Wish me luck!

While Casey worked on the planting box, I grilled us some sandwiches.


Hot Italian Sausage with Grilled Onions, Eggplant, Zucchini, Provolone, Basil & Mustard. It was a well deserved treat for all the work.

We had Easter dinner at my parents house:

my plate


And Cooper celebrated his first Easter! He’s 6 months old now!!!!

He celebrated by making out with his Easter Duck

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday! I know I did.

April 10, 2009

Fig Crumble

fig prep

Seriously good folks. SERIOUSLY good. Everything I love in a pie (the crust) without the intense work of making a pie! The figs are perfectly sweet and that crunch. THAT CRUNCH. OMG. The buttery-ness of that crumble…the sweet little hint of sugar…the bite! I am in love.

with a crumble bar!!!

Make it. It’s FANTASTIC! I am envisioning warming some up and scooping some vanilla gelato on top!


bottom crust

mmmm a crispy edge

cutting was pretty easy

for the neighbors

Fig Crumble Bar
(Everyday Food Recipe)

-3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
-2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
-1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
-8 ounces dried Calimyrna figs (about 1 1/2 cups), stems removed
-3/4 cup apple juice
-1 teaspoon grated lemon zest


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan; line bottom and two sides with a strip of parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang. Butter paper; set pan aside.

2. In a food processor, pulse together 2 cups flour and 1 cup sugar. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer half of mixture to prepared pan; with lightly floured fingers, press firmly into bottom. Set aside. Shape remaining mixture into large, moist clumps; transfer topping to a bowl, and set aside. Wipe food processor bowl clean.

3. Make filling: In food processor, blend figs, apple juice, lemon zest, and remaining 2 tablespoons each flour and sugar until a thick paste forms.

4. Using a small offset spatula or table knife, spread filling over crust. Sprinkle with topping. Bake until topping is golden brown, 60 to 65 minutes.

5. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cool completely. Using paper overhang, lift crumble from pan, and transfer to a cutting board; cut into 20 bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.

***I used SALTED butter for this recipe because I love that salty sweet combo. It’s fantastic. I also didn’t have apple juice, so I used a Mango Passionfruit juice instead. It worked out great! I think the point is just to be able to lubricate the figs enough to make a paste and add some subtle sweetness. So if you don’t have apple juice, substitute it with something else!***

April 6, 2009

overindulge much?

let’s take a little peak of my weekend of overindulging, shall we?

it started off with Dynamo Donuts in SF….

just a little sample


April 3, 2009

Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk

jamie oliver's lemon milk chicken

There’s been a bunch of buzz on this recipe lately, and I wanted to get in on the action! On a whim, I decided to pick up a whole chicken on our afternoon walk. I’m so glad I did.

This recipe was super easy. The prep is a snap! If I can do it with a teething baby in the background, then anyone can.

The results are fantastic. It will be in your rotation in no time. It’s officially on mine!

The sauce is SOOO good. And the best part is that there is A LOT OF IT. We actually brought the pot up to the table and dipped our pieces right in (gross I know, but come on!). If you make this, you will know exactly why.

The major herbal/flavor ingredients- Garlic, Lemon & Sage (cinnamon not pictured)

other ingredients

After browning, I put it in the oven with the lid on for the first 30 minutes.
Then I took it off for the rest of the time.

into the oven you go

Chicken in Milk

(recipe from Jamie Oliver)

-1- 3 lb. organic chicken
-salt and freshly ground black pepper
-1 stick butter
-1/2 cinnamon stick
-1 good handful fresh sage, leaves picked
-2 lemons, zested
-6 garlic cloves, skin left on
-1 pint milk


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and find a snug-fitting pot for the chicken. Season it generously all over with salt and pepper, and fry it in the butter, turning the chicken to get an even color all over, until golden. Remove from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and throw away the butter left in the pot. This will leave you with tasty sticky goodness at the bottom of the pan, which will give you a lovely caramel flavor later on.

Put your chicken back in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, and cook in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours with the lid on. Baste with the cooking juice when you remember. The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce, which is absolutely fantastic.

To serve, pull the meat off the bones and divide it on to your plates. Spoon over plenty of juice and the little curds. Serve with wilted spinach or greens and some mashed potato.

dinner tonight

I served it with some smashed potatoes & a salad with a lemon-poppy seed vinaigrette. I took some of the garlic from the pot of chicken, squeezed it out of the skins and mixed it with the smashed potatoes. Scrumptious! This is how Friday night dinners are supposed to. A good way to start the weekend, don’t you think?

March 29, 2009

Lemon Layer Cake

happy birthday to my bro

All week I was thinking about how I was going to make my brother, Ryan a lemon cake for his birthday. I also wanted to make it extra special and have his face on it. I found a recipe in the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook for the cake…and decided on skipping the lemon curd and used lemon pudding instead.

Casey totally hooked me up and helped me with the face part. Look at the stencil!

the stencil

It seriously makes me laugh every time I look at it…the stencil is sitting in our kitchen still and I feel like I would be so sad if I threw it out. The image was adapted from a photograph, and it’s likeness is spot on!


It started off with a lemon cake…all frosted and nice. Then a photo…some Photoshopping…and some slick Exacto skills from my husband. First there was some preliminary testing…which caused us to add skewers on all side of the stencils for support. Dusted the top with cocoa powder after covering the cake in Saran Wrap.

Filled in the parts that were left on to connect the stencil together…and tada! A few hours well spent, I’d say.

Let’s take a peak at the filling…

lemon pudding filling

I added some strawberries on the sides

side swiped

We were filled with sooo much excitement driving this cake to my parent’s house. When you have something this funny, it’s really hard to contain the joy. It was a hit! My brother loved it and so did my parents.

cutting into ryan

After we dug into it, Casey commented “Ryan is half the man he used to be.” We got a good chuckle off that.

As for the cake…it was very tasty! The cake part wasn’t as moist as I hoped, but I think it was due to my leaving it in the oven too long. The pudding inside turned out wonderful. I was nervous about taking a gamble, but it all worked out! The frosting was soooo good too. Another cake down! Hmmm what cake to bake next?

Lemon Layer Cake

serves 10

(adapted from Magolia Bakery Cookbook)

For the Cake:
– 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
– 2 cups sugar
– 4 large eggs, at room temperature
– 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
-1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-3/4 cup milk
-1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
-2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and lightly flour three 9-by-2-inch round cake pans, then line the bottom with waxed paper.

To make the cake: In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Combine the flours and add in four parts, alternating with milk and lemon juice and zest, beating well after each addition. Divide batter among cake pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

For the Filling
-1 package JELL-O Instant pudding (the smallest box)
-1 3/4 cup milk (or whatever it calls for to make the Pie filling recipe)

Follow the direction on the box for Pie filling. Make sure you do this well in advance. Make sure you put an even amount of frosting on each layer. I kinda skimped on the first layer and was annoyed by it!

For the Lemon Buttercream Frosting:
-2 sticks unsalted butter (room temp)
-8 cups of powdered sugar
-1 teaspoon lemon zest
-1/2 cup lemon juice

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of sugar and juice, then the zest. Beat until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, one cup at a time until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. (It took me less that 5 cups to get to this point). Use and store at room temperature.

When cake has cooled, spread the pudding evenly between layers and frost the outside of the cake with the buttercream frosting.

Makes 1 three-layer 9-inch cake.