Let me start off with a few things.
1. I’m sorry for the two month hiatus – I could blame it on the holidays/weather/travel… but the truth is I was just in a blogging funk.
2. Due to the break, my next Month Through My Lens will be epic!
3. While I was away, I experienced some firsts. I celebrated New Years in NYC for the first time which could have been hectic and crazy, but was wonderful and perfect and one of the best New Years to date, and I went to Disneyland for the first time and freakin’ loved it! P.S. get Dole Whip (pineapple soft serve) early in the morning when there is a short line. I think it makes for a good breakfast.
4. Okay, time to get down to business… Valentine’s Day!
Some people are not fond of Valentine’s Day. Even in my early days when most of my friends had boyfriends to buy them cards or flowers or chocolate, I have always liked the holiday. Maybe it’s because my inner craft child gets to emerge and make fun cards for people. I always liked making cards for all the kids in my elementary school class, and then after college, I enjoyed getting together with girlfriends for a crafty day making valentines for whomever (the addition of mimosas or wine also made this craft day more exciting). Even now that I’m married, I still like sending cards to my girlfriends because who doesn’t like getting snail mail!?
Another thing people don’t mind receiving is chocolate. Since chocolate is a common gift on Valentine’s day, I have a recipe that will sure get you some extra lovin’ this Saturday. Skip the chocolate boxes from the drug store and give a box of these fudgy brownies.
Nice and crunchy on the top, dense and chewy on the inside. The walnuts add a nice crunch. If you don’t like nuts in your brownies, you can add chocolate chips, or just go plain.
It’s a known fact that holiday season = baking season. While your oven works overtime baking all types of cookies, bars and sweet treats, don’t forget about some trusty standbys. This banana bread is one of them. Of course it is a little dolled up with the brown butter, so it can totally be invited to the party with the gingerbread.
You can leave out the walnuts if you want, but I like having the crunch in the soft, moist bread. You can also add chocolate chips. I did both walnuts and chocolate chips in my second batch and oh man, it was crazy good. Definitely more on the sweet/dessert side, but I totally had some for breakfast too. Chocolate for breakfast is totally a thing in my book.
Above is after the batter is just mixed (don’t over-mix!) and the walnuts are mixed with the remaining flour. This is a little trick to help additions like nuts or chocolate chips not sink to the bottom of the bread while baking, but stay speckled throughout.
This bread is easy to throw together and makes your kitchen and house smell AMAZING as it bakes. Even if you aren’t a big banana bread fan, bake it anyway and give it as a gift so you can a) get the smell all up in your house, and b) the person you gift this to will love you forever.
This recipe only makes one loaf, but you can easily double the recipe to make two loafs. Continue reading
Once the leaves start to turn colors and the temperature starts to drop, the first thing that seems to pop up is not halloween costumes, but pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. Walking down the aisles of the grocery store, I’m pretty sure 1/4 of everything there is pumpkin spiced. Cookies, pasta sauce, coffee/tea, cream cheese, pancake batter, even mochi ice cream (you can find this at Trader Joe’s).
I won’t lie, I do love pumpkin flavored things… to an extent. I don’t need everything pumpkin flavored, but there is something comforting about a nice pumpkin bread or muffins. So recently I made some pumpkin chocolate chip bread (one loaf flew all the way to the West Coast) that left me with some leftover pumpkin puree. I couldn’t let it go to waste, so I made some pumpkin scones. These turned out a little cake-ier, more like a mix between a scone and a muffin top. Not that there is anything wrong with that – just wanted to let you know.
Using a pastry cutter to cut in the butter into the dry flour mixture. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can use two knives, a fork, or your fingers. If you use your fingers, work quickly so the butter doesn’t warm up too much.
Dry ingredients, wet ingredients, and orange zest.
An ice cream scooper works perfectly for making similar sized scones.
Perfect warm or room temp! Continue reading
Every year, my mom’s side of the family gets together for a big Passover seder. On average, there are 50 family members that attend, and it turns into a big holiday/family reunion. We all pitch in and spend Friday and Saturday making different dishes for the seder. A while back, the family put together a cookbook of all the family recipes, including photos that date back to the 1920’s, and illustrations by my cousin Mark.
Bessie is standing on the far right. This cover photo was from 1922. Bessie stands with her two brothers and her parents. Bessie was the matriarch of the family by the time I was old enough to remember Passovers. She was an amazing lady, and is always dearly missed during our family seders.
The past three or four years, I have taken over the task of baking the sponge cake. We still use Bessie’s exact recipe for it has never failed us and is the perfect ending to our seder. The recipe is simple to put together and a delicious kosher treat for your seder, during passover week, and really, anytime. You just have to get your hands on two unique ingredients: matzoh meal and potato starch, and you are good to go!
You can find really long loaf pans (even longer than the pan on the left) to bake this as one loaf. Or divide it into two pans. Remember to cut parchment paper so it lays flat on the bottom as seen above. Continue reading
In honor of the brief break from the fourth, maybe fifth (I’ve lost track) polar vortex that has plagued the East Coast, and because it was 57 degrees today (woohoo!) I bring you these delicious strawberry blackberry oat bars. These strawberries and blackberries had been in the fridge for a bit and were looking a little wrinkly, so instead of tossing them, they went to good use.
Mix the berries with the sugar and corn starch first. This gives the fruit time to release their juices. Continue reading
Who doesn’t love rice crispy treats?!? I mean, come on… what isn’t there to love about crispy cereal mixed with melted marshmallows and butter. NOTHING!
This is a slightly amped up version of the classic. Melt the butter until it takes on a nutty aroma, add some flaky sea salt to the melty goodness, stir in your cereal and bam, a sweet treat in about five minutes! The cooling process is also sped up when you can stick them outside in zero degree weather (we are having another polar vortex here in Pennsylvania). Continue reading
As I have mentioned on this blog, I am from Seattle. I grew up with a little mix of girly/sporty. And as the father of two girls, I’m sure my dad appreciated the sporty side in me. Growing up, I have really fond memories of going to baseball games with my dad. Over the years, we have attended not only baseball games, but Sounders games (soccer), University of Washington football, basketball, and softball games, and Seahawks games.
I know this sounds like a sports post, but don’t worry… there will be food. Promise.
Over the years, Seattle sports teams have had highs and lows, moved away (yes I’m still bitter about the Sonics moving to Oklahoma City), and gone through many many changes. In 2005, the Seahawks made it to the Super Bowl, only to lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Besides Seattle’s two WNBA titles by the Storm, only the 1979 SuperSonics have brought a Championship title back to the city… that is until 3 weeks ago. Under the poise of 2nd year quarterback Russell Wilson, the Beast Mode of Marshawn Lynch, our unstoppable Legion of Boom Defense, and the best fans in the NFL – the 12th man, the Seattle Seahawks crushed the Denver Broncos and brought the Lombardi Trophy to Seattle.
Now, to the food part. For the past 5 years, I have been making cupcakes for Super Bowl parties. I always frost the teams logos on the top who make it to the big game. It’s a fun cooking and art project for me as I have to plan out the frosting colors, the design, and how it will fit on a cupcake! Here is a look back on some of the cupcakes from past Super Bowls.
New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts
Now that’s a football play.