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Every morning, my dad wakes up and makes a pot of oatmeal for my mom and himself. Well, not this week, because my mom and I are on a no-simple-carbs kick, but in general, that’s what my dad does. BIIIIG bowl of oatmeal, half an apple, half a banana, handful of raisins, yogurt, milk, and some normal dry cereal for crunch. I keep telling him he’s eating a good half-day of calories in one bowl, but he just laughs at me and walks away.

Every morning, my dad wakes up and makes a pot of oatmeal for my mom and himself. And he leaves half an apple and half a banana on the counter every morning. Sometimes it gets eaten later in the day. Sometimes it gets eaten the next morning. But we go through a lot of bananas. And most of the time, I am saved the gag-reflex of the brown bananas (can you tell I’m not a fan?), but occasionally, like this weekend, there are a few that get forgotten and turn from yellow, to yellow-and-brown-spotted, to black.

Of course, yucky as I think overripe bananas are, I think they are wonderful in brown bread form. My mom has a recipe for banana bread that she swears by…I think it’s dry and kind of boring, but maybe it’s because I grew up with it. So for kicks, and partly because we have a bunch of buttermilk hanging out in the fridge, I tried a new recipe. Rocking the whole wheat flour this time around (no-simple-carb-kick I might be on…but whole wheat makes it better, right? Right?!), and the buttermilk makes the bread suuuuuuper fluffy. I think it could do with a little less butter and a little more flour, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Speaking of bananas, has anyone ever seen the skit Demetri Martin does on bananas?

Banana Bread

  • 2 c. flour (I did half white/half whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 1/4 c. walnut oil (Walnut oil, my new baby). I guess you could use canola, grapeseed, coconut, or avocado.
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 3 suuuuuuuuuuper ripe bananas
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease two loaf pans.
  2. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Beat the butter, oil, and sugar together for a few bit.
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk until the batter is mostly mixed, but not completely.
  5. Mash the bananas with a fork.
  6. Add the dry ingredients, then the bananas. Don’t over-mix the batter. (I did this part by hand *gasp*)
  7. Pour the batter into the pans. Bake 30 minutes and then check the center. You can increase the time to 45 minutes if needed, but be careful you don’t end up with crumbly banana bread.

Today is a sweatpants and sweatshirt day. And a sportsbra. And running shoes. And ponytale. And no makeup. Yesterday was a sweatpants and sweatshirt day. And a sportsbra. And running shoes. And ponytale. And no makeup. Friday was a sweatpants and sweatshirt day. And a sportsbra. And running shoes. And ponytale. And no makeup.

Are you seeing a trend? The thing I like about sweatpants is the anonymity they give me. And the anonymity they give my ass. There is something comforting about not giving a flip how I look. And comfy/not form fitting makes me feel better about the beer weight from A’dam that won’t.go.away. The black sweats I’m wearing today are kind of dancer-esce, so I feel somewhat stylish, despite the grunge. (I see you laughing at me. Silence….Mortal) and these pants are warm, a comfort given the fact that we got three feet of snow yesterday.

But why is she wearing sweatpants? you ask. This is Chantalle, the girl who has successfully survived 7.5 semesters of university with only 1 – I repeat – ONE sweatshirt-to-class day in the entirety of said schooling. Chantalle doesn’t wear sweats. Say, screw makeup? Yeah, she does that. Often. But she does. not. wear. sweats.

You would think there would be a good explanation – having the sniffles, no clean clothes, woke up late, massive hangover – but no, I’m tired of being alive-ish. Not in an “I want to curl up and die” sense, heavens no no no. More like, I’m tired of getting up early, tired of running at the gym, tired of doing my homework, tired of eyeliner, tired of counting calories.

Talk about a productivity cramp, right? The logical thing would be to go on a vacation, snap out of it. But who am I to be logical? That’s just crazy talk. I make crackerjack popcorn instead, overdose on the caramel part, and then take a four hour nap to escape the sugar-induced nausea. At least, that was my approach on Friday. And Saturday. Today, there are two pieces of caramel choco popcorn in the tin and I’m feeling a tad bit guilty. My recourse? I’ll leave them there and blame my dad for eating all of the popcorn.

Crackerjack Popcorn

Medium sauce pan
cookie sheet, lined with wax paper (butter/grease this)
double boiler
candy thermometer or a bowl of cool water

A couple words of note:

  • This recipe is great for parties, Christmas presents, or general snacking needs.
  • If you like peanuts, crush some up and add it to the caramel before pouring it over the popcorn.
  • Be sure to grease the waxed paper, unless you like a little extra roughage with your crackerjacks.
  • Read the Science of Cooking: Candy-making Stages before you start. It’s a great reference for this and other candies and will help clear up any potential temp and candy-stage issues.

1/2 C popcorn kernels
1 T walnut/canola/avocado/coconut oil
1 T butter
1 tsp salt

  1. Heat the oil and butter in a pan until bubbling.
  2. Pour in popcorn, cover with lid, and move pan briskly over burner (you will hear the kernels start to pop after a few minutes) until popcorn has stopped popping.
  3. Remove from heat, sprinkle with salt. Spread popcorn over waxed paper.
  4. Wash your sauce pan out for….

1/2 C white sugar
1/2 C milk or cream
5 Tbs. butter
3(ish) Tbs. agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Pour sugar, milk, and agave into sauce pan and heat on medium until just boiling.
  2. Add butter and whisk briskly.
  3. Use the candy thermometer to monitor how hot the caramel gets (you are aiming for 245-250 F, this is somewhere between firm- and hard-ball stage). This part is crucial – DO NOT touch the caramel because it is EXTREMELY hot and will do more than just burn you.
  4. If you are not using a candy thermometer, use your spoon to drop a bit of caramel into the cool water. Fish it out and check its consistency – you are looking for the caramel to be hard but malleable.
  5. Once the right temperature is reached, remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla.
  6. Spoon the caramel over the popcorn. You will most likely end up with clumps of caramel popcorn (you could try mixing it all in a greased bowl, but personally, I like the clumps).

1/4 C. milk chocolate pieces

  1. Heat the chocolate in the double boiler until liquid.
  2. Spoon over the caramel and popcorn.
  3. Let the whole thing cool.

Sometimes you have days when nothing works out how you want it.

And sometimes you have days when everything works out beyond all perfect rosy fantastical imagination.

I am going to tell you a tale. Of burned brownies. Of melted icing that wasn’t supposed to melt. Of a suuuper easy dinner recipe. But most importantly, I am going to tell you about Jesus in cake form.

But to reach such an important point for humanity, one must first hear of the trials and tribulations I endured yesterday. The brownie day. It was one of my flatmates’ birthdays, so, since I happen to be the resident baking pro (HA!), I took it upon myself to make something sugary. I had the perfect plan – brownies. With home-made caramel and stroopwafels (a diiiiiiiivine Dutch cookie) in between. Topped with more caramel. And yes, they were quite good, once salvaged: I must admit, with shame, that in all my years of cooking, baking, and eating, I have NEVER burned something…until Holland. Damn toaster oven. Thankfully, all that was needed to salvage my brownies was a sharp knife – cut the top of the brownies off, and I leave caramel-drenched loveliness in my wake.

And then came dinner at my aunt’s. My aunt is a fucking genius at cooking. She doesn’t know it, but the secret to her genius lies in the massive, copious, heart-attack-inducing amounts of butter she uses. For dinner, I asked for “Kabeljouw met Mosterdsaus,” Dutch-speak for “Cod with Mustard Sauce,” a fabulous feast that is so easy my Dad could do it. Actually, I take it back. He can’t. He’s tried. But he’s kind of hopeless with cooking. Kidding, but not really.  🙂  I degress – the dish is actually quite easy: butter, half an onion, some lemon juice, peppercorns, and a bay leaf – melt and mix, then add cod fillets and steam. Mustard sauce is also easy – Hollandaise sauce with some white wine, a couple tablespoons of stoneground mustard, a tablespoonish of dijon mustard, a little bit of the fish broth. Eat with potatoes and shredded beets – beets, finely chopped onions, lemon juice, salt, pepper, vinegar. YUM.

And then later that evening came Booze Brownies, a Christmas tradition and a gnawing craving I’ve been fighting for the past week. Brownies, soaked in bourbon, covered in an icing of powdered sugar, rum, and butter, drizzled (or in this case, drenched) with melted chocolate. But see, the only place I went wrong was timing – so impatient to get my drunk on was I, that I did not wait for the brownies to cool, thus melting the butter in the icing…whatever, they were still pretty bomb.

But the real, true reason for this post is due to the cake my dear Rosa requested we make tonight. I appeared this evening to do dinner with my girls. Rosa took the ingredients I brought for dinner and whipped up an ah-mazing dinner of salad and gnocci w/red pesto, pepper, tomato, and onion, while Sonia did all the dishes in her kitchen – none of which were her’s (this girl is awesome) – and I attackd Rosa’s ingredients to make the cake. Armed with 400 grams (140z) of dark, swiss, gorgeous, rich, decadent, OMG chocolate, I tried a random recipe found online, stirred, whipped, whisked, and baked it. Poured still-hot ganache over it, and then, we ate.

I know I can never dream to copy down Rosa’s description of our experience verbatim, but I sure as hell am going to try. ***Warning: very graphic language to follow. Very necessary graphic language. Very truthful graphic language. No laughing, just awe.

Jesus. Fucking. Christ.
No, not Jesus Fucking Christ. I am fucking Christ.

This cake is tattooed arms and big dick good,
It is making out in the elevator I-Need-You-Now,
Wet before you hit the door,
Hard, pounding sex,
Soft and sweet,
Fast and hard,
The combination of all the sex I’ve had,

Earth-shattering, I can’t breathe,
I might have to go change my clothes,
Because I just came in my pants,
Chocolate Cake.

The only difference between this cake and sex is
I’m going to need more.

Rosa’s Chocolate Cake
Theoretically feeds 8. Realistically, 3…
Prep time: 20 min.
Cook time: 25 min.

  • 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour a 9 inch round cake pan.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler (or my make-shift bowl in a frying pan with simmering water), stirring until smooth. Cool slightly.
  3. Separate yolks and whites. Whisk yolks and sugar in large bowl until pale yellow. Mix in flour, then slowly add chocolate mixture (don’t dump it all in at once or the eggs will cook because of the heat from the chocolate. YUCK).
  4. Beat egg whites in another bowl until stiff but not dry (thanks to Sonia for beating the eggs by hand. My hero of the day).
  5. Fold the whites into chocolate mixture (I repeat, no all at once business. No cooking of the egg whites, por favor).
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean (approx 25 minutes). Cool. Run knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Turn cake out onto platter.

Enter ganache.

Simple Chocolate Ganache
Prep time: 2 min.
Cook time: 10 min. + 30 min. cool-down time

  • 4 T (ish) Butter
  • 7-8 0z. Chocolate
  • 1/4 C. (ish) Cream
  1. In a double boiler (or bowl in a pan with hot water, as I intimated before), melt the chocolate.
  2. Add the cream until happily melted and combined to smooth perfection.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Let cool. You may pour it over the cake now or spread it later. Either way, it’ll taste beyond lovely and that’s all that matters.

I submit: Who needs sex when you can have this cake? Seriously. Who?

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.  This is the first month of Daring Baker’s for me, and it was a doozy!

For this challenge, we had the option of two different pasta frolla recipes.  I chose Version 1, which was a simple mixture of sugar, flour, lemon zest, butter, egg and salt.  This choice was based, unfortunately, on a single element: time.  This one came together with the fewest ingredients and in such a short amount of time.  One note, not sure if it was because the winter air leeched the moisture out of my ingredients, or if there is just not enough liquid in the recipe, but I ended up adding about 2 Tbsps of cold water to get it to come together.  To fill, we were allowed to go crazy.  I decided to settle on a simple raspberry preserve with the juice of a lemon.

Raspberry Crostatta

3/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 and 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
grated zest of half a lemon
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
2 Tbsps cold water
21 ounces of raspberry preserves
Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Combine flour, powdered sugar and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add butter and rub/cut into flour mixture
  3. Add in beaten eggs and zest in a well in the center of the flour mixture (I kept mine all in the bowl, but it can be done straight on the counter top) and mix in with a fork until everything is moistened.  Here is where I added in my water, a tablespoon at a time, and began to lightly knead with my hands.
  4. At this point, create a ball of dough, and then cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. After the dough has been chilled, retrieve from the fridge and unwrap.  Mine was stiff enough that I needed to use a combination of my hands and my rolling pin to force it out (gently) into a circle large enough to cover the bottom of my 9 inch cake pan.
  7. Once the dough was rolled out, I placed it in the pan and pushed to the edges.  After pinching off the excess dough that peeked over the rim of the pan, I pricked the bottom of the tart pan multiple times to prevent from any bubbles or uneven puffing from forming along the bottom.
  8. Place the preserves and lemon juice in a small pot on the stove and heat until pourable.  Pour into pan, and spread to even out.  At this point, the excess dough can be rolled out and cut into shapes to be place on the top of the crostatta.  For example, a U!
  9. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until pastry is a golden brown.  Allow to cool for a least an hour, or until set, and then serve!

Well.  Here begins yet another week.  And, I’m soooo not ready for it.  Although, I do have something very fun to look forward to in the middle of it.  Yup, its my BIRTHDAY! Wooo! Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I can say, I’m pretty disappointed that SOMEONE isn’t going to be joining me for it on this side of the pond, but since I can’t make it to hers a few days later, I won’t be too upset about it.

Anyways, because life is stressful with the end of the semester no longer creeping, but instead sprinting full speed, towards me, I’ve been baking like a fiend.  These are delicious, beautiful, and super-crazy simple.  Although, don’t make them too big, or your Pakistani friends won’t be able to eat them because they’re too rich. This is super fun, with a ba-gillion different ways to make it. I’ve already done a spicy chocolate chip, as well as an oatmeal butterscotch and milk chocolate chip cookie.  These….weren’t my favorite.  I (sort of) liked them, but there are a few things I wanted to change about them.  Like the dough.  And the filling.  Maybe I should try a whole new recipe?  I’ve done some other, naughtier, things, but I’ll give you a whole post for that.

But here has been my favorite sweet treat from the last few weeks.  It’s crazy simple (provided you have the caramels) and I could see it being doubly delicious (but a little more time consuming) if you wanted to make your own caramel.  But, of course, I have a couple things to change.  1) Don’t use as much chocolate (I know, blaspheme).  It overwhelmed the taste of the rest of the ingredients. 2) I would increase the size of the oatmeal cookie portion by half (so a total of 1 1/2 batches) because there wasn’t quite enough in my opinion. 3) Increase the caramel.  Mine oozed to sides, so there was only a little in the center, but a lovely amount on the edges.  By how much? Oh, maybe 18-20 oz. of caramels instead of just 14 oz. You’re call, really.

Oatmeal Chocolate Caramel Bars

from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

*Notes: These are the measurements from the original recipe.  I’ll make these again with my suggestions and post an update.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup melted butter

14 ounce bag of caramels
1/2 cup whipping cream or milk
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips*

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Mix the first six ingredients together and sprinkle half on the bottom of a 9X13-inch baking pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the caramels and whipping cream or milk in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave at 50% power, stirring often, until the mixture is smooth.
  3. When the bars have been removed from the oven, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crust and pour the melted caramel over the top.
  4. Sprinkle the rest of the crust over the top and bake in the oven for an additional 10-12 minutes, until the caramel is bubbling and edges are lightly browned. Cool the bars completely before serving so they can set up properly.

Guess what I did?!  I joined the ranks of the Daring Kitchen (just in case you somehow missed the title)!

Wow, how cool do I feel? Really cool. Like a legitimate blogger! Now if I could get someone aside from my best friend (who actually made the blog and posts more often than me) to read it…

Anyway, I’m super stoked for this upcoming Daring Baker’s challenge.  I think whole process is going to be very fun, pushing me to try out things outside of my comfort zone (you know, cookies, brownies and pasta).  I can’t wait to make Ammar help me with this one, even though I KNOW he’s going to complain the entire time.  Good thing I know he’s just kidding (or at least I hope so).

Now that I’ve announced that to the world, I am going to continue to waste some time.  Yes, I know I should be working on some French homework.  Or studying up for the next quiz in my Strategic Management class. Or, hell, even working on my thesis.  That bullshit REALLY needs to get done.  Instead, I shall write this lovely blog post, sharing some recipes and musics!

So as of right now, I’m in loooooooooooove with the Cold War Kids.  I just downloaded two of their albums (Loyalty to Loyalty and Robbers & Cowards) both of which are mind blowing.  Just lovely.  I’ve also popped back into the Dirty Projectors and discovered they’ve created an album with Bjork, which is tooooootally perfect for their vibe.  Some of my new favorites are:

On and Ever Onward – Dirty Projectors and Bjork

Saint John – Cold War Kids, Dr. Dog and Elvis Perkins

Another gal I’m digging the hell out of is Oh Land.  Amazing! She’s from Copenhagen, Denmark (I have a total soft spot for anything Danish now) and is sweet and lovely, with catchy lyrics and tunes.  White Nights and Son of a Gun are two of her’s floating around on the blogosphere.

As for recipes, I’ve got two very relaxed ones for you.  One was an easy one skillet meal and the other was a Lemon Pound Cake with Glaze.  Ammar and I made these last week, and both of them were delicious.  Although I must say, we spiced up the Chicken, Rice and Bean dish for the better by adding a habenero pepper, both of them were easily made and took little to no time.  The only thing on the pound cake is let it cool before you eat it, because warm it tastes too eggy for me.  However, once cooled, I didn’t get that at all.

Red Chile Chicken with Rice and Black Beans

From My Kitchen Cafe

*I felt like mine could have used a little more broth (maybe 1/4-1/3 cup more) and as noted above, I added a habenero pepper to turn up the heat a little bit.

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1.5 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 habenero pepper, diced
1 ½ cups rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped green onions (about 3-4 green onions), roots and wilted outer leaves removed before chopping
Sour cream  and cheddar cheese for serving

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a medium-large heavy pot over medium heat. Sprinkle the diced chicken breast with salt and ½ tablespoon of the chili powder. Place the chicken in the hot oil and brown on all sides.  The chicken doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through. Once browned, remove from pan to a plate.

Add the second tablespoon of oil to the pot and add the onion, pepper and rice. Cook on medium-low, stirring for several minutes, until the rice turns from translucent to opaque. Add the garlic and the remaining 1 tablespoon chili powder. Cook one minute, and then add the broth (here is where I might add a bit more broth to prevent from a gummy texture) and salt (between 1/2 to 1 teaspoon) to taste. Stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken to the pot along with the beans, give it all a good stir. Recover the pot and cook on low for 10-12 minutes longer, taking care that the mixture isn’t cooking to hot or else it will burn on the bottom.

Sprinkle the green onions and test a kernel of rice. It should be tender, in which case you can sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the dish, place the cover back on, remove it from the heat and let it stand 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. If it’s not cooked, cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring and checking often to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn.

Serve with salsa and sour cream.

I have no idea what’s wrong with me.  I started out the day just fine.  Got up, got a silly boy a ticket to a football game, went to the gym, worked out, went back home, showered, got ready, went to my parents’ house, and watched some football.   The Utes beat Wyoming 30 to 6 and TCU spanked BYU (31 to 3).  All in all it was a good kind of day.  But somewhere along the way I got grumpy.  Really grumpy.

So now that I’ve made it home all I can do is find things to bitch about.  Things my roommate does, things the people who are in my group for MGT 5700 do (or don’t do), things I do.  Sheesh, its hard being me.  So I’ve decided to sit down and chow down on the leftover cookie dough from last night.  And speaking of last night, I made cookies.

And I found a nice chill song to try and mellow out to while I catch up on recipes.

http://silencenogood.net/electronica/lionheart-by-emancipator

 

 

Now that you have that to bake to here you are!  The recipe that I adapted last night for oatmeal(ish) cookies.  This is nothing like the oatmeal recipe that I usually use (one of my mama’s) but it was a fun diversion from the norm.  And besides, I couldn’t find my mama’s recipe anywhere.

Spicy Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip and Walnut Cookies

Note: This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s version.  What I changed was instead of butter I used all vegetable shortening, walnuts instead of pecans, added 1/4 tsp. of both chili powder and chipotle powder instead of the cloves and orange zest.

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon chili powder and chipotle powder
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment or grease the cookie shet.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the shortening in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla, and beat until well mixed, about three minutes.
  3. Stir in eggs, one at a time.
  4. Add half of the flour and all of the salt, soda and spices to the creamed shortening with the mixer on low speed. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the second half.
  5. Stir in the oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Drop the dough, by the tablespoon, onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on a rack. Store at room temperature in a cookie jar or other airtight container.

Two nights ago, I was making brownies (IMO, they were good, but not good enough to repeat. My roommates claim otherwise…I won’t post the recipe, but I suggest pouring melted nutella over your next batch of brownies.) and my dear roommate Frans waltzed into the kitchen after having disappeared to Scandinavia for an entire week. Upon his appearance, I was suddenly reminded that, “Oh crap, Frans’ birthday is tomorrow.” Should I make a birthday cake?

And then I logged onto my beloved facebook, and what do you know? It’s Frans’ birthday on the 21st, but it’s also Txomin’s birthday! Let me reform that earlier question to a statement of joy: I’m making a birthday cake!!!!

The day of, however, I was feeling a little lazy, and you know that when Chantalle starts to get lazy, she takes shortcuts. Boxed cake. Premade Frosting. Pressurized Whip Cream. Okay, I did none of those. I did worse. I bought a cake. *extremely shame faced Talle* However, it was just a plain white cake that I bought (okay okay, I bought two) and I still made the frosting, which is really the best part of this cake anyway. If you need any further proof after reading the recipe, let me add that I live with 14 other people – this morning, there were two pieces of cake left. Now, there are none. This cake always wins.

Better Than Sex Cake

  • Prep time: 20 min.
  • Feeds: a lot of people. or not. you might eat the whole thing.
  • 2, 9″ round cake  pans (for presentation) or 1 long glass pan (for practicality)

1 boxed white cake mix

1 box instant vanilla pudding
1 C. water
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 C whipped cream
2 tsp almond extract (optional)

Fruit of your choice (fresh strawberries or peaches are my favorite, but mandarin oranges and pineapple are also fantastic)

The Steps!

  1. Bake the cake according to the directions (2 9″ rounds for presentation – remove from pans) or (1 long flat glass for practicality – leave it in the pan), let cool completely.
  2. Mix the water, pudding, condensed milk, and almond extract well. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.
  3. Mix whipped cream into pudding mixture, refrigerate again if needed.
  4. Spread a layer of the icing on the cake, put on a layer of fruit.
  • If you are using 2 round cakes, place the other on top. Ice again, another layer of fruit.
  • If you are using a long cake, do another layer of icing and more fruit.

And that’s it kiddies. If you have extra icing, you can save it for a bit (it goes wonderfully with strawberries or vanilla cookies). Refrigerate this bad boy until serving time and if there are leftovers (milk and cream spoil and that’s not cool with this cake around), but I doubt there will be. Oh, and the name of the cake? I’m not kidding on this one.  🙂

Another lovely transfer. This one was a massive hit for all my little NACURH conference kiddies, except for Sal, who nearly died when he discovered the white chocolate…apparently he abhors it. Sal is strange.

“So I just spent the past 30 minutes trying to hack into my account on a computer that is not mine – I can never remember my silly user name, and let’s not get started on passwords. That’s what the “remember my password” button is for, right? – and before  my superior hacking skills were enacted, I sat and stared at my own little laptop as the browser crashed Every.Time.I.Opened.Wordpress. Stupid Mac and its mystery bug. Time to go to the Apple Store, I guess.

Anyway, I have had a thoroughly frustrating couple days trying to get on here and SHARE! but success, I have finally managed to sneak on (how, I shall keep a secret hee hee) and I have a beautiful somewhat-made-up recipe to share. I say “made up” because part of the recipe is indeed a boxed cake mix and yeah, I decided to be lazy and buy icing, but you  have to begrudgingly allow me my lazy ways – 1. because the cupcakes turned out amazingly and 2. because I started baking at midnight with a 12-page paper due the next day, and not finished. Yes, I’m probably insane, and let’s not get into how late I slept in the next morning, but the cupcakes were divine.

Lemon Coconut Surprise Cupcakes

1 box lemon supreme cake mix (I suppose you could make one from scratch, but not at midnight)
1 Lemon, zested
1 Cup grated coconut
splash of coconut rum (I like Whaler’s, but I suppose you could use Malibu, if you HAVE to – side note, Whaler’s Coconut Rum is the best stuff EVAR)

1. Bake according to the box in cupcake molds or whatever they are called. Then cool. COMPLETELY

1/2 bag white chocolate chips (give or take)
2 Cups + shredded coconut
Lemon Icing

2. Using a  sharp knife, cut a circle in the top of a cupcake, pull out the middle and throw it away (or eat it, like me)

3. Place a few white chocolate chips in the center of the cupcake, replace the top, all sneaky-like

4. Spread  lemon icing on top, then dip in shredded coconut. Repeat for each cupcake

Ta-Da! Enjoy!”

So. I’m in Holland. Officially. Goodbye Utah, land of jello, SUVs, and Diet Coke. Hello Amsterdam, city of beer, pot, and bicycles. Life could not be more fun and exciting.

It’s rainy and cold outside today and I have many many pages of academic jargon to plow through for my classes on Monday, but I just can’t concentrate. I found a drool-worthy recipe for Nutella and Hazelnut Brownies last night (bell’alimento) and I’m dying to try them, but alas, I have no hazelnuts (not a suprise), no nutella (and yet I live in the land that eats it like candy), and no willpower to put on my rain gear and go pedalling to the grocery store to search for said items. And when I say search, I do not mean that metaphorically. I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies last week and COULD NOT find chocolate chips. So poor me, I had to cut up a bar of chocolate. And I threw in a bag of chocolate-covered hazelnuts (YUM). Sigh. Life is so hard.

But I digress. Moral of my longwinded sob story is that I have the baking bug again. So what to make? I landed on Apple Crisp, figuring that was a good route to take for three reasons: 1) I have a kilo of apples that NEED to be used; 2) I know the recipe by heart; and 3) because apple crisp is something my mom and I would make when it was yucky outside. Perfect.

Now, the only problem I encountered was yet another funny cultural cramp – the grocery stores close early here. We’re talking 8:00 at the latest. And yeah, I have all the ingredients for Apple Crisp, but it’s so much better with vanilla pudding (or dutch vla), ice cream, hell, even whipped cream. Of which I have, yep, none. Damn. So I made my own custard to go with. I’m so clever.

Apple Crisp

  • Feeds 4-6
  • Cook at 180 C/350 F
  • Time to prepare: 30 min.
  • Time to cook: 20-40 min. depending on altitude
  • a cake pan or pie plate work well for this recipe

1 1/4 C. flour

1/2 C. + 2 T brown sugar (I used dark sugar in the raw)

1/4 C. white sugar (the coarser the better)

1 stick of butter *

*if the butter isn’t salted, add a 1/2 tsp salt*

4-5 apples

1 tsp. vanilla

4 tsp Cinnamon

2 tsp nutmeg

a splash of lemon juice (optional)

The Steps!

  1. Wash, peel, and cut up the apples. You can slice or dice, or just take a knife and wing it. Keep it chunky and the pieces won’t stick together. Toss your apple pieces with lemon to keep them from going brown.
  2. Pour vanilla, 2 tsp Cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, and 2 T brown sugar onto apples and mix well. Pour the apples into the baking dish and spread them out so the bottom is covered.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, remaining spices, and sugar together. Cut the butter into chunks and using two dinner knives, cut the butter into the mixture (you could use your hands but keep in mind that your body heat will melt the butter slightly and the texture of your topping will change).
  4. Sprinkle the topping over the apples, covering everything as completely as possible. Cook!

Meanwhile, you can enjoy the lovely “baking apples” smell as you do the custard! This one is super easy, just don’t overheat.

Easy Vanilla Custard

  • feeds 4-6
  • time to make: 10 min.
  • time to cook: 5 min.

1 C. milk (skim, whole, soy, matters not)

1 T cornstarch

2 T sugar

2 tsp vanilla

2 egg yolks

The Steps!

  1. Mix the milk, cornstarch, vanilla, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to thicken.
  2. Cream the two egg yolks in a bowl, then pour a little of the milk mixture in, stir, pour more milk in, stir, repeat. (You do this to control how fast the eggs heat up. If you just pour them in, they’ll cook, and that’s icky in a custard)
  3. After you have successfully blended the eggs into the milk mixture, place back on the heat and cook for a minute or so. No boiling. Boiling is bad!   🙂

Serve the Apple Crisp hot, the custard can be served warm or chilled, whatever fits your fancy. Enjoy! I know I did (So did my flatmates)!