Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back to Breakfasts

Cheese grits and bacon bits

Do people eat grits in the Pacific NW? I don't see them often in grocery stores here. My family loves grits...It has a slightly grainy texture that can also be creamy. Depending on your preference, it can be served as a solid block (like polenta), or porridge form. 

I've noticed the grits purchased here in WA need more water and a longer cooking time than those purchased in the south. Most people cook grits with water only. I like to substitute 1/3 of the water with milk for a creamier result. Although I've heard that grits can be served sweetened, I've never seen it that way. Probably because that would be really freaking gross. Grits come with bacon and eggs in the south, not brown sugar and cinnamon. Why not just eat oatmeal if you want a sweetened porridge?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Strawberry muffins

I've been staying with a couple of friends while in Alexandria. Tonight is my last night here, so to thank them for their hospitality, I baked and made a mess of their kitchen. 

Strawberry muffins

The recipe was a really easy one from Allrecipes, but I followed the tips from other bakers in the comments section.

These muffins were light, fluffy, moist, and only slightly sweet. The greatest thing about them is that you can freeze them, and just microwave one or two at a time for breakfast each morning. Amazing.

Pita House in Old Town Alexandria

Went to a restaurant in Old Town last night called "Pita House." I ordered their "choose your own 3" platter: rice, beef souvlaki, and falafel. It was good food, and moderately priced. I've been there before, and both times it was a pleasant experience. This time however, I discovered something new that I've never had before. Please don't laugh at me if you've had this before, but I tried their lemonade. Yes. Lemonade, but with rosewater. eiad lkjdoaijd elakd AMAZING.

I love you.

It was lightly sweet, not too tart, and the rosewater added a fragrance and pleasure that I don't often find in a non-alcoholic beverage. It was simple, but new to me. I now have dreams of making my own rosewater so that I can add it to other things...strawberry lemonade, cakes, tea, butter cookies, popsicles, coffee...Ok, maybe not coffee. I'll have to work on that list a bit more...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Alexandria, Va

Had dinner with a few friends from college tonight. The plan was that I would make dinner, and my friend Chucklebum and I would bake together for the blog. This is what actually happened:
Dinner: Kona chicken with rice and steamed veggies

Start making dessert

"Let's have some wine!" "YAY!!!"

"Let's slosh our way through dessert making!" "Gyurrrggghhhh..."

We tried four different kinds of ice cream for our cupcakes: strawberry, chocolate, mint chocolate chip, and banana. Considering that it was messy, and the brownie bottoms baked a little too long, the result was pretty fantastic! It was easy and tasty! Check out the link above for "Joy the Baker's" recipe.

The chicken was just as effortless and tasty, although I omitted the honey and baked it instead of using a slow cooker. It was such a relief to be cooking/baking again after eating out every day for a week! I really, really missed being able to choose my ingredients and be part of the cooking process...isn't that sad?

vegetarian eating

During the summer, I'll sometimes lapse into a vegetarian menu. It's not for health or moral reasons, but because I'm too friggin' lazy and hot to cook a real meal.


It's a Boca Chik'n patty on onion bagel with melted mozzarella. All fresh, all good. There's no recipe. Just stick the patty in the toaster oven, toast the bagel, put cheese on the patty while it's still hot. Add fresh veggies.Then, you eat it.

Still super tired from traveling and convention. 3 different time zones in a week is a bit exhausting. However, I really loved most of my experience at convention. I got to hang out with an amazing assortment of musicians, and hope that I'll get to work with them again in the future. For more info about the organization, go to

Monday, July 19, 2010

out of town

Have been out of town for the past week for a flute conference in Wisconsin. Currently am in DC with some friends, will return to Seattle next week.

I had one or two interesting meals in WI. Most of my meals were either at a dining hall, or brought to me from someone else. Now that I'm in DC however, I hope to be baking or eating some really interesting foods. Starting with this:

aoiej adslkje adhg aljd wlekj daljf! I cannot WAIT to try this!

Friday, July 9, 2010

I will never look at Skittles the same again...

Did you watch the full video? (You really should.) What kinds of drugs is this guy on? Is he having a rainborgasm? No clue, but I laughed for 3 min and 29 seconds during the video AFTER having just done an ab workout. Please. Watch. This.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sara Bareilles

Will write about my adventures with the flag cake sometime this week, and hopefully with help from my friend ChuckleBum.

I really like Sara Bareilles. I especially love her now that I'm trying to get over a recent break up. Yeah...I'm really bummed that Jake and Vienna broke up!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Red, white, and blue: Strawberry, butter, and blue velvet cake to celebrate!

 Original idea (with directions) from "17 and Baking" here.

Edit (02/19/2012)-- Since this picture has been shared on Pinterest recently (hello, pinteresters!), I thought I should add some tips for this cake: 
1. Don't do like I did and try to make each layer a different flavor. It was a bit over ambitious, and it didn't taste right. People were more impressed with the design than the flavor. Stick with a good white cake recipe, and you're good to go.
2. If you can, use gel food coloring for better and brighter colors. I used liquid, which was fine, but I had to use A LOT of the food coloring to get bolder colors. With liquid coloring, it also took some experimenting to get the colors right, which led to over mixing the batter, and a tougher cake.
3. I always love baking, but this cake was one of my funnest (?) projects. Please make this cake, and please credit Elissa at 17 and Baking for her idea.

Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll share your experiences if you make this cake!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Strawberries (again)

Friends, I cannot stop making things with strawberries. It's almost 2am PDT, and I just finished making two small batches of strawberry jam.

Isn't it beautiful?

I haven't tasted it yet, but its bright ruby color just makes me so happy. The recipe I used came from Allrecipes, and is a non-pectin recipe. I did not make the same amount as the site, but reduced it from a serving size of 40 to 10. Otherwise, it was pretty much the same. It was a super easy recipe, and took a lot less time than I thought it would. I am looking forward to tasting it with toast, pb sandwich, or pancakes. It's basically sugary fruit with the nutrition boiled out...mmmmmmmm.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Strawberries for 99 cents, y'all.

What have I been doing with all the strawberries we bought on sale?

Strawberry-lemon shortcake

 In a smoothie, or
Smoothie pops. (That's chocolate on the right.)

With oatmeal for breakfast

Line them up...
and freeze 'em.

 Strawberry lemonade *

Made into syrup for pancakes

Though, fresh might be best.


* For an adult version of strawberry lemonade for a nice summer evening, leave out some water, and add some vodka or champagne.

Bundt in the Oven

I made my first bundt cake a few weeks ago. It was a lemon pound cake with lemon glaze recipe thar I found on the side of a cake mix box. Yes. I made a cake that wasn't from scratch, and I don't care what you think. A version of the cake is on Allrecipes here.

As usual, I tried to reduce the amount of fat by substituting apple sauce for oil. Even without the oil, the cake baked beautifully. I had a hard time getting it out of the bundt pan though, but I'm not sure if the lack of oil in the batter had anything to do with it. As I tried to get it out, chunks of the cake broke off. I was left crying "whyyyyyyyyy????" in the kitchen at midnight, the night before the Father's Day potluck at church. So, I "glued" the chunks back onto the cake, using the glaze as an adhesive, and then to cover up the ugliness of the breaks, I covered the whole thing with more glaze. It looked even worse. It looked like I had poured Elmer's glue allover cornbread. Deeeelicious.

I freaked out. It was late, and I didn't have enough confectioner's sugar to make frosting for another cake. "Work smarter, not harder," I told myself. I cut it up, arranged it "artfully" on my platter, and went to bed.

This wasn't my finest baking accomplishment. The flavor was ok, but could have been a bit more "lemony." Also, get this--the sugar glaze was too sweet. Weird. The texture was nice, and very moist, which I appreciated. I'm not sure I would make this cake again, but I think people enjoyed it fine. It just seemed like a whole lot of effort for an ok result.