Saturday, March 28, 2009


This is the most amazing brownie recipe ever. Martha Stewart really knows what she's doing. Mix it up any way you like, this is just the basic recipe!

This is actually the recipe doubled. I have a big family, so it just doesn't make sense to make a small batch, but if you would like, cut it in half, and bake it in a 9x9 pan.

1 c. butter, cut into pieces, plus more for pan
2 c. flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 bag (about 12 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 1/2 c. sugar
6 large eggs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x13 pan. In a small bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Place butter and chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of gently simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes; remove bowl from pan. Add sugar; mix to combine. Add eggs, and mix to combine. Add flour mixture; mix just until moistened (do not overmix). Add chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan for 30 minutes.

** I like to split the batter in half and mix up one half of the recipe. Try adding 3/4 c. coconut, or 1/2 c. walnuts, or both!! To keep the brownies separated in the pan, I use a piece of parchment paper and cut it the width of the pan, and about 4 inches tall. After the pan has been buttered, fold the parchment paper longways, so you have a right angle and stick it to the butter right in the middle of the pan. Pour half the batter on one side and the other half on the other. I like adding just about anything to my brownies, but not everyone else likes it, so, now we're all happy.

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a few days in... Big Sur

I apologize for abandoning the blog this week; but to be honest, I'm not that sorry, because I had a fabulous week in Big Sur California. Just a few hours south of the bay area, it truly was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. We camped at the Big Sur Campgrounds, hiked up and around Julia Pfeiffer Falls, travelled around Andrew Molera state park, and enjoyed open mic night at The Maiden Pub. To top it off spent the last day at the beach in Santa Cruz, while on our way home. Definitely a vacation worth taking.

By the way, that's the love of my life. You'll hear more about him soon enough ;)

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

a night in the city..

On Saturday, Martin and I headed out to the city to see Brett Dennen live at The Fillmore. We assumed it would be an amazing show, considering we both love Brett Dennen, and Martin had seen him before. But, to add to the amazingness of the show, Angus and Julia Stone, a brother and sister combo, opened and they blew us away. It is so mind boggling to me that there can be such incredible artists, with so much talent and stage presence, and I've never heard of them before!! So I'm going to do my best to spread the word. I uploaded some of their songs onto my playlist at the bottom of my blog, I believe they're at the bottom of the list, please check them out!

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Be Green! Grow a Garden!

I'm going to share another avenue of my life with you, gardening. It's not a common hobby among most in their young twenties, but it has always been one of mine. When I was a little girl I used to spend so much time in the garden with my grandma, and I just loved it. And because my dad picked up her green thumb, it is something I have always had the opportunity to be around. To take care of a whole yard can be a task, that is true, but a simple summer garden is so much easier than you would think. So think about it! You have the next few months to decide, and I think you should decide to plant a few seeds, grow some fruits and vegetables. Be green :)

I went to rite aid the other day with Martin, we saw the large assortment of seeds, and we couldn't help ourselves. So 15 dollars later, I had the seeds, potting soil, and containers for an amazing summer garden. All seed packages have directions, you don't even need to research, just go for it. To be honest, gardening is a lot easier than most of my recipes, and, you're getting healthy fruits and vegetables in return! Almost all of the seeds I chose should be planted in may or june, after the last possible frost, but if you plant them in containers first, you can just keep them indoors at night, and then you can see the fruits of your labor (no pun intended) months earlier. Also, instead of planting the whole container of seeds at one time, I usually do them in thirds. So plant a third of my selection in march, another in may, and another in july. Then your crop is spread out, and you're not overwhelmed with your fruit and vegetable supply. My family uses a plot of land close to home for most of our gardening since we grow a lot, but we've planted in our backyard for a few years and you can still do a lot in a small space. And we have a tiny backyard, so you have no excuses. If you really are feeling lazy, you can buy all these already a few weeks old to plant, you don't even have to deal with seeds. But really, seeing the first sprouts come up is my favorite part!!!


So, I'm growing zucchini, sweet corn, cantaloupe, tomato, green beans, and the camera shy yellow squash. These are all smaller plants and most likely Martin and I will find a place in his yard to grow them, since he has a good size yard with plenty of sunshine. In my family's garden I will be growing pumpkins, butternut squash, and maybe a few other things. At the garden all year round we have our boysenberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and concord grapes. But all these plants take up space, time, equipment, and they really are better done in a large area; which I why, for the most part, I'm just going to keep you updated with my summer garden project.

Maybe just pick one plant to grow, if a whole garden sounds overwhelming. Try a tomato plant. They're very hearty, and they'll have ripening tomatoes until late fall. Good luck, I'll keep you updated!

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I know that the thought of making eclairs sounds tough, and there is potential for a messy kitchen and too many pans and bowls used. But, they're just soooo good! And to be honest, after the first time you make them, and as long as you're not in a rush, it really isn't that difficult of a recipe. All the ingredients are most likely already in your kitchen, you don't need any special tools or pans, and each part of the recipe can be made quickly, you just have to wrap your head around making 3-4 different parts to create the whole. If you try the recipe, good luck, I know you can do it! Also, feel free to substitute any part; if you have your own custard recipe you like, or a chocolate glaze, or anything like that. The actual pastry recipe is one that I love, and it has never failed me. Others have, which is why you shouldn't be discouraged. Just the other day I made them, and used a different recipe for the pastry shell (choux pastry), and it flopped. So, you may get it on the first try, something I cannot say for myself!

Choux Pastry

½ c. butter
1 t. sugar
½ t. salt
1 c. water
1 ¼ c. flour
4 large eggs, plus 1 large egg white

Pastry Cream

2 c. whole milk (or 1 ½ c. milk, ½ c. cream)
1 T. vanilla
½ c. plus 2 T. sugar
5 T flour
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 c. heavy cream
5 T. powdered sugar

Chocolate Glaze

4 oz. chocolate
4 T. butter

For Choux Pastry:
In a medium saucepan, bring butter, sugar, salt, and water to a boil. Take off heat; with a wooden spoon, quickly stir in flour. With pan back on the heat, remain stirring until the mixture pulls together and forms a film on the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes.
With and electric mixer, mix on low speed until the mixture has slightly cooled, a couple minutes. On medium speed, add whole eggs, 1 at a time, then beat remaining egg white in a separate bowl and add. Mix until completely combined, and continue to mix for 1 more minute. Make sure to scrape down the bowl after adding each egg.
With a pastry bag and a 1 inch round tip, or just with the bag, if you don’t have the right size tip; pipe dough onto a baking sheet with parchment paper. For smaller éclairs, pipe about 3 inches long, about an inch wide (you’ll be able to make about 18). For larger éclairs, pipe about 5 inches long, and about 1 ½ inches wide (you’ll be able to make about 12). Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then lower over temperature to 325 and bake for 35-40 more minutes. The éclairs can be fairly golden, and you don’t not want to under cook these!! The éclairs will collapse.

For Pastry Cream:
In medium saucepan, bring the milk, and vanilla to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, and salt. Whisk in the egg and egg yolks. Slowly add the hot milk, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking constantly. Continue to boil the pastry cream, whisking constantly, until thick, about a minute. Pour pastry cream in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until cool.
In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar, mix for just another 30 seconds or so. Add about ¼ of the whipped cream to the pastry cream.

For Chocolate Glaze:
In a medium bowl, melt chocolate in the microwave, whisk in butter until smooth.
After pastry shells have all been split in half, add a generous portion of pastry cream to all, then with a pastry bag, and no specific tip, pipe a generous amount of the whipped cream on top of the pastry cream. Dip the top half of the shell in the chocolate glaze and place on top of the whipped cream layer.

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Mary's Birthday Cake

chocolate coffee bean cake

So Martin's Mom had a birthday a week or so ago, and I made her a cake!! My usual chocolate buttercream frosting over a chocolate cake, with a ganache filling! Delicious! And then, I decorated the cake with chocolate covered coffee beans, and some little doodles with melted chocolate, all topped off with some chocolate sprinkles. Did I go a little crazy with the chocolate? I really don't think that's possible!

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Every holiday is another reminder to me of how much I absolutely love this sugar cookie recipe! Take it upon yourself to invest in some cookie cutters. If I am remembering correctly, my mom bought me a box set of cookie cutters, probably with about 100. I went through them, threw away the ones that had too much detail or small shapes (since the smaller the cookie and the more detailed the design, the harder it is to cut out, and cook without burning). Then over the years I have slowly added to that collection. For example, on St. Patricks day, I went through my box found a perfect shamrock (the bigger of the two) and then went to michael's to see what else they had. Of course Michael's, being as amazing as they are, had a slightly smaller size. Usually when I make these cookies I like to do the same object or theme of objects but in at least 2 different sizes. I do this for 2 reasons; it's a lot more fun to decorate when not everything is exactly the same, and it gives people the option to eat smaller ones. Anyways, please start making sugar cookies; you'll be happier and so will your friends :) Enjoy!! You can find the post with the recipe under the recipe tab, sugar cookies is the title!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe, I believe, is used by my grandma green, whom I love dearly, and passed down to my mama, and tweaked by me. Hope you enjoy!

1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/3 c. butter
2 eggs
2 T. honey or corn syrup
1 T. vanilla
3 ¼ c. flour
1 t. baking soda
¾ t. salt
12 oz. chocolate chips

cream together sugar, brown sugar, and butter, until completely smooth; make sure to scrape bottom of the bowl
add eggs to butter mixture and blend thoroughly, scrape bottom of bowl, then add vanilla and honey, mix well
add about half the flour, mix thoroughly, then add the rest of the flour with the baking soda and salt mixed in; the dough should just barely be dry enough so it doesn’t stick to your fingers
add chocolate chips
use a spoon, or a cookie scoop; you should fit about 12 on a buttered pan; bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes, until edges are just turning brown; if the bottom of your cookies tend to brown, put a sheet of foil under your pan, shinny side down.

*Personally I like semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips, but use whatever you like! How I get the cookies to have a perfect shape everytime, which, is soooo tricky, I'm not sure why chocolate chip cookies always turn out different, but it's the temperature of the oven and whether or not you have foil under the pan. Sometimes you just have to play around with your oven to find out what works best. Good luck!

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Friday, March 13, 2009


1 c. butter
1 ½ c. sugar
2 eggs
2 ¾ c. flour
2 ½ t. baking powder
¼ t. salt

Cream butter, sugar and egg. Add dry ingredients. Dough shouldn’t be sticky at this point. Roll into 1 inch balls and roll in cinnamon/sugar. Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes (these cookies do not need to brown, as soon as they color at all, they’re done).
*For a little more flavor, roll the balls of dough in a cinnamon/sugar/nutmeg/cloves mixture!

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Sugar Cookies

This is one of my favorite recipes! Given to us by Debbie Childs; I know this will become one of your favorites as well. Jana and I love holidays purely for the fact that we have a reason and a theme for a new batch of sugar cookies!! Jana has some pictures she took of her valentine sugar cookies on her blog, here's the link... and also, Jana deserves at least half of the credit for the cookies in these pictures :)

Sugar Cookies

2 c. butter
1 ½ c. sugar
4 egg yolks
2 t. vanilla
4 ½ c. flour

Cream butter and sugar, add yolks and vanilla; gradually add flour. Dough rolls out best if it has been chilled for at least 4 hours, but not necessary. Roll out dough with plenty of flour, about ½ inch thick. You don’t have to roll out the whole batch of cookies at one time; I usually split it in thirds or so. Place cut out dough on a buttered cookie sheet. They don’t bake much bigger than as cut out, so you can put them relatively close. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. I only love these cookies if they’re a little undercooked. So when the edges have any golden color, take them out. Also, if your oven or cookie sheets tend to cause the bottom of your cookies to burn, place a piece of aluminum foil underneath the pan, shinny side down.


2 lb. bag of powdered sugar
3 T. powdered meringue (wilton)
1 t. clear vanilla
1 t. butter flavoring

With a whisk attachment mix ingredients, and color if wanted (preferably gel paste color). You will need to add water tablespoons at a time until it can be mixed completely and is thin enough to pipe through a bag. The frosting should still be thick. If it’s too thick to use a piping bag, add a very small amount of water. Use the thick frosting to outline the cookies, and save some if you’re planning to do any writing or decorations. With the remaining frosting, add water just until frosting is wet enough to drip off a spoon. Use this frosting to fill the cookies that have already been outlined, use fingers or spoon to push frosting to edges, but it should lay out smooth on it’s own, if not, add more water. Let frosted cookies dry over night.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Some of My Art :)

I know it would appear as though cooking is my only hobby, and it is one of my favorites, but not my only one. Originally when I wanted to start a blog or a website it was to encourage me to write down all my recipes and take pictures of them so I could eventually accumulate enough of my own to have a book. This blog has definitely pushed me to keep up with my goal of publishing some kind of cook book, and hopefully I will! But it has also encouraged me to share my hobbies and talents in general. So I'm going to post some of my art work. I haven't done as much recently as I would have liked to, but I'm going to try and keep up with it. Considering I am an art major, and I love it dearly, I really should. So hopefully over the next few weeks I'll have taken pictures of all the pieces I have already done, and everything I'm currently working on will eventually make it's way up here.

a copy of Monet's "Impression Sunrise" (One of my favorite paintings)

Orchids are my favorite flower :) This is a drawing I did of a lovely orchid plant I had growing in my room, beautiful right?
Both of these drawings were down with pastels.

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I Love Kung Fuuuu!!!

Lovely Jana took these pictures for me! Nate's birthday party was a blast, thanks to Melissa and the rest of the family! And Jana already posted all the birthday pictures, but I just wanted to have a few of the cake up.

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Artichoke Dip Bakes

This recipe, given to me by Heidi, I think given to her by her Mom, is one of my absolute favorites!! You really can't go wrong with this as an appetizer.

1 can or jar of artichoke hearts, chopped
1 c. shredded cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
1 thinly sliced baguette

Use a cookie sheet to arrange the bread. Prepare dip, spoon onto slices of bread, spread to the edges.
Cook on Hi Broil for about 5 minutes; but remember, all ovens cook different, so I would recommend not putting the cookie sheet on the highest rack in the oven, also, check after about 2 minutes.
Serve these tasty cheesy treats hot, and enjoy!

*Any kind of cheese works, spice it up with some pepper jack! You could also use either 1 full cup of mayo or sour cream. The original recipe uses only mayo, but it's a little heavy, so the half and half works perfect. If your oven does not have a reliable broiler, just bake them until the cheese is melted! Good luck!

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Peanut Butter Cookies

1/2 c. butter

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. peanut butter

1 egg

2 T. honey

1 1/2 c. flour

3/4 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

cream butter and sugars till light and fluffy, add peanut butter

add egg and honey, make sure to scrape bottom of bowl

mix in flour, baking soda, and salt

use a cookie scoop or spoon, roll into 1 inch balls

use fork to make cross marks, dip fork in flour if it sticks to the dough

sprinkle top with sugar

bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes

*if your oven generally burns the bottom of the cookies, use a piece of foil, shinny side down, underneath the pan

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Wolfgang's Favorite Chocolate Cake

8 Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
4 ounces Butter
5 Large Eggs
1 pinch Salt
2/3 cup Sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter, flour and line the base of a 10-inch round cake pan with parchment.
Combine chocolate and butter in a bowl over simmering water.
Whisk together the egg yolks and all but 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Stir melted chocolate into egg yolks until thoroughly combined.
With an electric mixer, on medium speed, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form.
Gradually beat in the remaining sugar and continue to whip until egg whites are stiff but not dry.
Carefully fold chocolate mixture into egg whites. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for about 45 minutes.
Turn out onto a rack immediately.
As the cake cools, the center will sink and crack - do not worry.

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Whatever Goes Pasta Salad!!

I absolutely love pasta salad! Every time I take on the responsibility of cooking for my family or friends, or any kind of event, pasta salad is usually something that I turn to. I’ll make it for lunch, dinner, a side dish, a main dish, an appetizer, really, anything. And this is something that I am commonly asked the recipe for, but unfortunately, I don’t have a recipe! This really is a dish, that doesn’t need to be measured and honestly, anything goes. Lately it has become a favorite dish only because it’s so easy to make, and my boyfriend and I love it. So, I made it tonight, and wrote down how exactly I made this concoction, and also some of the combinations I’ve used other times. Originally I started making this recipe from a feta salad my aunt Cindy makes. Which combines, pasta, spinach, black olives, tomatoes, feta, and zesty Italian dressing. This recipe is an amazing side dish for any meal, I just decided to take it to the next level, and mix it up here and there.
First you’re going to start with pasta of course J I love the brand barilla, but it really doesn’t matter, also, the type of pasta you use doesn’t matter. Tonight I actually used about a third of a box of mini penne, and about a third of a box of farfalle (why my mom doesn’t use whole boxes, I’m not quite sure, but regardless). You’re going to want a 1 lb. box or whatever you decide; if you’re making a full portion. For just 2 people, use a half box, so ½ lb.
Now, this is the creative part. I love olives, so I really will use any and all olives we have in the house. For this recipe, I used a can of black olives, and maybe a half cup green olives. The green, about 4 slices per olive, the black, I just slice right down the middle, or at a diagonal. If you’re going for healthy definitely add as much spinach as possible; you can make it almost more like a salad salad, than a pasta salad. Fresh basil, and parsley are my favorite greens to use, in addition to the spinach. Then maybe dice up some tomatoes, adds great color, and if you salt and pepper them, great flavor as well.
For sustenance, add some protein! I started out with just anything I had in the fridge. So for a quick lunch one day, I sliced up some lunchmeat. For a real Italian flavored salad, add salami, prosciutto, etc.

Ok, so my basic recipe, and as shown in the picture.

1 lb. box of penne pasta (preferably barilla) cook as directed
1 can black olives sliced in half
1 cup green olives, sliced
1 bunch of basil, chopped fine
1 bag of spinach chopped
2/3 cup of Italian dressing (Newman’s Family Recipe Italian)
4 large chicken breasts, salt and pepper to taste, grill till cooked through
1 lb package of bacon cooked and crumbled
½ cup crumbled feta
Salt and pepper to taste

* a few pointers:
I usually cook the pasta in very salty water, it adds so much flavor to the salad if the pasta is salted.
After I drain and let pasta cool down, I drizzle a little of olive oil over it, to keep it from sticking.
Season chicken breast as desired; maybe add a little lemon.
Add dressing as desired, just like you would a regular salad.
Good luck!!

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