Soft Pretzels

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I love snacks.  One of my favorite snack-themed meals is meat and cheese with a perfect baguette.  All with a glass of wine.  Pure heaven.  it’s essential wine tasting supplies.  And while I don’t always have the perfect baguette — or sourdough boule — it doesn’t get any simpler than that.

After my first taste of San Francisco sourdough bread I was itching to jump on the bread making bandwagon.  I had only made challah with my mom before, but with my skills in the kitchen, I thought, how hard could it be?  As it turns out, really really hard.  After 4-15 failed attempts (I lost count) I gave in and returned to cupcakes and booze-filled brownies.  Besides my starter not “growing,” my bread coming out to be a hard brick, the patience that I just do not possess proved to be a problem.  It’s almost as important as the starter itself.  Ok, not really.  But you definitely need it.

I like baking because of the precision, the exactness.  Sure, we all made magical concoctions in our backyards when we were five, involving grass, avocados, and those sweet grass flowers.  Or, was that just me?  Well now I prefer the specific spices and the precise method for mixing scones and whipping egg whites.  Bread takes precision too.  it just doesn’t always go according to plan.  And when I can’t control the outcome of anything, I lose it.  Like seriously, Godzilla on the loose.  Which is why I love this recipe.  Oh so much. Continue reading

Carrot Cake

I realized I make a lot of cookies.  And I don’t even like cookies.  Well, not that much.  Before I started dating an adorable cookie-loving fiend, I would take a cupcake over cookies any day.  The more frosting the better.  Those people that don’t like frosting?  Either lying or lame.  And I don’t like either of those people.  Living in New York, nothing quite hit the spot like a cupcake with a glass of milk.  Or frozen yogurt in the winter.  But I have always liked frosting the best.  I totally play favorites with my baked goods.  And frosting crushes the crumbs of a cake any day.

My obsession with cupcakes really started with cake.  Between researching, babysitting, and working out enjoying a huge piece (usually from here) was the perfect snack break.  Then I discovered that cupcakes was a happy medium between my love of frosting and my mini snack break vacation.  So I think it’s time to get back to basics.  Let’s get back to cake.

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Carrot Cake with sprinkles, because why not?

This cake was never my favorite.  Browned butter?  My new favorite trick in baking.  I know it’s not new, but it’s new to me, and everything I have used it in automatically gets and increase in BLAM! flavor.  So when my carrot cake-loving brother came to visit I was excited for this awesome recipe to be tested out.  The nutty flavor and aroma that comes from the brown butter really transforms this cake into a moist cake that I wanted to eat right away.  Just nutty butter, and carrots.  No additional weird things that find its way into carrot cake (pineapple?  Nuts?  No thanks).  I was in agony as I recently gave up eating sugar — more on that later — but I am happy to report that after 2 days, half the cake is gone, and I don’t expect it to last much longer.

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My secret for the best carrot cake

 

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
One 8- or 9-inch double layer cake
* lightly adapted from Barbara Austin via David Lebovitz

Ingredients
Cake:

  • For 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil/apple sauce
  • ¾ c melted brown butter (or more oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • generous pinch each of nutmeg and cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups loosely packed, grated carrots

the frosting:

  • 8 oz. (1 block) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablspoon bourbon (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour two 8- or 9-inch (20-23cm) cake pans.
  • With a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the eggs until they are pale and frothy (they need not increase dramatically in volume). With the mixer running, drizzle in the oil and melted butter, then the vanilla.  Add dry ingredients.
  • Fold in the grated carrots then divide the batter between the two pans. Bake 30-35 minutes, until the surface springs back when gently touched. Cool the cakes completely before frosting.
  • To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar (do this on low speed to avoid a dust cloud) and mix until light and silky. Add the vanilla and bourbon.
  • Serving and Storage: This cake is best served at room temperature but will keep for a few days stored in the refrigerator.

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there’s plenty more and I love sharing!

Paris: The Adventure

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I am a major travel hound, so when my most amazing family was planning a trip to Paris for Christmas, I was overly excited in plans for another European adventure.  I couldn’t wait to explore the city again, stuff my face with baguettes, the greatest butter ever, and macarons.  But the best was showing my boyfriend one of my favorite cities in the world.  Up until a few years ago I never had any desire to go to Paris.  I know, crazy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love travelling, but I have a a very long list of places that I must go to before I die (or lose my legs in a rebellious activity), and Paris was never at the top of the list.  Not even top 10.  After my first Parisian holiday, all I could think was: what was I thinking?  Yes, in case you were unaware, Paris is amazing.

My third trip to Paris was full of macaron consuming, lots of walking, more walking, and more eating.  And then we walked some more.  What I love about Paris is what I love about every city I feel a part of.  Paris has the energy of New York City and the laid back social attitude of San Francisco (as laid back as Europe can be).  My two great geographical loves lumped into one metropolis with the greatest dessert ever.  Yes, macarons.  Can you tell I’m obsessed?  The longing I have been feeling lately for New York City was alleviated a bit during this week.  But now I also feel the need to be a city girl forever.

This is just a snapshot of the amazing week and half I spent in Paris, and while it doesn’t even scratch the surface in my mini Parisian adventure, you get the point.  It was amazing and I can’t wait to go back.



427768_663907127776_1397814419_nNotre Dame is more amazing that it looks

58217_663910406206_1501304073_nEveryone loves hot dogs in Paris.  Especially if they have cheese.  Melted cheese.

385258_663913100806_1349508584_nmy most favorite thing in life.  Sorry, Steve.

Continue reading

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


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New year, new baking trends, right?  Sure that sounds like an awesome idea.  I’ll get it it, I swear.  But I was just feeling an old staple this weekend.  Nothing like oatmeal raisin to make you feel all cozy and nostalgic.  Basically the winter blanket of cookies.  And I need that winter blanket right about now.  For some reason, the seven winters I have lived in the east coast have done nothing to curb my hatred of cold.  Which is where cookies come in.  Especially these cookies.  And sometimes I like to do nice things for people.  Alert the media.  What is going on?  My boyfriend loves Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (as most guys do, I have discovered) and as my favorite taste tester, he has to start the year off on the right cookie.

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Continue reading

13 Things

I’m not really a big fan of making resolutions because I always seem to break them and then I feel like a failure and drown my sorrows in wine or cupcakes or cheese.  Should I aim to be a better person?  Probably.  Should I try to be nice and stop judging everyone who crosses my path?  Yes.  But I like my snarky view of life and most of the people I like tolerate appreciate it for what it is: pure sass meant to make people smile.

I wouldn’t say 2012 was a big year for me.  Nothing really exciting happened, no new adventures, nothing ground breaking.  But I did find myself reflecting more times that often, usually involving tears or objects being thrown across the room.  I’m kind of an emotional basket case who can not make a decision without changing it drastically soon after.  I am all over the place and am incapable of focusing one one thing for the rest of my life.  Since this is a new year and I know that new things are coming here are 13 things that I learned, know to be true, and am working on.

1. My family is complicated and awesome all at the same time.

2. New York City has my heart forever and always.

3. Working out daily prevents me from going on a zombie rampage.

4. Baking prevents me from turning into The Hulk.

5. My freedom is more important than my money.

5. Kids are smart, creative, and insightful.  And capable of so much more than we give them credit for.

6.  It’s OK to be a girl, but I can still have whiskey and be less of one.  

8. People won’t change, no matter how much you want them to, or how much it hurts that they can’t.

9. Cupcakes cure anything.

10.  Home is where you are totally you, one hundred percent.  It may be where you grew up, or where you are now.  Find it and never give it up.

11. Say no to your boss, say yes to cheese (or wine, chocolate, and cookies).

12. Be crazy, just for the sake of making others laugh.  

13. Finding The One may not be easy, and may come at the darkest time in your life, but finding them makes everything leading up to that point
so worth it.   

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this is where my heart is