Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A day to celebrate

Today is the Grand Chawhee's Birthday! (name that movie...before you click on the link)

Aka my favorite guy...aka my best friend...aka my hubs' birthday!

Since the start of his new job and the start of his classes, we don't get a lot of free time to spend together, so today was a special treat where we both had off! (Until he went to class at 6, but still)

So first, I surprised him with breakfast in bed!

My family has a running tradition of "breakfast in bed" on your birthday and always, always includes pigs-in-a-blanket.  I'm pretty sure birthdays are the only days of the year we ever have these little guys and I'm so excited to bring Ry in on the tradition!

Just Lil'Smokies wrapped in biscuits and baked.  So simple. So good.  Plus a fruit cup. All served on a cake pedestal.  I realized soon after the piggies came out of the oven that I don't have the proper "breakfast in bed" trays that my mom always used to carry the food up to our rooms.  Cake platter it is. 

Weeks ago (I like to plan), I asked Ryan what type of cake he wanted for his birthday.  Last year, he asked for a blackberry cobbler.  

This year, he said "I want the Tres Leches cake from Whole Foods but I want you to make it. :) "

Humph.  Whole Foods makes an amazing Tres Leches cake that we contemplated serving at our wedding.  This was the first time I straight up asked if I could just buy it from WF rather than risk messing it up.  Being the best husband ever, he said he knew I could do it and he wanted me to.

So, the search began.  I spent forever a few good hours looking up recipes for Tres Leches that sounded similar to Whole Foods.  The problem is, every recipe I found had a whipped cream topping, whereas WF's Tres Leches has a marshmallow fluff meringue topping.  Finally, I found two different recipes I liked the sound of.  I used the cake from one and the icing from another and created this:

Thin cinnamon-y sheet cake soaked in three milks with a fluffy meringue topping.

Ry said it tasted just like, if not better, than Whole Foods.  He's sweet and I don't believe him, but it's the thought that counts.  It does taste pretty darn close, but I swear they must mix marshmallow fluff into their meringue to make it.  Next time I'm trying it.

For those of us who don't own culinary torches, I put the cake under the broiler and rotated for a few seconds to get the perfect brown-ness. 

And I was pleased.

But more importantly, the birthday boy was happy. And that's all that matters.

You can find the Tres Leches cake recipe here.

Not Quite Marshmallow Fluff Meringue Topping
adapted from

4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Place egg whites in mixer and beat until stiff peaks form.  Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup and bring to boil over medium heat.  Cook for 4 minutes or until sugar mixture thickens and strings when it cools.

With mixer turned on, slowly pour sugar mixture down side of bowl into egg whites.  Beat 4-5 more minutes.  Add vanilla.  

Frost cake with topping.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Almond Butter "Mmm" Sauce

Two posts in one day? Who am I?  A girl with time on her hands.

The hubs recently started his new night classes so what else is a girl to do by herself at home besides bake donuts and look through old dinner pictures and write about them.

Tonight I have a meal for you that I made a week or so ago, but am still stockpiling the sauce because it was that good.

If you haven't ever read the blog Peas and Thank You, you should.  Her blog is hilarious and full of good recipes.  This particular recipe was an adaptation of her "Noodle Salad with Peanut Mmmm Sauce."

I used to make stir fry meals pretty frequently but for whatever reason got out of the kick.  On this particular night, I whipped out a block of tofu.  Prepared it my favorite way.  Bought my new favorite noodles.  Added stir fry vegetables and my own rendition of Peanut Almond Butter Mmmm Sauce to make this...

Mmmm.  Slightly sweet. Slightly nutty. Slightly spicy.  Very delicious.

So here's how it goes.

First, make your sauce.  The original recipe called for peanut butter but I had almond butter on hand so I just went with it.  I also doubled the recipe since I knew it wasn't like for me to use crushed spicy tomatoes and canned coconut milk in another recipe in the near future.  Plus I heard the sauce kept well.  Throw all the ingredients in your blender and blend away.  I also added more soy sauce and lots of srirachi.

For the tofu...take a block of tofu and slice it lengthwise into 3 blocks.  Wrap those blocks in a towel and place your heaviest cookbooks on top of the towel/tofu to press out the water.  After 15 minutes, cube the tofu and place into a hot pan sprayed with cooking spray. Add some salt and pepper.

Cook the tofu until it is brown on each side.  I'm kinda picky about each side being brown, so I carefully (and time-consumingly) flip over each piece of tofu with a fork.   You can also just flip it around in the pan with a spatula.

Next, open your bag of frozen Asian veggies from Costco and defrost a few cups.  Add extra frozen broccoli for good measure.

Recently, I've fallen in love with this brand of pasta.

We eat the "Sweet Potato and Buckwheat" flavor pretty frequently with regular pasta sauce.  Honestly, it doesn't really taste like sweet potato or pumpkin, but the colors are nice, I like the texture, and they're organic.

Toss the tofu in with the noodles in with the veggies in with the sauce.

And garnish with some extra cilantro.  And crushed red pepper flakes.  And more srirachi.  We like things spicy.


Pretty sure the hubs heated just the sauce up yesterday and ate it with tortilla chips like it was queso.  To each his own.

Almond Butter Mmmm Sauce
adapted from MamaPea
makes enough for 2-3 batches of stir fry noodles

1 cup almond butter
1 cup canned fire-roasted tomatoes in juice
1 cup canned lite coconut milk
8 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 packet of stevia (or tbsp of honey)
1 large lime juiced or 2 small
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp srirachi

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.  Add more soy sauce or srirachi to taste.

Glazed Donuts

I have a thing for kitchen gadgets.  Gadgets. Appliances. Pans. Spatulas.  If it's kitchen related. I want it.

I have a whole wall in my house dedicated to displaying my Vita-mix blender, my pressure cooker, my panini press, bar tools...etc.  My kitchen counter proudly displays my pretty pink mixer (obviously), along with matching white porcelain canisters that hold my flour and sugars, and right next to that is a mason jar filled with spatulas and spoonulas of every color that Williams-Sonoma sells.

So here's the deal with kitchen pans.  I have cookie sheets of every size.  I have rectangular baking pans. Circular cake pans.  Cupcake/muffin pans.  Mini-muffin pans. Loaf pans. I have an "Every Edge Brownie" pan.  A muffin top pan. And now finally....

I have a donut pan.

Is this pan a necessity? Definitely not. (Though some may argue otherwise)

Will I use it frequently?  Doubtful.

Do I love it?  Obviously.

To be honest, these baked donut recipes have been popping up all over the blogosphere and frankly, I don't like to be left out.  

The first recipe I tried was Jenna's for her Glazed Cake Donuts.  I followed the recipe as far as ingredients go,  even went out and bought buttermilk for the occasion.  However, once the donuts were baked, I slightly varied the next steps...see below.

Buttermilk, egg, and vanilla in one bowl.  Butter, sugar, and flour in the other.  Like my new bowls?  I also have a thing for colorful bowls....and plates.

I used a ziploc bag to pipe the batter into the pan and tossed them in the oven.

The recipe says it makes six donuts, but I think mine had a little too much batter in each pan because my donuts kept the holes.


Since I couldn't just stop at glaze, I went ahead and did a variety of toppings.  Glazed, powdered, glazed with sprinkles, plain, glazed with pink frosting, and glazed with chocolate.  And sprinkles, of course.  Always sprinkles.

Jenna said these reminded her of the 7-11 powdered sugar cake donuts and I couldn't agree more.  They're light, they're baked, and they look fabulous with sprinkles.  I can't wait to try other flavor variations.

My only dislike about this pan is that there are only six spots.  Making it a pain to make enough donuts to feed an army a break room of NICU nurses.  C'est la vie.

It's hard to frown when someone puts something coated in sprinkles in front of you.  Unless you don't like sprinkles.  Then I'm not sure we can be friends. :)

Glazed Cake Donuts

1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cold butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350.  In one bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  Cut up butter into small pieces and add to dry ingredients.  Using a fork or your hands, combine butter and dry ingredients until sandy mixture forms.  In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together.  Add to butter/flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Pour into ziploc bag, snip the end and pipe into donut pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.

I made a glaze mixture, about 3/4 cup powdered sugar and 2-3 tbsp almond milk---basically a little of this and a little of that until I thought it was the right consistency.  I made my mixture a little thicker than ELR's, then dipped the donuts in the glaze while they were still slightly warm.  This allowed some of the glaze to seep in and the rest formed a crust on the outside of the donut.  Pretty much perfection.  You can also go to her website to see how she made hers.  After you've decided on your glaze/icing, top with rainbow sprinkles.