Archives for category: Cooking

It is no coincidence that the main ingredient in my first post after baby is caffeine.

Paige is 7 weeks already, everyone was telling the truth when they said it really does fly by. I can’t believe she’ll be 2 months old next week. I’ve been averaging 4 hours sleep for a while now and although I’m managing, this coffee sure is doing it’s fare share to help out.

Here’s the sweet one hanging out on the table, watching me make my morning cup.

The recipe couldn’t be more simple. Basically grind coffee, mix with room temperature water and let sit out overnight. Strain, pour over ice, add water and some cream and your good to go.

Cold Brew Iced Coffee
Recipe From: Smitten Kitchen

  • 1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best)
  • Milk or cream (optional)
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Water
  • Ice

In a jar, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours. Strain twice through a coffee filter or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk, cream and/or sugar. Makes 2 drinks.

Images: sammyw

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Life is so very full right now. Busy. Isaac has been working like crazy and preparing to leave for a business trip in a couple weeks, our taxes are still not done, we’re scrambling to read the last few chapters of our birth prep book, lead Bible study at our house, pursue relationships and love thy neighbor whose dog only seems to bark on Saturday mornings.

Without fail though, every single night after dinner while the candles still linger we settle into the couch, pull over the cotton blanket my mom bought us for Christmas and we talk to Paige and feel her move, squirm and shimmy in my belly. And all the busyness comes to a halt. It’s amazing to me how much we already love this little in my belly. I feel her move all the time now. In the middle of the night, on the bus, cooking dinner, driving to Target. I’m pretty sure she already knows her name because we can say it and she responds with a little love tap.

I vividly remember having a full on conversation with Paige while baking this cake. Explaining to her why we sift the dry ingredients and why buttering the pan with a little extra butter always makes sense, especially when removing it from the pan. The cake is pretty basic, although was a little dry in my opinion. It actually tasted way better the next day and the day after. I would make it again and maybe mark down the cook time 5 minutes or so. It tasted awesome with fresh whipped cream and a bunch of fresh berries.

Everyday Chocolate Cake
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup natural cocoa
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt

Preheat the oven to 325. Butter and lightly flour a 9×5×3-inch loaf pan. In a bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then the buttermilk and vanilla. (Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven) Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into your wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended but do not over mix. Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 to 15 minutes, at which point you can cool it the rest of the way out of the pan. Serve with whipped cream and fresh berries.

Images: sammyw

We’ve been getting so. much. rain. this week. Trees have begun to fall over in Golden Gate Park because the ground is so soggy. Although all this rain makes for a pretty green view outside our family room window.

In other news, a sweet friend of mine passed along this recipe for homemade Lara Bars. I’ve been searching for a recipe for quite some time now, in hopes of making these for cheap in my own kitchen.

Before you attempt this in your kitchen, I think a food processor is a must for this recipe. I have no idea how you would do it otherwise. Isaac bought me our food processor last Christmas and I have used it countless times. Last year I was trying to decide if a Kitchenaid mixer or food processor would make more sense for the kind of cooking I do and in the end I decided on the food processor and I am so glad I did. I make salsas, pie dough, pizza dough, grind oats for oat flour, grate bulk cheeses, shred carrots, chop nuts, etc. If you do more cooking than baking I would say go for the food processor. I have this one and love it to the moon and back.

Homemade Cherry Pie Lara Bars
Recipe from Enlightened Cooking

  • 1/2 cup chopped dates (roughly chopped whole dates)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 2/3 cup whole pecans, almonds or walnuts (I used almonds)
  • 1/4 t cinnamon

Makes 4 bars. Set out four pieces of plastic wrap for shaping and wrapping the bars. Pour chopped dates and cherries in a food processor. Pulse until processed to a paste and the whole mixture forms a ball together in the food processor. Scrape out into a bowl, set aside. Add the nuts to the processor and pulse until very finely chopped. Add the nuts, along with the cinnamon to the bowl with the fruit paste. Use your fingers to knead the nuts into the paste until fully combined. Divide mixture in four equal parts. Place onto plastic wrap and shape into bars using your fingers. Tightly wrap the plastic around each bar and store in a large container in the refrigerator.

I made a several cherry pie bars and some apple pie bars as well. Take a look at LaraBar’s website for inspiration on what new flavors to make, they list the ingredients right on the website, so just adjust the nuts/fruit depending on which bar you are making. The measurements above will stay the same, but for example the apple pie I used:

Apple Pie Lara Bars

  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1/2 cup dried apples
  • a small handful of raisins
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/4 t cinnamon

You will be amazed at how wonderful these work and taste. They probably cost .30 cents a bar to make as opposed to paying $1.30 per bar at the store!

Images: sammyw

We are in the home stretch. Only about 10 more weeks to go til my due date and baby preparation plans are in full swing.

Last weekend we finished assembling her dresser and crib, found a rocking chair on Craigslist and made her crib skirt. Isaac & I have been reading through our birthing book and have taken a tour of the birthing center. Just as we are checking things off our to-do list, more are suddenly appearing. Birth Plans! Pediatricians!

This quiche was made with a frozen pie dough that I had made a month or so ago, so it was super simple to whip up this quiche on a Monday morning. We ate this throughout the week with sliced strawberries, fresh blueberries and yogurt on the side.

Spinach Quiche
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Quiche Dough: Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee

  • 1 3-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup half and half
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar or gruyere
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 4 to 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper

Preheat oven to 425°. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in half and half and eggs. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake until crust is golden brown and filling is set, about 25 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Images: sammyw

We were told we’d awake to a little dusting of snow this morning, but it was all blue skies. Not a single cloud in sight. I’ve heard rumors it did snow at 1am this morning, but who stays up that time anymore! The forecasters played it up (like they normally do) ‘look out for snow at the beach!’ Showing pictures of a snowy Twin Peaks back in the 60’s. Our neighborhood hardware store even put out some snow shovels for the occasion. Really!?

The snow didn’t come, but the cold temperatures sure has. I came home to a 55 degree house the other day, guess it’s time to turn on the heater. We’ve been bundling up in thick socks, warm hooded sweatshirts and practically cuddling next to our little space heater. Thankfully it should be back to the upper 50’s by the end of the week, I don’t know how much more of this cold I can take.

All that aside we are having a sweet weekend. The countdown has begun, 11 weeks from welcoming our little girl and spending the day picking up her rocking chair from Craigslist, hanging a few things up in her room and finishing up her crib. I have a couple sewing projects to work on and all the while we are keeping warm with endless cups of hot tea and coffee. Wishing we had a couple more of these breakfast bars to go with it.

Raspberry Crumb Breakfast Bars
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

For the crust and crumb:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 3/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the raspberry filling:

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 T grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass baking pan. Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form. Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.

Make the raspberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the raspberries are evenly coated. Spread the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

Images: sammyw

San Francisco has brought out a whole new food palette to me. The different varieties of restaurants and the amazing ethnic foods avaliable here are out of this world. I grew up in the suburbs where chain restaurants where pretty much all that was avaliable to us. Moving to a city like this, you rarely come across a chain restaurant, every place is local and a mom and pop kind of place. It is awesome.

I’d never tried Indian food before moving here and to be honest never appealed to me. But San Francisco is getting to me in more ways than one. Food holds a special place in my heart and food holds a special place in San Francisco’s heart, thankfully we share the love.

Chickpea & Spinach Curry

Recipe adapted from JenlovesKev

  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 t fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 t curry powder
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 lb of fresh baby spinach leaves
  • fresh cilantro chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet heat oil and saute onion, garlic and ginger until golden. Add curry powder and mix all together. Add diced tomatoes and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer letting sauce thicken up a little about 10 mins. Right at the end add spinach and cilantro. Cook just till wilted. Serve over brown rice.

Images: sammyw

It’s beginning to look like Valentine’s day around here! We don’t go all out and celebrate, but Isaac always brings me a box of conversation hearts, my favorite! Although, Valentine’s day wouldn’t seem like Valentine’s day without making these sugar cookies.

I’ve mentioned before the memories and traditions that come with these cookies, and this holiday is no different.

Wish you a wonderful love filled weekend with your Valentine.

Sugar Cookies
Recipe from Mom

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream together butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth & fluffy. Next add dry ingredients until fully combined. Cover dough & chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Once dough is cold & slightly hardened, flour a work surface, roll out dough and cut into shapes. Bake on parchment paper for about 6-8 minutes. Cool on wire rack completely before frosting.

Daddy’s Favorite Frosting

  • powdered sugar
  • water
  • food coloring

Mix powdered sugar & water together until a paste forms. It can be any consistency, but the thicker it is the better it tastes! Add a couple drops of food coloring to make it look pretty! Allow frosted cookies to dry on wax paper until completely dry and store in an airtight container with sheets of wax paper in between each layer.

Images: sammyw

We are well into our second month of the year, I don’t know about you but January seemed to just fly by. Another month behind us means one month closer to meeting our baby girl. I am trying so very hard to savor this time with Isaac. Do all the things that will be a little more complicated with a newborn. Like planning long and slow dinner dates, trips to the movies, a visit to Seattle to see beloved friends, very late and lazy weekend mornings (complete with the aforementioned scones) and a few day trips around the bay area for exploring.

We think we are prepared and sort of know what to expect. Sleep deprivation, 2am wake up calls, mounds of diaper changes, laundry, milk soaked burp cloths, doctor visits; basically having our whole little world turned upside down. But in reality, Isaac and I both look at each other and say in unison, We have no idea what we are in for… We’re elated of course to welcome her into our lives, cannot wait to hold, snuggle and raise her. Take her on walks around Golden Gate Park, show her where to get the best sticky bun and just how beautiful this city really is.

But beginning a new season, also means saying goodbye to the old one. One that Isaac & I have grown, cared for and nurtured for 5 years. We’re used to our life, we know it pretty well, it’s comfortable and it fits. It’s a defining moment in time, adding another layer onto our cared for and nurtured 5 years. Hoping we will again grow, learn and humbly move forward as life continues to change and mold into something new and unknown. I guess I’m a bit sentimental about the whole process because I am so thankful for life as it stands now. I know God will work in our midst, just as He did when we started our lives together 5 years ago. But still my prayer is that I would use the time to look back, reflect, squeeze the life out of our remaining months as a family of 2, and to realize the ribbon through each and every new and changing layer is a path of joy and thankfulness.

Blueberry Lemon Scones
Recipe from Tyler Florence

Scones:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • 5 T unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
  • 1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Lemon Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sift together the dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. (or use your food processor!) The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the heavy cream. Fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Take care not to mash or bruise the blueberries because their strong color will bleed into the dough.

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you apply the glaze.

Mix the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar together. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest and butter. Whisk the glaze to smooth out any lumps, then drizzle the glaze over the top of the scones. Let it set a minute before serving.

Images: sammyw

I’ve been trying to walk a few miles during the week, which is usually an easy feat for me when the weather is sunny, warm and nice. We don’t have many warm or hot days here in the city. There is usually a breeze of some kind and sometimes fog. So when the weather is warm, I am out walking around Golden Gate Park for hours. Soaking up the sun, sitting on the park benches and people watching or reading.

This week has been beautifully warm, so warm in fact that I was craving a cold drink. I blended up this smoothie one day after a long day at the park and it was cool, creamy and sweet.

Banana Berry Flax Smoothie
Recipe by me

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup frozen berries (I used blueberries, raspberries & blackberries)
  • 3 T yogurt (I used vanilla bean)
  • 1 T ground flax seed
  • 1/4-1/2 cup juice (I used cherry)

In a blender whip up all ingredients until smooth and creamy. May need to add more juice or water if the consistency is to thick.

Images: sammyw

And then just like that it’s over. Over are the twinkling lights, the boxes with pretty bows, the family snuggles. Gone just like that. We took down our Christmas tree this week, which always makes Isaac a little sentimental about the previous year. After hauling our six foot tree down two flights of stairs and sweeping up a huge trail of old brown pine needles, we snuggled on the couch and talked about the year behind us, the year ahead. To which we both squilled in excitement for the arrival of our daughter Paige in just a few short months:

I love the New Year, excited to clean, simplify, and purge. (Hence the new blog format. Don’t get used to it. It was a pull the trigger kinda move. It will probably continue to morph. I am not diggin’ the orange font color.) Add to the fact that this year I’m supposedly in a nesting phase, this apartment better watch out. As you know we live in a small 2 bedroom apartment in San Francisco. Recently I’ve been working on moving the office into our room to make room the baby. Each room we decided, will have to serve double duty, our room plus space for an office, and the baby room will also function as a guest room. This week also marked the first purchase for her room:

With the New Year comes the all familiar normalcy of the everyday. The routine of bills, piles of laundry, rainy walks, crowded bus rides and taking out the trash. Out with the glitz and glamour of Christmas parties with open bars and sequined dressed women, now to the sweet comfort of life. This return to normalcy brings with it simple weeknight dinners and even simpler breakfasts of cold cereal and juice.

Instead of  being creative about hunting down new recipes, I pulled this out from my recipe book and it was all very familiar. In a good worn in comfortable sweater kind of way. This crumb cake has become staple at our house and it does not disappoint. Eat it for breakfast with a big bowl of fruit or have it as a late afternoon snack with a cup of coffee. Or like me nibble a little crumb here or there throughout the day.

New York Crumb Cake
Recipe from Martha Stewart

  • 2 T canola oil, plus more for pan
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 325. Lightly brush a 9-by-12 1/2-inch baking pan with canola oil, dust with flour, and tap to remove excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and set aside. (It will not seem like a lot of batter, but trust me it rises.) In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form. Sprinkle crumbs over batter.  Transfer pan to oven, and bake, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean, about 10 minutes more.  Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

Images: sammyw