Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Picnic in the Park

BY A STROKE OF LUCK, the picnic in the park that we threw for my mom's (censored per her request)th birthday took place on the last weekend of clear skies and warm weather. With everything going on in our lives, it's becoming increasingly rare that our whole family can come together and enjoy an afternoon together, so every opportunity is a special one.

This salad was a perfect way to open the meal. I'm sure I'll be making it again soon:

  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 2 yellow peaches, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium-sized red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 a head of raddichio
  • pine nuts or coarsely chopped walnuts, whatever you have on hand.
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic powder (optional)

And here's an action shot of some cubed butternut squash. Incredibly simple but amazingly hearty.

    • 1/2 butternut squash, cut into 1" cubes
    • 2 sprigs of rosemary
    • 1 cup vegetable broth

    Chocolate cake is my mom's absolute lust-have. My sister and I adapted a recipe from Ina Garten. We omitted the buttermilk her original recipe calls for and changed out some ingredients so that it  was less rich for the sake of our health-conscious parents. That may sound blasphemous but really, it was still delicious.

    • 1 3/4 cups flour
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee 

    1. Sift the dry ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until combined. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, eggs and vanilla.
    2. Using a low speed on the mixer, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Then add the coffee and stir just to combine. Pour the batter into 2 buttered and floured 9" cake pans and bake at 350° for 45-40 minutes. Let cake cool in pans for 30 minutes before removing.

      Cheers to my mum!

      Monday, October 3, 2011

      Turtle-ly Awesome Cupcakes

      MY SWEETHEART of a sister volunteers for an ocean conservation center in San Francisco and wanted to let them eat cake on the last day together. Naturally, a wave of excitement washed over me (pardon the puns... they can't be helped today) and I remembered a Bakerella-inspired turtle cupcake I had seen in the past that would rise to the occasion.

      Sea for yourself (I told you the puns were unstoppable) and read on to learn how to make your own:

      Are these to 'dive' for or what?

      Have fun. :) And be sure to stay tuned for a tour of my new apartment!