Sunday Morning

18 04 2016

I’ve become a bit of broken record, but it’s been busy around here. So busy, in fact, that there hasn’t been much time to bake or blog. My students and I have kicked-off our annual corsage fundraiser, where we sell and handmake corsages for highschool prom-goers. It’s a really fun opportunity to teach our students about project management, but also the craft of floral design and corsage-making. We’ve received 300 orders and have raised over $3,000 in just a few weeks! How incredible is that? It’s certainly taking its toll on me [it’s practically a second full-time job], but these kids keep me pretty energized with their youthfulness and eagerness to see us succeed.

_MG_0091 NEW

So today, on a rare (and self-imposed) off day on this gorgeous Sunday morning, I had to make these cookies, recently posted on Joy The Baker. Now, I love JTB – the blog is delicious and Joy is such a hoot. I am fangirling a bit here, but I always have such great success with her recipes. Here’s another, near fool-proof one. This recipe is a bit unique in that it has both cream cheese and instant milk powder, ingredients I have never put into a cookie. But whatever the case, it worked! And now I want all my cookies with cream cheese and instant milk powder. These cookies are perfectly chewy with a great crispness on the outside. Thanks to both the softened and browned butter, there is also great richness and caramely-buttery flavor. My only complaint (as if it’s a true complaint) is that these cookies are on the sweeter side. I may cut the sugar a bit next time, and see how I fare, but otherwise, these are absolutely perfect. This recipe calls for 3 cups of flour, which yields quite a bit of dough, so I scooped out raw 2 oz balls of dough, froze them on a sheet, then placed the frozen balls into a ziploc bag. These will be perfect after a long day at work – just plop back on a baking sheet and bake for fresh, easy cookies.

Cookie1

Browned Butter Macadamia White Chocolate Chip
Source: Joy The Baker

Ingredients
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and browned and slightly cooled
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 c all-purpose flour
1 c instant milk powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tspbaking powder
1 tspsalt
2 c coarsely chopped macadamia nuts, raw
2 c coarsely chopped white chocolate*

*As with all chocolates, bars that are roughly chopped are always better than pre-made chips. They melt better and are made of better quality ingredients. Opt for bars when able

Directions
With a stand mixer, beat together the softened cream cheese and softened butter on medium speed until light and creamy. Add both sugars and the browned butter and continue to beat until well combined. Add the eeggs and vanilla extract and beat until pale and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredeints. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet, and mix just until combined. Remove the paddle attachment and fold in the chopped nuts and chopped white chocolate by hand. The dough is very soft and sticky at this point, so cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and fridge for at least 1 hour. As with the best cookie recipes, this allows the flavors to develop but also prevents the cookie from spreading too much, giving it nice shape.

Doughballs

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350*F. Line a baking sheet with parchment, and using a large scoop (I used a 2 oz one), scoop out dough balls and place on the baking sheet, giving them 1-2″ of space. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges begin to get golden brown but the middle remains a bit soft. Remove from oven and allow cookies to set on tray before moving to a cooling rack. Enjoy with milk.

Cookie3

Cookie2

I think in the future, I may added shredded (and non-sweetened) coocnut flakes to this recipe for some fun texture. But it really is perfect. My cookies didn’t spread quite as thin as JTB – they remained big thick biscuits even after being cooled (similar to a Specialty’s cookie actually), but their soft tender texture cannot be beat. This is definitely on the ‘make again’ list.

Thanks for reading,
AnhD





Our Hens

24 03 2016

On IG, I frequently post pictures of the wonderful eggs we’ve been getting here. We got our first 2 hens almost exactly 1 year ago, and have expanded to a flock of five. On the one year anniversary, I figure it’s time to meet the cast of characters.

This Cochin is our flock favorite. She has feathery feet, the most beautiful plumage, a really gentle nature and generally accepts all hens equally. We haven’t seen her be mean ever. Of our hens, she was among the orignal 2, but was the last to start laying. Quite the late bloomer, but we love her pink speckled eggs.
Cochin

This is our Salmon Favorelle, who is also from our original two and also has feathery feet. She is bossy and the leader of the flock, making it very clear who’s who in the pecking order. She produces the most delicious small cream colored eggs – the yolks are the creamist of our flock, and we love them soft boiled or over-easy. Unfortunately, she is also the most vocal and hates being cooped up, so we frequently joke (or not) about turning her into chicken phở.
Favorelle

To these original two, we added to the flock a trusty Red Star, specifically chosen for her reliability in laying brown eggs. Many conventional farms use the red star breed to mass produce consistent brown eggs – it’s what the breed was bred to do. Our specific Red Star has tried to usurp the Salmon Favorelle, and the both of them are very vocal with each other. Now I think they co-exist in relative harmony. Red Star is also the most courageous of our flock – never shy to try the new foods we provide them, and almost always the first to eat grubs, larvae and other treats from our hands.
RedStar

With the Red Star, we also added this lovely Ameraucana, and she is famous for her green eggs. Unlike the others, she is skittish and very fowl-like. She is independent, seems indifferent to our presence and stoically tolerates the pecking order. She does not participate in enforcing the pecking order.
Ameraucana

The last to be added to our flock is this little girl Blue Wheaten Ameraucana, who produces these small blue eggs. It’s generally not a good idea to introduce a single, young pullet to a flock, as she’ll likely be bullied, but we protected her from the pecking and torment of the Favorelle and Red Star until she was big enough to fend for herself. As a little girl, she would often fly up onto David’s shoulder as it was the safest perch away from the others. Even now, she’s still the runt and at the bottom of the pecking order, but is a little bit smarter and faster, and able to secure her portion of her snacks and treats before the others get to it.
Wheaten

We are currently getting 4-5 eggs per day, depending on the weather. In the very near future, we’ll be adding a black copper maran (for those dark chocolate eggs) and likely bantam cochin for their gentle behavior and lovely features. In a future post, I’ll share other hen-tending tips and tricks for those of you who may be interested in starting your own brood. In the meantime, the Backyard Chicken community is a great place to start.

Chocolate Pudding
Source: Tyler Florence
Every so often, I get a bad case of chocolate cravings and I can’t ignore it or wish it to go away. Instead, I feed it… I feed it this chocolate pudding recipe, and it’s perfect. Quick and easy and oh-so satisfying. Be sure to use good cocoa powder (now is the time to pull out the Valrhona), the best eggs you can find (from our yard!), and good milk (Straus Family Creamery). I’m not usually an ingredient snob, but for something so simple, it’s important to use quality ingredients.

Ingredients
2 c whole milk
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c cocoa powder
4 tsp cornstarch
3 large egg yolks
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine salt
freshly whipped cream

Directions
Put 1-1/2 cups of the milk and sugar into a nonreactive saucepan, and bring to a very low simmer over medium-high heat, without scalding the milk. Remove from the heat, but keep warm.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of the milk, egg yolks, and vanilla in a bowl. Sift the cocoa powder and cornstarch right into the bowl to prevent any lumps and stir to combine. Pour 1 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture to help temper the custard, so that it does not scramble. Continue to whisk and add the remaining hot milk. Return the chocolate custard to the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the liquid boils, constantly whisking to prevent burns. Once boiling, reduce heat to maintain a small simmer, and continue to whisk until thick and resembles the consistency of pudding, up to about 5 minutes.
2016-03-21_02-25-23

Pour the warm pudding into individual cups. I used little tea cups. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before consuming. To serve, remove cups from fridge and top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. Enjoy.
2016-03-21_02-24-58

Like I said, this recipe is really simple. Prep/cook time takes about 20 minutes, and there’s that bit of waiting for the pudding to cool and set. I checked the pudding cups at the 2 hour mark and was impatient and just ate a whole cup then – they were fine. Not quite cold, but cool enough to be pudding and not liquid custard. This recipe is really chocolatey and velvety and not too sweet – infinitely better than the processed cups you find at the grocery store. This is totally worth the (small) effort, so go treat yourself, and make this chocolate pudding.
2016-03-21_02-12-04

Thanks for reading!
AnhD





Call to Action

20 03 2016

In the last few weeks, I’ve been pretty busy balancing work and volunteering and all my little side projects. One experience in particular keeps playing over and over in my head. Last weekend, I volunteered at a correctional facility – we’re talking small misdemeanors and light weight crimes – and I was blown away by the generosity and care of my fellow volunteers. They looked like your typical Bay Area “tech bros” and gals, armed with prestigious degrees and employers and privilege. But what separated them from the lot of tech bros we have in the Bay – these volunteers actually cared about who they were serving. They served with such dignity and graciousness, and I think the residents felt it too. There were smiles, there was human connection. Most of the volunteers stayed and chatted with the residents, long after we had served our meal. There were many rounds of chess, a few crossword puzzles being worked on, even a few helping read through paperwork and other documents. There is something so incredible and enriching about an experience like this. It gives me so much hope that there are still people out there who care to make these types of connections, who feel that it is still important to give back, who know that these small but meaningful actions have beautiful long-term consequences in the future.

What saddens me is that I’ve noticed that many students and children volunteer at their local soup kitchens and food pantries, but when they become working professionals and adults, they seem to lose sight of it and do not continue that activism. I can speculate any number of reasons for the atrition rate (lack of free time due to the demands of adulthood, resume-building volunteerism, fulfilling school or parental requirements, etc), but it still does not account for the huge attrition. I truly do believe that if each person dedicated just an hour or 2 each week (or even month!) to help one’s local community – whether it’s picking up garbage at the park, working with children in an afterschool setting, weeding in the community garden, cleaning kennels at the animal shelter, serving food to the poor, working to improve computer literacy, helping register and inform voters – the lives of the beneficiaries (and the givers!) would be so greatly improved. I really think there could be a domino effect here, where by building this human connection, we manufacture human empathy, we cultivate a culture of kindness, we nurture generosity, effectively mitigating hatred and all the associated negative behaviors that stem from hate. We begin the model the behavior we like, thereby mirror the behavior we expect from others. Maybe we can be the ones to stop the tidal wave of hatred and bigotry and ignorance that has seemingly infected our country. Are we so bold as to believe that kindness can improve the world? Are we so audacious as to believe that your and my generosity of time and resources can change the course of the future?

DSC_9168_edited

Semolina Cake with Strawberries and Cream
Loosely based on The Mediterranean Dish
I had this dessert at a Mediterranean restaurant nearby, and it was incredible! Moist and nutty – I absolutely love semolina flour. The recipe I tried wasn’t quite the same as the cake I had at the restaurant (so I’ll do more digging) – but this cake is pretty delicious. Tender and soft and sticky – so much yum, especially once grilled, then topped with some mascerated strawberries and a dollop of whipped yogurt cream. To make this a bit more Mediterranean, I flavored both the cake and cream with rose water and just a hint of vanilla, just to make things a bit more interesting. Enjoy!

Ingredients
Batter:
1/2 c tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 c sugar
1 c plain yogurt [I used Greek
2 c semolina flour
1/3 c milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp rose water
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Strawberries:
2 pints fresh strawberries
3 tbs sugar

Whipped Yogurt Cream:
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1/3 c Greek yogurt
2-3 tbs sugar, or to taste
splash of rose water

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease a loaf pan or small cake round.
To prepare the batter, in a large mixing bowl, mix together the sugar and yogurt, doing your best to beat out any lumps. Add the semolina, milk, baking powder, and melted butter, stirring to combine. Allow the mixture to sit for all the liquids to absorb. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake in oven for 30 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out dry. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool to room temp.

DSC_9146_edited

Meanwhile, small dice all the strawberries and throw into a bowl. Add sugar as needed and give it a toss. The strawberries will start to mascerate in just a few minutes, but may take up to 30 minutes to really start releasing juices and becoming syrupy. Toss occasionally to help with the process. I used about 3 tablespoons, but you can adjust that based on how tart or sweet your berries are.

While waiting for the cake to cool and the strawberries to mascerate, whip the heavy whipping cream until peaks form. Add Greek yogurt, sugar to taste, and just a splash of rose water, and gently fold into the whipped cream until the sugar dissolves and the yogurt is incorporated.

When ready to serve, slice the semolina loaf cake into 1″ slices, and grill each slice until brown. Plate the slice and serve with yogurt cream and berries. Enjoy!

DSC_9174_edited

I mentioned little side projects… if you follow me on IG, you’ll already know. But here are a few peeks.
MedBloomsNew

New_MG_0065

Thanks for reading,
AnhD





Hazy Eyes

20 03 2016

Not sure if any one else has this problem, but I spend a lot of my waking time day dreaming. I slip in and out of focus, hazy eyes staring off into a fuzzy parallel universe filled with all sorts of fantastical things… for me it’s dreams of a homestead, a flower farm, perhaps a few more degrees to add after my name, tenureship, my own bakery or coffeeshop, a non-profit start-up, a castle in the clouds. Maybe they’re driven by ambition, or perhaps worse, delusions of grandeur, or perhaps the worst – an underlying sign of discontentment. Whatever the case – they may seem harmless enough, but the reality is that they really do detract from the pursuit of one’s main goals. Sometimes, it’s really difficult to see through the fog or unclutter the noise… and what were daydreams get mixed up with real aspirations. There’s a part of me that acknowledges that time and energy are finite, and yet I am deeply conflicted in wanting to welcome and act upon each and every day dream. So what’s a girl to do?

DSC_9107_edited
Craisin Buns
Source: King Arthur Flour
I don’t dare call what I made here a hot cross bun, as they do not remotely resemble the KAF final product. Instead, I call these craisin buns – incredibly soft little pillows of spiced bread dotted with juice-soaked craisins. They’re delicious hot out of the oven and slathered with butter. Else, if you can wait for the things to cool a bit, feel free to pipe some icing over and eat at room temp. I’ve been eating these as a quick breakfast snack, and love the re-heated buns with a bit of butter and jam. I didn’t have any other dried fruits handy, but would love to add dried apricots and dates to this.

Ingredients
Dough:
1/4 c apple juice [I used left over apple cider]
1 c mixed dried fruit [I used craisins]
1 1/4 cu milk, room temp
2 large eggs
1 large egg, yolk only [save white for below]
6 tbs butter, room temp
1 packet instant yeast
1/4 c light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves or allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp salt
1 tbs baking powder
4 1/2 c all purpose flour

Glaze:
1 egg white
1 tbs milk

Icing:
1 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
4 tsp milk, or enough to make a thick icing

Directions
In a small bowl, combine the apple juice with the dried fruit, and microwave just enough until warm to help the fruit absorb the liquid. Use a spoon and give the fruit a gentle toss, and allow to cool to room temp. Grease a 9″x13″ baking pan and set aside.

DSC_9074_edited

Meanwhile, mix all the dough ingredients except the fruit, and knead using the dough hook of an electric mixer until soft and elastic. For me, this process never happened – it remained stubbornly shaggy, but still resulted in a delicious (albeit not pretty) bun. Next, add the fruit and any liquid that was not absorved, and use your hands or a greased wooden spoon to knead the fruit into the dough. I think I may have had too much liquid, thus a wetter, less kneadable dough – but again, still a delicious result. Cover the dough with a wet towel or piece of plastic wrap, and place in a warm place for about an hour until it’s bubbled a bit. For whatever reason, this dough doesn’t do much rising, but you can tell it’s done based on the bubbliness/puffiness.

DSC_9083_edited

Pinch the dough into 3 oz balls (KAF suggests billiard ball sizes), and snuggle them on your greased pan, so they are just barely touching. Cover the baking pan, and let the dough rise for another hour or until they’re squished up on each other.

DSC_9092_edited

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, make the glaze by whisking together 1 egg white and 1 tbs of milk, then brush over the dough balls.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
When buns are completely cool, mix together all the icing ingredients, adjusting as needed to form a pipeable icing. Then pipe icing over the buns (in a cross if you must, but really whatever you like). Enjoy!

DSC_9127_edited

Even as I’m sitting here eating my craisin bun, the back of my head is still running away with its fanciful imagination, day dreaming of a different reality. Again, ambition, delusion, discontent – all very fine lines between them. But whatever the catalyst – I appreciate it. I actually love it. For just a few short moments, I can escape and come back more rejuvenated to tackle whatever else lies ahead.

From this hour I ordain myself loos’d of limits and imaginary lines,
Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
Listening to others, considering well what they say,
Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
Gently,but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
I inhale great draughts of space,
The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

Thanks for reading,
AnhD





Me Day

31 01 2016

“How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here for ever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.” (Virgina Woolf, The Waves)

Every so often, I just need a day or two for myself. A few days of quiet. A few days just to introspect and collect myself and to recover from all the noise and activity. Life gets really busy, so I appreciate my solitude when I can get it.

Donut9

Cinnamon Brown Butter Puffs
Source: Smitten Kitchen
I’ve been wanting to make homemade donuts à la Hint of Vanilla, but I just haven’t had the time or an accomplice to help me in the kitchen. Luckily I stumbled on SK’s post and it is the perfect little donut hole to hold me over until I can make real donuts. Right out of the oven, these little puffs get dunked in melted browned butter and a cinnamon sugar dusting – soft and pillowy – such great cake donut holes. I recommend eating these within a few hours of making, as they become more dense and heavier with time.

Ingredients
Coating:
2/3 c granulated sugar
1 tbs ground cinnamon
6 tbs unsalted butter

Batter:
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/3 c unsalted butter, room temp
1 egg, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c buttermilk [or 1/2 c sour cream + 2 tsp lemon juice], room temp

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a mini muffin pan with non-stick spray or brush with melted butter.

For the coating: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat, stirring often, until the butter crackles and browns. There should be some solids floating in the butter, and it should smell very nutty and fragrant. Once dark brown (don’t want to burn it), remove from heat and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine sugar and cinnmaon, then set aside.

For the donut holes: In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add the sugar and cream until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg, and beat until combined. Add the buttermilk (or in my case – sour cream + lemon juice), and beat until very few lumps remain. Add the flour mixture, and mix just until combined. Do not over mix.

Donut1

Using a small ice cream scoop (I think mine is a 1 or 0.5 oz scoop), scoop batter into muffin cups. Using a small ice cream scoop keeps all the donut holes the same size, minimizes mess, and prevents over-filling of each muffin cup. I was able to get about 30 mini muffins. Bake for 10-14 minutes (depending on pan color and oven). Muffin-donuts will be done once a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Donut2

Once done, remove from oven and immediately durnk each muffin-donut hole into the browned butter. You can choose to dunk the whole puff, or just the tops. Either way, delicious. Allow excess butter to drip off before rolling the muffin-donut into the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Transfer to a wire rack and enjoy.

Donut4

These muffin-donut things don’t sit on the counter too long. David came home after work and probably wolfed down a dozen on his own. These are pretty tasty, and while not nearly as satisfying as real yeasted donuts, they definitely hit the spot. And given the effort-benefit ratio, you are getting so much yummy for very little effort. I highly recommend these.

Donut6

So this weekend, in focusing on myself – I had time for kitchen therapy. I cleaned. I cooked some more. I organized thousands of photos from our last few vacations. I finished up some loose ends at work. Ok – so it doesn’t sound much like ME time, but for me – this is ideal. For me, this is enough.

Donut7

Thanks for stopping by.
AnhD





New Heart

20 01 2016

The last few days have been so sastisfying – mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally. My kids and I spent a few days on the beach at a retreat focused on renewal, a clean state, a new path forward. I think sometimes we get weighed down a bit too much by the negative/bad things, and we get stuck there, becoming sullen or apathetic or cynical. It prevents us from doing anything meaningful, prevents us from moving to a productove place where we can work to improve on the bad. So through reflection and witness talks and prayer and introspection – we encouraged our students to acknowledge the mistakes of the past, and actively and fearlessly work toward a better future. An improved future. A future where one’s heart is no longer a sullen or apethetic or cynical heart of stone, but a new heart of flesh and love and optimism and idealism and a desire to do better.

Twist2

Tiramisu Cinnamon Twist Rolls
Adapted from Laura in the Kitchen
Now technically, I already have a favorite cinnamon roll recipe. But I tried these at a potluck and am now in love with the recipe. My friend who shared this with me also shared her tips for improving the recipe – the deviations are noted below. I proofed/rested this over night and rolled the dough the following morning – a perfect brunch treat without having to wake up early.

Ingredients
For the dough:
1 packet of active dry yeast
3/4 c whole milk
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/4 c butter, melted
4 c bread flour
2 tbs cocoa powder
1/4 c butter, melted (to brush over rolls pre-baking)

For the filling:
1/3 c butter, room temp
3/4 c light brown Sugar
1/4 c granulated Sugar
1 tbs ground cinnamon
2 tbs cocoa powder

For the frosting*:
3 tbs butter, room temp
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, room temp (cream cheese is ok too, but trying to keep this in line with the tiramisu theme)
1 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
a drizzle of whole milk as needed
*Frosting is optional. These are so delish as is.

Directions
In a small Pyrex measuring cup (the one with a lip), combine the warm water, 1 tsp of granulated sugar, and yeast. Let sit until the yeast activates and foams.

In a bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with a dough hook), mix the egg, milk, salt, sugar and melted butter. Add 2 cups of bread flour, cocoa powder, water, vanilla and the yeast mixture, until all incorporated. Slowly add the remaining bread flour, continuing to mix at slow then medium speed until the dough slaps against the bowl and forms a smooth (not shaggy dough).

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form into a ball. Place the dough ball into an oiled (or buttered or Pam’ed) bowl, rotating the ball as needed to coat with the non-stick substance (oil, butter or Pam). Cover with plastic and allow to rise at room temp in a warm place for 2-3 hours until dough doubles in size OR allow to rise in the fridge over night. The longer/slower rise time will actually let the dough develop some really great flavor and prevent the dough from rising too quickly, resulting in a much more satisfying and tender pastry.

Once the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough onto a floured surface and puch down. Roll out to an approximately 15″ x 9″ rectangle. Spread the soft butter over the dough. In a small bowl, mix the remaining filling ingredients, then sprinkle over the buttered dough. Fold the dough in half, then slice into 3/4″ width slices. Twist the strip of dough before tying a knot. Of course, you could roll the dough and slice like typical cinnamon rolls, but I am loving this twisted version, where you can see the filling swirled into the pastry. It’s so pretty. You can see step-by-step tutorial here. Either way, place the fold down onto a buttered baking pan. Cover and place in a warm spot and allow to rise for another 1-2 hours.

Twist1

Meanwhile preheat oven to 350*F. Brush the top of each bun with melted butter and bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown. While the twisted rolls are cooling, make the optional frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and vanilla extract. If the consistency is too thick, add a drizzle of milk to think it out as needed. Spread the frosting over the still-warm rolls and enjoy.

Twist3

After the beach, we drove to the mountains to go skiing at Squaw Valley. How incredible is it that with just a 4 hour drive, I can go from the beaches of Santa Cruz to the mountains of the Sierras? It really is amazing living here in California. What a fulfilling weekend. A really great start to 2016 so far. Can’t wait to see what else the year holds.

2016-01-12_05-40-26

Thanks for reading,
AnhD





Friendship

24 12 2015

One of the best parts of the holiday season is reuniting with far away friends and family who are finally home for the holidays. We may only see each other once a year or sometimes only once every few years, but the belly full of laughter always brings us all back together. And what I find really crazy is that no matter the time or space or life events that may have passed, we can still pick right back up as though nothing has changed. Or perhaps to phrase it better, that those changes don’t matter. That those changes haven’t fundamentally changed who we are at the core. So I wish you all a wonderful holiday season filled with love, peace, and joy, and to end a rather tough 2015 with lots of friendship and good cheer.

Gingerbread2

Gingerbread Bars
Source: Bon Appetit via Crepes of Wrath
Steph and Annie came over to make this, and I’ll say that we love this recipe and only made a few small tweaks. It’s soft and chewy and has a lot of lovely warm spices. I also love the crunchy raw sugar dusting on top – it makes a great crunchy crust and much needed texture to the cookie bar. I don’t love candied ginger, but if you chop it up really fine, it adds a great kick without being obtrusive to the cookie. I highly recommend it.

Ingredients
2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
10 tbs (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp and cubed
1 1/4 c (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup light (unsulfured) molasses
1 c candied ginger, finely chopped
1/2 c raw sugar (nice large crystals)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350*F F and line a 9×13-inch baking dish (or 2 8×8 or 2 pie tins) with parchment paper and butter (or spray with non-stick baking spray).
In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until well creamed and fluffy, scraping sides as needed. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Then add molasses and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients – flour and all spices, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until combined. Fold in the candied ginger pieces. Use a non-stick spatula or hands and spread the (very thick) dough into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup of raw sugar. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the bars a deep golden brown and set. Remove from oven and let cool before slicing and serving. Feel free to top with powdered sugar, melted white chocolate, lemon curd, or in my case – serve with a generous scoop of ice cream. Enjoy.
Gingerbread3

Every single bite tastes like Christmas and the holidays. I think these would be a great dessert after a big meal, but also a perfect late night cookie with some warm milk. Or perhaps put a few of these on a plate for Santa. Just saying – these are fantastic and perfectly embody the holiday season.
Gingerbread1

Best wishes and can’t wait to see what 2016 unveils!
AnhD








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 48 other followers