Monday, January 31, 2011

"Minimalist" Recipes

The famous "Minimalist" (i.e. Mark Bittman) has listed 25 of his favorite Minimalist recipes. Quite a bit of these are a little too meaty for me, but I'm sure some of you out there could appreciate them :)

A few that caught my eye...and may warrant a second trip to the grocery store this week...

Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs

Fennel and Celery Salad

are you drooling yet?

{images via here, here and here}

Friday, January 28, 2011

Moviestars and Bicycles

I'm a big fan of old, classic movies. Particularly during the holidays, I just can't seem to get enough of the singing and dancing that used to be a staple of american film.

But bicycles? Who knew?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gesine's Winter-Worthy Carrot Cake

Cakes are hard work. I will admit that when the going gets tough, and I'm craving baked goods, I usually go for making cookies or brownies- something that will not require me to utilize my horrendous icing skills. However, after reading Gesine's book, my mouth was salivating thinking about this recipe, along with all the other family recipes she so generously gives away to us common folk.

This is her legendary carrot cake. I was home this past weekend at my parents' house in PA. A fresh layer of powder was glistening on the tree limbs outside, and the bitter weather kept me housebound. What else is a girl to do but bake??

My arms were practically falling off after using my mom's ancient hand grater to "finely grate" an entire pound of carrots. (Afterwards, it was officially broken. woops.) However, it was well worth it. The cake only lasted through the weekend between myself, my mom, dad and the last piece polished off with my friend Nicole. EXTREMELY moist, fluffy, light, scrumptious. amazing.

cream cheese icing. the best.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


As many of you already may have noticed, I have a particular penchant for sugary, baked goods. I just barely manage to supplement my addiction with a steady running schedule that keeps me from being two tons too large.

One of my favorite (and most recent) reads is Gesine Bullock-Prado's book My Life From Scratch. I managed to craft a carrot cake from her recipe...located within the book...and also the recipe of famous sister Sandra Bullock's wedding cake. Pre divorce from idiot husband. (Do not fret, Gesine! My loyalty and star-worthy following belongs to you first and foremost.)

She is now coming out with a SWEET cookbook titled, Sugarbaby. Here are a couple book trailers, one from her original book Confections of a Closet Master Baker (now titled, My Life From Scratch) and Sugarbaby. enjoy and don't forget to treat yourself.

New Confections of a Closet Master Baker Trailer from Raymond Prado on Vimeo.

Sugar Baby Book Trailer from Raymond Prado on Vimeo.

(Gesine also has a swell blog: Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker and a website!)

{image via here}

Winter Wonderland

My dad is away on business in Steamboat Springs, Colorado for the week. He sent me this picture from his phone- isn't it gorgeous?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chocolate Bouchons!

Here is my take on the Chocolate Bouchon recipe I found after a mad search for something that would allow me to use my prized Valrhona Equatoriale (55%)...not to exaggerate or anything, but this is damn fine chocolate, and I wasn't about to waste it on just any recipe. I needed something rare and rich. I came upon a great re-make of the chocolate bouchon recipe from, where else, Bouchon Bakery! I put my faith in this blogger's take on the soft, moist chocolate cakes. However, I almost had a small coronary when I realized that I didn't have enough butter (24tablespoons) since my Christmas cookie baking spree wreaked havoc on my once-growing supply. After a moment of panic, I pulled out my oversized jar of olive oil and measured out the rest, mixed it with my 10 tbspns of melted butter, and said a few Hail Marys. It worked.

The Recipe:
Bouchon Bakery uses 2-ounce fleximolds and serves smaller bouchons. 3-ounce (2-inch to 2-1/2-inch diameter) timbale molds or silicon muffin molds can be used for larger cakes. I don't have silicon molds, though, so I just used my cupcake tins.

Recipe Makes 12 servings of the smaller bouchons or 16 brownies using muffin molds.

Butter and flour for the timbale molds
3-1/2 ounces (3/4 cup) all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1-1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
24 tablespoons (12 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and slightly warm **I only had 10 tblspns of butter available, so I substituted with pure olive oil. However, if you've got the butter, use it!
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, such as Valrhona Equatoriale (55%) chopped into pieces the size of chocolate chips
Confectioners’ sugar

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 12 timbale molds. Set aside.

2) Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in another large bowl if using a handheld mixer, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until very pale in color. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then 1/3 of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. (The batter can be refrigerated for up to a day.)

3) Put the timbale molds on a baking sheet. Place the batter in a pastry bag without a tip, or with a large plain tip, and fill each mold about 2/3 full. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes (30 to 32 minutes for the muffin pans). When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test one cake with a wooden skewer or toothpick. It should come out clean but not dry (there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate). Transfer the bouchons to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the timbale molds and let the bouchons cool upside down in the molds; then lift off the molds. (The bouchons are best eaten the day they are baked.)

4) To serve: Invert the bouchons and dust them with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with ice cream if desired.

[Recipe via Bouchon by Thomas Keller]

The Result: moist, chocolate-y bouchons. I used my special stash of earth-friendly cupcake holders, since they were intended (mostly) for care packages destined for Dallas and Boston and I didn't want them to arrive as anything but in fanciful order.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Road Rage

Baltimore isn't exactly your most "bike friendly" city. There are virtually no bike lanes. There is this sad excuse for a lane that the city likes to install once and awhile, called a "sharrow." It's really just a stencil of a bike on the road in the middle of a car lane...ya know...just to remind people "HEY! We're riding here, too!" Of course, that's after they drive you off the road and into a snowbank.

Therefore, when I see pictures like this (above), it makes me dream of living in a city that lets me bike freely, without the constant fear of bike theft, non-existent lanes and selfish drivers. Won't you join in on this dream with me? If you live in Baltimore, or any city where cyclists aren't exactly seen as equals to cars, email your local Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner. Here is Baltimore's one-man show:

Nate Evans
Baltimore Bicycle & Pedestrian Planner

I don't expect to see the likes of a European city any time soon, but maybe a few extra lanes (not sharrows) would be nice.
{image via the sartorialist}

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Desk Dancing

Pandora is very good to me on those days where I just can't seem to sit still at my desk and focus Here is a helpful Carol King-themed playlist for those desk doldrums. (It helps if you throw your hands up in the air and do a few loosely bouncing dance moves...)

Where you Lead I Will Follow (Carole King feat. Louise Goffin live)
Dancing in the Moonlight (King Harvest)
Beautiful (Carole King)
Both Sides, Now (Joni Mitchell)
Moondance (Van Morrison)
Wild World (Cat Stevens)

"You gotta get up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart then people gonna treat you better..."(Beautiful, Carole King)

Sometimes, I truly believe that a song is there for you when you need it most.

Tomorrow is Friday. 'Nough Said.

{image via here}

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ode to Chocolate Croissants

I could eat them all day.

{image via here}

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 knitting

There is an adorable little blog that has just begun, called These two friends decided to combine their powers and create a blog devoted to their cute knit creations. and oh! I'm a co-creator (hehe)! You should all check it out, as it will begin to blossom throughout the coming weeks. We've just started, and we still have a long way to go (i.e. an Etsy shop is in the making), but I thought that I would share the news with my loyal readers here! I will still be writing on this blog, of course.

We're looking for our own band of followers, so if you're interested please follow us! Thanks in advance for all the support and I look forward to continuously giving you lovely things to look at, read and now wear :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sartorialist mini-doc

This is a fun/interesting little documentary done on Scott Schumann a.k.a. The Sartorialist.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chance of Snow

Later this week, Lady Baltimore is calling for a chance of snow (50% chance, according to I'm not exactly thrilled, since mommy dearest is supposed to come visit, and may have to postpone her plans, depending on the extent of this "chance."

The upside? It's going to be beautiful! I love snow-laced everything. Trees, rooftops, sidewalks, gates, all outlined in fresh powder. Take a look at these pictures of snow-laden Paris and tell me it's not a site to be had?

{via here}

And who can forget last year's Baltimore blizzard of 2010? (if you were in Baltimore, that is...)

Not to sound too selfish or anything, but it would be rather nice if my mom got snowed INTO Baltimore...and work was conveniently canceled...a girl can dream!

Monday, January 3, 2011

When Worlds Collide and Make Magical Things Happen.

If you haven't heard about THIS then it's about time. Call it a restoration of your faith in humanity and all that is good and pure in this world. (Sounds like I'm exaggerating, but I'm really not.) This is genuine love. Not love for your husband, or love for your family, but simple love for our fellow men and women on this earth. As Jenny, the now infamous blogger, quotes at the end of her more-infamous post...

"Never Doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." (Margaret Mead)

Yes, I feel a bit selfish (okay, very selfish) for not being one of those hundreds of individuals who gave selflessly to this cause. However, what I now look forward to is keeping this story in mind when I am otherwise upset at the dismal situation of this country and this world. Rather than complaining, I will contribute and conspire to make things better, even if just a little bit. I hope you'll join me in doing the same.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Who Gives Up Sweets as a New Years Resolution?

New Years resolutions can be tricky things. How many of us actually follow our new years resolutions through to the very end? By summertime, my list has made it to the bottom of my papers somewhere and is usually lost until I find it a few years later. One thing I'm very careful about is to never make resolutions about giving up this or giving up that- my addiction to things such as coffee, cupcakes, and other varieties of sweets is just a lifestyle that I refuse to give up. Some things are meant to be savored. However, other resolutions are well worth the dedication.

Putting my resolutions out there for the world to see (or at least, my small band of loyal followers, the sweet souls that you are!) will be a small step towards actually KEEPING my resolutions. So shall I begin?

1. Keep my New Years resolutions

2. Get to nursing school! There is an inordinate amount of prerequisites for nursing school, and as one of those "oh, I don't need science classes, I'm an International Studies major!" people, I get to have Karma give me a good kick in the pants, starting with Biology.

3. Bake and cook whatever whenever wherever. Be adventurous with that new food processor and handy cookbook collection.

4. Share more. We all have a little extra to share.

5. Be more creative. Whatever happened to those piano lessons? Knitting needles? Must dig up that hidden talent and keep it polished! or at least remove the rust.

5. Do everything for a greater cause, and wake up with that goal in mind each and every morning.

6. Be a better neighbor, sister, daughter, friend, girlfriend, dog owner/mommy.

Best of luck to all of you out there with your own new years resolutions!

Also, thank you for being a part of this blog, reading when you have the opportunity, and even joining in on the banter at times. May you have a Beautiful New Year.