Construction done…for now

The kitchen is done!

Granted, the kitchen has been done for several months but I now know where everything is.

We ended up taking on a lot more than intended including replacing the subfloor, ugh. I did learn how to use the tilesaw though and tiled the floors and backsplash.


I’m obsessed with the countertops and I sure as hell should be given the cost of granite these days. By far my favorite piece is the waterfall edge on the countertop. It’s so pretty, unique, and I just love it!

I’ve cooked many staple meals since we completed the kitchen and can’t wait to start busting out new recipes!


More to come!

Under Construction

Slowly but surely I am climbing out of construction purgatory. “Under construction” is quite literal as the home I bought turned into more of a project than anticipated. Thank the lord I am not going at this alone and my boyfriend turns out to be quite the handyman/Google researcher! To add to the madness, I decided to put my house on the market while under construction -clearly I am off my rocker! The kitchen at the new house, we call her Lizzy, was supposed to be a “down the road” project. Well, it was all the drywalls fault and shitty 60 cabinets. So IKEA kitchen planner and I are becoming fast frenemies! As a Swede myself, even I can say…wtf?!?!

Kitchen(above) pre-demo

The above was the original stove!


Kitchen post demo

Now the exciting part of all of this are the new appliances! How do you know you’re adulting?! You ask your love for a 5 burner gas range with a double oven for your birthday/Christmas present! Eeekkksss I am so excited!

I have eaten so much pizza, chic fil-a, and pre-made trader joes salads that I am giddy for the day I can cook an actual meal!

Carrot Cake

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There is nothing better than Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting!  I am of the opinion that the quality of the Cream Cheese Frosting will either make or break the cake.  Being particularity picking about this tidbit is important because I do not like overly-sweet frosting and really like to taste the tang of the cream cheese.  Do not even think about putting toasted coconut on mine, no way!

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Growing up, my Mom let every family member choose their birthday meal and cake.  We pretty much knew what each person would request and thankfully we all had a different cake requests.  Mine obviously was Carrot Cake, the best, so it wasn’t until I left the nest that I realized I would have to get the recipe.  The entire cake is made in a Cuisinart so when I inherited my Grandmother’s machine I was ready to wreck havoc!  I have now made this recipe for several like-minded friends birthdays who also love Carrot Cake, so it is now a go-to.

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You’ll notice on this recipe that I do not have an end shot of the final result and there is two reasons why.  I wasn’t particularly thrilled about the final presentation to remember to take a picture and laundry was being switched over.  Secondly, I brought it over to a friends house for a house-party and it was devoured before I could take a picture.  Apparently it paired well with the cheese and crackers that were set out as appetizers.

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Carrot Cake – Abby Mandel’s Cuisinart Classroom

While this is made in a Cuisinart, you can obviously make it without one.

 

The Goods: 

Cake:

  • 2 C. Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking soda
  • 2 tsp. Baking powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. Ground allspice
  • 1 Tbs. Cinnamon
  • 7 Large, dried pitted prunes
  • ¾ C. Pecans
  • 5 Med. Carrots ( 3 C. Shredded)
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 2 C. Sugar
  • 1 ½ C. Canola Oil
  • ¾ C. Golden Raisins

Frosting:

  • 8 Oz. Cream Cheese
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract

 

The Process:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle level
  2. Turn to 325 degrees
  3.  In the Cuisinart:
  4. Metal Blade – Mix: all dry ingredients and process for 2 seconds.  Leave 1 Tbs of mixture in bowl but transfer the rest to another.
  5. Add prunes to the flour mixture and process for 10 seconds.
  6. Add nuts and process for 5 seconds.
  7. Transfer to another bowl.
  8. Shredding disc: Shred the carrots and add them to the bowl with the prune mixture.
  9. Metal blade: Put eggs and sugar in processor and process for 1 minute or until it’s thick and light colored.  Add oil and process for 1 minute or until fluffy, only stopping to scrape down the sides.  Add dry ingredients and combine by pulsing 5-6 times until the flour disappears, do not over-process.
  10. Add Batter, carrots and prunes, and raisins to mixture and combine well but not over process.
  11. Pour batter into a greased and flour pan and smooth with spatula.
  12. Bake for 55 minutes.
  13. Allow cake to cool.
  14. Make Cream Cheese frosting by combining: cream cheese, powdered sugar (to taste), and 1/4-1/2 tsp of vanilla (adjust to taste).
  15. Top with Cream Cheese frosting.

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Lemon Poppy Seed Bread Somewhere in the transition from winter to spring my sweet tooth comes into full bloom.  I was craving something sweet and soft.  Something to fulfill my mid-morning snack and was easy to make. Voila, this Lemon Poppy Seed Bread satisfied all my cravings.  The hardest part was removing my hands from it and sharing with others

Lemon Poppy Seed Batter

To make this a little lighter and remove some of my guilt, I opted out of making the icing.   This really meant that I could cut myself a slice immediately rather than having to wait for the icing to dry.

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaves

This is one of those easy recipes that is great to have on hand for a brunch party or a light summer dessert.  Slices some strawberries and top with fresh whip cream for a more decadent version.

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaves

Lemon Poppy Seed Bread

Adapted from: A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Makes: 3 mini loaves

The Goods:

  • 1 1/2 C. Flour
  • 1 1/4 C. Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 Tbs. Poppy Seeds
  • 3/4 C. Milk
  • 1/2 C. + 1 Tbs. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Almond Extract
  • 2 Tbs. Freshly Grated Lemon Zest

The Process:

  1. Preheat Oven to 350 degress.
  2. Spray 3 mini loaf pans with non-stick spray
  3. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients together.
  5. In small batches, incorporate the dry and wet mixtures together.
  6. Mix well
  7. Pour into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool.

Lighter Chocolate Banana Pound Cake

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What would a Valentines Day be without chocolate?  This was a fresh take on an old favorite recipe of my Mom’s and I was thrilled with how it turned out.  I love trying to play with recipes to make them healthier and lighter.  In this recipe I substituted some of the sugars with mashed bananas.  Yes, it changes the taste of this cake entirely because you can taste the banana in it.  After making the pound cake and carrot dog treats for the weekend it was time to pack for a romantic getaway.

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The romantic getaway for intended for Cupid’s Holiday did not turn out as well as intended after one of the dogs ate an entire box of chocolates and the puppies small bladder.  After a hellish drive up to the mountains I was presented with a beautiful valentines day presentation.  Taking it all in, we rushed to make dinner reservations only to head back to the cabin where we found one less box of chocolates.  For a 12 lb. little dog to consume 12 chocolates is like a human consuming 12,000 calories of chocolate.  As you can imagine, we freaked because the town literally shuts down at 9pm and there is no grocery store, pharmacy, or gas station open past that hour.  We drove to the Stanley Hotel, where we had earlier had a drink, and found a security guard who was able to supply us with Hydrogen Peroxide.  After man-handling the dog into taking down the hydrogen peroxide, we then had the aftermath to deal with: 2 hours of dog cleanup.

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Between a sick boy, a sick dog, a tired girl, and a new puppy, we left saying “next time, no dogs.”  I’ve always believed that these are the “real” moments when you evaluate your partner to see if you can handle these challenges together.  If I had to grade us, I would give us an A which is why we rewarded ourselves with Chick-fil-a and this chocolate pound cake; a well deserved splurge if you ask me!

And here now is my little monster of a pup…more to come on Kona!

kona

Chocolate Banana Pound Cake

The Goods:

Parenthesis = High Altitude adjustment

  • 3 C. flour (+ 1/4 C)
  • 1/2 C. Cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
  • 2 C. Sugar
  • 2. Mashed Bananas
  • 1 C. Butter
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 C. Milk (+ 3 Tbs)
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla

The Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Sift the dry ingredients together.
  3. Cream the Sugar, butter, bananas, and add eggs one at a time.
  4. Combine the Milk and the Vanilla and add to the sugar mixture.
  5. Add the flour and liquid mixture alternately in 3 batches.
  6. Grease a 10″ Tube Pan or Bread pans and back for 60 minutes.
  7. Let Cool

Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted Caramel Sauce giftsI surprised myself and really got into the holiday spirit this year.  I have finally begun to love my house after hating it for several months and have gotten my cheer back.  After dumping my savings into my renovation, I still wanted to make a little Christmas gift for some of my good friends that wouldn’t break the budget.  Not wanting to do the typical cookie, I came across this Salted Caramel recipe and decided to look no further.

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One of my first childhood recipes was putting caramel sauce on strawberry ice cream.  I know, it sounds weird and I am sure I made that up on the fly but it’s actually really good.  My Grandmother, bless her heart, skeptically tried it to please me and ended up really liking it.  Or maybe that was also a lie…hmmmm…will need to revisit that one.

Caramel changing colors

What I like about caramel is that it is versatile enough to jazz up fruit, top ice cream, and let’s not forget it’s amazing pairing with chocolate.

Cooling Caramel

Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes 1 1/2 C. Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 1/4 C. Water
  • 3/4 C. Heavy Cream
  • 3 1/2 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
  • 1 tsp. Crushed Sea Salt

The Process:

  1. In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar disolves.
  2. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring.
  3. Use a wet pastry brush to push down any of the sugar crystals on the side of the pan.
  4. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 5-6 minutes(keep an eye on this as it is REALLY easy to burn it because it keeps cooking a but when you take it off the heat).
  5. Remove the sugar from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream.  The mixture will bubble and steam will be released, so be careful of your hands.
  6. Stir in the unsalted butter and the salt.
  7. Transfer caramel to a dish and let cool.

Caramel will keep in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.  Reheat before serving.

Brown Butter Cherry Bars

Brown Butter

I am back! After a few months stint of couch surfing and living in construction hell, I am back cooking in my kitchen and it’s so wonderful.

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Cherries

While I was couch surfing, I made these brown butter cherry bars to take to a picnic.  I have made them before and love them.  They’re decadent and rich but somehow they don’t stop you from taking a second or third.

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Brown Butter Cherry Bars adapted from Bon Appetit

Preheat oven to 375

Crust:

  • 7 Tbs. Unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 C. Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 C. + t Tbs. All-Purpose Flour
  • pinch of salt

The Process:

  1. Line 8×8 baking pan with wax paper.  
  2. Mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in a med bowl.
  3. Add flour and salt and stir until mixed.
  4. Transfer dough to the pan and press dough evenly across the bottom.
  5. Bake crust until golden brown – about 15 mins, let cool and maintain oven temp.
  6. Make the filling.

Filling:

  • 1/2 C. Sugar
  • 2 Lg. Eggs
  • 1/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Lb. Sweet Cherries, pitted. (If frozen, thawed and drained)
  • 1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • pinch of salt

The Process

  1. Cook butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until deep nutty brown, stirring often, about 6 minutes.
  2. Take off heat and transfer to a measuring cup and cool slightly.
  3. Whisk in sugar, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. Gradually whisk in butter into egg mixture and mix until well blended.
  5. Arrange cherries on dough and gently pour the butter mixture over the cherries.
  6. Bake bars about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let cool completely before transferring to a cutting board and cut into squares.