Sunday, June 29, 2014

Attempting the Poached Egg

For the past two days I've been trying to perfect the poached egg.  I Googled "poached egg recipe" and of course, there were a lot of them.  I settled on the most straightforward (and shortest), explanation on how to prepare the poached egg (and not to mess it up).  Well, I think I was successful.  Sure there are much prettier poached eggs out there but I'm pretty happy with the one I made for this morning's breakfast.  I sprinkled a tiny bit of chili pepper over the egg, and ate it with a low carb tortilla. What do you think?

The following technique for poached eggs is the one I used and is taken from the site, Simply Recipes :

  • Fresh eggs
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons vinegar (rice vinegar works well) (optional)

Equipment needed


1 First bring water in a saucepan to almost boiling. If the water is already boiling, lower the heat until it is no longer boiling. At this point, you can add one or two teaspoons of vinegar to the water, if you want. The vinegar will help the egg whites to congeal more easily. 

2 Working with the eggs one by one, crack an egg into a small cup, then place the cup near the surface of the hot water and gently drop the egg into the water. With a spoon, nudge the eggwhites closer to their yolks. This will help the egg whites hold together.

3 Turn off the heat. Cover. Let sit for 4 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked.

4 Lift eggs out of pan with a slotted spoon.

One trick to make the eggs stay somewhat contained is to take a ring from a mason jar and place it in the pan. Drop the egg over the mason jar ring and let it settle in the ring, then turn off the heat and cover.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Breakfast of Champions

Oh, how could I resist a chocolate bar donut? The answer is, I cannot.  Especially a freshly baked one, still warm and soft in the middle. Drool.

This was one of my breakfast items for this last day of  a very long work week.

So, what was the other?  This lovely, delicate, not-so-sweet-but-oh-so-good strawberry and custard filled croissant, dusted with powdered sugar.

Fridays never tasted so good!

What is your sweet indulgence on this Friday?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A few treasures

One of my favorite past times is scouring thrift stores and yard sales so please allow me to share some of the fun things I've found over the years. 

This cute dish set was something I bought at a nearby thrift store. I use the plate and bowl almost every day...makes me feel like a kid again!  Unfortunately, I broke the cup after pouring hot water in it. My bad.

This one is an old A&W Root beer mug.  I cannot recall where I found it but I can tell you it's quite heavy!

and this is a pretty vintage piece from Fire King which I bought in the mountain town of Wrightwood, CA last year during their annual Memorial Day city-wide yard sale:

Some vintage trays I've collected,

and this plate reminded me of something my mom had from the 1970's:

Do you like to go to second hand stores and yard sales?  If so, what do you enjoy looking for and what are some of your favorite finds?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

No June Gloom Here

Not in the least, especially when you bake a batch of these Sunshine Cupcakes!   This is a revisit of an old recipe I found on the back of my Swan Downs Cake Flour box.  I first baked these deliciously moist cupcakes, actually called 1-2-3-4 Cake, 5 years ago and I remember how they put a big smile on my face back then.  Nothing's changed as these cupcakes still make the gloomiest of June days happy and bright.  Enjoy!

Sunshine Cupcakes (aka, Swan Downs’ 1-2-3-4 Cupcakes): (when halved, makes 12 regular sized cupcakes)
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups sifted cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Cream butter. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Sift flour with baking powder and salt. Add eggs one at a time to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture alternately with milk and flavorings, beating after each addition until smooth. Baking: Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch layer pans, using about 2-1/3 cups batter in each pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans and finish cooling on racks

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Watching My Garden Grow

I never really thought of myself as a "gardener".  No, not me, the person who cannot remember to water the hibiscus shrubs that were planted two years ago, or who kills pretty much every potted herb I pick up at the farmer's market.  But, this year would be different, I told myself.  I was determined to start my own vegetable garden and with the help of my sister-in-law and friends who are experienced gardeners, I did it!

Yes, it's still a work in progress but it's fun "work" and it brings me lots of joy.

Let's take a stroll, shall we?

Raised garden bed



Green Bell Peppers

Oregano, green onions, Celebrity tomatoes

Red onions

Kale and Lettuce


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Retro Food!

Do you remember Goober?  I sure do! A friend reminded me of this blast-from-the-past treat the other day and I knew I had to run out and buy myself a jar.  So after work tonight, that's what I did.  I remember as a kid being so fascinated by the swirls of jelly and peanut butter all in one jar.  I also remember spreading this yumminess onto some Wonder Bread and eating it with a glass of ice cold milk.  I actually ate this for dinner tonight...shhh...don't tell anyone! 

What are some foods you remember from your childhood?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cookies for your best friend

Like most dogs, my two bullys love getting treats.   I try to keep their snacking to a minimum and  most of the time will give them wholesome foods like baby carrots, frozen green beans, or apple slices to munch on.  Every once in awhile though I do love baking them something special like these pup-cookies which by the way, they happily gobbled up!

The recipes comes from the Allrecipes website and are quick and easy to prepare.  You probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen.

One side note: If you have some fun, doggy cookie cutters then by all means, use them! I am still on the hunt for some myself, so for now, my heart shape cookie cutters will have to do.  Tate and Finn didn't seem to mind though.

Puppy Cookies:

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 whole eggs
2 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp salt (I forgot to put this in)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I omitted this)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit

Simply mix everything together in a large mixing bowl. Form the dough into a ball and place on a board to roll the dough out. You will need to add some extra white flour to the dough and the board as you roll the dough. Use cookie cutters to make shapes of your choice. (if dough gets sticky, wet your hands and it will be easier to work with).

Bake for approx. 30-35 minutes. Check cookies at 25 minutes as cooking times do vary with ovens and these can burn easily.

These can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week (in an airtight container).

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sometimes a recipe can be as simple as three ingredients.
This side dish for tonight's dinner is a good example. After frying some bacon, I added a little minced garlic to the bacon drippings, and then some beautiful Swiss chard, picked from my sister-in-law's garden.  My motto for summer cooking: Keep It Simple Silly (but make sure it tastes good too).

If you're craving crepes...

I have a place to recommend! It's in the city of Orange (that's Orange, CA), located in a mini strip mall and someplace I likely would have passed by had it not been for my niece's elementary school "graduation".  That's where we went for brunch last week, after the sixth grade ceremony.

As I'm typing this I realize I only took one picture of the delicious Peanut Butter and Jelly crepe. I won't fret too much about this though since I  plan on going back very, very soon and will add more photos later!

The restaurant is very small yet cozy.  There's both indoor and outdoor seating and is situated next door to an H&R Block.  So, as you're getting your taxes done, you can grab a crepe and coffee!  What struck me most about the restaurant was the staff.  Very warm and friendly folks.  The lady who took our order had a French accent so I'm thinking, 'this has got to be the real stuff!'  You know, the kind of crepes you'd find in Paris?!  You order at the counter and then find yourself a seat.  We sat outside since the weather was so lovely that day.

The servers brought out our utensils, drinks, and food.  Again, very friendly and accomodating. 

Onto the crepe...
I found the crepe itself to be not too thin and not too Goldilocks would say, 'Just Right!'  The texture reminded me a little bit of injera, the Ethiopian "bread" that is a staple in their cuisine. Inside my crepe was a nice, even layer of creamy peanut butter and orange marmalade. The crepe was beautifully presented with a dusting of powdered sugar. By the way, the coffee was very good too!

Others in my party ordered more savory crepes...some filled with eggs, avocado, kale. My niece and nephew opted for some sweet flavors...Oreo cookies and vanilla ice cream with strawberry sauce, for instance.

The prices here are very reasonable.  For a party of five, the total was around $45.00 and that included coffee, cappucino, and hot chocolate.

All in all, I would definitely make the trek down to OC for another crepe fix. I'm already thinking about which one I should order next...

The Crepeland
2279 N. Tustin Ave
Orange, CA

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I guess I should introduce myself since this is officially my first day blogging.  I'm not new to the blog-world but you can say I haven't had my own blog for a long time now.  It's been a few years, in fact! I used to blog on in case anyone wants to peruse some of my old recipes from that time in my life.

I wanted to expand a little on the title of my blog.

I'm truly a baker.  I LOVE baking! Ever since my first Easy Bake Oven when I was 10 years old, I've had the whisk and mixing bowl glued to my side.  Well, okay, not literally, but you get the picture.  I bake all sorts of foods from yeast breads to quick ones, from cookies to cakes, from cupcakes to muffins, etc..etc...

And then there are my bulldogs.  Yes, my two loves, Finn and Tate. So, it wasn't a stretch deciding on the title of my blog. My two favorite things in life, really. Pretty cinchy, eh?

Sunday Baking

Wishing all you dads out there, whether you are dad to a fur-kid or the human kind, an awesome Father's Day!

I have no dad to celebrate Father's Day with as my own dad passed away in 2006.  He's always on mind though, and someone I'm dedicating today's blog post to.

Today I baked something really delicious.  The recipe for Apricot-Blackberry Cornmeal Kuchen comes from a worn copy of Low Fat Cooking by Sunset Magazine.  I've had this cookbook for 20 years now, I think. I remember making the vegetarian lasagna on page 66 for my mom who requested that recipe numerous times.  She's no longer alive but her spirit and love for cooking inspires me to be a better and better cook.

If you love fresh apricots then I highly encourage you to check this recipe out.  First of all, it's really easy to put together.  Seriously!  And second of all, it uses very little fat so it doesn't have a whopping ton of calories in it.  And finally, it's delicious.

If you can find some juicy, sweet organic apricots like I did at the Pasadena Farmer's Market yesterday, then all the better.  The organic blackberries I used came from Whole Foods market however but they're still really good too.

Okay, enough of my's the recipe!

1/2 Cup EACH AP flour and yellow corn meal
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used melted coconut oil)
5 medium sized fresh organic apricots, cut in half and pits removed
10 organic blackberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions-In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, and baking powder, until well blended. Set aside.In a medium sized bowl, combine egg, brown sugar, buttermilk, and oil. Beat with a whisk until well blended. Add buttermilk mixture to cornmeal mixture and stir just until dry ingredients are evenly moistened.
Spread battering in a greased 8-inch round baking pan or quiche pan. Gently press apricot halves, pitted sides up, into batter. Place a berry in hollow of each apricot half.
Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree farenheit oven until center of cake feels firm when lightly touched (approx. 30-35 minutes). Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Let cool slightly, then cut into wedges and serve warm. Makes 8 generous servings.