Yule Log // Holiday Greetings

Seasons Greetings everyone! I can’t believe it is already Christmas Eve! Last night it was around 80 degrees here, we had to put the air conditioner on. Is that holiday weather or what?!

Yule LogIt’s been quite an eventful Holiday season so far; I’ve been working at a variety of schools and clubs teaching after school science classes. My family and I went to Magic Kingdom one morning to participate in a filming of a Christmas special. It was fun and a great start to our Holiday season.

I was sick for about a week with an awful chest and sinus cold. I swear I couldn’t hear out of my right ear for the entire duration of the cold. Thankfully I’m finished with it, but unfortunately its latched onto my brother. He’s always sick on Christmas morning.

Last year I made a Yule Log and my family was begging for me to make it again. My sister and I decided to make a video about the recipe. It’s fun and easy to make and makes a great Holiday center piece.

Chocolate Yule Log

  • Servings: 12
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Ingredients
FOR THE SPONGE CAKE:

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

FOR THE MOCHA CREAM FILLING

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

FOR THE MOCHA BUTTERCREAM

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon brewed coffee
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons 2% milk

DIRECTIONS

1. Line a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan with parchment paper; grease the paper. Place egg whites in a small bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks on high until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored. Combine the flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to egg yolk mixture until blended.
3. Beat egg whites on medium until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Stir a fourth into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites until no streaks remain.
4. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until cake springs back (do not overbake). Cool for 5 minutes; invert onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Peel off parchment paper. Roll up in the towel, starting with a short side. Cool on a wire rack.
5. In a large bowl, beat cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and coffee granules. Beat until stiff peaks form; chill. Unroll cooled cake; spread filling to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up again. Place on serving platter; chill.
6. In a large bowl, beat frosting ingredients until smooth. Frost cake. Using a fork, make lines resembling tree bark. Yield: 12 servings.

This cake is really light and complements a smooth cup of coffee of a mug of hot cocoa.

Yule Log

Yule Log

Happy Holidays!

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An Expensive Postage Stamp

It’s been two years since my grandfather’s passing, and I still cannot grasp the reality of it. Just yesterday, I was picking up the mail and got a letter addressed to “Stanley”. Even though it was junk mail and it was sent out among millions, it still felt like it possessed a piece of him.

He was everything to me. We shared common interests, and I would always find myself in his living room reading through his countless “Cooks Illustrated” magazines. I wanted to write him a letter, and although it’s postage might be costly, I know he will read it eventually.

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Dear Poppy,

You have always been in my life ever since I was brought into this world twenty-two years ago. We have always been close, and in the beginning when Nanny passed away, we moved in with you to help you. Although I do not remember these events personally, photographs and videos remind me of the great times I had in your home. I do however remember the days when you and Dad worked at the “Incredible Balloon”, a company you both owned. I would come into your offices and play with all of the stuffed animals and balloons.

Stan

(L:R) My Uncle, Poppy, My Mother

When I turned five, we moved to Poway, and you stayed in your house for a little while. But you couldn’t stay away from us! As I played with Hayley, my younger sister, in our backyard, we would see you working away with your side-kick, Hunter, the gruff dachshund.You possessed a green thumb; always knee deep in the dirt making the plants come alive. You had even started a vegetable garden in the back lot near the creek. Imaginative games would come alive within the walls of the towering tomato plants. The scent of the freshly dewed tomato will always remind me of those fantastic summer days spent with you. Diving in between the tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, green beans, and even pumpkins. We would run from the kitchen with baskets and look in awe at all of the enormous produce we had harvested.

You moved closer to us, but you still seemed too far away. Your job at the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park made you smile as you got to talk to people, and got paid for it. At this time our family had decided a remodel was in order, and a new apartment was built for you. Custom with your own private entrance, having you so close made spending time and making memories with you so much easier.

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Showing where I worked

If it wasn’t for you, I would not be who I am today. It was your influence and your love for food that inspired me to pursue my career. I remember walking barefoot into your new kitchen. We had just laid out the linoleum, and the room smelled fresh and new. Big band music was playing, and you were there spinning romaine in the salad spinner. Each leaf dancing to the tunes of Sinatra. I hopped up near the counter and helped as you prepared caesar salad from scratch. The anchovy paste oozed out onto the table spoon sending the fishy scent into my nostrils. You always cut away the inside of every romaine leaf. “The lettuce should be tender but not too crunchy.”

Salad was not the only thing we made. You had an amazing crepe maker and one day we decided to make crepes for the family. We blended up the batter and using the machine we made paper thin crepes to be filled with jam and whipped cream. Whenever the History channel was not on, Food Network flashed across the screen. We always had a love for food in common, and without you I don’t know what I would be doing today.

484130_4603087360322_1031136610_nOne day, you got an infection in your hip which required you to stay in the hospital for months, and learn how to maneuver in a wheel chair. You never let that chair stop you from doing anything. You amazed us as you drove from San Diego to Bend, Oregon with Hunter right beside you in the passenger seat. You went on trips with us, and always had a smile on your face. You never let a handicap stop you.

Always independent, and brilliantly sharp, you were a talking history book. I would sit in awe at the stories you would tell me about your youth. I wish I could hear more; more about your life in loud New York City after the depression. I remember you telling me a story once about how the mob looked after your father’s store. I wanted to know more about your childhood, and your teenage years– Going to college and meeting Nanny.

People were shocked when you moved to Florida. Not about the fact that you moved, but how you got to Florida. You flew, by yourself to Orlando. Not only that, you took the city bus to get to your new apartment which was a few miles away. You took the bus because they were handicap accessible, with one duffle bag in tow. You lived on the fourteenth floor overlooking downtown Orlando and a beautiful lake. You went to card games, went out to eat, and even went on a casino cruise. We were astonished on how many activities you had done within a few months of moving in. We were excited to share many new memories with you.

I am eternally grateful for all of the memories you have provided me with. Your guidance, advice, and knowledge has changed me immensely and I wanted to thank you for everything you have done. I know you are with Nanny right now making your famous caesar salad. You put on some big band era music and dance together, finally out of the chair. Your lungs are filled with deep breaths of sweet air.

I love you so much Poppy.

Love,

Lyndsay

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I felt like preparing crepes would be the perfect homage to my grandfather. He taught me the proper technique of letting the batter sit in the cooler, and adding very small amount of batter when making the crepe. He used to own this “crepe maker” which would make the crepes without the hassle of a pan. It plugged in and you dipped the hot plate into the crepe batter, creating thin pancakes–so thin they did not have to be flipped over.

Strawberry CrepesThis are delicious topped with strawberries and Nutella. When I was in Paris last year, every street corner had crepe stands. They were massive, and packed with nutella. I want to go back everyday.

Crepe

Is that not the coolest?! I took this photo right next to Notre Dame.

The recipe I have provided is from one of my grandfather’s old cookbooks, “Classic Desserts” by The Good Cook in 1979– years before I was born!

Crepes

  • Servings: 15 6-7 inch crepes
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Ingredients

1 Cup Flour

1/2 teaspoon Salt

2 Eggs

1 1/4 Milk

2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Method

  1. In blender, pulse together flour, salt, eggs, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Pulse until no lumps remain.
  2. Put the batter in the refrigerator for two and a half hours.
  3. Heat a lightly greased 6-7 inch pan over medium- high heat. Pour in about three tablespoon, swirling the pan as you add the batter. Coat the entire pan with batter.
  4. Cook the crepe for 10-15 seconds until it slides back and forth easily on the pan. Slide a spatula under the crepe and flip, cooking the opposite side for 8-10 seconds.
  5. Slide the crepe to a warmed dish, and cook the rest of the batter similarly.
  6. Top with your favorite fruit and nutella.

This recipe was provided by Classic Desserts 

Nutella

Can I have all of it?!

lyndsay paige

 

Zucchini Bread

When I was younger, my grandfather had a large garden he tended to in our backyard. Each summer he would build towers of tomatoes, hills of zucchinis, and poles of beans.  Our house was plopped on a bit of land, which encompassed a lawn and a wooden back lot complete with a bridge and a small creek. Our summers were spend fishing for crawdads with bits of luncheon meat tied onto make-shift poles. My father would fasten fishing hooks onto  lengths of fishing wire and would tie each string to a stick, found in the nearby wooden area. After catching the crimson red creatures, we would release them; watching as they scooted away with their strong tails.

[L:R] Myself, My Grandfather, and my little sister Hayley

[L:R] Myself, My Grandfather, and my little sister Hayley

Crossing the red bridge my father rebuilt and painted, led to a stoned path filled with the remains of our home’s old concrete patio. Each step lead us closer to the perfumed garden, an oasis filled with juicy fruit. After opening the hinged gate, I would plop myself underneath the tomato plants and lie between the green arms and the fruit. ( Fruit, Vegetable, what is a tomato anyways?) I can still remember the scent of fresh tomato filling my nostrils, seeping into my lungs and humming about.

The zucchinis were my grandfather’s prized possession. These hefty summer squashes weighed in three times the average weight of ones found in the local grocery store. My mother made zucchini bread frequently with the surplus, even adding chocolate chips for an added surprise.

Bite

I decided to bake my zucchini bread following The Betty Crocker Cookbook . Although this is not the exact recipe my mother used to make, it comes pretty close.

Zucchini Bread

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: Easy
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3 cups shredded zucchini (2 to 3 medium)
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups  all-purpose or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts, if desired
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips, if desired

Instructions

 

  • Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 (8×4-inch) loaf pans or 1 (9×5-inch) loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray.
  • In large bowl, stir zucchini, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until well mixed. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts and raisins. Stir in nuts and raisins. Divide batter evenly between 8-inch pans or pour into 9-inch pan.
  • Bake 8-inch loaves 50 to 60 minutes, 9-inch loaf 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on cooling rack 10 minutes.
  • Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on cooling rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

 

Recipe inspired by “Betty Crocker Cookbook

 

Don’t you love the lighting on this shot? I thought it was so interesting! Trying out new stuff, still working out how to photograph food with good lighting! 

Honey Crunch Cake

A week or so ago, my father was on television. About a few years ago, my father’s company, Qubits, was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank and it’s first re-run was shown on CNBC. We were so excited for a re-run that we invited friends and neighbors over to watch the show with us. I obviously needed to make something, and I decided to make a cake out of some new 8 inch wilton pans I bought at Michael’s.

When I was in culinary school, I applied for a culinary internship at Walt Disney World. On my twentieth birthday, as I was working in the school’s restaurant, my parents surprised me with my acceptance letter. I was working the grill station, which meant cooking the steaks and the fish. We were a small restaurant, with local roots and a small selection of delicious dishes. We were very affordable (It was run completely by students, and the tips went directly to scholarships.) and usually packed a full house. It was my last semester at the school, with my graduation just over the horizon in May.

My parents tapped on the glass window of the open kitchen, and I was surprised to see them. That’s when they handed me an envelope and asked me to open it. I screamed with joy, and all of the guests in the restaurant looked up from their meals.

When I got home that evening, my birthday gifts were all disney related, and one of my favorites was a Disney Dessert Cookbook. “Delicious Disney Desserts” by Pam Brandon.

cake type

I decided to try out the recipe from The California Grill located in the Contemporary Resort. This fun restaurant boasts the best firework viewing dinner options, with a view over the lagoon. I worked in the resort for a short time at Chef Mickey’s , but I never got the chance to eat at the California Grill.

This cake is easy to prepare ahead of time, especially the honey crunch topping. It took me two tries because I wasn’t watching the caramel close enough. Make sure your candy thermometer reader  reaches the  candy, otherwise you will burn the topping.

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I made the cake in advance, sliced the layers, and froze the cake in plastic wrap until I frosted them. I made the whipped cream frosting just before serving.

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Honey Crunch Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Sponge Cake
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Honey Crunch
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons each: water and corn syrup
2 1/4 teaspoons sifted baking soda

Honey Simple Syrup
1/2 cup each: water and sugar
2 teaspoons honey

Honey Whipped Cream
3 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
5 tablespoons honey

1. For cake, heat oven to 375 F. Combine milk and butter in pan on low heat, stirring, until butter melts. Remove from heat. Mix flour and baking powder. In bowl, whip eggs to break up. Whip in salt. Gradually add sugar, whipping until mixture lightens. Add extracts. Gently whip in milk and butter mixture. Fold in flour mixture in 4 additions, mixing until smooth after each addition. Pour into buttered and flour-dusted 9-inch pan. (Line with buttered parchment paper, if desired.) Bake 15-20 minutes.

2. For crunch, combine water, sugar and corn syrup in pan. When temperature reaches 310 F, whisk in sifted baking soda. Turn off heat.
Let mixture rise up without stirring. Pour onto a Silpat mat. Cool completely. Break into pieces; store in airtight container.

3. For syrup, bring water and sugar to boil. While still warm, whisk in honey. Refrigerate.

4. For cream, whip cream and sugar on medium 2 minutes. Add honey.
Increase speed. Whip to medium soft peaks.

5. Cut cake in half. Drizzle bottom layer with syrup. Spread whipped cream on bottom layer. Arrange honey crunch on whipped cream and press into cream. Spread with a little more whipped cream. Set on top layer.
Drizzle syrup on top layer. Frost top and sides with remaining whipped cream. Keep cake in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve with remaining honey crunch.

 

Recipe inspired by “Delicious Disney Desserts”

 It’s kind of fun to do the impossible – Walt Disney

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

The perfect chocolate chip cookie consists of three things: Taste, Texture, and Ratio of chocolate chips to cookie. When you think about it, cookie baking is a complete science a baker needs to identify to achieve the best cookie possible.

I haven’t made cookies for a while and decided to pull out my Hershey’s Easy Baking cookbook to try out their famous chocolate chip recipe.

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This chewy cookies host a heck-load of chocolate chips per cookie.

Cookies and family bonding go hand-in-hand like movies and popcorn. I remember in my youth, perched upon the kitchen stool helping my mother prepare cookie dough by hand. Flour covered the kitchen counter like a light dusting of  freshly fallen snow. I remember these details as I bite down into the freshly baked cookie, savoring each flavor, and wishing I had a glass of milk to wash it all down.

Right now I am in the middle of my first semester at a University College. Although everything is new, I am enjoying my classes, and the new classmates I meet daily. I spend hours in the library —usually lounged on a couch engulfed in a book. My time management skills are improving drastically, and I can tell my writing is slowly becoming more fluid in motion. I will post some of my short stories once my class has ended. (Be warned, my work isn’t all about cookies and cakes.)

I am enjoying my newfound knowledge of food blogging. I am learning new marketing techniques, photography editing, and new skills which make blogging easier. I never really understood how many skills were needed to produce a beautiful blog, and I feel enriched with my newfound knowledge. I am still trying to find my “voice” in writing these posts. I do not want to come off as “too-formal” but I do want to sound informed on the information.

 

Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap. – Barbara Jordan
(Can you imagine?! What a beautiful life that would be.)

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 5 Dozen
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.)HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

 

Recipe inspired by “Hershey’s Easy Baking” 

chocolate cookie no title

Strawberry Peach Cobbler

Hoppy Easter Everyone!

Yesterday I spent the day with my family hunting easter eggs and cooking a storm in the kitchen. The youngest child in my family is turning 19 soon, but that didn’t stop the mayhem which endured as we were let free to search for eggs. My brother slipped on the tile floor as plastic eggs rolled out of his basket. The cats flew in all directions when we came stampeding through the living room.  In the morning, we had discovered an empty dish washer detergent box, and a pile of dishes from the night before. The kitchen was a mess, and I added to the mountain in the sink with various dishes for our supper. Fortunately, this dish requires only 1 bowl, and the cooking vessel, making this dish super easy.

 

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