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

 

Cookiebutter Swirl Cookies

Is it August already?! How did that happen? One day I was breathing in the humid summer air–and the next– I was getting ready for classes to start up again!

I finally finished my online creative writing class (Yay!) So now I can share my work with you! I’m always afraid to post past writings due to a professor finding my work, and thinking I plagiarized it from myself. Is that even possible?

One week, we were provided numerous “kick-starts” to help our creative process. I chose to focus on a specific object which intrigued me.

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Graceful Rings

After three rings, the telephone silenced. Grace hurried her feet past the ottoman and the “AARP” monthly newsletter. Her wrinkled fingers clutched the carnation rotary phone. “Hello?” She croaked.

The line stayed dead, and she hung up the phone carefully. “Probably a tele-marker” she grumbled to herself, easing into her over-sized sofa. The plastic crinkled under her weight as she adjusted her seat, fishing for her television remote. “Where is that darn thing?” She asked aloud.

Across the room, the remote lit up, drowning in a sea of outdated clipped coupons of frozen biscuits, cheese-wiz, and toilet paper. It was only ten steps from her seat, but Grace was fragile, old and lazy; mostly lazy in the eyes of her neighbors. Her front lawn was always filled with weeds, and her mailbox overflowed with shopping catalogs. She reared her rind legs in a forward momentum, and placed her cream colored sneakers on the carpeted flooring. With a gruff, she swung her back like a cat and balanced her upper torso with her weak arms. One last momentum, and Grace hunched her back and was on both of her feet. One step. Two steps. Grace carefully exchanged the weight to her left foot as her knee popped, sending shooting pains up her sides. She winced as she shuffled through the pile and grabbed the remote. Puffing, she started her journey back to the comfort of her sofa.

Grace grabbed for her breath, each one drier than the first. The outline of a tall glass could be seen in her pupils. Blinking back her thirst, she heads back to the couch, and falls into the cushions, making an all too familiar phoosh. She settles back into the seat, changing the channels with the slightest movement of her arthritic thumb.

The phone begins it’s song again, chiming it’s song throughout the living room. Never one to miss a gossip session, Grace begins her routine to dislodge herself from her nest. She steps faster this time, excited for the interaction. Upon reaching the phone from its handle, she presses the speaker to her deafened ear. The line is silent.

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My mother recently installed a new house phone in our shared office, and it’s retro design inspired this short story.

Continuing with a sort of a retro theme, I thought these Chocolate Swirled cookies would fit nicely on the end table next to Grace’s cup of tea.

I was looking through my cookbook, “Pig Out” Obviously a diet cookbook, and stumbled upon these cute little swirled cookies that incorporated Nutella and shortbread. I had recently visited Trader Joe’s and picked up the holy grail of butters, Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl. A decadent  combo of european cookies mashed up with chocolate. Can you say, “Yum?!”

Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl

 

Cookie Butter Swirl Cookies

  • Servings: 30 Cookies
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Ingredients

3/4 Cup Butter

3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

2 Tablespoons Cookie Butter Spread ( Or Nutella)

1 Tablespoon unsweetened Cocoa Powder, Sifted

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in Vanilla extract. Add flour and mix, forming a soft dough. Divide the dough into two pieces, and work the cookie butter and cocoa powder into one half.
  3. Roll each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface to form two rectangles about 6 x 8in. Place one piece of dough on top of the other and press together lightly. Trim the edges and roll up lengthwise like a jelly roll. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices and place on cookie sheet. Bake 10-13 minutes until crisp. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 week.

This recipe was provided by Pig Out

 

Speculoos Cookie & Cocoa Swirl

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! 

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

The Devil Wears Prada

I was so excited to read this book because let’s face it, the movie is a total chick flick. Two words: Meryl Streep. Even though I watched the movie before the novel (Gasp!) I loved all of the similarities of both the book and the film. “The Devil Wears Prada”, pokes fun at a recent college grad who lands a job with the devil of the fashion world, Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of Runway Magazine. Weighing in at a mere four hundred pages, this book is fast paced, and a great beach read. I admit it only took me three days to finish this fashionista novel.

Andrea, the narrator in the novel, picks up Miranda Priestly’s coffee from starbucks every morning, Which I took as inspiration for my “Devil Wears Prada” Cupcake. This Devil’s food cake is rich with hints of coffee and topped with Starbucks’ signature whipped cream twirl and green straw.

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Devil's Coffee Food Cake topped with Whipped Cream Frosting

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

For the Cake
1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Cocoa
3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Instant Coffee (Or Espresso)
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Cup Boiling Water
For the Frosting
1/4 Cup Water
1 teaspoon unflavored Gelatin
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
For Decor
1/4 Cup Chocolate Chips, melted

 

Instructions

For the Cake
Preheat Oven to 350 Degree and prep cupcake tin
Sift dry ingredients together (Flour, Sugar, Cocoa, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Salt, Instant Coffee)
Mix wet ingredients together EXCEPT Water (Egg, Milk, Oil, Vanilla)
In bowl combine wet and dry ingredients until mixed.
Add Boiling water and mix. The batter will be runny.
Measure out batter into cupcake tins and bake 20-25 minutes until bounces back to touch
Cool Completely.
For the Frosting
Bloom Gelatin in water and let soften for ten minutes.
Heat mixture in microwavable bowl, in microwave for three minutes to dissolve gelatin. Let stand ten minutes or until room temperature
With cold beaters, You can achieve this by placing your mixing bowl and beaters into the freezer for a few minutes, Beat the cream and while beaters are still mixing stream in gelatin. Beat until stiff peaks.
Use immediately

 

The Queen will wait for coffee no longer. – The Devil Wears Prada