Some Favorite Recipes

We were down all last week with a terrible, horrible, no good very bad stomach bug. It was awful. Matt and I are rarely sick at the same time, but this round took us both out for the whole week. We could barely eat, drink or even move…let alone work on the mountain of projects that we have in the works.

But that sickness is starting to become a memory, and we are regaining our stregth. Last night we celebrated a dear friend’s birthday with a homemade cake. I have been on the search for a really excellent basic, from scratch yellow cake. They are always too dense and almost cornbread like. This one make have proved me wrong. For good measure, I also threw in our favorite cookie recipe below.

Fluffy, Moist Homemade Yellow Cake

source: Divas Can Cook
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened, room temperature (do not microwave)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325. F. (do not use convection like I did…cooked too fast to start)
  2. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
  4. Add in egg yolks and vanilla, mixing until fully incorporated. Set aside.
  5. In a seperate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. Gradually add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk.
  7. Mix until batter is fluffy but be careful not to over mix.
  8. Beat egg whites until stiff and thick. (holds a nice peak)
  9. Very gently fold egg whites into batter and mix JUST until incorporated.
  10. Pour batter into prepared pans and spread into even layers.
  11. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and let cake cool in pans until pans are warm to the touch.
  13. Carefully remove cakes from pan and place on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  14. When cakes are completely cooled frost with chocolate buttercream frosting.

 

Lauren’s Amazing Cookies (coconut, chocolate, oatmeal)

  • 1 cup butter (or 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup coconut oil)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 ½ cup oatmeal
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 bag chocolate chips

 

Cream together butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Mix in coconut and chocolate chips. Make into 1-2 inch balls and flatten slightly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until edges start to turn slightly golden. Remove from oven and cool. They will continue to darken out of the oven. Enjoy!

Tea Time: Digestive Biscuits Recipe

If you have ever been to England, you probably know the tea time staple: McVitties digestive biscuits. Crisp and substantial, sometimes covered in chocolate, these are a unique treat somewhere between graham crackers and shortbread…but really, quite different from both. They are getting easier to find here in the US, but I stumbled upon a copycat recipe and decided to give it a try. Verdict: amazing. These are light and crispy and exactly what you want with tea. I expect they will be on regular rotation in our house.

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Digestive Biscuits

Makes 12-14 cookies. I recommend doubling the batch as these go fast!

3⁄4 cup whole wheat flour

1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour

1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄4 tsp salt

1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1⁄4 cup wheat bran

5 tablespoons butter

5 tablespoons brown sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons half-and-half

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, bran, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar with a pastry blender. Mix in sugar with the hand pastry blender (food processors or mixers will work, but the crumb and texture will not be as flaky in the final product). Mix in fats with the pastry blender. The mix at this point should be crumbly and uniform. Mix the vanilla in the half-n-half and add to the mix. Mix with pastry blender until it is uniform and resembles soft, crumbly playdoh. Do not overwork the dough.

Refrigerate dough for 20 minutes to make it easier to handle. Roll out dough between two pieces of waxed paper to approximately 1/8″ thickness. Cut into rounds with cookie cutter about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Transfer to cookie sheets with silpats or parchment. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes (adjust the baking time up to dry them out more if the biscuits are too soft and fluffy), or until golden. Let cool on wire rack.

Optional: spread the backs of the cooled biscuits with melted chocolate and let harden.

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Bricks and Cinnamon Rolls

Matt and I spent a weekend at home. I literally left the house once, and that was to walk around the frosty garden.

He worked on laying brick on our new hearth while I cooked. We listened to our weekend radio shows, ate good food, and made good progress on the house. I’d say it was exactly what we needed.

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As part of our weekend food fest, I whipped up a batch of cinnamon rolls with a new recipe I wanted to try. Simply Recipes is my go to source for inspiration, and this one was a winner. I tweaked a few things and added a cream cheese frosting (we wanted something between a sticky bun and a frosted cinnamon roll) and they were epic.

Carmel Cinnamon Rolls with cream cheese frosting

Adapted from Simply Recipes

Dough:

  • 1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast or 2 ¼ teaspoons
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon. salt
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Pan base:

  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Method

1 Make the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine warm water, yeast and 1 tsp. sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add milk, butter, remaining sugar, egg yolks, salt and 3 cups flour. Mix on low speed until blended. Switch to a dough hook and then, again on low speed, slowly incorporate the remaining 1 cup of flour. Increase speed to medium, kneading dough until smooth and slightly sticky (adding a little more flour if too wet), 3 to 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, buttered bowl. Turn dough over in bowl to coat with the butter from the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour (or 2 hours if not in an entirely warm place). After the dough has risen, punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and let sit 20 minutes.

2 Make the filling. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt butter; keep separate.

3 Roll dough out into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle (or wider…wider = more swirls!). Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Starting with the long side, roll dough into a cylinder. Place seam side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 12 slices.

4 For the pan prep, grease sides with butter. Pour 4 oz melted butter into bottom and evenly spread. Sprinkle brown sugar on butter.

5 Evenly place dough slices, flat side down, on top of prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving room for the buns to rise, and refrigerate overnight.

6 Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while the oven pre-heats. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns until golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove pan from oven and immediately (and carefully as not to spill hot topping on your toes!) invert onto a serving tray or baking dish. Let buns cool slightly and serve warm as is or with frosting if desired.
Cream Cheese Frosting (totally unnecessary but totally delicious)

Cream together 1 package cream cheese, 4tbs softened butter, a pinch of salt, vanilla and powdered sugar to taste (1/3-1/2 cup). Frosting will be thick. If you would rather have icing, thin with milk and drizzle.

 

 

Summer: Season of Zuchinni

Last year our zucchini growing efforts were unsuccessful. I am still not sure how that was possible but it was.

This year is the total opposite. We have plants that are literally almost thigh high, with leaves like platters. HUGE flowers are producing lots of zucchini and we are thrilled. Ask me again in a month if I still feel this way!

Sunday morning I took our largest friend on the kitchen counter and turned him into two beautiful loaves of scrumptious chocolate chip zucchini bread. I have never had a standard recipe so here is what I made this time.

This made two loaves.

  • 1.5  cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil (melted if solid)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain whole greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups zucchini, shredded and squeezed in a towel to dry a bit
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method: in a bowl, mix dry ingredients. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients and sugar. Stir together gently. Add zucchini and chocolate chips. Do not overmix!

Bake in two loaf pans lined with parchment at 350 for ~40 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Hummus & Bread

We are on a few culinary kicks. First off, cooking on a one burner induction hotplate. With the kitchen out of full function (and soon to be worse when we rip of countertops, backsplash and add more cabinets!) we are trying to utilize our grill and oven more. Enter: no knead bread. I have read this recipe for years now and decided to give it a try. We are hooked. My modification is using half whole wheat flour and half regular bread flour. Perfect hole-y inside, chewy outside and beautiful to look at.

No-Knead Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups flour (I use half whole wheat, half bread flour)
  • oat bran
  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt

Bake in a cast iron pot with a lid. See method hereIMG_2835[1].

Next up: something to go on that bread, hummus. To be honest, I have never really loved hummus. It was ok, but this changed my mind. It rocked my world and is all I want to eat! With veggie stick, by the spoonful, and best of all, on fresh bread (see above!) Matt’s thrown together version of a fresh lemon pesto hummus is wonderful.

Lemon Pesto Hummus

  • 2 cans beans, drained (garbanzo, white or a combo of the two)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or more to taste…it should have a lemony zing!)
  • 1 cup-ish of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup good olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Optional: sun dried tomatoes

Method: In food processor, blend all ingredients until very smooth. If too stiff, add more olive oil.

Living without a Kitchen

The wall is down! Last week the wall came down and we spent the weekend making progress to get it finished. Electrical always throws curveballs in an old house (wires everywhere!) but we figured it out. Uneven rafters and old lath layers makes hanging drywall a not-straightforward process. Let’s just say drywall shims are the best invention ever. Even with all this excitement and progress (and boy does it look good!!!) the house remodel is officially getting old. We always knew it would take awhile, but I am getting really tired of living without a functional kitchen. Yes, it is temporary, yes it is worth it, but I really just want some hot tea.

Since our stove is right in the middle of all the action it is turned off and secured in plastic. And will be for at LEAST another week while we work on drywall/mudding/sanding/mudding/sanding etc with no wall between the kitchen and construction zone. So we are down to our toaster oven, regular oven and grill for cooking. I broke down and bought some Trader Joe’s frozen lasagnas. And a take-and-bake pizza. And Costco chicken. We do not want to eat out all the time so this is the next best thing. Matt has been great at coming up with meals still, but it is a lot of work to clean the kitchen enough just to make ANYTHING. Dust. Everywhere. Everywhere. We have to rinse every dish before we use it.

Other than that, things are great! Last weekend we took 2,500 lbs (!) of debris to the dump. Thank goodness for borrowing my dad’s truck. Four trips to the hardware store and we had the ceiling closed up finally. Matt has been tackling drywall this week and is learning how to do plaster curved ceilings. Our dining room has curved ceilings, but our new design requires that we put up some more to finish the space. Thank goodness for a detail oriented DIY husband! (follow along @seattleturtle on Instagram for more photos of the progress)

Meanwhile, I ordered 40 asparagus plants (bounty is what we are shooting for here!) and I am looking forward to starting seeds.

Sun Turtle Studio officially made it’s first Etsy sale to someone I don’t know! 8 total sales and a few more custom orders coming. I am working on a large scale white piece that I cannot wait to debut. Also in progress is design of my business cards. Technology to get the design in my head made into usable image files has been my issue. Should be solved soon if I can get things together.

Looking forward to the weekend! It has been a long week.

All We Did (and a recipe)

After a week back in the office (hello water taxi/bus commute!) I envisioned a weekend of progress on our remodel. Finish the closet drywall, take down the plastic and start priming and painting walls. Right?

Ha. We spent the weekend in glorious slow mode. Sleeping in. Drinking coffee and taking long walks to the beach. We went to two beaches on Saturday and one on Sunday (can you tell we love living on an island?). Spent 3+ hours walking, listening to the waves, picking up agates, sea glass and driftwood. It was magical. We brought home bags of glass. All perfectly frosted and in a beautiful array of colors.

The rest of the day was spent cleaning and sorting glass, cleaning and drying driftwood, and cooking. And sitting in the hot tub. Bending/squatting down on the beach for hours does wear out your back and legs. We made our favorite soup with fresh made chicken stock, and ate in front of episodes of Parenthood and It’s Always Sunny.

The renovations did not get touched. We continued to navigate around the plastic sheets hanging from the ceiling. I did not make any mobiles. Progress on those projects will get tackled this week while we feast on delicious leftovers.

Kale, Sausage, Bean Soup

Our favorite go-to, especially with fresh kale from the garden. Awesome with a hot baguette.

  • 1 package sausage, out of casings (we like spicy Italian)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 32 oz can tomatoes (diced, or if whole, cut into pieces with juice saved)
  • 16 oz chicken stock
  • 16 oz water
  • 2 bunches fresh kale, destemmed and ripped into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 2 cans garbanzo or white beans, drained
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oregano
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh parsley
  • Parmesan rinds (optional but totally amazing if you have them)

Cook sausage out of casings until golden, remove and set aside. Sauté onion in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook until tender. Add tomatoes and juice, stock, parmesan rinds, oregano, parsley and kale. Simmer until kale is wilted. Add beans, sausage, basil and extra water and simmer until kale is tender.

Enjoy topped with grated Romano cheese and hot pepper flakes.