Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Portobello Mushroom
1 portobello mushroom
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 italian sausage link, casing removed
about 2 cups spinach, loosely packed
Preheat oven to 350*.
In a pan, brown sausage, breaking into small pieces. Meanwhile, remove the stem from the mushroom, discarding any tough or woody parts; roughly chop the rest. Once the sausage is cooked through, add the garlic and the chopped mushroom cook until the mushroom is soft and the garlic is aromatic. Remove this mixture from the heat and spoon into the top of the mushroom cap, top down. Bake at 350* for about 15 minutes, or until the mushroom is cooked through.
There are a lot of ways in which I can imagine ringing in a thirtieth birthday. One might be a quiet dinner with the family. Another might be a hike in the mountains with your main squeeze. Some people might be spending the weekend with their 2.3 children and 1.5 pets, barbecuing in the backyard.
Let’s just say that thirty is one of those birthdays that can look pretty darn different, depending on how the whole situation known as Your Life is going.
With that being said, our life (and my “our” I mean my pal TDub and our group of friends) looks a lot like this:
A weekend-long celebration, replete with firework-laden cake (made by yours truly), cocktails, boating, lounging, glow stick dance parties, light shows and house boat-rocking good times.
We’re taking advantage of it, ‘cause by thirty-one, who knows? It might look a whole lot different.
TDub's Rockin' 30th Birthday Cake
Bottom Layer:Chocolate Butter Cake (from Smitten Kitchen)
Makes one 8-inch square, three layer cake
3 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
3 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups freshly brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 8-inch square cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.
2. In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. With the electric mixer on low speed, blend for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and buttermilk and blend on low until moistened. Raise
the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Whisk the eggs and coffee together, and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only until blended after each addition. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans; each pan will take
about 3 1/4 cups of batter.
4. Bake for 38 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Carefully turn them out onto wire racks and allow to cool completely. Remove the paper liners only when they are
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 2/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Place butter in a bowl and beat until creamy. Add sugar and cocoa, mixing well. (You may need to add the milk,
as it is a dry mixture) Stir in milk in portions, stirring each time. Add vanilla. Spread on cooled cake.
FOR THE TOP LAYER:Yellow Birthday Cake (from Martha Stewart)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then beat in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack; peel off the parchment. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.
Classic Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (from Savory Sweet Life)
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!) Ideal texture should be like ice cream.
3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream
Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.
I'm on Jury Duty this week, friends. Which means that for the last few days I've ben doing a lot of sitting around, answering the same questions a million different ways. They (and by they, I mean the lawyers and Judge) have deemed me non-offensive enough that they want me to stay on the jury. So that's where I'll be for the next week or so. I think the right thing to do in this circumstance is to make some low a pumpkin bread, because it's 1)does not cntain two sticks of butter like most of my recipes do and 2) it's delicious. And since the weather here has gone cuckoo cold, I think we can at least use it as an excuse to eat seasonally inappropriate quickbreads. Sound good?
Oh and P.S. I was asked to make a big ol' cake this week, so get ready!
Low Fat Pumpkin Bread (Skinnytaste.com)
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with baking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, pumpkin spice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt witha wire whisk. Set aside.
In a large bowl mix oil, egg whites, pumpkin puree and vanilla; beat at medium speed until thick.
Scrape down sides of the bowl.
Add flour mixture, then blend at low speed until combined. Do not over mix.
Pour batter into loaf pan and bake on the center rack for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the pan cool at least 20 minutes, bread should be room temperature before slicing.
I love silence. I love the way it feels to sit in a room and hear the sounds of nothing: the air circulating, the computer humming, the walls creaking.
If silence were a place, I think it would be the tiny house where our minds live. Whenever it’s silent, my mind gets to come home and wrap itself up in the big duvet blanket inside my brain. It relaxes. And in silence, my mind gets to just chill out.
I used to live in silence a lot. Alone. Silence used to envelope me for large stretches of the day, punctuated by visits from my cat, who would come and see me - she in her silence, too.
It probably seems strange, or sad or lonely to the average onlooker to imagine the girl all alone, kept company by her cats. The cat lady image is impossible to avoid.
But if you go there and believe that, then maybe you don’t get it. Be silent. And once you’re silent, try going back
to all the noise. Maybe you’ll see it then.
Everything has noise. Your computer has noise –feeds and updates and breaking news. Your phone has noise – calls, and questions, texts and alerts. Your job has noise and the radio has noise and the grocery store has noise.
So sit in silence for a moment and recognize the power of your mind outside of all the noise. This is where your creativity lies. Outside of all the noise: this is where your brain can be you. Where it can process. Where
the uniqueness of your individuality lies.
This is where mine lies.
There’s been too much noise. Too much noise that I can’t control.
The challenge is to find the silence: the center, the focus, the realm of thinking. From there creation is possible; creativity will come back, it has to.
And when that comes – bam! – just like that, I’m back.
Seeking the silence. Challenge, accepted.
Busy, busy, busy.
Busy in a good way.
It’s filled with activities of the most enjoyable varieties, like Wednesday cocktails or 10pm water slides with friends.
It’s less full of un-fun busy things like say, going to the DMV or trips to the dentist. Those things should be reserved for entirely less-summery times, when life cools down.
Summer’s busy means it’s time for easy, throw-it-together, fresh fruit desserts on the back porch. It means sitting on the porch, with drinks, concerts in the park, baseball games and dollar beer nights.
Yes, totally time for that.
Strawberry Honey Pistachio Tart.
Cocktails optional (but highly recommended). (from Savory Sweet Life)
1 (1/2 package) frozen puff pastry sheet, thawed
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup ground pistachios
1/4 cup honey
1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy whipped cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 pint strawberries, stems removed and cut in half vertically
1/3 cup chopped pistachios (the original recipe is a bit unclear about how much, but I'm estimating that 1/3 cup is totally sufficient here; add more, if you'd like)
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
2. Unfold and roll the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch square. Place the pastry sheet onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
3. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Allow the pastry to cool on the baking sheet
4. While the puff pastry is baking, prepare the two different creams.
5. Using an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese, pistachios, and honey until well combined. Set aside.
6. In a different bowl, whip the heavy cream and sugar with an electric beater until firm peaks form.
7. Evenly spread the pistachio cream layer over the pastry followed by a layer of the whipped cream.
8. Arrange the cut strawberries with the tips pointing up in layers of circles, starting with the outer one, making your way in.
9. Sprinkle the tart with the chopped pistachios.
10. Serve immediately.
It's Sunday morning here. And, unlike a lot of places, summer just shows up in July. No questions, no suprises, no late-afternoon rain to keep us guessing or bolts of lightening to keep us wondering. Nope, here summer comes right on schedule, the sun peeking up over the horizon, shining rays seeping through the slits in your window shades. It's the kind of morning that turns into yoga at sunrise, or walks into the park or lazy lie-ins. Anything lovely could happen; any given Sunday.
Here, it's a pancake kind of Sunday, so let's have some... no suprises.
Pumpkin Pancakes (from Saveur)
1 3⁄4 cups flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground ginger
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄4 tsp. ground allspice
1 cup canned pumpkin purée
1 cup heavy cream
1⁄2 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tbsp. canola oil
Butter and maple syrup, for serving
1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, cloves, ginger, salt, and allspice. Add pumpkin, cream, milk, and eggs; whisk until smooth.
2. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a 12" nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Using a 1⁄4-cup measuring cup, pour batter into skillet to make three 3" pancakes. Cook until bubbles begin to form on the edges, 1–2 minutes. Flip and cook until done, 1–2 minutes more. Repeat with remaining oil and pancake batter.
Serve pancakes hot with butter and syrup. (or maybe some sweetened mascarpone from this recipe
SERVES 8 (or 3 members of the Rose family)