March 29, 2013

Crab Cakes with Chimichurri

Crab Cakes with Chimichurri Sauce


It's been a stinky couple of days in our house lately.  No, not because of the crab cakes pictured above!  Our little pup, Scruffy, got sprayed by a skunk in the back yard!  We heard the commotion outside and quickly called him in, but it wasn't until he ran inside and started rubbing his face all over our dining room rug did we notice the two yellow spots on him.  The smell was soon to hit us a few seconds later... He was pretty traumatized, we all were, and our house smelled awful!  We quickly got him into the bath, opened all of our windows and googled how to cure the smell. 

We had two choices... tomato juice or a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap.  The only tomato juice I had was a couple cans of expensive San Marzano tomatoes... so, sorry Scruff, the peroxide mixture it was!  We rinsed him in the mixture twice and bathed him in his regular shampoo about 5 times.  Poor thing already does not like the bath and he was in there for about an hour that night! After his bath, he recovered by curling up under his favorite blankey and just looking at us with sad eyes for the rest of the night.  The baths got most of the smell off of him, but it still lingers even a few days later. 

sprayed by a skunk

The house has had a lingering smell as well, but lucky enough, by the time I made these crab cakes for dinner two days later, the smell had pretty much dissipated.  The lovely smell of crab cakes replaced it!

crab cake mix

March 27, 2013

Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese

The sun is out, the weather is warming, Spring is here!  All I can think of now is, "I hope we can save enough money to get the air conditioner installed in the house before it gets too hot".  My A/C just went out in my car this week too and they quoted me $998!  House? Car? House? Car? I just hope Mother Nature gives me another week or two of beautiful 72 degree temperatures, so that we can mill through our options a little longer.  But one way or another, looking to the future, it's going to be HOT!

soup and sandwich

tomato soup grilled cheese

Maybe subconsciously I am hoping for cool, drizzly, soup weather so that I can keep my air conditioner conundrum on the back burner for a little while longer... so that is what's on the menu tonight! SOUP!

March 25, 2013

Garlic Rosemary Bread

A Simple Bread Recipe That is Baked in a Dutch Oven.

Can one live on only bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic? If anyone out there is doing a scientific study on this, I'd like to sign up!  Bread and butter, sandwiches, french toast, paninis, you name it---  I love bread. 

rosemary garlic bread

I've been baking for a long time now, and I have NEVER made more than a banana bread.  I don't really know why, but something about using yeast and having to knead are intimidating to me.  I know that it really is not that scary or hard, but I have always stayed away. 

baking bread ingredients
Big shoutout to one of the besties, Katy, and her boyfriend Kyle for making me this cute sign! Visit their Etsy shop here.

I knew for my first bread recipe I wanted something simple... something I could use as a good base to experiment with flavors rather than with techniques.  I settled on this recipe for crusty bread specifically because it seemed easy enough and because the bread is baked in a Dutch oven. My mom got be a beautiful Dutch oven for Christmas and I've been cooking all I can in it.  I don't know how I survived without one for so long!

March 24, 2013

Pasta with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Spaghetti with Chicken, Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Garlic and Parmesan.

This is one of my go-to pasta dinners.  It has all of my favorite things and is really simple to throw together, and something that I can put together in about 30 minutes is really important to me. 

spinach chicken pasta

Very often my man works until 10 o'clock at night and has a 35 minute drive home.  I, personally, would hate having to eat reheated food alone every night for dinner, so I try my best to have a hot meal ready for him so that we can eat together.  So about 4 times a week we eat dinner very late, last night was no exception...


One of the struggles I am running into these days is photographing my food so late when there is no natural light. But I'm TRYING! I by no means am a photographer, I like to think that if I'm lucky enough to get a really good shot, it is all because of my iPhone or iPad and fiddling just right with Snapseed.  I don't really know what I'm doing.  And I'm sure that if my new neighbors ever looked into our kitchen at night they would think that a crazy lady moved in.  They would catch a glimpse of my makeshift lighting set-up, which includes an office floor lamp that has an adjustable light and another lamp that is missing its shade that I am constantly moving around.  They probably always wonder why I'm standing on a step stool with an iPad in the middle of my kitchen in the middle of the night. 

fresh spinach

March 22, 2013

Chocolate Raspberry Cupakes

Chocolate Cupcakes filled with Raspberry and Chocolate Ganache Topped with Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream. 

valentines cupcakes

So my real true love in the kitchen is baking cupcakes. I love to come up with different flavor combinations of cakes, fillings and frostings.  For Valentine's Day this year I created my Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes. This is a simple cupcake recipe, using my gussied up boxed cake mix, filled with a raspberry ganache and a fresh raspberry and topped with a raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream.  

I do make cupcakes from scratch, but when I'm feeling a little lazy, or if I'm going to spend a lot of time on fillings and a more complicated frosting, I will take a quick shortcut and use a cake mix.  But I have doctored up the recipe so that it takes like a made from scratch cake!  

March 20, 2013

Thai Yellow Curry and Spicy Cucumber Salad.

My love for Thai food came to be when I lived in Redlands, California while attending the University of Redlands for college. Redlands holds a special place in my heart... It is where I had the best job of my life with the greatest people, where I met my man (I'll save that story for another time), and where I could spend all day reading outside under big trees.

thai yellow curry cucumber salad

I loved college and I loved Redlands, but there wasn't a whole lot to do outside of college parties and outdoorsie stuff, even the 7-11 closed at 11!  But for some reason, this small town had about 7 different Thai restaurants... I don't really know why it was so concentrated there... I couldn't get an authentic Mexican meal to save my life, but the Thai food was in abundance. .

spicy thai cucumber salad

I first fell in love with Drunken Noodles or Pad Kee Mao, but then I discovered Yellow Curry... extra spicy. I could eat it every day.

March 17, 2013

Citrus Upside Down Cake

Instagram Inspiration and an Upside Down Cake with Tangerines, Meyer Lemons, Kumquat and Blood Oranges. 

For my first post I would love to share just how in awe I am of the great community of such kind, creative, talented, and inspirational folks that I've found through avenues of social media and this blogosphere that I am diving into. I am so grateful for these connections that I've made and things I've discovered that wasn't possible even five years ago. I'd like to pretend that I am blossoming into a creative and talented young lady, but I should confess that most of it comes from places we are all to familiar with now like Pinterest and Instagram. Now, I do not condone plagiarism all, I will always give credit where credit is due.  But I love to take ideas that I find on those sites and make them my own.

citrus upside down cake

Now I must admit... I am somewhat of an Instagram addict. Shameless plug in 3...2...1... follow me @iloveyoubooo :)

ingredients citrus cake

Ok, maybe more than somewhat... But how could I not be! I was the kid who's mom used to get mad at her because every roll of film we had developed was full of closeup photos of food, flowers and my childhood dog, Sandi. Having a food stylist as a mother didn't help much either... I was born to love beautiful food.   I have now somewhat conditioned my man, Jamie, to not start eating his meal before I snap some shots. I used to feel bad, but every now and then I catch him taking a few of his own pictures when sitting down to eat a massive burger or fancy dessert. Now he just laughs a little when I stand up at our restaurant table to try and get an overhead shot. However, he doesn't actually have an Instagram account... Perhaps if he did, he would think it was a little less "cute" and start researching rehab facilities to ship me to! :)

One of my more recent finds on Instagram is @carolineadobo and more specifically this photo. I mean, C'MON!!! How could you not want to recreate that magic!  So I tried my best, using her tip of candying the fruit before baking the cake. And I think it came out wonderfully!  I think I will be making this again for Easter in a couple of weeks.

One of my favorite parts of our new house is that we have three Meyer Lemon trees on the side of our house, and let me tell you that they are so abundant and big and sweet!  I've been building recipes around them for the last two months.  And I am lucky to live two blocks away from a weekly Street Fair and Farmer's Market.  So I went to the side of the house to get some lemons and to the market to gather some blood oranges, tangerines, and kumquats. We HAD a kumquat tree when we moved into our house, but it had to go, due to the fact that it was planted in the strangest, most random place in our front yard.

lemon orange kumquat

My big debate was, because I was going to candy the citrus, whether or not to leave the peels on... I decided to leave the peel on the kumquats but remove it from the other three.  I know now to be sure to cut the peeled fruit no smaller than a 1/4 inch because I almost lost my Meyers during the candying due to the fact that I had cut them too thin.

citrus peels

By candying the citrus, I was trying to avoid the cake being too soggy from all the citrus juice and I think I was pretty successful! I also ended up with an entire mason jar of Citrus Simple Syrup that I'm sure I can find a good use for!  Perhaps to sweeten iced tea or add to some champagne, of course.

candying fruit

I had never made an upside down cake with a schmear before. I had always created the caramel-like sauce for the bottom of the pan. The schmear worked out great and it was so tasty.  The recipe for the schmear also makes more than you need, so I am storing the rest in the freezer for the next time I spontaneously or otherwise want to create an upside down cake of some kind.

citrus upside down cake

Also, I wish I had cut up one or two more oranges or tangerines.  I had a few gaps when I was placing all of the citrus over the schmear...

orange lemon kumquat cake

The idea to pair the cornmeal cake with the citrus is an excellent choice. The cake is not very sweet and it has a little crunch to it, which goes perfectly with the sweet citrus and glaze.

baking citrus cake

I'm going to see how long this cake holds up to know if I should make it the day before Easter or before I go to brunch on Sunday morning. That is... if we don't eat it all tonight!

citrus upside down cake

Citrus Cornmeal Upside Down Cake

Adapted from recipe at When Adobo Met Feijoada

Pan Schmear

8 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
Pinch of salt


You can substitute any citrus that you would like, I used
4-5 kumquats
2-3 each of blood oranges, Meyer lemons, and tangerines 

Cornmeal Cake

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk yogurt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp finely grated blood orange zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

To candy the fruit, heat equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan over low to medium heat. When sugar is dissolved, add the citrus slices and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the fruit to cool in the syrup.. Drain and cool slices on a cooling rack. 
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the butter, honey, vanilla, brown sugar and salt, and beat until smooth and blended. Spread 1/3 cup of the schmear onto the bottom of an 10-inch pan. (Reserve the remaining schmear in the refrigerator for two weeks or a month in the freezer.)

Slice off the tops and bottoms of citrus, place on a clean surface and slice away rind and pith top to bottom following curve of fruit. Slice crosswise into 1/4-inch thick, discard any seeds. Arrange on top of pan schmear in a single, tight layer. Set aside and prepare cake batter.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs until blended. Add the yogurt and stir to combine. Add the butter and stir until blended. Add the zest, juice and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet into the dry ingredients, mixing until just blended. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and cake test comes out clean. Cool the cake on the wire rack for 10 minutes.

Run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert onto a serving platter and serve.