Wednesday, February 20, 2013


How do you really spell donuts? I mean, it's Dunkin' Donuts but I've been told that's like Bandaids, it's just branding for bandages. Donuts are just bandaids for doughnuts? I feel like donuts are bandaids for many things, like real life and snowstorms. Well, regardless of how it's actually spelled, I prefer donuts but to appease those who are grammatically inclined, I guess I can throw in a few doughnuts. It certainly makes more sense to say "dough" than "do" but why the nuts? I digress.
Dough? Yes. Nuts? Not so sure.
We spent an entire movie wondering where Nemo was and be careful what you wish for because when you actually find Nemo, you get 3 feet of snow. I also have a theory that whoever is naming these storms, is a movie buff. So far this year we have had winter storms Draco, Gandalf, Nemo and now Q. Someone's having fun at the weather channel.
Somewhere in there is my car...
So I was snowed in for 4 days with my cat. No big deal, I didn't lose power, I had heat, I have insurance, it's all good. But I also had baking supplies. This led to donuts--lots and lots of donuts...doughnuts.
Lemony goodness
Day 2 of being snowed in: Lemon Donuts. I had prepared for this. I thought maybe I could take some to my nice snowed-in neighbors. But I didn't, I ate them all. But it's okay because they're made with Greek yogurt, delicious! And they were baked. Plus, there was a whole lot of shoveling and stomping through the snow so it all balances out. In case you didn't notice, lemons are kind of my thing. And these were made with lemon yogurt and a lemon and glazed into sweet deliciousness. So these doughnuts were for me and my blog. Yay us!

Yes, I ate them. Over days, not all at once, but I did.
Day 4 of being snowed in: I knew I would be going back to work and the bananas I had bought were getting a little squishy. And in walks Shutterbean, a handy blogger with banana donuts with peanut butter frosting. Kindergarten in a donut?  I say yes. And they were a hit at work, like everyone was just dying for childhood. Or it just so happened to be Fat Tuesday, whatever works. They were nice and soft and had creamy peanut butter, all they needed was a glass of milk (not included).
This can only end well

Bakery fresh!
Valentine's Day: Now, Valentine's Day used to bother me. I believe I called it Singles Awareness Day. Part of this was because for most of my childhood, I would get violently ill on Valentine's Day: stomach flu, 24 hour fever, sign of things to come. And there was the added bit about being single in later years when it seemed to matter. I'll let you in on a well-known secret: Valentine's Day is not a big deal. I think this year was actually the best Valentine's Day ever because I forgot it was happening. Last year, I was in a relationship for the day and yes, I got flowers but beyond that, super anti-climactic. I buy flowers randomly throughout the year and it's still a treat so there. Take that Cupid, I don't need your flowers. I just need your half-priced chocolate on the 15th. Anyways, when it's Valentine's Day, you make something chocolate. So I made chocolate doughnuts which, let's be honest, is just cake. They were meant to have sliced almonds but I had red, pink and white sprinkles that just seemed so festive. And they went like hot cakes at my breakfast meeting. It certainly made my day better.
Happy Valentine's Day!! <3
And there you have it. The official saga of the breaking-in of the donut pan. Well done, person who gave it to me for Christmas. Apparently it's the new thing in baking. Blogs are all up in the doughnut world and this gal hasn't gone to Dunkin Donuts in weeks. Money well saved. Although I hear they have a brownie-batter donut. Say whaaaat???
Chocolate, coffee, and a dose of optimism

Monday, February 11, 2013

Orange Gingerbread Cake

I have a list on my fridge. It outlines things I want to do this winter, places to go, things to do and things to make. I had intended to make Orange Gingerbread Cake during the holiday season because it was festive with a twist. But that didn't happen so it stayed on the to-do list. Now I just needed an excuse to make a cake (like you need an excuse for cake like "my hair looks good today, I'll make a cake for it").
Look at all those flavors. What could go wrong?
Excuse #1: a friend got engaged, woohoo! I'll make a cake to celebrate when our group gets together.
Failure #1: inclemate weather cancels our plans, after the cake is made.

Excuse #2: Conveniently it's a friend's birthday the next day, perfect excuse for a cake.
Failure #2: I believe her exact words were "why can't you make anything normal?" upon hearing it was orange gingerbread. All in good friendship, she has a point.  Cue whipping up single lady chocolate cake. It was, afterall, her birthday and she can cry chocolate cake if she wants to!

Excuse #3: Now I have to eat this cake so it doesn't go to waste.

There is so much thick deliciousness in this bowl.
That last excuse worked quite well. No, I didn't eat the whole thing. Yes, I justified eating a lot of cake by reminding myself that there's no butter in it--and conveniently suppressing the thought of the package of cream cheese and stick of butter that's in the frosting.

It looks more like pumpkin pudding to me
I didn't go as far as putting pomegranate seeds on top, that's just too fancy for me. I didn't even add sprinkles. This was a strictly frosted cake (with a fantastic dent in the middle, easily filled with extra frosting).

I must say I'm surprised at how much molasses I have been able to use thus far. I certainly thought it would be in my kitchen for a long time but I think maybe one or two more rounds will finish it off. It's still winter, totally still gingerbread weather.

I have to justify buying snowflake ramekins by using them to test new cakes

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup

I am probably one of the few people who likes winter. Yes, it's cold but that's just the way of life. Winter comes with the holidays and cold nights and snow which also means it comes with snuggly sweaters, fires, hot cocoa and soups. I like the classic soupy things like chili, clam chowder and chicken noodle but I also love tomato and butternut squash soup. Especially since you can dip grilled cheese in them.

See, spices just on top.
As you may remember, the last time I attempted butternut squash soup, it went swimmingly terrible. But I welcome a challenge and I also welcomed an immersion blender to my kitchen this winter. Similar to the Cherry Scones, I got this recipe out of a magazine. And I didn't hold back, I bought the chives as a garnish and used maple syrup. I did substitute sunflower seeds for the pumpkin seeds though. I already had them in my cupboard and I'm trying to focus on using what I got. Okay, I did take several liberties. Like I didn't garnish with sauteed apples (out of laziness, I did have the apples) and I decided to add the spices straight to the mix, having a separate sachet sounded to fancy. And I modified the spices on whim. Again, just trying to use up what I got.

Double trouble!
 I also remembered to half this recipe, hurray me! I thought this meant everything would fit in the pots I have. That was incorrect. But again, realized this before I dumped everything into one pot so I divided it into two. Look at me, learning from my mistakes. What a grown up.

Bubble my pretties
As this went along, I realized I wasn't keeping to the half amounts. But what am I going to do with a quarter of a chopped onion? Or five baby carrots? It just seemed right to keep them all together. Plus, people keep telling me that the big difference between cooking and baking is with cooking, you can make stuff up and baking is more of a science.

The end of the celery stalk, it looks like a rose. Poetic.
The moment of truth: blending. This still seems like a disaster in the making. I'm going to move a very full pot of stuff and it's not going to go everywhere? Yeah, okay. I'm pretty sure that's the punchline of 143 movies (exact number). So I cautiously blended the contents with a pot lid as a shield (side note: I only have one pot lid so was switching it back and forth between the two pots when cooking. Totally works.). Pot number 1: great success, no mess! Confidence! Pot number 2: not over confident from pot 1 because that would definitely result in mess (Murphy's Law is actively followed in my life). And despite being careful, it did spill over a little bit but not nearly to the same degree as my first attempt. Only a pot holder was sacrificed in this process.

Take that butternut squash soup! You are officially conquered. Now I can take on the world of cooking more complex things or that stack of mail or just curl up and relax with a hot bowl of soup. Procrastinators unite! Tomorrow....
So. Delicious.

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 10 cups diced winter squash
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp. star anise pieces
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • salt and pepper
  • maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sauteed diced apples
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp. chives
  1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add vegetables, season with salt and cook until soft. Put spices in a sachet or cheesecloth. Add to vegetables and add broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer (covered) until tender.
  2.  Take pot off heat. Remove spice sachet. Whisk in the milk and puree in batches until smooth. 
  3. Add salt, pepper and syrup to taste. Garnish with apples, chives and pumpkin seeds.