At our house, we’ve embraced summer vacation like a long lost friend. Lazy mornings, trips to the vegetable stand for dinner fixings, swims at the pool with friends, and days spent in the sand; what a wonderful way to kick off our time together! I absolutely crave the time I get to spend with my kids. If I could stop the clock, I would, but I can’t, so summer break is the best next thing.
A scoop of strawberry gelato, in a cone, is an iconic symbol of summer vacation. The strawberries are so gorgeous right now. There’s no better way to put smiles on my boys’ faces than handing them an ice cream cone. I hope that never changes.
It’s summer! It was a very busy spring in our home and we’re looking forward to relaxing and having lazy summer days. As I was reflecting back on what made the past few months so crazy, I couldn’t put my finger on any one thing. We celebrated a few birthdays, Ben and I hosted a couples baby shower for our dear friends and the kids were busy at school wrapping up special projects. I know one thing for sure, it was a really awesome couple of months. Unfortunately, the blog was put on the back burner. It is one of my goals, this summer, to put more time into writing and posting. I cook all the time and, lately, have been entertaining like crazy. I am so excited to share some of the things I’ve been doing.
For now, though, I have a life changing recipe for you. I know that sounds overly dramatic, but these cookies are life changing. I swear to you. They will be your forever, last minute, go-to cookies. The recipe is from a new cookbook I ordered because the author was featured in another of my favorite books, The Kinfolk Table. A Simple Feast, by Diana Yen and The Jewels of New York, is an absolutely gorgeous book filled with seasonal recipes and stories. I was flipping through it for a dessert idea and landed on this recipe. I will never be the same.
In a large bowl, using either an electric mixer or your stand mixer on low speed, combine the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.
Increase speed to medium and add the egg whites and vanilla extract. Beat just until the batter comes together (be careful not to overbeat).
Shape the caramel halves into small discs.
Scoop the batter with a spoon and press a caramel disc into the center. It gets messy here; the batter is very wet so you’ll need to use your hands to wrap the batter around the disc. I promise it works, so just stay with me. Then drop the batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I bake 6 at a time, this leaves plenty of room between the cookies.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The tops of the cookies will be glossy and cracked. Transfer to a cooling rack.
These cookies are best eaten right away but will keep up to 5 days stored in an airtight container.
Every morning, when I check my computer, I am greeted with an onslaught of subscription emails. Emails from blogs, websites and magazines I choose to follow. In an ideal world, I would spend time each day pouring over every detail, soaking up all of that wonderful information that I just love reading about. However, as you know, when you throw life into the mix, that just isn’t going to happen. I read what I can, save things for some unknown time and delete the rest.
Last week, an email from the website Food52 caught my eye. Food52, if you haven’t already heard of them, brings cooks together to exchange recipes and ideas. They are everything food; from recipes and tips to tools and products, you will most likely be able to find what you need at Food52. It is one of my favorites and I pay special attention to their updates. This email featured a Banana Cake with Panocha Frosting. I have been hunting for a recipe like this.
Last month, I was out to dinner with family. A big, multi-course dinner at a little local Italian restaurant, La Taverna in La Jolla. The very best part of the meal was dessert, banana cake. My SiL, Conni, and I each took a bite of our respective slices and looked across the table at each other. There were NO words; this cake was heavenly. I had never tasted anything like it, ever. Until now. Since that meal, I’ve been on the look-out for a recipe that will provide a light, fluffy and not overly-complicated slice of banana cake.
This recipe from Food52’s Lindsay-Jean Hard, a contributing writer and editor for the site, is THE recipe. You will not need another recipe for banana cake ever again. In fact, you won’t even need another recipe for banana bread. If you go to Food52, be sure to check out the story behind her recipe (I am making few, if any, actual changes).
1/2 cup buttermilk (I was out of buttermilk, if this happens to you: combine 1 cup milk & juice of 1 lemon, stir and let sit for 10 minutes)
1 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans (Next time I make this, I will use rounds of parchment in each pan: butter each pan, place parchment rounds in pans, butter and flour bottoms & sides).
Cream together the butter and sugar. Add egg yolks, bananas and buttermilk, mixing after each addition until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine.
Beat the egg whites, in a very clean bowl, until soft peaks form.
Fold egg whites into the batter.
Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the cake is golden and the cake tester comes out clean.
For the Brown Sugar Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups powdered sugar
In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat and stir in the brown sugar. Stirring constantly, cook for about 3 minutes. Add the milk, raise the heat to medium and cook until boiling. Remove from the heat and let it cool for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is lukewarm.
Transfer mixture to a standing mixer. While beating, gradually add the powdered sugar until the frosting is smooth.
Frost the bottom layer of the cake. Carefully place the top layer on the bottom, frost the sides and top of the entire cake.
In my opinion, the perfect slice of banana cake.
Enjoy after dinner with a glass of milk.
Or in the morning with your coffee (the way I like it:)).
I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! The cake itself is amazing even without the frosting. It will definitely be a regular in my cake rotation.
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This post is short and sweet as I didn’t intend to blog about the Green Chili. But I’ve had so many friends ask me for the recipe, I feel the need to share it. These requests are one of the main reason I started blogging in the first place. Be warned, though, because I didn’t intend to post about this, there are only a few pictures.
We had a party at our house this past weekend, invited a lot of people and rolled two kegs into the kegerator. While I advertised it as a potluck, I felt it was necessary to serve something easy for me to make, that would last all day and would be great beer food. Instantly, I knew I wanted to make chili over Fritos. Such a fun party food; kind of silly, really satisfying and the perfect beer food! I started flipping through an amazing cookbook I picked up at the Great American Beer Festival this past fall. The bookstore section of the festival is one of my favorite spots and I drag my youngest brother, Blaine, there every year. The American Craft Beer Cookbook by John Holl is, by far, one of the best craft beer cookbooks I’ve ever seen. It is chock full of fantastic recipes collected from breweries, brew pubs and everywhere in between. I found the perfect chili recipe for my party: Vegetarian Green Chili from Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver, Colorado.
Makes 8-10 servings. I tripled this for the party.
1 cup canola oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pound green Anaheim chiles, seeded & diced
1 pound plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1 jalapeño, diced
1 tablespoon dark chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
9 cups vegetable broth
seasoned, warm pinto beans
grated cheddar cheese
Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until translucent (about 4 minutes). Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown.
Add the chiles, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and broth to the pot. Season with salt.
Cook the chili over low heat, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours.
Layer Fritos, pinto beans, green chili, cheddar cheese, and sour cream in a bowl. Grab a spoon, and a beer, and enjoy!
So easy, delicious and fun!
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Whew! I am so excited to be writing this post, it has been far too long. I have a gorgeous cocktail to share with you, but first I want to tell you about my blogging absence. I started with the intention to blog at least once a week, rain or shine. I’ve since realized, that at this point in my life, it was a pretty unrealistic goal. The material I post here is very important to me; the content of my writing, pictures and recipes have to meet my standards. I don’t want to be posting just to meet a self-imposed deadline. For those of you who don’t know me, I have two young boys and my husband works crazy sportscaster hours. I am room mom in both of my kids’ classrooms, I am the chairperson for the two book fairs at their elementary school (the spring fair is next week) and I tutor reading 2-3 times a week. When the virus that’s been going around the kids’ school hit our home last month, I just became super overwhelmed. The blog had to be put on the back burner until I could dig myself out of all of it – the sick, the feelings, the time change. I learned something big through all of this, though. This is not about quantity. Sure, I want followers, and I completely get the fact that I may not gain as many if I don’t post on a regular, consistent basis. Fine. It is more important to me that I can sustain this blog for a long, long time. Thank you for following me, it truly means a lot.
I may not have been posting, but I have been busy doing some great things for the blog! I was asked to make 100 pink boots cookies for a wonderful event at Mike Hess Brewing. As most of you know, I am a huge craft beer fan and love to support my friends in the industry. Saturday, March 8th was the first worldwide International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. Female beer professionals all over the world collaborated with each other and about 70 breweries to brew Unite Pale Ale. Proceeds from the events surrounding the day and the beer itself are going to Pink Boots Society and other local charities that support women in brewing. Pink Boots Society is a group that “empowers women beer professionals to advance their careers in the beer industry through education”. It is awesome. Mike Hess Brewing threw a fabulous brunch on IWCB Day and The Incidental Spoon provided really fun Pink Boots cookies.
Be sure to grab a pint of Unite Pale Ale if you see it on draft anywhere!
The cocktail I’m sharing today was inspired by a recipe I discovered while looking at the gorgeous Summerland by Anne Stiles Quatrano. Honestly, the name for her cocktail is what made me want to make it; she calls it Spring Forward Cocktail. I had such a hard time with the time change this year and this recipe really called to me. I have changed the recipe a bit, played with the presentation and some ingredients are not exactly what she called for. Therefore, I am renaming mine Rhuby Red. Please check out the Summerland recipe and the beautiful book!
Rhuby Red Cocktail inspired by the Spring Forward Cocktail in Summerland by Anne Stiles Quatrano.
1 hibiscus tea bag
rhubarb poaching liquid (see recipe below)
rhubarb stalks for garnish (from poaching liquid recipe)
Rhubarb Poaching Liquid
4-6 large rhubarb stalks
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup moscato wine
juice of 1 lemon
Make the Rhubarb Poaching Liquid
Peel the rhubarb (grab the strings between your thumb and a small paring knife and pull down to the end of each stalk). Reserve the strings.
Slice the peeled stalks lengthwise into 1/2-inch wide strips and then cut into 2-inch long pieces.
In a saucepan, combine the rhubarb strings, orange juice, sugar, wine, lemon juice, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
Remove the strings and discard. Add the sliced rhubarb, reduce heat to low and cook for 1 minute.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the rhubarb to a bowl and refrigerate.
Continue cooking the poaching liquid, over medium heat, until it has reduced about one quarter (about 10 minutes). Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and let cool.
Add the cooked rhubarb back into the liquid and refrigerate (covered or in an airtight container) for up to one week.
Make the Cocktail:
Place the tea bag in a pitcher, add two cups of boiling water and let steep for about 7 minutes.
Remove the tea bag and refrigerate the tea for at least an hour.
Combine 2 ounces of tea, 2 ounces of rhubarb poaching liquid, 4 ounces of vodka, and 4 dashes of orange bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Strain into a small cocktail glass and garnish with a rhubarb stalk from the poaching liquid.
Enjoy! This gorgeous drink would be perfect anytime! Brunch, sunset, after dinner – whenever! While the poaching liquid is quite a bit of work, the recipe makes A LOT of drinks. It would be great for a crowd or just special enough for one or two!
Let me know if you try the recipe! Follow the blog and be sure to #TheIncidentalSpoon on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook!
I have two younger brothers, Clint and Blaine. We’re all very close in age (Clint is about 20 months younger than me and Blaine was born less than three years after Clint) and were close growing up. We share a lot of the same friends from high school, and even though our lives are different now, we still occasionally run in similar social circles. Blaine lives in Denver; while we all wish he’d move back down to San Diego, he absolutely loves Colorado. Clint and his wife, Conni (the beautiful mind behind Art in the Find, a fashion & style blog), live here, in San Diego. Clint is truly a wonderful man. He adores his wife, puts his family as his number one priority and is an amazing uncle. I think Blaine and I would agree that we are so lucky to form the Clint Sandwich;). So, yesterday was Clint’s birthday and we celebrated exactly how he wanted to: surrounded by family (sans Blaine, but he was there in spirit) at an old school Chinese restaurant (Mandarin House in La Jolla). After dinner, we all went back to my mom and stepdad’s for cake.
I made the cake. Red Velvet Cake. You love it or you hate it. My brother loves it, my husband hates it. It’s not a cake for everyone. There is a very present beet flavor, and if you can’t get over that, it’s probably not for you. For example, some people just don’t like goat cheese. If you serve them five-cheese penne with goat cheese they’re just not going to like the penne because the goat cheese flavor is so present to them. It doesn’t mean the penne isn’t good, or that they’re wrong for not liking it…the dish just doesn’t work for them. Red velvet cake isn’t for everyone. This recipe is for those who love it. It is good, really good.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap the beets in foil and bake until tender, about an hour. Let cool. Peel.
Cut the beets into chunks and cool completely. Puree in a food processor until completely smooth. Measure out 1 1/3 cups of the puree; reserve any remaining puree for another use (I used 1 1/3, next time I would use less, maybe just 1 cup).
Bring the milk and butter to just a boil.
Remove from heat and whisk in the beet puree.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour with the cocoa powder and salt.
Butter the bottoms and sides of two 9-inch cake pans, place parchment rounds on the bottom of each and butter the tops of the parchment.
Place the eggs, sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Set the bowl about 2 inches above a saucepan of simmering water and beat until smooth, warm and the sugars are dissolved, about 4 minutes.
Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg mixture, at high speed, until thickened and cooled, about 5 minutes.
Scrape into a large bowl.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture.
Fold until no streaks remain.
Fold one-third of the batter into the beet mixture, then gently fold the beet mixture back into the remaining batter in three additions.
Scrape batter into prepared cake pans.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Transfer the cake pans to a rack and cool completely.
Make the icing:
In the bowl of the stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in crème fraîche just until incorporated. Add the powdered sugar in two batches and beat at low speed just until blended. Beat in vanilla. At high speed, gradually add the cream cheese, by the tablespoon, until the icing is smooth.
Frost the cake:
Place one cake round on a serving surface. Spread about 1 cup of the icing on top of the layer. Cover the first layer with the second cake round and frost the top and sides of the entire cake with the remaining icing.
Refrigerate the cake for at least two hours before serving.
Extra decorating tip, chocolate sides:
Prepare a sheet of foil on a baking sheet and another sheet of foil on your work surface. Cut two 3×14-inch strips of wax or parchment paper and place on work surface foil. Melt about 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Spread melted chocolate evenly, in a thin layer, over parchment paper. Transfer parchment paper strips to baking sheet foil and chill for two minutes.
Carefully apply parchment paper strips to sides of cake and chill, with parchment paper still on, until just before serving.
Carefully remove parchment strips and serve cake.
A gorgeous Red Velvet Cake for your RV lover. It was a hit at Clint’s birthday!
With that, a very, very Happy Birthday to you, my dear brother. I hope your day was as wonderful as you!
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My husband and I are celebrating 12 years of marriage this Sunday. Valentine’s Day has meant so many different things throughout my life and, really, has now come full circle. Growing up, we look so forward to celebrating at school and exchanging candy notes with our classmates. As a teenager, I remember both excitement and disappointment when it came to the holiday (one boyfriend broke up with me two days before Valentine’s Day, really?!). In college, I just remember celebrating the day with other single friends; happy to be unattached and free. I met Ben right out of college in December of 1999, we were married on February 16, 2002. Lifetime Valentine Achievement Earned, right? It has been an amazing 12 years. We are really, really awesome life partners. He has an unbelievable amount of patience and I like to think I bring that extra sparkle;). We just work. I am proud of the adults we have become, the partnership we have formed and everything we have created together.
These days, our Valentine’s Day consists of manically throwing together class Valentine’s for our boys (“Mommy, I’m putting ‘FROM, Graham’, not ‘LOVE, Graham’, I don’t LOVE them and I don’t want anyone getting the wrong idea!”), baking cookies for classroom parties and trying to think of a token of appreciation for their teachers. Those red roses, chocolates and love notes? Well, they’ve been replaced by crayons, cookies and “FROM”s. I am not complaining one bit. I am thankful everyday for my loves.
In an attempt to treat everyone this holiday, I decided to whip up something for all of us. Anyone will enjoy this Dark Hot Fudge for lovers, kids, teachers, moms, and all of you amazing singletons!
Dark Hot Fudge adapted from Feast by Sarah Copeland (an absolutely gorgeous vegetarian cookbook). Makes about 3 cups.
1 cup raw sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup agave nectar
4 ounces coarsely chopped GOOD unsweetened chocolate*
2 ounces coarsely chopped GOOD bittersweet dark chocolate*
1/3 cup cubed unsalted butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
ice cream, fruit, a body, spoon, whatever you need as a vehicle for this amazing sauce.
*Quality of chocolate is very important. Please don’t skimp, you are only cheating yourself.
In a medium pot, combine the sugar, cream, agave, both chocolates, and butter.
Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Reduce to medium-low heat, stirring until chocolate and butter melt.
Continue cooking over medium-low heat, without stirring, until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Make sure chocolate doesn’t scorch.
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth.
Serve or cool completely before storing in clean jars and refrigerating. Sauce will keep, refrigerated, for two weeks.
Give someone some Dark Hot Fudge love, whether it’s yourself, the kids or your special someone. It will definitely fill their hearts.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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This is about the time of year some of us crave just a hint of summer. Living in Southern California, I am lucky enough to have amazing weather almost all the time. Even then, the short days and lack of summer produce wear on me. I needed a hint of summer.
I know I’ve said it before and I’ll say it many more times, if you live in San Diego, you have to go check out Specialty Produce. Specifically their Farmer’s Market refrigerator, it is produce heaven. Seasonal, fresh, gorgeous, and affordable produce in one place. I went in search of something that would be perfect for a seasonal ice cream recipe, thinking grapefruit or oranges. I found (thanks to the amazing staff at SP) the most beautiful blood oranges. I am so excited to share this recipe with you!
Blood Orange Ice Cream – makes about a pint, so feel free to double it
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split open
pinch of salt
zest from one blood orange
4 egg yolks
1/2-3/4 cup blood orange juice (about 6 oranges)
Combine the milk, cream, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla bean, salt, and zest in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
Whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar until pale yellow.
Whisking constantly, slowly add warm cream mixture to eggs. Once combined, pour mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate, stirring constantly, until mixture coats the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat, strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Refrigerate for at least two hours (this is a very important step that I ALWAYS recommend when making ice cream). The colder, the better.
Pour mixture into an ice cream maker. Once mixing, add blood orange juice. Continue per ice cream maker manufacturer instructions.
When finished in ice cream maker, be sure to store ice cream in a separate container (do NOT use ice cream maker bowl). I use a food service quart container, with a top, from Smart & Final (I recommend buying a few of these, they are great for storing ice cream, soup, etc.).
After freezing for a few hours, scoop and enjoy!
The blood orange juice gave the ice cream the most gorgeous color (there was no artificial coloring added). The flavor is heavenly. I recommend making this for your valentine. Home-made ice cream is a true testament of love and this would be perfect!
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I think most of us have a little neighborhood Thai restaurant that we just love. Mine isn’t something I would necessarily recommend to anyone. It isn’t anything super fantastic, the veggies in the soup possibly come from a can, their soda machine is usually out of the basics and there are people sign twirling on the corner (a big red arrow that says, Thai Food). It is my neighborhood Thai place, though, and I love it. Ben and I walk in and they smile brightly, know our orders without even asking and always give us extra peanut sauce;). It is the best, that little Thai place. It makes me feel like I’m home. I love it. Oh, and we go there a lot, obviously.
I needed a way to bring a little of that Thai home, to my kitchen, and came across this wonderful recipe in the Sweet Potatoes Issue of Short Stack Editions (Volume 6). It is a bold take on a simple Thai restaurant staple, tom kha. The sweet potatoes give the soup a richness that is delicious; it elevates the soup from a starter to a main dish. Scott Hocker, the author of this Short Stack volume, likes to puree the soup for a smoother texture. He admits it is inauthentic, but I have to agree that it tastes amazing this way.
I encourage you to subscribe to Short Stack Editions. Amazing booklets with ingredient specific recipes that are simple, bold and delicious. Plus, fun mail (we can all use some good mail, right?)! Also, be sure to subscribe to the blog (at the right), follow on IG, Twitter and Facebook and #TheIncidentalSpoon!