Friday, September 30, 2016

Pound Cake

I have always loved baking. My love started when I got my Easy Bake oven many years ago and had to wait like 10 minutes for miniature baked goods that still weren't fully cooked, but were still amazingly delicious. It brought me so much joy to see the look on someone's face when I presented them with one of my baked goods (even though they probably pretended to eat it and threw it away lol). While I don't bake as much as my younger easy bake oven loving self, (it's hard for two people to finish a cake and be healthy, just saying) I still enjoy it and the stress relief it brings me when I do. So for this baking endeavor, I found this pound cake recipe, not made in an easy bake oven (maybe I should get one now haha), and it did not disappoint. It was the perfect combination of dense and moist that made it perfect for eating alone or topped with berries and whipped cream. You can also enjoy it as a dessert or even a sweet breakfast option. My favorite way to eat it is either cold and plain, or cold and with strawberries and whipped cream. I don't know if the cold thing is weird, but I seem to like it better that way. Let me know how you like yours! Enjoy!

Pound Cake

1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
5 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose soft-wheat flour (White Lily) *I used cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 (5-oz) can evaporated milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Set aside.

Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat at medium speed for 6 minutes, until really light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and beat for an additional minute. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yolk disappears.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Combine evaporated milk and heavy cream. Add flour mixture and cream mixture to butter mixture alternately beginning and ending with flour (1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 cream mixture, 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 cream mixture, 1/3 flour mixture). Beat at slow speed after each addition. Stir in vanilla and almond extract. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour. Remove from pan and continue cooling on wire rack until completely cool.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

IRL at Sonoma Raceway

So on a complete spontaneous weekend, we decided to head up to check out the Indy Car race in Sonoma.  Casey and I aren't huge race fans per se, but I still wanted to check out the track and also thought it would be cool to see the IRL season finale.  Why not?  So we trekked up to wine country, tailgated, and enjoyed some racing. 

The track itself was really cool.  I had never been to a road track for an actual race before.  We were initially confused on where to park for will-call, and then get parking pass.  Once we figured everything out and my stress levels lowered, we had a great time.  It was suuper hot.  In fact it was so hot we found a place in the shade to hang out and watch until the shade seeped over our section. 

The race wasn't particularly exciting.  Early on one of the two drivers in competition for the championship was knocked out for a little bit, essentially ending any championship drama.  Also, Casey and I were pretty disappointed in the crowd.  The attendance was pretty low, and the general enthusiasm for what was going on was less than what we were used to.  Perhaps we've all been spoiled by the atmosphere at the Indy 500 where it is the end all, be all.

All in all it was a fantastic cap to our crazy weekend(the night before we went to a Cards game in San Francisco).  Although we were absolutely gassed by the end of the race(pun intended), we had a blast.  It was really cool checking out a race track in a really pretty part of the country.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


This is one of those simple recipes that you, at least once, have those "Why didn't I think of that?" thoughts. Well since I didn't, I'm sure glad on of my favorite outspoken celebs (Chrissy Teigen) did in her new Cravings: Recipes For All the Foods You Want to Eat Cookbook. She took a classic BLT (which I do crave from time to time) and added a couple items and changed the bread and now you have a completely different sandwich. It's that easy. Plus, you can present it in a way that lets people build their own sandwich, adding as much or as little toppings as desired. The Hawaiian rolls and pineapple add a nice, subtle sweetness to the garlic bacon and your remaining "LT." So they all really compliment each other well. These are great finger sandwiches for a plethora of events; brunches, cookouts, tailgates/sports parties, etc. If you like your BLT's try something a little different. You won't regret it! Enjoy! 

King’s Hawaiian BLPT'S

2 slices cored fresh pineapple
8 King’s Hawaiian slider rolls, split
Unsalted butter, softened
Mayo, as much as you like
4 lettuce leaves, cut to fit the sandwiches
1 large vine-ripened tomato, cut into 8 slices
8 slices bacon, cooked (see the bacon recipe that we used which was delicious!) and halved crosswise
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced into rings

Position a rack 4 to 6 inches from the heating element and preheat the broiler.

Arrange the pineapple slices on a baking sheet and broil until browned on both sides.  Let cool slightly, then quarter them.  (You can also grill the pineapple on a hot grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.)  Leave the broiler on.

Spread the rolls with butter and arrange on another baking sheet.  Broil them until deeply golden, 1-2 minutes.

Spread mayo on the rolls, then layer the lettuce, tomato, bacon, onions, and a pineapple wedge on the roll bottoms.  Top with the other half of the rolls.

Garlic-roasted bacon

12 slices thick-cut bacon
3 cloves garlic, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Lay the bacon out on a rimmed baking sheet so the slices don’t overlap.  Sprinkle the garlic all over the bacon.  Roast until crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.  (Even if you don’t use the garlic, this is still the best way to cook bacon.)


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Carah Faye and Lindsey Stirling at Mountain Winery


In a moment of spontaneity, Casey and I decided to go see Lindsey Stirling at Mountain Winery. We had been to Mountain Winery before and thought that it would be a really cool venue to see a show.  Lindsey Stirling, for those that don't know, is a violinist.  I seems like a really odd choice for Casey and I.  For some reason when choosing a show to go see her name stuck out to us.  I read later that she was on America's Got Talent one season, so maybe we saw her on there.  Lindsey Stirling not only plays violin, but she dances around and mashes a lot of her music with electronica.  It is actually pretty cool, and you haven't seen a show like it...scoring extra points for originality.

Going to a concert at Mountain Winery was interesting in itself.  There is basically one road that winds guessed it...a mountain.  The drive itself is pretty interesting, however, getting a lot of people up one long, winding road isn't the most efficient process in the world.  It was doubly inefficient on the way down.  The amphitheater at the venue itself was spectacular, it is one of the coolest places I've ever seen a show.  The owners of this venue exploit the uniqueness of the venue by charging outrageous prices for food and drinks(wine).  Even the wine that they produce at the estate was extremely up-charged from normal pricing for the concerts.  It was even worse that stadium pricing at huge arenas/stadiums.  Once you get past the sticker shock and general inconvenience of going up/down a mountain, it was all positives.


The opening act was Carah Faye.  I personally hadn't ever heard of her before but Casey and I enjoyed her show very much.  Upon googling her we found out she is the lead singer of a band that Casey has on her iTunes, Shiny Toy Guns, so it makes sense that we enjoyed her piece.  She is launching a solo career so her album isn't even released yet so it was really cool listening to all new music.  I think she has a single out so I highly recommend checking it out.  On a completely unrelated note, the keyboardist looked exactly like Jason serious doppelganger.

The main attraction was next:  Lindsey Stirling.  Casey and I had no idea what to expect from the show.  Not having expectations was awesome though, because we were blown away.  It was a combination of incredible musicianship combined with really cool dancing(her and her dancers), dubstep-like mashups, light shows, and even periodic video clips.  It was eye and ear candy for the entirety of the show.  Towards the end of the show Carah Faye even came out and sang a guest spot on a song that they collaborated on.  Another surprise was that Jason Sudeikis was the keyboard player for Lindsey Stirling as well.  He was so goofy.  Anyways all in all it was an incredible show.  I highly encourage you all to try and see her if you get an opportunity.  Go into it with zero expectations as we did and you will be blown away as well.  Just as a fyi, she is primarily an instrumental-only artist, so don't fast forward through songs looking for a chorus lol.  If you are wanting to check out a couple of songs on Youtube try The Arena (instrumental) or Something Wild (someone guest sings on it).



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Gluten Free Blackberry Muffins

So I always give my husband a hard time about eating "crappy" foods. While he has gotten much better and has learned to try new things, one thing hasn't changed (that I was surprised about when we first started dating); his love for all things lemon and blackberry. Now I knew when I found this recipe, found here, that I had to make it for him. What I didn't tell him was that I wanted to try to make it gluten free. I used Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose baking flour even though the original recipe used All-Purpose flour so don't feel like you have to do it gluten free. However, I will say that they turned out really amazing. The blackberries just bust open every bite I took and the taste of lemon really complimented the berries and didn't overpower the muffins at all. They were so good they didn't even need butter (tried it with and without). They are nice and light and perfect for a grab and go breakfast or a simple dessert after dinner. Enjoy!

Blackberry Muffins

1/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons All-purpose flour
Grated zest from 1/2 of a lemon
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 cups All-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Grated zest from 1/2 of a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed and dried

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place 12 muffin cups in muffin tin or grease with butter.

To make the topping, combine all ingredients in a bowl until crumbly and set aside.

For the muffins, put the paddle attachment on your mixer and start adding your wet ingredients first, then the dry, keeping the speed slow.  Adding everything but the berries.  Once everything is combined, fold in the blackberries by hand.  Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups.  Sprinkle the topping evenly between the 12 muffins.  Bake 25-30 minutes or until cake tester comes our clean.  Serve warm with or even without butter.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Año Nuevo State Park

A couple weeks ago we had family in town and decided to head someplace a little scenic for a hike. Our first choice was to go to Point Lobos State Park, but unfortunately we started seeing smoke from what we think was the Soberanes fire. We didn't know much about the fire at the time so we decided not to risk it and instead decided to head north along the Pacific Coast to find another place to hike (honestly there was no shortage of places to stop). So, we randomly picked Año Nuevo State Park. Going with the flow is easy enough right? Well, the first, I don't know, 30 minutes of our trip were just plain bizarre. First off the park ranger at the gate basically lectured us for being there too early after having let us sit there for about 5 minutes before acknowledging us (I looked up the time they opened at it had been 20 minutes at that point). Then, when we went to pay, our bill was too large because she had not counted her drawer, but between the four of us we came up with the exact amount (again, they had been open for 20 minutes). We were then told the park was known for their elephant seals and how to get there, which included us having to unlatch a fence (weird, but alright). We had a good laugh and drove off to park.


With our sunscreen on and water bottles in tow, we were ready to start our 4 mile hike. We were laughing about the events that had just taken place, wondering if we were on a reality show (good thing we all are polite and kept out composure), when the first bout of terror took place. There was a sign warning about the snakes you'll find in the area. I felt my body go cold like I was losing all my blood, surely I was sick and needed to leave (not a "country" girl at all as my husband says). Sadly no one else seemed to share my terror, so three against one, we were back on track. After a lifetime (ok maybe 5-10 minutes max) of screams and jumping from the snakes (I never saw one but Kevin did) we came to our first obstacle. Which way do we go? Apparently we all listened really well, or same logic as before, four against one, it must have been the park rangers fault. I kid, I kid. I'm sure we were at fault. In front of us was a latched fence (promising since we did in fact listen), to the left, a small building with an equally looking small path, and to the right a rope up with what may or may not be a path, but at least 3-4 workers walking around and sitting in a truck. We quickly ruled out option three because it looked like the truck and workers were blocking off what may or may not be a path. We were unsure about the latched fence because it was pretty big and surely it would be open if we were supposed to go that way. So, you guessed it, we went with option one. It wasn't right, but it wasn't necessarily wrong either. It didn't lead us to the seals, but we did get a very short hike to a decent view. Ok, now we had narrowed it down to the other two options with two new friends whom were also wandering aimlessly looking for seals.  With the workers still sitting in their trucks, we all decided to go with the latched fence option because the lady had told all of us that. As we are walking we were passing busy construction workers working away.  We had made it a fair distance when someone finally stopped us and said we were supposed to be there because it was closed off to public due to them working on it. Um, thank you 6-10(if your counting the initial people blocking the other route) for being kind and letting us know. Obviously you know what came next, we went down the path that seemed to be blocked off. It was so odd. We walked past the workers and the ropes like we owned the place and no one said anything so we kept on our merry way. We kept walking and laughing about our whole adventure thus far, going on boarded paths and then sand that left your shoes full and back again when we stared to not only smell the fishy smell, but hear the elephant seals. We were happy and somewhat relieved (hello beginning of a horror movie thus far). We stood around and watched them for a few minutes. Some looked like they were fighting or playing, hard to tell, and others just laid around and threw sand on themselves. I just kept thinking about how I hate to get sand in my bikini lol, but I'm sure they do it for a reason unbeknownst to me.

We were getting ready to leave when we noticed a couple of those viewfinder telescope things (real technical here) and decided to check them out. That my friends, is when the pure terror happened. We saw an island maybe a mile or two away that we later found out was Ano Nuevo Island (fitting). It had hundreds of elephant seals and a couple deteriorating buildings. It was insanely creepy. In fact, there is actually a thriller book written called New Year Island that is set in modern day on this particular island. I have not yet read it, but I think I'm going to have to! After we had our fill at staring at the creepiness that was Ano Nuevo Island, we made the trek back (faster since we knew the way this time). We, well mostly I, had a "snake plan" of attack for the hike back. It was basically stay in the middle of everyone and run like crazy if I had to! Best plan ever! Take that snakes. Though, I'm happy to report that there were no sightings. Overall, I would go back. It's not too strenuous and once you know your way, the outcome of seeing the elephant seals and some of the coast really made it worth it!  


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Loaded "Nacho" Potato Skins

I've talked about recipes from some of our cookbooks, some healthy, some, well, you need to spend a year in the gym. Luckily for those of you watching your figure (though summer is about over so you can cheat a little) this is a heathy recipe from the Skinnytaste cookbook. Side note, they also have a website that has many healthy/vegetarian/gluten free/you name it recipes on it as well! This particular recipe is gluten free and comes in at 75 calories per skin (per the cookbook), though I somehow think ours are more than that because we never seem to have enough filling to fill all 16 halves. Now don't get me wrong, this recipe is quite delicious and really filling, but there is a thing I'm not too keen on, mainly dealing with waste. I hate wasting food, I'm not an eat until your sick because I won't leave food, but I try not to waste any if that makes sense. So I don't like how many of the ingredients aren't "used in full" (the turkey if you buy a package, tomatoes, beans, insides of potatoes). So it's just something to keep in mind when you're making it and maybe think of other useful ways to use them. A few other tips, like I said, we run out of filling usually so feel free to add a bit more of each ingredient in the filling if you find that's the case for you as well. Also, make sure your skins are nice and crisp, otherwise you'll end up with chewy instead of crunchy skins, and don't drain your tomatoes so you can really let the meat mixture come to a simmer with all the flavors melding together. These will be perfect for the upcoming football season! Go Colts! Enjoy!

Loaded "Nacho" Potato Skins

8 small russet baking potatoes

Quick Chili Filling
6 ounces extra lean ground turkey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup canned diced tomatoes with chiles
1/2 cup canned fat-free refrained beans *make sure gluten-free
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Potato skin toppings
Cooking spray or oil mister
1/8 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack or sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup pickled jalapeño slices
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup pico de gallo
1/4 cup chopped scallions

Pierce each potato several times with a fork. Microwave on high for about 12 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. (Alternatively, bake them in a 400°F oven directly on the oven rack until the skins are crisp and a knife easily pierces the potatoes, about 50 minutes. *This is the way we did) Tranfer to a wire rack and let cool until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.

For the chili filling:
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook, breaking into small pieces, until no longer pink, 4-5 minutes. Season with the salt. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, retried beans, cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 7-8 minutes to blend the flavors.

For the potato skin toppings:
Slice each potato in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch intact. Lightly coat the insides and skin sides with salt and pepper. Arrange the potato shells on a baking sheet and broil until the skins start to crisp and brown, 2-3 minutes on each side. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Divide the chili evenly among the potato skins and top with the cheese and jalapeño slices. Return to the oven and heat until the cheese is melted, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the sour cream, pico, and scallions.

*obviously you don't have to use the toppings or even the quantities of them listed. Also, we halved this and used the small golden potatoes in a sack instead of the russets.