3!

June 14, 2011

Another birthday, just like that, and Zuzu is 3! For months — months! — she has been requesting cherry-related items for her birthday. We all laughed about it until about a month ago, when I realized I’d better do something. Alas, I never did find the requested cherry horse, cherry house, cherry car, or cherry bigstuff (whatever that is), but I did find some cute skirts and a shirt and some pretend cherry pie.

And cherries are a great excuse for a cupcake theme, of course. We went with chocolate cherry cupcakes with black cherry cream cheese frosting (thank heavens for cupcake-related blogs!), and they were amazing.

Vintage rotating musical birthday cake platter thanks to Adriane. Come to think of it, piping bag for the frosting thanks to Adriane, too. These cupcakes would not have been possible without Adriane!

In this photo, the look on Zuzu’s face says, “It is at this exact moment that I have realized that no one in my family can sing.”

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CATEGORIES: Zuzu

Raw Energy

March 30, 2011

So, with all my random food issues these days (well, not my food issues, but the ones that are mine as a nursing mother), a book called Raw Energy by Stephanie Tourles caught my eye at the library. It’s a book of raw food recipes (snacks, mainly), and since raw food by definition can’t include wheat, dairy, or eggs, I can eat everything in it. The book goes into all the reasons it’s great to eat a raw diet, and I believe it, but it’s not practical for a family of six. Also, I like cooking. However, I get the point and see no reason not to go raw for snacks and maybe some lunches or breakfasts.

So I got the book out, and made some Herbal Energy Balls, which are a little like the great peanut butter balls, but with almond butter and coconut. Yum! And then I decided that I can figure out raw snacks without a book (hello, apple!) and returned it to the library. And then I kept thinking about all the recipes I didn’t get to try, so I got it out again. And then I just gave up and bought it.

There are a lot of juices and things-to-drink that I haven’t explored yet. There are quite a few recipes that call for a dehydrator, which I don’t have (do you?). But I have been elbow-deep in all the various snack balls and bars. There are many, many other recipes I still want to try, but I am having so much fun in the snack ball chapter that I haven’t bothered exploring the other ones.

I did venture briefly into the dessert chapter to make the vegan chocolate pudding (a coconut oil/cocoa/raw honey concoction) which is so incredibly yummy I can’t even tell you. It’s the devil, if the devil can come in the form of something without refined sugar. It becomes this solid block of fudge in the fridge, just perfect for breaking off a big chunk and furtively stuffing it into your mouth while your children are upstairs getting socks. For instance.

I got permission from the publisher to share a recipe with you, and I deliberated quite a bit deciding which one to share. I finally decided on Smooth Maple-Carob Zippers. They have chocolate and maple syrup, and you keep them in the freezer, which makes for an interesting texture (and also makes me less likely to eat a whole mess of them). I find that the recipes in this book are extremely adaptable — so I’ll give you the recipe, and tell you my changes also.

Smooth Maple-Carob Zippers

Excerpted from Raw Energy by Stephanie Tourles, used with permission from Storey Publishing

1 cup raisins
1 cup raw pecans
1 cup raw carob powder (I use regular cocoa powder — you can also find raw cocoa powder if you want to keep it raw)
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
coconut oil

1. Soak the raisins for 4 hours in enough purified water to cover by about 1 inch. Drain. The soaking water can be refrigerated and added to a smoothie recipe to serve as a sweetening ingredient later, if you wish. Note: I have made this using soaked raisins and also by skipping this step and using dry raisins. I think I actually prefer it with the dry raisins: it takes less time, and the snacks made with soaked raisins seemed more prone to freezer burn.

2. Put the pecans in a food processor and grind to a medium-fine meal. Add the raisins, carob (or cocoa powder), maple syrup, cayenne, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and pulse-chop until you achieve a slightly chunky, fudgy consistency. Don’t process to the point of a paste. The mixture will be very moist and thick, so you may have to use a spatula to free to blade a few times. Be careful.

3. Scrap the dough into a medium bowl, then oil your hands with coconut oil.

4. Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll into bite-size balls about 1 inch in diameter.

5. Store in a tightly sealed container in the freezer for up to 6 months. Wait 24 hours prior to consuming so that the flavors blend and the texture becomes firm and chewy.

Yield: about 40 bites

Let me know what you think! Like I said, there are still many recipes in here for me to explore, but I think it’s worth the price of admission for the snack ball chapter and the chocolate pudding fudge stuff.

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CATEGORIES: Food

Your Weekly Zuzu

April 8, 2010

Quintessential Zu: chocolate all over her face, boy sweater, hat, necklace.

Also the hat nicely shows off the That Girl flip she gets going most days:

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CATEGORIES: Zuzu
Tags: , , ,

Signs of the Times

December 21, 2009

Cookie baking aftermath:

About to watch “Charlie Brown Christmas”:

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CATEGORIES: baking, holidays

Gourmet homemade Thin Mints

December 15, 2009

Let me just take a super quick break from my giant research paper to report some important cookie news. I picked up a bag of Limited Edition Nestle Tollhouse Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels (I got them at Target), and I’m here to report to you that the cookie recipe on the back of the bag, Mint Chocolate Delights, tastes exactly like Thin Mints, only actually much better. I did use Double Dutch Dark Cocoa from King Arthur, and that probably made a difference, also. Yum!

(For the record, that Double Dutch Dark Cocoa is the only cocoa I use any more. It’s unbelievably good.)

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CATEGORIES: baking

Hello, chocolate black pepper cookies!

October 7, 2009

These are my new favorite Birthday Present cookies (based solely on the fact that I’ve given them to both Scott and Stacey on their birthdays). Martha Stewart’s Chocolate Black Pepper Cookies: YUM. Dark cocoa, espresso powder, black pepper in the dough and then a sprinkle on each cookie, and crunchy turbinado sugar along the edge. They are a masterpiece of flavor and texture. Really.

And my new favorite way to package them is to take an empty oatmeal canister and wrap it in wrapping paper, and then stack the cookies inside. So much nicer than trying to load them onto a plate and mess with plastic wrap. Or load them into a plastic bag and pretend that’s at all gifty.

Chocolate Black Pepper Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground pepper, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon good-quality instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Coarse sanding sugar, for rolling
  1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, pepper, espresso powder, and cinnamon into a large bowl; set aside.
  2. Put butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined.
  3. Turn out dough onto a piece of parchment paper, and roll into a 2-inch-diameter log. Roll log in the parchment. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove log from parchment paper. Let soften slightly at room temperature, about 5 minutes. Roll log in sanding sugar, gently pressing down to adhere sugar to dough. Transfer log to a cutting board, and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 1 inch apart. Sprinkle each round with freshly ground pepper.
  5. Bake cookies until there is slight resistance when you lightly touch centers, about 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 days.
CATEGORIES: baking

Eggs

May 28, 2009

Let’s say that you go to the dump, and then on the way back you suddenly have a mild panic attack because you realize you hard boiled all the eggs for egg salad sandwiches, meaning there are no eggs, and you were thinking of making brownies. Because you get no sleep and chocolate is your only form of caffeine intake. So your husband says, “Let’s just stop at Amato’s” because you were driving by, and Amato’s is the last business establishment before you get home that might sell eggs.

So you go inside and don’t see any eggs, and you ask someone behind the counter if they have eggs. He says, “We don’t, but I can sell you some,” seeing the brownie panic that is causing worry lines to crease your forehead into canyons. So he goes into the back and returns with the eggs in a little metal tin, like they’d give you take-out lasagna in or something.

And then you are cracking up all the way back to the car and you get in and your husband says, “Can I get sauce with those eggs?”

And then you don’t actually end up making brownies. But you could have.

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CATEGORIES: baking

Tallying up success

May 1, 2009

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CATEGORIES: Julie

This is just to say

April 20, 2009

I have eaten
the majority of the
cookie dough
that was in the fridge

it was supposed
to be “chilling”
so we could make
animal crackers later.

Forgive me
but I’m on a deadline
and we were inexplicably
out of dark chocolate.

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CATEGORIES: Julie

More birthday baked goods: peanut butter crispy bars

April 7, 2009

A week ago, on my birthday, Eli and I decided to do some birthday browsing at our local bookstore, which is something we haven’t done in forever. I was feeling all birthday-happy and decided to get the boys some stickers. They love stickers so much but they’re so fleeting. It’s like 20 minutes of intense stickering, and then it’s over.

After school, Henry had an inexplicable meltdown about the stickers I’d gotten him. Something about having wanted three kangaroo stickers instead of the two he got. Which made me want to rip the stickers out of his hands and say, “You’re going to complain about the present I get you, then you don’t get any present!” He was whining incoherently, and I was pantomiming strangling him behind his back, and please tell me I’m not the only parent who does that.

And suddenly behind me, there was a gentle knock-knock-knock, and I turn around, and there’s Scott and Stacey on our back porch, with Scott gives me a good hearty thumbs up. Bleh. Nothing like having your childless friends appear during a typical child wig-out. I’m glad they’re such good friends that I didn’t feel like I needed to explain.

Especially because they were bringing birthday baked goods! There was some incredible cranberry biscotti, which I couldn’t photograph because we ate it too quickly. Also some peanut butter chocolate chip rice crispy bars which were amazing and I think Stacey said they were somewhat healthy but honestly I couldn’t hear her over the horrible screaming coming from my children. Scott and Stacey got a good demonstration of how children = cats when I buckled and said, “Do you want TREATS?” and the boys yelled, “Yes! Yes!” and ran to my ankles and rubbed against my legs while I unwrapped the rice crispy bars. And hurrah for protein because they were much better behaved after gobbling down their treats.

I’m sure when Scott and Stacey left they got into their cute little car and sighed with happy relief that they don’t have children. I wonder if they saw me run to the window and gaze longingly at them as they drove away.

CATEGORIES: Bad Kids, baking, Food
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