I’m slowly getting myself used to the idea that we are about to head into summer (tomorrow is the official day!). I mean, it’s felt like summer all week long but I need mental preparation for things like the sweltering temperatures and sweating.
As you know, I’m more of a wintery person. I like sweaters and snow and crisp breezes. This past weekend, a few pairs of shorts and summer clothes arrived in the mail, along with a beautiful straw bag that my friend Cassie brought back for me from Bali—it’s beautiful (this one is kinda similar tho the ones she bought were like a fraction of the price, of course).
I wrote lots of lists this weekend, too. I’m preparing for a biggish project that I’ll be telling you about soon! (It’s fun and cool and will result in more pretty pictures of food.)
Also, Beyonce had twins! WHEEET?!?! She had them reportedly LAST Monday. I’m mainly impressed that they were capable of keeping that private for an entire week. Go, B!
ANDDDD, The Great British Baking Show started on PBS. I love that show so very much. There are a lot of things that I’ve made on this lil’ blog (like the battenburg cake!) that was inspired by things I’ve seen on that show. The pistachio loaf cake that Benjamina made in the first episode looked SO GOOD.
Anyway, let’s talk about this cake. OMG I’m so excited. This coconut cake is so fluffy. It’s so soft. And that’s really what I want with every single cake on earth: light, fluffy, softness. It tastes EXACTLY like coconut and that’s thanks to coconut extract.
You can get it at pretty much every grocery store. I had never even seen it before but then I realized I don’t really venture into the extract category very often; I stick with plain ol’ vanilla but that might have to change soon.
The cake is a larger crumb than, most coconut cakes are, I found. The frosting is a tart hibiscus frosting that feels right with a tropical coconut flavor.
The vibe of Friday is the best, isn’t it? It’s that feeling of almost being able to hang out and chill TFO.
I don’t have any crazy plans this weekend but it might consist of us taking a trip to the vet because Amelia is favoring/licking her left toe obsessively and she won’t let me look at it. Every time I get close she starts to show her teeth at me like a psycho. So, hopefully it doesn’t cost a million dollars/her toes are a-ok.
Moving onto cookies…
Remember when I did that nerdy post all about chocolate chip cookies? Well, that post was actually SO much fun to execute and write because I learned a whole lot about CC cookies. And I figured out how to get closer to the cookie I had in my dreams/brain.
I really love doing these types of baking experiments because I learn so much. I’m thinking of doing a post on the perfect white cake because while I’ve made a ton of cakes, I’m still searching, still learning what makes a white cake hella special. Let’s learn things together!
Also, before we begin, I’d like to give a special shout-out to my friend and helper, Billy. In case you don’t know, Billy helps me pretty much every week with helping create content for this space and he extra helped with these cookies because he loves nothing more than to talk nerdy about chocolate chip cookies.
Here’s the breakdown of the choices I made (AND WHY!) with these chocolate chip cookies.
I’ll also say that there is no perfect chocolate chip cookie because we’re all after different things. Some people like thin and chewy, some like crispy, some like super soft. Those recipes are good too.
This one is soft in the center that is slightly chewy and a teeny bit crunchy around the edges. They are not cake-y but are a little fluffy.
Ok, here is the breakdown:
Most cookie recipes begin with you creaming room temperature butter with sugar(s). But melting the butter vs. using room temperature butter will lead to a chewier cookie. I’m am very down with a chewy cookie so I went the melted butter route.
BAKING POWDER + BAKING SODA:
The baking powder in this recipe gives it a bit of a lift, while the baking soda helps these cookies spread. A lot of recipes you see that only have baking soda are on the thinner side. There is nothing wrong with this but I like a bit of both.
I added a bit more flour in this recipe to make it a little bit thicker cookie but not too much because I didn’t want it to be dry. I love the thickness of this cookie. It’s not too thin and not too thick/cake-y/dry. It my opinion, this has a super good ratio of butter to flour.
Two days after Josh and I got engaged, we started wedding planning. AND THEN, we got stressed out and overwhelmed with all of the details and quit. We decided, together, that we’d take a bit of a break and just enjoy being engaged before we started up again. I’m actually glad we took a bit of a breather because now we’re super close to booking a location and venue! YAY! I have to say, I’ve enjoyed just simply being engaged. It’s been a nice, lovely and happy place to just be.
So, now that I’m ready to jump back into planning, I partnered with Macy’s to talk all things wedding registry. We made a special curated registry highlighting some of my favorite items (check it out here!), plus five super quick videos that I’ll be posting across Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. I’ve broken everything down into a few categories:
1. Getting Ready for Guests: Believe it or not, I don’t really have nice spa-like towels or sheets. I don’t even have towels for other people besides Josh and me. So I took this opportunity to register for a few things that would make people’s stay with us more relaxing and comfortable.
2. Drank Time: We currently don’t really have room for a bar cart, but we’re moving soon (more on that later!) so I wanted to get a proper bar set and nice glasses — most of my glasses are mismatched and not cohesive. I also wanted a few stands for appetizers and entertaining.
A few days ago I was looking at my bank account activity, as you often do as an adult, and I saw a mysterious check written for the amount of $280. And then I opened the photo of the check and, umm….the handwriting wasn’t mine! WHAA! Yeah, it freaked me out. I called my bank and luckily they’re giving me my money back but it still has left me a bit on edge. Because, um, how did someone get a hold of one of my checks? I will admit that I’m sort of disorganized and messy person so I could’ve dropped it or left one in my car.
Anyway…after feeling a bit violated and annoyed, I did what you often do at times like that: I made some damn doughnuts.
It was the best cure. Tomorrow is National Doughnut Day and while I agree that the national food days get a lil’ annoying, this one is important.
National Doughnut Day was started in 1938 to honor “doughnut girls” who provided spiritual and emotional support for U.S. soldiers fighting in France during World War I. They found that giving soldiers, in dire conditions, doughnuts and coffee lifted their spirits!
Isn’t that cute?
I had my heart set on making some sort of s’mores doughnuts.
To make these doughnuts s’more-like, here is what we have going on:
1. Fluffy doughnut dough.
2. Graham cracker sugar that the doughnuts are rolled in. (It’s just graham crackers and sugar in a food processor.)
3. Chocolate cream filling.
4. Torched marshmallow topping.
A few Saturdays ago, I flew up to Maryland (from Florida when I was visiting my mama) to visit Holterholm Farms, an Organic Valley co-op farm. They wanted to show me around to meet their cows and see how their dairy is produced.
I have never had a friendship with a cow but from the few farms I’ve visited prior to this, I knew that cows have strong personalities, much like dogs. The cows on this particular farm are Jersey cows and they are so beautiful, with the longest eyelashes and funniest expressions. A few of them kinda reminded me of Amelia because she is equally as expressive and dramatic.
The eighty or so cows that live on this farm, roam and eat ONLY grass and are milked twice a day. They’re moved every single day to ensure that each day they’re eating new, freshly grown grass. I wanted to hang out with them for hours and hours; my city-slicker self could totally see farm life as the best life.
When I was on the farm and I tasted the milk and cream, I instantly knew I wanted to take advantage of their 100% grass-fed milk by putting it into a dough. I knew it would make any dough-like thing even better, even softer.
These funfetti cinnamon rolls are the softest! Have you ever had a crunchy, not soft cinnamon roll? They’re not great. And usually, I judge a cinnamon roll on how soft the center is. The edges can be crispy because sometimes they’re touching a baking dish and what-not but the center? It’s gotta be soft and gooey.
The one thing I love to do with cinnamon rolls is add orange juice to the mix; it cuts the richness just a bit and adds a nice freshness and tartness to the dough.
These cinnamon rolls are laced with naturally colored sprinkles and topped with a a delicious, tart, vanilla-spiked glaze that is BOMB.
If you want to make them “overnight” rolls, which I highly recommend, you can do the following:
1. Make the dough the night before, let them rise their 1 hour, and then stick them in the fridge.
2. Make the filling, cover the bowl and leave butter on the counter overnight so it’s soft the next morning.
3. Make the glaze and stick it in the fridge.
It’s almost summer, which means it’s beer ice cream float time!
Last weekend, I invited Billy and Steve over and we made some copycat Shake Shack burgers (recipe coming tomorrow!) and served them with beer ice cream floats using some delicious ice cream from Coolhaus.
The first time I had a beer ice cream float was a few years ago, and I’ll admit that before I tried it, I thought it might be a little gross. But, umm, it was the exact opposite.
Beer and ice cream go SO well together, especially when paired properly. And of course, if you have a little kid around or someone who doesn’t drink, you can substitute the beer with cream soda. Cream soda universally will go with all of these flavors of ice cream.
For this post, I teamed up with Coolhaus. I first had Coolhaus back in the day when food trucks were new and cool. I’d go to these food truck parties and I always finished my grazing with some ice cream or an ice cream sandwich from the Coolhaus truck.
Now you’re able to find Coolhaus in nearly every grocery store—it’s so amazing to have watched them grow from small ice cream truck to what they are now. Coolhaus is a woman-owned, LA born business, straight out of the recession—YAS!
I figured I’d do the very difficult job of paring a handful of their ice creams with different types of beers.
Here’s what I paired and loved:
1. Dirty Mint Chocolate Chip with a stout – I accidentally and unknowingly bought a coffee stout. It was surprisingly SO amazing with the Dirty Mint Chocolate Chip, which uses real spearmint and little delicious bits of chocolate.
2. Bananas Foster with a hefeweizen – The bananas foster might be my favorite flavor because I love bananas and the dulce de leche swirl is bomb. It pairs well with a hefeweizen because a lot of hefes have banana-like-tasting notes and the tartness works well with the sweetness of the dulce de leche.
3. Chocolate Molten Cake with a cream ale – At first I thought that the chocolate molten cake would go well with a stout and I tried it that way but it was a bit too rich for me. I liked it better with a cream ale that has some oat-y, malt-y notes that pair well, but isn’t too overpowering, with the rich chocolate molten cake flavor.
Fun work always includes cooking. And people. And music blaring. Fun work is equally as exhausting as lame work but way more satisfying and fulfilling.
I’m ok with my feet hurting if the work I’m doing is fun.
Lame work is the annoying, petty shit I have to do to keep my stuff together like taxes and emails and paperwork and organizational things. I love for things to be organized but I’m not the best at keeping them that way. I’m bad at the maintenance part. That is for another post but I’m hopefully going to put some systems into place so I don’t have my prop closet overflowing with stuff.
Over the weekend, I shot a little Memorial Day content for you all, coming at the end of this week! And I shot some bomb cinnamon rolls that at first did not want to participate in this thing called life but I finally got the filling right…thank you, cinnamon roll gods!
I know that Memorial Day is this weekend and we’re supposed to be about that bbq-life and we are! So please consider this the breakfast thing you should eat before ribs.
I LUUUV chocolate chip cookies. If there is one cookie that I can eat over and over and over, it’s hands down, the chocolate chip cookie.
I also believe that chocolate chip cookies are the perfect foray into baking. They are simple in their preparation. They don’t take a million years to make. And the bake time is only 8 to 10 minutes. There’s some very immediate satisfaction!
SO, I’m so excited to share this experiment where I bake chocolate chip cookies, substitute and change certain elements to the cookies themselves and then eat them ALL and give you my final thoughts.
As many of you know, I’m a self-taught baker and cook. I often joke and say I’m Google-taught. Seriously, most things I’ve learned about cooking is just from massive amounts of Googling. When I first started cooking and baking, I’d Google everything. And honestly, I still do.
For this post, I’m teaming up with Google Home. The great thing about Google Home is that I can verbally Google all the time (and more!)…without a computer, while my hands are messy and I’m in the middle of baking and cooking.
There were so many times when I’d have to clean my hands, wipe them dry and then Google measurements, fractional math (not my strong-stuit) but now I get to be just like, “HEY GOOGLE!”
It’s also perfect for random fun, very random facts that have nothing to do with anything and have no real importance like what Kris Humphries has been up to lately. (Google it though but let me warn you it’s not exciting.)
To start this whole lil’ experiment, I asked Google, “hey google, when were chocolate chips invented?!?!”
You may know this, you may not…but the answer is that chocolate chips were created with the invention of the chocolate chip cookie in 1937 by Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in the town of Whitman, Massachussets.
Think of this as the beginning of designing my favorite chocolate chip cookie (final recipe coming soon!).
And hopefully with these results, it might make you feel confident that you, too, can customize your own. This is how recipe writing starts! IT’S COOL!
Here are my results.
CONTROL COOKIE: Slightly crispy on its edges and soft in the center. A very quintessential chocolate chip cookie experience. This cookie begins with butter, white sugar and brown sugar all beaten together.
ALL WHITE SUGAR: These were crispy and lace-y. Definitely thinner and a lot more chewy. And noticeably blonder. Look at the raw cookie dough shot, that one was kinda fascinating to me.
MELTED BUTTER with WHITE SUGAR + BROWN SUGAR: A lot of good chocolate chip cookie recipes use melted butter. Why? Well, melted butter usually results in a chewier cookie. A lot of people favor the melted butter route. I personally love melted butter in chocolate chip cookies because I love the texture but the biggest attraction is that I don’t have to have softened butter around and can make cookies on a whim—woohoo!
CREAMED BUTTER WITH 1/4 CUP MORE FLOUR: More flour means a bit thicker cookie. I feel like it almost could’ve even benefited from more flour for a nice chunky cookie. I love all cookies and chubby cookies have a place in my heart, too. Chubby cookies could use some crunch like walnuts or pecans.
MELTED BUTTER WITH 1/4 CUP MORE FLOUR: Melted butter really results in a chewier texture. The flour results in a thicker cookie. I liked this combo a lot.
CREAMED BUTTER WITH HALF BAKING POWDER + HALF BAKING SODA: The control only has baking soda. Baking soda helps give cookies a nice color and a bit of a lift. Why would we put both in a cookie? Well, a lot of cookie recipes include both so that the cookies have more of a lift, while the soda really helps with that light brown color we love our cookies to have.
MELTED BUTTER WITH HALF BAKING POWDER + HALF BAKING SODA: I’m not gonna lie, this was maybe my favorite combo. I love what melted butter does to CC cookies and I love the combo of half baking powder and half baking soda. I think this is where I’m going to begin with my development and go from here.
My favorite brand of mint chocolate chip is Talenti. Duh. But when I was a kid? I wasn’t fancy, so it was Breyers. Or Dryers. I forget. Or maybe even the Publix brand? Have you ever had a Publix sandwich? Childhood right there.
I think my love of mint chocolate chip had to do with the fake green color that was so pretty…or maybe it was the shards of chocolate vs. chocolate chips. They were so crunchy and delicious!
This cake is born from that love.
I thought of using chopped up milk chocolate chips instead of cacao nibs but I’m so glad I went with my gut because the frosting is a sweet buttercream and the bitterness from the chocolate is so very welcomed.
The cake is delicious and moist and everything you want from a simple chocolate cake. It is a my one-bowl chocolate cake so it’s literally the easiest thing to make, cake-wise.
I love the mint chocolate chip profile SO much that I even started to make my morning smoothie flavored as such. Of course, it’s healthy so it has kale, peppermint extract, collagen/whey, cacao powder, cacao nibs and almond milk. IT IS MY FAVORITE THING IN THE WORLD. I was thinking of sharing the recipe at one point but I sort of just did so there you have it!
When I was doing some brain-storming a few weeks ago, I turned to Billy and said, “What if I made a big-ass biscuit and layered it with strawberries and sweet, softly whipped cream?!” He nodded YAS.
And here we are. You might be mentally preparing for Mother’s Day brunch. It’s actually one of my favorite times of the year because brunching is in high gear. And we’re not all sweating yet.
I made these gigantic ol’ biscuits in two 8-inch cake pans to “guide” the size of the biscuit but really you can do it on a baking sheet.
I love the debate of egg vs. no egg in biscuits. I nerded out on that Food52 article and was VERY flattered they used my biscuit recipe as an example.
I’ve been really itching to try a shortening + no egg biscuit. But for this one, it definitely needed an egg so that it had a better structure. Because it’s so big, it needs some help in that department.
ALSO, the trick to assembling this is to really let the biscuit cool completely so you can slice it and move it around.
A bread knife really helps with slicing this biscuit.