Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hey, Blondie!

My quick go-to recipe for a sweet treat is always brownies. Always. You can't beat a warm brownie right out of the oven. Maybe with a little vanilla ice cream? But for the same amount of ingredients (if you don't count the nuts and chips), you can make blondies, essentially a quicker version of chocolate chip cookies but with a richer butterscotch flavor. Try it. I bake a lot and was recently told that it was the best thing I ever made. I'm not so sure about that, but I'll take it!

Blondies with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts
Adapted from Martha Stewart

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Brush an 8-inch square baking pan with butter.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the butter and sugars until smooth. Whisk in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour and salt. Mix just until moistened (do not overmix). Fold in 1/2 cup each chocolate chips and walnuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth the top. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and walnuts.

3. Bake until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Set pan on a wire rack, and let cool completely. Using parchment overhang, lift cake from pan and transfer to a cutting board; cut into 16 squares. Store in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Story

It's Christmas Eve ya'll! Time to get ready for 24 hours of A Christmas Story! TBS gives us all a gift that we don't have to wait until Christmas morning to open, starting at 8:00 pm tonight. And BTW, did you know that you can even visit Ralphie's house?!? You're welcome. Since I won't be in Cleveland to experience it in person, I will be hunkered down in front of my TV laughing at Ralphie dressed as a deranged Easter Bunny, scarfing down the last of my holiday cookies (not soap!).

If you need a last minute cookie recipe, try these oatmeal lace cookies, one of my mom's faves. They're great because you don't need that many ingredients and you can whip them up in, like, 15 minutes (including baking time). You'll end up with an impressive crisp, delicious cookie that may also be quite fragile. FRA-GEE-LAY. Must be Italian.

Oatmeal Lace Cookies

1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl. Stir to combine.

2. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper (or a silicone baking mat). Drop the batter, one scant teaspoon at a time, leaving 3 inches between cookies. Bake for 5 - 7 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely before removing from sheets. Makes 24 cookies.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Very Cranberry

Thanksgiving is only one day away so I am making my list and checking it twice...for baking ingredients not Black Friday sales, people! Since not everyone likes cranberry sauce (or they want the one from the can) I need to figure out what to do with my leftovers. Cranberry margaritas, duh! This recipe is from The Red Cat, one of my fave restaurants in NYC. Check out their delish zucchini recipe here

For this fabulous margarita, just make a cranberry sauce as you normally would for Thanksgiving dinner, but then instead of smearing it all over a turkey sandwich, add it to a cocktail shaker and watch your margarita turn a lovely shade of pink. Festive and delicious. Bottoms up!

Cranberry Margarita

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder, if desired
1 lime, cut into wedges
4 ounces Triple Sec or Cointreau
6 ounces Tequila

1. Make the jam: Bring the cranberries, sugar, orange juice, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and jammy, 30–40 minutes. Mix in the orange zest; let cool. DO AHEAD: Jam can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill.

2. Make the drinks: Mix the salt, sugar, and five-spice powder (if using) on a small plate. Rub the rims of Old Fashioned glasses with a lime wedge; dip in the salt mixture and fill the glasses with ice.

3. For each cocktail, combine 1 ounce lime juice, 1 ounce Triple Sec, 1½ ounces tequila, and 2 tablespoons cranberry jam in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice. Cover and shake until the outside is frosty, about 30 seconds. Strain into the prepared glasses.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Apple Expectations

How is November halfway over?? It's going to be Christmas in one second so...time to start baking!

I've been flipping through magazines trying to get some new ideas for Thanksgiving desserts. I've made all sorts of pies in the past, but the truth is that I have to produce an apple crisp or I will be asked to leave dinner! For realz. (These peeps expect a crisp or a crumble at each and every dinner that I attend. Holiday or not.) I was just thinking that maybe I could jazz it up somehow? Like with cranberries? I like the tartness that they add, but not sure if my dinner crowd will approve. I think that they may be apple crisp purists. Or just happy to get whatever I make? I'll go with that. I made a mini version today, essentially a half batch, and I was totes happy. (Just wish I had some ice cream or whipped cream.) We'll what I can get away with!

Apple-Cranberry Crisp

1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries
2 1/2 pounds Fuji or Rome or Granny Smith apples (or a mix - about 6 medium), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Vanilla ice cream

1. For the topping: Combine brown sugar, oats, flour, and salt in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add the butter and rub in with fingertips until the mixture comes together in clumps. Cover and chill while preparing the filling. (The topping can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.)

2. For the filling: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Generously butter a 13x9x2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Combine the cranberries, apples, sugar, flour and cinnamon in a large bowl. Transfer the filling to the prepared dish. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit mixture.

3. Bake the crisp until the filling bubbles and the topping is crisp and deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve with ice cream, if desired. Makes 8 - 10 servings. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013


When I go to Otto and I'm not in the pizza mood, I'll order a bunch of antipasti. My faves are the caponata, cauliflower, and lentils. Somehow I managed to make them look and taste quite similar to the restaurant home! Truth be told, I made these all weeks ago, but the Breaking Bad finale clearly threw me off my blogging game. Or that's the convenient excuse I'm going with.

Caponata is a Sicilian cooked eggplant salad with a distinct sweet and sour flavor profile called agrodolce. Typically the agro (sour) part comes from vinegar and the dolce (sweet) part from sugar. There are also several variations that may or may not include celery, capers, olives, pine nuts, raisins, or currants. I like a variety of textures so threw in most of the options except for the raisins. Because they are gross. I used Mario Batali's recipe as a base and was surprised to find a touch of cocoa powder. The balsamic vinegar also adds a bit more richness than a red wine vinegar, which is often called for in recipes. I was super happy with the way mine turned out. 

The cauliflower here is simply roasted with some distinctive flavors added in at the end. Mario torches his under the broiler, 4-inches from the flame, but I have a crappy rental apartment oven so...yeah. Roasting seemed like a better idea. This a great way to try cauliflower especially if you are not a fan, possibly because you grew up on plain frozen florets or plain raw florets dunked into ranch dressing on a veggie tray. Not that I know anything about that.

Eggplant Caponata

1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1⁄2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, or to taste 
2 medium eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1 1⁄4 pounds each)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (14-1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped green olives
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, pine nuts, and red pepper flakes, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat until the onion is translucent. 

2. Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder, and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring often. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, olives, and capers and bring to a boil. 

3. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to simmer for 5 minutes more, or until the mixture has thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool and serve at room temperature. It's best made one day ahead to let the flavors develop. Will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Serves 8.

Cauliflower with Olives and Capers

1 medium head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed, cored, and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Maldon or other flaky sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
½ cup pitted Kalamata olives (or other favorite olive)
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1½ teaspoons hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
3 tablespoons lemon agrumato oil, or 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest

1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil in a large bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a large baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, for 30 - 40 minutes, or until lightly charred in spots and just tender.

2. Return the cauliflower to the bowl, add the olives, capers, red pepper flakes, if using, and lemon oil, and toss to mix well. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve, or let stand at room temperature for up to 1 hour to bring out the flavors. Serves 6.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Just Serve Wine

The great thing about having a dinner party is that you can try out new recipes on your friends. The bad thing about having a dinner party is trying out new recipes on your friends. Sometimes things don't quite go according to plan, so it can be kind of a risk. Unless you ply them with loads of wine. My friend, Chad, hosted a dinner party this weekend and I offered to make a dessert. (It sounded like wine was covered.) And I wanted an excuse to bake!

I actually thought that I had blogged about a flourless chocolate cake previously, but according to my own hi-tech blog search, I hadn't. Unless I forgot to label that particular post, which is not outside the realm of possibility. (Sometimes I blog under the influence. It happens.) 

Since this is an awesomely abbreviated four-ingredient recipe (i.e uncomplicated) and because I knew that we were having pasta for dinner, it seemed like this gluten-free solution (but not calorie free let's not forget!) was the way to go. Overall I would say that it was successful, though I wish that I had made and served a whipped cream alongside it, as I discovered after the first taste that my cake was slightly on the dry side. Slightly. I think I left it in the oven for, like, 8 minutes too long. Being the spazz that I am and since I had the tools, I made another cake the following day just to check. A few less minutes in the oven resulted in a much smoother result. Yay!! And also, Sorry dinner-party-friends!! I didn't know!! So, I guess the moral of the story is, if you want to impress, do a trial run, if you don't have the time, serve wine!

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 300˚F with the rack in the center. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with buttered parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate, stirring until smooth, in a large bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until completely melted. Let cool slightly. Whisk in the egg yolks.

3. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until glossy stiff peaks form. Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture then, gently, fold in the remaining egg whites in 2 additions.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and is set in the center, 40 to 50 minutes. (My cake actually didn't pull away from the sides until it was cooling, hence my slightly overcooked trail run. So don't wait for that to happen.) Cool completely on a wire rack; remove the sides of the pan. Serve at room temperature, dusted with confectioners' sugar. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Late Summer Saturday

Whoa. It's September. And a college football/US Open men's semi-finals kind of Saturday no less. Quite the day of athleticism. I took my urban rebounding (mini-trampoline to those unfamiliar) class this morning so am feeling entitled to one final glass (or two) of rosé for the season. I'm more of a tennis drinker than football drinker. Champagne and French fries? Sure! Beer and nachos? The nachos sound good...

The end of summer brings one last chance to hoard all the tomatoes and corn that you can. But they won't last very long and I'm not about to start canning. Forgoing my 85th variation on a green salad, I'm breaking out the wheat berries. It's getting crazy up in herre! Wheat berries are the whole grain form of wheat and are a little nutty, a little chewy and are a little more interesting than quinoa (to me), though the wheat berries could be replaced with quinoa or farro or couscous if you preferred. There's no real recipe here, as I kind of eyeballed the whole thing, but I'll give you a general estimate and you can go from there. Now, where are my nachos? I've got some football (and Rafa) to watch!

End of Summer Wheat Berry Salad

Wheat Berries: Simmered for an hour, or until soft, strained and cooled
Heirloom Tomatoes: Chopped
Sweet Corn: Cooked briefly in boiling water, cooled & cut from the cob
Scallions: Chopped, to taste
Feta: Crumbled, to taste
Toasted Walnuts: Chopped, to taste
Cilantro or Parsley: Chopped, to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (3 parts)
Lemon Juice (1 - 2 parts)
Dijon Mustard (1/2 part)
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper: To taste

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Breaking Back!

Calling all chem nerds and meth heads, can you believe Breaking Bad is finally back tonight?? And...I actually have a blog post? Yeah, yeah, yeah... it's been a month. But I haven't been cooking at all and have only baked (desserts!) a few times at my friend's house out at the beach. Truth be told, I'm still not cooking. And I'm definitely not cooking meth like Jesse and Walt (or Mr. White as Jesse stills calls him). BTW Did anyone happen to catch this interview with chemistry prof, Dr. Donna Nelson?  It's awesome. She has been volunteering as the show's science advisor since season two, after she had read an interview that show creator Vince Gilligan gave to Chemical & Engineering News and reached out to him directly to offer some assistance. Badass.

I haven't taken chemistry since high school (when I felt like the science advisor to many of my classmates) but I think it's not a total stretch to say that there is some chemistry involved in cooking and baking. Baking especially. OK whatever. I think these fudgsicles are the perfect summer meal (I'm serious) when it's 90 plus degrees and 80% humidity. Or if you are Walter White and live in the southwest year round. Gah! I can't wait for tonight's ep! I might have to spend the next 7 hours watching AMC's BB marathon and eating fudgsicles in preparation.

Sicilian Chocolate Gelato Fudgsicles
Adapted from Bittersweet

3 cups whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup premium unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of the milk to a simmer over medium heat.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1 cup milk with the sugar, cocoa and cornstarch in a small bowl. Scrape the cocoa mixture into the hot milk. Cook. stirring constantly until the mixture thickens abd bubbles a little at the edges. Then boil gently, stirring for 2 minutes longer. Scrape into a large bowl and let cool completely.

3. Pour into ice pop molds and freeze until firm. Makes 8 - 10 fudgsicles.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Poppin' Bottles

It just so happens that I made a decidedly French dessert before I realized that it was Bastille Day today. Oo la la! I'm so tuned in. Pop some bottles for the French!

Bastille Day aka French National Day aka La Fête Nationale commemorates the storming of the Bastille (prison/fortress), which took place on July 14, 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution, the end of absolute monarchy and the birth of the sovereign Nation. It became an official public holiday in 1880.

Clafoutis is a baked French dessert from the Limousin region, traditionally made with black cherries, arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a thick flan-like batter. It is then dusted with powdered sugar and served lukewarm. If you can make pancake batter, you can make this. Trust. I used raspberries because it's what I had, but really any seasonal and semi-soft fruit would work. Happy Bastille Day and enjoy this list of French-ified moments in pop culture!

Raspberry Clafoutis
Adapted from Food &Wine

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 pints raspberries (3 cups)
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch gratin dish. In a bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk in the eggs, butter and lemon zest until smooth. Add the milk and whisk until light and very smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into the gratin dish and top with the raspberries.

2. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the clafoutis is set and golden. (It will puff up around the edges.)  Let cool slightly. Dust with confectioners' sugar, cut into wedges and serve. Serves 6.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Key (Lime) Party

After my red chile powder consumption in New Mexico (no, not by the tablespoon like stupid kids force feeding themselves cinnamon - but it does kind of sound like a new, old disease...) all I really want is a nice cold margarita. Or key lime pie. Totes, right? For some reason I had been thinking about making a key lime pie for WEEKS. I finally gave in and went out to buy the necessary ingredients. Where did all of the key limes go?!? There are usually a ton o' bags hanging around the produce section of Whole Foods, but unless my eyes were failing me, they didn't have any. Jerks. Fortunately for me Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice was in stock. It's just as well because squeezing enough juice out of a bunch of tiny key limes can get old real fast. Key limes (aka Mexican limes) the namesake of the Florida Keys, are the smaller, yellower, seedier cousin of the common Persian lime and make for a tangier pie filling, though I didn't conduct a proper experiment. I'm just making assumptions. But that gives me an idea...

Key Lime Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cups graham-cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
5 tablespoons sugar
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup freshly squeezed key-lime juice
1 tablespoon grated Key lime zest, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

1. Heat the oven to 375˚F. Combine the graham-cracker crumbs, butter, and 3 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl. Mix well. Press into a 9-inch pie plate, and bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.

2. Lower the oven to 325˚F. In a medium bowl, gently whisk together the condensed milk, egg yolks, Key lime juice, and zest. Pour into the prepared, cooled crust.

3. Return the pie to the oven, and bake until the center is set but still quivers when the pan is nudged, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

4. Shortly before serving, combine the cream with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon over cooled pie and garnish with zest. Serve immediately.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Red Hot

Frijoles Canyon

You may have thought that I was (finally) finished posting about my New Mexico trip, but you'd be wrong! I will spare you the ton o' photos that I have and every last detail, but suffice it to say my final destination was Bandelier National Monument, 33,000 acres of canyon and mesa country that contains evidence of human presence (i.e. pueblo structures/kivas and petroglyphs) that dates back over 11,000 years. So, yeah. I'm still posting! 

Bandelier National Monument

Me in a Kiva

Before my departure, I stocked up on some local red chile powder so that I could try my hand at making the red chile sauce so prevalent in Santa Fe. There is some discussion about what is traditional (chile powder ONLY) and what isn't (the addition of cumin and oregano for instance). I say, just make it the way you like it. The red chile sauce police are probably out drinking margaritas, so do what you want!

Tina's New Mexico Red Chile Sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)
1/4 teaspoon oregano (optional)
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup pure red chili powder
3 cups low sodium broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)
1 teaspoon salt

1. Add the oil to a saucepan and cook the garlic for 1 minute over low heat. Add the cumin, oregano and flour and cook until the mixture bubbles and the flour begins to brown, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes.

2. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whisk the chile powder and the broth until smooth. Add to the flour mixture along with the salt. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a low simmer, whisking frequently, and cook gently for 15 - 20 minutes, until the mixture has thickened slightly. (Chile can burn easily and impart a bitter flavor so cook slowly, stirring frequently.) The sauce will keep for one week refrigerated and can also be frozen. Use to make enchiladas or to drizzle over anything that needs an extra kick. Makes 3 cups of sauce.

Monday, June 3, 2013


With the crap weather that we (in the northeast) experienced over Memorial Day weekend, my activities were limitedshopping, movie watching, baking, cocktail making... And because my assistant bakers have grown tired of making regular old cookies (BOOORRRRING!), we invested our time and energy into a multi-layer cake recipe (after a lengthy process of elimination) that even called for cake flour, a very fine, low-protein flour that yields a more tender cake crumb. (Ignore the larger holes pictured–that is more likely the result of snacking than actual cake texture.) (Also please ignore my photo quality. Forgot my real camera yet again!) Personally I questioned the potential success of a frosting made entirely of chocolate and sour cream, but I kept those doubts to myself. I totally expected it to break and to be generally disgusting, but when you think about it, it's not unlike making a ganache. And the addition of the white chocolate chips was our improvisational approach to cake decorating. The results? Perfection. Nearly. The assistant bakers' mom has requested it as her annual birthday cake and another weekend guest immediately asked for the recipe. Success!

Golden Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Adapted from Gourmet

3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sour cream

1 1/4 pounds fine-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
10 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. For the cakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter 2 (9- x 2-inch) round cake pans and line the bottoms of each with rounds of wax or parchment paper. Butter paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out excess. (Also works eliminating parchment, and buttering pans directly and dusting with flour.)

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. Beat together the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Add half of the flour mixture and mix at low speed until just blended. Add the sour cream, mixing until just combined, then add the remaining flour mixture, mixing at low speed until the batter is smooth.

4. Divide the batter between the pans, smoothing tops. Bake in the middle of the oven until the cake is springy to the touch and a tester comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes, then invert onto racks, remove paper, and cool completely.

5. For the frosting: Melt the chocolates in a double boiler or a large metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from heat, then whisk in the sour cream and vanilla. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally (frosting will become thick enough to spread). You must work quickly and spread the frosting before it becomes too thick. (If icing does become stiff, reheat over simmering water, then cool and try again.)

6. Trim the tops of cooled cake layers with a long serrated knife if necessary to make flat and level. Halve each layer horizontally with a serrated knife to make a total of 4 layers.

7. Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Layer remaining cake layers using 3/4 cup frosting between each layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting.

This batter can be baked in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan 50 to 55 minutes; or in 30 (1/2-cup) muffin cups about 25 minutes.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Breaking Bad Part 2

So back to my own personal Breaking Bad episode minus the meth...Over my recent long weekend in New Mexico, I spent a morning horseback riding in Cerrillos, NM, a location found along the historic Turquoise Trail, at the Broken Saddle Riding Company run by cowboy Harold. (Is that a run-on sentence?) My ride for the day was Watson, a Tennessee Walker with a proclivity to snack along the trail, which apparently is against NM laws because the ground cover is so fragile. (Overgrazed dryland pasture may never recover.) During the fabulous 2.5 hour ride I got to know when Watson was trying to fake me out when he was like, "Hey, quick, look over there! I'm just going to have a taste while you're not looking." I don't think so, my friend! Harold sized the riders up right away (and is very diligent about pairing one's weight and abilities with the appropriate horse and is not afraid to ask you to step on the scale...or so he said). He paired our abilities appropriately so that we were not left to languish on a very long horse saunter, and were able to vary our walking speeds, along with racking and cantering. It was super fun and a terrific way to see the back country without fear of stepping on a rattlesnake. I felt compelled to ask about the local rattlers but was told that it was too early for them to come out, but wouldn't you say that to your city girl client, too?

Broken Saddle Office

Watson, my ride

Broken Saddle's unbroken saddle
Me and Watson just chillin'
Broken Saddle Tchotchkes

Cowboy Harold
Broken Saddle Rocker
Broken Saddle Hitching Posts
Christmas at Atrisco