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Week Recap – S’mores & OC Fair

Happy Monday fellow humans!

The Orange County Fair is here and goin’ off. I have such awesome memories of the OC Fair for as long as I can remember. From being a big-eyed little girl oggling at the lights to being a teenager on the look out for cute boys to now being solely concerned with food… Priorities change what can I say?

For the past 4-5 years I have entered my desserts into the culinary arts competitions at the fair. This year I had decided that I didn’t want to go overboard with entering things that would be too difficult. I am 22 weeks pregnant and did’t need the stress of that, too much! After thinking it over, I chose so do two things that were in my wheelhouse and that I had made multiple times. I landed on my original banana bread recipe and pecan pie thumbprints. And the results… The banana bread and cookies both got 3rd place in their categories! Whoop whoop!!!

Here I am with my ribbon and them on display!

As for the last week and baking… I decided that the 4th of July theme really helped me stay on track in terms of choosing things I might not be inclined to make as well as giving myself a time crunch. So, this week I decided to go with a s’mores themed week because it is summer and s’mores is a quintessential summer flavor. I mixed and matched different recipes and made my own up so feel free to use the links to the different parts or read how I did it myself.

1st up was a s’more brownie. Brownies are my favorite dessert and I have been having fun playing with them by adding toppings and bringing them to the next level. So there were three components to this creation.

First, I made a graham cracker crust. 2 sleeves of graham crackers in a food processor (or in a baggie and smashed up), 1 cup of melted butter and 1/4 cup brown sugar mixed all together. I dumped that all into the baking sheet and smushed it down so it was firm.

Second, the brownies. You can make my version of basic brownies, here, or just use an easy boxed mix from the store! I just dropped the brownie batter on top of the graham cracker layer and baked for around 40 minutes but depending on what option you take make sure to read the directions!

Third, the mallows! After the brownies were cooked through I dumped about a half bag of mini marshmallows on top. Depending on the size of your pan you might want to go more or less, just cover the whole top, you want there to be mallow-y goodness. And I put it in the broiler for about 2 minutes. I recommend watching this part, it can turn from while mallows to burnt crisp in less than a blink of an eye. Take them out when you see the golden goodness pictured below. Enjoy!

2nd for the week were s’mores thumbprints. These were SUPER easy and really good!! I made these up on a whim so they could use some help but I got rave reviews from taste testers so Ill post how I did them now.

Step 1: Beat 1 cup softened unsalted butter on high.

Step 2: Add in 1/2 cup white sugar and continue beating.

Step 3: Add in 1 cup graham cracker crumbs and 1 1/4 cup flour, mix.

Step 4: Ball into 1-inch balls and smush down into little round circles with a little well in the middle. Freeze for 20 minutes & bake for 12-15 minutes.

Step 5: While the cookies are still warm you add either halved kisses or chocolate chips to each well.

Step 6: Add mini marshmallows or one regular marshmallow to the tops. Put them in the broiler for a few minutes until the tops begin to brown. This can go from brown to burnt real quick so make sure you are there watching the progress.

3rd for the week were s’more cupcakes! These also had three components to them…

First, the graham cracker crust bottom. One sleeve of graham crackers, 1/2 cup of melted butter and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. I spooned a little bit in each cupcake tin and Kyle smushed them down.

Second, the chocolate cake. I used a basic chocolate cake recipe by Liv for Cake. It was easy to make and I had all the ingredients on hand. The recipe is for a tiered cake but the amount should make around 24-28 cupcakes.

Third, the Fluff topping. Like I said I am currently 22 weeks pregnant so I am wary of making anything with eggs on the stovetop (like custard, cream or marshmallow). I opted for a pre-made jarred version of marshmallow Fluff. I grew up eating Fluff but it is mainly sold on the east coast and is pretty difficult to find here on the west coast in regular grocery stores. There is a Jet Puffed version, I have not tried it so I don’t know how it compares but I am biased towards my childhood choice. We got small jars of Fluff at World Market for $1.99 each but you can also check out Amazon for a bigger jar.

We added a dollop on top and Kyle got to use a blow torch to make them all burnt and caramelized. YUM! These were my favorite of the week. The cake was especially delicious and moist. All of the different textures worked so well together, crunchy, fluffy and sticky. I ate so much of this cake that my belly hurt but so worth it!

I had such a fun time trying new things in the kitchen and seeing what worked and what needs to change for next time. I would 10/10 recommend any of these bakes. If you have any questions please comment below!

Week Recap – 4-Day Weekends

There is something about a 3- or 4-day weekend that makes me giddy. For starters I have a strong belief that there should be at least 3-day weekend once a month… AT LEAST. I coached for a long time and I learned a lot about motivation and drive throughout my experience. There is an art to the give and take of pushing people to their absolute boundaries while also knowing when to ease up and allow there to be some mental recuperation. Since being a grown up I have realized how brutal the day-to-day grind can be and how precious our free time is. Someone throw us a bone and make once a month, three day weekends a thing!! Please! Who do I need to talk to in order for this to happen?

This past (4-day) weekend I got a bake a few things! I had a last-minute order for an Under the Sea 1st birthday party. They requested vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and for hers to be a little bit different than the others. I used Preppy Kitchen’s Vanilla Cake and Buttercream recipes.

I love Preppy Kitchen and I think his cakes are the best. I was upset because I used the recipe with the intention of filling 24 cupcake holders. When the first batch came out I knew I had to start over and double the recipe so I could get actual full cupcakes. Who likes having a cupcake where the cake only comes to half of the wrapper? It isn’t pleasing for the baker when frosting the cupcakes or for aesthetic purposes for the cupcake-eater. So, a word of advice: make a batch and a half if you want the cupcakes to actually have substance.

I simultaneously tackled a 4th of July cake for my family BBQ. I used the same Preppy Kitchen Vanilla Cake Recipe but added my own twist to make it more festive! I decided to use food coloring to add a bit of color to the inside! I divided the batter into three bowls and colored one red and the other blue. For each cake pan I dolloped about 1/4 cup of white and then right in the center of that dollop I added blue and then red; repeating until the batter was all used up! It made a fun design but next time I will probably make it even more crazy by putting the dollops all over.

On Saturday after taking some much needed rest I decide to make a Copycat Lemon Loaf Cake by Averie Cooks. I was given a fun lemon loaf pan by Nordicware (I was going to link to their website but I don’t think they make it anymore… It is considered a collectible on Ebay!) and had been waiting to give it a try… and look how awesome it came out! Next time I will try to bang out some bubbles but for the most part this bake was a beauty. The loaf itself was actually pretty good, a lot of lemon flavor, which came from lemon extract which is helpful but not my favorite to use… The lemon sugar drizzle was what made this loaf so bright and delicious. If you make this loaf you HAVE to make the drizzle.

I will be baking quite a bit more over the coming weeks. Some ideas include a s’more themed post where I try a few different s’mores recipes? Like s’mores egg rolls… s’mores brownies… We shall see where the summer vibes take me!

4th of July Treats

Summer is upon us and it is glorious! The sun is shining, people are out and about and one of the best holidays is right around the corner. 4TH OF JULY! Living in Huntington Beach we are able to see the largest parade west of the Mississippi right in our front yard, the beach is practically a sardine can and the fireworks off the coast are a perfect ending to a fun-filled day.

I decided to test out 4 recipes for the 4th. Below you will find some pictures and the links that will help you re-create these delicious treats. They are all great to bring to parties and easy enough to whip up on the Wednesday night before the holiday!

First up is a classic red velvet cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting. I used Preppy Kitchen’s Red Velvet Cake Recipe and it made 24 cupcakes perfectly. They had cute 4th of July cupcake liners at Albertsons so that was an easy way to make these look extra festive.

Thoughts: I love Preppy Kitchen’s cake recipes, but I am not a huge fan of red velvet. If you like red velvet then these will be delicious. They are a perfectly moist three-bite treat that are easy to make and display.

Price: I spent $2.50 on the liners and $3.50 on buttermilk. If you are starting from scratch and need to buy everything from the flour to the baking soda this will cost you quite a bit.

Second was a no-bake cheesecake with fresh strawberries and strawberry sauce. I got the recipe for the no-bake cheesecake from Sugar Spun Run and improvised for the topping.

Topping Recipe: I washed and cut the tops off of 2 pounds of strawberries. I set aside 16 strawberries for the whole ones seen on top. I chopped the remaining strawberries into smaller 1/4 inch pieces and threw them into a little pan on the stovetop. I also added 1/3 cup sugar and the juice of a whole lemon. Let that cook down for about 15 to 20 minutes, mashing the strawberry chunks as they get softer. After the 15-20 minutes of cooking I removed from the heat and put into a bowl and chilled it in the fridge for about an hour. DO NOT add the strawberries and jam until you are about to serve.

Thoughts: This was a REALLY easy recipe IF you have the basics, especially a hand-held or stationary mixer and a spring form pan. The crust was amazing, a little thicker and did not require a bake either. The cheese cake mixture was very easy to mix up: add cream cheese and whip, add sour cream and whip, add vanilla and lemon and whip. Then work on your whipped cream and combine. Let sit for 4 hours to up to a day!

Price: Pricier. I had to buy everything from the cream cheese to the graham crackers. I spent about $24.00 making this cheesecake. In the grand scheme of things isn’t too bad considering you would pay double or triple that at Cheese Cake Factory. But not something you just whip up on a whim.

Third, I made your classic Rice Krispie treats with a fun spin. While strolling through Target, just casually spending more money than I have, I stumbled across a special edition box of red, white and blue Rice Krispies. I bought a box and a bag of mini marshmallows and I was set!

Recipe: In a large sauce pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the whole bag of marshmallows (I bought a standard 16 oz bag) and stir until completely melted. Turn off your burner and add your Rice Krispies in. I usually eye ball it but to give you an idea I used about 6-7 cups. Immediately pour the mixture onto a flat surface covered in parchment paper. Use another slip of parchment paper to help push down into a flat 1-inch thick slab, I didn’t do mine perfectly rectangular because you are going to chop it up later. I put mine in the fridge so they would harden up and that made cutting them way easier. To cut I used a cookie cutter for the outline and used a knife to cut into the slab of Rice Krispie treat. If you don’t have a star cookie cutter you can just use a piece of paper cut into a star shape for a stencil. There were a lot of little scraps left over so you can either toss those or if they find a way into your mouth you won’t be upset. This made about 15 stars!

Thoughts: YUM! I could eat a bowl of Rice Krispie treats hot off the stove top with a spoon. So, these were obviously just as delicious as always. They took a bit more work to cut into stars but easy enough for how festive they come out.

Price: Cheap! Box of Rice Krispies was $4 and the bag of mini marshmallows was $1.99. I had butter at home which is your only other ingredient.

And finally, for the fourth treat I made a classic shortbread with strawberry jam in the center.

Recipe: Mix 1 cup of unsalted room temperature butter with 1/4 cup of granulated sugar until smooth. Add in 1 teaspoon of vanilla mix until combined. Then add in 2 and 1/4 cup flour and mix until the dough comes together. The dough will be very dense. Next, prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll dough into 1-inch balls. After they have been balled you need to push your finger down into the middle of the ball. It will flatten out a bit but you should get a little bowl which is where the jelly will go after you freeze. Place the balls in the freezer for about 30 mins to an hour, this will prevent spreading and allow the walls of that bowl to hold so there isn’t jam everywhere. Remove from the freezer and add little dollops of jam into the centers of each cookie. I wouldn’t be too overly cautious but if you do over fill then you will have spill over. When they are all filled you can bake in a 350 degree pre-heated over for 15 to 20 minutes or until the bottoms start to look a little bit golden (they won’t look too much different from when you started but don’t go overboard or they will be dry and crumbly). Cool for 30 minutes before trying to stack. This made 36 cookies!

Thoughts: Easy and SO scrumptious. Kyle and I each ate 4 last night, whoops. Took about an hour and a half with the freezing and cooling included. They are easy to travel with and are low-maintenance, meaning they don’t need to be refrigerated or stored in a cool place. Make them!

Price: Cheap! All I had to buy was the jelly, which cost me $2.99.

Mommy to Bee

Very excited to post this blog about last weekend and baking for a dear friends’ baby shower. I had to call in reinforcements for this… There were to be 35 guests and I knew I was going to need all the hands I could get my hands… on? My dad, mom, sister and husband were all a part of making this order come to life. From washing dishes in our tiny apartment to dipping cake pops to frosting brownies, they were all amazing!

She had a bee themed baby shower which was really cute considering it is spring and it was a beautifully warm blue-skied day. There were veggie platters, olives (yum) and sandwiches for food. And we took care of the desserts. Take a look below at the treats we did for Marilyn on her special day!


The main attraction was the rustic open layered cake pictured above. Three layers of vanilla cake sandwiched with a fluffy yellow tinted vanilla buttercream. I have used this cake recipe before but have never honestly been able to eat it myself because it is always for orders. But I finally got to try it and it was SO yummy. If you have ever had a sprinkle cupcake it is very similar in the fact that it is a little bit denser and WAY moist. Two thumbs up from me and I even had someone ask me for the recipe!

The second task was making something chocolate for the momma-to-be, she has been a chocolate fiend the past month, so she requested brownies. Brownies are my ALL-time favorite dessert so I willingly obliged. I went in search of a recipe that had good reviews and would make a fudgy, rich, moist brownie. I came upon Ina Garten’s on Food Network and decided to go for it, it had over 700 reviews with 4.6 stars. The recipe makes a literal sheet pan full of brownies. If you are looking to feed a crowd this is a good one, if you are just trying to have a casual Friday night dessert, this will need to be halved or even quartered! After I chose her recipe I accidentally, or maybe not, stumbled upon a video of The Pioneer Woman making salted caramel frosted brownies and I knew that I needed to add that frosting… So I used her salted caramel frosting recipe to add just a little something extra delicious to these already rich treats. The end result was a decadent salty but sweet treat that will live on in my dreams for days, weeks, months…

Funfetti cake pops. Who has tried to make cake pops? That s*** is not easy. The cake part is straight forward with the addition of frosting… making the balls is fine and dandy… and then comes the dreaded candy coating. Number one… the balls need to be frozen in order for them to hold their shape and not just fall off the stick. Number two… the consistency of the candy coating is WAY too finicky, not hot enough it is thick and too hot is too thick. So just be a scientist and equate the exact temperate for dipping chocolate for all us peasants out here trying to make a damn cake pop. Besides flooded cookies these are my arch-nemesis, why are they so difficult to master? And why oh why do SO many people love cake pops? Just mush up a piece of cake and voila you have a deconstructed cake pop. Rant is over and done.

The decorations were perfect, the food was delicious, and the occasion was very special. Marilyn is an amazing woman and anyone who has the pleasure of knowing her knows how big her heart is, I am lucky to have her as a friend. Congrats to Aerek and Marilyn on the new addition to your family, we cannot wait to meet the little dude and give him all the loves!

Love ya,

Taz

Week Recap – So. Many. Bakes!

Gooood Morning!

(This post is from back in March… whoops) The past week and a half have been SUPER busy with baking and visiting family. I pushed myself pretty hard this week, in terms of doing different things that I have not tried before.

girl or boy?

I was honored to make a gender reveal cake for a friend. They wanted it to be vanilla, so I spruced it up with some sprinkles for 2 layers of funfetti and made the middle layer the color of the gender. This was a really fun experience! They sent me video of their family watching them cut the cake and then the celebration after the reveal. I loved this!

And then I made a magical treat called a Dacquoise. I had never heard of it before but decided to take a crack at it since the theme of this year has been pushing my boundaries! My family said this was the best thing that I had ever made, if that gives you any context… It was amazing.

It is layered hazelnut meringue with espresso buttercream and dark chocolate ganache. Compared to the recipe picture mine is a little sloppy but I just went for it, I am sure if I tried again and spent the allotted time on it (8+ hours…), it would have been just as clean cut as theirs. And by theirs I mean America’s Test Kitchen, as always, using their easy to follow recipes and videos makes these complex bakes less intimidating.

Chocolate Espresso Dacquoise

And lastly were some blueberry lemon muffins! I thought these would be a walk in the park… But they gave me a run for my money. The first recipe I tried was off Sally’s Baking Addiction, it was a base muffin batter and you could add things as you pleased. For the lemon blueberry option, it had me add the juice of 1 whole lemon while the other options just said add chocolate chips or craisins. The additional liquid made me nervous, but I just went with it… And they came out flat and disappointing. I tried one and it was just okay and definitely not presentable at all.

So I landed on America’s Test Kitchen again… I swear I will branch out next week! These were primarily blueberry muffins but had a lemon sugar crunch on top which was divine. Again, my family enjoyed these!

I am not a huge fan of baking cups, so I just greased the muffin tin and they came right out!

I will be starting to bake again tomorrow for a baby shower that is on Sunday. I have a lot of work ahead of me, so I have reinforcements coming in, Ma and Tatum to the rescue! I will post another blog next week about my bakes and all the fun that was had.

Have a splendid weekend my friends!

Love, Tasman

Sprinkles, Lemon Bliss & Boston Cream

Goooood morning fellow earthlings!

When we got home from Vancouver last week I was SO excited to be back in the kitchen baking. Isn’t it funny that before your vacation you literally count down the days until you get to leave but when you are gone you are thinking about how cozy your own bed is… how much you love your little space. Kyle and I had a lot of fun but when we got home it was like how do we ever leave this couch again? Not literally, but we love our little apartment and our routine.

I finished two books in the last month! And only had to renew them once! Take that library.

The first was The Dressmaker’s War by Mary Chamberlain. I could not put this book down! A LOT happened in this book, every time I told Kyle what was going on he was like, “oh s**t!” I really enjoyed this read and would recommend it to anyone who likes period pieces.

The second was She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. Another one that I could NOT stop reading. But really… I stayed up until 2:00 AM one night reading… on a weeknight! (gasp!) A coming of age story about an overweight girl who finds herself through pain and love. I found myself rooting for her but also extremely frustrated with her, oh Dolores. Read it!

As for baking… I went a little crazy when we got back because I had withdrawals. First, I made some sprinkle cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction. They were listed as Christmas cookies, but I just used rainbow sprinkles instead! I loved the fun, colorful look of these cookies and the basic buttery flavor.

Second bake was a lemon bundt cake, yum. I really love bundt cakes for a few reasons. 1) I am not a fan of regular cake with a bunch of frosting and dry crumby texture. Bundt cakes tend to be heavier and moister in my opinion. 2) Bundt pans make an ordinary cake look regal, I mean look at that! This recipe is from king Arthur Flour and was a piece of cake, get it?

And the third bake of the week was a glorious Boston Creme Pie! My mom’s birthday inspired this one, she was born in the Boston area and we have family there still. So I thought it would be fitting to make her a classic ode to her “blood”, as she calls it. This recipe was another one from my favorite people over at America’s Test Kitchen. There were a few different components to this cake that made me nervous. The first being the pastry cream… I have never made cream on the stovetop, so this was out of my wheelhouse for sure. The instructions were really precise, and the video helped me make sure the consistency looked similar, instilled some confidence. The second… hot milk cakes, which use a lot of milk and the batter was different than anything I have tried before. But I just put faith in following the directions and it all came out perfectly!

Stay tuned for my next recipe, peanut butter delights!

Have a good weekend relaxing and enjoying your time, Tasman

Week Recap – Vancouver!

Hi Peeps!!!

Kyle and I took a mini honeymoon to Vancouver at the beginning of last week and it was… AWESOME! We are planning a bigger trip to England/Scotland/Ireland for our one-year anniversary but we wanted to take a smaller get-away to qualm my travel bug in the meantime. We are huge Anaheim Ducks fans so we decided to go when they were playing the Vancouver Canucks so we could experience a different arena. But that meant going when it is freezing cold. And I know it really wasn’t THAT cold but for me it was COLD.

Here are some pictures of our trip and a few blurbs about what we did over our five day trip! Also, food… Because they really know how to do food.

Day 1: flying, ramen and Airbnb.

This was a Yelp find… with over 2,000 reviews and 4.5 stars on google. And yes, it was that good! The place is called Marutama Ra-men. There are three location in and around the city as well as internationally in Japan, Australia, Singapore and Indonesia. This place was exactly what we needed after our flight and our first encounter with the cold. Yum!!

Let’s give it a try… YUMMM

Our Airbnb had a drawn map of the city and our host used a laser pointer to show us sights!

Day 2: Lynn Canyon and Granville Island.

Hooray for the bridge holding up!

Lynn Canyon was probably our favorite part of the trip. The park was beautiful! It was the free suspension bridge option in the Vancouver area. There were tons of different hikes, signs and maps posted frequently and lots of trees.

Mmmm beer… Mmm my man….

Day 3: eggs benny and the Seawall.

Kyle loves finding glass, so we walked on the beach and found a lot of fun pieces.

Day 4: Sea to Sky Highway, Squamish and a hockey game!

Ducks v. Canucks! We didn’t even score…. Sad day!

Day 5: bakery and flying.

THE most amazing bakery I have ever been to, Purebread. If this was within an hour of my house I would a) want to work there and b) eat there every day, that is how good it was. And how do you choose?!?! We ended up going here twice because we couldn’t get enough.

That’s the city rising in the distance! Such a clear awesome day!

I have never flown Westjet and will never fly Westjet again. We got to the airport and checked in, easy. When we looked at our seated we realized we would be across the aisle from each other which isn’t ideal but if the flight was booked solid we wouldn’t fuss about it. So we went to the kiosk to change our seats so we could sit next to each other and it cost us each $30 to change our seats!! Rip off. Once we got on to the flight we quickly learned that the flight was nearly empty, legitimately multiple fully open rows. Why would they put us in seats across the aisle from each other? A ploy to get us to change them and charge us……. hmmmm not into it.

All in all, we had an amazing trip! The food was divine. The outdoors was beautiful beyond expectation. The people were friendly. We will be back for you Canada but next time for some national parks like Banff and Jasper!