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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

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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!

Chocolate Bundt and Valentine’s!

Gooooood day everyone!

This week my Instagram has been flooded with heart cookies, pink colored frosting and a bunch of lovey-dovey stuff. Kyle and I are not too into Valentine’s day, so I tried my best to crank out at least one bake that was Valentine’s “themed”.

I decided to make a chocolate sour cream bundt cake from America’s Test Kitchen! The chocolate cake is a representation of the depth of our love, tangy raspberries for the brightness his presence brings me…. Just kidding! But for real, the whipped cream represents the literal fluff we have accumulated in our mid-sections since I started baking more often.

We really enjoyed the sharpness that the raspberries brought to this dessert, it combined perfectly with the rich chocolate flavor of the cake. In looking towards the future and trying out new things… I am thinking that a caramel buttercream or just straight up caramel drizzle (or drenching) would be another great way to serve this cake.

Question, have you ever made fresh whipped cream? Well, let me tell you that it is a game-changer. My family has always made fresh whipped cream for the really special desserts we eat around the holidays because it makes a BIG difference. We would always have a can of the quick stuff on hand for sundaes and what-not, but we would always go the extra mile for those special occasions.

To make your own whipped cream you will need heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla and a hand-held mixer or stand mixer (or really fast stirring skills?). It is not an exact science in our household because how wrong can you go with heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla? The answer is not wrong at all.

  1. Dump 1 pint of heavy whipping cream into a bowl or the bowl of the stand mixer.
  2. Sprinkle 1/4 cup white sugar in there.
  3. Add 1 tsp or a dash of vanilla.
  4. Whisk on high for around 2 minutes and voilá!

You will know it is done when the consistency changes from a liquid to clouds of puffy white goodness that you can dredge up with your finger… Which I don’t do…

If you have any desire to learn cooking or baking I highly recommend taking a look at America’s Test Kitchen. They have quick 20-minute videos that include a recipe or two, a gadget review and a blind taste test. I have rolled through ALOT of these videos while eating breakfast and have learned a ton, from the science of food to kitchen hacks. The website requires you to have a subscription, but you can easily watch over 200 clips on YouTube!

Stay tuned for my version of Banana Bread coming this weekend!

Week Recap – Rain!

Oh Hiiiiii!

This week has been rainy, and we never get rain here in Southern California, so we celebrate. We celebrate by bundling up, sippin’ on a hot beverage and pretending it is winter.

Finally finished a book this week… Anyone ever read a book for like 3 months, when you realistically could finish it in a few days? Well that was me. I rent from the library. #1: Because I don’t understand buying books and then just having them on the shelf in your house. #2: I am broke and can’t afford to buy $15 books every few weeks. Well this week the library really got me all riled up….. So I get it, I took way too long to read this book. I renewed it twice and still hadn’t finished it. After the second due date I started receiving calls multiple times a day from the library like someone was THERE at the library waiting for me to come and return this book?!?! Well it kind of worked and I felt pressured to finish the book, thank the heavens. I finished reading “The Good Daughter” by Karin Slaughter. It was a psychological thriller that was supposed to keep me interested from the first page… Needless to say it took me about 2 months and I would give it a 3/5, just meh. And I still don’t know who the good daughter is…

Baking!

I have an order for some decorated sugar cookies for a baby shower. I started following a lot of sugar cookie decorators on Instagram to get ideas and tips but now I have all of these expectations of myself and am hyper critical of anything I do… Which has proven to be quite aggravating. I made sugar cookies, which I know how to do and am confident with the taste and look of them, so check that off. But the royal icing is a real bitch. First….. first… Let me just say that if I spend more time decorating a dessert than actually making the baked item it should not be eaten and should be considered a work of art. I do not understand how people just savagely bite into cookies like that! Second, for the amount of time that goes into these cookies they should be 20$ a pop hahah and I think anyone who has made these would agree.flooding

I also made some salted caramel brownies from Now, Forager. WOW. This was a new bake for me, and it did not disappoint. I have never made caramel from scratch before and was a bit intimidated just from seeing the bakers on Great British Baking Show struggle hardcore with it. But the caramel was so easy to make, and it was arguably the most amazing thing I have ever eaten. I will be making the caramel again to put on ice-cream, cookies, toast… literally anything. The brownies were moist and just chocolaty enough. 5/5 would recommend to anyone!

salted caramel brownies

Until next week my friends!

xo Tasman

And so it begins…

Hello fellow humans!

To start this off I just wanted to introduce myself and let people know a little bit about me and why I am starting this journey.

The inspiration for this blog and website is actually a cookbook from back when I was in elementary school. The school sent out letters to the families to submit their favorite recipe and compiled them all into one cookbook that was then given to each student at the school.

I always looked at the cookbook and thought about the families, their traditions and what led them to submit that specific recipe. It almost told a story to me in a sense… Was it a special cake that had been passed down for generations? Was it a celebratory meal that families looked forward to all year long? Or a weekly staple that brought people together? Whatever it was, it had a story. I really believe that food brings people together. And certain foods mean different things to different people.

My hopes in starting this blog is to create a space where people can tell their stories and traditions through cooking and baking. I am looking forward to enjoying the company of others, learning and listening to their stories and eating A TON!

A few things about me…

I love baking and cooking. And eating it all. While growing up my family and I have ALWAYS sat down at the dinner table to eat dinner. Sitting around the table every night created a space where we could all check in with each other. Some days the meals lasted 20 minutes while some others lasted more than an hour! I owe my love for cooking, baking and eating to my family.

I love learning and pushing myself. I went to school for a really long time. I enjoyed the structure, the rules, character building, meeting friends and working hard… If I could go to school for my full-time job I would. Except no homework…

I love listening. I pride myself on being able to give someone my full attention and making them feel heard, if that makes sense. All everyone really wants is to be understood. My mom and dad have taught me this from a young age. Side story! Mom has always asked 1.3 million questions to anyone that she interacts with. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration but growing up I was mortified when she would ask my friends about their families, specifics about their classes, the list could go on and on. Once I got past the constantly embarrassed stage of being a middle schooler I realized that what she was doing was actually the most amazing thing. She was making someone feel important and interesting. They truly wanted to learn about them as people and how their lives were going. The best conversations were around our dinner table and it is all because mom and dad took a profound interest in learning about others.

And of course, my love. Kyle. He is a constant inspiration to me in all that I do. He is what I look forward to every day. He helps with motivating me, my baking breakdowns and is my constant sous chef 🙂