Thursday, February 23, 2012

An American Girl

We took Sophia to the American Girl store this last Saturday. This was a true sign our little girl was growing up. sniff, sniff

Sophia chose McKenna - Girl of the Year
Funny, I have a smile this big when I shop too ; )
She is definitely mine!
Guess it's time to pass American Girl
Bity Baby to Kalista

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Santa Monica

On Saturday we decided to take a little day trip to Santa Monica. Sophia loves the rides on the pier. We didn't tell her where we were going and she was fine with being surprised.

Just another sunny day : )
The Hall Girls
While Sophia & I waited for this . . . 
 . . . Kalista & Daddy were  riding this.
Kalista sporting some Bruin pride for her daddy.

Everyday is Valentine's

I was literally on my deathbed on Valentine's day. I caught the nasty flu that has been going around. I knew it was only a matter of time since Sophia & Kalista both had it a few days earlier.

Sophia was looking forward to baking Darling Daddy a cake, but I just couldn't muster up the strength to get out of bed. And just a side note . . . Someone was really looking out for me that day because the girls entertained each other the entire day. They could have been painting the house and I wouldn't have known. But instead, they played and rubbed my back from time to time. They even took their naps. I'm going to remember that day forever. : )

Sophia was super excited on Sunday when I told her we were going to make Daddy's cake. She said, But it's not Valentine's." And I told her, "Everyday is Valentine's." This confused her, but she rolled with it.

Super Moist Chocolate Cake
1 box Devil's Food cake mix
3 large eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 pint of sour cream
1 box chocolate pudding mix
2 cups of chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Combine cake mix, eggs, oil and water and mix well. Add the sour cream and mix. Then add pudding and mix well. The batter will be thick. Fold in chocolate chips.

Lightly grease cake pan (I usually use a bundt pan but opted for a heart shaped pan this time). Pour in batter and bake for 55 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Mini Valentine's Treat

Sometimes I forget you can transform almost any regular sized baked good into minis. I also forget how tedious baking mini anythings can be. But they are just so darn cute, it's totally worth it.

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies
to go with Sophia's class Valentine's cards.
They really are minis . . .  

Can't do for one and not for the other!
Mini Blueberry Muffins
to go with Kalista's music class Valentine's cards.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Have a Coke & a Smile

Her first soft drink, ever. 
I think her smile pretty much sums it up.
Cheers Sophia! Until the next Super Bowl : )

Monday, February 6, 2012

Barbecue Pulled Pork Sliders

What was your Super Bowl dish?
This was mine:

This is somewhat of a tedious recipe, but it really is easy. And it is so worth it!

Homemade Barbecue Sauce
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
4 cloves chopped garlic
2 1/4 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons Emeril's Essence
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 ounces tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup cider vinegar
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
In a medium non-reactive saucepan set over medium-high heat, add butter and melt. Then cook onions until they are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, Essence, ground mustard, salt, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and cayenne pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes or until tomato paste begins to brown. Add the water, cider vinegar, and dark brown sugar, and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce has thickened and the flavors come together, about 15-20 minutes.
Set aside to cool before using. Can be made up to 1 week in advance and refrigerate an airtight, non-reactive container.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
1 pork shoulder roast (Boston butt or Picnic roast), about 6-8 pounds
4 teaspoons Essence
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup water

Season pork roast with Essence and salt. Place in slow cooker and add the water. Cook on low for 10-12 hours. Remove roast from slow cooker and "pull" with forks.
Discard the juices leftover in the slow cooker and place pulled pork back in along with the barbecue sauce. The amount of sauce is a preference. You can always add more later. Set on low for 2 hours.

Homemade Cole Slaw
1 head green cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, grated
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
2 green onions (white and green), chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, sliced into matchsticks
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Combine cabbage, carrots, apples red and green onions in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together mayo, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, celery seed and salt and pepper. Pour dressing over cabbage mix and gently toss to mix. Chill for at least 2 hours. Tastes even better if made the day before : )

Barbecue sauce and pulled pork recipes adapted from Emeril
Cole slaw adapted from Tyler Florence

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Easy App

I made this appetizer for a Chardonnay tasting Marcy hosted on Friday night. 
What a fun evening with the gals and our hubbies!
Ahi Tuna Tartare
Oh! And don't forget the wonton chips!

Super Easy Tuna Tartare with Wonton Chips
Fresh Ahi Tuna Poke 
Wonton Skins
Vegetable Oil

Finely dice the Ahi Tuna Poke. I bought 2 kinds, spicy and regular, and combined them. Mash avocados with lemon juice. Arrange however your heart desires!

Heat vegetable oil on medium-high. Cut wonton skins into triangles. Fry up and drain on paper towel. 

I actually baked a few wonton skins in mini muffin cups first. And although they were crisp like a baked chip, they just lacked the light and airy feel you get when you fry them. Sort of funny to use the terms "light" and "airy" in the same sentence with the word "fry". But trust me. Just fry them. It doesn't take much oil.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Simple and Classic

Sometimes simplicity is the best. 
Nothing more simple than melted butter.
Just plain 'ol Granny Smiths accompanied by lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and flour.
That's right! No cream, no milk, no bourbon (darn), no orange zest, no nutmeg.
Whatcha' see, is whatcha' get.
Please make your own crust. It's fast and easy. I promise.
Simple and Classic

Classic Apple Pie
3 1/2 pounds Granny Smith (peeled, cored and sliced)
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons melted, unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Toss apples with sugar and lemon juice. Melt 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in skillet. Add apple mixture and cook for about 10 minutes. Add flour, cinnamon and salt. Cook for another minute or so to thicken.
Let cool. Make pie dough (see recipe below). Roll out one half of dough to fit a 9 inch pie pan. Pour cooled apples into pan. Dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Top with other half of dough. Brush egg wash over the dough and sprinkle with sugar. Refrigerate for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F with a baking sheet on the bottom rack. Take pie out and reduce oven to 375 F. Place pie on preheated baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour or until crust is golden brown. Take pie out and let it set up on a cooling rack. 

Easy Pie Dough
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons shortening
10 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
1/4 cup ice water, maybe more

Pulse first 4 ingredients in food processor. Add all the shortening and 1/3 of the butter. Pulse until flour mix starts to look like small peas. Add rest of the butter and pulse. Add the ice water and pulse a few times. If dough does not hold together after pinching add more water, one tablespoon at a time. Divide dough into 2 equal parts. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill. 

A New Day Job?

 So what do you think of a career change for Darling Hubby?

This job:
Fixing this jaw fracture
Or this job:
Diving for these beauties
Hmmm...Maybe a change in professions? : )