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Two Peas and Their Pod: April 2008

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

California Trip

Josh had a couple of Dr's appointments scheduled for Monday in California so we decided to make a fun trip out of it and went for the weekend. We flew into Oakland and met Ben and Whitney for dinner Friday night.

Saturday we got up early and headed to the city. We met Josh's mom and Bob at the Ferry Building. We ate breakfast and toured the farmer's market, the best place on Earth:) We tried lots of tasty samples..this time we made sure Josh didn't get a nut sample! It was the perfect morning.

After the market we went to Miette Confiserie. Yes, we visited Miette's Bakery at the Ferry Building, but I wanted to see the candy store too:)

It is a fun little shop! They have lots of specialty candies and of course their bakery items. We got to chat with Caitlin, one of Miette's master bakers. Josh spoke to her on the phone a couple weeks ago so we were glad she was at the store. Caitlin was very friendly and extremely helpful in giving us macaron advice and encouragement. Of course, I had to sample a couple of macarons...this time I tried Chocolate Lavender and Strawberry. The little cookies never fail to amaze me! They really are little bites of heaven.

Josh wanted to try their old fashioned cupcake so we got one to share. Everything I have tasted at Miette is well worth the calories, so if you are ever in San Francisco stop on in or you can order delicious treats from their website. Miette Bakery. Of course I recommend the macarons!

It was a gorgeous day so we went to Golden Gate Park and the beach next. It was so nice being in the warm sun...we all got a little red but it was worth it!

Saturday night we met Sean and Suzi for dinner at PapaPavlos, our favorite Greek restaurant. Sunday was church and then fun times with the Kelly's! We also had an amazing meal at Whitney's parents house and went on a nature walk by Lodi Lake. Sorry no pictures!! I slacked on Sunday! Sad!

Monday was busy. Josh had a Dr's appointment in SF and then one in Santa Cruz. The drive to Satna Cruz was beautiful! Josh showed me around where he used to live and I got to meet his old roommate, John. We stopped at the beach and had dinner....then we had to go!

We met Ben and Whitney at the airport and said our goodbyes! It was a fantabulous trip! Thanks everyone for a super fun weekend!!


Monday, April 21, 2008

Cookie Craze

Here are some pictures from our latest baking adventures. First, we made Lime Macarons. We added lime zest into our usual almond base recipe and filled the cookies with a lime buttercream. The lime juice concentrate really puckered up the flavor.

I was in St. George last week for work so Josh was bored:) He made Hazelnut Macarons all by himself! He has been researching how to make the perfect macaron, he even talked to my favorite bakery in San Francisco, Miette Bakery.
He is determined to master these cookies, even though he can't eat them because they are made with nuts. So he tried out some new techniques...he even made his own powdered sugar! He did a great job for his first macaron making! I was impressed.

Over the weekend I did some baking. First, I tried Dorie's Sable recipe. Sable cookies are a classic French cookie. Sable is French for "sand," which refers to the sandy texture of these delicate shortbread-like cookies. Since we love lime, I tried Lime Sables. They turned out great! They are now one of my favorite slice-and-bake icebox cookies. They are full of bright citrus zest and are very tender. The secret to the tenderness is that confectioners' sugar is used in the dough instead of granulated sugar. Josh couldn't stop eating these buttery bites! I am going to make these again soon!

Next, I baked a batch of Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies. I know, Josh is deathly allergic to peanut butter, I wasn't trying to kill him, I promise! These brownie like cookies only have peanut butter chips in the dough, so the smell wasn't too strong! The cookies were soft and chewy with the perfect chocolate and peanut butter combo! And lastly, I did my classic chocolate chip recipe, with some dark chocolate M&M's tossed into the mix. They are always a favorite.

So there you have it...a baking update from Maria and Josh's Kitchen!

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Black and White

Two months and three days until we get married! Last night we practiced making Chocolate Crinkles for the black and white dessert table. I love these cookies! They are soft, chewy, and similar to a brownie. The powdered sugar gives them a nice finishing touch! One important thing to remember, do not over bake. I baked them for 10 minutes. These deep chocolate flavored cookies are firm outside; chewy and fudgy on the inside. So if you can't wait until June to try them at our wedding, here is the recipe.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Yields: 51 cookies

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 4 ounces 99% unsweetened chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar

  • Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the oil, chocolate and granulated sugar and blend on medium speed. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. There may be some small clumps of sugar in the batter at this point. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed, stopping once to scrape down the sides. Mix until just incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes. The dough will be sticky.

    Gather the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

    Position the racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

    Pour the confectioners' sugar onto a plate or into a shallow bowl. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, drop onto the sugar and roll each ball so that all sides are covered. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets.

    Bake for 10 minutes for soft, chewy cookies, or 12 minutes for crisp cookies, rotating the pans halfway through baking. The cookies are done when the edges are set (but the tops still have a little give to them). Let cool completely on cooling racks. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.

    Another Great Recipe from:

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    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    Extreme Home Makeover!

    Over the weekend we painted our living room. I know I don't technically live there yet, but I spend enough time there and the salmon walls were really hurting my eyes:) I told Josh I would not move in unless we toned it down a bit. So Josh started painting while I was babysitting my Aubrey. We had a great time...she adores her Aunt Ria!

    When I got to the house Josh almost had the first coat of primer done! He is a hard worker!!
    We had to do two primer coats though because the walls were so dark. It was a long night but thanks to the caffeine, Jazz game, some good tunes, and company we survived. We finished the job around 3:00 a.m!


    Here are the Before and After shots:

    It looks TONS better!! Wave of Grain was a great choice! I am glad we got it done!! Now we just need some pictures for that blank wall:)


    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    Banana Caramel Cake

    We thought this week was going to be a bit calmer, but we were wrong. I haven't had time to bake, sad, but here is a great cake recipe from, Essence Of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate. If you are a chocolate lover make sure you check this book out!

    I have made this Banana Caramel cake several times and everyone loves it. The cake is gooey and oh so sweet!! You can't go wrong with bananas, chocolate, and caramel!

    Adapted from
    Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate by Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger.

    For the cake:

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp. cloves
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 3 large eggs
    • 1-1/4 cups vegetable oil (or canola oil as in the original recipe)
    • 1-3/4 cups sugar
    • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
    • 3 oz. chocolate (I used a 65% chocolate), broken into small pieces (size of chips)
    • 3 ripe bananas, diced

    For the caramel:

    • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp. whole milk
    • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    1. Butter and flour a tube pan or a bundt pan that can hold 12 cups.
    2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    3. Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt and baking soda).
    4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, oil and sugar. With the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes.
    5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that the sugar has been incorporated.
    6. Add the vanilla extract and mix for another 30 seconds.
    7. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients a bit at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl every now and then to ensure everything is incorporated.
    8. Once the dry ingredients have been added, remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add the pecans, chocolate and bananas. Gently fold them in with a spatula or a wooden spoon. Don't over mix.
    9. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes and then test the cake to see if it's done by poking a toothpick or cake tester into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, it's done. If not, bake the cake for another 5 to 10 minutes. In my oven, this cake took 55 minutes.
    10. About 5 to 10 minutes before the cake is done, make the caramel by combining all the ingredients in a small pan. Bring to the boil and stir occasionally to ensure that it doesn't burn. Let it boil for about 5 minutes and then turn off the heat.
    11. Once the cake is out of the oven, poke holes all over the cake with a skewer. Immediately pour the caramel over the cake, stopping every now and then to let the caramel sink in. If the caramel pools in spots, poke more holes to allow it to sink in.
    12. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack. Once it's cool, loosen the cake from the sides of the pan and then unmold it onto a plate.
    13. Enjoy!