Thursday, March 31, 2011

Make This!!

Gougeres! I found this recipe in The Seattle Times back in January. They sounded so good, I had to give them a try. These are very easy to make - don't be intimidated by the long article. If you've ever made cream puffs, that is essentially what these are (with the addition of pepper & cheese). Make them! You won't be disappointed!
Piped & ready for the freezer.

Fresh out of the oven. Hot, crispy, savory & delicious!

GOUGERES Total time: 1 hour, plus optional freezing time Servings: Makes about 4 dozen gougeres Note: Adapted from "The French Laundry Cookbook" 1 cup water 7 tablespoons (3 ½ ounces) butter 1 tablespoon kosher salt Pinch sugar 1 ¼ cups (5 ounces) flour 4 to 5 eggs 1 ¼ cups grated Gruyere (5 ounces), divided Freshly ground white pepper 1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking sheets or parchment paper. 2. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes, or until the dough forms a ball and the excess moisture has evaporated (if the ball forms more quickly, continue to cook and stir for a full 2 minutes). 3. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle and beat for about 30seconds at medium speed to cool slightly. Add 4 eggs and continue to mix until completely combined and the batter has a smooth, silky texture. Stop the machine and lift up the beater to check the consistency of the batter. It should form a peak with a tip that falls over. If it is too stiff, beat in the white of the remaining egg. Check again and, if necessary, add the yolk. Finally, mix in three-fourths cup of Gruyere and adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper. 4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a three-eighths-inch plain pastry tip with the gougeres batter. Pipe the batter into 1-tablespoon mounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the gougeres, as the mixture will spread during baking. Sprinkle the top of each gougere with about one-half teaspoon of the remaining grated cheese. (At this point, the gougeres can be frozen on the baking sheets until solid, then stored in the freezer in a tightly sealed container.) 5. When almost ready to serve, transfer the frozen gougeres back onto the lined baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees until they puff and hold their shape, 7 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake until they are a light golden brown color, an additional 20 to 25 minutes. When you think the gougeres are done, break one open; it should be hollow and the inside should be cooked but still slightly moist. 6. Remove the pans from the oven and serve the gougeres while hot.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Anniversary!!!

Happy 22nd anniversary Omidjoon!! I love you!!!

To read about our elopement, click here!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bake Sale for Japan: Final Total!!

This quote from Audrey Hepburn sums up my bake sale. I was hoping to raise $50. My friends & family blew me out of the water!!!!
Our final bake sale total: $1,435.00!!! Thank you so much to everyone who participated!! I appreciate you all so very much!!

Two stories from the bake sale that stand out & both involve the same person: Christina Bonazelli. Christina has been battling an aggressive form of breast cancer since August.

Christina at her last chemo appointment.

I didn't know Christina very well - just as an acquaintance at school events. When I heard that I could help with dinners through, I signed up before Christmas. I have gotten to know Christina little by little. She is an amazing lady! As of her last MRI visit on March 24th, her tumor is GONE! YAY! Power of Prayer!!!

The first day of the bake sale, I was scheduled to deliver dinner to Christina & her family. Christina was so, so kind and gave me $40 for the dinner I delivered!!! I was supposed to be helping her and instead, she helped me!!!

Second story involving Christina: Christina posted a message on her Facebook status announcing my bake sale. An hour after she posted her status, her friend Lisa in CA contacted me. Lisa said she would donate & wanted the baked goods delivered to Christina. I said, "Thanks so much & no problem!" I baked & delivered caramel fudge brownies to Christina. She wasn't home, but I tied her brownies with a gift tag signed from Lisa. Christina was a little confused to say the least. The next thing I know, Christina's FB was updated with this message:

Ok, try to follow this... Lisa L. donated money to Erin's bake sale for Mercy Corps to help the people of Japan, then had Erin deliver the most amazing chocolate carmel brownies to me! That's Stockton to Camas to Portland to Japan. :) Are my friends awesome, or what? ♥ No, Christina - YOU are awesome! Thank you so much for supporting my bake sale. You show me how to be a better person everyday!! PS- Did I mention Christina did a 5K on Saturday? Oh yeah!!

Make This!!

Five Minute Chocolate Cake! This is a fun dessert. I have given them as gifts before too. Just add the dry ingredients to a baggie, stick it in a cute (microwave safe) mug, wrap it up, attach the directions & voila! Instant & fun gift.

Five Minute Chocolate Cake
4 Tbs flour 4 Tbs sugar 2 Tbs cocoa 1 egg 3 Tbs milk 3 Tbs oil 3 Tbs chocolate chips (optional) splash vanilla 1 large coffee mug (microwave safe!!) In a small bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add the egg & mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk & oil & mix well. Add the chocolate chips & vanilla. Pour into microwave safe mug. Microwave on high for 2:30 to 3:00. The cake will rise over the top of the mug (don't be alarmed - this is normal!). Allow to cool & tip out onto a plate. Enjoy! *Mine was a little 'chewy' at 3:00. Next time I will take it out at 2:30.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bake Sale for Japan

These were the most requested items for the bake sale.

Again, thank you so much to the following people who supported my bake sale!! I think you are all WONDERFUL!!!

Christina B., Cheryl W., Anna S., Lisa B., Laurel A., Michelle S., Pooja G., Katie B., Gina T., Dan B., Mansour & Farah Z. Kumiko N., Audrey & Steve B., Arezou Z ., Evan T., Wendy W., Lin K., Kathy Mc., Elizabeth E., Jodie M., Mary L., Jane E., Norann M., Tara O., Renee K., Tammy S., & Chrissy G.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Make This!!

Cinnamon pull-a-part bread!!

The next time you get a hankering for homemade cinnamon rolls, make this bread  from Joy the Baker instead. This was the most requested recipe for my bake sale. It's time consuming but so worth the effort. This bread looked different each time I baked it. It was so neat to see how the second rise affected the shapes. First rise Ready for the second rise.

Fun twists.

The recipe below is from Joy the Baker. Everything I have ever baked from her site has been 100% delicious!
Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread Recipe found on

Makes: one 9x5x3-inch loaf Recipe adapted from HungryGirlPorVida

For the Dough: 2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 ounces unsalted butter

1/3 cup whole milk

1/4 cup water

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling: 1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned

In a large mixing bowl (I used just the bowl of my stand mixer) whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Set aside. Whisk together eggs and set aside. In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted. Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract. Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125 degrees F. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula. Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter. The eggs will feel soupy and it'll seem like the dough and the eggs are never going to come together. Keep stirring. Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes. The mixture will be sticky. That's just right. Place the dough is a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour. *The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning. If you're using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.

While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling. Set aside. Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned. Set aside. Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Set that aside too. Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out. The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long. If you can't get the dough to 20-inches long... that's okay. Just roll it as large as the dough will go. Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough. Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture. It might seem like a lot of sugar. Seriously? Just go for it. Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips. Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again. You'll have six stacks of six squares. Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book. Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown. The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw. A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto a clean board. Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it's right side up. Serve warm with coffee or tea. I think this bread is best served the day it's made, but it can also we wrapped and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bake Sale for Japan Update #7

ありがとうございます! $1,385.00 for Mercy Corps!! Thank you so much for supporting my bake sale for Japan!!

This is the Hands of Hope for Japan wall at Skyridge MS. Every student & staff member made a hand with a message on it.

Photo by Connie Pappas
My favorite pair of hands on the wall.
Origami $$ cranes - so cute! Thank you Norann!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bake Sale for Japan Update #6

$1,290 raised for Mercy Corps/Japan!!! My anonymous donors matched the $610 that was raised by 5:00 p.m. today. Two hours later, I received $70 more. Thank you for helping the people of Japan!!!

Bake Sale for Japan Update #5

$610 raised so far!!! Thank you so much!!

Check out my Bake Sale/Mercy Corps link here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bake Sale for Japan Update #4

WOW! Today I witnessed the donations for my Bake Sale for Japan rise from $195 t0 $205 to $230 to $280 to $300 to $325 in FIVE HOURS!!! Thank you so much for your donations!!!!!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bake Sale for Japan Update #3

$175 raised so far!!! I have great friends & family!!! Thank you so much!!!!

The most adorable donation by far! Thank you Kumiko!!!!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bake Sale for Japan Update #2

So happy to report that I have now raised $145.00 for Mercy Corps! Yay! I received a very cool text from two donors who wish to remain anonymous. They are going to match whatever is donated, dollar for dollar! Such great news!
Flat Stanley helped with the bread baking today.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bake Sale for Japan Update

I am so happy to announce that in two days, I have baked my way to $90 for Mercy Corps. So many wonderful people wanted to donate and I am grateful to each & every one of them! I have 6 orders left to fulfill. Make sure to check back next week to see the final total. Thanks Friends!!

Here are pictures of the most requested items: Joy the Baker's Cinnamon Pull-a-Part Bread. D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! I have baked 6 of these already.
Tarts with pastry cream. 3 batches sold.
Only two requests for chocolate & caramel. Those friends get caramel chocolate brownies (with an entire bag of caramels) hidden inside. YUM!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bake Sale for Japan

I am having a 'made to order' bake sale to benefit Japan. ALL $ raised will be given to Mercy Corps. What do you want me to bake/make for you? White chocolate crunch? White chocoloate popcorn? Cracker Roca? Pirashkis? Butternut squash soup with a kick? Broccoli cheese soup? Gingersnaps? Turtles? Vanilla custard tarts? Pumpkin donut muffins? Persian rice with tahdig? Peanut butter cups? Tomato butter? Biscotti? Mocha Cake Roll? Not sure? I take requests or you can look at the "make this" section of the blog for ideas. Let's help Japan!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I Heart Japan!

Since Thursday's devastating earthquake & tsunami, I can't think about anything but Japan. All these images below are from Reuters News. The photographs are heartbreaking. It's so true that a picture really does say a thousand words. I am speechless when I watch or read the news; all I have are tears.

Omid & I both LOVE Japan and feel the need to do SOMETHING. We have been brainstorming ways to raise money to send to Japan; besides the $10 donation we can send by texting the word HELP to 90999 (Red Cross). The first idea I stole from my sister's friend. Bunco to help Japan. Each player pays $15 to play & all the funds will go to help Japan. The other idea I had was have a 'pay-to-eat' dinner party at my house. Would any of you be willing to pay $15-20 for lots of good food & drink? Again, all the money will go to help Japan. The last idea I had was to have a bake sale. If anyone else has any other ideas, let me know.
Let's fundraise for Japan together! They need our help!!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Make This!!

Omid & I made pirashkis on Friday night. It's been way too long since we had them. We made a triple batch so my friend Annette could have a stash too.

Dough - finished with it's double rise & right next to it - the pirashki filling.
Stuffing the pirashkis.

Ready for the hot oil.

First one done. I had to do a taste-test it to make sure it was delicious (it was!).
First batch=done!
We ate a ton of these, they were sooooo gooooooood.
Feel like making these? Do! They are easy & worth the wait. Check out My Persian Kitchen for the recipe.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Photo Strips!

I have another new favorite iPhone app: Pocketbooth! I can't get enough of this adorable app. Remy, on the other hand, has had it. Check out the very last photo strip. He flat out refused to have his picture taken. :)

Enough, already!