Bake Sale Day!

Hello team,

Today is…drumroll please…BAKE SALE DAY!!!!


Click image to open a new window for the bake sale!

As you have already heard, I’m raising money in a Bake Sale via the internet for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  You can bop over to Megan’s blog to see all of the wonderful and delicious prizes from cookies to brownies to signed cookbooks by some of your favorite bloggers!

I made these perfect fudge brownies and a big ole box of them could be yours!



It’s easy to win.  Megan explains it all on her site.  Go there now.  Start the bidding!


CARAMEL WEEK: Caramel Banana Bread Pudding

Welcome to CARAMEL WEEK!!!  This week marks a momentous occasion when strong and courageous women bloggers stand up for what is good and holy in the world–caramel.


I honestly could not be more excited for all of the delicious recipes from caramel week!  To think of all of the caramel taste testing that went on during recipe development is mind-boggling.  There was a lot of spoon-dipping and finger-licking in my kitchen alone!

It took me a surprisingly long time to decide on what to make, mainly because caramel anything is amazing.  A local restaurant serves an incredible bananas foster bread pudding, so I thought a riff on that might be fun to try.  Boy, am I glad I did!  This caramel banana bread pudding is The Taste.


I always start my recipe development by scouring the internet and cookbooks for recipes similar to what I’m planning on making.  I usually check,, America’s Test Kitchen, Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, and whatever other books I have lying around.Ingredients

Once I’ve found a few favorites, I examine the ingredients in each, decide upon what I think would taste the best, and what my ratios should look like.  I really liked the idea of challah bread because it is thick and eggy, which fits perfectly with an eggy bread pudding.  I decided to use more brown sugar in my recipe because bananas and brown sugar are like bread and butter, like Sonny and Cher, like a shmoke and a pancake.  I also knew that I would need to replace some milk with heavy whipping cream because…well…heavy whipping cream makes everything better.  Obviously.


After I decide upon my ingredient list, I make up ratios needed to increase the flavor town (pinch of salt here, extra vanilla here, etc.).  Eventually my bread pudding recipe was ready to go and I was ready to start cooking!

Slice your challah into 1 inch cubes like this.

Slice your challah into 1 inch cubes like this.

I ran into a problem when I was pouring the milk and egg mixture over my challah; I didn’t have enough liquid to cover the bread!  Nothing to fear, I simply added a splash more cream and wrote down a new estimated amount on the recipe.

This is what your pudding should look like after soaking and smooshing for an hour in the fridge.

This is what your pudding should look like after soaking and smooshing for an hour in the fridge.

If my recipe is a winner, I post it on the blog.  If it’s terrible or mediocre, it’s back to the drawing board!  Recipe development sounds scary, but it’s really fun to get creative with your favorite ingredients and to try out new foods.

For the bread pudding you will need:

  • 1 loaf challah bread (the loaf I found at the store was huge, so just use what you need to fill a 9 x 13 pan) — cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 banana — mushed
  • 3.5 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp butter (melted and cooled slightly)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp rum
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For ingredients and directions for the salted caramel sauce, visit Comfortably Domestic’s blog.  Her sauce is wonderful.  It tastes almost like a Werther’s Original, but so much better!

Comfortably Domestic's Salted Caramel Sauce (This was a key ingredient for the bread pudding because the saltiness mixed with the sweetness and took the dish to the next level)

Comfortably Domestic’s Salted Caramel Sauce (This was a key ingredient for the bread pudding because the saltiness mixed with the sweetness and took the dish to the next level)

  1. Leave the challah out on a cookie sheet overnight to dry.  You can also dry the bread out in the oven at 325 for 10 minutes.
  2. Place the challah in a 9 x 13 pan.  Do not use a glass pan for this!  The pan will go straight from the fridge to the oven and we don’t want any broken glass pudding mixtures in the bottom of our oven.
  3. Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl until combined.
  4. Pour mixture over bread.
  5. Put the bread pudding in the fridge for 1 hour.  Squish the bread down into the milk every 20 minutes so that each cube of bread is soaking.  This allows the bread to absorb all of that nummy milk mixture and to ensure you aren’t inadvertently making croutons.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until pudding is no longer jiggly.
  8. Serve and drizzle Kirsten’s salted caramel over the top.

Check out the other wonderful caramel treats throughout the week with this schedule of events:

Have you ever created your own unique recipe?  How do you develop recipes?


One Kitchen Many Hearts

Hello friends,

Welcome to another edition of your semi-monthly box of goodies from One Kitchen Many Hearts!  Our little corner of the internet decided to come together (probably because of our shared love of treats) and send each other care packages every other month.  This month’s “Spring Fling” themed box arrived from Megan at Country Cleaver and she blew my mind with the awesomeness of this box!

The women of One Kitchen Many Hearts

The women of One Kitchen Many Hearts

Honestly, the box of pre-made mole was the first item I saw and I was…well…horrified.  I mean, the 1970s box design doesn’t exactly scream, “Eat me!  I’m the best authentic mole in town!”  As soon as I saw the note with the awesome hand-drawn mole, I knew immediately she sent me the box because of our shared love for the Austin Powers movies.  Do you remember the mole scene?  “Yes, nice to mole you…MEET you!  Nice to meet your mole.  Don’t say mole.  I said mole.”  hahaha cracks me up every time.  I honestly can’t wait to try it.

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Then my jaw fell to the floor when I saw THIS BEAST:

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Megan and I recently waged a war on Twitter against Jonathan in regards to how to care for cast iron.  If you haven’t visited Megan’s blog, go there now.  On Tuesdays she sometimes writes a “How To Tuesday” post with cooking basics.  A recent post was on how to season cast iron pans, and I realized we had been cleaning ours wrong all along!  I took the only obvious course of action, which was to blame Jonathan and publicly shame him on social media.  Obviously.  I think she sent us this pan to end any marital conflict she may have inflicted upon us.  Thank you, Megan.

She also sent me a baggie of dried cantaloupe.  Can you say nummy?  I think I’m going to chop it up and add it to yogurt, or oatmeal, or cookies…too many possibilities!

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I also love the possibilities for this little peanuty guy:



Megan did such a great job finding box items that were special to me.  Thank you, Megan!!!

To see what I sent Jeanne, hop on over to Inside NanaBread’s Head.

Check out the rest of the loot here:

Rebeka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic
Megan @ Wanna Be A Country Cleaver
Allison @ Decadent Philistines Save the World

How do you stay in touch with friends?  Do you ever send care packages?


SURPRISE: Happy Birthday Jeanne!

Hello everyone,

If you’ve been following the blog and theme weeks for awhile, you know that Jeanne from Inside NanaBread’s Head is a large part of my world.  She keeps our little group organized and up-to-date on crafting, hooch, and Tex Mex delights.  She’s hilarious, caring, and absolutely one-of-a-kind.  So we decided to throw her a virtual surprise party for her 50th birthday!!!

Happy birthday, Jeanne!

We all brought a dish to share for the party…AND…we’ve scheduled an even bigger birthday surprise for Saturday.  So stay tuned!  It arrived on Jeanne’s doorstep in the form of 11 sealed packages.  🙂  heeheehee

Now Jeanne’s love of Tex Mex inspired something deep inside of me to make a cheesy dip…obviously.  So I created this Cheesy Chorizo Dip to bring to the virtual party.  Can I get an amen?

You will need:

  1. 1 package softened cream cheese (8 oz.)
  2. 8 oz. light sour cream
  3. 1 Tbsp. taco seasoning
  4. 1/2 diced onion
  5. 2 cloves minced garlic
  6. 1/2 minced jalapeño
  7. 1/2 chorizo sausage
  8. 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  9. 2 diced green onions
  10. 1-2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  11. Bag o’ tortilla chips!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, and taco seasoning together.

This picture is a result of me playing around with a new iPhone app.  Please disregard how ominous the sour cream looks.  I promise, the sour cream only brings love!  This got weird fast.

This picture is a result of me playing around with a new iPhone app. Please disregard how ominous the sour cream looks. I promise, the sour cream only brings love! This got weird fast.

Brown the chorizo and onion together over medium high heat until thoroughly cooked.  Toss in the garlic and jalapeño, sautéing for about 1 minute, until the flavors are released.

Chorizo browning on the skillet looks like dog food in pictures, so instead, please enjoy this snap of some chopped onion, garlic, and jalapeno.

Chorizo browning on the skillet looks like dog food in pictures, so instead, please enjoy this snap of some chopped onion, garlic, and jalapeno.

Mix the chorizo mixture with the cream cheese mixture.  Attempt not to eat with spoon.

Put the mixture into an oven-proof dish and top with the shredded cheese.

photo 1

Bake until mixture is bubbly and golden brown (approximately 10 minutes…I didn’t actually time this because I was doing other things in the kitchen.  Don’t trust me, just keep an eye on it!)

Top with the green onions and cilantro.  EAT with chips!

photo 3

Jonathan and I couldn’t agree on whether or not this was better than my original taco dip recipe, but the meat added an element of yowza!  Enjoy!

Happy happy birthday, Jeanne!


To keep the party going, check out… Kirsten’s Orange Cream Pie, Allison’s Coca Cola Cake, Beka’s Aged Manhattan, Megan’s Nutella Turnovers, Anne’s Mexican Vanilla Ice Cream Cones, Monica’s Tropical Ice Cream, Katie’s Chocolate Cake with Cooked Flour Frosting, Lauren’s Mini Key Lime Pies with an Animal Cracker Crust, Madeline’s Fig, Fontina and Pecan Flatbread, Carrie’s Coconut Banana Brownie Pie, and Kat’s Guacamole.

One Kitchen Many Hearts Box

Hello internet,

By now you know that every other month my group of bloggy buddies sends each other goodies in the mail.  It’s a wonderful way to stay in touch, give each other trinkets unique from our region of the US, and to stuff our faces with the noms we receive.  Normally I only receive packages when I go on an shopping bender, so a handcrafted box of love is a wonderful change of pace.

The ladies

The ladies

This month’s theme was Winter Essentials (i.e., all of the things you need to successfully survive the winter in a girly and elegant way).  I realize winter is non-existent in California, but we played along anyway. 😉

Snowflake cookie cutter is essential!

Snowflake cookie cutter is essential!

I received my winter essentials box from Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic.  Homegirl is a wonderful food nerd, crafter, mother of 4 boys, Midwesterner, and friend.  I love getting boxes from her because she intuitively knows what I need as a Midwestern expat…she gets me.

To start, she sent a mitts and paws kit, complete with lotions and soaps to keep my hands from drying up.  I can’t tell you how grateful I was for this because my hands get so dry and cracked, even in milder climates. Sad times.

Mitts and paws kit

Mitts and paws kit

She also made homemade hot cocoa mix!  I laughed out loud when I saw this because I attempted to make hot cocoa mix for Allison’s box, but failed miserably.  My attempt at cocoa was clumpy and bitter, so I ended up throwing it directly in the trash.  Kirsten, I’m going to need your recipe!  Alton failed me…as always, that bastard!

photo 1(1)

I got another box of Danish dark chocolate…score!  This stuff is incredible.  So incredible that it’s hard not to eat the entire thing in one sitting.

photo 2

Speaking of eating everything in one sitting, Kirsten also sent me the best orange shortbread cookies in the world!  These cookies disappeared faster than the Girl Scout cookies, which is really saying something.  They had the perfect balance of tart orange zest and buttery cookie dough.  The recipe is in the works and will be up on her blog soon, so stay tuned.

Orange shortbread cookies from heaven

Orange shortbread cookies from heaven

Thanks for an incredible box, Kirsten!

What is on your winter essentials list?