OKMH: Christmas Gifts!

OKMH Collage 2013

Top Row:  Allison , Beka & JeanneCenter: KatKirsten, Bottom Row: Mads & Megan.

To polish off 2013, my lovely blogger friends decided to send Christmas packages to each other.  I love our tradition of sending goodies in the mail so much, especially because it feels like we’re not so far away.

This holiday season, Allison sent me a big box of goodies.  I was waiting all year for a box from her because she has been whipping up homemade marshmallows and I’m officially the last person to taste her wonderful mallows!  They did not disappoint…perfect cranberry marshmallows that are gooey, fluffy, sweet, and tart perfection.

The only snap before the mallows were demolished.

The only snap before the mallows were demolished.

Allison must know I spend most of my days running to and from various jobs without a lot of meal time because she got me an insulated lunch box with cute Tupperware for meals on the go!  Little does she know, she’ll be joining the club soon when she starts her graduate program this year!

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To fill the lunch box, she also included Happy Hippo hazelnut biscuits (Yum) and chocolate kale.  I’m sorry friends, the chocolate kale horrifies me.  I still haven’t tried it, but I’m hoping to conquer my fears in 2014.  She also included a bottle opener, no doubt to fuel my beer-drinking habits.

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If that wasn’t enough, she also sent me a gorgeous turquoise scarf!  It’s beautiful!  I love it so hard.

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I have a severe scarf obsession and wore it almost the entire time I was in Minnesota for the holidays.  I can’t wait for more cold weather to wear it again.  Beauty!

Thanks so much for the thoughtful gifts, Allison.  If you haven’t read her blog yet, you should.  She writes about adventures in running, parenting a 5 year old who loves glitter, whipping up fabulous meals for her family, and so much more.

Check out what I sent Kirsten here!

What was your favorite gift this holiday season? 

-Mads

OKMH Box: Back to School!

Hello errbody!

It’s that time of year again for One Kitchen Many Heart boxes!  My pals decided this month’s theme would be back to school/work or “pimp my cubicle”.

OKMH Collage 2013

 

Top Row:  Allison , Beka & JeanneCenter: KatKirsten, Bottom Row: Mads & Megan.  Check out the other rad boxes by clicking on each name.  I got a few special goodies for Kat this month!

This month was particularly special because Beka hand-delivered her gift for me when we met for brunch and a stroll around Venice Beach!   She happened to be in town visiting her grandparents and we were able to spend the morning eating french toast, people-watching, and snuggling (I use the term loosely because Josie was a hot mess of energy that day) the pug.   And Beka was amazing!  I can’t wait to meet up with her again.

Not surprisingly, she was able to find an array of goodies I absolutely love.  To start, she found these hilarious pens and notepads.  I’m sure Jonathan is going to love the copious “Hey Asshole” notes I will leave him each week.

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Then there’s this card holder:

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AMAZING

No words.

Not pictured: cute dog treats for Josie shaped like an ice cream cone.  She went nuts.

Beka and I also share a deep love for Doctor Who.  Are you watching it?  You need to.  I watched the first 4 seasons in a few weeks, so I can definitively say it is a great show.  Donna is my favorite companion and I’m obsessed with the TARDIS.  Somehow Beka found these bada$$ sticky notes with TARDIS stickies!!!

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AND SHE MADE THESE EARRINGS HERSELF:photo 4

If you watch the show, you will understand the naming of these colors.  How cute are they?  I’m constantly inspired to craft more by this group of women.

This month’s theme was so fun and it was made even better by being able to meet my friend in the flesh!  Thank you, Beka!

What do you put in your office to spruce it up?  

-Mads

 

OKMH: Picnic Themes of Summer

Hello friends!

This month’s One Kitchen Many Hearts box was “picnic” themed to get us all amped up for the long days of summer.  Is it just me or are this year’s “long days of summer” turning into the fastest most non-existent days of summer ever?  It’s already July!

OKMH Collage 2013

 

Top:  Allison , Beka & Jeanne  Center: KatKirsten  Bottom: Me & Megan

I had big plans to spend most weeknights this summer lounging with a book on the balcony and most weekends lounging by the beach.  Unfortunately, I have been working 50 hour weeks and the weekends have been so packed with activities that I can’t even think straight.  Don’t get me wrong, I love doing things on the weekend, but this summer isn’t exactly the lounge-fest I envisioned.

I know that the goodies Kat sent me in the OKMH package will help simmer me down after a long work week.  She knew just what I needed to slow myself down and enjoy each moment summer has to offer.

Kat sent me a lovely box filled with some goodies from her recent trip to the South.

Southern picnic fair

 

The goods:

  • Dillon’s gourmet pecan roll
  • Old Savannah Spice Co. crab and shrimp boil (in a bag!)
  • Adorable little spoons…for caviar?  Coffee stirrers?  They’re so cute, I will probably use them for everything.
  • Red velvet, frosted cupcake, and salted caramel swirl taffy!

I’m not sure I’ve ever had taffy before, but I can honestly say this stuff is addicting.  Unfortunately, the taffy came in an unmarked white paper bag, so I’ll have to hunt her down for the source.  Fingers crossed it was from a chain that exists in California.

I also can’t wait to test the shrimp boil out on 4 pounds of shellfish.  YUM!  One of my first trips out to visit California included dinner to a crab boil restaurant.  They handed us some plastic bibs, a heaping pile of hand wipes, and a huge bag of boiled crab, sausage, corn, and shrimp.  It was so garlicky and glorious that the memory burned into my brain.  Mmmmm garlic shrimp mmm buttery corn mmm

Hrm? Where was I?  Oh, something about how excited I am to attempt a crab boil at home with this kit!

Thanks for the love, Kat!

Has summer been flying by for you too?  What are you most looking forward to this summer?

-Mads

Bake Sale Day!

Hello team,

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

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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!

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

-Mads

Cookies for Crohn’s

My dear and lovely friend, Beka, is running her little booty off in a 1/2 marathon to raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.  In order to maximize giving to kids suffering from those awful diseases, she’s throwing a bake sale on the internet!  I don’t know what could possible go together better than gastrointestinal troubles and internet food porn.

Beka and Megan are hosting the event on Megan’s blog, Wanna Be A Country Cleaver.  Click over to check out all of the nummy bake sale treats we are auctioning off to the highest bidder!  Many bloggers have teamed up to bring you cookies, treats, autographed cookbooks, gift packages, and more!  Click over for more information about how to bid on and receive prizes.

I decided to contribute “Perfect Fudge Brownies” (please refrain from any Crohn’s and Colitis jokes for the remainder of this blog post or we’ll have a real mess on our hands).

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Since I deemed them “perfect”, I had to go through MANY iterations of these brownies before I actually “perfected” the recipe.  I called in my food blog pals to assess why the first few attempts were so cakey (too much leavening with baking powder).  Then I had to remove eggs and add chocolate to increase the fudge factor.  It really was a process.Finally I found the winner!  These bad boys are fudgey, chocolatey, gooey perfections of your traditional brownie.

If you’re interested in winning a whole big batch of these brownies, head on over to Megan’s page and bid!

Recipe to follow once the winners have been selected…

-Mads

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.

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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.

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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 Foodgawker.com, FoodNetwork.com, 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.

Challah

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?

-Mads

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:

SQUIRREL

SQUIRREL

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?

-Mads