Peanut Butter and Jelly Pie in a Pretzel Crust

This blog post was original a dramatic complaint about how my life isn’t perfect.  I just re-read it, and I feel dumb, capricious and immature.  Because I realize all the things I worry about are trivial.  There are far more serious things in life than the fact that I have a pile of student loan debt, a mean comment from a reader or a little bit of back pain.

Last week, I thought I was having a terrible week.  Things kept going wrong, or so it seemed.  But I was wrong.

This week is far more terrible, because terrible things didn’t happen to me.  They happened to my loved ones, and that is a million times worse.

So in those moments when I feel like my life is crumbling, like a pie crust that doesn’t have enough water to help it stick together, food is important.  Those moments are when pie is essential.

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Really though.

Even if you don’t eat it, because by now I know turning to food when things aren’t going well is wrong, make the pie and give it away.

Give it to a loved one who isn’t having the best day, or a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time.

Pie doesn’t heal all wounds, but it helps.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Pie in a Pretzel Crust

1 1/4 cup of pretzel crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter, smooth natural
4 oz cream cheese, softened
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp strawberry jam

First make your crust by mixing together pretzel crumbs, butter and sugar.  Press into a 9” pie dish and place in the freezer until ready to use.

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Next, beat together peanut butter, cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk.  Beat 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream until if holds firm peaks.  Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture until combined.  Set aside.

Beat remaining 1 cup of whipped cream.  Once it start to form peaks, add in 3 tbsp of strawberry jam.  If you want to avoid clump, blend your jam before adding it to the whipped cream.  Set aside.

Next assemble the pie.  Spread half of the jam on the bottom of the pie crust.  If it’s hard to spread, feel free to add a little water or blend it to make it smooth.  Next spread on half the peanut butter mixture, then another layer with remaining jam. Top with remaining peanut butter mixture.  Transfer whipped cream to piping bag and pipe strawberry whipped cream onto the pie, alternatively you can just spread it.

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Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight and serve cold to someone special.

This is comfort food to the max, because sometimes we need a little comfort and a big hug.

Strawberry Basil Gin & Tonic and The Weekend

After a long week, sometimes you need a drink.  This week was pretty rough.  On Thursday, I pulled a muscle in my lower back while working out.  Someone suggested I have a drink to relax the muscles.  Worth a try.

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I’m not a big drinker, but I love a good gin and tonic.  And you know me, I love to spice things up.  So I decided to give give it a few little tweeks and this is what I came up with:

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Strawberry Basil Gin and Tonic

2 oz gin
2 strawberries, sliced1-2 basil leaves, chopped
4-6 oz tonic water
twist of lime

Muddle together the strawberries and basil.  Add the gin and mix together.  Pour over ice.  Squeeze in some lime juice, top with tonic water and serve.

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Serving it in a mason jar is totally ok.  This is about relaxing.  Mason jars are laid back.  They’re also for hipsters or people who are too cheap to buy real glasses.  Glasses are also allowed.  They’re fancier.

Either way, get your sip on.

So that was Friday.

Saturday, I met up with Allie from Sweet Potato Bites.  We realized we live like 2 miles away from each other and thought we should probably meet up for a doughnut.

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Because that’s what foodies do.  So we headed to Sidecar Doughnuts and I had a tasty yeast doughnut with chocolate and salt.

Sooo good.  Allie was awesome!  I’m excited to have made friends with a cool blogger.  After our 2 hour chat session, I headed to a thrift shop where I bought exciting things for my upcoming Chicken and Waffle party.

You heard that right.  Chicken and Waffles party.  It’s going to be epic.  I’ll tell you more about it when it rolls around.

Sunday, was also awesome.  Well that’s today.  Jesse and I are celebrating our 1.5 versary, because we’re cool like that.    So we had brunch at Public Kitchen in The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.

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I bought a Travel Zoo deal for brunch for two.  While it was nice scenery, and the bathrooms were awesome…

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Brunch was meh.  It ended up costing $55 for a glorified continental breakfast.  It probably doesn’t help that I don’t really like buffets.  I’d much rather just get a plate of food.  Jesse and I both don’t eat enough to feel like buffets are worth it.  Nothing was omg-amazing-must-have.  But oh well.  It was still a nice time.

After brunch, we headed back to OC.  Jesse needed to work and I did arts and crafts…

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Now we’re enjoying cucumber-basil water and trying to figure out what to have for dinner (or am, while Jesse works).

Overall, it’s been a great weekend.  Can’t complain, not even about the fact that my back hurts.  Maybe I need another drink? What do you think?

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Brie Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese Sandwich and My Top 5 Tips for the Perfect Grilled Cheese

So remember when I finished the Paleo Challenge, I learned I needed to eat actual meals instead of snacks for dinner?

Well I’m trying to get better at that.  I’ve been trying to incorporate more salads into my dinners, like the Roasted Beet Asparagus and Arugula salad in my last post.   But today and yesterday were long days.  I’ve been stressed and I’ve had a headache since I woke up today.

To remedy all that, I did two things:

1. Went to the Good Will

Thrift shops in Orange County aren’t as cheap in the song, nor are they as cheap as they were in Central NY.  But I still managed a few good finds.

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A tart pan for $2.50, a lovely oval shaped plate for $4.99 (over-priced in my opinion) and a cake plate for $2.50.  I also managed to find a rotating cake stand that will be great for frosting cakes.

2.  Grilled Cheese

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Let’s be more specific.  Brie Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese.

Now don’t get me wrong, traditional caprese with mozzarella is lovely, but seriously.  This sandwich is out of this world.

Last week someone asked me for tips on a good grilled cheese.  Obviously it’s all a questions of taste but here are…

My Top 5 Tips for Making the Perfect Grilled Cheese

1. Good Bread.  If your bread sucks, your grilled cheese will too.  Don’t you dare you sliced white bread.  Invest in some good bread.  I used Trader Joe’s Italian Bread.  Tasty enough.  Orange County is seriously lacking in good bread bakeries.

2. Make sure there’s cheese on both sides of the bread.  If you’re putting something other than just cheese, you need to make sure the cheese is on both sides.  The cheese is the binding agent.  If you don’t have it on both sides, it’ll all fall apart.

3.  Use Real Butter.  If you’re going to make a grilled cheese, now’s not the time to be healthy by avoiding butter.  No.  You’re choosing to make grilled cheese.  If you wanted a healthy meal, you’d make a salad.  Use butter.  It makes your bread golden, toasty and delicious.  Don’t skimp.

4. Mustard.  Unless you’re making a grilled cheese sandwich with some sort of jam, mustard almost always makes a grilled cheese taste better.  Cheese and mustard just go together.  I’m not talking about yellow mustard.  I’m talking tasty dijon-style mustard or the kind with the wonderful mustard seeds in it.  If you hate mustard, you can ignore this comment.  But if you like mustard, trust me.  Give it a try.

5. Low and slow.  Don’t turn the flame on high! Heat your pan to medium/low.  It might take a few minutes for it to get golden and for the cheese to melt, but that’s way better than a burnt piece of bread with hard cheese in the middle.  Be patient.  It’ll be tastier.

That’s pretty much there is to it.  Oh and if you use sliced Kraft American Cheese or Velveeta… You’re dead to me

Brie Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese

2 slices of amazingly tasty bread of your choice
a big pat of butter
1-2 oz brie, sliced (keep the rind! it’s tasty!)
3-4 tomato slices
1-2 basil leaves, chopped

Spread each slice of bread with butter on one side.  On the other side, layer cheese tomatoes and basil.  I try not to use too much cheese because brie is pretty strong, so I put half the cheese on one side and the bread and the other half on the opposite half of the other piece (does that make any sense?  See the pic below)

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Heat pan to medium/low heat.  Place sandwich, butter side down on pan.  Cook about 3 minutes per side or until golden all around and cheese in the center has melted.

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Serve with a bowl of soup and enjoy!  I had it with a bowl of Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup.  Tastiest soup from a box ever.  I promise!

Added bonus: This month is National Grilled Cheese Month.  I have no idea who decided that but I support, and so should you.  Eat Grilled Cheese Today!

P.S. Dunking is encouraged.

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Roasted Beet, Asparagus and Arugula Salad

As much as I advocate cake and pie eating, I really want you to eat vegetables too.

Lots of vegetables.

They’re good for you.  Sometimes sugar and butter need to take a back seat and we need to have something good for you.  Like this salad.

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Roasted Beet, Asparagus and Arugula Salad

2-3 fresh beets
3-5 cups arugula1/2 lb asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
1 tomato, sliced
2 oz goat cheese
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp honey
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 400F.  Thoroughly wash beets, then wrap beets in aluminum foil.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 mins to 1 hour, or until tender.  Allow to cool.  Peel and slice. (Note: You can roast a bunch of beets and once and store them in the fridge for about a week in the roasting foil.  Peel and slice when you’re ready to serve them)

Steam asparagus for about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and rinse with cold water.  Set aside. (You can do this while the beets roast, or you can plan your next vacation)

Make dressing by mixing together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  Whisk until well combined.

Lastly, assemble the salad.  Start with a bed of arugula, layer on the tomatoes, asparagus, beets and goat cheese.  Drizzle with dressing and serve!  This salad will feed 2 very hungry people or 4 as a side salad.

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Eat it up!

Weekend Scenes

Friday afternoon snack, beer and Persian flatbread
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And kept it healthy with bacon waffles with bananas for dinner
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The weekend wouldn’t be complete without a pie. That’s a peanut butter and jelly pie on a pretzel crust. Want to know how to make it?

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Last week, I planted some tomato seeds. They sprouted!!!

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And then I hung out with this guy. He was super fussy, but he just wanted to be held.

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Later today… More waffles!!
How was your weekend? Any highlights?

Traveling: Planning a Trip to Peru

My blog is a food blog.  I know this, you know this, we all know this, but it’s also a little bit about me.  And you want to know something about me?

I love to travel.

To me, traveling is more than just a set of experiences.  It’s an enormous privilege that I’ve been lucky to have a large part of my life.  Starting with going to Guatemala every summer as a kid, then having my parents tote me around with them on various trips (Brazil, Europe, Caribbean), then learning to go places on my own (like Argentina and India).  Even just since I’ve had this blog, you’ve followed me to:

Mexico:

  • I went to Chiapas for a week to work on a project while in Grad School.  I didn’t tell my parents I was going, because I thought they’d freak out.  That’s one of my biggest regrets.  Not the trip, but the not telling my parents part.

Rome:

  • I went to Rome from January til June of 2011.
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    I worked at a UN Agency and ate too much pasta and Nutella.  There were also a few side trips, like Amalfi
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    Tuscany
    windey road

China:

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Last year I took a 2 week trip to China, and it was pretty awesome.

This time, I’ve got the travel bug again.

Two weeks ago, I bought a plane ticket to Peru.  Last week, I booked a 4-day trip on the Inca Trail.

So this time, instead of just giving you a lighting recap like I did with China.  I’d like to document the trip planning experience for myself to remember and for the world to know.

I think a lot of people have this idea that traveling is too scary, or too expensive, but honestly with some saving strategies, I think anyone can take a fun trip.  I’m not Mr. Money Bags.  If I can take a trip, you probably can too.  It just takes some planning.  So ready for some tips?

Where was your last destination?  Where are you going next?

Epic Banana Bundt Cake

I’ve rewritten this post about three times, trying to come up with something as epic as the recipe to come.  But I can’t.  My brain is asking me for a rest.

Between work and blogging, my creative juices are dried up, in terms of writing that is.  Because recipes… I’ve got sooooo many for you to look forward to.  But first let’s talk about bananas.

I’m a banana fiend.  I eat one daily.  I learned it from my mother, she probably eats two daily.  That’s ok.

Bananas are on the top of my list of things I think are out of this world, let’s talk about my other favorite thing on the planet: cake.

And combine the two… Banana Cake! Why not?  In fact, this cake was so good it had to be made twice.  It really was THAT good.

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Ok I’ll be honest.  I really made this twice, because the first time around I hated my pictures.  It was a labor of love (or gluttony or vanity?) to make it again, but that just means I know the recipe is extra perfect for you.

I know everyone and their mother has a recipe for banana cake (and no, this is NOT banana bread).

Even if you think it looks similar, trust me.  This is definitely banana cake.  What’s the difference?

Texture.  Banana bread is dense.  This is lighter, and it has an icing.  Icing goes on cake.  True story.

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Epic Banana Bundt Cake

2 cups + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp corn starch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon plus pinch of salt
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 bananas, very ripe and mashed
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 package vanilla instant pudding (3.4 oz)

Icing/Glaze:
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)
1-2 tsp of water for thinning, if necessary
Pre-heat oven to 350F.
In a bowl, sift together flour, corn starch, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Grease and flour a bundt pan (or any other pan you choose to make this in, I’ve also made this in two 9 inch pans, baking times adjusted).
Using a mixer beat together sugar and oil.  Beat in eggs, one at a time until fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Beat in vanilla and bananas.  Start adding some of the flour mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, alternating adding milk.  Once all the flour is in the batter, beat in the instant pudding.  Once combined, pour batter into prepared bundt pan.
Bake 45 minutes.  Then turn the oven down to 325F and continue to bake until golden and cooked through (usually another 15-20 minutes, but this will depend on your oven).  Once fully baked, remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Once cooled, make glaze by combining all ingredients.  The pour glaze over cake.
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I didn’t actually pour, I did the spoon/drizzle method, because I think it looks better than pouring.
Serve and enjoy!
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This cake goes great with a cup of coffee and a good book.  It’s also fantastic served to a friend with a little bit of gossip.
Truth be told, I’m not sure if I’m half monkey or something, but I want to keep making this cake, over and over and over.  It’s a good idea, because I seriously think this might be my new favorite cake.
Stay tuned for lots of good new recipes and other fun things… like maybe some trip planning.  How does that sound?

Cóctel de Camarón: Shrimp! Yes, Please!

So today, was a crazy day.  Ok it totally wasn’t crazy.  I was just exhausted.  I somehow had the bright idea of going to crossfit twice in a 12 hour time span…  I hurt real bad right now. I don’t recommend it.  Give yourself at least 24 hours between workouts.  It’s a good idea.

But work outs aside, today was a bizarre day for me in terms of personal realizations.  Way back when, I used to use SparkPeople to track calories, but I hadn’t logged in for almost a year.  So this morning, I randomly did…

I saw my last log in was after I got back from Italy where I ate my weight (and then some) in Nutella, Pasta and Gelato for nearly 6 months.  Since then, I’ve lost 18 pounds.  That’s kind of a lot on someone who is only 5’3″

I guess getting back home, eating normal meals and exercising a few times a week served me well (even if Paleo didn’t…).

So in honor of the fact that my butt (among other things) shrank, let me tell you about an actual meal (as much as I love cake, it’s not a meal) that is more or less balanced, light and delicious too.

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I would consider this to be moderately healthy.  Depending on what you serve with it that is…

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It involves shrimp, tomatoes, onions and a few splashes of (unhealthy) secret ingredients:

ingredients

Cóctel de Camarón

3 cloves of garlic
1/2 onion, diced
1 lb Shrimp, peel on
2 cups clamato
1-2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp orange soda
2-3 limes
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt
1 Avocado, sliced
Tostadas, for serving

In a blender (I used my magic bullet), blend together 1/4 of an onion  (reserve remaining diced onion) and 3 garlic cloves with some water.  Once it’s smooth, add to a sauce pan.  Fill with water until about 2-3 inches from the top.  Add some salt (or a pinch of bouillon) and bring to a boil.  In the meantime, rinse your shrimp and place in a metal mesh strainer.

Cook shrimp in the broth by dipping the strainer into the broth, like this…

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Once the shrimp is cooked (pink all over, be careful to not overcook), place in a bowl over some ice.  You might have to do this in batches.

Next take about 2 cups of the cooking broth and place in a large bowl.

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Add about 2 cups of clamato, ketchup, lime juice and orange soda.   Be careful, it’s a science.  Taste it along the way to see how it is.

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Stir it all together and set aside.  Next peel your shrimp (alternatively you could peel your shrimp before cooking then put the skins in the broth to help give it more flavor).  Now you’re ready to assemble.

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Start by putting a good amount of diced tomato (1/2 cup?), onions, cilantro and Serrano chili in your bowl.  Then add the shrimp and avocado.  Last pour the broth/clamato mixture over your shrimp.  You want a good amount in there because it gives it great flavor.

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From there, you’re pretty much ready to go.  But don’t forget one important thing…

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A beer.  Because life is all about balance and a cold beer tastes great with this dish.

Serve with tostadas, extra lime, salt and hot sauce (optional).  This will serve 2-3 people.

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Whoever said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach as probably right, but they forgot that the way to a woman’s heart is the same direction.  I wish I could take credit for this, but I can’t.  It was made entirely by an awesome boyfriend who makes ridiculously tasty things.

He makes me generally healthy meals, while I make him cookies and pies.

Clearly, a little bit of both is necessary.  Eat some shrimp and vegetables, as well as some cookies and wine.

What was the last healthy meal you had?

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Until about 5 days ago, I thought “brown butter” was a crock of shit.

I hate to be crass, but let’s be honest, food bloggers are some of the best bullshitters I know.  Don’t worry, I’m include myself in that sweeping comment.

I mean really, we love to make basic things and give them a fancy name that hipsters will repin like crazy and drive traffic to our sites.

Examples:

Chocolate Pudding with Peanut Butter Mousse and Maple Candied Bacon = Chocolate Pudding with stuff sprinkled on it

Spinach-Quinoa-Peach Salad with Honey-Sage Vinaigrette= a salad with fruit and grains

You’re welcome.

I’m just calling it like it is.  And you know what hipsters love?

Butter.  Especially brown butter.

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So for a long time, I avoided anything with brown butter, because it just sounded sort of silly, but then on Friday I was bored and I needed to make dessert for the next day.  So I thought to myself, why not give it a shot?

At worst it, it’s still just a damn cookie.  At best, it’s an amazing cookie.

I won’t lie.  It’s a pretty amazing cookie.

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Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Food and Wine

1 stick of butter
1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips

In a pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Allow to brown, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, transfer to large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.  In the meantime, combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

Once the butter has cooled, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add 1 egg at a time, then vanilla and continue to be beat for about a minute.  Add in flour mixture.  Mix until almost combined. Fold in chocolate chips until dough is just combined.

Place dough in the freezer while oven preheats to 350F.

Once oven has pre-heated, form dough into walnut sized balls.  Place on parchment paper-lined pan and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden around the edges.

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Remove from oven, leave on pan for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack until cool.  Then serve!  This recipe makes about 20-24 small ish cookies.  If you want larger cookies, bake longer and you’ll probably get about 10.

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So I’m going to go ahead and tell you that these are great.

I’m going to swallow my pride and admit I was wrong.  Brown butter is pretty tasty.  They weren’t lying when they said it gives it a nice nutty flavor.

Ok now be a hipster and…

Layer Cakes: Tips, Tricks and Recipes

I love cake. and pie.  Cakes and Pies.

Ok but really I think cakes are awesome.  I also think they’re super labor intensive so I get why people buy them instead of make them, but I really think more people should take up cake making.

This past weekend, I made three layer cakes.

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So from my experience of making three cakes in a row, I wanted to share with you a few tips and tricks to making the perfect layers cakes, along with some of my favorite cake recipes.

1. Use the right cake pans.

I used to have these fancy cake pans from Sur La Table, and I’ll be honest… they sucked.  My cakes were always uneven.  First I thought my oven temperature was just weird, but then I moved and my cakes were still crooked.  So I bought new cake pans.  I bought the cheap Wilton ones at Michael’s (I say cheap because I never walk into that store without a 40% off coupon), and my cakes are perfectly even now.  So my tip: go for aluminum cake pans!

2. Parchment paper IS your friend and always grease and flour your pans.

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Wouldn’t it suck to do all that work and have them stick to the pan?  Yes.  It’s happened to me, and it sucks.

Ever since, I will never make a cake without parchment paper.  Honestly, my least favorite part of making cakes is this step.  I feel like I’m in kindergarten cutting out parchment paper circles.  But it’s a must.  Just do it.

3.  Bake in advance and freeze.

My cakes were all for Saturday and Sunday.  I started baking on Tuesday.  A cake sitting out from Tuesday til Saturday would be dry and gross, but a cake wrapped in parchment paper, double wrapped in plastic wrap then frozen, is still great for the weekend.  The trick is to make sure the cake is completely cooled before you freeze it.  You can flash cool it on a cooling rack in the freezer, but before you wrap it up.  Just make sure it has cooled completely before you wrap it up, if not you’ll get condensation that freezes into ice.  Not cute.

4. A cake without a filling is no fun.

One of the cakes I made was lemon cake with a raspberries and cream filling.  The others were chocolate and banana cakes with peanut butter filling.   Feel free to make your fillings a day or two in advance, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

5. Leveling the cake is important

I finally broke down and bought a cake leveler.  It’s a good idea to level the cakes before you freeze them.  The leveler is basically a metal wire, it’s not super strong and probably won’t cut through a frozen cake.  You can also just use a knife…

6.  ALWAYS do a crumb coat

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A fine layer of frosting before you actually frost is essential.  It holds it all together and prevents you from getting a crumby cake.  If your crumb coat is going on a frozen cake it’s even easier because the crumb coat gets firm faster.  Once you’ve got a crumb coat, stick the cake in the freezer for a few minutes to let the coat harden before you frost.  EXTRA: Put pieces of parchment paper under the cake so you don’t have to worry about a dirty plate/dish.  You just pull out the pieces when you’re done frosting and you have a clean plate/cake circle!

7.  Use a long knife to frost

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I’m not fancy.  My cakes aren’t perfect, but I think they do the job.  I don’t have all those fancy spatulas you can buy to frost cakes.  I use the 8″ slicer knife that came in my knife block.  It’s not serrated and it’s long.  Gets the job done.  A small butter knife makes it hard to get smooth edges all around, so I recommend a long knife.

8.  Use cake circles and boxes

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To make your cakes go from homemade to slightly fancier, go to Michael’s or any cake supply store and buy cardboard cake circles and a box.  I took one of the cakes to a restaurant and the waitress was surprised to find it was homemade.  On that note, if you go to a birthday dinner at a restaurant, call ahead and make sure they don’t charge you to cut the cake.  I had heard of corkage fees but never of cake cutting fees.  Apparently it’s a thing in Hollywood.  Just saying.

Remember, no matter what your cake looks like, it should taste great.  So on that note, here are some of my favorite cake recipes:

  • Hershey’s Chocolate Cake: This is my go to chocolate cake recipe.  I follow it exactly and it never fails.
  • Epicurious Banana Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting: This recipe is great!  I make a few changes everytime, usually adding more liquid.  Today, I made a super variation of it, blog post on that coming soon!
  • Epicurious Moist Yellow Cake (I easily turn this into a lemon cake by replacing half buttermilk with lemon juice, adding some lemon zest and a pack of lemon jello instant pudding)
  • Rum Layer Cake:  This cake is probably one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever made.  Everyone loves it.  It’s just plain tasty.

As for fillings, which per #2 is essential, get creative.  Here are some ideas I love:

  • Mix lemon curd with cream cheese and whipped cream for a quick and delicious lemon mousse filling.  Throw some fresh raspberries in the mix and it’s a perfect filling for a lemon cake.
  • Chocolate Ganache is always a winner.  Try adding orange zest or passionfruit puree to it to spice up your normal chocolate cake
  • Whipped Cream: Sometimes you just need simplicity.  Whipped cream in the middle of a fluffy cake is divine.  Try it.
  • Mix peanut butter, cream cheese, condensed milk and whipped cream for a delicious peanut butter mousse filling.  Oh. My. Goodness.  Amazing.  Just try it.

Remember these tips next time a birthday, party, holiday rolls around.  Making cakes doesn’t have to be crazy hard.  It can be super fun!

What’s your favorite cake combination?

I’m currently a huge fan of banana cake with peanut butter filling and cream cheese frosting!