how about some toffee cake to go along with that coffee

Hey, busy week, it’s almost the weekend. How about some cake to go with all that coffee you’ve been drinking? SKOR. I made a coffee cake (used dark brown sugar, less vanilla, all purpose white flour–once used whole wheat and not nearly the same) and topped it with chunks of SKOR (3 bars). Baking and hammering candy bars are therapeutic over here. For nostalgia, I dug up this photo that documents my first taste of coffee. We made homemade doughnuts on Sundays every now and then, and my dad let me drink out of his mug that time. Which reminds me – it’s almost jacket season! Now, where can I find an awesome purple windbreaker in my grownup size?

dubliner cheese & thyme crackers with tomato soup

I benefited from my co-worker Zora’s tomato abundance yesterday!  I made some soup and thought it was a great time to try out a cheese cracker recipe I’d been holding onto, Ina Garten’s Parmesan & Thyme Crackers.  I thought about using pecorino romano  (because I prefer the sharpness and can’t get enough salty sheep’s milk cheese), but when I was at the cheese case I spotted Dubliner and knew that was what I wanted to use.  The sweetness of the cheese complemented the fragrance of the thyme and balanced the acidity of the tomato.  When these crackers are baking they smell like cheese straws, but when they come out of the oven they melt in your mouth.  Simple and tasty.

interaction of cupcakes

Sprinkles in Chicago this weekend: both the kind that come from the sky and the kind that come from the cupcake gods!  When I realized that we were going to stay two blocks from the latest Sprinkles location, I flipped out.  I have been following Candace Nelson since she first appeared on TV six years ago, and now her original gourmet cupcakes are baked fresh in the Midwest.  So before we left I requested to make a cupcake stop during one of our days in the city, and my brother-in-law said, “why not both days!”  And even though there was rain, we totally did stop both days (yes, one of the million examples of why I have the best bro-in-law ever).  Of course I like the looks of the colored flavor-indicating sugar dots, but these cupcakes are about the ingredients.  They are not too fussy and have proven to be a trendy classic.  My top two were the carrot and the chocolate marshmallow.  The ganache covering that cupcake will be on my mind for quite some time.  I love the rain and fresh chocolate marshmallow cake.

skillets and smoothies slow tempo

I went out of town with my sister’s family over the weekend to visit the Museum of Science and Industry and see a baseball game before my nephew starts kindergarten this week.  The rain and cooler temperatures were to our advantage, and we enjoyed every minute in the Windy City.  Yesterday we filled up with breakfast on the patio at Tempo’s on State & Chestnut.  I ordered a Michigan Omelette (cheddar and apples!) and liked the atmosphere that was busy & laid back at the same time.  It’s not so hard to wait for malted pancakes if you have a fruit smoothie to keep you occupied!

stochastic summer

Not much to say, just sifting through some photos from the season. The temperature got down to the 6o’s last night, and I am giddy for the weekend and the fall season, my favorite. Wishing you random happiness.

first sunday in august

When I was in the sixth grade I wrote a poem about my family reunion for Language Arts class.  It started out, “The first Sunday in August, before the weather is cool, our destination is a place past old Scott Center School.”  The poem goes on to describe what I came to expect at our annual Covell-Beck gathering, including black raspberry jam, corn-on-the-cob, and scalloped potatoes.  20 years later, loved ones have passed and new generations have grown, and I still look forward to the food!  This year the reunion included a fitting memorial service for my beloved Great Uncle Bill in the family plot.  I got to spend time with family from Texas, New Jersey, California, Michigan and Virginia.  I even caught myself saying, “I remember when you were just a little thing,” like people used to say to me.  Auction and fire may have claimed the family houses, but we still meet on the farm past old Scott Center School where memories and laughter remain.  Now because of the tradition, new memories are born.

my favorite monsters

When I found out that my nephew liked these Monster Pops molds I had to get them for him for his birthday. Many healthful and gourmet popsicle recipes do exist, but today I celebrate the tried and true Kool-Aid popsicle. It’s good to be a kid and make monster faces and run around the yard eating icy sweetness. In the words of Kool-Aid Man, “Oh, yeah!”

lemon raspberry chocolate birthday

I was flattered when asked to bake a cake for my dear friend Mary’s 30th birthday back porch celebration.  I asked for her top 5 ingredients, and she said, “lemon and raspberry would be on the list, possibly strawberry or coconut. Usually chocolate, but it’s so-oo hot that fruit is on the brain.”  I found a hot pink raspberry cake recipe, then I was told about this lovely lemon yogurt cake recipe.  Why not both?  I added frozen raspberries to one of the layers of the undoubtedly light and fresh lemon cakes, and topped it with raspberry cream cheese frosting.  The hot pink cake turned into mini-cupcakes with dark chocolate buttercream.  The evening was filled with deliciousness (her husband makes homemade breads! and they made those nuts I can’t stop eating).  The birthday girl was aglow.