Friday, August 31, 2012

Power Food Fridays: Black Bean Burgers

Hello Spatularette fans! I'm Pam... the third wheel in the awesome trifecta friendship that is; Meghan (tall one), Laura (small one) and me :) The three of us met in college and we ran cross country and track together. Their friendship means so much to me... when we are together the laughs never stop and they are a support unit unlike any other.

the trifecta @ the 2012 ODDessy Half Marathon in Philly 
Meghan recently came up with the awesome idea of "Power Food Fridays" highlighting those special recipes that keep runners like us full and fueled for our long runs and training weeks. With my commitment to running the Philadelphia Marathon on November 18th on the books, Meghan has been my #1 support. As a runner I know the value in eating right and giving in to those cravings for the "sweetsies," but marathon training has gotten me more and more keyed into my body and what it needs to run my best. The Spatularettes invited me to do a guest post on a recipe I love to make for an easy dinner that reheats perfectly for weekday lunches. I bring you: the Black Bean Burger!

What makes this recipe so great is that you can make these burgers with whatever veggies/beans/grains you have laying around. It's that perfect budget meal while you wait for your next paycheck, but a healthy one! These are the staple ingredients I always use:
to "rice" cauliflower, simply pulse in the
food processor for a few seconds

1 can of beans (I usually use 1/2 black & 1/2 cantellini)
1/2 a red onion
1/2 cup of diced bell peppers
1 Tablespoon of chopped garlic
1 Tablespoon of cumin
1 Tablespoon of chili powder (if you know me I use 2)
Dash of hot sauce (optional)
3/4 cup of Panko breadcrumbs
1 egg (I prefer 3T of liquid egg whites)

Here's where it gets fun... you can add to this recipe with anything. I've used 1/2 cup of peas, 1/2 cup of quinoa, 1/2 cup of riced cauliflower, 1/2 cup of chopped carrots, 1/2 cup of mushrooms, etc. (get why it's good for using up those scrap veggies you didn't use earlier in the week??)

burger patties awaiting the oven!
Directions: Drain/rinse beans and pour into a large bowl. Mash with a fork or a potato masher. Add chopped veggies and garlic. Add your seasonings into the bowl and mix all together. Pour in your liquid egg whites/crack an egg. The eggs are your binder to make patty making easier, so blend well. Form mixture into 4 patties (depending on how thick you'd like). Bake at 375 degree for about 35 minutes (spray tray with light olive oil and a light coat on top of the burgers, too). I'm not one for cheese, so I top my bean burgers with sliced avocado, lettuce, etc!

Here is my finished product! Like I said, this is a great meal for dinner but I reheat leftover with some frozen veggies for work throughout the week.

I also had some time that evening and made homemade pita bread. Hopefully I'll be back to guest blog soon and I can include this amazing recipe for whole wheat pitas. Super easy to make and great for clean eating (makes about 8 pitas).

Hope you guys enjoy! xo

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Peach Pie Milk Shake

The local burger joints around Philly are doing this new thing that we find absolutely inspiring!  No, it's not a new burger topping, or some exotic meat or veggie variation, or specialty French fries (although we do find these things inspiring).  But the thing that really caught the attention of The Spatularettes is the Fruit Pie Milkshake.  Yeah, you heard me correctly, but in case you missed it, I said FRUIT PIE MILKSHAKE.  Woah.  There is a brilliant someone out there hopefully making a lot of money for that idea!  And what better recipe could there be to try the day after making a homemade peach pie!?  These milkshakes take about 2 seconds to make but taste gourmet!  Fast and fancy... doesn't get much better than that!

-2 cups vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt
-1 cup of milk
-1 piece of peach (or other fruit) pie
-Whipped cream

Combine the ice cream and the milk in a blender and run on medium speed until almost smooth.  Add the slice of pie (we used 1 serving, so about 1/8 of an whole pie) and continue to blend on medium speed until smooth.  Pour into two glasses and top with whipped cream.  Garnish with a sprinkling of pie  crust and a slice of fresh peach.

These shakes would also be delicious if made with cherry pie, blueberry pie, apple pie... any pie really!

Tall One

Monday, August 27, 2012

Peach Pie (For Dummies)

In case you haven't noticed we've done a whole lot of baking this year.  There have been cupcakes, brownies, cookies, muffins, and layer cakes.  But after all of that, we decided it was time to tackle something  new... something that has always been a bit scary to us... the fruit pie!  To be honest, Tall One has never made a fruit pie before and Small One only has a handful of times.  So we turned to some of our favorite bloggers (Smitten Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman) for some helpful hints.  And after a few of trial runs, we think we've got it down!  So this is it.  Peach Pie For Dummies.  If we can do it, you can do it.  Seriously!  The peaches are so fresh and amazing right now, you absolutely must give this one a try!


-2 1/2 cups flour
-pinch of salt
-1 1/2 Tbs sugar
-1 cup (2 sticks) of cold butter
-3 Tbs ice water

-1 egg white
-1/2 Tbs sugar

-4 cups sliced peaches (about 8 peaches, depending on the size)
-2 Tbs instant tapioca (more or less depending on the juiciness of the fruit)
-1/3 cup granulated sugar
-1/3 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, combine the flour, pinch of salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fit with a steel blade.  Pulse the processor a few times to combine the dry ingredients.  Leave the butter in the refrigerator until you are ready to add it.  At that time, cut it into small cubes and put it in the food processor.  Use the pulse button to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.  Continue pulsing until small pebble-like bits are formed.  Add the water, 1 Tbs at a time.  Pulse the food processor after each addition and stop as soon as a dough begins to form.  Depending on the weather you may need more or less water.  Just be careful not to add too much, or you will be left with a sticky mess.  If you don't have a food processor, the dough can be made just as easily with a hand held pastry cutter.  Refrigerate the dough until ready to use.

To make the filling, start by removing the skins, pits and stems from 8 peaches.  If the fruit is ripe, this can easily be done with a paring knife.  Slice each peach into approximately 8 wedges and set aside.  In another bowl combine the granulated sugar and the brown sugar.  If the peaches aren't very sweet, you may want to use 1/2 cup of each sugar instead of the 1/3 cup called for in this recipe.  It really is a judgment call on how sweet you like your pie. 

To assemble the pie, start be separating the dough into two equal pieces.  Roll the first piece out to 1/8 inch thickness on a well floured surface.  Another great trick for rolling dough is to place it between two sheets of waxed paper when rolling.  Gently lay the sheet of dough into a 9 inch pie pan and press it into the bottom and the sides, making sure it hits all of the creases.  Excess dough should spill over the edges of the pan.

Sprinkle a Tbs of instant tapioca into the bottom of the crust.  Tapioca can be found in the baking aisle of just about any grocery store and it really is the magic trick for keeping a pie from being a runny mess.  If the peaches are very juicy, use a heaping Tbs of tapioca, but if they aren't very ripe, go easy on the tapioca.  I wish there was a scientific formula for this, but it really just takes some practice.  Top the tapioca with half of the peaches and half of the sugar.  Sprinkle another Tbs (more or less depending on the peaches) of tapioca over the sugar and top with the reaming peaches and sugar.

If you want to make a basic two layer crust, simply roll the remaining dough into a 1/8 inch thick sheet and top the pie.  Use your fingers to seal the edges and cut a small 'x' in the center of the pie to let out the steam.  I  prefer the lattice topped pie though, and it is surprisingly easy to do!

Roll the remaining pie dough into a large 1/8 inch thick sheet on a well floured surface or between two pieces of waxed paper.  Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into ten long strips.  Begin laying the strips of dough over the pie, weaving them as you go.  We find that this works best when you start with a vertical strip on the left followed by a horizontal strip on top.

Add another vertical strip, this time tucking it under the first horizontal strip.  Add the next horizontal strip.  Layer it under the first vertical strip and over the second vertical strip.

Continue the over/under/over pattern, first by adding another vertical strip and then another horizontal one.  You will be surprised how quickly and easily you create a beautiful lattice crust!  Use your fingers to seal the edges of the crust and trim off the excess dough.  Brush egg white on to the top crust and sprinkle with 1/2 Tbs of sugar.

Bake for 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown and the fruit filling is hot and bubbly.  Let the pie cool (if you can resist) before cutting.  Serve with ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Check back all week for more great peach recipes!!

Tall One

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Homemade Salsa

The theme this week for the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange hosted by Gimme Some Oven and Bake Your Day is All Time Favorite Tomato Recipes.  All time favorite is a tough call to meet, so it really got me thinking.  In truth, there was a period of time as a child that I didn't even like tomatoes.  I would eat them, because my parents wouldn't let me have dessert until I cleaned my plate, but I definitely wasn't a fan.  The one tomato dish that I have always been a fan of though, is SALSA!  There are so many different varieties that it never gets boring.  I especially love making homemade salsa in the summertime when all of the required ingredients are super inexpensive and oh-so-fresh!  So when I was invited to a lakeside picnic this weekend, I knew just the thing to bring!

-1 lb ripe tomatoes
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 small red onion, finely chopped
-1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped
-1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
-Juice of one lime
-1 tsp kosher salt

In a large bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, garlic, onion, jalapeno and cilantro.  This will make a nice mild salsa, so if you want some kick add another jalapeno or throw in some of the seeds.  Squeeze the juice of one lime over the veggies and toss in the salt.  If you are using table salt as opposed to kosher salt, only use 1/2 tsp.  Use a wooden spoon to toss everything together and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving so the flavors have a chance to marry.

For the picnic I just served this salsa with some blue corn tortilla chips, but it is also terrific when added to eggs or on top of grilled chicken.  This week's recipe exchange is sponsored by Recipes For Change and The Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker so we suggest checking those sites out as well!

Summertime is salsa time!!

Tall One

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Power Foods Friday - Vegan Breakfast Bars

Power Foods Friday is actually Power Foods Saturday this week.  I was out of town for work, so I didn't get a chance to write this week's recipe up until this morning.

When I go away for work, things usually get started pretty early in the morning, so the meeting hosts typically provide breakfast.  As per usual, the complimentary breakfast consisted mostly of heavy pastries.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE breakfast pastries, but they aren't really the power food I'm looking for when I'm trying to balance a busy week of meetings and marathon training.  So before I left for Indiana, I whipped up a batch of these breakfast bars and brought them along in my carry on.  They are under 200 calories a bar, but really fill you up!  With a homemade breakfast bar, a banana, and a lot of coffee, I was revved up all week to tackle my miles and my meetings!

So what makes these guys vegan?  I decided to sub chia seeds for the butter and the eggs which slices the fat, cholesterol, and calories while amping up the fiber and nutrients.  I'm actually new to the whole chia trend, but if you want to learn more, read about them here

-1 1/2 Tbs Chia seeds
-3/4 cup water
-2 Tbs agave sweetener
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/4 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup whole wheat flour
-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1 1/2 cups whole oats
-1/2 cup of raisins
-1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x9 square baking pan with parchment paper.

Start by making chia gel.  The chia rule of thumb is 1 Tbs of seeds per 1/2 cup of water, so in this case measure 3/4 Tbs of chia seeds into a liquid measuring cup and then fill it to the 3/4 cup line with water.  Allow the seeds to saturate in the water for 10-15 minutes, mixing vigorously with a fork every few minutes.  The seeds will begin to expand with the water and a gel will form.  Its not the most appetizing sight, but trust me, its a great base for these bars.

When the chia gel is ready, pour it into a large bowl and add the agave sweetener (a great natural alternative to sugar), the vanilla, and the brown sugar.  Mix with a wooden spoon until the sugar is evenly incorporated. Measure the whole wheat flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder directly into the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon just until combined.  It is very important not to over-mix so your bars don't come out tough.  Finally fold in the oats, raisins, and dark chocolate chips until the all of the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Dump the entire mixture into the prepared baking pan and use the back of the wooden spoon to push it into the edges and corners of the pan and to smooth the top.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes.  Allow the bars to cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Once cooled, slice into 8 bars with a large knife.  Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Power up your morning!  Power up your week!

Tall One

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Chocolate Moose

The tag line for our blog is "join us on our journey through love and the kitchen." So far we have told you a lot about the kitchen and next to nothing about love. Well I'm here to tell you that I've fallen in love. Deeply in love. With the greatest ice cream I've ever tasted.

I've spent the last week in Bloomington , IN (home of Indiana University) for work and thanks to Yelp reviews discovered the perfect little ice cream shack. Honestly, I want to load The Chocolate Moose into a semi truck and drive it back to Philly with me tomorrow.

I don't know what makes this ice cream so good. Maybe it's the homemade flavors. Maybe it's the cheap prices. Maybe it's that they have been serving sweet treats since 1933. Or maybe it's the shop's mission statement: "What are most people looking for today? Love, security, stability? We are all in search of something in this life. At The Chocolate Moose we may not have the answers to the world's problems, but we do have one thing: the ability to help you set all that aside and just... taste."

Clearly they get that there is more to ice cream than just the ingredients.

So if you ever find yourself in Bloomington, IN be sure to stop by The Chocolate Moose on 4th and Walnut. Order 2 scoops. One of Grasshopper (mint oreo) and one of Moose Dream (chocolate peanut butter with peanut butter cups).

This is not just ice cream my friends... this is LOVE.

Tall One

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eggplant Parm Pizza

I absolutely love making homemade pizza.  Love.  It.  So this week when Gimme Some Oven and Bake Your Day announced the theme for the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange was pizza, I went a little crazy.  Did you check out yesterday's recipe for Naked Tomato Sauce and Boardwalk Pizza yet?

One of the best things about homemade pizza is that it gives you there versatility and creativity to reinvent other great dishes.  I've tried tons of different combinations but this week I tackled Eggplant Parm and the results were phenomenal!

-1/2 small egg plant
-2 Tbs olive oil
-1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp kosher salt
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/2 Tbs of dried Italian herbs
-1 egg + splash of milk
-Pizza dough, homemade or store bought
-Cornmeal for sprinkling
-3/4 cup pizza sauce (try our Naked Tomato Sauce)
-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
-1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
-Fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

To prepare the eggplant, slice it into 1/4 inch rounds and set aside.  In a medium sized bowl combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and Italian herbs with a fork.  In a small bowl beat together the egg and splash of milk.  Dip each piece of eggplant into the egg and then immediately into the bread crumb mixture, making sure it is well coated on both sides.  Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the egg plants for about 4 minutes on each side.  They should be crispy on the outside and pretty soft on the inside.

While the eggplant is cooking, start by sprinkling a little bit of cornmeal on a baking sheet to reduce sticking. Then roll the pizza dough nice and flat and top it with the sauce, cheese, and torn basil.  After removing the eggplant from the skillet, place them on top of the pizza as well.  Finish it off by shredded fresh Parmesan cheese over the whole pie.  Bake in a 500 degree oven for about 12 minutes or until the bottom is crisp and the cheese is well melted.

What is your favorite dinner-turned-pizza?

Tall One

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Naked Tomato Sauce and Boardwalk Pizza

Naked Tomato Sauce?  Boardwalk Pizza?  Huh?

This week's theme on the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange hosted by Gimme Some Oven, Bake Your Day, and Recipes for Change is pizza!  We are super excited because the give-away this week is an incredible Premium Pizza Making Kit from Pizza Home Chef.  (cross your fingers that we win!!!)  We are also super excited because pizza happens to be one of The Spatularettes' all time favorite foods!

So back to the questions... what is naked tomato sauce?  And what is boardwalk pizza?

The tomatoes are so sweet and flavorful and ripe this time of year, that I wanted to make a sauce with as few additional ingredients as possible.  I wanted to strip it down and let all that natural fresh tomato goodness shine through.  Hence the word naked.

Boardwalk pizza on the other hand is a relatively new concept to me.  Where I am from, pizza is pretty much pizza and it almost always comes for a chain.  In Philly though, pizza is a subculture in itself.  There are so many little local joints that specialize in a zillion different styles of pies.  One of my favorite styles is found in the pizza shops down the shore.  Hence the word boardwalk.  They are sort of like an upside-down cheese pizza.  Instead of spreading the sauce first, the cheese is actually sprinkled directly on the dough and the sauce is swirled on top before baking.  They also serve this pizza at Small One and my favorite late night eatery in Philadelphia, where we fondly named it "stripey pizza" for the appearance of stripes of sauce and cheese on the individual slices.  It doesn't matter if you call it boardwalk or stripey, we promise you will call it delicious!


-2 1/2 - 3 lbs fresh, ripe tomatoes (I used a mixture of Roma and Beefsteak)
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Tbs olive oil
-1 - 2 tsp salt

-Pizza dough
-1/2 cup pizza sauce
-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

To make the sauce, you'll need to start by skinning and seeding the tomatoes.  The best way to skin a tomato is to boil it for a few seconds.  Put a pot of water on the stove to boil.  Meanwhile, use a knife to slice a small "X" into the bottom of each tomato.  When the water is boiling, add the tomatoes, submerging them completely.  Allow them to float around for about 30 seconds and then remove them with a slotted spoon.  The skin should already be peeling off and you can pull the rest off with your fingers.  Let the tomatoes cool until they are easy to handle.  Cut them into quarters and use your fingers to remove and dispose of the seeds and excess juices inside.

Heat the Tbs of olive oil over medium heat in a large pan on the stove top.  Add the minced garlic and cook it for a minute or two before adding all of the tomatoes.  Let everything cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.  Cover the pan and continue to let the tomatoes cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.  Every 10 minutes, remove the lid and try to break the tomatoes up a little bit with the wooden spoon.  They will slowly soften and start to break down.  After a half hour, transfer the tomatoes to a food processor fit with a steel blade.  Pulse the sauce until almost smooth, but still the slightest bit chunky.  Pour the sauce back into the pan and continue to cook, uncovered for another 15 minutes, allowing it to thicken up a bit more.  And that, my friends, is Naked Tomato Sauce.

To make Boardwalk Pizza, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Start with your favorite store bought or homemade pizza dough.  We like this one from Smitten Kitchen.  Sprinkle some cornmeal on your baking pan to avoid sticking then roll out the dough nice and flat and top it with 1 cup of shredded cheese.  Fill a pastry piping bag with pizza sauce and snip off the tip.  Carefully swirl the sauce over the cheese making a spiral pattern on your pizza.  Bake for about 12 minutes or until the bottom is crispy and the cheese is melted.

Tomato Love and Pizza Love.  This is a good week!!

Tall One

Friday, August 17, 2012

Power Food Friday - Breakfast Sandwiches At Home

We've mentioned it before, but in case you forgot, Small One and I ran college cross country and track together.  In many ways, running has always been the center of our friendship as well as the catalyst for many of our other friendships.  Because of a string of injuries, Small One hasn't done a whole lot of running since graduation. That all changed though when our friend Pam and I talked her into signing up for a half marathon on a whim last spring.  (remember?) The fitness peer pressure has continued because I just convinced Pam to sign up for her first full marathon and she in turn persuaded Small One to sign up for another half.  And to round out the trifecta, I'll be joining them at the starting line in Philadelphia this November.  To top off the craziness, I'll also be running the Marine Corps Marathon the last weekend of October.

With all of this marathon training ahead of us, we also have a lot of eating ahead of us.  We thought it would be fun to bring you Power Food Fridays every week until the race.  We will keep you posted on how the training is going, and on what we're eating to stayed fueled and fit!

Our first Power Food Friday recipe is Breakfast Sandwiches At Home.  They really are super simple to make and way healthier than something you'll pick up at your local fast food joint.  Packed with protein these breakfast sandwiches are the perfect recovery food after a morning workout!

-1 English muffin, sliced and toasted
-1 Tbs of chopped greens or veggies
-3 Tbs of liquid egg whites  (or the white of 1 egg)
-1 slice of turkey bacon, fried
-1 slice of low fat cheese
-Salt and Pepper

**Ingredients are for one sandwich.  I like to prepare the eggs and the bacon at the beginning of the week and then just zap them in the microwave before work in the morning.  It's a hot breakfast in seconds!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the eggs, grease a muffin tin for each sandwich.  Place 1 Tbs of chopped vegetables or greens (here I used spinach) in each cup.  Top the veggies with a little bit of salt and pepper then add 3 Tbs of liquid egg whites.  Bake the eggs for 10 minutes.  Remove them from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of each egg and use a fork to gently remove them from the tin.

Toast the English muffin and top with a slice of cheese, the prepared egg whites, and a slice of turkey bacon. I used reduced fat English muffins which ring these breakfast sandwiches in at under 250 calories.  I like to enjoy them with some coffee and a Greek yogurt for a high protein breakfast after my morning run.  Often times I'm racing out the door in the morning, so I just wrap my sandwich in foil and take it with me!

Here's to food that fuels your fitness!

Tall One

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Funfetti Cake (from scratch!)

Every office has the cake girl.  You know, the person who brings in goodies and everyone blames them for ruining their diet.  This isn't exactly going to come as a shock, but I'm the cake girl of my office.  Someone needs to test out my recipes before they get posted on The Spatularettes and as a single gal I don't exactly want 2 dozen cupcakes sitting around my apartment... because I will eat them... ever. last. one.  Anywhooooo, one of my favorite things to bake for is office birthdays.  The reality of life is that we spend more time with our coworkers in a given week than with our friends and loved ones, so it sure is nice when you can appreciate and even *gasp* LIKE the people you work with.  I've been blessed with a truly fantastic group of coworkers and it's fun to celebrate with each other from time to time.  Today happened to be a big day because we had not one, but TWO office birthdays.

I had really great intentions of making a cheesecake with homemade salted caramel topping and dark chocolate drizzle.  Sounds amazing right?  Well it is.  But it's also quite time consuming.  This week somehow (as my life often does) turned chaotic, so I decided to make something just as nice, but a little less involved.  Nothing says birthday quite like funfetti and this recipe I adapted from Annie's Eats turned out to be just what I was after.  It's quick.  It's easy.  It's fun.  I'd even go so far as to call borderline elegant.  And the birthday guy and girl?  Well they loved it, so I think you will too!


-12 Tbs (stick and a half) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-3/4 cup of liquid egg whites or 6 large egg whites
-1 1/2 Tbs vanilla extract
-2 3/4 cups flour
-1 Tbs plus 1 tsp.baking powder
-3/4 tsp salt
-1 cup milk
-1/2 cup multi-colored sprinkles (I used those little, hard flat ones, but jimmies will work well too)

Whipped Frosting:
-1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbs (3 sticks plus 2 Tbs) butter, at room temperature
-3 cups powdered sugar
-Pinch of salt
-2 Tbs heavy cream
-1 Tbs vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare two 9 inch round baking pans by greasing, flouring, and lining with parchment paper.  I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Do not skip the parchment paper step.  You might get lucky and see your cake slide out easily without it, but I wouldn't take my chances.  Definitely not worth the headache in my opinion.

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter for about 30 seconds.  Add the sugar and continue to beat until well mixed.  About 30 seconds more.  Add the egg whites and mix on low speed until well combined.  You will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together into a bowl.  Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk (about a 1/3 of each at a time) mixing and scraping the bowl after each addition.  Once all ingredients have been added, beat the batter on medium speed for about a minute and a half.  Fold in the sprinkles with a spatula.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow the cakes to cool for about 10 minutes before removing them from the pans.  Let them cool completely on a wire rack before decorating.

I've never made a whipped frosting before but this will definitely be my go to recipe from now on. (Thanks Annie!!)  It is incredibly light and airy and spreads beautifully when decorating.

To make the frosting, fit your a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat room temperature butter for about 30 seconds or until smooth.  Add all 3 cups of the powdered sugar and the pinch of salt to the bowl and mix on medium speed until it is incorporated into the butter, scraping the sides of the bowl if needed.  Turn the speed up a bit and beat the butter and sugar for another minute.  Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix on low speed until they are well combined.  Scrape down the side of the bowl with a spatuala again to make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated.  Finally crank up the speed to high and whip the frosting for 4-5 minutes.  Turn the mixer off once or twice during this process to scrape down the sides of the bowl again.  You'll be impressed as you watch the frosting turn into a beautiful white cloud of deliciousness.  Chill the whipped buttercream for a few minutes if needed before frosting your cake.  This recipe makes the perfect amount to frost a layer cake with some leftover for decorating!

Celebrate we will!!

Tall One

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy Anniversary Philadelphia!!

My senior year of college I made a list of all the places I would be willing to relocate upon graduation.  I had no intentions of moving back to my small hometown, so I wasn't feeling very particular about where I went, as long as it was a city.  There were a good 15 cities on that list.  Philadelphia was not one of them.  Philadelphia was not even one of the alternates.  But sure enough, my one and only "real job" offer came from The City Of Brotherly Love and when you graduate smack dab in the midst of the biggest economic crisis since The Great Depression, you can't exactly say no to a job offer.  So on August 15, 2009 I filled my tiny car with all of my possessions, loaded up my parent's pickup with hand-me-down furniture and I made the move to the other end of the PA turnpike.  I had no money.  I had no friends.  And I had no idea if I would actually like my job.  I was a small town girl plopped down in America's 5th largest city.  A little fish in a big pond does not even begin to describe it.   I just kept thinking, what on earth am I doing?!

As is often the case, life has a funny way of surprising us and slowly but surely Philadelphia started to feel like home.  That first year I was very conscious to appreciate all the little milestones.  I remember checking my bank account the second I woke up to make sure my first pay check was really there.  I remember  the first time I drove to and from work without my GPS and the first time I took the train into center city.  I remember the first Sunday that I visited my church and feeling like I had found a place where I could belong. I remember the 2009 World Series when some co-workers (now my very dear friends) invited me out to watch a game.  I remember the first time I got to travel for work, the first time I ran on Kelly Drive, the first time I went out in Manayunk, and the first time I went down the shore.  As silly as each little accomplishment was, I secretly celebrated.  I had made it another day with my head above water.  Before I knew it 12 months had flown by and it was already my 1 year anniversary in Philly.  That, I decided, was something worth celebrating out loud, a tradition I continued on my second and third anniversaries as well.  And what better way to lay another milestone than with this city's finest local cuisine!

Fresh baked from the factory for my co-workers

Pat's King Of Steaks - Wiz Wit
Rita's Water Ice (not Italian Ice)

I'm sure you've heard that old saying If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans.  Well I'm pretty sure whoever said that was talking about me.  I'm into making plans and knowing the details, but if the last 3 years have taught me anything it is that I need to stop planning so much and just enjoy the ride!

This post is for you PHILADELPHIA.  To three fabulous years and many more to come!!

Tall One.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Favorite Summer Salad

What is the recipe for a perfect summer Sunday?

For me it is waking up early enough to eat a good breakfast, teaching Sunday School to a group of 4 year olds, attending a particularly good worship service at church, a long brunch at Avenida, curling up on the couch to watch a movie with friends, a long run on Kelly Drive as day turns to night, and eating my favorite summer salad for dinner when I finally make it home at 9:30.

So what is the recipe for my favorite summer salad?

-Red Onion
-Feta Cheese
-Balsamic Reduction

Top a bed of arugula with diced strawberries, very thinly sliced red onion, and crumbled feta cheese.  Drizzle the salad with homemade balsamic reduction instead of a fatty salad dressing.  That's it my friends.

Never made homemade balsamic reduction before?  Well guess what, it's super easy to do!  Simply pour an entire 16 oz bottle of balsamic vinegar into a saucepan on the stove top.  Heat the vinegar just until it boils, and then immediately turn the heat down to a simmer.  Continue to simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The 16 oz will cook down to about 4 oz, thickening as it reduces.  Keep a close eye on the vinegar once it gets thick, stirring more often to avoid burning.  The desired consistency is very syrupy and will stick to the back of a wooden spoon.  The flavor is a sweeter, bolder version of the raw balsamic vinegar.  Pour the reduction into a small mason jar or other airtight container for storage.

At first glance this salad may seem too simple, but trust me when  I say it is perfect!  The flavors of the peppery arugula, sweet berries, sharp onions, creamy cheese, and bold dressing compliment each other so well that the addition of any other ingredients will only detract from taste of summer in each bite.

Here's to ending the weekend the right way!!  ...and a little something to help you get back into the weekly grind.

Tall One