I designed a cookbook!

This semester I was in a book design class at Emerson. Our project for the entire year was to create a book of our choice, start to finish. At first, I wasn't sure what to do but it dawned upon me at some point that a cookbook would be the perfect project. I originally had a lame idea to do a modern version of a really old cookbook with funny quotes and pictures from sassy housewives. I had no inspiration design wise and wasn't into the project at all. Then one day I was on Bree Hester's blog and thought about what a beautiful cookbook it would make. I emailed her and she agreed to send me photos from her blog and gave her permission for me to start work on the book. 

I spent the entire semester on this project and in the end it turned out to be something I'm extremely proud of! I'm in the process of getting it printed to use as part of my portfolio. Bree is the reason I started this blog, her photography and love of food are spilled all over the pages of her blog. Check it out bakedbree.com

Attached is the link to my cookbook!! Let me know what you think of it, the recipes in it are fabulous! To view it, you'll have to click on the link (or copy and paste it) and download the PDF. It won't show a preview on google docs because the file is too big, but once it is downloaded you should be able to see it. I hope you all enjoy!


Coffee Cake

My sister Brie really wanted coffee cake the other day. We had a box of mix but I was feeling ambitious and bored so I decided to make it from scratch. Lately I've had so much time on my hands all I do is think about what I'll cook and when I'll run. (I'm trying to run a 5k this summer but all the food I've been shoving in my mouth is slowing me down). So I embarked on my coffee cake journey, pulled a recipe from my mom's Good Housekeeping Cookbook and crossed my fingers. I'm a little weary about sour cream in sweet things because of a bad childhood experience with sour cream frosting. Since then, I avoid ALL sour cream frosting and think twice about why it should be in a cake. It wasn't what I was expecting, it was more like a twist on what I think coffee cake really is. (Oh, and you can't taste the sour cream, obviously)

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small bowl, combine nuts, cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar; set aside. (I skipped walnuts because Brie doesn't like them). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a bundt pan, or whichever pan you'd like to use.

 In a large bowl with at mixer at medium speed, beat 1 cup sugar with butter until light and fluffy.
 Add remaining ingredients. Beat at low speed until blended, constantly scraping the bowl.
 At medium speed, beat 3 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. Three minutes felt like a long time to me but I just kept beating.
 Spread half the batter in the pan. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon mixture and repeat layers. I only did one layer but I recommend doing more than one. I wished it were more cinnamon-y (I just made that word up).
 Top the cake off with the rest of the cinnamon mixture. Bake 60-65 minutes until the cake pulls away from the sie of the pan. Cool for 10 minutes, loosen the edges and invert the pan onto a rack to cool.
 It was definitely different than a box coffee cake mix. I found the cake to be sweeter (which I liked) but I was craving that cinnamon crumble the box mix gives. I didn't even wait to take a picture of the whole cake before I cut a piece for myself. Yum, enjoy!

Pizza Bianca

I'm gearing up for my trip to Italy next year with this pizza bianca, they would probably laugh at this pizza in Italy but I liked it, so that's all that matters. I got this recipe from Everyday Food and it was a lot yummier than I expected. We were looking for a quick dinner and my mom loves white pizza. Honestly, I would never order a white pizza from a restaurant but I figured I'd give it a shot at home seeing as I clearly wouldn't starve if I didn't like it. Don't worry, I did. My dad on the other hand, "wah I don't like white pizza wahhh." The girls finished the whole thing.

all purpose flour for dusting 
1/3 cup grated parmesan
2 ounces baby arugula
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I didn't use shredded)
1 pound pizza dough
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly dust a work surface, rolling pin and a baking sheet with flour. Roll dough out to 13 inch round and transfer for sheet. [note: I did not transfer the dough to the sheet nor did I make it round]
In a small bowl, stir together ricotta, 1 tablespoon oil, and garlic; season with salt and pepper.

Spread ricotta mixture on dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border.

Top with mozzarella, then Parmesan. [I added tomatoes on half to see how it would taste]

Brush 1 teaspoon oil on edge of dough. Because I failed to move the dough to the sheet I split the pizza in half for easy transfer.
Bake until crust is golden and cheese is melted and browned in spots, 12-14 minutes. 

In a small bowl, toss arugula with 1 teaspoon oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Top pizza with arugula and serve. The tomato was a fabulous addition but I still could've gone for more parmesan. Enjoy!

Lemon Ricotta Crepe

It's 11:30 pm and I have been working since 7am, so naturally it's time that I update my blog for the first time since January. I'm home for the summer so updating will be a lot easier now that I have access to things like... a kitchen. But don't fret, this past year marks the last time I will be without a kitchen for what I hope is eternity.

Since I've been home I've already been a disaster in the kitchen. I decided to make my Mom orange marmalade for Mother's Day. What a fail. Discovering the world of canning while trying to hide the smells, sounds and look of orange marmalade from my mom was just enough stress to tip the scale from fun adventure to canning disaster. The marmalade looked more like glaze and never set. I felt like a 3rd grader giving my mom a shitty macaroni necklace for Christmas. Luckily, a little cornstarch and water, sugar and lemon juice thickened it up and it slightly resembles marmalade now.

Crepes are a little less disastrous for me and I made these with whatever was leftover in our fridge. I had the crepe mix pre-made from the day before so there won't be any pictures for that.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Whisk together flour and eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so the batter coats the surface evenly.

Cook the crepe about two minutes, loosen with a spatula, flip and cook the other side.
(Of course I forgot to take a picture of the crepe when it was actually cooked)

Now for the filling, the night before I filled these with bananas and salted caramel fudge. But I am getting pretty bored with the usual chocolate and [insert fruit here] crepe. Although they are delicious the crepe world is begging for so much more than that.

1 pound ricotta
2 eggs, beaten
juice and zest of one lemon
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs (This baby whisk is adorable)

Combine ricotta, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar in a medium bowl.


Divide the filling among the crepes

And it's done! I added strawberries to mine but the recipe calls for blueberry sauce to be drizzled on top. Either way, it's delightful. It was definitely a lighter alternative to a dessert crepe.

Nutella Banana Purses

Picture this. It's Friday night, first weekend back at school and I have nothing to do. Absolutely, positively nothing. Picture my misery. You can almost hear my bitching from wherever you are reading this. Then suddenly I remember I bought the stuff to make nutella banana purses. It's now 10:30 and I'm thinking, "It doesn't get lamer than this, I mind as well bake."
I'm not going to lie, it's not my idea of the perfect Friday night but I was so, so incredibly wrong. Nothing could have been more perfect about last night thanks to these delightful little monsters. I'm not going to say I ate four, but I'm going to say I didn't either.

You'd be suprised the amount of attention I got on my walk back to my dorm with these in my hands, a few bouncers at a bar along the way stopped to chat with me about them, after offering him one he declined, telling me he was "on a diet". I quickly decided I'm not interested in men who diet, or men who won't eat banana nutella purses, so I continued my journey and gave away the last few pastries I had, finishing my night happy and in some very stretchy pants.

1 sheet of puff pastry (or two if you're intense like me)
1 container nutella
2 bananas

This is the world's easiest recipe. I'm pretty sure I could've made these in the toaster oven in my dorm room, but since I had nothing else to do I took a walk to the dorms on campus with ovens.

Defrost puff pastry. I forgot this step and ended up watching the 90's hit Great Pretenders (anyone remember that?) while the sheets defrosted. Cut it into nine squares.

Cut the banana

Put a spoonful of nutella on each square and a banana on top of each.

Pinch the corners together to make them into little purses.
Pop them into the oven for 15 minutes. If you're like me and are heavy handed with nutella, this is what will happen when they start cooking. But don't fret they are still delicious even if they aren't pretty. 
On my second sheet of puff pastry I put less nutella, hoping they would look a little better. 
 Om nom nom.

Baked Upside Down Apple French Toast

Let's say a big thanks to Tyler Florence for this great recipe. I'm not a big french toast eater but after watching Tyler Florence make this, I had to have it. I woke up late this morning to my mother's impatience and hunger. It's my last day at home before I go back to school so I figured I'd make a nice breakfast. Well, breakfast doesn't start at 11 in my house, not to mention this takes 45 minutes to bake. So breakfast will in fact be at 12:30. I'm writing this now as it's in the oven and it smells delicious. Although it was one of those mornings where everything was annoying, my coffee was cold and my mom was mothering, I think this may just fix it.

4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 loaf challah bread, cut into 1 inch-thick slices
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup light brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling, divided
4 Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Confectioners' sugar, garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees 
In a flat dish, crack eggs and add milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Whisk until well combined then lay challah slices in mixture to coat and absorb it all, turning occasionally.

Set a 10-inch skillet, seasoned cast iron if you have, over medium heat. Add the butter and 1 cup sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has melted and caramelized, about 8 minutes. 

While the sugar is melting, peel apples, core and cut into halves.

Remove from heat and gently whisk in the heavy cream

Sprinkle in the pecans, dried cranberries and gently press the apple halves so there is a flat surface. (I forgot to take a picture of the apple step, sorry!)

Lay soaked slices of challah over the top so it is completely covered - you should be able to arrange the large slices and small slices so there are no gaps. Sprinkle the top with some brown sugar and place into the preheated oven

Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden and puffy.
When done, allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes then invert onto a large plate. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired
Serve and enjoy!
This was in fact, delicious. It's so sweet it tastes almost like a dessert. My mom and I were brainstorming and we thought of a few variations to the recipe. A few of our ideas were pear instead of apple, walnuts instead of pecans and nutella or dulce de leche instead of caramelized brown sugar. Yum, yum, yum. 

Mini Banana Cream Pies

Let's just say I had a bit of a kitchen fail tonight. I was excited to share a recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough dip, but it turned out it tasted like cream cheese and nothing like cookie dough. So after dumping it down the drain I was determined to make something delicious. I made this pie once before and it didn't even last 24 hours in my fridge (banana cream pie is my dad's favorite).

This is a super easy recipe, not to mention incredibly delicious. Before making this I had never had banana cream pie, I wasn't sure I would even like it! But my friends and I ate every last bite. Because it was a last minute decision, I was a little short on pie crust and vanilla pudding so I decided to make four mini pies instead of one big one, plus they're adorable.

Pie Crust:
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup butter or margarine
3 tablespoon sugar

1 pack vanilla pudding mix
2 cups milk
2 ripe bananas
1 cup powdered sugar
1 pack cream cheese (8 oz)
1 pack whip topping (8 oz)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the graham cracker crust, mix graham cracker crumbs with 1 cup of butter or margarine and 3 tablespoons of sugar. After the ingredients are combined, press the mixture into a 9 inch pie pan (or in my case small individual soufflé dishes). Put them in the oven for 8 minutes, then transfer them to the fridge to cool.

Beat together cream cheese and powdered sugar. Fold in 1 cup of whip topping.
Spread the mixture on the bottom of the each mini pie.
Cover this layer in bananas.

In another bowl combine vanilla pudding mix with two cups of milk. Whisk for two minutes and pour over bananas.

Cover with the rest of the whip topping and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. Enjoy!