Fall Into Deliciousness

 

It’s here! What you say? Only the best time of the year that’s what.  The time when leaves are crunching under your feet, the weather has cooled down and you spend the Saturday afternoons watching college football.  This is my favorite time of year but this year it’s a little different.  This Fall I am enjoying days with average temperatures of 89 degrees and trees with all their leaves.  That’s right I am living in Dallas and this is its fall.  I am embracing and enjoying the warmth but there is something about leaves not changing color that makes me miss good ole’ Michigan in the autumn.  With the first day of fall just having happened last Friday I thought what should I do to make it feel more like fall here?  Simple answer… make a fall meal.

When I started falling in love with food and cooking I of course learned all about Julia Child.  The dish that always makes me think of her is beef bourguignon.  This also makes me think of Ina Garten because she is the first person I ever saw make this recipe.  I figured a rich stew would take the chill off of the evening indoor air-conditioned air.  It was full of beautiful flavors, and I know that sounds cheesy but make it and you’ll know there is no other word to describe the flavors in this dish.  My other favorite part of Fall is the pumpkins.  So I made a pumpkin spice cake with pumpkin cream cheese frosting.  This cake is basically “fall in your mouth”.  That is how the cake earned its name of “Fall into Deliciousness”.  It is such a good cake because it taste like a pumpkin bread with frosting, how could that be wrong?  Seriously don’t be intimidated this cake is easy and will surely please and impress anyone.  Pair this cake with the beef bourguignon and you have a fall extravaganza meal!  Julia Child would definitely say Bon Appétit to this meal!  Now all I need is date night with Casper or Hocus Pocus!

The Beef Bourguignon Recipe

   Burning off the bourbon (I used bourbon because we didn’t have cognac in the house)

Pumpkin Spice Cake Recipe               Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

  

Photo’s provided by John Tagle-Fall photos taken at Michigan State University

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Hot Potatoes!

 

I fell asleep on the plane dreaming of the food in Ireland.  I was being a stereotypical dreamer so I was dreaming of potatoes and cabbage. Once in Dublin I was eager to find out if the food was anything like my dreams.  Kylie and I went to the Temple Bar area for our first dinner and went to a typical Dublin pub and had pub food.  It was loud and crowded and just what we wanted.

We were pleasantly excited to find out that there was more than potatoes and cabbage on the menu, but it was the base for a lot of the dishes.  Coddle is a famous dish of the Irish people but the most famous and beloved is their stew.  It is delicious, hearty, full of lamb and vegetables and what else…potatoes.  But my favorite part of all the food, well I guess it’s tied with the stew, is the soda bread.  It is full of texture and flavor, doughy but crispy and just all around amazing.  Dunk that bread in an Irish stew and you’ll think you’ve died and went to Irish heaven. Another thing that goes well with Irish stew and soda bread is a nice cold Guinness.

 

Guinness is an Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness.  Guinness is directly descended from the porter style that originated in London.  I made Kylie taste her first Guinness and she had to chase it with her food so I think it is safe to say it’s growing on her. One of my favorite moments in Dublin wasn’t one I had while enjoying a Guinness but instead an oyster stout. There is a  bar called Porterhouse right by the Molly Malone statue that serves all different types of beer.  The oyster stout is a stout so not much different than a Guinness but they put fresh oysters shucked into the conditioning tank; so basically my dream beer.

 

 

The picture above and to the right is coddle in case you were wondering.

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Good Ole Luck of the Irish

 

  

I was looking forward to my trip to Ireland all summer, but I was also dreading it…ok maybe dreading is a strong word but this trip represented a lot. Going to Ireland was special because it was the first trip my little sister Kylie and I were taking alone, together.  But this trip also marked the end of my summer. This was my final “big” trip and it felt like maybe the final trip of my youth, because part of the “no plan, plan” was to get an internship after this summer and trade in my boarding passes for suits to wear in the corporate world which in my world means you are old- aka youth gone.  This trip was my final hoorah, so Ky and I had to go big.  So that meant eating all we could, drinking all we could and seeing all we could.  We left Ireland full and exhausted and feeling like we accomplished our goals.

 

-Guinness Factory-                                     -Kilmainham Gaol, The Old Irish Jail-

I was nervous to travel with Kylie because she’s young and immature (hope she doesn’t read this post) but she really came through.  To say I am an awkward person is literally the understatement of a lifetime.  I can’t ask someone at the grocery store where the broccoli is, let alone ask someone for directions.  Not because I’m too proud but because I’m too awkward.  So Kylie and her mature self came through.  Every time I was too embarrassed to tell the waiter we couldn’t have another drink because I didn’t have any more cash left and they didn’t take credit, she would do it.  Any time I was too uncomfortable to ask which bus was the right one to take so I was just going to hop on the next one that came along, she would do it.  Lets just say if she hadn’t gone with me I’d be in jail for running out on a bill or probably be on a sheep farm in the middle of nowhere instead of the Cliffs of Moher.

This trip was great and the food delicious.  I’ll write about the food in the next post; I know it is blarney to keep you waiting.  We covered major ground in our six days there and were really lucky to be able to stay with my friend just outside of Dublin. We went from Dublin to Cork to the Cliffs of Moher.  Kylie tasted her first Guinness, which she had to chase with her food, and we kissed the Blarney Stone.  Kissing the stone is supposed to give you the gift of eloquence. Kylie kissed it before me; clearly she took all the eloquence.

 

- The Blarney Castle-

 

-Kissing the Stone-                                               -Colorful Buildings in Cork-

Ps.  The famous song “Galway Girl” from P.S. I Love You, is actually played in pubs!!

 

-Cliffs of Moher-

                                                          -Irish country side-

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Fathers Day in August

 

I think its safe to say that my schedule was all over the place this summer and even something as important as Fathers Day I missed.  I was just beginning my adventure in Brasil when June 19th rolled around this year so I knew I had to make it up to my dad with something super special.  What could be more special than homemade cake…that’s right nothing.  And what helps make a homemade cake?!  The greatest tool on earth, a kitchen aid mixer.  I have wanted a yellow one since I started watching food network as a freshman in college and as crazy as it may sound that was the first time I realized what one was.  I was lucky enough to not have to wait too many years for mine and got one as a graduation present from my sister and it was love at first sight.  My first cake was a strawberry country cake and that was delicious!  Now I try to make a cake for all occasions!

For Fathers Day in August the cake had to be special because lets face it, I was 59 days late.  So I came up with an original lemon essence cake with cream cheese frosting and blueberries on top or as I like to call it Fathers Day in August cake.  And as if a cake isn’t enough his three awesome daughters threw in a pair a new Sperrys as the cherry on top!

 

 

Ingredients

Cake:

2 8-inch pans

Butter for greasing the pans

Flour, for dusting

1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix- I used Duncan Hines Classic Yellow cake mix

2 lemons- zest

½ cup lemon juice

3/4 cup water

3 egg whites

2 tbs vegetable oil

Frosting:

6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

6 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar

1 pint of blueberries for top

Directions

For the cake:  Arrange the oven rack in the center of the over and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter the pans then add about a tablespoon of flour then shift it around and discard anything that doesn’t stick.  Repeat on second pan.

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or a regular hand mixer, combine the cake mix and lemon zest.  Mix for 30 seconds at low until the zest is incorporated.  Add the lemon juice, egg whites, and vegetable oil.  Blend on low for another 30 seconds.  Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minuets, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Divide the batter between the two pans (TIP use a ½ cup measuring cup and go one for one between the pans so you evening divide the batter).  Bake for 30 to 32 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when you poke the cake.  Remove and let cool for 45 minuets.  Turn cakes out onto a wire rake or buttered and floured plates and let them completely cool, about and 1 hour.

For the frosting:

Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment on low speed until just combined. Try not to whip. Add sugar little by little until smooth.

When cooled cut the cakes in half.  Place one ¼ of the cake on the plate or stand and then spread frosting on it.  Leave about a ¼ of an inch around the edges so frosting doesn’t spill over.  Repeat with the other 3 layers and then put the pint of blueberries on top.

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Share with me your special cake recipes.