Friday Five: Mile Marker 0.5

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

We’ve reached the half-way marker on our 2014 resolutions journey. This is where we grab a Dixie Cup and gear up for the final push of the race. Except instead of icy water, I want my Dixie Cup to be full of a mojito or some kind of summer sangria. That would help, don’t you agree?

Since we are standing at this critical juncture, I thought I should revisit those resolutions I put into print in January to see where things stand and where I could do better.

5. Momentum

I feel like my momentum is still plugging along. Here are the sub-category breakdowns:

Writing/Blogging: I’m holding myself to my two-post a week rule (if not more) and have been doing more contract writing, so this continues to be a huge piece of the pie that is my life.

Books: I have loved keeping track of books as I finish them. It’s nice to reference them all in one place and know when I read them. Things start to all meld together after a while.

Cooking: We continue to try new recipes all the time. I would like to do better about using my cookbooks. I find a lot of recipes online, but I need to find time to A) go through my collection and mark recipes I want to try and B) organize the stack of magazine clippings I’ve pulled over the last year. And…maybe…C) throw out old clippings and donate unused cookbooks. Maybe.

Photography: My photography interests have shifted slightly toward food photography lately, but I did take all of the staff head-shots for my office’s new website, which was fun. But food doesn’t move. Food doesn’t get impatient while you mess with your camera. Plus, you get to eat it after you capture your perfect shot. Sorry, but food wins every single time.

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4. Good Better Housekeeping

Hmmmm. Do you hear that? It’s either radio static or crickets. Either way, there’s not much to report. This is a struggle for me and I usually end up deep-cleaning our house when I know someone’s coming over. #cleaningconfessional I did manage to clean our master bathroom last week on my own, without a nudge from the calendar. Just a nudge from the grime. #ew Why is this so hard for me?

3. Be More Girly

I have managed to curl my hair and style it more, but after I cut it short I’ve been a bit limited in options. I do like it shorter, though, and will do a better job at keeping appointment lapses to a minimum. As a curly-haired person, I can’t stand the fact that I have to first straighten it and then re-curl it again to “style” it, even if it looks better that way.

2. Give Back

I haven’t been volunteering yet, but I do have a job! We continue to meet fun, new people and are way more social here than we ever were in Virginia. I’m tempted to head out to the humane society to help, but that also means I’ll be tempted to empty the cages into our guest room. What’s the definition of a pet hoarder?? Exactly how much is too much?

1. Dream Big

My Etsy shop opened in February and has been so. much. fun. I don’t know why it took me so long to jump in the water, but I’m practically part fish now. I’ve also been able to do good with it by donating one of my custom alphabet prints to an auction my friend is holding to raise money for her family’s adoption of a domestic baby. (I’ll let you know when the auction is, if you’re interested in bidding.) I didn’t exactly dream I’d be designing prints and selling them on Etsy, but I’m glad I kept my mind open to the possibilites. Who knows what might be next.

So, three out of five isn’t so bad, right? The morale of the story is more dusting, less (hair) scrunching. I’ve got six more months to work on it. Until then…

# julisa’s lemon mousse

Most of my favorite recipes are ones passed down from family and friends, tried-and-true dishes that someone loved enough to capture and share. Whether I actually know them or not is inconsequential, it’s just comforting to see a name before the recipe title. It sits there claiming ownership, assuring success, and welcoming us into their kitchen over and over again. Forever immortalized alongside their dish, forever together.

I have a lot of those recipes in my arsenal…Gee Gee’s Chicks-N-Dunks, Paula’s Cinnamon Rolls, Ron’s Salsa, Pam’s Cranberry Orange Cookies, Bobbie’s Guinness Cake, Mimi’s Snack Mix, MeMaw’s Fudge, Dick’s Peanut Brittle, Beatty’s Chocolate Cake…the list goes on and on.

To me, those names add a lot more than original possession of a recipe. It’s a background context, it’s memories from as far back as I can remember, or it’s one exact point/party/meal in time, it’s knowing they did it and I can too, it’s a kitchen cheerleader. It’s comfort.

And that’s important to me.

When I pass on recipes my friends might not necessarily know who Paula, Ron, Pam, Mimi, MeMaw, Dick or Bobbie are…but they know it’s going to taste incredible. But the stories always help.

So, I could just share Tuesday’s potluck dessert recipe with you and you could be left wondering who Julisa is and where this recipe came from, or I could tell you about one of the funniest people to ever grace my life and let you think of her each time you make it yourself.

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I first met Julisa in 2008. We worked at the New World Symphony together and quickly bonded over our shared love of sarcasm, food and pop culture.

She’s the yin to my yang and with us it was all sarcasm, all the time. I don’t remember when our nicknames exactly started, but at some point I made up a jingle…”J to the U to the L, JULISA!” that over time got shortened to “J to the U.”

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We even had an “Office Face” that we shared no less than 10 times a day over any workplace frustrations or disbelief. She made me a GIF of it before I left for Virginia. I still watch it to lift my spirits or laugh at my desk.

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I have so many favorite memories of her, it’s hard to know where to begin…

One slow, summer day, Julisa offered to clean out a storage closet that happened to be located right across from my office. I watched her make a couple of trips with a dolly full of boxes when I told her she should wheel me down the hall past everyone’s office windows like Hannibal Lecter in his straitjacket. We were an unstoppable riot on our floor. Well, at least to ourselves.

She let me in on a fun game she’d play with her mom called “Guess Who Died?!” To play, you call someone up as soon as you hear someone in the pop culture realm has died and make them play Twenty Questions until they guess the right person. Morbid, yet hilarious. That pretty much describes us.

We were two peas in a Frank Gehry-designed pod. Bitching like mad during our 90-100+ hour work weeks when it was being built and crying like babies when it opened.

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We still (goth) Skype for hours, but it will never be an adequate solution to the distance gap. There’s no one like J to the U and I miss her like crazy.

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In the baking realm, no one at NWS did it better. I think they may have revised her job description to include it in her duties. Together, we founded NWS’ Cupcake Fridays (RIP) during the summer months, after Julisa introduced me to Ming’s cupcakes.

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We had pierogi parties with our friend Michelle to prepare for Oktoberfest.

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Julisa brings in several huge tupperware filled to the brim with homemade peppermint bark every December for the entire organization as a ‘thanks for all you do.’ I fell in love with that recipe too and now make it every December for Joe’s band (and me). And when his students ask me for the recipe, they get “Julisa’s Peppermint Bark” delivered to their inbox.

She once made me a vegan chocolate cake with avocado frosting for my birthday. And it was awesome.

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She went vegetarian while I was living in Miami and we bonded over her black bean hummus.

She would bring in samples of whatever homemade ice cream she made the night before. My favorite? Bangkok Peanut.

And she was so generous with her baking genius, always offering to help, share or teach until we got it right. She’s the epitome of “awesomesauce”–one of our favorite words.

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I’ve learned a lot of things from Julisa, but her Lemon Mousse may be one of the best. She first made it for a summer birthday office celebration–a delicious detour from our regular cupcake parties–and after one bite I was a total goner, begging her like an idiot for the recipe. It was so refreshing and light, yet somehow also rich and decadent. In that bite I was slung up on the lemon bandwagon so fast I almost lost sight of the peanut butter wagon I’ve been nestled on my entire life. Lemon desserts don’t have to be cloyingly sweet? They don’t have to be drenched in powdered sugar? They don’t have to make my mumps hurt?…as my mom would say. Game On. (Or, depending on how you look at it, Game Over.)

In choosing the “new” recipe to try for this week’s potluck, this one immediately came to mind. I thought of all of us NWS friends gathered around the table, swooning over it and her. Despite the many times as we had enjoyed it together and Julisa giving me the recipe after she first made it, I had never tried it on my own. It seemed daunting and the perfection of Julisa’s efforts may have been a bit intimidating. But, that couldn’t hold me back forever.

Even when it called for a candy thermometer, which hasn’t exactly been my friend in the past.

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Julisa would serve it in dainty individual glasses, each piled high with fruit and mousse with a dab of whipped cream and a sprig of mint. It was seriously gorgeous every time. For ease of transport, I made mine in a trifle dish so everyone could serve themselves, which was still a pretty option for a party. You could even throw pieces of pound cake in there and make it a real trifle.

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You can choose whatever fruit you prefer, but I went with ripe summer berries.

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The mousse is like a down comforter, draping over the berries with a definite weight that’s in no way overbearing. It’s as delicious as it is gorgeous. Even more so, actually.

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So, here’s to Julisa. Thanks for everything, but especially for this recipe. Love you, girl.

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Julisa’s Lemon Mousse with Berries

adapted from Bon Appétit, 1999

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
6 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
11/2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1 12-ounce basket strawberries, hulled, halved (or quartered if large)
1 6-ounce basket fresh blueberries
1 6-ounce basket fresh raspberries
1 6-ounce basket fresh blackberries
2 cups chilled whipping cream
8 whole strawberries (for garnish)
Fresh mint sprigs

Combine 1 cup sugar, lemon juice, 6 egg yolks, 2 whole eggs and grated lemon peel in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water). Whisk until mixture thickens and thermometer inserted into mixture registers 160°F. Transfer lemon curd to another large bowl by passing through a fine-mesh sieve. Chill for a few hours, or overnight.

Toss halved strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another large bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat 11/2 cups cream in medium bowl until medium-firm peaks form. Remove chilled lemon curd and stir a bit to reincorporate it. Fold 1/3 of whipped cream into lemon curd to lighten, then fold in remaining whipped cream. (For a more lemony mousse, use less whipped cream.)

Divide berry mixture among 8 dessert bowls or wineglasses. Spoon lemon mousse over berries. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Using electric mixer, beat remaining 1/2 cup cream in medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Spoon whipped cream atop desserts. Garnish with whole strawberries and mint sprigs.

# potluck perfect

Last night we sat on a cool, grassy lawn under the shady protection of a large tree with friends and ate and talked and ate and talked. It was perfection. When Tim and Sara sent out the invite, their reasoning behind having a potluck gathering stemmed from their Midwest roots. I love that. Joe would tell you Oklahoma’s in the South, but anyone who knows Oklahoma knows it’s a Midwest way of life out there. In fact, everyone that came yesterday has spent time as a Midwestener at some point in their lives. We all got it.

Remember my severe recipe anxiety? It wasn’t completely unfounded. These friends of ours are also major foodies and alongside our shared love of cooking, baking and eating also comes a variety of restrictions. Meat free (yes, please), Dairy free and Gluten free. That’s a lot to consider, but we all pitched in so everyone had something to eat at every stage of the meal. What are friends for?

Here are some highlights of the night:

Meet Miriam. Adorable daughter of our awesome hosts. She’s got the cutest little voice, repeats anything and everything you say in said voice, strawberry blonde curls and electric blue eyes. She’s got it all.
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She knows her fruits and vegetables thanks to a huge garden in their backyard, where she called for “KALE!” and “RASPBERRIES!” until her dad helped her find them.
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Here’s Chris holding down the blanket fort with cat Nadia. Check out the garden in the background.
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Denise prepares her salad while Tim looks on with a skeptical eye…
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Chris and Chilali’s homemade dal:
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Which contained a drumstick root that lends its spice, but is otherwise inedible minus the gelatinous center that you suck out. It was surprisingly delicious, despite how disgusting that last sentence sounds.
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The dessert spread….more on that lovely on the left tomorrow…
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Gluten-free brownies with rose buttercream frosting….made from roses in Sara’s garden. (OMG — these people mean business)
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Food coma time
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So much good food and good conversation.

The full spread (some not or barely pictured) included polenta-like bites made with chickpea flour and topped with a caramelized onion marmalade, boom boom sauce with chips and/or broccoli florets, garden salad with edible flowers and grilled chicken, dal, quinoa and cheese bites, sprout salad, tropical fruit salad, those delicious brownies and a soon-to-be-revealed dessert. Not too shabby, eh?

You might be asking yourself, “what the heck is Boom Boom Sauce?”

Good question. It’s just the easiest, most tasty sauce you’ll ever have. This is a knock-off recipe from Chuy’s–a tex-mex staple down in my parts–that’s similar to a jalapeno ranch sauce you can eat as a dip, or on top of tacos or enchiladas, or right out of a blender with a spoon…whatever floats your boat.

Make it early and the jalapenos will get hotter and hotter as it sits in the fridge, so be wary of that when prepping yours. Poor Miriam got a huge bite of “white soup” when we weren’t looking and was screaming bloody murder as it ran down her chin. But, then, like everyone does…she went back for more. It’s the nature of the Boom Boom.
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Boom Boom Sauce

Blend together:

1 1/3 c. mayonnaise
1/3 c. buttermilk
1 (4 oz.) can chopped jalapeno (use as much or as little as you like, or not at all)
1 (4.5 oz.) can chopped green chilies
1/3 c. cilantro, or to taste
1 (1 oz.) packet dry ranch mix

Chill before serving. Keep refrigerated.

Friday Five: Signs of Summer

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

We are now past the middle of June. “Summer” by school-calendar standards, by normal-people’s standards, started well over a month and a half ago, yet there was a fresh dusting of snow on the mountains this week, I wore my winter coat twice and ran my space heater in my office non-stop until today. This is what causes tears, people. And all-around grumpiness.

But, next week promises 90-degree forecasts, sunshine and merriment. All signs are pointing toward summer, and here’s why:

5. Are We There Yet?

Sean and Wallis, some of our favorite people in the entire world, get here on Sunday, which means we have pool therapy sessions (featuring Wallis’ famous giggle-swim), 80’s Movies nights, and many meals at Rancherito’s, Herm’s and Jimmy John’s in our immediate future. I hope all of my summers can involve extended visits with these besties.

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4. Eat, Drink and Be Merry

We have our first cook-out potluck dinner with some of our USU music faculty friends scheduled for this week. There’s something about eating on blankets in a backyard that feels 200% like summer. The only problem is that I suffer overwhelming paralysis when choosing what foods to bring to any potluck. I have a plethora of recipes pinned, magazine-torn and dog-eared that I feel guilty to make something already in my culinary arsenal. Should I try out a new recipe on my friends? Or should I go with my foolproof standbys, comforted with the knowledge that it’ll be delicious? What do you do? Too many recipes, not enough lifetimes. I completely get this from my mother, and I’ll never complain about it. #recipehoarder

3. Temples and Tacos

Each Father’s Day weekend, the greens around Logan’s Tabernacle transform to host the region’s biggest Arts Faire. (Add an ‘e’ and you’re fancy…Subtract an ‘e’ and you’re Marci.)  Since Joe was out of town, I tagged along with a few of our friends to look at hundreds of booths with paintings of Mormon temples. I mean, there was other stuff, but mostly temple paintings. I did get to sample a Navajo Taco that was made with fry bread and conveniently smothered in meat chili, despite me ordering the veggie version. Le sigh. Nothing a little Dole Whip couldn’t fix. (Also pictured: Chilali’s gourmet mac-and-cheese and Chris’ dutch oven dinner with “funeral potatoes” and cobbler.)

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2. The Tube

I imagine you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their DVR selections. Here’s what ours will be showing all summer: True Blood, The Bridge, Drunk History, Face Off, The Next Food Network Star and the perennial favorite, Barefoot Contessa. We also will finish the last two seasons of The Shield, True Detective and, time-permitting, God-willing, The Wire. So, what does that say about us?

1. Pretty in Coral

The easiest way to tell it’s Summer? My toes are painted in OPI’s Cajun Shrimp. It’s sassy. It’s fiery. It would complement tanned skin, if that’s something you’re blessed with. But I can also testify it looks just as nice on pasty whiteness. It’s my absolute fav for these summer months. But once it turns cold? Say, in late September? It’s all (dark) purple, all the time. This is what I’d call a limited release.

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# father’s day 2014

Let’s celebrate some men, shall we?!  Today I find myself far from all of the men I love. They are in Oklahoma, Texas and my fur-baby daddy is in Michigan, visiting his family. What a good dad he is to Bella. She loves him the most, which simultaneously breaks and swells my heart.

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I imagine one of life’s greatest gifts is being a father to a daughter. You are her first love, her protector, her example for all future men in her life.  It’s a tough job, but oh so rewarding. You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you can almost always tell if a girl has a good relationship with her dad. It permeates her entire life.

So I feel pretty lucky.

I have a lot of incredible men whose examples have shaped my life for the better: the life-loving grandfather I miss, the grandfather who loves God, music and family, the step-dad who makes me laugh, the father-in-law I never got to hug but who raised Joe to be the amazing man he is, and, of course, my dad.

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I remember as a little girl being amazed that my dad knew so much. There wasn’t a question that didn’t have an answer. He was the smartest, the strongest and larger than life.

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There were high expectations of us, but who would the Jackson kids be if not over-achievers? We were encouraged to always be the very best we could possibly be and every day was an opportunity to learn, even when on vacation. #IhadWilliamBarretTravis,Bryan

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One of his greatest gifts he instilled in us was a sense of adventure. The need and desire to get out of Oklahoma and explore the world.

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And, when I started embarking on my own adventures, he would come visit to be a part of them.

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Whether it be a three-week road trip to Yellowstone, or a tour of America’s finest Civil War battlefields, we saw and learned so much every summer.

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And, all of those adventures started with a single treat.

After we would all pile into the car, before we got to the highway, we would stop at Judy’s Daylight Doughnuts. Though sometimes we went inside with him, many times we’d stay put in the car and Dad would bring back a white sack for each of us. In mine was always a mini bottle of orange juice and a sprinkle cake doughnut, which we lovingly called “Judy Doughnuts.” The taste of that combination signals to my brain the start of something big and fun. It symbolizes family togetherness and comfort. Plus, it is just delicious. And I’m still pretty partial to sprinkle doughnuts, 30+ years later.

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That’s why when Joe gave me doughnut pans for our anniversary, Judy Doughnuts were the first thing that I wanted to make. Especially to celebrate the man who bought me numerous ones across the years. The man who has given me so many adventures.

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Here’s to many, many more. I love you, Dad.

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If you don’t own doughnut pans, fix that right now. They run a whopping $7.50 on Amazon and are my new favorite kitchen toy. I have a slew of doughnut recipes to try, but I had to start with this classic, which is a vanilla cake case with simple frosting. Doesn’t get much easier or delicious.

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When the dougnuts came out of the oven, the tops were a little soft and bumpy from where I hadn’t smoothed the batter down. I didn’t mind, though. That was the side I was going to dunk in the frosting, so it just a bonus that it would sink into all of those nooks and crannies.

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The bottoms were brown and firm. A perfect foundation to hold a load of sprinkles and glaze.

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I found this recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction (great site!) and she says the key to doughnut glaze, how to get that crispy bite, is to warm your frosting before you dunk the doughnuts. Then let it harden and set before eating. (Oh, and she also does a double dunk on each doughnut. Mmmmm.)

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Just look at that frosting! Gah!

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I would also add that you should dunk with your non-dominant hand so you can use your dominant hand to immediately add the sprinkles after that second dunk. I didn’t do that, which resulted in my left hand not able to properly balance the sprinkles around the dougnut. #sprinkleclumps

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I waited as long as I could, I promise, but I just had to try one. It took me right back. The cake was so tender and the glaze was warm and welcoming.

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The doughnuts only last a few days after you first make them, which was *awesome* since I’m home alone. I feel like it’s a mission, my responsibility, that they don’t go to waste…just to waist.

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Make these for your next adventure!

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Baked Vanilla Cake Doughnuts

Slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash of salt
1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) milk*
1/4 cup (60g) Greek yogurt*
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

GLAZE:
1/4 cup (60ml) milk*
2 cups (240g) confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
sprinkles (for top only)

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

For the doughnuts: whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the milk, yogurt, and egg together until smooth. Add the melted butter and vanilla, whisking until fully combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be very thick.

Spoon the batter into the doughnut cups, filling 2/3 – 3 /4 of the way full.

Bake for 9–10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow the donuts to cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze: combine the glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk until the glaze is smooth. Remove from heat and immediately begin dunking the donuts, one by one, into the glaze with your non-dominant hand. I simply dropped each donut into the saucepan and moved it around to coat evenly. Transfer each donut to a wire rack over a baking sheet to catch the glaze drippings. Take each donut and dunk again if you have enough glaze leftover. Sprinkle with sprinkles immediately after each doughnut’s second glaze bath.

Donuts taste best eaten the same day, though they may be covered tightly and stored at room temperature for 2 days.

Notes from Sally:

*Skim milk, 1%, 2%, whole, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, or rice milk is OK.

*Nonfat, low fat, vanilla, plain, Greek or regular yogurt is OK.

*You may make this recipe into muffins using a muffin pan. Bake at the same temperature for 18 minutes or until lightly browned. 

 

 

 

Friday Five: A Guest Post for Father’s Day

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

It’s Father’s Day weekend! I have a special Daddy’s Day post in the works for Sunday, but I couldn’t pass up another chance to visit with my sweet girl in anticipation of the holiday.

Back by popular demand, please welcome my favorite (and only) guest blogger, Lily. And just like last time, here’s the play-by-play of our conversation:

Me: Hey, Lil! I need your help again with my blog. Can you go where your mom can’t hear you?

Lily: Okay! What do I need to tell you?

Me: I need to know what you love most about your Dad.

Lily: Sure! Okay! Let me think….Oh! I know!

5. I get to work with him.

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Me: What kind of work?

Lily: I help hold the light bulbs.

4. Okay, this is my second one: He reads books with me.

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Me: Do you have a favorite book to read with him?

Lily: Mmmhmm. We’re reading The Wizard of Oz before we go to see the show.

3. He plays toys with me.

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Me: What’s your favorite game to play with your Dad?

Lily: Hold on….hold on one minute, NoNo…..Cranium. Do you know Cranium? It’s so fun.

Me: I love that game! Okay, you have two more to go.

Lily: (talking to herself) Okay, I did that one, did that one…..Well, I have a special one I’m saving for last.

Me: Okay, what’s one more you can add before your special one?

2. He helps me.

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Me: That’s a good one, how are you going to beat that?

1.  He loves me and I love him.

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And there you have it! A special tribute for a very special Daddy. Thanks for all you do, Tim, for three of my favorite people in the world. (You’re on that list, too!) And it doesn’t look like too much has changed since Linc came along!

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You might be the Timiny Cricket of the group, but you know I “love ya” for it, rain or shine. #3insidejokesin1sentence #StormyBaltimore Happy early Father’s Day!

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Today’s blog post comes from Lily

IMG_9841Lily is a sassy six-year-old, an amazing big sister, smarter than most and loved by all.

She likes to swim, read, play with her baby brother and shoot guns like a boss.

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Above sentiments also shared by brother, Linc:
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# the greatest gift

I’m lucky in that I have a good gift-giver as a husband. He knows that the path to my heart is paved with kitchen tools and cookbooks. For our recent anniversary he gave me doughnut pans (which will be making their debut this weekend) and I have been on Cloud 9 ever since.

He’s lucky in that I’m not a huge jewelry girl. That is, until last Fall, when I fell fast and hard for a necklace. Pinned it, talked about it, swooned over it–never thinking that it would become a reality.

But, Christmas called. And Santa delivered my most favorite gift since I received Bella for my birthday years ago.

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Can you tell what it is?

This, my friends, is a necklace made from a cast of Bella’s nose. And I am totally in love.

If you know me, if you’ve read just one post on this blog, you know how obsessed I am with my fur baby. The reality of her getting older is not completely lost on me, though I do a damn good job swimming in denial. Just the thought of having to be without her brings on an all-out ugly cry.

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See that nose? I nuzzle and kiss it no less than 100 times a day, I’m sure. And now I have it forever.

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The genius behind this piece of art is Jackie Kaufman. Once Joe placed his order, she sent us a packet of molds with crystal clear instructions. I was worried about both me messing it up and Bella absolutely hating her nose surrounded in putty, but it was as quick and painless as can be.

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Bella, the forever skeptic. “What IS this stuff?”

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Sorry, no photos of the process, since it took his hands to hold her and my hands to take the mold.

Our three molds! The one closest to the camera is the one she ended up using.

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Fast-forward a few months and it was here! The best part was Jackie returned the mold she used, which I’ll also keep forever.

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She also engraved the back with Bella’s name. Which made me tear up even more when I opened the box.

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Thank you Jackie and Joe, for this amazing gift, for preserving Bells’ symbol of curiosity and love that I will forever keep close to my heart.

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Obsessed with your own fur baby? Head over to Jackie’s Etsy shop to start your necklace today. Her gifts will quite literally rock your world.