Ingredient: pure vanilla extract

ALOHA!

Aloooooha! I am back from my happy place. It really doesn’t matter all the wonderful places that I am able to travel to, Maui, the Valley Isle, will always be my favorite. As you fly in you can see the lush green valleys and black lava peaks, formed from years of volcanic activity. I imagine that I can smell the sweet and salty water filled air and a smile spreads across my face. When I return to Maui, there are specific food rituals that I must do or I feel incomplete.

I usually start with an obligatory shave ice. Each time I am in Maui, I search for the perfect shave ice.  I try to find just the right  incarnation. Shave Ice is exactly what it says it is; a huge block of ice is put in a machine and finely shaved flakes of ice, fall into a cup ready to be adorned with sweet syrup. That is how most mainlanders enjoy it. Hawaiians add vanilla ice cream on the bottom and a drizzle of sweetened condensed cream, on top. This trip I found Tobi’s Shave Ice in Pa’ia. Like other shave ice shacks there is a myriad of syrup flavors and the ice is shaved to perfection. What I love is how they burrow the ice cream in the middle of the shave ice. This is assures that you get a little bite of creaminess with every bit of shave ice. And you can still get the drizzle of condensed cream. I have to say that Tobi’s rocked!

There is also the ritual of Hawaiian Breakfast. I love Hawaiian French Toast. I like it with bananas, macadamia nuts and coconut syrup. I’ve had the pancake version of this but they always seem heavy. There are so many great Hawaiian breakfast items. Things like Portuguese sausage, Spam and Pork Fried Rice with Eggs are traditional. I love macadamia nut sticky buns!

This trip I tried Kihei Caffe’s french toast. They use Portuguese bread; think Kings Hawaiian bread in a loaf. The bread is made with milk, sugar, eggs, honey and lemon zest. It has a sweet flavor and is really light in texture. You can use brioche if you can’t find Portuguese or Hawaiian Bread. The bread is soaked in an egg mixture, like traditional French toast but it is cooked in a sauté pan and then baked. This locks in the creamy texture in the center and a caramelized crunch on top. Once it’s baked slice some fresh or caramelized bananas and some chopped macadamia nuts over the top. I drizzle the toast with a little maple syrup and some coconut syrup. The combination of sweet and salty with just a little bit of crunch is phenomenal! I can smell the coconut syrup and ocean breeze and am ready for breakfast.

I have been going to Maui since 1974. I have witnessed so many changes. While I still long for the quiet uninhabited island that it once was, I love the new food and beverage scene that the growth has brought. Here is a recipe for Hawaiian French Toast that comes close to the one I had at Kihei Caffe. Enjoy!

Hawaiian French Toast
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Hawaiian French Toast
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk vanilla, honey and salt. Soak bread slices in egg mixture for 2 minutes each side.
  3. Melt 1 Tbsp. of butter in a large skillet and add half of the soaked bread. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until it is just golden brown. Repeat with remaining bread and butter.
  4. Place cooked bread on a baking sheet and cook in preheated oven for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with whatever toppings you like. I like butter, and a mixture of bananas and chopped macadamia nuts with a drizzle of maple and coconut syrups.
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A Case for Boxed Cake Mix

I am a Mom that went to culinary school whose kids like boxed cake mix! I’ve tried many a homemade cake from yellow to red velvet and every frosting imaginable. While they do love my cream cheese frosting they still like, dare I say it, canned frosting and boxed cake mix better.

So when my daughter suggested we do one of those doctored up box cake mix recipes, to add something chocolate to our family holiday celebration. I reluctantly agreed. My only caveat was that it couldn’t have any other processed ingredients. We came really close but the one my daughter wanted had instant pudding in it. I caved.

The directions were “SOOO” complicated. “Empty contents of Bag”. Add in this. Stir in that. I persevered. We greased the pan and baked the mix for the prescribed 30-35 minutes. The whole time I was mumbling under my breath and sighing. How could this be? I make great cakes! Most kids would kill to have me as their mom!

The timer went off and out came a good-looking moist cake. Huh, maybe? We’ll see. It cooled. I poked. It seemed moist and had a nice aroma. Since I managed to get out of the store without buying a can of frosting, I suggested a hack, I knew. The finger taste test was good and so far my daughter approved.

Once the cake was sliced in half, filled and frosted we put it out and we were ready for the harshest of critics…the family. They loved it! Of course every body thought it was one of my recipes and of course my daughter couldn’t wait to tell them it was a doctored up cake mix.

Well at least I can take joy in knowing that there is homemade cake and frosting that I can make with my daughters that they will like. So from my family to yours, enjoy!

*One note- I would love to give credit where due but I honestly don’t remember where this came from. It was a quick screenshot on the phone and off to the store before mom changed her mind.

A Case for Boxed Cake Mix
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A Case for Boxed Cake Mix
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Ingredients
Vanilla Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Cake
  1. In a mixing bowl pour cake mix and pudding mix. Turn on mixer and add sour cream. Slowly add vegetable oil.
  2. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition.
  3. Add milk, vanilla and sea salt.
  4. Add milk, vanilla and sea salt.
  5. Pour into 2 prepared (greased & floured) 8” round cake pans. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in pan then turn out and cool completely on rack. Frost and serve.
Frosting
  1. Blend together marshmallow fluff, butter and vanilla. Slowly add powdered sugar until well blended and consistency is as desired. If it gets too thick you can add some whole milk a couple drops at a time. Frost cake and serve.
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Why is it important to Me?

I am often asked why do I write about cooking. Why is it important to me that “you” cook? It’s often a hard question to answer. Maybe, because it feels existential to me; I cook therefore I am. Recently, I had a small epiphany to this question. I woke up early one morning, I went down stairs and noticed the pungent aroma of too ripe bananas. I immediately got to work on banana bread. My movements around the kitchen, to grab my ingredients were easy and lazy on a warm Saturday morning: three ripe bananas, an egg, some flour and sugar are the basics and then I can get fancy. As I worked it dawned on me, this is why I want YOU to bake. I want you to stumble into your morning kitchen and think “banana bread” or cinnamon rolls or whatever you are craving and not be intimidated, afraid or ill prepared to bake. It is gratifying to bake/cook for your family and friends. It is also extremely gratifying to be the teacher. I want your emails saying you succeeded or even failed with one of my recipes. Let’s walk through it and try again. I love running into you in the store and answering your questions about ingredients or techniques. Send me the pictures! I want to see.

So in turn this answers another question that I have been asked. What’s your voice? Who’s your audience? My voice is just me. And you are my audience. In any article you read whether it is here on my blog or a book or a magazine; I want you to feel like we are sitting at the island in my kitchen, sipping a cup of … and just talking. You can ask me anything and tell me everything. See you soon.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread
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Adapted from a recipe on Food Network.
Servings
1 loaf
Servings
1 loaf
Peanut Butter Banana Bread
Print Recipe
Adapted from a recipe on Food Network.
Servings
1 loaf
Servings
1 loaf
Ingredients
Glaze
Servings: loaf
Instructions
Bread
  1. In a small bowl stir together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer bowl, mix together the peanut butter, brown sugar, white sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth and well blended.
  3. Mash the bananas and then fold them into the wet mixture.
  4. Ad the flour mixture and beat on medium low until just just combine. Some lumps are ok.
  5. Pour batter into a greased 9X5X3 loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. I know that sounds vague but every oven varies and you don't want your bread to be over or under baked. A tooth pick should come out clean but just clean. Run knife around edges and let cool completely in pan.
Glaze
  1. Put peanut butter, butter and confectioners sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave and stir, in 30 second intervals, until smooth.
  2. Pour glaze over top of turned out bread. Garnish with chopped peanuts. Let set for 10 minutes to set up before slicing.
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Mastering the Art of French Cooking

While I’m am off doing the above, I hope to be posting lots! However, I never wish to leave my devoted followers hanging.  I thought there could be nothing more appropriate than giving you a recipe from Julia’s first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Since it is Fall and apples are abundant I am giving you a variation of a Clafoutis.  Clafoutis is really just a fruit flan and is typically done with cherries.  Her are Julia’s words.:

The clafoutis which is traditional in the Limousin during the cherry season is peasant cooking for family meals, and about as simple a dessert to make as you can imagine: a pancake batter poured over fruit in a fireproof dish, then baked in the oven.  It looks like a tart and is usually eaten warm.

Clafoutis aux Pommes (Apple Flan)
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Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Clafoutis aux Pommes (Apple Flan)
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Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Saute apples gently in hot butter, until browned. Let stand in skillet for 1/2 hour with the brandy, cinnamon and first 1/3 cup sugar.
  2. Blend together the milk, additional 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour for a full minute until well blended and frothy. It is best in a blender, but a hand mixer will work as well.
  3. Butter a fireproof baking dish. Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter in the dish and set over moderate heat for a minute or two until a film of batter has set in the bottom of the dish. Remove from heat.
  4. Spread the apple mixture over the batter layer. Pour on the remaining batter and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.
  5. Place in the middle of an oven preheated to 350 and bake for about an hour. The clafoutis is done when it has puffed and browned and a needle or knife plunged in to its center comes out clean.
  6. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar just before serving. It is best served warm or hot. It will sink slightly in the center.
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Valentine’s Day is Red Hots!

Valentines Day is approaching quickly. I admit that my love of the holiday comes and goes. This year I am looking for something simple to do. It seems that this year we are very busy with all sorts of activities, holidays and sports going on.

Tradition says we should give and receive chocolate and other sweets. I think one of the most charming sweets is Red Hots. I love the cinnamon flavor of theses heart shape imperial candies. They are sweet but not super cinnamon-y and spicy. I thought it would be fun to add these cinnamon treats to a butter cream frosting. They add the flavor and a pink and red sparkle to the frosting.

The next question was what to put this fabulous frosting on. I decided on brownies. I really like the contrast of ooey, gooey chocolate with the sweet and spicy frosting. I also happened to dip chocolate chip cookies and even shortbread in the frosting. I don’t think you can go wrong with any baked good. Happy Valentine’s Day!

IMG_5130

Red Hots Candy Frosting
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I crushed the heart shaped, cinnamon flavored candy and added it to a vanilla frosting. The result was a sweet, slightly spicy, pink and red spreckled frosting. I put it over brownies and love the way it tastes with chocolate but you use it on anything you would frost.
Servings Prep Time
12 cupcakes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 cupcakes 10 minutes
Red Hots Candy Frosting
Print Recipe
I crushed the heart shaped, cinnamon flavored candy and added it to a vanilla frosting. The result was a sweet, slightly spicy, pink and red spreckled frosting. I put it over brownies and love the way it tastes with chocolate but you use it on anything you would frost.
Servings Prep Time
12 cupcakes 10 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 cupcakes 10 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cupcakes
Instructions
  1. Using a hand or stand up mixer, beat butter until it is creamy and light.
  2. Add the vanilla and keep beating on a slow speed
  3. Slowly add confectioners sugar. You will need to scrape the bottom and sides. If you need extra moisture, you may add a teaspoon of milk at a time. Don't overdo the milk
  4. Once all the ingredients are breamed together, fold in the crushed red hots. Make sure they are completely crushed so they don't clog a frosting tip.
  5. Frost your treats
Recipe Notes

I had a hard time finding Red Hots in the grocery store.  I may have been too early.  However, you can usually find cinnamon imperials in the cake decorating aisle.  They are really the same thing.  You can really use ay cinnamon flavored candy.

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