Monday, February 20, 2012


Over the weekend I thought I would make some of these since it's Mardi Gras time-a holiday that I happen to know next to nothing about, other than it involves: beads, naked people, jazz music, large quantities of alcohol, and delicious food. I happen to have some knowledge of the food due to the fact I have visited New Orleans twice in the past few years. (By "New Orleans" I am here referring to "Disneyland"-where I have eaten at the following restaurants: The Blue Bayou, Cafe Orleans, and my favorite: The Jazz Kitchen. Clearly, I am an expert.) 
If you've never tasted a beignet, they are kind of a mix between a doughnut and fry bread (or scones, if you live in Utah). The kids LOVE them, and the first time I made them Dylan said, "Hey! These are what Princess Tiana makes!" Obviously, we are looking into the gifted and talented program at her school.
This here, friends, is the very recipe from The Jazz Kitchen restaurant in Downtown Disney. Enjoy!

Makes 3 dozen

1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup evaporated milk
7 cups all purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup shortening
oil for frying
powdered sugar for sprinkling

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over water. Stir to dissolve. Add sugar, salt, eggs and milk. Pour into blender and blend until smooth (I used my food processor and it worked great). Add 4 cups flour, blend until smooth. Add shortening and blend in remaining cups of flour until dough forms.
 Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. 
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick (you may want to do this in batches). Using a pizza roller, cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. Let dough rest 20 minutes.
Heat at least 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees. Fry the beignets in batches (I did 3 at a time in my big pot) until golden brown on each side-it only takes a couple minutes, so watch closely. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Creamy Vanilla Frosting

Yesterday, I decided to make my children a Valentine treat. And by "my children" I mean "myself". I've made a few different recipes for Red Velvet Cake, and this is by far my favorite-dense, but not too dense; super moist; and not too tart (many recipes call for vinegar). 
The frosting is one of my very favorites from my More From Magnolia cookbook-and the same one I used for Dylan's 6th birthday cake. It's a great recipe for people who aren't big fans of frosting-it's creamy and fluffy without being too sweet.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Makes 30 regular-sized
Source: (a copycat Sprinkles recipe)  

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 oz. red food coloring (the liquid-not the gel)
1 Tbl. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your cupcake pan with paper liners. 
Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. 
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add sour cream, buttermilk, food coloring and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture on low speed until combined. Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling 2/3 full.
Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

Creamy Vanilla Frosting

6 Tbl. flour
2 cups milk
2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla  

In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, cook until mixture becomes thick and begins to bubble. Remove from heat and cover with wax paper directly on the surface. Cool to room temp, about 30 minutes. (I've tried to speed up this process by refrigerating it-you have to be really careful with this, because mine got a little too cold, and left lumps in the frosting.)
In a large bowl, on the medium high speed of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy-about 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy-another 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat well.
Add the milk mixture, and continue to beat on medium speed for 5 minutes. The frosting will become noticeably more white in color.

A Last Minute Semi-Crafty Valentine Idea:

I am a highly creative and crafty in person, in that I copy the ideas of highly creative and crafty people. In this case, my neighbors the Brewers. 
The kids and I really like how they turned out, and it only took about an hour to cut out a few paper hearts, tape them to our back fence, take the pictures, add the words with photoshop, (if you didn't want to use photoshop, you could make a sign and use it in the background) and pick them up at Walmart. 


Monday, February 6, 2012

Baked Banana Oatmeal

I have recently taken up a weekly yoga class taught by one of my besties, Marci. It has been a highly beneficial activity to prepare my body once again for childbirth- and where I can, for 1 hour, focus with desperate concentration on not passing any gas (which I have in abundance at this time) in that oh so very, very quiet room. It has also been a special opportunity for Josh at home with the children to discover that it is, indeed, possible to happen upon a destroyed library book-and to then discover the guilty party with his entire body inside the guinea pig cage covered in shavings, EVEN THOUGH HE HAD TURNED A KID MOVIE ON.
Since I'm practically a health nut now (on Thursdays for several hours), I decided to try a baked oatmeal recipe. We all loved it- even Josh, who normally detests oatmeal. This is super hearty, and the little bit of streusel on top really makes it delish!

Baked Banana Oatmeal
Serves 6
source: adapted from

For the Oatmeal:
2 1/2 cups oats
2 1/2 cups water
3 Tbl. brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbl. cinnamon
2-3 bananas

For the Topping:
2 Tbl. oats
2 Tbl. brown sugar
1 Tbl. flour
2 Tbl. butter, softened

Optional Serving Additions:
whip cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine first 5 ingredients for the oatmeal in a large mixing bowl. Slice the bananas, and fold into oatmeal. Pour the oatmeal into a casserole dish (I used an 11x7 baking pan).
Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make your topping: mix the oats, brown sugar, and flour. Using your fingers, add the softened butter. Mix until crumbly.
Remove oatmeal from the oven, and sprinkle on the topping. Bake an additional 30 minutes, or until topping begins to brown.
Serve with desired serving additions.
*If you would like to bake this the night before, refrigerate overnight-then heat in the oven at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

I can't tell you how much Guinea loves Carson....and that is because she doesn't.