Friday, September 27, 2013

Tres Leches...but which ones?!

I changed divisions within the pediatric department in July.  It's not what I originally thought I'd be doing but it was definitely an opportunity given to be by God!  I have been working in the pediatric neurology clinic and the people I work with are great!  My division chair is so helpful and encouraging, always available to help me and so supportive of family.  One of the other physicians I had worked with in the past and so was excited to work with him again.  He is a great teach, hilarious, and helpful.  The whole department is like a family...see my crazy and fun co-workers?!
  So, when it was Brad's birthday, we all got together for lunch.  I decided that was the perfect time to make my Daring Baker challenge for the month...a Tres Leches cake!  Inma of la Galletika was our Sept. 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy.. just plain delish!

The cake was very easy to make and turned out great.  I used a springform pan rather than a regular cake pan.  I think this just makes it easier to remove and cut.  When I told everyone that I made a tres leches cake I was immediately asked what the three milks were.  Brad's guess:  goat, cow, and...well, something wrong!  The recipe calls for evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and milk (though I used almond milk).  Be careful, though, when you make the syrup....THIS is what happens if it overflows!
 I decided to use cinnamon to flavor the cake, but I was a little unsure about what to use for the filling.  All the examples I saw used fruit but I didn't know what people would want...and was using this for Brad's birthday cake.  So...I decided to make a nutella cream filling.  I just took a half cup of nutella and mixed it with some of the whipped cream I made for the outside.  I thought it turned out good. Of course, David's comment was that you couldn't taste the nutella.  Alas! 
Everyone at the office liked it.  The description was "like tiramisu without the coffee."  Brad even said that, after having five cakes that day, this cake was his favorite!  Thanks, Inma, for such a delicious challenge!

Classic Three Milks Cake:

Servings: 12
Ingredients for the vanilla sponge cake
5 large eggs (separated)
½ cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (125 gm) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) of vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) (5 oz) (140gm) all-purpose (plain) flour (sifted)
For three milks syrup
1 can (14 oz) (400 gm) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 oz) (340 gm) evaporated milk
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream (about 35% fat) or 1 cup of half & half or 1 cup milk
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons (10 ml) rum (or other flavoring)
Topping and filling
2 cups (500 ml) of whipping cream (about 30% fat)
½ cup (120 ml) (4 oz) (125 gm) sugar
Canned or fresh fruit (to fill and decorate the cake)
Directions For the Sponge Cake:
  1. Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Prepare a square 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) pan or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan
  2. Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
  3. Beat the egg whites on medium speed, 3 - 5 minutes.
  4. When soft peaks form slowly add the sugar in small batches.
  5. Whip until stiff peaks form about 5 minutes. Set aside.  
  6. In a medium bowl beat egg yolks at medium-high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the egg yolks become pale colored, creamy and puffy. (OR hand beat...yes sir I did!)Stir in vanilla.
  7. Pour the egg yolks over the egg whites, gently fold until just combined trying not to lose any volume from the mixture.
  8. Fold in the flour little by little in the form of rain. Mix until just combined (over-beating will result in a denser, flatter cake).
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) square cake pan or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan.
  10. Bake in the preheated moderate oven for 25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean
  11. Let it cool.
Three milks syrup
  1. In a saucepan add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream and cinnamon stick, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and continue boiling for 5 minutes. Remove it and let it cool.
  2. Once it is cool, add the rum or any other flavoring you are using
  3. Gradually brush all the milk soaking liquid into all sides of the cake (including the cut surfaces) until all absorbed. Best to rest the cake in the fridge overnight to complete the soaking process. 
  1. Whip the cream, when soft peaks form add the sugar little by little, continue whipping until stiff peaks form about 2 mins. 
Cut the cooled cake in half and place the bottom half on a cake plate.  Poke with a fork to allow the cake to absorb the milk syrup.  Spoon the syrup over the cake so that it is soaked!  Top the bottom layer with your desired filling.  Top with the second layer of cake.  Poke holes in that layer and spoon with syrup until soaked!  Cover with whipped cream topping.  Refrigerate for at least an hour...longer is better!  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Getting to Know You (#2)...Oops!

"Getting to know you, getting to know all about you"  Such a fun song from a great musical!  Well, the MS Women Bloggers are doing a "Getting to Know You" series.  Apparently, I missed the first one.  I am not going to let that happen again! So, without further ado...get to know me!

Mississippi Women Bloggers

1.  What is your favorite thing to do in your hometown?
Hmmm...that's a tough one.  In high school I probably would have said go to football games.  Currently, the thing I do most often is go to church.  We don't live there anymore but make the drive to go to church every Wednesday and Sunday.  Would LOVE to move back SOON...and join in the fun events Clinton is having now like movies on the Old Towne brick streets, Summer farmer's markets, and brick streets festivals.

2. What is the best vacation spot in Mississippi?
Another toughie!  I haven't really done any of the tourist stuff in MS.  Is it bad that I've never been to Natchez?  YIKES!

3. Tell us about the most fun date night idea in Mississippi.
Y'all...I need some help here!  When I was dating my awesome hubby, we also had to take into consideration a toddler as he was a single Daddy.  So, we didn't get many date nights (and still don't!).  Our first date (though we didn't realize it at the time) was to the MS state fair...and I must say it is a fun date night!  I hadn't been to the State Fair in about ten years (as I told David MANY times before he finally invited me to join him and K that year!) but I think that it is going to definitely become a yearly thing for us.
Another good one - pumpkin patch!

4.  What is one fun fact that very few people know about you?
I have an essay that was published in a book...and I even held a book signing at Le Muria!  Ok, so only my family and close friends came but still...I had a book signing!

5.  Who is your favorite sports team (if you have one) and how did it start?
Chicago Cubs!  It all started during the home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire (yikes...both apparently did steroids!).  I was a bit tired of the Braves and the Cubs were frequently on TV due to WGN.  I have continued to love the Cubs through a few good year of regular season followed by AWFUL post season...into the last few years of horridness (I know...I made up that word!).  But y' year it will be their year.  I have to hold on to that!  Plus...Wrigley Field is AWESOME!  Being a fan of the Cubs also came in handy when David and I were "talking."  He says it gave him something to text me also gave him a way out of a little bit of an awkward situation (though VERY sweet comment) before we started dating (or even acknowledged that there was something going on between us).  :-)

6.  What are your top three “Best Eats” in Mississippi?
1. Walker's Drive-in (Got engaged here!)
2.  Julep Fried Green Tomato Eggs Benedict (had our first breakfast as married couple here after we missed the already paid for brunch at Fairfield Inn by like 15 seconds...grrr)
3.  A home grown MS tomato!

7.  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Well, likely still in MS (unless we decide to go closer to our families in AL/TN)...but most likely still here...hopefully back in my hometown.  I'd love to have more kids at that point and will probably still be working (I LOVE being a pediatrician!).  I would love to have been on a medical mission trip by that time, too.  Yikes, in 5 years, K will be 9.

8.  If you could choose an actress to play you in real life, who would you choose and why?
Hmmm...probably Ann Hathaway just became we are both pale and brunette!

9.  What is a southern tradition you and your family have? (Note: Get your guest posts on “Traditions” ready for December!)
Hmmm...this is a really hard one!  We haven't really been big on traditions in my family.  I guess the biggest one is everyone getting together at my parent's house for Thanksgiving.  They we have a set menu: Wednesday tacos, Thursday Thanksgiving meal, Friday gumbo.  It is the same every year and we love it!  That's why Thanksgiving is my favorite!  Now, I do want to start some traditions with my own family - like new pajamas on Christmas Eve. :-)

10.  List 5 things on your Bucket List you hope to do before you die.
1. Go on a mission trip with David.
2. Have more children - I'd love three but we shall she what God blesses us with!  K is ready...she is always asking when God is going to give us a baby.  :-)
3. Cook through a cookbook (I'm actually pretty close on this one...the recipes left are the ones I'm not so interested in!)
4. Beat my dad in a game of racquetball
5. Beat David at a trivia game.

BONUS: Not that I REALLY want to do this (or ever would be able to...or if it is even still in production) but I always thought it would be so much fun to be on supermarket sweep.  I mean, I would totallly rock at running around the store at the end throwing things into the buggy!  Anyone else?!

Now...what about you?!

Friday, September 20, 2013


It's Friday!  That means something different for everyone.  For some people it's the last day of school, for some the last of work, for some the first of work.  Today...for me it means David comes home from a week of pediatric board review in Ann Arbor.  YAY!  For many people, especially here in the south it means Friday Night Football.  Then comes Saturday and Sunday...which for many people means tailgating...and tailgating means food!  Add food to football and friends...then a win...PAYDAY (oh, by the way...that's what Friday means to some people too!).  I haven't really been part of a family that tailgates but if I was, I think I'd make this dessert for tailgating.
It's called Payday Bars because it is similar to the Payday candy bars.  YUM!  This isn't really a dessert that David would go for (I just made him one that I'll tell you about's actually good...and chocolate!) but he would probably want to take beef rotel to tailgating anyway.
Mississippi Women Bloggers

 Check out other tailgating ideas with the MS Women Bloggers!

Payday Bars
1 yellow cake mix
1 egg
1 stick melted butter
3 cups mini-marshmallows
1 bag peanut butter chips
1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup)
3 cups rice krispies
3 cups (could totally use less) salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix cake mix, egg, and melted butter.  Press into 13x9 pan, put pan in oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Press the marshmallows on top of the hot cake.  Melt peanut butter chips and butter.  Then stir in the rice krispies.  Press on top of the marshmallows.  Then top with peanuts and press into the krispie mixture.  Allow to cool.  Enjoy!

For beef rotel, simply brown 1 pound ground beef (or turkey or chicken or sausage).  Meanwhile, make a batch of regular rotel (1 pound velveeta and a can of rotel tomatoes melted and stirred together).  Drain meat and stir into cheese mixture.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


We love Mexican dishes around here...especially David and K.  I think they would eat Mexican daily if I'd let them.  I mean, I like Mexican but three weeks of Sunday Mexican out AND me making Mexican during the week is enough.  I definitely prefer the Mexican at home. 
I found a recipe for Chicken Verde Burritos the other day and thought it sounded really good.  I thought I pinned the recipe but then later I couldn't find it; so, I just made my own!  It turned out REALLY good.  I think I'll likely repeat this in the future.  Despite K's face here...she LOVED this.  Devoured it!
 And you can easily make it vegetarian if you want to.  I actually used a Rotisserie chicken that was on sale at Kroger, which made the dish super quick and easy...perfect for ballet nights!

Chicken Verde Burritos
1 rotisserie chicken (breast meat only)
8 flour tortillas (we used low carbs...K picked them out)
1 jar tomatillo salsa
1.5 cans beans (I ran out with two tortillas to go!)
1 can sliced mushrooms (this was for me)
cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Open one can of beans.  Stir in 1/2 cup of tomatillo salsa.  Pull the breast meat off the chicken. 
Then place the ingredients in each tortilla as follows: chicken, beans, cheese.  (Omit chicken and add mushrooms for vegetarian)
Do this on the side of the tortilla closest to you.  Then wrap the tortilla by folding the tortilla towards the center, then fold the edges in (toward the center), then keep rolling into the closed burrito.  By folding the edges in, that keeps the chicken filling in.  Do this with all the tortillas.  Then pour the remaining tomatillo salsa over all the tortillas and top with more cheese.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until everything is bubbly.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Overloaded....with peanut butter!

This was another one of our Sunday baking escapades. 
Peanut butter overload bars.  They ended up not being quite as gooey as I wanted or expected them to be.  That is likely because I decided to use margarine instead of butter...thinking the peanut butter we add enough fats.  Oh well.  David said they were still good...and the ER staff seemed to enjoy them too. 
You do have to look ahead in the recipe, something I am not good about doing AT ALL!  These require mini Reese's and peanut butter snickers (which are SO good, by the way).  I didn't notice the snickers and just used peanut butter chips...but I'm sure they would be even better with the Snickers.  YUM!

3 cups all purpose flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 sticks salted butter, slightly softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
1 cup milk chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet chocolate)
1 cup Reese's Minis (the tiny ones that come unwrapped in a big bag)
10 fun sized Peanut Butter Snickers, quartered (I used a cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.  In the bowl of your mixer, beat butter, peanut butter, and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Stop the mixer to scrape the sides of the bowl before adding the eggs one at a time, beating after each. Scrape the sides of the bowl again.  Add the dry ingredients with the mixer on low speed.  Mix until just incorporated. Using a wooden spoon, make sure all the flour mixture from the bottom of the bowl is mixed in (batter will be thick). Fold in chips and candies and spread in prepared baking pan.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until batter is puffed and brown on edges and dark golden all over. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Congratulatory Cookie Cake

David always has a cookie cake for his birthday.  I didn't get a chance to make his this year for birthday (though he had one when we visiting his parents) but I did make one to celebrate him completing the medicine boards.  It was actually kind of fun...I made it the day before and hit it in our guest room.  Ha! 
I found this recipe that claimed to be just like the cookie cakes that you buy.  I'm not sure I'd say that but only because the pan they instruct you to use makes the cookie so thick!  Texture-wise it was GREAT.  Moist and gooey.  I thought it was great.  David thought it was great. And the other residents thought it was great, too!  I do think I'd make this again.  The instructions say to use a cake pan but I used a spring form pan which was great.  Definitely as good as a store bought cookie cake even if not exactly like it. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake from Life, Love, and Sugar
Yield: one 8 or 9-inch cookie cake

Cookie Cake
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch (I think this may be the key)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips OR about 1 cup of chocolate chunks

Vanilla Buttercream
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp water

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, add flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.  Stir in chocolate chips. Dough will be thick.  Chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper into the bottom of your cake pan (I actually used a springform pan) to help the cookie not stick. Spread the dough out into the cake pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden.
Remove from oven and let cool for a couple minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

For Vanilla Buttercream
Beat the shortening and butter until smooth. Slowly add 3 cups of powdered sugar. Mix until combined. Mix in the vanilla extract and 1 tbsp water. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add more water to get the right consistency.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Banana Bran Muffins

Most weeks, K goes through all the bananas I buy.  But sometimes she eats something when we had watermelon.  She loved that and kept requesting it in the morning instead of banana.  So, I ended up with extra bananas.  Not that I'm complaining; I love making banana baked goods.  Another thing I love is bran muffins.  So, a few weeks ago, K and I made banana bran muffins.  These were so simple to make and turned out surprisingly moist and delicious!  I think David even liked them.  :-)

 Banana Bran Muffins adapated from Max and Kaylee who adapted from Fuss Free Cooking
1 cup bran cereal
1/2 cup milk
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup olive oil
1 egg
1 cup flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 375ยบ.  In large bowl, mix bran cereal and milk together.  Let sit for about 5 minutes, allowing the cereal to soak up the milk.  In a separate bowl, mash the bananas.  Add cereal-milk mixture and mix well.  Add oil and egg, stirring well to incorporate.  Next, add flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar.  Stir until just combined.  Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Different Kind of Burger

MANY months ago I pinned some chicken burger recipes that I wanted to try but the chicken was never on sale and I hadn't gotten my meat grinder yet.  However, a few weeks ago, ground chicken was on sale at Kroger, so I got three pounds.  Over the last three weeks, I've made two ground chicken dishes.  I liked them both; David said they were okay.  First I made these pesto chicken burgers.
 They ended up a little dry, which could be partly due to the fact that it's chicken; but, I do believe I overcooked them some.  The pesto was a fun addition but there needed to be a little more seasoning.  All in all it was a nice change of pace.  We like burgers around her and I tend to stick to bean burgers, so I know that David was glad to have "meat" burgers!  The recipe below has a recipe for homemade pesto, but we had some on hand that i wanted to use, so I just used about a tablespoon of pesto in the burgers.

PESTO CHICKEN BURGER  from The Spiffy Cookie

Serves 4
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup baby spinach
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup walnuts
4 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for grilling
1 Tbsp water
Salt and pepper
1 lb. ground chicken breast
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 whole wheat buns, halved
If making pest, puree basil, spinach, garlic, walnuts, oil, and water in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. In a large bowl, combine 1 tablespoon pesto, salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and chicken. Form into desired size patties.  I got six, this recipe said 4. Lightly oil hot grill. Grill patties, covered, or 4 minutes. Flip patties and cook through.

Prepare buns and top with tomato, lettuce and cheese as desired.  Enjoy!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Secret not SO Secret

Have you ever seen those recipes that say something about a "secret ingredient" or "you won't believe what ingredient makes these cookies the best?"  Yes?  I have too.  And guess what!  Most of the time, that secret ingredient is pudding.  I don't know...that doesn't seem so secret to me; especially when the secret ingredient is always pudding.  (Ok, so not ALWAYS...but most of the time.)  I actually made my own pudding cookies many years ago, but that's not the recipe I'll share today.  Today's recipe comes from a new site for me, I heart naptime.  K and I made these a few Sundays ago...we seem to be developing a Sunday afternoon baking ritual after she's taken a nap and I get home from boot camp while Daddy keeps napping.  Fun girl time.  And I do love baking with this beautiful sweetie! 
I ended up not having any vanilla pudding so we used butterscotch.  I don't think David even knew it was butterscotch.  One of the things I liked about this recipe was that it wasn't ALL chocolate chips.  A definitely enjoy a good sugar cookie more than a chocolate chip cookie but if you throw in some white chocolate chips in place of some of the chocolate chips I like it better.  David enjoyed these, too.  I guess some chocolate is better than none!  Now, don't get me wrong, the pudding really does make the cookies SO much better.  The texture is soft but not cakey and the flavor is enhanced greatly.  I just don't think it's so much of a secret anymore.  So join us bakers in using pudding in your cookies and enjoy! 

Double Chocolate Pudding Cookies from I Heart Naptime
 1 cup margarine (or butter) softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3.4 oz pkg sugar free instant butterscotch pudding mix
2 eggs (at room temp)
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir in pudding mix (dry) and vanilla. Beat in one egg at a time. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda and baking powder. Then slowly stir into the wet ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spoon cookie dough onto the baking sheet/stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy! 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cooking by Letter!

There is a new online "gathering" of bloggers that recently started - specifically for MS women bloggers.  Each month a different blogger is "featured," there is a wordless Wednesday submission, and a "Foodie Fridays" feature.  This week, I am the writer for Foodie Fridays.  If you want to see what K and I have been up to recently, check it our here!  We have 25 more letters to we missed A and B.  ;-)

Monday, September 02, 2013

Cuban Black Beans

The early part of the week is busy for me.  A long day on Monday (simply meaning clinic all day) then K has ballet on Tuesday at 545.  So, one of these two days it's nice to have a quick or crock pot meal to make.  The other day, K came home from school saying that she had eaten rice and beans for lunch and liked it.  Now, the girl loves just about any food, so I wasn't surprised. 
However, David enjoys beans as well and I'm always looking for vegetarian options we'll all like.  So, I decided to try this out.  I ended up finding a Cuban black bean recipe on pinterest.  So, I set it up and turned that crock pot on.  When we got home, we had dinner waiting.  The recipe has you cook the onions and peppers first but I just threw it all in the crock pot raw.  It turned out good.  I forgot to get cilantro, which I think would have added a lot to the dish but no biggie.  You serve this over rice then top with whatever you want.  K and David enjoyed cheese on theirs.  I just enjoyed mine with salsa!  It made a lot and was perfect for topping salads and making wraps.

Cuban Black Beans

1 pound dried black beans (see soaking method below...I used slow soak)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 large onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh cilantro leaves, chopped 

    Soak the black beans using one of the methods below before using. 
    Crockpot Directions:
  1. Put all ingredients in crock pot (after draining the beans)
  2. Cook on high 4-5 hours on high or 8 hours on low until beans are very soft.  Remove bay leaf. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and your choice of toppings.
  3. Quick Soak Method: Sort and rinse beans. Add to a large pot with 6-8 cups cold water, bring to a rapid boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 water. Drain and rinse before using.
    Long Soak Method: The night before sort through the dried beans and throw away any stones. Rinse under cold water and place in a pot with 6-8 cups of water and allow to soak overnight.* Drain and rinse before using.