Tuesday, April 27, 2010


It's been said by many. It's been misunderstood by many. For instance, my mom was in town a couple of weekends ago to see the opera I was in and kept saying how she doesn't understand how I can live in NYC. She can only deal with the tall buildings and close surroundings for about 3 days.

There are just so many things I could say about NY. Today I shall just share one experience.

I was in my kitchen this past Sunday looking at my sifter and thinking about a line from the opera I was just in. It was in old English and the father said, "I shall go and sift her." I'm sure it means "I will go and set her straight" but I couldn't help but think about baking. lol
All of a sudden I heard tons of honking from the street below. I ran to the window where my beautiful cake was cooling.
I stopped to admire its beauty and thought how lovely the top of it would be for wall paper on a computer.

I was shaken out of my state of admiration with the noise of music. There was an accordion outside!!!
There was dancing outside!
On this dreary Sunday, the superintendent's family was celebrating and I had a bird's eye view. It was like the whole street was celebrating and the gray clouds were a thing of the past. Then the bride arrived and a even fresher breath of air flowed through the street. And wouldn't you know it! She started dancing too!
I forced myself from the mesmerizing scene to finish my dessert that I was bringing to a board game night I was attending in Brooklyn that evening. Yep! Another reason I love NY. One second a street dance party, the next Bananagrams!
Oh, and by the way...yes, the dessert I made WAS messy.
Peanut Bars (from my Mom's Best Recipes Book)
Sponge Cake:
2 eggs
1 C sugar
1/2 C milk
1 T butter
1 t vanilla
1 C flour (bread flour is good)
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
half and half
powdered sugar
unsalted peanuts
In a small saucepan, scald milk, add butter. Beat eggs until light, add sugar and beat well. Mix in flour, baking powder, and salt that have been sifted together. Stir in vanilla and milk mixture. Bake in greased pan (about 7 1/2 by 10 inches) for about 20 minutes at 325 degrees. Cool well. Cut in narrow bars.
Frost sides and bottom with frosting made with powdered sugar and thin cream (half & half). Roll in unsalted peanuts that have been ground in a food processor.
Bake well and prosper!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

There IS Nature in NYC

The other weekend I walked about Central Park taking pictures of the beautiful colors that nature had given NYC.
Whoa. That’s not it! That comes later. *shuffling through pictures* Ah. Here we go.

Promptly after enjoying nature, I buried myself in my kitchen to make some delicious brownies. Delicious = Malibu Rum.
Once again, here's another super natural brownie recipe with a couple of added "extras."
Make brownie batter and then add Malibu Rum (shouldn't exceed a cup.) Bake. With 10 minutes left to bake, add coconut on top for a nice toasted coconut topping.
Bake well and prosper!

*Thanks to Jen who took the picture of me pouring the rum!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Because I bake a lot (who, me?) I always seem to have miscellaneous this and that left over from various recipes. The other week I decided to make chocolate chip cookies and add some of the extra ingredients that were hanging about my kitchen. First, instead of a cup and 2 Tablespoons of flour, I used a cup of flour and then 2 Tablespoons of coconut flour. Then, I added all the almond slivers I had, some oatmeal, milk chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, and white chocolate chips. See? I decided to name these "Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies" because, well, that was pretty much everything but the kitchen sink that I threw in. I brought these scrumptious delights to an opera I was performing in. They were a huge hit. But then again, what opera singer doesn't like cookies?

Everything but the Kitchen Sink Cookies
1 stick of margarine/butter (I find that margarine will make them softer. Yum!)
1/2 cup of white sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 egg well beaten
1 cup of flour
2 Tablespoon of coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla (use the real thing....imitation vanilla is a poser!)
1/4 teaspoon of warm water (DO IT! TRUST ME!)
And then throw in what you've got left in YOUR kitchen. :)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix margarine, sugars, and egg together until margarine chunks are quite small and well beaten. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together and then stir until well mixed. Add vanilla and then mix. Water and then mix. And then add in the extras last. Place dollops of dough on cookie sheet with plenty of room between each dollop. Bake 8-10 minutes.Erika's Extra Notes: To get very lovely and soft cookies, take out of oven when they are still fluffy/slightly uncooked looking. They will cook more while cooling. If baking two sheets at once, make sure to switch the top to the bottom and vice-versa half way through baking.

Bake well and prosper!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter and Spring!

I’m currently sitting in a cafĂ© in NYC writing this blog. I have just finished being the cantor at an 8:30am Easter Mass and have an hour break before I have to meet with the choir to rehearse for the 12:30pm Mass. That Mass will be the 6th church service I’ve sung at since Thursday night. And if I wasn’t already super busy, I figured I would make three different things with chocolate cake yesterday to celebrate Easter/spring so as to make my life even busier. Yes, I’m considering seeking help....
“What’s that?” you might be wondering. Well, none other than a bunny. Duh.

Oh, fine….here….see for yourself.
See?! A bunny!

So, all you have to do is make cake batter, fill some mini cupcake pans with one spoonful of the batter, and then bake. Just remove from pan after the cake is done baking. Once cooled, take one circle and cut the football shaped ears from one end of the circle and then the other end (I used a spoon). That leaves you with the cute bow tie. Then decorate.Warning: that one little bunny took forever to decorate. Second warning/bonus: It will be messy. :)
But hey! You can make a bunny with your hands!
No? Well, whatever….you can still lick the frosting off! BONUS!
Ok…moving on. I didn’t have time to create many of the bunnies since they took forever. So, I took the mini cupcakes and made, well, cupcakes.
THEN, I made a few normal sized cupcakes and added white chocolate candy melt on top. With my grade school level of drawing, I celebrated spring by using edible markers and drawing some designs.
So, with all those varieties of cake, I’m READY for spring. Maybe next Easter/spring I will remember to schedule in a nap.

Bake well and prosper!