Monday, April 25, 2011

2011 New Recipe #7

Happy Easter! I had such a great Easter weekend full of fun, friends, and feelings of gratitude for my Savior.

I'm one of those lucky people who doesn't have to work on Good Friday (first job in my life that considered it a holiday thanks to my good Catholic employers!) so I slept in, ran at the Back Bay, went to the beach, and had dinner with friends at BJ's Restaurant on Balboa Peninsula (and caught the second half of the Lakers game during dinner).

Saturday morning I went to the temple and then rode bikes to the beach. The water is still pretty cold (60 degrees!) but I got in waist-deep and Naco & Wendy went all the way in (and Ali put her feet in)! Saturday evening was Adrienne & Colton's wedding reception at The Cannery. It was a beautiful, relaxed dinner and so fun to see Adrienne glowing with happiness and love. At the end of the reception, we all held sparklers as Adrienne & Colton boated away.

Sunday morning I went to church. Sometimes I feel like we don't focus on Easter enough in our meetings but this Sunday was definitely not that way! As a choir, we sang several songs and there were two fantastic speakers who talked about our Savior's love for us and about the week leading to His crucifixion. The Spirit was so strong throughout the whole day. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such powerful influences of righteousness!

After church a small group of us headed to the beach to play bocce ball. This was my first attempt at bocce ball and it was lots of fun. I could use a little more practice, though... :) Then it was back home to get ready for Easter dinner. I was in charge of the salad so I found a recipe for Strawberry Spinach Salad, which I've eaten many times but don't remember making (hurray for another new recipe!). Dinner was at Wendy, Ali, & Jeanette's house. I think there were about 20 people there, wow! We had a great time and dinner was delicious! We had roasted pork, rosemary potatoes, salad, asparagus, rolls, coconut cake and cupcakes!

While I miss my family and would love to watch my nieces and nephews hunt Easter eggs, I had a great time celebrating Easter with my awesome friends. I am grateful for this time in my life!

Ok, onto the recipe. I didn't change anything when I made this recipe. BUT I only used half of the dressing for the amount of spinach, strawberries, and almonds they called for. It was a hit! We ate all of it and part of another batch.


  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach - rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 quart strawberries - cleaned, hulled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


When I was a junior in high school, Abbey and I went to Atwoods in Bartlesville to buy baling wire for prom (the junior class is in charge of decorating and I was the president). Prom was right before Easter and, being a farm store, Atwoods had a whole bunch of darling little ducklings. They had all sorts of colors to choose from and I kind of fell in love with the little guys. I don’t recall debating very long before I decided to buy a little duckie. I named him Milo. If I remember correctly, Abbey had to hold him in her lap all the way home. I loved him for about a week and then he got big, messy, and loud. He pooped everywhere and tore up Mom & Dad’s pretty fish pond with the lily pads. And he stunk. I don’t remember how long I had him but luckily I had a coworker at Caney Valley Electric that had a bunch of ducks so he was happy to take him off my hands. I’m sure Milo made a great Easter dinner at some point.

I wish I would have taken a picture of that little guy. He sure was cute for a minute.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2011 New Recipe #6

My dear former roommate, Betsy, got married and had darling twin boys, Judah and Asher. On Sunday, Betsy and Nick invited me to Oceanside for the baby blessings. Sunday was a beautiful day and I loved my drive down the coast to visit them. I attended their ward and was thrilled to be there for the blessings. I love baby blessings and these were no exception. The Spirit was strong as Nick blessed each of his boys. I was happy to be a part of their special day.

After church, we all went to Betsy & Nick's apartment, which is just a block from the PCH with a beautiful ocean view. Family and friends from near and far visited and laughed while we ate a yummy lunch that Betsy prepared. I was in charge of dessert and wanted to try a new recipe (of course). Not too long ago I heard about hummingbird cake and wanted to try it so when I came across a recipe for hummingbird cupcakes, my decision was easy. I have to admit that I've always been a little afraid of hummingbirds. They are like overgrown bees! Alas, this recipe doesn't actually use hummingbirds so I'll just have to continue avoiding the unnatural little pests. To quote the recipe, "Though it's not known exactly how the hummingbird cake got its name, some say the traditional Southern treat is so labeled because it's as sweet as the sugared water used to attract the quick-moving birds."

The cupcakes were good. Very moist and flavorful. I think I might like the recipe as a cake better, though. The cupcakes were very dense and they stuck to the cute little paper liners (if you make them, either spray the liners with cooking spray or don't use liners). Next time I will make a pretty 3 layer cake. The recipe only yields one dozen cupcakes so I doubled it. And I didn't like the frosting recipe they used so I used Melissa's, which I love. And I used a pastry bag and tip to pipe the frosting onto the first time doing that! It was fun and mostly successful. I'm sure I'll get better with time. The picture below was provided with the recipe. I didn't care to buy fondant and make hummingbirds and didn't put nuts on top. Another fun baking night!

Hummingbird Cupcakes

Though it's not known exactly how the hummingbird cake got its name, some say the traditional Southern treat is so labeled because it's as sweet as the sugared water used to attract the quick-moving birds. In this miniature version from Georgetown Cupcake founders Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne, cupcakes baked with fresh banana, pineapple, and pecan are topped with a classic vanilla cream cheese frosting.

Yield Makes 1 dozen

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas (from about 3 large bananas)
  • 1 tablespoon clover honey
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • Vanilla cream cheese frosting
  • 1 (24-ounce) package white fondant
  • Blue gel paste food coloring
  • Edible luster dust (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.

  3. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium speed until fluffy. Add sugar, and cream together until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating slowly after each addition. Add banana and honey and mix on low until well combined. Add pineapple; mix on low until combined. Add 1/2 cup pecans; mix on low until well combined.

  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add one-third of the flour mixture, followed by one-third of the hot water. Repeat process twice, alternating flour mixture and hot water, and ending with hot water. Mix until just combined.

  6. Fill each muffin cup two-thirds full with batter. Transfer to oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 24 to 26 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cupcakes cool completely.

  7. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a large 5/8-inch round tip (such as Ateco #808). Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes and set aside.

  8. Meanwhile, press your thumb into the center of the fondant to make a well. Place a small amount of food coloring in the well and knead fondant until color is well blended. Continue to add more food coloring to fondant until desired color is achieved. Roll out into a 1/16-inch-thick sheet. Cut out 12 hummingbirds using a small bird-shaped cutter; sprinkle with luster dust, if using.

  9. Sprinkle cupcakes with remaining 1/2 cup pecans and top each with a fondant bird shape; serve.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.