Brownie Bites

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I love making treats for the kids I babysit. It brings me such joy to see them smile. Here was a fun idea to make brownies on a stick. My original plan was to frost them pink and decorate, at least I got them pink! YUMMY!


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WOW! Again it's been awhile! 2011 is off to a great start! Over the past several months I have not had a lot of free time. With my part time job at the American Land Conservancy, my part time job working with a Realtor, my babysitting and being a Stylist with Stella and Dot there is not a lot of time to bake! During the last few months I have found out what is important to me and baking really is! One of my 2011 goals is to bake more and learn more about the art of baking! For Halloween I made really yummy vanilla cupcakes with a spider web decoration! Take a peak!

Home Made Raviolis

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Last weekend I went to my friend Janine's parent's house to help make the yearly batch of home made raviolis for the holidays. Janine explained that every year her grandma and the sisters made raviolis for the holidays. Since her grandma is in her late 80's she didn't feel like making them this year. So, Janine's dad wanted to carry on the tradition and make them. I had such a blast learning how to make these yummy filled pillows of heaven! We made three kinds, acorn squash, spinach with ricotta cheese and a meat version. Being able to make your own pasta a rolling it out on the table in the garage was so much fun. Using a rolling devise with the square cut out's on it made me feel like I was in Italy! The end product turned out so yummy and now I can't imagine eating anything else than freshly made raviolis!

John's Birthday!

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I can't believe it's already October! Where did time go?? So, because time has been flying past me, I didn't have time to make a elaborate cake for John's birthday. So, I ended up using a recipe that I go to a lot when there is not a lot of time! It was just John and I for his birthday dinner and then home for a little cake celebration. I thought the cake turned out really yummy. I also didn't want it to be too rich so I just poured the chocolate ganache over the top of the cake. The cake recipe is from Alice Medrich's book, "Chocolate Holidays"

I love Alice Medrich not only because I use to go to her chocolate store, Cocolat on Fillmore when I was growing up but because her recipes are easy to follow and ALWAYS taste great!

4-1/2 oz. (1 cup) all-purpose flour
1 oz. (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutchprocessed)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. table salt
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and warm
1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1 cup warm Ganache

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350 F. Grease the bottom of an 9x2-inch round cake pan or line it with parchment.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift only if the cocoa remains lumpy after whisking. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Add the eggs and vanilla; stir until well blended. Add the flour mixture all at once and stir just until all the flour is moistened. Pour the hot water over the batter; stir just until it’s incorporated and the batter is smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes for a 9-inch pan; 35 to 40 min. for an 8-inch pan. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 min. Run a thin knife around the edge and invert the cake (peel off the parchment if necessary). Invert it again onto the rack and let cool completely.

Once cool, set the rack over a baking sheet or foil. Pour the warm ganache over the cake and use an icing spatula to spread it over the top of the cake and down the sides. Let set for about an hour before serving.

Sushi on a budget!

One of my favorite ways to eat tofu is fried,tofu agedashi. It's crispy on the outside and soft in the inside. On Thursday we both really really wanted to go out for sushi but decided it was a bad idea. Instead I used the tofu and all the veggies in the fridge to make a little stir fry. I also thought it would be much more economical to buy sushi at the market. We easily saved ourselves $75! I am so proud of us, for not eating out!

Baby Shower

One of my very very good friends is having a baby boy in about 3 weeks! About two weeks ago her mom threw a baby shower for her. It was so much fun. I was asked to make all the desserts and was so honored that her mother would trust me with this task! Mary, the mother to be's mom wanted to do a french theme. I made Gâteau aux carrottes (french style carrot cake), rose water Madeleines, Korova Cookies, and mini lemon tarts! I think everything turned out so yummy!
The shower was on Saturday afternoon so I knew I had to get busy prepping on Friday. Actually, I ended up making the dough for the Korova cookies on Thursday night and then baking Friday night. Friday night was a busy one! I started at 5pm and finally went to bed at 12:30, and I was still not done. I woke up Saturday morning at 6 and made the mini tarts and carrot cake and I had 45 minutes to spare to wash all the flour and sugar out of my hair! I got so many compliments on how good everything tasted, the one thing I forgot to do is bring business cards to promote my business!
My friend, Lauren really enjoyed herself and is totally glowing and looks fantastic, I am so excited to meet her little boy. He is going to have so many people to love him.
I went to David Lebowitz's website and used a recipe for his carrot cake. Which he found in Lulu’s Provençal Table* by Richard Olney, foreword by Alice Waters.) I changed a few things to the original.

For the madeleines I used a recipe from Martha Stewart in her wedding section of her website. I ended up just added some rose water on top of the madeleines so it was not too sweet. The Kovora cookies were from Smitten Kitchen
And finally the mini lemon tarts with lemon curd were from many sources! The dough is a combination of several recipes that makes my own and the lemon curd is from my mom. I have no idea where she got the recipe!

Here is the recipe for the Carrot Cake:

8 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
pinch of salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups toasted walnuts
2/3 cup flour
1/4 cup, packed,finely grated carrot

1. Preheat the oven to 325F . Butter a 8x8 baking pan and line with a square of parchment paper.

2. Beat the butter, sugar and salt until smooth.

3. Meanwhile, pulverize the nuts and flour in a food processor or blender until relatively fine, but not powdery. If you don’t have a machine, simply chop the nuts by hand and toss them with the flour.

3. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Afterwards, stir in the ground nut mixture and the carrots, mixing just until smooth.

4. Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool, and cut in pieces to eat!

This recipe was so easy and turned out moist and perfect. Just sprinkle a little powered sugar on for presentation.

Really Good Blueberry Muffins!

On Wednesday, my work, American Land Conservancy had a staff meeting. Instead of buying store bought muffins I wanted to bring some freshly baked ones in. I pretty much use Smitten Kitchen as a place to find really yummy recipes. The recipe I found on her website looked and sounded pretty easy. So, I decided to use this one. I remember using creme friesh in a lemon cake instead of using sour cream and it tasted so good. The blueberry muffin recipe called for plain yogurt. Since I doubled this recipe I used half plain yogurt and half creme fraiche. I also lowered the sugar to 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup. I love a little crunch to my muffins so I added a topping of brown sugar and walnuts mixed with the juice of the blueberries. I think I made a winner!
I also made the batter the night before and in the morning added the blueberries so they would be extra fresh and warm when we ate them!

Perfect Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated(Find the original recipe at Smitten Kitchen)

Makes 16 to 18 standard muffins

10 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
3/4 cup of creme freshie
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, don’t bother defrosting)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well, then yogurt and zest. Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a sifter and sift half of dry ingredients over batter. Mix until combined. Sift remaining dry ingredients into batter and mix just until the flour disappears. Gently fold in your blueberries. The dough will be quite thick (and even thicker, if you used a full-fat Greek-style yogurt), closer to a cookie dough, which is why an ice cream scoop is a great tool to fill your muffin cups. You’re looking for them to be about 3/4 full, nothing more, so you might only need 9 instead of 10 cups. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean (you know, except for blueberry goo). Let cool on rack (ha), or you know, serve with a generous pat of butter.

It's been a while!

So, its been a while since the last time I have posted. There are a few reasons, one I am not baking just to bake. I have found that in the last year I have gained a few extra pounds due to eating yummy desserts. So, I have decided to only bake for reasons when it is necessary! Not just because I was craving a slice of chocolate cake. So, a few weeks ago, I wanted to bring in a treat for my staff meeting. I made Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats, from Baked! These things are dangerously good, an adult rice crispy treat! This was extremely easy to make, it just took a little time. Waiting for each layer to dry was so hard but, all I wanted to do was pour the chocolate in my mouth and drink like a smoothie!

(adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)

2 cups rice crispy cereal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
3 tbsp butter, melted

peanut butter layer
5 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter

chocolate topping
3 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
4 tbsp unsalted butter

To make the crust:
Spray an 8″ square pan with nonstick spray.
Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
Carefully mix the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high. Insert a candy thermometer and boil until the mixture is 235 F. Remove from heat, stir in the melted butter, then pour over the cereal and mix quickly and thoroughly. Press into the prepared pan and let cool while you make the peanut butter layer.

To make the peanut butter layer:
Melt the milk chocolate and peanut butter together in the top of a double boiler over gently simmering water. Stir until smooth, then pour over the crust and chill for an hour or until set.

To make the chocolate topping:
Clean out the double boiler, then put the dark chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in it and put it over medium-low heat. Stir until smooth, then remove from the heat, cool for about 30 seconds (stirring constantly), then pour all over the peanut butter layer. Chill for another hour so the topping can harden, then cut the bars into small squares to serve.


Chocolate Puddle Cookies


My mom went to visit my sister and my nieces last week. Since she lives about 15 minutes away from me she always will bring me home a little treat! Usually something with chocolate! This time she brought me a flour less chocolate walnut cookie from Nuvrei Bakery. This cookie had the perfect mix of sweet and salt! Yum! So, of course I tried to replicate it, I got really close. I found this recipe on 101 Cookbooks. Something happened to my cookies and they did not turn out flat looking and a little thin. The cookie from Nuvrei was chewy on the inside and shinny on the outside. I will have to try again! They still turned out really good!
Here is the recipe I used:

3 cups / 11 oz / 310 g walnut halves, toasted & cooled
4 cups / 1 lb / 453 g confectioner's (powdered) sugar

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons / 2 oz / 60 g unsweetened cocoa powder

scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon real, good-quality vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 320F / 160C degrees and position racks in the top and bottom third. Line three (preferably rimmed) baking sheets with parchment paper. Or you can bake in batches with fewer pans.

Make sure your walnuts have cooled a bit, then chop coarsely and set aside. Sift together the confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder, and sea salt. Stir in the walnuts, then add the egg whites and vanilla. Stir until well combined.

Spoon the batter onto the prepared sheets in mounds of about 2 tablespoons each, allowing for PLENTY of room between cookies. These cookies are like reverse Shrinky Dinks - they really expand. Don't try to get more than 6 cookies on each sheet, and try to avoid placing the batter too close to the edge of the pan.

Bake until they puff up. The tops should get glossy, and then crack a bit - about 12 -15 minutes. Have faith, they look sad at first, then really blossom. You may want to rotate the pans top/bottom/back/front.

Slide the cookies still on parchment onto a cooling rack, and let them cool completely. They will keep in an airtight for a couple days.

Makes 18 large cookies.

If you notice the pattern that my cookies are sitting on and like check out the following blog: Sharilyn has the cutest designs!
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Sour Cherry Coffee Cake


Yesterday I was at my new job and one of my coworkers brought me a large tupperwear of sour baking cherries from her house in Sonoma. Since I just started this job she had heard I love baking. I was so delighted that someone thought of me! Last night I found a recipe on Smitten Kitchen and she mentioned it would be good with sour cherries. Since she is my go to place for a recipe I had full trust in her.

Here is the recipe I used:

Big Crumb’ Coffeecake with Rhubarb
Adapted from The New York Times 6/6/07

Butter for greasing pan

For the rhubarb filling:
1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

For the crumbs:
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups cake flour (I was out and used all-purpose and it worked great)

For the cake:
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour (ditto on the all-purpose flour–worked just fine)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

2. To make crumbs [this step now updated, see comment #150] in a large bowl, whisk sugars, spices and salt into melted butter until smooth. Then, add flour with a spatula or wooden spoon. It will look and feel like a solid dough. Leave it pressed together in the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

3. To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

4. Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

5. Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

I tweaked the recipe a little by adding more ground ginger and a little less sugar. My crumbs topping did not turn out great, it sunk in the cake as it baked but turned out very good.

The picture of the cake is all I had left. Everyone at my work loved it and gobbled it up! Hopefully they weren't just being polite and forcing it down!

The next time I make it I want to try it with Rhubarb.
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Spring Rolls


Last Friday night my friend and I went to Burma Super Star for dinner. It was SO good. The whole dinner was a great experience from arriving there, we had to wait for about 30 minutes. So, we walked down Clement street discovering some new shops to explore in. When we were called for dinner we sat at a two top literally three inches next to a couple on a date. On the other side we had a young couple with two children, one youngest child was having dinner from her mother. My friend, a dedicated non meat eater wanted to order about 8 different dishes and I who was willing to try anything figured we shouldn't eat with our eyes! We ended up ordering the Tea Leaf Salad, Fried Yellow Bean Tofu, and the Mango Shrimp. The Tea Leaf Salad had so many textures and different tastes. The salad contains seeds and nuts, lettuce and other goodness, Burmese tea leaves, which, according to the restaurant's website, are actually from Burma. The Fired Yellow Bean Tofu was fresh tofu made in house and did not even taste like tofu. So yummy! The Mango Shrimp was spicy and sweet and just plain good! To wash this all down we ordered a pitcher of the Burma Cooler (I think that is what they called it). This made you want eat and drink more! The next day we went to the succulent sale at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. I came away with a box full of succulents and a HUGE smile! When we were done with the gardens we were famished and thought to make some veggie spring rolls. These were so easy to make and a fun thing to do with some music and great company!
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Fresh Bread

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I love bread! The one thing that I love even more than bread is fresh homemade bread! I made a loaf of 10 grain bread. I bought the flour from Bob's Old Red Mill it was really yummy. It was a little sweet and crunchy on the outside. A few weekends ago when I went to the Maker Faire I made fresh butter and had some left. So, the other night when the bread came out of the oven I had a piece of fresh bread with some homemade butter! What could be better? Fresh bread with homemade jam...I think I just figured out what I am going to make this weekend! YUM!

Maker Faire


Today I went to the Maker Faire with a few friends. We had a great time walking around the grounds and seeing all the different people who attended the Faire. I was really interested in the food making demos, craft demos and the Bizarre Bizarre. The funnest thing that we did was make butter! We thought it was going to take a really long time to make it, but surprisingly it only took about 10 minutes. You gotta shake it to make it! You fill a jar about half way full with heavy whipping cream and shake until the cream becomes solid and yellow. You will know when you have made butter!

Enjoy on fresh made bread!
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Ice Cream Cake


WOW! It's been a month since the last post I have done, I'm sorry! In the last month I have gotten some good news! I finally got a job at the American Land Conservancy. I'm so excited about this opportunity! In the last three weeks I have made three ice cream cakes! The first one was a vanilla cake with homemade salted Carmel ice cream cake, and a chocolate whip cream topping and toasted coconut on top! It was delis! The second one I made was a cookies and cream vanilla cake and the third was a vanilla cake with fresh strawberry ice cream. Which turned out good but was too hard so you had to wait to eat it! I forgot to take pictures of the last two cakes! Making the ice cream was surprisingly easy to make.
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Welcome Oliver!

My very very good friend, Courtney just (February 24th) had a baby boy. I was so excited to hear that it was a boy! A few weeks ago I went to visit her and meet Oliver. He was so sweet and fun to be with. I decided to make him a little present before going to visit the new family in San Diego. Hopefully, this will keep his head warm in the fall months as the hat probably won't fit him until then. I am so happy I get to see this baby grow. Oliver is going to be a very smart child, since his mama is a teacher and he will have his personal teacher for the rest of his life!!! The only sad part is they live in San Diego and I live in Northern California. Welcome to this crazy and wonderful world, Oliver! Love, your auntie juju!



On Tuesday I went to my first Jewish Seder! When I was first asked to come I was so nervous to attend, but when I arrived and I saw how friendly everyone was I was at ease. It was a wonderful experience and hope to attend one next year. One of the families I babysit for invited me and I felt like I was part of the family! It was so wonderful because there were so many kids and they were all filled with laughter and silliness! I really enjoyed being part of the Seder because everything we did had a meaning. All the food we ate had a meaning. For example the Matzoh were placed at the table as a reminder of the haste with which the Israelites fled Egypt, leaving no time for dough to rise. Also at the table was Maror the bitter herbs, used to symbolize the bitterness of slavery. Attending this Seder really makes me want to learn more about the Jewish religion and meaning behind all the rituals. I decided to make a dessert to bring for after the dinner. I made a Passover Cheesecake. The recipe called for matzoh cake meal and almonds, so there was no flour in it. I thought it turned out really yummy, and it was almost all gone by the end of the night! I also had someone come up to me and compliment me it was really yummy!

Here is the recipe:
Recipe from Gourmet found on

Almonds and matzo cake meal make a wonderfully textured crust for this refreshing, citrusy cheesecake.
For crust

* 3/4 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
* 2/3 cup sugar
* 2/3 cup matzo cake meal
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1(8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup of lemon juice

a 9-inch springform pan

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 350F with rack in middle.

Pulse almonds, sugar, matzo cake meal, and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in butter until combined well. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of springform pan. Bake until crust is firm and a shade darker, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool crust completely in pan on a rack.

Make filling and bake cheesecake:
Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

Beat together cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add eggs 1 at a time, mixing until incorporated. Mix in zest and vanilla.

Put springform pan in a shallow baking pan and pour filling into cooled crust. Bake until filling is set 1 1/2 inches from edge but center is wobbly, 45 to 50 minutes (filling will continue to set as it cools). Transfer cake in pan to a rack and immediately run a knife around edge, then remove side of pan. Cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.

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Yellow Lemons!


When life gives you lemons, make lemon bars! I love lemon desserts, but its something I never really bake. These lemon bars were so easy to make and tasted so yummy! I baked these lemon bars for a night with my friend while we watched the final rose of the Bachelor. Yes, cheesy, but fun to have dinner wine and some dessert with a friend! The recipe is taken from Alice Medrich's Cookie and Brownies Book. This book has been used so many times the pages are coming out. This book is great to have in your collection.

Here is the recipe:
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup sugar
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling:
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
½ cup strained freshlemon juice
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Position rack in the lower third of the oven.

To make the crust: Cut butter in chunks and melt in medium saucepan over medium heat. After melted, remove from heat and add sugar, vanilla and salt. Add the flour and mix just until incorporated. Press the dough over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is well browned at the edges.

To make the topping: Stir together the sugar and flour in a medium bowl until well mixed. Whisk in the eggs, stir in the lemon zest and juice. When the crust is ready, turn the oven down to 300 and slide the rack out without removing the pan. Pour the filling over the hot crust.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the topping is puffed at the edges and the pan does not jiggle anymore. Set on a rack to cool completely in the pan.

Cut into 2 inch pieces or the size of your liking! Sprinke powdered sugar on top of bars. The bars can be stored for 3 days then after that for 3 days in the refrige.


Instead of using a square pan I used a 8 inch cake pan and made triangle pieces to enjoy!
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Burgers without the meat!


I am trying to eat less meat. Why? Just because I want to find my protein sources other ways than meat. Here is a really good recipe for a meatless burger. I had this for lunch and then the next day for dinner. It's a great way to use left over rice and lentils when making soups. I found this recipe from the magazine, "Clean Eating" January/February Issue.

Meatless Burgers:
1 cup lentils, dried green, rinsed
6 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cups onion, yellow, diced
2 stalks celery, minced
2 tablespoons flaxseed, ground
5 teaspoons mustard, Dijon
3 tablespoons tomato paste, unsalted
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons cumin, ground
1 cup rice, long-grain brown, cooked
2 tablespoons oil, olive

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cook lentils according to package direction.
2. In a large bowl, mix garlic, onion, celery,flaxseed, Dijon, tomato paste and spices. When lentils are cooked, mash them with the back of a fork, leaving some whole. Add mashed lentils and rice to bowl. Mix all ingredients together.
3. Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. While oil is heating, form lentil-rice mixture into 6 lentil patties. Add them to pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until light brown. Transfer patties to prepared baking sheet and cook in oven for 15 minutes to warm through. Serve with a side salad and topped with diced tomatoes and avocado, if desired.

***The only thing I left out was 1/4 cup of leeks, because I didn't have in my refrigerator!
I ate with a green salad! Totally filling and yummy!
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Mom's birthday

This year for my mom's birthday I wanted to do something creative. She is someone who has pretty much everything and the items she does want I can't afford! She is really starting to like succulent plants so I decided to make her a terrarium. It was so much fun to make and it was pretty cheap!

Cracking the code!


I get this craving for the carrot cake from Draeger's Market, once every few months. This carrot cake is so good. I don't know what they do to this cake, but it's to die for! So, last night I decided to try and crack the code of their famous Carrot Cake. There is something about it, it's very simple but SO good! I used the recipe from the "Gourmet" Cookbook edited by Ruth Reichl.

The Cake: (this is for half a reipe)
About 1 cup of shredded carrots
1 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 large eggs
(4-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For Frosting:
4-ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick (4tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Make the Cake: Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour cake pans, knocking out excess flour.
1. Shred enough carrots on smallest teardrop holes of box grater or with fine shredding disk in a food processor to measure 2 cups.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in sugar, oil, eggs, carrots, pineapple, coconut, walnuts and raisins (if using).
3. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan and invert onto rack to cool completely.

Make the Frosting: Beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add confectioners’ sugar, and beat until frosting is smooth.
Place 1 cake layer bottom side up on a cake plate and spread with some of frosting. Place remaining cake layer right side up on top and spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.

Juju notes:

I decided to just make half the recipe since there is only two of us in the house.
I ran out of oil so I was only able to use just 1/2 cup instead of 3/4 cup it asked for when cutting the recipe in half.
I used canned pineapples slices and then blended it so the consistency was very liquidity

Here is a cool trick I just discovered! Add a piece of parchment paper to the bottom before adding the cake mix to the pan. This way when the cake is cooled you can just pull it out without messing up the cake!
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Happy Valentine's Day!


These yummy chocolate marshmallow cups were made for the little girl I babysit. She wanted to give out some candies to her class mates. I thought these would be a HUGE hit, they were! Although they were sticky and messy to make, they were very easy to make! Melt some chococolate add some homemade marshmallow to the middle and you are done!
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Dessert for a dinner party

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Brownies are the one dessert that you can eat plain or dress up and make fancy! John and I went over to my friend's house for dinner last week and I decided to bring brownies. I was looking through Elinor Klivans' book "The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook" and found this great recipe for butterscotch and fudge brownie bars. These brownie bars looked incredible so I decided to give them a shot! But, when I went to the grocery store to pick up butterscotch all I found was artificially flavored butterscotch. That didn't make me too excited to make the bars, so I decided to use white chocolate instead. These bars turned out soo yummy!

Here's the recipe:
Adapted from Elinor Klivan's
The Essential Chocloate Chip Cookbook
from Chronicle Books
Serves 8 to 10

2 1/2 cups (15 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup (6 ounces) white chocolate
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup pocked light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract
3/4 cup (13 ounces) coarsely chopped hazelnuts

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and line the pan with a piece of parchment paper that is long enough to extend over two opposite sides of the pan. Butter the paper.

Put 1 cup of the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and place it over a saucepan of barely simmering water; the water should not touch the bowl. Stir until the chocolate chips are melted and smooth. Set aside.

Put the white chocolate chips in another heatproof bowl and place it over the saucepan of barely simmering water; the water should not touch the bowl. Stir until the butterscotch chips are melted and smooth. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute. The mixture may look slightly curdled. On low speed, add the flour mixture, mixing just until it is incorporated.

Spoon 2 cups of the batter into a medium bowl. Use a large spoon to stir in the melted butterscotch chips until smoothly blended. Stir in the hazelnuts. Scrape the white chocolate batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cups chocolate chips over the white chocolate batter. Stir the melted chocolate chips into the remaining batter in the bowl until smoothly blended. Drop spoonfuls of the chocolate batter over the chocolate chips and then use a metal spatula to spread the chocolate batter evenly over the chocolate chips. Some chocolate chips may get mixed into the chocolate batter-this is fine.

Bake just until the top feels firm when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 40 minutes. If the toothpick penetrates a chocolate chip, test another spot. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.

Loosen the sides of the brownie from the unlined sides of the pan and use the ends of the paper to lift the brownies from the pan.

CUT into pieces and ENJOY!!!

The brownies can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Baby Shower



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Two days after Christmas, I hosted a baby shower for my very very good friend, Courtney. I made four quiches, some sweets, and some pasta. Everything turned out so yummy, all the guests were happy and of course Courtney was HAPPY!!! Stayed tuned, about 6 more weeks and we will see if it's a boy or a girl!! I am so excited to meet the baby!

Christmas Eve Dinner

The holidays are over...For Christmas Eve John and I had his mom and sister's family and my dad over. We had a great time! I made pork, spinach, green beans and apple pie! YUM! My crust turned out really good, very flaky! The one thing I have not mastered is making it look pretty! I think over time I will get better at the pretty part! But it sure tasted really good!
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