Queen Victoria Sponge Sandwich blog image

Taste Testing Mary Berry’s Victoria Sandwich​

Has anyone tried making any of the recipes I’ve shared, yet? Share it in the comment section below so I can see what everyone else is up to on the other side of this screen 😉

Today’s taste test involves another great recipe found by watching The Great British Baking Show (thanks Netflix! I was late to the GBBO craze) and it’s Mary Berry’s Victoria Sandwich recipe.

Luckily, converting this one was MUCH easier than the Povitica recipe I shared a few weeks ago due to the fact she has the ounces next to the grams and my measuring cup has the ounces listed, haha. The odds are more in your favor here.

But first, let’s recap in case you don’t know my rules…

I’m not a food blogger. I share recipes I’ve tried and if I’d make them again. The word foodie and hefty paragraphs filled with adjectives about the recipe annoy me. Oh, and photographs that have dusted flour and cutting boards.

You can expect the recipe I used, helpful tricks or what not to do and a couple (probably one) real shots of what it looked like when my bake came out of the oven.

The Recipe:

For the sponge

4 large free-range eggs

225g (8oz) caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

225g (8oz) self-raising flour

1 level tsp baking powder

225g (8oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

For the jam

200g (7oz) raspberries

250g (9oz) jam sugar

For the buttercream

100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened

200g/7oz icing sugar sifted

2 tbsp milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and line two 8in sandwich tins: use a piece of baking or silicone paper to rub a little baking spread or butter around the inside of the tins until the sides and base are lightly coated. Line the bottom of the tins with a circle of baking paper.
  2. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl, add the sugar, flour, baking powder and soft butter. Mix everything together until well combined. Be careful not to over-mix – as soon as everything is blended you should stop. The finished mixture should be of a soft ‘dropping’ consistency.
  3. Divide the mixture evenly between the tins. Use a spatula to remove all of the mixture from the bowl and gently smooth the surface of the cakes.
  4. Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the door while they’re cooking, but after 20 minutes do look through the door to check them.
  5. While the cakes are cooking, make the jam. Put the raspberries in a small deep-sided saucepan and crush them with a masher. Add the sugar and bring to the boil over a low heat until the sugar has melted. Increase the heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully pour into a shallow container. Leave to cool and set.
  6. The cakes are done when they’re golden-brown and coming away from the edge of the tins. Press them gently to check – they should be springy to the touch. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool in the tins for 5 minutes. Then run a palette or rounded butter knife around the inside edge of the tin and carefully turn the cakes out onto a cooling rack.
  7. To take your cakes out of the tins without leaving a wire rack mark on the top, put the clean tea towel over the tin, put your hand onto the tea towel and turn the tin upside-down. The cake should come out onto your hand and the tea towel – then you can turn it from your hand onto the wire rack. Set aside to cool completely.
  8. For the buttercream, beat the butter in a large bowl until soft. Add half of the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add the remaining icing sugar and one tablespoon of the milk and beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. Add the remaining tablespoon of milk if the buttercream is too thick. Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle.
  9. To assemble, choose the sponge with the best top, then put the other cake top-down on to a serving plate. Spread with the jam then pipe the buttercream on top of the jam. Place the other sponge on top (top uppermost) and sprinkle with caster sugar to serve.

My Findings:

  • I had never made jam before and was super worried about it ‘setting’ so I picked up some pectin just in case and added a sprinkling of it to my mixture. I also added the sugar scoop by scoop because I wanted to control the sweetness. I ended up using a little over a half cup of sugar.
  • My piping bag was a Ziploc baggy with the corner cut off. Now, this works in a pinch but it did not give me the freedom to make those beautiful pillow clouds of buttercream you see pictured on Mary Berry’s bake.
  • Nothing with homemade buttercream is going to be awful.

Would I Make It Again?

YES. It was super simple and flipping DELICIOUS. The proper storage will keep the sponge fresh for days! I use an oversized container with a locking lid as a makeshift cake holder/saver.

eating cake quote

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Originally recipe found, here.

The App That Helped Me Get Back In The Fitness Game

Can I just say, there are SO many health and fitness coaches on Instagram it’s kinda insane. I follow a couple chicks I respect but…other than that, lawd. have. mercy.

A few years ago my health and fitness routine spiraled into an unhealthy obsession. Living in Orange County, California, does come with an unsaid pressure to be fit, healthy, and young, but my addictive personality definitely added fuel to the awaiting fire.

Two strict diets, working out twice a day, not focusing on nutrition and feeling like I was running for dessert eventually tipped me over. After nearly two years on the hamster wheel, I finally fell off. And when I look back it’s easy to see it was only a matter of time.

I dropped to working out once a day, and then every other day, and then twice a week, and then oops skipped a week. All the while my caloric intake stayed the same and never adjusted to my new limited cardio. Twelve pounds (I stopped weighing myself after I gained twelve) and eight months later, I finally got myself back on the wagon and started practicing a balance between food and exercise.

Changing my mindset was priority number one, fixing my relationship with food was number two and finding a fitness routine I enjoyed was number three. And two apps helped me get number three situated.

7M for Women and ClassPass.

7M for Women is a FREE app with a variety of timed workouts. At the end of each session the same voice narrating your workout also tells you, “congratulations, work out complete,” and I was here for it. I needed that kind of affirmation in my life because it didn’t matter how long the workout was, I still got a congratulation.

ps: 7M stands for 7 minutes, as in a 7-minute workout, you still get a congratulations because showing up counts for something. 

ClassPass isn’t free, but the cheapest plan I was on helped me figure out what kind of classes I would want to invest my money in monthly, which led me to aerial fitness classes.

Never would I ever imagine I’d be putting my thing down, flipping it, and reversing it up on the silks and hoop, but here I am six months later and loving it. I live for my Wednesday night classes because once a week I prove to myself I can do the previously imagined, impossible.

But here’s the thing, I made a promise with myself I wasn’t going to over do it, meaning I wasn’t going to get competitive and only believe the workout counted if I was the best in the class and could outperform. Instead, my mindset was singularly focused on me, reminding myself I was doing it for me and for fun.

Day one is better than one day.

exercise quotes

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Tuscan Kale Soup blog image

Tuscan Kale Soup

Usually, I’m not down for attending cooking classes at kitchen supply stores or ‘we do team building events!’ type places. The work is done for you and at some places, you can’t take the leftovers home, so if you took a 3PM class and weren’t quite hungry, you can’t take your’s home for later. Speaking from experience, bitterly.

Then I went to The Wine Artist with my MIL and they let you drink wine while making your dinner and I’m 100% certain that made the whole cooking in a group thing, more enjoyable. The menu that night was also bomb, the theme was Under The Tuscan Sun.

So, today’s Taste Test recipe you most definitely want to try this weekend is the Tuscan kale soup.

But first, let’s recap in case you don’t know my rules…

I’m not a food blogger. I share recipes I’ve tried and if I’d make them again. The word foodie and hefty paragraphs filled with adjectives about the recipe annoy me. Oh, and photographs that have dusted flour and cutting boards.

You can expect the recipe I used, helpful tricks or what not to do and a couple (probably one) real shots of what it looked like when my bake came out of the oven.

The Recipe:

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1-pound spicy Italian ground sausage

1 onion diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

4 garlic cloves minced

1 (14.5 oz) can white cannellini beans

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 bunch of kale, roughly chopped with stems removed

Toppings: parmesan cheese

  1. Heat oil in a large pot. Add sausage and cook until no longer pink. Add in onions and carrots and saute for a few minutes until onions are soft. Add garlic and continue to cook for a few minutes.
  2. Add in beans, chicken broth, water, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes and stir together. Cover and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in kale and continue to simmer for 10 minutes or until kale and vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed.

My Findings:

  • The easiest and most impressive soup you’ll ever make.
  • I ate this for lunch every day for a week, there is such thing as too much kale for the system…but I’d probably make a big batch and do it all over again #noragrets bwahaha.
  • During the class, we also pan-fried baguette slices for dunking purposes…best idea ever

Would I Make It Again?

I think you know my answer. If it rains, I’m making this soup. If I want soup, I’m making this one, and if I need to bring something somewhere and wait until last minute, I’m bringing this damn soup. SO SO good.

under the tuscan sun quote about cooking

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Originally recipe from The Wine Artist in Lake Forest, CA.
ramblinrandol blog image

Overindulging​ In Details

Do you struggle with a compulsive need to justify your actions and/or analysis paralysis? I know I do and it feels like I’m on trial every day. And no lie, I’m exhausted. It is tiring to consistently live in a state of self-defense.

Today’s three big questions: Where did it come from? Why do I do this, now? How can I stop over explaining myself?

Context is king in my book because logic wasn’t welcome in most debates or conversations. Consequences were dolled out depending on erratic mood swings with bouts of violence. It didn’t matter if you could enunciate your feelings on the matter, and fact never beat fiction. The rules for living and disciplining never made any sense.

When your home environment thrives off criticism and every move you make is put under a microscope to analyze on a cellular level why you fucked up and how you should’ve known better, you begin to get defensive. You’re trying your damnedest to be good enough and it’s never enough.

I believe this creates a habit of needing to defend your actions which leads to striving for perfection in hopes you’ll be perfect and free from criticism, which then shapeshifts into analysis paralysis because you can’t move forward unless you’re absolutely sure nobody can come at you from any angle…

Now, as an adult, I feel obligated to give detailed answers to any personal questions thrown or tossed my way where it feels like my actions and/or behaviors are being questioned because I don’t want anyone speaking for me or twisting my words or assuming why I am the way I am.

I don’t want anyone else in control of my narrative.

Here’s the thing though, I can explain myself until I’m blue in my face to preserve how I want to be seen (to prove I’m good enough and smart enough) but it doesn’t matter because people truly are going to believe whatever they want to believe. If anything, over explaining, makes me feel less sure about my decisions.

What I didn’t know then is, it doesn’t matter how close to perfect you come when the person critiquing is looking for negatives, because when you’re only looking for the negatives you’ll find them every time.

And somewhere along the line my want to stay authentic, intertwined with compulsive justification. Being authentic does not require explaining all of your actions, neither does being honest and transparent.

Have you ever Googled, what’s the difference between honesty and transparency just for fun? I did and got this, “ honesty is when you reveal the truth you feel NEEDS to be known. Transparency is when others can see for themselves the truths they feel they need to know.”

Basically, if you live honest to yourself it will show. Not, must say all the things in order to be honest.

So how do I (or you) stop defending and over justifying your answers?

You’re going to hate the answer (because I did, too), but it takes practice and paying attention to when you overindulge with details. And also take the time to remind yourself you don’t NEED to explain yourself to anyone and everyone. 

Be comfortable with silence. Practice confidence, and remind yourself of how many obstacles you’ve already surpassed. You are capable.

Chinese proverb

 

Croatia Dessert

Povitica – A Croatian Sweet(ish) Bread

Have you ever made Povitica? If you’ve watched a few episodes of The Great British Baking Show you may have seen it during one of the technical challenges. It’s a “sweet’ (not if your American) dessert bread filled with a boozy, walnut, and cocoa filling.

During a Christmas gingerbread making house party, my MIL’s friend was talking about a recipe her Mom used to make when she was a kid but couldn’t remember the name, so I asked her to tell me how it tasted and the main ingredients she remembered.

It sounded a lot like the Croatian bread, Povitica. Her mother had been long gone and missed the Christmas memory, so I decided to see if this recipe was THE one with a small hope it would give her a little taste of home.

Fair warning, this isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a pain in the ass to make, strictly based off what goes in to stretching the bread, but if you like a challenge…do it.

But first, let’s recap in case you don’t know my rules…

I’m not a food blogger. I share recipes I’ve tried and if I’d make them again. The word foodie and hefty paragraphs filled with adjectives about the recipe annoy me. Oh, and photographs that have dusted flour and cutting boards.

You can expect the recipe I used, helpful tricks or what not to do and a couple (probably one) real shots of what it looked like when my bake came out of the oven.

The Recipe:

For the dough:

300g (10½ oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

40g (1½ oz) caster sugar

7g salt

10g (⅓ oz) fast-action yeast

30g (1oz) unsalted butter, melted

1 large free-range egg, beaten

½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out

150ml (5½ fl oz) whole milk, warmed

For the filling:

60g (2¼ oz) unsalted butter

4 tbsp whole milk

280g (10 oz) walnut pieces

½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out

100g (3½ oz) caster sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 free-range egg yolk, beaten

To assemble:

15g (½ oz) butter, melted

1 free-range egg white, beaten

100g (3½ oz) icing sugar

Directions

  1. For the dough, tip the flour and sugar into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt into one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the melted butter, egg, vanilla seeds and warm milk and begin mixing on a slow speed. When the dough starts to come together, mix for a further 5-8 minutes on a medium speed until the dough is soft, smooth and stretchy.
  2. Tip the dough into a lightly oiled mixing bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – about one hour. Butter a 1kg (2lb) loaf tin.
  3. For the filling, place the butter and milk in a small pan and heat gently until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat.
  4. Place the walnuts, vanilla seeds, sugar and cocoa powder into the bowl of a food processor and blend to a sandy powder. Add the egg yolk, milk and butter mixture and pulse to combine. Set aside.
  5. To assemble, spread a clean bed sheet over a kitchen table and dust with flour. Turn the risen dough out onto the sheet and roll out the dough into a large 50x30cm (20x12in) rectangle. Brush the surface with 15g (½oz) melted butter.
  6. Dust your hands with flour and ease them underneath the dough. Using the backs of your hands, stretch the dough out from the centre until very thin and translucent (you should be able to see the sheet through the dough). The rectangle should measure approximately 1metrex60cm (40x24in).
  7. Taking care not to tear the dough, spread the filling over the dough until evenly covered. If the filling has been standing for a long time and is too thick, add a little warm milk to loosen it.
  8. Starting at the long edge of the dough, lift the sheet and gently roll the dough up tightly, like a Swiss roll.
  9. Carefully lift the dough and place one end in the bottom corner of the greased loaf tin. Ease the roll into the base of the tin to form a long ‘U’ shape, then double back laying the roll over the first ‘U’ shape to form a second ‘U’ shape on top.
  10. Place the loaf tin inside a clean plastic bag and leave to rise for one hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C(fan)/ 350F/Gas 4.
  12. Brush the dough with beaten egg white and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 150C/130C(fan)/300F/Gas 3 and bake for a further 45 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cover with foil if the top begins to darken too much.
  13. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  14. Mix the icing sugar with a few drops of cold water to make a runny icing and drizzle it over the povitica. Slice and enjoy.

My Findings:

  1. May the odds be ever in your favor when converting from metric to standard. I would give you my exact measurements but the piece of paper I flipping wrote it on disappeared (I’m looking at you, Hubs!).
  2. ps: Just get a scale to weigh it out on, I had to remake the dough THREE times. Save yourself the hassle (and two or maybe three – dear Zeus – hours) and spend the $10.
  3. I used the rolling pin as long as I possibly could before I started to stretch with my palms and fingers, not back of the hands as suggested because I’m pretty sure I would still be there trying to stretch it.
  4. I think adding some cinnamon in the filling and cutting the cocoa in half might be good. Oh! And some chopped walnuts sprinkled throughout, too.
  5. Needs to be eaten with coffee or tea. It was lighter tasting than I expected which I assume is due to all the layers, but I wouldn’t consider it sweet like a Cinnabon roll. So if you’re worried it is a true (American) dessert bread, it’s not.

Would I Make It Again?

Fuck no. I’d rather make a cinnamon roll, but I would absolutely make it again if my MIL’s friend specifically asked for it next Christmas.

I made four other people taste a slice before giving it away and got no complaints, but all agreed it wasn’t as sweet as they were expecting considering it was iced.

 

Povitica Quote on Taste Testing Friday post on RamblinRandol

Come be my friend on Instagram. I’m hilarious.
Originally recipe found, here.
Julia Child broiled chicken recipe blog image

Julia Child’s Poulets Grilles A La Diable

It’s Friday again, so that means we have a new recipe to try for the weekend! Two weeks ago I shared a tuna recipe from Child, this week I’m sharing a broiled chicken recipe I made for me and the in-laws.

But first, let’s recap in case you don’t know my rules…

I’m not a food blogger. I share recipes I’ve tried and if I’d make them again. I hate the word foodie and hefty paragraphs filled with adjectives about the recipe, and photographs that have dusted flour and cutting boards.

You can expect the recipe I used, helpful tricks or what not to do and a couple (probably one) real shots of what it looked like when my bake came out of the oven.

The Recipe:

2 ready-to-cook, 2 1/2 lb. broilers (chicken), halved or quartered.
A saucepan containing 6Tb melted butter and 2 Tb oil.
A pastry brush
Broiling pan minus the rack
salt
6Tb prepared mustard if the strong Dijon type
3 Tb finely minced shallots or green onions
1/2 tsp thyme, basil or tarragon
1/8tsp pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper

4 cups fresh, white crumbs from the home-made type of bread (make the crumbs in an electric blender, 3 or 4 slices of bread at a time)

Broiling pan with a rack, the rest of the basting fat

  1. Preheat oven broiler to moderately hot.
  2. Dry the chicken thoroughly, paint it with butter and oil, and arrange it skin-side down in the bottom of the broiling pan. Place it so that the surface of the chicken is 5 to 6 inches from the hot broiling element and broil 10 minutes on each side, basting every 5 minutes. The chicken should be very lightly browned. Salt it lightly.
  3. Blend the mustard with the shallots or onions, herbs, and seasonings in a bowl. Drop by drop, beat in half the basting fat to make a mayonnaise-like cream. Reserve the rest of the basting fat for later. Paint the chicken pieces with the mustard mixture.
  4. Pour the crumbs into a big plate, then roll the chicken in the crumbs, patting them on so they will adhere.
  5. Arrange the chicken pieces skin-side down on the rack in the broiling pan and dribble half the remaining basting fat over them. Brown slowly for 10 minutes under mod. hot broiler. Turn, baste with the last of the fat, and brown 10 minutes more on the other side. The chicken is done when the thickest part of the drumstick is tender, and, when the meat is pricked with a fork, the juices run clear yellow.

Transfer to a hot platter and serve.

My Findings:

  • Reserve ALL the basting fat. I had to be skimpy because I got frustrated trying to bast up the juices, so get it all out.
  • I got my chicken from WholeFoods already cut into halves which makes it SO much easier.
  • This was a ‘simpler’ recipe than the tuna, so if that’s something important to you start here.

Ps: I made this with roasted potatoes and asparagus rolled in oil, parmesan and garlic salt. Don’t think you can leave the asparagus in the oven to save counter space (and keep warmer for longer) while preparing the chicken. Apparently, the oven still heats whatever is in it when the broiler is on and WILL burn your wonderfully prepared asparagus.

Julia suggests another chilled rose, but I went for the vodka sodas with lime instead.

Would I Make It Again?

Julia child recipe for broiled chicken with mustard

… no, I wouldn’t. It was good don’t get me wrong! But it didn’t get me as excited as the fish recipe. I would make it again if requested, and possibly quarter the chicken to get it EXTRA crispy because I love crisp (but not like the asparagus crisp…).

Julia Child quote for recipe

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5 Minutes of Kindness Goes A Long Way

All week on Instagram my topic has been centered around the importance of finding confidence and feeling powerful as women. Today’s post was going to be based around the same topic, but then I went to a conference in San Diego and something wonderful happened…

ps: I love San Diego. Every year, right around this time, I attend a marketing conference where I get to be a nobody in a sea of people, learning new tricks of my trade and it’s my absolute favorite. When I turn the corner from Kettner to get onto Harbor and see the two ginormous Hyatt skyscrapers, I feel home. I don’t take this for granted.

On the trek to my hotel I bustled past a number of homeless. The sun had gone down so the temp was dipping into the low 50s and I couldn’t help but feel extremely privileged (then a little guilty) as I scurried past them with a full stomach, a bag full of clothes, and on my way to a hotel where a big warm bed (that I didn’t have to share with my husband) was waiting for me.

The next morning I still felt this pull inside my heart to do something for those I’d be walking past that morning who were packing up their sleeping bag. All of a sudden I remembered I had a leftover snack pack from the train ride in the night before and decided this small thing might be capable of making someone else’s day that much sweeter, so I grabbed it as I walked out my room and spent the elevator ride pumping myself up to not chicken out.

For those of you who don’t know, I do an annual fundraiser every year in November for homeless youth. I spend one night out on the street in front of Covenant House California so that another kid doesn’t have to. This is my passion, but I’m human and learned Stranger Danger so it’s still a little nerve wracking because you’re not a fortune teller and won’t be able to know how your good intentions will be received.

As the elevator doors opened my game plan was solid. I would walk my route and the first person who looked at me, said good morning, or smiled at me (basically letting them make the first move, sorta), I would ask, “do you need some food? I have some extra.”

Having a plan and what I’m going to say makes me feel solid. So off I went and it didn’t take more than 50 feet for me to give away my snack pack.

He was an older gentleman digging through a trash can, possibly for recyclables, possibly for food, and he was next to the crosswalk I needed to get across Harbor, and I think when I didn’t walk around him to avoid him, he looked up at me and said, “good morning.”

I told him good morning, and asked him if he needed food. All he could muster was shaking his head. He didn’t reach out his hand until he saw I was indeed handing him the box. After he grabbed it I told him I hope he had a good day and I was off. The whole scenario was less than 5-minutes.

By no means did I do anything to make his day better. A snack pack from the train isn’t going to end world hunger, but I’m hoping I made his morning a little brighter and it took absolutely nothing from me to do it (besides the balls).

I put the whole exchange on my stories and fought back tears while telling it. There is something about the look he gave me when I asked him if he needed food that tipped my emotions overboard. So I decided the next two morning I’d be doing the same thing.

After the keynote speaker on Monday night I went to the gym to run and work off some of the pent up energy I had after sitting all day. When I was finished and looking for some water, I noticed a bowl of apples…

Yes, I pulled a Ross and took a handful of apples knowing I’d be giving them away the next morning. Earlier that afternoon I had also stocked piled a cup of nuts from the conference with the same intention.

Tuesday morning I walked out from my hotel with a ziplock baggy filled with two apples and a coffee cup filled of dry nuts. I gave it to a man who was brushing his hair and when I asked him if he needed some extra food, he paused.

“Of course, yes! Yes, yes! Sorry, I don’t know where my head was there, I was off thinking about something else and wasn’t expecting…yes, yes, I would love some food, thanks.”

Day Three: I raided the gym bowl of apples again from my run the night before, had another cup of nuts, and two Kashi bars I had grabbed from home as my “just in case” snacks during the conference.

An older man who had said good morning to me got one of the apples and then asked me where I was from, I told him originally from Buffalo, and he said, “okay thanks, have a good day.”

I was saving the majority of my hoard for a family who popped up the night before, a man, woman, and two small children. They didn’t acknowledge me, I said good morning and the gentleman jumped a little like he was caught off guard.

“Do you need some food?”

Nobody deserves to be hungry. We all fall on hard times, some of them are harder than others. There is plenty of food in this world to go around and I think we ought to start sharing it.

A 5-minute gesture of kindness could change the world if done once, twice, or three times a week. You never know.

Stay kind my friends. Happy Thursday!

RAK it quote

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Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread

It’s Friday, and that means I’m sharing another recipe I’ve tried and whether or not it’s worth the effort. This week I’m tasting testing the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon raisin bread recipe. Have you ever heard of said Pioneer Woman?

I had not until announcing I had a zillion raisins left over from the homemade mincemeat I made over the holidays and wasn’t sure what to do with them. A coworker shouted out to make this recipe because “it’s. the. bomb.”

But let’s recap in case you’re new.

I’m not a food blogger. I share recipes I’ve tried and if I’d make them again. I hate the word foodie and hefty paragraphs filled with adjectives about the recipe, and photographs that have dusted flour and cutting boards.

You can expect the recipe I used, helpful tricks or what not to do and a couple (probably one) real shots of what it looked like when my bake came out of the oven.

The Recipe:

FOR THE DOUGH:
  • 1 cup Milk, Almond Milk, Or Soy Milk, At 110ºF
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar (See Note)
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons Instant Rise Yeast
  • 6 Tablespoons Neutral Oil (See Note) Or Melted Unsalted Butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour (17 1/2 Ounces By Weight), Plus More For Dusting
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Raisins
FOR THE CINNAMON FILLING:
  • 1/3 cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons Melted Butter (or Oil)

Combine milk, brown sugar, and yeast in a bowl or measuring cup. Let sit for 10 minutes, until foamy. This indicates that the yeast is alive and well.

Pour the yeast liquid into the bowl of a stand mixer, and add oil and eggs. Whisk to combine the wet ingredients, then add flour and salt. Use the dough hook or a spatula to roughly combine the wet and dry ingredients into a shaggy dough. Add the raisins, then fit the bowl and dough hook to the stand mixer. Knead on medium-low speed for 10 minutes.

Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Flour your countertop as lightly as possible, then spread and stretch the dough into a rectangle that is the length of your loaf pan, about 9 inches by 18 inches. I prefer to use a 9×5 loaf pan.

Make the cinnamon filling by stirring together brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Spread this mixture all over the top of the dough rectangle, then roll the dough up as tightly as you can, rolling the long way. Place the roll seam-side down into a greased loaf pan, then cover with plastic wrap to let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375ºF, then bake bread for 40–50 minutes until the inside reads 190ºF to 200ºF with a thermometer. Let the bread cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes:
1. The 2 tablespoons brown sugar won’t make the bread very sweet. If you want a sweeter loaf, double the brown sugar.
2. I use grapeseed oil, but you could also use canola oil, vegetable oil, a light olive oil, etc.
3. The dough will be sticky but resist the urge to add more flour, as it will make the bread denser.

Storage: Since there are no preservatives, the bread will only keep for a few days at room temperature. I recommend freezing any unused bread.

My Findings:

  1. I tested with regular milk and almond milk, I enjoyed the almond milk recipe better.
  2. Regular milk heats up faster than almond milk. It took 30-45 seconds to heat regular milk in the microwave. It took almost 1.5 minutes to heat the almond milk to temp. I did both in 30-second intervals.
  3. I found the dough to be stickier with almond milk but held its shape better.

Would I Make It Again?

Yes. I hate raisins and LOVED this bread. I think I may need to bake it for holiday gifts this Christmas!

Everything you have ever wanted, is sitting on the other side of fear. (5).png

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blank stare & nod blog post image on ramblinrandol.com

Blank Stare & Nod

My brain has been fried hard and served up on a stale piece of toast. The last five months have a re-reoccurring theme; lack of control and this constant wake up call has flared up my anxiety about an upcoming girl’s trip to Seattle. Is the universe teaching me to let go of control so that when my plane goes down at the end of March, I’ll be at peace? Anxiety is a bitch.

If I had to sum up the last four-ish/five months it would be placed in a folder labeled, Are You Fucking Kidding Me! The short of it is multiple car accidents, one less car, Hubs out of work for 7-weeks due to injury from said accident which equals limited dough, to family turmoil, some more family turmoil, and if I continue it would no longer be “the short of it.”

Point being, I’m going through some shit and it’s been hard to stay positive, which is super relatable because we’ve all been there, feeling like someone took out our brains and scrambled them up while we watched with no idea how to take the spatula away.

And because I have anxiety and panic attacks, what do I do? Think, think, and think some more, because that’s what I can control and what feels ‘routine’ for my brain to do. And of course, it’s not the healthy thinking it’s the let’s think about the worst possible scenario and keep thinking about the worst that can happen until I can feel it tightening my chest and wah-lah, panic!

The upside? I’m still here, practicing gratitude and trying my best. This is what matters. I am trying my best.

How do I combat my anxiety and panic? What has worked for me is taking deep breaths and focusing on each inhale and exhale, when I was younger I used to count them but now the simple in and out of breath calms me.

Why don’t I get a prescription? Addiction runs in my family, both with alcohol and pills, so I don’t want to tempt the beast.

What has also helped me in more recent times is focusing on my own health both physically and mentally, and that I don’t need to learn how to conquer my anxiety, just know how to live with it and how to give myself grace when I can’t keep a handle on it because sometimes…

The only thing I can muster is a blank stare and a nod, and that’s okay.

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Julia Child Tuna Recipe blog image

Julia Child’s Thon A La Provencale

Another Friday, another opportunity to cook something new this weekend. I got Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking for Christmas and this weekend’s recipe to try is Thon A La Provencale which is tuna or swordfish with wine, tomatoes, and herbs.

But let’s recap in case you’re new.

I’m not a food blogger. I share recipes I’ve tried and if I’d make them again. I hate the word foodie and hefty paragraphs filled with adjectives about the recipe, and photographs that have dusted flour and cutting boards.

You can expect the recipe I used, helpful tricks or what not to do and a couple (probably one) real shots of what it looked like when my bake came out of the oven.

The Recipe:

3Lbs. fresh tuna or swordfish cut into 3/4 inch steaks
9×14 pyrex baking dish about 2.5 inches deep
1 tsp salt
2 Tb lemon juice
6Tb olive oil, more if needed
A skillet
1 cup minced yellow onions
3Lbs. fresh, ripe and red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, juiced and chopped.
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2tsp oregano
1/4tsp thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup dry white wine or 2/3 cup dry white vermouth
1 to 2 Tb tomato paste for added flavor and color
1Tb meat glaze (optional)
1Tb softened butter
2 to 3 Tb chopped parsley

  1. Remove skin of the dish and cut steak into serving pieces. Blend salt and lemon juice in baking dish, then beat in the oil and pepper. Arrange the fish in the dish and baste with marinade. Cover with wax paper and marinate for 1.5 – 2 hours, turning and basting the fish with marinade several times. Drain the fish and dry it thoroughly on paper towels. Discard marinade.
  2. Saute the fish rapidly in very hot olive oil for a minute or two on each side to brown lightly. Rearrange the fish in the baking dish.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Cook the onions slowly in the skillet for 5 minutes or until tender but not browned. Stir in the tomato pulp, garlic, seasonings, and spread the tomato mixture over the fish.
  5. Place a cover or aluminum foil over the baking dish and bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Then set in lower third of preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Pour in the wine and bake for 30 minutes more, turning oven down to 325 as soon as fish is simmering.
  6. Remove fish to serving platter, scraping the sauce off the fish and back into the baking dish. Keep fish warm for about 5 minutes while finishing the sauce.
  7. Boil down the sauce over high heat until it has reduced to about 2 cups. Stir in tomato paste and optional meat glaze. Simmer for a moment, and correct seasoning.
  8. Off heat, beat in the flour and butter paste, bring again to the summer for 1 minute. Stir in the chopped parsley, spoon the sauce over the fish, and serve.

My Findings:

  1. I should’ve used my cast iron skillet instead of a pyrex pan because you can’t cook glass on the stovetop. I Googled it.
  2. You must be VERY careful to not overcook the fish, tuna is SO easy to overcook.
  3. Pop your serving plater in the oven with the fish to keep warm and warm up while making the sauce.
  4. Julia suggests a chilled Rose wine or a dry white, or Riesling. We tried it with rose and I just can’t do pink wine. I’d suggest a dry white instead.

Ps: I used tuna from WholeFoods and did not opt to add in meat glaze (mostly because I hadn’t any prepared and I underestimated how much time it was going to take to cook the tuna and it was 8PM by the time we ate, both the Hubs and I were HANGRY).

If you don’t know wtf seeding, peeling, juicing and chopping a tomato means check out this really simple tutorial, here. Discard the seed/pulp mixture and chop up the remaining tomato to complete step 4.

Pss: The tomato mixture is the tomatoes and the next 5 ingredients.

Would I Make It Again?

Hell yes. It was the best damn sauce I ever made and who doesn’t love good Tuna?!

Julia child’s tuna steak recipe

Julia Child taste test blog image

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