Posts in Good Eats
France-iversary, Part 1

A couple of weeks ago, Tim surprised me with a trip down to Monterey to celebrate the one-year anniversary of our France trip...or, as I like to call it, our France-iversary!

Going to Monterey has become a family tradition for us. It was the first trip we ever took together, when Tim surprised me nearly three years ago (whoa!) with a trip down there. We now try to go every year, always staying in the same hotel (hello complimentary room service breakfast!) and making sure to visit Monterey Bay's amazing aquarium.

This trip was a smashing success!

A few of the highlights:

We rented a bicylcle built for two (so so fun!) and rode out to a beautiful picnic point.

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We had a delicious lunch that was reminiscent of all of our France picnics. I really do miss that style of eating.

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That night, we had an amazing dinner at the adorable Bistro Moulin. The restaurant owners were just lovely and the food blew us away. Our meal was as good as the best meals we ate while on our trip.

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The next day, we slept in and then headed off to visit the aquarium. And I found so much inspiration of things to paint! The flamingos! The sea horses! The penguins! Oh my!

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We then went back to the lovely Bistro Moulin for lunch and to wait out the field trip children at the aquarium. Seriously, the food was that good that we had to go back. There was still stuff left on the menu to try! Like the gnocchi gratin. You would die.

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All in all, we had such a fantastic time. It's had to believe that it's already been a year since we had our dream trip overseas...I feel like it's time to start talking to the Universe about our next adventure...

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Franny's Cup & Saucer

A few weeks ago, Tim and I headed up the coast to Sea Ranch for a couple of days to spend some time out of town with the family.

While there, we had the good fortune of a family friend introducing us to the CUTEST BAKERY IN THE WORLD! Seriously, y'all, I've seen plenty of cute in my day, and this place was swoon-worthy!

Franny's Cup & Saucer is located in Point Arena, CA and is well worth a visit if you're in the area. In fact, I would say that this adorable place could be the actual reason for a visit to this area if you're anywhere near it. It's that cute.

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{Ahem} Please pardon the vacation hair and bummy clothes. This was an unexpected photo shoot!

The storefront is pretty small, but is full of the cutest little gifty items. And they even had a giraffe! Come on! Of course, I was completely smitten!

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And, oh my...the baked goods really floored me! They had peanut butter and jelly macaroons that blew me away. They were just as good as the ones we had in France, if not a little bit better!

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This place was such a treat and such a sweet surprise to find. I'll definitely be coming back on subsequent visits!

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friday's confession: I'm a picky eater

I am a picky eater. Well, at least I was before I came out West.

I grew up in the South and didn't move out to California until I was almost 22. That's 21 years of eating good, down-home cooking. 21 years of not trying new things, of being in a rut, of having these stubborn thoughts of, "Oh I don't like that" without even really trying.

In California, everything is fresh! And green! And not fried! And not doused in ranch dressing!

An adjustment, my friends, it was a definite adjustment for me.

And what I've found in the last 9 years out here is that I actually do like a lot of things. Things I never thought I liked before.

Things like:

  • beets (tasted like dirt)
  • bbq eel (too scratchy)
  • wasabi peas (too spicy...what?)
  • fried eggs (too yolky)
  • sour cream (too creamy)
  • mustard (bleh)
  • cherries (only maraschino for me, thankyouverymuch)
  • olives (too briny)
  • martinis (too vodka-y)
  • onions (too strong)
  • mushrooms (too slimy)

The list could go on and on. I will say that I now LOVE most everything on the list above. I'm still working on the mustard, but I know that I would eat my own hand if it was covered in sour cream.

What I've learned from my changing taste buds is that sometimes I get so driven about how much I don't like something, that I can't see past that perception to the wonder that is a salad with roasted beets (omg, yum!).

The metaphors abound! I used to think that I wasn't an artist because I'm not a very accurate sketcher. That I couldn't sell my paintings to the public because I wasn't one of those artsy types. That I would have to spend my life in a 9-5 desk job that I was just-okay because it was what you did, because it was the only way to get by. Because I had no other choice.

I know now that I have a choice. That there is an alternative. That there is another way. And I'm finding it for myself. Now. With an open mind.

Now if only I could get over my fear of mayonnaise, we'd be all set!

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friday's confession

My life is like slow-cooked pulled pork.

Work with me here, people.

Here's the scene: Monday morning. My kitchen. Maggie's observing from her towel and I am ready to make pulled pork in my new-to-me crock pot (thanks Mom!). I had my recommended seasoning packet and was ready to go.

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Classy. This packet contains the secret spice combination you need foramazing pulled pork. I added a mixture of brown sugar, ketchup, and cider vinegar. That's it. I was finished. For reals?!

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Seems too easy, right? Then I put my meat (straight from the package) into the crock pot and poured the sauce over. The directions then call for you to cook the meat for 8 hours on low. Just walk away. 

That's when I started to doubt. I thought there was no way this:

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could actually become something delicious. I was convinced that I would come home to a yucky, uncooked mess and that we'd have to order pizza. Convinced.

And I was wrong. I came home (the house smelled amazing) and checked the pork immediately, finding this:

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And it became this:

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And it was superb. A fantastically delicious, easy dinner. Which I doubted the whole time. 

Here's my lesson: I have realized that my journey, my artistic path I'm on requires a certain amount of trust. I have to trust that this is possible, that I can make a living as an artist and creative soul. That I can do work that will inspire others to seek out their own authentic path. That I can find my sparkle and help other people in this world find their sparkle.

And I have to trust it, just like I trusted the pulled pork to work out in time for dinner. I have to know that if I put in the right ingredients, set it up well, and then slowly do the work, it will happen. And, if my pulled pork is any indication, things are going to work out deliciously!

Food metaphors are just the best, aren't they?

Is there anything in your life right now that you are needing to trust?

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wednesday's inspiration: julie & julia

We watched Julie & Juliaon new year's eve. What an amazing film. If you haven't seen it yet, you're in for a treat. Julia Child's story was such an inspiration to me! And Meryl Streep? Superb. And Stanley Tucci? Superb! And the two of them together. OMG, superb!

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The movie also made me want to run right out and pick up my own copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. At least until I remembered my new year's resolution. No new cookbooks until I use the ones I have? Crap.

Tim's father got me Nigella Lawson's How to Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food for Christmas, and in the spirit of Julie & Julia, I made the following deal with myself: I can buy the Julia Child book only after I made ALL the recipes in the Nigella book. Bring it.

So far I've made two recipes from the book: Linguine with Clams on NY Eve and Eggplant Involtini for a friend's birthday. Both were lovely.

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Cooking clams is incredibly easy, but the dish seemed super fancy at the same time. Didn't it turn out beautifully?

2 down, 348 to go!

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nutella! a whole jar!

Yes, you read that correctly. This is the post wherein I talk about baking a cake made with an entire jar of nutella. And yes, it was as good as you think it would be.

We had hazelnuts in our fridge that were leftover from a Thanksgiving stuffing recipe and a jar of nutella burning a hole in my cabinet (we buy it at Costco), so in the spirit of not buying new groceries until I use what we have, I decided to whip up Nigella Lawson's Torta Alla Gianduia (Chocolate Torte with Hazelnuts), from her book How to Be a Domestic Goddess.

Yu-um, what a treat!

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Photo from
recipezaar. I forgot to take a picture. Bad blogger!

If you're looking to make a cake that will impress folks, this is the one. It's lovely, even when it doesn't completely puff up and looks a bit sunken like mine did.

A few things to note if you're going to make it:

  • Be sure to use softened butter, not melted butter. I forgot to take mine out of the freezer in time and I think the meltedness of the butter definitely contributed to the un-puffiness of the cake.
  • This is a flourless cake (great for gluten allergies!) that uses a ground hazelnut meal in lieu of flour. I think that the hazelnuts should have been peeled before grinding, a step that I did not do but will next time. That might have also weighed it down.
  • I did, however, peel the hazelnuts used on top of the cake. After a short internet search, I found that Julia Child's (!) method of peeling hazelnuts to be the best:
    Add 3 tablespoons of baking soda to 2 cups boiling water. Add the nuts and boil for about 3 minutes. Slip a test nut into a bowl of ice water. If the skin doesn’t come off easily, boil the nuts a little longer. When a test skin rubs right off, add the rest of the nuts to the ice water and peel with incredible ease. Dry the nuts or let them dry on their own and toast them in the oven. (HA! "dry the nuts" teehee)

And, my final tip: I had a difficult time getting the frosting to thicken up. Next time, I might try whipping the cream slightly before folding in the melted chocolate. Or I might just try to beat it in my KitchenAid instead of by hand.

Tim had no complaints about the extra, somewhat-runny frosting.

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Viola, Nigella Lawson's Torta alla Gianduia:

for the cake:

  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 14 ounces nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico or rum or water (I used water)
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts, scant
  • 4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted

for the icing:

  • 4 ounces hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico or rum or water (I used water)
  • 4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Prepare a 9-inch springform pan: grease and line with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and nutella, then add Frangelico (or water), egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in the cooled, melted chocolate, then lighten the mixture with a dollop of egg white before gently folding in the rest of the egg whites a third at a time. Pour into the prepared pan and cook for 40 minutes or until the sides come away from the pan and then cool on the rack.

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan until the aroma wafts up and they begin to brown. Transfer to a plate and let cool (V. Important!).

In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add the cream, liquer or water, and chopped chocolate and heat gently. Once the chocolate is melted, take the pan off the heat and whisk until it reaches the right consistency for icing just the top of the cake.

Ice the top of the cake and then dot heavily with roasted hazelnuts.

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gee whiz, it's the cheez whiz!

This year we did an abbreviated Thanksgiving starring Maggie the puppy and our good friend Amanda. We decided that instead of roasting a whole turkey, we'd feature our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes as the meal. To which I said, "Bring on the broccoli casserole!"

Tim read an article recently that talked of how recipe websites can track what different regions of our country search on any given day. Apparently, the night before Thanksgiving, people all over the South were searching for the perfect broccoli casserole recipe. 

Well, friends, here's a little tip: I have the perfect broccoli casserole recipe. It's quick, it's easy, and it's shockingly delicious! Oh, and it's completely trashy (Cheez Whiz!), but who doesn't love a little trashy comfort every now and then (hello deep-fried twinkies!). 

Best Broccoli Casserole. Ever. 

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can (use empty soup can) of milk
1 cup Minute Rice
1 stick of butter, melted
1 package frozen broccoli, rinsed under hot water
1 jar of melted Cheez Whiz -- that's right, Cheez Whiz! (sorry folks, real cheese just doesn't melt the right way)


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Why yes, that is a glass of champgane behind my mixing bowl. Cause that's how we do Thanksgiving at my house!

Mix all ingredients together and bake for about 45 minutes at 350. Remove when top begins browning and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Then you will die with deliciousness.

Needing some extra protein in your casserole? Just add chicken tenders! Yes, yes, you can just add some grilled or baked chicken too, but we're going for ease and quickness. Just get a few of those chicken tenders from your grocery store's deli, chop them up and toss them into the mix. You'll thank me, trust.

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I just love this stuff. But beware, once you have it, you will think of it all the time.

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Oh, and PS. It's amazing reheated for breakfast. You're welcome.

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the world's best sandwich

The other night, Tim and I were at a loss over what to do about dinner. I was going to be working late and knew I wouldn't feel like fixing anything when I got home. I suggested pizza, but Tim decided that we'd be better off having the world's best sandwich (cue music here!).

Do you guys remember the movie Spanglish with Adam Sandler and the adorable Paz Vega?  In this (very sweet btw) movie, Adam Sandler's character cooks up a late-night best sandwich ever for Paz Vega's character.

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Since the movie has come out, this sandwich has become Tim's favorite for good reason. The recipe was actually cooked up (HA! pun totally intended!) by The French Laundry's Thomas Keller.

Needless to say, it's an amazing sandwich! Here's what you do (I'll list the actual recipe at the end):

1. Fry up some bacon. Can I get an amen?

2. Toast your bread. Once the bread is toasted, toss a slice of monterey jack cheese onto one slice and put it under the broiler until the cheese is melted.

3. Lubricate the second slice of bread. The recipe calls for mayo, but since I think mayo is of the devil, we went for a delicious French stone-ground mustard instead. You're welcome.

4. Pile butter bacon, tomato and butter lettuce onto bread.

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Note: these are our 2 bottom halves. The tops (with the cheese) are in the toaster oven at this point.

5. Fry an egg. In butter. The key is to keep the yolk runny so it serves as a type of sauce for the sammie.

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6. Put egg on top of lettuce and put cheesy bread on top. Cut sandwich in half so yolk runs all over.

7. Enjoy!

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All I can say is yuuuuum! We enjoyed our sandwiches with super crunchy Tim's chips, and it was awesome.  This might have to be our new go-to on nights we're feeling too lazy to cook!

Here's the recipe as we made it (adapted from Food & Wine):

2 thick slices of bacon
1 slice of Monterey Jack cheese
2 thick slices of rustic white bread
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard (alright, fine, use mayo if you must!)
2 tomato slices
1 leave of butter lettuce
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 large egg

  1. In a skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, turning, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. Toast your bread.
  3. Set the Monterey Jack slice on 1 piece of toast. Spread the mayonnaise mustard on the other slice of toast, then top with the bacon, tomato and lettuce.
  4. In a small, nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the egg and fry over moderate heat, turning once, until crisp around the edge, about 4 minutes; the yolk should still be runny.
  5. Slide the egg onto the lettuce; close the sandwich and eat right away.
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what's in a name?

Well folks, it's official: the name of this blog is now...wait for it...crafty fanny! I say "official" because my banner is now updated with the new name. For now, that's the only change. Can y'all live with that? You can? Yay, let's still be friends!

Speaking of names, how's this one for you: nutella croissant. That's right. Could you die over how delish that sounds (and looks)?

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This most brilliant idea ever and accompanying image are from T Spoon of Sunshine (via A Cup of Jo). I just almost swooned from staring at the photo while typing this.

PS. If you're still thinking about picking up a giraffe necklace from Crave Jewelry Design's etsy shop, she's offering a 20% discount this weekend! Deets are on her etsy page. Check it out. I'm still in love with Horace!

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