Magnolia Bakery 16: The Thanksgiving Cake

I did a lot of baking for Thanksgiving this year. My celebrated twice, one day with one side of the family, another day with the other side of the family. I decided to make two different cakes, one for each day. Both are out of the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. This post is about the cake I made for Thanksgiving proper. The cake I made for Thanksgiving Round 2 will come out later in the week.

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What I’m Making for Thanksgiving

This year, my family is doing two separate Thanksgiving dinners. Thursday is with my mom’s side of the family. Saturday, is with my father’s side. Normally, I don’t make anything for Thanksgiving dinner. But, this year, that changes.

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Friday Night Cooking Plans

To be honest, I can’t even remember the last time I cooked for my family on a Friday night and blogged about it. During the colder months, I was doing it pretty consistently. There was good reason: I was (slowly) making my way through Ina Garten’s recipes. As life started to return to “normal” when the warm weather came, I started doing more and was spending less time at home, thus I was cooking less.

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Kitchen Questions: How Do Vegetarians Get Their Protein? And Other Common Questions

If you’re one of those people that is skeptical of a vegetarian diet, then let me alleviate some of these concerns for you. I’m also going to talk about some of the benefits of a vegetarian diet. Some people are hesitant to switch to a meat-free diet and lifestyle simply because it is the “fear of the unknown.” That’s what this blog post is for. It’s an attempt to answer some questions and make people feel better about the possibility going meat-free or reducing the amount of meat in their diets.

Long-time readers of my blog may be wondering why I am posting something like this. Are you a vegetarian? I am not. However, I’m slowly making the switch to a more plant-based diet and working on cutting out certain meats and other animal products. For example, I have not consumed cow’s milk directly from the jug in years. Instead, I use almond or soy milk. In baking, that’s a different story — at least for now. The reason why I compiled this information is to have a resource for those who are curious about making the switch to a more “flexitarian” diet or a plant-based one.

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A Plan for the Future

This month has been a weird one for me, blogging-wise. Shortly after beginning my foray into cooking all Ree Drummond’s recipes, I started to lose interest for some reason. I can’t really put my finger on why it happened. But, I just accepted it and kind of went with the feeling, hoping for the interest to return one day.

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PW Recipe 5 – Macaroni and Cheese

Sometimes you just have a strong desire to just eat “bad” food. “Bad” as in not-that-great-for-you food. Well, that hankering happened for me over the weekend. I was in the mood for macaroni and cheese. It had been months since the last time I had a good, baked mac & cheese. Luckily for me this desire also came with the ability to make another Pioneer Woman recipe. This recipe also came from my favorite cookbook of hers: Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl, her first one.

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Magnolia Bakery Handbook Recipe #10 – Chocolate Banana Pudding

Over the Labor Day holiday, we had some people over the house. It was mainly just family, but, as you could have guessed, I had to make the dessert. I was really in the mood for banana pudding but I also wanted to make something beyond the traditional vanilla –especially since most of the people who came to the little get-together are chocolate-lovers.

It took me almost no time at all to realize that the Magnolia Bakery Handbook had a recipe for chocolate banana pudding and I was sold! Simple and delicious, but also something a little different than the regular banana pudding.

In the recipe, it asks you to use the chocolate Nilla wafers, but I wasn’t able to find them, so I used the regular vanilla and it worked just fine. Plus I find that store-bought, chocolate cookies are not really chocolate-tasting. So, for me, personally, the vanilla Nilla wafers probably were for the best. Since the chocolate Nilla wafers would have added a bit more chocolate flavor, I did use extra mini chocolate chips.

Also to bring out the flavor of the chocolate, I took a page out of Ina Garten’s cookbook and added about a half teaspoon of espresso powder to the whipped cream. This provided a subtle hint of coffee-flavor, but not too much to overwhelm the flavor of the chocolate. And better still, the caffeine didn’t keep anyone awake past their bedtime!

Since I’ve made banana puddings a couple of times before, Ina’s recipe and one from the Magnolia Bakery Handbook, I didn’t take too many pictures. But, I do highly recommend this dessert. It’s the perfect twist on the classic, but without changing too much or making you go crazy. As usual though, banana pudding won’t keep in the fridge for more than 2 days. After that the wafer cookies become too soggy — but, to be honest, I’ve never had my puddings last longer than a day after being served!

Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 4

  • Name of Recipe: Zucchini Bread
  • Cookbook: Come and Get It
  • TV Episode: N/A
  • Rating: 5.0 out of 5

Every year my family plants a garden in the spring and in the late summer and into the early fall we reap the harvest. Tomatoes of various sizes, eggplants, peppers, zucchini, string beans, cucumbers, the list could go on. While many of our plants are very prolific (this year, especially, the cherry tomatoes), our zucchini plants this year did not do as well as usual. While we still were able to eat some home-grown summer squash, the numbers were far fewer than in years past.

One day, our fridge was overloaded with some large zucchinis, so I figured it’d be a good idea to whip up some zucchini bread. You know, kind of like April 2020 when everyone had those bananas that were beginning to turn brown and the whole world started baking banana bread.

I was a little hesitant to try Ree’s zucchini recipe. After all, I love the one that we use in our family from my grandmother. So, PW had big shoes to fill! And guess what? It did!

This recipe came together quickly and the bread baked beautifully. I also like that it makes two loaves. It was smart on Ree’s part. The first loaf didn’t last very long so it was good that we had a second one to eat through. The bread was super moist and flavorful — the addition of cinnamon really makes the flavors pop.

This is definitely a recipe I will be making again!

I have some progress pics below…

Kitchen Updates

My family has decided to take a little trip out of town. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join them, due to work commitments. But, while I won’t be able to get away, I will be able to cook a lot while I’m home by myself.

Now that I’ll be responsible for my own meals over the next seven days or so, I am going to use my day off today to figure out what types of meals I wish to make. Of course, I will need to include some baking in there, too! In fact, I have been recipe testing a chocolate chip cookie recipe and I’m getting closer to the finished product! Hopefully by the end of the month if will be up on the blog.

I recently purchased some lighting instruments for my food photography. After I made the cookie recipe last night, I decided to play around with some things. This was one of the shots my friend and I took.
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Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 3

  • Name of Recipe: Buttered Parsley Noodles
  • Cookbook: Dinnertime
  • TV Episode: N/A
  • Rating: 3.0 out of 5

Late last week I shared with you my second recipe from Pioneer Woman: Beef Stroganoff.

Traditionally, stroganoff is served over a bed of egg noodles or other pasta which helps to make it a “complete meal.” (I say “complete meal” because I doubt the amount of vegetables in a single serving of stroganoff counts as a full serving, but I digress…) So I was a little surprised to find that PW’s recipe for stroganoff didn’t include any pasta. In fact, she recommends serving it with her Buttered Parsley Noodles.

At first, I was a little hesitant. Regular pasta is thicker than egg noodles and with beef as the main ingredient, I didn’t want the bite to be too hearty. But, I figured I’d give it a go anyway. Plus, when you are cooking-through someone’s recipe backlog, anytime you can sneak in an extra recipe or two is extremely beneficial.

This is a simple side dish that is very low fuss. It’s basically buttered noddles, but with a heightened flavor profile. This recipe calls for pappardelle noodles, which is a pasta shape I have not used before in my cooking. Much thicker than linguine, pappardelle is great when you want to substitute out something like egg noddles. Unlike egg noodles, though, pappardelle is a long pasta, similar to spaghetti or fettuccine so just be prepared for that.

Combining garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, and of course, butter and parsley, these noodles a quick side dish that comes together before you know it. I only gave it a 3 out of 5 because it didn’t really add to the beef stroganoff recipe I made. I think I would have preferred traditional egg noddles in that instances. But, on it’s own, this side dish is great!

See the picture above for how it turned out!