Magnolia Bakery 15 – Lemon Vanilla Bundt Cake

Sometimes you’re just in the mood to bake a cake.

That was me one day last week. I had been feeling a little out of sorts and figured baking a yummy treat would help cheer me up. I also wanted to bake something other than cookies. Eventually, I settled on yet another recipe out of the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook and I wasn’t disappointed.

Continue reading “Magnolia Bakery 15 – Lemon Vanilla Bundt Cake”

Kitchen Experiments: Making Vanilla Extract

A couple of weekends ago, my partner and I finally put an idea of ours into action. We would try our hand at making our own vanilla extract. This is something both of us wanted to do for a while, but life always caused delays to it actually happening.

We were first inspired to do this separately, getting the idea from different chefs. He is a fan of Claire Saffitz’s YouTube channel and I became obsessed with a TV chef on Discovery+ who also uses her own vanilla extract. Additionally, I first stumbled on this idea from one of Ina Garten cookbooks where she details the steps to making one’s own bottle of vanilla.

Continue reading “Kitchen Experiments: Making Vanilla Extract”

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…

Ryan Cooks PW Recipe 1

  • Name of Recipe: Teriyaki Salmon and Kale Sheet Pan Supper
  • Cookbook: Come and Get It
  • TV Episode: N/A
  • Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The first recipe on this journey was an easy one. I also loved that it was a sheet pan recipe, so clean up was extremely minimal.

This recipe was so easy and almost hands-off, so there were no pitfalls except for the fact that I think I need to add more kale to the sheet pan. That stuff really cooks down, like spinach, and I forgot about that.

There were basically three main steps to this dish: kale on the pan and season, add salmon and cover with teriyaki, bake! Super, super simple. It’s a wonderful week-night meal since it can be ready in under 25 minutes. It is also an easily scalable recipe. As a first recipe, this one was the perfect choice. It was not very involved and it tasted amazing so it gave me the renewed confidence that I needed for this project.

Here are some pictures below, since I’m trying to take more of them during the cooking process.

The seasoned kale on the sheet pan
The sheet pan with the teriyaki-covered salmon, ready for the oven!

See? An easy recipe with only a few ingredients and only one dirty dish. This is a true winner!

The finished meal with a side of white rice.

We served this meal with a side of white rice, but it would be even better with brown rice or quinoa!

I can see why people flock to Ree’s website and TV show. Her recipes are simple and are designed for modern parents — quick recipes, easy clean up makes for a real winner in my book. I have a feeling I’ll be coasting through these Sheet Pan suppers in no time! Who wouldn’t want a beautiful and tasty meal with little cleanup?

PW Countdown 2

Today, we are featuring Ree’s holiday-themed cookbook.

Her third cookbook and her largest (to date) features recipes for almost every holiday you would need. Sure, there’s the standard Thanksgiving and Christmas. But, there also New Year’s Eve, Father’s Day, Easter, and Cinco de Mayo!

Packed with ready to go menus, this cookbook will help make your holiday meal stress-free. That way you can spend more time with your loved ones.

This cookbook contains some wonderful recipe including a few different versions of Ree’s Thanksgiving Dressing (what we in the north call “stuffing”), Dr. Pepper Cupcakes, and Three-Meat Lasagna which is perfect for Father’s Day. Also, make sure to make Platter of Darkness for Halloween. It’ll be a real treat!

PW Countdown 1

Today is the first day of our countdown to the first PW recipe. Each day I will be featuring one of Ree’s currently published cookbooks.

Today’s is her first cookbook, published over 10 years ago. I figured that first one was a great place to start, but the books won’t be featured in publication order.

Coming off her blog-roots, this cookbook is much more blog-like than her other cookbooks and other cookbooks in general. With less than 65 recipes, this a quick cookbook but really gives you a peek inside her life on the ranch. Family and farm stories are featured throughout its pages, but that doesn’t over shadow the food.

It was a great first cookbook for Ree and features some of her staple recipes like Chicken Fried Steak, Egg-in-the-Hole, and Cinnamon Rolls. I can’t wait to make the cinnamon rolls, they’re one of my favorite treats!

Come back tomorrow where we will feature another cookbook as we continue the countdown to the revamped blog.

Magnolia Bakery Handbook #7 – Brown Sugar Cookies

Last week, I came home from work and was in the mood to bake. But, by the time I got home, ate dinner, and did some chores, I was not in the mood to go to the store. So, I had to pick a recipe that called for ingredients that I already had on-hand.

Enter Brown Sugar Cookies from the Magnolia Bakery Handbook. I recalled that this recipe was in the book and they looked interesting, so I seized this opportunity to make them. The only downside was the recipe required that the dough chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. Ms. Lloyd says that her cookie recipes should actually chill overnight before baking, but 30 minutes will do. In fact, I let this chill for a little over an hour before I started the baking process.

Continue reading “Magnolia Bakery Handbook #7 – Brown Sugar Cookies”

Braided Everything Loaf

After the tiny finger cut debacle of July 18, I quickly realized that the location of the cut would make it difficult to work in the kitchen. Even with the use of the bandaid doing things was an awkward experience.

So, I had to wait until the cut was mostly healed before I was able to dive into cooking and baking again, especially for blogging purposes.

But that doesn’t mean I stayed out of the kitchen! Over last weekend my friend and I made a braided loaf of bread. But we spiced it up a bit — literally! We added Everything Bagel Seasoning to the top of the bread and that added so much flavor.

I didn’t really take pictures of the process, but I do have a photo of what it looked like after it came out of the oven.

Doesn’t it just look divine!

Barefoot Contessa Recipe 50

This recipe can be found in At Home, page 37

Well I finally made one — a sandwich!

I had been anxiously waiting to start the sandwich category for a little while, but it just never came to be. Until this past weekend. It had been a while since I made my last BC recipe — especially a savory one. But this weekend was a little busy for me and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time standing over the stove, in line at the grocery store, or baking something in the oven.

The solution? A sandwich. After glancing through the list of 28 sandwiches, a few jumped out at me. Such as the Croque Monsieur, Lobster BLTs, and Soft-Shell Crab Sandwiches. While these all sounded very tasty, and my mouth did start to water when reading about them in the cookbooks, I quickly realized that all these choices would involve at least one of the things I didn’t want to be doing that day.

So, I skipped them and settled on something that seemed easy enough. And I had just about everything on hand already. It was a win-win!

This chicken salad was pretty easy. But, I did make some modifications to it. First, I didn’t roast the chicken in the oven. I cooked the two breasts on the stove (I didn’t want to turn my oven on that day…too warm!). I also only made enough for two sandwiches, not the four that the recipe yields, so I made the adjustments to ingredients accordingly.

It doesn’t look like a lot of chicken, and to be honest, it wasn’t. But, it was the perfect amount to make my two sandwiches.

I added the tarragon, salt, pepper, celery, and mayonnaise just like Ina said. I also decided to include some red grapes that we had left in the fridge. There was only a large handful left and only a few that were still “edible.” So, I just used them up.

However, after combining everything, things looked a little loose. So, I popped it in the fridge for about a half hour before making the sandwich, just to firm things up and allow the flavors to marry. When I was ready to make the sandwich, I toasted some bread, slathered a thin layer of mayo on one slice, and piled about half of the chicken salad on top.

When I bit into it, I was pleasantly surprised. The addition of tarragon adds a hint of licorice-like flavor that I wasn’t really expecting. But, I did like it. Tarragon and poultry go well together, it seems. Many chefs (including Ina) use it when making roast chickens or turkeys. It’s definitely an herb I’ll have to keep in mind.

This chicken salad is a great quick meal that can be made in no time any night of the week. It also seems like it can be scaled up easily to serve a large group of people. While it didn’t blow me away, it did hit the spot, and it taught me to add tarragon to my chicken salad to liven things up a bit!

Cupcakes, Party Style!

With my birthday being last week, I decided to make the cupcakes for the work-related celebration everyone gets. I could have went “over the top,” but frankly, I wanted to keep it simple. So, I found a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addition and got to work.

I made her Confetti Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting. The addition of the sprinkles to the decorations really made me feel like I was serving up a party! The pop of color was a fun addition!

Continue reading “Cupcakes, Party Style!”