Archive for the ‘Colorado’ Category

posted by on baking, Colorado, family, high altitude

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High Altitude Double Chocolate Cookies

This recipe was one of my favorites I used a lot while I lived in Denver. My sister was nice enough to take a picture of her batch she made this weekend so I could share this cake-like cookie recipe with you! Double the recipe to make a full batch. This one will be a hit with you chocolate lovers. Enjoy!

Cream together:
1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In another bowl mix:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Dark Special Edition)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt

Add 2 teaspoons of water into your flour mix and mix well.
Mix the dry ingredients with the wet.
Stir in one cup of chocolate chips + bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes.

**This is for a half batch, otherwise double all ingredients**

posted by on baking, Colorado, Denver, high altitude, homemade, Phoenix, Q&A

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Questions & Curiosities logo

This is the first part of a small series I’m starting. I want this to open up conversation with people I’ve met along the way who inspire me, share similar interests (like Valerie below) or just have a great story to tell or recipe to share.  If you know of someone with a great story or want to have a chat with me, let me know! I’d love to do a post with you. Email me, Facebook, Twitter… ya’ll know how to reach me by now, don’t you? Let me know what you think! 

Valerie, I “met” you somehow through Twitter, right?I had just moved to Phoenix from Denver and you had just moved from Phoenix to Denver. We both love to cook and bake and we both love beer!
Although we have yet to meet IRL I can imagine how much fun you and I would have! You are always posting on Instagram photos of your awesome homemade meals fit for a queen now that you’ve moved to Denver. I appreciate you taking some time to chat with me! Tell us a little about yourself.

High Tea at The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa shortly after she moved from Phoenix to Denver.

Valerie enjoying High Tea at The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa shortly after she moved from Phoenix to Denver.

Yes, unfortunately I discovered you on Twitter the month I was moving from Phoenix to Denver, and learned that you had just moved to Phoenix from Denver… crazy! Not unfortunate that I discovered you, just unfortunate timing – because we would have been beer and baking soul mates!

I left the Wasatch mountains (Utah) for desert dwelling about five years ago in January, and after almost five years of cactus and monsoons, I returned back to higher altitude to explore rocky mountain living. As sweltering as the desert was, I really enjoyed my time there and met a lot of interesting people. I did feel that my adventures started becoming one-dimensional, though, and now I’m really thrilled to be living in 4-seasons once again. The thrill of the first week of a new season is one I’d never be able to live without again. The tiny, colorful buds in the spring, my first adult garden this past summer, raking golden leaves in the fall, and now tumbling (very ungracefully) down a giant snow-covered mountain in the winter. These are all the reasons my husband and I are enjoying our new Colorado life. We definitely feel lucky to be here.

For me, being in the kitchen while my mother was baking was something I loved as a kid. I guess it stuck!  When/how did your passion for cooking/baking start for you?
Looks like we have even more in common! I come from a homemade, from-scratch family, and watching my grandmother and mother cook were common occurrences from a young age. I think a lot of people may come from that kind of background in some way or another, but it only resonates with a small number of us – mostly because you have to keep trying despite the kitchen fires, over/undercooked food, and straight up colossal disasters that seem to happen weekly during that first year – and regularly every year after as well!

When I moved to Arizona, I discovered that cooking and baking seemed to equate with meeting new friends, so I jumped on that wagon and never looked back. Food brings people together in a really basic and important way – it’s a method of forging friendships over meals, learning about other people’s cultural backgrounds, and sharing the harvest that is unique to a particular region throughout the year. Sharing my cooking failures/triumphs with others has been, hands down, the easiest way for me to meet new friends, and to go out in the world with confidence – knowing that I have something to share with others. I think once you’re passionate about something, your hobby will take you places you never could have imagined!

Who are some of your culinary inspirations? 
Of course I have a million cookbooks and read a million food blogs, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmother and the way she carried herself in the kitchen. She did a lot of preserving – peaches & pears, strawberry jam, etc, and that is now becoming one of my favorite hobbies. Also, she made food that was memorable without being overly complicated. A rustic vegetable stew and homemade chocolate cake are two of her specialties that stand out to me.

I think we get caught up in the newest trends and forget that food is meant to be shared and enjoyed by everyone – you don’t need a degree in molecular gastronomy to create a dish with soul. My grandmother always cooked with soul, and that seems like an emotion I’ve been trying to capture recently in my own dishes.

I used to live in Denver and making the transition from baking in what my dad calls the “high plains” to high altitude was something I talk about on my blog. Many tears have been shed over a recipe I had worked long and hard on to try and get to work in a high altitude atmosphere. Tell me, what’s one cooking/baking experience you wish you could forget?
Oh dear… honestly I’m savory over sweet – so baking is something I do occasionally, and usually only for parties and holidays. I do enjoy breads, though, and I’ve had decent success at altering my recipes for the high altitude.

Every single cake and brownie I’ve attempted since I’ve been here has sunken in, though, and despite my efforts they don’t seem to be getting any prettier. I hosted my cousin’s birthday party this summer and found a gorgeous strawberry shortcake recipe with a delicious strawberry glaze and whipped cream. I did everything according to the recipe and the cake just collapsed.

I scrambled to put it together in a way that actually looked like a cake with candles for the birthday song, but it was mostly a sloppy mess. The one photo I caught that night shows a strawberry shortcake blurred by candle-lit flames, and it actually looked really pretty. So I’m happy with that photo – and it telling a very different story of the strawberry shortcake. I will try that recipe again this summer and I WILL get it right! 🙂 (Val, I address my issues with Angel Food cake and other high altitude problems/recipes in these blog posts )

What’s been the biggest challenge/transition in your kitchen moving from PHX to Denver? 
This question makes me laugh, because it’s been one challenge to the next! I thought the kitchen in our condo at Papago Park in Tempe was pretty damn small. Like really, really small. Then we showed up to Denver and walked into the house we knew would be ours. I turned the corner and saw the kitchen – even smaller than my shoebox from Tempe – and no dishwasher! I couldn’t say no to the house, though, because it was charming and had Griswold written all over it.

For the most part, I really do love cooking in a small kitchen. Everything you need is within arm’s reach, and there’s a real ownership over the methods and the organization that plays into everything you do in that space. I love my kitchen – I love that I’ve discovered myself as a home cook here. I love that I need a step-stool to reach just about everything above the sink, and that I sometimes spend 5 hours a week doing dishes. Actually, I really hate that last part. That’s my attempt at a joke.

Favorite dish right now? Favorite ingredient you can’t live without in your kitchen? 
This is an easy one based on the weather – soup! I made one batch of soup a year while I lived in Phoenix, during that one really rainy week in January or February every year. I got really excited this fall dreaming about all the soups I was going to make on cold winter’s nights in Denver.

Dan and I took a little weekend trip to Winter Park and I found the Ski Town Soups Cookbook. I’ve been making my way through that book and having a lot of fun with it. Soup is not only comforting to eat, it’s comforting to make. Standing over my dutch oven, taking in the aroma of spices, broth, garlic and onions is my happy place.

Do you have a personal recipe you liked to share?
I know I just admitted to being savory over sweet, but there’s only one dish that really completes me and tickles all my taste buds – spice cake. My mom made a flavorful and dense spice cake growing up, and I’m pretty sure I was the only child out of 5 that was even remotely interested in it. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger – these are the things that make my heart sing! The hills are alive – with the smell of spice cake! Yes, it turns me into a version of myself that’s rather embarrassing. Sorry.

I’ve made many different recipes, but since my mom never remembers to email me her recipe, I’ve come up with two favorites on my own. America’s Test Kitchen has a nice version that is clean and balanced, and Martha Stewart has a molasses spice cake that is over the top in every way possible, which means you should all put your weekend on hold and make it right away: Martha Stewart’s Molasses Spice Cake

posted by on baking, Colorado, Denver, high altitude, Holidays, Phoenix

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I hate making things from a box. Cake mixes, cookies, brownies – they will never compare to baking them from scratch. The one exception? Angel food cake. I refuse to attempt this from scratch when the boxed version reminds me of so many good things from my childhood.

When I lived in Denver angel food cake was the one baked good I really missed. I could never get the cake to cooperate with the high altitude even after making the suggested adjustments. (If any of you out there can help out with this or have some tricks of your own, let me know!) 

This was our first 4th of July in Phoenix so I ran to the store and picked up a box of angel food cake mix and was ready to go! Here’s my version:

What you’ll need:

  • 1 angel food cake mix
  • fresh or frozen strawberries
  • sugar
  • cornstarch
  • vanilla
  • whipped cream (made from scratch or not – it’s a holiday for crying out loud!) 
  1. Follow instructions on the box to make the angel food cake, letting cool upside down on a bottle as shown.
  2. In a small sauce pan add strawberries, sugar (I don’t really measure this, just sprinkle a good amount on) and heat until bubbly.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract and 1-2 spoonfuls of cornstarch and mix well. Simmer for a bit then remove from heat and let cool until thickened.
  4. Cut the cake very carefully in half, letting the sawing of the knife do the work for you. Spread the bottom half with whipped cream, top with strawberry sauce & put the top of the cake back on!
  5. Finish off with whipped cream on top and around edges and remainder of the strawberry sauce.

Don’t worry about it being messy – it’ll be gone quick!

 

posted by on banana, Colorado, Denver, healthy, ice cream

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Let me preface this post: Little Man Ice Cream in the Highlands neighborhood of Denver is what this girl’s dreams are made of! If you’re nearby (I’m talking 30 mile radius ‘nearby’) you must stop and try their ice cream or gelato. I would walk for hours, days, miles to have their strawberry ice cream!  Anyway…

Last night I had a staring contest with 3 really ripe bananas sitting on my counter. Wondering how to prevent them from going to waste (Déjà vu), I started looking for a new way to use them up. I came upon the solution, a recipe from theKitchn, a blog I’m very fond of.

A lover of all things ice cream, I was hesitant to believe I could get the same creamy texture and taste of soft serve ice cream using only frozen banana. Boy, did this recipe prove me wrong! Check it out for yourself. One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream *they’re right about being patient and scraping down the food processor – be patient! I used my Ninja®  food blender*

Cucumber Salsa

May
2012
04

posted by on Colorado, cooking, homemade, quick, vegetable

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If you’re in need of some dicing and chopping practice, this recipe is just what you need. An easy, non-traditional salsa that I learned from Rick while I was living in eastern Colorado.

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cucumbers – cut in half lengthwise, seeded, cut into strips & diced finely
  • 1 medium red onion – diced really small
  • 1 bunch cilantro – chopped finely
  • 1 jalapeño – halved, seeded & minced
  • 4 cloves garlic – minced
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 fresh limes – juiced
  • 2 tsp. salt
    Mix all ingredients together.  If you plan on making this in advance, cover well & drain juice before serving.
    photo credit: AJ Vicens 

No Easy Buckets

Apr
2012
17

posted by on baking, basketball, Colorado, homemade, taking the long way

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It’s easier than ever to make something quickly and inexpensively from a box or mix. I don’t care what anyone tells you, they are no competition for my family recipes I’ve collected over the years. I’d rather torture myself and make everything from scratch. I’m a control freak with a lot of things, so there’s something about being able to choose what goes into whatever I’m baking that I love.

“No easy buckets!” is a phrase the boyfriend and I often yell out when we’re watching our beloved Denver Nuggets play basketball. It’s fitting for my baking habits, too.

When I read this paragraph from Rina Rapuano’s article “No Ordinary Bake Sale: Simply Made From Scratch” it reminded me of myself.

“Unfortunately for me, like the famous Ms. Stewart, I rarely take the easy way out. I have been known to torture myself with mile-long to-do lists, and short cuts just aren’t my style. Because of this persistent (some might call it annoying) personality trait, I mainly gravitate toward recipes that rely on pantry and refrigerator staples. Buttermilk biscuits? Forget it. I’ll scour my cookbooks or do an online search until I find a recipe that uses regular milk — and I’ll stick with that recipe loyally.”

Check out the rest of the article here.

(article from NPR’s series Kitchen Window)

Crustless quiche

Mar
2012
26

posted by on baking, Colorado, cooking, homemade, leftovers, quick, vegetable

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Mini quiches served with home fries

When I was in Eastern Colorado, I lived with a co-worker and friend of mine for a short time. Her husband was an amazing chef but she was the one that taught me how to make her “garbage” quiche. Use whatever leftovers you have in your fridge. You can choose either fresh or frozen veggies, just make sure to sauté them to soften them up before mixing them in with the other ingredients. Also, if you decide to use any meats, make sure they are all pre-cooked.

Anything can be thrown into the mix and the amounts of the ingredients for the filling are really up to you. Often times, I use up whatever leftover pizza cheeses and toppings I have from the night before to make a quick quiche the next morning. The possibilities are endless!

I’ve also prepped all the ingredients the night before. Just pour the egg mixture into your pie pan or crust and bake in the morning! Over time I’ve skipped the crust (which you can make yourself or use pre-made roll out dough) and gone crustless which is equally delicious!

What you’ll need:

  • 5 eggs
  • onion
  • frozen, chopped spinach – thawed and drained (I use about half a bag)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • lemon pepper
  • garlic
  • basil

Chop up & sauté any hard vegetables first (peppers, onions, etc… you need to soften these up before mixing with the eggs). Set aside to cool.

Beat eggs with milk, oil & cheese. Add any seasonings.
Add in spinach and any other vegetables and/or meats you may have (aka the “garbage”).
Add cooled, sautéed veggies.

Pour mixture into 8″ or 9″ pie plate. This time around I divided the mix equally into 12 muffin pans to make mini quiches. 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and golden. (muffin pans took a little under 20 minutes to bake)

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