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blender chocolate mousse

October 10, 2014


Let me preface this by saying: this mousse does not make sense.

Making mousse usually requires a good bit of work (melting, beating, whipping, folding).  Here, you just add a few ingredients to the blender and boom. Mousse.

The key with this recipe is time — not slaving-away-time, but let-it-sit-in-the-fridge-time.  Unfortunately, you can’t start making this mousse right before everyone arrives for dinner and expect to serve it an hour later.  But if you plan a bit ahead, you’ll have an easy, rich dessert with which everyone will be impressed!

Blender Chocolate Mousse
1 1/3 c. good-quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (such as Ghirardelli)
1 c. water
2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. espresso powder
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 egg whites

for the whipped cream
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Bring water to a boil then remove from heat.  Add the espresso powder and sugar.  Stir and let sit for 4-5 minutes.

Place the chocolate chips and vanilla extract in the blender, then pour the hot water in.  Cover the blender and let the mixture sit for one minute (the chocolate will start to soften).  Blend for 25-30 seconds.  Add the egg whites and blend for another 60 seconds.

Pour the mousse into four serving containers (small bowls, ramekins, short mason jars).  Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate until set.  This will take about 4 hours, but can be done up to 24 hours in advance.

When ready to serve, beat whipping cream with sugar and vanilla.  Serve mouse with a spoonful of whipped cream.

dense chocolate cake

September 26, 2014


I’d had a really, really great flourless chocolate cake at a restaurant earlier this year and was obsessed with recreating it at home. I tried three different recipes (utter and total failures) before landing on one from Food52.  The trick was that it wasn’t actually flourless.  One little tablespoon of flour gave it just the right texture — not too chewy and no need for a complicated water bath.

It is quick, super simple, and I always have all of the ingredients in my pantry so it pretty much became my dinner party staple for 2014.  There is a high likelihood that if you ate my house this spring or summer, this was the dessert we had.

Easy + delicious = repeat appearances in my kitchen.

Dense Chocolate Cake
(from Food52)

7 oz. 72% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
7 oz. butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 1/3 c sugar
5 eggs
1 tbsp. flour
8 oz. whipping cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. sugar
fruit for garnish (pomegranate seeds, raspberries, blueberries)

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Cut a sheet of parchment to fit in the bottom of a 9″ cake pan.  Grease the pan with butter or cooking spray.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler.  Use a whisk to combine until they are fully melted.  Whisk in the sugar and then remove the pan from the heat. Let cool for 3-4 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time, being sure to fully whisk each one in before adding the next.  Then whisk in the flour.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 25 minutes.  When you remove the pan from the oven, set it on a cookie cooling rack for 10-15 minutes.  To remove the cake from the pan, invert it onto a plate and then revert it onto your serving dish.  Cool completely before serving.

Serve in wedges with whipped cream and fruit.

tuesday things: newsletter edition

September 23, 2014


I’m kinda embarrassed to admit it, but I usually reach over and grab my phone in the morning before even saying “good morning” to Whitney.  I’m not the only one, right?

I do a pretty good job of keeping spam to a minimum (I’m liberal with the unsubscribe link), but no matter how low I get my inbox before I go to bed, it always feels like it is overflowing in the morning.

But there are seven emails that I really do look forward to… and I think you should know about them all too!  Here’s a quick peek at what I’m reading in the mornings:

News Digests

theSkimm is a daily (Monday-Friday) e-mail newsletter that offers a breakdown on 5-6 trending news items, with background to get you up to speed and clever commentary.  

Even if I’m in a rush and don’t read any of the other news digests in the morning, I still don’t skip theSkimm.

Quartz Daily Brief
Quartz Daily Brief bills itself as the best morning briefing for smart, busy people. Their global team of reporters catches you up on news from around the web and prepares you for the day ahead. Three editions are curated by region: Americas, Europe and Africa, and Asia.

It is mostly politics- and market-focused.  I especially like the “Matters of Debate” and “Surprising Discoveries” sections.

A digest of the top ten most fascinating items of the day, delivered by Dave Pell with witty commentary. I read somewhere that its a mashup of The New York Times, The Daily Show, and Twitter — and I totally agree.  Well worth reading.

Now I Know It
This doesn’t really fall into the news category — it is basically a couple of paragraphs about a topic that you probably never knew you even wanted to know about.  You’ll learn things like: Abraham Lincoln created the secret service – on the day he was shot, how Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck is made, that carrots used to be purple, and how turkey got its name.


She Reads Truth
She Reads Truth is an online movement of women committed to daily reading and being changed by God’s Word. Every 1-3 weeks, SRT starts a new reading plan with a different focus — sometimes it is a book of the Bible, sometimes it is thematic (such as ‘justice’).  The daily emails (Monday-Friday) include a few scripture references and a devotional.

If:Equip is a Bible reading plan.  The daily emails (Monday-Friday) contain a passage of scripture and focus questions.  The questions are always the same: if you believe this to be true… then what does this mean about god? what does this mean about you? what does this mean about the world?

I like how the questions take the focus off of always trying to decipher a personal meaning in all of scripture.  True, the Bible is meant to illuminate our individual lives, but it is an ancient text written in many different contexts, to many different people and communities.  Asking what the scripture means about the world and about God helps me to step back and refocus on the greater community.

Red Letter Wake Up
Red Letter Wake Up will help you start your day with the words of Jesus! Each morning you’ll receive a short email with a quote from the body of Christ, the “red letter” words of Jesus, and one tangible thing you can do to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world today.

green bean salad

September 19, 2014


This is a bittersweet time of year for me. Not to sound too dramatic or anything…

I hate being hot and so I really hate the summer (especially in Houston) but I love the produce we get in the summer more than any of the other seasons.  So I’m trying to hang on to the last few weeks of summer’s bounty right now by making as many tomato, pepper, and berry recipes as possible.

This green bean salad is IDEAL.  It is perfect for a light lunch or a great side dish with grilled chicken.



Green Bean Salad

1 lb. green beans, preferably haricot verts
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
4-5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 red onion, diced
Balsamic vinaigrette
Salt and pepper

Snap off the ends of the green beans.  Blanch them by cooking them in a pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then removing them and setting them in an ice bath for 4-5 minutes.   Drain toss with the diced onion, halved cherry tomatoes, and crumbled bacon.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss with balsamic vinaigrette.

spinach and egg roll-ups

September 12, 2014


Whitney wasn’t feeling well earlier this week and he wanted comfort food for lunch one day.

Generally that would be a reasonable request… except that Whitney considers Whataburger comfort food!  I was pretty sure he would have another kind of sickness in addition to his respiratory infection if he had a #4 plain and dry, Whata-sized.

So instead, he got the next best thing — spinach and egg roll-ups.  These are loaded with iron and vitamins from the spinach and protein from the eggs.  A couple of these and he was feeling like a new person!

Spinach and Egg Roll-ups

1/4 c. yellow onion, diced
2 c. fresh baby spinach
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
3 eggs
1 tbsp. skim milk
1/2 c. Monterey Jack, shredded
4 flour tortillas
Salsa for serving, if desired

Sauté the onions with a sliver of butter in a skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until they are slightly browned. Add 1/4 tsp. salt, another sliver of butter, and the spinach to the pan and cook until it is wilted. Remove the spinach and onions from the pan and place on a cutting board. Roughly chop the spinach-onion mixture and then sprinkle with the cumin. Set aside.

Whisk the eggs and milk and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Wipe out the skillet you used for the spinach, and soft scramble the eggs over low heat. Remove to a plate. Wipe out the pan again.

Heat the pan over medium heat. Down the middle of each flour tortilla, add eggs, spinach, and cheese. Roll up the tortillas tightly and place each in the pan, seam side down. Let cook for 2 minutes, until browned and sealed. Flip and cook on the other side for another minute or two. Serve alone or with salsa.

spiced pumpkin cupcakes

September 5, 2014


This time of year marks the annual craziness that is also known as Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks.  I’m personally a pretty strong adherent to my double grande nonfat latte, but I have to admit that the PSL has an undeniable appeal.

And what could be even better than PSL?  PSC!  As in, Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes.  Enjoy!

Spiced Pumpkin Cupcakes
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1 c. light-brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 c. (2 sticks) butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter and set aside to cool.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the brown sugar, granulated sugar and melted butter.  Whisk until just combined.  Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice and whisk until smooth.  Then mix in the pumpkin puree.

Fill each well in the cupcake pan about 3/4 full and bake until the tops spring back when touched, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting with the cinnamon cream cheese frosting.  Garnish with a cinnamon sprinkle, if desired.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter
8 oz. cream cheese
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt

Place the butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the cinnamon, vanilla and salt.  Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until just combined.

heavy cream biscuits

March 26, 2014

cream biscuits


I’ve expounded before on what a great cook my mom is.  There’s pretty much nothing in the kitchen that she can’t do.  But there is one area* of cooking of which my dad is the master — Saturday morning breakfast.

His breakfasts are the stuff dreams are made of: cheesy stone-ground grits, bacon fat-fried eggs, cardamom pancakes, soft-scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and fluffy biscuits.

I never quite caught on to making Dad’s version of biscuits because they required that you cut the butter into the flour mixture, not a task for a lazy cook such as myself. But recently I was craving homemade biscuits and came across a recipe for heavy cream biscuits that couldn’t have been simpler.  It takes less than half an hour from time you start mixing the ingredients until you take your first bite.

*You might have originally assumed I meant grilling, as that is the domain of most men.  And while he does generally man the grill, my mom keeps a watchful eye over that activity ever since the Three-Alarm Flaming Lamb Incident of 2007.

Heavy Cream Biscuits
(adapted from The Kitchn)
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoon sugar
2 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 425°F

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Pour in the cream and stir with a spatula until combined.  Add up to 2 tablespoons more heavy cream if needed to bind the mixture.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape it into a ball.  Roll it out to 3/4″ thickness and use a biscuit cutter to cut the dough into rounds.

Dip each biscuit into the melted butter, then lay on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve immediately, preferably with mayhaw jelly.

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