Mar 15, 2013

Pure Vanilla’s Creamy Vanilla Rice Pudding

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Well, hello! You’ll never guess what I’ve been up to over the past couple weeks. Okay, I’ll just tell you. That baby boy? The Inside Baby that was making me huger and more miserable by the minute? He finally decided to make his entrance into this crazy world two weeks ago and it turns out he’s been making up for giving me a massive ongoing case of heartburn for the past nine months and a myriad of other aches and pains by being an absolute Superstar Outside Baby. Nursing well, even sleeping well, he is the stuff of newborn dreams, I’m telling you. I will be sure to share more stories and photos as the weeks go on and we get into a groove around here.

But in the meantime, I wanted to take a quick minute to share some tips with you about a recipe from Pure Vanilla. Turns out, at the exact moment Sir Baby was making his entrance, the fabulous folks at USA Weekend published a lovely piece on the cookbook and the recipe for Creamy Vanilla Rice Pudding. And as a bit of press in a national publication is wont to do, it’s garnered some attention and filled my inbox with e-mails from enthusiastic home cooks: some raves about the recipe (thank you, I love you, too!), some polite questions about substitutions and technique (many thanks to you, too, for wording your thoughts so nicely), and, of course,  a couple standout notes from a few people for whom the world has seemingly ended due to their pudding not setting (oh, Internet, you vex me so).

At any rate, all the correspondence left me with me with a serious case of rice pudding on the brain (related: having a newborn also gives you a serious case of Rice Pudding Brain–coincidence?). So I gave into the craving and whipped up a batch the other day (you know, for quality control), and while working through the recipe, I realized that to the inexperienced, a traditional, eggless rice pudding recipe like the one in Pure Vanilla can be tricky to master, and we all know what I stickler I am for giving you clear, concise recipes that work. So in the interest of always being Your Kitchen Pal, I thought I’d lay out a few tips to lead you to rice pudding success, and point out a couple things that are listed in the recipe, but might benefit from further emphasis or clarification.

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Mar 8, 2013

Radio Silence

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It can only mean one thing around these parts–Sir Baby has arrived, bringing with him much love, joy, and one serious brow. Be back soon!

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Feb 3, 2013

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Madeleines

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So do you ever get sort of obsessed with a certain website, enchanted by how it just ‘gets you’? And you find yourself wholly relating to every post and wanting to invent a device that would allow you to sort of live inside said website? Well, that’s me and Camille Styles’ lovely online digs. Love the content–the interviews, the recipes, the decor ideas, the whole lot. It may sometimes make me feel like I’m living in the slums because it’s so fabulous, but hey, that’s the risk you take falling in love with a website, I guess.

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I’ve shared a few recipes with Camille’s audience in the past, and the other day I helped her kick off her sure-to-be-swoon-worthy Valentine’s Day content with a sweet idea for an edible gift. Bounce on over to Camille’s site for more photos and the recipe, a modern, Frenchy twist on the kitschy Valentine’s Day combo of chocolate-covered cherries.

Get the recipe >>

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Jan 31, 2013

Lemon, Blueberry, and White Chocolate Granola

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Well. THAT hiatus lasted a little longer than I’d intended. Let’s just say that the holidays plus my website kind of going haywire for a bit plus entering my third trimester made for a perfect storm of procrastination. That’s not to say that I haven’t been occupied around here, because when I’ve not been busy pounding Tums from a gallon-sized container while wearing compression socks, I have indeed been writing and cooking and baking, and would you believe that much of it has been of Whole Grain and Greens sort? I know, it’s kind of disappointing–I thought that my sweet tooth might rage again like it did at the end of my first pregnancy, but after a gestational diabetes scare and a general “meh” feeling towards sweets lately, I’m not taking down pounds of Twizzlers at this stage in the game like I did with Little C. (Although, full disclosure, I did eat two spoonfuls of confectioners’ sugar the other day in a fit of “I want something intensely sweet and starchy and oh! Maybe with a hint of chalk”, and it was the best thing ever–Pregnant Lady Bizarro Cravings, I salute you).

So what else have I been doing lately, aside from shoveling powdered sugar into my face straight from the box? Well, bracing for Baby 2.0 big time, for one thing. I’ve been to Ikea and Target about 27 times each in the past two months. I’m not sure how it is for other second time moms, but this time around, I’m focusing on preparing the barracks in such a way that might seem completely trivial from the outset, but as any husband who has lived with a crazy post-partum wife will tell you, sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference, and those little things are often completely unrelated to the actual baby that’s been birthed.

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Dec 21, 2012

Candy Cane Nougat Bites

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It’s a chilly, dreary, rainy day here in San Francisco (the California way of ushering in winter).

I’m getting more pregnant by the minute (now firmly in my third trimester, and by the looks of yesterday’s ultrasound, all is good with Sir Baby, thank you).

I have also been hit with some ungodly cold-ish virus that I know I caught from Little C, who was sick earlier this week (so dirty, little kids, I tell ya).

I’ve just dropped my precious offspring off at school for the last time this year, and am now back in bed, surrounded by pillows and tissues and hot water, which seems to be the only freaking thing with which they let sick pregnant people medicate other than the occasional Tylenol, which is a liar and a complete joke when what I really need is, like, 12 DayQuil capsules and a nebulizer full of Xanax to quell my holiday to-do list anxiety.

But! Despite all this doom and gloom and wahhhh, my life is so harrrrd…, yesterday was glorious. Glorious, I say! We were a fine-tuned baking operation, me and Little C, cranking out cookies, brownies, and an extra special holiday confection to add to the tins of goodies we assembled for her teachers. These Candy Cane Nougat Bites are sweet, minty, melt-in-your-mouth pillows of heaven and I encourage you to try making them as your One Last Thing to do before Christmas, which I’m sure you don’t have enough of already, right?

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Dec 18, 2012

Orange-Scented Cinnamon Rolls

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While I hesitate to call it an all-out phobia, I will say that my, um, reticent nature towards baking with yeast has been well-documented in the past. I know I’m not the only one out there who suffers from this fear, and let’s face it–yeast is a funny thing. I mean, it’s ALIVE, for cry-yi. Unpredictable, with a mind of its own! And how do you choose the right type of yeast? What if you only have active dry and the recipe calls for instant? How can you really know for sure if the dough has doubled? The world could explode with such Oprah-esque Life Questions.

Well. Recently I’ve tried to tackle that fear for good, experimenting with different breads, rolls, even cakes that use yeast as their puffing (and flavor) agent. I’ve been inching closer to becoming One With the Yeast. Baby steps.

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Dec 10, 2012

Malted Peanut Butter Crunch Blondies

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Let’s get down to it, friends. What are your Cookie Tin Contenders this year? Are you sticking to the classics? Going on on a limb with all new recipes? A little mix of both? For me, it’s about the third category, excitedly baking up those treats that make their appearance just once per year, and adding a few new selections for sport (read: satisfy rabid Pregnant Lady Cravings).

The other night I had my last scheduled book event for the year at the fabulous Omnivore Books here in San Francisco, and got to talking to a friend and fellow blogger about an old recipe from this site’s archives that she’d riffed on in the most delightful way (tahini was involved–genius!). Fast forward to 10 a.m. the next morning, and clearly, something baked and peanut buttery was in order (it doesn’t take much suggestion to get me set on an idea, food-related or otherwise, in my delicate condition).

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