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Showing posts from April, 2011

Hospitality Helps

If you've been following this blog long at all, you've probably gathered that I love to cook for people.  A big table has been on my wishlist for years, and thanks to Craigslist, my dining room got a major update last week.  In the course of about 72 hours, it went from hand-me-down Queen Anne eyesore to sleek Shaker sanctuary, from my least favorite room to my most favorite (though it still needs its walls painted).  The new table can seat 14 with ease when extended, and it's got me daydreaming about get-togethers, game nights, and family gatherings.



As great as it is to have a new dining room set, these lovely objects of wood are not ultimately what will make my home a welcoming place.  This series of articles from one of my favorite blogs, Passionate Homemaking, has been so helpful in reminding me of this, and giving me a renewed desire to be, not just a perfect Martha Stewart-type hostess, but a truly hospitable woman of God.

Defining Hospitality: Hospitality vs. Entert…

Sugar-Free Banana Cake for a 1st Birthday

I know it's a popular thing to do.  Give a whole fluffy, sugary, gooey smash cake to baby to smoosh and fling to his or her heart's content for the big One.  It makes for a good photo op, I suppose, but it's always sort of rubbed me the wrong way.  Indulgence as a rite of passage?  It's hard for me to get behind that. As we approached the first birthday of my little guy, I knew I wanted to serve a cake I could feel really good about him enjoying. We always have an arsenal of ripe bananas biding their time in the freezer, so I started searching for recipes for a sugar-free banana cake.  What I ended up with was closely akin to banana bread, a yummy base for strawberries, fresh whipped cream, and natural vanilla ice cream.  Made with whole wheat flour, applesauce, and of course, bananas, it's (in my opinion) the perfect 1st birthday cake.


Sugar-Free Banana Cake adapted from this recipe  1 cup banana, mashed  (about 3-4 bananas)1/4 cup butter, softened1/4 cup water1/2 c…

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes

As if the chocolate bunnies, Nestle crunch eggs, and giant truffle eggs weren't enough, I had to go and ensure the downfall of self control by making cupcakes too.  Not just any cupcakes, either.  The most moist, tender, dark chocolate cupcakes I've ever made topped with fluffy sour cream-based milk chocolate frosting. YUM.



I don't know the proper etiquette here.  Hopefully attribution is enough, because I did absolutely nothing original with these, just whipped up a delectable batch of Chocolate Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, from the wonderful Baking Bites blog.

The flavor and texture of the cake is just perfect, but the frosting makes these stand out.  The sour cream really gives a delightful tang and richness to it.  I made only slight changes to the original recipe, like cutting back the salt a little bit in the frosting and using a little extra confectioners sugar to make sure it was stiff enough to pipe.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Sour …

Sweet Chili Chicken Stir Fry

There's a wonderful Oriental Foods market/warehouse in my city that is my go-to place for all my Chinese and Thai ingredients for stir fries and curries.  The workers are always friendly and helpful, but I managed to stump them on my recent visit.  After seeing Holly (of the incredible Phe.MOM.enon blog) post this delicious-looking recipe for Chile Honey Chicken, I made tracks to the warehouse to scout out Ponzu sauce.  I knew I was looking for a citrus infused soy sauce and was hoping to find a bottle clearly labeled.  No such luck.  I called on two sales associates for help, but neither could read Japanese and so were as lost as I was among the rows of characters.  They retired apologetically, but I was determined to find what I needed for my recipe.  After turning over and reading the labels of at least a dozen bottles filled with dark liquid, I found it.  Ponzu, in teeny tiny print on a teeny tiny label on the back of a bottle.  One of the sales associates suggested I put in …