Sunday, November 28, 2010


Grab your beer.


And make these Pretzels.

They will change your life. I know, I know. AKKKK YEASTTTTT!!!! I have already told you, it's not scary. It's actually quite invigorating. When I successfully make something with yeast I am on a excitment giddy high for hours. It's like an amazing performance adrenaline high... Okay maybe not that good, but close!!! These pretzels are amazingly easy because they don't have multiple rises, which make them much faster.

Adapted from Alton Brown's Recipe


  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt


Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Now get creative with your toppings!

I made:

Cinnamon Sugar


Sea Salt

Such a happy pretzel...

Half sea salt, half asiago....

That orange light is killing me....


A soup to warm your soul!

When it begins to get cold in Houston I kind of freak out. I immediately get into the trend of making soups, drinking hot chocolate and eating oatmeal for breakfast. The only funny thing is, if I am lucky it gets down to 60 as a high.... But this week we had lows in the 30's!!!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! The cold front didn't hit until the evening of Thanksgiving. I literally kept walking outside to test the air and see if the front was here. It was literally 80 and muggy before that cold front hit. Can I just say NO ONE wants to stuff themselves silly when it's that freaking hot. We are still nice and cool, but not for long. Monday is back up to 80. ERRRRRRRR!
To enjoy the chilly weather I made this delicious soup.
You should too!

Recipe: Kale and Cannellini Soup

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Urban Photo Shoot

We got an amazing opportunity to take photos in various sights around Houston with the Art Institute of Houston. Not only is it great for us as artists, it is wonderful for the photographers themselves because they can use the photos in their portfolios!
All around a win win situation!
Here are some of the shots I took in front of the Wortham, our home theater.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Back on the macaron train: Pie inspired Macarons

Pie, Pie, Pie.
Thanksgiving is less than a week away folks and I have NO IDEA what I am doing yet. I mean, I can't say I am surprised. This happens EVER year. We are so busy with setting Nutcracker and the Gala and other odds and ends that Thanksgiving creeps up on you like a Harry Potter death eater.
And something else...
Where the heck has 2010 gone?!?!
Can someone tell me pleaseeeeeeeeeee.

So with a lucky early ending of my work day yesterday I decided to make myself happy by baking. I needed an outlet for my anger and frustrations.
This week has literally been the longest week of my life and I am not the only one with this feeling. I feel like I have started and ended at least 14 weeks in this one. Is there something in the air?! I can't even begin to break it down and try to analyze what has made this week so much longer than any other. I mean you know you are in trouble when Wednesday (for everyone else, Tuesday) rolls around and you are certain it's at least Friday....

But it's okay. It's over and in the past and never re-entering my mind... DELETION.

I have jumped back on the macaron train after a little hiatus.
I felt inspired by festive flavors for Thanksgiving and of course my favorite flavor in the world.. pumpkin.

I decided to do pumpkin pie and pecan pie macarons..
Lord save us. They are bananas.

I followed once again the basic macaron recipe out of the "I LOVE MACARONS" with a few modifications.

Pumpkin Pie Macarons:
2/3 cup almond meal
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 egg whites
5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
scant teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 scant teaspoons cloves, ginger, and nutmeg

Pumpkin Cheesecake Buttercream:
1 stick butter
1/2 block cream cheese
3 or more cups powdered sugar (to taste)
1/4 (or more) cup pureed pumpkin (to taste)
dash on pumpkin pie spice

Now people... use good pumpkin. I don't know what I was thinking buying the generic brand of pumpkin puree. It is an absolute watery atrocious mess. Tastes like poo. Go for your own thick pumpkin puree or the organic pure pumpkin... The buttercream will thank you.

As for the Pecan Pie Macarons:

1/3 Pecan meal
1/3 Almond meal
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 egg whites
5 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Salted Caramel Sauce....
Pour it on everything peeps. Cereal, toast, chicken, broccoli, potatoes, cheese.... whatever you please. Just eat that shiz. SO GOOD.

Got the recipe from this lovely person...

This picture is creepy but I like it.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Double Pumpkins and eyeballs, mummies, and ghosts OH MY!

I dressed as Rosie, "YES WE CAN"/ 50's pin up girl for Halloween.
The party was crazy. I have never seen such a group of AMAZING costumes.
I mean these people are bananas.
They went all out.

We had a Chilean Miner..

We had a lost dog..

We had a Dolly.

We had a rehearsal in the black box theater

We had a rubik's cube....

Did I ever tell you how much I love pumpkin?
I love pumpkins smell, I love pumpkins seeds, I love pumpkins guts, I love pumpkins name.
I even named my first kitty Pumpkin...
Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin.

Well for the HB Halloween Party I made an assortment of cake balls dressed as eyeballs, mummies, and ghosts as well as these adorable pumpkin cakes.
The cake balls were the most time consuming thing I have encountered... I started at 7:00 and had to stop at 12:30 to sleep then wake up and finish the last lot.... I am not gunna lie, I didn't think the effort that it took to make them was worth it but then ALLL night everyone was freaking out about the cake balls. Guess they are a party hit... I mean they are great but nothing like these adorable pumpkin cakes in my opinion!

Cake balls or Cake Truffles are an interesting idea.
They are like eating a cake in one bite.
You have your cake, mixed with your choice of frosting and then covered in chocolate.
People have made some ridiculously cute ones.
Mine.... are a bit.. let's say... free form?! ha ha
No perfect spheres here.
I am no perfectionist when is comes to decorating to this extent.
The eyeballs are cool because there is red velvet cake on the interior, so when you bite through the hard chocolate outer layer with a crack you are left with a soft, moist red bloody cake inside. BUAHHH HA HAAA very SPOOKY!
Emily thought it would be even better with a shot of fake edible blood inside so it squirts into your mouth when you bite into it. Pretty gruesome, Halloween perfection!

Here is the Pumpkin Cake Recipe!

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing:

For the cake:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash of Cloves
dash of Ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup homemade Pumpkin Puree, or canned
1/2 cup warm (110 degrees Fahrenheit) milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, and beat until combined. Add pumpkin puree and milk; beat until combined. Add reserved flour mixture; beat on low speed until just combined.

Pour batter into baby bundt pan or whatever kind of pan you are using. I baked the baby bundt's for 20 mins. Different pans will take different amounts of time.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 stick butter

4 ounces cream cheese

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract


Caramels for leaves

Cinnamon Sticks for stems

And now for the cake balls....

Red Velvet Cake Balls: By the Velveteen Baker

For the red velvet cake:
2 1/2 c + 5T cake flour, sift before measuring
1 1/2 c sugar
1t baking soda
1t salt
1T + 1t natural cocoa powder, not dutch-processed
1 1/2 c vegetable oil
1 c buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2T red food coloring
1t white distilled vinegar
1t pure madagascar vanilla

For the cream cheese icing:
2 1/4 c confectioners sugar sifted
4oz (1/2 a block) of cream cheese, softened
1/4 c mascarpone cheese
4T unsalted butter, softened
1/2t pure madagascar vanilla

For the candy coating:
1 or 2 packages of white, milk or dark chocolate bark (while I liked the way the white chocolate looked, the milk/dark chocolate tasted much better). I recommend getting two packages since the chocolate tends to get messy after a while with crumbs from the cake balls.

Preheat the oven to 350. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour (pre-measured and sifted), sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, gently beat (speed 1 or 2 of a handheld mixer) the oil, buttermilk, eggs, vinegar, vanilla and red food coloring until blended. Add in the dry ingredients slowly and beat (speed of 1 or 2) until smooth. Pour into a lined and greased 9x13 pan.

Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes, turning once half way through. Cool in pan for no more than 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once your cake has cooled, shave off any hard edges of the cake using a serrated knife.

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, butter and vanilla until smooth. Slowly sift in the confectioners sugar and beat on a low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed until fully blended. Now here's the fun part. Take your cake and crumble it into a large mixing bowl. Add up to two cups of the cream cheese icing and mix with a spatula (or with your hands if you don't mind getting a little messy) until fully incorporated. It will be the consistency of a thick dough. Roll the mixture into balls and lay onto a cookie sheet. Place in the freezer until ready to coat in chocolate.

Before coating the cake balls must chilled, but not completely frozen. Melt the chocolate bark in microwave according to directions on package. Dip and cover one cake ball at a time using either a spoon or a dipping fork and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. I like to take one or two cake balls out of the freezer at a time, as they are easier to work with that way. You can cover up any mishaps with a second coating (or drizzle) of chocolate once the first layer has hardened.