We do this because sometimes we like to eat cake.

Hi. My name is Kimberly and I’m an addict. I’m addicted to baking. I’m also addicted to working out. I reason that the latter addiction makes the previous addiction okay, because included in that addiction to baking is also an addiction to eating said baked goods. I may also eat things I don’t bake on occasion.

I like sugar. It’s a problem.

Anyway, I’ve become addicted to spinning classes. I started a little over a week ago and now I’m hooked. I’ve been 5 times this week. The instructor at my gym on Thursday night was phenomenal. I didn’t even realize 60 minutes had gone by until she started stretching and asking us to slow down. She was motivating but nice. I didn’t feel like she’d actually yell at me if I slowed down, but I was scared to find out. It was the best kind of hurt when I finally got off the bike. I even braved the -2 degree weather this morning to go to spinning.

So, yes, I am an addict.

And now I have a raspberry coffee cake with granola topping in the oven… Food Network on the television. I’m just getting in all kinds of therapy today.

Raspberry Crumb Cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal, coarsely ground (quick cooking)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple juice or cider
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberries (I think you could use any berry)
  • granola or struesel topping (I used a few tablespoons of butter, 1/3 cup oats and a few tablespoons brown sugar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add the egg and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Add the apple juice and applesauce. Fold in the raspberries.

I baked mine in a 9 inch spring form pan that I coated with a nonstick cooking spray. I sprinkled the struesel topping on the batter and baked it for about 35 minutes.

-Kimberly

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Calorie Free Noodles?

Now I’m not one of those muscle head guys that watches everything I eat so I can stay trim and fit (I mean c’mon just read our last post). But I do try to watch what I eat and be healthy. I also love to try new things. So when I googled “calorie free food” just for fun and shirataki noodles came up I was intrigued. Shirataki noodles are made from yam flour and are full of dietary fiber and that’s about it. They are mostly found in specialty Asian markets or occasionally next to the tofu at a regular grocery store. Okay, my Alton Brown moment is over.

It just so happens that there is an Asian supermarket by Kimberly’s house. AND since I’m A) a nice guy  B) a great boyfriend  C) and feeling culinarily intrigued, off to the store I went to buy all the things I needed to make dinner for Kimberly.

For those of you that have never had the pleasure of going to an Asian supermarket you should try it. It’s an experience. Not in a bad way, it’s just…an experience. Anyway, after wandering through the various parts of the store I found my “noodles”. I use parenthesis because well they are almost see through and packaged in some plastic bag filled with some sort of watery solution and frankly they don’t look very appetizing. And to top it all off when I googled “recipes for shirataki noodles” there posts like “Finally a tasty shirataki noodle recipe!” But I’m not scared I can do this. Okay I’m terrified but oh well.

Next stop, Meijer. I picked up the usual things needed for stir fry. Carrots, snow peas, broccoli, mushrooms and chicken. Okay, I admit I cheated a little bit and bought one of those bags of fresh stir fry vegetables and then added mushrooms but gimme a break. It was a week night. I also love the grocery store; I could spend hours in there looking at all the stuff. I’m a freak, I know. So by the time I got done looking shopping, Kimberly called me and met me at the store. Which was good because she persuaded me to buy a tube of ginger, water chestnuts, baby corn and ponzu sauce as well.

Now on to the actual cooking. We get home and excitedly tear open the noodles only to be greeted with the most terrible smell I have experienced in a while. If you are daring enough to try this recipe, don’t let this stop you. Keep going; it turns out good. Rinse them off. We put them into a colander and let water run over them for about 15 minutes while the other stuff cooked.

While the noodles are draining add your carrots, broccoli, snow peas, water chestnuts, baby corn and chicken to a wok with equal parts soy sauce and ponzu sauce (between 2-3 tbs each) add about a teaspoon paprika, a 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, about 2 teaspoons of tubed ginger, and a few cracks of pepper. Toss it all around. When the chicken looks close to being done take the mushrooms and noodles, and add them to the mix. Cook for another 5 minutes or so; just enough time for the noodles to soak up the flavor and get warm. Then enjoy!

Healthy stir fry!

Okay I admit the dish isn’t for everyone. The noodles have a unique texture. So if you’re a texture person you may not like it. But the flavor was good and the whole wok of stir fry had probably about 600 calories in it. Which meant we didn’t feel guilty about splitting a pint of raspberry sorbetto for dessert!

-Shaun

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If at first you don’t succeed…

eat a bar of chocolate and try, try again.

I’ve never been much of a “cook.” I like stability in my life. I like that when I bake I know it’s very important to be pretty precise. You have to measure things like baking soda and salt and flour. I was always a “follow the rules” kind of gal. I follow recipes really well. Change scares me. The unknown scares me.

Me: “How much salt/pepper/rosemary/basil/garlic/awkward-spice-that-no-one-has-ever-heard-of did you throw in there?”

Shaun: “Oh, I don’t know.”

*insert me freaking out/throwing a tantrum/telling him next time he better write it down*

And then I got over it. I’d like to blame this photoboy who managed to convince me to put cilantro inside a cupcake. It tasted like a margarita. Try it sometime; I’ll even bake it for you.

And now, I’m obsessed with the unknown. Hibiscus? What would that taste like in a cookie? What if I add something sweet like raspberries or chocolate and throw it in a cupcake? How do I feel about lavender? Can I put it in a butter cream? What about bacon and chocolate and caramel in a cake?

All of this daydreaming and then I remember that I still have to teach Spanish in the morning. What if I just bribe them with cupcakes and they can teach themselves? No? Fine… I’ll teach Spanish and daydream about bacon and chocolate while I walk from one building to the next.

Speaking of flavors and spices, did you know there are so many kinds of peppercorns? Green ones and black ones and white ones and even pink ones. I mean, seriously, I’m a girl. Love me some pretty, bright pink. But in a peppercorn? Who invented that? Probably a girl who happens to be a culinary genius.

I’ve had this bag of pink peppercorns sitting on my counter for about a week. I’m told they taste excellent in brownies, but let’s face it, I’m on that cupcake bandwagon. They’re just so cute and little and perfectly fit in my mouth in about 3 bites. Sometimes 1 bite. Believe it. So I’ve embarked on an adventure this evening while the snow falls to the ground. Plus, I can do my snow-day-song-and-dance while the cupcakes are in the oven. Genius. If I have a snow day anytime this quarter, I’ll bake until my kitchen explodes and then try the bribing my students to teach themselves.

I used my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe, threw in a few crushed pink peppercorns and whipped up some ganache for good measure. Really I was just looking for an excuse to lick melted chocolate and whipping cream off a spoon. I’d probably have made a butter cream too except that my Kitchen Aid mixer is at Shaun’s house. I’m in serious love with my Kitchen Aid. I may have to brave the snow to go rescue it. It’s probably lonely and sad and thinks I’ve neglected it since I last used it on Sunday. It’s going to think I don’t love it. I guess we did give it plenty of lovin’ the other day.

Then it got bad. While 24 exams left to grade stared me in the face and Bobby Flay got his butt kicked on Iron Chef Challenge, I read a recipe that called for candied pink peppercorns. I licked washed the chocolate ganache off my fingers and jumped up to find sugar, water and another hearty helping of peppercorns.

Some of them may have fallen into the abyss. I certainly didn’t eat them.

Cliffhanger.

Are you ready?

I have to wait until that silly boy with his fancy camera comes to take pictures of them because I am inept even with my dinky little teal blue camera. But get excited. They’re pretty sweet and spicy. Too bad they can’t grade my students’ exams. Why can’t I bake a cupcake that can do that?

-Kimberly

Sweet AND Spicy

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Holy cupcakes, Batman.

We should probably preface this post by saying that despite the extreme quantity of cupcakes baked last night, not a single one was “holy.”  However, it should also be said that we believe cupcakes are a religious experience. All sweets should be a grand experience. If they aren’t, you clearly aren’t doing it right.

And if you looked at our kitchen right now, you’d say “holy cupcakes, Batman” too. How did we get here you ask? Coconut. A nice 4 ounce bottle of coconut extract to be exact. Followed by coconut flavored M&Ms, shredded sweetened and unsweetened coconut, toasted coconut and a challenge.

We’ve been frequenting North Market Spices Ltd. a lot lately (and by a lot we mean at a minimum weekly because people need new spices that often). Now that we feel like we’ve acquired the vast majority of their dry spices and herbs, we’ve branched out to discover extracts. If you live in the Columbus, OH area and haven’t been, it’s a must. Get off your couch and go. Now. Please. Anyway, back to coconut. Our friends gave us a bottle of coconut extract and told us to “play around with it and bring in some samples.” Never being one to shy from experimentation we gladly said yes and so the adventure began.

We thought about flavors that typically go well with coconut. Lime? Pecans? Almonds? Vanilla? Maybe chocolate? Would you put it all into a cookie? A cupcake? Maybe a marshmallow? We made a single multiple four trips to the grocery store for supplies and came up with a cupcake and a cookie. The cupcake was simple. Some coconut extract in the base of a vanilla bean cupcake. We added chocolate chips to some, toasted coconut and pecans to others. We even left some plain. It was of course topped off with a coconut butter cream frosting and some pretty toasted coconut (because who doesn’t love toasted coconut). The cookie paired coconut extract with toasted coconut, pecans and dark chocolate chips. There may have also been some brown sugar and butter hanging out in there as well.

The verdict? Well, we were pretty proud of our first attempts. The cupcakes were pretty light and airy, as a cupcake should be. The butter cream was sweet and had just enough coconut. The toasted coconut and pecans added some nice texture and the flavors seemed to pair well together.

The cookie? Well, the first batch burned a bit on the bottom. The second batch seemed to come out much better. The consistency was chewy and a bit cake-y. Best served still warm straight from the oven with the melted chocolate oozing slightly from the inside. Deeeeelicious.

So. You’re probably thinking. That’s one cupcake. One cookie. Yes, you’re doing the math correctly. That’s two items. No big deal. Our kitchen shouldn’t look like that much of a disaster.

Holy cupcakes batman! That's a mess!

However, I got excited, Shaun’s a little ADD and the rest just exploded from there. We decided to finally work on the epic task of building our menu of cupcakes.

We could also blame our obsession with Spices Ltd. again. We’ve become a bit excited about flavors we didn’t previously know existed in the realm of cooking and baking. We now have hibiscus powder, culinary lavender, anatto seeds and a whole slew of other things. By the time the night was over, we had a moscato wine flavored cupcake with hibiscus butter cream as well as another with a blueberry butter cream icing, a white cupcake with cilantro and a lime butter cream topped with fresh cilantro and sea salt, a chocolate cupcake with almond butter cream and toasted coconut and an angel food cupcake, hibiscus crinkle cookies, and hibiscus flavored gummies. All of our recent experiments can be viewed in the “Recent Favorites” section of our website.

Therapy!

-Kimberly & Shaun

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Cooking is like therapy

Cooking for me is like therapy. See, no matter what happens in my day I know that there is a place in the world where I can stand and just be me. I can tailor my world to match whatever mood I’m in. I am my own doctor with the freedom to prescribe whatever mood altering drug I need, including but certainly not limited to steak, tilapia, garlic or whatever else my mind and body may be in need of that day. It does not matter how chaotic the rest of the world is or how bad my day has been I can guarantee that the the taste of poached pears covered in vanilla frozen yogurt topped with an almond vanilla rum whipped cream smothered in a sweet red wine reduction sauce WILL change your attitude.

The kitchen is a place that has no boundaries and rules, merely recommendations. If you look at cooking in this way the possibilities are endless. There are no bad tasting ingredients merely poor combinations. I look at cooking as a challenge to like everything I taste. I challenge you to do the same, don’t like salmon? Find a way to cook it so you do, it can be done, I swear.

I suppose that since this is a new year I should leave you with my resolution. Go to therapy every day.

-Shaun

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I think dessert should be eaten first.

I also think that chocolate and sugar and butter should have no calories. They could at least be nutritious and beneficial to my health the way fruits and vegetables claim to be. Why doesn’t spinach taste like dark chocolate filled with peanut butter? A cup of spinach has what? Like, 20 calories? A cup of chocolate and peanut butter has more calories than anyone wants to talk about. The only thing that benefits from mass quantities of chocolate and sugar and butter are my hips, and not in a good way. Dark chocolate has all those antioxidants though, yeah? Justified.

But I still think we should eat dessert first and it should always be delicious. I’d also prefer to have made it myself, but I’ll settle for another persons baked goods or sweets from time to time because let’s face it, I don’t have the time to spend in the kitchen as much as I’d like.

Everyone has got a resolution to lose weight or make more money or find a significant other or get abs like Jillian Michaels. My resolution this year is to spend more time in the kitchen. I love baking; I like cooking. I don’t know that I’m necessarily any better than anyone else at either of them. But, for me and just for me (and all the people who eat whatever comes out of my kitchen or any kitchen I’ve put my feet in), I want to spend more time doing what I enjoy… which happens to be standing elbow deep in some form of sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, caramel, vanilla bean mixture. And occasionally some bacon and chicken and green leafy vegetable because someone says I can’t eat only sugar for the rest of my life. I mean, I am only 24. I’d like to live to see at least 80. Maybe 90…

Surrounded by people that I love and love me and pretend to love my baked disasters goods.

And abs like Jillian Michaels couldn’t hurt. I don’t even need a million dollars. Half a million would be okay. I promise I’d build a sweet kitchen and do nothing else frivolous with the money. Because multiple ovens and Kitchen Aid mixers are certainly not frivolous. They’re necessities. Dessert necessities.

– Kimberly

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