Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pistachio Pound Cake

 Ever since I made the decision to start blogging about food I've been a bit overwhelmed with the million-dollar question - what do I cook? I've been pinning things here and there... ripping recipes out of my favorite magazines... But one night I was reading my most current Bon Appetit magazine and told my husband about this recipe for Pistachio Pound Cake. His head popped around the corner from the kitchen and he said, "make that!" So I did. Welcome to my first official blog post as a "food blogger"! (Cue marching band, cheerleaders & Blue Devil fly-over!)

The recipe is from the section of the magazine where people write in to the BA editors & ask them to get recipes from restaurants - this recipe is from The Tasting Room in Houston, Texas. The amazing chef that concocted this deliciousness is Chef Raymond Vandergaag. Well done, sir!

This is a pound cake which means it is dense but sweet and buttery and just tasty all-around. The citrus and the pistachios really add a great flavor & crunch to the already-amazing cake. My only critique of the recipe was that, in my opinion, it could have used a bit more pistachio. Alas, to each their own. 

And now, for our more visual readers, on to the picture portion of our show.

The citrus mise en place - fresh lemon & orange juice; lemon & lime zests. Well worth the effort.
The dry ingredients - it's important to mix them all up ahead of time so you don't get any big clumps of baking soda in your mouth. Honestly - few things are grosser.

Whipping butter really does make a difference - it becomes much lighter and incorporates into the recipe much smoother. I used to skip that step all the time.. what a bone head!

The finished batter - it's all thick and delightful. Even at this stage I knew this was going to be amah-zing.

Batter into the pan, sprinkle with 1/4 cup of pistachios before heading into the oven.

The finished product. By the way - I hate silicone pans...

This was as far as I got before I had to try it! Holy cats!

Pistachio loaf showing it's good sides... which would be all of them. There is a crust that forms on the top that adds a special little crunch to the loaf. It's life changing... really.. it is.

As I said, there was virtually nothing I would want to change about this recipe with the exception of maybe a bit more pistachios in the batter. The recipe calls for 1 cup, divided (1/4 cup goes on top) but I think if you are a fan of the pistachio... throw another handful in the batter. Live life on the edge!

As per my normal routine when baking goodies, I cut the loaf up, ate a piece right away... just to make sure it wasn't poison... It's what all responsible bakers do. Then I put 2 pieces in a container for my dear husband to eat with his coffee at work. Then, I wrapped the remainder up and took it to work. I cannot have things like this in my house because I would end up calling in sick to work, brewing a pot of coffee and just laying on the kitchen floor eating the entire thing. So, in efforts NOT to have to wear stretchy pants for the rest of my life, I take all treats to work and make everyone there eat them. (See why it is so important that I make sure the baked goods are not poison?!) I'd like to report that everyone that tried this was just so impressed with my baking skills. And the best part is they know it is because of my skill that the loaf was so good... not because it was a great recipe...but because I was amazing enough to follow the directions and execute it flawlessly. Right? 

Ok, enough of my babble. See below for the knock-your-socks-off recipe. Oh - did I mention someone actually offered to pay me to make them a loaf? It is true! I said no to the money... so we're bartering instead. I will have a new hand-made desk tchotchke by next Friday!



  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1 cup* shelled, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped, divided    
* or more!


  • Arrange a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 325°. Coat a 9x5x3" loaf pan with nonstick spray. Dust pan with flour; tap out excess.
  • Whisk 2 cups flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Add sugar; beat until well incorporated, 1–2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Add juices and zests; beat until well combined (mixture will look curdled), 2–3 minutes. Add dry ingredients; reduce speed to low and beat just until blended. Fold in 3/4 cup pistachios. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup pistachios over.
  • Bake cake, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely in pan. Run a sharp knife around sides to loosen; unmold cake.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Winning the Lottery

Currently, in the state of California, the lottery jackpot is worth $500 million dollars. I am not a lottery-player very often but when jackpots get this big, you can't help but want to join in and play the odds (which are like 1:175 million or something ridiculous like that). When I used to commute between LA and Orange County, I would pass a billboard every night that would post the current jackpot amounts and I would pass the time on the slow crawl up I-5 planning what I would do with that money if I won. It was a great game that always made my drive a little less horrible. 

Listening to the radio this morning on my much-shorter-now commute, they were talking about the current jackpot which is huge - $500 million dollars. The take home pay is roughly $350 million.. but still, more money than most of us can even fathom.I find myself, once again, day dreaming about all of the things I would/could/should do with that kind of money; I am always so sensible when I play that game in my head. 

First, I would pay off our bills - truck & car payments, student loans, etc. I would write Sallie Mae a check with a big smiley face on it and say - good bye, forever.  And then the normal things... buy a new house, new cars, new furniture.. and pay for it in cash. And then I would take my entire family and my husbands entire family on a vacation somewhere fun. Followed promptly by a vacation for just me and my husband in order to recuperate from the previous vacation! And after squirreling a bunch of money away so we could live and retire and send our kids to college, etc I would become what I have always wanted to be... a Philanthropist. 

But I digress... 

I read something in another blog the other day that resonated with the author... and has started to resonate with me: You can have the life you want.It is such a simple statement but yet, really powerful at the same time. I used to believe that I just needed  a certain amount of money to be able to really achieve the things I wanted but maybe it's not about money and more about willingness and drive and reckless abandon. After all, how many movies do you see made about people that achieved something because they had the money to do it... boring! No! It's about people fighting the odds, defying gravity, sticking it to the man... 

So I may still buy a lottery ticket and try my chances at $500 million dollars... but let's not wait for the winning ticket to go after the things we want!

Woo Hoo!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In Training

I bet you're wondering where I went... ok.. hopefully you're wondering where I went. 
A couple of things have kept me from blogging as much as I would like. 

First is my crazy toddler - Drew. He has decided that he wanted to move his bedtime from 7pm back to 8pm which means my "me" time has been reduced by an hour. Phoo! But the trade-off has been him sleeping through the night (most nights). I guess I'll just have to deal because I think I would rather give him the hour before bedtime rather than at 3am. No thank you!

Second is the Ragnar Relay. For those of you who weren't following me an entire year ago, the Ragnar Relay is a 200-mile relay race from Huntington Beach to Coronado Island (San Diego). Last year, Mark and I joined a team with his cousins and this year we formed a new team made up of a mish-mash of cool people we know. The relay basically functions like.. well.. a relay race. There is a "baton" that is passed from one runner to the next and we just run in sequence until we reach the finish line. There are 12 people on each team (unless you're crazy *ahem, Carl* and run an Ultra team, which is only 6 people) and each runner runs 3 legs. Legs can vary from about 3 miles to 10 miles, flat & hilly, day and over-night. It is an amazing experience & we're super excited to be running it again... in less than 4 weeks! So that is where the rest of my evenings have been going. Since it is crunch time for our training, I've been running at night trying to get my body ready for this race. 

So, please forgive my absence. Trust me, I'd love to be focusing on other things.. like this new brownie recipe I found. But all in due time. Next week should be better and I'll try to get my act together and blog for realsies.

I leave you with a few fun pics from last year's Ragnar Race...

Me & Mark before the race - it was a beautiful weekend!
The Starting Line - Huntington Beach
Who wouldn't be motivated by this?!
Have a very happy weekend!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Major: Food

I've been working on a "focus" for my blog... and all it has gotten me is a realization that I have no focus. I took a webinar last week on Blogging 101... and it confirmed I needed to find a focus. Hmmm... but what to focus on?

Do I go with fashion and trends? Probably not... ever since I got married and bought a house I traded in my Vogue and W subscriptions for Martha Stewart Living and Sunset. 

Or there is kiddo stuff? Maybe... but he's pretty little still and we don't do anything all that interesting except defy gravity on a daily basis when diving off the couch face first onto the dog. 

I could be crafty! But I don't think I am really creative in my own right... I am a knock-off artist. I suppose I could stretch myself and see if I could come up with something fun to do... but it's much more fun for me to do stuff I found on another blog or on Pinterest

So.. that left me with food. 

I have a love-hate relationship with food. I love it... but it can make my jeans tight (tight jeans = hate). But I love to cook and bake and learn new things. So... I am pretty sure that is what I am going to use as my focus. 

For my oodles of readers, do not be sad... There will always be room for posts about my crazy son or my sporadic cleaning habits. But this is for the best. For the same reason they make you choose a major in college (umm.. is now a good time to mention that I pretty much was forced to pick a major because I had tried about 5 and was still a bit indecisive..?) I have decided to make my blog "major" food and all that it encompasses! With a minor in crazy toddler. 

I hope my new direction (cue husband laughing... ha ha new direction = nude erection.. very funny, I get it.. moving on!) proves to be a good choice. If not, we'll just switch it. See.. unlike a college major, I am not paying upwards of $25k a year to do this. (Which also means no student loansThank you, baby Jesus!)

As my beloved Poppa used to say, "Cheers to the cook!"

Monday, March 5, 2012


I've been seeing alot of waffles lately. And not just the kind you get on a Sunday morning covered in strawberries and whipped cream or dripping with sweet syrup. I am seeing more of the savory kind and seeing alot of them. Am I picking up on some sort of new food trend?

We live down the street from a walk-up food stand called Bruxie. They're slogan is "the bold fold" - they offer waffles in all formats. Sweet, savory, as a sandwich. The line is usually wrapped around the corner. We've managed to go there once and I had a prosciutto and Gruyere waffle; my husband had the Bruxie Burger. Both were delightful. I am understanding why people are standing in line for this.

And then, in my Bon Appetit magazine this month there is a short article about and recipe for Ham & Cheese Waffles. I think we held out about 3 days before we had to make them. We altered the recipe a bit (I simply could not put 2 sticks of butter in the waffle batter and face a mirror ever again) but tried to stay true and I have to admit - they were pretty darn good.

I am seeing recipes for these savory waffles everywhere - Pinterest is covered in them. Really, if you think about it what is not to love about a warm buttery, crispy waffle topped with.... anything? I am pretty sure that if you took cooked carrots (which I despise) and added a waffle with them... I'd eat them... and probably enjoy them. 

So, the lesson learned here is: Eat waffles with everything. Or maybe it's: Turn everything into a waffle. Either way, you won't be disappointed.