Sunday, February 27, 2011

This past week, Trey's aunt came to visit.  We had a great week with her and she's back to Atlanta today.  I'll post pictures another day.

On the way to the dentist the other day, we stopped at the gas station.  A camel was peaking out over this truck and it just made us laugh.  It's still not totally normal, right?!

And then I found these snacks the other day somewhere.  Papy snacks. We used to call our grandfather Pappy.   They really have some interesting names for snack items.  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cocoa Layer Cake

This cake was S.O. good!  I can't even tell you about it.  Make it for yourself.  We made it for friends -- 2 times.  Nobody hates it....and if you make it, nobody will hate you either.  If you would like to make your chocolate loving friends happy, go to the Bon Appetit and find the recipe or look below.



•1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled)

•1 cup lukewarm water, divided

•1/2 cup buttermilk

•1 1/2 cups cake flour (spooned into cups to measure, then leveled)

•3/4 teaspoon baking soda

•1 cup sugar

•1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

•1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

•2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten to blend


•10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter

•1 1/3 cups (packed) golden brown sugar

•1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

•2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

•1 cup heavy whipping cream

•2 teaspoons vanilla extract

special equipment

•3 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 11/2-inch-high sides



•Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line with parchment paper rounds; butter parchment. Whisk cocoa and 1/2 cup warm water in small bowl. Whisk buttermilk and 1/2 cup water in another small bowl. Sift flour, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars and butter in large bowl until pale yellow and fluffy (mixture will appear granular), about 5 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add beaten eggs, then beat until smooth and fluffy, about 15 seconds. Add cocoa mixture; beat to blend. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 2 additions, beating to blend after each addition. Divide batter among pans (about 1 3/4 cups each).

•Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, reversing pans halfway through baking, about 18 minutes. Cool completely in pans on racks.


•Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, and 1/2 teaspoon (scant) salt. Gradually stir in cream. Stir until mixture is very hot and just begins to simmer at edges. Reduce heat to low; stir 1 minute to let flavors blend. Transfer to medium bowl; stir in vanilla (frosting will resemble chocolate sauce). Chill until just thickened, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. Let stand at room temperature.

•Run knife around cake sides. Carefully invert 1 cake onto plate (cake is very tender); peel off parchment. Spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Invert second cake onto palm of hand. Position cake 2 inches above frosted cake layer. Carefully slide cake onto first cake layer. Peel off parchment. Spread cake with 1/2 cup frosting. Repeat with third cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Do AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; let stand at room temperature.

•Cut into wedges and serve.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm all outta words.....

I'm assuming many of you saw this already...but it really makes me laugh. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I give you my heart.....

We love baking in this house.   I had arabic lessons this week on Valentine's Day so I had my teacher come to my house (she usually does for lessons) but this week we had arabic lessons while making cookies. She taught me words for baking as we went along. Practical life arabic is what I am looking for so it worked well!  The next night, Min, Trey and I decorated the cookies and brought them into work for everyone to enjoy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In your eyes.....

I've been having sinus problems since we moved here.  It's so dry here and I've never lived in such a dry climate before......nor have I breathed so much "fake" air.....we live inside air conditioned spaces from April - October.  Going from 120 degrees to a freezing office and back to 120 degrees I think did something for my sinuses last summer and they've never been the same since.   I've been having problems mostly with dizziness since it all started.  So anyway, our great ENT doctor has been trying to help me.  Last week, he put these funny glasses on me to look at my eyes to see if they were doing a fluttering thing.  Good news, they weren't.  Wow, they felt funny to put on.  I couldn't see anything except the light he was pointing in my eyes.  But Trey thought that this was hilarious anyway so now it's our desktop picture and I get to see my crazy eyes every time I open up the computer.  Such a treat:)

Cherry Squares.....

Last week, Min and I made Cherry Squares for our after church coffee hour.  My mom always made these around Valenine's Day/President's Day for school when we were little.  They are so easy to make and taste good. Give them a try!

Cherry Squares
Cream together:
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar

4 eggs
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pat into greased 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan. Score into 28 squares.

Spoon cherry pie filling into center of each square.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

Cut into squares again and remove from pan when cool.

Can sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cinnamon Coffee Cake.....

This weekend Min made a good coffee cake from Martha Stewart.  Thought I would share it with you since it was tasty, pretty easy and a nice thing to wake up to on Friday morning (our weekend is Friday and Saturday).

Serves 6
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. In a medium bowl, combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Put 1/2 cup of the mixture in a small bowl, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon, and set aside. Stir egg and milk into remaining flour mixture.
  2. Spoon batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the surface. Pour melted butter over the top. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture evenly over the butter. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

Read more at Cinnamon Coffee Cake - Martha Stewart Recipes 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Head out on the highway.....

This past weekend, we decided to hit the road and head to Abu Dhabi.   Abu Dhabi is a pretty big city along the water but without all the congestion of traffic like Dubai (or at least in my opinion).   The weather was perfect, the company good and our weekend turned out great.

On our first day, we decided to rent these "4 person" bikes.  Really they are made for 2 adults and 2 children but we always like to mix things up a little here we are with 4 adults.  We passed one family as we were pedaling and they just started laughing at us....or I should say WITH us because we were laughing so hard when we added Trey into the mix I wish our bell had been working because I would have just rang it at that moment.

That evening we enjoyed a nice dinner at Shangri-La hotel in Abu Dhabi.  What a fun atmosphere and again the weather was perfect so we enjoyed some time outside after dinner.   You can see the Sheikh Zayed mosque in the background in the middle picture above.

On Saturday morning, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at our hotel and then headed back to the beach and rented bikes and then rode along the Corniche.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I'm a Chiquita Banana.....

When we came back from all of our travels this winter, our friends came over one night for dinner. They brought us this nice big fruit basket.  A) I don't think I've ever received a fruit basket before (maybe that will come when we have a baby or something...I don't know what kind of event you need to have in life to get a fruit basket back home.....does having a baby do that for you?) and especially not one THIS big.  It was so fun. Everyday I would bring in lots of new fruit to the office and each day everyone would check in to see what we had that day.  There were some cool exotic fruits in that basket. This thing was mega-huge and heavy.  It was sooo sweet of them.

And B) We don't really give gifts to friends or family when they return home from somewhere...usually it's the other way around. Usually we're looking to see what kind of souvenir they got us!  It was such a surprise to receive a warm welcome home.  Arab hospitality knows how to do it.  They win again.  1 point for them, 0 for us.

Last but not least, my friend Tricia sent me this fabulous brownie recipe. She made them before and they were D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.  Last week at church it was my turn to bring a treat for the coffee time after wards. I made some home made brownies, but they tasted NOTHING like these. Mine were dry and crumbly and didn't taste half as good as the normal box kind (I'm an advocate of making most thing home made....but boxed brownies are pretty darn good).  Anyway, Tricia sent me the recipe and I thought it would be nice to pass along.  Maybe if you get it today, you can make them for your SUPERBOWL party!  We talked about trying to get up at 4am to watch a bit, but I think my sleep will win out on this one.  It usually does when the alarm goes off to do odd things like this in the middle of the night.   Anyway, here you go. Enjoy.

Kate's Famous Brownies (courtesy of Katharine Hepburn)

1. Preheat oven to 325
2. In a heavy saucepan over very low heat. melt 2 squares unsweetened chocolate and 8 tbsp. butter.
3. Remove pan from heat and stir in 1cup sugar.
4. Beat in 2 eggs and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
5. Quickly stir in 1cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup all purpose flour, and 1/4 tsp. salt.
6. Spread batter in a well-greased 8" x 8" baking pan.
7. Bake 40 to 45 minutes.
8. Remove pan to a rack to cool.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011


In early January while we were still home, we had a chance to see some of our good friends. Every summer we get together for our G-Crew reunion with our college buds.  It was nice to have a quick and spontaneous get together while home in January.....especially since this year we most likely won't be able to go to G-Crew.  Our first time....sad, sad, sad.  I hate missing that.  Anyway, we graduated over 10 years ago....and our friendship is still going strong!