Friday, October 28, 2011

Green Street Restaurant Zucchini Bread!!!!


See the exclamation points in the title?? That's because I've been on a quest for YEARS to get this recipe and I'm beside myself with glee. Green Street Restaurant is one of my oldest faves in the culinary realm of Pasadena. They are famous for their Dianne Salad but I would eat anything on their scrumptious menu. Alongside the Dianne Salad, you receive a plate of their famous zucchini bread. It is so delicious - soft, dense, sweet, ahhh. I eat it all and lick the plate, and then look around the table to see if anyone in my party has any left on their plate to steal. Yeah, it's that good.

They do sell their bread for $6.50 a loaf, which isn't astronomical, but I wanted to know how to make it at home. They don't give out the recipe, and I've tried many recipes hoping to achieve the same decadent result, but to no avail - until recently, when I found a recipe online that was a copycat and the person claimed it was pretty close. I tried it and it was quite good indeed and very close - but it was just lacking something I couldn't put my finger on. I decided to try adding some molasses to the recipe and PRESTO! I had it. I was jumping for joy!

I promise you that this is the BEST quick bread you'll ever, ever taste!

IMPORTANT NOTES: Don't omit the maple flavoring or sesame seeds! They are what make this bread special. You can get the maple flavoring with all the other *gasp* artificial flavorings on your grocery store baking aisle (usually near the vanilla). It's cheap. Do not substitute maple syrup - it's not the same. And, even though the recipe calls for walnuts, I'm not wild about them in this bread so I omit them. It's up to you.

P.S. I can personally verify that this bread is divine with a pumpkin spice latte. :-) Just add a pinch of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, two packets of sugar in the raw, and a little splash of vanilla extract to your regular latte (dissolve those with the espresso and then pour your steamed milk over). Yum!

Green Street {inspired} Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup salad oil
1 cup each granulated sugar and firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons maple flavoring
2 cups coarsely shredded unpeeled zucchini (about 3 medium-size)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons each baking soda and salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup finely chopped walnuts, opt.
1/3 cup sesame seeds

Beat eggs until frothy; add oil, sugars, molasses and maple flavoring, and continue beating until mixture is thick and foamy. Stir in shredded zucchini.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, wheat germ, soda, salt, baking powder, and walnuts (if using) until thoroughly blended; stir gently into zucchini mixture just until blended.

Spoon the batter equally into 2 greased and flour-dusted 9 by 5-inch loaf pans. Sprinkle sesame seed evenly over top of each.

Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until bread begins to pull away from sides of pans and a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool in pans for 10 minutes; then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WDW - Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

pumpkin swirl brownies

Two weeks in a row for WDW! Can you believe it? I guess with Jury Duty I crave my creative outlets even more!

I stole this recipe from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen, and yes, I even stole the picture too. Hey, I'm on Jury Duty - don't judge me.

If you like chocolate and you like pumpkin, boy are you in for a real treat. I have put chocolate chips into pumpkin bread and muffins before, but this is a whole different ball game. It's the melding of the flavors and spices in this recipe that is really unique.

These brownies turned out more like a cake. They were too tall for a brownie really, in my opinion, and not the texture of a brownie at all. But, whatever you call them, it makes no difference to me, because they are AMAZING. When I tasted these, I just couldn't believe how good they were. It was like two of my favorite things, pumpkin bars and good chocolate brownies, blended together to make something incredibly delicious. They are actually not heavy at all like a brownie, but light, like a snack cake. I just LOVE these. I would eat one of these every day at 3:00 with a latte if I could. Just sayin'. Enjoy.

Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Cut a length of parchment that will cover the bottom and two sides (makes it much easier to remove), and line the pan with it. Butter the lining as well.

2. Melt chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Stir and cook until both are melted.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.

4. Pour half of batter (about two cups) into a separate bowl and stir chocolate mixture into it. If you find that it is a little thick (as mine was) add a little more batter (a few tablespoons or so) until it is more pourable. This is important because mine was quite thick, and the pumpkin half was quite thin, so I had trouble swirling the two together.

5. In other bowl, stir in the pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don’t set.

6. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Be sure to get your knife all the way to the bottom of the pan–I didn’t, and ended up with a chocolate base, not that it is such a bad thing.

7. Bake until set, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Be sure to test for doneness with a toothpick. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

I'm so excited about this!

sign aimee

Check this out - this is very similar to the new sign I just got for my kitchen! (here's my exact one). I am so excited. I found Aimee, an etsy seller, and she custom made it for me out of an old barn door. I even got to pick the door I wanted! I took door #2 :-) It arrived yesterday and it's going to look great on my kitchen wall. Yes - the wall that has been blank for 13 years - finally! It's huge - about 30" x 42" - and will be perfect for that space. I just love unique, one of a kind things, and since my tastes lean toward rustic when I saw this I just fell in love with it. I have always loved this verse in Zephaniah as well. I gave Rich puppy dog eyes, said it would be my Christmas gift, and he said yes. :-)

If you like this idea, but want to choose your own verse, Aimee can accomodate! She has other awesome signs as well. Check out her blog and her etsy shop!

*Think Christmas!*

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

WDW - "Clam-bows"


Wow - A WDW while I'm on jury duty? How unexpected is that?? :-)

Actually, when I ran across this recipe online recently, I knew I just had to find time to make it! We love these really junky cookies from the grocery store that my kids call "clam-bows." You know which ones? Those incredibly soft cookies with the best powdered sugar icing? They are just so enticing. I recently inquired about the name with Emma and she explained that the Tubbs girls and our kids formed the word when merging "Clam shell" and "Rainbow." Clambows. You see, the cookies always come in those clear clamshell containers, and as for the rainbow part, I am assuming they are colorful? Anyways, they are SO yummy but you know that they are SO nasty. Anyways, when I came across the recipe I just knew I had to make some. They are easy to make because you don't have to roll out the dough or use cookie cutters. You know what - I like them better than those store-bought ones. I don't miss the chemical taste at all :-)

Mine aren't exactly 'fall' looking, as I made them true to the grocery store style (pink with sprinkles). You could always tint your frosting orange and decorate with some fall motif sprinkles instead. Yum.

Clambows (Soft frosted sugar cookies)


For the cookies:

4½ cups all-purpose flour

4½ tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp. salt

1½ cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1½ cups sugar

3 large eggs

5 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting:

5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

7-8 tbsp. milk (plus more, as needed)

Food coloring (optional)

Sprinkles (optional)


To make the cookies, In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk together to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients mixing just until incorporated and evenly mixed. Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. When you are ready to bake the cookies, scoop a scant quarter cup of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball slightly and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies at least 2-3 inches apart. Bake about 10-12 minutes or just until set. (Do not overbake! The edges should be no more than very lightly browned if at all.) Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To frost the cookies, place the confectioners' sugar in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter, vanilla, and milk to the bowl and whisk until smooth. Whisk in additional milk as necessary, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. Tint with food coloring if desired. Use an offset spatula or spoon to frost the cooled cookies. (If the frosting begins to thicken as you decorate, just continue to whisk in small amounts of milk to keep it workable.) Top with sprinkles if desired. Store in an airtight container.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Dad's wedding reception - 50's style!

A few posts back, in late August, I announced that my dad had gotten remarried. Well, at the end of September, my sister Suzanne and I threw him and his new wife Mili a 50's style wedding reception at my house. We had about 125 guests -it was so much fun! We figured that since they met in high school in the 50's, they (and their friends) might enjoy a walk down memory lane. It was a really fun theme to go with.


Suzanne & I wanted to be in the true party spirit, so we got matching outfits! We didn't mind looking ridiculous - it was fun!


And here's a shot of Suzanne's family - the boys were such cute greasers. We didn't have any hair gel on hand so we used coconut oil! It did the trick. :-)


Rich even dug out his letterman's jacket. (How many of you know that Rich was a record holding swimmer back in his day? Yeah, quite the stud. Can you see the dates on his jacket?)



Stephanie and Lindsay looked great in their poodle skirts!



We set up a "photo op" for those who wanted a fun picture.


I think it was mostly the kids that had fun with it...






The bride and groom.


And some of us didn't really need a 'photo op' to ham it up. Love this pic of my sis - she's so fun.

The party started at 5:00 pm and we had Route 66 cater dinner. They showed up around 3:30 and started cooking tri tip, ribs, and chicken over a red oak wood fire barbecue. It smelled so good and the food tasted amazing. I highly recommend them- they exceeded my expectations in every way. They also served Caesar salad, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, and garlic bread which was all super delish. They were fantastic.


We set up the yard with round tables and bubble gum pink tablecloths. Our centerpieces were vintage glass sundae cups filled with Good 'n Plenty candies, which we put on top of an old 45 record. We tied helium balloon bouquets on, but they got blown around so much in the breeze that we had to cut them off right before dinner!


We served old fashioned sodas in bottles. Glad to find these and root beer in bottles at Smart and Final.


Inside the house, we set up a "Sweet Shoppe" with vintage candy for favors. I have always wanted to do this! Suzanne's son Austin made the darling sign for us.



We found some fun vintage candy jars at thrift stores.


Most of this vintage candy was easily found at Smart and Final. We did make a trip to Rocket Fizz in Burbank to supplement a bit, and to get some other old time candy to decorate with.



Dad and Mili liked the old time candies.


Austin also made us some adorable signs for our "diner desserts" buffet.


For dessert, we had pies and cakes which we served on our fabulous homemade cake stands.


The table looked awesome!




Suzanne and I did make some cakes so we could have a formal cake cutting. She made red velvet and I made carrot. We did them 3 layers each so they'd look like the tall diner cakes of old. We used this one for the cake cutting. Isn't it cute? My sister decorated it and I found some vintage decorations on ebay.


Mili arranged for a DJ to play 50's music and we turned our basketball court into an impromptu dance floor. The 70-something crowd were darling dancing to the songs of their day. Here my dad had a few words to say to all the guests. The DJ and his music really made the party special.



And I think the bride and groom had a few words for each other as well. :-)


Mili found the cutest dress to wear - aren't they so cute together?


And they had such a great time visiting with a lot of longtime friends.


The guests seemed to enjoy dinner. The weather couldn't have been nicer for an outdoor party.


After dinner, we had the cutting of the cake on the front porch.


It started off nice with Mili giving my dad a nice little bite of cake.



But then my dad decided to have a little fun. He looked at me and I gave him the thumbs up to DO IT! I think Mili knew it coming by the look in his eyes...




Yes, these are 70-ish aged people. Love it.


At least Mili was a really good sport!


We were so happy to be able to celebrate with our Dad.


Before the evening ended, Dad got a dance with his new wife. They danced to "At Last."


We love them and wish them many happy years together.

Photography credits go to the lovely Emma Leigh Harasick

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