Archive for April, 2013

Fancy Science Dinner Party + Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

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There is a difference between being invited to dinner and being “invited” to make dinner. It’s kind of significant, because it’s one thing for someone to flatter you by saying say, “Let me provide dinner for you” and another thing entirely for someone to flatter you and then say “Please provide dinner for me.”

I have experienced both, and I have appreciated both, but somehow I like the former scenario a little better. (Where my ladies at?)  And I would like to tell you about my most recent “invited to dinner” experience because I think you would appreciate it. I appreciated it. The only thing I even contributed were the chocolate pecan florentines I showed you earlier.

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This dinner was neat because a bunch of people from my church got together for an evening, and we all made dinner together. As a group. That element is really important. It made doing the dishes fun. I mean, there was a real chef involved, and he kind of knew exactly what he was doing, but he let the rest of us novices help.

On the menu:

Citrusy Slaw Scallops (Hello.)

Sea Salt Coffee Caramels

Pop Rock Nutella Hazelnut Truffles (Read that again. As you can imagine, this was a total party-in-your-mouth moment.)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Strawberry Truffles (Rich.)

Bacon and Nutella Fluff (It gets real.)

Raspberry Sorbet

Jameson-Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream with Chocolate Pecan Florentines (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

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Dinner was science! Science was dinner! And dinner was delicious. And the toasted marshmallow ice cream? Well, let’s just say, I couldn’t have been more delighted. I just kept talking and talking about it, and scraping unsalvaged bits of melted marshmallow off wax paper. I couldn’t help it.

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Hopefully this gives you some dinner party inspiration for summer! It’s time to bust out the grill! Try a sparkly new cocktail! Kick back with your friends! I am using too many exclamation points, but I just can’t help it. There was toasted marshmallow ice cream.



Pipe Dream #193: To Be Invited, Not Invited – Gluten Free Chocolate Pecan Florentines

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I have a delicious treat in the form of a delightful dinner party to share with you this week, wherein I will wax on about being invited as opposed to being “invited” (apologies in advance). But before I do, I would like to share my only contribution to said dinner party, as the other items on the menu will clearly outshine my miniscule offering.

I do not feel bad about my miniscule offerings at all. Trust me, you will understand when you know. This dinner party. Heavens.

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Spoiler alert: Don’t read this next unless you want to know what I ate for dinner the other week, which I will also tell you later this week. What’s that? You don’t care what I ate for dinner the other week? You should care. Because I ate


Let that sink in.

Ok. I know.

And what is the only worthwhile accompaniment to toasted marshmallow besides everything? That’s correct, Senator. Chocolate.

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I wanted to make something gluten-free, because there were some GF attendees, and these florentines were the perfect recipe. Elegant, interesting, and made with gluten-free flour.

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Traditional Italian florentines are made with almonds and are sandwiched together with tempered dark chocolate. The cookie batter flattens out significantly and bubbles up, creating a crunchy, buttery shell. This recipe substituted the almonds for pecans (which weren’t overpowering by any means, so if you don’t like pecans, no big), and instead of making cookie sandwiches, I opted to shape them into little serving bowls for the ice cream, kind of the same way you might shape brandy snaps.

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This was Attempt #1 at shaping the florentines. I let the cookies cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheets and then wrapped them around the metal handle of my whisk, pinching the ends to seal. They just slide right off like magic! I might have left them on a bit longer, though. As you can see, they are a little deformed.

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Attempt #2 was more successful. I flipped little mise en place bowls, and draped individual cookies over them, pressing down the sides to create little cups for the ice cream.Next time, I would drape the cookies over on their other side, so the pretty, bubbly side to the cookies would be more visible when they are flipped upright.


This is an easy way to add some class to your next ice cream sundae party. You should have one of those. It would be impossible to fail, and it’s practically summer right now.

Don’t mind me,


Gluten-Free Chocolate Pecan Florentines

Adapted from gluten freek

1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend (I used Bob’s)

2 handfuls pecans, finely ground in a food processor (or 3/4 cup pecan flour)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/3 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter

1/4 cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons milk

chocolate chips, if desired

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two cookie sheets with parchment.

Combine the flour, pecans and cocoa in a small bowl, mixing well to get as many clumps out as possible. I found that my pecans were a little sticky.

Combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup and milk in a small saucepan. Stir occasionally over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour mix well so all the clumps are incorporated and the mixture is smooth.

Drop by the teaspoonful onto the baking sheets leaving two to three inches between each cookie to allow for spreading. Bake for 10 minutes. While the cookies are baking, set out little mise en place dishes or other little bowls upside down.

Remove the sheets from the oven and let the cookies cool for a couple minutes. When the cookies are cool enough that you can lift them without them stretching, drape each cookie over the little dishes you have set out and press down the edges, creating little bowls out of the cookies. Alternately, you can wrap each cookie around the end of a wire whisk, sliding them off to make a cannoli-like shell.

Let the cookies cool, then store in an airtight container between layers of parchment.

Pipe Dream #192: To GET THAT

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The greatest  compliment to receive as a photographer is that my subjects look natural. Capturing real smiles is my joy. It is that moment of satisfaction where you just know you got it right and you can move on. Next pose, next subject, next joke. It’s better than baking a perfect chocolate chip cookie.

Because a still can only catch one second of a real person, it can be tricky to coax out a smile and record it on film at the same time. So getting one means that I am not so horrendously unfunny and that I still am maintaining my fine motor skills.



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Pipe Dream #191: To Be A Healthfully Interesting Addition – Coconut Oil Banana Bread

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Coconut oil is so cool. You can read about it here. To sum up:

The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. The benefits of the oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial properties.

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Clearly, coconut oil is multi-purpose, friends. In the case of me, I purposed it for this banana bread, replacing butter or liquid oil with a nutty, space-alien lookin’ fat. It has s super high melting point, so at any point below 76 degrees, the oil is solid.

Incidentally, do you remember that sweet magic shell ice cream topping you can buy? It’s liquid, but then when it hits the ice cream it hardens like a DQ dip cone. Because of coconut oil’s high melting point, you can create your own magic shell with just chocolate and oil! Sweet party trick.

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Maybe I should have included chocolate chips in this bread. It would have been like a banana split. With or without, this bread is subtly coconut-flavored and super dense, even after three days. Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried coconut oil in anything else; it seems like it could be a healthfully interesting addition to any number of recipes.

I want to be a healthfully interesting addition,


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Coconut Oil Banana Bread

Adapted from Chez Us

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil (or butter)
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 medium-size bananas
1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour (or all-purpose)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the coconut oil on medium speed until soft, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl halfway through. Make sure to scrape down the bowl and beaters a fair amount during the whole process; I found that things weren’t getting as well-mixed as I would have liked.  Add the yogurt and continue beating on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the sugar and mix until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and bananas and mix until well combined.  Add the dry ingredients, mixing on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the top is a deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Check it at 30 minutes to make sure the top isn’t browning too much. If it starts to brown too much, cover with foil for the remainder of the baking time.

Favorite Shots: Now Presenting

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Now presenting, my pretty parents. All dressed up in black and white. You guys are so attractive.



Pipe Dream #190: To Find That One Gem – Cherry Breakfast Clafoutis

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I have recently been loving checking out HuffPost Taste. All the pictures are beautiful, and it points me to other blogs for inspiration. Scrolling through recipe indices is so fun for me. It’s like digging through the entire rack at the thrift store and finding that one gem.

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I tried a cherry clafoutis once before, but that was with cherry pie filling, and the effect is not quite the same. Clafoutis in their true form are easy art; the fruit displays beautifully like in a tart, but you don’t have to go through all the work of making a tart shell. Pancake tart art for Saturday b-fast? Yes please.

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The original recipe has a crumble topping which looked so amazing. Please try it like that. And bonus, clafoutis work well as dessert also, served warm or at room temperature.

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Happy breakfast-ing,


Cherry Breakfast Clafoutis

Adapted heavily from HuffPost Taste

2/3 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
heaping 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 large eggs
3/4 cup lowfat milk
1/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 pound (12 ounces) frozen, pitted cherries

For garnish: powdered sugar, heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk in the melted butter, eggs, milk, yogurt and vanilla. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.

Butter 8 small ramekins or a 6-cup baking dish. Arrange the cherries in the bottom of the dish(es). Pour the batter over the cherries and bake for 30-40 minutes until puffed and golden.

Whip the heavy whipping cream, adding sugar for sweetness. Dust clafoutis with powdered sugar just before serving and top with lightly whipped cream. Serve warm or at room temperature.

A Few Necessary Items: Clementine Ginger Tequila Sunrise + Fresh Guacamole

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Some things are just so, so necessary.

Chapstick in the winter.

Bon Iver on rainy days.

Clementine Ginger Tequila Sunrises with chips and homemade guac on a Saturday afternoon.

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What? That is superfluous?

I disagree. Especially when I am dying for summer and the only cure is citrus.

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Guys, this drink is so delicious. And fun! I got to use a dusty mortar and pestle. Ingesting antiquated.

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You, too, can ingest antiquated. Please join me in this. Ok.

Ever your superfluous,


Clementine Ginger Tequila Sunrise

Serves 2.

4 ounces tequila

8 ounces fresh clementine juice

½-1” fresh ginger root, sliced up a bit

2 tablespoons grenadine

Coarse sea salt (I used a smoked coconut lime salt)

Juice clementines. Grind up the ginger root with a mortar and pestle, then immerse the ginger in the clementine juice for a while, maybe like 15 minutes while you whip up some fresh guac. Dip the rims of two glasses in the juice and then dip into the coarse salt. Strain out the bits of ginger from the clementine juice. Fill the glasses with ice and measure two ounces of tequila into each. Top up the glasses with the clementine juice, then pour a tablespoon of grenadine into the side of the glass so it sinks to the bottom. Don’t mix it in. Garnish with an additional slice of clementine.

Fresh Guacamole

1 ripe avocado, cubed

4 grape tomatoes, diced

1/8 of a red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

Cumin, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, to taste

Mix up everything but the avocado in a small bowl and let the flavors meld for a bit in the fridge. When ready to serve, mash up the avocado in a medium bowl, then stir in the other ingredients. Serve with chips.

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