ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Chocolate-Caramel Layer Cake Insanity


When it comes to eating healthy, I’m not always known for my self-discipline. Sure, I had a month this summer where I stayed away from all carbs, breads, and otherwise joy-inducing foods, but generally, I’m in a constant state of declaring healthy intentions while simultaneously shoving Kit-Kats into my face. This past week was no exception. Things started off in a dark (read: wonderful place) when a visit to the Orange County Fair resulted in sublime consumption of funnel cake, chocolate dipped ice cream cones, and various other diet-adverse items. I swore I would do better for myself, but of course, things rapidly spiraled out of control.

You see, the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated appeared in my mailbox, and in its monochromatic pages was a recipe for Chocolate-Caramel Layer Cake. Suddenly, hearts appeared in my eyes and Tchaikovsky’s love theme from Romeo & Juliet blared all around me. I had to make this. I had to! But I couldn’t, especially not during this week of county fair gut reparations. Besides, why would I just make a CAKE for no reason?

And then fate came calling. Turns out I had plans to attend a game night at the end of the week, and as luck would have it, that game night was now being upgraded to a birthday celebration for my friend Lodric. I was told I was on cake duty, and far be it for me to deny that responsibility. The planets had aligned: I had the perfect excuse to make the chocolate-caramel layer cake.

It was on.

But was it worth it? Keep reading to find out…

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means it’s the perfect time to celebrate Christmas. I mean, technically, we should probably wait to throw a holiday party until December, but we all know that the Holiday season officially kicked off on November 1st. At least, that’s when it seems socially acceptable to admit that it began. The truth is that most people were probably humming “Deck the Halls” halfway through Columbus Day.

Well, the not-so-surprise twist is that I’m Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas, but it doesn’t mean I can’t get into the Holiday spirit, especially since it’s a great excuse to bake up cakes and cookies. Conveniently, Baker’s Secret recently sent me some complimentary colored metal bakeware and encouraged me to whip up some holiday recipes. Challenge ACCEPTED.

After the jump, check out pics of my holiday cake party, starring Ina Garten’s mocha icebox cake and a banana cake with cream cheese frosting….

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: International Friendsgiving Edition (Plus, A Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe)


This may be somewhat shocking, but I’ll just come out with it: last weekend, my friends and I convened for yet another Friendsgiving. This marks the third Friendsgiving I’ve hosted since actual Thanksgiving last year (which, admittedly, was also a Friendsgiving). Have we gone turkey crazy? Not really. This time around the mania was inspired by Corningware. You see, Corningware has this handy dandy new line of colorful products called CW By Corningware, and the company was kind enough to send over some samples (and subsidize the turkey) if I put together a Friendsgiving meal and blogged about it. So here I am: an apartment full of unhealthy leftovers, writing about Friendsgiving again.

To change things up, I decided to throw a twist into the typical Friendsgiving affairs. This would be no ordinary meal. This would be a global affair. Yes, every dish would be an international take on a classic American Thanksgiving staple. OooOOOooh. So very Top Chef of us.

I’m happy to report that my friends all lived up to the challenge, and the resultant meal was beyond delicious. Pics of the dishes as well as a bonus recipe (!!) after the jump!

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Of Cakes, Carrot and Red Velvet Edition


For some reason, I found myself baking a lot of birthday cakes this summer. Specifically, I made two carrot cakes and two red velvet cakes. Based on this staggeringly high output, I now consider myself an expert on the subject, which means nothing really, but any chance I get to call myself an expert on something is celebration enough (for me). This all is my way of saying that in my EXPERT opinion, you all should make these cakes.

First, we have a carrot cake. Technically, it’s Ina Garten’s carrot and pineapple cake. Here’s what you need to know: this will be the very best carrot cake you will ever make. I’ve made it twice now (and once another time), and it has been stupendous. Seasoned carrot cake fans such as my dear friend Sly will attest that it is the best carrot they’ve ever eaten. This is no joke, people While Ina Garten may be known for her Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe, it’s this wonderful carrot masterpiece that should be the crown jewel in her dessert empire (I’ve made both, and I say it with authority — although, the chocolate cake is delicious too).

And then we have the red velvet cake. This beloved cake is a bit of a tricky beast to master — I think we’ve all taken bites of our fare share of dry, crumbly versions. But I’m happy to report that the recipe I’ve found online delivers a moist, flavorful cake that will please even the snobbiest of red velvet fans.

Pics of the cakes after the jump…

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Roast Chicken Picadillo Edition


Just under a year ago, I found myself at the renowned Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, Oregan browsing the hundreds of cookbooks on display. The process took hours, and just when I thought I was ready to check out, I suddenly had this bizarre desire to procure a Native American / New Mexican / Southwestern cookbook. I don’t know where the impulse came from — I think I’d had a vision of corn and green peppers. Either way, I found a nifty book for $5 called Mark Miller’s Indian Market Cookbook which promised “Recipes from Santa Fe’s Coyote Cafe.” Sounded good to me. Ten minutes later, I was lugging the tome back to my hotel.

It was then that I realized practically all the recipes in this book were super involved. This was a restaurant cookbook, and it called for highly specialized ingredients. Groan. Still, I was determined to make at least one recipe from this book, and now twelve months later, I have finally fulfilled that promise. Last week, I made Roast Chicken Picadillo with Quinoa Grain Salad, Olives, and Caperberries. Was it worth the wait? Answer after the jump…

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As I mentioned earlier today, one of my favorite tacos in Los Angeles is the carne deshebrada from Lotería Grill. I have consumed many of these garlicky, beefy concoctions (often in burrito form too) for years now, and all the while, I have wondered how I could recreate the magic in my lil’ home kitchen. To be fair, I did once try my hand at the elusive deshebrada, but it was a middling failure (see pictures of the whole affair from my younger, slimmer days here). Of course, that was 2010, and all I had to guide my naive self was a random Internet recipe from Epicurious. Nowadays, I’m older, wiser, and more importantly, equipped with a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated (thanks, Mom!). Naturally, when I saw that this detail-oriented cooking mag had its very own carne deshebrada recipe, I knew I had to give it a whirl.

Would I strike out a second time? Or would I finally find success? Pictures after the jump…

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Exciting news: not only is today the birthday of Kathy Ireland, but it’s also the launch date of a new feature on this blog: Wednesday Night Supper Club. One part Adventures in Domesticity and one part Things I Ate, the Wednesday Night Supper Club will detail the latest meals of my Wednesday night dining crew, also known as — you guessed it — the Wednesday Night Supper Club.

A little bit of backstory: Continue reading

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I’ve become a bit of a cookbook hoarder over the past few months, which is not always a great thing as I feel perpetually guilty for not actually cooking from a majority of my new purchases. Making matters worse is that I now have a subscription to Food & Wine magazine, which adds another heap of recipes to my wish list every month. Clearly this is a dire situation. Perhaps the most dire situation known to man.

Anyway, not too long ago I decided to actually put my Food & Wine to the test and try out two recipes: Chicken Salad with Tahini-Yogurt Dressing and White Anchovy and Grilled Radicchio Bread Salad. Pictures after the jump:

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: Grilled Chicken Salad Edition


Most of my Adventures in Domesticity this year have been focused on Rick Bayless’s recipes from Mexican Everyday, which has surprisingly become my go-to cookbook for weeknight dinners. This is particularly surprising, given that as a child the only thing I would eat at Mexican restaurants was cheese-and-bean dip (hold the beans). Two thumbs up for personal growth.

Nevertheless, I keep returning to Mexican Everyday because not only are the recipes easy, but relatively healthy too. And did I mention tasty? (Actually, I didn’t — as evidenced by my choice in adjectives in the previous sentence) Anyway, I’ve delved into several of the book’s recipes by now, even ones that appear to be mundane, like Bayless’s grilled chicken salad. His version involves guacamole, which already puts it way ahead of most other salads out there in the world.

Pics after the jump…

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ADVENTURES IN DOMESTICITY: When Bad Things Happen To Good Peppers


Not all my Adventures in Domesticity are winners. Take, for example, this very simple stuffed pepper recipe from Martha Stewart’s website. It calls for bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, basil, ground pepper, and olive oil. Can’t go wrong with that, right?

A few pics after the jump… Continue reading

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