Tag Archives: baking

Tres Leches

For some reason, Chip really likes tres leches. It’s a little random, I know, but he’s quite the snob for this Hispanic dessert. We’ve tried it a few different restaurants, but I had yet to try it myself until this past Saturday. We were meeting some new friends from church (Grahm and Jena) for dinner and were then coming back to our house for dessert and a game of  Settlers of Catan. I had been planning on making some brownies, but Chip was dropping some heavy hints that he would love it if I tried making tres leches. Pretty sure he called it my destiny at one point. Not desperate at all, right?

So I decided to give it a shot. Naturally, I did some recipe searching on Pinterest and eventually came across this one. I liked this one best because 1-it required fewer steps than other recipes and 2-recommended keeping the dish in the refrigerator over night. If you’ve had tres leches, you know it’s best served chilled, so I figured this recipe must have been posted by an expert since they recommended having it chill over night. Might not seem super logical, but it made sense in my head. Anyway, it was a lot easier to make than I had expected and whoa, was it sweet.

Here’s the link to the original recipe, but below are a couple of tweaks I made. Warning: this dessert is as unhealthy as you can get. That’s why we serve it with strawberries so we feel better about ourselves. Does that count as a balanced diet? ;)

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 3 teaspoons lime juice
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup milk

Tres leches for soaking/drizzling:

  • 14 oz. condensed milk
  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 2 small cartons whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Separate egg yolks from egg whites and keep both in separate bowls. Be careful not to break the yolks during the separation process. With a standing or hand mixer, beat the egg whites with salt until it starts to firm (use medium speed for a few minutes).
  • Slowly add the sugar, beating well after each small addition. Add the egg yolks one by one, beating the mixture after each addition. Add the lime zest, lime juice and baking powder.  Beat well. Lower the speed on your mixer and add the flour and milk, alternating between the two.  Start and end with the flour.
  • Butter a large baking dish (no smaller than 9” x 12”, but preferably a tad bigger) and pour the batter into the pyrex. Bake for 35 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake) and remove from the oven. Let the cake cool slightly.  While it’s still warm, cut the cake into even squares (as small or as little as you want). Keep in mind this is an incredibly sweet dessert, so large squares may be a bit too much to handle for the ordinary palate.

  • Beat the three milks (whipping cream, condensed milk and evaporated milk) with vanilla extract. Slowly pour half over the cake and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight. Serve each square on a plate and drizzle spoonfuls of the three milks over the top. Serve with strawberries for garnish.

Blueberry Oatmeal Bake

I’m a pretty big fan of breakfast. Many morning staples are some of my favorite foods… eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, oatmeal, you get the picture. Unfortunately, having a full course breakfast isn’t plausible on a week day (at least not for the two of us!). I’m still able to have at least an egg and toast most mornings, but there are definitely days where I quickly eat some Kashi cereal while simultaneously packing my lunch before heading out the door to work. So when I saw a recipe on Pinterest for a blueberry oatmeal bake that made six servings, I thought this would be a great quick and easy breakfast option to have on hand, especially for Chip, since he’s usually out of the house pretty early to go get some studying in before work.

I’m not sure what I like more about this recipe: how good it tastes or how easy it is to make. Try it out!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (I used sugar free)
  • 1 cup milk (I used low-fat)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2-3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup blueberries or raspberries, fresh or frozen, divided

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix the oats, half of the walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the syrup, milk, egg, butter, and vanilla.
  • Spread the sliced bananas in a single layer over the bottom of the baking dish. Top with half of the berries. Sprinkle the dry oat mixture over the fruit in an even layer. Pour the liquid ingredients evenly over the oats.
  • Sprinkle the remaining nuts and berries over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned and the oats have set. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.
  • Reheat your serving in the microwave in the morning and enjoy!
Blueberry Oatmeal Bake

Blueberry Oatmeal Bake

Christmas in Arizona, Part 2

One thing I love about Christmas Eve with my family is that the structure of the day really hasn’t changed much over the years. I love that we have so many little traditions that we’ve been able to keep. The day got started with another big breakfast at home (we’re big breakfast people) and then the guys went off for their second round of golf of the week. My brother first started playing golf while in high school, so ever since then it’s become a tradition that the guys go off and play a round in the morning and come home later in the afternoon; I’m not sure how they got away with originally suggesting this as a tradition but it has the benefit of keeping them out of our way in the kitchen!

Thanks to Southern Living's cookbook for our dessert recipes!

Thanks to Southern Living’s cookbook for our dessert recipes!

I had brought two dessert recipes with me that I wanted us to try out for Christmas Eve – a chocolate chunk cheesecake and a banana foster cake. One of my biggest problems in the kitchen is that I don’t read a recipe from start to finish; I usually just read about halfway or three-quarters of the way through and assume I can do the rest… so while we were finishing breakfast I finished reading the cheesecake recipe and saw that one of the last steps was to let the cheesecake sit for eight hours… which meant we had to start baking now. Oops. Luckily the first half of the recipe was relatively easy, so we had the cheesecake in the oven pretty quickly. While it baked, my mom and I went and took the dogs for a good, long walk so they would have a little less energy while we would be busy in the kitchen. We got back just in time to take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it chill for the necessary amount of time.

Cheesecake fresh out of the oven

Cheesecake fresh out of the oven

Next up was the banana foster cake. The recipe for this one was relatively simple and we had the three layers ready to go in no time. What turned out to be a roadblock for us was the icing… After using up all of the icing we made, we weren’t satisfied with how the three layers were hidden, so we decided to make another half of a batch. That extra bit of icing made a big difference, but I’m pretty sure my mom and I could both use a lesson in cake decorating! We chose to garnish the cake with a bit of powdered cinnamon and cinnamon sticks. We then put it up on display high out of reach from Wrigley to make sure it wouldn’t be ruined or eaten before the meal.

Glaze on the three layers

Glaze on the three layers

Icing and sliced bananas between the layers

Icing and sliced bananas between the layers

In need of more icing

In need of more icing

The finished cake

The finished cake

The desserts took up a bit more time than we had anticipated and we were surprised it was already 2:00 in the afternoon and we still had to shower and get ready as well as cook our actual dinner meal. Luckily all of the items my mom had planned for dinner were pretty quick, so we got everything ready in pans on the stove top and as soon as the guys got home from golfing, we got everything cooked within an hour.

Thankful for a fun day in the kitchen with my mom

Thankful for a fun day in the kitchen with my mom

Chip, Alex and my dad out on the golf course

Chip, Alex and my dad out on the golf course

Dinner was delicious. Along with our ham, we had some homemade mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, a side of green beans, a side of carrots and a salad. I’m so glad several of these recipes were from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook so I can make them now, too!

Christmas Eve table

Christmas Eve table

Chip's contribution to the meal: taking the ham out of the oven

Chip’s contribution to the meal: taking the ham out of the oven

Dad's contribution to the meal: carrying the ham to the dining room

Dad’s contribution to the meal: carrying the ham to the dining room

 

Glazed carrots, homemade gravy and homemade mashed potatoes

Glazed carrots, homemade gravy and homemade mashed potatoes

Green beans and cranberries

Green beans and cranberries

With the meal we prepared

With the meal we prepared

My grandparents joined us for dessert later in the evening, which was so good. I’m definitely going to have to find an excuse to make these again. Big thanks to Chip for being the brave one to cut the desserts, he did a great job!

Dessert time

Dessert time

Perfect slice

Perfect slice

Doubling up on dessert

Doubling up on dessert

Two thumbs up

Two thumbs up

We spent some time all hanging out before going to midnight mass over at St. Pius. My family has been going to midnight mass for as long as I can remember. While I struggled to get through it when I was a kid and jealous that it was okay for Alex to sleep his way through mass but, as the older sibling, I had to stay awake, it’s now a tradition I love and enjoy. It just feels special getting there an hour early (need to make sure we get a good seat and don’t end up outside!) and sing Christmas carols as a congregation and then welcome in Christmas Day with the priest’s homily reminding us of the significance of Christ’s birth. The service was over around 1:00, so I was more than ready for bed by the time we got home!

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

I may be 25 years old, but I still get really excited about Christmas morning. I saw something on Pinterest this week that I think sums up Christmas morning well: “One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day.” We definitely made a mess opening our gifts, especially with Wrigley around who loves to tear up paper.

Wrigley looking for his gifts

Wrigley looking for his gifts

Penny on Christmas morning

Penny on Christmas morning

My parents with the gift I made for them

My parents with the gift I made for them

I saw this jCrew vest on Pinterest months ago and it was sold out everywhere in San Antonio... thanks, Chip, for tracking it down in Indiana and getting it for me!

I saw this jCrew vest on Pinterest months ago and it was sold out everywhere in San Antonio… thanks, Chip, for tracking it down in Indiana and getting it for me!

Toasty toes in my new slippers

Toasty toes in my new slippers

My dad gets a shout out for some fun gifts he got us this year… first, one very important thing to know about my mom is that she is a mamma bear to her core; don’t ever threaten her cubbies. Now, when I was in high school, I had my heart set on going to Notre Dame. I did a summer program there, loved the campus, applied early action, etc. So when I was first wait listed and then later rejected, my devastation was nothing compared to my mother’s grudge. We joke about it now (I’m pretty happy with how my life has turned out since going to Trinity!), but my mom still will not mention Notre Dame by name and will simply refer to them as “the other school.” Since Notre Dame will be playing Alabama in the BCS game in January, my dad got us all Roll Tide shirts which we all sported for the rest of the day. Nicely done, dad. You know your wife so well! ;)

Mom with her Roll Tide shirt

Mom with her Roll Tide shirt

Chip and Alex ready to support Alabama

Chip and Alex ready to support Alabama

Thanks, dad!

Thanks, dad!

Dad also got us some official Duck Dynasty duck calls... yes, we harassed Wrigley with them.

Dad also got us some official Duck Dynasty duck calls… yes, we harassed Wrigley with them.

My dad is usually the one in charge of our big breakfast on Christmas morning, but Chip and I offered to help out this year. Chip took care of the bacon, sausage and eggs while I made some homemade blueberry pancakes. In case you haven’t noticed, food was definitely a big component of this trip home! After breakfast, we were able to skype with my cousin Denisse and her family in New York. It was so fun to see them and how excited her daughter Isabella was about Christmas!

We spent a good part of the afternoon in the backyard playing some badminton. We had played earlier in the weekend and after my parents beat the team of Chip, Alex and myself, we decided a rematch was in order (we’re just a smidge competitive). Sadly, the parents won again; I’m convinced it’s harder to play when you have three people on a team instead of two! The guys stayed outside and played some more while my mom and I went back into the kitchen to reheat some of Christmas Eve’s leftovers and add in some new dishes. As if we hadn’t had enough dessert yet, I also had a coffee cake from Pippa Middleton’s Celebrate book that I was determined to try out. While it didn’t turn out as pretty as the picture, it sure did taste good.

My parents on a badminton break

My parents on a badminton break

Alex and Chip playing some badminton

Alex and Chip playing some badminton

It was really intense badminton

It was really intense badminton

We spent the rest of the afternoon packing everything back up for our drive to San Antonio the next day, but we saved some time in the evening for a family game of Scrabble, which will be featured in its own separate post.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!!

Trying to get a family photo on Christmas Eve... we bribe the dogs with food.

Trying to get a family photo on Christmas Eve… we bribe the dogs with food.

The Lopez Family

The Lopez Family

Trying to get Wrigley situated

Trying to get Wrigley situated

The Nance Family, Christmas 2012

The Nance Family, Christmas 2012

The Nances

The Nances

To do list… done! (kind of…)

Apart from my anticipation for the Christmas holiday, I had been looking forward to the past week off of work for the opportunity to tackle an always growing list of projects we have for around the house. For some reason, we just haven’t made the time to get through many of the items on our list. Well, let’s be honest. It’s not always very high on our priority list by the time the weekend comes along. So while my employer Bromley was closed for the holidays, it was time to get to business. First on the list was finishing our wedding scrapbook. We already had a beautiful wedding album made from our photographer, West Vita, but it only included about 50 of our favorite pictures from the day… out of a total of approximately 400 pictures. Since we loved literally just about all of our pictures I wanted to make a simple scrapbook with the rest of our pictures. I got started on this project about two months ago, but turns out the paper I had originally started with was being discontinued. Fabulous. So it was back to square one to find new paper for the scrapbook and then start over. So while Chip was at work this past week I cranked through this and have now finished! I love this giant scrapbook and all of the wonderful pictures that captured moments from our wedding day. Here are a couple of shots of the completed project!

Opening page in the scrapbook - Save the Date and Wedding Invitation

Included our wedding program and lyrics for "In Christ Alone" in the scrapbook

Some of my favorite pictures from our wedding day

More pages in the scrapbook

Our biggest project over the Christmas break was to finally sort through our back spare room. This room is technically the enclosed garage and actually one of the bigger bedrooms in the house. Initially things were organized in there while we were receiving wedding gifts in the mail with each corner of the room assigned to another room of the house (i.e., we had the kitchen corner, bathroom corner, etc.). Well, while we were moving in, anything and everything got stored in here. We’ve been wanting to get through this room for a long time, but the task always seemed so daunting and neither of us wanted to take the initiative on starting. So, while I’m extremely ashamed to show what we were working with, here’s how the room looked at the beginning of our cleaning….

Terrible mess!

Awful, I know. But we would just keep the door to this room closed and pretend it never existed. That’s the healthy thing to do, right? Well, it took us most of the day on New Years Eve, but little by little, we were making progress on getting this stuffed cleared out.

Not too much better...

Making progress!

So much more space!

This is where we ended! We still have a little bit more sorting to do, but we now have a visible room to work with, which is something we couldn’t say three days ago. Our goal is to turn this into a guest bedroom/entertainment room, so with the near completion of cleaning out this room, we now have a list of things to keep an eye out for on Craigslist. We also learned by sorting through this endless pile of stuff the value of learning to live with less. It’s amazing to think how easy it can be to accumulate unnecessary things. We have now both committed to try and live with less and give away items we don’t really need. So ultimately, after now having this room somewhat organized, we’re excited to one day have it furnished!

The final item on our to-do list was to get frames for the canvases we had bought on our honeymoon, which was a 12 day Mediterranean Carnival cruise (the best time of our life). While we were on the cruise, Chip and I wanted to bring back souvenirs that we could put throughout our new home to remind us of this amazing trip, so we bought a few paintings off of street vendors in the various cities we were fortunate to visit. Now, we did not realize it would be a task in itself to get these framed. We quickly learned that:

  1. These paintings were all irregular sizes. Searching at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and online showed us that we would need to order custom frames (ugh).
  2. Even if you could find a frame, a canvas painting cannot be kept behind glass or it will mold. Canvas paintings also have to be stretched out so they hang straight, so we really couldn’t hang these ourselves on the cheap even if we wanted.

Unfortunately, custom framing wasn’t a part of our budget when we first got married. Now that it’s been eight months it was time to pick out some frames for these paintings. We had originally looked at frames at Michael’s, but weren’t too crazy about their pricing options. So this afternoon, we spent some time at Hobby Lobby’s framing department. Their friendly framing expert Karen really helped us out and guided us as we picked out some great frames. They’ll have everything ready for us in two weeks and then we’ll finally get to put these paintings up!

I was also hoping to do a lot of baking/cooking during my time off, but maybe it’s a good thing for our waistlines that I didn’t get to do as much of this as I had intended. The only baking I got to do for us was some delicious milk chocolate cookies, courtesy of the Martha Stewart cookie book. I may like these more than regular chocolate chip cookies… crazy talk, I know, but you should try these for yourself and see if you agree.

Homemade milk chocolate cookies

Hope 2012 is off to a great start for everyone!!

Doggie Treats

As I mentioned in my last post, my big Christmas gift this year was a KitchenAid mixer from Chip. I’ve wanted one for a while and always loved using the one my mom has back home in Arizona. So needless to say I was so excited to get my own! Chip chose one in a beautiful cinnamon red… I’m kind of obsessed with it.

The beautiful KitchenAid Mixer

I have been anxious to use it since opening it Christmas morning. I thought about baking some cookies for us, but decided instead to reward Wrigley. While he was pretty terrible the weeks before Christmas (as in trying extra hard to get into things he shouldn’t be as well as stealing food…), he’s been so sweet and gentle the last week or so which makes me forget all of his terrible ways. We had also received some doggie biscuit cookie cutters from Chip’s mom for Christmas, so I thought it would be great to make some treats for Wrigley. We love giving him his beloved Beggin’ strips, but I had been wanting him to snack on something a little healthier so thought homemade treats would be a fun alternative to try. So this past Tuesday, I made him some peanut butter doggie treats. Wrigley loooves peanut butter, so I found a quick recipe online that I thought he would enjoy. The only change I made to this recipe is that I didn’t cook it as long; the first batch I made, I did the full 40 minute baking time and they came out a bit burnt and too dark and crispy. So the rest of them I baked at about 24 minutes and they turned out a lot better.

Doggie Biscuit Cutters

Wrigley patiently waiting for his treats

The KitchenAid mixer got this recipe done so quickly. It works like a charm! I thought about baking a couple of batches of these biscuits for Wrigley just so I could use my mixer more, but decided one batch was enough for him and am now deciding what to bake for Chip and myself so I can whip out my mixer again :)

Dog bones, squirrels and fire hydrants

Wrigley loves his treats!