Tag Archives: baking

30 before 30: Baking a Babka

15 Nov

Wow, I’ve only got a couple days til I run out of time on my 30 before 30 list! Sure, I didn’t hit some things, but I’ll get to them eventually.

Last weekend I had a super-fun time crossing off Item 26: Learn to Bake a Babka

My friend, Amy, of Straight from the Oven Bakery was my teacher for this adventure. I have to admit that for years I thought babka looked gross, and then I tried one she made, and thought “WHAT HAVE I BEEN MISSING FOR ALL THESE YEARS?”

Babka is a beloved Jewish dessert, that is a chocolate and cinnamon stuffed bread. It has a shortbread-like quality because it is stuffed with butter. My initial goal was to bake a babka (as in one), but a single recipe actually makes either 3 big loaves or 9 mini loaves. I ultimately went for 1 big loaf and six mini loaves. They freeze very well, but shamefully I only froze 2 of them. And we’re almost done with all the rest of them. Whoops.






I’m glad I had such a great instructor for this activity.  The recipe for babka has about 9 steps, which is about 4 steps more than I’ll usually tolerate.  I have a very low threshold for baking effort.  Although baking took a few hours, the steps were not complicated, and the payoff was delectable.  It’s fair to say I’ll try this again.  Even though you have to invest a fair amount of effort, you get a ton of babka out of it, so this is perfect to bake if you are looking to make homemade gifts.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to help myself to another buttery slice of babka!

Something we can all vote for: COOKIES

7 Nov

I stayed home with a sick Baby Beez yesterday.  In between soothing her, doing work, and (gasp) catching a catnap, I did not watch much election coverage.  I was, however, keeping up on Twitter, which left me as a stressed out mess.  By late afternoon, I was in full-on stress eating mode.  All the leftover Halloween candy was either gummy candy or hard candy, which would not suffice. 

I found this super-duper easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe on the Food Network.  For ONCE, I actually had all the ingredients in my house! In addition to milk chocolate chips, I also had white chocolate chips, so in they went. 

Baking feels like such a luxury.  It really doesn’t take much time, but you do have to make sure you have the ingredients on hand, and also make sure that the 2 year old is occupied enough with something else that you can have full use of your hands for about an hour.  (Play-Doh for the kiddo does the trick nicely).  I doubt I’m going to do any serious holiday baking this year, but it was nice to have a batch of sweets in the house, that don’t have that plasticky preservative taste.

Baby Beez was not very interested in them, because she was generally unwell and not interested in anything.  That means more for me.

New Year’s fun!

30 Dec

It’s almost New Year’s Eve! Time for celebration!

Over the last several years, Mr. Beez and I have had a tradition of going out to fancy dinner with our friends Sandy and Ben.  We’ve been to several different restaurants, but last year we had so much fun at Ibiza that we’ve decided to go there again!  We have an old-people early dinner reservation, but that works best for all involved, since we have young children (they at home with babysitters–this is a grown up dinner, yum Sangria!)  In years past, Mr. Beez and I have followed up the dinner by going to a NYE party or other such fun.  This year we’re going to be extra glamorous and return home, put on sweatpants, drink champagne, and probably watch a movie. 

For as long as I can remember, my family’s New Year’s Day tradition has been to eat cinnamon rolls (usually Cinnabon), drink hot chocolate, and watch the Rose Parade on TV. 

One year we actually trekked it down to watch the Rose Parade in person, and decided that it’s not worth the hassle. It’s better on TV, plus you don’t have to get up at 4am to take a bus to Pasadena with 60 retirees.

Each year we carry on the tradition.  Since Cinnabon doesn’t exist anywhere in Pittsburgh (why?), I often pick up cinnamon rolls from Dozen.  They are truly the best in the city, although I do have a certain fondness for My Goodies Vegan Bakery’s Cinnamon Buns .  I am also known to bake a mean cinnamon roll, but I admit it’s not a recipe of my own design.  For my “secret” recipe, check out “Father’s Cinnamon Rolls” on About.com’s article “In Search for the Ultimate Cinnamon Roll Recipe”

I would someday like to attend the First Night Pittsburgh NYE celebration.  For this former-California-Girl, the prospect of voluntarily being outside at night in the winter is not an appealing one for me.  Maybe some year when the weather forecast says “warm and dry” I will check it out.

What are your New Year’s plans?


14 Oct

I lost 4 pounds in my work’s “Largest Loser” competition.  Then I gained 1.2 pounds back.

It’s hard to lose weight when you eat cookies for breakfast every morning for a week. Whoops.

So this is how it all went down– last Sunday, Mr. Beez and I were watching TV on the couch, and I decided that it was TIME TO BAKE COOKIES.  I like to bake, but when I have some free time, I usually don’t have the energy to also bake. This time, all the stars aligned, and it was baking time.

I made delicious, delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  If you scoop the dough by heaping spoonfuls like you’re supposed to, this recipe makes about 6 dozen cookies….but 6 dozen doesn’t even last that long with two gluttonous adults chowing down like there’s no tomorrow.

From FoodNetwork.com, here is the recipe for these divine Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies:


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet
  • Nonstick cooking spray or parchment paper


Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper.

Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes 13 minutes for me resulted in perfectly baked cookies–fluffy and chewy, or until the cookies are browned around the edges. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.