Archive for the 'Events' Category


valentine’s “breakfast”

I surprised my husband with a valentine’s “breakfast” at the end of last week in place of the dinner of left-overs that I had promised him. (I tried to post this before Saturday morning but wordpress wasn’t letting me upload my photos…).
We had scrambled eggs, maple bacon, and heart shaped biscuits with jam. It was a big hit, and it’s always nice when B can finish her dinner in the same time it takes us (there was a night last week where it took her more than two hours to finish her dinner)! I even went so far as to light a few candles and set the table nicely with B’s “Love You Papa” valentine from last year.



As I mentioned earlier, I was only responsible for the desserts this year. We had a lovely dinner at my parents’ house, and then we all headed out to Andrew’s aunt and uncle’s for dessert and to watch the Gonzaga basketball game (ever since my brother started there last year, my family has been avid fans and they know all the players by name). It was a delicious dinner and everyone ate their fill of turkey (artfully carved by my husband), stuffing, cranberry jello salad, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting.
For dessert we had chocolate pumpkin pie…
and chocolate pecan pie (my personal favorite)…
and deep dish apple pie with a sharp cheddar crust (I was thinking of Pushing Daisies as I made this)…
and of course the baklava, which was everyone else’s favorite. A fantastic time, and I highly recommend the division of dinner and dessert between two different homes. It gives the stomach time to settle so that you have much more room for desserts. 😉


pure chocolate disguised as a cake

For his birthday (which was Saturday, Happy Birthday Babe!), my husband requested a fudgy chocolate cake with confetti icing. I told him that that would not taste good, so we decided to do two separate cakes – one very easy Duncan Hines yellow cake with confetti/cream cheese frosting (we mixed two cans of frosting together to get that combo), and then I had to find a recipe for a really really chocolaty fudgy cake. I found this recipe on epicurious, and I will copy it below for you…

For cake layers
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

For ganache frosting
1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make frosting:
Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency).

Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

I used the bulk chocolate bricks from WinCo and the bulk cocoa powder and it turned out just fine! It was really quite spectacular, and the sort of cake that somehow tastes better slightly chilled. I of course forgot to take a picture, but there’s a good one on the website with the original recipe and the cake does turn out looking like that. There is so much chocolate in this, and it is so dark in color, that I am convinced that it’s just pure dark chocolate disguised as cake.


prepping for the holidays

Do you realize that Thanksgiving is only 3 weeks from today? And Christmas is only a month after that? It seems to have been a busy couple of months in the Becker household, and the holidays are really starting to sneak up on me. We’ve decided not to host any of the big feasts this year, and so in some ways that has me a little complacent (since I’m not planning for them weeks in advance, I forget that they’re coming!). I need to take advantage of this extra time though and I plan on making the celebrations for our little family more vibrant this year. I’ve started going through the archives from last November and December on my favorite blogs and picking out the crafts and traditions that I want to implement this year. One that I want to make a point of not neglecting is the advent calendar, and I’m still planning on copying this one that I found last year at
My goal is to get everything copied and cut out before Thanksgiving so that we can assemble it in the last few days of November.

I’m also already dreaming of the smell of the cedar in the Advent Wreath that will be the center of our table this Advent season. So many fun things to do! It’s time to get to work!


All Hallows Even

Find the story of the Jack O Lantern HERE.

To roast pumpkin seeds, separate the seeds from the pulp. I like to rinse mine off and pat them dry. Spread them out on a cookie sheet, salt lightly, and broil in oven until toasted. Watch them closely!! I burnt my second batch.

I also found a fantastic pie crust recipe in my Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving cookbook.

For one 9 or 10 inch pie shell you need:

  • 2  1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 7 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening (except I just used more butter because I didn’t have any shortening)
  • About 8 tbsp. ice water (I just eyeballed it)

In a food processor (I used my kitchen-aid), combine the flour and salt and pulse to blend. Add the butter and shortening and pulse 5 or 6 times, until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal with some pea-sized bits. Add the water a little at a time through the feed tube, pulsing once after each addition, adding just enough to make a moist but crumbly dough, it will not hold together on its own but only when gathered into a ball with your hands.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. For one pie shell only, gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

If the dough is very cold and hard, let it stand, still wrapped, at room temperature for 15 minutes. To make a pie shell, unwrap the disk of dough and place it on a floured surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough. With a rolling pin, gently flatten the dough into a rough round. Begin rolling out the dough, always rolling straight away from you and giving the round a quarter turn every 2 or 3 rolls. If the dough sticks to the work surface, release it with a spatula and lightly flour beneath it. Lightly flour the top of the dough if it begins sticking to your rolling pin.

When the dough round is about 1/4 inch thick and about 2 inches wider then your pie plate, roll it up around the rolling pin, then unroll it into the pie dish, centering it. Ease the dough into the dish without stretching it. Trim the edges, leaving about 1 inch overhang.

To make a single crust pie, fold the overhang underneath itself and flute it decoratively. Refrigerate the pie shell for at least 30 minutes, or wrap it carefully in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Fill and bake the chilled shell as directed in individual recipes.

I made an apple pie, which turned out a bit runny so I’m still working that out. I did double the crust recipe to make a solid top. I like a lotta crust! We did take a cue from Pushing Daisies and baked some cheese into our crust, though. We used an aged Irish Cheddar. It turned out great!! So yummy and it took the sweetness down a notch and made the pie a bit more savory.


Happy Reformation Day!

Here’s wishing everyone a fantastic Reformation Day full of great food, great fellowship, cute costumes, lots of candy, and good dark beer.


Happy Birthday, Abra!

Here’s wishing a very very Happy Birthday to Abra! We hope you have a great day relaxing with your darling family. 🙂