I Finally Found It!

Well, for now, that is.

I’ve been searching high and low for a go-to cornbread recipe.

Yeah, I know what you are thinking, all she ever talks about is cornbread!

Get used to it.

I’ll admit it. I’ve baked some nasty corn bread in my day. Ask my roomies, and they’ll probably tell you the time I forgot the eggs, and we ate bricks of corn with our beans.

Yum.

The key is the recipe, but I’m pretty picky with my cornbread.

I’m no southern bell when it comes to the flavor, texture, and sweetness of my cornbread.

I like things sweet! Real sweet. Preferably, in the form of maple syrup, honey, granulated sugar, brown sugar, or turbinado sugar (raw sugar).

Don’t you dare pull a fast one on me, and throw jalapeno or chunks of cheddar cheese in my bread.

Wait…actually, that sounds spectacular, so maybe we’ll give that a shot sometime.

For now, just a simple piece of sweet golden crumbly goodness to go along with my bowl of chili, please.

Maple Cornbread

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

2/3 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1-2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray or lightly grease a your handy cast iron skillet, or 9 inch round cake pan. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Don’t have to mix too much, here!
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Optional: While bread is still warm, poke even distributed holes throughout, and pour maple syrup on top.

Dark Chocolate Macaroons

I have a problem…

It all started when I entered the Stinson Beach General Store, and I spotted a macaroon the size of my face.

For the past two weeks, since I left California, I’ve been dreaming about biting into the chocolate of a coconut dipped macaroon.

And as I always say, follow your dreams…

Now, I did have some awesome pictures of golden coconut, and fluffy egg white clouds for your entertainment…

…until that is, my camera flew off my bed, and some how they were all deleted.

Luckily, I had some extra macaroons hiding in a cabinet where no one could devour them in case such an incident occurred.

Growing up in a household where everything in the fridge had a disclaimer: “Eat this and I’ll eat you!, I learned at a very young age how to hide food.

Hey, it’s survival.

My skills paid off, and I saved just enough to dip another batch of macaroons into a heavenly bath of dark chocolate.

If you’re looking for a chewy cookie to satisfy your coconut craving, these are the perfect fit. Also, to all those coconut haters out there, give this cookie a go. She won’t over power you with her coconut flavor, and her dark chocolate will certainly make you come back for more.

They are super simple, require only 5 ingredients you probably already have, and bake in no time at all. Plus, you’ll impress your friends with ’em.

I mean just look at these sassy cookies.

Photo courtesy of Hayden Radke

Baking makes friends.

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

4 large egg whites

pinch of salt

1/2 cup sugar

12 ounces sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

1 cup  of your choice of chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate and dark chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place coconut on a baking sheet, spread out evenly and place in the oven.  Return to the oven every five minutes to stir the browning coconut.  Once evenly browned, after about 15 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

In a mixer fitted with a whip attachment. whip egg whites and salt until they become white and begin to stiffen. Add sugar in 3 parts. Continue to whip until the egg whites are very stiff. Fold in toasted coconut.

On parchment lined cookie sheets, drop a teaspoon of the mixture leaving 1 to 2 inches around each cookie. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The outside should be golden brown but the insides should still be moist.

Place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl. (or microwave, but be careful not to burn it! Burnt chocolate taste, well burnt)  Place bowl over a pan of simmering water so that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the simmering water.  Allow to melt.  Stir until loose and creamy.  Partially dip the macaroons in the chocolate then allow to cool and harden on a parchment lined sheet.

To speed up the hardening of the chocolate, I placed mine in the freezer, or you can put it in the fridge. Just don’t forget about them! You wouldn’t do that though…

Home Shweet Home

So, after 18 days and 25 states later, I am finally back in New England. It was an unforgettable journey, but 18 days without cooking is far too long for me! Over the course of the trip, I accumulated a massive amount of pictures and videos, so I decided to whip together a movie.

I’m not sure when I will finish, but in the mean time, here’s a sneak peek….

East Bound

After driving a measly 4 hours today, we were forced to shack up again (I’ll get to that later) for the night due to the icy conditions of the roads.

It’s madness out there.

Last night, traffic came to a halt, and no drivers were allowed through the Rockies without snow chains, or 4-wheel drive. After seeing several cars collide and tractor trailers slide off the road, we decided to spend the night in Salt Lake City and wait for the storm to pass.

We headed out this morning, hoping to reach Nebraska, but mother nature had something else in mind. This time, I-80 has been completely closed off on account of high wind gusts, black ice, and snow fall.

So, we’re  currently cozied up in Rock Springs, Wyoming enjoying the snow.

It’s about -25 degrees outside, but we’re still cooking!

Ah, nothing better on a chilly night than a classic.

Best decision of the trip: bringing the French press

Life is good.

Rosemary

Phew, I need to catch my breath for a minute! Sorry about the lack of posting. I was nestled between a beach and some mountains for several days with little outside contact to the world.

Life is tough, I know.

After several days of relaxation, and some serious munching at Stinson Beach (thanks Celeste and John!), we headed to San Francisco to finally explore some culinary schools. San Francisco is a city like no other, that’s for sure. The city may only be 7 miles, but it is a foodie’s oasis!

After a long day in the city, we headed to Napa Valley to check out the Culinary Institute of America.

I was blown away by the beauty of this building. We arrived just before sundown,  so I couldn’t get any great shots, but just imagine a mini Hogwarts.

Perfect. It was everything you would hope for in a culinary school.

As we stepped outside of the car, the scent of orange trees infused the crisp air. Upon walking further up the path to Hogwarts (as I shall call it from now on), I screamed at the discovery of rosemary bushes!

Oh, did I mention that they just casually use rosemary as landscape  decor at grocery stores in California? Yeah, I made quite the scene in LA. There were olive trees hanging over the stonewalls, and miles of vineyards as far as the eye could see. A culi’s dream!

Unfortunately, since it was around the Holidays, admissions was not open, but the school and restaurant were open for visitors. It was an eventful day, and a giant step in the right direction.

Never underestimate the power of passion.

California

Merry Christmas Eve!

It’s  day 7 of my journey across the country to the West Coast in search of my dream to attend culinary school.

I’ve driven 3,300 miles, conquered 15 states, and cased endless amounts of Juicy-Juice boxes.

Sure, you take one sip and your done, but these little guys got me through some rough times.

First time touching the Pacific Coast right there!

Seconds later, these Pacific waves knocked me over, leaving me drenched in salty water for the day.

And I loved everything single second of it.

Why?

‘Cause I’m in California, baby!

Wednesday night around 6:00 pm (Pacific time) we crossed the border of Arizona into California after traveling through some crazy sporadic weather.

Travel Tip: If you ever decide to travel Interstate 40 through the Mojave Desert, avoid the town of Ludlow, unless you’re into Texas Chain Saw Massacre shenanigans.

We’ve been in Marina Del Rey just outside of Los Angeles for two days now, and I’m in love.

California truly is a magical place.

I’m never coming back!

Next on the agenda: Driving up Route 1 to Stinson Beach to spend Christmas/my birthday at Chance’s Aunt’s home, and finally checking out culinary schools!