Cakes Archives | Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Streusel Overkill is Good – Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Streusel Crumb Cake with or without Raspberries

February 4, 2013 at 11:59 am | Posted in Breakfast, Cakes, Dessert, Fruit, Giveaway, SRC | 78 Comments
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I love warm rainy days in the spring and summer.  I love the scent of lilacs.  I love the smell of Fall.  I love when someone brushes my hair.  Are you gagging yet?  Well you won’t be when I tell you what I love next.

Raspberry Brown Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Streusel Cake

I love streusel..lots and lots of streusel.  Who doesn’t?  I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t love streusel.  However, I know plenty of people who hate the scent of lilacs, abhor rainy days, despise Fall because it’s the official end of summer, and can’t stand someone else brushing, much less touching, their hair.

Continue Reading Streusel Overkill is Good – Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Streusel Crumb Cake with or without Raspberries…

Chocolate Chunk Strawberry Malted Yogurt Loaf for Twelve Loaves

August 1, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Posted in Breads, Cakes, Dessert, Fruit, Twelve Loaves | 66 Comments
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Remember when I announced that there was a new bread baking challenge in town called The Bread Baking Society and I participated in the focaccia theme last May?  Well that new bread baking challenge is now a NEWER bread baking challenge.  My friend Lora, of Cake Duchess, the brainchild behind The Bread Baking Society, has decided to give The Bread Baking Society a small makeover and has invited me, her Mom, Elizabeth of food and thrift,  Barbara of Creative Culinary, and Jamie of Life’s a Feast along for the ride.  Say hello to Twelve Loaves, and below is what it’s all about and the rules – beautifully written by Jamie and beautifully copied and pasted by me!

Chocolate Chunk Strawberry Malted Yogurt Loaf
Twelve Loaves
was created to inspire you to bake more from scratch at home, in your kitchen. Bake along with us every month and discover and rediscover the joys of home baking for your family and friends. We know it’s not an easy task and we are here to inspire you along the way. A Baking Revolution!

What unites Twelve Loaves and all of you? We love baking from scratch because people love eating real bread, real cakes, delectable treats right out of the oven. Together we will discover new recipes and learn and master new techniques, discover flavors, textures, new ways to experience bread at the table with family and friends. 12 months, 12 baked goods, 12 challenges… so get baking!

Our very first Twelve Loaves theme for the month of August is Bread with Summer Fruit.  Bake a bread, yeast or quick bread,  loaf or individual, filled, stuffed, studded or topped with your favorite fresh summer fruit or berries.

Chocolate Chunk Strawberry Malted Loaf

Just follow the rules, it’s as easy as pie:

1. When you post your Twelve Loaves bread on your blog, make sure that you mention the Twelve Loaves challenge in your post and mention and link back to Lora, Lisa and Jamie’s blogs. Please make sure that your Bread is inspired by the theme! This is obligatory if you would like your link to be included!

2. Please link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of Lora, Lisa or Jamie’s blog. It must be a bread baked to the Twelve Loaves theme.

3. Feel free to promote the Twelve Loaves by proudly displaying the Twelve Loaves badge in your Twelve Loaves post as well as in your sidebar! It isn’t mandatory but is a nice way to get the word out!

4. Have your Twelve Loaves bread post up any time in August..the deadline is August 31, 2012.

Chat with our hostesses : Jamie @lifesafeast Lisa (me)  @parsleynsage Lora @cakeduchess Barbara @CreativCulinary

Now, Get Baking!

With that said..I’m the hostess with the leastest.  Jamie made a gorgeous chocolate  chip cherry maple challah, Lizzy made a stunning, limoncello glazed blueberry – peach bread , Barbara made a luscious cherry bread with  a crunchy cinnamon almond topping, and Lora made a beautiful blueberry cream cheese braid.  I made a quick bread..because it was well..quick and I wanted to bake with them, not just put up an announcement.  However..this quick bread is kind of special.  The title says it all…malted, as in malted milk powder is added to the batter.  There are malted layer cakes, malted milkshakes, malted milk balls, and I even saw some malted pancakes and waffles on the internet a few months ago, so why not malted quick bread?

Chocolate Chunk Strawberry Malted LoafMy kitchen timer didn’t go off.  8 minutes over baked.

I love most anything that has malted milk powder in it.  One summer, years ago, there was a Dairy Queen about 15 minutes from where I lived at the time.  Every time I passed it..which was often, I pulled in and ordered either a strawberry or vanilla malted milkshake.   I still remember that first icy sip on those warm, summer nights, the malty flavor tickling my palate in such a good, good way .  Unfortunately, that Dairy Queen was soon knocked down, replaced by a drive-through bank and wouldn’t let me withdraw a malted milkshake.

Soon I was knocking back boxes and boxes of malted milk balls to satiate my malted addiction.

Discovering malted milk powder in the supermarket was a happy day for me, and for the rest of that summer I was making my own vanilla malted milkshakes.  They were not even close to the ones I used to get at Dairy Queen, (I can never get a milkshake or malt as thick and creamy as the ones you get at any ice cream establishment – no matter how much ice cream I add.  What’s the secret?) but the malted flavor still hit the spot.

Regardless, I think every artery in my heart is glad that DQ went away, as well as my belly and butt.

Chocolate Chunk Strawberry Malted Loaf

Having said all that, the flavor the malted milk powder in this quick bread/cake..along with chunks of fresh strawberries and Valrhona chocolate, is out of this  world and reminiscent of a malted milkshake.  The thing is…how do you describe the flavor of malted?   I’ve pondered this over and over, and I cannot find any adjectives that fits.  Anyone?  Beuller? Beuller?

I took a base recipe for quick bread/loaf cake from the Joy of Baking, made a few base changes to it..and then went to town .   I love how it turned out, an explosion of fresh strawberry and creamy, melted chocolate throughout the super moist, malted vanilla loaf.  Strawberries may not bake up very pretty, as you can see in the photos, but who cares if it tastes good?

Initially I was going to use a variety of fruits, minus chocolate, in this bread – sticking with my ‘eat the rainbow’ theme this summer, but then decided it was overkill.  Plus, I couldn’t find a green fruit I felt would work well.  Cooked kiwi?  NO.  Kiwi loses a ton of flavor when cooked, unless made into a jam with loads of sugar. Green grapes?  Nahh – better eaten out of hand.

Chocolate Chunk Strawberry Malted Loaf

That said, I do have one regret.  I wish I had topped the bread with more strawberry slices and chocolate chunks.  I sliced up one strawberry and placed it on top with a sprinkle of malted milk powder.  The batter rose over half the strawberry slices, leaving me with three slices playing peekaboo, instead of the original six, front and center.  So, if you do make this..I suggest a good amount of strawberry slices, chocolate chunks and malted milk powder on top. Not only will it look better, but it’ll add more texture, and flavor, of course.

Finally, once again, you have the whole month of August to link up your summer fruit bread..any kind of yeast required.   Just click on the linky below and follow the directions.  Don’t forget to tweet (if you use Twitter – not required) your fruity creation @TwelveLoaves with the hashtags #TwelveLoaves and #getbaking !

Chocolate Chunk Strawberry Malted Loaf
You can use any recipe you’d like..including any of ours! The sky is the long as your bread contains summer fruit.

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Chocolate Chunk Strawberry Malted Loaf
Adapted from Joy of Baking, with my revisions

1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup malted milk powder
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberry chunks ( I quarted each strawberry)
1 cup good quality semisweet,milk or bittersweet chocolate. cut into chunks (I prefer this over chocolate chips because it remains melted and gooey long after baking)
Extra flour for coating the chocolate and strawberries
extra strawberries and chocolate chunks to top the bread..which I wish I had done!

1.  Stir the malted milk powder into the sour cream or yogurt and let dissolve while you prepare everything.

2.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

3. In the bowl of your stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined before adding the next egg. Beat in vanilla extract.

4. On low speed, alternately add the flour mixture with the sour cream or yogurt malted powder mixture…ending with the flour, beating until just combined and uniform.

5.  Place the strawberry and chocolate chunks in a strainer over a bowl or garbage can, and coat them with flour, about 1/4 cup…shaking off the excess flour into the bowl or garbage can beneath it.

6.  Fold the flour coated strawberries and chocolate into the batter gently, (the batter will be a little thick).

7.  Pour and scrape the batter into a lightly greased and floured 9 x 5 – inch loaf pan.  Top with extra strawberry chunks, chocolate chunks and a big sprinkle of malted milk powder.

8.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 60 – 65 minutes, until the loaf is puffed, golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on rack fully before slicing.

9.  Keep any leftovers refrigerated, for about two days at most. although I doubt you’ll have any leftovers!

Chocolate Chunk Strawberry Malted Loaf
Bad Boy First Love Part 16 will be coming soon.  I couldn’t hit that zone..and when I don’t hit that zone..I don’t flow..and when I don’t sucks, which has happened in about half or more of the parts.

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Japanese Inspired Battenberg Cake with Cashew Marzipan and Part 14A

June 28, 2012 at 8:02 am | Posted in Asian, Cakes, Daring Bakers, Dessert | 80 Comments
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Would you like a spot of matcha tea with your black sesame – ginger scones?  By golly,  I’ve done it again!  I’ve taken something traditional, and went completely barmy on it!  OK, I wrote a whole entry in ‘Brit’ lingo back in ’09, and I’m not going to make any of you who remember, suffer through it again.

However..I’ve taken a thoroughly British cake called a Battenberg Cake, first created to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria to husband Prince Louis of Battenberg, and infused it with Asian, mainly Japanese, flavors, and decorated it in kind.  I know one thing for tasty and pretty as it is, it would probably shock the tickety-boos out of the Queen if it was served to her at any tea or special event.

Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last-minute to present us with the Battenburg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

I was supposed to co-host, or shall I say sidekick this challenge with Mandy, but like a lot of promises and deadlines the past 3 months, I had to drop out (or delay).  Not that I didn’t try, but, unfortunately, the humidity ghoul came stomping down on my jubilee – again.  I ordered a Battenberg pan because I wanted to take the easy way out, (which I will get to in a moment), and just my luck, two tries stuck to the pan because of the stickiness in the air.

I won’t bore you with the trials and tribulations of my homemade cashew marzipan,but I will say the humidity made it nearly impossible to roll out and wrap the cake we ate it in chunks and I regretfully had to inform Mandy I wouldn’t be able to pull this one out in time.  It certainly doesn’t help matters when your brain has been scattered too.

Scattered brain doesn’t make for focused baking, decorating, or anything for that matter.

However, there is a light at the end of this tunnel.  As a participant instead of co-host, I had some time to take advantage of a few clear weekend days and weeknights to play with the Battenberg, and my cashew marzipan rolled out quite nicely.

As for the aforementioned Battenberg pan – when you see the challenge recipe if you click the link below, you’ll notice that you don’t need a Battenberg pan to make this cake.  A 7 to 8-inch square pan that you divide in half with parchment paper or foil works perfectly.  Once the cake is baked, you slice each half in half, trimming off the uneven crusty bits, to get perfect squares.  Simple, right?  Why spend the money on a Battenberg pan?

Well, I’m a horrible cutter/trimmer.  I always cut things crookedly.  This is why I bought the pan – to make my presently off-kilter life on-kilter.  The less I have to think about something, the better.

So, now that I didn’t have to worry about anything other than slicing the top of the cakes off the pan with one quick and simple cut, it made it easier to play and play I did.  When I was going to co-host, Mandy asked if I might want to make a matcha – black sesame version, or something off the beaten path.

Since I did something very similar with the Daring Bakers Dobos Torte (egads, horrific photos - look away!), again, back in ’09, it was an affirmative.  I added 1 tablespoon of matcha powder and 2 teaspoons milk to half the batter, and 1 cup of black sesame seeds to the other half.  It doesn’t get any easier than that.

My original plan was to bind the cakes together with a sweet adzuki bean paste or an adzuki bean paste buttercream, like I did with the Daring Bakers Dobos Torte (Oh, those photos kill me!).  I changed my mind after deciding this baby needed some chocolate.  I steeped some fresh ginger in hot cream, then poured it over chopped, dark chocolate, letting it set to a medium ganache, and used that instead.  Definitely a good decision.

For the wrap, I colored homemade cashew marzipan red, then added dark modeling chocolate (aka chocolate plastique – included in the challenge recipes) tree branches, and tiny white fondant Japanese cherry blossoms called sakura – well, my version of them.  I decided to do the blossoms and branches at the last minute, and each blossom took for-ev-er by hand, with no tools.  I got so fed up after three, that I started pinching them into stars- so that was the most tedious part, but again, it was my decision, not something Mandy requested.

With that said, I’m not a fan of fondant, but there’s not a ton of tiny blossoms (or stars) so you can either eat them or flick them into the trash if you don’t care for fondant either.

Thanks for an awesome challenge, Mandy, my dear friend!  To get all the recipes for the Battenberg cake, and see a gorgeous array of step-by-step photos, not to mention two awesome Battenburg cakes Mandy made, click HERE.  To see the beautiful Battenburg cakes my fellow Daring Bakers created, click on the links to their blogs, HERE.

Now to Part 14A (YES..14A) of Bad Boy First Love. If you’re just tuning in, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE, Part Ten is HERE, Part 11 is HERE, Part 12 is HERE, Part 13A is HERE, and Part 13B is HERE.

Right before I was going to ask him how he got my number, I remembered, but he said it first..

“I got your number from Tracy.”

Tracy was one of their girl friends who would come down on weekends.  I liked all of their hometown girlfriends and girl friends that visited, but Tracy was my favorite. Instead of packing a suitcase or duffle bag, she would max out her credit card at Bloomies or Saks, then drive down loaded with shopping bags of great clothes, like a rich shopping bag lady.

She’d pull up in her car, music blasting, bright blue eyes shining, blonde hair perfectly tousled, like she barely put any thought or effort into it – her cute, little turned up nose wrinkling as she struggled to grab all the bags at once before getting out of the car.  Of course I’d run to help her..I was always happy to see her.

I could tell my silence made him uncomfortable.  He cleared his throat and continued.

“We knew you’d probably be home packing since you’re leaving for Boston tomorrow, and Scott is having a party, so they thought it would be great idea to invite you – they want to see you, especially Tracy.” He said, confident th name ‘Tracy’ would clear him for landing.

I was being a little cold.  I felt bad because he was truly a nice guy, albeit a little used to getting what he wanted when it came to those of the female persuasion.

“So why didn’t Tracy call me?” I asked skeptically

He laughed awkwardly.  I certainly wasn’t making this easy for him.

“Well, I kind of volunteered – I’d like to see you too.” He said, sweetly.

“Gary, that’s really sweet, but you know I’m in love with Dreamboat.” I said, feeling my heart break a little at the sound of his name.  I already missed him so much, it hurt.

His voice rose..

“I know that, but I had a blast with you down the shore.  We can’t be friends?” He asked woefully.

I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting alone for six hours missing Dreamboat, waiting for him to call, and I was a little naive.

“OK, come get me, but bring Tracy or one of the girls with you.” I said, resigning myself to a night out to ease the ‘missing Dreamboat’ lump in my stomach.

I could almost hear him relax.

“Great, I just need your address, and we’ll be there in about 15  to 20 minutes.” He said, a little too excitedly.

I waited outside for them.  I couldn’t help smiling when his car pulled up and Tracy was hanging out the window squealing.  I hopped into the backseat and soon we were chirping away like chickadees at sunrise.  It was as if Gary wasn’t even there.

At the party, I hung out with the girls the whole time, but of course Gary kept popping in seeing if I needed or wanted anything - like a boyfriend.  If I left the room for a second, he was soon by my side, protective – like a boyfriend.  I hated it and found ways to slither back to the fun girl room quickly.  One time, I was saved by Scott..

“Tell your guy I want a was just a bad night for me, too much pizza” he said with a wink.

Let’s go back a bit, to almost two weeks earlier;

Down the shore…the guys could never stop bragging about how Scott could guzzle a whole bottle of beer in less than a minute.  Well..I happened to know for sure that Dreamboat could do it faster, so I told them that.  The match was on..without Dreamboat’s knowledge.

When he came to pick me up that night after work…I meekly told him what I’d put him up to.  I loved his response..a very suave;

“That’s cool, let’s go do it.” Hgbe said as he took my hand and led me toward their apartment.

They sat down at a table across from one another Russian roulette style.  Scott was so confident, he insisted some money be put down – $20 bucks, to be exact.  They each placed a 20 on the table, then lifted their beers, – 1-2-3, GO!  Within 30 seconds Dreamboat slammed his bottle down.  Scott was still guzzling.  Animal House in full motion.

Dreamboat grabbed the two 20′s, stood up, shook Scott’s hand, said goodnight to everyone, grabbed my hand and off we went.  No fanfare.  I melted as we walked out the door, momentarily glancing back to see the guys picking up his bottle, studying it, turning it over and over in their hands.  They were looking for any tiny flaw, even a drop of beer, so they could cry foul.

I knew they wouldn’t.

It’s amazing what can impress the hell out of you when you’re a teenager.  I was not only madly in love with Dreamboat, I also thought he was the coolest guy on earth.

I digress.

So, back at the party. The girls were getting bored by 10 pm and wanted to head out to a local club with their fake ID’s.  Of course, I declined  - I wanted to be home by 11 pm to do some last-minute scans through my house and bedroom, making sure I wasn’t forgetting anything, but most importantly, Dreamboat would be calling some time after midnight.

Now that they were gone, Gary would be driving me home alone.  He had to make a phone call first, so I plopped down on a reclining chair set in front of the TV in Scott’s den.  Gary pulled up a folding chair next to the a 90 degree angle to me, facing my right arm, which I had up on the armrest.  He’s still talking on the this struck me as kind of an odd move.  He kept inching closer and closer, sort of leaning down towards me.

The next thing I know..he’s fiddling with my bracelet, a bracelet that Dreamboat had given me. It was almost sacrilege ..a guy that Dreamboat specifically asked to stop chasing me is now playing with a token of Dreamboat’s love for me.  I pulled my arm away.  That means..I’m not interested – Strike 1.

He whispered “Sorry.” and continued to talk on the phone to some guy he was selling his car to.  What happened next is what I call the ‘Wet Lip’ incident, and to this day, it remains crystal clear in my memory chamber.

He had backed away, so I blew it off as phone tinkering..meaning when you inadvertently doodle on a piece of paper or pull aimlessly at a stray thread on a blanket while talking on the phone.  No harm, no was all cool..or so I thought.

I relaxed again…a little tired, so I sort of zoned out, staring at a couple declaring their undying love for one another in some B list movie on cable – my eyes at half-mast. Suddenly I felt his hair against my cheek, then his breath.  Suddenly, in between telling the guy he was talking to..

“Well…you can come by and check the engine tomorrow” and “It runs really great”,

..two wet lips hit mine..slowly and tentatively.  I instinctively jerked my head away.  The funny thing is, my first thought was..Why are his lips so wet?  Did he actually saturate them with his tongue a million times before pulling this sneaky maneuver? - instead of - What the EFF are you doing?  Which came next.

He backed off again…apologizing profusely.  I began to wonder if he had even been talking to someone on the phone.  Maybe it was just some weird move he felt might work.? I was pissed.

“Take me home, Gary..NOW.” I exclaimed.  I’m not interested – Strike 2.

He immediately grabbed his keys, softly telling me how sorry he was, but I barely heard it..I just kept walking to his car – furious.  When we pulled up to my house, he asked me if I was going to remain faithful to Dreamboat at college, insinuating that it would be almost impossible.  According to him, he had already gone two years at Rutgers, and it’s an academic meat market.

“Are you kidding me, Gary?  Absolutely..I don’t want anyone else.  I want to marry this man!” I said, 100% sure of myself.

He shook his head..then asked..”Then why aren’t you going to school locally?”

His question brought back that  4th of July evening, when Dreamboat, in his most vulnerable state, had me up against the tree, asking me to go local so we wouldn’t be apart.

I felt a tear, but quickly wiped it away.

Even though I didn’t feel I owed him an explanation, I explained anyway, to prove how much I loved Dreamboat.

He nodded..”Well..I guess that seals it.” He said, sadly.

“More than you know” I said, with a dash of icy resolve.

He leaned over..quickly requesting  “Just a goodbye/good luck peck” before I had any say in the matter, then pressed his wet lips to my cheek, but as close to my mouth as he could get. I pulled away, then opened the car door, wiping his slobbery peck off when he wasn’t looking.

“Goodnight, Gary..and thanks for driving me home”.  I sdaid quickly. I was out of there and at my front entrance in seconds.  I’m not interested – Strike 3.

I ran up to my room and laid down on my bed.  I couldn’t decide whether I should tell Dreamboat what happened, but then echoes of his friend’s stories filled my head..

“He almost killed a guy for beating his cousin to a pulp – they had the cuffs on him until they saw he pretty much saved his cousin’s life by nearly killing the guy.”

Dreamboat would think nothing of getting in his car at 1 am and driving to find and beat the living daylights out of Gary.  Gary would be beaten to a pulp, like the guy who attacked his cousin, and Dreamboat would definitely be arrested.  I decided not to tell him..ever.  I was leaving for Boston in about 12 hours..there would be no more chances for Gary to hit on me.

I laid there for a long while.  I no longer felt like doing any last-minute checking for anything I might have forgotten.

I closed my eyes and ran my fingers back and forth over my lips.  Gary’s wet, slimy lips were now the last to have touched mine until Thanksgiving..wiping away Dreamboat’s sweet goodbye kisses, less than 12 hours earlier.  I called for my dog..who came running and jumped on my bed.  I kissed his face and snout all over, then laid one squarely on his mouth.

There. fixed.

The phone rang.

I picked it up “Hello?”

“Hey, Killer” a male voice whispered sweetly.

“Hey, baby” a female voice whispered back just as sweetly.

I felt his deep love and warmth envelop me. I grabbed the teddy bear with his T-shirt and hugged it to my chest.  After 15 minutes of sweet talk – I was wracked with guilt, he really did deserve to know that the guy he politely asked to stop hitting on me had done it again.  But, the ramifications could/would be brutal, plus, I was a little worried he might not be thrilled to know that I went to this party via the invite from Gary.

It was all on the tip of my tongue. waiting to slide off..I hated holding anything back from him…

Part 14B coming soon.

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Zebra Cake from 2007, and Part 13B

June 17, 2012 at 11:10 am | Posted in Cakes, Dessert | 78 Comments
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Dear Readers ,

First off, the above is a transitional header and name (desserts and line drives was too long).  I still haven’t decided where I’m going to go with this, but I got sick of looking at that ugly, old header.

Secondly, please excuse these old photos, but love this cake.  Not only is it cool to look at – but it’s moist, delectable and easy to make.


Back in January of 2011, my computer crashed.  The hard drive was annihilated.  I lost all of my photos. Some of those photos were of several amazing and somewhat laborious, treats, two of the treats that I especially mourn to this day.  One was a beautiful Tourte Milanese – layers of colorful, roasted vegetables, serrano ham and softly scrambled, herbed eggs encased in golden puff pastry.  The other was a Gateau Basque, best described as a mix of a cake, cookie and pie, from the Basque region of France, filled with luscious almond pastry cream and homemade cherry jam.  They were both so lovely, aesthetically, and exquisite in flavor, that I did everything I could with the dead hard drive, bringing it from place to place, to see what they could retrieve from it.

Wouldn’t you know it, they were able to get most everything off of it EXCEPT the laborious treats and the Tourte Milanese and Gateua Basque.  Why?  Why?  Why?

I still hold on to that drive with the hope that, miraculously, someone will be able to find and extract even one photo of each.  The truth is, the two that slay me, were also a little labor intensive, and I haven’t had the time or motivation to really dig into recreating either.  Plus, I don’t often get good photos, but by some stroke of luck, the photos of these two extravagant goodies, including the prep photos, were some of the best I’ve ever taken.  Again..

Why?  Why?  WHY?

Here’s the kicker, a group of photos of a zebra cake I made in 2007, were all there, well, most of them..(some of the prep photos didn’t make it) perfect condition.  These photos were from a time before a food blog was even a twinkle in my eye.  Back then, I took quick shots with a point and shoot, under kitchen lighting, and sometimes I used *gasp* a flash.

They were also able to pull these 2009 peanut butter cup brownies off the drive.  One problem, though..just this one photo, when there were originally 10 full size photos.  This one had been cropped already.

Fudgy, Loaded Peanut Butter Cup Brownies.  A Peanut Butter Cup in Every Bite!

Barring the photo quality, it’s a pretty cool looking I decided to post it. As I mentioned in my last post..I haven’t had the time to cook or bake anything really blog worthy, unless you consider boiled, boxed pasta with a simple tomato sauce and sloppy tuna sandwiches on wheat toast, blog worthy. In other words, I haven’t felt like spending hours sifting through 100 photos of sloppy tuna salad, and then hours of post-processing the best of the bland.

At least the ugly overnight oatmeal had a little pizzazz with the use of an almost empty peanut butter jar and the near endless possibilities of add-ins

So, here’s my zebra cake, in all it’s ancient point and shoot glory.  I love the way the stripes came out, and it was quite moist and tasty, therefore – blog worthy.  However, for some reason I cannot recollect nor fathom why I placed the cake slices on top of a cheap cake turntable.  It looks weird. Please look at the cool, zebra stripes and blur out the weird-looking cake turntable. I’m uhh, kinda embarrassed!

I want you all to make this cake and impress everyone you serve it to  It’ll look better on your plate and table than it does in these antiquated photos.

LOaded Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Brownies
Recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped..or chocolate chips
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 regular size Reese’s peanut butter cups, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. I line the pan with foil or parchment paper, making sure there is overhang to use as handles to lift out the brownies, Spray/grease foil or parchment if you use this method.

2. Microwave chopped chocolate and butter for about 45 seconds. If not mostly melted, microwave for 20 more seconds. Stir until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder and espresso powder. Set aside. OR, melt in a double boiler.

3. Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, peanut butter and salt until combined. Whisk the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Stir in the flour until just combined. Fold chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups into batter. Pour mixture into pan, spread evenly and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.

4. Bake approximately 35-40 minutes. Brownies will be slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out mostly clean. Cool to room temperature for about 2 hours. Cut into 1″ squares. Store in a tightly sealed container; preferably in the refrigerator.

Chocolate and Vanilla Zebra Cake
Makes one 8 or 9-inch cake
Recipe from my scribble scrabble on a piece of paper.  I cannot remember where I found it, but I did make some changes to it at the time.

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil or coconut oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt (or, milk is fine too)

NOTE – If you have a foolproof yellow or white layer cake recipe you love and would prefer to use, add dark cocoa powder to one half of the whole recipe, and proceed with zebra cake batter pattern. Umm..if you like using cake mixes, (I don’t, personally), or want to use one in a pinch, you can do the same – dark cocoa powder to half the batter, then proceed.

1.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

2. If using butter, cream it together with the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, until each one is fully incorporated.  Add vanilla extract.   If using oil, beat together the eggs, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy, then add vanilla extract.

3.  Alternate adding the flour mixture with the milk, starting and ending with the flour.  Do not overmix.

Now – This is where it all begins with the batter to make the zebra pattern.

Here’s a video that shows you the zebra method, and another one using a spoon, which is how I do it, AND one more for good measure, since my step-by-step photos weren’t recovered.  I didn’t use pastry bags, (good idea, though), just tablespoons and less batter of each color per drop than what you see in the video, to produce stripes that are closer together.  The below instructions explain how I did it.

Divide the batter in half, into two separate bowls, and add about 3-5 T of dark cocoa (I use Dutch Processed) to one half of the batter. If the white batter is too runny, add 3-5 tablespoons of flour to it. You want the white and chocolate batter to be close in viscosity.

To’ll be ‘layering’ 1  to 3 tablespoons of each batter, right on top of one another into a lightly greased 8 or 9-inch cake pan.(I add a parchment circle, and lightly grease that too).  I used an 8-inch round cake pan.

Starting with the white batter drop 1-3 tablespoons on the bottom of the pan, then drop 1-3 tablespoons of the chocolate batter right on top of the white batter, in the middle, then 1-3 tablespoons of white on top of the chocolate, then repeat with the white batter in the middle of chocolate batter. Keep alternating batters in the center of each until you’ve used up both batters. It will look lopsided at several points..spreading more to one side of the pan, but by the time you’re close to finished, it’ll start to even out. It should look like a bullseye of white and dark batter, as you can see in the photo right below this recipe

The less tablespoons of batter you use, the closer together the stripes will be.  I used 2 tablespoons batter of each per drop..but use up to 4 for thicker stripes.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes. A toothpick or skewer inserted in the center of the cake, should come out clean when it’s done.

Try this with other flavors/colors, like matcha with the chocolate, pistachio paste, or raspberry syrup or ground, dehydrated raspberries.  You can make this cake a kaleidoscope of stripe.  Let your imagination run wild!

Away we go with Part 13B of Bad Boy First Love, and it’s a long one.  If you’re just tuning in, Part One is HERE, Part Two is HERE , Part Three is HERE, Part Four is HERE, Part Five is HERE, Part Six is HERE, Part Seven is HERE, Part 8 is HERE, Part 9 is HERE,  Part Ten is HERE, Part 11 is HERE, Part 12 is HERE, and Part 13A is HERE.

I was relieved he was okay.  I debated getting up and talking to him, then decided against it.  I didn’t want to come off as a naggy shrew  - I wanted to trust him.  He had no idea my friend and I were there since we came over in J’s truck.

I pulled the blanket over my head and prayed for sleep again because I didn’t want to think about why the hell he came home at 5 am.  That was around the time we always stayed out until the two previous summers.

Thankfully, sleep acquiesced, and I eventually woke up at 10 am.  My friend was no longer next to me, and the house was eerily quiet. I looked out the window and saw that J’s truck was gone, so they must have all went somewhere with his Mother.

His room was the attic, the stairs to it much like those old door on the ceiling attic stairs where they’re attached to the door and you pull them down when you pull a chain or use a long hook to pull open door.  I always assumed this attic used to be a door in the ceiling/stairs combo which they turned into regular stairs with a normal entryway. Did any of that make sense?  I know, confusing, but I couldn’t find the words to describe it succinctly.

I climbed the stairs slowly, tiptoeing like a thief in the night, trying not to make any noise in case he was still sleeping.

It was if he was expecting me.  He opened his eyes and opened his arms.

“Come ‘mere, baby.” He said, groggily, and might I add, sexily?

I walked over cautiously, scoping out my surroundings.  No idea what I was looking for, it was just a guy’s room with a big bed and a hot, shirtless guy in that bed.  It was not like I was going to find another woman tucked away somewhere, although I unconsciously and silently sniffed the air for perfume.

“How did you know I was here?”  I asked suspiciously

“P came up to borrow a shirt about 10 minutes ago and said you guys stayed the night, but you were still fast asleep.  I was about to go down and wake you up.” He replied, rubbing his eyes.

“Where did they all go?” I asked..not wanting to get too cozy just yet.

“They went out for breakfast – they couldn’t wake you up.” He said, still reaching out to me with one hand.

I reached the foot of the bed and let him grab my hands and slide me across it next to him.  He wrapped me up in his warm body. I snuggled in and kissed his neck and cheek. I was so crazy in love with this boy.

Being back in his arms made me momentarily forget about the night before, until he said, with a mischievous glint in his eyes;

“So, I hear you threatened to kill two girls if they talked to me.”  He was now smiling, and I think, loving it.

“WHAT?” I screeched, then sat up quickly and told him what really happened.  He knew it, though, and was laughing while he told me how the two girls came running up to him claiming his girlfriend was crazy and had threatened their lives.

Ugh, I had given them the perfect excuse to talk to him.

“What did you say when they told you that?” I asked, amused by the lengths these girls went to.

He was getting a kick out of this, a huge grin on his face, his eyes  sparkling and dancing – laughing harder as he continued.  I think he liked the ‘bad girl’ side of me.

“I told them you couldn’t even kill a fly, and I didn’t like liars.  I told them they were crazy.  No one is going to bad mouth my girl or make up lies about her to me and get away with it.”  He said, ruffling my hair sweetly. I loved him even more for that, if that was possible.  Then;

Now get back here, Killer.” he said as sat up and pulled me down on top of him.  We had a good laugh for another few minutes.  Then I apologized.

“I’m sorry for saying the things I did last night..I was scared for you, and disappointed that we wouldn’t be together.”

“Don’t even give it a second thought, I knew that.  Plus, you’re cute when you’re mad.” He whispered, then put an end to the talking with a kiss, which always shut me up.

As we were kissing, he suddenly let out a small gasp when I ran my hands down his sides.

I slid off of him, asking, “What’s wrong?”  He didn’t respond, just sort of shifted position with a slight grimace.

I immediately began inspecting each side of his torso.  There it was, a fist sized bruise on his left side, below his rib cage, already starting to turn every deep shade of purple and blue in the color spectrum.

“What happened?!?”  I asked frantically.  Someone had obviously punched him there.

“Nothing, when the ride was slowing down one of the cars hit me in the side – I got too close.” He said, unconvincingly.

Bullshit, I thought.  Not to mention there was a bag of weed on his dresser.  Something pot related caused a fight or maybe Andy’s brother bought him the weed for fighting the guys who were giving him trouble.

“It looks like someone punched you there..hard!!” I exclaimed, the worry starting to escalate rapidly.

He pulled me back down, rolled over on top of me and pressed his lips against mine, obviously not wanting to elaborate any further.

It worked, I was completely immersed in him within seconds, like always.  Just as he pulled my shirt off, feet came pounding up his stairs..lots of feet.

“Yo, D!!  What’s up!” came a cacophony of voices at once.

A few of his friends and two of their girlfriends from home had driven down for some sun and fun and were stopping in on the way.  We had been so caught up in ummm, what we were doing, or trying to do, rather, plus the radio, that we hadn’t even heard the knocking or the door opening.

I pulled the blanket over my head and put my shirt back on while they pulled up chairs around the bed.  It felt like they were the audience and the bed was the stage.

Now it just needed an orchestra pit.  This had the makings of the  “The Nutcracker not so Suite/Sweet.”

Dina, one of the girlfriends, scolded all of them, telling everyone to leave us alone and they would stop by later.

But, too nice nature kicked in.  I couldn’t stop it once it started spilling out of my gaping maw, and it was totally disingenuous – I wanted this time with him alone – desperately.

“No, no,’s okay – STAY!  We’re so glad to see you all!”  Oh Shiiiiittt.  Why did I say that?

Dreamboat was expressionless, which meant he was NOT happy with my sweet invitation, which was immediately RSVP’d with a majority ‘will attend’.

So, we spent the next half hour chatting with them, Dreamboat half way under the covers, one hand on my leg, while I sat cross-legged on top of the covers.

I looked down at his hand on my leg.  His knuckles were cut and bruised, solid proof he had punched someone too.  I ran my hand over those bruised, swollen knuckles as if my touch could somehow heal them.  I felt sick again.

When they all finally left, his Mom, brother, my friend and J pulled up.

It figures.

I ran down the stairs, grabbed a magazine and sat on the couch.  I didn’t want his Mom to know I’d crept up there and came close to deflowering his sacred attic bed.

Later on that day, my Auntie Flo decided to come for a visit and stay a few days.

Once again, It figures.

From that moment on, we saw each other every night, but there was one problem, he didn’t like my two best friends.

He didn’t like one because he felt she was leading his brother on, and she was.  She had a habit of getting attached to certain guy friends, and then she would start to crush on them, sometimes even kissing them. Soon she would realize she didn’t want to be with them that way.   However, her continued flirtatious and affectionate manner belied her declaration of ‘friends only’ - leaving said men confused, but still smitten.

P and J were both enamored with her.  She was a blonde knock-out, so realistically, and on a shallow level, she was out of their league, but her behavior towards them made it seem they had a chance – especially P.

Another thing that annoyed him, albeit not as serious, was that she was over his shore house so much, he was getting tired of it, especially since she was eating them out of house and home.  She loved his Mom’s cooking.  I did too, and in fact, I referred to her potato salad in a post last summer , but only ate small portions.  It was summer, so the bod came first.  She had the metabolism of a triathlete, I did not. His Mom loved that she loved it, so she went out of her way for her.  She even let her finish up the last of her amazing, homemade Italian sausages that were Dreamboat’s favorite, and he was looking forward to for lunch that day.

I braced myself when he opened the fridge to confirm her assertion that they were gone because she cooked them for my friend.  I really thought he was going to lose it when he saw that they were really gone, but, alas, he kept his cool and took me out for a late lunch before work.  Not one peep about the sausages scarfed by my ferociously hungry friend.  I envied his ability to let things go so easily.

My other friend, the one I’ve been calling the raven haired friend, the one who was with me that first summer when I met him…the one who hooked up with the hunky monkey, he did not like nor trust.  He felt she was not a true friend to me. He guaranteed she wouldn’t be my friend by the time I hit 30.  My father said the same about her, as did other men who met and knew us together.

They were right.  What is it that men who love you ‘see’ what you can’t ‘see’ yourself?  I thought she was the bee’s knees at that time.  I saw none of the above for years.

This caused a problem, because I needed to hang out with my friends too, I was also leaving them in a few weeks since they were going to college locally – plus, we had parties at our place a few times.  Of course his brother and J were always there, so that didn’t help matters. He didn’t want to hang with his brother every night.

We started to have little fights.  Without fail, he never raised his voice and was his usual nonchalant self the more upset I got.  There were a few times I couldn’t leave our place because I’d promised I’d stay for the whole party. He would stop in for an hour, then take me outside and tell me he was leaving, asking if I was coming with him.  I wanted to go with him in the worst way, but I couldn’t just dump them, so I’d beg him to stay another hour.

This would go on for a while, reducing me to tears.  A constant tug-of-war.  Sometimes I left with him..sometimes I let him go.  Either way, someone was always upset with me.

He was the only person who could make me cry, whether it be ‘going to miss him’ crying,or ‘upset with him’ crying.  Not to mention the tears of happiness the summer we reconnected.  I had, much to my dismay, morphed into a public sobber. Gone were the days when my tears were only allowed out in the confines of my bedroom, especially while watching sad movies or commercials about cruelty to animals, and, of course, that whole year missing him.

To make matters even worse, a bunch of guys staying across from us in the complex, who just so happened to be from a town 10 minutes from us, were always hanging out in our apartment.  One of them liked me..liked me enough to brazenly ask Dreamboat’s brother about my relationship with him, gauging the temperature of it.  He was very confident and cocky, making his feelings for me very well-known.  Of course..this was ‘disrespectful’ to Dreamboat, and it finally culminated into a huge fight breaking out between the guys across from us, some guys upstairs, and some guys who were visiting someone else in the complex.

It all started with Dreamboat talking quietly with ‘Gary’, the guy who was interested in me, asking him politely to stop chasing me since I was in a relationship with him. Suddenly, J said something to one of Gary’s friends, who made a comment about no one being anyone’s property.  Within minutes, threats were flying like spitballs in a 5th grade classroom – then a few pushes,..and finally, the first punch was thrown, and all benches cleared..

The sound of gasps, grunts, and fists hitting skin, combined with  girlfriends and girl friends screaming for it to stop, and lots of cursing, was deafening.

Ironically, Gary and Dreamboat weren’t part of this altercation.  I had Dreamboat blocked in a corner of the courtyard by then – arguing about staying or leaving (anything to keep him from fighting).  Soon we made up and were hugging and smooshing as this weird rumble continued around us.

My raven haired friend made fun of this scene for years after. A crazy brawl all over the place..but off to the side, in a corner, me and Dreamboat, encapsulated in our little love bubble.

Of course Dreamboat soon stepped in to help break it up once he saw his brother was involved, which led to another funny scenario.

The fight was still in full swing..Dreamboat and others pulling bodies off of one another, while my raven-haired friend and I stood watching.  Suddenly we hear ‘Hey, how ya doin?” from up above.  We looked up to see two guys leaning over the balcony, looking down at us.  They started hitting on a very casual and sweet way.

“Where are you girls from?”  “How long are you here for?”  “We’ve seen you around a lot, you seem like really nice girls” “Wanna to hang out with us..hit the boardwalk, maybe?”

Not one mention of this huge melee smack dab in the middle of the complex right below them..and they couldn’t miss it if they tried.  It was so bizarre.

Dreamboat came walking over and grabbed my hand.

“Let’s go, sweetheart, I’ve had enough of this place.”

So had I.

I spent all of the remaining summer nights/early mornings with him.  I was sick of the parties, sick of the noise, all,night.long, sick of everyone just walking in and out of each other’s apartments day and night, whenever they felt like it.

It was Animal House, but without John Belushi - although there was a guy who kind of looked like him, and was kind of funny, but still, he was no John Belushi.

The summer before, we were on the top floor, without a balcony, in the back, so the noise and hoopla wasn’t too bad.  This summer, we were on the bottom level, facing the courtyard – giving up moments of peace and quiet for a bigger, better apartment.

The straw that broke the camel’s back occurred one early morning, after Dreamboat dropped me off. I fell asleep on the couch in the kitchen (this place was big on couches in kitchens).  Later that day at the beach, I noticed people leaning over and looking at the back of my legs as I walked by.  I sat back down on our giant beach blanket and lifted one leg up, twisting to see what they were looking at.

My friend and J came in drunk that morning.  Seeing I was fast asleep (I sleep like a rock..I can even sleep with the TV blasting), they channeled a naughty, foul-mouthed Picasso. A brown eyeliner was their brush, the back of my legs, their blank canvas.

Yeah, it was funny..especially their artists’s rendition of the proverbial twig and berries, with an arrow pointing you know where, but I’d had enough. I wanted the last week and a half with him only – no more Animal House evenings until sunrise.  I spent all day, every day, except his occasional day off, with the girls anyway – until midnight.

With each sunrise and sunset, it got closer to the day we’d say goodbye.  We spent a lot of nights at our favorite secluded beach in Seaside Park, sometimes watching the sun rise from the lifeguard chair which he’d hoist me up on.  Sometimes we’d go to his shore house and he’d sneak me up to his room..where we’d spend the night, then pretend I just popped over in the morning, before his Mom woke.

Words were hard to come by as the day came closer.  We were both sad, and at times, for brief moments, he was almost cold.  I could tell he was numbing himself from the pain, so I never said a word, but – the impending separation heightened the tenderness between us, so we barely needed words.  We were pretty much avoiding the topic as best we could.  He told me he had spoken to his Father about this..since he was having such a hard time dealing with it..

He tried to keep his voice even-toned and upbeat “My Dad said unless I put a ring on your finger, I had no right to ask you to not date anyone.”

I hugged him “I don’t need a ring, I don’t want anyone but you.” I said, and I meant it.

Suddenly reality hit like a cement road block I didn’t see coming, and there was no time to slow down and stop. This man was gorgeous, how could he not date anyone when he probably wouldn’t see me until Thanksgiving and that was only for a week or less?  I was sure I could do it, but could he?

I started to cry.  Oh look, I’m crying again…what a surprise!  Now that my tears had a taste of being ‘out’, they couldn’t stop coming ‘out’.  He just held me and let me cry because it was getting harder and harder to talk about our impending separation.

The night before I was leaving the shore to go home and pack, then leave the next day for Boston, was finally upon us.  Labor Day weekend had passed and Seaside was emptying quickly..families packing up their cars, the streets desolate, the boardwalk more of a whisper than a shout.  There was nowhere better to spend our last night than at ‘our beach’ again.

We sat on the between his legs, leaning back against chest, his arms around me, chin on my shoulder.  His classic rock station played softly in the background and our drinks remained untouched.  We didn’t talk, just watched the ocean for a while.  I looked up at the stars, wishing for more nights with him because the thought of leaving him was becoming unbearable.  To phrase it in half-witted, daffy Jersey Shore speak - we smushed, (cringey corn alert) then fell asleep in each other’s arms under a blanket – beneath a blanket of glittery stars.

When we woke up, around 6 am, we walked slowly to his car.  I forgot to mention in the previous entry that he had picked up an old, used Mazda RX7 for cheap a month before.  There was no knob or padded cover on the stick shift, so he would use his palm, pushing it to change gears.  It was sexy to me..but almost everything he did was sexy to me.  I ran my hand over it when I got in, trying to vault everything about him in my brain, so it was always with me.

He pulled up to the front of the complex, and again, we just sat there for a while, in silence.  It wasn’t awkward, but it was certainly heart-wrenching.  I told him I’d stop by the house before I left.  He nodded and hugged me..inhaling me.  I liked when he did that.  He said he never wanted to forget how good I smelled, until we saw each other again. Touche, I thought.

Like animals, we always know and love the scent of our mates – we’ve just evolved enough to not sniff each other’s tushies.

After a few kisses..he left. I watched him drive away then walked to our apartment to finish packing.  My face was soaked.  I hadn’t even felt the tears coming on this time.

When we got to his house later on, it was about 1 pm.  I went straight to and up the attic stairs to say goodbye. He had just woken up and was putting his laundry away in the drawers.  He turned around and gave me a quick peck, then went back to putting away his laundry.  My heart sank, it was breaking..I could barely speak.

“I’m not leaving right this second, baby, I have a few minutes” I said, mournfully.

He didn’t turn around, just mumbled “I know.”

I wrapped my arms around him from behind..then made him turn around to face me..he was acting so cold.

He stiffened as I hugged him.  Now I was really upset and the damn tears came fast.  I think I had shed enough  tears that summer to create a new ocean.  The Sea of Sappy Sorrow – don’t swim in it, because if you do, every little thing will make you cry!

I didn’t know what to do, so I kept hugging him,burying my face in his neck..telling him how much I loved him, asking him why he was being so cold.  He finally relaxed and hugged me back hard, kissing my neck, then whispering..

“I’m losing my girl, how do you expect me to be?”

“No, you’re not, I’ll call you every day..I’ll be home at Thanksgiving..I’ll..”

He stopped my blabbering with a kiss.

A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.
-Ingrid Bergman

When the kiss broke, I asked him to take off his t-shirt and give it to me.  It was a light blue tee with a picture of Rocky and Bullwinkle on it.  He’d slept in it, so his intoxicating scent was all over it, and I wanted to smell him for as long as it lasted until Thanksgiving. He took it off and gave it to me.  I hugged him again, not wanting to let go.  His brother P’s voice interrupted our moment. He was driving home with us.  Our other friend, now known as the raven-haired one, had gone home with her boyfriend the day before, so it was just me, him and my blonde friend.

“Come on, we gotta get goin””  P said.  My friend had a family thing she needed to get to.

Dreamboat released me from his arms.  I quickly took his hands in mine and squeezed.  I didn’t know what else to say,  so I said something that had been bothering me for a while;

“Please stay safe, please don’t fight anymore – I saw those bruises on your knuckles 3 weeks ago, I know you didn’t get that bruise from the ride.”

He sniffed in deep.  I looked up, his eyes were red and watery..he was crying  but trying hard not to.  He tried to pass it off as something else..

“Damn,  there must be pollen or some kind of dust in the air.”

He didn’t have allergies.

I let go of his hands…and turned to leave. By the third step down, he appeared at the top of the stairs..  I turned my head and looked up.

“I love you, killer” He said with a small smile.

I choked out “I love you too”,  then ran down the remaining steps, out the door and into the car, clutching his t-shirt to my chest.

I sat in the backseat the whole way home, holding his t-shirt, sporadically pressing it against my face and inhaling…then stopping because I didn’t want to sniff up all of his scent until there was nothing left, and I didn’t want to cry anymore.

When I got home, the laundry was done and then 4 hours of packing for college.  I may as well just have had my whole bedroom transported to Boston, because I was taking everything.  When all the packing was done, I gently pulled his t-shirt over the head of a large, stuffed teddy bear he had won for me, placed it on top of my trunks and suitcases, then plopped down on my bed.

It was now around 7 pm and I wouldn’t hear from him until after midnight.  I felt lonely, then overwhelmed at the thought of not seeing him for almost 12 weeks.

Nobody was around to talk to.  One friend was with her boyfriend, the other at her family gathering.  Other friends had already left for college.

The phone rang.  I picked it up.  “Hello?”

“Lisa?” a male voice asked


“It’s Gary”

Part 14 coming soon.

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Caramelized Banana Pudding Cheesecake with Salted Cashew Praline – Vanilla Wafer Crust, for My Guest Post at The Gingered Whisk

May 24, 2012 at 10:56 am | Posted in Cakes, Dessert, Fruit | 41 Comments
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Last March, Jenni, of the beautiful blog, The Gingered Whisk, asked me to do a guest post. Naturally, I jumped in, and wanted to get to work on it immediately. Jenni and I have been friends since 2009, and we hosted the Daring Cooks Cassoulet Challenge together at the end of 2010. Then, some not so great stuff happened on my end, and Jenni found out she was moving.  Several times, between us, the date changed.  Now that things have calmed down here, and Jenni is all settled into her new’s finally happening.

I made a lot of commitments prior to life semi-combusting, and now those commitments are piling up all at once.  I like it, though – it feels great to get back into the kitchen a little more.  I still don’t have much time due to work, but I squeeze it in as best I can.

SO, do you love banana pudding, the kind with the vanilla wafers (is there any other kind?)?  Do you love caramel?  If so, you’ll love this twist on banana pudding and vanilla wafers in a cheesecake.  It’s gooey, it’s rich, it’s sinful, it’s worth the calories.  Portion control are my key words for this cheesecake.  In this case, TWO big slices equals one portion, k? Bananas are good for you!  Potassium!

To get the recipe and see more photos, although I really couldn’t gussy it up due to rain and muggy weather melting ev-er-y-thing, click HERE and please check out Jenni’s blog. This chick can cook and bake like nobody’s business.  She could make the tar on a beaten path in NYC in 98 degree heat taste good!

That said, a note.  Not all of the caramelized bananas will look beautifully caramelized inside of the cheesecake once baked.  The cheesecake batter dilutes a lot of that golden beauty.  I had to cut through the whole cheesecake to find one slice where some of the bananas remained that beautiful color after baking, for photo purposes.  If you look closely at my slice photos, you’ll see the washed out color of some of the caramelized bananas.  But, no effect on flavor or texture, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

Caramelized Banana Pudding Cheesecake with Salted Cashew Praline – Vanilla Wafer Crust
On another note, I was nominated for a Food Stories Award by Maureen of The Orgasmic Chef. To say I’m surprised is an understatement. I’ve just been journaling a memory from a happy, innocent time to soothe my aching grown-up soul during a difficult period the past few months – I guess you could call it my own personal therapy. Glad some have enjoyed it.  However, before my Bad Boy First Love memoir, there are loads of mile long food stories, so I hope those are taken into consideration.  Who could forget the squirrels that ate my joconde paste?

As part of this nomination, they’d like a random fact about me.  Here goes …..

As much as I wax poetic about baking and cooking from scratch, I’m a slave to the occasional fluffernutter sandwich, and it must be marshmallow cream from a jar. Also, sometimes I scrape the cream from the oreos with my teeth, and ditch the cookies. Lovely, huh? I’m a vanilla gal to the bone.

They’d also like me to nominate 5 other food bloggers for this award.  This was so tough to narrow down because there are SO many great food story writers out there, but I finally managed to choose 5.  Here they are;

Lifes a Feast – Her memories intertwine with the food effortlessly.  Not only can Jamie tell a story , but she does it with such flair, amazing imagery and love..happy or sad.  A fabulous, gifted writer in every way.

Bibberche – Lana’s stories have made me laugh, cry, literally feel her every emotion.  A beautiful writer and storyteller.

Creative Culinary – I love reading Barb’s posts because she flows….her writing is breezy, not to mention, she never holds back when it comes to controversial issues.  She tells it like it is – no sugar-coating.

A Few Rotten Vegetables and Moldy Cheese –   A friend linked me to her site, and I read the whole damn blog in one sitting.  I can identify with most everything she talks about – been there/done that.  She doesn’t know me, so I guess I’m her stalker – huge crush.  I wish she would post more.  Oh, she is NOT a food blogger, just a chef who writes – she makes that very clear.

La Mia Cucina – Lis, the founder of Daring Bakers, doesn’t blog anymore, but I wish she would.  Go read her blog now.  You will be spewing all kinds of matter all over your computer screen.  Not only great writing/story telling, but ‘effin HILARIOUS!  THIS post still brings on wheezing, tearing laughter.

To accept your nominations, click HERE to read about it.

Oh, one more thing.  My 4-year Blogiversary is coming up on the 28th.  I’ll be celebrating it with a HUGE giveaway.  Be sure to check back since you won’t want to miss this one – seriously.

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