Sunday, March 27, 2011

Coconut Chai Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake

VCU Men's Basketball WON against Kansas! We are going to the final four! I am so excited. Please join me and cheer us on next Saturday night. Now to something else delightful... 

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake. Their full instructions can be found here. Inspired by Ria's use of saffron to flavor the dough and some tea bags I had I came up with Chai Coconut for my flavoring.

As you can see it got a little too brown while I watched VCU beat Purdue last Sunday, the ring didn't match up perfectly and the meringue oozed a little during the second rise, which bothered me wasn't really bad as the ooze was chewy and delicious once baked. I also forgot to put the granulated sugar/cayenne inside so I brushed the outside with the egg wash, sprinkled some on and then brushed with more egg wash. It worked though I will try it the regular way to see what difference it makes to the texture.

Regardless of these little imperfections, I loved the end result. This cake is just sweet enough for a slightly indulgent breakfast and has a fun crunch thanks to the coconut and a kick from the ginger and cayenne. I highly recommend that you make some version of it, if you haven't already. This bread really reminded me of stollen and that is a high compliment as it was one of my favorite Daring Kitchen challenges to date.

Filled Meringue Coffee Cake
Halved to make 1 round coffee cake, approximately 10 inches in diameter.

For the yeast coffee cake dough
2 cups flour
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 and 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 1/8 teaspoons active dried yeast
1/3 cup whole milk
1/8 cup water
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 Celestial Seasonings' Decaf Sweet Coconut Chai tea bag

For the meringue
1.5 large egg whites at room temperature (made that happen with Just Whites)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 scant teaspoon vanilla
2 drops coconut extract
1/4 cup sugar

For the filling
1/2 cup Unsweetened Coconut, shredded
1/2 cup Semisweet Chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 HEAPING tablespoon Candied Ginger, Chopped (need to find a better way

Egg wash
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Prepare the dough
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 3/4 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
2. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Add the Decaf Sweet Coconut Chai tea bag and steep off of the heat for 10 minutes.
3. With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1/2 cup flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
4. Add enough of the remaining flour to the mixer and run until the dough holds together (this required almost an additional full cup of flour for me). Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for approximately 5 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, adding extra flour as needed.
5. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling:
1. In a small bowl, combine the cayenne and sugar for the filling if using. Chop chocolate and ginger. Measure out coconut.

Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue:
1. In a clean mixing bowl (plastic or glass) beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque.
2. Add the vanilla and coconut then start adding the 1/4 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cake:
1. Line baking/cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch rectangle. Spread meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle your filling of choice evenly over the meringue.
3. Roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal.
4. Very carefully transfer the filled log to the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
5. Using kitchen scissors , make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
6. Cover the coffee cake with plastic wrap and allow it to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
8. Brush the top of the coffee cake with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
9. Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheet onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cake from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide it onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
10. Enjoy! These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

I like to hold the bowl upside down to prove I have reached stiff peaks. It makes for a nice little thrill. 

Find more WIZ KHALIFA songs at Myspace Music

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture. Happy weekend!

I loved Sweet Valley High, especially the Sweet Valley Saga books that I still remember vividly over a decade later. Francine Pascal has a new book, Sweet Valley Confidential, coming out with Elizabeth and Jessica at age 27. Is it wrong that this excites me? (via F*ck Yeah Lady Writers)

Clearly I'm still high on VCU making it to the Sweet 16 for the first time. Out of all the articles I read I loved this one best about us advancing. I will be watching tonight's game against FSU closely on TBS. Join me and cheer on the Rams!

Jay Parkinson + MD + MPH is working to revolutionize medicine through technology. Yana C. linked his blog post - What happens to doctors who think outside the box? - and I enjoyed it, skimmed additional entries and ultimately added him to my reader.

Bob at Stoneybrook Farms' makes a call for regionalism in meal sales as the way to increase consumption of ethically raised meat. (via @bittman)

Plastic - Too Good to Throw Away, a NY Times editorial about the value of plastic, gives a short and sweet background on why plastic can be valuable and green to use, provided it is used wisely.

I adore this recycledwood sign. I think it would be great to surround it with pictures of people and places I adored in a loose collage.

Who wouldn't want a Petite Lap Giraffe?

Real food budget tips (and Banana Ice Cream with Salted Maple Caramel Sauce) on Deliciously Organic from 100 Days of Real Food

Recipes Bookmarked
Fettuccine Alfredo (without cream! and with history) via Simply Recipes
Frittata With Grated Zucchini, Goat Cheese and Dill from NY Times
Chinese Pumpkin Pancakes from Red Cook
Oat and Maple Syrup Scones from Smitten Kitchen
Thai Carrot Burgers from NY Times

Kitty Hawk, NC March 2011

Find more Abra Moore songs at Myspace Music

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Saucy Lemon-Garlic Chicken and Braised Artichokes over Wheatberries

When my Alpha Gamma Delta sister-mother, Amanda, served me artichokes junior year at Virginia Commonwealth University I was perplexed by their spiky, dull green appearance and that Amanda, who prefers classic foods, enjoyed them. As I dipped the outer leaves in butter and scraped the tender flesh off with my teeth, scooped out the choke and ate the heart relishing every bite I got it.

And I've loved artichokes ever since. They taste great and are low in calories while providing dietary fiber, vitamin C, folate, magnesium and antioxidants (per OceanMist). When I saw a box of baby artichokes on markdown at Kroger; I had to buy them!  The nice thing about baby artichokes is the chokes (spiky bits in the center) don't need to be removed as they haven't matured enough yet to tickle the throat. I ate some steamed and then decided to get creative braising the excess.

This preparation leaves the chicken incredibly tender while creating a light, savory lemon sauce perfect for coating the nutty wheatberries. The whole dish leaves a natural sweet aftertaste in your mouth and the wheatberries bounce as you bite into them (party in the mouth!) - what's not to love?  Wheatberries aren't for everyone so feel free to substitute couscous, brown rice or another grain of your choice.

Thanks for the introduction to artichokes, Amanda, and for many other things! I got lucky when we were paired up 10 years ago.

Saucy Lemon-Garlic Chicken and Braised Artichokes over Wheatberries
Inspired by Mark Bittman's Artichokes Take a Dip in a Pool of Stock and bill granger's Honey Lemon Chicken Wings

1 cup Wheatberries
1/2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Onion, large, sliced thinly into rings
1 Lemon, juice only
1 tsp. Agave Nectar
1 inch Ginger, grated
3 Chicken Breasts
4 cloves Garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
12 Baby Artichokes, trimmed and halved

1. Bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of wheatberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for approximately 1 hour. At the end of the hour check the wheatberries - if they have plumped up and cracked open they are ready. Set aside.
2. Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the dutch oven over medium-low heat. Once the oil sizzles when flicked with a drop of water, add the onion. Saute until slightly browned adding 1/4 cup of water as needed to prevent burning. Remove to a plate.
3. While the onions caramelize, squeeze the lemon into a small bowl. Mix the agave nectar and ginger into the lemon juice. Set aside.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5. Salt and pepper the chicken breasts, then place them to the hot dutch oven and brown each side. Remove to the plate. Turn off the burner.
6. Pour 1/2 cup of chicken broth into the dutch oven to deglaze it. Spread the caramelized onions over the bottom of the dutch oven and add the sliced garlic.
7. Place the chicken on top of the onion and garlic. Pour the lemon juice mixture over top. Cover and place in oven for approximately 20 minutes.
8. While the chicken begins cooking, prepare the artichokes by removing their stems and the top 1/4. Cut them in half longitudinally. When 20 minutes has passed, remove the dutch oven from the stove and nest the artichokes into the cooking liquid. Cover the dish and return it to the oven.
9. Bake the dish for approximately 15 more minutes. It is done when the chicken is 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit.
10. Place the wheatberries or other grain on the plate and serve the other elements over it. Salt, pepper and/or Ms. Dash to taste and enjoy. 

Find more songs from the album Standing in the Way of Control at Myspace Music

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Since yesterday was Bloggers Day of Silence, I'm posting Friday Distractions today. For your enjoyment here's what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture. Happy weekend!

I've been to some very fun weddings but this one really takes fun, and inventiveness, to the next level. Even if you aren't into weddings it has great ideas for personalizing any event. (via Jordan Ferney Oh Happy Day!)

Ruth Reichl muses about the need to be grateful for what we have in the light of the disasters and horrors taking place elsewhere while simultaneously looking to help as much as we can here. Perspective is good. (via Orangette)

Wow! I had no idea The White House was classified as a museum and had a curator. I really should tour it one day.

Courtney saves the day. She linked an article discussing Sal Kahn's Kahn Academy and it looks like a great resource for learning about many topics...most relevant to me would be relearning math for the GRE.

Clever cartoons constructed from food (via my Uncle Dave)

Recipes Bookmarked
Basil and Goat Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza from How Sweet It Is (via Baking Bites)
Butterscotch Cashew Bars from Everybody Loves Sandwiches (I suspect I have the original bookmarked too.)
Maple Vinegar from the D.I.Y. Cooking Handbook from NY Times. There is also a D.I.Y. Cooking Bibliography that surely will lead to more neat home projects. 
Meyer Lemon Macarons at My Tartlette (Helen always has amazing desserts and macarons posted.)
Spicy Vegan Verde Lasagna at Healthy Happy Life

My biggest distraction offline has been VCU playing and WINNING in the NCAA tournament! In honor of that the only appropriate photo this week is our logo. Clearly. Though a picture of Vika and Rafe's baby, Fiona, was also in the running since she her arrival made me beam.

Find more artists like CRYSTAL WATERS at Myspace Music

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Help Japan -- Bloggers Day of Silence

Friday Distractions can wait until Saturday as Isabel at Pretty Tasty Things highlighted a Bloggers Day of Silence tomorrow and I want to participate too! As time passes the situation in Japan looks more dire and, frankly, nothing I found amusing this week is of consequence in comparison.

Ever Ours and Utterly Engaged put the day together with the aim of raising awareness, showing respect and acknowledging the devastation in Japan. They recommend supporting ShelterBox, which was one of the first organizations asked by Japan to help and were on hand on the Saturday after the quake. Each large, green ShelterBox is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items. For Japan With Love has a direct link on the website to their effort's fundraising page for ShelterBox. 

If you would like to read an analysis from Givewell on how to best support Japan, go here (Thanks to Alex at Marginal Revolution for the link). I like the logic behind it, but I'm a sucker for a good deal so I still participated in Living Social's promotion today -- you give $5 and they give $5 to the Red Cross. You can too -- they will match up to $1,000,000!

If you are a blogger and want to participate, go here for more information.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ceviche de Pescado and Not Papas Rellanas

My first trip out of the country was in 2004. I visited Guayaquil, Salinas, Montanita and Cuenca, Ecuador for New Years with friends, who I hadn't actually met in person yet. The adventure opened my eyes to a new culture and new foods. I will never forget all of the fireworks and exploding pinatas, the variety of car horns you heard navigating the crowded streets, the ocean's bath-like water temperature, the "raining" locusts and discovering just how privileged we are in the US to have the sanitation system we do.

In spite of later trips to Italy, Cyprus and Spain, South American food has stayed in my head. I just can't approximate it as well as the other cuisines. I still dream about the tangy, soup-like ceviche served with popcorn, the creamy, cheesy grilled corn (choclos not to be confused with cholos) available for a dollar on the street, cilantro rice, and fresh pina coladas. Needless to say when Kathlyn introduced this month's challenge by describing her love of South American food's flavor I was excited.

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenged us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra. You can find the full challenge background and recipes here; the recipes updated with my variations are below.

I've tried making ceviche before but this version turned out much better. It keeps things simple so the citrus cooked fish stays the main event (as it should). I incorporated pink grapefruit into the ceviche for some additional color and reduced the provided recipe by half but otherwise followed it. I'm delighted to say that my Mom's Venzuelan co-worker said it was perfect so congrats to Kathlyn for finding something authentic enough to please a South American.

As for the Papas Rellanas I really went off the reservation. While I read through the recipe and largely followed it, what I made couldn't really be called Papas Rellanas since I made the filling Italian (proscuitto, red pepper, spinach and mozzarella) and decided to bake the dough balls instead of frying them. That said I liked the end result - it was almost like having filled gnocchi!

Ceviche de Pescado (Fish Ceviche)
Serves 6 as a “starter” or lunch portion. Serves 3 as a dinner.

1 lbs. Tilipia (or another firm white fish. Sashimi grade is ideal but I used fresh, never frozen, tilapia with the furthest available sell by date and am still alive.)
1 Garlic Clove, mashed
1/2 Jalepeno Pepper, minced
1 Grapefruit (supremed for the fruit and the squeezed for the juice)
1/2 cup Lime Juice, freshly squeezed (approximately 3 limes)
1/4 cup Grapefruit Juice, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon Cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced lengthwise into half moons
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

1. Slice the fish into pieces between 1/2 inch and 2 inches depending on your preference. Place the fish in a non-reactive, shallow plan in a thin layer. Season with salt and pepper.
2.  Supreme the grapefruit into the dish with the fish.
3. Combine the grapefruit and lime juice, jalepeno, cilantro and garlic. Pour mixture over fish and grapefruit. Stir lightly to expose all the fish to some of the citrus juice mixture.
4. Put sliced onion on top of fish as it “cooks."
5. Let fish stand for 10 minutes or longer depending on your preference.

Not Papas Rellenas

Makes 8

For the dough:
2 1/4 pounds Russet Potatoes
1 large Egg

For the filling:
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
3/4 cup Proscuitto, cubed
1 1/2 cups Spinach, if mature remove the stalks
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
3/4 cup Mozzarella, cubed
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the final preparation:
1 large Egg, beaten
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
Dash Salt
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

In order to save time, you can prep the potatoes, and while they are cooling, make the filling. While the filling cools, make the potato “dough.” In this way, little time is spent waiting for anything to cool.

For the dough:
1. Pierce the potatoes with a fork, then place them in a bowl and cover with saran wrap. Heat in the microwave for approximately 8 minutes. Once they pierce easily with a fork, they are done.
2. Place on a plate and cut in half to speed cooling.
3. Peel the potatoes as soon as you can handle them and mash them with a potato masher or force them through a potato ricer (preferred).
4. Add egg, salt and pepper and knead “dough” thoroughly to ensure that ingredients are well combined and uniformly distributed.

For the filling:
1. Place 1 tablespoon of oil in a saute pan and heat over medium. Once hot add the proscuitto and brown it (about 5 minutes). Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel covered plate to drain.
2. Wipe out the pan leaving only a thin coating of oil. Add the red bell pepper and saute 3 minutes. Add the spinach and saute until it wilts.
3. Turn off the heat, add the mozzarella and proscuitto and toss to combine.
4. Allow filling to cool before forming “papas.”

Forming and baking the papas:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
2. Use three small bowls to prepare the papas. In one, combine flour and salt. In the second, a beaten egg with a tiny bit of water. Put bread crumbs in the third.
3. Flour your hands and scoop up 1/8 of the total dough to make a round pancake with your hands. Make a slight indentation in the middle for the filling.
4. Spoon a generous amount of filling into the center and then roll the potato closed, forming a smooth, ball-like casing around the filling. Repeat with all dough.
5. Dip each papa in the three bowls to coat: first roll in flour, then dip in egg, then roll in bread crumbs.
6. Place papas on the baking sheet and spray the exterior with oil.
7. Bake the papas in the oven for 25-30 minutes, flipping once in the middle. Eat on them on their own, with spaghetti sauce or over salad.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture. Happy weekend!

I think I'm daring because I'm running a 10k on 4/2 (my second race and longest distance); this guy is daring because he is riding HUGE waves at night in Hawaii. How bold but I am keeping in mind to each his own. (via The Improvised Life).

Ever since tasting the "marmalade rice" at a friend's wedding, I have admired Iranian food though I haven't had it often. Najmieh Batmanglij's cookbook and work in general sound amazing.(via NY Times)

If, like me, you like topical books but have trouble getting around to reading them, you will find this article on vanilla and this one on avocados interesting as they include mini-histories.(via NY Times)

These running headbands with built-in headphones look handy - no ear buds to fall out and no chill to the  inner ear from wind. Plus they are washable as long as you remove the headphones. (via VitalJuice, a great health subscription e-mail)

A real life version of the house from UP. (via Courtney)

A bedroom with a pirate ship! Then copper gutters and other unique work on the architect's page. Room decor is much more advanced than when I was a child and wanted a reading nook built into the wall thanks to magazines at HQ. (via Tenille)

Patagonia is at the top of places I want to explore. Check out this article on a remote place to stay and experience it. (via Tenille)

Atlas Shrugged officially is a movie (via Pete). I loved Ayn Rand's books in college. If you haven't read her test the waters with Anthem, which clocks in at ~100 pages and gives you a feel for her general plot. I started with The Fountainhead, then read them all, though John Galt's monologue in Atlas Shrugged almost lost me. 

15 Most Popular Autocorrects from February... Low brow, perhaps, but I laughed until my stomach hurt.(via Doug)

Make your own fringe-y streamers! These look so fun and simple. This blog was added to my reader, but I can't remember how I reached it. Oops.

Athletic Body Diversity Reference for Artists at Intergalactic Messages - I especially liked how she wrapped up the post with this statement "Reminder to self and others: fitness does not always equal perfect washboard abs." (via Courtney)

I love the meditative act of chopping things and this OCD Chef Cutting board highlighted at Baking Bites sounds like a dream.

Recipes Bookmarked
Candied Brussel Sprouts with Toasted Almonds and Maple Tempeh Bacon
Lime, Grapefruit and Ginger Juice at 101 Cookbooks
Lemon Vinaigrette at Organic Spark via Deliciously Organic
Popcorn with Coconut Flakes and Mustard Seeds at NY Times
Rainbow Sprinkles

Sweet Homemade Milk Liquor at The Kitchn

Altea, Spain September 2009

Find more artists like DUM DUM GIRLS at Myspace Music

Frontier Psychiatrist has highlighted this band a few times and I like their sound.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Roasted Green Beans and Potatoes with Dill

Today I spent almost 5 hours volunteering on a local, certified organic farm. It was my audition to participate in their work-share program during the growing season a.k.a. volunteer regularly and get a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share. If I'm not chosen, and I don't know how selection works, I'll just join the CSA since I like the idea of supporting the local economy and getting fresh produce.

Knowing that working on a farm is hard and doing the work itself are two very different things. I worked side by side with the employees and essentially was treated as one. It was a busy but peaceful day; I helped "pot-up" a large flat of leeks, packaged arugula, pulled and bundled overwintered carrots, planted cabbage and cauliflower and did a lot of shivering. I came home with a big smile, dirty nails, a tired back and bags of fresh arugula and spinach. While I can't wait to dig into those greens, I needed something warm quickly so I ate the exact meal for lunch that I had for dinner last night.

The food I post might seem complicated but I am more likely to eat something simple like these Roasted Green Beans and Potatoes with Dill over a a half cup of  reduced fat cottage cheese zapped in the microwave for 50 seconds most days. Roasted green beans get surprisingly sweet, the potatoes turn creamy and the dill adds a bright flavor to them both. If you go the cottage cheese route it adds a nice tang into the mix and makes it like a lazy soup.  

Roasted Green Beans and Potatoes with Dill
approximately 2 servings

3/4 lbs. Potatoes
1 lb. Green Beans
4 tsp Lemon Juice, fresh would likely be nice but I used Real Lemon
1 Tbsp. Dill, dried
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut the potatoes into chunks of relatively the same size. Place the potatoes in salted water with 2 tsp. lemon juice.
3. Snap the ends off the green beans and rinse them.
4. Drain the potatoes and add the green beans to them. Measure the 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, the tablespoon of olive oil, tablespoon of dill and the quarter teaspoon of salt into the bowl. Toss the mixture together with tongs or your hands.
5. Spread the green beans and potatoes out on a baking sheet and place the sheet in the oven. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
6. When the timer goes off move the vegetables around on the pan, tongs help here too. Set the timer for 20 additional minutes. If your green beans look brown, slightly blistered and have shrunk in size when you check the pan you should be good to go.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? I always am... To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat and a picture. Happy weekend!

The excerpt posted on F*ck Yeah Lady Writers of Ann Patchett's Commencement Speech at Sarah Lawrence inspired me to sit still and listen (twice as I started reading something else halfway through the first time) to the linked audio clip. Her advice is witty and wise. Here is a bit: "The secret is finding the balance between going out to get what you want and being open to the thing that actually comes your way."

F*ck Yeah Lady Writers also linked Katie Makkai defining Pretty at a poetry slam. As an almost women's studies minor and a girl/woman it is thought provoking.

I spent hours reading The Pioneer Woman's epic love story. Oh to be swept off your feet! I'm so tempted to get the book and read about the first year now...such a voyeur. How did wait so long?

I love this photo about "making your own path" that my friend Courtney posted to her Google Buzz. She always finds great stuff. She highlighted these adorable baby Polar Bears too.

If you like vintage fashion I recommend bookmarking or following My Vintage Vogue. The site has been around for two years and I'm still constantly starring images in my Google Reader.

BLT & Cupcake Graphs (thanks for delivering the cupcake one to my inbox, Amanda)

Recipes Bookmarked
Amaranth Porridge at NY Times (whole grain breakfast idea!)
Detox Blonde Macarons at Oh She Glows
Fried Red Thai Jasmine Rice with Shrimp at NY Times
Kale Spinach and Pear Smoothie — Joy the Baker
Masala-Stuffed Okra at NPR
No Knead Whole Wheat Honey Sandwich Bread at Baking Bites
Peppermint Patties at Savory Sweet Life
Piña Colada cake
Piña Colada Cupcakes at Cupcake Project (clearly I would like a rum cocktail right now...preferably in a halved coconut like those in the Bahamas for V&R's marital celebration or like those in Salinas, Ecuador)
Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi at Fresh365
Tropical Lemon Cranberry Coconut Chia Bars — Oh She Glows
Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (with lots of variations) at Raspberry Eggplant

Glacier National Park, August 2010

Oh I wish he was touring in/near Richmond!