June links: Birthday edition
Celebrate with me and make my favorite recipes this month.
As we head into summer, I can feel a shift in the way I eat and spend free time. The variety of local produce is expanding by the week and greatly influences the recipes I prepare (both sweet and savory). An abundance of summer squash, sweet corn, and stone fruit make me excited to cook and bake with fresh ingredients (or just eat them out of hand).
Sunset is pushing 10pm up here in the Pacific Northwest. While it’s hard to get the kids to bed while the sun is still out, I’ve been spending more time tending the garden and reading before bed. We can see the sky turn from blue to pink to indigo from the back of our house, so it’s been nice to retreat to our upstairs patio for some quiet time before the nightly Netflix binge.
June is my birthday month. And while I’ll happily share it with dance recitals, end-of-the-year potlucks, Father’s Day, etc, this month’s links are for my dream birthday menu:
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What I’m Eating:
In honor of my birthday, here is everything I want to eat this month:
Lasagna - I made this for New Year’s Eve, and it was everything I could have ever dreamed a lasagna could be. It was the first thing I cooked after Carmen was born. She was about a week old and everything was covered in snow. Even though it’s summer now, I am still craving those comforting layers of noodles and cheese.
Moist Chocolate Cake - As bakers, do you prefer to make your own cake or hope that someone else makes you dessert? I made myself an early birthday cake using this moist chocolate cake recipe. I paired it with apricot jam and a simple whipped buttercream. But there is still time for someone else to deliver on my actual birthday (I like chocolate chip cookies the most - hint hint).
Zucchini Pasta Salad - This is on the birthday list because it is definitely a Tessa dish - meaning, if I make it, then I am basically making it for myself and not the rest of my family. This recipe is so good that I don’t even mind making a second meal for the non zucchini-eating members of my household. Honestly, I’ll eat almost anything Alison makes, especially if the recipe has pasta and makes use of summer squash.
Crispy Chicken Cutlets - Japanese katsu is one of my favorite meals to eat out. If I want something similar at home, then these baked chicken cutlets from Amanda Fredrickson are my go-to. Don’t skip the herby salad topping.
Chocolate Chip Cookies - My favorite CCC is from Ginger Elizabeth in my hometown of Sacramento. My family and I did a taste-test a few years back to compare her cookies with some local Vancouver shops. If I can’t get one from Ginger Elizabeth, then I will gladly accept one from Matchstick Coffee, our second place winner. If not from there, then this recipe is always a winner:
What I’m Reading:
Malibu Rising - Although set on the shores of 1983 Malibu, this isn’t your typical beach read. The story unfolds over a 24-hour period, with flashbacks of the lives of four famous siblings. I enjoyed the complex dynamics between the family members, but could skip the drama from all the side characters.
A Slow Fire Burning - I am still working my way through this one. It hasn’t really sucked me in yet, so I keep putting it down in favor of the easy reads through my library app. If you’ve read this one, please let me know if I need to stick it out.
Smitten Kitchen Every Day - I snag this book every time I see it available at the library. While I’ve cooked many recipes from it over the years, I still enjoy reading Deb Perelman’s anecdotes. For a cookbook, there is a lot of reading material, and the way she writes about food is absolutely captivating. It’s no wonder this long-time food blogger is still a huge fan favorite of home cooks everywhere.
What I’m Listening To:
Hamilton - I was fortunate to see the live show here in Vancouver last weekend. It was everything my musical theater-loving heart could have asked for. My soul was successfully fed after not seeing a live show in years. Until next time, I will go back to listening to the soundtrack and trying to explain to my kids that Lin-Manuel Miranda is the same person that wrote the songs in their favorite movies, Moana and Encanto.
Smashing Pumpkins - As the weather warms up, I’ve been thinking about running again. As a running soundtrack, the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album provides the perfect build up. I am not much of a runner, but I used the first few tracks to help set my pace around Stanley Park when we used to live downtown. My son in heavily invested in clocking steps for his Kilometre Club at school, so hopefully he will let mom tag along.
What to Bake for My Birthday:
Last year’s Vanilla Mascarpone Crepe Cake - Alternating layers of paper thin crepes and vanilla-scented mascarpone filling make up the 25-layer crepe cake that I made for my birthday last year. I’m still dreaming about it.
Raspberry Chocolate Cake - I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday, but I think I might steal it for my own. Insanely moist chocolate cake, tangy raspberry filling, and a bit of Nutella buttercream - it’s so good!
Pecan Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies - I stand by that these are still the best cookies I’ve ever made. The added pecan toffee not only offers a bit of crunch to each bite, but brings out all of those brown sugar and butterscotch flavors that we love so much about chocolate chip cookies.
Boston Cream Pie Donuts - I published the recipe for these a few weeks ago along with some strawberry glazed donuts and cinnamon twists. I admit, the Boston Creams are my favorite. Most things with pastry cream turn out to be my favorite, just saying.
Funfetti Coffee Cake - Let’s not even pretend that this is suitable for breakfast. But when it’s your birthday, why not start the day with a ripple of rainbow and crunchy sprinkle streusel?
Nutella-Stuffed Oatmeal Cookies - With crisp, golden edges and a forever gooey center, the combination of textures makes each bite even more satisfying than the last.