King Cake for Mardi GrasAs you guys are aware, I’m kind of a fan of all things Cajun. Even though I’ve never stepped foot in Cajun/Creole territory in my life – I can’t help but connect to the people, and their quirky ways. From the characters in stories that I’ve read, to the television shows I watch, to some of my favorite foods – I just can’t get enough. My mother in law lived just outside of Alexandria for a few years, and while it wasn’t technically Cajun country, she still found many of the traditions there. One of them was King Cake. She came to visit us around Mardi Gras time a couple of years ago, and brought a King Cake through airport security with her. This woman deserves a medal, no?

When we cut into it to enjoy a piece, I discovered it was very similar to a cinnamon roll. Yeasty bread, that’s been rolled with sweet filling composed of cinnamon-sugar and cream cheese. Then of course there’s the plastic baby that’s tucked inside. If you’re lucky enough to find it, that means you’re cooking the next King Cake! So, I’ve been baking one ever since. Jon actually found the baby in this cake that I baked for photos, but I’m not holding my breath for him to put on his baking mitts and apron. I found my tiny plastic babies in the cake decorating/baby shower aisle at Walmart, but really any trinket will work.

Then the cake is topped with a glaze and a festive, colorful dusting of sugar in the colors of Mardi Gras. I just went ahead and made my own too. At $4 a jar for fancy decorating sugar, granulated sugar + food coloring was sounding pretty good to me! Andrew loves to help me decorate with the sugar, and I love any opportunity that he can help me in the kitchen! This one will definitely be a tradition in our house for as long as my hands can roll up some dough. We love it, and it’s so special  to be able to bring a tradition from the bayous of Louisiana here to the marshes of coastal Maryland. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Fresh Cherry CobblerBing cherries have been popping up in my supermarket for a reasonable price already this year. They’ve been really good too – dark red and firm. Usually, it’s all I can do to restrain myself from eating them all “as-is” – but I do like to bake with them when possible. And muddling is always fun, and there’s no better reward than these fresh cherry margaritas.

A couple weeks ago, I headed over to the Opportunity Shop on the island. It’s a thrift store that is run by one of our local churches. We were at our weekly lunch excursion to Mom’s, and I left the boys with her to walk over to the thrift store, for a few blessed minutes alone. I always find my favorite props and old table linens there. And, on this occasion – I got an awesome stash of cookbooks. 2 of Giada’s cookbooks, an America’s Test Kitchen cookbook (Restaurant Favorites at Home), and also this Wolfgang Puck cookbook. We went home, the boys took a nap, and I enjoyed a cup of tea and my new cookbooks in peace. When I came across Wolfgang’s recipe for fresh cherry cobbler – I knew that it had to happen. I had just enough cherries in the fridge, so I made it for dessert that very night.

It was absolutely delicious. Often with cherry desserts, the flavor is so artificial. Not the case here! Every bite was bursting with the flavor or fresh cherries, only intensified because they’d been baked. And the cobbler topping just soaks up all the juices that were exuded during the baking process. Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it really was Heaven.

My only complaint was the cobbler topping though. Not really a fan of the fact that you roll it out, then cut squares. Next time I’ll probably cut a cute shape out with a cookie cutter. Or maybe just do a crumbled cobbler topping – there’s something about that rustic look that I just love. Regardless, this was a wonderful dessert that I’m definitely looking forward to making again when cherry season is in full swing!

Sausage Gravy & Biscuits

I think Biscuits & Gravy is one of the most comforting of comfort foods. It’s one of the first dishes I started making for breakfast, and even dinner, when first learning to cook. Even when making biscuits from scratch, it’s a meal that comes together quickly. Using simple ingredients, to boot. That seems to be a common thread among my favorite comfort foods.

I always make this for breakfast on those Sunday mornings when the last thing I feel like doing is making breakfast, due to one too many margaritas the night before. And it always makes things right with the world, and my stomach. In the past, I always used canned biscuits, and there’s no shame in that. But, if you have a little bit of time – try making them from scratch. This is a fabulous recipe that I’ve made time and time again, and they always turn out perfect. And, you’ll be beaming with pride – I promise!

I wish I could have made these for Jon this morning for breakfast. With the 49ers loss, he could have used this kind of breakfast to start his day. This one is sure to lift a man’s spirits. But, it was a great game and I say we should still hold up our heads high. Next year, boys! Hopefully a nice steak dinner tonight will help to ease his pain. Now, to see Maryland get painted purple. Congrats to the family in Baltimore!

Quick Vanilla Buttercream

Being a Maryland girl who is married to is married to one of the biggest 49ers fans around, we’re just a wee bit excited about the game tonight. Last year, we hoped against hope that we’d have this matchup – only to be disappointed in the end. But this year, it happened!

Kind of puts me in an odd place, actually. You see, I’m a Redskins fan – born and raised. For a long time, Washington was all we had. When the Ravens came to town (or, back to town – I should say?) I felt like I couldn’t just change my loyalty to a team like that – so for years I’ve kind of hated on them. But, when you’re in a place who’s town is going to the Super Bowl, well you can’t help but soften up a bit. Everyone is wearing their purple, but we here in the Davis house are proudly rocking our red and gold (which is incidentally the Redskins colors too). It’s been fun jabbing all the Ravens fans, and showing our support in the heart of the so-called “Ravens Nation”. frostyBut, I have to say I’d be happy to see either team win. Both have had a terrific season, and the fact that they are brothers? So cool. So, I had to do something extra-special to mark the occasion. And, what better way to do that than with cupcakes? I did a standard red velvet with cream cheese frosting for the 49ers, glazed with some gold dust, then topped with a #7 for our star quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. I ran across the idea for these “kaepcakes” last week, and thought they were so cute! They turned out great. For the Ravens cupcakes, I did a simple chocolate cupcake and topped with an even simpler buttercream frosting – with white and gold embellishments, and a royal icing football on top. They’re very festive, and didn’t take much time. Will make a great centerpiece on our munchie table tonight!

This quick buttercream frosting is my go-to standard frosting. A few ingredients, and you’ve got a homemade frosting that will crush anything that comes from a can. I hope you all enjoy game day, and have some great food in your future today! Go Niners!