Today is Presidents Day – Well Happy Birthday Dear Mr. President. Hopefully George loved his birthday week as much as I do. I get to celebrate an entire week with my friends and family who take me out to lunches, dinner, drinks, foot massages, urban floats and long weekend get aways!
This year we celebrated my birthday with our friends Ryan, Rosey, Sam and Sam at beautiful Lake Chelan and started off the celebration in the Muenchen Haus in Leavenworth with Helles (beer) brats and Sauerkraut, a short stop at Cured to stock up on cured salami and prosciutto; followed by an outstanding dinner at Campells at the Lake, and closed the night off with chocolate eruption cake and champagne drinking (magnum size champagne drinking – the Sudore’s don’t do anything small and I LOVE it! You should see the size of the sugar and flour bags I get from Sam!!).
The next morning we walked the little town of Chelan, I scored a beautiful Turquoise birthday ring from Mike made by a local jeweler, played some slots in the Casino, attempted to find some wineries but a person who’s name shall remain undisclosed kept yelling in the backseat: Closed, closed, closed every time we passed by a winery (but that was ok, wine tasting in Chelan is so much better in summer – so a good reason to come back soon), had a nice dinner in a beautiful Italian restaurant and of course ended the night with playing 10,000 and Ryan kept us hydrated with his special Margarita’s. Sunday morning I awoke to a tasty Fijian/American breakfast courtesy of Rosey and Ryan. Why can’t I have birthday every day, I could get used to this style of living :-). Last but not least I got to eat my favorite food on the way home – Schweinshaxe (ham shank) with Sauerkraut in Leavenworth. Thank YOU Rosey, Ryan, Sam, Sam and Schatz for making my birthday so fun and memorable.
The birthday celebration continued the week after with a yummy birthday lunch at Vivo 53, a new Italian Place in Bellevue, which I can highly recommend.
My friend Jenny turned me on to this place and the incredible spicy carrots with yoghurt sauce (plate to the right in the above photo). Believe me these carrots are the cats meow, I mean come on how good can carrots really be you say to yourself, well these would make it onto my list of things to fly in to my home if I would be really really rich and live somewhere else than Bellevue and had a hankering for Mediterranean food (added to the “fly in list” would be the chocolate croissants from a tiny bakery in a tiny town called Bolinas close to San Fran and my parents Bavarian Dish called “Shopperle”).
The eating and celebration continued with Christy’s birthday which follows exactly one week after mine and we enjoyed a fun night out at Pearls with great food, drinks and conversation and are enjoying our birthday foot massages today.
Besides all the birthday celebration I was busy with conferences, departmental re-orgs and our team offsite which all led to getting up at ungodly times (everything prior to 7:00 am is ungodly early to me ;-)) and coming home late. So for this weekend the plan was to lay low, sleep in and spend some time relaxing with cooking and baking. A new Chicken Enchilada dish was born, followed by Blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes and Valentine Sugar cookies. Unfortunately NO pictures because that stuff was either devoured in seconds or flew out of the house in minutes to ensure other folks eat 10,000 calories of goodies! The result of all my baking activities are 10 more pounds that I have to spin off my belly in the next coming weeks during spinning class but it was all worth it because I received the most amazing marzipan truffles (made by Chef Nicole), wrapped in handmade mail boxes (made by Artist Paige) and a hand painted Valentines card (made by Artist Peyton) for all the goodies we shared with the Sudore’s. Nothing comes even close to handmade presents from your kids – well in this case my “part time kids”.
So that you have an idea who I am talking about…a family shot from New Years.. – oh Peyton is missing…so I am adding on a second shot from Mike’s birthday a year ago that also shows little Peyton :-). .I just realized I didn’t even post New Years pictures..well here you go..as always it was a blast celebrating New Years with our friends and 10 MILLION fireworks, at least that’s how it felt.
After all this celebrating and reading about food, are you ready for some monkey bread? Seriously, monkey bread? There is nothing breadish about this, its definitely more cake than bread and monkey, doesn’t that always get connected with bananas? No bananas in this cake. I’ve heard about monkey bread but was never compelled to bake it, it just looked brown and ultra gooey to me, not really compelling. But it was Valentines day and mein Schatz asked me to make monkey bread.
WOW, what a surprise, once again the ugliest looking food actually tastes the best! This is eaten best 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven. Its better than cinnamon rolls, tastes almost like it, you pretty much only have the good moist part of the cinnamon roll in this cake – the ooey gooey soft and squishy cinnamon roll part. Delicious! I read you can make it with canned biscuits but I went through the exercise of making my own dough and it was heavenly. I did dip every ball in melted butter and then in a cinnamon sugar mix but think next time I will just throw the balls into a bag with the cinnamon sugar and pour the butter over the balls while I am layering the balls into the Bundt pan. This will a) make the cake less sweet and b) more moist. I loved it the way it was but then again, I am a cinnamon-sugar addict and like things a little bit less gooey. Most folks though are the exact opposite, so either way it will taste great.
Monkey Bread – serves 10
- 1 package (2 and 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (110F-115F)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 and 1/4 cups warm milk
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-2 cups of melted butter, depending on how “gooey” and buttery you like it
- 1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream (or milk for a less creamy texture)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Make the dough: In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water, add 1 tablespoon of sugar and mix it all up. Let it sit for about 2 minutes, the idea is to activate the yeast. If your mixtures foams, its good yeast, if it doesn’t foam, throw it away and start over with new yeast (from a different package/jar). In a mixing bowl combine the milk, melted butter, sugar, eggs, salt, 5 cups of flour and add the yeast mixture to the mixing bowl. Knead on medium speed for 3 minutes (using a dough hook if you have a stand mixer). The dough should come off very clean from the bowl. If its too wet add a little bit more flour. When done, grease a bowl and set the dough ball into the bowl, turn it over a couple of times so that its covered in oil, cover and set at a warm place for an hour or until dough has doubled.
- Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl and pour into a Ziploc bag. Melt the butter and mix with 2/3rd cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, set aside.
- Spray a 10-12 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Set aside. Take the dough out of the bowl and knead a couple times. Cut small pieces with a dough cutter/scrapper and roll into balls, about 1.25 inches in diameter. You will need 40-45 balls total, so be modest with their size. Working in batches, drop the balls into the cinnamon sugar bag, shake and coat with the mixture. Then arrange the balls in the Bundt pan as you go. You may need more cinnamon-sugar depending how heavy you coat each ball. While you are layering the balls into the pan, pour a little bit of the butter/brown sugar liquid over each layer, so that when you reach the top of the Bundt pan you have some butter left to pour over the last layer. The idea is to use up the entire butter/sugar mixture throughout the layering of the balls to have an even butter coating. Let everything rest for another 30 minutes so that the balls can puff back up a little bit.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown on top. Cover loosely with foil if the top browns too quickly. Cool for 5-10 minutes and invert onto a large serving plate
- Make the glaze: Simply whisk all of the glaze ingredients together and pour over the bread. You may either cut the bread into generous slices or let everyone pick off the gooey pieces themselves.
- Monkey bread tastes best served on the same day, but will stay fresh for 3 days if stored covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator and you just heat it up for 15 seconds in the microwave.
P.S. Speaking of birthdays – Congratulations Rosey and Ryan to a soon to be newly celebrated birthday!