Almost 4 months ago, the most adorable pup came into my life. [Her human, Ryan, is also v good.] Her name is Isabella. She is a miniature golden retriever and quite possibly the happiest pup in the world. We go shopping, we lunch, we play at the dog park. Every Tuesday when I'm off, it's Bri and Bella's day of fun and it's my favorite day of the week.
Last night, Ryan took Bella and me to watch A Dog's Purpose at the drive-in. Yes, we went to the drive-in so Bella could come, obviously. Why would we watch that movie without her? That's just silly. There has been a lot of controversy over this movie, but I really liked it. It was like an emotional rollercoaster of happy, sad, and everything in between. Luckily, Ryan and Bella were there to comfort me.
Obviously there is no replacement for Cooper. He was my good pup after all. However, when I hug Bella, when she licks my face, and when she sleeps on my head like a hat, I feel things. I feel like Cooper doesn't want me to be sad. I feel like Bella is here to remind me how much more love I have to give.
Yes, it has been many months since my last entry. Partially my fault, but actually I was having some technical difficulties. This is what happened. One day, my computer was working. The next day, it would not boot up. Instead I was tortured by a grey screen that would eventually power off to black. So that was great. But seriously, not really. Naturally, I freaked out because [of course] I committed the ultimate "no no". Nothing on my computer was backed up. I should know better. After all, I did work at tech support once upon a time in college. Plus, I have a history of owing computers that fail at all the wrong times. The old notes and assignments from dental hygiene school I could definitely do without. But the thought of losing all my pictures and videos of my dear Cooper was the absolute worst. Honestly, I cried. I would think about it and cry. It was v bad.
My first instinct was to call Apple support. They led me through a series of steps, in which they concluded there was something wrong with my hard drive. I was then instructed to schedule an appointment at the Genius Bar. Guy at the Genius Bar confirmed that my hard drive was indeed the problem. Because Apple does not do data recovery, they suggested I first see a third party business to take care of that before replacing my hard drive.
Well, it's a good thing I know smart people who could help me instead. Long story [kind of] short, everything is now backed up on an external hard drive, my computer's hard drive is wiped clean and updated with new software, and all is right with the world again.
So, here I am. You have missed out on a lot of good food, adventures [mostly Warriors basketball games] and puppy playdates [with the new pup in my life, Bella]. I hope to catch you up or possibly just pick up from where I left off. But, most importantly, I am back and alive and life is great.
My sister is in town, visiting from NYC, for a week. She arrived on Friday, but we planned to go hiking on Sunday since I requested the day off. On Sunday, Kaitlyn, my sister, and I went on a little adventure to San Francisco. Yes, adventure is definitely the correct word. There were a lot of missed turns and re-routes involved. Shocker. I'm really bad with direction. I will get to my destination eventually. It just may take me longer than the average human. We headed to the Presidio, hiked a few trails, and hung out at Baker Beach. It was pretty foggy but still a nice, relaxing spot to chill out for the day.
We also climbed the stairs of death. Seriously, it is actually worse than it appears. It is not only steep but, as you get closer to the top, the logs disappear into the sand and you are basically climbing uphill and sinking in sand all at the same time. Once we reached the top, that was our cue for food. That was enough exercise for one day. Let's be honest, I only suggested hiking so I could feel less guilty about eating all the fries after.
We headed back to Walnut Creek to meet up with my long-lost roomie slash dental hygiene BFF, Alexis. She was craving a burger and I'm always in the mood for fries. Lex suggested this new spot called Broderick's, which coincidentally happened to be the same restaurant Kaitlyn and I said we wanted to try when we passed by a few days ago. Well, that worked out.
I got this burger that had mac 'n cheese, bacon, and crispy fried onions in it. Like woah. It comes with fries, salad, or something else I can't remember because obviously I stopped listening after fries. There's an option to upgrade the fries-- like chili fries, garlic fries, etc etc. But I'm a basic bitch and don't usually like all that crap on my fries. Oh yeah, I topped off this heart attack meal with a vanilla milkshake that was custardy and delicious. It was a fun lunch with some of my favorite people.
We all went back to my and Lex's place and had puppy time. I asked my friend if I could watch the pup for a night. My mom went to pick up the Smokey while we were out and met up with us later for the puppy handoff. He got a little bigger since we played last week. Ugh. But still, this guy knows he's the cutest with his puppy rolls and all. He has so much energy but when he gets tired he looks even more adorable.
I am obsessed. We're friends. He finally has a harness, leash, and learning to potty outside. I have also been trying to teach him some commands. He knows sit really well but still working on stay, come, and lay down.
I had to meet up with Crystal, Smokey's owner, on Monday night. And this is what his face looked like when I told him he had to go home. Saying "goodbye" to this face is the hardest thing.
Miss you already, little one. Can't wait until our next play date.
If you are still reading my blog, then you probably weren't freaked out by the semi-emotional breakdown in my last post. The truth is that I am human; I have real feelings beyond all the food and sparkle in my life. I wanted to preface this post with yesterday's, so I could explain what happened last weekend.
Dogs just make everything better. This I know for sure. Since losing Cooper, I have gone through phases of never wanting another pup (to prevent future devastation) and wanting every pup in sight. But, I would consider myself a rational person. And I would never take on the responsibility of my own pup without knowing one hundred percent that I could give him all my attention. With my busy work schedule, this just isn't a good time. So, I had to consider the next best option. Luckily, I have a friend who will give me all the puppy playdates necessary to mend my broken heart. An adorable pup just came into my life. This is him.
Meet Smokey. He is an eleven-week-old blue-nosed pitbull and the new guy in my life. My friend Kaitlyn and I decided we wanted [slash needed] a puppy sleepover. So, Smokey came home with us on Monday night. We played, played some more, and I took tons of pictures to document every moment with him. These are a few.
I obviously was not going to have a puppy sleepover without being prepared. I bought Smokey a little blue squeaky koala and he loves it. By love, I mean he chews it to death. Still, I think deep down it's all love and teething. Kaitlyn and I were exhausted after our pupsitting adventure, but it was totally worth it. Puppy time is the best time (Well, maybe aside from no pants time). On Tuesday, we dropped him back off before my late afternoon shift at Anthropologie. And that was kind of it. I was sad to let him go (definitely sadder than if it were a real human child). Although it was only for one night, this pup just made me so happy. I can't really explain it, but puppy time is literally everything right now.
On March 18, 2016, I felt the worst pain I've ever experienced in my life. I woke up to find my family's golden retriever had passed away overnight. At 5:30 a.m. that day, I was completely dazed in shock as my parents and I carried the pup to the trunk of the car. In tears, we each said goodbye to our beloved Cooper. I then got ready, drove to work, and went about my day- trying extremely hard to hold it together as I cleaned people's teeth.
My name "Brianna" means strong and that's who I've always had to be in order to protect myself. So, when bad things happen, I tend to internalize it all. I don't like to be sad, hurt, or upset (let alone show it). No one really does, but I am probably the worst at handling it. In fact, I have a tendency to find any and all distractions to move forward. I've built all these walls in order to avoid allowing myself to be consumed by these emotions. I figured it was just easier and better that way. What I've learned over the past 4 months since I lost Cooper is that I am actually broken. In one day, I lost my pup- my brother, my friend, my companion, and a significant piece of my heart- and I am still not okay. I don't think I was properly prepared to deal with this level of heartbreak. I am hoping this will help me heal.
These are all the things I wish I could say to you. I am sorry if I ever took any of our moments for granted. You were almost 12 years old, but you always felt like a young pup to me. You came into our lives when I was a junior in high school- still mourning the traumatic passing of my childhood maltese. Yes, you were very handsome, playful, and undoubtedly easy to love. But you were truly the best dog for our family because you were also so loyal and unselfish. You never asked for much and understood that everyone in our family is incredibly busy. I have never met a human (outside my immediate family) greater than you-- one who could love [me] so unconditionally without motive or expectation.
Sometimes, when I am alone, I think of you. I think about how I could bonk your nose a million times and you wouldn't even flinch. I think about how I used to chase you around the kitchen table until you got tired. I think about how I would continue feeding you treats just because I liked the way you ate it out of my hand politely. I think about our times laying out by the pool- you stealing Commando's slippers and us rushing inside whenever the gardeners or pool guy unexpectedly showed up. I think about our car rides to Fresno with your sleepy face resting on my lap. I think about all these things when I am alone. It's not that I don't want others to know how special of a pup you were to me, but it honestly hurts so badly to remember that you are gone, that these memories are all I have left.
But what I really want to say is " thank you". By nature, I have a lot of love to give. I genuinely want people to be happy and I will bake or do whatever to try to facilitate that. [You know this already since you would stay up with me as I frequently baked like a Keebler elf throughout the night.] However, because of this, I tend to attract people who take advantage of my heart and you've seen how this has affected me.
I do not take any of my relationships lightly. I know I am a good person and a good friend. In fact, I would most definitely stand up for a friend who's being bullied [check] and even go so far as to rally to bail a friend out of county jail no questions asked [check]. At times, I may even go too far to protect the people in my life. The crazy thing about this world is that there has to be some kind of balance. And with that said, sometimes what I have to give is never going to be enough. There will be people who try to bring others down with them. There will be people who selfishly think their problems are the only ones that exist. Everyone has problems, but it's how we deal with them that defines our character. I've finally accepted that there is only so much I can do. I can't change anyone and that is never my intention. But I also don't want anyone changing me. Often, I find myself so concerned with making others feel better that I allow myself to take on the burden of their pain, hurt, and sadness.
Thank you for showing me what kind of love I deserve. The best kind of love is the one you know is always there regardless of distance or the amount of time you have together. There is no drama, guilt, or hurt inflicted in real love. When I boldly state that dogs are better than most humans, I am referring to you. I would choose you over everyone. You brought so much joy to my life and I will never forget you. I know how much you loved me, because I still love you just the same.
Oh hi first day off in seven days. Even though I usually have to work over the weekend, I am becoming more and more fond of having my random Tuesday free. Although I wish I had a Tuesday companion, I embrace the quality Bri time that consists of no pants, baking, and whatever else my heart desires.
Last night after work, I was staring at a container full of strawberries in my refrigerator. I first thought about making some kind of berry crisp. I got these really cute ramekins from Crate and Barrel that I haven't even used yet. [Not okay.] But then I thought- who the hell is going to eat my berry crisp? It's the best straight out of the oven with a scoop of ice cream on top. However, it's not easily shareable and it honestly doesn't hold up that well.
So then I decided to go with Plan B: toaster pastries. I have made these a few times and it's a little time consuming but, in my opinion, worth it. Step one was to use the strawberries to make a strawberry-cranberry jam. Jam is actually super easy to make. I just put the strawberries, cranberries, and sugar in a pot on the stove and heat it up for a long time on medium heat. While it cooks, I make sure to stir periodically and mash up the berries once they have softened. When the pectin starts to develop and creates a more gelatinous consistency, I then add some lemon zest and let it cook some more. I don't use any fancy equipment like a cooking thermometer. [Sidebar- I don't even own one of those.] My suggestion is follow a recipe if you've never made jam before and go from there. And it's all about trial and error. You will eventually understand your preferences (more tart, more sweet, etc.) and adjust for future jam-making. I must confess; I have had many kitchen failures. I may have succeeded in keeping this secret, because I only post things that are up to my standard of pretty, cute and perfect. But the fails definitely do happen, too. The goal is to learn from each experience and try to avoid making the same mistake twice. [This also applies to life. Although, I am definitely better in the kitchen than in life. ] Anyway, my telling sign that the jam has cooked enough is if it can coat the back of a spoon. If it does that, it should be done. It is important to let the jam cool. As it cools, it will also thicken further. I allowed it to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes or so in the saucepan. Then I transferred it to a container and popped it in the refrigerator overnight.
Today I woke up, ready to be on my baking mission. I had this pie crust dough that comes in a box from Trader Joe's in my freezer. Why I have that in my freezer, I have no idea. If you know me, I tend to make most of my food from scratch and do pretty much everything the hard way. So, I pondered actually using the pie crust or just making a dough from scratch. Then, lightbulb. I could make this a segment for my blog. I will call it: HOMEMADE OR FAUX-MADE? This is for the people who wonder if everything is actually better from scratch. Or is it possible to get away with some kind of semi-homemade hack, instead?
For the HOMEMADE OR FAUX-MADE? TOASTER PASTRY EDITION, everything is the same except for the crust. I used the same homemade strawberry-cranberry jam, both egg-washed before baked in the same 350 degrees F oven, same glaze, and same sprinkles. Don't mind the fact that they are not cut identically (clearly not one of my strengths). Are you ready to take a guess?
So here's a homemade and a faux-made side-by-side:
And I'll even bare it down for you...
Do you think you have it figured out?
The correct answer is: homemade on the right, faux-made on the left. I tasted both bare before the glaze and sprinkles. To be honest, they are both equally flaky and reminiscent of a toaster pastry. You could for sure get away with using the frozen pre-made pie crust dough. However, for me, making the dough from scratch was pretty simple. Everything [4 ingredients] gets thrown into a food processor. With the frozen dough, you will have to wait for it to defrost. With the homemade dough, you will have to wait for it to firm up in the refrigerator. Literally a toss up. But if I had to choose, I would say homemade wins.
Working with the frozen dough was just kind of a pain. The frozen pie crust dough from Trader Joe's is rolled up and pre-cut into a circle. So, I had to squish the dough back into a ball and re-roll it out into a rectangle shape. From my experience in working with pastry doughs, you will get the best results if you don't handle it too much. The butter is speckled throughout the dough and, ideally, you want those tender, buttery flaky layers in the crust. Every time you re-work the dough, reform, and roll out again, it compromises the overall product a bit.
If you want to attempt making the dough from scratch, here's the recipe:
Toaster Pastry Dough
(from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch dice
6-8 Tbsp ice water (I ended up using about 9 Tbs)
1. In a food processor, pulse together flour, salt and granulated sugar until combined, about 5 pulses.
2. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 pulses.
3. Add 6 Tbsp of the ice water and pulse 2 or 3 times. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water 1 tsp at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. (I just added 1 Tbsp at a time and it was fine, totaling 9 Tbsp).
4. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide in half and shape each half into a disk. Wrap the disks separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
ASSEMBLY and BAKING
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 dough disk into a rectangle 1/3 inch thick. Use knife to make all sides straight.
2. With knife, divide large rectangle sheet in half lengthwise and then make cuts in the opposite direction to make smaller rectangles.
3. Make an egg wash by beating one egg and 1 tsp water in a bowl. Brush edges of each small rectangle with egg wash. Place half onto the parchment lined sheet. Add jam to center of those on the sheet, making sure not to overfill. Top with another small rectangle piece. Crimp edges with fork and brush egg wash on the tops of each.
4. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden, rotating the baking sheet in the oven halfway through baking. Let the pastries cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
5. Glaze and top with sprinkles as desired.
Pastries in bed. Yes, please. Nom.
Happy 4th of July! This weekend was the perfect balance of outdoors time and stuffing my face with food.
Saturday started with a hike at Muir Woods, then lunch in Sausalito by the water. Nothing beats being outdoors and breathing in the crisp air. The next hiking spot is already planned and I couldn't be more excited. I have lived in the Bay Area for most of my life and I am slightly embarrassed to admit that, crazy enough, I have not explored or adventured a lot. Between school and work, I never had time to actually enjoy the beauty of Northern California. My goal is to now see and experience it all, little-by-little.
Sunday, I had to work a mid-day shift at Anthropologie. It was busy-- definitely due to the current Tag Sale and customers frantically shopping for a last-minute July 4th outfit. Because I work five days per week as a dental hygienist, I frequently get asked why I continue working at Anthropologie. Here's the best explanation I can give you. I have been employed at Anthropologie for over three years. Time really has flown by. I remember landing a job at my local Anthro right before getting into dental hygiene school. Back then, I was a little more preppy and only about 70% sparkly. I had zero experience working in fashion retail and hardly knew how to dress the part. Three years later, I am not positive if I truly represent the typical trendy Anthro girl, but I can say that I am more confident in my personal style. Leaving Anthro has crossed my mind because of my busy schedule. But, right now, I am not quite ready to let it go just yet. Yes, I have a large closet full of clothes to show for all my hard work. But more so, I have developed wonderful friendships inside and outside of work with past and present co-workers alike. I have an extended Anthro family forever and I sincerely love that part of my life.
And today, I was on a mission. Every 4th of July, I make some kind of festive treat for the occasion. This year, I went for something simple. By simple, I mean it doesn't even need to be baked. I woke up with a vision, and I like to make my dreams come true. Initially, I thought I could tackle this solo. However, I quickly realized I needed more hands. I enlisted my mom to help me make a whole mess of red, white, and blue chocolate covered patriotic pretzel sparklers. For the record, I compensated her with half the batch because that seemed fair. Although, she did complain the whole time. She kept insisting that she had the harder job of sprinkling the pretzels and balancing each stick in my DIY pretzel stand (probably best not to ask about this). Anyway, happy to report, they turned out just as I envisioned-- super cute, super sparkly, super patriotic. Check, check, and check. When my project was complete, I then proceeded to eat all the BBQ goodness at my parents' house.
I hiked, I worked, I ate. Closed it all out by reuniting with my roomie, who I haven't seen in forever. It's back to cleaning teeth in the morning and working the next seven days in a row. Ugh. Bye long weekend. You were fun. Let's do this again soon.
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I work.. a lot. Between 3 jobs, I usually work 6 to 7 days per week. Most of the time, I am just hoping for that one day off. The dental office is closed for the July 4th weekend, which means no cleaning teeth until Tuesday. I am working at Anthropologie on Sunday, but I am thrilled to have three days of freedom. Most people have a normal Monday thru Friday work schedule and get weekends off. I never do. So this is actually kind of amazing and I never take these rare moments for granted.
When I know I have a day off with nothing in particular planned, I definitely do not set an alarm. However, because I have been programmed to wake up between 5 to 6 a.m. every morning, I naturally wake up early. This morning I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and then forced myself to doze off a bit more. I woke up again at 7:30 a.m. feeling inspired. This really happens. My subconscious is always thinking about food, even more so when I don't have anywhere to be. On days like these, I like to throw my hair up in a bun and walk around with no pants until it becomes inappropriate. The cutoff time is at some point mid-day after brunch.
But anyway, let's talk more about brunch. It's one of my favorite things ever. Brunch is not only on Sundays for me. If I could, I would have brunch everyday. It's the most nonjudgmental meal; you can binge on breakfast or lunch or both and no one cares because it's brunch. Basically, you can do whatever you want. This is America and we love brunch. If you don't like brunch, you should stop reading and we could never be friends.
So, here's how it goes. I look around my kitchen, take a peek inside the refrigerator, and bam- make something happen. I use whatever I have on-hand because I refuse to put on pants to leave the house. Sometimes, all I have are eggs and toast and that's okay. But I also have days where I wake up with an urge to bake. Today was one of those days.
A few weeks ago, I made a Dutch Baby for the very first time. I used the recipe from Chrissy Teigen's Cravings cookbook. How I have not experienced such a glorious ginormous pancake sooner is beyond me. It's all the goodness of an airy pancake but with this crazy custard-like center. I made it and I felt like a newborn baby who opened her eyes and saw the world for the first time. Okay, maybe I took that too far, but it's a little true. This is it.
The Dutch Baby is a brunch game-changer, and I decided to take it further. I often try to put my own twist on food. Sometimes that goes horribly wrong. But when it turns out good, that's when I'll always share it with you. My sweet and savory Dutch Baby is a parmesan and bacon Dutch Baby topped with goat cheese, more bacon, scallions, maple syrup, and a dusting of powdered sugar. The whole milk in my refrigerator was expired but I had half and half, so I used that instead. Using half and half worked and it was still delicious, but it definitely made the Dutch Baby a little more dense. With whole milk you will get more height and airiness. Keep that in mind. Choose to your liking. I probably would have used whole milk but I had to adapt.
Bri's Dutch Baby
Serves 1-4 (depending on level of hunger)
Adapted from Chrissy Teigen's Dutch Baby Pancake recipe via Cravings
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
4 large eggs
1 cup half and half, room temp
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter, melted
8 slices of crispy bacon, crumbled*
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Goat Cheese, for topping (about 2-4 oz. to taste)
Scallions, for topping
Maple syrup, for topping
Powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.
2. Add flour, eggs, half and half, salt, and 2 Tbsp of the melted butter into blender. Mix until smooth, about 20-30 seconds.
3. Stir in parmesan cheese and half the amount of bacon.
4. On the stovetop, heat the other 2 Tbsp melted butter in a 10-in cast-iron skillet on high until foamy. Add batter and immediately place into preheated oven.
5. Bake for 17 to 18 minutes or until deep golden color.
6. Remove from oven and top quickly with goat cheese. Place back into oven for 2 more min.
7. Removed from oven again and top with more bacon, scallions, maple syrup and powdered sugar dusting to your desire.
8. Serve right away while hot. The pancake will deflate as it cools.
*For crispy bacon: First of all, I find it's better and cleaner when it's baked versus cooking it in a pan. Line a large rimmed sheet pan with lots of heavy duty foil. Place slices on foil. Place pan in cold oven. Set oven temp to 425 degrees. Bake for 15-20 min until desired crispiness. Remove pan from oven, and place bacon on paper towel-lined plate. Allow pan to cool, wrap up foil with bacon grease and throw it away.
Brunch was perfection today. Thanks, Chrissy. Now, it's time to take a shower and put on some pants like a good human.
My name is Bri. I bake and wear lots of sparkle.
In 2012, I started a blog called Baubles & Baked Goods. I initially developed the blog due to requests from friends about the food creations I posted on social media. It was a small-time blog , which eventually received steady traffic from a Crispy Sweet Potato Chip recipe that found its way around the internet. Although I was terrible at updating, Baubles & Baked Goods inspired me to experiment and explore my capacity in the kitchen. I was crazy enough to re-create Dominique Ansel's milk and cookie shot, and then went on to stuff a snickerdoodle with jam and coined it a "Jamdoodle". I would like to bring some of that here. As I share recipes, I will eventually compile them onto a recipe page. It will obviously be a work in progress as I rejoin the blogging world, so be patient with me as I get the creative juices flowing.
In regards to the content of my blog, this is what you should know. Disclosure: I do not consider myself an expert on anything-- baking, fashion, life. I mainly blog for me. If you are not interested, feel free to look away. If you are nosey, feel free to stalk away. But if you must stalk, please do not judge me for whatever I may say here. This is my safe space, and I would like to keep it that way.
Welcome to Beyond the B. Let's get this started.
beyond the b | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Copyright © 2016
Copyright © 2016