I got a little ambitious the other week with some almost-too-ripe pineapple and the good deal of baking things we have amassed over the months we've been living without hungry mouths to feed (aka, no more twenty-something guys hanging out at our house begging us to bake things). I'd never made an upside-down cake and Oh, Ladycakes made it look like too much fun to pass up. I'm forever in awe of her recipes: how simply put yet how carefully measured and planned. Just follow her. Forget my blog when it comes to food, just go see hers. The only differences I talk about are the fact that I can't find half the ingredients and have to worry about the tiny-ness of my oven. Moving on...

This cake, though made due to the necessity of keeping the pineapple from going bad (the rest of which made a few delicious popsicles), was the perfect goodbye to summer. Since this recipe Katie and I have made several fall treats and hopefully some good enough to make it up here before the (short) season is over. For a first try, I'd say it turned out pretty well! Here's how I did it in Thailand.

- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
- About 2 cups of pineapple slices
- Triple-berry preserves
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 3/4 teaspoons almond extract
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice

Preheat oven 350º degrees.

Finding fresh raspberries in SEA in the summer is pretty much impossible. And even though strawberries were my second choice, I didn't feel like forking over $9 for one little package. So I went to the jam aisle and grabbed a little jar of triple-berry preserves and used those instead. Unsure how they would bake in this cake, I'm happy to say that they worked just fine and gave a pretty good kick in the middle of all that pineapple.

I cut thin slices of the fruit chunks we had left over, laid a silicone mat in the only pan we have for baking (around 9x13, but you can use any size, the only difference will be your cake's thickness), and after greasing the pan with the coconut oil, I sprinkled in the brown sugar and laid the pineapple in, filling any little gaps with a spoonful of the jam.

Setting the pan aside, I made the batter. Mixing some of the dry ingredients first I combined the flour, salt, baking powder and soda. After this I got a separate bowl to combine the corn starch and the sugar, mixing the coconut oil in with it until it's all mixed and slushy-looking. Add the almond extract, eggs and pineapple juice and keep mixing. Take two thirds of the dry mixture and combine it with the wet ingredients. Then use a spatula to stir in the remaining third. Once well combined, pour the batter over the pineapple in the pan (make sure you tap it on the counter a couple times so it can get all the way to the bottom and between the fruit).

Bake at 350º for about 38 minutes give or take a few, then remove from the oven and cover with a towel for another 20 minutes to keep the steam in. Flip your cake over onto a wire rack and transfer to another plate if you wish after an hour.

Usually you'll store this baby at room temperature for two days, but I kept mine for three via the refrigerator. The folks who helped me eat it on Thursday night say it tasted great, but it was definitely best the afternoon I pulled it out of the oven. Bye, Summer, you were great.


Moving overseas has been a challenge in the food department. Our pantry is full, but we seldom make dinner at home (If you could get a great dinner for $1.50 at a restaurant in walking distance from your house, you wouldn't cook either). Baking, though, has been a challenge, but not because of time or money. The oven we have is similar to a toaster oven. We make eggs in a microwave because getting our stove to work is an ordeal. I can't really find whole wheat flour and the real good baking stuff I used at home in the grocery store here. So it's been fun. There's no question about it, though, I have been baking.

I actually had the chance to bake some the first week I arrived here, and I got a message from my mom not long after that said, "Oh! You're baking! That says a lot about the state of you."

These hand pies are loosely based (or tightly based, based on what I could scrounge up in Thailand) on the Oh, Ladycakes recipe for the dessert of the same name. I am allergic to raw apples, so I enlisted the help of my hypo-allergenic roommate to chop up these babes for me. We were so excited to find Granny Smith here in the Land of Smiles. What we couldn't get in whole wheat we made up for in tart fruit.

Here's the ingredients list as I was able to forage:

- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
- 12 to 14 tablespoons water, ice cold

- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 medium Granny Smith apples, chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup caramel sauce (I used Monin caramel-flavored sauce)

- Almond milk
- Sugar

Preheat oven 350º degrees.
Makes about 20 pies, but really, it depends on how you make the dough stretch. 

Crust In a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar and salt. I used a fork, but a whisk is probably best. Drizzle in the coconut oil, one spoonful at a time, and use your hands to mix it into the dry mixture. Once you've added all the oil, continue mixing for another minute or so until it looks sandy like above. Freeze for 15 minutes, then break up all the frozen chunks of coconut oil with your fingers and add the water, a third at a time. Continue gently kneading without overworking the dough. Form into a disk and wrap in parchment paper. Let sit for about 45 minutes.

Filling Combine sugar, starch and cinnamon in a bowl. In another mixing bowl, toss the apples and lemon juice, then add the dry mixture you just made until the apples are covered. Add the caramel sauce. Chill them in the fridge for about half an hour, you may want to freeze them if you are using a caramel that is on the thinner side. Let's not try to make a mess.

Crust When it's time, go ahead and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lay out some parchment paper and sprinkle that junk with a ton of flour. Unwrap the dough and roll it out until it’s about 1/8″ thick. I used a mug because I haven't found a rolling pin here and I could also use it as a makeshift cookie cutter. Cut the dough (3" cutter will do) and transfer the pieces to a baking sheet lined with more parchment paper. Collect scraps and roll out the dough again to make more circles. Get the caramel apple mixture from the refrigerator and place a bit on one half of each round, folding each in half and pressing around the edges (use a fork, it's way easier to seal the pies this way).  Use a toothpick or some other sharp tool of your choosing and poke holes in the top of each pie. Do this or they will explode, and that will not be good for you.

Topping Brush (I just dabbed it, honestly, because it's impossible to find a cooking brush here) with milk then sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350˚F for 20 minutes, check them and then give them a minute or two more if you think they need it (they won't be brown, but you can tap the crust to see if it's firm and dry). Repeat with the rest of the dough that you have. These can stay good for about week.

I made these for Thanksgiving at the office, and let me tell you: I am so glad I ate one of them when I baked 'em, 'cause they were gone in a hot minute.


Let's get one thing straight. I'm no chef. I have a hard time cooking chicken and I struggle getting vegetables to a good temperature without using a microwave. However, when I do find a great recipe that I somehow fail to screw up time and time again, I have to share.


This chocolate chip cookie recipe is by far the best I have ever tasted. I've made these several times over the past two years from a dough meant for Oreo cookies–you know, the kind that put you in a coma after just one. I have never made these and had anyone dub them less than amazing.

First things first. You'll need:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 generous tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven 350º degrees.
Makes 24-32 cookies.

Cream the softened butter, white and light brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer until well-combined. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla.

Be sure the butter is way way softened. I've used ghee from the pantry before and that worked extremely well since it's super soft. Also, I've been short on brown sugar a time or two. I just mix a tablespoon of unsulfered molasses or King's syrup into a cup of sugar. Voilà! Easy as pie (which is music to my microwave-meal ears). Well, you have to take a fork and really go to town on it. Churn the mess outta that sugar and you'll have some light brown lumpy stuff. It takes time, but it'll work.

In another bowl mix the flour, baking soda and salt. I like to use a whisk to get things really evenly distributed. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until just combined. Add the chocolate chips.

Form the dough into golfball-sized portions and place on a prepped cookie sheet. You can use parchment paper or a good ol' can of PAM, but I like to use coconut oil. Place in the oven for 13 minutes, then cool in the pan for about eight. You can continue to cool them, but at this point the cookies are perfectly warm and soft, great for a scoop of ice cream or a cold glass of milk. Be prepared to have your mind/taste buds blown, and remember I never said that just because there aren't any Oreos here doesn't mean these won't send you into a sugar coma after just one.