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Monday, November 7, 2011

The Recipe Box

I have this recipe box. I've been adding to it over the past decade. Sometimes I'll come up with a new recipe, or alter one I find in a cookbook, but mostly it's filled with recipe cards that others have given me. Mostly from family members. Several from the oldest generation of family members. There's something about moving in with a guy, getting married, buying a house, traveling along life's path- that inspires the elders to bless you with their treasured creations of edible love, in the form of hand-written ingredients and instructions on a small piece of cardstock.

I've never removed any recipes from the recipe box. I also haven't made very many of them. The ones I invented went into the box and sort of fell into oblivion. Some of the ones given by the elders just seem outright disgusting to me. And the ones I remember and look for are usually impossible to find. I think of myself as a pretty organized person, but my organizational skills stop at the box. For example, if I'm looking for the recipe for "Bill's Potato Soup", it could be under "B", "P", "S", or any letter next to those. It's laughable, really, if you happen to be in a good mood while searching.

So, in one of those laughable moments, my husband gave me the dangerous idea of making everything in the recipe box and blogging about it. I thought about that, and decided this might actually be a good way to toss out the recipes I will never make, despite the thoughtfulness of loved ones gifting their treasured recipes to us; and I might re-discover those recipes I created and then forgot about immediately after creating them.

This also might work well with "The Meal Plan". I'm sure you've heard of this idea, maybe you've even tried- and failed- at it! The idea is to write down all the recipes you want to make in the week, then make a grocery list of what you need to make these recipes, then buy them all in one successful trip to the store, and spend every night with a home cooked meal! It sounds like a fabulous idea, and I admit- if I know what we are planning to have for dinner, we are a lot more likely to actually make the effort to cook it (especially if it doesn't involve a quick run to the grocery store between 5-6 pm when everyone else is doing the same thing!) BUT- realistically, The Meal Plan works for about a week, usually more like 2-3 days and then it tends to fail for various reasons. At least, in my experience. But- now I have a new idea! This week for dinner- things from the S section of the recipe box! What do you want for dinner? Salmon, squash, scallops, salad or a recipe from my friend Shay? (remember? organizational skills+recipe box=zero)

Some rules:
I do not have a deadline for this. That would be ridiculous.
I am not going in order. For example, I am starting with "S" because we are in winter squash season. And I will post each letter as a separate blog (maybe some in two parts, there are an awful lot of things in the "C" category).
I am allowed to alter the recipes as I make them. I thought about this for awhile, and I decided that normally I would totally change recipes to make them more likely to be used again. Also, I don't even know how to find stuff like oleo in the store.
And finally, I will only keep it in the box if there is a remote chance that I will make it again. This will allow me more space for future creations!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thai Spice

1210 S. Gilbert St.
Iowa City

I went to this place for my 30th birthday and it's been a couple of years since I've been back. I now realize I made a mistake. The food is great, the service is great, and the prices are reasonable.
I got #7, under the "stir fry" section of the menu, but I didn't try to remember the title of it. It came w/ rice noodles, broccoli, fresh basil, onions and you can choose chicken, pork, or (probably) beef. I asked if I could get tofu, and they said yes. That was an excellent request, the tofu was fabulous! And the spiciness was just right. I had a small amount of leftovers, which were just as good reheated.
Hubby got something under the "curry" section of the menu that came in a clay pot. Translation: it's going to come scalding hot and not be cool enough to eat until your partner is almost done with her meal. Translation: you will probably eat half of your partner's meal while you wait for yours to cool causing her to only have a small amount of leftovers. His meal came with rice, lots of veggies and chicken, plus 3 shrimp. I think it was those 3 shrimp that made it more expensive. $12.75 for him, $9.75 for me. His was good, but we both agreed mine was much better.
We also got a-cho for an appetizer. No, it didn't make me sneeze. It was an egg roll stuffed with veggies, and it was scalding hot. If we get it again, we will tear each in half and let the steam evaporate from them before beginning to eat them. Which is not an easy thing to do when you are sitting there starving.
Hubby got tea which we were not charged for, bonus!
The women's bathroom is nice & neat, no complaints. The restaurant has a great atmosphere, and a room where you can sit on pillows (you have to reserve it). The tables are like the ones at Masala, colorful table cloths with glass on top.
Environmentally: cloth napkins, reusable plates, but styrofoam to go containers.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

El Banditos

327 East Market Street
Iowa City's Northside District

Last night we finally gave this new Mexican restaurant a try. Being big fans of La Reyna, it was hard to go elsewhere for Mexican food. I heard the nachos are good at El Banditos, but when you get free chips & salsa, it's hard to order nachos. The chips were not very good. One was so chewy I had to spit it out. The salsa was also not nearly as good as La Reyna's homemade salsa.
I ordered the "Green Gigantic" which was definitely green, but hardly gigantic. Filled with veggies in a spinach tortilla, it was pretty tasty, and cost $9. Hubby got the "Street Burrito" which comes with meat for $8, without meat for $7 and with a cream sauce for an extra $2. He got the chicken with the cream sauce, and I'm here to tell you, splurging on that extra $2 is worth it. That sauce is tasty! His burrito was much bigger than my "gigantic" and it was very good. We requested some hot sauce, and the waiter brought out a very good homemade habenero sauce that was a little sweet and reminded me of Scotch Bonnet sauce.
They have some decent beers on tap, John's White, Fat Tire, XX, all for $4.
The bathrooms are interesting. After walking down a long, desolate hallway, you'll find the women's bathroom with so much room they have a chair (in case you bring a guest with you?) However, the toilet wobbles when you sit on it. The men's bathroom apparently starts off level, then the floor angles down, so that the toilet is tilted. Maybe you should avoid these restrooms if you've been drinking a lot.
Environmentally: paper napkins, reusable plates. Not enough food for leftovers, so I don't know what they use.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cake #13: ATF Gingerbread

I was more excited about this one than the last one, because:
1. It calls for crystallized ginger, and Molly got me started with crystallized ginger, which I love.
2. It calls for cream cheese frosting w/ ginger, which sounded interesting!
Similar to cake #12, this one should be re-named molasses cake, it calls for 1 cup of molasses. It also calls for 1 cup of dark beer, so be careful measuring if you have homebrewed munich dunkel which happens to be over-carbonated.

In the book, Melissa mentions that crystallized ginger can be quite spendy. I found some at Hy-Vee in the produce aisle next to the bagged nuts for a pretty good price. And, liking ginger, I measured the 1/2 cup of chopped ginger pretty liberally.
She also says to add the egg, molasses & beer all at once. That just seemed like too much work, so I added them separately, letting the molasses slowly pour in while the kitchen aid was spinning away.
The cake baked for 50 minutes and after letting it cool in the pan for 15, it came out of my well-buttered cake pan pretty well. It helps to let it cool for 15 minutes first, because I put a plate on top, flip it over, then flip it onto the cooling rack. Doing this involves touching it with my bare hands, and getting burned fingers could potentially cause a not-so-perfect looking cake.
This was a pretty easy cake to make, I'm getting the idea that most gingerbread cakes are pretty easy. And tasty!
Next, I made the gingery cream cheese frosting, which the author pulled from a community cookbook by the Gideon Sunday School Class of Providence Baptist Church in Gloucester, Virginia. Gotta love the variety of resources! It's pretty simple: cream cheese (I used neufchatel because I always do), butter, vanilla, powdered sugar & ground ginger. Which means this "ginger" bread cake has a teeny little bit of ginger powder in the frosting and some crystallized ginger chunks in the cake. When licking the knife after spreading the frosting, one doesn't really taste too much ginger. I think you could use more if you're a ginger fan.
I would rename this cake: Molasses Beer Cake with Ginger Chunks. I think that would go faster at a potluck. Plus, ATF stands for Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms- something to do w/ beer and ginger. But there's no tobacco in the cake, so a re-name is necessary.
Next time I will try 1/2 white flour and 1/2 wheat flour. I do 1/2 & 1/2 with the flours in most things I make. But with the cake book, I'm trying to follow the exact recipe before I experiment. And on this recipe, Melissa notes that she made a double batch using white & wheat flour, and Ari Shapiro called it "rustic in a good way". I would listen to Ari Shapiro if I were you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cottage Bakery

Corner of E. Benton & Gilbert St., Iowa City
March 14, 2011

This is the place that moved from Linn St. just east of downtown to Gilbert St. a couple of years ago. On Linn St., there were plenty of seats, and it was in a much larger space. So, when I walked there for lunch (never having been there before) I expected to be able to sit and eat there. There are 2 benches next to a coffee table, but it felt odd eating there. Plus, there was no bathroom or place to wash my hands before I ate.
The menu consists of sandwiches for $6, wraps for $6.50, paninis and soup (I'm not sure how much those are). I chose the Mexi-wrap in a spinach tortilla, which included black bean hummus, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, green peppers, black olives, lettuce, sour cream and salsa. It tasted pretty good, with an impressive spiciness! It came in a bag and I asked if I could eat it there. They then offered me a plate. I opened the wrap, which was wrapped in wax paper, then cut in half, so I had to pull some pieces of wax paper out of the food. It was also wrapped a little on the loose side, so it ended up being kind of sloppy. I would have liked to wash my hands again when I was done eating, but I made do w/ some napkins. When I ordered, I asked if I could have some water. The refrigerated items were pointed out to me which included cans of pop and bottled water. Having just seen the documentary Tapped, I didn't want to buy a bottle of water, so I asked if they had anything else. She said they have tap water, so I said fine. Then I saw the price go up. I asked if there was a charge for tap water, and I was told yes, $.50. I cannot remember the last time someone charged me for tap water! Not even filtered! Negative points there.
Environmentally: Not good. The water came in a disposable cup with a plastic lid, the wrap came in wax paper in a paper bag, they sell bottled water and tap water seems to be a special order. Paper napkins, disposable coffee cups (but- they are paper and not styrofoam, which is a plus).
All in all, the food was good and I might go there again, if I want something to go and I'm bringing my own reusable bottle of water.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cake #12: Ginger Bread Cake

On March 7, I made the next cake in the All Cakes Considered cookbook. I didn't know what to expect with a ginger bread cake, since I haven't had much ginger bread in my life. But, the recipe was fairly easy and it ended up being mostly molasses. It should probably be called Molasses Cake with Ginger. I was going to a potluck, so I made 2 cakes- doubling the recipe and pouring the batter into 2 round cake pans, which worked fine. But I have learned that when you go to potlucks, desserts are among the most popular foods to bring, so your healthy looking plain brown cake is competing with things like brownies and pie and stuff with chocolate frosting and nuts! Not much got eaten, and having a whole cake at home, we took some to work. My co-workers only had positive things to say about the cake, and really, it is pretty good!

When doubled, the recipe calls for a cup of boiling water (I'm not sure why). It might not sound like much, but when you add it to the kitchen aid with all the other ingredients in there, you'll want to start the machine of really slowly to avoid a big mess!

Each cake calls for a stick of butter, and I think substituting applesauce would change the texture. The cake is best eaten about 1/2 hour out of the oven, the middle is warm and the "crust" is cripsy. It would be great with whip cream or ice cream. After it's room temp, you kind of lose the crispy crust, but it is still good, I don't know if a frosting would help it or not.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Located above One Twenty Six, 126 E. Washington St.
Downtown Iowa City

On March 5th, my partner and I went out to celebrate 13 years together. We had eaten at One Twenty Six before, but not the upstairs location, which is relatively new. It was only 6:00, and there was one table filled other than us, yet they still gave us the table right next to the filled one, despite empty tables next to the windows and across the 2 sides of the upstairs area. Why do restaurants do this? They pack you in like sardines even when they aren't busy... is it so that the wait staff doesn't have to walk any more than necessary? Maybe, but we had a different waiter than the table next to us! I shouldn't complain, because the one other couple that came in while we were eating were seated right at the entrance, next to the stairs, the host, and the traffic. If they would have offered me that table, even if the restaurant wasn't close to empty, I would have refused, but that's me.

One thing you might notice if you go is the half price wine menu. It sounds great, but then you look at the menu and it's all twice the price you would normally pay, or at least there isn't anything under $50/bottle on the "half price wine list". The wines on that list, by the way, are always 1/2 off. What a deal! So, if you aren't falling for the wine deal, you might want to try the drink called The Aviator. It tastes like licking wet ones, those sanitized wipes. We aren't sure how they did it. Oh, the drink does have a gin aftertaste.
We started off with some appetizers, the first was Pommes Fritas or french fries. We assume they were homemade (or restaurant-made) fries, with 3 dipping sauces: aioli, ketchup (pretty good ketchup) and something else. The aioli was the best. The second appetizer was kalamata and green olives in some oil and herbs, pretty good. And then we had the margarita pizza, which was good on a very thin crust. The bill came to about $40. The food was worth it. The drinks were not.

And let me mention the bathroom, of which I was only able to review the women's. First, I have a question: who is it that thinks all women's bathrooms have to be painted that color that is somewhere between pepto bismal pink and beige?! This bathroom was small and clean, but there is a pretty funky trim halfway up the wall that has an interesting way of getting around the light switches. At first, I thought it was a haphazard way of cutting corners, but then I realized that it really is something to look at and ponder while sitting on the toilet, and really, that is what all good art is about.

Environmentally: cloth napkins, hooray.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

El Dorado

Sycamore Mall, Iowa City
February 2011

I have been to this Mexican restaurant once before, and I wasn't too impressed. But, we were going to a movie at Sycamore and I had a coupon to use, so we gave it another shot. One bonus is that you can choose to sit at tables in the middle of the mall, and people-watch while you eat! But we chose to eat in the restaurant.
The coupon was for 2 combination dinners for $10.99, a pretty good deal. The problem was that the cheese enchilada came with some kind of liquidy cheese, that I wouldn't really classify as "cheese". The bean burrito was just that, beans. Why don't they add some lettuce and tomato?! And the hard shell taco was the best thing on the plate, which is to say it was your typical hard shell taco. If I have to go back (after all, your dining choices in the mall are El Dorado, Pizza Ranch, Panera and Dairy Queen) I would just get hard shell tacos.
The margaritas are decent for $2.50. They don't pack the punch that Los Portales margaritas do, but they also seem to be better quality.
The atmosphere is colorful and fun, but the sports tvs take away from that.
With the free chips and salsa, this is a meal that will make you, possibly uncomfortably, full and with the ValuPak coupon, 2 meals + 1 margarita = $14!
You get what you pay for.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl Food!

Superbowl Sunday might have something to do w/ football, maybe something about commercials- but it's also like having a Thanksgiving of appetizers! Anticipating a large crowd joining us for the big game, I decided to make some old favorites and get a little creative with other ones.
First, I made olive dip. This dip has been in the family for at least 60 years. It's amazingly good and the ingredients are: neufchatel cheese (similar to cream cheese), sour cream, black olives, green olives and salt. Here's a helpful tip I discovered not too long ago, since I almost never use a whole can of black olives: if you transfer the black olives to a glass jar and put them in the fridge (get them out of the can as soon as it's opened), they will last as long as the green ones do!

Next, I made veggie pizza appetizers. I used to live in Okoboji, and during those summers all of the adults in the resort would meet on the sun deck, I think on Sundays, and bring appetizers (all the kids would run around between the lake and the food). Someone always brought veggie pizza, and it was one of my favorites. You take a tube of crescent rolls, the kind that pops when you open it (I know, I'm using store bought crescent rolls. Shame, shame...) and lay it out flat on an ungreased cookie sheet. Ungreased because those store bought rolls come with lots of built-in grease! Convenient! You need to pinch the perforated areas together and push the edges out to make the whole thing a little bigger.
Then bake it according to the directions, but on the low end of the time. For example, mine said to bake at 375 for 11-13 minutes, and I had them in for 10 minutes which was long enough. Just so they are starting to brown. I don't know why I'm saying "they", because "they" are no longer crescent rolls, it is now an appetizer crust and should be used in the singular. I'll try to be more grammatically correct. So, let IT cool. Meanwhile, mix a package of neufchatel cheese with 1 package (or 2 T) dry ranch dressing and 1/2 c mayo (I used nayonaisse, because that's what I have). Spread the cheese mixture over the cooled crust, then top with chopped veggies, chopped really fine, into tiny little pieces. I bought a thing of broccoli and used 2/3 of it, which was probably too much. I cut a thing of cauliflower in half, and that was definitely too much. I bought a thing of radishes and used them all, and could have had more. (I don't know what the correct term for the "things" of the veggies are- probably a head of cauliflower, but the broccoli and radishes come in a rubber band, so I assume that measurement is up to the store or the distributor.) I was going to add celery and carrots, but I ran out of room. I topped the whole thing with shredded cheese and pressed it all down. It's better with more veggies, but the cheese doesn't stay on top as well with all the veggies, so use your own judgment on the amount. It's sat in the garage over night, so it will was nice and chilled for the Superbowl party. Another great thing about Superbowl Sunday in the midwest- you have a giant walk-in fridge if you have an attached garage!

I also made deviled eggs. I was thinking about doing something green and yellow for the Packers (I'm a Chiefs fan, but when it comes down to the final game, I'll side with the "local" team. Plus, my dad's a cheese head.) Deviled eggs already come with yellow, so I thought I would dye the whites green. Then, when looking up what to use for natural dyes, I found something I made a long time ago- I mashed an avocado and mixed it in with the yellow yolk part of the deviled egg to make it green. So, I decided to do 1/2 green eggs w/ yellow middles and 1/2 yellow eggs w/ green middles!
I had some spinach in the freezer, so I heated that up with some water. After awhile, it didn't have much color and looked pretty brown. I added some dried parsley. It started to smell like tea. It got more green, and I added the hard boiled white eggs (cut in half). After sitting a little while, the eggs were beginning to turn pretty brown. I gave up on the experiment, dumped the swampy water and replaced it with-gasp!-green food coloring and water. It looked much more St. Patricksy that way. The yellow eggs were dyed with turmeric and water heated a little and mixed up. They were definitely looking pretty yellow! I let them both soak in their colors over night.
As you can see above, the green food coloring turned the eggs more of a blue-green, not exactly Packers colors. I'm not sure if that's because they started out brown instead of white, I will have to continue this experiment. I used 1/2 avocado mashed up with the yellow filling for the yellow eggs, it didn't turn out as green as I would have liked. They stayed green for awhile, but next time I'll add a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

I decided to make cupcakes- something out of a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, converting a peanut butter cake recipe without the topping into a cupcake recipe with chocolate frosting. They turned out pretty good, you can taste the peanut butter but it's subtle, so not exactly like a peanut butter cup. But we did find football-themed cupcake holders! Paper ones, compostable!

Our 12 year old cat likes to move around between all the kitchen chairs, so after we moved them into the living room for the party, we found her sitting on top of the kitchen table, next to the plate of cupcakes. Upon inspection, 4 had been licked at, so we carefully scooped the frosting off of the parts she had tasted!

My husband made some pretty good bean dip, so I started soaking the beans Saturday, they are a mixture of black beans, great northern beans and kidney beans. This is completely an experiment.
After a day of soaking, all the white great northern beans turned purple from the black beans!
They were cooked in the slow cooker on low for 4 hours, which turned out to be perfect. Then they, with lots of other ingredients: hot peppers, onions, garlic, spices, and more were put in the food processor until smooth. Good hot or cold!

He also made taquitos with corn tortillas, cheese & avocadoes, which were a big hit. I had to wait until I was done singing along to Slash before I enjoyed a couple.

Our guests brought a wide variety of snacks as well: flavored pecans, dip, a fruit dessert, spicy spam, raspberry/cream cheese, pistachios, cashews, little pecan cupcake shaped things, carrots and more!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cake #11: Rum-drenched Vanilla Cake!

On January 29th, I made the next cake in the book, to take to a homebrew club meeting. You bake it in 2 bread pans, mine were glass. After following the directions, I went back and changed the order, so that if I make this cake again, it will be done in the proper order.
Like, #1 should be- take the eggs out of the fridge and let them sit 30 min at room temp.
#2- melt butter (almost 2 sticks!)
#3 mix dry ingredients.
#4 Make syrup (which is #11 in the book, but I figured you could do this while waiting for the eggs to warm up). The syrup is sugar and water heated up, and rum added. I used Cruzan aged rum.
#5 preheat the oven (I noticed that a lot of recipes have you do this first thing, even if it's going to take 45 minutes to prepare the food. Then the oven sits there preheated for 30 minutes while you start sweating in a hot kitchen!)
Oh, also #5, butter the pans. The book says to line the bottoms with parchment paper and spray the sides and bottom of the pans. I'm not even sure what parchment paper is, but I know why- so that you can easily flip the cake out of the pan, then flip it back upright to frost (or syrup, in this case).
I decided to cheat and just use a lot of butter in the pans so that the cake wouldn't stick. (I'm also anti-spray) You'll see how that turned out in a moment.
#6-#7 Mix sugar & eggs, then add vanilla, cream & rum. After that, I pretty much followed the order the book said- you fold the dry ingredients in with the wet, which makes it look pretty lumpy. Then you fold in half of the melted butter, then the other half, which makes it pretty smooth, like frosting.
The recipe said to put the pans on a cookie sheet in the oven, which I did, but they didn't spill over at all, so I don't know if that was necessary. After 30 minutes, I covered them with (recycled, reused) tin foil to keep the tops from browning too much. It was supposed to take another 25-30 minutes after covering, but it took about 40 before the toothpick came out clean.
The recipe says when the cakes are done, cool them for 5 minutes, then flip them out of the pan. I think glass stays hotter than other types of pans, so next time I would wait 10 minutes.
As you can see, one of them stuck to the bottom of the pan and broke apart, so maybe that parchment thing would have worked better. The other cake came out in one piece, with some encouraging and careful pan shaking!
I put the cakes on racks with wax paper underneath, then poked holes all over the top using a bamboo skewer, then brushed the rum syrup all over the tops. It seemed like a hell of a lot of syrup, but then the title of the cake is "rum-drenched"! In the end, the rum didn't soak too far into the cake, not even half way. Next time I would poke those holes much deeper! You couldn't really taste the rum too much either, and the cake tasted a bit plain for my taste, like yellow cake. It could have been better.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Coralville, Iowa
January 2011

We went to this restaurant in the space that used to be Slugger's on the Coralville Strip. The ambiance was great (despite the tvs, which gives it a sports bar feel). If you aren't into the random basketball game that might be on, you should choose to sit in the far left section, where the tv's aren't as in-your-face. I, however, chose a booth and was only distracted by the tv's about half a dozen times. The lighting was nice, the wait staff was friendly, and the seats were comfortable.
The food, however, was a disappointment.
Hubby got the chicken pot pie, which came out looking just unattractive. It had an orangish-pink color to it, and when I tasted it, something was really, really off. He said that was the canned chicken. Yup, it definitely had the flavor of canned meat, and the pot pie crust was so white flour-tasting that it wasn't even good. My dish was remarkably better, the chicken spinach ravioli, with a hint of Alfredo, marinara sauce and pesto. It looked attractive, except for the large puddle of straight up oil on one side. It tasted okay, but it definitely could have been better, like by adding a few more spices or something. When hubby tried it, he said it tasted like pizza, and I'm pretty sure now that I think about it, their marinara sauce is most likely the same for the pizza and the pasta. As someone who makes homemade spaghetti sauce and homemade pizza sauce, I can tell you that they should definitely not taste the same.
The meal came with bread (4 tiny pieces) but they brought more (4 tiny pieces) when we ran out. We also got salads, mine cost $3 extra and his cost $4.25 extra. With his beer (oh, their beer selection is on par with Okoboji Grill's, which isn't saying much) the meal came to $34 with tax. We had a discussion about whether or not to tip before or after tax. The waitress stopped at our table 2-3 times without refilling my water, which was sitting empty on the edge of the table, so I went with the pre-tax tip.
I would have liked to try the cupcakes for dessert, but I was full. If I go back, it will be for wine and cupcakes. Only.
Environmentally: linen napkins.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cake #10: Miss Saigon Cinnamon Almond Coffee Cake

I made the right choice for the New Year's cake- there are only a few crumbs left, which is why I'm making the cake I skipped two days later!
This is the cake that is described as being similar to the hot fireball candy you probably ate as a kid. The Saigon cinnamon does have that exact same smell!
First, you make a streusel similar to those made in cakes #6 & 8. It basically contains brown sugar, cinnamon and almonds. I tried stirring it with a fork when I added a little melted butter, but that didn't seem to work. I washed my hands (I'll be sharing the cake, after all) and stirred it up with my fingers, which worked much better. I'm convinced that there is no substitute for your own fingers when mixing certain things, like streusel.
Based on my comments from cake #9, I cut the almond extract in half. The recipe calls for ONE TEASPOON which is crazy since that stuff is po-TENT.
I used the kitchen aid to mix all the ingredients for the batter, which turned out to be the consistency of cream cheese frosting, and therefore, hard to pour. Also, the recipe called for an 8" square baking pan. I do not own anything that small, so I used my round cake pan. But I could see after adding the ingredients that it is important to not use a very large pan. Because you pour half the batter into the pan first, then smooth it out, then add some streusel, then the rest of the batter, and the rest of the streusel. So, if you had a pan that was too large, those would be some pretty thin layers!
After baking for 40 minutes, it came out looking good, especially when I flipped it upside down onto a plate (that's a good-lookin' bottom!) then flipped it again onto the serving plate.

The result: This cake is awesome. I will definintely bake it again, it has just the right amount of cinnamon and sweetness. And speaking of the cinnamon, although it smells like those red hot candies, it does not taste like them after being baked. But I can see how this cinnamon works better than normal cinnamon for this cake. If I ever feel like baking a coffee cake, this will be the one.