Monday, September 22, 2008

Birthday Cake


I have gotten away from my blogs for a while....sorry! I have made several yummy concoctions and such, just never have time to post. Here is a picture of the Birthday cake I made for my neice for her 4th birthday. She currently is in love with all things Tinkerbell. This is the first kind of cake that I have made like this - from a shaped pan. I had fun, but also learned alot. ...... I have made a few more things....when I get them downloaded I will post more.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

TWD: Granola Grabbers


Okay so I have had things go wrong with recipes before, but at least most have been edible. The only other recipe from TWD that did not turn out for me and I had to trash was the sticky buns....well my first batch of Granola Grabbers are going down with them. I am not sure what happend. I have to admit that I didn't add as much Granola as it called for, but I added alot of nuts and chips and stuff. I don't think my granola was good so I ended up using very little as I was trying to get the chips, nuts and coconut out of the bowl. The granola is from who knows how long ago...anyhoo....I put the first batch in the oven and they came out flatter than pancakes with all the chips sitting on top. The edges were burnt and it looked fried. I couldn't find my camera this morning so I left them sitting on the stove with tin foil over them. I put the rest of the batter in the fridge and I am going to try to see if I can salvage the rest...although I think I am better off chunking this batch. I do want to make it again - I have high hopes for this as a breakfast cookie. And goodness knows as busy as we are it wouldn't hurt to have these on hand for a quick morning grab.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

TWD: Bluberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

Things have just been crazy around here. I have been absent from the TWD for a few weeks because of A/C issues, summer vacation, school starting and the other ten million crazy things going on in my life. I attempted to make this ice cream yesterday, but I was worried about wheather or not the heavy cream in my fridge was still good or not. It kind of looked curdled at the top...so I had to wait until this morning so I could get some from the store and guess what....there was the same curdled milk look at the top of that container also. So my question for all those experienced people out there...how long does heavy cream last, when can you tell it is bad??

Dolores' of Cronicles in Culinary Curiosity.Wow! I have to say that I am extremely impressed by this recipe. I doubled it and the only thing I did different was I substituted some yogurt in for some sour cream. I was actually quite worried about how it would taste with the sour cream only. I used a container of blueberry and mixed berry yogurt then added the difference in sour cream. It is currently in the freezer. I made it up last night, churned when I got up and was getting ready for work, now it is waiting for the 3:00 break time here at work. I tasted it this morning at the soft serve consistancy and I thought it was excellent. I am wondering what other fruits it would work for??

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

TWD: Wish I could

I wish I could have participated in this week's lovely recipe...however, I am down and out - sick and no a/c, which is something that you don't want to happen in the South. Hopefully I will be better next week and have AC and will be able to be in the kitchen for more than two minutes.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday


So I was making pecan tarts last week for an office party and the recipe said to use a tart tamper or use your fingers to press the dough into the mini-muffin pan. Well, I didn't want to go buy yet another kitchen gadget that would only be used once in a while so I got creative.....







I just wrapped some plastic wrap on the top of this corn syrup bottle and away I went....it worked pretty good for my silicone pan, but was too wide to really do a good job on the aluminum pan. I loved the individual tarts....if I start making more it could well be worth the $3-13 dollars to buy a tart tamper......I will put it on my wish list.

For more Kitchen Tips go here to Tammy's Blog.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Pudding

I know that this post for Tuesday's With Dorie is a day late, but when I went to get on the computer last night, I couldn't access my blog for some reason....I have no idea why.

Well -- anyhoo, this weeks choice of Chocolate Pudding comes from Melissa of It's Melissa's Kitchen. I thought this was going to be a pretty easy recipe....and truthfully it is, as long as you don't have kids around talking to you and distracting you. I started to add the milk mixture to the egg mixture before realizing that I still hadn't added the flour and cocoa to the eggs.....then when I put it on the stove to cook....it was very foamy and it thickened slightly. I took it off the burner when it started to bubble, however I am thinking that I should have lower the tempurature to get it to thicken more. When I got my husband to photograph it last night his first comment was "I don't think it turned out right". Gee thanks, especially since I had already said that I thought it didn't turn out. No need to put in his two cents...lord love him.



It is still in the fridge, if it is thick enough we will have some for dessert for tonight.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

TWD: Double Crusted Blueberry Pie

Thanks to Amy of South in Your Mouth for picking this week's recipe -- Double Crusted Blueberry Pie. This was an extremely easy pie to make. The hardest part was the baking time. I baked it late last night and we will be having it for dessert later tonight. I am a bit skeptical because although I love blueberry muffins and bagels, I don't care for the fruit in of itself....so we shall see. But by far an excellent recipe and it would be definitely something out of the ordinary to serve or bring to a potluck.

Well for some reason it won't let me post a picture. Right now all I have is a picture of the beautiful baked pie. I will try again later tonight to post along with a picture of us digging in.
Oh, my goodness, I love this pie. I really didn't think I would. The berries kind-of jelled together and it tasted great. I made a little whipped cream to go on top of the second slice and it was good. But since then I have been taking a slice into work for lunch and somehow end up eating it as a Mid-morning snack. Yum! I will definitely be making this often.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Apple Cheddar Scones

Well I am finally back in the swing of things. I had a great time in California visiting family for just over two weeks. I missed some really great recipes.....I had contemplated bringing my cookbook with me, but considering I didn't even have time to crack open my laptop to do scrapbooking I am glad I didn't. We were so busy zooming from one place to the next. To read all about my adventures go here.

A big thanks to Karina from The Floured Apron for choosing Apple Cheddar Scones.

I was a little leery of making Apple Cheddar scones, not that I dislike the combination. One of my favorite snacks growing up was apples and cheese slices. I just didn't know if the combo would work for me as a bread. Plus I had read in the comment section how bland these scones were. So I doubled the batch so I could play around a little with the flavors. I realized that I didn't have buttermilk or applejuice. I used milk w/lemon and cranberry juice to substitute. I divided it into three separate bowls for three different combos. I am not sure if I did something wrong, but my batter was quite dry. I ended up adding a drizzle of milk to the second two bowls.

I did what the recipe called for using the apples and the cheese, these were a little bland and dry for me although I imagine they would be great with butter and honey or crumbled into chili, or used as a side......


Then I did apples and cinamon with a sprinkle of sugar on top, I ended up taking these babies to work. They had a lot more flavor, but were still a little dry.....



The best combo was cheddar and garlic, I had planned on using fresh garlic, but I was in such a hurry to get these done so I could go to bed that I ended up using garlic powder. I also added a dash of oregeno/italian seasoning mix. These were very comparable to the bisquits you get at Red Lobster. I added a healthy dash of milk to these so that they would not be as dry. I loved them.....of course I commented to my hubs that they could use more garlic, but I am a definate garlic lover, I am sure that when he tries them later that they will be just fine.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Back from Vacation

I am back from a two+ week of vacation out in Sunny California and AZ. I will resume with my weekly TWD and other posts shortly. Thanks!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Crockpotting

I am in love with crockpotting.....it has been a while since I have used mine, but I am determined to use it more because who really wants to heat up the house during the summer in the South? I have a crockpot cookbook that I am looking forward to exploring. But I have also found a site that I like to check in on every once in a while. It is called http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/. This lady is trying to crockpot every day. I am also inspired to try things out - the easier the better because a good friend of mine is going moving through the military and will be living in a hotel for quite a bit until they get housing. So...that said look for some reviews of my crockpoting experience....past and present here.

Do you have a favorite recipe?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

TWD: French Chocolate Brownies


This Week's Choice came from Di from Di's Kitchen Notebook. I have to admit that although I love rasiens I just couldn't put them into these brownies. I have heard people compare them to raisenette's which I adore, but I just couldn't. These brownies were easy to make and turned out great. I topped mine with fresh chocolate whipped cream and mini m&m. Although no one else has tried them I think that this will be my go to recipe, so much better than what comes out of a box.


French Chocolate Brownies
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup raisins (dark or golden) I just couldn't bear to add rasiens so I skipped this and the rum.
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, at room temperature
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet. Whisk the flour, salt and cinnamon together. Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum and let it warm for about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum with a long match. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring until it melts. It’s important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you’ve got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it’s better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter mixture, mixing only until it is incorporated—you’ll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated. Then finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. Fold in the raisins, along with any liquid remaining in the pan. Scrape the batter into the pan.Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to warm or room temperature.Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they’re even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good accompaniments are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or, dare I suggest, all three!Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept a room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 2 months.

Monday, May 26, 2008

TWD: Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

This weeks selection was made by Madam Chow of Madam Chow's Kitchen; she choose Pecan Honey Sticky Buns. I was looking forward to making this over the Memorial day weekend.



While this recipe was time-consuming with all the rest and rise times it seemed pretty simple to me. I made the full batch of the Golden Brioche bread, but decided to make half of the sticky buns. I had trouble incorporating the butter. I still had big lumps even the next day. I am not sure what went wrong, but there was not enought glaze and that bread part did not taste pleasant at all. I will try this recipe again using the glaze, but I am not sure about the Brioche. Maybe I will try it again, but it seemed like a lot of work for it not to turn out.



Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Makes 15 buns

For the Glaze:
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup honey
1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces)


For the Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature


For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)
Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).

To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best as you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle over the pecans.


To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.

To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glaze recipe accordingly).
With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.
Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.

Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven. The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful - the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.

What You'll Need for the Golden Brioche Dough (this recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!):
2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

What You'll Need for the Glaze (you would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns):
1 large egg1 tablespoon water

To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

TWD: Pie Re-Mix

Well I didn't have a madeline pan and although I got "permission" from the hubs to buy one. I decided to forgo and make something that had already been made. At first I was going to make the Black and White cake - it looked very elegant and I needed something for a going-away party for someone here at work. Then wouldn't you know Life happened and I just didn't have the time to make something "new" that I had never made before. So I figured that I would remake the Florida Pie, this time using Key Lime Juices (alot of the other bakers say that it is the only way to go...so I wanted to see the difference) I had already bought the key lime juice because I knew that I would one day soon want to make the pie again. I just didn't realize it would be the very next week. When I started to gather the ingredients I couldn't find the bottle of key lime juice. Now my husband, bless his heart, is a very helpful guy around the house; but where-as I put things away where they make sense (to my mind) he tends just to pick up and put things away wherever there is space. I have had to call him at work to find something -- the good thing is he usually knows just where he put it. But this time around we tore apart the kitchen and pantry and could not find the juice. So I ended up running out to the store and grabbing some regular limes as I could not find the Key Lime. While I was at the store, I figured I would also remake the Peanut Butter Torte.
This time around the only different thing I did with the Floriday Pie was put it into an extra large pie crust and sprinkled toasted coconut on top of the baked Meriange.


With the Peanut Butter Pie this time I kept out the chips and nuts out of the peanut butter mixture. I made chocolate whipped cream and put that on top of the PB mix and then sprinkled the nuts and chips on top of that. I also kept it in the freezer and thawed for just a short while serving it as a kind of ice cream type treat. I got even better reviews and was told this was just as good as the one we ususally purchase from the restaurant for $20+ dollars.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Florida Pie



By far this has been the easiest recipe from TWD. My husband bought me the mini, pre-made graham cracker crust to make this week's recipe. The only problems I had was that I could not get the cream/coconut mixture to reduce at med-low heat so I had to crank it up to med-high. And I still haven't quite mastered the kitchen-aid for making meringue. I need to learn to stay by the machine. When I turned it off it looked fine, but when I tried to spread it, the consistency was of the baked meringue....and by the time I broiled it -- it was slightly overdone. (But no one has notice and I took some to my sisters and to work.) Love this recipe.




INGREDIENTS:

1 9-inch graham cracker crust (page 235), fully baked and cooled, or a store-bought crust
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
4 large eggs, separated
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh Key (or regular) lime juice (from about 5 regular limes)
1/4 cup of sugar

Getting Ready:Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment of a silicone mat. Put the cream and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Scrape the coconut cream into a bowl and set it aside while you prepare the lime filling. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl beat the egg yolks at high speed until thick and pale. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the condensed milk. Still on low, add half of the lime juice. When it is incorporated, add the reaming juice, again mixing until it is blended. Spread the coconut cream in the bottom of the graham cracker crust, and pour over the lime filling.Bake the pie for 12 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes, then freeze the pie for at least 1 hour.

To Finish the Pie with Meringue:Put the 4 egg whites and the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking all the while, until the whites are hot to the touch. Transfer the whites to a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer in a large bowl, and beat the whites at high speed until they reach room temperature and hold firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining 1/2 cup coconut into the meringue.Spread the meringue over the top of the pie, and run the pie under the broiler until the top of the meringue is golden brown. (Or, if you've got a blowtorch, you can use it to brown the meringue.) Return the pie to the freezer for another 30 minutes or for up to 3 hours before serving.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

TWD: Peanut Butter Torte


edited: We just dug into this at work and it got rave reviews. I still think I prefer the creamy texture of the storebought pie - I would do this again, but leave out the chunky bits in the middle. I have two mini-spring form pans at home and I think I will do the ganache for them. This is definalty something that I would do for a pot-luck...it holds up well and looks great.

Elizabeth from Ugg Smell Food chose Peanut Butter Torte.

I loved this recipe. Even though I messed up at a couple point none of the steps were extremely hard, I just need to pay more attention. When I was whipping the cream I was supposed to stop when it got to medium-firm peaks, but accidently beat it until it was the texture of Cool Whip. Also when I was beating the cream cheese/peanut butter mixture it kind-of got a curdled look to it, but I was extremely relieved when I added the milk and it smoothed out. I chose to make one pie and had enough left for two mini springform pans. I took the pie to work today and I will report back what my work-mates said. It is going to be a tough review because we tend to buy a peanut butter pie from a local restaurant for birthdays that everyone raves about.....we shall see.

Peanut Butter Torte: 1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)2 teaspoons sugar½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)¼ teaspoon ground cinnamonPinch of freshly grated nutmeg½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooledSmall pinch of salt2 ½ c. heavy cream1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature1 ½ c salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)2 tablespoons whole milk4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Crape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.
Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Digital Layouts


Here is a digital layouts that I have been working on this evening. I have several others, some even include my son, but for some reason I cannot as yet post them to blogger. I will be checking out why as soon as I can get some time.
The word art is by: elegantwordart2.blogspot.com, Thanks Bethany!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TWD: Bill's Big Carrot Cake

This week at Tuesday's With Dorie the selection was Bill's Big Carrot Cake; Amanda from Slow Like Honey chose this.

I really like the cake in of itself. It was packed with carrots and rasiens and nuts which gave it a very dense healthful kind of taste to it. It also called for coconut, but I decided to omit that, I wanted the carrot taste to come through. I also substituted 1 cup wheat flour in for one of the all-purpose and changed it from one cup oil to 1/4c oil and 3/4 applesause - and it still turned out great. I also cheated and did not make the frosting from scratch. We are trying to conserve on our grocery bill and since I already had frosting in the pantry I went with that.

I didn't have three round pans and also I wanted to try out my square silicone pans. I have discovered that if the batter is thick enough that I need to do a better job spreading it out into the pans. Both cakes although beautiful were shorter in one of the corners then the others. I solved that by making sure to stack the short corners on the opposite ends. All in all, this turned out wonderfully.



This is what my six year old daughter said "I don't like the nuts, but I love the rest. I'm not kind of a nut person, I just like peanut butter."


Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

From Baking: from my homeYields 10 servings



Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs


For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)



Getting ready:Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.
To make the cake:Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.



To make the frosting:Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.If you’d like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.



To assemble the cake:Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.
Serving:This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it’s good plain, it’s even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.



Storing:The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it’s firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wedding Album Page 1

So my husband asked me when I was going to start doing our wedding photos.....I told him it was more like re-doing since I am starting all over in PSE 4.0. I haven't been able to find a good source of how-to do stuff into PSE, but I am learing bit by bit.



Here is the front page of our album.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

TWD: Marshmellows

I still could never get those pictures loaded for the Lemon Cream tart, I am thinking there must be something wrong with the actual files.

I did not participate this week because I had my parents in town for just a few days, not because my husband rolled his eyes when I told him what this weeks recipe was. "Just Marshmellows??" "Like the three packages that we have in the cupboard"...... He is a really great supportive guy, so it was funny hearing this from him.....Oh well.

Please check in at Tuesday's With Dorie to see what others are making. And check back next week for my version of Bill's Big Carrot Cake.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

TWD: The Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart

Let me just say I am extremely excited to finally be able to use my tart pan again. I bought it a long time ago and I think I made one thing, but have not made anything else to date in it.

For some reason I have always had a major issue trying to zest something. While my husband was at the store I asked him to get a micro-plane thingie to zest the lemons that was on his list, I have one tool, but when I tried to zest it didn't work. Well unfortunately he couldn't find a zester and came home with a bottle of dried lemon zest. I got down to making the Lemon Cream and opened that bottle, yikes - it smelled so strongly of preservatives or something.....I was worried that it wouldn't turn out. The recipe calls for you to rub the zest into the sugar to "aromitize" (my word) the sugar. Well since it was dried I decided to drop a tablespoon of boiling water to rehydrate the zest and then rubbed it into the sugar. After that it was easy until I got to the cooking stage. It took forever to get that sucker up to 180 - I was using a glass bowl, but for the future I think I am going to purchase a stainless steel bowl. Eventually I sorta stopped whisking the mixture at the end to let it get up to that heat...I could have been incorporating too much air for the mixture to cook by stirring so much. It was definitely interesting when I strained that mixture I had a lot of gunk so I realize this is a very important step. By the time I got the mixture strained and into the food processor it had cooled quite a bit below the recommended 140, so I was concerned if the butter would incorporate correctly.

But in the end the lemon cream was perfect.


FRENCH LEMON CREAM TART RECIPE
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 4 to 5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 Tablespoons (21 Tablespoons; 10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into Tablespoon-sized pieces
1 fully-baked 9-inch tart shell

Getting ready: Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

To Make The Lemon Cream:Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over a pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs followed by the lemon juice. My Notes: I used a Kitchen Aid mixing bowl, added the sugar, zest and then whisked in the eggs and lemon juice just until foamy. Then I set the mixing bowl over the pan of hot water. Others were having trouble reaching a temperature of 180 degrees, but I think that's because they used glass and not stainless steel.
Fit the bowl into the pan (make certain the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and cook, stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. You want to cook the cream until it reaches 180°F. As you whisk the cream over heat—and you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as the cream is getting closer to 180°F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point—the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking and don’t stop checking the temperature. And have patience—depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.
As soon as you reach 180°F, pull the cream from the heat and strain it into food processor; discard the zest. Let the cream rest at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140°F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high and, with the machine going, add about 5 pieces of butter at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed while you’re incorporating the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going—to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to beat the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and chill the cream for at least 4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to construct the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.Refrigerate until ready to serve.

SWEET TART DOUGH RECIPE
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 Tbsp unsalted butter (9 Tablespoons) very cold and cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

To Make The Dough:Put the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in--you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses--about 10 seconds each--until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change--heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To Press The Dough Into The Pan: Butter a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don't be too heavy-handed--press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces clinging to one another, but not so hard that the crust looses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To Bake The Crust:Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling. Serves 8-10.

edited: for some reason I am having issues uploading photos....will try again later.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Gooey Chocolate Cake

Can I just say YUM! Well I was excited because this was right up my alley. Chocolate cake....and even better Gooey Chocolate Cake. I read a few of the comments on this and realize that some were having issues with actually having a gooey center, so I was prepared to venture forth. First I got all my ingredients and realize I had a few problems. First, I only had 4 oz of chocolate and it was semi-sweet instead of bitter. Also I had not thought to look at the recipe and did not know to pull out the eggs...in fact I am lucky that I have a pretty stocked pantry and that no out of the ordinary ingredients were called for.

So I got my butter (margarine actually) from the freezer (yikes, told ya I should have looked at the recipe earlier) and nuked it for a few seconds. Got the four ounces of the chocolate chopped up and into the bowl with the softened butter.


And by the way, I was worried about how the chocolate was going to do because not only was it semi instead of bitter, but it had the pale look to it. It had obviously not been stored at optimal tempuratures. I felt a little better after I started to chop it because underneath was that dark, delicious chocolate I had come to know and love. The egg part and the dry good part was quite easy, but it did seem that it was far outweighted by the wet After reading that note about being careful that the butter could separate I was nervous but it melted beautifuly. I even pulled it off the burner a little early and had a few small chunks left to go into the batter. The batter mixed up without a single issue. (whew!)

I used the foil star muffin tins and ended up with 8 cupcakes. I sprinkle chopped pecans on a few and I even stuffed half a caramel cadburry egg into two of them. They were not gooey as the recipe stated. This could because I was using chocolate chips since I didn't have another ounce of chocolate. These did turn out very delicious though and I am determined to play around with this recipe until I can figure out the secret to getting that "gooey" center.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Emilia Laughing Part 2

I will be back a little later to rave about PSE4 (photoshop elements 4.0) Meanwhile here is a little something that I have worked on. You've seen this one before, but click on each one and compare. The quality is so much better using PSE4 vs Power Point. And the print quality is excellent, just like a photo from Walmart. I printed up my first one last night and almost screamed for joy.....except it was close to midnight and I don't think my husband and kids would have appreciated it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Review: Caramel Custard

Okay, so I am not sure I let the sugar/carmel mixture cook long enough. When I flipped it over it was a very thin syrup, very watery. I cut a tiny bite-sized wedge and the good parent that I am feed it to my six-year old, letting her be the brave test-taster. She said she liked the custard part, but not the top part. I took a tiny piece for my-self and I have to admit that if my daughter wasn't in the room, I probably would have spit it out. I didn't care for the taste of it. I am pretty sure that the custard part turned out okay. I told my husband to take it to work so I could get some reviews back and unfortuntley he left it at home on the table all day, so we had to throw it out. So now I guess I will never know how bad or good it was.

Even though I didn't care for it I have to admit it was an extremely easy dish to make. I think I would have to cook the sugar to a deeper amber. I would make this for a pot-luck or Cinco de Mayo party. It is a dish that looks spectacular (when make correctly) and looks harder to make than it is.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Laughing Emilia



Paper-summertimedesigns.blogspot.com-Beautimous Kit
Word Art-Shabby Princess-Express Yourself
Frame-benexavdigiscrap.unblog.fr-Island of piece
Text - Amienne

Tuesday's With Dorie

Ok, so technically I guess it is already Wednesday.....but I did try to get this Tuesdays with Dorie off the ground this week.

Tuesdays with Dorie is a group of people who weekly are making a dish out of the exact same cookbook. Membership at last count was 100. I joined because I love to bake and I would like to be more adventurous in my cooking.


This week's Recipe was a caramel flan. Now even thought technically I have never tried flan, if you were to ask me I would say that I did not like it. But I figure heck, why not and braved making it. Here is a picture of it in my oven.
I will post a little later how it turns out and what I think about my first bite of flan....
And I think I will get started on next weeks assignment so I can get on track.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Scrapbooking Page



What this blog is about

This blog is specifically set up for my creative side. While I don't plan on "butchering" anything, I do look forward to doing baking, cooking, scrapbooking, and crafting. Since I am a full-time workning mother I know that my entries will be few, but I hope you enjoy what I do have.