Monday, December 28, 2009

Gingerbread House! ~ December’s Daring Bakers Challenge

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

How fitting for the Holidays. How sad that I am typing this 25 minutes past the deadline. My excuse is that my mom surprised me from Bermuda!! What a great Christmas present to me! I love having her here. We have been hustling and bustling. However, I did manage to make and bake the gingerbread pieces 2 days before Christmas and on Christmas Eve two of my children decorated one while the youngest kept sneaking up to the table swiping candy!!

IMG_3401

What stress having a 10 year old and 3 year old fight over what candy should go where!! But it was fun at the same time so I am seriously thinking of making it a Christmas tradition. My kids loved their house and so did I.

IMG_3419

As you can see the kids really did a number on this one. I used royal icing for the adhesive and the bright colored candies are sour gummies. Along with the addition of some chocolate no name brand candy that was covered in colored shells and some traditional peppermint candy, sprinkles and coconut. The roof was also some type of thin coconut cookie I bought at the dollar store. (ayyy now…I am on a budget here:))

Truthfully, I did not use the recipes that were chosen by the Anna. Some where having issues with the dough being too dry. Since I was on time constraints I chose a recipe from Alison of Someone's in The Kitchen. She posted a recipe in the forum and it seemed like a win win. Please check out her houses of gingerbread. They really look awesome.

Okay, back to me. I finally squeezed in my house. I didn’t feel like making anymore Royal Icing so I worked with the little leftovers. My dream was to make some kind of winter wonderland. Running out of Royal made it into a Winter Wonder NOT.

IMG_3439

Kinda blah. But I used some yogurt covered pretzels to make a fence and threw on some coconut and painted it with pearl luster dust.

My favorite part was molding the fondant for the snow lady and the trees. I did those a week in advance. Despite it not turning out how I envisioned…nor it looking as bright as the kids, I was happy.

IMG_3451

Um…another confession. The arms on this snow lady (lets call her Frostina) are not quite edible. They are stems from a grape vine. That was the only thing I could find. I guess this disqualifies me eh?

Anyway, my challenge is complete. My kids were involved with this one and it was fun and festive. Thanks Anna and Y for a great challenge!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Basketwhoas...

I attempted my very first basketweave. I am more into contemporary designs on cakes. I like the look of fondant. But I figure there will be times that I NEED to do the buttercream roses, piped stars and the oh so dreaded basketweave. I have NO skills in piping. But, gotta do it. So I am self teaching myself a few piping thingys. Started off with this number:~

IMG_3320

Could have been better, a little tighter perhaps. If I had more patience then I think it would have been perfect...along with the fact that I had the wrong piping tip. Whatever. So I piped on despite the slackness :~

IMG_3323

Despite issues (like the piping bag bursting on my cake during the writing of the Happy Birthday message...oh and a rose flipping upside down while applying...and running out of green buttercream which also happened to be melting and slooshing all over the place), I think I did a great job. Yes, I love piping my hand on my back..I mean patting. Someone has to do it.

I used my favorite Buttercream Recipe on Allrecipes.com. You can find it here. It is truly a great crusting recipe. Also read the suggestions...I sometimes substitute half the shortening for unsalted butter. Tip...always double recipes for frosting..you can never have enough!!

The cake is a Classic Butter Cake with a berry filling. I would cut it...but it is not mine to cut. Hopefully when the birthday girl cuts it I will be there to get a slice..I mean a picture. :) I will post the recipe on this cake soon. I promise :)

Anyway, I had fun doing this whether it resembles basketweave or not. I know my skills need improving so that is why I intend on studying a whole lot by making and decorating many many cakes!! It helped to know that someone I hold in high regards is not a piping queen herself. I actually got the tips from her website. Bakerella did an awesome Hello Kitty cake and demonstrated how to basketweave. It is a very good tutorial so take a look. But still, practice makes perfect..I even notice my roses are getting better!!

IMG_3335

I must mention one more mishap. During the making of my favorite buttercream I was creaming the shortening and butter and proceeded to add the confectioner's sugar. I was yapping my mouth to hubby who was engrossed in Madden 09 on my son's PSP when I noticed that there was a extreme amount of cloudiness in my kitchen. This cloud was sugar coming from my Sunbeam Mixer!!! My lower arms were covered in the white snow! My kitchen was covered in it. My glasses, well everything!! I cursed my mixer. Although I love her I do need a new one. One that can handle the levels of baking that I do and that I intend to do. One like Susan is giving away on her blog. This Kitchenaid 90 Anniversary Edition would look so lovely on my countertop. I have been begging for one for the last 2 years. So my friends, enter now and follow the rules!! But I must tell you that my hand in is this pretty bowl too. So good luck to us and congrats to the lucky winner!! Awesome. Thanks Susan, honestly...that is a great gift!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cookies and Cream Cake

Recipe Source from Annie's Eats whose cake and frosting source was adapted from Hershey’s and filling adapted from Thyme for Food.

 

IMG_3282

My cousin wanted a cake for his birthday and didn't care what type of cake. I had an order in from a friend for a Cookies and Cream Cake. I never made one before so I decided I might as well make one for my cousin too.

The best decision I could have made. This is a quote of the text he sent me ~ "Cuz, the cake is DAMN delicious. You put your foot in it. Thanks!!"   I was so elated!! I did this cake with a lot of love. My cousin is the best...so he deserved my foot.

Now on to make 2 more. Oh, did I say 2? Well, I need one for this house too you know.

Recipe :~

INGREDIENTS

cake:

2 cups sugar

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 ½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

½ cup vegetable oil

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

 

filling:

1 ¼ cups heavy cream

1/8 cup confectioners’ sugar

¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract

10 chocolate sandwich cookies, chopped

frosting:

½ cup unsalted butter

2/3 cup cocoa powder

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

 

DIRECTIONS

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

To make the filling, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Beat on low speed until all sugar is incorporated; increase speed to high and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in chopped cookie pieces with a rubber spatula.

To make the frosting, melt the butter in a medium bowl. Stir in the cocoa. Alternately add confectioners’ sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

ASSEMBLE

Place one cake layer on a cardboard cake circle. Pipe a ring of the chocolate frosting around the outside edge of the cake. Fill the area inside the ring of frosting with a thick layer of the cookies and cream mixture. Place the second cake layer on top. Frost the sides of the cake layers with chocolate frosting. Pipe a decorative border of the chocolate frosting on top of the cake. Fill the area inside this border with a thick layer of the cookies and cream mixture. Garnish with extra chocolate sandwich cookies and whipped cream if desired.

 

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe Annie. It will be a favorite and much repeated recipe in this house!!

Update December 5th!!! : Okay, I didn't waste anytime...

IMG_3303

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Black and White Fondant Cake

Since I somewhat successfully stacked a 2 tier cake. I wanted to venture out and try a three tier cake. Daaa daa daa daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!  (That was supposed to appear as some sort of dramatic special effect people.)

My best friend asked me to do a cake for her birthday. She was having a party in "Opium", the private party room at a great restaurant in Atlanta called Straits. (Side note:~They have the best lollipop chicken known to man.) It is owned by the entertainer, Ludacris. You know him right? Ya....you do.

I had no clue what I wanted to do. I was going to try a topsy turvy cake but said nah...wait. Then I wanted to do something funky like marble fondant.  Eh.  So I drew tons of pictures and decided on one out of my drawings. Well, this cake came out nothing like the one I drew. As I was decorating I didn't stop. I kept getting inspired. Thus, coming up with this...

IMG_3272

This simple little cake( and it is little...bottom 8 inch layer, middle is 6 inch layer and top is 4 inch single cake) took me 5 hours to decorate!! My black fondant was starting to crack.  I guess from not kneading it enough or perhaps kneading it too much! Whatever the case, I redid it and applied. What the picture does not show is the pearl luster on the cake. The cake itself is a plain white cake with buttercream filling. Yep, I count buttercream as a filling too. This was my third fondant covered cake and my first 3 tier stack cake!! It really was a great little cake. It fit right in with the setting. See...I added the boa at the bottom surrounding the cake for dramatic effects. I love me some dramatic effects.

 

IMG_3265 

By the way. Mr Ludacris did stop by. :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Yo..It's Foofa!!

IMG_3230

"It's a party in my tummy!" For those of you that don't know. This is Foofa. She is part of 5 characters on the hit pre-school show, "Yo Gabba Gabba." Foofa loves daises and is always picking them. My daughter loves this show. Its really quite strange if you ask me as all the characters are. But the songs are very catchy. I get happy when they play the reggae rhythm ones.

Foofa was a bit larger then I intended her to be. But I worked it out. She is made from fondant and the daises are 50/50 fondant and gumpaste. The cake is Luscious Sour Cream Chocolate Cake which can be found here on my blog.  My favorite chocolate cake E.V.E.R.

Foofa was my first fondant molding. This was my first stacked cake as well. It was a little stressing but fun. I learned a lot from Foofa. So it was worth it. And how could I forget who made it really worth it. My daughter ...a little newly 3 year old birthday girl was delighted when she woke up and saw Foofa on the table getting ready for her birthday party.  "Mommy? You made that for meeeeeee?"  

Happy Birthday my Princess.

 

IMG_3234

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cannoli ~ November's Daring Bakers Challenge

IMG_3099



The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.


So we didn't bake this month. It was great. I love love love baking but to have a challenge that involved deep frying was great. I don't mind to deep fry but do not do it as much because I am trying to adapt a healthier lifestyle for my family. Giggle...yes, I bake to offset the desire of frying!


So I was however, a bit intimidated because I have never fried dough. I have delayed making doughnuts because of that. This challenge showed me that it is way easier than I thought. Doughnuts are in the forecast!!


Cannoli usually are filled with a ricotta or marscapone cheese mixture. But I feel that ricotta cheese should only be in lasagne or manicotti. So I filled mine with a great whipped cream and a Chocolate Cream Patissiere. Also I didn't have Cannoli tubes, which you need to form and fry the dough to get the tube shape. Those tubes are 10 bucks at Cake Art Supply store and that was not in my budget. We had great leniency when it came to this recipe...that is why we was able to fill it with what we pleased. If we did not have the tubes, we could make them with oiled wooden sticks. Or as some did, with foil pans molded into tube shapes. I opted to do the easier choice...stack em. I present my Cannolipoleans!! (Ahem....aka stacked cannoli.)


I used a cookie cutter my Mother-in-Law had given me. I have yet to makes cookies from them...but they certainly came in handy with this challenge!


IMG_3051



As they were frying the some would swell up like a blow fish. My 10 year old thought it was hilarious.


IMG_3058



Finished!!


IMG_3094


I use a chocolate ganache to dip the points of the Cannoli in and I decorated them with sprinkles and red decorators sugar.


They tasted good. Not sure if I would go out of my way to make them again but who knows...it provides a great dinner party dessert because Cannoli can be dressed up so pretty. And being able to fill it with what you want makes it very likable. I only did half a recipe and manage to get 6 servings.


INGREDIENTS


CANNOLI SHELLS


2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon unsweetened baking cocoa powder 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar Approximately 1/2 cup sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand 1 large egg white Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts


Optional :~


1/2 cup toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish Confectioners' sugar


DIRECTIONS


In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.


Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.


Heat 2-inches of oil in a saucepan or deep sauté pan to 350-375°F (176 - 190°C).


Cut out desired shapes with cutters or a sharp knife. Deep fry until golden brown and blistered on each side, about 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from oil with wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, then place on paper towels or bags until dry and grease free. If they balloon up in the hot oil, dock them lightly prior to frying. Place on cooling rack until ready to stack with filling.


Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough.



You can find out more about Cannoli and find the traditional filling recipe from Lisa Michele who hosted the DB Challenge this month! Hers look great!! Thanks for choosing this wonderful challenge!! It was my second one and my first success!


Recipe for Chocolate Creme Patissiere can be found on Joy of Baking website! I love this recipe and will be using it again and again and again!!


My Whipped Cream Recipe :~


1 cup whipping cream


1/4 cup confectioner's sugar


1 tsp vanilla


2 tsp cornstarch


~Whip Cream at high speed in chilled bowl. add sugar, vanilla and cornstarch after cream forms. Whip until stiff~


Please note that I do not have the source of this recipe :(

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jeraz Make~It~Rain Peanut Butter Cookies

modifiedcookie


The What's Cooking Challenge Ingredient this week is Peanut Butter. I decided to grab yet another recipe from the Cookin' with Coolio cookbook! The first recipe I used from his book was apart of a Cookin' with Coolio challenge. Read about how his Cool~a~cado delighted my tastebuds.


I do have a favorite Peanut Butter Cookie recipe but have misplaced it. It was one of those recipes that a friend had and shared with me by writing it on a yellow legal pad. The paper was so dingy and stained but I never transferred the recipe to anything else. She moved from Bermuda and we lost contact so that yellow vintage looking recipe paper meant so much too me. The recipe was really good.


But on to Coolio's Peanut Butter Cookies. Did they stand up to the test. Not quite. I wasn't 100 percent pleased. I will say that the picture in his cookbook showed a much lighter cookie. He did recommend natural peanut butter but I went ole' cheapo. I didn't think it would make a difference. My cookie is a lot darker, smaller and the texture is light...but crisp. Still hard to describe. If your are interested in trying it yourself let me know how yours turn out. Here's the recipe: ~


INGREDIENTS


1 cup peanut butter( all natural is recommended)


1 cup brown sugar


1 large egg


2 tbsp ground cinnamon


1 tbsp pure vanilla extract


DIRECTIONS


Preheat oven to 350 degrees


Combine all ingredients in large bowl (I used a stand mixer..this is probably where I went wrong)


Drop 1 tsp of dough on greased up cookie sheet. (I sprinkled granulated sugar on top of each one)


Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cool~A~Cado

IMG_3038


They say big things come in small packages. Well, I believe the same can go for food. Avocado is my least favorite food. Life is about taking risk. Wow, I am full of it now...


Okay, the point. I tried Coolio's "Cool~A~Cado" and I was blown away. I chose avocado only because I had one here and no one was touching it. Also, I wanted to see if I could actually eat it without grimacing. This recipe was simple and simply delicious. It punches you while you're eating and keeps on punching way after your finished. The balsamic vinegar must have a lot to do with it. The onion provide a great crunch and the tomato is refreshing. This little number is a great cool appetizer or a snack on a hot summer day. Not to say that you should only enjoy it during the summer.


I received Coolio's cookbook because I decided to participate in the "Cookin' with Coolio Challenge." The book bases itself on 5 star meals at a 1 star price!


Coolio_Cover


Most of the recipes in the book are pretty straight forward. But judging of this one I am sure they all are really good.


Recipe ~


INGREDIENTS


1 ripe avocado


1 ripe tomato, chopped


1 small white onion


Balsamic vinegar


Olive Oil


Salt (I used kosher)


Pepper


DIRECTIONS


Split avocado down the middle and remove seed


Cute avocado in little cubes by slicing vertically and horizontally while it is still in skin.


IMG_3030


Fill hole with freshly chopped tomato the sprinkle chopped onion all over it.


Drizzle avocado with Balsamic Vinegar and olive oil.


Sprinkle salt and pepper to your taste.


Stab avocado with a knife to let the oil and vinegar seep in.


Enjoy!



Please note: I adapted the words of the recipe to suit my blog. I didn't have the heart to repeat how Coolio worded this in his cookbook...not that it is that bad...it is just not for my blog.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lentil Patties

"Patty Cake!! Patty Cake!! Baker Man!"...or woman. I have found a great substitute for a burger. That is if you feel that you can substitute burger.


Lentils are great as a substitution for meat in just about anything you would use ground beef, turkey, pork. On occasion I have bought the frozen veggie patty and heated it up for hubby and upon grabbing a bite of them myself, I realized...uh no. I can't feed hubby this!! I would load up the condiments to hide the no taste of whatever non meat item was in this so called patty. It was then I decided to be on the quest for a great veggie burger. I found it within the first recipe I tried.


As you may have noticed...or may have not, I use a lot of recipes from allrecipes.com. I used to frequent this site prior to me looking at blogs. I love a site where I can read reviews and make changes as per someone's suggestion if I felt the need too. So, you guessed it, this recipe can be located on my favorite recipe website!


Now I alter the recipe a lot. I don't use the barley cereal but I add oatmeal. I have also left out the soup mix and chopped onions and added salt and pepper. Sometimes I add cheese, mushrooms, cajun seasoning etc...


This recipe is a hit all the time.


My mistakes...well I have done it too dry. I have undercooked the lentils before preventing them from not mashing enough and the patty falls apart. I have also overcooked them and made them too soft and the patty falls apart. I prefer a half mashed lentil mixture. Now if you over~mash or overcook them add less egg and/or milk. Also add some of the breadcrumbs to the mixture instead of just coating with them. You really have to play with this one.


Anyway, here are my lentil patties in a total veggie meal.


IMG_2986


I have them on top of a spaghetti squash that I baked then sautéed with onions, red and green peppers and tomato and herb and garlic seasoning. In the background there is Sweet potato and sautéed Green Beans in garlic and soy sauce. Hubby likes a gravy sometimes with his meal so I made one consisting of chopped tomatoes, ketchup, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and Outerbridges' Sherry Peppers.


Sherry Pepper


Sherry Peppers is a sauce made in Bermuda. My mom brings up a bottle or two when she comes to visit. It adds a great flavor to stews and gravy's, alcoholic beverages and just about anything and everything. It is a Bermudian favorite. Especially in Fish Chowder. Oh I can't wait until I make me and hubby some Bermuda Fish Chowder! Add some Bermuda Black rum and some Outerbridges' Sherry Peppers and the night starts right!!


I am not getting paid for this ad. But maybe I should.


Try the lentil patties my way or yours and please tell me how you enjoyed them. I am always looking for ideas!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pumpkin Pancakes

The best pancakes I have ever tasted in my life!! I am not a big got to have pancakes person. But every now and then, I got to have pancakes. I was tired of my Buttermilk recipe and decided to try pumpkin since I still had plenty of it left.


I did these pancakes at 1 am in the morning. I asked hubby if he wanted some. He said "Nah." He then saw the stack of 10 and was like, "Um, why not? I will take one!"...I thought he just might change his mind when he saw them.


IMG_2841


Yeah.


You can find the recipe on allrecipes.com. I followed it as it was written. No changes necessary.


I don't have to say anything else...but...I like them brown with crispy edges...so I got to get through the top to the best below...pass the syrup please.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Banana~Cranberry Bread

recipe adapted from Joy the Baker.



modifiedloaf


Beautiful..


...taste as good as she looks.


So I had leftover cranberries and was so excited baking with them that I thought I would bake some more!!


I was going to make some banana bread and figured I add some cranberries too. Never had this before and it is delicious!


Recipe ~


INGREDIENTS


3 to 4 ripe bananas, mashed (I left mine a little chunky due to personal preference)


1/3 cup melted salted butter


1 cup light brown sugar


1 egg, beaten


1 tsp vanilla


1 tbsp bourbon( I didn't have bourbon so I used an extra tsp vanilla and 2 tsp water)


1 tsp baking soda


pinch of salt


1 tsp cinnamon


1/2 tsp nutmeg


pinch of ground cloves


1 1/2 cup of flour


1 cup fresh cranberries


DIRECTIONS


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Mix melted butter into mashed bananas in large bowl with a wooden spoon.


Mix in sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon.


Then add the spices and mix.


Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.


Add the flour and mix.


Add the cranberries. ( I coated them with flour to prevent them from sinking) and stir until just incorporated.


Pour mixture into buttered loaf pan.


Bake for 1 hour.


Cool on rack then remove from pan and slice to serve.


modifiedslices


Okay, I have to end this post now. There is a slice with my name on it waiting for me......

Cranberry~Pumpkin Cookies

IMG_2781


This week's WC Ingredient Challenge ingredient was "cranberries." I have never cooked with a cranberry. I have never even bought a cranberry! I was so close to picking up the cranberry sauce and draining the buggers for this recipe until I saw fresh cranberries in the produce section of Publix. Cranberries are a lot harder then I thought they would be and I didn't expect them to be so white inside. A very interesting little berry!


Anyway, the little berry packs a serious sweet punch. I chose a pumpkin cookie because I have so much pumpkin use up. This recipe comes from allrecipes.com and has a 4.5 star rating from 179 people. I thought I would check that for myself. Normally I would scan the reviews and make some of the suggested changes that others noted but I didn't. I stuck to the recipe word for word. They were good...they were not great. I guess I should have guessed that because they were described as a cake like cookie. I don't care for cookies that have a cake texture. If I wanted cake I would eat cake. Anyway, my family loved them...all except for my baby boy...he takes after me. He proceeded to crumble it up and leave trails of it on the carpet. Needless to say, I probably won't be making them again.


Please note...my daughters princess crown was in the background...I decided to bake after trick or treating. Like we didn't have enough sweets in the house right? Cranberries are a healthy treat though...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cake Balls

IMG_2766


So you have the balls? Of course...who don't? So, it was inevitable that I try this. I bake a lot of cake. I level cake and I score cake. When I did Frankie I had a ton of Devils Food Cake leftover. I usually shove them down hubby and my oldest son's throats...they happily oblige. But this time I told them not to touch as I had a plan.


I mean come on, Bakerella has made these once overlooked little puffs of cake into a fast growing trend.


Mine aren't as fancy. These were my first so I didn't go overboard. Just kept it simple. Scraps from Devils Food cake and about 2/3 cups of buttercream icing covered in melted semi~sweet chocolate. So next time you are in the cake neighborhood, go ahead and play some ball. Okay, cheesy. How about "grow some balls?" Oh forget it.


One tip...when I first started dipping my balls weren't cold enough. This caused them to get soft in the chocolate dipping bowl leading to a mess and me getting frustrated and eating melted mushy balls. I took a break and placed my undipped balls in the freezer for a couple of hours. I re~melted a fresh batch of chocolate and proceeded to dip and I had success!! Oh, another thing...when you melt chocolate in the microwave be sure it is in a glass bowl and you do it in minute intervals. I lost a batch of chocolate and a bowl and had a stinky burnt plastic smell in my kitchen for a few days. I know you know these things and so do I, but sometimes I tend to get that "It'll never happen to me attitude." I seriously need to check myself!


IMG_2774


Chomp!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Macarons

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose Macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Well, this was my FIRST Daring Bakers Challenge. What a challenge it was too. This little french version of a cookie made me sweat. I only did it twice and did not succeed and seriously questioned myself as a novice baker. Novice is the operative word and I had to remember that.

I present to you my failed Macarons

IMG_2525

The most stressful thing to me about making these finicky little cookies is staring in the oven hoping they develop "feet". Neither one of my batches wanted to walk. But I tell you..I did. Despite failure, I continued on to use my chocolate ganache and my homemade cherry filling( in which I which I was so proud of making).

Then in the admittance of failure I still snapped away with a de"feet"ed attitude.

IMG_2534

hmmm??

I can tell you this. Despite their appearance. These Macarons tasted soooo good. Especially with the chocolate ganache and the cherry filling.

These are worth another try.

Please note...if you have no clue as to what these cookies are supposed to look like, check out She's Becoming DoughMessTic's blogspot! She did a great job!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Irish Cinnamon Coffee Cake

IMG_2713

The WC Challenge Ingredient this time is Cinnamon! I love me some Cinnamon. Who doesn't? I wanted to use a recipe that really used a good amount of cinnamon. I found a recipe for a Cinnamon Marble Cake in a cookbook at one of my favorite shops, Tuesday Mornings. I didn't want to buy the cookbook so I took pictures of the recipe with my camera in my phone. Funny right? Well, I can hardly see the recipe!! Joke on me.

So I decided to Google for the recipe and was very unsuccessful at finding that particular recipe. What did come up in Google was a blog that contained the above mentioned recipe! I am grateful..because it is a good one.

JCasa ~ handmade has graciously shared this recipe from her mom on her blog. Here is how I made it...

INGREDIENTS

1/2 stick of unsalted butter (I used a 1/2 cup of butter)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup non-fat greek yogurt (my mom uses sour cream)...(so did I)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 + 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

DIRECTIONS

Cream the wet ingredients then stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.(I sifted them because I misread the recipe!)

Combine 3 Tbsp. cinnamon with 1/2 cup sugar - set aside.

Pour half of the batter into your greased pan and sprinkle half the cinnamon/sugar mix over it. (I used a bundt pan for this recipe)

Pour on the remaining batter and knife the batter a bit in the pan as you would when making a marble cake. I left my cinnamon mixture in a clump and next time I will be sure to incorporate it in the batter a bit more)

Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon/sugar mix on top and bake for 45 minutes on 350

IMG_2719

This coffee cake got hubby's seal of approval!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Decorating 1020202020202

BOO!!

modified

Did I scare you?? After all it is Halloween next week and all of the scary scares are coming out!! My son is having his Halloween party at his Martial Arts School the week before Halloween...so I offered to make a cake. I thought it would be good practice. And with my Instructor Christine of Not a Crumb Exquisite Cakes, awesome guidance I made it through my FIRST fondant cake. I actually am trying to work more with fondant because I was soooo terrified of it. Yes, fondant frightened me. Frightened me more then this cake.

IMG_2690

I am so proud of my achievement. I learned a lot from decorating Frankie. Christine was awesome in telling me about details, teaching me about luster dust and the textural differences between black fondant and fondant mixed with several colors. I had some hiccups but she put me at ease and I got through it.

The cake is a devil foods cake...I did use a box mix cake because I didn't have time to do it from scratch. It felt so strange baking the cake, almost too too easy. I started asking myself why I don't use box mix more often. I know why though...the joy of a successful baked cake from scratch is a great feeling. Moving on...the fondant is Satin Ice green mixed with yellow, baby blue and black. All hair, eyes, nose, bolts and warts are made from fondant with the help of luster and petal dust and edible marker to bring them to life. The picture really does it no justice. The scars and eyebrows are buttercream dyed black. I was nervous about piping because I am still practicing but it was fun because Frankenstein is far from perfect...and so is my piping!!

Hopefully the kiddies at the Tae-kwon-doe Halloween party will think it is awesome because I certainly do!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Luscious Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

IMG_2651


Many people rate Hershey's Recipe for Chocolate Cake. Ya, its okay. This chocolate cake makes Hershey's Chocolate Cake seem like a ...a...well, I don't know. But seriously, this is a great recipe! I took a baking class at Cake Art in Tucker Georgia and the lovely teacher shared a few recipes with us. One of which was this cake. She said "If you are not a fan of Chocolate Cake, you will be after you eat this one." She also said, "If you haven't found the perfect chocolate cake recipe...then here it is. You will never use another." And guess what? I don't use any other.


I have made this cake for my daughters birthday. And everybody raved about it. I make it when I am craving chocolate..which is often. I always keep unsweetened chocolate in the house for this cake only!! Yes, I only make this chocolate cake.


IMG_2679


There she is.


I wanted a birthday cake and it wasn't anybodies birthday. So, since when does baking have a special occasion in my house? Never. I created a little mock birthday cake. I wanted chocolate and raspberries. I have really been on a chocolate kick lately, haven't I? What is that about??? (As I am typing this I am munching on chocolate chips..I have it bad!!)


The recipe makes a big cake. I usually half it and bake it in 2 8 inch rounds. For this cake I split each layer in half and created a four layer cake. I filled one layer with buttercream, the next with raspberry filling and the next I mixed buttercream with raspberry filling. I frosted the cake with the Buttercream and sprinkled a few sprinkles on the edge.


Recipe ~


INGREDIENTS


4 cups granulated sugar


4 cups all purpose flour


1/2 teaspoon salt


2 cups hot water


2 sticks butter


8oz unsweetened baking chocolate


2 cups sour cream, room temperature


2 tsp vanilla extract


2 tbsp baking soda


4 eggs lightly beaten


DIRECTIONS


Place hot water and butter over low heat in saucepan until butter melts. Remove from heat. Melt baking chocolate. Add to water/butter mixture.


While heating water, butter and chocolate, sift sugar, flour and salt into mixing bowl.


With mixer on low speed, add water/butter/chocolate mixture to dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Beat until combined.


Continuing on low speed, add sour cream, vanilla and baking soda, beating just until thoroughly combined.


Add lightly beaten eggs, continuing to beat until just thoroughly combined.


Pour into greased and floured baking pans.


Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes. Test for doneness with toothpick.


Makes two 10 inch layers, 2 inches deep.



I used a Buttercream icing recipe that I go to when I don't feel like making Italian Meringue Buttercream. The recipe comes from one of my all time favorite recipe sites... allrecipes.com. It is a little sweet so I do add less powdered sugar then the recipe calls for. I do not substitute the shortening for all butter as I like how the buttercream crust. When I want a softer buttercream I tend to use the Italian Meringue recipe.


Raspberry filling recipe ~


1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries


1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch


2 tbsp lemon juice


1/4 cup sugar


Combine all ingredients in sauce pan and bring to boil over medium high heat. Let cool.


My tip for the filling... Add the cornstarch last by putting a little of the raspberry/lemon juice mixture with it in a separate bowl and make a paste. Add the paste to the saucepan once all the cornstarch has been absorbed.


Another tip...strain the seeds out of the filling!!


I can't remember where I got this recipe from but those are 2 things I would like to add to the recipe! Otherwise, it was a great filling!


Please let me know what you think if you decide to try this cake!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lentil Loaf

IMG_2541



Lentils. Lentils. Lentils. Oh how I have never heard of thee. Just like our friend the chickpea. I was deprived as a child and now I have been set free!! lol.


My mom rarely tried anything new. She claims because my father was boring. He was for a long time. We'd go to the same restaurants for years and he would always order the same thing. My mom would cook basically the same dishes for dinner. She was a great cook mind you..but she never step outside her box. When he was here at my wedding rehearsal dinner, he did surprise me. Our dinner consisted of a Guyanese menu, as my husband family is from Guyana. My father licked his plate clean. So you can teach an old dog new tricks. he didn't throw his nose up in the air and say "I am not eating that!", no...he step out of his box and tried it. I love my dad even more for that.


As Hubby is a pescatarian, I had to make adjustments to my cooking lifestyle. I learned about this lentil loaf from his mom and set out to find a recipe. Keep in mind, I had never had a lentil before in my life. Now I am a lentil queen. okay, maybe a princess.


This recipe for lentil loaf is the best that I have had. So moist and tasty that it doesn't last 2 days in our house. The sad part is that I have no idea where I got the recipe from. It was on the internet and I did not bookmark it. So if you recognize it please feel free to let me know! I do know the person's screen name and will be able to be a better detective once I get other clues! Thanks!


Recipe~


INGREDIENTS


2 cups water


1 Maggie Vegetable bouillon cube


1 tsp salt


1 cup lentils


1 small onion, diced


1 cup quick-cooking oats


3/4 cup grated cheese (cheddar, swiss, jack or american)


1 egg, beaten


4 1/2 ounces spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce


1 tsp garlic powder


1 tsp dried basil


1 tbsp dried parsley


1/2 tsp seasoning salt


1/4 tsp black pepper



DIRECTIONS


Bring salt and water to a boil in a sauce pan with 2 Vegetable Cubes


Add lentils and simmer covered 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft and most of water is evaporated.


Drain and partially mash lentils


Allow lentils to cool slightly and stir in bowl with onions, oats and cheese until mixed.


Add egg, tomato sauce, garlic, basil, parsley, seasoning salt and pepper, mixing well.


Put in non-stick or greased loaf pan, smooth top with back of spoon and apply glaze ( recipe below)


Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 mins.



IMG_2545



GLAZE


The same applies for the glaze. I asked my lovely lady friends from the What's Cooking board for a glaze for a meatloaf and someone put forth this one. Sad thing is, again, I cannot remember who but have a vague idea. So, if you recognize the recipe..yeah...you get the point!


1/2 cup ketchup


1 tsp hot pepper sauce


1/2 tsp coriander


1/4 cup cider vinegar


3 tbsp packed light brown sugar


Mix all ingredients and spread on loaf. This is great on meatloaf too!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

IMG_2609



I was craving chocolate. Hubby wanted cake. I was tired and didn't feel like going to the store to get cocoa. Even though my favorite chocolate cake recipe doesn't have cocoa powder in it I wanted to try something new. I was going to do a pumpkin chocolate marble cake. But I didn't. I was so tired from being at Straits Restaurant the night before and drinking with some friends I really didn't want to be in the kitchen all day baking a cake. Plus I had a slight headache from the Pinot Grigio that I drank. I only had 2 glasses...my days of drinking are seriously over.


I pulled out the Pumpkin Cake Recipe I made last week. I grabbed some chocolate chips, cream cheese and Semi-sweet Bakers Chocolate. I also pulled out the Bundt pan. I was in the mood to pour or drizzle icing, not plump and spread frosting.


I adapted my original recipe by adding 1 1/2 semi-sweet chocolate chips at the end of the mixing and prior to pouring in a greased and floured Bundt pan. I should have floured the chips first but truthfully was too lazy and didn't care if they had sunk to the bottom of the cake, cause in a Bundt the bottom is the top. Whoopee, who cared..my Hubby was going to get cake and I was going to satisfy my chocolate craving non-the-less. I baked the cake for 55 mins in a 350 degree oven.


While the cake was baking, I mixed 4 ounces of cream cheese in the mixer until fluffy and added 2 ounces of melted unsweetened chocolate. Next added 1/8 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract. I then gradually added 2 cups of Confectioners sugar and put in about 2 tbsp of evaporated milk. I added more and more milk a tsp at a time until the consistency of the frosting was thin enough for me to pour but thick enough for it to hug the cake.


IMG_2617


Hubby was happy and so was I. Again, the pumpkin cake was so moist and rich. And to be hit with the patch of gooey chocolate chips at the top only to finish off with the chocolaty creamy cheese icing is so good!! I love this cake. Good things can come out of those who hung out too late the night before!!

Special Salmon

IMG_2603


Not sure why this salmon is special. I think all salmon is special. We tend to only buy it when our wallets are thick. But there is always a race between tilapia and salmon in this house. Tilapia always wins because I get more for the money and I don't fret when I cook it. I always get nervous cooking salmon. When I first started experimenting with it I used to over-cook it. Then, I under-cooked it. I have baked it, grilled it and broiled it. Never pan-seared...(working on that.)When I got that about right I began experimenting with different seasonings on it.


Hubby loves salmon, when I get it right anyway. He is honest about it too. "Baby, the salmon is a bit dry." "Okay babes. Thanks." I say...secretly wanting to crawl under a rock, (or tell him to cook it himself) but appreciating the so called constructive criticism.


Despite the stress, I enjoy cooking salmon. I enjoy eating it too. And so does hubby. Even when it is dry.


I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and adapted it. I didn't have steaks so I used fillets with skin. And I used red onion instead of green. It is a light flavor recipe for salmon and can be enjoyed with just about any side dish you chose.


Recipe ~



INGREDIENTS


2 (8 ounce) salmon steaks


2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted


2 tablespoons lemon juice


1 green onion, sliced


1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley


1/4 teaspoon garlic salt


1/8 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning



DIRECTIONS


Place salmon in a lightly greased 8-in. square baking dish.


Top with butter and lemon juice. Combine onion, parsley, garlic salt and lemon pepper; sprinkle over salmon.


Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.



Please Note: I tend to not measure my seasonings.. This may explain why they parsley looks like it is attacking my salmon. Just my personal taste. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Apple Frangipane Galette


IMG_2470


Found this recipe and just so happen that I had a huge bag of Red Delicious apples. Just so happens that apples are the ingredient for the What's Cooking Ingredient Challenge!!!


The recipe called for Puff Pastry. I did not have Puff pastry but I did have Shortcrust Pastry that was in the fridge that needed to be used up. So why not? I took a risk. Thought it would be a disaster and it wasn't a complete one. The apples where a bit small and if I knew that the Galette was going to spread out as so I would have loaded more apples on it. The recipe also called for the sugar and cinnamon mixture to be sprinkled on the apples after placing on fangipane mixture...but I threw the slices in the bowl and slushed them around...completely covering the apples! Yum. I was quite pleased with the results of this recipe being I had the huge challenge of not having the right pastry. I made 5 small ones and 1 large one. My hubby ate 3 of the small ones that night! This recipe will be made again!


IMG_2471


Recipe ~


INGREDIENTS


1/4 cup butter at room temperature


1/2 cup Powdered Sugar


3/4 cup Almond Meal/Flour


1 large egg


1/8 tsp Almond Extract


1 package frozen Puff Pastry, thawed (I used this Homemade Shortcrust Pastry Recipe)


1 large egg lightly beaten for egg wash


2 medium apples peeled, cored and sliced thin


1/4 cup granulated Sugar


1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon


4 tsp melted Butter, divided



DIRECTIONS


Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.


In large bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in Almond Meal/Flour and white flour. Beat in 1 egg and almond extract: set aside.


On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry to about 1/4 inch thick. Using 6 inch plate, cut out four circles of dough and transfer to prepared baking sheet.


Put about 3 tbsp of almond mixture in center of each pastry round and spread out leaving about 1/2 inch edge of pastry showing. Lightly brush pastry edge with beaten egg.


Place apples on top of almond mixture in a spiral pattern leaving the pastry edge showing. Mix together granulated sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly on top of apple slices.


Drizzle 1 tsp of the melted butter on top of each galette. Refrigerate galettes on baking sheet for 15 minutes.


Bake at 375 degrees for 18 to 20 mins or until golden brown and the pastry is puffed. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.


IMG_2489


My one large galette!

Apples on Foodista

Spicy Chickpeas

IMG_2454


Chickpeas were introduced to me by my hubby's family who are Guyenese. I had never seen them before in my life. I remember when we was at a family gathering and my hubby tried to feed me a spoonful of "chana" which is what they like to call them. I cringed. Despite not wanting to try them I knew he would try anything I put forth to him, if it didn't contain meat of course. I tried them and needless to say I have fallen in love with chickpeas, garbanzo beans or chana...however, you prefer to call them.


I have used them in chow mein, stir fry, curry, and roasted them and even made patties from them. My children are so so about them. My oldest doesn't like them. My middle child will eat them sometimes, but my youngest loves them. My youngest particularly loves this recipe.



Recipe ~


INGREDIENTS


2 tablespoons vegetable oil


1 tsp cumin seed


1/2 tsp salt


1/2 tsp chili powder


1/2 tsp lemon pepper


2 tomatoes, chopped ( I used potatoes that I had boil prior and diced)


2 (15 ounce) can of garbanzo beans, drained ( I used dried beans, soaked overnight and boiled for 1 hr 30 mins)


1 tbsp lemon juice


1 onion chopped



DIRECTIONS


In a large pot over low heat, warm oil and cumin; heat until cumin turns a darker shade of brown.


Add salt, chili powder and lemon and pepper seasoning; mix well.


Stir in tomatoes(or potatoes); once the juice begins to thicken add in chickpeas and mix well.


Add in lemon juice and mix well; add onions and stir until they become soft.


Remove from heat and place into a serving bowl; serve immediately.



I only used 2 cups of cooked Chickpeas for the recipe above. If I were to use more I would double the spices. I didn't find them to spicy at all. Far from it. They were just quite tasty. I may try to add a bit of cayenne pepper to it but then my kids may not want to eat them at all!


I got this tasty recipe from Recipezaar.com.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin fever! Yes, I have 3 huge cans of it. Since there was talk of a shortage I thought I would stock up just a little. 3 cans is stocking up to me because I normally only make maybe 3 baked goodies a year with pumpkin. And my pint size kitchen can't hold anymore canned anything.


I had some pumpkin left from the cheesecake recipe and decided to use it wisely. I was itching to bake a cake so voila...Pumpkin Cake!


IMG_2416


I googled for the easiest recipe that I could find that would have good reviews and I found it on about.com under Southern Food.


I followed the recipe exactly and the result was an extremely moist delicious pumpkin cake. My hubby really did his best to hold back from eating the whole thing in one sitting.


Recipe ~


INGREDIENTS


2 cups sugar


1 cup vegetable oil


4 large eggs


2 cups all purpose flour


2 tsp baking soda


2 tsp ground cinnamon


1/2 tsp ground ginger


1 tsp baking powder


1/2 tsp salt


2 cups pumpkin puree or cooked mashed pumpkin (I used Libby's canned Pumpkin)


cream cheese frosting (recipe below)


1/2 cup chopped pecans (I omitted)


DIRECTIONS


Combine sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Sift dry ingredients into a separate bowl; stir into oil mixture, beating well. Stir in pumpkin puree.


Pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9-inch round layer cake pans. Bake at 350 degree for 35 to 40 mins. Turn out onto racks to cool. Frost pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with chopped pecans( I used chocolate sprinkles)


IMG_2438


I did find that this cake domed when it baked. I believe that this was a result from my oven being mistakenly up too high. My oven is off by 25 degrees and I forgot to lower the temp by that amount resulting in my oven thermometer reading 375 degrees when I took the cake out! I thought the cake would be dry. Luckily it was far from dry! However, I had to level it and since the dome was so high a lot of the cake went to scraps. But hubby took care of them so I guess they really didn't go to waste!!


Since I didn't feel like practicing any decorating skills I just applied some chocolate sprinkles on the lower of the side and around the rim. It was 1 in the morning at this point!


IMG_2415


I also used the same frosting recipe on the site. I have used many different cream cheese recipes in the past that I love and this one was really good too.


Cream Cheese Frosting


1/4 cup butter


8 oz package of cream cheese at room temperature


1 pound confectioners sugar, sifted


2 tsp vanilla extract


Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl; beat well until smooth. Makes enough for 2 layer cake.


ENJOY!!