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Thursday, February 28, 2013

My First Attempt at Ruffles

Ruffles? This may sound like I will post about sewing but given my limited sewing skills, I'm attempting ruffles in the kitchen before attempting them in my sewing room. I can honestly say I have not made either before. I have made several cakes lately decorating with roses and since I have that pretty much (to my satisfaction) mastered, I have admired cakes that had the ruffle look to them so I wanted to try that next. I wanted to make a cake that was different from what I had been making lately, so I made this Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake. Since I wanted a layered cake, I used regular round cake pans and not a bundt. I also used dark chocolate cocoa as well as chopped dark chocolate pieces. I didn't go with the blog's recommended frosting recipe (however, it does sound quite good & will use at a later date), I used my go-to buttercream and colored it the Tiffany blue. I am pleased with how it turned out, but I think I need to make my rows a little wider, but not bad for the first time. I followed this youtube video for the procedure and I was little disappointed it didn't show more on how to do the top. That, I know I need more practice on. I tried to find other instructions to show how to do the top better, but every blog I found referred to this same video. Oh well, practice makes perfect so I will just keep practicing!

If anyone knows any helpful tips for this ruffle decorating, I'd love to hear them. But for now, I will show you my cake :)

Not really quite sure how the top is supposed to look like, since I didn't get a good view from that video.

the ruffles up close & personal

 when you cut a piece, I think it looks pretty so the top didn't turn out too bad.

I like the contrasting colors of the dark chocolate with the Tiffany blue frosting!

I've already got my next style of decorating I want to attempt picked out after I master the ruffle!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Breakfast Is My Favorite Meal

I think... LOL. I'm not sure I want to commit to just one meal since I do like them all. :) But, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it's fun to start out with something really deeelish. Like take these awesome Bacon & Corn Griddle Cakes from Lori Lange at Recipe Girl.... I like to make these as a treat once in a while. One time I made the cakes with a fried egg in between a layer and the hubs loved that. This morning I added a few things that didn't exactly make it a healthy, low-cal breakfast since I fried up some leftover cheesy potatoes from last night's meatloaf dinner. And added sausage... but the combo was a winner! I also used pepper jack cheese as it's one of my favorites.

I mean seriously, how can you go wrong with this?

Course, you don't have to add fried cheesy potatoes, but it was a good way to clean out the left overs. 

I encourage you to at least try the griddle cakes :)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tribute to Fat Tuesday....

In celebration of Fat Tuesday, I made 2 pies today. My husband is a pie man - he LOVES his pies, as well as my dad. I'm not a big pie fan (or sweets in general) but I saw a picture of a poppy seed pie crust and knew I had to make a pie with that. I used my stand by pie crust recipe from my mother and threw in about a half cup of poppy seeds.

The pie crust recipe makes 2 crusts, either 2 single pies or one with a top & bottom crust.

My first pie will be a Sour Cream Lemon Pie, a good choice I thought for the poppy seed crust since lemon & poppy seed are often together. The recipe is found HERE. As I've previously mentioned, I'm not a lemon fan but my hubby likes lemon. But I will admit, I did have a bite and it was pretty good! It ends up being a pretty yellow pie!

Doesn't the pie crust look pretty neat?
Of course we topped it with fresh whipped cream :)

 The second pie I made was a fresh Strawberry Pie. My local grocery store had fresh berries from Florida on sale for $1.99/lb so I picked up 2 pounds. My strawberry pie recipe that I use I can't really credit just one person... I used a basic recipe that I found that does NOT use jello (I hate boxed jello or cake mix recipes) and also read reviews on several different recipes and kind of use a little bit of something from everyone LOL.

This is my "go to" recipe:

1- 9" pie crust, baked (recipe to follow)
2 pounds fresh strawberries, washed & cut
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup Ginger Ale

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1.5 tbsp powdered sugar

small amount of chocolate chips

Most recipes say to arrange half the berries in the shell and mash the remaining berries combined with sugar in a pan. I don't like big pieces of strawberries, so I mash them all. It's all preference I guess. At this point I melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and paint the bottom of the shell with melted chocolate. This helps to keep the crust from getting soggy from the berries as well as add a little surprise :). Set the crust in the frig to harden up the chocolate. In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese & powdered sugar until mixed well. Spread on top of the hardened chocolate.

I did slice a few strawberries to lay on top of the cream cheese.

 Place pan of mashed berries and sugar over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and soda. Gradually stir the soda mixture into the boiling strawberry mix, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, stirring constantly. Set aside from heat to cool just a few minutes. Pour into pie shell and refrigerate until firm, usually a few hours. Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Here is my mother's easy and light & flaky pie crust:

2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
5 tbsp cold water

Preheat oven to 425. Put flour in a bowl and sift with a fork. Add salt. Measure the 1/2 cup oil in a 1 cup measuring cup and add the water to the oil. Pour into the flour mix and mix well with a fork. Roll into a ball and cut in half. Roll out between a layer of parchment paper (bottom) and waxed paper (top). Lay in pie plate and flute the edges. Prick crust bottoms with a fork. Bake unfilled at for 10-12 minutes. If filling, bake according to recipe instructions.

Don't forget to wash your fruit! :) I'm off to deliver a piece of each pie to my parents!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"If Thou Tastest a Crust of Bread....

thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.” --Robert Browning.... People, I'm here to tell you, get ready to taste all the stars and all the heavens with this Mom's Wonderful English Muffin Bread recipe from One Good Thing By Jillee (not me haha). Now, I admit, I was a little skeptical at first and did not want to "waste" 11 cups of flour making 4 loaves of bread I wasn't sure was going to be all she claimed her mother's wonderful recipe was. So, I made half the recipe and made only 2 loaves (plus I only have 2 loaf pans). I have one word to say about that - DON'T. Make all 4 because you'll regret making only 2 like I did (since I already have a half loaf eaten by myself just in the time it took me to do this post.) I am loving just eating it toasted with butter (I'm not a jam Jill). So, don't walk - run to your pantry and get this bread going. She doesn't mention how long it takes to rise, just says until it reaches the top of your pan. I was going to time it myself to give an idea of how long but I set my oven to 175 degrees, turned it off when it got there and left the door open just a crack to let mine rise inside. I forgot to see how long it took but I'm guessing it was less than an hour. Mine also baked in about 32 minutes, but again I only had 2 loaves. The dough WILL be very sticky - that's OK. Here is my taste of the stars and heavens......

perfectly browned on all sides

I really hope you do go make yourself some, the recipe stands up to it's name - thank you Mom Carole! For this batch I used all bread flour, I think my next batch I will make half bread flour and half whole wheat flour.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Life Is Uncertain, Eat Dessert First....

I know how important it is to eat healthy and I basically do try to prepare healthy meals for my family but one area that I suppose could use some improvement in the health department is dessert. Not that I'm going to get that request from my family as they all pretty much have a good healthy sweet tooth. Actually, I think my husband and youngest have ALL sweet teeth in their mouths! I have made some pretty rich ones lately, French Silk Pie -although one of them (yes, I made it twice in a row) I made with a heavy cream substitute of regular 1% milk and cornstarch and the difference in calories/fat was dramatically less (but not the taste) so that made me feel really good! So after 2 silk pies and 2 pans of Cream Puff Cake (ooh, I will get to that later!) I decided to make a little lighter dessert, Orange Poppyseed Tea Cake. It's not light and fluffy like a birthday cake but more dense, but absolutely deelish.... and beautiful! I love poppy seed and usually it's paired with lemon or almond (which I'm not fond of either) so the orange appealed to me.

Doesn't it look too pretty to cut into? The recipe can be found here but I did make a few changes to the recipe. I didn't splurge the $8 for the vanilla bean paste, I just used the same amount of pure Vanilla extract. I used a 9" round cake pan, 14 tbsp of butter and baked it at 325 for 55 minutes. For the frosting, 250 grams of cream cheese equals like an 8 oz block plus almost 1 more ounce, but I just used the one block. You can really frost it any way you want but I just like to mess around making stuff pretty. :) After all that, this is what you get to reward yourself with:

Since it's a tea cake but I'm not a tea drinker,  I must admit I had a piece for breakfast with my coffee.

And here's a purple one I made for my mom's birthday a few days later....

And, here is a pink one I did at the request of my girlfriend for her daughter's birthday. It's not the lemon tea cake (a chocolate and vanilla checkerboard) but also the rose frosting.

checkerboard inside!

little batter leftover for some cupcakes!

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