Archive | April 2012

The Wait is Over

I know I haven’t posted in almost a week, but I have been swamped. I am a full-time student ( as I stated in my mini bio) and it is finals week. That means, while I have been cooking ūüôā I haven’t had time to blog about it :(. So, obviously, I have a little catching up to do.

Today I am going to¬†tell you about¬†the making of¬† Bear #3’s birthday cake. I asked him every day for a week or so what flavor cake and icing he would like. Consistently, he has said that he would like a Chocolate cake with Strawberry frosting. Not hard, right? Wrong. I think one of the most difficult frostings to make (and make right) is a STRAWBERRY frosting. They are almost always overpoweringly sweet! UGH…

Well, I found a good, rich, moist chocolate cake recipe and started with that. The cake came out great. It smelled wonderful, didn’t stick to the pan at all, it was lovely! While it cooled, I started searching around for a good strawberry cream cheese frosting, thinking that the cream cheese¬†would cut the sweetness a bit. I finally found what I though would be a good one and commenced beating the butter and cream cheese together. everything seemed fine until I got to the Strawberry puree. The recipe was not very clear on quantities, and well, lets just say I got it WRONG!

It was so soupy¬†I had to add double the powdered sugar the recipe called for to get it even close to thickening up, and it still was just too soft. I scrolled down the blog to see other people’s comments and the original poster of the recipe had posted a note saying it may help to stick the icing in the fridge for a bit to help it stiffen¬†up. Ah, I thought, my saving grace! So I covered the icing and stuck it in the fridge, popped in a movie and chilled (hehe) for about an hour.

After that hour I pulled the icing out, gave it a quick whisk and it SEEMED that it was stiff enough to ice the cake without sliding off…boy was I wrong! Not halfway through frosting the stuff already on the cake started shifting, and…..oh, GOODNESS!!! Breaking ūüė¶ (This is when the icing starts separating into its original components, somewhat)

Ugh, I was so disgusted!¬† I sat down at the table with a Bellini (cheap champagne and about a tablespoon and a half of the leftover strawberry puree) and just watched the icing fall off the cake. This is where hubs found me when he got home from work at about midnight. He knows me well enough now to point out the GOOD parts and ignore the bad, so he says “the house smells good, like really good chocolate”. I looked at him, downed the rest of my drink , stood up with cake platter in hand and resolutely dumped the whole thing in the trash. I was just done with it.

The next morning, I asked my little bear if I could switch his cake around. It was his birthday cake after all, and I wanted to give him the choice. He, of course, so sweet, asked why and when I explained he said “yeah, sure” in his quirky little voice (he was only three). My heart smiled and I got to work.

Earlier, when I had first gotten up I scoured the internet for a COMPLETLEY¬†from scratch strawberry cake recipe. Most recipes call for jello, or a white cake mix or soda…rediculous! I finally found one and prayed to the heavens that it would taste good, as I had no time for a trial run. Here is the cake, sans the frosting:

Fresh, from scratch Strawberry cake

Looked good, smelled good and, I prayed, tasted good. Now for the frosting. I am the first to admit that I love Buttercream¬†frosting. However, I do NOT like large quantities of Homemade buttercream, it is (usually) way to sweet, like enough to make your teeth hurt kind of sweet. I did not want that so I set about finding one that incorporating cream cheese. Using that and some really good bittersweet chocolate, I managed to offset the sweetness of the powdered sugar. The frosting was thick, creamy and, THank you, Lord! It was stiff, the way a good frosting is supposed to be! Spreadable and stayed in place :). I finished the cake, stuck it in the fridge and got myself and everyone else ready to head to my mom’s house for Bear #3’s family birthday party. Here is the finished product, which everyone told me tasted delicious :).

My birthday bear was happy with his cake and I was satisfied. My work was done :). Since this cake I have made a few more scrumptious sweet things as well as the savory, so I will be writing about them (very?) soon ;), so Stay Tuned…..

Advertisements

And the award goes too…..

Image

OMG!! so yummy!

    So every week I go shopping with my mom. Now, Im not usually the one buying anything, so its really  a pre-shopping trip, you know, to scope out what is on sale, whats new, that sort of thing. It make writing out my grocery list much easier; knowing where the cheapest place is to get the best stuffs for cooking!    

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Anyway, one of the places my mom goes is to Sam’s club. They have all sorts of interesting things and a very wide variety of stuff. One of the things they have is a large rack of….wait for it….COOKING MAGAZINES!! YES!! Ahhh…its like Mecca for me :). So, I am standing there, flipping through magazines, thinking that most of them have too much other stuff. You know what I mean, advertising, stories; in a word, fluff. I did not want this. All I wanted was a magazine chock full of really good recipes.¬†¬†¬†¬†

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Well, I hear my sister say, “Hey, Melanie, this one looks good” and holds up a magazine that touts “2012 Award Winning Recipes!”, and proceeds to tell me that it is ALL recipes, like, every single page! That was EXACTLY what I wanted. My mom was ready to go, so I took it and was flipping through it with my sisters looking over my shoulders saying, “oh, yum!” ,”that looks good” and “you should make that!”. I had already decided that I was going to get it after I looked at the first few recipes and their ingredients.¬†¬†¬†

     That was something else that kept me from getting some of the other magazines as well. A lot of the recipes called for obscure, hard to find ingredients, or ingredients that I knew I could find, but also knew were pretty pricey. That almost always gets an automatic reject from me.      

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Back to the magazine. My mom, of course wanted to see what all of the fuss was about so she starts looking at it too. She shoves it back in my hands and says….”grr, you are making me hungry!” LOL.¬† When we left I was sitting there really looking at the different recipes, wondering which of them I could make that day for dinner. I saw the recipe for¬† the <——– Chicken Florentine Meatballs over spaghetti squash, glanced through the ingredients and decided that this was whats for dinner! I had to make dinner to take to the hubs at work and figured that¬† would be good. I continued looking through and found the dessert section. Oh, My, Goodness! such a wide array! It wasn’t hard to decide though…..

Image

My hubby said "Don't EVER make this again...My butt is going to be huge!" hahaha

¬† It was going to be this…..This is the single most delicious concoction I have ever tasted! It is creamy, toasty, tangy and sweet! It has a melt-in-your-mouth smoothness that is to die for! I was was completely taken by surprise. I had never, ever made bread pudding in any form, ever. It was definitely a new experience. It was really easy, the most “difficult” part was cutting up the bread, and was more tedious and messy than anything really…. and it was totally worth it!

  My hubs has always told me that he love bread pudding, and I have never attempted to make it. All of the recipes I have ever found always seemed too intimidating. The one in this magazine, though; well, I know why it was award-winning, that is for sure :).

   For my followers: I will be adding recipes soon, so if there are some you want to know about first (as recipes take a bit to type out), let me know what you want first. I will be breaking them down into categories, i.e. breakfast, main course, sides, etc.

¬†¬† There is lots more to come, so …Stay tuned…

Something New…

Image

Deliciously soft when warm....

So,¬† since I didn’t post yesterday, this one might be a little on the longs side…My Husband has, every once in a while, mentioned he likes Beef Stroganoff. This is all well and good, my problem is that he doesn’t care for mushrooms (nor do I, for that matter, thanks to Bear#2), and I was never able to find a good recipe that didn’t call for them.

Well, readers, I finally found one.I told my hubby that I was going to make it for him for lunch when he got home from class. He was, of course, suspicious, thinking that it would have mushrooms. I told him not to worry, and that we were also having<——¬† these delectable rolls.

He left and I started getting busy with my morning chores so I could get down to creating said rolls so they would be hot and fresh when he got home.

As I was in the process of straightening up the living-room, One of my dear friends, Courtney pulled in the driveway with her litle boy. She had had a prenatal appointment that morning and was stopping by to see if I wanted to go to brunch!

Poor girl, I had to tell her no, but that she was welcome to hang out and let the babies play (her boy and Goldilocks are only 6 weeks apart, G being the oldest). She was saying that she was hungry and wanted to try to talk me into going to Panera (one of my weaknesses)…. I hadn’t even showered and so much to do…

I told her I would gladly serve up some of the sausage gravy and biscuits leftover from Sunday and hot coffee I had on the stove…She accepted and kept me company for the morning while I whipped around washing dishes and all the other sundry chores that are never ceasing (whew…let me catch my breath…)

Well, I got all caught up on the housework and set out my tools and ingrediants to make the rolls. Courtney has never made bread, and I don’t think has ever SEEN bread being made, so she was all eyes and questions :).

I enjoy sharing my craft with willing learners, and I may have a student in her. Anyway, I mixed up the dough, kneaded it to a lovely smooth elasticity and dropped it in an oiled bowl to rise. Little Bear#3 has seen the dough in action from this point and told Courtney I did that so the dough would “get big!” lol…he has obviously been paying attention :).

I put Goldilocks down for her morning nap and jumped in the shower ( all about multi-tasking, I had an hour to wait for the dough to rise).¬†When the dough had doubled I showed it to Courtney so she would know what #3 meant when he said “get big”. What started out small enough to fit in a 2 quart bowl now nearly filled an 8 quart. She was impressed, lol..amazing thing, yeast.¬†When given something to feed on, it can nearly quadruple the size of things.

Anyway, so that was only half the work. I punched down the dough and set to making the actual rolls. The recipe I use can make anywhere between 20 and 30 rolls depending on the size you want. I made 20, so they were large, about the size of a sandwich roll. I set those aside to rise in the pan for about 30 minutes and got ready to start the main course.  As you can see in the picture the baked up nice and golden, they tasted even better :).

These of course are perfectly paired with my succulent Beef Stroganoff. I have never made it before from scratch, but my

Succulent Beef with a rich, flavorful gravy..just how it should be ūüôā And NO MUSHROOMS!!!

Nana has and I have watched her make it a few times over the course of my life. I also knew that there were a few little changes that I wanted to make to bring out the best flavor, the richest gravy.

I followed the recipe on the basics such as the spices and such, but i switched it up when it came down to the actual cooking.

I melted the ghee ( I replaced the butter and oil in the recipe with it) and tossed in the beef and onions to brown, along with the flour and spices. That was where I made the first change. I thought that the meat should get the spices cooked in and the gravy could take from that, not the other way around as was said in the recipe.

Once the beef was browned and the onions tender and translucent, I added the beef stock, about 2 Tbsp more of flour and another 1/2 cup of water, brought it to a simmer, covered it and left it alone.  It was time to start the noodles, and all was finished just as the hubs walked through the front door.

Courtney had been trying to get her boy down for a nap on the couch, so Hubby saw her first. He asked her…”Is she playing Betty Crocker?” to which Courtney laughed and answered in the affirmative.

He jokes about my love of cooking and baking, and of my wanting everything to be good (doesn’t every cook?). I know, though, that he loves that I do it for him mostly. I always add extra love into my cooking ;).¬†Very soon¬†I will post about what I made today. All I will say is this: the hubs was genuinely surprised that it came out as good as it did. Also, I made a special treat for the three bears and I will post about that as well so…stay tuned…

Good Morning, Sunshine!

It is a beautiful Sunday morning. Usually we go to church but this morning came too soon, after a sleepless night with Goldilocks…Anyway, when we finally did get up, I decided a hearty brunch would be a good way to get going. I brewed coffee for the hubby and I and proceded do prepare myself and the kitchen (wash up last night few dishes) for cooking.

Last night, my best friend, Heather, and I decided we were going to make Ghee (ghee/gńď/Noun: Clarified butter made from the milk of a buffalo or cow, used in Indian cooking).

buttery, nutty, omg absolutely amazing!

It is very simple to make, tastes delicious and smells even better! My house smelled like a freshly baked croissant :). Heather has been obsessed with a blog, mynewroots.blogspot.com, which the blogger puts up these delectable looking, good for you treats! So, ever the adventurers, we have decided to start trying her recipes, of course starting with sweet treats and such. Ghee is one of her favorite ingrediants, however, so we decided it would be a good idea to make some.

Now that I have my Ghee, I decided it would be a good idea to test it out in a few different ways: baking, cooking and sauteing. I had already figured out what I was going to be making for breakfast, I just had to decided how and where to use my delicious Ghee. First I whipped up some whole-wheat biscuits. Very simple to make, and I just replaced the 1/4 cup of butter with the same amount of Ghee. Those came out tender and flaky, just the way I like my biscuits! While I was doing this, I set some chopped up red-skinned new potatoes to boil for about 10 minutes. After I slid the biscuits in the oven, the potatoes 10 minutes were up  so I dumped them in a seive and transfered them to a hot skillet in which I melted some of my Ghee. I then added some salt, pepper and thyme, stirred and covered them and let them sizzle, giving them a quick stir every few minutes. Put potatoes on low once they are fall-apart tender.

Boiling the potatoes before putting them in the skillet is to give them a head-start on cooking, otherwise they will take forever to cook thouroughly, and no one wants to eat a partially cooked potato, do they?

While the potatoes were going, I started browning the sausage to make my sausage gravy. I have made it many times with butter, but today is all about Ghee. While the sausage was browning I sarted making the gravy. First I measure out about 1/2 cup of flour in a measuring cup and mix in my spices (usually salt, pepper and sage, to taste) and set it aside. Next I scooped out about 1/4 cup of Ghee and dropped it into a heated pot to melt. Once melted, I whisk in the flour/spice mixture until all of the flour is mixed in and it looks crumbly. Next, I add in about 2 cups of milk (you can add more if it needs to be thinned out later) and whisk until it starts to thicken and gets bubbly. Once the gravy thickens, add in the sausage, leaving as much grease in the pan as possible. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes, and you are done! Here is the finished product all plated:

filling and yummy!

Definately a good brunch in my house as it leaves even the most ravenous of tummies full till almost dinner time. I will be adding actual recipes soon if you followers are interested….Let me know! Leave a comment :)For the next handcrafted masterpiece,¬†Stay tuned …..

And so it begins…..

Lately I have been doing a lot of cooking and baking…and when I say a lot I mean¬†A LOT!!! I am talking, everyday, for¬†(almost) every meal and baking in between. What’s the big deal, some might ask. Well, I used to love cooking and baking, but with the advent of four children and different jobs, weird schedules and school (yes, school, I am a full time student and so is the hubby); I kind of…fell out of the habit? and when I did cook it was boring and I hated it. I used to bake all of our bread, plus all kinds of sweets, make full meals, the works! And then, I lost the love. I felt unappreciated (you moms know what I mean) and I was just B.O.R.E.D.! I was so tired of cooking the same things over and over.

Well, all of that changed when I decided to try a scone recipe I found. I didn’t stick strictly to the recipe ( I never do ūüėČ ) The recipe was for a stawberry¬†lemon scone…well, while that sounded pretty good, I wanted to add a little something to it, to give it that WOW factor, you know? So I added….white chocolate chips! OMG!! The flavors in that scone were divine! The look on peoples¬†faces when they try them were suprise and then pleasure when they hit that slightly melted white chocolate…pure bliss! Here is what they look like:

Delicious!

(Click here for the Recipe)

Since these I have made several other flavors. These include: Blueberry, peach/cinnamon chip, apple/cinnamon chip ( I had to use up the chips:) ) and the most recent flavor was ginger/pear. All of them came out tender and moist enough to hold together and¬†SO flavorful! These are not your coffee-house scones, my friends! These are decadent and sweet and absolutely addicting, to eat as well as to make. It is so quick and easy to whip up a batch and have for breakfast. My hubby and I have been eating them for breakfast with our coffee every morning. Of course, my kids love them as well, so I have been making fresh ones almost every day. This has not been a bother at all, as these scones have helped me get back my desire to cook and bake again. I am more inspired now than I have been in a very long time, and it is FANTASTIC!!! I no longer see a good recipe, think “Hey, that looks good” and forget about it. Now, I print it out, or save it to my tablet and go look in the kitchen to see if I have everything for it. If I do, guess what? It’s probably what’s for dinner, lunch, or snack! If I don’t, the items I am missing are sure to go on that weeks grocery list so that I can.

Cooking and baking is fun again! I will be blogging about my adventures in cooking, baking, sewing and DIYing (is that a word?). It is sure to be fun and interesting so stay tuned…..