Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Garlic–Tarragon Green Beans



I don’t know if I’m the only one that struggles to find side dishes for meals, or even forgets to include a side with dinner. For me, sides are almost an afterthought. I’m trying to do my best to find some new side dishes to serve that are different from our regular  rotation. When I was looking through one of my favorite recipe sites, I came across this recipe. I always have garlic and tarragon on hand so I knew this would be a good dish to add to our rotation. Garlic compliments green beans really well and I was interested to taste how the tarragon would add to the flavor. Overall it was really good dish. My husband claims he can’t stand green beans and even he enjoyed it!

Garlic-Tarragon Green Beans

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2  quarts water

2  tablespoons  salt

2  pounds  thin fresh green beans

2  garlic cloves, minced

1/2  teaspoon  dried tarragon leaves

2  tablespoons  olive oil

1/2  teaspoon  salt

1/2  teaspoon  pepper

Bring 2 quarts water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil in a Dutch oven; add beans. Cook 6 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain.

Sauté garlic and tarragon in hot oil in Dutch oven over medium heat 2 to 3 minutes or until garlic is tender. (Do not brown garlic.) Add beans, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic



Garlic is one ingredient that I use in almost every dish, so when I saw this recipe floating around my Google reader from so many different blogs, all giving the dish such rave reviews, I knew I had to try it! For those that aren’t as sure about using garlic, don’t be afraid! When garlic is roasted, the flavors tend to become much more mild and subtle.  The recipe calls for the use of a whole chicken, but I happened to have only chicken thighs on hand, so I used what I had. Overall, the chicken was really moist and tender and the sauce added an extra punch of flavor. I happen to have the flexibility of living close to work, so I actually roasted the garlic and shallots on my lunch break in order to get a head start. I’m sure you could do the same the morning of or maybe even the night before if you are in a time crunch.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

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1 whole chicken (3½ to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces and trimmed of excess fat (I used 6 bone-in chicken thighs)

Ground black pepper

3 large heads garlic (about 8 ounces), outer papery skins removed, cloves separated and left unpeeled

2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered pole to pole

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

¾ cup dry vermouth or dry white wine

¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Dissolve ¼-cup salt in 2 quarts cold tap water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken pieces in brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse chicken pieces under running water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of chicken pieces with pepper.

Meanwhile, toss garlic and shallots with 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in 9-inch pie plate; cover tightly with foil and roast until softened and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes, shaking pan once to toss contents after 15 minutes (leave foil on during tossing). Uncover, stir, and continue to roast, uncovered, until browned and fully tender, 10 minutes longer, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.

Using kitchen twine, tie together thyme, rosemary, and bay; set aside. Heat remaining 1-teaspoon oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke (I used a cast iron Dutch oven); swirl to coat pan with oil. Brown chicken pieces skin-side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown until golden on second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate and discard fat; off heat, add wine, chicken broth, and herbs, scraping bottom of skillet with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Set skillet over medium heat, add garlic/shallot mixture to pan, then return chicken, skin-side up, to pan, nestling pieces on top of and between garlic cloves.

Place skillet in oven and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers about 160 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, increase heat to broil and broil until skin is crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer chicken to serving dish. Remove 10 to 12 garlic cloves to mesh sieve and reserve; using slotted spoon, scatter remaining garlic cloves and shallots around chicken and discard herbs. With rubber spatula push reserved garlic cloves through sieve and into bowl; discard skins. Add garlic paste to skillet. Bring liquid to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to incorporate garlic; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in butter; pour sauce into dish and serve.

Source adapted from: The Way the Cookie Crumbles, originally from Cooks Illustrated

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bananas- n-Cream Cake



A co-worker of mine brought me some really ripe bananas and asked that I make something with it and bring it to work the following Monday. I was happy to take them since I have lots of recipes I wanted to try out that have banana in the mix. This cake was so good. The sour cream made it super moist and the bananas were the perfect flavor. The original recipe is from Taste of Home, but I found the recipe on Amanda’s blog, Amanda’s Cookin. The cake can be served plain, but the addition of the brown butter glaze makes it super tasty!

Bananas-n-Cream Bundt  Cake with a Brown Butter Glaze

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For the Cake:

1/3 cup shortening

1  1/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1  1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

In a large bowl, cream the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add bananas and mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, stirring just until combined. Stir in walnuts. Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.


For the Brown Butter Glaze (recipe halved):

1/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoons vanilla

2 tablespoons milk

In a medium bowl, add powdered sugar. Place butter in a small saucepan. Melt butter over medium heat until bubbly. Cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown. Remove from heat and pour butter into the bowl of powdered sugar. Add milk and vanilla, stir until smooth.

Pour over the top of the cake and let it ooze over the sides.

Sources adapted from:

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Coffee Lover’s Cookie

I saw this recipe pop up on my Google reader from Joy the Baker and I knew I needed to make them sooner rather than later. Oh my, am I glad I did!! These cookies are heavenly! My hubby’s birthday was in August and since I had been making cakes every weekend for my decorating classes, I knew I wanted to surprise him with something other than cake. The hubby has an obsession for coffee, I won’t bore you with the details, but we have an endless supply of coffee/espresso machines in our kitchen, so I knew these would be perfect for a sweet birthday treat. Little did I know that these cookies would become my obsession!! The cookie itself is like a salty chocolate wafer, but when you add the filling it becomes a perfectly balanced sweet and salty treat, my favorite combination.
Tip: If you like the texture of a crunchy cookie, serve the day they are made. Once the filling is added, the cookie begins to take on a softer texture. I actually liked the cookie better the second day when they were nice and soft, but the hubby liked the crunch from the first day.

Chocolate Espresso Sandwich Cookies
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For the Filling:
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
heaping 1/4 teaspoon  instant espresso powder

For the Cookies:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup plus 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
15 Tablespoons (7 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, but into 3/4-inch cubes, at room temperature

To make the filling:
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to boil over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and add the white chocolate and espresso powder.  Make sure all the chocolate is covered by the cream.  Let stand for 1 minute, then whisk the white chocolate until completely melted. 
Transfer the filling to a small bowl and let stand until room temperature.  You’ll need the filling thicker to assemble the cookies, so cover the filling and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or an hour, until a thick consistency is reached.  If the filling hardens too much, it can be re-warmed in the microwave for a few seconds. 

To make the cookies:
Position the racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder and mix on low speed.  With the mixer running, add the butter a few pieces at a time.  The mixture will have a sandy texture at first and then will begin to form peddle-size pieces.  As soon as the dough starts to come together, stop the mixer. 
Form and roll the dough straight from the mixer.  The dough becomes hard to work with if chilled. 
Transfer the dough to a board and use the heel of your hand or a pastry scraper to shape the dough into a block about 5 x 7 inches.  Cut the block into two pieces. 
One at a time, roll each block of dough between two pieces of lightly floured parchment paper until about 1/8-inch thick.  Using a cookie cutter, cut into 2 inch rounds.  Place 1/2 to 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.  You can form and roll the dough scraps once after the first roll.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking.  Remove from the oven and cool on the sheets for 2 to 5 minutes.  Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely. 

To assemble the cookies:
Place half of the cookies upside down on a work surface.  Whip the filling lightly with a whisk to loosen it.  It will lighten in color and fluff up.  Don’t over whip or the filling may begin to separate. 
Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tip.  I just scooped my filling out by the scant teaspoonful.  Pipe or dollop one teaspoon of filling in the center of each upside down cookie.  Gently, using your fingers, press the cookies together until the filling comes just to the edges. 
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Source: Joy the Baker, adapted from The Essence of Chocolate

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Praline-Apple Bread

It’s apple season!! Before I start breaking out some pumpkin recipes, I have to pay respect to the apple. I decided to try a new apple recipe that I found in my most recent Southern Living Magazine. Who can resist a praline topping! This was a really good bread, only made better by serving warm with some good ol’ butter.  The only thing missing from this recipe for me was cinnamon. I couldn’t believe I didn’t think of it while I was putting the batter together, but I will definitely add it in next time.

Praline–Apple Bread

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1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, divided
1 (8-oz) container sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggsIMG_1335
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, (optional)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped, peeled Granny Smith apples (about 3/4 lb)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Bake 1/2 cup pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 to 8 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring after 4 minutes.

Beat sour cream and next 3 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until blended.

Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients. Add to sour cream mixture, beating just until blended. Stir in apples and 1/2 cup toasted pecans. Spoon batter into a greased and floured 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup chopped pecans; lightly press pecans into batter.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, shielding with aluminum foil after 50 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack.

Bring butter and brown sugar to a boil in a 1 quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, and spoon over top of bread; let cool completely (about 1 hour).


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Almond Rice Pilaf



Rice is becoming one of my favorite go-to sides and is a great compliment to any meal. I love to look for things to throw in the rice to create different flavors and combinations. When I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. The almonds added such a great texture and overall it was a really, really flavorful.

Almond Rice Pilaf

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2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Stir in the onion and almonds. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the onion is softened and the almonds are golden, stirring occasionally. Add the rice; cook and stir 1 minute. Slowly stir in the broth and add the salt and the pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and garnish with parsley.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Monterey Chicken



I have one more grilling dish to throw out before it gets colder. This is one of the first dishes on my mind once the weather turns nice and we roll out the grill. I have no idea where my Mom got this recipe from, but I loved eating it as a kid just as much as I love eating it now. The dish makes such a colorful presentation, but most importantly it tastes great. This is an especially easy meal to throw together and has never disappointed our dinner guests!

Monterey Chicken

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4 to 6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast

1 Roma Tomato, diced

1/4 cup Green Onion, chopped

1/2 cup Honey

1/2 cup Heinz 57 sauce (or similar sauce)

1/4 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

2 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded

2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded

1 cup Bacon, cooked and crumbled

To make sauce, combine honey, apple cider vinegar, and Heinz 57 sauce. (I find that I always have extra sauce, so if you are grilling closer to 4 chicken breast, I would half the recipe).

Grill chicken top side down over hot coals for 5 to 7 minutes. After flipping, baste top side of chicken with sauce. Cook 5 to 7 minutes longer, or until done. Remove from grill and arrange in a oven-safe dish in a single layer. Sprinkle with cheeses, bacon, diced tomatoes, and green onions. Place in a 400 degree oven for 2 to 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pineapple Gooey Butter Cake



The title of this dessert alone should be enough to know you have to try it! I love the sweetness of the pineapple and then the texture of the cake as you take a bite. The original Paula Deen recipe used pumpkin, but it also suggests flavors such as banana or peanut butter. After reading some of the reviews on Food Network I decided to try a different version since many reviews complained that it was too sweet. This version from, The Repressed Pastry Chef  is still sweet, but much more balanced. I have made this sweet treat for both my husband’s coworkers and some friends and everyone seems to really enjoy it. Now that Fall is here I need to try the pumpkin version too!

Pineapple Gooey Butter Cake

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1 (18.25 oz) boxed yellow cake mix

1/2 butter, melted

4 eggs, divided

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 eggs. With a hand mixer, mix until combined. Pat into a 13x9 pan, lined with foil and  lightly coated with baking spray or butter.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, 2 eggs, and remaining vanilla extract. Add confectioners’ sugar one cup at a time until fully combined. Add the drained, crushed pineapple and mix until blended. Pour over cake layer.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, use the foil as a handle to remove from pan. Cut into bars and serve.

Source: The Repressed Pastry Chef; http://therepressedpastry

Also seen at:

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Twist on Key Lime Pie

photo (1)

Looking for a twist on Key Lime pie?!? If you are a fan of coconut, this could be your new favorite. If you are like me, coconut isn't your favorite, but you should still give it a try because it's delicious! This is another Dorie Greenspan recipe that won’t disappoint. I made this back in May when one of our favorite couples, Debbie and Peanut, were here for a visit. Everyone really enjoyed it….and I think I may have had it for breakfast the next morning just to be sure I got a slice in before it was all gone!

 Florida Pie
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For the Pie
1 9-inch graham cracker crust (recipe below), fully baked and cooled, or a store-bought crust
1 1/3 cups heavy cream 
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut (1 cup for the coconut cream layer, 1/2 cup for the meringue)
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

For the Crust:
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

To Make the Crust:
Butter a 9-inch pan. Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist.
Turn the ingredients into the pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs over the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months.)
Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the pie filling.

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 remaining 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. (Be careful not to over whip them!)
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 boiler until the top of the meringue is golden brown. Return the pie to the freezer for another 30 minutes or for up to 3 hours before serving.

Serving: If the pie has been frozen long enough to be firm, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. You want it to be cold but not frozen.
Storing: Covered and kept away from foods with strong odors, the pie can be refrigerated for about 8 hours.

Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Corn Casserole

At some point I’m sure all of you have either made or had some kind of version of  a corn casserole.  I was looking for a good side dish to accompany our dinner and I pulled out a Paula Deen Cookbook that my good friend Mandy got me last year for Christmas. The recipe sounded easy so I thought I would give it a try. We decided the dish would be better titled, “Corn Soufflé”, maybe because of the individual ramekins I used made it look like more of a soufflé, but it definitely sounds more appealing  and is more reflective of  how delicious it actually was!

Corn Soufflé (formerly Corn Casserole)
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One 15 1/4 ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
One 14 3/4 ounce can cream-style corn
One 8 ounce package Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
In a large bowl, stir together the two cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and butter. Pour into a greased casserole. (I used 6 individual ramekins.) Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown. Note: If you use ramekins, the cooking time will vary but about 5 to 10 minutes.
Source: The Lady & Sons, Too! by Paula Deen

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My new go-to Sugar Cookies

IMG_1174Since recently becoming so obsessed with food blogs I have discovered a new favorite recipe book from Dorie Greenspan titled, Baking From My Home to Yours. I wish I could say I owned the book myself, but sadly I don’t. I picked a copy up from our public library after following all my follow bloggers post about Tuesday’s with Dorie. I wish I had the time to participate, but until then I have a few recipes that I myself have tried and loved! I made these sugar cookies for my sister-in-law’s shower. Not only do they look cute (if I do say so myself!) they are super soft and with the addition of royal icing you have the best combination for both look and taste!

All – Occasions Sugar Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minute, until mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.
Divide the dough in half, shape into a disk shape and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least two hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Let cookies rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting onto a cooling rack.
Store at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Say Aloha to my New Burger



Before you put away your grills, I have a new burger recipe for you to try! I purchased a book a couple years back titled, Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2, where I found a version of Red Robin's Banzai Burger. When I first made the burgers I used the homemade Teriyaki sauce they recommended, but since then I have found the Lawry's Teriyaki marinade to work just as good without the hassle of making my own. About a month ago, Michael and I took a weekend trip to Boston and we spent one afternoon around the Harvard campus. We found this nice burger joint with space outside to eat, so we sat down and both enjoyed a burger. They had a pineapple burger on their menu that contained an ingredient I had never thought to put on my burger...Ginger. The combination of pineapple and ginger was really, really good, but I do have to say that there was A LOT of ginger on the burger. I wanted to kick our burger recipe up a notch, so I decided that I would create a Ginger-mayo dressing for a more subtle flavor. This was a great addition and I am quite pleased with the results!

Aloha Burgers

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1 1lb Hamburger meat (also can be done with boneless, skinless chicken breast)

4 slices of Pineapple (You can use canned or fresh pineapple)

Teriyaki Marinade

1 Tablespoon Ginger, minced

1/2 cup Mayonnaise

Toppings (adapt to what you like):



Red Onion


Place hamburger patties in a plastic bag or container. Cover in marinade and let sit for several hours. (I usually prep this in the morning before I leave for work). In a separate plastic bag or container marinate the pineapple slices.

Grill burgers on medium-high heat for 5 minutes before flipping. Once flipped, add the pineapple to the grill and continue cooking until burgers are done to your liking.  I also like to add some more teriyaki sauce after flipping to continue adding flavor. While grilling, prepare the Ginger-Mayo dressing. Combine 1/2 cup of mayo with 1 tablespoons minced ginger.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fondant and Gum Paste Course


I have officially graduated from my second Wilton Cake Decorating class. Mandy and I completed the course back in August. I had a lot of fun learning how to make different gum paste flowers. The carnations, pictured below, were my favorite to make. I can’t say I enjoyed working with the fondant. I had the worst luck with it drying out on me. I never expected to get exercise out of rolling fondant, but it definitely gave my arms a workout! Now I know why the folks on cake shows have a machine to roll the fondant for them…excellent invention! I am hoping that I can continue to use what I learn so I don’t forget how to do it, but I think I will be taking a break from cake for a while. It hasn’t done much for my family’s waistline!!



Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Little Cookies-n-Cream Filling



With all the baking for my cake decorating classes I have been able to try out some new cake recipes. This cake has been on the top of my “to do” list. By the time I got home from class I was so exhausted and I didn’t have good light for my picture, so I apologize for the poor visual, but don’t let that keep you from trying out this cake! If I hadn’t been traveling with the cake I could have made this recipe into 3 layers, but I was afraid that with the additions I would be adding to the top of the cake during class, the cake would not fit into my travel caddy. Not to worry, I made a trifle out of the leftover layer of cake and filling! This cake and filling could also be made into cupcakes and topped with your favorite chocolate icing!

Chocolate Butter Cake with a Cookies-n-Cream Filling

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Grease and flour two 10 x 3 inch round pans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine and whisk until there are no lumps:

1 cup hot coffee

1 cup cocoa powder

Add and whisk until smooth:

1 cup cold water

On a piece of wax paper, sift together:

3 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat at high speed until light and fluffy:

8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups sugar

On medium speed, add slowly and cream well:

4 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Add the dry ingredients alternately to the butter and egg mixture with the cocoa, mixing until smooth.

Pour 3 cups of the batter into one 10 – inch pan and the remaining batter into the other 1o –in pan. Bake the less full pan for 20 to 25 minutes and the fuller pan for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes before turning them out of their pans.

Cookies and Cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer at high speed, whip until stiff:

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Gently fold in:

20 chocolate sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, crushed into medium pieces.

Source: The Whimsical Bakehouse: Fun-to-Make Cakes that Taste as Good as They Look! by Kaye and Liv Hansen

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wilton Course I

For the month of July I have been spending one night a week taking a Wilton cake decorating course at our local Michael's craft store. I was super excited to take this class and I had so much fun with it. This class was designed to teach you the basics of pipping. My friend Mandy signed up to take the course with me....our husbands now have high aspirations for us to start making some $$ now that we've graduated from the course. Mandy and I have other plans, we've decided to expand our education and signed up for another class. Here are a few pictures of my cakes from week 2 and 4. Stay tuned for pictures of future cakes from my next course, Fondant and Gum Paste!!

IMG_1031 IMG_1029  IMG_1163

 Class 4 - Roses