Friday, July 30, 2010

To Frost or not To Frost, that is the question.

This is a redeux of my Ugly Mug Cake.
Which was truly...ugly.
Despite its unfortunate looks, it is really tasty.
You know those days when you really just need some chocolate cake?
But, who wants to drag out every bowl you have and heat up your already hot house with the oven?

Hence, I give you, a cake of your very own, to frost or not to frost, to share or not to share.
Feel the power?
You're welcome.

Again, what you'll need:

1 pkg. chocolate cake mix (Pilsbury, Betty Crocker, generic, whatever you like)
1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) instant chocolate pudding mix (instant)

Mix these together and package up in a large mason jar, gallon ziplock bag, etc. This is your base for many, many, ooey, gooey, chocolate fantasms of joy.
(I think I hear villagers rejoicing)

1/2 c. of your chocolate cake/pudding mix
1 heaping Tbsp. sour cream
1 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract (use the good stuff, people)
1/4 - 1/3 c. coffee (I usually just grab whatever is left over from the coffee pot. You can use water here, as well)
1 Tbsp. chocolate chips (the mini ones work best)

Mix up your ingredients and spoon into a cereal bowl that you've sprayed with non-stick spray. Now, all bowls are not created equal. Make sure your bowl is microwavable and don't fill the it more than halfway with your batter. As a tiny, chocolate Chernobyl may result in your microwave.

Oh, the humanity!

Microwave on full power for about a minute and a half or so. Again, all microwaves are not created equal. If you have an ancient one, it may take a few seconds longer than a brand new, technologically advanced zapper.
Mine takes exactly 1 minute 45 seconds.

To make it pretty, top with whipped cream, frosting or iiiiiiiiice cream...NOM.
Or don't, its your choice.
As it is pretty dang decent plain and simple.

This little cake, too easy to be true, is so rich and moist. It reminds me a bit of a flourless torte.
Go sit in the corner, hovering over your decadent treat like a vulture, growl at the kids and the dog. But, whatever you do, just don't tell Jacques Torres, he'd probably retract my rights to touch chocolate ever again.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Vanilla Bean Dulce de Leche Macarons

okay, so these are rather messy, infuriating and a little complicated.
but, oh so worth it!

see the little "foot"???
I fiiiiiinally got them.

For the recipe, I used THIS recipe from Tartelette.
She seriously rocks macarons in a big, bad way.

The only thing I changed was I left out the violet sugar and added ground vanilla beans. For the filling, I used canned Dulce de Leche with some good vanilla added to it.
That's basically it. Id walk you through it, but seriously, check out Tartlette's site, she's a pro at this.
The infuriating part is trying to get them the same size.
Mine looked like the line up at 7th grade gym class...too tall, short, chubby, scrawny, one picking its nose...gah.
I've found I like the smaller ones (1.5 inch) as opposed to the larger ones. They are just cuter, more compact, like me. ha.
I ended up baking them at 325*F for about 15-18 minutes.

I so wanna make blue ones...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lemon Basil Bread

From the bakeries atop Mount Olympus, Atlantis, Nirvana, Heaven, or your choice of paradise comes this delicate, beautious rendition of the staff of life.
Tall, fluffy, soft, perfect.

okay, is that enough?
what an introduction, eh? lol
This is an exact mimic of the lovely bread Jennifer and I purchased at her farmer's market from a Syrian bakery.
okay, the bread we bought was lemon sage, but I have basil in my garden, so there you go.
I truly hope you love it as much as I do.

what you'll need, my pretties...

got a kitchen scale?
good, you'll need it!
Weigh up a nice potato, you'll need at least 8 ounces of potato after its peeled.
Dice it up and in a saucepan, cover it with at least a cup of water or so.
Boil until its soft.
Once its soft, remove the potato from the water, weigh out 8 ounces of boiled potato.
You'll also need 3 1/2 ounces of the potato water, add that to your potato.

Mash the potato in the water with a fork until you get a mushy mash. That sounded redundant. Set aside to cool off.

In a mixer bowl:

1 lg. egg yolk
2 oz. white sugar
2 oz. half and half or cream
1 1/2 tsp. lemon extract

Add cooled off potato mash and...

2 tsp. dry yeast

Mix on low until combined, then add:

12 oz. bread flour
3 oz. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt

Mix with paddle attachment for a couple minutes then add:

1 oz. shortening (stay with me here...)
3 lg. basil leaves, minced (you could use dry here, a teaspoon or two?)
1 tsp. lemon zest

Let the mixer work for a couple minutes until you get a shaggy dough, remove the dough from the bowl onto a piece of parchment paper doused (doused?) with a few tablespoons of flour.
It will be sticky, don't worry!

Roll it around and coat it in the flour and turn the edges underneath itself forming a smooth ball. At this point, most of the flour from the parchment will be incorporated.

Place the smooth dough in an oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise 40-45 minutes or until about double.

Divide into two equal pieces (this makes two 1 lb. loaves) and place in two greased bread loaf pans, dust with flour. My pans were a little smaller than standard. I think they were about 7 1/2 inches long by 4 inches wide.
Allow to rise, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until dough is about 1 inch above the edges of the pan, this took me about 45 minutes.
When there is about 10 minutes left on the rise, preheat your oven to 350*F.
CAREFULLY remove the plastic wrap after the rise, you don't want to deflate your loaves for goodness sake.
How tragic would that be?
Babies would cry and angels would weep. So sad.

Bake at 350*F for about 35 minutes. At the 25 minute mark, I quickly opened the oven and placed a piece of foil across the top of the loaves so they didn't get too browned on top.
Other pan sizes will vary the baking time, just keep an eye on them.
If you have a thermometer, the internal temp should be 190*.

Look at that oven spring!!

Oh, the crumb...the soft, slightly sweet, lemony, basily (basily?) taste....

My daughter and I dived in as soon as the loaves were cool and tried it plain, with butter and with vanilla honey butter.
Stop looking at me like that.
Does this bread make my butt look big?

Yeah, just like that, baby!

Once your loaves have cooled, keep wrapped in plastic so they don't dry out.
Resist the urge to slice and eat every loaf with a stick of butter while vegging out in front of the tv watching The Office, making bread is HARD!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Farmer's Market Trip

Recently, I visited Colorado to see my BFF and her town has the cutest little farmer's market!
Check out some of the images I captured for you.

Beets, gorgeous, colorful beets!

Wildflowers abounded, it took A LOT of restraint not to buy every single bunch!

Have you ever seen more beautiful onions in your life??

Oh, the breeeaaaad....people, the BREAD! There will be a blog post very soon as I was bread obsessed when I got home.

Never in my days have I seen squash like these, perfectly split down the middle with colors of green and yellow. Superb!

Tomorrow, there will be a post about bread, some of the most incredible bread Ive ever tasted.
When I got home, I researched and read till my eyeballs dried up.
Today, I was able to perfectly mimic the bread we got at the Farmer's Market.
You're gonna love it!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Zucchini Potato Latkes

Got so many zucchini you don't know what to do??
Are neighbors leaving sacks of them on your porch, ringing the doorbell and running?

what you'll need:

1 cup grated, packed zucchini
1 cup grated, packed potato (I used a red potato)

grate your veggies and squeeze out as much juice as you can, the drier the better!
then add:

1 lg. egg
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 t. onion powder
1 clove garlic, minced
3 lg. basil leaves, minced (or 1 tsp. dry)
3 T. self rising flour
1/2 c. shredded cheese (I used some colby, but any kind is fine)
1 T. (heaping) sour cream

mix all together and drop into a hot skillet by 1/4 cup amounts, flatten the mixture with a fork to about pancake thickness, saute in olive oil over medium to medium-high heat until crispy brown.
serve with sour cream and chives, if you'd like!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Upcycling, Redoing, Creating

If you are anything like me, you change your decor about every 2 or 3 years as the fancy strikes.
And its not like Ive got a billionaire sugar daddy to fund it all.
My usual pet peeve is expensive pillows.
A great way to punch up a blah room is great pillows, right?

Have you priced them?
Holy cow!
Since Im less one arm and a leg now and don't have the others to spare, I figured Id break out and make my own.

Now, Im quite an impatient Patty and did NOT want to sew together a pillow.
So, I found a plain aqua pillow at a superstore (Meijer) on clearance for $5.
I doubt I could've bought the fabric and stuffing for that price.

To make it decorative, I pulled out my stash of felt (which can be found cheaply) and cut out an owl shape, his belly, eyes, beak and some leaves.
Using some embroidery floss and a tapestry needle, I simply sewed together what I thought looked cute.
(you can find TONS of inspiration if you google, I promise)
Using hot glue, I glued him onto the pillow, then randomly glued the leaf shapes.
Ive got a decorative pillow that cost me under $6.

Since felt doesn't ravel, think of all the possibilities!
Flower silhouettes, birds, cats, dogs, houses, clock shapes, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
I need more pillows =)


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