Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cakes I've Decorated Lately

A couple of cake that I've done lately. Just thought I'd group them all together.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Peach Sorbet

I've already gotten quite a bit of feedback about this on my facebook profile. And, I must say, this peach sorbet was quite good and very easy to make. So break out your ice cream makers and get cracking. Click on the link or scroll down a little.

2 pounds fresh peaches
1 1/2 cups simple syrup (recipe follows)
Juice of 1 lemon

- cut, pit and peel peaches
- blend peaches, simple syrup and lemon juice in blender or food processor until smooth, do in batches if necessary
- at this point follow the instructions on your ice cream maker and process until thickened (it will not be super thick like sorbet, of course, until it is frozen)
- scoop out into a plastic container that can go into the freezer
- enjoy with some whipped cream, a sweetened biscuit (a la cobbler), or a fruit syrup

Simple Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar

- heat in a saucepan until sugar is dissolved, bring to a quick boil, then cool before using
- store leftover syrup in fridge, can be used in sweet tea, coffee, etc.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Brown Sugar Peach Scones

I’ll be keeping posts short and to the point for the next couple posts. I have quite a few things lined up so I’ll just be posting pics and recipes. Today it is the peach scones I made this weekend. We went to a local community event last week and saw these beautiful peaches that a local farmer was selling. He unfortunately only took cash or check and we only had a card on us. He was so sweet and bagged three peaches and just gave them to us. So, if you are in Virginia Beach and are looking for local produce, please go check out the Flip Flop Farmer. Right now he’s set up every Wednesday at our Y-not Wednesday Free Concert Series & Farmer’s Market. But that doesn’t last much longer, so they do have a stand on their farm, just so you know. Just follow the link to find out more.

OK, I know I wasn’t going to talk much but that’s the back story and now here are the pics and recipe.

Brown Sugar Peach Scones**
Adapted from Cream Scones in Art & Soul of Baking

10 ounces AP flour

2 ounces brown sugar

2 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

2 peaches cut in small dice

4 ounces unsalted butter cut in small cubes
1 cup cold heavy whipping cream

1 egg lightly beaten

2 T turbinado or raw sugar (I used straight brown sugar, but only because that’s what I had)

- preheat oven to 425*
- Mix flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
- Cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter or fork. I work the butter in with my hands at first then use a fork. Cut in until butter is cut to medium or pea sized.
- Mix in cold heavy whipping cream and peaches. Mix until just incorporated, DO NOT OVER MIX.
- Grease an 8” round cake pan and pat scone mixture in then let freeze for about 30 minutes or over night. (Side note: perfect recipe to make up to this point then bake off first thing in the morning for breakfast)
- Pull out of freezer and tap out onto cutting board. (You may need to run a knife around the edges to ease it out) Cut round into 8 equal wedges and place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
- Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown around edges. (It took me about 30 minutes to bake but I have an ooooooold oven)

**Just to let you know these aren’t typical scones. They aren’t, as my mom put it, dry. I know scones aren’t dry, they are flakey, but you get the point. These are very nice and moist and tasty.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Vanilla Ice Cream & Loaded Banana Bread

I haven’t been up to much in the kitchen lately. And I guess it took so long getting back to my blog this time because I was hoping to have more to say. But not really.

What I have done is a very yummy vanilla ice cream with strawberries and a banana pecan chocolate chip bread. Both are quite good if-I-do-say-so-myself.

So the first one, the ice cream, is a recipe that I borrowed from a friend and tweaked soooooo, I guess it’s kinda my recipe. But I like it so much I’ll share it with you. Now it’s not strawberry ice cream it’s vanilla with strawberries in it. And very good. I was going for strawberry ice cream but I didn’t get to macerate the strawberries long enough. I didn’t really have a time limit I just really wanted ice cream really bad so I guess I should say I didn’t let them macerate long enough :) Now if you do what I did here and just fold the strawberries into the ice cream at least cut the strawberries smaller then I did. I don’t know what I was thinking but smaller next time, Stacey, smaller.

The banana pecan chocolate chip bread is a hit so far. This I made just because I needed a stress outlet at the time and I had all the ingredients. I followed the Joy of Baking recipe and added 1 cup of chocolate chips, which maybe next time I would do a half cup. And I also added one extra banana but just sliced up, not mashed. And, oh yeah, I added some freshly grated nutmeg too. Maybe a pinch. So it is a loaded loaf of banana bread. And I think that is what I shall name it: Loaded Banana Bread. Sounds like it needs to be soaked in some kinda liquor though. Another lightbulb! I might have to work on that…..

Vanilla Ice Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
¾ c egg yolks ( I ended up using 6 but I had extra large eggs on hand)
½ sugar
1 T vanilla paste

- Mix together egg yolks and sugar in a metal bowl and set aside.

- Mix together heavy cream and milk in a pot and put on stove to scald. Don’t bring to a boil, once you see bubbles around the edge you are good to go.

- Temper the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture by slow adding the hot milk as you are whisking the egg yolks.

- (This is my extra little step) Put the metal bowl filled with the ice cream base and set over a pot of boiling water. Constantly stir with spatula, scraping sides of bowl to ensure eggs won’t scramble. Do this just until you notice it to thicken. This is just like making an anglais but I’m not looking for that kind of thickness. Remove from heat and add vanilla paste.

- Allow to cool completely. Pour mixture into another metal bowl that is in an ice water bath. Don’t stick the metal bowl that you just used on the double boiler. It will just melt all the ice immediately.

- At this point follow the instructions for your ice cream machine. Once the ice cream comes together and looks like ice cream scrape the ice cream into a freezer container and now is the time to fold in the strawberries if you so want to. But this ice cream is very good just as vanilla ice cream.

- If you want to enjoy it now as soft ice cream I wouldn’t blame you. At least help yourself to some now then freeze the rest for dinner later. Then a mid morning snack then a pre dinner snack… You get the idea :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cruel Summer

Hey there. You thought I disappeared again didn’t you? Not quite. I haven’t been super busy but I’ve been keeping busy with a couple projects: both kitchen and non-kitchen related. My main project right now is painting my room. It used to be this yucky brown and hopefully, soon, it will be a nice bright green. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. My other project is keeping my daughter and I entertained while we’re on summer break. That’s probably the most daunting task.

Kitchen related! I made a cute Elmo cake for another of my mom’s co-workers. It came out so cute. I love doing those cakes. The lady I did loved the cake design but not so much the cake. She said it tasted “wheaty”. I am always willing to take criticism and I usually know what’s wrong before I get any criticism. I am my own worst critic after all. But I know you can’t please all the people all the time and I guess that’s what happened this time. If anyone has any ideas of why it would taste “wheaty” I would love to know. I tasted it myself and it tasted like cake, I didn’t think it tasted off in any way. But I will post a picture of it soon.

My daughter had an end of school pool party over at a friend’s house and I supplied the cupcakes. I made a banana cupcake with chocolate swiss meringue butter cream, a chocolate cupcake with a vanilla swiss meringue butter cream and a white cupcake with a cotton candy flavored swiss meringue butter cream. That cotton candy butter cream is my new all time favorite and I ended up eating the rest of it like it was ice cream. I want to make some right now just because! Anyways, all the cupcakes were a hit but they’re cupcakes and my audience was kids. So, I would have had to make really nasty cupcakes for them to not be a hit.

Also kitchen related and keeping-my-daughter-entertained related: we made a couple things out of some of her cookbooks. She has these three cookbooks all from the same publishing company: Pink Princess Cookbook, Fairies Cookbook and Mermaid Cookbook. They are all super cute and for the most part they have recipes that any little girl would love to dig into. But there are some recipes that I’m not sure what kid would like it. But most of them are little girl friendly and little girl approved.
The first one we tried was Rainbow Milks out of the Pink Princess Cookbook. This one didn’t turn out so great but it my fault. The recipe gives you the choice to use pretty much any fresh or frozen fruit. We chose blueberry. That wasn’t the mistake though. I made the big mistake of pouring the vanilla into the measuring spoon while it was over the bowl. And, well…… I ended up pouring too much in… Oops! It ended up tasting, well, yucky. My bad!

Another one we tried was the Bitsy Banana Bread Bites also out of the Pink Princess Cookbook. I love! love! love! banana bread. This one is very kid friendly. I basically just measured everything out for my daughter and she threw it all in the bowl and mixed it herself. We only changed one thing. I had some old bananas in the freezer and when they defrosted they produced that yummy liqueur and instead of using vanilla we used that. Let’s just say that I ate about half of the banana bread.

The last one we tried was the Fruit Salsa out of the Mermaid Cookbook. This was kinda kid friendly. While I was cutting up kiwis, apples and strawberries I had her measuring and dumping blueberries and raspberries. But her job didn’t take very long and she ended up standing there waiting on me to finish. The only thing I have to say about this is that the end product doesn’t quite look like the picture in the cookbook but I thought it was very good. My little girl only eats the strawberries and kiwis and I eat the rest so it’s a group effort but it gets high marks from us.

Bitsy Banana Bread Bites (makes 24 mini muffins)
word for word from the Pink Princess Cookbook (except for my changes, of course)
3 bananas
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla (we used the liqueur from the frozen bananas)
1/2 cup pecans, mini chocolate chips, or dried cranberries (optional) (we used pecans)
powdered sugar for dustng (we didn't even bother with this)
small, fresh, edible flowers (optional) (again, we didn't bother with this)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (I think we upped it to 350).

Mash bananas in a mixing bowl.

Add remaining ingredients (except optional ingredients), stirring until just blended. Fold in pecans, mini chocolate chips, or dried cranberries if using.

Line a mini muffin tin with 24 paper liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Divide batter evenly between mini muffin cups.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Dust with powdered sugar and garnish with a small, edible flower if desired.

It's a sure sign of summer if the chair gets up when you do.

Walter Winchell (1897 - 1972)

Monday, June 6, 2011

An Orange Dreamsicle and an Irish Car Bomb


OK Enough all caps. First of all, thanks for the well wishes. It’s much appreciated. I started my first infusion of Remicade and so far so good. I have to go again in two weeks for another one and after that it should be all clear from there and only go every eight weeks.

On the culinary front I’ve kept a little busy. I made two cakes for a small banquet at my mom’s work. They were celebrating a few birthdays and one guy really liked the Irish Car Bomb cupcakes I made once before so I made it a cake this time. And my mom wanted something kind of on the lighter side for the other cake. It being summer and one of my favorite ways to keep cool is with an Orange Dreamsicle I decided to do an Orange Dreamsicle Cake.

Before I go any further, I apologize now. I don’t have many pictures. I did these cakes really late at night and that was really the last thing on my mind.

Back to the cakes. The Irish Car Bomb Cake is a Guinness Stout Chocolate cake that I grabbed off of The only thing I changed was whole milk for sour cream. Probably made it a slacker batter than they intended but the end result was amazing. I picked it because it was very easily cut in half and I didn’t need much. And even cut in half it still made THREE POUNDS of batter. THREE POUNDS!!! Sorry about the caps again. On to the Guinness Stout Chocolate Cake I put a Jameson’s sugar wash: one cup water, one cup sugar and one sampler bottle of Jameson's. Then, I ice it with Bailey’s Irish Cream Butter Cream. As a finishing touch, a sprinkle of cocoa powder on top.

For the Orange Dreamsicle Cake I took a basic yellow cake recipe that I found on Smitten Kitchen and replaced the buttermilk with orange juice. I also took the zest of one orange and added that in as I was creaming the butter and sugar. It came out moist and flavorful and perfect. I halved that recipe too but came out with two pounds which was just perfect. Just a heads up if you try this recipe, when you add the orange juice the mixture separates. I just used the whip attachment and let ‘er go. But once the flour is added it is just as smooth as any other recipe. And like I said, it came out wonderfully. On top of that cake I did an orange juice sugar wash, just equal parts sugar and orange juice. I filled it with vanilla butter cream and iced it with orange butter cream. I got a chance to try this one and it was so good.

Again, sorry for the lack of pictures. I’ll work on that next time. Next thing I’m making are some muffins for my daughter’s Daisy Scout Troop. They sold enough cookies that they earned a trip to a local water park and we get to stay overnight so I offered to help with breakfast. Then, I get to make an Elmo cake for one of my mom’s co-workers. Those are so fun to do and I will definitely take pictures of that.

So, until next time, love ya!

Butter Cream Base
from the Art & Soul of Baking
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 pound butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix the egg whites and sugar in a bowl of a double boiler. Place bowl over pot of boiling water and constantly stir, scraping sides constantly. Heat until sugar is dissolved. To test, occasionally take off heat and swipe finger over spatula (warning: it will be hot) and if you still feel sugar put back on heat and keep stirring and scraping. When ready, whip in a stand mixer until doubled in volume and light and fluffy looking. Kind of marhmallowy. At this point I take butter that isn't room temp but isn't straight out of the fridge either. Depending on the time of year and how hot or cold it is in the house, I take the butter out as I'm starting this whole process. Making sure that the egg whites are cool enough (if you can touch the mixing bowl that you are whipping the egg whites in without burning your hand off then it's cooled enough) I cut the butter thinly as I drop it into the egg whites as it is still whipping. Sometimes the butter cream will not come together until the very last bit of butter goes in. Give it a chance make sure you scrape the bowl so all the butter gets whipped in. Then add the vanilla extract.

- add Bailey's starting with 4 teaspoons and then adding 2 teaspoons at a time to taste.
- add zest of one orange

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Starting Over

I’m going to try to start this all over again. I haven’t been very good at keeping up with this blog and I haven’t even tried to keep up with it at all. But I’ve had quite a lot going on personally. So this blog post is to reintroduce myself to blogging and to tell you what’s been going on. This is by no means a short explanation and I think I am posting this more for me than anyone else’s use. If it somehow helps someone or lets someone know that there’s someone else out there with these problems then that’s just an added bonus.

When I was 15 I was diagnosed with chronic ulcerative colitis. Basically, if you don’t know about it, during a flare I have ulcers all over my large intestine and almost all foods are off limits. And the majority of my life is spent in the bathroom. It sucks majorly.

I had my initial flare when I was diagnosed at 15 and that was somewhat easily and quickly controlled. I stayed in remission for a good long time. It was almost like I never had a problem. My second flare was a couple months after I had my daughter. That was also quickly controlled. Not as quickly but knowing what I could have gone through, it was swift. But that flare was a lot more severe and wreaked havoc on my body. It was to the point that they were thinking of throwing me in the hospital. But having a four month old baby dependant on me made them hesitate. There was also talk of surgery but they put it off with a lot of medications, some that didn’t agree with me. But it somehow all worked out.

Then came this last flare. Last summer I was having a lot of swelling and pain in my feet. At first there was swelling in my arches. So, doctors thought that I was suffering from fallen arches so they told me to stay off my feet for a couple days. Kinda hard when you work on your feet for a living! But I did it and that swelling went down but the swelling migrated to the rest of my feet. It was excruciating to be on my feet at this point and ended up having to take more time off of work and seeing more doctors. I went through a bazillion tests and x-rays. I was put on steroids to get the swelling down but it took a couple rounds of that to finally get it under control and for somebody to realize that I have arthritis brought on by my colitis.

This whole time my colitis wasn’t cooperating. It wasn’t a problem at first but one of the first meds they gave me was Ibuprofen even though I made it clear that I had colitis and Ibuprofen is a big no-no. I don’t know if I was going to get sick anyways or if the Ibuprofen set it off but I was definitely getting sick again.

Fast forward to the start of this spring. I started getting these red bumps on my left leg that, at first, looked like they were pimples or ingrown hairs. Gross, I know, but that’s what it looked like. They got bigger and more popped up. It once again began to be very painful to walk. It hurt to even get out of bed. It hurt to walk up and down stairs. It hurt to just stand. My doctor gave me yet another round of steroids to calm the inflammation down. They almost went away then popped up worse than ever after I was done with that round of steroids. I returned to the doctor and he put me on antibiotics not sure of what the problem was and when that didn’t do anything he sent me to a dermatologist that knew exactly what it was the second she looked at my legs: erythema nodosum. Another condition due to my colitis.

I seem to have it under control right now but only cause I am now on my seventh round of steroids in less than a year. Long term use of steroids does not agree with the body and apparently my colitis has gotten too out of control for the meds that I’ve been on. My doctor now has me starting Remicade soon. I haven’t taken it lightly since Remicade is really expensive and one of those medications that you hear has side effects that include cancer and death. I’m hoping that this works because this is really my last option.

Assuming that the Remicade will work and make me all better I am going to take this summer and work on some things that I’ve been meaning to experiment with or perfect or just play with. And if I’m a good little girl I will post my results, good or bad, here.