Livin' in the Kitchen

Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

4 Sweets, 1 Day

In Cake, Cookies, Donuts, Jello on March 30, 2011 at 6:02 am

There are no beaches involved in my Spring Break. No good weather filled with warm sun. No trips to Disney or Mexico. Instead I’ve taken a much shorter trip, approximately three rooms away and about as much fun. My kitchen! Come take a trip through my day…

Donuts
First on the agenda this morning was definitely jogging. Good thing too, because it dramatically reduced my guilt for what was soon to come… Donuts! Altogether the dough for these donuts took (a minimum) of 9 hours. I’m super impatient, so making the dough right before going to bed last night cut down a lot of waiting time.

Totally worth the wait. You can’t even compare these babies to Dunkin’ or Krispy Kreams because these knock those out of the park. I didn’t include the recipe, I think that Flour by Joanne Chang should be sitting somewhere on everyone’s cookbook shelf.

Jello
Next on the agenda was jello! I pre-made the jello with a few of the different colored packages I found yesterday afternoon and made it last night so that this morning I could get right to it.

I just cut all my colors of jello into squares and put them all into one large — preferably see-though since, let’s face it, jello’s pretty!

 Then just combine 1/2 cup cold water and sprinkle two packets of gelatin over it, allow to sit for 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 cups of boiling water, stirl. Finally, stir in sweetened condensed milk and allow to cool before pouring over your piled jello.

Then refridgerate for at least 7 hours (and if you’re like me, do it either overnight or busy yourself making something else!)

Done! This jello gives me a whole new, possitive look on hospitals.  Generally when I think of hospitals I think of two things. 1. White walls, 2.  Jello. Uhm, having a doctor wearing all white telling me I can only eat jello the rest of my stay? No thanks. But this jello is actually pretty cool! Not that I could eat it as a meal. Ever. Anyway, I’m calling this my hospital jello.

Cake
Next I made cake! I knew I wanted to do something cool with it, but wasn’t sure what. Fondant was out of the question. That’s something that’s more of an all-day project for me. The base of the cake wasn’t my favorite and I made up the frosting recipe on the spot. I could kick myself for not writing it down because it’s one of my favorites.

To do the hearts all I did was melt semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler, transfered it right after it was melted- not too hot- to a pastry bag, and made hearts/designs with the chocolate onto parchment paper. They went into the fridge for about ten to tweleve minutes, then pealed off and put around the cake. It’s SUPER easy and so much fun! I’ll be doing this again!

Cookies
Recipe-to-come. My friend Claire came over and between her and Nicky they got these cookies done and they were delicious!

Finally the day is done, it’s already morning again and I’m just finishing my yesterday-day. But that’s alright! Because it’s Spring Break!!

My day summed up in one picture:

Thank God I was blessed with super generous parents who get me 25 pound bags of sugar and Kinnect Sports. They know me so well.

A Day of Babysitting and Cake

In Cake on March 28, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Well apparently when I babysit, kids have something with cracking eggs. Not really sure why, but they do. This one was on accident… at least that I know of. I can see you’re quite concerned over the egg lying on the floor, girls. 

Then again when you’re babysitting for 8 hours, the kids are going to have to find something to entertain themselves with. Which is why we made rainbow cake. It still tickles me pink how amazed they were. They took some of the pictures, did most all of the baking, and found the recipes. When we were done they kept scrolling through the pictures and pointing to the first picture, I can’t believe we started here!

Simple White Cake
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350
Cream the sugar and butter, slowly add eggs and vanilla
Stir in the flour and baking powder slowly
Add the milk and stir by hand until just incorporated
(If doing the rainbow cake- divide the batter into as many bowls as you want colors and add colors in each until desired color is reached.)
Pour each color into the pan on top of the next– it will push the batter to the edges on its own
Bake for 25-35 minutes.

Bake it..

We couldn’t find a frosting recipe that used only one stick of butter so we just made one up! It was good and not sickening-kind of sweet which would have been fabulous if the cake was sweeter.

Not so Crackly Banana Cake Batter Cookies

In Cookies on March 27, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Is it possible to bake bitterness into cookies? I’m pretty sure it is: these are my proof. For break my dad and I were going to go to New York and go to a bunch of different bakeries- or at least I had this planned out in my head- until my parents made alternate plans for us and themselves. And these are the aftermath: I-Hate-Vegas-Cookies. My conclusion is that you can bake bitterness into cookies, and bitterness is something that will turn supposed-to-be-crackly-cookies into flat cookies.

Banana Cookies
1 package banana cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 canola oil

Combine all in a standard mixer.

Peanut butter insides
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Mix together with a standard mixer.

Now make a conga-line of your cookie dough, peanut butter filling, and a bowl of powdered sugar.

Take a ball of cookie dough and flatten it:

Put the peanut butter filling onto the cookie:

Fold the sides over and roll the cookie into a ball:

Then roll it in the powdered sugar:

Place it on the baking sheet:

Then press down lightly with a spoon or spatula (I’d say spatula– less dishes in the end!)

Put in the fridge until hardened, I did it for about 20 minutes then baked them.. Wa-La!

On my second-go-around I got a little more creative and used tape to separate the different cookies. I tried it with a plain peanut butter filling, a plain banana cake cookie rolled in powdered sugar, and the filling shown above (my favorite).

Of course I had to peal off the tape right before it went in the oven, but it was a great reminder of wich cookies where made with what.

Spilling Rainbows

In Cake, Colorful on March 22, 2011 at 4:59 am

Today. Track. Almost. Killed. Me. Right after I got done with track  I ran to my newspaper room for paste up (the two nights before our magazine goes to print that we stay at school to finish layouts and work).

 My head was throbbing earlier in the day because of my deep passion for uncooperative students that won’t facebook me pictures of them playing their sports. On top of that I’d just done 10, 400’s on the track and wanted to die. Coming home from paste up, I knew I’d have to bake after Pretty Little Liars. Baking this cake was important for three reasons. 

1. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the colors of this cake. I mean, who could frown at this?

2. It’s my friend Becca’s birthday tomorrow and she’s stuck at paste up for the entire night. Then it’s Christine and Katy’s half birthdays. I brought sugar cookies today but…. Naturally, birthdays mean cake.

3. I now get to practice my spanish vocab (Power to the Spanish 1 class! Or should I say Espanol number uno clase?)… Either way, I’ve got to practice this vocab and it may as well be through cake.

Rojo:

Anaranjada:

Amarilla:

Verde:

Azul:

y, Morado!!!

Just smooth the top color over the other colors so that there will be a surprise inside the cake! I’m also planning on frosting the cakes before school tomorrow!

It’s so simple! Just divide your batter (1 box of cake) into six separate bowls, and mix with color until your desired color is reached. Pour the first color (closest to the bottom) in and then pour the next color right on top of it! This will push the bottom color to the sides!

Let me say, I have a lot against cake mixes. I mean a lot. It’s so easy to make your own cake, but there were a bunch of mixes in the back of my cabinet so I got lazy and used one. I’m actually growing quite fond of these perservative-infested boxes of sugar and carbs because they can do this…. (when they spill over the edge of your pan)..

Why yes, that is batter that spilled over the edge. It baked 10X faster on the bottom of my oven, rose, and had the same texture as the later cake. Never, ever fill your pans too high with cake mix. They WILL spill over. But if you’re not afraid of the bottom of your oven or plan on changing that…  try spilling some of your cake mix onto the bottom of your oven and let it bake away! So much faster! (Seriously!… Ok, maybe not. And if you do end up trying this, bake at your own risk ; )

I know it’s time for bed because my Shania Twain cd just ended, I’ve gone through all of my colors in Spanish, and I am absolutely fried… Let’s hope tomorrow’s an easy day.

Happy-five-minutes-away Tuesday!

Saturday Clowns and Cranberry-Maple-Pecan Breakfast Cake

In Cake on March 20, 2011 at 12:32 am

Today was a fabulously laid back Saturday. Track this morning, came home and watched the Rachael Ray biography… Why yes, I am a nerd and feeling nerdier every day. I also made these breakfast cookies (healthy cookies for breakfast? Count me in.) and a Cranberry-Maple-Pecan Breakfast cake. And in between it all I watched these 9 year old clowns:

 All I have to say is, what a waste of an egg.

I guess entertainment comes at a cost. I kind of figure if the cost of testing out their future dream (becoming clowns) is cracking an egg in a plastic container, what the hay?! I’m not too worried about them, though. Because clearly, they’re forgetting that when they join the circus, they will have to wear makeup.

Cranberry-Maple-Pecan Breakfast Cake
Slightly adapted from “Flour” by Joanne Chang

3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped

1 1/3 cups cake flour
3/4 granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons salted butter
1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk (or a little less than 1/3 cup of fat free milk, add vinegar, and allow to sit for 5 mintues)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 maple syrup
1 cup dried cranberries, soaked for 30 minutes in apple juice

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup

 

In a pan, over medium heat, stir the pecans and 3 tablespoons of maple syrup together until the pecans have soaked up almost all of the maple syrup.
Pour onto a cutting board and allow to cool.
When cool, chop the mixture that is hard until the pieces are small, but not demolished.

Put your dried cranberries in a bowl and allow them to soak with the apple juice for 30 minutes.
Combine all the dry ingredients and the butter in a standard mixer, fit with the whisk attachment, allow to mix for 3-5 minutes.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all your wet ingredients.
On medium speed, add half of your wet ingredients to the dry, allow to mix until incorporated.
Slow the mixer and add the other half of your wet ingredients to the batter until just combined.
With a rubber spatula, slowly fold in the chopped maple-roasted pecans and drained cranberries.
Line a bread pan with parchment paper, so that it’s easier to get the bread out, and pour in your batter.
Bake at 350F for 60-65 minutes.

For the glaze combine the maple syrup and powdered sugar with a handmixer, 20-30 minutes after the bread it out of the oven, pour the glaze over the top of the bread — let it drip down the sides, it looks awesome!

Done and delicious!!

I

This!

Happy Saturday!

St. Patricks Day and Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies

In Cookies, Frosting on March 18, 2011 at 3:51 am

Today was a fabulous day. This may or may not have to do with the fact that I’m Irish and lucky…
I came home to find the newest addition to our family, Herold, swimming happily in his aquarium. (He’s one of those “prehistoric animals” that you grow like you’d grow grow your own frogs. Only Herold is much cooler. He doubles in size every day. Check it out!

Pretty cool, eh? He was too small to see three days ago!

Onto the food (which definitely does not include little Herold). We’re Irish and every year my mom makes a St. Patricks day dinner!

(Veggies and Corned Beef boiling)

And then Nick’s favorite..

Irish Soda Bread!!

It may not be considered a “real holiday” but it’s probably one of my favorites. I’m not too sure why, maybe it’s something about the tradition of it? Knowing that an ordinary day can be turned into something so special just by celebration with food? But is a feast ever complete without a dessert? (My father would generally say, yes.) But for me? Never. Which is why I ended up making sugar cookies!

I got to help out at Gale Gand’s last event and she told the audience how whenever she changed up a recipe and made it into something different and not so good, her mother would say something like Well that’s interesting Gale! This is what started the insistent pestering of my mother, why couldn’t you just congradulation me for trying something new? She told me, “When I tell you something is good, you’ll know it’s true.” She rated these cookies a 9. My twin rated them a 10. My father who won’t go near sweets had two cookies and rated them a 10. These babies are definite keepers. Which is why I’m starting to save recipes for my cookbook, this is one of them!

Process…

Slap on some frosting, sprinkle on the spirnkles!

Wa-la! Sugar cookies are perfect for St. Patricks day.

Did I mention I got a present? A 24 pound bag of sugar. All I have to say is, You rock Dad.

Brownies, a Teacher Quote, and Tight Jeans

In Brownies on March 14, 2011 at 2:15 am

Teachers are selfless. Teachers set the stage for youth today. Teachers affect us in every way. You know when you get that one teacher that says something you’ll never forget? Well that teacher for me is my english teacher, March 11th 2011. Friday afternoon. I’d been interviewing him for the school newspaper and since the context of his quote wouldn’t quite fit into my article I’ve decided to share it here.
“Your jeans are a little tight on you.”
Rewind.
No he didn’t.
Oh yes, yes he did.
My options? A. Blame it on the dryer B. Explain this C. Shoot him your best did you honestly just imply that a teenage girl’s jeans are too tight look:

I went with A: Say that the pair of jeans went through the washer. When the closer answer was B: A bag of sugar that reaches my knees is almost gone after a month. When what I really really wanted to do was C: shoot him a, did you honestly just imply that a teenage girl’s jeans are too tight on her? look.
In his class tomorrow, I’ll be channeling the chef inside of me that would take that as a compliment.

In other news… I made brownies today! Since I started my blog, my Monthly Mixing Bowl page has been sitting there, untouched. Until now! Brownies is the first recipe I’m working on perfecting! Check it out!

Brownies
Slightly adapted from Kittencal’s Brownie Recipe, Recipezaar

10 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, for melting
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, for stiring
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
4 eggs
1 1/2 flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325F.
1. Bring the butter, water, and sugar to a boil, continue to stir.
2. Take off heat and add 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips, then wisk in the vanilla bean paste.
3. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, then add the chocolate/egg mixture slowly, while whisking.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, stir until just combined.
5. Stir in the last 2 cups of chocolate chips.
Cook for 25-35 minutes, don’t overcook!!

Steps made easy in pictures…

1.

2.

3.

4.

5. Mix in the chocolate chips. (I did half with chocolate chips and half without since my mom’s never been a fan of brownies with chocolate chips… she liked these with chocolate chips, figures.)

Evaluation:
These are absolutely amazing, I feel like I’ve already found a winner.
These are moist, they stay together really well, I used mini-chips in these so that the brownies wouldn’t have big hard chunks of chocolate chips
These were basically chocolate-y goodness.
Plus, they don’t harden like you think they would with all the chocolate chips!

Things to change:
Re-check how long to cook them.
Re-figure out what sized pans to cook them in (glass, metal, etc).
Count the amount of servings it makes.
Try making them with more mini chocolate chips.
Have people taste and rate them!
Figure out a way to make them without having them fall in the middle…

I got passed the appearence when I tried them. Usually I only like brownies right out of the oven, but these were awesome cooled, too!!

I’ll be working on perfecting these… because these babies are worth the tight jeans!

Enemy Acids

In Chicken on March 13, 2011 at 1:23 am

Sometimes I eat more sweets than actual food. What can I say? I live a sweet life. But by a burst of inspiration I decided to make a recipe from one of the cookbooks I checked out from school. A recipe that required no sugar.  Hold your gasps of shock for later on, they’ll be better served as bursts of laughter.

I made the sauce.

I squeezed a lime,

And added it to the pineapple mixture,

Then I spread the brown seasoned sauce from above, onto the chicken, sending it to the oven for a fairly quick broil.

Then, WA-LA! A pretty snazzy looking chicken dish, eh?!

This was appealing to the eyes and only the eyes. My first bite was my last. I always thought the day I could take one bite of food and be done would be victorious…. not quite. All it took was one bite of this baby and I slid into acidic-shock (a very severe and painful state for the tongue, lasting up to three days). 

The equivalance of this dish: licking an entire pineapple down to its core, eating two oranges, then sqeezing the juice of an entire lemon into your mouth. 
A pineapple, plus salt, plus an onion, plus an entire lime equals one big bad idea. This is a dish I would feed to my worst enemy. Now I need an enemy.

Friendemies and Double Dessert Rolls

In Cake, Cookies, Uncategorized on March 10, 2011 at 2:49 am

Friendemy. It’s such a stupid word. It causes such distress to me that I don’t even know what to do with myself. Which is why when I thought about these cinnamon rolls and the first thing that came to mind was friendemy… I almost ripped my hair out.

 

You see, these are just so good. But they’re so bad. With every bite I feel every mile I ran at track wither. Wilt. Die. But they’re so good, I can’t stop eating them. Don’t be mistaken. This is clearly a guilt-post. I took one unhealthy thing and made it with another dessert…. two entire batches. I can’t stop eating them either. So, in other words, eat and enjoy!!

These are delicious. However, calling them cinnamon rolls gives the wrong impression. I’d call them dessert rolls. They’re delicious, and I’m particularly fond of  the cake “cinnamon” roll.

Cake Dessert Rolls
Slightly adapted by How Sweet it Is

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 package dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping cup of yellow cake mix
1 stick melted butter
cinnamon
sugar
sprinkles

Scald the milk, veggie oil, and sugar. Turn off heat, take off burner, and allow to sit about an hour or until just warm.
Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let sit for about a minute then stir in 4 cups flour. Cover with wrap and allow to sit for another hour.
Mix in the powders and the remaining 1/2 cup of flour
Flour workspace and roll into a long rectangle, spread the butter over entire surface, spread generously with cinnamon and sugar, sprinkle with the cake mix and sprinkles.
Bake at 400F for about 16-25 minutes.

Cake Batter Glaze
Slightly adapted from How Sweet it is
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cake mix
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons milk

Combine all, spread glaze over the top while the cinnamon rolls are still warm, spread sprinkles over the top generously.
Wa-la!!

(To make cookie-dough style cinnamon rolls, just make your favorite chocolate chip cookie dough and do everything the same. Instead of the cake mix, spread the un-baked dough over the top and roll then cut into desired sized cinnamon rolls. No glaze needed!)

Then bake…

You think these are your friends until you start eating them in place of dinner… and I promise, it’s not the scale that’s broken. Which is why I have no choice but to call them a friendemy.

Flop: Simply not simple Red Velvet Brownies

In Brownies, Flops on March 8, 2011 at 3:09 am

When you’re a teenage girl having a sleepover, there are a hundred different ways to stay entertained. Movie marathons, walking in the pitch black, talking for hours, making sweets at 1am.
Remember the Powerpuff Girls saying? Sugar, spice, and everything nice. Well, apparently, reality tv and cartoons are one and the same. Cartoons lie too. We followed the Powerpuff girl’s instructions to a T while making red velvet brownies.

We added sugar,

We added spice (more like cocoa and lots of food coloring, which is spice in a different sense. Right?)

And when it turned into a complete disaster (ok, so we were a little slap happy. It was 1am. Liz added a cup more of flour than the recipe called for and I tried to fix it by adding oil… olive oil. Hands down the most disgusting thing ever. ) So we tried to fix it by adding everything nice,

I’m kind of a peanut butter addict so a huge spoonful ended up in the batter.

By the time we were done almost the entire contents of Liz’s kitchen ended up in those brownies. That’s why when Liz’s mom whisper-yelled from upstairs that we had to be quiet, we all dove behind cabinets and finished making brownies on the floor.

  This is the first time I’ve ever refused to take more than two bites of a batch of brownies. It’s also the first-and last- time I smuggle brownies out of a house to throw them in a dumpster (I call this destroying the evidence)..

Don’t be fooled by this overly stunning picture of the brownies…. they were disgusting.

Here, does this put things more in perspective for you?

Needless to say, this was a flop. I will never, ever, ever look at olive oil the same way again. Ever. Half a bottle just doesn’t need to end up in brownies. Or anything for that matter. Gross.

Sometimes, specifically at 1am, keep it simple.

Recipe

A half bottle of olive oil

And everything else in your kitchen