Livin' in the Kitchen

Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Patience and Cake Pops

In Cake Pops on April 27, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Fishing takes time. This past Saturday, after a day of baking and rocking out to old cds, I headed out with my Dad and some of his friends, Ry, Chris, Kyle, and Nicky to smelt fish. Apparently at one point the waters flourished with these fish. Now, not so much. At the end of the day we had 10 fish (about the size of two fingers put together in a salute) and 9 people. It’s definitely a good thing that there weren’t a lot of these, afterall, I named one of my little friends Flipper.

We ended up eating brots and hot dogs in the back of Jimmy’s truck, waiting for more fish that didn’t come. The point? Things never turn out how you plan, always have a back-up plan. That became my modo over Easter weekend… When something doesn’t work, you make it work or you move on…

Every single time I make my favorite red velvet cake recipe (Bakerella.com) I forget the baking soda. The batter makes it into the pan without baking soda, every time. But no worries. I can fix it, right? So I throw into each pan what I thought was baking soda… but instead of putting in baking soda (which reacts with acids) I threw in baking powder. Some things just can’t be saved. This was one of them.

Then I made blueberry muffins from the cookbook Sarabeth’s Bakery. Oh yum! They were made with the juice of one orange and the zest of one orange, which was hard because all the oranges in the house were on their last legs. But in the end, you couldn’t tell. They tasted fabulous!

Since we were having brunch, we needed another muffin recipe. So I ended up making my standard lemon poppy seed muffins which were delicious! With all the craziness, I forgot to add the salt. Which really does bring out the flavors, so that was a little disappointing. But they came out beautifully and rose even more than usual. Maybe because the salt wasn’t in there to eat up any of the liquids?

Finally, the one thing I was most afraid of messing up, Cake Pops!! These things are the bomb. I’m officially convinced. In California, everywhere we went they posted the calories next to the food item on the menu. I was half-tempted one day before one of our conventions to get a Starbucks cake pop. Couldn’t do it. There were 180-190 in a bite of cake. Now I see why, you can stuff a whole lot-0-cake into one pop!

I was so thankful there were no calorie counts standing in front of my display of cake pops, because man-0-man, I couldn’t stop at one pop! They’re so much fun, and you can make them festive for anything.

Cake Pops
1 package confetti cake mix
2 cups frosting (Store bought or homemade. I did some homemade cream cheese frosting, Mmm!)
Semi-Sweet chocolate chips
Almond Bark
Sprinkles
lollipop Sticks
Styrofoam

Bake the cake as directed on the package, allow to completely cool.
Put the cake into a large bowl along with *frosting*, mix together with hands. (I don’t like the cake a completely smooshy mess, so what I did was mixed it just until it came together, but you could still have the texture of the cake.)
Roll the cake into balls about 1-2 inches, not huge, otherwise they won’t stay balanced on the end of your lollipop sticks.
Heat your semi-sweet chocolate chips directly over the stove on low heat, stir until completely melted.
Allow the chocolate to come to almost room-temp. before dipping your lollipop sticks in, smother top tips of the sticks, then stick them into your cake pops. Repeat. Once the chocolate has hardened enough to hold your cake pops up, stick the sticks upright into the styrofoam. Allow to chill in the fridge for about 3 hours or overnight.
Chop the almond bark and heat it over the stove on low-heat. Allow to come down to close-to room temperature, then dip cake pops in.
Hold the cake pops over the pot until the excess almond bark has dripped off, distribute the sprinkles over the pop before it becomes room temperature. Pop it back into the styrofoam and repeat.
Done!

Cream Cheese Frosting
Slightly adapted from this Recipezaar Recipe
1 8oz package cream cheese
1 stick butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
dash of salt

Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Add the dash of salt and powdered sugar in slowly, scraping the bowl until completely incorporated.

I love cake pops and they’re delicious, really make sure you don’t smoosh them around with the frosting too much, though. Then they go from tasting like a deliciously moist treat, to a baby treat. Gross. I brought one to my friend in math class and she said it was one of the most moist, delicous cakes ever! These may take a lot of patience, just like to fish did, but in the end, it’s worth it!

Leftover Frosting Cookies and Variety

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2011 at 4:14 am

Endless breaths needed to breathe until my last day consumes me. The need to eat consumes me. The need to make dessert each and every day consumes me. Rolling in the Deep sung by Haley Reinhart consumes my room as I write this blog post. And track consumes my every-day life. I love it, but sometimes a girl needs a little variety. Which is why I love dessert so much; there’s always a basis: sugar, and from there, the possibilites are endless.

Frosting cookies. Need me to say that one more time? No problem, I felt the same way the first time I read of such thing.Frosting cookies.  Have left-over frosting? Like super-chewy cookies? Then frosting cookies are the ones for you. You can really make them however you feel. Any frosting, any flavor, go for it! You can really develope recipes into your own, and this is how I developed a vanilla frosting cooking into my own…

Frosting Cookies
I used the basis of this recipe
3-4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 entire lemon’s zest
1 cup cream cheese frosting
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven 350
Cream the frosting and sugar, add the rest of the ingredients — Just don’t overmix
Roll into balls as big as desired
Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until done.

It’s that simple! Baking doesn’t have to be hard, or by a recipe. And it’s definitely awesome when you find something where you can use your left-overs. I almost always have a container filled with frosting in the fridge that either goes to waste or, if it’s really good, my mom will eat a spoonfull at a time of it until it’s gone. Having another thing to do with left-over frosting is awesome because I can keep it from going to waste, or worst, to my mom who never seems thankful for the delicious never-ending supply of extra frosting in our fridge.

Birthdays and Cookie Cake Stacks

In Sugar Cookies on April 21, 2011 at 1:05 am

This week has been a long one. From hard track workouts to next to no sleep to loads of makeup work. But the one thing I always have to look forward to, after track, are making more sweets and eating the leftovers! Courtesy of one of my best friends who lives down the street- Mag- and my twin brother, sweets generally disappear fast enough for me to make more that night! It’s a fabulous setup, really. But yesterday was a special day: Mag’s birthday!  

At first I thought, birthday = cake. But after a while of thinking about it… Mag loves sugar cookies! So why not a stacked old-fashioned sugar cookie cake? 5 layers each!

Birthday girl blowing out her candles!

Happy birthday in 364 days Mag!!

Trips, Inspiration, and Pie

In Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Pie on April 18, 2011 at 1:20 am

You guys probably noticed I haven’t been posting a lot lately. Life’s really been  picking up and slowing down all at once. My newspaper class got back late last night from our last trip before summer: Anaheim, California. Check out where we went while we were there: 

Bubba Gump’s Shrimp! The food was amazing. We got hush puppies as an appetizer, I got shrimp scewers for a meal- really pretty spicey-, then my friend and I shared a cookie cake topped with ice cream and whipped cream for dessert. The food was great, and the idea of the dessert was fabulous…

But I’m a dessert snob and thought the cookie was too dry, the flavors wern’t all there – although the calories sure were, they put calorie lists on everything in Anaheim- Coming home, my goal is to make this cookie not only look good but taste great. Update on that soon.

All I wanted in Anaheim was cookie dough or a jar of peanut butter- neither of which I found. Which is why, on my first day home it only made sense that I’d make something with cookie dough and peanut butter… pie!

Peanut Butter Crust
Peanut Butter Cookies
4 tablespoons melted butter

Bake the cookies as instructed (these cookies generally fall apart easily when you first take them off the tray; you want them to still be in this state when you’re crumbling them).
Crumble the cookies and add the melted butter.
Press into pan and place in the fridge while making the ganache.

Semi-Sweet Ganache
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup semi-sweet Ghirodello chocolate chips

Stir the two ingredients over medium heat, once the chocolate chips have melted, whisk the mixture for about a minute then turn off the heat, allow to cool for 10-20 minutes
Whisk, pour into your pie crust that’s been cooling in the fridge, use a spoon to cover the crust and sides with ganache, return to the fridge to cool.

Peanut Butter Pie Filling
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups creamy Jiff peanut butter
8oz block cream cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Mix the sugar, peanut butter, and cream cheese together until all the ingredients are combined and there are no streaks left, add the vanilla.
Check the ganache, when your finger comes off the top without bringing a layer of the chocolate with it, it’s done. (about 30 minutes – 1 hour)
Spread the entire peanut butter mixture over the top, dont leave any of it off! *
With the peanut butter cookie crust, the peanut butter filling adds another really nice dimension of flavor, the peanut butter also balances out the semi-sweet bitter taste of the ganache.

Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
5 tablespoons white sugar

Whip the cream until you see the lines of the whisk forming, add one tablespoon of sugar at a time then turn off the mixer.*
If you desire, transfer the whipped cream to a bag fit with whichever tip you desire and pipe in small circles.
Refridgerate until ready to eat.
*When you’re in control of whipping your own whipped cream, you don’t want to overwhip it and add too much air like the cans do, you want to acheive a nice silky texture.*

Dig in! This is a great balance between the semi-sweet chocolate and the sweet sandwich of the crunchy peanut butter cookie crust and the smooth peanut butter filling, then the whipped cream really balanced it out. Next time I’m going to try it out with a half cup semi-sweet chips and milk chocolate chips for the ganche!

Enjoy!

Simple Yogurt and Coloring Books

In Yogurt on April 10, 2011 at 5:49 am

Erica got her license and let me say, freedom is pretty sweet. We’re living it high: eating at Emils, driving to wallgreens for cookie dough mix/muffin mix, hopping out of the car to move a cart that’s clearly sitting in the parking space we want, toasting freedom and summer plans with beer nuggets:

 And kid you not, buying coloring books.

It’s weired when you feel yourself growing up. Mary Beth had had the first day of her photography internship that afternoon, Erica had just finished filling out job applications when she picked me up, and I’d just said yes that morning to interning… FOR GALE GAND!

I’m an awful sick person. I don’t sit miserably on the couch like my mother would like. I pace. I bake food no one else will eat. I cook food no one else will touch. But, honestly, being sick knocked it out of me. If a coloring book of ducks could bring that much joy to highschoolers, then a simple parfait could bring joy to me too. No home-made granola, no home-made yogurt. I kept it simple, easy, and actually enjoyed my Law and Order Special Victims Unit marathon. 

I had it for lunch and loved it! All it was: Fat-free blueberry yogurt, store-bought vanilla granola, strawberries (repeat)… Put a small dab of cool whip on top and you’re set to go, it’s like a lunch and dessert all in one!…. this will not become a habit, I still kind of wish I’d made homemade granola, but I guess everybody needs a rest day.

Happy Sunday!

Track Meets and Crab Meats

In Sea Food on April 7, 2011 at 3:23 am

I haven’t been spending much time in the kitchen because I’ve been running. A lot. Until I feel like I’ll either die or my legs will fall off . I’ve actually debated on multiple occasions which would come first in the event that both of the above were to happen. I couldn’t decide.

In these pictures I’m the one in the front and I ended in fourth behind two girls from my high school. The montra that works best for me? ‘The faster you run, the sooner you’re done. Forget paw prints,  I want that on the back of my track t-shirt.

I never used to run. I actually hated it. But between last year and this year I’ve shaved about 2 minutes off of my mile time. So I decided that I may like baking, but why not try cooking a little more? It may not be my favorite thing to do, and running still isn’t my favorite thing to do, but maybe it could be good for me.

Super Duper Fast and Easy Crab Cakes
1/2 pound lump crab meat (I used immitation)
1/2 pound lobster meat (I used immitation)
10 Flatbread Crisps Sea Salt and Olive Oil (Can use any kind of crackers)
1 1/2 tablespoons mustard
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and peper to your liking

Put all the ingredients plus the crackers (crushed) in a bowl and mix with your hands, form patties, put in a pan over a stove on medium-heat, allow the cakes to brown on each side.
*I used immitation crab meat and immitation lobster meat which both came in pieces a little bigger than I wanted for these, so I just chopped them down to a size that better-suited the sizes I wanted my patties to be.

Biting into it was definitely the best part..

These have made me believe that maybe cooking and I could co-exsist, and possibly even work together. It gives me hope that I won’t be that mom who has the chinese restaurant and pizza place on speed dial. These were so delicious, super easy, and actually they were fairly healthy!

The End of Break and Visiting Bakeries

In Uncategorized on April 3, 2011 at 5:44 am

Yesterday my family and I went on a random trip. We packed our suitcases, hopped in the car and headed out. On our journey we visited two bakeries in one day: The Cake Box and Deerfields Bakery. This is what we found….

The Cake Box:

My petite four and lemon square!  — Absolutely delcious! The petite four was un-be-lieve-able!!

Cream Cheese Danish– The bread part was absolutely amazing, the filling was a little too thick for me.

For easter the bakery was giving away pound cake eggs covered in white chocolate.

My dad’s cake– the cake part was moist and delicious but I’m not one for the light whipped-cream-y frostings.

Chris got a pastry, the dough was dry and it was the least-favorite of the day.

Ry’s was the favorite… He got a lime square!! It was like key lime pie in a little cute square!

The bakery was oh-so-good! I brought a camera but I was a little afraid to use it inside… There were no tables or places to sit and eat the baked goods and the people behind the counter were not-so- nice. It just made me realize how essential kind people are, especially in small bakeries.

Deerfields Bakery:
Possitives: They had the warmest home-y bakery, it was filled completely with baked goods, the people were kind, and there was a great cariety of different sweets — they also had a lunch menu like a cafe would.
Negatives: All of the things were out on the counter like a buffet line, which was really cool except it left the goods that were out, stale.

They had a showcase before we were even in the bakery.. filled with delicious-looking things.

Like this:

And this:

And they had other pretty buttercream cakes inside!!

This was my favorite cake, though:

Check these out!!

Adorable! Eh?! Oh but wait, there’s more!

Check out the inside of the bakery too!

And the tables were adorable!

We grabbed the corner table and I enjoyed my red velvet donut!

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award!

In Uncategorized on April 2, 2011 at 3:30 am

Let’s face it, blogs are like babies. Hours upon hours upon hours are poured into them and -for what seems like forever- all you seem to do is cry metaphorical tears over the baby because it just won’t sleep.  The point is, blogs can be tiring. They can suck all your energy out of you. But in the end, all that work you put into them is going to pay off. That baby is going to grow up and start taking care of itself more, it’s going to get easier. There will be more socializing for the kiddo, more comments on your blog. Especially for new bloggers like me, it’s the little things that remind us that others are out there supporting us. Which is why I’m so excited about this bloggers award:

 Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award is awesome! Basically it comes in two parts:

Part One: Share 7 things about yourself;
1. I have an unhealthy addiction when it comes to watching Special Victims Unit.
2. I have an 8 year old brother who hasn’t yet appeared on the blog.
3. I always walk barefoot. Once I stepped on a bee… it used its last stinger to try to get through the bottom of my leathery feet. It did not succeed.
4. I’m writing a cookbook, different clips appear in different school notebooks.
5. I’m not allergic to anything, although I wish I was allergic to cats so I’d have a real reason to never go near them.
6. When I have a favorite song, I listen to it over and over again.
7. When I’m nervous I start cracking jokes and making movie refrences… doctors think I’m a riot.

Part 2: Pick 15 Bloggers who are your favorites or who have inspired you;

1. Color Me Katie
2. Whisk Kid
3. How Sweet It Is
4. The Galley Gourmet
5. The Novice Chef
6. Sweetapolita
7. Renee Julia
8. Rosa’s Yummy Yums
9. Sprinkle Bakes
10. i am Baker
11. The Sweet Adventures of SugarBelle
12. Let Her Bake Cake
13. Good Life Eats
14. Bakerella
15. Sweet Peas Kitchen — Love! Whenever I’m on foodgawker, I always end up picking the pictures that lead me back here!

The list appears in no particular order, just all the sights that I frequently visit! Thanks so much to all of you who inspire me and keep me going, you guys rock. Pass the award onto the bloggers who inspire you! And thanks so much to Wok In Time
who nominated me, it means so much.

Jess

A Ten Layer Cake

In Cake on April 1, 2011 at 5:43 am

For the past four days my parents have been in Vegas. Naturally I’ve been jealous. I mean, a plane ride? New restaurants? Different state? A hotel? Uhm, yes please. Nope. I stayed at home and lived the Vegas dream through facebook, thanks mom. What happens in Vegas, stays in vegas… which is why when I saw the cake my mom posted, I knew I had to make a layered cake.

Three different cake batters…

Strawberry:

Chocolate:

Vanilla:

This cake ended up totaling in about a day of work. This happens to be because I doubled or trippled all three flavors and had two pans of the same size to bake them in. There ended up being 14 layers. That’s a whole lot of oven time.

The layers…

Then came the frosting and assembly stages which became particularly hard when the cake began to lean a little. So what do you do with a leaning cake? Hmm…

 

Ok. So the cake needed more frosting, but I started to feel a little guilty. The amount of butter and number of bags of powdered sugar that went into just this much frosting was ridiculous. That’s why I tried to cover it up with a chocolate decoration and some pipping…

My friend Danielle came over earlier this afternoon and you know what she did when she saw this cake? She laughed, and not because of its stunning beauty either. Poor, ugly cake. Judging by the size of one ‘small’ piece, I’d say it’s safe to bet that I will be eating this cake until I graduate…

Despite the fact that this leaning cake had to turn into a ‘teapot’ to have a fighting chance at redemption and Danielle’s sneers, I will deem this cake a success.  It was ten layers, three taller than the Vegas cake, and still standing. Sweet success.