I promise. 😀
Gaaaahhhh… It’s been a while. I apologize. I have 2 Dorie posts to get up and a TON of stuff that has gone on. I’ll get it up tonight. I hope. My blog, how I’ve missed you.
I like to eat. It’s probably visible in my appearance; I’m a bit of a fluffy person. It really doesn’t bother me, I can do all the things I like and I watch what I eat. I know I’m healthy; I can climb up the stairs in my house about 5 billion times a day and not go into cardiac arrest. I enjoy my fluffiness and it drives the husband wild, so we are good to go. 😉 About 4 years ago while in Hawaii with my husband I coined a term… food coma.
Being a young military family you realize that celebrating Valentines on February 14, Christmas on December 25 or my birthday on November 26 (Hint: I ❤ Le Creuset. 😉 ) isn’t all that important. My husband and I began to celebrate holidays and birthdays whenever we were together and near the original date. One of “our” dates is January 16, 2008. Yeah it’s usually the day after pay day for some or just the middle of the month for others, but for us it’s Valentines day! 😀 It’s also the day that my husband proposed to me. October 10, 2003 we got married and he officially proposed to me January 16, 2006. Funny, I know but that’s a story for another dish. 😉 My husband and I were celebrating our anniversary with a day at the beach and some junk food. He knew I wanted an iPod and decided to see how bad I really wanted it but throwing out a wager for it. He said if I had a #7, large with a pumpkin shake from Jack in the Box, I could get it. I thought in my brain “Yum, I can do that. I like all aspects of that bet.” But I failed to realize how LARGE a LARGE is from Jack in the Box. Not only is the hamburger the ultimate but I also had to eat a LARGE milk shake AND curly fries. Crap. I enjoyed most of it and it was delicious. I went almost into a euphoric state. I had a nice full belly from the hamburger but I had to finish that milk shake. I started sippin’ slowly but the bottom of the cup wasn’t getting closer. But I wanted my flippin’ iPod! I wanted it! LOL I eventually finished but went into a food coma, which includes laying in a fetal position to not stretch out the bulging stomach and cause awful pain, I was taking short breathes due to the fullness of my stomach cavity. It wasn’t a happy site but guess what? I got my iPod! There aren’t many things I will willingly eat myself into a food coma… except… cornbread-anything.
Guess that happened last night? I was in a cornbread-ish cake induced food coma and I’m paying dearly for it today. LOL
This weeks TWD was a great cake. I used corn meal because I could not find polenta and I also substituted dried cranberries for figs. We aren’t much of fig fans here. This is a great cake and was very moist. I will say it tasted more like a pound cake then anything to me. But you all know how I feel about anything corn bread-ish. 😉 haha!
Check out other TWD bakers here.
Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake
5 oz dried cranberries
1 C medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal
½ C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 C ricotta
1/3 C tepid water
¾ C sugar
¾ C honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 ½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Toss blueberries into a small pan of boiling water and steep for a minute, then drain and pat dry.
Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder, and salt together.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the ricotta and water together on low speed until very smooth. With the mixer at medium speed, add the sugar, honey, and lemon zest and beat until light. Beat in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are fully incorporated. You’ll have a sleek, smooth, pourable batter.
Pour about one third of the batter into the pan and scatter over the cranberries. Pour in the rest of the batter, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if necessary, and dot the batter evenly with the chilled bits of butter.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake should be honey brown and pulling away just a little from the sides of the pan, and the butter will have left light-colored circles in the top. Transfer the cake to a rack and remove the sides of the pan after about 5 minutes. Cool to warm, or cool completely.
I like cartoons, always have and I know I always will. I’m sure when I’m 45 I will still love to watch all sorts of cartoons… correction… I KNOW I will. 🙂 This last weekend I was fortunate enough to have my family out for the husband’s birthday; by the way, we had a blast! Initially it was my mom, Andrea (little big sister), Linda (big sister), her husband and daughter. We got things ready for a little birthday party for the husband while he was out taking a police officer exam. [Wish him luck! 😀 ] We did a Bee Movie theme, it’s his new favorite movie. My husband and I signed up for a Hollywood Video membership for $29 a month and get unlimited movie rentals a month. The second we signed up I told him I wanted to see Bee Movie. He rolled his eyes and said I was lame. 🙄 I’ve seen the previews and thought it looked too stinkin’ cute to pass up. After about 4 weeks, I FINALLY got a copy and we saw it as soon as we got home. The movie is SO cute and funny. I definitely recommend it to anyone.
Back to the main topic… my sisters, mom and bro-in-law get the house decorated and began the enormous task of making food. We begin to make cupcakes, salsa, potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, hamburgers and hot dogs. 😀 The party went off great! Everyone ate, talked and enjoyed the day to celebrate such a great man… my husband! We all sat and vegetated after filling our bellys with food and began watching UFC when the door bell rings. Koa flips out and I run to the door to tell whoever it is to stop ringing the door bell when I see my dad! WHAT! MY DAD! My dad didn’t come with my sisters and mom on Friday evening because he had to work on Saturday and was just going to stay home and wait for his girls to come home. So while we were eating then beginning to vegetate he was getting out of an 8 hour work day, then driving the 4.5 hour drive for the husbands birthday. How awesome is my dad? I know, too flippin’ awesome. 🙂 On Sunday morning, I woke up at 7 am. BOO! 😐 and began to make breakfast for everyone. My dad wakes up and showers and plops on the couch. What is he watching you ask? SpongeBob SquarePants. Yup, SpongeBob SquarePants. He is a 48 year old dood that absolutely loves cartoons, which shows me what I will be like to watch at that age.
When I saw this weeks recipe was carrot cake, I secretly got excited! The husband loves carrot cake, but I don’t make it all that much because of the shredding. I am famous for my crappy shredding skills and shredding chunks of my fingers off. But I knew Dorie wouldn’t fail me with a fantastic recipe… and as usual, she didn’t. This is a great cake with an awesome flavor. I changed my version up a bit by making it like a jelly roll then cutting circles out to make mini cakes. I cut the sugar on the frosting but it was still delicious. Check out other TWD bakers here.
Bill’s Big Carrot Cake
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Yields 10 servings
For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.
To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.
To make the frosting:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.
If you’d like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.
To assemble the cake:
Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.
Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.
This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it’s good plain, it’s even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.
The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it’s firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.
My little big sister Andrea is fun, I mean SUPER fun. She is my younger sister but I call her my little big sister because she is taller than me. She is also known as the tank. She is a tall gal that can get into your face when she wants and doesn’t give a rats ass who you are. She will tell you what she thinks and you have to live with it. She is intimidating and occasionally scary… just like a tank. 😀 This past New Years Eve was at my house, it was fun. Lots of family, lots of fun and loads of good times. It was the second event/holiday that my husband and I hosted at our home. It was awewsome to see the whole gang, which in reality was not even the whole gang. We were operating at 40% or so. But I’m looking forward to Christmas 2008; we will be having the W-H-O-L-E gang. Eek! For N.Y.E this year my sister and I made Rice Krispies Treats for the kids. We went shopping for ingredients and as we went down the marshmallow aisle I quickly grabbed the store brand and went on my way. She called me a cheapo. I told her it’s the same thing as the other brands but I’m saving like two whole dollars, TWO DOLLARS! She gave me a look, rolled her eyes and called me a cheapo… again. 😐
In my defense, I’m a bargain shopper. I don’t spend more than I need to on anything. Depending on what I am cooking or baking I will opt for the store brand for an item, if available, or a cheaper brand. I can save between $12-$50 dollars on my food bill. It isn’t saving thousands of dollars but I see it as a more money in my pocket. We all know extra money is needed with the rising gas prices. 😦 To be completely honest, with many items I have not tasted or seen a difference in the quality of the item. The Wal-mart brand, Great Value, of zip-lock bags close just the same as the Ziploc brand does, the GV frozen corn cooks up just as juicy as the Del Monte brand and the GV chocolate chips make cookies just as ooey, gooey good as the Hershey’s chocolate chips. 🙂 There are a few items that I won’t substitute like cocoa powder, preserves or BBQ sauce. But if I can save a few bucks here and there with off brands I will.
Since having this incident with my sister any single time I walk down the marshmallow aisle I think of her and it makes me miss her. She lives in California and I’m in Arizona so we don’t get a chance to see each other all that much. But, boy, when we do see each other we have fun, I mean SUPER fun. 🙂 These are for her and I really hope she always knows how much I love her, no matter what happens.
When I saw that this weeks recipe for TWD was marshmallows I was so excited! I had a few problems with the sugar syrup. I let it go half a minute longer and it began to get rock hard! But the third time is the charm and I think my ‘mallows came out fantastical. I plan on making Rice Krispies treats this weekend when 25% of the gang hopefully comes over for the husbands birthday partay. Check out other TWD members here.
Including marshmallows as a spoon dessert may seem like cheating — after all, they’re eaten with fingers (or, by campers, from sticks picked up in the forest) — but making them at home is too much fun to miss. And in fact this dessert is related to others in this chapter: the base is meringue — sweetened and strengthened by a cooked sugar syrup and fortified by gelatin.
There’s nothing difficult about making the marshmallows, but the meringue does need a long beating. While you can use a hand mixer, a stand mixer makes the job easier.
I’m giving you the recipe for a basic vanilla marshmallow. See Playing Around (below) for raspberry, chocolate, cappuccino and pumpkin marshmallows.
Makes about 1 pound marshmallows
About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
GETTING READY: Line a rimmed baking sheet — choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high — with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.
Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup — without stirring — until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)
Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy — don’t overbeat them and have them go dull.
As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.
Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won’t fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).
Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They’ll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.
Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you’ll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you’d like — into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they’re cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you’ve got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.
SERVING: Put the marshmallows out and let everyone nibble as they wish. Sometimes I fill a tall glass vase with the marshmallows and put it in the center of the table — it never fails to make friends smile. You can also top hot chocolate or cold sundaes with the marshmallows.
STORING: Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place; don’t cover them closely. Stored in this way, they will keep for about 1 week — they might develop a little crust on the outside or they might get a little firmer on the inside, but they’ll still be very good.
RASPBERRY MARSHMALLOWS: Fruit purees are excellent for flavoring these candies.
For raspberry marshmallows, you’ll need a generous 1/3 cup of puree; reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the puree with a rubber spatula. You can use the same measurements and technique for other purees, such as strawberry, mango and passion fruit.
CAPPUCCINO MARSHMALLOWS: Sift 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon together into a small bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water and mix until smooth. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon, and add it to the espresso mix. After you add the sugar syrup and gelatin to the meringue, beat in the espresso mixture and continue.
LIGHT CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOWS: Melt 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon, and after the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the chocolate mixture with a large rubber spatula.
PUMPKIN SPICE MARSHMALLOWS: Whisk together 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of ground allspice. After the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the spiced pumpkin with a large rubber spatula.
I’m not sure if I have every mentioned it but I used to live in Hawaii. 😀 Yeah, that tiny speckle in the ocean, 2,000 miles from the Pacific coast. Noe was in the military and we were fortunate to have been given the chance to be stationed there. We were there about about 3 and a half years but were hit with the “island fever” no more than 3 month after arriving… or atleast I was. I’m not talking about island fever the possibly fatal disease, I mean island fever where you realize you are on a speck in the ocean and it’s a 7.5 hour plane ride to anything. Literally. Don’t get me wrong, Hawaii is an absolutely beautiful place to live. The beaches are world famous, the parks are amazing and well, it’s a really laid back place. When someone is late or just taking their time doing a task, they say “I’m on Hawaii time.” Which we did live like this for a while. 😉
We were at the beach anytime Noe wasn’t training or in Iraq ( 😦 ). We just laid on the beach, roasted and toasted ourselves, went out to dinner afterwards, then home to shower and out to the movies. This process was our typical itenierary any day off for Noe. I loved it. But when holidays came along, birthdays were being celebrated, family was sick, family members were being born in California… we missed it. Noe and I are all about family. We wouldn’t be where we are without them. Not being a native of the Island we didn’t have family there. We had friends, and some amazing ones I might add, but not family. 😦 Which made me develope the island fever, that enters your body and you want to leave as soon as humanly possible. You want a normality you are used to. Musicians usually don’t go to Hawaii for concerts, no Vegas, no Mexico trips, no AUTHENTIC Mexican food, no TARGET, no OLIVE GARDEN, there are great a many things not in Hawaii, including my family. I am used to these things and people right around the corner in Orange County, CA.
I am greatful for the amazing friends I have made in Hawaii, the awesome activities I got to accomplish (shark cage diving! WOO!) and the experiences I have had, but I don’t think Noe and I would be returning soon. We miss the big blue ocean, the laid back atmosphere but it will always be there, sadly family doesn’t live forever.
I got this recipe from “500 cupcakes” by Fergal Connolly. I think the recipe might be off a bit. I halved the cake recipe but used the entire topping recipe. Nonetheless they are awesome. I love my little tropical plate I got from Ross for .50 cents! WOO! Megan and I loved Ross in Hawaii, we LOVE deals. When I was still living with my parents my pop used to ALWAYS ask for a pineappple upside down cake. He asked almost daily and I made them almost daily. This is for two special people in my heart, Megan and my pop, she would love the deal I got on the plate and my dad would love this cuppy. 🙂 LOVE YOU TWO! ❤
Pineapple Upside-down cupcakes
For the topping
20 oz can crushed pineapple
1 stick sweet butter, melted
3/4 C packed brown sugar
For the cupcakes
2 sticks sweet butter, softened
1 C superfine sugar
2 C self-rising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Grease two 12-cup muffin pans with butter and dust with a little flour, tapping out the excess. In the bottom of each cup, drizzle 1 T of melted butter, 1 T pineapple and 1T brown sugar.
Place all the cupcake ingredients in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and pale, about 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon batter on top of the pineapple mixture in each cup. Bake 25 minutes, then remove pans from the over and cool for 10 minutes.
Turn out the cupcakes onto dessert plates, serve warm with heavy cream if desired.
Store in airtight container for up to 2 days.
I posted the wrong pictures below. That is why there is nothing there. It was a late night, that is my excuse and I’m sticking to it. 😀