Monday, February 22, 2010

Glorious Weather

We had sunny skies and temperatures in the 60's this weekend!!! After having either rain or snow every weekend for the past few months this was a huge treat. Saturday we spent the day outside working on projects and Sunday we grilled out. It was great to sit in the sun and just lay around.

One of the other highlights of the weekend was that we found one of our favorite beers at our local grocery store. We've had this a few times a the Flying Saucer but never found it in the store.

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake:

2 1/2 cups (250 grams) sifted cake flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons (15 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk

2 tablespoons liquid red food coloring

1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

1 teaspoon baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 1/2 (360 ml) cups heavy whipping cream

1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature

1 - 8 ounce (227 grams) tub of Mascarpone cheese, room temperature

3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (115 grams) confectioners' (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted

Red Velvet Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter two - 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

In a measuring cup whisk the buttermilk with the red food coloring. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to fizz and then quickly fold into the cake batter.

Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour. (This is done to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.)

Cream Cheese Frosting: In your food processor, or with a hand mixer, process the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and process until smooth. Transfer this mixture to a large mixing bowl.

Then, in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. With a large spatula, gently but quickly fold a little of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining whipped cream, in two stages. If the frosting is not thick enough to spread, cover and place in the refrigerator for an hour, or until it is firm enough to spread.

Assemble: With a serrated knife, cut each cake layer in half, horizontally. You will now have four cake layers. Place one of the cake layers, top of the cake facing down, onto your serving platter. Spread the cake layer with a layer of frosting. Place another layer of cake on top of the frosting and continue to frost and stack the cake layers. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Can garnish the cake with sweetened or unsweetened coconut.

Makes one - 9 inch (23 cm) four layer cake.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bargains Are The Best

Nathan and I did some bargain hunting on Saturday along with a few other errands. We went to the Habitat for Humanity store to look for kitchen faucets but didn't find anything. Our last stop was the Salvation Army. It was next to the motorcycle store we stopped at so we figured we should go in.

Look what we found! A wok from Crate & Barrel! It still has all the pieces and looks like it was only used a couple times. Of course the best thing was the price. Only $8!! I can't wait to get started on some Asian food!

Valentines=An Excuse To Cook Good Food

Pink Chocolate Chip Muffins for breakfast

Hazelnut Crusted Lamb, Cous Cous & Salad for dinner

Red Velvet Cake for dessert

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Walnut Burgers

These turned out really well and tasted amazing! The only thing I did different was that I cooked them in the oven on a parchment lined sheet pan.

  • a 19-ounce can chick-peas
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 sesame buns
  • 4 slices beefsteak tomato
  • 4 slices red onion

In a colander rinse and drain chick-peas. In a food processor pulse garlic, onion, and rosemary until chopped coarse. Add chick-peas, parsley, and bread crumbs and pulse until just combined. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in walnuts, egg, and salt and pepper to taste until well combined. Form mixture into four 3-inch patties. Chill patties, covered, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

In a large skillet heat oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and cook patties until golden brown, about 4 minutes on each side. Toast sesame buns. Transfer burgers to buns and top with tomato and onion.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Spice Labels

Polly bought these labels for us from World Market. Charlotte gave me the spice jars for graduation and I'm so excited to be able to label them. I need to get some more of the jars soon. It's so nice to know whats in each jar without opening them! Thanks Polly!

What's Your Favorite?

So I didn't used to drink coffee every morning but now that I get up at 4 AM I almost always have a cup on my way to work. I could definitely go without but it's sooo nice to have that warm coffee in the early morning. I don't have any favorite (except for Fresh Market Christmas blend) brand I usually buy the best inexpensive brand. What's your favorite?

Oh, and I've fallen in love with Chai Soy Latte's!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fish Tacos

I've posted once about a great place called Cabo Fish Taco. We unfortunately can't afford to eat there often so I tried making our own fish tacos last week. They were really good! I LOVE pico de gallo so I did that, spinach, corn tortillas, Tilapia, and cheese. I cooked the fish in a pan with a little olive oil and I seasoned them with salt, pepper and a little cumin. Yummm!


Yes, it snowed this past weekend. We had planned on Saturday to meet my brothers half-way and pick up a car but we couldn't get Nathans car out of the yard. We've been borrowing a friends truck but didn't want to drive that far in it. Anyway, we hung around the house most of the weekend though we did drive the truck to Hobby Lobby and to get breakfast. Church was even canceled on Sunday due to all the snow and ice.

I think, for the first time, that I'm actually ready for warm weather. Something about getting up at 4 or 4:30 in the morning when it's cold gets old really fast.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Compostable Baking Cups!

I found these at one of our grocery stores a couple weeks ago and had to get some. I love being able to throw things in the compost instead of in the trash!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sweet Potato Soup

So I've made this twice in the last two weeks and it's a new favorite. I put it together from what I had around the house so there isn't a recipe but here are the ingredients and how to put it together.

Saute an onion, couple stalks of celery, and a couple cloves of garlic in a pot.
Peel and dice a couple sweet potatoes and add to the pot.
Add 2 cans of chicken broth and simmer until potatoes are soft.
Toss in 2 teaspoon of sage and thyme.
Put all ingredients in a blender and puree.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with a little grated Parmesan cheese.