Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weekend Blur - April 1-3

I'm not ever sure where this weekend went! It's 7am on Monday morning, and luckily I have today off work :) One of my last 3 day weekends before wedding season kicks in.

Friday night, Brad and I went out to BroadRipple to check out Bazbeaux Pizza.
AMAZING. I was told it was the best pizza in Indy and now I would have to agree. The leftovers were ever amazing cold for breakfast on Saturday haha!

Saturday was my cleaning day-- I feel like an old lady but it was over due to scrub down the whole house..

My dad went down to Louisville for the trucking show, and he made a stop at our house on his way up north for the night (our room rates are pretty cheap!)
We were not only celebrating the Final Four basketball game-(Praying for a Butler Bulldogs win!!), but it was also my dad's birthday weekend! So we had some fun foods and a giant chocolate chip cookie with ice cream for dessert. So..


Sunday turned out to be amazing! It was 76 degrees here and SUNNY! Brad and I decided to finally finish the backyard project we started last year before our wedding..
We shoveled,raked,plowed,and planted grass seed!
No we wait.

What a weekend.  Thunderstorms have rolled in for today and it looks like it's going to be a great movie day:)

Gotta Love Days Off!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ravioli Night

Homemade Ravioli!
First time I have ever made a homemade pasta and Oh! How easy it is!

Pasta Recipe:::

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Salt
2 Eggs
1/3 cup Water
1 TBL Olive Oil

1/3 cup Flour (for dusting when rolling out)

Mix the flour and salt in a mixer bowl and form a mound with a well in the center. In a seperate bowl, combine the wet ingredients and wisk with a fork.
Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients.
Blend with a dough hook and mix/knead for 8-10 minutes.

Take out of mixer and wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 10mins.
Unwrap dough and lightly flour the counter. Roll out dough very thin in a good rectangle shape.
Cut the dough in half
Place 1 tsp. of Filling every inch on 1/2 of the dough.
Take a brush and brush a beaten egg (or water) between every pile of filling.
Take the other half of the dough and place on top of the filling side.
Press hard between each pile of filling so the top dough sticks to the bottom dough.
Cut with a pizza cutter between each pile of filling. take a fork and press all 4 edges around each filling pile.

Have a pot ready with boiling water. Once to a rolling boil, drop 4-6 pieces of ravioli in at a time.  After about 5 - 8 minutes, spoon out ravioli and place right into your sauce.

Spinach and Cheese Filling:

2 TBL Olive Oil
1 tsp. Minced Garlic
2 Cups Fresh Spinach
1 tsp. Lemon Juice
1/4 grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 shredded Mozarella Cheese

Pour the oil into a skillet and heat the skillet. Once hot, add the garlic. Let it sizzle for a minute-stirring then add in the spinach and squeeze the lemon juice on top. Stir constantly so the spinach doesn't burn, until the spinach is a deep green and soft and reduced down to about 3/4 cup.
Take out of pan and put into a bowl. Add parmesan cheese and stir. Once cooled completely, add mozarella cheese and mix up.
Scoop up 1 tsp. of filling into sections of pasta dough. 
Follow the rest of the instructions in the pasta recipe.

Brown Butter & Mushroom Sauce::
3 TBL Butter
2 TBL Olive Oil
1 cup sliced Button Mushrooms
1 TBL Flour
2 cups Vegetable Broth/Chicken Broth

Heat the Butter and oil together in a pan. Continue heating and stirring until the butter starts turning brown. About 5-7 minutes. Once it starts turning brown, add the mushrooms. Keep stirring until the mushrooms have shrunk and are softened and browned. 
Add the flour onto the mushrooms and stir till they are all coated and the flour has started turning brown too.
Add the broth and keep stirring and cooking. After about 5 mins. it should start to thicken up into a sauce.
If it is too thick, then add more broth.

After the ravioli is cooked, stir into the sauce!

Let me know how it goes if you try it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sugar Free and Delicious Too?

I've been thinking more and more about working on my sugar-free baking and I FINALLY decided to test one of my many recipes today!

Sugar-Free Carrot Cake

3/4 cup Walnuts, chopped
3-4 Carrots - shredded
3/4 cup drained, crushed, unsweetened Pineapple
3/4 cup shredded, unsweetened Coconut
3/4 cup oil
1 cup unsweetened frozen pineapple juice concentrate
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine walnuts, carrots, pineapple and coconut and set aside.

In mixer, combine oil and frozen concentrate until thickened. Once thickened, add the eggs one at a time, waiting until incorporated before adding the second egg. Stir in vanilla.

Mix Separately::

1 1/2 cups Cake Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 tsp. nutmeg.

Sift the dry ingredients 3 TIMES!
Once sifted, add to the liquid mixture.
Stir in the carrot mixture .

Pour batter into 2  prepared 8" cake pans.
Bake for 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree pre-heated oven.
Bake until they bounce back when lightly pressed.
Cool Completely Before icing.

Whipped Cream/Cream Cheese Icing:

1/2 pound cream cheese, room temp.
1/3 cup unsweetened, frozen pineapple juice concentrate
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Reduce speed and stir in juice concentrate and vanilla until smooth and well blended. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/2 of the cream. Scrape down the bowl. When mixture is smooth, gradually add the rest of the whipping cream. Increase the speed to high and whip until stiff.
Use immediately.

Let me know if you try these recipes and how you liked them!!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

March - Daring Baker's Challenge!

Here it is!! March's fantastic challenge from Daring Bakers!

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a:: Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

And, what a great challenge this was! I have made a lot of coffee cakes in my days (haha) but I had never made one with a meringue in the middle. I was so excited about this challenge I made in on March 2nd! 1 day after getting the challenge.
All I have to say....


FILLED MERINGUE COFFEE CAKE Makes 2 round coffee cakes, each approximately 10 inches in diameter
The recipe can easily be halved to make one round coffee cake
Ingredients For the yeast coffee cake dough
 4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼ oz.) salt
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons / 7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
 ¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
 ¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
 2 large eggs at room temperature
 For the meringue
3 large egg whites at room temperature
 ¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
 ½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar
 For the filling
2 Tablespoons (30 g / 1 oz.) granulated sugar
 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (170 g / 6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate
 Directions: Prepare the dough
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted. Ria’s version: add the 10 saffron threads to the warmed liquid and allow to steep off of the heat for 10 minutes. This will give the mixture a distinct aroma and flavor and a yellowish-orange hue.
With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the 1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.
Prepare your filling. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling if using. You can add the chopped nuts to this if you like, but I find it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.

 Assemble the Coffee Cakes
Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper. Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges. Sprinkle half of your filling of choice evenly over the meringue (ex: half of the cinnamon-sugar followed by half the chopped nuts and half of the chocolate chips/chopped chocolate).

Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings. Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
                 What a beautiful dough!                       Rolled out, spread with meringue, sprinkled                                                                        cinnamon sugar, and half sprinkled with chocolate chips
                                                                                     and half sprinkled with chopped pecans.

After it was filled, I rolled it up, and cut (with scissors) slices around it.

Finished Product!

It was so goood! The meringue keeps the dough incredible moist! the hardest part is keeeping the roll uniform without oozing meringue out either end.  This would be so great as cinnamon rolls- again if you could keep the meringue from oozing.

Let me know if you guys try this and how it turns out!!

: Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue): In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.
1 cup (110 g / 4 oz.) chopped pecans or walnuts

Monday, February 28, 2011

Thunderstorms and Pound Cake

It is the last day of February and we had incredible storms last night.
Temps got up to 65 Degrees and Tornado sirens went off around 2am. Tornado warnings and now that the storm has passed..FLOODING has crept in.

I had today off work and I got a lot of cleaning done around the house.
I have wanted to try a new kind of cake for a while. A cake that is extremely easy to carve and shape into anything I want. 
Pound Cake.

So since I had the opportunity and time to make it today, I did!

Pretty delicious. I don't eat pound cake that often and I was really nervous about how dry it might be.  But this cake was great! Sturdy like pound cake should be- but still really moist and delicious!
If I would have had more time and fondant on my hands I would have loved to decorate the cake more, but it is what it is and that. is. great!  :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Daring Baker's Challenge- February 2011

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Panna Cotta is?:
Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert where you combine cream, milk,sugar and geletin.
I decided to make 2 flavors just for fun.

1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
pinch of salt

1. Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
2. Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
3. Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn't boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
5. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

Pumpkin Panna Cotta:


Strawberry Panna Cotta

Both tasted great, but I preferred the Pumpkin over that Strawberry. The pumpkin actually tasted like a pumpkin egg nog (without the eggs).
Then I made the Flourentine Cookies..

I learned a lot about these cookies...After the 'batter' is cooked on the stove, let it cool of a lot until it is very thick, before starting to scoop it out onto trays.
Do not use such a huge scoop when making thsee cookies as it takes the centers FOREVER to get stiff and eventually you have to pull them out because the edges are getting burned.
If you leave these cookies in a plastic bag over night and then eat them,
they have a great caramel taste and have a nice chewy texture.

These cookies are Fantastic!! I was incredibly impressed for how simple they were but yet they still taste great!
Nestle Florentine Cookies:

 2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats oz) plain (all purpose) flour

1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
2. To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
4. While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl).
5. Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).
6. Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate.
This recipe will make about 2 1/2 - 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours.



Giada's Vanilla Panna Cotta

Birthday Wishes and Caviar Dreams?

to my sister-in-law!! She is 23 today!  So in celebrating her birthday, she chose for the family to get together for a brunch at Cracker Barrel.  Great food-packed house. Glad we all got to be together on her day :) 
I asked her earlier in the month what she was thinking of for her birthday cake or what her favorite cake was.. she immediately responded with::
 Marble cake.  
 Ummm ...Marble? 
 Plain Marble? 
 No fun flavors or amazing fillings ..just marble?
  No. Next choice? haha 
  She said she loves Ice cream cake!-Great!  But am I up for the challange?  I have never made an ice cream cake before, so I did my research and I know she likes for fruity flavors, not such a heavy chocolatey sweet flavor so I came up with...

BANANA SPLIT ICE CREAM CAKE!  (ooooooh, aaaaah)

Now, how amazing does that look!?!

How did I make/ build this cake?
Here ya go::

So, she loved it, I loved it, that's all that matters right?
Happy Birthday Bri!!