Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TWD: Perfect Party Cake

Today's (yesterday's) TWD is brought to you by Carol of mix, mix...stir, stir. I actually made this Tuesday night but finished it Wednesday morning, as I was bringing it to a work function (Food Day for July 4th).

I was a bit skeptical at first about the buttermilk, but the batter tasted ok and smelled pretty good while baking (I left out the lemon extract but added more lemon zest) so we'll see when we cut into it.

The frosting...*sigh* The frosting was not what I had expected - it was very very watery and did not start to look like the regular buttercream I am used to until about 8 minutes into beating it, when the hubs walked into the kitchen and said "Is your mixer on fire? Will it last much longer?" and simultaneously, the frosting curdled. Yay! I was never so happy to see something look so odd, mostly because Dorie said it might and it meant I was doing something correctly, haha.

It turned out to be very smooth and silky, pretty good. I frosted it Wednesday morning by putting a layer of frosting on the bottom half of the cake (I didn't split the layers) and then covering it with blueberries. Yum, fresh fruit.

Then I put the other layer on top, and covered everything with the frosting (I find it easier to pipe it on and then spread it out with a spatula/knife).

I added the top layer for fun, berries in stripes. And it will be ready to be eaten at noon today. Or before, if we get hungry early.

Verdict: awaiting first trial taste!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Worth it?

Momzelle Nursing Clothing - practical, yes. Worth the $45? ...I guess we'll see!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pasta with Peas and Proscuitto

I saw some shelling peas this weekend at the local street farm market and had never worked with fresh peas before, so wanted to try something with them. I immediately thoguht of a pasta dish with a cream sauce that I had seen...somewhere...

Since I couldn't remember, I just went online and searched. One dish that caught my eye was Pasta with Peas and Proscuitto on the Martha Stewart site. It looked good and had everything I wanted, I just had to find some pasta to go with it. I have about 10 boxes/bags of pasta in the house, but none of them were fettuccine, so the pasta original to the recipe was out. I decided on the penne I had gotten from BJ's, which was a gigantic pack of farfalle and I think mezzo penne? I know it's smaller penne. It's pasta, works for me.

I started shelling the peas, and after a while found the quickest way to do it: pop the end of the pea open by squeezing it, run your thumb down the side to open, and run your finger down the inside of the pod to pop the peas out. Works for me, at least.

Mmm, fresh peas.

Pasta with Peas and Proscuitto
Martha Stewart ~ Everyday Food

Serves 4
Coarse salt and ground pepper
12 ounces fettuccine
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
I omitted this, didn't have them at the farm market and didn't want to run to the store
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed
8 slices prosciutto (about 4 ounces total), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise, about 1 cup (a note in this recipe says it's easier to slice when chilled & rolled)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.
Meanwhile, make sauce: In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat; add shallot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cream, peas, and prosciutto; bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Simmer until peas are heated through, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in lemon zest and juice. Pour sauce over pasta; add Parmesan, and season generously with salt and pepper. Add enough reserved pasta water to thin sauce as desired. Serve immediately; top with additional Parmesan, if desired.

This was fantastic. And so easy, it's almost a 30-minute meal. The Hubs loved it, but was half-asleep so I didn't get a whole lot of feedback other than "mmm" and an empty bowl in about five seconds.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Cool things of the day

For those of you for whom pencil and paper is a good, but outdated standby:

This thing looks like a mini-computer. And it comes in pink, blue, and green. Because you'll notice that color when the kid's crying/spitting up/waking up angry/doing all three at the same time.

The Beaba Babycook (no, not for cooking babies, sorry witch-from-Hansel-and-Gretel):

I saw this on Tori & Dean the other day, so now I want one. Maybe by the time I have kids, they won't be ONE MILLION DOLLARS ::holds pinky to mouth::
I'll have to dig up some reviews on this sucker to see how worth it they truly are...

Biscotti Adventure

For Mother's Day, I wanted to do something special this year, and I thought the moms around me might like some biscotti with their coffee. I asked the top-notch bakers on the WC for their favorite recipes, and gleaned it down to two: Chocolate Biscotti from TPOX's blog (Proceed with Caution) and Almond Biscotti from BridgetMc's blog (The Way the Cookie Crubmles).

For my first time making biscotti, I have to say that these turned out rather well. I did shape them pretty oddly, so I'll have to learn to really pound them flat next time so they don't look like biscotti hills. Also, I didn't flip them when cooking the second time, so one side was more golden than the other.

I do have to admit though (yes, admit, for I am a chocoholic) that I like the almond ones better! I think it was the liqueur. The only additions/substitutions I made were white chips instead of the almonds in the chocolate biscotti. I did use mini chips for the chocolate in those as well.

Sadly, they were bagged and bestowed before I got pictures, so for now internets you will have to visit the origin blogs and take a gander at their photos for your food fix.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Chicken Marsala

I've been wanting to make this for a long time now, and have honestly been scared. I didn't think I'd ever have it as good as I've had in a restaurant, mostly because I am not a fan of mushrooms and didn't want to buy them when I'd just pick them out anyway.

**for proof that I am not a fan, and that I did in fact try mushrooms and make odd noises and cringe and almost spit them out, please talk to A. (the stuffing in them was really good though!)**

I asked The Girls about it (from the WC Nest board of course) and some had done this before, so I decided to Go For It. My little brother got me a Martha DVD with the chicken marsala episode some time ago, and I though I didn't watch it while making this or even the day before, I did use her recipe.

Making the chicken...one done, one in process.

Saucy Times.

It was such an easy way to make a good chicken dinner, lemme tell you. Chicken + seasonings + flour? Fry it in a big pan? Good Stuff. I used my new Paula Deen gigantic frying pan for this one. I originally asked for it for Cmas because the Hubs didn't like making things (grilled cheese) in my non-Teflon ss pans. But as he's been busting his butt in school/work, I got to it first - AFTER soaking it in a solution of water & baking soda to dissolve the protective layer. I made it with half a box of penne, and poured some of the sauce over that too.

The only thing different from the restaurants was that the sauce was not thick at all - more like a broth really. I'm attributing this to the lack of mushrooms. I'm sure I could just thicken it with flour, but I wasn't sure what that would do to the taste. As it was, it tasted spectacular. The sauce was a wonderful addition to the pasta as well, giving the plain pasta a little flavor.


Wherein I post more pictures of cupcakes.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but I lurve me some bake sales.

This time, it was more though... a bake off.

So I pulled out the big guns (frosting tips) and got down and dirty in my kitchen (baked a lot). I made the Hershey's Chocolate Cake and Frosting recipe and the BC Silver White Cake and MS Basic Buttercream, and then mixed them up - so I came up with 12 chocolate/chocolate, 12 chocolate/buttercream, 12 white/chocolate, and 12 white/buttercream.


Stuff the Hubs wants to throw out

We did a LOT of shopping this year, mainly for the house. We got new living room furniture, a new TV, TV stand, side table, hutch for the dining room... next up on the list: rug and end table for the living room. And Ikea curtains for the sunroom, and maybe some curtains for the upstairs, because I might be a little tired of running past the office naked because the neighbours might be pulling a Rear Window and watching me. Not that I've killed anyone in my house, mind you. But I do lots of interesting things... like run past the office naked.

But I digress. So after we got said new furniture, I gleefully started piling stuff into my new hutch. That was a fun day. Any day where I can organize stuff* is a good day. So I'm arranging my china and glass in my cabinet, and I decide I should probably make a note of what I have. I tried to take good pics, but the light in my dining room is not the best if it's after, oh, 8am.

here's my depression glass, it's square and red and I heart it way too much:

And here's my great-grandmother's china, it's way old and a little cracked, so it may come out just for show:

Pretty, no? It's a bit mixed-era right now, what with the china and red glass, but that's ok. So on to the instance referenced in the title: we were out to dinner with Hubs' parents and he starts talking about the hutch, asking why we don't put the regular dishes in there and why don't we throw out that old stuff and put things in there that we actually use?
I gave him a Look. I said, "that's my grandmother's family's china." I said, "that is depression glass." I also said, "how about we throw out some of those old things you have from your family and get some new stuff?" I'm not sure he got it, and I didn't want to go into a whole rant at dinner, even though his mom gave me a look that said even she didn't know where that came from.
Later on in the car, he asked me if his old stuff (several items in particular) bothered me, and I said no, that I just wanted to find a way to relate it to him so he'd understand what I meant when I said that we are NOT throwing anything in that hutch out. His mom also told him that hutches are mostly for displaying things, so that helped.

But seriously, hubs? THROW IT OUT? If we had been at home, I might have thrown something at him.

So the hutch is staying put, with all of its contents. If you're lucky, interwebs, later on I might give you a pic of my wedding china... that is, when I get around to putting it in the hutch, too. yes, yes, shoot me, I didn't finish my organizing...

*"organize stuff" does not mean clean the house and/or put away laundry.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Moi as a Slacker ~ Blog Awards

So, a while ago, like March, say, MrsSac and her purple kitchen gave me a blog award. Two, actually. Did I do the responsible thing and post it right away, thus awarding more bloggers in a timely manner? Not so much.

So, MrsSac, I apologize. Forthwith is the awardage:

Woob! Awards! Sa-Weet! Thank you so much (do you see that I'm pretending I just got these?) MrsSac!

Rules for the Awardage:

- Add the logo in your blog.
- Add a link to the person who gave you the award.
- Nominate other (refreshing…like lemonade and fabulous) blogs of your choice.
- Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.
- Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.

So, without further adieu, I am going to nominate...
Jenn, of Jenn and Food, Perfect Together
Maryanna, of Taste & See
and Lesli of Miller Moments because, let's face it, they are fabulous.

whee Awardage!