Sunday, April 27, 2008

5 Years

Yesterday was our 5 year anniversary. In honor of surviving 5 years I am going to reminisce on our wedding day. Of course my favorite thing was marrying my wonderful hubby. It was a perfect day with perfect weather. We got married in an adorable little country church. It was spring so everything was blooming. All of our family and friends were there. We danced the night away at the reception. It was so much fun!

One of the things we still get comments about are the cakes. I loved them. The bride's cake was a 3 layer "present". The decorations matched the lavender crystals and pearls on my dress. The bottom layer was white cake, the middle was mexican chocolate, and the top layer was white/mexican chocolate swirl. It was delicious! We got the idea for the groom's cake from the armadillo cake in the movie Steel Magnolias. The groom's cake was a 3D fish with pink strawberry cake inside. It had a little hook coming out of his mouth that said "hooked for life". The cakes were made by Kay at Rose Cottage Creations. She is the best! Whenever I make cakes now I always think about Kay.

Chocolate Waffles

I was in the mood for something sweet this morning and I also wanted to use my waffle maker. I pink puffy heart my waffle maker. It is so fun to use and I love experimenting with different batters. So far I tried 2 kinds of traditional Belgium waffle batters, a spice (gingerbread-like) batter, and now a chocolate waffle batter. The chocolate waffles we good but the spice is still my favorite. I adapted a recipe I found on I thought the waffles we a little dry so next time I will add more milk.

Chocolate Waffles II


2 (1 ounce) squares semisweet baking chocolate (I used 1/3 cup chocolate chips)
1 cup butter, softened (I used 4 Tbs)
1 cup white sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk (next time I will use 3/4 cup)
(I added 1/2 tsp cream of tarter)

(I added 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips to the batter at the end)


In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix the butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Stir in chocolate and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add gradually to the butter and sugar mixture, alternating with the milk.
Spray preheated waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron. Cook until crisp.

Separate eggs. Add egg whites and cream of tarter to a large bowl and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Mix in the sugar, egg yolks, baking powder, salt, and milk. Add 1/3 cup of chocolate ships and butter to a microwave safe dish. Microwave on high for 1 minutes. Stir until chocolate is melted. Add to egg white mixture. Stir in flour. Mix in mini chocolate chips. Add 1/2 batter to preheated Belgium waffle maker. Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until slightly
crisp. Remove from waffle maker and top with powdered sugar, whip cream, strawberries, and/or chocolate syrup. Repeat with the remaining batter. Yields 2 Belgium waffles.

Swiss Steak

This is one of my hubby's favorite meals. It is really easy to make and it always turns out well. It is a very versatile recipe.

Swiss Steak

1 lb lean round steak
1/2 cup flour
1 can Rotel
2 cans tomato sauce
2 or 3 cups of your favorite veggies, chopped (carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms)
*I just used carrots and a pinch of cilantro this time

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Coat steak in flour. Brown the steak in the skillet in batches then add to a slow cooker. Add the Rotel, tomato sauce, and veggies to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours. Serve over rice if desired.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Aged to Perfection

My friend Stephanie's dad just turned 60. Stephanie asked me to make his cake. I was honored.

I didn't realize what mess this was going to be. The cake put up a good fight and I almost gave up but I think I conquered it after 12 hours+. On Tuesday I made some royal icing/color flow for the wine bottle. I found a pattern and created a wine label like Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck (Her dad's name is Chuck so I thought it would be cute). This was not such a good idea. It is really hard to write words in color flow. But I thought I could save it. I baked the first layer Wednesday night and almost burned it because I fell asleep. I baked the second layer Thursday before my class. I came home after class around 9:30 pm and started the decorating. I iced the first layer just fine. Then I tried to set the second layer over the first. This is very hard to do brilliant idea to do the wording the same way. I found a font I liked and printed the text from my computer. I traced it with piping gel and added it to the cake. Well guess what! When you turn it over the mirrored image is backwards. Doh! I ended up free handing the lettering. I added the grapes and vines at the end and finally went to bed. I tossed and turned and woke up several times that night from cake nightmares. I kept dreaming that the cake cracked again. When I woke up in the morning the first thing I did was run down stairs and check on the cake. Sure enough it was still in one piece. Whew! I gave it to Stephanie Friday morning. I hope she and h with a 9x13 size cake. The top layer cracked in 3 pieces. I used a ton of icing to get it to stick back together. You couldn't tell the difference. Then I did the basket weave around all the sides in white icing and added a rope border around the bottom and top. Then there was a landslide. A huge chuck of cake from the top layer fell off. This was when I got angry and started crying. I almost gave up. I walked away from the cake for about 1/2 an hour to think about what I should do. I came back and put the cake in it's place. I added even more icing to doctor it up. Then I prayer that it wouldn't fall again. I recreated the basket weave and rope borders. It was time to add the color flow wine bottle but it still wasn't dry enough. The wine bottle cracked too. Grrr! So I just traced the wine bottle with piping gel and added the piping gel pattern to the cake. This was one of the few things that worked well. I'm really bad with writing with icing so I had aer dad like it!

Tiffany Box

Last week's class assignment was to create a bow cake using fondant. I wanted to try making my own fondant. I found a recipe online and made it the night before.

Rolled Fondant

1 (.25 ounce) package
unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup glucose syrup
1 tablespoon glycerin
(I substituted 1/2 corn syrup for the glucose and only used 3 Tbsp water and omitted the glycerin)
2 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
8 cups sifted confectioners'

extra shortening for kneading

1. Combine gelatin and cold water; let stand until thick. Place gelatin mixture in top of double boiler and heat until dissolved.
2. Add glucose and glycerin, mix well. Stir in shortening and just before completely melted, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Mixture should cool until lukewarm.
3. Place 4 cups confectioners' sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and using a wooden spoon, stir in the lukewarm gelatin mixture. Mix in sugar and add more a little at a time, until stickiness disappears. Knead in remaining sugar. Knead until the fondant is smooth, pliable and does not stick to your hands. If fondant is too soft, add more sugar; if too stiff, add water (a drop at a time). Use fondant immediately or store in airtight container in fridge. When ready to use, bring to room temperature and knead again until soft.

I recommend letting it sit for 24 hours before using. Cover your hands with shortening and knead until soft. Add more shortening as it gets dry or sticky.

This recipe is fantastic! The more you knead it the more it looks and feels like the store bought stuff but at a fraction of the price. My other classmates spent $20 on the boxed stuff but you can make this recipe for under $5. It also tastes much better.

The only thing I would suggest is not adding gumtex. It made the bow too brittle and it cracked. I ended up using some store bought fondant for the bow.

The inspiration for this creation is the Tiffany's jewelry box. Maybe someday I will get the real thing. lol! The cake is chocolate and vanilla swirl.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Litchfield Park Arts and Culinary Festival

I went to the Litchfield Park Arts and Culinary Festival this weekend. They had cooking demos and tastings throughout the weekend. Each demo was $10 per person and it included food, wine, and a souvenir glass. On Saturday I went to a demo by Chef Patrick from The Arizona Grill. He made Braised Lamb Corn Tamales. They were fantastic! The wine selection included a Merlot and a Chardonnay. I had a glass of each and felt pretty good afterwards. Unfortunately my camera didn't have batteries so I didn't get any pictures but here are the recipes.

Braised Lamb for Tamales

1 pound yellow onions, rough chopped
8 ounces leeks, rough chopped
2 each carrot, rough chopped
6 each garlic clove, rough chopped
4 ounces tomato paste
250 milliliters Madeira
8 ounces apple juice
3 each pasilla chile
1 gallon beef stock
3 ounces canola oil
5 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 6 inch pieces
4 ounces canola oil (to sear meat)

1. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Heat oil and sear meat till golden on all sides.
2. Saute and carmelize vegetables in oil.
3. Add tomato paste and saute for 5 minutes.
4. Add Madeira and reduce 1/4.
5. Add remaining ingredients except lamb and bring to a boil.
6. Add lamb and cook in a 325 degree oven for 3 hours or until tender and meat falls apart.
7. Remove meat from liquid and cool until you can pull apart. Strain liquid and reserve for tamales.

Braised Lamb Corn Tamales

2 pounds masa harina
18 ounces lamb braising liquid
18 ounces soft butter
6 ounces pasilla de oacaca chili paste
8 ounces asadero cheese, grates
1 teaspoon baking powder
To taste, salt & pepper
1 pound braised lamb, pulled apart
16 each corn husk leaves, soaked in warm water for 1 hour

1. Place masa, jus, butter into a kitchenaid and let mix slowly until smooth.
2. Add baking powder and mix for 2 minutes on low speed.
3. Season and fold in braised lamb, asadero cheese and roasted poblanos.
4. Place a spoon full of mixture into the middle of the soaked corn husk leaves and wrap so that mixture is fully covered with corn husk. Tear a piece of a corn husk off to tie each of tamale.
5. Steam for 20 minutes or until tamale feels semi firm.

If you do not like lamb then you can substitute just about any meat (beef, chicken, pork, etc.).

On Sunday I went to a demo given by the chef from The Grill at the Wigwam. He made BBQ Short Ribs and Celery Root Slaw. I brought my camera with batteries this time so I have some pictures for your enjoyment. The tasting plate included a rib, slaw, crispy fried onions, and creme brulee. The wine selection for this demo was a Pinot Noir, a Shiraz, a Zinfandel, and a Sauvignon Blanc. I tried the Pinor Noir and Shiraz.

This was my 3rd year to attend this festival. The cooking demos are my favorite part. I learn something new every time and surprise myself by actually making the dishes at home. The first year I went to a demo on how to make Finin Haddie. I never even heard of this before I went to the demo nor did I know where to buy Finin Haddie. I saw some in the grocery store later and bought some to practice my mad Finin Haddie cooking skills. Last year I went to a demo on clam chowder. I bought some fresh clams about a month ago and pulled out the recipe that I saved from the demo. It turned out really good. Maybe I will try my hand at tamales or short ribs this year. Here are the recipes and some pics from Sunday's demo.

BBQ Short Ribs

10 # Beef Short Ribs
1 # Onion
1/2 # Carrot
1/2 # Celery Stalks
2 Gallons Veal Stock
3 oz. Honey
1 Sprig Thyme
1/2 Quart Red Wine
1/2 Quart Vegetable Oil
BBQ Sauce Available at Wigwam Gift Shop

1. Season the ribs with salt and pepper. Sear the ribs on high heat in oil, and brown on all sides.
2. Place ribs on a separate roasting pan.
3. Add vegetables to the first pan and roast these items for 5 minutes.
4. Add thyme and honey and cook for two minutes.
5. Deglaze with red wine and let reduce by half.
6. Add the vegetables to the ribs.
7. Pour hot veal stock over the ribs and cover with foil. Place the pan in a 250 degree oven for 3 hours or until tender.
8. Remove ribs from the sauce, strain the liquid and season to taste.

Celery Root Slaw

2 each Celery Root
2 each Carrot
2 each Apple
6 oz. Mayonnaise
2 oz. Apple Juice
2 oz Orange Juice

1. Peel celery root, carrots, and apples, then dice into 1/4" cubes.
2. Cook celery root and carrots in hot lightly salted water for 3 minutes.
3. Remove and shock in ice water. Remove from water and place in medium bowl.
4. Add rest of the ingrediets.
5. Season to taste.

Upside-Down Banana-Nut French Toast

As soon as I saw this recipe I wanted to make it. The picture in the booklet looked mouth watering. I had most of the ingredients on hand (and what I didn't have I found pretty good substitutes) so I made it for breakfast this morning. It was super easy to make and I thought it came out just like the picture. It was also very yummy! I will definitely make this again. It looks fancy so you could make it for a special occasion brunch, but it is so easy that you could make it anytime.

Upside-Down Banana-Nut French Toast
Betty Crocker Most Requested Recipes

The recipe can be found here:

I made half the recipe. I used plain wheat bread and sprinkled cinnamon on top instead of the cinnamon bread. I also used pecans instead of walnuts.

Chocolate Cake

Chase has been asking for a chocolate cake for a while. I kept promising him that I will make one. When he saw my Wilton Course II cake he really wanted some but I had already promised it to Lydia. Besides that cake was french vanilla and I knew Chase would rather have chocolate. He thought the basket weave and rope looked tasty and specifically requested those for his cake. I wanted to add some flowers but since the rest of the cake was chocolate I thought that I should continue with the theme. I used melted chocolate bark to make the roses. This was very challenging because I had to get the chocolate at the right consistency. It couldn't be too hard or too soft. I made lots of roses but only a few were worthy of topping a cake. Like I said the chocolate was difficult to work with and it turned my kitchen into a mess. If anyone has better ideas for making stiff chocolate roses please leave me a comment.

Chase said the cake was yummy and the best he's ever had. He can't wait to eat the chocolate roses.

Here are some pics of the chocolate cake.

Wilton Course II Final Cake

I just completed Wilton Course II. In this course I learned how to make a mum, rosebud, violet, apple blossom, Victorian rose, primrose, daffodil, pansy, and daisy. I learned how to work with royal icing and color flow. I also made color flow birds. In the final class I learned how to make a basket weave and rope border. I think the pansy and primrose are my favorite flowers.

Here are some pictures of my final cake for course II.

This cake is dedicated to my co-worker Lydia who just had a milestone birthday yesterday. Happy Birthday Lydia!