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Trying to keep my sanity in tact, while keeping bellies full

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer Salsa

I love summer. Really, love it. And not just because my birthday happens to be July 8 (hint, hint) or my favorite holiday is July 4. There are so many wonderful things about summer. But on my top five list is fresh produce. Normally at this time, my garden would be full of all the ingredients I need. Unfortunately, someone didn't get my tomatoes planted in time, so we're a little behind. Fortunately, the great guys at Youngs farm opened their stand up today, so we're in business with the first fresh salsa of the year!



I bought four tomatoes, one large onion, a clove of garlic, an ear of corn, and a couple of green peppers. I also used some of my jalapenos I canned last year, a couple tablespoons of vinegar and a few tosses of kosher salt. Why kosher? I have no clue, but that's what I had in the cabinet. My husband claims he doesn't like corn in the salsa, but I do, and he eats it anyway.

I love salsa because you can make it however you want with varying ingredients. Hopefully soon, I'll have salsa completely from my own garden and I'll have some yellow tomatoes and red bell peppers to make it more interesting. I love to make different versions of it almost weekly during the summer. I'll try to get some pictures posted this summer of different things we make with the salsa. In the mean time, visit your local growers and make some salsa!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Because Bass Players are Sexy...

So after my first attempt with fondant, my sister wanted to try it out. She decided she wanted to make a guitar cake. We made the cake late Sunday night and let it cool over night. Then we cut the neck and laid it on the board.

Then we made the template for the body of the guitar and cut out around it

Then a thin coating of frosting


Then color the fondant and roll out. It takes two people on a big cake to place the fondant on the cake. Make sure you smooth it out over the cake and seal the edges by pressing.




Continue this with all colors for all sections of the cake. Shape the other items to decorate and add finishing touches. Secure pieces with royal icing (egg whites and powdered sugar)




Here's what we learned in our cake:

Make sure you leave enough room for 6 strings, otherwise your electric guitar becomes a bass!!

Wilton's Forest Green coloring doesn't take as much as the other colors when coloring fondant

Making strings is a lot harder than you'd think

The recipe for chocolate cake on the back of the Hershey cocoa box is very moist, which is great for the cake, but a little harder to carve

All in all, her first try and my second try at working with fondant was a lot of fun and it didn't turn out that bad.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Love

Here's one from last summer....


There's really nothing fancy about the ingredients, but it's all in the way you put it together. And really, who can resist chocolate, strawberries and whipped cream??!!

Chocolate cake, baked in 2 round pans
Ganache
Strawberries
Whipped Cream (Redi Whip)

When your cakes have cooled, top one round cake with 3/4 of the ganache and strawberries sliced thinly.
Add second cake
put the remaining 1/4 ganache in the center of the cake. Add fancy cut strawberries and Redi Whip around the edges. If you're already making the ganache with heavy whipping cream, then you could make your own whipped cream and decorate the cake using pastry bags and various decorating tips. It tastes so much better, but I just don't take the time to do so whne Redi Whip As you can see in the picture, I had issues with the strawberries staying in place, but that just goes to show the importance of picking your own berries or buying some locally rather than at the grocery store!
This cake works better with a dense chocolate cake, so I recommend using
this one, or even making it with brownies instead of cake.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Decorating with Fondant

Sorry, no recipe this time. But, my husband and I have been dying to try decorating a cake with fondant. Several years ago, my mom did a cake for my birthday with fondant and made it look like a pizza. I wish I had pictures from that, but we'll just have to settle for the picture from Saturday's attempt!


The base cake is pumpkin. I needed a solid base that wouldn't sag under the weight of the fondant. Pumpkin is a heavier cake so it worked out great. We bought three Wilton food coloring gels (red, black, and brown) to make everything. We made the brown for the crust, keeping it light and not really mixing all the coloring in to give it the swirled, oven baked effect. Then I tinted some store bought icing dark red to make the "sauce". We tinted a little more fondant red and cut out circles for the pepperoni. I used the left over brown from the crust and added more brown to make the mushrooms. I have never in my life thought I would need a mushroom cookie cutter, but I really wished I had one! Shannon tinted a little more fondant black and cut out olives. It turned out great for our first attempt. Now that we are comfortable with the basics, we're planning our next cake that will involve carving! I'm so excited! My sister is trying to escape my mom's house for a night or two sometime this summer and wants to try one herself. It looks like we're going to have a cake decorating summer!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Swirl

I was trying to make pumpkin cheesecake, but I sent my husband to the store to get the cream cheese. I should have known better! He came back with the small package of cream cheese, so I had to make something different. I basically took my pumpkin cake and swirled in a cream cheese "custard". It worked out great and made a typical autumn dessert more summer-y.










Cake Ingredients:

6 T butter
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 c canned pumpkin
1 3/4 c flour
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder


Mix wet ingredients in mixer. Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl and slowly mix into wet ingredients. Pour into pan.

Cream Cheese Swirl:
8 oz package cream cheese at room temperature
1 egg
sugar (I didn't measure this, but I'm guessing 1/4 to 1/3 cup)

Mix ingredients together and drop on to cake batter. Using a knife, swirl the cream cheese mixture into cake, but do not mix it in!!

Bake at 350 about 30 minutes. The cake part will spring back when touched (like any other cake recipe)

Need a great grilling recipe to go with this? Check out Amy's Blog

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Strawberry Mango Pie

For TMTT, here's a new favorite in our house!

Here's another recipe that I found in my step daughter's cookbook that we altered to fit our tastes!


Ingredients:

2 Mangoes (peeled and cut into small pieces)
15 Large strawberries (hulled and cut into bite size pieces)
1/4 c Apple Juice
1/2 c Sugar
1/4 c Brown Sugar
1 c Flour
1 T Cinnamon
1/2 c Butter
1 Unbaked Pie Crust

Preheat oven to 375.

In small sauce pan, cook fruit, juice and 1/4 c sugar over low heat until fruit is soft.
While fruit is cooking, cut butter into small pieces and add flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining 1/4 c sugar in glass or metal bowl. Mix it with your hands until it's a fine and crumbly. Put in refrigerator.
Put pie crust into pan and pour in fruit. Sprinkle the crumbly mix on top and bake until topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Let cool and serve!

I tried to get a picture before everyone tore into this, but they got into it before I could! It was a hit at our Memorial Day Cookout.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cupcake Kabobs

This is my first time participating in "Tempt My Tummy Tuesday" and I'm super excited!

Ingredients

1 box cake mix and corresponding ingredients
Fresh Fruit washed and prepared
Icing
Mint Leaves (optional)
Kabob skewers
Foam cone or other element to put kabobs in

I used Angel Food cake for this because of its light, fluffy texture, but you can use any other kind depending on the fruits you use.

Mix cake as directed and pour into lined mini-muffin pans and bake as directed. Remove mini cupcakes to cool. When cupcakes are cool, create kabobs by alternating cupcakes and fruit. For the ones I made, here's the pattern I followed:

Blueberry
Mint Leaf
Cupcake
Dab of icing inside raspberry, then raspberry on top of cupcake
Cupcake
Dab of icing inside of strawberry, then strawberry on top of cupcake







Next time I'm going to try chocolate cupakes with strawberries!
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