Friday, February 26, 2010

Kreativ Blogger Award!

Thank you Dining with Debbie for the Kreativ Blogger Award! 

Upon receiving this award, there are a couple of rules to follow:
1. Post the award.
2. Thank and mention the person who gave you this award.
3. Pass the award on to seven bloggers who you think embody the spirit of the Kreativ Blog Award.
4. Name seven things about yourself that others don't know.
5. Don't forget to notify your seven award winners and post a link to their blog.

I love these blogs and I definitely think they deserve the Kreativ Blogger Award!

Emily, or Emj as most of us call her, over at A Little Bit of Everything definitely deserves this award. She has cute crafts and baking ideas!

Rachael over at Rachael Jones has some great things on her blog!  I've known Rachael since elementary school.

Jennifer, or Peevy as she is known by just about everyone, just had a baby in the fall and has an adorable blog for her called One Day at a Time.

Sarah, who I worked with one summer, has an adorable blog about her life as a wife and soon-to-be mommy called Ryan and Sarah.
Julie over at Brown Eyed Belle has some great posts that are funny and inspirational!

I've only recently discovered Sook over at My Fabulous Recipes.  Not only is her blog cute, but she also has great recipes!

EBC over at Pleasantries and Politics as got the creative blogging down!  So adorable!
Seven things you may not know about me:
1. I fractured my left wrist playing putt putt when I was 3. True story.
2. I have a younger sister.  Two years and 16 days younger.
3. I love mint chocolate chip ice cream. I used to eat it occasionally for breakfast in high school.
4. I've lived in LR all my life, except for college.
5. I eat chex cereal and yogurt almost every morning for breakfast.
6. I take my filofax planner almost everywhere I go.
7. I've never been out of the U.S.A. - I'm determined to change this very soon, and no, I'm not talking about just hopping down to Mexico.

Thanks for the award!  I hope everyone has some great things planned for this weekend.  Mine will start with a much-needed massage this afternoon!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

An Accident

I know it hasn't been forever since I posted last, but I wanted to say it's going to be just a little bit longer before my next baking adventure.  I had an accident on Tuesday evening that involved a dang Brussels sprout, a sharp knife, and the middle finger on my left hand.  Two words come to mind as I type this: ouch and gross.   There was blood, lots of it.  The walls were closing in on me as I started crying, trying to find a place to sit/almost pass out. 

I thought about taking a picture of my finger in the bandage, because let me tell you, it looks ridiculous.  The massive-ness of the bandage makes my finger look like it was stung by a bee and I had an allergic reaction - just huge.  But all of that extra padding is to protect it from me bumping it against something.

I have had to learn to type without the use of my middle finger, which is not easy, especially since I happen to be an outstanding typer (not kidding - you can ask Ben, my parents, anyone - I type fast and accurate).

I just need a break.  Of course I say that, but I actually have plans to bake chocolate chip and M&M cookies tonight (but y'all have seen those before, so it's nothing new and exciting).

I'm a big baby when it comes to blood and cuts, so I tend to exaggerate the severity of injuries, but even Ben said that this looked pretty bad (and that's saying something).  So I'll be back when my finger is healed and I don't look like a doofus with this silly bandage.  I can promise you, though, that I'll be staying away from knifes, at least sharp ones, for a while.  Bring on the butter and plastic knifes!  (one day I'll tell you the story of how I managed to cut myself with a plastic knife.  Like cut myself so badly that it actually bled).

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chocolate Creme Brulee

I may have out done myself this time.  This chocolate creme brulee was to die for.  It was not as rich as some I have had before, but still rich enough to where you have a hard time finishing it on your own.  However, this was not a problem for everyone - cough cough Ben cough cough.

The above picture is of the brulees before they were baked.  They resemble chocolate pudding to me.  After they were done baking, I thought about just using the broiler to caramelize the sugar, but after finding this torch at Williams Sonoma, I couldn't resist!
As you can see, Ben was the first to try out the torch (of course, since boys love fire so much!).  But, I will have to admit, it was a lot of fun.

Yum yum yum! Caramelized sugar!

One recipe makes 6 creme brulees.  The perfect amount for a family dinner plus some for breakfast the next day!

To top off the chocolate creme brulee, we made homemade whipped cream.  And for those of you who know and love me, yes, I really said "H-wipped cream.  Emphasis on the non-existent H at the beginning of whipped.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Giveaway Winner! And a taste of NOLA

My first-ever giveaway winner is Joycee from Granny Mountain! Congratulations!  The winner was chosen by  Joycee, please e-mail me your mailing address and I will get those ramekins to you ASAP!

By now you know that I went to Mardi Gras last weekend.  No trip to NOLA is complete without crawfish, oysters, and shrimp!  For our first meal in New Orleans, Ben and Rob had oysters at a restaurant called Catch.  I will admit, oysters are not my favorite, but I heard these were delicious (Ben asked me to try one and I politely declined).  For dinner the next night we had this lovely spread:

I like crawfish, unless they are too spicy, which these were on the verge of being.  At Rhodes, there were lots of students from Louisiana/people who love crawfish so we were blessed with multiple crawfish boils each spring.  In fact, we are tentatively planning one in Memphis to celebrate Alex's birthday this spring!  If you have any questions about cooking crawfish, I will have to refer you to Ben.  He was the crawsfish-cooker last May when we had one for my parents' 25th anniversary. 

Make sure you stop by next week, because I'm going to be putting my ramekins to use again this weekend and only one word can describe what I am going to make: YUM!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fleur De Lis Cookies!

Last weekend I went to Mardi Gras with my friend, Katie, her bf Rob, and Ben!  It was my first time to go to Mardi Gras and was so much fun!  Katie made sure she was ready for the festivities by making these yummy Fleur De Lis sugar cookies!  They were a hit!

She used a basic sugar cookie with royal icing.  For the icing, get a cup or so of powdered sugar and add milk until you get the consistency you want.  Then add a couple of drops of vanilla extract.  You can add as much powdered sugar and milk as you need until you get enough icing.  Katie used Wilton's gel paste for the colors, which I think turned out perfectly!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway by leaving a comment on the 1 year blogiversary post!  You have 24 hours to do so!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

1 Year Blogiversary and Giveaway!

Today is my 1 year blogiversary!  I can't believe it's been a whole year since I first started this blog!  I really feel like I've come a long way in my cooking and baking.  Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read my blog and leave comments!  Because I am go grateful for all of my readers I have decided to do my very first giveaway!

The lucky winner will receive 8 white ramekins!  These are great to bake goodies in (see Molten Chocolate Cakes below!).  To enter, leave a comment by Friday, February 19 at noon CST!
You're probably wondering if I made these delicious molten chocolate cakes just for my one year blogiversary.  Well, I hate to disappoint the blogging world, but I actually made them for Ben's birthday (which was on Sunday!) and it happened to coincide with my blog's anniversary.

I was perusing is aisles at Williams Sonoma not too long ago and came across this box.

I thought to myself, "what occasion do I have coming up that I can use as an excuse to make these?" Aha!  Ben's birthday!  So I bought the box and began my search for the perfect ramekins.  Pier One was the only store that had more than 10 in stock and actually had 2 different kinds to choose from.  So I went with basic white (exactly like the ones I'll be giving away!) 

Yes, technically I used a "box" mix for Ben's birthday, but who really cares?  They tasted wonderful and I think I put so much stress into them that it was more like baking them from scratch than a box.  I did, however, make some raspberry sauce from scratch to top the cakes.

Raspberry Sauce
10 oz. package of frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon corn startch
1 tablespoon water

Let raspberries thaw.  Add raspberries, corn starch, and water to a sauce pan on medium heat.  Stir until thickened.

The cakes were to die for.  They were rich, but not too rich, and the raspberry sauce provided the perfect balance.  Thanks, again, for reading my blog!  Love!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

Mardi Gras is approaching quickly and if you'll recall last year I made a King Cake.   Well this year I couldn't break tradition (is something a tradition after only one year?), so last night was King Cake baking night!  Luckily, Ben was around to help, because these things are not a piece of cake (har har har - pun intended).   However, that is not meant to discourage you, but just to warn you that this is a project and not just something that can be whipped up in an hour!

The cake recipe is from Southern Living and cannot be beat!  But for the icing, I actually use a different icing recipe than what Southern Living calls for (I prefer a cream cheese one).

Ingredients for the cake:
16 oz. sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4 oz) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100 - 110 degrees)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 1/2 cups bread flour
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon (or more, it really won't hurt)

Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts.  Set aside, and cool to 100 - 110 degrees.  Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a 2-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.  Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth (use a bread hook attachment if you have one).  Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in size.

Punch down dough, and divide in half.  Roll each portion into a 22x12 rectangle (not the easiest thing in the world).  Spread 1/3 cup softened butter evenly on each rectangle, leaving a 1 inch border.  Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over butter.  See below picture.  

Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion.  See below picture.  Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring (don't forget to place the plastic baby inside!).  Pinch edges together.  Repeat with second roll.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.  Bake at 375 for 14-16 minutes.  Cool cakes on wire racks.  Drizzle icing over the top (see recipe below) and sprinkle with green, purple, and yellow sprinkles!


Ingredients for icing:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Mix ingredients together until a smooth glaze forms.  Place in microwave for 15 seconds to melt if need be.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Well we have another snow day in the good ol' state of Arkansas! I could definitely get used to this! These cookie ice cream sandwiches were our Super Bowl desserts last night and I could really go for one right about now.

I had been wanting to make these for a while and finally found an excuse to do it.  I used Southern Living's All-Time Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (it's their all-time favorite for a reason).  As I was getting all of the ingredients out to make the dough, I noticed that I didn't have enough chocolate morsels (and this would not do!).  So I practically tore apart the pantry looking for something else I could use.  Luckily I found a bag of regular M&M's.  Adding these to the cookies might have been the best idea I have had in a long time.  Not only do they add some color to the cookies, but they also add that delicious chocolate flavor!  And if you didn't catch that, I added both the chocolate morsels AND the M&M's, a little over a cup of each.

After the cookies cooled, I used a large soup spoon to scoop out the ice cream and place it on the bottom cookie.  I thought using a spoon would work better than an actual ice cream scoop because it would scoop the ice cream out flatter, rather than in a ball like the scoop would (make sense? probably not).

I carefully placed the top cookie on and flattened out the ice cream so it covered the whole cookie.  These are not meant to be made in advance and are best served immediately!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Not Your Grandma's Baked Apples

You've had baked apples before, right?  You know, the soggy texture?  Well I guarantee that these are unlike anything you've had before!  After they are baked, the apples have a nice, crisp texture when you bite into them, but it's not like you're eating a regular apple.

As I have mentioned on previous occasions, Ben likes to make up his own recipes, and I'm fine with that because he is a great cook that can throw anything together and make it taste good (something I cannot do).  These baked apples were made sans recipe. (that's "without" for all of you non-Frenchies!) 

4 Honey Crisp apples
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup craisins
1/3 cup walnuts
1 tablespoon cinnamon 
4 small pads of butter
maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375 degree. Core the apples (see below picture).  Score the apples around the middle.  Mix brown sugar, craisins, walnuts, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Scoop into apples.  Make sure to pack the mixture down in the apple so you can get as much in there as possible.  Pour a little maple syrup on each apple and add a small pad of butter to the top of each. Bake for 30-45 minutes, depending on how soft you want the apples.  The apples will lose a little color when they are baked, so don't be alarmed!

You can serve these whole in a bowl and even add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you like!  They taste just like an apple pie!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oranges in a Fancier Light

This is one of Ben's many recipes that he has ever-so-kindly prepared for me recently.  It's a simple, modern way to serve oranges as a dessert, appetizer, or fancy snack.

Cut an orange in half and go around the edges with a pairing knife. Neatly scoop out the orange with a spoon and separate the pieces by hand.  Place back in the orange half.  In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of honey and 1 1/2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.  Drizzle mixture over the orange pieces and serve!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lemon and Rosemary Salmon, Asparagus, and Scallops

If you have a little extra time on a week night and are up for cooking or want to impress your friends with a delicious salmon dish on the weekend, you must try this one!

The salmon recipe is from Southern Living and it will not disappoint.

4 (6 oz.) salmon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind (smells so good)
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon dried or fresh rosemary (having your own plant comes in handy)
cooking spray

Sprinkle salt (I used sea salt) and pepper evenly over the salmon fillets. Place fillets, lemon rind, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, rosemary, and 1 tablespoon oil in a gallon sized bag. Turn to coat and let chill for 30 minutes. Remove fillets from marinade and discard extra marinade. Place fillets skin side down on a greased broiling pan.  Broil fish 5 1/2 inches from heat for 10-12 minutes.  Whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon oil.  Drizzle over salmon before serving.

Also served with this meal was brown rice, asparagus, and scallops.

The asparagus was prepared easily.  Put the asparagus in a skillet on medium heat.  Sprinkle sea salt, pepper, and add 2 pads of butter.  Let this cook, turning the asparagus occasionally.  I let the asparagus cook for about 10 minutes.  For the last 3 minutes, I covered the skillet with a lid to steam the asparagus just a little bit.  Right before I served the asparagus, I sprinkled a little shredded Parmesan cheese on top!

When cooking the brown rice, I used half water and half chicken broth, to give it a little more flavor.  If you want to be adventurous, use only chicken broth, no water!

Baked Scallops
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 pounds bay scallops, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour melted butter into a 2 quart oval casserole dish, Distribute butter and scallops evenly inside the dish. Combine the bread crumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, parsley, minced garlic and Parmesan cheese.   Sprinkle mixture over the scallops.  Bake in oven until scallops are firm, about 20 minutes. recipe.