Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's Almost April Fool's Day...

In honor of April Fool's Day I thought I would share some links to some fun ideas to trick the ones we love.

Apartment Therapy for the Kitchen has a cute breakfast (or not) idea plus some links to other cute ideas.

If you like hard boiled eggs, A Muffin Story has a fun idea to really shock the egg eater.

Over at Cucumbersome you can find a truly faux fishy idea.

The Museum of Hoaxes has a list of the top 100 April Fool's Day tricks of all time.

Make em' think they're getting to eat dessert first over at Family Fun.

And thank good ole' Martha Stewart for a list of classic tricks to play on your friends & family.

Have fun planning a good trick one someone- I know I will!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

An Easter Flop & A Cute Success!

For Easter, my mom asked me to bring dessert. I also volunteered to bring my Grandmother Chapman's Men-Like-It Salad. You see, my grandmother doesn't cook anymore now that she lives in assisted living and its been a few years since we've had this jello-y green goodness at my family's holiday table. But for years it was a staple at holiday meals. It's very good- normally. What I made was a BIG insult to my Grandmother's signature Men-Like-It Salad. I followed the recipe directly from my grandmother's handwritten instructions. This is what it said:

Beat 1 package Lime Jello (dry) with 1 package cream cheese until smooth.
Add 1 1/2 cups HOT water and beat until smooth.
Add 1 can crushed pineapple (juice too) and 1/2 cup chopped pecans.
Pour into a shallow bowl or pan.
Congeal in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.

Notice anything about this recipe? Let's see - what size package of cream cheese? I assumed 8 ounces. What size can of pineapple? I assumed a regular size can. Apparantly I assumed wrong. It did not congeal. It still tasted good. But it was a big soupy mess! Here is the correct recipe:

Men-Like-It Salad- aka- Lime Jello Salad
From Grandmother and the correct one is from Aunt Youlanda
1 package lime jello

1 (3 oz.) package cream cheese
1 small can pineapple and juice
1 small tub Cool Whip (this was totally left out of Grandmother's recipe!)
1 can chopped nuts (1/2 cup)

Melt jello in 1 cup boiling water. Add all ingredients in above order, mixing thoroughly as you go. Chill until firm.

Well , I guess I'll try again with the corrected recipe. But not today. The good thing is I made petits fours and they turned out great!! I used a recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. Look how pretty:

These were really not hard, they just took awhile. The recipe says it make about 3 dozen- I got 49?
Petits Fours
From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temp, plus more for pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup almond paste (not marzipan)
6 large eggs, seperated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 1/2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
White Chocolate Cutouts (recipe follows)
Royal Icing, for decorating (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 17x12-inch rimmed baking sheet; line with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 1-1/4 cups sugar and the almond paste on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the butter, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, mix to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites until foamy. With the mixer running, gradually sprinkle in remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, and beat until soft peaks form. Add a third of the egg-white mixture to the egg-yolk mixture, and fold with a whisk. Gently fold in remaining whites.

Spread batter evenly on prepared sheet, and bake, turning halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool completely. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigeratefor at least one hour or up to one day.
Invert the cake onto a large work surface, and peel off parchment paper. using assoreted (I used round) 2-inch cookie cutters, cut out cakes. Place cakes on wire racks set over rimmed baking sheets and set aside.

Place the white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. in a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium-high heat; pour over white chocolate, and let sit for 1 minute. Stir until mixture is smooth. Spoon melted chocolate over cakes, letting some run down the sides; spread with an offset spatula to coat completely. (Instead of spreading with spatula after spooned some on top I rolled the sides in the glaze). Transfer glazed cakes to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and refirgerate at least 30 minutes. Place a White Chocolate Cutout on top of each cake (I did this before refrigerating); decorate with Royal Icing, if desired. Cakes can be refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

White Chocolate Cutouts
From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

2 1/4 pounds best-quality white chocolate, finely chopped
Liquid or gel-paste food coloring

Line three rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching)simmering water, melt white chocolate, stirring constantly. Divide melted chocolate evenly among three bowls; tint each with food coloring to desired shade. pour a colored chocolate onto the prepared sheet, spreading it with an offset spatula into a layer about 1/8inch thick. Transfer to refrigerator, chill until firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining colored chocolates.

Working with one color at a time, cut out shapes; leave shapes in place on sheet. (If chocolate is still soft in any area, return to refrigerator to harden, 1 to 2 minutes). Refrigerate until completely firm. Seperate the shapes from the borders with a small offset spatula. (Scraps can be discarder, or remeltedand used again.) Cutouts can be refrigerated, between sheets of parchment paper, in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Royal Icing
From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

1 pound confectioner's sugar
5 tablespoons meringue powder

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, meringue powder, and a scant 1/2 cup of water on low speed. Beat until mixture is fluffy and dense, 7 to 8 minutes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mmmm... Cherries and Chocolate

Welcome to my blog. I think a good way to start is to share with you what I want to do with this blog. First of all, I want to share with you the things I enjoy. I enjoy cooking and baking- especially for other people. I enjoy shopping both in store and online. Finding new cute things to look at or buy is always fun!! I love spending time with my family and I might share them with you also. But that's for later.

Here are a few blogs that I read and would like to share with you. I'll let you check them out and see what they are all about.

Bake and Shake
Confections of a Foodie Bride

There are many more but that's enough for today.

I will also share an easy recipe that turns out so pretty! I posted it on a while ago and for the past two years they have used it in the Valentine's newsletter.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® Create 'n Bake™ refrigerated chocolate chip cookies
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 ounces chocolate-flavored candy coating, chopped
1 aerosol can (6.4 oz) white decorating icing
2 jars (10 oz each) maraschino cherries with stems, drained on paper towels
1. Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, break up cookie dough. Stir or knead in flour until well blended. Work with half of dough at a time; refrigerate remaining dough until needed.
2. Shape dough into 16 (1-inch) balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.
3. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in small microwavable bowl, microwave candy coating on High 30 seconds. Stir; microwave in 15-second increments until melted and smooth. Set aside.
5. With can of decorating icing fitted with star tip, pipe 1-inch star of icing (about 1 teaspoon) on center of each cookie. Dip cherries into melted chocolate; place on white icing on cookies. Let stand until icing is set and chocolate is firm, about 20 minutes. Store between sheets of waxed paper in tightly covered container.
Yield: 32 cookies
Preparation time: 50 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour and 10 minutes