Welcome To My World

I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not sure!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Vegan Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes




I've started in the past two months entering a local cupcake competition called the Iron Cupcake Challenge. Here is the link http://www.alteredrecipes.com/ica.htm

On it you can see past winners in the photo galleries. It's a once a month thing where there is always a new part of the challenge like a specific ingredient or in this months case baking without the usual cake ingredients. This month they are going Vegan! Now I personally have cooked a good deal of vegan foods but never really baked vegan, so I was excited to see what I could come up with that would be an equally tasty baked delight without any dairy, eggs, and yes no leather. Bummer.

But I found a recipe that beat my no leather bummer blues! I scavenged the internet high and low for the perfect recipe or idea to spark my inner hippie and at long last I found one that I could alter to my likings.

I eventually went for what I like to now call Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes. They are moist, delicious and refreshing! I wasn't expecting them to turn out as well as they did to be honest. It's a great backup recipe for when you are out of eggs too.

Here's what they looked like frosted and garnished


This one I garnished with a fresh raspberry and some unrefined sugar




I also tried using some of my Wilton edible yellow dusting powder.
I felt it gave off that electric Lemonade look well.



Here is the recipe. Give these a try soon, you will be glad you did!

Vegan Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

  • 1 1/3 C A.P. Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • 2/3 Cup unrefined sugar (heaping/rounded), plus more for garnish
  • 1 C Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1 tsp Pure Vanilla
  • 1 tsp Lemon Extract
  • 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
  • The zest of 1 Large Lemon about 1 TBSP
  • Vegetable Oil Cooking Spray
  • Cupcake liners
  • Fresh Raspberries if desired for garnish.

Frosting:
  • 1/3 C Vegetable Shortening
  • 1/3 C Quality Raspberry Preserves
  • 1/2 tsp Lemon Extract
  • 1/4 Vanilla Almond Soy Milk
  • 2 Cups Twice sifted Confectioners Sugar (a.k.a. Powdered Sugar)


Cake Directions:

Set oven to 350*

Get out 2 bowls

Line your muffin tin(s) with liners and spray a little oil into each one

Sift your dry ingredients, set aside

Combine all your wet ingredients with the sugar and zest

Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and combine until smooth

fill the prepared muffin tin(s) 2/3 full with batter and bake 15-17 minutes on the middle rack or until a toothpick come out clean when tested

When done, remove from tin(s) and allow to fully cool on a wire rack before frosting


Frosting Directions:


Combine the shortening, preserves, and extract in a bowl with an electric mixer until smooth.

Sift the confectioners sugar twice and add to the first mixture, and mix until smooth.

frost by hand or pipe onto cupcakes with a star or french tip. If piping start by the out side of the edge of the cake and fill inwards.

Top with raspberry and garnish with unrefined sugar

Enjoy!




C

Monday, May 2, 2011

When life gives you lemons... BAKE!

Have I ever mentioned that my mom thinks she's British. It's true. She has a very British boyfriend and so now she freely uses British terms like "I have to go spend a penny" which translates to "I need to use the restroom." Her boyfriend has his own small business and within that building they started together their own side business called the English Market "where jolly good things happen," and there they sell English wares like teas, jellies, and the ever popular spotted dick. Yes spotted dick. Its a lovey canned sponge cake with raisins. They serve it with clotted cream. The perfect combination, spotted dick with a dollop of clotted cream. Mmmmm creamy. Okay I'm done.

Anyhow they have both come up with the brilliant idea of holding English High Tea services where you get to dress up, wear a kooky hat, and have a beautiful traditional tea service with lots of little mini things to eat.

I'm attending one today where I am making one of the sweets for my mom to serve to her guests, lemon bars. But they aren't your regular 'ol lemon bars, these are called shaker lemon bars which use the entire lemon and are a two day process. Don't let that detour you though these are easy peasy lemon squeezy! These are also different texturally with the little bits of lemon in the filling which I find to be a real taste treat!

I got the recipe online and altered it a bit to fit my pan size and preferences.

Shaker Lemon Bars

Ingredients
  • 2 lemons, washed and dried(I've heard meyer lemons work best but I can't often find them where I live)
  • 2 cups plus 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (my butter was room temp and it was fine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Confectioners' sugar, for sifting

Slice lemons as thinly as possible; remove seeds. Toss slices with 2 cups sugar; transfer mixture to a flat resealable plastic container. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

This is what they look like in the morning, all syrupy and delicious.

If using cold butter place it, the salt, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, and flour in the bowl of a food processor. Process until mixture is crumbly and starts to hold together. Or if using room temp like me put it all in a bowl and cut in butter with a fork.

I like to use a BIG fork when I don't have a pastry cutter handy.
I prefer it to using two knives

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 12 by 17 or a 11 by 16 inch pan. I used an 11 by 16 size. Press dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, making sure there are no holes. There should be at least 1/2-inch crust of dough going up the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Once removed transfer to a wire rack to cool, and use a flat metal spatula to press down the crust so its flat and even, and allow to cool about 15 minutes.

Place lemon-sugar mixture and eggs in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until lemon rinds are in 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces, 30 to 40 seconds. I did mine in a blender and had to blend it in two batches.

Into the blender they go!

Pour mixture over cookie crust. Bake until set, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Trim 1/2 inch around edges of pan. Cut into about sixty 1 1/4-by-2-inch pieces. Sift confectioners' sugar over cookies.

They are so pretty!

Plus its a HUGE recipe. This makes about 4-5 dozen depending on the size you want. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'm back! Sewing up a swell of Swine!

I had originally started this blog to share my ideas, creations, recipes and pictures with others because it seemed pointless to just keep them all to myself in the deep files of my D drive. Then I lost a little blogger faith in the what should be everlasting well hope, that if you blog they will follow. After only seven posts. Then my Uncle from way up north in Alaska reminded me that I'm great, super, fantastic even! And you know what he's right! I think you can't go wrong with self empowerment and positive thinking.

Sew, ( <- hint hint ) I've decided to share in a little something I feel all homemakers should at least try, sewing! I got a thrifty nifty sewing machine from my sweet mother in law. She is a great seamstress who has sewn a lot of her own clothes growing up and her own wedding dress!
I got a quick lesson on the different parts of the machine, there's the bobbin where the bottom thread is held, the foot that lifts up and down to hold down and guide your fabric, and the all important pedal that you get to press your foot down ever so gently to get sewing!

Lately I've been producing a whole pens worth of portly little pigs! They are cute enough to eat! I got the template/pattern for free from the woman herself, Martha Stewart.


I call this little porker red and yellow pick-nick pig



She's called Coral, I adorned her beautiful baby pink braid with a sweet yellow thread bow.





When Pigs fly...





Happy Hen




It also has templates for an adorable 'lil lamb and hen on this page. I've made a few hens but no lambs yet. These are great little projects that you can be proud of as a beginner like me! I've been adding my own personal touches like hair and I take bits of iron-on felt cut outs from the tops of individual letters (http://www.amazon.com/Dritz-Iron-Letters-Inch-Black/dp/B000XAQESE ) and iron them on as their eyes! EASY! No fancy stitching required. So thread up your machine and be prepared to possibly become addicted to the women's ultimate power tool, the sewing machine.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rhubarb Pie Raviolis

Recently I was lucky enough to receive some of my grandma in laws pie dough that she had frozen. I despise making pie dough, yet I have a deep love for pie. Now Grandma Caroline is the Queen of Pie. Everyone around town knows it. Her usual flavors of choice are apple, strawberry rhubarb, marrion berry, coconut cream, and everyone's favorite, chocolate cream. I've noticed she prefers to use good 'ol fashioned cool whip (not the light, full fat) instead of whipped cream or stabilized whipped cream. She's old school. Which is probably why everyone enjoys her pies so much, they always taste the same, utterly delicious. I love them and her so much that I asked her to bake pies for my wedding treat. She made 25 pies for my wedding day! TWENTY FIVE! Nothing tastes better than wedding pie. In my opinion it blows cake out of the water.

So in my excitement and reminiscence of good times with pie & trying to decide what kind & size, I decided to make Mini Rhubarb Raviolis! I just ate one. It was still warm. Don't be jealous. Okay you can be a little jealous.

Here are the ingredients that I used to create these cuties:
Rhubarb filling: frozen rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg
Pre-Made pie crusts that were frozen then thawed
One egg Yolk, & a little water, and flour to roll out the pie crusts.



Here are the tools I used shown above, except the fork and pastry brush:
a canning ring, a scalloped cookie cutter and a rolling pin.


Here's what they look like egg washed about to go in the oven

The Rhubarb Filling


This is the finished product. It was really cute and really tasty. Make Some for your grandma even. This time you can be the super cool pie maker.

Filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups thawed frozen rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup Sugar + a little more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup H2O
Pre-Made pie dough, enough for 1 9'' pie

Egg Wash:
  • 1 Egg yolk + 1 Tbsp water
Flour for rolling

Instructions/How to:
  1. Pre-Heat oven to 375*
  2. Start by Heating together all the listed rhubarb filling ingredients and allow to simmer until thickened allow to cool before filling in crusts
  3. Roll out the pie dough using as much flour needed so it's not too sticky. Liberally flour your pin too.
  4. Cut out the circles using your canning jar ring or large cookie cutter shape of your choice. Re-roll out the scraps and cut out a smaller shape for decoration
  5. Place about 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons of the filling in the middle of the larger shaped pie dough cut out. Brush edges with egg wash and top with other large piece of cut out dough. Press around the filling on the outer edges gently and press to seal with a fork.
  6. Brush top with more egg wash, place decorative smaller cut out of pie dough on top and egg wash that too. Sprinkle with a little sugar.
  7. Place on un-greased glass baking dishes and Bake @ 375* for about 15-25 minutes or untill golden brown.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Spicy Lime & Ginger Beef Stir Fry




This evening I decided stir fry was on the menu, but what flavors would I fuse together to get those taste buds tingling? At first I thought about a lovely little curry number, then about making sweet and sour sauce. The curry seemed all too common for our household, & the sweet and sour just wasn't exactly what I was after. So I did what I always do and scanned my fridge and pantry to see just exactly what I had on hand and or needed to be used. I saw two sad little limes that were going to die soon if I didn't utilize them & I also wanted to ensure that my family got their vitamin C so we couldn't develop a rotten case of scurvy.




The above are two poorly taken photos of the ingredients needed to prepare this dish. To be honest my camera ran out of batteries & at the same time I was running out of day light, so I just had to go with what I had. Of course it wouldn't be an indecisive homemaker post unless something wasn't included in the photo of ingredients. In this case it's ketchup. Yes, ketchup. When I think Asian flavors I always try to include sweet, sour, salty, and in this case spicy all in one. So at the last minute I decided to add the ketchup for the sweet part.


First I started my rice. I always like to make a little extra so I can have a little lunchie for the next day. I measured out 2 cups of basmati rice and 4 cups of water. I brought it to a boil capped it, and turned it down to medium. Allow it to simmer until rice is fluffy. An indication of all the water is absorbed is when you will see little holes or gaps at the top of the pot of rice. When done cover and set aside.


Next is the beef and veg. While the rice is cooking add the following together into a bowl to marinate for a bit: about 7 & 1/2 ounces thinly sliced sirloin cut steak, 1 Tbs Siracha chili sauce, 1 Tbs vegetable oil, the zest of two smallish limes with the juice of one, 1/2 a Tbs powdered ginger, 2 Tbs's ketchup, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 Tbs seasoned rice vinegar, and 1 Tbs soy sauce. I sadly didn't have fresh garlic or ginger but fresh is always best.

You will need 1 yellow or red bell pepper, 1/2 a yellow onion, 3 medium sized carrots peeled, and about 1 1/2 Cups thinly slice green cabbage.

Slice your vegetables so they are about the same width so they cook all at the same pace. Keep the cabbage separate from the other veg.


In a screeching hot wok or large saute pan with 2 Tbs of vegetable oil, you can now add the marinated beef. Ensuring the pan is hot hot hot, is a must. You are trying to sear the beef so that its tender, otherwise you might end up with a more chewy result in texture. Once the beef is just cooked through (taste a piece to ensure it's done and if you need to adjust seasonings,) remove from the pan and leave the seasoned oil and juices left over. Set the beef aside and cover. Return the pan to the stove and let it heat back up again before adding your veggies. Then place the carrot, onion, and bell pepper and saute just a bit because you want them to retain a bit of their crunch. Then add the cabbage, mix it in and deglaze the pan with just a bit of water. Stir for just a bit more and remove from the heat.


For plating you can use the cup that you measured out the rice with to make a little rice tower in the center of your plate. Scoop and press it in the measuring cup, and flip on to the plate. You may need to squeeze or tap the side of the cup a bit to loosen the rice. Then plate a scoop of the veggies in front of the rice tower with a little well in the middle. Place a good scoop of the beef in the well of the veg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and viola! Your spicy lime & ginger beef stir fry is complete. Give this a try the next time you want something a little different, or if you're feeling a little indecisive.

List of Ingredients
  • About 7.5 ounces of thinly sliced sirloin beef
  • 1 Tbs siracha chili sauce
  • 2 table spoons ketchup
  • the zest of two smallish limes w/the juice of one
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 Tbs ginger
  • 1 Tbs Vegetable oil
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • Sesame seeds for garnishing
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2

Monday, May 24, 2010

Beginning Gardneing from a Beginner.


Today while my son was taking his nap I was thinking, "am I going to take my usual nap too?" No. I decided I was going to take advantage of the beautiful day that was unraveling before my very eyes and garden in the little space I have left in my newly roto-tilled gardening square. Here's one thing I planted today and what I used to do it: A package of Ed Hume Seeds brand Kentucky Wonder Beans, two claws, and gloves with rubber on the palms. Ed Hume is a local Seed company to the Northwest and so I like to support that. You also may be wondering why two of the same tool? I actually have several reasons for that, one, the spacing between the the claws for poking holes, two, its good to have several of one kind of tool so that if you leave them all over the yard you can always find one, and three, I like feeling of the different weights between the plastic and the metal claws.


First I clawed up the dirt with my little metal claw because its heavier it just seems to get in the dirt quicker and easier than the plastic one. Then I made a straight row with the dirt, and used my more spaced apart plastic claw and gently poked holes all the way down so it does the spacing for you.




Then drop in the beans, and press while cupping your hands over the row to seal in the seeds.


Then water.


My Husband decided to join me & he planted some habenaro peppers to make hot sauce this year. He loves himself some hot sauce!

So if you are feeling productive and decide to skip your daily cat nap, pick up a packet of seeds, dig in the dirt, and soon you see little sprouts of joy, that will grow into your next meal of homegrown goodness!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Totally Terrific Tortilla Soup

Yesterday I had gotten home late because Wednesdays can be a hectic and fully loaded day for Olie and I. He and I spend the night at our Grandma's houses on Tuesdays. I get to sleep in a comfy warm bed all to myself with an electric blanket in the golden silence that is my Grandma's house, while Olie gets to snuggle up in his little crib in the cozy upstairs nook of my mothers cabin. We all get up early on Wednesday mornings and go to Bible study together, then lunch, then my Mom and Grandma have to go to several thrift and antique stores. There is always a lot of talking, story telling, interrupting, and cackling when my Grandma, Mom and I are in a small space together. So by the time we get back to our own home we are pooped, but I still needed to make my man dinner. So I opened up my fridge and cupboards to see what I had. I decided to make a hearty tortilla soup. It was more than just delicious. It was amazing. Seriously not to toot my own horn but this is certainly some scrumptious & slurp worthy soup!


I took a picture of almost everything that I put in the soup pot minus the bacon, chorizo, green bell pepper & black pepper. Which is sad because the bacon and chorizo are beautiful things. So try to imagine them in the shot for me please.


I took a close up shot of these two ingredients because I feel that they really set of the flavor profile of the soup. Roasted diced tomatoes, and Mexican Sour Cream. Mexican sour cream if you've never had the pleasure, is a bit more creamy and viscous in texture than regular sour cream, which makes it great for stirring into stuff.


I decided to take a shot of the soup with a moracca that I got in Mazatlan Mexico when I was a wee one on a family vacation. For what reason I added it in don't know. I guess I thought it would add a little cultural flair and really get the point across of "hey this is a Latin inspired dish."


This is the finished soup garnished with a piece of fresh oregano and the Mexican sour cream. Stir in the sour cream before enjoying, it's fun.


Totally Terrific Tortilla Soup:

(*Note* I don't measure when I cook so aside from the measurements on cans or bags of things I'm gestamating as far as the exact amount of spices I put in. I can't help it I was taught that way.)

Ingredients:
  • 8oz chorizo sausage
  • 5-6 strips of bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper (diced)
  • 1 smallish Yellow Onion (diced)
  • 1 15oz. Can Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 15oz. Can Yellow Corn with juices
  • 32 oz. Beef Broth
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • A sprinkling of salt
  • 5 Crumbled Tostadas
  • 3 smallish Potatoes (diced)
First in a tall soup or stock pot add the diced bacon and turn on the stove top to a little below high and cook until crispy. While its cooking chop your veggies and potatoes. Cook the potatoes on the stove or in a microwave safe dish until fork tender, drain and set aside. Add the chorizo to the pot with the bacon, break it up with wooden spatula until almost cooked through. Now add the diced Onion & Green Bell Pepper and sporadically stir them around until the onion becomes translucent. Pour in the Beef broth, Roasted Tomatoes, the can of corn with the juice, potatoes and spices. Allow to simmer for a bit and add the crumbled tostadas. Allow to simmer some more for about 15-20 minutes or until the soup has thickened a bit. Serve with a dollop of the Mexican sour cream and if you have it, a sprig of fresh oregano. It's fun to have a pretty presentation for your plate even at home. It really completes a meal and gives off that gourmet aesthetic that any diner is looking for, even if its just your husband and a toddler.