Archive | May, 2011

Canning Season has Begun!

31 May

First up?  Strawberry jam.  And, I have to say, for our first go at strawberry jam, we nailed it.  Er, canned it.  Anyway, the jam is not too sweet, great consistency and tons of strawberry pieces.  Just the way I like it!

Now, we did spend almost 3 hours in the car for an hour of strawberry picking, but what else would you expect with DC traffic?

And who knew two people could pick more than 22 pounds of strawberries in less than an hour.  Have I ever mentioned Mom and I have a bit of a competitive side?  She says it’s with nature, I say it’s with each other.  You decide.  

In any event, we have a dozen jars (okay, there were 14, but we already opened one and gave another one to the g-rents… we couldn’t resist) and plenty of strawberries for the coming months.  Who knew 22 pounds would go so far?!

So, ask us to come stay for a weekend.  We’ll bring you jam… and some bread too.  Oh, right, and a sweet treat too!

 

The Times They are a Changin’

27 May

You might have noticed… I’ve been a bit MIA lately.  

It started with the trip to Charleston.  Then it was some orders.  Then it was helping prep for a bridal shower.  But you want to know the real reason?

I’m going back to school.  Yup, it’s true.  Yikes!

In just about two week, I’ll start graduate school.  Officially.  Full-time.  Working towards a Masters in Education.

So, these days I’ve been working on a pre-req for a geometry class.  And since I haven’t taken a math class in nearly ten years (double yikes!), it’s been interesting.

What’s that mean for you all.  That’s what you really want to know, right?

My plan is to keep going with the blog.  Can’t disappoint the fans!  

But, I will be makin’ some changes.  Changin’ to what?  Well, that’s still to be seen.

I’m thinking more food, more sweets, more treats… meaning more recipes.  But, it also means less posts.

Hopefully, you all will stick with me.  Let me know what you want to see, what you think of the changes.  I love hearing from you all and really appreciate the support… past, present and future!

Custom Cuts: Baseball and Blooms

19 May

Not to state the obvious, but I was asked to make some cookies.  This time, the client wanted to send them to her in-laws (no pressure there!).  Color?  Shape?  Design?  All up to me.

So, where to begin.  Well, she did mention her in-laws love the Cubs.  As in the Chicago Cubs.  Okay, good start.

She also said flowers would do.

Well then, it was settled!  I thought the combo of a little bit baseball and a little bit spring flower, all in red, white and blue would be fun and different.

Plus, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to use the title “Baseball and Blooms.”  Can you blame me?

Back to Reality

18 May

Much to my chagrin, I’m back from Charleston.  

       

It was an amazing weekend… filled with great food, delicious drinks, fun activities, charming people and beautiful sites.  

The icing on the cake?  My mom’s two best friends surprised me for the trip.  It was fabulous, especially because I LOVE surprises.  Job well done, ladies, job well done.

        

Thanks for all the suggestions!  I’m not sure we left a stone unturned in Charleston.  And don’t worry, I got my hushpuppies.

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake – Fresh Baked Friday!

13 May

I’m going to be honest with you from the get-go – I debated whether or not to post this recipe.

As I’ve mentioned here numerous time, I’m a vanilla girl.  So, it’s no surprise, I had high hopes – perhaps too high – from the moment I saw it.  A cake loaded with vanilla beans and a hefty drizzle of a vanilla glaze.  What’s not to love?

Well, I didn’t love it.  Gasp!  Shock!  Horror!  I know.

The texture was great, but I think I wanted more vanilla.  There is a hint of lemon extract (which I debated whether or not to use as I was making the cake and went for it ) and I felt like that was the predominant flavor.  Which would have been great…  if this cake was called a vanilla lemon bundt cake.  But it’s not.

So why am I passing this along?

Well, Grandma and Granddad couldn’t stop talking about it.  Rave – I mean RAVE – reviews.  And while you might expect my grandparents to give all my baked goods rave reviews, that’s not always the case.  Plus, since they taste just about everything I bake, I know I’ve hit upon a winner when they are still talking about it a few days later.

Such was the case with the Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake.  So don’t be afraid.  Try it.  I think you’ll like it.  But one piece of advice?  Think of it as Vanilla Lemon Bundt Cake.  Then you’ll surely enjoy.

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake
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Cake…
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
18 tablespoons (2 ¼ sticks) butter, room temperature
1 ¾ cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
4 large eggs
¼ teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 cup buttermilkGlaze…
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
½ cup whole milk
1 cup confectioners sugarDirections…
Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350F.  Generously butter the bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out the excess.  Alternately, generously spray the bundt pan with a nonstick baking spray.Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
Beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the vanilla bean paste and lemon extract. On low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.Pour the patter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly and smoothing the top.  Gently tap the pan on the counter to eliminate air bubbles.Bake until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour.  To be safe, I would start checking around the 50 minute mark.  Cool in the pan for 1 hour, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.To make the glaze, add the vanilla bean paste to the milk and let sit for a few minutes.  Sift the confectioners sugar into a large bowl.  Slowly start adding the vanilla bean milk, a tablespoon at a time.  Whisk until combined.  You want the glaze to be pourable, but still quite thick.  Continue to add the vanilla milk until you get the consistency you want.

Drizzle over the cooled cake.  Slice and enjoy!

*Next time I make this, I will omit the lemon extract and increase the vanilla bean paste to 3 tablespoons for the cake.  I’ll probably increase the vanilla bean paste in the glaze a bit as well.  Can’t hurt, right?!

Source: slightly adapted from Sweetapolita

Custom Cuts: Gone Fishin’

12 May

My best friend (and former roomie) Kate needed a hostess gift a few weeks ago.  She was heading to Annapolis for the opening of rockfish season.  She figured food would be a nice touch.

Who am I to disagree with her?  After all, food is great.  For all occasions. 

So we put our heads together and decided on some sugar cookies.  Fish perhaps?

Now, I do not claim to be a fish expert.  In fact, I eat the little guys, I don’t catch ’em.  So, at the risk of offending my fishing friends, I went simple with the fish shapes.  Really simple.

I think they are pretty cute, though.  A little reminiscent of those little cheesy crackers from days long gone.  

And, if the fish aren’t biting, at least you have a cute, cheerful (and delicious, if I may say so myself) cookie to eat!

Flying South

11 May

Mom and I are heading to Charleston, South Carolina for a four-day getaway this weekend.  It’s my official 30th birthday present.  Pretty awesome since my 21st birthday present was a belt from TJMaxx.  Not that I’m complaining (and I’ll save Mom the trouble – “You were in London for the semester.  That was your present!”).

This will be Mom’s first trip to Charleston, my third.  If you’ve ever been, though, you know it’s a lovely city that never gets old.  I think we are equally excited to explore a little, to relax a lot and to take in the Southern charm.

The last time I was there was more than four years ago.  So while I know to look for some good shrimp and grits (can’t get enough), a tree covered in Spanish moss and friendly Southerners, I love hearing about new places to eat, things to do and spots for an afternoon cocktail. 

Suggestions for not to miss spots?  I’d love to hear them!


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