Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lazy Me

This month I have been preparing to move. My kitchen and house have been in such a disarray which has caused my blog, my life, my focus to suffer. You would think I was all work ORGANIZING, PACKING, CLEANING, but that hasn't been the case. I have spent the majority of my time watching Korean dramas, drinking Starbucks frappuccinos , McDonald's Ice coffee, baking cakes, .....and watching more Korean drama. I did do some packing at one point, but I have since opened those boxes looking for random things. I am just so unmotivated to get on task.
Just this last Tuesday I made this Red Velvet cake for a women's support group so I have technically done something memorable.
 Sorry everyone I will confess it was a box mix cake so you will I find no recipe for Red Velvet. However, I did make the Cream Cheese frosting - I used about:
2 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter
4 oz cream cheese
vanilla to taste (clear vanilla to keep the frosting white)
A bit of milk at the end (if needed)
I whipped this up with an electric mixer then covered my cake. It was just enough for the job. When I was spreading it over the cake it wasn't as white as it became after hardening in the fridge. The swirly look was an accident, but really impressed me. I did have to make a little bit more frosting for the star kisses; One egg white made with meringue powder, clear vanilla, powdered sugar a bit of milk and about a spoon full of cream cheese. I made this a bit stiff and worried it wouldn't pipe properly, but I was wrong it almost was to soft. I quickly did my decoration and used white chocolate chips for accents in between the frosting kisses. I was surprised how nice it looked, this was a last minute cake and my hopes hadn't been to high.
 I am not sure what is going to happen with the big move and all. I hope to take pictures of the place before and after we move in. I am excited about a bigger kitchen and the fact we will be in a house not an apartment!  I am also expecting a lot more work being in a more country environment. This could be one of the reasons for my current "Vacation Mode".

Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer Sprinkle Collection

I have always had an issue with the cost of getting a respectable sprinkle correction started. Don't get me wrong I love to decorate my cakes and cupcakes with sprinkles. I will even buy cute specialty sprinkles, (like the pearly kind) but the average sprinkle just isn't worth it. Recently a friend was making fourth of July cupcakes and couldn't find red, white and blue star sprinkles. This got me thinking how hard would it bee to make my own sprinkle??  
A month or so ago I made cupcakes for a Henna party and used a frosting to piping decorative stars. After a day the stars turned hard and a little crunchy. Then the idea struck me like a day old cupcake to the head...What if I used this frosting for sprinkles?!!?
 I new if I was thinking this someone else had too....and sure enough I was right.This link to Rainbow Sprinkles is easy and fun. I used meringue powder to make my egg white and used orange extract, but other than that I followed the recipe. The stars and strips dried at the same rate (24 hours). After the sprinkles completely dried I broke them up and moved them to a DRY container.  The only problem I had was finding a safe place to keep them while drying, and waiting a full 24 hours! To get these awesome colors I used gel food coloring and regular liquid fluorescent coloring.
A much faster sprinkle can be made with regular granulated sugar and food coloring. I would of liked to use larger sugar crystals, but I was determined to use what I had in house for this sprinkle collection.
 I used a glass bowl and simply added sugar and food color  then mixed with a spoon. Mix the color evenly and if the color is to light just add a drop or two more!

Creating a cute home for my Summer Sprinkle Collection was just as important to me as making them. I recently rescued (from my mom's garage) a spice cabinet that belonged to my great grandmother. This little cabinet had a thick layer of dust and spices dating back to 1993! With a bit of block oil I restored the wood finish and bleached the glass jars. I had found a perfectly cute home a sprinkle could be proud of.
 To make my bow secure, I used a tiny dot of hot glue. You can't even see it!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Coffee Cake

A Classic Coffee Cake recipe
After thinking about the cake my mom made for my grandmother, I had to make one for myself. Last week I made a fantastic Red Velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, but this time needed a break from frosting. I know that sounds strange, who could ever get tired of frosting! I don't know what it is maybe something in the air or the summer heat that has me out of sorts. Any who, this classic American standard was a nice sweet diversion from the normal cake frosting.


First step
Butter and flour your baking dish then put a side. I used a 7in x 11in, but you can use 9in x 13in, I don't think it matters. I was also thinking to make this in cupcake tins, but I used the last of my cupcake papers.
 I like to prep my baking dish first, so I can use the smashed butter cube in my recipe, also when the batter is ready I get impatient to get it in the oven.
You know the excitement of it all.
 Second step
The topping.
 One stick soft unsalted butter,
One teaspoon cinnamon,
 One cup flour,
 One cup brown sugar
 Mix your topping together.
Note: It should be a coarse consistency.
 Make sure you don't have any flour or butter chunks.
 If you like nuts this would be the time to add.
 I recommend Pecans or Walnuts.

 Step Three The cake
Mix together
1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter
 3/4 cup packed, light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Using electric mixer combine ingredients.
Add eggs and vanilla towards the end.

 Step Four
In another bowl add:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt (about a 1/4 teaspoon)
With a spoon mix dry ingredients together.
Step Five
Combine dry bowl (in three portions)
 into the wet bowl, alternating with 1/3 cup milk
When you mix your dry into wet some of the flour will get out of control and end up out side the bowl rather than in. To prevent this you can fold in the flour mix. In these pictures  I am combining my dry ingredients into the batter and used my mixer (turned off) to roughly mix the flour on the surface into the
batter. I then add some of the milk and continue to mix on medium speed.
Your finished batter should be light and smooth.
 It should also be a bit thick and hard to pour.
Remember to level out your cake before adding the topping.
Bake cake between 325 or 350 depending on heat of your oven.
 I started out at 325 for 45 minutes then increased the heat to 350 for 15 minutes. Once I got a clean tooth pick test, I turned on the broiler to brown up the topping for about two minutes. This is the most dangerous time for your cake! Watch carefully or you will burn the top.

Fresh out of the oven!

This cake was even better the next day.
I hope you try this recipe!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Crafty Milk Can

 I have news! We are moving to a new Apartment! The husband wants to be closer to his job. This means time to clean out the closets! My biggest motivation is the reality that the new apartment will be so much smaller. This relocation has me frantically trying to reduce the amount of crafty project pile up.
The Milk Can I have been stock piling these cans for about half, if not more of BABY BEE'S life.The plan was to turn these food safe containers into cute Carmel corn, cookie, brownie, macaroon, tea, candy,(I think you get the idea) gift containers. Why did I wait so long to do this??? I don't know, it seemed like a process that would take a lot of time. It is was way easier to toss this idea in the closet than actually do it.
 Step One Remove the old label. I used my Cutter Bee craft knife, but a sharp tip kitchen knife or scissors should also do the trick. The goal is to make a strait cut then lift the label with minimal damage. You will use this paper as a template to measure the exact size of a new label. Don't worry about lifting a bit off the side of the container, you will cover the evidence so it doesn't matter, unless for some odd reason you make a whole in the side....(this shouldn't happen).
Step Two Clean out all milk powder residue. I refrained from water use. The container is coated with a water resistant paper, but I didn't want to test it so much. A good wipe removed the little bits of powder especially around the top metal lip that remained. I did wash the plastic lid with warm soapy water. Make sure to dry very well.
Step Three Find suitable paper. I used two gift bags and wrapping paper. Stiff gift bags cause more trouble when gluing to the container. Note when using gift bags: Disassemble the gift bag and make a flat surface so you can see how to maximize the paper and avoid any wrinkled spots. One other thing to consider, if your paper has a pattern make sure to notice what direction it is going
Step Four Time to glue.  Wrap the container being aware of the edges. One of my labels went a bit crooked, because I didn't pay attention to this point. I had to cut a whole new label. When your ends meet make a line of glue on the container itself and attach the lower paper then apply a second layer of glue on the paper, but not on top of the exact location your first glue line. Make sure your paper is pulled tight around the entire container, then lay it over the adhesive and smooth to finish. I used a hot glue gun to secure the paper, but it did get a bit hot on my fingers. Paste or glue stick could also work

The Finishing Touch. This is the part that I like the most, giving a bit of personality to your gift container. You can glue as little or as much as you want I started out with an information card. This can have a special message, recipe, or simply a To & From. Other ideas for embellishments are stickers, ribbons, scrapbook embellishments, faux flowers, strands of beads or pearls, small toys even hard candy. This decorated can was made for my Grandma's birthday. One of the hardest things to do is finding a gift for her. The woman who has it all.   When I visited my mom last Wednesday we had to think of something fast the big day was Friday. In the end we agreed food was the best option. Since my Grandma loves her coffee we decided to make coffee cake and cut it into round to fit inside the tin.
 The tin fit 3 cakes. The concern was how to separate the rounds of cake. The answer was easy. My mom divided each layer with parchment paper then placed a cake round individually in the center of a coffee filter. Sorry, no pictures. I am sure it looked cute. I wasn't around when the actual baking happened (Thursday) and someone.....forgot of photo log it. Anyway. The gift was delivered that evening. Friday morning Grandma had an extra special morning coffee.  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Book time

Ribbon makes a cute and practical
With all the non-stop fun of being a mother of an 11 month old, I decided to add one more activity to my list.
Reading A Novel.
I realized it had been over a year since I read any fiction (aside from the news). During this time my brain steadily adjusted to picture books with the simple yet profound message ( to it's target audience 2+) of color identification and name that farm animal. I had to make a change fast. Looking for a book presented some problems. If I was going to read a book it couldn't be just any book. Like that trash Oprah has in her book club. I am sorry to all those who like her recommendations, I just can't read them. I say this after enduring two of her picks. When I think about it that was about a year ago........
Any way after a full year of steady metal retardation I needed a shock to break me out of farmville and the memories of  nauseatingly bad fiction. I found a book that fit my current state better than I imagined, both in title and Author. The Idiot By Fydor Dostoyevsky.
The title is what grabbed me. I don't think this great Russian author would spend his time writing about a simpleton that can't wipe his own ass, nor am I in that bad of a state. I rather mean to say this book fits my need for a dramatic novel that is both adult themed and written beautifully. Since this is a Russian novel I am guessing it will be a tragedy, but I plan to enjoy it thoroughly.
I can't read with out TEA
A pot of tea for one is a great addition to any afternoon read.  When baby bee takes his afternoon nap I warm water for his bottle and my tea. I will admit if I don't have a cup of tea I will no doubt fall asleep and so much for book time. This is just a fact. No matter how fantastic or boring a book I can't keep my eyes open. It is a combination of lack of sleep and mental relief that the little human that depends on me for everything is currently satisfied and unconscious.
Today it is black tea with green cardamom.
I recently switched from Swan Brand Tea to Al-Kbous Tea. It was gifted to us by a Yemeni friend. At first I didn't know what to do with it. The tea is like fine coffee ground, that made my tea infuser useless. I worried my tea would be grainy, but in reality the grounds settle nicely on the bottom of the pot. The tea has a bold flavor and can hold it's own if you like to add milk/creme or a spice like cardamom.
 Green Cardamom is the same as regular... just green and stronger in smell. I add only two pods to my personal pot for a subtle flavor. Depending on how fast I drink it, I may or may not remove them from the tea.
You can get Cardamom in a powder, but it is more expensive. When you use as much as I do in cooking it is way more economical to get it in the pod form. My pods are looking a bit old in this picture, but if you get a bag you will see how green they come and the aroma is amazing.

As you can see no grains of tea in my cup... but
when you get to the end of your pot BEWARE!
I drink this tea very hot with a lot of sugar
and most importantly in very small cup..