Sourdough Bread

Yay, carbs without chemicals!

This is what I did this weekend instead of a religion midterm exam.

Okay, I might have done a little work between these two photos.

But once this happened…

…it was all over.

Can you really blame me?

A recipe will be forthcoming once I make it again using my own starter.

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Pumpkin Pie Crust Cookies

Skipping over the part about how I’m the world’s worst blogger and I’ll probably never change…

Happy October.

The other day, some friends and I were discussing how October is our favorite month. You get pretty fall leaves, not too much rain, crisp walking weather, and pumpkin-flavored treats. That conversation inspired these cookies.

They did not turn out quite the way I planned, however. First of all, they should be bigger. I had grand visions of huge leaf cookies covered with chocolate ganache decorated with delicately traced veins filled with orange and gold luster dust (Gold Leaf cookies! Heh heh). Yeah. As you see, did not happen. These cookies actually shrunk substantially when I baked them, which has never happened to me before, leaving little room for fancy toppings. Also, I’m not very artistic, for all my longing. Second, they taste like pie crust. I was picturing a pumpkin-spice flavor, but…pie crust. I like pie crust, don’t get me wrong. I will still eat anything covered in chocolate ganache, too. But, it was a little surprising.

If you’re into PUMPKIN flavored pie crust, here’s the recipe from Ann at AllRecipes.com:

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 cup solid pack pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch salt

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and orange zest. Stir in the pumpkin. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt; stir into the pumpkin mixture. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place onto an unprepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Decorate with frosting or candy.

Note: I doubled it. And used canned pumpkin. And added ground cloves. Manipulate as you please.

To make chocolate ganache, boil 1 cup of heavy whipping cream. When it starts bubbling, remove from burner and add 12 oz. of chocolate chips. Stir for rich chocolately goodness.

Fruit-topped Cottage Cheese Pancakes

I love cheese, and no one doesn’t love pancakes (right?) so it was a simple enough choice to make these for dinner on Sunday. They’re probably even better as a Sunday brunch, as suggested by the post where I found this pancake treasure: http://www.omnomicon.com/pancake-results.

They have the texture of crepes, only thicker—which means MORE deliciousness per bite. Yum.

Here’s the recipe. In the interest of full disclosure, I had less than nothing to do with it. The recipe was submitted by Daniel to a contest run by Aleta of Omnomicon Makes. See above for the link.

"Blender Pancakes
courtesy of Daniel and 50 tastebuds’ taste test efforts

Combine in a blender:
1 c small curd cream-style cottage cheese
4 medium or large eggs
1/2 c unbleached white flour
1/4 t salt
1/8 c melted butter
1/8 c canola oil
1/2 c skim or 2% milk
1/2 t vanilla
Whirl at high speed 1 minute. Grease griddle thoroughly before cooking.

Serves 3 as main dish.

Always make the first pancake right in the middle of the griddle at the hottest part. It will get bubbles as any good pancake should but don’t let that be your only guide — you have to keep trying to turn it up at the edge to make sure it is cooking right. The key is to flip it as soon as you can. Hopefully this occurs at the point that it is golden brown. If it takes more than a minute or so to cook, turn up the heat! If it is too dark when it sets up enough to flip, then turn it down. Temperature variations on the griddle are not your friend.”

I have nothing more to add, except try them immediately!

~JL

Blackberry Buttercream Petit Fours

I don’t know if my sweet tooth is inherited or if those just pop up on their own, but I think I can make a strong case for the genetic theory. My first memories of baking take place in my grandma’s kitchen, surrounded by butter and sugar. We usually made (and still make) shortcake, which we prefer to eat topped with fresh peaches or strawberries in a bowl of milk. From my grandma, I learned several important rules of baking, like:

1.) You can always add a little more sugar…

2.)…or a little more butter, for that matter.

3.) Taste everything. Again and again. The better it tastes as dough/batter, the more you should probably taste it. Just in case.

We used to celebrate Christmas Eve with a huge family party where everyone would dress up and then spend the evening mostly eating. My grandma made numerous types of Christmas cookies for the event, as well as my favorite peanut butter fudge. She also opened up boxes of petit fours that she specially ordered just for Christmas. My sister and I each each got a small box as a stocking stuffer, too.

Because my grandma just celebrated her birthday, I decided to make her some homemade petit fours. They may not be as pro-looking as the ones she orders, but hopefully they’re just as tasty!

If you want to try for yourself, I have an earlier post outlining exactly what steps to take. I changed a few things this time around. I have a new pound cake recipe that tastes much better than the one I used before (it uses vanilla yogurt instead of sour cream and yes, it has a bit more sugar). I’m very happy with it; the cake was smoother and easier to slice.

Pound Cake

Oven: 325 degrees

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 sticks butter

3 eggs

1 6 oz carton creamy-style vanilla yogurt (NOT SUGAR FREE)

1 tsp vanilla

Mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder, set aside. Cream softened butter (can be nearly melted) and sugar together gradually. Add eggs 1 at a time, add vanilla. Alternate adding dry mixture and yogurt until all is mixed with butter mixture. Bake in jelly-roll pan for 30 min.

I used blackberry buttercream for the filling, which can be found here: http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2009/05/vanilla-almond-cupcakes-with-blackberry-buttercream.html)

This is how they turned out:

Perfect tea party food!

Enjoy!

~JL

Food fails

Well, hello again.

I realize I’ve been absent for waaaayyy too long. Why? Partly enjoying the summer, partly squeezing money from the summer (work), partly summer class, partly sheer laziness but MOSTLY because I’ve been in a cooking rut lately.

My old favorites have come out with their usual trusty tastiness, but my new endeavors have been…well…failures.

Observe this:

It was supposed to be my version of this blueberry streusel bread (http://www.usbakery.com/products/bagels-muffins-breakfast/lake-chelan-blueberry-streusel) that I adore but can’t justify spending $4.95 a loaf on. Instead, my recipe, Frankenstein-ed together from a banana bread recipe, a blueberry cake recipe, and applesauce (because the original includes apple flakes) turned out like this:

It looks alright, I suppose, but the dark brown color is from the nearly caramelized, burnt applesauce and tastes funky, the blueberries became complete mush, and the whole slice falls apart when you pick it up. The one saving grace is that the streusel itself, made from vanilla sugar, tasted buttery and sweet. Other than that…not so good.

I would love to show you pictures of a parsnip pie that went into the oven in a liquid state and came out without noticeably thickening, but they seem to have hidden themselves in shame.

However, it’s past and I’m over it! Time for new things, like more desserts. I still have some petit fours to make for my grandma’s birthday, and some cupcake recipes that neeeeeed me to try them. That strawberry butter tart hasn’t been forgotten either.

My new blogging goal: 1 entry per week. Until I make something share-worthy, expect a (totally unscientific) list of my favorite cooking blogs and a collage of all of the awesome cupcake photos I’ve stumbled upon recently.

The biggest summer undertaking has yet to come, and it should definitely earn a place on That Smells Fancy: the chocolate cake contest at the fair. I’m thinking chocolate pudding cake with strawberry glaze and sugared flowers. Garden party cake anyone? And yes, it’s just an excuse to try out the amazing candied violas and pansies I saw prepared recently on one of the Food Network challenge shows.

Shout out to Carrie for baking her parents’ birthday cake and her own cupcakes! :)

Until next time…

~JL

Avec Eric: Carbonara

School is out and I’ve turned my attention to other things. Like sleeping in. And walking the dog. And watching cooking shows.

Now, I love the Food Network, but I only have limited basic cable. Luckily, PBS shows cooking shows pretty much all day on Saturday. Last time I watched too many in a row, I came across this one called Avec Eric. Usually I just leave them on for background noise, but Eric was making pasta. If anyone’s making fresh pasta dough and turning it into fresh cheese ravioli, I’m watching.

This isn’t ravioli. It’s better. It has bacon!

It is fettuccine with Carbonara sauce, which consists of creme fraiche, egg yolk, chives, and parmesan.  You should try it: http://aveceric.com/episode-recipe-14.html#. You might gain ten pounds, but you won’t be disappointed.

Not convinced? Look at that bacon!

Happy eating.

~JL

Spring is here! Which unfortunately for me means finals have arrived. I’ll be back with drool-worthy recipes SOON, I promise.
My plans include trying out this strawberry tart recipe (http://www.doableanddelicious.com/index.php/page/2/) and remaking some petit fours with berry buttercream filling and a chocolate covering. It will be a tasty summer.

Spring is here! Which unfortunately for me means finals have arrived. I’ll be back with drool-worthy recipes SOON, I promise.

My plans include trying out this strawberry tart recipe (http://www.doableanddelicious.com/index.php/page/2/) and remaking some petit fours with berry buttercream filling and a chocolate covering. It will be a tasty summer.

Spring Birthday Cake

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday, and you know what that means—CAKE! She wanted a yellow cake with raspberry filling and frosting, so that’s what I made. I decorated it with pretty spring flowers because, let’s face it, the real thing is much nicer than anything I could make with frosting. And technically, you can eat pansies, too. If you want. We didn’t try it.

Cake recipe (Better Homes and Gardens):

3/4 cup butter

3 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Allow butter and eggs to sit out at room temperature at least thirty minutes prior to starting.

Grease and flour two 9” round cake pans. Set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together, adding sugar gradually. Add eggs one at a time, making sure mixture is fully integrated after each addition. Beat in vanilla. The liquid mixture should look a little something like this:

Next, alternate adding flour mixture and milk. In my opinion, this is the most important part if you want a smooth, fluffy cake. I use a 1/4 cup measuring scoop and add 1/4 cup of milk, mix, then add 2 “scoops” of flour mixture, mix, and then go back to the milk, etc. If you take a little time, you won’t have any lumps in your cake batter at all.

After everything is added and well-mixed, divide your batter between the two pans and bake for about 20-25 minutes.

When you remove the cakes from the oven, let them cool about ten minutes in the pan, and then turn them out onto a baking rack. Set aside for further cooling.

While you’re waiting, make your frosting.

Frosting recipe (adapted from Love and Olive Oil: Blackberry Buttercream):

2 sticks butter

6 cups powdered sugar

6 tablespoons strained raspberry puree

3/4 tablespoon vanilla

First, puree the raspberries in a blender or food processor. I’ve found that one carton of berries (in the size shown above) makes exactly 6 tablespoons of puree.

After your berries have been pulverized, you’ll need to strain them to remove the seeds—no one wants crunchy frosting. You can do this by squeezing the puree through a piece of flour sacking or cheese cloth:

Obviously, this is messy, and if my middle school science fair project on fruit dyes was accurate, I wouldn’t count on using the cloth for anything else.

When you’re done, you should have a small bowl of seedless raspberry juice. Set this aside for the moment.

In a larger bowl, soften butter and cream together with three cups of powdered sugar. Once these are well combined, add in 6 tablespoons of the raspberries. You should have just enough. Mix this in well. Add in the rest of the powdered sugar, one cup at a time:

Once all the sugar has been added, your frosting should be fairly stiff. Add in the vanilla, and you’re done!

No food coloring needed.

Now that you have all the parts, if the layers are cool, it’s time to put this cake together. Put strips of waxed paper under the bottom layer so you won’t get your platter covered in frosting, and spread with whatever filling suits your fancy. I used raspberry jam, but I think chocolate might be nice, too.

Put the other layer on top and frost. Because the buttercream is thick, you’ll have to put blobs of frosting all over the cake and spread from there.

Once you’ve got the cake covered, decorate however you’d like. I’m not so good at cake decorating, which is why I used flowers and a few raspberries. Maybe you’re better?

Slice and eat up!

~JL

Pure comfort food.

Pure comfort food.

A tale of two cupcakes…

…or, a tale of two drastically different but equally enticing recipes from some of my favorite food blogs. I decided to make both for Easter.

These are tie-dye cupcakes inspired by this post by Aleta at Omnomicon Makes: http://www.omnomicon.com/rainbowcake.

Groovy, right? I didn’t actually follow the diet-cake instructions using soda or anything, but if you’re into diet food, you should give it a try. I was mostly interested in the coloring, and as you can see, the gel colors really worked.

Om nom nom.

For a change of pace, I made some more cupcakes and frosted them with this blackberry buttercream by Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil: http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2009/05/vanilla-almond-cupcakes-with-blackberry-buttercream.html.

I’m don’t usually like frosting (and you can see I haven’t had much practice in frosting, the verb) but this stuff may have been the best thing I’ve ever eaten. EVER.

Needless to say, there aren’t any left.

Happy eating!

~JL


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