31 March 2011

Stepping out of the comfort zone....

When I inform people that I've never baked a pie I'm usually met with some form of "What?! How can that be? You have to bake a PIE!"

... well. Apparently I have to bake a pie. They're frightening though, didn't you know that? According to my sources the crust has to be perfect or else the whole. thing. is ruined. Oh, and they're really hard to make perfect. I'm excited already.

Okay, sarcasm aside. I was excited and I like challenges. I've been doing cakes a lot and last year it was cheesecakes so I may as well step it up and bake a pie. That's right, I fear no flaky crust. Bring it on.

First I need a recipe. I'll just head over to the trusty (and sometimes not so trusty) allrecipes.com and pick one out. Hmm... what has the most stars? We'll start with that one. It, of course, doesn't have a recipe for crust ("They're too hard! Buy a pre-made! Turn back now!"). I went with the classic Crisco recipe because, hey, think what you will but they've never let me down before.

After I baked it I already knew a couple of things I would change, but for the sake of telling the tale as it happened, I'll mention those at the end...
Crisco Classic Pie Crust
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup well-chilled Crisco®
4 to 8 tablespoons ice cold water

Apple Pie
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored and sliced

*I was a little appalled to see an apple pie recipe without cinnamon. So I added some.... 

30 March 2011

Simple pink roses

I'll just be giving a quick post today, but I have something more exciting coming up tomorrow! Promise.

I love cake decorating, but I've only just begun and haven't got the hang of anything particularly difficult yet. I haven't, for example, made successful flowers. I kind of made daises once but they weren't anything to brag about. I didn't even use them on the cake. Sad, but it's true.

While not giving up hope but still wanting to do something lovely I was super excited when I saw this rose cake over at "i am baker." So adorable! So easy! I wish I had thought of this.

Want to see how to do it?

26 March 2011

DIY wall art!

Those vinyl stickers are all the rage, right? I know I love them. They always look really neat and they're handy for those who aren't allowed to paint on their walls (or those who don't feel they're good enough to paint on their walls).

I decided the other day that a door in my house was boring and needed a change. I haven't painted anything in a long while so I didn't have any art to hang... so I could make something new. After seeing this picture I was inspired. Also, I loved this from Amazon, but $25.00 for stickers? No. As pretty as they are, no.

Using an old frame that I had and some contact paper I came up with a solution.

20 March 2011

Bananas and blueberries

Good morning. You know what I love about mornings? Breakfast. I've only recently discovered how much I really love this meal but now I cherish the mornings I have the time to cook up something delicious. Some days I want to put in less effort than others, though, so a quick muffin recipe does the job.

This recipe comes from another adorable book of mine, "Scones, Muffins, & Tea Cakes." It's a dainty little book with lovely recipes. I've only used a few recipes so far and the one I've used multiple times is the one for blueberry banana muffins.

Tasty inside and out. The fruit makes them healthy... right? Well, I can dream.

Blueberry Banana Muffins
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup sugar
 2 eggs
1 cup mashed bananas (2 to 3 ripe bananas)
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

17 March 2011

The luck of the Irish

I am super excited about this cake I'm showing today. Bailey's Irish Cream Cake. 

You are interested, yes? I had first tried it a couple of years ago during a family gathering at Michael's parent's house and it was delicious. Oh, and the glaze. It is amazing and now that I know the recipe it's no wonder. There's butter involved.
I'd been wanting to eat this cake again (and again and again) and I finally asked for the recipe so I could bake it up for St. Patrick's Day. It's ridiculously simple. So much in fact, that I felt I needed to add a challenge.

Inspired by the Bake it in a Cake method I decided that I should put little shamrocks in the cake. Could I do this, was it worth the effort? Um, of course.

Bailey's Irish Cream Cake
1 pkg. (18 oz.) white cake mix
3.4 oz. pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup Bailey's

Bailey's Irish Cream Glaze
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Bailey's

15 March 2011

Are ugly brownies still tasty brownies?

Brownies may have been my first real baked-good love. That may be because they were the most common in my household growing up; that and chocolate chip cookies. Either way, you can't go wrong right?

It wasn't until adulthood that I actually started making brownies from scratch. That's right, the boxed kind made their way into my life and my stomach for many years. I may never be able to go back now. Especially now that I have the most adorable brownie cookbook. The Brownie Experience is so precious it's ridiculous. The illustrations are all hand drawn and the writing is all hand-lettered calligraphy. Most important, the recipes are delicious. I've never had a bad experience.

Sort of. I think any problems I experienced with the following recipe could be attributed to myself somehow.

Many of the books brownies have some wild ingredients (One day I will make the Coconut Key Lime Brownies) but since I promised my boyfriend (Michael) brownies when he came home I needed one that I already had all the ingredients for.

Chocolate Caramel Brownies
1/4 cup butter
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup pecan halves*
Caramel Syrup (see below)
3/4 cup chocolate chips

*I lied. I didn't actually use these but they were the one thing I didn't have and it seemed silly to go to the store for one thing. Although later I barely had enough flour so had I needed more of that, there would have been pecans.

Caramel Syrup
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

12 March 2011

Who loves ginger? I do!

I love ginger. I made a marinade for salmon the other day (delicious) and it just wasn't enough. After I looked around online at a few different recipes I finally found one that didn't involve refrigerating the dough, which would have been fine if I didn't want these as soon as possible. These resulted in delicious, chewy cookies.

Ginger Cookies
2 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. ground ginger*
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tbs. water
1/4 c. molasses**
2 tbs. sugar

*I added an extra tsp. of freshly grated ginger root because, like I said, I love ginger.
**This one I didn't have, so I used brown sugar. 3/4 cup (firmly packed) for every cup of molasses.

I didn't eat all of those, but I could have...