Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stilettos and Powertools

This weekend, I spent some time out of my comfort zone. When I was 9, my house burned down and so my mom decided that we'd build my "dream room" when we rebuilt. I ended up with this antique desk that someone had painted white, which worked for pre-teen me. My mom added white porcelain knobs with pink roses painted on them. When I moved out at 19, I took it with me. Then life happened and I lent it to a cousin but it's come back to me again. However, grown-up me does not like the white painted desk. From the back of the drawers, I could tell that it was a lovely natural wood that I could refinish.

Well, that was a terrible idea. I stripped off the white paint and found lime green stain.

I've decided that someone must have stained it in the late-70's or early-80's. To that person: I hate you. I spent last Saturday using a chemical paint stripper to remove most of the paint. This Saturday, I was able to rent a belt sander from Home Depot for $20. It was awesome! However, it couldn't reach the delicate woodworking that was under all the layers of crappy paint. I had to do those by hand. My shoulders and arms feel like I rowed the English Channel... and I'm still not done. Next Saturday, I'm hoping to finish the last nooks and crannies and stain it.

Now, I understand why people just buy cheap desks from IKEA. However, I am permanently attached to the desk. If God calls me to mission in Africa, I'm bringing the desk. My kids and grandkids will ask me about getting rid of the desk and I will tell them the tales of the blood, sweat, tears, and chemical burns I put into it. It's a conversation piece.

I had signed up to bring dessert to our Sunday night church gathering. It made me even more grateful for my Kitchenaid stand mixer. It did all the work for these Snickerdoodles and gave my poor sore arms a much needed rest.

Here's the recipe:

1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. or 1 stick butter (softened)
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla
2 3/4c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Cream together sugar, butter, and shortening. Mix in vanilla and eggs.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Gradually mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Roll dough into balls and coat each ball in cinnamon-sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.

Friday, May 18, 2012

German Chocolate Cupcakes

My friend manages a medical office and orders cakes for her staff twice each month. She's been buying grocery store cakes, but now she's buying my cakes! She says her staff has been SUPER excited. This week, I tried my hand at German Chocolate Cupcakes. I am allergic to coconut, so I've been a bit nervous about making something I couldn't taste. (Gordan Ramsey would have a fit!) I used my mom to "taste test" the frosting and she said it was good and not too sweet.

I used this recipe because it was highly recommended by other bakers. This cake is not for beginners! The ingredients are also expensive (the chocolate is over $1/oz). So, here's a short cut:

1 box German Chocolate Cake Mix
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs

Mix the buttermilk and oil into the cake mix. Add one egg at a time and fold in gently. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. You will get a rich, moist cake with a nice "dome" on top.

Another simple thing that you can do at home is ganache. In simplest terms, ganache is chocolate with butter or heavy cream. It can be used for glazing, frosting, and even truffles. For these cupcakes, I used 6 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/2c. heavy cream. I used a double-broiler method to make it. I would also recommend placing your chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl and bringing your cream to a boil on the stove top (or microwave if you're feeling brave). You can then pour the boiling cream over the chocolate chips. Mix with a spoon- do NOT whisk because air is not your friend. While the ganache is still warm, you can glaze cakes/cupcakes. The more it cools, the thicker it will set. If you want to whip it place it in the refrigerator (never the freezer) until it is slightly cold.

Happy Baking!

Monday, May 14, 2012

I'm back!

It's been quiet around here. I've been in the process of moving. I'm finally settled and back at it in the kitchen. I've been having a lot of fun with new recipes! I moved close to some local markets where I've been getting awesome prices on produce. It's the best thing about summer.

Carrot Apple Slaw

2 Apples (I used Pink Lady)
5-6 medium carrots
Juice of 1/2 lemon
10oz Greek Yogurt
2-3tbsp honey
1/2c. chopped nuts
Sprinkle of cinnamon

I peeled the carrots and removed the tops. I chose not to peel the apples, but peel them if you desire. I shredded the apples and carrots together in the food processor. I transferred the shredded mixture into a bowl. Then, I stirred in the lemon juice, Greek yogurt, and honey. I finished it by topping it with cinnamon and chopped walnuts.

Strawberry Buttermilk Muffins

2 1/2c all purpose flour (set aside 1/4 c.)
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 c. oil
2 c. berries (strawberries)

In one bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and set aside. Use the remaining 1/4c. flour to coat the berries. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vanilla, oil, egg, and lemon zest. Gradually add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Gently fold in berries. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until muffins are golden brown on top.
You can use frozen berries, but your muffins will have to cook longer.