Last Class of Gumpaste and Fondant…

I will show the flowers I made for the Wilton class in a later post…I left my microSD card at FI’s…so be ready this weekend!!

For now, I borrowed my gracious sister’s camera to take a quick pick of my final class’s cake. For this, I used marshmallow fondant from Wilton’s forums (thanks to user bunnywoman). The great thing about this recipe, is you can mix the food coloring in right after the marshmallows are melted, which is way easier than kneading it in!!

I do have to thank Melissa at Made by Mel for inspiring me that this fondant won’t be quite so hard to make. Check out her cakes…she is amazing at cake decorating!!

I also added Amaretto candy oil to the fondant to give it more flavor…the fondant tasted like italian cookies to me! Without the oil, it reminded me of circus peanuts! Regardless, MUCH better than the boxed stuff and WAY cheaper ($20/box vs. same amount for $6)!!

Here is the recipe for marshmallow fondant. Don’t be intimidated by the stuff…it’s easy…but remember line EVERYTHING in crisco (don’t be scared of crisco..it’s your BFF with fondant) to avoid the stickies!!

Marshmallow fondant
(to cover a cake, you need about two batches)
1 cup mini marshmallows (appx. 10-11 large marshmallows…I learned this b/c the grocery store didn’t have mini’s…I know…WTH???)
1 tbsp water (if you want to use candy oil, subtract 1/8 tsp of water and add 1/8 tsp of candy oil)
1 1/2- 1 3/4 cup powdered sugar

Place marshmallows in a standard 1 cup measuring cup and push down and pack them in. Place in a microwave safe bowl and add the water. Put in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Just long enough for them to soften and puff up. Take out and stir with a spoon until it is combined well. At this point it looks kind of soupy. Then add the sugar and mix and fold until all is incorporated and it is no longer sticky. I take it out of the bowl when it gets to the point where most of the sugar is incorporated and I knead it in my hands. This takes roughly about 5-7 minutes. Take a fondant roller or a regular rolling pin and roll out just as you would Wilton’s fondant. You can get this fondant almost paper thin and it also repairs well. It’s cheap, easy to work with, and tastes great too.

Without further adieu, here are some pictures of the cake. My sister was the photog and she did a great job! :)


My first fondant cake!

I decided to take fondant and gumpaste and skip Course 3. I do not like the idea of making a tiered cake for the reason of WAY too much cake, but I plan on teaching myself the fundamentals of course 3 through the books, which are sold at Hobby Lobby. Here is my first cake, which I made for the second class. It’s LSU colors hehehe :) I’m definitely ready for football season. I’m gonna challenge myself to make a gumpaste tiger come football season. Geaux Tigers!

Dorie’s All American Apple Pie!

Who couldn’t start the 4th of July weekend without an All American recipe, such as this one. :) If you have the book, consider making it for this weekend! You won’t be disappointed hehe!

When the ever so popular book “Baking: From My Home to Yours” went on bargain listings for Amazon (sorry, it’s not on bargain anymore :( ), I knew I couldn’t pass it up. So many people rave about this book. In fact, there is a group online solely dedicated to making a recipe from this book every Tuesday, but I can’t join that because of my diet, and I really lack the time right now. Plus with a dead camera at home, I can only make desserts on weekends (since my fiance graciously allows me to use his camera), and those will be VERY few and far between!!


My new shiny baking book!!

I chose this recipe as my first recipe out of the book, because my fiance bought a bag of apples a week ago, and so we had to use them all..so this was perfect for that!

This was my first pie that I’ve made from scratch, and PRAISE GOD for a food processor. This crust was light and flaky, and just mmm. I will say the tapioca in the recipe made me a little confused, and I wanted to omit it so bad. The only time I eat tapioca is in my bubble (boba) tea, and in really large pearls. So, imagining this in apple pie was like hmm…

However, I’m glad I didn’t omit it. I really think this made the texture of the filling amazing. I’ve always been known to sub things in baking and cooking, and if I’m lucky, it comes out right…so I went strictly by the recipe! Oh wait, I did forget the graham cracker crumbs…only 2 tbs. so I think I’m ok…**sinks in desk chair** but still, fabulous apple pie!


Peeling, coring and slicing 4 lbs. of apples is HARD WORK!! We used pink lady and granny smith apples (he had 3 lbs of pink lady and I picked up a couple granny smiths)


The dough halved, getting ready to roll down :)


The pie assembled and ready to chill before going in the oven.


The finished pie..sigghh…sorry, had to have a slice!


The gooey goodness in the middle!

Mexican Night: The Salsa

OMG…this stuff was the BEST part of tonight…I love salsa :). Once again, I chose a highly rated recipe from All Recipes and this wasn’t a disappointment at all and SUPER easy!

Ingredients
* 2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
* 1/2 onion, finely diced
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1/2 lime, juiced
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 cup canned sliced green chiles, or to taste
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
* 1/2 tsp chili powder (an addition that I added for more flavor)

Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, lime juice, salt, green chiles, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Blend on low to desired consistency.


Mmm…hand over a bag of tostitos!

Mexican Night: Mexican Rice

This dish was a side we had for the mexican night themed dinner tonight. This recipe is from All Recipes and came highly rated, so I went for this one. It came out perfect, but wasn’t the mexican rice I’m used to at restaurants but this was still great!

Mexican Rice

Ingredients:

* 1 cup long grain white rice
* 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (we used canola oil)
* 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
* 1/2 onion, finely chopped
* 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
* 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, chopped
* 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
* 1 cube chicken bouillon
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 1 clove garlic, halved

Directions:

In a medium sauce pan, cook rice in oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Pour in chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Stir in onion, green pepper, jalapeno, and diced tomato. Season with bouillon cube, salt and pepper, cumin, cilantro, and garlic. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes.

Mexican Night: Shrimp and Corn Fajitas

Tonight’s Menu was time consuming but it was a good dinner. However, by the time I was done cooking, I really wasn’t that hungry…figures right?

Oh! And by the way, you get pictures tonight :) I used my fiance’s camera hehehe :)

We had: Shrimp and Corn Fajitas, Mexican Rice, Refried Beans, and Chips and Salsa.

The shrimp and corn fajitas were from the What’s Cooking recipe exchange for June/July. The original submitted recipe was from I&R4_23_06 of the Nest, and the source is unknown.

Shrimp & Corn Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 2 T vegetable oil (we used canola)
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded & ribbed, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • coarse salt & ground pepper
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped (omitted)
  • 1 10 oz. package frozen corn, unthawed (canned b/c FI rathers canned veggies)
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, cut into 1/2″ pieces (We had 1 lb. of shrimp, 19-25 ct. and left whole)
  • 12 6″ corn tortillas, warmed
  • Taco accouterments- salsa, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, lime wedges

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onion, jalapeño, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes and corn; cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is heated through and tomatoes are soft, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately with tortillas (which we heated in the oven for a couple minutes)

Vanilla Extract (attempt)

I have been putting this off for quite some time. Thanks to ebay seller, Arizona Vanilla Company for selling me these gorgeous dozen of beans for a little over $1 each (including shipping)

See, I’m not a vodka drinker, never have been (more of a rum girl). So, I only wanted to buy what I was going to use for my attempt at making vanilla extract. So, I wanted to make a small amount, using a half pint or pint of vodka. After going to retailers, pints and smaller don’t exist there. I’m too lazy to stop by the convenience store, so two weeks later (yep, I’ve had the beans for that long, maybe longer), I find myself in the middle of CVs buying uber cheap paper towels (since I stacked a coupon on top of a sale YAY) and saw SMALL SMALL SMALL bottles of liquor. I had 4 choices of vodka, so I bought a middle of the line Smirnoff half pint. :)

These vanilla beans are so long, and amazingly easy to get the seeds out of. Look at how gorgeous these are.

It seemed like the average was 5 beans/pint of vodka (tons of recipes on the internet), so since this is a half pint, I used 3 beans.

To extract the seeds from a vanilla bean, all you have to do is slice the bean all the way down, then take the blunt part of the knife and run it on the inside, scraping the seeds off the bean. Easy right?

Place the seeds and scraped bean leftovers in the vodka bottle. After it’s all sliced and scraped, close the vodka and give it a good shake.


Store the bottle in a dark, cool place, shaking it every 2 days or so. Keep this going for about 2 months. Then, voila! Fresh extract for your baking! (well you want to pour the contents out into a strainer first to make sure it’s nothing but liquid too)

Then, I read, use the leftover beans (dried out of course) to make vanilla sugar afterward! Talk about nifty!! Great gift idea for the coffee drinkers :)

Ina’s (Amano) Brownies!

I have been trying to figure out what to do with my Amano chocolate that I graciously received from Blake Makes.


Yesterday, I found on Annie’s Eats blog a recipe from Ina Garten of Food Network. Her post was great, because she compared two brownie recipes (Ina’s and Cook Illustrated), and gave a synopsis. Ina’s brownies won in her book, and I can totally see why. These brownies were so rich and chocolatey and gooey (I underbake my brownies a little, so what?)…just amazing brownies and I’m sure the Amano chocolate really tipped it over the edge. It was a really smooth, rich flavor…I could only eat 1/2 a brownie, but my mom, dad and sister went to town. This morning, there were only 6 brownies left!! (So much for sharing with coworkers lol!)

I ended up halving the recipe, since I had 6 oz of Amano chocolate and used that instead of the semisweet chocolate chips. Since there is over 70% cacao in this chocolate, I knew this would be more of a dark chocolate brownie. I also, in halving everything, forgot to half the 3 oz. of unsweetened chocolate, but really no big deal in the end. Very very good stuff here folks!

Ina’s Outrageous Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used Amano chocolate here)
  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate (I used a substitute of 3 tbs cocoa powder + 1 tbs butter for every oz.)3 extra-large eggs
  • 1 ½ tbsp. instant coffee powder
  • 1 tbsp. real vanilla extract
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp. sugar
  • ½ cup and 2 tbsp. flour, divided – ½ cup for batter and 2 tbsp. .in the chips
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups morsels (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate or butterscotch)
    (for this recipe, I mixed Ghiradelli and Andes mint chocolate baking chips AND I didn’t half this haha!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9×13” metal pan. (I used 8×8 for the halved recipe)
  2. Melt together the butter, 1 ½ cups chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. (I don’t have a double boiler, so I placed the Amano in the microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth. Then I combined all the butter and cocoa powder to make a sauce and folded the two together.) Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir together ½ cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the chocolate chips with 2 tbsp. flour (I only needed 1 tbs of flour here) to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, (mine took 20 minutes but I like mine a little underbaked) or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. (Oops! Forgot to do this…no big deal here) Do not overbake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well (didn’t refrigerate…just dug in!) and cut into squares.



Dare I get the nutritional facts on this??

For 16 servings (with half the recipe), here are the facts…

Calories 275.8
Fat 14.8 g
Fiber 1.3 g

Points* 7

Faux Tiramisu Trifle..as sugar free as I could

Yesterday was mother’s day, and I got a call from mom to go to the grocery store to pick up a sugar free dessert for my grandma’s dinner that she was making. (Grandma is diabetic). I figured, I could make a great dessert for the family in a pinch that would go with the spaghetti dinner. It’s a faux tiramisu trifle! :)

Tiramisu Trifle

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. sugar free cool whip (ideally but the store only had fat free)
  • 8 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese (it actually has 1 g less sugar than fat free!)
  • Sugar Free instant chocolate pudding mix (large box)
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • Sugar Free Angel Food cake
  • Grated chocolate (didn’t use for grandma’s sake but thought this would be great to add)

Directions:

Thaw cool whip and soften cream cheese. Fold 1/2 of cool whip into cream cheese and put aside. Prepare chocolate pudding by mixing 2 cups of milk with coffee, whisk, then add pudding mix and whisk for 2 minutes (this has less milk that required to keep it firmer). Cube angel food cake or cut into 3 rings. Layer trifle as such…cake, cream cheese cool whip, pudding…then when the last layer of cake is laid, add remaining cool whip on top. Add grated chocolate on top, and refridgerate until serving.

(Sorry, I’m not a writer, but this took 10 minutes to make and was WONDERFUL!)

I can’t calculate the recipe b/c Spark Recipes doesn’t have Sugar Free Angel Food Cake in it’s database :(.

Guinness Braised Beef Brisket

This is a recipe I found off Cooking Light. It was our first experience with a slow cooker, and I learned the lesson of never, ever open the cover of the slow cooker…after 8 hours, we seared the brisket in the Le Creuset and put it in the oven at 350 for 1 additional hour. The meat was still super tender (the meat literally fell apart) and was delicious!


Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup Guinness stout
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh or 1 tablespoon dried dill
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can low-salt beef broth
6 black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 (3-pound) cured corned beef brisket, trimmed

Preparation
Combine first 11 ingredients in a large electric slow cooker, stirring until well blended; top with beef. Cover and cook on HIGH 8 hours or until beef is tender. Remove beef; cut diagonally across grain into 1/4-inch slices. Discard broth mixture.

Yield
6 servings (serving size: 3 ounces)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 226(39% from fat); FAT 9.7g (sat 3.2g,mono 4.7g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 17.9g; CHOLESTEROL 87mg; CALCIUM 28mg; SODIUM 1105mg; FIBER 0.9g; IRON 2.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 15.2g

Points: 5*