Blueberry Crumb Bars

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For the What’s Cooking Ingredient Challenge, the challenge ingredient was blueberry. Since the grocery store had blueberries on a good sale, I bought a pint and decided to make the Blueberry Crumb Bars from Smitten Kitchen.

I made these in a half batch since I didn’t have a quart of berries and plus, I’m usually hesitant with any desserts involving lemon. I hate lemony desserts. I know…weird. :)

These bars were pretty good, but I still noticed lemon and I think that’s what probably made the dessert not as tasty to me. Next time I make these, I’ll omit the lemon.

Blueberry Crumb Bars (halved)
Source: Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold butter (1 sticks or 4 ounces)
1 egg white
1 pinch of salt
Zest and juice of one half lemon
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 8×8 inch pan.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar,  flour, and baking powder. Mix in salt and lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter and egg white. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

3. In another bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Yields: 16 squares

A fun painting adventure!

A couple of weekends ago, I treated my mom and I to a fun way to have a girl’s night! For Mother’s Day, I told her we’d go to a painting class at a local business called Corks And Canvas, but she had to choose the painting. My mom is really into New Orleans looking houses, but those sell out quickly, so we had to book WAY in advance.

We ended up choosing a painting called “Mellow Yellow”, which was a 3 hour class. My mom painted years ago, so I knew it would be no trouble for her. However, I never was good at art, so I was a little worried.

I had little fear when we got to our station. The Corks part of the business involves bringing alcohol and drinking the night away, so it seemed very relaxing and chilled out.

They started us off by sketching basic outlines on the canvas.

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Then, step by step, our instructor would tell us what areas to paint, what colors to blend with, etc. Here’s my mom with her mad blending skills!

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After all of the painting was done, we had to outline everything. Let’s just say I’m not very good at outlining hehe! You can tell my mom has a lighter touch, but I still think it looks really good! Can you guess which one is mine? (pretty easy…)

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Mom and I had so much fun with this class that we plan on coming back for more! I definitely recommend a class like this if you have one in your area. :)

Wilton Course 3: Class 2

I’m really enjoying Course 3 so far. I’ve learned a lot of new buttercream techniques ,and while I know a good bit about fondant, I have also learned a few new tips and tricks as well. The thing that was the most fun was making the fondant rose (with Gum-Tex mixed in, essentially making it into gumpaste).

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I really enjoy making gumpaste/fondant flowers. In Fondant and Gumpaste, I learned how to make the carnation and fantasy flower, which I really enjoyed. So, I’m happy about making some of these flowers for my future final cake!! Our teacher is giving us the freedom to make whatever for the class, so I’m excited about the design!

We also made a present cake at the end of the class, which was really cool to make. I was a little afraid of bows, but these are easy peasy. Ignore the cracks in my bow though, because my gum-tex fondant was drying very quickly on me. :( The kleenex in the bow is to help it set in a bow shape, rather than falling in.

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For this cake, I wanted to do a simple yellow cake. For this, I turned to Joy of Baking. I would say this cake wasn’t that impressive tasting, so I’ll keep on searching for something more promising next time. :)

I covered the cake with homemade marshmallow fondant – recipe here.

Yellow Butter Cake
Source: Joy of Baking

Ingredients

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk
  • 2 teaspoons (8 grams) pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (300 grams) sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (20 grams) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
  • 12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into pieces

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).  Spray two 9-inch x 1 1/2 inch (23 x 3.75 cm) cake pans with Bakers Joy, line bottoms with parchment paper, then spray again with Bakers Joy.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl lightly combine the egg yolks, 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk, and vanilla extract.
  3. In the bowl of your electric mixer combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds or until blended.  Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup (180 ml) milk.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  
  4. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Gradually add the egg mixture, in 3 additions, beating about 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the egg.
  5. Divide the batter and pour into the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with an offset spatula.  (Pans will be about half full.)  Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center.
  6. Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool, in their pans, for about 10 minutes.  Then invert the cakes onto a greased rack.  To prevent splitting, reinvert cakes so that tops are right side up.  Cool completely before frosting.

Cake Decorating

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This is a really late post, but this WFMW is not as broad as usual. In cake decorating, you learn how to work with many different mediums. Buttercream, Meringue, Royal Icing, Fondant, Gumpaste, Modeling Chocolate–just to name a few.

Honestly, there are advantages and disadvantages to each one, but my favorite (so far) is fondant. The only problem? Fondant isn’t cheap…at all! At least the pre-made stuff isn’t.

So, when I found a Marshmallow Fondant recipe online, I was skeptical. I was afraid of the sticky gooey disaster, but let me tell you, that stuff comes together!!

Another advantage, marshmallows and powdered sugar are DIRT CHEAP as opposed to a box of fondant! Oh, one more thing….you can flavor it with extracts. No need for hard-to-find candy oils, like you do with regular pre-made fondant.

Here’s the latest cake that I made with Marshmallow Fondant for my Wilton course, and if you’re curious, check out the recipe here!

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Pardon the kleenex and torn ribbon there. It’s been a while since I worked with fondant!

Marshmallow fondant works for me in cake decorating. To see what works for other bloggers, check out We are that Family.

Writing it all down

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Since starting my diet up again a couple weeks ago, I’ve found that my best weight loss comes from a week when I remember to log EVERYTHING I eat. I started using a notepad that I found at the Dollar Store to fit in my purse,  but when I went to Border’s this weekend, I decided to upgrade!

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This is a log that holds 6 months worth of food/work-out logging with room for goals and things like that. I really like this book so far, and highly recommend it. Had I been smarter, I would have checked Amazon because they are only $6 on here, whereas regular price at Border’s was $15. :

Food logging definitely works for me in helping me lose the weight. What works for you in your diet/fitness plan?

To see what works for other bloggers, check out We are that Family!

Stand Mixer

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I’m sure most of you who have tried your hand at baking have at least ONCE placed all the flour or powdered sugar in a bowl to mix with wet ingredients and you end up with a HUGE poof of flour/sugar cloudiness in the kitchen. (Thank you hand mixer with settings of fast -> faster.) That poof ends up going everywhere and if it’s sugar, oh boy, a STICKY mess!

When I started taking Wilton Courses, I remember making that first batch of buttercream. Oh, how I tried to avoid the cloud, but the only way to do it was to mix by hand at first, then turn on the mixer and mix away. It was a hassle!

Here’s the hero to the story — the KA stand mixer.

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The great thing about this mixer is that the bowl is very deep and the settings start off at a very slow stir (no more clouds!), all the way up to super fast it will make meringue in a minute! I also can make DOUBLE batches of buttercream in this mixer, because the motor can totally take it. It’s such a time saver, and now that I’m enrolled in Course 3 (starting this Friday), I can actually look forward to making my icings!

This mixer definitely Works for Me!

To see what works for others, check out We Are That Family!

July Journey (to Panama City, Florida!)

As you might know, I’m a member of my local YMCA. I go there for my workouts and LOVE the facility. Plus, I get a discount from work.

Lately, since the wedding, I’ve had a little bit of a gain. I used to go to the Y religiously for 4-5 days/week and it has been reduced to 1-2 days/week. Pitiful.

The Y is now roping me back in. I love a good competition and this month, they are doing a July Journey to Panama City, FL.

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It’s a 325 mile journey to get there, and it’s calculated by 3 minutes workout = 1 mile journey. So, an hour workout = 20 miles.

The first 3 people to “reach” Panama City gets a prize. I could care less about the prize, but to know that I accomplished this would be QUITE a feat!

I’m planning on workout out 5 days/week for an hour each day. At that rate, I should reach Panama City by July 28th at the latest. (The contest ends August 7th) If I workout more, I will reach it sooner! :) The competition started yesterday and so far, I was the only person to sign up! I’m very excited!

Wish me luck!

I love a good (Wilton) sale

I’ve never seen Hobby Lobby have a no limit sale on their Wilton products before, so when I saw this coupon, I knew I had to stock up!

Since I’m about to take Course 3, I decided to stock up on some essentials before the class starts next Friday.

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It’s been a while…ahh. Can you believe I got all this for $25?? Yeah…feeling awesome right now! I’m very excited about Course 3!

This sale is going on until July 4th, fellow Wilton-ers, so if you need to stock up, now is definitely the time!

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins

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I love blueberries. I’m especially happy that it’s blueberry season, because they are super cheap and fairly local. Local fruit is the best!

I’ve been wanting to make blueberry muffins for quite a while, but I also didn’t want them to be high in calories/fat either. So, I skinny-fied a highly rated recipe on Food Network. Is it any surprise that Ina’s recipe is the highest rated? So, of course, I’m going to play with her recipe.

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins
Source: adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup no-sugar added applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (could have used half splenda/half sugar but I was out)
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces fat free sour cream
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 half-pints fresh blueberries, picked through for stems

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in muffin pans.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in applesauce and mix together until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.
  3. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup just over the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

Yields 24 muffins.

Nutritional Facts:
Calories: 144, Fat: 2.9 g, Fiber: 0.8 g
POINTS*: 3

Do you want to compare to Ina’s original recipe?
Calories: 218, Fat: 12.5 g, Fiber: 0.7 g
POINTS*: 5

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This is one of the no-fail recipes that I like to refer back to for Chocolate Chip Cookies. I tried making Alton Brown’s The Chewy before, but something went TERRIBLY wrong with it and they all turned out flat. (Alton, don’t worry, I will try your recipe again.)

So, when my nephew showed his mad swimming skills last weekend, I promised him his favorite cookie. Without hesitation, he said CHOCOLATE! So, I made these cookies for him and they were a hit!

I posted about these cookies before, so definitely give this recipe a shot next time you are in the mood for some yummy CCC’s!

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