Sunday, November 21, 2010

My first wedding cake

My little brother got married a few weeks ago. Back when they first set the date his fiance asked if I would make their wedding cake. I was honored that they even asked me to think about making the cake for them. I don't have any pictures of the inside of it but it was a white cake with a strawberry whipped cream filling that I sort of threw together. (My original plan was to make a strawberry filling-almost like a compote-but it was too loose. So I whipped some cream and added my strawberry simple syrup with some macerated whole strawberries)
I knew going in to it that baking a wedding cake would be stressful so I took the Friday before the wedding off from my normal job to dedicate to the cake making. I had a couple of mini-meltdowns when things weren't going the way that I wanted to but thankfully my good friend Kate was there to talk me down and cheer me on.
This is the only picture that I was able to get-from my iPhone no less-of the cake. My brother hasn't gotten the prints/disc from the photographer so instead of waiting on him I decided to go ahead and post the one that I had.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A confession...

I have a confession...I love all things pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cheesecake and the list goes on and on. Basically, if it contains pumpkin I will most likely love it. So the other day while at the Pioneer Woman's blog I saw this on her scrolling homepage and had to check it out: A Tasty Recipe: Pumpkin Creme Pie. I immediately printed it out and decided that I would have to try it at some point this week. I was so excited to try this that I came home from work and after fixing dinner for the family I set about to make these. And let me tell you something, they are super yummy. I know that I say that everything is yummy but these are no joke. I followed the recipe as it was written instead of tweaking it. My only complaint about the recipe was/is that it only made enough to have about 12 creme pies. Which is nowhere near enough for us. Even my husband, who doesn't care for anything pumpkin related, said that these were really good.

I'm not going to copy the recipe here because you can just click the link above and it'll take you right to it.

Here's my finished product:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lemon Squares

Let me begin this post by apologizing for my lack of posting lately. It's not that I haven't been baking-because I have-it's just that I haven't been baking anything new/not from a box. Last night changed that though. I've had some lemons sitting around for a few days and my husband's kept asking when was I going to make some lemon squares so in between football games yesterday afternoon I made these.
I typically don't care for anything lemon related and every time I make a batch of lemon squares I taste them and every time I say the same thing: "yep, still don't like them". However, yesterday was different. After I took these out of the fridge and tried a bite of one of my husbands I had a change of heart. Something about this batch was different and they turned out really good.
Lemon Squares (recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse 2004 via Food Network website)


1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 sticks unsalted better cut into pieces
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used the juice of 3 lemons and then added lemon juice for the remainder)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Line a 9x13 inch sheet pan with aluminium foil

In a bowl combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour with 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Press in an even layer into the bottom of the pan and bake until pale tan, about 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

While the crust is baking prepare the filling. In large bowl beat the eggs and granulated sugar until pale yellow and frothy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and the remaining ingredients and combine. Pour over the warm crust and bake until set 20-25 minutes.

Cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with confectioners' sugar before cutting with a sharp knife in to squares.

Monday, September 13, 2010

White Chocolate Chip/Macadamia Nut Cookies

I have been craving these cookies for almost a month now and I finally got around to baking some last week.

I took the recipe from a baking cookbook that my grandma gave me a couple of years ago. I had to play around with it a little to make it suit my tastes.

I normally use the recipe off of the bag of Ghiradelli White Chocolate Chips but I only had Toll House white chocolate chips this time and their recipe seemed a little bit strange to me.

I'll share the recipe as it was originally but I'll let you know how I modified it too.

From the All New Bake Sale Cookbook

1 package (12 ounces) white chocolate chunks, divided (I used two bags of white chocolate chips)
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 flake coconut, toasted (I left the coconut out completely)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Heat oven to 375F

Microwave 1 cup of the chocolate chinks in microwaveable bowl on high 2 minutes until almost melted. (I used 1 whole bag for this step) Stir until chocolate is completely melted; cool slightly. Mix flour, coconut, baking soda and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Stir in melted chocolate. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in remaining chocolate chunks (I used the whole second bag) and nuts. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until just golden brown. Cool on cookie sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.

*Here's my $.02 worth of opinion about these cookies*

Honestly, they weren't my favorite. Not exactly a swing and a miss but not a home run either. The cookies were a little firmer than I like my cookies to be and they were chewy, except when warm. The Ghiradelli recipe doesn't have you melt any chocolate and add it to the batter. You just use the bag of chips. Maybe that made a difference. I won't know unless I try this recipe again and tweak it some more.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Paula's Pumpkin Bread

Have you ever read one of Paula Dean's magazines? I've got a subscription to it and it's one of those magazines that literally has me checking my mail box waiting for the next issue. A couple of weeks ago I got September/October issue in the mail. Of course there are lots of recipes for dinners for a nice cool evening, not that we get many of those is October/November in Florida but a girl can dream. There was also a section on taking your regular bread recipes and giving them a makeover. I was really interested in the recipe for pumpkin bread because I haven't found one that I loved. I really like the way that this bread turned out. It's a little dense and really moist and goes really, really well with a big spoonful of whipped cream on top of it.

I was going to link directly to the recipe on the magazine website but this issue isn't out on newsstands yet so it's not available on the website. (at least not that I could find) I did find another recipe from 2007 for pumpkin bread on the website but it differs from the one I've got. To make your life easier I'll go ahead and put it here but if you've got the magazine it's on page 77. I did tweak it a little bit to suit my taste but feel free to follow it to the letter, or not.

Pumpkin Bread from Sept/Oct issue of Cooking with Paula Deen 2010

Makes 2 loaves


2 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray 2 9x5 inch loaf pans with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, oil and water. In another large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Gradually add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring until blended. Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

*My thoughts*
I bet that you could use pumpkin pie spice instead of the three listed spices. I'd venture to guess that a teaspoon or a teaspoon and a half would be sufficient.

I thought that this recipe was really great. It wasn't crumbly or too dense. It was just perfect. I bet it'd be great with a cup of warm apple cider or something.

Hello Florida? It's Melissa. Would you mind cooling down some so that I could have this bread every day? I'd appreciate it and love you forever. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Yummy in your tummy banana nut bread!

Last week a few of mine tweeted about the heavenly smell of banana bread baking in their kitchen (ahem, Kate!). I decided that I would make some banana bread as soon as I got home from work since I already had some ripe bananas that I needed to use. I ended up making five loaves of banana nut bread within a couple of days.

Here's my recipe:


2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (4 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups mashed ripe bananas
4 eggs
1 cup (I don't actually measure) chopped walnuts


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9x5 loaf pans

Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix together the butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in the bananas, eggs and walnuts until well blended. Pour the wet ingredients in to the dry mixture and stir until just blended. Divide the batter between the two load pans.

Bake for 60-70 minutes in the preheated oven. Let the loaves cool in the pans for at least 5 minutes, then turn them out on to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Wrap in aluminium foil to keep in the moisture. Ideally, you'll want to refrigerate the loaves for a few hours before serving.(Pardon my uneven slicing. Apparently my cutting skills leave a little something to be desired.)
Let me share a little secret with you about my method for mashing the bananas. I used to enlist the help of my son because I didn't want banana all over my fingers. Since he's 9 now, he's not as willing to come help me with my banana situation. What I've discovered is that I can toss my bananas in the food processor and pulse it for a bit and ta da, I've got mashed bananas and minimal mess on me.

Additionally, you could use whatever nuts you prefer in this recipe. I usually have walnuts on hand so I tend to use them. You could use pecans or some other nut if you don't have walnuts, though. I also usually toss in a splash of vanilla extract but you don't have to add it if you don't want to. I happen to like vanilla in most baked goods.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Have you ever had a loofah?

In our house this is called "The Loofah". Yes, I know that it's technically a trifle. The term loofah came about when I first made this my husband couldn't remember what it was called so he dubbed it "the loofah". And after ten years, it's stuck. All of the people at my work have taken to calling it the loofah as well. I've switched up the flavors in it a few times, always with positive results.
Here's how I put it together:
1 family size box of instant chocolate pudding
1 box of brownie mix (plus the ingredients to make it according to box directions)
2 tubs of Cool Whip (thawed)
2 pints of strawberries
To make:
Mix up the brownies according to the package directions. I usually use the Betty Crocker bag brownies-I just use two of them to have enough brownies. While the brownies are cooling, prepare the chocolate pudding. Make the pudding according to the package directions and put it in the fridge and wait for it to set up. Take this time to slice up the strawberries. I just cut the tops of them and either slice/quarter them. Take the pudding out and add one tub of Cool Whip to the pudding. Fold the Cool Whip in to the pudding until it's all combined.
Get your pedestal bowl out. Take pieces of brownie and put them in the bottom of the bowl. Spoon some of the chocolate pudding mixture and put it on top of the brownies. Now put some of the strawberries on top of the pudding. I usually end up with two layers, with strawberries being on top. Take the second tub of Cool Whip and put it on the top of the strawberries. And that's it! I usually make it the night before I need it that way the pudding has time to sink in to the brownies and soften the strawberries some. I keep one or two strawberries whole to put on top for a garnish.
The last step would be to eat and enjoy!