Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Orange ombré rose cake

Don't you love it when something turns out just how you had imagined it in your mind? It doesn't happen as often as I would like for me, but when I made this cake, it did! I love how the orange gets darker as you go up the cake, I love the imperfect swirls that make the roses, and I love the sugar pearls that take this cake to the next level of elegance. 

I used this Swiss buttercream recipe that I thought really made it easy to make smooth, gorgeous roses. This decorating method takes quite a bit of frosting. I used the biggest batch listed there and had the perfect amount for this three layer cake. 

I used Americo brand orange gel food coloring for all the different shades of frosting. I just split the frosting into three bowls and started with the lightest and made my way up to the darkest until I liked how the colors looked next to each other. 

I used a 1M Wilton star decorating tip to make these roses. I started from the bottom and went up. To make the individual roses, you start in the middle and then swirl it around once. Practice a couple times on some wax paper until you get the hang of it, but it really is that simple. After I did a row of roses, I went back and filled in any gaps I could see by sweeping the frosting in the same direction as the rose closest to it so it gave the effect of the flower continuing on. 

If you try this technique on your own cake, I would love to see the results! I really had a lot of fun making this for my mother-in-law's birthday and everyone was awed by it. This cake really does have that wow factor!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta

Is anyone as obsessed with Pinterest as I am? I swear, I find myself over there wishing I had more time and motivation to do DIY stuff and make awesome looking food. This recipe was inspiration from a pin I had saved and you can find the original recipe here. I think that the toasted almonds and breadcrumbs really make this over the top yummy, so be sure and not skip those!

Roasted Cauliflower Pasta

1 large cauliflower floret, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, very coarsely chopped
salt, pepper, olive oil

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees while you chop the cauliflower, onion, and garlic cloves. You don't want your garlic to be too finely chopped or they will burn while your cauliflower is roasting. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix around and bake in your preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare your pasta.

12 oz spaghetti noodles
1 small bunch kale, large stems removed and leaves chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Boil your spaghetti according to package directions. Add your chopped kale the last 4 minutes of boiling. Drain and return to pan. Add the cauliflower mixture. Drizzle with the olive oil and juice from 1/2 lemon, stir.

4 tablespoons sliced almonds
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Salt to taste

In a small sauce pan toast the bread crumbs and almond slices together, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted. You will know when they are done by it smelling like toasted bread and they will turn a light golden brown.

Serve the pasta with the toasted almonds and bread crumbs on top and salt to taste. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mint Brownies

I love traditions. They help make me feel like I'm making memories for my children that they will remember and tell their children and maybe keep some of the traditions with them that I've kept and make some of their own traditions. I think the whole making a themed treat for holidays started when I only had two kids and we would make sugar cookies because they loved to push the cookie cutters into the dough and pile the cookies with sprinkles. I still make themed sugar cookies with them (what kid doesn't like having control of frosting and sprinkle amounts?), but I have tried to make more variety. My sister is usually the one who makes these, but since we moved across several states, I will have to make them myself. These mint brownies are a perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, which we don't really celebrate other than wearing green and eating a green treat.

You could use a box mix for the bottom brownie part, but I prefer to make them from scratch.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with foil and lightly spray with non-stick spray

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in another bowl.

Dump the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until there isn't any flour left. Some lumps are ok here.

Spread into your 9x13 pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

After it has cooled, you want to make your frosting. I then stuck it in the freezer while I made the ganache so that it will be easier to spread on top of the frosting.

Mint Brownies

1 1/2 cups melted butter
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1 TBSP cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with foil and lightly spray with non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl combine butter, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until well blended. In a separate medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt.

Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until all the flour is incorporated, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom. It's ok if there are still some lumps. You just want to make sure you don't over mix the batter.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely.

Mint Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 TBSP butter, softened
2 tsp mint extract
5-6 cups powdered sugar
Green food coloring

In a mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the mint extract and mix thoroughly. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until the right consistency, scraping down the sides occasionally. Add a couple drops of food coloring until desired color of green. Spread evenly over cooled brownies and put in the freezer until ganache is ready.


3/4 cup whipping cream
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine the cream and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between until the chocolate is melted and it is smooth. Spread evenly over frosting. Let ganache set before cutting into brownies. Lift foil to remove brownies from the pan and cut into squares and enjoy!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Homemade Yogurt

This might put me in a whole different category of granola, but once you try it, it will be hard to go back to buying yogurt in those little cartons (plus, I don't know about in your house, but those always disappear way too quickly around here). Not to mention all the added dyes and sugars that are not needed in yogurt.

First off, I use a recipe that uses all powdered milk and water and no fresh milk. That is mostly because I have a lot of powdered milk already and we go through fresh milk pretty quickly. The nice thing about using powdered milk is that I don't have to heat it up and then let it cool down, I can just get it to the second temperature and I'm all set. I'm sure if you want to use fresh milk, you certainly can and it will turn out great. Secondly, I have a yogurt maker that holds two quarts. You do not need one of these at all... you can use a crock pot even (for directions on using your crock pot, go here).

To start, you will need:
2 1/4 cups powdered milk
2 quarts water (between 108 and 112 degrees. I use my tap water as hot as it will get.)

Add the powdered milk and about half the water to your blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a large pitcher and add the rest of the water to get the last of the powered milk out. Pour into the pitcher with the rest of the milk. Using a candy thermometer, make sure the milk is between 108 and 112 degrees. If it is too hot, let sit and cool for a few minutes.

Before we move on, I want to talk about what kind of yogurt you want to use as your culture. You want to make sure it is plain, unflavored and has active cultures in it. I used Chobani this time, but I have used Dannon before with success. You should be able to look on the back of the container and see where it lists the live cultures.

Put 2 cups of the milk into a bowl and add 1/2 cup yogurt and mix well with a whisk. Mix the tempered yogurt mixture into the rest of the milk. Pour into the yogurt maker, plug in, and let sit until set; about 6-8 hours. The longer you let it stay in the yogurt maker, the more sour it will taste. I like to check mine at about 5 1/2 hours and check to see how it's doing.

This is just after putting it in the yogurt maker. It is foamy from the blender.

This was after about 6 hours. You can see that the whey (the yellow liquid) has separated from the yogurt part.

If you stick a spoon in it, you can see that it is solid yogurt and whey. (Photobomb, thanks to Miles.)

Another look at what it should look like.

Now, you want to let it chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours. Warm yogurt is not like warm bread... it does not taste very good.

After it has chilled in the fridge, you can eat it how it is, or drain some of the excess whey off. This is how I make my yogurt Greek style. I put a wire mesh colander over a bowl with a coffee filter (you could use a double layer of cheese cloth or a tea towel here if you want) and spoon the yogurt into the coffee filter.

I let it drain for about a half hour. It will get nice and thick. You can use the whey in many ways, but I usually add it to smoothies or water my plants with it.
You can see what it looks like after about a half hour of draining... it doesn't have much liquid left and it will just sort of peel off of the coffee filter.

Now comes the flavoring! Get as creative as you want here. I have an abundance of home made jam, so that is usually what I use in my yogurt. You can also use honey and vanilla extract. This picture shows my breakfast this morning... I used caramel apple jam and it was SO good!

Now, here is what I do for my kids, so it is already flavored and measured out. I have these screw top containers that are about a cup and I put jam in bottom and scoop the yogurt on top. Then they can just grab it out of the fridge, stir it up, and eat it. So easy! This one shows the caramel apple jam.

The other flavor I did today was blueberry lemon. It turned out good, too!

Hyrum picked the lemon blueberry... he said it was good!

Miles had the caramel apple and Graham had the lemon blueberry. The fact that they are busy eating it shows how much they like it.
Maddy had a caramel apple yogurt. She didn't even notice me taking her picture.

So, there you have it! Pretty easy, huh? If you have any questions, let me know and I will do my best to answer them for you.

Here is the recipe all together for you.

Homemade Yogurt

2 1/4 cups powdered milk
2 quarts water

Mix the powdered milk and about half the water in your blender until smooth. Pour into a large pitcher and add the rest of the water to your blender to get the rest of the powdered milk out. Pour into the pitcher with the rest of the milk. Using a candy thermometer make sure the milk is between 108-112 degrees.

Mix ½ cup plain yogurt with 2 cups of the warmed milk. Mix the tempered yogurt mixture into the rest of the milk. Pour into yogurt maker and plug in and let sit until set; about 6-8 hours. Put in fridge for at least 8 hours to cool. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Teriyaki Salmon

This is a great, quick main course. My kids gobbled this salmon up and it had really good flavor to it. You could make your own teriyaki sauce or use your favorite store bought marinade. I wasn't patient enough for the pan to get hotter, so I didn't get a good sear like I was hoping, but it still turned out well. I served this with rice and roasted carrots and parsnips. It would be good with a salad on the side, too.

Teriyaki Salmon

1 cup of your choice of teriyaki marinade
6 salmon fillets
2 tbsp olive oil

Put salmon fillets and marinade in a ziplock bag. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes. Heat up a pan on high heat, add oil and continue heating until it starts to smoke. Drain marinade, but reserve. Add salmon to the hot pan and cook on each side for two minutes. Turn heat to low, add the reserved marinade, cover and let cook 5-6 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Banana Muffins

I know, I know. I've been MIA for way too long. I promise I've been cooking and baking still... just lost my motivation to take pictures of the final products. I promise I'll be better about it!

So, I've made many a loaves of banana bread in my day and I like it, but it's not always exactly what I want or the most exciting thing to eat. My kids went, well, bananas for these muffins though and I will make them again and again. My favorite thing about them is they freeze beautifully and only take a minute in the microwave to taste fresh out of the oven rather than from the freezer. When I freeze baked goods like these I put them in the freezer on a cookie sheet not touching each other for about an hour and then put them all in a gallon freezer bag with the date and what they are written in sharpie on the bag. This will make sure that they don't stick together during the freezing process.

Banana Muffins

Yield: 12-15 muffins (I doubled this recipe and got 2 1/2 dozen)

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin well with nonstick spray and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat. Add mashed bananas and vanilla and beat well. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl with a fork until combined. Gradually add to banana mixture, mixing just until flour is not visible.  Scoop about 1/4 cup (I used a large cookie scoop and it turned out perfectly) batter for each muffin. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick entered into the center comes out clean. Break open, spread with butter and prepared to be amazed by how delicious of a muffin this makes.

If you do this in bread form it will make 1 regular sized loaf. You should increase the time that you bake it to 45-50 minutes.

Adapted from: Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oatmeal Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

My kids loooove to help me in the kitchen and some of my best memories are of helping my mom in the kitchen. As an adult, I sometimes have a hard time wanting to let 3 pairs of hands help me make something when it's easier and faster and less messy to make it myself. I try to make a point of planning something for the kids to help me make or taking a deep breath and letting them help when they ask. This is one of those recipes where I planned to have the kids help me. All 3 of the older ones standing on a single chair taking turns dumping things into the bowl. And loving it all. My kids are great!
 As you can see they got the THUMBS UP! from my 3-year old.

I didn't change this much at all from the original, but it is pretty darn good as is, if you ask me. This is my go to oatmeal cookie recipe and you can add chopped nuts, replace the chips with raisins, or mix any kind of chip in that you prefer.

 Oatmeal Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 cups brown sugar, packed
 2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl down and add the eggs and vanilla, mix until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter/egg mixture until combined, scraping the sides occasionally. Add in the oats and the chips and mix until combined.

Drop 2 tablespoon sized balls onto a cookie sheet 2 inches apart and bake for 10-12 minutes. They shouldn't be browned, except just along the edges. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen