Tie Dye Wedding Cake

June 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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A few years ago, some friends asked me to make a Tie Dyed cake for their “hippie” themed wedding.  They were getting married a little later in life and weren’t worried about having a fancy, traditional tiered wedding cake.  In fact, they told me I could just make a standard sheet cake with some sort of tie dyed frosting.  I agreed to give it a shot and felt pretty good about it.

I went to our local baking supply store and asked for their input.  The shop proprietor was HORRIFIED at the suggestion that I would be making a sheet cake for a wedding.  My optimism quickly evaporated as I realized that it really would be better to make a tiered cake.  I had never made a tiered cake, and it would be a lot of pressure to make one for a wedding.  I actually had dreams about it crashing down en route to their reception.

But ultimately, it ended up turning out great.  I’m so happy with how it turned out that I end up showing the pictures to my friends often, and it seems appropriate to share them here!

I ended up making 3 tiers – 6 inch, 9 inch, and 12 inch layers.  Each tier was a triple layer, and each layer had two colors of batter.  The frosting was a basic buttercream.

I also made these jewels for the top of the wedding cake in the initials of the bride and groom:

Here was the pretty white cake, pre airbrushed frosting.

And here is the cake with the airbrushed frosting:


And here is the cake set up at the wedding:
And here is the inside of the cake:

One more look:

And most importantly, it was yummy!!

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Champagne Shrimp Pasta

June 23, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I’ve made this twice in the last week, so it’s definitely worth a blog entry. It also reheats really well since it doesn’t have any butter and just a little bit of oil. I didn’t take any pictures as I was making it, but it’s fairly simple and delicious!

Ingredients:
olive oil
salt/pepper
2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cups champagne
3-4 tablespoons shallots, chopped
2 cups light cream
parmesan
parsley
1 lb. angel hair pasta

Heat water for pasta.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, shrimp, and champagne to a skillet over medium high heat. Bring champagne to a boil. As soon as the champagne is boiling, remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon.

Add the shallots to the champagne. Continue cooking and reduce the champagne to about 1 cup. Add 1.5 cups of the light cream and bring to a boil. Cook for 4 or 5 minutes and let the sauce thicken.

Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook for 4 minutes. Drain the noodles and add the remaining cream to keep the noodles from sticking.

Add the shrimp back to the champagne cream sauce and heat. Pour the shrimp and sauce over the noodles and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve with parmesan.

Do It Yourself Danish

June 20, 2010 at 8:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 25 Comments

Do It Yourself Danishes!!

My boss’s birthday was last week, and I wanted to bring something in to celebrate that we could eat in our morning meeting.  There was the obvious choice – muffins.  Good, yes, but a little boring, I thought.  Then I considered breakfast casserole – delicious, but sort of complicated for a meeting – would require plates AND forks AND napkins.  I considered scones.  Could be good, but could be dry.  Then I actually thought, I’ll just order a tray of danishes.  We have an amazing pastry shop here in Arlington, Heidelberg Bakery, so I went to their website and got ready to order a tray of danishes.  I was ready to confirm the order when I decided that I really wanted to take in something homemade.  But I didn’t have a lot of time to mess around with pastry dough.  What to do??

A found a recipe that worked out just perfectly – crescent danish rolls!

So I bought a few packs of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls – big and flaky variety.

I popped them into the freezer for about 30 minutes.  Took them out, and sliced them into 12 pieces, as you would if you were making slice and bake cookie dough, and pressed indentations into them with a large spoon.

For the filling, I mixed together:

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons sour cream

I spooned this, along with a bit a jam (I used raspberry and apricot), into the indentations, and baked them for about 20 minutes.

Once these were cool, I mixed a little powdered sugar and water and drizzled it on top for a real danish look:

These were so easy and really cute.  A perfect alternative to muffins, and a definite crowd pleaser!

Top Chef DC

June 16, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tonight is the premiere of the newest Top Chef, and this season was filmed right here in our Nation’s Capital.  In honor of the premiere, Dave and Lizze whipped up a delicious feast of glazed salmon, spice rubbed potatoes and roasted asparagus, and I made roasted rosemary cashews as an amuse-bouche.  They were really easy to make and pretty tasty.  They would make great holiday gifts too.  Credit to the Barefoot Contessa for this treat!

Roasted Rosemary Cashews

  • 1 1/4 pounds cashew nuts (raw, unsalted)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until they are warmed through.  They will get slightly browned.  Pour them into a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter and pour it over the cashews; stir to coat.

Combine the rosemary, pepper, sugar, and salt in a small bowl.

Toss the warm nuts with the rosemary mixture until the nuts are completely coated.  Serve warm.

Strawberry Margarita Dessert

June 15, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Mom hosted Book Club at our house last week.  She served this dessert, and I tasted it, and it was delicious, so we’ll start with that!!

Frozen Strawberry Margarita Dessert

This delicious recipe has a pretzel crust for great salty, crunchy contrast. Prepare just as directed and freeze. Let stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup finely crushed pretzels
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 10 oz. pkg. frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Preparation:

Combine crushed pretzels, brown sugar, nuts, and melted butter in small bowl. Press into bottom of ungreased 10″ springform pan and chill until firm.Combine all of the juices with the sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Puree strawberries with juice in a food processor and add to the condensed milk mixture; beat until combined.

In small bowl, beat whipping cream with powdered sugar and vanilla; fold into strawberry mixture, then pour over chilled pretzel crust. Cover and freeze until firm. 8-10 servings.

Eskimo Bars – Best Thing I Ever Ate?

June 12, 2010 at 10:59 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

A few weeks ago, a friend challenged me to make something he had seen on the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate.”  The theme of the episode he watched was “Chilled Perfection” and the item he was interested in was something called “Eskimo Bars,” which Giada claimed to have been just out of this world treats.

He described it to me.  Brownies, topped with ice cream, dipped in chocolate, served with hot caramel sauce.  Sounds great right?  He really wanted to try them, but unfortunately, they were only served at a restaurant called the Snake River Grill in Wyoming.  So, he asked, could I make that?  And I guess I’ve become a little arrogant about my cooking because I  responded confidently, “Yes, absolutely, no problem, I could make that.”  Ha. Ha. Ha.

I told him I was going to give it a try for a Memorial Day get together, and he enthusiastically provided me with a link from the show, which I think you’ll agree, makes it seem like these little Eskimo Bars are going to be a snap to make.

Well the joke was on me.

The brownie part was easy – I just baked a thin batch of brownies in a 9×13 pan.   I think it was about an inch thick.

The ice cream part?  That was easy too – I just spread a half gallon of softened vanilla ice cream over the brownies and stuck them in the freezer to harden up.

Cutting them into “piano keys” as described in the video??  Not bad either.  I used a pizza cutter which I warmed up with hot water and it sliced right through.  I was so optimistic at this point.

I mean truly, I was feeling like a pro.  So, I melted the chocolate chips, let them cool, and added a little shortening.  I was ready to start dipping!!

Massive fail.  The chocolate, cool as it was, instantly melted the ice cream, which in turn, made the chocolate curdle.  Or something.  But whatever happened, it was bad.

I threw away a lot of chocolate.  And the bars were looking like this:

The ice cream was running out, the chocolate was hard as a rock once you put them back in the freezer (not to mention WAY too thick), and this whole Eskimo Bars thing was quickly turning into a disaster.   This is what they looked like in my trash can:

I was really frustrated.

So I quit for awhile and tried to brainstorm how I could make these DANG ESKIMO BARS.  Then it hit me.

Magic Shell.


For those of you unfamiliar with Magic Shell, it essentially a chocolate syrup that hardens quickly into a “shell” when poured on a cold surface.  It’s main ingredients are chocolate and coconut oil, which is what makes it liquid at room temperature but solid when cold.  And Magic Shell saved the day.  I squirted some in a small dish and started dipping my “piano keys” of brownie and ice cream.  And finally…

Perfect!!  I actually got better at dipping them too, but I was so excited that I forgot to take any more pictures!!  Except for this one, which is missing a bite.

We ate them with hot caramel sauce served in a mini crockpot.  And they just might be the best thing I ever ate!

Thanks to Giada for the suggestion and Jamie for the challenge.  I’ll try not to hold it against either of you.

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