Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reno update

Just a few newer demo pics to make myself think we're actually making some progress. You can see our appliances waiting behind the curtain :)

The big excitement today was the dumpster was picked up and our driveway's being poured!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kitchen work

We moved into this old 1912 (or 1917 according to another source) farmhouse in January, and though we had some things taken care of before we moved in (plumbing, asbestos in the basement), we got the flooring and ceiling tiles (thankfully only in one room) tested after we moved in. And also, thankfully, only the kitchen vinyl turned out to have it.

The previous owners back in the remodel of '65 laid the vinyl four inches under each of the cabinets. So we had the cabinets all taken out, too. We were a little disappointed the vinyl was glued so well that we couldn't save the birdseye maple below, but now we have an open slate :)

The soffit was removed today, and that alone make a huge difference in how the space looks. And I've been crazily reading the kitchen forum on GardenWeb and looking up period kitchens, trying to find a layout that will be clean and give me a nice counter workspace. It's only 12x13, and it gets segmented by the applicances pretty quickly. I'll be missing a few TWD's, but I'm looking forward to getting a kitchen put back together and baking again this fall!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Last Sunday we had our kids' joint birthday party with the family. I took pictures of the cakes before, but then after realized there was no card in the camera - ahhh! My three year old got another Thomas, and my six year old wanted Hello, Kitty. The kitty cake was on two 8 in rounds of the famous epicurious double chocolate cake with Rosenberg's buttercream and Michele Foster's fondant using El Rey Icoa for the white chocolate version. There were pastel and bright pink double daisies around and single for the border. So you can imagine those :)

I cheated and bought a tube of Pillsbury for the cookies, but I had no idea how much they would spread. I probably could have cut them down, but I thought the edges would be too rough. And with all the other party prep, I just decided it looked good enough :) I used Toba's glace icing, and it was fantastic! It seemed much easier to use and tastier than royal. I'm looking forward to trying it again this fall, maybe some cute harvest cookies :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mixed Berries with Mascarpone-Limoncello Cream

This was the simplest and one of the best desserts of the summer so far! It's just berries - here our strawberries we picked and then black raspberries and red currants from the garden. The recipe calls for raspberry jam, but I used the strawberry-currant jelly I'd made, and even reduced it to a couple of TB (I also left out the extra sugar for the berries). The cream was so easy, I overbeat it a bit, but we'll definitely be having this again!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TWD Brrr-ownies

Not the most photogenic pic, but these were great brownies! I layered the brownie, patties, brownie, instead of chopping - I keep thinking I'd read a Maida Heatter recipe like that, but I've not been able to find it again. Anyway, I loved that the brownies are dark, dense and rich, but they don't feel too sweet. I pretty much ate them all myself :)

Thanks to Karen of Welcome to Our Crazy Blessed Life for this week's pick!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


The kids love strawberries, and the first time we went picking, we got one flat that was gone by the next day. The following trip we got two flats, and I was able to play around a little :)

First I got to try Gourmet's Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream, and then a strawberry sorbet. Both were incredibly easy, only required a few ingredients, and didn't require any cooking. The sorbet was the favorite, I think because we has such great berries. It was almost a little sweet, next time I'll cut back the sugar to 1/2 c. The ice cream was my husband's favorite, though I ate most of it :) I liked it best right out of the machine, soft-serve-ish. It ended up getting a little icy, but that was also after a couple days.

Strawberry Sorbet
4 cups strawberries
3/4 sugar
2 T lemon juice
Puree all in food processor and freeze in ice cream maker.

I also tried Ferber's Strawberry and Red Currant Jelly with Whole Strawberries and Black Pepper. I really liked the flavors, the strawberry-currant was almost raspberry-like. The jelly below set well, but by the fruit, it was syrupy. I'm not sure how I can fix that, but the kids and I like it anyway :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TWD Tart Noire

This wasn't my most successful TWD ever - my crust was still in the oven when through miscommunication, the oven was turned to broil :)

It doesn't even look like a crust - it looks like a flat, burned, shrunken pancake. I can't believe how much it shrunk!

Anyway, I made 1/4 recipe of the ganache, which was incredibly rich, very smooth (even with the bubble), very dark. I managed to eat the whole cup while watching old tv on netflix. Thanks to Dharmagirl of bliss: towards a delicious life for this week's pick!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kind of healthy drop biscuits

We've not been able to get our schedule to work with the weather and when the farm's open, so we ran out the other night and picked 10lb of strawberries in 20 min. We got back, made some freezer jam from the certo box, and for dinner the next night we had biscuits and jam :)

This biscuits were the basic drop biscuits from America's Test Kitchen's Family Baking Book, with the exception that I replaced half the ap with white whole wheat. They were still nice and tender, and the www made them feel a little healthier.

We're hoping to get out again this week as the season's ending, because after one strawberry-rhubarb pie, one batch of freezer jam, one strawberry/currant jelly and the kids eating like crazy our flat's already gone.

Simple Drop Biscuits (adapted from ATK's Family Baking Book)
1 c ap flour
1 c white ww
2 t powder
1/2 t soda
1 t sugar
1 c buttermilk
8 TB butter
Melt butter and let cool. Whisk dry ingredients together. Stir buttermilk and butter together til butter clumps, stir into dry ingredients. Scoop onto baking sheet and bake at 475 for 12-14 min.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

TWD Vanilla Cakes

No rum here, but we did have cakes! I used vanilla extract, no beans. Even so, this was great plain. I had some whipped cream and strawberries, but the cake went too fast to try them :)

Thanks to Wendy of Pink Stripes for this week's pick!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Raspberries and Currants

We moved in January, so we've been discovering a lot about the new yard. Like the 28 rhubarb plants. And six beautiful red currant bushes. I need to learn about pruning them, but even with some neglect, they're producing. I'd never been able to find currants til a farm stand last summer, and we loved them - out of hand, jelly, tarts, pies. I was thrilled to find we'd have our own!

And most exciting for the kids were the raspberries bordering the garage and the self seeded plants randomly around the yard. We kept watching and kept watching, and I couldn't figure out why they weren't ripe - they were such a beautiful, rich red....and then one turned black :)

I'm reading of jams and jellies and thinking of freezing, but so far I've not been able to beat the kids to them! Hopefully I'll get a chance to make something to post about :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TWD Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake

This TWD pick worked out perfectly for us! My son turned three last week and asked for chocolate cake and vanilla frosting and Thomas. I was thrilled that the cake would match the TWD schedule! (though I'll have to try the whole choc frosting/jam combo another time). It was a nice solid cake and it held up really well to the carving and fondant.

I used Wendy's Thomas tutorial for pics on shaping the cake which were really helpful. One thing I learned if I try this again was to purchase ready-made black and red fondant. For the black, I added cocoa powder that made it taste pretty good, though it got a little crumbly. Even with the tasty cocoa fondant, I think I'd prefer a trip to Michael's for some Wilton with a five and three year old along than have to knead black or red again. :)

I thought this cannibalistic-ish pic was just a little funny....

The picture looks a little rough, my husband kept sneaking off little slivers leaving a very appealing crust of fondant. But I wanted to make sure I got a quick picture before it was all gone! Thanks to Amy of Amy Ruth Bakes for this week's TWD pick!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

TWD Tender Shortcakes

Again I got these done ahead of time and just didn't get the post up (I need to work on my schedule here). Anyway, I made the full batch, which made some huge shortcakes!

They ended up having to bake longer and got a little dark, but the family loved these anyway :)

Thanks to Cathy of the Tortefeasor for selecting this week's recipe!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TWD White Chocolate Brownies

After reading the comments, I skipped the meringue and just made a batch in an 8x8 pan. I also made a couple of substitutions - blackberries and lemon zest for the raspberries and orange and one less tb butter.

These were interesting, they stayed very soft and almost a little custardy and a little greasy. I think the lemon-blackberry needs a lighter cake. The brownie base is a fun idea, though, I'm looking forward to seeing what others did with it!

Thanks to Marthe of Culinary Delights for this week's pick!

Monday, May 24, 2010

TWD Banana Coconut Ice Cream Pie

Last night got a little busy, so I missed posting, but I had made little pies! I am not a fan of the banana-chocolate combo, and generally I don't like coconut in desserts, so I made a few substitutions :) The crust I kept the same, and only bananas on top of the pie (not in).

I also tried a version with Breyer's Heath ice cream and a little cocoa powder that was pretty tasty.

Thanks to of spikebakes for this week's pick!

Friday, May 21, 2010


I got Greweling's Chocolates and Confections and some molds for Christmas, and I just got to try playing around a little!

Based on what I happened to have, I tried the Poodles, but I molded them instead of dipping and rolling in the chocolate curls, so it probably doesn't seem to make sense that these would be called Poodles. Anyway, the cream's infused with coffee, then used in the ganache. It was my first time using a polycarbonate mold, and it got incredibly messy. And I had trouble keeping the chocolate in temper, working with a smaller amount. I'm not sure how I'll change that yet... but in spite of it all, they were pretty tasty :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

TWD Apple-Apple Bread Pudding

I didn't get a pic til the very last piece -we really liked this bread pudding! My changes were no apple butter (not having it in the pantry) and to tear the bread instead of doing the slices, I've never had great luck with slices all getting soaked. I love traditional bread pudding and was a little hesitant about the apple variation, but we really liked it. I think that they were caramelized first made them a little less like biting into a baked apple in the middle of the bread pudding. It was still cold here, so bread pudding was perfect!

Thanks to Elizabeth of Cake or Death? for this week's pick!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kumquat Marmalade

I *do* like marmalade! :)

This kumquat marmalade is great (especially on the whole wheat brioche from HBin5)! It set just right, sweet and tangy and citrus-y. I'll have to try others again next year.

Now on to the 28 rhubarb plants that came with our new backyard (this is just one bed)....

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tea Party!

My daughter's Daisy troop had a Teddy Bear Tea Party last weekend, so I had to find a girly dessert to bring!

I've done the Peggy Porshen royal icing butterflies before, and it worked out a little better. I tried doing too many at a time and my pink icing was too thick, so the wings weren't as fine, but it worked out anyway. I cheated, too, and didn't bother putting them together on the folded paper, I just made the wings, stuck them in the icing and then royal iced the body. The bodies are still wet here, but had dried by the time we got to the party an hour later.

I used Toba's Moist Yellow Cake for the cupcakes. One recipe makes about 27-28 cupcakes. They're fantastic, though at least in cupcake form, need to be eaten the day of, otherwise they dry out. They're pretty great cupcakes same day.

The frosting's a double batch of Rosenberg's buttercream that's available online as a mocha version (just omit the water and coffee). We love the buttercream, and have eaten plain with fruit, because we're so health-minded :)

The tea party was cute, the girls were all dressed up, posing with their teddy bears. Fun little tea party!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

TWD Chocablock

We love cookies around here. They never last long. I'd added Trader Joe's 72% chocolate, craisins and chopped almonds for my add-in's. I'm not a big fan of oatmeal cookies or cookies with fruit in them (why is there something healthy in my cookie!). The family seemed to like these - they went quickly, except for the one last cookie no one wants to get blamed for eating.

Thanks to Mary of Popsicles and Sandy Feet for selecting this week's recipe!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Three Citrus Marmalade

I've never really liked store bought marmalade, but I thought (like some other things like blueberry pie) maybe I'd really like homemade. I had some grapefruit and oranges (and the kids had moved on from their citrus kick), and I just happened to have a couple lemons, so I figured it was a sign to finally try making marmalade.

The fruit looked so pretty and fresh. Ferber calls for 1 3/4 lb oranges, 1 3/4 lb grapefruit, 2 lemons, and 3 3/4 c sugar. Only the flesh of the oranges and grapefruit is used, and is diced. The whole fruit of the lemons is sliced. The recipe boils the fruit, lets it sit overnight and then boils to set the next day. On the second day I boiled just the juice first, and then added the fruit to temp. I'm not sure what I was doing wrong but I was not able to get it to set. Then the next day, this was some stiff marmalade. I tried some, and it's a little too bitter for me, but it could be I just don't like marmalade. I loved the look of the lemon slices, and thought the jars were pretty. I have some kumquats which are either going to be candied or I'll have another go at marmalade :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

TWD Sweet Cream Biscuits

I was thrilled with these biscuits! I used 1 3/4 c Trader Joe's ap, and 1/3 cup Softasilk. This is the first time I've gotten biscuits to start to look like biscuits! They usually end up as little rocks. These certainly weren't perfect, but they're the best I've done so far. These were soft and light-ish at least :)

Thanks to Melissa of Love at First Bite for selecting this week's recipe!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

HBin5 Bread Braid #9

This is my second try with the Gluten-Free Olive Oil Bread, and this time the kids ate it! (Here's my first attempt - the kids didn't like how white the bread was).

For this try, I subbed only about 1/4 c of the brown rice flour with buckwheat flour, and I added about 2 TB of molasses. We like the whole grain breads around here, so this loaf has been our best so far!

Visit Michelle at Big Black Dog to see how the other bakers did!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TWD Swedish Visiting Cake

I was so excited about this cake! The book's photo is beautiful, I love the sliced almonds, and the name sounds like a recipe I'd get from my grandma. I was little anxious thinking a 1/2 tsp was a lot of almond extract, but it was perfect. I was also a little worried that after I'd poured the batter in, I realized the recipe actually called for a 9in pan, not a 12 in. Who knows where I got the 12 in from, but it amazingly seemed to still work, still making a cake (instead of a pancake). And I love the look of a cake (or anything really) in a cast iron pan :)

I loved this cake, the kids loved this cake, and it was so easy. We'll definitely be making this one again. Thanks, Nancy of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs for the great pick!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

America's Test Kitchen Classic Yellow Cupcakes

I had to make some cupcakes for a sock hop at my kid's school, so I decided to go with a basic kid-friendly yellow cupcake with a traditional powdered sugar chocolate buttercream. I used the Classic Yellow Cupcakes recipe from America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, since I've found America's Test Kitchen recipes to be good standards. The cupcake was good, but not really notable. I've seen lots of recommendations for a CI yellow cake, so maybe I'll try that one next time. The buttercream is from epicurious, and it was perfect for the basic cupcake craving.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter cookies

I signed up to bring cookies for my kid's Easter party at school yesterday (and the reason for the late-night photo). I wanted something easy but cute - so bunnies and chicks with minimal decoration :)

I'd tried making bunnies and eggs last year with royal icing, and while the eggs looked pretty and the bunnies were ok, the cookies got hard and stale. This summer I'd tried making onesies cookies with this fondant for icing, and I loved that there's no wait time for drying and the cookies and frosting stay soft. And rolling and cutting out the fondant is so much faster. I used Wilton chocolate wafers for the piping. Again, little wait time. I was able to package everything up ten minutes after piping. So convenient!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lemon Curd Ice Cream

We're getting some warm for us weather here in Wisconsin (it's supposed to be 70 tomorrow!), so I'm breaking out the ice cream maker :)

Earlier I'd made RLB's lemon curd, using the adding the butter at the end idea. I had a cup leftover, which ended up being perfect for a half batch of Sherry Yard's lemon curd ice cream. I got the proportions from a discussion board, originally it's from The Secrets of Baking. I left out the lemon juice as I didn't have any lemons on hand.

I really liked this - it was easy, already having the curd made, I didn't have to make a custard. It was smooth, almost like a custard instead of ice cream. I'll be keeping this one in mind for the summer!

Lemon Curd Ice Cream
1 cup lemon curd
1 1/2 c whole milk
1 c whipping cream
pinch of salt
Whisk together, chill, then churn.

TWD Coconut Tea Cake

I made the base of this cake without the shredded coconut. I've never really liked the texture of coconut in baked goods or candy bars. I really liked the coconut milk, though, and made a powdered sugar-coconut milk glaze. Since some of the top stayed in the silicone pan, I glazed the bottom. Which I think I like better, that crispy part with the glaze, mmmm. I love the idea of some lime, too, for next time.

I added a little basic blueberry sauce (thaw 1 1/2 cups wild blueberries, reduce juice til thick, add a TB of lemon juice and sugar to taste - I added about 1 TB). This was a great cake, and a great base for "playing around". I'm looking forward to making it again!

Thanks to Carmen of Carmen Cooks who picked this week's TWD recipe!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Yellos gf cupcakes

Another of my efforts to bake gluten free. The little ones wanted some yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting, so I found these Gluten-free Yellow cupcakes from allrecipes via cakecentral. CakeCentral has been a great resource for me. The bakers there are very helpful, and it's fun to browse everyone's projects!

Anyway, the cupcakes went ok. They fell, so they didn't look as nice as the photos on allrecipes. I find the rice flour to have a little bit of metallic aftertaste. I'm hoping to try experimenting with some other flours, and just picked up some millet flour yesterday (though I passed on the $12 quinoa flour, I think I may have to purchase a mill).

These were nice and light, though. And leveled and decorated in cake form, I'm sure they'd be a great cake!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Waffles

In our search for gf breakfast foods, I found these fantastic gf waffles! I used the flour mix suggested of 2 cups White Rice Flour, 1 cup Potato Starch, 1/2 cup Tapioca Starch, 1-3/4 tsp Guar Gum, and have also subbed in some brown rice flour. With our changes:

Gluten-free waffles

Whisk together
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 c millet flour
1 c potato starch
1/2 c tapioca starch
2 tsp guar gum
3/4 tsp salt
2 TB baking powder
1 TB sugar

In a separate bowl, beat to soft peaks
4 egg whites

In a separate bowl, beat together
4 egg yolks
3 cups milk (we've used rice, almond or soy)
1/4 c oil
1 tsp vanilla

Add dry ingredients to wet, reserving the egg whites. Blend and let stand for about ten minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, combine egg whites. Bake on waffle iron. In our four square belgian waffle iron, the recipe makes about 20 squares (or five rounds on the iron).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

TWD Soft Chocolate and Raspberry Tart

Inspired by the candied kumquats in the P&Qs, I subbed some candied lemon peel for the raspberries, and I thought it turned out nicely, very mellowly lemon. I also just used a pie crust I had in the freezer, and used my muffin tin for minis. So quite a few subs in all, but these were great little snack "tarts". Also like the comments, I was surprised by how brownie-ey these were! I'm looking forward to trying this one again this summer with some good raspberries!

Monday, March 15, 2010

HBin5 Bread Braid #7

For the HBin5 Bread Braid #7, we had the Avocado-Guacamole bread and Pesto Pine Nut bread. Both hearty, snack-able breads!

No substitutions for the avocado bread, and my husband liked it. It was ok for me, I liked the hint of garlic. I think maybe I need to try it with some cheese...

For the Pesto, I subbed walnuts for the pine nuts, and I used Trader Joe's pesto. My dough turned out really wet for this one, so my loaf is a little odd. I think this would be great with a pasta dinner. It was good right out of the oven, but I liked it even better toasted with some butter. I think this could be great for sandwiches, too!

Visit Michelle at Big Black Dog to see how all the other bakers did!