Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pasta Caprese

Caprese Salad- an Italian specialty that is a simple dish designed to feature its three primary ingredients: Tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese. The preferred mozzarella is made from the milk of the water buffalo. Caprese salad can be garnished with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and black pepper.

Now add some pasta to that awesomeness and you get Caprese Pasta!

After looking at broken blinds for the past year thanks to our cat's birdwatching hobby we decided an upgrade was necessary. The blinds were sticking out all over the place on one side and on the other side a perfect square (the size of a cat head). Anytime someone came to our house I was so embarrassed by the state of our blinds that I tried to deflect attention anywhere else. Our plan was to install some nice two inch wooden plantation blinds in the evening and have a light late dinner.  But instead I ended up being lazy and just watched my husband sweat, curse, and struggle putting up these blinds. I still made dinner though! It was really easy, fast and yummy! I will definitely be making it again. Oh yeah and my husband did an awesome job on our blinds. Enjoy!

Pasta Caprese
1 carton cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
2 cups or 1 package mozzarella pearls
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces penne pasta

Mix tomatoes, mozzarella, oil and vinegar in medium bowl. Season with salt,pepper, garlic salt and crushed red pepper. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature. Mix in basil.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Return pasta to pot. Add tomato mixture and toss gently to blend. Season with salt and pepper and serve


Listening To:

Husband struggling to put the blinds up

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Yam What I Yam!

Ok so this blogging thing is tougher than I thought. I never realized how easy I had it when I would just post pictures on Facebook with a lame little caption. I think the reason it has been so hard is because writing has never been my strong suit and I find that I write like speak. And obviously I speak by rambling off mindless topics that jump all over the place with a few bad words thrown in. So from here forward I plan on being a lot more committed to this blog. No more copping out by just posting pictures on Facebook!
Besides not blogging this month I have been stricken with the changing weather sinus crap. Fall is rearing its colorful little head here in the mountains and thanks to this cool/hot weather falls brings, I have had whatever this junk is for going on a week and a half. Through the head pressure and sniffles I had to make a birthday cake and cater food for a bridal shower feeding 20-30 people. Even though I survived, the lack of sleep, late nights and working the 8-5:30 did not help me get better. In fact I have gotten worse and now I have no voice. (I'm sure people will jump for joy at the thought of this.) But this week approaching is my week to recuperate. I have no baking obligations and I can experiment (or not) in the kitchen. I did make a major decision last week that I am jumping off the cupcake bandwagon. At the risk of becoming too cliche or even "so last year" I am swearing off cupcakes for a while. So my Yammy Cakes will be my last cupcake post for a while because I really want to try harder recipes that actually push me a little bit. I am a junkie for trying things that I know I cant do and I think that I have been holding myself back with the baked goods. My dad actually got me an awesome cook book Dinners for Two: Cookbook with Music CD. The CD has classical pieces performed by The San Francisco String Quartet. I am excited to try the recipes and listen to the CD. Before I became a grungy alternative gal I would sit and listen to classical music in my room. Some of my favorites were The Flight of the Bumblebeeby Rimsky-Korsakov and Waltz of The Flowersby Tchaikovsky. I still listen to classical, much to the dismay of my husband who will get onto our vehicle and ask "What the heck are you listening to??" HAHA! I usually just reply "To awesomeness, duh!"
Some of the things I have made recently have actually made me proud. I am impressed that I have become pretty good at cake decorating. I have only made and decorated three cakes and this third one was my best by far. I am also self taught which makes me optimistic for the ones I will do in the future or if I ever got some proper training. I also made some Candied Yam Cupcakes in honor of the new fall season. WOW! I think I ate eight of them. And the bridal shower...I made an impressive menu. Pulled pork sliders, Fruited Chicken Salad, Baked Potato Salad, Tomato Bruchetta, Veggie Pizza, Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips with an apple berry salsa, Vanilla Berry Trifle, Strawberry orange cake with homemade cream cheese icing, cake balls. I think there is more...I just cant remember. I was unable to photograph any of this deliciousness thanks to my crappy Kodak camera that decided to break. Now I am in the market for a new one, any suggestions? I need an upgrade. Alright I think I have written enough and at the risk of rambling any further.....its picture time!

The beginning of some awesome cupcakes

Candied Yam Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream and Candied Pecans

Yummy Yammy Cakes!

Candied Yam Cupcakes with Marshmallow Buttercream and Candied Pecans
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
3 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 large eggs
1 (16-oz.) can yams
2/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Place pecans, sugar, butter and cinnamon (First four ingredients)in a pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until pecans are toasty and sugar has carmelized

2. Beat sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

3. Whisk together mashed yams, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with sweet potato mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Fold in toasted pecans (leave some for garnishing). Place foil baking cups in muffin pans, and coat with vegetable cooking spray; spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full.

4. Bake at 350° for 28 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove immediately from pans, and cool 50 minutes to 1 hour or until completely cool. Spread cupcakes evenly with marshmallow Frosting. Garnish, if desired.

Marshmallow Buttercream

1 cup butter, softened
1 7-ounce jar Marshmallow Fluff
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, combine butter and Marshmallow Fluff. Beat until smooth and creamy. Reduce speed and slowly add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture until soft and fluffy.

Happy Birthday to James!

I free handed the UK...not bad! My paw prints suck though

Listening To:

Never There -Cake
Creep-Stone Temple Pilots
If You Could Only See-Tonic
Black Hole Sun-Soundgarden
In Bloom-Nirvana

Friday, September 3, 2010

All Sorts of Cakery

Somehow in the last few weeks I have been commissioned to bake. No not the baking that gives you the munchies, cake baking of course! I love baking cakes. In fact, I needed to find a way to use some fresh vanilla beans I had bought from Arizona Vanilla Company and vanilla bean cake was the obvious answer. But when I was asked to make a cake for a coworker that resembled a woman's torso...well I hesitated. I mean sure, I can make round and square cakes all day long. I can create a mean cupcake too! But a cake with boobs? That seemed way to far out of my reach and borderline offensive. But the cooking daredevil inside forced me to accept the challenge. So I pretended I had just entered Kitchen Arena and my secret ingredient was "FONDANT". Errr....wait I have never made, worked with, or even eaten fondant! Sheesh, to me fondant is a bad word, give me some buttercream! But I wanted this as life like as possible and my reputation as the workplace foodie was on the line. So I decided that I was going to go with it but I was going to make my own marshmallow fondant, no offense to Wilton. After two days of swearing, crying and a lot of hysterical laughing I finished my cake. And to my surprise Bertha (I had to give her a name) was beautiful. The awesome part is that another coworker asked me to do a cake for her the following week. And of course I chose a design that was far beyond my abilities. This time my creating was foiled by running out of eggs while making my six inch top cake. I tried to alter my recipe but what came out was a delicious but crumbly cake. I had to redo my cake....sadness. Some of the things I learned as I ventured into the world of cake baking is that you must use dowels for a stacked cake, that fondant is ridiculous and I hate it sometimes, and lastly drinking the vodka that you paint fondant flames with is always a good idea.

Vanilla Bean Cake

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 3/4 cups vanilla sugar
2 vanilla bean split, seeds scraped
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking powder and sea salt together and set aside. Mix together butter and sugar until well combined. Add vanilla bean seeds and blend well. Add eggs one at a time, continuing to mix until ingredients are combined. In a separate mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add in three batches to butter mixture, gently stirring. Add milk and mix until all ingredients are combined. Be careful not to over mix; it will cause the cake to become tough. Butter your pan and dust with flour. Pour batter into pans and bake 45 to 55 minutes. Allow to cool in pan before removing and slicing or frosting. Frost and Enjoy!!

Meet Bertha

Bertha is sorta creepy

Harley Cake

Listening To:

Kings of Leon-Molly Chambers
Kings of Leon-Taper Jean Girl
Kings of Leon-Need Somebody
Chromeo-Needy Girl

Note-I had to listen to KOL!! Going to thier concert in Cincinnati on Saturday!