Saturday, August 28, 2010

For Your Little Sous-Chef

While perusing Hobby Lobby a couple of weeks ago, I found this:


Cute, right?

It’s even cuter when you realize it’s a mini oven mitt and potholder!


So adorable!

I love miniature things in general (mini cupcakes, mini cheesecakes, mini bowls, mini glasses and the list could go on). This mini oven mitt set spoke to me; so I had to buy it.

Since I don’t actually have a little sous-chef in my kitchen, I figured I should find a home for it that would actually put it to use. It just so happens I have a friend that LOVES damask print and also has little ones helping her in the kitchen; so I gave them to her and her little sous-chefs.

If you have little ones, you should definitely go to Hobby Lobby and pick up a set.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Brown Butter Pound Cake Ice Cream Petit Fours

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I chose to go with the Ice Cream Petit Fours. I thought it’d be a safer bet than the Baked Alaska; in my mind the Baked Alaska would be tougher and after last month’s challenge I really didn’t want to risk a second disaster in a row…plus I don’t have a kitchen torch L

It was my first time to brown butter and I think it went alright, next time I’ll probably stop cooking the butter just a tad earlier, but it turned out fine.

Since last month’s challenge also included ice cream, and since my attempt didn’t quite make it that far, I did get to save myself a step this month and use the ice cream I made last month. I think it was a bit more than what was required this month because my layer of ice cream ended up much thicker than the pictures from the examples, but that’s okay.

Ice Cream without an Ice Cream Maker

I also did a terribly job cutting the petit fours into neat little squares, some were so uneven they couldn’t stand up on their own. Oh well…

Uneven Petit Fours in the Freezer

I chose to use the Agave Nectar in my chocolate glaze; I’m not sure if it was that or just the cocoa content of the dark chocolate I chose, but it was very dark chocolate-y…a bit too much so for me, but others liked it.

I served the Ice Cream Petit Fours at a BBQ last weekend; more details from the BBQ will be posted later. Unfortunately, because there were so many wonderful things to choose from (I was afraid the petit fours wouldn’t turn out); there were plenty left.

Apologies for the lack of pictures, it's partly due to my lack of hands and partly due to lack of time (preparing for the BBQ).

If you want to try them, give me a call and I’ll give you some from my freezer OR you can try making them yourself! Here are the recipes (my commentary italicized):

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Brown Butter Pound Cake Ice Cream Petit Fours


Vanilla Ice Cream
(Note: I did not use this recipe, I used the recipe from last month's challenge.)

1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (165g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (500ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract

1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)
2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2 litre) bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.
3. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour ¼ cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.
4. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon [5ml] if you are using a vanilla bean; 3 teaspoons [15ml] if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
5. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make it without a machine. See instructions from David Lebovitz: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2007/07/making_ice_crea_1.html


Brown Butter Pound Cake

19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) (You can make 1 cup of cake flour by placing 2 tablespoons of corn starch in a 1 cup measure, and filling to the top with all purpose flour.) - I used the corn starch method, I couldn't find cake flour anywhere!
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.


Chocolate Glaze
9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar (I used agave nectar)
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract

Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.


Assembly Instructions

1. Line a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups (450ml to 500ml) ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.
2. Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.
3. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.
4. Make the chocolate glaze (see above.)
5. While the glaze cools, trim ¾” (2cm) off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” (19cm) ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5” (4cmx4cm).
6. Glaze the petit fours one at a time: place a petit four on a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it.
7. Place the petit fours on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer for one hour.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Antiquing Find Treasure - Giant Whisk

Earlier this summer, we took a short little trip to the western slope of Colorado. At one point during our visit we had a few hours to waste so we headed to the cute little downtown area of the town. We perused shops, bought some homemade apple butter and strawberry rhubarb jam from a fruit store, and we went antiquing (sort of, but not really...although it may become a new hobby).

We had fun looking at all the old items in the antique stores, impressed by some things and laughing at others.

In one store in particular, I found something that at first peaked my interest and then I decided I had to have it. I just wouldn’t be able to live with myself if we left the western slope without it, I was positive. And for just a few dollars, it seemed like a steal.

My Giant Whisk

I love it! I’m sure it served a practical purpose at some point, I however, don’t have a bowl or a pot big enough to use it with, but I do think it will make a great d├ęcor item in my kitchen.

Giant Whisk Meet Average Whisk

Now, I just need a little tiny baby whisk and my collection will be complete!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Personal Training Sessions #15 and #16

Session #15 was last Wednesday (upper body) and Session #16 was last Friday (lower body).

They were my last two workouts with my trainer and they were tough, but in a good way.

I’ve said a few times now that I have felt stronger… My trainer and my final measurements confirmed that I have in fact made improvements and gained strength.

My weight did not change, but I lost inches in a variety of places which indicates that I have gained muscle and lost some fat. I don’t think I will give all the details on the blog (Sorry! If you want to know the specifics, feel free to e-mail me); but I will say that I was very happy with the final measurements and my trainer was impressed (there was one area she re-measured 5 times to make sure she was reading it correctly because she was so amazed at how much less it was than the first day).

Thanks to all of you that have been so encouraging and supportive as I worked with the trainer to kick my butt into shape!

My trainer wrote up a program for me to do on my own for a while. With a little more cardio and continuing the strength training she thinks I’ll start to see even more results.

I’m excited to keep going and trying to push myself. I may sign up for another round of sessions after the holidays to mix things up a bit, but for now I’m feeling confident to continue the journey solo.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Personal Training Session #14

Session #14 was last Wednesday. It should have been completely focused on my legs, but because I’m still having some knee issues my trainer split it up between legs and core. It was a good workout, my knees actually held up pretty well. My abs on the other hand took a beating…and apparently because of that beating I was getting a little lazy on my last few crunches because the next day my neck hurt. I had a little soreness in my legs and abs, but it was my neck that was the sorest.

Note to self, do not strain neck while finishing the last of multiple sets of crunches.

I also rode the normal bike immediately after my session to get some cardio in and I have to say it’s just not as comfortable or enjoyable as the recumbent bike. I am getting used to it though; my homework was two sessions on the bike and one on the treadmill.

We pushed out my last two sessions to the end of this week to give my knees a little more time to rest, which really translates to “my trainer wants me in good shape so she can kick my butt.”

It should be fun!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Summer Cupcake Series Recap

The summer is drawing to a close. I know that in many areas schools have already started or are getting ready to start; and so, it seems like it is probably time for the Summer Cupcake Series to conclude as well. But before we say good-bye to summer, here’s one last look at the cupcakes from the last eight weeks:

Week I - Tropical Cupcakes
Week II - Watermelon Cupcakes
Week III - Cupcake Cones
Week IV - Grass Cupcakes
Week V – Glazed Gluten Free Lemon Cupcakes
Week VI – Berry Pie Cupcakes from Oprah.com
Week VII – Aloha Cupcakes from Bakerella
Week VIII – S’mores Cupcakes from Annie’s Eats

I’d love to hear which one was your favorite, leave a comment and let me know!

I am sad to see summer go, it seemed to go by so much more quickly this year. However, I am looking forward to the crisp fall air and the return of football!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Personal Training Session #12 and #13

Session #12 was last Wednesday and it focused on my lower body. It was a good session; my legs were completely worn out at the end. As I’ve mentioned before, I feel stronger, but even my trainer commented on how much better I’m doing – both with cardiovascular and strength-wise.
However, my knees started acting up again which caused me to take a little longer to finish some sets of the squats and lunges. My right knee is worse than the left. My trainer told me to take a few days off to give my knees a rest.

I didn’t do any normal cardio workouts over the weekend, but my knees were still acting up, in fact they were a little worse L

Session #13 was yesterday. It was an upper body workout and similar to the last couple of upper body workouts it went by fast! This one, however, worked my arms a little harder than they’ve worked for a couple of weeks; at the end my arms were jell-o and by the time I got home my arms felt so heavy. This morning I was sore, more sore than I've been for a couple of weeks.

The next session will be lower body, hopefully my knees will cooperate a little better after the days off.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Summer Cupcake Series VIII

It is week VIII of the Summer Cupcake Series, if you missed the first seven weeks you can catch up with the links below:

Week I - Tropical Cupcakes
Week II - Watermelon Cupcakes
Week III - Cupcake Cones
Week IV - Grass Cupcakes
Week V – Glazed Gluten Free Lemon Cupcakes
Week VI – Berry Pie Cupcakes from Oprah.com
Week VII – Aloha Cupcakes from Bakerella

Once again, this week’s post will highlight a great summer cupcake from one of my favorite bloggers – Annie’s Eats. Annie also LOVES cupcakes! She has tons of recipes on her blog (here’s the section dedicated to her cupcakes) and many are so perfect for summer. It was hard to choose just one to point you to today!

For many people, summer means camping and/or backyard fire pits with friends. And you can’t have a fire pit, whether it’s next to a tent or in your backyard, without s’mores.

We have some family friends that live on a large piece of property, at one end of their property is a creek and next to the creek is a fire pit. When I was growing we spent countless summer nights down there. The parents would chat by the fire and all of us kids would be roaming around, until of course it was time for s'mores and then we all gathered around the fire. Such wonderful memories!

We haven't had a fire pit by the creek in years and it's been even longer since I've been camping, but every time I think of S'mores (or S'mores Cupcakes) it takes me back.

Picture from Annie’s Eats.

Here is the URL to Annie’s S’mores Cupcakes: http://annies-eats.com/2009/11/16/smores-cupcakes/

I would love to try these out next time I find myself getting ready to go to a firepit evening.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Personal Training Session #9, #10, #11

As you’ve probably noticed I’m running a bit behind on posts lately. Sorry, it’s been very busy. I can’t believe it’s already August, anyway…

Here’s a quick recap on the last few sessions with my personal trainer:

Session #9 was a little over a week ago. It was all focused on upper body. It was a good session and it went by really quick! Before I knew it, we were done with the session. My arms were a little sore the next day, but not too bad, I think I’m really getting stronger and my muscles aren’t in so much shock after a work out.

Session #10 was focused on lower body. I did some time on the stair stepper and a variety of squats, lunges, jumping, lifting, etc. I’m having a little trouble with my knees, my right knee in particular, so that’s kind of annoying. My legs were sore the next day, but it only lasted about a day which is a huge improvement, so again I think I’m getting stronger.

I got in all my cardio homework over the weekend.

Session #11 was yesterday. I went in expecting an upper body workout like last week. The majority of the session was spent on upper body; but my trainer ‘surprised’ me by having me start with some sprints. Good news, they went okay, I didn’t think my chest was going to explode, I didn’t feel nauseous and most important, I didn’t throw up…things are getting better! After three rounds of sprints it was all about the arms and again it went by really fast and my arms felt great after.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Cupcake Series VII

It is week VII of the Summer Cupcake Series, if you missed the first six weeks you can catch up with the links below:

Week I - Tropical Cupcakes
Week II - Watermelon Cupcakes
Week III - Cupcake Cones
Week IV - Grass Cupcakes
Week V – Glazed Gluten Free Lemon Cupcakes
Week VI – Berry Pie Cupcakes from Oprah.com

Following in the direction of last week’s post, I am pointing you over to one of my absolute favorite bloggers for the cutest Hawaiian cupcakes ever! Bakerella posted these cupcakes last week and I adore them! The ‘sand’ topping, the cute little 'Aloha' signs, and most impressive of all…the leis made out of individual fondant flowers.

Picture from Bakerella.com

I’m contemplating whether I have enough time to make these for an upcoming event. But considering how busy things have been over the last couple of weeks I should probably choose to make something that doesn’t involve hundreds of mini fondant flowers, just to be on the safe side.

I LOVE Bakerella, her creations are amazing and inspiring and she introduced me to Pioneer Woman (well to PW’s site, so it was more of a virtual introduction than a ‘Hey have you met Pioneer Woman? Pioneer Woman this is Chelle.’) This wouldn’t have really been possible anyway since neither one of them has any idea who I am. Although I did meet Pioneer Woman, but she also met 500 other people that night so it’s not likely she remembers me. Maybe I’ll get to meet Bakerella at a book signing just like I met Pioneer Woman, because guess what?

Bakerella has a book coming out next month!!! Woo Hoo! I can’t wait! You can learn about her book here. She hasn’t said yet, but I hope she does a booking signing tour. If not, maybe I’ll invite both of them to the wedding…I wonder if they would come or if they’d think I was crazy and get a restraining order???

Anyway…if you haven’t been to Bakerella’s site you must visit it ASAP.

You can find more pictures, decorating instructions, and the yummy recipe all at this URL: http://www.bakerella.com/lei-time/

Enjoy!