Tuesday, June 29, 2010

TWD—No Rum-Drenched, Turbinado Crunch Vanilla Bean Cakes

I’m writing my post for TWD a week ahead of time.  It will be fun to see how this goes.  I’ve never written a post to publish at such a later date (I know, get with the times, Katrina.)  I made the vanilla cakes a good week before our move because I knew it probably wouldn’t be able to be done otherwise.  And I wanted to share some last goodies with my Reality Sisters.  I took the Dressy Chocolate Cake from last week and the Vanilla Cake over the same night.


In “my” world, chocolate wins every time.  And while last week's cake that I made with caramel and pecans was really good (I only ate a few bites of it!), hands down all my friends LOVED the vanilla cake.  It was the clear winner of the night. 

One of my favorite TWD bloggers, Wendy at Pink Stripes chose the Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cakes on page 226 in Baking From My Home To Yours.  The unique thing about this cake is that it uses vanilla bean, which is rubbed into the sugar.  That’s always fun!  I halved the recipe and only made one loaf cake and I omitted the rum syrup.  Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly.  Instead of the syrup, I sprinkled turbinado sugar over the batter before baking the cake. 


I baked the loaf cake for 45 minutes.  It sunk a bit in the middle.


I realized something, but shh, don’t tell the world, I don’t really love vanilla bean.  I say that ever so quietly, because I know everyone seems to love it and I might get flogged or something.  I don’t know what it is, it just tastes a little strange to me.  Like I said, my friends LOVED it.


I served it with some fresh raspberries and blueberries and some whipped cream.  It was just okay to me.  I’m telling you, it a chocolate thing.  I enjoyed the sugary crunch on the top.  I kind of think I also have a hard time eating something that is technically well, so fattening when I’m not thinking it’s so heavenly.  I like to save my calories for just the things I’ll love.  That’s sensible.  I was totally happy to share this cake with people who really appreciated and enjoyed it.  So thanks to Wendy for picking this cake.  Check out Wendy’s blog this week for the recipe. 


Wendy will have the recipe on her blog.  You can always head over to Tuesday's With Dorie and check out more vanilla cake!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TWD—Dressy Chocolate Cake (9 inch Round, not Loaf)

We’re moving this week.  Too many emotions about it to write, so I’m not going to.  That being said as short as possible, we’re also excited to get to our big, new house!  I packed up most of the kitchen today. Will I be able to survive not baking for a week or more?  Stay tuned and see!  In planning ahead, I already made this week’s recipe for Tuesday’s With Dorie as well as next week’s recipe!  So know that it will be really hard for me not to be able to stop by all the wonderful blogs out there and see their chocolate cakes and vanilla bean tea cakes, but I WILL be back.  I think my turn to pick is coming up in August!!!  Whatever will I pick?  Will it be chocolate, Kayte?  Or will I be tempted by something else?  You’ll have to wait and see.


This week’s recipe was for Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours.  Amy Ruth from Amy Ruth Bakes chose this recipe.  A couple things here—I started making the recipe, without reading all the way through it and realized I needed one cup of sour cream.  Oops.  I’ve been trying to use up what we have in the fridge, and we only had about 1/4 cup of sour cream left, so I used that and 3/4 cup yogurt (fat free vanilla yogurt).  I’m not sure how much that changed the recipe (some flavor, I’m sure), but I suppose that doesn’t matter because the cake was well liked and eaten up!

Now--you must know, I didn’t make a loaf cake.  No real good reason.  I baked this in a 9 inch round cake pan.  (Baked for 50 minutes.)  And I didn’t put raspberry preserves.  No fruit with chocolate here.  (Although I would like it.)  I filled the middle of the cake with---wait for it, wait----

Caramel!  Using up things we have again, I used 6 ounces of unwrapped Kraft caramels melted together with 4 ounces of heavy cream.  Gooey caramel ganache.


I also made a dark chocolate ganache with 6 ounces of chocolate and 6 ounces of heavy cream.  Heat the cream just to boiling and pour it over the chopped chocolate.  Let it sit for a minute, then slowly whisk it together until is smooth.  I then let the ganache sit for about an hour before frosting the cake with it.  It becomes the perfect consistency!  (Bad lighting photos!)


This cake was screaming to be sprinkled with chopped pecans.


Kevin and Scott had a piece (the other boys didn’t want any), then I took the cake to share with my friends for our night out.  We were watching Survivor together, but that is over for the summer, so we’ve been watching So You Think You Can Dance.  I CANNOT dance, but they sure can on that show.  Anyway, the ladies really liked the cake.  Even Kevin thought it was pretty good.  I only took a few bites.  It was a lot more fudgy than we thought it was going to be, in a good way.  But I’d still rather have the taste and texture of a brownie. 


Thanks for the chocolate, Amy Ruth.  Check out the other (real) Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cakes over at TWD.

So like I said, I may not get to visit all your blogs this week and next and if I don’t, I’m sorry.  I’ll catch up eventually.

Goodbye, Kansas.  We’re clicking our heals together and chanting, “There’s no place like home”.


Just a little sandwich fun the boys have had at lunchtime.

DSCF4071 DSCF4072

 DSCF4189 DSCF4188


Sam got his last haircut with our friend, Tes, on Saturday.  Bye, Tes, we love you and we’ll miss you!

He always likes to help her sweep up.




Saturday, June 19, 2010

One More Little Bit o’ Kansas Lovin’ Before We Go

Look what just rolled in 11 a.m., Saturday, June 19, 2010, just for us before we leave Kansas.


Out the back deck.


Out the front door.

This storm came in, we knew it was coming, but that was the darkest I’ve ever seen a storm rollin’ through here.  Funny thing is it hasn’t done much, it’s blowing through here pretty quickly.  It’s fun to watch, but always at the same time in the back of our minds, we’re ready to run and hide downstairs if we need to.  It doesn’t “scare” me like it did when we first moved here 5 years ago.    It’s just barely drizzling outside as the clouds leave.  We have really been blessed here in Lawrence as through the years we’ve seen/heard of lots of flooding, damage and tornadoes all around us, but we’ve always been spared of anything major happening.

Oop, here comes the heavy rain.  It will still probably only last a very short time.  Hope so, we’re having a hot dog roast at the park with all our friends this afternoon as a final goodbye.  Sigh.  Goodbyes.  I don’t want to talk about it.

I have lots to blog about, but this is it for now.  Busy, busy day—did lots of packing this morning, now we need to get ready for this afternoon.

Ooh, big boomin’ thunder!  Kids running to me.  Here comes another.  Let’s see if I can get this posted.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

TWD—(Raisin Swirl Bread) Cinnamon Rolls!

So I think homemade bread is wonderful.  I especially love toasted homemade bread.  Add a cinnamon swirl to it and well, let’s just say I would have eaten the whole loaf.  “Have a little restraint, Katrina,” you say.  It’s not that I would have gone hog wild and eaten it all at once.  It's more that if I were to offer the boys a slice of bread, they would turn it down.  BUT offering them a cinnamon roll—NEVER. 


I made the recipe for the bread as written, almost.  Instead of whole milk, I used fat free—I’ve used fat free in breads a lot and they always seem fine to me.  I omitted the orange zest, nutmeg and raisins.  While I would have liked those things, no one else here would have.  And the only other things I changed was after realizing (GASP!) I was almost out of all purpose flour when I started making this, I used 2 cups (240 grams) of bread flour and 1 3/4 (190 grams) cups white whole wheat flour.  Worked perfectly.  I had a nice, sticky dough.  It rose beautifully.


Made the swirl—but decided to double it.  With the cocoa, I should have left that amount the same, but added more sugar, like brown sugar, like my cinnamon rolls.  But they were still good, just not as sweet.  Rolled up the dough.


I made six rolls in a muffin tin and 7 rolls on a baking sheet.



Of course they had to be smothered in a powdered sugar cream cheese glaze!



What I really would have thought would have been fabulous in the swirl of these is walnuts, toffee bits, and a lot more sugar.  But I held back because they boys would for sure not have liked the nuts and I’m not sure about the toffee, so I made these for them.  Plain ol’ cinnamon rolls.  But good ones. 

Had to try one with some of those goodies sprinkled on top.


I took a few bites of this one and that’s all I had of the cinnamon rolls.  That’s some good will power.

Sam devoured one of the big ones.


Taylor enjoyed one, too, but in Taylor fashion, tried to run from the picture.  Got him anyway!


Scott and Parker wouldn’t let me take a picture of them.  Sigh.  Thanks for the fun pick this week,  Susan.  Susan will have the Raisin Swirl Bread recipe on her blog, Food. Baby.  Check out all the bread from TWD over on the TWD website.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Toffee Caramel Delight Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today is the last day our chosen recycling guy comes and picks up our recycling before we move.  He has been great!  I love that he pretty much collects anything.  We don’t have to separate any kind of plastics, metal or glass.   Chris takes it all.  He also takes all paper and cardboard.  I just keep the stuff in bins in the garage and every two weeks he stops by and picks up whatever I put out on the curb for him.  What I love the most is that he does this to help the environment, he’s made that his life.  He makes a lot less money than the big garbage company that will come—but they only take a few certain items.  I LOVE recycling.  I never used to even bother.  But why not?

I get so annoyed on garbage collection days when I’m out for my morning jog and I see how much stuff people are throwing away that could be recycled—which is shockingly a TON of stuff.  I’m not a big “Save the planet” activist, but I have become a firm believer in recycling—because—why not?  It doesn’t take much time and it really does feel good to know all the junk that we’d at least be throwing in a landfill is being recycled if it can.  If you live in the Lawrence, KS area, I strongly recommend you checking out Chris’ Sunflower Curbside Recycling.  If you decide you can’t afford his minimal monthly fee, you can always take your things to your local recycle center for free.

Off my high horse, the reason for this post is really to share with you a cookie I created this morning to give to Chris when he comes by for the last time to thank him for his service.  I think it’s a mighty good cookie!


Have you ever noticed on the boxes of cereal that there are usually recipes on the back or sides?  I like looking at them.  Sometimes I’m inspired to try them.  I had to laugh about the latest though.  I very seldom buy store brand items of really anything.  I’ve just found that I like name brand things better.  That said, I recently bought two boxes of store brand cereal—because I’m not the one who will be eating it and the kids don’t seem to care.  On the box of cereal is a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that have some of the cereal added.  All it says on the front of the box is “oat cereal”.  It is really a spittin’ image of Life Cereal.  Now I’ve seen on box recipes where they list one of two of the ingredients and say “store brand” chocolate chips or “store brand” butter, etc.  This recipe has every single item listed saying “store brand” I’m leaving the name of the store blank, you could insert your favorite grocery store name and get the idea.  But EVERY item, sugar, brown sugar, butter, peanut butter, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, cereal and chocolate chips ALL say you should use the “store brand”.  It cracked me up.  I hate to tell you “Store Company”, but I never buy your brand of EVERYTHING!  But you did make up a pretty good little cookie that I took off and totally adapted this one from.  So thanks.

Toffee Caramel Delight Chocolate Chip Cookies, adapted by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural)

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1  1/4 cups (150 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1  1/2 cups (75 grams) Fiber One Caramel Delights Cereal (my addition)

1/4 cup (60 grams) milk chocolate toffee bits

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Cream butter and peanut butter together until smooth in bowl of electric mixer.  Add the sugars and beat together for 2 minutes.  Scrape sides of bowl.  Beat for another minute.  Add egg and vanilla and continue beating for one more minute.  Scrape sides of bowl again. 

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat just to combine.  Stir in by hand the cereal, toffee bits and chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes (I did 9 minutes).  Let sit on baking sheets for about 5 minutes.  Remove to cooling racks.  Makes about 3 dozen. 


I saw this Fiber One cereal in the store a few weeks ago and decided to try it out.  It is super sweet.  I would never guess that it’s a fiber filled cereal!  I would not be able to just have a bowl of it for breakfast.  I like munching on a handful here and there.  But thought they’d be really good thrown in a cookie.  And it IS really good!  This Fiber One cereal has 9 grams of fiber per one cup serving.  It tastes like a sweetened, caramel-y version of a graham cereal.  Hmmm?  Maybe I’ll play around with a S’mores/crispy kind of bar.


Throw some cereal in your next cookie! ;)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream


All over this property where we’re temporarily living is mint—a lot of mint.  You may know, if you plant mint, it takes over and grows everywhere.  One day a few weeks ago, Taylor picked a bunch of it and wanted me to make something with it.  He wanted to just put some of it in water and have mint water, which does not sound good to me.  Ice cream.  That sounds good!  I played around with some ingredient ideas.  I knew I didn’t want to make the ice cream with an egg custard.  Mostly because I feel too guilty eating full fat ice cream and wanted to lighten it up a bit.  The ice cream has a wonderful fresh taste.  I love it.  It’s not Kevin’s favorite (what is?).  It tastes nice and earthy and real.  Add that chocolate and it’s just wonderful.

I’ve now made the ice cream twice.  Just had to make sure it really is good, you know. ;)  I made it with a combination of whole milk, half and half and cream, but you could use any three cups of whichever you’d like.  Because I purposely wanted to make it lighter (it’s still not the lightest kind of ice cream!), it does have just a slight iciness to it, but it’s still plenty creamy and a perfect end to an evening.  Do you have mint by the bushels around you?  If so, you’ve got to try this great summer treat!

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

1 cup whole milk

1 cup mint leaves (about 1/2 ounce), or to your liking, chopped

3/4 cup granulated sugar

pinch of alt

1 cup half and half

1 cup heavy cream

green food coloring, optional

2 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Heat milk in saucepan on stove over medium heat with the sugar, salt and mint leaves added.  When it is hot, but not boiling, remove from heat and let mint seep in the warmed milk for about 45 minutes.  Add the half and half and cream.  Strain the mint leaves from the milk and press it against the strainer to release as much flavor as you can.  Add the food coloring if desired.  I used about seven drops.  You can then chill the mixture in the refrigerator or churn it according to the manufacturer instructions of your ice cream maker immediately (I have not taken the time to chill it—can’t wait that long. ;)  While the ice cream is churning, about 30 minutes, melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl.  Once the ice cream is about done, slowly drizzle the melted chocolate in to the churning ice cream.  Enjoy as soft serve immediately or freeze for a few hours in an airtight container.


I don’t know why, but it wasn’t until after I came up with this that I realized David Lebovitz probably has a mint chip ice cream in his book, The Perfect Scoop, which is my ice cream “bible”.  I looked in the book and sure enough, there was his version of fresh mint ice cream.  I can’t believe I hadn’t thought to look in it.  But that said, his IS made with lots of egg yolks, so while I’m sure it’s as delicious as all his other ice creams, I like this version that I made.  Just because I’m nice (jk), I’ve got a link for you to David’s recipe that he just happened to post on his blog a couple weeks ago.  Great minds, that’s what I say.  I did get the idea for the melted, drizzled chocolate from his book when I recently made his Gianduja Gelato.  (Heavenly ice cream with hazelnuts!)  When you do chocolate that way, it is called stracciatella.  I like it much better than biting in to hardened chocolate chips in ice cream.  I suppose mini chips would be okay.

Enjoy some ice cream this summertime!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

TWD—Tender Shortcakes


Cathy from The Tortefeasor chose this week’s Tuesday’s With Dorie recipe.  She is one flippin’ funny gal whose blog I love checking out each week.  Cathy chose Dorie’s Tender Shortcakes on pages 423-424 in Baking From My Home to Yours.  Truthfully, I was thinking about skipping this one.  We’ve made biscuits and scones and I just thought the shortcakes would be about the same.  And well, they were.  But I decided to make 1/4 of the recipe because we had lots of berries and fruit and I thought it would be fun to let the boys have at it for a yummy treat.

With the quartered recipe, I made 8 small round shortcakes.  I think they’re about 1 1/2 inches round.  I decided to cut the shortcakes instead of go rustic.


The eighth one was ugly and didn’t fit in the picture. ;)

I bought some great little sour cherries from the farmers’ market on Saturday (the boys love cherries).  I thought they would be yummy to try with the shortcakes.


Kind of a pain to pit these little guys, but it was worth it.  All I did was add a little sugar to them and let them sit for a while.   And we had some macerated strawberries, some blackberries and blueberries as well.

The boys decided what they wanted.


Scott wanted a little of everything.


Parker went sans whipped cream.  (Okay, I’ll admit, we used up some Cool Whip tonight.)


Taylor carefully chose how he did his and did it all himself.

And I forgot to photograph Sam’s, all he had was a plateful of Cool Whip!

I made this one---


The chocolate shavings are just for you, Kayte! ;) 

Kevin ate the one in the top picture.  He doesn’t care for biscuits or scones or shortcake, but he ate it just to “play along”.   He said he liked it, but that he’d rather have all the berries and cream with angel food cake or something like that.  To each his own.  The shortcakes themselves were actually really good, nice taste of butter and slightly sweet and super simple to make.  I whipped these up then had to leave for a bit, so I stuck them in the freezer and baked them when I got home.  Twelve minutes for these little cakes in the oven and they were perfect.

Then when everyone was finished and I was cleaning up, I had another idea to try with one of the remaining shortcakes.  Try to guess.  If you know me, you’ll have an idea.


Hello, sweet little banana Nutella shortcake!  Took a little bite and saved the rest.  GOOD!!!  And that’s the end of all the shortcaked-ness here this week.  Go ahead, check out all the other TWD bloggers and get the recipe on Cathy’s blog, too!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Scott’s Birthday Party Fun

Scott had an awesome birthday (sleepover) party last night.  Two of his friends from school came.  (A third was out of town.)  These guys arrived to pizza ready-to-eat.  For some reason, they got to thinking it was fun to try to eat it with no hands.




Scott and Grant





“Critter” (Christopher)—I’d say he was the instigator.  Silly boys—they had fun though.  Then they headed downstairs to watch movies, play games and EAT CANDY and junk.

Love the happy smile on Scott’s face in this next one.


Scott did so well letting Parker, Taylor and Sam be with the guys.  Parker was eating it up!


After lots of goofing off, eating and watching one movie, the guys came up for air and ice cream sundaes.




The boys were STUFFED and could barely get some of their ice cream down.  Scott wanted the little brothers to go to bed after that, which was fine because it was almost 10 o’clock and he had not complained about their being in the middle of it all even one time.  Thanks for being a good sport, Scott.

I didn’t hear the boys anymore that evening when I went to bed at 11:30 p.m., so they must have conked out or gone into a food induced coma.  ;)

Scott chose to have French toast for breakfast.  They ate up and played downstairs (and I’m sure ate more candy) for a while longer before his friends went home.



That was the best party.  Besides making French toast and getting out all the fixin’s for ice cream sundaes, it seemed like we didn’t really have to do much.  I think Scott loved it and really had fun with his friends.

Happy Being 12, Scott!