Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Cooking Group Tonight

I have another cooking group meeting tonight. I'm the lucky one who gets to host it tonight. The theme is Southern cooking. We originally wanted to do Cajun but thought we should broaden it. I originaly volunteered to make beignets. They are similar to a donut and are very popular in New Orleans. I couldn't get them to work. I think two factors contributed to this: 1. I've never had a beignet so wasn't sure what they should look like. 2. I'm terrible at using yeast. I think my yeast didn't activate. Because I know nothing about yeast I wasn't aware of this before I continued with my recipe.

What I did come up with was tasty just not pretty. It tasted like a deep fat fried sugar cookie dusted in powdered sugar. Not really what I was going for but Dave and I had no problem finishing the batch throughout the week.

So I decided to make Pralines. This was no cake walk either. I ruined my first two batches. I think the author of the recipe is from the south where it is a lot more humid. I had to adapt the cooking time for our dryer climate.

I'm a little anxious for the party tonight. I tried to limit it to 14 people. I think the final count is 17. Yikes. I hope everyone can fit comfortably in my little house.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pesky Purple Flower

I need your help. I planted sod in our backyard last year and growing through our new grass are these little purple flowers. The roots are little bulbs and the stems are really stretchy when I try to pick them. I have no idea what these are called. I don't know how to get rid of them and can't search for clues since I don't know the name. I did a google search and found this picture. They called them purple bell weeds. I don't think that is an official name. Please let me know if you've seen the pesky little flowers before and know what they are. For a weed they are pretty cute. I guess it could be worse.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Crazy Cat Lady

I can admit that I'm one of those crazy cat people. Dave and I have been married for 5 years and haven't had any children but we do have a cat that I treat like my baby. Sad, I know.

Every spring Katie gets so excited to hunt for birds and mice. So I'm used to the surprises she leaves on my doorstep. I wasn't prepared for what I saw last Saturday. I let her out on Saturday morning. Within an hour I went outside to take out the trash and there was Katie sitting on the porch proudly with a gift for her favorite human. She brought me a mouse. I was very disapointed, however, because it came with a mouse trap. What a cheat. My beloved cat taking the credit for someone elses kill. Where did I go wrong?
This is my favorite picture on Katie and Dave. Dave's swears he hates Katie but I have proof that it's all an act.

Here's Katie getting into whatever I'm working on, as usual.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Going Green

I've been thinking a lot lately about what I can do to create less waste. I know this is small, but I want to buy some reusable grocery bags. I think these are super cute. They roll up into a little bag, so I can keep them with me wherever I go. I figure with all the grocery shopping I do I probably use over 300 plastic bags a year. What a waste.

I just bought these with this coupon code: DCDELIGHT and saved 30%. Not bad.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Car Cake

Last year when my friend Natalie's son turned one I made the him the dragon cake I blogged about in an earlier post. Little Chaseton is now 2. He loves Cars, so this is what I came up with for his birthday.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The waterfall is running

When we moved into our house 3 years ago our backyard was a disaster. There was over 2 tons of rocks cemented into little circular shrines. It was so overgrown that we had no idea what was back there.

After breaking up the cement and piling up the rocks we decided to build a waterfall. My dad was the mastermind behind the project. After three trips from Idaho we had a working waterfall. Dave and I took care of the sprinklers, grass and plants. So this is the final result. It feels so good to have it done.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

MS 150 Bike Ride

It's time to get in shape for this year's MS 150 Bike Ride. This will be my third year riding the 150 mile course in Logan, UT. Well, the first year I rode 150 miles. Last year I wimped out and only rode 120 miles.
This picture was from the second day coming down the 18 mile canyon I barely made it up. The smile is for the photograph only. I had more of a wince on my face at this point.

The second year I had the support of my brother Russ and sister-in-law Sarah. I'm so glad they are riding with me again this year even though I'll slow them down.

This is a great event that raises money for Multiple Sclerosis. I've known a few people who have been unfortunate to have this disease and it's insane how much it can effect their lives. Hopefully by raising money for research this will not be a disease I have to worry about for my children.

I'd like to raise $200 this year and would love any support I can get. I hate to ask for donations through my blog, but I really believe in this cause. You can donate through MS' website on my behalf.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fish Cakes

I needed to make two cakes this weekend. One for my sister-in-law Debbie and one for my friend Jessica. I thought it would save time to make them the same theme. This is what I came up with.

My in-laws gave me an airbrush for Christmas. This is the first time I used it. Very messy but effective. I mixed green and blue to get the ocean effect. I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of this little gadget. I think it adds something special to the cake.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fields of Flowers Cake

This is my go-to cake. If I need to make something cute but don't have much time this is usually what I make. Most people don't like the taste of fondant. This cake is nice because it has normal chocolate frosting with fondant details that can easily be removed. The flowers and leaves were made with cookie cutters.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Quantum Leap

I know, I know, I'm a dork. I found a station that is playing reruns of Quantum Leap. I remember mom and Russ staying up late on school nights watching this show in the late 80's. I vaguely remembered the plot and thought I'd give this drama another shot. Dave and I tivo'd the pilot episode and watched it last night. Of course it was 80's cheesy but I think I can get into it. In case you don't remember this gem, I'll give you the synopsis. Sam is part of a time traveling experiment that went awry. He leaps from one situational to the next only being able to move on when he fixes a problem in history. We see him as Sam but everyone around him sees him as the person whose shoes he is filling. I remember it gets a little strange when he is a woman.

If you have Comcast, Quantum Leap is playing on channel 16 (Ion television) at 8:00. Right after Mama's Family (chuckle chuckle).

Monday, April 7, 2008


My brother Kirt turned 25 this weekend. He's a microbiologist so I thought it would be fitting to make him a cake that looked like microbes. The germy assortment included the flu, strep, cold, mono and a stomach bug. Strangely, no on ate any of my germs. I offered the rhino virus to every visitor that I had this weekend but I had no takers. Dave kept threatening to get out the Lysol to disinfect my cakes.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Favorite Cake Books

Melinda asked for a list of my favorite cake books. I thought I'd put it on my blog in case anyone else is interested.

Two-Hour Party Cakes has some super cute ideas. I don't know anyone who can make one of these cakes in two hours. I guess it's possible if you don't have to bake the cake yourself.

50 Easy Party Cakes is also a lot of fun.

The Home Guide to Cake Decorating has a good mix of traditional fondant cakes and cutesy cakes.

Happy Birthday Nick

We celebrated Nick's birthday last night. We took him to Joe Morley's, our favorite barbecue restaurant. Then we went back to our house where we enjoyed a rock band tour and these fun little chocolate cakes filled with custard. I used cute pans with a little indentation for filling. Using the custard recipe below and a dark chocolate cake mix, these fun cakes were pretty simple to make.

2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
4 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1 envelope, plus 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup water
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To make the custard filling: First place the sugar and cornstarch in a small to medium pan. In a bowl, mix the egg yolks and milk together. Whisk them into the sugar and starch mixture in the pan. Cook this over low heat and gradually increase to a medium heat bringing the mixture to a boil. The mixture will bubble slowly. Whisk this bubbling mixture for 3 to 4 minutes and remove from heat.

Soak the gelatin in a 1/4 cup of warm water for 5 minutes. Add gelatin mixture to hot custard and whisk. Set aside to cool in a clean bowl. Cover with plastic to keep mixture from crusting and refrigerate until cool.

After mixture has cooled, whip cream, sugar, and vanilla to medium peaks. Fold whipped cream into cooled custard. Make sure to whisk custard to creamy stage before gradually folding in whipping cream. Refrigerate until ready to fill the little cakes.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Rainbow Trout

I made this trout cake for the CEO of my company last year. I hand painted all of the detail on this fish. I wish I had my airbrush when I made this cake.

I would have rather made this for my dad, but I don't get a chance to make cakes for my family as much as I would like. Living in a different state than the rest of my family is a challenge sometimes. It's been nice having my brother Kirt live in Salt Lake for the last year. I'll definitely miss him when he goes to medical school in Florida.