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Saturday, April 30, 2011

RIESLING CITRUS CAKE

Sliced strawberries and fresh blackberries topped this delicious cake.
Honeyed yogurt served on the side...in a wine glass!

I found very few recipes for cakes being soaked with a Riesling Syrup in my online search...and I wanted one - I just knew it sounded good.  I've mixed up a couple of ingredients from the few recipes I found, but the primary recipe is one I found on a Fisher & Paykel blog.  It sounded delectable.  Their photography is so pretty that their recipe looks melt-in-your mouth delicious.  It also appears to be Gluten Free for those who are looking for sweets made GF.  This cake reminds me, in texture, of a British "pudding" so it is fitting that I am watching the DVR'd Royal Wedding as I baked it.

I had a bottle of flipflop Riesling Wine that I just opened and I wanted to use it in a recipe or two...so today I made this wonderful Springtime cake.  A sip for me, a sip for the cake... Cheerio!

RIESLING CITRUS CAKE
Primarily Adapted from Fisher&Paykel "Our Kitchen"

Ingredients:

Syrup:
1/2 cup flipflop Riesling wine
Juice of 2 Oranges **
1 Cinnamon Stick
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/3 cup white sugar
The syrup ingredients
(the oranges were zested before squeezing and obviously the nutmeg was grated!)
Method:
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to simmer - cooking for 20 minutes - until syrupy.
Straining the syrup over a pourable measuring cup worked perfectly
Strain into small bowl or measuring cup - set aside to cool - refrigerate while cake is baking.
Syrup chilling - always pour cold syrup on hot cake OR
hot syrup on cold cake for best absorption

Cake:
4 large eggs - room temperature
1 cup brown sugar - firmly packed
Zest of 2 oranges** (zest the oranges before juicing for syrup - be sure not to get any of the white pith)
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup Canola or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup flipflop Riesling wine
3/4 cup ground cornmeal flour (I ran cornmeal through the food processor to make it more flour-like)
1 teaspoon baking powder (use aluminum-free if you can find it)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups ground almond meal

Method:

Preheat oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit
Spray a 9 inch springform pan with baking spray or grease pan with shortening
(I always place foil around the outside of my springform pans when I bake with them on the off chance they leak.  It would have also been easier had I put a round of greased parchment paper in the bottom of the springform pan)

Beat eggs and sugar together until well-incorporated.
Zest of two oranges and one lemon
Add lemon and orange zest ...mix until well-blended.
Gradually add in oil and wine until fully incorporated.
The wet ingredients fully incorporated
In separate bowl, whisk together cornmeal flour, baking powder, cardamom, and ground almond meal. 
The dry ingredients whisked together
Add wet to dry ingredients.  Don't over-blend.  Very wet batter.
Pour into prepared springform pan and place pan in oven.
A very loose batter - ready to go into oven
Bake for 50 minutes.  Remove pan to cooling rack
Cooling on rack
Allow to cool for 5 minutes before releasing pan and placing cake on serving plate.

(OK - I messed up - I DID carefully run a sharp knife around the edge to release the cake from the edge of the springform pan - it was obviously attached.  Then I turned it upside down and then back up onto the serving plate...and part of the top stuck.  All that sticky looking top in the middle was moist <and delicious I might add since I scraped it off the plate and ate it>.  I don't know if it needed more minutes of cooking...didn't seem to be underdone...I guess I could have left it on the bottom of the springform pan OR used a cake spatula - which I do have - to slide between the bottom of the cake and the springform pan bottom and transfer it without flipping it.  It DID make a difference - this breach of the lightly formed crust.  The center absorbed the syrup much more quickly and, as a result, was bordering on soggy.  Refrigeration helped with that.)

Pour cold syrup over hot cake, slowly, allowing to absorb into cake and then pouring more.  I was doubtful that it would absorb all that syrup (1 cup) but it did!  When I make it next time, though, I'm going to try maybe half as much syrup and see how that impacts the crumb.  I'd like it just a wee bit less moist.
Small amount of top damage will be covered by fruit - so no problem...
and you can see that I poured all syrup on and it was totally absorbed!  However,
see consistency note above.  Try not to damage the light crust that forms on top.

Serve with fresh berries and whipped sweet cream or honeyed yogurt if desired.

Yum!

HONEYED YOGURT

Mix 1 cup Greek Yogurt with 2 tablespoons honey, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
Whisk together and serve a dollop on the plate next to the cake.

WHIPPED SWEET CREAM

Mix 1 cup heavy whipping cream with 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste.  Begin whisking or beating with whip attachment in a stand mixer.  When cream begins to thicken sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar over cream and continue beating until firm...don't go too far or you'll have butter!

The confectioner's sugar makes for a stiff whipped cream which holds its shape nicely when piped on the plate or just spooned on in a dollop!

This cake is absolutely delicious.  I don't know what I'm going to do (eat it all myself?) since the teen doesn't care for citrus.  Maybe he'll like it because it's topped with his two favorite berries...we'll see!

My slice was topped with honeyed yogurt - it was absolutely awesome!

BON APPETIT, Y'ALL!!!

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Friday, April 29, 2011

SWEDISH MEATBALLS WITH NOODLES

Swedish Meatballs over noodles...in my Ikea bowl!
I mentioned a while back that the teen had selected a few items from his Emeril Lagasse Cookbook that he wanted to try.  He's so tired from TAKS testing all day that he's not up to joining me in the kitchen but he does want to have the Swedish Meatballs for dinner.  I love Swedish Meatballs...but admit to being worried that they have some spices he might not enjoy.  They are very minuscule so I hope he doesn't give it the thumbs down when he digs in.  Meatballs are not that big of a deal to make - I don't know why we don't make them more frequently!  When I make spaghetti - I generally just make a meat sauce - no meatballs.  I guess it's the ease of dumping the meat in the pan instead of hand-rolling.

I'm getting the prep work done while the teen is taking a "rest".  He said his hand was cramping and he tested ALL DAY (said in a whiny voice).  I suggested a snack and to go get out of the school clothes and put his feet up.  The only good thing about this week is no homework.  He can rest his brain tonight.  Today was math...Thursday science...Friday is social studies.  They did Language Arts last month.  These are the mandatory graduation tests..."exit exams", or as they would say in Harry Potter world, "7th Year NEWT exams"!

You'll be likely reading this on Friday and the ordeal will be almost over.

So, here goes the recipe:

SWEDISH MEATBALLS
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse's There's a Chef in My World

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups finely chopped red onion
4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I ended up using an extra tablespoon of butter when frying the meatballs...maybe it's the Southern girl in me that needed more "buttah")
3/4 pound ground chuck
3/4 pound ground pork
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon plus 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg - (OOPs I used 1/4 teaspoon)
1 cup plain dried bread crumbs (I processed some whole wheat bread instead - 2 slices)
1/2 cup whole milk (I just had 2% milk so I used 1/4 cup half and half and 1/4 cup 2% milk)
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
28 ounces reduced-sodium beef broth
1/4 cup red currant jelly (I substituted red plum jam as I had no currant jelly)

I will say right here - this recipe is soooo much easier if you have mis en place. 
Being able to just dump in pre-measured ingredients made life so much easier
since this was the first time I'd made this!

METHOD:

1.  In a medium skillet over medium high heat, saute 1 cup of the onion in 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter until soft and light golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes.

The cup of red onion being sauted...do it before you do anything else
so it can cool down before adding to meat mixture
Set aside to cool, then add the onion to a medium mixing bowl along with the ground chuck, ground pork, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper, the allspice, and the nutmeg.

All the ingredients...get ready to "squish"

2.  In a small mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the milk and 1/4 cup of the cream and allow to sit until the bread crumbs are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the bread-crumb mixture and the beaten egg to the meat mixture and, using clean hands, mix well to thoroughly combine.  This is a very wet mixture!

Quite a wet mixture - wet your palms for easy rolling

3.  Using a tablespoon measure (I used a medium cookie dough scoop), scoop the meat mixture into meatball portions.  (I placed them all on a tray).Using lightly damp clean hands, roll the meatballs until they are smooth and round.  Transfer to a large plate or baking dish while you form the remaining meatballs. (I needed to regularly re-dampen my palms to get a smooth - not sticky - meatball.  Maybe have a small bowl of water at the ready)

I got 34 meatballs from this mixture
4.  In a medium skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the remaining butter until foamy (over medium heat - don't want to burn the butter - and by the way - I added an extra 1/2 tablespoon here and after the 2nd addition of meatballs - totalling 1 tablespoon more than called for in the recipe).  Add one-third of the meatballs and cook, turning frequently, until the meatballs are browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes total.  (Remember you are cooking them through - they will cook in the sauce for an hour - just get them firmed up and browned on all sides) 

Handle gently - these are a bit delicate - control the temperature
and pay attention to the time...it's about perfect!
Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked meatballs to a Dutch oven or large heavy saucepan and repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding another 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the skillet before each batch.

(OK - this is where I used a different method - I just put the browned meatballs on a baking sheet and made the sauce in the pan I fried the meatballs in and then added the meatballs to the pan with the sauce...I didn't see needing to dirty another pan - I figure people writing these recipes aren't thinking about washin' dishes!  Also, it's a cookbook for children and I'm sure the intent is not to re-handle the meatballs more than necessary as a kid might crumble them in transfer.)

The lightly browned meatballs resting before being added to the sauce

5.  Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 1/2 cup onion to the skillet and cook until the onion is soft, about 4 minutes. 

Using the same pan gets you all those lovely drippings and the pan fond.
A little more butter and start with the onions!
Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. (You are making a roux here - keep that flour moving!) 

Add the flour and stir constantly...makes a great roux
Whisk in the beef broth little by little and cook until the sauce is smooth and thick, about 4 minutes (you must bring the sauce to a boil or it won't thicken - it took me 8 minutes to get to a moderate thickness...I knew it would have a long cooking time so didn't want to over thicken up front).  Transfer the sauce to the Dutch oven or large saucepan and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, a pinch of black pepper, the remaining heavy cream, and the jelly.  Be careful when stirring not to break up the meatballs. (This is where I added the meatballs - after everything was stirred together - don't forget to pour in any juices from the meatballs if you do it this way!)

The sauce is ready to thicken...bring to a boil or it won't thicken!
6.  Bring the contents of the Dutch oven or large saucepan to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat so that the sauce simmers.  Cook uncovered (stirring every so often) for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the meatballs are very tender and the sauce is thick and flavorful.

About halfway through the simmer!  Sauce is thickening and
you can see the meatballs...it's almost there!

I served over Amish Egg Noodles.  I have also eaten them over rice and over linguine.  I like 'em all those ways!

This was really good.  It was enough that we have an entire 2nd meal ready to go in the FoodSaver sealed bag!  The best part was the teen saying "wow, Mom, that's GOOD!" when I served him this bowl.  That makes ME do the happy dance :-)

The teen's bowl - and he was a happy camper!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

MY NEW BAKING TOOL - Flex Edge Beater!

I am so in love with my newest baking tool.  I have been watching for the KitchenAid brand of this new tool for the stand mixer...a flex edge beater that scrapes the bowl while mixing.  What a DIFFERENCE this makes with batters!  I rarely need to scrape anything down in the bowl any more.  It's awesome!

I saw a couple of other styles - different brands - but I really wanted the KitchenAid brand product...and it was well worth waiting for the right tool.  It costs under $30 and it works like a champ.  Beating butter and sugar...never scraped down once and nothing stuck down in the middle of the bowl...I used it to make royal icing after beginning with the whisk...wow, did it really do the job quickly.  Used it for sugar cookie dough - it worked beautifully.  I'm so impressed because I'm used to scraping several times.

Butter and sugar being creamed - worked great!

The one thing to watch out for is that it does throw the ingredients up higher in the bowl...so I don't know what it would be like for a double recipe.  Be careful if you have a very liquidy ingredient...start off slow.  I made a double recipe of royal icing and it did fine...but that is not a large volume deal.  Double cookie dough?  I don't know...but I'll be trying it!

This whips the batter up higher on the bowl sides as you can see

I have wanted one of these for a while...but the reviews for the "other brands" that worked with a KitchenAid stand mixer all said the rubber pieces fell off or the plastic cracked.  This little product is, like all of the KitchenAid beaters, made of coated metal and is dishwasher safe.  I haven't put mine in the dishwasher yet.  All the reviews say that they do though.  I haven't found a bad review yet!  I have an Artisan tilt-head mixer...it works great on this workhorse mixer!

If you don't have one yet, it is a wonderful addition to your kitchen tool arsenal.

My next purchase is going to be the KitchenAid glass bowl.  I like being able to see through the bowl to how well blended my ingredients are.  Can't wait!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!StumbleUpon

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

CHOCOLATE CHIP MARBLE BUNDT CAKE

I have been participating in a few linky parties lately and I have found some awesome looking treats to try!  The first one is from Meghan at Cupcakes with Sprinkles Blog.  She got it from another blog...so the circle continues. 

This is the cake my son selected from several blogs I showed him...although it was a difficult decision for him.  Here in Texas, we have TAKS standardized testing for the next 3 days...I thought this would be a great dessert to kick off the testing days.  Chocolate relieves stress...I'm a firm believer!

CHOCOLATE CHIP MARBLE BUNDT CAKE
Adapted from Recipe on Cupcakes With Sprinkles Blog

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups Sugar, divided
½ cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
¼ cup Light Corn Syrup
½ cup warm water
2 ½ teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract, divided
2 2/3 cups Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoon fine grain Sea Salt
1 cup Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
4 Large Eggs, at room temperature
1 cup Milk, at room temperature (I used 2% milk)
1 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips (I used Ghirardelli)

Method:

·    In a small saucepan, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sugar, cocoa powder and corn syrup with a 1/2 cup hot water. Bring to a simmer, stir occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.  Set aside.

The chocolate "syrup" after cooking - ready to cool
·         Place rack in the lower third of the oven, then preheat to 350 degrees.
·         Butter and flour a 12-cup bundt-shaped pan.
·         In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

The dry goods - whisked together
·     In the bowl of a stand mixer cream the butter with the rest of the sugar until light and fluffy, approximately two minutes.

Butter and Sugar after 2 minutes of beating
·    Beat in eggs one at a time until completely incorporated. Scrape the bottom and the sides of the bowl.
·    Beat in the remaining vanilla.

Eggs and Vanilla beaten into batter
·    Reduce the mixer speed to low, and beat one third of the flour mixture just until just incorporated.
·    Beat in half the milk.
·    Beat in another third of the flour, then the rest of the milk, and finally with the remaining flour until the batter is smooth.

A lovely batter!
·    Stop the mixer and gently mix in the chocolate chips. (Note - next time I make this I will toss the chocolate chips in some flour before adding to insure they stay suspended in the batter)
·    Scoop a third of the batter into a medium bowl,  whisk in the chocolate syrup mixture and set aside.
·    Pour another third of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula (I'd do slightly less if you have a slant sided bundt pan - you'll need enough left to cover the wider bottom of the cake).
·    Pour the chocolate batter into the pan and spread evenly over the first layer.
·    Finish by pouring the remaining batter over the top. (Completely cover the chocolate - or the chocolate gets quite hard if not sealed in with by the vanilla)
·    Lightly swirl down through all three layers of the batters with a knife to give a marbling effect...a figure-8 motion works well.

Pretty - but more of a chocolate middle than I would have liked plus the chocolate
that lined the edge because I didn't get it covered became quite hard.
·         Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 60-70 minutes.   If you have a dark  bundt pan you might want to check after 50 minutes as it bakes faster.
·         Cool the cake on a wire rack.

If you could only smell my house - it is a very fragrant cake! 
Can't wait to slice it!!!
·         Invert the cooled cake onto a serving platter.


Oh my - yummy, yummy!  I decided to add a drizzle glaze that was not in the original recipe...mostly because a small piece of cake stuck to the pan so it needs a little "make up" ...and several of the chocolate chips stuck to the pan - although I carefully lifted them off and returned them to their spots.  Very simple glaze I frequently use for bundt cakes with the added attraction of using my new vanilla bean paste!

VANILLA BEAN DRIZZLE

Ingredients:

1 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream (or more until it is to a thick drizzling consistency)
1 tablespoon butter, melted in microwave
1/2 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Method:

Whisk ingredients until smooth OR place in small bowl of food processor and pulse until smooth. Scrape down sides frequently if using food processor.

A thick glaze worked great on this cake
Drizzle over top of bundt cake, using a spoon, after it has completely cooled, allowing it to drip down sides.
Glazed and dotted with melted chocolate swirls

I then melted about 2 Tbsp of milk chocolate in the microwave and dotted chocolate across the top and drew a toothpick through the dots to make the chocolate swirls.

The chocolate syrup and the chocolate chips make for an intensely chocolate tasting cake.  I might try it without the chocolate chips...The vanilla portion of the cake was completely over-powered by the chocolate taste (not that THAT'S a bad thing!)...just would have liked a bit more balance.

The sample piece - yummy!

Will definitely make this recipe again.  It's a pretty cake, and both of the "sample pieces" were devoured by me and my chief tester (the teen).  Delicious!
A peek at the inside of the cake

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!






 

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bulk Buying Continues to Rock!

My regular readers know I was in Austin these past few days...and since I missed my opportunity to shop Central Market during my February trip, I had a little list I'd been saving up.

I have been wanting to make Macarons...the French meringue sandwich cookies using almond flour for some time now.  I went to our local stores and did find it at one location...a very small package for TWELVE FREAKING DOLLARS!

Uh, I don't think so!  I bought some almonds...I have a food processor...and knew I could grind my own.  It's been so horribly humid down here I've been afraid to make them...so I still have the almonds waiting.  So, when I went to Central Market in South Austin (my favorite store)  I was so happy to find Almond "Meal" aka ground almonds for $6.99/pound.  I got 1/3 pound and it only cost $2.52!  Happy days!

Then I got some Turbinado Sugar...bulk $1.49/pound.  Awesome.
10 whole nutmegs for $1.36. 
A quarter pound of sesame seeds for under a dollar....and
.15 pound of poppy seeds for $1.35 (that's a goodly amount of those tiny seeds!). 
Also got some beautiful pecan halves...not that cheap, but they were local to South/Central Texas, and I like that.  They taste fabulous (I have nibbled on a small handful).  Got more of the bulk Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate chunks I love for baking.  Oh, yes...and organic roasted soy nuts for munching.  Yum!

I was nearly dancing in the aisles :-)

Next I was searching for some pure vanilla extract and found, instead (well, in addition to), a jar of Pure Vanilla Bean Paste...which I'd been searching for since I started seeing it in recipes.

I was nearly exhausted from my excitement in the bulk section - and seeing Source Code at the theater around the corner at the Westgate Theater.  My hubby and I agreed...the movie really kept you engrossed...I didn't nod off once (I'm prone to nodding off in a theater when they lose my attention).  We both give it two thumbs up.  It's kind of freaky premise, but it is a good movie.  I also had an awesome lunch in the Central Market Cafe...their Asian Chicken Char Sui Salad is a great favorite of mine.

We attempted to go to Costco...because I like Kirkland's Vanilla...but there was not a parking place to be found!!!  We went to the Sam's Club instead.  Tone's 100% pure Vanilla extract with no corn syrup was under $7 for 16 ounces...it smells pretty good...hope it is a "good buy".  My sister likes this brand and I saw lots of the Tone branded spices in her cupboards.  They used to own a bakery...they should know.  Hope it's good because I am going broke buying vanilla down here in little bottles!!!

OK, well, that's that for the Austin food shopping excursion.

At the risk of being repetitious...buy bulk when you can...but only if it is a large volume turnover bulk seller.  A wonderful way to have low-cost fresh spices, flours, nuts, and sugars that you pay big bucks for when pre-packaged.

Now, I'm off to find recipes for these fun products!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!StumbleUpon

Monday, April 25, 2011

OLD-FASHIONED VINEGAR ROLLS

My sister's partner got up Easter morning and made these delicious and unusual cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  She said her momma used to make them when she was a little girl up in Oklahoma (I love her even if she is an Okie).  She knew I liked sweet and tart combinations so she wanted to make them for me since she'd recently found the recipe.  (She'd already gotten up and made the teen blueberry muffins...my sister-in-law is a work horse!)  She wasn't wrong in thinking I'd like these.  They are delicious...but different!.  She warned me of two things:

1.  Don't inhale before you bite into one (vinegar fumes)
2.  Follow with a big glass of cold milk

Again, right on target!  The taste of vinegar is not strong...the sugar and cinnamon really cut it, but the fumes are certainly there.  At first I thought she was talking about a yeast dinner roll (savory, not sweet)...but, it's a sweet roll... It's an oddly delectable mixture!

She printed off the recipe from food.com.  Someone posted it in 2007 and said "This was an answer to a recipe request in the Star-Telegram sometime in the early 90's.  The recipe was in the Parade Magazine published in 1961. <where Lana bets her Mom got it>  The article said the recipe dated from 1880.  I thought some of you might be collectors of old historic recipes."

So, here's the recipe as she prepared it:

OLD-FASHIONED VINEGAR ROLLS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
4 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided

METHOD:

1.  Combine vinegar, water, 1 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon.  Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves.  Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
2.  Meanwhile, mix and sift flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in shortening, stir in milk with fork until soft dough forms.
3.  Roll out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.  Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over surface of rectangle.  Dot with 2 tablespoons butter.
4.  Roll up, starting at longer side.  Cut crosswise into slices 1 1/4 inches thick. (About 8 rolls)
5.  Place slices, cut side up, close together in deep baking dish.  Dot with remaining butter.
6.  Pour hot vinegar mixture over all.  Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.  Serve hot with heavy cream (we just had a glass of cold milk because that's the way Lana remembered it).

When I served myself a roll I decided to flip it upside down...kind of like an upside down muffin...because all the good juice was soaked into the bottom.  Then I spooned some more mixture over the roll from the pan.  Lana came in right about then and said that's how she did it too.  Great minds :-)

I love a new recipe that is really unusual.  If you like sweet/tart things...you will love this and should give it a try!


Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!StumbleUpon

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Family Thang...

We had to take a fast trip to Austin because of a death in the family.  Our family is so huge we are now only seeing the entire gang when there's a funeral or a wedding.  Isn't that sad?  But, out of sadness, comes a lot of joy when we sit and have a meal.  The voices are loud as all the people try to get a word in edgewise.  My sisters and their children and my Mom (those who could attend) totalled over 20...and if everyone had been there it would have been over 30!  One of my nephews and his fiance had driven from Oklahoma in the midst of his law school finals and we'd driven 400 miles from the coast, another from San Antonio.  People we don't get to see very often made great efforts to be present to honor my late brother-in-law! 

Kudos to Margarita's in Marble Falls for managing our impromptu group.  They set up their back room and kept the chips, salsa, and drinks rolling...getting pitchers of tea, water, and Coke onto the tables (I think they finally realized they just needed to give us pitchers or they'd need someone constantly making rounds with us).  Not only did they serve us well, but they split our checks without a blink...and every wait-person had a smile on their faces the entire time.  Actually, this was probably a boon in business during an "off time"...it was too early for the dinner crowd and too late for lunch.  Very few people there besides us!  All said and done, even following such a somber affair, the room was filled with happiness to be together and shared memories.

The next day the teen and I had lunch with the hubby before he headed in to work.  I got the teen to try the Fire Bowl Cafe in Sunset Valley (South Austin) in hopes that their build-your-own stir fry would be something he would like.  Unfortunately he didn't like the sauce...but he kept trying more bites and we had a nice lunch spending time together...and Dad ended up with his dinner for work all packaged up in a take-out container.  At least there was no waste!  We then moseyed over to Barnes and Noble for an hour of book browsing and a Starbucks Coffee.  As the hubby took off for work, the teen and I headed over to his big brother's apartment and met up with his other brother and his two daughters (my favorite granddaughters).  #1 son was kind enough to let us descend upon his home so the girls could decorate the sugar cookies I had brought with me from the coast.  Unfortunately, I left my camera in my suitcase so I had to take cell phone photos.  Not the best quality, but I use it quite frequently so it is what it is!

Miss L.kept adding to her masterpiece!

The world's best grandchildren!

I just bought some canned frosting and filled up ramekins with sprinkles and sugar pearls and jelly beans and sugar butterflies...everything that was easily transportable.  The littlest grandbaby ate more than she decorated and was on a full-fledged sugar buzz before it was over.  The older granddaughter worked on her cookies with great attention to detail, learning to use the craft tweezers to lift sugar pearls...and a good time was had by all.  My oldest son is no dummy.  He covered his coffee table and the surrounding floor with old sheets to ensure a quick clean-up.  Good thing too; it was a mess!  This was not his first rodeo...we did Gingerbread Houses at Christmas a couple of years ago at his place and he learned his lesson!  It was a wonderful visit with all the brothers together and getting to spend time with the little girls.

The oldest one's butterfly

Little A's butterfly cookies

The bunny in its early stages of meticulous decoration
I love my family...it's one of the few things I miss about not living in Austin (I certainly don't miss the traffic).  Everyone but me lives within a 75 mile radius.  For me, though, the peaceful waves of South Padre, the calling of the sea birds over the bay, the rustling palm trees...those are the joys that call me back to the coast.

Everyone seemed to enjoy my decorated sugar cookies, chocolate dipped marshmallow bunnies, and my chocolate dipped strawberries.  I'm ready to get home, though, and try out a couple of recipes I have on my list.  I'll be back in my kitchen soon!

Bon Appetit, Y'all!StumbleUpon