Monday, August 31, 2009

I went to Target recently...and guess what they had in the dollar spot???

doggie tanktops w/cupcakes on them!!!!!! (and princess crowns, and skull & crossbones)



a cupcake squeaky toy!

Butchy loves.

no TWD post this week...between working late and not really being into coffee flavors, I skipped it, but check out the site for everybody else's Espresso Cheesecake Brownies! (I may have to try this sometime anyway....just w/a different flavor)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

august daring bakers

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonfulof Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular DobosTorte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

so...i waited until the last possible minute to complete this month's challenge! between initally being terrified of attempting this, to then not being able to find some ingredients, (have i ever mentioned that bowling green is not a place for speciality ingredients? no superfine sugar or hazlenuts to be found...), and then getting sick and not feeling at all up to anything with such long instructions, it has been quite a challenge!

i completed the buttercream on sunday night. i had read from a lot of other DBers that their buttercream melted and wouldn't hold together, so i determined to make it in advance and give it plenty of time to chill. well, i honestly didn't intend to let it chill for 3 whole days, but whatever! by the time i was ready to use it, i actually had to let it sit out for a while and let it soften up before it was even spreadable!

for the sponge layers, rather than using the technique in the instructions, i took another cue f/m the forums and baked each layer in disposable aluminum pans. this meant that i didn't have to trim the layers or wait for pans to cool--it worked really well!

sponge batter

prepared pans

a finished layer

i went ahead and put the torte together, and then let it cool in the fridge while i made the caramel. i actually thought this came together pretty well! it wasn't the most even or smooth cake, but it didn't fall apart or lean like some others that i'd seen!

then came the dreaded caramel layer. i heard that the lemon was a gross flavor, so i cut the amount from 8(!) teaspoons to 3, but i think that was still way too much! i also had some issues with the syrup mixture bubbling over--it actually caught something on fire (just for a second) in the burner plates on my stove and then the smoke alarm went off!! yikes! when it finally got to the "amber-colored caramel" it was supposed to reach i poured it over the sponge layers...and managed to pour a bit on my finger--ouch ouch ouch!!!! i tried a bit of it after the pain stopped, and it was....GROSS! oh least i tried it!

the scored cake wedges topped w/caramel

the completed dobos torte

i assebled the dobos as instructed and snapped a picture, but the wedges were too heavy and the icing too i promptly removed them and tossed them in the trash!

i sloppily piped the leftover buttercream on the top for a bit of decoration, and then got to try it!

it's pretty good--the sponge cake is kinda dry by nature, but the icing and sponge taste well together...and the macadamia nuts that i used (a gift f/m MIL after her hawaii vacation) added a nice crunchy texture.

all in all, this was a daring challenge! i did several things i have never done before: made a buttercream using eggs, made sponge cake, and made caramel! thanks to Angela and Lorraine for picking something that was truly a challenge! be sure to check out the Daring Baker's blog roll to see how everyone else did!

and now...for the history and instructions:

So, what is the Dobos Torta (or Torte)?

Dobos torta

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

Lorraine and I would like you to make this famous cake which we chose in the spirit of being Daring and Challenging us. Variations are discussed at the end of this post and as always, if you have to make substitutions for dietary or financial reasons, that is fine.


  • 2 baking sheets
  • 9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templates
  • mixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)
  • a sieve
  • a double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)
  • a small saucepan
  • a whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)
  • metal offset spatula
  • sharp knife
  • a 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a sprinfrom tin.
  • piping bag and tip, optional

Prep times

  • Sponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.
  • Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.
  • Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.
  • Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutes

Sponge cake layers

  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
  • pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
  • 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Caramel topping

  • 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
  • 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)

Finishing touches

  • a 7” cardboard round
  • 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
  • ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts

Directions for the sponge layers:

NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)
3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)

4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
5.Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)

Directions for the chocolate buttercream:

NB. This can be prepared in advance and kept chilled until required.

1.Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
2.Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
3.Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
4.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
5.When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.

Lorraine's note: If you're in Winter just now your butter might not soften enough at room temperature, which leads to lumps forming in the buttercream. Male sure the butter is of a very soft texture I.e. running a knife through it will provide little resistance, before you try to beat it into the chocolate mixture. Also, if you beat the butter in while the chocolate mixture is hot you'll end up with more of a ganache than a buttercream!

Directions for the caramel topping:

1.Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
2.Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
3.The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Angela's note: I recommend cutting, rather than scoring, the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, then I highly recommend placing the wedges in that for easy removal later and it also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos

1.Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
2.Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
3.Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
4.Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.


I (Angela) am quite happy to store this cake at room temperature under a glass dome, but your mileage may vary. If you do decide to chill it, then I would advise also using a glass dome if you have done. I should also note that the cake will cut more cleanly when chilled.


Shape: The traditional shape of a Dobos Torta is a circular cake, but you can vary the shape and size if you want. Sherry Yard in Desserts By The Yard makes a skyscraper Dobos by cutting a full-size cake into four wedges and stacking them to create a tall, sail-shaped cake. Mini Dobos would be very cute, and you could perch a little disc of caramel on top.

Flavour: While we both love the dark chocolate buttercream and this is traditional, we think it would be fun to see what fun buttercreams you all come up with! So, go wild! Or, you could brush each layer with a flavoured syrup if you just want a hint of a second flavour. Cointreau syrup would be divine!

Nuts: These are optional for decoration, so no worries if you're allergic to them. If you don't like hazelnuts, then substitute for another variety that you like.

Egg concerns

The cooking process for the buttercream will produce lightly cooked eggs. If you fall into a vulnerable health group then you may wish to use an egg-less buttercream.



I've created a .pdf file of this post for easier printing.. I do this for the recipe archives, but since I shocked myself by being on the ball this month, I thought I'd attach it to this post in case any of you can use it. Smile xoxo

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TWD: creamiest lime cream pie

well, i am sick. and not happy about it. stupid sinus infection. if it were not for the sickness, i would be making another one of these pies tonight b/c it is THAT good.

i made this pie over the weekend on a night when my parents were coming by, so i cheated a bit and did not give it the full time to cool.

lime and ginger ingredients

lime zest rubbed w/sugar

also, along w/many other twd bakers, i had trouble getting my cream to reach 180--it kept climbing over 160 and then going back down again. after well over the 10 minutes dorie says it will require, i gave up and decided that it was thick enough! i went in to taste the cream, and WOW!!! it was so good! i licked every bit of the pan...and spatula...and sieve...and blender, i could have had the cream just by itself! i think that the cream was delicious without the addition of the butter, but that did take it over the top!

when it comes to the twd recipes, i do try to do them as written, so when she said to set the pie under the broiler to toast the meringue, i went ahead and gave it a try...despite my concerns (i think my broiler is especially hot!) well, after less than a minute the meringue was black! i didn't get a picture of it as my mom was over and i desperately wanted to salvage the pie, so i just cut off the blackend parts and it still tasted great--just without the lovely toasted curls :(

i made this pie in a normal crust from the recent issue of Food Network Magazine, and between the pie and dorie's lime cream filling, there were 4 sticks of butter!!! gah! i didn't think it tasted heavy though, and my mom said it was perfectly light and fluffy! the ginger isn't super strong, just a nice bright addition to the pie.

needless to say, i loved this and cannot wait to make it again! i think it's been my favorite dorie recipe so far! thanks so much to Linda from Tender Crumb for choosing this week's recipe (head over to her site for the recipe, or buy the book!) and be sure to check out the TWD blogroll to see how everyone else did!

Friday, August 21, 2009

waste not, want not?

so here's a fun fact about me. i HATE waste. i mean really and truly hate it. and i believe that i have a bit of a hoarding tendency. i have really witnessed this tonight in my attempt to work on cleaning the house and organize the kitchen a bit more.

due to the tremendous amounts of baking that i have been doing lately, i have continued to accumulate kitchen stuff: gadgets to make my work easier (i finally found a cherry pitter after scouring all the stores in bowling green!), aluminum pie pans and cardboard boxes for orders, extra pans for when i make a lot of something, and bulk amounts of ingredients (i am now purchasing flour and sugar in 25 lb bags).

hubs and i have been blessed with a wonderful house that we love, but the kitchen is not really a cook's kitchen. there is no pantry (i have put extra shelves in the attached laundry room), and there is not much cabinet space--10 full size cabinet doors, 4 1/2 drawers, and 6 half-sized cabinets (only tall enough to hold a bag of flour/no extra shelves). i realize that for some people that would be plenty, but for someone like me with a plethora of dishes, pans, gadgets, and ingredients to store, PLUS tons of store-bought stuff that hubs gets from his best friend, we have quickly run out of room. tonight was my 3rd time this year to try to re-organize in order to make better use of our space.

i decided that it was time to organize two of my lower cabinets that have billed filled with dinner mixes and processed food since we moved into the house 3 years ago--and stuff that i never use. i cleared off a shelf in my "pantry" that i had devoted to a plastic bin full of disposable containers (we'll get to those later) and decided to sort through everything.

what i found was shameful. the majority of this food expired in 2006 or even 2005! there were leftover instant meals from when i was in college, and instant mashed potato flakes from when we first got married...oh it was bad. but the worst part was that it hurt me to throw it out! i know that the food wasn't useful to our lifestyle anymore...and probably wouldn't be safe to eat even if it was...but i kept thinking about the starving kids in africa who would probably like to eat my out of date hamburger helper instant beef stroganoff meal! i trashed at least 10 boxes of stuff...but only after dumping the contents out of their cardboard boxes so that i could at least recycle those. and i hate to admit it....but i still kept some's just so hard for me!

and then there are the plastic food containers....once again the recycling factor gets me. bowling green does not recyle type-5 plastic, and therefore i have several years worth of sour cream, cool whip, margarine, and who-knows-what-else containers, not to mention the gladware and other stuff that we got when we got married. i keep thinking that i will be able to use them...and i have used many to dole out leftovers to hungry college bible study girls...but now the girls are all gone, and i can't keep every sour cream container that i ever obtain! does anyone know of a recyling plant nearby that takes #5 plastic? lol.

the weird thing is that i've never been super earth-conscious or whatever--but i am OBSESSED with recycling. to the point that i keep a box at work and collect the recyclables and then bring them home on the pick-up day. my dad's family didn't have much money, so he has that "depression-era" mindset of keeping and using everything, and when i was growing up we didn't have much money either and definitely made use of everything we had. we very rarely throw anything away other than food scraps, packaging, and paper stuff (which we recycle if at all possible), and my dad has been known to dumpster dive & pick stuff up from the side of the road! but we also have a lot of STUFF b/c of this. i have a box of ripped and torn clothing that i can't bear to throw out b/c it's not an acceptable form of trash for me--i had in my mind that i would make rags or a quilt or something out of it b/c i just couldn't bear to throw it in the trash! i mean, really, if i ever do get around to quilt making, i will be using something prettier than torn up jeans!! but believe me--i was super excited when i read in a magazine yesterday that clothing with holes in it can still be donated to goodwill and will be recycled--yay!

i tend to acquire things based on whether i think i will ever possibly need or want it rather than really having a use for it. because of that, i found the ingredients for dishes that i have never ever made, lots of things that i had bought in bulk when on a discount...and then forgot that i had so i bought more--just frustrating stuff. and all this junk that was completely without use was taking up half of my storage space under the kitchen counters! gah! in general, our house is full of stuff that we have acquired and kept but that we will probably not have use for.

i am making small steps towards organization and the purging of unecessary things, but it is still very difficult for me. i really desire to be a good steward of the things that God has blessed us with, and i feel that i am not doing that right now at all! what are some ways that you organize or decide what to get rid of?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD: Applesauce spice bars

For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Karen of Something Sweet by Karen chose the Applesauce spice bars from pages 117 & 118 of Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

For a lady like me who is desperately wishing for autumn, this week's recipe was a welcome reminder of things to come! I seriously love all things cool-weather related. There is nothing more comforting than smells of cinnamon & spices--you would not believe how many fall scented candles I have! (and yes...candles have been another of my compulsive shopping fazes.)

Well, this is a lot better than a candle, and this recipe is very very easy! So moist, full of spices, apple chunks, plump raisins, and pecans, these bars could work for breakfast...and I think I'm going to try them in muffin form! I think the name is a bit of a misnomer though...I called them "caramel apple spice bars" when I took them into work b/c applesauce is not nearly the predominant ingredient. The glaze is really good, but I think they would also be great (again as muffins) w/a streusel topping. yum...

These bars went a lot better for me than the brownies from last week, and they reminded me of my favorite season which is right around the corner! (my fingers also smelled like cinnamon & allspice all the next day which is WONDERFUL!)

Be sure to check out Karen's blog (or buy the awesome book!) for the recipe, and also check out the TWD site for the blog real to see how other bakers did!

*sorry for the bad pictures...the lighting in my kitchen is AWFUL

Saturday, August 15, 2009

tonight i am missing my friends. hubs made me feel it b/c all his friends are here and for some reason mine keep leaving me! why wouldn't you want to live in bowling green, i mean seriously?? ;) i love my coworkers dearly, but i just miss the people that i would spend time with outside of that. i have a few sweet ladies that i still hang out with, but we haven't been able to get together lately. boo. i usually enjoy my alone time but right now i just want a friend to talk to!

in happier news, my mother-in-law came by today with a box of cookbooks that she got for me at a yard sale for 10 bucks!! that has added another 18 actual "books" along w/several small pamphlets and magazines to my shelves, and i also got another one in the mail this week (actually 2 but i am returning one). a lot of the books she brought are southern living which i LOVE and i have had to do a bit of shifting on the shelf, which i hate to is now full!

the other (free) book that i got is junior's cheesecake cookbook which i have seen mentioned on some of the other food bloggies. i have been meaning to mention this b/c i think some of you would be interested in it, but i have participated in this market research group for several years (since college) that gives you points for completing market research surveys, and then you can cash your points in for free stuff! so far i have gotten this cookbook, martha stewarts baking handbook, and a novel that i'd been wanting to read called such a pretty fat (haven't read it yet due to my HUGE stack of reading material that i am getting overwhelmed by) but they also have electronics & dvds and home decor and tons of random stuff. and you don't even have to pay shipping! and sometimes they send you free products to test! (i've tested the glad press & seal wrap when it first came out, and some face wash.) it's called zoom panel, and if anyone is interested let me know and i'll send you a referral--oh and it's completely free to do, and i've done it for about 6 years w/no complaints.

so that's life for now. no baking b/c i'm out of food--i decided last week that i would NOT go grocery shopping, so we have been surving on food f/m two weeks ago, which means NO fruits/veggies, i am now out of eggs, ran out of cheese today, and our milk will soon be expired! i had to make 2 pecan pies (one chocolate) for friday and got worried that i would not have what i needed, but i found a store bought pie crust :( and a tart crust that i had made in the freezer, had just enough pecans in there too, and tried to stretch my 2 eggs into 3 by adding some pasturized egg whites. one pie worked very well, the one w/the tart crust and egg whites had some issues, but tasted okay. i will go grocery shopping tomorrow though and look forward to having options for food again!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

the cookbook shelf

So recently i decided to upgrade my cookbook shelf from this:

to THIS:

I ended up sorting by author/publisher and kinda by genre. The top shelf is mostly "brands" such as Pillsbury, Southern Living, Betty Crocker, and then some of the BEST cooks: Dorie Greenspan, Julia Child, & Martha Stewart. The second shelf is Taste of Home & Southern Lady publications (including, but not limited to Taste of the South, Tea Time, and Cooking for Two), the third shelf is Food Network cookbooks and my measly collection of "healthy" cooking (3 cookbooks & a subscription to Cooking Light magazine). Fourth row is any short books and pamplets--includes the Cake Mix Doctor books and several small booklets. Then the final shelf is Goosberry Patch and misc. things that didn't really fit elsewhere.

I also decided to finally count the cookbooks, and I have..
drumroll please

I actually thought there would be more, but do take note that the total is only for actual cookbooks--not cooking magazine subscriptions or special edition magazines which would take up at least one other shelf on there own (probably more considering that I have a stack about a foot high that I have not finished reading...)

So...needless to say...if you need to borrow a good cookbook--you know who to come to!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TWD: Brownie Buttons

For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie Challenge, Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen chose the Brownie Buttons from pages 106-107 of Baking from My Home to Yours.

My first thought at seeing this recipe was that the quantity is TINY! it only makes 16 mini brownies! Of course, that means it is easy...and I really thought it was, but they did not turn out quite right. I have seen a few others complain about this as well, but my chocolate seemed to seize a bit and the batter was never "smooth & glossy" as the recipe said it should be. I have also read that some people felt the cooking time was off, and I think that must be true. They were like little rocks after 14 minutes--the "bounce back" test did not happen!

The flavor is very deeply chocolatey--I left out the orange zest and white chocolate glaze b/c hubs does not like to play around with his flavors--especially not in brownies, but I think they are too dark for him anyway. I had some leftover chocolate buttercream from a cake I made this weekend, so I smeared some of that across them and it's pretty good.

I would like to try these again, bake them for a shorter, and maybe swap onc ounce of semi-sweet chocolate for some of the bittersweet to get them more to hubs' taste. BUT--I need the weather to cool down before that is going to happen! Seriously--I did not bake or grocery shop all weekend b/c it's so freakin' hot!

Well, I have a super-needy bulldog trying to shut the computer down on me so I will give her some attention. Be sure to check out the TWD website and blogroll to see other members' experience w/this recipe, and check out Jayma's blog for the recipe!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

we almost lost our "daughter"

so last night hubs & i decided to go out for a little bit while i was letting my cakes cool. as we were leaving and talking about where to go, little butchy was desperately wiggling and begging to go with us, so we decided to take her to petco if it was open, and if not to go walk in the park. we drove by petco which was closed, and decided to go walking outside, eventually choosing to go to western's campus and look around to see some of the construction that has been completed since we graduated 3 years ago. it was lovely evening, not too hot, and we parked at the top of the hill and walked around & down to DUC. by the time that we got down to the bottom of the hill butchy was panting pretty hard so we were trying to decide if we should try to make it back up w/her or one of us go get the car. we carried her for part of the way, and then patrick left me in the valley and went to get the car.

by that time her tongue had turned purple and she was gasping for breath. a lot of bulldogs have this thing where they cough up white foam when over excited or over-heated. well, butch starting having this a lot and it was blocking her airways and started coming out of her nose! patrick finally showed up with the car and we sped home with the air blasting and holding her head out of the window to try to get her to cool down and breathe. when we got home i ran inside and turned on a cold bath while patrick carried her in. she gagged and spit up and i had to clear her throat a few times b/c the foam was choking her. finally after sticking my finger down her throat a few times she coughed the last of it up and started to breathe a little more. patrick brought a fan into the bathroom and we held it on her and kept pouring cool water over her neck. after hanging over the side of the tub for several minutes with the fan blowing on her, she finally decided that she was fine and jumped out of the tub and went into the office to show her daddy that she was okay. (he had left me in the bathroom with her--he later said "he couldn't stay in there and watch his dog die"--we see who will be the one to act in a crisis...).

we kept her calm and cool for the rest of the night, and she is doing better now, just subdued and breathing through her nose as much as possible. (i think her little throat is sore). well, we've learned some things about our girl. #1--no more walks more than the length of our block during the summer. #2. when she starts panting, we stop walking! #3--we love her so very much!!! she has been quite pampered since we got home and we are making sure that she gets plenty of rest!

our little sleepy survivor

in the meantime, i have made 2 cakes for my niece & nephew's birthday this evening. i had some issues w/kara's cake, but i think they came out alright--especially considering the drama in our house last night! one thing is for sure--they taste GREAT!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

strawberry cream cookies

I still had a little tub of strawberry cream cheese icing left over from the cake I made last week, and needed a way to use it! I wanted a cookie that wouldn't be too sweet or overpowering with the icing, and i found a recipe in one of my thousands of taste of home magazines for cream cheese cutouts. I made the dough Monday night, but had to let it chill in the fridge. then today I had a stupid flare up w/my cfs/fibro symptoms and had to spend most of the day in bed. I finally started feeling a little better around 7:30 this evening and decided that i might as well make the cookies and take some in to work for our meeting tomorrow.

cream cheese cookie dough

butchy thinks it's delish!

These cookies were supposed to be cutouts-but I don't believe it! They got too soft super fast and i couldn't move them without them totally falling apart. so i stuck them back in the fridge for a few minutes and then made them into balls and flattented them into disks.

These cookies were definitely not overpowering and I think they made a pretty good match with the icing...but I felt like something maybe too much flour? I'm not really sure---but they were pretty bland without the icing. I think next time I will just use a basic butter cookie recipe, but I was glad to try these.

Cream Cheese Cutouts f/m Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Bars special issue
makes approx. 6 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1-2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg & vanilla. Combine flour & salt; gradually add to creamed mixture until blended. Cover and refridgerate for 1-2 hours or until easy to handle.

I didn't roll out and cut these, which the recipe goes on to instruct. Instead, I just rolled them into about 1-in. balls and then flattened them with the bottom of a cup that I had dipped in flour.

The icing I used was my strawberry cream cheese icing that I've used on the cakes and cupcakes. **NOTE: this is the recipe I use to ice a 2 layer cake! I iced the cookies with what was left of the frosting after finishing the cake, so you could probably use a fourth of this recipe if just icing cookies**

1 pkg (8 oz.) cream cheese at room temperature.
4 tbsp. butter, room temp.
3 1/2-4 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup pureed strawberries.

Cream butter & cream cheese until combined. Add powdered sugar, little by little, until smooth, then add strawberries. More powdered sugar can be added to thicken, but this is more of a glaze consistency--so don't expect to decorate with it! is a picture of the finished cheesecake right before going to Jr's.

they loved it!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Classic Banana Bunt Cake

For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Mary of The food Librarian chose Dorie's Classic Banana Bunt Cake found on page 190 of Baking: from My Home to Yours

For my first ever (!!) TWD post I was so excited to see a recipe to use all those frozen bananas that I have been storing in my freezer! (can you believe that I have never actually made banana bread? I know!) This recipe was actually very simple, with basic ingredients that most people will have on hand.

mashed 'naners

mixing the batter (only a few dishes required)

right out of the oven (you can smell it right?)


yummy slices!

While baking this, my super-picky hubs came out of his office and said "WHAT are you MAKING??? It smells AMAZING!" and that it did!

I think the end result is really basically like a very moist banana bread recipe, and it is quite delicious. All my co-workers, hubs, and his friend who tried it say it's awesome! i think it would be amazing toasted w/a little butter. yum!

You need to buy the book, bake this banana cake, and then join TWD!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

a productive week/weekend

it has been a super busy week for sure--and i have been baking like crazy! going in to the week i knew that i had a pie order to make on tuesday night, and then a pot luck on friday to make stuff for too, as well as cake class and a cheesecake order for the weekend. on monday one of my dear co-workers called me and asked if i could do a last minute order for a strawberry cake for her sister's birthday. of course i said yes! and i think it turned out pretty well! i made it from scratch of course and made the cream-cheese strawberry icing, but all the strawberry puree made the icing more of a glaze consistency. i kept adding more and more powdered sugar to try to get it to thicken up, but it was NOT happening! i ended up using about 1 1/2 bags!! i finally just decided to do thinner "dirty icing" type coatings (to quote the cake boss) and then let them harden in between. then i did some extra on the top and let it drip a little down the sides. yum.

another co-worker ordered a fudge pie & lemon meringue pie for her mom's birthday, and they were also a hit! so much so that she has put in pre-orders for thanksgiving and christmas!!!

i was kinda worn out by mid-week and decided to skip my final cake class and have a night free of baking. i was kinda bummed to miss it, but decided that i could probably pick up the stuff we learned from looking at the book. also, the next night was my mom's birthday and we were thinking of doing something (but ended up not). i used my extra time on thursday night to get some grocery shopping and make my food for the pot luck--a baked chicken alfredo pasta, and tiramisu! the tiramisu was pretty easy to make actually and turned out okay, but if i make it again i will just brush the espresso onto the ladyfingers rather than dunking them as my recipe instructed, b/c they got too soggy. this is not my kind of dessert b/c i don't like coffee, but it was fun to make!

then today i made my banana cake for my first Tuesdays with Dorie challenge (will post on Tuesady) and a pumpkin cheesecake for another order. i had some extra cheesecake batter so i poured a little into custard cups so i could have some too and it is so so so yummy! it's good for me that i am sending most of my goodies to other people, but sometimes i just want them to stay! ;)

baby pumpkin cheesecakes

butchy longingly watching me whip up deliciousness!

i had to work extra this week for our month end close-down so i didn't get the normal time off that i have on fridays, but i still got a LOT done. i finally switched out my bookcases so i would have more room for my cookbooks (i am, for the moment at least, organizing them by author/company. that may change eventually) i also deep-cleaned the kitchen, and worked hard on the floors in our formal living room...the cleaner we had used in there has left a coating that for some reason has practically glued the fur butch has shed to the floor, so i am pretty much having to scrub it's very time consuming and tiring. after over an hour, i had only got about one square foot of the floor done! i'm going to have to spread this over several weekends.

i know what you're thinking...this girl is supposed to have chronic fatigue syndrome and fibormyalgia, right? exactly. but i was shocked to wake up fairly early this morning--and not in any pain!! (i did hurt some last night though...and of course woke up at noon the day before...) now, i don't want to get over-excited or make things out to be more than they are, but i think that maybe my hormone implant may be kicking in...i really have felt very energized all day, and also awake..and have been sleeping a little better without my meds, so maybe?? i still have to be careful not to overdo it, but i'm hopeful. it's also kinda scary though. hubs & i were talking about it today, and while i obviously want my health to improve, i have been living with this illness for the past 2 years and have gotten used to a different pace of life (for the most part). i am scared that i may not ever be completely like i was before i got sick, and if i do start to improve will i know how to pace myself and find a good balance? i'm also scared of people's expectations. i like that i have learned to rest and not be "doing" all the time and i don't want to forget that. i don't's overwhelming, but exciting at the same time. stay tuned!