Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cuteness Fail--4th of July Frosting

This week when one of my piano students came, she had a food magazine with the cutest frosting ever. Also, it sounded so...easy.

I would do it. And blog it. Hahahahahahaha. Cuteness and I don't always get along. Part of the problem being that I was rushing trying to get it done before I had to go pick up a child. Part of the problem being, well, me. And part of the problem being magazines that make things look perfect and sound easy when they really take a little practice and fiddling to get right.

I still think this method could work. But I'm not the blogger who will make another batch of cupcakes and frosting tonight just to get it right. It's easier to just make fun of yourself.

They were supposed to look more or less like this (only I was only going to use blue and white on my red velvet cake).

To achieve this, you take two pastry bags (or Ziploc bags), put a different frosting in each bag, and cut the tips off. Then put these two bags into one bag with both their tips side by side and ready to squirt out of the other tip. See, it doesn't seem too bad. And for my first cupcake, it was kind of okay.

Here's the first--a little wobbly, but kind of the right idea.

Then, well, one of my bags must have slipped or it kind of seemed like one of the bags had frosting that was softer than the other. Maybe one of my openings was bigger than the other or obscured or whatever. At any rate, it all went downhill from there.

Starting with top left, we've got Swirly, Double Double, Blobby, Dumpy, Original, Whitey, and then Halfsy in the middle. Not quite the ideal I was going for. 

Then I thought, "Hey maybe I can fix these and just use the tip of a spoon to give them a gentle swirl." Sure I can.

Don't get me wrong. They weren't hideous. And my kids and their friends were kind of hanging on my elbows as I was taking these pictures begging me to be done so they could eat them. But they weren't quite the centerfold beauties I was going for either.

I still think the method is sound. It would have helped if I had used actual pastry bags instead of going the Ziploc route. And a little practice would surely go a long way. We'll talk again at Halloween. Or maybe Christmas.

If you do this better than me (it won't take much), I'd love to see a pic in the comments or on my facebook page.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Guacamole Rice

I made this and I thought it would be a kind of good side dish that would add some vegetables to my rice. Yay. What it turned out to be was a super amazing bowl of deliciousness. I made it with some meat to "balance" the meal for the minions. Whatever. This was all I wanted. And it's pretty. And easy. It won't heat your kitchen into summertime purgatory. And lately I've been finding avocados for really cheap. 

You can make this as a side dish or a light summer dinner/lunch. You can make from scratch or cheat and use a bit of Rotel. It could be a perfect way to use leftover rice. Also, it can be eaten warm or at room temperature. What, on earth, is not to love? Unless of course you hate avocados, in which case you have issues and I can't help you.

I'll include directions and cheats below.

Guacamole Rice
adapted from Foxes Love Melons
Serves: 6
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes for the rice
Cost: $2.45
rice: .65, avocado: .65 (that's how much I paid for the last one I bought, but the price varies on these a lot), lime juice: .15, Rotel: 1.00 OR tomato: .40, jalepeno: .40, other stuff: ..40 (guessing a bit here; I haven't bought some of these items for a while because I get them from my garden and freeze them--they should be cheap this summer)

Cheat: If you'd like to cheat a good cheat, use the first four ingredients here and follow directions below. Then drain a can of Rotel (save that juice for something amazing) and add it plus a good pinch of cumin to the avocado/rice mixture. It's pretty awesome.

1 ripe avocado, diced
juice of 1 1/2 limes (or about 2-3 Tbsp juice)
1/4 tsp salt
3 C cooked rice (or any other grain that floats your boat--quinoa, barley, whatever)
1 clove garlic, very finely minced
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/2 Jalepeno pepper, seeded and minced (add some seeds if you like more heat)
1/4 C chopped cilantro (optional)
1/4 C diced red onion (optional and we skipped it)
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp cumin

First cook your rice if you don't have any leftover.

While it cooks, take the avocado, lime juice, and salt and mash that all together.

When rice is ready, toss it with the mashed avocado mixture and the other ingredients.

Serve warm or cool.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake

Yesterday when I was talking to my sister-in-law about moist yellow cake, this one came up. "Yeah," I told her, "I've got this rhubarb buttermilk cake on my blog that's really moist." She looked. It wasn't there. Time to remedy that.

This cake is very moist with a coffee cake type crumble on top. I used rhubarb in it, which I highly recommend. It adds a little kick of something a bit tart-ish (like lemon would). However, if you don't have rhubarb, I bet strawberries or raspberries or blueberries or, heck, even grated zucchini would work pretty well too (though I haven't tried it, so no guarantees). Also, I should warn you that my kids picked out all the pieces of the rhubarb when they ate this cake. Sigh. That's how we roll.

Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake
adapted from Mmmm Is for Mommy
Makes 1 8x8 inch pan
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Cost: $3.60
rhubarb (I have honestly no idea; mine was from my garden, which I could call "free" except that it took me three plants before I learned to grow it without killing it)--anyway, let's say 1.50, butter: 1.00, sugar: .30, eggs: .20, flour: .30, buttermilk: .15, other stuff: .15

1 1/2 C chopped rhubarb (I chopped mine quite small; I don't like having a bite of cake where it's all mushy fruit)
3 Tbsp sugar
2/3 C butter (at room temperature)
2/3 C sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 C buttermilk

For the crumble:

1/3 C butter (about 5 Tbsp) at room temp or a little softer
1/2 C all-purpose flour (this might be a good place to sneak some whole wheat in)
1/2 C sugar (white)
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Toss rhubarb with the 3 Tbsp sugar and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and 2/3 C sugar. Beat in eggs, then add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients.

Alternate adding dry ingredients with buttermilk (dry, buttermilk, dry, buttermilk, dry).

Fold in the sugared rhubarb.

Spray an 8x8 inch pan with cooking spray. Add your batter.

Then prepare the crumble by mixing all that stuff together. I just use my fingers until it's crumbly, but if you wanted to be refined I suppose you could use a pastry mixer or something. Scatter this over the batter.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the center is not raw. Amen and amen.

Let cool and serve.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Homemade Graham Crackers

So here you are with your kids, la di da, out of school. If you're not moving this summer and didn't have a baby this spring, and don't happen to have your kids signed up for every single camp you got a flyer for, then maybe, well maybe, you're looking for some kind of fun, calm, homey activity to do with your kids. There's always the summer reading program from the library. And the good old fashioned (shall we call it vintage) activity of sending your kids outside and forgetting about them even if they are smearing their faces in dirt, sand, and goose poo. There's always the city pool (gaa--I hate swimming with my kids, but I know I'm kind of lonely in this, so whatever.) But sometimes it rains. Or you see no reason to depart from your house or even, possibly, your pajamas. On these days, why not do another old fashioned activity (shall we call it vintage) of creating some kind of cookie-like product and eating it. Indeed. Even better if this cookie-like product is tasty and whole-grainsy, which absolutely justifies it being eaten for lunch (cough). You can make this cookie-like product as easy or hard as you like--you can cut into all kinds of adorable shapes like all those other moms on Pinterest, gosh darn it. Or you can leave it as a jagged rectangle and just sort of cut out smaller, but still crooked rectangles. Either way it tastes good. And either way, you don't have to change out of your PJ's.

Homemade Graham Crackers
adapted from Love to Be in the Kitchen
Makes 7 zillion, which last--oh--one afternoon
Prep time: 15-30 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Cost: $1.85
WWflour: .30, flour: .25, brown sugar: .25, butter: .50, honey: .40, other stuff: .15

1 C whole wheat flour (I used actual graham flour because I'm awesome or my husband accidentally bought this slightly more coarse version of whole wheat flour when I asked him to pick some up)
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/2 C brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 C butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 C honey
1/4 C water
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, combine the first 6 ingredients (through baking soda). Whiz. Then add butter and pulse until it's like coarse meal.

Add honey, water and vanilla and mix until it's all combined.

Roll this into a ball and put it between two pieces of parchment paper. Alternatively, you can go the old fashioned route (vintage) and generously flour EVERYTHING and roll your dough out that way. Roll dough out until it's 1/4 inch thick.

Now here you can just roll your dough out into a a rectangle-ish shape if you are going to cut it into squares and make square graham crackers. (I won't judge you.) OR you can take little cookie cutters make your graham crackers into darling little shapes. It's kind of fun if you have the energy for this sort of thing (if you don't, that's okay--just make ragged rectangles). I have done both and they both produce something delicious.

Place them on a cookie sheet (I used silpat, but it didn't seem necessary) and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Cool and serve.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Banana Yogurt Breakfast Plate

My kids are out of school! And I've been on a little food jag. It seems wrong not to tell you about it, even if it is dumb easy (especially if it is dumb easy). But this little "recipe" sat on my shelf for a couple weeks. Yes, I'm ashamed to say, but even though it tastes just as good as a banana split and maybe even better, I just hadn't gotten it posted. And then this weekend when my son and his friend went through our neighborhood and gathered mulberries from all the trees they could find. Mulberries, should you have no idea what they are, are a berry that grows on a tree. They taste like a cross between a cherry and a blackberry to me and are purely delicious. They grow all over the place around here and the trees are actually considered a bit of a pest because they'll sprout up wherever they please and grow like mad. I'm not sure you can find them on the grocery shelf anywhere. And I'm not sure why. Maybe they're too delicate to store/ship/whatever. I didn't even know what they were until we moved to Indiana several years ago. Interestingly, we've tried to get several adult friends to eat them from the tree and they Would Not Touch Them. Well, my kids touch them and eat them until their faces and hands are purple. And so my son and his friend rode their bikes around with a large bowl somehow balanced on their ?laps? or something (my son claims to be the best no hands biker around, but still--how did they transport an enormous bowl of berries on bicycles--it's a gift, I suppose). And then they came home and told me that now I could make mulberry jam.

How could I refuse? They'd been biking around with a bowl of berries on their laps for two hours.

Now, I would love to be sharing a perfect mulberry jam recipe with you today, but after digging out my only package of somewhat expired, low-sugar pectin and making a jam with a weird fruit in it, our jam came out delicious but slightly runny.

We also had a couple bunches of very ripe bananas on our hands and that runny jam and some Greek yogurt just called to me. Over and over again my friends. Because this is delicious. And easy. And kid-friendly. And kind of pretty. And well--rounded. It's got your fruit, protein, calcium, nutsIt could be eaten for breakfast, snack, pre/post workout food, or as a side dish with dinner. Which is how we first ate it several weeks ago when we had it.

It's hard to call this quite a recipe exactly, but when you're on a delicious, wonderful food jag, who cares?

Banana Yogurt Breakfast Plate
adapted from Natural Noshing
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cost: $.70
banana: .15, yogurt: .25, jam: .10, other stuff: .20

1 ripe banana
1 dollop plain Greek yogurt (I like it best thick)
1-2 spoonfuls jam or real maple syrup or this
maybe a squirt of whipped cream if you're feeling evil
nuts or shredded coconut

Cut your banana in half. Plop on the yogurt, then jam, then optional whipped cream. Sprinkle generously with nuts. And eat.


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