Petit Fours or Petit Four-Get it?

petite fours 119

Petit Fours are irresistibly cute, pretty, and delicious.  It’s those characteristics that inspired me to make my own.  But when I was done making them I was chanting Petit Four-Get It!

You will probably agree that  they look cute and pretty.  And I will attest that they are delicious.  But… they were extremely time-consuming to make.

Warning!  If you want to make petit fours you will need a lot of time and patience

Since making these was a new adventure for me I decided to take a shortcut and use a store-bought pound cake. 

I started by cutting the cake into one inch by one inch cubes, or as close to that as possible.  For experimental purposes I also tried using a small round cookie cutter but found that was more time-consuming than cutting the cubes, and there was considerably more waste of the cake doing so.

I made the icing once I finished cubing the cake.  I had never made this type of icing before so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The recipe I used came from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.  I used a small pound cake so I only made a half of batch of icing.  As far as ratios go – that worked out perfectly.

Once the icing was ready I removed a small amount from the double boiler and then colored it.  I  set a cube of cake on a dining sized tablespoon and spooned the icing over the piece of cake.  This is where it got very time-consuming.  The only other alternative was to place the cubes on a wire rack and pour the icing over a few pieces at a time.  Neither seemed like ideal ways to cover small pieces of cake.  I found this icing was difficult to work with once it cooled down, and that happened fairly quickly.

I transferred the iced pieces of cake onto parchment paper and left them  at room temperature overnight.  The following day I melted some white chocolate wafers and drizzled it over top of each piece of cake.  I decorated each piece with Celebration pearls candy which you will see more of early next week.  You won’t want to miss that post – I promise!

petite fours 166

petite fours 116

Even though my initial thought was petit four-get it!  I would make these again.  When I do, I may try a different icing recipe and see if that helps speed up the process any.

If you want to make a treat for extremely special occasion, or if you really want to wow someone, petit fours are a perfect choice.

Chocolate Easter Cupcakes

cabinet cupcakes coasters 027

While some people are busy out shopping for chocolate Easter bunnies I’ve been busy making chocolate cupcakes. 

This cupcake recipe is extremely tasty.  The secret weapon inside the cupcake and icing?  Cinnamon.

I think I’ll just let the pictures convince you these are worth making.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes

1/2 c. butter, softened

1 1/4 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 c. sour milk

1/2 c. hot water

1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 heaping tbsp. cocoa

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 1 dozen cupcake cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, add butter, sugar, eggs, and melted chocolate chips.  Mix until completely blended with electric mixer.  Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa; mix again.  Add flour, milk and hot water; mix thoroughly.  Add cinnamon and vanilla; beat again.  You will notice batter will turn light and fluffy. 

With a small ladle fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center of a cupcake.  Remove from oven and cool on bakers rack. 

For the frosting, make your favorite chocolate buttercream icing and add 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon.  Frost cupcakes when completely cool.

 

cabinet cupcakes coasters 119

 

cabinet cupcakes coasters 145

These cupcakes are moist and tender.  And they won’t last long – that’s a promise.

Shittake, Almond, Wild Rice Salad with Balsamic Dressing

mushrooms 033

Last year, around this same time, I visited  Blue Oyster Cultivations, a mushroom farm located here in the Finger Lakes Region. 

I visited BOC to conduct some research for an article I was about to write for a local publication. 

Once I was done interviewing the owner’s of the farm they picked some of their fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms for me to take home. 

With their delicious, fresh, and locally grown mushrooms I made this salad.  

This salad pairs well with chicken and fish.  It can be served warm or chilled, and it makes a picnic dish.  It’s a welcome change from other  salads that are loaded with calories from the mayonnaise used in them. 

Shiitake, Almond, Wild Rice Salad with Balsamic Dressing

1 – 7oz. box of long grain & wild rice

2 green onion, sliced

1 - 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2 c. oven roasted, no salt, sliced almonds

3 – 4 large shiitake mushroom caps, sliced thin

3 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar

dash of salt & pepper

Prepare rice according to box; set aside.  In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, almonds, and mushrooms.  Cook until tender, about 8 minutes.  Remove from heat, add cooked skillet ingredients to rice.  Pour Balsamic vinegar over rice, along with salt & pepper.  Mix thoroughly.

Serve warm, or chilled. Makes 4 servings.

Surprise your family with this rice salad that’s loaded with tasty flavors!

 

My Sunday Morning

I’m sitting here thinking about all the things I should be doing.

1.) Start my spring cleaning

2.) Finish a blog post I’ve already started

3.) Make breakfast brunch

4.) Finish an awesome DIY project I’ve been working on that I plan on sharing

5.) Make a second cup of coffee

6.) Bake something

7.) Build my light box

8.) Edit some of my photo’s

9.) CELEBRATE MY BLOG TURNING TWO YEARS OLD TODAY!

And yet, here I sit. Finishing the last drop of my first cup of coffee and scouring Pinterest.  Don’t believe me?  Just look at my Pinterest Board.

muffins and blossoms 094

Happy Sunday morning!  It’s time for me to get busy…

Double Berry Oat Muffins

I like having muffins on hand for breakfast.  Typically, I’ll make a batch and we will eat some fresh.  The rest go into the freezer for days that we’ve tired of the usual breakfast fare. 

Muffins freeze well, thaw fairly quickly, and are easy to grab on the go.  Hearty muffins like bran or oatmeal top my list of favorites.  When I realized it was time to restock our freezer I started thinking about my options.

Last year, I froze a bunch of blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries to use throughout the winter months.  I guard them pretty closely because I don’t relish the thought of paying outrageous prices for berries that never seem to taste nearly as good as those you get locally when they are in season.

A peek in the freezer confirmed my suspicions, my stock of raspberries was nearly gone, but there were still a lot of blueberries stock piled in there.  This is what led me to come up with today’s recipe.

muffins and blossoms 036

Double Berry Oat Muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  (This recipe made 15 muffins)  Heavily spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

1/3 c. butter, softened

1 egg, room temperature

3/4 c. light brown sugar

1 c. heavy cream

1 c. oatmeal, quick cook

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 c. red raspberries

11/2 c. blueberries

Double Berry Oat Muffin Topping

1/4 c. oatmeal, quick cook

1/4 c. light brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In a large bowl, add butter, egg, brown sugar; mix thoroughly.  Pour in heavy cream, oatmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; mix well.  Fold in berries.

In a separate bowl, mix oat topping ingredients.

Fill each muffin tin about 2/3 full and sprinkle with prepared topping.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes.

Remove pans from the oven.  Take a sharp knife and run it around the edge of each muffin.  Allow the muffins to cool completely before removing from pans. 

These muffin are sweet, yet they have a hint of tart flavor that comes from using the raspberries.  I like how the berries compliment each other.   *Note – these muffins are not your best choice for a grab and go option because although they are very tasty, they are also very tender and crumble easily.

Even breakfast skippers will be tempted by these muffins.

muffins and blossoms 027

A Joy of Caking DIY Project –Make Your Own Earrings

I love baking, writing about food, and photographing food. I also love sharing  DIY projects to show you how simple and inexpensive they are to make.  Seriously, if I can make them, you can too! 

Sometimes it’s good to get away from the kitchen and exercise creativity elsewhere.  Besides, earrings have zero calories.  You can’t say that about a homemade Red Raspberry Custard Pie with Vanilla Crumb Crust, Chocolate Covered Caramel Cheesecake Bars, or Chocolate Kahlua Cake Pops – can you?

Have you priced earring as your local craft fair, or even your local department store lately? They’re not cheap.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t make them yourself and save bundles.

Picnik collage

Supplies needed:

One pair of needle nose pliers, pierced earring hooks, and charm sets (with an enclosed circle at the top – as pictured above.)

I bought my supplies for these earrings at our local craft store for less than $5.00 – excluding the pliers that I  already had on hand. 

To make these style earrings:

Start at the base of the pierced earring (where the ring is.) Slide the small coil up slightly.  Using the pliers, pry open the small ring.  Slide the charm onto the opened ring and then close it  with your pliers.  

That’s it!  Simple and inexpensive.  Go ahead, fill your  jewelry box, give them as gifts, or sell them at your local craft fair. 

In case you missed the first TJOC DIY Project – Make your own soap, here it is.

photo experiment and soap 163correct

 

Apple Rum Ice Cream Topping

postcards apples and booze 061

The temperatures here have been hovering in the high 70’s and low 80’s here in the Finger Lakes.  It’s unseasonably warm, but you won’t hear any complaints from me. 

As it happens, I found heavy cream on sale during these warm days. Warm days and heavy cream equals; homemade vanilla ice cream. 

Once I bought the cream, I kept thinking apple pie would taste great with the vanilla ice cream I was about to make, but I just didn’t feel that ambitious.  So instead, I came up with a less ambitious project that generated a delicious, and probably healthier alternative – Maple Apple Rum Topping.

Apple Rum Ice Cream Topping

6 small McIntosh apples, peeled, quartered, and sliced thin

4 tbsp. butter

4 tbsp. light brown sugar

2 tbsp. pure maple syrup

3 tsp. Bacardi Gold Rum (Or spiced rum if you prefer)

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. corn starch

In a small bowl, add brown sugar and corn starch; mix thoroughly and set aside.

In a medium skillet, melt butter.  Add apples, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and cook on low heat until soft and tender. 

Once apples are tender, add maple syrup, remaining cinnamon, rum, and brown sugar mixture; stir until liquid thickens.  It should appear slightly caramelized. 

Remove from heat and serve warm, or refrigerate and warm in the microwave prior to using. 

This topping is not overly boozy flavored.  The rum does give it a unique flavor.   You can add more rum if you’d like a little more zip, or you can make this without alcohol – just add a teaspoon of vanilla extract in place of the rum. 

apple topping 017

I think a piece of yellow cake or some toasted pecans would also have fit perfectly in this equation.  But only if you aren’t watching calories!

What is your favorite ice cream topping?  Do you buy it, or make it from scratch?

Postcards from the Finger Lakes

I’ve been playing catch up for the last couple of weeks.  You know how it is; you put everything on the back burner because you don’t feel like dealing with it right that second.  And then each second turns into minutes, hours, days, and weeks. 

I finally took control and managed to get some things on my to do list  accomplished.  One thing that I’ve been wanting to do for some time is get some of my photo’s printed. 

I went on-line to  Wal-Mart Photo  to save time and money.  I  uploaded and ordered my prints directly from there.

Do you remember the days when you had to have your film developed?  Boy, have we come a long way!

As I was looking at all the photo projects Wal-Mart offers I decided to turn a couple of my pictures into postcards.  

This project was easy and fairly inexpensive, and I was especially pleased with the quality of the cards when they arrived.  Imagine the possibilities…

postcards1 to use

postcards apples and booze 001

Do you have a favorite on-line photo site that you order your photo’s from?  I’d love to hear about it. 

 

Homemade Tootsie Rolls–DIY

I was elated when I found this recipe for homemade Tootsie Rolls from PAULADEAN.COM

These little chocolate confections have always been a favorite of mine, so it was a given that I try making them myself.

Believe it or not, this recipe is probably one of the simplest candy recipes you will ever find.  And while these chocolate flavored little morsels don’t taste exactly like the real thing, they are still worth making.  The flavor is close; it’s the texture that is slightly off.  This recipe makes a softer version of the original Tootsie Roll. 

tootsie roll 059

tootsie roll 060

tootsie roll 061

tootsie 3_001

This is a great kid friendly project.  I found rolling out the candy took a little longer than I had initially had expected.  But the more hands, the merrier.