Monday, November 3, 2014

"Don't Judge A Book By It's Cover" Apple Pie

I've been wanting to make a homemade pie crust for the longest time.  I have always used pre-made store bought pie crusts in the past as 1) they taste good and 2) I was a big chicken to try to make my own.  
I came across a recipe some time ago from Cooks Illustrated that uses Vodka in the recipe as a way to keep the pie crust tender and flaky (something about less gluten than just adding water....blah, blah, blah, too much chemistry for me....).  That particular recipe uses a food processor to bring the dough together.  But I found a very similar recipe that comes together by hand.  It turned out great!  And it was actually super easy to make.  I did add 1 Tbsp of sugar to the recipe.   (Couldn't link to the recipe but search "Easy Vodka Pie Crust" on
This pie was not pretty.  I'll call it rustic.  We'll pretend the flaws add character.  

Funny enough, I do not like apple pie.  I know, I know...then why make one?  Josh loves them.  I just don't like the idea of fruit as a dessert.  It's a side item or snack.  That's all.  I did taste the crust minus the pie and it was really good and flaky.  Josh loved it as well.  This one is a keeper!  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Worm Composting!

Well, 100 creepy crawly worms arrived in my mailbox today.  They have officially moved into their new home and are happily eating our food scraps.  I hope I have crossed all my t's and dotted all my i's and this is going to work!  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Celery Experiment

  So, the other day I came across an article that demonstrated how if you plant the base of celery (remove and use stalks of grocery store purchased celery reserving just the base) it will sprout new stalks.  It seemed too simple, but I tried it and after just one week I have a lot of new shoots coming from the base producing new celery stalks.  I am hoping that once they get large enough to cut and eat that they will be nice and firm.  I'll keep you updated on their progress.  I planted the base in shallow soil with the top barely covered.  I have made sure to water them every other day or so as I read that celery appreciates lots of water.
  One day we hope to have a "real" garden, but in the meantime we are experimenting with growing things in our flower bed.  When we moved in 3 years ago, there was an already prepped flower bed with some ground covering vines growing and plenty of good rich soil.  Now in the flower bed and in some potted planters placed in the flower bed we have the following growing: celery, rosemary, oregano, basil, aloe vera and jalapeƱos.  
  We are also going to being worm composting soon.  I have the worm bin on hand and am gathering some supplies to start the composting bed for them.  The actual red worms have officially been ordered from Ebay this weekend and should be here on or before Thursday.  Can't wait for their arrival!  I will update with the worm composting progress.

                                     New celery stalks coming from the planted base.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

New haircut

Sorry about the foggy/fuzzy pictures.  I really like my new haircut.  I went to a new (to me) stylist with an arsenal of 5 pinterest photos for inspiration, only 2 of which were actually the same haircut.  After blabbing on and on, yet basically saying I don't really know what I want, she worked some magic and I really like her interpretation.  We'll see tomorrow if I can style it in the same way that she did....

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cupcake Quest Part 2 (Cupprimo)

So after being a bit disappointed in our first attempt at finding Austin's best cupcake, we ventured up to North Austin to Cupprimo.  Oh, boy...I might not need to look any further for Austin's best cupcake.  I ordered the Nutella Surprise ~ A chocolate hazelnut cake with Nutella filling and buttercream.  The cake was super dense and heavy but so very soft and moist.  The butterceam icing was good, but had already crusted quite a bit, naturally, and I think I would have liked it quite a bit more had we eaten the cupcakes right after they were made/iced.  It is hard to adequately explain how yummy the cake part was.  You could taste layers of flavor: chocolate, hazelnut and I think possibly coffee.  So, so yummy and filling!  Lucas picked out the Brownie Sundae (brownie cupcake with vanilla buttercream and chocolate ganache) and Zachary had the Double Chocolate (chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream). Thankfully, neither boy could finish their large cupcake which means I got their leftovers for an afternoon snack and after dinner treat.  Zachary's cupcake was very good.  Again, super dense yet moist cake and yummy frosting.  But let me tell you, Lucas's cupcake was heavenly.  I have never had a brownie cupcake, but it was exactly what you would image the marriage of a fudge brownie and a deep chocolate cake to be. Incredible!  This is how much I loved  Cupprimo (or how weird I am):  I couldn't sleep later that night (probably from all the sugar and caffeine) and when I woke up at 3 a.m.ish all I could think was, "must have the brownie or hazelnut  cupcake recipe."  I remembered that Cupprimo was featured on Cupcake Wars and knew that some of the recipes from that show are posted on the Food Network website.  But I didn't know what season and episode featured Cupprimo.  So up at 3am, I watched YouTube videos to find when they were on the show (the episode was a lot of fun to watch as their event was an I love Lucy celebration) and found that they were eliminated after the 2nd round.  Anyway, the recipes from that episode were from the winning team so no Cupprimo cupcake recipe for me.  Oh well....
At Cupprimo there are several daily flavors and the rest rotate.  Large cupcakes are $3 but you can purchase mini cupcakes for $1.  I meant to take a picture of the boys in front of the counter, but between the cupcakes and Krispy Kreme's (just down the street) siren song, I went into a bit of a trance.  But next time I'll remember the picture.  I'll certainly be back!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Quest for the best cupcake in Austin (Part I~ Sugar Mamas Bakeshop)

Let me first admit that this little quest isn't exactly scientific.  Maybe not even fair.   Our Summer adventures include visiting Austin's most popular cupcake bakeries hunting for the BEST Austin cupcake.  To be completely fair, I suppose that we should sample each flavor at the the shops we visit, or at least a big variety.  Well, at at least $3 a cupcake, that just isn't going to happen.  So we visit the bakeries, choose one flavor and try it.  If it's's in the running.  If it's not that great, then we move on.  
Our first visit was to Sugar Mamas Bakeshop.  This cute little shop has a great location in South Austin off of S 1st Street.  Recently, they won on a episode of Cupcake Wars, seen on the Food Network.  I feel like with all the good reviews, we should at some point try this shop again.  Perhaps today was just an off day at the bakery or I just picked the wrong flavor, but the "Marilyn Monroe" that I sampled today was definitely not my favorite cupcake!  While the Madagascar Bourbon vanilla buttercream was very good (not overly sweet, but rich and delicious), the actual cake portion (butter vanilla) was very dry and basically tasteless.  Zachary chose the same flavor and only finished 1/2 of his.  Lucas chose a "Back to School Special" (Wish I would have picked that one now too.  He ate the whole thing and said it was delicious....I didn't even get a taste!) which is a chocolate cake with marshmallow cream filling and a ganache frosting top.  They have a few flavors that they make daily and have a rotation of various flavors that they make the other days of the week (closed Mondays).  There were a few more flavors that looked appealing, so perhaps we will try this out again to give it a fair shot.  But for now, the hunt continues....

Zachary wasn't excited about having his photo taken!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Flower cake for Bake A Wish

Birthday cake for Janey.  She wanted a vanilla cake with white and pink flowers.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Baby shower cake with vintage deer and ruffle buttercream

School is out which means I have some extra time to bake and practice some new cake decorating techniques.  I have been wanting to make this style of cake for some time and finally got the chance this weekend.  I love the look of the vintage deer with soft pink ruffles.  Would be so cute as a baby shower cake or for a little girl's birthday.  This particular cake is going to a potluck tomorrow.  I hope to make more of these through my catering website:

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Family Fun

We were so happy to get to travel to Dallas this weekend to spend time with family and celebrate my niece's 5th birthday.

 I think Zachary is so handsome!  Can't believe he will be in Jr High this next fall!

Josh's sweet grandparents!

My niece's Hello Kitty cake

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring cake experiment

I wanted to experiment with a buttercream transfer, so I made this little 8 inch spring cake this morning.  Lessons learned:  *Use a thinner line for the outline.  The smallest tip I had was a 3 and I didn't want to trek to the cake store for a 1. I will next time!  The thick outline makes the cake look a bit too juvenile. *Make a smaller border.  I like the big swirly shell border on cakes, but I covered up too much of the bunny.  (I admit part of the choice to use a large border was to cover up some mistakes!)

I used the leftover icing to make a few little cakes that to me look like wedding shower cakes:

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Africa Birthday Cake

Per the birthday boy's request...Africa cake with soccer balls in blue, gray and yellow.  Happy birthday to my now 11 year old Zachary!!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Leopard cake

Newest cake for Bake A Wish.  This cake drove me crazy!  First, the chocolate cake I baked turned out too short for my liking, so I baked another one to create more hight.  Then ended up having to shave a bit off the top so it would fit in the cake box I purchased.  When it was time to put on the crumb coat,  I was left with the messiest, crumbiest cake I have ever worked with!  It was ridiculous! Finally I got the cake iced and the edible image on.  This morning when I got up to finish the cake, there were huge air bubbles all over(under) the edible image.  This is a first!  I popped them with a pin and rubbed the image flat, and thankfully it worked, but what a pain.  The leopard print in buttercream and I used a popular leopard cupcake tutorial that I found on Pinterest. That was the easiest part of the cake.  About 1/2 way through, Josh came into the kitchen and asked what I was making on the cake.  "Are those little pork chops?" he said!!!!  Uggh!  This cake!  I was HATING this cake! I do like the finished cake, but it is a bit wonky design wise.  The Bake A Wish kid wanted a chocolate cake with vanilla leopard print and an edible image of her photo on it.  She did NOT want any writing.  In hindsight I should have colored the white base icing light brown, but by the time I thought to do that, I was already WAY too sick of this cake and just wanted to be done!  The photos here are a bit odd, only because I can't print a photo of the child due to confidentiality issues.  ;)