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Fondant Basics

I am not usually a baker for hire. Especially cakes. They take so long and frustrate me. I can never get them as perfect as I want and I end up feeling (in a very overly dramatic fashion) that they are a complete disaster. A friend of Mr. Fits asked me to make a Monkey Cake for the baby shower she was throwing for her sister and her sisters wife to welcome their baby boy. Maybe it was the mushy soft spot that I now have for babies since Tater was born (this did not really exist prior to birth of my adorable little lady) or maybe it’s how easy it is to guilt me into baking by merely asking, but I said yes. *sigh*

Fondant 101

If you’re not sure what the stuff is that covers those cakes, it’s fondant. It’s a sugar dough that is rolled out like cookie dough to cover a cake and can even be sculpted, like clay, for decorations. If you have an interest in giving it a try, you should. It takes a little practice but general gives a very impressive look to your cakes.

I have been working with fondant for about 5 years and I have learned a thing or two about this sugar dough that I’ll share with you all.

First, it’s not very tasty. Really, even the good kinds don’t really add to the taste of a great cake. I have never, ever heard anyone say, "This cake tastes really good, but you know what it needs? A nice layer of fondant." It’ll never happen. It’s use is purely aesthetic. If you can perfect the technique of buttercream your cake can look just as good and taste somewhere around a million times better, but that’s for a different post.

Fondat can be difficult to work with, but if you really want to make a cake that  has a professional look to it, this is a great option.

There are three brands of fondant that I have worked with, and as far as my experience goes, these are the three main brands:

Wilton

Satin Ice

 Fondx

The basic rule, when it comes to yummy vs easy, is that the better it tastes the more difficult it is to work with.

Wilton is at the bottom of the yumminess food chain. It tasted like sugary play-dough. I would however, suggest you start here if you have never given fondant a try. Wilton fondant is a tank compared to the other two. It’s forgiving and tough. Use it your first time to get a feel for how to use fondant then move on when you think you’re ready.  Just let your guests know that, although it is edible, you would recommend peeling it off before eating the cake.

Satin Ice is far superior to Wilton in the taste department, but, it’s a bitch to work with. I’ve renamed it Satan Ice and probably won’t use it for cake covering ever again. It has a great flavor and tends to blend well with the frosting but it is extremely fragile, cracking and tearing easily. It is a great option for molding decorations or adorable little monkey mommas and babies.

Fondx, and Elite by Fondx are my favorite. Not as yummy as Satin Ice (although some would disagree), but much easier to work with. It isn’t as hearty as Wiltons, but it is much tastier.

Fondant comes in nearly every color you can imagine and is much easier if you buy it pre-colored. The draw back to this is cost. If you look at the monkey cake picture, you can see there are 9 different colors. If I was to buy 9 different colors of fondant it would cost me about $150. Since I’m pretty sure no one wants to pay that much for a cake that only serves a few dozen, coloring fondant is the way to go. I buy white and then use gel food coloring to achieve the color I want. The use of gel is important in order to keep a solid consistency to your fondant, instead of turning your fondant to a sticky mess with too much liquid. Just add a bit of the gel to your white fondant and knead until the color is consistent. If it starts to turn mushy, add some powdered sugar.

You need to ice your cake at least two separate times. Some call the first icing a crumb coat, because the cake crumbs will invade this first layer, and others (including myself) call it dirty ice, because it sounds more fun. Allow first layer of icing to set completely, about an hour.

The next coat is your final coat and it helps to smooth everything out and cover any bumps or holes in your cake. Think of fondant as that super shiny, thin bridesmaid dress that makes you look awful and shows every flaw, and you would never be caught dead it in it, let alone PHOTOGRAPHED in it over and over, if you didn’t really love your friend–and the final ice is the Spanx that allowed you to keep your sanity and hit on the cute bartender. The final ice is the compression garment of the cake world, makes everything look smooth and pretty.

Fondant will show every imperfection so make sure your final ice is as smooth as you can make it. If you need to go for round 3 on icing, then do that.

Roll out your dough, on a flat surface covered with powdered sugar, the way you would roll out pie dough. Make sure that you roll out a circle large enough to cover your cake with at least a two inch overhang on all sides.  To transfer your dough to your cake, you can either use an extra set of hands, or you can try and slide a large cardboard sheet (like a cake board) underneath.

Once its over your cake use your hands to smooth it down the cake. Start at the top and work your way down.

Using a sharp paring knife or a pizza cutter, remove the excess fondant.

The bottom will probably look a bit rough. Making a perfectly even cut around the bottom is very difficult so don’t beat yourself up about it, just cover it up. To do this, I have used the following:

Long strip of fondant

Small balls made of fondant

Candy gumballs

Marshmallows

Mini cupcakes

If you look at novelty cakes, most of them have some type of bottom boarder.

To get that powdered sugar off the cake, I use a clean make-up blush brush that I bought specifically for the job.

To make the cake shine, spray the fondant with vodka. The alcohol will evaporate so you don’t have to worry about getting the pregnant lady drunk at her own baby shower. I use a small travel sized spray bottle that was probably intended for transporting hairspray across TSA lines.

If you have ever used clay, fondant reacts in similar ways when sculpted. There is an adorable British girl who has several You Tube posts about making fondant animals.

Good luck in your caking adventures. Remember that every cake is a learning process and your first cake won’t be perfect, it’ll be a starting point.

4th of July Treat: Patriotic Mini Pies on Sticks

Clearly, from my recent posts, I have a soft spot in my heart for childhood treats. When these babies were finished, they tasted like Pop-tarts. Strawberry Pop-tarts, which were always the best ones. I loved these so much that I am even going to give you all the cheater notes. And by this I mean the shortcuts to make them in about 15 minutes. While I am a strong advocate for making everything from scratch, I also realize that most people don’t love to spend all day in the kitchen (whaaaat???). So, you can follow my long direction (highly recommended route) or you can go out on your own with pre-made pie dough, strawberry jam (at least buy the good kind) and a cookie cutter.

Mini Pies on Sticks

Pie Dough:

(adapted from Fool Proof Pie Dough, Cooks illustrated 2007)

3 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbs sugar

10 tbs butter (1 stick plus 2 tbs), cut into cubes

1/2 cup shortening

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup cold water

Strawberry Filling:

1 cup of sugar

1 tbs corn starch

3 tbs unsalted butter

2 cups of diced strawberries

Egg Wash:

1 egg white

1 tsp water

plus 2 tbs sugar for sprinkling

Royal Icing:

1 egg white

1 tbs lemon juice

1.5 cups powdered sugar

PLUS:

16, 6 inch wooden skewers

Really, if you have the time, homemade pie dough is the jam. It is so far superior to that store bough nonsense that it could stand on it’s own. You could even make cookies out of it and eat it plain. I have been over this before but there are a few pie dough rules that one must never deviate from:

1. Cold dough will always cook better than warm.

2. The less it is worked with, the more tender it is. Don’t overwork your dough.

3.  Using vodka creates a flakier crust because it cooks off completely, unlike water.

First, food processors are great at getting the job done as quickly as possible, and as previously mentioned, the more you mess with dough the tougher it becomes. So break out that food processor and add 2 cups of the flour, salt and sugar and give it a quick pulse until it’s combined.

Add the cubes of butter and the shortening and pulse until combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. A mix of shortening and butter gives a good flavor and texture.

Now, if you have a larger food processor that mine, then add the remaining flour and pulse until it gathers around the blade. MINE is tiny and I need a new one. So if you are in the same boat as I am, just transfer it to a bowl and add the remaining flour by hand. (if you have a nice big guy food processor, transfer to a bowl after you add the remaining flour)

Then add the water and the vodka and squish it into the dough until its all combined. Your dough will be very moist, but you can add a bit of flour if it is too moist to hold together. Then split into two evenly sized disks and wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours.

To make the filling, add the sugar and cornstarch to a pot and stir quickly to combine. Add the butter and strawberries and stir over medium heat until the berries are broken down and the sauce is thick and dark. Allow to cool

Once the dough has chilled, roll it out on a floured surface. If it breaks up, which it may since it is a pretty flakey recipe, just smoosh it back together with your fingers. Cut out your desired shape, 3-4 inches seems to be ideal. I used stars because of our upcoming I Heart America holiday, as well as 3 inch circles. Place the bottom circle on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Place the stick more at least halfway up into your shape and top with a spoonful of the sauce.

Now, quickness is key at this point. Place a matching shape on top and smoosh the edges together.

I had some red and white straws left over from Taters party that I bought from Sweet Lulu’s that I used for sticks on a few of the pies. I wasn’t sure it they would bake well so I only did a few. I just pinched the  top shut and placed it on the star cutouts. I liked them so much that the ones that had boring ol' 6 inch wooden skewers were covered with those cute striped straws to match. Refrigerate your pies for at least 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, beat the egg white and the water until combined. Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are goldeny brown.

Allow to cool. If the filling leaks out, its OK. Just try and cut around the shapes with a sharp knife before trying to remove from the pan.

In a small bowl, combine the royal icing ingredients and stir until well combined. Top the pies with the icing and then with the sprinkles of your choice.


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Junior Mint Cupcakes

 

 

I have a confession to make. I really don’t like mint. I respect mint as a flavor and agree with the idea of it…but I don’t love it. There was on ordeal a few years ago when I was in Middle Atlas, Morocco that will always be refereed to as the Moroccan Mint Experience. Overall, I would classify this episode in the "good experience" category, but either way, I have a hard time eating mint ever since. Mr. Fits, however, is a huge fan. And although I don’t prefer mint, I still really loved these cupcakes.

How cute are those cupcake papers? I got them at Bake it Pretty. I love baking cupcakes in something other than standard cupcake papers, makes them feel special.

Junior Mint Cupcakes

Chocolate cake:

2 2/3 cup flour

1 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/4 cup of brewed coffee, cooled

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 sticks of unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups of sugar

1 tsp vanila extract

2 eggs

Mint Buttercream:

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp natural mint extract

Chocolate Sauce:

1 cup dark chocolate chunks

2/3 cup heavy cream

Garnish with Junior Mints if desired.

Preheat the oven to 350. in a large bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sift to combined. in another bowl, add the buttermilk, coffee and oil. In a stand mixer, add the butter and cream until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and while the mixer is on high, slowly add the sugar and cream until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time. With the mixer on medium speed, alternating between the wet and dry ingredients, add each a bit at a time until all three are well combined in the stand mixer. If you are using the cute brown floret baking cups, just place them on a baking sheet, they don’t need to go in a muffin tin. If you are using standard cupcake papers, just line them in the muffin tin as normal. Fill standard cupcake papers 2/3 of the way full and cute floret papers only 1/2 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20-25 minutes.

Mint Buttercream

In a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Your butter needs to be softened, cold butter won’t work. With the mixer on a low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar until all combined (you can add less if you prefer a less sweet frosting). Then add the milk and the extract and beat until well combined.

Chocolate sauce

Place the chocolate in a heat safe bowl. Heat the cream until hot and steam, but not boiling (microwave is fine but you can also heat on the stove) and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Stir for about 3 minutes or until well combined. If you have never made ganache or chocolate sauce you may get a bit concerned about half way through. It is completely normal for your sauce to look like chunky chocolate milk for the first few minutes, just keep stirring and it’ll all work out.

Once your cupcakes are cool, pipe the buttercream on, top with a spoon full of the chocolate sauce then a Junior Mint, if you’d like.

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

 

More lemon. I  know, My citrus obsession is reaching a bit of a fevered pitch. Summer, to me, is lemon flavored.

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

Shortbread cookie crust:

2 cups of flour

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 stick plus 6 tbs unsalted butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp butter extract

Lemon Curd:

2 tbs lemon zest

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup white sugar

3/4 cup lemon juice

5 tbs unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Meringue:

4 egg whites

1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

In a bowl, add the flour, powdered sugar and the salt, whisk until well combined. In a stand mixer cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the granulated sugar, then the extracts, beating until well combined. Add the flour mixture, about 1/4 a cup at a time, and beat as little as possible until your dough is combined and the butter is mixed through. You can also finish by squishing with your hands to make sure the butter is well incorporated. Your dough will look like course meal. Put 1 tbs of the dough into a muffin tin (grease it with some butter flavored cooking spray first) and pack it into the bottom, about one inch up onto the sides to resemble a mini tart shell.

Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. Heat the oven to 350 and then bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges start to turn a golden brown.

 

Lemon curd:

Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and yolks to a bowl and mix well. Add the lemon mixture to a pan over medium/low heat along with the butter

Whisk until thickened, about 8 minutes. Once the mini tart shells are cooled, spoon in the curd.

Meringue. Add the egg whites (not a hint of yolk or this will never work), cream of tartar and salt to a stand mixer and beat on high until stiff peaks form. While the mixer is still on high, slowly add the sugar and continue to beat until well combined and stiffly peaked.

Top the mini tarts with the meringue.

You can brulee them a touch with the kitchen torch if you’d like

Enjoy!

Homemade Twix

 

I’m not a big candy bar eatin' person, but there is something about Twix that I love. It really is pretty simple when you break it down: shortbread, caramel and chocolate. That’s it. I also added chopped pecans and salt to a few. Yum.

Homemade Twix

Ingredients:

SHORTBREAD

1 cup of flour

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick plus 3 tbs unsalted butter (11 tbs)

2 tbs granulated sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp butter extract

CARAMEL SAUCE

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 tbs light corn syrup

2 tbs room temp water

1/4 cup of heavy cream, warm

2 tbs unsalted butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

CHOCOLATE

1 cup chocolate, broken up into chunks (I used 56%)

2 tbs butter

1 tbs heavy cream (plus up to 2 tbs more, if needed)

1 tbs light corn syrup

In a bowl, add the flour, powdered sugar and the salt, whisk until well combined. In a stand mixer cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar slowly, then the extracts, beating until well combined. Add the flour mixture, about 1/4 a cup at a time, and beat as little as possible until your dough is combined and the butter is mixed through. You can also finish by squishing with your hands to make sure the butter is well incorporated. Your dough will look like course meal.

hmt-crust-in-kaPlace the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a log about 10 inches long. Wrap the plastic wrap around your log and CHILL FOR AT LEAST 3 HOURS.

Super important that your dough is cold before cooking, I’ll talk about this over and over, but it’s so true. Cold dough cooks better.

Once the shortbread is cooled, cut off about 1 inch circles

hmt-s-circlesand mold into little logs, about 3 inches long and the width of a finger,

hmt-sfand then make a well down the length of the shortbread finger.

hmt-sf-wellThis recipe should make about 24. Place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

hmt-poHeat the oven to 300. Bake for about 8-12 minutes or until the shortbread starts to brown along the very bottom edge.

hmt-ooCaramel sauce. This can be scary if you’ve never made it, but it’s pretty simple. put the sugar, corn syrup and water in a sauce pan and stir over high heat until everything is well combined and the sugar starts to boil (use a wooden spoon of a spatula that is very heat resistant, cheap plastic will melt). Stop stirring completely and allow to boil undisturbed. Watch until the caramel turns amber, then remove from the heat and add the warm cream slowly (you can heat it in the microwave or on the stove) while stirring. Then add the butter and the vanilla and stir until smooth.

Once the cookies are cool, spoon the caramel sauce along the well

hmt-caramel-filland place on a wire rack over parchment paper. In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate, corn syrup, 1 tbs cream, and butter

ccp-chocolate-ingredients-premeltand microwave for 20 seconds, stir and repeat until smooth and creamy. You can add more cream if the chocolate is not smooth enough to pour. Spoon the chocolate sauce over the cookie and allow to drip over the sides.

hmt-chocolate-pourAllow the chocolate to cool before serving.

 

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Farmers Market + Recipe: Roasted & Stuffed Tomatoes

This week I started writing a regular feature for the Glendale Examiner on farmers markets and creating original recipes from what I find there. I love all of what is involved in the previous statement. Farmers markets are one of favorite places to be. Cooking and writing recipes has become a part of who I am. Writing is a skill that I have dedicated myself to learning. And I get to photograph the entire adventure. Now if only this hobby would pay the bills and I could finally quit my day job! Maybe someday, with a lot of work, I’ll be able to tittle my post: I Quit My Job + A Recipe.

The La Canada farmers market is only about a mile from my house. It sits right below the Angeles National Forest, still charred from a fire that ravaged it a few years ago. Although on the smaller side, this particular market has a diverse selection of goods including homemade cheese, imported salts and fresh caught seafood. You can read more about my adventures at the La Canada Market on my Examiner page. 

The produce was incredible. So beautiful.

lc-tomatoes
lc-asparagus

Of all the booths, none captured my heart like Hepp’s Salt Barrel.

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salt

I have a special place in my heart for great salt and Hepp’s does it better than most. Don’t ever underestimate the power a great salt has on your cooking. Used properly it can make your food taste 20% better. You can make the same dish as the guy next to you and your salt will make people remember yours and forget his. It has a sneaky way of hiding in your dish, it’s own flavor largely concealed, springing up and grabbing onto the flavors of the other ingredients, brightening and popping them. If a dish tastes “flat” it’s most likely due to salt not being able to do his job.  Salt on the caliber that Hepp’s offers is also a fantastic gift for a foodie, just sayin’.

Somehow, after only a few minutes in his booth, I began to develops a slight crush on Country Fresh Herbs. I was so incredibly impressed by how beautiful and, well, fresh everything looked. It was like produce heaven. My favorite was the Shisido peppers, this is what I want my Trick Or Treat basket to look like next year:

lc-shisido-peppersAfter an hour of wandering among the booths, being sidetracked again and again, I selected 5 ingredients and slowly formulated a recipe.

lc-ingredientsRoasted Tomatoes Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Asparagus

Ingredients:

5 Beefsteak Tomatoes

1 tbs Olive Oil, plus ¼ cup divided

¾ cup Fresh Asparagus, chopped (top half of the stalks only)

1 tbs Chopped Shisido Peppers, seeds removed

½ tsp Salt, plus 1 tsp divided

½ tsp black pepper

1/3 cup Goat Cheese

¼ Cup Israeli Cous Cous

Preheat oven to 425. In a skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tbs olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the asparagus, peppers, ½ tsp salt and pepper, cooking until the vegetables are slightly soft, about 5 minutes.

lc-asp-choppedRemove from heat, allowing to cool a bit. Cut a thin slice off the top of every tomato, enough to expose the insides. Using a spoon, remove the flesh and seeds from the inside of each tomato, leaving the walls and bottomintact.

lc-tomatoes-hulledAdd the goat cheese and Cous Cous to the asparagus pan, stir until combined. In a large bowl, add the remaining olive oil and salt, toss the tomatoes until well coated. Place the tomatoes in a baking dish, cut side up. Fill each tomato with the goat cheese and asparagus mixture.

lc-tomatoes-poCover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Although not officially part of this recipe, I sprinkled each tomato with a bit of my Hepps salt before eating. I might have an addiction in the making.

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

I’ve had a thing for citrus lately. I can’t stop thinking of all the yummy food that can be made with lemons and limes. Maybe its my way of sending good vibes to the lime tree that I planted three years ago that has produced all of 2 limes it’s entire life. I admit that even though I grew up on some what of a farm (old tractor from my parents farm as quasi proof)

I have managed to kill nearly everything I have ever planted. Although, I am holding out hope for my little lime tree.

Ingredients:

Cake batter:

2 cups of flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 stick of butter

1/2 cups of sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tbs vanilla extract

4 egg whites

3/4 cup of whole milk

1/4 cup of oil

Crust:

3 1/2 cups of lemon shortbread cookies

1 tbs brown sugar

6 tbs melted butter

Filling:

8 oz of softened cream cheese

1/4 cup of sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 tbs lime zest

1/4 cup of lime juice

Lime Buttercream:

4 sticks of butter

3 cups of powdered sugar

1 tbs lime zest

1/3 cup of lime juice

1/2 cup of milk

Preheat oven to 350.

You’ll need a lot of limes for this recipe, I used about 12, but it all depends on size. Start with the crust. Put the shortbread cookies and the brown sugar in a food processor and process until nothin is left but crumbs.

tart-lemon-cookiesAdd the melted butter and pulse until it looks like wet sand.

line muffin pan (this recipe should make 24) with cupcake papers. Add 1/2 tbs of the crust to the bottom of the papers and pack well. Save the left over crust to sprinkle on top of the finished cupcakes.

klc-crust-in-papersMake the cake batter. I have been playing with my vanilla cake recipe for years and this might be the winner. I’ve always used a combo of whites and yolks, but because I wanted it really light I just used whites and it turned out beautifully.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter (softened!) and sugar and cream until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk until well combined. In another bowl, add the milk and oil.

A bit at a time, add the egg whites to the butter and beat on high until well combined and fluffy. With mixer on medium, add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, alternating between the two until everything is just combined (don’t over beat).

Add the batter to the cupcake papers until about 1/2 filled.

klc-batter-in-tinsMake the cheesecake filling.

In a stand mixer, cream the cream cheese and the sugar until well combined. Add the egg, lime juice, and lime zest and beat until combined. And please, please, please use real limes and not that stuff that comes in a bottle or a plastic squeezey lime.

Back to the batter in the cupcake papers. Using a spoon, make a well in the middle but pushing the batter up onto the sides of the cupcake papers, try not to disturb the crust but if you expose it, its fine.

klc-batter-wellFill the well with about 1 tbs of the cream cheese mixture.

klc-poBake the cupcakes for about 35 minutes or until the cake part is springy and slightly golden brown, the filling will still be jiggly.

klc-ooWhile that’s baking, make the frosting. I have to say that although these cupcakes turned out amazing (I would even go as far as to say top 5 I’ve ever made) my only complaint was that there wasn’t a huge differentiation between the filling and the frosting. I’ve used this method to fill cupcakes with cheesecake before and I really like it. I always top my cheesecake filled cupcakes with a whipped cream frosting and I’m not sure why I went to butter cream. Next time I make these I’ll make a lime whipped cream (2 cups of heavy cream, 1 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1 tsp lime zest in a stand mixer on high for 3 minutes). Here is the butter cream steps, feel free to use whichever frosting you like. Both are super yummy.

In a stand mixer (that stand mixer got quite a work out today, unlike myself) add the softened butter and beat to make sure all the lumps are out. You HAVE to use soften, borderline warm, butter or your frosting will have the consistency of ground beef. Add the sugar and cream.

klc-batter-in-kaThen add the lime juice, zest and milk then beat until well combined.

My cheater piping bag is just a large ziplock bag with a corner cut off. It makes frosting cupcakes really easy, they look amazing AND I don’t have to dig out my really piping bags or clean them later.

klc-piping-bagklc-pre-toppingSprinkle with the left over crust and enjoy.

My floating cupcake shot:

klc-finished-floatingklc-one-biteklc-one-bite-top

Lemon Creme Brulee

I had this brilliant idea to serve the lemon creme brulee in a hollowed out lemon. Looks adorable right? Well…don’t try it. It turns out, it’s not a good idea. However, I was smart enough to make this delicious citrusy custard in ramekins as well and that turned out amazing. Next time I make this, and I will make it again, I’ll make it in this tart shell and serve it with this whipped cream.

Don’t be afraid of Creme Brulee. If you’ve never made it, you should try. All home cooks should have a list of five recipes that they want to master. Shoot high. Really. Nothing is off limits and Creme Brulee is a great place to start. It’s a classic recipe, its beautiful, sounds super fancy, and it’s pretty simple.  Creme Brulee tarts are also a great dessert to pull out for guests, guaranteed to evoke major OOOOOHHHH’s.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 tbs vanilla extract

2 tsp lemon zest

4 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar, plus another 1/4 cup for the topping

2 tbs lemon juice

Special equipment needed:

Culinary torch. Don’t be affraid of this either. Easy to use and not expensive. Mr. Fits bought me one at Crate and Barrel. But you can also buy them at Target and Amazon. You’ll also needbutane for it.

Most people cook them in ramekins, but you can use any oven safe, small, shallow dish, a tart or pie shell.

Once you have these three things you can make as much Creme Brulee as much as you want! You’re all set.

Preheat the oven to 300.

Put the cream, vanilla and the zest in a sauce pan over medium heat. cook just until its bubbly around the edges but not boiling. Remove from heat, cover and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of sugar and the lemon juice. Whisk until frothy, about 3 minutes.

While continuing to whisk, slowly add the cream mixture until well combined.

At this point, I cut up about 4 lemons to make the cups. Because the custard has to bake in the cups and then sit for 4 hours until set, the dessert leached too much bitterness from the white rind making it borderline inedible. The cups where really beautiful, so if I ever make a dessert that doesn’t need to be baked and can be served immediately (mousse, curd, pudding) I would make them again. I would coat the inside with lemon juice, then with sugar. I’d serve Lemon Mousse in these.

Using a paring knife and a spoon, I cut out the pulp and juiced it.

lcb-cutlcb-rind-cup

But, for this recipe DON’T make these. Use a ramekin or a tart shell (just have to reiterate that. It was a waste of perfectly yummy custard)

Put your ramekins in a baking dish, filling the baking dish with about 1 inch of water (if you are using a tart crust or pie shell, skip this).

Pour your custard through a mesh strainer into your designated Creme Brulee vessel.

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Cover the baking dish or tart with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool, at room temp, in the water filled baking dish for 30 minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow to chill and set in the fridge for 4 hours. Right before serving, cover the top of your set custard with an even, thin layer of about of sugar (about 1/2-1 tsp). Then run your culinary torch over your sugar, slowly, until it melts and turns an amber color. Don’t touch it. I know, sounds like it should go without saying, but sometimes you get curious and you really WANT to touch it to see if its set or not, and it burns you and you yell profanities and scare your husband.

Another tip: Don’t brulee the sugar until you are ready to serve. After about an hour of just sitting there, the sugar will start to liquify again.

Roasted Garlic and Spinach Muffins Stuffed With Goat Cheese

I love to stuff food with other food. It’s so fun to try and figure out exactly how that can be done. These turned out beautifully, but if you would rather not eat stuffed muffins, you can always serve the goat cheese mixture as a spread.

Ingredients:

1 head of garlic

1-2 tbs olive oil

6 tbs of butter

1 cup of chopped fresh spinach

1/4 cup of onion, chopped

2 1/2 cups of flour

3 tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbs rosemary, minced

1 1/3 cup whole milk

1/4 cup oil

2 eggs

5 oz goat cheese

1/4 cup chopped tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

Makes 12 muffins

Preheat oven to 400. If you have never roasted garlic before, it’s time you start. I love roasted garlic so much, its great to add to so many recipes or just use as a spread on toast. Plus, it smells amazing.  Start by chopping off the top of the garlic to expose the cloves inside. Put him on a sheet of aluminum foil and pour about 1-2 tbs of olive oil over him, salt and pepper.

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Close the foil into a tight package, put in a baking dish and cook for about 30-40 minutes or until garlic is soft.

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While the garlic is roasting, heat the butter in sauce pan over medium heat until melted and bubbly. Add the onions and the spinach and saute until onions are translucent and spinach is soft. Allow to cool

in a large bowl, add the flour, salt, rosemary and baking powder and whisk until well combined. make a well in the center. In another bowl, add the eggs, milk and oil. Once your garlic is done cooking and you have allowed him to cool a bit. Squeeze the garlic into the liquids bowl and break up the pieces as much as you can. Make sure that the papery skin doesn’t make it into the bowl. Stir the wet ingredients until well combined. Add the wet ingredients and the butter/spinach mixture to the well you made in the dry ingredients and still until combined, but don’t over mix. Add the batter to a greased muffin tin until each well is about 2/3 full.

In a small bowl, add the goat cheese, tomatoes, salt and pepper.

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Mix until combined and then form balls with your hands using about 2 tsp of the cheese mixture.

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Add the cheese balls to the middle of the batter filled muffin tin, press down slightly.

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Put the muffin tin in the refrigerator and allow to chill for 15 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

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Salad with Egg Yolk Dressing in a Bacon Basket

There is a beautiful restaurant in Chicago called the Blackbird. They have this amazing little salad that they serve in a crispy basket made out of potatoes. So brilliant. This got me thinking about other foods that would make great crispy edible baskets…bacon.Of course.

It really doesn’t matter what kind of salad you serve this on top of, because the bacon and egg yolk are clearly the star. I just used what I had on hand.

Ingredients:

2 cups of chopped fresh spinach

1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers

2 tbs shredded fresh parmesan

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs balasmic vinegar

1 tsp crouse ground mustard

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

2-4 strips of bacon (depending on thickness)

1 egg yolk (or two, if you’re like me and pop the first on when trying to separate it from the whites)

Start with the bacon. Preheat oven to 350. Take one or two strips and line the inside walls of a muffin pan. I had really thick bacon so that’s what I used, but I think the next time I make this, super thin bacon would work really well. Cut a second strip in half and use it to line the bottom of the pan, overlapping with the sides.

bacon-cup-rawBake until its stable enough to hold together on its own, about 15 minutes, but again, this will depend on your  bacon thickness. Transfer to a baking dish and continue to cook until its crispy.

bacon-cup-cooking(At this point, you may want to add a pot of water to the stove to boil.)

While your bacon basket is crisping, assemble your salad veggies on a plate. Add the oil, vinegar, and mustard to a bowl and stir it up

salad-dressingThen add the lemon and stir some more.

salad-dressing-lemonTop the salad with the dressing, salt and pepper and toss a bit. Add the beautiful bacon basket to the top.

Separate your egg yolk from your white and flash poach. I’m not completely sure if “Flash Poach” is an actual term, but in Fits Land it means to poach for one minute in rapidly boiling water until the yolk is slightly encapsulated so that it doesn’t break apart upon entering afore mentioned crispy basket.

salad-flash-poachAdd the egg yolk to the basket and stand back and revel in the beauty of a salad that you can’t wait to eat.

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Chocolate Cherry Pie with CHOCOLATE PIE DOUGH!!!

CCP finished slice

It’s pretty clear by my excessive use of capitalization what my favorite part of this pie is. I woke up in the middle of the night (I know, overly dramatic for a food blog post) with the idea of a chocolate pie dough crust. After a quick google search I wasn’t able to find a recipe for inspiration, leading my to wonder if my midnight dessert vision wasn’t even possible. By only modifying my go-to pie dough crust, It turns out that it is VERY possible, and super tasty.

CHOCOLATE PIE DOUGH!!! Ingredients:

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 2/3 cup of all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbs sugar

8 tbs butter (1 stick), cut into cubes

1/2 cup shortning

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup cold water

Pie Filling ingredients:

1 1/4 cup sugar

3 tbs cornstarch

5 cups of fresh bing cherries

3 tbs lemon juice from a real life lemon, none of that squeeze bottle crap (about 1 large lemon’s worth)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate, broken up into chunks (I used 56%)

3 tbs butter

1 tbs light corn syrup

2 tbs butter (for crust assembly)

plus 2 tbs white sugar to sprinkle on top before cooking

I did some pretty extensive research on pie dough over the past few years and I’ve learned a few things that I’ll pass on to you all. First, food processors are great at getting the job done as quickly as possible, and we all know that the more you mess with dough the tougher it becomes. So break out that food processor and add the cocoa, 2 cups of the flour, salt and sugar and give it a quick pulse until it’s combined.

ccp-crsut-fp-dryAdd the cubes of butter and the shortening and pulse until combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. A mix of shortening and butter gives a good flavor and texture.

ccp-dough-in-fpNow, if you have a larger food processor that mine, then add the remaining flour and pulse until it gathers around the blade. MINE is tiny and I need a new one. So if you are in the same boat as I am, just transfer it to a bowl and add the remaining flour by hand. (if you have a nice big guy food processor, transfer to a bowl after you add the remaining flour)

ccp-crust-bowlThen add the water and the vodka and squish it into the dough until its all combined. Vodka is another tip I picked up during my dough research. It cooks off completely (unlike water) creating a super flakey crust. Your dough will be very moist, but you can add a bit of flour if it is too moist to hold together. Then split into two evenly sized disks and wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for AT LEAST AN HOUR, super important, don’t skip this step.

ccp-dough-circles-wrappedYou can chill it for a few days if you need to, in that case, put the wrapped circles in a zip lock bag.

Before you get to the cherries, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice and vanilla in a large bowl and set aside.

ccp-sugar-cs-lemonNow, get out those beautiful cherries

ccp-cherries-asYou’ll have to pit them, so I hope you have a pitter. You can buy them for about $8 and its totally worth it.

ccp-cherry-pittinTo pit 5 cups, it should only take about 10 minutes. Unless, your daughter needs a nap and she won’t sleep and you can hear her jumping in her crib throwing bedtime bunny, sleepy time bug, and her sippy cup across the room and you have to go in and lay her down and tell her that she is a tired lady and she needs to go nigh night….in that case, it may take longer.

Add the pitted cherries to the sugar mixture bowl and stir until the cherries are well coated. Allow to rest for about 30 minutes.

ccp-cherries-bowl-restingGet your cold dough out of the fridge and place it on a well floured surface. I’m not gonna lie to you, this is not the easiest dough to work with. It’ll need a lot of flour on both sides, flour the top to make sure it doesn’t stick to your rolling pin. roll out into a circle large enough to fit into your pie pan with only a little over hang. If it breaks apart, just smoosh it back together with your fingers.

ccp-crust-rolledTransfer to your pie pan, if it breaks, again, just push the cracks back together.

ccp-crust-in-panin a microwave safe bowl, add your chocolate chunks, butter and corn syrup.

ccp-chocolate-ingredients-premeltMicrowave for 20 seconds, stir and repeat until all melty. Pour the chocolate into the crust and smooth out to make an even layer.

ccp-crust-with-chocolateThen add your beautiful cherries

ccp-crust-with-fillinOK, so by this point I was a little fed up with my crust, so the double crust plan was altered a bit. If you want to roll out circle #2 and make it a double crust, be my guest. I decided to roll out #2 and cut him up with two mini cookie cutters. You can also cut strips to do a lattice top.

ccp-crust-cut-outsI then layered them on the top to create parallel lines, brushing each cutout with melted butter to help them adhere to each other

ccp-top-butterI then filed in a bit of the blank spaces with randomly placed cutouts and sprinkled the top with sugar

ccp-oven-readyBy this point you may be thinking, “Why didn’t she ask me to preheat the oven? Did she forget? should I just set it to my go-to 350?” Nope. This is one of those pearls of pie dough wisdom that I am passing on. Ice cold dough cooks better than room temp dough. SInce we have worked this pie dough over pretty good, it needs to rest and chill before going into the oven. SO now, turn the oven on and set it to 475 and place your pie in the fridge to chill. Wait about 20 minutes and then bake your pie at 475 for about 15 minutes. Then, turn your oven down to 375 and finish baking for about 45 minutes or until the filling is thick and bubbly. If your crust looks like it is browning too much, cover it in foil.

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ccp-finished-in-pan-cut

Mini Smores Cheesecakes

If we asked everyone who grew up in America to write down the dessert that most reminded them of summer, I’d bet some good cash that Smores would end up on top. Since memorial day is the unofficial kick off of the summer season, I wanted to reinvent this iconic treat to welcome in the season.

Ingredients:

Batter:

20 oz cream cheese

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

3/4 cup of sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup melted chocolate (I used 56%, because that’s what I had)

2 tbs unsweetened cocoa

Crust:

9 graham crackers

1 tbs brown sugar

1/2 stick of butter, melted

Topin:

3 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350

In a stand mixer (this is what I used, if you want to use a hand mixer, it’ll be OK) combine the cream cheese, Greek yogurt and the sugar, beat until well combined. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well.

scc-kitchenaidIna food processor, add the graham crackers and the brown sugar and pulse until nothin is left but crumbs

scc-crust-crumbsThen add the melted butter and pulse until it looks like wet sand

scc-crsut-wet-sandAdd 1 tbs of the crust to each well of a muffin tin and pack well into the bottom (you can use cupcake papers to make it easier to get them out of the pan, if you’d like)

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scc-crust-in-pan

Top the crust with 1/4 cup of the batter, making the batter nearly flush with the top of the muffin pan, slightly below

scc-batter-in-pantop with mini marshmallows, about 1-2 tbs, making sure to keep clear of the far edge so that the marshmallows don’t adhere to the pan. Press down slightly on the marshmallows

sccmarshmallos-in-panBake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before attempting to remove them from the pan. If you are having a hard time getting these little suckers out of the pan, place the entire pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes and then run a butter knife under hot water for a few minutes and run it around the edge of the cheesecakes to loosen them up.

To give them that campfire taste, run a kitchen torch over them for a few minutes.

scc-finished-bruleeOK, so you don’t actually need to light them on fire, unless you are one of those charred marshmallow types.

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scc-final-3

Savory French Toast

I love french toast. I’ll take it in any form I can get it. Here is my version for those of you who don’t want to start your day with a large dose of sugary goodness. Although you are free to cook your eggs as you see fit, I have a strong urge to beat the people who like a well cooked yolk. After all, it’s natures perfect sauce.

Ingredients:

2 cups of whole milk

2 eggs + additional 8 eggs

½ tsp onion powder

¼ tsp smoked paprika

1/8 tsp sea salt

½ tsp black pepper

Cooking spray

8 slices of bread

8 slices of bacon, cooked

Serves 4.  In an appropriately sized bowl, add the milk, 2 eggs, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper and beat until well combined. Heat a pan over medium high heat, lightly coat with cooking spray. Soak the bread, one at a time, in the milk mixture for about 30 seconds.  Cook the bread on each side until goldeny brown, about 2 minutes per side. Cook eggs over medium so that the whites are mostly cooked and the yolks are still runny. Top the bread with one slice of bacon, cut in half and then an egg.

Downloadable recipe

Savory French Toast

Drunken Southern Scones: Bourbon Peach

I came across these adorable small little white peaches at my local market. Beautiful, firm, fragrant and adorable. I walked around the store muttering to myself, “Peaches, Peaches, what goes with peaches…” Ginger? Too trite. Blueberry? Too expected. Tequila? Hmmm…too “Spring Break Hangover.” Bourbon just seemed to fit the bill. I love cooking with bourbon, the sweetness is a perfect complement to the peaches. The vessel for my bourbon soaked peaches? Scones. Drunken Southern Scones.

scone-peach-bourbon-bottle

If you don’t have the adorable small versions, a regular size peach is fine.  I leave the skin on, but feel free to take it off if that’s what you like. While cutting these little guys, the peach seeds broke in half more often than not. Out came the mellon baller, a perfect sollution

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Preheat oven to 375.

Dice two cups of peaches

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In a pan, over medium heat, add 4 tbs butter, 1 cup sugar and your diced peaches

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Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes. You will know that the peaches will be ready once the sauce leaves a track behind when you drag your spoon through it

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Then add a 1/4 cup of bourbon (I like Buffalo Trace) and stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens again, about 3 minutes

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At some point while the peaches are cooking, start the dry ingredients. 3 cups of flour, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder, pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, whisk together in a bowl and form a well in the middle.

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After the peaches have cooled, add them to the middle of the well you have created in the dry ingredients,

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stir together until well combined with the dry ingredients. It will be flaky and crumbly. Add 1/3 cup Greek yogurt and stir until a soft dough forms.

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Mound the dough onto a floured surface and form a log that is about 14 inches long by 1 1/2 inches tall

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Cut into 6 to 7 equal sized  slices

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then cut the slices diagnoaly to form two triangles for each slice

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Bake in the oven at 375 for about 12-15 minutes or until goldeny brown.

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Mix 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbs lemon juice and 1/2 tsp water in bowl

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Once the scones have cooled, drizzle glaze on top and allow to set.

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Doughnuts With Dark Chocolate Ganche Glaze

Mr. Fits loves the idea of homemade doughnuts. In fact, one of the first conversations I ever had with him was about how he wanted to own a bar that served high end doughnuts. And it only took us 15 years to make our first attempt at making these ourselves. I do have to pause a second to talk about the deep fryer. Mr. Fits is super excited about this deep fryer, he even did research. He’s more of an impulsive shopper when it comes to…well, just about everything so I was VERY impressed that he spent so much time reading product reviews before hitting the BUY button. I was NOT excited about the fact that he bought it about 3 months after I had Tater and was JUST about to lose that last 3 pounds of baby weight. Due to tempura batter and deep frying everything that wasn’t nailed down, those last three pounds did take me another 3 months. Totally Worth it.

Heat up your deep fryer to 350 or you can heat up oil in a big pot on your stove until it reaches that temp, adjusting the heat to maintain it.

First, proof the yeast. Yeast hates me, I always have trouble with it so I let Mr. Fits do it. Yeast likes him and always proofs for him. in a small bowl add 3 tbs of water that is between 100-110 degrees. sprinkle with 1 package of dry active yeast (.25 ounce) and let it get foamy, about 5 minutes.

Then in a large bowl combine:

your proofed yeast

3/4 cup  lukewarm milk

1/3 cup  white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 eggs

3 tablespoons shortening

1 cups all-purpose flour

doughnuts-mixing-bowl

Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined

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Add another 1 1/2 cups of flour to the dough, about 1/4 a cup at a time, until it is no longer sticky and is able to form a ball

coat the inside of a large glass bowl with oil. knead the dough a bit with your hands until soft and elastic, form into a ball and then place in your greased glass bowl.

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Cover it and allow it to rise until doubled in size

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Then take your dough ball and roll it out on a lightly floured surface

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Mr. Fits really wanted square doughnuts. He just used a knife to cut the dough, but you can use biscuit cutters if you want them in circles. I like the squares, no waste and they turned out pretty darn cute

doughnut-cut

Cover with a light cloth or paper towels and allow your little doughnuts to rise again until doubled in size, about an hour.

Drop the doughnuts in to the hot oil and allow to cook on each side for about 2 minutes or until puffy and golden. We used chopsticks to turn the doughnuts

doughnut-frying

Don’t crowd the fryer, just a few at a time.

doughnut-frying1

The glaze!! We used 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) of 60% chocolate,1 tsp instant espresso powder, 2 tbs of butter, and 3/4 cup heavy cream. Put the chocolate chunks in a bowl with the espresso powder. In another bowl, add the cream and the butter and microwave until steamy. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until combine. OK, if you have never made ganche the last step takes longer than you expect. at some point during the stirring your will look at the mess that looks like chunky hot chocolate and think “That girl lies!! This looks terrible, Did I do it wrong??” and then your will keep stirring, and stirring and then at some point you will think, “Oh…wait.. it looks great. I kinda want to lick it and give that Domestic Fits girl and big chocolaty kiss.” At that point, it’s done.

Once your cute doughnuts are out of the fryer and cooled,

doughnut-just-out-of-fryer

dip them in the chocolate and let them set

doughnut-single-donedoughnuts-finisheddoughnuts-finished2

Really cute, right?

Aqua + Black + White Bridal Shower

My Adorable little sister is getting hiched next month. My eqauly as adorable older sister and I planned a bridal shower using Little Sisters wedding colors.

We had the candy buffet:

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I made lables for the take away boxes that we gave to all the guests

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And of course, there were cupcakes

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The food was lovely,

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we had

Goat Cheese and Flank Steak Crustinis

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Roasted Chicken Salad on Crosants

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Caprese Skewers

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Fruit Skewers

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Meatball Sliders with Pesto Sauce

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For the drinks we had a lovely Peach Sangria as well as Jones Soda’s that matched her colors

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My favorite of all was the photo banner that I made using a Chipboard Book Kit (http://www.stuff4scrapbooking.com/6-x8-with-8-pages-2-rings-chip-art-chipboard-bracket-book-kit-466594.html) I covered each page with paper that matched her wedding colors by tracing the shape, cutting it out, and then using spray adhesive to attach the paper to the book page. I then used pictures of the couple and photo corners on each page. I strung the pages up with a ribbon and put a color coordinating pinwheel at each end

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When the party was over, I used binder rings to make it into a book that she can put on the guest book table at her wedding

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I love you little sister and I wish you a long and happy marriage.

Strawberry Basil Tart with Lime Curd

Strawberry season comes in fierce here in California. All of the sudden, those red little beauties are everywhere and so cheap, they’re practically free. This week, at my favorite local market, I bought 3 pounds for only $2.50. So let the baking begin!

tart-fruitPreheat oven to 350

The crust. My favorite part of any tart. I used lemon shortbread cookies, about three cups in my food processor

tart-lemon-cookiesAdd five tbs of melted butter and 2 tbs of brown sugar. The brown sugar will give you a nice caramel flavor that you won’t get with white sugar. Pulse away until it looks like wet sand

tart-crust-in-fpSpray the inside of your tart pan with butter flavored cooking spray. I like to dump the contents of my food processor into the tart pan (use a tart pan with a removable bottom) and then assemble the sides before packing the bottom, it makes it easier to get even, sturdy sides

tart-crust-sidesThen move on to the bottom and pack it really tight

tart-crustCook tart crust for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned, allow to cool.

Then make the curd. It’s really an unappealing term for such a lovely treat. Lime curd is:

2 tbs lime zest

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup white sugar

3/4 cup lime juice

5 tbs unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Add the first 4 ingredients to a bowl and mix well then add to a pan over medium/low heat along with the butter

tart-lime-curd-panWhisk until thickened, about 8 minutes

tart-lime-curd-pan2Pour the curd into the cooled tart crust and chill until set, about 15-20 minutes.

Then I made some whipped cream. Not because this was my original plan but because I felt there was a desperate need, and because I love homemade whipped cream. Now, you can add this to the top, but I didn’t want to hide the beauty of the berries under all of that fluff, so I added it to the middle.

3/4 cup whipping cream, 1/4 cup sugar, blend in a stand mixer on high for about 4 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add this to the top of the cooled and set curd.

Cut the berries. I make two cuts down the center of the strawberry like this

tart-starwberry-4-cutThen chop them to make little triangle pieces, about 1 1/2 cups total

Then stack up about 5 basil leaves and roll them up tight like a cigar and chop them really finely to make skinny tiny ribbons

tart-basil-rollThen add the berries and the basil (about 1 tbs) to a bowl with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar

tart-strawberries-basil-bowlMix away until well combined and then add it to the top of the tart and serve fairly immediately.

If you plan to make the tart ahead of time, it really doesn’t sit well. You can make the tart crust, curd and whipped cream (store curd and whipped cream in Tupperware), cut the strawberries and basil but keep them separate, and assemble it all right before serving.

tart-finished2
tart-finished

Savory Bacon Garlic Cheesecake

Savory cheesecake. Really, an invention of necessity. I want cheesecake, but it’s not dessert time. The solution? Pre-diner cheesecake. Brilliant. Then add the candy of the meat world: Bacon. Yum. E.
    Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes | Total time: 55 minutes | Servings: 8
  • 5 Large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 tsp. of olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp. of salt
  • 5 Strips of bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups of Ritz Crackers
  • 5 tbsp. of melted butter (unsalted)
  • 16 ounces of  Cream Cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. of pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. of fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 cups of sour cream
  • 1 baguette, thinly sliced and toasted (optional, for serving)
Steps
  1. Roast the garlic: (your kitchen is about to smell SOOO good) Preheat the oven to 400. Place the five cloves of garlic on a small sheet of aluminium foil. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the 1/8 tsp salt. Fold up the aluminium foil into a tight pouch; you don’t want any of that goodness to seep out. Roast in the oven until garlic cloves are soft, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool (seriously, you really want to allow those suckers to cool) then remove the skins. Once garlic is done cooking, reduce oven temp to 350.
  2. Bacon time: While the garlic is roasting, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat, turning frequently. Again, your kitchen probably smells so amazing that you may need to lock your doors. Remove bacon from the pan once it is dark pink and the fat is mostly rendered, allow to cool on paper towels.
  3. Crust o’clock: In a food processor, add the crackers and pulse until reduced to crumbs and then add the butter, pulse until all that remains is a beautiful, buttery, crumbly pile that looks like wet sand. Press the cracker crumbs into the bottom of a 6 inch spring form pan.
  4. Blend well: in a stand mixer, add the cream cheese, your yummy garlic, eggs, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, rosemary, sour cream and mix the crap out of it. Seriously, don’t be shy, show that cream cheese who’s boss.
  5. Puttin’ it all together: Add the cream cheese mixture to the spring form pan. Chop the cooled bacon and sprinkle over the top of the cheese cake (it’s OK if you take a nibble or two of the yummy bacon).
  6. Bake: In the oven for 35 minutes or until top is golden brown. Allow to cool completely and serve with bread, or eat alone. And by alone, I don’t mean "by yourself" because, really, if you have a Bacon Garlic Cheesecake, you will never be lonely again. Enjoy!!