Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Minute to Win It (Ice Cream Cake)

I baked. Finally. It felt good. Amazing. The best freaking chocolate cake EVER.

Seriously. Try this cake. Not only is it AMAZING, it's simple!

One of the best parts is that you can pick whatever kind of cake and ice cream you want. I used chocolate cake and mint chocolate chip ice cream. The ice cream flavor isn't very prominent so it might need some help. In this case, I brainstormed a chocolate ganache. I was missing heavy cream, so the ganache was more of a delicious melted fudge with the addition of Andes mint chips. Then, I sprinkled some Andes mint chips around the top ring to jazz it up. Let me repeat. AMAZING.

My mom tried it with Starbucks coffee ice cream and chocolate cake. She said the chocolate in the cake overwhelmed the coffee flavor. I suggested using white cake with coffee ice cream. If you still want the chocolate flavor, add cocoa powder or melted chocolate chips to the batter.

I baked it for a bbq at the Lyon's Farm. It went over well. I'm going to stop gushing and explain how simple this is.

Ice Cream Cake
originally from Omnomicon

1 box of cake mix (pick a flavor)
1 pint of ice cream (pick another flavor)
3 eggs
1 cup of water

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a tube or bundt pan. Dust it with cocoa powder. (This will keep the chocolate cake from looking white from flour.)

Mix everything together for 4 minutes. Pour into the pan and bake for 50 minutes.
Serve with frosting, ganache, icing, whipped cream, or plain. Your pick.

Chocolate Chip Icing
originally from cdkitchen

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
6 ounces chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients except chocolate in saucepan over medium high heat. Stir constantly until melted. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, still stirring. Remove from heat. Add in chips and stir until completely melted. Spread on cooled cake.

*I used 3 oz. chocolate chips + 3 oz. Andes mint chips*

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Parks & Recreation

1. I am on Day 2 of rather boring tutorials about Microstation. I might have dozed off this morning. And yesterday afternoon. The tutorials are that riveting.

2. I'm rocking the 7:30-4:00 work schedule. There is something really nice about going in early and being done early as well. Today, I walked down to the post office after work to get my address changed. Everything is digital though so I walked down there for nothing. It's just another walk that I got to go on. At 10:00 and 3:00 we go for walks at work.

3. Parks & Recreation = great show

4. I need to follow the three color rule of food. If food doesn't have more than three colors in it, then it isn't allowed to be eaten. Tonight was a slight fail. Pasta with pesto and garlic bread. There were many shades of brown. Then green. I need more vegetables in my life. I never thought I would say that.

5. Finished book #2. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares. Ayesha recommended it to me and I really enjoyed it. It was a little sad, but sweet.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday Things

1. I'm almost moved into my house. I've only got a few kitchen things, my bed and desk, and some clothes, then it's adios Ann Arbor and hello Brighton.

2. I start my new job tomorrow. I think I'm going to be sitting at a computer and doing program tutorials for a few days. That's better than sitting at home and doing nothing.

3. I read 32 books from the end of school until today. Not my typical 50, but yay! I just finished the 50 from last year. Now it's on to the next 50 books. I just finished the first one. Lamb by Christopher Moore.

4. None of this has anything to do with baking, but it will soon. Once I'm all moved in I'll be able to cook and such.

5. I had pad thai from No Thai for the first time. My friend Bernard was visiting this weekend to celebrate our friend's wedding. He got the last stamp on a No Thai card and then gave the card to me. Free dinner! Yay! It was pretty good. Next time I think I'll branch out a bit and get something more than just rice noodles with peanuts and sprouts.

6. I need to bake. Badly. It's an itch.

7. I'm moving in on Saturday/Sunday. Baking will resume at that point.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hello World! (Lemony Spinach Pasta)

It's been a while. I've missed you. No really. For real.

Now that school is over, I have all kinds of time on my hands. I can read and cook and bake until my little heart is content. Too bad I've been rather lazy...and busy. Let's go with busy over lazy. I spent a weekend in Saugatuck for the Michigan Historic Preservation Network's Annual Conference and then a weekend in Quincy, Illinois for my cousin Austin's high school graduation. Then it was suddenly June and I stumbled onto a job.

Today though was a busy day. It was the day of the Queen's Tea hosted by Terry's mom and her best friend. Yes, they hosted a tea party. Lots of tasty finger foods to nibble and some tasty chai to drink. Then a gift exchange where I received a tin of kitchen-themed post-it notes. Then Terry's grandma gave me her tea towels and Carolyn and Emily's grandma gave me her cutting board. Such generosity.

Since I have all these great post-it's, I have to start using them. :) I do love me some post-it's. I'm going through the cookbooks that I have and marking the recipes I still want to try or those that need some extra comments that the author forgot about. I know I've written about how there should always be a 1:1 ratio of recipe to picture. However, there are some other rules I tend to follow for cookbooks. When I'm flipping through them, I have to make sure there are a certain number of recipes that I want to use. If I can get at least three recipes out of a book, then I'm pretty happy.

I'm running into a problem with Jamie Oliver. I LOVE his ideas behind the food, healthy, fresh, etc. And there are definitely a slew of recipes that I've marked that I want to try (15 to be exact.) But when I actually make the recipes, something goes wrong. The "Vanilla Cheesecake with a Raspberry Topping" could have been delicious. I love me some cheesecake. I think the problem with the recipe was the consistency of the cream cheese. It was too chilly and I was too impatient to wait for it to get to room temperature. I ended up with a lumpy cheesecake that tasted overwhelmingly of cream cheese. I'm still searching for a good cheesecake recipe.

Then I got a hankerin' for Indian food. "Chicken Korma" sounded safe. It said that it has a mild, creamy taste so it was a good one for kids to try. I have tried my fair share of Indian food, so I know that I do like a little bit of spice. I wanted to try this recipe because it seemed like it would be rather hard to screw up. But I did. I accidentally bought Korma curry sauce instead of curry paste. The result was a SUPER mild, diluted, non-delicious mess.

You might say, but Sarah, you shouldn't give up on Jamie just because you keep messing up the recipes. I know this is true, but it still puts me off the recipes. Sad face.

Next up is Rachel Ray 365: No Repeats. Chris brought it into the apartment and I flipped through it, to little avail. I like her idea of 30 minute meals. I mean, when I come home from school or work, I pretty much want to eat immediately. I don't really want to wait for more than 30 minutes. Anyways, Rachel Ray. NO PICTURES. There are a set of pictures in the centerfold. It's like the naked girl in a Playboy. Something to drool over and keep coming back to. (Not that I would know...the Playboy that is...weird) So along with what could potentially be an AWESOME cookbook if there were pictures attached to the recipes, there are a very large number of ingredients for what could be a really simple recipe. In some cases, the list of ingredients is equal to the amount of space the recipe instructions take up.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog

Then my newest cookbook and quite possibly one of my new favorites when I actually cook something out of it. It's "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" and I can't wait to try something. There are pictures of cows in it...and cowboys...and babies. All things that make me happy. The food is no-nonsense, practical, tasty things. She gets a little...something. I'm not sure how to describe it. For instance, in the caption for one of the images of her friend (I think) she says something like "sweet necklace." It just seemed out of place. I do enjoy the pictures of cowboy bums. I also learned the difference between chaps and chinks. I learned something new today.

So after all of that, you probably want a recipe right? For some lemony spinach pasta? Okay. Here it is.

Lemony Spinach (Kale) Pasta
found at The Sweets Life

For the dressing:
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice from 2 lemons
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
freshly ground pepper to taste

For the pasta:
1 lb whole grain pasta
1 large bunch kale, rinsed and dried, stems removed

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. While water is coming to a boil, make the dressing.

Mince the garlic and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp of salt before smashing garlic into a paste with a fork. Add the garlic paste to a small bowl. Mix in Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Whisk to combine.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Chop kale into 1/2-inch ribbons. Place kale in a large bowl and toss with dressing, coating well. Drain pasta, allow to cool slightly, and toss with kale and dressing, coating well. Serve with sliced lemon and additional Parmesan.  

*I've never had kale before so I went with spinach. It was quite tasty. The last time I made a pasta dish with lemon, there was too much so I didn't use much this time. Mistake. Use the full two lemons worth. One lemon is 3-4 tablespoons of liquid. Similarly, use the recommended amount of olive oil. It's delightful when it's chilled and quite tasty as leftovers.*

Sunday, January 9, 2011

1984 (Almond Joys)

The Christmas season is finally over and it's back to school for just FOUR MORE MONTHS! I'm really excited to be that close to graduating with my Master's and then it's on the an uncertain, jobless, future...

I can always depend on the baked goods though.

As mentioned before, the 12 Days of Christmas Treats were accomplished in a whopping 2 days. Seriously. I rocked those baked goods.

The final list:
Sugar cookies
Rice Krispie Treats
Chocolate Cookies with Andes Mint Chips
Sugared Chocolate Cookies
Brownie Oreos
Chocolate Meringues
Chocolate Dipped Pretzels
Roasted Cinnamon Almonds
Chocolate Bark
Peppermint Patties
Almond Joys
Chocolate Walnut Fudge

I did it! I made them all! It was a challenge. There were times where three or four recipes were started and then it was time to take them all out of the oven or the fridge or out of the cooling room (Chris' closet) and I had no room at all to put everything.

I gave away pretty much everything and what I didn't give away, was demolished by Alex in a few days. At least I wasn't the one eating it all. That means that I was only able to get a few pictures of the treats before they were all gone. The brownie oreos were a huge hit, while my favorites were the improvised Sugared Chocolate Cookies. Today though, the recipe for Almond Joys.

Almond Joys
from Chocolate & Carrots

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (I used fat free)
4 cups powdered sugar
1 (14 ounce) bag coconut
3 cups whole roasted almonds
approximately 24 ounces chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together (except for chocolate chips)

Shape into patties or rolls (your preference) and place on wax paper. You'll need to rinse your hands off after every 6-7 of them because they'll get super sticky.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot with simmering water (water not touching the bowl).

Cover the rolls in the melted chocolate.

Put on aluminum foil and let chocolate harden.

I didn't add the almonds right away because I wanted them to be like Almond Joys, with an almond in the center. The original recipe looks like they were mixed in and some of them had more than one almond. Just an option for next time.