Sunday, April 24, 2011

Orange you glad?

Happy Easter! I hope everyone had as great of an Easter as we did. Lots of family, friends, and good food. I enjoyed my April break this week visiting with my grandmother, sister, and friends. Also this break my husband and I started looking at houses to buy! We've seen eighteen so far, some duds, some nice. It's getting exciting as we walk through and see all the things we want in a house (big kitchen with plenty of counter space!). I'll post more about our walk-throughs next time.

Orange Meringue Pie
from The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen

2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cups orange-juice concentrate
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
4 eggs, separated
1 Baked Pie Shell
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

•Make the filling:
Whisk 1 1/2 cups sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt together in a large saucepan. Add the orange-juice concentrate, lemon juice, and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking continuously. Whisk in the butter, and remove from heat.

Lightly beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Stream in 1/2 cup of the hot orange-juice mixture while whisking the egg yolks. Whisk the yolk mixture with the orange-juice mixture in the saucepan over medium-low heat until very thick and glossy -- about 5 minutes. Pour into our Baked Pie Shell, and set aside.

•Make the meringue:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar to soft peaks using an electric mixer set on medium speed. Continue to beat while adding the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks form, increasing mixer speed to high.

Gently spread the meringue over hot filling to the edges of the crust. Use a spoon to make dips and peaks. Bake until the meringue is lightly browned -- about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
Tip: To prevent the meringue topping from "shrinking," make sure it touches the crust. It will "grab" the edges while it browns.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Pink frosting

 Two more masters classes done! Only a couple more to go! I don't know how people do this their first year of teaching. I would highly recommend waiting until you've somewhat established yourself as a teacher and have some routines down before starting. It's not that the classes are difficult, but they take up a good amount of time and require papers galore. I know that it will be worth it, if nothing else a pay increase.

Friday was my grandmother's 86th birthday. I can not tell you how amazing it is that she has made it this far. She was diagnosed with cancer some time ago and lost my grandfather to cancer last year. It has been a very difficult couple of years for her and she deserves a little celebration. We are having a birthday party at our house for her tonight. I called her last week to ask what she wanted for a menu and dessert. Her request was a white cake with pink frosting. I know I can't make things change or get better for her, but at least I can put a smile on her face and help her celebrate!

White Cake with Pink Frosting
adapted from The Betty Crocker Cookbook and
Oven 350
2 ¼ cups All Purpose flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 ¼ cups milk
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large egg whites

Grease and lightly flour the bottom and sides of two 8″ round pans.

Beat all ingredients except the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go. Beat on high speed for two minutes, pausing twice to scrape.

Add the egg whites and beat slowly at first to incorporate, then on high speed for two more minutes. Pause once to scrape.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Before transferring the pans to the oven, hold each pan two to three inches above the counter and drop to distribute the batter and eliminate any bubbles that may have formed.

Bake on the middle rack for 28 -30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It may or may not turn golden. If the top looks wet, it’s not done.

Cool the cakes in their pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from their pans and continue to cool for at least one hour before frosting.

3 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
Food coloring

In a large bowl, stir the butter, vanilla, a ½ cup of powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon of milk. It should look shiny and slightly thick when everything has blended together.
Continue adding powdered sugar and beating with gusto until it is well-blended and the desired consistency (see notes). Add additional milk as needed to soften the frosting should it get too stiff from excessive sugaring. Add a few drops of your chosen food coloring and stir until fully incorporated and the color is even.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Despite the vitamin C every morning and hand sanitizer throughout the day, sickness found me. I thought if I had made it through March I had conquered the "sick student bug". However, I was wrong and home bound for two days. After being out on Thursday, I woke up Friday morning, felt awful, but tried to get ready for work. I looked at myself in the mirror and knew that no one needed to see me this sick. I promptly called out and sent sub plans to a co-worker. I always feel bad being out of work, but I know that it's better for everyone if I take the time I need to get better and not spread my sickness. Now I am feeling much better and will be in to finish closing the third quarter grades on Monday.

Lemon Cupcakes
Oven 350

1 package lemon cake mix
1 small package lemon instant pudding
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup oil
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream

Mix dry ingredients (cake mix and instant pudding) together.

Add water and oil, mix for 2 minutes.

Mix in eggs and sour cream until well blended.

Put into cupcake liners (makes about 22 cupcakes) and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool before eating. Top with your favorite buttercream frosting, maybe with lemon flavoring added! (suggestion for frosting below picture)

Lemon Buttercream Frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, very soft
6-8 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of sugar, then the juice and the zest. Beat until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pictures of Sunsets

My husband and I went on a "double date" with our neighbor Mel and his friend Anne (both 85 years old) today. They took us out to eat as a thank you for all the help and baked goods. We had a lovely lunch and learned a lot about the history of where we live now.
It made me start thinking about all the time I used to spend with my grandparents. They would take me everywhere, I'd fall asleep on the back seat and awaken to a new restaurant. I miss those days and all the good times we had. My grandfather would bring his camera everywhere, taking pictures of everything and everyone. He would even go so far as to stop the car and take pictures of the sunset. I don't stop and take pictures of sunsets but every time I see one it reminds me of him

Pillow Cookies (Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brownies inside!)
adapted from
Oven 350

1 package brownie mix
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 oz. bag miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

Make brownies according to package and let cool. Cut about 24 half inch squares. Enjoy the remaining brownies.

For the chocolate chip cookie dough, beat butter with a mixer until creamy.
Add brown sugar and beat until smooth. Add eggs, yolk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Combine flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a medium bowl and stir together with a wire whisk.
Add flour to butter mixture and beat until combined.

Stir in mini chips.Let dough chill covered in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Use a large cookie scoop (2 in diameter), scoop batter and place it on sprayed cookie sheet. Work quickly so the dough remains chilled or either prepare one cookie at a time so the rest of the dough remains cold.

After the dough is on the cookie sheet, make an indention and place a half inch square brownie in the center. Press the brownie down gently and work the remaining dough around the brownie. You can use your hands to shape the dough into a ball. If your dough gets too soft, you can chill the rolled dough balls for a few minutes right before baking.

Prepare six cookies at a time using a large baking sheet (15 X 20) and bake at 350 degrees for about 18 minutes. Return the remaining dough to the refrigerator until time to bake the second batch.

Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes about 24 cookies.