Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Light

My father came over to do some electrical work (although it seems that an electrician never wants to do that) this week. Our chandelier is up in the dining room and a couple of other things were fixed. My mother and grandmother tagged along to have dinner. I prepared Cornish hens, pasta salad, and grilled zucchini. We even moved the patio table and chairs into the sun porch so we could eat "outside" (the deck was being stained so we couldn't eat there). We're all set up to eat and it starts to downpour.We stayed in the sun porch, but my grandmother came inside to eat at the kitchen island. She was a little to nervous to eat with the thunder and lightening!
Quick update: One more master's class down, one to go. Deck is stained, posts are fixed. Flamingo room is slowly being painted. It's been a busy week. We ventured out today to find some furniture to fill this new house. Unfortunately, we were less than impressed with the selection. We either couldn't find what we wanted or it wasn't available in the color we wanted. Disappointing, but it was a good way to price out furniture.
Our friend Nick, who has been working in Korea for the past two years, convinced me to try a Korean dessert on Friday. It's called Red Bean Ice Cream. It looks like an ice cream Popsicle and has chunks of red beans in it. Texturally, I did not enjoy it. However, I have some issues with things that are creamy (yogurt, pudding, cream filling, and cooked beans). It was sweet in a way, but not like our ice cream here in the US. I only had about four bites, but I tried it. Needless to say, that is not the recipe this week, sorry Nick!

Cookies and Cream Brownies

Brownie batter (use your favorite recipe or a mix)

20 Cookies and Cream Hershey Kisses
15 Oreos
1/2 stick salted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1-2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven according to brownie directions. Spray a 9 x 13 pan (or 8 x 8 if you want them thicker) with nonstick cooking spray. Roughly chop Hershey Kisses and 10 of the Oreos.

Fold into the brownie batter and pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until brownies are set and place on a cooling rack until completely cooled.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla on medium speed until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat on low until just mixed. Add one tablespoon of heavy cream and beat on high for one minute.

Crush remaining 5 Oreos and fold into frosting. If frosting is too thick, add another tablespoon of cream.
Spread frosting on brownies.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

House to Home

We are officially all moved into our new home! We spent the day cleaning up the rental and packing up miscellaneous things. It was very strange leaving there today. Even though we'd only lived there a year, it's become a part of our history. It's where we had our first real Christmas tree, where we celebrated many family birthdays, had family dinners, where most of this blog has taken place, where we learned how to deal with spiders, where we first had to do lawn work, where we met our friend Mel, and where the great BBQ Sauce explosion of '11 happened. It wasn't my favorite little house, but it was our home for a year and I'll always remember it.

Our new bedroom has all of the furniture in it and we got to sleep here last night. Looking forward to many more nights in our new home! Tonight, we set up our fire pit. We had bought it in May, but wanted to wait to use it, until we moved here. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. Yes, my friends, it's summer!
We saw this commercial last night and we both started laughing, I thought I'd share......

My sister requested a Pina Colada Cake for her 25th birthday. It took me awhile to find one that I wanted to make, but this one worked out well. The cake was more of an angelfood cake texture. I could definitely see this recipe used to make cupcakes, too. It also happens to be the first baked good to come out of my new kitchen! Enjoy!

Pina Colada Cake
Oven 350

For the cake:
3 ½ cups cake flour, sifted
4 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. coconut extract
8 egg whites
2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting/garnish:
1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
18 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
toasted coconut

Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, and grease and flour the sides.In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Reduce the speed to low and fold in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour, until just blended. Stir in the vanilla and coconut extract.

Transfer batter to a large mixing bowl and stir in the shredded coconut. Thoroughly clean and dry the bowl of the electric mixer.

In the mixer bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes). Using a rubber spatula, fold ½ cup of the egg whites into the batter until smooth, then carefully fold in the remaining whites until smooth and blended. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and allow to cool on the rack to room temperature.

To make the frosting, puree pineapple in the food processor until smooth. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on high speed until smooth and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add powdered sugar and mix until smooth. Add pureed pineapple until frosting achieves the desired pineapple flavor (approximately ¾ cup of puree). If frosting is too liquid, allow to chill in the refrigerator 30 minutes before using.

To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers on cake stand. Top with a layer of pineapple frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Frost sides and top of cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with toasted shredded coconut.(To toast coconut in the oven, spread shredded coconut in a thin layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 300F for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to make sure that the coconut browns evenly.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What Aisle Are the Shoes In?

One of the things I love about Summer vacation is when it gets to the point that you no longer know what day it is, and you no longer care. It's taken me quite a bit longer this year, because of my master's classes, but today was a nice!

House updates: Master bedroom, master bedroom, and hallway are all painted. We have bought the paint for the "flamingo pink" room and should be painting that this week. The deck has been power washed and is in the process of  being painted and stained. Most of our things have come over from the rental and we hope to have the rest of the furniture in this coming week.

We've been to Home Depot and Lowe's what seems like a hundred times this week. It's unbelievable how things add up and how much time you lose when in these stores. I feel like we get sucked in and then start thinking about everything else we need and how we could fix this, or paint this, or replace this. You really have to make a list and stick to it. We have become pros at the aisles and using competitor's coupons! We went today to get a few things and ended up with a new mailbox, primer, 18 post tops for the deck, and blue tape. I miss shoe shopping..............

The "flamingo room": Changes coming soon....
The master bathroom: Before (Rose Garden Pink) and After (Oyster)


The master bedroom: Before (Light Green with a flower border) and After (Slate Pebble no flower border)

Peach Raspberry Slump
from Martha Stewart's Healthy Quick Cook
Oven 400

3 cups sliced peaches (about 5)
3/4 cup raspberries
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of kosher salt
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
2 tablespoons skim milk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a 9-inch pie pan, stir together the fruit, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the cornstarch, and cinnamon.
In a bowl, stir together the flour, 2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With a fork, blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, milk, and vanilla and stir into the flour mixture until just combined.
Knead the dough lightly on a work surface and pat lightly until it is about 3/4 inch thick.
Drop the dough in 4 mounds over the fruit, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon sugar over the dough, and bake in the middle of the oven until the biscuits are golden and cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

S'more Painting

This week has been very busy. We've painted the dining room (Behr: Puddle), hallway and stairwell (Behr: Toasted Cashew), and master bedroom (Behr: Slade Pebble). Our goal is to tackle the master bathroom next. No flower border in there, but there are two layers of pink paint. Unfortunately, my husband goes back to work this week, so no more day help. It was nice that he was able to take the week off, we got a lot done.
Before and After Picture of Painted Dining Room:

Before and After (1 coat of paint) picture of master bedroom:

I also started my second to last class in the Master's Program.It's a July course on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Of the two classes we had this week, it wasn't too bad, at least there's air conditioning. We have to do a big project/presentation at the end of the class. I am going to do it on collaborative teaching and the class I just went for training on. Might as well practice what I'll be teaching in the fall.

These S'more Bars were a big hit at the annual fireworks party. They are a quick and very portable way to have s'mores at a picnic. Of course I can't wait to set up our fire pit at the new house and start roasting marshmallows. However, this was definitely a good substitute. This would be a fun baked good to make with kids, too.

Peanut Butter Crunch S'more Bars

Approximately 7 whole graham crackers
2 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2/3 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper (I prefer using parchment paper - it makes removing the bars much easier!). Arrange graham crackers in a single layer in dish, cutting or breaking crackers as needed to fit.

Sprinkle marshmallows evenly over crackers. Bake for 7-8 minutes or until marshmallows are puffy and slightly golden. Cool completely.

In a 2-quart microwave-safe bowl (or in a medium saucepan over medium low heat), combine chocolate chips, corn syrup, and butter. Microwave on high about 1 1/2 minutes or until chocolate is melted, stirring every 30 seconds. If melting in a saucepan, stir constantly until melted, then remove from heat.

Stir in peanut butter, then stir in Rice Krispies until combined. Spread evenly over marshmallows.

Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour or until firm. Cut as desired and store in an airtight container.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pink and Flowers

We are officially HOME OWNERS! We closed on Wednesday and started taking down wallpaper on Friday. We are a bit overwhelmed by the amount of flowered wallpaper and pink walls, but it's been a learning experience. We've talked to people at Home Depot (least helpful, despite the good paint prices), Lowes  (helpful but they take forever), and Sherwin Williams (most helpful). We've been scraping down wallpaper, backing, and glue for the past couple of days. If anyone needs advice I feel like an expert now. We've also been testing paint colors after the glue is all down. We slept in the new house last night on the guest mattress in the guest room. Having a ceiling fan was nice and so were the stars on the ceiling, leftover from the previous owner's daughter. I can't wait until we can officially be all moved in and sleeping in our bedroom. Our goal is to get all the main rooms done before we move in furniture.
Our pool has also been opened, thanks to a lot of support from family and friends, and two days of hard work. On a good note, when the cover finally came off the water was crystal clear!
I've been taking pictures of the whole process....enjoy!


More to come next week!

Sorry there's no pictures of the dessert, I'll add those soon!

Strawberry Strawberry Pie
from The Really Good Food Cookbook
1 pie crust, pre-baked
1 pint ripe strawberry
1 (3 ounce) package strawberry Jell-O gelatin dessert
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup hot water
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup sugar
whipped cream

Pre-bake pie crust. Cool. Slice the strawberries into the pie crust.

In a medium saucepan mix the package of jello with the cornstarch.

Add the water and the sugar. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Stir occasionally.

Pour the boiling mixture over the strawberries.

Place the pie in the refrigerator. Chill for 3-4 hours until the jello glaze sets. Serve with big dollops of whipped cream over the pie.