Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TWD: Crème Brulée

Its Tuesday again and Dorie's here! Crème Brulée is up to bat, so let's get started.

Abby thought some calisthenics were in order in preparation for all the working out she's going to have to do to burn off the heavy cream.

This recipe said it yielded 6 servings so I tried to pour equal amounts of the base in 6 ramekins.

Took a hair over 60 minutes before I thought these seemed firm enough to take out of the oven, but here they are.

Chilled over night and then torched! My husband Walt actually brought the little torch you see right there to our relationship. Somewhere around our fourth or fifth date he packed a picnic that we enjoyed next to a little pond (this man knew what he was doing). When we got back to his house he busted out this torch to finish off the crème brulées he had made! Can you even imagine how impressed I was!! Well, I married him :)

The creme was a bit melty, but I could have popped it in the fridge for a few minutes like I saw several of you mention on the TWD crème brulée post; I'll probably try that tonight when we take down two of the four ramekins left. Yum.

I was very pleased with this experience. It was easy and the results are pretty impressive.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Autumn Recipe and Tablescape Exchange

Heidi of Foxgloves, Fabric and Folly has put together an idea exchange to celebrate the beginning of fall (the best season of them all!). Head over to her round-up to check out more Autumn themed tablescapes and recipes contributed by some great bloggers.

This is my first Autumn tablescape! I just got excited about DIY nesting this year and the wonderful ladies in blogland have inspired me to make some beauty happen every day using things I already have or things I can get on the cheap, so I'm learning slowly, but surely.

My ode to Autumn is very simple (so simple, in fact, that I forgot to put out glasses...). I've had the feather wreath, napkins, cream pillar candles and jewel tone fruit for a couple years. More recently the candle holder and orange pillar candle came from Pier 1 (half price of course!) and the little pumpkin candles came from Cracker Barrel.

Look at the detail on these plates; love these.

And here's my little secret about them; can you believe that price??

What is a table without something delicious in front of you? This perfect-for-fall recipe is from Epicurious, and it is indeed delicious: Butternut Squash, Rosemary and Bleu Cheese Risotto.
Last fall I finally made up my mind to try my hand at making risotto. I'd never eaten it but had heard such good things about it and had to try making it myself. I live in a bit of a rural area and arborio rice was nowhere to be found so a brief internet search assured me basmati rice would be a reasonable substitute. It turned out wonderfully! It even made delicious leftovers.
My changes:
--used Basmati instead of arborio rice
--referred to Betty Crocker's trusty veggie cooking chart and microwaved the butternut squash to soften it up before chopping. Have you tried to cut one of those things raw? It's way hard and a hazard to my fingers' health.
--didn't use the whipping cream in order to cut down on a couple calories

Pulled out all the stops and made the roasted pear and walnut salad Epicurious suggests to go along. Verdict: easy and yummy.

If you were here right now I would serve you a big bowl of risotto at my Ode to Autumn table. Enjoy!

Pink Saturday! Cameo Magazine

Happy Pink Saturday! Take a spin with me through some vintage Cameo magazines. I stumbled upon these romantic home magazines from Australia and knew that you ladies would enjoy these. I will be putting these in my Etsy shop soon. And its you I'm thinking of because I knew you NEEDED these magazines.

Lovely bedroom with pink all over the place.

Can you imagine the state of relaxation you could achieve in this pink haven? A quick trip to IKEA for that pink couch and you could be well on your way to your very own pink retreat!

The creamy yellow on this apron just makes those delicious dashes of pink stand out even more.

This reminds me of the shell and button wreaths Cindy has made over at My Romantic Home.

Is your table really complete until you have a pink cloth for it??

Will I look like these gorgeous ladies and be surrounded by a bed of pink roses if I use Tea Rose perfume? I hope so!

And here is my favorite shade of pink. I love the romance of this picture!
Are these magazines not fabulous? I mean it ladies, you would love these magazines. They are from the mid-90s and yet the romantic ideas still feel so fresh and lovely.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TWD: Dimply Plum Cake=YUM

Happy Tuesday once again, one and all. Today we have the Dimply Plum Cake. Which I ALMOST DIDN'T MAKE. After last week's debacle I didn't know if I had another challenge in me and for some reason "Dimply Plum Cake" sounded like "Darn this'll be Plum hard to make Cake" or something. So glad I persevered! This is DELICIOUS. Seriously people, I will be making this again.

First, please allow me to wax poetic over my butter picture. I am so proud of this picture. That top chunk there just happened to fall and land on its point just as you see it here. What luck! It brought a little bit of beauty to an otherwise ordinary day. (And now I'll wane with all the poetry)

A bit of the finished cake. It was SO pretty...and it smelled SO good...and I was SO pleased.

Andy as "Dimply Plum Turtle". He wanted me to point out how his shell is just peeking above the water just like those little plums...what, you say you got it? I told him you would, but he insisted.

Wee bit sinister, no?

As you can see I bought black plums because they looked prettier for some reason than the red plums, and I didn't see any Italian Prune Plums, though I was looking on Sunday and Monday was the OFFICIAL first day of fall, so I was probably jumping the gun. Italian Prune Plums are known for their punctuality (is that a word): neither early nor late.

There was some debate as to how many plums one could stuff on top of this cake. As you can see I got 12 halves in there in comparison to the 16 Dorie says she usually uses. Though I do want to point out that the picture in the book looks suspiciously like there are only 3 plum halves in a row. Anyway, I wanted a plum for breakfast so I am making the excuse that I could only fit in 12 halves.
I followed the original recipe as written. I did include the cardamom (man, that stuff is expensive! I'll be looking for excuses to put cardamom in everything just so I can get my (x-number) dollars worth out of it (sorry for the censorship...hubs might be reading this...babe, seriously just don't ask how much it cost...its better this way)).

And now for the gory facts of life: all good things must come to an end. My small group and I set upon this pretty little number before it knew what happened. They were SO impressed with how pretty it was, and they all seemed to find it tasty. There was a suggestion that I take the skin off the plums before cooking next time as they were difficult to cut with just our forks.

Make this cake. It is simple; it makes an impressive presentation; it smells delicious; it tastes even better; it is great for breakfast. If you are so unhealthy as to eat cake for breakfast. No further comment.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pink Saturday! Atlanta Edition

Good Pink Saturday morning, everyone! What a lovely day for a little bit of pink in your life, right?

This past weekend hubs and I ran away to Atlanta for super quick trip with some friends of ours. They had never been to IKEA (What?!?! You've NEVER been to IKEA?? You must go!! Right after you see my fifty-leven Pink Sat pics!). By the way, I'm not shouting the word "IKEA"; that's how they spell their name, all caps.

But first we made a stop at the Georgia Aquarium. SO cool! Definitely go if you get the chance.

Here's a jelly friend from the sea to prove there's a bit of pink in all of us.

After that we hopped over to the World of Coke (also fun and you should go) and, boy, was their gift shop FULL of the pink stuff.

Even hubs found a little something. Heehee; he's gonna get me for this picture.

Lots of cute t-shirts...

(I'm not exactly sure what's going on with the pictures...its creative placement, right? :) )

Teeny, tiny coat!

Teeny, tiny pants!

This was my favorite item in the "teeny, tiny" category; its a "Polo" bear shirt! Haaaaa!

(No, wait! Don't leave! I promise not to be corny anymore!...today at least...)

And on to IKEA!

Love this chaise

Look at this striped chair!

What's that? You say that you knows its Pink Saturday, and while that floral print to the left there looks definitely red, you'd still really like to see it? Well...

Ok! Fab chair, no?

Sigh...yes, can I have that pink couch please? Make that 2

You know I gotta try before I buy!

Let's let that last picture be a lesson: please don't tuck your chin when you are having your picture taken, unless you'd like 2, possibly 3, chins with that silly pose...yeesh...

Happy Pink Saturday!

Friday, September 19, 2008

A bit of Halloween fun

I love getting mail! Even if its something I ordered and knew was coming there is something SO exciting about taking that package inside and ripping it open.

I especially love ordering items that I find on Etsy. Recently I received something I ordered from Scrappy Jessi's Etsy store. First I have to show you how cute the outside of the package was: stickers, messages and a custom address label

Here's what I found when I got that box open. Look at all the her personalized goodies! The cards with her logo gave this package a professional feel as if they came from a cute boutique...which I guess they did!

Jessi makes these fun pieces using Scrabble tiles and tile trays. She has all sorts of themed tiles at her Etsy site. I saw a Halloween tile she made for someone and asked her to make me one, too.

Love it!
(Click on the picture to get a closer look)

I think this little bat is my favorite part.
Go check out Jessi's website and all the cool stuff in her Etsy store...before I get there first and buy it all!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chunkers!

Tuesday again! Hi there, Dorie! We're back!

This week we tackled the "Chocolate Chunkers". One look at the picture in her book, and I knew these would be good.

Do you get the same feeling when you look at my picture? Ha! Really you should get the feeling that these are the lonely specimens of baked dough that came out of the oven actually looking sort of like cookies. These were not the breeze that last week's Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops were.

Wait, what I meant to say was: I decided cookies shaped foods were passe this week and found Dorie's suggestion that these be crumbled over ice cream much more compelling, so I just skipped right to that part: crumbles.

First off: the chocolate roster. If I remember correctly there were at least 19 ounces of chocolate in this dough: 6 ounces of semisweet plus 1 ounce unsweetened melted first thing; 6 more ounces of semisweet, 6 ounces of milk or white and come cocoa powder added in later...dang! Dorie basically took a chocolate bar, threw some raisins and peanuts in there and melted it all together. Why I didn't think to do that before...

In which we meet the beginnings of a luscious cookie dough...

And somehow the luscious factor is cranked up even more...

So since I ate all that dough in the previous picture, do you think I could just make little piles of the mix-ins on the cookie sheet and come up with something yummy still??

OK, I'm just kiddin! That dough was in fact under all those mix-ins. A girl can dream though, right? Dorie says that once the chunky bits are in there will be more of them than there is dough. To say the least, dear readers.
At this point there was a hitch in our thus-far flawless plan. I had to be somewhere and there was no time to bake the cookies. No matter; Dorie assured me that the dough could sit in the fridge for up to 3 days. Several hours later I came back home, turned on the oven and pulled a rock-hard chunk of cookie stuff out of the fridge. 19 ounces of chocolate, remember. I basically had a giant Chunky bar (remember those?)...this did not bode well for me ending up with cookies. I decided to leave the dough out and bake the cookies the next day.
At the appointed time the dough was still not feeling like behaving, so I basically took a pile of dough crumbs and mix-ins and mashed them together as tightly as I could into cookie-type shapes and quickly put them on the cookie sheets before they could fall apart...or at least just before they fell apart in the oven.
The turtles knew something was wrong...

Andy wouldn't come near me...(he's hiding behind his plastic island with the plastic palm tree)

Abby gave me the turtle evil eye if there ever was one.
(Am I starting a tradition with these turtle pics...is that annoying?)

Here we have a nice pile of Chocolate Chunker dough that has been warmed slightly and left to lie where it may. Oh, I was so frustrated...while this stuff tasted good, the few cookies I did end up with were ugly as could be. Wonder what I should have done after chilling the dough to end up with actual cookies that stayed together? Next time I'll plan for a time I can bake the dough right away.
In the meantime, where's that ice cream?