Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Birthday Cupcakes

I went a little nontraditional for my birthday this year since I made cupcakes instead of cake. Even though I'm constantly making cupcakes, I prefer a whole cake. No one should be surprised by the flavor profile, however.

Yellow cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream frosting. Expertly topped by my littlest nephew with fresh raspberries.

Close up of the decadence.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


It felt like we took a bunch of pictures in the Windy City for a milestone birthday celebration, but it turns out there aren't a lot. Here's some of what we saw.

Looking up into "The Bean." Or "Cloud Gate" if you want to call it by it's real name.

Full view of the sculpture.

Mexican bakery. 

Pan Dolce.

Aye yay yay.

Sugar skulls for el Día de Muertos 

La Virgen de Guadalupe at Madonna Della Strada Chapel

Monday, November 11, 2013

2013 Fall Television Schedule

I'm late in posting this, but here's what I'm watching this fall. I tried not to add too many shows since I know I watch too much TV. I tried.

7:30 PM
Jeopardy! (CBS)

11:00 PM
The Daily Show (Comedy)

7:00 PM
Adventure Time (Cartoon)

8:00 PM
How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
Bones (FOX)

8:30 PM
2 Broke Girls (CBS)

9:00 PM
Mike & Molly (CBS)

8:00 PM
Marvel's Agents of Shield (ABC)

8:30 PM
Brooklyn 99 (FOX)

9:00 PM
New Girl (FOX)

10:00 PM
Person of Interest (CBS)
Chopped (Food)

8:00 PM
Arrow (CW)

9:00 PM
Modern Family (ABC)
The Tomorrow People (CW)

10:00 PM
South Park (Comedy)
The Soup (E!)

8:00 PM
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC)

9:00 PM
Degrassi (Teen Nick)
White Collar (USA)

10:00 PM
Elementary (CBS)

9:00 PM
Grimm (NBC)

10:00 PM
Dracula (NBC)

9:00 PM
Masterpiece Mystery (PBS)

12:00 AM
Austin City Limits (PBS)

8:00 PM
Once Upon a Time (ABC)

9:00 PM
Masterpiece (PBS)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I find it really hard to believe that I've never done a post on scones. I've made them several times before -- maybe more often than pie. My usual recipe is written on post-it note that I wrote down while watching some local morning program a million years ago. It is a drop scone recipe that calls for berries to be added at the end. 
My favorite type of scones to make are white chocolate chip/apricot. A coffee cart in the building of my former job made that flavor and it was always a treat to buy one. Maybe that long-ago scone is why I prefer drop scones to the kind I made here, which I'll call "wedges."

The well-worn post-it recipe is good, but I was inspired to find a new one because I have too much self-rising flour on hand. I found this recipe, which I adapted by omitting the orange peel and cranberries and adding chocolate chips (on the left) and white chocolate chips and apricots (on the right.)

I have to apologize for this picture, which was taken at work under fluorescent lighting and while the scones were in a box. I completely forgot to take a picture before I packed them up and headed out the door!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Listening Party

Ten more books down. An infinity to go! Right now I'm just listening to the books but maybe I'll review them down the road.

1: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
  Mindy Kaling

2: Quiet
  Susan Cain

3: What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast
  Laura Vanderkam

4: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
  David Sedaris

5: Someday, Someday, Maybe
  Lauren Graham

6: Self-Inflicted Wounds
  Aisha Tyler

7: Fahrenheit 451
  Ray Bradbury

8: Me Talk Pretty One Day
  David Sedaris

9: When You are Engulfed in Flames
  David Sedaris

10: The Making of a Chef
  Michael Ruhlman

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Sweet Potato Pie (Flour Crust)

You may remember an old post about Sweet Potato Pie from a few years ago. At that time, I used a graham cracker crust, which I thought was really tasty. This time around, I made a regular pie crust. I'm not sure which I like better since they both complemented the filling. The graham cracker crust is sweeter, so points to it for that. But regular pie crust from scratch is so delicious. I don't make this pie that often so I guess I don't really have to pick a favorite. 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Banana Cupcakes with Leftover Frosting

When I made the cupcakes for the 50th anniversary party (see last post) I made three batches of cupcakes and three batches of frosting. I put a generous amount of piped frosting on the white cupcakes but still had about two cups of frosting leftover. Since I had some bananas that I was saving for banana bread, I decided to make banana cupcakes to use up the extra. They were a little sweet so I would recommend using less sugar than the recipe calls for. But I took them to work, and they were well-received.

Whole star-shaped cupcake and split cupcake to show off banana bits.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

50th Anniversary Cupcakes

Entire batch

Close-up. White cake with white frosting and golden sugar sprinkles. The liners are also gold foil.

Displayed at the party, which had a Route 66 theme.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Here's An Idea...

If you don't know about the PBS Idea Channel, stop reading this and check it out. Here's one of my favorite episodes.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Devil's Food Cupcakes

These were the dessert for my little sister's birthday barbecue bash, which was also a belated Labor Day celebration. We had ribeye steaks, good red wine and yummy Devil's Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Cupcakes in a box

Close up to show color and my nephew's decorating skills

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Now Hear This

My newest obsession is listening to audio-books. I had kind of forgotten they existed until I was trying to finish a book for a book club at my local library. I'm not a very fast reader so I supplemented the audio version I found online with the reading of the physical book. I was literally listening to the last pages while getting ready to attend the meeting.

I was further reminded of their existence when I heard an ad for Audible.com while listening to This American Life. Then I met a guy whose job involved audio-books (or more accurately, prerecorded audio players,) which was weird for all sorts of reasons. 

I got re-hooked in earnest while looking through thousands of papers for one single letter -- a task that required my eyes but not my ears. I opened up the Audible App and realized I could only listen to the first chapter of a book. At the time it seemed good enough so I started listening to The Hunger Games

I was tempted to read the rest of the book but found out that my library had a audio version that I could download right onto my iPhone through the OverDrive App. I finished the first book in a few days. I've slowed my pace a bit since then. But happily, I've listened to more books in the last few months than I've read in the past few years. I feel smarter already!

Mostly, I listen while walking to and from work, but I also listen while baking or cooking or while falling asleep since it has a nifty sleep timer! 

Here's my list of books I finished so far:

1: The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins

2: Catching Fire
Suzanne Collins

3: Mockingjay
Suzanne Collins

4: Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls
David Sedaris

5: Bossypants
Tina Fey

6: Superfreakonomics
Steven D. Levitt

7: Freakonomics
Steven D. Levitt

8: Death Masks
Jim Butcher

9: Barrel Fever
David Sedaris

10: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
David Sedaris

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pledge Allegiance

I've made a flag cake for the Fourth of July and other patriotic holidays, but this year I made cupcakes in the shape of a flag. The cupcake container holds 18 cupcakes, which I didn't think about when I was transporting them without their decorations. I probably should have packed 20 to make a nice rectangular shape.

The cupcakes were yellow cake - basic recipe that I got from a stack of recipes my dad picked up at a garage sale - and the frosting is whipped cream. The frosting of a flag cake is traditionally Cool Whip, but the real stuff is more delicious.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Velvet Tango Room

2095 Columbus Rd
Cleveland, OH 44113
Drinks: June 14, 2013
Party of Six

Clockwise from my drink (the one with the Maraschino cherry, natch!) Aviation, Cereza de Cal, KatyDid, Whiskey Sour, Hemingway Daiquiri, Old Fashioned

Clockwise from the tequila drink redux: Cereza de Cal, The Last Word, Blood and Sand, French 75, Moscow Mule, Ninth Ward(?)

The Velvet Tango Room makes cocktails for people who don't mind waiting for a good drink. It has an old-fashioned way of hand-shaking ingredients not found on the menu of your average sports bar. There's no guessing as to the price of these handcrafted libations-- each cocktail will set you back a stiff $18.  Each drink takes a while to mix so you might be clinking your full martini glass with your friends' half empty tumbler.

Since we were a larger party, we sat in the back room that is only accessible through a door that doubles as a full length mirror. A two-drink minimum is required with the reservation, and if your crowd fancies good mixed-drinks then it is well worth your while. It was an experience.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

German's Sweet Chocolate Cake

I had never made a German Chocolate Cake, or as it's called in the linked recipe, German's Sweet Chocolate Cake. So after a funny exchange with my Tia about what to make for Memorial Day, I decided to make one for that holiday's dessert.

I don't have three 9-inch round cake pans, so I did two layers and had a lot of frosting leftovers as a consequence. Still, it looked and tasted like classic German Chocolate Cake (I should have taken a better side picture to show the filling between the layers.) The gooey frosting was a perfect match to the sweet and light chocolate cake.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pat the Bunny

A few weeks ago, this guy was in my backyard. You can tell it's May because of the beautiful purple and white wildflowers that bloom around my house during that month.

More recently, I've seen two or three munching on the lawn at one time. This pair didn't seem to care that I was walking through their breakfast spot and just kept eating the grass as I passed them.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Press the Eject

This band is as good as chocolate cake!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

I offered to make cupcakes for a friend's last day at Pub Quiz. I was going to make chocolate/chocolate since everyone likes chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, but the guest of honor told me he liked the combination of peanut butter and chocolate (who doesn't?) I told him that the peanut butter frosting I've made before is sensitive to heat and the cupcakes were going to have to sit in my hot office all day. So I had the thought of doing the reverse: peanut butter cupcakes and chocolate frosting.

A quick internet search led me to a new recipe. These cupcakes were winners! They had enough peanut butter flavor to stand up to the double serving of chocolate frosting with which I topped them. I do think the baking time of the linked recipe is off (at least for my oven) since when I checked them at 17 minutes they were already done (and might have been with a minute less baking.) I was inspired to top them with a few roasted and salted peanuts and that extra peanut flavor made them pop. Without doubt I will be making this recipe again.

On a sad note, the main recipient stated that, although he liked these cupcakes he liked chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting better since he loves chocolate cake. I should point out that this preference didn't stop him from eating one and a half cupcakes that night.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Let's Do the Time Warp!

A friend of mine turned me on to a weekly radio show called Time Warp on 89X, which is an alternative rock station in Detroit (The Only New Rock Alternative, according to their slogan). The show is four hours of early alternative music: new wave, punk, grunge, synthpop, etc. The best thing about it? You don't have to actually be in Detroit to listen to it! You can listen online!

The show is on from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Sundays. It's hosted by the one-named DJ Cristina, who fills the gaps in the music with interesting information about "classic alternative" artists. She also writes a blog called Hang the DJ that includes playlists from past Time Warp broadcasts among the posts about Morrissey, Alison Moyet, The Cure, et al.

And just like when you were listening to the radio when the songs were new, you can make requests to Cristina. I suppose you could call the station if you wanted to be really old school but email, Twitter or Facebook are probably better options.

But don't ask her to play "Stay" by Oingo Boingo. I don't think she likes it.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Easter Roll-Out Cookies

I felt like trying a new cut-out cookie recipe for Easter so I took this one off of my box of 101 cookie cutters.

Basic recipe

Tools of the trade

Finished product

The dough was really easy to work with and rolled out very smoothly. The taste of the cookies was different from the usual recipe I use but not better or worse. Actually, it was hard to compare since the last time I made the others was at Christmas. If I use this recipe again I would add more vanilla. The other recipe calls for a tablespoon per batch. That really ramps up the deliciousness.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Free Stuff Tomorrow!

This tax day I will try to bleed for a good cause at the mostly annual Bloodsuckers Buffet Blood Drive. My appointment is late in the day, so I won't get the usual bounty I might have gotten if I scheduled a lunchtime session. Still, I hope to get some complimentary food, a goodie bag and maybe a raffle prize.

You can schedule your own appointment here. If you can't make it out to Windows on the River tomorrow, you may still be able to take advantage of other freebies offered around the country.

Lifehacker, one of my favorite websites, pointed me to the Dealnews website, which lists lots of free stuff on and around April 15. Sandwiches! Popcorn! Sweets! Curly Fries! Get out there and grab a freebie or two!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cake And Cake

The last two cakes I made were not new recipes, but I'm posting pictures because they were decorated with the help of my littlest nephew. 

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
decorated with green sanding sugar and shamrock sprinkles for St. Patrick's Day

Yellow Layer Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
decorated with red and blue sanding sugar, fresh raspberries and white chocolate chips

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Muffin Love

I ate one before I snapped the picture

I found this recipe on my bag of Shurfine whole wheat flour. The flour was getting close to its use by date, and I didn't want it to go to waste so I tried the recipe out. They were made to serve a purpose, and I didn't expect them to be delicious. However, they have become my go-to breakfast muffins. I've adjusted the recipe to be less sweet and more spicy, but it's close to what's on the bag. 

Whole Wheat Muffins

2 cups     Shurfine whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp    Shurfine salt
4 tsp       Shurfine baking powder
1/2 cup   Shurfine brown sugar
1 cup      Shurfine milk
1/2 tsp    vanilla
  2           eggs
1/3 cup   Shurfine vegetable oil
1/2 cup   Shurfine chopped walnuts
1/2 cup   Shurfine raisins
~1/2 tsp  cinnamon
~1/4 tsp  nutmeg
dash       ground cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease muffin tins.

In a large bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder, brown sugar and spices. Mix until the brown sugar lumps are nearly gone.
In a small bowl combine milk, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in raisins and nuts.

Fill muffin cups halfway with batter. Bake 12-18 minutes; let cool slightly and remove from tin.

Makes 12 regular size muffins or 6 jumbo muffins.
*Baker's note: you don't have to use Shurfine products in this recipe.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

And the Award Goes to... Chocolate Lava Cake!!!

Chocolate Lava Cake

I first made these cakes for New Year's Eve. I stretched the batter to make five cakes that night since there were five people, which worked out fine since we had eaten a lot before dessert. This picture is from my latest baking on Oscar night. This time I stuck closer to the original recipe although both times I cut down on the amount of sugar.

I wanted to try my hand at this type of dessert for a while, but I never had the occasion since most recipes make a small batch and call for the cakes to be served warm. For such a ubiquitous fancy restaurant dessert, it was remarkably quick and easy.

I'm not a big chocoholic so I don't have a lot of experience with soft-center chocolate mini-cakes, but these were very good. They were rich and decadent and worthy of Oscar night! I found this recipe on The Pioneer Woman site, which links to the original recipe on the Tasty Kitchen site.

Thursday, March 07, 2013


This is my first attempt at taking iPhone pictures at a live concert. These are from the MUSE show in Cleveland on February 28 at the Q. I'm still getting used to a decent camera phone so these aren't the greatest shots. Also, I didn't want to snap pics and miss the actual performance. 

We started in the general admission floor section. We were pretty close to the stage (stage left to be precise) and got closer as the night went on. This a picture of the bass player Chris at stage level, drummer Dom in the background, and the lead singer/guitarist Matt on the screens above.

Washed out picture of rock god, Matthew Bellamy.

I moved to a seat during the second half. I'm glad I did since it gave me a chance to see the stage as a whole. It's hard to see, but there were screens below the stage floor, behind the group and in the drop-down pyramid overhead. It was incredible to say the least! My favorite use of the setup was as a giant roulette wheel to pick a song. It was between "Stockholm Syndrome" and "New Born." I was happy that it landed on Stockholm Syndrome since it's one of my favorite songs from Absolution

If they are scheduled to play an arena near you, you should check it out. Unless you hate good music, spectacular light and sound production, or are generally not awesome.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Chocolate Heart

Another Valentine's Day birthday cake for my oldest nephew's golden birthday. Double-fudge chocolate cake with dried strawberries inside. Chocolate glaze and fresh strawberries for decoration.

I had to improvise a container to hold the cake since it was too big for any of my normal carriers. I used a cardboard shoe (boot) box. It's a good thing I don't have delicate feet!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Oscars

I have an impressive and well-researched set of picks this year. I'm sure to stay reigning champ of the Oscar pool! My choices are in bold and CAPS.

Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables
Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
Denzel Washington in Flight

I'm going with the heavy favorite.

Alan Arkin in Argo
Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master
Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained

Personally, I would give the award to Christoph Waltz but I think Tommy Lee Jones is going to win. My biggest problem with Tommy Lee's performance is that I didn't believe he was a native Pennsylvanian, just like I didn't believe George Clooney was a native Hawaiian in The Descendents. His wig was pretty good though.

JESSICA CHASTAIN in Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts in The Impossible

This one is tough but I'm going heart over favorite on this one. I both Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain's performances, but I think Jessica had the harder role.

Amy Adams in The Master
Sally Field in Lincoln
ANNE HATHAWAY in Les Misérables
Helen Hunt in The Sessions
Jacki Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook

I dreamed a dream that Les Mis didn't have as many closeup shots of runny noses and dirty teeth, but sadly it did not come true.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

I really liked The Pirates and Brave, but from what I hear Wreck-It Ralph was the best in this category. I haven't seen it yet.

Anna Karenina
Les Misérables
Life of Pi

My heart says Hobbit.

Anna Karenina
Django Unchained

Like all Ang Lee movies, it was beautifully shot. Good job Claudio!

Anna Karenina
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman

Two words: Paco Delgado. How do you not vote for a guy with that name?

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War

The reason I'm voting for this one may be because it's the only one I've heard of or it may be La Raza!

Kings Point
Open Heart

An emotional story about women with cancer who meet at a beauty salon (on Mondays at Racine, I would guess.) Sounds like a winner to me!

Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook

I'm going with the war film since it had to be tough editing all the night vision-goggle footage.

AMOUR - Austria
Kon-Tiki - Norway
No - Chile
A Royal Affair - Denmark
War Witch - Canada

I never need to see that movie again, and I'm not really sure I'm glad I saw it the first time. So sad and depressing. And I know it's Austrian, but it was such a French film!

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Never mind hearing the people sing, you could almost smell those miserable bastards!

Anna Karenina
Life of Pi

I have a hard time not voting for John Williams, but Argo might win it. Or Life of Pi.

Before My Time from Chasing Ice
Everybody Needs A Best Friend from Ted
Pi's Lullaby from Life of Pi
SKYFALL from Skyfall
Suddenly from Les Misérables

Everybody likes that cheeky Brit, Adele, so she's a shoo-in to win this. I hope she curses in her acceptance speech.

Fresh Guacamole
Head over Heels
Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare"

It's the indie favorite to win. Yeah, I have no idea.

Buzkashi Boys
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)

Apparently, it is the one to beat.

Django Unchained
Life of Pi

I'm guessing helicopter crashes are hard to sound edit.

Les Misérables
Life of Pi

I'm splitting my sound vote since I'm not sure about Best Picture.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Marvel's The Avengers
Snow White and the Huntsman

The animals were pretty boss especially the tiger.

Moonrise Kingdom
Zero Dark Thirty

I'm rooting for Moonrise Kingdom since that was my favorite movie of last year and it got the shaft in nominations, but I'm going with Quentin, who wrote himself a great death scene.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook

The Hollywood connection is going to win this movie the award and maybe others.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Misérables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Amour (Michael Haneke)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin)
Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)
Lincoln (Steven Spielberg)

I'm splitting my vote so I'm screwed if both go to Silver Linings Playbook.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Mid-Season Lineup

My television watching schedule has changed significantly so I thought I'd update my list. Surprisingly I've dropped a lot of shows! Unsurprisingly, I added a lot but most of those are returning shows. I flirted with the idea of getting rid of cable altogether, but I still have all the same channels that I had last fall.

7:30 PM
Jeopardy! (CBS)

11:00 PM
The Daily Show (Comedy)

7:30 PM
Adventure Time (Cartoon)

8:00 PM
How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
Bones (FOX)

9:00 PM
2 Broke Girls (CBS)
Bunheads (ABC Family)

9:30 PM
Mike & Molly (CBS)

9:00 PM
New Girl (FOX)
Smash (NBC)

10:00 PM
Chopped (Food)
Cougar Town (TBS)
White Collar (USA)

8:00 PM
Arrow (CW)

9:00 PM
Modern Family (ABC)

10:00 PM
The Soup (E!)
Psych (USA)
The Americans (FX)

8:00 PM
Community (NBC)

9:00 PM
Person of Interest (CBS)
The Office (NBC)

10:00 PM
Elementary (CBS)
Archer (FX)

10:00 PM
Merlin (Syfy)

10:30 AM
Young Justice (Cartoon)

8:00 PM
Once Upon A Time (ABC)

9:00 PM
Masterpiece (PBS)

10:00 PM
Iron Chef America (Food)

Grimm, Revolution and Dr. Who will be back on the list in March.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Bûche de Noël

This year's New Year's Day dessert was inspired by my sister. She mentioned it more than once while she was home. I guess she and I made a Bûche de Noël in French class when we were in high school, but I don't remember baking one. I do remember that we made brioche rolls that were très jolie. 

Yule Log


There were plenty of recipes from which to chose, but I thought the yellow cake/chocolate filling/chocolate icing combo was the most appealing. I followed this recipe, but I switched the darker frosting to the outside and used the fluffier lighter-colored frosting for the filling. It just made more sense. I didn't have time to make any marzipan mushrooms, but I think it looks like a log, nonetheless.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Guest Baker

Up until recently, I didn't have a camera or good mobile phone to take pictures of baking and other blog-worthy items. I tried to get others to take and send me pictures but that didn't always work. Case in point: Thanksgiving 2012.  I baked red velvet cupcakes and dinner rolls this past holiday and thought someone snapped some pics but the supposed photog could not be found.  So as a special treat, I'm posting the gorgeous pictures of the pecan pie and chocolate cake my sister made for her Thanksgiving celebration.  

Apparently they tasted as good as they look. I forgot to ask her which recipe she used for the pie, but I'm pretty sure the cake is "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake and Frosting, which I usually make as cupcakes.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Strange Currency

When I first started playing Words with Friends, I looked up a list of possible words containing the letter Q but not U. I use the popular QI and QAT relatively often, but there are others I've yet to play in a game. SHEQEL had been one of those words until the other day when I played it against a worthy opponent.   

Actually, I played SHEQEL once before but it was in a game against myself so it doesn't really count.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

French Bread

I've been meaning to expand my baking experience to include savory items and yeasted products in particular. I'm not against sweet yeasted doughs, but I'll get to those later. My first foray into artisan bread-baking were two loaves of French bread I made for Christmas Eve dinner. I followed the recipe from my Kitchen-Aid mixer.

Formed (after some confusing directions about rolling and rolling) and rising.

Doubled and ready for baking.

 I forgot to take pictures of the loaves once they got out of the oven, but here's 
how one looked after it was sliced.

One loaf was made into garlic bread. Perfect with lasagna!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

How To: Cut-Out Cookies

I'm often complimented on how pretty, unbroken and perfect my cut-out cookies look (see previous post for an example.) I decided to document the process the last time I made them, which was at my 6th annual cookie party in December. I'm sure other people do it this way, but this is one tip I learned on my own.

 First roll out the dough on a Silpat, other baking mat or parchment paper.

Second use various cookie cutters to make fun-shaped cookies. Make sure you leave a little room between the shapes.

Third do not move the shaped cookies! Leave the cookies in place and remove the excess dough.

Slide the mat or parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and bake as directed. As soon as you take them out of the oven, slide the entire mat or parchment paper off of the cookie sheet and place on a cooling rack. Wait for the cookies to cool before removing them from the mat or parchment paper. They should retain their shape and be ready to frost to make them even prettier!

I try not to do the last part of the process if I can help it. In fact, Cookie Party started because I love to bake but hate to frost cookies! Other people seem to like it (or at least feign liking it) and show up to frost cookies every year. And every year I am thankful that they do.