Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My favorite thing

I LOVE hummus! I mean, really, I could eat it every day for breakfast lunch and dinner! So, here is the recipe that I have come up with to make at home since I'm not a fan of hummus at the grocery store. However, if I do buy hummus, I buy it from Trader Joe's. They have the best store bought hummus, by far. Now, if you want AMAZING hummus that tastes just like it would if you were sitting in a restaurant in Israel, go to the Pita House in Greenville, SC. Ridiculously delicious!

I actually talked to the owner of the Pita House and he told me all of the ingredients that they put into their hummus. However, he laughed and said that he can't even recreate it at home the same as the Pita House because they make it in such a huge batch. That made me feel a little better about how far mine tastes from theirs : ).

16 ounce can of garbanzo beans and 1/2 cup reserved liquid (Or you can buy dry, which will taste better and soak and cook them overnight. Here is a great step by step on how to make hummus with dry beans.)
3-5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp EVOO
1/2 cup tahini (can find in all grocery stores near the olives usually)

Combine chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and evoo in the food processor. Add 1/2cup of liquid from the can of chickpeas. Then, add 1/4 cup of the tahini. Taste and decide whether you want more Tahini taste or not. I usually prefer more but everyone is different. Add the rest of the Tahini if desired. You also might need to add more salt. Making hummus is definitely a taste as you go thing!

Memories of Keifer's

So, probably seven years ago or more, I went to Jackson, Ms with a friend from college. She took me to the most fabulous place...Keifer's. If you are EVER in the area, you must go there. The best part about Keifer's is their feta cheese dip. It is absolutely amazing! I've only eaten there once and I still dream about this feta yumminess!

Yesterday, my mouth was watering for it. Obviously, it is a little far to drive for me. So, I thought I would try to create something that is similar. This is in NO way as good as Keifer's, but it is good and will satisfy my craving somewhat.

2 cups Feta cheese
1/2 cup thick greek yogurt (I use full fat)
heaping 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp EVOO
pepper to taste (and maybe salt but be careful because Feta is a salty cheese)

Combine everything in a food processor and pulse until combined. You want to have a few chunks of feta cheese. Next time, I might try cutting the red wine vinegar in half. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup and I used a 1/4 cup when I made it. It stills seems like too much. The vinegar still overpowers the feta taste just a bit. So, I would suggest combining everything except for the vinegar and then just add a Tbsp at a time until you like the taste.

I had this on pita bread with Trader Joe's hummus since I didn't have the energy to make my own. It was a great lunch!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My first three tiered cake!

Recently, for my son's birthday party, I decided to try and make fondant. It went pretty well. It was by no means perfect, but it was cute and I was pleased with it. I did a two layer layer chocolate and and the other white cake with strawberry filling and buttercream.

I attempted to make the balls all different sizes. I thought it would look whimsical and cute. No, it just looks like I couldn't get them the same size. I won't do that again : ).

My neighbor's little boy turned one this weekend and I volunteered to make his birthday cake. This time it was a three layer cake. The top layer of the cake his mom made (she wanted a carrot cake for him) and then I decorated it. The bottom two layers I covered in marshmallow fondant (MMF). The bottom layer is just regular MMF and the second layer is chocolate MMF. I'm going to post the recipes below for the chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream along with the white cake and the vanilla buttercream that I used for the first two layers. I'm telling you, you should make extra of the buttercream because you will be taking lots of spoonfuls of it for yourself. I have some in the fridge right now that is calling my name! Then, I will post the the MMF recipe. I'm going to hold off on the chocolate marshmallow fondant until I try to make it again using melted chocolate instead of cocoa. I had a little trouble with it cracking and hoping the melted chocolate will solve that. I am thinking the cocoa is just too dry. I will try to make it one day this week to see what happens!

This picture is not great. My camera was not liking the lighting in the room. Also, the bottom of the cupcake layer was a little soft and started bubbling up. All in all, I was very excited about this cake. I can definitely see a huge improvement from my boy's cake to my neighbor's cake.

Chocolate cake from Paula Deen's Lip Smackin' Chocolate Peanut Butter cake (Seriously, I've made a lot of chocolate cakes because my husbands is obsessed and this is BY FAR the best, most moist cake recipe I've ever made):
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups Dutch process cocoa (use Hershey's DARK cocoa, trust me)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour 3 (9-inch) cake pans (I used 8 inch and only did 2 of them).
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3.In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; sift 2 times (I don't have a sifter so I just use a whisk and blend well).
4.Add sifted flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in vanilla.
5.Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake 33 to 38 minutes, or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

Chocolate Buttercream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (You can also do half butter and half shortening but only do this if you buy organic shortening.)
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup dark cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
In your mixer, cream shortening and butter. Add cocoa and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using. For thinner icing, continue to add milk one tbsp at a time until you reach the consistency that you like.
For a mocha buttercream, you can substitute cooled strong brewed coffee for the milk.

Marscapone White Cake from Giada's Marscapone Mini Cupcakes
8 ounces mascarpone cheese (about 1 cup)
2 egg whites
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 box white cake mix
1 cup water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl combine the mascarpone cheese, egg whites and vegetable oil. Using a hand mixer, beat the ingredients until combined and creamy. Add the cake mix and water and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. This recipe will make ONE ten inch round cake (probably would make 2 8-inch round cakes) so you will need to make this recipe twice to make the bottom layer of the cake I made. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Vanilla Buttercream (This is what is in my fridge that I'm getting ready to go and eat!)
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream
In mixer, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for consistency that you want.
I have used this recipe and replace the vanilla extract with strawberry extract and it is delicious! I colored it pink and used it to top cupcakes.

Marshmallow Fondant (I got this recipe from my friend, Melissa. I'm not sure where she got it. She's been taking cake decorating classes so I'm guessing that is where she picked it up.)
8 cups of mini marshmallows
3 Tbsp of water
1 Tbsp of Flavor (Vanilla extract, Strawberry extract, etc.)
7 cups powdered sugar (You'll want to have about 1/2 cup extra just in case you need it)
2 heaping Tbsp of shortening (I get organic shortening at Earth Fare) and more because you’ll use to grease your work space

Thoroughly grease bowl and dough hook of mixer with shortening. Place 6 Cups of powdered sugar in mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the powdered sugar. In a microwave safe bowl, put marshmallows, water, flavor, shortening.
Heat up marshmallow mixture for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to microwave for 30 second intervals until the marshmallows are almost melted. They will look soupy with some lumps. At this time, you can add food coloring if you like. I think you should go with Wilton's icing colors . You can find them at Walmart for $1.50. It doesn't take much! I use a toothpick and just dab a couple of dots on the marshmallow mixture and stir. Then, I add more if needed to reach my desired color.
Pour marshmallow mixture into the well of the powdered sugar. It’s going to spread out and cover all the sugar basically, but it helps for it to be in the middle of it.
Put 1 More Cup of powdered sugar on top of the marshmallow mixture.
Set mixer on slow speed until everything is incorporated and then set it on 2. Don't scrap mixture off the side of bowl.
Touch mixture to see if it is sticky and if it is add about 1/4 cup of powder sugar.
Grease working area and your hands. Put mixture on surface and kneed for a few minutes.
Wrap the ball of fondant in plastic wrap and allow it to sit for at least 8 hours at room temperature. I try to make mine a day in advance.
Use the left over sugar to kneed into your mixture if you need it. Once you know how fondant is suppose to feel (not sticky, but pliable and not dry and crumbly) this is a very simple non-messy recipe to use.
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