May 23, 2016

Pineapple Sugar Cookies

Ananas, piñas, trái thơ goes by many names but my friends and family know that pineapples are my absolute favorite fruit in the whole world.  I like to make a summer-themed sugar cookie that I gift to family and friends and when I found this fantastic pineapple cutter at Williams-Sonoma I knew what I was doing for this year's theme.  Here's my homage to the "ananas comosus" and I'm loving how they turned out. 

My love of the pineapple probably borders on the obsessive.  If there's a pineapple in or on something you can pretty much guarantee I'll buy it.  We're talking iPhone cases, wallpaper, necklace, shoes - bought them, received them, love them, done!  

Did you know that the pineapple is a symbol of welcome and hospitality?  Maybe that's why I'm so drawn to this fruit.   Colonial sea captains returning from the Caribbean would spear a pineapple on their fence post to let friends know they had arrived home safely and serve as an invitation to come and visit.  How cool is that? 


May 16, 2016

Russian Decorating Tips

Calling all bakers who are intimidated by cake decorating:  this ones for you!

I only recently heard about Russian decorating tips and I have to say I'm a complete convert.   You can easily get professional looking results with very little effort.  Sign me up!  Many, many years ago I took a cake decorating class at my local baking supply store.  While the class was great and I learned a lot about making buttercream flowers, I have to say these Russian decorating tips are a total game changer.   

Instead of making individual petals to form the flowers, these decorating tips make the entire flower in one go.  Genius!  Based on a recommendation, I bought this set from Amazon and they are fantastic.  Admittedly I had to practice quite a bit to get satisfactory results (granted I am a perfectionist), but they really are easy to use. 

Take your cakes to the next level and invest in these Russian decorating tips.  For a nominal price the ROI is phenomenal (that's my Finance background talking!).

April 23, 2016

Deep Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake

A recent conversation between my friend and I:

B: "Next time you bake can you make something chocolate?  You know how much I love it."  

Me: "Hmmmm...I'll think about it."

Anyone who knows me well would not be surprised by my response.  Now don't get me wrong, I do like chocolate - especially the dark variety - but it's not my preferred flavor profile.  I tend to lean more towards vanilla, lemon and other fruits.  Despite my less than fanatical reverence towards all things cacao I ended up making this chocolate pound cake for a couple of reasons.  1) I was looking for an excuse to use this recently acquired Nordic Ware Party Bundt pan and 2) I had a ton of sour cream in my fridge.   

In retrospect I was doing myself a disservice by not making this cake sooner.  The recipe comes from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book, a must-have for any cake lover out there.  I've made several recipes from this book and none have disappointed. As promised by its title, this cake has deep chocolate flavor with a moist and tender crumb.   Utterly delicious!  While the cake is fantastic on its own it tastes even better when topped with the ganache glaze.  

I have a strong feeling B will approve.

April 11, 2016

English Muffins & a Giveaway

I'm a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast.  My trusty standbys range from fresh fruit with Greek yogurt and crunchy granola to Honey Nut Cheerios or hard boiled eggs.  But one of my all time favorites has to be English muffins.   I even have a toaster oven in my cubicle at work specifically for this purpose.  Is there anything better than the smell and taste of a freshly toasted muffin smothered in butter?  I think not.

Recently I received a copy of  "Cook It In Cast Iron" from my friends at Cook's Country.  If ever there was a versatile workhorse in your kitchen it would be a cast-iron skillet.  And the fact that you can buy a fantastic one for under $35 makes it all the more appealing.

Cast iron is renowned for it's heat retention which makes it ideal for frying and searing on the stove top, but did you know it's also great for baking?  Me neither!  As I was browsing through the cookbook I was amazed at the number of bread and biscuit recipes there were but the one that immediately caught my eye was for English muffins.  I'd never dreamed of making this breakfast staple at home but why not give it a try?

Believe me when I tell you I am now a convert to homemade English muffins, especially when they bake up so fluffy, tall and delicious.   Don't be intimidated by this recipe at all because it's really straight forward and easy to follow.  All I can say now is, Thomas' who???

Here's your chance to make them at home yourself.  Two lucky readers will win a free copy of Cook It In Cast Iron from Cook's Country.  All you have to do is leave your email address in the comments section of this post and I'll randomly select two  winners.  Deadline for entry is Fri April 22, 2016.   Only one email per entry.  NOTE: You must have a U.S. mailing address, sorry, no international addresses.  Good Luck!

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