Category Archives: Cooking & Baking

First Pastry Ever!

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photoThe Paris-Brest.  This is a French dessert described as both elegant and delicious.  Who knew I could pull it off with a broken food processor, no pastry bag, and zero experience!

The dessert consists of hazelnut cream between two layers of pastry puff and there is also a ring of pastry puff within the cream that is not visible in this picture.  Roasted, chopped hazelnuts are sprinkled on top for the finishing touch and all in all, one word comes to mind: delicious!  The cream is really what makes the dessert and it is well worth the effort.

Now, Paris-Brest; what is that supposed to mean?  The history behind this pastry is what intrigued me the most.  Dating back over 100 years to 1910, a baker located on the route of the 1,200 km Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race invented it.  He invented the dessert in honor of the cyclists, hence the shape of a bicycle tire.  Even the inner pastry ring is meant to represent the inner tube of a bicycle tire.  Cool, right?  As a cyclist, I had to give this dessert a try and it was very rewarding to make:)

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Way Too Long

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It has been much too long since I posted here. The past three months have been overwhelming with schoolwork and just life in general. I’m sorry!

But I miss it. I miss blogging. Having started the blog around 8 months ago, I never though I would’ve said that. My goal from now on is tone more regular about blogging and my creative activities. I will also continue to do the weekly photo and writing challenges.

So, starting tomorrow I will tackle my first weekly photo challenge in months and we will go from there. Thanks for not leaving me:) and here’s a late valentines cake: white chocolate cake with cherry preserves as layers and a homemade whipped cream frosting. It was delicious.

Thank You!

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Dear Followers,

Thank you very much for taking an interest in my blog.  This is a post dedicated to you and I baked a thank you cake in appreciation of your support.

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About 3 months ago I started this blog with no idea what I was doing.  I did not have a lot of direction and I had never blogged before either, but I loved to create and wanted to share my work with others.  That desire led to the creation of skreative – my savior during a really tough summer for me.  I love thinking about post ideas and interacting with fellow bloggers.

The reason for this post is that I have officially reached 100 followers – a goal I never even dreamed of!  It is an exciting moment for me and I look forward to future blogging accomplishments:)

Now, onto the cake.  It is a chocolate mousse – vanilla layered yellow cake.  This is the first homemade cake recipe I have ever baked.  It turned out delicious!  The cake is a lot heavier than the boxed cake mix, but I feel like I am actually eating something solid.  I love how it ended up and I don’t think I will go back to my boxed cake mix again.  The chocolate mousse was delicious, fluffy, and not too sweet.  All in all, a complete success.  So although you can’t taste it unfortunately, I promise it was perfect!

Thank you again and enjoy your Wednesday:)

Busy as a Bee

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I have been unbelievably busy and this blog is what has suffered the most.  With moving into this new apartment, I just haven’t had the time to continue any of my projects… I haven’t even moved in my crafting supplies!  That’s the depressing part.

At least I have still been baking – not with an amazing success rate though, I’ll admit.  The first thing I made were these “Ooey Gooey Peanut Butter Oat bars.”  Looking at the ingredients, I thought you really just could not go wrong.  Well, the center never set in the oven, so I didn’t really get the bar shape so to say.  They still tasted pretty decent, but they are unbelievably sweet and after a couple bites, I had had enough.  So despite the winning ingredients, these were just ok.  I also forgot to take a picture of them before I threw out the rest of the batch, so here’s the picture from the book.  Amazing looking right?

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Next I had leftover graham crackers and decided to bake the recipe on the back of the graham cracker box for “Banana Graham Nut Muffins.”  They looked good and I adore graham crackers.  Although they came out of the oven fully baked and fine textured, again, these muffins just didn’t live up to their potential.  I was not impressed.  Below is the picture of my actual muffins.

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So, hopefully next time I turn on that oven and start to get my baker on, I will finally be able to produce something worthy of copying the recipe out for.  As for right now, I am still staring at the picture of those peanut butter bars because it gets me every time.  They look so good!  Have a great start to your week everyone and I promise I will start posting some more worthy updates this week.  I’ll get back on track.

Mudslide Mess Up

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CIMG1402Mudslide cupcakes with a Bailey’s Irish Cream mousse frosting.  They had me at the title, forget what was in the recipe.  But we’ll look at the ingredients anyway just in case someone wasn’t already drooling… Kahlua, Bailey’s, coffee, mocha ice cream, cream, sugar… you can’t go wrong.  I happened across this recipe one day online and I just had to bake it.

So last night I was thinking it was a great night for a little treat.  I start to whip together my ingredients, the mix tasted ok, but I was sure once it was baked it would be heavenly.  The frosting was a little more like whipped cream, but I had faith it would chill into a fluffy mousse.  Together these two components were going to make a decadent Wednesday night dessert.

I could not have been more wrong.

I will admit, I have not had a serious flop in the kitchen for a while, so I guess I was overdue.  The cupcakes were bland bricks with a dollop of over-sweetened whipped cream on top.  This was not what I was hoping for!  I am not even going to attach the recipe it was such a failure.  On a different note, if anyone has any tried-and-true mudslide baking recipes, I would love to try it out.  I still have the Bailey’s and the Kahlua and they are just begging for a delicious dessert.

Hope the picture makes your mouth water, but they simply did not live up to the name!

Peanut Butter Lovers Unite!

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CIMG1391You know who you are.  We put some bread with our peanut butter (if we have anything with it at all) and we are unashamed to dig right into that jar with a spoon.  We have peanut butter sandwiches more often than pb&j’s because the jelly just takes away from the peanut butter.  Reese’s are the best candy.  There’s peanut butter ice cream, peanut butter on celery, and if something doesn’t taste good on it’s own, it will definitely taste better with peanut butter.

Basically, I am obsessed with peanut butter.  So after discovering a recipe for peanut butter bread, I just had to make it!  Here’s the recipe:

 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Grease a bread loaf pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.  Add the peanut butter, milk, and egg and mix until well blended.  Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes.  Done!

It’s not bad either!  The bread is moist and has a mild peanut butter flavor to it.  I would think with some honey drizzled on top, or perhaps Nutella, it will be delicious.  Also, I used creamy peanut butter, but chunky would definitely add some texture.  I have been itching to bake for weeks now, so bloggers beware!  More recipes are definitely to come in the next two weeks.  I am going to be on a roll.

Happy Thursday Morning Breakfast!

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Breakfast is definitely my favorite meal of the day (although, I really hate to play favorites… Really, whatever meal is closest is my favorite).  If it was not already obvious, I love to eat.  After a rough week so far, I woke up this morning with the itch to bake.  With fresh zucchini straight from the garden, I whipped up to loaves of zucchini bread like a pro all before 6am.  The rest of the family was still fast asleep.

After losing my one good zucchini bread recipe, I finally found one I am going to stick with.  This came out deliciously; moist with great flavor.  If you’re in need of a pick-me-up one morning, definitely give this recipe a go!

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Ingredients:

  • 3 ¼ cups of flour
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 ½ cups shredded zucchini, squeezed dry

Directions (1 hr and 45 min):

  1. Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Mix the all-purpose flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, white sugar, and light brown sugar together in a large bowl. Fold the vanilla extract, eggs, vegetable oil, lemon juice, and zucchini into the flour mixture one ingredient at a time with a rubber spatula; divide the mixture between 2 loaf pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 65 to 75 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Tomorrow I should have my pencil sketch I have been working on finished.  It is taking me a lot longer than I expected, but it is looking good.  Until then!

Day 6 of 7

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This recipe is a Brussels sprout salad.  Now, I know Brussels sprouts have kind of a bad reputation – I’ll be the first to admit I never eat them.  I thought giving them a second chance would be a great choice for this challenge.  THIS MADE BRUSSELS SPROUTS AMAZING!  The recipe was absolutely delicious.  Definitely making this one for dinner more often.  Here’s a picture of a side dish I totally could’ve eaten as ,y whole dinner:

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Ingredients:

  • 2 center cut bacon slices, diced
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots (1 large shallot)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced (5 cups)
  • 1/4 cup fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions (28 min)

  • Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat 3 minutes, stirring often.  Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon, reserving drippings in pan; drain bacon.  Add shallots to drippings in pan; saute 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned.  Add butter and Brussels sprouts; saute 3 min.  Add broth; saute 2 min.  Stir in vinegar.
  • Remove pan from heat; stir in pepper and sprinkle with bacon.

Complete success.  Also, to all of you followers out there (thank you first of all) and sorry I blogged twice in one day.  I don’t want anyone to think I am spam blogging, it was just a really long day at work.  Have a nice evening and give these Brussels Sprouts a second try:)

Day 4 of 7

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CIMG1220Living in Germany, I learned to appreciate the wonders of bakeries and cafes.  They weren’t just a place to buy your coffee and donuts as you bolt to work because you forgot breakfast.  They were  like a coffee shop.  It was a communal meeting place where people would indulge in a delicious bread or sweet treat paired with a small cup of coffee.  Some would socialize, others sit and read, or simply watch the world go by.  I fell in love with them.

A common German staple from beer gardens to bakeries is the pretzel.  Browned to perfection, crunchy on the outside, a sprinkling of salt, and that chewy delicously soft inside.  There is nothing like it.  Something that I had never seen elsewhere is a variation of the pretzel into a pretzel roll.  Amazing.  Who would have thought right?  Well, it was about time I brought this heaven-in-the-form-of-a-roll to my kitchen.  And it worked well too!  These rolls tasted like pretzels and rea;;y hit the spot for lunch.  They did not come out as beautiful as I had hoped, but I promise you the taste was not compromised.

Ingredients (dough):

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 envelope Fleischmann’s® RapidRise Yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed

Boiling Solution:

  • 3 quarts water
  • 3/4 cup baking soda

Egg Wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions (1 hr 49 min):

  1. Heat milk and butter until warm (100 degrees to 110 degrees F); the butter will not completely melt. Combine with undissolved yeast and brown sugar in a large mixer bowl. Stir in salt and 2 cups flour, beat for 3 minutes. Gradually add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Combine boiling solution and bring to a boil. Punch dough down and divide into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a tight, smooth ball. Boil each roll in the solution for 2 minutes, turning after 1 minute. Remove loaves from pot using a slotted spoon and place on a greased baking sheet.
  4. Brush with egg wash and cut a cross in the top. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F and bake an additional 10 to 12 minutes until the loaves are evenly browned. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Day 3 of 7

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Tabbouleh.

I’ll be honest, until about 5 minutes ago, I had no idea what this was and certainly no idea what it was going to taste like!  For those like me, Tabbouleh is a “Levantine Arab salad traditionally made of bulgur, tomatoes, cucumbers, finely chopped parsley, mint, onion, and garlic and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt,” according to Wikipedia.  Recently, tabbouleh keeps popping up in places and I was tempted to try it.  It is a recipe in my favorite cook book (kind of my bible), where my goal is to cook all of the recipes.  I’m pretty close to that goal, so this was another checked off the list.  It also has been in the newspaper twice this summer with some other recipes and I thought that was reason enough to try it.

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Well, it was not bad, but not my favorite.  I would have probably used less mint and parsley and added more bulgur, and it definitely needed feta.  But, this will be a delicious leftover in some pita bread tomorrow!  It never hurts to be experimental:)  It was a good night.

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