Archive for May, 2011

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Quick Paella

May 30, 2011

I got an e-newsletter and when I scrolled down to the recipe of the week I barely had to read the title to know I couldn’t wait to try it!  It’s called a Quick Paella and it’s more like a jambalaya than a paella, but that works for me!

I’m going to copy paste the recipe here:

“This recipe, created by Chef Michael H. Flores of San Antonio, is the perfect blend of ingredients and makes a great pairing with this month’s wine varietal spotlight, Viognier.

Quick Paella
Serves Six
Quick Paella
1 one-pound bag of saffron-flavored rice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 raw chicken breasts, cubed
1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound raw wild-caught shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 links Spanish chorizo, sliced
Small box of frozen peas, thawed
1 can of kidney beans, drained
Small jar of sliced olives with pimentos, drained

Cook the rice according to the directions on the package, using olive oil instead of butter. While the rice is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan (with a cover) over medium-high heat. Add the onion and red bell pepper and sauté for 2 minutes; add the garlic and cook for another minute. Next, add the chicken, salt and pepper, and continue cooking for 4 minutes; stir in the shrimp and chorizo. Cook for 2 more minutes and then add the peas and beans; cover and turn heat to low.

As soon as the rice is ready, combine the two pots. Do not over-mix. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve immediately topped with the olives.”

I really loved the saffron rice and never thought of cooking with it!  I thought the chicken seemed a little flavorless, but the chorizo and shrimp were amazing!  Here’s  a picture of my pretty paella:

Happy eating!
-Amanda

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300 Cake Balls

May 23, 2011

My wonderful friends’ wedding has now come and gone along with 300 wonderful cake balls.  It was a relatively in depth process so I’ll try to share it here with you and not write a billion words!

As you saw in an earlier post, I was practicing “cake balling” to prepare for this wedding.  I kept having trouble with lumpy chocolate so I finally decided to sign up for a cake ball class at our local bake shop.  Low and behold, life got in the way and Melissa and I had to leave town and miss the class.  I quickly emailed people I know who are master “cake ballers” and went to the bake shop to find out if they could at least advise me.  They were amazing.  Here’s a little bit of the info they shared:

1. Guittard Chocolate is the best chocolate to dip in.  No tempering required.  They even said microwaving it is just as good as using a double boiler.
2. Flavors recommended: Red Velvet with Cream Cheese and dipped in White Chocolate & Strawberry with Chocolate dipped in Dark Chocolate.
3. Cake mix and icing from a jar is just as good.  The only person who knows the difference would be my grandma.

So helpful!  I went with their flavor recommendations and I used box mix and jars of icing.  My sister, Melissa, helped me with the dipping process, but I’m jumping ahead.  Here is the cake ball game plan as it played out.

Tuesday: I baked 6 cakes on Tuesday before the wedding.  3 Strawberry and 3 Red Velvet.  I crumbled the cakes with each flavor in their own container.  I then mixed them with 2 jars of icing.  I bought 3 just in case, but 2 ended up being the perfect moistness!  I stored this in the fridge overnight.

Wednesday: I came home from work and rolled the cake into balls.  I use a scoop to insure consistency and preciseness.  I ended up with 149 Red Velvet balls and 153 strawberry.  I have no idea how that happened.  But I needed 250 for the wedding so we were good!

Thursday: This was the intense and dreaded day.  I came home from work and covered the island in my kitchen with parchment paper.  I luckily have an awesome island that is one solid surface.  I then got everything ready so I’d be really prepared and not have to dig in cabinets or drawers while I worked.  I dipped each ball in chocolate or white chocolate while Melissa followed with a popsicle stick to smooth out my fork marks (I am not a pro at that part) and she added pretty sprinkles to the top.  It took us 4 hours to dip and decorate 300 cake balls.  I left them on the counter overnight.  I had lots of dishes to do.

Friday: I woke up early Friday morning to layer the cake balls in my containers.  I layered rows of 5 x 8 between parchment paper to end with 125 red velvet balls and 125 strawberry.  I had what I referred to as “ugly” balls and brought those to work with me.  They were a hit so I knew the wedding guests would enjoy the pretty ones!

Saturday: This was the big day.  I had other errands to run in the morning and then headed toward the venue in the early afternoon.  Melissa met me and helped set the balls up.  The bride and groom had purchased beautiful dishes to display them in.  They looked great!  I hope the photographer took pictures because I want to steal a few!  I got so many compliments and there wasn’t a cake ball left at the end of the night!  Success!

In this time of reflection, it wasn’t nearly as stressful as I thought it would be.  I definitely couldn’t have done it without the help of Melissa. Would I do it again?  For a friend or family member yes, a random person, probably not.  🙂  I may have to up my price to after figuring out the hours of labor from day one through Saturday.  With Melissa and my combined hours of labor, we worked 16 hours.  Wowsa!  This great couple got a deal!  🙂   I think I might now understand why places charge at least 2 dollars a ball!  So much work.

If you have any questions about the process, let me know!  I thought it might be most interesting to reflect on the process and share some fun pictures!

Enjoy and Happy Sweet Eating!
-Amanda

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Seven (or is it Six?) Layer Dip

May 16, 2011

I know Seven layer dip is an old staple in most peoples diets / cookbooks, but I somehow have never made it.  I mean, I’ve eaten plenty of it in my life, but never built one myself.  I went with a pretty classic version so here it goes:

Ingredients:
-Refried Beans (I used Vegetarian so Melissa could eat it!)
-Avocado (Store bought Guacamole, just avocado)
-Sour Cream
-Diced Tomatoes
-Shredded Cheese
-Sliced Black Olives

Procedure:
The procedure is pretty simple.  I used a 9 x 9 in pyrex dish and dumped the entire can of refried beans in and leveled it along the bottom.  I then added the avocado on top spreading it evenly across the beans.  Next comes about 12 ounces of sour cream.  You could easily do more, I’m just not a huge sour cream lover.  I then added shredded cheese to cover and then chopped up tomatoes and a can of black olives to top.

Serve with tortilla chips and it is sure to disappear quickly!

Happy Eating!
-Amanda

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Cake Batter Balls

May 9, 2011

I am constantly searching cook books, baking blogs, and just about anywhere for a new recipe.  As you already know, I love making cookie dough balls and cake balls are my enemy.  I saw these cute chocolate covered balls http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com/2011/04/no-bake-vanilla-cake-batter-chocolate-truffles.html on a blog the other day and saw the words, “Cake Batter” associated with them and I was sold!

They are insanely easy to make (as long as you can read directions, which I apparently had an issue with).

Ingredients:
-1 cup cake mix (Vanilla)
-1/4 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tbsp agave (I used extra sweetened condensed milk)
-Chocolate Bark

Procedure:
Mix dry and wet ingredients (except chocolate bark) in a bowl.  (I quadrupled the recipe when I was trying to double it so I used all of the cake mix and about a can and a half of sweetened condensed milk.)   The recipe I used says to freeze or refrigerate the  dough before rolling into balls.  What I did was let it sit for about 10 minutes, which allowed it to harden up a little, so it wasn’t dry.  I then scooped out balls and used some cake flour as I scooped and made sure they were coated in the flour before playing them in a parchment paper lined pan.  This stopped them from being sticky.  I froze them for about 15 minutes.  Then I melted the bark and dipped each ball in chocolate.  I added these adorable pastel sprinkles while they were still wet.  The recipe on the other blog says that 1/4 of what I made makes 20 balls.  I made 51 balls exactly (I didn’t have my normal scoop either for consistency, but still.)

The problem I encountered was as they sat on the countertop during our party, they began to crack open.  I don’t know why that happened and will have to experiment more to figure it out.

When it all comes down to it, I found they were not NEARLY as sweet as I thought they would be, but they were definitely the hit of the party!

Enjoy!
Happy eating!
-Amanda

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Spring Wreath

May 2, 2011

Happy Monday!

I realized that I do a lot of cooking and not a lot of crafting so here goes: a springtime wreath!

I found an image online for an  Adorable Burlap Wreath!

I stopped at the store on the way home and picked up the following materials.

Materials:
One yard of Burlap
A roll of ribbon
A styrofoam round wreath
Hot Glue Gun
Glue Sticks
Wooden Letter
Paint/Brushes for letter

Procedure:
Cut the burlap into 2 inch strips.  I started by gluing the edge of a strip to the back of the wreath.  Wrap the burlap strips around the wreath, just slightly covering the previous piece.  I glued the burlap down on the backside of the wreath each time it crossed the back.  Continue until the whole wreath is covered.   After that I played with the ribbon I bought to make a nice decoration at the bottom.  I painted the letter blue and dotted the edge to resemble the ribbon.  I hot glued it to a piece of ribbon wrapped around the top of the wreath.

I realized later that the hook for the wreath holder wouldn’t fit where I tied the ribbon, so I added a red ribbon to the top to hang the wreath by.

It turned out cute, but I would’ve liked it a little different.  I think it’ll look beautiful on the front door though!

Enjoy!

Happy Crafting,

Amanda