My First Cake Decorating Class {Mary’s Cakes and Pastries}

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Happy Hump Day Friends! Last night I got to experience my very first cake decorating class. I’ve always wanted to take one but could never find the right time. When my favorite local bakery announced having some classes this summer, I thought I’d sign up for the cake decorating class. You may remember me mentioning Mary’s Cakes and Pastries when I wrote an article in Druid City Living about Mary and her amazing passion for incorporating local produce in her goods.

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Mary brought her personal mixer from home to show us how to make delicious butter cream. I never knew the importance of high ratio shortening. And of course we have to recognize the fact that delicious unsalted butter is a must! I also did not realize the importance of sifting your powdered sugar…if you have clumps, you could pay for it later while trying to decorate your cake with an icing tip.

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Our work stations!

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A blurry picture of my friend Babs slicing through her cake with a turn table and serrated knife.

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Gotta start icing that cake down!

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Getting that crumb coat ready!

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Mary’s mascot, Molly, her sweet 11 week old puppy! She was staying in the bakery consignment area of the shop.

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I had a bad glare on the Keep Calm and Eat Cupcakes sign but it was the inspiration for my cake decor later that evening.

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Doing a little border practicing on a laminated sheet of paper.

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Of course I had to do something related to my hubby! 🙂

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Me and Babs striking a pose with our icing bags!

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Mary was showing us how it’s done.

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Oddly enough, this was NOT enough icing for the cake.

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Seriously, I had to add more to it.

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Let’s fast forward to finished product. TA-DA!

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I feel so proud 🙂

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And again!

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Mary did have to help me a bit with the smoothing. I know practice makes perfect. I think this will finally put my Kitchenaid mixer to good use. The bottom line is that this class was worth every penny. We all got to take our cakes home and I made plenty of notes on the recipe sheet that Mary gave us for our Butter Cream icing. If you are in the Tuscaloosa area, I would completely recommend taking a class from Mary’s Bakery. Other classes she is offering this summer include a fondant class, a petit fours class, and others. Find her on Facebook, her website, her blog, or Instagram!

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Cranberry, Chicken, and BRIE Pizza

Cranberry chicken and brie pizza

Cranberry, chicken, and brie pizza. All I have to say about today’s recipe is “OH MY DAD…THIS IS DELICIOUS!”  It’s almost not fair to put “…and Brie” in the recipe title especially since I have a love affair with this delicious cheese. If you’re a fan of baked brie with fruit preserves or the taste profile of savory and sweet in general, this is a recipe I would definitely recommend. It’s been about 3 years since I’ve made this particular pizza but after having some baked brie recently at one of my book clubs (shoutout to Sarah for being a fellow brie lover!) and my best friend Sally getting married next week (Sally first introduced me to this recipe around 2009) AND I wanted to make something different for dinner for my husband, this cranberry, chicken, and brie pizza seemed like a great (yummy) choice. I do want to mention that another reason I did this recipe is because I’d really like to do a recipe redux on this sometime…acknowledging the fact that brie is a high fat creamy cheese, this pizza would classify as something yummy every now and again (hence it being 3 years since I’ve made it 🙂 )

As far as chicken for this recipe goes, I really don’t think you could go wrong with whatever kind of chicken you use. If I had a leftover rotisserie, I would have probably opted to do that, but since I didn’t I decided to pick some raw breast up at the store. Some recipes I’ve seen in the past recommend buying two chicken breasts, cutting it up into cubes and then cooking stove top in a pan until done. My grocery store had a good deal on some chicken breast cutlets, thin sliced, so I added salt, pepper, and garlic powder (I really like the flavor the garlic powder brings in the chicken) on both sides of the chicken and then lightly brushed a layer of olive oil on the top to seal in the moisture to prevent this white meat from drying out while in the oven. You’ll noticed that there’s 4 pieces of chicken on my pan… by the time all was said and done, I actually only ended up using 2 pieces of chicken for the pizza.

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While my chicken was roasting I sliced up my brie… I used about 7 ounces based on the wedge I bought from the grocery store (o.47 lbs) but I think that you could get away with using less…about 6 oz or so.

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After my chicken was done I proceeded to cut it up into bite sized pieces.

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Since this was a last minute dinner idea, I didn’t have time to make my pizza dough from scratch and instead opted to use a Pillsbury pizza dough. Their dough calls for you to prebake it for 8 minutes prior to adding toppings.

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When you’re ready to add toppings, you’ll add about 1/2 -3/4 can of cranberry sauce…some recipes call for about 1 1/2 cups of cranberry sauce but I find that to be a little too much and can get watery very easily. You can also use your own cranberry sauce made from scratch 🙂

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Next add your brie and chicken… you’ll see that I probably could have gotten away with using less brie.

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We had a large bag of dried cranberries from Sams Club/Costco so I added a handful of those as well.

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Next you’ll top off your pizza with a little bit of Mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of dried Rosemary.

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You’ll follow your pizza crust’s baking instructions for the appropriate cook time…mine took an additional 13-14 minutes after the crust prebake.

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And tada! Pretty tasty and pretty simple 🙂 Below I’ve added the recipe for your use, and a Pinterest worthy picture for you to use to share the love 🙂

Cranberry, Chicken, and Brie Pizza

Ingredients
2 chicken breast cutlets, thin sliced (can also use about 1-1 1/2 cups of  any chopped chicken you have)
1 Pillsbury pizza crust (or your own recipe)
1-14oz can whole cranberry sauce or about 1-1 1/2 cups homemade cranberry sauce
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 oz Brie cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 Tb dried Rosemary
1 Tb garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees for chicken cutlets. On a foil lined baking sheet, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder to both sides of chicken cutlets, brushing top of chicken with olive oil to seal moisture in- roast chicken for approximately 15 minutes or until 165 degrees internally. While chicken is cooking, slice Brie into bite sized pieces, followed by chopping chicken into bite sized pieces once cooked. Pre-bake Pillsbury crust by package directions at 425 degrees for about 8 minutes. After pre-bake, add cranberry sauce to crust— about 1/2-3/4 of the can. Next top with chopped chicken, brie, and dried cranberries. Sprinkle Mozzarella cheese and dried Rosemary on top. Bake for about 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Pizza Collage


Delicious, Nutritious, {Roasted} BROCCOLI!!

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Shout out to my broccoli lovers in the house! I consider broccoli to be on my personal list of super foods. Why? Need some fiber? Bam, here’s your broccoli! Need water soluble vitamin C or fat soluble vitamin A? Get some broccoli. Or maybe you need some calcium and folic acid…yep, broccoli is there to the rescue. Maybe you’d just like some nice phytochemicals to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases—bring out the broccoli.

For some people however, broccoli can be a daunting task to eat. I used to relish the opportunity to put raw broccoli florets in my salads at work until I realized how sensitive my tummy was to raw broccoli. If you didn’t know, broccoli is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables (which includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and bok choy) which has been known to provide stomach discomforts to some people in its raw form due to the fiber content, providing subsequent bloating from the gases that are formed in the stomach during digestion. Doesn’t sound too fun huh? Though broccoli and other cruciferous veggies have their best health benefits in the raw form, cooking broccoli appropriately (avoiding overcooking) can help diminish these negative tummy effects while also keeping the nutritional integrity of the veggie.

Most people steam their broccoli but yesterday I found a fantastic recipe for oven roasted broccoli at The Gingered Whisk. She has some incredibly delicious recipes! Last night I thought I’d put her recipe to the test right after pinning this bad boy on Pinterest.  This recipe was originally from The Amateur Gourmet who adapted it from the wonderful Ina Garten.

20130604_182133Get out the delicious broccoli…

20130604_182504Chop into florets to arrange on a foil lined baking sheet

20130604_182855Aren’t they so cute and delicious looking?!

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Pull out your seasonings…I didn’t have any kosher salt so ended up using some sea salt; I also pulled out the garlic powder to supplement with the minced garlic I ended up using

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Bake for 20-25 minutes at 425

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Add your lemon juice and Parmesan cheese…I had some leftover Sargento in the fridge

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YUUUUMMMMMM!!!!

Roasted Broccoli Recipe

Ingredients
4-5 pounds of broccoli
5 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1.5 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
zest and juice from 1 lemon

Directions
Preheat your oven to 425
Take 2 large bunches of broccoli and cut it into florets.
Wash them and dry them super thoroughly.
Put some tin foil on a lined cookie sheet.
Place your broccoli on the cookie sheet and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top, sprinkle with kosher salt and some black pepper to taste.
Slice 4 heads of garlic and place these on the cookie sheet, too.
Now toss it all together.
Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the broccoli is crisp tender and getting a bit brown on the tips.
Remove the pan from the oven and zest a lemon over the broccoli, followed by a squeeze of lemon juice.
Drizzle a little more olive oil on top, sprinkle on some parmesan cheese and toss.
Enjoy!

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to eat broccoli any other way. The lemon juice and zest really enhance the flavor of this dish. My husband and I paired the broccoli with some roasted chicken. If you try this recipe, please tell what you think! 🙂

P.S. Next up this week will be my tasting of some bacon and cheese flavored crickets I picked up at the market in Charleston. Video will be included so you don’t want to miss 🙂


One Year Anniversary {Personal Post}

Once again it has been a hot minute since my last post. I’ve been away on a small getaway to Charleston which has left me with exhaustion but plenty of yummy things to share this week. However, today I wanted to post pictures from my recent one year anniversary shoot with my husband. Being the food and dessert lover that I am, I had to incorporate some cupcakes! It was hard to choose the handful that would go on my final disc. These pictures were done by JWoodbery Photography who can also be found on facebook.

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Mocha Chiffon Cake

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IMG_1097Wedding cake. One of the things I look forward to the most when attending a wedding. It also appears that wedding season is upon us in full swing. The cake you see above is actually my wedding cake from almost just a year ago that my aunt and her best friend made for my wedding as a wonderfully beautiful and tasty wedding gift. In terms of the flavor of the cake, they created a mocha chiffon cake with  buttercream frosting that I absolutely love. The cake itself and especially the icing is not very sweet which makes it a cake that some people love and some may not. To accommodate everyone’s palate, we provided an additional sheet cake of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (another favorite that my aunt makes) and a chocolate cake appearing to look like an NFL football field and my husband in his recliner after the day in the office (my husband is a fantasy football fiend).

IMG_7803-2If you’re interested in trying this mocha chiffon cake for yourself (I love it personally), see my aunt’s recipe below to make your very own, One thing that she has always cautioned me is that it’s a fairly delicate mixture and may take a few tries to get just right. You’ll want to work fast with the batter to make sure it’s blended well and with the icing you’ll want to add the milk mixture slowly so that it doesn’t get watery and blends well with the butter.

Mocha Chiffon Cake

8 Eggs @ Room Temperature (Separate Yolk & White)

1 ¾ Cups Sifted Cake Flour

1 ¾ Cups Sugar (Use ¾ cup sugar with egg white & 1 cup for the yolk)

1 ½ tsp Baking Soda

1 tsp salt

½ cup oil

2 tsp vanilla

½ tsp cream of tartar

¾ cup boiling water

2 tsp instant coffee

2 tsp unsweetened cocoa

Combine coffee and cocoa in a cup and add boiling water, mix and let cool. In a large bowl sift cake flour, 1 cup of the sugar, baking soda & salt together. Make a well in the center. Pour the oil, egg yolks, vanilla and cold coffee mixture. Mix until smooth. In a large bowl sprinkle cream of tartar over egg whites. Beat at high speed until very stiff peaks forms. Add ¾ cup sugar and continue beating until well blended. Pour batter over egg whites, with a rubber spatula; fold under and over motion until blended. Pour into ungreased pan or line the bottom with parchment paper and bake at 325˚ for 50 minutes.

Frosting:

1 lb. unsalted butter (room temperature)

1 lb. “I Can’t believe it’s not butter” (room temperature)

Confectionery sugar to taste

1 cup warm whole milk, mixed with 1 tsp. cocoa and 1 tsp. instant coffee

Whip butter and margarine on high speed until well blended.  Continue beating and gradually add milk mixture and sugar to taste.

*** If you end up making this recipe yourself, please let me know about your baking experience and what you think of the taste of the cake 🙂 Below I’ve also got a few pictures of some of the wedding cakes my husband and I have been able to taste recently at friends and family’s weddings 🙂

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