Monday, June 23, 2014

Sweet 16th: Almond cake with pear

I made a new recipe this week!  It has been a really long time, and I am sorry for that, but you know I can't be creative in all areas all the time. Sadly.  Anyways, this recipe was inspired by something I saw on a desert menu at a little cafe in Seattle. They didn't actually have any left so I couldn't try it, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. And so, I made up my own version.  So now, let me share with you my pretty, simple little almond cake :)

To make this you'll need:

4 Tablespoons of butter (1/2 a stick) at room temp
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup almond paste
1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs at room temp
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
a pinch of cinnamon
1 pear (I used a Tosca, cause that's what I had)

In the bowl of a mixer, combine butter, shortening, almond paste, baking powder, sugar, salt, and vanilla.  Mix it for a couple minutes, it starts to get a bit sticky. Make sure to scrape down the sides a couple times.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each.

Add in a third of the flour and mix.  Then add half of the milk, mix. Another third of flour, then the rest of the milk and the rest of the flour.  You get the idea.  Mix after each addition. 
Lastly, stir in a pinch of cinnamon.

You should have a pretty thick batter.

Pour the batter into a 9 inch round baking pan that has been oiled, floured, and the bottom lined with parchment.

Spread the batter out in the pan so the top surface is reasonably flat.

Now peel, core and slice the pear into very thin pieces.  I used about half of a pear, which meant I got to eat the rest.  No complaints here.

Now lay the pear slices on top of the batter in the pan in any lovely design you choose!

Now pop the cake in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

When it is done, let it cool in the pan for a little while before digging in!  This cake is moist and dense but still fluffy, and very almondy.  It's kind of like just eating the middle part of an almond filled croissant :)

My strange child decided he didn't really like this for some weird reason, but that means more for me!  Time to break out the Wii fit again...

Anyways,  I'll leave you with a preview pic of his Halloween costume instead of a toddler approval photo.

Happy Baking!

*edit: I forgot to include the amount of flour in this post originally! Ooops! It's in there now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Star Wars shirt

We all eventually go through the time when all of our friends start to get married. This is that year. I get to go to three weddings this summer, which of course means dressing not only myself but my guys as well. The hubby can take care of himself in that area, but the little man has some pretty strong opinions when it comes to dress shirts. After going to countless stores with no success, I made a comment about making one. Well of course the little dude jumped on that and decided he wanted a Star Wars shirt. Yeah.

The quest for decent Star Wars fabric began. I finally wound up on Spoonflower (of course) where the little man picked out this fabric:

I got the basic cotton since it's a kid's shirt, washable, wearable, etc. I had made a test shirt previously and made both the test and the actual shirt from McCall's M6222 pattern. It's not a perfect pattern but worked tolerably well. Some weird stuff in the way the collar and facings fit together. The kiddo also picked out the buttons for the shirt. Here are some beauty shots.

And a final shot of the very happy kiddo.

Happy sewing!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Birthday Party

Sorry I've been so quiet around here. This spring hit me hard and I'm forced to take naps in the afternoons just to keep up! I know it's bad when my relatives start asking "when are you gonna post a blog?" (You know who you are.)

I have loads to talk about but I figured I'd start out with a post about the little man's 5th birthday party. This was the first time we've ever done a party with friends from school. It was lots of fun but way more stressful for me. We got a picnic shelter at a nearby park. It rained so I was very thankful for the shelter, plus we had a lovely view!

This is at Lake Wilderness Park. We kept having small flocks of ducklings swimming up to the shore too, free entertainment for the kiddos.

Little man wanted a Lego themed party, so after scouring pinterest and feeling slightly intimidated by all the crazy ideas, I narrowed it down to a few that I could pull off in my time frame.

I made a Lego beanbag toss game complete with the brick shaped beanbags.

I got the idea here.

Mainly the kids ran around, played at the nearby playground and chased a giant beach ball.

I made chocolate cupcakes with gummy candy Lego guys. I have to give credit to the little man for requesting sprinkles last minute. It really pulls the look together on these.

Goodie bags were Lego themed too, and I have to admit I had a really good time making them.

There were 10 different faces to choose from, each with a twisty straw, those hard building brick candies and a mystery minifigure.

The next day consisted almost entirely of putting together and playing with new Lego sets, so that was fun. All in all a successful 5th birthday! (oh my gosh he's five! Where does that time go?!)

Bye for now.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lemon souffles!

Martha Stewart magazines are probably the original Pinterest. Full of too perfect crafts and foods with instructions that always seem easy enough until you're in the middle of them. But the outcome is too irresistible to pass up so despite knowing better, you think 'well maybe this one will be different' and try it anyways.

Anywho, this happened to me this week when I came across a link to a Martha recipe from a few years back. This one.  Lemme just put this in here. If you have any little cuts on your hands, or hangnails, Do Not Try This. Or if you can't resist, do yourself a favor and wear gloves. In all my years working with lemony flavored desserts and such, I have never ended up quite this coated in lemon juice.

But let's get on with it! The amount of soufflé this makes is enough to fill eight large lemons, but if you don't want that many you can always bake some in small ramekins like I did.

You'll need:
8 large lemons
3 eggs - separated
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
Powdered sugar for dusting

Step one, prep your lemons. Wash them. You'll be eating out of them so really it just makes sense. Next, cut off the nubby end of the lemons so they can sit upright without assistance.

Make another cut at the top of your lemon, parallel to the first, so you can scoop out all the insides.

Now the tricky part. Hint: this is where you get covered in lemon juice. Scoop out the insides. The Martha recipe recommends a melon baller or a grapefruit spoon. Hah! A grapefruit spoon may have worked but I don't have any. What I ended up doing was using a very sharp knife, I cut around the opening between the lemon flesh and the pith about an inch deep. Then I used the melon baller to scoop that out and to gouge the rest out. The inside wasn't pretty but the top lip was and that's what matters right?

Here's what they looked like after being scraped out. Make sure to get all the seeds out!

Also, save the innards by scraping them into a sieve over a bowl. You want that lemon juice!

I'm sure it's pictures like these that started the trend of only showing the finished product rather than the process. Lemon guts just aren't very pretty.

Now that your shells are prepped, it is time to make the soufflé. In a heat-proof mixer bowl, beat together (on medium) the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the sugar, 1/4 cup of the lemon juice you saved, and the flour using a whisk attachment. After a few minutes it should be a pale yellow.

Like so. Place the mixer bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly for eight minutes. The mixture should get quite thick. Put it back on the mixer and whisk until it has cooled down, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Transfer it to a medium sized bowl. It should look like this when you're done.

Next up, in a clean mixer bowl, combine the egg whites and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Place this mixture over the pan of simmering water and stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm. Don't over-do it or the egg whites will start to cook.

Put it on the mixer and whisk on low speed until frothy. Then increase the speed and whisk until it is shiny and holds soft peaks. Stir about 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture, blending well. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

Place your prepared lemon shells on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fill them carefully to just below the brim.

Pop them into a 350 degree oven for 14-16 minutes, or until the soufflé has risen about an inch and the tops are just starting to tan.

Here you can see I didn't fill them all evenly, oops! But you can also just see the two ramekins in the background so that shows how much this makes aprox.

And now the fun sugar dusting part.

Aww, so pretty.

So these are relatively simple once you get past the scooping out of the lemon innards part. And so so so delicious. I think I like them better then lemon bars! The only thing that could make them better is a shortbread cookie stuck in the top.

The top part has a very slightly crisped coating, like when you roast marshmallows and peel off just the outside layer. Then the part inside the lemon is extremely juicy from being baked in lemon juice. You need a spoon to eat these, and you might find yourself picking up the lemon peel and drinking any juice you couldn't get.

So go forth and bake! And then report back and tell me I'm not the only one who covered my kitchen in lemon :P

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grad school

I mentioned just the other day that I was waiting on one last graduate school response letter and of course I got it the day after I said something about it. Isn't that how it always seems to work?! Anyways, I applied to four schools this year and received four no answers with varying degrees of explanation, a couple of them quite informative and helpful. Such is life I suppose, nothing to do but to try again next year. And I did learn that while the degree that I want is costume design, the school that I want ideally will also offer a good variety of costume production and crafts courses as well.

I'm really not looking forward to writing admissions essays again though.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Costumes and Legos. Story of my life.

I think I probably mentioned a while back that I was costuming some shows this spring and I'm thrilled to report that the first one is opening this week! Even though it ended up being mostly just alteration work, I had a good time working on this first show, Life is a Dream but it did result in tears a couple of times. I find that to be pretty normal. Stress levels go up and tears come down. I doesn't help that I'm still waiting for a response from one of the grad schools I applied to.

As much fun as the first show was to work on though, I'm excited to see it go and to start in on the next one, Don Juan in Chicago. Because, well, I get to make fun silly things like panniers and a collar ruff and other such nonsense. I enjoy making silly things, and I get to work with some really lovely people too. Very obliging actors who will make the most of ridiculous costumes!

On a different note, my son and I went to the Lego store the other week and I made our family out of legos. Wanna see?

Of course you do.

My hubby there is holding what is supposed to be a briefcase but we're pretending it's a laptop. Much more accurate for him. Little man there in the middle with a popsicle, and me on the right with a coffee cup. Perfect! I even own pants that color, hehe.

Ok, ttfn. No idea if there will be a sweet this month or not. Probably not, but I'll try to come back in a timely fashion and share some costume progress pictures!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sometimes real life takes over...

Aww my poor neglected blog! It has been a very long time. I've been rather busy you see. I got sick, then went to Hawaii (I got better first fortunately), then started production on the first of two shows that I'm costuming back to back. So yeah, busy! Sadly I have no new recipes or anything really exciting to share, but I have a couple of pictures of my little side projects from during this time.

I've made two batches of French Macarons, just to try it. This is my second batch and I even got some little 'feet' as they're called. They are delicious by the way.

I tried some different fillings, nutella, biscoff butter, and the traditional swiss buttercream.

Sneek preview of my next costume. Really this is just the fabric I have so far, it will not be draped like this so that won't help you guess at all.

Close up of the metallic.

I went to Hobby Lobby for the first time ever, now that we have one in Washington. Score! I needed some claws for my upcoming costume and now I don't have to figure out how to make them.
Anyways, that's the recap. I'll try to be back sooner next time. After all, my little man needs a dress shirt this summer for all the weddings we'll be attending, and he has decided that he wants a star wars one. I smell a sewing project coming on!