Monday, December 26, 2011

YAY! for Christmas Surprises!!

This year for Christmas I made my sister some pillow covers. I noticed she had no pillows for her sofa, and picked out fabrics in her favorite green. I wasn't able to finish before she got here, so I fibbed and told her the pillows were for the "Friendship Basket" at church. I'm supposed to put in something that represents me and my interests, so I also got fabric to make a pillow cover for the basket, but told her the green ones were for church. 

She was really surprised that the pillows were for her, and said she was jealous I was putting so much effort into pillows for the friendship basket. There are two 18" and 1 14". I used a small fat quarter bundle from Joann's with Kona white. I made small disappearing 9 patches with 3" squares, planning on making just the two larger ones, but had enough to make another small one. 

These pillows were really fun and quick to make, and I'm pleased with how they look and feel. Next up, the pillow that is really for the basket!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

YAY! for Christmas!!

For Christmas Eve dinner I made a Yule Log Cake. I make one almost every year. This is the recipe I use:


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/3 C water
  • 3/4 C flour
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 recipe Fudgy Icing
  • 1 recipe Chocolate Mousse


Preheat oven to 375°

Line a jelly-roll pan with wax paper, grease paper.

Beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Beat in sugar, then water and vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients. Gradually beat into egg mixture. Mix until smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes then turn out onto tea towel sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar. Slowly roll up cake and towel. Let cool.

When cool, gently unroll cake. Spread Chocolate Mousse on cake and re-roll. 

To decorate, pipe fudgy icing with a rose tip in long and short stripes to resemble bark.


6 oz chocolate, chopped
2 cups whipping cream, divided
3 2 T sugar


Bring 3/4 cup cream to a boil, pour over chocolate, stir until melted. Let cool.

Whip remaining 1 1/4 cups cream and sugar to stiff peaks. Fold into chocolate. 


1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1-3 T hot water

Beat butter, cocoa, and sugar. Add vanilla and enough water to make it pipable. 


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

YAY! for penguins!!!

The quilting bug has really bit. I spend a lot of time thinking about quilts and what to make next and reading all the lovely quilt blogs. When I went to the fabric store to get backing fabric for the tree skirt I saw the cutest penguin fabric and thought, "I have to get that for my manager" She LOVES penguins, teal blue is her favorite color, and her birthday was coming up. Then I saw the price tag, $7.99 per yard. That didn't fit my budget. Along came the Black Friday sales and the flannel was only $1.49/yard. I could afford that! So I went and stood in line for way too long and soon I had 7 yards of penguins and a few yards of blue, and enough black for a binding.
Hunter likes penguins too!

I brought the fabric home, looked at it, and finally came up with a block design. I decided to do a rectangle because it seemed more modern, and went with a 2 1/2" strip so the penguins would be mostly intact. I made 6 rows of 5 blocks, but decided that 6 was too long, so I put one row on the back, just for fun!

 I quilted it in straight lines along some of the seams, using my walking foot (which it turns out I can't use with my quilting bar? silly Kenmore)

I'm really pleased with how well this one turned out, and the birthday girl seemed to like it too.

Next up, the zig zag quilt, but first Christmas cookies. 

YAY! for cha siu bao!!

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Cha Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!
This was a great challenge as this is a favorite treat!

Cha Siu Recipe:
1 pork fillet/tenderloin (roughly 1-1.5 pounds) (I used two pork chops because everything at the store was much larger than 1 1/2 pounds)
4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon 
grated ginger
1 tablespoon peanut oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
½ teaspoon ground pepper
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon (2 gm) five spice powder
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon red food coloring (I use a paste color, so I used a LOT less than 1/2 tsp)

Mix everything together an pour most of it on the meat. Let the meat sit in the fridge for 4+ hours. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Heat a heavy pan until it's hot, add meat, cook to form crust of marinade. Put meat in oven and basting frequently, cook for about 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Let cool. Make bun dough:

1 cup milk, scalded and cooled to 100-115F
¼ cup (60 gm/2 oz) sugar
1 tablespoon oil
¼ teaspoon (2 gm) salt
2½ teaspoons (8 gm/1 satchel) of dried yeast
3 cups (420 gm/15 oz) plain flour

Mix together all ingredients. Knead well, let rise until doubled. Punch down and divide into 30-40g pieces. While the dough is rising prepare the filling 
12 oz char sui, finely diced
2 shallots (finely diced)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Stir together in a frying pan or wok. Add ¼ cup water mixed with 1 tsp corn starch, cook until thickened. Let cool while prepping the dough balls.

Press the balls into rounds, put about 1T of filling on each, pinch shut. Place on parchment squares and let rise 15-30 minutes. 
Steam for about 10 minutes, leave plenty of room, they expand a lot!

I steamed some in the rice cooker and some in a large pot with a vegetable steamer insert.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

YAY! for Christmas Quilting!!

I've recently taken up quilting, and have been busy getting things ready for Christmas! I made a new tree skirt
The tree isn't up yet, so the tree skirt is hanging out on a rocking chair, sometimes with a poinsettia pillow.
I used a disappearing nine block (tutorial here) It was a lot of fun to put together. The skirt started as a square, 10 x10 blocks. I got a little carried away and had leftover squares, some of which I turned into pillows for the sofa. I used metallic gold thread for the quilting for a bit of Christmas Sparkle, and I like the way it turned out.

This pillow is living in my bedroom right now
 I've also done a penguin quilt, a post on that will be here soon, and I have fabric to make a yellow and gray chevron quilt. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

YAY! for Sans Rival Cake!!

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.
I made a cashew sans rival with a chocolate french buttercream (from my own recipe, it uses whole eggs not just yolks). The meringue came together quickly and easily. I traced 5 4"(ish) circles on parchment and piped a half recipe onto the rounds. I baked them for about 20 minutes and let cool. I cut a cardboard round about 5" (I just traced bowls for the circles so the sizes are approximate) to stack the cake onto.

The project wasn't too difficult or time consuming. The buttercream I used wasn't as solid as I would have liked, and if someone was paying me for it or I was trying to impress someone I would have added a second coat of buttercream after the first was cold (this makes it easier to get sharp corners with soft icing)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

YAY! for Fancy Bread!!!

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

I used the recipe provided but made my own filling recipes because I wanted to use ingredients I already had. The first filling was made by combining almond meal, cinnamon, sugar, and egg whites in the food processor until smooth and spreadable. 

 The second loaf had a poppy seed filling with lemon zest. I used 2 cups of poppy seeds and boiled them with water. I blended them with sugar and lemon zest
 The dough was wonderful to work with. It rolled out so thin so easily on the sheet. It was very silky 
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp flour
1/4 cup warm water
1 T yeast
1 cup milk
6 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 cups flour

Stir together the first four ingredients, let stand until foamy.

Heat the milk to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool to 105-110F. Stir in yeast mixture, sugar, and salt. Mix in beaten eggs and melted butter. Mix in flour until just barely sticky. It could take more or less than 4 cups, depending on the flour you use and the weather. 

Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Let rise until doubled in size.

Divide the dough in half. Dust a sheet with flour. Roll and stretch the dough on the sheet until super thin. Spread with filling of your choice. Lift the sheet to start the dough rolling. Coil the dough into a greased loaf pan. Bake in a 350F for 15 minutes. Reduce temp to 300F and bake another 30 minutes. If it browns too much, cover with foil.

Let cool completely before cutting.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

YAY! for Cupcakes!!!

I got these yesterday and just HAD to get flowers to put in them.

They are SO CUTE I can hardly stand it!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

YAY! for Candy!!!

The August 2011 Daring Bakers’ Challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

The first candy I made was taffy, from this recipe.

I made root beer and orange with citric acid for tartness.

The second candy I made was dulce de leche bonbons, with Ikea ice cube trays as molds.

I cooked down sweetened condensed milk until thick and caramel colored and let it cool while I tempered chocolate.
Then I put the chocolate in the mold, scraped, and let it drip and set. Then I put in the filling and topped with more chocolate.

The third candy I made was a homemade mounds bar.
I mixed together:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick softened butter
2 14-oz bags sweetened shredded coconut

and chilled for a couple of hours in the fridge. Then I scooped (with my #70 scoop) and shaped into rounds, and chilled again until it was firm (overnight)

Then I dipped using my special dipping forks:
They're just Wilton forks, but I bent them to the angle I prefer.
Then I rigged my special chocolate dipping tool:
Yep, it's a rice cooker. I like that I can turn it on to melt, and take the chocolate off to cool, and put it on Keep Warm to keep the chocolate fluid. I couldn't find my chocolate thermometer, so I used the infrared instead.
The last candy I made was a gummy candy that starts with Jello
Once again I used my handy-dandy Ikea ice molds. Next time I would use less gelatin, as it had a really firm texture.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

YAY! for new toys!!

I need to find a way to store the blades, they don't all fit inside the bowl, but I'm pretty excited. The slicing blade is adjustable from 1 to 6 mm

Thursday, July 14, 2011

YAY! for Noodles!!

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks' July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

I made Käsespätzle, which is spätzle with cheese and onions. It was really good. I have a spätzle maker (looks like this ), which makes it really easy. I layered the noodles with cheese and browned onions and baked until bubbly. YUM! For sure a once in a while treat.

Monday, June 27, 2011

YAY! for Baklava!!

Baklava is one of my favorite WOW desserts, something that's easy, delicious, and impressive. I usually use Alton Brown's recipe, except for the rose water, and make the syrup with orange blossom honey. Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava. I do like it better with the store-bought phyllo, but it was fun to make my own.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

YAY! for Potato Salad!!!

Jami Sorrento was our June Daring Cooks hostess and she chose to challenge us to celebrate the humble spud by making a delicious and healthy potato salad. The Daring Cooks Potato Salad Challenge was sponsored by the nice people at the United States Potato Board, who awarded prizes to the top 3 most creative and healthy potato salads. A medium-size (5.3 ounce) potato has 110 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium and includes nearly half your daily value of vitamin C and has more potassium than a banana!

I made a warm potato salad using red an yukon gold potatoes, with blanched snow peas, asparagus, and green beans, crispy turkey bacon, sliced scallions, and a mustard vinagrette:

1/4 cup oil (I used olive oil)
2 T mustard (I used Maille hot dijon, my favorite)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

It was really good, and made good leftovers later in the week. Yum!

Friday, May 27, 2011

YAY! for Plated Desserts!!!

The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

I decided to go all out with the plating because I haven't done plated desserts since school. I made a half recipe by rounding up on the egg yolks, and didn't need all the meringue, but made it anyway. With the left over meringue I made these.

I borrowed the plate from work, and made a couple of less attractive ones for eating. I really wanted to do mine in a different shape and thought a heart would be fun. I made a croquante of hazelnuts, but forgot to put it on before pictures, so it's not there, but was really tasty.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

YAY! for Soufflee Cookies!!!

This might be my new favorite cookie recipe! They're so easy and delicious. I had extra swiss meringue from another dessert project and wasn't sure what to do with it, and then I remember this post at :pastrystudio. I estimated that I had about 4 egg whites of meringue left so I doubled it (she doesn't recommend it, but I was baking two sheets in each of two ovens, so the batter didn't sit and wait). I cooked the top oven batch perfectly, but forgot that the lower oven is about 25 degrees cooler than the top and underbaked some, which were still tasty, just less pretty and puffy.

I definitely recommend trying this recipe, but be sure to have plenty of milk on hand when you do. :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

I didn't like it much, I think I cooked the roux too fast, it ended up oily and gritty. We made hush puppies to go with and they were great.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

YAY! for Angry Birds!!!

For this year's Scout Spaghetti Dinner and Cake Auction, Jonathan made an Angry Birds cake (with plenty of help and supervision) We used this recipe from, brushed it with a simple syrup soak, iced it with chocolate buttercream and covered it with marshmallow fondant.

YAY! for Maple Mousse

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at!

I made a maple-flavored caramel mousse (made a caramel sauce with maple flavor instead of using maple syrup, I didn't want to buy anything for the challenge) in a florentine cookie cup. I tried to do a chocolate cup with a balloon, but the balloons popped (messy messy messy) and then tried to do a chocolate cup with a tartlet pan, but they didn't come out (grrr), so florentine cups it was! They were really good and reminded us of Hudson Bay Bread, which we always took on trips when I was growing up.

Monday, March 28, 2011

meringue filled coffee cake

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

I tried on saturday to make the cake, but something went wrong twice and the dough never rose. It wasn't the yeast, as it's from the same jar I used a couple of weeks ago to make whole wheat bread, and that worked, so I don't know what went wrong and wasn't up to washing the bowl again, so I'll try it later and hope it works. :(

I tried again and it worked! YAY! I halved the recipe and forgot to halve the sugar, which was too much for the yeast, I think. I spread the dough with sweetened red bean paste before I spread it with the meringue. We LOVED it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

YAY! for Papas Rellenas!!!

Kathlyn of Bake Like a Ninja was our Daring Cooks’ March 2011 hostess. Kathlyn challenges us to make two classic Peruvian dishes: Ceviche de Pescado from “Peruvian Cooking – Basic Recipes” by Annik Franco Barreau. And Papas Rellenas adapted from a home recipe by Kathlyn’s Spanish teacher, Mayra.

I made the Papas Rellanas, but changed the filling. Raisins and hard cooked eggs don't go over well in my house, so I made a filling of onions, mushrooms, spinach, bacon, and cheese. It was fantastic. I served it with sausages and homemade pretzels (I was recipe testing for something later in the week)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

YAY! for Panna Cotta!!!

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies. I made mine a raspberry panna cotta with chocolate ganache with heart shaped florentine cookies.

I changed the recipe a bit to make it raspberry flavored:

1/2 cup raspberry puree
1/2 tablespoon unflavored powdered gelatin
1 cup whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
1/2 cup half and half
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Pour the puree into a saucepan and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the top Let bloom for 5 minutes.
Put the saucepan over medium heat on the stove and heat until the gelatin is melted.
Add the cream, half and half, and sugar and heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from heat and cool before pouring into ramekins.
I used creme brulee dishes, so they set in about an hour and a half.

They were creamy and not too sweet, but the fat content got in the way of our enjoying the dessert, it kind of coated our mouths and stopped us from tasting anything else.

So, I tried again, with yogurt instead of cream to keep the texture and loose the fat, and it was much better. I made a Meyer lemon panna cotta with raspberry sauce and chocolate filigree.

Lemon Panna Cotta

1/2 cup meyer lemon juice
1/2 tbs gelatin
1/3 cup sugar
zest of 3 lemons
1 cup Greek style yogurt
1/2 cup half and half

Sprinkle the gelatin over the lemon juice in a saucepan. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Blend the sugar and lemon zest in a food processor until fragrant, add to gelatin mixture. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Measure the yogurt into a mixing bowl. Add the half and half slowly, stirring after each addition to avoid making yogurt lumps. Add the warm gelatin mixture and stir to combine.

Pour into serving dishes and chill 1-2 hours, or until set.

Top with raspberry sauce and chocolate filigree if you'd like!

Monday, February 14, 2011

YAY! for Japanese Food!!!

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including,, and

Japanese food has long been a favorite in our house. My dad lived in Japan in his late teens and developed an appreciation for the food, which he and my mother learned to make while living in Frankfurt, Germany from some Japanese friends.

Soba salad is a frequent dinner in the hot summer months, and tempura a popular treat for birthdays or New Year's Eve. The first time I made tempura on my own was 10 years ago, when I was just 16.

This month's recipes didn't feel like challenges, but they were sure family favorites!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

YAY! for Fancy French Desserts!!

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

I did mine to be kind of like a Princess Cake, with raspberry and custard and marzipan.

I piped the colored paste in a scroll design to mimic the pink marzipan rope often around the bottom of a princess cake. I made an almond genoise and layered it with a gelatin set vanilla bavarian cream and a gelatin set raspberry mousse. I topped it with the traditional green marzipan and roses.

I decided to do a square because I knew I couldn't make a single piece go all the way around like I would want (and the design would be harder to match up) so I built a cardboard frame, wrapped it in plastic and put it on a square plate to set in the fridge. I forgot to take a picture of it in the frame, but I took one after I removed the cake.

It was delicious, and fun to make.