Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rhubarb Cake

There is one thing that has been enjoying our rainy, cloudy spring and that is my rhubarb.  As you can see, it looks very happy.

There is a pie in the future, but first, I was turning over the idea of an Upside Down Rhubarb Cake in my mind.  So I made sure I had some eggs in the fridge and gathered some stalks of rhubarb.  Pulling them off the plants and stripping off the leaves, which can be poisonous.

Then I found the perfect recipe for me.  I used this recipe from Eating Well for Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake.  I loved the use of Whole Wheat Pastry F'our and I used walnuts, as that was what I had on-hand, but I do think pecans would be yummy.   I also baked it in a cast iron skillet.  I love using this skillet for upside down cakes.

The cake fell out of the pan perfectly.  I felt like this cake was almost better on the second day when the tart and sweet had blended and mellowed a bit.  It was very good.  Thank goodness for Rhubarb, it comes on early when we are craving fresh fruit and vegetables in the northen regions and gives us a big burst of flavor to start off the garden season.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Desert Flowers

We'll continue the flower theme for another post.  My family and I were lucky enough to spend a week in Southern Utah recently and on a hike to Wire Pass we encountered many lovely flowers.  

There were cactus with pink and yellow flowers.  They were very bright and easy to spot.  I apologize for not figuring out the names of these plants, but after pulling the pictures off my camera, I thought they were worth sharing.  Feel free to post the names in the comment area!

There were many of these beautiful bushes all decked out in yellow.

This white flower is pretty common in the desert are.

Luckily, I held onto the camera for the hike out or I would be without pictures to share, so I hope you enjoyed them.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy Spring Tulips

Well, we came back from a week away from home to tulips in the front flower bed.  It's been a long lead up to spring here and I am happy to see these tulips.

It should be known, these are brave tulips, since I know it snowed last week while we were gone. 

These flowers in a flower bed that needs a lot of work, but that won't get done this week by me, so I can't wait until I "pretty it up" to share with you!  As soon as we returned to town yesterday, I started sneezing and blowing my nose non-stop.  So I watch jealously out the window as the hubby mows and edges the lawn, knowing it would not be a good decision for me to go outside today!

This is always the worst week of the year for my allergies,but by next week I should have them under control, as long as I shower when I come back in the house.  Then we'll clear out the dead from last fall and let the rest of the perennials in this bed grow.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ice Cream Cake

Sorry I've been a bit MIA lately.  It's been a busy time of travel recently.  Last week I used a few of the skills I've learned this spring to make a birthday cake for a friend.  She asked for an ice cream cake, which takes patience and time!  Next time I will remember to take pictures at each stage.  Instead I'll just have to describe the stages of this ice cream cake.

Stage 1: Cake
Bake the cake and freeze it.  I baked two layers of chocolate cake in 8" cake pans.

Easier method: Ideally, I would like a springform pan that is the same size as a cake pan.  I will buy a 9" springform pan for this purpose.  Then, I would bake one layer in the springform pan and one layer in a normal cake pan.   This will make sense soon!

Stage 2: Ice Cream
I let the ice cream soften and then made two layers using the cake pans I used for the cake.  I lined the pans with wax paper, to make it easy to get the ice cream out. I used vanilla, as that was the request, but this is where you could really have fun, maybe cookies and cream, or mint chocolate chip?  You could even press crumbled cookies, candy, or fruit into the ice cream layer.

Step 3: Layer
After the ice cream layers were hard I took out all cake and ice cream layers and put them together.  then froze this again overnight.

Easier Method: If you baked the first layer of your cake in the spring form pan, you could combine steps 2 and 3!  You could just put a layer of softened ice cream on top of cake layer #1.  Then add cake layer #2 and add a second layer of softened ice cream and put back in the freezer until all layers are frozen hard together.  I would do it overnight.  Then you just undo the springform sides to decorate.

Step 4: Decorate
To decorate everything needs to be really frozen.  Don't skimp on this time.  There are a lot of opinions out there regarding the best frosting to use for ice cream cakes.  I used a dried frosting mix (found in Phoenix!) and whipped that with whipping cream.  For the decoration frosting, I used a classic buttercream.  It was kind of a beach theme, so I found fun candies for the sides.  You must work quickly and get it back in the freezer to freeze solid.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cinco de Mayo

Yes, you guessed it, I did not pass up an opportunity to have a margarita this week on Thursday, May 5, otherwise known as Cinco de Mayo.  But, I, of course, had to challenge myself.  I wanted a Margarita but with very little, if any sugar.  I believe it is the sugar that causes the hangover - we must stop blaming that poor innocent Tequila! My friend Kim and I only had one each, as that was all that was needed, and it was a Thursday night.

I juiced two oranges and 15 limes (Joe helped with the limes) and followed a rough recipe of 2 oz Tequila, 1 oz Grand Marnier, 1 oz Orange Juice, and 2 oz. Lime Juice.  If you aren't crazy like me, you'll want to add some powdered sugar to that mix, but we thought it was pretty tasty.

I didn't go over board on food.  I just made a quick salsa with chopped tomato, chopped onion, cilantro, dash of salt, dash of cumin and lime juice and the following enchiladas. 

I told Joe we were having Black Bean, Corn and Zucchini Enchiladas, the very next thing out of his mouth was "What kind of enchiladas are we having?"  Meaning.... chicken or beef?  This recipe came from the May 2007 Cooking Light and can be found on Recipe Finder.  I added cilantro and onion to the vegetables, and we found it very tasty.  I also really liked the sauce from the recipe, but I"m sure you could use canned for quick and healthy enchiladas.

I really enjoy cooking and going out to eat with Kim because we both like the same food, lots of flavor and vegetables, only a little meat.

Happy first week of May everyone!