Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tie Dye

Not just for t-shirts.

My coworker swears she's not a baker. I'd disagree. She wanted to do something special when her adorable daughter turned 2. So she tie-dyed a cake.

She practiced with cupcakes and brought them to work for us to try. They looked awesome and were tasty, too. Then she went all out and made a cake for her daughter's birthday party. I didn't get to sample this time, but I saw the pics. So cool. Her daughter is one lucky little lady.

Cupcake test run

Cake 1
Cake 2

I google imaged "tie dye cake" and the results were fantastic. So I got to thinking, if you can tie dye a cake, what else can you do? Let me just say, I have big plans for my 4th of July dessert this year.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Our Broken Hearts

For our first Valentine's Day as a married couple, M prepared a fabulous dinner. I was in charge of dessert.

My mother-in-law (MIL) makes unbelievable meringue -- and it just so happens to be one of M's favorite desserts. I was terrified to make it, but MIL gave me the confidence to give it a try. I found the most adorable meringue hearts on Joy of Baking. Might as well go all out.

Step one -- bring the egg whites to room temperature. I cracked the first two eggs beautifully, and then had a mishap with the third. Seven eggs later, I successfully separated four egg whites.

Before mixing, the recipe suggests tracing a heart shaped cookie cutter on parchment paper. Then you fill in the outline with meringue to form the hearts. I didn't have a heart cookie cutter, so I improvised, relying on my second grade arts & craft skills.

I also forgot the parchment paper -- and I already learned the "wax paper ≠ parchment paper" lesson. A quick trip to my mom's for the paper and I was back on track.

I used my KitchenAid to mix the meringue. I'm far from an expert, but I do believe a stand mixer is the way to go. I can't imagine trying to hold a mixer and slowly add sugar. I'm just not that good.

After only two calls to MIL -- How do i know when the meringue is mixed? And How should I store it over night? -- it all turned out pretty well.

Since my track record isn't great, I had a backup plan. My mom bought me a Valentine's Day cookie tray, so I made two dozen sugar cookies -- just in case. My sis came over to help me decorate. By that time, I was so confident the meringue was going to turn out, I sent the cookies back to college with Sister. Goodbye backup plan.

Side note: My cookies look nothing like the label said they would. And the best one -- top right -- was one of my sister's creations. Perhaps cookie decorating is not my calling...

Fast forward to Monday night. M and I had a fantastic dinner. Then I whipped up the meringue topping, adding some of my homemade strawberry jam for flavor. We packed up six hearts, topping and fruit -- two for M's parents, two for my parents, and two for M's brother and his gf. After we dropped off the Valentine's Day treats to our family, we headed home to enjoy our own.

M's delicious dinner.

Meringue hearts -- baked and ready!

That's. When. It. Happened. I was mixing more topping while M was cleaning up from dinner. Crash! I turned around to see our remaining hearts all over the floor.

I burst out laughing. Poor M was so upset he knocked all of my hard work on the floor. But it was an accident -- and a funny one at that. M picked up the pieces and tried to mend our broken hearts. Judge if you wish, but we ate that meringue right off the floor. And it was delish!

I can't tell you how many people told us laughter is the key to a happy marriage. Well if that's the case, then we're in great shape. We definitely went to bed cracking up -- pun intended -- last night.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Salad and the Super Bowl

We're always on some sort of salad kick at our house. It almost always involves spinach. I learned from my college nutrition class, the dark green leafy veggies are more nutritious than the lighter green. So spinach > romaine.

Of course, when your current salad kick involves bacon, perhaps that bumps you down a few points on the health scale.

We've been making spinach salads with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, red peppers, onions, pecans, avocado and crispy bacon. M even concocted a fantastic hot bacon dressing to go with it. He uses white vinegar, a touch of honey, sugar, lemon, salt and a bit of the bacon grease. Then he heats it before drizzling over our salads. The white vinegar gives it such a bite. Delicious.

This is what we were enjoying as we cheered on the Steelers last night. Apparently, my yinzerific wine glass wasn't good luck. In case you can't tell, it says "The 'burgh" and has pictures of Pittsburgh. M won it at his work's Steeler party last week. Classic Pittsburgh!

P.S. In M's lifetime, the Steelers have played in 4 Super Bowls. They've won two and lost two. M went to Super Bowl XL (a win) and we went to Super Bowl XLIII (another win). Coincidence that he saw both wins in person and was at home both times they lost? I'm thinking not...