Sunday, April 22, 2012

Party Desserts

Going away parties are always bittersweet. You're sad to see a good friend go, but happy for them as they move on to something bigger and better! This weekend we had a going away party for a close friend of so many. It was only right to send her off with an awesome party. There were good friends and great food:).

This was a good opportunity for me to try my hand at making a croquembouche. I've been wanting to try it for a long time, and with the party's theme being "french bistro" what better chance did I have? 

I'm not going to lie, it was a little stressful. But I'm really glad I did it and it was a success! 

After a batch of screwed up cream puffs (I apparently can't count eggs) and feeling discouraged, I plowed through it and made a second batch and got to work!

Here's the link to my post with the recipe for cream puffs. I'll edit this post later today or tomorrow and add in the recipe my mom used for the pastry cream filling, it was delicious! I'm not usually a pastry cream fan but it was perfect:). Thanks mom!

I went back and forth about how to assemble it. I was initially going to build the puffs up on themselves, but as I did more research I decided to build them around a cone. That would give it the best shape, not to say you can't simply stack them, but you won't get a nice structured cone look to it.

I got 8" cake boards and a 12" Styrofoam cone at Joann's. Cut a large piece of parchment paper or wax paper and cover your cone with it.

I secured it with toothpicks on the side seam and on the top. Trim the bottom so there's no overlapping  and secure it to your base using some corn syrup.

I made the puffs on Thursday and kept them in airtight containers in the freezer right until my mom and I went to assemble it Friday night. 

Melt your chocolate in a double boiler and take your puffs out of the freezer. Using a pastry bag with a #2 tip, fill your puff. Some were a little too hard so you can use a toothpick to start a hole then get the tip in there. My mom got the hang of filling them quickly, we only had a couple explosions:). 

Take the filled puff and dip the bottom in the chocolate, coating it generously and adhere it to the cone. Work your way around the base and continue working your way up. Make sure your puffs are as close together as you can get them. If they start to thaw too much simply swap them out for new ones from the freezer and put the soft ones back in to cool down.

We put the whole thing in the fridge when we were half way up the cone, just to let it set for about 10 minutes, then continued. As you pass the toothpicks holding the wax paper down, remove them. The chocolate will seal the edges. Also, at the end I put some melted chocolate in a pastry bag and piped some into any gaps, so none of the wax paper was showing. 

I didn't count, but I had 71 creams puffs, we ate 3 and had about 10 took about 58 to cover the cone. 


Yes, I'm dumb and we had 1 significant gap that was to small for a puff but big enough to look dumb. I don't know why I didn't put that facing the wall. But who cares! I think it came out really good. I just surrounded it with the extra puffs and did a little drizzle on top. 

I was so nervous about it falling apart but it did the was really stuck on there! 

All in all I was really happy with it. Now I feel much more confident if I ever end up making one again, which I would like to do! It can only get easier and improve right?

I also made lemon cupcakes with a raspberry cream filling.

Courtney requested chocolate with white chocolate mousse and lemon with some fruit filling. Since I didn't think those would quite go together in one cake (ha!) I made these and ordered a chocolate/white chocolate mousse cake from Rhea at Rhea's Rockin' Cakes who I used to work with at Butterwood's.

The cake was perfection. Rhea always does an amazing job, and she did not disappoint! She made a 12" chocolate cake with three tiers of cake and two of white chocolate mousse filling. Everything was delicious about it! She rocked the piping as well. All we did was add the edible flowers right before we put it out.

I wasn't counting, but I probably got about 60-65 appropriate sized slices of cake out of it. This is a beef of mine. I can't tell you how many times I've been to a party and gotten a gigantic piece of cake that's just too big to eat, and then they run out of cake. Or, I get a sliver of cake that you can practically see through because it's so thin. *le sigh*

So that's pretty much it. There was a ton of other really great food, everyone worked so hard on this party and did such an awesome job! 

Now I'm paying for eating all those goodies:(. Totally worth it though! 

I hope everyone had a good weekend!!

I'll be back to add the recipe for pastry cream later:).

Friday, April 20, 2012

Limoncello Blueberry Cooler

With the weather being so nice today, I wanted to find a refreshing sparkling drink to have. Something cool, with a little fizz and the tastes of summer!

With tomorrows high being in the 40's I have to take advantage of the 70's today. So I'm opening all the windows, driving with all the windows down, sporting shorts ( yes, I'm wearing shorts!) and flip flops. All while enjoying this drink while I'm baking cupcakes and stressing big time over the croquembouche I'm suppose to assemble later today with my mom!

Things always seem so simple in my head...

Limoncello Blueberry Cooler

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) limoncelle liqueur, chilled
  • 1 cup sparkling water, chilled
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 5 fresh mint sprigs, crushed and extra for garnish
  • crushed ice
In a pitcher, combine limoncello, sparkling water, blueberries and mint.

Fill highball glass half way with crushed ice and pour about 1/2 cup of limoncello mixture into glass. Garnish with mint.

I made a single drink, not a whole pitcher. It was approximately 4 oz limoncello, 2 oz sparkling water and I just threw in a few blueberries and one mint leave. 

It was really delicious and I'd love to try it with different berries, or a combination of a few different kinds!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I realize I have been missing in action lately. Matt and I have had a lot of late nights working and I just haven't gotten myself motivated to post in awhile due to sleepiness...and possibly a little bit of laziness. But I have been cooking, and I have been snapping photos. I'll try and catch up over the next week or so. Only to probably go MIA again in about a week because I'm getting my wisdom teeth out next Friday! Woo-hoo! It's the perfect anniversary present to myself lol.

I have been pinning lots of smoothie recipes so I'll probably do a round up of all of them and post it when it's all said and done. If anyone has some suggestions for filling, easy to eat foods that I can have after my wisdom teeth come out, please feel free to share!

Anyway, on to the task at hand. Actually posting a recipe:). I made these mini zucchini pancakes a couple weeks ago for something new to try. They sounded really good and I thought they'd make for a nice, easy lunch throughout the week. Well, I was right! These are really good over a spinach salad with balsamic dressing, paired with some applesauce, or topped with a dollop of sour cream and chives (and maybe bacon, you know.....because they're can totally get away with it. ha!).

Zucchini Pancakes

You will need:

  • 2 medium zucchini, grated
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated parm cheese
  • 6-8 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil spray
Grate zucchini using the large holes on your grater and place in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and spray with olive oil. Spoon onto skillet, about 2 tbsp per pancake. Cook each side until brown. Set aside and keep warm. Continue with batter, makes about 20 small pancakes.

These things smell awesome. I'm warning you now, you'll want to devour them all. I put them by 5's in freezer bags and when I want them, I heat up a bit of olive oil in a small pan and give them a quick fry. A serving size is 5 pancakes, at 134.9 calories, 4.7 grams of fat, 16.2 carbs, 3.5 grams of fiber, 8.7 grams of protein and 2.1 grams of sugar.

Source: Skinnytaste

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oatmeal Banana Muffins

I saw a recipe for Oatmeal Banana Bread on a friends pinterest the other day and realized I have all the ingredients, and they sounded really yummy, so I set out to make them today. I changed up the recipe a bit and made muffins instead of a loaf. I actually don't even own a loaf pan...I may need to remedy that soon :).

These muffins are crazy good. The only regret I have is not putting chocolate chips in them. I thought of it right as I was putting the crumb topping on them :(. I'll have to add them in next time, because there will be a next time!

Oatmeal Banana Muffins

You will need:

  • 2 whole, overripe bananas
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup fat free milk
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup old fashion rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of ginger
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp ground flax meal
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the topping: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup oats, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg, pinch of ginger, 1 tbsp brown sugar and 1 tbsp melted butter. Stir to combine and set aside.

For the muffins: Mash the bananas in a medium bowl, then stir in the milk and egg. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, 1 cup oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, pinch ginger, pinch nutmeg and flax meal. This is also where I would have added mini chocolate chips if I was thinking clearly ;). I am saving those for buttermilk scones though...

Pour mixture into 12 lightly greased muffin tins, about 2/3 full, and sprinkle with the topping mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to make sure they will come out cleanly and let them finish to cool on a rack.

These smell so good and taste even better! They have just enough sweetness from the overripe bananas and brown sugar crumb topping. I really enjoyed them. I quickly added the ingredients into an on-line calorie counter and these come out to be approximately 150 calories, 2 grams of fat and 4 grams of protein per muffin, not to bad!

Source: adapted from Greatist

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Not Exactly Lard Lad Donuts

I've been wanting to purchase a doughnut pan for awhile now, and the other day at Target I finally got one, it's Nordicware! I was so excited to test it out that as soon as I got home I decided to find a doughnut recipe and make them right away.

Since I've been trying to make better choices when it comes to the foods I'm eating I figured I should try and make doughnuts that weren't full of fat and sugar. Right off the bat I knew baking them would make a difference, as opposed to deep frying them. I found this recipe on Of course, they are not the same as a deep fried doughnut. You can't go into making these expecting that. But they were a nice treat, with more of a cakey texture then fluffy doughnut.

Baked Buttermilk Doughnuts

You will need:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine flours and next four ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl and whisk together. Combine buttermilk, eggs, honey, butter and vanilla in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture into flour mixture; whisk until just combined.

The recipe said to spoon the batter into the pan...yea, don't do that.  I spooned the batter in for the first batch and it just doesn't get a nice rounded look to it, it was kind of bumpy and uneven. Put your batter into a ziplock bag and cut the corner and pipe the batter into the pan until 2/3 full. 

Bake in heated oven til they spring back when touched and are golden brown on the bottom (about 8 minutes). Let cool in pan four a few minutes and turn out. Coat with toppings, if desired.

I dipped half of them with some melted nutella and sprinkles, and the other half I coated with a lemon glaze made of confectioners sugar and fresh lemon juice.

In my opinion, the nutella ones blew the lemon ones out of the water. I'm really looking forward to trying out different recipes! This is a really fun kitchen tool and for only $7!



Plain Doughnut: 140 calories per serving
Lemon Glaze: 191 calories per serving
Nutella Dipped: approximately 220 calories per serving

The website gives more extensive nutritional information.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fruit Swap

The theme of the swap, put together by atasteofhomecooking, this time around was fruit. Your recipe could be sweet, savory, have any type of fruit, made in any matter. I received Strawberry Sour Cream Pie from Kate over at katesrecipebox. I was very curious about this recipe. Usually I'm very anti sour cream, it's one of those things that I'd really like to enjoy, but just can't. I was excited to see how it would turn out in a pie!

One downside about making this recipe was that this is not the time of year to get quality strawberries. I bought some at a local market and it only took eating one to return them to the store. Blech! Thankfully I was able to get some nice ones the next day, and I set out to make the pie:).

Strawberry Sour Cream Pie

You will need:

  • 1 prepared pie crust
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup flour
  •  1 1/4 cup sugar, reserve 1 tbsp
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup sour cream, not non fat
Pre heat oven to 450 degrees. Hull and wash the strawberries and cut them in half, set them aside. Sift the flour, sugar and salt in large mixing bowl. Add sour cream, blending until creamy. 

Gently fold in the strawberries.

Pour mixture into the pie shell and spread around, without packing down. There should be spaces throughout the filling. Take the tbsp of sugar and sprinkle over top.

Bake the pie for ten minutes, and then reduce heat to 350 degrees (keep the door open for a minute to allow the temp to drop). Bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until the crust has browned.

Broil the pie for 2-3 minutes to allow the top to brown. Unfortunately my broiler does not work, so I wasn't able to do this step. Instead, I let the pie cool completely and then I made some whipped cream and piped it on top, to hide the paleness hah.

I put it back in the fridge until dinner at my parents. The first bite took me aback. I wasn't sure what to think. It was creamy, it was was...delicious!

As you can see, everyone else thought so too. I managed to polish off the leftovers over the next 3 days:).