Two Uses for Heavy Cream

28 Nov

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! I did. We were invited to eat with our downstairs neighbor, and she did the vast majority of the cooking. So I didn’t have to lift a finger. Glorious!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to cook. Just not when I have to, you know? I’m sad to say reverse psychology works very well on me. I’ll happily bake fun desserts all day long until someone needs me to make something for a birthday, or until I’m told I’ll have to cook for Thanksgiving. Then I shut down, and get all pouty, and refuse to do it. But if nobody is hungry, we’re running low on eggs, and there are already 3 different desserts made, I’ll be puttering around in the kitchen trying to put something together. Go figure. I’ve never liked Keanu Reeves or Sarah Jessica Parker or Kiera Knightley for the same reason: reverse psychology. Everyone else does (or did). Plus they’re irritating.

But that’s beside the point! The point IS Thanksgiving is for giving thanks. What am I thankful for? A lot of things, most that go without saying: family, friends, Penzey’s, Nielsen-Massey, my 14.6 pound (no joke!) cat. I am most especially thankful for TASTEBUDS! Think about it. Just where would we be today without tastebuds? The world would be bleak and depressing, that’s for sure.

My fondness for my tastebuds was ratcheted up to very high levels the day after Thanksgiving when I made Key Lime Pie Ice Cream. Fabulous, amazing, delectable ice cream. And it tastes exactly like key lime pie. Right down to the texture. Plus, it contains frozen sweetened condensed milk. Take it from me, that is a VERY good thing. I’ll have to do some more experimenting with sweetened condensed milk in my ice cream, because it does interesting things to the texture. And either the condensed milk or the copious amounts of lime juice I used is preventing the ice cream from freezing into a hard brick, another bonus in my book.

Anyway, here’s the recipe. It was taken from Cooking Light, but another blogger fattened it up a bit, and then I fattened it up even more. And you’re getting my version. I love me some calories. Life is too short to diet, am I right?

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream
Adapted from Sugar Cooking

Ingredients
* 2 cups heavy cream
* 1/2 cup bottled lime juice (can be key lime juice if you want to be technical, I just used regular lime juice)
* 1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
* Graham crackers. As many as you like. I used about 4 cookies, coarsely crumbled
Directions:
Combine the first three ingredients. Pour mixture into the freezer bowl, and freeze ice cream according to manufacturer’s instructions. After about 20 minutes of churning, add the graham crackers, a little bit at a time. Add as much as you like. You’ll be able to see the mixture-to-cookie ratio and make adjustments as you see fit. Finish churning the ice cream, transfer to your ice cream containers and freeze for 1 hour or until firm. Serve with additional graham crackers and key lime wedges, if you like. Or just eat it plain.
See? SUPER EASY. Not even very many ingredients. The only thing that may cause a problem is you need an ice cream maker. It looks just like vanilla ice cream with graham cracker bits, and since I neglected to get pictures of yesterday’s batch of ice cream, here’s pictures of my previously posted batch of vanilla ice cream.

Ice Cream!

I love my pint containers. They’re adorable!
I’m also making creme brulee today. I’ve adjusted the recipe to get a better custard, so I’m updating. Use this recipes to impress those around you.
Creme Brulee

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Whisk together sugar, egg yolks, and whole egg in a medium bowl.

3. Put cream, milk, and extracts in saucepan over medium heat. Heat until just below boiling. Tiny bubbles should come to the surface on the edges, and it will be very hot to the touch. Remove from heat.

4. Add a small amount of the hot cream mixture to the eggs to heat them up without scrambling them.

5. Add the rest of the cream mixture and stir thoroughly.

6. Put your ramekins in a baking pan. Divide the cream and egg mixture evenly between ramekins.

7. Add enough hot water to the baking pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

8. Bake for about 1 hr or until set. This can take longer, depending on the depth of your ramekins, so you just have to check on them when time is up. If they are still liquidy, put them back in for a little longer.

9. Cool to room temperature, then chill in fridge.

10. When ready to serve, spread 1 tsp sugar on each custard. Broil or use a propane torch. When the sugar has turned brown and bubbly on top, they are ready.

Here, have a cookie

2 Nov

I made these way before Halloween, so it seems somehow fitting to post them way after. Restoring the balance or something. You know?

I’ve got to tell you, as happy as I am with how these cookies turned out, I’m in no hurry to use black icing again. It got EVERYWHERE. On the floor, on the table, on the counter, on me, in my hair, on my face. I nearly lost a shirt to its fiendish spread, but luckily that was salvageable. Plus it took like hours and half the bottle of dye to get the icing actually black, and not dark purple-y gray.

And then I made these:

Shortbread fingers. Literally. I made them for my boss, who took them to his grandkids and promptly scared them senseless. I hear they didn’t sleep for days. I’m happy to have been a part of such a momentous occasion in their lives. I can’t imagine they’ll quickly forget the time Grandpa tried to feed them fingers.

I would have taken “after” shots, but I was busy trying to get butter out of my pants. Geeze! You’d think that the more time I spent in the kitchen, the less mess I would make, but it seems to be going in the exact opposite direction.  However, take it from me (and those poor children), these cookies ended up eerily realistic. Maybe I’ll post the recipe later so you, too, can traumatize unsuspecting people.  Ah, who am I kidding? In all reality, I probably won’t. Don’t hold your breath.

Hey guess what? I had chili for dinner tonight. That’s right folks, it’s chili weather in NC! At least it was today.

Doodling with Snickers

4 Sep

Wow, I thought I was posting roughly once a week, but I’ve been leaving you all high and dry, huh? Here it is September, and not once have you heard a peep coming from my witty, insightful, and apparently delusion direction. Once a week? Ha!

I haven’t made anything recently that I’ve taken a picture of. Though I am planning some cupcakes later tonight. I’m making them from a box mix and can of frosting. I’m not ashamed to admit that I, too, sink into the depths of cupcake cop-out, and don’t always make desserts from scratch. I’ll throw on some sprinkles to jazz them up a bit, but that’s about as much effort as I’ll put into them. What? It’s labor day weekend. That means I don’t have to labor!

So, not to completely change the topic or anything, but has anyone ever had snickerdoodles? I can’t recall having ever eaten them until the other day. Which is why they were on my list of foods to make. But now that I’ve had them, I’m not sure what I think about them. The recipe I used claimed to produce the “Best Ever Snickerdoodles!” Don’t get me wrong, they were very good. I brought some to work, and as I was sitting in the front doing my job, I heard from the back room, “These are DELICIOUS!” And they were. They just weren’t… memorable. If I was craving a cookie, I wouldn’t think of snickerdoodles. I’d think of oatmeal raisin, or macaroon, or even Oreos! I would crack open my cookie cookbook and have several dozen options dog-eared before I even remembered snickerdoodles existed.

Now, they were good. Nice and chewy, and the recipe I used called for a bit of corn syrup that added a nice texture. You roll them in a cinnamon and sugar mixture, so you get that flavor coating the outside. Plus, their name just tickles me. Haha, snickerdoodle! I snicker when I hear it.

But these are a cookie that lurks in the background instead of taking a starring role. Sure, at some point you’ll probably remember they exist and they’re actually pretty tasty, but in the meantime, you’ll be out cavorting with a chocolate chip cookie, or sneaking a shortbread on the sly, or feasting on a fudge sandwich. Snickerdoodles won’t even be on the radar. Not to mention, don’t they look kind of boring?

I just don’t know. I’m happy I made them at least once, but would I make them again? They were good, but do I even remember how they tasted, besides “good”? They are a very homey, comforting kind of a cookie, but is that enough to pull out the flour and sugar again? I’m so conflicted when it comes to this confection.

So, rather than tax my brain on this perplexing problem, I’m off to read some trashy romance novels and eat cupcakes from a box. Don’t hate me ’cause you ain’t me.

Sugar Cookies: Birthday Edition

19 Aug

So I’ve told you all that I got a full-time job. I really love it; the people are great (both the ones I work with and the ones I help everyday), the job is interesting, and there’s always something new and different to keep you on your toes. And on top of that, my coworkers are turning out to be my best customers! First, I got an order for 3 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies.

And then I got an order for a dozen oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. And my eyes have been opened! I thought oatmeal raisin cookies were delicious. I thought chocolate chip cookies were delicious. But I always turned my nose up at oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Cookies are not supposed to be mixed like that! The proper ingredients need to be with the proper cookies. You can’t go switching things around. That was my mindset until I tasted these cookies, and then I did a complete 180. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies? They are God’s gift to man. Nectar of the gods. The best cookies on earth. No lie. I am a believer, and never shall I doubt the power of the cookie. Plus, when I mentioned it to some friends, not only were they already clued in, but they offered up other tasty variations. Oatmeal butterscotch, anyone?

And because I didn’t package the cookies up like the above picture, I gave the orderer a baker’s dozen. Everyone should have a plethora of these cookies handy at all times.

Trust me.

Next, I got an order for sugar cookies for my boss’s granddaughter’s birthday. When I got the order, I was really excited to be able to practice my piping skills. When I got down to making the cookies, I was way less excited. In my less than infinite wisdom, I waited until after a full day of work to decorate the cookies. They still turned out very well, in my opinion, but I was wiped out. Never doing that again.

I’m still working on my icing consistency, which seems to be the key to excellent sugar cookies, catapulting them from pretty to oh-my-god-that’s-amazing. Interestingly enough (ok fine, interestingly enough to me), it’s not the flood icing that’s giving me problems, it’s the stiffer piping icing. There’s a very fine line between so-stiff-my-hands-cramp-up and not-stiff-enough-so-it-oozes-all-over-the-place, and I keep missing it, though I am getting closer and closer each time.

Obviously, I made more than a dozen. The birthday girl will receive one dozen; the rest were practice cookies/cookies set aside to be used as well-placed bribes.

My mom is in an EKG reading class, where they attach and read those heart monitors you see in movies when people are flatlining. So I made some cookies for her. I think they’re pretty adorable. I’m going to have to befriend a hospital so I can make these again.

My camera had the hardest time focusing on this design. The waviness tricked the camera into thinking it was moving, and I kept getting an alert to hold the camera still. Or maybe I really was shaking while I was taking this picture. Who knows? Who cares?

For the birthday girl. Never again will I write letters on cookies. I must have written this name half a dozen times, and this is the best one out of the lot. How frustrating.

Also, remember my friend Angie? The one who sent me stationary that inspired a set of sugar cookies? She sent me another letter the other day, on new stationary. I feel like she’s challenging me, and I couldn’t resist!

This is the stationary, and at first I was intimidated. How to translate that onto a cookie? This is what I came up with:

Simple, but very pretty. It turned out to be my favorite design of the night. Normally, I like my sugar cookies completely covered in icing, but I was happy to make an exception this time.

So pretty.

So very, very pretty.

Life, Baking, and Blog Update

15 Aug

So.. life has been pretty good recently. I just got hired full time at the place I’ve been working since March!! I really like the office and the people, so I’m really happy it worked out. PLUS the dress code is scrubs, which are so much cheaper than typical office appropriate clothing. And they’re way more comfortable too. It also means that I could get rid of those black pants and collared shirts I was holding onto just in case the full time job I landed required that clothing. Now I have a full time job and an emptier closet. Just the way I like things.

And I’ve started to sell my desserts!! That’s HUGELY exciting! This weekend, I’m working on an order of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and order of sugar cookies for a little girl’s birthday, and some chocolate chip cookies to thank a friend for her help. Last week, I made and gift wrapped 3 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies. They were beautiful. I’m still working on pricing though. I’ve already been told my prices are too low, and they really are, but I don’t want to price my desserts too high and have no one buy them. You know. It’s a balancing act, and I’m still working on it.

3 dozen oatmeal raisin cookies. Sent to a dentist's office...

So, now that I have work during the week and lots of baking during the weekend, my blog has been suffering (as you’ve no doubt noticed). I will try to have posts scheduled  to show up periodically, as I definitely have a lot of pictures and goodies that I’ve been making. It’s not for a lack of material that I haven’t been posting. So I’ll see what I can do. Although, in reality, the people who read this are my friends and family, and they already intimately know what I’ve been whipping up in my kitchen. I’m pretty generous with the samples. The point of this is that if I haven’t been posting a lot, you should probably stop by and see what I’ve been cooking. You might leave with arms full of cookies or cake. Or even apple pie. I made that yesterday. And it was delicious.

Internet, how I love thee.

30 Jul

I love the internet. I can’t imagine what people did before its advent. I asked my mum the other day, and she told me they mostly played with their pet dinosaurs and dodged incoming meteorites. When I asked how they shared recipes, I got a demonstration on how to chisel on stone tablets. There might have also been some weight lifting exercises tossed in there. I don’t know, it was all a blur.

Just kidding, my mom is not that old. Now, my grandma on the other hand… (Just kidding, Grandma!) As a matter of fact, my mom is pretty young for a mother, I think. And she’s cute. Want to see?

Ickle Mum and Lucas

This was at my older brother’s commissioning ceremony. He’s roughly 6’6″, no joke. Funny story: before I met my college roommate, we were friends on facebook and I had as my profile picture a picture of me and Lucas at my graduation. Now, I’m tall (5’10”), but Lucas is significantly taller (about 8″ taller). My roommate did not know how freakishly tall my older brother is, and assumed he was average guy height. Which meant she thought that I was SUPER short, and was very surprised to see me walk in the room. Especially because not only was I taller than she expected, I was a couple of inches taller than her!

Maybe you had to be there.

The point I’m trying to make is I love my mom. I love my older brother (especially when he buys me stuff). And I love my college roommate, though we had not known each other before rooming together. I also love the internet. You can find anything and anyone. You can connect with people you would have never heard of and you have access to all kinds of resources. The cupcakes I made for this post illustrate that. I was reading through one of the blogs I check daily, and I followed a link from that blog to another, and then another. I don’t remember where I started, but after about 5 blogs and a couple of articles, I stumbled upon Glory’s blog: Glorious Treats. She had made some beautiful hydrangea cupcakes, with a technique where she layered two different colored frostings in one piping bag to add dimension and reality to her cupcakes. I opted for something a little simpler, and used her chocolate cupcake recipe and her AMAZING recipe for cream cheese frosting.

I added 2 Tbs blackberry jelly and 1/2 tsp raspberry extract for the frosting and it was absolutely the best frosting I have ever tasted. Bar none. The jelly dyed the frosting a very pretty purple, but didn’t give it a noticeable flavor. The raspberry extract added just the perfect amount of flavor needed. And the mix between the two berry flavorings produced a wonderful, subtle, complex, and overall stunningly delicious frosting.

I brought some of these cupcakes to work to make them love me. And I gave some away to one of my mom’s friends. She’s the one who gave me the Kitchen Aid, so I like to keep her well supplied with pastries and other baked goods.

Speaking of Kitchen Aids, check this puppy out!

Amazon sells Kitchen Aid decals! They’re made by FlameKA.com and there’s a lot of other decals, such as flames, available. But I’m got my eye on this decal set. I was a history major, after all. Though the more intense history buffs out there mentioned that these decals are slightly off in some aspect or another. But I can’t find it in me to care. After all, I can make my useful, but very bland looking, stand mixer look like a WWII plane! I’m pumped!!

And seriously, where would you have found something like that before the internet?

This is Sarah, over and out.

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

24 Jul

If I were still in high school, being forced to write odes or sonnets or any of the million other forms of poetry, they would be dedicated to my bread machine. Words cannot express how much I love that appliance, and thus I would be writing poetry until the end of my days. So it’s a good thing I’m not still in school, as (A) I am not the biggest fan of poetry and (B) writing endless sonnets and free verse poetry in iambic pentameter (not possible, you say? The bread machine WOULD MAKE IT POSSIBLE) would leave me with little time to actually use the bread machine.

This marvelous, magical machine of mine doesn’t look like much. Actually, it looks rather scuzzy. And it is just a few-crumbs-in-the-heating-element away from catching on fire and turning into a raging inferno of gluten and death. Obviously, that needs to be remedied. Today. In fact, if we’re being honest here, that should have been done before I used it to make cinnamon rolls. Since it wasn’t, here is my to do list for the day:

1. Clean bread machine
2. Lavish bread machine with attention and kind words
3. Armor-All bread machine (can you do that?)
4. Find synonyms for “bread machine.” This post is already a bit repetitive, no?
5. Eat cinnamon rolls
6. Go back to bed. Obviously the day can’t get any more productive.

Finished product!

Aren’t those the most beautiful cinnamon rolls you’ve ever seen? It brings tears to my eyes. I doubled the filling from the recipe and didn’t use icing, because that would have made it entirely too sweet. So these are basically candied cinnamon rolls. Go back and read that again. CANDIED. CINNAMON. ROLLS. There are no other words in the English language you can combine that can beat that phrase, and there are no other breakfast ingredients you can combine to beat the taste of these babies.  I’ve basically reached the pinnacle of my culinary life right here. At least for breakfast foods. I made these for some of my mom’s friends, and I got orders for baked goods! Like, paying orders! Exciting, n’est-ce pas?!!

Since I’m the incredibly generous and giving (and lazy) person that I am, I’m going to copy and paste this recipe from the website I got it (with a few tweaks). Now you all can go forth and buy bread machines and become addicted to both this recipe and the bread machine. You’re welcome.

*Note: I am not including the recipe for the icing. I did not like it, and I really think it makes the cinnamon rolls too sweet. So if you want to include icing, you’ll have to find your own recipe. Those are the breaks, kid.

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

From Money Saving Mom

Dough:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm milk
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour (Add a bit more if dough seems too wet after first few minutes of kneading in the bread machine.)
3 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Filling (this is the doubled recipe. You can halve it. You know, if you’re crazy and anti-American.):
4 tablespoons butter
1 and 1/3 cups brown sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Directions:

1. Put the dough ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed and run on the dough cycle.

The absolutely no-effort dough

Sure beats the 58.6 steps you’d have to go through with cinnamon rolls not made in the bread machine, huh? I tell you, I work smart, not hard.

2. After the dough cycle is finished, roll the dough into a large rectangle.

Large rectangle

3. Spread the dough with the melted butter and then the cinnamon sugar filling. If you so desire, here is where you add raisins or pecans.

I'm also in love with brown sugar.

See those clumps of brown sugar? You can leave those, there’s no need to break them down completely. They result in crunchy little sugary nuggets throughout the rolls.

4. Roll up the dough and filling.

5. Cut into 10-15 rolls and place in two greased round cake pans. Make sure there’s some space around each one. The rolls puff up in the oven.

Raw rolls. This is where the drooling starts.

6. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until browned. Sniff the air frequently. Call up your friends and brag about your baking prowess.

Hello, I love you. Won't you tell me your name?

7. Put a plate over the top of the rolls. Flip the plate and the pan so the plate is on the bottom. Lift the pan.

Make sure you scrape up the bits of brown sugar that adhere to the bottom and spread them on the rolls. Step back and admire your artwork. Take a lot of pictures. We won’t judge you over here. Enjoy!

* You can also cover the unbaked rolls with plastic wrap, stick them in the refrigerator overnight, and then bake in the morning. Fancy!

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