"She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27

Monday, August 29, 2011

Spaghetti Sauce

I know this has nothing to do with baking or sewing, but I have had several friends ask me for my recipe for spaghetti sauce.  Rather then write it out one by one, I figured I would put it on my blog and share it that way.  Ya'll don't mind do you?
My sauce is different every time I make it.  I don't measure anything.  The first time I made spaghetti sauce, I made baked spaghetti using Paula Deen's recipe.  I have adapted it over the years.
My pot would only hold eight cans of organic tomato sauce.  Sometimes I use puree, it doesn't really matter.  Next time I would love to use fresh organic tomatoes, but unfortunately I have a black thumb and kill everything I try to grow.  Put all the cans in your pot.
I like to use a green bell pepper and either a yellow or red bell pepper.  The green one was very big so I only used half since green has such a strong flavor.  I used about half a bulb of garlic and a little more then half of that onion.  We like lots of garlic but not very much onion.  Sometimes I will also roast a garlic while the sauce is cooking and add it also. 

Normally I would put it all in the blender with some of the sauce, but my blender is an attachment to my mixer which is at the repair shop right now.  I used my chopper instead which got it pretty fine.  My husband likes to pretend that there are not any veggies in my sauce, so no chunks allowed.
I really don't measure, but use about a tablespoon of Italian seasoning (I get mine from the bulk section at Central Market or Whole Foods), about a tablespoon of pizza seasoning (we love the all-natural Frontier brand, this was also bought at Whole Foods), depending on the size of the bay leaves 2-4.  Remember to take the bay leaves out at the end.  About 1-2 teaspoons salt.  You don't want to over salt, I did that once.  You can always add more salt at the end of your cooking time.  A tablespoon of sugar, I use palm sugar. 

I love my garlic press!  I hate chopping garlic, but my chopper would do a good job also.  I usually throw the garlic in the blender with everything else, the blender makes the process a lot faster!

Simmer on low for about three hours, stirring frequently.  I used a wooden spoon since my pot has an enamel coating.  Don't you just love the green?  After about 3 hours (the long cooking process allows all the flavors to meld and you no longer have the tomato taste).  Be sure to taste it and see if you need any more seasonings.  If you are going to be canning it, add about a tablespoon or so of lemon juice?  This was my first time and I guessed, it needs the higher acid content for water bath canning.

My stock pot was too short and small, so I could only can fit three pint size jars.  See the mess I made?  After I started the water bath canning, I added a pound of hamburger meat. 

You need a pressure canner to process meat, which I do not have.  I need to cook the meat sauce for another 30 minutes at least, but I cooked it for another hour.  I then filled two quart size jars.  After they cool down, one will go in the freezer and the other will go in the fridge.
I let them boil for 35 minutes and then pulled them out.  The lids started popping as soon as I pulled them out!  YEAH!  (Update: My husband likes for me to add a pound of hamburger meat for the last 30 min. to an hour of cooking.  When I do I have to can it in a pressure canner.)
With the sauce still left in your pot, make a batch of spaghetti for supper that night!  Don't forget to add the grated Parmesan cheese on top.  Oh, and if you try to serve this much spaghetti to your husband, expect to hear him complain for a bigger portion!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nursing Cover

I think a nursing cover is just like an apron that is made for modesty.  These are great for mothers who are still nursing.  This is my second nursing cover I have made.  I made my first one for Skye here: http://missyscakesandaprons.blogspot.com/2011/05/couple-of-things-ive-made.html and she said to make the casing for the boning smaller and use D-Rings for adjustability (probably not a word, but it fits)on the neck tie. 
Clarissa wanted to give Ashley a nursing cover for her baby shower (remember the monkey cake?)  Ashley had the material, a curtain and a pair of brown scrub pants.  Material can be cheap if you think outside of the box and re-purpose things.
I cut the pocket off of the pants and sewed it onto the cover.  I sat down and put the cover on and put my hand on my leg to decide where to put the pocket.  This way the pocket is convenient while she is nursing.
Have you ever wondered what boning is?  Well, I had no idea!  It is the thing that makes the cover stick out for the mother to see the baby while nursing.
See how it sticks out on top?  (Don't look at my fabric stash, that is what built up while my hand was healing.)  Well, boning is what you use to make a corset.  It is a piece of plastic wrapped in fabric and you cut it to size.  A package is about $5.
This is what the piece I cut off looks like.  Be sure to cut a small piece of the plastic off so you can sew up the ends of the fabric, otherwise when you put it through your casing the plastic will come out, and I didn't want to poke Ashley.
I got a new ruffler foot, I'll tell you more about it tomorrow.  It was my first project to use it on and the ruffle was longer then what I needed.  Instead of cutting it off I wound it up and over the side.  I really liked the way this looked and sewed it on.  I made the ruffle out of the scrub pants.  It took me a minute to make my ruffle!
So easy to make now that I know what I'm doing!
Happy sewing!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monkey Cake

My friend was having a baby shower and I offered to make the cake.  I asked her what kind of cake she wanted, thinking flavor wise, and she told me she wanted monkeys and did not care what the flavor was.  So of course I had to make a banana cake (recipe here: http://missyscakesandaprons.blogspot.com/2011/03/delicious-banana-layer-cake.html )  I doubled the recipe which called for 3 total cups of sugar, but I only had 2 cups of palm sugar left.  With the sweet icing it tasted just fine though.  Banana cake was firm enough to hold up in a 3-D pan.  I also made peanut butter cream cheese frosting (you can find the recipe here:  http://missyscakesandaprons.blogspot.com/2011/08/peanut-butter-icing.html )  It really needed more powdered sugar, but I had also run out of thot not sugar.  This is why I need plenty of warning when people ask me to bake cakes.  My husband and I only have one car and he works 30 minutes away.  We have to go to either Ft Worth or Arlington to get palm sugar and my husband hates driving that far after working all day.
I used my Stand up Wilton bear pan.  Isn't he cute?  You can find the baking and decorating directions at Wilton.com .  I cut off his ears and trimmed his legs.  Then I covered the 8 inch leftover cake with frosting.
I did not have any sugar left to make white buttercream so I was not able to make any extra decorations.  I would have loved for the monkey to be holding a baby bottle or something, oh well!
I did put some frosting inside the bear before I put the middle of the cake from the heating element back inside to give the monkey more frosting.
I made a tail, ears, and legs from rice krispie treats.  The tail did fall down, but still looked okay. 
I started off with one toothpick, but next ended up adding more toothpicks later when they started to fall.  So I would put 1 toothpick on each end, and then after sticking them in the cake, add a toothpick from the front and one from the back where they "crisscross", this will help them to stay put.  I knew I was cutting the cake and could pull out all the toothpicks.  These are the ears!  Be sure to put the ears on the side of his face to look like a monkey.
I then added the legs.  I used a tip 16 and made stars all over the monkey.  When I made the belly, inside the ears, and face the frosting did not firm up enough for me to smooth over with my finger like buttercream does.  I had used a tip 12 to put the "light colored" frosting on.  Oh well, I ended up using my tiny spatula to smooth it the best I could.
Here is his backside, I was told the tail looked like a turkey neck when I pulled it off!  LOL
The funniest part of the cake was when I started cutting it.  I had put a dowel rod down the middle of the cake and another smaller one in his belly to keep him upright and from sliding.  I first cut off his head to lay on the side and start cutting.  Of course all the little girls were standing around me, watching.  When I did this the dowel rod was sticking out of his neck and one of the little girls from my Sunday School class said "His skeleton is sticking out!"  So I looked at her and said "of course he has a skeleton, he would fall over if he didn't have something holding him up just like you do!"  :)
The frosting was soft and held up pretty good in the 110° weather we have been having, but his hip fell off so I grabbed a couple of bananas and put them on the sides to hide it.  I later stuck a strawberry in front of his foot where it started to fall.  Everyone thought it was just part of his decorations!  LOL
Have a great day ya'll!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Peanut butter Icing

I made some peanu butter cream cheese icing, it was delicious!

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat on medium high speed until creamy:
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup shortening

Add and beat until creamy:
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup smooth peanut butter (I had used almond butter and it had tiny pieces of nuts that kept getting stuck in my tips, very annoying!)

Add all at once and beat at low speed until smooth:
4 cups sifted powdered thot not sugar (you can get the recipe here: http://missyscakesandaprons.blogspot.com/2011/02/powdered-sugar-made-from-palm-sugar.html )

Continue to beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
If it is too thick add a tablespoon of milk until you get the right consistency, if it is not thick enough for decorating, just keep adding powdered sugar until it is thick enough.

I ran out of palm sugar and did not have anymore to add, I wish I had of.


Healthy Twinkies

I made healthy "Twinkies" last week.  My husband had bought me a canoe pan a while ago.
Norpro 3964 Cream Canoe Pan With Bonus 9 Piece Decorating Set
As you can see, this is where I got the shape for the Twinkies.  I also made some in regular cupcake pans.  I made a healthy version using  hard white wheat flour.  I found another recipe here that I might try next time. http://www.simplemathbakery.com/blog/2010/02/05/homemade-twinkies

Healthy Twinkies
Preheat the oven to 350°
Have all ingredients at room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat at high speed until fluffy:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups palm sugar

Add slowly and beat on medium speed until fluffy:
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl, sift together:
2 1/2 cups hard wheat white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

At low speed, add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture alternately with:
3/4 cup milk  (do not ever use low fat milk to bake with, the fat makes the baked goods taste better)

Fill each mold or liner three-quarters full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden.  The tops should spring back when lightly pressed.  Cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes before removing the cupcakes from their pans or before turning the cakes out of their pans.

Since the canoe pan only makes 8 at a time, I made some of them in the cupcake pan.

You can't have Twinkies without filling!  You can fill them with anything, but I filled them with whipped cream.  I was out of palm sugar so I sweetened the whipped cream with agave nectar.  I usually use Knox gelatin to stabilize it, but I was out so I used guar gum and it worked great!  You can use a bag, but I used the plastic thing that came with my pan, the whipping cream doesn't melt in my hands this way.

You have to have three spots of whipped cream for the classic look!  As you can tell, I made a mess!  I like to put a towel down when I decorate cakes, it makes clean up a lot easier!

I took them to church and the snack size baggies were the perfect fit for the Twinkies!  I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cheesecake Twinkie Bars

I forgot to take a picture before I tried it, but they were delicious.  I made some gluten free "Twinkie" cupcakes, but they looked funny even though they tasted delicious.  I needed a dessert for church on Sunday but I did not want to spend a lot of time on it since I had been baking Twinkies all day.  So I grabbed 2-3 tablespoons of butter and threw it into a glass pan and threw that into an oven preheated to 350°.  I let the butter melt in the pan this way.
After the butter was melted I crumbled several of the cupcakes into the bottom of the pan.  You can use any kind of cake or cookie for this.  If you want a thin crust, just cover the bottom of the pan, if want a thicker portion of cake, then add more.  I'll share my healthy Twinkies recipe next week.

Cheesecake Bars
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup palm sugar (you can substitute any kind of sugar)
6 egg yolks (I had some left over, feel free to use 3 eggs instead)
1 tsp pure vanilla

Beat cream cheese and sugar together in a bowl until smooth; add eggs and vanilla; beat well.  Pour over crust.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Cool completely.  Cut into squares before serving.  Feel free to add berries over the top.

This is how it looks before baking.  It makes a firm cheesecake, which is perfect for picking up and eating with your fingers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kitchen-aid Artisan Mixer

Artisan® Series | Tilt-Head Stand Mixer | Flour Power™ Rating - 9 Cup
I borrowed Susan's Kitchen Aid this past weekend.  She has an Artisan series.  My two favorite things about this mixer is my color choice, I would definitely get a yellow one, and I love the splash guard.  It works better then the one on my Cuisinart.  I really didn't see anything spectacular about it to be honest.  I only made Twinkies in it.  It is only 325 watts which is not very strong.  I do like the handle on the side of the bowl.  I'll be testing out another kitchen aid this weekend, I have a baby shower cake to make, so we'll see how it does on peanut butter buttercream.
It comes with a nylon coated flat beater and a nylon coated dough hook.  Both of the hooks had the nylon coating chipping off.  I don't know about you, but I would not want that stuff in my food.  Chris saw the hook and was like "you aren't cooking with that are you?".  The mixer I borrowed does not have the nylon coating, but they do look very "oxidized" I guess is the word for it.  I took some pictures of the kitchen aid artisan (small silver), kitchen aid professional hd (white), my my Cuisinart (silver), to show you the size differences.  The hd is on the left, Cuisinart in the middle and the artisan on the right.
My bowl is the biggest and so are my beaters.  The professional has the arms to hold the bowl, which is irritating when taking out the bowl.  Neither one has the timer which is one of my favorite features on my Cuisinart.

I'm not sure how old the other mixers are, but I have had mine for 4 1/2 years and have used it a LOT, and mine look a lot better then the kitchen aids'.  I do put them in the dishwasher.  You can tell the difference in the sizes also, mine is a lot bigger which is great for when I do two to three batches at a time.  I'll give you more information about the professional after I test it out this weekend.
To sum up, the kitchen aid artisan is great for a home baker, but if you need something big with a lot of horse power, this is not it.  When baking cakes and making buttercream for church, I usually either double or triple my recipes, and this Kitchen-Aide would not be able to keep up.

I definitely need a bigger kitchen, due to lack of space my waffle maker and popcorn popper sit out on my counter with my mixer.  There was no room to work with 3 mixers sitting on it this weekend!  LOL
I am open to any comments anyone might have about their mixer.  Remember, I am in the market for a new one!  I wish I could test out a Kenmore, they are sold at Sears.  Since I do not have any information on them, it is highly doubtful I would buy one.
In my opinion,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gluten free cupcakes

I made my first gluten free cupcakes this weekend.  They tasted pretty good, for gluten free!  My husband said they tasted like very good cornbread!  I don't think the texture was that bad though.  My friends wanted me to share the recipe, so here it is!  Enjoy!
Preheat your oven to 350.

Sift into mixing bowl:
3 3/4 cups gluten free flour  (I used Bob's Red Mill All-purpose gluten free flour, next time I will substitute half of that flour for oat flour which is softer, but the all-purpose flour is more binding)
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp guar gum (I got this from Whole Foods, it is cheaper then xanthum gum)  (This is what binds the flour together)

Add and mix to combine:
2 cups palm sugar (you can use any kind of sugar)  Yes, I do want you to add your "wet" palm sugar to the dry flour, it makes a crumbly mixture, like when you add butter to flour for a pie crust.

1 cup + 5 tsp warmed milk (110°F)
4 large eggs
2 sticks very soft unsalted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Beat at low speed with a whisk attachment for 1 minute.  Scrape down the bowl.  Raise the speed to medium-low and beat for 1 1/2 minutes.  Do not overbeat or your dough will be heavy.

3 TB baking powder

Mix at low speed for 30 seconds.

I use an ice scream scoop for cupcakes, it makes them more uniform and with the thingy that scrapes the dough it makes it easier to scoop.
Scoop the batter into the prepared molds, filling each three-quarters full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.

(Side note, I don't know how that picture ended up like that!  LOL)

The tops should spring back when lightly pressed.  Cool on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before removing the  cupcakes from the pan.

This is what the picture is supposed to look like!  LOL

Monday, August 8, 2011

Italian Meringue Buttercream

I love Italian Meringue Buttercream!  It has three ingredients:  eggs, butter, and sugar.  I think this has to be one of the healthiest buttercreams that I know of.   No shortening and half the sugar.  But lots of butter!
First you need to melt the sugar.  I use palm sugar, so it is easier to melt then cane sugar, in my opinion. 
In a saucepan, bring to a boil:
1/4 cup water
2 cups palm sugar
When the sugar comes to a boil set a timer for 7 minutes, and let boil.

After 5 minutes, in the bowl of an electric mixer, begin to whip at high speed:
1 cup egg whites (about 7 large eggs)  I am not exact in this measurement, I'm not worried if there is a little bit extra egg white.

Whip until stiff.  They should be done when the timer goes off.
With the mixer on high speed, slowly beat the sugar syrup into the egg whites, pouring the syrup to the side of the bowl to avoid the whip.

Continue to beat until the bowl is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes.  This works with the plastic bosch, but if you are using a metal bowl, I usually put it in the fridge for ten to twenty minutes to cool down.  If it is not cool, then you will have expensive mush on your hands after adding the butter.

Slowly add:  1 1/2 lbs (6 sticks) butter at room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces and added one at a time.  I forgot to take a picture of this stage.  When the buttercream gets thick, reduce the speed to low.

Mix in at low speed:
1 teaspoon vanilla exract

Bight until light and fluffy.  At some points the mixture might look curdled.  Just keep beating; it will become smooth again.  Seriously, just keep beating it and don't get discouraged, it should firm up.

If it is raining outside and there is a lot of moisture, try cutting out some of the butter.  IMBC does not like moisture.  If you are using cane sugar you want to use 1/2 cup of water and 2 1/4 cups sugar, reduce the water if there is a lot of humidity.  I actually accidently only used one cup of sugar for my last batch, and nobody noticed!  LOL

This is a very rich and moody buttercream.  I once used it for a baby shower cake here http://missyscakesandaprons.blogspot.com/2011/03/his-eye-is-on-sparrow-cake.html and it was very "wet" from the humidity and I could not get it smooth, so I grabbed my green air brush and painted it to look like a bush.
I got the original recipe from Whimsical Bakehouse.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

I made this cake with IMBC, the roses are royal icing


As many of ya'll now, my Cuisinart mixer died on me.  I have some friends though that are letting me borrow their mixers and then give you my opinions on them.   This first mixer I borrowed was a Bosch.  Bread makers everywhere love the Bosch.  I borrowed Siouxsie's universal plus Bosch.  You can get more info and buy the Bosch here:  http://www.joyfullivingforyou.com/boschuniversalpluswithoptionalslicershredder.aspx
I made Italian Meringue Buttercream in the Bosch, and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised!  I used the wire whisks on the meringue.
It has two whisks (the paddles and dough hooks are the same concept with two) and the bowl is designed to fit the shape of the whisks, therefore everything does get mixed.  I think that was my favorite feature.  I do not like the fact that the machine and bowl is plastic.  But when I poured the boiling sugar, in the heat was not trapped in a metal bowl.
The big "mouth" of the bowl without "gear" or the "arm" on top also made it easier to pour in the hot sugar.  I was able to do it all one handed!  (due to my sprained hand and wrist) My 7 qt Cuisinart bowl I would have to put the bowl in the fridge for ten minutes after mixing for ten minutes to help the meringue cool down before adding the butter, however, with the plastic bowl, after ten minutes of mixing it was ready for the butter!
The meringue mixed up well in the plastic.  I also liked the wide base that suctioned itself to the counter and did not move because it was so well balanced.  You can also mix 15 pounds of dough in it.  My cupcake recipe also called for wire whisks, so I did not test out the other hook.  It did a great job though of mixing up both things and I really liked it a lot.  My friends' say it is the best thing for baking bread.  I was not able to test that out though with only one hand!  LOL  No homemade bread for me right now!
Compared to my Cuisinart these are the cons.  It only has 4 speed settings with 800 watts.  This makes it very hard to get the exact speed you want.  My Cuisinart was 12 speeds with 1,000 watts.  The Bosch also made a whiny noise on a lower speed.  It is not easy to scoop the dough or frosting without removing the whisk.  With the Cuisinart you just pull the arm up.  But the arm gets in the way when adding ingredients on the Cuisinart.  There was no timer on the Bosch.  My Cuisinart has a timer and you can set it for ten minutes and if you don't hear the beep, it stops itself.  Which is very nice.  But my Cuisinart is tall and not very well balanced and does "jump" with heavier doughs like gingerbread and does not have suctions.
I also like on the Bosch that the place for the blender attachment is on the side rather then on top.  My blender on my Cuisinart is taller then me when added to the mixer!
My husband did not like it, because he had to take the splash gaurd off for me due to my one-handed status.  He said it is not easy to get off, it was impossible to get of with one hand.  When I asked him what else he didn't like about it he said "I just didn't like it."  LOL  He's a man of few words, unlike his wife!
So my conclusion is that I like different parts of both.  Now what am I gonna do?  LOL

"Oh taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him." Psalm 34:8