Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

Monday, March 31, 2008

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Tyler Florence's Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars (or Squares)

My fantasy boyfriend is George Clooney.
For my sister-in-law, it's Tyler Florence.
I was over their house once, and my nephew said, "Mom, your-th boyfriend-th is on TV-th" (He was three and had three-year old speech).

Okay. Electronics update. In March, I got a new cell phone AND broke down and got the cable DVR. Both, in short order, have changed my life. First, my phone is the LG enV and it has a full QWERTY keyboard. Now, my txt messages will say more than "ok" or "how u"

The other will help my baking. Really. I have Tyler's Ultimate on record-this-series thingy and the first one was Chicken Salad...with Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars. I have been looking for a cheesecake bar and there was Tyler giving me the recipe! I found it online and watched the show twice to make sure I had the technique down.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Yummy ingredients make for a yummy dessert!

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Making the crust with a sleeve of graham cracker, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Easy-peasy. I had to resist eating the rest of the box - graham crackers remind me of my childhood and snack time.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
The filling is made with cream cheese, lemon juice, zest, eggs and sugar. My filling was thicker than Tyler's...but his cream cheese came out of a carton and mine from the blocks. Was his whipped?

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
One pint of blueberries (these are grown in Chile) get thrown on top.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Out of the oven and ready to be cut (be sure to chill the cheesecake several hours or overnight)

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
Although not everyone loves you (Miss J!) like my sister-in-law, but you have a nice recipe! I would definitely make this again!
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Perfect Party Cake

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe)

Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe)

I've joined an online baking community - Daring Bakers! Each month, members make the same recipe and post them on the same day! To learn more about it, or join yourself, check out their website.

This month, Morven selected the Perfect Party Cake from Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home to Yours (page 250). What a perfect challenge...I just bought the book and have been going through a lot of the recipes lately.

Of course, my procrastination gene came out full force... although we have a month to complete the challenge (just post it on the same day) I baked and posted on the same day! Luckily, it's my dad's 76th birthday tomorrow so I had a perfect occasion for the perfect party cake!

Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe) Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe)
Trial #1 - Not-so-perfect party cake

I did try to make the cake on Wednesday night, but the cake came out sooooo flat. I read some other bakers had the same problem...but most of them were using all-purpose flour and not cake flour. However, I used all the correct ingredients (Swan's cake flour and buttermilk) with no substitutions. I don't know what happened!

Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe) Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe)
Yesterday, I tried again and brought all the ingredients to very room temperature in case that was the problem. I creamed the butter first and then added the lemon sugar. Also, I switched from the recommended 9-inch pans to smaller 8-inch pans. This time, I got more lift!

Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe) Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe) Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe) Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe)
Buttercream in motion! Start with egg white and sugar, whisk over a double boiler for 3 minutes (until 160 degrees to kill any yucky stuff), beat for another 5 minutes on the KitchenAid and then drop in three sticks of butter. It curdles a bit, but it all comes together with lots of beating!

Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe) Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe) Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe) Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe)
Assembling the cake...jam, frosting, cake and repeat.

Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe) Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe)
Sweetened coconut is placed on top of the buttercream. However, next time, I'm going to skip the coconut as I'm not the biggest fan of coconut.

Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe) Perfect Party Cake (Dorie Greenspan Recipe)
I liked the taste (I pushed the coconut off my slice! :) but I felt the raspberry jam was a bit overpowering. I bought this raspberry seedless jam imported from England from Surfas for $7.50. It is a nice jam for shortbread cookies, but I think I should have listened to Cook's Illustrated who rated Smuckers the best raspberry jam.

Here is a photo of my niece and nephews and their grandpa at the Hof's Hut for birthday breakfast! Happy 76th Birthday Dad!

Dad's 76th Birthday

P.S. Whew! Although I'm late in some parts of the world, I still made it under the wire by Los Angeles Daylight-Savings time! Can't wait for the next challenge!
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Blood Money

Friday, March 28, 2008

Starbucks Sandwich
Starbuck's Breakfast Sandwich: Reduced Fat Turkey-Bacon, Eggs and Whole Wheat Muffin (sans the cheese)

Thank you gift for Blood Donation
How cool is my blood donor center? I got a $5 Starbucks gift card for leaving them a pint of my A+ blood!

Okay, I’ve tried to bake, but I can’t tell you about it until Sunday (you’ll see on Sunday). In the meantime, I donated blood on Tuesday night and they gave me a cool $5 gift card to Starbucks as a thank you gift. Do you donate blood? It is easy-peasy and soooo needed! Please donate today!

On Thursday I learned that Herb Peterson, inventor of the McDonald’s Egg McMuffin passed away at the age of 89. I’ve always enjoyed the Egg McMuffin…until I walked into Starbucks one day and bought their new Breakfast Sandwich (Turkey-Bacon & Egg on whole wheat muffin).

This morning, after recovering from the Bruin’s win last night over Western Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen round (way too close of a game!), I had a complete hankering for the Starbucks Breakfast Sandwich. It is serious yum…and a fleeting culinary delight for me. Starbucks is discontinuing the Breakfast Sandwiches on September 30, 2008 – total bummer.

Happy Weekend! Go Bruins on Saturday against Xavier!
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Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread
Ginger + Chocolate = Yummy Gingerbread

I'm still on my ginger kick! Here is the Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours (page 212).

The cake was quite easy to make and included fresh and ground ginger, molasses and bittersweet chocolate.

Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread
Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread
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Round One Cocoa Chiffon Cake

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cocoa Chiffon Cake
Cocoa Chiffon Cake with fresh whipped-in-the-lunchroom cream

Wednesday night.
Day before March Madness starts with Round One!
It was time to bring out the Good Luck Bruin chocolate.

I borrowed the book Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate by Robert Steinberg & John Scharffenberger (of Scharffen Berger fame) from the library. This recipe for Cocoa Chiffon Cake was contributed by Flo Braker (page 137).

Cocoa Chiffon Cake Cocoa Chiffon Cake
Folding the egg whites into the chocolate batter

Cocoa Chiffon Cake
Fresh from the oven

I used Dutch-processed cocoa to make this cake as the instruction just say "2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder." Later, I read more of the book (with descriptions of cocoa production and processing) and came across a section that said natural cocoa is better than Dutch-processed. Um, I realized later it was probably a major cooking faux pas to use Valrhona chocolate instead of Scharffen Berger chocolate in a book written by Scharffenberger! Oops.

Cocoa Chiffon Cake Cocoa Chiffon Cake
After removal from the oven, chiffon cake needs to cool hanging upside down. Usually, you can hang the cake over a glass bottle. But my bottle of soda that I picked up at BevMo didn't fit (although the beverage was quite tasty so it wasn't a complete waste). I found a large old funnel in the garage and wrapped it in foil. It totally looked like a massive Hershey's kiss!

At work, I brought some cream, sugar, vanilla and my old-school electric handheld mixer to make some fresh whipped cream. Although I whipped it a little beyond soft peaks... One co-worker said the cake with whipped cream was like eating a chocolate cloud. :)

I found the recipe online - this one says to use natural cocoa!

P.S. Bruins won the first round 70-29. Next up, Texas A&M on Saturday night. Go Bruins!
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ROOT-ie Tootie Carrot Ginger Cupcake

Monday, March 17, 2008

Carrot-Ginger Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Carrot-Ginger Cupcake. A root vegetable combo of goodness.

Carrot-Ginger Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Long live the root vegetable! You so rock. Ginger is a great root. And so is the carrot - such a great color. Other fun root veggies include: The Wasabi (have you had freshly grated wasabi? So delicious, hot and spicy!), The Beet (I adore the rainbow and yellow beet), and The Potato (especially the Yam).

So, anyway, I found a recipe that has two of my favorite roots. The Carrot-Ginger Cupcake!

I made the Carrot-Ginger Cupcake from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook (page 166). The cupcakes include organic carrots and one tablespoon of freshly grated ginger.

Carrot-Ginger Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the frosting, I made adjustments to Dorie Greenspan's Cream Cheese Frosting. Martha's recipe for the frosting would have made sooooo much - it had 1 1/2 sticks of butter and three blocks of cream cheese...for only 24 cupcakes. I didn't want to hand out heart attacks before a hearty St. Patrick's Day dinner, so I made a smaller batch of frosting. The frosting ended up being: 1 stick of butter, 1 block 8 oz of cream cheese, 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted, zest of one orange, and 1 teaspoon ground ginger (I just bought it at Penzy's).

The ginger with the cream cheese is really lovely! I topped them with a few pieces of orange zest. This is definitely my favorite carrot cake cupcake recipe!
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Batter Up for the Taco Boat!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Taco Boat
The Taco Boat: A delicious layer of Fritos, chili, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese… seriously excellent Little League food.

CJ's 2008 Baseball Team
"I'm only juicing on OJ and milk..."

CJ's 2008 Baseball Team CJ's 2008 Baseball Team
CJ, my 6-year old nephew and his baseball team, the A’s, had a game this weekend (at 8 am on a Saturday…oh my goodness, why are these games so early???). I turned back the clock and I reverted back to my youth. When my brother (CJ’s dad) played Little League, I spent most of my time at the concession stand. This weekend, it was no different.

My niece got a Cup O’Noodle (always a salt-filled crowd favorite) and I picked up the classic Taco Boat. By the way, if you go to Japan, be sure to visit the Ramen Museum in Yokohama. It’s the most delicious museum around!

Of course, later we went back and got CJ some BBQ sunflower seeds, and a pretzel and ring pop for my younger nephew, Joshua. Go A's!

Taco Boat
Man, I love me them Fritos!
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Pi Day Orange-Soaked Tea Cake

Friday, March 14, 2008

Orange-Soaked Tea Cake

Happy Pi Day!
I know I should have made a pie to honor the pi, but remember, I'm still terrified of the pie crust. (Yes, I will try to face this fear in 2008...it's on my resolution list)

Orange-Soaked Tea Cake
Orange-Soaked Tea Cake

I'm still on my citrus kick. However, I was too tired to pick up the tangerines called for in Gale Gand's "Tangerine-Soaked Tea Cake" from her book, Butter Flour Sugar Eggs (page 124) so it became an Orange-Soaked Tea Cake. Here is the recipe on the Food Network site.

The loaf has two sticks of butter and 1 cup of buttermilk. I had so much batter I was afraid it was going to crown over the loaf pan, so I made a little 4 x 2 round as well. Therefore, my loaf is a little flat - if you use the whole batter, I'm sure you'll get a nice looking full loaf. Also, I didn't line my pan with breadcrumbs.

Orange-Soaked Tea Cake

After baking, a solution of OJ, lemon juice and sugar is put on the warm loaf. Gale suggests using a turkey baster, but I just used my pastry brush. After it cools, you need to refrigerate the loaf.

People at work loved it. I thought it was a little dense and the orange was subtle, but I've come to realize that my "orange" palate is probably a little off. I think my love of tart lemon has messed me up! :)

I'm going to the Farmer's Market tomorrow to pick up some more oranges...I hope blood oranges are around. The citrus show (hopefully) continues!
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