Archive for the ‘Food’ Category
With the recent plunge in temperature, I find myself really craving warm breakfasts, especially something hearty like steel cut oatmeal. After hunting around for the perfect steel cut oatmeal recipe, I’ve come up with the one below. There are a number of modifications one can make:
- If you like a sweeter version, you could use 4 cups of cider instead of 2 cups cider & 2 cups water
- The oats can be sweetened to taste with a variety of sweeteners (I prefer maple syrup or brown sugar, but you could use jam or a sugar substitute)
- Pears could be swapped for the apples
- A mix of spices (nutmeg, allspice, etc.) could be used in combination or in place of the cinnamon
- The dried fruit & nuts can be swapped out for your favorites.
- The recipe can also be made vegan by replacing the butter in the topping with a dairy free substitute or omitting the topping altogether.
One of my favorite things about this oatmeal is that you can make it on the weekend & it keeps in the refrigerator for the entire week! To reheat it, I place a square of it in a small bowl, cover the bowl with saran wrap & microwave for 3 minutes. Quick & delicious!
Apple Cider Steel Cut Oatmeal
2 cups apple cider
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup steel cut oatmeal
1 large apple, chopped
1/2 cup chopped whole almonds, toasted
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1-2 Tablespoon cinnamon (to taste)
maple syrup &/or brown sugar to taste
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 Tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup chopped whole almonds (raw)
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring the cider, water & salt to a boil in a large pot.
- While mix is coming up to a boil, dice apples & chop almonds.
- When mix comes to a boil, add oats & stir constantly until the mixture begins to thicken, then lower the heat & simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While mix is simmering, make topping by mixing all topping ingredients by hand until crumbly.
- After 20 minutes, turn off heat on oats (they should still be runny) & stir in the toasted almonds, apples, dried fruit, spices & sweetener (brown sugar or maple syrup).
- Put oatmeal in a greased baking dish (or if you made the oats in an ovenproof pot, like a le crueset, you can leave them in the pot), and place topping evenly over the top.
- Bake oatmeal for 20-25 minutes until top is golden brown.
I feel somewhat like a bear coming out of hibernation – it’s been a small eternity since I’ve posted anything! Between keeping the peace amongst the felines, madness at the office, stepping towards opening up a retail outlet and all the other things that make up this life of mine spattered in between, I haven’t had much time to sit down and collect my thoughts.
So let’s see … on the feline front, I am failing miserably. Bella is still terrified to leave her 2nd floor “apartment” for fear of running into Jasper, who still attacks her whenever he’s given the chance. We’ve brought her down to our bedroom a few nights here and there, and although she acclimates quickly, if we leave the bedroom door open, she freaks and rushes to hide under the bed. I can understand the fear – her 7 lbs vs. his 23 lbs … plus his complete ferociousness with bared teeth and even puffier self make one scary package.
On the other hand, Bella seems to be completely at ease with Jameson. Oh, don’t get me wrong, he’s shown his darker side to her as well, but she feels comfortable defending herself, which we have strongly encouraged. I’m guessing since Jameson’s only about 2 lbs heavier than her, she feels like she can hold her own. Most of the time though, she and Jameson can be happily co-existing in the same room without any issue whatsoever.
I’ve questioned whether or not adding our new lil’ girl into our family was a good idea many times since last November, and every time I am in doubt and she is in the room, she crawls right up on my chest and kisses me on the face. I think she’s ok with her two room palace at the moment, even though I’d like her to have our entire house to romp in.
On the work front, I’ve been insanely busy, which in turn has made me turn into somewhat of a hermit. While I am definitely *not* a fan of the work I currently do by day, I will admit that I have learned a whole hell of a lot over the past few months. I like to believe that I needed this experience here at this agency to prepare me for events in the future. I stepped into this new account with hardly any knowledge of how this client’s processes worked and quickly realized that I was being looked to as a “go-to” person on the team from other capabilities on what needed to get done when. I’m hoping that the time management and stress management skills I’ve had to develop in order to survive in this world will come in handy when I open up my own shop!
On a positive note, a co-worker & friend connected me with one of her friends which led to me getting the opportunity to submit my cakes into a popular magazine in the area, and I think that one of them is going to be published!!! Of course, as exciting as that is, it propelled me to start moving on getting a real retail space of my own so I can finally put 100% into my dream of making cakes & chocolate full-time instead of trying to squeeze in as much pastry work as possible during my “off hours” when I’m not here at the office and not passed out on the couch after the sadly commonplace 14+ hour work day.
I don’t want to jinx myself, but I think I may have finally found a new home for cake & chocolate production. More details to come once things become more concrete (literally & figuratively)!
I’ll close, of course, with cake – a little late is better than never, right? This was my mom’s birthday cake this year – Chocolate devil’s food cake, filled with peanut butter mousse, frosted in buttercream & decorated in modelling chocolate and painted chocolate. And just in case you were wondering, yes, my mom’s birthday is actually on Christmas Day!
Here’s the latest SweetElement creation … a fall wedding cake made as a wedding gift for a friend. Her request … a simple, elegant, fall-themed (with leaves) cake with her Charlie Brown topper incorporated. I think the end result turned out quite nice. All tiers were comprised of vanilla cake filled with strawberry preserves and frosted in buttercream and fondant. All the leaves were made out of gumpaste, and the tiers were adorned with ribbon on the bases. The biggest compliment (aside from a gushing appreciate bride), was seeing one of the slender female guests at our table eat two pieces of cake … AND yell at the servers who were trying to clear her cake plate when she still had a bite left. Now that’s a true compliment!
Without further adieu … here’s the latest SweetElement cake made for one of the cutest couples I know!
Each cake tier was comprised of one layer of devil’s food cake and one layer of yellow cake. The entire cake was filled and frosted with Italian meringue buttercream, and then decorated in buttercream leaves and painted gumpaste flowers.
Here’s the latest bridal shower cake that was made for a co-worker. She wanted to replicate the design on plates they were using at the shower, thus the “bridal shower girls” on the gifts chocolate plate design. The actual cake was comprised of one layer of yellow cake and one layer of devil’s food cake, filled and frosted in buttercream.
As with most of my days “off”, I spent this past Friday making another SweetElement cake! While I throughly enjoy making cakes for commission, the joy of making cakes for friends and family that leaves me total creative control from start to finish is something that just can’t be matched.
The inspiration for this cake came to me simply by thinking of things that my friend Jon loves … beer & monkeys! The cake itself was a devil’s food cake filled with cookies & cream buttercream, frosted in chocolate buttercream and decorated in fondant and royal icing. The “sand” was a combination of crushed cookies. Total height was ~12″.
Initially, I thought it would be a cute idea to theme the cake around the 4th of July since we were going over for a 4th of July BBQ (even though the party was on the 5th), so I made red white & blue monkeys as accessories. My favorite of the three was the red stripe drinking blue monkey with his hand on his little beer belly — too cute!
The red monkey sporting a “420″ um, “plant inspired” shirt is happily munching some chips and smokin’ a little something ;p
Here’s a view of the bottlecap and the three monkeys … including the white Jamaican monkey bearing the Jamaican flag. (There’s also a secret brown monkey hiding incognito in the back.)
And the finished Red Stripe cake ~ monkeys and all!
What do you do when the bride forgets to tell you she moved her wedding out a week?
1. Freak out that you missed a communication about the date change
2. Realize that you sent a confirmation email a few weeks before and that you are NOT crazy
3. Figure out what to do with wedding cake I (ended up delivering it to the bride the next day)
4. Decide whether or not you will be a kind cake designer and make a 2nd wedding cake the following week
5. Opt to make a 2nd wedding cake since you had that weekend open and felt like it was karmically the right thing to do.
6. Remake a 2nd cake in a simpler, cleaner style more representative of your work
7. Deliver wedding cake II (after some last minute snafus about having the delivery site opened) and make a mental note to confirm and reconfirm dates and times with customers at least twice before making and delivering orders!
This was the initial Tiffany Blue wedding cake that the bride requested. Why blue? The original wedding cake topper had a blue ribbon in the base, and this blue was meant to match that design element. However, since the groom-to-be threw out the original cake topper before the wedding, and the replacement didn’t have the ribbon, I thought it was kind of odd for the cake to be blue, but that was what was promised … so blue it was. Little did I know how difficult it would be to get to that blue from white fondant!!! All I have to say is that the case can definitely be made for SweetElement to finally get it’s first airbrush.
Here’s how the cake flavors broke out: the bottom layer was chocolate devil’s food cake filled with raspberry jam, the middle tier was yellow butter cake filled with lemon curd and the top cake was almond cake filled with vanilla buttercream. All the layers were frosted in vanilla buttercream and decorated in rolled fondant and royal icing.
Here is the second, smaller wedding cake I delivered this past Saturday. The bride informed me that she actually had fewer guests than we initially thought, so I opted to change the cake tier sizes. Proportionally, I think these cake sizes (10″, 8″ & 6″ vs. 12″, 10″ & 8″ in wedding cake I) worked out much nicer with the topper.
I opted to make this cake white with pink accents since the topper had pink flowers in it. Although you can’t really tell in the photo, the cake was also dusted in pearl luster dust and was very glimmery. The pink pearls were also painted in a pink luster and were a nice tie in to the bride-dog’s veil in the topper. All layers were chocolate devil’s food cake filled with raspberry jam, frosted in vanilla buttercream and decorated in rolled fondant and royal icing.
It’s been harder and harder to find time to keep this blog updated … this SweetElement baby shower cake was made on May 22nd for my boss’s surprise baby shower here at work – and somehow it got to be June 9th before it got posted! The expecting couple opted not to know what the sex of the baby was, thus the yellow & green ducky theme.
The bottom cake layer was a chocolate devil’s food cake filled with pastry cream and frosted in buttercream. The top cake was my boss’s favorite – red velvet cake filled with cream cheese frosting and frosted in buttercream. All decorations were fondant.
I’m happy to report that baby Trevor was born on June 2nd & mom and baby are comfortably back at home!
Here’s the latest SweetElement cakes made for a co-worker who will be bringing them to her friends’ surprise party this weekend.
Vanilla cake with a vanilla moussaline buttercream decorated with gold chocolate horseshoe
Chocolate cake with a chocolate moussaline buttercream decorated in chocolate
Here’s the latest wedding cake from SweetElement that was made for a coworker’s sister’s wedding last night. The wedding & reception were held at Battery Gardens in lower Manhattan, which I’m sure must have been gorgeous with the sunset as a backdrop right on the water.
This cake has taught me that I definitely need to practice my piping work!
The cake was all red velvet, filled with cream cheese frosting and iced in vanilla buttercream and fondant. Decorations were brown royal icing piping, brown ribbon and fresh rasberries as a topper.