Marscapone-Filled Cake. With Berries.

12 Jun

So I finally got back to baking the other day and made some cake.

Marscapone Cake with Fresh Berries

It was for Mother’s Day…(yes, that means it has taken me thislong to post about it)

And it was pretty much the most amazing cake. Perfect for summer, nice and light. And, NO FROSTING. So getting the cake dressed was a breeze.

You make two vanilla cakes (the recipe says make one and cut it in half, but ain’t nobody got time for that.) And then you whip up a quick but veryveryvery delicious marscapone filling, top with some fresh fruit, and call it a day.

In the recipe (which is out of my epicurious cookbook), it calls for 8 oz marscapone, but I find that most grocery stores only carry it in an 8.6 oz size. And since I have limited use for 0.6 oz of marscapone, and since ain’t nobody got time to measure, I just used it all. I also accidentally added extra sugar to the filling (as in 1 cup instead of 1/4), but it just made the filling extra yum. Things like this happen when you’re trying to wrangle a baby (my niece) who is obsessed with the Kitchenaid mixer and determined to put her fingers into the spinning beaters…

Marscapone Cake on Stand

This is one of my favorite things that I have made lately. I could seriously eat this all summer long. Plus, it got rave reviews all around the Sunday dinner table – which is no easy feat.

Marscapone-Filled Cake with Fresh Berries

  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking power
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon plus more to taste vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup well-shaken buttermilk (or use this easy substitution)

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces marscapone cheese
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For the berries:

  • Mix of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries, cut if large
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

The cake is the hardest part of the recipe. Preheat the oven to 350F. Beat together the butter and sugar until creamy, then mix in the vanilla and add the eggs one at a time. Add the buttermilk and mix until smooth. Combine all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, and add to the wet ingredients in batches, until just combine. DO NOT OVERMIX. This will bring out the gluten in the flour and make your cake tough.

When the batter is ready, butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Place a parchment paper circle in the bottom of each pan, and then butter/flour this for good measure. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, and tap on the counter once or twice to bring any air bubbles to the surface. (Alternatively, make one cake and slice it in half. #lamesauce on that.)

Bake the cakes for about 25-30 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched and a toothpick passes the center test. DO NOT put your cakes on separate shelves. Either bake them one at a time, or side by side. Using two shelves in the oven prevents the air from circulating evenly. Cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes, and run a knife along the cake edge to loosen. Flip the partially cooled cakes onto a plate, remove the parchment, and then flip back right side up to finish cooling on a rack.

In the meantime, mix the sliced berries with one to two spoonfuls granulated sugar. Refridgerate the berries until you need them.

Last, whip together the marscapone, cream, and sugar until stiff peaks form. This takes about 5 minutes. For best results, I recommend refridgerating your bowl and wisk beforehand.

When the cake has cooled, you are ready to assemble. Place one cake as the bottom later, then a generous layer of marscapone, then the second cake. I topped mine with the remaining marscapone, although you could skip this if desired.

If you have patience (which we all know I don’t have), you can artfully arrange the berries on top of the cake. Meh. I like to spoon mine over the slices as it is being served.

Enjoy!

Friday Find: How I will NOT be photographing my wedding

31 May

In honor of being at a Comic Con for work, I thought I would post some of my favorite wedding photos.

Oh, don’t worry, I’m not getting married just yet. (Or anytime in the near future…)

But when I do, I most certainly will not be doing THIS for my wedding.

dino-wedding-party-photo-large

Or this. And I LOVE disney.

Bridal-Party-490x292

And definitely not this.

cutpromotionalBut maybe this?

star-wars-michael-james-photography-star-wars-wedding-star-wars-wedding-photos-wedding-ideas-unique-engagement-photos-movie-wedding-ideas-wedding-party-blog

Just kidding.

Never Eat Alone? Meh.

30 May

So this week I’m traveling for work…AGAIN.

Which means I have a lot of time…and meals…alone.

Now, normally, I don’t mind eating alone. (Or drinking alone for that matter.) And there are all sorts of places and times and occasions that I LOVE eating alone at. But tonight, I was at a super-hip, fun bar in Philadelphia (The Corner) and I actually found myself nervous about eating alone.

Was it because I was at a non-iPad approved restaurant, so I didn’t have my normal cover of reading/checking email/playing triple town, like I can normally do at Starbucks/PF Changs/TGIFridays/other mediocre restaurants of the world?

Or was it because I wasn’t at a hotel-airport-happy hour-type bar, where its “acceptable” to eat alone?

I can’t decide what was making me feel uneasy.

It’s not because I cared what other diners thought about me eating alone (because I’m never going to see those people again in my life, and who cares anyways), and it’s not because I didn’t like the restaurant I was at (because as we all know I pre-researched and had literally picked out my dinner options before I left the hotel).

It’s likely because I wasn’t doing…ANYTHING.

And I’m conditioned to always be doing SOMETHING.

No matter what time of day, I’m doing things. Whether I’m at work, at home, out & about, I’m always doing something. So it makes me uneasy to just sit at a bar and do nothing (okay, technically I was eating and drinking…). But since I was on my own, it automatically made me feel like I was doing nothing.

So, what do I do? Practice eating alone more? Practice doing nothing more? Learn how to sit still?

How do I learn how to be okay with doing nothing?

Because I can’t order room service at this hotel (it’s from Chili’s, and there is only so much chips and salsa I can eat…)

Friday Find: Gordon Ramsay Meets Amy’s Baking Company

24 May

I have a serious crush on Gordon Ramsay.

And Kitchen Nightmares? It’s one of my favorite drinking games TV shows.

So when you need a good laugh this weekend, watch the episode on Amy’s Baking Company.

Not to spoil the surprise but…it’s EPIC. In soooooooo many ways.

First, there’s the fact that Amy’s restaurant has been financed by her sugar-daddy, ex-Vegas playboy husband.

Second, Gordon actually compliments her food! Amy apparently is good at something – baking.

Third, the meltdown is just…too good for words.

They yell at customers. Claim God is on their side. Threaten to call the police on a few people. And fire the bus girl on the spot.

Oh, and Amy’s babies? They’re three little boys…trapped inside cat bodies. MEOW!

What I’m Loving Right Now: Neon DIY Stationary

22 May

I might be having a slight love affair with neons lately.

Yes, I know they are 1980s-esque and beloved by the Taylor Swift-liking under 21 crowd. Which, besides the fact that I like TSwift, I have nothing in common with…as I haven’t been under 21 in a loooooong while.

But I can’t help it. Neons just make me happy.

So I made some stationary.

DIY Neon Stationary Card

In neon blue, pink, and green.

Talk about saying HELLLOOOOOO I received a freaking letter when you open one of these suckers.

These are 5″x7″ size, which gives the cards a substantial impact. I also really enjoy the contrast of the old-school engraving fonts against the neon paper.

I resisted making envelope liners for these…but only because I didn’t have matching neon paper for that.

But seriously, neons.

Love.

Neon Stationary DIY

Friday Find: Textastrophe

10 May

It’s been a long week. And I’m pretty sure with all the spring fever I’ve been having, this is just the thing I need to read in between the SEVEN meetings I have on a Friday.

Meet Textastrophe.

You know that moment you receive a random text and you want to respond? With something sort of snarky?

Or you see a phone number on Craigslist and think, “WTF. Why are you posting your number on Craigslist? Do you really need to sell the ab roller that bad?”

Good thing there is Textastrophe.

At this point, I don’t even care if it’s fake. (Which I suspect it is.)

I just know its beyond amusing.

Get ready to have your productivity take a nose-dive.

Flashback Craft: DIY Headbands

7 May

When I first really started crafting things (and I mean really started crafting), and by crafting I do mean crafting, not sewing (since I have been able to sew just about anything since I was 10)…

One of the first things I made was a three-bow headband. Grosgrain ribbon, satin ribbon, and elastic. Together?

A pretty sweet headband.

Three Bow Headband

Satin ribbon is really hard to work with, so here’s to hoping you have nimble fingers. I use about 3 inches of elastic on the back part, so the headband has enough stretch to go over your head & stay in place. If you plan on wearing this with a ponytail, I’d suggest black ribbon and black elastic.

Here’s a close up. I stacked the bows a little bit, so they have more of a clustered effect rather than three in a row.

DIY Three Bow Headband

You can also make them with flowers.

Flower headband

It helps to have a mom with a pretty intense sewing closet. The flower on this one is made out of some kind of linen silk, which I snagged in a half-dozen colors. You need the fabric to have enough stiffness that the flower holds up.

Here is what it looks like in action, and you can find an easy-to-follow tutorial here.

Photo on 2009-11-09 at 13

(Mental note to self: do not EVER have a bob again. EVER.)

Or you can do other bows, like this.

Bow Headband

These are super easy to make – and no two are alike, so it really just fuels my obsession with one-of-a-kind stuff.

DIY Mason Jar Flowers, aka what to do with the runaways.

3 May

I have these beautiful day lilies that grow in my garden. They’re a “set it and forget it” type plant. Lots of sunlight, little maintenance, self-propagating—they just grow. And bloom with these amazing orange flowers in the middle of summer.

Which brings me to the runaways.

Every spring, I have a dozen or so lilies that have decided to be born free fluffy, born free and escape the confines of their planters. (It’s that whole “self-propagating” part, you see).

So every spring I dig up the runaways and plant them someplace new, where they can grow and bloom and expand to their liking. But this year I decided to do something different.

I put the runaways up for adoption. Meaning, I made these cute mason jar flower holders, put two lily fans inside, and sent them home with some of my girl friends. To self-propagate in other peoples’ yards.

DIY Mason Flower Jars

All you need is mason jars, some grosgrain ribbon, and cardstock. I used the jar lid to hold the flower tags on – which say “grow me!”  The tag pattern is available here – I just modified the text. Did I mention sharing flowers is way more eco-friendly than buying hot house bulbs? 

Add some special effects in a photo app, and you’re really fancy.

Mason FlowersDoesn’t this just make you want to garden?

But only flowers folks, this girl doesn’t grow food.

Friday Find: Thug Kitchen

26 Apr

It’s been a long week.

And I mean a looooooooong week.

But don’t worry, I have the perfect Friday pick-me-up, courtesy of one LD.

Ever heard of Thug Kitchen?

Well, now you have.

Never trust a glove with a face.

Or so they say.

This stuff is deep bro, real deep.

And yes, I will get down on some lavender lemonade. LIKE A BOSS.

And then I made the Most Epic Mac & Cheese. With Bacon.

24 Apr

So I was out in le Texas visiting CPBF, who happens to be pretty awesome.

We went and stalked the longhorns.

Texas Longhorns

And some cows.

Texas Cow

Silver Cow.

Texas Cattle

Black cow.

Then we went to Hullabaloos. And Freebirds.

Like I said, pretty awesome.

So I made CPBF some epic macaroni and cheese. With bacon.

Because everything is better with bacon.

Mac and Cheese

I wasn’t as much of a food pornographer as I normally am (probably too many mojitos and stalking hanging out with CPBF out at the grill…) but I still think it looks good.

And did I mention I wasn’t cooking on home turf? Always. Intimidating.

Here’s the deal. You melt the butter, whisk in the flour. (No whisk? Use a fork.) This is the ‘roux’ part which you need to thicken stuff up. Add in the milk, and cook over medium-low heat…until it thickens up. Make sure you keep stirring. Patience people!

Then, add in the cheddar & gruyere cheese, and whisk until smooth.

While the whole milk-thickening business is going on, boil some water for the pasta.

DO NOT add olive oil to the water. Hugest myth in pasta making. Oil will coat the pasta, and prevent your sauce from sticking to it. Do not add olive oil. Just some salt.

When you drain the pasta, reserve some of the cooking water – in case you need it to loosen up the sauce. (I doubt you will, but justin, justin case…)

So, after you drain the pasta, mix it with the cheese sauce, and pour into a baking dish. Top with the bacon, some more cheese, and 15 minutes later, epic mac and cheese.

I always put a cookie sheet under the pan while baking, in case stuff bubbles over.

Not going to lie, this was pretty awesome sauce. (and I don’t say that about everything I make, just some things.)

Macaroni & Cheese with Bacon Recipe:

  • 8 – 12 oz. dry pasta, preferably elbows or similar shape
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups sharp white cheddar, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups gruyere, grated
  • 6 – 8 slices applewood smoked bacon

Preheat the oven to 375F. Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces, and cook until crisp. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add in the whole milk, whisking continually. Continue whisking until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Add in all of the gruyere and 2 cups of the cheddar. Stir until melted.

When you start the butter, put on a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Cook until al dente and drain, reserving some of the cooking water. When the cheese sauce is ready, mix together the cheese sauce and the pasta, and pour into a casserole dish. Top with the bacon, and remaining 1/2 cup grated cheddar. Bake at 375F for 15 to 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.