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Megans Cookin: March 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Perfect Party Cake!

When I first got my Dorie Greenspan cookbook Baking from My Home to Yours, I knew I wanted to make this cake. In fact, there are two cakes I wanted to make. With my daughters birthday right after Christmas, I asked her if she wanted one of these cakes. Her first response was yes, but after a week of thought, she went with the checkered cake. Damn it. But that just made me that much happier when Morvan announced this months challenge.
The Perfect Party Cake. Although we were allowed to express our artistic side, I stuck to the recipe. Maybe if I had made it before, I would add chocolate or almond or something to switch it up, but I wanted the perfect party cake as written. Reading our private blog, I learned some others had a problem with the rising of the cake. I'm afraid I might have been in that category. Do they seem like skinny layers to you?The frosting is what I want to brag about. I've never made a Swiss Meringue frosting before the Daring Baker Yule Log , but I love it. I didn't do it right on the yule log, but I did it right this time. I could forget the cake and just have a bowl of this frosting. O.K. maybe not, but it was that good. I didn't think the frosting shined through how I would of liked on this cake. I'm not complaining. There was just alot going on. You had a lemon scented white cake, raspberry preserves between each layer, and the lemon scented meringue. The lemon was just a whisper but a great addition. It wasn't a lemon cake, it wasn't a coconut cake, it was The Perfect Party Cake! Anyone in Redding need a cake? I would love to make it again! I didn't get any pictures of the layers. There were four of them. I took it to Easter dinner and felt a little foolish snapping away pictures like I would at home. Another excuse to make this cake? Maybe! If you would like to see about 800 different party cakes, and their layers, check out all The Daring Bakers! For the recipe, go here.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Chocolate Easter Eggs...ahhh, Cakes

I bought a brand new shiny Easter pan before Easter, with every intention to use it. But It seemed like every thing happened at once. You were the victim of my silliness just when life gets hectic. The week before Easter. I don't know about you but this little ol' blog was burn en!

First post:
I was gone on a long weekend and was dead tired to start the week.

Second post:
I had a winner to announce from my First Giveaway

Third post:
I got two packages in the mail. The first one was my BBM package from Jesika,

Forth post:
Then there was the First Day of Spring Tea Party. That was a lovely time stuck there in the middle of the week. But I pulled it off!

Fifth post:
The second package was that great chocolate from TCHO.

Sixth post:
I had entered an event called Taste and Create where I made a 50 Clove Garlic Chicken. My dead line for that was up and I had to get that published.

And it was almost Easter and I had a Daring Baker Mission to get to!

I did survive Easter and had a very nice time. I hope yours was lovely. But I still had that nagging desire to use my brand new Easter pan. Even though Easter was over. I wasn't about to wait till next year. No sirree. I was gonna make those little cakes and give them away. So into the kitchen I go. I made chocolate cakes from a mix.Yep, a mix. I know, I know. I didn't care. I just wanted to use my shiny new pan!

I made a chocolate batter and put Chai spice in half the batter. I brushed the warm cakes with raspberry jam and let cool. Then I frosted them with the Poured Fondant from Wilton. The little flower dots were a rolled fondant I bought at michaels. Just roll it out like play dough and cut out the shapes with little cutters. I just pressed them on while the fondant was still tacky.

They turned out so cute and much more 3-D then I thought. I was going to try to stick two together and make one whole egg but It wasn't needed. They baked up perfect!
These little cakes are my entry to Julia's event Easter Cake Bake. All you need to do is bake a cake, or several smaller cakes, with an Easter theme then post about it on your blog. I think these fit that bill! You'll find the round up over at Julia's A Slice of Cherry Pie.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Taste and Create-French Style

I signed up for an event called Taste and Create created by Nicole of For The Love of Food. It's where she pairs up blogger and they create a recipe from the other persons blog.
I was paired up with the blog La Recette du Jour.
What fun it was to explore a new blog. But I have to admit, I had a bit of culture shock.
With recipes like Moules farcies au four and Besuc al Horno,
whats a california girl to pick? There were tempting treats like
Gratin de fruits au sabayon and Apricot and Almond Clafoutis
but I really wanted a dinner.

So my decision?
Chicken with 50 cloves of garlic and
Petits Pains au Lait
The chicken was so moist and fragrent. It was stuffed with a bouget of rosemary, thyme and parsly and it was baked on a bed of garlic. 50 garlic cloves to be exact. Thumbs up from all members of the family. This will be made again!
I paired it with some Petits Pain au Lait, slightly sweet dinner rolls. Now I do know that flours are different and I'm not sure but the recipe called for 600g of ordinary soft cake flour. Cake flour? O.k. then, I'll use cake flour. That can't be right, can it?
And were my calculations right? Does 5 cups =600g?
Then come to find out that 60g of butter is not 4 TBSP. It is 2 TBSP.
O-well. can you have to much butter?
Although my rolls were very good, they weren't as light as I expected.
I made my dough in the bread machine so it was easy as could be. I tried to get fancy and make clover rolls. Next time? Ordinary rolls.And I will try it with bread flour and the right amount of butter.
But again, thumbs up from the family! They were also quite tasty the next day with a cup of tea.

So, it was a delight to try the different recipes from La Recette du jour. Maybe next time I'll tackle the Lemon bars or the Marquise au chocolat.


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Friday, March 21, 2008

TCHO Chocolate

We couldn't deny the attraction.

We both had the desire, the passion, the hunger.

We tried to control it, but lust over came us.

We couldn't wait to shed the outer wrapping.

The heat of our tongue melting the silky surface.

Delectable, delightful, distinct.

TCHO Chocolate.
It's not your ordinary chocolate.
It's a rich, deep dark chocolate without being sweet nor bitter. It was smooth with no gritty feel in the mouth. I only wish I had more.Thank you TCHO for making this chocolate. It's excellent!
If you would like to taste test this chocolate, They are selling bars at TCHO.

Thank you Blake from Blakemakes for sending me this chocolate bar. I was one of the lucky 50 to comment on his contest and receive this piece of heaven. If you don't know about Blake's Sooper Hero's
Your missing out. Go check it out!
Picture courtesy of BlakeMakes


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Tea Party

When I saw Risa from The ParTea Planner was hosting a tea party on the first day of Spring, You could count me in!. What a lovely idea. Too bad it fell on a Thursday. It was kind of hard being in the middle of the week and all, but I pulled it off.
What was on the menu?
Thank you for asking. We had;

Egg Salad Tea Sandwich's with Olive Sticks

Scones with Mock Devonshire Cream

Chocolate dipped Strawberries
...and assorted sweet treats.

This is were I took the shortcut. I went to the bakery and bought them. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do! But after I paid 95 cents for each of those cute little petits Four, I came home and started my own. They didn't get done for the tea party, but I'll have 50 of those gems for Easter and they wont be any where near 50 bucks. That's just ridiculous!!!
I'll post that recipe another time.

I asked my daughter to join me for tea.
4:00 sharp. Right after school.
Of course I was delighted when she showed interest. She wanted Chocolate chip scones and (mock) Devonshire cream. That was her first request .
I've taken Kellie to many tea parlors over the last several years. She knows a good thing when offered. But she did request fruit punch. So I had a spot of tea and a nice relaxing afternoon soaking in the the last of daylight before dusk settled in.
The Partea Favor for Kellie!

Chocolate chip scones
12 servings
2-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1 Tbsp. CALUMET Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter or margarine
1 egg
3/4 cup whipping cream
6 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, chopped
PREHEAT oven to 400°F.
Mix flour, 1/3 cup of the sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat egg and cream with wire whisk until well blended. Add to flour mixture; stir until mixture forms soft dough. Stir in chopped chocolate.

PLACE dough on floured surface; knead until dough is no longer sticky. Place on greased baking sheet; pat out dough with hands to 10-inch circle. Score top with sharp knife into 12 wedges. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar.

BAKE 23 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into 12 wedges to serve.
Recipe by: Kraft Kitchen

Mock Devonshire Cream
Recipe by WWRecipes
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup (125 ml) mascarpone*
1-2 Tbs (15-30 ml) sugar

* Mascarpone is an unfermented cheese from Italy, similar to cream cheese, that is available in the deli section of most supermarkets.

Whisk the ingredients together to form a thick, smooth cream. Refrigerate until ready to use. Makes about 1 1/2 cups (375 ml).


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Blogging By Mail!

I went to the mail box Monday and got a surprise. I didn't have just one package sitting in the box, but two! I love this blogging stuff.

The first package I found really stood out with drawings on all side. How cute is that? It was my Blogging by Mail package! It was from Jesika who writes Don't Burn Down The Kitchen.
Can you read the box? It says, "Orange you excited?"
Heck ya, I'm excited! There was animal cookies, assorted teas, cute little bamboo forks, mini baking cups, and a magazine article,
10 Things to Make with a Pint of Ice Cream. Guess what I'll be making alot of?

Next Picture-Hot bowl of tortellini. She is so artistic. Also in my box was some Cracker Jacks, Lightning Bugs Gummy Candy that light up! Hm mm, that one I'm saving for our camping trip. What fun that will be! Also included was a fondant cutter and a tip cleaner. Someone has been reading my blog! A package of some (Fideo?) noodles to go with my little box of tomato paste for a little meal.There were 4 wrapped candy's but only 3 made it to the picture. Hm mm. Wonder who ate my chocolate? KELLIE! She also tried to snag those chopsticks for her hair but I told her, "NO, MINE! "
To wrap up this package Jesika sent one of my favorite flavors, Chia Spice Blend and a bottle of Vanilla Extract.
And the picture is of someone riding a carrot and it says,
"Riding on a Rocket"

Well I'm riding on a rocket today. What fun this event has been.

Thank you Jesika!

Thank you Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness for hosting BBM

And stay tuned for package #2. I have to taste test it!



Monday, March 17, 2008

And The Winner Is?

Just got back from the wild weekend. Non stop, late nights, and early mornings have done me in! I'm exhausted, but I'm here for the winner. Because I'm like that. :)

Just a moment to brag. Please bare with me.

Our orchestra is awesome!!! We won a total of 7 awards. We were up against a lot of high school groups including band and choir.

Our school strings, and the ensemble, both won Gold Awards!!!

Not to mention we won the Sweepstakes Award which was for overall highs points among all groups, Orchestral, band, and choir.

The Spirit Of San Francisco Award, which is a citizenship award was also ours. We have some awesome kids!

There were more but I'll spare ya. Besides, I'm just to tired.

I still have to make chocolate sour cream crumb cakes for the potluck in the morning. It's party time in orchestra class. It's breakfast and they listen to the tapes the judges made during the competition. Constructive criticism is always better with food! Stay tuned for that recipe!

It's time to do some giving.

Thank you to all who entered my contest.
I wish I could give you all a basket. Because I'm like that. ;)

I met a lot of new people and found some really cool blogs.

And now-
The Winner Is......

(drum roll)

Stephanie from Stephanie's Kitchen!
Applause applause applause.

Stephanie- E-mail me your snail mail and I'll get this in the mail.

And now I'm going to go take a nap!



Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chocolate Macaroon Bars

Were heading for San Francisco!!! 36 Jr. high kids, 16 chaperones, and 2 teachers for a total of 54 people (not counting hired bus drivers)headed to the big city. It's the Heritage Music Festival and the kids are going for an orchestra competition.
We have the festival, Winchester mystery house, and Marine World all in our weekend plans. Our I-pods, hand held games, and pillows are packed along side the tray of fresh chocolate macaroon bars. And these are gonna be a hit. A little sugar high to top off the excitement and these kids are gonna be bouncing off the walls. What better way to start a weekend?

Reminder: I'm pulling the name out of the hat Monday morning for the Easter basket. Check back to see if your a lucky leprechaun on St. Patricks Day!!!

Chocolate Macaroon Bars

Recipe by Nestle Toll House

1 pkg chocolate cake mix

1/3 C. butter

2 lg eggs, divided

1 (14oz) can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 tsp vanilla

2C (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate

1 1/2 C. flaked coconut divided

3/4C. chopped nuts(optional)

1. Beat cake mix, butter and 1 egg in large mixing bowl until mixture is crumbly. Firmly press onto bottom of greased 9x13in pan.

2. Combine sweetened condensed milk, remaining egg, and vanilla in medium bowl. Stir in chocolate chips, 1C. coconut and nuts. Spread over mixture in baking pan. Sprinkle with remaining coconut.

3. Bake in preheated 350F oven for 30-40 minutes till golden brown.(center will set when cooled). Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars.


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Friday, March 7, 2008

E is for Excellent!

Last week, my friend April of Abby Sweets, gave me a bloggy award. Before I even told her how much I appreciated it, she...

gave me another award. A "you make my day" award. Thank you April!

You made my day, my week, my month!!!
Thanks for reading my blog and being my friend.
I wish I had an appreciation award to give you!

To celebrate such a fun day, I made something that has been talking to me for weeks. Every since I saw these on Bakerella, I've lusted after these. Cake balls! Or for a better sounding treat, I like to call them Cake Bites! They were a must try! I used a confetti cake mix with the confetti white frosting. Half dipped in semi-sweet chocolate and half in white. I really like the semi sweet better then white chocolate, but, I thought they would be prettier dressed in white. I used the sprinkles that came with the frosting for the tops of the white ones.

These were excellent and made my day, just like my awards!

I would like to pass both these awards on to some people who I also love to read. They are regular reader's of my little 'ol blog and they're always there with a sweet comment.

Carla of Chocolate Moosey

Karen of Do Better

Patsy of Family, Friends and Food

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Strawberry Cream Diet Pie!

Spring is here in 2 weeks and that means Summer is right around the corner. I don't know about you but I'm not ready to break out the etty bitty teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini. Or in my case, the fat lady suit.

With all the baking I do, I try to get my share of chicken and veggys. But, I always add, Diet Pie.

I got this recipe from Weight Watchers years ago. But you don't have to be on a diet to enjoy this
pie. It's light and refreshing and perfect for anytime. Even for company!

The original recipe calls for a low fat graham cracker crust, but I add an extra WW point (per piece) and use a chocolate crust. It was also for a lime pie but I mix it up. Strawberry, raspberry, orange, what ever my mood desires. I call it strawberry cream pie because I was to lazy to completely incorporate the cool whip into the yogurt mixture. Beside the fact, I kind of like the cream spots.

So without further adu, I give to you my version, of Diet Pie.

Diet Pie

from: Weight Watchers

1 prepared low fat graham cracker crust (I just use regular choclate crust)
1/4 cup boiling water
1 pkg (4 serving size) sugar free strawberry jello (or any flavor)
2 containers strawberry yogurt (or any flavor to match jello)
1 container cool whip

Dissolve jello in boiling water. Add yogurt. Mix well. Fold in Cool whip.
Pour into prepared pie crust. Chill 2 hours.

In Weight Watcher talk- 3 points for 1/8 piece of pie.
In Megan's Cookin talk-4 points for 1/8 piece of pie.

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

What's Cookin?

I have had this little "ol blog for 7 months now. I've met so many nice people, formed fabulous friendships, became a Daring Baker and stepped out of my baking comfort zone, and won so many contest. I'm actually embarrassed to tell you how many I have won. All in about 2 months. Lets list them!

A cookbook titled *I'm Dreaming Of A Chocolate Christmas* from Marye at Baking Delights. (Great cookbook!)

A 14k gold cherub pendant and bag from Karen at A Simply Amusing Blog

A purple stone jewelry set from Melissa at Organized Chaos

An acrylic folk art painting from Jonna at Just Jonna

And a surprise gift that's on the way from Cookie at Cookie Sunshine

And a NEAT receipt scanner from Amy at Working Moms Blog

So a big thank you to these ladies! And I still have my name in a few other hats out there in the blogosphere.

Now it's my turn to give! I'm giving away this (Easter) basket of goodies. Anyone can enter, even if you don't have a blog. I'll tell you the specifics in a minute, but first let's look in this basket!

He have a 2 pack of cute spring kitchen towels and a 4 pack of dishcloths. Notice the cute white flower on the dishcloths? It will make you smile while doing dishes. Guaranteed!

A package of three *Fuzzy Bunny* medium treat boxes
with matching baking cups!

And of course, a package of purple *Peep* bunny's. And who knows what other little goodies could make their way into this basket. It is almost Easter after all and I love surprises!

What do you have to do to enter you ask? Its simple.
Leave me a comment that you want to be entered and that's it. Your entered.
(Non-bloggers must leave a valid e-mail so I can contact you if your the winner)

If you want an extra ticket, subscribe to my blog. Either by RSS feed or e-mail. Already subscribe? Let me know and you get the extra ticket.

Now if you blog about the contest with a link back to this post, I'll give you 5 more tickets!
And for every person who tells me that you sent them, I'll give you another ticket.

You could really jack up your chances to win. Just let me know what your doing in the comments so you get full credit!

You have till St. Patrick's Day to earn your ticket's. I'll have someone around here (not me) pull a name from the hat on March 17th. If I can find a hat! Might have to be a box.

I'll e-mail that person for their address and send the box out immediately. Hopefully, so the box will get to the winner with plenty of time before Easter.

Now who wouldn't want this cute little Easter Basket? I know it's gonna be hard for me to part with. I really want to bake with those cute little baking cups!

I hope I explained it clearly enough. I wish everyone the best of luck.

If you have any questions, E-mail me! Megan_pires2000 AT yahoo DOT com.