Thursday, December 3, 2009

MAY - My Birthday

For my birthday this year we spent a beautiful evening at Arrington Vineyards, right outside Nashville, TN. This local vineyard is owned in part by the Brooks half of Brooks and Dunn. Although it is just out side of one of the major cities in Tennessee you would never know it. It was a beautiful 20 minute drive from Nashville, and was a perfect relaxing evening for a birthday celebration.

We got to taste several of the wines they make there...

We also purchased a couple bottles of wine to share...

We packed some snacks...

And relaxed!

What a fantastic birthday :)


It has been way way too long since I've blogged. I am going to try can catch up on the past 6 months worth of blogging!

It has been a good last 6 months, my brother has been in Nashville living in my dinning room and it has been wonderful having him around...

Time to stat catching up!!!


Monday, April 6, 2009

40 Things...

So I ran across this article, 40 Things Every Tennessean Should Try by Jessica Bliss at The Tennessean. I think these 40 things should be my inspiration for this years adventures... Since my adventures have gotten off to a bit of a slow start this year... this may spur them along!

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - When you say you live in Tennessee, you

identify yourself as a resident of a Southern state. When you say you are a Tennessean, it means so much more.

From wicked whitewater to the world's biggest fish fry, the Volunteer State isn't just a geographic location, it's an experience.

The Tennessean scoured the state for the 40 things every Tennessean -- native or otherwise -- should do while they live here. Here's the list -- in no particular order. ------

1. Travel the Natchez Trace, from Nashville to Natchez, Miss.: The 444-m

ile parkway meanders through the scenic South, connecting the lower portions of the Mississippi River to central Tennessee. Sprinkled along the way are shops, historical stops and loads of local flavor. ------ I have been on part of the Natchez Trace, but have not traveled the whole thing.

Nancy and Mom at the Natchez Bridge! (I took the picture so it counts!)

2. Rock on at Bonnaroo: It's hard to imagine having more fun in the middle of nowhere. This four-day, multistage music festival in Manchester, Tenn., crosses genres and generations, generating good times for all. If you go, bring your camping gear and stay awhile. ------

3. Go to a show at the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville: This famous venue is steeped in tradition

, having grown from a roaring '20s radio broadcast into a national music marvel. Its stage showcases country music legends and present-day performers. or (800) 733-6779 ------ I can Check this off my list! I have been a couple of times!

4. Visit Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge: Tucked amid the splendor of the Smokies, there's nothing

sleepy about this small-town experience. From go-carts to mini-golf, a bevy of family attractions line well-traveled streets flanked with stores galore. And Dollywood and Ripley's

Believe It or Not illuminate the cities' natural setting and offer tick-free entertainment in the middle of the great outdoors. ------ I've been to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, but it was before I lived here. Does that still count? I would like to go back!

5. Dip a biscuit in gravy at Loveless Cafe, Nashville: It's hard to say what's the bigger draw -- the biscuit lady's famous made-from-scratch creations or the savory redeye gravy -- so get both. The quaint diner has served more than its share of celebrities. ------ I can check this one off the list too!

6. Put a paddle in the Harpeth, Middle Tennessee: Don't be surprised to sight a snake or a sunbathing cow along this scenic waterway. This playground appeals to outdoor enthusiasts and escapists. ------ I have gone down a river in a conoe, I need to check and see if it was the Harpeth... I might get to check this one off the list!

This was my very first weekend in Tennessee!

7. Groove at Graceland, Memphis: It would be cruel to ignore the King's white-columned mansion with its meditation garden and unforgettable Jungle Room. There may be some cheese mixed in with the charm, but it's worth the stop to catch up on the legend of rock. or (800) 238-2000 ------ I have been to Graceland several times, again it was before I lived in the state of TN!

8. Pet a shark at the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga: Fish are just the tip of the iceberg a

t this underwater adventure site, where a river and ocean journey offer a glimpse at more than 12,000 animals, including salamanders, octopi, otters and penguins. or (800) 262-0695 ------Align Left I went here with Allison this August... It was a celebration of our 18th Friendiversary... :)

9. Volunteer, statewide: Any true Tennessean ought to embrace the state's nickname, and the beauty of this must-do is that it can be done almost anywhere. Find a soup kitchen, an animal shelter or any other local nonprofit and devote a few hours helping others. You'll be glad you did. Volunteer information: or (615) 298-1108 ------ I have volunteered! I am well on my way to being a Tennessean... Humm... I am not sure how I feel about that, being a Tennessean that is...not volunteering.

10. Sport a spectacular hat at Iroquois Steeplechase, Nashville: All seersuckers and sundresses, this annual horse race is a slightly toned-down version of the Kentucky Derby. Crowds of colorfully clad men and women spend the day picnicking while the equines run around a well-groomed grass track teeming with obstacles. ------

11. See Rock City, Lookout Mountain: Splendid rock formations guide visitors on a botanical journey that features more than 400 plant species and a bunch of distractions for the kids. The highlight is the overlook, where a clear day affords a look at seven different states from just one spot. Where else can you do that? or (800) 854-0675 ------ While we were in Chattanooga for our Friendiversary we had to see Rock City and Lookout Mountain...Check and Check!

12. Bow to Athena at the Parthenon, Nashville: It's hard to ignore the Greek masterpiece situated in the center of Centennial Park, and really you shouldn't. Originally built for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition, this massive replica has become a contemporary city centerpiece, boasting a 42-foot Athena, an art gallery and a picturesque place for sunbathing. or (615) 862-8431 ------ Check!

I took this picture when Dad was in town!

13. Party in a pew at the Ryman, Nashville: Famous as the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, the historic music venue today remains a much sought-after showplace for hundreds of acclaimed artists. Its grand acoustics and unique seating add excellence to the show. or (615) 889-3060 ------ Check! Check! Check! I've been there a couple of times...

14. Watch or run the Country Music Marathon, Nashville: Thousands travel to Music City every year to take part in the state's largest endurance event. Bodies bob and weave along the city streets, live bands play and sign-wielding spectators cheer on the weary. ------ I have watched it! I doubt I will run it!

15. Down a big beer on Beale Street, Memphis: Once a street for all things smarmy, the redevelopment of Beale Street has rejuvenated a hot entertainment district with deep-rooted blues tradition. For live music, dancing and libations, it's a must-stop for a Tennessee good time. ------ I have spent some time on Beale street, but I wasn't 21 so I have not downed a big beer on Beale.

16. Walk the grounds at the Hermitage, Nashville: Once a simple frontier farm, the Hermitage evolved into a prosperous plantation under the guidance of its most notable resident, President Andrew Jackson. Now it stands as a museum dedicated to delivering not only the story of Jackson but also the enslaved men and women who helped him farm the 1,000-acre property. or (615) 889-2941. ------ I did this when my mom and aunt were in town, it was a cold, nasty day!

17. Sign your name on the wall at Tootsie's, Nashville: It's hard to miss Nashville's honky-tonk haven, which is good because it deserves some attention. It doesn't matter what time of day you might happen down Broadway, there will be twanging and tunes floating out from every venue on the street. The nightlife is grand with its cast of cowboy-hat clad characters, and who knows, you might even see a star or two. ------ CHECK!!!

18. Camp out in Fall Creek Falls forest, Bledsoe and Van Buren counties: Cascading streams, timber and gorgeous gorges provide a perfect backdrop for an outdoor adventure. The park spans 20,000 acres over the Cumberland Plateau and serves as a hiker, fisher and family's delight. or (423) 881-5298. ------

19. Square dance at Mule Day, Columbia: Yes, this is a four-day celebration of everything mule. And, yes, it is mighty popular. A tradition for nearly 170 years, the event began as a simple livestock show and has morphed into an affair featuring square-dancing, crafts and a flea market. Along with mules, of course. ------

20. Take a trip through history at Stones River Battlefield, Murfreesboro: One of the Civil War's bloodiest conflicts is recaptured in the very place it occurred almost 150 years ago. Tour the battlegrounds and learn about those who fought. ------

21. Hear the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Nashville: A true musical treasure, this group of vocal artists travels worldwide to preserve the unique tradition entrenched in African-American spirituals. The choral ensemble has performed since 1871 receiving a myriad of honors, including the 2008 National Medal of Arts. ------

22. Meander around the mountain at the University of the South, Sewanee: Perched atop the Cumberland Plateau, this architecturally impressive campus has plenty to study. Its 13,000 acres and splendid nature-infused setting captures visitors' hearts and invites them to explore. ------

23. Buy a shot glass at Jack Daniel distillery, Lynchburg: The birthplace of Tennessee whisky is not too far away and a tour of the creation facilities is free. Don't expect to get a swig of the stuff when you're through, however -- Moore County has been dry since the days of Prohibition. ------

24. Battle the whitewater on the Ocoee or Little Pigeon, East Tennessee: Boasting a host of Class III and Class IV rapids, these lively waterways offer high-energy adventure. If you go with a guide -- and there are plenty just a Google search away -- there's no experience necessary. -----

25. Get a plate at the World's Biggest Fish Fry, Paris: More than 5 tons of catfish are cooked at this weeklong festival, which dates back to the 1960s. ------

26. Tread the sidewalks on Music Row, Nashville: It's nothing flashy -- no more than a quiet collection of old houses and office buildings, really -- but this set of streets is where stars are made, and that alone makes it worth a visit. Numerous record labels and publishing houses hold residence here, along with famous recording sites like RCA Record's Studio B. ------ Check!

27. Satisfy your greasy desires with a Rotier's burger, Nashville: A massive mound of meat served between two pieces of toasted French bread? This burger is hard to beat. Swig a milkshake on the side in this vintage-style eatery. ------ I've been to Rotier's! I can mark this one off the list!

28. Sample the Music City microbrews, Nashville: Looking for a tasty beverage with local flavor? Yazoo, Blackstone and Bosco's all produce excellent ales that have been recognized nationally. ------ I have had beers from all three... I would have to say I am a Yazoo fan!

29. Dare the depths of the Bell Witch Cave, Adams: The historic haunting grounds of "Kate," the Bell Witch, these chilly caverns are said to be the doorway through which the spirit enters and departs our world. Lore also states it's the site of supernatural happenings, including mysterious electrical outages and movement paralysis. or (615) 696-3055 ------

30. Jam at the Station Inn on Sunday night, Nashville: Known for a keen bluegrass sound, on these evenings well-known artists may mingle with local amateurs, blending their talents to create an unpredictable but highly entertaining performance. or (615) 255-3307. ------

31. See eagles soar at Reelfoot Lake bird sanctuary, Dyersburg: Home to one of the country's largest wintering populations of eagles, Reelfoot Lake is a draw for anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the creature, along with the many other birds swirling around the sanctuary. If you go, bring your binoculars. ------

32. Indulge in a mineral bath, Red Boiling Springs: The Armour Hotel houses the state's only working mineral bathhouse. The smell is not savory, but the healing effects are said to be heavenly. ------

33. Get into the goo at the RC and Moon Pie festival, Bell Buckle: A seed-spitting contest, synchronized wading, cloggers -- it's hard to imagine a more interesting festival itinerary. This June marks the event's 15th anniversary. ------

34. Hear the symphony in the Schermerhorn, Nashville: Music City may be a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll, but it's also a little bit choral, classical and even cabaret. Since late 2006, the Schermerhorn has been the perfect setting to sample another chord in Nashville's rich musical melody. or (615) 687-6500 ------ AMAZING! I love this place!

This may be an illegal picture!

35. Pluck some Prince's Hot Chicken, Nashville: Don't let the dDecor fool you; the chicken that comes out of this kitchen is delicious. Not for the weak-willed or tender-tongued, the fried fowl is fiery but also fantastic. Definitely a bit of Southern flavor worth sampling. ------

36. Peek in the men's room at the Hermitage Hotel, Nashville: How could you miss making a jaunt to the john when it could be in America's best restroom? Voted 2008's No. 1 in a contest held by the Cintas Corp., the onyx and lime green dDecor of this five-star hotel pit stop sets it apart from all others. ------

37. Snag a piece of history at Hatch Show Print, Nashville: This letterpress print shop delivers eye-catching creations that have visually logged local advertising and entertainment history since the late 1800s. The company, which sits just next to the Ryman, still churns out its unique art today. or (615) 256-2805 ------ Check!

38. Watch others bid big at a livestock auction, statewide: You haven't lived until you've seen a steer sold at auction. It's part of everyday farm life for many Tennesseans. ------

39. Rendezvous for ribs at Rendezvous, Memphis: Flame-broiled and rubbed with spices, the ribs here are what draws tourists to this joint. Secretly stashed down an alleyway, this treasure is somewhat hidden, but the search is worth it. ------

40. Sing karaoke in Music City, Nashville: Of course most locals would immediately think Lonnie's when looking for a place to put their vocal talents -- or lack thereof -- on display, but there are plenty of places to step on stage and sing. Who knows, you might just be discovered.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Ok so it has been  too long since I last blogged... sorry I know you have been missing it... ha ha ha... 

I have been on a been on a BIG granola kick lately.  Unfortunatly buying granola is a bit expensive and can be high in fat too. So I thought I would make it!

The first time I made it I added the fruit, but this last time I left it out and I think I like that better. I usually add fresh fruit or dried fruit when I am getting ready to eat it.

Here you go! Try it and let me know if you like it:

4 cups old fashoned oats
1/2 cup milled flax seed
1/2 cup wheat germ
4 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp almond extract
6 Tbs canola oil
2 Tbs water

Adjust  oven rack to middle position, and heat oven to 275 degrees. Coat two 9x13 pan with cooking spray, then set aside.

Mix oats, milled flax seed, wheat germ, brown sugar, salt, and nuts in a bowl.

Bring honey, oil, water and almond extract to a simmer in a saucepan over low heat. Drizzle over oat mixture, and stir to combine. 

Pour mixture onto prepared pan. Working a handful at a time, squeeze cereal to form small clumps. Bake for 30 minutes. Check and contiunte to bake until golden brown, about another 15 minutes. Let cool. 

Granola can be stored in an airtight tin for up to two weeks.

Monday, March 9, 2009

7 Layer Cookies

I saw a recipie for seven layer cookies and I thought they looked amazing, and had to try making them!

They were a ton of work, but boy were they yummy!

Here is my picture...

Makes about 5 dozen cookies (or more, if you cut them as small as I did)

Time: These take at least 11 hours from beginning to end, most of it inactive, but make sure you have a good 2 to 3 hour window to bake in

4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 (8-oz) can almond paste
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
25 drops red food coloring
25 drops green food coloring
1 (12-oz) jar apricot preserves, heated and strained
7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped

Special equipment: a small offset spatula, a heavy-duty stand mixer if you have one; a hand-mixer should work as well

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line bottom with wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 ends, then butter paper.

Beat whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another bowl.

Switch to paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.

Fold half of egg white mixture into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Set white batter aside. Chill green batter, covered. Pour red batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick).

Bake red layer 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. (It is important to undercook. They’ll look like they’re not done, but a tester does come out clean.)

Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Clean pan, then line with parchment or wax paper and butter paper in same manner as above. Bake white layer in prepared pan until just set. As white layer bakes, bring green batter to room temperature. Transfer white layer to a rack. Prepare pan as above, then bake green layer in same manner as before. Transfer to a rack to cool.

When all layers are cool, invert green onto a parchment or wax-paper-lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert red layer on top of white layer and discard wax or parchment paper.

Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan. Chill at least 8 hours.

Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Keep chocolate over water. (Alternately, you can do what I did: melt the chocolate 3.5 ounces at a time just to make sure it doesn’t seize up between steps, though that shouldn’t be a problem if you only let it set for 15.)

Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread half of chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake. Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and place another baking sheet on top, then invert cake onto sheet and remove paper. Quickly spread with remaining chocolate. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Cut lengthwise into 4 strips (I cut them into more, because I wanted them 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide, as I remember them). Cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide cookies.

Do ahead: Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks. They’ll keep even longer in the freezer.

Three important notes:

I struggled with three things in this recipe (the first two were mistakes, and both came back to bite me in the tuchus) so you won’t have to:

1. Don’t stack cooled cakes: Once my first two cake layers were cool (and still on their parchment liners) and I needed to make room on the cooling rack for the third one, I went ahead and stacked them, their liners between them. DON’T DO THIS. Not because they crush each other (they won’t) or because they’ll stick (they don’t) but because that paper liner is greased on both sides from baking and the chocolate shell never quite stuck right to the pink cake because of the grease accidentally left on it. I can’t tell you how many cookies were rejected because their chocolate fell off. It is too sad to discuss.

2. Be careful dividing your jam: I mindlessly divided the jam wrong/unevenly and ended up with too much between one layer and too little between another. Too little was no biggie, but where there was too much it oozed out and was particularly difficult to keep stacked when sawing through with a serrated knife. So, if you’re using a scale to make two six-ounce divisions of jam, remember that you’ve probably strained out a good ounce or so of jam solids, or in other words DUH. Your divided amounts will be less than six ounces each.

3. They’re easier to cut when frozen: Nevertheless, they tasted amazingly and I was all ready to do a victory lap around my wee kitchen counter, however, when I got to cutting them up and then it all went south. People, these were trying to cut. The problem lies within the differing textures of the layers — the top hard chocolate shell more benefits from a sharp serrated knife (a regular, even very sharp knife will crack the edges when you press down on it), the same serrated knife that gets gummed with jam and tries to pull the soft cake layers in between apart. It was exasperating. It didn’t go well. I packed up some for a party and stuffed the rest in the freezer, only to discover the next day that these cut fantastically when frozen. Seriously. Trust me. I have the gummy floor and gray hairs to prove it.


Bedroom Pictures... Get your mind out of the gutter...

I finished working decorating my bedroom... I think... Until I get antsy and am ready for a change. My bedroom ended up being much more "Floral" than I had intended it to be, but I love it... and it isn't granny floral!

This project started when I saw a poster with three black and white flowers and thought it reminded me of the flowers I had in my bedroom. So I got the poster, it was less than $10. 

I knew I wanted to frame them individually but I didn't want to spend big bucks, so I went to good will to find 3 frames that were about the same size. Cost, about $15.

My next stop was Micheal's... I found HOT pink spray paint and some black paper to mat my poster prints on. Cost around $10.

Here is what $35 and an afternoon can turn into:


And this is what it all looks like together!


Valentines Day Bake Off

So, I am playing catch up on blogging... I have started a bunch of different entries... and just have not posted them...
Back in Feb I was in a real baking mood, and I had a Valentines Day bake off. I made 3 heart shaped red velvet cakes!

This one was my test cake, I made it for our office Valentines day potluck. It went over well! It was not as pretty as the other ones, but it was a good test cake!

I made this cake for Mike, he gave it to his wife for VDay. How cute is that! This was the FIRST cake I sold! I am so proud of myself.

AND this is the 2nd cake I sold! Carrie hired me to make a cake for her sweet Katie and Collin... 

I even got a box and put a pretty pink bow on it!

I was even a bigger nerd because I made my own little cake calling card!

American Beauty Cake (Red Velvet)
2 oz red food coloring
3 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 c Crisco
1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
1 c buttermilk
2 1/4 c cake flower, sifted 3 times
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp vinegar
1 tsp soda

Mix together the red food coloring and coca and set aside. 

Cream together the Crisco, sugar, making sure the sugar crystals are all dissolved, and add the two eggs. Mix in the food coloring paste, the buttermilk, cake flour, salt, and vanilla. Mix well. Fold in quickly by hand, the vinegar mixed together with the soda, while it is still foamy. Pour into 3 - 8" (I divided it into two heart shaped pans) cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove from pans, cool completely. Frost with Whipped Vanilla Icing.

Whipped Vanilla Icing
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 c milk
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c butter
1/4 c Crisco
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

In a small saucepan, combine the flour and Milk, cook until thick. Set aside, cool to room temperature. In mixing bowl cream together the sugar, buttermilk and Crisco. Mix until sugar crystals are dissolved. Add the vanilla, salt, and the cooled flour mixture. Beat on high until fluffy.

*** I tripled this in order to frost a whole cake, you may even want to quadruple it!

I LOVE to bake! The best part is seeing the joy on peoples faces when they get an unexpected sweet treat!

I <3 Pepsi!

This is for all you crazy people that think pop should be called soda or coke... This is from a Pepsi ad. When Mom was in town we saw a billboard out in Hermitage that says pop! So ha! :)

I am not really all that crazy, I promise!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Quick Update!

I made Blondie Cookies last night! So good! 

I have so much blogging to catch up on, hopefully I can get some done tonight!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I think my comments now work :)
Try it out!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Mess

While I was off to Houston my apartment complex was going to re surface my tub and shower, and well they did. I also had an unexpected surprise when I walked in to my apartment at 11pm Sunday night, and noticed EVERYTHING in my apartment was covered in a white dust. Take a look...

The floor in my entry way

My BLACK comforter


My computer

Needless to say, I was not a happy camper Sunday night. I called my apartment first thing Monday morning and by the time I got home all the dust was gone! They have a great cleaning crew. Thank goodness!

Houston Adventure

I had my first out of state adventure of the year! I spent this past weekend in Houston, TX. It was so great to see Jenny!

I got into town Friday morning and my flight was 35 minutes early! CRAZY! I don't think I have ever been on a flight that got in that early. Jenny had to work a 1/2 day so I hung out for a while, people watched, read some of my book, and just relaxed till she came to pick me up. We went and grabbed some Mexican (I was in need of some good Mexican Food) so good. We then went back to her place, and saw Phil, and then decided to go get pedicures... let me tell you these pedis were crazy, we got every treatment you could think of... Limes were squeezed onto out toes ( I have no idea what that is about, but whatever), a mask for our legs, hot stone massage, hot wax on our feet, and I think that there was another treatment or two that I can't remember. We got all of this for only $30. We were both about to fall asleep.

Jenny and Phil

We made it back to Jenny's and Max had made it to town, and he and Phil were chillin'. So us girls got to be our girly selves. We played dress up and finally decided on super cute outfits to go out in. We made it to the Flying Saucer downtown and had dinner and couple beers, it was fun.

Emily and Max

On Saturday, I slept in LATE, I could not believe it was 10:30 when I woke up. Phil was sick when he woke up. So, Jenny, Max, and I spent the day hanging around Houston. We decided to cook dinner and had penne ala vodka. It was quite yummy!

Our lovely dinner

Sunday morning we made waffles from scratch, it was so nice to cook in Jenny's kitchen. I love all of her kitchen gear... I am jealous... I need to get married just so I can register to get kitchen supplies. Kidding. After breakfast Jenny and I went out for some girl time... SHOPPING! It was a wonderful afternoon.

What a great trip to Texas! I consider this trip a very successful one especially because I came back to Tennessee in one piece and with my wallet!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Savory Cheesecake

A week or so ago I had our Alumni Tri Delta officer meeting at my apartment. I was told all I had to supply was water. Ha! If you are coming over to my house for a meeting you are not going to just get water! I did have water, I also had lemonade. I made some sweet treats, and a savory cheesecake.

When you hear cheesecake don't think that delicious sweet cheesecake. This one had creme cheese, feta cheese, Parmesan cheese, caramelized onions, sun dried tomatoes and artichoke and served on crackers.  So it might not look beautiful or all that appetizing but it was delicious!

In this picture it is still in the spring form pan. Once I took it out it was only about an inch tall. I cut it into slices so people could take one slice and grab some crackers.

I have never made a cheesecake before and it was really not as difficult as I thought it might be, all you have to do is follow the recipe.

Savory Sun Dried Tomato and Artichoke Cheesecake
Recipe by: Emily
3 packages Cream Cheese, at room temperature
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup Sun Dried Tomato's in Oil, chopped
1 medium Onion, sliced thin
1 14 oz Can Artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped, reserve 2 Tablespoons of the liquid
4 oz Feta Cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
1 tsp dried Basil
1 tsp Sugar
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pepper

1. Caramelize the sliced onion with 1 tsp of sugar over medium low heat for about 30 minutes in a pan. Set aside onions.
2.Mix the bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons melted butter together and press into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan.
3. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth with a hand mixer. Add the feta cheese and beat until well mixed.
4. Add the eggs, basil, salt, pepper, garlic, and the reserved 2 tablespoons of artichoke liquid and mix until just incorporated.
5. Fold in the sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onion, Parmesan cheese and artichoke hearts. Pour filling into the prepared 9 inch spring form pan and bake in a 325 degree preheated oven for 35 minutes. Allow cheesecake to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes on a wire rack and then chill for at least 4 hours before serving. To serve slice cheesecake into wedges and spread on crackers or toasted or crusty bread. Enjoy

Allison's Birthday

So it has been a little while since I have blogged, and I have so many food and fun things to share!

So, the past couple of years I have made Allison a birthday cake. Last year I made cute Mini Cherry Chocolate Cakes with a cool whip topping and wrapped in a chocolate shell, take a look at last year's cakes.

This year I stuck with the mini cakes and made Chocolate Cake with a Creme Cheese Peanut Butter Frosting (None of the peanut butter was tainted, promise) and Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache. THEY WERE AMAZING, like heaven in your mouth! Take a look!

These were wonderful! Try it:

Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes

This cake is INTENSE. Serve it in the thinnest slices possible, and keep a glass of milk handy.

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake; serves 12 to 16 (the book says, I say a heck of a lot more)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (I skipped this)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Deb note: These cakes are very, very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. (Deb note 1: Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating. Deb note 2: Once the cake is fully frosting, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.)

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.