Saturday, December 31, 2011

Brandy Ice - Project 52: Week 52

One more for the end of the year! I had a Brandy Ice at a local restaurant and thought that sounded fun for New Year's Eve.
Brandy Ice:
1/2 cup Brandy
1/4 cup Kahlua
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream.

Mix together in the blender, and pour into your favorite glass. Put it in the freezer for a couple hours or so and enjoy!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Penguins - Project 52: Week 52

I see these cute olive and cream cheese penguins on Tasty Kitchen and new I had to make them. We enjoyed them as a non-sugary snack on Christmas Eve. (Sorry I can't find the instructions for the life of me!).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Cookies - Project 52: Week 51

I'm trying to get all my food pictures up before the end of year, so I don't have any recipes yet to go with these, but the marshmallow cookie is a stained-glass window. Then I made a chocolate cookie with peanut butter chips (have to have peanut butter in there somewhere!). And in the background is extra I had from Emeril's Key Lime Pie, which we had for Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Polka Dot Cookies~Project 52: Week 49

These mint chips come out at Christmas time only (at least in my regular grocery store), so I buy them just to buy them. I decided to try the recipe on the back of the bag and it is DELICIOUS! The cookie it fudgy and the coolness of the mint chips feels so good in the mouth.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fish Fry - Project 52: Week 50

I recently received a Dutch Oven (thanks Mommy!) so I could make Pioneer Woman's Roast (which was delicious), but my hubby also saw other uses for the dutch oven. Such as frying fish.

And French Fries. This picture bothers me, but I took it after we ate, and that's all that was left, it was dark out (no natural lighting), so I did the best I could under the circumstances.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Keepsake Cookies - Project 52: Week 48

I found a recipe for Keepsake Cookies in an old recipe book (with no pictures). With a cookie-like bottom, a sugary/peanut buttery topping, plus a chocolate topping: I had to make these. But the crumbly crust was nearly impossible to make into cookies, so I pushed the crust into the bottom of my spring form cheese cake pan and cut pieces as I needed them. (Yes, I needed pieces of this!).

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Morning Hashbrowns redone - Project 52: Week 46

We've been making Christmas morning Hash Browns throughout the year, not just on Christmas morning, for several years now. A friend asked for the recipe and I searched through the blog and found the post from 2008. I couldn't believe the picture! I knew I could do better, although the plain-looking hash browns do make for a dull picture. The hash browns are plenty for us, so we don't eat anything else with them, so I couldn't do a nice table full of breakfast foods. I've also updated the recipe here to reflect how we make them now.

1 30 oz. bag frozen shredded potatoes
8 oz. sour cream
½ cup melted butter
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. onion powder
1 cup (packed) grated cheddar cheese

Mix ingredients together in a large bowl. Transfer to a 9×13 casserole dish. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Forest Cake Redone - Project 52: Week 45

I had the opportunity to make a cake for my church's dessert auction this past weekend. I knew I wanted to make the Black Forest Cake I made for my daughter's second birthday because it looks impressive with those chocolate curls and cherries and because the Italian Meringue frosting is DELICIOUS. This time I added chocolate to the frosting (I went to the original source of the recipe, and it has a spot were I was able to make 2.5 times the recipe and it does all the math for me). This was enough frosting for four eight-inch layers of cakes (I ended up making two cakes since I had so much). Plus, there was lots of frosting left over. I think I would just double the recipe next time.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Crumb Cake - Project 52: Week 43

This is Libby's Pumpkin Crumb Cake. I had it at a church potluck last year and it changed my life. It's so simple and so delicious. And please, oh please, make real whipped cream to top it, not that stuff in a tub made from high fructose corn syrup. Enjoy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Crisp - Project 52: Week 42

My son and I went to the local pumpkin patch as part of his preschool field trip. He got to pick three apples, so we decided to make apple crisp. I also had to make home made whipped cream. Yum!

Angry Bird

Kitty Kitty

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Red Velvet Cake - Project 52: Week 40

My mom was in town for her birthday, so I got to make her a cake. I asked her what kind she would like and she chose red velvet cake. I used this recipe. (minus all those nuts!)

It was delicious, but to me the real star was the cream cheese frosting. Yum!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Roast - Project 52: Week 39

My mom is in town and we decided to make a roast. Here she is washing the fresh rosemary and thyme.

Here's the beautiful chuck roast searing.

We followed Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pot Roast recipe for the roast. It was good, but not knock your socks off good like we'd hoped.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Waffles - Project 52: Week 38

These are just waffles from a mix, but my mom is here and she bought a waffle maker, so we thought it would be fun to make waffles. I even made homemade whipped cream - yum!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Project 52 Week 37

This is the same old Crisco recipe I always use and I just love it! Can't beat chocolate chip cookies.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Blueberry Buckle - Project 52: Week 36

My son and I like to watch Alton Brown's Good Eats on the Food Network. I've even been recording the reruns for us to watch together. Recently, we watched the blueberry episode where this Blueberry Buckle was featured. Here's our version of it. I didn't have whole milk, so I used 2% (I know Alton would not approved, but my kids and I sure liked it!).
We used frozen blueberries like Alton said we could in the episode. Once the blueberries are incorporated into the batter, let it sit out for 15 minutes before putting it in the oven. I also had to increase the baking time from 35 minutes to almost 50 because of the frozen blueberries.

For the cake:

Nonstick cooking spray
9 ounces cake flour, approximately 2 cups
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
5 1/4 ounces sugar, approximately 3/4 cup
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk
15 ounces fresh whole blueberries, approximately 3 cups


For the topping:

3 1/2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/2 cup
1 1/2 ounces cake flour, approximately 1/3 cup
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cubed


For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Spray a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Add the egg and beat until well incorporated, approximately 30 seconds. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until incorporated and then add 1/3 of the milk and beat until incorporated. Repeat, alternating flour and milk until everything has combined. Gently stir in the blueberries and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
For the topping:
In a small bowl combine the sugar, flour and nutmeg. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients using a fork to combine. Continue until the mixture has a crumb-like texture. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cake. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35 minutes or until golden in color. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, September 12, 2011

English Muffin - Project 52: Week 36

I purchased a basic studio lighting kit for my birthday and wanted to experiment with it. Here I've used the natural light from the left and one studio light at about 11 o'clock. It added a nice shine to the jam that I wasn't getting with just the natural light. Fun!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Grilled Cheeseburger - Project 52: Week 34

I know I've already posted a food photo for this week's Project 52, but my husband made a cheeseburger for lunch, so I just had to grab it from him first and take a photo.

Garlic - Project 52: Week 34

Finally! A food photo that doesn't require me to eat it afterwards! And cheap too. I took inspiration from Michael Ray's Photography. I am in awe of all his food photos, so I set out to recreate one of his shots as a way to learn. I would have never shot food with this harsh lighting and shadows, but I found it worked really well for the garlic. I think the harsh lighting goes well with the monochromatic garlic to make an interesting picture.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lemon Risotto - Project 52: Week 33

After watching Hell's Kitchen year after year, I decided I needed to try my hand at making risotto. It can't be THAT hard, right? Well, it's not hard, but it does take time and patience. After slaving over the stove, constantly stirring the rice, my husband says, "You know I'm scared to death to eat this, right?" Knowing that he is a plain white rice guy, I said, "Yeah," and served him a little portion - the same as I gave the kids. My husband and the kids all ended up having not only seconds, but thirds! I'm so pleased, and of course I loved it too! My husband has already requested that I make it again. Here's the recipe from Epicurious:

6 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons grated lemon peel



Bring broth to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine and stir until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Add 1 1/2 cups hot broth; simmer until absorbed, stirring frequently. Add remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is creamy and tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Season risotto with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl and serve.

My Baby Niece

I've heard that the photos didn't load correctly on the previous post, so I'm trying again here.






My Baby Niece

She just didn't feel like smiling, but I do love this pose.

The closest we got to a smile!

She has such beautiful coloring.

Love you baby doll!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Grapes - Project 52: Week 32

I painted my walls white this weekend in part so I can get better lighting inside for my food shots. Here are my beautiful grapes on my new white milk glass china.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Revelation: Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce

I needed to make a lighter dinner tonight, so I starting boiling some noodles because I knew the kids would eat them. Then I started chopping and sauteing vegetables, added a little tomato sauce and came up with my first ever vegetarian spaghetti sauce, and it was delicious. My baby girl ate the noodles with the sauce, but not my son. He eats the noodles with just butter and salt.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Strawberry Spinach Salad - Project 52: Week 31

This is a delicious salad that I've been making for years. Once I purchased my new china, I knew I had to make this salad for the beautiful white plates.

2 bunches fresh spinach leaves (or 1 bag of pre-washed)
2 cups sliced strawberries
½ cup sunflower seeds (or substitute your favorite nut)

½ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
1 Tablespoon minced red onions
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup cider vinegar

Combine spinach, strawberries and seeds in a bowl and toss. Combine dressing in a microwaveable-safe bowl and heat for three minutes or so until sugar is dissolved. Toss with salad and serve.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Milk Glass

I'm so excited. This is my first real set of china that I've ever purchased. Sure, we have a set of china from our wedding, but I chose casual china so we could actually use it without worrying. I picked up the first 6 pieces at a garage sale. I was attracted to the bright whiteness of the dishes for my food photography, and I LOVE the grape and leaves pattern.

I found the scalloped edged salad plates at an antique store at a great price, so now I have 35 more pieces!

P.S. from a photography standpoint, taking a picture of something that's all white is very difficult!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oatmeal Apple Muffins - Project 52: Week 30

I've been reading Plate to Pixel by Helen Dujardin and it is very inspiring.

Helene's pictures are beautiful and she tells a story with them, which is what I've tried to do here. There's some sort of focus problem with my muffin that's cut open - better luck next time. Something else new that I learned from Helene's book was to change my white balance settings. It's ALWAYS cloudy where I live, so I changed my white balance to cloudy and it added a warm tone to my photos without sacrificing exposure.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lemon Bars - Project 52: Week 28

These are Ina Garten's recipe for Lemon Bars. They are dense. They are rich. They are tart. They are lemony. They are wonderful!


For the crust:

·                                 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
·                                 1/2 cup granulated sugar
·                                 2 cups flour
·                                 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

·                                 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
·                                 3 cups granulated sugar
·                                 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
·                                 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
·                                 1 cup flour
·                                 Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill for 30 minutes.
Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.
Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.

***The reviews on this recipe said the crust was crumbly and hard to get out of the pan, so I put parchment in my pan (and buttered and floured it) and then I was able to just life it out of  the pan and cut it into bars on a cutting board.
This is so you can see how I did my parchment (this picture is just of the crust, before I poured the custard in).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Triple Berry Pie - Project 52: Week 27

I snapped this picture right before I dived into this delicious Triple Berry Pie made my by MIL for Fourth of July. Delish!