Monday, January 31, 2011

Sweet Endings - Called Due To Illness

Hello out there in Radioland!

Okay, that was even before my time. Sorry.

This isn't what you expected to see, I'm sure. I can explain.

It started Friday afternoon .. that ache, and the feeling of your skin being on fire. By 2:30 p.m. I sounded like a family of frogs as moved into my throat (the kids are gone now, so it's just those pesky empty-nesters). I called my boss and told him I was leaving for the day.

Friday evening, before I completely went downhill, I got a couple things done at the house.

Saturday, I was worthless. I mustered enough energy to let the dogs out in the morning (even sick, I'm an early riser) and then collapsed on the couch. That's where I stayed, sleeping most of the day, until that evening, when I dragged my funky body back to bed.

Sunday morning dawned and I had a small burst if energy, which I should have ignored - but didn't. So, I folded some laundry among other things. By Sunday afternoon/evening, I was paying for my Super Womandom. I dragged myself into the shower and promptly plopped into my favorite chair and set about working on the scarf I'm knitting for my daughter.

Long story short, no Happy Endings post. I have one in reserve which I will post in a day or so.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sweet Endings - Happy Birthday!

Today is my baby's birthday. So, today I made a cake.

She was 19 as of 5:42 a.m. She asked me this morning how I remember the exact time they (my girls) were born. It's easy, life changing events leave impressions on you, like the death of John Lennon, the day the Discovery Challanger exploded, and 9-11. Besides, I was in labor for over 24 hours; I was counting the minutes.

I made a butter cake because she wanted it.

I also made butterscotch pudding and vanilla buttercream icing. But first, I had a fight with my mixer.

It threw a mesauring cup at me!

It won.

I used two boxes of cake mix and baked them in Wilton 8 inch round, three inch deep pans. After letting them cool overnight, I split each into two layers. Between each those layers I spread a thin coating of the icing and piped a rim around the edge to hold in the filling. Then I added the butterscotch pudding. The entire cake got a crumb coat to hold all the tiny bits and pieces in place. The hard part was letting the cake sit for about 30 minutes before covering the whole sha-bang with frosting and smooshing grated white chocolate on the sides and sprinkling it on the top. I finished the cake by adding a border at the top and bottom.

Today, she's 19. She loves music, going to the movies, reading, dogs, her friends, her phone, and soccer. She very independent; I love that about her. But there are still days when she needs her mom; I love that about her too. She's in college now. She's going to be a teacher.

I think she's amazing.

Except for the fact that she's convinced I was at Woodstock.

Happy Birthday Cate, I love you to the sun and back!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sweet Endings - Sweet Ravioli

As a rule, I don't deep fry things. Ask anyone that knows me. I don't like the mess, or the smell of hot oil, and the fumes make my eyes burn. So I have no idea what inspired me to roll out these little beauties. But roll them out, I did.

They are surprisingly light and flaky, and very simply made. They aren't overly sweet and great with an evening cup of coffee.

You'll need:

Vegetable oil, for frying
1 package of ready to use pie crust
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbs powdered sugar
Flour for dusting

If you are adventurous, or more confident than I, feel free to make your own pie crust.

In a small bowl, add the ricotta cheese, the chocolate chips, the nuts, 1 tbs of powdered sugar, .... and the vanilla. You don't see the vanilla in the photo do you? It's because I forget it when I took the photo.

Don't be like me, add the vanilla.

I added it later. It's in there.

I promise.

Set the bowl aside. Oh, and try not to eat the filling.

Toss some flour on the counter.

Open your pie crusts, set one aside and roll out one on the flour.

Add the filling to the pie crust, by the teaspoon, leaving about an inch and a half between dollops. Dip your finger in a cup of water and wet the area between and around the filling. Try not to use too much water. You want the dough wet, but not slippery.

Unroll the second pie crust on top the first and using your fingers work the dough down and around the filling. Push to fuse the two crusts together.

Using a round cutter (I had a 2 inch cutter), or a glass, cut out the raviolis. Once you have them all cut out, use a fork the crimp and seal the edges.

In a heavy pot, heat a couple of inches of oil to 350 degrees. Carefully add a few raviolis at a time. You don't want to crowd them, or add so many that the oil temp drops. This will cause your raviolis to greasy.

Do not walk away from the ravioli in the pot. This happens fast. Faster than fast. Cook the raviolis until a deep golden brown, about a minute and half on each side.

Drain them on a paper towel lined plate. Allow them to cool a bit before using the remaining 2 tbs of powdered sugar to dust.

Do what I did, wash the dishes. Or clean up the oil splattered on your microwave.

Enjoy. She did. Although she wasn't happy with me snapping the picture. She said she didn't have any makeup on. Look at that face; she doesn't need any makeup.

Or maybe it's just me.

I made 14, with filling left over. I guess it all depends on how big your pie crusts are.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sweet Endings - Fig and Vanilla Cupcakes

Sweet Endings .. there's no better way to end a meal than with a little something extra, something sweet.  I don't make dessert every night, but Sunday dinner is always calls for a sweet ending.

Tonight it was these darling little beauties.  Fig and Vanilla Cupcakes.

I got this recipe from my wonderful little Christmas present from Catherine, my youngest.

I was a little worried about how they were going to turn out because the batter was incredibly thick. But using self rising flour made them light and delicate. 

They weren't overly sweet or overly figgy.  Yes, figgy is actually a word.  You'll find it in the Anna's Dictionary of Descriptive Words for Food or Tastes.  You'll find it on Amazon.  Not!

Before we get the recipe allow me to share.  I will recite the recipe exactly as the book states, however, I cut it in half because it makes 18 cupcakes.  It also calls for superfine sugar.  Don't go out and buy any (I couldn't find it); make your own by adding half again as much as the recipe calls for, put it in the blender and give it 5 or 6 good lengthy pulses. I made the mistake of trying to "finely chop" my figs in the blender, at first.  Don't make the same mistake; use a knife.

I hope you love these as much as I did.

Ingredients Cupcakes
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened
1 cup superfine sugar
2 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup (5oz) finely chopped, dried figs

Ingredients Frosting
1 cup of cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
3 tbsp chopped fig

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees,  Place 18 baking cups in muffin pans.  Combine all the cupcake ingredients in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and pale, about 2 or 3 minutes.

Spoon the batter into the cups, Bake for 20 minutes.  Remove pans from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.  Then remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and the chopped figs with an electric mixer until soft and creamy.  Smear the cupcakes with the frosting.  

Store unfrosted in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Makes 18 cupcakes. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I Have An Idea!

Or, if you will, if it's Sunday, it most be time for something sweet, scrumptious, decadent, and any other adjective you can use to describe something delectable.
My youngest, Catherine, gave me the little ditty to the below for Christmas.  Probably because she's well aware of her Momma's growing obsession of all things cupcakes.  It's okay, she benefits from it. 

Seriously, I obsess.

I need help.


Someone call the Cupcake Cops, er, um, Police.


Anyway, I'm starting a regular weekly posting called  Sweet Endings (as in the end of the week .. the end of a meal .. or just because .. your choice)!

I hope you'll join me.


Monday, January 3, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again

Happy New Year, did you make your New Year Resolutions?  Don't you just hate that question?  Why must I make resolutions because it's another year? 

But I do .. like millions of other people.  My resolutions this year is to not make ridiculous resolutions that I won't ever keep, therefore, making me feel like a failure. 

I DO NOT resolve to be a nicer person - Ha!  I'd have blown that one this morning reading my email at work.  After yet another nasty, snippy, childish, diva-esque demand from this one customer (who I shall forever think of as the bitch from hell).  I immediately wanted to respond with, "I'm sorry, who died and made me your doormat?".  Never fear; I didn't.

I DO NOT resolve to lose 100 pounds.  I could stand to, but that's just a ridiculous statement.

I DO NOT resolve to cut up all my credit cards.  I could because I don't use credit cards anyway.  However, if I did cut them up, then my refrigerator would get warm at the same time as my oven wouldn't heat up, and my furnace would blow up.  Then where would I be?

Those are examples of resolutions that are screaming to fail.  Okay, maybe not the last one; for some, that's a great idea.

Here are mine ....

I resolve to blog more.  I enjoy blogging, so why am I not doing it more?

I resolve to allow at least one person to merge in traffic in front of me, without grumbling.  I do allow people to merge; it's the grumbling part I need to work on.

I resolve to drink more water. Period.  I try to give blood on a regular basis and my last visit left me with a bad reminder, a big ol' bruise.  My fault, I wasn't properly hydrated.

Lastly, I resolve to read at least one piece of classic literature a year.  This is the big one.  Not the reading part; I read a lot.  It's the classics, you know Oscar Wilde, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hawthorne, Tolstoy, Hemingway, etc.  I'm starting with Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens.  Fitting, don't you think?  Who knows, maybe I'll blog about it.

So, there you have it.  Those are my "I'm not going to make you feel like a failure" New Years Resolutions.

Happy New Year!