Monday, September 27, 2010

Weight Watchers Pumpkin Cookies

I would first like to thank my readers for their votes on the Project Food Blog Challenge, however, I did not advance to the next round.  There were a lot of entries, and the competition was extremely stiff! I am new to blogging, and tend to concentrate more on showcasing my creations, more than the blogging, so essentially, its not a huge shock that I did not advance.  There are far better bloggers out there, and I wish all the luck to my fellow Foodbuzz publishers! 

Now on to the Pumpkin Cookies.  I was craving them something awful!!! Its fall and I love pumpkin... and when I say love, I mean full on, head over heels, over the moon, LOVE everything pumpkin.  I was thinking I might even do an entire month of ONLY pumpkin inspired desserts... but... we'll see! hahah.  Being that I am strict with my caloric intake, I had to find a pumpkin cookie that I could eat without the guilt!

These little "pillows" were made with half wheat, half white flour, brown sugar, lite maple syrup, pumpkin, an egg, and a bunch of spices. They were flattened out so that they were thin, but BOY were they thick! haha.  They certainly tasted healthy, but not terrible!

Even the batter was dense, so I knew they were going to be different.  "Pillows" because they didnt have the consistency of a cookie, and they didnt really have the consistency of cake either.. it was in between, and very pillow like.

They basically kept the same shape that they were laid out in.  Which was interesting. But they were definitely full of pumpkin happiness!! Spicy goodness and Autumn joy!!

They were missing something though, a little extra sweetness. They were in fact "healthy" so obviously, they needed a little more flavor (not always the case, but I will admit, these needed some help).  I naturally had some vanilla buttercream in the fridge.  I couldn't call myself a baker if there weren't a little bit on hand! :-)

It made ALL the difference.  I only ate one with the buttercream, since technically I should not indulge THAT much!  But they certainly hit the spot!  I wrapped the rest up for the co-workers and left a few un-iced for myself!  They went over fairly well, but I think it was my "famous" buttercream that had them drooling! ;-)

I must say... one thing is for sure, they curbed my pumpkin craving... for now!!!!!!!!

More Weight Watchers treats to come, so be prepared! ;-)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beer Wheat Bread

Something different happened this weekend... I ventured to a place I rarely go... bread baking!!! I love to bake... its my thing, if you will... but baking bread is pretty much at the bottom of the list when it comes to things to make.  BUT... it was Football Sunday, the air was starting to feel crisp, and we had some Chili that needed a friend!!!  I didn't make the chili this time, but my friend Nicole knocked it out of the park... beef AND spicy sausage... Yummy!!!

So... I have to first admit that I did not bake this bread from scratch... but since bread is not my cup of tea, you have to give me a break!!!  It was the Tastefully Simple Beer Bread mix... and they now make it in Wheat, so I couldn't resist.  And boy was it easy!!! I was going to be adventurous and throw in some Guinness, but since I've never made it before, I didn't know how it would work, so I just used Bud Light and mixed!!

Thick batter!!
Threw it all in a greased loaf pan... tossed into the hot oven and baked for about 50 minutes.  It made the house smell sooo yummy... I love the smell of warm bread so much, you would think I would make it more often... ;-)  It also added that nice smell of ale throughout the house that made me feel like I was in the dining room of the bed and breakfast I stayed at years ago in Ireland.  MMM... Cant go wrong with that smell.

Being weight conscious, I didn't add the 3 tablespoons of butter to the top... I don't think it needed it either... I did spray a little bit of I Can't Believe Its Not Butter on top, and it added a nice little hint of buttery goodness.

It held onto a nice golden brown, and I was very pleased with the way it turned out... I will definitely buy it again... and even make it again!! :-)

It got devoured by the pig skin watchers and went great with the chili!  If there was any left, I am sure it would have gone great with my morning cup of Pumpkin Spice Coffee... Oh I do love the fall!!!!

Enjoy! :-)

Monday, September 20, 2010

60th Wedding Anniversary - Simple Elegance

I was a little confused with my current contest, if I could blog aside from the challenges, but apparently I can, so here we go...

Last weekend we celebrated my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary.  A wedding milestone that not many people reach.  I had originally started thinking extravagant when trying to come up with a cake design, but then a simple buttercream cake was requested, as my grandparents didn't want too much of a fuss.  As soon as I heard the word simple, I thought "simple elegance"... A phrase I hear often on food shows, home decorating shows, and even wedding dress shows (yes, I watch them all)...

So the first thing that came to my mind in make a cake simply elegant, was white... White cake with white icing, and white flowers!! CALLA LILIES!!! I've been dying to make gum paste Calla Lilies, so here was the perfect chance.  I also read that the 60th anniversary is known as the Diamond Anniversary.  PERFECT!! I found a website that sells sugar diamonds, Diamond Party Confetti, and thought of a way to incorporate them as well.

(photo courtesy of Robert Yaskovic Photography)

(photo courtesy of Robert Yaskovic Photography)
The wonderful sweet smells of sugar and cake came flooding out of the box when my grandmother opened, her face filling with happiness.  No one could wait to tear into it.

(Close-up on the Calla Lilies)

(close-up on the diamonds)
The happy couple relived their wedding day...

and the cake was sliced into...

All in all, it was an excellent day... a beautiful party, filled with many memorable moments!  I'll never forget the amazing opportunity to be involved in such a monumental day for my wonderful grandparents, as being their granddaughter, but as also being the person to make their cake, "that tasted better than the one on the day!"

They are an inspiration for longevity, commitment, fidelity, and happiness!  Congratulations Blankie and Pa!

Oh... and please... Don't forget to vote for me on the Project Food Blog Challenge.  My link is at the top of the page.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Short and Sweet - Not just me, but my blog too!

I have a philosophy when it comes to my baking. Anyone can follow a recipe, but there is a secret ingredient that a true baker adds without even thinking about it; Happiness. You can’t fake it, you can’t create it, and you can’t buy it. It’s just the feeling you can’t help but possess when you have a whisk in your hand, a bowl of batter in your arms, and an apron on that’s caked in flour. It’s the warmth that you feel inside; not from the oven, but from the joy of making something that you know will make someone else happy! As author Ana Pascal said, “I figured if I was going to make the world a better place, I’d do it with cookies” (not to mention, cakes, cupcakes, pies, or anything else that I can whip up).

Snickers Cheesecake

I’ve been baking since I was a little girl. First, just helping my mom mix the batter until I was old enough to use the oven. The way the smells and the heat filled the house, made me feel happy and comfortable. However, it wasn’t till I was much older before I realized that I could turn those feelings into desserts, that when tasted, could infuse those same feelings into the individual consuming it. Not to mention the pure delight that it gives me while making them!

When I taught myself how to decorate a cake, I unleashed an artistic side I didn’t know I had. In the newly popular art of cake decorating, the mantra tends to be, “Go big or go home”, making and creating the most elaborate cakes and displays to make yourself stand out amongst the crowd. For me however, I want my cakes to stand out by the way they look, but I want myself as the baker to stand out by the way they taste!

Tim Burton themed black and white topsy turvy
 As a contestant in Project Food Blog, I want to showcase my baking based on what it means to me. Those who follow my blog know that my posts are short, and DEFINITELY sweet!! :-) I like to highlight the details of my work and share the personal stories behind each confection that I create. I keep it simple and let the photos do most of the talking. When I make a cake, or cupcakes or pies, whatever it may be, I grab the recipient with the way it looks, but I hold onto them by the way it tastes. That’s how I write my blog too. It looks yummy so you want to read about it, but you keep reading it because you know you won’t be disappointed!

Looking forward to sharing more with you!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Pyrex Balloon Whisk

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received 3 new Pyrex items to give a try.  The first one that I want to showcase here is the Pyrex Balloon Whisk!

I just happened to be craving cupcakes (shocker, I know), so I thought, what better opportunity to show off the whisk then through making some yummy cupcakes.  Since I know better than to just randomly indulge myself in cupcakes, I made the low cal/low fat kind...As you have read on here before... the diet soda/seltzer cupcakes!! :-) But enough about the cupcakes, this post is to tell you about the whisk!! Since the low guilt cupcakes only have 2 ingredients, the whisk was perfect in a pinch!

I might even say that the whisk worked faster than my mixer.  I cant believe those words just came from my fingers, but it really did mix up VERY quickly!!!  The large handle makes for a nice grip.

They say the whisk is used best for whipping cream and eggs... which, given the consistency my batter came out, I could see that it would work great on eggs and make whipping cream super quick and easy!

The best thing about the Pyrex Balloon Whisk, is that it has these silicone edges that make scrapping the bowl a breeze.  No metal edges to scratch your bowls, It has a thick edge that really picks up the batter, which is awesome.
See how clean the side of that bowl looks?  It was great! The silicone apparently also makes the life of the whisk a longer as well, so you cant beat that!

All in all, i've gotta say... being a part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, and having the opportunity to try out the Pyrex Balloon Whisk is pretty excellent.  Anyone who needs a good whisk, I highly recommend it! :-)

Oh and, take a look at those yummy cupcakes!! :-)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Nana's 80th Birthday Cake

My dear friend and loyal client Cat asked me to make a cake for her Nana's 80th birthday.  I was honored!  It was for a small family party, so nothing too crazy, and not too big.  I was given artistic license to do whatever design I felt at the time.  This makes me tense sometimes, but I knew where to go with this one!

The cake was chocolate and icing was vanilla buttercream (one of Cat's favorite combo's).  It was covered in white fondant.  Accented with light pink fondant Apple Blossoms and Roses and the writing and side swirling was done with lilac buttercream.

A Close-up of the flowers. 

Front and side views...

I can't wait to hear how Nana liked her cake.  I love making those flowers... and will be highlighting some new ones real soon, so as always, stay tuned!