Wednesday, July 27, 2011

When Good Fruit Goes Bad...

What do you do when you look through the fridge and see that unopened bag of oranges you bought a few weeks ago that you knew was the better deal because OF COURSE you would eat them all...

And then you look on the counter at that bunch of bananas that somehow hid themselves from you and OVERNIGHT turned from perfectly ripe to almost un-salvageable...


Yeah, yeah, you're cleaning the house and moving out and need to get rid of stuff and it would be so much easier to just chuck it in the trash... but your roommates who have been gone all summer are coming home, and everyone knows that the best way to salvage fruit on the verge of questionable is to BAKE!

So with an afternoon off work and some recipes that I had ingredients for already, I was determined to make some treats for my returning roomies!

I started working on an orange crumb cake and a banana chocolate chip bread! All of the oranges were zested and juiced and good to go! I juiced way too many oranges for this recipe but the extra was great to sip on while I worked! The night before I had put 3 of the overripe bananas in a ziplock bag with the intention of using them in smoothies, but then thawed them and found that the bag was the perfect thing to "mash" them up, no extra bowl needed! Because I'm trying to use up everything in the house before we move, I was excited that I didn't need to make a trip to the store! I was just a few eggs short, but the neighbors helped me out there. I was actually extra excited to use their eggs because the boys had bought local organic duck eggs that were so beautiful I almost couldn't bring myself to crack them! The process from there was pretty simple, just gathered all the ingredients and mixed together, no need to even get the stand mixer out! Then just spread the batter into buttered loaf pans and bake for about 40-45 min, or until a knife comes out clean!
Let cool completely on a wire rack, then the banana bread is ready to go! Yummmm chocolate chips and bananas are a perfect match! After the orange cake cooled I made a simple glaze with just powdered sugar and orange juice to pour over the top! With a freshly cleaned house, welcome home sign (made while at my very difficult desk job the day before...) and two fresh cakes, its time for the roomies to come home! Baking is the perfect way to use up aging ingredients without waste, and a great way to welcome home loved ones!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Raspberry Lemon Squares

So a lot of this summer has been dedicated to the gym and dieting since my dance training has been on hiatus since school ended in may and I needed to attempt to stay in some sort of shape. But long hours at a boring desk job led me to a new obsession. Pinterest. It's everything you want in a website, allowing you to scroll through hundreds of beautiful pictures of fashion, travel, home, DIY, and of course cooking and baking ideas! When I found this recipe, I knew my diet would have to be put on hold for awhile. A refreshing remix on one of my favorite desserts the Lemon Bar, this Raspberry Lemon Square looked right up my alley, and perfect for beating the summer heat! While I let some frozen raspberries thaw (which didn't take long in this Georgia heat...) I mixed up the quick simple crust with butter, sugar, and flour. I added in some lemon zest to the crust as well which the original recipe didn't include, but I love lemon overload! After the crust pulls together, just press it into a square baking pan lined with parchment. This may be the most important step. Parchment is key, I will not begin to tell you how difficult it will be to pull this out after baking if you skip this step. I lined the pan but somehow missed one little corner, and had so much trouble trying to un-stick the non lined corner! I would even recommend spraying with non-stick before lining just to be safe. Once you have lined with parchment and pressed the crust into the pan, bake for 20-25 min at 350 until lightly golden brown. Let it cool while you prepare the filling. Zest and juice lemons till your fingers bleed. I'm kidding! ... Sort of... Then mix with eggs, flour, sugar, and strained raspberry mush. Whisk together and pour onto the cooled crust and throw back into the oven. It's not really necessary for the crust to be completely cooled, but I noticed in another batch that it makes for a crisper crust if you do cool it completely so its a preference thing. The crust that I used while still warm was a little more like a chewy cookie in the middle and crisp on the very bottom, while the one I cooled completely (with the help of the freezer) was more like a shortbread throughout. Bake 30 - 35 min or until completely set (do the jiggle test) then let cool completely! This time you really do have to let it cool! I let mine sit overnight then had a bit of a struggle removing from the pan, as noted above... but it all worked out fine! I trimmed the edges off as they were a little more browned than the rest, but again preference, if you want a few pieces with more crisp crust, leave them on! Powdered sugar looks so pretty against the bright raspberry color! Then just cut into 16 even squares and they are ready to go! Perfect tangy sweet dessert for the summertime!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Strawberry Margarita Birthday!

Virginia's birthday is just around the corner and we decided to have a celebration this weekend before the roommates move out for the summer. Thinking of summertime and a birthday celebration, I decided to make some strawberry margarita cupcakes for dessert after our dinner at Cali n' Tito's!
The recipe I used, like most, started with creaming butter and sugar together. Then zesting and juicing a lime to add in. Along with this shining star... It began to smell of sweet margaritas in the kitchen! Then I added in the strawberry preserves and the mix began to separate some, but I kept on as the recipe said this could happen. With the addition of the eggs and flour, the batter pulled together perfectly!It was ready to be scooped into these pretty little liners!

And put into the oven!
After about 20 minutes the sweet strawberry lime fragrance filled the air and they were done! While they cooled I whisked margarita mix, tequila, and powdered sugar to make the glaze.
After they were done cooling, poke little holes in the tops of the cakes... and pour a small amount of the glaze over them! This gives them a little bit of a kick with the tequila replacing what was baked out!

Then I got started on the frosting which was a simple cream cheese frosting flavored with margarita mix and strawberry preserves!

Piping turned out to be a little difficult because the air downstairs at our house is still not fixed so I had to keep putting the frosting in the fridge between piping so it wouldn't melt right off!

But they turned out alright!Fresh strawberries are the perfect way to hide any piping imperfections!

Paper towels help soak up some juices that could run all over the frosting making even more of a mess. And look pretty too! A perfect celebratory summer cupcake! Happy birthday Virginia!