Saturday, May 22, 2010

Carrot Cake

I had some spare time on my hands this weekend I decided to bake so I used this as an opportunity to try a carrot cake recipe by Alton Brown of Food Network. He is that slightly nerdy looking guy with glasses who is always acting out skits and running around the local Bed, Bath & Beyond for cooking gadgets. To some, Alton may seem like he never really makes anything because there is always so much teaching that happens during his show and he doesn't end up setting out a spread at the end to chow down on like, say, Rachel Ray. But that's one of the reasons I enjoy his show so much. Anyone can pick out a recipe from a cookbook and have a decent outcome, even delicious, but the things that he teaches on his show allow you to pick the best recipe for what you want to make and, with some more extensive knowledge, even make up your own recipe.

Alton teaches the 'science' of food: what ingredients go together, how they need to be mixed and prepared and why all this stuff is necessary. It's almost like watching a culinary instructor in your living room for 30mins a night. I remember when I first started cooking and reading recipes, I would find myself scratching my head every once in a while and re-reading recipes thinking that I missed something in the directions. The thing was I didn't totally understand why all the steps in preparing a recipe went in the order they did but after a while of reading cookbooks and magazines, watching cooking shows and some experimenting everything started to make more sense.

The kitchen timer just dinged, folks, so I have to take my cakes out of the oven and let them cool. Good thing I made a little mini-cake to test tonight 'cuz it smells delish in here!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A rose is a rose is a rose

There is a bush in the front yard that I haven't paid much attention to until the other night when I was walking around with Cowboy and Carmelo, checking out how all the plants, trees and bushes were growing. It was covered with tons of small yellow buds and I realized it was some kind of a rose bush. I checked online and figured out that it is a type of rose shrub which is a hardier type of rose bush meaning it stands up well to colder, harsher climates. Make sense since up in the 'Cuse it gets pretty cold and snowy! Well, the first rose bloomed yesterday - puuurty!!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Stork and Goldilocks

No, no,'s not what you think! A few months ago, in the dead of winter, we received a membership packet from the Arbor Day Foundation. Heath made a donation and one of the thank you gifts were 10 trees that were to arrive 'just in time for Spring planting'. I didn't think they were ever going to come but they were in the mailbox just before the weekend!
We received an assortment of flowering trees: Crabapple, Redbud, Lilac, Dogwood, Goldenraintree and Hawthorn. These are some of the tree varieties we do have on the property already so perhaps, long ago, a previous owner of the house got some trees from the Arbor Day Foundation as well. We're trying to find a good spot for the trees!

So this past Saturday, we ran out to the store and left Carmelo outside in the yard while Cowboy stayed inside since he doesn't like being outside as much as Carmelo. The dogs stay downstairs in the Living Room and Kitchen when we are out with the doors closed off to the upstairs. You can imagine our (well my) surprise when Cowboy didn't greet us at the door when we got home. I called out to him and still no sign of him downstairs!!! I started to worry even though there was no way he could have escaped. I ran up the stairs calling out to him and as I was near our bedroom door I heard a faint whimper. Hmmm, seems our little Cowboy went exploring while we were out and got himself shut into our bedroom, since the door swings closed by itself. Once he was rescued from the bedroom we noticed his little paw indentations on the bed...and then on the bed in the other bedroom as well. Looks like little 'Goldilocks' went searching for the best bed to take an afternoon nap. Here is the mischievous napper. We adopted him earlier this year from

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Post-game pizza report

My kitchen is covered with flour, and so was I, but the pizza turned out really well! Homemade pizza that turned out edible always seemed to me like it would be difficult, but the recipe was relatively easy despite not having a food processor to make the dough. I mixed it with my hands and kneaded the dough a few extra times when I turned it out onto the counter.

I've never made any kind of dough before that had to rise, so my advice is that when the directions state to leave it someplace warm to rise it needs to be about 70 degrees. My kitchen was a little chilly before the oven was turned on and therefore the dough didn't double in size as it should have. Placing it near the stove once it was warmed up did the trick.

The sauce was super easy and quick to make. However, if you're not into any chunks in your sauce, you can use an immersion blender once the sauce is cooked (and slightly cooled) to smooth it out.

One of the reasons the parchment paper noted in the recipe comes in handy is so that the pizza can slide onto the hot pizza stone. Well...'someone' (me) ran out of parchment paper for the second pizza and while it came out better overall, it was a little wrinkly because we had some troubles with the transfer from counter top to pizza stone.

We ended up making two pizzas and here are the pictures. The two slices are from the first pie...

Homemade Pizza

So I'm really excited for tonight's meal! I found a homemade pizza recipe by Bobby Flay in the Parade magazine of the newspaper a few weeks ago.

We haven't had much luck with finding a good pizza place up here and were a little spoiled with all the pizza joints in NYC, namely Patsy's!!! (notice it has it's own website from the 'other' Patsy's pizzeria's).

Well, the dough is made and rising and the sauce is bubbling on the stove. I just need to run out for the Mozzarella cheese I forgot to buy because I was too busy yapping on the phone to my girlfriend from San Diego, Jenn, while at the store :-)

I'll give you all a review later-can't wait!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Indoor Gardening

Spring is off to a slow start upstate. We've had some really pretty weather lately of clear, blue skies but nothing consistently warm enough were I could start planting outside. In fact, in the last week there have been freeze warnings almost every night. It looks like we'll be in the clear soon and in another few weeks the seedlings will be ready to be planted outside.

The herb garden was started indoors on April 26th and already things are growing well. I've planted cilantro, thyme, basil, oregano, parsley and chives. In another few weeks they will go in the ground, hopefully grow, not get eaten by the deer and other animals and end up in a new recipe!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chili and Cupcakes

Yesterday was Mother's Day and we woke up to 32 degrees and snow outside!!! That being said, we've been experiencing a cold spell. What better way to take care of that than with some comfort food.

Tonight I made a turkey chili that was featured in Table Hopping magazine, a free CNY paper here in Syracuse that features area nightlife and restaurant. It's an easy, tasty chili recipe that doesn't need hours and hours on the stove. It was paired up with some cornbread but I cheated and made mine with a pre-packaged Martha White cornbread mix. You add milk and eggs and it's fairly close to homemade...or at least we thought so!

I've been in the mood for cupcakes lately so to finish off the meal I made some Duncan Hines Classic Yellow cupcakes for us which will be iced with the Classic White icing. I also used my mini antique heart-shaped cake tins. They were purchased on our Ohio road trip last summer at an antique shop in Lebanon, Ohio.

They are cooling in the kitchen right now and, I think, are ready to be iced! Yum!