Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pomegranate Champagne Jelly

It's jam and jelly season!!

Last weekend Mountain Man's mother's friends were kind enough to throw us not one, but two showers.

Mama Mountain Man wanted to do something nice for all the hosts and so I offered to make some jelly to go along with a few other goodies in a gift basket.

As I sat down at my kitchen table brainstorming ideas for new flavor creations, my mind kept wandering to the bottle of champagne left over from the Raspberry Cupcakes I made recently.

With an idea in mind, I hopped on the internet and found exactly what I was looking for.

After looking over a few different recipes, I took the artistic liberty to change some things up a bit and came up with this...

Pomegranate Champagne Jelly
Fills 12 6 oz jars

3 1/2 cups dry champagne (I used Andre- nothing but the best!)
1 cup pomegranate juice
juice from 1 lemon
3 1/4 cups sugar
1 package of low-sugar pectin

Make sure to run your new jars through the dishwasher and let them completely dry before using them for canning.
Fill a small pot with water, add lids, and heat on low as you make your jelly.
Mix 1/4 cup of sugar and pectin in a small bowl and set aside.
Combine pomegranate juice, champagne and lemon juice in a large pot and bring to a boil.
Add 3 cups of sugar and return to boil.
Immediately stir in sugar/pectin mix and return to a rolling boil for 1 minute.
To test for readiness dip a metal spoon in mixture and place in fridge- if the mixture congeals after a few seconds you're ready to go.
Pour hot mixture into jars, making sure not to go all the way up to the top.
Remove warmed lids from water, pat dry and place on top of filled jars. Screw second part of lid to secure.
Place filled and secured jars in a safe place and start listening to those little guys pop.
Let sit at least one night before using.

Happy Jammin'!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cherry & Blueberry Mini Pies

Pies just scream summer don't they?

When we had some friends over for dinner the other night I knew a pie was in order.. but not just any pie..

Mini pies!

I love individual desserts.

Not only does everyone get their own pie to munch on, you don't have to worry about a lot of left overs that you may or may not eat for breakfast or nibble on for the rest of the week despite the fact that you still need to be able to fit in your perfectly fitting wedding dress in 3 months... hypothetically speaking of course.

Even though Mountain Man attempts to sway me, cherry pie just happens to be my favorite.

But it just didn't feel right to do something so simple, so I threw in a few blueberries and finished 'em off with a little sugary and oh-so-delicious crumb topping.

Cherry & Blueberry Mini Pies
Makes 4 mini pies
Oven: 350 Bake time: 25 minutes

1 package pie crust (or use your favorite recipe)
1 can cherry pie filling
2 cups fresh blueberries

Crumb Topping
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 TBS butter, melted
1 TBS AP flour
dash of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Spray large muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Make crumb topping by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl until combined and set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie crust.
Cut 4 circles using an extra large round cookie cutter (Mine was slightly larger than the muffin cup).
Place cut outs in prepared muffin pan and press into bottoms, lightly pinching the sides.
Add about 1/4 cup of blueberries to bottom of each crust.

Add enough cherry filling to almost reach the top of the muffin cup (about 1/3 cup each).


Add another 1/4 cup of blueberries on top of cherry filling.

Sprinkle crumb topping evenly on each of the mini pies.
Transfer to oven to about 25-30 minutes or until the sides of your crust are lightly browned.
Allow to cool in the pan on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes before trying to remove.
Serve with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.

I wish I had a picture once they were all dolled up, but they were too good and the guests were waiting!

Until next time..

Happy Baking!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Whole Wheat Baked Banana Donuts

Between all the weekend traveling to visit friends, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and weddings, it's nice to just have a weekend home with the hunny.

Mountain Man prepared dinner Friday night as I finished up my latest cake creation for pick up the next morning and we spent the rest of the evening curled up on the couch watching episodes of CSI. 

We look forward to these kind of weekends, because we don't get them very often... the ones where we can just hang out and relax.

We were in bed by 1030.. does that make us lame? maybe....or just people who take their rest seriously.

You know what else we take seriously? Breakfast.

It really is the most important meal of the day, and rightfully so.

The weekends are the perfect time for delicious meals.. no deadlines or time constraints, just waking up when you want and getting in the kitchen- breakfast heaven.

This weeks star: the donut pan.

Whole Wheat Baked Banana Donuts
Bake time: 20 minutes Oven: 375
Makes about 12 donuts

2 cups white whole wheat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 TBS vanilla
3 large bananas, mashed
2 TBS butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 and spray donut pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk until blended.
Add buttermilk and vanilla extract, mixing until incorporated.
Add smashed bananas and mix until batter is somewhat smooth.
Finally add melted tablespoons of butter and mix until combined.
Fill donut molds about 2/3 the way full with batter.
*For easy transfer, fill a large ziplock bag or frosting bag with batter. Cut tip of bag and use bag to fill donut mold. 
Bake for about 20 minutes or until donuts are lightly browned.


Maple Glaze
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a shallow bowl. 
When donuts are cooled, dip into glaze for complete coat. 

Happy Baking!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Raspberry & Champagne Cupcakes

Remember when Mountain Man and I got stuck in Atlanta?

wasting our extra day at the aquarium

Well, on top of the fabulous wedding we attended, one of our friends who also made the trip to hotlanta happened to have a birthday that fell on the same weekend.

Now you all know how I feel about birthdays and I absolutely can't let one of my friends go without something sweet, especially when she's having to spend her birthday away from home!  

So I whipped up a batch of cupcakes, found a nifty little disposable cupcake carrier perfect for 6 little sweets and brought them as my carry on.

You'd be amazed at the amount of people who will make comments as you walk through the airport carrying a box of cupcakes, but much to their dismay the cupcakes made it all the way to Georgia and made their special delivery to the birthday girl.

Raspberry Cake 
Oven: 350 Bake time: 20 minutes
Makes 3 8-inch cakes or 24 cupcakes

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 package raspberry jello
4 eggs, separated
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup flour, sifted
1 cup milk 
1/2 cup pureed raspberries  

Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin pan with liners and set aside.
In a large bowl beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add jello and mix until incorporated (this lends for pretty in pink cake)
Add egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition.
In a small bowl whisk flour, baking powder and salt.
Alternate flour and milk, incorporating after each addition- beginning and ending with flour.
Using a spatula mix in pureed strawberries.
In separate bowl, whip egg whites until slightly stiff peaks form.
Fold egg whites slowly into batter.
Using an ice cream scoop, fill each liner with one scoop. 
Transfer to oven and bake for about 20 minutes- check with toothpick and adjust time if necessary.
Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool in pan for for about 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely.

Once cupcakes are completely cooled, frost with the Champagne Buttercream listed below.

Champagne Buttercream
1 cup shortening (I use high-ratio shortening)
1 cup butter, softened
8 cups powdered sugar
1/4-1/2 cup cheap champagne* I used Andre-Blush
1/2 tsp vanilla

Place shortening and butter in a large bowl and beat until combined and smooth.
Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time.
About 4 cups in, add 1/4 cup of champagne and vanilla.
Continue to beat and add remaining powdered sugar and more champagne as necessary. 
Beat/whip on high until frosting is smooth and fluffy.

*The frosting on these cupcakes is amazing- the tartness of the champagne blends well with the normally sweet buttercream.  Even though everyone liked the cupcakes I thought they were a little sweet..I always get such rave reviews on my strawberry cake I thought swapping in raspberries would work too, but there was something just a little off. I think I might go for a more natural raspberry flavor next time.

Happy Baking!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Slattery Strawberry Bread

I know what you're thinking...I only posted once last week, but trust me, I had a very good reason for my absence...

I went home last week for 5 days of wedding/bridal/bachelorette festivities complete with menu tasting, invitation finalization, decoration planning and a wonderful "showerette"(a bridal shower followed by a bachelorette party coined by Fefe) that my amazing bridesmaids put together.

I'm lucky enough to still be ridiculously close with both my high school girlfriends and sorority sisters so orchestrating 14 girls was no easy task.

I not only received some fantastic gifts (plenty to be used to bring you all sweets!), but had a blast with all my girlfriends later that night too. I still can't believe I'm getting married in less than 100 days!

In honor of my beautiful best friend and MOH I wanted to showcase her mother's famous Strawberry Bread- this stuff is absolutely delicious and flies off the plate as soon as its served.

Strawberry Bread
2 10oz packages of frozen (or fresh) strawberries, defrosted 
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups AP flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 and grease loaf pan.
In a small bowl, combine strawberries, eggs and oil until blended.
In another bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. 
Add strawberries mixture to flour mixture and stir until blended.
Transfer batter to loaf pan and bake for about an hour or until toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before removing and cooling completely.

Happy Baking!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday America!

Dear America,

In celebration of your birthday I baked you a cake, just like I do all my favorite people!

Last year we made a pie in your honor...

...but this year I wanted to make sure you had something extra special so I personally decorated a cake for you.

I know you won't be here to blow out the candles, but that's okay because we probably wouldn't be allowed to light them anyways. Texas actually put a ban on all things related to your fireworks (even sparklers are out of the question) but don't worry, we're still going to celebrate... just fireless.

You're pretty special you know that? It's not every birthday that we get a whole day off from work to celebrate, so thanks :)


I hope everyone's day is filled with grilling, cold drinks and good friends!

Happy 4th of July!!