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A Berry Special 2 Recipe Post (Vanilla Berries and Raspberry Cake Filling)

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Berry Special Cake via NerdyBaker.wordpress.com

I promised you the recipe for Vanilla Berries from my Hunger Games Party post so I made them again when we went camping.  The only problem is that I still didn’t get decent enough pictures of them to merit it’s own post.  The same thing goes for the raspberry filling that I made for my cousin’s (well, two cousins and my brother in law’s) birthday party.  I mean I couldn’t go.  It was my oldest’s 8th dance recital and at her studio she gets a big award for that one.  We didn’t want to miss it.  My aunt had already commissioned me though, to make my cousin’s cake and since she went a little different with the favors (a fruit filling!) I didn’t care how busy I was with the girls’ recital, I was GOING to make this cake.  (Yes, I realize that it is still a “plain” chocolate cake with buttercream but its like pulling teeth to get my family to go outside of the box with the flavors they use in their cakes so I was way gung ho.)

Berry Special Vanilla Berries

I made sure that the one night that I didn’t have to be at the recital with my girls, I was going to be making this cake.  I baked the cake that day, did hair, dropped them off, came home to make the filling and frosting, put the cake together, and with the crumb coat on made it back to pick up my girls in plenty of time.  (It’s a long recital.)  The next day was more of the same but this time the cake had to be finished, dropped off, and all kids dressed and ready to go by early afternoon and I still didn’t know how I was going to decorate it.  Did I mention that it was super hot that week?  Yeah, so after each step in the decorating process I had to put the cake back in the fridge to chill.  It didn’t help matters that I was SUPER paranoid that the filling was going to spill out at any moment.  It’s not because I didn’t have any faith in my recipe or my cake its just that sort of thing tends to happen when you absolutely have NO TIME for that sort of thing to happen.  Thankfully, even with the horrid heat in the car, with the air conditioning that wouldn’t cool completely because we were stuck in traffic but still stayed squarely on the cake during the drive (my poor babies) my cake stayed intact and it was delivered to my sister’s to be delivered to the party, on time.

The verdict was a big thumbs up.  And although no one took pictures of a slice (I have a blog to run here people,  you could help me out),  I was assured the filling stayed put as it should and didn’t spill out. It’s just one of those deep seated fears whenever I am trying a new filling.

Berry Special Raspberry Filling via NerdyBaker.wordpress.com

My GeekyLinks for this week are PLENTY so we’ll start now. Frakker Lacquer is now processing orders so I went and bought three bottles yesterday. I’m gonna have to buy more because how can I live my life without Little Green Man and Protocol Droid?  For any panels you may have wanted to see at Comic Con a really great resource is GeekNation.  However, its also worth checking out the Nerd Machine for some panels because I preferred the Orphan Black panel (skip ahead 10 minutes) from Nerd HQ rather than the official Comic Con one. (Yeah, I said it.) I know Clint and Darrell from Golden Spiral Media (my beloved Fringe podcast guys) were there and have a ton of coverage debuting this week and I am looking forward to it.  So far my favorite trailers coming out of the con are Catching Fire, Gravity, and Veronica Mars.  Have fun checking some of this stuff out!

Berry Special Cake with Raspberry Filling via NerdyBaker.wordpress.com

Vanilla Berries

Ingredients

2 16oz containers of strawberries, washed and halved

1 6oz container of blueberries, washed

1 6oz container of raspberries, washed

1 6oz container of blackberries, washed

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1/2 vanilla bean (you can use vanilla extract but I don’t recommend it)

Method

In a small saucepan, mix the water and sugar together and stir over medium heat until dissolved. Stir in the vanilla bean paste and let the mixture cool to room temperature.
To use the 1/2 vanilla bean, slice it in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Put the seeds and pod into the sugar and water. Once your sugar is dissolved and the mixture is cooled, remove the pod.
To use vanilla extract, make your simple syrup with the sugar and water and wait till the mixture is at room temperature before stirring in the extract. (Using this method you can sometimes smell the alcohol in the vanilla, not appetizing I know but it’ll do in a pinch.)

Mix all of the berries in a large bowl and when your vanilla syrup is cool to room temperature, pour all over your berries.  I tend to not use all of the syrup (I use about 90%) but I always make this amount “just in case”.  Stir carefully, cover and chill until ready to serve.  When berries are on sale and in season, it makes a great dish to bring to a party.

Raspberry Cake Filling

Ingredients

1 6oz container of raspberries, washed

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons water

Method

Make your filling by combining raspberries, sugar, water, cinnamon and cornstarch in a small saucepan.  Cook on low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickend and the berries are a bit soft.  They are all going to break apart.  Set aside to cool.  If you would like more raspberry pieces, just do what I did and quarter a few and fold them into the mixture after it is completely cool.

I kept the seeds in my filling but I imagine if you did not want them you could press the mixture through a fine metal sieve.

Use to fill any cake or cupcake (or doughnut?) with raspberry goodness.

Hunger Games Party

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I saw an invitation online and I just made my own version of it using some clip art and a Hunger Games font.

It begins with an invitation…
I made my own version of an invitation I saw online using some clip art and a Hunger Games font.

There are birthday parties and there are birthday parties.  I tend to go over board with each but if I have a theme and I want to incorporate food into that theme well, watch out, momma is going to be out of commission for awhile because she is going to be crafting and baking up a storm for a few weeks.  And so it was with my oldest and her Hunger Games themed 10th birthday (and promotion, since her birthday fell so close to the end of her school year and now she’ll be off to middle school).  Also, this party was going to be big because we would be including friends as well as family.

As per usual, it all begins with a Pinterest board.  This allows me to have a place to compile overall party ideas, decoration ideas, game ideas, food ideas.  Then I have to decide between what I want to pull off as opposed to what I can pull off.  Lists help me accomplish all of this, crossing off and adding and crossing off and adding some more till I get a halfway concise idea of what is going to happen for the party.

The most effective yet simplest craft EVER!

The most effective yet simplest craft EVER!

So it began that I decided to make the food for the party so as to have it more in the spirit of the book.  I figured that I would find some crock pot friendly recipes suited to my needs.  I also knew that I would be making TONS of bread so I needed recipes that I could freeze well either before or after baking.  I found two great ones!  One I adapted a few different ways to make “different” loaves (white whole wheat, white, mixed flours and one with wheat bran sprinkled on top).  I’ll post it soon.  I make it often but I wanted to get it down and messing with all these variations helped me with that.  The other I follow just as directed because it is spectacular and may be a new candidate for Justin’s Sandwich Rolls!  I also made these because it came with three variations on the same dough and the dough kept for four days in the refrigerator.  I wanted lots of different ones because bread (including various breads from all the districts) features prominently in the book.  The make ahead dough and breads really made the whole thing I was going for possible.  I served the sliced french bread with goat cheese mixed with basil, goat cheese with sliced apples, and butter for my appetizers.  I also put out the different refrigerator rolls.

HungerGamesPartyFor dinner, we had shredded beef with rolls and Beef Stew over brown rice or homemade mashed potatoes.  We had “Berry Mush” (vanilla berries, recipe soon!) and a green salad as well.  Most of the ideas for the food I got from Fictional Food.  Some I wanted to make like the goat cheese and apple tarts but I didn’t have time and others I wanted to put out like the hot chocolate and bread for dipping (seriously some Mexican hot chocolate and pan dulce is PERFECT for that, right?) but it was a very hot day.  I did make some Mellark’s Bakery Cookies but added some spice to them because in my mind the overall ingredients in District 12 would be subpar but a little bit of spice would hide it.  I would have included the recipe in this post but of course I forgot to take pictures of them.  I changed the whole wheat flour to 2 cups and the all purpose to 1 1/2 cups.  Then I added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (mostly just because I couldn’t find my nutmeg, otherwise I’d have blended a mix of my own).  I really liked them.  They came out like a lightly spiced version of a spice cookie.

Now, the cake.  My daughter was VERY specific about the cake she wanted.  I never really knew she was a fan of my whipped cream frosted cakes but recently we had one with banana in the filling as opposed to strawberries.  I guess she liked it because, even knowing her theme and realizing that her poor momma would have to try and “tie it in” to everything she picked a whipped cream cake with strawberries and bananas in the filling.  So what I came up with was to try and use banana and strawberry garnish to evoke fire or flames in some sort of way to tie it all together.  I even added a few buttercream “flames” that I used on the cupcakes I made.  Those were inspired by Erica’s Sweet Tooth Hunger Games cupcakes.

HungerGamesCakeOnto the games, well we didn’t exactly have a reaping.  It was more of a raffle with their name entered once for being there and once for every game played.  I hung a small hula hoop that they tried to throw foam “spears” into and later slingshot some water smoosh balls into.  We also did a water balloon toss since it was so hot.  The games I sort of winged it on because I was mainly focused on the food.  I just bought a bunch of stuff I thought I’d be able to use and it worked out pretty well.  The winner of the “reaping” won two prizes that were left over and one of two bow and arrow sets.  The next winner was my daughter who won the other set.  I had also bought six silly string cans and gave three to the runners up of the other games and then picked three more names for the other silly string cans.  The kids liked those parts the best I think, when we let them loose with the silly string and the rest of the water balloons.

HungerGamesPinata

My uncle picks up our pinatas for parties and I might have mentioned that if he found a mockingjay pinata that he’d be “the best uncle ever” so he and my aunt customized this one for us.
Pic courtesy of my dad.

One site suggested a Capitol Makeup table.  I went one step further and set up Capitol Fashions.  I used every useable (and takeable) piece of dressup paraphenalia that we had and also bought a few more masks, funky glassses, some mustaches, hats and new dollar store makeup and let the kids go to town.  Another site had a Sponsor Gift table idea that I liked as a favor table and I just put out simple cheap stuff that might be usable in the games like band-aids, tissue, braid-holders, trail mix, compass rings, and some homemade bookmarks along with the Mellark bakery cookies.  Both tables were near each other and that was helpful since I wanted our guests to take home gifts from both.

HungerGamesTables

Our Sponsor Gift table and Capitol Fashions table. Pics courtesy of my dad.

As for GeekyLinks, I am all linked out.  I’ve spent two weeks in a Hunger Games birthday party haze and I need a rest.  However, if you have any questions about anything I made for the party that I didn’t directly link to, please ask.  Most of it should be on the Pinterest board though.

 

 

Late to the New Year’s Party (Top 5 Recipes of 2012)

In between the Christmas aftermath and my son’s birthday four days later and New Year’s Eve two days after that, you can imagine the last week being VERY busy.  We were going to do a smallish Chuck E Cheese thing for my son with cake at the house after and then that turned into not doing anything and then that evolved to a big party at our home.  Whatever.  I have three kids worth of Christmas presents to put away and a house to finish organizing today.  Luckily I have stayed away from my computer and I do have most of the stuff done but today is the last day and I am organizing the garage and making the comprehensive grocery store list for food prep and cupcake making tomorrow.

While I may not have been writing anything I have certainly been reading a few blogs here and there.  I am late with my Sundays with Joy for last week.  I have baked Mommom’s Chocolate Bourbon Spiked Banana Bread and it is FANTASTIC!  I can’t get my son to stop eating it.  I just haven’t had the time to take pictures or the time I have is after the son has gone down.  This Sunday is our last week off for our holiday schedule and I shouldn’t have much of a problem getting it to you by then.  I also missed posting on New Year’s when everyone posts their tops for the year.  That was something I really wanted to do.

I do have a disclaimer though.  These are the top posts FROM 2012.  My top post for the year was actually from 2011, back when my pictures were yucky.  Let’s keep it interesting and go backwards shall we…?

5. Cream Cheese Wontons

Cream Cheese Wontons-NerdyBaker

Now I am not a fan of remaking things that I have made for my previous Oscar “parties” but this one was SUCH a hit with my friends, I may not have a choice.  Also, if you are a fan of Pick Up Stix Cream Cheese Wontons I have cracked the code people!  I have cracked the code!!!

4. Nutella Banana Cream Pie

Nutella Banana Cream Pie-NerdyBaker

Do I really have to go into it?

3. Apple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Wontons

Apple Cream Cheese Wontons-NerdyBaker

This was my attempt at making a sweet version of the Cream Cheese Wontons, and it worked so well it beat out the savory one in views.  Don’t forget the caramel dipping sauce!  Is it bad that next time I make them, I want to fry them?

2. Chocolate Cake with Strawberries and Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting

Chocolate Cake Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting-NerdyBaker.wordpress.com

This came with just wanting to make a cake one day.  The family called for a short notice get together so I changed the whipped cream to chocolate whipped cream and I couldn’t have been happier.  I would LOVE to make this again just to get prettier pictures of it…and then EAT ALL THE CAKE!

1. Tea, Earl Grey, Cupcakes with Lemon Scented Whipped Cream

Earl Grey Cupcakes-NerdyBaker.wordpress.com

Proving that the Wheatons win at everything, my #1 post for this year is something I made for Anne Wheaton and other humans that like to order their tea with the line “Tea, Earl Grey, hot” made famous by my FAVORITE (deal with it, Justin!) Captain Picard during the show run of Star Trek: TNG.  Along with the batter from Joy’s Avocado Pound Cake this batter (although I know I shouldn’t encourage it) wins the award for most likely to disappear before baking.

For my GeekyLinks today, we will keep with the Wheaton theme.  This was tweeted by Ryan Wheaton the other day and I thought it was pretty cool, a Back to the Future/Doctor Who mash-up.  The next is about how Wil Wheaton’s Web show brings people togetherTableTop, his You Tube show on the Geek and Sundry channel.  I rewatched the Ticket to Ride episode with my 9 year old the other day (yay for You Tube on the Wii!) and when THAT PART happens (if you’ve seen it, you know what I mean) the kid was in stitches!  Plus it was a game she loves on my iPod touch and that we play together when we can.  I still have yet to buy it in non digital form.

Sundays with Joy/Vegan Pumpkin Pecan Bread

Life is the master of throwing curve balls.  Remember when I told you about my lovely cat, Sally, that we spent lots of money we didn’t have fixing her broken leg over the summer?  Well, now after just beginning to let her out again (for about 3 weeks) we cannot find her.  Believe me, none of us were at all thrilled that she was going out again (she just gets into trouble) but she INSISTED.  She would meow and meow till you couldn’t take it anymore no matter how loud the computer or television volume.  We’ve looked at the shelter, online, around the neighborhood (we put up signs and posted online ads everywhere) with no luck.  We did get a call a few days ago that my husband followed up but it wasn’t her.

Adding all the pecan bits I had left in the house…

It is still too soon to call it over.  It hasn’t quite been a week.  The younger ones and I are doing fine but my husband and our oldest aren’t taking it well AT ALL.  My oldest cried in the shower the other day after soccer practice.  We could hear her sobbing from the living room.  We tried to comfort her but then she denied she’d been crying.  Apparently the crying didn’t stop once she went to bed either.  It is kind of funny, the two that are so devastated by the loss are the ones trying to convince me to get a new cat.  I think we should save the money on cat food and shots (that Sally was due for) and NOT get another cat, at least for awhile.  They look at me like I’m heartless and I do want to give in sometimes but we have to be practical, especially with Christmas coming up.  Who knows?  Santa may seem fit to bring us a new pet.  Especially since my younger daughter said that she was fine with Sally being gone but she’d better be back by Christmas because it wouldn’t be Christmas without her.  O geez…

Ready for the oven!

Onto the bread…I really loved it.  It reminded me of why I gravitated towards Joy’s blog to begin with-her AWESOME quick bread recipes.  A few slices pair perfectly with coffee in the morning.  This bread is my second favorite vegan recipe.  My first being Joy’s Vegan Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I was really bummed I didn’t have all the pecans that the recipe called for.  I only had between 1/2-3/4 cup of ground pecans, which I think I will use again in addition to coarsely chopped ones.  I could have used other nuts but I didn’t want to change the flavor profile at all.  I really liked where she was going with this bread.  So did my 3 year old.  I had cut into the one I wasn’t taking pictures of, just two slices.  I decided I would wrap up the rest of it and give it to my dad.  My son decided, when I wasn’t looking, it would be the perfect thing to take off the wrapping and dig right into the rest with his hands.  So I had to slice off what he messed up (and yeah I gave it to him) and again wrapped the rest of the bread to give to my dad.  A sad, sad half of a loaf as opposed to a nice 3/4 loaf.  Well, at least we know it was good.  Also, for being vegan, this bread puffed up so nice and pretty you would NEVER know.

As always, please buy my favorite cookbook for the recipe and check out other links for variations (some made muffins!) at Bakeaholic Mama.

My GeekyLink for this week isn’t exactly a link.  Just a tweet from my boyfriend Chris Hardwick that just increases my excitement over Wreck-It Ralph.  I am hoping that my whole family can go together this weekend.  I guess we will figure it out tomorrow night.  Sometimes we all go together, all the little cousins and the grown ups.  If we don’t, I am going to be first in line with my kids on Friday afternoon.  I can’t wait!

Sundays with Joy/Perfect Kettle Corn

This is not only the Perfect Kettle Corn, Joy’s method for making the popcorn is perfect.  I have made popcorn over the stovetop plenty of times but with only a vague recollection of how to do so.  I can remember my brother making it for us as kids and I know I was younger than my oldest is now.  I have even looked up how to make stovetop popcorn but none has ever turned out so perfect for me as this one.  This is for sure my go to for any stovetop popcorn from now on.  Also, Joy is right.  It is completely addictive.

This post is a little late in coming because I didn’t make the popcorn till today.  Last week was a pretty hectic week that I hope to tell you all about next week.  Today is for relaxing.  Today is running one quick errand with the kids so I don’t look lazy but really going to pick up  The Hunger Games DVD.  Hot today was all about afterward, on our way home, getting some Slurpees.  This afternoon is about watching a movie, sipping a Slurpee, and eating some perfect kettle corn.

As always, to get the recipe, please buy Joy’s Cookbook!  Don’t for get to checkout Bakeaholic Mama’s site for some other takes on this week’s recipe.

My GeekyLink for today is duh, The Hunger Games.  Read it, watch it, whatever.  Josh Hutcherson, yay!

Sundays with Joy/Coffee Vanilla Ice Cream Pie with Chocolate Coffee Syrup

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Comfort zone, Joy has smashed through you again.  This was my first attempt at making a meringue pie crust and it turned out beautifully.

Truthfully, I was this close to omitting the orange zest in the crust.  Boy, would that have been a mistake!  It complements the coffee ice cream so nicely and cuts through the sweetness just a bit.  Also, I made sure not to just crush the cookies and finely chop the nuts in the crust, I decided to pretty much pulverize them and I think that helped mine not stick to my pie plate at all.

From egg whites and mix-ins to pie crust.

So lets get on with it.  I am not a fan of coffee ice cream.  Give me mint chocolate chip anyday.  However, I had just bought some Frappuccino in bottles the other day (really just for the bottles, I don’t like to spend that much money on coffee) and just realized how sweet they were.  When they first came out I thought they were SO strong but that was before I really started to drink coffee.  This time, I almost thought they were too sweet to drink.  Almost.  So when I got my coffee ice cream out and began to stir to soften it up, I may have had a taste or two.  It tasted just like the Frappuccinos I had the week before!  I am wondering if the last time I tried coffee ice cream was before I started drinking coffee as well, and that is why I had stayed away from it.  I am not sure if I will ever order it but I will have no problem finishing the container that I bought to make this pie.

Pie out of the freezer and then complete with whipped cream.

If you haven’t guessed, I LOVED this pie!  Also, if you are not a huge fan of coffee ice cream, there is plenty of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream to cut a bit of the coffeeness.  However, I wouldn’t use the zest in the crust then because as I said before, it really complements the coffee ice cream.  I didn’t change anything up in the recipe except that I used my vanilla bean paste in the whipped cream instead of regular extract because I had used the Trader Joe’s vanilla wafers (they have visible vanilla bean seeds) and vanilla bean ice cream so I thought I would just continue with the theme.  I did also make a chocolate coffee syrup to go on top.  As always, if you want the recipe for the pie buy Joy’s wonderful cookbook.

My GeekyLink today is an Avengers/Firefly mashup, both Joss Whedon creations and now both share the same theme song!

Recipe Follows

Harry Potter Birthday Party

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So all last week was party prep for my soon to be (a few more days) 9 year old.  We had a heck of a Harry Potter party!  I don’t see how some people have the time to make themed food too because everything else took me so long.  However, if I had gotten started earlier than the week of then maybe things might have been different.  This was her first party in awhile because being born on Memorial Day and her birthday always falling around that time, people are usually out of town so we end up just getting some of the extended family together and going to the movies.  Men in Black III just wasn’t that big of a draw.  Don’t get me wrong, we probably will see it but it wasn’t birthday party worthy.  If the Avengers had waited till Memorial Day weekend, well, this would be an entirely different post and my daughter knows it.

Cockroach Clusters, surprise hit of the party!

She had been trying to decide between Harry Potter and the Hunger Games (she has read both series and seen the movies) but my nephew brought up a good point that the first Hunger Games movie had just come out and there are still two more to go so she will have plenty of time still to have a Hunger Games party if she is still so inclined.  As it was I could barely find any Harry Potter paper goods at the party stores.  However, what I could find was 75% off so…SCORE!  Once the theme was totally decided on, I spent lots of time Googling and on Pinterest.  What would I do without it?

The first thing I tackled was the house ties.  I got the idea from The Brilliant Crafty Type.  The only thing was that they didn’t include was a template for the tie itself, so most of my time on these was spent measuring a somewhat symmetrical tie.  On the whole it was really very easy, just measuring and cutting.  Plus, I already had half of the felt colors (which are really cheap anyways if I didn’t) and the pin backs.  I was only expecting 8 kids so I made 12 ties (3 of each house color) so everyone would have more of a fair shake in the sorting process.

Next up was the chocolate frog boxes.  This was easy in that you could print it out and you are done.  However, the cutting out with the exacto knife, scoring the edges that you need to fold, folding, and taping were quite a bit time consuming overall.  I decided then that I would only make 8 and stick them in the goodie bags (or goodie cups as it turned out).

My favorite thing was up next!  I had already made my daughter a wand for this past Halloween when she was Hermione, so all I needed was 7 more.  I found this tutorial on how to make a wand from paper and I got 7 wands that I was very proud of.  Here again though, I already had most of the paint (I did break down and buy silver and gold metallic) and the glaze.

The rest of the prep was just printing out paper for signs and making/buying candy for my Honeyduke’s Sweet Shoppe.  I had Honeydukes, Sorting Hat, and Olivander’s signs.  I also printed out some cupcake decorations.  I found a Harry Potter Font to use for some of my signs.  I made chocolate frogs (thank you to Princess Tiana, I already had a frog mold) and Cockroach Clusters.  I bought sugar quills (pixy stix), jelly worms (sour jelly worms), licorice wands (licorice), candy snitches (Ferrero Rocher, for the grown ups), and of course Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans.  I also made homemade butterscotch to use in my daughter’s Butterbeer frosting and for the Butterbeer itself (Just mix one heaping tablespoon of butterscotch with cream soda, it will foam up as you mix and is really good.  I would post my variation on the frosting recipe if I hadn’t messed it up and put too much confectioner’s sugar in it.  It would have been post worthy if not for that.

I didn’t have the foresight to print the Sorting Hat sign on card stock so I had to tape it to the couch in order for it to stand up.

Since it was mostly older kids, they played a Harry Potter word scramble game and character naming.  I just googled Harry Potter games, looked under images, and came up with a few.  I did play a lame form of quidditch as well, for a prize.  All in all, the kids seemed to have a good time.  The most important thing, I know my daughter did.  She even insisted on wearing her Gryffindor tie (that she got sorted into fair and square) to school today.

And to keep the theme going What I have learnt… from Harry Potter is my GeekyLink for today.  If you haven’t looked on Pinterest or Tumbler for Harry Potter pics and stuff, you are missing out.  There is some awesome stuff out there.

Sundays with Joy / Oatmeal Raspberry Ginger Scones

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Kinda the coolest week ever.

Last Sunday I joined Sundays with Joy,  a group that is baking their way through the Joy the Baker Cookbook.  Pretty awesome right?  However, it seems I joined a bit late, as last week they already posted these beauties (obviously mine are a bit different but we will get to that later).  This week they are posting Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins and since I already posted them in September, I had a chance to catch up.

I cut the big ones in half.

I made White Whole Wheat Powerberry Scones.  Now, normally I put these babies in my Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies but they worked so great in the scones!  It was almost like biting into a candy scone.  Cool right?  Antioxidant filled candy scones.  Have I told you that I really never liked scones?  I had them once, they were kind of hard and dry and not pleasant so I don’t know how many I would have gone on to make or have.  EVERYTHING has changed!  Joy mentions at the end of the recipe that they are best the day they are made and that is for sure.  However my husband who has been bugging me to “just make some chocolate chip cookies” and has been turning up his nose at most other things that I have been baking, really liked these and even ate the last one two days later.  These were not dry or hard.  They were soft and moist and yummy.  I am sad they are gone.

Of course I dusted the tops with some sugar, duh!

I am not leaving you the recipe because we want you to buy the book, but along with swapping the raspberries for the powerberries, I made them with white whole wheat flour, omitted all the spice and added a tablespoon of sugar to the dry ingredients and a teaspoon of vanilla to the wet.  Since I am sad they are gone though, I think I will make another batch with the spices and some frozen cranberries that I have tucked away.

I think I will only post GeekLinks on Sundays with Joy posts sparingly but do you want to know the other reasons why this is the best week ever?  My teenage niece called me up (she never calls!) to ask me what I was doing this weekend (I know she totally knew I was going to see The Avengers and I totally knew that she wanted to go) so I invited her to come see the Avengers with us.  So after my daughter’s soccer game, I took them all to the comic book store for Free Comic Book Day (I could totally tell she was impressed that I knew about that).  Went to lunch and then the movie (which was completely awesome, by the way)  Then when we got home the girls got caught up on My Little Pony youtube videos (insert eyeroll here, they are ALL completely obsessed including my niece).  Then we watched Doctor Who on Netflix.  Matt Smith is “her” doctor which is great but I want her to watch from the reboot and she kept asking when we would get to David Tennant because she just wanted to get to Matt Smith.  So I skipped all the gems that are the Slitheen episodes.  I was bummed, they make me laugh.  But all in all, a totally surprising, amazing, fun filled totally nerdy weekend!

Cream Cheese Wontons and an Oscar Party

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Before we get down to it, I want to ask any of the cooks or bakers out there if there is one dish that they have eaten and loved and tried to recreate and if it worked out or not.

Yummy, yummy filling!

These Cream Cheese Wontons is one of those recipes for me.  My husband doesn’t like Pick Up Stix so I hardly get to have them (and when I do, I eat WAY too many).  This was not my first attempt.  My first try was at my first Oscar party I ever had about 6 years ago.  Now, I say party but what that really means is that my friend Jennifer comes over and I cook for her (I don’t know why but it has always been 2 appetizers, a popcorn, an entree, and dessert), we play Oscar Bingo and I kick her butt at predictions (it was close this year, I only beat her by 2).  Anyways, the first time I tried to recreate them I only used cream cheese and green onions and that was just wrong.  Well, a few years later and I do think I have perfected it.  I mean Jennifer and her boyfriend (a new partygoer!) had to physically move the plate so they would stop eating them.

Assembly line!

This year I made the Cream Cheese Wontons, Baked Artichoke Squares from shutterbean.comButtery Brown Sugar Popcorn, and Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken.  Over the years, adding kids and having each of them go through their stages, sometimes it is tough getting everything you want to get done, done.  So I decided to make my entree in the crockpot because I didn’t plan as far enough ahead as I usually do and it freed me up to make everything else.  I am contemplating doing that every year or something similar that needs low slow cooking.

Artichoke Squares ready for the oven!

My dessert was a chocolate cake.  Remember when I talked about recreating something you ate years ago?  Well, the cake was also one of those recipes and this time, I failed.  Still totally delicious but not pretty and not quite right.  When I perfect it you can have it and you will LOVE it and you will be able to make it right when I give it to you and not have to wait 9 years to try and figure it out.  Yes, trust me 9 years and it will TOTALLY be worth it.  

Found this from last year. You can see some popcorn and our mini-corn dogs!

This was my first time meeting Jennifer’s new boyfriend and I can’t say enough good things about him.  I LOVE how well he ate!  My husband didn’t eat any of my food that night (OK, he was sleeping) but he still didn’t nibble on or sample anything before work either.  Plus even if he had eaten anything, he would have been tentative about it.  Jennifer’s boyfriend Jay—clean plate every time!  Nothing means more to a hostess.  I just wish I had won Oscar bingo.

Pretty little pocket, ready to be fried!

My GeekyLinks this week are first from Felicia Day she tweeted this awesome article from NPR about this almost extinct insect.  She said it made her tear up.  I didn’t believe her.  I was wrong.  Then I have Pulp Shakespeare tweeted by Paul and Storm.  Yes, that is Pulp Fiction rewritten in iambic pentameter and set in the 1500s.  Please, please watch at least till the foot massage conversation!

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Tomato Basil Bread and OMG The Hunger Games!

This bread was probably the easiest bread I have made in awhile.  This bread was just OK.  I found the recipe on Food.com and they say to eat this bread with soup.  Soup wasn’t on my menu last week.

Then I decided to make a grilled cheese with it and to use my husband’s provolone as opposed to my usual cheddar.  Did I tell you that this was the BEST BREAD EVER?  I love this bread for that grilled cheese!  It probably would have been good for a soup too, especially if you are a dipper.  The flavor profile was that of a caprese sandwich but I didn’t have any mozzarella on hand so it was not a true caprese.  (Okay, I did have shredded but I didn’t realize it till I started writing this post, dangit!)  I challenge you to make this bread and make a grilled cheese with mozzarella plus put basil and tomatoes INSIDE!  I would have, but I used all the basil I had for the bread and haven’t had a new tomato growing for awhile.  The best thing about this bread was that my super duper picky Sarah, ate the grilled cheese without comment or pause.  This is the girl that can find the teeniest tiniest onion and pull it out of whatever she is eating with her pinky and give it to me because she isn’t willing to eat it.

I think, even though it is so simple, that it is a grilled cheese worthy of Closet Cooking.  The man can cook and he has TONS of great recipes.  However, he is the “go to guy” if you are looking to change up your grilled cheese.  The man is obsessed!  His pictures and variations on grilled cheese are pure magic for a lover of comfort food.

My GeekyLink for this week is the The Hunger Games trailer!  Ahhh!  I have watched it about three times so far and have teared up every time.  First of all, great book.  Read it!  Second of all, I love the way the trailer was done.  They show SO MUCH of the beginning and end it at the Cornicopia (the beginning of the Games themselves).  I thought it was just a great way to do it.  You might also want to check out the Entertainment Weekly breakdown of the trailer ‘Hunger Games’: Let’s Dissect the Trailer!

I was debating whether or not to have my eight year old read the books.  This, however, is no ordinary eight year old.  She finished all of the Harry Potter books in about nine months and that is including time off in the summer.  There is some hard stuff in those books.  However (Spoiler Alert!), I guess nothing like picking 24 young people to kill each other on TV.  I was going to take her to see it anyway, though.  Plus, if it is worth Scholastic Points, she will be willing (It is.  It is even in her book order, she is going to order them with the money she was awarded for having the most Scholastic Points for the first trimester).  I love that kid.

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