Booze Bears Instructions

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Cooking, ExperiMENTAL

I don’t remember where I first tried these, but I started making them myself a few years ago. We’ve been taking them to parties, since we rarely get to host anymore, and other events where friends are indulging.

Thanks to a reminder from two different peeps, I’m sharing you the info we’ve gathered after years of testing and experimenting and have it pretty streamlined.

You need a fridge and at least 24 hours start time. (And be careful of hotel room fridges, they tend to run extra cold which slows the process. Yes, I’ve made them that way many times.)
Experiments also proved that gummies work, but not the sour gummies. It was disgusting, even more so when dumped untested in the toilet because I didn’t want that sludge in the hotel sink or trash. Unholy!
  • Start 24+ hours before you want to serve them. A few hours earlier is fine, but I never go less than 24 hours. I’ve read that you can start as early as 48, but I’ve never tried it since the results are great with at least 24 hours. No fail!
  • You want a glass or plastic container and plastic or wooden stirrers. Use no metal or tin foil, because SCIENCE! (I’ve never researched, I’ve just trusted the advice from the web sites.)
  • Place a layer of bears on the bottom of the container, I suggest only two deep for better absorption, so decide on the size of the dish accordingly. I serve them in 9×9 pyrex square casserole dish, 9×13 for bigger parties, scaling based on crowd size and number of batches and their spectacle booze interest.
  • Pour in the booze of choice. You want them covered, but not too much. Just above the bears is what I do, and add more as needed when stirring. Usually another splash around hours 12 to 15 maybe?
  • Hard alcohol works, liqueurs have not (yet).
  • Stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate on a level shelf. 
  • You’ll keep them in the fridge, covered, and stir every six hours or so. 
  • Overnight is fine, it’s not fragile enough to set an alarm just to stir. You are just going to break them up and re-coat them with booze after they start to adhere to each other.
  • Uncover and serve with a slotted spoon or something, and make sure you have wipes or napkins because hands get messy. 
  • If you use gummy worms, bear in mind those suckers are worth several bears and may absorb more than they appear. (I recommend with Tequila, for obvious reasons.)
If anyone has pix from Balticon, contact me because I don’t think I have any from the mega batches we made with Nobilis’ infused vodkas and other flavors.
The pix we have will be posted later. Enjoy!

Sopapillas, Finally

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Cooking

I’ve been wanting to master these for decades, the need heightened after making a few “sopapilla cheesecakes” and wanting something better than croissant rolls for the base of the dessert.

An opportunity arose and I’m taking it as  chance to take on two long-delayed nommies. The first, sopapillas. I hunted down this recipe in AllRecipes for sopapillas  and skimmed through the comments for potential issues. It had over 150 reviews with almost a complete 5 star rating. I’ve had great luck with their recipes in the past, so jumped in.

Because of carb doom lately, I only made a half batch to test and play with the techniques. The comments indicated that temperature was key at 375fahrenheit / 190celsius. Luckily, I had recently discovered my hot oil/candy thermometer. I bought the Crisco (I follow them to a “T” before making alterations to recipes.) and waited for the perfect window of moderate pain and empty kitchen and started in.

Batch A (on the left) rested for the recipe instructed 20 minutes, then rolled and cut with a pizza cutter (easier for my hands) and dropped in to the waiting oil at the perfect temp.

Batch B (on the right) was surprisingly easy to accomplish at the reviewer-recommended 45 minute dough resting time. I had finished Batch A and cleared the counters with time to spare for Batch B to start.

What I learned from my test:

  • I should have re-measured the temperature, I believe the oil was too hot at the end of both fry batches.
  • A wider pan would have been awesome. I could only do 4 at a time of the approximately 2″ x 2″ squares in the medium pot I was using. I dream of the giant 5″ x 3″ sopapillas of my favorite childhood restaurant, but I won’t ever bring myself to use that much oil for a sporadic-use recipe.
  • I’d dust each piece before dropping it in the oil. I ended up with the blechhhh of brown burned bits in the oil. Not cool, man. Not cool.
  • After the dough is dropped in, it sinks to the bottom. As it cooks, it rises, on its own, to the surface. It seems that the more surface exposed to the air, the more it would expand, or pillow out further. A few tests proved this to be true. The few that look circular are the ones I played the most with this effect the most.
  • I am also testing how they old up to storage, since the next batch will be made Saturday. 
  • Alongside another dessert, this half batch made PLENTY. So, a complete fresh dessert for $4 for honey, $4 for Nutella (World Nutella Day is NOT a weekend!), 2 cups of flour, 1/2 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of baking-something, 2 quarts of frying oil (although I’ll make use of this for other things, once I strain off oil through a cheesecloth).

I plan on inserting the recipe to prevent a frequent problem I am running in to, dead links. I’ll try and insert an image of the recipe here, if I can catch hubby’s eye for a few minutes. You can find the link above.

 

EDIT, before going in to make the final batch:
Note: I hated the oil flavor on the sopapillas so am switching from canola to coconut. Healthier anyways and I got a vat of the good stuff on sale at Costco. (Marry me, Costco!) Also, I’ll be putting the sopapillas directly ON the paper towels this time to drain. Every little bit of oil removing absorption. NECESSARY!

Healthy Twist on Mom’s Turkey Noodle Soup

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Cooking, Health

Chicken noodle soup

My Chicken Noodle Soup, aka, Mom’s modified turkey noodle soup. There is nothing earth-shattering or extraordinary done here, just happy that the adults were actually feeling much better after having it, along with a combination with such things as antibiotics, rest and hydration. We still credit my Mom’s now-bastardized turkey noodle soup (traditionally, only after Thanksgiving meal), with some alterations she’d slap me over – for never wanting while she was here to enjoy it.

A precious few of us still make my Mom’s soup during an illness, rainy weather, or just ‘cuz we miss her (Cancer took her almost 8 years ago. A few are still raw.). Halloween was one of those days. The family we lives with was besieged with strep throat, which was lingering and misery-making. And I’m so rarely hungry (prescription medication) that I have trouble getting nutrients in, so I am having to get creative on jamming nutrition in small amounts without having tons of prepackaged food bars and shakes. I want natural vitamins and minerals from my diet, but that’s hard to do most days. I knew we adults were headed for biological doom while taking care of the sick little ones, so adrenaline and Depeche Mode pushed me through. It turned out tasty with my off-the cuff, empty-the-fridge modifications.

Mom’s Turkey Noodle soup ingredients:
-in her defense, she was attempting making one soup that everyone would enjoy. Even the addition of the sour cream was a hidden step until she thought her grandkids could handle it being in their food. 

  • broth (specifically made by cooking down a stock from the remainder of the Thanksgiving turkey carcass (Eww.), boiling for hours and filling the house with yummy smells);
  • egg noodles;
  • cooked turkey (or chicken) chopped into pieces small enough that they can share spoon space with an egg noodle (but not tiny);
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream (or more, if you prefer);
  • salt and pepper.

My altered version, which was surprisingly tasty:

  • cooked turkey (or chicken) white meat only – roughly chopped into pieces small enough that they can share spoon space with an egg noodle (but not tiny);
  • purchased organic veggie stock (my preference), which I ran short of so added water to get the amount I wanted for the full bag of noodles and addition of other stuff (I don’t do carcass boils. Eww.);
  • bag of egg noodle of choice;

  • 1Tblsp each of olive oil and butter (or earth’s balance type substitute);
  • 1 cup of purchased mirepoix (diced and ready to use in the produce section);
  • 1 tsp. thyme;
  • 2 carrots, cut to slightly smaller than chopped chicken;
  • 2 handfuls of re-washed organic spinach, cut into chiffonade;
  • a cup or two of cooked quinoa;
  • Optional: 1/2 cup OR 1/4 cup Greek 0% yogurt (start there and increase up);
  • salt and pepper to taste.

I made this hurriedly on Thursday, because with strep in the house, it was all hands on deck and I didn’t know if/when it would hit me. If I’d had more time, I would not have used the rotisserie chicken as the flavor (garlic, from Harris Teeter) was too bold a flavor for this version. I will next time either use the cooked and de-boned rotisserie chicken breast meat (as found at Costco SO cheap) or poach boneless/skinless/fat removed chicken breast in the veggie stock and possibly added chicken stock bouillon chunk or two.

I also decided to try enhancing it with take-aways from weeks of watching cooking shows. I boiled veggie stock down a bit, and then added the cooled meat from a rotisserie garlic chicken (was an awful choice, for my palate, compared to simply poached boneless, skinless chicken breasts) and whole wheat egg noodles.

Next time, I will cook the broth down more, but also increase the amount at the start if we have cooties. I forgot to calculate the illness-to-broth-requirement. If you have the time, do this step, I am positive it will improve the flavor without smashing your taste buds as this chicken did.

  • Pour 3 boxes of broth into a stockpot. Bring to a slow boil. Add egg noodles and pre-cooked chicken and cook to package instructions.

That was the version I took portions out for the girls to try. They weren’t thrilled, but in fairness the whole grain egg noodles are a bit cardboard-y. I’ll try them again with better chicken and regular egg noodles;

  • If making a separate batch for more mature palates, go ahead and prepare mirepoix (see below) while the broth is boiling and the egg noodles are cooking.

For the grown-ups’ batch:

Mirepoix – celery, onion and carrots diced into uniform shape. They are key for the base of most soups, as it gives an aromatic base to all you care to mix in to it.

Pro tip: Having Fibromyalgia, dicing is a costly step for me, physically. If you suffer from Carpal Tunnel or anything that makes this step problematic, I can usually find the celery/onion/carrot (non-organic) mixture already chopped and ready to drop in the pan in your local grocery store. It’s also known as ‘mirepoix’. (various spellings, as it’s a French phrase for the combo of diced carrots, onion and celery)

That said, the vegetables are insanely cheap to buy, so I would recommend doing this step yourself if you can make the time, can do the cutting (or have a helpful bestie), don’t mind doing the onions and/or don’t have the option for Organic pre-chopped to make it worth the while.

  • Melt butter and heat olive oil until heated through;
  • Add 1/3 cup of each, diced: carrot, onion and celery;
  • Add a dash of salt and quick grind of pepper;
  • After onions have started to turn translucent, add thyme. (I added it at the end because it was dry in super tiny flakes that I didn’t want to burn in the hot oil while the mirepoix got nice and softened up.);
  •  Saute until completely softened;
  • Allow to cool off the heat while the noodles cook.

With the kid-friendlier portions of soup (stock, noodles, chicken) removed from the stockpot, I stirred in the still warm mirepoix and let it bubble for a bit, along with two handfuls of baby spinach chiffonade and pre-cooked quinoa (just to use it up) enough to warm it all up to a nice bubbling. Adjust seasoning with the salt and pepper and it was delish and filling.

Last touch:
Mom’s original turkey noodle soup recipe ended with sour cream stirred into the soup and dissolved into it, shortly before serving. It gave it a super rich and filling touch. If it was the giant pot, as it was in later years because we all hung around for the late dinner of soup, she used a full pint. I always stirred in about half that (too much fat), and it still rocks.

Healthier sub: Housemate Jen told me that Greek yogurt is reportedly a great flavor substitute for sour cream. A taste comparison proved that it tasted like sour cream, with flavor that is much stronger. I’d start with a quarter cup and add more to taste. (The health boost of Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream is significant.)

NOTE: I had to add more salt for my palate, but otherwise it was almost exactly like the sour cream version. Still, a little goes a long way.

Vegetarians:
Swap out your protein substitute of choice.

Vegans:
Omit the butter and either replace with Earth’s Balance or increase the olive oil; leave out the sour cream/Greek yogurt unless you have a replacement you like.

*Add it to a small portion in a separate bowl and see how it breaks down in the boiling hot soup. I’ve seen things, scary things, when you expect a similar reaction for dairy replacements. You don’t want to do all this work and then have it be inedible.

World Nutella Day is Here *drools*

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Cooking, ExperiMENTAL

First off, let me start by saying, “WTF!?!? Nutella wasn’t in my user dictionary? Suck it, me!”. Now added, I can continue:

Today is World Nutella Day. If you don’t know what Nutella is, don’t fret. It’s simply hazelnuts, ground up until spreadable, like peanut butter, with milk and cocoa added for tasty measure.

My loyal friend, Chaos, ever at my side these days, has prevented me from doing the baking I wanted to do. Playing catch-up on everything that slipped since I have been laid up, means that I can’t bake today. My solution: The jar I bought will just have to fit into my day, however it may. It’s a Holy Day in my calendar, and this year I choose to honor it in restful contemplation. I’ll still experiment, but on a far smaller scale than the previous two years.

I raise my spoonful of Nutella to those who honor this day as I do: By indulging to my heart’s content to this most exquisite gift from what must be from the fairy realms in Belgium.  Ok, so the spoonful didn’t last this long, but I raise it in spirit, my friends.

Enjoy!
**********************************************************************************

Previous posts from 2011 are viewable here. 
And, apparently, I never blogged about last year’s fun. May have to remedy that soon. I’ve got some pix around here somewhere…

 

Happy Birthday, My Angel Boy

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Cooking, Our Kids

My oldest son turns 21 today. Yes, I know he is now A Man in the Eyes of All (except car/truck rental companies). But he was, is and will always be my Angel Boy (and the other various AffectioNames I have for him).   ^_^

He’s far away, and I’m struggling with it. I know, I know, I’ve been parenting from afar for over a decade, get over it already! I prefer to think, Dear Reader, that you understand by now that I’ve never fully adjusted to it and spend a lot of time actively not remembering that I won’t see them until ??? days pass (2 in this case).

But this milestone is hitting me super hard. I’m in the midst of planning a fun weekend with him and His Pal (Awaiting assignment by Naughty Bear of his Public Moniker.) in Philly, which will include Philly Comic-Con. Let’s be honest, they don’t want to hang with someone twice their age while they celebrate.  I know I wouldn’t have wanted my mom tagging along, and she was exceptionally cool.

Since I won’t see him until late tomorrow night, I didn’t get to bake him his traditional birthday breakfast or surprise him with balloons at the foot of his bed when he wakes.

Instead, I’m baking something for my beloved housemate Daddy G (father of another housemate). He recently had surgery and looks more thin than usual. I’ve never thought of him as frail, and I can’t let it to go any further.  I’ve decided to bake him the healthiest thing that I can think of that will tempt him into eating more calories to strengthen his body while it heals. And, oh darn! Wouldn’t you know it’s a baked item. Specifically, The Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from the recipe on the Quaker Oats box. He says the ones I made for his birthday tasted just like the ones his mom used to bake. And who doesn’t need a bit of Mom comforting your nose holes when you’re healing, whether it’s physical or emotional?

So, to my Naughty Bear, who I love The Bluest of all of our children, please be wise in your choices. You are too magnificent to waste. This world needs you as you are meant to be, whatever you decide that to be.

And, as a surprise gift for your birthday? I will no longer again say, “I made you, therefore I’m allowed to break you.”*

Love you to infinity and back again, Tiger.

~~~~
*
I have never used the spanking method. Ours has always been a house of time-outs. It was only ever said in jest, so you don’t have to flame me about “How Bad Spanking Is!”. KThxBai

All Hail the Cinnamon Distraction

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Cooking, Family, Household

Like nearly all humans, I have a conflicted relationship with my family. They build me up, they break me down, yadda, yadda, yadda. But in times of desperation, when reaching for truth, they come through with the giggle making.

I give to you the word for word accounting of an exchange in Facebook with my sons and siblings regarding a recent discovery. Names changed to protect my family from our own silliness.

Note: If you aren’t familiar with the Cinnamon Challenge, search it out on Youtube. I won’t link here because I will not be held responsible for copycats. Swallow at your own peril.

…That’s what she said.

Also, I’ve thrown the cinnamon away. I will not cook with something that was that close to airborne fecal contaminants.

On to the discussion surrounding this photo:

  • <Me>: “My sons have some explaining to do. I’ve been looking for this for over a month, only to find it in their bathroom cabinet. (Naughty Bear)? (LT)? Who wants to confess to this one? Should I search Youtube for evidence? Mommeh no likey.<Longtime Family Friend/More Like a Sister> likes this.
  • <Naughty Bear>: Was not me, <LT> kept trying to get me to eat a spoonful. I’ll rat him out idc.
    • <My Sister/Their Aunt> likes this.
  • <LT>: Uhh.. how did that get there…?
    • <My Sister> likes this.
  • <LT>: It was <His cousin, Roboto Dude>’s idea!
  • <My Bro (and RD’s Dad)>: <RD> said nay!!!!!!!
  • <LT>: Alright, fine. It was my idea. But <RD> did it with me!
  • <My Bro>: AHA!!! He had already left for school when I posted that…AHA again I say!!!
    • <My Sister> likes this.
  • <My Sister>: This picture and entire thread crack me up. God I love my family ♥
  • <Me>: I love my kids and family. I decree there shall be no punishment! The entertainment value more than suffices for the loss of half a gigantic bottle of cinnamon.
    • <My Sister> likes this.
  • <Me>: Wait, you did it? Pix or it didn’t happen.
  • <My Sister, misunderstanding>: Who me? Psssh, yeah right, I’m not nearly that brilliant. I just liked your decree.
  • <My Bro>: Still, that stuff isn’t cheap. kids these days need to be taught that cinnamon does not grow on trees!!!
    • <I> like this.
  • <My Sister>:  Hahahahahaha!!!!! Again, I love my family!

Home Ec 101 – Help For Your Housekeeping

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Consumer Info, Cooking, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Household, No Whining

The majority of the house prep is done and our home has been listed for sale. Now it’s just a matter of knocking out the yard sale to clear the garage and we can sit back and wait for the offers to come rolling in. Oh, I forgot, we have to keep the house pristine for potential buyers while living in it with a large dog that drools and sheds a lot. No big deal, right?

The site Home Ec 101 first came to my attention, guessing here, when author Mur Lafferty tweeted about it at some point in 2010.  I looked into it and was immediately sucked in. It provides all sorts of information for those that may have never learned how to do the basics of cooking and cleaning and find themselves in need of guidance. The site also gives guidance on home repairs and laundry solutions. The site is not just for beginners, as I’ve been maintaining a home of my own for over 20 years and still find lots of useful information. There is even a section on cooking, with information for beginners, along with recipes and food safety.

From the site, “Home-Ec 101 is an attempt to reach average people and teach them the domestic arts that make life a little less expensive, a little easier, and a little more enjoyable.”  Blogger Heather Solos gives a slightly different take on how to get things done, and I enjoy it. You don’t get beaten up for not being Martha Stewart and it casts a realistic eye on the availability of time and funds of American families.

My very favorite thing about the site? The cleaning schedule. When I first perused the site I jumped at a pre-made, no thought needed schedule for keeping the house clean. I fell off the schedule during the Christmas rush, but now that my home is clean and needs to stay that way, I’m back on the program.

It’s simple and straight-forward, although not easy. Yesterday was laundry catch-up and bedding day, and since I was otherwise occupied for most of the weekend, that means pretty a LOT of laundry had to be caught-up. I didn’t finish (four bedrooms and not being well), so I’m rolling it in to today’s tasks, which includes cleaning the floors and a 15 minute quick pick-up and smudge patrol.

There is a standard set of tasks to do every day, along with items like those listed above added on top. I really enjoyed the results when I did it before, and like everything else, consistency is what will make it a success or a failure. Miss one or two days and you can catch up easily without a major re-cleaning. More than that and you’d better put some real time aside. Being back on this schedule will also prevent me from feeling like I have to obsess for hours every day, just in case we’re lucky enough to have someone interested in viewing our house.

And while customization of the list may be needed to fit your individual households, it’s a great place to get into the mind set of keeping things tidy.

**Thanks to Mia for noticing the schedule posted in my kitchen, as it reminded me to share the site here. I hope you find it as useful as I have.**

Vegetarian Leanings

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Breast Health, Chooch, Cooking, Cooking, ExperiMENTAL

As a bonus of all the amazing people we’ve met in the last four years, my palate has grown immensely. What with food allergies, diabetes, vegetarians, vegans and all manner of eating preferences you must either be willing to try new foods or choose to eat crap from a McDonald’s drive thru on the way to the event.

We’ve tasted a long list of new foods, most delicious but some not. One particular day in February, I had my first cucumber sandwich, my first artichoke dish and my first ever Ethiopian restaurant. My favorite? The Ethiopian cuisine, and along-side it, the Ethiopian honey wine (mead). Thanks to Mia, John, Thomas and Andrea for the experience!

When hosting or attending pot-lucks, I typically feel the need to bring dishes that most, if not all, can enjoy. Because of this I’ve done a lot of experimentation with vegan/vegetarian cooking. Some dishes have been utter failures and some have been successes. Luckily, I’m not alone in this quest since those friends are eager to share what they’ve learned over the years. Whether tips, tricks, products, or explanation of concepts, I eagerly try to absorb all they say.

One of the biggest surprises? Marshmallows aren’t vegetarian because they contain gelatin. Oops! You can make or buy vegan/vegetarian marshmallows, but you have to work hard to find them or make them. I’ve decided it’s just not worth it for the only things I use marshmallows for: Rice Krispie treats and dipping in the chocolate fountain.

Another surprise was that granulated and brown sugar are not always vegetarian. Sugar cane is frequently processed with bone char to remove color. Artificial sweetners (Splenda and the like) are also off limits because of the animal testing that was done to get them to market. That leaves some raw sugars and agave nectar. I’m finding that converting existing dessert dishes is problematic, especially since my cheesecakes are a big part of my repertoire. I’m mainly trying new recipes that already call for these ingredients, and have found great success there.

And while I know there is controversy, I use meat substitutes when I cook vegetarian. I have to. My husband doesn’t eat beans of any kind, and I have to get more protein in the dish somehow. I only use the ones I think are tasty, and only in ways that I think are flavorful. Thanks again to friends guiding me to the better products and how to best use them.

There are breast cancer risk concerns about having too much soy, but we don’t eat soy meat substitutes more than maybe twice a week.

If I’m cooking vegan or vegetarian and my husband isn’t going to be there, I happily use beans. He dislikes them intensely and will not eat them because of an allergic type reaction. Growing up, I had beans a few times a week, so this has been a big sacrifice. I miss beans in some family favorite recipes, but I still get them a few times a week.

Favorite Products:

  • Earth’s Balance as a butter substitute. For years I used Smart Balance, but thanks to Andrea Gideon I now use EB instead as a spread and in cooking/baking. It has a truer butter flavor, even in pralines! You heard me, pralines!
  • Paulette Jaxton introduced me to Field Roast brand sausage substitutes. The Italian variety tastes better than any other Italian sausage I’ve ever had, possibly because there are no weird hard chunks that make me wonder what part of what animal it came from. They also offer an apple sage and chipotle variety that I have yet to try.
  • Fake meat crumbles, again thanks to Paulette – Morningstar crumbles are great in spaghetti/nacho cheese/soups. They break down more than ground meats, so you won’t keep that chunky texture. But you will add low fat protein, and it absorbs flavors wonderfully.
  • Gardenburger’s black bean/chipotle patties are seriously tasty. When I need to eat something quickly, this is what I reach for. A patty on a whole wheat sandwich round is filling and delicious, especially topped with romaine or spinach and salsa. It also packs a nice protein/fiber and nutrient-rich punch.
  • Beans – Black and Pinto are my favorites. Both are loaded with antioxidants on top of protein and fiber. I use them when eating alone at home. I typically toss them into a salad or season them chili powder and cumin as a meat replacement in Mexican food.
  • Egg replacer – Ener-G is the one that I keep seeing referenced. Of the two baked dishes I’ve made, one turned out great and the other was disgusting (family brownie recipe) and tossed out. I’ll continue experimenting, but only at home.
  • Thanks to Keith and Jenn of Ditched by Kate, I’m now a huge fan of Maple Agave Nectar. It’s a delicious and much healthier replacement for traditional maple syrup. I’m also converting us from Splenda to Agave, once and for all. I think it’s worth the modest calorie increase to alleviate concerns about dangerous risks when using sugar substitutes.

For ourselves, I’m finding that we have about 3 “meatless” nights a week now, and we’re eating far more chicken and turkey than beef these days. The overall result is that we’re eating healthier and I’m feeling better. While I still enjoy meat, I’m finding that I’m tipping ever closer to vegetarian living. I’ve never liked fish, no longer eat pork, and won’t eat anything on the bone or resembling what it came from. I buy boneless/skinless chicken breast ONLY and never look directly at the Thanksgiving turkey that I don’t cook. And how I love those little packages in the meat section, I can almost pretend that it’s not from an animal that way! I even have to be careful of seeing others as they chow down on things like shrimp, drumsticks, mussels (thanks Chooch) and the like, or I’ll lose my appetite. I’m just one bad experience away from being a full-on vegetarian, I think.

It will be interesting to see how my sons react to our increasingly different menu items, as only a few of the regulars they are used to remain and have typically been altered somehow. Naughty Bear experienced a wide variety of choices this weekend, but I don’t know how much he actually tried of the vegan/vegetarian variety.

Although, if I were to go vegan, I’m pretty sure Chooch would sacrifice me to his love of cheese, and I just can’t risk that. I’m pretty sure our unconditional love would suddenly have a condition attached. But I love my mouse!

Double Rainbow Cake Guide and Party Fun

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Cooking, Dessert Hacks, ExperiMENTAL, Friends

Here are photos we took from the actual birthday party for Chad and Jett. The frosting is a new recipe that I found, since the birthday girl wanted a cherry frosting. Having never had it, but instantly loving the thought I hunted a promising recipe down, and think it turned out pretty tasty.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes yellow cake mix
  • Eggs, oil and water as required by mix
  • Gel food color
  • 2 10″ round pans
  • Parchment paper or foil circles cut for the bottoms of the pan
  • Pam spray
  • 12 glasses
  • 12 spoons
  • Rubber spatula
  • Mixer
  • Cherry frosting
  • Chocolate frosting
  • Large strawberries, for structural integrity

I used the 12 glasses, six for each batch of batter, because I wanted to try and make sure I had similar amounts and similar colors mixed in the two cakes. I’m very glad I did this, as I think it made a difference in the final result.

One issue I had was the shape of the cakes. Typically, when a cake rises up in the center as these did, you slice off the offending bump to make it even for frosting. I dreaded doing this and losing any of the color I worked so hard for, so decided to use some internal supports. Having been informed that chocolate frosting would be a suitable replacement if I was unable to make the cherry frosting happen, and that strawberries are a favorite fruit, I decided to go for broke.

The outside of the cake is frosted with the cherry frosting, but the layer between the two cakes is frosted with a homemade chocolate frosting with large-ish strawberries around the edge to provide the support needed to make the cake level and prevent it from splitting in half. Yes, it’s somewhat absurd, but I planned on laying the slices on their sides so the middle layer could be dodged if undesired. Happily, I think the birthday girl liked it, and it probably made the cake better for Chad since he’s a chocolate fan. I just wish I could have found cherries large enough to do the job, for flavor consistency across the cake.

I was concerned about the structure since the strawberries kept wanting to slide out through the frosting, but they behaved in the fridge while we went out to lunch. It was a great time, as Jett’s parents, Jett and Chad themselves and Paulette joined Chooch and I. We headed back to our place to relax, chat, and later have cake.

After the cutting and eating, the cake was deemed extremely sweet. No big surprise there, but the squeal of joy from Jett during the cutting made it WELL worth all the effort. Everyone enjoyed the spectacle of it and the taste was pretty darned good, too.

Thanks to Cheryl and Bob for letting us host the party, and for the lovely flowers and lunch! You are far too kind, and we’ve loved every visit with you guys.

Happy Birthday to Jett and Chad! It’s an absolute blessing to count you as friends! And that Scott Pilgrim viewing must happen SOON!

ExperiMENTAL Foods: Double Rainbow Cake Test

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Dessert Hacks, ExperiMENTAL, Firsts

So, I’m having fun playing with desserts. I’m finding that people love when I show up with some tasty new variation on an old dessert, but are also happy when I leave and make me take it with me. Conversely, I’m trying to leave the sweet temptations behind and they frequently end up in the garbage. I have no problems with this, as I’d rather it go to the landfill then attach to my ass.

Besides playing with variations of cheesecake flavors and cake frostings, I’ve been attempting to bake vegan and also more things from scratch, I became fascinated with the Cherpumple phenomenon which resulted in customized Pi-Cakes. I fell in love with friend Andrea’s Dessert Enchiladas to the point that if her husband doesn’t treat her right I’m ready to propose on the spot.

The newest thing I’ve been working on is for my dear friend Jett Micheyl’s birthday. A month ago, she tweeted this:

I want this cake for my birthday -> http://trunc.it/dy7lw
The link went to this insane creation:

You guys should know by now that I loves me a challenge! The cake in the photo has one layer with colors in rainbow order, and the other layer is in reverse order. Well, I decided to do both layers in rainbow order so I could call it the Double Rainbow Cake. (Title inspired by the Double Rainbow hippie dude videos.)

And so began the testing…
Last weekend I did two test cakes, because I wanted to test my procedure and also decide which cake mix to go with. Yes, I cheated and used cake mix. There were already too many variables in play, and I wanted to ensure that the cake would actually taste GOOD.

For the test, I tried a white cake mix and a yellow cake mix, since I found conflicting information on the internet on which provided a better looking end result. I also used a different technique in that for the white cake mix I evenly divided the batter across the six glasses, and with the yellow cake mix I used a graduated amount for each color. Red being the outside color needed more batter, violet being the inside color needed less batter. I varied the amounts based on location in the classic “ROY G. BIV” rainbow order between red and violet.

It’s pretty easy to tell that the white cake mix created more pastel colors, which were beautiful. But Jett is more vibrant than that, so I went with the yellow cake mix base and got much brighter colors. The trick will be getting the violet without making it quite so dark. I also preferred the result with the graduated amounts so decided it was worth the extra trouble. The flavor was remarkably similar, with the white being MUCH drier than the yellow. We decided yellow was the way to go for both vibrancy and moistness.

These photos are from the tests I did, using 1 box of cake mix in each 10″ cake pan. I intended that solely for the test, but decide to go ahead with the size for the final cake.

Check this space tomorrow for the final cake results.

***************EDIT******************
I’m including the link to the “Double Rainbow Cake Guide”.