Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Red Velvet Cake


By now everyone has heard of red velvet cake, especially if you have seen the movie Steel Magnolias. Who could forget the bleeding armadillo cake? Well crazy Aunt Fern is not the only person who can make a delicious red velvet cake...mine's just not in the shape of an animal.

Red velvet cake was a staple dessert in our household growing up. It is my oldest brother's favorite cake therefore my mom and I would make it each year for his birthday. I don't have any crazy memories regarding this cake; just that it was always darn good. The debate now comes on whether you prefer a cream cheese frosting, or the true red velvet cake frosting. I am partial to the "special" frosting (I don't know the name for it) but will admit it does take more time and effort. You can be the judge for yourself.

My most recent use of this recipe was for a batch of cupcakes I made for a friend's wedding shower (above picture). For these, I took the effort to make them look like Georgetown Cupcake's version with cream cheese frosting, as those are her favorite. Only in DC would people pay $3 for a cupcake!


Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients:
1 stick butter
1 ½ c sugar
2 eggs
2 T heaping cocoa
2 oz red food coloring
1 c buttermilk
2 ½ c flour (sift before measuring, then sift again with salt into cake)
½ t salt
1 t vanilla
1 t soda
1 T white vinegar

Directions:
1. Cream butter with sugar until fluffy; add eggs and mix
2. Make a past of the food coloring and cocoa; add to batter in mixing bowl and mix
3. Add buttermilk alternately with sifted flour and salt
4. Add vanilla
5. Add soda to vinegar in a cup to make a foam; blend into batter
6. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes in 2 round cake pans (or cupcakes)
7. Cool well before frosting

Frosting
Ingredients:
2 T flour
1 c milk
1 c sugar
2 sticks butter
1 t vanilla

Directions:
1. Cook flour and milk together in microwave until very thick, stirring frequently – will be like a gummy paste
2. Cool the flour and milk – must be cold before adding to remaining ingredients
3. Cream sugar, butter, and vanilla together until really fluffy
4. Add in the flour/milk and mix until it is the texture of whipped cream

Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
½ stick butter (room temperature)
1 t vanilla
1 box powdered sugar

Directions:
Beat cream cheese and butter well
Add sugar in stages and continue to mix
Add vanilla

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese!


To say I was a picky eater growing up would be an understatement, and I will not lie that some of those habits are still present today. However, if you were to join my father for a meal out you will see the apple does not fall far from the tree. The pivotal moment in my life was the first time I ate my grandmother’s macaroni and cheese. Up until then I maintained the only macaroni I liked was the blue box type with powdered cheese. My stubbornness prevented me from trying the “real” stuff; therefore I am eternally grateful to my grandmother for making me take a bite.

From that day on, it became common knowledge that I expected her to make macaroni for every family or holiday meal, and I certainly did not like to share with others. Once she became ill I knew the task was upon me to grow up and make macaroni and cheese on my own. This was a great plan until I realized my grandmother never used recipes. I believe this to be the start of my love of cooking, even though time in the kitchen with my mom from a young age had already provided me with a passion for baking. 15 years and many variations later, I am still comparing my macaroni and cheese to the memory of my beloved grandmothers.

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
(I too don’t follow a recipe, but I have done my best to provide measurements as a starting point)

Ingredients:
16 oz elbox macaroni noodles
3T butter
3T flour
3 cups milk
1 t salt
2 cups cheddar cheese

Directions:
1. Cook macaroni noodles according to package (I often make things difficult and only cook 3/4 of the box, but might as well go ahead and make it all).
2. In microwaveable bowl, melt butter. Add flour and salt then whisk together. Microwave for about 20 seconds



3. Pour in 3 c. milk, whisk, then microwave for 2 minutes. Remove and whisk, continuing to cook at 2 minute intervals until mixture thickens. (You know it is thickening up when you take it out of microwave and see bubble in middle like picture below) The final result is called a "bechamel" sauce.


4. Using a large casserole dish, combine macaroni noodles with cheese (reserving some to sprinkle on top).
5. Pour béchamel sauce over noodles and stir to combine. If you like a thick macaroni and cheese leave as is. If you like a creamy end result, add in a little extra milk (I always pour it into the microwave bowl to mix it with the remnants of the béchamel). If you think you added too much milk, just bake it a little longer as it will magically absorb.



6. Sprinkle reserved cheese on top.


7. Bake at 350 until cheese is melted and dish is bubbly (at least 20 min, probably no more than 30).

Welcome!

Welcome to my first blog! I look forward to using this space to share my favorite recipes and the stories behind them.