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29 September 2011

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

I haven't shared a recipe with you in a while, and since I don't have any cake photos to post right now, I figured today was the perfect day!  This recipe is courtesy of K, whose one of those cooks that doesn't believe in measuring ingredients or following a recipe - the complete opposite of yours truly!  Luckily, this approach, more often than not, results in some very tasty dishes, like this one, for instance...

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Printable Recipe
Courtesy of K
Yield will vary depending on tenderloin size
Average Yield: approx 4 servings
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Ingredients:
  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, julienned
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 roasted green chile, chopped (Roasting instructions, here)
Preparation:
  1. Cover part of a grill grate with aluminum foil, preheat grill to medium-low.  
  2. Butterfly tenderloin lengthwise.  Place jalapeno, onion, garlic, and green chile on one side of the loin.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Close the tenderloin, and wrap with the bacon.  (You may not need the entire pound of bacon, if not, save it for breakfast the next day!)  Secure the bacon with several toothpicks.
  3. Place loin on the aluminum foil on the grill.  Grill until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145°F.  Remove from grill and allow to rest for 3 to 5 minutes.  Slice into medallions, removing toothpicks as you plate each piece.
Delish!

27 September 2011

Lose the Fat


Not sure how to best dispose of the fat or grease from your last cooking adventure?  If the fat is bacon drippings, I would recommend keeping it for later use, but that's a Tasty Tip for another day.  (Throwing away all that useful goodness is almost sacrilege where I come from.)

However, if the fat is of the kind you would rather just toss (i.e. from ground meat, etc.), line a mug or bowl with aluminum foil, pour in the fat, and allow it to solidify.  Once the fat has set, just pull out the foil and discard.  Easy peasy!  And you won't have to worry about a clogged sink drain!

Mmm...tasty!




21 September 2011

Oh, Hex!

This is a 6 lb can of shortening.


Ok, well actually, it's a photo of a 6 lb can of shortening, but you get the idea.  Regardless, let's just say that this little ingredient is VERY important in most of my baking...particularly when it comes to cakes/cupcakes/etc.  And since it is so important, and I tend to plow through copious amounts of the stuff, I buy it in bulk.  We're talking 6 or more cans at a time...

Sooo...just imagine my horror, when the other day, I made several batches of icing, only to discover that they all tasted bad...off...just wrong, not sweet and sugary, but very blech.  We are talking horrible, nearly in-edible, spit it out, spit it out blech!  In fact, everything went to the garbage...the 3 batches of icing, the cakes I had previously filled, etc, etc.  Luckily, none of the product had left my kitchen. *Whew!*  But, upon reflecting, the only ingredient, other than powdered sugar, I had used in ALL the icing recipes was, yep, you guessed it, the shortening.

I immediately proceeded to open all the cans of shortening I had in my kitchen at the time...over 36 lbs of the stuff...only to discover, one after the other, that every single pound was unusable!

Oh, and did I mention that at the time I discovered this little "problem" that it was nearly 1 AM?  *Cue late night breakdown.*  Let's just say, sometimes the best thing a you can do is to let a problem lie for the night...it'll still be there in the morning.  And, ya know what?  It was!

But, I persevered and managed to get all the orders out on time, with only one exception.  Luckily, J was very gracious when I explained what had happened and assured me that receiving the cake a day later would still be perfectly fine!  So sweet of her, but I still felt horrible for failing to uphold my end of the deal...

Anyway, I had done a couple of things prior to the shortening crisis.  This fun grim reaper cake:

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And a few more cake pops:

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Post shortening fiasco, I started obsessively taste tasting everything.  I generally will sample small bits here and there anyway, but this was a whole new level.  I think I probably gained 5 lbs this past weekend alone!  What can I say, I was even more paranoid than usual that something less than tasty was going to leave my kitchen...precautions had to be taken!  

So, what all did I create with my fresh, new shortening supply? Well...some cupcake samplers:

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The one pictured here included red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing, white almond sour cream cupcakes with vanilla buttercream (& sprinkles!), and chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting and mini chocolate chips.

A ping pong themed, root beer float flavored cake:

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I was very worried about the net surviving transport, but it held up well.  K assisted on this cake by making the ping pong paddles...I'd say they turned out pretty darn good!

A Tow-Mater themed groom's cake:

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The cake was German chocolate; the coconut pecan icing worked wonderfully well for the desert decorations.  Tow-Mater was a topper provided by the client, but the rocks, cacti, and wagon wheel were all handmade...and edible,of course!  (K helped on this cake, too, by making the rocks and the wagon wheel.  I'll make a sous chef/baker of him yet!)

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3 dozen wedding cupcakes:

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These were all topped with strawberry buttercream, and handmade, edible cupcake toppers.  The monogram "M"s and hearts were hand piped using chocolate.  They were made to complement, though not exactly match, the wedding cake.

And, a hexagon shaped wedding cake:

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This was my first time to make a hexagon shaped cake...they are a pain in the kisser, but I love, love, love the look of them.  (Maybe I just need more practice...it makes perfect, after all!)  This cake was all buttercream, with hand piped scrolls, real ribbon borders, and fresh roses.  I was expecting to have a topper pre-made by the florist, but arrived at the venue only to discover that there was NO floral topper to be found.  Luckily, the florist was kind enough to bring me several stems of hot pink roses that I arranged around the monogram "M."  It was a fairly simple floral arrangement, but it added a beautiful pop of color to the cake to draw the eye.

Here's how the entire wedding cake/cupcake display looked when everything was completed:

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See you soon!

20 September 2011

The Perfect Sear


Next time you sear a piece of meat, remember to dry the surface of the cut with paper towels first.  This will help remove any excess moisture that would cause the meat to steam rather than sear.  And, in turn, patting the meat dry will help produce that gorgeous golden brown, crisp crust you are trying to achieve.  

Also, keep in mind that salt will draw moisture to the surface of the meat, so season it right before placing in the pan.

Mmm...tasty!

14 September 2011

Cake Pops & a Car Show

Cake pops have officially "made it" to my little corner of the world...or so it seems to me, anyway!  I've had several orders for these yummy little treats in the last week, no cakes though.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Cake Pops, they are crumbles of cake mixed with frosting, formed into shapes, placed on a lollipop stick, and then covered with candy coating.  They can be made in just about any flavor you can dream up, and if you're really ambitious, even just about any shape.  If you choose to go the route of interesting shapes, just be prepared for lots of failures...make plenty of extra!

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A few fun flower shaped Cake Pops for a Tinkerbell birthday party.

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Three dozen red and white Cake Pops for a carnival themed birthday party.  (These were white cake with buttercream, and chocolate cake with buttercream.)

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And, a few firefighter themed Cake Pops for my nephew's birthday party at school.  (I apologize for the picture quality, it was somewhere around 5:30 AM when I snapped this pic.  Sleep is overrated right?)  These were admittedly a headache from the get go and didn't turn out as well as I would have liked...odd shapes and all.  There are fire helmets, fire hydrants, and a few white pops drizzled with red candy coating...I will attempt the helmets and hydrants again, I know I can do better.  Practice makes perfect and all that jazz...

So, now that we have gotten the sugar taken care of, whose ready to see the cars?  

K and I attended the Hooker, OK car show last Saturday.  I've been attending for several years, and each year the show just gets bigger and better.  This year they had over 220 vehicles entered and absolutely perfect weather.  If you ever have the opportunity and are interested in cars, particularly classics, I would encourage you to attend...the setting, hospitality, and fun vibe of the event is hard to find anywhere else.

Here's just a few of the photos I took, and if you're like me, you'll find many of these cars drool worthy, so be sure to have a napkin or two handy...

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Pontiac Firebird & Ford Mustang...can I have both?

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Corvette convertible.  Best in Show Car for the 2nd year.  I'll take this one, please...

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"Yes, officer, please pull me over."

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Another classic Corvette convertible.  I'll take this one, too!

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There's just something about a vintage Chevy pickup...

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Chevelle SS, 396 engine.  Race ya?

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Workhorse.

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Love the wood beds in these pickups!

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Oh, the places I could go!

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Rubber duck on the dash...obviously it was meant to be...

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Gorgeous orange coupe.  And an OSU tag! These are my people!

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Sunny yellow Ford pickup.  Love the fat whitewalls and red rims!

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Plymouth GTX.  Probably my favorite of the show this year!
No power steering, but it did have power windows.
Who needs power steering anyway?  It was built to run straight and fast!
Photo courtesy of K.


Did you see anything you liked?  Oops, I think you may have a little drool on your chin.  Not there...over just a tad...there ya go, got it.  

Can't blame you, I'd have a garage full of them, if I could only afford it!  A girl can dream though!

13 September 2011

Uses for Baking Soda: Non-Toxic Oven Cleaner



Hate having to clean your oven?  Hate the fumes and scrubbing that come along with most oven cleaners?  Next time, nix the fumes and the scrubbing, and use baking soda to clean the oven!  Here's how:

If the entire oven needs to be cleaned, sprinkle a good layer of baking soda over the bottom, then take a spray bottle and spray with mix of equal parts vinegar and water.   (If you are just spot cleaning, make a paste of the ingredients in a bowl or cup and apply to the problem areas.) You're trying to achieve a paste-like consistency, so don't over apply the vinegar/water mix!  Allow the solution to set until it begins to appear dry, then wipe the mess away.  If burnt on food/splatters remain, reapply the solution and allow to set once again (you may have to do a little light scrubbing to fully remove stubborn stains).  Once you're finished applying the baking soda & vinegar/water mix, then take a clean, damp towel and wipe away any remaining white residue.  Voila!  A clean oven with minimal scrubbing and no harsh fumes!

Mmmm...tasty!

09 September 2011

No Cookie Cutter...

It started out simple enough.  I had a request for longhorn shaped sugar cookies.  No problem...I knew I didn't have a cookie cutter in that shape, but I have several contacts that I figured I could ask - just borrow one from them.

Nope.  Came up empty handed.  Hmm...what to do next?  

Well, I thought, "I could order a cookie cutter, similar to this, pay the outrageous shipping fee to get it here overnight, and then potentially only use it once."

Or...I could try to make my own cookie cutter, sounds easy enough.  Just get a metal cookie cutter and bend it to the shape I need.  "Yep," I said to myself, "I can do that."  So, I started out with something similar to this:


And ended up with something similar to this:


Actually, I think my attempt was worse, but I didn't think to get a picture of it before I threw it to the floor and stomped on it frustration.  I completed my cookie cutter cleansing by tossing the flattened piece of metal into the trash.  It made me feel better anyway.

On to plan "C"...make a stencil and then cut out the cookies ONE by ONE.  Then, after baking them, use the stencil again to cut out the rolled buttercream designs ONE by ONE.  It was a tedious process, but no one can claim the cookies are "cookie cutter," they each had their own little personality.  Believe me, I spent 4 hours cutting the darn things out...cajoling them to cooperate, pumping myself up to cut out just one more, cursing the broken horns (turns out this shape is rather fragile...who would of thought?), but I completed them!  I even had a few extra to pass on to some dear Sooner fans I know.

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Here's a few of the broken horn versions.  For some reason the Sooner followers seemed to prefer these over the others...and they had a tendency to turn them upside down as well...so odd... Hehe!  (Don't rant at me for not understanding what this is all about, believe me I do, I'm just being facetious.  After all, I'm an Oklahoma girl. And an Oklahoma State fan.)

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Luckily my hands and fingers survived the cookie cutting experience.  And since they did, I figured why not hand draw and decorate a few pretty ponies for a cake that took me back to my childhood days?  I remember playing with these toys...in fact, I believe they are still at my madre's house.  The nieces seem to be big fans of them, apparently they are a toy that doesn't go out of style.

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Everything on the cake is edible.  And, K even helped me color in several of the ponies...I think he secretly enjoyed it, even though he wouldn't admit it, even under duress.

Oh, and I also made some small cheesecakes.  They weren't anything fancy, but they received rave reviews. Now that I think about it, I should have kept a few for myself.  Lemon cheesecake, key lime cheesecake, original cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake...ooo, they all sound so good!  May have to try out the praline cheesecake this weekend...keep it all to myself!

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Go Pokes!

07 September 2011

l'artiste

Look up.  (Not at the ceiling, but at the top of the page.)  See that fancy new title bar?  With the amazing artwork?

Look up a little further.  See the new favicon next to the website address?  (If your using Chrome as your browser, it'll be located on the tab.)

These lovely pieces of artwork are not my creations.  They were made for me by my wonderfully talented niece, Pax.  In fact, she made an entire series of baking/cake themed drawings for me.  I loved them all, and while I've currently only found uses for the two you see today, I don't plan to keep the others hidden away.  I'll find perfect uses for them when the time is right.

Since the favicon is so small, here's a larger version of it.  Some of you might also recognize this piece as the watermark I use on my photos...just in a black and white version.


Pax also writes a blog, which you can find here.  It is an excellent source of inspiration, fun, and random reasons.  You can view some of her other artwork via her blog as well.

Oh, and she is the founder of the Rock the Sock - a non-profit organization that donates socks to those in need.  You can find out more about the organization here.

As l'artiste would say...it's the random reasons.


06 September 2011

Odor Out - Stainless Steel


Next time you've indulged in a plate of fresh crab or have just finished finely chopping fresh garlic and onion for your latest culinary masterpiece, grab a stainless steel utensil.*  

Why?  Because rubbing your hands over stainless steel will help remove the lingering odor these items often leave behind.  You may need to apply the method more than once if the odor is particularly strong.  And of course, be sure to wash your hands with warm water and soap afterwards!  

*If you have a stainless steel sink, it will work as well, or you can purchase a stainless steel "soap bar"...though most of us have plenty of stainless steel in our kitchens already.

Mmm...tasty!