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28 May 2015

#TBT

Yep...it's ThrowBack Thursday on the blog today.

And, while we won't be going too far back, the cakes, cupcakes, and other goodies on today's post will all be from April.

Not April of some past year, but April of this year.  (See I told you we weren't going way back...if we do that it'll be on a Wednesday so we can #WBW).

Yes, I've been slacking on posting photos of the creations, but in my defense, May is a SUPER busy month for me, as I'm sure it is for you as well.  Speaking of May, suppose I ought to start working on photos and a post or two for that as well.  Just don't hold your breath, it will be well into June before we get to that point...

Let's get started with our stroll back through April, shall we?

26 May 2015

Gleaming Grill Grates


The unofficial start of summer was yesterday - that also means the start of grilling season!  Did you use your grill yesterday?  If so, did you clean the grates?

Some tips when cleaning your grill grates:
  • Use a ball of aluminum foil after grilling to help loosen any larger food pieces that may have stuck to the grates.
  • While the grill is pre-heating, use a grill brick or wire brush to scrub the grates and further loosen any particles that might have been left behind from the previous cooking.
  • If desired, oil your grates during the pre-heating stage.
  • Blackened grill grates are actually a good thing (even though you may want to have shiny metal ones) - that baked on black coating protects the grates seasoning between grilling sessions and helps prevent rust.
Mmm...tasty!



19 May 2015

Perfect Purple Buttercream


"I want purple buttercream."  Those are words I dread hearing, not because I don't like the color purple, it's a perfectly fine color, it's just that I dread making purple buttercream.  It's such a finicky color and I can never seem to get a "good" purple using just violet or purple gel colors.  And, then there's the issue of it fading (you can find out more about that here).

So, what to do to get a pretty, perfectly purple buttercream?  Something I've found that helps is using milk (see the fading issue above) rather than water and starting with a mix of blue and PINK gel colors.  Yes, we were taught in school that blue and red make purple, but in this case the red tends to be to dark giving you a gray-ish tone.  The pink keeps it brighter, giving you a better purple!  Once you have a nice purple using the mix of blue and pink, you can add additional purple or violet gel to help deepen the color if necessary.

So, remember when it comes to buttercream - blue and pink make purple!

Mmm...tasty!


12 May 2015

Gingery Goodness



You probably know that ginger is a good tummy tamer, but it's also chock-full of healing compounds that help with all kinds of ailments, from colds and fever to pain and inflammation, so when in doubt, have some ginger.

Which type to pick though?

  • Fresh ginger lends the freshest flavor.  When purchasing, pick fat, firm "fingers" with smooth, shiny skin.  Prep it using a spoon to scrape off the skin then grate the flesh, slice into coins, or mince.  Store whole ginger in the crisper in a zip-top bag, use within a few days.  If you need to keep it longer, store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.  (Freezing also makes it easier to grate!)
  • Ground ginger.  Potent spice used often in desserts (gingerbread for example).  Try it in soups, stews or marinades.
  • Pickled ginger.  Paper thin sheets often used in sushi, but you can also try them in salads and fried rice.
  • Candied ginger.  Chop these chewy, sweet-hot slices and add to cookie dough or brownie batter or sprinkle them over ice cream.  You can also eat them plain!
Need a quick dipping sauce?  Try mixing chopped ginger with rice vinegar, soy sauce, scallions, and sesame oil.

Or how about a sweet side?  Try simmering sliced carrots with butter, chopped ginger, sugar and enough water to just cover the carrots.  Cook, covered, until carrots are tender and glazed.

Mmm...tasty!

05 May 2015

Ramekin Re-Use


Ramekins aren't just for creme brulee; they can be used for a host of fare.  For example:
  • Use it to portion munchies:  a 4-oz ramekin holds exactly one 1/2 cup serving of ice cream or fill it halfway full with almonds and cranberries for a 150 calorie snack.  And, an even better aspect to using a ramekin in this way - studies have shown that using a smaller dish can trick your brain into being satisfied with fewer calories.
  • Build mini meals:  make individual serving pot pies, mac and cheese, lasagna, cookie sundaes, etc using ramekins.  You can often freeze the mini meal in the ramekin, then just take it directly from the freezer to the oven to the table.  Perfect for those days you just need a single serving or two.
  • Use a colorful ramekin as a salt cellar on the table.
  • Ramekins also make excellent storage vessels in other rooms of the house - use to store paperclips in the desk drawer, as a catchall for bobby pins, rings or earrings, even as a tealight holder.
Mmm...tasty!