Archive for June, 2010

An Ode to Eclipse & Red Velvet Cake

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

A few housekeeping items before we get started…

1. If the thought of Twilight makes you cringe, skip to the pictures, and just look at the recipe. This red velvet cake is amazing – so moist, turns out perfectly, and the cream cheese icing is to die for. (Pun intended.)
2. I’ve never been very good at resisting peer pressure.
3. I never planned to read Twilight or watch the movies. Zero desire. Alas, see #2.  And now I’m obsessed. I’m so obsessed that I can’t even find it in myself to be embarrassed about the rest of this post.
4. Yes, I do realize that Twilight was written for “young adults,” aka, not 24-year-old professionals. My mom, brother, and boyfriend remind me of this daily. Too bad.
5. If you are appalled that I am posting an ode to Twilight, rest in comfort that you are not the only one. My mom, bless her heart, can’t wait for me to see the movie “so that this will all be over.” HA! There’s two more movies coming, mom! (Joke’s on her.)

I’ve been literally counting down the days until June 30. I’ve watched the trailer at least 100 times. I’ve re-read the book. And then, in a strange twist of fate (a mean joke really), I found out that I would be traveling on opening day.
Yep – I’m on a 6am flight out of Austin, and I return at 11pm the same day. Just in time to miss all the action. And let’s be honest – I’m not 13 anymore, I can’t just go to the midnight premiere and then pull an all-nighter. Clients aren’t into the whole “look like death” thing. (Although, I know who would be…cough, cough, Edward.)
Needless to say, I was upset. And, I tend to bake when I’m upset. But, the recipe had to be fitting, and this Red Velvet Cake fits the bill perfectly. Cake that’s red like blood; icing that’s white like a vampire’s skin…bingo! I’m in! 

Gather Up:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 oz. red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans.

Lightly stir eggs in a medium bowl with a wire whisk. Add remaining liquid ingredients and stir together with a whisk until blended. Set aside. Place all your dry ingredients in your mixing bowl, and stir together with another wire whisk.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high speed for about a minute or until completely combined.

Split the batter evenly, and pour into cake pans.

Drop the pans on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. After about 10 minutes, remove from pans, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Side note: They kind of look like two red vampire eyes, don’t they? Like the eyes of the newborn army.

While the cakes are cooling, whip up the cream cheese icing.

Gather Up:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups confectioners’ sugar

Sift the sugar, and set aside.

Beat cream cheese and butter on high until creamy.

Add vanilla.

Then, add the sugar in batches. Scrape down the sides in between each addition.

Annnd…cream cheese icing!

Stack the cakes, and frost away. Then, cut yourself a big piece, and settle in for a Twilight movie marathon (if you haven’t already) before you head to the midnight showing. Just don’t rub it in…I’m having a hard enough time as it is.

And because I’ve never had a chance to publicly take sides before, I’ll do it now. I’ve been Team Edward since book one. (And don’t worry, I’ll be at the IMAX theater Thursday night with Kate who volunteered to wait to see it with me. Lylas. No, seriously.)

Recipe from Bakerella.

Campfire Cornbread

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

So Ur Mom went camping once…actually it was in a motorized camper…ok, it was a RV… And it was my 50th birthday and I can only explain my desire to do this by saying that I was having a weird “dust-to-dust” moment as I comprehended that half of my life is over… So out to the “dust” I went.

Lest you judge this tenderfoot camping experience too harshly, let me offer that my birthday is in July, I live in Texas amid scorching waves of heat and I have 3 grown children who demand certain comforts on their vacations! And Ur Dad was easily swayed by the air conditioning feature of our, ahem… vehicle.

Anyway, it was a totally “unique” experience… We met my sister and her family in their even larger vehicle… And we absolutely had one sublime moment that totally made the entire thing completely worthwhile… (And turned out to be exactly the “dust to dust” moment I was seeking…)

Each night we sat at our campfire roughly 100 yards from the Guadalupe River looking across a grassy slope toward the water. At river’s edge were massive trees – mature, spreading, gigantic oaks that were way older than me…

Each night the stars were there, the moon was shining and we gratefully sat in the dark enjoying the lack of blazing heat on our heads. And each night a herd of roughly 100 deer, led by 5 massive bucks, walked along the river while we sat silent and not daring to move. Two bucks came ahead of the herd by a few minutes and three bucks followed after the herd by about fifteen minutes. Awesome. Splendor.

I imagine they could smell the remnants of our dinner – chicken or ribs on the grill – duh! But as vegetarians maybe they were more intrigued by the side dishes (that we prepared in a full kitchen just steps away…) Like this cornbread. Which I cooked in an oven… Ur Mom has her limits…

Gather Up:       
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a heavy 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, butter and honey.

Add the wet to the dry and stir until just mixed.

Bake 20 – 24 minutes until golden and toothpick comes out clean.

You will luv this cornbread!

Not a thing changed in recipe from Gina Neely, Neely’s Bar-B-Que.

Cherry Chocolate Milkshake

Monday, June 21st, 2010

I don’t own an ice cream maker, so when I want to make an ice cream treat at home, I will often blend up a milkshake! It gives me that homemade taste and can be made instantly. (I am never without Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla.)

Plus, I am a pro at milkshakes. My first job was at McDonald’s, and my job was making milkshakes! (Yes, seriously.) Back in the day even McDonald’s milkshakes were made on a milkshake machine when you ordered them, using syrup, milk and ice cream.

So I have always known – to my horror – that sticky flavored bottled syrups make the best milkshakes! Pureed or liquefied ingredients in their natural state just don’t deliver the same intense yummy flavor. You end up with more of a smoothie, which is fine in its own right, but not when what you are craving is a milkshake concoction!

So what to do? Chocolate is a no-brainer. This is my favorite easy chocolate sauce! The cherry part took a little thinking… Chunks of fresh cherry will not pass through a straw… No such thing as cherry extract…

My decision was to take fresh cherries and give them the Rose Beranbaum treatment from The Cake Bible. With one modification — I pureed the cherries to within an inch of their lives before I dumped them in the saucepan with the other goodies. The result was a pretty amazing cherry syrup/sauce that I immediately blended into a milkshake with some chocolate and some ice cream. After a couple tries (no complaining over here!), the proportions are fabulous!

Gather Up:
3 cups pitted cherries
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoon corn starch
Pinch salt
1/8 teaspoon almond extract 

And once you’ve made the cherry sauce…
One batch Homemade Chocolate Sauce
Vanilla ice cream
Splash of milk

Wash and pit the cherries. You will be much happier if you use a cherry pitter. This is an inexpensive one and is worth every penny!

Put them in the pulverizing machine of your choice and be merciless!

Pour the puree into a saucepan and add the sugar, corn starch and salt.

Cook until thick and bubbly over medium heat, watching closely and stirring often. Simmer for about 1 minute.

Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Cool and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, in another saucepan make the chocolate sauce.

In a blender, add 4 generous scoops of ice cream, ¼ cup of cherry sauce and 2 ½ tablespoons of chocolate.

Do an initial blend, then scrape down sides and add a splash of milk for a smooth consistency. (The jimmies are up to you, but we HIGHLY recommend them…)

To avoid the dreaded ice cream milkshake headache, sip slowly…

Summer Heaven Veggie Sandwich

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

(Or otherwise known as: The Sandwich Which is God’s Compensation for the Heat in Texas…)

And sweet compensation is it! It’s no small matter to taste the broiling sun in the juice of a tomato, or to sense the coolness of the shade coming off an eggplant, or to brush clumps of local grit off an onion… And peppers! Don’t get me started on the green ones, the yellow ones, the orange ones, the long ones, the fat ones, all of them defying the scorching sun by growing bigger and bigger and producing more and more!!!

So we revel in the moment of it all. We miss this sandwich. We wait for this sandwich. We discuss how the winter was rainy so probably the summer will be cooler. But overwhelming waves of heat come. They always do. We complain and we head for the shade and the evening cool, which in Texas, never comes.

But just when heat stroke threatens us from every direction in rolls the first huge crop of summer veggies! And all of a sudden all is right with the world! It is summer. Our mouths are full of tomatoes. Peppers sit waiting to be blackened and chopped into salsa. And there are sandwiches for dinner! Just right. Fresh. Wonderful. Go on. Give in to it. U know u want to!

Gather Up:
1 eggplant, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 ciabatta, lightly toasted
2 cups assorted peppers of your choice
2 tomatoes, sliced
1 red onion
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil. Place eggplant slices and red onion slices on the foil. Brush them with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip each of the slices, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake for another 10 minutes. 

Slice peppers, and saute until tender crisp.

Cut the ciabatta into sections, and slice in half for sandwiches.

Remove grilled veggies from the oven…

…and pop the ciabatta in! Brush each of the sandwiches halves with olive oil, and sprinkle with garlic salt. They should be lightly toasted in about 5 minutes.

Crumble feta cheese, and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper. Spread feta cheese mixture on one side of the ciabatta.

Place eggplant slices, red onions and peppers on top of the feta.

Top with tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper.

Welcome to Summer Heaven…we’re glad you could join us!

Adapted from recipes by Zinc Cafe and Market in Laguna Beach, CA and Shady Grove right here in Austin, TX.

Homemade Chocolate Sauce

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

I love my mom. Bless her heart – she deals with me on a daily basis, and I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s not always easy. I’m a little high-strung. (To be fair, she made me this way.) Anyways – as it turns out, anxiety is not the only thing I inherited. I have a deep, unwavering love for ice cream, courtesy of my momma, who ate ice cream EVERY SINGLE NIGHT for the 9 months she was preggers with me. In case you didn’t catch it, that was – Every. Single. Night. It practically runs in my blood.

We keep vanilla ice cream in the freezer always. But when the organic food movement swept our house, things started to go missing. Things like Hershey’s Syrup. I’m not one to complain (much), and I decided to let the chocolate syrup issue slide, for a while at least. But, I bottle my emotions. Kind of like the way Hershey’s bottles that syrup, and I knew things would come to a head sooner or later.

The other night I got home from work, and I was more stressed than usual. I didn’t want dinner. I just wanted ice cream, and I wanted chocolate on top. Do you see what’s coming? Annnnd, cue the irrational fit. Luckily, at the precise moment that I was about to stomp my little kitten heel, the clouds parted, and my mom emerged with recipe in hand. “I know, Ellen. Let’s just make some. We can do it together. It will be fun.”

And you know what? It was. And it was delicious. WAY better than the bottled stuff. Hot, homemade chocolate sauce + fresh strawberries + vanilla ice cream = Bliss.

Gather Up:
3/4 cup cocoa powder, sieved (dutch process if available)
1 pinch kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine cocoa powder, salt, sugar and 1 cup of water in a medium saucepan.

Mix well.

Bring to a boil.

Let simmer for 5 minutes, or until chocolate sauce is smooth and glossy. Stir occasionally.

Tip: Another good way to relieve stress is to practice your knife skills. (I’m kidding. Kind of.) Go ahead and chop up some fresh strawberries while your chocolate sauce is simmering.

When the chocolate sauce is smooth, transfer it to a bowl or pitcher. Add the vanilla and stir it in. You’ll have leftover sauce, so you may want to move it to something you can keep it in. (Extra sauce should keep in the fridge, covered, for a week.)

Time to assemble your sundae! Scoop yourself some ice cream, and top it with fresh strawberries.

And then pour on the chocolate sauce! You’ll know if the consistency is right because the sauce should be silky smooth. It reminds me of that chocolate river in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…

You know what they say…chocolate releases endorphins, which makes us happy. Therefore, chocolate makes us happy. And let’s face it – who doesn’t need a little happy at the end of the day?!

Welcome to Like Mother Like gal, stay at home mom, college student. Just 3 girls who love to eat and are dedicated to doing it the old-fashioned way! Plan, shop, cook, bake, clean, sleep, repeat. Hope you enjoy - we are so glad you are here!
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