Running Back to Basics & Avoiding the Chaos

So after a hefty hiatus, I’m back! Hopefully, I’ll be more consistent with my updates now that I’ve got my handy, dandy ipad. I’ve spent the majority of my off-blogging time caught up staying afloat in my classes.

This week I’ve been a little weirded out by old “friends” coming back to haunt me. When I was younger I spent a lot of my time making sure I spent quality time with all of my friends, to the point of personal exhaustion. As I’ve gotten older, I have TOTALLY reevaluated the importance of alone time. Not that I have anything particularly important to do, but I would like the opportunity to lay around like a sack of potatoes if I wish to. As I spent more quality time with myself, figuring out my identity and what I wanted in life, my view of certain people shifted. Well, I should say people who hold certain personality characteristics. Rarely….rarely…can I keep my mouth shut if someone is just spewing nonsense everywhere. My mom has tried to pass down her mastery of ignoring others, but I was never able to pick it up. I’m a firm believer that whatever you put out in the world is what you deserve to get back. So arguments with pals are bound to come up. I’ll admit I didn’t always play fair, but now-a-days I tend to avoid ultimatums unless absolutely necessary. Usually bringing up something that bothers me in a non-confrontational way works just fine. However, there are those moments when you have a all out brawl. Now how in the world do you come back from that? I’ve always seemed to be able to hold on to grudges longer than others, but is that so horrible? I don’t think its such a terrible thing to have a defined sense of right and wrong, of justice. So when two friends go without talking for months after a serious argument, the friendship is over right? Or so I thought. When someone approaches you with apologies and promises of change, how is someone supposed to react? Well, my reaction with surprisingly…lukewarm. You know when you’ve been waiting for a text all freaking day long, so every ping gets you leaping off the couch, but when you get to your phone its not the message you were waiting for? Yup, that’s the feeling I got when I look to see five pages of blah, blah, blah. On the one hand, obviously on some base level anything anyone has to say is important. People want to feel as though they’ve been heard and respected. On the other hand I have been so wrapped up in doing what I want to do for a change that I really didn’t have a second to remember you existed. So how do I relay, “thanks, but no thanks” to your heartfelt novel without seeming like a huge jackass? One of these awkward besties interventions is enough, but multiples? Time to bake. So stay tuned for my trying-to-forget-you treats!

Advertisements

Layered Lemons

I found recipe number 1 to use up my left over lemons. I had to look long and hard for something that required more lemon juice than zest. I was worried that the obviousness of the lemon would be overpowering, leaving a soggy, sour cake. I was totally wrong! The actual cake has a subtle vanilla twinge and there is only a light lemon flavor in the filling and frosting. Because I was forced to used a square pan, I had a shortage of frosting. I tried to cover the unseemly naked cake with strawberries, which added contrasting color and flavor. I think I’ll bring this cake back around for easter or during the summer. The recipe I tweaked from allrecipes.com didn’t really have a title so i’m calling it..

Layered Lemon Cake

Lemon Cake with Lemon Filling & Lemon Butter Frosting
Originial recipe yields: One 4 layer 8 inch cake 
 
 

Ingrediants

Cake –

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter (1 stick)

1 1/4 cups white sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup milk

 Filling –

1 tbsp grated lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (*I used abt 2.5 lemons)

1 tbsp cornstarch

6 tbsp butter

3/4 cup white sugar

4 egg yolks, beaten

Frosting –

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup  butter, softened

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp grated lemon zest

2 tbsp milk

* I added about 1/2 a pkg of strawberries for contrasting flavor & color

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8 inch round pans (I only had 1 available so I ended up settling for a square one). In a bowl mix together the flour, baking power, and salt. Then set aside.

Cake

2. In a large bowl, cream (beat) together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (abt 5 minutes). Then beat in each egg one at a time, then add the vanilla. Take your flour mixture and add it alternativly with the milk (add a little bit of one, then a little bit of the other). Combine well.

3. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Removed and allows to cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Then invert and allow to cool completely on the racks.

Filling

4.  In a medium saucepan, mix together the lemon zest, lemon juice, and cornstarch until smooth. Mix in butter (I zapped it in the microwave), sugar, and then bring to a boil over medium heat. Keep the mixture at a boil for 1 minute now stirring constantly.

In a small bowl, beat egg yolks with a wire whisk until smooth. Whisk in a small amount of the hot lemon mixture. Then, beating rapidly, add the egg mixture to the saucepan. Reduce heat to low; cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until thick.

5. Pour this mixture in a medium bowl, then press plastic wrap tightly around the stop to avoid filming while it cools. Cool to room temperature then place in the refrigerator for 3 hours (*I left it in for about 5 hours while I went to work, then nuked it in the microwave so it spread more easily).

Frosting

6. In a large bowl, mix confectioners’ sugar, butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest until smooth. Beat in milk and increase speed and continue to beat until light and fluffy.

Assembly
 

7. Using a long serrated knife, split each cake horizontilly, resulting in 4 layers (*I had 2 round and 2 square, but you should have 4 nicely matching round layers). Place 1 layer, cut side up, on the serving platter of your choice. Spread the first layer with half of the filling (the stovetop mixture). Add the second layer, then spread with 1/2 cup of frosting (I didn’t really measure, just used enough to cover). Add the third layer and spread with the remaining filling. Add final layer and frost the tops and sides with the remaining frosting. Refrigerate until time to serve.

* For the future: Having 2 square layers stretched the filling out too much. I either have to make more filling or use only circular pans. My frosting wasn’t soft enough so I should probably either add more milk or beat for a longer period of time.

Weekday Finds

I found a few new pieces from my impromptu visit to the mall one afternoon. I was glad that could find some of the styles I had been looking for. It was also good practice in the subtle art of self control. I had to stop myself from buying up the whole store.

20111117-003753.jpg

This shirt reminded me of Courtney Kerr’s outfit. While I liked that she pair it with the thick rimmed glasses I love, I’m not sure I am so daring.

20111117-003955.jpg
I found this shirt in brown and mustard. I was compelled to pick up something mustard since I saw Kourt Kardashian in that mustard cocktail dress. I know it’s not a color for everyone (my mom hated it) I think my tan skin gives me a little leeway.

20111117-004211.jpg

Not all of these are brand new but they are the “looks” I have been going on. I seem to have a favorite size, not too small and not too large. I usually gravitate toward medium-large, heavy, metal rings. The only shiny bits on me will be found on my fingers. Some rhinestones are allowed, but they must be offset by a pop of color. I like light pastel colors and bronze, slightly distressed metals. That mustache caught the corner of my eye and I had to snatch it up. I’ve seen a big increase in mustache art and jewelery lately.

Limoncello & a broken wrist

My wrist isn’t exactly broken, but It might as well be. I guess I didn’t think properly about how much effort it would take to zest 15 lemons without an actual zest-er. I had to resort to a peeler that has its fair share of use. Using my thumb to hold the utensil in place and my remaining digits to hold and peel the lemons, I managed to get enough for my first limoncello try!

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liquor, served chilled as an after-dinner “digestivo”. I first tried it at my grandmother’s house and thought it would be a good gift to give my aunts and uncle when they come over for Thanksgiving dinner. I finally settled on a recipe that called for 15 lemons and two 750 ml bottles of vodka. The reciepe calls for 100 proof vodka, but being on a college budget, I settled for 80 proof Absolute. I am going to add extra sugar and hopefully that will offset any lingering alcohol taste. I went in search of empty clear bottles to properly showcase my product and was totally frustrated by the lack of selection at my local stores. I had to choose between large plastic modern pitchers and glass wine decanter without lids. So instead I went to the internet and found these simple, vintage looking bottles for a just over $2 a bottle, excellent. So as I wait for those to arrive, I started on my concoction because it takes 10 day to finish the first step.

At the end of phase 1, I have come the relization that I now have to find something to do with these naked lemons.

Triple Berry Tart Break

Hard at work or hardly working? It’s been a little of both. However on my off time, I’ve managed to stumble upon quite the little treasure chest of desserts for the holidays. Of course there is no shortage of anything Christmas themed, but I don’t want to jump the gun. I love Thanksgiving and I believe it deserves its own time and affection. I haven’t been able to narrow it down so I suppose I will end up making a couple of desserts for the table.

In the mean time, my mother asked me to whip up a Triple Berry Tart for her book club meeting. Only problem being the recipe calls for a tart pan with a removable bottom, which we don’t own. My mom has never had any love for better-than-basic cook wear. Being the amazing daughter that I am I endeavored to help her out anyway and I was very pleased with the results.

 

Triple Berry Tart (Pie)

found myrecipes.com

Makes one 9 inch Pie

Ingredients

Ingredients:

1/2 (15 oz) package of refrigerated pie crust (*I used Pillsbury)

1 cup mascarpone cheese (abt 8 oz), room temperature (* I used Bel Gioioso)

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp grated lemon zest (or rind)

3/4 cup strawberries, quartered (*I used 2 cups)

1 pint (2 cups) raspberries

1 pint (2 cups) blueberries

1 pint (2 cups) blackberries

Directions:

1. Prepare pie crust according to the instructions found on the box. Instead of the bottomless tart pan I used a regular 9 inch pie pan and had absolutely no problems with sticking. Make sure you poke hole in the bottom and sides with a fork to avoid bubbles (mine had more than I would like). Bake in the oven (temp on the box) until golden brown (about 8 to 10 minutes). I immediately thought of a ritz cracker the second it popped out of the oven. Then I realized that I definitely need to figure out the proper way to put holes in the crust because the bubbling pulled the sides away from the pan. I also found the tucking and bending of the edges tedious and must find a more efficient way to achieve that look. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

2. In a large bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese, heavy whipping cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and grated lemon zest. Beat with an electric mixture at medium speed until stiff peaks form. At this point I checked the crust to make sure it wasn’t stuck to the pan. Spoon the cream mixture into the now cool crust, spreading evenly.

3. Gently combine the strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. I couldn’t find fresh raspberries so I had to settle for semi-solid frozen raspberries. Because I had less to work with I added more of the strawberries (they are my favorite) to fill out the pie. I also put the raspberries at the bottom to add red throughout the pie, but also to hide their mushy-ness.

Fin

*It can be assembled beforehand, refrigerated, and brought to room temperature before serving.

On the Screen

NATGEO TV

National Geographic Television always keeps me on my toes.

Frontier Force

Frontier Force follows officers as they patrol Montana and its dangerous wilderness.

Border Wars

 Border Wars follows officers as they attempt to stop those coming into the US illegally.

Rocket City Rednecks

Rocket City Rednecks is relatively new. A bunch of guys from the backwoods of Alabama finding solutions for all sorts of problems. Achieving these solutions always involves some sort of crazy adventure.

BRAVO TV

Corrodes the brain in a delightful sort of way.

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Any of the Real Housewives shows are part of my ‘guilty pleasures’ tv collection. Bravo follows a group of women in Beverly Hills through a slow motion train wreck.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey

Housewives of New Jersey definitely are the most drama filled of the bunch.

The Rachel Zoe Project

The Rachel Zoe Project follows stylist to the stars, Rachel Zoe, and her company behind the scenes.

Courtney & Kourtney

Courtney Kerr - Neutral with Gold/Bronze accents

Courtney Kerr - Simple with Silver/Mustard accents

Recently I have been drawn to natural, woodsy, colors, combined with sheer or light fabrics. I pair these with lots of gold and feathers. I take many of my idea from what catches my eye on others. Lately I have honed in Courtney Kerr & Kourtney Kardashian. Courtney Kerr is a fashion obsessed Dallas belle on Bravo’s Most Eligible Dallas  Season 1. She has a tumbler account, What Courtney Wore, which showcases her different outfits on the show.

She frequently pairs her outfits with large or ‘chunky’ necklaces. I am more fond of simple delicate necklaces, and larger bracelts.

Kourtney Kardashian - Neutral

Kourt Kardashian - Neutral with Gold accents

I believe Kourtney Kardashian is a more common household name thanks to her sister Kim Kardashian. Aside from any opinions on their E! Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s show, I am quite drawn to her sense of style. More neutral, block coloring, and polka dot prints than her sibling counterparts.

Kourtney does pair things such polka dots and cat prints and metallics in an odd manner, but I suppose she can pull that look off since she is a celebrity. I am not so quick to mix and match.

A Lull in the Month

Charlie's Happy Face

Growing up, I was always told that College would be the best time of my life. All of the little things didn’t matter because once you turned 18 and went to college, you were free. Liar, liar, pants on fire. High school was probably the peak of my efficiency. I had little responsibility that bled out past the school bell. Now, juggling work, school, friendships, and family relationships has taken its toll. To me, a month is a week, a week is a day, and every night I take a short nap. Lack of sleep has only aided my procrastination.

Rainy Day Visitors

Fortunately, I have had a light work week and feel like catching up. I have been forced inside because of the constant raining in the “Sunshine State”. My dog was pushed to destruction early on and frogs are getting plenty of use out of the doggy door. On one hand, my shoes, jeans, and dress bottoms have never been more damp. On another, I found great pieces at the mall! Recently I have been drawn to natural, woodsy, colors, combined with sheer or light fabrics. I pair these lots of gold and feathers.

My chocolate cake with warm Nutella in the middle were quite the success at my mother’s book club meeting. Pictures and recipe are coming soon to “The Kitchen”.

What Charlie's happy face means ....

Rain, Rain, Go Away…

The weather forecast is bleak. Rain, rain, and more rain all the way through Friday! It’s almost as though the sky is trying to make up for the drought of summer. I began my day with my everyday morning show, Elvis Duran & the Morning Show. I got close to finishing my first acrylic painting last night. I always feel a little sense of failure when upon unveiling a new project, the first question is, “what is it?”. Even though recognition and praise is quick to follow, I always feel a first reaction is a true reaction. Maybe I just need to work on the techniques and details that make a painting more realistic. Take a look.

I recently picked up the 7th book in my most recent series obsession, the Chronicles of Elantra. I enjoy that she lets her heroine, Kaylin, have a sarcastic, spit-fire attitude, while still saving the day, again and again. You can find more information on her and her works here. I must say that I do find her novels a bit wordy, but I am learning to appreciate that. I have a family absolutely FULL of readers. As I get older, I find myself skimming over more content than usual. Michelle’s way of leading the reader into understanding her sometimes abstract ideas, forces a calm pace and better imagery in my mind. The draw back, even though I do take more time with her books than any others, I am finished within four days. After four days of bliss, I am forced to wait a YEAR for her next installment. I have been forcing myself to set it aside and do other things just to draw the book out over a longer period of time. Highly frustrating for a lover of the series such as myself.

Michelle Sagara Elantra Series

You can tell these have been well used.

On another note, I plan on starting up ‘The Kitchen’ section as soon as I get off the couch and make it to the grocery store.

The Beginning of the End

Just part of my weekly shows

I usually filled my free time with an obnoxious amount of television, a bit of snacking, and a fair bit of sleeping. After a particularly slow DVR week, I set out to stumble upon something new. Up until this point the extent of my craftiness was restricted to some sketches and a couple of pictures using a point and shoot camera. I suppose this is my way of throwing together all of my latest endeavors in one location. Looking back at my projects and remembering the time I put in to them only pushes me to try even more. I believe this is the beginning of the end for my lazy, movie marathon days.