Saturday, April 10, 2010

Strawberry Almond Streudel

My mother in law and I have a great relationship! We have become close friends over the last year of living near each other. I count on her for help with Lily and to just hang out many times. I believe she counts on me for the same type of friendship I've grown to cherish from her. We go shopping together, we watch movies together, we make menus together, we have even been known to go on morning walks together. I am so lucky to have this woman in my life. She seems to feel the same about me. Until I step into her kitchen that is...

My dear mother in law is what I call a "clean freak." Some call her "anal." Others call her obsessive. Whatever description or adjective she is given, it doesn't change the fact that she loves her house clean, neat, and orderly at all times. This is why, when I (the infernal clutz that I am) walk into her kitchen, I hear the sharp intake of breath coming from her because she knows what is coming....a mess.

I am by no means a clean, neat, or orderly cook. In general I tend to leave things lying about the house because I forget about them. However, I take my mess making skills seriously when I'm in the kitchen. I will stir sauce in a pot and slop some over the side. I drop cheese on the floor when making an omelet. And don't get me started on bread crumbs! It takes sheer talent to make the type of kitchen messes I am able to produce.

So naturally, when I told her about this "treat" I wanted to make for the family, I heard the weariness in her voice when she slowly said "oookkkkaaaayyy." I saw the look of pure horror in her eyes when she glanced from me, to her immaculate kitchen, then back to me.

Fortunately for me, the things I make are always delicious. So she ends up forgiving me and my disorderly technique of culinary artistry when she takes that first heavenly bite of whatever it is I've prepared that day...of course, she can't take that bite until she has successfully decontaminated her kitchen. (The poor thing literally follows me around with a rag in one hand and a towel in the other).

Well, my luck did not fail me when I prepared this amazing strawberry almond streudel. Looking at the blogs it was derived from, I've seen it called a coffee cake and a braid. But I find it to be more like a streudel. This recipe can be either a brunch/breakfast treat or a sweet ending to a great meal. Many options are available to modify this recipe to your own taste buds, just look in the jelly/preserve aisle at your favorite grocery store. I enjoy strawberry (of course) so that's the direction I took. Enjoy!

Strawberry Almond Streudel
Recipe adapted from Willow Bird Baking 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces best quality cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves (or your favorite flavor)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In large bowl mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until thoroughly mixed. 
  2. Cut butter and cream cheese into flour mixture using a pastry blender, knife.
  3. Gently blend in the milk and almond extract.
  4. Turn dough onto slightly floured surface and knead VERY LIGHTLY, about 4 or 5 strokes. (NOTE: Do not overwork the dough or things will go terribly wrong. The dough will still look a bit rough but that's the way it's supposed to be.)
  5. On a sheet of waxed paper, roll dough into an 8-inch by 12-inch rectangle.
  6. Turn dough onto lightly greased baking sheet and remove waxed paper.
  7. Lengthwise, mark dough into thirds. Spread preserves down center of dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch between the marks on each side and the preserves.
  8. Make 2 3/4 inch diagonal marks about 1 inch apart along both of the long sides of the dough. (Do not cut into the jam filled center.)  Fold the diagonal strips of dough from one side, then the other, in a rotating manner, over the preserves.
  9. Bake for about 12-15 minutes until dough is cooked through and top is a golden brown.
  10. Mix the icing by sifting the powdered sugar into a small glass bowl, add the milk, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until icing is smooth and runny. Drizzle over the top of the streudel and top with almond slices before icing sets. Serve and enjoy.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Tomato Soup at Sunset

A friend of mine recently had lap band surgery and has been on clear liquids for the last three weeks. Finally she was able to eat slightly more solid food. So I made her some homemade tomato soup. I don't have any pictures of the step by step instruction but I can tell you that this soup was souper good! LOL!

All the ingredients were fresh and ripe. I had never made homemade tomato soup before but it was surprisingly easy and it turned out delicious.

I served mine with a dollop of ricotta cheese, some fresh ground pepper and I crushed a few Ritz crackers onto the top (which I don't have a picture of).

While I was making the soup, Little Butt was eating dinner and talking to me. The next thing I know, I look over and...

The poor thing had fallen asleep eating dinner. I had to pick her up and go lay her down on the couch where she took a good nap. What a good little helper she was!

Anyway. Here's the recipe. I got it from a Good Housekeeping Soups & Stews cookbook:

  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • garlic clove, crushed with garlic press
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into pieces
  • 1 can (14 to 14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth (I used low sodium broth)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup water
  • snipped chives (optional)
  1. Melt butter in 5-quart Dutch oven over low heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot and cook until tender (about 10 minutes). Stir in garlic and thyme and cook for an additional minute.
  2. Add tomatoes, broth, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and water; heat until boiling over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 45 minutes. Tomatoes will break up and mixture will thicken slightly. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
  3. Spoon 1/3 of mixture into blender and puree until smooth. Place in separate bowl and repeat with the rest of mixture 1/3 at a time. 
  4. Soup can be refrigerated and served cold or placed back in Dutch oven to reheat and serve hot. Sprinkle with chives immediately before serving, if desired.
Each serving (1 cup): About 80 calories, 3g protein, 13g carbohydrate, 3g total fat (2g saturated), 4mg cholesterol, 405g sodium (unless you use low sodium broth).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An Easter Post

Easter was fun. This was the first year that I actually decided to celebrate the holiday the correct way for Little Butt. The way my mom always did it was: we would color eggs the night before Easter. We would do dozens of eggs because there were so many people in the house. We would leave our baskets and the eggs on the table and the Easter Bunny would come after we had gone to sleep and hide the eggs and leave candy and presents in our baskets. So that's what happened.

Little Butt put all her eggs in the basket.

She was very gentle with them and made sure they each had their own place.

Little Butt's Easter basket full of goodies.

Here she is with "Princess Aurora" watching The Princess and the Frog.

I also made some fun Easter cupcakes. I made lemon cupcakes (lower fat using applesauce instead of oil) and a homemade lemon butter cream frosting. They were pretty yummy and cute!

Peeps as far as the eye can see!

And finally, my little kitchen helper! I thought he was totally cute with all the colorful jelly beans inside so I snapped a pic!

Scentsy, cake truffles, and more...

My friend Wendy hosted a Scentsy party. So naturally, there being an event and all, I decided I would make a cake. I had posted that I was going to make a Banana Bourbon layer cake but I decided I wanted to try something a little more "advanced" with cake decorating instead. I decided to try my hand at Bakerella's cake truffle ball gift box for the party. I had saved scraps from my Up cake and the St. Patrick's Day Chocolate Stout Cake. I also bought a box mix of red velvet cake and ended up making two little cakes with a bunch of cake truffle balls. They are a lot harder than they look and some are pretty ugly but I'm happy with my first attempt at this gorgeous cake idea.

This was the second cake I made, after getting all the kinks out. Although, I tore the fondant when I tried to stuff the top with too many truffles.

My sad little first, trial and error cake.

That's a lot of cake! (sorry about the crappy pix quality)

Truffles were covered with either a vanilla candy or milk chocolate coating. Toppings were candy sprinkles, coconut flakes, and praline crunch. Delicious!

Now for the random kid pix:

Lily butt "smiling" for the camera!

Her friends show up in the most random places.

She told me "thank you" after I took this pix.
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