Sunday, April 20, 2014

What's been going on?

 Happy Easter!
I have some updates on the adventures of Jack and Willow...

Willow was spayed on Thursday and she also was officially checked out by the vet. She doesn't have Heartworms (YAY!). The vet didn't really have a guess on her age, except that she is under a year old, or what type of dog she is (we will just continue to classify her as a goofball, LOL.) She is most likely a hound and labrador mix, but if you have any guesses, PLEASE share :-).

I'm pretty sure she is feeling better today and I think the main reason for this is because she is back with the rest of the pack. The first couple of days after her surgery, we had her in the kitchen away from the other dogs to let her recover. She protested by not eating much of her food and acting extremely sad. Mom thought that maybe she was upset and wanted to be with the other dogs. So, we let her in with everybody else and guess what? She ate her food! :-) She did really good with not chewing on her incision site, so she did not have to wear the cone of shame.

Do you want to know the best news? On Easter we received word that she has an adoption application! Someone wants to adopt her!! So, I hope it gets approved. She is such a sweet girl and will be someone's very best friend!

On the Saturday before Easter, we took Jack to an adoption event with Bailey's Arms (we would have taken Willow, but she was recovering from surgery.)

He did very well... No, he did AWESOME! He enjoyed soaking up all of the attention, loving every minute. He did well with the other fosters that were there as well as little kids that he isn't exposed to every day. It was a good socialization experience for him. He didn't get any adoption applications, but a lot of people were very interested in him. So, we'll keep our paws crossed that the right family comes along for him to rescue.

And hey, you have to start somewhere. For Jack's first adoption event he was awesome-sauce! And we'll do it again in a few weeks.... at a dog bakery!!!!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Chocolate Tart

So, you have just encountered a Dementor, you were able to cast the Expecto Patronus Charm, but the Dementor zapped your energy a bit and you feel sad. The perfect way to combat these side effects is with a slice of this gorgeous Chocolate Tart!

The filling:
The filling is pretty much chocolate ganache, with 2 eggs. The eggs help the filling form a solid consistency, instead of a liquid consistency. This is a tart filling that bakes with the crust.

  • 11/4 cup whipping cream
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
First, you put the whipping cream in a sauce pan to simmer. While its simmering, it's a good time to crack the eggs in a heatproof bowl. Meanwhile, occasionally stir the whipping cream so that it doesn't form a film on top.

Pretty much ganache

Once the whipping cream is simmering, turn the heat off, and add the chocolate, just like you're making ganache. When the chocolate is incorporated, slowly add it to the eggs - like with pastry cream. Make sure you keep mixing it so that you don't cook the eggs and everything is nice and smooth.

Chocolate/egg mixture

The crust recipe I used was the same one for the Pastry Cream Tart. That crust is baked in two phases: 15 minutes with foil on top, and then 12 minutes without the foil. 

This time, since the filling has to cook with the crust, the crust gets 15 minutes in the oven with the foil and then when you take the foil off, you pour the chocolate filling in the crust. You'll bake it until only the center of the tart is a little wiggly, which is about 18 to 20 minutes. Just please be careful when you put it in the oven... the filling moves very easily and could spill out.

Once it's done, let it chill for 10 minutes. Then take the tart ring off, and let it chill in the fridge.... Depending on how patient you are, let it chill for at least an hour, but more is better for a firmer texture.

My Thoughts:
This was even better than the Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake. It was good warm (because you know, when it comes to chocolate it's alright to be too impatient to wait) because it was creamy like the Pastry Cream Tart. But it was GORGEOUS when it cooled completely. In fact, when it's completely cooled it needs to be cut into smaller pieces because it is so rich.... In fact, it's a lot like a chocolate truffle candy wrapped in a sugar cookie. It truly is delicious!

This gets 5 out of 5 cat whiskers :-)
Recipe adapted from here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pastry Cream Tart With Fresh Fruit

 I am so proud of myself about this one. I made a tart with pastry cream... and I didn't mess up! Not only that, but it tasted pretty good too!

Now, you might be asking: what is the difference between a tart and a pie? Well the difference is pretty straightforward. A pie usually has a bottom crust and a top crust, whereas a tart only has a bottom and it's thicker than the crust of a pie. Tarts use fresh fruit and pies use fruits in a syrup like sauce. Also, a tart usually has a cream based layer, like pastry cream.

The Pastry Cream
In all of the pastry cream tart recipes that I read, they all said to make the pastry cream first, that way it can cool completely while you make the crust. I found a recipe that uses the whole egg (I didn't have a use for the egg whites and didn't want to waste them), and not just the yolks. The reason most recipes call for just the yolks is because it makes the pastry cream richer. 

  •  2 cups half and half (or cream, or whole milk)
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a saucepan, combine half of the sugar (1/3 cup) and the half and half. Let it sit on medium heat, until it starts to bubble a little bit; Make sure to stir it occasionally.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, flour, cornstarch, salt, and the rest of the sugar. I whisked them together until they were smooth like the milk/egg mixture for making french toast.
Both mixtures combined.

When the half and half mixture has started to bubble, it's time to combine it with the egg mixture. You have to be very careful to not scramble the eggs with the hot cream. You'll want to add just a tiny bit of the hot mixture to the eggs at a time... this tempers them. And you MUST whisk constantly. Continue to add the hot mixture to the eggs, small amounts at a time, whisking until they're combined.

When you're done,  pour the whisked combo back into the saucepan. Put it on low heat, and just keep whisking it until it gets thicker and starts to look like the pastry cream you find in a doughnut filling. Like this...

Once it's thickened, add the vanilla, make sure it gets combined. Then put it into a bowl and place plastic wrap on it making sure the wrap actually touches the pastry cream. This prevents a film from developing on the top of your cooling cream. Put it in the fridge so it can continue to cool.

The Crust

This crust was nice and sweet. It was also a little bit flaky, which is a good quality in a crust. It kinda reminded me of a sugar cookie before it gets frosted. This makes enough for one 9 inch tart crust.

  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 stick of cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons of water
Dry ingredients with the butter cut in.

 The first thing to do is combine the flour, salt and powdered sugar together. Then you cut in the butter, like you would do for biscuits.

Everything combined

After that you add the egg and mix it a bit. Then you add a teaspoon of water at a time... until it looks like typical pie crust dough. And then let it chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes.

 Once it has taken a chill pill, you can roll it out. Make sure you put flour down first so that it doesn't stick. You want to roll it so that it's bigger than the pan by about and inch and a half or so.

 When you get it to the size it needs to be, gently pull it up and place it in the pan. Form it to the pan, pressing it to the sides and bottom. Then poke it with a fork and put it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or overnight (if you can wait that long!) By poking holes in the crust and then putting it in the freezer, you help the crust lay flat while baking. If you skip the freezer, you will need pie weights to help prevent the crust from rising up during baking... you want a flat bottom.

When the crust is ready for baking, cover it with foil and bake for 15 minutes at 375°F.

After 15 minutes, remove the foil and put it back in the over to continue baking... you want the crust to be slightly golden. I ended up baking mine for about 12 to 15 minutes longer. Once it's baked, it needs to cool. I cooled it on the counter with a towel over the top for about an hour and then I moved it to the fridge to continue cooling.


The assembly of the tart starts after the crust and pastry cream are cooled. One thing to note is that this tart will need to be stored in the fridge so make sure you have room. I put this together in a pie container so that it's protected from fingers and paws wanting a taste test.

Anyway, the assembly is really easy. First spoon all the pastry cream into the crust. Then you top it with whatever fruit you want, or you could just have a pastry cream tart! I used strawberries and blackberries because that's what was freshest at the store. Use whatever fruits are in season, I bet this will taste great with almost any kind of fruit. After it has been topped with fruit (or left plain) you may slice, serve and enjoy!

My thoughts...

Just amazing! The pastry cream and crust went perfectly together, and the strawberries and blackberries make this healthy, right? The only thing I would do differently is I would add a dollop of whipped cream before serving because the blackberries were a bit tart

5 out of 5 whiskers!

Friday, April 4, 2014

DIY Pink Camouflage Cake

Have you seen the Duff Goldman Pink Camouflage cake mix? I saw it at the store, and I was like I can do that without his instructions. So, without further ado, here it is... DIY Pink Camouflage Cake.

 What you need: 
  • One box of white cake mix (and the ingredients it calls for)
  • Pink food dye 
  • Three bowls
  • Cake pans
  • and the frosting of your choice

 The first thing to do is to make the cake mix according to the instructions, but you don't want to over-mix it. After that, you divide the batter into three bowls, or however many colors you want (because it doesn't have to be just pink, you could do blue camouflage or green camouflage or a rainbow blob.)

For mine I did three colors; baby pink, hot pink, and white. First I added the pink dye to the one I wanted to be light pink. That way I had two that were white that I could borrow from it if it was too dark. Then I did the darker one.

When I was satisfied with my colors I prepped my cake pans. Then I started adding the batter to the cake pans. It was rather simple, I just took a spoonful and plopped and drizzled the batter into the pans. Be sure to  alternate colors... some white, then some baby pink and then some hot pink. I did that until all the batter was in the pans.

I baked the cake according to the directions on the box.


Then I made some frosting with my Mom.

I added a little purple, because a little color makes everything better!
And finally I assembled the cake and frosted it.

Usually I skip frosting the sides because my dad doesn't like a lot of frosting. This time, however, I frosted the sides because it makes me smile.

In the picture above it looks like a normal cake, right?

And then BAM!

Awesome :-)

Meatball Subs (French Bread Pt.3)

For my third experiment with the French Bread dough, I made buns for meatball subs. I think it's safe to say that this bread dough is quickly becoming a favorite recipe of mine. You could also call the buns mini loaves of bread.

I did everything like the recipe, up until the shaping part. Instead of dividing the dough into to two, I divided it into four.

Then I stretched it the long way, folded it over, stretched it again, until it got to a shape I was happy with. Then I pinched the ends, put the seam on the bottom and let it rise for 5 to 10 minutes. Mom suggested next time to roll the dough after it was shaped, that way the top gets domed.

After they had a chance to rise again, I cut the slashes on the top. And then put them in the oven preheated to 450°F for 20 to 25 minutes.

Once again the way to tell when they are done is to check the bottom. Keep in mind that the longer they're in, the harder they're going to be.