Friday, August 26, 2011

Berry, Berry Pound Cake to Make You Merry

I’m sitting here after having a couple pieces of pound cake wondering if this success or mess challenge is worth the extra lbs. All it’s proven is that it doesn’t matter if it’s chocolate or fruit I love dessert.

This week was the third attempt at getting my family on board with the ‘fruit as dessert’ thing. We enjoyed it, but I feel weighed down and I know pound cake is goo all on its own. Instead in my attempt to take fruit over the top for dessert, I, well, took it over the top. 

Thinking about a trifle or using some of the season’s freshest berries with a pound, I chose the latter. Although I ended up making a bit of both and made Vanilla Pound Cake with Mixed Berries and Custard. Or something like that. I should have known when I didn’t know what to call it (because there was so much going on); I might need to rethink things. But, I kept going full steam ahead.

So, you can take a look at this and decide for yourself what to keep and what to exclude.

Homemade pound cake topped with a couple spoons of vanilla pudding, topped with mixed berries, topped with whipped cream. Uh, yum. And way too much!

Here’s a picture, the info and tips. Now, you’ll have to excuse me while I go work it off my thighs. 

Vanilla Pound Cake with Mixed Berries and Custard

·      2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
·      2 1/2 cups sugar
·      6 large eggs
·      2 1/2 cups flour
·      1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
·      1/2 teaspoon baking powder
·      1/2 teaspoon salt
·      1 cup heavy cream
·      2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Leave the oven off. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt cake pan. Cream the butter and sugar together in the mixer. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add flour mixture and cream to butter-sugar mixture, alternating between the two, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and stir. Pour into the cake pan and bake at 325º for about 1 hour and 25 minutes, keeping the oven closed the whole time. No peeking J Take the cake out and let it cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Turn it out onto a plate.

Custard: Just mix a small box of vanilla pudding with 2 cups milk and let is set up for about 10 minutes.

Mixed Berries: Rinse and cut up 1 ½ cups strawberries and put in a medium sized bowl. Add 1 cup of raspberries and 1/2 cup of blueberries (optional) or use your favorite berries. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour.

Whipped Cream: Well, just go buy some and make it easy on yourself.

Cut a piece of cake. Top it with some custard (pudding), then add a helping of fresh berries, add a dollop or three of whipped cream and enjoy!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

E-Books – My (Not So) Secret Addiction *Guest Post*

Thanks to Debbie Sears for this great post!

When Amazon first introduced the Kindle I had mixed emotions.  My first reaction was, “I have to get one of these right away!”  Immediately followed by, “It cost how much?!!!”  My last reaction in those first three seconds was, “It will never replace real, paper books.”

I believed I was a purest and would never get sucked into the whole e-reader thing.  I was wrong; very, very wrong.  I held out until I got my iPad.  The e-book app was the kiss of death for me.  I was hooked, like an addict who had absolutely no intention of ever going to rehab.

My dear friend, Kristen, got me involved in a werewolf/vampire series by Patricia Briggs.  I finished the first book about 1:00 on a Saturday morning.  I really wanted to start the next book but Borders wasn’t open 24 hours so what was I to do?  I looked over at my iPad and thought; “I wonder just how easy it is to download a book?  I wonder how long it will take?”  So, taking a deep breath, I plugged in the information for the next book in the series and hit “Purchase.”  Within 15 seconds my book was downloaded and ready to read.  Holy smokes, could that have been any easier?  I don’t think so.  And so, my addiction began. 

The convenience of e-books is wonderful.   Your library is at your fingertips wherever you go.  My only regret is I don’t get to share my books with family and friends.  I believe books are treasures that should be shared with everyone; and I truly enjoy sharing my books.  Unfortunately I can’t do that with e-books; at least not yet.  I hope that issue will be resolved in the future.  I do know you can borrow e-books from many libraries but I haven’t tried this and don’t know the procedure.

For now, I’m going to hunker down with my iPad and enjoy the marvels of this new technology.  I just LOVE living in the 21st century!

eBooks and guest post

When it comes to eBooks, I’m torn. I love the convenience, but I’m not ready to give up on real books just yet. Oh, they may contain the same words, but it’s not the same experience of scanning a shelf for just the right one; breaking in the spine and feeling the fibers as you flip pages and get lost in another world.

However, the ease of getting and transporting eBooks is unmatched. I mean, taking an entire library of books, references and magazines with you is amazing. So, here’s a post from my friend Debbie, a book lover and devourer, to give you an idea of how eBooks can change everything. Go on, read it. You know you want to. Then post your comments and check back for more discussion. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

There's an App-le for that

Apple pie is great, á la mode it’s even better. Since we’re approaching apple-picking season, I thought about mini apple desserts that, I must admit my family loves. Here’s what I did.

Using store bought piecrust, I had my daughter help me cut out small shapes. You can use a medium-size glass or get creative with cookie cutters. We placed the shapes on a cookie sheet, poked them with a fork a couple times and baked them in a preheated 400º oven until they were golden brown, about 10 minutes.

When the crusts were done, I pulled them out and let them cool a little while I made the following recipe for yummy, warm apples.

Next, I pulled out some French Vanilla Ice Cream and let it soften a little.

We assembled the desserts, layering one piecrust shape, a helping of the apple mix, a whipped cream dollop, another piecrust shape, more apple mix, another whipped cream dollop and served it with a side of ice cream. They were like double-decker apple tarts. Wow, so good!

Warm Apples
2 Granny Smith Apples
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cloves

1.   Dice apples into small bites.
2.   Heat butter in sauté pan over medium heat and add the apples. Cook 7-10 mins.
3.   When apples are coated and warmed through, stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and continue cooking about 4 mins.
4.   Assemble mini desserts or serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a wonderful treat!

Got another fruity dessert idea? Share it here and it could be the next one we try.

SYOAS – See you online again soon! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Where have all the books gone?

The café is out of commission, magazine racks are dwindling and shelves emptying at a furious pace. You can’t take a step without seeing discount signs. The banners say ‘Going Out Of Business’ but that’s just stating the obvious given the state of the store. If you’re caught up in your latest e-book or have just been out of the loop, I’m talking about Borders closing its doors.

I hadn’t planned to visit the store once the bad news broke. I had good reason. After reading articles about the decline of bookstore sales, I thought it prudent to spend money where it’s still needed. In stores that are struggling to stay in business, say, the local indie bookstore, or even Barnes & Noble who is being courted by Liberty Media according to Publisher’s Weekly

We took a trip to the bookstore for my daughter’s birthday. She chose Borders. I thought it might be interesting to see how things are going and maybe check out some deals, so we went.

It was hard to see the place in its diminished state. I was sad when we saw handwritten price tags on all the shelves and fixtures. A woman was bargaining for a bookshelf and I could hardly believe my ears. It seemed like a good buy, but it was so odd to see the store being sold to the bare walls.

The hardest part was taking what would be our last trip to the kid’s area. My daughter always picks a few books to read. We go up on the platform, or stage where they usually host Children’s events and hold our own story time.

After we read our books and gathered several purchases, we headed out. With one glance back at the bare shelves and ‘Everything must go’ signs, I wondered what will happen to these brick and mortar stores. Will our kids get to experience them the way we did? Would libraries and locally owned stores will see a resurgence of customers? Perhaps, our kids will create a new book community all their own. I just hope they learn the joy of reading and sharing books with spines that crackle and pages you can dog-ear.

If you’re interested in checking out a local independent bookseller, click this link to search the IndieBound site

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fruit so good it should be illegal

I started my Success or Mess Fruity Dessert Challenge using a Paula Deen recipe.  If you know of her cooking, you know it’s got to be good. Let’s just say dessert that uses a pound of butter, biscuits and brown sugar is worth a try.

This looked drool-worthy and since it’s got blueberries, I figured we were in business. Let’s just say it’s so good I started eating it right out of the pan and did not want to stop. Then I remembered the point was to convince my family that a fruit based dessert could be delicious. So I had to share.

It was a definite success. If you’re looking for a yummy recipe that uses blueberries, try Paula’s Granite Steps Country Blueberry Coffee Cake. You can eat it for breakfast or dessert and try it plain or with a side of vanilla ice cream. Delicious!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Success or Mess: Fruit vs. Chocolate

We’re Choc-a-holics, no doubt. If it’s got choco in the title we’re all over it. Especially when it comes to desserts. When we’re out I’m the only one who experiments with desserts other than chocolate. If there’s a Raspberry this or Blueberry that on the menu that sounds good, and maybe has ice cream with it, I’m up for it. My husband knows it. Nearly every time I try said Fruity dessert, I end up asking for part of his chocolate decadence anyway. He warns me, but I’m still learning.

Perhaps, I really do believe fruity desserts are healthier or maybe I’m just a glutton, but this year I want to find something that comes close to the wow factor of triple chocolate ganache cake. 

Summer’s the perfect time to attempt such a feat since so many fruits are in season. Over the next five weeks, I’ll try to convince my family that fruit's great for dessert too.

I’ve already got my first idea, it’s a coffee cake and cobbler mash up. We’ll see how it goes.

Got another fruity dessert idea? Share it here and it could be the next one we try.

SYOAS – See you online again soon!
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