Monday, March 7, 2011

Let them eat cake!

Ok, so it HAS been almost a month since my last post but in my defense I have yet to get a tart pan.  And I really really want to get one because I have a chocolate gingersnap tart recipe that I'm pretty sure the boy will go crazy for.  There has definitely been some cooking happening in my kitchen as of late...roasted spiced sweet potatoes (have I mentioned how addicted I am to sweet potatoes?  They are just so freaking perfect) and a strawberry blueberry cake are noteworthy.  I'm also planning on another batch of buffalo chicken soup today.

Oh, and speaking of which...(there is some back story here, but I promise it is TOTALLY related to buffalo chicken soup).
So my baby brother is getting married (again).  And I am very happy for him, truly.  A couple weeks ago his lady to be had her bridal shower for which I brought what has to have been the most complemented (and expensive) fruit salad in the history of fruit salad.  Seriously.  $50 for a bowl of chopped fruit.  But because I got stuck with fruit salad and was not able to flex my culinary muscles for everyone to admire (which is admittedly the only reason I agree to bring things to events) I had to make it the most amazing fruit salad ever.  So there were strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, pomegranate, plum, pear, pineapple, blood orange, kiwi, and star fruit.  It doesn't hurt that I am very close to this gem and am unbelievably spoiled by the most amazing produce year round.  But fruit salad aside, I also brought a gift for the bride to be.  Now I'm not exactly raking in the dough these days and I already spent $50 for fruit salad, not to mention the bridesmaid dress and shoes I had to get.  So I was trying to come up with something that was a little frugal.  What I ended up with was a bakeware set and some cookie sheets and measuring cups.  But this gift was NOT impressing me in the way I wanted it to.  I wanted my gift to be special and set apart.  So I did something that as the sister of the groom, only I could do.  I started a recipe book for her.  Now I know she's just getting her culinary legs so I started a notebook full of recipes that are popular in my family as a way to welcome her into it.  It included my mom's banana muffins and peppermint brownies, my nana's meat stuffing, my gigi's chocolate cream pie, and my raspberry white chocolate cheesecake which the bride has been after for a while, and my recipe for buffalo chicken soup.

So the thing with the soup is this - it is definitely an instant classic, but is relatively new to me so no one else in my family has experienced it.  I wasn't sure how it would be received and if the bride to be would ever bother making it.  My brother is a notoriously picky eater and has been known to do things like cook up an entire pound of bacon and sit around and eat that.  How he maintains a physique thin enough for skinny jeans is beyond me.  Regardless, I guess it was something that sounded good to them so they cooked it up and they LOVED it.  So bully for the buffalo chicken soup.  It is definitely a winner.  And now you should totally go try it out.

Tart pan aside, my next monumental undertaking will be my birthday cake.  Now while this is not usually something elaborate it can be fairly tricky for two reasons.  A) I am not really a big chocolate cake person and B) I usually don't want frosting.  Now how do I find a cake that is celebratory enough for a birthday but doesn't have either of those two things?  Last year's cake was a Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Cake.  A loaf cake that was super tasty (to me and my mom, though it caused my dad to insist that it wasn't a "real" birthday cake).  The other thing is that I usually like to make my own cake.  My mom always offers, but usually means either a box mix or a store bought, and I have turned her down since I was 18 or 19.  This year is the big 2-7 for me.  Now the other person that has offered is the boy.  Currently I have no proof of any of his cooking or baking skills so I am unbelievably hesitant.  Also I'm pretty sure I will get something chocolate and covered in frosting which is closer to what he would want.  I have a few contenders currently in mind but the current front  runner is a white cake flavored with a little lemon and layered with raspberry jam and lemony butter cream meringue with a little shredded coconut around the sides.  I am very excited because in my mind this is the perfect cake and combines all of my favorite flavors: vanilla, lemon, berry, and coconut.  How can this not be a winner?  I will even allow it to have frosting (of sorts).  Now my birthday is not for a little over a month (right after my brother's wedding) so I'm thinking a cake fast will be in order.  Although I'm pretty sure I'll have to bend those rules for the wedding cake.  Also, if anyone has any other ideas for a cake that might pass my standards, post in the comments!

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