Rest In Peace Gemini

Sorry I didn’t post anything yesterday, we (mommy and me) had to put down our last outdoor cat Gemini.

He’d been diagnosed with feline leukemia & FIV a while back but he’d gone downhill recently and we were able to get a vet appointment yesterday. We knew it was time to put him to sleep but it didn’t make it any easier saying goodbye to him. He was a really sweet cat who’d follow you around no matter where you went. Sometimes he’d want affection more than food ! I’m gonna miss the guy.

Buttermilk Cake with Strawberry Icing

Still had buttermilk left from making the biscuits so I decided to try out this cake recipe.

The ingredients list was easy enough to follow. I hope I followed the directions like they wanted you to. I was trying to add the flour mixture and the buttermilk in the portions that they called for but each time I went to mix them, some of the flour would shoot out or the buttermilk would splatter a little outside of the bowl. I spread the finished batter out as evenly as I could in the baking dish and let it bake in the oven for 25 minutes. When I pulled it out the cake looked so pale on top that if it hadn’t been for doing the toothpick test, I would’ve thought it was still raw ! To be honest, even though the toothpick looked clean, I was still expecting it to look like liquid batter under the surface when it eventually came time to cut the cake. Regardless, I left the cake to cool for a couple of hours before making the frosting.

The directions for making the frosting are simple and easy enough to follow. I would suggest trying to make a mark or something for every cup of powdered sugar that you measure out or add straight from the bag into the mixing bowl so you don’t lose track ’cause while I’m pretty sure I added the 5 cups called for, I started to get distracted and do wonder a little if I only added 4 cups instead.

The frosting was made and it was time to assemble the cake and cut it afterwards:

Oh man was I relieved to see that the cake was fully cooked ! The frosting did seem a little looser than it did in the picture that went with the original recipe but boy did it taste good. Between the cream cheese in the frosting and the buttermilk in the cake. The frosted cake had a nice tanginess to it to balance out the sweetness. The recipe never says whether to refrigerate the cake after it’s made so I stored half of it on the counter and half in the fridge. As humid and warm as it is around here, the counter cake had a good texture on the cake (still light, soft and tender) but the frosting was a little loose. The cake from the fridge however had the opposite problem. The cake had turned dense in the fridge but the frosting firmed up more which I liked. Oh yeah, I don’t know if it’ll happen to you but my frosting turned out a really light shade of pink compared to what the magazine’s version was. Don’t know if I just used a different brand of strawberry preserves or what, but the difference in color didn’t affect how good it tasted.

This recipe came from a special collector’s issue of Taste of the South titled Southern Cakes. It’s supposed to be on display until July 27, 2020. Unfortunately there’s no online version of this recipe.

I wasn’t paid in any way to mention Taste of the South.

Take care y’all !

Southern Biscuits, take one

I have something to confess… I’ve lived in the South most of my life and this was the first time I’ve made biscuits from scratch. I did make a copycat version of Red Lobsters’ cheddar biscuits one time years ago but that doesn’t feel like the same thing as making the kind of biscuits you look forward to making a breakfast sandwich with or spreading some butter, jam or jelly on. Seeing all the layers these biscuits were supposed to have convinced me to try tackling biscuit making.

When you get to the ingredients list, you’ll see that she doesn’t specify what kind of salt to use so I went with table salt. She also says that the 1/2 cup of unsalted butter is supposed to be in one stick. I don’t know about you but it’s already too hot where I live and using two half sticks of butter allows me to be grating half the butter while keeping the other half chilled. Even on a half stick the butter starts to smear on the grater rather than becoming strands near the end of the stick (it’s just that hot and humid here). This is still after the first stick’s been in the freezer for 15 minutes.

The dough is mixed together and it’s time to start shaping it into a rectangle. I lay out the parchment paper, place the dough on it, flour my hands and get the dough into a rectangle shape. I cut it into thirds and as I’m starting to try and stack the dough, I notice I’m having a hard time lifting the dough, like it just wants to stick to the paper. That’s when it hits me… I forgot to flour the freaking parchment paper !!! I have to try and scrape all the dough off so I can flour the paper like I was supposed to at the very beginning. When the dough was back on the parchment paper, it looked like it was a big blob-like mess so instead of cutting and stacking the dough 3 times, I decided to do it 4 times. You can choose to use one of the bigger circular cutters but I went with the 2 1/2-inch circle cutter.

Finally the biscuits are in the oven and I check on them at the 10-minute mark. The biscuits looked too pale so I checked on them after another 5 minutes (15 minutes was the maximum suggested time, otherwise it’s suggested to bake them until they look “golden”). At 15 minutes, it definitely looked done ! I was afraid I’d burnt the bottom of the biscuits ’cause they looked like this:

Surprisingly the biscuits didn’t taste burnt at all ! They were buttery with a bit of crunch on the bottom and yeah, most of them didn’t rise up and look like a proper biscuit:

but these turned out well enough that I’m gonna keep making them until they all come out looking good !

If you’d like the recipe for this, click here.

I wasn’t paid in any form to mention Red Lobster or a recipe from little figgy.

Take care y’all !

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

I’m a sucker for soft and/or chewy cookies so when I came across these in a Taste of Home magazine, I knew I was gonna make them !

The ingredients list doesn’t leave much room for interpretation with the exception of the salt and the butter. They never say if you should use unsalted or salted butter (I went with unsalted) and they don’t say what kind of salt to use (table? kosher? sea salt? I went with table salt).

When you make this, part of the instructions mentions gradually adding the flour into the butter mixture, mixing after each addition. As soon as I started mixing the flour in I understood why they said to do this gradually ! In small portions the dough gets thicker, harder to stir and risks a little bit of flour flying out of the bowl. Had I ignored the directions and dumped everything in all at once, the dough would’ve been too hard to blend and probably had half of the flour end up outside the bowl.

Once the dough is blended all together, you have to shape it into “1 1/2-in. balls” (I used my 1 1/2 Tbsp. cookie scooper), roll it in the sugar and then place it on an ungreased baking sheet. I didn’t want to deal with a possible cookie getting stuck to the baking sheet so I lined the sheet with aluminum foil before placing the sugar coated balls on it.

It goes into the oven looking like this:

and 10 to 12 minutes later (10 in my case), they come out looking like this (picture was taken after the cookies were placed on a cooling rack):

When I ate one straight off the baking pan, not giving it time to cool down, the cookie lived up to its name on being soft. Once they cooled down, the bottom half of the cookie firmed up, giving them a crispy texture while the top half was still soft. Now, full disclosure, I started writing this post last night and fell asleep while I was writing it. Woke up, made sure the cookies were in a sealed Ziploc bag & decided to just finish the post today. I ate another one of these cookies and the crispiness from the first day was gone ! All that was left was a wonderfully soft and chewy cookie. The flavor of this cookie just screams fall to me. It has all the wonderful spices of a pumpkin pie without the actual pumpkin (or the heaping amounts of whipped cream that I would be putting on a slice of pumpkin pie). Before I gobble up all these cookies, I’m gonna try seeing how these serve as cookies in an ice cream sandwich !

If you’d like the recipe for these cookies, click here.

Pita Bread

I do love making sweets but I also like the idea of savory baking as well (bread, biscuits, etc.). Finding pita bread in stores around my town can be a little dicey so when I saw this recipe in Duff Goldman and Sara Gonzales’s book, I decided to try it out.

No confusion over the ingredients specifically listed but in step one they call for “1 1/2 cups of warm water” and I was like “why?”. Why, when people talk about baking being a science and how if water is too hot or too cold that yeast won’t bloom properly, would you just go with a description like “warm water” instead of listing an actual temperature range? I was able to see a Food Network commercial that said warm water should be between 110-120 degrees F. and decided to measure out the water while the thermometer read 120 degrees.

I don’t know if it makes any difference but there’s a point where they’ll say that you need to oil a bowl but they don’t say which kind of oil to use. I decided to go with vegetable oil.

Once the dough’s risen enough and the oven’s preheated, you have to break the dough down into the required amount of balls and then roll each ball out until they’re about 1/4-inch thick. This shows the before and after of doing that:

I placed my first three pitas into the oven and couldn’t wait to see them balloon up. When it came time to pull them out though, they didn’t really balloon. Some of them ballooned a little but nothing like the picture they show in the cookbook ! I actually tried leaving the pita in the oven for a couple more minutes to see if that would help them balloon but instead all it did was make them burnt:

While it wasn’t the success I was hoping for, the pita wasn’t terrible. This is what most of them came out looking out which I think is a good thing:

I wasn’t paid in any way to mention Food Network, Duff Goldman, Sara Gonzales, or the cookbook “Duff Bakes”.

Take care y’all !

Lemon Bars

Lemon bars were the first dessert I’d ever tried that made me realize desserts could be more than just sweet in their flavor profile. It felt like it’d been too long since having lemon bars so when I came across this version, I really wanted to try it out !

The ingredients list is pretty straightforward and easy to follow, I just wish they’d gone with something a little more specific than just saying “6 lemons, zested and juiced”. I can’t speak for y’all but I’ve seen what you might call the standard size lemon, closer in size to limes but there are also the much bigger lemons that look they ate their twin and that’s why they’re freaking huge ! I used 6 big lemons and got around 2 tablespoons of lemon zest and got a cup of lemon juice from them.

When it comes to baking the crust, I wasn’t sure what their idea of “lightly golden” was but at the 20 minute mark I called it good because even though I wasn’t entirely sure if the main portion of the crust was golden enough, the outer edges were turning brown. I took a picture so you could see what I was talking about:

After the crust is done baking you’re supposed to move onto whisking the lemon mixture until it’s “frothy” and all I could think was just how much frothiness do you want? Scattered bubbles across the surface-level froth or did you want a blanket of foamy bubbly froth completely covering the surface? This is what the lemon mixture looked like by the time I called it good:

I have to admit, whisking that by hand, made me realize just how out of shape my arms are ! I was actually having to switch back and forth between my arms to keep the whisking going.

They actually thought it was only going to take 20 to 25 minutes in the oven for the lemon mixture to turn lightly golden (and I presume they expected it to solidify as well in that time frame even though they didn’t explicitly say that) but let me tell you, I checked it at 25 minutes and that lemon mixture was still sloshing ! 15 minutes later (40 minutes total) I checked the bars and thought they looked good at the point and pulled them out to start letting them cool down.

After cutting them into individual portions and sprinkling confectioners’ sugar over the individual pieces, this is how they came out looking:

I loved this as soon as I took my first bite. The crust didn’t stick to the filling quite as much as I’d hoped but even on the darker edges I didn’t taste anything burnt which was a big relief ! The flavor of the lemon really comes through without being sour or pucker-inducing if you want to try this without any of the confectioners’ sugar sprinkled on top. Sprinkling on what I did of the confectioners’s sugar made it a tiny bit sweeter but it didn’t enter cloyingly sweet territory and the lemon flavor still came through.

This recipe came from “Good Country Cooking” magazine 2020.

I wasn’t paid in any form to mention the magazine.

Take care y’all !

Traditional Vanilla Pudding

As a kid, I always enjoyed eating pudding from a cup. Now that I’m older, I thought it’d be cool to see if I could make pudding from scratch and see if it’s just as good as the store-bought variety.

This pudding involves tempering eggs which I’ve never done before but read in the book that I had to slowly whisk in a portion of the steaming milk into the raw egg mixture, making sure not to accidentally scramble the eggs. I was afraid I’d done that when I added the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk but thought that just maybe it was yolk covered sugar clumps or something so I proceeded on with the directions & by the time it was thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, I didn’t see those clumps on the surface ! Poured the pudding into a bowl and left in the fridge overnight, making sure that the surface was covered with plastic wrap so there wouldn’t be any skin.

Pull the pudding out today, lifting the plastic wrap and yay, no skin ! I go to get a spoonful though and the pudding was… soupy. I just thought, maybe without preservatives & stuff, that’s just how pudding of this variety is supposed to be (I don’t think so though). I ate a spoonful and was initally met with a creamy texture and the vanilla coming through until I felt something solid in my mouth and pulled out a freaking small piece of scrambled egg ! I failed to properly temper the eggs and I couldn’t enjoy any of the remaining pudding. First time trying a different technique so I shouldn’t be hard on myself for not nailing it but things are stressful at home and I could use all the comfort food possible. Here’s what the pudding looked like:

Take care y’all !

Blueberry Ripple Ice Cream

Well I finally took pictures of the ice cream I made yesterday:

This is a quick recipe to whip up if you’ve already got the components on hand ! You could eat it the same day you make it, I just wasn’t sure how long it’d take for the ice cream to become “scoopable” & figured letting it sit overnight out to do the trick. I actually had to let the ice cream sit in fridge for 10 minutes for it to become scoopable. I did go with Blue Bunny Homemade Vanilla that comes in a 1 1/2 quart container (but of course, pick whichever brand you like the most) and instead of trying to dig out 1/3 of the ice cream in the container, I just tripled how much jam was being used. I really like the blend of the ice cream with the jam. When you take a bite, the vanilla is what you taste first but it ends with the flavor of the jam. Mommy liked it so much that she was sad when she finished her helping of the ice cream !

This recipe came from bon appetit. If you’d like the recipe, click here.

I wasn’t paid in any form to mention bon app├ętit or Blue Bunny.