Tuesday, April 15, 2014

To Infinity

I made this cake a couple months ago for a little girl, Ivee, that's in our church. She loved Toy Story at the time, and especially Buzz (i'm a Cowboy Woody gal myself, but to each her own)! I need to tell you that the hardest part of this cake was Buzz. GAH!!! I thought it would be so easy! No....nope....resounding "NO"....guys....no. The way I did it was NOT easy. BUT!!!....it looked pretty darn cool in the end. :)


When I make a name tag ahead of time, I make sure to put it on a pot so as it dries, it will dry to the right curve. Otherwise, it will break when I try to attach it to the cake. Luckily...Buzz didn't need to curve. (I randomly thought of the movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" as I uploaded these pictures. I just realized it's because I watched that movie while making my Buzz topper! haha!)





 Pretty cute, right? I learn with each cake I make and it's awesome! Although I will say, after the 3-tiered monstrosity I just made a week ago...I think i'm caked out for a while. Maybe I should post a recipe or two!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Farm Fun

All this blog is really going to be is a photo montage typey....thing of how grateful I am to have healthy, happy kids and a great husband who loves to play with them! So basically...this post is just for me. :) And any grandmas that happen to stop by.

We live next to this awesome little farm, and I think it's my favorite place to take pictures right now. My kids LOVE it over there, which makes for some great, happy action shots. I can't wait for the two huge pecan trees to get their leaves back this spring. They are so beautiful!



This was right before I cut off Wyatt's curls. I love those wavy curls, but I just think his head is so cute when it's buzzed! What can I say??...I'm a short-hair-on-my-boys kind of gal.



Best shot of the whole day coming up!





Watch out, Sister!!!


I can still hear the giggling in these ones. Charlotte would spend time with her daddy 24-7 if she could. At church, yesterday, she said to a near stranger "This is my daddy," turns and points to Matt. "He loves me." I think it was the proudest dad-moment of Matt's career. There's nothing like being a parent!



And only because I know I will be harassed for not being in any pictures (there's a reason for that, btw) I was present, and playing with everyone. ;)

...and laughing at with my daughter.


What a blessing to have access to this little farm (and huge garden!) in the middle of the city. I don't know if we will ever be able to leave it!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Flan is Great!




Flan. Four letters that make me happier than any other four letters ever could.

Wait...

Cake.

Pork.

Tart.

Pita.

Brie.

Cake.

Eggs.

Did I say cake twice??...oh well.

Today's four-letter-food is FLAN! Flan can be a little tricky if you are prone to worry. Because you have to caramelize sugar. (insert scream here) But i'm here to tell you that I made my first flan and caramelized my first sugar in one fell swoop a few months ago and it was NO big deal! Don't be afraid. Especially when the outcome is SOOO worth it. And caramelizing sugar is sorta like rappelling. The worst part is stepping over the edge, then everything's fun from there...

Please excuse my rappelling metaphor...it didn't work like I thought it would.

I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com and there is even a video of someone making it! The comments were REAL helpful, and I've adapted the original recipe quite a bit to suit my own likes and food needs.

These are your ingredients! Just 5...plus Cinnamon which I forgot to picture :(


FIRST, I want you to blend the milks, eggs, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Because once you get started on the sugar, it will be hard to multi-task.

                                     

All blended and tasty. But don't dip your fingers!...there are raw eggs in there!....okay, dip your fingers. 

Unless you're pregnant!

.....maybe just a little one......


This is your yummy custardy part of the flan. (what? custardy is a word? spell check didn't correct me, so I guess so!)

On to the sugar! 

All that I have in the below pictures is a cup of sugar in a pot. No water or anything else. You're going to see the stages the sugar will go through as you heat it up over medium heat. If your temp gets too high, it will burn the sugar in about a millisecond. If your temp stays too low, your sugar will take AGES to caramelize! Done it...not fun...you get really hot standing over the burner for 45 mins. So try to keep your heat at medium-low to medium. The sugar will go from granules, to hard-candy clumps (!!Don't Panic!!) and then start melting down to syrup.







READ THIS! The above picture and the below picture were taken about 10 seconds apart. I had my heat too high and was trying to multi-task too much and my sugar got TOO dark and burned! Of course, I did this for your benefit so you could see the difference.......

If you still have some little clumps of sugar that haven't completely caramelized, it's okay! Take your sugar off when it's a nice golden color...not a sickly rusty brown.


This is my pyrex heating up on the hot stovetop. The reason I do this is because if you put your caramel into a cold glass dish, it will harden up before you have the chance to swirl it around and get it incorporated all over the bottom of your dish. So if you put some hot water in your dish or put it on your warm stove, it will make your life easier.


Here is my second batch of caramel, which I did stir a rough teaspoon of vanilla into right before it reached the desired consistency. That's just personal preference. ;)


This is what the caramel looks like after it's been swirled into my dish. GAH!!!! I can't wait to make another!


In goes the custard...



And now i'm pouring water into a cookie sheet that I have my flan mixture sitting on. Baking the flan in a water bath keeps it from baking too quickly...which can cause cracking in your flan and a rubbery texture. That would be a catastrophe after all this work!


Here is the flan fresh out of the oven! A word here...bake for the allotted time and don't be afraid of some significant jiggle on the flan's departure! Since this is a custard-based dish, it will seem VERY under-cooked when it's still hot. It just needs to set as it cools, which I promise it WILL do. Trust.
See the little scoop in the middle of mine? That's not normal unless you have a need to just try a tiny bit while it's fresh from the oven. (Hey, i'm just gonna flip it anyway)
Let the flan cool completely...best if you pop it in the fridge overnight after it's cooled on the counter.


Now, it's the next morning and I have my trusty cookie sheet out again. I have filled my cookie sheet up with HOT water to help the carmel syrup warm up and detach from the glass dish.



After the cold flan has been sitting in the hot water bath for about 15 - 20 mins, cut around the edges and flip it onto a plate! You should hear a satisfying *shloorph* sound.




Then let all the yummy syrup drip onto the top.



And here she is! I love topping mine with whipped cream and strawberries, and I love it plain...totally up to you. OH! I'll bet its amazing with chocolate syrup, too. Next time!




Four-letter Flan


- 1 heaping cup white sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 (14oz) can Sweetened Condensed milk
- 1 (12oz) can Evaporated milk
- 1 T. + 1 t. vanilla, separated
- 1/2 t. cinnamon
- 1 pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350*F

2. In a blender, combine eggs, milks, 1T. vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Let it sit in the blender while you work on other things.

3. Warm a 9-inch round pyrex with boiling water or on your warm stove.

4. In a medium sauce pan, heat sugar over medium-low to medium heat. Stir regularly (or the whole time if it makes you feel more comfortable) until sugar is caramelized and syrupy. Stir in your 1t. of vanilla.

5. Quickly pour the caramel syrup into the round pyrex and swirl to coat the bottom before it hardens. Pour the custard mixture on top of the hardened syrup and cover with the lid or some foil.

6. Bake in a water bath in your preheated oven for 60 mins. Cool in fridge overnight, or until ready to serve. At least let it cool to room temp. 

7. Before inverting on a plate, place the dish in a hot water bath to help soften the caramel from the bottom of the dish. Cut around the edges and flip onto your serving dish. Top with whipped cream, strawberries, chocolate, more caramel syrup...whatever your heart desires!

Adapted  from "Spanish Flan" recipe on Allrecipes.com