Food Photography

Over the weekend I of course did some blog surfing looking for something fun my son & I could bake together. I spent quite a bit of time at one of my favorites, Bakerella. The food photography is amazing! The pictures document the author’s baking experiments as her focus is “Sweet Inspiration & Fun Baking Ideas.” There, you will find some of  the most creative cupcakes and cakepops you will ever see.  Each picture has you salivating because you can almost taste the pictures of these sweet beauties! I stumbled upon an entry in the “cupcake” category all about cupcakes & photography. The author so generously shares her tips, equipment suggestions, & know-how to snap the most appealing pictures with the least amount of fuss. I found it very intriguing, since I’m a newbie at food blogging, so naturally I have to share this inspiring blog with all of you who are just as fascinated with food photography as much as I am!

Enjoy!

www.bakerella.com

Cheater Gourmet Pancakes

Tonight was a tremendous undertaking with bath-time, getting baby girl to bed, practicing the alphabet & reading with my son. So, by the time I got to dinner, my choices were limited by a dwindling grocery supply and mental & emotional exhaustion! Pancakes! Yes, pancakes sounded good, but something a little more than the ‘ol stand-by breakfast fare. I looked around the kitchen and grabbed a few items that sounded like they’d meld together fairly well & maybe prove that I had actually put a little thought into my dinner selection tonight. I am quite surprised that for a cheaters version of a “gourmet” pancake (okay, it’s gourmet by my standards, remember I’m a newbie foodie!) the flavors and textures were  luscious and incredibly rich.

Coconut-Orange Walnut Pancakes

Boxed pancake mix (follow package instructions) Knotts is a very good mix!

Add-about 1/4 cup orange juice to prepared mix

Heat griddle to medium heat, spoon 1/4 cup batter in griddle when hot

Add a handful of toasted walnuts, fingerfuls of flaked coconut, and grated orange zest to each uncooked side of pancake.

Turn pancake when bubbles appear

Cook second side to personal taste (I love the texture slightly undercooked)

Serve with soft butter and warm maple syrup-orange extract would be tasty

Enjoy!

Orange Chicken with Fried Rice

As I was obsessively searching food blogs I came across this recipe for Orange Chicken with Fried Rice from a blog called “Evil Shenanigans.” This is such a fun baking and cooking blog, I must say. The author writes about her dislike for American Chinese food because of it’s often goopy, extra sweet, super saucy, dried-out, & high fat offerings. However, when her mother in-law cooked this dish for her, it changed her entire opinion on Chinese food. I tried the recipe and made a few changes based on what I had in the pantry that night. It turned out fabulous! Pretty simple and quick I must say, especially for deciding to throw the meal together later in the evening on a whim. Her pictures are really a good depiction of the result! Wonderful, you simply must try this recipe.

http://www.evilshenanigans.com/2010/01/orange-chicken-with-fried-rice/

Enjoy!

Ashley

Beignets

Since my toddler tea party earlier I’ve been thinking about those tasty beignets that had my mouth-watering watching the process on the food network. So, I went searching for a good recipe. The Joy of Cooking is always a great go-to for info, education & recipes. Apparently beignets are popular in New Orleans! They are served up with chicory-flavored coffee according to The Joy of Cooking. There are also wonderful recipes for homemade pancakes and waffles of various kinds that have turned out quite well for me in the past in this broad collection of recipes.

Beignets

Combine in medium saucepan and bring to a steady boil-

1/2 cup water

4 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 Tbs. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

Add all at once-

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Stir vigorously, without stopping, over medium heat until mixture comes together and takes on a shine. Continue to cook, stir constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, you will notice the  flour has formed a light crust on the bottom of the pan. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Add, one at a time, beating on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl-

4 large eggs

Mixture is smooth, shiny, and fold over on itself in a ribbon when beater lifted. Beat in-

2 tsp. vanilla

Immediately drop the dough, a scant tablespoon at a time, into deep fat heated to 365 degrees F. Fry 4 or 5 beignets at a time until puffed and golden on both sides. Drain well on paper towels and dust with-

powdered sugar

Toddler Tea Party

Today my four year old toddler asked me to play tea party with him after a game of alphabet memory cards. Instead of “ordering” my usual milk, coffee, pancakes etc… I found myself practically drooling over the mere thought of a freshly made latte. Steamed milk beautifully floating atop the perfect mug of steaming espresso. Mmmm… Alongside this latte I requested a puffy, golden, melt in your mouth beignet (which of course I just saw made on the food network). However, my “waiter” son informed me there were no “be-gna-somethings.” So, I thought a moment and could almost taste the pumpkin cheesecake I tasted in November at a favorite Italian restaurant with the best combination of spices, buttery graham crust, fresh whipped cream, and a crumb and caramel topping. Yum. My lucky day, my son smiled at the fact that cheesecake was on the menu. For my third course, I would love the most thin crust, smothered in luscious alfredo sauce, parmigiano regiano, roasted tomato, spinach, garlic & roasted chicken pizza. “Coming right up” my toddler waiter pronounced! All-right! I was feeding the baby while all of this “ordering” was occurring & could hear my stomach growling. I realized it’d been since early this morning that I’d eaten last. Then my son announced that it was his turn to be the customer and I was to play waitress. A sudden let down of the heart since apparently I had been swept up in our pretend play that I was left salivating and hungry. Then my son “ordered” a simple grilled cheese sandwich and it occurred to me that the most gourmet is really a matter of individual taste. Even a grilled cheese sounded utterly delicious at that moment…a dressed up one of course…a grown up grilled cheese I call it. I can’t help it, I have to spin my twist on most everything! Even pretend.

Our Little Family

Our Little Family

Elusive Kitchen Time

Good morning, up and at ’em again. Baby girl still struggling with a cough and comforted only by being snug in my arms. Going into work early today, yeah, and I’d really like to make something for my Mom to munch on while she babysits. What to make…baby crying again….need to make Valentine’s with my son who’s been asking this morning for help. Seems like there’s never enough time for my kitchen time. I so dislike that feeling of exhaustion that were it for this I would be creating something yummy. While I’m tending to the children and household chores, often I am thinking on some recipe that recently found its way before my eyes. Is that quirky? Thinking of how beautiful softened pale unsalted butter looks as it’s creamed carefully with crystally white grains of sugar. How perfectly eggs incorporate into the fluffy creamed butter mixture. Add a splash of real Mexican vanilla for a sweet aroma and finished taste. Then there’s the “magic” of baking powder and baking soda! The proportions lend such different results in baked goods. Trust me, I’ve had enough failed muffins to know! Vinegar is also quite a unique ingredient in baking. Sometime I will share my family’s recipe for “Three Hole Chocolate Cake” and you will see a science experiment before your eyes! One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard, food wise, is to always purchase the absolute best quality ingredients you can afford. Such as in baking chocolates. The difference truly lies in quality depending on how this ingredient is used in a recipe. It is so wonderful to me that such simple ingredients can together make such amazing deliciousness! This is why baking especially appeals to me because it’s guided but subjective. There’s room for adaptations and yet there are certain rules to the science of baking that guide you. I am trying to retain these guidelines in my own experimenting. I have to admit, there are lots of flops that come out of my kitchen! As frustrating as a disappointing result can be, it is still energizing and satisfying to pour myself into a recipe. Such joy when my family really enjoys something my hands have put together and by the grace of God it actually turned out appealing! Yes, I have lots of those moments. Sometimes I feel..wonder…what kind of foodie would I be if I really had the time to search, bake, cook, photograph, taste and write the way my heart desires? That question, that longing that stirs in my heart and mind all the time and lures me into the kitchen is what excites me to finish those odd mom-jobs during the day. My kitchen is waiting… Baby crying again…ah to wondering…