Recipes Do Work!

Imagine that.  I have been fearful of baking for much of my life.  Truth is, I am horrible at following instructions.  As a kid, I would be the one coloring outside the lines with a sharpie marker.  I was every teacher’s worst nightmare.  Imagine my surprise when my latest baking creations not only looked like the picture in the recipe, but tasted pretty darned good too (in all modesty).  I diligently followed every recipe to the tee and by George, it worked!  I’m including references to the recipes I found online.  I have also recommended some minor adjustments, where noted.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake (copied directly from website)

Source: http://baking.about.com/od/bundtcakes/r/lemonpoppy.htm

Adding fresh lemon to the recipe for Easy Lemon Poppy Seed Cake makes all the difference.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 65 minutes

Ingredients:

  • One 18-1/4 ounce Yellow Cake Mix
  • One 4-serving size Instant Lemon Pudding Mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Combine dry cake mix and dry pudding mix. Add eggs, water and oil and stir until well blended. Stir in poppy seeds, lemon zest and juice. Pour mix into Bundt pan. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F. If top of cake looks wet after that time, turn oven off and let it bake a few more minutes. Remove cake from oven and let it cool at room temperature for 15-20 minutes, then invert into serving plate. When completely cool, sift powdered sugar over the top, OR make a simple glaze and let it dribble over the cake.

 

* The cake can be prepared a day ahead of time and stored in a covered cake plate or sliced and stored in an airtight container on the counter.  The eggs in the cake really keep it quite moist.  I served the cake with a side of Trader Joe’s Lemon Curd, which was delicious.

Bread Pudding
Source:  http://www.athoughtforfood.net/2010/06/recipe-best-bread-pudding.html
Ingredients
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large beaten eggs
2 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup brandyDirections
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.

Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.
Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.For the sauce
Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Add the brandy, stirring well. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

* The only thing I would change if I made this again, is cut the amount of brown sugar on the top in half.  There was just a tad too much sugar and crunch, but otherwise it was perfect.  The brandy gives it a nice kick as well.

The tea party this weekend went off without a hitch.  I thoroughly enjoyed baking the goodies and decorating the space.  Can’t thank Hubby Dear enough for helping with all the cleaning (that’s tireless devotion).  It was good to enjoy the company of good friends on an otherwise gloomy Saturday afternoon.  It’s heartening to know that good ol’ fashioned conversation still has a place  in this day of instant (and constant) communication (texting, Twitter, Facebook).

With baking semi “under-my-belt,” I set about on Sunday trying to find sewing classes in the area.  Several Bing searches later, I was disappointed in the lack of formal classes in the tri-valley area.  I expanded my search to San Francisco and Oakland and discovered a website called “Better Living Through Sewing (http://www.betterlivingthroughsewing.com).  The Yelp reviews have been pretty positive about these classes, so I’ve decided to give it a shot.  I’ll be starting my Ins and Outs of Commercial Patterns class on the 2oth of this month.  It’s a 4-part class and we will be designing a pair of pants or a skirt of our choice to be completed by the last class.  I am pretty excited.  I saw some skirts at Anthropologie that I’ll use as inspiration.  If these classes go well, I may sign up for the second series called Copy a Garment, where you learn how to replicate your favorite articles of clothing without deconstructing them.

Source:  http:// http://www.anthropologie.com

February is going to be a busy (and quick) month.  We have something or the other going on every weekend of the month and my days continued to be filled with little projects here and there, my walks, and Bikram Yoga.  The weather is picking up and there are more days of sun now than rain.  Spring feels like it’s just around the corner.  In March, I’ll start working on my patio garden.  Over the last couple of years I’ve had success growing tomatoes, serrano peppers, Thai chilli peppers, and even eggplant.  I’ll have to figure out what goodies to plant this year.  So much to look forward to!

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