Tuesday, September 29, 2009

chocolate and daisies

Megan asked me to make a cake the other day for the relief society broadcast where a few special people were celebrating birthdays and it turned out..AMAZING
By the way, I just found my new favorite frosting, from the wonderful martha stewart.
This was a 10 inch cake, which I decided is my new favorite cake size also!




Martha's Mrs. Millman's Recipe

24 ounces semisweet chocolate

4 cups heavy cream

1 t. corn syrup

Put chocolate and cream into a medium saucepan. Cook over med-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon/spatula, until thick; about 30-35 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in corn syrup. Transfer to a large metal bowl. Refrigerate until frosting is cool enough to spread (and the right consistency). This will take about 2 hours, stir every 20 minutes or so. If you refrigerate it over night, you will need to get it room temperature before you can frost with it.

For this size cake, which was a double batch, I added another bag of chocolate chips, so it was about 36 ounces of chocolate, but the same amount of cream. Also, you can use milk chocolate if you want it sweeter. I used half milk chocolate, half semisweet.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Lizzie's Nemo Birthday!

So Jana posted these pictures awhile ago, and I just never got around to getting the pictures of the cake, but here it is, my nemo cake :)

Happy late birthday to Lizzie :)

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another leftover pasta salad!!

I don't know if you've noticed, but I love love love pasta salads!! For the most part my pasta salads are on the healthy side, unless I'm making a tradition macaroni salad with a mayonnaise base. Also, when I need a quick dinner for just myself, or bringing something to the boyfriend at work, it's one of the quickest and easiest meals to make!! So I hope you try one of my pasta salad concoctions soon, because I think you will be quite satisfied, and you can add or switch up anything you would like, it's that easy :)
This pasta salad served two... and made with just about all leftover ingredients
2 cups of cooked pasta, from a meal I made earlier in the week
1 chicken breast cut up, leftover from my mom's chicken caesar
1-2 cups chopped tomatoes, I used the heirlooms I got from the Berkeley farmer's market, so there's a whole bunch of different colors going on.
1/2 c. basil chopped, also from the farmer's market
1/2 c. feta cheese, which I always have on hand, they sell them in medium sized containers at costco, as opposed to the tiny ones you regularly see at grocery stores, and it lasts much much longer than your typical cheese.
1/4 c. Italian dressing, or any salad dressing really, I use Newman's Own, Family Italian Recipe, it's amazing, and by far my favorite dressing
salt and pepper to taste
I toasted a few pieces of olive ciabatta bread, also bought at the farmer's market

Some other ideas of things to throw in their...
any kind of olives, green or black
spinach chopped
bacon, or prusciutto, or even salame
sprinkle a little lemon juice for a tang
fresh corn from the cob
shredded parmesan, instead of feta
blue cheese crumbles and toasted pecans
pine nuts

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A recent jumble of artwork

We had an art show at the boys house this past weekend, and I got the chance to show some of my work. Unfortunately I haven't been working on much in the last year (since the last art show) so I decided to start a new project. My sister got me into the dandelion liking, and I've seen a few that I've liked at places like bed bath and beyond or ikea, I think Jana found one she liked at anthropologie; so I wanted to do a painting. I started with the big blue one and decided I would use some of my sketches to paint a few more and then do an oversize collage of a dandelion I guess.
The art show was fabulous, we have a lot of artistic and creative friends.

dandelion collage at kristinannbeck.blogspot.com

Hopefully I'll get some better pictures of the individual pictures soon :)

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Swedish Meatballs

2 slices fresh white bread
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons clarified butter, divided
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
A pinch plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 pound ground chuck
3/4 pound ground pork
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups beef broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Tear the bread into pieces and place in a small mixing bowl along with the milk. Set aside.
In a 12-inch straight sided saute pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions are soft. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the bread and milk mixture, ground chuck, pork, egg yolks, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and onions. Beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes.
Using a scale, weigh meatballs into 1-ounce portions and place on a sheet pan. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds.
Heat the remaining butter in the saute pan over medium-low heat, or in an electric skillet set to 250 degrees F. Add the meatballs and saute until golden brown on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to an ovenproof dish using a slotted spoon and place in the warmed oven.
Once all of the meatballs are cooked, decrease the heat to low and add the flour to the pan or skillet. Whisk until lightly browned, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the beef stock and whisk until sauce begins to thicken. Add the cream and continue to cook until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Remove the meatballs from the oven, cover with the gravy and serve.

Another gem from the wonderful foodnetwork website!

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Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp

20 strips bacon (about 12 ounces)
20 medium-large shrimp, shelled and deveined (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons chopped chipotles in adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground pepper

Soak 5 to 8 bamboo skewers in water for about 20 minutes to keep them from burning on the grill or under the broiler.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet until halfway done, about 4 minutes. Drain and cool on paper towels. Wrap a piece of bacon around the middle of each shrimp; skewer with bamboo through the point where the bacon ends meet to keep it from unraveling. Thread 3 to 5 shrimp on each bamboo skewer.
Puree the barbecue sauce, oil, lemon juice, mustard, chipotles, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper in a blender. Set aside half of the sauce for dipping.
Preheat a grill, grill pan or broiler. Grill or broil shrimp (on a foil-lined baking sheet, if broiling) for 5 minutes, basting with the sauce once they begin to turn pink. Flip, baste again and grill or broil until just cooked through, about 4 more minutes. Serve with extra sauce.

This delightful recipe was found at foodnetwork.com
It's a wonderful place.
Try this recipe with chicken, or salmon, the cook time will be slightly different depending on the meat, but will still be oh so amazing!

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my new favorite thing

When I'm having a bad day, or maybe just a hot day, I now have something for the cure.. frozen yogurt!! The trick is, you can't get just any frozen yogurt. Most places sell non fat ice cream and call it frozen yogurt, but its a hoax. You have to try real frozen yogurt, usually a very tart and tangy flavor with fresh fruit toppings!! I don't know who started this new trend, possibly pinkberry, which is a chain around the US but only in pretty ritzy places.
Close by we have Pink Swirl, which is on Mission blvd, almost to Ohlone college, and even closer, and my new personal favorite, Yogurtuille, in the Panera/Chipotle shopping center on Paseo and Mowry. Try it!! I know you'll love it!!

It's so amazing, you go in, usually it's self serve, and it's by weight, so any number or toppings or flavors and it's so so wonderful. Let me know what you think!! Also, at yogurtiulle, it's buy one get one free! Jen and I took advantage of it just the other day.
Happy Wednesday :)

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

a few hours over in.. Berkeley

Martin and I went out to Berkeley this morning to check out a used gear sale at REI and because we didn't make it out early enough to get first ins, we ended up having a few extra hours to hang out, and it was amazing!! The moment I suggested a possible farmer's market in the area, we happen to drive right by the Berkeley farmers market! We parked, and found it to be are most favorite yet! We bought some delicious white nectarines, heirloom tomatoes (a new recent fav), basil, an orchid, and just down the street we found a toy shop that sold one of Martin's favorite games!!
I would recommend going to farmer's markets in the your area. Santa Cruz was our favorite up until today! But supporting local farmers is a great thing, and we should start to appreciate healthy locally grown things, and helping those who are trying to make a living as opposed to helping company's who already have enough money!

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Friday, September 18, 2009


A few recent pieces of art work.

Have a happy weekend :)

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Tomatoes and Penne

I have a quick and simple recipe for you today. Only a few ingredients, and about 20 minutes to prepare!! And another great thing about this recipe is you can switch up the ingredients, and use whatever you have on hand.

Tomatoes and Penne

1 small box of penne pasta
1 package of sausages
(I used a basil and garlic italian sausage)
4 c. tomatoes, whatever you've got
(I used yellow cherry tomatoes mostly)
1 bunch of basil
1/2 shredded Parmesan

In a large pan of boiling water cook pasta as instructed. While pasta is cooking in a frying pan cook sausages until brown and cooked through (following package instructions). If using cherry tomatoes you can leave whole or cut in half; larger tomatoes I sliced as if putting in a salad. When sausage is done cooking, take off heat and slice at a diagonal. In the same pan you cooked the sausage add some olive oil and saute tomatoes for just a minute or two, you can add garlic or any seasoning you would like, or just salt and pepper. Add sliced sausages to tomato mixture, and saute another minute.
Place drained and rinsed pasta onto a platter, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour tomato sausage mixture over the pasta. Add chopped basil and Parmesan on top of that. Toss at the dinner table before serving.
Serve with caesar salad and sliced sourdough.

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Look at these gorgeous tomatoes from our garden!! We have a few different varieties which I have grown to love, including yellow teardrops, a purple/black heirloom, and a plum yellow. I would recommend instead of planting just your basic red tomato, next year try and find a few heirloom varieties. At the beginning of the planting season I went to a few stores looking for seeds and eventually found a variety pack and planted whatever I had, so it was a surprise to see what I ended up getting in the garden, and I couldn't be happier. You're going to have much more flavor options if you go outside the basic realm of available tomatoes. Grocery stores now even sell varieties of heirloom tomatoes, so next time you're shopping, pick up something new!

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

pasta salad bruschetta

Sometimes when I'm making dinner for the fam I like to throw in an extra side dish or appetizer just to test some of my kitchen skills. Since we've been bombarded by the vegetable production in our garden, my aim is usually to use some of those items. And for any of you who enjoy the leftovers of the wonderful panera, I would suggest using the baguettes, they make it so easy and you can really use just about anything as a topper.
This recipe was concocted the other day and I thought it turned out amazing. If you've ever tried or seen any of my pasta salad recipes, you'll know why this is my "pasta salad bruschetta."
"Pasta Salad Bruschetta"
1 baguette, sliced about 1/4 inch thick at a slight angle
3 tomatoes chopped
1 can black olives diced
3/4 c. green olives diced
3/4 c. feta crumbled
1/4 c. fresh basil chopped or
1 T. Italian seasoning/dry basil
1/4 t. salt
Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place the baguette slices evenly on the pan. Broil on low for about 2 minutes. Keep an eye on the oven, because all ovens cook different and you do not want anything to burn.
In a medium bowl, mix all other ingredients, salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture onto the toasted baguette slices getting as close to the edge as you can (I really pile it on).
Broil for another 2-4 minutes. The cheese should start melting and the tops should be golden brown. Make sure to take out of the oven before the edges of the baguettes burn.
I used about 1/2 of a baguette and it filled a cookie sheet, and I only used half of the tomato mixture. The following day I cooked up a small batch of pasta and added the tomato mixture for a pasta salad lunch.
I believe half of the recipe made about 15 slices, so if you're cooking for a bigger crowd, a whole baguette and the whole recipe should be about 30.
If you're not an olive fan, or for a traditional bruschetta recipe, just take out the olives, everything will cook the same. Also, feel free to use any cheese! Take a look at my artichoke dip bakes if you like the baguette appetizers, they're always a big hit, and one my easy to make recipe!!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hugs cupcakes!

I wanted to make some cupcakes one day, and I had an extra bowl of my vanilla buttercream frosting, so I thought I could try something fun.
With a chocolate box cake mix, I followed the recipe, filled the cupcake pan, and then place a hug on top of each. The hug will start to sink down, but no worries, unfortunately it will eventually sink down to the very bottom. Follow the baking instructions on the box, and let cool before frosted. The hug melts about half way, so if you eat them within a few hours of baking, you should still be able to enjoy the melting action. After frosting the cupcakes I added some chocolate shavings to garnish, with a regular chocolate bar and cheese grater. I kept them in the refrigerator until they were ready to be served, because my buttercream has a tendency to soften easily.
It's an easy way to make a quick and easy dessert look fancy. Give then a try, I think you'll enjoy them!!

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

jack's birthday cake!!


Melissa's boys have a thing for star wars, obviously! The star wars themed party was a lot of fun, and I loved making the cake! Although character drawing is not my specialty, this storm trooper looks alright. I could use some practice. Michael's and a few other stores like walmart carry cake art kits so you don't have to use too much of your own creative talent and you just follow the directions. So if you've ever wanted to do a character cake, that's what I would suggest!!
P.S. Melissa I think you're an amazing mom and wife, and all those crazy boys are lucky to have you ;)

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Friday, September 11, 2009

some more of my art :)

Have I shown you these yet? I'm not sure and I couldn't find them posted. These are some of my favorite pieces of art from when I first started working with pastels and charcoals. I love drawing, I don't know why I don't spend more time doing it. I'm an art major, and I guess after prolonging my college career for so long, I find it as more of a chore. But these drawings I did only for fun, because I love creating and working with beautiful things.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fried Zucchini

Fried zucchini

2 large zucchini
¼ c. flour
¾ c. Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
2 T. melted butter
Salt and pepper

Mix the egg and melted butter in a small bowl (make sure the butter has cooled slightly). In a medium sized bowl mix flour and bread crumbs. Place sliced zucchini in the egg mixture first, let excess drip off, then place in the bread crumb mixture, make sure to cover completely. In a hot frying pan with oil about ½ inch deep you can fry the zucchini. It takes about 2-3 minutes on each side. Instead of a deep fry, you can place the breaded zucchini on a sheet of tin foil over a cookie sheet, and bake at 425 for about 12 minutes on each side. You’re going to want a golden brown before you flip it and then the same amount of time on the other side. Serve right away with ranch dressing or any dipping sauce.

The baked zucchini turned out amazing!! So for a healthier option, try it baked!!

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