Sunday, November 22, 2009

Surf's up!

Hi, I'm Crabby! Well, no, not really...but I could be. It's been cake city around here, and that's why I've been a tad MIA these days here at the 'ol blog. I posted on Facebook and Twitter recently that I make cakes and wouldn't ya know, people came a callin'!

This cake was for little Kade who recently turned one. His mom said they were having a surfboard themed party, drawing inspiration from his party invitations. So, using the invitation as a guide, I molded and slightly carved the surfboard out of Rice Krispy treats. Later I covered it in fondant to match the invitation.

Mr Crabs here I molded out of white fondant and rested him on my coffee scoop to harden a bit. Later I painted him with various food colorings until he got that mottled look.

I formed starfish and sand dollars out of fondant, letting them rest on various sized measuring spoons. That gave them more of a realistic shape. I painted, then sprinkled them with a bit of edible glitter to give them that slightly wet, shiny look.

Of course, every little surf boarder has to have some surfwax so he doesn't fall off the board.

A bit of golden sugar crystals on top of tons of real buttercream give us that sandy beach effect.

From crab, to surfboard, to cake, all completly edible...

I know 'ol Ace of Cakes and the Cake Boss can whip their cakes out at a moments notice with a team of plenty. Not me though. I'm just a team of one. Think I can get a show..? I'll even do my own dishes...

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Black Bean and Beef Empanadas

It used to be every few days or so, I take a walk to the mailbox, excited to get a treasured piece of snail mail. Now, I have a tendency to wait a week, or more, due to the sheer volume of junk mail. I feel like all I am doing is emptying a junk drawer, right into the trash. Or, more often than not, I fling it on my counter until I have time to sort through it and make sure I didn't miss the occasional, yet rare bit of important news.

I had some company coming over, and so I was forced into cleaning up the counters a bit and actually looking at the papers that decorated that side of the kitchen. In doing so, I came across a small circular from my local grocery store, Fry's, celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. On the cover was a delicious looking chorizo and black bean empanada.

Already wondering what I was going to make for dinner that night, this seemed to hit the right flavor button. I had to make a few adjustments to the ingredients, but I think the changes turned out really well. I substituted some ground beef for the chorizo, and added some chorizo seasoning instead. I added some frozen corn I had on hand, and instead of using the recommended ready made pie crust, I made my own. If I can encourage you in any way, please, make your own crust! Homemade crust is so much flakier and flavorful. That said, I won't fault any of you that haven't mastered that task, or aren't connoisseur's of crust. However, I really feel it contributes greatly to the overall flavor of the empanada. My husband and Mother-in-law both thought these were fantastic!

It was when I was baking these though, that I realized my oven had a serious temperature problem- about 80 F cooler than the temperature I had set it at. You'll notice that in my last photo- the dough looks a little undercooked. Well, over a few weeks the burners on the stove top stopped working, too. But a few desperate phone calls and I discovered that my Home Warranty would cover the potential pre-Thanksgiving disaster, not to mention my sorely neglected blog~ whew!

Black Bean and Beef Empanadas
adapted from Frys Food Stores

1/2 lb ground beef
2 Tbs Chorizo seasoning
1/2 c chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1 15 oz can black beans, drained
1 c corn
3/4 c chicken stock
2 c shredded cheddar cheese
4 uncooked chilled pie crusts- home made preferably but ready made acceptable
Preferred toppings: sour cream, salsa, and guacamole

In a large pan combine ground beef with chorizo seasoning, onion, garlic, cumin, cilantro and salt. When beef is no longer pink, add black beans, corn and chicken stock, simmering about 5 minutes or until not too runny. Remove from heat and add 1 c of the shredded cheddar and mix well. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, roll out dough on a well floured surface. With a cookie cutter or bowl, make 6" circles. Place a generous Tablespoon of filling just off center in circle of dough. Sprinkle lightly with some of remaining cup of shredded cheddar. Fold the dough over the filling, forming a half circle, and crimp the edges with a floured fork to seal. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. If desired, brush tops of empanadas with an egg wash.

Bake at 375 F for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. Makes approximately 25 empanadas. Sometimes you may have a bit of leftover filling. Served with some warm tortilla's, it is just as delicious! Enjoy!

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