Saturday, February 12, 2011

TWD: Dimply Plum Cake

Michelle of Bake-en selected the Dimply Plum Cake for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. It seemed like the perfect fall recipe with the plums, but I really wasn't sure how this was going to turn out. I mean, when I hear "cake", "plum" usually isn't in the same sentence. For me though, TWD is all about trying new things, so I decided to jump right in! I actually was a little excited though as I perused the ingredient list a little more closely. I saw that this recipe has a touch of ground cardamom. I recently bought a ton of cardamom to use in my chai tea and was glad to finally have another use for it.

This recipe was super easy to put together. Dorie does suggest using Italian prune plums if possible, but my local grocery store didn't have those today. I was just going to get some purple plums when my husband convinced me to grab a few different varieties. I grabbed some super ripe purple plums, a few red ones, and some of the new pluots (which by the way, are a cross between a plum and an apricot and are super sweet and super yum!) Since these plums were larger than the ones Dorie suggested, I could only fit 9 plum halves instead of 12. No biggie though!

I was a little worried about how this was going to turn out as I peaked into the oven 30 minutes into baking it. The cake was starting to really puff up and almost enveloped the plums! The sides were also started to brown while the middle was still nowhere near close to done. I crossed my fingers and said a little prayer to the baking fairies.

After 15 more minutes, the crust was browned all over and a toothpick in the middle came out pretty much clean. I didn't want to risk burning the top, so I pulled it out right at 45 minutes. Once I set it on the cooling rack, I was please to see all the different color variations from the different plum varieties! The bright pink ones are the pluots, the dark-colored runny ones are the super ripe purple plums, and the bland looking ones are the red plums.

After allowing the cake to cool, I sliced out a corner piece with the runny purple plum and took a bite... a bite into heaven! I loved the flavors in the cake! I could definitely taste the cardamom but only a hint of it. (By the way, I had a cup of chai tea with cardmom to drink with this -- FABULOUS!) I could also taste a hint of the orange zest which was a great compliment to the sweet/tart flavor of the warm, juicy plum. So yum! My favorite part of the cake though was something that probably wasn't supposed to be there. My cake was slightly underdone in the areas between the plums... but I didn't care! I loved the flavor even more!

I am normally satisfied with just one piece of desert, but I had to go for another. This time, I grabbed a piece with a red plum. The fruit was not as ripe so it was a little tough to cut through with just a fork, but it tasted yummy as well.

I saved one piece with the pluot for my snack tomorrow, but the rest is going to work with my husband. Dorie says this cake is just good for about 2 days, so unfortunately, I won't be able to make this one last. Oh well, it was good while I did have it! Thanks for choosing this one Michelle!

***UPDATE: I had the piece with the pluot today. It was the best by far! If I make this again, I will either make it with super ripe plums or with all pluots. Mmmm! Unfortunately though, this yummy cake didn't get such a warm reception from others. My DH took it to work but apparently very few people... like um, 2, tried it. Apparently it looked too "weird" and nobody really seemed adventurous enough to try it. Bummer! Oh well. If I make this again, I'll just cut the recipe in half and have it all to myself! Mwaaa haaa haaaaaa!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Try at Making Christmas Cards

Okay, so every year I say that I am going to make my own Christmas cards using my seemingly endless supply of scrapbook stuff. Well this year, I actually got a couple done. I'm not sure how I like them though. They look kind of plain to me. Any ideas on how to jazz them up? Which one (if any) do you like best? My husband likes the one in the bottom photo in the middle. (Exluding the one in the middle of the second photo which is not done,) that's the one I like the least! I like the one on the left in the top photo. He said it's not "festive" enough. Hmmm, any tips?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Book Review: Twilight

***Spoiler Alert*** Well, it took me just two days, but I finished Twilight! Overall, the story was a fun read that certainly didn't require any "deep" thinking on my part, which is sometimes good. It was definitely entertaining. What I didn't like about it though was that the relationship between Bella and Edward I found to be juvenile. Of course they are in high school so HELLO? of course it's going to be! I don't know, I guess I was just hoping for something deeper. For most of the story, all Bella talks about is how "beautiful" and "godlike" (ironically enough) Edward, her vampire beau is. And Edward is mesmerized by how different she is from the other girls at school (classic) and how her scent is intoxicating to him. Hmmm, would he love her as much if she didn't smell so yummy to him? A question all of us ladies ponder! I digress.... Anyhow, their love affair is innocent and endearing. Their "us against the world" attitude is little much for me at times though. She wants him to give her the "kiss of death," if you will, but he refuses. He refuses to take away the life that still lies before her, yet she is convinced that a life without him is a life not worth living. Hey sister -- You're 17! Quit being so darn dramatic! Yet, I believe I said those same things too at 17 -- hmm....

While I wanted to yell at the young and naive Bella at times, the character of Edward kept me turning page after page. I found him to be a far more intriguing character with complexities that Bella simply can't match. I kept begging the author to tell me more about him! She refused to give in to me, at least yet. (Character development is not strong in this book.) So it appears that I will have to read the other books in the series to delve deeper in the mind of our young, "godlike" vamp and to see how his and Bella's tortured romance unfolds.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Completed a Challenge!

So I said that I wanted to do more challenges, so last night, I tried to make a card using four different stamps for a challenge on the Two Peas stamping board. Well, I read on somebody's blog (sorry, I forget who!) about these cool directions on how to make a criss cross card. The directions are available at Split Coast Stampers. (HERE is a list of all sorts of project ideas!) Anyhow I decided to do both projects in one! I had a little trouble with the stamps on the green band, but I think it still came out okay. The card is not completely done yet. I think it's still missing something, but I'm not quite sure. Still thinking about what to do. Anyhow, here is it!

And here is another card I made last night. This is a TOTAL scraplift though, so I must give credit to Paula over on the Stamping MB at Two Peas. HERE is her original. I have that same stamp and have been puzzled over how to use it! Here is my version. I hope she doesn't mind that I borrowed her idea!

I liked this layout so much, I made another card using a different stamp. I especially liked this stamp because if you look carefully at the flower, it has a paisley design, just like the PP! (Hard to see in pic. SORRY!)

I still want to add a little extra to these cards too. I have to wait until my next trip to Archivers though to get what I want. That'll maybe be next weekend though! Yea!

Well, I think that is all for me for today. My husband has been out of town all week for business and is finally coming home tonight. We're planning on going out to dinner and then just getting some well-needed relaxing for the both of us! TGIF! Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Trying to Persevere Day 1...and MANGOS!

Today is my first day off (again) from running. I'm planning on taking at least a full week off, maybe even two. I worked out on my elliptical today for about 30 minutes. I wanted to go 40, but my knee started to hurt, so I stopped. During those 30 minutes, I pushed as hard as I could so that I could get my heart rate up, but it didn't seem to want to budge! (I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing!) Well, even though I was at a "conversational pace" nearly the whole time, my legs felt like jello when I got off! I didn't stop there though! After the ellliptical, I did a little Pilates. I got a new target toning Pilates DVD. It's by Denise Austin who can be slightly annoying at times, but the DVD itself is pretty cool because it has 6 or so different workouts for all different areas of the body (and 1 workout for full body) and you can totally customize your workout by choosing which ones you want to do through the menu, then the DVD will play only those. Cool! Anyway, I just the beginner's abs workout, and then the hips and the butt workout. All of those should help with my IT band problems.

Oh, and btw, in case you are wondering WTH an IT band even is, I think this image depicts it well... So anyhow, I think my IT band is getting much better. My left knee is really the only one that really hurts now, and even then, it's not as bad as it has been. Hopefully, it'll be gone soon.

So aside from that, I did have another positive result from this injury. Here's the short story: injured knees leads to time on the couch icing knees. That leads to increased tv watching, specifically, shows I would never normally watch. This leads to the Food Network and the discovery of (a) a cool show called Iron Chef America, and (b) the founding of two cool new recipes! First, Iron Chef...the best part of the show is the opening. It's a cooking show but they are so completely dramatic about it -- it's hilarious! My fave part though is when they reveal the secret ingredient. I could describe it, or you could just see for yourself...


Okay, now onto the new recipes I found. I made scallops provencal with herbed rice. It was my first time cooking and eating scallops and they turned out AWESOME! Both things were super YUM and super easy to make too! I'll try to post the recipes, or at least link them tomorrow! (The website where I got the recipes is being fiesty right now! UPDATE: They are linked now!)

Bursting with Blueberry Goodness

After making the double crusted blueberry pie for TWD, I had a cup of blueberries left over. It was the perfect amount for making the Orange Berry Muffins also from the book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. This recipe was a nice respite from the blueberry pie. It was so quick and easy -- in just about an hour after starting, I was already tasting my sweet success.

The recipe is pretty basic, the only difference maybe was that it had orange zest that you actually rubbed into the sugar to bring out the flavor more. I've not done that before. It was a nice little touch.

Other than that, I thought the recipe came together well. The batter was thick and easy to scoop into the muffin tins. Oh, BTW, I've learned to use an ice cream scoop or melon baller to get the batter into the tins pretty nicely! Just a little tip! After the batter went into the oven, the recipe said that you could sprinkle some sugar on top after about 10 minutes in, but I decided not to. The muffins puffed up pretty fast and quickly baked up in just 20 minutes. When I pulled them out of the oven, I could see many of the blueberries had burst, allowing their sugary goodness to escape. I had to save one by eating it immediately! While it was pretty yummy, I wished I had sprinkled some sugar on top after all. I think it would have sweetened them up a bit. In fact, they kind of had a savory, corn bread like taste. I have no idea where that came from. There was no corn meal or anything like that in the batter, so I don't know. At first I thought it was just me who was tasting that, but then another person who tasted them said the exact same thing. Oh well. If I make these again, I'll definitely add a little more sweetness with the sugar.