Monday, December 15, 2008
Chocolate Blackout Cake
serves 10 to 12
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups half & half
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE PUDDING
1. Cook the granulated sugar,, chocolate, half & half, milk, cornstarch and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat, whisking occassionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture begins to buble, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Transfer the pudding to a large bowl and refrigerate, with plastic wrap pressed flush against to surface, until cold and set, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
FOR THE CAKE
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 8"inch cake pans. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Off the heat, whisk in the coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved. Whisk in the flour mixture. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans and smooth with a spatula.
2. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers come out clean, 30 to 35 mintes, rotating the cake pans halfway through baking. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Cool the cakes to room temperature before frosting, at least 1 hour.
1. Using a large serrated knife, slice each cake into 2 even layers. Crumble 1 cake layer into medium crumbs and set aside. Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or cardboard round. Spread 1 cup of the pudding over the cake layer and top with another layer. Repeat with 1 cup more pudding and the last cake layer. Spread the remaining pudding evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the cake crumbs evenly over the top and sides of the cake, pressing lightly to adhere the crumbs. Slice and serve.
Where things can go wrong: make sure to give the pudding and the cake enough time to cool or you'll end up with runny pudding and gummy cake.
This cake was a huge hit at our recent Family Christmas Party but be warned it is very rich and SO fantastic!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
We got a Christmas Tree permit while we were in Capitol Reef at Ralph's Family's cabin this weekend. It was great, we found a cute little guy that is the perfect size for our little apartment.
Ralph and his silly brothers
Hiking to Hickman Bridge in Capitol Reef
Monday, November 3, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Ralph riding the Flow Rider in Mission Beach with Mike our brother in law was definitely a highlight...
Wipe out...Knowing wipe out is inevitable...
Mike practiced on the flow rider with Ralph for one hour then stepped it and went on the big wave... he was grinning the rest of the night... what an adrenaline junky.This little boy is the sweetest little monster ever!
We also went to Universal Studios and Sea World it was a whirlwind of a trip with just one full day at the beach but it was so nice to get some sun and play for a bit with Ralph's whole family kiddies and all!
Sunday, October 5, 2008
The perfect activity for a rainy weekend in the autumn... canning. There's something about storing up food for the coming winter months that makes me recall my inner animal instincts. Now if only I would be allowed to just eat a lot, build up some fat stores, and hibernate for the winter... that would be the life. Actually, there is just something so beautiful about the pretty colored food canned in those glass jars all lined up nice and tidy. Wow, I've become my mother!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
This posting goes out to our dear friend Thane Campbell, whose name and as we learned last night truly came straight from heaven. Thank goodness, his wonderful family is there to feed his enormous ego we know and love him for. You truly came straight from Heaven, Thane.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Our anniversary was August 31 and I forgot to announce to the world how happy we still are. I did not forget that it was our anniversary though... we had a wonderful weekend of backpacking in the uintahs and then lounging about and watching all the pixar movies. Of course you already saw the amazing couch that I /we got for our anniversary. Probably what you didn't see is how Ralph still makes me laugh every day often against my own will and how I put up with his nerdlike tendancies so easily. I have to admit, every time I hear about siblings or friends complain about the dating world, I realize that these really have been two years of bliss.
Monday, September 1, 2008
We went up in the Uintah's this weekend for a quick backpacking trip luckily it was perfect weather, before the big storm hit on sunday and monday! The lake was freezing but the fish were biting and ralph told us the story "How sugar was made" around the campfire, he is the fire master! It was the perfect little getaway!
Monday, August 18, 2008
I've done it, I finally found THE couch! Whoever says money can't buy happiness hasn't found the right couch. I went to The Green Ant today, and there it was at the very back of the store, I walked around and around. I looked at the price tag and knew I shouldn't buy it but it was calling to me. I even said, "oh no", out loud, and the sales lady asked me what was wrong and I said, "I think I am just going to have to buy this". And then of course she started on about how amazing it was and how there was some other people who had had it on hold but didn't go through with the purchase. I called ralph right away to have him come take a sit test, because I knew he would not like it unless it was comfy. I convinced him this was the prefect anniversary present, and bahdaboom it was mine. I think more than anything he was happy because I won't have to look for another couch for a long, long time. And I'm happy because I finally found a couch that is gorgeously designed, comfy, and is an investment, Peter Hvidt designs have been increasing in value a lot lately. So, if anyone out there needs a mid-century modern fix... The Green Ant is amazing! they are right in sugarhouse and so so helpful!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
These are a few of my recent felt creations, one of my new favorite materials, it is so forgiving, and so easy to work with. I cannot, however, take credit for these adorable and cheeky designs I got most of the patterns from a book called Softies. So, say hello to Ouchy Bear as dubbed by Ralph he is a little bit Frankenstein, a little bit hobo, and a lotta bit cute; The Lonely Dollop (yes he is a stuffed poo dollop now currently residing at my brother, Dan's home. He is getting the stare down from my rubber ducky LeRoy); and the little heartfelt bunny who is hopefully being squeezed in the chubby little fist of my new niece Reagan!
Monday, July 14, 2008
Cheesin' it up in Lake Powell
Saturday, June 21, 2008
I just have to give props to Mike and Alta.... you two are AMAZING!!! okay not only did they just run their butts off all night as part of a hundred mile race... but they are parents to three pretty spectacular, albeit tiring, children. Ralph and I babysat for just a mere 24 hours well lets be precise more like 30 hours, and I am exhausted! as you can see in my picture I am pretty tired. okay okay its not me but thats how I feel! We love charlie, lizzie, and elliot, they are awesome kids and it was such a good learning experience but please god.... do not send us three all at once.
Sunday, June 8, 2008
2 Tbls peanut oil
1.5 - 2.0 lbs of your favorite stir fry meat
1/5 cup corn starch
3 cups rice (uncooked)
1/2 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup brown sugar
1.5 Tbls corn starch
2 tsp sriracha hot chili sauce
2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbls sesame oil
First, put the rice in a rice cooker and get it going. I prefer this ratio because the rice still has some substance. When it is done, you don't need to take the lid off, or anything, just let it sit.
Find a cut of meat that you enjoy. As I said in the last recipe, don't scrimp on the ingredients. Crappy ingredients mean crappy dishes. I used some trimmed beef tenderloin, aka fillet Mignon. Next, cut the meat so that your pieces are about 1 inch by 1.5 to 2 inches. And make them about 1/4 inch think. Remember to pay attention to the direction of the muscle fibers or you will have some tough meat. The fibers should be 1/4 inch long. Then put the meat in a bowl and coat with the corn starch and let sit for about 10 min.
For the sauce, I find that it is easier to combine the corn starch and soy sauce first and then add everything else. Whisk it together and all that is left it to cook it. But not yet.
Get a frying pan that is at least 8 or 9 inches on the bottom. Heat it up, I cooked at med-hi and add one Tbls of the peanut oil. Carefully place the meat on the bottom of the pan so that it is flat and the largest amount of surface area is down. When you have laid about 10 pieces, you will need to start turning them over. DO NOT LET THEM OVER COOK. To quote Simply Ming, "there is nothing worse than over cooked beef. " You will want them to be tender. Beef should have at least a shadow of red in the meat. Continue until all of the meat has been seared, adding more oil when necessary and removing the cooked pieces when they are ready. Then, when all meat has been removed, pour in the sauce. It will start to bubble and rise up the side of the pan, just remove it from the heat for a couple of seconds and it will go back down. Stir it so that it doesn't burn and when it is the consistency you like, I like it a little bit sticky, pour off about 1/3 of a cup into the bowl with the meat. Stir the rice in to the rest of the sauce over the heat. This is where a bigger pan is helpful. After about a minute, remove it from the heat and put the rice in a bowl and place some meat on top with some of the extra sauce.
I accidentally added the originally needed 1/4 cup of sugar and thus needed to add more soy sauce and more cornstarch. The soy sauce and the brown sugar are supposed to be equal parts but I didn't want that much sauce so I didn't add that much more. But this is way better than the previous recipe so. Enjoy.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
No no no, not that kind of clubbing. The golf kind of clubbing has been our most recent obsession and I was given brand spanking new golf clubs for my birthday! Yippee, it is so fun to find things we can learn and enjoy together. So if anyone out there needs some golf partners we are just waiting for your call....
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I was going through stuff at school today trying to get ready for the end of the year and I found this note, it is acutally pretty big (2 ftX 3ft.) This was probably one of my very first days teaching and this is a Kindergarten class who was a bit rowdy. They lined up to leave and the teacher had them all say "Sorry, Mrs. Davis..." but then three of them came back an hour later and handed me this giant note. They looked so cute and sincerely sorry, and the teacher smiled and said... "this just took us an hour..." It was so endearing, and absolutely adorable! I just had to post it. So this is one of the reasons I teach... you never know what might happen and the kids are so funny... I laugh every day.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
We got to babysit baby Elliot today he is such a cutie patootie. Ralph was making faces and he would try to make the same face back, awww he was so cute. It is always so fun to see how, especially if you don't have kids yet, how your husband acts around kids, Ralph is a natural. I also had to show our niece Lizzie's birthday present to her uncle Ralphy, first of all as a teacher I have to acknowledge how good her handwriting is, seriously, way to go Lizzie! And the best part is the paper tube is the gift it is a telescope she made him. I don't know why but I think that is one of the coolest presents Ralph got, she made it herself, and I can just imagine her thinking he would have fun with it. We love all our nephews and niece we are so glad they are in our lives.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Most of my loyal blog readers are my family so too bad if you are sick of the birthday shout out's most of my family was born in May and a lot of it in the first week, so here is the B-day shout out to Kelly and Eric. I can't believe this is the only picture I have of Eric but I love it, it's one of those timeless and beautiful pictures where every sibling in your family thinks it is them or at least wants it to be, but nope, it is Eric. Shucks. Eric is an awesome brother and he and his wife Maere have set a pretty high standard in producing a beautiful boy and in raising him, lets hope the rest of the siblings can take a cue... honestly though, I've loved seeing him become a father it really suits him and you can tell he loves it! Happy Birthday Eric I love you!
Kelly is the one making the most incredible face I've ever seen her make and let me tell you she has some good ones. Kelly is... well... just look at her... she is funny, and creative, and beautiful, and is stubborn sometimes about some really funny things. I specifically remember the moment she stopped doing everything I told her to... aww come on you know how older sisters are and I was like twelve... anyway, she just said no...walked away, and she has never looked back since. Kelly likes doing her own things, her own way, with her own style and I love that about her. Happy Birthday Kelly, I love you!
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Two of my very favorite people are celebrating tomorrow. Heidi and Ralph are both May Day babies. Yes for those of you who may not know... Heidi is the one in the red hat. I love this picture because this was Heidi when we were growing up; weird cowgirl shirt handmedown, no visible long blonde hair, her face hiding under a giant baseball cap, oh and you can't see in this picture but she is probably wearing really clunky ten pound hiking boots. (I still have the bruises on my shins...) Plus she is Graduating from Utah State this weekend! Way to go Heidi! I love you! You are an amazing person and a great sister.
Ralph always gloats about what a cute baby he was... well, maybe it's just because he is my husband but if you know Ralph... you may have seen this adorable, enthusiastic, childlike look on his face. And the coolest thing about Ralph is... is that I don't mean maybe you saw it when he was little, or ten years ago... I mean... you can see it in his face almost every single day. That is my favorite thing about Ralph, he manages to remain childlike in the best ways... his enthusiasm... his willingness to play... his humility... and most of all his genuine sweetness. I am so lucky... an awesome sister, and a sweetheart of a husband. Happy Happy Birthday.
Isn't it the way life always works that the second you make a decision and settle for something, the perfect thing pops right into your life. Okay perhaps this is a bit dramatic but I settled on buying a couch which is a great couch and was a STEAL. But I was holding out for so long waiting for the perfect couch, I searched and searched, and came up with nothing. Then, boom, two months after I settle, this little beauty was for sale on Urban Outfitters. Those who don't have a flair for the mid-century modern may not understand but when I saw this I literally cried out, oh my gosh! You can ask Ralph he will vouch, I made him come over to look and he sweetly pretended to be interested. Well, perhaps I can convince Ralph to spend our gov't economy boost moolah. Pretty please....
Friday, April 11, 2008
I've finally done it.... I cut off my hair...sniff...sniff, I will admit I did have a bit of a break down this afternoon but Ralph is amazing and he has been raving about how much he likes it...I have the best husband in the world. Well it was about time I made a change, I've had the same hair for about ten years...wow it is crazy to think I've been stuck in a rut for ten years with the same old haircut. It is equally as crazy how attatched I was, but honestly it has been the one thing I am always complimented on, so as you can imagine I didn't want to give it up. It is also a huge relief not only was my hair heavy but it is nice to have a fresh new outlook on life. Besides I feel extra spunky now!
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
We've been peeking in our little flats every hour for the past week, waiting in anticipation, watching as if we might will the little seeds to grow with the power of our stares and and yesterday low and behold, our little plants have sprouted. Today they have magically multiplied and unfurled their tiny little leaves. Oh, they are so cute! If you've never grown anything, you should try it.... it really is magical.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Is it actually coming? Has spring almost sprung. This winter has done a number on our backs ( okay, okay... Ralph's back) with the enormous amounts of snow, and it looks like it has still been putting up a fight these last couple of days. But we are trusting in the seasons and Ralph finally gets to use all of his Math skills as we have been planning our garden with Ralph's perfectly accurate and to-scale drawing of our little plot o' land out back. He has been working diligently and enthusiastically on measurements and we have finally selected our seeds... yes, I said seeds, we got ambitious this year and wanted to start our plants from seeds. We are planting some wonderful heirloom varieties this year, we ordered them from www.seedsavers.com , a really neat company which lets growers sell and share their heirloom seeds, which is cool because of the staggering numbers of seed extinctions by big corporations who "own" the rights to those seeds. All this info is from a great book we've been listening to by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," it is really interesting and we really recommend it to anyone who cares about the food they eat.
The veggies we've picked also have amazing names, sheepnose pimento peppers, japanese trifele black tomatoes, and tango lettuce,(pictured above) are just some of them... I'm just excited to finally see something alive and growing again, and I admit I kinda like coming in the house with fresh picked, tomatoes, peppers, and zuchinni, and picking the dark dirt from under my nails as ralph throws together a light, fresh summer pasta. yummmmm... I can't wait.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Today will be a change from the normal, as Ralph is writing the blog instead of Jenny. Today I will post a new recipe that I tried Saturday night with unexpected success. I got it out of my new cook book "The best of America's test Kitchen 2008" I got it on Friday and there are some sweet recipes in there. This one was called "Perfecting Penne alla Vodka." It shows you how to avoid the common pitfalls that often ruin this dish by making it taste too boozy or too heavy. The recipe is really simple and it only takes about 30 minutes to make. So here it is.
28 oz. Whole canned tomatoes, drained and liquid reserved
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 Garlic Cloves minced or pressed
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt to taste (I prefer kosher salt but the book uses regular table salt)
1/3 cup Vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream
16 oz. penne pasta (This noodle is great for this recipe)
2 Tablespoons minced fresh basil
Grated parmesan cheese for serving
There are a few important things to notice on the ingredient list.
Firstly, the vodka. Do not use vodka you would not drink by itself. By that I mean, if it tastes terrible by itself, it will taste terrible in the pasta. Get the stuff that has been distilled at least 3 times. It removes most of the extra crap that makes the vodka taste awful. Grey Goose was recommended by the book but I am not wealthy enough to spend that much on something that I will not use that often. I used Smirnoff to great effect.
Secondly, the basil will only add to the dish if it is fresh. Don't try to use dried basil. It is just no good.
Thirdly, half of the tomatoes should be pureed in a blender or food processor. The other half should be cut into about 1/2 inch pieces. Then put all of them in a glass liquid measuring cup. Add the reserved liquid until there are 2 cups of fluid.
Lastly, the parmesan should be used very sparingly. It doesn't need much. The cream adds the richness and the parmesan can overpower the other flavors if you use too much.
Now to the process.
Put on a pot of water to boil now. Pour in some salt to season it.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat until it begins to glisten. Then Put in the onions. Cook them until they start to turn translucent and then add the tomato past. Cook those stirring fairly often until the edges of the onion start to turn a golden color. Then pour in the chili flakes and the garlic. Cook until it is aromatic and the pour in the tomatoes. Don't let the garlic cook too long before adding them or it will start to go bitter. Once the tomatoes are in, move the pan off of the heat for safety's sake and add the vodka. Then return the pan to the heat and crank it up to medium high heat. Don't cover it.
I hope you didn't forget to put the water on to boil because if you did, you just doubled the time it takes to make this. If you did put the water on, it should be boiling now. Put in your noodles and find a temperature where the water will not go over the top but will keep a steady rolling boil.
Now back to the tomatoes. With the lid off, it will start to cook down. Stir it so that it doesn't burn onto the bottom of the pan. And if it starts to boil too vigorously, turn the heat down. It will be fine if it needs to stay around medium, all ranges are different anyway. Cook the tomatoes and vodka for about 8-10 minutes. During this time, you should be checking and stirring the noodles. When it is to the point that they are almost done, just a little substance to them, or "al-dente," strain them and reserve about 1/4 cup of the fluid incase you need it to thin the sauce. After about 8-10 minutes the tomatoes should be at a nice consistency, so add the cream. Cook it until it is hot, and then pour in the strained noodles. Stir them for about 2 minutes over medium heat or until the noodles are the way you like them. If the sauce is too thick, add a little of the noodle water. Stir in the minced basil and season with salt to taste. Then serve it with just a little sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Less is more with this one.
I hope you like it as much as we did.
Friday, March 28, 2008
If you don't already know Elliot, he is Ralph's sister Alta's, little boy and our sweet little nephew. Ralph is very attatched to him, and I can already tell that just like all the nephews he loves his Uncle Ralphie. Elliot has cystic fibrosis, a terminal illness, where he can't get the nutrients he needs from his food and he can't fight off infections in his lungs. He endures lots of treatments and medications like a little champ but if you haven't already seen the video on Alta's Blog (www.altaehales.blogspot.com), take a look. If you want to be involved in the Great Strides Event on May 17, at wheeler farm he can always use more support. Ralph and I will be there so if we're there you know if will be a good time...