Monday, December 8, 2008

The reason why I have been slacking on my blog:


Celebrating the holidays for the first time with our daughter= Starting new holiday traditions, such as putting together a gingerbread house the day after Thanksgiving instead of putting up the Christmas tree. I dare not try making the gingerbread house from scratch. I'm afraid it won't fit together correctly (I don't want to buy the cookie cutters for it, resulting in me free handing the cookie forms) and that would result in my using lots of royal icing. So I did the next best thing. Buy a nice gingerbread cookie set from Costco for $9.99. I have decided that I will be getting it from Costco every year=) It makes the house smell so good. So far, I have restrained myself from taking a bite from any of the Christmas trees. I don't really like any of those candies so none of them are missing. Okay, maybe 2 gumballs. I wanted to make sure they really were gumballs instead of jawbreakers=) I couldn't stand the yummy smell, so I made gingerbread men. I will have to upload those pics and post them up soon. 

Wilton Course 2 Final Project


I am really psyched that I made these flowers from Royal Icing. We have class for 2 hours on Saturdays for one month. For 3 Saturdays we made different kinds of flowers. My favorites are the tiny apple blossoms and violets. We also learned to do the basketweave which really looks simple, yet sophisticated in my opinion. Our final was to work with Colorflow icing. We decided in our little class of 4 people to make it a Thanksgiving theme. So this is what I did.
I used a picture I saw online, printed it out and traced over the "Happy Turkey Day" and also printed out some maple leaf outlines. It takes about 24-48 hours to dry. I didn't make it dry enough and a few leaves cracked, that's why its all stacked like that=)

I call it my "Spring to Fall" cake.

It's not perfect, but i'm satisfied with it, being my first cake with royal icing flowers and basketweaving.
Here is my not-so-perfect basketweave and s-rope borders. Those are done with buttercream icing. Those funny looking leaves and yellow rose is from buttercream icing as well. 

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Thanksgiving Spread for two adults and one baby=)


I'm sorry I didn't post this earlier (Emily & my handful of friend readers =), I have a few left to post so i'll try to do them today. I didn't take too many pictures during the preparation because I was doing so many things at once and preparing a turkey+ entertaining a 7 month old is not a good thing ( or should I say, so not Martha). Yeah, I was so freaked out about getting salmonella on anything. I didn't want to touch the camera and then touch baby and all that junk. I hope you understand but i'll try my best to explain all the stuff that I made.

I have to say that this really isn't my best spread. My husband told me not to go all crazy with it because he didn't want me to be so tired and in the kitchen all day. So I made it really simple and semi-homemade. Can you tell? I watch the FoodNetwork all the time. As a matter of fact, I used 2 recipes from the website.

Let me give you the rundown of what is on the table.

Red rice- because were from Guam and there is no eating turkey without the red rice, simple as that.
Cornbread stuffing -Stovetop box stuffing, not because I was taking the easy way out, its because i've always loved stovetop, I honestly really do.
Mashed potatoes- Yukon Gold Idaho packaged just add milk and butter easy mashed potatoes. I always get packaged, especially when its only $1 and it has the "Best of Taste 2007" gold medal on its packaging.
Collard greens- I used Paula Deen's recipe and i'll tell you something about that later. But anyway, this has been a Thanksgiving comeback year after year because my husband was in the Army, where he first tried it and he loves to eat it. It only makes an appearance once a year.
Brussel sprouts- gasp, yes. I tried making it once before, years ago and it just didn't taste right to me. But this time (I bought only 10 sprouts just in case it turned out yucky), I looked again at and saw this recipe from Giada and it had so many good reviews so I had to try it.
Gravy- I took the easy way out on this. I usually do gravy from scratch but my husband was starving and just wanted to eat already. It was my safety, glad I bought it too. It was Safeway brand turkey gravy. Not bad.
9 lb Butterball Turkey- Never again will I buy a turkey without a popout timer thingy. There is more to that story. I will maybe share a few stories about that too.

Not shown: Baked sweet potatoes & parsnips with cinnamon, olive oil, maple syrup and honey (it was still in the oven, the hubby was starving and wanting to eat already).
Chocolate mousse cake- I got the idea from Martha Stewart

But first:


This tied us over until it was time to eat.
Sliced French bread, drizzled in Olive Oil, baked for 5 minutes @ 350 degrees then topped off with the Bruschetta, which we purchased in the pasta section at Costco (one of our favorite stores). 

I stuff the turkey with this stuff because it makes the turkey smell really good=) It's just celery, onions, carrots, butter, salt and pepper. It also gives the homemade gravy a nice taste too. I did end up making some homemade gravy because the Safeway powdered gravy only made one cup. I didn't take any pictures of when I made it because it was quite greasy. But its really easy to make.
1. Take the juices from the bottom of the pan and seperate the juices from the fat. You can do this by skimming the fat from the top or use a gravy seperator type thing.
2. Place the juices in a little pot and add some flour (make sure the juices are cool or else the flour will clump) I would use about a tablespoon of flour per cup of juice.
3. Heat it to a boil on medium and keep stirring until its thickened. If its been cooking for about 5 minutes and its not thickened, add about a tsp of flour to a tablespoon of cold water (or more juices if you have any left) mix and then add it to your gravy.

Okay, for the story of my Butterball turkey, I will have to start with this: Last year, my husband & I spent Thanksgiving in California with his sister and her family. I was 4 months pregnant (this has nothing to do with the turkey story=). Two days before Thanksgiving, we were in search of a turkey. Not just any turkey, it had to be the Butterball brand because that's what "Mom" always made. I kept that in mind because my sis & mother in law are great cooks. I always bought whatever turkey there was that was 8 or 9 lbs (and was cheap) with a pop out timer and it always turned out great. My sis-in-law prepared the turkey last year and it turned out really good. I was sold on the Butterball. So this year, I bought the Butterball without the pop out timer. I went on the Butterball website and followed their directions to a T. My husband stuck in this digital thermometer. The Butterball website said to bake the turkey to an internal temp of 180 degrees if your turkey was stuffed. It turned out dry. I was so disappointed and so my husband said "that's what gravy is for".  Really glad we had the gravy. 

Here's one more turkey story. I'll try to make it short. One year, my husband thought the pop out timer on the turkey was defective. I was basting the turkey every 15-30 minutes. It looked moist and golden and just perfect. It had just about an hour left of baking and I had to take a shower and get ready because we were having some guests. I asked my husband to baste it for me while I got ready. When I was done, I looked in the oven and I wondered why the oven wasn't hot. He turned the oven off! I asked him why and he said the turkey "looked" done. I told him the timer didn't pop out yet. He said it was broken. So I said okay then, the juices should run clear if its done. It looked clear, so we placed it on my big, white platter and there it was, blood running down from the turkey. So we put the turkey back in the oven to cook and while the turkey breast turned out dry and more "golden brown" than the rest of the turkey, the rest of the turkey was moist. He doesn't bother with the turkey anymore, except for placing it in the platter. 

As for the collard greens, it turned out okay. Like I said, I used Paula Deen's recipe. For years, the collard greens "bunch" was pretty big. I noticed this year it was small. I guess they have really thinned it down due to the failing economy. So I used a "bunch" like the recipe said and I used the 3 smoked hamhocks that was in the package. Big mistake. Don't do that. It was too much for the taste and the greens boiled down so much there was too much liquid. I should have bought 2 more bunches of greens to make it work with what the recipe called for. Also, in years past, I added my own spin to it. I added some garlic and onions to it and it tasted really good. I never tried the "authentic" greens but Paula Deen's recipe is supposed to be pretty authentic since she's a Southern woman. It tasted good, but I think i'll stick to my way of making it next time. 

 We had Chocolate Mousse Cake for dessert. 

I  saw Martha Stewart had made pretty mini ones with vanilla and chocolate mousse made from scratch. It looked divine and so yummy. I didn't find any vanilla or any lighter colored flavor mousse packets. I took the easy way out on this again since I didn't have time to make the mousse from scratch. I used these: 

As you can see from the finished product, it looks like there is just one flavor of mousse and then the cake. For the box mousse, you only need cold milk. It really tastes good, so if you don't have much time, buy this stuff. 
For the cake, I used dark chocolate flavored box mix. 

It has been cooled and leveled (which is not pictured). I only used the cake in the dark pan. I saved the other cake and put in the freezer for later projects.
I took some parchment paper and placed it around the cake. I had to staple it because tape will not stick to parchment.
I decided to put the dark chocolate mousse first. I intended to pipe it on but it really didn't help, so I just scooped it on and put it on as neatly as I could. I refrigerated it for about an hour and then prepared the raspberry chocolate mousse and put that on top. I really wanted it to have the tricolor effect with the cake, dark chocoloate mousse, and the raspberry chocolate but that didn't happen.
I refrigerated it overnight for Thanksgiving Lunch/Dinner. Here is a yummy slice of that cake. I swear to you, it is sooo good.
I think next time, I will try a springform pan to make the cake and buy 2 very distinct flavor colors so that it really stands out. I will eventually try Martha Stewarts mini mousse cakes and make them from scratch too.
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