Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Heart Cake - Guest Baker

My dear friend Sara Perla made this BEAUTIFUL cake for her friend's bridal shower. She got the recipe from here, and I'm giving you her pictures to show you that, indeed, it can be done! Way to go, Sara!

Ingredients & Prices

3 1/2 Cups Cake Flour - $0.42
3/4 Cup Unsalted Butter - $0.84
2 1/4 Cups Sugar - $0.72
3 Large Eggs - $0.42
6 Tbsp Red Food Coloring - $1.59
3 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa - $0.21
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract - $0.69
1 1/2 tsp Salt - $0.03
1 1/2 Cups Buttermilk - $0.75
1 1/2 tsp Cider Vinegar - $0.02
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda - $0.01
Total for Red Velvet Cake: $5.70

Red Velvet Cake

1 1/2 Cups Self-Rising Flour - $0.18
1 1/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour - $0.15
1 Cup Unsalted Butter - $1.12
2 Cups Sugar - $0.64
4 Large Eggs - $0.56
1 Cup Milk - $0.10
1 tsp Vanilla Extract - $0.46
Total for White Cake: $3.21

1 Cup Unsalted Butter - $1.12
6-8 Cups Confectioner's Sugar - ~$6.72
1/2 Cup Milk - $0.05
2 tsp Vanilla Extract - $0.92
Total for Vanilla Buttercream Frosting: $8.81

Cutting Apart

Making the Circle

There's the Hole!

Filling in the Red Velvet


The Heart - How Beautiful!

TOTAL for Heart Cake: $17.72

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday Things that I Love... Take 1

It's Tuesday, and today I want to share a new love. It is Hershey's Special Dark Syrup. Oh my goodness gracious. It's at Wal-Mart for around $2. Do this...

Put 5 Ice Cubes, 2 Tbsp Hershey's Special Dark Syrup ($0.13), 1/3 cup Frenchly-pressed coffee ($0.25) (or a shot of espresso or two), and 1/2 Cup Milk ($0.10) (fat free, whole, half and half, heavy whipping cream, your decision) into a Collins glass, in that order. Stir after the coffee and again after the milk. Top with whipped cream or cool whip or nothing. For you UDers out there, this tastes like the Capp Bar's Iced Mochas. So add a straw, and sit on your porch while you drink it. Gracious.

Cost 1 Amazing Drink: $0.48

If you love things on Tuesdays, go ahead and blog about it, and give me a link. I'll link to your loves, and we can all love things together on Tuesdays. Cheers!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Crème Brûlée

Happy Easter Monday, y'all! Bona Pasquetta! Yesterday I made Crème Brûlée, and it was pretty yummy. One or two people said it was the best they ever had. I highly recommend that you buy a torch to make the burnt sugar on top. The few times I tried to burn the sugar top without, I could never quite get it right. You can find a nice little torch at Bed, Bath, and Beyond in a set with some ramekins for not too bad. I bought mine about three or four years ago. This is the kit I have. It comes with four really little but really pretty ramekins. We are now down to two, as the others broke. I used Mark Bittman's recipe in "How to Cook Everything," pages 657-658. I was pretty busy on other things, so I didn't take pictures while making it, but my friend Laura took some final product pics at her house, so I'll post them once she posts them to facebook. 

Ingredients & Prices

1 Vanilla Bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract) - I used a bean - $2.40
2 1/2 Cups heavy cream, light cream, or milk, or a mixture (Half and Half here) - $1.80
6 Egg Yolks - $0.94
1 Cup Sugar - $0.32

Generalized Instructions - See Mark for the Full Sha-Bang

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Infuse the cream with the vanilla bean (scrape the bean in an then throw the whole dang thing in) by warming to steam over low heat and then removing from heat and covering.

Whisk yolks and sugar a bunch. 

Remove bean from cream, add cream to yolks (lots of stirring), and put into either casserole or ramekins (or even coffee cups, which is what I used - I tested them the night before to be sure they wouldn't break).

Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes. You should place custard holders into baking dish of hot water and place that in the oven.

Cool, cover with plastic wrap, and cool in refrigerator for some hours.

Put about a tablespoon of sugar on top of each serving, covering the top completely and use your torch to burn the sugar. Or, put in a broiler, watching closely. I suggest keeping in fridge between each to keep cool. Cause cool is yum. 

Break that sugar with your spoon and dig in. It's insanely good. :) Bona Pasqua!

Total Cost for 10 Small Servings - $5.46 (if you use extract, it's $3.16 but not quite as good)

Pics To Come!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


These are Mark Bittman's Popovers, and they are amazing. My four year old son has been loving them since he was a baby, and my husband actually requested them this morning. I had never even heard of them before I saw them in Mark's book, now that page is pretty messed up from being the book constantly being open to it, not that I actually need the instructions at this point. I make them SO often. Yum. Remember those German oven pancakes? These taste a lot like those. They're great with eggs, cream cheese, or plain. I usually go for plain.

Ingredients & Prices

1 Cup Flour - $0.12
1 Tbsp Oil or Melted Butter - $0.01 (I used veggie oil)
1 tsp Sugar - $0.01
1/2 tsp Salt - $0.01
2 Eggs - $0.32
1 Cup Milk - $0.20

Basic Instructions

Preheat oven to 425. Mix everything together thoroughly. Drop it all into a well-greased and slightly hot muffin tin. Fill the ones you don't use with water. Sometimes I get 12, but usually 10 or 11. I don't know why. Anyhow. Fill the empty ones to help cook evenly. 

Place in the oven for 15 minutes, and do not open. Turn the oven down to 350 and go for 15 more minutes, not opening, even to check on them, for at least 20 minutes. If your oven is as crazy hot as mine is, then your popovers will actually be done at that 20/25 minute mark. My old oven took the full 30 minutes plus a little extra before the tops were nicely done. 

Eat 'em. They're yummy. See, look.

Total Cost Delicious Snack for you, your husband, and your son (and maybe a tiny taste for baby): $0.67 - less than a candy bar...I'm not sayin, I'm just sayin...

Monday, April 18, 2011


Oh, Mark, how I underrated you. For years, I thought that Mark Bittman was only good at the savory, not so great with the sweet. So, now, I decided to make Tiramisu, which is most definitely not French. I did not want to go with a website on this one, so I reluctantly opened up my dear ol' Mark, and checked his index. He has a Tiramisu recipe. Alright, then. I am prepared to abandon him if I see Lady Fingers as the cakey part of his Tiramisu. Why? I don't know. I just knew I didn't want to do that for some reason. I guess I thought it would be some kind of a cop out or something. Anyhow, he tells me I can use lady fingers, but! But, he tells me I could also use leftover Sponge cake - at which point he tells me what page his Sponge cake is on. I flip to the sponge cake recipe, I have everything but the orange (or lemon). And guess what, besides the fact that I was out of eggs, I had all the stuff for Tiramisu, too. Seriously? Can it really be that easy? Are the ingredients of so famed a dessert really so commonplace? Yep. Really. Tiramisu is EASY. And delicious. And since the stuff in it is so common, it's crazy inexpensive. $5 a piece at the restaurant....nah, just make it at home. It is, however, time consuming, with all the chilling and cooling that needs to take place, so half your day is occupied with it - inactively, I should assure you. You can go for walks, take a rosary ride with an Italian ice at the end of it, and still have plenty of time to do it. Just make sure you start the sponge cake about 5 hours before you intend to eat dinner.  Now that I've given you the most lengthy intro ever, here we go.

Ingredients & Prices

Sponge Cake
How to Cook Everything, pg. 726

1 Cup Flour - $0.12
1/4 tsp Salt - $0.01
5 Eggs, separated - $0.68
1 Cup Sugar - $0.32
1 Orange-$0.48

Total Cost Sponge Cake (you use about 3/4 of it - the rest eat for b-fast tomorrow): $1.61

How to Cook Everything, pg. 663

1/2 Cup Sugar - $0.16
11/2 Tbsp Corn Starch - $0.05
Pinch Salt - $0.01
2 Cups Milk - $0.43
3 Eggs - $0.41
1 Tbsp Butter - $0.07
1 tsp Vanilla Extract - $0.10
2 Cups Sponge Cake - you have to make the whole thing, so $1.61
1 Cup Strong Cold Coffee - $0.60 (I used French Roast 8 O'Clock Coffee - pressed in the French Press)
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder as Needed - About 2 Tbsp - $0.14


Make or Buy the Sponge Cake or Lady Fingers (which can be pricey).

Orange Zest & Freshly Squeezed Juice

I like to prep everything ahead, so zest that orange and separate those eggs. That way, if your kid wants to help, it's much less stressful. The zesting...that's fun. If all zesters are like mine, then most of it gets stuck on the zester, making for a fun time getting it off. You only use about half of the orange for the zest and the juice, and your four year old would love to eat the rest.

You have to beat the heck out of the yolks. Then add half of the sugar, then beat the heck out of it again. Then add the orange stuff.
Then you beat the heck out of the whites, add the rest of the sugar, and beat it some more. Lots of beating. Need to get rid of some aggression? Make a sponge cake! 

Then you get this pretty stuff. Bake it for almost an hour, according to Mark. It took about 35 minutes in my super hot gas oven. 

see the cute baby? way back there?
While it's baking, you can start the custard part of the Tiramisu, which needs to cool forever, too, so get that started.

Sugar, corn starch, milk, eggs, lots of whisking for about 10 minutes over medium heat.

pretty and SO not burnt YES!
Go for a short walk. (We did!) Then cover the custard (in a bowl, I think, though Mark doesn't say so) with plastic wrap and put in the fridge to cool for an HOUR at least. 

Make the coffee, too, so you can stick it in the fridge. I forgot, so I iced my coffee. Bugger.

dancing four year old in the background 

Cut up the sponge cake and start layering. 


Cocoa Powder, 




Cocoa Powder, 


Cocoa Powder.

Chill for at least an hour to set.
It tastes even better Day 2!

Total Cost Tiramisu 4 Adults, 2 Kids, only half eaten (so enough for 8 adults, 4 kids): $3.58

At the local fancy Italian restaurant, one serving is $4.95. I'm just sayin.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cappuccino Muffins - Becca / Taste of Home

My friend Becca posted these on facebook last week, just begging me to eat them. So I made them today, and I am not sorry. I do have to say that neither my son nor I was especially fond of the spread, so we ended up using whipped cream on subsequent muffins. (Turns out my husband doesn't like the spread, either).

Ingredients & Prices

4 ounces Cream Cheese, Cubed - $0.89
1 Tbsp Sugar - $0.02
1/2 tsp Instant Coffee granules - $0.07
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract (mine) - $0.05
1/4 Cup Mini-Chocolate Chips - $0.40
Spread Total: $1.43 

2 Cups Flour - $0.24
3/4 Cups Sugar - $0.24
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder - $0.10
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon - $0.02
1/2 tsp Salt  - $0.01
1 Cup Milk - $0.22
2 Tbsp Instant Coffee granules - $0.84
1/2 Cup Butter, Melted - $0.56
1 Egg - $0.18
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (mine) - $0.10
3/4 Cups Mini-Chocolate Chips - $1.20

These are crazy delicious. They went fast.
But totally skip the spread if you don't feel like the work.

Total Cost 12 Muffins and Spread - $5.14

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

St. Stanislaus' Feast Day - Stan's Choice Pasta

Yesterday was Stanislaus' Name Day, so he got to pick his dinner. He chose pasta, and I added to it a selection of sautéed veggies and the cappuccino muffins I made for breakfast with cool whip (Stan's selection) on top. Good stuff.

Ingredients & Prices

1/2 Yellow Squash - $0.71
1/4 Cup Sliced Mushrooms - $0.40
1 Green Pepper - $0.50
2/3 Pound Penne Pasta - $0.80
1 Can (15 oz) Tomato Sauce - $1.29
2 Tbsp Olive Oil - $0.22
1 tsp Garlic - $0.03
1/2 tsp dried Oregano - $0.01
1/2 tsp dried Parsley - $0.02
Salt & Pepper to Taste - $0.02
1 Cup Leftover Pasta & Sauce

Total Price for 1 Adult, 1 Kid, Leftovers for another full meal (lunch for 2 adults, 1 kid, 1 baby): $4.00

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blueberry Cobbler

I'm starting to think that I'm messing around with Lent. It's just that our Sunday desserts have been so much better than any desserts we've had, it's like I'm doing something wrong. Oye. So anyway, this Sunday was a simple one - Blueberry Cobbler. The initial reason I went for this one was that I saw fresh blueberries were on sale at Giant. Then, I got to Giant, looked at the blueberries, and ended up buying the frozen ones that were SO much cheaper. And guess what? The cobbler. It was great. It was a great recipe for a warm day with grilled food for dinner. I actually bought cheap-o cool whip stuff instead of whipping my own cream. It was a lot cheaper. Shame on me, I know, but it was a lot cheaper and faster.

I used this recipe. The only difference was that my blueberries were frozen.

Ingredients & Prices

3 Cups Blueberries - $3.99
3 Tbsp White Sugar - $0.03
1/3 Cup Orange Juice - $0.20
2/3 Cup Flour - $0.08
1/4 tsp Baking Powder - $0.01
1 pinch salt - $0.01
1/2 Cup Butter, Softened - $0.56
1/2 Cup White Sugar - $0.16
1 Egg - $0.18
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract - (mine) - $0.05
Whipped Topping (8 ounce container) - $0.89

Put together the first 3 ingredients into a square baking dish. 

Put the next 3 together in a small bowl.

Mix up all the rest in a large bowl.

Put dry and wet together.

Then dump it by the spoonful over top of the blueberries, aiming at heavy coverage.

My four year old helped, but we still covered it rather well.


Throw on some stuff. We used whipped topping, but ice cream or home made whipped cream would be fabulous, too.

Total Cost 4 Adults, 1 kid, leftovers: $6.16

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Peanut Butter & Nutella Buns

Have some leftover buns from burger night and need to eat them before they turn green? Toast 'em (on super low or they burn) and put about a tablespoon of Nutella on one side and a tablespoon of Peanut Butter on the other. Fabulous snack.

Ingredients & Prices

2 Buns - $0.28
2 Tbsp Nutella - $0.32
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter - $0.13

Total Cost for a Snack for 1 Adult, 1 kid: $0.73

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Roulade

Another chocolate recipe from The Complete Book of Chocolate and 200 Recipes. In the book, however, this is Chocolate Chestnut Roulade, and it's a very...British recipe, so I had a lot of exchanges and replacements to make. Happily, I was able to use Nutella as a replacement for something. That means, I had to buy some. Yum. Also, I discovered that the smallest cookie sheet of my set is in fact a swiss roll tin. Fabulous.

Ingredients & Prices

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped - $0.99
2 Tbsp cocoa powder, sifted - $0.14
4 Tbsp Strong Hot Coffee (frenchly pressed is what I did) - $0.30
6 Eggs, separated - $0.50 (18 pack of eggs for $1.50)
6 Tbsp Caster Sugar - $0.06 (use regular sugar, tossed in the processor for a bit, then allowed to settle)
pinch Cream of Tarter - $0.01
1 tsp Vanilla Essence (used mine again) - $0.10
cocoa powder for dusting - probably about another Tbsp - $0.07

For the Hazelnut Cream Filling

2 Cups (1 pint) Double Cream - $3.96 (I used heavy whipping cream. If you can find double cream, use that, you'll see how gooey my filling ends up because it's not thick enough. Had I enough time and brilliance, I would have made this recipe I found for double cream, but I only found it yesterday and it has to sit for 24 hours).
2 Tbsp Frangelico Hazelnut Liquor - $0.98 - you can use coffee liquor or rum also, but I had Frangelico
1 1/2 Cups Nutella - $3.15
It calls for 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, grated, here, but I didn't use it. It was plenty chocolatey. Yes, I said that.

Cake Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. Grease base an sides of  a Swiss roll tin. I bet you have one, too. It just looks like a cookie sheet and measures 15 1/2" by 10 1/2" by 1" or not quite so tall. Anyhow, I measured mine, and it's that big. Cool. Line with wax paper allowing overhang (but not too much that it touches the sides of your oven making smoke come out...not that I would know about that). 
Melt the chocolate.

Dissolve cocoa in hot coffee & set aside.

Beat egg yolks with half the sugar until pale and thick. 

It takes awhile.
Slowly beat in the melted chocolate and cocoa-coffee until just blended.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.

Stiff peaks.
Sprinkle the rest of the sugar over the whites an beat some more. Then beat in the vanilla. Stir a spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the rest.

Spoon into the tin. Bake 20-25 minutes (mine went 18) or until cake springs back when touched.

Tada! Then you have to remove it right away from the pan, so it doesn't keep cooking. Slide it on over.

Dust a dishtowel with cocoa. A thin one.

yes, pearls, earrings, jeans, and an AHC t-shirt Yep. :)
Carefully, flip the cake out onto the towel. I put the towel over the cake, then turned it over, then SLOWLY took off the wax paper. 

Trim off any crisp edges and let your husband or son or yourself eat 'em. 

Grab an end of the towel and roll the towel with the cake. 

Cool, huh? Yea! Let it cool completely. I went to the store, flew a kite, and ate lunch before messing with it again. I also made the filling.

Whip the cream and liquor until soft peaks form.

soft peaks

Beat some cream into the Nutella to lighten it, then beat the rest of it in. 

see the poor mixer - it doesn't like nutella

Then you get to unroll your cake. Lots of cracks in mine. 

Then put the cream stuff on that cake. Not too much, it ooooozes.

Roll it up and stick it in the fridge to get harder before you put more stuff on the outside.

This stuff was really good. Everyone had seconds, most had thirds... And we kept putting our fingers on the plate to lick off some more. Yum.

Dessert for 4 Adults, 3 kids, a little leftover: $10.26