Thursday, May 27, 2010

all around the mulberry bush...

Ally, here.

I've lived in the same house for 18 years. In all of these years, we cannot remember the bush next to our house ever producing berries. After wondering what was going on with our tree for the past week or so, we finally discovered that it is full of mulberries. What's a mulberry? I really had no idea.

I did a little wikipedia-ing, and discovered that they are, indeed, edible berries. This got me super excited.

I spent the next 30 minutes picking mulberries from the bush, channeling my inner farm girl and picking berries from the highest branches I could reach from my oh-so-shaky ladder. (I am sure my mom is thrilled, as I can now pick the berries before they cover the sidewalk in big, purple splats.)

So now I have a bowl full of berries. I prefer to think of this as a bowl full of possibilities. I'm thinking smoothies, coffee cake, pie...

You'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

a picnic good enough to eat

Have you ever notices that for some reason, eating is so much better out of doors.
And that you're much happier on a picnic than rushing to eat lunch?
I got a kick out of what is defined as a picnic:

picnic: pleasure excursion at which a meal is eaten outdoors (al fresco or en plein air) , ideally taking place in a beautifu landscape

Here's what we took in our (not so basket-y) picnic basket...

Corn and Black Bean Salad

1 can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 ears of corn
3 springs of green onion
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno
balsamic vinegar (although we used EVOO)
garlic powder

Combine all above ingredients by:
Cutting corn off of ears (I just microwaved it for one minute and it was soft & sweet enough)
Chop green onions finely
Chop bell pepper
Chop jalapeno finely
Chop cilantro finely
Drizzle b. vinegar or EVOO (really, which ever you have)
Add seasoning to taste.

This is one of the things that get's better day after day. So leftovers are real good.

BLT (the Turkey Bacon/Spinach/Tomato kind)

1 loaf of rustic-type bread (the .99 cent Whole Foods kind is my favorite)
1 small tomato (for 2 sandwiches)
6 slices of turkey bacon
1 cup of spinach
Parmesan cheese

note: when you buy a loaf from Whole Foods, have them slice it for you!

1. Cook turkey bacon in a skillet, microwave, whatever method you like!
2. Toast bread in skillet by drizzling EVOO in pan. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the bread.
3. Layer slices of bacon, sliced tomato, and spinach on top of bread. Drizzle with a little EVOO if you like.
4. Take it outside, and enjoy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I like cake too.

Ally, here.

So here's something fun. Becca and I have shared the whole rainbow cake experience for years (see her previous post for details). I, too, have had several rainbow cake failures, but that hasn't kept me from loving the rainbow cake idea, which is why Becca and I we have been drooling over the i am baker rainbow cake for weeks. She made a version of it in her previous post, and I made my own a few days ago.

I should warn you that making this cake was quite time consuming. You'll need several round cake pans and lots of mixing bowls. I was limited on both of these, so I spent a lot of time washing dishes, which slowed me down quite a bit. But the cake was so delicious in the end that it was totally worth it.

I will also say that I'm going to start incorporating fruit in more of my baked goods. It gives the illusion of healthiness. And it's delicious. Look for much more fruit to come.

Here's what you'll need:

-2 boxes white cake mix
-all of the ingredients called for on the cake box
-1 cup pureed strawberries
-1 cup pureed kiwi
-1 cup pureed blueberries
-1 cup pureed purple grapes
-the zest of one orange, plus 1/2 cup squeezed orange juice from the same orange
-the zest of one lemon
-2 or 3 containers of vanilla frosting (depending on your love for icing)

Here's what to do:

1. Mix your cake ingredients together as directed on the box (using both boxes of cake mix).
2. Divide your cake mix evenly into 6 different bowls (it will probably be a little more than 1 cup in each bowl).
3. Mix each pureed fruit into the separate cake mixes. If you want the colors to really pop, add some food coloring. (I added food coloring to some of my layers, but adding it to all of them will give it a more uniform look.)
4. Bake cakes as directed on box.

Our favorite blogger, iambaker, really describes this next step best, so I'll just let her say it.

"I decided not to use frosting between the layers because this cake was already going to be so tall, so I just made a simple syrup and brushed that on between the layers.

For simple syrup:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Put into a pan and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally. Once boiling, remove from heat and let cool. This meant that the cake stayed nice and moist, and also brought out the wonderful natural flavors of the fruit." Thanks, iambaker.

And she's not kidding. This cake was seriously moist and flavorful.

I wasn't so good at keeping my layers even, so the colors don't look spectacular, but a little bit of planning will keep your cake from suffering the same fate. This cake also allows for some creativity in decorating. Use whatever fruit you want on top, and get crafty in your designs. This cake is a fruit-lover's dream. You're going to love it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

finals food: cake

Becca, here.

Let's talk cake. More specifically, Rainbow Cake.
First of all, let's take a moment and thank Ally for bringing this recipe to me one year ago, this month.

If you like cake. You will like this.
My roommates demand it.
And since this is finals week,we take the opportunity to eat good "study food"
...get ready for some more Finals-Week-Blogging coming your way.

For the sake of seeing the evolution of my rainbow is the Wall of Rainbow Cake Fame.

This Cake: It will blow you away at how easy it is.
But a fair warning: it WILL be gone within 24 hours. If it lasts that long.

This particular cake comes from the classic Rainbow Cake recipe, but also draws a whole lot of inspiration (once again) from iambaker.


Fruit of the Rainbow Cake

2 boxes of white cake mix
3 cups of Sprite Zero
1 small container of white icing
1 small container of cool whip
1 mango
1/2 pint of strawberries
3 kiwi's
3 handfuls of blueberries
Food dye (yellow, red, green, blue)

1. Combine both cake mixes and Sprite Zero in mixing bowl
2. Beat with hand mixer for 2 minutes
3. Separate the batter into 4 different bowls
4. Cut up fruit and place in each bowls, separately.
(I put a few drops of matching colored dye into the bowls, just to make sure the fruit layers would be distinguishable)
5. With a hand mixer, blend in the dye and fruit into the bowls.

6. Grease two 9-inch cake pans. Begin with one color and put half in one pan, and half in the other. Scoop the next batter, and place directly on top (it will resemble a dart board when all layers are in place). Continue until all the colors have been placed.

7. Bake in 350degrees until a fork comes clean.

Enjoy rainbow cake # who knows...

& let me know how yours turns out!