At Least Twice A Week

This week’s Martha and Me item was picked by Brette.  And wow, what a choice.  I wanted an excuse to make this and I was so happy with the results.

The recipe is in the April issue of Martha Stewart Living and along with the cake they offer a chocolate frosting.  The recipe on the website  is slightly different than the one in the magazine.  I followed the magazine  but I am sure they are both wonderful.

I made cupcakes since they have to go to work with me and cupcakes travel easier.  My hubby has no willpower so if I keep this kind of thing in the house, he indulges.  Anyway,  the cake was so easy, sift the dry add the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and voila, you are done.  I used vegetable oil because I didn’t have safflower but it worked wonderfully. The cake was moist and not too crumbly and had a good, rich chocolate flavor.  I will definitely be making this batter again.

The frosting was a bit more involved to make.  Cream the butter and cream cheese, sift the powered sugar, salt and cocoa, melt the chocolate add the sour cream.  There were a lot of bowls to wash when I was done.  And there was so much frosting left over.  While I would say the taste was good, it was way too sweet for me.  See the milk in the picture, it is a must have with this frosting.

Another good thing about this recipe is I had everything on hand.  However, next time I am icing these delicious cupcakes with a chocolate glaze and I think that will be perfect.

I love my  backyard.  It is an escape.  I piddle, as my hubby calls it. This is what my flower bed looked like last year.

It isn’t a big area about 4′ x 10′ but it is enough for me to put in lots of pretty things that last from April until October.  Climbing roses, jasmine, sweet angle face, firebushes and some things that I don’t even know the name of but they were cheap at yard sales so I planted them.

As many of you also encountered, we had a very strange winter.  It snowed 3 times in the Houston area during December and January.  And I did try to protect things as much as possible but everything froze.

This is what my garden looked like after the freeze. 

It was depressing.  Everyone I spoke to said to leave it alone and it will come back.  So I did.  And they were wrong.  Very little came back.  You can’t see it but I had a bouginvilla that was about 6′ tall, it’s gone.  All of the firebushes. Gone.  The only thing we didn’t lose were the roses, the jasmine and the two things that are still green in the front (those I don’t know the name of).

I haven’t lost hope yet.  I will get it back into shape soon and it will be stunning.  It so much fun to watch the transformation as you add things and they grow and look gorgeous.  I can’t wait.

Have you ever heard the expression ‘Work to live, don’t live to work’.  Well lately, honestly for the last 6 weeks, my entire existence has been centered around a very demanding, recession burdened position of employment.  While I was always able to come home, relax and cook to forget about the day, my evening were filled will completing tasks from the previous day and planning the next day along with trying to avert any emergencies.  Luckily things have calmed down, people are in place now who can do their jobs and I can go back to my regular job.  And my life.

I didn’t completely stop cooking, I just stopped posting.  My hubby and I even had a vacation that had been planned for months tucked in there.  It wasn’t a resort trip or anything like that but it was time away visiting family and not having the stress of the phone constantly ringing (I did answer emails though!)  And while on vacation we had some fabulous food.  I’ll show you pictures soon.  Everyone laughed because I wouldn’t let anyone eat until I took pictures of their dishes.  Just part of the fun of enjoying the food, eating with your eyes first.

Now, I think I’ll get back to the ‘work to live part’, where I let my work sustain all the thing I love.

This bread was our Martha Monday project for the week.  Thanks to Megan at Megan’s Cookin’ for picking this Chocolate Marble Bread.  Since I’m trying to do more baking, I was glad when I saw this choice.  I’ve always made quick breads but never made a marbled one.  I was excited to try.

I didn’t put the ganache on the top and I don’t think we missed out.  I was surprised because I did expect it to have a pound cake consistency but the batter was incredibly light.   It was no harder to put together than any other cake.  That being said though I did mix too much batter into the chocolate and considered making it entirely chocolate but was talked out of that by the family. 

I plan on putting it in my keep file.  Everyone liked it, Geneva had it with ice cream and Hubby said it was great because it wasn’t too sweet.   For me though, I think I will have another piece along with a big, hot cup of coffee.

I made the pick this week for Martha Mondays and I chose the Spinach Frittata from the January/February issue of Everyday Food.  We used to be omelet  people but have been converted to frittatas recently and anytime I can incorporate an extra veggie into a meal, I am all for it.

I liked this recipe but I used all 3 eggs and more gruyere than called for.  I also added ham so it really made a meal.   I usually start the frittata on the stove and transfer the skillet to the oven, however, this one called for all of the cooking to be done in the oven and it took longer than the what the recipe said.

It was good though and the entire family liked it.  I hope yours did too.

I tried my had a bread again this weekend.  I am loving the excitment of watching the yeast foam and the anticipation of waiting for the dough to double in size and being able to knead it and really be a part of the process of what you are making.  It is an incredible experience.

This recipe came from the February issue of Martha Stewart Living.  And as I said before, my experience with bread has never had good results but this seemed pretty easy.  My only draw back was the pan that I used was longer than what is called for and the bread came out a little denser than what I though it should have but the taste was great.

Since I don’t know what normal bread making is all about, I will go through this one.  Mix two packets of dry, active yeast with 1/2 cup of water and a teaspoon of honey.  Stir to dissolve yeast.  In a large bowl whisk together flour and salt.  When the yeast foams, pour that along with the rest of the water,  3 more tablespoons of honey and some melted butter into your mixer with a dough hook. 

Add 3 cups of the flour mixture, then after that is incorporated add the rest of the flour, one cup at a time.  That is it.  Then you knead it for about 5 minutes, put it in a buttered bowl and let the dough do its thing. 

When it has doubled in size, flatten it out, cut it in half and put it in your bread pans and ‘paint’ with melted butter.  Let it rise again, then bake.

It really wasn’t a difficult thing to do and the house smelled fantastic from the yeast and the baking and everything.  I was so excited that it worked.

I had help in the ‘painting’ process.  You have to start teaching them young if you want them to enjoy it!

I am going to try the cinnamon raisin today.

Don’t roll your eyes, I have grilled chicken before but never have I ever considered using a mayonnaise based sauce.  I saw this one on ‘The Neely’s show’ on Food Network and it looked amazing.  And guess what, it is.

They call it ‘Grilled Chicken with Alabama White BBQ Sauce’ and I don’t remember how the Alabama played into it and really don’t care because everyone in my house loved it and asked when we are going to have it again.

The real difference in this sauce is that you use mayonnaise instead of ketchup as your base.  Everything else is in your basic bar b que sauce, cider vinegar, lemon juice, black pepper, garlic power, onion power and cayenne.  We threw in a little paprika also since Hubby swears he heard them say they used smoke paprika in theirs. 

The grilling is normal just baste with the sauce and then dip the cooked chicken in some reserved sauce as you eat.

You gotta try this one.  It is awesome!

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© Karen Schaeffer and At Least Twice A Week, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Schaeffer and At Least Twice A Week with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.