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Tag Archives: desserts


A successful dinner party

Hello all.

Not too many interesting things have been going on around here lately. We’ve been busy finishing up the very last of our Christmas shopping and just enjoying some time off of work together. Jeff is cashing in his remaining vacation time so he doesn’t go back to work until January!

We did manage to squeeze in one more social event before the holiday. This past weekend we had our friends John and Emily over for a little dinner party. I love to cook fancy elaborate food but rarely have an occasion to, so it was nice to be able to cook something special for a change.

On the menu:

  • Roasted lamb leg with rosemary and whole garlic
  • Buttermilk mashed potatoes
  • Miso shiitake gravy
  • Honey soy glazed carrots
  • Apple butter cake with cinnamon cider buttercream

Yeah, it was as good as it sounds.

The lamb roast is a Jamie Oliver recipe that I’ve made several times before, and it’s been a hit every time.

Finished lamb roast

I used an entire head of garlic and a ton of rosemary. I’ll share the recipe tomorrow!

I used some of the pan drippings and a few of those cloves of garlic to make the most amazing shiitake mushroom gravy ever.

Miso shiitake gravy

Again, I’ll give you this recipe soon because it’s just insane, and you don’t need to use lamb drippings either when butter will work just fine.

The honey soy glazed carrots were soft and and lightly salty-sweet.

Honey soy roasted carrots

This recipe is super easy. Just 2 lbs. of carrots with a generous swish of soy sauce and a squirt or two of honey. They bake at 400 degrees for an hour covered in aluminum foil to hold in the moisture and keep the honey from burning.

And here’s a plate of everything…

My plate of lamb roast

I ended up pureeing the miso shiitake gravy for a better consistency. It was so good paired with the creamy potatoes and fragrant roasted lamb. I ate a few of those roasted garlic cloves by themselves too. I could seriously make a meal out of just roasted garlic and a good loaf of bread.

Dinner was served with a glass of Cardhu 12 year, a sweet and honey-like Scotch that suited the flavors of the dinner perfectly. Never mind that it’s in a Jack glass. I can’t even drink that stuff anymore, too sweet!

Cardhu in a Jack glass

And the jewel of the evening…cake!

Apple cake frosting

Apple cake edge

I have so many cake recipes bookmarked and I never have an occasion to make one. I modified this recipe to create this apple butter cake with cinnamon cider frosting. It had a damp banana bread texture and the frosting was smooth and not-too-sweet.

I’ll share my changes to the original recipe with you soon!

Slice of apple cake

I know for a fact that John and Emily loved the food, and I really enjoyed getting to make it for them. We were all feeling sleepy afterwards from stuffing ourselves and having a few too many whiskeys.

I had so much fun preparing this meal that I’m already scheming for future dinner parties. Recipes to come……!


Thanksgiving 2011

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Our leftovers are officially gone, sad.

This year we had a Thanksgiving lunch with Jeff’s family. So happy that Jeff comes from a family of good cooks. Everything was delicious!

Thanksgiving 2011

I made entirely too much food. I always do that, even at home.

My contribution this year was bacon buttermilk mashed potatoes. Not the least bit healthy, but so so so good!

Bacon buttermilk mashed potatoes

Bacon buttermilk mashed potatoes

A decadent side dish of creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes with crispy bacon bits.


  • 15 medium-sized yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 8 to 10 strips of bacon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

  1. Peel and chop potatoes and boil until tender. Drain and add to the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. In a medium saucepan, slowly heat buttermilk and butter until melted and warm but not boiling.
  3. Pour melted butter and buttermilk over potatoes and mix slowly until incorporated.
  4. Add in sour cream and mix through, add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Bake bacon on a wire rack over a baking sheet at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until crisp.
  6. Chop bacon and stir into potatoes.
  7. Transfer to a baking dish if you will need to reheat it before serving.

I loaded up on a little bit of everything and definitely went back for seconds.

My Thanksgiving plate

My favorites are always the sweet potato casserole and the stuffing. I’ve actually never had stuffing that was cooked inside the bird, I think that’s called dressing anyway.

Afterwards, we headed to his aunt Jill and uncle Allen’s house for dessert. There was pecan pie, almond pound cake, and a gorgeous tiramisu cake. (Jill, you rocked this one, that mascarpone frosting was so incredible!)

Thanksgiving desserts

Jeff and I just finished a huge hunk of that cake last night over more video games and a growler of beer. Hooray for Sunday sales passing in Decatur!

And now, it’s that time of year where I frantically try to complete all of our holiday shopping in a few short weeks because I meant to start months ago but never got around to it. I don’t mess with that whole Black Friday business either, I hate malls.

Making any headway on your holiday shopping?


A proper crusting buttercream

(Update: For an even better explanation of my favorite crusting buttercream recipe, as well as my favorite recipe for vanilla cake, try this post instead.)

Sorry I’ve been missing for a few days. As you’ll soon see, I’ve been quite busy!

I’ll show you the buttercream icing I made for my wedding cake practice later in this post….first though, I have got to share with you the amazing breakfast I’m currently scarfing down while I type this.

I found my favorite apples at the market two days ago, the Honeycrisp!  Nearly bought the lot of them…

I lay awake in bed last night dreaming of my intentions for these apples this morning. Here’s what I did…

I cut up one small Honeycrisp and sauteed it with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little apple cider.

Behold what emerged!..

I put these warm, glossy apples over oatmeal cooked in almond milk and topped it all with toasted buckwheat and honey!  The apples are still slightly firm but not crunchy and all the flavors are just perfect together.

It’s really helping to warm me up in our chilly apartment.  We’re trying not to turn the heat on until it’s really necessary.

So anyway, glorious breakfast aside, this post is really about what I spent my day on yesterday…

That is a vat of frosting, my friends. It was finally time to assemble the wedding cake I’ve been working on!

This is the recipe I used for this crusting buttercream icing:

  • 2 sticks room-temperature butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (12oz.) butter-flavored Crisco shortening
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • approx. 2 lbs. powdered confectioner’s sugar
  • milk or water to thin for consistency

You start by incorporating the butter and shortening together in a mixer.

Then add the salt and vanilla and mix until it’s glossy.

I added the sugar in about six installments to allow it to incorporate completely, then let it whir away to get nice and fluffy.

Here’s what came out…

I added just a splash of milk and gave it one more spin to help it to loosen from the blade a little better.

I trimmed the muffin tops off of my pre-made cake layers…

And started building…

Here’s a few more layers…

And the crumb coat…

Let that bad boy set up in the fridge for a few hours to let the buttercream “crust.”  That’s when it gets hard and crispy.  You want that for a few reasons; it seals in all the crumbs so that your cake isn’t slowly breaking apart while you’re trying to work with it, it seals the cake to prevent moisture loss so you don’t have a stale cake on wedding day, it makes for one solid structure so that the layers aren’t sliding around all over each other, and it also makes for a smooth and clean surface to lay fondant over so that no bumps or imperfections show through the fondant.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the evening making a video of how to take that rough column of cake and turn it into a finished layer for a three-tier topsy-turvy cake!  Hopefully I’ll have that up sometime tonight, I need Jeff’s help to edit it so I have to at least wait for him to get home from work.

Here’s what I get to try to avoid for the rest of the day…

Cake scraps!  Maybe just one little piece?