September 3, 2009

Birthday Menu

Randomness ensues on birthdays around our house. When Moo was younger we would have Cheese on Top of the Mountain (hotdogs, mashed potatoes, cheese), Homemade Macaroni and Cheese, and Peaches and/or Pears bottled by Auntie Cooking W. (very specific on that point). Moo has transitioned from the foods of youth and has already requested her "dad's steak" for her birthday and since she has the day off from school I will be taking the day off and making Aebleskivers for her for breakfast. I will write more about those when the time comes (September 30).

For now we will concentrate on the randomness that was Bob's fifth birthday.

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Ham Fried Rice
from Sparky
Print Recipe

2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
4 cups water
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 – 2 cup cubed ham (you can also use shrimp, chicken, or a combination of all 3)
diced veggies or peas (optional)
3 eggs, beaten
soy sauce

Cook rice according to package directions (with long-grain white rice it is usually 2 cups rice to 4 cups water, but if your package directions are different, cook it accordingly). Heat sesame oil and vegetable oil in a LARGE skillet over medium-high heat and stir in onion. When onions become clear and light brown, add garlic. When garlic is lightly browned, add ham and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until ham is nice and hot. Add veggies (optional) and cook until veggies are tender. Stir in beaten egg and cook until egg is scrambled and firm. Add cooked rice to skillet and mix in thoroughly. Stir in soy sauce (use just enough to get it LIGHT brown more can always be added later). Serve immediately.

++We don't add veggies to the fried rice because this happens to be Bob's favorite meal and I have to take what I can get with that kid. If he only knew he was eating onions. We serve veggies on the side and that is just as good for the rest of the family.

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Crock-Pot Rotisserie Chicken
from Sparky
Print Recipe

1 whole roasting chicken
olive oil
season salt (or other desired seasonings)

Make 4 or 5 loose balls of aluminum foil and place in bottom of crock pot. Clean chicken inside and out. Rub with olive oil inside and out. Sprinkle generously inside and out with seasoned salt. Put chicken back-side down in crock pot (on top of foil balls). Cook on high 4-6 hours. Transfer chicken to a baking dish and place under your broiler for a few minutes until the skin looks nice and crispy. Reserve leftover juice, bones, and chicken for chicken soup (recipe to follow in a different post).

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Steamed Broccoli with Lime Dressing
from The Sisters' Cafe
Print Recipe

1 1/4 lbs broccoli (1 large bunch)
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp sesame oil
coarse salt

In a large pot fitted with a steamer basket, bring one inch of water to a boil; add broccoli in a single layer. Cover and steam until tender, about five minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together lime juice and sesame oil; season with salt. Add broccoli to dressing, toss lightly to coat. Serve immediately.

++This was delicious. The combination of lime juice and sesame oil was wonderful.

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Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake

from Annie's Eats
Print Recipe

2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans*
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp table salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature**
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks plus 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350°. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. Grease paper rounds, dust pans with flour, and knock out excess. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cups sugar together in large bowl. In 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to bowl and set aside. Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds. Using rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. Lightly tap pans against counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles. Bake until cake layers begin to pull away from sides of pans and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 20-22 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pan with small knife, then invert onto greased wire rack and peel off parchment. Invert cakes again and cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

*Cake flour substitute - For one cup cake flour, sift together 3/4 cup all purpose flour and 2 Tbsp cornstarch. If you are interested in the difference between the types of flours, read this.

**Buttermilk substitute - For one cup buttermilk, pour 1 Tbsp into glass measuring cup, then pour milk in to measure one cup.

++This cake was pretty easy. Baking it the day after the Vanilla Cream Cheese Cupcakes worked out great because that recipe called for the other three egg whites that weren't used for this recipe. While I could freeze the whites, I am pleased that I didn't have to.

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Easy Vanilla Buttercream
also from Annie's Eats
Print Recipe

20 Tbsp (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp heavy cream

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds. Scrape bowl, add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds. Then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice. Add color if desired.

++Oh. my. goodness. The frosting is fabulous!! The cake was quite good but oh, the frosting. I might be able to eat it plain. (I didn't try because if I actually could that would be a very bad thing.) I have had/made buttercream before and this completely put anything I have eaten or made to shame. Of course it is pretty easy to put store purchased icing to shame. . .ick.

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Everything turned out great and we enjoyed Nana's company. One more post to wrap up a few loose recipes and then I will not be behind anymore.

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