Monday, December 27, 2010

Cake Slice Bakers - Cranberry Cake

Although this is my third month as a member of the cake slice bakers I opted out of last months cinnamon pudding cake because it didn't really appeal to my tastes. This months cake is once again not a cake I would have chosen to make but I am so glad I did because it was amazing. It's moist, sweet, tart, and the topping gives it a little crunch.

For the streusel:

•1 cup sliced almonds

•2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

•2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

For the cake:

•2 cups all-purpose flour

•1 teaspoon baking powder

•1/4 teaspoon salt

•3 large eggs

•2 cups granulated sugar

•3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

•1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries

Make the streusel: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch round springform pan.

Combine the almonds, butter and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Work the mixture between your fingers to form large crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Combine the eggs and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on a medium high speed until the mixture is lightened and increased in volume, about 5 minutes.

With the mixture on low, add the butter in a slow stream. Turn the mixture to medium speed and beat for another 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.

Gently but thoroughly fold in the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in the cranberries.

Scrape the batter into a prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the streusel over the batter. Bake the cake until it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 60-70 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Release the sides of the pan and use a large spatula to slide the cake from the pan bottom to a wire rack. Cool completely, cut into wedges and serve.

Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! It's Christmas eve today and I am thrilled to announce that I will be devouring eating homemade (not by me) tamales, Mexican rice, and borracho beans for Christmas eve dinner. Tamales at Christmas is a traditional Texan holiday meal and I was hoping that it would make me feel a little better about not being home... for the 4th year in a row now. But my best friend just gave birth a few days ago and I would really like to be home so I can meet her little man. I'm hoping she'll allow me to refer to myself as his aunt Whitney because I love being an aunt. Nick's sister has 3 kiddos and while we don't see them often I really do enjoy our time together, I love being their aunt. This is probably because I was blessed with some amazing aunts who I love dearly and who I have always looked up to.

Speaking of aunts, another reason I would really like to be home is because my great aunt Patsy is in the ICU after she underwent an emergency triple bypass last week. Patsy had planned to travel to LA last Friday but she had a cold and wanted to get it taken care of before hand. When she went in to see the doctor she also mentioned that she had shortness of breath. One test led to another and before she knew it she was being admitted and ended up in surgery. She apparently had a large hole in her heart and if she had flown there was a strong chance that the pressure in the plane would have caused a stroke or heart attack. So although it is unfortunate that Patsy is in the hospital this holiday season we are actually very blessed that it was not worse. Everyone in San Antonio is working hard taking care of Patsy, going to visit her, making sure her house is in order, etc. I wish I was there to assist in helping out. Last I heard Patsy was doing really well.

Generally when we are here for Christmas we have traveled up the coast to San Luis Obispo and we love it. I mean there is something magical about SLO, the family, the scenery, it's just perfect. But last year we ended up staying home because I was hugely pregnant and we enjoyed not packing the car, not driving 7 hours, and just taking it easy at home so we decided to do it again. I kind of regret it now because to me Christmas is mostly about family, but at the same time when I think about the car ride I instantly need a nap, the sheer thought is exhausting.

I should also mention that Haley is not here, she's in Texas with Donnie so this Christmas is even stranger than usual. So our plans are to enjoy the Texan dinner tonight with a single Marine friend of ours, and open one gift. Then tomorrow I'll get up, make a nice brunch consisting of cranberry coffee cake, coffee, and a hashbrown casserole, get ready, THEN open gifts, and then we'll eventually make our way up the tram to play in the freshly fallen (we had one heck of a storm) snow and eat a nice Christmas dinner.

I'm really looking forward to not being rushed at 6am to hurry up, make coffee, get the camera ready, and photograph an incredibly excited Haley. I mean I love her to death and I certainly miss her but I'm looking forward to taking my sweet time :)

For all of my family reading this, I love and miss you guys like crazy! Hopefully next year I'll be living in Texas and be around to celebrate the season with all of you.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Alice Vs. The Butterfly

Since moving here I've been amazed at the generosity from so many different organizations. As a military family we are invited to all sorts of free or low cost events, we're often treated to free meals, free gifts, just all sorts of things. Of course Christmas is a huge time for giving so it's no surprise that we're given plenty of goodies. Last night we attended a special holiday party put on by Lincoln Management, the company that runs the military housing. The girls got to visit with Santa, we got a free photo, and then each girl chose a gift. These are good gifts, not something you'd get from the dollar store. Haley got a board game and Alice got a butterfly toy. When we got it home and turned it on she was completely freaked out by it. It was hilarious, she would not turn her back on the butterfly and wouldn't let it touch her. Eventually she warmed up to it but she still had some reservations about it. Here is a video of her and her butterfly, watch her face when she realizes it's about to touch her foot :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Haley's 10th Birthday Party

This last Saturday we celebrated Haley's 10th birthday with an Alice in Wonderland themed tea party. Her actual birthday isn't until the 29th but since that's during winter break so we always throw the party early to ensure that guests actally come. I made her cake using two box cake mixes, vanilla and dark chocolate, and it was composed of 4 layers total. It was a big, beautiful, and delicious cake. Unfortunately there were a lot of leftovers and it was a huge effort not to snack on the cake all day yesterday. Anyway, here are some photos from the party.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Miss Alice's Christmas Dress

We're not going anywhere and no one is coming here on Christmas so Alice didn't really need a Christmas dress this year but our neighbor, who was absolutely certain her third and last child (a boy) was going to be a girl, had a plethora of little girls clothes that she never got to use so she gave them to us. In the bag of clothes was this little red velvet dress that was just Alice's size. Here are the photos. Oh, and yes, I will try very hard to get Christmas photos of Haley but it's really rare that she allows me to dress her up and do her hair these days; she's becoming quite the tomboy.

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's a Cookie, It's a Pie, It's... Cookie Pie.

There are certain desserts in existance that make me want to burst out into song, specifically the song "Heaven is a Place on Earth" by Belinda Carlisle. Seriously. There are certain songs that randomly pop into my head and that is my personally designated song for really good food. Other songs include Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" specifically the lyrics "whoa we're half way there!"; it has popped into my head at random halfway points through out life, like road trips and the end of my sophmore year in college. Anyway, let's get back to this little slice of heaven, the cookie pie. It's sort of like those pizza sized cookies from the mall however it's much chewier and thicker. It's perfection, a beautiful marriage between cookie and pie :)

Here is how you make it:

You'll need
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut

In a small bowl combine your flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl beat together sugar and butter until creamed, then add egg and vanilla.

Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet. Stir in chocolate and coconut. Pour into a greased pie pan and spread batter evenly. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

It is the easiest thing in the world, and the most delicious. The best thing is that you can switch out the coconut for other things like mini m&ms, toffee, left over halloween candy bars (crushed up), or anything else you can possibly think of.