11 October 2011

Curried Butternut Squash Soup - Project Pastry Queen

I was hesitant about the recipe choice for this week's Project Pastry Queen. Curried Butternut Squash Soup was chosen by Josie at Pink Parsley. Head on over there for the recipe. Given the huge health benefits of butternut squash though, I decided to give it a try.

It is only been in the last 5 years that I have added sweet potatoes to my "Like" column. I never cared for the marshmallow, brown sugar version that is offered up at Thanksgiving. <<UGH>>!!! After I discovered their savory side, I now love them - especially roasted with rosemary and a touch of olive oil. Butternut squash falls into that same category. I haven't been a fan of most recipes I have tried. I'm also not a fan of the curry powder that is called for in the recipe. I thought of leaving it out, but I'm glad I didn't. I omitted the honey and cut the cinnamon in half. Next time I will leave it out and perhaps add in some rosemary.

Like most soups, this recipe is quick and easy to throw together - especially when you buy the squash already peeled and cut into cubes. (I HIGHLY recommend this!)

Like many soups, saute some onions and carrots in olive oil or butter.

Add the cubed squash, russet potato, and the spices.

Add chicken stock, milk and cream (optional). I used less than 1/2 of the cream that was called for, and compensated with extra milk. .

Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes.
I used my immersion blender to puree the soup,
but you could use a regular blender as well.

Serve with a dollop of light sour cream and a sprinkling of paprika.

This was a very tasty soup and I WILL make it again. It was nice that we had a little rain (finally) in Austin over the weekend, so it even seemed like fall - perfect soup weather! Check out the results from the other PPQ members here! Some roasted the squash before making the soup, sounds like something I will try the next time.

09 October 2011

Tuxedo Cake - Project Pastry Queen

Not only is this Tuxedo Cake the reason I found Project Pastry Queen, it is why I bought Rebecca Rather's cookbook "The Pastry Queen" in the first place. Needless to say, I was THRILLED when Shawnda chose this as her selection, you can find the complete recipe and a gorgeous picture at her site. The cake tastes even better than it looks. Unless I am pressed for time, this will be my go to Chocolate Cake from now on . . . so long cake mixes!!

Franklin, my "Tuxedo" cat.
No, he did not get my last piece of cake!!
(Don't ask how long it took to get this photo)

Even though I've owned the cookbook for at least 6 years, I have never made this cake. The picture makes it look like one of those elegant, yet difficult desserts to make. I shouldn't have been intimidated because it was not complicated at all. I chose to make the cake using two 10-inch round cake pans, but it can also be made with three 9-inch pans. The whole thing came together by hand, it was kind of nice not using my stand mixer.

Two sticks of butter are melted in a saucepan, and then water and canola oil are added. Sugar, cocoa powder and flour are sifted together with a whisk. The butter mixture is whisked into the dry ingredients until smooth. 

Eggs are whisked in, one at a time

Whisk in buttermilk, and then add baking soda, salt and vanilla

The batter is then poured into your prepared pans. I saw a post of Shawnda's for Fresh Strawberry Cake. She suggested wrapping the sides of your cake pans with aluminum foil - "it would keep the batter near the edge of the pan cooler for longer so the cake baked more evenly". I've never done this, but decided to give it a try.

I was VERY HAPPY with the way they turned out. Thanks Shawnda!!

The cakes must cool completely, at least 2 hours before frosting. The frosting is made by whipping cream to the soft peak stage and then stirring in the powdered sugar. Once frosted, the cake needs to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour.

The chocolate glaze is made with bittersweet chocolate, whipping cream and something called "Lyle's Golden Syrup". This is imported from Britain, and if you can't find it in your grocery store, here is the link to a substitution. The substitution suggests a combination of light corn syrup and molasses. I found something called "Brer Rabbit Syrup", imported from Britain, ingredients - corn syrup and molasses. GREAT, I thought, but once I tasted the chocolate glaze on the cake, I did not like it. Next time, I will substitute with light corn syrup only!!

Once the glaze has cooled for 10 minutes, slowly pour it over the cake - covering the top and letting it drizzle down the side. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. I made this cake for the Midweek Connections supper at our church, it was a huge hit. I barely had time to rescue a piece to take home with me for a picture.

08 October 2011

2010 Mamma Jamma Ride

It's been awhile since I have posted anything, but it's that time of year - Mamma Jamma time! I have been busy fundraising for my favorite cause. The ride was a week ago, and it was a fabulous day.

If you have read about my own breast cancer story, you might remember how much the Inaugural Mamma Jamma Ride in 2009 meant to me. I will be writing about this year's ride soon, but first I wanted to put up pictures from last year. I've got a lot of posts to catch up on for Project Pastry Queen, and Midweek Connections, amongst others. In the meantime, enjoy what the 2010 Mamma Jamma Ride had to offer. Every rider raised at least $500 to provide services and support for Breast Cancer patients, the ride is their reward!!

Morning dawns at Reunion Ranch. A great day awaits as the
2010 Mamma Jamma Ride is about to begin.

Riders begin to arrive. I love the tire tracks in the dew laden grass.

More bikers gathering, what a beautiful morning!

Leah, myself and Andrea

Thank you David C. Smith, Executive Ride Director, 
for all of your hard work to make this ride happen!

My Hubbie, Mark (# 417), walking his bike over to the starting line

It's almost 8:30, rollout time.
Riders had a choice of 13, 27, 46, 70 & 100 miles.

READY . . .

SET . . .

Those are the wonderful SAG vehicles lined up and ready to support the ride!

430 riders - raised over $400,000 to support Breast Cancer Patients.
Now it's time to enjoy the Texas Hill Country on this tree lined country road!

Heading into the mighty metropolis of Andice, TX.

The sign said "Ride Single File" - riding safely is a Good Thing!

It's hard to get a good picture of the beautiful scenery
while you are pedaling your bike.

MARK . . . WAIT UP!!!

About to go downhill, my favorite thing to do.
Better put the camera away :)

I love this old bridge, just outside of the mighty metropolis of Joppa, TX.

Lunch stop at Joppa, TX

Joppa was Hoppin'

This is my bike - ArVi
I named it after my Dad - ARt and my mom VIrginia.
That way I have them with me whenever I go out for a ride.

Bikes and their saddles patiently waiting for their owners
to mount up and head out on the road again.

Lunch was great - delicious wraps, fruit and OREOS!

The 46 milers on our Gethsemane Lutheran Team.
 Fifteen more miles to go.

I can't believe how green the grass was in 2010 compared to this year.

It was so good to ride with teammates Susan & Jane.
Memories for a lifetime!

Finish line in sight . . .

46 miles - check
A great day spent with good friends - check
Fundraising Goal met - check
Thousands of Breast Cancer patients will have life saving services - PRICELESS

David -ride director, and husband Mark - HEROES!!

Cancer can sometimes give you a gift. These are 2 of my favorites!! We were the top 3 fundraisers for the 2010 Mamma Jamma Ride. It is our passion.

At the Awards Party

When all was said and done with, after fierce competition with my friends Jan and Kerry, I ended up with the Top Fundraiser-Rider Award for 2010. Our team also ended up with the Top Team Fundraiser Per Capita Award. My total for the year was $12,756. Our team ended up raising a little over $20,000. Much would be accomplished in our local Breast Cancer community because of the Mamma Jamma ride. I'm so very proud to be a part of it.

Finally, here is a video that was made of the ride last year, to promote the 2011 Mamma Jamma Ride: