Candid Reflections

February 24, 2010

Tea for Ten

Filed under: Cup of Blessings, Savoring the Moments — Tags: , — candid reflections @ 6:46 am

Miss M.  had some girlfriends over to tea in celebration of yet another year under her belt frilly sash.   She wanted to start off this next year with ruffles and lace and sugar and spice and… all that stuff.  So, with the inspiration of a sweet friend who’d thrown a tea party for her granddaughter just the week before me, I set off to the task! 

Upon the arrival of ten little girls, the fun began!  We made the most adorable high-tea hats, frosted & decorated sugar cookies, and listened to a story while we ate grown-up snacks like cheese and fruit.  If you’re planning to throw a party for kids, I recommend checking out the fun party ideas on familyfun.go.com.

Such a wonderful way to celebreate.  Lovely little ladies + Charming manners = Delightful company!

February 18, 2010

On the Nightstand

Filed under: On the Nightstand — candid reflections @ 12:58 pm

Poe’s Tales, Edgar Allen Poe
The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James
The Excellency of a Gracious Spirit, Jeremiah Burroughs
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

February 15, 2010

Baby Ballerina Photo Session

Filed under: Photo Sessions, Photography — Tags: , — candid reflections @ 2:25 pm

I’ve recently had the privilege of photographing my good friend’s most precious little toddler girl… sapphire eyes, cotton candy lips, and golden curls- it was such a delight!  I was in much need of some practice with the toddling type, you know, the ones that don’t have time for poses, nor care to offer up exclamations of “Cheese!”  I’m so grateful for my time with little Miss S. – she gave me some practice being “on my toes” which are nowhere as cute as hers, I must add!

February 11, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Filed under: Gluten-Free, In the Kitchen — Tags: , , , — candid reflections @ 11:35 am

Dear Andrea L., or anyone who may be trying to avoid that white, fluffy gluten containing stuff,  AKA: wheat flour,

Here is the chocolate cake recipe I promised… a little later than I’d hoped to get it posted, but I think you’ll find it was well worth the wait!  Prepare your taste buds for a velvety, chocolately scrumptious experience.

This fudge-like cake is so easy, my two fifth graders prepared it during school – Cooking Class.  Later (in between coaching math problems), I enjoyed my helping of the chocolate cake (half), in the teacher’s lounge (anywhere where there is no kids!)

Flourless Chocolate Cake

16 oz. good quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate (ie. Scharffen Berger, Dagoba, etc.)
5 large eggs, separated
1/3  cup powdered sugar
1 TBSP vanilla
1/2  cup unsalted butter
Powdered cocoa (to dust pan)

Preheat the oven to 250.  Use butter or margarine to grease a nine-inch spring form pan, then dust it with the powdered cocoa.

Melt the chocolate (the kids used inexpensive chips by Ambrosia) with the butter completely in a double boiler, or the microwave.

Separate the eggs.

Beat the egg yolks with the vanilla in a large bowl, then very gradually add the warm chocolate-butter mixture, stirring constantly. 

In a clean, large bowl, whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until they are stiff and form soft peaks.

Slowly add the powdered sugar to them, still beating until it is well blended.  The egg whites should appear a little shiny and stiff.  Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture a little at a time.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and bake for approximately an hour.  The top of the cake should appear dry and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should have crumbs stuck to it, but not appear gooey.  Serve when it is completely cooled.  You may dust it with cocoa, powdered sugar, or serve with whipped cream. 

.. if you’re feeling really naughty, prepare a yummy ganache frosting for your flourless chocolate cake, a dangerously delicious combination indeed!

Ganache :

8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoons cognac or brandy (optional)

Place the chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl.  Set aside.  Heat the cream and butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.  Bring just to a boil.  Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Stir with a whisk until smooth.  If desired, add the liquer. 

To cover cake:  First brush any loose crumbs from the cake and place cake on a wire rack.  Put rack on a baking sheet, so that ganach has a place to drip, making cleanup easier.  Using a cake spatula, cover the sides and top of the cake with a thin layer of ganache.  This is called a crumb coat.  Refrigerate for 5 min.  To cover cake, pour the remaining ganache onto the center of the cake.  Working quickly, spread with a spatula using big strokes to push the ganache over the sides of the cake, creating an even coating.

February 5, 2010

Photo Session: High School Senior Style

Filed under: Photo Sessions — Tags: , , , — candid reflections @ 9:40 am

High School Seniors are my new, favorite people to take pictures of, and Austin was no exception.  I had a fun afternoon with Austin and his parents, and they have friends with the coolest landscaping- if it hadn’t been for the rain, they might’ve had to drag me out of there, I didn’t want to leave!  Thanks for being such a great target for my camera, Austin!  Here’s  a little sneak peek.

February 3, 2010

Chocolately, Gooey Goodness… and they’re Gluten-Free!

Filed under: Gluten-Free, In the Kitchen — Tags: , , , — candid reflections @ 10:10 pm

Oh my, now here is a gluten-free cookie that my little man-cub who has allergies is going to have to hide from the rest of the bunch!  I made these for the first time tonight, after he had gone to bed.  I’m back into test mode, trying out various recipes for my little allergic fella, so of course I had to try them out as soon as I pulled them from the oven.  All I can say is that they were deeee-lish!  I called my eldest, non-allergic son in to have a sample.  I asked him if he could tell that they were gluten and dairy free.  He ate some and then replied that he’d have to taste some more before making that call.  I gave him the other half of the cookie and waited for his answer.  Immediately after licking his lips, he responded to my anticipation by repeating the request for yet another taste to really be sure!  Ha!  I knew they were that good! 

Chocolate Cherry Coconut Cookies
Recipe from Carol Fenster’s book 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes

¼ cup ( half stick) unsalted butter or Earth Balance
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups Carol’s Sorghum Blend*
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used dairy-free)
½ cup dried sweetened cherries
¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut

     *Carol’s Sorghum Blend
     1 ½ cups sorghum flour
     1 ½ cups potato starch or corn starch
     1 cup tapioca flour

1. Place a rack in the lower-middle position and another in the upper-middle position of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 375º.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large mixing brown, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer on low-speed until very smooth, about 1 minute.  Beat in the egg and vanilla.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sorghum blend, cocoa, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda and gradually beat into the egg mixture on low-speed just until blended.  Stir in the chocolate chips, cherries, and coconut.  Knead the dough with your hands a few times to make sure the chips, cherries, and coconut are thoroughly incorporated. 

4.. Using a spoon, scoop balls onto parchment paper.  Place one sheet on the upper rack, and one on the lower rack.  Bake 12-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets between racks halfway through baking.  Cool cookies 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store, tightly covered for up to 2 days, or in the freezer for up to a month.

February 1, 2010

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies/ Snickerdoodles

Filed under: Gluten-Free, In the Kitchen — candid reflections @ 10:43 pm

In the kitchen this evening, trying out a new recipe I picked up from a local community GF meeting a few months ago.  My little gluten-free fella found these cookies pleasing.

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter (or Earth Balance)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg (or egg replacer)
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, beat in egg and vanilla.

1 cup white rice flour
1 cup brown rice flour
¼ cup starch (potato, tapioca, or corn – I used tapioca)
1 tblsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp soda
2 tsp xanthan gum

Mix together dry ingredients in separate bowl.  Add dry mixture, one cup at a time to butter mixture.   The dough will be stiff.  Scoop by spoonfuls, roll in sugar or a sugar/cinnamon mixture, place onto cookie sheet and bake about 7 minutes or until golden.

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