Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A different kind of wedding...

feather love
{photo by featherlove photography}

This, to me, is the best idea for a wedding. Get everyone together under the guise of celebrating your engagement, and then walk out in the most beautiful wedding gown and get married! This would eliminate all of the stress and bickering that tend to revolve around wedding planning. Everyone would be relaxed and at their best, which is what we all want for our weddings, right?

Obviously, even her friends had no idea. How wonderful.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cake. And more.

44676
{image by Rachel Ray}

Every year my husband makes chicken paprikash for his birthday (well, ok, I help him!). Before I met him, I had never heard of chicken paprikash (or chicken paprika), but once introduced, I quickly fell in love (with him and the recipe!).

~For the Chicken Paprikash~

  • Take 4-5 lbs of chicken parts (breasts will not work, you want bone-in pieces so you get more flavor), and brown them in a bit of butter, then add chopped onion to the dish. Let it all simmer for a bit, then add salt, pepper, a bunch of Hungarian paprika, and 1 to 1-1/2 cups of water, and let it stew some more.
  • Meanwhile, mix up 3 cups flour, 3 eggs (beaten), 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp salt into a sticky dough. Flatten the dough on a plate, cut into bite sized pieces, then drop them in salted boiling water. Let these boil while the chicken is simmering.
  • Now here's where it gets really good, and by good I mean fattening. Remove the browned and (hopefully by now) tender chicken pieces and set aside on another plate. Now you've got a skillet full of oniony liquidy goodness. Add 1 pint of sour cream to this liquid. Yes, I said 1 pint. 16 whole ounces. Go ahead, do it. Heat it thoroughly, stirring as you go. Don't let it boil! At this point you basically want to crawl into the skillet and bathe in the stuff, it smells that good.
  • Your dumplings should be ready at this point, so go ahead and drain them, rinse under cold water, and return to the big pot you boiled them in. Add the chicken pieces and the sour cream liquid mixture to the pot as well, and heat over low, stirring constantly, to allow all of the flavors blend. This is a critical step - you want the dumplings to absorb the sour cream liquid. Trust me. Ladle into big bowls and serve immediately (although it keeps really well in the fridge and actually tastes better the longer it sits).

I looked around a bit - this and this are the closest recipes that I can find to my husband's family's recipe (which is what we used). If you're looking for a fantastic comfort food, this is definitely it. Creamy, hot, filling, and just wonderful.

~Caramel Apple Cake~

And this is his favorite cake, the one I made for him on a whim two years ago. It's not made like a traditional cake - you actually beat the softened butter in with the flour and baking powder. I thought it was strange, but it turned out so well that I stopped questioning it. Please try it - it won't disappoint. It's a perfect fall treat - and the apple layer in the center takes this cake from really really good to perfectly amazing.

2-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 sticks (1 pound) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 crisp apples (about 1 pound), such as gala, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup store-bought caramel sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Using an electric mixer, combine the flour, 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar, the baking powder and salt. Mix in 2 sticks butter at low speed until the mixture is crumbly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, 1/2 cup cream, applesauce and vanilla. Mix into the flour-butter mixture at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to release the layers, invert onto the rack and let cool completely.

In a medium skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Add the apple slices and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar and cook, stirring often, until the apples are tender and the juice is syrupy, about 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining 3 tablespoons cream and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 2 sticks butter and the confectioners' sugar until light and creamy. With the mixer on low, slowly mix in the caramel sauce.

Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate; spread the apple filling evenly on top, then cover with the remaining cake layer. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, cover the top and sides of the cake with the caramel frosting, swirling the top to make a decorative pattern.

...Oh, yeah and I HATE BLOGGER AND THIS FORMATTING. Sheesh, is it too much to ask for user-friendly (and consistent?) formatting applications? I have edited this post about six times and each time it saves differently. (shaking angry fist at blogger)

Thorn Crown Chapel

thorn crown chapel

inside the chapel

inside the chapel

in the chapel

looking up

the entrance

Isn't it beautiful? We stopped by this on our way out of Eureka Springs last weekend. And boy, I'm glad we did.

Eureka!

Well, I was on a great kick for awhile, creating and a'posting like crazy. And then it all stopped. My sewing ceased, the house got a bit dirty, and I didn’t cook anything worth mentioning for two weeks. Why?

We took a little trip here.

eureka springs

eureka springs

eureka springs

crescent hotel

basin hotel

eureka springs

crescent hotel

neat face

Eureka Springs, that is! We had a few family birthdays to celebrate in early October, so we all converged on this little town and spent 24 precious hours discovering it. Thanks to Liz over at
Mabel’s House (a blog I read often, which is how I found out that she is enchanted with this little town and knows quite a bit about the area), we were pointed in the right directions and ended up eating at some fabulous establishments. We stayed here, lunched here, and…drum roll…had the most exquisite dinner here. In fact, that was the highlight of our trip, and we’ve already discussed visiting next year and staying there instead of the Crescent Hotel (sorry, Crescent, but you just didn’t live up to the hype. Your rooms were a bit lacking, and your customer service was less than stellar).

But the town is just charming, with cozy antique shops, art galleries, and more. It's a great combination of mountain atmosphere with an almost European feel, with the small winding streets and very old structures (many were built in the late 1800's). The weather held out for us, and stayed at a brisk but sunny 55 degrees the entire weekend. Just warm enough to do some shopping during the day, then made for a perfect fall evening with the family, filled with wine and really good food.

On the way out, we stopped at an amazing chapel, which I feel deserves its own post. More to follow!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I've been featured!

What a humbling experience! See her sweet post here.

And she has a very cute Etsy shop! I particularly love this necklace.


lovely

Check out her other offerings
here.