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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 03/28/14

Friday, March 28, 2014

SPICED APPLE SNACK CAKES!

Spiced Apple Snack Cakes

I’m particularly drawn to apples this autumn–the incredible heirloom apples from our favorite upstate farm stand may be the reason.  Ashmead’s Kernel, Newtown Pippin, Kid’s Orange Red, and Pink Pearl—even the names are delicious at Montgomery Place Orchard.
Right now, half of the refrigerator is filled with apples ready to be baked, caramelized, sauced, and more. I have been experimenting with several recipes, but here’s the first, a simple snack cake. Not too sweet, apple essence in every bite, and paired with classic spices, these individual treats are excellent for anytime of the day.

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Spiced Apple Snack Cakes

makes 18-20 cakes

Sautéed Apples


INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Granny Smith, Honey Crisp or your favorite apples, medium-large, peeled and cored, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over high heat until golden. Add apples, cover for 30 seconds. Remove lid and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until they are dry and very tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, sprinkle apples with 2 tablespoons sugar, and lightly toss until glazed. Cool to room temperature.

Cake


INGREDIENTS

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (5-1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (about 3 ounces) walnuts, finely chopped

DIRECTIONS

1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350℉. Line two standard muffin tins with paper liner and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add flour, sugars, i teaspoon cinnamon, cardamom and salt; beat on low speed until combined. Add butter, increase speed to medium and beat until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 30-40 seconds. Remove 1 cup of mixture (crumb topping) to a separate bowl
3. Whisk remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda into mixture, beat on medium speed for 30 sec to combine.  Add coconut milk, egg, and vanilla; beat until mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Remove mixing bowl and fold in apples by hand with a rubber spatula, fill cupcake liners to 3/4 full.
4. Add walnuts to reserved crumb topping; toss to combine. Sprinkle crumb topping over batter, pressing lightly so that mixture adheres. Bake until center is firm and cake tester comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Transfer muffin tins to rack; and cool for 30 minutes before serving.


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DIY VALENTINE ORNAMENT WREATH!




This diy comes from www.mommyisacoocoo.blogspot.com .  Something to do with those extra ornament left over from Christmas.  Enjoy!

 

How to make a Valentine Ornament Wreath

Did you go out and buy a bunch of ornaments at 50% off after Christmas? I hope so because there is no need to wait until next Christmas to have some ornament loveliness in your home!


~ My Valentine Ornament Wreath ~




Here is what you need:

  1. a glass of wine (if you are anal and will worry about bulb placement)
  2. a plastifoam wreath (DON'T buy floral foam) shaped like a heart
  3. glue sticks and a glue gun
  4. spray paint (to color the foam wreath). I used red. Use whatever color you like best.
  5. about a million ornaments (different {Valentine} colors and sizes work best).
  6. spray on glitter (usually $5.99 at craft stores or $1.00 if you buy body glitter left over from Halloween
  7. a small piece of ribbon to hang your wreath

Spray paint your foam wreath. You can use whatever color you like but keep in mind some paint will show between your bulbs.




~ my large bulbs ~




~ my smaller bulbs ~


* small bulbs are essential to fill in the gaps



Now, it is pretty similar to the Christmas Ornament Wreath Tutorial. Place your bulbs on the inside of the heart wreath. (Don't use your favorite bulbs on this part a lot of these bulbs will be covered up.) After you have placed your bulbs, use your glue gun to secure them in place. You will glue each bulb to the wreath AND, to the next bulb in place.





Repeat this process for the outside of the wreath. Use the same size bulbs all the way around the outside of the wreathUse sturdier (not vintage-they break really easily) bulbs on the outside. (Again, don't use your favorite bulbs here).




Now you are ready to start placing your favorite bulbs (I find it is best to do this in the evening while you have {at least} a glass of wine. If you are anal {me} and tend to over think things {also me} you will have a hard time figuring out where the bulbs should go). Don't over think it! Place a few bulbs (not worrying about small gaps) and then glue them in place. You can fill in gaps with smaller bulbs at the end. When you finish placing all your bulbs weave your ribbon through, take two Tylenol and go to bed.



Finally, spray your wreath glitter. This will really make it shine!

*Store your wreath at room temperature! Otherwise your glue will expand/contract and the bulbs will fall off and (possibly) break.


~ Happy Valentines Day! ~








LAHTI SKI GAMES FROM FINNLAND!







   Lahti Ski Games is a yearly international winter sport event. The games last for three days, during which participants compete in cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined. In the nearly 90-year history of the Lahti Ski Games the fireworks seen on Saturday night have become one of the highlights of the event. The goal of establishing the games was to get a competition similar to the Holmenkollen Ski Festival in Finland.
   The idea for the games came from a Finnish legend, Lauri Pihkala in 1922. He wrote an article about a competition equal to the Holmenkollen Ski Festival after the double win of Anton Collin and Tapani Niku at Holmenkollen the same year. In the article Pihkala suggested Lahti as the location for the competition because of the city’s location and grounds.











First Competition Ever Held
   The first Lahti Ski Games was held 3–4 February 1923. From the very beginning volunteers have played a big part in arranging the games. At the first Lahti Ski Games only Finnish competitors attended the event, but it was still a success. From then on the citizens were encouraged to flag during the competition weekend so that the city would look its best.

History

   Competitors from other countries took part in the games for the first time in 1926. The games were FIS congress competition, which attracted competitors from 15 different countries. The Sport center where the games are held was now improved. The local schools were turned into accommodation as the students were on holiday.
   The games lived through a quieter time period between the late 1960s and the early 1970s. It was time to develop marketing for the event and as a result additions to the program of the games were made in order create more entertainment value.
   When the new millennium was approaching it was becoming clear that the games were not as visible in the city profile as before. According to speculations one of the reasons might be that the popularity of televised sport events kept the fans at home. The Saturday night ski jumping competition as well as the fireworks seen on the same night, have nonetheless remained popular among the public.

 Salpausselkä Station

   For many years the public came to the games from far, oftentimes by skiing. The crowds were also transported by a special train that came directly into a station at the Sport center. The Salpausselkä station was built in 1938 and it later relocated in 1957. Nowadays the station is replaced merely by a halt, which no longer has regular train traffic. The tracks are still partially in place.











Games Cancellations
   The games have only been cancelled three times: first in 1930 because of the lack of snow and in 1940 due to the Winter War. In 1942 there were no normal Lahti Ski Games held.

 Radio and television

   The first time the Lahti Ski Games was ever broadcasted was in 1932. It made the games national. In 1959 the games were televised live. However, it wasn’t until 1971 that the live televising was extended to cover footage also straight from the skiing tracks.

 Sport

   Today participants compete in cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined. The sports in which athletes compete at Lahti Ski Games have gone through many changes throughout the games’ history. In the early years participants competed in the original 50 kilometer skiing. It was arranged for the last time in 1986. There have also been men’s 30 and 10 km, as well as the women’s 5 km. The seniors and youngsters had their own tour. In the 1938 Championships also slalom was competed in. In 1970 the evening’s ski-jumping competition became the official team competition. In 2000 sprint was introduced.











 Sport Center

   Many changes have taken place at the Sport center over the years. Jumps over 50 meters became possible when the hill was raised in 1931. Several years later a new hill was constructed. It was raised again for the 25th anniversary Lahti Ski Games in 1947. Lahti city constructed the current hill during 1971–1972, and it was improved again later in 1998.

Lahti Folk Celebration

   The fireworks have gained a lot of popularity since the first time they were seen in 1934. Before the people got to see the fireworks a torch parade went through the city from the city hall all the way to the pit of the hill, i.e. the out-run at the Sport center. A million Finnish marks were charged for the 15 minutes long fireworks show. During 1942–1945 the fireworks were not organized.

STEPS FOR MAKING AND BAKING BETTER CAKES!













1. I always use a kitchen scale to weigh my ingredients. They’re small, light, and don’t have to be fancy or expensive; here is what I use: Salter 1020 Aquatronic Electronic Kitchen Scale. It’s just a great habit to get into. You wouldn’t believe the difference in what one person may scoop as a cup of flour, versus another, and weighing it to the exact gram/oz is your safest bet. Having too much flour can sure dry out a cake in a hurry, just as too little will throw it off kilter. I really believe that using a scale is one of the habits that made me a much better baker, and definitely more consistent. Trust me! I even use mine to weigh my coffee grinds for a perfect pot, my serving portions (when I’m eating clean), homemade burgers, and when dividing batches of pizza dough, etc.







2. You may notice that I bake “layer by layer,” so rather than baking a higher cake and slicing layers for a standard 3-layer cake, I bake 3 more shallow layers in 2″ high pans. This way, the cakes seem to come out more moist, with no “doming,” and ready to be frosted. It may seem an inconvenience at first, because you have to buy 3 cake pans in each diameter, but you get used to it quickly, and it’s so worth it. You also save the time trying to slice even layers, unless of course you are turning 3 layers into 6. But, then again, that’s worth it too!











3. Never open the oven before 20 minutes, or you could disrupt the baking process. Always wait 20 minutes, and then, if you’re baking 3 cake layers at a time, rotate the pans and then continue baking.









4. There are a few tools that I mention in almost every post, and since I’ve been receiving many emails asking more about the cake baking/decorating essentials, I thought I would take this chance to create a list of some of my favourite things in the kitchen, and things that I believe really make a difference:

  • When torting, filling, frosting, and/or decorating cakes, I always use a cake turntable. They definitely range in price, but I think as long as you have one that is sturdy and turns, it should do the trick. I use something similar to this: 
  • When filling and frosting cakes, I use several sizes of offset and straight spatulas–I couldn’t live without them. Rule of thumb: offset for the top of cakes, straight for the sides. Here’s an example: 
  • When I want to achieve a perfectly smooth finish to buttercream, such as in this cake, or before applying fondant, I always use a bench scraper.