Friday, February 26, 2010

Great Deals at the Hip Hostess Site!

My friends, I have some exciting news! Debbie at The Hip Hostess has extended a generous offer to our readers. Until March 31st, readers of Three Peas in a Kitchen can enter the special promotional code 3PEAS (make sure it stays in all caps) to receive 20% off their entire order!

These would make WONDERFUL gifts for any fashionista in the kitchen. Also, check out their beautiful set of tea towels, which would be perfect for any bridal shower...or even as a gift to yourself. And don't forget about those adorable aprons for cooks in training!

This offer expires March 31st, so check them out soon. I know I will!

Loving some savings,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

This Is Amy's Grown-Up Christmas (or birthday...or whenever anybody wants to buy me a gift...) List

As a young adult, I have many dreams and aspirations. I want to go to graduate school. I want to have a family. In my wildest dreams, I would run my own dining establishment with all of my friends and be as merry as the day is long.

I also have a wish list. Yes, a culinary wish list. Actually, it's the only laundry list of things I want floating around in my head right now. I won't totally geek out on you and list everything, but I wanted to share these with you, my dear friends. Maybe you'll get them someday and show them to me. Maybe you'll even share them with me. Maybe you'll even buy them for me...

Sorry. I don't make friends just so they'll buy me things. Promise.

I promise!

This, my friends, is not a cute little sheath dress. It is, in fact, an APRON! And it is entirely too adorable for me not to own. It's part of the collection of aprons at The Hip Hostess. They also make aprons in small sizes, so you can get one for your daughter too. Better yet, you could MATCH!

Oh. Too cute. Way too cute. Must stop with the cuteness.
This is a beautiful cast iron dutch oven. Not only can you set these babies on the stove--they're safe to put in the oven as well! The iron allows for more even cooking. My grandmother's has lasted her for YEARS...and years...and years. Truth be told, I don't know how long she's had hers. But this is a good sign--they last for a while. That's my kind of cooking tool.

This beautiful specimen is a Calphalon stockpot. Again, there are SO many things I could do with this. I could make lots of stock for my beloved soups. I could make pasta galore without having to worry about the water boiling over. Maybe I could use it in the summertime for my attempts at canning. There are just so many possibilities.

This makes me giggle every time I look at it. HA! It's a silicone pot holder. It's probably one of the best things I have ever seen.

I am easily amused. Surprise, surprise.

I know, I know. But you know you've thought of this too.

Ahhh, to dream the impossible dream. Maybe not impossible...we'll see. I do want one though. And I would use it ALL THE TIME. But I don't have to justify that to you. I think you understand.




I'm curious: What's atop your culinary wish list?

Anxiously awaiting your responses so I can add more things to my wish list,


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Amy's Creamy, Comforting Potato Soup

It's the tail-end of February. For the South, this means that Mother Nature teases us with the weather patterns, giving us spring-like temperatures one day and a blizzard the next. And for those blustery cold days, God gave us the ability to forage our supplies and make something to combat such weather.

And that, my friends, is potato soup.

For as long as I can remember, I have adored all things potato--much like the rest of the human race. And since I was a kid, my mom has made potato soup. Luckily for me, it was our go-to supper during the winter months, and my siblings and I would happily lap up every last drop--and then some. We would fight over the leftovers, which is something my mom relished.

The fighting over leftovers--not with each other. There were many punishments for those.

Those soup has garnered me many friends, and even helped me win an Iron Chef competition. A guy once told me it tasted like something his grandma would make. I think that was my proudest moment ever. It it my dream to become a terrific grandmother.

No, I'm serious.

Creamy Potato Soup (serves 10-12)
*Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*
  • 8-10 russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Milk, to thin as desired
  • Cheddar cheese, as desired
  • Green onions, as desired
In a dutch oven or a large saucepan, boil potatoes and onions til fork-tender. Add cubes of cream cheese to mixture and stir until the cheese melts. To this mixture, add creamy soups. Add garlic, salt, pepper, and milk (if desired). Serve up the bowls, and garnish with cheddar and green onion.

Seriously, it's that easy. You could saute some carrots, celery, or mushroom and add them in. You could add a cup--or two--of cheddar, and it would just be lovely. That's the great thing about cooking--you get to adapt things to your taste. I'm just giving you the outline of your masterpiece.

And this soup is just so good, especially when it looks like that outside. I hope it warms your belly and spirit as much as it does mine!

Peas and love,

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Caitlin's Cupcake Sunday!

It's Cupcake Sunday here in a highly unusual 60 degree Nashville. 3 Days after my 21st birthday, I felt inspired to make a new batch of cupcakes. After extensive searching and inner reflection, I decided that I was going to try my hand at Snickerdoodle cupcakes. Now, to give credit where credit is due - I was inspired by Bakerella's Snickerdoodle Cookie/Cupcakes and Martha Stewart's Snickerdoodle Cupcakes. I actually followed Martha's recipe with a few minor alterations.

I went home to bake these delicious little guys. My mom has one of the best kitchen's around. "Never skimp on tools for your kitchen. Always pay up for the best quality - you won't regret it." Janet AKA Mother Pea. (This is probably not a direct quote - but it's good enough) So, my mother has provided me with an ideal workspace. #1 Item that I couldn't bake without:

A Kitchen Aid mixer is my favorite kitchen appliance. This guy can whip, blend, or do whatever else you want. It is the perfect baker's best friend. If you treat him (or her) well, it can do great things for you. I digress...

Like I said, I followed Martha's recipe.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream (Makes 24)
*Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar. Using a small, fine sieve, dust peaks with cinnamon-sugar. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are frosted; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

What I changed: I didn't have my cake flour at home, sadly. So, instead I took 1 tablespoon of flour out of every cup called for in the cake flour part - and substituted 1 tablespoon of powdered cornstarch. I did this at the recommendation of many fine bakers on the internet. It is crucial to use this substitution, because this type of cupcake calls for a fluffier cake. Just using All-Purpose flour will create a much denser cake. (All this I learned today). This worked like a charm, and I will certainly use that sub. again.

It should also be noted that I am an eyeballer when it comes to measurements. So for things like vanilla, cinnamon, and salt - I generally just gauge it. I also used an organic cinnamon instead of a regular one - because I find the taste fresher and cleaner.

I also combined some cinnamon and sugar and the sprinkled it on the individual cupcakes before I baked them. This created a nice crunchy crust on the top of the cupcake under the icing. It's like a surprise crunch!

Now Martha's recipe calls from her Seven-Minute Frosting - which uses egg whites. I personally don't like meringue-like icing, so I went ahead and used my icing recipe from the last post with (again) some minor changes. Instead of using vanilla bean paste, I used pure vanilla extract and about 2 tablespoons of my organic cinnamon. Mix it all together and top the cupcakes. I am also a fan of sprinkling something on top of the icing - like my organic cinnamon.

Cooking Story: During this baking session, right when I was about to put batch two of the cupcakes in the oven - the power went off in my whole neighborhood. Dread came over me as I realized I had cupcakes in the oven, no icing, and no refrigeration. What to do...what to do. So I go out on the porch and partake in the customary "YOUR POWER OUT? YEAH. MINE TOO." - this is what always happens in our neighborhood. So, I come back inside and read my new Kindle for a bit. All the while, becoming more anxious at the thought of not being able to finish these little guys before I head back to school. But, the electricity gods where with me, and poof! Suddenly I had power again. My fears were quelled and as was well.

Back to present day - I am going to have these in the dorm if anybody wants one. Come on by - you are always welcome! Enjoy this wonderful weather and great natural light, Nashvillians. I fear it will not stay long. So, grab a cupcake and head outside.

Grace and Peace,

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cultured Cupcakes

Guess what. So those cupcakes I posted yesterday? They are the featured item on Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen Dessert Page. Amy called me into her room and we both proceeded to scream and jump around. So exciting. Go check it out!

Grace and Peace,
Publish Post

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Caitlin's Customary Cupcakes

Last 4th of July I decided to make a batch of berry-decorated cupcakes. From there, my love of cupcakes only grew. I started making all kinds of cupcakes: vanilla, mocha, pumpkin, peppermint. I would bake them on Sunday at my house and then bring them to school and pass them out. There never had to be an occasion, just a love. I now have a wonderful collection of cupcake themed things that I gathered in the past year.

Through all of this, one cupcake recipe has stood out among the rest. On a whim, I decided to make almond cupcakes. I didn't know if they would work out at all, but the cupcake muses were with me that day - and this recipe was born. So, I give to you, wonderful readers, my most treasured recipe for Almond Cupcakes with Ultimate Buttercream Icing and Topped with Cinnamon. (Yields 18, so you might want to double it)

Almond Cupcakes with Ultimate Vanilla Buttercream (makes 18)
*Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*

2 cup of flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup of unsalted butter, soft
3 1/2 oz. almond paste
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of milk
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat to 350.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, & salt. In another bowl, mix butter, almond paste & sugar until light & fluffy - 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time. On low, alternately add milk & flour mixture. Stir in vanilla. Fill cups 2/3 full and then bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until done.
I know it sounds weird to use almond paste - but it really works. You need to heat it up a little to make it pliable before you use it. In the store it is normally in the highest, furthest corner of the baking isle - near the marzipan and other such things. I really wouldn't try and substitute almond extract for the paste - it would make it too runny. But, if you want a more almondy flavor, I am sure you could add some extract in too.

Now let those puppies cool completely before piping on this awesome butter cream (Yield 2 c.)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
3 to 5 Tbsp. milk

Cream the butter, vanilla bean paste, and salt together. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk until creamy. You may need to add in some more milk or sugar until you get a consistency you want. I like a really stiff consistency just so my ridges in the icing don't fall apart. Then pipe on the icing with a fun wavy tip. Sprinkle cinnamon on top for added flavor and prettiness.
I love these, and I hope you do to! Let me know what you think.

Grace and Peace,

Monday, February 15, 2010

Recipe by Amy: My Favorite Salsa

For as long as I can remember, I have been CRAZY about salsa--as in, I can eat it...and eat it...and eat it...and stay in love with it. Like there are days when I crave salsa. Like I judge restaurants based on the quality of their salsa and whether I will be dining there again. Like I rhapsodize about salsa to the point when I should feel shameful. But I don't.

My name is Amy, and I'm a salsaholic.

Naturally, I have been experimenting with salsa recipes for many years. I've added everything from vinegar and lemon juice to red pepper flakes and coriander, just to see if I could find that extra little oomph. But now I have a recipe that I absolutely adore--and that, my friends, is because I add lime!

Over the years, I have realized that salsa is a very personal thing, and that many people enjoy very different things when it comes to salsa. I like mine spicy, chunky, and full of cilantro. On the other hand, my mother prefers salsa that's mild and smooth--and that's ok too. I heartily encourage you to play around with this recipe. More than anything, this is just an example of the proportions you can use. But in actuality, the sky's the limit! Have fun with it!

Amy's Favorite Salsa (yields 4 cups)
*Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*

1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, with juice
2 cans of Rotel tomatoes
1/3 cup diced onion
1 clove of garlic (or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/3 cup of chopped cilantro

In a blender or a food processor, combine all of the ingredients. Pulse a few times on low for a chunky salsa, or puree for a smoother consistency. Chill for at least an hour to let the flavors get cozy with each other. Serve and enjoy your addiction.

Ahh, a bowl full of love. If your mother asks you to make it when you come home from school, you know you've done something right.

Peas and love,

Recipe by Miranda: Sweet Corncake with Strawberries

A few months ago, the "three peas" and a friend of ours competed in an "Iron Chef" competition on our campus. We had all watched the show many a time, and we wanted to give it a shot ourselves... So, we recruited a chairman, a camera guy, three food critics, and some friends to come enjoy all the food.
Our chairman chose corn to be our secret ingredient, so we had to concoct an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert using corn. Now a dessert with corn....ehh? We weren't sure what to do. But then, I remembered my mom's corncake recipe, which is one of my favorite things she makes--and she is quite a little chef! So, we decided to make the corncake and add strawberries on top of it for a sweet, surprising twist.
It was a hit!
The corncake is wonderful alone! You can pair it with something savory--a Mexican dish, chili, etc. But, the strawberries give it a sweet flair, which is also fun to try!

So, here's how to make this sweet treat:
Now, first of all, I need to say that my style of cooking is not exact. I really like to "eye-ball" measurements. Instead of following recipies, I usually like to take a recipe and tweak it or make up something on my own. Naturally, these attempts do not always end in glory--sometimes they end in great failure...but that is the fun of it for me! So, here is the recipe, but play around with it a little bit to fit your taste buds....

Sweetened Corncake with Strawberries (about 10-12 servings)
*Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*

2 small boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix
2 eggs
2/3 cup of milk
1/4 cup of sour cream (you can add a bit more for an extra creamy cake)
1 can creamed corn
2-3 tbs of sugar (depending on how sweet you like it...i think it's better when it's sweeter)

Mix it all up in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, then bake it in a greased 9x13 pan for about 20 minutes. Edges should be golden brown, but be careful not to over-bake. When it's done, it should still be soft in the middle.

It's creamy. It's sweet. It's really quite delightful.

Now, for the strawberries...

Simply slice the strawberries and put them in a bowl. Liberally dust them with sugar, and mix it up. Let the strawberries and sugar marry together in the fridge for at least 45 minutes. More time in the fridge is better...the longer they're in the fridge, the more juice the strawberries will release, the more sweet strawberry sauce you will end up with.

Now, when the cake is cooled, dish it up and enjoy. Enjoy it with the strawberries. Enjoy it without the strawberries. Maybe, you can even think of some other fruit, veggie, etc. to try with the cake?

Hope you all try this recipe, play with it, and enjoy this corncake as much as I do!

Peace and Joy,


Friday, February 12, 2010

No new food, but thoughts by Caitlin

So, recently I have started really keeping track of what I eat - just as an experiment to see what all I put in my body. I have been diligently documenting the things that I eat and looking at the breakdown of all the foods. Why? - you ask? Well, for one it is one of my new years resolutions to be more aware of what I am eating. Two - I wanted to see what my caloric in take would be as a college student who doesn't eat many of her meals off campus.

On our campus, we have a Blue Coast Burrito, a Chick-fil-a, a Pizza Hut, some sort of off-brand Sub Shop, and our Cafeteria. Oh, and of course, a Starbucks. On any given day, students here will consume Starbucks and AT LEAST one of those other restaurants. While that doesn't seem so bad in theory, imagine when you lived at home and only had something like those places once a week. Doesn't seem unreasonable. However, living in a college campus means that pretty much all we eat is in the form fast food.

Now, you could say, why not just buy all your food at the store and prepare it in your dorm room? Well, problem #1: We have to buy a meal plan if we live on campus. This means we shell out upwards of $1000 of already bought food each semester. So, it would be ridiculous for us not to spend that when our parents have already paid for it. Problem #2: As a college student, I don't have a ton of extra money to spend on full groceries every week in addition to having a meal plan. Problem #3: We have no way to prepare meals in the dorms other than the small, under-equipped, and usually occupied dorm kitchen. We can't have anything other than a microwave, coffee pot, and blender in our room.

So, this all leads to eating many meals on campus. We can make a concerted effort to attempt healthy choices in these venues, but even then there is still a level of unhealthiness present in the best meals.

Going back to the food tracker idea, I kept track of what I would eat in a normal day on campus. Based on a normal 2000 calorie diet - any normal college student would blow through those in a heartbeat. So to prempt that, I have started working out 3 times a week at a gym and doing yoga on the others. With the added exercise and healthy choices - it is still very difficult to maintain a healthy level of caloric intake in a day. It is no wonder so many college student gain weight when they head to school, it feels like we are set up to live unhealthier life styles.

I didn't mean for this to be a rant on college food, but rather a look into what I have been eating. This is my Junior year, so I can only imagine HOW much of this stuff I have eaten regularly. I know I have gained weight since I have been at college. Now it is time to get rid of it. I am increasing my awareness, choosing healthier options and hoping my exercising pays off. I'll let you know how it goes.

Grace and Peace,

PS. Keep your eye out on Sunday for a new cupcake recipe from me. I have one brewing...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ruminations by Amy: Making Lemons Out of Lemonade...Sorta

Remember when I lamented over my uneven cake? And remember when I said it would come back to haunt me? And remember when we at Three Peas told you we weren't experts? Well, my friend, now you will be able to revel in all of these things as I tell you my story.

So I have a dear friend whose name is Mrs. Kenna. She is an admirable woman who pours love and warmth into the hearts of everyone she meets. Monday happened to be Mrs. Kenna's birthday, and she is definitely the kind of person who deserves a surprise party. And so, my friends and I decided to give her one.

I happen to know that one of Kenna's biggest temptations is chocolate, so I knew that the chocolate-on-chocolate cake combination would be, in her terms, "killer." I also knew that the butter in the frosting would make her absolutely swoon, so of course I had to make the cake for her. Unfortunately, when I took the cake out of the oven, it was a little uneven. I frosted the cake and thought to myself that Mrs. Kenna wouldn't mind how the cake looked; she would still eat it and tell me she loved me, and I might be able to save a bit of my pride. I let the frosting harden on the cake for about 6 hours when I decided that it would be ok for me to put the lid on top of the cake pan. Oh, but I was wrong. So very wrong.

The next morning, I discovered that not only had the frosting run off the top of the cake and congealed on the corners, but the cake itself had MIRACULOUSLY RISEN and stuck to the top of the cake lid!!!! It was the kind of gross, "I'm-going-to-pull-the-entire-top-of-the-cake-off-and-it's-going-to-look-terrible" stuck.

And unfortunately, I discovered this fifteen minutes before the party.

I put the cake down, ran to get Mrs. Kenna, and decided to say a little prayer for inspiration.

Luckily, we ended up surprising Mrs. Kenna so well that she jumped out of her skin when we finally lured her to her party! While Kenna was getting showered with love, I retreated into the corner to figure out how on earth I could salvage the cake. I carefully pulled off the lid, but it was no use--I had ripped off a nice chunk off the top of the cake.

This...was devastating. Then God saved me.

It was then that I looked at the tombstone candle I had bought, and looked back at the cake. Somehow, I noticed that the ruined area resembled...a fresh burial plot (I know...I know). And so I would make a kind of mock momento mori birthday cake.

I need help. I know.

But I know Kenna very well, and I knew that her sense of humor could handle such a cake. And she LOVED it!

Trust me. I know this is heinous.

Mrs. Kenna, thank you for still being my friend even though I present you with such a heinous token of love on your special day. I am seeking help very soon; I promise.

I cannot help but laugh every time I look at this picture. We told you we weren't experts...but I think it's definitely more humorous that way.

Peace and love,

P.S. Kenna now keeps the candle on her desk at work. I now feel justified in my failures.

P. P. S. The pink star candles add a little something extra, I think.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Recipe by Amy: Quick-Fix Chocolate Cake with Easy Fudge Frosting

One of the best discoveries of humankind would have to be chocolate. Let's just stop for a second and think about it.


Right about now, you probably have a goofy grin on your face (unless you're one of the unfortunate people who don't like chocolate. If so, I'm sorry. You're really missing out.). You're probably daydreaming about the last time that euphoric sense of awesome enveloped your entire being as the bite melted in your mouth. Well...maybe I have something wrong with me. But I blame that on my mother; she is a veritable chocoholic.

I'm sorry, Mom. I still love you.

It just so happens that chocolate is one of the most universally liked foods in our society. And if you're like me, there are days when nothing but chocolate will do. And sometimes, there is (*gasp*) NO CHOCOLATE TO BE FOUND IN THE HOUSE! On those days, I am seriously bummed when all I can find is in my cabinet is a tin of cocoa powder.

But fear not, my friends. There are quick solutions to such problems, and they are sitting right in your pantry! It's quick and easy, and you won't be sacrificing any flavor--or money. Come on. I will show you.

Quick-Fix Chocolate Cake with Easy Fudge Frosting (serves 12)
*Click here for a printer-friendly version of this recipe*

Here are my partners in crime:

I'm using canola oil, a box cake mix (they are cheap and good for the quick fix), eggs, powdered sugar, butter, cocoa powder, and vanilla.

First, make the cake according to the box's instructions. For some of you, making cakes is yesterday's news. However, I'm still going to walk us all through the process.

P.S. For those keeping score, these boxes are about $1.25, depending on where you shop. However, there will be homemade batters later in the blog. I promise.

Today is all about the quick fix!

This is a WONDERFUL bottle of Honduran vanilla given to me by my dear friend Lauren Bickel. Fun fact: you can pick up a bottle of this stuff at your local Latin foods market for around $5. It's really STRONG, so I'd adjust your recipes accordingly. I usually add about half of the amount the recipe calls for. Plus, I love the smell. Thank you, Lauren Bickel. Let's be friends for a long time.

Alright, you guys--I gotta keep it real. This is my mixer, brought to you by Wal-Mart for $15. It's not fancy, but she does the job admirably well. You're going to need one of these for the cake and the frosting.

By the way, if you just happen to want to buy me a beautiful KitchenAid stand mixer, I will be your best friend forever.

But I digress.

Dump all of the ingredients into a pretty bowl that will match the pretty yolks. The rest of the contents will be pretty as well, and you'll just have a pretty picture altogether. I can feel the hunger pangs already coming on with this one picture. Uh huh.

But then you'll beat the batter for two minutes, and it'll look much better. I promise.

In fact, your batter will look so good that you will look at your beater and contemplate consuming said batter on said beater while your can of off-brand diet coke looks on with curiosity.

And you will consume the batter. And you will feel so much better about life.

And then, you will pour your batter into a greased pan(s) of your choice. Don't you remember that you greased the pan? You don't? Well, you did. And you know what else you did? You preheated your oven too. You're really on the ball today!

Pour your batter into your greased pan (don't forget to smooth it out!) and place it into your preheated oven. Bake according to the package directions; a 13x9 (inch) pan is about 30 minutes.

While your cake is baking, you should utilize your time and distract your cravings by making frosting. Now people have very diverse opinions about frosting: some prefer none, others ( think the more, the merrier. Let me just tell you now--this is a wonderfully rich icing inspired by my Granny. She makes the BEST chocolate sheet cake in the WORLD (no really, she does). She mixes pecans in her frosting, and every time she makes it, I cannot stop eating it. I'm making this cake for a crowd, so to be on the safe side, I opted against the pecans. However, you feel free to toss them in there.

Let's get started.

Gently pour 5 tablespoons of cocoa powder in your bowl.

The milk! I forgot to put milk in my ingredients photo. You're going to need this because...

You're going to add 5 tablespoons of milk in with the cocoa powder.

And then you're going to add one stick of glorious melted butter.

And then you mix the ingredients. I used a fork, but I think you'd get better results with a whisk. My mother is going to kill me because she got me a BEAUTIFUL set of whisks for Christmas.

Thanks, Mom. I promise I'll remember to use them from now on.

Then stick that mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil while you make great shadow puppets in an attempt to take a photo. Don't cook it--just bring to a boil while stirring every so often, and take it off the heat.

That's right--you are now looking at the finished product. "But Amy--WHERE ARE THE REST OF THE STEPS?!?" Well friends, I am sorry. I have failed you. I did not get any pictures of the process after I took the chocolate mixture off of the stove. But never fear: I shall tell you what to do.

Dump the mixture into a bowl. Pour in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Gradually pour in your powdered sugar cup-by-cup. Eventually, I added about 4 cups. My Granny didn't even use cups--she just gradually worked in a whole box of powdered sugar. But the beauty of this frosting is that you can make it as thick or thin as you want--all you have to do is adjust the amount of powdered sugar! So no worries, my friends. It shall be a lovely frosting indeed.

Great news: the cake is done! You can tell by sticking a clean toothpick into the center and pulling it out. If it's free of batter, then it's done! But by looking at this cake, you can already tell that my cake is not even--I didn't smooth out my batter very well. This will prove to haunt me later. Details to come.

Frost your cake while it's still warm. I didn't do a very good job frosting, but hey--why do you care? You're in a quick-fix, remember? You're just ready to consume it!

Sometimes you might want to share your quick-fix cakes--such was the case with this particular cake. It might behoove you to have fun candles like this on hand just in case you have a great friend with an even greater sense of humor. This candle would actually help save my day--nay, an entire party. Details to come on this; it's quite a hilarious story.

But meanwhile, you have the leftover frosting to eat. And your day just got a thousand times better.

I hope this cake (or even just the frosting) brings you much joy and rapture. Here is the classic recipe breakdown:

Quick-Fix Chocolate Cake with Easy Chocolate Frosting

For Cake:
1 box of chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup water

For Frosting:
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
5 tablespoons milk
1 stick melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 box of powdered sugar (adjust for thickness)
1/2 cup of crushed pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven according to the package directions on the mix box and grease your pan (s). Pour all of the cake ingredients in a bowl and beat for 30 seconds on low, then 2 minutes on high. Pour the batter into the greased pan(s), and place into the oven for the allotted cooking time (my 13x9 pan was in for 30 minutes). Place the baked cake on a counter to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. Pour the cocoa, milk, and butter into a bowl. Mix the ingredients until thoroughly incorporated. Pour mixture into a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once the mixture reaches a boil, take it off the heat. Pour the mixture into a mixing bowl, and add vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat until ingredients are well incorporated and have reached your desired thickness. Add more powdered sugar for a thicker consistency, add less for a thinner consistency. If adding pecans, stir them in now.

Frost the cake while it is still warm, and enjoy thoroughly.

Peace (Peas?) and love,

Monday, February 8, 2010

And So It Begins...

There once were three girls. These three girls lived next door to each other in their dorm at school. These three girls loved food - all things about food. So, they wanted to share their love and joy with the world. This is the beginning:

There was Amy, the wicked smart girl from Jackson, TN, who we suspect might have a PhD. in Chemistry from MIT because she is able to adapt, change, and create any recipe she wants without any negative consequences (Amy says, "Yeah right!"). Then there is Miranda, the funny girl from Grand Blanc, Michigan, who has a surprising talent of being an excellent hair stylist. She also has an insane talent for drawing (ie: our logo which will soon be up there at the top). And then there is Caitlin, the quirky hippie girl who has recently discovered an intense love of cupcakes, art history, and all things eco-friendly - she is the resident baker.

Now, how did these three girls wind up on here, in the blogsphere? Well, let me tell you. Caitlin was summoned to Miranda and Amy's room where this idea was put into play. "Let's start a food blog!" This was, of course, after the idea was proposed that we befriend a kind old lady who, upon her passing, would leave us her catering business. Caitlin did not find that idea especially promising, so the blogging idea won. And as it was spoken, so it shall be. So, here it is.

This is going to be a chronicle of eating, cooking, and living in our collegiate life. We don't really have a kitchen, so everything we make is either made at home or with very basic appliances. And, let's be honest, we don't have any money either. So this is all on a budget. However, we truly believe that we can make great food without an outpouring of money and tools. We plan on putting up recipes as we make them. We hope to have some awesome pictures as well to showcase our wonderful creations or to incriminate the fail-tastic experiments.

We certainly don't claim to be experts. We don't really claim to be anything other than three friends in college who have a love of food and each other. This is meant to be a place of joy and sharing and community. So, welcome to the product of our friendship.

Peace and Love,
Three Peas in a Kitchen