Tag Archives: baking

Williams-Sonoma “Star Wars” kitchen collection on sale!

I have been waiting for the chance to blog about the super-cool “Star Wars” Collection at Williams-Sonoma for a while now. But, every time I wanted to write about it, something came up, and then, when I heard that the entire collection of cookie cutters, pancake molds, sandwich molds, aprons and spatulas was on sale for 20% off through Sunday 01/23, well, I knew the time had come.

Released a little over a year ago, every piece in the “Star Wars” collection was personally approved by Mr. Lucas himself. And, from the looks of it, the dude likes to eat, so, I’m thinking he knows what he likes in his kitchen gear. And, hello, it’s made by Williams-Sonoma, so, you know this shit is gonna last forever.

We started our collection with the “Star Wars Heroes and Villains Pancake Molds”, and, though the  details on Darth Vader and the Stormtrooper’s masks run together a bit when they cook, as you can see from our pics, the Yoda head pancake looks freaking awesome on the plate.

We also have both sets of the cookie cutters — which work beautifully and look amazing either frosted or un-frosted — the Darth Vader spatula and the “Galactic Empire Cupcake Decorating Kit”, which is like, my childhood fantasy come to life. So cool! Where were you when I was ten, Williams-Sonoma?!

Anyway, whichever side you chose to align yourself with — as you can tell, we lean towards the dark side in this household — the “Star Wars” collection at Williams-Sonoma is a must for any true fan. To paraphrase Obi Wan: “These definitely are the kitchen gadgets you’re looking for! And they NEVER go on sale!” So, get shopping already!

Oh yeah, and make sure and pick up one of those handy Williams-Sonoma Pancake Pens too. They make pouring the batter into the molds easy as pie and they open at both ends, so, clean-up is a dream!

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Missing Martha Stewart…

While putting up our classically cool, white-on-white Martha Stewart Christmas tree this past weekend, Christine told me that she suddenly realized that she really missed being able to watch Stewart’s daytime show “Martha” on a daily basis. I think she said “profoundly missed”, but, I could be wrong.

Either way, there is a void in our lives this holiday season and it is all due to the fact that Martha Stewart moved her show to the freaking Hallmark Channel. Urgh! No offense, Hallmark Channel, many of your made-for-television movies look awesomely bad, but, come on, why you gotta bogart the Martha?

I mean, who even gets the Hallmark Channel?? I know we don’t and I don’t think very many other cable carriers down here do, so, who is watching “Martha” in our absence? Well, according to a recent LA Times article, no one. Stewart’s show is tanking in cable obscurity and it’s just not right!

So, for the love of all things good and baked and hand-made this holiday season, ditch the Hallmark Channel while you can and come on home to network television, Martha. The holidays are so not the same without you…

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Feliz Navidad, amigos!

If you’re anything like us, today is gonna be kinda crazy. Christine will be baking till she drops, Greta and the cats will continue terrorizing our Christmas tree and I will do my best to stamp and address the mountain of unsent Christmas cards on our kitchen table. I know, I know…kinda late in coming, but they will get to you before New Years, so, I say that still totally counts!

But while our cards will be late, our warm wishes for y’all are anything but. So, in the spirit of the season, please enjoy these pics of Greta’s first visit with Santa Claus. As you can see, they really hit it off…for like, ten seconds. Ah, well…there’s always next year. Happy holidays, amigos!

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Christine’s award-winning Gingerbread House Bundt Cake

OK, we have been waiting to blog about Christine’s award-winning bundt cake for a year. Literally! See, by the time we finished making it for Christine’s work Christmas party, it was already too late in the season to blog about it, so, we skipped it. Well, not this year!

Actually, there isn’t much to this thing…all you need is a Nordic Ware Bundt Pan, Gingerbread cake mix and all kinds of crazy candy for the outside. We bought our Bundt pan the year before at an after-Christmas sale at Sur La Table, and from what I can gather, our exact style is no longer available on most sites. But I did find a similar pan at Wal-Mart that would work just as well.

For the cake itself, we used Trader Joe’s Deep Dark Gingerbread Cake and Baking Mix, which is freaking delicious on its own, but even better in tiny Christmas house form. Yum!

As you can see in the second picture above, the cake comes out of the over kind of rounded on the bottom, so, we cut that part off and promptly ate it. Then, with the bottom of our Gingerbread house flattened, we placed it in the center back of our cake plate (gotta leave room for a big, snowy front yard, yo!) and got down to decorating the outside of our house.

Aside from the little jelly candies we used in the windows — which we found in the candy aisle at our local CVS — we stuck to pretty traditional candy decor: M&M’s, Red Vines, candy canes, and marshmallows.

The most expensive “building materials” we used were probably the Williams-Sonoma chocolate covered peppermint sticks (aka North Poles) we used for the fence. They weren’t cheap, but we only needed a few of them and since we had them in the house already, we used them.

The snowy ground cover in the yard was powered sugar mixed with water and, lemme tell ya, that stuff was hard to work with! You have to wait for it to kinda half-dry before anything will stick to it and if you wait too long, it gets too hard and you’re screwed. Trust me, this is where having two people working on the house came in very handy!

After plopping down a marshmallow snow woman in the front yard, we dusted the entire house with more powdered sugar and hurried off to the party where, lo-and-behold, we actually won a prize! Hooray!

But even cooler than the shiny award certificate or the $20 Target gift card that went with it, was the fact that the people at the party positively devoured our Gingerbread house. I’m not kidding, man. I saw a dude scraping the sugar snow off the plate…crazy!

I’m not saying everything we used wasn’t edible, because it totally was, but, wow, we never thought anyone would actually eat the whole thing. Yikes…guess the pickings on the buffet table were slim.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a quick, easy-to-make Gingerbread house this holiday season, Nordic Ware has the pan for you. Happy Baking, amigos!

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Halloween Cupcakes: 2008 Edition

Farmer’s Daughter Bean here. I know it’s been awhile…but it’s too hot to bake during the summers in LA, so I haven’t spent much time in the kitchen. But now, with the harvest season in full swing, I figured it was time to make some goodies, and since my husband likes to say that Halloween wouldn’t be complete without my cupcakes…cupcakes it was!

First, I looked up some tasty recipes in one of my favorite cookbooks, Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans and came upon the Spiced Pumpkin recipe. Once I saw the pictures inside, I knew that I had to try these out! The batter looked so good I was dying to try some, but in my current state, I wisely resisted the temptation.

Tomás and my sister-in-law Laura — who were playing “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” all night while I baked — said the batter on the beaters was “delish”, so, I kept baking. Trust me, it took a lot of willpower to wait for the final product with Cream Cheese Frosting and cinnamon frosting spiderwebs, but it was definitely worth the wait.

The cake was very light and had just the perfect amount of pumpkin spice. I did switch it up a bit by omitting the crystallized ginger from the recipe, partly because I didn’t have any on hand, but mostly because I just kind of needed immediate satisfaction at that point. But the cupcakes still tasted great.

The other cupcakes I made that night didn’t turn out as cute. For that batch I used the Butter Cupcake recipe and the Cream Cheese Frosting from Cupcakes! again. They were supposed to look like little pumpkins, but the Tootsie Roll stems didn’t really turn out as well as I had envisioned them.

They still tasted good though, but Tomás and Laura (and later Ryan!) raved about the pumpkin spice…so, I’ll definitely make those again.

For those of you who have never baked from scratch, you must try it. And with the holidays approaching, there is no better time to crack open your favorite cookbook and give it a whirl. It takes a little longer, but if you like to bake, the results are totally worth it. Just ask the nerdy gamers in my living room!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Almond Butter Cupcake Disaster

Hey again, Farmer’s Daughter Bean here with another “make” post. Only this time, what I ended up making was a bit of a disaster.

Earlier this week, Tom came up with the brilliant idea of making some “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” cupcakes. I would make the cupcakes, he would make tiny crystal skulls out of marzipan to put on top and we would have “Indy 4” cupcakes to enjoy while waiting in line to see the movie. It all sounded so fun…in theory. The reality was something much worse.

To start with, I have given up sugar and white flour, so I needed to come up with an alternative. Sounds easy, right? Plenty of people substitute agave nectar for sugar, so I picked some up at Trader Joe’s and got to work. I figured the white flour shouldn’t be too hard to replace either, so I used some oat bran and almond meal instead. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it?

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the cupcakes were supposed to be Peanut Butter? But since I’m not eating that either, I just switched it out for some tasty Trader Joe’s Almond Butter instead. So far, so good. Everything went smoothly and even Tom agreed that the batter tasted really good. Sorry I didn’t take pictures of the process, but I was too wrapped up in everything to even think about bringing a camera into the mix.

Coming out of the oven, they didn’t look half bad. I’ll admit the tops were a bit sunken in, but they still looked like cupcakes. So, I let them cool and decided to taste one before frosting them. They didn’t taste bad, but the spongy texture was kind of strange. Tom said they tasted like “hippie” and something tells me that was not a compliment.

To me, they had more of the texture of a bran muffin than a cupcake. In hindsight, I think oat bran is just way too course of a substitute for white flour. Sadly, instead of Peanut Butter Cupcakes, I ended up with “hippie” Almond Butter Muffins, and weird one’s at that.

I did make some frosting too but that was an even bigger disaster, so I won’t even get into that. Tom called it “chocolate soup” and even I had to admit that’s kind of what it looked like. It tasted great, but when you coupled it with my sunken cupcakes, it was not a pretty sight.

As you can probably imagine, Tom never did get around to making those crystal skulls either (sorry, Indy). As for me, I think I’ll skip the substitutions in my cupcake recipes and stick to dark chocolate and fruit when I’m craving something sweet. Or better yet, I’ll just make proper oat bran muffins next time out!

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