Friday, November 17, 2017

Cake, I Love You (and Giveaway)

I have a recipe and a book to giveaway just in time for the entertaining season. "Cake, I Love You" by Jill O'Connor is a resource for decadent, delectable and do-able recipes. This book pretty much sums up my love affair with cake as I have a sweet tooth that I inherited from my mother and grandmother. I was offered this book to review, and I must say that the recipes in this book are all I would ever need for special celebrations and easy desserts for weeknights. One recipe that caught my eye is the Luscious Lemon Lake. This will be perfect for my upcoming gals get togethers.

Luscious Lemon Loaf
Lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon oil combine to give this simple cake real zing. Don’t be tempted to skip the lemon oil, as it adds a wonderful fragrance and intense lemon flavor that lemon extract can’t match.  Cold pressed from the zest of oranges, limes, or lemons, citrus oils are concentrated and fragile. They must be refrigerated once the bottle is open, but even then they don’t last forever.
Serves 6 to 8

1-1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
2 large lemons
½ cup (120g) sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1-1/4 teaspoon lemon oil
1-1/2 cups (245 g) all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup (110g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil
3 eggs, room temperature
Lemon Icing:
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon lemon oil
½ to 2 cups (180g to 240g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325º. Coat a 9-by-5-inch metal loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the pan with an 8-1/2-inch-by 15-inch strip of parchment paper so it covers the bottom of the pan and hangs over the long sides.
Put the sugar in a small bowl. Using a microplane zester, grate the zest from the lemons into the sugar. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips until the sugar is sandy and moist and fragrant with lemon. Set aside.
Cut the lemons in half. Using a citrus reamer, squeeze the juice from the lemons into another small bowl.
In a third small bowl, whisk together ¼ cup of the fresh lemon juice, (you should have about 2 tablespoons remaining; set aside for the icing.) the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon oil. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and oil together on medium speed just until creamy. Add the lemon sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as you go. Decrease the mixer speed to low and beat in the sour cream mixture. Add the dry ingredients in two additions, beating on low for a few seconds after each.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes (do not check the cake until it has been in the oven for at least 40 minutes, as it might sink in the middle.) The cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the loaf, still in the pan, to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Grasping the overhanging parchment, lift the loaf out of the pan and set it on the rack. Cool completely.
To make the icing, whisk the butter, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and lemon oil with the confectioners’ sugar until smooth and creamy. Spread or drizzle the icing over the cooled cake.

For a chance to win a copy of CAKE, I LOVE YOU, leave a comment sharing your favorite cake or I'd love to know if you have a favorite pedestal to serve your cake on.

Thank you to Jill O’Connor and Chronicle Books/May 2017 for this beautiful book to share with my readers.

A winner will be chosen on November 30th.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

National Bundt Day at Mountain Breaths

Hello friends, 
It's the annual bundt day post, and this year it's a rich and chocolaty bundt cake from Susan Branch, served with whipped cream. Ice cream or plain is also good. How many bundt pans have you collected over the years? 

You may want to pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee at this point. Ha!

I used the Bavarian bundt cake pan from Nordicware, and the cake stuck. Each time I have used it (three times) the cake has stuck. I don't have that issue with other bundt cake pans. Joe never complains. Oops, he said he is never washing that pan again. So, I decided it was time to write to Nordicware and ask for their assistance. This was their nice reply.

Hi Deb, 
The Good news is I think we can get your Pan to function perfectly  😊
The Bavaria is my personal favorite pan !

It sounds as though there may be a residue on your pan - It may be pretty much invisible.
Cooking spray (such as PAM) is the most common cause.
You will need to remove this. Fortunately it will come off and the pan will perform all over again :)

Liquid Dish Soaps will not remove the residue.

Here are the specifically recommended products
Erasing Dish Foam (Foam)
Power Dissolver (Spray)

Erasing Dish Foam - Generally found at your local grocery store
Apply the foam directly to the pan and let stand for 10 - 15 min.
Scrub thoroughly with a plastic bristled brush.

Cooking spray is the most common cause.
If you are using a pound cake recipe repeatedly you may also experience some sticking as they have a higher sugar content.
Over time an invisible residue can build up and start causing the cakes to stick.
The " Power Dissolver " " Erasing Dish Foam " will correct this also.

I am attaching a nice Helpful Hints and Use & Care for you.
Take a look it will help you make the Perfect Bundt Cake every time.

Please note the greasing recommendations ("BAKING" spray) and cooling instructions (10 min only)
These are the most common causes of sticking and cleaning difficulties.

Bundt pans are known for their release and ease of cleaning.

If you are still unable to get the pan to perform successfully please let us know.

Each year I enjoy looking back at previous bundt cakes

Well Happy Bundt Day all! A dear friend gifted me with these plaid items a few years ago, and I display them in Joe's lodge room when I'm not using them for bundt cake.  Here's the bundt cake recipe if you'd like to try it. 

I have one more bundt cake on my list for this year which I will bake in a gingerbread house cake pan.

Happy National Bundt Day! 


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Vietri and the SweetBriar Collection

When MacKenzie-Childs announced they will be coming out with the SweetBriar Collection in 2018, as soon as I saw it, it reminded me of my Vietri Collection. Joe is referred to as the "Vietri Man" at the local gift shop where he buys gifts. 

These photos of our Vietri Italian dinnerware are from Valentine's Day a few years ago.  The dinnerware is called "Incanto", and we have five different patterns that we mix and match, and like the casual yet elegant look.

This pattern is called "Lace". The footed bowls are called "Stripe".
This pattern is called "Emblem".
This pattern is called "Flower".
I'll have to see if the MacKenzie-Childs SweetBriar collection matches the Vietri. I may add a few pieces if that's the case. 

Over the weekend I posted about our trip to NYC with the Traveling Totes to NYC. Seven bloggers and five hubbies. Two bloggers in our group couldn't make it this time.  Since our common interest is MacKenzie-Childs, I couldn't resist taking pictures at the NYC store and drooled over their seasonal displays. 

xo, Debbie

Saturday, October 28, 2017

New York, New York...So Nice They Named It Twice

If you are here for the first time, welcome to Mountain Breaths!  This was one of those weekends I will remember forever. When I started this little blogging journey, I had no idea what it would lead to. Over the weekend, I travelled to New York City via Amtrak with Joe to meet a group of talented bloggers that are members of the Tales of the Traveling Totes. My hubby was born and raised in NYC and is happy to visit anytime. We always take the train so we can relax for the four+ hour trip. I managed to get a decent photo of the Hudson River through the window. 
On Saturday, our group of seven bloggers met for brunch at The Russian Tea Room located at 150 West 57th Street (between 6th and 7th Ave) in New York City. 
Seated from left to right are:

Linda Life and Linda Life and Linda
(Me) at Mountain Breaths
Emily @ The French Hutch

Jenna @ The Painted Apron and Rita @ Panoply
were definitely with us in spirit.
And our special birthday girl Linda @ More Fun Less Laundry.

The Russian Tea Room web site states:
 "For over eighty years, New York’s defining cultural moments have taken place at Russian Tea Room. Ever since members of the Russian Imperial Ballet founded the restaurant in 1927, it has been a second home for boldface names and the intellectual elite—an exclusive enclave where actors, writers, politicians, and businessmen planned their next deals and feted their friends’ latest Carnegie Hall performances. The lively tradition and legacy of the Russian Tea Room is alive and well!"

We were invited to the upper floor of the restaurant where we were rewarded with the 9-foot-tall acrylic bear-shaped aquarium in the bear lounge. Of course we felt the bear would look even more handsome surrounded by our totes. 
The 15-foot-tall Egg Tree, hung with 35 Fabergé-inspired, hand-blown Murano glass eggs created by a Venetian glassblower, also in the Bear Lounge.
I wonder if the Russian Tea Room will remember us and our tote bags? Ha! 
Our next stop was MacKenzie-Childs where we were warmly welcomed. We notified them in advance that we would be visiting, and they let us "party" on their mezzanine where we enjoyed cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery, champagne, wine and some delicious brownies that Patti from "Pandora's Box" brought from a bakery in central New York. 

In the evening, we had an enjoyable al fresco dinner with Joe's family who lives in NYC. I can't wait to see them again when we go for the week after Christmas. 
Until next time,

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It's Pumpkin Time Again

I almost forgot to do a pumpkin post this year. I've been away and it just dawned on me yesterday that Halloween is next week! I put a few of mom's pumpkins out last week, but then we had a very windy day and they blew across the front lawn so I brought them in until Halloween. 

Our lil pumpkin Xavier went to the Pumpkin Junction and enjoyed the cornstalks more than the pumpkins :-)

Each year I show you mom's pumpkins..she was the master :-)
"When you do it with heart, that's art!"

  If you've been following my blog for a while, you may recall that Mom loved carving pumpkins and she carved at least 125 pumpkins over a ten year period. I previously did a post on her pumpkins explaining that Mom used the "carvable" foam pumpkins and Pumpkin Masters patterns. After she finished carving the pumpkin, she traced around a quarter coin on the bottom back of the pumpkin and cut a hole for the light. The trick or treaters and neighbors looked forward to the display each year. Our local TV station also featured them. After mom passed away, we distributed the pumpkins to family members. Our "pumpkin lady" left us with wonderful pumpkin memories, and Halloween will always be a fun time for our family.  
Thanks for stopping by!


Appetizers (2) Birthday Week (2) Blog Anniversary (2) Bread (2) Breakfast (4) Breakfast; MacKenzie-Childs (2) Breville Pie Maker (3) Cannoli (3) Chicken (2) Chicken Riggies; Foodie Friday (1) CHRISTMAS 2011 (4) Come To The Table (4) Cookies (2) Dessert (9) Dinner Parties (3) Easter 2012 (2) Events (3) Fairy Garden (2) Favorites on the First (2) Filled Strawberries (3) Flashback Friday (6) Foodie Friday (20) Garden 2009 (3) Gingerbread Pumpkin Bars (3) Halloween (2) Kentucky Derby; Run for the Roses Pie (1) Key West (4) Kick-Off To Summer BBQ (2) Lake Life (2) Lemon (3) Lemon Berry Cake with Mascarpone Filling (2) Let's Dish (13) Let's Dish; Tablescape Thursday (2) MacKenzie-Childs (33) MacKenzie-Childs; Traveling Tote (4) Magazine recipes (2) MAGNOLIA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING (2) Martha's Vineyard (3) McKenzie-Childs (2) Miss Aurora; (1) Monday Mosaic (5) Monday Mosaic; Seasonal Sundays (3) Mother's Day 2012 (3) Mystery Ingredient; Halloween 2013 (2) National Bundt Day (3) Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan (2) Outdoor Wednesdays (2) OWLS (2) Pasta (2) PEONIES (4) Philadelphia Garden Show 2009 (10) Pier One (2) Pork (2) PUMPKIN PIE FUDGE (3) Rhubarb (2) Salads (2) Seafood (3) Seasonal Sundays (9) Showy Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium reginae) (2) Soup (4) Spider Web Pizza (1) St. Patrick's Day (4) Summer 2013 (2) Summer Dessert (4) Sunday Favorites (3) Sycamore Hill Gardens (2) Table For Two (2) Tablescape Thursday (18) Tablescape Thursday; MacKenzie-Childs (2) Thanksgiving (5) Tips and Tidbits; (2) Tybee Island; Georgia; Savannah; (2) Utica Greens; Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook; Escarole (1) Valentine (2) Valentine's Day (2) Vietri (4) Weekends (6) World Famous Paradise Bakery Sugar Cookies with Magnolia Bakery Buttercream Frosting (2) Zucchini Bread (2)