Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Vacation starts and a tradition continues...

As nontraditional as I am there are certain traditions that I will not stray from. The one that I have been doing probably the longest is always a margarita the minute my vacation starts. It all goes back to my first vacation alone. My BFF Joann and I went to San Diego for two straight weeks, I was 19 (shhhh, don't tell anyone) and I remember the best fresh fruit margarita served on the rocks with a salty rim. And that's how it started.

Traditionally, I would clock out and belly up to the nearest watering hole and order "my vacation starts now" Top shelf Margarita on the Rocks with a Salt Rim. But had to rush home to relieve the babysitter, so I opted for things I had on hand at home. While working I kept thinking of this juicy Ruby Red Grapefruit that was waiting for me to cut into and the rest is history. 

See you all next week, leaving the snow and cold of Colorado to hit the sun and surf of Florida! 

What are some of your traditions?

Ruby Red Grapefruit Margarita

makes 1 

1/2 of fresh Grapefruit 
1/2 of fresh Lime
2 oz. Tequila
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
1 1/2 teaspoons Agave Nectar
Squeeze citrus fruits in cocktail shaker, add remaining ingredients and a handful of ice and shake real good! Strain into salt rimmed martini glass and enjoy.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Valentine's Day Vase Repurpose...

I'm really excited about Valentine's Day approaching and have been making a slew of Red, White, and Pink crafts for the apartment. Not that its going to be romantic in any way for me, my love life is nonexistent and I should be at home watching slasher movies and drinking heavily. But I will be at work waiting on those that actually go out on the Day of Love, with a somewhat genuine smile on my face.

I get excited to share these days with Liam and teach him what the meaning is all about. One year he and I went on something I called the cupid run, we went and surprised all of my girlfriends at their jobs with chocolate's, roses, and balloons. It was really exciting to see the reaction on their faces! It was a great way of saying "I LOVE YOU" to all the girls that help me with my kiddo.

I bought these cute little vases at the dollar store with redoing them in mind. I had red and white yarn laying around from the wreath I just made. So I wrapped them twice and then once in the opposite color.

I love how they turned out and excited to share them with you. Hopefully you are getting an opportunity to make something cute for someone special. Homemade is always the best!

Thinking some mini carnations will go perfect in these cute little guys!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Greek Yogurt Cheesecake and slowing down...

I will be the first to admit my last post was a little rushed when written, I was realizing that when typing it up. So I will make an effort to slow down and make a little  a lot more sense. Sometimes I get overzealous and think that I can do everything; raising a son on my own, working two sometimes three jobs, have a social life, and this blog too...just to name a few parts of my crazy life.  I just need to put it all in order.

 I came across this recipe via Bon Appetit and adapted it a little to suit my own tastes and ingredients in my kitchen. While most baking and pastry you need to follow the recipe exactly, you can adjust with a little patience and skill. Most of the recipes I find on Pinterest and magazines have to be adjusted to altitude, not a fun task when all your baking experience and education came from sea level. 

I love this recipe because its a no bake cheesecake, all mixed together in the food processor, easy peezy! The custard is so light and creamy, the crust is nice and crispy with a really nice graham cracker taste. I'm thinking these would be wonderful in a miniature size for a dessert table at your next party!

1 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
3 Tablespoons Butter, melted
3 Tablespoons Sugar
small pinch salt

Mix all ingredients and press firmly into a spring form pan and bake in 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. 
Let cool.

Custard Filling:

1 Package Knox Powdered Gelatin
1 Pound Cream Cheese, room temperature
2 Cups Greek Yogurt, preferably Fage
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1 teaspoon Orange Extract 
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

In a heatproof bowl place 2 Tablespoons cold water and sprinkle gelatin on top, this is called "blooming".
Place remaining ingredients in a food processor and mix well, scraping down the bowl and blade.
Once gelatin is "bloomed" microwave for 10 second intervals, slowly melting gelatin. Should take about 20 seconds total, depending on microwave.
Add gelatin while food processor is running and custard is free of lumps.
Pour into prepared graham cracker crust and chill for 6 hours or overnight. 

To remove from pan, use a hot paring knife around cake, release spring, and transfer to a plate.

Garnish with fresh berries that have been sweetened up. 


Friday, January 18, 2013

Meeting my goal and some triple berry sweet rolls...

When I first started this blog on Monday my goal was to post at least twice a week. While I am finishing up at the last hour, I'm pleased to have met my goal. I can say that I work well under pressure. All while making these delicious triple berry sweet rolls, I have finished three loads of laundry as well  finished a yarn wreath order as well. Procrastination could be my middle name.

I was once asked what my first food memory was, and it took no thinking time at all. Most of my food memories come from my grandmother's house, Mommo. She had raspberry bushes, a cherry tree, apple trees, pear trees, and rhubarb to name a few things. We used to go to her house everyday in the summer and go swimming, I remember jumping out of the pool and grabbing handfuls of raspberries right off the bushes.

Lots of people I know are intimidated by yeast and making homemade bread, but this recipe is very easy to work with and adaptable with many different fillings. I chose the triple berry cause I had some in the freezer left over from summer. Its like a little taste of summer on this 50 Degree day in January, gotta love Colorado! <3

Triple Berry Sweet Rolls

1 Cup Milk
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Yeast
1 stick Unsalted Plugra, at room temperature 
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour

12 ounce frozen Berries
1/3 Cup Sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 pound Cream Cheese, room temperature
1 Stick Butter, room temperature
pinch of Sea Salt
3 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 Cup Honey

Warm milk and pour over yeast and sugar, in mixing bowl fitted with the dough hook. Let rest for 10-15 minutes until foamy. Add eggs, butter, flour, and salt. Never let salt touch yeast, instant death for your yeast. Start mixer on slow until combined and then high for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a well flour surface and knead by hand for another 4-5 minutes. Place in a well greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel until double in size, about 2 hours.

Once risen, roll into rectangle shape of 14 inches by 24 inches.

Toss berries with sugar and cover dough. 

Roll up into a log and cut into 14-16 pieces. Place in a parchment lined baking dish and let rise for another 2 hours, until doubled in size. 

Bake in a preheated 350 Degree oven, for 16-20 minutes rotating half way through baking.

Meanwhile make Cream Cheese frosting by mixing together the butter and cream cheese with the pinch of salt. Once combined, sift powdered sugar over the cheese mixture and combine. Once the sugar is all combined, add honey.

Let sweet rolls cool and frost with the fluffy goodness that is cream cheese frosting.

I hope you give these a try, they really are heaven!!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

A birthday celebration and cupcake clearance...

Tomorrow they are celebrating Liam's birthday at school, he will be 4 years old. I can't believe how fast the time has gone, one day he was a little baby and today he's this big boy, but he will always be my little baby! I was given permission by his teachers Mrs. Felicia and Ms. Lara to make the cupcakes and both Liam and I were very excited. Liam requested chocolate cake and I used one of my favorite recipes and a perfect vanilla buttercream to go with it.

The best advice I can give anyone baking either home baker or professional is to always read through the entire recipe before starting, use high quality ingredients, scale all ingredients, and start with room temperature butter and eggs. I pull mine out the night before baking.

This cake and buttercream recipe is one of my all time favorites. We used both at a place I worked at in Chicago, very classic and oh so delicious. The star ingredient here is the cocoa powder...now is not the time to cheap out here, I use Cocoa Barry some of the best!

Start by sifting all dry ingredients together and set aside. Next melt the butter with the water, paying attention to not boil it, you're just melting the butter. In a separate bowl, mix eggs with the buttermilk.
Now combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together, being careful not to over mix. Once everything is combined let batter sit for at least 15 minutes to mature.

The buttercream can be a little tricky, but with a little patience and the right mindset you can pull it off easily. Once again start with room temperature butter and eggs, I cannot emphasize that enough.

Separate the whites from the yolk and add the cream of tarter and egg whites to the mixing bowl fitted with the whip attachment. On low speed slowly start to add 1/4 of the sugar to soft peak. In a small saucepan add water and the remaining sugar and cook to 248 Degrees Fahrenheit. This is the time to get the kids and pets out of the kitchen, put shoes on, and be ready for awesomeness.

There maybe times when the temperature stalls, but it will get to where it needs to be; just be patient and very careful. A burn from scorching hot sugar is not something you want, speaking from experience here. Once it reached temperature, slowly pour mixture down the side of mixing bowl with speed on low. After its all in crank that baby up to full blast and watch a beautiful meringue appear before your eyes. Mix on high until mixture fully cools. Now is the time to start adding butter and flavoring. You want to use high quality butter and vanilla here, I use Plugra unsalted butter. Mix until nice and fluffy. Once this is complete you will understand why I want to be buried in vat of vanilla buttercream, simply amazing!

Reaching for the stars...

Might have my head in the clouds with this one...
Hello and welcome to House of Ruby Jean. I am Jen, a single mom to wonderful 4 year old little boy named Liam. Professionally speaking I am a classically trained pastry chef, but have put my career on the back burner, as priority has taken over passion; a decision I struggled with for a long time.  This blog will be my outlet for all things delicious, beautiful, and homemade. I have been wanting to start this for some time and now is that time, I am excited to share with you some of my passions.