Friday, July 21, 2017

Peaches & Cream Prosecco Cake...Happy Blogversary!


Four years ago today I took the plunge and created Front Range Fork and Cork, where I have most definitely been "Cooking It Up In Colorado and Corking Life's Moments".  So much has happened in what has seemed to be a lightning fast four years.  New extended family babies, moves, loss of loved ones, weddings, "big" birthdays, start and graduation of high school, sports and academic achievements and milestones, illnesses, memorable trips, obstacles and struggles, and personal growth.  Only God knows what's in the future...but I'm ready for the journey.

Until then, here are some fun Blog facts (thanks to Google Stats) from the past four years...

This is post #305...there have been 28,471 page views by visitors.

The top 5 most viewed pages these past four years (click link of page if you're curious) are:

Volleyball Cookies and Lessons in Icing (2,148 views)
Champagne Margaritas (324 views)
Lemon-Blueberry Buckle (193 views)
Two Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins (143 views)
Hotel Chocolate Cupcakes and Volleyball Catering (124 views)

Now I'm no genius and don't have a PhD in Psychology, but it's quite apparent to me that by the looks of those stats, there are a lot of volleyball moms out there that like to drink adult libations and have a sweet tooth...just saying.  However, in their defense (as I am) one of those moms, if you have ever been to a weekend girls volleyball tournament, you would completely understand!  To those moms out there (and everyone else)...thanks for visiting and following!!


Here's to four more years of "Corking Life's Moments"...Cheers!


This cake is one that takes time, patience and love.  It is fancy and reminds me of one from a Ritz Carlton dessert menu.  This is not a cake to whip out for a five year old's birthday party...but rather one for a very special occasion, it is rich, light and decadent all at the same time.  Enjoy!

Peaches & Cream Prosecco Cake
Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens

Prosecco Cake
4 eggs
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2-1/4 cups sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 cup Prosecco or sparkling rose

Fresh Peach Filling
4 medium ripe peaches, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Prosecco or sparkling rose
2 Tbl sugar

Whipped Cream Frosting
3 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla

For cake:  Allow eggs to stand at room temperature 30 minutes.  Meanwhile grease and flour three 8-1/2" round baking pans.  In a bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt;  set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In an extra large bowl beat eggs with a mixer on high 5 minutes or until thickened and light.  Beat on medium an additional 5 minutes while gradually adding sugar, 1/4 cup at a time.  (Batter will be light and fluffy).  Beat in flour mixture on medium-low until just combined.

In a small saucepan heat and stir mile and butter until butter melts.  Add to batter, beating until combined; beat in almond extract.  Divide batter among prepared pans.

Bake 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean.  Transfer pans to a wire rack; cool 10 minutes.  Remove cakes from pans;  cool completely on wire racks over a shallow pan or tray.  Using a long-tine meat fork, poke cakes all over.  Slowly pour Prosecco over cakes.  Wrap in plastic wrap;  chill 2 to 24 hours.

For fresh peach filling; In a large bowl combine peaches, Prosecco, and sugar; stir well.  Let stand, covered, 30 minutes , stirring occasionally.  Using a potato masher or fork, mash into a coarse mixture.

For whipped cream frosting; In an extra large bowl beat heavy cream, sour cream, sugar and vanilla with mixer on medium until stiff peaks form; set aside.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate.  Spread with half of the fresh peach filling.  Top with second cake layer; spread with remaining peach filling.  Top with third cake layer.  Spread top and side with whipped cream frosting.

Garnish with fresh peach slices and fresh mint leaves.

*If you want to eliminate the Prosecco and step up the cake process time, you could have the same type of beautiful dessert by purchasing a store bought angel food cake, cut horizontally in thirds, add the peaches filling and frost as shown.

One Year Ago One Skillet Tuscan Chicken
Two Years Ago Lemon-Blackberry Olive Oil Cake
Three Years Ago Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada Bake
Four Years Ago For Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow









Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Raspberry Crumb Muffins and Redecorating Bug

Summer is half way over and with things finally settling down in our home, I have had "in the words of Styx"...(too much time on my hands), which is never a good thing.  My self-induced three month Pinterest rehab didn't go so well and I "went off the proverbial wagon", as they say.


I am back to finding new recipes and re-purposing/redecorating...I actually don't know which is more fun to take on. As we are preparing to go into the empty nest chapter of our lives, I am finding my self going into nesting mode and redoing different areas in the house with accessories I already have or that need to be relieved from our storage boxes...all with the intent of minimal fill in purchases.


I completely stripped the Family Room's fireplace wall and front porch entry.  I am seeing how much I can move around, re-purpose and change it up to go with our summer season.  Check back in a week to see the end results. 


In the meantime, I found these most unbelievable Raspberry Crumb Muffins.  Oh my Heaven are these delicious!  So easy and even with my altitude challenged baking, these came out more than perfect!  My first bite and they immediately took me back to one of my favorite places to vacation...Cambria, California.  Their famous restaurant Linn's Fruit Bin makes the most incredible, freshest muffins every day...(they even have an online store you have got to order and experience)!  If you're finding yourself one morning with a little free time, you must try these out...you won't be disappointed.

Raspberry Crumb Muffins
Courtesy of Creme De La Crumb

Muffins:
1-3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1-1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh raspberries

Topping:
1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
8 Tbl butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Make the crumb topping by stirring together flour, sugar and lemon zens.  Add melted butter and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In a larger bowl mix eggs, greek yogurt and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients to set ingredients and mix until incorporated (don't over mix).

Fill muffin liners 3/4 full with batter.  Top with raspberries (about 4-5 raspberries each to cover the batter( and then distribute topping over the raspberries.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean (a few loose crumbs or bits of raspberry are okay but no wet batter).  Allow to cool in muffin tins for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or store in airtight container.

One Year Ago: Chicken, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pizza & The Frederico
Two Years Ago: Spaghetti Squash Fritters and White Sangria Sparkler
Three Years Ago: Grilled Vegetable Salad



Monday, July 3, 2017

The Graduation Chronicles



Something Old
Something New
Something Borrowed From Pinterest
Something To Pin Just For You!

It has been exactly two months since my last posting.  First, forgive me for the brief departure...life before, during and since graduation of my first, last, and only children (twins) has been a whirlwind, to say the least...hence my brief hiatus.

So, let's catch up from where I left off on May 3rd...

The month, weeks and days leading up to graduation were a roller coaster of events and emotions. There were events that I was prepared for emotionally and others that I didn't see coming.  It was a month of "lasts", "final times", and "end of".  For example, at the Senior Night Awards Event, a few days before actual graduation, the school jazz band played and sang "Time Of Your Life" by Green Day. Don't ask me why, but I completely lost it...flood gates fully opened...yeah, didn't see that coming! 

The second flooding was at their Leadership Academy Awards Night.  All was well until they showed the senior slideshow..and there they were on the big screen.  That's when it really sunk in...this is it.

Graduation Commencement was a success...and leave it to the Class of 2017 to be the first class to hold ceremony inside school for the first time in history thanks to our unpredictable Colorado weather.

One final note...being that our last name starts with "Z", we are 9.8 times out of 10 the last person in any alphabetical line.  So my youngest twin was literally the last in line out of 281 students.  She had a great sense of humor with her cap decor..."Last But Not Least"  My older twin had a more personal approach...representing all three states we have lived and she has grown in.  Heartwarming.


Senior Walk Out Day - Their "official" last day of school.



Senior Year - In A SnapShot(s) - Collage Frame - Kirkland's Home



"Through The Years" welcome table at front entry.



...and The Dining Room

Okay, now for the fun stuff.  THANK YOU to all the creative, amazing, inspiring people out there on Pinterest.  I truly don't know how I could have survived grad week without you.  I am quite certain I spent more time planning their grad celebration than I did my own actual wedding.  Heaven help my girls, if they ask me to help plan their weddings!

Here is a compilation of some highlights from the day for you to "Pin", should you be in the need to start planning your grad event a year in advance (like I was guilty of)...


Custom Made Cupcakes in School Colors - King Soopers



Custom Macarons - Whole Foods



"Diploma" Cookies - Pirouette Cookies wrapped in school color ribbon.



Sweets Table



School Spirit and Volleyball Highlights



Various Flavors Starbursts



Various Flavors Ring Pops



Smarties Candies



Custom Printed Mini Blowing Bubbles - Bubble Dispensers - Dollar Tree



Mini Tootsie Rolls



Hershey's Hugs and Kisses



Mini Sour Patch Worms



Beverage Table
Monogrammed Galvanized Buckets - Kirkland's Home
Clear Beverage Dispensers - Wal Mart



Charcuterie Plate - Courtesy of my sister-in-laws Cathy and JoAnne



The Ever Popular Veggie Platter



Orzo Salad With Everything - Recipe Click Here



BLT Macaroni Salad - Recipe Click Here



24 Hour Salad - Recipe Click Here



My Mom's Famous Potato Salad
I don't have recipe, but know her secret ingredient is fresh dill.



Every Portrait From Then 'Til Now - Window Pane Frame - Kirkland's Home



Their First Day of PreSchool



Very Last Day of High School

Congratulations Ladies!

Two Years Ago: Traeger BBQ Beef Ribs
Three Years Ago: Apple Pie Cake









Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Italian Sausage Surprise and Life From Scratch

We are T minus 3 weeks away until everyone arrives for graduation weekend.  Each day brings us closer to the upcoming fun moments of family, friends, and memories to be had.  Each day is also bringing us to check off things from our "to do" list, and then I find myself finding new items that need to be added and handled before our final date.


Needless to say, my family has somewhat suffered and I haven't been trying out as many new recipes as I would like.  My focus has been planning "the weekend" and finishing up "art/gift/decor" projects for their party.


In the middle of all this though, I did set aside some time and just recently finished reading "Life From Scratch" by Sasha Martin.  What a phenomenal book! I couldn't put it down.  Not only are there some amazing recipes (stay tuned for seeing posts on those in the near future), but I really related to Sasha.  There are some points in her life that I felt intersected with mine and I completely understood where she was coming from.  

The one paragraph that really hit home with me was near the end of the book.  She was cooking for a large group of family for her mom's surprise birthday party dinner. Sasha is having a conversation with her husband as they're going to sleep....

"You seem really tense, Sash.  Are you OK?"

"What do you mean?"

"All day you tried to control everything.  I think you're making everyone nervous."

I roll over without responding.  He thinks I'm pouting, that I'm mad at him, 
but what I'm really thinking is: 
I know.  That's exactly what I'm doing. And I don't know how to stop.

Ouch!  It was like looking in a mirror as I read that.  That is the last thing I ever want to happen is to make everyone nervous, and yet I know I have been guilty of it, by my own admission.  I must stop trying to control everything!


Well, unfortunately, I had already started my lists and lists of recipes, menus, grocery items, decor ideas and photos before I read the book.  I have to type them, because my hand won't write as fast as my brain is going to keep up.  (don't judge)  Oh well, there's always tomorrow to start my new ways.

This dish "Italian Sausage Surprise" (because I have no other idea what to call it), came about on accident as I was trying to whip up a quick meal during the week.  What started out as supposed to be slow cooker sausage and peppers turned into something so much better!


Italian Sausage Surprise

5 hot Italian sausage links
1 red pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow pepper, sliced thin
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, crushed
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
2 cups prepared Marinara sauce (your favorite jarred brand)

In a large skillet, preheat over medium-high heat with a little olive oil.  When skillet is hot, add the sausage links and sear until brown on each side.  Remove from pan and set aside.

In same pan, add a little more olive oil and a tablespoon of butter, over medium heat.  Add the garlic and onions.  Saute until onions become translucent and garlic is fragrant.  Add the red and yellow peppers and saute until just getting soft.  Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for one minute.

Add the sausages back into the skillet with the veggies and pour the marinara sauce all over everything.  Stir well to make sure everything is coated.  Cover, lower heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes.

** While the dish was simmering, I "sauted" up some four cheese mini Pierogis with butter, because they make me happy and the creaminess of the Pierogi filling was so good with the finished sauce all over them. This also paired beautifully with Cara Mia Pinot Noir.

One Year Ago: Sweet Samoas Cake
Two Years Ago: "Un" Fried Ice Cream in Cinnamon-Sugar Bowl
Three Years Ago: White Pizza and Marky's Mark

Monday, May 1, 2017

Lemon-Blueberry Buckle

We celebrated the end of April (and "The Masters" month) by hosting a Champions Dinner and date night in for a few of our couples friends at our house.

This year's Champions Dinner at Augusta consisted of "Sunday Roast Dinner" with Prime Rib, Roasted Potatoes and Vegetables, Yorkshire Pudding and Apple Crumble.

We changed our menu up a bit and served our Traeger Prime Rib, loaded Cambozola smashed potatoes, garden salad, White Cheddar and Sage popovers and for dessert...Lemon-Blueberry Buckle. Everything was so incredibly good. 


I tried to bring my A-game for the evening and thank God it all turned out perfect...down to an intense game of Guesstures (guys against girls).  Girls nailed it, what can I say? If you've never played this game...you must get it and play...so much fun!!


As we were planning the dinner, I really wanted to try and replicate "The Champions Dinner" evening feel.  I looked for photos and since cameras and cell phones are not allowed at the actual dinner, each year there is always only one portrait taken with all the former winners.

One thing that I did notice that is consistent every year in the portrait photo...white linens, white china with gold accents and yellow flowers....done!


Lemon-Blueberry Buckle

1 box Butter Yellow cake mix
2 cans blueberry pie filling
1 whole lemon
1 stick cold, unsalted butter, sliced thin (16 slices)
vanilla bean ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 9x13 glass baking dish with non-stick spray on bottom and sides.

Pour both cans of blueberry pie filling in dish.  Zest the lemon and sprinkle all over pie filling. Cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice of lemon all over the pie filling.  Mix lemon in with filling well.

Sprinkle the dry cake mix all over lemon-blueberry mixture.  Spread evenly and smooth out mix on top of filling (this will be your top crust - do not mix the dry cake mix with the pie filling).   Add pads of cold butter, spaced evenly all over cake mix.

Bake approximately 45 minutes, until filling starts to bubble up the sides and butter/cake mix starts to turn golden brown.

Remove from oven and let sit about 30 minutes, it will be very hot.

Scoop out and serve with vanilla ice cream.

One Year Ago: Alabama White BBQ Sauce
Three Years Ago: Taco (Tortilla Bowl) Salad


Monday, April 17, 2017

Bundt Pan Chicken and Small Town Feel

I live in a relatively small urban city.  It was much smaller when we moved here and now has grown tremendously.  I have to say though, I do love it's small town roots that it offers.  There are many "mom and pop" owned businesses here.  Simple one location business, open respectable hours, closed on Sundays for family time and no franchises.  We have a lot of those here and I treasure and support them.

We needed a specialized mechanic for our daughters' vehicle (because they are princesses).  Anyway, I met the most delightful group of people.  As I was dropping off their vehicle one day and distressed over everything that needed done, the mechanic and I were discussing Lent and that I had given up alcohol.  He said he and his wife make wine and asked what my favorite blend was.  I told him and he said, maybe when I pick up their car there would be a bottle of wine waiting for me in the seat....low and behold there was.  Pinot Noir waiting for momma!  I waited until Easter to open their gift...it was the best tasting (no label) glass of wine!


I am also in love with our vacuum store.  It is set in the heart of Main Street, owned by husband and wife.  He runs the vacuum business and she sets out homemade baked bread, cookies and a pitcher of fresh tea in their store every day!  She has even started advertising the flavor of the day on the side walk.  It just doesn't get any cuter than that! Never have I enjoyed shopping for my Kirby vacuum bags and belts so much!


Speaking of small town comforts, I stumbled on what apparently is all the rage now in home culinary cuisine...Bundt Pan Chicken.  I thought I had branched out and got creative when I started doing my Cheese/Garlic Knots in my bundt pan, but this one takes the cake (no pun intended)!


Best Bundt Pan Rotisserie Chicken
Courtesy of delish.com

2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, quartered
1 Tbl minced garlic
1/2 lb. yukon potatoes, quartered (I also used red and purple potatoes)
1 larbe bunch fresh thyme
1 large bunch fresh rosemary
extra virgin olive oil
1 (3-4) pound whole chicken, gizzard removed
1 lemon, sliced
salt
pepper
your favorite chicken seasoning mix

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and cover the hole of the bundt pan with foil.

In the bowl of a large bundt pan, combine garlic, carrots, onion and potatoes.  Toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Scatter springs of fresh thyme and rosemary on top of the vegetables.


Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.  Season the inside of the cavity generously with salt and pepper, then stuff it with the lemon halves, a few sprigs of thyme and a few springs of rosemary.  Rub the olive oil all over the skin of the chicken then season generously with salt and pepper (and chicken seasoning).


Place the chicken in the middle of the bundt pan, breast side up.  Bake until the chicken is cooked through and ski is golden, 45 minutes to 1 hour 10 minutes.  Let chicken rest for at least 15 minutes, before slicing.  Serve with roasted vegetables and extra pan juices.


One Year Ago: Torta Rustica
Two Years Ago: Cambozola Platter
Three Years Ago: Easter Cheesecake Baskets