Sunday, July 12, 2015

Farm Markret Frittata!

I am on a seven day sugar free challenge with my family so I am relying more heavily than usual this week on fresh, juicy summer produce!  I’ve seen some versions of this challenge that don’t even allow fruit or sweeter veggies (I’m talking to you corn on the cob and sweet potatoes!), but I don’t want an all-out mutiny on my hands so I’m focusing on eating healthy amounts of fruit, no sugars added sugars (including agave, honey, maple, stevia or artificial sweeteners), and also eliminating processed white flour from our diet this week.  My goal is to lose a couple of pounds but also to get my kids to appreciate the natural sweetness in whole foods and to reach for some not-so-sweet snacks too.
I figured I would go big for breakfast on day one because that is honestly going to be the toughest meal for my family.  The kids tend to reach for cereal and milk every day and I usually have coffee with some sweetener, fruit and some sort of whole grain English muffin or toast.   Today I made a wonderful smoothie with fruits and veggies to curb our sweet tooth naturally and then made a huge frittata which we enjoyed today and which will provide leftovers for breakfast or lunch later in the week.
I make frittatas a lot on the weekends but they’re so quick and versatile, I should really consider making them more during the week.  This one came together in the time it took my coffee to perk!  I used zucchini, spinach, onions and cherry tomatoes because that is what I had on hand but mushrooms, kale, scallions or potatoes would have worked well too.  Since the veggies I had seemed a bit Mediterranean to me, I went with feta and some fresh oregano, but you could use whatever cheese and herbs you like to change it up and allow this breakfast to shapeshift throughout the seasons!
8 fresh eggs
Dash of milk or cream
Salt and pepper to taste
About a Tbsp of Olive Oil
1 medium zucchini, diced
¼ onion, diced
2 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and rough chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Some chopped fresh herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme or basil all work well)
About 1 cup of shredded or crumbled cheese (I used feta and a bit of provolone)

First, whisk up your eggs and milk or cream and season with some salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Preheat your oven to broil on high, making sure you have a rack in an elevated position (bit not the top shelf). Now, chop your veggies.  Place the olive oil in a large oven-safe saute pan; one without a plastic handle.  (I use a good sized Calphalon paella pan.) Heat over medium high.    Add the veggies but not the tomatoes or herbs.  Saute until soft seasoning with a bit of salt if you like.  Pour in the eggs, trying to distribute eggs and veggies pretty evenly across the pan.  Using a silicon spatula, tip the pan slightly and lift the edges to pour more of the raw egg mixture underneath so it cooks more evenly.  Do this a few times.  Now add the tomatoes and cheese and transfer the pan to the oven.  Broil for a few minutes until your frittata is done in center, golden brown on top and a little puffy.  Remove from oven and top with the fresh herbs.  I like to let it rest for 2-3 minutes and then use a pizza cutter to slice it evenly into 8 portions.  Remove with a spatula or broad fork and enjoy!  The leftovers will keep in the fridge for several days and are good warmed or even at room temperature.

This is a meal in itself but I made a quick smoothie to round out the meal.  It included about 1 1/2 cup of coconut water, ½ cup of unsweetened almond milk, a handful of frozen mango chunks, one chopped up carrot, ½ peeled cucumber, 1 ripe sliced banana, and one whole peeled navel orange.  I just threw it all in our Blendtec and set it to the “Smoothie” setting and let it do its thing.  It made 4 nice-sized smoothies and gave me enough leftovers to make a few smoothie popsicles for later.  For those, I just poured the leftovers into popsicle molds, but you could also use dixie cups.  I filled them about ¾ of the way full and then dropped a few frozen blueberries into each one to bring the level up and add a sweet surprise to the frozen treats.  These will be great snacks for later at the pool and my kids will never realize that I snuck veggies into their treats! 

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Pickled Pink – My Attempt at Quick Pickles!

I recently spied some adorable little Kirby cucumbers at the Farmer’s market.  They are small and their skins are not waxy at all.  Plus, they don’t really have any bitter tough seeds.  I’ve also seen these lately at supermarkets and I was inspired to try and make some pickles.  Now don’t get me wrong, I know nothing at all about canning, sterilization or pickling – those all seem more like pioneer woman skills than abilities I’d actually possess!  But, I do have a collection of Mason jars just waiting to be used for something other than Pinterest crafts, so I figured I would try me hand at some quick or “refrigerator” pickles. 
Refrigerator pickles are just what they sound like.  You need to keep them in the fridge and since they’re not preserved with lots of salt or boiling, they’re only going to last for about a month.  That’s no problem because in my house, they keep getting gobbled up in a few days!  This pickling method lends itself especially well to bread and butter pickles, because you really want to eat those chilled anyway.  They’re so crispy and sweet, but also a little spicy and briny.  They are just wonderful on sandwiches, burgers, in salads, or just as a side dish.  This version has the added benefit of not having such a high amount of salt.  So, you can really enjoy them guilt-free!
I’ve made three batches already this year and today, we’re going to be enjoying them with some pulled pork barbeque to celebrate the fourth of July.  Go ‘Merica!
Seriously though, don’t be intimidated by the idea of pickling – it really could not be easier!  It just takes a few minutes of active cooking and a couple of hours of resting time.  I used that time to watch a few episodes of Orange Is the New Black, telling my family to “leave me alone – I am making pickles!!”  Shhh….don’t tell my secret!!
Here’s my technique.  First, slice up the cucumbers and some sweet onions.  I like the onions really thin but the cukes not too thin – maybe about 1/6 of an inch.  Place them all together in a large bowl and sprinkle about 1 Tbsp of salt over the top.  Toss lightly and then throw a few ice cubes on top, allowing to sit on the counter.  When it looks like the ice has melted (about 90 minutes), drain off all the water.  This way, you’re also draining off much of the salt and lots of liquid from the cucumbers and onions.  This will allow your cucumbers to remain crisp when pickled and take some of the bite out of the onions.
Once that’s done, boil all the remaining ingredients together and then pour it over the cucumbers and onions, and allow that to sit for about an hour.  That’s it!  You’re done – for real!  Just pour into jars and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 12 hours ideally.  If you feel the need to dive into them after 2 hours, they’ll still be great!
For spices, these are all eye-balled amounts – I am way too lazy to measure!  If you like spicy, add more crushed pepper, if you don’t, leave it out altogether.  You can play with the flavors a bit based on personal preference and what you have handy.  Here is the actual recipe:

12 small cucumbers
1 vidalia onion (or other sweet variety)
1 Tbsp salt
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
A few whole peppercorns
2-3 whole allspice
About 1 Tbsp whole mustard seeds
About ½ tsp whole coriander
Good sprinkle of crushed red pepper
3/4 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp turmeric

Slice your onions thin and your cucumbers into 1/6th inch disks.  Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt.  Toss lightly and throve a few ice cubes on top.  Allow to sit at room temperature until the ice cubes melt (about 1-2 hours).  Drain well – you should have a lot of liquid to pour off. When those are ready, place all the other ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil to melt the sugars.  Remove from heat and pour the hot liquid over the cucumber and onion mixture.  Press down on the cucumbers so that all are covered with the liquid and allow to cool uncovered at room temperature for about an hour.  You can then transfer these to jars or Tupperware style containers.  This recipe makes about 3 standard size mason jars worth of pickles.  They’re best after another 12-24 hours in the fridge to crisp up, chill and allow the flavors to meld.  Store in the refrigerator – good for about 4 weeks…but they’ll never last that long!  Enjoy!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Popovers, or Flaky Little Mouthfuls of Heaven…You Decide!

I wanted to try something new for Father’s Day Brunch and since I had some homemade jam to showcase (more on that later!), I landed on popovers.  Have you ever had these amazing and surprisingly easy pastries?  They are definitely best warm right out of the oven which is why you don’t see them at bakeries or stores frequently, but they’re like a wondrous cross between and soufflé and a croissant; flaky, airy, moist, buttery, and really the perfect vehicle for some great honey or jam.  They rise beautifully if you can resist the urge to keep checking them in the oven and when the steam releases as they cool, it creates this incredibly buttery pockets, just perfect for holding jam or whatever topping you decide to add. They truly are heavenly and you probably have the ingredients and equipment in your kitchen right now!

Basic popovers only have 5 ingredients – butter, flour, salt, eggs and milk.  That’s all the ones I made had too, but you could definitely make them into a dinner item by adding a little thyme and grated cheese!  Let’s start with the basic recipe for now.  If you have a popover pan, by all means use it!  You will get taller and slightly larger popovers, but you can definitely use a muffin pan too.  A muffin tin was all I had, and mine came out wonderful.  Since there are only five ingredients, focus on good ones!  Use farm fresh eggs if possible and good quality sea salt and butter.  It really will make a difference.

Ingredients for 18 muffin-sized popovers

2 cups Milk (2% or whole works best)
4 Eggs
½ tsp Salt
2 cups Flour
6 Tbsp Butter

Preheat your over to 450. You can easily make the batter in your blender - that’s what I did for easier clean-up.  If not, get out a large bowl and a whisk or your standing mixer.  First, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter (microwave works well for this). Now, add the eggs and milk into the blender or bowl and mix together.  Add in the melted butter and blend a bit more, finishing with the flour and salt.  Now melt the remaining 4 Tbsp butter, and set it aside.  

Once your oven is preheated, place the muffin or popover tin in the oven for at least 3 minutes to get it hot.  Carefully remove it from the oven and add the melted better equally into each of the muffin cups.  Pour the batter about 2/3 full into each cup, on top of the melted butter.  Place the pan in the oven on the center rack.  Back for 15 minutes at 450 and then reduce the temp to 350, baking for another 15 minutes.  

Don’t open the oven door to check on them until the time is up.  I know it’s hard to resist, but it will cause your gorgeous popovers to fall early which will affect their unique and lush texture.  Apparently, starting with a warm pan and high heat, helps the popovers rise and get flaky on the outside, lowering the temperature midway, helps them not collapse immediately and creates the wonderful airy texture on the inside.

As soon as you remove these from the oven, flip the pan over to get all the popovers out and then take a small knife and quickly pierce the bottom of each pastry to allow some steam to escape.  Then, you can turn them all back over the serve warm.  Some people add more butter but my family just enjoyed them with plenty of jam.  We happened to have homemade jams on hand (plum and strawberry), but any good preserve, honey or jam would be excellent.

I promise there won’t be any leftovers and if there are, they’d be delicious with a little chicken salad served in the center the next day for lunch.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Better Butter! How to make butter in a mason jar....

So, I've recently gotten into making my own bread. I've tried a few different techniques, and they've all come out pretty good.  I consider myself a reasonably accomplished cook so I don't know why I was so intimidated by yeast!  If you want to try your hand at bread-making, I'd suggest starting with a straight-forward recipe using a no-knead technique.  It needs to sit for a while, but I tried a few simple recipes I found on the internet and all seemed pretty forgiving and great foray into bread-making for the uninitiated.

Now that I have a bit more confidence in the baking department, I really wanted some high quality butter to accompany the warm-from-the-oven manna. I had a lot of heavy cream leftover from the holidays and did a little web research, only to find that if I was willing to either haul out my food processor, or use a little elbow grease, I could make butter using just the cream I already had and some salt.  Wow, right?

I decided to go old school and pass on the food processor....what fun was that?  Anyway, I had 4 kids over for a playdate who were all happy assistants in the shaking department.  This whole project was a blast, and way easier than I had thought!  I don't buy heavy cream every day, but I do get it during the holidays and for recipes and always seem to have some leftover which goes bad in my fridge.  This butter is a wonderful way to use that up, because once made, it freezes really well!

I also think this would be great with some chopped herbs or garlic incorporated, or even some citrus zest and honey or maple syrup.  Go crazy!

The amounts here really depend on how much cream you have on hand, and/or how much butter you want. As a guide, about a 1/2 pint of heavy cream will make about 1/2 stick of butter.  Also, you get some bonus buttermilk as a by-product of this little you probably have some delicious pancakes or biscuits in your not-too-distant future too! 

Here are a few tips I learned both from making this three times, and from viewing different videos and blogs over coffee.

  • Bring your cream to room temperature first - it will speed up the processing time and help the butter to set up better.
  • If possible, don't use heavy cream that says "ultra-pasteurized".  Regular, pasteurized cream, the kind that typically expires in a week or so, is better if it is available.
  • You must use heavy cream, or heavy whipping cream.  Half and Half, milk, light cream etc...will not work.
  • You can make unsalted butter.  The salt is just to enhance the taste - it does not promote a chemical reaction and is not required.  You can either add your salt to the cream at the beginning or knead it into the finished product as per your preference.  The amount is really up to you, but start with less because, you cannot take it out!
  • If you want to add herbs or flavorings, do it in the beginning and make sure they are cut very small and evenly.
  • However much you choose to make, use a jar with a TIGHT lid and make sure you don't fill it more than about halfway with liquid. You really need the empty space to increase the agitation.  If you're unsure of your lid integrity, a Ziploc bag and a rubberband are a good hedge.
  • When shaking, it is best to shake hard, but not too fast.  Imagine you are shaking a heavy maraca to a beat at about one shake per second.
  • Shake until you can both see and hear a solid mass of butter, surrounded by what looks like a milky-water-y substance.  That's the buttermilk.  Then shake a little more.  Anticipate 10-12 minutes but the actual time will vary based on cream pasteurization level, temperature, amount in the jar, and shaking force.
Once you have what looks like soft butter in your jar, use a cheesecloth or fine strainer to pour out the liquid into another container.  This is buttermilk and will stay good in your fridge for 2-3 days.  It makes the best biscuits, cakes, pancakes, and it is also a wonderful marinade for chicken.  It's liquid gold, so don't let it go to waste. 

After you've removed all the liquid, add a little bit of cold water (couple of tablespoons) to the jar with the butter, and shake it again, just for a few seconds.  Drain this one more time to get any excess whey off the butter.  You can just discard this liquid as it is not as useful for cooking.

Now, dump your butter, which will be soft, onto a paper towel or cheese cloth and pat or gently squeeze it to extract excess water.  Then, you can mold it or press it into a ramekin.  Store in the refrigerator if you are not going to use it right away.  It will only keep for a few days, but it freezes really well for up to a year, if wrapped and stored airtight. 

My kids thought this was a great project and since there is no cooking involved, it is a great rainy day activity to toddlers through tweens.  Have fun and enjoy savoring your real, sweet creamy butter, the way your great grandparents probably did! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Tale of Two Stuffings...

I don’t know about you, but for me, the Thanksgiving meal is all about the stuffing.  Don’t get me wrong; I adore turkey and I don’t roast a whole bird often, so it’s a very special treat in our house.  However, I really think we all eat the turkey as a vehicle for the stuffing!  To me, it really signals the holiday and all those great flavors of sage and thyme smell so good and take me back to wonderful memories of childhood holidays. 

I come from a house divided.  My mother is from Lancaster County Pennsylvania and my dad hales (hails?) from Lower Alabama.  Since I cannot figure out a way to please everyone with a single stuffing, I double down for Turkey day and always make two stuffings!   The good news is that this means I always have plenty of leftovers!  Leftover stuffing is my most versatile ingredient and here a few super ways that I like to use almost any type of leftover stuffing in the days following Thanksgiving:

  1.  Form leftover patties of stuffing and dip in egg.  Saute them in butter or olive oil and make “Thanksgiving Benedict” the next day, toped with a poached egg and leftover ham or smoked turkey.
  2.  Make a deluxe turkey sandwich, including stuffing, turkey, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes and greens
  3. Roll stuffing into small balls and dip into egg and then bread crumbs.  Fry like Risotto balls and serve with warm cranberry sauce as a dipping treat!
  4.  Make leftover stuffing into dumplings with added egg, milk, flour and baking powder and use them in your turkey soup!
  5. Break up small bits of stuffing and add to waffle batter.  Top with turkey, gravy and warm cranberry sauce!
  6. Be a purist - Just eat it with some gravy and leftover turkey scraps!

To be honest, most of the time, my stuffing is not stuffing at all.  Technically, it’s dressing!  I like to cook my stuffing outside of the bird.  This way, I can get a nice even roast on my bird and I can get a soft, moist stuffing with a nice crunchy top!  But whatever you call it, stuffing or dressing, just call it delicious!  Feel free to experiment a bit and try new things.  Sometimes, I like to go crazy and bake one of mine in individual muffin tins.  Sometimes, those don’t even get to the table to be honest!

Here are the 2 stuffings I like to make which offer my guests really different flavor profiles and textures.  Honestly, it is not much more trouble to make two versions because you can chop all the onions and celery and many of the herbs all at once and then, divide them.  I have a cornbread dressing with chestnuts, bacon and herbs as my personal favorite.  The use of cornbread makes it very crunchy and the bacon gives it a beautiful smokiness.  Next, I make a bread stuffing, using sourdough or ciabatta, with parsnips, sausage, apples and golden raisins.  Gobble gobble!   

6 cups cornbread stuffing mix, or cut up stale homemade cornbread (not the sweet kind)
8 slices bacon
3 Tbsp Butter
2 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
2 3/4 cups turkey or chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, removed from stems
2 cups coarsely chopped chestnuts from one 16-ounce jar
1 large egg, beaten to blend

Salt and Pepper to taste
Butter a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Fry bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Remove bacon and in the same pan, add the butter, and then the chopped onions and celery.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper and sauté until tender, about 7 minutes. Add to corn bread. Mix in 2 1/4 cups broth and herbs. Stir in chestnuts. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Mix in the egg and add the whole mixture to the buttered pan. Add up to 1/2 cup more broth if stuffing seems dry.  This can be done one day ahead if desired.  Just check the amount of moisture before baking and add additional broth if necessary.
Cover with foil; bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until top begins to brown, about 25 -30 minutes longer.

4 cups sourdough or ciabatta bread cubes
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
2 cups chopped onions
1 cups chopped celery or chopped fennel
1/2 cup butter, divided
1 ½  pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cubed
1 pound parsnips, peeled, cubed
½ cup golden raisins

1/3 cup packed fresh sage leaves
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, stems removed
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 ½ cup low-salt chicken broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake bread cubes on 2 large rimmed baking sheets until lightly toasted, about 20 minutes.  You can do this step a day or two ahead if you like.
Sauté sausages in very large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, breaking into pieces with spoon, about 15 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to large bowl; add bread.
Plump raisins in hot water and set aside. Add onions and celery (or fennel) to same skillet and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes; adding herbs for last few minutes.  Transfer to bowl with bread using a slotted spoon. Melt 1/4 cup butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and parsnips and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes.  Mix into stuffing, along with raisins, drained from the hot liquid in which they’ve been plumped. Season with salt and pepper.
Butter 15x10x2-inch glass baking dish. Transfer stuffing to the prepared dish; drizzle with  the chicken broth and remaining melted butter. Cover with foil. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake stuffing covered until heated through, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until beginning to brown, about 15 more minutes. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Cranberry-Orange Cheesecake


1 package oreos, broken
2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel


For crust:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Finely grind cookies and chocolate in processor. Add butter; blend until moist clumps form. Using plastic wrap as aid, press crumb mixture onto bottom and 1 1/4 inches up sides of 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Cool completely.
For filling:
Increase oven temperature to 350°F. Wrap 2 layers of heavy-duty foil around bottom and up sides of springform pan. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until light. Beat in flour. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, just until blended. Beat in orange peel and vanilla.
Pour filling into crust. Place springform pan in large roasting pan. Fill roasting pan with enough hot water to come halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake until filling is just set in center but still moves slightly, about 55 minutes. Remove cake from water bath; transfer to rack and cool completely, about 4 hours. Cover and chill overnight.
For topping:
Stir sugar and water in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; add cornstarch mixture and bring to simmer. Add cranberries; cook until beginning to pop, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Stir in orange peel. Cool completely. Cover and chill overnight. (Cheesecake and cranberry mixture can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)  Run knife around top edge of cheesecake to loosen. Release pan sides. Top cheesecake with cranberry mixture. Chill until set, about 1 hour. 

Re-posting for the 2013 holidays....

I adore pie at the holidays but want an alternative on my sideboard this year.  I thought a moist, decadent cake would be just the ticket and this one completely fit the bill.  Delicate in flavor with a sublime texture, this scrumptious cake, paired with the citrus-y, tangy icing and crunchy pecans is a winner!  If you don’t have all the spices on hand, you could substitute one tablespoon pumpkin pie spice, with little flavor impact.  You could also omit the cranberries, nuts and coconut if you prefer, but they had great texture, sweetness and some interest to the moist cake.  This is a rich dish and needs no accompaniment, other than a good cup of coffee.  Enjoy!
For the Cake:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1/3 cup dried cranberries or currants
1/3 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup flaked coconut

For the Frosting:

½ stick butter, softened
1 (8 oz.) block of reduced fat cream cheese
Zest of one orange
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp cream
1 Tbsp fresh orange juice
3 cups confectioners sugar

For the Glazed Pecans:

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 tsp butter
2 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 8” baking pans with cooking spray and dust with some flour.  Line the bottom of both pans with parchment, cut to size, and then spray again.  Set aside.  In a mixer, blend the oil and both sugars. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and then add the pumpkin, mixing well.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and all the spices.  Add into the wet mixture, beating until smooth.  Add the cranberries, nuts and coconut and stir well.  Pour batter evenly into both pans and bake for 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and cook for 15 minutes before removing cakes from the pans.

Next, make the candied pecans. Start by changing the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and use the teaspoon of butter to grease the parchment.   In a small saucepan, mix the water, sugar, salt and spices over medium heat and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is simmering.  Add the pecans and cook until candied, about 2 minutes.  Spread out evenly on the prepared baking sheet, using a spatula to separate the nuts.  Bake for about 10 minutes and allow the nuts to cool completely on the parchment-lined baking sheet.  Set aside.

Finally, make the frosting by beating the butter and cream cheese together.  Add the orange zest, juice and vanilla and mix well.  Beat in the sugar and add the cream as needed until you achieve your desired texture. 

Once the cake has thoroughly cooled, place one layer on a cake server and use half of the frosting to completely cover, leaving the sides unfrosted.  Gently lay the other cake layer atop this and ice with the rest of the frosting, again leaving the sides unfrosted.  Lay the pecans all around the top of the cake in concentric circles.  Enjoy!