June 29, 2008

Taking the Challenge to its limits - timewise!

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The Story of A Daring Danish Braid


You see that photo above here? That blessed pastry almost wasn't made by me this month. I thought I probably had enough excuses to not do the Daring Baker Challenge this month. I mean, our reports for ABET Accreditation were due this month and I was the lucky one to get to edit two 400 page reports for formatting etc! I was never so happy as the day we turned those reports in for duplicating and they were out of my hands! (As I'm sure Stefan & Levon were happy to have them out of their writing hands!).

I also had the excuse that my son's wedding was coming up but honestly, that wasn't enough of an excuse since I haven't had to do a whole lot for that except get my outfit together. SO, yesterday morning I decided to start with the challenge and bake it this morning - still in time to post on the posting date!

I checked out the Daring Baker forum on a regular basis, reading what some had done with their braids, looking to see if there was any specific troubles anyone had so that if I ended up making it, I had an idea of what to do! Some people made savory braids like Bel of The Silicone Spatula, Amanda of Acker Kitchen, and Chantal of Eclectic (i-klek-tic) Desserts. They had sneak preview's of their braids and they made me absolutely drool! I'm sure there were other's who had savory fillings that I didn't get a chance to see ahead of time, but you can check out all the other DB'er posts by clicking here.

With all my indecisiveness about if I actually had time to do this challenge - I must say that I am VERY HAPPY I did! This was the most delicious sweet treat I have made. Although I messed up in the spreading of the butter and layering - it still turned out wonderful and now that I 've made the mistake, I know how to do it correctly the next time! I also learned that I will NOT shape the dough out on to just the counter top! That was a mistake! Fortunately, it did not affect how my braids looked in the long run.

I want to send a big thank you to Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’? for hosting this month's challenge. If it were not for this challenge, I may have never tried a danish dough - and I am so glad I did. Grumpy and I are already talking about different fillings I can do for the future!

I did not use the apple filling as was suggested in the recipe. For my fillings I decided on a Raspberry/Cream Cheese and an Almond (Solo can!). Our favorite is the Almond! This one actually turned out the best looking also! Otherwise, I followed the recipe completely! I will leave you with a few more photos and then following will be the recipe. Don't let the length scare you, it really isn't hard at all!

For another take on filling for danish, be sure to check out Vohn's Vittles for Pear and Cinnamon Danish!  Grumpy would love that filing I'm certain!



DANISH DOUGH
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

IngredientsFor the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

DOUGHCombine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

BUTTER BLOCK
1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

APPLE FILLING
Makes enough for two braids

Ingredients
4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

DANISH BRAIDMakes enough for 2 large braids

Ingredients
1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg WashWhisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.



June 28, 2008

Nanny's Birthday

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Today is my Nanny's birthday. She has been missing physically in my life for too long now and I miss her just as strong as I did when she first passed. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't remember my sweet, precious grandmother. She was the best thing in my life and loved me unconditionally.

That photo of us was taken in 2001. I can't believe it was that long ago already!

My Nanny loved to bake. She always had cookies - and if she didn't have them in her cupboard - there would bound to be some in her freezer. All of us grandkids knew where to look for her cookies! I have her recipes for her sugar, oatmeal, molasses and pineapple cookies. All of there were soft puffy cookies and sometimes she would frost them (never the pineapple ones though!). She also made an awesome Mayonnaise Cake that I would always request on my birthday!

I remember when I was very young, I would get up in the morning and leave with my dad so when he stopped to pick poppy up for work, I would go in and crawl into Nanny's bed! When we would get up, she would ask what I would want for breakfast and I always wanted her to fry me an egg in butter and have toast. Food was so good at Nanny's - better than anywhere else I could eat!

When I was older and pregnant for my first baby, my husband would work the afternoon shift - which left me home alone at dinner time. Every night, Poppy would come over to pick me up at 4:00 and I would have dinner with Nanny & Poppy and my hubby would pick me up on his way home from work around 9:30 PM.

After I was divorced, I lived just around the corner (yet again) from Nanny & Poppy (only Poppy was gone by then). The boys would be with me every other two weeks, and when they were with their dad, I would spend my night at Nanny's or, she would come to my place for dinner. When I was busy making cookies and teddy bears for EFY, Nanny loved to come and help. She would frost my cookies, and help stuff the bears.

When Nanny passed, I could barely stand to be there anymore. I missed her so much, she was such a part of my life and now that part was totally empty. I still miss her, but my life goes on. I have my parent, my Aunts, my children, and of course, my Grumpy to keep me company and to love. But not for one second will I forget Nanny. Especially on her day.

"Loved you yesterday, love you still, always have, always will" In memory of Nanny "Mae Iris Whitton"

June 23, 2008

Fun in the sun = Beer Battered Fish!

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We really didn't have any real plans for our anniversary. I at first thought we would maybe go to dinner and dancing on Friday night (Grumpy was on call for our anniversary) but then Grumpy #1 called and wanted to know if we wanted to go out in the boat on Saturday. Well, of course, I'm going to take a peaceful day on the water over going out to dinner anytime!

So, Friday night we went to Grumpy's daddy's home, spent the evening there so the next morning we could be up and on the lake early. The kitten in the photos is Buddy. He is the in-law's kitten and is SO LOVEABLE! The picture to the right above reminds me somewhat of "A Cat in the Kitchen's" blog! As you can see to the left, Buddy decided to explore the beer box! He is so darn cute! Anyway, We were out on the water by 9 am on Saturday morning and Grumpy #1 and #2 enjoyed the day fishing while us ladies soaked up the sun and read our Taste of Home and Cooking Light magazines! It was a beautiful day and we got a lot of sun (for sure!). Grumpy #2 even burnt the top of his feet (as did I, but mine didn't stay burnt for long!).

Yesterday I cooked up the fish that was caught for dinner. It is very rare that I do an entirely fried dinner, but Grumpy really likes the beer batter fish with homemade french fries. I made the batter by mixing:

1 cup flour
1 cup beer
1-1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper

Dipped the fish fillets in the batter and into the fryer until golden brown! Yummy! I served with the homemade fries, tartar sauce and fresh corn on the cob.

For dessert I had made Dorie's Black and White Cake. It tasted awesome, but I still had messed it up. The cake didn't turn out right, the texture wasn't right for slicing (although I was able to do so, it wasn't fun & easy!) and I messed up the white frosting. I basically turned it into butter. Since I used quite a bit of white chocolate in the frosting, I decided to NOT try to remake it and instead sent Chris to the store for Heavy Cream and just whipped that up with some confectioner's sugar! I also didn't layer it correctly (am I blushing here?). I will be making the Black and White cake again - and next time will do a better job!

June 19, 2008

4 years of wedded blisfulness

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Well, we all know marriage is no bed of roses without the thorns! In this marriage, I say I'm the rose and Grumpy's the thorn - and like the rose and thorn,we go perfectly together and compliment each other! He's definitely my protector! Grumpy's not so bad, really!! (he will probably disagree about me being the rose, he'd probably argue that I'm the thorn, (because I aggravate him - how?) lol - but then, he wouldn't be Grumpy if he didn't!) But our personalities are certainly on the extreme of each other. I'm the outgoing, ready and raring to go while Grumpy is the withdrawn, quiet type. I'm full of vim and vigor in the morning (yeah, I've been up since 3:30 am today) and Grumpy, well, he like to sleep in! I can't keep my eye's open at night (very rarely can I stay awake during a movie) while Grumpy could be up half the night! When we first were together he told me that he never met someone who was so full of energy in the morning. ha ha. I didn't and still don't need caffeine to get me going in the morning (but I drink it because I LOVE it!). I just have this natural morning energy.

Grumpy and I have been married 4 years now and together almost 8. I wouldn't trade my Grumpy for anyone else in this whole big world. He has my heart and I couldn't imagine my life without him (even though he makes me mad as hell sometimes - as I'm sure I make him also - although I can't ever imagine why!).

I decided that this morning I would make some special muffins for Grumpy to take with him for breakfast. He loves white chocolate and raspberries so I went on a search and came across a recipe on this site. I started to mix and realized there was no flavoring in the muffin recipe. So, I added some vanilla and almond (because I couldn't decide what I wanted more!). Here is all I did "different".

  • I added a tsp of vanilla and 1/2 tsp almond flavoring
  • I baked for only 20 minutes in 400 degree oven
  • I only used 2 Tbsp butter for dipping the muffin tops and I still had left over.
  • I didn't bother to measure the sugar for dipping, I just put a little in a coffee filter and dipped away.
I was a little worried they might not be sweet enough when I saw there was only 1/3 cup sugar, but then I realized, all that white chocolate would probably balance out the sweetness. I think it could have taken more than just 1 cup of raspberries though. Next time I would probably add another 1/2 cup.


I let my Grumpy stay in bed a little longer before I went up and said "don't you think it's about time you got up?", however I didn't do that without sliding up beside him and giving him a happy anniversary hug. I sure hope he likes his muffins this morning :)

June 18, 2008

Have you noticed I like spicy foods??

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Yup. Spicy Black Bean Burgers, Cheese Enchiladas (not too spicy, but it has mexican spices!), Venison Fajitas, Mango Chipotle Sausage Pizza (which was so yummy!), Velvet Shrimp (gotta love that Old Bay Seasoning), Buffalo Chicken Pizza (and I had to make personal pan size because Grumpy won't eat it!). Wow, as I read this, I realize there is only one of these dishes that Grumpy loves and that is the Velvet Shrimp. What is wrong with this man anyway? Maybe his name needs to be changed to PICKY GRUMPY. He ate all the other dishes except the Buffalo Chicken Pizza because it was mine and mine alone!

Well, the point of all this, is I found this recipe on Tarah's site "Genesis of a Cook." The recipe is one by Giada DeLaurentis (one of my favorites!). Spicy Baked Macaroni. Tarah has the recipe on her blog and you can view it by clicking here.

Although I love Giada's recipes, I would probably change it a little when making it for myself again. I love nutmeg, but I love it in eggnog and cookies. I haven't had much opportunity to use it in savory dishes, and I could taste it too much in the dish and I really would rather not. So, when making again - I would leave out the nutmeg. Grumpy didn't like the tomatoes, but I thought that was one of the best ingredients in the dish! Sigh. We will never agree. Hopefully my son Chris will like it and help me eat what is left!

I would have more photos, but something odd is happening to my camera and i wasn't able to get many good shots. Figures my camera would go kaput right before my son's wedding, and of course, with the wedding, I certainly can't afford to buy myself a new camera right now. I just may have to borrow Grumpy # 1's camera for the wedding.

June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day Daddy!

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This photo was taken last July, but my dad doesn't look a lot different! (I do though! My hair is short now!). I love my dad with all my heart and soul. He would do anything for his little girl! I called him this morning to wish him a happy father's day and he was hammering away in the house (my parents have been doing a renovation project). When I saw him last Sunday I gave him his gift because I knew this week we probably wouldn't be able to go anywhere as Grumpy was on call for work. I wish my dad the best day ever - although I know he is doing what he would do any other day of the week - keeping busy! My dad doesn't sit around idle doing nothing!

One of dad's least favorite foods is peanut butter and this has alw
ays been a teasing point for all of us kids - and it also became one for my kids! My little boys would do what they could to "trick" poppa into eating something that had peanut butter in it and then get him to say he liked it!

My other "daddy" is my father-in-law (Grumpy #1). He also has my heart. For Grumpy #1 loves me too even though he wouldn't admit it (not too often anyway!). There is something about these Grumpy men that I just seem to have a soft spot for!
Now, My dad is as far from Martha Stewart as you could possible get, but my father-in-law, well, he has that "Martha touch" lol. He will kill me if he reads this! But honestly, both my hubby and his dad have an "eye" for things. This doesn't mean in anyway they are feminine! I had better put this in here because I am sure to catch hell for it if I don't! They are as manly as can be! and as far as I'm concerned, Grumpy 2 is a hottie!

I'm talking about Martha here because I recently bought her Cookies book. I went thru the book this morning and wrote down all the one's I want to try. I decided today to make the one that I had ingredients for that if I didn't use it up, would be wasted (what else? Banana! ha ha). Yeah, I had one banana left. Grumpy didn't eat it in his lunch on Friday so I had it sitting on my counter getting really ripe since it sat in his lunch box all day Friday and Saturday (I wasn't home to empty his lunch box until Saturday night!)
I didn't follow her recipe "exactly" because I did have to improvise a little on the flour and chocolate addition. These cookies turn out to be a soft cookie. (meaning Grumpy will like them). Here is the recipe the way I made it:

Banana-Walnut Chocolate-Chunk Cookies
improvised from Martha Stewart 's Cookies1 cup flour1/2 cup white whole wheat flour1 tsp salt1/2 tsp baking soda1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature1/2 cup granulated sugar1/2 cup light brown sugar1 large egg1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large)1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped4 oz white chocolate, chopped1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Mix together the flours, salt and soda. Set aside. Beat butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture, mix until combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks and walnuts. Using teaspoon, drop onto cookie sheet spacing about 2" apart. Bake 12-13 minutes or until golden brown. Store in air tight container.

June 13, 2008

Family time

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Not a food post today. I am sitting here this morning looking over some pictures from our recent trip to Albany. The purpose: find my dress for my son's wedding! The benefits: Spending time with my mom, aunt's, cousin & her daughter. It was a girls weekend! We did get to see my cousin's Gregg & Ryan also who I haven't seen in a long time. It had been over 2 years since I had seen Gregg!

The ride there is a long ride for us. As you can see by the photo, my cousin's daughter entertained us some with her violin. Yes, she played her violin in the vehicle! lol.

When we arrived to my aunt's, my cousin Gregg greeted us with his girl Belle. Yeah, Gregg is such a hottie isn't he? That girl of his is pretty darn nice to! Gregg kindly showed us home videos Friday evening that was so nostaligic...as Nanny & Poppy were in the videos. They were a little scary too as we all watched how goofy we were back then (ok, ok, some of us are still goofy).

The game plan for Saturday was to get out and about, and not send HoneyB home without a dress for her son's wedding! Our first stop: Talbots outlet. While my Aunt M got an awesome deal with a pair of slacks, and my mom got a pair of white slacks that I loved (but couldn't find another pair my size) I left without a dress and feeling slightly depressed because I really hated wearing 2 digit sizes. I mean, if I have to wear a 2 digit size, I would like it to be the smallest one possibe! (a 10!). However, the 12's were proving to be too tight.

On to our next stop @ Macy's in Colonie Center Mall. While my Aunt M, Mom, Cousin & her daughter were scanning racks, my Aunt A was helping me pull every 14 off the rack, whether I liked how it looked or not. We then came across a plum dress that I loved the style of, but when searching for a 14, there one none to be found. There was only a 8 & 10. I left the dress and went looking for other dresses. However, I loved the style of the dress. It was the one I wanted. Since I was grabbing everything possible, I decided, why not? I'll see how far I can get it on anyway! So, we went into the changing room. With each dress I tried on, I was disappointed. Not only were they not "me" (and btw, I hate dresses!) but none of them fit right. Last but not least, I tried on the dress that was doomed not to fit me.....BUT.....it actually FIT! I was elated! So, I left with my dress as did all the rest of the group! So Macy's sold us all our dresses to wear to the wedding. From that point, we went to the food court, had a snack and off to Boscov's where I found my scarf and purse to go with the dress! Oh, before I forget, my mom also found an awesome dress. She is going to be so classy looking. I won't go into details because of course, after the wedding, I will post some photos. I think my mom is going to be stunning!

We then left the mall and met up with Ryan for dinner at Red Lobster. We had a great meal and nice quality family time! Something we very rarely get! That is Ryan to the right. He's just as hunkie as Gregg. Actually, in this photo, I can really see where they look a lot alike! After dinner, my cousin (Andrea) and I went with Ryan to Target & the liquor store. Andrea wanted to make "sex on the beach" and we needed some key ingredients! We then headed back to the house for a relaxing evening after a full day of shopping!


Here are a few pictures of our evening:Gregg & me. He looks much better than me! So, I hope your gravitating toward his handsome smile and ignoring the goofy look on my face.
Gregg & Andrea

Belle trying to get at the pistachios! Yes, that is a sex on the beach drink in front of my Aunt!

I'm leaving you this morning with a picture of my 3 favorite ladies in the world. My mom, Aunt Marlene & Aunt Ann. Thanks to Aunt Ann for having us all there, to Gregg for putting up with all us "old hens", Belle for comforting me some(as that is the weekend I lost my Peabody), Ryan for carting Andrea and I around after dinner, Mckenzie for her violin entertainment, and my Aunt Marlene for carting us all there and back.

June 12, 2008

A Tag that I am finally getting to.

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You might think that I have a lot of time on my hands now that I am finally doing this tag! I actually have two tags that I haven't had a chance to follow thru with. Today however, I am going to take the time to do them finally! But, I am sad to say that I probably won't "tag" anyone myself. If people are as busy as I am, I don't want them to feel that they have to follow thru. So, if you want to play along, feel free to!

My first tag was from Medena of Cafe Chocolada. Medena is such a sweetheart and I love her blog from the title to her recipes (especially that Walnut Chocolate Torte - on my to make list!). Medena tagged me with foodie themed meme by Chriesi of Almond Corner. Here is how it goes, and it is desired to keep the foodie theme :

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

In the mail today I received 5 books I ordered. One for a gift, and the rest for myself! Yeah, I like to treat myself to cook books once in a while! The book that is nearest to me is Dori Greenspan's Baking from my home to yours. I was too lazy (i hate to admit that) to get off the couch to grab the other books to go thru them and only reached over to the coffee table for the laptop until I got ambition to get up, so Dori's book is it!

Page 123 in Dori's book is not a recipe! It is an introduction to cookie recipes. The fifth sentence reads: "Cookies like these are not difficult to make but several take a bit more TLC than bar or cookie jar cookies." The next three sentences: "Save them for an afternoon when you are looking forward to fussing a bit, when you've got the time to mold, roll or even fry dough- as you will with Mrs. Vogel's Scherben. You can also save them for a time when you want to show off. While making madelieines is no different from making a basic sponge cake - it's theh shell-shaped pans, not you, that form the cookies so preciesely - they've got an ooh-la-la factor sponge cakes can't touch."

We have to stop at two sentences, because that was the end of the page.

Tag # two comes from Carrie's Kitchen Creation's. She tagged me with a meme. Here goes:

The rules: Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.
What was I doing ten years ago?
I was 1 year into my job that I currently am still in. My children were 13 and 11.

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today:
1. Dr. Appt
2. Do laundry
3. Visit my friend Angel
4. Stop and say Hi to Chris on my way home from Dr.
5. Lunch with Ethan

5 Snacks I enjoy:
1. buttery salty movie theatre popcorn
2. Dark Chocolate
3. chewy brownies
4. Salsa & homemade tortilla chips
5. yogurt with homemade granola

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Pay off all debts (for close family members and ourselves)
2. Buy a new home
3. Buy Grumpy a new truck
4. Start my own little sandwich/coffee shop
5. Invest
Places I have lived:
NY
Iowa

Jobs I have had:
1. Babysitter
2. Stay at home Mom
3. Secretary


So, rule breaker that I am, I am not specifying a tag to anyone in particular.

Yes, we have no B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

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And why do we have no bananas? Because I used them this morning, that's why! I found an adapted recipe for Dori Greenspan's Banana Bundt Cake on montcarte's blog. She had made a Rum Drenched Banana Bundt Cake. The title really appealed to me, but because I had no rum in the house, I decided to use the Lemon Glaze for the recipe that she provided. If you want to view the recipe click here to go to Kim's blog about this cake.

This morning I woke up early as usual, but instead of heading off early to the University to work out, I stayed home and accomplished a TON of work before leaving for work! (3- loads of laundry, putting dishes away from the dishwasher, AND making this cake!). There have been 3 very stressed out people in the office the last week. This is the crunch for our ABET self study to be submitted. So, last week I made the Almond Joy Muffin's (for the 2nd time! they are so yumm!) that I found on Elle's blog. Everyone loved them by the way! So this morning, I took half of this banana cake in to "comfort" Levon and Stefan as they have been working so hard! Oh, yeah, I did comfort myself with a piece too!

My son also called me after having a slice of the cake to find out what I made the glaze with because he thought it was awesome. I was blown away by this and it just goes to show fresh is best! I could have used lemon juice out of a jar, but I don't like to go that route and I like to use the freshest ingredients possible for the best taste! Guess it showed!

So, Kim, thank you for posting the recipe for this cake. I probably will try it with the rum sauce in the future (and make double the glaze!) when I actually have some rum in my house again! You were a part in making today special for a few people!

June 11, 2008

Spicing up my life

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I belong to a cooking forum that has become a tremendous resource for recipes - and also a close knit group of friends who I could not imagine not having in my "cyber" life. It is amazing how you can obtain this feeling of closeness and caring for people you have never met in you life! One of these cooking friends recently submitted some recipes for veggie burgers. They all look delicious, but the one I chose to make for dinner last evening was AWESOME! I want to thank you Edlear for bringing this recipe to my attention as it is one I intend to make over and over again! I asked Edlear if it was ok to submit her recipe here and she gave me permission to use it, stating that she couldn't remember where it came from. Well, I'm just glad she had it to share and I now would like to pass the favor on to you with hopes that you can "spice" your life up as enjoyably as I did last evening! I enjoyed mine without a bun and fresh sweet cold cantaloupe on the side!

Spicy Black Bean Burgers
from my friend Edlear


1/2 c flour
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t dry oregano
1 small jalapeno, minced
1 T olive oil
1/2 medium red pepper, diced
2 c cooked black beans
1/2 c corn niblets
1/2 c bread crumbs
1/4 t cumin
1/2 t salt
2 t chili powder
2 T minced parsley

Saute the onion, garlic, oregano and jalapeno in the oil until the onions are translucent. Add the red bell and saute another 2 minutes until tender. Set aside. Mash up the beans abit and stir in the vegetables, including the corn, bread crumbs, cumin, salt, chili powder and parsley. Divide up into 5-6 patties, coat each side in the flour. cook on a lightly greased saute pan until done. Enjoy!

June 08, 2008

I'm Bananas over Boston Cream Pie....Recipe Girl Style!

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Dishy, this photo so reminds me of one of yours that I saw. You and I bake the same way -with our laptop on the counter so we can read the recipes!

I wanted to bake. I wanted to bake something really good. I also wanted to bake something new. Of course, I also had to have the ingredients because I wasn't about to get in my car and drive 13 miles just to get ingredients!

I happened to have bananas and a whole gallon of milk. So I got to thinking, hmmm, how about a banana cream pie? So, I went online and started searching. The Recipe Girl not only has a blog, but she has a recipe site. So, I went to her site and did a search on banana cream pie. I found this! What a lucky find! So, I went to town (no, not literally) and started getting the ingredients together. Instead of a lot of words today (partly because I am out straight and have so much to get done!) I will show you my photos and you can find her recipe here. You should definitely try this, it was delicious. Thanks Lori!

The cake has cooled and I have sliced it (although not perfectly) to prep for the filling!

The cooled custard (1/2 of it) is spread on top of the bottom layer. This is an awesome custard. Of course, I love any homemade pudding/custard and vanilla is my favorite!

The bananas are layered on top of the custard, then you put the remaining custard on top of the bananas.
I was a bad girl here. I put all the pudding on the bottom and none on top. Hope you will forgive me Lori!

Place the top layer on your filling and make your chocolate glaze topping (which is absolutely to die for!). Spread it over the top and chill until your family is ready to eat (unless they are standing over top of you drooling while your making it, then eat immediately!)


Now, this was the dessert I had told Grumpy about when I made the Cheese Enchiladas as sort of a "peace offering". There were absolutely no complaints about the dessert! If there had of been, he would have been wearing Boston Banana Cream Pie! Maybe. Don't know I would want to really waste it that way! ;-)

June 07, 2008

You sweet talker.........HoneyB!

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I have been dying to make my Cheese Enchilada's with Red Sauce for the longest time. Most of you who read my blog on a regular basis knows that Grumpy gets, well, grumpy, when I make Mexican recipes. We had this conversation as dinner was cooking. "When is that crap your making going to be ready?" (gotta love his choice of words, eh?) I respond (inwardly seething) "Sweetie, that delicious enchilada dish that I'm making will be ready in about 5 minutes." But, that is where my sweet talk ended. I then go on with my same ole lecture. "You know, it won't hurt you to eat something I want sometimes. Most of the meals I make I would rather not be full of meat." LOL, OH WELL, that brought on a response that probably most of you don't want to hear! ;-) because I didn't (which is where I stopped listening) and la de dah de dah de dah. LOL. I let him talk and I ignored him. I did think of him some when making this meal because I did put chicken in the enchiladas. If I had my way, I'd not be making meat at all. I did make one enchilada without the chicken for myself though. :)

The recipe I used is actually from a Betty Crocker Mexican Cookbook that I bought well over 20 some years ago! See, my first husband wasn't such a picky eater! He loved Mexican food! Honestly, I can say he ate whatever I made without complaining or calling it crap. Bet some of you wonder why I'm not married to him any more eh? Well, wonder away because I'm going to confuse you more at the end of this paragraph!! I found this enchilada recipe in the cookbook that my son Chris tells me that their dad still makes. LOL, he actually call the recipe "Dad's", but in all actuality it's one I found! Anyway, I'll let him call it Dad's. He might be my ex husband, but he's a good man and he deserves credit for cooking too! Besides, I can bet he makes the dish more often than I get to....

So, on to making the recipe. You need the following!

Red Enchiladas with Cheese
Entomadas de Queso!

1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 cup chicken broth
8 tomatoes, chopped (I used 1 quart home canned tomatoes)
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/8 teaspoon pepper
12 corn or flour tortillas (I used boughten flour ones, but you can make your own if your so inclined!)
3 cups shreeded cheese (12 oz.) (I used preshredded cheddar jack mix)
Dairy Sour Cream

Cook and stir onion and garlic in oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until onion is tender. Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, chili powder, salt, cumin, oregano and pepper. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered 1 hour.

Dip each tortilla into sauce to coat both sides (this is what will make the edges nice and crispy!). Spoon 2 Tablespoons cheese onto each tortilla. (this is where I also put some chopped up chicken pieces in the center). Roll tortilla around filling. Place seam sides down in ungreased rectangular baking dish. 13x9x2 inches. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cook uncovered in 350 degree oven until cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream. (I didn't have sour cream, so I didn't tell Grumpy we were supposed to use it, didn't need to hear any more griping!). Makes 6 servings (unless your feeding Grumpy who by the way only ate it because he was hungry).

To soften the blow when I told him I was making enchiladas, I also told him I was making a dessert. However, I'll save that for another day when I have more time but be watching for the post because it was an AWESOME dessert!

June 01, 2008

Sometimes you feel like a nut

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I guess this morning I felt like one (Grumpy would say I am one, but what does he know)! I have had Almond Joy Muffin's on my to do list since I saw them on Elle's New England Kitchen. Whenever I would crave a coconut candy bar, I always chose the Almond Joy over the Mounds! I still think the perfect bar would be an Almond Joy made with Dark Chocolate. Have they done that? I can't keep up with candy bar's these days because they make so many special edition ones that I don't remember what they have or haven't done!


This morning Chris has to go to work and I thought it would be nice to have some nice warm, chocolatey, coconutty, muffins to go with his coffee when he wakes up. (Yes, Chris and Grumpy are sleeping as I type still - but not for long!)

I followed the recipe and used (lite) coconut milk. Elle had said you could use either coconut milk or regular milk. I thought, if I'm making an almond joy muffin, I am going with all coconut! As they baked, they smelled wonderful and they rose wonderfully and not to mention, they tasted absolutely delicious, were tender with a wonderful crumb! The toasted coconut top was great too. Thank you Elle for bringing this recipe to me. It's one I'll be keeping around!

Almond Joy Muffins


Ingredients
2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cups coconut milk, or regular milk
1 tsp almond extract
3/4 cups coconut, plus a little more for sprinkling over the tops
1/2-3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, butter, coconut milk and almond extract.  Stir into flour mixture.

Fold in the coconut and the chocolate chips.  Grease 1 (6 muffin) muffin pan or line with paper liners.

Fill the tins about 3/4 full, then sprinkle the tops with the remaining coconut. (an ice cream scoop makes the tins easy to fill and makes your muffins the same size)

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then serve.
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