Tuesday, December 17, 2013

TWD-Gingersnaps

Seriously not so Snappy


I loved gingersnaps as a kid.  There isn't much I don't like when it comes to ginger. (Except these.)

I have never made gingersnaps.  To be fair, I haven't made a lot of things when it comes to 'Baking with Julia' and I am so glad for the experiences (good and bad) that I've had baking out of this book.  I have learned a lot during this time in TWD land. 

Gingersnaps....that was one of the gangs in Westside Story, right?  I may be wrong.  But can't you picture a gang of Gingers snapping their way towards you!  I wasn't allowed in the gang, due to a condition known as 'not being able to snap my fingers'. (True story.)





Sunday, December 08, 2013

Velvet Chocolate Walnut Fudge with Olive Oil and Fleur de Sel

First you get the fluff...then you get the fudge


I've never made fudge before; and I'm a little anxious about it.  I'm not a huge fan of fudge as it just seems like a sugar packed candy.  Give me a cookie any day.  But I am going to try this recipe.  Hold on, just re-read the recipe....I have to make my own marshmallow cream?!  Gulp.  That involves a candy thermometer (as does this fudge)...which never seems to end well for me.  But I do have a new candy thermometer and I believe it will help to keep things 'non burnt'. (Fingers crossed as extra precaution...toes on standby.)

Now before I get started, can I just say I'm a bit flabbergasted that we are already 8 days into December!  How in the holy name of fudge did that happen??!!  Where is that damn pause button when you need it! (Sorry, Santa....I meant darn.) 
Granted, if I did find that remote, I wouldn't know how to use it and with my luck would hit the fast forward button!  I swear I had visions of being all Martha Stewarty this month.  Now my visions are filled with Martha Stewart types running around in a panic and screaming.  You don't want to know what they're screaming....suffice it to say it isn't PG.  I think some of them got into the peppermint schnapps! 


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

TWD-Challah

Challah!  I'm making Challah!  I seriously love baking in this group, as this is something I probably wouldn't try on my own.  (Much like croissants, pita or Danish pastries.)  I don't want to jinx this, but I'm super excited to make this bread, because I totally want to make French toast with it!  Challah makes great French toast. 

Yep, I'm picturing a baked French toast.  And now I'm googling a perfect baked French toast recipe!  I think I've found the recipe.  Overnight French Toast from Epicurious.  I don't think I could mentally handle it, if this challah recipe doesn't turn out now. (Not after searching for the perfect baked french toast recipe.)  It was probably not a good idea to look up French toast recipes BEFORE I actually made the challah.  Am now forming back up plan (putting challah on shopping list).  Oh, oh...just found another recipe that looks amazing for French toast.  Drunken Caramel French Toast. 


Okay, time to focus on this recipe; seems pretty darn easy.  Am hoping there is a video I can watch on the making of it...before I actually start making it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Antique Caramel Cake

Whatever you do, don't blink


As I type this, I am undecided about what to make.  Yes, this week's recipe is Antique Caramel Cake.  That should narrow down my recipe choices...to one.(One would think.)  My first instinct was to go rogue.  I just don't feel like making a cake.  I'm in cookie mode right now.  These cookies were a hit last week.  And it is getting close to the festive season...and my freezer is very low (empty in fact) in the cookie department.

Sheri of Pork Cracklins came up with the idea of making the cake into cupcakes. (Brilliant!!)  And now I'm thinking maybe I should make the cake...in cupcake form.  Strangely, I'm more comfortable going rogue, than making a cake recipe into cupcakes.  The idea of changing a recipe is a little daunting for me.  And yes, I realize it is only a change from a cake tin to a cupcake tin.  Tin?  Who says 'tin'?  Okay, just googled it...people do say cake tins. 
Whew, now I only feel 80-ish, rather than a 100-ish.  Would you like some rock candy?

I can't go on, until we discuss an important thing this weekend.  Day of the Doctor!  I know, we were all thinking it and now we can all take a breath and get crazy excited again!!!  Day of the what you ask?  Day of the Doctor...as in Dr. Who!  And Google even did a Day of the Doctor banner this weekend.  (inner joy spilling out) 
It is a "it's so fluffy I could die" moment for me.  And I am a relative newbie to the Doctor.  But it really drew me in and now I can't wait to get back in the Tardis!
This is a Tardis...and yes, it's bigger on the inside!  (Tardis humour)
If Doctor Who has taught me anything (and no one even remotely asked, but I feel I need to share this so yes, you're in this with me...just sit back and pray it will be over soon and that I'll remember I actually have a recipe to start).  So as I was saying, if Doctor Who has taught me anything, it is to not trust weeping angel statues.  I didn't even know they were a problem.  But now I do and I'll never blink again. 

Oh they look all sweet and innocent. (Who's that then?)  The weeping angels!  (Oh, we're still on that.)  Yes!  This is important!  Pay attention! 
But as soon as you blink, bad things happen (still talking about the angels here).


So before I move on and start this recipe, let me leave you with some sage advice.

So I'm starting the recipe.  I've moved on...no more Doctor Who.  And I will in no way mention that we watched Day of the Doctor twice yesterday.  And Hubbie is in no way making me listen to (and watch) musicians covering the music from Doctor Who.

Yep, moving on.

Cake Ingredients

Oh hey, what's all this? 
















Cute muffin liners.  Yep, I went with cupcakes rather than a cake...even though I'm not great with making cupcakes.  Perhaps Doctor Who can save me.













Well, they came out okay.  And as suspected, I did put a little too much batter in some of the liners.  It is better if the baked cupcake doesn't go over the liner (and then stick to the pan).  And I may have baked them a smidge too long...some edges got a little dark.  Nothing a little caramel frosting can't cover up.







Frosting ingredients.  Yep, that's cream cheese, along with some butter, brown sugar, cream, salt and confectioner's sugar.


















There was boiling of butter and brown sugar involved, and I got through it...all 15 seconds of it.  And the finished product looks nice.  Though I feel the cream cheese is overpowering the caramel a bit.

Now the test comes....can I frost these cupcakes so that they look somewhat normal?  What's normal?  Seriously, I've had a whole weekend of Doctor Who.....I've seen things.












Cupcakes have been frosted!  And I added some skor bits and a piece of caramelia for decoration.















Taste test! 

You blinked, didn't you!
See what happens when you blink!  I warned you.




Monday, November 18, 2013

TWD-Double Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate Craze


Sometimes I wonder, do I really need another cookie recipe in my life?  And then I ask myself, 'who are you and what have you done with Sandra?'.  Afterwards, I thank myself for the little chat, and proceed to make the cookie recipe. (I'm nothing, if not polite.)  That's a lie, the conversation generally ends with, 'don't be stupid, of course you need another cookie recipe!'  Never bake angry, folks.

So this recipe has two chocolates in it:  Bittersweet and unsweetened.  They had me at bittersweet.  Oh and the recipe calls for a whole pound of this chocolate mix.  A pound!!  That's cray, cray!  I think I read that this is more like a brownie than a cookie (A brownie in cookie form).  I know, it keeps sounding  better all the time (and I'm not even a big brownie lover).  But I can imagine a world where the brownies are cookie size and the cookies taste like brownies.  Is it just me, or can everyone hear 'What a wonderful world'?  I refuse to be alone in this.  One moment please. 



I really love it, when one of these Baking With Julia recipes is easy.  It feels like winning the lottery (I assume).  Generally, this is the moment when I re-read the recipe, sure that I've missed crucial instructions that say to leave the mixture for two days before baking. (Not this time!!)  My fellow Tuesday's with Dorie gang know what I mean.  This only involves chilling the cookie dough for a few hours or leaving it overnight.  And I'm a big fan of making cookie dough the day before and baking the next day.  It is such a joy to bring cookies out of the oven and not have a ton of clean up (since the clean up was taken care of the night before).  Baking magic.

Darn, I don't have all the ingredients.  Ran out of unsweetened chocolate making this.  Guess I'll have to make a trip to my favourite store, Grace in the Kitchen.  Yes,yes, grocery stores sell chocolate (don't tell the hubbie)...but so does Grace in the Kitchen...and well, I get so much more enjoyment going to this store than a grocery store.  I'm like a kid in a candy store there....staring wide eyed at everything and not sure what to look at first!  Oh and I just got a 30% off (one item) coupon from them.  It would be wrong not to go.  And I don't like being wrong...or being put in a corner.  (Me and Baby have that in common.)

So I didn't find unsweetened chocolate (figured an 85% chocolate would suffice in place of unsweetened).

But I did get to use my 30% off coupon for this lovely Marble Pastry Board.  Granted, I don't need to use it for this recipe...but just look at it...it's beautiful!  And I'm sure will make my pastry making experience better. 


Okay, time to get this recipe started.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Biggest Loser Pancakes

Big Winner


So my hubbie came across this recipe on facebook and shared it with me.  (I am always on the lookout for a good pancake recipe.)  I honestly didn't have high hopes for this one.  And yes, my first reaction was 'oh no, not something from a reality TV show.'  (Yes, I'm one of those people....you know the ones....the ones who do air quotes around the words "reality TV".) 

Anyhoo, I made the pancakes and they could not have been easier.














All the ingredients go into a blender...














and once completely combined, they are ready to be put on the griddle.














Talk about a quick recipe!
These pancakes cooked up fast and were easy to flip.  Be sure not to overcook them, as they could get tough.  











Score one for the Biggest Loser Pancakes.  Also, these pancakes are gluten-free due to the oats. (Though if you are gluten intolerant you need to buy oats that say gluten-free, as the larger companies cannot guarantee being gluten-free because of possible cross-contamination with wheat).








The oatmeal gives the pancakes body which makes them easy to flip.  The cottage cheese and egg whites are a great source of protein for breakfast.  I think instead of the cinnamon, adding a scoop of your favourite protein powder would be great in these pancakes too.  Though after eating these pancakes with the cinnamon, it made me think some grated apple would be fantastic in this batter too.  Actually, I think this a great base recipe that can be adapted to so many great add-ins. 

It would seem that little Miss Doubter (that's me) has been won over by these pancakes.  Tis true, I really did like these.  And I will definitely be making them again.


Biggest Loser Pancakes (http://www.biggest-loser-recipes.com/oatmeal-pancakes.html)


6 egg whites 
1 cup rolled oats, dry  
1 cup cottage cheese 
2 tsp sugar  
1 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp vanilla

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.Heat a large non-stick skillet and spray with non-stick cooking spray, or use a non stick pan. 
For each pancake pour 1/4 cup of the batter.  Makes 9 pancakes or 6 large pancakes.
Flip when they start to bubble and cook until golden brown. 
 Repeat with remaining batter. 
Serve with some powdered sugar and some fresh berries.





Sunday, November 10, 2013

Good Morning Sunshine bars

Breakfast is Served?

 

Well now that we have changed the clocks, there is sunshine in the mornings again!  And that is good!  But I know it will go away in a few weeks…and we’ll be back in the dark again. (At least for our morning commute.)  Sigh.  But we’ll enjoy it while we can.  (And not think about the impending winter weather...that is right around the corner.)  Eeek!  Guess I should mention, that it snowed this weekend.  What the flurry???

So, it was a perfect time to start putting up a couple of Christmas decorations around the house.  Just a few.  I will ease into it I think.  Of course my welcome mat outside the door is good to go....it has snowmen on it and yes, it has been there since last winter.  What?  I like the snowmen!  And because someone (who shall remain nameless) commented on it and that further reinforced my need to leave it out.   Hmpf!  Oh, and it will be our doormat when we live in the home!  That's right, missy!

Anyhoo, this recipe looks nice...and easy.  (And if you're me and say nice....and easy, you think Tina Turner...Proud Mary)  So now there will be a short musical interlude.    
 Sometimes, these nice and easy recipes are just what is needed.  I just finished making pumpernickel bread(here) and I could use a nice quick recipe.  Not that the pumpernickel was extremely difficult.  It isn’t like making croissants

Seriously, this is one easy recipe.  I think it has rice krispie squares beat.  (In the ease of making department.)  Sometimes, stirring the rice krispies into the melted marshmallows can be hard to do.  (Even I judged me, with that last sentence.) 


Ingredients are ready to go. 














Chopped peanuts and cereal get mixed together.  (Hard work.)














Next, the brown sugar and corn syrup get melted and left to boil for a full minute.  (So time consuming.)













After that, the peanut butter, vanilla and salt get stirred into the hot mixture. (Stirring is so labour intensive.)  I love the smell of peanut butter and corn syrup in the morning.









The hard work isn't over yet.  Now the hot melty mixture needs to be stirred into the cereal/peanut mix. (Honestly, will the hard work never end?)














 It's too easy.  Surely there must be some risk of failure...some danger.

Almost done.  Just need to press this combined mixture into the pan.
Warning:  mixture hot.  Ouch!

Danger Zone!













Melted milk chocolate has been piped over the top.  And yes, I have gone 'over the top' in a zigzag pattern. 
Went all Jackson Pollock!!

Now to cut some into squares and dig in.




You got cereal in my peanut butter/chocolate mix!  You got peanut butter/chocolate mix in my cereal!
One would almost believe this isn't a breakfast bar....
But it has cereal in it, so it must be okay to have for breakfast.  Right?  Oh and it has 'good morning' right in the name!  Helloooooo...it screams breakfast!  Just like Rice Krispie Squares and Oatmeal Cookies. 
Good morning, breakfast!

*******************************************************************************

Oops I did it again....seriously, I made the recipe again...but with a couple of changes.
I was inspired by Linda http://trustyourcape.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/baked-sunday-mornings-good-pay-day-morning-bars/ who used Candy corn. 
And Sheri http://www.porkcracklins.net/2013/11/good-morning-sunshine-bars/ who used Caramelia instead of milk chocolate.



I think these ones are even better.  The Candy Corn and Caramelia chocolate really make it better.

Head on over to Baked Sunday Morning and get inspired!
 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

TWD-Pumpernickel Loaves

Roll, Pinch and Tuck


I'm making pumpernickel bread today.  Seriously, me!  Making pumpernickel bread.  I'm pretty darn excited.  But I'll remain calm.  No biggie...just frickin' pumpernickel bread!!!  I've made bread before, but it is still a daunting process.  And this is a bread I've eaten, but never made.  I just watched the video and Lauren Groveman makes it look pretty easy.

The ingredients seem so un-bread like....like instant espresso, unsweetened chocolate and prune lekvar to name three.    I know, right....prune lekvar??  What the freak is that??  Google to the rescue.  Prune Lekvar is just a prune jam.  Thank you, Mr. Google.

So I looked high and low for this Prune Lekvar.  No luck finding it.  But that's okay.  I just make my own.  It is just prunes and a liquid heated up and cooked until the prunes are softened and then pureed to a nice consistency.  I muddled my way through it.  You  know the old saying, 'when life doesn't give you lekvar, pout a little and then make it yourself'...or something like that.

I made the lekvar the night before I was going to make my bread.  Thought I'd save a little time.
So this morning I am ready and able to get this bread making process under way.  And an hour earlier than I had thought (yay to falling back in time...just not in a cool Dr. Who way).


Here are my prunes.  I used about 2 cups of chopped prunes, 4 tbsps of lemon juice and the zest of the lemon.











It all went into a pot and simmered over low heat for about 20 minutes or so.  Then I mashed it all up and added about a 1/3 cup of light brown sugar.  Easy peasy.  Once it was mashed up, I put it in the fridge until I was ready to use it (today).









Like a squirrel, I've gathered all my ingredients.  A squirrel that can bake and doesn't just hide all her food in my garden, flower pots and grass.  (I know who you are!!)  Moving on...
I should have bought ground caraway, but instead, only bought whole caraway seeds.  This wouldn't be an issue if I had a spice grinder.  As it was, I tried to grind the seeds with my mortar and pestle...that didn't go so well.  I'm pretty much just using all seeds rather than anything ground.  Sigh.



The boiling water and espresso powder are blended together in a small pot.

Next, butter and chocolate get melted in.  Then, the prune lekvar, shortening, caraway seeds, yogurt and salt get added to the pot.

Meanwhile (back at the ranch), the yeast and a pinch of sugar get added to some warm water.  This gets all nice and frothy in about 5 minutes. 











And then I turned my back on the yeast for two minutes, and this happened!!  Holy Yeast, Batman!
Hopefully that is a good sign, and not the sign of the Apocalypse.











The yeast and rye flour get added to the earlier mixture.













And with my big trusty spoon I incorporate the ingredients together.  This spoon and I can weather anything...even the Apocalypse. 












After about 3 cups of bread flour, my arms have given up.  Seriously!!  Lauren Groveman has arms of steel!!  She really made stirring the bread flour into the mixture look so easy.  Argh...my arms are less Popeye more Olive Oyl.

Enough of that.















I tossed it all onto the counter and kneaded as much of the flour in as I could.  This really wasn't any easier than stirring the flour into the mixture.  The recipe does indicate that a mixer can be used for this process, but my KitchenAid isn't up for that challenge.







Still a little sticky...more flour needed.















 This is my "smooshing the dough together" test.  It should hold its shape and then slowly let go.  It passed.  (This makes more sense if you've seen the video.)









  

The dough is ready to be transferred to a large buttered bowl.  It gets brushed with some melted butter and then covered with saran wrap and a towel.
This will sit in a warm place for about two hours, or until it doubles in size.








Two hours later, and it looks like this!  Beauty!
This then gets punched down and deflated.












Back under the covers for another hour or so.














Here we are, after an hour.  Nice.















This dough then gets split into two pieces.  I will be making two loaves, not one gigantic loaf.  (But I could!)













Each half gets rolled out.  And then the magic happens.  Yes, let's call it magic.  And please keep that in mind when you see things happening to the bread.










So again, thankfully I watched the video as I wouldn't have understood the instructions for this next step.  Roll and pinch, roll and pinch and repeat.  This is supposed to lower the risk of air pockets in the loaf.  Huh.










This next step seems wrong.  But I did it just like the video. (That probably doesn't make it any better.)
I'm tucking in the ends!  Yeah, it seemed wrong.









After all the rolling, pinching and tucking I think it looks okay.  And I'm pretty sure therapy isn't needed for this loaf now.  But wait, I'm now going to put it in a sling.  Yeah, I just said that.










A bread sling.  Not something I ever thought would be in my house.  There's just so much I could say about this...but I'm just gonna move on.











Oh hey, here's the bread ready to be put in the oven.














And here they are; fresh out of the oven.  Wow, it looks like I had some issues I should have worked out, BEFORE I picked up a knife.












Here I go...picking up a knife again.  I think I did better this time.
I think it turned out pretty darn good.  But it is still pumpernickel bread...a strong flavoured bread.  Not something I would eat on a regular basis.

 But I did it!  I made pumpernickel bread!  And I gotta say, I'm pleased with the results.  Head on over to Tuesdays with Dorie and see how everyone else did with this pumpernickel.