Matt of Matt’s Kitchen recently gave me a Kreativ Blogger Award! Thank you so much, Matt! His blog has been one of my favorites since the first time I saw it. His posts always make me laugh and smile and he has quite a gift for creating conversation. I find myself writing multiple sentences each time I leave a comment on his blog, there’s just always something that I’ve identified with to respond to. If you haven’t visited before, I encourage you to check it out to see what you’ve been missing!
Now, with this award I’m told I have to choose 7 other blogs to pass it to and also complete a meme with 6 questions (shouldn’t it have been 7 questions?) with 7 answers each. I’m passing it along to the following blogs who will maybe do the same… but no pressure, of course. It’s all in fun! :)
Whisk: A Food Blog: From Whisk Wednesdays, to the creativity, to the writing, to the photography… I’m constantly impressed by everything she puts out there and I learn something new every time I visit.
Mevrouw Cupcake: One of my most favorite bloggers. I just love her attitude towards baking and she’s a natural storyteller. Plus, her photography is amazing.
Elra’s Cooking: I found this blog during my short time with the My Kitchen, My World group. Elra cooks up a storm and I love checking in to see what she’s been up to! Her recipes are always really interesting, too. Lots of stuff I’ve never seen before.
Danielle Bilton: One of my early favorites when I joined up with TWD. She has a lot of experience in the food world and it shows in her posts. Her photography is stunning.
My Blank Page: A Daring Baker who writes a blog about food, cats, tv, movies, books, concerts, videos… it’s got it all. And my taste is very similar to hers so it makes for an enjoyable read for me. This site has been in my links list since the day I found it.
Seven Things MeMe….
Seven Things I Did Before
1. Was a waitress
2. Banquet server for parties and wedding receptions (I cried at every damn wedding, how embarrassing)
3. Cashier in a candy store
4. Worked at a video store
5. Made lots of cappuccinos and lattes in a small coffee shop
6. Managed a cookie bakery
7. Managed a retail bakery
Seven Things I Do Now
1. Play piano
2. Bake and cook
4. Work as an Analyst for an insurance company
5. Listen to tons of podcasts, Howard Stern and Old Time Radio shows. I’m a radio junkie.
6. Keep up as much as I can with the news
7. Take lots of pictures
Seven Things I Want to Do
1. Travel to Ireland.
2. Sell my townhouse and move into a single family home with a front porch and a big backyard.
3. Run a marathon.
4. Write a book.
5. Sing karaoke in public (I don’t know why I’m too scared to do this)
6. Get married.
7. Be a mother.
Seven Things That Attract Me to the Opposite Sex (I’ll change this category by saying what attracts me to anyone as a human being.) **I’m answering it this way, too.
2. Intelligence (without a trace of superiority).
4. People who have interesting voices. Especially when they tell funny stories.
6. No or low drama. I can’t stand people who constantly make something out of nothing.
7. Being able to trust someone, knowing they have your back.
Seven Foods I Love
1. Cheese Quesadillas (or Tostitos) with melted mozzarella cheese, sour cream and Paul Newman’s Pineapple Salsa
2. Rice Pudding/Creme Brulee
3. Key Lime Pie
4. Pasta with Tomatoes, Sausage and Cream DO NOT LOOK AT THE CALORIES ON THIS ONE. YIKES!
6. Slippery Pot Pie
Seven Things I Say Most Often
1. Cuss words. (Sad, but true. My Mama’s not proud.)
2. That’s different.
3. For real?
4. Damian!!! (my cat gets in trouble a lot)
5. Thank you.
6. What is WRONG with this thing? (I said that at work pretty much all day)
6. That’s cute. (Tip: do not take me shopping unless you like hearing that phrase a billion times)
7. I love you.
And with that, I’m out… thank you, it’s been a real pleasure. And drive safe!
Clara of I Heart Food 4 Thought chose Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection. I was looking forward to this one because you can never go wrong with cupcakes and the group was encouraged to decorate them for Halloween if we wanted to.
I love Halloween. All of the candy, the costumes, the funny scary, the scary scary, everything! When I was growing up I had the BEST Halloween parties. We lived in a really old farmhouse (that was spooky even when it wasn’t Halloween) and my Mom would go nuts with the decorations, games, candy and food. She saved her Wicked Witch of the West “I’ll get you, my pretty… and your little dog too!” impersonation until the very end because it would make her lose her voice for a couple of days afterwards. Costume wise, my favorite year was probably the “Vanna White” year. I wore a fancy dress and carried around big letters while I walked back and forth turning them. Ahhh, memories!
On to the cupcakes… I didn’t realize when I started making these that I was out of flour. I had 1/4 cup left so I cut the recipe into fourths. I also had no bittersweet chocolate so I used semi-sweet instead. I wanted to add a bit of coffee to the batter, so I took a full coffee pot and went to pour a little in. Now there’s always a voice of caution in the back of my mind when I do things like this, which I ignore 100% of the time. Of course, my hand slipped and I accidentally poured in way too much. The batter was pretty runny pre-bake and I was a tad concerned that I had ruined them and would have to start over. I kept my fingers crossed…
A fourth of the recipe made 9 mini cupcakes that I baked for about 15 minutes or so. Once they were out of the oven and cooled off, there was no way to tell that I had any coffee mishaps at all. They were very moist, chocolately and good. Maybe it was actually a good mistake, as I read afterwards that some people had experienced issues with the cake being too dry. I kept the ganache on top to a minimum and added nonpareils and sprinkles (the Monster Mix from Wilton and some fall type sprinkles from the Dutch Market).
All 9 mini’s were eaten within a few minutes between me and the boyfriend and I was kind of bummed that I wasn’t able to make more. In other words, this week was a huge success! Make sure you stop by Clara’s I Heart Food 4 Thought for the recipe and to what she thought of her choice. While you’re at it, stop by Clara’s other site I heart cuppycakes!, a blog dedicated just to cupcakes. Then make your way over to the Tuesdays with Dorie site to find out what almost 275 other bakers had to say this week.
Now, I leave you with my Halloween costume… a turkey suit! It’s so stupid, but it makes me laugh. I think in this picture I’m turkey dancing my way out the door, whatever that means. What are YOU going to be for Halloween this year?
Next week it’s Rugelach as selected by Piggy of Piggy’s Cooking Journal. I’ve never made, tasted or even heard of Rugelach before I got the book. It should be interesting!
I love Pot Pie. In my family, we exclusively have the “Slippery” version – not the kind that has a crust, lots of mixed vegetables and other stuff thrown in. I can say I’ve probably had the version with a crust only a handful of times in my life (and this would include Swanson’s). So when I saw that Deb of Kahakai Kitchen had chosen Ina’s Vegetable Pot Pie recipe for the second October Barefoot Bloggers recipe, I knew this would be a good one for me to push myself in a whole new Pot Pie direction.
I tried to stay close to the recipe but this one seemed like one where it would be ok to play around. I cut the butter down from 12 tablespoons to only 4. I was willing to add more if needed, but there was no way I was starting out with 12 tablespoons. Gotta save calories and fat where you can, right? I left out the Pernod because I can’t justify a purchase like that for such a small amount of liquor. I omitted the butternut squash, asparagus tips, frozen onions and fennel (these last two things were nowhere to be found at my local store). Since I left out so much I threw in whatever I had in the freezer like frozen squash and peas, just keeping the measurements to around 1 1/2 cups. I also added some roasted chicken so it would sound a little more appetizing to the boyfriend. I made a full recipe of this, so I had to have him on board with having it for dinner or I’d be having pot pie by myself for days.
I cheated and used store bought pie crust. Now I’m all for baking from scratch, but pie crust… . It’s the one thing that can really make me frustrated in the kitchen. I’m sure Ina’s version is great and I know I should’ve made it, but I wanted to save myself the frustration on such a peaceful late Sunday afternoon.
I knew I was really going to like this as I was making the sauce and putting everything together. At 20 minutes left in the oven, it smelled so good and was making me so hungry that I found myself rummaging around in my cabinets looking for something to eat to hold me over. I was like “What am I doing??” and made myself stop and wait. Good thing, because this Vegetable Pot Pie was awesome and I needed all the room in my stomach I could get!
Still staying true to my original life long preferences, I could take or leave the crust. The filling is all I really cared about, but as a whole it was really good. Thank you, Deb for choosing it. Make sure you stop by Kahakai Kitchen to see what she thought of her choice. Then stop by the blogroll to see what the other 111 Barefoot Bloggers thought.
Ina Garten’s Vegetable Pot Pie
Book: Barefoot Contessa Parties!
Show: Barefoot Contessa Episode: Pot Luck
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 cups sliced yellow onions (2 onions)
1 fennel bulb, top and core removed, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups good chicken stock
1 tablespoon Pernod
Pinch saffron threads
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 cups large-diced potatoes (1/2 pound)
1 1/2 cups asparagus tips
1 1/2 cups peeled, 3/4-inch-diced carrots (4 carrots)
1 1/2 cups peeled, 3/4-inch-diced butternut squash
1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions (1/2 pound)
1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
For the pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 cup ice water
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper
Click here for Directions!
This morning, the frost on my car windshield that I needed to scrape off was the end of my delusions… it’s officially Fall which means it will officially be Winter soon. And then I’ll be whimpering every day because the following are are three things I really can’t stand: socks, coats and the cold. One upside to it all though, is that around this time all things pumpkin start showing up. Pumpkin rolls, pie, bread, cookies, candy, coffee creamer, Starbucks… if you can name it, there’s a good chance it’s got a “Limited Edition Pumpkin Flavor” out right now. So I thought it very fitting that Kelly of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp picked Pumpkin Muffins for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.
I made these this past Saturday afternoon after I finished working my last bit of overtime for at least a week. (Ah, sweet relief!) It was a nice, quiet time in the house. No television, no iTunes, no internet… just quiet. I was able to really focus on what I was doing and I didn’t miss one ingredient this time. Well, not by accident, that is. I had to leave out the Allspice on purpose because I couldn’t find it in my totally disorganized spice cabinet. The cabinet is four shelves high, completely packed and completely ridiculous. I recently started moving my most frequently used spices and things to other cabinets or the pantry so I at least have a chance at finding them. Something must be done… someday.
I used Libby’s 100% pure pumpkin, dark raisins instead of golden and I left out the pecans/walnuts. Half got sunflower seeds on top and half didn’t, and to my surprise I preferred these muffins with the seeds. Everything is mixed in one bowl which is nice, I love it when there’s hardly any dishes to do afterwards. I baked in regular sized muffin tins for 24 minutes.
The taste was good, exactly what i expected. My boyfriend thought they were a little bland. I didn’t think they were bland but I thought they were a little too dry. They didn’t seem to keep well overnight either. Afterwards, I read people were lowering the baking time on these which I think is a good idea. I would definitely go along with that the next time.
Ahhh, risotto. I love it. Rachel of Rachel Likes to Cook chose Butternut Squash Risotto for the October 9th edition of Barefoot Bloggers. I’m just now getting around to posting about it, but it’s one I definitely didn’t want to miss. Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish and if you’d never had it before, you wouldn’t think it’s all that just hearing about it. But it is so GOOD. I’ve never made it myself at home before, I usually only get it when the boyfriend and I have a fancy dinner out.
What I knew about making risotto beforehand was that it’s not that hard but it’s not super easy either. The contestants on Hell’s Kitchen always seemed to mess it up, so from the show I learned that you really need to watch it close. I also knew that too much stirring was bad news. I kept all this in mind and hoped for my best effort, or at least a passable one, because this stuff right here… you know, saffron….
is freaking EXPENSIVE! I did my research and found out that it’s the most expensive spice in the world by weight because it has to be cultivated by hand. By hand?!? I instantly understood the high price then. I read that some of the other bloggers tried substituting cinnamon for the saffron. I guess this could be a solution if you didn’t want to fork over all those extra dollars. From what I’ve read though, do not try to substitute turmeric for the saffron unless you desire your meal to be inedible.
I had to use bacon in place of pancetta because I couldn’t find it at my local store. I think maybe the bacon contributed to the risotto being just a little too salty. I’m real sensitive to the taste of salt though, my Mom used as little as she could in cooking when I was growing up and we NEVER, EVER had a salt shaker on the table. To this day, it absolutely floors me when I see someone get served a meal and immediately go for the salt before even tasting their food.
Anyway, my risotto came out browner than some of the other pictures I’ve seen of it on the net, maybe the bacon was to blame for the darker color too. Other than the overage of salt, this was damn good. The butternut squash gave a semi-sweet element that was a nice contrast. The risotto may have been a little thick because I over stirred, but if it was I didn’t notice that much. Another five star recipe from Ina, I’m starting to believe this woman can do no wrong.
Thanks to Rachel for choosing this recipe. It definitely pushed me in a new culinary direction and I’m glad. My cooking skills seriously are lacking in comparison to my baking skills so anything new is a big learning experience for me. Coming up soon for the Barefoot Bloggers is Vegetable Pot Pie chosen by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen! Stay tuned…
Ina Garten’s Butternut Squash Risotto
1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Click here for directions!
On a related note: Unfortunately, I’ve had to drop out of a few of the food blogging groups I was a member of. Being a part of so many different ones eventually proved to be too much after a while and I was really struggling to keep up. I’ve decided to only do Tuesdays with Dorie and Barefoot Bloggers from now on.
Also, one more thing…
Thanks so much to the both of you for passing along this award to me. It really means a lot to get recognition from fellow bloggers who I truly admire!
Since Val of More Than Burnt Toast was the winner of the Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe Challenge for October, she got to choose an optional bonus recipe for all the bloggers to try out. I was kind of happy inside when I saw that Ina’s Easy Cheese Danish was Val’s selection. I go in and out of Cheese Danish obsessions from time to time where I crave one every day. Taste wise, I love when this particular obsession hits. Weight wise… um, not so much!
The word “easy” is in the title of this recipe and I found out that Ina does not lie. Frozen puff pastry is one of the best culinary conveniences in the world. Without a product like this, we’d be chilling, folding, chilling and folding dough in our kitchens for hours on end. While it’s very satisfying to actually pull off making pastry doughs, sometimes it’s great to just catch a break. Love you, Pepperidge Farm! (Tip: just remember you have to plan to leave yourself about 45 minutes to thaw the dough out first.) The cheese filling is made up of a few ingredients that you simply mix together in your mixing bowl. After assembly and one 15 minute chilling period, you’re 20 minutes away from breakfast. I would recommend making these the night before so all you have to do in the morning is heat the oven and bake.
Changes I made: used dried lemon zest instead of fresh, used low fat cream cheese and ricotta, and vanilla bean paste.
I made these for a Sunday morning breakfast in bed for my boyfriend. Awww, aren’t I sweet? They went over really well. There was a *tad* too much puff pastry around the edges for me, so next time I would spread the cheese filling out a bit more. Other than that one tiny personal complaint, these were awesome!!
And with that, the October Bonus Recipe is complete. Tonight, I plan on catching up on the Butternut Squash Risotto that I missed a couple of weeks ago. Make sure you stop by More Than Burnt Toast to see what Val had to say about her choice. Then make your way over to the Barefoot Bloggers blogroll to see what everyone else is up to.
Ina Garten’s Easy Cheese Danish
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 T ricotta cheese
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 – 1 T grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place the cream cheese & sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment and cream together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don’t whip!
Unfold one sheet of pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it’s a 10×10 inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold two opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.
Bake the puff pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.
Makes 8 Danish
In my late teens, I worked in a small, locally owned coffee shop and biscotti was always a very popular purchase. At the time, I didn’t understand it’s appeal. I thought it was too trendy, dry, crispy, and just not good. As I got a little older, I gave biscotti another try and (like most foods I thought I hated) found that it wasn’t that bad.
I had never attempted making biscotti at home. I mean, it’s so easy to buy during my daily Starbucks run, it’s right there at the register for like a dollar. Well… Starbucks already lost a Madeleines customer to TWD (I haven’t bought them there since) and now they have lost a biscotti customer as well. It’s just too cheap and easy to make at home and Dorie’s recipe is a definite winner. The one downside I see to all this homemade business is that before I just bought ONE and would only eat ONE. Now, making this stuff myself, I have fifteen biscotti sitting here and I just ate four in a row.
So after eating four in a row, I can say that I loved this recipe. It’s one of my top favorites from the group so far. Then again, I’m very partial to sweets made from just the most basic baking ingredients like flour, sugar, butter, eggs and extracts. So really it was no surprise for me, I expected this to be one of my faves. My dough spread a lot in the oven so my advice would be to stick very closely to Dorie’s rectangle measurements, unless you want super thin biscotti like mine. I know I made my rectangle 12 inches long but it was fatter than it should have been so when it spread, it spread big. The second bake time seemed a little off maybe. Next time, I would bake longer so they might crisp up a little more.
I will say though that this is the first time one of Dorie’s recipes left me kind of confused. Usually everything in her directions is so detailed that nothing can be misconstrued and you don’t even need pictures to determine what things should look like. In this one though, it was the whole “stand them up like a marching band” thing. I was like “huh?!?” Now, I’ve seen marching bands in my lifetime but maybe I haven’t seen enough because I kind of stood in my kitchen unsure of what to do for a few seconds. I ended up just cutting and separating them a little bit and baked them like that. It all worked out fine.
Thanks go out to Gretchen for picking Lenox Almond Biscotti for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection. Make sure you stop Gretchen’s blog Canela & Comino to see the recipe and read what she thought about her choice.
For next week, Kelly of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp has selected Pumpkin Muffins!!
This past Friday night, I went to the monthly dinner party hosted by one of my friends at work. It’s always a total blast getting together with my co-workers and seeing how we act when outside the confines of our cubicles. I’ve found that a group of friends made up of people you work with have many different personality types and quirks, so there’s hardly ever a dull or unfunny moment. Usually, we have a set activity that is planned for us to do like playing Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Family Feud, or Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader. Sometimes we’ll even watch umpteen Mary Tyler Moore episodes in a row which draws much criticism from all in attendance… which completely surprises the host of the party (and I love every minute of it). This last time a girl brought over her Wii for all of us to try out. I’ve seen it and heard about the Wii but had never played it myself. Turns out I’m quite the Wii All Star Athlete. We played Soccer, Baseball, Bowling, Tennis, Golf, Bull Riding and a few other things. I thought the Wii Fit was interesting, although I’m not sure how great of a workout it would actually be. I entertained the thought of getting the Wii Fit for myself. I mean, with all these desserts like this that I’ve been churning out in the last few months, a girl’s gotta do something.
Anyway, Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy chose Dorie’s Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie. Sure, I’m a big fan of brownies but I’m not that big of a fan of peanuts (or any kind of nuts) in desserts so I was kind of lukewarm about this one. I was more interested in making my own caramel for this than anything else, which I gloriously burned to black on my first attempt and smoked up the house in the process. Go me! My second attempt I decreased the temperature and kept a close eye on it and everything turned out ok.
I totally forgot to add the heavy cream to the caramel topping mixture. Me? Forget something? No way! So my topping got hard really quick and I didn’t figure it out for a while what the problem was. I was eating (awesome tasting) peanut brittle on top of a semi-dry cake. It tasted good, but probably would have been better had I not scaled the recipe down into a quarter and left out a crucial ingredient from the main component. At any rate, I’m glad I made it. Note to self: cannot watch television anymore while baking as it causes too many problems with burned/missed ingredients.
Thanks go out to Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy for selecting the Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake! Please stop by her blog to check out the recipe and to see what she thought about her choice. For next week, Gretchen of Canela & Comino has chosen Lenox Almond Biscotti. Yee ha!
This post is dedicated to my new nose ring.
Oh yeah. Seriously, what an awesome choice Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake made for this week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe. I love, love, love Crème Brûlée with all my heart. It’s got simple ingredients, great texture differences and the flavor possibilities are endless (although I prefer mine plain). Plus, even if you’re totally stuffed from dinner, you can always manage to squeeze some in since it’s so light. At restaurants, if it’s on the menu, it’s what I’m getting for dessert. Unless Key Lime Pie is also on the menu, then an inner turmoil is created and Key Lime Pie usually wins out (I’m on some sort of weird quest for finding that “perfect” restaurant slice).
Anyway, I’ve made “burnt cream” a few times at home, and almost always Alton Brown’s version. I’m so used to baking the dishes in a water bath that it threw me when it wasn’t in Dorie’s directions. I read and re-read the recipe, for sure that I missed it somewhere. But I didn’t, the dishes just cook in a 200 degree oven for about an hour, which is kind of nice. I mean, cooking in a water bath is no big deal but it’s great to be able to cut steps here and there. From start to finish, this was a breeze to make. What a relief too, because I got home from work late Monday night and had to rush to get this started. What else is new? I feel like a broken record.
I LOVED this! Again, Dorie does not disappoint.
Stop by Mevrouw Cupcake to see the recipe and what Mari thought of her choice. For next week, it’s Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake selected by Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy. By the way, if you’ve been following Tuesday with Dorie and have been interested in joining but haven’t done it yet, now is the time since membership to the group will close as of October 31st. See you next Tuesday!