Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Tale of Two Cupcake Pans...

I am not sure what it says about me that this is what I find interesting these days, but oh well, I am okay with it.

I baked some cupcakes to bring with us to my brother and sister-in-law's house today. Nothing overly ambitious, and I didn't even frost them (I thought that would be fun to do with little miss and the other little girl who would be there, too). So this isn't even a post about the actual cupcakes...

Instead, I am really just talking about the pans. There was enough batter for 24 cupcakes, and each cupcake pan I have makes 12 cupcakes. These are the two pans:

(this is an after-shot of them, in case you were curious...)

Anyway, as you can see, one is dark, the other light. Light and dark pans cook differently. Most recipes actually tell you that, if you are using a dark pan, you should lower your oven temperature by 25 degrees. I had a few options. I could bake one pan, change oven temp, then bake the second pan. Or I could bake one pan, clean it, and re-use it for the other half of the batter. I was too lazy for either of these options and chose, instead, to just bake them both at the same time. Halfway through the baking time I rotated the pans and switched which oven rack they were on, so each one got equal heat distribution.

Here is how they turned out:

They are on the cooling rack the way the pans are laid out in the picture above. You can actually tell the difference between the ones cooked in each pan! Huh!

Okay, so maybe you won't find it as interesting as I did... And I should probably use just one of the pans next time...

But in case you were wondering, both sets of cupcakes tasted delicious. And you couldn't tell the difference once they were smothered with chocolate frosting.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Leftovers and Banana Bread

Today was a day of making fridge space after a week of big meals. Which is another way of saying leftovers. But we try not to make leftovers too boring around here. I mean, you can have the same thing without feeling like you are having the same thing, right?

For lunch yesterday we had French Toast. Little miss was surprised when I suggested it, informing me that French Toast is a breakfast food. I told her we could bend the rules on that one, so she said okay. Well I made more than we could eat yesterday, so we had it again today. Only this time, the pieces were cut into French Toast sticks, and covered with peanut butter and honey. See? Totally different. And always a hit, since it is messy finger food. Only a little honey got in her hair...

As for dinner, earlier this week, I made a huge pork shoulder roast in the crock pot. Yum. The only problem with a huge pork roast, though, is the vast quantity of leftovers it generates. And it does get a little old after a couple of meals. So we try not to serve it the same way two meals in a row, to avoid, you know, getting sick of it. So tonight's dinner prep involved a whole bunch of chopping, but other than that, nothing at all complicated. Pork stir-fry, Chinese style. Served over brown rice, it is a complete meal in one pan. We make this with leftover chicken or turkey, too - whatever we happen to have had in a given week. Really easy, super yummy, and generally a crowd pleaser. And it helps get rid of lots of leftover meat.

In other kitchen events today, I needed to do something with these:

I have a banana bread recipe that is good, but thought maybe I would try a new one. So over to foodgawker I clicked, searching for a yummy looking recipe. I narrowed it down to three, then let my ever-ready assistant look at the three pictures and pick which one looked best. She chose this one, and we got to work. I doubled the recipe, since we are heading to my brother and sister-in-law's house for a visit this weekend, so figured I'd make one for us and one to bring along. I also, in case you are curious, replaced 1/4 of the white sugar with brown sugar. Just for a little added depth of flavor. Little miss measured, mixed, whisked, and, of course, helped me mash the bananas.

After pouring half the batter into the first pan, I decided to add some fresh blueberries to the remaining batter for the second loaf. We had 'em in the house, so why not? I have to tell you, these smelled so yummy baking, I couldn't wait to cut into them. I let my helper choose which one to break into for snack time today and which to bring with us this weekend. She chose the blueberry one to try today. After which I decided that I should have made both loaves with blueberries. SO good. This will definitely be breakfast tomorrow. And snack. And afternoon nosh... I don't see this lasting all that long in the house.

Banana Bread
(from Foy Update)

1/4 cup butter (room temperature is best)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg (room temperature is best)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour (all purpose)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mashed banana (one ripe banana)
1/2 tablespoon buttermilk (you can use sour cream, or you can add a couple of drops of white vinegar or lemon juice to your milk to substitute for buttermilk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan (9" x 5")
In medium bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the egg, vanilla and buttermilk and mix until smooth.
In a separate bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.
Add the dry mixture and the mashed banana to the butter mixture. Add a little at a time and mix after each addition. Mix until ingredients are just incorporated, being careful not to overwork the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes until it tests done.
Remove the bread from the pan immediately and cool on wire rack for at least five minutes before cutting.

You can add nuts, fruit or even chocolate chips to the batter, if you would like.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January Daring Bakers' Challenge - Nanaimo Bars

Well, here we go - my first Daring Bakers' Challenge post!

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

Now, what, you might be asking, is a Nanaimo Bar. That was my first question at least. My second was "how do you pronounce nanaimo?" (the answer to that one is nuh-nay-mo, according to As for what these are, the answer is SWEET. They are a three-layer dessert bar that is very rich, very sweet and very tasty.

The bottom layer of the bar is made with graham cracker crumbs, and the first part of the challenge was to make our own graham crackers. I was really excited about that, since that had been something on my baking wish list for a while. Every recipe that I have seen for graham crackers, this one included, calls for a food processor, which I don't have, which is why I haven't tried them before. But for the challenge, I proceeded anyway, hand mixing the dry ingredients and thoroughly cutting in the butter by hand. Little miss helped with the whisking, and had the job of tossing the cold cubes of butter into the dry ingredients. She also helped measure the milk and honey and whisk together the wet ingredients... I have to say, it is fun to let her be more actively involved when she wants to be.

Now, the recipe specifies that once everything is all mixed together, the resulting dough is supposed to be soft and sticky. It actually says very soft and sticky. My dough? Not so much. In fact, in gathering it all together in preparation for refrigerating the dough overnight, mine was dry and crumbly. Uh oh. I was a little worried. I wrapped the dough and put it in the fridge then proceeded to worry about what I could have messed up. I was so worried, as a matter of fact, that before going to bed, I made another batch of dough. I knew I'd proceed with the first batch, just to see what would happen, but I didn't want to not be able to keep going with the rest of the recipe, so, you know, better safe than sorry. I used 1/2 a cup less flour the second time and the dough was definitely softer and stickier, so I was pleased that it would be a good backup dough if needed.

The next morning I rolled and cut the first batch of dough. I didn't worry about the shapes or uniformity of the sizes, since the actual bars call for these to be crushed into crumbs. Considering that the dough was not at all the consistency that the recipe indicated, the finished product came out pretty well! They don't taste exactly like the store-bought graham crackers, but they are tasty, and you can bet I will continue trying to get these right. (In case you are wondering, yes, I also rolled and baked the second batch of dough, but purposely baked them to be softer and more cookie-ish, just for a change of pace...)

Now on to the actual Nanaimo Bars. The bottom layer is a mixture of graham cracker crumbs, coconut, crushed nuts (which I replaced with honey crunch wheat germ), cocoa, butter... all yummy stuff, all melted and mixed together to make a solid base.

The second layer is basically a slightly thicker buttercream frosting - butter and confectioners sugar, with a little heavy cream and custard powder (I used cornstarch and vanilla extract instead, I would have no other use for custard powder) mixed in.

And the top layer? Melted chocolate, softened up with a little bit of butter. Um, yeah, these aren't exactly diet friendly bars. Butter is a key ingredient in all three layers. Yum.

Popped these into the fridge for a couple hours and tried them after dinner. My favorite was the bottom layer. Little Miss's favorite was the middle layer (no surprise there!). Then, wanting more opinions on them, I brought some to the gym with me that night, since one of my favorite taste testers was working that night. What? You don't bring butter-rich desserts to the gym with you? To give to their employees? Hmm. Anyway, she loved them. I also brought them with me to my in-laws' house for them to have for dessert the following night. Got thumbs up all around.

So thank you, Lauren, for a really fun and interesting challenge, and for introducing my family to this Canadian dessert!

And now I can't wait to see what next month's challenge is.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Veggie Lasagna

One thing that you should know is that we are all pretty much carnivores in this house. It is very rare (pun completely unintentional...) that dinner does not involve some kind of meat. So when my husband requested veggie lasagna when we were putting together our weekly meal plan, I was a little surprised. Not unhappy, mind you, but definitely surprised!

Would you believe that I have never made a veggie lasagna? I usually make a plain cheese lasagna, with some kind of meat on the side, of course, and have made lasagna with meat sauce, but I have never actually made a veggie one. Funny, huh?

So after a trip to Produce Junction yesterday, we were all ready. I am pretty fortunate that little miss seems to be a budding photographer, and knows how to work my digital camera (probably better than I do...), so I can provide you with this cool action shot of me chopping mushrooms. Those were added to the onions, green peppers and eggplant already in the pan and cooked into something that looked yummy enough to eat all on its own. I added that on top of two of the three ricotta layers while building the lasagna.

So here's how it turned out. And can I just tell you how heavy that pan was? Super tasty, too. Even to this family of carnivores.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Today was pretty exciting. Today was the day that we got to see if the science experiment we've been working on for almost the entire last week would yield edible results. And it worked!

Remember this?

Doesn't exactly look appetizing, I know. But that is nature hard at work, turning regular flour and water into a live culture, a form of wild yeast that is then, five days later, turned into this:

Umm... not much more appetizing, is it...?

Bear with me. Those bubbles were actually exciting to me. It meant that my culture was alive and kicking... or... fermenting... or something. It meant that the culture was active, which meant that I did something right. Woohoo! And, believe it or not, by last night, it turned into something that actually looked recognizable - like actual dough being worked into something you might consider eating... you know, at some point.

Last night it looked like this:

Kinda cool, huh?

So this dough was rolled.

And shaped.

And coated with an egg wash.

And finally baked. To become these:


These were another selection from our bread book, and as you can probably guess, the main ingredient in these (other than flour...) was time. Days to cultivate and feed the culture. Hours or resting in between layers being rolled and folded. Another day before they could be shaped, and hours to let them proof before being baked. But I am pretty proud of these. I made half regular croissants and half chocolate, and they are pretty tasty. Not quite as flaky as I'd expected, but definitely delicious. And, even considering all of the time (and flour), I will definitely make these again.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My many kitchen helpers

It's amazing how many helpers I have in my kitchen on any given day. They're all about the same size, but with a little imagination and many changes of clothes, they answer to many different names. There's a ballerina, a swimmer, animals of all sorts, vehicles of all design (trucks, trains - oh yes, they help in my kitchen), and the occasional dinosaur or monster.

Today my helper was a superhero. Yup. Spiderman stopped by and helped me shake up some chick peas to roast up for our salad tonight. And they were yummy! Thanks, Spiderman!

And in case you were wondering... that science experiment I mentioned last week? Is going very well. Stay tuned to see how it turns out!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Quite a while ago, I really don't remember exactly when, I decided that I really wanted to try to make homemade marshmallows. I looked up a whole bunch of recipes online. The more recipes I looked at, the more apprehensive I became. I cook, I bake, but these recipes were about candy making. Talking about the various stages of melted sugar - soft ball stage, hard ball stage - which stage you want, which stage you want to avoid... It was pretty intimidating. Like boiling sugar isn't scary enough, what with the burning potential, the risk of having to turn away for a moment and ruining the whole thing, well... it kept me away from marshmallow making. Though I did buy myself some unflavored gelatin and a lovely candy thermometer, just in case the moment hit where I had the urge, the nerve and the time to try...

A couple of weeks ago, my wonderful mother in law called me and told me to quick run down and turn on the Martha Stewart show - she was making marshmallows! Go! Watch! Well, heck! How could I NOT?? Little miss and I hurried down the stairs, found the right channel, and watched Martha (and special guest Claire Danes, I might add!) make marshmallows. Oh. My. Gosh. No candy thermometer. No stage-watching. A simple, straightforward recipe yielding, at least in the expert hands of Martha Stewart, light, fluffy, beautiful marshmallows.

Yup. You guessed it. Hurried up the stairs and made them right then. SO worth it. I will never buy marshmallows again.

Fast forward to last week, I had the first ever parent-teacher conference for little miss. For preschool. That's right, she's three and a half, and we had a parent-teacher conference. A little weird. Anyway, in between the teacher telling me how wonderful my child is (woo hoo!), she was telling me about the craft they did that week - they colored in pictures of cups of cocoa while talking about winter and what not. And she told me that on the next school day, they would add cotton-ball marshmallows to the cups. So what do I do? Offer to send in marshmallows for snack time. So snack would match the craft. Because I am a nerd like that.

Little miss was so excited to be bringing in a treat for her class, and even more excited to help make that treat. Her job was to help me roll the cut marshmallows in powdered sugar. Which we did this morning before heading off to school. Which is why she was still in her pajamas. Which was actually a smart thing, as it turns out. Me? I was dressed already. In a black sweater. Which looked kinda... gray, what with the coating of powdered sugar it had on it by the time we were done... But hey, it was all in good fun, and her class loved the special treat. So it's all good.

And while I am here, can I please tell you about the delicious dinner we had last night? I tried the Daring Cooks Challenge recipe from January, despite the fact that my membership to the challenge began the day after that challenge closed. Doesn't mean I can't still make it, right? The recipe was for satay, which is a Thai dish, and which I know my husband really likes. I chose to make it with chicken, rather than pork, and to make a peanut dipping sauce to go with it. I cut the spiciness a little bit, just to make it a little more three-year-old friendly, but otherwise, didn't change anything. Delicious. We will be keeping this one.

Vanilla Marshmallows

3 1/4-ounce pouches unflavored gelatin (3 tablespoons, if you buy in bulk)
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup water (separately from the 1/2 cup above)
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

Lightly spray a 9" x 9" baking pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with plastic wrap, leaving a two inch overhant on all sides. Set the pan aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, sprinkle the gelatin over the 1/2 cup of cold water and let it stand for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the 1/4 cup water, sugar and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and allow it to boil rapidly for 1 minute. Remove the syrup from the heat and, with the mixer on high, slowly pour the boiling syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into the gelatin mixture. Add the salt and continue mixing on high for 12 minutes.
Add the vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds and continue to mix until well combined. Spray a rubber spatula or your hands with cooking spray. Spread the marshmallow mixture evenly into the prepared pan using the sprayed spatula (or hands). Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place, spray side down, on top of marshmallows. Let stand for 2 hours (or overnight)
Carefully remove the marshmallows from the pan. You can discard all of the plastic wrap. Cut the marshmallows into desired shapes/sizes and roll them in confectioners sugar to coat.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What's a Scherben?

Through my recent foodgawking, not only have I found some great recipes, but I have learned that there are some really cool sites on the web where bakers and cooks come together and challenge themselves and each other to try new things. How did foodgawker teach me this? Several times a month, I noticed that many different food bloggers were sharing pictures of the same thing. At first I thought it was coincidence... then I started clicking through and reading the posts. While there are the occasional coincidences, I have found that for the most part, these were actually different food bloggers taking part in various food challenges and sharing their results. How fun!

The first one I found was the Daring Kitchen. With sections for both cooking and baking, this provides a once-a-month challenge, with the members taking turns "hosting" - ie: finding a fun, new recipe, determining the challenge guidelines and helping teach the other members about a new recipe, style of food, technique, or idea for presentation. Very cool. I signed up for this one. Stay tuned as I dare to be a Daring Cook and Daring Baker!

The other one that I have seen on a recurring basis is Tuesdays With Dorie. In a similar fashion, member food-bloggers take turns challenging the members to try new recipes, though this time all of the recipes are from a specific cookbook, Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan, and the challenge (as the title indicates) is weekly, rather than monthly. I didn't register for this one, not wanting to commit myself to too much all at once, but that doesn't mean that I am not totally inspired by the pictures I have seen of others' results, nor that I won't be looking for this book on my next trip to a bookstore!

So what does this have to do with today? Well, at the end of the week, both my husband and I were intrigued by pictures of a dessert that we were seeing several of. They looked like puffed, fried dough, covered in powdered sugar, very similar to a one-time favorite of my husband's sister. We decided that this would be what we would bring as dessert to Sunday's weekly family dinner. And it happened to have been last week's Tuesdays With Dorie challenge, called Mrs. Vogel's Scherben.

This is actually a pretty simple recipe, with very few ingredients and a very straightforward process. The kicker? Deep frying in a pot of canola oil can be a bit scary... burns, grease fires... none of these are things that I usually associate with fun. But they looked really good. And people fry things all the time. So we proceeded.

We made the dough last night, and then got down to the real fun today. First we rolled the dough:

Then we cut the dough:

Then we chilled the dough. Not an exciting picture.
Then came the really cool part.
Then we fried the dough:

It was really cool to watch these puff up and turn golden brown - I was pretty amazed! And to make it even better, you then sprinkle on cinnamon sugar. And what could be better than that? A dusting of powdered sugar, too! I have to tell you, these went over really well. Despite the double coating of sugar, these aren't overly sweet, and they are amazingly light. Which is not necessarily a good thing... I kind of lost count of how many I ate while drinking tea and enjoying fun times with the family. And I don't think I am the only one who kept reaching into the pan... Yum.

The next time I make these (oh yes, there will definitely be a next time!), I may try baking them instead of frying, as some of the participating food bloggers did. Just to see the difference.

But if you are looking for a really fun treat, definitely give these a try!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Works in progress...

We've been busy in the kitchen around here, but I don't have too much to show for it. It is quite an odd phenomenon. My mixing bowls, measuring cups and ingredients have been getting a workout, but the mixer is silent, the oven is cold and we've been eating leftovers and all of the previously completed goodies that we have laying around.

So what have we been doing?

Well, for starters... well... making a starter! Yes, I know, it looks more like a science experiment than like something you want to eat, but guess what - it's both. This is what will be a "liquid levain," which will then be made into a sourdough starter, which will then be used as the leavening agent for some seriously yummy looking and sounding breads. And don't be fooled by the "sourdough" name - I fully intend to make something sweet out of this. But we will get to that later. As for now, we're cultivating wild yeast to make a traditional, authentic culture which will hopefully make for some yummy tasting bread products.

We also made some dough tonight to make a fun dessert to bring to dinner with the family tomorrow night. I don't want to give much away, since, well, it isn't done yet, but just know that we were hard at work tonight pulling things together so we can try to make a fun dessert for everyone. The ball of dough is currently resting in the refrigerator, to be further manipulated and cajoled into a tasty concoction tomorrow. I promise I will tell you the real scoop once it is done.

I just didn't want anyone thinking that we slack off around here on the weekends...

Friday, January 15, 2010


One of my favorite online destinations these days also happens to be a major source of inspiration for so many of the recipes we've been trying around here in recent months. I am so addicted to this site, and, I apologize in advance, but I think you probably will be very soon, too... if you aren't already.

In their own words,
" is a gallery where food bloggers can showcase their food and photography skills."

Don't click through if you are hungry. Or... don't say I didn't warn you.

My husband discovered this site first. He started e-mailing me links to recipes that he wanted me to try, and I started wondering where in the world he was finding so many delicious looking ideas. Turns out he was foodgawking. And now, I am addicted to it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Burgers and Fries... the slightly healthier versions...

How can you make burgers and fries healthier? Well, I am not claiming to be a nutritionist, nor do I claim that this was a diet-friendly meal, but if you are going to go burgers and fries, this definitely takes a little bit of the guilt away...

Let's start with the fries. Regular fries are delicious. But if you are up for something really, truly yummy, ditch the potatoes and grab a butternut squash. Yup. Squash. Sweet, tasty, and actually chock full of healthy goodness. And really easy to make. Peel the squash, slice it up, cut the slices into fries, make sure to scoop out all the seeds, put the fries into a zippy bag, add some extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle on your spices of choice (today we used a little salt and a little cinnamon sugar - these can totally go either sweet or savory!), cook in a high oven (400* is good) for about an hour - presto. Yum. And totally kid friendly, both to make and to eat. Little miss loves to scoop seeds, sprinkle spices and shake the bag. And offer encouragement to her mommy to be extra careful with the knife...

As for the burgers? Ground turkey instead of ground beef. Okay, that isn't exactly revolutionary or surprising... but I want you to remember the positive, healthy parts of this burger before I admit that it was a bacon-cheeseburger. On which I put mayo, ketchup and mustard. But, you know, I had my veggies, too - in the form of lettuce, tomato and avocado piled deliciously on top. Little miss, in case you were wondering, skipped the condiments, but also skipped the tomato and avocado... But put a salad's worth of lettuce on her burger, and ate every single bite.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Play-Date Fare - Granola Bars

We are invited to a play-date tomorrow, and I hate to go anywhere empty handed. So I thought I would try out a recipe that I've been wanting to try for a couple of months now, but haven't gotten around to - homemade granola bars!

One of my awesome online friends shared this recipe, and then I happened to find it online, too, so if you are interested, you can find it here. I knew from my friend and from the comments on the site that these would be very crunchy, and I wasn't sure if the other kids with whom we will be sharing them like crunchy or chewy... so I followed some of the advice listed in the comments to make them a bit chewier... I added half cup of applesauce, and also followed the tip of not spreading the batter in the entire pan - I used foil to make a barrier to cut about two inches off of the length (so it would have been a 9" x 11" pan, rather than the 9" x 13" that it really is).

One of the fun things about this recipe was how easy it was. So easy that, for the most part, little miss could do the first half of it by herself. Which was really cool.

But what was the MOST fun about this recipe was the part that said "Mix well using your hands." Oh yes. Permission to dive into the ooey, gooey, honey goodness with her fingers. I think she thought I was kidding when I told her to go for it. Yes, we washed our hands very well first. And yes, we also made sure to wash our hands very well afterwards, too, seeing as there is an egg in there.

So how did they come out? Decent. I probably should have followed the recipe as written and made them crunchy, so that I could get a better feel for the taste. Or maybe they needed more honey... I will have to play with the recipe a bit to figure out the right balance. Which means they are definitely good enough to make again, but next time, they will be better.

Granola Bars
(from Allrecipes)

2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
(optional - 1/2 cup apple sauce)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9" x 13" baking pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut the bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Quiet Kitchen Day

So I had intended for today to be a boring, quiet, no-real-cooking day. After the week my kitchen has had, I thought it deserved a break. And... well... I don't have enough containers or counter space to store too many more baked goods... So we did all kinds of other fun things today.

We painted a sun-catcher:

We played Play-Doh:

We gave each other mani/pedis:

But you gotta eat, right? In the spirit of being kind to the kitchen, tonight's dinner was a crock pot specialty - stew. Perfect for a cold winter day, not too tough to assemble early in the morning (though I do always find it funny to be browning beef at 8 AM...), always delicious.

The thing is, I still wanted to make French Toast out of those baguettes from yesterday. But that doesn't use the oven, so it was fair game, right? And it doesn't make any leftovers, so I figured I was safe. We didn't have time to be that involved for breakfast, so lunch it was, which meant we could get a little more creative. I decided to try stuffed French Toast. I looked up a couple of recipes, and really wanted to use some of the strawberries we have in the fridge... so I decided to improvise. A little cream cheese on each piece of bread, some sliced strawberries in the middle, then dip the sandwich in the milk/egg dip. I have to admit... I was a little worried about all of the egg cooking all the way through, since the egg soaks into the whole sandwich, yet only one side of each piece of bread cooks directly on the heat... but slightly lower heat than usual French Toast and keep each side of the sandwich on the pan a little longer than usual... no raw egg left. And it turned out pretty yummy! The sandwiches fell apart a bit when we cut into them, but it was a pretty tasty lunch.

And as for our crock pot stew? Delish. Served over polenta, it was the perfect dinner for a freezing winter night.

I hope my kitchen enjoyed the day off.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bread Day

For Christmas I gifted my husband with a bread book, Local Breads by Daniel Leader. I just started making our bread within the last several months, and we do love to expand our bread repertoire. So the book was given with the understanding that if he found recipes that looked fun or delicious or interesting, I would try to make them for him. There is a lot about bread-making that I don't know, but I thought this could be a fun way to learn more. I mean, as a gift to him...

This weekend, he went through the book and picked out those recipes that looked yummiest, and thus topped his list of those that he wants me to try first, and I promised I would make one today. But then we also ran out of sandwich bread, and I realized I would need to make more of that, also. Not wanting to back down from my promise, I decided I would make both.

The sandwich bread came first. I now have a standard, go-to recipe for white bread that is absolutely delicious. I did, however, come across a different recipe recently that I wanted to try, so I figured I might as well go for it today. The recipe is straightforward, and I followed the advice given in the notes regarding lengthening the rise times and shortening the cook times. Very helpful hints.

This bread came out really well - my helper and I sampled it at snack time today. I am always so proud when bread I make rises well, slices well and tastes good. And this one did all three. I don't think it will replace my go-to recipe, but I do think that it will be added to the bread rotation here.

Once the sandwich bread was made, it was time to tackle Daddy's request - baguettes. While it is a relatively simple recipe, the author is very serious about his bread. As well he should be, considering that bread is what he does for a living. I, however, am not a professional, and don't have bread peels and stones and all of the things that he specifies. But we did our best and tried to make do.

Since this bread didn't require any punching, my helper did some measuring and mixing for me. And other than measuring and mixing, the main thing we had to do with this recipe was wait. So we filled our time as best we could.

Playing dress up, doing some ballet, playing silly felt board games...

And after all that waiting, we actually baked some bread. I gotta tell you, That Daniel Leader does know what he is talking about. These baguettes really tasted like... well, baguettes! With a good texture and crust and a nice soft inside... all with only four ingredients. Yum.

So now that we have way too much bread in the house, I think we'll be having French Toast for breakfast tomorrow... Stay tuned!
Related Posts with Thumbnails