Tuesday, January 27, 2015

{TWD: BCM} Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

Have you ever made anything with brown butter? I accidentally made brown butter once or twice when I over cooked the melted butter for mac and cheese. The first time I remember having brown butter on purpose was at My Spam and Anchovies Comfort Food night. Sara brought Brown Butter Cookie Dough Pretzel Squares. They did not last long! The next time I remember having brown butter was at my cooking club's Greekfest at Beth's house. Hmmm.. something about cooking with friends brings out the brown butter. :) Once again a dish everyone loved! When I saw brown butter in the title of this weekend cake I knew it would be delicious! The slightly nutty flavor went perfectly with the vanilla.

Speaking of vanilla...I did not have any vanilla beans on hand but had a Sahale vanilla powder sample from the IFBC conference. It was exactly what I needed for this cake.

The best part of this cake? It was easy! There is something to be said for the recipes that take time and have lots of steps but when you are hours away from heading to a New Years Eve party easy is just the ticket. I could have let this rest before baking to enhance the flavor even more but I didn't and it was wonderful. My hubster and kiddos grabbed all of the edge pieces that were left behind after I cut the cake.
My hilarious, incredibly smarty pants friend Sara and her equally hilarious, mohawked husband Travis invited us over for New Years Eve. If you ever want to talk literature Sara is your girl! She is working on her doctorate right now and is even more in love with reading than me. She even bought my sister's first novel that came out this week! My daughter is planning on reading the Cinder series so Sara encouraged her to read the original fairy tale first, which she had at home so Munchkin was able to read it that evening. Travis runs Stedicam for all kinds of awesome places! The two of them have the smartest, cutest, sassiest,  superhero loving girl you have ever seen. So you know we were in for a fun night and then the Twilight plates made an appearance and the night was complete! I mean who doesn't want to cover up Bella and Edwards faces with brown butter vanilla weekend cake with salted caramel from Seattle? ;) But wait! Our night was not complete! We had to set off fireworks! We all had so much fun setting them off! I took a few photos and we let Travis do the lighting. One shot off in an unexpected direction which made us all laugh hysterically. The kids lit sparklers and did monster pops, the people across the street watched while throwing fireworks into their fire. It was a perfectly lovely night I think the brown butter vanilla weekend cake tied it all together! Of course it could have been the company with the addition of the lovely cake. :) 

This is my first week back to Tuesdays with Dorie in a little while. I have every intention of making each of the recipes I have missed but this was a great one to jump back in on. Check out the recipe in Baking Chez Moi and check out the LYL to see how other bakers liked this cake this week!

PS. If you click the links below and order I get a small percentage of the purchase.

Monday, January 26, 2015

{Blogging for Books} It Was Me All Along

The very first thing I have to say about the author of this book is how very personable she is. While on instagram I saw Jessica of  My Baking Heart had posted a photo of this book. I commented that I was about to read this book also. Andie commented back to both of us! :) Of course she is an active food blogger and recipe creator. You can read more about her at her website here.
Photo courtesy of Jessica of My Baking Heart
I was immediately hooked when I sat down to read "It Was Me All Along". The vivid descriptions of her earliest memories with food were gripping and made me want to read more. I wanted to see how she got to the point where she is now. There was heartbreak, depression, friendship, love, loss, and an amazing journey. There were moments when I could see myself in what she was writing. I was amazed at her candor and transparency at the struggle. Andie Mitchell wrote an incredible memoir that anyone struggling with weight should read. Those not struggling with weight should read it to get a look at what someone struggling with weight loss and maintaining a weight loss might go through. She notes that everyone is different, everyone's struggles are different but she tells her story in a beautifully relatable way. Go get this book now!

I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books.

Friday, December 26, 2014

{Blogging for Books} The Pizza Bible

I like pizza. My husband loves pizza so when I saw this cookbook listed on Blogging for Books I had to have it! One of the first instructions is to read through all of the instructions before trying any of the recipes. So, I sat down and read through the introduction titled "Respect the Craft" and then I read through the Master Class section which includes "Gearing Up" "Equipment Checklist" "Tools of the Trade" a shopping list, theory, pro tips, ingredients, a "Go-To flour list" etc. 

Tony Gemignanai is an 11-Time World Pizza Champ and had "Respect the Craft" tattooed on his hands. He might be serious about his pizza. 

I have to admit after reading through everything I was a little intimidated by jumping into any of these recipes but as I gather supplies I am getting more excited. No matter what kind of pizza you like you can probably find a recipe for it in this book. Just don't be intimidated and you will have delicious pizza!

If you love to read you can get books too! I received this book from Blogging for Books for review.

{FFWD} Christmas Cards, Recipes, and Hamsters

For the second year in a row French Fridays with Dorie has had a Christmas card exchange. It is so fun getting cards from all over the world! This year if you wanted to you could include a recipe. I included Cracker Candy and Betsy of A Plateful of Happiness made it this week. My mom gave me the recipe 17 years ago. :) I decided to complete the recipe sent to me by Maria of Box of Stolen Socks from Athens Greece. She sent the recipe for Melomakarona - or Cinnamon and Orange Cookies Dipped in Honey Syrup.  Maria has beautiful photography on her site so you should definitely head over there and check out her posts.

I thought this would be a complicated recipe but it was not as difficult as I thought. I figured out that 1 kg of flour is 8 cups so I halved the recipe. I also got to use one of my favorite Christmas gifts (a digital kitchen scale) to measure out 100 grams of sugar! Of course my tween helped me make these so it was all very exciting!

Christmas was really fun this year. Bobby played guitar at a beautiful candlelight Christmas Eve service and then we looked at Christmas lights. Christmas day was a laid back day filled with family, fun, and reflection on what Christmas means to us. The kids got things they needed and wanted and were very happy with everything. They even got a bow and arrows and a Red Rider BB gun. Those will get plenty of use!

You might notice in the photo below that we have no ornaments on our tree. Since we have a kitten in the house we decided not to put anything breakable out. She likes to climb a lot and we were a little worried she would knock the tree over. We did end the night on a somber note though. Munchkin found our hamster, Peppa Sunshine, had decided it was time to go to hamster heaven. We don't really know what happened. The night before she was climbing all over her cage and doing her regular thing and last night she looked like she may have been burrowing and just died mid burrow. :( We had a little funeral for her in the front yard today. Hopefully that will give our kiddos a little closure on the era of the hamster. I hope your Christmas was lovely. If you celebrate another holiday I hope that one has been lovely as well! :) You must make Maria's Melomakarona right now! These will not last long at our house for sure.

Melomakarona - or Cinnamon and Orange Cookies Dipped in Honey Syrup
By Maria from Box of Stolen Socks

Ingredients for 50-60 Cookies
1 kg flour
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
200 gr sugar
1 cup cognac (or any other type brandy)
2 Tbls baking powder
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbls baking soda
zest of 2-3 oranges

For the Syrup
2 cups honey (preferably flower honey)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
1 big piece of orange peel
1 big piece of lemon peel

For decorating
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 TBls sugar

Preheat oven to 160C/320F

In a large bowl mix the sugar with olive oil, cognac, orange juice, and orange zest. Mix well using a whisk until sugar is completely dissolved.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. Mix well. Gradually add the flour mix to the olive oil mix. Knead softly. The dough has to be soft and oily. If it feels too hard add a little more orange juice or cognac.

Shape the cookies using your hands. The dough should not stick to your hands because of the oil. If it sticks you need to add a little more flour and olive oil. You can make the cookies round, about 5 cm/2 inches in diameter, or give them an oval shape and you can give them a design by pushing the back of a cheese grater onto them.

Lay the cookies on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven. They should be golden but not brown. Leave them to cool on the sheet and start preparing the syrup.

Put a pot on medium heat and add the honey, sugar, and water and let it come to a boil. Add the orange and lemon peel, lower the heat and let it boil for 5-10 minutes. During the boiling foam is going to form on the surface of the syrup. Remove it with a spoon and then add the cinnamon sticks and the cloves.

When the cookie have cooled completely, submerge a handful at a time, into the hot syrup. Leave them in ONLY for a few seconds and remove them. Let the excess syrup drain on a rack and then move them to a plate. Sprinkle with Chopped walnut, sugar and cinnamon mix.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Tis the Season...of sickness

We are free!! School is out for Christmas break which means we are able to turn off the alarm and enjoy each others company! You know...once we are all healthy again. Oh, one of those posts you say. Yep, one of those.

I started a cough right before Thanksgiving. I drank peppermint tea and sucked cough drops. It turned productive and then was almost gone. Then, wouldn't you know it! That darn cough came back with a vengeance and brought along its friends fever and chills. I talked to my mom who said "go to the doctor, you probably have bronchitis and while you are at it make sure to schedule that appointment you are supposed to get when you turn 40"! So I made an appointment and in the meantime asked facebook to diagnose me. I had several guesses for flu, bronchitis and pneumonia. Wouldn't you know it my doctor said I probably had the flu that turned into bronchitis. Moms are always right!

When I exited my appointment I decided to head to the big box store to pick up some essentials. However, as I was pulling into the parking lot I got a call from Little Mans school. He had a tummy ache. I have never been called to pick him up from school for being sick so I knew I needed to go get him. My poor little guy was white as a sheet and almost in tears. I took him with me to pick up my prescription for bronchitis and then brought him home. Poor guy threw up as soon as we walked in the door and slept on and off for the rest of the day. By 8 pm he was feeling great but still running a fever.

I had one of those precious moments with him though when he said "Mommy, will you sing to me while I go to sleep?" So sweet!

We are praying that being out of school for the next couple of weeks gives us all the chance to get healthy and stay healthy! Hopefully the school will be completely sanitized and ready for healthy kids in January,

Here is to a healthy Christmas and New year to you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

{TWD} Palets de Dames: Lille Style

Woo hoo! Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook "Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere" is out and this is the first Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from the book! I am hoping I can stick with this and complete the recipes in the book. If you have liked my posts in the past and thought "hey, I would like to do some baking!" Now would be a good time to jump on the bandwagon. You can click that link right up there are go to my amazon affiliate link to purchase it!

The first recipe selected from Baking Chez Moi was Palets de Dames: Lille Style. These little cookies were the perfect little snack. My kiddos snagged a couple of naked cookies while I was frosting the rest and gave a big thumbs up. There was some chill time for these but they were a snap to put together. The frosting had 3 ingredients and was quick to whip up. The cookies baked and cooled quickly. Apparently I have a problem with sprinkles though. I took a dozen of these to a sweet friend who has been letting my son stay with her after school until I can get him. Her daughter said she ate one before school and that they were delicious! I am hoping to share more of the treats I bake from this book. Don't worry, my family will not be like the cobblers children that have no shoes. They will still get plenty of treats but we do want to share.

Make sure to check out Tuesdays with Dorie and the LYL to see how other bakers around the world liked this recipe!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

{Blogging for Books} Eat by Nigel Slater

We have been kind of crazy lately with school, sports, church, substitute teaching, and just living life. That means I have fallen off the cooking and baking wagon completely! In full disclosure....we ate out every night last week except for the night I made something very, very easy. Dorie Greenspan's new book "Baking Chez Moi" just came out so I am about to jump back into Tuesdays with Dorie. In the meantime though I have been looking for easy recipes that I can cook fast for my family.

Enter eat by Nigel Slater:

When I pulled this out of the package the first thing I noticed was the cover of the book. It is paperback but it feels like fabric, is flexible, but it is more solid than paperback. All that to say it felt right in my hands. As I flipped through the pages I noticed the nice photos and the simple recipes. 

Typically I like to have a very organized recipe that includes a list of ingredients but these recipes seem to lend themselves to a little flexibility. 

Today I tried James's Potato Tortilla. The ingredients list included a potato, shallot, egg, and butter. It didn't say what kind of potato so I used red. I didn't have a shallot so I used a small onion. Munchkin was helping me so she seasoned the egg with salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic powder. The photo of the recipe in the book shows a golden hashbrown type item. Mine turned out gray with egg on the top. It tasted great but was not pretty. :) It was fast though and was  enough to share as a side for all of us. 

In the section of the introduction titled "Recipes" Slater talks about how the recipes are written more as "extended tweets." "The ingredients are listed next to a picture of the finished dish...so you can see, at a glance, what you will need."  You do need to read the rest of the recipe for the method. 

I am trying to be more flexible in my cooking and I think this book is exactly what I need for that. Plus, my kiddos can jump in and help out with quick recipes like these.

If you would like to find out more about Nigel Slater you can click here.

Make sure to check out Blogging for Books if you would like to get books and blog about them too! "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

{Blogging for Books} How to Survive Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters

By now you have probably see the riveting (and by riveting I mean you cannot tear your eyes away for the ridiculousness of the acting, graphics, dialogue, etc... that is happening on the screen) movie Sharknado. If you are a Sharknado aficionado you have probably seen the equally thrilling Sharknado 2: The Second One.

Well, if you have not gotten your fill of Sharks being slaughtered by chainsaws you should check out How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Unnatural Disasters by Andrew Shaffer.
This was a pretty quick read and made me actually laugh out loud in several spots. If you are worried about Sharks flying through the air you will know what to do. If you are worried about Arachnoquakes, Icenadoes, or Elecktrokragens you are in luck. You will find out how to deal with each and every one of these unnatural disasters.

There is a very handy "threat to humanity scale", a "risk of encounter scale", and "Fin Shepard's WTF (Wow, that's freaky) scale".

After some of the thick books I have read this year this was a fun palette cleanser for the next deep read I take on.

One of the best things about Blogging for Books is that I can request a book and as long as I write a review I get the book provided by the company. All opinions are my own. :)