Friday, January 31, 2014

Paris-Brest

 Get your mind out of the gutter. I know we are all 12 years old when certain words are said. Of course in this case I am talking about Brest France and the dessert by the same name. Does the shape remind you of anything? A bicycle tire perhaps? This lovely dessert was created to commemorate France's oldest bike race. This particular race started in 1891 and bikers race from Paris to Brest.
 The actual recipe called for caramelized almonds and vanilla pastry cream. I do have sliced almonds but decided to go with Dorie's bon idee and made chocolate pastry cream instead. I had a couple of bars of Scharfen Berger chocolate (from the IFBC conference) in the cabinet so I knew the pastry cream would be delicious. Pastry cream has been tricky for me in the past...it tends to get lumpy but this time I managed to temper the eggs and the pastry cream turned out perfectly.
I was able to pipe out quite a few small extra puffs as extra little treats. Munchkin is home sick today so she and I had a couple while they were warm. Little Man was not a fan when he tried them after school. Once the pastry cream and a strawberry was added though he changed his mind. I don't know if my pastry was just too small but I had a lot of pastry cream left over. Of course, that made a perfect after school snack with bananas.

Are you afraid of making pastry like this? Don't be! This choux pastry is a snap to whip up and pipe out (with the right piping supplies). I had a Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator until a few months ago when part of it snapped off. I went to the store today to pick up some decorating tips and bags but found a Wilton Dessert Decorator that is similar to the Pampered Chef tool. It worked for me so I am happy with the $12 I spent!

This turned out really well for many bakers this week so make sure to check out the LYL on the French Fridays with Dorie page. You can also check out the recipe in Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

{FFWD} Moules Marinière

When I was about 8 years old, at least I think I was that old, we went to an Oyster Bake. What I remember from that particular adventure was that I was given an oyster to eat and as I chewed, it just got bigger and bigger until I finally spit it out. I have never put shellfish in my mouth again since then except (accidentally) for a scallop once at a wedding. I spit that out too. I have tried to eat shrimp but the texture of it when I bite into it weirds me out. When someone's teeth squeak together when we are eating that gives me chills too and not in a good way. All of that to say I was a little terrified to make mussels! My husband loves shrimp but said it was maybe a mental thing about shellfish that kind of freaked him out as well. I will admit when we started this book this was one of the recipes that I immediately said "Nope!" However, there aren't that many recipes left so I am trying to make as many of them as I can.

Since I have never eaten anything like this before I posted the question "How does one eat mussels?" on Facebook. The responses varied from "As often as possible" "I don't" and " With lots of garlic and tomato broth! Oh and bread too...The crusty kind!" to "fork and fingers" and a helpful Youtube video.

The actual prep time for these was far shorter than I thought it would be. I was seriously wishing for onion goggles as I chopped the onions. That was the hardest part! I made a pound and a half instead of the 4 pounds that the recipe called for. I didn't have a bullion cube on hand so I left it out. I had almost the right amount of white wine but supplemented with less than a 1/4 of a cup water.  I made sure to have some delicious crusty bread to serve with this as well.

Once everything was prepped and pictures were taken (I tried to take them fast so the mussels would still be warm) we dug in. Bobby ate one mussel and said it tasted fishy but wasn't bad. Little Man ate one and spit it out. Munchkin ate one and stopped there. I have lovely neighbors that are willing to try out these crazy dishes so I took the bowl next door. My friend Anna loved them! Her little boy came in from playing outside and said he loved them and took one out to his friend who came in and dug in as well. We tried to save some for the dad but he doesn't actually like mussels. He did, however, love the sauce and said that he just kept dipping bread in it to finish it off! We have a couple more mussels recipes so it looks like I may be sharing again in the future. :)

Make sure to check out French Fridays with Dorie and all of the other fabulous cooks who made this recipe this week!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fingers and Bracelets

You will notice the ring finger on Munchkin's right hand is quite swollen. She has been to a few practices and yesterday was her first basketball game of the season. In the last 3 minutes of her play time the ball hit the tip of her finger. She kept playing even though we could see she was babying it. Little Man ran to the snack bar and asked for some ice to put on it. It was a sweet moment to see him take it to her and the sweet smile she gave him for it. Bobby has jammed his finger playing basketball before so he really thought it was probably just jammed. My experience playing basketball includes being hit in the mouth and breaking my wire and having no clue what I was doing on my ROTC team in high school. Since her finger was more swollen this morning I took her to the urgent care clinic. When the lady next to me said she thought her had the flu or pneumonia I took a huge step to the left. She was not offended...much I don't think. The xray didn't show a fracture and apparently the dr's office lost the key to the supply cabinet so the Dr couldn't get the supplies for a splint. That is OK with me though because I am sure it would cost $150 for a finger splint. We have had ice on it quite a bit today.

Munchkin has been wanting to get an official Rainbow Loom for awhile now so after the Dr I took her and her Christmas money from Uncle Joe and Aunt Rox to Michael's. While we were there we discovered they had a Rainbow Loom class that started at 1pm! She had enough left over after purchasing her loom that she was able to sign up for the class. She has been teaching herself how to make all kinds of things with those tiny rubber bands but learned how to make the cool bracelets in the pic at the class.

We taped Munchkin's fingers together tonight. I am hoping and praying they feel better in the morning. Maybe a sweet friend will help her carry her French Horn. :)

Friday, January 10, 2014

{FFWD} Baked Apples Stuffed with Fruit and Nuts

It's Friday, Friday! :) That means it is time for French Fridays with Dorie. After this week there are only 63 (I think) more recipes until Around My French Table is completed. Of course, I have missed quite a few recipes so I should do some catching up. It is only the 10th of January and we have already had a lot happen. Christmas Eve (yes I know, that was last year) Little Man had a stomach virus that I got and then Bobby got. He was still recovering New Years Eve and was able to eat. Our friends Travis and Sara had us over for a fun evening! Turns out her dad was in the Navy and living in San Diego at the same time my sister was born at Balboa! Small world!

My darling hubster had a birthday, and we were so glad he was well enough to eat his cake! My kiddos made the cake all by themselves! All I did was go to the store to buy more cocoa powder. And they worked so nicely together in the kitchen! Bobby was thrilled with his homemade wrapping paper that the kids decorated and with his disc golf set. I see lots of walking in our future. :) They also started basketball practices and have their first games on Saturday.

I am one of the moms that adores having my kids home from school. Sure, they have their moments of crazy but I am always sad to send them back to school. The 6:00 alarm doesn't help matters. As Christmas break was winding down the weather was ramping up and we were hit with a "polar vortex". Our pipes under our downstairs bathroom froze. No shower, no toilet, no sink. We still had water for laundry, dishes, and other necessities until the pipes thawed. Then we had water gushing under the bathroom, which of course means we had to turn all of the water off. Our wonderful next door neighbors let us shower at their house and I called a local plumber. He came as quickly as possible and found 3 splits in the pipes and replaced them in just a couple of hours. I am quite happy that we found a local guy as the regular big business we usually use couldn't come for 2 more days. The plumber that came also closed our vents under the house (that we didn't know we had) so it would stay a bit warmer.
Yes, the laundry is piled on the couch..at least it is clean and folded! :) The pic of me and Bobby is the last in a series where he was trying to kiss me but our child kept snapping crazy pics. 

The kids went back to school yesterday after 2 snow days were used due to no heat in classrooms, frozen and busted pipes, and school buses that wouldn't start. I started teaching 2 classes and Bobby is healthy and back to work. All in all quite a start to the year! But, you didn't come to read about that! You came to read about Baked Apples Stuffed with Fruits and Nuts!

This was a fantastically simple and delicious recipe! I haven't been to the grocery store in a few days so that was the last apple in the basket. I think it is a Rome apple but it could be Jazz....I don't think it is a Gala. Anyway, I think Honeycrisp would be really good. One of the directions for this was to mix fruits and nuts together with honey and some spices. I happened to have an unopened bag of Sahale Snacks Maple Pecans with Walnuts, Cherries, Cinnamon.  I didn't feel the need to run out and pick up any extra nuts since this was already mixed together. If you like butter you will love this. After hollowing out the apple I put a little butter in the bottom, stuffed in the snack mix, topped with more butter, poured some apple cider into the pan, scattered more butter and the apple peels into the pan and stuck it in the oven to bake. Every 15 minutes for an hour I scooped some of the cider/butter mix over the top. At the end you could boil the rest of the sauce so it would thicken but it was already starting to brown so I called it good and poured it over the top of the apple. I am pretty sure my kiddos would have liked this and my hubs may have too but it was my lunch so unfortunately for them they don't get any. Of course, I may make it again and they will like it! :) Make sure to check out the LYL to see how other Doristas enjoyed this recipe!


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Friday, January 03, 2014

{FFWD} Dressy Pasta Risotto

It is 2014 and I am actually on time with a French Fridays with Dorie recipe! Please be excited because I know I am! There aren't that many recipes left so I need to stay on top of completing them this year!

2014's first recipe is Dressy Pasta Risotto. Which is not really risotto but mac and cheese. My family loves mac and cheese so I thought this would be something they would like. I was a little concerned though because the recipe called for Marscapone cheese....which I forgot to get at the grocery store. I did a quick Google search for something to sub and came up with a few different options. 1) make my own marscapone 2) mix together cream cheese, sour cream, and heavy cream 3) do something else.. Since I was short on time I chose option 3 and just added in the cream cheese in the amount marscapone was called for. I also added in shredded chicken that was left over the rotisserie chicken  we had the night before.

It turned out a little tuna casserole-ish for my tastes but everyone went back for seconds so I know this was a win! We had steamed green beans on the side and would have had garlic knots but I didn't get them in the oven on time.

Since  it is a new year, if you would like to join the Doristas in finishing up this cookbook, just pick up a copy of Around My French Table. Make sure to check out the LYL as well to see how other cooks around the world liked this! :)

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

What is on Your Night Stand?

Last year I had a goal to read more and watch less TV. I was hoping to get through 52 books and I made it to 41. Of course I did read the Outlander series and each of those books are 1000 pages so maybe they count extra.... ;) I am setting out again to read 52 books this year and maybe include a little more non fiction. So what is your reading goal this year?
This was an attempt last year. Made it through part of Life of Pi, Part of Discovery of Witches, part of The Postmistress so I didn't count them on my list.

These are the books I read in 2013:
January:
Room by Emma Donoghue
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Safe Haven Nicolas Sparks
The Timekeeper Mitch Albom

February:
The Book Thief by Zusak
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Soulless Christopher Golden

March:
World War Z

April:
Outlander by Diana Galbaldan
Dragonfly in Amber Diana Galbaldan

May:
Voyager by Diana Galbaldan
Beautiful Chaos by Kim Garcia and Margaret Stohl

June:
The other Faust

July:
Are you There God? It’s Me Margaret.
Head in Beds Jacob Tomsky
The Beach Trees by Karen White
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Pastors Wives Lisa Takuechi Cullen

August:
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Let Them be Eaten by Bears: A Fearless Guide to Taking Our Kids into the Great Outdoors
Drums in Autumn by Diana Gabaldan

September
The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldan

October
The Giver Lois Lowry
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Messenger by Lois Lowry

November
Son by Lois Lowry
Echo in the Bone by Diana Galbaldon
A novel in a Year by Louise Dougerty
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Here I go by Jen Lancaster

December
Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster
Romeo and Juliet and Vampires by Claudia Gabal
The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows by Diana Gabaldan
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
My Story by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart