Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today's Cookbook

This morning I woke up with the need to bake.  I needed something I could bake, from what I had in the house, serious dilemma, because there is NO BUTTER in my house!  I know, Paula Deen would be shocked. Honestly, I'm shocked too.  I've been trying to be better about baking for no one other than my family, we don't need the sweets.  So when I ran out of butter earlier in the week, I thought nothing of it.  But this morning it was a serious impairment to my desires to bake.  After a thorough search of the cupboards and icebox, I found a stash of frozen bananas.  Luckily I had buttermilk hanging out in the fridge, so I had a plan.

Out came one of my favorite baking cookbooks The Grand Central Baking Book.  I got it for myself two years ago for Christmas and have already found some favorites: Bread Pudding Muffins, Classic Buttery Shortbread (this used the remaining cup of butter on Sunday), Mushroom & Root Vegetable Pot Pie, Raspberry Crumble Tart, and of course today's recipe, Banana Bread.

When you decide to make banana bread, or at least this one, you'll need to set aside some time, precisely 2 hours.  It takes 90 minutes to bake and when you add in prep time, 2 hours is a good estimate.  I have also learned through many late nights reading cookbooks, that having buttermilk on hand is a good idea.  There are ways to substitute, however, nothing really compares with the real thing.  Today I added coconut to my bread, and covered the top in chopped walnuts.  As I said, I was searching for ingredients, and this is what I had on hand.

Hopefully my boys will enjoy their after school snack!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cupcake a month

I am exploring options for keeping me baking, and keeping people buying cupcakes.  Considering I have limited time to invest in my passion right now (darn economics!) I was thinking one speciality cupcake a month might spark some interest.  Last month it was Red Velvet.  This month... Chocolate Mint.  I'm testing out my idea this Friday, all those lucky helpers at church get to sample.

Look for a posting later about the final product.  Let me know if you have any ideas for other months!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes ready for Valentine's Day!

No, this is not an illusion, I am actually blogging again!  I said this would be a crazy year, unfortunately, it has been much crazier than I imagined.  I apologize to all my friends who looked forward to reading of my baking pursuits.  I am trying to find the balance between baking, family, school & gym.... needless to say it is tough.

A few weeks ago I put the word out that I was making Red Velvet Cupcakes for Valentine's Day.  This seemed to be a great way to advertise, I got 5 orders!  Today marks the first delivery and also a picture of these delicious creations.  If you missed the announcement, there is still time to order, just let me know!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Fettucini Alfredo, Caesar Salad & Tiramisu

So what meal did I choose to start of my new year of challenges?  An easy one, that is for sure.  And one AJ has been asking for nearly every week of 2010.

Fettucini Alfredo
Caesar Salad

Ok, well maybe he didn't ask for the Tiramisu, but I was a on a role of Italian food, and couldn't let it stop.

The alfredo is one friends made for us when we visited almost 2 years ago, and AJ loves it.  Super simple.  Here goes.

In a small saucepan melt 1/2 cup of unsalted butter.  When it is all melted, add 8 oz of cream cheese.  Stir with a spatula until the cream cheese has melted into the butter and it combines.  Add 2 tsp of garlic powder and salt & pepper to taste.  Once everything is combined, slowly whisk in 2 cups of milk, then add 2 cups of Parmesan cheese.  Cook over a medium heat stirring constantly until it has reached desired consistency.  Remove from heat and combine with cooked fettucini noodles.

Caesar salad... well, that was a bag from Costco.  I said I was going easy today!  I grabbed a loaf of french bread too. 

Now onto dessert!  Tiramisu is one of my all-time favorite desserts to order at a restaurant.  It is super decadent and full of flavor but somehow not too heavy.  Once I drove over 30 minutes away to get tiramisu with my friend  - the town we lived in did not have the restaurant we wanted!  This was a simple recipe that didn't have to sit, but can be made ahead.  First I dissolved 3 Tbsp instant espresso powder in 3 Tbsp hot water, then added 1 1/2 cups cold water.  Into a mixing bowl went 8 oz softened cream cheese, 3/4 c heavy whipping cream & 1/3 cup sugar.  This got mixed until light and fluffy.  I grabbed my dish and got ready.  A very small amount of the cream cheese mixture was spread on the bottom of the pan, then I dipped lady fingers in the espresso mixture and layered them on the bottom of the dish. Once the bottom was completely covered, I added 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture and spread it out evenly.  I repeated with 2 more layers of ladyfingers and cream cheese, ending with the cream cheese mixture.  I covered it tightly with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for today.  Before serving today I sprinkled with cocoa powder.  Delish!  There are many fancier recipes out there, and certainly those that contain marsala or even coffee liqueur.  I like this one because it is simple, items you tend to have at home - save for the ladyfingers - and certainly child friendly!

I hope you enjoy this weeks dinner.  Stay tuned throughout the year for different and exciting meals coming from our house!

two-thousand eleven

New year. New beginnings. New challenges. New accomplishments.  New goals. New milestones...

How many 'new's can I come up with?  Who knows.  What I do know, is that this year is full of new things for me and my family.  Our eldest is headed off to kindergarten!  Our youngest will be home without his best friend 5 days a week!  Their mom is headed back to school (ack!).  Their dad will be home a lot more (because mom will be in school at night).  All of these will bring great joy and their own share of troubles.  But I am confident that we will succeed, because that is what we do.

So what is my challenge for 2011?  I can promise you this, it is not baking every day of the year.  I am already signed up for a half-marathon on Mother's Day, and there is NO WAY I could complete it if I kept on baking at the same rate as I did in December.  Of course with school 2 nights a week, I won't be able to keep up that baking schedule either.  But not to worry, I have come up with a good challenge, one that will benefit my family, keep my baking, and not be too tough to complete.

Sabbath Dinner

Sabbath Dinner you say?  To some of you this might mean Sunday Dinner, for us it is on Sabbath.  Every week we wake up early on Saturday morning (Sabbath) jump in the shower, eat some breakfast, and get ready for church.  We spend the morning worshiping and come home starving.  Most days I just haul out the regular lunch food and start making sandwiches, boring. Occasionally we have friends over and then I make lunch.  For my husband this is a struggle.  Growing up they always had a big meal after church, sometimes with friends, sometimes just their family.  It has taken me a few years to get into the habit.

So my challenge for 2011 is to make a Sabbath Dinner for my family every week of the year.  Something new. Something special.  Only 52 times.  I just completed 31 in a row, I'm sure I can get 52 done.

Stay tuned.