Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best of 2008

So much was packed into 2008 that I can hardly believe it's over. Since everyone seems to do a "Best of...", I thought I could do one of my own... about my stuff.... I hardly ever toot my own horn since I normally think my horn sucks, but this year I did make some of my favorite things....

Best Feet: This was for my bestest childhood friend Dee... for her baby Breanna. This is my favorite shot of the cake, baby feet... I know weird but they are so cute I can't even stand it. You can see the rest of the cake here, its cute too.

Best Nose: This was a cake where the client just let me roll with an idea and I secretly wanted to keep it because I adored all the little figures. My favorite shot of the Baby Safari cake was of the elephant crate, if you look really close, there's peanuts.. hehe... loved it!

Best Surprise: This was for my son Skylor. The best part wasn't really the cake itself but that me, my honey, grandma, grandpa and his cousin all got on a plane to Sacramento to surprise him for his 16th Birthday with this cake in tow.... I've never seen anyone so shocked and surprised about anything in my whole life. For him the best day ever!

Best Propose: I love this cake because it was for my Wedding. I knew everything that was wrong with it and it was so far from finished and so far from perfect its not even funny but I love it because I finally married my honey this year on 8-8-08 after he proposed god knows how many years ago.....

Monday, December 29, 2008

Crust-o-licious

Making pies for the holidays have become a bit of a monotonous project for me. So when my co-worker asked for me to make a special crust on hers I was actually excited to make something as simple as an apple pie.

The crust was cut with small scalloped cutter and layered starting at the bottom and sticking them together using an egg wash. Its a little extra work but its so beautiful. It made the crust look even more flaky and the inevitable gaps between some of the pieces leave natural steam vents.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Savory Sweetness

This is truly an odd combo for candied nuts but it really works together in nutty harmony. I'm clearly on a Martha kick the last few days.....I think I've been watching to much Tivo.

Stuff is a pain to find on her website so I don't even have the patience to go find the link again for you guys so here is the recipe below.

Spiced Maple Glazed Pecans
Martha Stewart
  • 1 lb. Pecans and/or Walnuts
  • 3 tbsp. Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • 1 tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Chopped Thyme
  • 1 tsp. Coarse Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Mix everything together in a big bowl and spread out onto a lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, stir a bit if you like in between to keep them from sticking together. Cool and store at room temp for up to a week, if they stick around that long.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yiihoo...howdy howdy howdy...

This post is really about Cowboy cookies but my mind works in mysterious ways and the cookies reminded me of one of my favorite movies from when my kids were little, The Rescuers Down Under. I loved every character from Ms. Bianca teetering on the edge of snootville but in a lovable sort of way to the big bad monitor lizard Joanna and her egg snatching hi-jinks.

One of my very favorite scenes was when Frank the little frilled lizard gets stuck riding on Joanna's back cowboy style. You can check out the (grainy) classic Disney hilarity here. And find the recipe for these fantastic cookies here. Both the cookies and the movie are a must, trust me on this one.

TWD: Buttery Apricot Jam Cookies

Heather over at Randomosity and the Girl chose Buttery Jam Cookies for this weeks Tuesdays with Dorie. I probably would have never ventured to make these cookies because they just sounded weird and I wasn't at all hopeful that they would be good so I'm surprised that I really like them.

I made mine with the suggested Apricot Jam and scooped them into little itty bitty cookies then slathered the bottom with melted white chocolate. They are cakey and buttery and the white chocolate and ginger give it a little kick, yum!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chocolate Crackles

Mine no looka like Martha's... but they's damn tasty.... like brownie bites with a crunchy exterior. Excellent beginning for this book.

Truth be told I'm a cheater and maybe this is why this is the only cookie out of the dozen I baked that looked even vaguely like the ones in the book. When I got to the part of the recipe that said I had to divide this super sticky dough into 4 equal pieces then wrap it and chill it for 2 hours...then divide those into blah blah blah.. it got a little too 'Martha' for me and I used my own method.

I scooped these little guys with my smallest scoop and chilled them in the freezer. I think the frozen dough was too cold and didn't allow the surface to spread and crack properly, which is usually what happens to me, freezing brings on the wonky. I am saving the rest of the dough to bake off closer to Christmas time, I will make sure they are only fridge cold and see if that makes a difference because I don't like fussy recipes. All that dividing would make me not want to make these again no matter how tasty they are. I can't wait to see how other people who baked along got on with these, bound to be equally as tasty.

Bake-alongers: Megan's came out perfectly perfect check them out here if you want to see what they are supposed to look like.
Susan was in the midst of making hers when she was hit oven troubles. Sorry your oven is not cooperating! She was kind enough to post the recipe on her blog. Update: Susan's honey got her oven running and hers came out picture perfect.
Natalie's batch came out a little flatter than mine but still beautiful and delicious looking, I can imagine hers with a little ice cream smooshed in the center.
Fit Chick got her batch posted and they are gorgeous too! I'm convinced I've done something wrong to mine. Oh well, I will have to make more! There's no shortage of volunteers to eat the mistakes around here.

It's amazing that everyone has a different outcome. This is why I love baking with others to see how theirs turn out and to see the little twists everyone lends to their baking.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Seems Im not the only one....

Megan has a problem too!
Megan said...

So pick a recipe, as long as it's not too nutty (no pun intended) and I'll make it with you - I have the same problem, and I've been staring at all the books this month wondering what to make. As if belonging to 6 different baking/cooking groups isn't enough!


Alright Megan, how bout some Chocolate Crackles pg 68 or Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies pg 163? Both look equally appealing..... an no nuts!

Update: Megan picked
Chocolate Crackles pg 68, posting on Monday... if anyone else wants to join in.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

I must admit it, I have a problem


Well I have a few problems but honestly way to many to discuss.

Two struck me today and I must admit it and join Cook Book Buyers Anonymous if there is such a thing. Work is stressful like always but doubly so in the last few months, so at lunch I did a little shopping therapy... my first problem. Admittedly shopping therapy in today's economy is not a good habit. As I was perusing the scattered shelves at Marshall's I spy Martha Stewart's Cookies book. I have a slew of cook books of all sorts, some that I never cracked open past the day of purchase.... my second problem. But of course I have to have it, and of course I think that I'm getting a good deal at $16.99 its cheaper on Amazon by 52 cents but I didn't have to pay shipping so :P

I shall here and now vow to make at least 3 or 4 of the recipes contained in this book, just so I don't feel so bad... cookies make everything better right? Ah well there's an admitted third problem right there.... blogs are so therapeutic.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

TWD: Grandma's All Occasion Sugar Cookies

Being as I was behind with my Tuesdays with Dorie recipes, I did a little super baking on Sunday and made the Linzers and Grandma's All Occasion Sugar Cookies, the this weeks selection chosen by Ulrike of Kuchenlatein. (Not to mention the non-TWD related maple cornmeal biscuits and the banana bread.)

I was quickly running low on regular AP flour with all this baking so I decided to use 1/2 whole wheat 1/2 cake flour. Since I didn't want these to be particularly Christmasy (there's ample time for that later this month) I added in some lemon zest and rolled the dough into a log and popped it into the fridge to chill. I sliced them about 1/4 inch thick & baked til golden around the edges. As they cooled I mixed up the juice from the lemon that I zested with some powdered sugar to make a glaze. I dipped each cooled cookie into the glaze and left them to dry.

These were a little questionable on the day they were baked, they seemed too hard, probably from the whole wheat flour but the next day, they were super yummy. I'm assuming a little of the moisture from the glaze helped to make these the right texture. I'll have to give this recipe a try with regular AP to see how it turns out because it was a simple easy dough to make.

TWD: Linzer Sables

I'm a week behind on my Tuesday with Dorie recipes, but not officially because we get a bit of a reprieve this month and get to choose whichever recipe we want to make from the December list (Linzer Sables, Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies, Buttery Jam Cookies, Real Butterscotch Pudding & Tall and Creamy Cheesecake) as long as we post them on Tuesday.....it is Tuesday's with Dorie after all. I think this is a great gift from the powers that be, because who knows how nutty this month will turn out hopefully I get a chance to make them all.

So today I made the Linzer Sables, two ways. I shoulda done Linzer Sables, three ways just to be all Top Chef about it but we know they suck at desserts anyway so lets not bring the cookies down to that level. Rude but so true....

The first were rolled out to 1/4 inch thickness and then cut out from the chilled dough, baked off cooled then filled with dark chocolate spread from Cost Plus and dusted liberally with powdered sugar. These were ok with the dark chocolate but a little on the bland side, I think the lack of sugar in both the cookie and the filling did these in.


The others were rolled into balls and filled with apricot preserves like you would do with thumbprint cookies, baked off and dusted with powdered sugar. The jam did the trick this time and lent the bit of sweetness the cookie dough needed. I would probably leave out the little smidge of ground cloves if I made these again, for some reason the clove always puts me off a bit.

This recipe was chosen Dennis over at Living the Life, you can find the full recipe there if your so inclined to make these yourself.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

No you can't eat the whole loaf by yourself....

I've had to utter these words many times after making this recipe for Banana Bread, mostly to my oldest son. As mentioned in a previous post, it's a tried and true recipe and family & co-worker favorite. I'm kind of surprised I hadn't posted about it before because I make it all the time.

I think everyone's kitchen is frequented by the beautifully ripe turned suddenly funky bunch of bananas. Unless you have a 6 month old around, no one is going to eat those bad boys, so its best to scrounge up the other ingredients and make some banana bread. My excuse today and almost every time I make it... the oven was already on.

Banana Bread ~ Betty Crocker's Cookbook circa 1987
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Butter, softened
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Banana, mashed *I never measure this I just throw 3 or 4
  • 1/3 cup Orange Juice (or water)
  • 1 2/3 cup A/P Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 cup Nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350˚ and grease the bottom of a loaf pan. Mix sugar and butter until fluffy and stir in eggs one at a time. Mix in the mashed banana and orange juice. Whisk together all the remaining dry ingredients, including the chopped nuts and slowly incorporate into the wet mix until no dry bits remain. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake until golden brown.

You can also top off the loaf with some regular granulated or turbanado sugar before baking to get a nice glisten on the top of loaf. This can take quite awhile to bake and will get quite dark but make sure the tester comes out clean before removing it from the oven.

Maple-Cornmeal Drop Biscuits

The weather is a bit chilly today here in So. Cal. 68˚ degrees! Brrr....

Ok so its not cold by any real standard, shoot I'm wearing shorts and the front door is wide open. Even still the ever so slight dip in the temperature and the overcast day makes me want to bake. So when I woke up we started the day the cholesterol way and had Maple Cornmeal Biscuits with Honey butter and Bacon.

These biscuits were so yummy with the crunchy nuggets of cornmeal and the melty honey butter on top. They have a little sweetness from the maple syrup, but they could have taken on some gravy anyway and been super delicious. You can find this recipe on page 24 of Baking from My Home to Yours. This is my favorite sort of recipe for the morning too, no machinery involved, just your oven a bowl and a fork. I did get a little carried away and used a big scoop and made some big biscuits but a smaller version would do just fine as well.