Sunday, November 23, 2008

Greetings from Roller Coaster Ice Show Land

You've probably noticed I haven't participated in the last couple of TWDs. I need to take a break from the group until after the new year because of my holiday ice show gig. I lucked out and have an apartment with a kitchen with great roommates, but limited access to the grocery store and good baking supplies. I'm going through serious baking withdrawals and disappointed to be missing out on all the holiday baking adventures, but I'm so happy to be doing this show for myself. Really really happy. Sometimes, I guess you just need a year working at a desk to gain some perspective. Don't worry, my pink KitchenAid is in good hands and being looked after by my sister-in-law while I'm away. Thank you to everyone for their sweet and supportive comments!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Rugelach

I had really high hopes for these pastries. They remind me of home-made crescent rolls that you can go crazy with. And I love crescent rolls. My family always had to make extra for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner when I was a kid because I would eat just the rolls. I've seen them at all my favorite places, but have never tried them. And this was definitely a pastry project, but nothing that was out of my league. This rugelach is made with a very tangy and workable cream cheese crust and the fillings of your choice. I cut the recipe in half and made three different flavor combos. Half of my dough I used for the traditional recipe Dorie gives and the other half for some savory combos I was inspired to try after reading her own blog on these little guys. Here were my fillings:

1) Raspberry jam, walnuts, dried cranberries, and semi-sweet chocolate.
2) Pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and Parmesan cheese.
3) Garlic cheese, oregano, sun-dried, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese.

Everything tasted amazing before I popped them in the oven. The crust, the fillings, especially the raspberry jam with the chocolate, omg......!

Making the dough old-school style.

The sweet half

Some savory bits

All lined up pre-bake.

I'm not sure why, but these did not taste as good as they did before I baked them. The filling burnt to a crisp. We're talking charred-black cranberries and tomatoes. This surprised me because I pulled them out of the oven when the dough was just a touch brown. Once I pulled out all the black burned crispy bits, then I was left with about one bite of okay rugelach. The sweet ones are my least favorite. The savory ones didn't burn as badly and the pesto ones turned out the best. I actually wished I had more because they burned the least and made for a really yummy lunch. I know this recipe is one of those that will take me a few tries to master.

Thanks to Piggy for keeping me on my toes with this week's TWD!

See...I really did those TWDs.

I was just too busy and sick at the time to tell you about them. Here's a quick flashback on the biscotti and muffins.

Gretchen chose the Lenox Almond Biscotti. This is the second time I've made this biscotti. I love making biscotti. I think it's because there are a million ways to make them and I was so surprised at how easy it was. I kept these simple for lack of time, and ingredients. Just the basic almond, corn meal, and some chocolate chips. I didn't stand them vertically like soldiers, but next time I'm going to try that technique to make them crunchier. They were perfect for munching on while us girls were getting ready before my brother's wedding.

Biscotti log pre Bake #1

Biscotti log pre Bake #2

And this very bad picture of one little lone biscotti was all that was left after my roommate and I enjoyed the leftovers the next couple of mornings.

The next TWD was the pumpkin muffins hosted by Kelly. I love pumpkin, but since I've been sick I haven't been able to stomach the thought of pumpkin baked goods for some reason. Which is very, very sad. I made them for my co-workers and used it as an opportunity to use my new silicone scone pan I got for my birthday. As a result I got muffins masquerading as scones. My boss loved them and said they were the perfect muffins because they were just like muffin tops only, which is always the best part. I used golden raisins and dried cherries, but I think next time I would use cherries or cranberries, and zero raisins.

Muffins dressed up as scones. Just in time for Halloween!
See, I'm not a TWD blogging slacker, after all!

Where in the World are the Pumpkin Kisses???!!!!

I was browing all the baking blogs out there in internet-land and came across these amazing looking carrot cake cookies over at the Del Sisters Kitchen. Doesn't that cookie look amzing?? I wanted to make it right away. Then, I saw they used Pumpkin Hershey's kisses. Pumpkin?? Kissess?? What?? Omg, it must be the best combo ever. The deal was sealed. I went to buy the ingredients and after 6 weeks of searching, I've finally come to the conclusion that they're not being sold in Colorado. It's killing me a little bit. The afternoon I made these I went to every single possible grocery store, drug store, and Target in a two mile radius of my parents house (where I was borrowing their kitchen and laundry for the day).

Did you know they make candy corn, caramel, marshmallow, white chocolate, dark chocolate, truffle, candy cane, and almond kisses. But I can't seem to find these so called pumpkin kisses. After much distress, no really, this was an agonizing decision, I seriously settled for the almond ones for these cookies.

These cookies are delicious, addictive and so creative! I ate 3 right out of the oven. I think you can go without rolling them in more sugar before baking, because they were very sugary. In fact, everything on these girl's blog is delectable looking. I kind of wished I lived at their farm so I could eat all their delcious creations. Now if Hershey's made a cream cheese kiss these cookies would be carrot cake perfection.

The Muffin Lady and Altitude Attitude

Back in August I bought this book. and being bored at work is a very dangerous combination. I wanted to get some more info on high-altitude baking, especially on how to alter recipes for high altitude. One of the reasons I chose this book is that the author is local and sells to a lot of my favorite local businesses, including the Tattered Cover, which I go to at LEAST once a week. I've been trying the recipes as often as a I can.

I made the Peach Cobbler first with fresh Colorado peaches from the farmer's market. This was unreal. I brought it to a cook-out for a friend's birthday. Unfortunately, I learned with a group of boys at a bbq, you can't bring a dessert which requires a fork. They ate store bought chocolate chip cookies over the cobbler. No one ate it and I went home, sulked, and ate half of it myself before throwing it down the trash chute so I wouldn't eat it all. Lesson learned.

After another trip to the farmer's market I made some peach bread and muffins. These were really delicious and moist and my mom requested the recipe again in muffin form for my brother's shower. They're really good the first day, but go really bad after that, although I haven't figured out why.

Yesterday I made her banana bread topped with some chocolate and peanut butter chips. I think it's the best banana bread I've ever had. This got divided up so quickly I don't even have a picture.

And now for the rest of the story.....

In September some of my co-workers and I went up to Vail for the weekend for a girl's trip. On Sundays Vail hosts the largest farmer's market in Colorado. As we were walking through all the stalls I instantly recognized my book perched high on a table covered in brownies and cookies. "Are you the muffin lady??!!" I asked. She was indeed the muffin lady and I was so excited. I told her how I just bought her book and the peach cobbler was so good I ate half of it by myself in one sitting.

And you know how you meet someone and they're not at all like you thought they would be? This is a perfect example. The next thing she asked is if I wanted to buy her next book. "But, I just got your first one". I replied. With the her newest book in my face, I had to politely beg off right before my friend took an awkward pic with me and her. Pushy, pushy. Well, her recipes are really good and she did yell after me as I left to e-mail her if I ever had any questions.

On a side note, we ran into this cupcake stand for a local cupcakery. My friends instantly starting chatting up the girl about how we're obsessed with cupcakes and we're going to open our own shop, etc, etc. And you know what she said? "Don't open it in Vail!" Well fine, snarky-pants. We won't try your cupcakes anymore. Another awkward picture that she so wasn't having.

Lesson: Be nice to your fellow bakers. Even if you have a small business to defend. Maybe it's the altitude.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TWD: Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes for Cupskates

I don't even know where to begin with this post. I guess I'll come right out with it. I didn't make Dorie's cupcakes. I only made the glaze for the cupcakes. If this month's TWD challenges don't reflect what a crazy couple of months I've had, I'm not sure what else would. To make a long-story short I resigned from my job today to go back into the world of professional ice-skating. It was a vvvv stressful decision, but now that it's officially made I feel great about it!

So with going back to performing, first things first. I had to break in the new ice skates I bought over a year ago. But before I could even do that I had to get them decorated! My friend K, who's pretty much gotten me ever professional gig I've done including this upcoming one, has a lot of random talents. One in which he paints your ice skates! What did I get on mine??

Cupcakes! So now I have cup-skates! And they don't have any calories! Yes, there is in even a rhinestone on the cherry on the top of the cupcake. I decided to pay K in cupcakes in return. I was going to make Dorie's, but didn't have all the ingredients so I whipped up Martha's One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes I saw over at How to Eat a Cupcake. These really were easy and made for a delicious, rich, and quick cupcake. (But, of course, I bet Dorie's are better!)

But I couldn't leave my cupcakes naked! So I also whipped up the chocolate glaze from Dorie's Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcake recipe and topped them off. It was so rich and made for a grown-up chocolatey treat. I packed them in a shoe box and brought them to the rink the next morning. Cupcakes for cupcake skates.

Check out the other TWD-ers and their creative cupcakes here and our host's Clara's adorable Halloween cupcakes here. I especially like the one with the witch-ice cream cone hat. Now that my life has settled down- at least for this week- I'm looking forward to some serious TWD baking this weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm on Vacation, but I did TWD... I Promise!!!!

I have not been a very good blogger lately. I'm on vacation, and with my the craziness of everything I just didn't have a minute to post the last two recipes. Which I did, I swear!!! I made the biscotti (which is my fav thing to bake) for the girls while we were getting ready for my brother's wedding.

The pumpkin muffins were enjoyed by my co-workers. I baked them in my new scone pan for the fun of it, and they turned out like muffin-tops, which was cool.

For now I'm in the Caribbean and will be back to baking next week!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Too Sick for Baking :-(

Wow- I am sick. Fever- everything hurts-sick. I had to forfeit this week's TWD. I tried to make this weeks Carmel-Peanut Topped Brownie Cake. I really did. I even bought all the ingredients while getting a million prescriptions filled at the grocery store. Instead of peanuts for the toppings, I got peanut-caramel-chocolate cluster candy things to chop up. Ewwww even the thought of all that food is challenging my stomach's stability right now. The thought of baking, or eating, or looking at food has been way too much for my body to handle for the past week. I haven't even been able to bring myself to look at how the other bloggers did with their cake. So, in lieu of being a lame, sick non-TWD-ing girl here are a few random baking-related pics that will hopefully make up for my lack of a carmel-topped brownie cake:

"Our cupcakes are better than sex." How great are these business cards??

Aren't these cookies gorgey?? A family friend of ours makes these as well as real wedding cakes. They were the favors for my brother's shower customized in their colors. And they taste amazing too!
German Apple Pancakes. My very favorite food. Ever. My dad made these for the shower brunch. Honestly, I'm afraid to try to make them myself because my dad = these pancakes. Whenever I used to come home from a long trip, or tour, or show, or something these would always be ready for me in the kitchen.

And now I'm going to get some rest with my new pal Codeine....

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Double Tuesdays with Dorie with a Rewind

Holy ga-moly! Can you say busy?! I have this coming weekend to catch up on all the recipes I've tried and photographed, but haven't blogged about before my brother's wedding and then a much-needed vacation-post sprint incentive at work. Phew-I'm getting tired. And last week I had to be tardy in making TWD's Dimply Plum (or in my case, nectarine) Cake. It was for good reason very very good friend B from HSM was visiting for the week!!!!!!!! In between hikes, skating fun, Avenue Q, coffee shops, thrift stores, a full on Season 1 Heroes marathon, and oh yeah, work, there just wasn't time for baking. We were going to bake together, but we only had time for sushi-ing together.

Making some homemade sushi for a living room-Heroes picnic!

Last Thursday I drowned my sorrows that my friend was gone by baking this cake. I got to use my new grater/zester that I got for my birthday for the orange zest. I used nectarines instead of plums. Plums are my favorite fruit and they were no where to be found last week :-( Suddenly, I can find them in the stores again. I'm not sure if this cake was really meant to be. The cake tastes pretty good, but I'm not obsessed with it. I've mostly been letting my roommate eat it and when I grab a bite, I don't like any pieces that have nectarine in them. You can find the recipe at last week's host, Michelle's site, Bake-En.

For this week's TWD, after the whirlwind of B's visit I just didn't have it in me to a. buy ramekins for the creme brulee and b. risk my apartment's safety with the broiler action. So I did a rewind. I appreciate Mari's challenge, though! It was actually easy to narrow down which recipe to try, even though there are so many I want to! I got some fun birthday presents: a silicone scone pan, and a hilarious brownie pan, so it was either brownies or scones. I opted for the French Chocolate Brownies and I added a white chocolate glaze.

I love this recipe because it's really a cake masquerading as brownies. Perfect for this Edge brownie pan (my dad picked it out for me, ha). It's designed so that every piece has an edge, which is the chewiest and best part of a brownie, especially with this recipe.

These brownies lived up to their chewey promise! For the glaze, I just melted 2 ounces of white chocolate left over from the cookies two weeks ago and brushed it on the cooled product. You can check out the Creme Brulee recipe on Mari's blog, Mevrouw Cupcake and the French Chocolate Brownies (which look gorgey) on Fool for Food.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate Chunkers

Dorie says these cookies are so good they are only deserving of using the very best chocolate. None of this Safeway brand semi-sweet chocolate chip business. If you're going to be spending all that money on these cookies, they should only be for special occasions. So, it was great timing that the couple's wedding shower I was hosting for my brother and future sister-in-law was this weekend! And you know your desert is a hit when you get asked for the recipe.

I used Ghiradeli bittersweet and white chocolate, in addition to the semi-sweet chocolate chunks and cocoa powder. I got a great look of confusion from the check-out guy at the store when all I bought were 4 giants chocolate bars and 4 Luna bars. I'm sure he was just jealous of the delicoiusness I was about to make.

I also used dried sweet cherries instead of the raisins which were the BEST part of the cookie. I opted for almonds for the nuts. I didn't have time to roast them, but they still added a nice crunch to all the cookie chunkiness. Scooping them into rounds for baking was interesting because there were so many chunks and so little dough holding them all together, but I managed ;-).
I LOVE these cookies. They are tied for my favorite with the Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters from a few weeks ago (which also set a 20 minute disappearance record at work when I brought them in after round two of making them). They are decadent, soft, chewy, and have just enough variety. I really recommend using cherries. You can find the recipe over at Claudia's place.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Malted Malteser Drops

I think every time I opened Dorie's book I would look at this recipe. I was so excited to see it on the list of upcoming recipes so soon after I started TWD. This was a great recipe and a HUGE hit with my co-workers.

I made a special trip and picked up some Maltesers to use instead of Whoppers. I like to pretend I'm Britsh, remember. I actually just threw away a hugh bag of Maltesers not too long ago. My Finnish friend from studying in London sent me a giant box of Maltesers for Christmas and six months later I decided I needed to get rid of the left-overs. They would have really come in handy...

This was the gooey-est dough I've ever made. I ditched my little cookie scooper asap. But it did make soft, cakey cookies, which is my FAVorite texture for a cookie.

See how ooey-cookie-chocolatey-yummy this was! I agree with a lot of the other TWD-ers that it was too choclatey. This cookie put me in a chocolate coma. But that didn't stop me from eating the whole thing, I just needed a whole glass of milk to help me finish it.

I added an extra tablespoon and a half of flour for high altitute. Also, I was a little short on Maltesers (I didn't chop them, just put them in a plastic bag and crushed them with a meat mallet), so I added some more chocolate and malt powder. I think they were too malt-ey with the extra malt I added, so I will definitely cut down on that next time. Thanks to Rachel from Confessions of a Tangerine Tart for choosing this ooey-gooey-Malteser-tastic cookie. See how the other TWD-ers got their cookie on at the TWD blogroll.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

I'm a serial batter eater. Usually I taste a batter and think to myself, "mmm yummy". When I was making these cookies I was knocked out when I went for that first just-mixed lick. I have never been so surprised by a taste as I was with these cookies. I even semi-cussed out loud. And then I felt guilty for almost saying a bad word over such a wholesome treat. I had no idea the cinnamon would add such a kick. These are great peanut butter, oatmeal cookies with a decadent twist.

I made these for a friend's birthday bbq (his favorite cookies are peanut butter, chocolate chip, so it was a perfect opportunity). Thanks to Stefany for choosing such a kick-ass cookie. You can check out the other TWDer's cookies right here.

My mixer whizzing away...

Some Merlot, and the view from my kitchen just makes these cinnamon, peanut butter, oatmeal, suckers that much better!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte

I've been having an aversion to ice cream for a while, and thanks to this week's recipe, that has allll changed. Amy with Food, Family, and Fun chose this weeks recipe. Like the last couple of choices, this was a cinch and incredibly delicious! This was a perfect project for my last Friday off because I could do all my chores and errands while the layers were freezing. Basically, this ganache dictated my whole day, but I didn't really mind :-) I cut the recipe in half and made it in a mini 4" springform pan and went with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream to go with the chocolate ganache.

My first ganache! This was so easy (and DELICIOUS). I finally got over my intimidation of the word "ganache," and a double boiler. The ganache is even better when it freezes and makes the perfect soft consistency for an ice cream cake. Someone expressed concern for the raw eggs in the ganache, and I actually got really concerned. Completely unlike me, since I have a reallly bad habit of over-indulging in bowl/spatula/spoon batter. I didn't see any pasteurized eggs at the store so I tried Egg Beaters, and they seemed to work just fine.

This was surprisingly easy to get out of the pan with Dorie's warm towel suggestion and I think I did a pretty good job making my layers even! I agree with some of the other Tuesday With Dorie'ers that this was an incredibly hard recipe to photograph for the blog. It was so A. Melty. B. Sticky. and C. Irresistibly Lickable. You can find the recipe on this week's host, Amy's blog.