Monday, December 12, 2011

I promised.

Last week, I publicly declared my commitment to blog once a week.  Yesterday, I finally discovered the wonderful world of Pinterest.  Just what I needed...another social media/networking tool to take my time???  Fortunately, I've found some great ideas that will hopefully not take too much time to complete before we leave for the holidays on the 24th.  With the canine kids.  On an airplane.  Am I nervous?  Totally.  We've never flown with dogs, and Felix is already nervous.  I mean, not about the flight, but on a daily basis, he exhibits very nervous behavior, as is typical of most dachsunds, or so we were told at the vet's office. 

In any case, I feel like I have a ton of things I need to do before we head up to WA, and one of the most important things is actually start and finish my Christmas shopping.  To say I was busy this semester is a bit of an understatement.  When William accepted his job with Gannett in September, he immediately started traveling on a weekly basis, and usually for 4 or 5 days at a time. 

Pretty much everyone who knows me knows I like to stick to a routine, and this fall has been no different---it's just that the routine is more typical of how it was when I lived in Spokane, on my own, with Belle and Gracie.  Up super early, maybe early gym session, sprint home to get ready for work (or now, school), head back home (or gym) or to pick the boys up from doggie daycare (aka the in-laws), study, and crash.  Somewhere in there is meal prep and sleep, but sleep was the least of my priorities with 5 classes, a job for the first half of the semester at the bakery, and trying to get the puppies out for exercise on a daily basis.  Add in Monday cookie-baking/delivery to the church office, occasional airport shuttles for William (either very, very early or on the way to class), and it's a little more clear as to why blogging fell by the wayside.

Tonight is my first Monday night off in almost 4 months, and I found myself watching the clock to make sure I was running on schedule.  Instead, I'm sitting here...peacefully blogging, eating my dinner, and getting ready to sit back down with the puppies to finish my Swedish mystery, Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum.  It's due today, even though I checked it out on Halloween.  The my defense, I did just start reading it the other day.  Yesterday?  Friday?  I don't remember.  Still on my agenda tonight---planning the Christmas menu, doing some online shopping, and then possibly getting my sore legs off the couch for some in-store purchases.  We'll see how far I get.

Until next week...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Oh, the shame...

I've neglected the blog.  Despite times during my schedule when I could have forced myself to sit down and write something, I didn't.  I'm just starting finals today, and am publicly declaring my New Year's Resolution today, that's starting today:

I'm blogging once a week.  I need to hold myself accountable, but it may not hurt to have people nudge me every once in a while.

So many new and fascinating things happening right now, and I haven't shared them.  I make it sound earth-shattering---it's really not, but I'm almost finished with culinary school, planning a holiday visit to the Northwest, and teaching myself new and random cooking and baking techniques outside of the classroom.

Next week's post will be longer, more detailed, and will attempt to fill in the blanks about where I've been and what I've been up to (with three broken toes).

Until next week...

Monday, August 8, 2011

SS#1: Almond and Chocolate Chunk Biscotti

The inaugural bake for the Sunday Sweets with David, an Almond and Chocolate Chunk Biscotti, was a huge hit in my household!  I've been making biscotti pretty consistently now for almost two years, and while they've always gone pretty quickly, only two were left after the third day of baking.

Granted, I did tweak things a bit when I prepared this recipe...for shame, I know!  While I stuck to the method---whipping the egg whites, sugar, and vanilla for about 5 minutes (which was new to me when it comes to biscotti)---DL mentions a variation with chocolate chips instead of the chopped chocolate.  He prefers the irregularity of the chunks---I prefer the convenience of having half a bag of chocolate chips to use up. ;)  I also didn't cut them quite as thin as I could have after the first bake.  One of the issues I've run into in the past with biscotti is breakage due to the length and width of the cookie post-second baking.  I'm tempted in the future to keep everything in one log, rather than divide it into two--just to get those nice, substantial pieces of biscotti like I've seen at some of the coffee shops here in the US.  While this means the biscotti wasn't as brittle as the thinner pieces have been, it was safer to the roofs of our mouths. :)

Looking forward to next month's bake!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Skip-a-dee doo dah...

Hi, y'all-

I'm skipping this month's bake, Creme Brulee.  I've never been a fan of the texture, and instead took the opportunity to bake up some Oreo Brownies for a friend of ours on his birthday!

See you next month, and happy baking!  If you're in warmer climates...I feel your pain!  Forecast this week is 106-108 all week long...not so much fun in front of the stoves at work, and worse when the A/C goes out!  YIKES!

Yours in butter and heavy cream,


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BWD#7 Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

First and foremost, I apologize for the delayed post!  Yesterday was the 4th of July here, and my parents flew in for a visit from Washington state.

In any case, the Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler was a huge success (which is good, considering rhubarb is an acquired taste, in my opinion!).  Other than tracking down a cherry pitter at Whole Foods, this is probably one of the easiest recipes I've baked with Dorie. ;)

Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

For the Filling

1 pound sweet red cherries, pitted and halved
12 oz rhubarb, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1" pieces
1/3 c sugar
1 T cornstarch
1 t ground ginger

For the Topping
3/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c whole wheat flour
3 T packed brown sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground ginger
3/4 stick (6T) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 18 pieces
1/2 c whole milk

Getting Ready:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375.  Butter an 8" square baking pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

To Make the Filling:  Mix the cherries and rhubarb together in a medium bowl and stir in the sugar, cornstarch, and ginger.  Stir the fruit from time to time while you make the topping.

To Make the Topping:  Put both flours, the brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and ginger in a food processor.  Pulse a couple times to blend.  Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and, using 1-2 second long pulses, mix in the butter until the dough looks like very coarse meal with a bunch of pea size pieces tossed in.  Continuing to pulse the machine, add the milk, then pulse until the dough forms moist clumps and curds.  Try not to process the dough so long that it forms a ball on the blade.  Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface. 

Cut the dough into 20 pieces and gently shape each piece into a ball.  Don't worry about making the pieces perfectly round---the important thing is to not handle the dough too much or too roughly.

Pour the fruit and its syrupy liquid into the buttered pan and top with biscuit puffs, making 4 rows of 5 puffs each.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the biscuits are golden and the fruit is bubbling away.  Remove the pan from the oven and cool the cobbler on a rack for at least 20 minutes.

Is there anything y'all would have changed?  Personally, I LOVE bread (cobbler's been one of my favorite desserts for as long as I can remember) and I'm thinking the next time I bake this I'd probably double the topping recipe to make for some larger biscuits. :)

Because I was fortunate to have the fruit in season (but expensive...holy smokes! 6.99/lb for rhubarb and 4.99/lb for cherries) I didn't have to work with alternatives, but I always like thinking about pairing different fruit combinations and can't wait to see what everyone else came up with!  Thanks for baking with Dorie, Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler...and I apologize again for the delay!

Monday, June 6, 2011

BWD #6 Quintuple Chocolate Brownies....or Death by Chocolate?

This one's for you, Dad---

  • cocoa powder
  • bittersweet chocolate
  • unsweetened chocolate
  • milk chocolate
  • white chocolate
Did I miss anything?  Oh...yes.  Mine, currently, are simply Quadruple Chocolate Brownies.  Sorry for the delay!  Between summer classes, a traveling husband, and my number one taste-tester out of commission, I will be drizzling the white chocolate in the morning for the MIL to take to her fellow volunteer friends. I need an excuse to bake? 

Once the method.  Life is so much easier not having to break out the electric hand-mixer!

I have to confess, I did take some liberties with this recipe.  We don't have coffee in the house anymore, so I mixed up a little instant espresso (it seems like I have that in a few recipes outside of DG) and used that in lieu of the coffee.  I ended up using pecans, on the off chance that my FIL will try these, but I'm pretty sure that he's going to pass on these!

Chopping up the chocolate makes the melting soooo much easier.

Whisking in the sugar, or rather, muscling in the sugar once the chocolate has cooled a bit.

Dry goods---cocoa powder, salt, flour---mixed in with a rubber spatula and finished with a cup of milk chocolate chips and pecans.

Voila!  Minus the white chocolate...tonight.  Gooey white chocolate+late night=postponed!

And have your own copy of the book now.  No excuses!  Break it in!

Date Night. Party of 1.

It's something I used to be pretty okay with.  Comfortable, actually.  I didn't give it a second thought.  What's that?  Dining on my own.  In public. 

When I traveled frequently for work, it didn't bother me.  I'd sit quietly, tucked away in some corner with my laptop, a book, newspaper...whatever I had that needed attending to.  I had good intentions last night to study for Beverage Management, but I've done so much reading for school lately that I decided to take the night off.  I'm paying for it today, but it was probably much needed and of course...well deserved. ;)

I decided to try something new last night.  Something new as in---location, regional cuisine, and new food.  The trifecta of things that make me uncomfortable.  I was so, so, so close to chickening out and being completely boring---but I decided that I'm not going to be expanding my palate without trying something new. 

I'd been discussing Mediterranean food with my father in law the other night and have been craving hummus and pita bread like nobody's business!  It's a little different buying it at HEB with a bag of pita chips, or having the appetizer at The Cheesecake Factory.  I craved an authentic experience.  Thanks to, I picked Arpeggio Grill.  Not only did this offer the things I'd listed above that I was nervous about, it's not in a great area of town...and it's in a strip mall.  Normally, I don't think twice if Husband is dining with me, but after a frightening semester of sanitation and safety with a scary instructor, I usually triple-check my options.  I sucked it up, plugged in the address in the GPS, and headed out with my book in hand.

The food was good.  Not earth shattering or mind blowing, but large portions and inexpensive.  I had the hummus, chicken kabob with basmati and Greek salad (seriously, people...I want authentic salad...not Romaine with a few red onions and two olives), and tabbouleh.  I've never had tabbouleh, and what I was expecting and what I ate were completely different.  I have to confess, though, I was much happier with what I ate! 

Here's a link to their website if you happen to live in the area:

My biggest complaint was that the service was so slow...slow as in, I was there for about 2 hours.  Yes.  For an appetizer, entree and salad.  Not cool, AG, not cool.  Enjoy the pic!

Tabbouleh (far left) with Greek salad, basmati rice, and two chicken kabobs with green pepper and red onion.  Mmmm....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer 2011...Trying some things...

This is the first time in a while I've had a chance to catch my breath and post something other than photos for the BWD posts every other Monday.  I've been doing a lot of thinking about the things I'd like to accomplish from my list this summer---some of which I'll be able to enjoy with my parents, others on my own or with other friends---and wanted to share a few of these adventures!  It seems as though I discover something every day that I haven't yet tried, and am excited to start the experience!

A few of the items are going to be summer-long endeavors:
  • Reading and watching the Harry Potter series (I've completed the first)
  • Reading Jane Austen (I'm going to guess this will take me from today's date, 5/24/2011 through the end of the year!)
  • Reading three books I read during high school
Some are crafty:
  • Create five sewing projects for myself (and I just fell upon a website for a store in SPOKANE of all places that sells both the patterns AND the fabric for a particular designer)
  • Learn to crochet
  • Finish a knitting project...more specifically, I'll root for a scarf to be completed
  • Use scrapbooking supplies---for cards, frames, etc
  • Make homemade soap
  • Make homemade candles
And finally, some are for the culinary artist:
  • Make doughnuts at home
  • Make candy at home---something that challenges me, using a food thermometer
  • Try eating a new ethnic cuisine
  • Eat at one of Austin's famous trailers
  • Eat at Magnolia Cafe without buyer's remorse (or guilt)
  • Make homemade s'mores---marshmallows AND graham crackers
  • Make homemade preserves (with my brand-new pressure cooker)
And some are just plain fun:
  • Visit the Alamo
  • Go swimming in Barton Springs
  • Have a themed party---I'm thinking something like 80s aerobic?
  • Take self-defense
  • Go on a roadtrip
  • Try bikram 
  • Take a trapeze lesson
  • Swim in an ocean
  • Go to gospel brunch
  • Buy cowboy boots
  • Visit Schlitterbahn---look it up!
I'll track my progress more diligently---with five classes last semester, and four of them being labs, I barely had time to sleep if it wasn't in my schedule.

The summer night is like a perfection of thought.  ~Wallace Stevens

Monday, May 23, 2011

BWD#5 Cornmeal Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread---one of the yummiest, simplest desserts that can be made so many different ways!

I had to improvise this time---no lemons, but we did have a few oranges in the refrigerator---so I substituted orange zest for lemon zest.  It got me thinking---those oranges that are sold around the holiday season that are covered in chocolate!  To make these a bit fancier, I'd probably melt some bittersweet chocolate and dip a corner of the shortbread in them.

In any case, I love the method DG has us utilize---putting the dough into a ziploc and rolling it out.  I wish EVERYTHING could be done this way!!!

Simply adore the tea set and serving table---both wedding gifts!

Monday, May 9, 2011

BWD#4 Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

I can't believe how quickly the last two weeks have flown by, with finals and plenty of other things to keep me busy.

I was a bit nervous at first when I tried to track down the Mission figs, because I visited a supermarket that I don't usually use---I must have done three trips through the aisles before I found the dried fruit!

This is my first experience baking with figs, and I have to say, the dried figs are super easy to work with---especially SunMaid.  They're not dry or difficult to work with.  This batter was definitely one of the easiest I've had to put together!  I'm planning on not feeding anyone tonight (well...the cake, anyway) because DG suggests the flavors, particularly the honey, mature after one day.

I'm interested to see how the texture turns out, as the combination of cornmeal, honey, sugar, and ricotta is an interesting one!

Here's a little preview of the pre-baked product:

The beginnings...

Finished product...being packed up and sent over to my father-in-law!  Reviews to come!  Back to the books...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

BWD#3 Great Grains Muffins

A day late.  Again.  I have a great excuse.  Here he is:

Spending some time with's cutest nephew!

Last minute trip up to Milwaukee, WI to visit my brother's firstborn (and the man to whom I devoted Bill's Big Carrot Cake) and spend Easter weekend getting some much needed relaxation, sweatpants, and baby time!

As promised, I baked the Great Grains Muffins bright and early this morning.  Not so early!

Pot of tea and muffins, anyone? the smell of cornmeal!

One of the things I'm growing to appreciate as a budding baker is the fact that Dorie's assembly is so simple. much easier can combining the dry ingredients...combining the wet ingredients...then pouring the wet into the dry, stirring and baking be?!  Plus, none of these ingredients has thirty components, all of which need to be Googled and none of which can be pronounced!  I love it!  This is definitely a versatile muffin---I mixed in golden raisins, and William reported it was a bit on the sweet side.  I'd imagine I could have added a combination of just about any dried fruit or toasted some walnuts or almonds and created more subtle changes.  Moist crumb, subtle flavors, a hint of maple and cornmeal---perfect addition to a morning cup of tea or coffee.  Looking forward to the next BWD!  Bring on the Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake!!! I'm armed and ready with my 10.5" French fluted tart pan.  See you in two weeks, BWD friends!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

BWD #2, Part 2: A Birthday Cake for Deacon

As of this morning at approximately 8:51 or so...I'm an AUNT!!!  My brother and sister in law had their little boy, Deacon, and he was 19" and weighed 8 lbs, 4 oz.  Considering our anniversary was two days ago, and now Deacon's here---April is shaping up to be quite a memorable month, indeed!  Reason for celebration with a carrot cake!

As promised, I've included a few more deconstructed...and fully assembled pics!  I chose to make it with homemade lemon curd and homemade whipped cream, rather than the sugary sweet cream cheese frosting.  Husband will be home shortly to give his review!

The elements...whipped cream, lemon curd, and three layers of carrot cake.

Lemon Curd-Whipped Cream and a base layer of cake.

The leaning tower of Bill's Big Carrot Cake!

Much better.

Monday, April 11, 2011

BWD #2 Bill's Big Carrot Cake, Part 1

So...the saying "Failure to plan is planning to fail" comes to mind when thinking about this week's BWD.  I decided to try a different variation---rather than make the lemon cream cheese frosting that uses an entire pound of confectioner's sugar, I'm making my very first batch of homemade lemon curd, which will include an addition of whipped cream.  The lemon curd is currently sitting on the counter, cooling to room temperature before it can be refrigerated.  Strike 1!

This is, by no means, a baking catastrophe, and I'm quite excited to see how it turns out.  That being said, I'll post the deconstructed photos of BWD this week, with a promise of the completed, assembled product tomorrow.

In honor of our first wedding anniversary...this cake shall henceforth be known as William's Anniversary Cake. :)  Sorry, Dorie---the top layer of our amazing Dairy Queen Blizzard Cake is safely stored in my parents' freezer up in WA.

I have about three cups of leftover shredded carrots, so I'll be perusing the book to see how I may use them!  Shout out to my hubby for letting me test recipes out on him...and to our 366th day of wedded bliss.  Love you, Mr. Behr!

BWD#2 Bill's Big Carrot Cake, a variation

Bill's Big Carrot Cake---deconstructed---and smelling AMAZING!

Homemade Lemon Curd

The beginnings of homemade lemon curd+muscles (not shown)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

BWD....Catching Up

So...I know it's not a requirement, but 1. I love baking, and 2. I have the, 3. I want to feel like I'm REALLLLLY part of this project.  With that being said, I'm going to try to play catch up with the rest of the club and bake (in no particular order) the recipes that they've already prepared in the past year!

And...Husband's been working out of the house quite often these days and this makes me feel like I'm contributing in a home-maker-ish way. :)

No staging, as I prepped and baked this off pretty quickly...

Coffee Break Muffins---super easy, Dump and Go Method and an excellent way to use that last cup of cold coffee!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

BWD #1 Brrr-ownies

Note to self---don't substitute York Pieces for anything.  Ever.

This was my first BWD experience---I've made a version of these brownies before, but in larger portion and slightly different ingredients.  I'm going to have to say, I prefer the version I've used in the past---Dorie's version seems to be a little fudgier---I prefer brownies that are more cake-like.  Also...ended up using the York Peppermint Pieces that William picked up from the store.  Unfortunately, they have a candy coating (blue and white) which isn't visually appealing, and doesn't stand up to oven temperatures!  Live and learn!  Conveniently packaged for large handfuls of minty goodness, though!

Maybe these deserve a second chance---with patties. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baking with Dorie Group!

So, one of the items on my bucket list this year is to join a book group...but with the amount of reading I'm required to do in school paired with schedules and other commitments, I've found the perfect alternative---an online club! 

I'm very excited to start the Baking with Dorie Group---baking our way through Dorie Greenspan's "Baking:  From My Home to Yours."  The link to the book is here:

I did a little more investigating, and there are TONS of groups like this out there!  This will help me expand my culinary experiments, love of photography, and meeting other foodies!  Can't wait for the first challenge this coming's a recipe that's very familiar to me---Brrrownies (they're very similar to the York Peppermint Brownies I bake every holiday season).  Look for pictures to follow this weekend!

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Year of Yes

After re-writing my list of things I'd like to do this year, I realized that this adventure is quickly becoming like Jim Carrey's character in "The Yes Man."  And for the first time in my life...I can honestly say that I'm REALLY enjoying trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone!

To date...

  • I've tried new foods---chayote, squid (no batter...just rice!), baby bok choy, leeks, AND more to come!
  • Made the baby quilts---Jennifer and Courtney, with more babies on the way---which means more projects!
  • Went to Build a Bear and created Herbie, the Love Bug
  • Started volunteering---first event at Bee Cave, Dr. Seuss Party next weekend, volunteer orientation for reading at storytime with the Austin Public Library, and teaming up with a friend for Bake-A-Wish
  • Made sushi at home---we think we have the whole zushi (sushi rice) figured out...and YES, it's crucial to the success or failure of the adventure!
  • Climbed Enchanted Rock (kind of a big deal, as I'm scared of heights!)
  • Took a women/handguns safety course!
  • Took a Pilates Reformer class.
  • Went to JuicyTart Yogurt, a DIY yogurt shop (this is big, because I've NEVER gotten to do this DURING contest prep!)
A few of the things on my list depend upon the season---kayaking, stand up paddleboard, sporting events---while others are projects that will take some time---training for a triathlon and marathon, reading and watching the entire Harry Potter series, container gardening, creating an Etsy store to sell crafts.

What's so exciting for me about this experience is sharing it with other people.  William has been working on his Ducati, and one of the items on my list is going for a motorcycle ride---I'm scared of motorcycles.  Others will involve projects and cooking experiments with friends or family. 

My dad and I spoke early on when I was thinking about doing this, and he reminded me not to get caught up in the number, and it's safe to say that I'm having so much fun branching out that I don't think I want this to have a hard stop at January 2012. 

As they say in Shawshank Redemption---"Get busy living, or get busy dying."  We all have choices, and I'm choosing to get everything I can out of life these days!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Over-achiever...let's go for 52!

At the suggestion of a friend, I have decided to expand my list of 30 and have decided to increase the number to 52.  I'm not a mathematician, but yes...this means one a week for the entire year.  Am I an over-achiever?  Most certainly.  Will I do more than one thing a week sometimes?  Um, duh.  Of course I will.

The terms and conditions of my endeavors...

1.  I can't cross two things off the list at the same time.
     example:  Eating trailer food/Trying a new ethnic food

2.  Activities should not be illegal or life-threatening.

3.  I'm not trying to break the bank, so activities should also not be super-expensive.
     example:  Backpacking through Europe/Courtside seats at an NBA game

4.  The goal of the experience is FOR the experience, and not to focus on the number.

5.  Some of the activities may be things I have done in the past, but am re-visiting in order to participate with a more mature mind-set.
     example:  Reading three books from my Advanced Placement classes in high school/Reading    the         entire collection of Jane Austen

6.  Become a better version of the person I am today.

An idea of a few of the things I have on the list:

  • Go to an NBA game
  • Volunteer
  • Eat at a food trailer
  • Try a new ethnic food
  • Re-read three books from AP English in high school
  • Make homemade doughnuts
  • Learn how to jar preserves
  • Go to a reading at Book People
  • Take a road-trip to Louisiana
  • Learn how to crochet
  • Teach myself how to put a zipper into an article of clothing
  • Learn how to stand-up paddleboard
I'll be documenting this journey with photos...well, most of them, anyway. :)  Feel free to send suggestions my way, as the list isn't set in stone and will continue to evolve throughout 2011!