Category Archives: event

TWD and a special birthday.

I mentioned in a previous post I don’t have too many friends that I have physically met and consider true friends. I would say I have 2 real, 110%, geniune friends. Friends I would take a bullet for, break the law for, cry for (I have for both) and be absolutely devastated if any harm came to them. They are more like family to me.

Andrew has been my best friend for 12 years and 6 months. We have a strong bond and he is always there to give me an un-bias opinion. He is like the brother I never had and I refer to him as my brother too. We don’t talk everyday on the phone but when we do it’s a good 2-4 hours of talking. We have been through junior high, high school and all that comes along with those crazy years. My senior year I went through some drama and lost every single one of my friends. NO JOKE. I only had 2 friends that kept with me and didn’t believe the lies that were spread about me. I married one of those two and the other was Andrew. I love him so much and thank God for having him in my life. He keeps me grounded when problems get to me.

Then there’s my wonderful, brain-sharing, sister-from-another-mister Megan who I’ve known for the past 4 years. When I moved to Hawaii I was 18, a newly wed, un-employed, friendless and scared. I have never been away from my mom and dad for more than a week. I was now venturing off to pebble in the middle of the ocean with my Infantry husband. I joined an online group and talked with Megan a couple of times through messages and Yahoo! IM. We met at Chili’s in Mililani, HI about the 24th of February 2004, my first thought was… “Woah, she’s tall.” Her first thought… “I don’t want to meet her in a dark alley.” HAHA! We were in-separable for the remainder of my time on the island. I was there when she had her beautiful daughter Layla, she was there on the nights I’d cry missing Noe who was in Iraq, she would drive to my apartment down a winding, dark-as-an-abyss road to go and hang out with me. She would call me after work and ask if I wanted a steak for dinner. She was there when Noe came home from his second tour of Iraq. She was there when I needed to get away and shop or just hang out at her house. She is an amazing person that I love with all my heart.

When I saw that we were making pecan biscuits, I thought “Megan likes pecans in her pancakes.” Then I marked the calendar for the posting day and realized it was on her birthday. How flippin’ awesome is that?? These biscuits rock! Not too sweet but you could add honey if you want it sweeter, that’s what I did because my Megalicious is a sweet heart down to the core. Happy Birthday Megan! I love and miss you tons!

Check out other TWD bakers here.

Enjoy!
-M

Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits
(Makes about 12 biscuits)

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup cake flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/2 cup cold sour cream
1/4 cold whole milk
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans, preferably toasted

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Get out a sharp 2-inch-diameter biscuit cutter and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Whisk the flour(s), baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a bow. Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between– and that’s just right.

Stir the sour cream and milk together and pour over the dry ingredients. Grab a fork and gently toss and turn the ingredients together until you’ve got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick gentle kneading– 3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together. Toss in the pecans and knead 2 to 3 times to incorporate them.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour, pat the dough out with your hands or toll it with a pin until it is about 1/2 inch high. Don’t worry if the dough isn’t completely even– a quick, light touch is more important than accuracy.

Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut the biscuits close to one another so you get the most you can out of the first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet. Gather together the scraps, working with them as little as possible, pat out to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer these to the sheet. (The biscuits ca be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept for up to 2 months. Bake without defrosting– just add a couple more minutes to the oven time.)

Bake the biscuits for 14-18 minutes, or until they are tall, puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a serving basket.

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11 Comments

Filed under birthday, biscuits, event, pecan, quick bread, Tuesdays with Dorie

Family is like chocolate…

Sometimes sweet, semi-sweet or bitter sweet! LOL My family is always sweet, treking across to AZ from CA to visit and sometimes unexpectedly.

My husband and I had planned on a quite, maybe a motorcycle, bowling-filled weekend. Lots of sleep sprinkled here and there. We got a call Friday afternoon that my sister-in-law and her brother-in-law plus families (11 people) would be in AZ that evening. I have no problem with having family over, it’s super fun to see my nephew Emilio and my sis-in-law Jeni, she is hilarious. But as my husband told me when I was driving home we would have company I remembered that I hadn’t finished laundry or washed all the linens. Crap! LOL

The weekend turned out fantastic and we had plenty of fun. We also had home made carnitas, salsa and beans. It was an extremely fantastic meal. I wanted to contribute something to the party, I didn’t want to be the person that the host’s feel are the “just there for the food”. I remembered that my Tuesdays with Dorie cake would be due soon.

I will say that I strayed from the pan and chocolate on this recipe. I am not a HUGE bittersweet chocolate fan and the majority of people I know aren’t either. I decided to use semi-sweet chocolate and used 8 ounces instead of 9 to make sure I didn’t send anybody into a sugar coma. I also used a 9 inch springform pan instead of the 8 inch because I couldn’t find the flippin’ bottom to the 8 inch pan. Oh well, it worked out well because I needed to feed a crowd. My sis-in-law said it tasted like a brownie, it kinda did but I think it was more chocolate-y than a regular brownie. It was a very simple cake and had a rockin’ taste. I didn’t add the chocolate glaze because I can’t handle that much chocolate or sugar at once. I get dizzy and a bad belly ache. Instead I added Cool whip and it was a hit with my nephew Emilio. He LOVED LOVED LOVED it. hehe!

I do have one question for my fellow TWD bakers. I baked the cake, let it cool a little and it looked nice and fluffy but I gave it a quick poke and it broke! It had a crispy outer shell filled with air. Does anyone know what I did wrong?

Check out the other Tuesdays with Dorie cakes.

Enjoy!
-M

Almost-Fudge Gâteau
5 large eggs
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup of sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons coffee or water
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
For the Glaze (optional)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy, and that’s fine. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.
Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm, but glossy peaks. Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the butter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you’ll think it’s done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn’t shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.

To Make the Optional Glaze:
First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack so you’ll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips.

Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.
Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven – the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile, bring the cream to a boil in a small sauce pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup.

Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don’t worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake – it will just add to its charms. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature or, if you’re impatient, slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. If the glaze dulls in the fridge, just give it a little gentle heat from a hairdryer.

12 Comments

Filed under cake, chocolate, cool whip, event, Tuesdays with Dorie

More like dough"NOT"…

Anything that involves yeast scares me. Period. I took a gourmet foods class in high school and rocked at just about everything. Just about. I was aweful with yeast. Didn’t wait long enough, waited too long, didn’t knead enough, kneaded too much, etc. When I saw Peabody was hosting an event (along with Helen at Tartlette) I was over joyed to participate. But then I realized, I’m going to have to use yeast. CRAP! But I rolled my sleaves up and went to it.

I Google searched “baked doughnut recipe” and came to the awe inspiring Heidi Swanson’s recipe. I have heard a lot of people having success with this recipe. I thought well, I can’t screw it up THAT bad. But to be honest, I think my fear got the best of me. I started out well, I was patient with the yeast, I let it rise, but then disaster strikes. I think, correction, I know what I did. I rolled it extremely thin for a doughnut and cut the hole to flippin’ big. I know, I know I should have tried to help my poor doughNOTs but I didn’t. I’m an awful doughNOT mom. Sigh…

They weren’t all that bad. More bread-y then a light and air-y doughnut. But I love my doughNOT all the same.

Enjoy!
-M

Baked Doughnuts

Don’t over bake these, if anything, under bake them a bit – they will continue baking outside the oven for a few minutes. You want an interior that is moist and tender – not dry. Also, be sure to cut big enough holes in the center of your doughnuts – too small and they will bake entirely shut. Remember they rise, and they rise even more when they are baking. These really need to be made-to-order, but you can make and shape the dough the night before if you want to serve them for brunch. Instructions: after shaping, place doughnuts on baking sheet, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Pull them out an hour before baking, and let rise in a warm place before baking.

1 1/3 cups warm milk, 95 to 105 degrees (divided)
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
5 cups all-purpose flour
A pinch or two of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Place 1/3 cup of the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the yeast and set aside for five minutes or so. Be sure your milk isn’t too hot or it will kill the yeast. Stir the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture. With a fork, stir in the eggs, flour, nutmeg, and salt – just until the flour is incorporated. With the dough hook attachment of your mixer beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed. This is where you are going to need to make adjustments – if your dough is overly sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time. Too dry? Add more milk a bit at a time. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and eventually become supple and smooth. Turn it out onto a floured counter-top, knead a few times (the dough should be barely sticky), and shape into a ball.

Transfer the dough to a buttered (or oiled) bowl, cover, put in a warm place (I turn on the oven at this point and set the bowl on top), and let rise for an hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and roll it out 1/2-inch thick on your floured countertop. Most people (like myself) don’t have a doughnut cutter, instead I use a 2-3 inch cookie cutter to stamp out circles. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and stamp out the smaller inner circles using a smaller cutter. If you cut the inner holes out any earlier, they become distorted when you attempt to move them. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.
Bake in a 375 degree oven until the bottoms are just golden, 8 to 10 minutes – start checking around 8. While the doughnuts are baking, place the butter in a medium bowl. Place the sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool for just a minute or two. Dip each one in the melted butter and a quick toss in the sugar bowl. Eat immediately if not sooner.

Makes 1 1/2 – 2 dozen medium doughnuts.

9 Comments

Filed under doughnut, event, sugar

Michelle – 0.5 | Pie – 0.5

This month for the daring bakers challenge Jen from The Canadian Baker chose a Lemon Meringue Pie. I was extremely excited about it because I love anything lemon but I was also a little intimidated after I heard about the problems a few fellow bakers were having but put I rolled up my sleeves and went to it. I tried to take all the advice from other Daring Bakers and had semi-success with it, hence the blog title. My meringue did not pull away from the edges, it browned in the oven beautifully after about 10 minutes and I didn’t get lemon scrambled eggs. 😛 I cut my slice set it on my plate to photograph it in all it’s firm wonder. I walk away and try to feed a bite to my anit-tart husband. He takes a bite and makes the face of a 2 year old when you try to feed them broccoli. I had a feeling he would give me that kind of face but I thought by some grace of God he would have different taste buds… unfortunately not, he is still a PB&J fiend. I sit next to him on the couch and watch him play his XBOX 360 and take a bite of all the hard work and what happens? I make the face like a two year old being fed broccoli. It was too tart! Even for me and I used to eat lemons with a sprinkle of salt on a hot Arizona afternoon! I am convinced I did something wrong. When I returned to my pie sitting on the counter, it was running. Not too much but you can tell it was starting to give. Sigh… So I guess the pie won, as did I.

Definetly try the recipe and see who wins the battle. 😉

Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:

¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:

2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:

5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Daring Bakers Extra Challenge
Free-Style Lemon Tartlets

Prepare the recipe as above but complete the following steps:

To roll out tartlet dough, slice the dough into 6 pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each circle of dough into a 5 inch disk. Stack the disks, separated by pieces of plastic wrap, on a plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To bake the dough, position rack in oven to the centre of oven and preheat to 350ºF (180ºC). Place the disks of dough, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.

To finish tartlets, first place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and increase heat to 425ºF.

Divide the lemon filling equally among the disks, mounding it in the centre and leaving a 1-inch border all the way around.

Spoon the meringue decoratively over each tartlet, right to the edges, in dramatic swirling peaks. Return tartlets to oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.

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Filed under Daring Bakers, dessert, event, fruit, lemon, meringue, pie

I confess…

I consider myself a good cook. Not great, not awful but pretty good. There are some dishes I am fantastic at, such as corn bread, jalapeno corn or chilaquiles. Others I am awful at, like rice or albondigas. Albondigas is a Mexican meatball soup. Lots of ingredients, steps and about a million variations. My absolute arch enemy would have to be rice. I don’t know what it is but I just can’t get it right. It gets mushy, too dry, not enough spice or too much spice. I can never judge it correctly. My momma on the other hand can probably make rice in her sleep. It will have the perfect amount of spice, tomoato, corn or peas it needs and it will be fluffy and you will not feel a hard grain at all. It will just melt in your mouth. My grama can make rice with one hand tied behind her back, blind folded , and like my momma, it will be absolutely heaveanly. Now why wasn’t I blessed with this trait?

A couple of days ago I told my husband I wanted to master rice. He, God bless his stomach, said to go for it and he would tell me his honest opinion. Night #1 was upon us and I measured out every ingredient. The rice, water, garlic salt and chicken boullian. I timed it and checked it frequently, all 23 minutes of cooking time. We sat down and I eagerly watched as he squinted his eyes and took his first fork full. It seemed like he chewed for hours and he said it’s good! A few hard grains and a little too much spice. I took my notes and we ate our dinner. Night #2 comes, I read my notes, begin to cook and watch it like a hawk for the 22 minutes it took to cook. He tries it (without squinting) and says it’s really good. No hard grains and the spice is a better than the previous night.

So here I am, on my thrid attempt. But remembering that Stephanie at Dispensing Happiness had chose Veggie Friendly for Blog Party #30. I thought a good rice would be fantastic for this. I decided to add some onion and a jalapeno to the rice as I browned it before adding the water. I thought it would be a fantastic taste to the rice and something a little different than the rice for the past week. The husband loved it but said it was a tad too salty. I am thinking I used a bit too much garlic salt. I liked it and it wasn’t salty at all but I’m still sick so the taste buds are a little out of commision still. Still good nonetheless.

Jalapeno Rice topped with Cilantro.

*Recipe to come*

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Filed under blog party, event, jalapeno, rice