Category Archives: Tuesdays with Dorie

Food Coma

I like to eat. It’s probably visible in my appearance; I’m a bit of a fluffy person. It really doesn’t bother me, I can do all the things I like and I watch what I eat. I know I’m healthy; I can climb up the stairs in my house about 5 billion times a day and not go into cardiac arrest. I enjoy my fluffiness and it drives the husband wild, so we are good to go. 😉 About 4 years ago while in Hawaii with my husband I coined a term… food coma.

Being a young military family you realize that celebrating Valentines on February 14, Christmas on December 25 or my birthday on November 26 (Hint: I ❤ Le Creuset. 😉 ) isn’t all that important. My husband and I began to celebrate holidays and birthdays whenever we were together and near the original date. One of “our” dates is January 16, 2008. Yeah it’s usually the day after pay day for some or just the middle of the month for others, but for us it’s Valentines day! 😀 It’s also the day that my husband proposed to me. October 10, 2003 we got married and he officially proposed to me January 16, 2006. Funny, I know but that’s a story for another dish. 😉 My husband and I were celebrating our anniversary with a day at the beach and some junk food. He knew I wanted an iPod and decided to see how bad I really wanted it but throwing out a wager for it. He said if I had a #7, large with a pumpkin shake from Jack in the Box, I could get it. I thought in my brain “Yum, I can do that. I like all aspects of that bet.” But I failed to realize how LARGE a LARGE is from Jack in the Box. Not only is the hamburger the ultimate but I also had to eat a LARGE milk shake AND curly fries. Crap. I enjoyed most of it and it was delicious. I went almost into a euphoric state. I had a nice full belly from the hamburger but I had to finish that milk shake. I started sippin’ slowly but the bottom of the cup wasn’t getting closer. But I wanted my flippin’ iPod! I wanted it! LOL I eventually finished but went into a food coma, which includes laying in a fetal position to not stretch out the bulging stomach and cause awful pain, I was taking short breathes due to the fullness of my stomach cavity. It wasn’t a happy site but guess what? I got my iPod! There aren’t many things I will willingly eat myself into a food coma… except… cornbread-anything.

Guess that happened last night? I was in a cornbread-ish cake induced food coma and I’m paying dearly for it today. LOL

This weeks TWD was a great cake. I used corn meal because I could not find polenta and I also substituted dried cranberries for figs. We aren’t much of fig fans here. This is a great cake and was very moist. I will say it tasted more like a pound cake then anything to me. But you all know how I feel about anything corn bread-ish. 😉 haha!

Check out other TWD bakers here.

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

5 oz dried cranberries

1 C medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal

½ C all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 C ricotta

1/3 C tepid water

¾ C sugar

¾ C honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)

Grated zest of 1 lemon

2 large eggs

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 ½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Toss blueberries into a small pan of boiling water and steep for a minute, then drain and pat dry.

Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder, and salt together.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the ricotta and water together on low speed until very smooth. With the mixer at medium speed, add the sugar, honey, and lemon zest and beat until light. Beat in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are fully incorporated. You’ll have a sleek, smooth, pourable batter.

Pour about one third of the batter into the pan and scatter over the cranberries. Pour in the rest of the batter, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if necessary, and dot the batter evenly with the chilled bits of butter.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake should be honey brown and pulling away just a little from the sides of the pan, and the butter will have left light-colored circles in the top. Transfer the cake to a rack and remove the sides of the pan after about 5 minutes. Cool to warm, or cool completely.

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Filed under cake, corn bread, fruit, honey, Tuesdays with Dorie

We like cartoons.

I like cartoons, always have and I know I always will. I’m sure when I’m 45 I will still love to watch all sorts of cartoons… correction… I KNOW I will.  🙂  This last weekend I was fortunate enough to have my family out for the husband’s birthday; by the way, we had a blast! Initially it was my mom, Andrea (little big sister), Linda (big sister), her husband and daughter. We got things ready for a little birthday party for the husband while he was out taking a police officer exam. [Wish him luck! 😀 ] We did a Bee Movie theme, it’s his new favorite movie. My husband and I signed up for a Hollywood Video membership for $29 a month and get unlimited movie rentals a month. The second we signed up I told him I wanted to see Bee Movie. He rolled his eyes and said I was lame. 🙄  I’ve seen the previews and thought it looked too stinkin’ cute to pass up. After about 4 weeks, I FINALLY got a copy and we saw it as soon as we got home. The movie is SO cute and funny. I definitely recommend it to anyone.

Back to the main topic… my sisters, mom and bro-in-law get the house decorated and began the enormous task of making food. We begin to make cupcakes, salsa, potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, hamburgers and hot dogs.  😀  The party went off great! Everyone ate, talked and enjoyed the day to celebrate such a great man… my husband! We all sat and vegetated after filling our bellys with food and began watching UFC when the door bell rings. Koa flips out and I run to the door to tell whoever it is to stop ringing the door bell when I see my dad! WHAT! MY DAD! My dad didn’t come with my sisters and mom on Friday evening because he had to work on Saturday and was just going to stay home and wait for his girls to come home.  So while we were eating then beginning to vegetate he was getting out of an 8 hour work day, then driving the 4.5 hour drive for the husbands birthday. How awesome is my dad? I know, too flippin’ awesome.  🙂  On Sunday morning, I woke up at 7 am. BOO!  😐  and began to make breakfast for everyone. My dad wakes up and showers and plops on the couch. What is he watching you ask? SpongeBob SquarePants. Yup, SpongeBob SquarePants. He is a 48 year old dood that absolutely loves cartoons, which shows me what I will be like to watch at that age.

When I saw this weeks recipe was carrot cake, I secretly got excited! The husband loves carrot cake, but I don’t make it all that much because of the shredding. I am famous for my crappy shredding skills and shredding chunks of my fingers off. But I knew Dorie wouldn’t fail me with a fantastic recipe… and as usual, she didn’t. This is a great cake with an awesome flavor. I changed my version up a bit by making it like a jelly roll then cutting circles out to make mini cakes. I cut the sugar on the frosting but it was still delicious. Check out other TWD bakers here.

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Yields 10 servings

Ingredients:

For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

To make the frosting:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.
If you’d like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To assemble the cake:
Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.
Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

Serving:
This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it’s good plain, it’s even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.

Storing:
The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it’s firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

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Filed under birthday, cake, dessert, fruit, nuts, sugar, Tuesdays with Dorie, vegetable

The Tank.

My little big sister Andrea is fun, I mean SUPER fun. She is my younger sister but I call her my little big sister because she is taller than me. She is also known as the tank. She is a tall gal that can get into your face when she wants and doesn’t give a rats ass who you are. She will tell you what she thinks and you have to live with it. She is intimidating and occasionally scary… just like a tank. 😀 This past New Years Eve was at my house, it was fun. Lots of family, lots of fun and loads of good times. It was the second event/holiday that my husband and I hosted at our home. It was awewsome to see the whole gang, which in reality was not even the whole gang. We were operating at 40% or so. But I’m looking forward to Christmas 2008; we will be having the W-H-O-L-E gang. Eek! For N.Y.E this year my sister and I made Rice Krispies Treats for the kids. We went shopping for ingredients and as we went down the marshmallow aisle I quickly grabbed the store brand and went on my way. She called me a cheapo. I told her it’s the same thing as the other brands but I’m saving like two whole dollars, TWO DOLLARS! She gave me a look, rolled her eyes and called me a cheapo… again. 😐

In my defense, I’m a bargain shopper. I don’t spend more than I need to on anything. Depending on what I am cooking or baking I will opt for the store brand for an item, if available, or a cheaper brand. I can save between $12-$50 dollars on my food bill. It isn’t saving thousands of dollars but I see it as a more money in my pocket. We all know extra money is needed with the rising gas prices. 😦 To be completely honest, with many items I have not tasted or seen a difference in the quality of the item. The Wal-mart brand, Great Value, of zip-lock bags close just the same as the Ziploc brand does, the GV frozen corn cooks up just as juicy as the Del Monte brand and the GV chocolate chips make cookies just as ooey, gooey good as the Hershey’s chocolate chips. 🙂 There are a few items that I won’t substitute like cocoa powder, preserves or BBQ sauce. But if I can save a few bucks here and there with off brands I will.

Since having this incident with my sister any single time I walk down the marshmallow aisle I think of her and it makes me miss her. She lives in California and I’m in Arizona so we don’t get a chance to see each other all that much. But, boy, when we do see each other we have fun, I mean SUPER fun. 🙂 These are for her and I really hope she always knows how much I love her, no matter what happens.

When I saw that this weeks recipe for TWD was marshmallows I was so excited! I had a few problems with the sugar syrup. I let it go half a minute longer and it began to get rock hard! But the third time is the charm and I think my ‘mallows came out fantastical. I plan on making Rice Krispies treats this weekend when 25% of the gang hopefully comes over for the husbands birthday partay. Check out other TWD members here.

Including marshmallows as a spoon dessert may seem like cheating — after all, they’re eaten with fingers (or, by campers, from sticks picked up in the forest) — but making them at home is too much fun to miss. And in fact this dessert is related to others in this chapter: the base is meringue — sweetened and strengthened by a cooked sugar syrup and fortified by gelatin.

There’s nothing difficult about making the marshmallows, but the meringue does need a long beating. While you can use a hand mixer, a stand mixer makes the job easier.

I’m giving you the recipe for a basic vanilla marshmallow. See Playing Around (below) for raspberry, chocolate, cappuccino and pumpkin marshmallows.

Makes about 1 pound marshmallows

About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

3/4 cup cold water

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

GETTING READY: Line a rimmed baking sheet — choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high — with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.

Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup — without stirring — until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)

Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy — don’t overbeat them and have them go dull.

As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.

Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won’t fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).

Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They’ll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.

Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you’ll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you’d like — into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they’re cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you’ve got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.

SERVING: Put the marshmallows out and let everyone nibble as they wish. Sometimes I fill a tall glass vase with the marshmallows and put it in the center of the table — it never fails to make friends smile. You can also top hot chocolate or cold sundaes with the marshmallows.

STORING: Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place; don’t cover them closely. Stored in this way, they will keep for about 1 week — they might develop a little crust on the outside or they might get a little firmer on the inside, but they’ll still be very good.

Playing Around

RASPBERRY MARSHMALLOWS: Fruit purees are excellent for flavoring these candies.

For raspberry marshmallows, you’ll need a generous 1/3 cup of puree; reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the puree with a rubber spatula. You can use the same measurements and technique for other purees, such as strawberry, mango and passion fruit.

CAPPUCCINO MARSHMALLOWS: Sift 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon together into a small bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water and mix until smooth. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon, and add it to the espresso mix. After you add the sugar syrup and gelatin to the meringue, beat in the espresso mixture and continue.

LIGHT CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOWS: Melt 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon, and after the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the chocolate mixture with a large rubber spatula.

PUMPKIN SPICE MARSHMALLOWS: Whisk together 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of ground allspice. After the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the spiced pumpkin with a large rubber spatula.

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Filed under sugar, Tuesdays with Dorie

My soap box moment.

It’s beed busy at work. It usually is when you have about 5,000 inmates all acting like 2 year olds and whining about anything under the sun. He said this, he looked at me like this, he bumped into me… blah blah blah. Sometimes I want to hit them in the head and say “Atleast you get to walk around and enjoy the sun for a few hours, inmates in segregation are inside 23.5 hours of the day, so SHUT IT!”. But they still complain. Don’t get me wrong, I like my job there are even some days when I love it. 😛 It keeps my busy and keeps steady money in my bank account. But don’t forget, I’m a state employee so it isn’t much. If you have ever worked for a state agency you know it’s the bottom of the bucket. The county is a little better but the city employment is what you want to shoot for. On top of being a state employee, I also work for the department of corrections. We usually never get the funding we need, aren’t included in decision making and are seen as police department rejects. I don’t see it that way. These men and women are keeping over 38,500 men and women behind bars and in line. They over see the women on death throw, DUI offenders, child molesters, rapists, murderers and anything in between. Weather they are 4 feet tall or 7 feet tall (we have some 7 footers at my work) and up to 500 pounds. They deal with poo being flung at them to inmates with geniune illnesses even to the ones wrongly accused (sometimes it happens). They do a lot, put up with a ton, get paid pennies but come to work everyday prepared to keep us safe by keeping them in line and inside, they do it all withOUT any weapons besides themselves and their quick responsiveness. So next time you see a corrections officer, don’t call him a gaurd and thank him for what he or she does. *steps down from soap box*

So for all of my officer friends a sweet treat for dealing with some nasty working conditions. 🙂

This was a great recipe. I made mini-tarts because they are too stinkin’ cute. Noe isn’t a fan of lemon so I made the orange version. If you’d like to see other TWD member made, go here.

Here is the tart recipe, I will get the orange cream one up soon. 🙂

Sweet Tart Dough
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 T) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in- you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal fakes and others the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses- about 10 seconds each- until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change- heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate and dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To press the dough into the pan: butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy handed- press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferable longer, before baking.

To partially or fully bake the crust: center a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Butter the shiny side of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, against the crust. (since you froze it, you can bake it without weights). Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, carefully press it down with the back of a spoon. For partially baked crust, patch the crust if necessary, then transfer the crust to a cooling rack. To fully bake the crust, bake for another 8 minutes or so, or until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature before filling.

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Filed under dessert, fruit, orange, sugar, tart, Tuesdays with Dorie

Sorry Dorie, I’m late!

It has been a crazy time here at our house. I was sick, the husband was sick, the dog was sick, then I was sick again, then the husband is coming down with a stomach thing, then I caught the stomach thing… then… the computer was sick. I had to do some major over haulin’ on the computer, but my babies (the husband, dog & computers) are up to par. I just came down with a fever, but it’s slowly but surely going away.

This is last weeks Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. I know it’s a bit late but I haven’t had a chance to post with all that was happening. I really liked this recipe. I was a bit hesitant with the amount of chocolate and butter. I’m trying to loose a few pounds for a wedding next month, so I only ate one. 😛 The husband was sleeping but I woke him up for it. He was a bit cranky that I woke him up but that soon subsided when we realized I had a chocolate-y treat for him. 🙂 I only managed to save one picture from the sick computer, so that’s all you lovely people get. Enjoy!

 

Gooey Chocolate Cake

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ teaspoon salt

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate,

4 ounces coarsely chopped,

1 ounce very finely chopped

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

6 tablespoons of sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. butter (or spray – it’s easier) 6 cups of a regular-size muffin pan, preferably a disposable aluminum foil pan, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Put the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, put the coarsely chopped chocolate and the butter in the bowl and stir occasionally over the simmering water just until they are melted – you don’t want them to get so hot that the butter separates.  Remove the bowl from the pan of water.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk until homogenous.  Add the sugar and whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes.  Add the dry ingredients and, still using the whisk, stir (don’t beat) them into the eggs.  Little by little, and using a light hand, stir in the melted chocolate and butter.  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle the finely chopped chocolate over the batter.

 Bake the cakes for 13 minutes.  Transfer them, still on the baking sheet, to a rack to cool for 3 minutes. (There is no way to test that these cakes are properly baked, because the inside remains liquid.)

      Line a cutting board with a silicone baking mat or parchment or wax paper, and, after the 3-minute rest, unmold the cakes onto the board.  Use a wide metal spatula to lift the cakes onto dessert plates.

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Filed under chocolate, Tuesdays with Dorie

I’m a coconut.

That’s what my mom says. I just thought it was because I had dark brown hair. My mom and I have a fantastic relationship. We vent our frustrations to each other, talk about husbands, talk about work problems, about our crazy family and everything in between. We are great friends, but first and foremost she is my mother. I have never lacked respect when my mom is involved and despise when anyone does. She works hard and deserves all that she has and more. She works for the County of Orange and has gone from the bottom of the food chain to the top 30% of it. My mom es lo maximo! Haha! I live about 4 hours away from her, which isn’t too much but gah… I miss that woman (and her cooking!) SOO much.

i remember having a conversation with a friend, this is kinda how it went…

ME “My mom calls me a coconut.”

FRIEND “Why?”

ME “Because my hair is brown duh!”

FRIEND “Eh, that’s weird.”

ME “Your face is weird!”

HAHA!

I then go home and ask my momma…

ME “Why do you call me coconut? Brown hair right?”

MOM “Why?”

ME “Just wonderin’”

MOM “Well you know how a coconut is hollow on the inside except for some swishing juice?

ME “Uumm… yeah.”

MOM “That you, there’s no brain up there. Just some swishing juice.”

Me “BURN!!!”

HAHAHAHA!

I told you, my mom and I have a kick ass relationship. She’s my big ugly ugly and I’m the big headed coconut. A couple terms of endearment we have for eachother. I love her with all my heart and miss her everyday.

The other day when I was shopping for some groceries at Wal-Mart and start to go through the produce area and start picking the limes for some cupcakes I’ve been itching to make. I go around to the lime bin and what do I see above it? Coconuts! I have never cracked one open or ever really thought about it, but I figured there is a first time for everything. It sat on the fridge for about 5 days and I didn’t want it to rot so I had the big, buff husband crack it open and get all the meat out so I can shred it. I was so excited about using a fresh coconut. I was shredding and watching ‘Deal or no Deal’ (my new obsession) and it happened. How could I ruin the coconut? How could I do that? What happened you ask? I was shredding the coconut and go to excited and shredded my finger. I thought it was just a scratch but I shredded a good chunk of my finger. I’t gushed for a bit, I cried then went upstairs to wake up the sleeping husband to use his Army training and save my life. It hurts like a beech. I threw out the contaminated coconut, which leaves me with not enought for the cupcakers. I need to get a package at the store now, I don’t think the husband will let me do fresh again. Yesterday, less than 24 hours after the shredding occured, my husbands ENTIRE company, as well as half of California knew about my finger. LOL

This weeks TWD ‘Snickery Squares’ was chosen by Erin of Dinner and Dessert. This recipe has NOTHING to do with coconut but my mom likes dulce de leche and peanuts so it sorta does. We were supposed to make this in a 8” pan but I thought tartlets would be too flippin’ cute until it came time to put the shortbread in the little tins. Yeah… not fun with a useless finger. The peanuts were easy too! I have never carmelized anything and it was super easy. I really want to try it with almonds… yum! This recipe is awesome from what the co-workers said. I’m on a diet so none for me. BOO!

Check out other TWD bakers
here.

Snickery Squares

For the Crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 TBSP powdered sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten

For the Filling:

½ cup sugar
3 TBSP water
1 ½ cups salted peanuts
About 1 ½ cups store-bought dulce de leche

For the Topping:

7 ounces bittersweet, coarsely chopped
½ stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

Getting Ready:
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 8 inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.

To Make the Crust:

Toss the flour, sugar, powdered sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Toss in the pieces of cold butter and pulse about 12 times, until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Pour the yolk over the ingredients and pulse until the dough forms clumps and curds-stop before the dough comes together in a ball.
Turn the dough into the buttered pan and gently press it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough with a fork and slide the sheet into the oven.
Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes, or until it takes on just a little color around the edges. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.

To Make the Filling:

Have a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet at the ready, as well as a long-handled wooden spoon and a medium heavy bottomed saucepan.
Put the sugar and water in the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Keeping the heat fairly high, continue to cook the sugar, without stirring, until it just starts to color. Toss the peanuts and immediately start stirring. Keep stirring, to coat the peanuts with sugar. Within a few minutes, they will be covered with sugar and turn white—keep stirring until the sugar turns back into caramel. When the peanuts are coated with a nice deep amber caramel, remove the pan from the heat and turn the nuts out onto the baking sheet., using the wooden spoon to spread them out as best you can. Cool the nuts to room temperature.
When they are cool enough to handle, separate the nuts or break them into small pieces. Divide the nuts in half. Keep half of the nuts whole or in biggish pieces for the filling, and finely chop the other half for the topping.
Spread the dulce de leche over the shortbread base and sprinkle over the whole candied nuts.

To Make the Topping:

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove chocolate from the heat and gently stir in the butter, stirring until it is fully blended into the chocolate.
Pour the chocolate over the dulce de leche, smoothing it with a long metal icing spatula, then sprinkle over the rest of the peanuts. Slide the pan into the fridge to set the topping, about 20 minutes; if you’d like to serve the squares cold, keep them refrigerated for at least 3 hours before cutting.

Cut into 16 bars.

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Filed under chocolate, dessert, dulce de leche, nuts, Tuesdays with Dorie

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