Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Zebra Trash Cake of Doom

I got this recipe for zebra bundt cake from Bake Me Away. It was one of the cakes featured on The Food Librarian's Big Bundts 2 Round Up. When I saw it, I knew it was going to get bumped up to the top of my to do list. Besides, the recipe was from King Arthur Flour so it's gotta be good. Right? Um no.

It was dreadfully, awfully, horribly, sickeningly disgusting.

I thought that making a red and green version would be super cool and festive to take to a Christmas party. As you can see...the Red and the Green just did not jive well together. I think it would only be festive if one was celebrating the Feast of St. Grossington from Pukingshire. Aside from the atrocious color palate, the cake itself was unpleasant. When I took it out of the oven there was oil bubbling up from the top. Lots of oil. I thought, well maybe it is supposed to be that way. No. No. No.

After letting the cake sit for 20 minutes the darn thing fell. And when I say fell I mean it jumped off of the Willis Building. It was half as tall as what it was when it first came out of the oven. Not a good sign. I mean it's not a good sign unless you like cake so dense it has it's own gravitational pull.

The one good thing about this cake is that it came out of the bundt pan like a dream. Well it should...with all that oil. You can see how shiny the cake is in the picture above. That shine isn't from my camera flash. It's oil.

Once I had resigned myself to the fact that I was indeed not bringing this cake to share with my friends, I decided to at least test a slice. Maybe if I covered it with white chocolate glaze it would be ok for us to eat at home. I cut the smallest sliver and split it with Mrblocko.
After one bite he looked and me and said, "It tastes.."
"Disgusting?" I offered.
"Yes!" He concurred, and we promptly spit our offending mouthfuls into the garbage.

Since I was already throwing this bad boy out, I thought I would cut up the cake to see what the zebra stripes looked like.
Meh. Ugly and undefined. On the upside it was fun to take a slice of cake and mash it in my fist and watch all the oil ooze out onto my hands.

It broke my heart to toss an entire cake into the trash. This was, however, the first time I made something that was completely unsalvageable. I've made a lot of desserts that have turned out just fine. I've also made a lot of mistakes in the kitchen. I think it's pretty sweet odds to say that there was only one thing that I made that I haven't been able to turn into something edible.

One final note to emphasize that this cake was just not meant to be...the next day, when I went to use the heavy cream that I had intended to use for the glaze, the darn cream had curdled. Then, I proceeded to dump said container of chunky cream all over the counter. Talk about the cake of doom!!!!

Zebra Bundt Cake from Bake me Away
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (whole, 2% or 1%)
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted to remove lumps

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar until light, about 2 minutes. On low speed, blend in the milk, oil, and vanilla until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on medium speed until the lumps are gone. Remove 3 cups of the batter and pour into a 4 cup measuring cup (see note above). Add the sifted cocoa powder and mix very thoroughly. Preheat oven to 350F. Lube your bundt pan generously with Pam with flour or Baker’s Joy. At the base of the bundt (point closest to you), spoon about 3 tablespoons of the vanilla batter in one spot (it will spread). Then spoon about 3 tablespoons of the chocolate batter in the center of the vanilla batter. Continue alternating batters like this until you run out of batter. It will spread and fill out the rest of the pan while keeping this pattern. Bake the bundt for about 45 – 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the bundt cool for about 20 minutes in the pan, then invert it onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Project #21: money magnets

My crazy uncle asked for some more magnets for Christmas. Since I didn't want to give him any old boring magnets, or more magnets like the ones I've made him previously, the hunt was on for some crafty new magnet idea. Then I saw directions for these coin magnets over at instructables and I had one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" moments.

I was even able to turn the whole process into something a bit educational for Blockette when I cleaned the coins with vinegar. Some of the coins were really dirty so it was fun to see her expression when they got shiny from the stinky vinegar.
first row: wheat penny, Japanese Yen, publishers clearing house coin

second row: South African Rand, The middle 2 I don't know what they are. (Russian maybe?), and Canadian Quarter.

Blockette also gave my uncle an enormous stack of artwork for Christmas so he had something to use the magnets for right away. I'm sure that my uncle will have a hard time deciding which masterpiece to feature first. Actually, I think she gave him enough that he could wallpaper half his house.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Project #20: Moo Re-do

Deja vu? No. This cross stitch is different from the one I posted earlier. Click here for the original. You can clearly see that the bottom of the cross stitch says 2009.

When I made this last year for my mom it grew legs and walked home with someone else at Joann Fabric's. My mom took it there to get a frame and when she got to the counter the frame was in her hand, but the cross stitch was not. She scoured the store but it was gone. No one turned it in to an employee either. Well, I hope who ever owns the original is enjoying it.

The second one stitched up much faster than the original, although it has it's own set of whoopsies that no one but me will ever know about. (Go ahead! I double dog dare you to find them. There are at LEAST three.)

Anyhow I finished this version in time for Christmas and I told my mom she better put a leash on this one if she takes it for a walk in the fabric store again!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Seafood Bread Pudding

This is the last of the bread puddings, and by far the best! After about 20 minutes of baking, the aroma that filled the house was absolutely mouth watering. Blockette even came up to me and said, "Mommy, what smells sooooooo good?" I replied, "Dinner!"
I had to make a few substitutions to use what I had on hand. I used imitation crab meat, 1/2 Tablespoon each dried parsley and tarragon, A mix of white, wheat and rye bread cubes, and all milk (no cream). I also roasted the red pepper under the broiler to bring out more caramelized goodness.

You really know the recipe is good when you can swap out milk for cream and have the whole family still rant and rave about how good the meal is.

The only bad part about this bread pudding is that it doesn't taste nearly as good the second time around. The leftovers were still good, but just not AS good. Next time, unless I'm making this for company, I'll only make a half batch.

Head over to Tasty Kitchen to find the recipe for: crab and fontina cheese bread pudding .
4 Tablespoons Butter
1-½ cup Lump Crab Meat, Picked Over
2 cups Fontina Cheese (shredded)
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Herbs (like Chives, Parsley And/or Tarragon)
8 cups Day Old Italian Bread, Cubed Into 1" Pieces
6 whole Eggs
1 cup Milk
1 cup Heavy Cream
½ cups Red Pepper, Diced And Seeded
¼ cups Celery, Diced
1 whole Shallot, Diced
1 clove Garlic

Grease a medium gratin dish with two tablespoons of butter. In a pan, combine the other two tablespoons of butter with red pepper, shallot, celery and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until soft and fragrant. Allow vegetable mixture to cool, and combine with the crabmeat, lemon juice, and herb mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, and combine with milk and heavy cream.

Place a layer of bread cubes, then a layer of the crab mixture, and sprinkle with fontina cheese. Repeat until all of your ingredients are used, and finish with a final sprinkle of fontina cheese. Pour egg mixture over the entire gratin dish. You can do this the night before, but let the egg mixture soak into the bread mixture for at least 10 minutes before putting it into a preheated 350F oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes until set, puffed and golden brown. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Bread Pudding

Yes! More bread pudding. There was a LOT of leftover bread. This Bread Pudding is a sweeter version than the Sausage Pudding from the other day. It tastes a lot like French Toast, with the added benefit of a vegetable. Hooray for pumpkin puree! Is there anything that you can't be snuck into?I took inspiration from two sources for this recipe:
1.) pumpkin pie bread pudding from barefoot kitchen witch
2.)pumpkin bread pudding from

I just sort of smashed the 2 recipes together. The biggest change was that I cooked it at a higher temp. I hate really gummy bread pudding. If you are looking for a dish that is going to be crispy on top, this is not it. Even in reheating the leftovers I couldn't get a toasted crouton like top. The pudding goes from soft to burnt. There is no in between.

Blockette was happy. She prefers the softer version of bread pudding. She was happy that there were no crunchy bits on top. Even though I like the toastier versions of bread pudding, this recipe was really delicious. If you have a major sweet tooth you could add syrup. It is completely unnecessary though. The dish is tasty enough to stand on its own.
Here's what I did:

Pumpkin Bread pudding
8 cups of cubed bread (I used a combo of white, wheat and cinnamon raisin because that's what I had on hand. Go crazy and use whatever floats your boat.)
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c maple syrup (I used the fake stuff and it tasted fine)
4 eggs
2 c milk
1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
1/2 T vanilla
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1 c chopped toasted pecans

2 T sugar
2 T turbinado sugar (I don't know that this is necessary, but it does crystallize nicely on the top of the finished dish. I only had some because I like to "liberate" packets from places that sell coffee.)
1 T cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Stir 2 sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl to make the topping. Set this aside. In a large bowl combine brown sugar, syrup and eggs. Add milk, pumpkin, vanilla, spice and salt. Combine. Add bread to the goo and stir to coat. Let the bread soak up the goodness for about 15 min or so. Fold in the toasted pecans. (Mrblocko says "Raisins would be a tasty addition to this dish." Personally, I only like raisins in savory dishes, oatmeal cookies, or by themselves. I don't even like them in cinnamon bread. If you do, feel free to add a cup of your favorite shriveled grape!) Pour the bread-y mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the top. Bake for about 40-60 min until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly before serving so you don't burn the roof of your mouth for heaven's sake!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sausage and Onion Bread Pudding

I mentioned here that I had been in charge of preparing the bread for communion on World Communion Sunday. The way our church does it, you freeze the bread so it doesn't get mangled, cut off the crusts, then cube the bread into individual bite size portions. Well with 3 loaves of sliced bread, that is a lot of crusts, not to mention the stuff that is left over from the services. I hate to just throw all that stuff away. It seems like such a waste.

Handy dandy Internet to the rescue! I did a search on Bread pudding and came up with some tasty ideas from Radishes and Rhubarb, The stone soup , cooking on the side, and tasty kitchen Blogs. I took ideas from all of them and came up with this nummy little concoction below.

(Just so you know, the deep dark bits are from the pumpernickel bread, and not because I burned it!)

I also thought I should mention that I realize that World Communion Sunday was waaaay back in the beginning of October. I thought I would wait until I used up all the leftover bread and post all the bread puddings at the same time. Bread pudding makes a lot of food for just three people and I knew that if I made more than one a month we would get very sick of it.

Without further is my version of this breakfast-y casserole.

Sausage and Onion Bread Pudding
1lb bulk breakfast sausage
3 medium onions
6 cups of cubed stale bread
2 cups of milk (I used 1 c skim milk and 1 c evaporated milk because I had it leftover from another meal)
6 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp dry powdered mustard
2 cups of miscellaneous cheese (I had bits of Swiss, mozzarella, sharp cheddar, Colby and pepper jack that I used up to make the 2 cups...use what you have!)

Preheat your oven to 375 F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Brown your sausage in a large skillet. While the sausage is cooking thinly slice the onion into half moons. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain the fat. In the sausage grease, caramelize the sliced onions. We like ours almost burnt, most people like their onions a light tan. Do whatever floats your boat! In a separate bowl combine the milk, eggs, salt, and mustard. Layer half the bread on the bottom of the prepared baking dish, followed by half the cheese, half the sausage and half the onions. Repeat with the remaining bread, cheese, sausage and onions. Pour the custard mixture evenly over the entire casserole. Bake uncovered for 60 minutes until the bread has absorbed the custard and the cheese is melty.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thankful Thursday 41

1. The big snow storm managed to pass us by.
2. I officially have all my Christmas shopping done.
3. I also managed to find all the addresses for people's Christmas cards AND get them all sent off.
4. Cookie baking time has begun.
5. Cookie eating time has begun.
6. Mrblocko's sister was not hurt when she got robbed.
7. Seeing friends I haven't seen in ages.
8. None of the 4 year olds picked their noses or had to go potty in the middle of the Christmas pagent.
9. Neither did Blockette.
10. Poofy Christmas stickers one of my friends gave to Blockette. She practically begged me to take them off her hands. They have literally provided hours and hours of entertainment.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Very Cherry Infestation

This fall, while waiting for Blockette to come home from school, I was very innocently reading in the garage. Out of the corner of my eye I saw this brown thing. I screamed so loud when I realized it was a rather large brown rodent. Luckily, no one else heard me scream. Or if they did they just thought it was a crazy lady screaming over a mouse.

Well that little guy multiplied. He and his whole clan invaded my kitchen. Aieeee. Wait...look how cute they are...and delicious. Who knew that about mice?These little cherry mice , from Craftster, couldn't be easier to make. The trickiest part is remembering to dry off the cherries before dipping them in chocolate. (If you don't the chocolate will harden upon contact and make things a wee bit difficult for you.)

Blockette was upset that I was making these for the church bake sale, and not for her. I found that odd considering she does not like maraschino cherries. I had a few in the jar that were stemless so i dipped them for her to try. Apparently, chocolate makes anything edible, chocolate and cuteness.

Chocolate Mice from Craftster
Maraschino cherries with stems (stems become mouse tails) Drain and dry off well
Hershey kisses
Sliced almonds (pair them in similar sizes- 2 per cherry- for mouse ears)
Chocolate for coating

Melt the chocolate (BUT NOT the kisses) and start dipping each cherry by holding onto its stem/tail. As you lift it out of the chocolate, attach a kiss to the end opposite the stem (this becomes the head), and place on a clean sheet of wax paper. Before chocolate sets up insert a pair of almond slice ears between kiss and the cherry body. This can get a LITTLE MESSY so you'll probably want to stop and wash the chocolate off whatever you've gotten it on, before you Dot the eyes on with pink gel icing (eyes are cuter if you put them very close together)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sour Cream Apple Pie

Sour cream??? In a pie?? That sounds so weird. I was feeling daring, and wanted to try something different for Thanksgiving. (Finally...the last of the Thanksgiving posts!) I had one single pie crust left over from the last pie crust I made earlier, so a pie with a crumble top seemed like a great idea.

I had a slight panic moment when I rolled out the thawed dough from the freezer and it stuck to the wax paper. I just stuck the dough back in the fridge for 10 minutes and it released a whole lot easier.

This photo was supposed to show the creamy center of the pie. I realize that it isn't the best picture but you can see the white in the filling.

Surprisingly, you could not tell that there was sour cream in this pie. Both Mrblocko and I had Blockette convinced that the white stuff was Cool Whip, even though Blockette watched me make the pie. (Cause Blockette couldn't possibly like anything with Sour Cream in it. Sour cream is SoUR and therefor gross.)

The crumb topping is just awesome on this pie. I think the ratio of topping to filling is spot on. I think I may have improved on perfection by swapping the white sugar for brown sugar. Trust me people brown sugar is THE way to go for the topping.

We ate our slices with a small scoop of ice cream. Was this necessary? No. Was it delicious? Ohhhhh yeah. There was much sadness when the pie was gone, and it was gone much too quickly than was good for us. I'll definitely be making this pie again, especially when I have a single crust hiding in the freezer begging to be used.

If you want to step out of the box and into deliciousness, head on over to taste and tell for the sour cream apple pie recipe.

Sour Cream Apple Pie from Taste and Tell
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups apples, peeled and sliced
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter

Stir together 2 Tflour, salt, 3/4 c sugar and nutmeg in bowl. Combine egg, sour cream and vanilla in another bowl; mix well. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients; mix well. Stir in apples and spoon mixture into unbaked or par-baked pie shell (depending on preference). Bake 400 F for 15 min. Reduce to 350 F  and bake 30 min. Remove pie from oven. Increase temperature to 400F. Combine 2/3 c sugar, 2/3 c flour and 2 t cinnamon in bowl. Cut in 4 Tbutter until crumbly, using a pastry blender. Sprinkle crumb topping over pie. Return to oven and bake 10 min more. Cool on rack.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hawaiian Flop-bread

Well, I've had a good run at making bread. I guess I was due for a major fail.

I found this recipe for Hawaiian Sweet bread over at Taste and Tell. Oh that Hawaiian bread sounded so good, I could taste the light fluffy sweet cloud like slices. I thought it would be a perfect addtion to our Thanksgiving meal. So what happened? My bread never rose. I either had the liquid too hot, or too cold or the yeast had lost it's oomph.

After 5 hours of nothing I was finally ready to admit defeat and face the music. This bread was a dud. As I was lamenting to Mrblocko, we came up with the idea to see if we couldn't make flat bread out of the dough. Ahah!!! Success!!!!!

The flatbread turned out delicious. I left one third plain, put orange infused cinnamon sugar on the other third, and Bavarian seasoning on the last third. (As tangent Bavarian seasoning is totally awesome in scrambled eggs.) I baked these flatbreads at 450F for about 8 minutes. Please do yourself a favor if you are going to make flat bread and bake it on parchment paper. The bread will stick to your cookie sheet and make you say naughty words as you try to pry it from the clutches of the pan. Trust me, parchment is the way to go.

This made quite a bit of flat bread. We reheated the leftovers on a skillet for a few minutes to soften them up. They are especially tasty when they are warm right off the pan.

I'm glad that I was able to salvage the bread into something edible. I think I will try this recipe again and use a thermometer to make sure the liquid is at the proper temperature to bloom the yeast.

Hawaiian Sweet Bread from Taste and Tell makes 1 1/2 pound loaf
1/2 cup milk, warmed
1 1/2 packages dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup evaporated milk or light cream
5 tablespoons butter
large pinch nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
4 cups bread flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 egg beaten for glaze
1 teaspoon salt

Mix milk, yeast and 1/2 t sugar. Allow to stand til mixture is bubbly. In a saucepan, warm evaporated milk. Add butter, nutmeg, sugar and lemon peel. Stir til butter melted. Place flour in a large bowl. Add eggs, yeast mix and salt. Add enough evaporated milk mix just to form a soft dough. Knead 15 min.
Allow loaf to rise to double it’s size. Punch down and let rise again. Form into a round loaf and allow to rise one more time. Preheat the oven to 325F. Mix egg with 1 T water and brush it on top of the loaf of bread.Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 min.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Project #19: Monster Search Bag

A few years ago I made some search and find bags as Christmas presents for Blockette and my best friend's daughter. They were a big hit. Even grown-ups like manipulating the plastic beads around to find all the little trinkets hidden inside.

This year I thought Mrblocko's best friend's son would get a kick out of a search and find bag. Then I realized that the bags I had made for the girls, sort of looked a little like purses if you squint. I figured that wouldn't go over very well. So I did some brainstorming and came up with the idea for a monster shaped bag.
Ain't he ferocious sittin there on my kitchen counter?

Originally, I had intended to use a scrap of the furry orange fabric left over from my own monster stocking but the furry fabric was too thick and uncooperative. So back to the drawing board and into my fabric stash I went. I think the monster is workin all the crazy fabric combinations. My favorite part of the monster is the legs. The orange-y fabric are scraps from a quilt I made for the recipient's baby brother. I think that is a neat touch. If you can believe it they are from the same fabric. Batiks are wonderful that way.

The shoes are from a scrap of skull fabric my best friend just gave me a few weeks ago. If you look at the shoe on the left you can see a tiny bit of red. That's from a skull. I love how one shoe is striped and the other is checked. I would totally wear shoes like that. In fact, back in the late 80's my best friend and I each had a pair of converse high tops. We both traded a shoe with each other so we were walking around with one yellow shoe and one red shoe. We thought we were the coolest ever. The coolest ever until our moms made us switch back. (The mean meanies!) They just did NOT understand the fashion statement we were making. I mean like we totally wanted to be different...exactly like all of our friends. Good times.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Project #18: Blockette's Stocking

Tada! I am so happy I finished this..and with almost 2 weeks to spare. This stocking is for Blockette and I managed to sew it without her knowing! I'm so sneaky.

This is going to be one of Blockette's Christmas presents. We have a tradition where we open presents on Christmas Eve night from our family, and presents from Santa on Christmas morning. This way she can open her stocking present and then hang it up before she goes off to bed on Christmas Eve.The Fairy on the stocking is a one of Tinkerbell's fairy friends. A garden talent fairy to be specific. Those of you familiar with the Disney fairies from the Pixie Hollow books will be scratching their heads as to which fairy this one is. It is supposed to be Lily. Yeah, I know. Her skin color is off. I think they had to make it a lighter color so the facial details show up.

And that is all embroidered. I was a bit worried as my embroidery skills are not the best. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. You can tell it is supposed to be a face and not blobs of yuck.

When I ordered the kit I did not realize that the whole thing was made of felt. I assumed that the applique would be felt. I had no idea that the background fabric was felt as well. I couldn't replace the felt with another fabric because there were placement lines for the applique stamped on the back ground felt. Oh well. I will just have to stress to Blockette that she has to be extra careful with the stocking. I'm pretty sure she will love it enough to handle it delicately.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thankful Thursday 40

1. I got free air for my tire that I thought was just low due to the cold coldness.
2. When I realized the problem with my tire was indeed a, leak the tire place fixed them for free.
3. I was right in front of the tire place when my check engine light went on.
4. They were able to diagnose the engine problem at the tire place.
5. My car isn't going to blow up if I drive it while I wait for the parts to come in.
6. Car repairs are cheaper than a new car payment.
7. Blockette was super well behaved at the "car doctor"
8. The folks where I got my car looked at were really awesome and let Blockette look at the car when it was up on the lift.
9. coupons. (I love coupons!)
10. a major save on a dessert disaster (I'll blog more about that later.)
11. steady paychecks
12. Finishing another Christmas gift project.
13. Finding a gift for Blockette that was seemingly impossible to find.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cran Sausage Stuffing Revisited

I made my favorite cranberry sausage stuffing this year for Thanksgiving. Even though I've posted this recipe before, I thought it was worth mentioning again considering the few tweeks I made this year.

First, I used whole wheat hot dog buns. I froze them and defrosted them to help in their drying process. I also popped them in the toaster, to get them crispy. I only left them in for a short time, not long enough to brown them. Hot dog buns have a tendency to be on the gummy side and this really helped alleviate that problem. If you like gummy stuffing then that is not an issue for you. Me, I'd rather lick the bottom of the inside of my garbage can.

Second, I used white grape juice instead of red. It is very hard to find "Red" grape juice. Most grape juice is purple. I don't even know why the recipe specifies red grape juice. Well I had some white grape juice, (made from concentrate) and I figured I'd give that a try. It took longer for the liquid to reduce, but I think it tasted better than the red stuff that wasn't from concentrate. Easier, cheaper and tastier? A triple win!

Finally, I used cherry flavored cranberries instead of the normal kind. Yeah. Do this. It makes the whole dish even better. It was a total accident. I thought I had bought the plain kind. A very happy accident that I will repeat from now on.

Also I made a full batch and made it in a 9x13 pan. If you like gummy (gag) stuffing cook it in a smaller dish. The thinner you can get the stuffing, the crisper and yummier it will be. Now don't misunderstand what I'm saying, the bread was not so crisp that they were croutons. The bread was just slightly crisp. Like lightly toasted bread. Cook it how you like it though. I won't give you any grief...unless it is gummy stuffing...then I will make the noise that a cat makes when it is hacking up a fur ball.

A final note...reason 4, 063 that my daughter is an alien from another planet. At thanksgiving she said, "Mommy this stuffing is OK but the stuff we had at church was better. " I asked and they had stove top...gummy stove top. :::shudder::: Alien. From. Another. Planet.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fennel, Apple and Radicchio Slaw

This is the salad I made for Thanksgiving. I am so behind that maybe I will have Thanksgiving stuff posted before Christmas....then again...maybe not. Anyhow The recipe comes from a blog called What Would Cathy Eat.

Mrblocko agreed that this is more slaw like than a salad. Maybe because when you slice up the radicchio it looks like shredded red cabbage. Radicchio tastes nothing like red cabbage. Radicchio is very bitter. I always forget this.

The salad was almost too bitter for us. All three of us were very unsure whether or not we actually liked the salad. Then, I had a brilliant idea. Raisins. Raisins totally saved this salad. Their sweetness really offset the bitterness of the radicchio. I don't have an exact amount for the raisins. I just sprinkled a few on top of our individual portions.

Because it was only three of us eating this huge salad, we were sick of it by the time it was gone. (In fact, I distinctly recall both Mrblocko and Blockette cheering when I dished out the last bowl for myself.) I did poll the family and they agreed that they would eat it as a side dish again. Next time I will add about a teaspoon of sugar to the dressing , and saute the shallots. I think this will also help cut the bitterness. Besides raisins, I think dried pineapple or mango flavored pineapple would also be tasty. I might give those dried fruits a try next time as well.

Fennel, Radicchio and Apple Salad from What Would Cathy Eat
1 medium head radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
1 large or two small fennel bulbs, sliced paper thin with a mandoline, fronds reserved
1 large crisp, sweet apple (such as Cortland or Gala), unpeeled, thinly sliced with a mandoline
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (use a gluten-free variety if you are gluten sensitive)
1 small shallot, finely minced
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Combine the radicchio, fennel and apple in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, shallot, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Pour half of dressing over veg and stir to combine. Taste, and gradually add more dressing until it’s to your liking. Garnish with fennel fronds and pecans.  Serves 4-6

Monday, December 6, 2010

Crock pot Mashed Potatoes

I don't know what happened to the photo of my mashed potatoes. I could have sworn that I uploaded it. Nope and silly me, I deleted all the thanksgiving pictures from my camera. Wasn't that smart?

If any picture from thanksgiving were to get accidentally deleted, I'm glad it was only this one. The potatoes didn't look any different than any other mashed potatoes. They were just a bowl of creamy starchy goodness.

These potatoes turned out a bit runnier than I prefer, but that may have been because I had to bump up the cooking from low to high in order to insure that the potatoes were mashable by the time the rest of the food was done. I still can't figure out how the turkey wound up fully cooked a full hour ahead of what it should have been.

Even though the potatoes weren't "stick your spoon in the bowl and have it stand up on it's own" thick I didn't hear any complaints from the peanut gallery. The leftovers, and this recipe makes a lot of mashed potatoes, were eaten up happily. At one point I commented that Blockette, who has never expressed an interest in mashed potatoes, was scraping the last bits of potato off her plate with her fork. She replied, "Yeah, I like these potatoes mom. I just don't like the potatoes at IKEA." Um. OK. A weird reply, especially since we've only eaten at IKEA once. Then again, if you know my kid, she is a weird one. (Yeah, I know, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.)

This recipe was chosen specifically because it was prepared in the crock pot. I didn't want to have to do a lot of babysitting in the kitchen over thanksgiving, and I figured a dump and go recipe would be an awesome way to do that. It was. I'll make these again for a big meal where lots of dishes are being made on the stove at the same time. It's a great way to free up a burner so all your food can arrive warm on the table.

The recipe can be found over at lynn's kitchen adventures.

p.s.I wasn't going to say anything, but I've changed my mind at the last minute. Someone commented over at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures sort of poo-pooed this recipe. They complained that the potatoes looked lumpy and that the sour cream and cream cheese took away from the natural flavor of the potatoes. My reply to that is, so use a hand mixer to blend the potatoes so they are smooth, and omit the sour cream and cream cheese. I don't know anyone who can get smooth mashed potatoes without an electric beater. I happen to like lumpy mashed potatoes. I also like my potatoes with sour cream. Yes, the calorie count is high with this recipe, but this is not an every day sort of recipe, and Lynn never claims this to be a "healthy" recipe. If you want "healthy" mashed potatoes, don't add anything and swap out half the potatoes for cauliflower.

Crockpot Mashed Potatoes from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures
6-8 potatoes
1 can (14 ounces) chicken broth
¾ cup milk
½ cup sour cream
4 ounces cream cheese

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch chunks. Place potatoes in a crockpot with chicken broth and milk. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or until potatoes are tender. When potatoes are tender mash well with sour cream and cream cheese.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Special Friday post, just for Chad! Roasted Applesauce

Don't you feel special Chad? This post is just for You! I heard your applesauce turned brown. (Which I guess is better than red if you don't like monkey brains. And really in this crazy Zombie laden world, who doesn't?)

Anyhow...I happened across this recipe where the apples are roasted. The recipe comes from a blog called Southern Fried Curry and the photo on her site shows a more applesauce colored result.

Here is what my version looks like: brown or red applesauce! Roasting the apples exposes them to a higher heat and less time for the apples to oxidize and brown. This time the applesauce looked the same color as the stuff in the jar.
Cooking the apples in the oven will give you a chunkier applesauce than it's crockpot cousin.

Normally, I'm not a fan of chunky applesauce, but this stuff was really tasty. I suppose if I was really ambitious I could have run it through a food mill. We all know I'm not ambitious, I'm lazy. Besides I don't have a food mill. Even if you think you don't like chunky applesauce give this recipe a try in it's chunky state. Chances are, if I like it, so will you.

The recipe is rather vague with measurements. I used 1 T lemon juice and 2 T white sugar along with 10 smallish apples (gala and Fuji). I did not add salt or 5 spice powder. After I took the picture I did add copious amounts of cinnamon, and it did turn light brown. However, I add the same amount of cinnamon to the jarred stuff and it turns the same color.

There is only one down side to this recipe. The house just doesn't get that same wonderful aroma as when it's made in the crockpot. It makes sense though. When you cook the apples in the crockpot they are in there with all their spicy friends, releasing all kinds of delicious smells in the heat.

Roasted Applesauce from Southern Fried Curry
Oil, for greasing pan
8 apples, halved and cored (keep skins on)
Sugar, or honey, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
Dash of salt
¼ to ½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder (Taste first before adding more. A little goes a long way.)

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a large sheet pan with a neutral-flavored oil. Halve lengthwise and core eight apples, leaving the skins intact. Arrange the apples cut side down on your baking sheet, and place the sheet on the rack in the center of your oven. Bake for approximately 45 minutes, or long enough for the apples to start browning on the cut surface. (This is the delicious caramelization that you want.)

Remove apples from oven, and using an offset spatula remove them from the pan onto a plate to let them cool. Once apples have cooled, use a large spoon to scrape the apples out of their skins into a bowl. Mash the apples with a fork to desired texture. Add and mix in sugar or honey, lemon juice (usually just a generous squirt is needed), salt, and five-spice powder as desired. Or just be normal and add cinnamon – your sauce will fail to be anything but delicious. This sauce freezes well.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thankful Thursday 39

1. Christmas decorations are up.
2. I've got 90% of my Christmas shopping done. (I love Cyber Monday!)
3. One of Blockette's school friends is going to test out our church.
4. At least Blockette listens to me, even if Mrblocko doesn't. (I think he follows the school of thought that the stop signs with the white borders are optional.)
5. I portioned up and froze the rest of the turkey for use in other meals. (We were getting sick of Thanksgiving leftovers!)
6. Got to see my youngest nephew.
7. Blockette did an awesome job reading with Mrblocko for lighting the Advent calendar. (I was afraid she was going to be in one of her defiant the one she is in at this very moment.)
8. It's snowing and making everything beautiful and December-y.
9. I'm making great progress on my Christmas crafts. I may even finish early this year!(fingers crossed)
10. Mrblocko washed the breakfast dishes and took Blockette to school this morning so I could go to the grocery store and get some stuff done before Blockette came home from Kindergarten. Yay!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Project #17 Poem Cross stitch

Oof. Well this guy is finished. I made it as a present for my best friend to give to her mom. The poem has many layers of meaning within their family, and the cross stitch has multi-generational symbolism to it.

I don't know why this cross stitch gave me so much trouble. The stitching was the easy part. It was the charting and planning that was the difficult part. I think my area of expertise lies in the stitching and not the designing of cross stitch.

The cross stitch is huge...about 10x16 inches. I tried to make it as small as I could but it is a long poem so there wasn't much control over the size.

The flowers are from a book called Stitching Pretty. The flowers in the original pattern were pinky purple, but I changed them blue to fit the requested theme better. The flowers are probably my favorite part of the whole design.

I'm not 100% satisfied with how this turned out and I can't figure out why. Separately, I think the font, the layout, and color scheme look ok, but once they went from paper to fabric I started to like it less and less. I'm hoping this is only because the design is not my style. My best friend assures me that it IS her mom's style and she will love it. All I can say is she better...or I'm gonna shake my fist menacingly at her.