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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kitchen Reveal

I heard that there is a 2nd annual "Kitchen Reveal" where people post pictures on their blog of their kitchen being hosted by Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. I'm nosey and love to see how other people live so I think this is pretty cool. Instead of just being a voyeur, I thought I should post some pics of my own little kitchen.

First, I feel like I need to show what the kitchen looked like before we moved in:

That was all the counter space I had. Just out of frame on the left side of the picture was a sliding glass door that took up the entire wall. Oh, and the dishwasher and oven were used by the previous owner as dish and cookware storage. Neither of them were in working order.
This picture is of what was supposed to be an eat in kitchen area. The picture was taken while standing at the sink. You can see a tiny bit of the sliding glass door at the bottom right of the picture.

We have one of the smallest houses in our neighborhood so making the kitchen into a bigger usable space was a bit of a challenge. I really wanted a pantry, but that meant losing the eat in kitchen. We solved that problem by changing the front room, which was supposed to be a family room, into a dining room, and the basement "den" into the family room.

This picture is taken standing in roughly the same spot as the first before picture. We added a little pass through window where the fridge used to be to add a bit more light and so that it is easier to talk to someone in the dining room when you are in the kitchen. Less shouting is a good thing.

We also added the peninsula. This is my second favorite change to this kitchen. It makes cooking with Blockette so much easier. Aside from the peninsula giving me an actual food prep area, Blockette can sit at the end and help mix, eat a snack, draw, do school work, etc. while I'm cooking.

Here's another view from the entry into the kitchen. You can see that the wall where the sliding glass door used to be is where the fridge is now.

This area hardly seems big enough to have held an eat in kitchen. Without the pictures I don't think I would have believed it myself. The pantry is my favorite part of the kitchen. Here's why: Where would I put all this stuff if I didn't have a pantry? The pantry allows me to save money on our grocery bill. I can buy the jumbo package of paper towels and 10 cans of peaches when they go on sale. I've found that little stuff like that really adds up!

So that's my kitchen in a nutshell. It's not the fanciest kitchen ever. There are a few things I would do differently if I had the chance to do it all over again. But the kitchen turned out quite nice considering our limited budget.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey Stock

This was our nummy Thanksgiving turkey. It's been many moons since Mrblocko or I cooked a turkey and we were a bit rusty. We did pretty darn good if I say so myself. We didn't really do anything special. Just rubbed herbed butter over and under the skin and let it sit in some chicken stock as it cooked.

Somehow the turkey got done a full hour than we expected. I hadn't even baked the stuffing yet! It all worked out in the end though. The turkey was cold, but all the side dishes, including the gravy, was hot. Truth be told, ya can't tell if your turkey is hot or cold when it is smothered in molten gravy. We will be eating turkey left overs for some time. This bird is so massive that I cut up the carcass into thirds. I made turkey stock with the first portion and froze the others to make stock later.

I wasn't sure if Turkey stock should have different seasonings than chicken stock so I looked up a few recipes on line. The two recipes I found, from gracious bowl and cooking by the seat of my pants, were almost identical to my go to chicken stock recipe. The only change I made to the chicken stock recipe was to leave out the cloves, add some dried rosemary, and sprigs of fresh sage, thyme and parsley. I only used the fresh stuff because it was still green in my garden.

My plans for this, and the other batches of stock are to make soups with the leftover turkey. I've been on a hunt for some good recipes, and I think I have found a few. We'll see if they pass the taste test!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Belated Thankful Thursday

It's kind of weird that my thankful Thursday post for the day that you are supposed to be thankful is late. Blame it on the tryptophan. I bought a 17 lb turkey for just the 3 of us so we will be eating turkey for the next 27 years. It was $4, I mean come on! 5 lb roaster chickens aren't even that cheap

Anyhow, aside from the awesome deal on a turkey, I've got so much to be thankful for. I'm so lucky to have a healthy family, a roof over my head and plenty of food in my belly. All that stuff sounds really corny, but after the past few years and this pooptacular economy having those three things makes me feel really blessed.

On a lighter note, I'd like to add one more thing that I'm thankful for: a husband who is willing to help wash the dishes. AMEN!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nutmeg Banana Smoothie

One weekend afternoon I had plunked myself in front of the TV to induce a nap. TV was so boring that I did indeed fall asleep. I awoke to some lady on Everyday Food making a Banana-Nutmeg Smoothie. I'm not the biggest fan of banana's but that sounded really awesome to me.

I went on their website and their recipe is all kinds of messed up. It is missing ingredients and amounts that were different from the show. I happened to have 2 bananas in the freezer so I just used that. A half cup of milk was not enough liquid to process 2 bananas, let alone the 3 that the recipe suggests. I used a full cup and my smoothie was still extra double thick.

This is going to be my go to recipe for using up extra over-ripe bananas. I'd rather have this than banana bread.

Here's what I did:

2 large frozen bananas broken in eighths
3/4 c ice cubes
1 c skim milk
1 single serving size container of light and fit vanilla yogurt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 generous squeezes of Hershey's dark chocolate syrup

Toss all that stuff in a blender and mix it up until it is nice and smooth. Add more milk if you want it thinner.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bratwurst and Potato Soup

Here is the lovely Bratwurst and Potato Soup from Eatin on the Cheap. I made this one night after Blockette's Art class. I knew we wouldn't be getting home until almost 5pm so I did all the chopping and shredding earlier in the day. That way all I had to do was let the soup cook, bubble and simmer away. You can even peel and cut the potatoes up in advance. Just store them in the fridge in a container large enough so the potatoes can be completely covered in water. This way they won't turn any funky colors.

Because the brats I had were Jennie-O Turkey Brats I changed the recipe up a bit. The weight on the package is 19.5 oz, and the original recipe calls for only 12 oz. I mostly just increased all the ingredients so the dish had a more reasonable meat to veggie ratio. Mrblocko said that this was now his new favorite soup. We all liked it, but I wouldn't say it was any better than any other soup I've made.

Bratwurst and Potato Soup adapted from Eatin on the Cheap
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 large carrots, shredded
3 large potatoes, peeled and diced
3 c chicken stock
1 (19.5 oz) pkg turkey brats
1/2 c frozen corn

Boil the sausages in about an inch of water until you think they are cooked, or at least cooked enough to slice. I hate the skins on turkey brats so I peel them off at this stage. Take the peeled sausage and cut in half lengthwise and then into half moon shapes. Saute in a skillet with a few swirls of olive oil. Let the meat get brown and caramelized. Remove the meat from the pan and brown the onions in the meat drippings. Boil the potatoes in the chicken stock for about 20 min until the potatoes are tender. Blend 3 or 4 ladlefulls of stock and potatoes in a blender and return the mashed mix to the pot to thicken the soup. Add the meat, onions, corn, and carrots and simmer until the soup is heated through.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Insert "Squeee" Here

I got quoted by The Food Librarian on her "I Like Big Bundts 2 Round up."

See her post HERE.

I'm feeling giddy, like I've had some sort of brush with fame. I'm just about as excited as the time when my mom and I were eating at a restaurant and we realized we were sitting behind Pat Morita.

Guess it pays to question someone's sanity. I maintain that Mary the Librarian is crazy in all the right ways. I hope she keeps on in her lack of mental instability, cause I like these month long culinary journies through bundt-ville.

40 Clove Chicken in the CrockPot

I say this with my best friend in mind...don't fear the roaster chicken in the crockpot. You can do it!!!! Bad things will not happen! Yooou Can Dooooo it!

Ok. Seriously, Crock pot chicken with 40 cloves of garlic by Crepes of Wrath is a most awesome roaster chicken recipe. It isn't one of those dump and go recipes, but it is worth the extra effort. Really, all the extra effort is used in pealing 40 cloves of garlic. Even with the little Youtube link that Crepes of Wrath provides that demonstrates how easy it is to peel garlic, 40 cloves is still going to take a bit of time. Again I say it is so worth it.

The only change I made to this recipe was by replacing the white wine with white grape juice. The recipe says you can omit the wine, but I figured since I had the juice I should use it. I wanted to have a bit of liquid in the crockpot to help speed up the cooking.

Speaking of speeding up the cooking, after 3 hours on low my chicken was seriously undercooked. This is probably due to my particular crockpot. I always forget that the low setting on my large oval crockpot is lower than most. I turned up the heat to high and came back an hour and a half later and everything was perfectly cooked. (This is also why there is no photo, we were all so hungry that the chicken was carved up and mutilated before I got around to remembering I wanted to take a picture for this blog entry.)

Even though the chicken got a bit mangled while checking for done-ness, the meat was still exceptionally moist. So much so that Blockette squealed, "OHHH! It's so juicy and tender!" after she took her first bite. Now if you've already checked that link out you might be saying right now, "Well it was probably the gravy that made the meat so tender." Au contraire mon frere. Blockette opted out of the gravy. Yet another point that leads me to believe she is indeed an alien from outer space. I mean Mrblocko and I subscribe to the Homer Simpson theory of drinking eight glasses of gravy a day.

If you are thinking of skipping the gravy step because you are, like me, a lazy person. Get. Yourself. Motivated. Get up off your chair, do not pass go and make the drippings and garlic into some gravy baby. (Not to be confused with gravy made from babies...that's a whole 'nuther post.) This is hands down my favorite gravy ever in the whole history of gravy making. When I was making the gravy and I thought it was done simmering, I tested it for seasoning. As soon as that sweet sauce hit my tongue, my eyes rolled back in my head and I started making all kinds of scary unintelligible noises.

I must have made a fairly big production about it because Blockette came bounding into the kitchen exclaiming, "I wanna try it! I wanna try it!" I looked at her and said, "Really?" She replied, "Yes please Momma!" So I let her have a taste. She agreed that the gravy was quite tasty and then said, "It is good, but I don't want any on my chicken or potatoes OK?" I patted her on her head and assured her she didn't HAVE to have any. Secretly I was doing the happy dance of joy in my head because that meant MORE for ME!

Crock Pot Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic from Crepes of Wrath
3 1/2-4 pound fryer chicken (chicken cut into serving pieces)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
40 cloves of garlic, peeled but still whole (about 3 bulbs of garlic)
3/4 cup white wine (optional, but highly recommended)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon butter

Spray tcrock pot with non-stick spray. Rub chicken generously with salt and pepper. Place in crock pot. Heat olive oil in a small skillet and add peeled, whole garlic. Cook 5-8 min over med heat til  garlic is golden, then add white wine and stir til liquid has mostly evaporated, 3-5 min over med heat. Pour garlic and white wine over chicken in crock pot, and sprinkle thyme and rosemary over everything. Add in bay leaf. Turn crock pot to low and cook for 3-4 hours. When ready, remove  chicken and place on a separate platter, cover with foil to retain heat. Set aside. Pour juices from pot through a mesh sieve into a pot, press garlic through sieve to form a paste. Cook gravy with T butter over med-high heat til slightly thickened, 5-8 min. Serves 3-4.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday 37

1. Medicine that finally is allowing me to breath freely
2. The medicine is working so well I did not need to use that stupid inhaler that makes me shiver and shake for a whole day.
3. Cheap prescriptions at Walmart.
4. Helping out at Blockette's after school art program.
5. Blockette loves that I am the school helper.
6. Mrblocko driving Blockette to school so I could take a long hot shower, and spare Blockette the embarrassment of me driving her to school in my pj's!
7. Blockette loves math.
8. Finishing some Christmas craft projects very early.
9. Mrblocko warning me that the book I was reading (Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story) had a lame ending so I wasn't disappointed when I finished the book.
10.Waking up after what seemed like you just thought, "Gee, guess I won't be taking a nap today. I'm too awake."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread

Witness my first foray into the world of yeasted bread...baked in loaf form. I think it wasn't too shabby for a first attempt. I used the 100% whole wheat sandwich bread recipe from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day.

This bread is a no knead type of dough, which is perfect for those of us who aren't swanky enough to own a stand mixer. I made a half batch in case the whole thing ended in disaster.

I was lucky enough to not have a complete disaster, but something didn't quite turn out. Maybe I didn't let the bread rise long enough on the second rise, or my loaf pan was just too big. It was probably a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B.

The dough should have filled slightly more than half the loaf pan. It filled only half. Since the full recipe was for three 1.5 pound loaves, a half recipe should have had more than enough to fill the pan properly. I do know that the yeast was not the culprit. The dough and bread had lots of nice bubbles in it.

The loaf was pretty tasty, especially as cinnamon toast. It didn't grill up well for grilled cheese though. Maybe the middle was too moist and the crust too crisp? Slicing the bread went like a dream. I got nice thin slices, which was nice since the bread was on the dense side due to the lack of rising.

If you'd like to attempt this recipe, see the directions over at Instructables. The directions are rather lengthy so I don't feel like typing them all out. Plus they did such a nice job with pictures and everything.

Here are the ingredients I used to make a half batch of Whole Wheat Bread(page 76 in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day):
3/4 c lukewarm water
3/4 c lukewarm milk
3/4 T granulated yeast
1/2 T plus 1/2t kosher salt
1/4 c honey
2 1/2 c neutral flavored oil
3 1/3 c whole wheat flour

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Belated Halloween Hot Chocolate

I had every intention of making Good Life Eats' Pumpkin spice white hot chocolate for Halloween this year. Unfortunately, life itself had other ideas. Both Blockette and I were on antibiotics. Bleck. I don't know about how your body reacts to antibiotics, but we get wonky tummies when we drink milk.

Wow was this ever worth the wait! It tasted just like a chocolatey liquidy version of pumpkin pie. Om nom nom! I will definitely make this recipe again.

The original recipe is for 4-6 people so I made a half recipe. This was a perfect size for 2 medium and 1 small mug. The drink is really rich so a smaller cup was OK by all of us. Or... maybe it isn't supposed to be quite as rich. See, I had reserved some white chocolate to make this drink, and then, like a ninny I used it for something else. So I improvised. I had 4 oz of Wonka's Exceptional Chocolate Waterfall (a candy bar that is a combo of milk and white chocolates, ) so I used that. What did I use for the other 2 oz??? Almond bark. Yeah. Weird. I know. But it worked! I told everyone they had to drink the hot chocolate while it was hot so it wouldn't set up in the cup from the almond bark.

I really don't know if this drink would have set up due to the almond bark because we all drank our beverage while it was still hot. Yes. Even Blockette. That's how tasty it was!

Oh, and if you subscribe to my school of thought, this drink was good for you. Dairy, vegetables and antioxidant filled chocolate... can't go wrong with all of that!

Half Recipe of pumpkin white hot chocolate from Good Life Eats
2 c skim milk
6 oz white chocolate (don't use Nestle because their white chocolate chips are waxy and gross)
2 T Cocoa
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie puree)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 tsp cardamom
a pinch each of allspice and ground ginger

In a sauce pan combine 1 c milk, white chocolate and cocoa. Cook over medium heat, whisking until chocolate has melted and is well combined with the milk. Whisk in the pumpkin and spices. Add in the remaining cup of milk. Heat until nice and warm. If you wanna go all out, top with whipped cream.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Little in the Middle

Happy National Bundt Day 2010! That crazy lady over at The Food Librarian has taken it upon herself to make yet another 30 days of Bundt cakes to celebrate the joyous occasion. Click here to see all her fabulous concoctions for "I Like Big Bundts -2".

Last year I made a Vanilla Halloween Candy Bundt cake for "NBD." We literally had Halloween candy up the bundt. This year Blockette was more interested in having her friend from school come over and play that she came back with a tiny haul. I mean the kid didn't even bring home a single Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Didn't she know she was supposed to go out until she brought one home for her loving mother??? Kids these days.

So, what did I make to honor the festive occasion this year? While I do like big bundts, (I cannot lie, ) I got a mini bundt pan for Christmas last year and I had not yet gotten around to using it. If you can't break in your bundt pan for "NBD" when can you?

Awww look at that lil cutie. Lil bundt cakes totally rock. There is nothing like sitting down and eating a whole cake all by yourself without the unfortunate side effects of actually consuming an entire full scale cake. It's especially cool when you are five. OK. Yeah. Alright. Who am I kidding? It's just as cool when you are 35.

The Cinnamon tea cakes recipe can be found over at Technicolor Kitchen. This site is great because the author is nice enough to include crazy American measurements on the English version of her Blog. I love not having to convert things from metric, because, like Barbie says, "Math is Hard." No, really it's because I'm lazy. Really lazy.

I would like to clarify that the brown on top of the buntlettes is not because I burned the wee fellas. It is brown sugar and cinnamon. I didn't coat the tops as evenly as I would have liked. I was a bit rushed as all the things I made for dinner last night got done cooking at exactly the same time. While the cakes don't look so spectacular they were pretty tasty in their messy cinnamon and brown sugar attire.

This recipe was the first time I ever had to beat eggs to get them to form stiff peaks. I think I did it right, but how would I know if I did it wrong? The batter was fairly thin by the time I added all the ingredients. The cakes did fluff up and rise nicely. They were also moist and airy. I think if I had screwed up somewhere the bundts would have been akin to bricks.

I thought the cakes tasted a bit eggy. Mrblocko agreed, but didn't notice until I pointed it out. I like eggs so it wasn't a deal breaker for me. If this flavor was a negative for anyone, a drizzle of dulce de leche could hide any eggy elements and no one would be the wiser. I may do just that tonight when I wolf down another cake, not because I didn't like the taste of the cake. I just like dulce de leche and feel guilty eating it by the spoonful.

One more thing...the recipe mentions a cooking time of 35 minutes. That may be a good time for cooking a full size cake, but my mini bundts were done after only 15 minutes.

Cinnamon tea cakes from Technicolor Kitchen
2 eggs, separated
1 cup + 1 ½ tablespoons caster sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
¼ cup  unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cinnamon topping:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons  unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F; butter two 6" round cake pans, line the bottoms with baking paper and butter paper*.  Place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar til thick and glossy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well to combine. Gradually add milk then flour, baking powder, butter and vanilla. Beat til smooth. Divide mix between prepared pans and bake 35 min til cooked when tested with a skewer. Turn out onto wire racks.
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. While cakes are still hot, brush with  butter and dust with combined brown sugar and cinnamon.

* I halved the recipe and used four 1-cup (240ml) capacity mini bundt pans; I generously buttered the pans and unmolded the cakes right after taking them out of the oven;

Friday, November 12, 2010

Microwave popcorn

Ok so I don't normally post on Fridays, but I had to pass on this little nugget of goodness. Did you know that you can make popcorn in your microwave? I mean not in those pre packaged bags that cost a bazillion times more than it does to make your own on the stove and smell like weirdness while they are popping.

Well I didn't have a clue. I saw it a while ago on Our Best Bites but only just now tried it. It is rockin awesome!

All you need is a brown paper lunch bag, a piece of scotch tape and 1/4 c popcorn kernels. Stick the popcorn in the bag, tape it shut then nuke away. Mine took 2 minutes to pop. Then I melted about a tablespoon of butter in a small dish in the microwave for 30 seconds, threw the popped popcorn in a bowl and I poured that butter goodness on top with a healthy shake or 12 of salt. mmm!

OK so why would anyone want to make popcorn not on the stove? Well it's hard to make a small amount of popcorn on the stove and we all know that once popcorn is made it must all be eaten or the universe will collapse on itself. This way you have a bit of portion control. Pretty cool eh?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday 36

1.Watching a baby chick hatch at the science museum. (Who knew it could be so exciting?!)
2. A nice family outing.
3. Having enough energy to clean the toilet
4. Sleeping mostly through the night
5. My family being understanding about me wanting to experiment in the kitchen.
6. Blockette's good report card.
7. Nice warm autumn days.
8. Realizing we're out of filters for the humidifier BEFORE I need to use them.
9. Blockette being quiet enough for me to take a nap every day this week.
10. Finishing another good book.(I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fail Meal

I would like to start of by saying that I didn't shed a single tear with this disaster of a meal. I think I should get a sticker or a medal for that. I don't even think I swore once. Yay for rolling with the punches.

The menu for this meal was balsamic honey glazed carrots, roasted sweet dumpling squash, and apple sausage with gnocci in butter sauce. It sounds like a nice meal doesn't it?

Problem #1: Gnocci

I made the gnocci from scratch using this recipe at Iowa Girl Eats. I had made the gnocci, or soft potato dumplings about two weeks ago. I tested a few by boiling and pan frying up a single serving. They tasted wonderful, but I forgot to snap a pic. I figured, no problem, I'll freeze the rest, as the recipe states, and take a picture for the blog when I make up the leftovers.

So I boiled the frozen gnocci. Once the dumplings floated to the top I carefully scooped them out and placed them gently into a strainer. Then, I emptied the contents of the strainer into a nice hot skillet. Um. That's not supposed to happen. My gnocci had turned into mashed potatoes. All that work. Down. The. Drain. Ugh. I heated the mess up on the skillet so that it got a bit crispy, sort of like a potato pancake. At least it still tasted good. I definitely won't be making gnocci ever again. Maybe I'll buy the premade stuff, but probably not.

Problem #2: Carrots

I've roasted carrots in the oven before. How could I go wrong with Honey Balsamic Roasted Carrots? I found the recipe on Kalyn's Kitchen. The original recipe called for Agave, but I've always thought agave and honey were interchangeable. Maybe that was where the problem lied. Maybe it was because I cooked the squash in the oven at the same time as the carrots and there was too much steam? All I know is the carrots would NOT caramelize. They cooked but refused to brown, even after an hour.

Because the carrots didn't that nice crispy outside, they were somewhat lacking in taste. They were OK, but nothing fabulous. Steamed carrots with Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle, Fines Herbs and butter would have been easier, and tastier. I'll stick with that the next time we are going to have cooked carrots.

Problem #3: Sweet Dumpling Squash

This was the only recipe that turned out how it was supposed to. Check out the recipe from Dreamy Dish.For those of you unfamiliar with the variety of squash called "Sweet dumpling," above is a photo. They are slightly bigger than half an acorn squash, at least the ones at my grocery store. Maybe we have mutant acorn squash?

I had never heard of Sweet Dumpling squash until I saw them at the store. They were on sale a few weeks before Halloween and I thought it would be nice to try one. In the meantime, it made a nice festive fall decoration on the dining room table. Well, at least there was that.

See, I was under the impression that the squash would taste different than an acorn squash. Everything I read about them said they tasted sweeter. I could NOT tell the difference. I don't hate acorn squash, I'm just not the biggest fan ever. I will eat it, but I get tired of it in large doses.

Half of a sweet dumpling squash is supposed to be a serving size. I think Mrblocko and I got sick of it after about half way through our serving, even with all its buttery, syrupy, brown sugary goodness.

I want to repeat that this wasn't bad, it tasted OK. When it comes to squash I still prefer spaghetti squash. I won't be making this dish again. If you are a squash-o-phile go for it. You're gonna love it.

Below is the whole meal all together:I think it looks nice. And, well, at least I didn't burn the sausages.

Gnocci from Iowa Girl Eats
1 pound Russet potatoes
1/2 cup flour, may need more
3 Tablespoons of 1 whisked egg
salt & pepper

ook potatoes until tender and mash until smooth. Whisk eggs and add 3 Tablespoons to the white potatoes. Add seasonings and stir until just combined. add 1/2 cup flour and kneed with your hands until just combined. If dough is too sticky, add a little more. Generously flour a clean, dry surface and knead the dough a couple times until it has come together in a ball. Cut the dough ball into quarters and roll each quarter into a long rope until it’s the width of your index finger. Using a floured knife, cut the rope into one inch sections. Hold a fork, curved side up with one hand and with the thumb of your other hand, gently roll the dough from the top of the curve, to the bottom, keeping your thumb in contact with the dough the whole time. Continue rolling your gnocchi until you’ve gone through the rest of the dough. Transfer to a freezer bag and store in the freezer for 4-6 months.

To cook: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season water with salt and add gnocchi. Cook until the gnocchi float to the top. Gently drain. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until light brown, ~30 seconds. Add gnocchi, salt & pepper, and sauté until golden brown.Serve immediately.

Roasted Carrots with Agave-Balsamic Glaze from Kalyn's Kitchen
1 lb. carrots peeled and cut into diagonal pieces the same thickness
1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 T Agave Nectar
olive oil for spraying roasting pan (or use non-stick spray)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425F. Peel carrots and cut off ends. If carrots are thin, cut into same-size diagonal slices. If carrots have a thicker end, cut off thick part and cut it vertically, then cut into diagonal slices. Carrot slices should be close to the same thickness. Mix balsamic vinegar and agave nectar with a small whisk. Spray flat roasting pan with olive oil or non-stick spray, then arrange carrots in a single layer. Use a pastry brush to brush about 2/3 the agave-balsamic mixture on the carrots.

Roast carrots about 20 minutes, then use a metal turner to turn them and brush with remaining agave-balsamic mixture. Roast ten minutes more, then turn again and check for doneness. Continue to roast until carrots are fork-tender and lightly browned, not quite ten minutes more for me in my toaster oven. Watch them carefully during the final roasting time because they can go from nicely browned to overly done fairly quickly. Grind over desired amount of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve hot.

Sweet Dumpling Squash from dreamy dish
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cut squash in half, and remove seeds and extra bits with a spoon. Turn upside down, and poke holes in skin with a fork. Turn it back over, and place each half into a baking dish filled with an inch or so of water. In each squash half, put following ingredients, sprinkling spices on top edge, too.

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Bake uncovered or 40-45 min, til tender.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Olive and Onion Knots...Now with Omnivore Goodness!

We are soooo not vegans in this house. We're not even quazi-vegetarians. If there ain't meat on the table Mrblocko's brain will implode. Or so he would have me think. Hopefully, I won't offend the nice ladies over at Strawberry Pepper. I totally ruined any vegan-ness in this recipe. I wanted some bread to have with dinner. I didn't have soy milk and egg replacer, but I did have all the other ingredients.

They were really good! They were surprisingly dense. The closest thing I can think of to describe them was a lighter version of a bagel from a chain store like Bruegers, Panera or Einsteins. Were they supposed to be like that? I don't know. Maybe I added too much flour, or kneaded it too much or not enough. I'm still trying to figure out this whole bread thing. Even if I screwed them up they were a tasty tasty side to spaghetti.Blockette did not see me making these rolls. I was a horrible parent and plonked her in front of the TV. I knew if she saw the olives she would make up her mind to hate them before the first crumb hit her tongue. She could smell that I was caramelizing onions so she just assumed the dark spots were "brown onions."

I told her half way through dinner that the black parts were purple olives from Greece called Kalamata Olives. She didn't even care! She was too busy having a heated discussion with Mrblocko whether or not rolls were flowers or knots. I never did figure out who won that debate.

Here is the link to the rolls in their vegan glory: caramelized onion and olive rolls . If you try them with regular eggs and milk let me know what kind of texture your rolls had!

Caramelized Onion and Olive Rolls from Strawberry Pepper 16 Bread Rolls
3/4 cup soy milk, warmed
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cup flour, in 1 cup and 1 1/2 cup batches (I used half all-purpose, half whole wheat pastry flour)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 egg replacer, I used Ener-G brand (1 1/2 tsp + 2 tbsp water)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup caramelized onion (1 large yellow onion)
olive oil for brushing rolls

Drop t vinegar into warmed milk, let sit for 5-7 min. Mix 1 c flour with sugar, salt, and yeast. Stir in warmed curdled milk, prepared egg replacer, and olive oil. Beat til smooth. Set aside somewhere warm for 20 min to rise. Mix in remaining flour, olives, and caramelized onions. Turn onto a clean floured surface, and knead til smooth and elastic, 5-10 min. Add more flour to surface as necessary while kneading. Divide in 16 equal pieces. Tip: divide in half, then each half in half, and so on until there are 16 pieces. Cover pieces before shaping so they don’t dry out. Shape dough: Roll into a thin log, 10-12″ long. Tie in a knot with long ends. Wrap one of the ends underneath. Wrap other end over. Set on a greased baking sheet, and cover while shaping the rest of the rolls. Preheat oven to 375 ºF. Meanwhile, let bread rise for 15-20 min, til doubled in size. Brush tops with olive oil. Bake at 375 ºF for 15-20 min, til golden brown.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

What can I say about microwave pumpkin pie oatmeal from the Craving Chronicles?? If you love pumpkin pie, you'll love this breakfasty version.

Mrblocko and Blockette liked it a lot, but they said that they wouldn't want to eat it every day. I thought the oatmeal could use more sugar, but "more sugar" and "morning" are not a good combination for me. I think I'm just used to the over sweetened pre-packaged Quaker version of oatmeal.

I won't be making this again for myself, but I will make it for the two other weirdos that live in this house. (And no Mrblocko, I'm not referring to the cats.)

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal from Craving Chronicles Makes 1 serving
1/3 cup oats
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
1 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons milk
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
dash of cinnamon, cloves, and allspice
dried cranberries (optional)
chopped pecans (optional)

Measure all of the ingredients into a microwave-safe bowl and stir just until combined. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes, or until desired consistency. Top with more pecans and dried cranberries, if desired. Serve immediately.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful Thursday 35

1. It's November (how did that happen?)
2. I don't have pneumonia.
3. After 2 months of being sick, I am finally starting to feel better.
4. I finished reading 2 books this week! (Dust and Zombies vs. Unicorns)
5. I only got sick from the antibiotic once (must be some sort of new record.)
6. Blockette only has a cold and not pneumonia, bronchitis, strep, ear infection, etc.
7. A good family meeting about how we need to act when we are angry.
8. Elections are over and I won't be pestered with phone calls and attack ads.
9. Mrblocko recovered in his usual record time from his cold.
10. Finishing the cross stitch ornaments for church with time to spare.
11. Actually sleeping at night and not laying in bed/the couch wishing I was asleep.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Applesauce a la Slow Cooker

After making the Dulce de leche apple pie, I was wondering what I was going to do with the rest of the apples. I'd never made applesauce before and I heard it was easy to do in the crockpot. I did a search for slow cooker applesauce recipes and found ones I liked at year of slow cooking and Frugal Girls. I copied the bits I liked from each recipe and adjusted the amounts to fit our taste preferences and the amount of apples I had on hand.

I have to remember to include Blockette more in the kitchen. Lately she has been begging me to "teach her how to cook." Often, I exclude her because I'm in a rush, or the food prep is all chopping with knives sharp enough chop off all or part of your finger, or all done over the stove. Right now she is still to short to do any stove top work, and I don't feel comfortable having her stand on a stool in front of an open flame. That just screams fire hazard to me.

This recipe was a perfect way to put her to use as my mini sous chief. While I peeled and cored the apples, she cut them. She was very excited because I let her use a "sharp" steak knife. I'd forgotten how great the kitchen was for teaching math. Cutting the apples gave me the chance to talk to her about the difference between halves, thirds and fourths. It must have made a big enough impression because it was all she could talk about to Mrblocko at breakfast the next morning.I'm not sure why this applesauce turned out so RED! Maybe it was the cinnamon? The type of apples or a combination of the two? Either way it was a fun change from the pale yellow version we get from the store. Will I be making this recipe again? Yes, yes yes, a thousand times yes. Not only was it a great way to use up extra apples, but it made the whole house smell like apple pie for several days!

Crockpot Cinnamon applesauce
8 med apples
1/2 c water
up to 1T cinnamon (use 1 tsp if you are not a cinnamon freak like us)
1 t vanilla
1T Br sugar
2T lemon juice

Peel, core and chop your apples. Dump everything in the crockpot. Cook for 4 hrs on high. The apples should mash easily with a fork when they are done. So when they are done, get to mashing. I got 3 generous cups of sauce, but yours may vary depending on the size and type of apples you use. I've heard this freezes well, but I didn't make enough to need to freeze it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My 1st totally from scratch pie

We had planned to visit an Apple Orchard in October as a reward for Blockette's extra good behavior. Sadly, the Apple season ended early this year and we missed out. I told Blockette that I would make her a pie and she could pick out the apples at the grocery store. Luckily, she took the disappointment well, and said that it sounded like fun. (OK, so I told her we were also going to her favorite restaurant, Noodles and Company, for dinner. That was what she probably thought sounded fun.)

I let Mrblocko pick out the apple pie recipe from my huge binder of "to do" recipes. He chose Recipe Girl's Deep Dish Dulce De Leche Pie. This recipe did not include directions on how to make a crust so I went on the hunt for that as well. I settled on Sylvia's Perfect Crust from Tasty Kitchen.

Out of all the possible pie crust recipes in the world, why did I choose this one? Well, I tried a butter crust back in December when I made Pies in a Jar for my uncle for Christmas. The crust was a bit sticky and hard to work with, but I didn't know if that was because I was trying to stick them in tiny jars. I also chose this recipe because it didn't require any butter. I had enough butter to make the pie, but then I wouldn't have any left for the other things I wanted to make later in the week. Butter was about $3 at the store and I refuse to pay this much. I'd rather just stock up when it goes on sale. Did you know butter on sale tastes better? Yup, it's a scientific fact!

The reviews for this pie crust were spot on. Not only was this a very simple crust to prepare, but it resulted in a tender, flaky crust. This was all fine and good, but well, it just didn't have the rich flavorful taste that a butter crust has. It was fine for the Dulce De Leche pie because it was so sweet. The flavors in the pie completely overwhelmed the crust. In fact, had to eat some of the crust by itself so I could actually taste it. Even though the crust was not the best tasting crust on the planet, I would absolutely recommend Sylvia's Perfect Crust to a new baker. The lack of fighting with the crust makes up for any lack of taste. I will keep searching for my ideal tasting crust, but keep this recipe in my arsenal when I want a no fuss pie crust.What about the pie as a whole? It was delicious. I warned Mrblocko before we cut into the pie that this was my first pie that I made 100% from scratch so he shouldn't have too high of an expectation. I told him I even made the Dulce de Leche myself in the crockpot. Do you know what the man said, "Well did you milk the cow yourself too?" Don't worry I smacked him upside the head good for his SASSY mouth.

As for the recipe for Deep Dish Dulce De Leche Pie, I thought it was very straight forward. It was supposed to be a deep dish pie, but it seemed to have enough filling for a regular pie. I think if it was a deep dish pie it would be skimpy on the apples. Or maybe the cups of apple are supposed to be heaping? The only change I made to the recipe was to bump up the cinnamon to 1 tsp.

For some reason the top didn't get as dark as I would have liked. At one point I did put foil on the top of the pie as the recipe states. I was fearful that I would burn the crust. I wish I had kept it off to get a slightly deeper tan. The crust was crispy enough for my liking so it was just an aesthetic thing.

One thing to remember about this pie, as with most pies, you absolutely need to let the pie cool before you slice it. Cooling lets the pie set up. I once had a disaster of a pie that was like soup, partially because I cut it while it was hot. The pie was still slightly warmer than room temp when we cut into it. We just couldn't wait any longer! It was just set enough for it to come out in a complete slice. The pie was even better the next day when it had sit in the fridge overnight. I am totally not ashamed to say that I had a nice hearty wedge for second breakfast!

Deep Dish Dulce de Leche Apple Pie from Recipe Girl
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of salt
7 to 8 cups of peeled, sliced apples (I like Granny Smith & Braeburn)
1/2 cup dulce de leche (canned or homemade)
2 Tablespoons apple cider
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
double crust for 9-inch pie (purchased or homemade)
egg white mixed with 1 teaspoon of water
coarse sugar for top, optional

Preheat oven to 400F. In a small bowl, mix sugars, cornstarch, spices and salt. In a large bowl, toss apples, dulce de leche, apple cider and vanilla . Add dry ingredients and toss to combine. Between waxed paper, roll out pie dough as large as possible keeping it a good thickness. Line deep dish pie pan with crust and let it hang over sides. Brush with egg white mix. Add filling and spread out evenly.
Roll out 2nd crust a little bit too, place on top of pie. Crimp edges to seal. Brush with egg white mixture. Cut a few holes in top crust for venting. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if using. Bake for 30 min. Then turn the temperature down to 375F. If pie is browning, cover with foil and top with a pie-crust-shield to prevent crust edges from burning. If you don’t have a pie shield, just cover the whole thing with foil. Bake for another 30 min. Remove pie from oven and cool on rack for several hours to allow filling to set.

*If wish to convert to regular-sized pie (not a deep dish), reduce apples to 5 c and use slightly less dulce de leche.

Sylvia's Perfect Pie Crust from Tasty Kitchen
1-½ cup Crisco (vegetable Shortening)
3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 whole Egg
5 Tablespoons Cold Water
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt

In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 min til resembles coarse meal. In small bowl, beat egg with fork and pour it into flour/shortening mix. Add 5 T cold water, 1 T white vinegar and 1 t salt. Stir gently til all ingredients incorporated.

Separate dough into 3rda. Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½" thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal bags and place in freezer til needed. (If using immediately still a good idea to put in freezer 15-20 min to chill.)

When ready to use dough to make crust, remove from freezer and allow to thaw for 15 min. On floured surface roll dough, starting at center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½" larger in diameter than pie pan.

With a spatula, lift dough carefully from surface of counter into pie pan. Gently press dough against corner of pan. Go around pie pan pinching and tucking dough to make a clean edge.