Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween.....

I love Halloween, really! It's fun to scare kids and decorate the house! Usually we go all out on the outside decorations but this year we have had Santa Anna winds like nobodies business; and when they blow most of the tombstones and cobwebs end up in someone else's yard! So I stayed inside and baked cupcakes for my DH to take to work and for me to take to the gym!

I used my favorite Devils Food recipe from the "Tartine" cookbook and it made about 36 cupcakes. Really good chocolate flavor, I used Dutch process chocolate because this recipe contains buttermilk. I also use low fat buttermilk and it has never been a problem even though the recipe calls for full fat buttermilk. I can't even find full fat buttermilk, anyone heard of that kind of buttermilk? Used the vanilla buttercream frosting from "More from Magnolia" cookbook.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza.....

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was homemade pizza dough! And, to try and toss your dough, sure. This pizza dough was so good!!! I don't think we will order in again, and that is saying something because we really like our local pizzeria, Oggi's! My DH said the dough was the best he has had, OK, we don't live in Chicago or New York, we're in SoCal so maybe we aren't pizza aficionados! But we do know what we like and don't like.

This was very easy to make! I made the dough with olive oil and didn't change anything in the recipe. True, you don't see any pics of me attempting to throw the dough in the air; good reason, my first attempt resulted in a big hole in the dough and me almost wearing it, LOL. Not sure what happened but my dough seemed realty elastic and did not want to be twirled, tossed or tweaked.

However, using my rolling pin worked great and we enjoyed a wonderful thin crust pizza. My favorite pizza has no sauce, just olive oil and garlic. Then add mozzarella, Roma tomatoes and fresh basil. Yes, my favorite pizza is a Margarita Pizza and this really filled the bill.=

We ate two pizzas on Friday and have enough for two more for this weekend, can't wait! I should mention that three months ago, before I got into the world of food blogs, I cleaned out my kitchen of all unnecessary items, things I hadn't used in years. The two items that went to the donation station were my pizza stone and peel, go figure! DH just smiled and ordered another stone (sometimes they know when not to say anything) and I bought another peel at the restaurant supply. Who knew......

Well I had a great time with this recipe, thank you to Rosa's Yummy Yums this was fun!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2X Chocolate Cupcakes.....

This post will be short and very sweet! My cousin is visiting from Germany with her daughter and I have a limited amount of time to see them before they travel to Northern California. These cupcakes came out with no problems and I followed the recipe as stated. I used my own buttercream frosting because it's what DH loves; he took most of them to work and the comments were that the cupcakes were "intense"; not sure what that ment, maybe too chocolatie. I felt they were a bit crumbly (dry), but all in all a good flavor. Next time maybe some applesauce or sour cream to make them more moist. Or, just use my favorite devils food recipe.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dorie's Pumpkin Muffins.....

Our TWD group got to make Pumpkin Muffins this week, choosen by Kelly from Sounding My Barbaric Gulp! and they were so good!!! The only substitute I made was craisins for the raisins; I'm just not that fond of raisins in baked goods. I made two additions to the recipe, I added chopped crystallized ginger, about two tablespoons and maybe 1/8 tsp. of cardamon.

These muffins were just right on the spices and would be excellent for breakfast, a morning snack or brunch; not too sweet! This recipe made 12 regular muffins and 4 jumbo muffins! I was very happy for the extra muffins!

What I really enjoy about making these recipes each week is the versatility of the ingredients, you can usually use what you have on hand or use what you and your family enjoy.

I will be making these again this week and use up the extra pumpkin; wouldn't want it to go to waste (waist)!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Our treat this week was Lenox Almond Biscotti chosen by Gretchen of Canela & Comino. I usually get biscotti in those holiday baskets and they always seem a bit cement like (probably because they have been in that basket for months) and the one time I tried to make them, well, they were just not great. I know there are wonderful biscotti out there, I just don't want to buy a jar full when all I want is something with my tea. I was curious about the cornmeal in these and after reading the reviews was happy to see my cornmeal was on the fine side. I really liked Dorie's recipe for biscotti, they were not hard and had a nice crunch from the cornmeal.

I used this recipe to try out my new BeaterBlade for my K/A. I saw this blade in the latest Chefs catalog and just HAD to try it out. The blade is an after market paddle attachment that has flexible wipers on the edges; so no more scraping down the sides of the bowl. Did it work? YES, I didn't have to scrape down the bowl at all with this recipe. My only concern is that it is made from a high impact plastic not metal and I am not sure how durable (comes with a 1 year guarantee) it will be, but it does save a lot of time. I am puzzled why K/A has not come out with a wiper paddle like this! You can also purchase it at Amazon , it got great reviews!

I had no problems with this recipe the dough was sticky but not hard to form into the rectangle; I did draw an outline on the parchment to be sure it was 12 x 1.5.

I wanted to make 2 different flavors from this recipe so I cut the dough in half before adding the flavoring. I made a Lemon Biscotti by using lemon extract, the zest of one lemon and added Macadamia nuts. For my Pumpkin Pie Biscotti I used 1 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice, orange extract and pecans. I dipped the ends of a few biscotti from each batch in white chocolate, because it just sounded good. I liked both versions equally and will make Dorie's recipe again!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Vanilla Anyone?

Since I joined TWD I have been baking like a mad woman! I feel as if I should bake everyday, OK, so what is wrong with that? Well, nothing! But the amounts of vanilla extract I have been going through is amazing and I won't buy artificial flavorings, yuck! Call me a snob, but no way. I started to wonder about making my own vanilla and maybe, never run out again. Off to the Internet I went and I found this recipe for homemade vanilla at The Traveler's Lunchbox , wow, how easy was this? Melissa's recipe is very easy, so easy you will wonder why you haven't been making your own extract before. We had some partial bottles of vodka and what the hell, I'll try anything once, just to see.

Melissa mentions several sites to purchase vanilla beans for a reasonable price, I checked them out and felt this one, Vanilla Products USA , was a good one, they are also on ebay. I think their store on ebay is much better than the actual web site. I placed my order on Monday and my beans are here, two days later, on Wednesday! Beans are as described and smell sooooo good!. I bought 1/2 pound of beans for making vanilla and 1/4 pound of gourmet beans for baking; their prices are unbelievably low, considering what you pay in the markets for 3 wizened up beans. I now have a bizillion vanilla beans all wrapped up, they will last a very long time if kept properly. These beans are plump, fat and full of good vanilla stuff.

So, here is my ginormous bottle of vanilla, ready to be stored in my pantry, all I have to do is wait several weeks, use what I need and top off with more vodka; then add a few vanilla bean pods when I use the seeds for baking.
The spent pods can also be used to make vanilla sugar and salt (?). Who new? Well maybe you have been making your own vanilla but for me this is really cool.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake.....

Thank you to Tammy at Wee Treats by Tammy for picking this weeks recipe! I have been looking fondly at this cake since I bought the book; finally we got to make it! Maybe the kitchen gremlins were around or my kitchen chi was way off, but the cake just didn't do it for me. I did cut the recipe in half, so we didn't have so much to consume...but, it was a bit dry and I didn't care for the chocolate flavor.
I used a 6" springform pan; I like the size for the two of us, gives us dessert for a couple of days, then it is ALL gone. I think it may have cooked too fast because my pan is dark. I will use my cake pan strips and wrap the pan next time I use it. The strips should slow down the cooking on the sides.

My cake did not fall in the middle and looked really nice. Had I known it was a bit dry I would have moistened it with some chocolate liquor or perhaps some amaretto. Although I love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, I didn't care for the peanuts on this cake; maybe pecans, hazelnuts or cashews next time. All in all a fun recipe to play with and I am very happy I bought the smaller springform pan and actually used it, LOL.

I used the extra caramel sauce when I served the cake.