Tuesday, December 30, 2008

CEiMB - Chocolate Cherry-Almond Biscotti

Hosted by Enjoying My Favorite Things you can find the recipe for this biscotti on page 302 of Ellie Krieger's cookbook, Craving Ellie in My Belly.

I love biscotti. I made big fat whole wheat biscotti with dried cherries, almonds, and chopped dark chocolate. I was out of sugar so I had to use half sugar and half brown sugar. Here it is before it baked. I think I should have flattened the log out more, but the recipe said 10x3 which is what I did.

Here is the finished product. They were slightly crumbly. I personally needed them to be a bit sweeter.

I also made chicken pot pie in my brand new ramekins that were a gift at Christmas. Apparently, these ramekins are special because my son and daughter-in-law went to a lot of trouble to get them for me. They first bought seven ounce ramekins. Then, in a conversation I told them I wanted big ramekins. So they ordered ten ounce ones for me and took the seven ounce ones back. They said I better like the ten ounce ones and I DO! They are just perfect. I also tried out my new pie cutters that my boss Heather gave me for my birthday. And by the way, she has the most adorable triplets! Try the biscotti. You might like it. And HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR'S!! I'm going to eat and dance the night away.

Monday, December 29, 2008

TWD - Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

I'm having trouble loading photos onto this blog. . . will try again later. It loads the photos, but then they come out as text on the post. Any suggestions - help anyone???

The Tall and Creamy Cheesecake was chosen by Anne of Anne Strawberry. You can find the recipe on pages 235-237 of of Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours. Or, you can hop over to Anne's blog and check for it there.

Since the beginning of time, chefs all over the world have blended cream cheese, neufchatel cheese, ricotta cheese, and eggs together trying to concoct that perfect cheesecake. The one that will beat all others. If you are like me and you visit a Cheesecake Factory restaurant, you will be in awe of all the different kinds to choose from. I think the famous New York cheesecake has no added ingredients, just more of a plain version.

First, let me say that although I am not a fan of cheesecake, I've made plenty of cheesecakes in my day and all of them good. Just last week I made a raspberry ricotta cheesecake and it was very tasty. I've never used the water bath method, so I chose to skip over that for Dorie's cheesecake. The batter looked so light and fluffy! I also did not venture out from Dorie's recipe except to use half sour cream and half heavy cream, and I used cinnamon flavored graham crackers for the crust.

I think all cheesecakes crack a bit on top, but oh sweet Moses, mine had a more of a crater than a crack (only around the edge of it though)! Is there a seismologist in the house? Or speaking of Moses, remember the parting of the Red Sea? Trust me, the parting of the waters, the crack on my cheesecake - VERY similar.

Although my cheesecake is not very pretty, and could be considered a disgrace to cheesecake bakers all over the world, it tasted great.

History: According to What's Cooking in America, in 1929 - Arnold Reuben, owner of the legendary Turf Restaurant at 49th and Broadway in New York City, claimed that his family developed the first cream-cheese cake recipe. Other bakeries relied on cottage cheese. According to legend, he was served a cheese pie in a private home, and he fell in love with the dessert. Using his hostess’ recipe and a pie she made with ingredients he provided, he then began to develop his own recipe for the perfect cheesecake. Reuben soon began to serve his new recipe in his Turf Restaurant, and the cheesecake quickly became very popular with the people who frequented Reuben’s Broadway restaurant.

Now guess what the yankee got me for Christmas? A shiny new violin! Yes, you read correctly. Can I play the violin? Nooooooooo. But I can learn. I can't wait!

Monday, December 22, 2008

NO TWD this week! Sorry.

I'm in awe of all of you bakers who are able to run errands, clean house, wrap presents, and still find time to bake food and take photos of it all. I'll be back next week, but with everything I have to cook this week, I just could not find the time to make pudding today. I'm sure it was delicious. I can't wait to read about all of your puddings.

Have a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a happy and prosperous new year. I look forward to what 2009 holds for us in baking blogland. I've really enjoyed baking with all of you for the past few months and learning new things every week.

Hope "Big Daddy in the Red Suit" brings wonderful surprises to all of you!!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

TWD - Buttery Jam Cookies!

I'm in love - with a cookie. I prefer not-too-sweet chewy cookies and that is exactly what these are. Additionally, they were incredibly easy to make. And in the middle of the season, with plenty going on already, easy was so nice.

Thanks to Heather of Randomosity and the Girl by Heather for choosing this recipe. Check out her site for the recipe.

I had two tiny substitutions. First, I sent the yankee to the store to get apricot jam. Of course I get the expected phone call from him saying they did not have apricot jam. So instead we went for spreadable fruit. It worked fine. I am beginning to think this city is lacking in the grocery department. (Not my favorite Publix of course). Second, I had ginger in my pantry. But when I pulled it out to put in the cookies, I discovered there is ginger and then there is ginger. My ginger was a version you use in meats. (Could I be wrong about this?) So rather than go back to the store, I used pumpkin pie spice (which had ginger in it) in the cookies and it worked great.

Years ago, someone gave me a melon baller for a wedding present. Yes, you heard me right. Well I have never used it, having never had a need to make balls out of melon. However, I decided to try that to accurately measure my dough for the cookies and it worked so well I will be using it from now on. The dough came out of the melon baller with such ease! Each cookie was perfectly formed. I felt like Columbus making a new discovery!
The baking cookies filled my house with a wonderful buttery cinnamon smell that just made me feel like Christmas!
And now, the kitchen is finally just about finished. Note the new countertop space! Note the new sink and faucet. Note the new cabinets with glass in the doors. The grout on the floor has some issues which is one thing we will have to work on later. But for now, the house is back in order and clean again! Even managed to finally get my tree up and a few presents purchased!

I am so blessed. Life is good. . . .

Thursday, December 11, 2008

CEiMB - Ratatouille Tart

Well better late than never. Today was Craving Ellie in My Belly day and I am a tad late posting. Hosted by The Wiivers - the Ratatouille Tart.

It was supposed to snow here today. All I see so far is cold, cold rain.

The tart. Surprisingly easy to make.

Not surprisingly easy to eat.

I made a couple of substitutions. I added a bit of yellow squash to the mix and used chopped onions instead of shallots. You can get the recipe on page 98 of The Foods You Crave by Ellie Kreiger.

Note to self - buy a tart pan. I used a regular cake pan and it was difficult to get out of the pan upon completion. The cornmeal crust sort of crumbled a bit.

There was no liquor in this dish. Imagine that.

I highly recommend this dish!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers - Coq Au Vin

In our Barefoot Bloggers group, Bethany of this little piggy went to market chose Ina Garten's Coq Au Vin for us to try this week. Thanks Bethany!

Does anyone know where the phrase "under the weather" comes from? Well that is me. I'm not sure if I am under it or over it or crushed by it, but it has been a challenge of a week physically. I decided a good chicken dish might be just what the doctor ordered. My Yankee has fallen ill today too and we are just hoping he manages to recover quicker than I have. We are getting so far behind on our Christmas festivities. We missed one dinner party last weekend and this Friday night is my big Christmas dance. I'm hoping Mr. Man will be well enough to attend with me or I will have to dance solo.

Of course it never fails when I go to the store that I forget to buy one or two ingredients that I need, or that they are out of said ingredient. This time I forgot the mushrooms. So we are dining tonight on Coq Au Vin without mushrooms and without pearl onions and without fresh thyme, the latter of the three because I just do not care for it.

This was a relatively simply dish to prepare. Some chopping, but not too much. Of course Ina always makes everything look so simple and delicious.

Okay, you fry the chicken before you cook it in tons of liquid. How exactly does the pre-frying help it along?

Once it cooked in the oven, it seemed to have tons of liquid around it. I followed the directions and used the butter and flour, but it never thickened up. We finally just ate it. My man loved it. He has always loved french food. The liquor flavor was really strong to me. While I thought it was okay, I will probably not make this dish again because for all the trouble it was, it wasn't that good. Or maybe me being under the weather caused my brain to disfunction?

Try it for yourself though and let me know how you like it. You can get the recipe on page 116 of the Back to Basics book.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

NO TWD this week!

Well tis the season -

the season to be sick that is! I somehow came down with the flu bug - YIKES -and I don't have time for this right now!!!! Just cannot cook this week - check back with me next week. Check out http://tuesdayswithdorie.wordpress.com/ to see what the other bakers are up to this week.

For stopping by my blog, I'll leave you with a bit of history about the candy cane!

The TRUE Story of the Origin of the Candy Cane

A candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy that would be a witness, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry and death of Jesus Christ.
He began with a stick of pure white, hard candy. White to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus, and "hard" to symbolize the Solid Rock ~ the foundation of the Church and the firmness of the promises of God.
The candymaker made the candy in the form of a "J" to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior. It could also represent the staff of the "Good Shepherd" with which He reaches down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs, who like all sheep, have gone astray.
Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candymaker stained it with red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the strips of the scourging Jesus received, by which we are healed. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross, so that we could have the promise of eternal life.
Unfortunately, the candy has become known as the Candy Cane ~ a meaningless decoration seen at Christmas time. But ... the meaning is still there for those who have "eyes to see and ears to hear."
If you don't believe this story, then the next time you buy a box of Candy Canes (the red and white ones) look on the back. You will find this story there.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

CEiMB - Jewel Roasted Vegetables

This week's recipe was chosen by A Year From Oak Cottage. I had doubts at first. Even though I like beets, I have never eaten a fresh beet much less looked for them in the market. The clerk tried to charge $3.00 per beet, but finally rang up the $3.00 for the entire bunch. I thought that was still a bit spendy. And what do you do with all that greenery that comes with?

I once took a photography course. Don't snicker. I can hear you! Apparently I did not learn much. Note my carrot teepee below. It might look more like orange towers, but don't be deceived. It's a teepee. I get bored with just chopping sometimes.I added one large yellow onion to my vegetables. I was surprised at how easily the beets peeled after cooking them. However, I had red fingernails when I finished. Yikes. Should have worn gloves. I forgot to buy fresh thyme, so it cooked without that.
My kids have asked me for a list of things I want for Christmas. I'm having trouble coming up with things. Then I thought maybe you guys could help out. If you could choose one kitchen item that has been the most handy/helpful to you in your cooking/baking, what would it be?

I loved this recipe. I became a fan of fresh beets tonight. The brussel sprouts, carrots and onion all tasted delicious mixed together.
Here is the recipe if you want to try it. I think you'll like it.

4 medium beets
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds carrots
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
8 large garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Put the beets into a small baking dish and rub them with 1 tablespoon of oil. Cover the dish with foil and put into the oven for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, peel and cut the carrots into 1-inch pieces, trim the Brussels sprouts and halve them lengthwise, and peel the garlic cloves. Put the carrots, Brussels sprouts and garlic cloves into a large baking dish and toss with the remainder of the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
After the beets have been cooking for 30 minutes add the large pan of vegetables to the oven and cook everything for 1 hour more, stirring the vegetable mixture once or twice.
Remove the beets from the oven and transfer them to a cutting board to cool. Stir the thyme into the carrot and Brussels sprouts mixture and let it continue to cook for another 10 minutes while the beets are cooled and cut. When the beets are cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes, peel them and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Remove the other vegetables from the oven, toss with the beets, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Monday, December 1, 2008

TWD - Linzer Sables

Living the Life by noskos chose Linzer Sables for this week's TWD challenge! Excellent choice, especially with the holidays right around the corner.

I am exhausted from my trip to Orlando. Therefore, I make no apologies for bad photos, misspelled words, or incomplete sentences. Or bad hair.

Linzer Sables are cookies, easy to make, easy to eat. I used pecans instead of almonds.

I told the yankee that once we returned from our Thanksgiving trip I was going on a diet to lose a few inches around my middle so that my Christmas dress would fit. Right now it doesn't. So I show up to work this morning and my sweet friend, June, surprised me with brownies. My favorite. So I did what any sweet, loving, friend would do and I ate them. I shared, but I also ate.

Ok, back to the Linzers. Here is a photo of my piecrust, oops I mean cookie dough.

Here are the beautiful flowers my son, Cameron, sent me for my birthday last week. I like this picture better than the cookie dough one, don't you?

Here are the cookies on the sheet right before baking them.

Here we are on Thanksgiving at Mitchell's house in Orlando, working hard to make the perfect feast. Excuse the hair. It's not the best look for me. Neither is the fur lined vest - what was I thinking that morning????Night at Pat O'Brien's singing with the dueling pianos. Karioke anyone? Don't judge him by this. He's a great guy. Beer was involved.
Watching the Alabama/Auburn game in the middle of a restaurant filled with Florida/Florida State fans. Us being the only Auburn fans in the crowd. Getting slaughtered by Alabama. But having fun eating wings and again, drinking beer.
We saw the Four Christmases with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn. I have never laughed so hard in a movie. I highly recommend it!

We played lots of Phase 10 and Balderdash with our friends Curt, Wendy, and Nick.

What a great Thanksgiving. I hope it was as good for all of you!

LOVED the linzer sables. Will definitely make them again and maybe even share next time. I'm on my fourth one tonight as I type this. . . . .

And here we are and it is December. . . what the hay? Where did November go?