Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TWD: Applesauce Spice Bars

Karen over at Something Sweet by Karen defied the season and picked a treat that quickly put me in the mood for Fall. It helps that the weather here has been unseasonably cool. It should be blazing hot, and all the fans in my house should be on, but instead just one little fan on low, just because the oven was on and the house had been closed up all day (closed windows another sure sign it isn't summer). Before you all get jealous, I'm sure we'll be in for a scorching September and October. Hopefully scorching in temperature only, as we are well known for our October wild fires.

But on to more pleasant talk -- how about these bars!?!? Super easy to make with a minimal of equipment needed (I reread the directions to make sure I added up the number of bowls/pots I would need - two just seemed too good to be true). This was the recipe that made me break down and buy allspice. We've had recipes that required it before, but I've always skipped it. I don't know why this one made me open up the wallet -- I guess that picture in the cookbook just looks too good to mess with.

A whisk, some melting and whisking, a bit more whisking and then gentle stirring. Baking whilst watching a little Big Brother (I was expecting more "oomph" with Chima's expulsion - kinda disappointing), cooling while washing, more melting and whisking (oops, put the vanilla in early!), a little putting the thing back together as it broke coming out of the pan, a bit of spreading, and viola, a yummy dessert!

I like how the spices are there, but not overpowering, and I like the contrast between the apples, the raisins (used those Trader Joe's goldens) and the pecans. Simply delish!

Perhaps some will make it to work tomorrow, but not all. Some will definitely stay behind to keep me (and my hips) company. These are good enough to willingly go to the gym tomorrow (that means they are good!).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

CEiMB: Stuffed Turkey Burgers

This week has been a whirlwind. Last thing I remember it was Sunday night and I was bemoaning going to work in the morning, and now it is Thursday night. How did that happen!?!? Not that I'm complaining that another weekend is suddenly upon me, but whew! What a week!

I've been very busy at work - a ton of stuff going on in my department, bunch of changes coming up, plus the company is moving to a new building. We are almost literally moving across the freeway. Across the street or across town, moving a company of 400 people is no easy task! The place is beginning to look like a college dorm at the end of spring semester. As much as I hate moving myself, I wouldn't wish moving a company on anyone.

So with all of that going on I was so happy that Peggy at Pantry Revisited picked a nice, easy recipe for the week. I'm slowly catching up on old Ellie recipes that the CEiMB group made before I officially joined, so I got enough turkey to make both 1 burger and the Turkey Meatballs.

Instead of going the jarred red pepper route, I decided to roast my own. There is something satisfying watching food burn on your stove after a hectic day. I was a little concerned when the stem caught on fire, but the house is still standing so all is well.

Once that process was over, putting this together was a snap. Had a little "stickage" problem with the grill pan (so much for my new non-stick spray!), but once pried out of the pan this was very good.

I served it with a smidge of the usual condiments (I was very good and really used a very small amount), plus a tomato slice, and the obligatory avocados on a sesame seed bun. Surprisingly good (though not a beauty to photograph)! I would certainly make these again. Easy to do just one, and a great way to use up left over ground turkey.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

TWD: Brownie Buttons

Lessons learned this week while making the Brownie Buttons, chosen by Jayma over at Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen.

- Dorie follows a "truth in advertising" policy I think. These were very small, literally the size of buttons. Well, buttons worn during the 1980s perhaps, but buttons nonetheless. No rise, which is no surprise (oh - I made a rhyme!) since there was no leavening agent. But once the concept was embraced, I was on board.

- Trust in the power of Dorie. You may think those "optional" ideas sound weird, but I haven't tried one yet that hasn't spoken to me. Instead of orange zest I went with lemon (that is what I had on hand) and I really, really liked it. The balance between the zing of the zest, the richness of the chocolate brownie, and the sweetness of the white chocolate icing really worked.

- Trust your timer. If you set your timer to a particular time, and you hear it alert you to the fact that 14 minutes have come and gone, do not think, "oh, I'll get there in just a minute." Because if you're baking something this small, that extra minute is going to cost you. Second week in a row that "moist" isn't a word used to describe my results.

- If you put a metal bowl inside another metal bowl filled with simmering water, and the white chocolate in the first bowl melts as a result of said simmering water, there is a very good likelihood that picking up the first bowl with the melted chocolate WITHOUT some sort of heat protection isn't a very good idea.

- I am grateful on a daily basis for the quick reflexes and excellent balance I inherited from my father. Without them, my kitchen would be a whole lot messier.

- Still no obvious upside to chubby, short fingers. These little suckers were hard to hold on to! I finally gave up and just frosted them with the back of my spoon. Got the same results with a lot less swearing.

- On the downside theme, tiny desserts are evil. You are lulled into thinking "just one of these adorable little treats can't possibly hurt....." Sixteen of them later - well, 'nuff said.

So there you have it. Another successful TWD project completed, with an extra dose of insight at no extra cost. Sadly my co-workers did not partake in this - both sadly for them and sadly for my hips. Lucky for them, and my hips, the Applesauce Spice bars look like a good "let's share" dessert. I'm looking forward to making them next week. And - I finally got around to making the vanilla ice cream. Full report to follow.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

CEiMB: Updates, a catch up, but no Carrot Cake

Although I am a big fan of carrot cake I passed on this week's recipe selected by Leanna at Enjoying My Favorite Things. I feel very sloth-like, since she battled tornadoes and power outages to get hers done. I just battled a little bit of busy-ness at work, and lost. Ugh!

I am happy to report I remembered to photograph my second serving of last week's pick, the Cobb Salad. I've enjoyed the dressing all week. It is pretty tasty just mixed with tomatoes and avocados.

Speaking of tomatoes and avocados, I took advantage of left overs and made a BAT - Bacon, Avocado and Tomato sandwich. It was seriously yummy. I pondered tossing a little blue cheese in there just to give it some zip, but decided against it. It was tasty, but I'm thinking I should make it again for the experiment -- yeah..... I need to sacrifice and make another sandwich for the sake of science to see if the blue cheese is as good as it sounds.

Also, on a coolish day, I made Ellie's Granola (previously made by the CEiMB group before I joined). I must say it was/is very tasty. I followed the recipe exactly (except for that handful of sweetened coconut I added) and LOVE it. I've had it as a cereal, I've added it to yogurt, I've eaten it solo as a snack. I just can't eat enough of this stuff. It is a great way to use up the left over bits of nuts (or coconut!) from other baking/TWD projects. Healthy - tasty - easy. Can't beat it. If you've joined CEiMB after that was made, you'll definitely want to give it a try.

I'll be back with the regularly scheduled CEiMB recipe next week. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

TWD: Banana Bundt Cake

As much as last week's CEiMB was proof positive that I am not a "real" food blogger, this week's TWD is proof that I am a baker. If I had to choose, I'm pretty happy with the one that I am. My co-workers are too, based on how quick the Banana Bundt (Cup) Cake went.

For the baking classes I took in culinary school, the teacher (a very experienced, very dreamy looking very well known pastry chef here in San Diego) would give us minimalist recipes on the board. His theory - a sound one - was once you learned the techniques you don't have to write out the directions. If he wrote "2 sticks butter" and below it "2 cups sugar" on the board, connected them with a line, and then wrote "cream" next to it, then we knew that we would put both ingredients into a stand mixer and let them go at medium speed for approximately 5 minutes or until they got to that beautiful, light fluffy stage that we all know and love.

Since my kitchen is small, and because time was short, I translated Dorie's recipe into Chef McDreamy haiku. I must say I got this cake done in a short period of time, and felt very confident along the way. It's a nice feeling, one that I've felt slowly increasing over the last year of participating. Practice really does make perfect.

Since I don't have a bundt pan (sorry Mary!!) I went the cup cake route. I had a bit of batter left over, so I filled up half of a mini-muffin pan and tossed that into the oven as well. Those were done first, and the cupcakes took about 30+ minutes to finish baking.

Waiting for the trip to work

The mini-muffins ended up being a great way to please all parties at work. Those who just wanted a bite got one. Those who wanted a snack took the full sized muffins. Everyone was happy, and they all disappeared in a hurry.

I didn't try the glaze, mostly because of time. I would think that it would add a "wow" factor to an already tasty cake. The mini-muffins were a little dry, the regular sized muffins weren't bad, but not as moist as some said in the P&Q. Perhaps because I used non-fat plain yogurt? Or perhaps I didn't add enough banana? Whatever the reason, these were still good, and I add this to the list of "sure, I'd make that again"-s.

Thanks to Mary from The Food Librarian for picking out something that was truly tasty, but without TWD I never would have tried!