Saturday, May 30, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I'm still playing catch up with the other Tuesdays with Dorie group members. I joined a couple of months ago, and every chance I get, I try a new recipe from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook. I have had the ingredients on hand to make these bar cookies since I got the cookbook, but I haven't had an occasion to make them. And I can't just bake things for no good reason, you see, because Hogatha will come out. You've met Hogatha. She's my always-hungry, never-satisfied alter ego. She loves baked goods. She can't practice self-control. She doesn't even know what it is. And she loves Caramel Crunch Bars, I've discovered! Before these, my top recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours was the Mango Bread. Before that, it was the Banana Cream Pie. But these quickly zoomed to the top of my "Oh my goodness, that is so good!" list. And one of the very best things about them is how darn easy they are to put together! You can find the recipe on page 112 of the cookbook (I didn't even have to look it up, because I've drooled over the picture so many times), or you can get the recipe here.
Look at the layers, would ya? YUM! A chocolatey shortbread crust (I have a very soft spot in my heart for shortbread), a silky smooth chocolate layer, and some Heath Toffee Bits sprinkled heavily on top. Caramel is noticeably absent from the ingredient list. I don't know why Dorie calls 'em Caramel Crunch Bars. I didn't really taste anything caramely. I did get the coffee taste that comes from the shortbread, for sure...and I loved it. And I got the chocolate...who couldn't?! And I got the toffee pieces, but they aren't really caramelly. They're tofee-ey! Who cares, though? This stuff is good! The recipe makes a 9x13-inch pan full. See?
Now, listen to this! Dorie says to cut these into 54 BARS! WHAT?! Please, Dorie. We Americans are gluttons! We don't want to be teased, especially with something like this. We want something substantial! If you got 15 or so pieces out of this, I'd say you'd have a portion I'd be happy with. And get this...Dorie said that these are great if you use them to make ice cream sandwiches! That's an idea I can get behind! However, I did refrigerate these bars overnight, and when I took them out the next day, you would have broken your teeth trying to eat them. I'm thinking her idea is perfect in theory, but maybe hazardous in practice. But I'd definitely give it a try, because these will be in my regular dessert rotation!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Overall, these brownies were delicious. However, I'm not sure that I'll make them again...they were awfully labor-intensive, and there are other (easier) things that I like just as well. Like the Caramel Crunch Bars (which you'll see tomorrow).
Monday, May 25, 2009
the portobello mushroom caps, of course...
fresh spinach, straight outta Shirley's garden...
Italian diced tomatoes, drained really well...
and some crumbled feta cheese.
Doesn't that look good?!
From the grill...
to the plate! YUM!
These were a great side dish for our dinner tonight. The whole process was really simple, and the finished product was...YUM!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Look at those nuts! This is so easy!
again, super easy!
Then, you add the fruit filling of your choice. I chose blueberry:
Saturday, May 23, 2009
I also apologize that there are no process pictures, because I can't get any decent light in my kitchen. I don't even try to get pictures in the kitchen anymore. It's useless. They turn out all yellow and muddy-looking. But here are some pictures of the finished product:
I warned David before we sat down to eat. He was fully aware that this was created from my imagination and no recipe was followed, so I couldn't make any guarantees that it would be edible! I was very pleasantly surprised! I thought it tasted great! It was just very fresh and spring-like. I think pesto smells like spring, anyway. I think David liked it, but I'm not sure. He ate several bites before he said anything. He's kind of hard to read. He said he liked it, so I'll have to trust him on it. I really enjoyed it, and will definitely make it again. I'm so proud of myself!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
This is my biggest hosta (please overlook the weeds). Mom gave me five hostas from her plants, and this one is HUGE compared to the others. The funny thing is this: hostas are shade plants, but I didn't know this when I got started with my planting, and I don't have a lot of shade. It got planted in full sun, and it's thriving. To the right there is some kind of a lilly. Mom gave me several lillies, and most of them have done well. I also got two butterfly bushes from her, and they're doing great!
Overall, I've had more luck with the hand-me-down divided plants than with anything else I've planted. I feel like they've kind of proven themselves and they're established, so they're pretty safe bets. I told one of my friends about this a year or so ago, and then she asked her grandmother if she would mind to divide her plants. I know that my Mom doesn't really like for her plants to get really huge, because her beds aren't that big. She seemed to welcome the opportunity to divide them and share them with me. Maybe some of your friends and family wouldn't mind to hook you up with some hardy foliage, as well! It never hurts to ask!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
This comes together really easily, in just two bowls! I love my KitchenAid mixer, but I was glad to have a recipe that didn't require it. The batter sure is stiff, though. Dorie's right, it's more like a dough than a batter. After baking (and waiting a whole day to try it, because Dorie says it's better that way!), here's what we have:I just wish that I had used another mango. It had a great flavor, especially when you got a big bite of the mango, but I don't think I got quite the 2 cups that the recipe called for. But the flavor of this bread was fabulous. I gave two generous slices to David's grandmother, Mama (pronounced Mamaw...she's my guinea pig), and I think I pretty much ate the rest. I think David had two slices, but mostly it was me.
Monday, May 18, 2009
And yes, I used all that onion and garlic in this recipe. We like onions and garlic! They make everything better! (I used to use cheese that way...lots of cheese makes everything better. But garlic and onions are healthier!)
For the sauce, you'll need a few simple ingredients:
cornstarch, ground ginger, chicken stock, soy sauce, white wine vinegar, and sugar substitute (if that freaks you out, please feel free to use regular sugar. I do not fear the sugar substitute. Not even the dreaded Sweet 'N Low.)
Next, you'll mix all that stuff up into what's called a "slurry" I think. It'll look like this:
It looks a little like peanut butter, huh? Doesn't taste anything like it, though.
After you've sauted your onions, garlic, and cooked your chicken, you pour in the slurry and mix it. Since it's got that cornstarch in it, it's gonna thicken up pretty good. And it should look like this:
Mmmm! Spoon that over some cooked brown rice, and you've got some healthy Chinese deliciousness! Now, let's move on to the best part of the meal...the asparagus.
Check that out. Beautiful, huh? And it came straight out of Mama's garden (it's pronouned Mamaw, but no one spells it like that). She says the secret is planting male asparagus. I didn't know asparagus could be male or female, but I know I love the end result! Fresh asparagus is the best part of spring. I think David and I could each eat our weight in it every night! To get lovely, delicious roasted asparagus, just drizzle the asparagus spears in some olive oil and toss it around to coat it. I also sprinkle on some Greek seasoning, because that stuff is good on anything. Then, roast it in a 425-degree oven, until it's a tiny bit crispy, and you're ready for some good eatin'! Make sure you sprinkle some freshly grated parmesan over it, too.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I also didn't have any pizza sauce. However, I did have some tomato sauce and a variety of spices, so I made do. It turned out better than I thought!
Let's start putting this pizza together, whaddaya say?
The homemade, thrown together pizza sauce was a little runnier than I would have liked, but it worked fine in a pinch. I had about four partial bags of different shredded cheeses, so I used those. We had some red onion in the fridge and some black olives (YUM!). I put a little olive oil around the edges of the crust, just to make it crispier and because I thought it would be a good idea. I baked it on my pizza stone at 400 degrees for a little while (I can't remember how long...maybe 20 minutes?), and pretty soon, we had pizza-from-leftovers goodness!
It would have been better with Italian sausage, but I have to admit, it was pretty darn good to have been made entirely of leftovers! I think David was pretty impressed, too. But he's generally amazed that I can get a couple of chicken breasts and some canned veggies on the table in less than 20 minutes. He's not picky and easy to please. Just a couple of the many reasons I love him!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
velvety deliciousness! There was lots of mixing involved, but Dorie said we wanted a very aerated batter...we got it! I couldn't believe how smooth and creamy it was! (And it was delicious, straight off of the spatula. You know I couldn't resist.) It was absolutely killing me to not put something in the batter (like chocolate chips, or brownie pieces, or Snickers pieces, or something...anything!), but Mom is a cheesecake purist. And it's her day. So we're having basic cheesecake. But wait! What are we going to bake it in?!
A graham cracker crust! I did cheat a little and used store-bought graham cracker crumbs that I had on hand. See the aluminum foil? There are about 4 layers of aluminum foil wrapped around that spring-form pan. At this point in the process, I was apprehensive about sticking it in the water bath. The last thing I wanted was a soggy Mother's Day cheesecake! But I went for it, and after what seemed like an eternity...
I had a beautiful tall and creamy cheesecake! It got a little more brown on the top than I would have liked. I had the pan in the middle of the oven, like the recipe said, but it just got a little too brown. Next time, I'll lower the rack a notch or two.
I also make some homemade dulce de leche to put on the cheesecake (since I didn't put anything in it):
And then I ate the whole thing! It was very good, but I still need some practice. You see, the master cheesecake baker, Paul C., lives next door to Mom and Chet. He makes awesome, beautiful, unbrowned, crack-free cheesecakes. I mean, they are divine. Mine isn't quite up there with Paul's cheesecake, but it was pretty darn good!