Monday, November 26, 2007

Daring Bakers Challenge: Tender Potato Bread

I have to say I was super excited when I saw what the challenge for November was to make Tender Potato Bread. After the super sweet (and very yummy) October challenge this was a welcomed recipe to make. I have also been wanting to get more experience with making bread for a really long time. I feel like now that I live in my own house this might be possible. Before when we lived in the apartment there was just no room to make the dough or for it to rise properly (very drafty and cold).

One thing I liked about this recipe was that the ingredient list was short and I actually had most of the stuff in the house already. For the most part I didn't have any problems with this recipe and enjoyed making it. This time around making the challenge I got my husband to watch my son so I could bake in peace. This helped a lot with me not feeling rushed or like I was messing something up.

I was concerned with all the warnings about the softness of this dough and not to use to much flour. I thought I had this all under control and the dough was coming out great going in to the first rise...then it happened. I turned out the dough to kneed it just before you shape it. My original plan was to make them into clover leaf rolls which look so cool. Well my dough was SOOO sticky that I couldn't shape the dough at all and decided to just drop dough into a muffin tin and make muffin rolls. They actually came out really well and for the first time ever they didn't even stick to my muffin tin. This recipe makes a lot of dough so I put the extra into an 8x8 pan and made a nice thin sort of loaf out of it.

Review: I enjoyed making this recipe and even with my crazy sticky dough I might make it again when I have the time. My husband was very impressed with the say it came out and really liked having the bread with dinner (my son enjoyed it as well). I also enjoyed having the rolls with my lunch for a couple of days...below is a picture of my sandwich I made using the potato bread muffin with my salad.

I think my problem was that I used way to much potato and maybe even not enough flour. I feel with a little more bread making experience attempting this recipe again would make the difference. I have to say most of the time I make dough it is usually in a machine of some kind.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Knock off Baby Bunch

I love watching the Martha Stewart show and always enjoy the fun craft ideas on it. The one that recently really caught my eye was from an episode back in October. It was about a cute idea on how to make a cute baby gift that was practical but pretty as well called the Baby Bunch. It is a bouquet of flowers but not just flower but baby clothes rolled up to look like roses as well. Since I have a couple of relatives and a friend that are going to be having babies soon and thought this would be a great idea to learn how to make.

Review: It was really easy to roll and put everything together...I have to say much easier then I thought it would be. The pictures above are from my first attempt at making this and I don't think it looks that bad. I think the direction forget to tell you to add some wire to the clothes so you can put everything together...if you watch the video on the website you will see what I mean. The only thing that I am sort of bummed out about is that it cost me about $25 to make it after buying all the supplies. I do have a few things left over (like the paper flowers and leaves) but not that much. I would debate on spending the $25 on this or getting a real gift for the new mom/baby. That being said if you want to purchase one of these from the real Baby Bunch people the price starts at $50 before tax and shipping are added.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chocolate-Mint Wafters...from Everyday Food

I am starting to think about what else to make for the upcoming holidays...besides my standard Grandma's Sugar Cookie (which I would be disowned from every family if I didn't make them). I got the new issue of Everyday Food and they have a bunch of cookie recipes in it.

Chocolate-Mint Wafers
Prep: 25 minutes Total: 35 minutes, plus chilling

1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Sprinkles, for decorating (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix just until combined.

Form balls of dough (each equal to 1 teaspoon), and place on two baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Dip the bottom of a glass in water, and flatten balls into 1 1/2-inch rounds (about 1/4 inch thick). Bake until slightly firm to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make chocolate coating: Place chocolate, peppermint extract, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes; remove from heat.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Set each cookie across the tines of a fork, dunk in chocolate, then tap underside of fork on side of the bowl to allow excess chocolate to drip off. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet, and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Refrigerate until chocolate has hardened, about 30 minutes, and keep chilled until ready to serve.

Review: This cookie is OK not sure if I would make it again because it was more time consuming then I thought it would be. I have to admit that I am comparing it to the girl scout version which are way better then this recipe. Making the dough was pretty easy and using my cookie scoop made rolling the dough into balls easy. I wasn't that good at flattening the dough into disk with the glass and it got sort of stuck a few times. The most time consuming part of this recipe for me was dipping then into the chocolate...something I am sure gets easier with practise. Which brings me to my first issue with the recipe. I don't know if it is a typo or what but I didn't get 44 cookies out of this recipe. I got about 24 cookies or so out of this recipe. To be fair I think I did make them a little bit larger then the 1 teaspoon size because I used my cookie scoop which I believe is 1 1/2 teaspoon size. The other issue I have with the recipe is the total time it took to make the cookies...35 minutes...maybe if have a machine that will coat all the cookies at once in chocolate. I think it took me about 1 hour to maybe 1 1/2 hours to make this recipe from start to finish.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Peach Glazed Chicken

Last night for dinner I made another quick 5 ingredient recipe for dinner. I felt it took a little longer to make this recipe then the Deep Dish Pizza Casserole but not by much.

Peach Glazed Chicken
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 lb chicken tenders
1/2 cup peach preserves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Add oil to pan and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken and saute 5 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Reduce heat to low; add preserves and remaining 3 ingredients to pan. Cook stirring constantly until preserves melt and onion is tender. Spoon preserves over chicken and serve.

Review: Everyone liked this dinner...even the little one. I would defiantly make this recipe again because of how easy it was to make it and how good it tasted. The vinegar adds a tang to it and doesn't make it too sweet from the peach preserves. I might even try it again with orange marmalade instead of the peach preserves.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Fast and Easy Dinner

I am always looking for fast and easy dinner recipes to make during the week. With my husband's job I never know when he will be home from work. I don't mind making things ahead of time so Jacob and I could eat dinner but sometimes I like to make it "fresh" for Mike.

I was hanging out with my neighbor Kathy and she has a book with recipes that are 5 ingredients in 20 minutes or less (not sure of what the exact title of the book is). I found 2 recipes that caught my eye in the short time I looked at the book. The below recipe is one of them which I made Monday night for dinner.

Deep Dish Pizza Casserole

1lb ground beef
1 can (10oz) refrigerator pizza crust
1 can (15oz) of chunky tomato sauce
6 slices (1 oz) mozzarella
Toppings (optional)

Cook meat over medium high heat until brown. Drain if necessary and return to skillet. Add sauce and cook until heated.

While meat cooks, coat a 13x9x2 dish with cooking spray. Unroll crust and press into bottom of pan and halfway up sides of dish.

Line crust with 3 slices of cheese and top with meat sauce. Bake at 425 for 12 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 5 minutes. Let cook for 5 minutes and serve.

Review: This is the perfect recipe for me during the week. It is fast and really doesn't' that that much time to prep or cook. I couldn't find the chunky sauce in the can that the recipe called for but you can really use your favorite sauce. I also had an 8 oz package of cheese in the house already and just used the amount I thought was enough. Mike likes a lot of sauce and we both love our cheese. I would definitely make this recipe again for a quick weekday meal. I thought of making a Mexican version with using the taco season while cooking the meat....add a little salsa to the meat...and then using either cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Mega Clusters

Michelle and I have been talking about these chocolate creations we got when we visited the Jelly Belly Factory last year. Since we've been talking about that for the past few weeks and trying to figure out what was in them. I decided to try to make them. Not sure if they came out the same, but they look really good and were really easy to make. The version I made is one of my favorite flavor combos, peanut butter and chocolate. So I called them Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Mega Clusters.

Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Mega Clusters

1 lb milk chocolate
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 1/2 cup Rice Krispies
1 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Melt chocolate and peanut butter together in the microwave. Mix well. Add rice krispies, marshmallows and chocolate chips to chocolate mixture. Line cupcake pan with paper cups. Using an ice cream scooper, scoop chocolate mixture into cups. Cool in refrigerator until firm. Enjoy. Makes 12 mega clusters.

Review: OH MY I'm in love.... soooooo good. I would definitely make them again. To make them for more of an individual serving size I would make them mini muffin size. Also I'm thinking of making a caramel version and maybe even a mint version. Yum!!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Running for a Good Cause

I wouldn't normally post something like this on our blog but it is for a really good cause and if my sister-in-law is going to run a marathon for it...then it must be very important. Below is the email she wrote to all of us:

Hello friends and family,
Sorry for the mass email to those of you I haven't spoken to in forever. Hope you are all doing well this weekend and feeling in a generous spirit since I'm about to hit you up for money once again. This time it is a double cause. First off, I'm actually signed up, officially registered and semi-officially training to run the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2008. For those of you who are thinking "What? How did she possibly qualify for the Boston Marathon the 'world's oldest marathon' and some may say the most prestigious?"

I didn't. That leads me to the second cause. I am doing this strictly to raise money for Casa Myrna Vazquez, where I have been a full-time advocate in the Adolescent Transitional Living Program for over two years. I have pledged to raise over $3,500 and am appealing to all of you that love and support me so, so much to help me in this journey. This money will go directly towards improving services provided to women and children staying in Casa Myrna shelters or utilizing community based legal, mental health or emergency hotline services. If you would like success stories, just ask; I have many accounts of how Casa Myrna has improved the lives of women and children in need.

Show your support in two ways:
1) Visit my personal high-tech fundraising page at to donate or donate directly to (click "online donations and payments" in the upper right-hand corner and type "Sara Stolfi Marathon" in the comments box while making a donation). Either way is quick and easy; firstgiving takes out a service charge, but you can leave me a personal message which is nice.

2) Spread the word on my crazy quest to run the Boston Marathon for Casa Myrna Vazquez to anyone and everyone who would be willing to donate.

Thank you for your time and hopefully your monetary support. Your donations are motivation for me to actually keep up with my training schedule. Take care.


Friday, November 2, 2007

Congratulations to Jenn's Family

Congratulations to Jenn's family on the arrival of their newest member. Her sister-in-law and brother welcomed to the world a baby girl. All the best wishes and happy memories to the new family.


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