Friday, February 29, 2008

Daring Baker's Challenge - French Bread

I have always wanted to learn how to make bread for a while now. One of my favorite places to buy bread is at The Rockland Bakery where you can get bread hot out of the oven. It brings me back to one of my favorite childhood memories...going with my Mom to buy rolls that were fresh out of the oven and eating a couple on the drive home (which was only about a 5 minute drive). Also it was super hard to be any where near the bakery during Passover when you can not have bread but crave it because that is all you smell in the air.

So I was super excited when I saw that this month's challenge was French Bread. This was just the thing I needed to push me towards my goal of baking my own bread. I sort of had a feeling it would be something along those lines because this month's hostesses are Breadchick Mary (The Sour Dough) & Sara (I Like to Cook).

After the initial excitement of the thought of actually making my own French Bread I got a little nervous for a couple of reason. One the recipe was the longest Daring Baker Challenge recipe I have ever seen in my life as a DBer and two it wasn't any French bread recipe it was a Julia Child French Bread recipe. I got a little worried but I didn't let that stop me from trying because after all that is why I joined this group. So I can challenge myself in baking that I would not do on my own.

I don't have a well working printer at home and I didn't think Mike would print out a 13+ page recipe for me at work. I decided to take out a copy of the cookbook from the library but then I found out my mother-in-law owned a copy of the cookbook which was even better. Part of me wanted to see if the recipe was really as long as it was posted...yes it is really that long. I am glad I got the book and I am glad that I had the hostesses version to look at because both had great tips. Where the book at illustrations of parts of the recipe and the hostesses version had great tips to go along with it.

The recipe is way too long to post but here is a link to Breadchick Mary's website:
Julia Child's French Bread Recipe

Review: I really really enjoyed making this recipe and I plan on doing it again and again. I am going to start with the bad because there is only one thing that is bad about this recipe. It is very time consuming and you really need all day for it. That being said most of the time the bread was doing the work and not you so I really shouldn't complain about that part of it. So the next time I make this I am going to try and retard the dough by letting it do the first rise in the refrigerator overnight to see if that cuts down on the time for me.

I took a fellow DB advise and read this recipe a lot before I started so I totally understand each step of the way. I felt this wasn't really one of those recipes where you can just wing it and get by with doing that. I got up a little early to start the bread since the first rise needed at least 3 hours to triple in size (mine took about 4.25 hours). My house is on the cold side these days and I needed a little help in having a place that is at least 70 degrees for the dough to rise. I actually used 2 of the tips to achieve this...I turned the oven onto the lowest setting for 5 minutes and then turned it off. By the time I put my dough inside it was a perfect keep the temp around 70 I kept the oven light one which was the other tip.

Everything else went really well but then came the part to shape the dough...which I really need practise on but I managed as best as I could. I decided to make 3 batards instead of experimenting with other shapes. The instructions where very detailed on this part and I thought that would be my best option. Next time I make this I am going to try and make one big round bread.

I was in a little rush to go over to my in-laws house for dinner the night I was making the bread and I let it have the final rise for about 2 hours but I really couldn't I put it in the oven. Ok that wasn't my only mistake but for some odd reason I had an oven temperature of 400 stuck in my head. Even after reading the recipe a million times before and while I was making the bread...400 was still stuck in my head. Luckily for me I realized this after 10 minutes and turned up the temperature for the rest of the baking time.

I am really glad that I had to go some where right after I took the bread out of the oven because as a lot of fellow DBers have said the hardest part of this recipe is the part where you have to wait at least 2 hours before you should cut into the bread.

Once we got home from visiting my in-laws Mike and I ate an entire batard at midnight before we went to bed. OH MY GOD IT WAS HEAVEN!!! The first thing I thought was holy cow did I just make this...and the second thing I thought of was that I needed to go out and get some Brie cheese for this bread. Mike said that this was by far the best bread that I have ever made. The only thing he thought was that the bread was too salty but I liked that about this bread.

So once again Thank You Breadchick Mary (The Sour Dough) & Sara (I Like to Cook) for picking this recipe and for getting me started on baking my own bread.

February Recipe Summary

The month of February's category was chocolate or something red.

Jenn's Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup or Red Velvet Cake
Heidi's Chocolate Truffle Cake

I did make something for this month but I didn't really like the way it tasted or looked so I didn't post about it. I also made this month Chocolate Chip cookies but I used the recipe on the back of the bag so I don't feel like I can use it as this months requirement.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

When Bananas go bad...but end up Good!

My son is really starting talk now and it is really cute with some of the words he says. One word that I love is his word for banana...he just says Nana. So when we got to the supermarket for our weekly trip and he points and says Nana...I have to buy a bunch. The only thing is that we aren't really big banana eaters. He will eat one or two but after that he is done for the week. So I always end up having a few left over that just start to go but this time I remembered in time to make some banana bread!

A couple of months ago my husband was going to have a bake sale at work that he volunteered me to make my pumpkin bread recipe. So I went out and bought what I can only discribe as a mini loaf pan. I also went out and found extra large cupcake paper to line the pan with so I didn't have to worry about them sticking to the pan. Then Mike told me that I didn't have to bake because someone else already signed up for pumpkin bread and he didn't know what else to sign up for. So I have been waiting for the chance to bake something in my pan.

I usually make a Honey Banana bread recipe but the last time I made it I wasn't too happy with the taste. So this time I made the recipe Heidi gave me which is her husband's grandmother's recipe. I really only made half a recipe because I only had 3 bananas and the full recipe calls for 6 bananas. I also put sparkeling sugar on half the loaves and kept half plain.

I haven't tasted them yet but I remember them being really super yummy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lasagna Rolls

Here is one of the meals I've made for Kevin since he's been getting busier at work. This is just a twist on his favorite meal. Thanks to Heidi for giving me the idea of rolling the lasagna noodles instead of laying them flat. I had one roll when I was over Kevins and it was very good. I'd do it again, and maybe next time add something more too it, like spinach or something.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Dutch Windmill Cookies

I was at Mrs. Pennings on Sunday and she made me some tea ( coffee for her and Kevin ) and she served us these Dutch Windmill Cookies. They are awesome!! They taste like a gingerbread cookie. I tried to read the box, but it was in Dutch =). Kevin said he grew up on these cookies and they were one of his favorites. They were perfect for dipping in a nice hot cup of tea. I'd love to find a recipe for cookies like these. I'll have to do some serching and see what I can find. If anyone out there has one and wouldnt mind passing it along, I'd be grateful. I've had other really good Dutch treats over of these days I'll ask Mrs. Pennings how to make some of them. I know Kevin loves them, and he's not a hugh sweets fan. I've noticed the Dutch treats arent too sweet.

Shrimp and Cabbage Lo Mein

For this past weeks Friday night Lent meal a recipe from the current EveryDay Food magazine caught my eye. Well actually 2 recipes caught my eye and I had planned to make both but it didn't end up happening.

Every month the magazine has a section in it called In Season and for March the vegetable/fruit that is in season is Green Cabbage. They have a recipe for homemade sauerkraut (which I am going to try the next time we have hot dogs for dinner), cabbage and fennel slaw, and sweet and sour cabbage wedges. However, the one that really got my attention was the Shrimp and Cabbage Lo Mien. The picture looked super yummy and it was a perfect dish to try out for our Friday night no meat meal.

Shrimp and Cabbage Lo Mein
Everyday Food - A Martha Stewart Magazine
Serves 4

8 ounces linguine
coarse salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), halved, cored, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, for serving (optional)

1) Cook linguine in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, return to pot, and set aside. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, sugar, and red pepper flakes; set mixture aside.

2) While pasta is cooking, heat oil in large skillet over medium. Add shrimp and half the garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until shrimp are opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate (reserve skillet).

3) Place cabbage, remaining garlic, and 1/2 cup water in skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp-tender, 6 to 7 minutes. To pot with linguine, add cabbage, soy-sauce mixture, and shrimp; toss to combine. Serve, garnished with cilantro, if desired.

Review: Mike and I both liked the taste of this recipe and thought it was good. The other comment Mike made was he liked this dinner because it was light and not heavy...something perfect for the summer. Recently I have become a really big fan of cilantro and in this dish it really does add that little extra something to the recipe. The one pet peeve I have about this recipe is the time it says for prep (which I didn't put on the recipe above). I guess it estimates that it would take you 20 minutes to prep this recipe...I think i might have taken me 20 minutes just to prep the ginger alone. The next time I make this recipe I will buy a smaller cabbage or just use half instead of the amount I used or maybe I just needed to slice it thinner then I did. Overall this recipe has a nice flavor and is something I would make again.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Disney Vacation

This past week, Mike and I went to Disney World for his brothers wedding, he got married on Tuesday at the Grand Floridian. Since Mike has never been to Disney World and the last time I went was about 16 years ago, we decided to make a vacation out of it. We arrived on Friday and did not stop moving until we came home on Thursday. For the most part a lot has stayed the same, but there as been some additions and improvements.

We stayed at one of the Disney Resorts, Port Orleans Riverside. It was a really nice place to stay and Disney makes it very painless to get around if you don't have a car. We took advantage of their Disney Express package, which is that they pick you and your bags up from the airport and bring you to your resort. Your bags arrive about 3-4 hours after you do, but that wasn't a big deal for us since we arrived at the hotel around 11:00am. Our room wasn't ready since check-in isn't until 3pm. So we walked around the resort a little and had lunch. They had given us a number to call to check to see when our room became available. The guy that helped us said to check after an hour or so, because a lot of the time they are ready earlier. So we called around 12:00pm and it was actually ready. We then dropped off our jackets and carry on bags and was off to the Magic Kingdom. The nice thing was when we got back to our room later that night our bags were in there waiting for us.

While at Disney I saw some thing that I knew I had to post about. The first thing I saw rice krispy treats in the shape of Mickey heads. I was like I so can make those. They had two kinds. Huge and normal size. The normal size ones had sticks in them to make them rice krispy pops...or should I say Mickey Pops! I bought a Mickey Head cookie cutter so I can try to make them.

Another thing I had to show you is the breakfast Mike had the next morning at our resort . He had Banana Stuffed French Toast....oh my...they were soooooo good. Need I say any more.

Now two things I had to show you from the wedding...the cake and the dessert. Both were really tasty.

Wedding Cake was white cake with chocolate filling and the dessert was white chocolate mousse in a white chocolate slipper and chocolate mousse in a chocolate cup. The red sauce was raspberry. Yum!!

Another cool thing about the wedding was that they had Mickey and Minnie there. Of course we had to get our picture with them.

Mike and I both had a great time, and was bummed when we had to go from 75 degree weather to 20 degree weather and snow. Oh well that's life I guess! Till next time!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Need My Coffee!!!

Oh my...who would think finding a new coffee pot would be so hard! Last Friday Jacob decided to grab the carafe and dropped it on the floor. We have a Braun coffee maker that you can't find in any store and can only replace the carafe from an online retailer. Which means we would have to wait at least a week before we get it...I need my coffee I can't wait a week for it.

So Friday and Saturday night we spent a lot of time looking for a replacement because this is going to keep happening to us. One time Mike just grabbed the carafe to wash it and it cracked. I think we are on our 5th replacement so it is time to replace the whole we thought.

There is nothing out there that we both liked and believe me we saw everything. I was so sick of looking that I was even thinking of just switching to tea...don't worry I came to my senses really quick on that one. Thankfully my in-laws had a spare carafe to our coffee maker which they are letting us borrow.

We decided to order coffee from an online retailer that gives away one of their coffee pots for free. So for a quarter of what it would have cost us to buy a new system we are getting 2 different 1/2 lb packages of coffee, a free stainless steel coffee maker, a travel mug and a thermal carafe. I figure if this coffee maker doesn't work out maybe there will be something else on the market that we might like...if nothing else I get some coffee out of the deal.

While I am talking about drinking coffee here is a recipe I might try the next time I have people over for brunch.

Thai Coffee
2 tablespoons ground coffee beans
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

Place coffee and cardamom in the filter of your coffee machine. Place enough water to make 2 cups of coffee in the machine. Turn on the coffee machine.

Pour brewed coffee into 2 coffee cups, and stir 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk into each cup. Serve.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Tortilla and Black Bean Pie

I am happy to say that I made my first new non-pizza/pasta Lent meal and it was a success. I have a ton of cookbooks and decided that I would find a recipe from one of those to make first before I hunt for a recipe on the web. I am also excited to say I got it from my friend Martha Stewart's Everyday Food: Great Food Fast cookbook. One thing I loved about this cookbook is that every recipe has a picture of the dish. It is one of the things the made me want to make this dinner for tonight.
Serves 6
Prep: 25 minutes
Total: 1 hour
4 flour tortillas (10-inch)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large onion, diced
1 jalapeno chile, minced (remove seeds and ribs for less heat)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
12 ounces beer or 1 1/2 cups water
1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan, using the bottom of the pan as a guide. Set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeño, garlic, and cumin; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add beans and beer to skillet, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until liquid has almost evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in corn and scallions, and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Fit a trimmed tortilla (To trim a tortilla: Center the bottom of the springform pan on top of a tortilla. Trace around it with a paring knife. Remove excess.) in bottom of springform pan; layer with 1/4 of the beans and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat three times, using 1 cup cheese on top layer. Bake until hot and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Unmold pie; sprinkle with scallions. To serve, slice into wedges.
Notes: Serve this brightly colored, layered tortilla pie with salsa and sour cream on the side. You can assemble the pie ahead of time, then bake it just before serving.
My Review: I have to say at first I didn't think that this would be satisfying as a meal for Mike and I. So I had bought a couple of extra stuff in case it wasn't and we were still hungry after eating it. I was SO wrong because it was so filling. Even while I was putting the pie together I was still a little concerned about it being enough for us. I really liked the taste of the pie and wouldn't really change anything in the recipe. Mike said it needed more cheese but other then that he liked it very much. One of the best parts is that I put this together while Jacob was taking his nap and stuck it in the refrigerator. I never know when Mike is coming home from work and thought this would be the best thing to do. I put it in the oven for about 20 minutes...all the cheese was melted on top but it was still sort of cold in the middle. I was super hungry and couldn't wait any longer but the next time I think I would put it in the oven for 30 minutes.
Oh the only changes I made in the recipe was I used a quarter of the jalapeno just incase Jacob wanted to try some. He loves black beans, corn, cheese...really everything this pie has and I was afriad too much jalapeno would be bad for him. I also forgot to buy scallions so I used a red onion instead which I thought went well with this recipe. Next time I might add some cilantro on top if have some on hand. This might also make a great appetizer...maybe make it in a mini form or use muffin cups and do a couple of layers instead of four layers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Snickerdoodles for my Snickerdoodle

So every year I make something for Mike for Valentine's Day. I was going back and forth on what to make him. I finally settled on Snickerdoodles. Something that I have been wanting to make and since he's not a big fan of chocolate stuff I figured these cookies would be perfect.


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Cream together butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla. Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
  3. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

My Review: This was an easy recipe to make. I haven't given them to Mike yet, so I don't know if likes them . But I have already sampled two cookies. They are yummmy. I was also pleased that the recipe actually made about 40+ cookies. Definitely something to add the keeper pile.

Rain Rain Go Away...

Well today started out interesting when I went out to help Mike shovel the driveway. It was getting late and I knew he needed to get to work and was wondering what was taking him so long. I quickly found out that that bottom of our driveway was flooding. It happens when we get a lot of rain and usually not a big deal but since there was so much snow/ice on the edge of the driveway the water really had no where to go. We did as much as we could and just had to let it be because we really weren't getting any where.

I looked out the window an hour later to see that the water was getting a little too close to the house. So I put Jacob in his room and headed outside to see if I could do luck but the good thing was it was at the point where it wasn't getting any deeper.

I was feeling a little worried so I decided to take my mind off it with baking Chocolate Chip Cookies. Then I remembered that Mike gave up sweets for Lent and couldn't eat them. So I just baked a few and froze the uncooked dough for after Lent. I hope I forget about them because now it is too easy to have fresh baked cookies when ever I want them.

During the past holiday season I bought a bigger cookie scoop then the one I love. I got a plastic on from Wilton that was cheaper in price then the metal one I have. Well I am going to back to Bed Bath and Beyond and get the bigger metal cookie scoop. I found that it worked better then the plastic on and to me that is worth the money. The picture above is my test to see which size cookie I wanted to make...I went for the bigger one...which is nice a chewy. The smaller one came out flat.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mini Crackers

I went to the supermarket yesterday to do my weekly shopping. I am starting to get a little worried about the amount of money I spend each time I just seems to be more and more every trip. I decided that I was going to go to a different that is offering a free Holiday Turkey/Ham/or Kosher chicken with spending X amount of money between now and the end of least I will get something in return for my spending.

This time I actually had a list of stuff I needed because I am trying to do a meal plan each week...thinking that this will cut down on impulse buying. Which it did and didn’t because I found these Mini Premium Crackers from Nabisco…totally addicting to me and my son who between the 2 of us have eaten ½ box in one day. At my usual supermarket I usually don’t even go down the cracker isle but since this is a “new” supermarket for me I must go down every isle. As I have mentioned in the past I just really enjoy going to supermarkets…I know I am weird but it just feels like home.
Well this trip I spent more then I would normally and totally forget to get one of the main ingredients for Friday night's dinner...oops. Also Jacob had a little outburst because I didn't have any quarters for the ride machine car that is parked right outside the exit door. Whoever decided to put those ride on machines near the entrance and exits is smart (because the kids see them) and should be shot (because the kids see them). I thought maybe just sitting in the car would satisfy him...nope not one bit. It was really cold yesterday so after 5 minutes of not being happy just sitting in the car I headed to my car to go home which he then cried for about 10 minutes after we left.

I really need to start my meal planning and better shopping habits. Does anyone subscribe to one of those meal plan websites that emails you a weekly meal plan with shopping list and recipes? I just don't know if it is worth the money to do one of those.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Baked Rigatoni Cake

So I was in search for a meatless recipe for our Lent observing friends. What came to mind was a pasta "pie". A friend of my had made a spaghetti pie once that was really good, but of course the one recipe I found that I wanted to try had meat. Sorry! It's called Bake Rigatoni Cake.

Bake Rigatoni Cake
  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground meat , (beef, pork, or turkey)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • Butter, for pan
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Add pasta; cook until slightly underdone. Drain, rinse in cold water, and drain.Toss pasta with 1 tablespoon oil to coat. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Cook 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes; simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.
  3. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.Toss pasta with Parmesan cheese. Tightly pack pasta into pan, standing each piece on end.
4. Spread 2 cups meat sauce on top of pasta, pushing it into holes. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella on top. Bake until cheese is pale golden, 10 to 15 minutes more. Remove from oven, and let stand 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge to loosen; unmold. Cut into wedges. Serve with remaining sauce.

My Review: This was really easy to make and was really good. Mike and I had it with a nice a bottle of wine. Definitely something good to make for a family gathering. The sauce makes enough for two cakes. I only made one so I froze the remaining sauce for another time. I told Mike that I was going to make this for him when he goes hunting because it's something you can make ahead of time and then reheat. The only thing that I did differently was I didn't use the tablespoon of oil to cook the meat, oh and I drained the meat after cooking it. Enjoy!

Friday, February 8, 2008

February's Recipe - Chocolate Truffle Cake

February is our (Michelle and I) mom's birthday. She's turning the big 6-0. So in celebration of the big birthday we planned a surprise brunch in her honor. All was going according to plan, until we found out that she had planned a vacation leaving the day before her party. So to make a long story short we ended up having to tell her about it and she switched her plans to the week before. Since we didn't have a cake for her at the brunch, we decided to make her a cake. Michelle has a library of cookbooks and shown her a dessert book she has called Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts.... I guess you can say the passion for chocolate runs in the family, because Mom picked a Chocolate Truffle Cake.

Chocolate Truffle Cake

2 8oz packages unsweetened-chocolate squares (16 1 oz squares)
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons margarine or butter (2 ¾ sticks), at room temperature
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
¾ cup heavy or whipping cream
10 1oz squares semi-sweet chocolate

1) Grease three 9-inch round cake pans. Preheat oven to 325f
2) In heavy 4-quart saucepan over low heat, heat 12 squares unsweetened chocolate, 1 cup margarine or butter (2 sticks), and 2 ½ cups water, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat; cool slightly.
3) In large bowl, with wire whisk or fork, beat eggs and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in warm chocolate mixture.
4) To chocolate mixture, add flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; continue beating with wire whisk or fork until batter is smooth and well blended.
5) Pour batter into cake pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool cakes completely on wire racks.
6) Meanwhile, prepare truffle mixture: In heavy 2-quart saucepan over low heat, heat remaining 4 squares unsweetened chocolate, stirring frequently, until melted; cool slightly. With spoon, stir in confectioners’ sugar, remaining 6 tablespoons margarine/butter (3/4 stick) and ¼ cup heavy or whipping cream until mixture is smooth and blended.
7) Prepare glaze: In heavy 2-quart saucepan over low heat, heat 8 squares semisweet chocolate and remaining ½ cup heavy/whipping cream, stirring frequently until melted, smooth, and slightly thickened; keep warm.
8) Assemble and glaze cake (1/2 cup of the truffle mixture between each layer)

Ok so the cake didn't turn out the way it's shown in the book, but it really tasted yummy. The ganache was suppose to cover the entire cake, but I made the mistake of not leveling the layers before assembling the cake (I know all the cake makers are like that's cake 101, well I've learned my lesson). Because of that little mistake the top layer kind of cracked and I was afraid to spread the ganache in fear of the cake would fall apart. So, I just piped the extra filling in between the layers. It actually didn't turn out that bad. Then I realized that this was a birthday cake so I took some melted chocolate and wrote happy birthday on the top. My Mom was very happy and everyone enjoyed the cake. I am definatley making this cake again, but might make it in two layers instead of three.

Easy Shepards Pie

I got this recipe from Kraft foods and wow, it was very easy. Kevin ( my boyfriend ) is starting to get really busy at work, and I've decided to make him a different meal each week that he can re heat when he gets home at night. I know how tired he is after a really long day at work and I thought this would help him have nice dinners at night. This shepards pie was delicious. Here is the recipe:

Prep Time:10 min
Total Time:30 min
Makes:Makes 6 servings.

1 lb. ground beef
2 cups hot mashed potatoes
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, cubed
1 cup KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 cup beef gravy

PREHEAT oven to 375ºF. Brown meat in large skillet. Meanwhile, mix potatoes, cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese and the garlic until well blended.

DRAIN meat. Return to skillet; stir in vegetables and gravy. Spoon into 9-inch square baking dish; cover with potato mixture and remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese.

BAKE 20 min. or until heated through.
I left out some of the ingredients ( just didnt think they were nesseccary ), like the Cream Cheese. I also used garlic mashed potato's so I left out the garlic cloves.
I would make this again in a heart beat.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year!

Every Chinese New Year Mike and I love to eat Chinese food either homemade or from a restaurant. When Mike was going to MIT he would frequently buy lunch from one of the trucks that would park on Main Street. How can you not want to buy yummy food at a really good price...I think it was like $3 or $4 for a container of food. Every once in a while I would meet him for lunch and that is where I first got the inspiration to try and make my own Caramelized Pork.

So of course I first searched all my many cookbooks for a recipe and I actually found one that was fast and easy. It is from the Betty Crocker's Cookbook which I bought for Mike when he once mentioned he wanted to learn to cook but didn't know where to start. That desire to learn to cook didn't last long but I got a great cookbook out it.

Caramelized Pork Slices
1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 tablespoon molasses or maple-flavored syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1. Spray 10-inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat.

2. Cook pork and garlic in skillet 6 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally, until pork is light brown and no longer pink in center. Drain if necessary.

3. Stir in remaining ingredients; cook until mixture thickens and coats pork.

My review: This is a really easy recipe to make if you don't know what to do about dinner. I have made it with pork and with using chicken. I always like to add whatever vegetables I can find in my frig to make it more of a stir-fry type dinner. Tonight I added broccoli, a red pepper and couple of onions. I also always double the amount for the sauce because my husband loves a lot of sauce with his food.

It's Time to Give Something Up....

It is that time of year again when the Lent season is here and people give some things up. I usually don't do this (since I am Jewish) but my husband (who is Catholic) does give stuff up. His usually things to give up are sweets and soda but this year I decided to give up soda with him. We used to not really drink it at all but over the past few months we have had more then in the past.

This also creates the problem now what do I do for Valentine's Day...and I can't make the fish bisquits that Kath made to watch Lost. Oh well no big deal I will just make something extra special for Easter this year (I can't wait to see what the Daring Bakers Challenge will be that month).

The other part of Lent which I am taking as a challenge is the no meat on Fridays. Sometimes we will make pizza or pasta but I want to get creative with it this year. Do some Indian dishes and find some yummy vegetarian dishes to make. So if anyone has a good recipe out there please let me know!

Here are some recipes from our blog that might help you out for your no meat Friday meals:
Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup (make it with veggie broth instead of chicken)
Tilapia with Garlic Butter
Hoisin Lime Salmon
Hearty Bean and Barley Soup

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

So I recently joined America's Test Kitchen's Recipe Testing "club." The first recipe came this week and it happened to be a soup recipe, so thought this was perfect for another submission for January!

This "club" is great, because it gives you the opportunity to test recipes, but with no obligation - if you don't have time this week, you don't do it. If you have time, but can't give them a response within a week, then you do it a week later. It's perfect for me, cuz I don't know if I will have the time, but I love to cook, so it's fun for me.

Now I will say that Tomato Soup is definitely not my favorite soup and I'm not really sure that I've ever really had a cup or bowl before, but I remember my Gram having it way back in the day with some Saltines (I'll have to verify whether that is true or some made-up memory! haha), but I definitely know she likes it (she just had a cup of it this afternoon when she stopped over with Mom & Dad to see the 4 trees we took down =).

I don't know if the recipe will change from the testing recipe, but here it is:

Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

Serves 6 to 8

The goal of this recipe was to create a velvety smooth and creamy tomato soup using only ingredients found in the pantry.

If half of the soup fills your blender by more than two-thirds then process the soup in three bathes. A hand blender can be used in place of a regular blender to blend soup directly in pot. Serve this soup with grilled cheese sandwiches or topped with croutons (recipe follows). Crushed tomatoes can be used in place of the whole tomatoes.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 small onion, chopped medium (about 3/4 cup)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
2 large slices good quality white sandwich bread, crusts removed, slices torn into 1-inch pieces
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Table salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives


1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes, if using; cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add bay leaf and tomatoes. Using spoon, press tomatoes against side of pot to release their juices. Stir in sugar and bread. Cook, stirring constantly, until bread is completely saturated and is starting to break down, about 5 minutes.

2. Transfer half of soup to blender and blend until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup. Rinse out Dutch oven and return soup to pot. Stir in chicken broth; bring soup to boil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup in individual bowls, sprinkling each portion with black pepper and chopped chives, and drizzling with olive oil.

There is also a recipe for Croutons, but I didn't make them, so the recipe is not included here (let me know if you are interested).

Review: I may actually be more of a fan of Tomato Soup than I thought! I really liked this, because I felt it was more healthy than opening a can of Cream of Tomato from Campbells. It was a nice and tasty soup for a cold winter day and I think the longer it cooked, the better it tasted. Here are some tips if you make the above, as I had a few comments to the ingredients and cooking style:
- Put in the onion with the olive oil and cook on medium, once the onion is near translucent, add the garlic and red pepper flakes in for 30 seconds. (The above directions caused me to burn the garlic. Soup still came out ok, but burned garlic is not usually a good thing.) Oh, I added an extra 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder to make up for some of the burned garlic I removed.
- I didn't have white bread (we eat whole wheat in my house), but I did have a frozen hoagie roll, so I trimmed off the crust and cut it up. It worked fine!
- Not sure if this is any other kind, but use whole PEELED tomatoes. Also, be careful when squeezing the tomato against the side of the dutch oven, as they may squirt!
- The recipe doesn't tell you what to do with the bay leaf before the soup goes in the blender, I removed it.
- Another suggestion is after the blender portion of the recipe, stick the soup in the crockpot.
- The chives are not necessary, but add a nice touch.

Friday, February 1, 2008

GO G-MEN!!!!

I know its a little early, but with Kevin coming home tomorrow I didnt think I'd have time to make this tomorrow or Sunday morning. What better way to root for my NY Giants ( go g-men!! ), then with a cool cake with the Giants logo on it..LOL.

"Lost" Fish Biscuits =)

There is a very funny story to these cookies. Anyone who knows me, knows my brother Eric. Anyone who knows my brother Eric knows he's totally obsessed with the show Lost on ABC. As a joke he asked me to make these Fish biscuits ( fish biscuits are the treats Sawyer got when he was locked in the cage by the 'others ). I jokingly told Eric, if he found me a recipe for 'fish biscuits' I'd try to make them for him to eat while watching the Lost premier last night. It shouldnt have suprised me that he found a website that had a recipe for these wonderful treats. I pretended like I didnt get his email with the recipe, but I had printed it out and Weds night after seeing you girls at Jenns grandfathers wake, I got home at about 9pm and started making my 'fish biscuit' dough ( the recipe said to keep it refridgerated for at least 4 hours ). Thursday I rushed home after work and quickly began prepairing these cute treats. I was in a bit of a hurry, so they didnt come out as good as I'd hope. Not that they didnt taste good, they did, but if I'd had more time I could have made them look a little nicer. The pictures above are of the finished product. My wonderful Fish Biscuits!!! LOL. My brother was hysterical when I walked into his house with these, as I think you can tell from the picture of him above :).
I would highly recommend trying these cookies, they were pretty easy and quite tasty. The recipe I used is as follows:
Citrus sugar cookie dough
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature ( I used margaine )
1 1/4 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 1/4 grated tangerine peel or orange peel
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg
Once the dough is made, keep it refridgerated at least 4 hours. It has to be chilled to roll out the right way. The cookies should be about 1/2 an inch thick before baking. Look at this womens site below...she tell you alot if you really want to make these.
Here is the website I got all this from:
She's got an awsome site, you can print out templates of the fish and she has the recipe there too. Check it out, its pretty cool.
Enjoy your fish biscuits everyone!!!


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