Monday, June 30, 2008

June's Recipe - Strawberry

This month was our strawberry month and below are the recipes that were made:

Jenn - Strawberry Cream Pie
Michelle -
Strawberry Bread

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Danish Braid

I know that I am super late on posting this challenge on the blog. I had an insane week getting ready for our trip down to Delaware to visit family. Also my son got into an accident and we had to rush him to the doctors...he is 110% better now. I had all these plans to make the dough and bake the braid during the week but that all had to change.

I was really excited when I heard of the challenge was going to be making our own danish down and then braiding it. Something that I have been wanting to do for a while now but just was never up for the challenge. I was even happier when blueberries when on sale and I knew what I wanted to fill the danish with.

I don't know what happened I thought everything was going well and then it just all failed. I made the dough put it in the frig for it's rest. I prepared the butter for the butter block and started to spread it on the dough (which at first I thought was going to be a challenge). I folded it put it in the frig again...and then when i went to roll it out thin...the butter when every where. I knew this had happened to other so I didn't panic and folded it again and repeated it the process. To make a long story short the butter just keep coming out...I think it was just to hot in my kitchen and the butter never set into the dough. I also ran out of time and had to put it in the freezer...

So my post is To Be Continued but I am also going to attempt making the dough again when the weather is cooler and my kitchen isn't so hot. I am trying to save a little and not put the AC so fast...but in the name of good danish dough I might just have to do it.

Today is the deadline for the Daring Baker's challenge of a Danish Braid. I was really busy this month with parties to attend and other family functions. I had plan to bake the danish this week but because of little situation I could not do it. I made the dough and froze it which I will hopefully bake next weekend. I will keep you posted...

Please visit the other Daring Bakers blog's to see some awesome successful completed challenge.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Homemade Onion Rolls!!

I have been wanting to make more bread recently but didn't know what to make. It might be because the weather has been so nice and to me perfect bread baking temperatures. Or just the fact that I bought 10lb bag of King Arthur Flour at BJs. Then saw the post on Bakers' Banter on 6/20 about onion rolls.

Tomorrow we have a little thing for Jacob because it is the last day of gym and they do a show. The grandparents are all coming to see him run around like a mad man. So I figured these rolls would be perfect to serve with some cold cuts or a burger. I thought about it early enough that I was able to time it that when I needed to put them into to oven Jacob was taking his nap.

Here is a picture of them rising after I cut them into the rolls.

Half I left plain & the other half has the artisan seed mix on them.

Here is a close up of a bun with seeds.

Please visit the Baker's Banter blog for an even better step by step instructions on how to make these. I actually posted a comment on the blog about a question I had making them and they responded to it so fast.

Review: These rolls were so easy to make and oh my they smelled so good from the start. Since I am saving them for tomorrow I haven't tried one yet but once I do I will update my post. To be honest just from how easy they were to make I would do it again right now...even with 8 hot fresh rolls sitting on my counter.

Update: I had a piece of one last night and it was just like I imagined....super yummy! Why ever buy onions rolls from the store again!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

BBQ - Wedding Cake and Cupcakes

When the planning started for the BBQ I had volunteered to make a cake. Mike's mom wanted the cake to look like a wedding cake. She then called a few weeks later and said she was going to combine it with her husband (and his twin brother's) birthday. So she than asked me to make a second cake. I said sure and then volunteered to make more desserts. Only a week went by before I was having my "what was I thinking" moment. I mean I've never really decorated a cake before, let a lone one that's suppose to be a wedding cake. But I search and read a bunch of frosting recipes to prepare myself. I'm also glad I decided to practice once before actually doing it for real. The practice round didn't come out that great so I found a different recipe to try. I also read a How to Guide from King Arthur Flour on cake decorating. I think the tip that helped the most was to leave the butter out for 2 hours to soften. The end result were great and I received a lot of compliments.

The Wedding Cake

Top Layer
- Yellow cake with green buttercream
Bottom layer - Checker Board (chocolate and vanilla cake) with green buttercream in between layers (left over from the cupcakes, see below)

Since the wedding was in Disney I decided to decorate the cake in a Mickey Mouse Theme. I don't know if you can tell, but on the bottom layer there are Mickey heads all around it.

Sorry no pictures of the inside, it went quickly

I'm happy with the way the cake turned out, but I wish I could have gotten the frosting a little smoother.

Birthday Cupcakes

Cupcakes - Devil Food Cake
Golf Balls - White chocolate made from a mold

Now for the finishing touches

You might be asking yourself why a golf theme. The birthday boys are big golfers so what better then a solid chocolate golf ball.

The Candy Tower

Top - Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Middle - Rainbow Cookies (Store bought)
Bottom - On the left Chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookies and on the right chocolate covered mini Oreos.

My very pleased with the way everything turned out. There was so much food at the party that I wasn't sure if people would eat the desserts, but who doesn't have room for cake! By the end of the night there was not one dessert left.

Oh, wait!! I just realized I didn't tell you about another dessert I made. I had made key lime tarts, too. I forgot to take a picture of those. But the recipe made 24 mini tarts and by the end of the night only about 10 were left. That's it!! Wa-hoo!!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pound Cake

For the bottom layer of the wedding cake I was making for the BBQ I decide to make a 9 inch size checkerboard cake from scratch. But since I felt like I wasn't going to be able to make everything from scratch I decided to make the top layer from a box mix. Since it was only a 6 inch layer I had all this extra batter left over. What to do, what to do?!? I have been looking a cake recipes with peanut butter and came across one for Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pound Cake. The reason for my search is because Peanut Butter Boy is having another contest. This time for Cup(cake).

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pound Cake

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
1 cup milk
3/4 cup peanut butter
3 eggs
2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and lightly flour a 12-cup bundt pan or fluted tube pan; set aside.
  2. In large bowl, with electric mixer at low speed, beat cake mix, milk, 1/2 cup Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter and eggs until blended, about 1 minute. Beat at medium speed 2 minutes, scraping sides occasionally. Stir in 1 cup chocolate. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. On wire rack, cool 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, for icing, in medium microwave-safe bowl, microwave remaining 1 cup chocolate with 1/4 cup Peanut Butter at HIGH 1 minute or until chocolate is melted; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake and sprinkle, if desired, with chopped peanuts.
My Review: I love simple recipes. I didn't follow this recipe to the T, because I was making the top layer, so instead followed the recipe on the box. But my insperation came from this recipe. All I did was just add some peanut butter and chocolate chips to the left over batter and Wa-la. I brought it to work and everyone loved it. Next time I'll follow the recipe above and might even try it with chocolate cake mix instead. Enjoy!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Seasoning my new Stone

Almost a month ago Jenn had a Pampered Chef party at her house. Of course I couldn't resist buying a few things...who could. Last night I decided to start to season my new stoneware I bought. I got the large bar pan because I have been wanting a new pizza stone for a while but after doing some research on it I realized that I really have the biggest one I could get that is round. So I decided that I would get a rectangle one instead.

The other reason I decided to make pizza last night was because of Jacob. He recently saw an episode of Backyardigans that involves making pizza. I am not kidding when I say he wakes up in the morning saying pizza...meaning he wants to watch that show. He will say it over and over and over again until he watches it.

I made my usual pizza dough but substituted half the flour with whole wheat flour to make it a little healthier (I also just realized that I am very low on AP flour and need to buy more). I have been doing this the last few times and I think I like it better then just using all AP flour. Also since I was using my large bar pan I made one big pizza instead of the 2 smaller pies. Everything came out great but I got a giant bubble in one corner...the cheese started to slide off of it.

I think the next thing I season my pan with will be a puff pastry dough or a cookie that is buttery. Since the weather has been in the mid 70s here I don't mind using the oven because it doesn't make my house too hot.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Crock Pot Chicken

Yesterday I ran to the supermarket just for a quick trip to resupply some stuff. Since we have a ton of leftovers from our Father's Day bbq there wasn't a need for a lot. I always look at the meat department for the "Manager's Specials" is meat that is going to be very close (like a day away or on the day) from the sell by date. Usually when I buy meat if I don't use it that night I freeze it any way. I have gotten so many things dirt cheap this way and when prices are on the rise it is a good thing.

So yesterday's deal was a whole chicken for $2 plus change it was a deal I couldn't pass up. I already had a recipe in my head and I had everything else at home to make it...I just needed the chicken. I was talking to my neighbor last week who was telling me about a chicken she made in the crock pot that everyone in her family ate. Which isn't an easy task when you have 3 kids who all like something different.

Crock Pot GOOD Chicken
1 chicken whole or cut up into pieces
1 packet of Good Seasoning salad mix, Italian

Put chicken into crock pot and cover with the salad dressing mix. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Review: It was really good and my kind of recipe...dump the stuff into the crock pot and forget about it. I actually added about a cup of water at the beginning but you don't need it at all because the chicken produced a lot of liquid. So next time I am going to try it without the water. I think I read a recipe that used 1/2 of white wine which might be another thing to try. Mike really liked the chicken he said it was even better the the chicken you make in the oven. You didn't really taste the seasonings that much but it smelled great!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

I knew this weekend was going to be a busy one with a birthday party to attend way down in NJ and then the next day have bbq at my house for father's day. I decided I needed to make a dessert that was easy, good and something I can prepare ahead of time.

I made the ice cream sandwich cake that Kath made last year around this time from the Kraft food magazine (please visit her post of the recipe). It was in fact very easy to make and everyone LOVED it.

I decided to use the Neapolitan ice cream sandwiches just to give it a little extra something. The picture I took isn't the best but it will have to do. Since everyone ate it and I don't have anything left...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Garden

When we moved into our house last year it had a little veggie garden. Our next door neighbor was kind enough to give us a bunch of tomato plants which gave us very yummy tomatoes. This year we made the garden at least twice it's size and with the help of my neighbors across the street...the Santolfi (a combo of our last names) Garden was born.

One rainy day a couple of months ago we all got together and planted the seeds in little pots. I think about two weeks ago we put them into our garden. We have planted in the garden cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, watermelon, and corn. We also have planted in little pots herbs and some lettuce.

Our old garden

Mike working on the new garden

The new garden complete with plants

The other side of the garden (our tomato plants)

I found a zucchini blossom yesterday!!

I am very excited about having fresh vegetables this summer and have started to think of all different recipes I could make with the products of our labor...stay tuned because of course I will keep you all updated!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Frozen like a Polar Bear would like...

Mike talked to his mom last night and the were having a sort of funny conversation. A little background on the story first. When I first started to date Mike they had a dog named Howie who was the funniest "little" dog I have ever known (he passed away a few years ago). The way to his heart was food and he loved his food. Every time we came home he would take me over to the cabinet where his treats were stored. ..ok everything time I came over he would take ME to the cabinet. I loved giving him treats which he knew and used that to his advantage. There are so many funny stories about Howie I could tell but I will end there for now.
They currently have a dog named Randy (see picture below)...who is starting to bring my mother-in-law to the same cabinet for treats. I said to Mike that I think Howie is possessing Randy or at least his ghost is giving Randy some pointers. She said that he won't stop eating and wants to eat all the time. He will really eat anything you put in front of him which we have sort of tested a little big. He was eat all kinds of vegetables and fruits. When we lived there last year you had it made with all the food Jacob would drop on the floor.
I was telling Mike last night that his mom is going to have to start freezing stuff inside a block of ice so it will take him some time to get his treats. Like they do at zoos when it is really hot for the polar bears and other animals. I once saw a product out there where you could do this for your dog but I forgot where and I can't seem to find it again.
In my search for a frozen treat for a polar bear I came across this recipe which I might have to try out.

Nesquik Polar Bears
Estimated Times:Preparation - 5 min Yields - 2

1 cup fat free milk
1/2 cup ice cubes
1/4 cup NESTLÉ NESQUIK Chocolate or Strawberry Powder
1/4 cup Chocolate or Vanilla Fat Free Frozen Yogurt
2 tablespoons instant (aerosol) whipped cream

Directions:PLACE milk, ice, Nesquik and frozen yogurt in blender; cover. Blend until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses; top with whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Getting Ready for the BBQ

Ok, panic time is just around the corner. The BBQ is June 21st just 12 days away. Since I'm making most of the desserts I decided to start making the things I can make ahead of time. I'm making a candy platter and cupcakes with a golf theme. Besides the Key Lime Tarts and the "wedding cake".

So far I've made the golf balls for the cupcakes
and an assortment of candy
Chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate dipped chocolate chip cookies. Tonight I'm making chocolate covered mini oreos. Yum!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Michelle's June Recipe - Strawberry Bread

OK I have a confession to make...I am a big dork but an organized one. I have a folder in my favorite link page called "Recipes I want to try". I was saving a lot of links for recipes and my folder was getting so big I decided I need to organize them. Also this way when I was in the mood to try something new it was a really easy step to find something. Once I make a recipe from the folder if I like it I move it to another folder (labeled Food) or delete it if it turned out bad or not what I expected.

So this one was already in my RIWT folder for a while now and it was just right for this month's challenge. I wanted to bake on Wednesday because it was a cool day and not too hot in the house. I was happy when yesterday it was the same type of weather. After all in this area they are saying that Saturday to Wednesday it is going to be in the 90s...not baking weather for me at least.

I found this recipe on the blog called Joy of Baking. They actually have a whole page dedicated to strawberry recipes. There are a lot of other really good looking strawberry recipes on that page but this was the one that caught my eye a couple of month's ago...Strawberry Bread.

Please visit Joy of Baking's website for the recipe for their Strawberry Bread. Also visit it for a much better looking picture of the bread.

Review: Making the bread wasn't any harder then making any other type of fruit bread. The directions were easy to follow and the ingredients weren't hard to put together. I thought everything was going well and it smelled SOOOO good in the house from the bread baking. Until it came time to take it out of the oven. One hour went by and I put a toothpick into the middle of the bread...came out clean as a whistle and it felt firm to the touch. I turned it out onto a cooling rack and the very bottom looked raw. So I quickly put it back in the oven for about another 30 minutes probably because I kept checking it and it kept looking raw to me. Until I realized that all my strawberries sunk to the bottom of the bread and it was just the strawberries that were shiny and not the bread being raw. Overall the taste of the bread is wonderful. It reminded me of having popovers with strawberry jam at Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park (one of my absolute favorite places to be). I am not sure yet if I would make this again but if I do maybe I would make them into muffins instead.

There is another recipe on that website that I want to try which involves strawberries...Eton Mess...basically it is strawberries mixes with whipped cream and crushed up meringue cookies. This grosses Heidi out because she doesn't like whipped cream that much. I on the other hand love whipped cream and can eat it on it's own with some sprinkles (I used to do that as a kid when we ran out of ice cream to put under the whipped cream).

Update: USER ERROR big time I think...I don't think I put the right amount of flour into the bread. I am going to have to try this recipe again to make sure. The next time I have some strawberries in the house I am going to have to make this to make sure it was the flour thing and not something else.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Congratulations to Heidi!!

We are very proud of our Heidi who took 1st place in the 2nd annual PBE Contest. She won for her post on Peanut Butter Crunch French Toast.

Please visit The Peanut Butter Boy blog to see all the wonderful recipes that were submitted for the contest.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Don't Have A Cow...ok maybe a little one!

Yesterday I went and did our weekly food shopping trip..I think went well for a couple of reason.

My son didn't act out like he has in the past. I used to avoid putting him one of those car shaped carts because I thought I would never get him out of it (I only had a problem once with that and that was the least of my problems). It has gotten to the point that he gets upset if he can't go in one of those carts. My husband and I have searched parking lots for them because the fear of a screaming child the whole time is enough for us to do that. He also ask for them even at stores that don't have those carts.

The other thing that went well was that I got a treat for half the price it would normally be on a regular day. I know this isn't probably new or something to really post about but it was very tasty. The product I am talking about is Skinny Cow Ice Cream...I got the vanilla cone with caramel sauce. It is low in fat and really compared to a regular ice cream cone much lower in calories. It really was just the right size to give you the satisfaction of having a little treat and not really making you want to go back for more. After all I might be putting on a bathing suit this summer...


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