Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Cherry-Berry Pie

Hope all you American readers of my blog had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Are you all feeling the effects of two-plus days of eating and eating?  I actually did okay not eating too much dinner, but that was more so I had enough room and “available” calories left for the four desserts I made for seven people!  Besides making the traditional pumpkin pie, I also made a chocolate ganache tart, a chocolate bundt cake and the thing I was most excited about, this Thanksgiving Cherry-Berry Pie that Anna at Cookie Madness made.  I was excited to make a pie from “scratch” because I have always made or eaten cherry pie made from canned cherry pie filling.  But Anna’s pie seemed simple enough and looked great.  (Check hers out after you finish reading my post.  Hers looks much better than mine.  You see, my camera is not working correctly right now, so I’ve been forced to take pictures with a different camera that just don’t look good no matter what I do.)


This pie has canned tart cherries (which I never even knew were available) and uses frozen (thawed) raspberries.  After making the filling with some of the juice from the cherries and the thawed raspberries, a little cornstarch and some sugar, the cherries and berries are stirred in and put in a prepared pie crust.  I used a basic pastry dough recipe that I have come to love given to us at the classes I’ve been taking by Chef Paige.  Anna made her pie with a great looking lattice top.  I kind of stink at doing lattice top crusts, so I just went with my “signature” full crust top with a little cut out of some cherries.   When I make apple pie, I do a little cut out of an apple, etc.

I think this pie is delicious!  I may never make a cherry pie again with canned cherry pie filling.  Kevin is still kind of on the fence about which he likes better, but he may never get to taste the canned stuff again, so hehehee.  If you like cherry pie, try this one of Anna’s.  I followed her recipe exactly.  After thawing the raspberries, I did not have enough juice for 1/2 cup, so I just rinsed the berries a little so the liquid went into a bowl until I had half a cup of juice .  Worked great!  Normally, apple pie is the holiday pie I can’t stay away from, that’s why I purposely didn’t make an apple pie.  Now it’s this cherry-berry pie!  Gee, thanks, Anna. ;)



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

TWD—Bust! But Wait…Don’t Go. Rewind. Rewind. Rewind.

At least hear my poor, poor kitchen sob story, won’t you?

First of all, with the crazy month it has been and the graciousness of our fearless leader to allow us to mix up the chosen recipes for the month, I saved the Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake until the end, actually knowing full well that I probably wasn’t going to make it.  Sorry, Katya of Second Dinner.  It looks divine, decadent and well, really just too fattening.  I couldn’t do it.  And, well, last year I bought and tasted chestnuts for the first time.  They were fresh from our local Christmas farmer’s market.  I roasted them exactly as instructed and I actually didn’t like them. at. all.  So between that and hearing others mention how expensive it all was, I decided to forgo the cake.  Katya’s looks great and her description of it all, especially chestnuts, makes me want to give them another try sometime.  You can get the recipe for the cake on her blog. 

Now don’t laugh.  I know I mentioned that the cake was too fattening and well I don’t want to know about any fat, carbs or calories in anything, because well, I decided to pick a TWD Rewind recipe that was made before I joined the group and in my looking over all the recipes, I. couldn’t. decide.  Sigh.  So I ended up trying three different recipes and not really loving any of the three.  First, I thought I’d just make one of the cookies I’d missed.  Simple enough. 

So I made the Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops.  I wanted to use some malt I have that needs to get used.  I’ve actually made these before with my little twist of using the Reese’s Peanut Butter Whoppers.  And they were good.  I made them last September just before I joined TWD.  But when I made them this last week, I didn’t have any Whoppers, so I just substituted a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips and one cup of milk chocolate chips. 

And then, I don’t know what my problem is, but I didn’t take any pictures of them and I gave them all away.  But for some reason, these were kind of dry and not nearly as good as when I made them last year with the Reese’s Whoppers.  And is it just me, or is there NO oven temperature in Dorie’s book for these cookies?  Page 85.  Am I blind?  Anyway, I baked them at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (the recipes suggests 11 to 13 minutes.)  I think they would have been much better at only about 8 minutes.  Just because I think we need a little photo interlude here, here’s a picture of the cookies I made last year.


So not being satisfied with those (although they were eaten up and praised as really good, I beg to differ), I decided to make something else to post this week.  Looking over the list of missed recipes once again, I decided to make the Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread Cookies, which were the first recipe chosen for Tuesday’s With Dorie almost two years ago.  With my “lust” for shortbread cookies as of late (see my last post!), I wanted to try these cookies with a little twist of brown sugar. 


Dorie’s recipes suggests putting the dough in a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag and rolling it out to the size of the bag.  I just felt a little lazy and didn’t want to do that.  So I rolled the dough into a square-shaped log and chilled it.  Then I just sliced the cookies from the very uneven square-shaped log.  I poked each cookie with a fork and baked them.  They spread more than it looks like the cookies in Dorie’s book did.  And I think I overbaked them slightly, even though I only baked them for 17 minutes and the recipe suggests 18-20 minutes.  They were more brown than I wanted and turned quite crisp.  I only baked half a recipe of these and I actually stuck them in the freezer, because even though they weren’t perfect, they are still shortbread and I would have still kept munching on them.

They weren’t frozen until I drizzled a few with some chocolate.  Had to.  I mean, I went three consecutive TWD weeks with no chocolate.  Can you blame me?  It just seemed like the right thing to do.  And they were good.  And they need to be frozen away.  I missed the tenderness of true shortbread by their being overbaked though.  (Did you see my last post?  THOSE are some shortbread!)


Oh, you’d think I’d stop there, but NO.  I just don’t know when to quit while I’m ahead.  So Monday afternoon I decided to make something MORE chocolaty.  Let’s just say, I bombed.

I one and a halved the recipe and should have just left well enough alone.  While I did all my math correctly, I then really stupidly still only put all the batter in the amount of ramekins called for in the single recipe.  Ugh!  So there I had four ramekins with 4.25 oz. of batter (too much!) and I made 7 cakes in my mini muffin pan.  I meticulously weighed all the batter, then stupidly divided as if I was making 6 servings, when since I did the full recipe plus a half, I should have divided it by 9!  Sigh.  I really hate it when that happens.  I followed the directions and baked the ramekin-cakes for 13 minutes.  No more.  I still hadn’t thought about the fact that these had too much batter in them.  And when I took them out, I knew they were not done.  I had not realized my mistake of putting too much batter in each one at this point when I could have solved the problem by just baking them longer.  But I didn’t.  I took them out of the oven.  Cooled them three minutes and removed them from the ramekins.  And I watched the lava really flow. 

This was all happening as I was also making a dinner that I was not happy with and I was not having a good time in the kitchen.  Couple that with loud, bickering children and a two year old who didn’t take a nap and it was just not a good day.  In hindsight, I should have just stayed out of the kitchen.  We live and learn, right.  I was quickly reminded that I stink at math or at least remembering to do math all the way to the final answer correctly.

After baking dinner in the oven for about an hour, that is when it dawned on me that I had too much batter in each ramekin.  So what did I do?  I scooped each “cake” back into the ramekins and decided to bake them longer/more/again.  So with the first thirteen minutes, I baked them another thirteen minutes and called it good, or bad, but done.  As in, I was done.  Besides, dinner was ready.

Then to top it all off, my nice camera is not working properly, super bright flashes of light right on the subjects being photographed.  What does that mean?  Here I tried to photograph my darn-tootin’ cute lil’ two year old completely peeling his own Cutie Clementine.  He was so proud of himself.  I love those Cutie Clementines!  But what’s up with the camera?  Anyone?  This one isn’t too bad.


This one, bad.  He has no nose.


Here’s the Gooey (Way underdone) Chocolate Cake.


It looks like a toilet seat with well, I won’t say it.  Sorry.  What is wrong with the camera?

Just made me even more annoyed.  And when Kevin can’t figure out an issue like that with something electronic, that’s not good.  So I took a few pictures of the  cakes with his little, tiny digital.  The above photo is before I decided to bake them a second time.  Here’s the final product.  Still cruddy photography, that’s because it was already dark outside.  I’m done. 


Here’s a mini one baked for only six minutes, they were pretty good, but these cakes were, I can’t believe I’m going to say it….wait for it….too chocolaty. ??  I just need a simple brownie or a couple M&M’s and I’m good.  Scott ate the big one in the photo AND the little one and declared he was full!  Whew.


And when it’s dark outside and you have really bad lighting and you stink at photography, lessen learned, don’t put your food subject on a white plate.


That’s it, goodnight.  I’m done.  Deep breath.  See ya’ll later. (No, I did not make these all in one day, it was over the course of a week.  Whew.)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Toffee Pecan Shortbread Cookies Recipe

These. cookies. are. delicious.  End of Story.  You must have these Toffee Pecan Shortbread Cookies on your holiday trays, or just make them because you need something yummy to eat!  You know the classic Snowball Cookies, aka—Mexican Wedding Cookies and Russian Teacake Cookies?  That’s pretty much these but kicked up a notch with toffee pieces.  Delicious!  I have also made these with just toffee pieces and mini chocolate chips.  Also de-lish.  But I forgot to photograph them and I gave them all away.  Well, okay, I tasted one, too.  ;)

I found the recipe/idea for these cookies at Susan’s Farmgirl Fare.  I never realized Susan is just a hop, skip and a jump from me here, but I’ve been enjoying her photographic blog for a while now and she always has yummy food and recipes to share.  Susan adapted this recipe for somewhere else, you can check out her link and see her shortbread cookies, too. 

After making some just like hers, with the toffee and mini chocolate chips (and forgetting to photograph them), I decided to try them with toffee and pecans. 


Hi, there, very yummy cookies!


I must tell you, these were very good with the mini chocolate chips, but I made some for my mom, who doesn’t eat chocolate and shipped them to her.  And I meant to take half the dough with the toffee and pecans and add some chocolate chips, but alas, I forgot to do that.  So I decided to dip some of the cookies in melted chocolate.  They looked great and tasted even better! 


I dipped a bunch of them half way in the melted chocolate (I used some of the Scharffen Berger chocolate they gave us at the Food BlogHer Conference in San Francisco in September—hello—amazing chocolate!)  When I started running out of enough chocolate to keep dipping them, I drizzled a few with the remaining melted chocolate.  Now I love a darn good chocolate chip cookie, you all know that, but these just might be right up there as one of my favorite cookies.  And they are quite dangerous to have around!  I love giving these away, saves me from having to do two hours on the treadmill every day instead of just one.  Sigh.

You want the recipe?  Okay, okay.  Calm down.  Here it is.

Toffee Pecan Shortbread Cookies, adapted by Katrina Smith

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped and every so slightly toasted

3/4 cup English toffee bits, such as Heath

1 oz. good quality chocolate, melted (optional) or add mini chocolate chips to the dough

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and powdered sugar together until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla, then add the flour and salt just until combined.  Stir in the pecans, toffee (and chocolate chips, if adding). 

Form into small balls (1/2 oz. each) and place on baking sheet.  (They don’t spread too much, so you can do at least 20 per sheet.)  I flattened them slightly with a flat glass lightly coated with powdered sugar, but you don’t have to do that.

Bake until the edges are just starting to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.  (I baked mine 13:30 minutes.)  Cool on wire rack.  Melt chocolate in microwave safe glass dish in 15-20 second intervals, stirring in between each time, until smooth.  Dip half of cooled cookies in chocolate.  Set on waxed paper lined plate.  Cool until chocolate is hardened. (I got 43 half ounce cookies.)


You know you want some of these!  Oh and a very famous chef, Paige Vandegrift, (hehe) told me she likes to grind the pecans with the flour in a food processor to give them an even finer texture making them even more light and more tender and I can’t wait to try that sometime!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Random Things and Some Blogger Linky Love


Happy Upcoming Thanksgiving  (The Turkey was made by Taylor.)

By the way, it snowed last Monday, but didn’t stick.  Many have expressed their jealousy.  It’s was kind of a rainy, snowy, blah kind of day, but it did snow some big, pretty flakes for a little while.  But it didn’t stick.

Sadness, folks.  I collected stuffed animals all my life.  I always thought it would be fun to save them and hand them down to my children.  Except I always had in mind that I’d have a girl or two who would really appreciate them.  Instead, as I’ve tried to display them in our downstairs family room, they have been used more as footballs or just as a place to stash toys that “couldn’t” be put away in their proper places.  I loved it when I’d go straighten them out into a little family all gathered together.  I guess I’m still a kid/girl at heart.

One of my favorite stuffed toys of my youth were SMURFS!  I loved them then and still think they are pretty cute and cool and well, smurfy.  Get this, in 7th grade, which would have been in about 1982, I wrote a short story for English class and my story was picked to go on to regional competition (for what, I don’t know or remember), anyway, the story I wrote was an episode of Smurfs.  I still have the story.  I’d have to dig through some stuff in the storage room, or I’d go find it and post it on here.  It was a good story line and if you have ever seen The Smurfs cartoon, you’d agree it would have been a great episode.  It was a play on The Boy Who Cried Wolf story, but the Smurfs all went camping and Jokey Smurf kept making everyone think a bear was out to get his tent then when one really did, do you think they believe him?  Anyway, it was a great story.  Why am I telling you all this? 

Well, we’ve recently had some rodent issues at our house.  Four BIG rats were caught up in the attic.  Kevin and I kept hearing quite the noises in the attic of our room at night.  Our pest control guy (a friend of ours) came down out of our attic (only accessible from the ceiling in the garage), and he was quite shocked at having seen and caught the biggest rats he’s ever seen.  (Yay for us. jk)  He even put two big T-rex traps up there, when we didn’t even know what was making all the noise and the next day when he checked, he found one (the big daddy) rat trapped (“sorry, rat, but not-in-my-house”, she says waving finger in a big N-O!—think like a sista here).  Anyway, he’d put two big traps up there.  Caught the one rat and get this, the other trap—is gone.  Missing.  Can’t find it.  No where to be found in the attic.  Still to this day after trapping three more rats.  That trap is gone.  Dah, dum, duhhhhh!

In the meantime, we think we’ve gotten all the rats, then low and behold a little mouse went scampering by in my living room late one night.  What did he think he was doing in my house?  I don’t think so.

LONG story short, we caught five mice, two upstairs and three downstairs.  We think we’ve gotten them all.  In our looking and finding the best spots for mouse traps, we found quite a lot of mouse droppings downstairs.  We had no idea they’d been having parties in our house while we slept.  They definitely weren’t too pooped to party!  Ahhaha

Kevin found dropping all around my stuffed animal kingdom!  Those mice were not invited to their party.  In between the sectional couch downstairs—droppings.  In the game closet—on the shelves!!!   Do I need to tell you the rest of this sad, sad story?  I decided to throw away my beloved stuffed animals!  Let me know when you’re done crying, wiping tears and sniffling……….

Done, okay.  So I reluctantly bagged up all my lifelong buddies in three big garbage bags and I put them out on the curb for the trash collectors who were coming that morning.  Then I went on my morning jog.  And do you think I could enjoy that jog?  Oh no.  I thought about my poor animals the whole time.  Most of all, I kept picturing Papa and Scruffy Smurf.  (You don’t remember Scruffy Smurf?  Well, I had him.)  You’ll see.  He was scruffy and floppy.  I switched between calling him Floppy Smurf and Scruffy Smurf.

I hurried my jog and cut it a little short because I felt like I need to pay one last respect to the friends who were there for me through the years.  I took some photos.


It just wasn’t right, I know.  I still feel a little verclempt when I see these photos and think about where my poor babies are.  Just a sec, I need a minute……….


I took that first photo for my mom.  She’d be proud to see that I got rid of them.  She tried to get me to do that while she was here de-junking last month.  I couldn’t do it.  I knew in my mind and heart that it needed to be done.  They were just taking up space and although I wouldn’t admit it, were kind of an eyesore.  (If the boys would have just left them neatly arranged!  Sigh.)  You really shouldn’t give stuffed animals to Good Will, especially when they are as old as mine were.  They are full of dust and germs.  Sigh.  I believe I got my Smurfs when I was about 10 years old.  Do you realize that means they were 30 years old!  (No, I never had Smurfette, she always kind of bugged me.) 

Are you as sick as I am writing this just reading about it?  Deep breath.  Then I did this for a photo op.


Look at them.  Just look how sweet and innocent.  And look at that cute, fluffy pig up there.  My sister always tried to tell me that was a bear.  Hello, Pig!  Bye, Pig.  Sigh.

And then I stuffed my Smurf-y Smurf Smurfin’ pals back in the trash bag and said goodbye.  The end.

Ha!  Not.  I couldn’t do it okay.  I couldn’t let the two dadgum Smurfs go.  Mind you, I did throw a couple other Smurfs away.  But these two guys,  they are still here, made there way back into the house..  In fact, move over Kevin.  They now sleep in the bed.


Ready for dinner.


A bath.  Boy did they need a bath!


Okay, really.  Do you think I’m that crazy?  I’m not.  I assure you, they haven’t taken baths (they refuse, little stinkers), no dinner for them and No, they do not sleep in our bed!

BUT, I did keep them.  Just the two.  I’m still really sad when I think about the rest of the gang and where they are right now.  Let’s just pray they are safe in stuffed animal heaven! ;)  Moving on.


I’d like to start posting some blogging linky-love often as I do often find recipes of others that I make at home and love.  I’d like to do it about once a month.  Kevin thinks I should call it Kat’s Copycats.  We’ll see, right now I’m just going to call it Blogger Linky-Love.  Oh, there’s so many things and I’d hate to leave any out.  But for starters.  Donna, Donna, Donna.  A mom to four and a busy, busy, oh so busy firefighter’s wife to her firefighter husband.  I heart her blog, My Tasty Treasures.  She puts some darn good food on there.  My most favorite Banana Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Coffee Cake was found over at Donna’s blog.  This time I made some good ol’ Oatmeal Cookies I found on her blog.  I made them for my chocolate class that I did recently.  What?  There’s no chocolate in them?  You’re right. I thought it would only be appropriate and nice of me to have something there that didn’t have chocolate, you know, for those who couldn’t or didn’t want chocolate.  I know, SO nice of me. ;)  You can get the recipe on the link.


I made them again today.  But I doubled the recipe, added two teaspoons of cinnamon to the doubled recipe and about 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg.  And I added one cup of raisins.  I baked them in a 15x18 inch baking sheet.  Baked it for 20 minutes and look how big-a-cookie it made!  It’s 15x18 inches, in case you couldn’t figure it out.  I’m just good with math that way.


I now have a bunch of square cookies and I simply didn’t have to keep scooping individual round cookies.  I know, I’m always thinkin’ ahead.


These are a great go-to, basically perfect oatmeal cookie, if you’re lookin’ for one.  Thanks, Donna.


Then, way back in October, like a good month ago, ;), I made these really good, easy lemon cookies that I found over at Michelle’s blog, Brown Eyed Baker.  They looked good and I was feeling like not making something with chocolate at the time.  I know, shocker!  These were perfect, a little cakey, but slightly chewy and perfectly lemony.  I gave lots of these away.  I followed the recipe exactly as written.  (Another shocker.)  Michelle got the recipe from another awesome  blog, My Baking Addiction.



You might recall that for TWD we recently made Sugar Topped Molasses Spice Cookies.  The cookies were delicious.  But years ago someone gave us a plate of holiday cookies with the best ginger cookies I’ve ever had on it.  What I really need to do is contact that acquaintance and try to get her to give the recipe.  It seems like I’d asked her back then and she told me it was top secret.  I might be making that part up, but it seems like something like that.  Anyway, in my quest for that cookie, I saw these Ginger Spice Cookies over at Eat me, delicious. and thought they looked like the ones I remembered loving so much.


I made them a few days ago.  They are really good.  Mine spread more than they did over at Eat me, delicious.  (Okay, I feel silly, but I don’t know her name.  Maybe she doesn’t want her name known.  Maybe I should just ask her what her name is.  She’s got a great blog and over the last two years, I’ve made quite a number of her recipes.)  Her cookies look like the ones I loved so long ago.  Mine were great cookies, but the texture is still not there.  I’m going to make them again.  She got the recipe from Bon Appetit, March 2000.  You can get the recipe on the link.   The only change I made was I cut the cloves from one teaspoon to a half.  (I don’t like too much clove flavor!)  I baked them for 9 minutes.  (The recipe says 12.)  I’m a rebel I tell ya.


And finally, since you know I’d rather have dessert first, I’ll end with a wonderful meal I made last night that I found the recipe for at Lisa Ann’s great blog, LA's In The Kitchen.  It was delicious!  Turkey meatloaf (I made them in muffin tins, she shaped them on a baking sheet.)  I used ground turkey breast.  These were really, really good.  Even Scott liked them.  I was going to say a couple of kids, but I think it was just Scott, but that’s because the others are just darn annoyingly picky.  For the roasted veggies, I did some potatoes, sweet potatoes (my favorite!) and some carrots. Go see Lisa’s.  I really stink at pictures of real food.  Give me a cookie, a slice of cake or a sundae and I think I take okay pictures.  But real food.  Not so much.  A lot of it has to do with when dinner is hot and ready, it needs to get served.  There isn’t time for photos.  Here’s my lame pictures anyway.


The recipe comes from the book, Cook Yourself Thin.


And finally, I saw this great looking couscous salad over at Kevin’s amazingly photographed, delicious blog, Closet Cooking.  I’m almost embarrassed to show you my picture.  The only thing I didn’t have when I just saw this on his blog yesterday and decided to make it because I pretty much had everything was pomegranate molasses.  So for the vinaigrette, in place of the pomegranate molasses, I just used some POM juice.  I loved this salad.  Thanks, Kevin. 


Pomegranate and Pistachio Couscous

Such good food, thanks blogging buddies!  There’s more love comin’ soon!  Now, go hug your teddy bear!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

TWD—Cran-Apple Crisp


“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!  November 16, 2009, it was rainy and snowing all day today.    I always think the first snowfall is fun to see.

Tuesday’s With Dorie time again.  I’ve kind of been liking that November is the month we get to pick and choose from our four chosen recipes in whatever order we’d like.  Today’s recipe was GREAT!  I chose to do the Cran-Apple Crisp, chosen by Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef.  This crisp was simple and oh-so-tasty.  Just because I felt like it, I omitted the coconut and added some extra oats in place of that.  I also omitted the giner, but added about 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg.  I also added about 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.  I love nuts in crisps.

Get this—surprise, surprise—I followed the fruit filling in the recipes exactly.  Whaaaat?  I know, I can’t believe it either.  I used the dried cranberries and loved the addition of the fresh cranberries with the apples.  I might have cut the apples a little smaller than 1/2 inch chunks, but I really liked them that way, because I do not like any crunch to my apples in an apple crisp and this ensured they were soft.  I baked 6 1/2 cup ramekins and some in an 8x6 inch Pyrex dish.  This is the only picture I took of the larger crisp.  Oops.  It didn’t even have the crisp on it.  Oh well.



I actually baked about 1/3 of the crisp recipe on a baking sheet.  Why?  You’ll see in a minute. 


But after doing that, I realized there wasn’t enough crisp left for the 8x6 inch pan.  So I quickly whipped up another 1/2 batch of the crisp so every dish could have some.  Crisps for me are almost more about the crisp than the fruit underneath!  LOVED the crisp.  It had a perfect amount of crunch and the flavor was great.  I baked the 6 ramekins for 25 minutes and the 8x6 inch dish for 35 minutes.


You didn’t think I’d serve it without ice cream, did you?  Looks like vanilla, huh.  Nope.  It’s not.


Oh and see that extra crisp on top?  That’s what I’m talking about.  Not enough on top there?  How about this?


“Hurry, I’m melting….”


So, not vanilla, huh.  I made Apple Cider Ice Cream.  Quite simple, really.  I followed the same recipe I make for vanilla, which is David Lebovitz’ Philly Style Vanilla Ice Cream but I added a reduction of apple cider to it after it churned.  Let’s see if I can write this up the way I made it (I’ve simplified DL’s recipe a bit.)

Apple Cider Ice Cream, by Katrina Smith

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup 2% milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

2 cups apple cider , reduced to 1/3 cup

In a heavy saucepan on the stove, simmer the apple cider over medium heat until it has reduced to about 1/3 cup syrup.  It took about 15 minutes, I think.

In another heavy saucepan, warm one cup cream with the sugar and pinch of salt.  Heat to scalding until sugars are dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour the remaining cup of cream and the cup of milk into a separate medium sized bowl.  Add the hot cream mixture and whisk together.  Add the vanilla.  Make an ice bath in a large bowl filled mostly with ice.  Set the bowl of cream in the ice bath and pour a little water over the ice, being careful not to get any water in the bowl of ice cream mixture.  This is my favorite, fast way to chill the mixture.  Let it sit in the ice bath, stirring every 5 minutes or so.  About 20-30 minutes later, it is pretty chilled and then I don’t have to wait for it to chill in the fridge for hours!  Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  When the ice cream is just about ready, Pour in the apple cider reduction and let it mix in thoroughly.  Remove the ice cream from the ice cream maker and store in a container in the freezer for at least 2 hours.  Serve with Dorie’s Cran-Apple Crisp (or however you’d like!)  Be sure to have extra crisp to top it with!

*During the last few seconds of its churning, I believe I sprinkled in a few more shakes of cinnamon and a couple grates of fresh nutmeg, to taste. 

DSCF5265 DSCF5266

The cider went from this-----------------------to this.

Can you believe it, Folks—I have now done three week’s of TWD with NO chocolate!  Whatever shall we do about this?

Don’t worry, I’ve completely made up for it on other days—check out my previous post to see some of all the chocolate overload!  And check out all the other posts for this week by scrolling through the list of bloggers on the TWD site.  Thanks, Em, LOVE the crisp.  You can get the recipe on her blog or buy Dorie’s Book!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Chocolate Class and Birthday Surprises and I Like Big Bundts—Banana Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Bundt Cake

Saturday was a busy, full day.  I was asked by some ladies at church to do a one hour class for an all day craft day about whatever cooking/baking I choose.  We do this every year and the cooking class is always my favorite thing to participate in--until I was asked to actually DO the class.   (People know I bake a lot and most know about my blog, so because of this, they assume I have knowledge to share.  I fool a lot people. ;)  I have prepped for this class for weeks and after hummin' and hawin' about what to do, I had narrowed it down to a subject definitely near and dear to me---CHOCOLATE!  I decided to share a bunch of my favorite recipes that have chocolate.  I made samples of each thing so there was a tasting table available throughout the class.  I wanted to do some simple things that are my go-to recipes as well as some things I just think are really yummy that have chocolate.  I showed the class how to make a few things, like a simple cake, my favorite brownies, some fun fudge and a couple other things.



I would tell you all the things I made and presented as I have links and recipes for each thing, but it would take too long right now.  So I will in another post.  As stressful as doing something like this class was for me, it was fun to do all the baking and prep for it and I made sure everyone took most of it home!  I’m glad it’s over!  On to the birthday! ;)


When I got home from the class around 3 o'clock, Kevin surprised me by telling me he'd made an appointment for me to get a massage and that while I was gone to that, he and the boys would be making me dinner.  I have not had very many massages in my life, but this was  the big one hour long kind and it felt great.  (Thanks, Hon!!!)  While I was gone, Kevin and the boys made pork chops, mashed sweet potatoes, asparagus, fruit salad and a 2-layer chocolate cake!  You'll never guess who picked to help with the cake?  Taylor!  Now I've always said here that no one really likes cake at our house.  But for a big birthday celebration, Taylor wanted to make me a cake.  And do you know what, everyone ate cake.  And let this go on record, Kevin ate two pieces!

Look at this cake!  GREAT job Taylor and Kevin!


I let Scott take a few pictures.


Let's eat cake!


I'm glad I had helpers for those four candles on the cake (one candle for each decade old I am.  Gasp.)

I wanted to document that everyone ate cake.  And it was good, even if it was a boxed cake mix and canned frosting!  Maybe that's the trick to get them to eat cake!




Sam was having a fit because he wanted his cake cut into bite size pieces.


Taylor being Taylor.


Got him.



Look how much cake we ate!


And to think that was all just for the day BEFORE my birthday.  My birthday just so happens to be on National Bundt Cake Day.

So, of course I HAD to make a bundt today!  I really wanted to show my support to the amazing Mary at The Food Librarian, because I certainly didn’t need more cake! ;)  You must check out Mary’s 30 Days of I Like Big Bundts.  I cannot lie, I like them, too! ;)  So my bundt today has, um, chocolate—check,  banana—check, nuts—check and cinnamon.  You see, I fell in love with this amazing Banana Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Coffee Cake a few months ago that I originally found over at Donna’s blog, My Tasty Treasures.  So I decided to make my bundt cake from this recipe.


I love this bundt cake!  It turned out moist inside with just the right amount of slight crispness on the outside you get from a bundt.  I kicked it up a notch by drizzling on a simple powdered sugar vanilla glaze and sprinkling on some cacao nibs I bought in San Francisco at the Scharfen Berger store when I was there in September for the Food BlogHer conference.  Love the crunch!  Inside this bundt is a nice ripple layer of the cinnamon/chocolate chip/walnut/brown sugar streusel that is also used with the coffee cake.  Mmmm!


You see that deliciousness?


After having a small piece of this and a little sliver of the chocolate cake to celebrate my birthday tonight, I was stuffed.  I don’t often stuff myself until I’m full anymore, but this took it over the top for me.  Hey, you only have birthdays once a year, right!  ‘Sides, this is a big birthday for me so I needed to celebrate with a big bundt! ;)  Mary, what a great thing you’ve done for the food world posting all these bundts we’ll always have to look at and go to for some great recipes!  And thanks so much for the shout out about my birthday.  I had no idea you did that and could not for the life of me figure out how so many people knew it was my birthday today!  You little sneak! ;)  (Thanks.)

For the bundt, I used the coffee cake recipe I’ve linked above on a previous post of mine, but I used coconut oil for the butter, whole wheat pastry flour instead of all purpose flour and I halved the streusel since it wasn’t going to be used as topping, just in the middle. 

Banana Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Bundt Cake, by Katrina Smith, adapted from Bon Appetit 2003 Banana Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

6 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1 to 1  1/2  teaspoons ground cinnamon (to taste)

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour (all purpose would be fine)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup coconut oil (unsalted butter or canola oil would be fine)

1 large egg

1 1/3 cups mashed very ripe bananas  (I used 5 small very ripe bananas)

3 tablespoons buttermilk

Powdered sugar glaze--

1  1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons cacao nibs (or mini chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan (or an 8x8 inch baking pan). In medium bowl, stir chocolate chips, brown sugar, walnuts and cinnamon together. Set aside. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In bowl of electric mixer, beat oil/butter, sugar and egg until fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add mashed bananas and buttermilk and mix until well combined. Stir in dry ingredients to combine, but don’t overmix.

Spread half the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the streusel mixture. Repeat with remaining batter.  Bake cake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.  Remove bundt cake to cool completely on wire rack.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients until lump free and smooth.  Put glaze in a plastic zip top bag, snip a little corner off the bag and drizzle over cake.  Sprinkle with cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips.  Serve.


Also for my birthday dinner, I made Texas Style Beef Brisket that I saw on Megan’s awesome blog, My Baking Adventures.  The boys don’t really like BBQ sauce (Kevin loves it!), so I used the juice from roasting the brisket and made a sauce with it that I poured over the beef.  We also had baked potatoes and salad. 

And I got some nice gifts from Kevin and the boys for my big day. 


A couple of cookbooks on my “wish list”—can’t wait to look through Ree’s new book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks as well as David Lebovitz’ Great Book of Chocolate and the Lion House Bakery book!  I’ve also not had a hand mixer for years and decided it would be nice to have one.  As well as a mortar and pestle and some little tart pans.  Thanks, Kevin!!!  One thing that is my favorite part of having a birthday, was watching Parker and Taylor flitter around drawing me pictures and wrapping them up to give me for my birthday.  THESE are really the gifts that are so special to me!  Thanks, Guys!  I love you.





Do I look 40?  Sigh.  I actually don’t feel 40 and really can’t believe I am.  So we’ll just keep saying 39, right.


Thanks, Everyone, for all the birthday wishes, too!