Friday, October 29, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies—Chocolate Pomegranate Clusters and Chocolate Pomegranate Clusters and Pistachios Cookies

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Sunset at our house, Thursday, October 28, 2010—gorgeous! (snow capped mountains)

12 Days

Here we are again with the weeks just slipping by.  It’ll be Christmas before we know it.  Never fear, I’m here to help, along with another 50 others or so (links at the end of this post) who are all sharing ideas with you for your holiday baking this year.  Every Friday we’re posting treats you, too, can make to share with those on your goodies list.

This is week five.  One of my favorite fruits is in season right now—pomegranates!  Sure, they might be a little work, getting all those ruby red arils out of  their skin, shell, what is the protective outer part of the pomegranate called?  Anyway, they are worth it to me.  We ended up with 13 POM’s this week and are loving having them.  After removing the arils from one pomegranate and having a good heaping cupful, and knowing we still have a lot left, I decided to try something. 

I melted some good dark chocolate, dumped in some pomegranate arils and stirred it to coat them all.  Then I spooned a good teaspoon sized mounds onto a wax paper lined baking sheet.  I stuck them in the fridge for a few minutes to let the chocolate harden.  I wasn’t sure what they would be like.  But I’m here to report I think they taste great.  I think the chocolate goes great with those little red, juicy jewels.  And I think just as is they would be fun to put some in a nice cellophane bag tied with a red ribbon to give away.

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Before the chocolate hardened, I set an aril on top of each one.

I froze some of them, I just wanted to see how pomegranates are frozen and then thawed.  They are really good frozen, kind of like eating frozen grapes.  And they were just as good thawed as they are fresh.  I’m going to have to freeze more of the arils.  I’m not sure we can eat through 13 of them fast enough.

After making the clusters, I had another idea.  I made another batch of the chocolate covered arils, but made them much smaller.  (And then I took some horrible pictures of them.)

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All this so I could make cookies with the chocolate covered pomegranate clusters.  I’d never baked arils in anything before either, so I wasn’t sure how this would work, but decided to try it anyway.

Cookie success.  Most of the arils didn’t pop open, they stayed in their ruby shape, full of juice.  Some of the chocolate covered ones did come out of the chocolate, but it was all there in the cookie, so I thought it worked well.  I added pistachios as well (going for the red/green theme there.)  I used my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

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Here’s the recipe I made.

Chocolate Pomegranate Clusters and Pistachios Cookies, by Katrina, Baking and Boys!

6 ounces dark chocolate, melted

1 cup pomegranate arils

8 1/2 ounces all purpose flour (240 grams)

1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 heaping teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, still cold, but slightly softened

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) brown sugar

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoons (112.5 grams) granulated sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate covered pomegranate clusters

1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Prepare the clusters by mixing the arils in with the 6 ounces of melted chocolate and spooning little mounds of them on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  Set the sheet in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets parchment paper.  Combine the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk together.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium high for 2 minutes, add the sugars and continue beating 2-3 minutes, until fluffy.  Scrape sides of bowl.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat 2 minutes.  Then add the dry ingredients and blend on low just until mixed.  Stir in the chocolate covered pomegranates, pistachios and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon or spatula. 

Put heaping tablespoonfuls on baking sheet (eight at a time).  Bake for 14-16 minutes.  Let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Makes 18-24 cookies, depending on size.

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Here’s one of my favorite things to do with chocolate chip cookie dough—put a good amount in a small four inch individual baking pan, top with two big chocolate/POM clusters, add more cookie dough to cover the clusters, bake for 20 minutes.  Mmm, ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookie!  I’ve done this with many other things hiding inside.  Molten Lava Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mint Chocolate Chip Truffles Molten Lava Cookies, Hunky Chocolate Chip Cookies to name a few.  You could try any chocolate Halloween candy in the center—these are perfect cookies and great with a big scoop of ice cream.  Or just stack up a few of these big cookies and wrap nicely for holiday gifts!

Check the links at the bottom for lots of other holiday ideas and get ready to bake, bake, bake.  The holidays are comin’……



FFWD—Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake

French Fridays With Dorie today is Marie-Helene’s Apple Cake on pages 432-433 in the new book, Around My French Table.  This cake is actually more apples than cake.

I made the cake on Sunday along with the TWD All-American, All-Delicious Apple Pie and this delicious Marbled Chocolate-Sweet Potato Cake.  We had family over to enjoy all the desserts.  And that they did.  Some liked the pie the best, some the bundt cake and some liked the apple cake.  That’s a well-rounded spread, I’d say.

My cake didn’t quite look like the others I’ve seen, but I think it was fine.  Cindy liked it so much, she took home what was left (almost half), which I was happy to let her do!  I only took one bite of the cake.  It’s apple-y.   Scott really liked this cake, too.

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Get the book, join the group, cook and bake along with us.  It’s fun to try new recipes.  What will November bring?  Wait and see!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Marbled Chocolate-Sweet Potato Cake

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This cake is SO good.  I almost don’t have much more to say than that.  Except that you might be thinking sweet potato in a cake?  If you like/love sweet potatoes, this cake is fantastic.  If you’re on the fence about them, this cake is a great way to fall in love.  I got the recipe for this Marbled Chocolate-Sweet Potato Cake from one of the classes I took in Kansas from my favorite chef, Paige.  Her classes and food were great!  I sure miss her and her classes and recipes!  Have you ever wanted to just have a few hours every few weeks to just take a break, sit back, relax and eat some yummy food?  That’s Paige’s classes.  You do just that.  Sit back, relax, take a break from all your regular daily cares, learn from an expert about cooking wonderful food, EAT, and enjoy the company of others around you who are just as interested in the same things. 

My wonderful husband made it possible with his busy schedule for me to attend all of Paige’s classes.  We tried to talk Paige in to moving to Utah, but it didn’t work.  Sigh. ;)  Thankfully, I have a huge three-ringed binder full of my collection of Paige Recipes.  And I have made a lot of them.  Every recipe is perfect.  And she has a blog!

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Look, it’s Paige.  And there’s my friend, Ellen.  Sigh.  I miss Kansas.  (Don’t worry, we’re happy to be in Utah, too.)  I “made” her be in a picture with Ellen and I at the last class we went to back in June before we moved.  Ellen is the reason I started taking Paige’s classes.  She invited me to one (Holiday cookies!  She assumed I’d like that.  Smart girl! ;) back in November of 2008.  I was hooked then.  Thanks, Ellen.  I so miss our “dates” to Paige’s classes together!

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The cake was served at a class about winter squash, pumpkins and sweet potatoes.  The cake is supposed to be made in a 10-inch tube pan or 2 8-cup loaf pans.  I don’t have either and last year after having the cake in class, I set out to make it—in my only bundt pan.  Even though Paige said the cake wouldn’t work in a bundt pan, that they usually aren’t big enough, I made it anyway.  That’ll show me.  Here’s a picture of last year’s cake.  It went way over the rim of the pan (but didn’t spill!).  I baked the cake well more than the recipe suggested, and thought it was done, but most of the center was underbaked.

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The cake tasted great and I ended up make a trifle with it with all the pieces that were not underbaked.  The trifle was really good!  I layered it with whipped cream, pudding (can’t remember what kind) and toffee bits. 

So I wanted to make the cake again, can’t find a tube pan like I want (need to look on Amazon!), and decided to make it again, in my only bundt pan, BUT this time leave out some of the batter.  BINGO.  Perfect bundt AND a perfect six inch round cake!

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Ok, so my marbling skills aren’t the greatest, but the cake is so good, it almost doesn’t matter.

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I think I did a little better marbling job on the bundt cake.  I served this the same night I made the apple pie for TWD and the apple cake coming up for FFWD.  It was a big hit.  Even those who I told that it had sweet potatoes and they wrinkled their noses a little liked it!

I wrote on my notes from Paige’s class that she hadn’t ever tried it, but wondered if toffee bits in the cake would be good.  I didn’t do that, but had fun just playing around with a toffee glaze for the cake.  I didn’t write down what actually worked, but I think I made a really good glaze!  First I tried melting toffee bits, but that wasn’t quite working, so I added a little cream, still not what I wanted.  I added some chocolate chips to the hot, almost melted toffee bits and they melted just from the heat of the toffee.  Now I had kind of a chocolate toffee glop.  I added some powdered sugar and a little milk to that until it was the consistency I wanted and it was actually really good.  I sprinkled the cake with powdered sugar, because it doesn’t REALLY need a glaze, but when serving the cake, I let everyone decided if they wanted a drizzle of the glaze on their piece as well as some whipped cream.  Excellent!

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I decided to make this cake because I ended up with a bunch of sweet potatoes, that and I’d been thinking about this cake off and on since last year!  Thanks, Paige!  She notes on the recipe that she adapted it from The Victory Garden Cookbook, by Marian Morash.

I planned ahead a little and after making the sweet potato batter and adding chocolate to part of it, I decided to have about six cups (48 ounces) of batter in the bundt pan.  I set the bundt pan on my kitchen scale and kept adding batter until it reached 48 ounces.  The bundt baked for 50 minutes and the six inch round baked for 43 minutes.  You could probably get crazy and make cupcakes with these, too!  This is easily one of my favorite cakes.

Marbled Chocolate-Sweet Potato Cake, by Paige Vandegrift (www.acookinglifeblog.blogspot.com)

3 cups all purpose flour (I measured 360 grams)

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I used freshly grated)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped (I used walnuts)

2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes (about 18 ounces puree—see note)

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (300 grams)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs, room temperature

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips—my favorite!)

Butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan or 2 8-cup loaf pans.  (I used my 10 cup bundt pan and a six inch round cake pan.)  Set aside.  Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Stir in the toasted, cooled nuts.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the sweet potatoes, sugar, oil and vanilla at medium speed until very smooth and glossy.  (Or whisk by hand in a large bowl.)  Whisk in the eggs one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.  By hand, fold in the dry ingredients and the nuts.  Scoop one third of the batter (about 21 ounces) into a separate bowl and quickly stir in the ,melted and cooled chocolate.

Place the batters in the pan(s), alternating as for a marble cake.  Then, with the end of a wooden spoon or the blade of a table knife, gently dray swirls through the batter to marbleize it.  Don’t over mix or you won’t have a marble affect—two, zig-zag passes through the pan should be sufficient. (Which is what I did! ;)

Bake in a 350 degree oven until the cake springs back and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean—about an hour for the loaves and an hour and 10 minutes for the tube cake. (My bundt took 50 minutes and the 6 inch round took 43 minutes.)  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  The cake is fine served as is, or you may dust it with powdered sugar or embellish it with a simple powdered sugar glaze, recipe below.  (Or you can mess around like I did and make a funky chocolate toffee glaze.)

Note:  You will need about 2 pounds of sweet potatoes to produce 2 cups of puree.  Roast the sweet potatoes in a 400 degree oven.  Prick the sweet potatoes in several spots with a fork or paring knife and transfer to a baking sheet.  Bake until easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 40 to 60 minutes.  When cool enough to handle, cut open the sweet potatoes and scoop out the flesh (I just easily peeled mine with my fingers.)  Puree the food processor, or press the flesh through a sieve or mesh strainer.  (I used the food processor).

Powdered Sugar Glaze:  Combine 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with enough liquid to form a mixture that drizzles slowly from a spoon—about 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, coffee or milk.

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I also made this in honor of Mary, the great! from The Food Librarian, who loves bundt cakes so much that last year and this year (and maybe every year coming?) has made a bundt cake every day for 30 days leading up to National Bundt Cake Day, which just happens to be on my birthday!  Today is day #11, so there’s plenty more bundts to come!  Check out all of Mary’s fun, yummy bundt cakes and her fun “I Like Big Bundts” theme.  I met Mary last year at BlogHer Food in San Francisco.  She’s wonderful. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

TWD—All-American, All-Delicious Apple Pie

Sure seems that the weeks are just flying by!

We (finally) got some pumpkins and did some carving the other night.  Always a fun time at our house.

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I just realized that it looks like Taylor has a sharp knife and is stabbing his pumpkin.  That’s just a big scooping spoon.

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Not pictured with his pumpkin—Parker.  Not sure what happened there.  We are pretty much ready for Halloween here.  Taylor—policeman, Parker—Ash from Pokemon, Scott—he’s 12, he wants candy, but doesn’t want to wear a costume.  When I keep asking Sam what he wants to be for Halloween, he always says, “Just a treater with a bucket.”  Too funny.  So in Facebook chatting with Suzanne recently and telling her how Sam keeps saying that she had a great suggestion.  Just get Sam a shirt and put “treater” on it and get one for Scott that says “tricker”.  I think that’s a great idea!  Bring on the trick or treatin’!

And now for this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie.  Emily, keeper of the blog, Sandmuffin chose our recipe this week (she’ll have the recipe on her blog).  She chose All-American, All-Delicious Apple Pie.  I really like apple pie.  Surprisingly, as much as I LOVE chocolate, so you’d think some kind of chocolate pie would be my favorite, I think my favorite might be apple.  Might be.  I like cherry, too.  And….well, okay, I like pie.  Well, not really mince meat pie, but most others. 

Once again I followed the recipe exactly.  I know, I’m crazy like that, sometimes I do what I’m told and other times, I do what I want. ;)

Crust, went off without a hitch.  Apples, too, really.  Though I was a little confused about something.  The recipe says 4 pounds (about 6 very large) apples.  Before they’re peeled and cored?  Or after they are sliced and ready to go?  I prepared eight good sized Golden Delicious apples and it was just over 2 pounds of apples.  That was all the apples I had and it seemed like plenty, so I went with it.

I baked the pie for just the amount of time the recipe says.  Fifteen minutes at 425 degrees, then 50 minutes at 375 degrees.  I was happy to see that my pie looked almost exactly like the picture in the book.  (Except I crimped the edges of the crust differently and the top of the pie had my always signature cut out of an apple (I always make a little cut out of whatever kind of pie it is). 

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(Sorry it’s such a yellow photo.)

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I made the pie on Sunday along with the upcoming FFWD apple cake AND a delicious bundt cake (coming soon!).  Since we had such a spread of desserts, we invited some family over Sunday night to eat the goodies with us.  Upon serving it, the pie was still quite warm, so it was hard to get really nice slices.

I think the pie was pretty good.  I would use this recipe again, but make a couple minor changes.  Zest of one lemon was WAY too much, the apples had a very strong lemon taste, which I thought was a bit much.  I also thought it could have used more cinnamon.  So next time—less lemon, like maybe only 1/2 teaspoon or so and more cinnamon.  Everyone liked it and they didn’t think it was too lemony, so maybe it’s just me.  Served with some whipped cream on top. 

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Good pie.  Perfect fall pick, Emily.  Thanks.  All three of the desserts I made were a big hit.  You’ll hear about the others soon!

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dorie Greenspan! Hummus and Cheez-it-ish Crackers

In Dorie’s honor today, a group of  Tuesday's With Dorie and French Fridays With Dorie bloggers got together and planned a spectacular meal using recipes from Dorie’s new book, Around My French Table.

I chose to make a couple appetizers from Around My French Table and here at our house, we had a healthy veggie feast with Dorie’s recipe for Hummus and her Cheez-it-ish Crackers.  I loved both recipes.  The hummus is great and I was even able to get all my boys to try it (some even ate more than just a “try”).  It’s probably a good thing Kevin was teaching the night we did it, he would not consider the spread we had a dinner, but I fooled the boys and they were fine with it. 

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The hummus was super simple to make and had just the right amount of garlic and cumin (I used the full suggested 1/2 teaspoon).  (I’ve been turned off by some hummus I’ve tried that seems to have more garlic than beans!)

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Looks like a perfect party spread to me and it made for a perfect light dinner when all the boys wanted to do was eat so they could go back outside and play the new tetherball we got them.  Of course, hummus just wouldn’t do, we had to get out the ranch dressing and salsa to go with the veggies and chips and crackers to please them as well. 

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These crackers are addicting and really good.  You can see black specks in them because Dorie suggested using white pepper and I didn’t have any so I used black pepper.  But it didn’t really matter, with the pepper and little bit of cayenne sprinkled in, I thought they had just the right amount of zip and were perfectly crisp, flaky and cheesy.  I only made half a recipe, because if a cracker isn’t shaped like a little goldfish around here, it’s just not going to get eaten by most.  So, I also hate to admit that after a couple days, I think I was the one who ate most of the half recipe. (Shriek.)  Hey, I was celebrating, after all, Dorie’s birthday only comes once a year, right!  I have just about every cookie cutter in the world, it seems, but I suppose I need to find me a goldfish cutter!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DORIE!  IT’S BEEN A REAL TREAT BAKING AND NOW COOKING ALONG WITH THESE TWO GREAT GROUPS AS WE MAKE OUR WAY THROUGH YOUR GREAT BOOKS!  HOPE YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY!

(If you don’t yet have Dorie’s books, Baking From My Home to Yours and Around My French Table, they are a great addition to any cookbook collection.)

Be sure to check out Dorie’s Virtual Surprise Party at Phe.MOM.enon!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies—Ischeler Tortelettes

Week 4 of the Twelve Weeks of Christmas Cookies.  It’s going to be here before you know it.  Do YOU know what goodies will be on your Christmas baking list?  Check out all the ideas at the links on the bottom of this post!

(You can also see my latest post for FFWD below this one.)

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Last week while at the check out at a grocery store, I noticed some of the new holiday issues of some of my favorite magazines.  One that caught my eye was the Woman’s Day Special, Best Ideas for Christmas.  It caught my eye because there are nine great looking cookies on the front cover that were selected cookies for the magazine through the last nine decades.  I’ve had fun looking through the magazine and reading about cookies past.

For this week’s cookie, I actually chose to make one of the nine cookies featured in Woman’s Day, December 1961 issue.  I feel a little bad that for the second week in the row, I have chosen to make a cookie with such a difficult name.  Last week I made Pfeffernussen Cookies and now I am sharing with you Ischeler Tortelettes.  Never heard of them?  Me, either.  But I liked the look of the cookies and the fact that they were a delicate, crispy almond shortbread, sandwiched with apricot preserves and glaze with chocolate on top.  They sounded good to me!  And they look nice.  I do think they would make a nice addition to your Christmas cookie tray or even a cookie swap.

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The cookies are simple to make.  First the dough is made and then left to sit in the refrigerator overnight.  Then the dough is rolled out and cut into 1 1/2 inch circles.  The recipe says to bake the cookies for eight minutes, but mine took 15!  Were ovens different back in the 60’s? ;)

After all the little round cookies have baked and cooled, a small amount of apricot preserves  it set on top of half the cookies and a top cookie is placed on the preserves.  Then each top cookie is glazed with chocolate and set with a few sliced almonds.  I do have one thing I thought was a little funny, I guess.  This recipe from 1961 says to melt the chocolate in the microwave.  Did they HAVE microwaves back then?  I know, the recipe was probably updated to make it more simple for today’s woman. ;)

 

In doing a small amount of searching on the internet, Ischler Cookies are a Dutch cookie and there are a number of recipes for them which are all similar, but I didn’t see any that were exactly the same.  These have ground almonds in them, but I didn’t see any of the other recipes I looked at with ground almonds.  I have a bag of almond meal, so I also wanted to use some of it up.  I also thought these cookies would be great with raspberry jam as I love raspberry and chocolate together, but I didn’t have any to try it.

Here's a link to the recipe from the Woman’s Day website which I followed exactly, except that my cookies took about 15 minutes to bake and the recipe suggests just eight minutes.  Start checking them after eight minutes and bake them until they are starting to turn golden.

Week four, let’s see, that means that Christmas is just over eight weeks away.  Better get your bake on. ;)



FFWD—Hachis Parmentier

What in the world is that?

It’s our recipe for French Fridays With Dorie this week.  It’s basically a shepherd’s pie made with leftover beef.  Get this—I followed the recipe exactly!  But I didn’t use leftovers.  I just happened to have some beef chuck about three weeks ago, so I decided to use it for this. 

I knew Kevin would like this and that I wouldn’t really care for it.  You see, I don’t like sausage—of any kind.  But I wanted to make this as Dorie wrote it, so I added some sausage.  I don’t like touching raw meat, and I consider removing sausage from its casings just about as bad as it gets.  BUT, I did it. 

I didn’t see the notes for the quick method by using ground beef until I’d already started making this with the beef chuck.  I’d rather use beef like that for a really good roast/potatoes/carrots in the crockpot or something, so if I make this again, I’d for sure use ground beef, which is the only way I’ve ever made shepherd’s pie in the past and think it’s just fine that way.  Maybe sometimes I’ll throw in some sausage for Kevin, but since it had sausage, I really only at a very small amount of it. 

I’m happy to be cooking and baking along with Dorie’s new book, Around My French Table, but I’ve decided something—I’m not a photographer, well, I knew that already.  And I’ve had some not-so-good pictures and some really bad ones, even with sweet desserts and things that I actually enjoy photographing.  But try as I might, I just don’t think I’ve got that knack for snapping shots of savory food.  I know it’s me and my lack of skills.  I guess I’ve improved in my photography overall since starting my blog, so now that I’ll be trying to photograph savory food more, maybe it will improve over time.

That said, I’m not sure shepherd’s pie is all that photogenic, so this one really isn’t ALL my fault. ;)  Now I give you a few pictures of the pie, just so you can see that I did make it.

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I even took a fun prep photo with my very dirty looking cutting board in the background.

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The beef is ready to go.  (Yes, I did add the carrots and stuff from cooking the meat, Dorie said it was optional, waste not want not I always say.  Except if you know me, do you really think I added all those extra onions? 

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Yeah, that just really doesn’t look that good to me.  It did get eaten up here though!  I do prefer the ol’ traditional American shepherd’s pie with ground beef and when I do make it, I usually add all kinds of veggies, whatever I have.  That’s just the way we like it. 

I’m  really excited to make more savory dishes from Dorie’s new book (AND the desserts!) so stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, can’t wait for apple week coming up.  TWD—apple pie.  Next FFWD—an apple cake.  Yep, now THAT sounds good!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Taylor Turned Seven! (Oh so many photos, be warned.)

I wanted to take a moment to blog about Taylor’s birthday.  It was last week on the 12th.  We did some fun things.  A couple weeks before his birthday, Kevin and I took he and Sam to a fun place called Cornbellys.  It’s a corn maze, but also has all kinds of fun, fall outdoor activities.  Get ready for pictures!

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For some reason, this day was the hottest I have felt since we moved to Utah.  The temps were in the mid 80’s, but it was so hot.  I think I just didn’t really do that much outside during the summer.

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Here was a giant room full of about a foot of corn.  Kids sure thought that was fun. 

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Look how dirty Taylor is, that’s from playing in the corn room.  That’s some dusty stuff.

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There is a kid’s corn maze (which is what we did with the boys) and a giant one that takes over an hour to get through, which we did not do.

One of Taylor’s favorite things about all of Cornbellys was pumpkin tetherball.  (Parker and Taylor LOVE tetherball.  We just recently bought one and attached it to an old basketball pole.  They play it every moment they can.)

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While this big guy looked cool, it was a bit more than Taylor wanted to do.  Kids could walk all through the creature and be scared, it was pitch dark inside.  This is as far as Taylor went.

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This was about the bumpiest little train/hayride I have ever been on.  It really hurt the insides.

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Go cart rides.

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This place is kid-lovin’ heaven!

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We went to Cornbellys on October 1.  Taylor’s birthday is October 12.  He could hardly stand the wait for the day to come.  When he got home from school, his first surprise was hiding all around the house and he had to go find them in different rooms.

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Kevin has got the boys all loving Gatorade (which I personally think it yucky).  But now for their birthdays they always want their own stash of it.  So each drink was hidden throughout the house.

Taylor loves Playmobil.

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The candy loot photo.  The boys also get a few of their favorite treats for their birthday.

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For dinner, Taylor chose to go to Golden Corral.  Every one ate their hearts out.  Sam is so funny, at one point during dinner, which he only ate a good sized plateful of strawberries and two ice cream cones.  While he was eating the last of his second cone he said, “I love this place!  It’s like a fairy tale.”  He’s so funny.  (GC isn’t really my idea of a fairy tale.)

Everyone filled up some much on dinner and dessert and we still had plans for the boys to each frost their own cake at home.  (That’s what Taylor wanted to do.)  He chose banana cake and I used this recipe that seems to have become a perfect go-to banana cake (it’s Dorie’s Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake).  I made Taylor his own six inch round cake and the other three boys got their own four inch cake.   So while everyone was full from dinner, they had fun frosting and decorating their cakes.  I made a cream cheese frosting and it was all about sprinkles, sprinkles, sprinkles.  Fun!

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Lately Taylor has been saying he wants to be a chef when he grows up.  He loves cooking/baking in the kitchen.

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Even after Golden Corral, Scott ate his entire cake.  No one else even took a bite because they were so full.

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Here’s Taylor’s final masterpiece cake.  Happy Birthday, Taylor.  We love you.  You have a great sense of humor, a fun laugh and we are so happy you are part of our family!

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