February 15, 2012
Even though I haven’t lived anywhere that celebrates Mardi Gras for a very long time, I grew up on the Gulf Coast and still have lots of fond memories of going to the parade every year. And since my birthday is in late February, Mardi Gras has fallen on or near the same day—the date changes every year, along with Easter—a bunch of times so I would usually have some kind of Mardi Gras themed party and we’d order a King Cake instead a normal birthday cake. This year, Mardi Gras happens to be next Tuesday, the day after my birthday, so I thought it would be fun to have a King Cake again.
King Cakes I’ve made in the past have always been huge, not only hard to handle and store but they’d wind up drying out before we could finish eating them. So this time, rather than making one giant cake I decided to make small personal-size cakes. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to full size again! This recipe makes four 6-inch King Cakes which are adorable and easy to carry and store. I think they’d …
July 13, 2009
The seventh recipe for The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge was Ciabatta. This was one I was really excited about attempting but also pretty apprehensive. It’s probably one of the most complicated breads we’ve done so far and from surveying other BBAers on twitter and the forum it was pretty apparent that “results may vary”. Good Ciabatta is full of big giant holes and that involves having a very wet dough, which you can imagine, is hard to work with. In addition to working with the very wet dough for the first time, making this bread involves some special tools as well as setting up your oven in a very specific way, so there’s quite a bit of prep involved.
There were two different versions, using different kinds of pre-ferments: poolish or biga. These are just mixtures of bread, water and yeast that sit out for a certain amount of time to develop flavor and texture. Later you add the rest of ingredients to make the final dough. I chose the biga because the consensus seemed to be that it resulted in bread with bigger holes. I …
January 19, 2009
So I’m finally back. We moved in to the new apartment about a week and half ago and I got the last few things unpacked and my pictures hung this weekend so I guess we’re officially settled in. After looking through my cookbooks I went on a grocery shopping spree last week and restocked my new kitchen (LOVE my brand new oven and dishwasher) and I’ve been cooking up a storm since then. Because, seriously, for the two weeks while we were moving, ALL we did was eat at restaurants and fast food places. I was sooooo tired of greasy food by the end of it and I think I’ve had my fill for the foreseeable future.
So for the next month (up until my birthday, exactly a month away), my goal is try as many recipes as possible from my Weight Watchers cookbook. I’m not going to be doing the whole point counting thing (though I have in the past and lost a substantial amount of weight) but I definitely want to concentrate on eating better (more vegetables, whole grains, etc.) and trying to be healthier …
January 20, 2011
Since last fall I’ve tried a ton of soup recipes looking for that one perfect soup. A soup recipe that could stand up against my absolute favorite: Chicken Tortilla Soup. I’ve found quite a few good soups, even some great ones, but nothing that I loved as much as that tortilla soup. But, finally, after months of looking I think I may have found it. I’m not sure I’d say I like it more than tortilla soup, but it’s definitely tied with it now.
I would call this chowder a cousin to that tortilla soup. They are different and yet quite similar. That’s probably why I like it so much. Both have a base of pureed vegetables, but this one doesn’t have tomatoes in the base like the tortilla soup does. This chowder is much creamier and has potatoes, which only makes me love it more. I’ve made this recipe several times and adapted it a bit by adding some corn and a bell pepper to make it even heartier. And don’t be scared off by the chipotle part! This only …
March 14, 2012
Just like Spaghetti-os and Oatmeal Cream Pies, Pop Tarts are one of those things I loved when I was kid but have tried to stay away from as an adult. But since I had so much fun learning to make those other favorites at home, I figured it was time I finally attempted a Pop Tart. With the other recipes I was trying to make a homemade version that was close to the taste and texture of the originals. This time I wanted to make a healthier Pop Tart. But one that still, you know, tastes good. And while this recipe isn’t especially low fat (by my calculations it’s about the same as the store bought version), after some trial and error I feel like I came up with a satisfying compromise.
A Pop Tart is pretty much just pie crust with some type of filling, so the pastry dough is the most important part. I tried out several different “healthy” pie crust recipes first. Lesson learned: pie crust without butter SUCKS. It just does. But thanks to a tip from a reader (Thanks, Shel!), I figured out you …
March 21, 2012
Spring is officially here! And in the spirit of spring cleaning I’ve started going through my packed freezer to finally use up the last of the fruit that I froze last year. I got a ton of blueberries and blackberries from my CSA and have been using them in muffins all winter but after last week’s Pop Tart adventure I didn’t really want muffins or anything too carb-y. I’ve been craving a lemon dessert lately and lemons always pair well with berries so this was the perfect opportunity to finally make something.
Even though lemons are technically a summer fruit, there’s really nothing else that evokes Spring to me as much as a lemon. It’s just so fresh and bright, like the colorful blooms that are popping up all around my neighborhood these days. It’s the perfect thing to help transition between the stark coldness of winter and the hot sunniness of summer.
I had bookmarked a recipe for lemon cream a while ago so I finally decided to give it a try. The recipe turned out to be so simple and tasty that I immediately made another …
August 29, 2011
Remember when I said I was excited about making soup this fall? Well, the prospect of soup sounded so good that I may have jumped the gun a little. But that’s ok because this might as well be called “Summer’s Almost Over Soup.” It’s full of fresh and bright summer produce but it’s warm and hearty and creamy and perfect for those late summer evenings when the temperatures are finally starting to drop.
I really wasn’t expecting this soup to be so good, I was just trying to use up the two weeks worth of yellow tomatoes from my CSA and this recipe fit the bill. I wound up changing the original recipe quite a bit, though. That’s what I love about soup, you can almost always add your own spin to it without risking messing it up completely. For instance, if you can’t get your hands on yellow tomatoes, I’m sure regular tomatoes would work just fine.
July 27, 2009
It seems like every week I keep saying “this is my favorite”, but hands down, these two breads are my favorite from this challenge. A couple of reasons for this:
1. Both recipes were extremely easy. No waiting a day for pre-ferments, just mix up the ingredients, knead, shape, proof, bake and boom: you have yummy bread in about 4 hours.
2. They’re just good. Period. The raisin bread tasted just like the raisin bread you buy at the store. The cinnamon rolls were just amazing. I could have eaten about a million of them. In fact, after picking out the photos for this entry (it’s been a few weeks since I actually made them), I got such a craving for them that I had to make another batch.