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savory/sweet/savory

5 Dec

The holidays would not be complete without one “blunderous” cooking expedition. And so it starts early in December that I share my story with you.

Twas the night before another day,

And all while I blog,

All creatures are stirring,

Including my dog.

 

The stockings are not hung,

Because the kids used them to skate with.

While hoping my irritation

Is all but a myth.

 

No sugar plum fairies

Dancing in their heads.

But wild calls for dinner

Head me into the kitchen instead.

 

And this is my tale and/or recipe.

Curried Butternut Bisque

 

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into pieces

1 c boiling water

3-4 chicken bouillon packets

2 c. milk

1c light cream or ½ and ½

1 T. flour

1 t. salt

Dash of pepper

1 t. curry powder

Cook squash in small amount of water. Combine with all the rest of the ingredients in blender. Blend…serve warm.

 

Sounds easy enough. It always sounds easy enough. This recipe comes from my Aunt Sue. She served this soup two days after Thanksgiving which to our family is “leaving” day – the day we leave our extended family in PA and head back to Michigan. This tasted so good to me: cozy, sweet and savory. Parfait! And as mentioned before, it sounded super easy to make.

I started my roasting my butternut squash {which I cut in half and seeded} face down in a baking dish filled ½ “with water (roughly). Once the squash was cooled, I put it into a blender with 1 cup of not boiling water, 2 tsp of powdered bouillon, 1 cup of milk and ½ cup of half and half. I did not add the flour. Added about 2 T or more of salt, way more than a dash of pepper (story to come) and approximately 2 tsp curry powdered. My aunt pointed out that this recipe is forgiving…good thing.

First, I questioned the boiling water. Was that to keep the ingredients warm so you could serve it right away? No, you dork! It’s to dissolve the bouillon. But, alas, I didn’t realize that until I tasted it and thought it tasted “bouillon-y.” But, I kept trucking along. Once all the ingredients were blending, I started adding salt, cinnamon (a couple…maybe a few shakes) and about 2 tbsp of brown sugar. When that was not satisfying to me, I added another “splash” of half and half.

{Pause.} Promised trip to the video store to rent a video game.

{Return.}

Dump ingredients in to large saucepan and heat. {Taste.} Ok, it’s starting to get there. As I was allowing it to warm, I started cleaning up my ingredients. I picked up my jar of bouillon and surprise, surprise, it “slipped” out of my hands and landed on the ground. Nothing happened. But, my mind wandered. That would be horrible if somehow it jumped back on the counter, split open and all the contents accidentally dumped in to my soup. Then I would have to start over. Quel horror! But that didn’t happen. Bouillon back in the cupboard, black pepper out.

I begin to grind the black pepper into the soup. Maybe it needs something spicy. But that whole mind-wandering thing scenario comes into play here.


Yah. So as I was vigorously grinding the pepper into the soup, the pepper cap BROKE and half of those evil spices jumped into the soup. I looked in horror at the black dots that filled my almost completed soup…and my mind began to race.

So, yes. I dumped the contents into the strainer. And yes, it eliminated most (but not all) of those creatures.

 

Tom [walking in to kitchen]: Are you hungry?

Me: I’m making soup.

Tom: What kind of soup?

Me: Butternut squash.

Tom [peering into the saucepan]: Oh.

 

And that my friends is my take on the butternut squash soup recipe. It’s very tasty. I recommend it. Minus the peppercorns.

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and while I’m at it…

13 Nov

I think I see a running theme here. I was going to blog about a dessert I brought to a friend’s house. But didn’t I just write (like literally nanoseconds ago) another post of the same weight and dimension? However, seeing as I never actually fully ate the crisp recipe and this recipe is all about chocolate, I must.

Why in the world does someone who wants to lose a couple pounds (me) like to bake so much? Why can’t I have the desire to be an avid housecleaner? Or dog walker? I mean, Scooby’s 13 now. Can’t he walk himself by now?

And why would I torture a friend who’s also trying to lose weight, by bringing a possibly calorie-laden dessert over as a “nice gesture”? Well, it was actually for her {sweet} husband who so kindly took the time on a Friday night to check the brakes on my car (nothing wrong). She always told me that he liked to be paid in desserts. And, well, I like to bake. So, hey Sean, can you look at my car brakes for a 99¢ box of brownie mix?

Of course, I took that box and modified it. And this is what I came up with (compliments of someone else’s idea of course). This recipe was posted on a website called “Squidoo”. Check out its logo; it’s odd. Odd aside, the recipe was a good base for the items I had in my pantry (I’ve always wanted to use that word. It’s actually a cupboard, though.).

So, I call it brownie mix with marshmallows and frosting on top. Squidoo calls it Rocky Road Brownies.

1 brownie mix (store bought 19.8 oz)
1 cup chopped pecans
3 cups mini marshmallows
2 squares of unsweetened chocolate (1 oz each)
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 package powdered sugar (16 oz)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the chocolate brownies according to the package directions. Then fold in the 1 cup of chopped pecans into the batter. Spread the batter mixture in a greased pan and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle the miniature marshmallows over the hot brownies so they melt a bit. Cool.

In a heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate, milk and butter together until combined (be sure to stir constantly). Remove chocolate mixture from the heat and add the vanilla. Then add the powdered sugar a little at a time, mixing with a hand mixer on low speed, until the frosting is the desired consistency for spreading. Spread over brownies with marshmallows. Cool and cut into bars.

Now comes my part. I had the brownie mix, but not the pecans. Well, I had them but I typically (or another word would be never) use them in recipes. Had mini marshmallows. No to squares of unsweetened chocolate. I did use 2 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips and NOW I know why the recipe was so stinkin’ sweet, Kim. It calls for Unsweetened. DOH! Milk, yes. Butter, yes and yes to the rest.

The first issue I had with this recipe, besides the fact that I used the wrong chocolate (wait, did I just say wrong and chocolate in the same sentence?) was that the recipe says to cook the batter for 25 minutes. Now, y’all know I live in the Peach Pit. And if you don’t, it’s a 110 year old farmhouse with an equally old oven. However, despite the age of my cooking implements, 25 minutes and out produced a still liquidy mixture. In other words, it wasn’t completely set yet. So back in the oven again. TWENTY more minutes later and I wondered if maybe there was a reason it was supposed to be slightly undercooked.

Issue 2: The part where it says, “sprinkle the marshmallows over the hot brownies so they melt a bit”? Yah, not so much. They rolled around like little tumbleweeds. They didn’t stick and they definitely didn’t melt…even a bit. Then again, maybe that’s because I cooked the brownies to completion.

Issue 3: The frosting that you make to spread over the brownies with slightly melted minis on top made way TOO much. You could easily have halved that recipe. I had a whole saucepan of chocolately goodness waiting for me later that night. NOT GOOD. Ok, maybe a little good.

Also, it was hard to spread the frosting without dragging those poor tumbleweeds around the top of the brownies.

And now it’s time for a visual:

Ok, so the reason they looked sort of “melty” is because I ended up popping it back in the oven for a few seconds, but don’t hold me to it. It could’ve been minutes.

And before you think I can’t evenly spread my ingredients (though these ingredients were trying to escape from me), I left one end without marshmallows in case there was someone (JACK) who complained about marshmallows. [Though he typically will eat anything with sugar (see crisp post) but sometimes just likes to come up with something to complain about…especially if it’s been hours, minutes, seconds since he last complained.]

And here is the final product.

Notice the giant layer of frosting. And yes, that pot looks slightly larger than the sauce pot I originally claimed to have eaten from later that evening.

And by the way, I did try it. It was over the top good. I even ate the piece I saved for Tom.

berry crisp {take TWO}

13 Nov

I’ll explain the {take two} part in a minute. But first, I need to share with you a yummy recipe that I “ganked” from Ina Garten. I needed a quick dessert that had an impressive quality to it. During one of my marathon Food Network viewing experiences, I watched and documented every iota of Ina’s peach and raspberry crisp recipe. (Do I capitalize that?) Anyway, her “Recipe” was filed away in the dessert portion of my brain. So, when it came time to produce a dessert to bring to my friend Heather’s house, this came tumbling forward. That and the fact that I was staring at a bag of frozen blueberries and frozen peaches in my freezer. So, let me share with you this very sweet and yummy dessert:

Peach and Raspberry Crisp

Ingredientsnocoupons

  • 4 to 5 pounds firm, ripe peaches (10 to 12 large peaches)
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 pint raspberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish.

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place them in cold water. Peel the peaches and slice them into thick wedges and place them into a large bowl. Add the orange zest, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the raspberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid, add 1 more tablespoon of flour. Pour the peaches into the baking dish and gently smooth the top.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and the cold, diced butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of the peaches and raspberries. Bake for 1 hour, until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator and reheat in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until warm.

Phew! Now that you’ve read through that (*not), let me tell you that I didn’t actually make this recipe. Well, I did, but I didn’t have fresh peaches. I had a bag of frozen peaches that may or may not have added up to 10-12 large peaches like her recipe suggests. I also definitely did not have a pint of fresh raspberries because a) they’re expensive and b) [insert blank mind]. I had frozen blueberries, though. Ina, does that count? I threw these together in a ceramic dish and prepared the topping which made WAY TOO MUCH. Not that Jack minded; he enjoyed eating the remaining chunks of butter whipped together with his other favorite food group: brown sugar.

I threw this in the oven, but had to leave ½ way through the cooking time (yah, I’m one of those) to do the whole pick-my-kid-up-from-school routine. Ran back home, grabbed the “mostly” cooked dessert (cooked enough for a couple of stay-at-home-moms anyway since we eat most things that are undercooked, overcooked or have been sitting on the counter for days cooked). As I arrived at my friend’s house, I carefully unloaded some items out of my car to carry into her house. When I returned to the car, I noticed (yet couldn’t react fast enough) that her dog had nudged the top of the lid off my crisp and proceeded to be licking all the way around the perimeter (as well as in the middle) of this warm, yummy crisp.

So, do I know what this tasted like? No. Should I have placed the dessert NOT on the floor of my car? O.k. Should I have shut the car door, knowing the dessert was on the floor, though carrying several items in my arms Rachael Ray style? No answer.

Here are the leftovers, thanks to Cheese (a.k.a. “that dog”).

So, the {take TWO} component of this recipe is that I had the chance to remake this recipe for my grandma’s 101st birthday. This time I had even less of the bag of frozen peaches and absolutely no other fruit but frozen strawberries. I also halved the crisp topping recipe, used the same baking vessel (washed since Cheese’s foray into dessert-hood), but it actually wasn’t enough (though Jack was hovering around with his pincher grasp dangling over the butter/sugar mix). So at that point, I grabbed some butter and mashed it between my fingers with some brown sugar. Was it exact? No. And I actually didn’t get a chance to taste this recipe either because once we travelled the 40 minutes to my mom’s for the birthday “party”, my son declared he wanted to go to his school’s fall dance. And by DECLARED, I mean he whined the entire time until he beat me down. So we ate dinner and left. And I left the dessert. I have no idea if it got eaten or got sent to the neighbor’s dog.

But give the above recipe a try. I can almost assure you (based on the aroma coming and the quick forkful I took from the undercooked mixture) that it’s a great {something sweet}!

Ode to a Boy Cake

8 Jul

Boy, the Peach Pit {home, sweet, home} is turning into a bakeria!

[Reflect] It all started at age 16 with a simple job of scooping 31 flavors of ice cream at Baskin Robbins. To fill my down time (besides tasting every flavor with those small pink plastic spoons), I watched another coworker decorate cakes. Now, there is a certain art to decorating a frozen ice cream cake.  You have to carefully select the size and shape of the cake and then match the ice cream layer accordingly.  After the assembly is completed, then you have to slather on a layer of ice cream-ish frosting that conforms to the cake and freezes to a glossy consistency.

My obsessive cake-watching soon became obsessive cake-creating. There were only 2 flavors of cake (chocolate and vanilla), but endless combinations when married with all those ice cream flavors. Jamocha Almond Fudge with chocolate? Cherries Jubilee/vanilla? Why would [that customer] even consider combining German Chocolate Cake with vanilla? I soon began filling the display case with my handiwork. Beautiful red roses and greenery. Vibrant purple pansies with trailing curlicues. Until one day my boss (who I thought was completely oblivious to the onslaught of cakes despite the lack of orders) said, “Why is there a Homer Simpson cake?” Oops…didn’t realize Homer wasn’t a real hot seller! I’m sure that cake ended up in the garbage along with the many other cakes that didn’t sell (and no, all the tossed ones weren’t necessarily mine either…).

So, here we are over 20 years later and I’ve become obsessed again with creating the perfect cake. Since my boys aren’t familiar with the Simpsons (and hopefully won’t be for a while), I’m “happy” (if not slightly anxious) that they’ve requested cakes conformed to the image of “Star Wars”.

I’ve been thinking about this cake for some time now [and by “cake” I mean “cakes” plural since I have 2 boys]. I’ve done so many Google searches for “Star Wars cakes”, “General Grievous cakes”, “Storm Trooper cakes” that I have an entire battle scene going on in my mind. And why someone would want to bite into a cake of a skeletal-robot-who-was-once-a-man-but-fell-into-a-burning-vat-of-something-and-rebuilt-himself-into-blah-blah-blah” simply means that I house a couple of Star Wars-obsessed fans…or at least Evan is…Jack, being the younger brother, well, you know the rest.  So, Jack wants a Darth Vader cake and Evan wants a General Grievous cake (the burning vat guy one).

Now that that’s settled, I turn my attention to the actual cake and what it will look like. Do I use fondant {yuck}? Do I make a cake or cupcakes? Do I make one image of their chosen character or multiple figures in case they choose a new “bad guy” to obsess about…which happens quite frequently? Once again, I am bound by what Google has to offer me.

And here I arrive. I’ve decided to make mini “heads” (as shown above) of some of Jack’s favorite characters. I’m not sure what I will do with them at this point. I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned.  Are the designs original? Mais non, but I found them littered across the internet and then made my own modifications. Since I don’t want to revisit the freehand drawing of several key characters (as seen by my hours-long dedication to creating Hulk), I’m thinking that I will have to resort to fondant…

I’ve been directed to a wonderful website (http://whatscookingamerica.net/pegw/fondant.htm) thanks to my friend Lindsay who fondants all the time. This recipe is quite delicious but the method is definitely mad, {MAD}enning. I will let you take a look at the recipe but all I can say is two things: “ooey, gooey” and “Crisco”.

As I sit here at the computer while my pink-eyed laden child is swathed by the glow of his Playstation2 (and my other is just plain sitting in front of the t.v. for babysitting’s sake), I must bring this post to a close. But I can’t wait for the “big reveal” which I will pass on to you in my spare time…as well as a full on discussion of the disastrous mess marshmallow fondant makes to your counters, floors and self. And thanks librarian, dollar store clerk, Kroger cashier et al {who saw me, watched me, observed me} for pointing out that leaning on a counter full of Crisco, marshmallow goop and powdered sugar will result in a not-so-discreet white-ish midsection.

pépites de chocolat

14 Jun

Whether I’m baking cookies, muffins or pancakes, I must insert a small army of chocolate chips. In fact, I just took a pan of sad-looking enchiladas out of the oven and I caught my hand hovering precariously over the jar of chocolate chips. Maybe they will improve the taste {if not appearance} of said dismal enchiladas.  Sorry mom, but the enchilada recipe tasted so much better when I was in college…

Even while baking during my many attempts at the “less is more” diet {butter}[APPLESAUCE], I always manage to throw a fistful of chocolate into the batter as if to make up to the recipe that I really cherish its original contents.

Well, here is the recipe that poured sunshine into my Michigan spring morning today:

Banana Muffins

*Makes approximately 16 muffins.

{Add chocolate chips/chunks/shavings, si nécessaire}

Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a separate mixing bowl, combine:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed banana (approximately 2-3 ripe bananas)
  • 1/3 cup butter (though I split this between real, as opposed to faux butter & applesauce)
  • 1/4 cup milk

Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until combined. Do not over mix as this will make tough, rubbery muffins and then nobody will eat them no matter how many chocolate chips you drop in to the batter. It is at this point that I need to separate the batter for the sake of my younger son who strongly dislikes…CHOCOLATE CHIPS! I fill 4-6 muffins 2/3 full with the plain, boring batter. Then I add in a liberal handful of chocolate chips to the original batter. I fill the remaining cups with this enticing, delectable chocolate chip-laden batter.

Bake for about 20 minutes.

*The original “bones” of this recipe come from Kraftfoods.com. But like all bakers, there are hidden-to-you modifications!

There is also a seriously yummy banana muffin recipe on the joyofbaking.com website. Please visit it as well at:

RED ALERT! RED ALERT! Just went to their website and the recipe no longer exists! There is another banana muffin recipe but it’s just not the same. I will share this recipe at another time when I actually feel like posting another banana muffin recipe post…{NOT}!

b.i.g. dessert

12 Jun

a place for seriously big appetitesF.Y.I.: This post has nothing to do with a sweet confection that I created – though a life-sized cake of Big Boy (*see left) would be sweet {no pun or other witty mark intended}.

If you’re not familiar with the Big Boy restaurant chain, then…familiarize yourself with it. There is no redeeming quality to the food, and the name of the restaurant alone gives you a hint as to the menu (lettuce wraps and green tea are not served here) – as does the enormously large statue of a rather biggish boy. What mother wouldn’t want to dress her chunky little boy in red-checkered overalls with shellacked hair all the while holding a platter of beef?

Well, it must work because Little Boy Big draws in the masses with its enormous hamburgers and my favorite meal: Slim Jim, fries & a chocolate shake.

But I digress – this post should be about something sweet and that is where I land myself…literally. Last night after enjoying a much-needed girls’ night out eating Mexican food, we were drawn to the ever popular post-dinner-must-continue-talking-so-let’s-keep-stuffing-our-face option…DESSERT! And Big Boy just happened to be conveniently located across the street.

Now, do we continue to enjoy the authentic Mexican cuisine by indulging in fried churros, fried ice cream or fried…? NO, Big Boy’s swirling beef platter is calling to us! And by “swirling” I mean he’s a giant statue turning, turning, turning on a post outside the restaurant taunting passers-by (passer-byers? passers-bys? anyone?)

We loaded ourselves into the car and crossed the street. This is where a modicum of exercise would’ve come in handy, but driving seemed a much better way to let the Mexican food deposit itself in/on/around us before indulging in…DESSERT à la Big Boy.

And this is where I will share with you a recipe for “something sweet”. I will not mention the names of those at the table who did not order this heavenly delight. However, this dessert is meant to be eaten alone…which is precisely what I did. And here I sit in a sugar stupor…8 hours later…

Big Boy Hot Fudge Ice Cream Cake

  • slab o’ cake
  • carton o’ ice cream
  • slab o’ cake
  • fudge, from a spigot {heated to a dangerously narcotic level as to put eater in a stupor}
  • whipped cream
  • cherry

Layer ingredients in above order. Slather on/in/around hot fudge. Top with an unimportant amount of whipped cream and let the cherry roll off and under the table.

This is what you’ll get…

And, thanks to Facebook, you can now “friend” it.

cake pops

7 Jun

Saturday, June 5th
(At precisely the time I should be putting my kids to bed)

This cake pop recipe and design comes compliments of Bakerella. I’ve followed this wonderful master of confectionary creations (yes, I just made up that word) since she appeared on Martha Stewart. I was enamored by her whimsical creations and have always looked for an opportunity to make these. This opportunity came about when I (I say this collectively with all the other classroom moms) decided to throw my son’s kindergarten teacher a bridal shower.
How I slaved over these pops carefully rolling them into perfection! I started the process 2 evenings before the shower so I wouldn’t be left overwhelmed (my, how I find myself there often!). The next morning I carefully extracted them from the freezer housed in our lovely MI basement. By the way, the story gets better if you actually know what a Michigan basement is, so this is where I suggest you Google it. As I turned to go back upstairs into the kitchen to finish the magnificent beauties, I somehow tripped (randomly) and as if in slow motion, I watched as over 30 pops slid on to the floor.
My first thought was, “I can save these!” as they’re tumbling onto the damp-ish cement floor, but what sealed their fate was their decision to swim in the industrial strength bag of absorbent that was seated conveniently by the freezer. Thus ended the life of cake pop batch #1.
Now many of you are thinking that a trip to the grocery store for horribly premade cookies would be the alternative. But alas, I am smitten by all things confectionary (can I use that word again in a grammatically correct manner?). So after dropping my son off at school, my 4 year old and I trudged to the grocery store for another box of cherry chip boxed cake and a can of frosting…and a box of white cake…and some American cheese singles…and, oh yah, I need bananas.  The process started all over after I posted the demise of the first batch on Facebook, because naturally all things tragic must end up as a status update.
Not only did I make these cakes and make additional trudges to the dollar store to get the styrofoam block they inhabit as well as the green moss that had to perfectly accompany the presentation, but I also made bite-sized Oreo truffles, cake balls and mini cheesecakes – all compliments of Bakerella.com.
In the end, I think they turned out fabulous, but I have to say that I never did try nary a one. I heard they were good, but I think my well-intentioned friends thought I was psycho for not buying the aforementioned stale grocery store cookies, ignoring my kids for an entire afternoon while they ate Poptarts for lunch and American cheese slices for dinner thus offering me accolades as encouragement.
So this page, Something Sweet, begins my walk into the world of presentational sweets. Maybe one day I will be able to join the ranks of Bakerella and actually execute my own creative ideas.  But for now, I will wipe the industrial absorbent off my hands onto my apron and copycat what others have blazed before me.