Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Twd update

My coworkers are raving about the pie!

And, apologies to Vibi for saying you live in France. I read your bio on twd site way too late last night!

Enjoy your day, everyone. I'm just working away and dreaming of stuffing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

TWD: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie

Rob Base was right! It does take two to make it outta site. This week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection is Thanksgiving Twofer Pie as chosen by the lovely Vibi. You have to check out her blog! She lives in France and you can read her blog either in French or English. How smart is that?!

Well, that's only the second most smart thing I know about Vibi. The first is that she chose this pie. This is now my most favorite pie ever. EVER. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

First the dough. Man, was it a pain in the arse. It took the two of us to make it right (catch the theme??) and get it into the dish correctly. But, once it was in the dish, it baked up gorgeously!

The pumpkin filling was a complete breeze, I actually thought I had done something wrong it was so easy!
Then I layered on the pecans, poured on the gooey topping and popped it into the oven. After the stated baking time, my knife wasn't coming out clean so I kept it in and checked every few minutes or so until it was done. I think I added about 15 minutes to the cooking time and never had to foil the crust or tent the top. This pie was a piece of cake!
When it came out of the oven, it looked and smelled amazing! I wanted to dive right in but myself wait until it had cooled to room temperature. The top of the pie looked like a caramelized candy coated dream.

The hubs ate his with a scoop of vanilla ice cream while I enjoyed mine with a (giant) dollop of home whipped cream.
Overall, the hubs and I could not believe how delicious this pie was. At one point, I looked at him and he was staring at the pie, shaking his head. I gave him a quizzical look and he just said "How? How can the flavors go together so perfectly?"
That's when I started dancing and singing :

It Takes Two - the Twofer Remix
(With apologies to Rob Base, lyrics by me!)
It takes two to make a thing go right
It takes two to make it outta sight
It takes two to make a thing go right
Pumpkin and nuts make it outta sight!
Bake it! I want some pie right now.
I'm Rachel B and I came to get down.
I'm not internationally known.
But I'm known to whip cream into foam
Cause I get tasty, I mean outrageous,
stay away from me, the calories are dangerous.
Cause I love dinner, you know I'm a winner
If you do the dishes, I'll give you a ten'er.
My hubby loves me, coworkers adore me
They eat right and they never bore me.
I make pie all day long
The reason why, man, I don't know
So let's go, cause
It takes two to make a thing go right
Pumpkin and nuts make it outta sight
It takes two to make a thing go right
Pumpkin and nuts make it outta sight
Cut it!
Check out the other bakers (but give them until Thursday) and show some thankful love!

Random Confession

I don't care for cookies. They have to be really good and pretty much straight out of the oven for me to really like them. Even then, the chances are 50/50.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Apple Cranberry Cobbler

Last week, hubs told me that he volunteered me to make a dessert for his work potluck. Normally, I would have just made my TWD recipe for the week but I wasn't really in the mood to make a pie. So, I searched online and found a recipe for apple cranberry cobbler. It looked easy and sounded DELISH.

I baked one up for his potluck and it smelled so good that I decided to make one for my office, too. It got gobbled up at my work but unfortunately, teacher related duties kept my hubby from his potluck and no one put my cobbler out. So, we ended up with an entire cobbler to eat by ourselves at home! But it was sooo good, the only one complaining is my waistline...

The sweet/tart combo and the amazing sweet biscuity topping was mouthwatering! It was one my favorite things I've made recently and I think it may become a holiday tradition. (PS It goes great with ice cream.)

Apple Cranberry Cobbler
(allrecipes.com/pictures by me)
5 cups thinly sliced peeled tart apples (I used Granny Smiths)
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (I used fresh)
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine (I used butter)

3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter or margarine (I used butter)
1/4 cup milk

In a large saucepan, combine the apples, sugar, cranberries, tapioca, cinnamon, and water. Let stand for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Cook and stir 3 minutes longer.

Pour into a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Dot with butter.

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Stir in milk to form a soft dough. Drop dough by tablespoon fulls over hot apple mixture.

Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until topping in golden brown and a toothpick inserted into topping comes out clean.

If you love sweet/tart things. Make this now. DO IT!

Friday, November 21, 2008

I swear, it was a squeaky door!

In May, our city offices were moved around due to some construction. I lucked out with to a sweet new office which shares a wall with the city attorneys office. See diagram.

Since moving to this office, I have had many embarrassing moments as a result of the door to the attorneys office making a very interesting noise when opening or closing. Outside my office, it sounds like a squeak. But through the wall, it sounds like the world's grossest fart.

Anyone who happens to be meeting with me when the misfortune squeak happens thinks that I have digestive issues and I get strange looks, even giggles. I have tried saying, "gosh that door is loud," which only results in my office guest thinking that I am a huge liar. I can see them trying not to breathe through their nose.

So today, while delivering a contract for review, the door made its ridiculous noise and, thinking I was alone with the admin person, I said "Did you know this door sounds like toots through our shared wall?" She asked me to repeat myself. I said, " this door sounds like toots through our shared wall. I often have guests think I let a giant one rip. I don't have a husband or dog to blame it on around here."

She started laughing. Then I heard from the head attorney's office, a loud male voice say, "sounds like that door needs some oil." I nearly died! I've never even spoken to our City Attorney and now he thinks I am fart obsessed. Great, just great. But, maybe it will get oiled finally and stop freaking people out.
The only problem with fixing the door is ...what will I blame my actual toots on? I won't have a husband, dog or door to blame!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

If loving dishes is wrong...I don't want to be right!

OK, I admit it. I should join dish addicts anonymous. I've always loved kitchen gadget and dishes. Lately, I can't stop dreaming about these dishes!

They are Franciscan's Atomic Starburst and are from the 1950's. I've been in love with them forever and I think I may just have to start collecting them. I envision them proudly displayed in our future home next to the Depression Glass pattern my MIL got me hooked on (Ultra Marine Swirl). Won't they match perfectly?!?

Is there a such thing as dish rehab?

Do you collect anything? If yes, what is it? If no, what do wish you could collect?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TWD: Rice Pudding

Excuse me waiter, there's pudding in my rice! That's how I felt about this week's TWD recipe selection (chosen by Isabelle). I don't know if I have ever had rice pudding before but I don't think it is my kind of dessert. I love rice, especially arborio rice (which is used to make risotto) but, I'm not a big pudding fan.

However, I know that rice pudding is loved by many many people so I figured I would give it try. Thankfully, I checked out the "problems and questions" post and found out there was a typo in the book. I needed to basically double the cooking time.

Overall, the flavor was delish but I just couldn't get past the standard rice pudding texture. Hubs agreed.

I know my cousin is anxiously awaiting the results of the recipe because she is looking for a good rice pudding recipe. I'll give this one a thumbs up for her since it is probably the best rice pudding could taste.

Now, go check out the other bakers. Some of them made a chocolate version!!.You know I'm all vanilla at heart.

PS You know I get inspired by cheesy songs. This week's was:

"Rice Rice Baby"

All right stop, collaborate and listen
Rachel's back with old time tradition
Pudding grabs a hold of me tightly
It flows like a harpoon daily and nightly
Will it ever stop? Yo I don't know
Turn up the amps and I'll go
To the extreme I rock the mix'r like a vandal
Plate up the stuff, serve it classy with candles
Chillin' with my apron low,
Got my do-rag on so my hair won't blow
Hubbys on stand by waiting just just to taste. why?
Do you let him? Nope, I just stroll by
To the extreme my pudding's all ricy
Stick it in the fridge but it's gonna taste dicy.
If there was treat, you know I baked it
Check out the hook, while I put my cake in.

Rice, rice baby!

and Beka makes three...

My sister is coming to live with us. I am so excited! She graduates from HS in June and will probably move out in July so that she has time to get settled and find a part time job before school starts in the fall. I think this will be a very good thing for her (and me). I've been living 1,500 miles away from her for the last six years and I am looking forward to getting to know the (sort of) grown up version of my baby sister.

We still have some details to work out but the decision has been made. Hurray!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

TWD: Kugelhopf

Pronounced: coo gull hoff

I don't know why but that song by Olivia Newton John "Physical" kept running through my head while I worked on this week's recipe. And changing the words to "Let's get kugelhopf, kugelhopf, I want some kuglho-opf, let me see your kugelhopf, your kugelhopf.Let me see your kugelhopf." Just sounded so fun to sing while mixing, rising, slapping, rising, and baking.

The results were OK but in my opinion, not really worth the effort. It was too bread for cake and too cakey for bread. I'm glad I made it and it turned out gorgeous (if I do say so myself) but ::shrug:: it was just meh.

I made mine in a bundt pan since I don't own the turban kind so my kugelhopf is a bit shorter than some people though it totally rose, a lot! I'm a fan of the oven light trick for getting yeasty dishes to rise. For those of you who don't know, you put your pan in the oven and turn on the interior light. The light heats things up just enough to facilitate an excellent (and timely) rise.

Head over to TWD and the results of the other 350 kugelhopf. Yes, we are now nearly 400 strong. CRAZY! Oh, and thanks a bunch to Yolanda for a fun a different pick.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A delicious trifecta

I was looking for pork chop inspiration when I came across a recipe for Italian pork chops. Thinking along those lines, I figured that I might give risotto a shot. I rounded it out with some broccoli. A really long time later, I had one of the best dinners I have made in a while.

I've never made risotto before and I was nervous because I've heard it is a picky dish. It did take some time, but I was really patient with it and it was SO GOOD. Seriously, I might have eaten until I exploded but thankfully, the hubs staged an intervention and saved me from death by cheesy rice. Totally worth the nearly 40 minutes of constant stirring.

The pork chops were basically a version of garlic cheddar chicken but with crackers (not breadcrumbs) and pork. They also look giant because they had a bone in them. But, OMG were they good!

The hubs said this was the best dinner ever. And, I believed him.

Italian Pork Chops (allrecipes.com)
2 cups crushed saltine crackers
1-1/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons Italian-style seasoning
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2/3 cup butter, melted
4 pork chops

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, combine the crushed saltines, Parmesan cheese, Italian-style seasoning and garlic powder and mix together well.
Dip the chops in the melted butter and then dredge each chop in the cracker mixture, coating all sides thoroughly. Place the chops in a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until internal pork temperature reaches 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

Parmesan Risotto
5 to 6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Salt and pepper
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan.
Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan and cook the onion over medium heat, stirring until the onion is golden but not brown--about 3-5 minutes.Add the rice and stir to coat the rice.

Turn the heat to medium-high, add about 1/2 cup of the stock and keep the mixture boiling, stirring constantly. As soon as the stock has been absorbed, add another 1/2 cup of stock and stir. The risotto must keep boiling, but it must not stick to the pot. The whole cooking process may take 25-30 minutes. Once all the stock has been absorbed, and the risotto is tender, remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the butter and Parmesan.

Steamed broccoli
Get some broccoli and steam it until it is tender but still crisp. Yum!

Rugelach - an update

::sigh:: There is no rugelach. It won the battle and the war. I made the dough twice, following the instructions explicitly and I still had goo dough. It was ridiculous. No one else had that problem. Do you think it is too humid in SD for the dough? WTH?!

I'm wondering if it was my flour? I really really want to make this again but I'm taking a cream cheese dough vacation. I'll post about this again once I've succeed.

I'll get you next, Rugelach, next time!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

TWD: Rachel vs. Rugelach - Round 1

My rugelach dough chilled in the fridge for 24 hours. I've been trying to get it to roll out for 2 hours and it's just a sticky, gooey mess.

Baking Battle Score:

Stay tuned! This is going to be a nail biter.

(If you want to know what the heck I am talking about, visit the TWD site and get an education on life in the bake lane.)


As someone who was very close to their grandparents, my heart breaks for BARACK OBAMA whose grandmother has passed away.

I know his grandmother will watch his acceptance speech with pride from heaven. Take comfort Mr President, you will need an angel with you as you lead our country.