Monday, December 29, 2008

TWD: Cheesecake!

This week's TWD recipe, chosen by AnneStrawberry was Dorie's Basic Cheesecake. I've never made a cheesecake before and I was really nervous. I mean, cheesecake is like the dessert, in my opinion. It is either really really good, or not good at all.

Thankfully, despite a few minor glitches, my cheesecake turned out amazing! (If I do say so myself.) Not too sweet, tall and creamy with a crumbly crust - a perfect blend of all things amazing. My most obvious blunder was wrapping just the bottom of the springform pan with foil instead of wrapping the entire pan with foil. Ooops! Thankfully my cake wasn't full of water - like some of the other TWD bakers who did the same thing. Oh, how I wish I had taken photos of the beautiful top and the suprisingly even crust level on the side!

Also, there is a huge hint in this photo as to one of my surprises under the tree this year. I nearly died from shock! I'll be writing a whole post on the holidays - so stay tuned.
Thanks a bunch to AnneStrawberry for choosing the recipe which you can find on her site. I've really enjoyed being a part of TWD this year and look forward to another year of "baked fresh weekly" goodies.

ANNND! Next week's recipe was chosen by our baking goddess. Yes, DORIE chose next week's recipe for us to bake. You'll just have to tune in next Tuesday to see what it is and if I mastered it.

(Click here for my explanation of TWD)

Now, I leave you with this week's song - inspired by my springform pan which didn't want to release my cheesecake:

Mercy (Cheesecake) by Duffy

i love you
and i gotta stay true
your aroma's got me on my knees
im begging please
stop playing games

i dont know what this is
cos you got me good
just like you knew you would
i dont know what you do
but you do it well
I’m under your spell

You got me begging you for cheesecake
why wont you release it
you got me begging you for cheesecake
why wont you release it
I said release it

Now you think that i
would drizzle something on the side
but you got to understand
that i need a treat
that can shine while plain
yes i do

i dont know what this is
cos you got me good
just like you knew you would
i dont know what you do
but you do it well
I’m under your spell

You got me begging you for cheesecake
why wont you release it
you got me begging you for cheesecake
why wont you release it
I said release it

Im begging you for cheesecake
why wont you release it
im begging you for cheesecake
you got me begging
you got me begging
you got me begging

Cheesecake, why wont you realise it
im begging you for cheesecake
why wont you release it
you got me begging you for cheesecake
im begging you for cheesecake
im begging you for cheesecake
im begging you for cheesecake
im begging you for cheesecake
Why wont you release it yeah yeah
break it down

Thursday, December 18, 2008

This made my day!

This! (Though, I am not sure this is a real CHURCH choir...)

It reminded me of my favorite movie of the year, Young at Heart. It's in my top 5 of all time. You should see it!

Monday, December 15, 2008

TWD: There ain't no way!

Um, hi. I will not be able to blog about this week's recipe until at LEAST this weekend. Thankfully, we have a bit of leeway this month or I'd be in deep doo-doo with the TWD gods. ::waving at CB, Nikki, and Laurie!::

Anyway, I am making these cookies. You guys just won't hear about them until I have a chance to write up something special, mkay.

PS - I know I have a few new readers so in case you are wondering, TWD means "Tuesdays with Dorie." It's an online baking club where all the members (400 or so) all bake the same recipe and blog about it on Tuesday. The recipes chosen from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours. If you don't own it, you should get it ASAP. Even the most challenging recipes seem easy peasy coming from Dorie.

OK bye bye for now! Have a great rest of the week everyone. And just for kicks -- here's a little something for you - it's only the best non-religious Christmas song ever!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Do you believe in love at first site?

I do.

You should know that I was very tempted. But, thankfully, I remembered that it is the time for giving to others. Well, that and the fact that I live in San Diego and could probably wear it for three weeks (or less) a year. Oh, but what a fabulous three weeks it would be!

Stop tempting me cozy knits!! Seriously.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Merry Christmas to me!

Look what arrived today!? I purchased this little cutie from Creative Jen and I love it! The monkeys are a lot bigger than I expected but I think I like it better that way.

Now my wreath matches some of my other Christmas decor:

This cutie ornament was made by my friend April. She's the craftiest person I know. Seriously.

Off to monkey around, ya'll!

I have a huge TWD follow up post coming but am not quite finished with it. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Twd linzer sable



Too busy to finish blog tonight. Song and scoop manana!xoxo

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TWD: Linzer Sables

Hi. If you are looking for Linzer Sables, you'll have to come back next week. I hoped to bake up the delicous cookies but I have a terrible cold and I am a big snotty mess. I figured no one would want to eat treats prepared by germy mcgermerson so I'll take a pass and hopefully double up next week, just in time for work holiday potlucks!

This week's selection was courtesy of Dennis from Living the Life, so go check out his page and see what he concocted. (He also has the recipe posted or you can find it in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.) Also, don't forget to visit the blogroll at TWD to see what sables the other 400 members baked up this week.

I'll be back next week with cookies and at least one new song!

Good night and ACHOOOO!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Door update

The (farting) door has been oiled. I'll keep you posted on any funny business coming from the hinges.

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
( 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 (
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.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes

This week's selection for TWD came from my BBB (best blog bud) CB. She's a cupcake freak and I knew this one would be a natural choice for her. I also wasn't surprised when she asked everyone to decorate their cuppys for Halloween since she's so timely and what not.

At first, I was stumped. Then, when watching the news, it came to me! Halloween = scary, right? What is the scariest thing right now? Check out my cuppies to see...

Seriously, I'm freakin' scared about our economy, housing market and stock market. My retirement account is the toilet. Thank goodness I don't need it for 30 years! And I can't even think about Prop 8 passing and a McCain/Palin administration.... ::shudder::

These cupcakes scared the bejebus out of me so much so that I had to hide under my desk, in disguise, so the scary economy monsters couldn't find me.

However, while taking solace in the delightful frightfuls, I was busted...

Oh well. I guess it was worth it. Now if only my IRA retirement account was as rich as these cupcakes, things would be allllll riiight.
About the cuppys: This wasn't my favorite chocolate cuppy recipe but I like it OK and the chocolate lovers at work thought it was delish. But, you all know I'm a vanilla girl at heart.

Check out my other TWD bakers and see all the boo-tiful treats.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TWD: Pumpkin Muffins

Excuse any typos; I'm typing with my toes. My hands are too busy shoving pumpkin muffin in my face to actually type out this blog. I pulled the muffins out of the oven 8 minutes ago and DANG they are delish. The recipe called for sunflower seeds on top but I couldn't find unsalted ones so I skipped them. Also, because my can of pumpkin was giant, I double the batch last minute which required a hodge podge. I used half walnuts and half pecans. I was 3 tablespoons short on the unsalted butter so I subbed 2 tables of regular butter and went 1 tablespoon short. The result? AMAZING, especially with butter on top. Yummola.

Head over to TWD to see how all my other baking buddies fared.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

TWD: Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake

Hi. My name is Rachel and I ate way too much of this week's recipe. I mean, seriously. Wouldn't you want to eat this:

I'm not even much of a chocolate fan but D-A-N-G was this cake good.

The cake was easy peasy and I can't believe I actually made homemade caramel. I mean, hello homemade caramel! I should at least get some kind of award for this.

My hubs and I ate all we could without exploding. I gave a hunk to my neighbor and took the rest to work. It's another winner, for sure and WAY easier than it sounds. You should make this cake now. DO IT!

Major love to Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy for this week's selection. You can find the recipe on her blog. Also, make sure to check out the baked concoctions of my fellow TWD friends, all 300+ of them.

Side note about Tammy. She's is on the other side of the world from me and I remember when she first commented on my blog. I couldn't believe that anyone besides my Mom was reading what I wrote and I did a happy dance in my chair knowing I was connecting with someone so far away. She rocks!

PS I still have to write up last week. I'll do it when I can. TIA for your patience.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Pot Roast Disaster

Tonight, I made my first pot roast. I wasn't exactly sure how to do it and nothing I found online seemed like the way my Mom made it so I called her up. I followed her directions to the "T". I browned the roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Then I put it in the slow cooker with pearl onions, baby carrots, the little potatoes cut in half, some garlic and a cup or so of water. Four hours later, it smelled heavenly and looked like this:

Too bad the meat was like leather. Seriously, it was very very tough. The veggies were delish, though. What did I do? Maybe it was the cut of the meat? Who knows! I may just have to wait until I'm in Big D again to have a decent pot roast. :'(

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Twd rewind soming soon!

I got home super late from work last night so my write up will be done tonight, just under the wire. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TWD: Dimply Plum Cake

This week's recipe was chosen by Michelle of Bake-en. You can find the recipe oh her site.

I have to say that I was really, really looking forward to this cake. I followed the directions perfectly, though my plums were a tiny bit large so I needed fewer of them.

I mixed and poured. I baked and tested. The knife came out clean. Time to cool... 15 minutes later, I unmolded and flipped onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.

About 20 minutes later, I see that there is GOO underneath my cooling rack. I investigate and realize that my entire cake middle has goo'd out of the cake! It was totally raw in the center!!! WTH?!

I double checked all the steps, oven temp, etc and cannot figure out what I did wrong. I was so disappointed as the properly cooked corner tasted delicious and the plums were probably the best I've ever tasted.

What could I have done wrong? :( Here are the pics for your inspection.

before the oven

golden and delicious looking

boo! it's goo!
The only underneath photo I could get before being attacked by goo.

Boo. I hate wasting food, especially nearly $10 in plums! (I did eat some of the baked plums but they were a bit weird with out the cake).

Go check out the other TWD bakers and see how they fared this week.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Three cheers for cheese!

Have you seen this?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hey you -

Things have been hectic for the last few day. But, thankfully... well, this song says it all.

Love you!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oh man, I'm the worst

Hubs took my car to get washed on Saturday because I was busy getting ready for house guests. He's such a sweetie. Today he asks if I noticed that the huge paint scrape down the side of my car had been buffed off. I didn't notice. *gulp* However, in my defense, I try not to look at that side of my car because the paint scrape made me feel bad about driving into the side of the garage. (oopsie!)

I feel terrible for not noticing. My car looks so purdy now. Isn't my hubs so sweet!?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Irish Tale

So, the hubs and I got back from our European vacation about a month ago and I still have so many stories to share. One of my favorites is the story of our first day driving in Ireland.

Hubs and I arrived at Cork airport and retrieved our bags by 5:30 pm. We had to pick up our rental car and drive about 10 miles to our bed and breakfast. We were supposed to check in by 7pm or else. Or else, what I have no idea. Needless to say, we were determined to make it there by 7 pm.

We get to Hertz counter and check out our car. We paid extra for the navigation system and additional insurance (hubs insisted),but decided not to put me on as a driver. In the US, spouses are included free as a driver but apparently that isn't the case anywhere else.

So, we get to our car - a lovely Fiat Punto, and hubs spends about 15 minutes giving himself a pep talk. I didn't blame him one bit since he had never driven on the left. Thankfully, his daily car has a stick shift so that part didn't seem to daunting. After a third damage check (and I think a tire pressure calibration) we were off!

As the navigator, I decided that the directions the B&B emailed us were rubbish and that we should use the navigation. A lovely British accent told us which way to turn and a "bing bong" signaled when do so. We got turned around a few times but didn't worry . We had plenty of time. We handled the highways pretty well and figured out how to deal with round abouts. Things were moving along.

We were with in a mile or so of the B&B when we things went awry. The navigation insisted that we turn left onto a ridiculously tiny road (driveway, more like). The problem was that the road was closed. Bummer. We figured we'd just turn around and try a different way.

Well..hubs shifted the car into reverse. Nothing happened. He tried again. We heard only grinding of gears. He pulled up, he pushed down. Nothing worked. Meanwhile, I'm getting quite nervous as we are in the middle of the street and could get smacked into at any point! After what felt like forever I very calmly said, " Honey, why don't we just turn right into that parking lot and figure out what's up."

He turns right into the lot and proceeds to spend endless amount of time trying to get the car into reverse. It will not go! I'm really starting to sweat (a rare thing for this laid-back lassie) and realize that it is now 6:50. We have to get to the B&B, we can't get into reverse AND we are sort of lost. This is not good. I mention how important it is to get to the B&B and that once we are there, we can call Hertz and let them know our reverse is broken.

I suggest putting the car in neutral and we push the car backwards so that we can turn around. Hubs agrees. I get out and walk around the front to get behind the wheel so hubs can push. That's when hubs reminds me that I am not on the driving account. I start to negotiate with him but can tell by the look on his face that I should just do some pushing.

So, he puts the car in neutral and I start pushing the car backwards so we can get out of the tiny lot. At this point I notice the elderly gentleman in a robe (and nothing else, it appears). I look around and realize that we have pulled into the parking lot of a mental hospital! The pantless gentleman says something about wanting to help us but being too tired. I silently thank the Lord for sedatives.

Finally, after a good work out, the car is facing the proper direction and we try to find our B&B. We turn and our moronic navigation screams "When possible, make an authorized U-turn." It says that about 20 times before I think I hear it sigh. It says "Recalculating route." I seriously want to tell this Mary Poppins lady in my navigation to shut the F up but I don't because I really want to get to the B&B and I think she might be my only hope.

Finally, we take a random turn and end up on the right street. Huzzah! Success at last.!We won't be sleeping in the world's tiniest hatchback tonight!

I can see the B&B. It is seriously the cutest ever. Hubs pulls up to the Fernroyd House. Damn! Parallel parking...I hop out and push the car into the spot. (Wish I had a picture of that one!)

Our hostess pops out and inquires "Are ye staying with us?" We say yes and explain our car issue. She hops in and in about two seconds, shows us what we've been doing wrong. Apparently, there is a tiny tiny ring that you must lift on the stick to get the car to go into reverse. Why the heck no one told us? Who knows! At least it makes for a good story and a good work out. :D

I leave you with a few pictures of Fernroyd House. It was so lovely and the owners Avril and Tony (and their dog, Chippy) were our favorites of the whole trip. It's no wonder they are rated #1 on Trip Advisor for Cork.

Our room
The garden


Monday, September 8, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

Get a load of this:

Drooling yet?

You should be. It was my turn to choose for TWD and I spent hours flipping between a few key recipes before I finally decided on this one. I'm not a huge chocolate fan but I LOVE malt and thought this would be a totally different yet fun recipe to try.

I actually made these twice. The first time, I was determined to take amazing pictures so I could showcase my awesome baking skills, superb photography talents, and really clean (for the photos) kitchen. However, after the cookies were gone far, far away to a potluck in the sky, er, at hubs school, I realized that there was no memory card in the camera. I raised a fist and decided that I'd have to make them again. So I did. The second time around, I made a few adjustments:

1. I got to bake with a good friend I rarely see.
2. I was a little short on chocolate chunks (semi-sweet) so I supplemented with mini chips which gave a fun texture.
3. I used a bit more than 2 cups of whoppers chopped (by my pal) into halves and thirds. I figured, the bigger, the better.
4. I also used regular flavor malt powder and not chocolate like some bakers did. That would have been way too chocolatey for me.

I really liked these cookies. I thought the chocolate flavor was pretty mild and the malt ratio was perfect. However, I got mixed reviews when I took them to work on Monday. Some people said they were too malty. Others said they needed more malt powder. I guess it all depends on how much you like malt. Hubs didn't care for them. Apparently, he doesn't like malt. Yeah, that would have been nice to know 3 weeks ago when I chose the recipe. Oh well, I liked them and that's good enough for me!

I loved how some of the whoppers caramelized, some were in whopper-y and some were in between. They final results were chewy, with a slight crunch and that soda shop taste. DELISH!

Thanks to my fellow TWD folks for baking my choice this week. And a bigger thanks to the blogger who figured out the temperature was to be 350 due to an omission in the book. You rock!

Next week - Claudia from Fool for Food has chosen Chocolate Chunkers. I leave you with some yummy pics and the recipe. Have a great week, all!

Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops
1.75 cups all purpose flour
1 cup malted milk powder
.25 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
.25 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temp.
.66 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
.25 cup whole milk
2 cups (6 ounces) chocolate-covered malted milk balls, coarsely chopped
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or 1 cup store-bought choc chips or chunks

GETTING READY: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Sift together the flour, malted milk powder, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until very smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about a minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don't be concerned in the mixture looks curdled - it will even out when the dry ingredients are added. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear in the the batter. Mix in the milk, then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. The batter will look more like fudge frosting than cookie dough - and that's fine. With the mixer on low, or by hand with a rubber spatula, mix in the malted milk balls and chopped chocolate.
Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonfuls on to the sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between spoonfuls. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 6 minutes. When done, the cookies will be puffed and set slightly but soft to the touch. Let the cookies rest for 2 minutes before using a wide metal spatula to transfer them to the racks to cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.