Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Goo

My mother brought home some sugar pumpkins for us to bake and use for upcoming holiday desserts.

I didn't take pictures of us cutting them open.  Let me tell that was quite a chore.  So darned funny too - my mother kept pulling out different knives for us to try.  In the end what worked best? A chef knife and then smacking it on the counter... count your fingers often!

Cut side down on a sheet pan, 350 degrees for a little over an hour and we got soft pumpkins.
I love the caramelization that happens on the edge.

Let them cool for a bit.

Scoop out the pumpkin flesh.

Then we put them into the food processor with the blade and zipped the stuff around until it was mostly smooth.

Next we put the goo into a strainer lined with cheesecloth.  Set the strainer over a bowl and let sit for an hour.

Five pumpkins a bit bigger than a softball and we got three pounds of pumpkin goo.

Was it worth the extra work over just buying a can of pumpkin?  That remains to be determined.... once I use it for baking I will let y'all know.


Friday, October 05, 2012

Halloween is fast approaching!

Halloween is tied with Christmas for my favorite holiday.  Last year was actually the first time I have thrown a Halloween party.  We have always concentrated on the outdoor decorations and Halloween night.  We had a great time decorating, baking and partying!

Two of my favorite this were the Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla goo and orange 'glass' shards.

And the awesome candied apples.

You can find the recipe for the Red & Black apples at Matt Bites.
What made them even more spooky is we used branches off of our lime tree for the sticks.  They have wicked thorns on them.  (which I carefully dulled the tips on each one.)

Even though we are not hosting another party this year this certainly won't be our last.  I look forward to seeing what all peeeps come up with this year for their spookiness!


And another sister's BDay!

Since I posted about one sister's birthday I better equal post!

My sister Lindsey was working for Habitat for Humanity building a set of houses. She decided that for her birthday to invite friends and family to come to the work site and volunteer whatever time they could to the project on a Saturday.  We brought in food from a fabulous local Mexican restaurant and I made cupcakes.

Made cute flags for the cupcakes that our mother help cut out and assemble.  A design printed on heavy paper, cut out, folded over and glued onto a long toothpick.  A tip - with the pointy flag design - cut the inner triangle out after they are glued and dry. If you try to cut them then glue they will not line up easily.

Our grandmother placing the flags into the cupcakes.  She was so cute making sure each cupcake flavor have the right number of each flag design.

We made three flavors of cupcake.  50/50 ~ Vanilla with orange frosting.

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

And Lindsey's favorite ice cream ~ Mint Chip.  Chocolate cake with a mint and ground chocolate frosting.

It was a yummy fun day!

Happy Birthday Sissy!  (The one in the gray shirt.)


S'more Brownies

You can stuff all sorts of things into brownies... peanut butter cups, peppermint patties, caramels... but what has been a huge hit are my S'more brownies.  This one doesn't come with a recipe because most people either have an awesome scratch recipe or use a box mix. Both will work just fine.

I use a 9"x9" pan that has a removable collar similar to a cheesecake pan. I also put a piece of parchment paper lining the collar.  I have no idea why on earth I didn't with this batch.  Let's blame it on the Shiny Squirrel and move on.

Put about half of your brownie batter in the bottom of the pan.  Layout your graham crackers leaving a bit a space between the crackers and around the edge.  This seems to help hold the brownies together in the end.

Top with a layer of milk chocolate bars.  Growing up we always made our S'mores with plain Hersey bars.  If you used some other brand of chocolate go for it!

Next you need your marshmallows.  I have tried minis and the new flat square marshmallows and have found for the best result the regular-stuff-your-mouth-with-gooey-marshmallows is just right.

Drizzle, blop or spoon the rest of the brownie batter on the top.

Since taking these pictures I have found using a small ice cream scoop to add the top layer of batter works well.  I put a scoop of batter on top of each 'mallow and let is side down the sides.

Bake them!!
Usually it will take a bit longer to get these brownies baked with the additions.  Just keep an eye on them to not burn.

Cool the brownies completely before slicing.  They are best served at room temperature so that the chocolate is melty and the marshmallows are gooey.

Don't use a napkin - lick your fingers!


Thursday, October 04, 2012

No-Knead Crusty White Bread

Love, love and really love the blog and recipes over at King Arthur Flour.
For those that are new to baking to those that are old hats - there is something for everyone.

I love to make bread but get board with the kneading.  Yeah I know - want great bread then you got to need the knead.  Then I saw this recipe and the spot light turned on and the choir sang a nice ahhhhhhhh...

I am putting the basic recipe here but I encourage you to go and read the whole recipe that includes further explanations and useful tips for making this bread.

You ready for the gosh darned easiest bread?!  Ok ... go!

No_Knead Crusty White Bread

24 ounces lukewarm water (warm - not ouch hot - 105°ish)
2 pounds King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour*
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast

Put all the ingredients into your bowl - my Kitchen Aid I love you! Beat at medium speed with the beater blade for 30 to 60 seconds. If you don't have a mixer, just stir with a wooden spoon  until everything is mixed.  It will be a sticky dough.

Move the dough to a large bowl or bucket.  Cover the bucket, and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours.

Then refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, or for up to about 7 days. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it'll get; if you chill it for 7 days, it will taste like sourdough. Over the course of the first day or so, it'll rise, then fall. That's OK; that's what it's supposed to do.

When you're ready to make bread, sprinkle the top of the dough with flour; this will make it easier to grab a hunk. Grease your hands, and pull off about 1/4 to 1/3 of the dough. It'll be about the size of a softball.

Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Then sift a light coating of flour over the top.  Let the dough just rest there for about 45 minutes to an hour.  It won't get tall but might expand a bit.

While it is resting preheat your oven to 450° F. Place a shallow metal or cast iron pan (not glass or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go. I use one of those Marie Callender pie tins from back when they charged you a deposit of 15 cents on the tins - I am getting my 5 cents worth!

When you're ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the bread 2 or 3 times, making a cut about 1/2" deep. The bread may deflate a bit; that's OK, it'll pick right up in the hot oven.

Put the bread in the oven, and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It'll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.

Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until it is a nice golden brown.  Then move it to a rack to cool.

Ok where is the soft butter?


Pineapple Upside Down Minis

 My sister Jennifer celebrated her 40th birthday this year.
She wanted a dessert table. da da daaaa!  Call sissy!
Tropical theme and she decides that a Pineapple Upside Down cake for each guest would be great.  Oh and a few other things too.  Minis, we made minis.

Makes 24+ cupcake sized minis*

3/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 (20 oz) can pineapple slices**
Maraschino cherries, halved

1 pkg Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix***
1 (3.4 oz) pkg vanilla instant pudding
4 large eggs
1 cup pineapple juice (from the canned pineapple)
1/2 cup oil

Preheat oven to 350°F.

For topping, mix melted butter and brown sugar. Generously grease your cupcake pan.  Spoon the brown sugar mixture into the pans.  Now lay in the slices of pineapple.  I found in the regular size cupcake pan 3/4 of a slice fit perfectly.  Add your half of maraschino cherry.  Set aside.

For cake, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, juice and oil in large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Spoon batter over fruit in the pans so that it is about 2/3 full.

Good idea to set the pans onto a cookie sheet for baking - the topping may bubble up and drip a little bit.  Bake at 350 ºF for 15-20 minutes hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Once done wait 3 minutes then run a knife around the edges to loosen the minis. Invert onto a wire rack with a tray under it or a serving plate.  Wait for just a moment then lift the pan straight up with a little wiggle.  If some of the pineapple stays in the pan quickly - be careful extremely hot! - place onto the mini that is missing its piece.

You can serve hot or let cool.

*With this recipe I made 24 cupcakes.  I had left over batter that I cooked without the "topping" in a 8" round. You could increase the butter to 1 cup and the brown sugar to 2 cups to make about 36 cupcake sized minis.

**Check how many slices are in the can you purchase to go with how many minis you will be making.  Also chucks work but are much thicker.  I found that three chunks sliced in half (six pieces) fit well.

*** You can also use a pineapple flavored cake mix.

Printer friendly recipe here.

We also made mini Lemon Berry Trifles, Pistacio cake, and mini Coconut Cream pies.
It was a great party!  Happy BDay Sis!


Apple Crisp

We love Crisps Cherry, Berry, even Apple.  Slightly warmed with a scoop of creamy melty vanilla ice cream.  
Crisps are easy and quick to put together, transportable and you usually have everything needed in your kitchen.

We got a large batch of apples.  Time to make our Crisp.

Love my peeler, corer, slicer!

10 cups apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I like to use Granny Smith) 
1/2 cup white sugar 
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 cup water 

1 cup quick-cooking oats 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1 cup packed brown sugar 
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 cup butter, melted 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degree C). 
Place the sliced apples in a 9x13 inch pan. Mix the white sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Pour water evenly over all. 
Combine the oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture. 
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 45 minutes. 

Makes 12 servings.

Printer friendly recipe here.

One to eat.
One to freeze.
One to share.


Just stuff...

I am moving some of my recipes over to this blog... trying to get organized.  So that is why you will see a bunch of posts on the same day - no, I did not make all those in one day. Ha!  Please keep in mind that I am not a photographer.  Many times the pictures are taken with my cell phone when I remember to snap an image.

Also I joined the baking group The Cake Slice.  So looking forward to baking with this group!  Click the badge on the right side to check out their site.

A note from the group’s moderator: “As this was our last cake from our current cake book, we are now opening up group to fellow cake baking enthusiasts who wish to bake with us for the upcoming year. Places are limited and you will need to buy a copy of the new cake book to participate, so dedicated bakers only please. Anyone wishing to join us can email Paloma at ( along with their name, blog name, blog URL and email address for details. Please put ‘New Cake Slice Member’ in the subject box.”


Jammin' & Cannin'

Just a quick peek at the yumminess we put into jars...

We got 18 cups of juice and pulp from the blackberries we picked all summer long in our backyard.

Peach Pie jam was made.

Along with Blackberry, Triple Berry. Strawberry, Rainier Cherry, Bing Cherry and even some Apple Pie ice cream topping.  Ninety six jars when done.

Then it was onto the pickles.

The guys love garlic dills ~ so that is what they get!

Stuff the jars full.

Now we just have to wait patiently for eight weeks...