Saturday, December 19, 2009

Daring Bakers December!!

I'M BACK!!!!! Yay! Lucian is now 10 weeks old and doesn't need to be held and cuddled quite as much and I'm not nearly as tired as I was, so I'm back in action on the Daring Bakers Scene. Woot!
For those of you not on my other blog, here is a gratuitous picture of my handsome little man!

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.


I was so excited for this one. I was gonna have a friend here in Germany help me decorate them since she'd been having a rough month, then it got even rougher and we decided to cancel. Instead the husband and I decorated them one night in all our Christmas goodness. We had a TON of fun!! I used Y's recipe since I didn't have molasses in the house. I thought it turned out great and didn't have any problems at all, although I know that others had both dryness and shrinkage to combat.

Y's Recipe:
Scandinavian Gingerbread (Pepparkakstuga)
from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas

1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]
1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cloves ( I will admit that since I accidentally bought whole cloves and had no way to grind them I just used allspice as it's kind of a little bit similar. Lol)
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ cup boiling water
5 cups all-purpose flour [875g]

1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.

2. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.

3. Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place. ( My patterns were on the paper there. I forgot to take pictures)

4. [I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.]

5. Preheat the oven to 375'F (190'C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet

My pieces didn't end up shrinking at all, but I did forget to trim the edges after cooking so they weren't perfectly square. Also When we built them we both put our side walls inside the gabled walls rather than the other way around so the roof ended up too short. We made it work though and may have jammed some marshmallows and/or anything else we could find in the gap =) We're a resourceful people! My royal icing was slightly runny which was totally my fault since I may not have actually measured my powdered sugar and instead just sort of added it as I felt inspired. I'm like that. Be afraid. We also used simple sugar to glue it all together!My husband made a "Door for his bitches" aka a doggy door lol

Sunday, November 15, 2009

pumpkin cupcakes!

Haven't been cooking too much on my own lately. Husband has been making most dinners so I can feed/ cuddle baby boy! I found this recipe though and let me just tell you it it beyond easy and its delicious! 3 ingredients...thats all!

1 box yellow (or spice or even chocolate?) cake mix
1-15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

mix, fill muffin pan, bake at 350* for 20-25 min.

And You're done!

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg + 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice --------------------------------------------------
= 1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Sunday, September 27, 2009

September Daring bakes make puff pastry.

Sorry folks no pictures this time. My laptop has bit the I have no access to a computer that accepts whatever the little memory card out of the camera is called. You'll have to survive.

On to the challenge. Making homemade puff pastry. And using the to make homemade Vols aux Vents. Not a fail...not a success. They rose...a little. I did enjoy making them though. Quite a bit. Like others have reported they were super buttery and greasy while in the oven. You could literally see them bubbling away. Not so healthy but delicious. May have been my fault since I halved the recipe and baked them out of memory because I didn't have access to the laptop to check the directions. Overall a fun challenge and the pastry was DELICIOUS! I had high hopes of filling them with ham, asparagus, and some hollandaise. Instead they got sugar free whipped cram and strawberries. Not so gourmet but yummy regardless. We're gonna see how ift goes if I attempt them in the future. And I will post a post with the recipe and pictures hopefully once the computer is fixed.

Happy September. Hopefully next month I'll have a new born to help me =)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Banana pancakes!

There are no pictures of this deliciousness...a.) they looked like, SURPRISE, pancakes! and b.) I was starving. I realize that as I female in her ninth month of pregnancy I am pretty much always starving. But I ate mine up real quick and then froze the left overs for some post baby breakfasts with ease.

Ok on to the story...and the recipe...=)

I am a die hard Taste and Tell fan. Low and behold I see a pretty picture of some banana waffles with a link to the recipe at Cafe Zupas. Apparently it's National Waffle Week. Who knew? Well, I have some bananas in the freezer but since I shouldn't be eating too many carbs since they make my blood sugar high and blah blah blah Banana bread is probably not the best idea. I don't own a waffle maker though. Crap. Oh well...I followed the like to Cafe Zupas anyway just to see what it looked like and if I could make pancakes out of it without too much trouble. I find the recipe they well as a little tag saying that they adapted it from a recipe on Epicurious. Hmmm. Now I want to go look at the original recipe and see what they changed! All this for a recipe for banana pancakes. Now mind, that by this time I have a craving and we ARE eating banana pancakes . End of story.

So off to Epicurious I go in search of the original recipe. BINGO!

Not actually all that different from the recipe at Cafe Zupas. Regardless, it's for....PANCAKES!! Not waffles! YAY! So I definitely made me and the husband some delicious banana pancakes.

Banana Pecan Cornmeal Pancakes

  • 1 very ripe medium banana (about 1/2 pound) **I ended up using 2 what I would consider medium bananas to get 1/2 pound**
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt **left it out on accident, but didn't really miss it**
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup pecans, toasted lightly and chopped **None on hand, would be good with them, but I wasn't crushed**
  • vegetable oil for brushing griddle **Used butter and only for the first batch**

Chop banana and in a blender blend with all remaining pancake ingredients except pecans and oil. Transfer batter to a bowl and stir in pecans. **I just poured my batter directly out of the blender since I didn't use the nuts.**

Heat a griddle over moderate heat until hot enough to make a drop of water scatter over surface and brush with oil. Working in batches, drop scant 1/4-cup measures of batter onto griddle to form pancakes about 4 inches in diameter and cook until bubbles appear on surface and undersides are golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip pancakes with a metal spatula and cook until undersides are golden brown and pancakes are cooked through, about 1 minute.

Serve pancakes with syrup.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Zuchinni bake!

Tonight while I was contemplating how to use the final bit of chicken from the whole one I'd roasted, I stumbled upon this. I am a fan of zucchini. I like to eat it in bread or muffins or sauteed up with onions and mushrooms. I will gladly eat it that way for the entire zucchini season. "It's a nice recipe," I thought to myself. After some more thinking, I decided that since we don't eat bacon all that often and I don't keep any in the house, what about my left over chicken?!?! Brilliant! Ooooooh. Yum!

I followed her recipe decently for myself. Translate that as I used to same ingredients...kind random amounts. =) I'm like that, I admit it. Here is what I made.

1 medium Zucchini (not a baby one, but not grand daddy Z either. ), grated.
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 vine ripened tomato, diced
1 1/2 chicken breast, diced
5 eggs
3/4 (ish) cup flour (I added it in smaller amounts until it was a nice consistancy. lol)
1 tsp baking powder (again...more of an eyeball amount)
Mrs. Dash!

Mix it all up in a bowl and this amount filled a 9x9 perfectly. Bake at 400* for 35-45 minutes.

Husband ate his with Salsa. I just put some butter on mine kind of like a baked pancake type deal. LOVED IT! Will totally be making it again. Soon. Like tomorrow. I'm pregnant I can do what I want. =D

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Daring Baker's Dobos Torte!

Second Daring Baker's challenge for me! Woot! Everyone do a little happy dance now. =)

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and
Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

Didja get that? I'm making a torte from Eastern Europe. How cool?!? And to think, soon after making it I'll actually be in the Czech Republic for a few days vacation with the husband. Good planning ladies, you picked just the right dessert for my schedule.

Back to the baking. A traditional Dobos torte is 5 layers (of course you can find recipes with lots more layers if you look) of sponge cake with chocolate butter cream frosting and caramel on top. YUM! The original was created in 1885, by a man named József C. Dobos, who kept his recipe secret until he retired in 1906 and then shared it for all to enjoy. Lorraine and Angela were nice enough to give the Daring Baker's a lot of leeway with alterations to the basic recipe including using egg-less butter cream (I took full advantage of this for baby's safety), shape of the cake, flavor variants, and nuts or no nuts. Some bakers took full advantage of the leeway, while I stuck pretty close to the original flavors and made a nice pretty square cake.

Since this recipe included so many steps, I'm just going to link you to the Daring Baker's homepage where you can find pictures of others work as well as the recipe once the reveal date has passed.

Sponge cake--
I halved the given recipe and only used one pan to make it so mine was quite thick. Since I was waiting until the last minute I figured it'd be ok If I cheated a little and had thick sponge cake vs. tiny little layers. Kudos to all those patient enough for the tiny layers. You deserve a medal.

Butter cream--
I used an egg-less recipe I had laying around.
1 stick softened butter
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar (add more if needed)
about 1/3 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Put in a bowl and mix! Not rocket science, but it works for me. And it's delicious!

Halved the recipe again. Not a fan of the lemon in it, maybe I just didn't let it get dark enough, but it remained sticky and pretty flexible. I was worried about burning it to my pan since I didn't want to actually have to scrub so could have been my fault. Although if I had used it to coat a piece of the sponge cake like directed it might have been perfect? Who knows! Needless to say, I forgot to take pictures of it before it graced my cakes top.

Finished product--
Oh my! It was delicious! Not sickeningly sweet, but just right. I ended up with two little square cakes, one with nuts and one without, and put them in the freezer since husband and I are leaving this morning for a few days in Czech (the army hasn't said no so we're just assuming they mean yes. Stupid army anyway.) I did snitch a piece for breakfast just to make sure it tasted ok, and boy howdy does it! Definitely would make this again, probably without the caramel since I'm not a fan, but overall, not as hard as I predicted it would be and it was perfect for a little light snack cake. Good choice ladies!! See you all next month.

Caramel and chocolate
Cashews, caramel, and chocolate.
My breakfast the day after. It was AWESOME!

The inside cut. Three chubby spongecake layers each.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Daring Cooks--August

Dear Daring Kitchen gods,

Please never ask/tempt me to prep an artichoke heart by myself.

Thank you,

This month Olga from Olga's recipes brought to us a wonderful dish created by Jose Andres. he hosts the TV show Made in Spain as well as owning a few restaurants in the Washington, DC area. Her dish of choice is......Rice with Cuttlefish, mushrooms, and Artichokes! Thank you Olga for the chance to play around with a wonderful looking seafood dish.

Since we all know (by we all, I mean me lol) that I follow recipes oh so well, I'll include my ministrations in blue. As well as my best attempts at some pretty pictures.

Here we goooooooo....

Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4):

--4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or frozen if fresh are not available) I made a valid attempt to use a fresh one. I really did. Maybe I just bought a crap artichoke, but it honestly ended up a total waste of money by the time I had mauled the thing to death and gotten not very much heart out of the deal.
--12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello) I used a giant white one.
--1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
--1 glass of white wine She said in a later update that she meant somewhere around 1/3 cup. I just dumped some in. A couple
--2 Cuttlefish (you can use frozen cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh) Found frozen squid, but only in a 5 pound package. No way do I need that much squid on hand. I chose to use scallops. I like scallops.
--“Sofregit” (see recipe below)
--300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices. I used brown rice. Gestational diabetes limited me here, and brown rice is a little better than white so it's what I used.
--Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
--Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
--Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) - optional


  1. Cut the cuttlefish in little strips. I used smaller bay scallops so no cutting was needed.
  2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
  3. If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video. Cut artichokes in eights. I repeat. Failed miserably.
  4. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
  5. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
  6. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
  7. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish. I dumped some in a couple times. I like white wine in food. Don't hate. Gotta get my alcohol however I can for another couple months.
  8. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
  9. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
  10. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
  11. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon. Skipped this step completely. No way am I buying Saffron in Euro since that'd be uber expensive.
  12. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
  13. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.
Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)-

Cooking time
: approx. 1 hour

Ingredients: I didn't make near as much of this as this recipe made.

--2 tablespoons of olive oil
--5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped Only used one
--2 small onions, chopped Used 1/2 cup maybe?
--1 green pepper, chopped (optional) nada
--4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped forgot it when shopping...used minced. I slack I know.
--1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
--1 Bay leaf
--Touch of ground cumin
--Touch of dried oregano


  1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
  2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)
And since I forgot to buy garlic while shopping I was missing an essential Allioli ingredient (It's made up of garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice. Mostly Garlic.) Luckily it was an optional component so my little (read large) pregnant self was not forced to get back in the car and go shopping again.

So Let me say that this was DELICIOUS! Both the husband and I loved it. While I didn't follow the recipe exactly, I tried to stay within the spirit of the dish. I know my pictures don't do it justice. Give it a shot. Not as hard as it seems. Most of it is just letting it cook on the stove while you wash the dishes and sweep the floor and scrub the fridge out. Don't like artichokes? Use asparagus! Not a fan of seafood or allergic? Try some chicken and chorizo! I'm hoping that the sofregit can be made in large batches and frozen since I loved it. Serve it over pasta (If I'm ever allowed to eat it again, or on crispy bread. Or as a sauce over some tilapia.) I have plans for this one! Delicious and worth the effort (other than that freaking artichoke.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I grew up on a small little farm in the state of New York. We had apple trees and peach trees and plums and cherries and berries and currants and rhubarb. They had all been planted by someone, but by the time I came around they just were sort of there. I loved eating anything that I could get my hands on. We made black cap (black raspberries to some) shortcake and rhubarb crisp and elderberry pie. And my grandfather had made a neat little tool out of a lacrosse stick a V of metal and a broom handle that we used to pull down the ripe plums and peaches that were out of reach. He was a crafty guy. Needless to say I still have a great fondness for all things fresh and off random trees, bushes, etc. This may be one of my favorite parts of Germany. Not all the fruit trees are "claimed." There is a whole row of plum trees on a path near our home that isn't harvested by anyone. They are up for grabs. And I am only to willing to grab them. Mind you they aren't giant like store plums, closer instead to the size of a large cherry, the are nonetheless DELICIOUS! If you ever have a chance to eat some...DO IT! I leave you with the fruits of my labor. Not all the fruits. Just some of them actually. Lol.

Monday, July 27, 2009

July Daring Bakers Challenge!

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

As this was my first daring bakers challenge, I decided that maybe some restraint was in order. So since making only one of the cookies was an option, I made my husband decide which he wanted. He chose.....the Milans! I would have rather had the marshmallow ones, but since I'm the baker in the house I can make them whenever I have the urge. I've never been part of a baking/cooking challenge of any sort and at 22 thought that this was the right time to get involved! I apologize for my crummy pictures sense photography is far from my forte, but hey, nobody's perfect.

Milan Cookies
**Recipe courtesy of Gale Gand from the Food Network website**

350* oven for 10 minutes

--12 Tbsp unsalted, softened butter
--2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
--7/8 cup egg whites (about six eggs) **I bought egg whites in a carton and actually measured out 7/8 cup**
--2 Tbsp vanilla extract
--2 Tbsp lemon extract
--1 1/2 cup all purpose flour

--1/2 cup heavy cream
--8 oz semisweet chocolate chopped **I used semisweet chocolate chips**
--1 orange zested

Cream together butter and sugar with a paddle attachment. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts **While 4 Tbsp of extract seemed like a lot, I followed the recipe, and they tasted fine, not overly lemony** Add the flour and mix until just well mixed. With a small (1/4 inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment paper lined sheet pan, spacing 2 inches apart as they spread. **I don't have pastry bags here, I think I mistakenly left them in the states when we moved to Germany, so I followed the advice of another baker and used a spoon to make "appropriately" sized cookies. I failed miserably, and think it would have worked much better if I'd followed directions.** Bake in a 350* oven for 10 minutes or until they're light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan. While waiting for cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium heat, scald cream. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl. Whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well. Set aside to cool. (The mixture will thicken as it cools.) Spread a thin line of the filling onto the flat side of the cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

These were my cookies on their way into the oven.
I thought they were plenty far apart, I was wrong. They didn't form one giant cookie, but they tried hard. None of them kept their pretty shape. All the edges were bumpy and not so smooth. Meh, life goes on, who really likes pretty cookies anyway? The large ones were the cookies that made it off the pan without running into each other. The little ones on the bottom are about an inch long egg shaped cookie cutter that I used to make the cookies that had not survived the oven in good shape. See? Here is the excess cookie that I cut off to make my pretty little oval Milans. "Full size" milan and some little baby ones so you can compare. Not so impressive pictures, but overall they tasted good. The filling was delicious and I saved the extra to make the husband a special treat with my cookie discards. The cookies were slightly shiny and somewhat sticky. Maybe I used a little too much powdered sugar? Possible. Great first challenge and I'm super excited to take on the next one.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Oh how things change.

I started this blog about a week ago for all my food exploits. Since that day, my computer bit the dust and I have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I do have some posts waiting to be posted (No that anyone other than me currently reads this) whenever my laptop is returned to me. Until then, wish me luck as I start watching my diet even more carefully and hopefully make it through the remainder of my pregnancy with a well controlled issue.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I have another blog over at here, but decided that they may not give a hoot about my food explorations and bonanzas. And MRE vs Me was born. For the non military out there an MRE is a meal ready to eat. Possibly the sketchiest food ever created to feed out husbands, brothers, sisters, mothers as they go of to do their duty. Hopefully I can beat MRE's hands down...even on the bad days. Wish me luck and here goes nothing!