join our local food experiment

fun tutorials!

peanut butter blogroll :: a rotating list of inspiring blogs

Sunday, June 29, 2008

 

cookie carnival :: june round-up!

it's so exciting to have so many people participate this month! thanks to each and every one of you who baked the Doodles. i so much enjoyed getting your emails and photos.

so, let's get to it! i have to say. . . i enjoyed the cookies, but i wasn't all ga-ga over them. i know people who think they are the king of cookies. and they're good. they are a solid, real, honest-to-goodness cookie. but, at the heart, they are just a sugar cookie. which isn't a bad thing. it's just sorta. . . so-so. if i'm going to have a sugar cookie i prefer the Vanilla Bean Thins we did back in April. i think those had a little more character and were sort of more sophisticated, i guess. that being said, i'd make the doodles again. they were tasty with coffee, that's for sure!


here is the recipe brought to you by martha stewart.

INGREDIENTS

* 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

* 2 teaspoons
cream of tartar (what the frack is cream of tartar, anyway?)
* 1 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup pure vegetable
shortening
* 1 3/4 cups sugar, plus more if needed
* 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
, plus more if needed
* 2 large eggs


DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven. Line baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
2. Sift together
flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine.


3. In a smal
l bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use a small (1 1/4-ounce) ice-cream scoop to form balls of the dough, and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown), about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after 5 minutes. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

and here's all the folks who participated. if you sent me a photo, it's placed *above* your entry.


first up (in no particular order) is sihan of
Fundamentally Flawed. you must visit her blog and read her post if for no other reason than the baby tigger situation. go see if you wanna know what i'm talking about.


next is jen of Delightful Delicacies.
check her post for the story of how she was sung to from a conga line! ha! fun.

megan of My Baking Adventures baked along with us and she wonders what i think when i get her emails (she's an infamous recipe fiddler). i
usually think, "hooray! megan's getting creative!" she added coffee to her doodles. check out her post to read how that went for her.

brook from And a Cookie For Dessert (great blog name) joined in and baked up some
snickerdoodly goodness. here is a bit of what she had to say about this recipe, "Nice and chewy with the perfect mix of sugar and spice from the cinnamon. " read the rest of her post here.


pam of Cookies with Boys is up next. clearly she is a cookie enthusiast and will no doubt fit right in here. here's a little snippet of her post. "They smelled really enticing and they looked alluring when they came out of the oven." read the rest here.

stephanie from Confessions of a City Eater is next and she has the most beautiful pink
ribbon'd cookies ever. here's a bit of her post, "This particular recipe was great...the cookies were crispy and chewy at the same time. Within 10 minutes of them being out of the oven, we ate half of them." read the rest of her post here.

stacy of Simply Tasty played along this month and her post cracks me
up because it goes into detail about her aversion to shortening. and i'm right there with her. no likee. read her post here.

temperance of High on The Hog didn't get the
crackly tops she was looking for, but seemed to like the cookies despite their flaw. read her post here.


hoooooraaaaay! kitty of Boring History Girl has participated quite a few times and and hasn't had an easy time of it, but this time she KICKED snickerdoodle ass! go, kitty. we knew you could do it. check her post here.


afoneleri of Camcupcakes had never heard of a Snickerdoodle before, but ended up cranking out some good little treats.
read her post here.

april of Abby Sweets got to give her hubby a treat with these--his fave. read her post here.

holly of PheMOMenon made hers a
little different and added M&M's! yum! i love that holly participates in my little food event. her emails are delightful to get. she's always cheerful. read her post here.


hannah of Ma Baker's Blog has also never had a snickerdoodle. but she baked herself up a fine batch of them! read her post here.

*side note* we need to get some guys baking with us, don't we? looooootta gals in here....

megan of Megan's Cookin' had this to say, "
These cookies were so soft and chewy. I'm eating one right now for breakfast research. When I asked the hubby for his opinion, he said "Mmmm, there so chewy and, and, Mmmmm!" she's always a fun one to have carnivaling with us. read her post here.


Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake wins for most fun photography. she also dug up some info on the usage of cream of tartar in the recipe as well as some history on the Snickerdoodle. fascinating!
read her post here.

carrie of Carrie's Sweet Life is new to the carnival and i certainly hope she sticks around. read her post here.



hygeia of Phamished had this to say, "Snickerdoodles are a great cookies to share. They are easy to make, no special ingredients are required, and everybody likes them!" read the rest of her post here.


and finally cat of creating with cattitude (LOVE the blog name) joined in this month
had this to say, "Today's cookie has a twist, it has been dunked into a cinnamon-sugar mixture thus calling it the Snickerdoodle." read the rest of her post here.

that's all folks! soon, i'll be emailing you with the cookie for july. until then, something i have been wondering. . . in your mind, would a bar be fair game for a cookie carnival? i'm thinking it is (especially given that many cookbooks lump them together in one section-- cookies and bars). what do you think?

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

 

summer lovin' :: grilled pizza!

i've always loved pizza. and really, who doesn't? it's got something for everyone--bread, cheese, tomato sauce and the rest is up to you.

last summer i decided it was time i learned how to make pizza dough. really good pizza dough. i had made many "sort of okay" doughs in the past, but now i wanted to step it up. and i wanted to grill it. because, lordy, i was 7 months pregnant and it gets hot here in New England and there is no need for heating the oven. and also, i was having *major* pizza cravings. so, i went for it. i tried and tested and came up with a good dough and a great method for grilling. and i ate a LOT of pizza.

turns out, it was not just the pregnancy making me want the cheesy goodness. cause we've declared every friday around here, "Pizza Friday!" (and trust me, there ain't no baby coming). every morning me and my son get up, get dressed, have breakfast and make the dough! it's so fun and we can almost do it in our sleep now.

one of my favorite attributes of pizza is that i can customize it to fit my latest food whim....or base it on whatever is coming home from the CSA farm.

lately i'm all about the tomatoes (no sauce), fresh garlic, fresh chopped basil, mushrooms of any kind, spinach and fresh mozz'. seriously, I could eat it for breakfast. . . and if there's leftovers, I often do.

pizza making can intimidate folks. i'm not sure why. maybe it's the prospect of making ones own dough that does it. there are certainly many a'grocery store who carry pre-made dough. but it's not even close to tasting as great as home made.

maybe it's that the picture they have in their heads is of a suave Italian guy tossing a big, round dough disk perfectly in the air while they feel too clumsy for that kind of kitchen move.

or maybe, like me, they just hadn't figured out how to get the dang thing to not stick to the pizza stone. It's not hard. really--i'll prove it.

PIZZA DOUGH
No air tossing necessary.

Makes 2 10" pizzas
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bread flour, plus a little more, about 2 tablespoons
1 tsp. instant yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup room temperature water
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Begin this process at least 6 hours before you want to roll the dough out--overnight is best. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, yeast and sugar. Whisk as you pour the salt in (it shouldn't come into contact with the yeast).



2. Make a well in the center and pour water in slowly, gradually stir the flour into the water until all the flour is incorporated and a dough begins to form. It'll still be quite sticky and

rough, but don't over mix it--gather it together and drop it onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently just for 2 minutes (no more!) until the dough is gathered and somewhat smooth.


3. Let it rise! Pour the olive oil into a clean bowl, add the dough. Turn the dough over so that it's covered in oil. Cover the bowl tightly. If you are planning to use the dough right away, let it sit at room temperature for an hour. If you will be using it 6 hours or more later, let it sit 45 minutes at room temp, then put it in the refrigerator. Take it out 30-45 minutes (depending on how warm your kitchen is!) before you wish to bake it.

next time--rolling, shaping and grilling!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 19, 2008

 

muffins :: tricks and tips

today i'm offering some tips and tricks for making good muffins. i've practiced a lot!
i'm a little muffin crazy lately. this a a great time to make berry-filled muffins because the berries are coming into season, but it's not yet so hot that you feel like you can't bake.

so, here are some tips for making the best muffins you can no matter what the recipe!

TIPS and TRICKS for SUCCESSFUL MUFFIN-MAKING

:: how to make nice, high-domed muffins like the ones at your favorite bakery--it's easy. most recipes call for your muffin tin to be 2/3 full, which is just not going to suffice. fill it to nearly full instead. if you end up with empty tins, just fill them half full with water before baking. you also want to kick the heat up a bit. yes, it's controversial. most recipes call for a 350 oven or 375, but if you set it to 425 you'll see a big difference. the higher temp creates more steam, which puffs the top of the muffin and quickly sets it at the same time. the key is: after 6-7 minutes, lower the temperature back down to whatever was called for.

:: most attempts at really good muffins fail because of over-mixing. for your best shot at success, always mix the dry ingredients together, then mix the wet ingredients together then combine the 2 when you are ready to bake. stir with a spatula or wooden spoon, and don't even think about an electric mixer. most importantly only mix until just combined! keep it lumpy, people, you'll thank me.

:: don't forget that you can quell your craving for muffins easily by combining and storing the dry ingredients. big time saver down the road!

Labels: , ,

 

muffins :: the other berry

it's one of my favorite times of year right now. strawberry season. we belong to a CSA farm and for 2 weeks we have gotten 2 quarts of fresh-picked, native strawberries. um. . . . YUM!! now, for the most part these little beauties don't make it into recipes at all, they just get chomped as they are--fresh, sweet and amazingly more wonderful than what the grocery stores call "strawberries." we use them in smoothies a lot, as well.

and when we have more than we can handle (sometimes I buy extra, because, heck, this is the only time of year I can get 'em) i put them into muffins. similar to the blueberry muffin, being a summer fruit and all, but sometimes you want something different.

i recommend this recipe. and stay tuned for some helpful muffin-making tips!

STRAWBERRY MUFFINS

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk (soy or cow's)
1 stick butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups strawberries, diced (throw in another 1/4 cup if you want ‘em more berrie'd)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin cups with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

3. In a small bowl, beat milk, butter, vanilla and egg until blended. Add to the flour mixture; stir until just combined. Gently fold in strawberries.

4. Spoon into muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

 

fathers day :: chocolate ice cream!

my hubby is into the ice cream. where i am a sort of seasonal ice cream eater, he can eat it in the middle of the winter. makes me too cold!

i love to make ice cream, so i thought that for his dad's day bbq, i'd make some. so, me and the boy did just that. chocolate ice cream for dad. and grampa.

now, the sad part of this blog post is that i took pictures, but sort of forgot to take any of the process or even one of the actual scoop in a dish looking all delectable. so, instead....

here's one of the boy checking out the machine and how it works.



here's one of the custard read to be chilled.



and one of the mess we made.



and finally, here is one of the leftovers.


yeah, it's not all that pretty, but it sure was tasty!!! next time i promise to do better photography.

hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating the dads in your life!

recipe by williams-sonoma:

CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
    (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the half-and-half until bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until smooth and blended.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until blended. Slowly add the chocolate cream, whisking constantly until fully incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the top pan of a double boiler. Set the pan over but not touching simmering water in the bottom pan. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until a finger drawn across the back of the spoon leaves a path, 10 to 12 minutes; do not allow the custard to boil. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl and stir in the vanilla. Nestle the bowl in a larger one filled halfway with ice and water. Cool the custard, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze until firm, 3 to 4 hours, before serving.

Makes about 1 quart.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 

cupcakey treats :: in over my head

for the previously mentioned bake sale i also baked some cupcakes. i have this awesome book that i just adore called "The Whimsical Bakehouse: fun to make cakes that taste as good as they look" and i wish that i could bake cakes and decorate them like the WB does. they are so colorful and fun and just amazing to look at. i've tried a few of the techniques over the years. mostly for my son's bday cakes. maybe sometime i'll post pics of them.

amazon.com knows i love the book, so it kindly informed me when there was a new one by the same folks. it's called Little Cakes From The Whimsical Bakehouse: Cupcakes, Small Cakes, Muffins and other Mini Treats.
so, i requested it from our local library right away. had to check it out and can't afford to buy all the cookbooks i want, so i get them from the library often. when i got it i was not disappointed. it's as beautiful and whimsical as the first. i loved it.

i made their vanilla cupcakes and house buttercream, decorated like gerbera daisies...or supposed to be. i would include the recipes, but i already returned the book! as you can see, mine are not really fitting the description.


now, here is where the problem begins. it's something about me. how i am. i get a bee in my bonnet about making something or trying something new and i expect myself to be able to get it picture perfect on the first try. i get all twirked when it doesn't look like the picture in the book. i'm so hard on myself. clearly the folks at the WB are talented and have also practiced and practiced and tried new techniques to achieve the results they get.

so, why am i so hard on myself?


i'm not sure. i think it is because i long to be *really* good at something. i have never been a real career oriented person. so, i can't really say i "AM" something...painter, artist, teacher, web designer, engineer or what have you. being a mom is the first thing i have done that gives me any kind of identity or label like that. and i know i am a good mom. i feel proud of that. but i also want something that is just me that i can be good at outside of that.

because, what happens when they are all grown up and don't need me anymore? then who, what am i?

Monday, June 9, 2008

 

an award :: again!

i could not be more grateful for the award bestowed upon me by Misty of Rainy Day in May! so sweet. the award is for bloggers who contribute to the blog community creatively, or are creative in general. nice!

check her her blog. . . .or rather blogs. she has a few!

Thanks Misty! i'll pass it along soon....

Labels:

Sunday, June 8, 2008

 

cookie carnival :: june (you had your say)


well folks, it's decided! the majority vote for SNICKERDOODLES! so, that's what we shall make. Carnivalers, check your inboxes for the recipe and off we go!

i expect that some will bow out this month as some of you felt strongly about NOT doing the doodles. so, to you i say, see you in july.......i hope!

and we'll do the macaroons and double chocolate ones eventually!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

 

cookie carnival :: june (you decide!)

NOTE: people have asked and i'm talking about the coconut style macaroon.....which i'd definitely dip in chocolate!)

it's JUNE! this month, we're doing a little something different for the ol' Cookie Carnival. i sort of feel bad doling out the cookie baking decisions all the time, like i'm some kind of Cookie Queen. however, i felt it best to do so as the Carnival was just getting rolling. . . so, now i plan to do things like have guest hosts and votes. if any of you are interested in hosting, let me know!

this month it's a choice between 3 options. all simple classics. all tasty (i hope). if you are a Carnival member you may vote by commenting on this post. i'll tally the votes in 3 days. at the end of the day (8pm EST) on THIS Saturday, i'll tally and announce the winning cookie. although it may be obvious by the comments posted. who knows!?

so. here are the choices.

1. the old-fashioned favorite - SNICKERDOODLES
2. the ever-classy - MACAROONS (i'm talking coconut!)
3. because everyone loves chocolate - DOUBLE CHOCOLATE COOKIES

let your voices be heard!

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 2, 2008

 

i'm it

tiffany over at latte's and life tagged me for this meme. oddly enough i find myself with time to actually sit and do it!

The rules: Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

here goes:


What was I doing ten years ago?
getting ready to shoot a movie. my husband wrote the script and directed it. i did casting and many other little jobs. man. hard to believe that was 10 years ago....

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today:

grocery shopping
making food for a potluck
picking my son up from school
sitting in the sun
watching some John Adams with the hubby tonight

5 Snacks I enjoy:

popcorn, tortilla chips, strawberries, carrot sticks and popcorn (yes, i like the corn)


Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

ha! well, i'd get out of debt right away. we'd build a house and do it all ecologically responsibly. save for the kids' education. give a bunch away to family and friends. give a bunch to charity. buy new clothes and new hybrid cars. hubby would start a filmaking company. we'd TRAVEL!

Places I have lived:

plainfield, vermont

martha's vineyard

seattle, wa

in the boston 'burbs

and now western mass.

Jobs I have had:

my first job was at a toy store. at night we rode the tricycles around. i worked there with my best friend, so it was just silly, silly, silly all the time.

i worked at a Pepperidge Farm discount store. also with my BF. so, it was just silly, eat, silly, eat, silly all the time.

i worked at a gourmet food shop also with the BF. so, it was silly, eat, drink lots of coffee, silly, silly all the time.

i worked at a bakery with German baker. he got his english all confused. he used to say things like, "you make me drive up walls!" i mostly washed dishes and didn't get to do much of the fun stuff. high school.

i worked at an Inn. did everything from wait tables to food prep to change beds.

i worked as a temp for a long time in Seattle. THAT was interesting. (read: crappy). one job i had was for this wealthy guy who wanted to save the world by getting everyone to pray at the exact same moment of the day. he was fascinating. he wrote to Oprah, but she didn't care about his cause, i guess.

i also worked at a musical theatre company. love theatre. hate the musicals. that was a challenge.

now, who to tag.....

beth at totalmomhaircut (if she has the time)
jessie at cakespy (also if she has the time) both are busy ladies
holly at phemomenon
megan at my baking adventures
and
kitchennut

Labels:

Blog Widget by LinkWithin