Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TWD: Creme Brulee...oh.my.

Let me just start out by saying that this is one of the best desserts I have ever made. Yes, ever.

I was so excited to make this week's Tuesday's With Dorie selection because I have never made Creme Brulee before and it looks absolutely delicious in the book. Why oh why did I never make this before? Who knows - I as sure the heck don't and I'm still asking myself why. Maybe it was the lack of a torch (really, a weak excuse because the husband loves any reason to get a new tool and I could have just asked him to get one a long time ago) or maybe, I was just a wee bit intimidated. I mean this is such a classic and classy dessert. After having finally made Creme Brulee, however, I can say with full authority that this excuse should never hold you back - it's incredibly easy to make. In fact, after I had made the custard and had them in the oven I thought, "that's it? That's all there is to this fancy-schmancy dessert?" Three eggs, some sugar, cream, milk and vanilla. Bake it, sprinkle it with sugar, put a torch to it. That's it.

Simple. Beautiful.


I went straight ahead with the recipe as listed in the book, full fat and all. I thought since this was my first attempt at Creme Brulee I'd better start with the basics. There will most definitely be time for experimentation later. Dorie lists several variations to try and I'm sure many of my fellow TWD bakers got creative (check out the blogroll here).
I only have two suggestions:

  • The recommended cooking time was 50 to 60 minutes. I had mine in the oven for 75 and they were still a little wobbly, but after their time in the fridge they had set up nicely. Maybe this depends on the dishes you use - I used ramekins which were about 1 1/2 inches high by 3 inches in diameter. For thise recipe, I filled 4 rams plus an extra, larger bowl).

  • If you've got a three year old in your house, get her a spoon before you give her the bowl. I had just given her the Creme Brulee and when I turned to give her a spoon, she already had her tongue broken through the sugar.

My 8 year old son, who is already a man of few words said simply, but emphatically "Make this again" (we're still working on the please and thank you thing). My 10 year old daughter actually licked the bowl clean and begged to eat Daddy's (which did not happen). The baby grabbed the spoon from me and demanded to eat it by himself (which also did not happen, as we were sharing). End result, five empty dishes in record time. Delicious!

It was also a lot of fun for the kids to watch the caramelization process (science in the kitchen - such fun!). We didn't even make it back to the table to eat these - just stood around the counter devouring them.

Thank you, thank you Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake for selecting this fabulous recipe! Save some drool for next week though because coming up is Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm a Barefoot Blogger!

Prior to the birth of our bundle of joy #4, and prior to embarking on my new "little hobby" you just happen to be reading, I used to watch TV and The Food Network was one of my favorite channels. Of all the wonderful shows on that network, the Barefoot Contessa was one of my absolute favorites. Ina Garten was always making beautiful food from fresh, simple ingredients (most of the time, anyway - sometimes she went crazy with the gourmet stuff, but not often). So when I learned there was an online baking group working through her recipes, I knew that I had to join.

This week's recipe, Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup was selected by Chelle at Brown Eyed Baker and to be honest, I wasn't looking that forward to it. I was kind of bummed that my first Barefoot Bloggers recipe was for something I could only imagine using to make this:

But oh, was I so mistaken in that oversimplified association! Ina's version of this creamy soup is chock full of wonderfully flavorful mushrooms and leeks (a favorite soup-vegetable of mine!). It came together so nicely and the flavors were sublime. And I love recipes that call for wine - I always make sure to follow Justin Wilson's advice and have a little for me. "I ga-ron-teee it tastes more better."

I ended up making half of the recipe and, in an effort to try to cut back on the fat content, I made the following changes:

  • The recipe calls for sauteing the veggies in olive oil and butter for the stock - I eliminated the butter;

  • For the leeks and mushrooms, I only used one Tbsp of butter;

  • I used 3/4 cup low-fat half and half and only 1/4 cup heavy cream.

  • And finally, I have to thank Rachael Ray for showing me how to properly clean leeks (and, totally unrelated, for the idea of using a garbage bowl). I know some people don't like her, but I think she's great and thanks to her, I don't have gritty leeks in my soup.

I just wish it were like, 30 degrees cooler (it was 85 today) - I'm too cheap to turn the air back on so it was very warm in the house by the time I had finished making this. Even in the heat, this soup was magnificent and I thoroughly enjoyed it for dinner last night.

The kids on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with it whatsoever. Fine by me - this is what they had instead (and all was right with the world in their eyes)

And yes, those are in fact dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. I'm sure (er, I hope) I'm not the only foodie-Mom who feeds her children something quite less than what Ina would expect.

Be sure to go and check out how the other Barefoot Bloggers did here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TWD: Dimply Plum Cake

I'm not real happy with this photo - I had lost all the natural light by the time the cake was ready to be cut (and I haven't learned enough about my new camera to figure out how to compensate). It looks wonderful in the book, however, and I knew the flavors of plums, cardamom and orange would come together beautifully. The recipe calls for ground cardamom and I was pretty sure I had bought some cardamom seeds for some recipe I made ages ago (and I'm thinking at least 5 years or so). As I'm sure most of you foodies out there are aware, there is some sort of statute of limitations on how long spices hold their flavor. I don't have any idea as to how long that may be because I keep them around despite this "rule" and they always seem just fine to me. Case in point, my cardamom seeds - after I unearthed the jar from the deepest darkest reaches of my spice cabinet - were still incredibly fragrant. The only challenge was to grind them up to put in the cake. I'm sure you all have received gifts from people and wondered "when the heck am I ever going to use this" and consider pulling a classic Seinfeld "re-gift"? Well, might I suggest you rethink that strategy in the future - you never know when that gift might come in handy. From another deep, dark corner of the same cabinet, I pulled out a gift I've had for years and never used: a mortar and pestle set and it worked like a charm for the task at hand:

All I ended up having to buy for the recipe was one orange and the plums (which were on sale this week - Prudy would be so proud!).

This made for a pleasant change over the cost of the last TWD which was filled with lots of delicious, but expensive chocolates (white, semi-sweet, bittersweet you name it!). As a side note, you really, really must make those cookies, they were divine - just make sure to have a glass of milk on hand to accompany them, they're pretty rich.

This cake came together very easily as Dorie follows a pretty straightforward cake baking protocol. I have to tell you that before I even I got this cake in the oven, the house smelled amazing - cardamom has an exotic, but somehow at the same time homey, fragrance that's hard to describe (as if that weren't obvious from the oxymoron I just wrote, sheesh...).

The cake looks lovely with all the plums on top doesn't it? The recipe calls for 8 plums, but I could only smoosh 7 into my 8x8 pan, and that's only after I quartered the seventh one.

Dorie says to bake this for 40 minutes, but at 40, the knife I used to check it with came out fully coated in batter. I left it in for 5 more minutes, but it probably could have used more. Unfortunately, the tops were getting quite brown and I didn't want to risk drying out the edges. As a result, the middle pieces were a little underdone. I wonder if this was because my plums may still have been cold from the fridge when I placed them on top of the batter? My advice would be to let your fruit come to room temp before making this.

My girls really liked this cake the night I made it and ate it while it was still warm. I think I actually liked it better the following morning after the flavors of the orange and cardamom really came together.
A question for my fellow TWDers out there - can anyone tell me why Dorie calls this cake "Dimply"? I've just been wondering since I read the recipe. Is it the plums - do they have a dimple? Sorry, maybe I'm just clueless on this one.

Thanks to Michelle of Bake-en for selecting this week's recipe. My take on this is that it's a great breakfasty-type cake which is quite nice with a cup of coffee and a friend :-)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I'll miss you, summer berries

Well, I barely squeezed this post in on the last day of summer. On the one hand, I am happy that fall will be here tomorrow - backyard bonfires, a little chill in the air, soups, little kids dressed up in their Halloween finery, Thanksgiving. On the other hand, I will miss the warm, lazy days we've enjoyed these last three months.

We had a wonderful summer, filled with long vacations (the pools, the beaches!) and lots of visits with family and friends. Here in the midwest, the weather has been absolutely delightful. And the berries.....oh my. I hope to enjoy them for a couple of more weeks (still haven't made a berry shortcake yet) but then, alas, we'll all have to wait 'til next year to truly enjoy their deliciously plump sweetness. sigh.

All the berries have been great this year, and the blueberries here have been especially good. I made these Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins from JoyofBaking.com for my fifth grade Sunday School class. The blueberries were just bursting throughout these and the kids really enjoyed them.

It was actually was pretty funny - the girls daintily ate one each and watched aghast as each of the boys ate three of these, and then asked for more! I just had to smile - I've got two little growing boys of my own and some days they can put away such a huge amount of food for their relative size that the hubby and I seriously wonder how we'll afford to feed them when they're teenagers. Second mortgage? Just plain scary.

Hope you all get to try these muffins, they are really delicious - moist inside and the sugar on top made for a really nice crunch.

Please let me know if you've got any really good berry recipes for me to enjoy before berry season's gone for 8 months!

Thanks, Matt!

My little ole blog got another award yesterday! Thanks so much to Matt of Matt's Kitchen for this award:

His blog is fantastic - and I've said this before, but it's so great to get a guy's perspective on cooking. His posts are so well written - I told him I'm guessing he's an English teacher. Unfortunately, language arts was never my forte - maybe I should get Matt to grade and correct my blog.

When I first started blogging, oh all of about two months ago, I had no idea just how fun and rewarding this little hobby could be (it's more time-consuming than I originally anticipated, but so worth it). But, to be recognized by one's peers - who I feel are far more talented than I am - is an awesome thing and I am just so beside-myself happy.

Okay, so I am passing this award on to the following blogs because they are ex-cel-lent (in my head I'm hearing this the way Bill and Ted would say it). I know I have given some of these blogs awards before, but I can't help it, they are so good (and Matt picked a bunch I would have sent this to)!

little momma and company - This is, without a doubt, one of the cutest Mom blogs on the planet. Emily just does the most amazing things - so incredibly talented, that one.

Whisk : a food blog - I think this is a pretty big time food blog. Shari's got such talent at blogging, cooking and photography - definitely prime time stuff!

My Baking Addiction - Jamie has got a beautiful blog, and obviously knows her baking stuff (check out this post to see what I mean).

The Tortefeasor - Cathy is just too funny. This is one of my all-time favorite blogs - and she's just getting started!

Flannel Hippos - My dear friend Jennifer's blog is so sweet. I have learned so much from her and I love following along with her life!

Prudence Pennywise - I check Prudy's blog every day, without fail. Her recipes are great and budget-friendly to boot. Wonderful, wonderful blog!

Ezra Poundcake - Another in the "gorgeous blogs" category. Rebecca's abilities shine through all her wonderful photos.

Champaign Taste - This blog is a favorite of mine because I can get caught up in the local foodie scene (with 4 kids at home, I rarely get the chance to go out and see for myself).

Hooked on Houses - Julia takes me on fantasy house tours, gives great ideas for my dream house I'm building in my head, and keeps me up to date on HGTV. It's so much fun to read this blog everyday.

This Young House - Such a cute couple running this blog and what they've done with their house is incredible. They give out great budget-friendly decorating advice, too!

Enjoy taking a peek at these most excellent blogs. I know you'll like them as much as I do!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ready for fall? Put on a pot of chili!

This version of chili is hands down, my kids favorite - in fact, they love it so much, they request it! When I made this the other day, my eldest said, and I quote, "this is the best chili ever, Mom". I got the recipe from my dear friend Christy a few years ago and haven't made another chili recipe since - gotta keep the troops happy you know. And there's a bonus: it's insanely easy to make and pretty healthy for you too (shhhhhhhh, don't tell the kids)!

Turkey Chili

2 pounds ground turkey
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1-2 Tbsp cumin
2-3 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
28 ounce can tomato sauce
11 ounce can tomato soup
1 can of water
2 cans kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans or any combination thereof
1/2 cup wine or one can of beer (or water if you don't have either on hand)
salt and pepper
topping options: grated cheese, sour cream, green onions, chopped cilantro, saltines, tortilla chips (the kids love to customize and make up their own concoctions - it can get out of hand sometimes :-)

Brown turkey with onion and garlic. Mix in remaining ingredients and cook on low for one hour.

How easy is that?! Serve with cornbread muffins, a little salad and dinner's done. If your kids weren't chili fans before now, they will be after you serve 'em this. Have fun with it and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chunkers

Okay, this is without a doubt, my favorite Tuesdays With Dorie recipe so far. Oh my goodness are these suckers good - I'd even go so far as to say they're downright sinful. Yes folks, this rich little cookie is enough to send this good Catholic girl to confession. (Well, maybe not that sinful, but still decadent and utterly delicious!)

I knew after reading the recipe that these would be truly great cookies because they were loaded up with delicious things - dark chocolate, white chocolate, pecans and raisins. In fact, if anything, I was a little concerned about the lack of much else in them. The recipe only calls for 1/3 cup of flour and 3 tablespoons of butter - this to make 2 dozen cookies. I should have just trusted Dorie's greatness - there's the perfect amount of fudgy, brownie-like cookie holding all those chunks o' goodness together.

A few notes for when you make these (and you must):

  • Though the raisins were good in this cookie, next time I'm going to use dried cranberries and the time after that I'm going to use dried cherries (because I WILL be making these many times, I can assure you). I think either of these two choices would be better in this recipe than raisins.

  • Definitely use parchment paper. I had no trouble at all lifting them off the paper.

  • Finally, these cookies need to come with a warning - they are rich and extremely addictive. You might want to freeze some before you even take your first bite.

There's only one drawback to this cookie and that's how they look. The first round looked, well a little lumpy:

For the next round to go in the oven, I kinda flattened them out a little with my hand and they turned out better.

Everyone in the house raved about these - even the littlest one got the opportunity to try one. He has apparently grown taller since the last time I really checked and can now easily grab things off the counter. After I put the 2nd round of dough on the cookie sheets and into the oven, I turned around to find crumbs and chocolate smeared all over the floor. When I looked up, I saw the same said cookie remains smeared all over a tiny, smiling face and hands:

Now that was one happy boy, let me tell ya - until I wouldn't let him have another. These things are chock full of choking hazards - big chunks of nuts and raisins (my sister-in-law the doctor is probably having a kinipshin right about now). Totally yummy for those of over age 3, but not such a great idea for little 13 month olds, no matter how tall they're getting or how cute they look covered in chocolate. I'll make them again little man, I promise.

You all (look at that, I've been too far north for too long I guess - should read y'all) can find the recipe at Fool for Food - wish I could speak or at least read German because her site looks great! Thank you so much for picking this cookie Claudia!

Y'all come back next Tuesday for Dimply Plum Cake!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ahhhhh...the Galette

I saved the best of the meal for last. I am just so pleased at how this dessert turned out and I most definitely will be making it again. A galette is supposedly a rustic, country pie, but it can be lovely just the same, don't you think?

I got the recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Peaches and raspberries were on sale last week, so trying to decide what fruit to use was easy. Before I joined Tuesday's with Dorie, I had read the group's results with this recipe and had seen that combo somewhere but for the life of me couldn't remember. Thanks to a comment in the first post I made on this meal, I now have the answer! Thanks N.O.E. of The Dogs Eat the Crumbs for the inspiration!

My usual pie dough recipe is Martha Stewart's pâte brisée. I love the all butter crust because, besides being delicious, it's both flaky and super tender. Some say that butter doesn't make for a flaky crust, but mine always came out pretty well. The only problem I've ever found with it is that it's a little more difficult to work with than those using shortening - tends to break after rolled and it must be re-chilled after placing it in the pan because the butter melts really fast and, if not really cold, it'll slide down the sides of your pie pan. Of course, the fat of choice that most professionals agree makes for the best all around crust is lard. I personally haven't tried it yet, I guess because I can't get around the whole cow fat thing, but isn't butter essentially the same thing? I will try it one day...one day. Anyway, for this galette, I used Dorie's pie dough recipe in the book. I have to admit, I really liked this crust - it was the best of both worlds (using mostly butter and a little shortening) and therefore was very easy to work with and tasted fabulous.

A few notes:

  • As I've said before, my pie crust rolling skills leave something to be desired so I made one and a half recipes and had plenty. In fact, I increased the diameter of the finished galette from 9 inches to 10 and I think it makes for a really nice presentation being a bit bigger.

  • The recipe calls for 8 peaches, but I could only get 5 in mine (and that's using the bigger diameter!) and they fit perfectly. Then I just sprinkled about a half cup of raspberries around. Pretty, huh?

  • I forgot to buy graham cracker crumbs, so they were omitted from the recipe. These are used to soak up some of the juices from the cooked fruit and my omission became obvious about halfway through cooking - my beautiful galette was swimming in peach juice. I ended up carefully holding the tray and parchment over the sink (said a quick prayer) and tilted it slightly to let some of the liquid drain off. It turned out okay, but I don't recommend skipping this step.

  • Also forgot to buy raspberry jam (which, I think, would have made this great dessert sublime, but oh well!) so I used apricot which was just fine and worked well with the peaches.

  • I could only fit about half of the custard mix on top of the fruit and even some of that spilled over onto the parchment. Speaking of which - I highly recommend using that under the galette. With all the juices that came off and the custard issue, this probably saved it from destruction as I would have totally mangled it trying to pry it off a Pam-coated tray. I figured at the very least, I could cut around the darn thing and plop it on a serving plate, parchment paper and all, and peel the paper off each slice.

  • Serve with vanilla ice cream. Swoon-worthy I'm tellin' ya!
I can't end this post without giving credit to my darling littlest sous chef (who is 13 months old), whose help I found indispensable, who was a constant grounding presence throughout the whole process, and who quite literally held me up by the apron strings...

What you obviously can't hear is the screaming that was going on when I snapped this. Oh, my little baby love...someday, I know I'll look back on these days and smile and wish I could turn back the clock....but not this day.

Long story short, make this - you will not regret it! You can find the recipe here.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The French connection, part duex

So, the rest of the meal from last Saturday was really very simple too. For the green beans, with some help from my lovely assistant Little Miss K, we just snapped the ends off and steamed them whole. After they were done (and when I say done, I mean somewhere in-between the almost raw of fancy restaurant fare and overcooked to the point of gray-green stringy mush of Golden Corral) maybe after 5 minutes or so, toss with a little butter and salt. That's it, side dish number one, done.

For the Pommes Frites Campagnard (a.k.a. potato wedges) I actually cut up the potatoes a couple of hours in advance. I had heard that if you place cut potatoes in a bowl of cold, salted water the won't turn brown on you. Well, I'm happy to report that this is absolutely true. I couldn't believe how great they looked! Didn't even have to put 'em in the fridge.

About an hour before I wanted them done, I layed them out on a paper-towel lined baking sheet and let them dry off a little. Thirty minutes later I tossed them with olive oil, garlic powder (yes, between the chicken and potatoes, we were going to have stinky breath that night, but at least it was going to affect all of us), dried thyme, salt and freshly ground pepper. This recipe is slightly modified from one I found in the September issue of Everyday Food. After the chicken was out of the oven resting comfortably and covered in foil, I popped the potatoes in a 475 ° (thank you so much Dershana and Matt for teaching me know how to do this!!!) oven for 20 to 25 minutes. At the end of this time, the potatoes were done, but they weren't as brown as I wanted so I turned the oven up to broil and toasted them for a couple minutes. Perfection!

I'll post about the best part of the meal tomorrow: the galette!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

This one's definitely for those of us with a chronic sweet tooth. Here's how Dorie starts off the recipe in her book:

"If you're thinking that these sound like something right out of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, you're right. They are almost equal parts candy and cookie...."

Sounds fantastic, right? But, overall, I have to admit I was a little disappointed in these cookies. Don't get me wrong, they were good, I guess I was just expecting more. Maybe I'm just not a malt-flavor kind of gal. Usually, the raw dough is a good indicator of how good a cookie will be, but not so in this case. My first reaction from the glob I swiped from the paddle only rated a "meh". They really improved with baking, however. They're a nice, soft cookie and every bite was filled with either bittersweet chocolate and/or a whopper chunk.

If you decide to make these, and if you're a lover of whoppers and/or Ovaltine you should, here's my two cents worth:

  1. I followed the advice of a fellow TWDer and just chopped the whoppers in half. This left recognizable chunks in the cookies. Some people said that they chopped the whoppers up and you really couldn't tell they were in there. Also, the box I bought at the grocery store was 5 ounces, this was plenty.

  2. I used regular-flavored Ovaltine and didn't think the cookies were overpowered with chocolate flavor (some reviewers who used chocolate Ovaltine thought this).
  3. "Ovaltine for Radiant Health" - I love that. So these cookies must be good for you!

  4. The recipe calls for using parchment paper or silpat mats on the trays. I just used Pam and didn't have too much trouble getting them off, but a word of caution...

  5. Once you pull these out of the oven, definitely let them sit on the cookie tray for at least 5 minutes. The recipe says 2 minutes, but they were still awfully fragile at this point and a few had to be disposed of right away because they just fell apart (one of my little sous chefs happily came to the rescue).

My cookies don't look a thing like the photo in the book, and in fact, I don't think they're really much to look at. So here's how I decided to eat them, taking a cue from the book (Dorie's got the whole cookies sitting atop a large mound of vanilla ice cream):

I enjoyed a few bites of this during the blissful silence of nap time. Had to force myself to only have a little bit and put the rest back in the freezer for tomorrow (with all the baking I'm doing, I am downright fearful of the scale these days - an occupational hazard of food blogging?)

Thanks to Rachel at Confessions of a Tangerine Tart for choosing the recipe this week (you can find the recipe there). And check here for all the TWD folks who'll be posting their results too.

On deck for next week: Chocolate Chunkers (yes, another cookie recipe - my kids are rejoicing!)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Back to our regularly scheduled programming....

Food blogging, that is.

We had our parish pastor over for dinner over last night - he's always such a treat to feed and so appreciative. For me, I love to cook for other people, so it's a win-win! He's extremely easy to please, as long as the meals are simple (not into fancy-shmancy gourmet food). So here's the menu (I'm trying to make it sound fancier than it really was - I realized only in hindsight that this meal was very rustic French. Shhhhhh don't tell the hubby - he's not a fan of anything French, but he did enjoy this meal):

Roasted Chicken with garlic and thyme
Garlicky Potato wedges
Fresh Green Beans
Peach and Raspberry Galette

En Francais:

Poule avec Ail et Thym
Pommes Frite Camagnard
Hericot Vert
Galette de Peche et Framboise

Anyone who visits this site and actually speaks French will laugh hard at this, I know - I had to look for the translations online and I'm sure the grammar is all wrong. It just sounds so much nicer in French though, n'est pas? Sorry, it's like once you start, you can't stop!

First, the bird. I got a whopper of a chicken at the grocery store (7 lbs.) because I always try to send a lot of left overs home with Father. He has confided in me and let me know that he usually eats a hotdog and canned veggies for dinner - seriously, ick. Makes feel like I should invite him over much more frequently (does this count as Catholic guilt?).

Anyway, all I did was rub the chicken down with olive oil, salt (don't be stingy with it either - use a good couple of teaspoons or so), freshly ground pepper, garlic and dried thyme and then shoved about 5 small pieces of butter under the skin of the breasts and legs. Truss the chicken and roast in a 425 degree oven (can someone please tell me how to put the degree mark at the end of the temp, it's bugging me not knowing - thanks!) for 20 minutes and then reduce the temp to 350 for about 1 1/2 hours more (depending on the size of your chicken, this may only take 40 minutes more) - or until the an instant-read thermometer reads 165 when you check in the thigh (the temp will raise another 5 degrees while it rests). Let rest for 10-20 minutes before carving. You can learn how to truss a chicken here.

And here's that lovely chicken all nice and roasted. (The house smelled so good!)

Since this post has gotten lengthy already, stay tuned this week as I blog the rest of the meal.

Bon Appetite!

Well, blow me over....another award?!

Wow - two awards in one week! I am just floored. I have been having so much fun doing this blog and I'm just tickled that other people are reading and enjoying the posts.....but awards....for me.....I mean, wow! It's definitely icing on the cake.

A big super-duper thank you to Cathy at The Tortefeasor who presented me with the Brilliante Weblog Award. She's got a fantastic blog and I so enjoy reading her posts (although she may say they're long-winded, I like reading every word :-) If you haven't already, please go check it out.

I guess there are some rules to follow as I present this award to others:

1. when you receive a diamond, make a post about it on your blog. check

2. name the blogger from whom you got it. check

3. award the diamonds to seven other bloggers. see below, check

4. link them. check

5. and tell them they got one. ok, gotta do this still check

It's so great to be in the company of the blogs who have received this and the ones listed here. They are all so talented! When my blog grows up, I want it to be just like these:

Real Mom Kitchen - right back atcha Laura. I'm still smiling from getting my first award from her - such a wonderful surprise! Laura's got a great blog and just plain delicious recipes (and she's got such a nice name, too :-)

Rookie Cookie - I just love the name of this blog - so clever! And the layout is just terrific. Beautiful photos and lots of great recipes.

food.baby - An Aussie blog - so cool! Susan's got a saying at the bottom of her blog that I really think is poignant: "The difference you make in someone else's life, will always be smaller than the difference it will in your own ..." Of course, her recipes are great too!

The Boastful Baker - Just a gorgeous blog - photos, recipes, layout, everything.

Frantic Home Cook - This lady is simply inspiring. She may say she's "Frantic", but sure looks like she's got it all together to me.

A Recipe A Day - Nancy is absolutely prolific with the recipes. I ask this question about a lot of blogs, and I certainly do about this one: "How on earth does she do it? Really, how!?".

Cream Puffs in Venice - Ivonne is one of the co-founders of the Daring Bakers Challenge. Beautiful blog, and so talented - check out this post and you'll understand. Still considering joining this baking group, but I haven't screwed up enough courage yet. I feel like they are way outta my league.

These amazing blogs have probably all received this award before, but I am so inspired by their brilliance that I felt I must send it to them anyway. Hope you all get a chance to check them out - you won't be sorry you did!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"It's a major award!"

I have exciting news everyone - I received my first blog award! Woo HOOOOOO! Thanks so much to Laura at Real Mom Kitchen for giving me this - I am truly grateful.

No it's not this (although, how cool would that be!):

But this:

Isn't it adorable?!

So now, I need to pay it forward (let's see how many movie references I can get into this post) and send it to 10 other fantastic blogs.

Flannel Hippos - My friend Jennifer started blogging quite a while ago and I've been following since the beginning. She's one of the people who inspired me to start my own blog (and do so many other things) - she is amazing!

Prudence Pennywise - I just love this food on a budget blog! She is positively prolific with her posts and recipes.

La Mia Cucina - I haven't laughed so hard at a baking post -ever- as I did with hers on the July Daring Bakers challenge (Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream). I just may have to go back and read it again.

The Tortefeasor - Just getting to know Cathy because she just started with Tuesdays With Dorie too. The saying she's got on her blog wins big points with me (because I have said this myself to some turned up noses at the magnificent meals I prepared) "you'll eat it and you'll like it!"

Matt's Kitchen - I love reading a guy's perspective on cooking and baking! His blog is great and he's fellow newbie to TWD, too.

The Del Sisters - These two teenage girls are amazing! I can't believe how much cooking they get done, and it all looks so good too! You go girls!

Simmer Till Done - Marilyn's posts are great and they're always good for a chuckle or two. She's got fantastic recipes, too.

Ezra Pound Cake - This is just such a nice looking blog. Rebecca's got wonderful stories to go along with her recipes and fantastic photography.

The Dogs Eat the Crumbs - Her success with the Chocolate Banded Ice Cream Torte (it's gorgeous!) alone is worth giving her this award (but she's got a great blog, too).

Proud Italian Cook - A fellow Italian cook, need I say more? Beautiful blog and food - I nearly drooled all over my keyboard at her Daring Bakers Eclairs.

These are some really great blogs and I hope you all visit and enjoy them! Congrats to all!

Food Blogging Link Love

I haven't made anything interesting in the last few days because all 4 kids have been sick with the welcome-back-to-school icky nose and fever thing (all my shirts are covered in ...... well, I guess I'd better not gross you all out, this being food blog afterall - wouldn't want to ruin your appetite.)

Anyhoo, here are a few great looking recipes I've read about and am most definitely going to try (as soon as I can unbury the house from tissues):

The best darn banana bread from Flannel Hippos

Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits from Ezra Pound Cake

Hot Crash Potatoes from Honey B

Go Get Em Smoothie from Matt's Kitchen

And, for those of you feeling really adventurous, you can make some Chocolate Eclairs (at the Mele Cotte blog) like the Daring Bakers group did last month.

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

TWD: Chunky Hazelnut and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was for Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters which, to me, sounds as great as the name is long - I love PB and chocolate, Reeses being my fav-o-rite candy. As I mentioned before, however, we've got a little one 'round here that may have a peanut allergy, so I had to ditch the Peanut Butter.

Enter in

If you've never tried this chocolate hazelnut concoction, well, you simply must. It's realllllly good, especially on a slice of french bread. I like it this way for nostalgia sake I guess, because I first tried nutella when I was in France as an exchange student way back in high school. Unfortunately, it's not particularly inexpensive, but c'est la vie.

I really needed to add some chunkiness to these, too (mainly because I like nuts, but then there's also the whole "Chunky" thing right in the front of the title). So conveniently, I snagged the very last bag of chopped hazelnuts at Meijer (for a minute there I was sweating in the baking aisle - you gotta be kidding me, no hazelnuts in the nut section?! but then there it was, buried under the walnut pieces - yessssss!). This was quite a find, because if you've ever had to crack and skin hazelnuts, you know what a real chore this can be, and I just wasn't up to doing all that.

These cookies were very easy to make. Really, I'd only have to recommend one thing and that's to follow the chilling directions. I didn't chill the dough after the first batch went in the oven and, in hind sight, I wish I had. The cookies that were chilled looked better (see exhibits a and b below) and tended not to spread as much:

The kids really enjoyed these, and yeah, so did the grown-ups. All in all, I'd have to give the nutella twist on these the thumbs up. Try it, you'll see.

Little Miss K approves, too (sorry for the blur, but this was definitely an action shot - had to hurry before that cookie was a-goner):

Thanks to Stefany at Proceed With Caution for choosing this week's recipe! (You can find the recipe on her site.)

Looking forward to next week? I sure am: Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops.