Saturday, January 30, 2010

Quilt in a Day (or year)

I think I like to cook because you get instant gratification. If you mix butter, sugar, flour. salt, eggs and chocolate you have yummy treats in 12 minutes. That is my kind of project. I didn't mind the cookie bars I made with TWD, they mix up fairly quick, bake 25 minutes, cool 2 hours and then refrigerate for an hour. A little more involved but I am ok with it. I have beans soaking overnight so I can make refried beans tomorrow. Not quite instant, I even like to bake with yeast which does require some patience. Where is this post going?

It is about a hobby that is NOT instant! I sewed for the first 12 years of marriage, I made about everything my kids wore--it was out of necessity but I enjoyed the creative outlet. I took classes, I taught classes. So I'm excited to get back into sewing; more specifcaly quilting, less calories.

A sweet gal in our neighborhood was willing to teach a beginning quilting class. I was excited, the quilt was entitled  'Quilt in a Day', it is a 'tossed nine patch', I can do this I thought. I had no problem purchasing the fabric. I am good at buying supplies and patterns, oh the possibilities. I got started...then a year passed. So much for the 'quilt in a day'. Thanks to the encouragement of the ladies in our quilt club and a excited three year old, I finally finished my 'Quilt in a Day'.

I was so proud of myself for finishing a project that had been on my to do list for 70 weeks! I have another quilt started, it's not moving much faster. I want to make a quilt for each of my grandchildren. One done, nine to go. I hope no one is in a hurry to get their quilt!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

TWD: Cocoa-nana Bread

 I'm not usually a fan of banana bread--it tastes so much like bananas. Well Dorie has solved that problem quite nicely. The addition of cocoa and semi-sweet chocolate gives banana bread an entire new look and taste. I think it is delicious. Dorie describes the bread as cracked with crevices along the top. My loaves certainly were cracked with crevices, and it's ok!
I cooked my bread in Pampered Chefs Stoneware Mini Loaf pan. I wanted to share this delicious treat, I love the cute little loaves this pan produces. I am a fan of Semi-Sweet baking bars made by Ghirardelli, little bits of this bar really added to the fun flavor of the bread.

I would say this bread was a delicious success. Steph at "obsessed with baking" is the host this week, check her blog for the recipe. The blogroll at TWD is a fun place to see what many other bakers did with this recipe.

Monday, January 18, 2010

TWD Chocolate Oatmeal Almost- Candy Bars

I am officially a member of Tuesdays With Dorie. I have loved Dorie's cookbook 'Baking from My Home to Yours' for quite sometime. I enjoy her fun writing style, it is almost like she is in your kitchen coaching you along. Her recipes are some of the best I have made in my 45 year baking adventure!

 Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars was chosen by Lilian at Confectiona's Realm she will post the recipe. I have just one word for these bars--delicious! It is a fudgy oatmeal cookie with peanuts. This cookie bar was easy to put together, the most difficult task was trying to get the lid off the sweetened condensed milk. I think I need a new can opener.
The recipe makes a 9x13 pan, yes that is a lot of rich treats. I'm excited to share them with my Mom, my hairdresser, my neighbors and I think I will send a few to our missionary son. These bars are great chilled or at room temp. I have sampled them both ways (several times).  They are loaded with oatmeal so I thought a taste for breakfast must be a good thing. It was.
This is a 5 star recipe, I will make them again, soon. Check the TWD Blogroll and see what other bakers thought of this treat.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Roasted Vegetables

This simple recipe is perfect for cold winter days. It is a great side for fish, chicken or steak.

Roasted Vegetables
Potatoes scrubbed with skins on, cut in chunks (about the size of a large walnut)
Carrots, peeled cut in 2-inch pieces
Onions, peeled quartered
Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch slices
Garlic Powder
Italian Seasoning
Olive Oil

Put Veggies in a large bowl, season and drizzle with olive oil. Stir well, vegetables should just be lightly coated. Pour vegetables on a lightly greased pan--I use a stoneware bar pan. Veggies should be just one layer. Cook at 450 for 30 minutes, turning once, veggies should be tender and browned.
In the same bowl you had your veggies in add:
Mushrooms, halved
small Zucchini, sliced
Red Pepper, slices
Stir together, season and add to your veggies the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Serve with a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, thyme.
This recipe is just a place to begin, use different seasonings you might try adding parsnips, turnips, celery, asparagus or green beans. You can cook this dish at 350 degrees for about 1 hour 15 minutes.
But I am usually in a hurry!


Friday, January 15, 2010

MSCC Coconut Cupcakes

I really had high hopes for these sweet treats. I love coconut, I love cupcakes. I purchased coconut milk, shredded coconut and unsweetened coconut ribbons. I made batter as per recipe, I thought I was on track but this is what greeted me when I opened the oven. Failure.

I thought I could just pile on frosting and no one would know. I did. I have photos to prove it. But they just weren't great. They stuck to the pan, they stuck to the cupcake wrapper. They were coarse, heavy, dense and they just fell apart. And they didn't have a real coconut flavor. Is it my altitude, sometimes baking at over 4000 feet can cause trouble. Anyone baking at high altitude have success with these?

Check what other bakers did at MSCC.
Makes me wonder--do other bakers frost bad cupcakes just for a photo??
Will I make this again? No, not this recipe but I would love a yummy coconut cupcake recipe!
I'm excited to make granola with the coconut ribbons--they are tasty!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 Here We Come/Fresh Cranberry Scones


How exciting to start a new decade, 'twenty ten' is fun to say, It has got to be a great year. It is trendy to have a 'word of the year'; something meaningful and motivating. I thought of several possible choices--kind of like thinking of a name for your new baby, I liked 'create', 'simplify', 'joy', 'patience' or 'complete'. All are great choices but after considerable thought my word for the year 2010 is 'bless', as in how blessed I am and how I can bless others. I am excited to see this word come to life as I ponder its meaning.

Last week I had a difficult day, too many worries about people I love. Too little I can actually do to solve the problems. I know a possible antidote for worry is service; so I went to work. It was the birthday of a dear friend, I made a yummy batch of Ginger Cookies and cooled them quickly outside. At 12 degrees cookies cool in minutes. I dipped the cookies in white chocolate--it was a birthday cookie after all. The cookies were wrapped in cellophane and tied with a bow. A cheery birthday note was written and the package was delivered to the birthday girl.

Did my problems disappear? Not really, but can I tell you how much better I felt! It is good to bless others with service. Mother Theresa said, 'We can do no great things: only small things with great love. Happy are those.'

Yes, this is a cooking blog--mostly. I have the best scone recipe to share with you. What is a scone? It can be fried bread dough served with chili as in a Navajo Taco, sorry you probably won't find that recipe on this blog. To me a scone is for breakfast/brunch. It is a deliciously tender, rich bite of heaven.

This scone recipe is loaded with cranberries and lemon zest.. A food processor makes this a snap to make, don't overmix, handle gently and you will have a tasty treat worth getting up for. Scones need to be eaten warm from the oven which is easy to do. Make a batch, bake off a few for today, flash freeze the uncooked scones, store in freezer bags and they are ready when you are. Fresh scones are just minutes away, make a batch, freeze a few. It really does work!

This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite cooking blogs. Enjoy!

 Fresh Cranberry Scones
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, chopped coarse
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400°F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a food processor pulse flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, butter and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal, transfer to a large bowl.
In a small bowl toss together fresh cranberries and 3 tablespoons sugar and stir into flour mixture.
In another small bowl lightly beat egg and yolk and stir in cream. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
On a well-floured surface with floured hands pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter) and with a 2-inch round cutter dipped in flour cut out as many rounds as possible, rerolling scraps as necessary. Arrange rounds about 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake in middle of oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Scones may be flash frozen before baking and stored in a freezer bag. Place frozen scones on parchment lined baking sheet and bake a few extra minutes.
I had to add a couple tablespoons of extra flour. I also served these with a drizzle of lemon glaze. A 5 star recipe for sure!