Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our Christmas Vacation....


Well, we're still on vacation, and it is sunny, but cold! The snow has all melted away, but the winds are 50 miles an hour or more. Hopefully no more snow will fall before we leave on our way back out East. It has been a vacation filled with lots of food and family. And of course, a little after Christmas Shopping.
While out shopping it is hard to believe the economy is so bad, there are so many people out shopping those bargains. I think the bargains are pretty much what they had before the Holidays, except for the wrapping paper and stuff. It's been nice not to worry about baking or prepping for a dinner.
I've been busy each day, helping my Mom with the B & B, turning over the guest rooms, as people come and go. Big crowd coming in for New Years. The great thing about them is no food, they fix their own. And Mom's last day of work at her day job is tomorrow, after 28 years as County Treasurer. She looks forward to retirement and running the Inn full-time, LOL.....
I'll leave you with thoughts of where I would really like to be........
On a Beach, On an Island, with a Pina Colada in one hand and a good book in the other! Until then think of warm thoughts.....

Monday, December 29, 2008

Daring Baker December Challenge.....




This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand. This is not the usual Yule Log that you know, the spiral one that looks like a log, with powdered sugar for snow. This is 6layers of craziness, or 7 in my case...


THE CHALLENGE RULE is that you MUST MAKE ALL 6 of these elements for the log:
1) Dacquoise Biscuit
2) Mousse
3) Ganache Insert
4) Praline (Crisp) Insert
5) Creme Brulee Insert
6) Icing

I decided to make mine in a round shape, like a torte. It wasn't too hard to do, if you did it in steps. I realize that, it may be too hard for the average Josephine....so I will just refer you to the recipe, instead of boring you with the 12 pages...LOL. And by the way, the person who wrote this lovely recipe, writes in French on her website, (a beautiful site, at that), so if you do decide to make it there are pictures that illustrate the steps.
Thanks for checking it out~!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What do you do on a Yucky Afternoon....


What do you do with 3 Four year olds on an afternoon, when it is cold and yucky outside.....Gingerbread Houses of course! My littlest one here, had a couple of friends over after school to do the traditional thing in our house, make gingerbread houses. Each year we make houses to spruce up our holiday table. I knew they would have so much fun, as long as they didn't eat alot of candy on the way. Which to my surprise they didn't.


They acted like quite the architects and designers, as they assessed how they were going to decorate. They didn't need much assistance at all, except to handle the pastry bag full of royal icing. The other two boys, who are twins, were very excited to show Mom and Dad. Word has it from their Mom, that the candy is now all stripped off, and located in the tummies of their siblings......Ours will last until I throw it away. My kids are more chocoholics, then hard candy eaters. That is why I made sure not to include M&M's...... LOL



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's a Holiday Open House in Blogland.....

It's Holiday Open House in Blogland and Kimba of "A Soft Place to Land" is today's hostess. So take some time to visit others and see what great decorating ideas you might get, just click on the sign above to link up! But, while your here take a stroll through my home, and see some of this year's holiday decor.


No snow here yet, so the entryway is all cleared off for you.


Coming into the foyer you notice the cute little built in bench of our house circa. 1885



And on the first landing, I am displaying my gingerbread cookie cutter collection.
Most are from the 40's and 50's, you can't find them anymore...

And look at this little Santa decorating his Gingerbread house...




Then there is the antique snowmen guarding their little house.



This wonderful Snowman stands guard in my dining room. One of many....


And this collectible hand-painted Santa, stands guard over my dough area.


For this skinny, tall tree, I decided to use my antique children's pots and utensils, as the ornaments. Since it is in the kitchen it makes sense that it have cooking utensils on it. And I think it turned out great!



A close-up of the tree, check out that Little Bo Peep percolating coffee pot!






I've been collecting Baking and Pastry Santas since they started making them.

And these are just a few....

Some sit on my Kitchen Mantel, overseeing all my Holiday Baking...





Our bigger tree in the living room. This is the one that Santa will visit.


The lights behind the bulbs, make them look luminary....



And when it is Holiday decorating day with the family, I make up a few pizzas, and play my large collections of Christmas CD. It really gets you in the mood...And of course we munch on all those Christmas cookies!


EASY PIZZA DOUGH RECIPE


INGREDIENTS

1 Tbl. dry instant yeast

1 1/2 c. warm water

2 tsp. sugar

1 Tbl. olive oil

3 1/2 c. flour

pinch of salt


DIRECTIONS

**In mixing bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and sugar let sit 5 minutes until bubbly.


**Add olive oil, flour, and salt, and mix with dough hook to combine. Then mix on medium for 5 minutes to knead it, until it comes away from side the bowl.


**Transfer to greased bowl, cover and let sit, until it doubles in size or about an hour. Punch down and let rise agin, about 30 minutes.


**Stretch out onto pizza pan, and top with your favorite toppings.


**This Dough amount will make one thick large 18" Pizza, or 2 thinner 16". I think it was pretty good thick, and the kids loved it!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Go Elf Yourself, We did!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bake Sale Crazy....


I'm in the kitchen trying to come up with great ideas and products for a bake sale on Friday. So, I am busy, busy....My kitchen counters are loaded with things waiting to be iced, waiting to be baked, and waiting to be packaged. Crazy life! I hope with the recession, people will still buy, buy, buy...or I will be freezing alot! I'll post soon about these great praline bars I have been making. De-lish!!! Off to catch up now!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

November Daring Baker Challenge.....


Another baking challenge from the Daring Bakers, and this one included lots of sugar. I have been making a lot of items for a bake sale at the end of this week, and caramel corn was on my list. So this challenge of making the caramel icing seemed like I could do it in my sleep.This recipe may look hard to do, but it really isn't especially in cupcake form.

And, Salted Caramel is all the range now, especially Salted Caramel Coffee. I thought I would add a bit more salt to my creation on top. These were a big hit and I will be selling them at the Bake Sale. Yum-mo! So give them a try if you have the time....

This was my version of Shuna Fish Lydon's of Eggbeater (http://eggbeater.typepad.com/) signature Caramel cake (as showed here).

CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

INGREDIENTS

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)

2 each eggs, at room temperature

splash vanilla extract

2 Cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup milk, at room temperature

DIRECTIONS

**Preheat oven to 350F

**Line cupcake pans

**In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

**Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

**Sift flour and baking powder.Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients.

**When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

**Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform.

**Scoop batter into cupcake liners, baking for 20 min, until springy.

**Cool cupcakes completely before icing it.

CARAMEL SYRUP

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

**In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush.

** Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

**When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

**Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

***Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

12 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted

4-6 tablespoons heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup

Kosher or sea salt to taste

**Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.
**Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time.

**When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated.

**Add salt to taste.

***Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Have you Hugged Your Sister Lately?




It's Hug Your Sister Week, and Cathe at "Just Something I Made", which is a great little blog that I follow, has asked her readers to join in and blog about memories they have of their sister. She is even throwing in the cute clip art to copy for your blog. She is always generous like that!

Well, let me tell you about my sister. Of course, she isn't my sister by blood, but we always consider ourselves sisters. I never had a sister, and then my brother didn't come along for 11 years later. We have known each other since I was 4 yo and she was 5 yo. Our parents were in the same club and introduced us to each other. She has two older sisters, but I think she thought it was nice to have her own little sister, so she wasn't the baby in the family..LOL

There were times when we were inseparable, and then times when she went off to Jr. High before me, and then High School. She was always one step ahead of me in everything.....


We have had the best times together growing up. Playing Paper dolls and Barbie, EasyBake Oven baking, ice skating, and going in halves on a water paddle board, so we could paddle all over the lake to see our friends. We were even cheerleaders in High School together, when I finally talked her into it!

Then of course our vacations together....when we were younger we went camping with our parents, then as we got older we were able to go on our own trips together. Great trips for her Senior Trip for Spring Break to Daytona, where she let me tag along... and Myrtle Beach for my Senior Trip after graduation, and it was just the two of us against the world.

We would then go on to College, where I would introduce her to her future husband. Then he would become her other best friend, and they would travel all over the United States for the Air Force. We would get together occasionally through the years, when we could. I was her Maid of Honor and she was mine.

Now, she has settled on the West Coast, and me on the East, but we still remain Sisters in our hearts. We have been Sisters now for almost 40 years. I am so glad we meet those many years ago, and can't wait to see what the next 40 years brings us.


This is a picture of us in the back of a limo, when we spent the day in Napa Valley going to wineries, what a great day. I had gone out to visit for her daughter's graduation from High School. As I said she is always a step in front of me, I have 5 more years for that to happen....
During this week and always, I love you dear Sister!!!! Wish I could hug you in person!

Friday, November 7, 2008

13 Going on 30 Party!

Do you remember this movie? It hasn't been that long since it was out. I thought it would be a great theme party for a girl turning 13. A make-over and a photo shoot, where each girl would go home with a magazine cover of herself. So a couple of weeks ago, just before Halloween, we threw this birthday bash! The girls had a good time and were amazed at all the candy and cupcakes that were at their disposal.


They would also watch this great movie, which has a Thriller line dance in it, Remember that?


They would gossip and talk about boys, and other giggly teenage things they do!



They would feast on cupcakes and nostalgic candy from the 70's.
And of course, can't forget the pizza!

They each would have their own make-up station, of which they could take home with them.
And I would set their hair in rollers.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My Birthday Cake...German Chocolate!



When it comes to celebrating my birthday, I always make a German Chocolate Cake, when possible. I just love the frosting, and the cake reminds me of my childhood (the late 60's). I don't know why, because my mother never made it. I think it is the fact that when I started baking, I made German Chocolate, and declared that it was MY BIRTHDAY CAKE. When I was younger, it was nice to find that Betty, as in Crocker, had a can of that special pecan-coconut frosting for sale on the shelf. Anyway, here's the recipe if you find yourself craving this for your birthday. Otherwise, you maybe able to find the mix on the shelf......



INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup water
4 (1 ounce) squares German sweet chocolate
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites



FROSTING INGREDIENTS
1 cup white sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


DIRECTIONS
**Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 3 - 9 inch round pans. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat water and 4 ounces chocolate until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool.



**In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 4 egg yolks one at a time. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, mixing just until incorporated.



**In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.



**Pour into 3 - 9 inch pans Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto wire rack.



To make the Frosting:


** In a saucepan combine 1 cup sugar, evaporated milk, 1/2 cup butter, and 3 egg yolks. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Cool until thick enough to spread.
**Spread frosting between layers and on top of cake.
So sit back, pour a Tall glass of milk , and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Voting Today???



VS


Whom ever you may vote for,

hopefully it will be a better tomorrow,

than it is today!

Monday, November 3, 2008

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE!

I took the girls and their friends this past week to see the stage tour of "So You Think You Can Dance" with backstage passes...HOW EXCITING!!!! If you haven't seen the show, it is definitely a must. It is from the producers of American Idol, and is featured during the summer months. They will have auditions around the country for next season, starting next week, then the top 20 go on to do the show on FOX.
We meet up with Kherington. She is the daughter of my friend Sheri, whom I have known since my high school days, and was my college roommate. Sheri and her family live in Southern California.

Kherington has been dancing since she was 2 1/2 years old, and when she turned 18, she knew she wanted to try out for the show. She succeeded in making it to the top ten, and going on tour. How exciting to be 18 and tour across the United States. And what doors have opened up for her. The sky's the limit and she is just now on the escalator on her way up! Look for her in the new remake of the movie "Fame", the shooting starts this month.



This is Chelsea, she is one of Kherington's Buddies also performing on the tour. She is so beautiful. She can eat anything and is so toned!


This is TWITCH, he was the runner-up. The girls go crazy over this hip-hopper. He is so kind to everyone. He was Kherington's partner for the first 5 weeks of the show. He loves super heroes!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween Everyone! Well, I have been busy, busy. This week is always the craziest, trying to get costumes ready, and Halloween treats made. I made a load of kettle corn, and baked dozens of cookies : chocolate/chocolate, pumpkin cut outs, and pumpkin with cream cheese frosting. The smell of baked goods and glitter was everywhere.
Then we went out for a walk around the neighborhood and the kids loaded up on candy. I usually confiscate what I can to bake into cookies or brownies later.
A Chef , A Vampire,


A Ragdoll, and Jack Sparrow!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Baker Challenge.....Pizza Dough




This was my first challenge with the Daring Bakers. It is an interesting group of bakers that take on the challenge of producing the same recipe of the same item and alternating it a tad to accommodate their dietary or religious needs. All involved, post the recipe on the same day. The challenge subject is kept a secret up until then. So, you will not know what I am making until the day I post. Scroll down to the Daring Baker Button on the left to check out other bloggers involved in the challenge!

This month's recipe that was chosen, was one of my favorite things to eat....Pizza! I make Pizza here at home once a week. This recipe was a challenge to me because I normally use my pizza dough the same day. The trick to this dough is that it must be refrigerated at least 24 hours before resting for 2 hours on the bench, and then formed. It was also required that you attempt to toss the dough. Which I wasn't very good at, and didn't have anyone to take a picture of my failed attempt! And yes, I did use a baking stone, which is worth the price to make your pizzas on.

I preceded to make all 6 pizza, in which the dough was awesome---crisp yet tender! Because I have children, I went easy on 3 of them: 2 pepperoni, 1 cheese, 1 meatball and peppers, 1 pepperoni and bacon, and 1 goat cheese spread, bacon, and cheese. All were delish! I would definitely make this again if I can think ahead to do it the day ahead, because sometimes my pizza decision is last minute. I know the directions are long, but , it is definitely worth it!

~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches round.
Ingredients:
**4 1/2 Cups bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled -
**3/4 Tsp Salt
**1 Tsp Instant yeast
**1 3/4 Cups Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
**1 Tb sugar
**cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE
Method:
*Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer)

*Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

*Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

* With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).
*Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball

*Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

*Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking.

DAY TWO
*On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 in thick and 5 in. in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

*At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

*When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

*Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

*Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.
*Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving

ENJOY!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Time for Kettle Corn!


It's that time a year in New England where Kettle Corn is predominant at all the festival. And also, is a great treat for Halloween or Pumpkin Carving Parties. And if you still hand out homemade treats to your trick or treaters this is a great snack!

Today, I'm attending the Annual Grass Girls Pumpkin Carving Party and I know they love kettle Corn. So what better Hostess gift to bring. It was very easy and cheap to make. I had all the ingredients on hand. There is a great video on YouTube here, to really explain how easy it is.

After it was finished I added my special touch of drizzling milk chocolate and orange candy melts on it. Simply delicious!!

INGREDIENTS -
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. popping corn
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. granulated sugar
1 T. course salt

DIRECTIONS -
* Place oil in a tall popping pan with a lid. Let it get really hot!! Add popcorn , cover and let it pop, after the first couple pops, turn down the temperature to MED. Continue to shake and pop.
* When you hear no more popping, add in remaining ingredients and shake the pot completely. You may even take a wooden spoon and stir it to make sure everything was mixed in. (May need more salt depending on your taste)
* Take off burner and allow to cool. Spread out on a cookie sheet and drizzle milk chocolate over it. Allow to dry before packing it away.
ENJOY!