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I chose this recipe out of the few that were left, because a) I love fudge and b) I have never made fudge before.

And as of today, both of the above are still true.—I’m an SMS failure. My sincere apologies to everyone! Things have been a bit crazy these past few weeks.

Here is the recipe. I hope those of you that made it enjoyed!

Pistachio Opera Fudge

4 cups sugar
1 and 1/3 cups whole milk
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped

Butter an 8x8x2 inch square cake pan.

1. In a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, milk, corn syrup, and salt. Stir until the mixture comes to a simmer. cover and let simmer for 3 minutes.
2. Uncover and bring to a boil. Do not stir. When it reaches 238F on a candy thermometer, remove from the heat. Let the pan cool on a wire rack – again, do not stir- until it reaches 110F on thermometer.
3. Once it has reached 110F, with a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla and butter until creamy, about 15 minutes. The fudge will start out shiny and slightly blond in color. As you stir it and incorporate air, the fudge will lose its gloss and become lighter and thicker.
4. Stir in the pistachios.
5. Transfer the fudge to the prepared pan, and spread evenly by pressing with clean hands. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap flush against the surface of the fudge and set aside for 2 hours, or until thoroughly cooled and set.
6. When cooled, unmold the fudge and cut it into 2-inch squares.

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Me at the moment

Makes my heart smile….dogs in cones

My favorite decor…..whimsical

What is keeping me up at night….FDR

On my shopping list…..a staple gun

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Don’t you love it when you set out to bake or cook from a recipe and you have all of the ingredients on hand? Makes you feel like a bonafide foodie, no?

It was a late weeknight when I pulled the Sweet Melissa book down from the shelf, ran my finger down the list of ingredients, and almost keeled over when I realized I didn’t have to make a trip to the grocery store.

I’m still at once-a-month SMS baker; I really wanted to bake with chocolate, so I was happy to see “Chocolate Walnut Brownies” selected by Tiffany of A Spoonful and A Heap. Visit her blog and check out the complete recipe

Confession: I did have to improvise to avoid a trip to my neighborhood supermarket. I did not have the 4 oz of unsweetened chocolate that the recipe calls for. However, I did have unsweetened cocoa, which conveniently provided the recipe for a substitution of unsweetened chocolate: 3 tbs of cocoa powder plus 1 tbs of oil = 1 oz chocolate. Perfect!

Or so I thought. The brownies turned out somewhere in the middle on a scale between “ok” and “fine but nothing special.” Lesson learned? Don’t make substitutions when a recipe calls for “best quality chocolate”. Additionally, I think some chocolate chips mixed into the brownie might have added some needed chocolateyness, which is what I want when I eat a brownie.

All in all: good, but not great. I would have to try the recipe again with the proper chocolate to give it a fair chance!

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Oh, you’re in for a treat. Figuratively and literally.

This is an easy recipe. Five ingredients! Need I say more?

Ingredients:

-6 ounces best-quality solid semisweet (58%) chocolate
-One 14-ounce bag sweetened coconut
-Zest of 1 orange
-1 cup sugar
-3 large egg whites

Before you start:
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

1. Using a serrated bread knife, finely chop the chocolate. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine the coconut and zest, and rub together with your hands. (This will break up the coconut and release the orange oils).
3. Stir in the sugar and chocolate to the coconut and mix to combine. Add the egg whites. Use your hands to mix until everything is coated and the egg whites are distributed evenly.
4. Using a 1 ounce cookie scoop, firmly pack the dough into the schoop and unmold about 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cookies are goldeb brown. remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

The cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Do not unwrap before defrosting.

I love these three flavors together. Although my macaroons turned out a bit dry (I think I may have put in too much coconut or baked them for too long), they were still delicious! Enjoy!

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Eating right and exercising while traveling or on vacation is never easy. But somehow, I managed to eat well and work out regularly while on a business trip in Kansas City. I even went 5 days with no desserts, and I squeezed in a decent work out 4 days in a row.

But all good things must come to an end.

Case and point: This is what yesterday looked like…

1) The day started out promising, with a fruit salad and Odwall chocolate chip trail mix bar for breakfast.

2) Then there was time to kill at the airport, so a tall Mocha was ordered at Starbucks. Ok. Fine.

3) Then there was grabbing a lunch to take on the plain. Alright, not a lot of options, so I settled on a huge Everything bagel with egg and tomato slices. Not the best, but not a big deal. Yet.

4) Starving and exhausted, I arrived in Austin. I suggested Happy Hour to Lucas, so we went to Z’Tejas. This is where things got really ugly. We each had a frozen margarita and split chips & queso, a plate of shredded pork nachos, and the famous ancho chili fudge pie. With whipped cream. And ice cream.

Oh, we enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong. But it’s always the aftermath that gets you. I waddled out of the restaurant like a pregnant lady, I could barely move! We went to bed feeling disgusted, and both of us woke up in the night with stomach aches. Never again! (Yeah right….)

This morning called for detox.

Breakfast: Fresh juice (carrots, apple, orange, celery) and later a bowl of oatmeal mixed with carrot pulp.
Lunch: Salad greens with brown rice and sunflower seeds, tossed in olive oil
Dinner: We’re hanging out with Jill on her last night before she leaves for San Diego, so we kept it simple with ham & cheese sandwiches and chips.

Green heart:
-I took the Airport Flyer (bus) to and from the airport.
-I brought a set of silverware and a cloth napkin to use while traveling.

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The month of May flew by. As a member of Sweet Melissa Sundays, I committed to baking at least one designated SM recipe per month. So, there it was, May 29th, and having not touched a mixing bowl and leaving early the next morning for a conference, I had painted myself into a corner. Twas time to bake.

The recipes both for the filling and the dough were easy, although it took me quite a bit of time, primarily because I lack organizational/cleaning skills in the kitchen.  When I wear the apron, the kitchen becomes a disaster area, the ingredients performing double duty as principal actors in the recipe and as culinary soldiers, declaring war on my kitchen. Flour on the counters, butter smeared on the cabinet doors, egg shells laying in a pool of yolk, dishes, spoons, and measuring cups on their sides, having long surrendered.  A sore site for eyes. Mainly my husband’s.

The oven timer signaled the pie was ready at half-past midnight. Too late to sneak a taste (ok, I probably would have had I not had a generous slice of Lucas’s famous orange cake at Brittaney’s BBQ), but I did have a small bite this morning while packing a piece for the road (or air, if you will).  The custard filling was flavorful: the vanilla and coconut (I used unsweetened as it was all I had on hand) were standouts. The crust did not disappoint, although, with an entire stick of butter, it had no right to do otherwise. It wasn’t the crumbly, salty and otherwise tasteless crust that I associate with pies, rather it was firm and buttery, like a shortbread.

Check out the Coconut Custard Pie recipe at I Dream of Baking, posted by this week’s SMS host, Ruby.

 

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Around the ‘hood

Fitness:
-15 minute ab class
-50 minutes Zumba class
-45 minutes Body Pump class

Food:
Breakfast: Whole grain toast with 2 tbs of crunchy peanut butter
Lunch: Leftover chicken tacos
Snack: 4 caramels; a small apple; small cup of cereal with soymilk and raisins
Dinner: Steamed cauliflower in a tomato cream sauce, sauteed veggies, brown rice

My parents were in Austin last weekend. Saturday morning, we walked to our local bakery for breakfast. Here are some of the sights along the way….

…..”Hyde Park – R.I.P”?

I love this little farm-house-like home.

Mom rocking the holey jeans….

Now this is a storybook home. Straight from a fairy tale!

Fork you!

The bakery….

Le Menu…

My breakfast:

That’s all, folks!

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