Monday, January 31, 2011

Super Bowl Fun

Now, if I was still a resident of Pittsburgh, I'd just join everyone else at church on Sunday and wear my favorite Steelers t-shirt with a skirt, but I'm afraid that might be frowned upon here in ol' AZ.  I guess we'll have to see how daring I'm feeling when Sunday rolls around. :)  But man oh man ... how I wish I was in Pittsburgh right now.  I know that city is going nuts preparing for Sunday.  I did get to experience the Steelers going to AND winning two Super Bowl games while we lived in Pittsburgh.  It was fantastic!!

Of course I'm looking forward to making and eating lots of delish food on Sunday.  I think we're leaning towards a huge nacho bar complete with meats, beans, cheeses, guac, salsas, sour cream, and all kinds of other toppings. It has to be yummy enough for Super Bowl Sunday, but also healthy enough to call it dinner for the family.  I'm sure there will be other goods and of course fizzies to suck through a straw, but I'm still thinking ....  What is a must have for your Super Bowl Sunday table?

I came across this Super Bowl food idea today and just had to share.  It looks like tons of fun!

Photos from Super Bowl Sunday 2009:

GO STEEELRS!!!!!!!!!!!!

This article was printed in the Sept. 2008 issue of GQ:

73 Reasons We're Living in a Golden Age of Football

{this right off of page 294 in the september issue of gq, written by jeannie marie laskas}

no. 8 because the cowboys may be america's team, but the steelers are god's team.

a steelers game is a holy war, a fight for what is virtuous and right. to live here in pittsburgh, where heinz field sits like a fat temple bursting with kielbasa-loving believers, is to know all there is to know. unflinching, unconditional, ours is a faith handed to us from grandpa or great-grandpa, the guy who first got the season tickets and passed them down through generations. (the waiting list for season tickets is ten years long- you have to wait until someone dies.) divorcing couples have been known to wage custody battles over season tickets; ex-husbands give in and sit with ex-wives, sharing nachos and cold iron. hey, it's the steelers.

we are born into our religion, and we are baptized, and we receive our communion. a steelers fan never strays. you move to denver, or to some fancy sunbelt place, or even to california, you stay a steeler fan. people say the cowboys are america's team, and we think that is so adorable. so very precious. listen people: the steelers are god's team. hometown boy bill cowher having passed along to sainthood, we embrace a new messiah, mike tomlin, trusting in the guidance of our holiest family, the rooneys (because they're from pittsburgh). and now, of course, we have big ben roethlisberger, who can make us more than a tiny bit nervous, and hines ward, with his eternal smile (he smiles, we think, because he gets to play for pittsburgh), and troy polamalu, who embodies the sort of humanity we expect of our steelers. good people. good people. hey, they play for pittsburgh- a rusty promised land where there is so little left to be proud of. so we will sit and wave our terrible towels and battle the gray chill that cuts to the bone, wave that towel, wave that towel in praise. we will do this because this is our life's work. we will continue to give birth to baby steeler fans, and we will continue our charge to take over the world, to convert you and you and you. we are missionaries charged with leading you toward the light of steeler nation. it's probably a rule in the bible somewhere. oh, it probably is.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Double Chocolate Loaf with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Spread

I had promised the girls I teach each Sunday a baked treat as part of their lesson today.  I ended up taking an extra class today, so I doubled the recipe for the Double Chocolate Loaf and had lots of tasters.  Before I started my lesson, I started a new tradition with my class (one that I learned while teaching in Pittsburgh) ... Sweet & Sour.  It was something that I had kinda forgotten about but it came to my mind the other day and thought that it's just what I need in my class as a way to feel closer to each other and open some lines of communication.  So as the platter of chocolate loaf bread & PB spread went around the room, I got to hear the sweets & sours of each girls' week.  My sour of the week: assessments at symphony that we had to play in front of the whole first violin section ... talk about nerve-racking!  My sweet for the week: being able to de-stress by baking & enjoying TWO great chocolate desserts this week.

The loaf's taste reminded me a little bit of those chocolate-chocolate chip muffins that you buy at Sam's Club or Costco.  We enjoyed our loaves, but had a few issues with them.  I baked a few different sizes and my largest sized loaves fell in the middle.  My loaves were also a tad dry and very crumbly.  So there is possibly something that I did incorrectly along the way.  My eggs felt somewhat small to me in my hands as I was cracking them, so maybe I should've added an extra egg???  The Peanut Butter spread was a huge hit among my little kiddies and the girls I taught this morning.  But I think it would be fun to try other flavors like strawberry or raspberry mixed with the cream cheese & then put on top of the chocolate bread.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Michel Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake: French Fridays with Dorie

This week I found a real winner of a recipe while participating with my French Fridays with Dorie online cooking group.  There have been some recipes that I've loved ... our first recipe, the cheese puffs ... and the apple cake has been baked numerous times in our home.  In fact, I should get busy with another apple cake because I have a bunch of apples in my fridge that need to be used.

But this week's recipe .... ahhhhh!!!  Heavenly!!  (And I'm a picky chocolate person.)  I didn't have a chance to try Michel Rostang's Double Chocolate Mousse Cake last week cause my life has been insane recently and I decided I'd rather do the chocolate cake then the scheduled chicken recipe for this week.

I do not own an 8 in. springform pan ... only a 9 in., so I ended up doubling my recipe and then I used two small (probably about 4 in.) springform pans for the leftovers, so I was able to try all three versions of the cake.  (The cookbook gives three ways that this cake can be made/served.)  I left the bottoms on all my pans & just buttered them well.  In the future, I think if I wanted to make sure the cakes came out pretty & onto a serving platter, I'd just cut some parchment paper to fit the bottom of my pan.  No problems with cooking the cake with the bottom of the pan.  Also, I'm not a coffee drinker, so I substituted water, a healthy tablespoon or so of vanilla, and a little hazelnut syrup for the coffee.  I couldn't taste any of the hazelnut in the finished product, but I might add even more vanilla next time.  I had also considered subbing hot cocoa for the coffee but decided against it since hot cocoa mixes usually have dried milk and other things added to them.  Another FFWD baker did try hot cocoa & had success.  The firm/glossy egg whites seemed to be a hang-up among a lot of members in the group.  I beat mine until they had soft peaks.

I poured batter into the bottom of all 3 pans and baked the "crust".  The remainder of the batter is then refrigerated.  When the crusts had baked & cooled, I poured more mousse batter on top of each crust.  (This recipe uses the same batter for the crust & the cake which makes it super easy once the batter is all made.)  I picked a small pan to leave "raw" meaning the crust was baked but after I poured more batter on top of the crust, it was just refrigerated and not cooked anymore.  I chose another small cake to bake again and serve warm.  It was delicious.  Very moist, but after trying it, I wondered if it was worth the work for something that tasted a lot like a flourless chocolate cake, which is a little easier to make.  For my 9 in cake, I also baked it all the way, but chilled it for several hours before serving it because Dorie writes in the cookbook that this is her favorite way to eat the cake.  This was BY FAR our favorite way too. (I also had some friends stop by and try all three ways ... they too prefered the all baked & chilled version.) It was like a very dark, fudgy, moist, heavenly ... cake.  It doesn't really have a traditional cake texture and I wouldn't really compare it to a brownie either.  This cake needs no to ice cream or anything to detract from it's wonderful-ness.

{Baked all the way & served warm.}

{Baked crust & "raw" mousse on top.}

{Completely baked & chilled ...
the favorite way to enjoy this cake!}

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Young Women Manual 3, Lesson 3: Living the Gospel Daily

I'm WAY behind in blogging.  Over a week ago, I prepared and taught lesson #3 from manual 3 to my laurel class.  Yesterday our bishop taught all the youth and I was thrilled to hear the girls answering his questions using the things we had talked about the previous week when we did lesson #3 ... it's nice to see that something stuck AND that they were paying attention to what I was teaching them!!

I started my lesson by drawing a blank food pyramid on the chalkboard.  I had the girls help me fill it in.  (You can find lots of food pyramids online if you'd rather just print one.)  I then added another level of the pyramid to the bottom and we filled it in using things that we need to have in our daily life to stay close to God and the gospel.  HERE is where I got the idea for the spiritual-food pyramid.

I used a lot of Angela's lesson helps.  I like the questions she asks and they help the girls dig a little deeper.  I used her handouts as well and made copies for each of my girls.  We used the last 5 minutes of class to listen to the song, "I Need Thee Every Hour" while the girls filled in their goals for the week using Angela's handouts.  I'm glad I brought the music.  When I passed out the goal sheets, the girls immediately started chatting, but as soon as the music came on, they quieted down and got busy with their goals.

I used this LINK to make the suggested bookmarks.  I was worried that my homemade bookmarks might be a little childish for my laurels (16-18yr old girls), but they were SO excited when I pulled them out & immediately started talking about how & where they were going to use them.  The blonde girls in the class particularly liked them. :)  I laminated the bookmarks at home and added a little bit of bright ribbon to them.

You can also download this video & use it.  (You do NOT have to have internet access at the church if you download it to a laptop or ???)  I showed this video somewhat recently for a different lesson, so I opted not to use it this time around, but it's still a great option:

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnuts: Baked Sunday Mornings

Last Sunday, we had a family dinner at my parents' home because one of my sisters & her newborn baby were getting ready to head back home to Idaho and we needed one last excuse to hang-out and eat food before she left.  We decided to make our Baked recipe for the week since it looked like something we could make fairly quickly after dinner was cleaned up.  My mom did most of the mixing & cooking and I took photos and worked on dresses that I'm sewing/smocking for my girls.

 We "decorated" our doughnuts with chocolate frosting, vanilla frosting, cinnamon & sugar, sprinkles, coconut flakes, & slice almonds.  The cinnamon-sugar-coated doughnuts were definitely my favorite!!  And I think this might be a favorite doughnut recipe for me.  I loved the spices that were mixed into the dough, the texture was very nice, and cake doughnuts always rate high on my list.

If you are interested in the recipe or seeing the results of other bakers, go HERE.

Finally, I was wondering how all of YOU fry food.  My mom takes her cast iron dutch ovens outside and she has a whole set-up for making her french fries, doughnuts, etc out at one end of her yard.  When we made the doughnuts, she plugged her electric skillet into an outlet on the patio and did our frying there since this was a pretty quick recipe.  She said that she has tried those non-stick frying appliances that have a lid that closes but that the non-stick material comes off after a while because of the high temperatures.  So, what's the best way to fry without making a horrible mess in the kitchen and stinking up the whole house??

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Gnocchi a la Parisienne: French Fridays with Dorie

I waited until last minute and made my gnocchi dish for dinner tonight.  I expected it to be a french version of mac n cheese.  I've never been a huge fan of gnocchi ... they're just OK in my book ... kinda slimy! :)  BUT my husband loves gnocchi and sometimes orders it when we go out to eat at Italian restaurants.

Hubby lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a couple of years and the Argentines have not just one official gnocchi day in a year, but TWELVE official gnocchi days!!  On the 29th of every month, they figure it is the poorest day of the month because it's the day before payday.  Gnocchi is cheap, but filling, so everyone enjoys gnocchi with hopes of prosperity.  One peso coin (or one penny) is placed under each plate while eating.  Hubby says the gnocchi that he ate while in Argentina was made with a potato dough and usually topped with a marinara type sauce.

I found the gnocchi dish to be very time consuming and I ended up with a lot of dirty pots by the time I was done.  My sauce was too thick, so I added some more whole milk.  If I were to make it again, I'd reduce the amount of flour in the sauce.  Two members of my family said the finished product reminded them of scrambled eggs.  I have to say that I kinda agree.  My three yr old son is my best eater and he kept eating, and eating, and eating tonight.  I made green beans (with some garlic, onion, & tomatoes) to go with the gnocchi dish ... a nice crusty bread would've also been nice.   

P.S. I started making my gnocchi using the spoon method.  Too slow.  I then dumped all the dough into a Ziploc bag, cut one edge, and with scissors, cut piece of dough over the pot of boiling water.  Much faster & easier!!  And no clean-up if you use a Ziploc bag rather than a pastry bag. :)

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Year's Wedding

Our good friend, Iulia, got married on 1-1-11.  I can't think of a better way to spend New Year's Day than at a wedding.  It was a blast!!  (and you can't top lots of good food!)  Because of freezing cold temps (well, at least for AZ), they opted to move their wedding indoors.  Everything was beautiful, especially the bride & groom in flip-flopped colors ... so fun!

My mom & I were in charge of the desserts ...

... we did a table of cupcakes ...

The kiddies had a blast dancing the night away ...

... and eating lots of treats!

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Coming to Know the Savior: Young Women Manual 3, Lesson 2

This past Sunday, I taught lesson #2 in manual 3 to my laurel class.  I was thankful for the opportunity to teach this lesson because it's a topic that's been on my mind a lot and I felt strongly that it was something my girls needed to hear.  While I got ready for church, I tried to not get to caught up in the "getting ready" stuff because I wanted to be in the right frame of mind for such an important topic.  I listened to Rob Gardner's Lamb of God while I got ready.  (If you live in Utah, Lamb of God will be performed in April.)

I used quite a bit of Angela's Lesson Helps when I was planning my lesson.  I felt like the questions and comments she shared are much more applicable to my girls then some of the questions in the manual.  One thing that I kept reiterating over & over is that we have to let Christ in.

I really liked this handout/quote & gave a copy to each girl in my class.

And just for fun, I gave each of the girls a water bottle with this label around it.

Toward the end of my lesson, I showed this video clip:

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Paris Mushroom Soup: French Fridays with Dorie

This week, all the FFwD chefs worked on the recipe for Paris Mushroom Soup.  I L-O-V-E mushrooms, so this is a recipe that I was excited to try!  Again, another fairly simple recipe and it was nice to have something warm & comforting to eat this week.  This soup reminded me of a mushroom soup I had in Moscow, Russia when I was looking for something to settle my tummy/nerves and the Wildflower Bread Co has a similar soup that I tried after having my wisdom teeth pulled this past summer.  Obviously, I go to mushroom soups when I want to be comforted!

One & a half pounds of mushrooms are sauteed with garlic & onions in butter. (Next time I might try a couple varieties of mushrooms.)  Chicken broth, herbs, & spices are added.  (I made mine without the rosemary this time around ... so just fresh parsley in my soup.)

A "salad" is put into each of the bowls.  My salads consisted of raw mushrooms, green onions, & more parsley.

I pureed my soup with a hand/immersion blender and then ladled it into the bowls on top of the salad.  We added a little sour cream to our soup.  I wished that the soup was a touch more creamy, so next time I might add some heavy cream to the pot when it's close to serving time.  Overall, I really enjoyed this soup and it's a recipe that I'd definitely make again and play with a bit.  Trying soup on top of the "salad" was a new experience but after trying the soup without the salad, I think I prefer no salad.  One other thing I thought about doing is making some sauteed mushrooms in a separate skillet and adding large, cooked mushroom chunks back into the soup after blending it and next time I'd definitely double the recipe!

I was trying to think of some sides or even a main course that would go well with this soup.  I think a hearty bread or a piece of baguette might be better than a soft dinner roll.  Another thought I had is something like a panini sandwich ... warm, crispy bread with melted cheese.  If I went the salad route, I'd go with something that has fruits, candied nuts, and a sweet dressing.

Want to see the results of other chefs?  Go HERE!

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Almond Joy Tart: BAKED Sunday Mornings

Have you heard of BAKED in NYC?  They've only been around since 2005, but have already made their mark on dessert-lovers and bakers across the country.  They've been highlighted in numerous top-notch magazines, cookbooks, and television shows such as Oprah, Martha Stewart, The Today Show ... just to name a few.   They also have two cookbooks out now that are VERY popular.

I know that my cooking expeditions with Dorie Greenspan already keep me quite busy, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to join another blogging group that is working their way through the newest Baked cookbook, Baked Explorations.  (You can still join, if you are interested!)  The rules are simple: 1. Get your own copy of the cookbook (if you look around a bit online, you can get it with shipping for around $20)  2. Bake as much as you can.  3. Don't publish the recipe on your blog.  They are only baking every other week, so it's not terribly demanding.  And even though I'm not allowed to post the recipe on my blog, the blog where we all post our results will post the recipe each time, so if you see something you like on my blog, just hop over to get the recipe.

This week was my first opportunity to participate with BAKED Sunday Mornings.  I made the Almond Joy Tart, a fairly easy dessert.  I started by making the almond tart dough (when I ground up the toasted almonds in my food processor, the aroma was heavenly!) & white chocolate ganache one night after my kiddies were in bed.    The dough and ganache went into the fridge overnight.  The following night, I pulled the dough out of the fridge.  It was very easy to roll-out, but I had a terrible time getting it into my tart shell without it ripping in several places ... so much that I rolled that dough out 4 times before I finally got it safely into my tart shell!!  Bad, I know, but it had to be done. I used a tart pan that's probably about 8 inches and then I put the leftover dough into mini tart pans.

While my tart shells were baking in the oven, I whipped up my white chocolate ganache & added lots of coconut and then I decide to use vanilla extract instead of rum.  Once the white chocolate ganache/coconut yumminess was into my tart shells, I spread a layer of chocolate ganache on top.

I served my Almond Joy Tarts on New Years Eve.  They seemed to be a hit.  I'm not a big fan of white chocolate, but I still enjoyed the dessert.  My sisters both liked it a lot & at least one of them said it was good enough that they'd take the time to make the recipe themselves.  They both seemed to like the filling a lot more than the crust though.  One idea one of my sisters had was to leave the coconut out and use oreos for the crust and mix candy-canes &/or peppermint in with the white chocolate.  Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe's O's would be fun to play with with this recipe!!

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