Tuesday, January 31, 2012

1/2 Hour Pudding

Let me tell you this one thing. I apparently don't always read recipes correctly.

I wasn't going to tell you this embarassing little fact, because I was pretty pouty after I did it. I thought I had messed up dessert completely. Luckily, it didn't turn out so bad. I mean, it wasn't as good as it would have been if I didn't forget one (major) ingredient, but it just turned out to be less sweet. So, if you like things that aren't as sweet (but really, who would?), then the way that I did it may be the way for you. I'm not going to give you the recipe the wrong way though. I'll just tell you what I did.

This is called 1/2 hour pudding because it takes half an hour in the oven once it is all put together. I suggest that you make this while dinner is cooking, and as soon as you put dinner on the table, stick this bad boy in the oven so it is ready for you to eat right after. It is best served warm and gooey.

I also hope you like raisins, and caramel, and cake...because that's pretty much what this is.

I also didn't realize that I had forgot a major ingredient until it came out of the oven, and my mom asked me if I had put the brown sugar in, since it seemed lighter than it was supposed to. I was like "Duh. Of course I did. That's the most important part of the sauce." Yeah, no. That's not where I missed it. Apparently it was supposed to go into the cake part as well. Pouting ensued, followed by people saying that they would still eat it, and it probably wasn't going to be much difference. The sauce is really sweet as it is, so I guess that helped. I continued to put all through eating it even, since it didn't taste right. It didn't taste bad, just...not right.

Ok, enough complaining aside. Read the recipe, do it properly, and you'll enjoy. I promise.

1/2 Hour Pudding

Ingredients for the cake:

1/2 cup brown sugar              1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour                             2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk                           1 cup raisins

Mix the dry ingredients together (brown sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder and raisins).

This is without the brown sugar - remember, don't forget that ingredient!

Add the milk.

Mix together until it is doughy/cakey/batter.

Ingredients for the sauce:
2 cups boiling water
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

Mix these ingredients together.

Pour over the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve while warm. The sauce thickens up underneath, so make sure you have lots of that over top of the cake part. Yum!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Challah bread

It's a good thing that I type these things out, instead of making videos or something. Since Friday, I've had this super awesome chest cold. First I started out sounding like a man, and now I pretty much don't have a voice. At least the invisible 400lbs person isn't sitting on my chest today.

But let's talk about bread.

Bread is sort of time consuming. I've made bread once by myself, and I think it took most of the day. If I started early in the morning it probably wouldn't have, but why would I wake up early? Anyways. I tend to not make bread by myself, because of this. Remember how I told you that my dad makes bread all the time? Well, when I am visiting him, or he is here visiting, I try to con/bribe/sweet talk  him into making bread with me. It doesn't seem as time consuming this way, because then I get to hang out with my parents while waiting for the bread to rise and such. And really, it doesn't take much to get him to bake bread with me. I think he likes it or something? (That was sarcasm a little bit. He does.) So I had asked him if over Christmas, while I was home, if we could bake this bread called Challah bread. He said sure! But...then Christmas came and went, and I was back home, facepalming, because I completely forgot about wanting to make that bread. Luckily for me, I went home again 3 weeks later, and he remembered! Hooray!

If you don't know, Challah bread is a bread that has eggs in it. Most bread, or at least, the bread that is made in my family, doesn't typically have eggs in it. So it ends up having a bit of a different taste. Plus, the best part about it, is that it looks cool. It's braided!

That was what caught my attention when I found the recipe. The recipe I used can be found here. It only makes one loaf, but that was okay, since it was a pretty big loaf.

We ended up having it with dinner the day we made it, and everyone seemed to think it was really good! Hooray for a successful bread making day!

The only unfortunate part about it, was that it didn't look as cool when it was cut.

Uncut-braided-challah bread.

Cut-braided-challah bread. Boring!

I was also worried because of how dark it was getting in the oven! Part of that was because of the egg white wash on the top, but I think it also had to do with the fact that the oven at my parent's house runs a little bit hotter than it should. Even though we turned it down at least 10 degrees.

Regardless, it was a delicious side to dinner. I'd probably make it again, but next time with poppy seeds!

We made a slight alterations to the recipe, but nothing in the amount of ingredients. Instead of putting the water, yeast, salt and oil in all at once, we let the yeast dissolve and foam in the luke warm water for about 10-15 minutes first.

Another couple of tips, via the dad.
1) Use a plastic bag instead of a damp towel to cover the dough while it is rising. It holds the moisture/warmth in better

2) To clean your counters of the dough that has stuck to it while you are kneading, use the back side of a metal spatula. Takes that stuff off the counter like nobody's business!

(Please note - I did not do that. I probably would have tried to scrub it with a cloth...or my hands.)

Another good thing about baking bread with my dad? He cleans as we go. Enough said.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baby Shower Success!

I am currently hanging my head in shame.
I haven't posted in an entire week. I don't really have much of an excuse, other than I was away last weekend, and didn't bring my computer with me. I very easily could have used others that were around, but that's not really the point. It was a very busy, and very quick visit home. We went for a baby shower for my sister-in-law, and newest niece. By we, I mean, I got to ride in the van with my sister and her family, which was delightful, because then I didn't have to drive on the bad roads for six eight hours by myself.

We arrived at my parents' place, and had to get to work! A lot of stuff needed to be done, and I kind of neglected to take pictures. Except of the finished cupcakes.

See? Our colours for the shower were pink and lime green, hence the icing colours of the cupcakes. They actually went really well together! Anywho, ok, so, we didn't actually do much other than ice cupcakes the first night, because sitting in a vehicle for 8 hours is kind of tiring. Who'd a thunk it? And my dad actually did a bunch of stuff for us beforehand too. Handy dandy dude he is.

The next day we had to go to the grocery store, make a few more things, pick up the balloons, decorate, go back to search for more tablecloths because we apparently didn't buy enough the first time, set the food out, make the punch, and we just barely got it all done before our guests started arriving!

Once the guests of honour arrived, we got the party started! Food and punch for all, and then we played some games. A fun 20 questions game, a fill in the blank nursery rhyme game, and then a break for gift opening. My favourite game came afterwards. My sister and i melted and smooshed up some chocolate bars into diapers to make them look like poo. They were then passed around, and the girls had to guess what kind of chocolate bar it was. I really wish I took some photos of those, because they looked so gross. It was awesome. As a side note, if you're going to do one with mint, make sure you keep that separate, as any of the others around it will also smell like mint. It was pretty funny watching everyone sniff the poo chocolate bar diapers. Though it might have been even funnier watching the boys do it afterwards, when we made them play the game.

It was so great that everyone could come out and either meet the new baby, or see her again. She did wonderfully too! Let everyone pass her around, without getting fussy. I don't think I heard her fuss once, actually.

The cleanup was crappy. As usual. I should be called "Miss I-hate-cleaning-up-any-sort-of-mess". Luckily a lot of people helped, and my brother also came to help which was nice of him.

Then my sister and I walked back to my parents house. I carried all 20 balloons. I wish there was a picture of that too. I bet it was pretty funny looking. Until my brother swerved at us, and my mom started screaming "HELP" out the window. I screeched, and jumped. My sister snickered, like she knew it was going to happen. I quite enjoy my family. There is a lot of laughter when we're all together.

The next day I did some baking with my dad, and screwed up dessert. But I'll tell you about those soon.
Thanks for bearing with me and I'll start posting more regularly again, I promise!!

What's the best baby shower game you've ever played?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby Shower Cupcakes!

Tonight my sister, and I, plus our special little helper (my nephew) made cupcakes for the baby shower we're putting on this weekend. They are fun cupcakes, since they have sprinkles in them.

Do you see how bad I am at making cupcakes the same size? Wow. I didn't realize this was the case until they came out of the oven. I need to work on that I think. And they are a little flat. Did I do something wrong I wonder? Hm.
Anyways, they are going to be smothered in icing, so I'm not too worried about it. :P
The only difference we made to the recipe was that we used margarine instead of butter.
If you would like to know how to make these cupcakes, hop over here and check them out. Plus, those pictures are way way way better, and Jessica is pretty much amazing. I want to eat everything she makes. Yes, I say her name like we're friends. It's imaginary.


Remember how I told you I make a mess? Here's proof. Too bad I had already cleaned up the counter, I could have showed you that, too.

That's my sister's Kitchen Aid mixer, and I long to have one of those some day. I drool over them.

I don't think I was supposed to do this, but I took a sneaky picture after I put them in the oven. Maybe that's why they are flat.....

We're icing them in a couple days, I'll show you what they look like when we do.

Don't forget to have a look at the originals! And then prepare to spend hours on that site.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cooking for one

....is brutal.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I like to cook! Not as much as baking, but I like to cook. But cooking for just me? That is not fun at all. Not only do I have to half or quarter recipes that I find, but I have to decide what it is that I want to eat. You would think this task would be simple. "Oh, I feel like eating this tonight, well, I guess I don't have anyone else I need to feed, so ok!" But no. That is not how it goes. At least not for someone who is terrible at making decisions. Now if I was cooking for more than one person, I could say "What do you want for dinner!?" And they would tell me, and I would make it. Easy-peasy.  It actually usually goes something like this (and yes, this is all in my head):

"What should I make for dinner tonight?"
"Hmm. I don't know what do you feel like having?"
"Maybe chicken? Or something with beef?"
"How about pasta?"
"Nah, I don't feel like pasta."

And then it often ends with...

"Toast it is!"

Yep. I eat toast a lot. Well, less than I used to when I was in university, but probably more than I should.

And then when I do cook, I wonder why in the heck I don't do it more often. I do a pretty good job at whatever it is I make (at least I like it), but then I just feel like I've gone through all that work just for myself. Boring? Not bad to go through all that work to make myself a well-balanced meal or anything, just, no fun.  It's a vicious circle I tell you.

Oh, and then the clean up. The clean up of cooking is terrible. Maybe even worse than actually trying to figure out what it is that I want to make for myself. And I only have a sink. One sink. Not two, to make the washing of dishes easier, just one. And no dishwasher. The next place I live will have a dishwasher. But you probably figured out that I don't like cleaning up when I cook, since I don't like cleaning up when I bake either. What would be best is if I could bake for multiple people, and have THEM clean up! Oh that would be so delightful!

Next part that makes cooking for one brutal? The leftovers. I am so very very bad at eating leftovers. I've tried, but I just can't make myself eat the same meal more than 2 days a row. And if I'm making a full recipe of something, then I will have at least 4 meals, depending on what it is that I'm making. And you're probably wondering why I don't just put it in my freezer. It's because I have no room in my freezer, as it's already full of other meals that I thought I would freeze and eat at another time.....

I guess maybe I should set a goal of trying to cook real meals more often, instead of eating easy things like toast, and eggs, or other things which are so very easy to make, and don't take any thought.

Anyone want to be my personal chef?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lemon butter stuffed Cupcakes

So, my mom, sister-in-law and I made these beauties a little while back. We were on a crazy cupcake kick, and even though most of the recipes came from elsewhere, we thought of these at some point during the baking extravaganza.

Lemon butter is probably one of the most sinfully delicious things ever. And sort of a pain to make. Kind of like that butterscotch pie filling I told you about. Yep, one of those, standing at the stove stirring constantly until it thickens up. I don't know why I get myself into things like this. I always think it's a good idea to make lemon butter, and butterscotch pie, but then I get to stirring, and the mental facepalms begin. And the whining. And the wondering WHY I did this to myself. And then I swear to never ever do something like this again. Hah. Yeah right. Too delicious, and it actually is worth it. No joke. Make the lemon butter and just eat it with a spoon if you must. You will be in lemon heaven.

These cupcakes are an "I like lemon" must. Obviously. Lemon butter in the middle, lemon icing. Yep, you gotta like lemon. But it's just this refreshing, delicious flavour in a cupcake, who wouldn't like it!? Seriously.

Make some vanilla cupcakes, this is the recipe I use, just like in yesterdays post:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees first!

½ cup margarine (You could use butter, but I’m just too cheap to buy it)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
Cream the margarine and sugar, and add the eggs. Beat until combined.
Add in half the dry ingredients.
Add the milk.
Add the other half of the dry ingredients, and mix until it looks like cake batter.
Add in the vanilla and mix it in to the batter.

Spoon cupcake batter into cupcake papers, and bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes

While the cupcakes are baking, and subsequently cooling, making the lemon butter
You'll need:
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter (do not use margarine for this, even I didn't and I'm cheap)
1 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Beat eggs well. Add butter, sugar, and lemon juice. Put in top of double boiler and cook and stir constantly until thickened. This will at take at least 20 minutes. You will know it is done when you drag a spoon for it, and it makes a dent, and takes a second or two to fill back in. (I hope that makes sense). Store in the fridge, and sneak a spoonful occasionally (wash spoon after and return to drawer). (That tip was from my mom :) )

Once cupcakes are cool, put lemon butter into a decorating cupcake bag thing, (I use the ones from Wilton), and find the biggest tip you can. Stick the tip into the cupcake, and squeeze the lemon butter inside of them until it comes up to the top. Tip: Stick that Wilton tip as far into the cupcake as you can, (but don't hit the bottom!) then you will get the most lemon butter in the middle as possible.

Make this icing.
1/2 cup margarine/butter
2 - 2 1/2 cups icing sugar
Juice of half a lemon, or 1-2tsp lemon juice
1-2 tsp lemon zest
Maybe 1tbsp milk, but you probably won't need it with the lemon juice.

You can add more/less lemon as you see fit. I like it very lemon-y!

Ice cupcakes with the delicious icing. And you can decorate with extra lemon butter that you didn't eat with your spoon. Or get your sister-in-law to decorate with the lemon butter, which is what I did. Duh.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

So I thought it might be fun to try out a kind of cupcake that I had never done before. It is simple, but it reminds me of cheesecake, without having to go through all of the fuss to make a cheesecake. A simple vanilla cupcake batter, with a filling of fruit that has been cooked and turned into a soup-like mixture. That sounds kinds of gross, doesn't it? Well. It isn't. It tastes good. And the cupcakes, in my opinion, were a success! Oh yeah, and the part that makes them more like cheesecake is the cream cheese icing.

I'm delivering them tomorrow to my sister so my little cupcake-testers can try them out and let me know how they really are. 
Now, I was going to do these early this afternoon. I swear I had really good intentions. I bought my groceries before noon this morning (I am NOT a morning person, and would sleep until noon daily if I could). But then, I decided to read a little bit. And when I say "read", and it's a weekend day, it probably really means I'm going to nap. And, it's a truly poor idea to nap in the afternoon on a Sunday. At least for me it is. I will not be sleeping tonight. *facepalm*

Anyway, so I woke up from my nap all groggy-like, and set to work to make these cupcakes. They turned out to be a whole heck of a lot easier than I thought. I don't know why, but I expected them to explode! I think they could have used a little bit more filling. But maybe if I did that, then said explosion would have occurred. 

Strawberry Cheesecake cupcakes 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees first!
Then, you take your basic vanilla cupcake recipe. I use this one:
½ cup margarine (You could use butter, but I’m just too cheap to buy it)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ cup milk
2 tsp vanilla
Cream the margarine and sugar, and add the eggs. Beat until combined.
Add in half the dry ingredients.
Add the milk.
Add the other half of the dry ingredients, and mix until it looks like cake batter.
Add in the vanilla and mix it in to the batter.

For the Strawberry Filling
Chop up half a quart of strawberries (This is really a random guess. I used what I had left in my container)

2 tbsp sugar (give or take, depending on how sweet you like it)

Add a little bit of water in the bottom of a pot. Chop the strawberries up quite small, and toss them in. Slowly bring the fruit to a boil, and then add in the sugar. Keep stirring every once in a while, and make sure it is thickening up. Test it to see if it is sweet enough, and if not add more sugar. If the fruit mixture isn’t becoming thick, dissolve cornstarch in cold water, and add it in slowly, until it thickens to your liking. It shouldn’t be too runny.  Remove from heat, (I put mine in a separate bowl) and let it cool. 

Place cupcake papers into the muffin tins, and fill the cupcake papers about ¼ - 1/3 of the way with batter. 

Put a dollop of the strawberry filling in the middle of the batter, try not to spread it too close to the edges. 

Cover it with more cupcake batter, making sure you don’t fill it too full. (10 points if you can tell what kind of cupcake papers I'm using)

Place in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on how hot your oven runs. Test with a toothpick once done, but remember your strawberry filling will come out wet regardless, you just want to make sure there is no wet cake batter.
 Make sure the cupcakes cool completely before icing them. I used a cream cheese icing. Nothing special!

1/2 cup margarine
1 block of cream cheese
3-4 cups of icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
possibly 1 tbsp of milk (only use this if the icing is to thick. Mine wasn't)

Ice cupcakes with as much or as little icing as you want. Only make them pretty if you can. I can't.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Great Butterscotch Pie Endeavor

So, remember how I told you that my grandma on my mom's side makes some pretty awesome butterscotch pie? Well, I tried my hand at it this past Christmas. It was a bit nerve-racking, as there is a chance it won't set, and then you have to eat your pie with a spoon. That's not how it's supposed to go! It's a tedious process, since you have to stand at the stove for.ever. Ok, so the first time I had to stand at the stove for over an hour, constantly stirring. The second time it only took me half an hour. But I'll get to that.
The pie crust wasn't anything extravagant. My dad helped me with this part, and it was just the recipe from the Crisco box. Apparently that makes it better than some other pie crust recipes. I don't know, I didn't really pay attention. Pastry isn't my thing. Might just be because everyone says it's hard, so I don't even really attempt it. 

All of the ingredients for the innards of the pie go into the double boiler. And you start stirring. Let's say it is about 7:08pm in this photo.

And you keep stirring. The time is now 7:42pm. I am tired of it. A few of my family members had, at this point, asked if they could give me a break, and do a bit of stirring for a while, but I said no! My pie! I'm making it. IT. MUST. WORK. Also, in the background, the best movie of all time, "The Sound of Music" is on TV. And I'm standing at the stove, stirring this stuff, singing, "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...". I'm in my own little world, and I just happen to look into the living room to try to see the TV (which I can't from where I'm standing), and I just see my dad watching me, snickering. Whatever. I'm a bad singer. Doesn't stop me from torturing every single person in my family though. I might think it's fun. :) It's what the youngest in the family does. And oh boy am I good at it!

Look! Now it's about 8:16pm, and by golly! I think it's ready to go. Only took an hour and 8 minutes (times may not be exact). I had both of my parents check it out, to tell me if they thought it had thickened up enough. We had to put a little bowl of it in the fridge, to see if it would set. It looked like it was going to, so I decided to put down the wooden spoon, and finish up quick so I could go finish watching the movie! It was a Christmas Eve special!

Luckily, while I was busy with the stirring of this lovely pie, I missed that terrible "Climb Every Mountain" song that is sung when Maria goes back to the nunnery place. Pretty sure I still sang it though...very obnoxiously. Into the crust goes my pie filling. All digits crossed, in hopes that it would set! All that was left was to make the meringue and stick that puppy in the oven for a little while longer. My mom, bless her heart, helped me with the meringue, since I had no luck cracking the stupid eggs and not getting any yolk into the egg whites. Did you know that meringue doesn't work if there is yolk in the whites? Boo. She's a pro though, so the meringue turned out perfectly.

Voila! The butterscotch pie is complete! And! A complete success too. Well. Mostly. It set! My meringue pulled off though, which is not cool. But it still tasted pretty good for the first time of me ever making that pie! I was super proud of myself. AND IT SET. Oh that was the most glorious thing ever! I was so afraid that it wouldn't. I would have been pretty disappointed. Then, it was gone the next day, and my dad requested that I make another one (mostly so he could eat the rest of the first).

I took the challenge.

And I succeeded. And I did a way better job than the first time. It took me 30 minutes to stir that pie filling to oblivion before it was ready to be put in the crust. It was a lighter colour (which was more correct) and it for some reason tasted better. OH. And, maybe the best part? The meringue didn't pull off, which I was completely tickled about. And I think I shouted it to everyone who was around. "LOOK! LOOK AT MY PIE! THE MERINGUE DIDN'T SHRINK." I just wanted some acknowledgment! Don't worry, I got it.

Now, I would love to give you this recipe. But it is locked away in a vault at my parents' house, known as The Recipe Book From Hell. Remember that book. It will come up again, I promise.

Wanna be friends? I'll bake you this pie. :)