Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Another French Food

How has the year been for you? 2008 is ending in just a few hours. I've had a good and busy year. Lots of work, tests, interviews, and some fun...New York City to be specific! With the night of celebration for many, I thought I'd leave you with a yummy breakfast treat. You know, it would be fun to have a breakfast at midnight party for New Years...maybe I'll try that next year as my Wii party didn't fly with my I'm trying to figure out what to do! Anyway, over Thanksgiving, I offered to make breakfast for my brother. He bit on the suggestion of French toast. I don't really measure out anything, but it's not too difficult to do. Just eggs, milk (or cream), cinnamon, and vanilla. Soak the bread and cook. Philip likes it with powdered sugar, but syrup or fruit would be good, too. You could even whip up some sweetened cream cheese and make stuffed french toast!

French Toast (for one boy)
2 slices bread
2 eggs
butter (for cooking)

In a shallow bowl, break two eggs. Pour in enough milk to surround the yolks of the eggs (a little more if you want it super "creamy"). Add a dash of cinnamon and pour of vanilla. Wisk all of this together. Place one piece of bread in the mixture (two if the bowl is wide enough). Let sit for 30 second to one minute (the longer the better). Flip the bread and let it sit again. On a HOT skillet place some butter. Once it melts, put the soaked bread on. Cook until browned (but not burned, you may have to take a peak to see if it's ready) and flip to the other side. This side shouldn't take as long. Place hot bread on a plate and top with the desired toppings.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Buche du NOEL!

The Daring Bakers' Challenge this month was quite the experience. I decided to make it for my family when I went home for Christmas. Turns out, I had the perfect opportunity to make it...I was left alone for an entire day while my parents went to a wedding and brother went to see the Rockettes with his girlfriend. 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. Though the end result of this challenge was very pretty, I don't think I'd make it again. The combination of elements just wasn't fantastic enough to do all that work. Let's go element by element.

The Daquoise: I made a pecan version. I think this was very similar to the cake that we used in the opera cake. For some reason, I really like this kind of cake, though this one was a bit sticky. In the whole of the dessert, I think it added more to texture than taste as the chocolate overwhelmed it's delicate taste. Very simple and quick to make.

Ganache insert: I made a cinnamon version; however, I don't feel that you could really appreciate the cinnamon taste. I almost burned it because my sugar wasn't cooking evenly. This ended up pretty good and strong flavored. I enjoyed the thickness of the texture.

Crisp insert: OH MY! I almost burned my house down (literally) trying to make this. I decided to do the coconut version, so I placed my coconut in the toaster oven to toast. When the timer went off, I returned to the kitchen to smoke. I thought, "Man! I burned the coconut," which I did. However, when I opened the toaster door the coconut burst into flames. I just stood there trying to figure out WHAT to do. The flames didn't get any smaller when I tried to blow it out and the flames were soon lapping at the cabinet above the toaster. AHHH! I went to get the fire extinguisher (which I REALLY didn't want to use b/c it makes a big mess). PROBLEM...I couldn't figure out how to use it! So, by this time the flames were a bit smaller; I decided to just grab the pan by the corner (with a pot holder) and take it to the doused! All that to say...this crisp was pretty boring! No praline, no coconut, just chocolate and rice cereal. I must say, however, that the crunch added a lot to the finished product while at the same time making it difficult to cut! I bet my mom liked this element because of the added crunch! :-)

Creme Brulee insert: What can I say...this took SO long to cook. I put it in the water bath as suggested but it never cooked in this. When I finally took it out it cooked pretty quickly. Overall, it took about 2 hours just to cook! Then it had to cool, etc. Additionally, when frozen, it got an icy texture. I did a coffee version, which when taste alone did taste of coffee; however, with all the other flavors going on, didn't really add much. Another curious thing with this element was what it did after frozen. As you can see, it pretty much covered the entire area of my log. However, when I cut into it, it had shrunk! Since when do things SHRINK when they freeze? Apparently, creme brulee does!

Mousse: I did a white chocolate version. This was my favorite part! I could have just eaten this alone. It was SO good. Wonderful just chilled as well as frozen. Mmmm!

Glaze: I had to cook this twice. For some reason, I have a hard time getting my glazes to be thick enough. The first version would have just rolled off the log leaving ugliness. So, I started over and paid a little more attention ending in what I consider success! This was probably the most challenging DB event I've done yet! Thanks to our hostesses for pushing me to do something I would not have done otherwise. To see more results, visit the blogs listed here. The recipe is posted on Hilda's site.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Brownie Bites

I hope that everyone had a great day yesterday! My family enjoyed celebrating the birth of Jesus together, thankful for the grace of God! We also had fun eating, being silly, and opening gifts. Most of my gifts were kitchen oriented...a kitchen scale, an omelette pan(!!!), a candy thermometer (no excuses now), a Wilton decorating kit, some animal cracker cutouts (that will be fun), and a Gail Pittman mixing bowl. Fun stuff! This week has been full of cooking. I've made two sets of sugar cookies (which makes four recipes for me this Christmas...I'll do a series on these at the new year and you can use them for Valentines day!), an apple pie, ritz cracker nabs, and brownie balls. Today...the brownie balls. I think they'd be perfect on a New Years' party table. My mom had these with a friend and loved them, so we made them. The recipe we saw made them with raspberry jam, which would be DELICIOUS! However, we used peanut butter chips. This added a little different texture and taste. So, now for the recipe...
Brownie Bites
1 box brownie mix (made as instructed for the fudge style)
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 package white almond bark

Bake brownies as instructed. Allow to cool a bit so you don't burn your hands. In a large bowl, crumble the brownies, add the peanut butter chips, and stir together. If you want to melt some of the chips you can (I did) but since the brownies are hot, they'll melt on their own anyway! After mixing them together, form the mixture into walnut sized balls and place on a cookie sheet. Place this in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove tray from freezer and melt the almond bark. Roll the balls in the bark
and place on some parchment/waxed paper to harden. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gingerbread Biscotti

And the last of the Christmas Tin cookies! This was a last minute decision because of the failure of my mint thumbprints and the pumpkin fudge. I saw the recipe for these gingerbread biscotti at Picky Palate. I thought they looked pretty good...but almost ruined them because of my lack of a kitchen timer...don't worry, I bought one at Wal-mart the other day! Anyway, instead of being baked twice, I just baked them for the entire time at once...totally by accident! However, they still turned out the texture of properly baked biscotti! I even got a couple of nice compliments. My mom's best friend said they tasted like the kind you buy and my aunt said they were better than Starbuck's! So, I'd say this recipe is a keeper. Gingerbread Biscotti from Picky Palate

1 1/4 cups flour
1 Cup whole wheat flour
1-1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1-1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 bag of white chocolate chips (Picky Palate used cinnamon chips)
1/4 cup molasses
2 large eggs

2 Cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place flours, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, baking soda pecans and cinnamon chips in the bowl of a stand mixer. In a medium bowl, mix eggs with molasses. Pour in egg mixture to dry ingredients until well combined. Divide dough into 2 equal parts and form into 10 inch logs 4 inches apart onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Each log should be about 2 inches wide. Bake for about 30 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes. Cut each log into ½ inch pieces on the diagonal. Place back onto the baking sheet and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until nice and crispy. Remove and let cool completely. OR if you mess up and cook it for around 45 minutes in one sitting by accident, just cut the pieces and let cool! Don't cook any more!

Place chocolate chips into a double broiler over boiling water. Melt until smooth or follow package direction for microwave melting...I usually do it in 30 second intervals, stirring after each one. Dip the top half of each biscotti into melted chocolate and place onto wax paper to dry.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cranberry Cream Cheese Oatmeal Cookies

My next cookie recipe comes from a blog that I found through Anna. It's called the Oatmeal Cookie Guy and he comes up with all kinds of cool recipes for oatmeal cookies. This one is a SLIGHT adaptation on his Golden Girls cookies. The cookie has the taste of a graham cracker base for cheesecake and then it's filled with a sweetened cream cheese filling. I added cranberries to make it more Christmas-y. Now, these were DELICIOUS....but....filling the cookies was a bit difficult. I told someone that they were wonderful but I'd probably only make these specific ones again if a certain couple of people asked me! Maybe Mrs. Snowman will keep making them for Mr. Snowman, because it appears that they enjoyed them as well! I will, however, continue looking at Oatmeal Guy for more recipes! For a very well organized recipe that is easy to follow, go here.

Holiday Golden Girls adapted from the Oatmeal Guy

8 ounces room-temperature cream cheese
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Wet Ingredients:
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Dry Ingredients:
2 cups finely ground graham crackers
1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Add the filling ingredients to a medium bowl and mix well. Let the mixture cool and solidify in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350º. Cream together the creamables. In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients and then add to the creamables. Mix together until smooth. In another large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, fold together until evenly distributed. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamables and wet ingredients. Mix until evenly combined. Shape dough into balls—about 2 tablespoons each. Remove the filling mixture from the refrigerator and stuff each dough ball with 1 teaspoon of the mixture. Do this by flattening your ball of dough and placing the cream cheese in the center. Then fold over the dough to reform into a ball. Put the stuffed dough balls in the freezer for five minutes to firm up. Place about 2 inches apart on baking stone or Silpat/parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let stand for 2 minutes. Then place cookies on wire racks to cool.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cake Bon Bons!

Every year I like to take Christmas tins and fill them with yummy goodies to give to my friends. This year, I had quite an adventure doing these this year! Two of my treats failed! I tried to make some mint chocolate thumbprints; however, the cookies basically fell apart...hard to put a filling in a cookie that falls apart! The other failure was pumpkin fudge. All of the recipes I saw were a bit too involved than I wanted, so I just took a peanut butter fudge recipe and swapped the PB for pumpkin. Ummm...yeah, didn't work! I guess I needed to do less pumpkin than there was PB. It NEVER solidified like fudge should. Even when I tried to rescue it by making bark it never solidified...even in the freezer! Oh, well.

The three treats that ended up working were gingerbread biscotti, some holiday oatmeal cookies, and cake bonbons. The first recipe I'll share is the cake bonbons. These are a very versatile treat. Basically you take a cake mix (yep, this is semi-homemade!) and bake as instructed. Then instead of icing the cake you stir the cake (crumbled) with the icing, make balls, and cover in a chocolate. Turned out great! I used butter pecan cake mix with coconut pecan icing. The flavor of this turned out wonderfully; however, I think a more traditional textured icing would hold together better than this one.
Cake BonBons
1 cake mix (made as instructed)
1 can prepared icing
melted chocolate (you might have to temper it with oil, mine seized up if I didn't)
Bake cake as instructed on box. Allow to cool slightly. Crumble cake into a bowl and stir in the entire can of icing. After washing your hands, roll the cake mix into walnut sized balls. Melt the chosen form of chocolate. Dip the balls in it and place on waxed/parchment paper and allow covering to harden.

Suggestions for other versions:
strawberry cake, vanilla icing, dark or milk chocolate dipping
chocolate cake, chocolate icing, white chocolate dipping
funfetti cake and icing, chocolate or white chocolate dipping
yellow cake, caramel icing, chocolate dipping

Tagged - edited

I was recently tagged by The French Kitchen to do a meme. I'm supposed to tell you 7 random or strange things about myself. I've done this before but hopefully I can come up with NEW weird things!!! Here goes!

1 - My middle toe on my right foot is shorter than my left. I mean, the top of it is even with the fourth toe! It kind of feels like I'm missing one the joints in it, but I think it's just sitting low on my tarsals (the bones that make up the main part of your foot right behind your toes.

2 - I hated my surgery rotation but my favorite part was trauma call. I know, who likes to be forced to stay overnight, get no sleep, see people come in with gunshot wounds, do random exploratory surgery at 3am and almost pass out from hypoglycemia, and then have to do a half day of work the next day? I did...but that call was only Q10-12 (every 10-12 nights) instead of the normal Q4 for wards!

3 - I like fresh cherries but do NOT like any kind of candied, marachino (that is SO not spelled right!), or chocolate covered cherries. Ick!

4 - I lived in Bishkek, Kygyzstan for a year (during my fifth grade year). Learned how to make several local dishes. I also had the opportunity (hmmm?) to try horse. Not bad but won't do that again!

5 - This was kind of prompted by TFK, but, I could SO lived without ketchup; however, I do like it with roasted sweet potatoes and salmon. Otherwise, I don't use it!

6 - This is a random one...I would love to have a child with curly, auburn hair! I have really red highlights in my very DARK hair, so the auburn is possible. My hair is pretty straight but it has some wave but nothing NEAR curly. Maybe if I marry someone with curly hair it would happen. :-)

7 - I've never had lobster, scallops, mussels, oysters, mahi mahi, or tuna (the real kind, not canned!)...but I LOVE seafood!

Now, I'm supposed to tag 7 other people - and I'm back to do it! Y'all have fun doing this and I'll have fun at home all by myself while my parents go to an out of town wedding and my brother and his girlfriend go to an out of town concert!

Here are the rules:
1. Link the person that tagged you and post the rules.
2. Share 7 random or weird facts about yourself.
3. Tag 7 people at the end and link to their sites.
4. Let each person know about the tag in the comment section of their site.

Now, I tag:
1. Pearl of Fresh and Pure
2. Katrina from Baking and Boys!

3. Jessica from Coffee and a Cookie
4. Gail from More than a Song
5. Stacy from Exceedingly Mundane
6. Maryanna at Taste and See
7. Red Dirt Mummy

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cute Little Pumpkin!

What a blessing it was to be a part of the Christmas music at church! I'm kind of sad that it's over. If you'd like to see pictures follow this link. Also, if you're in the Jackson, MS area and get WLBT it will be on tv at 2pm on Christmas day! A good way to celebrate Christmas. Anyway, just before Thanksgiving, I made some pumpkin scones that I found on Maryanna's site Taste and See. They have this FANTASTIC spiced glaze on top...I really think that made the scones. I didn't do the plain glaze and did change a couple of things, so for the original recipe, go to Maryanna's! Since pumpkin is holiday-ish, I thought I'd share with you so that you can try them for yourself! Scones
2 cups all purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin

Spiced Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ginger
1 pinch ground cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Usually, the instructions here say to knead; however, EVERY time I make scones, I find the dough too sticky to do this. So, I just spread the dough out into a large rectangle directly on the baking stone (or sheet) and scored the dough into triangles using a pizza cutter.
Bake for 14–16 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. When you remove from the oven, re-cut the scored scones using a pizza cutter. Place on wire rack to cool.

Spiced Icing:
Combine the ingredient for the spiced icing together. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

Right now, my church is in the middle of our Christmas music. This year, I have the privilege of portraying Mary, the mother of Jesus! It's really neat, because the song I sing is from scripture; it's the song of Mary. If you did Celebrate Life (the musical), it's the one from that. Anyway, I have been doing my Christmas baking as well because I will be leaving town on Tuesday to go to an interview and then Christmas at home. Those treats will be shared here later. First off, though, I want to share a fun recipe I got from Deanna! It's kind of like rice krispie treats, except it used Honey Nut Cheerios. I took this to our Christmas party at my children's choir. I thought they were good but the kids were more interested in the Cheetos...go figure! Instead of using the jelly candies, I used skittles. No kids like those gummies anyway! This is a fun treat to make and I think kids would enjoy helping!
Cheerios Christmas Trees


6 cups Honey Nut Cheerios® cereal
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
Green food color
Skittles (or whatever candy you desire)
White chocolate, melted, to secure the skittles

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Pour the cereal into a 4-quart bowl. Set the bowl aside.
Place the butter and marshmallows in a 3-quart saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Stir in the food color until the mixture is evenly colored. Pour the marshmallow mixture over the cereal and stir until the cereal is evenly coated. Moisten your hands with water to shape the trees; you'll have to do this often through the process, but it works well! I tried spraying with cooking spray but that didn't work. For each tree, shape about 1/4 cup of the cereal mixture into a Christmas tree shape on the cookie sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator. Place a dot of melted white chocolate on a skittle and strategically place on the trees - I made sure each skittle was a different color! Store the trees in a loosely covered container.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Pizza by Philip!

I don't know whether it started when he and Kenna started dating or when he moved into his apartment, but Philip, my brother, has a few specialties in the kitchen. One of them is a semi-homemade calzone. When he came home for Thanksgiving, surprising me Tuesday night...I was NOT expecting anyone when the garage door started going up...he started looking through the fridge for something to eat. Well, my mom had not stocked up, knowing that we'd have lots of food for Thanksgiving. There really was nothing to eat unless you had eggs or cereal! So, he went out to the grocery store and returned to make his calzone...while I napped on the couch at 8pm! I think that the concept is really good but my calzone would be QUITE different from Philip's...think lots of veggies and less cheese! However, because he's the chef for this meal, I'll give you his recipe!
Philip's Calzone
1 Pillsbury refrigerated pizza dough
1 pack of pepperoni
1/4 lb sausage ("depending on how much you want" per Philip)
1 small can olives
1 bag (I believe the 2 cup variety) mozzarella cheese
pizza sauce

Preheat oven to temperature indicated on the dough package. In a skillet, brown the sausage; drain. Roll out the dough on a cookie sheet or stone (Philip prefers the sheet). On half the dough, pile all of your ingredients, spreading out the pepperoni and cheese. Fold other half over the filling and roll the sides to close edges. Put in oven and bake for time instructed on dough...I'm really not sure on this, Philip didn't tell me. Just be sure the crust is done and brown. I'm thinking 15-20 minutes. Let cool for a little bit so you don't have too many juices come out. Cut to the size piece you want (Philip ate half) and serve with pizza/marinara sauce on the side. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ooey, Gooey, Sticky!

Well, I've done 3 interviews, one more to go. That's really not all that many. Lots of the people that I've been interviewing with are doing between 10-15 interviews. I am so thankful that I'm not doing that many. My next one is in Louisville, KY. THEN, I'll be ready for Christmas and home for a bit before my medicine rotation, that last major one of my school career.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, we had a Pediatric Interest Group meeting. I was asked to bring a dessert to add to the lunch. I wanted to do something different and went in search of something with caramel! I found several but decided on this swirled blondie from Kraft. When I put it in the oven, it had a wonderful swirled look to it; however, when I took it out of the oven all the lovely swirls were gone! Boo! I don't know why it melded together but it did. Despite not looking swirled it tasted great. Along the edges, some of the caramel got hard and tasted like those graham cracker toffee things that people make at Christmas. I'd make this again and recommend that you try it...especially if you're looking for something ooey gooey! If you want to try another recipe with caramel, Anna posted one today; it's a traditional chocolate brownie instead of a blondie with chocolate inside.

Swirled Caramel Blondies
1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped PLANTERS Walnuts (optional)
2 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped
1-1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. CALUMET Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. (14 oz.) KRAFT Caramels
1/4 cup milk
Make It

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Lightly grease foil. Mix brown sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, walnuts and chocolate in large bowl until well blended; set aside. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to brown sugar mixture; mix well. Reserve 1 cup of the batter for later use; spread remaining batter into prepared pan.

BAKE 15 min. or until firm. Microwave caramels and milk in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2-1/2 to 3 min. or until caramels are completely melted, stirring every min. Pour over baked layer in pan; spread to within 1/2 inch of edges.

SPOON reserved 1 cup batter over caramel layer; cut through batter with knife several times for marble effect. Bake an additional 15 to 18 min. or until center is set. Cool in pan on wire rack. Lift dessert from pan, using foil handles; remove foil. Cut into 24 bars to serve.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


With the cold weather apparently here to stay...well, except for the random 70 degree day expected tomorrow...soup is the perfect food to satisfy hungry tummies. Well, at least in my opinion! During the winter, I think I could honestly eat soup everyday! The week before Thanksgiving, I decided to make some taco soup. It's a good think that I like this soup, because, even with my roommate helping me eat it, I ate it EVERYDAY that week! I changed just a few things from our original recipe. I didn't get any dry Ranch dressing mix at the store, so I just left that out. I also decided to add a cubed green bell pepper. This really added to the flavor. Finally, in an attempt to make it a little more healthful (ala Rachel Ray), I used ground turkey instead of ground beef. Mmmm...this was SO good! It would have been even better with some cornbread, but I didn't take the time to make any! So, pull out your stock pot and make a hot bowl of taco soup!
Taco Soup
3 cans pinto beans (I actually used 1 pinto, 1 canellini, and 1 kidney...a little variety never hurt anyone!)
2 cans rotel (or one large (14 oz) can chopped tomatoes)
1 chopped bell pepper
1 chopped onion
1 lb ground turkey
1 can corn
1 pack of taco seasoning
2 cups water
1 can green chiles
In a large stock pot, brown turkey along with onion and bell pepper. When cooked, add the remaining ingredients (all undrained). Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Ladle into soup bowls and top with desired taco toppings. I like sour cream (or Greek's JUST like sour cream), cheddar cheese, and lettuce. Serve with tortilla chips, fritos, or cornbread.