Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Time Flies Number 2!

I'm back with the results of the May Daring Baker Challenge.  If you'll remember from here:  The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle...and I was just putting it in the freezer on the post date.  But I did finish and last night revealed it at a little get together at Sarah's house.  I remembered that Jason likes peanut butter stuff and I thought he might like this.  Before I left for her house, I put to gether the meringue and, instead of using my oh so handy blow torch (that I don't have!) I made pillows of meringue and baked them. 

Not sure if that had an effect on the taste, but this was a VERY eggy meringue.  I thought the process of making it was kind of fun (hands on!) but didn't really like the resulting taste.  Maybe I whipped it too much as it was thick and not very airy...the way I like my meringue.  I added some chocolate sauce and caramel sauce and we were ready to go.  Results? 

Jason doesn't like meringue....period!  But he said that the peanut butter part was pretty good...even had seconds!  I left the remainder for him to eat...hopefully they don't forget about it.  Glad I finished the challenge even if it was late!  I used the quartered recipes that Audie provided and changed the chocolate to peanut butter...all worked quite well.

Peanut Butter Marquise

Servings: 6 2"x2" (5cmx5cm) cubes

3 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 large egg
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (40 ml) (40 grams/ 1½ oz) sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (2/3 fluid oz/ 20 ml.) water
Peanut butter Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
½ cup (4 fluid oz./ 120 ml.) heavy cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks and whole eggs. Whip on high speed until very thick and pale, about 10 - 15 minutes.

When the eggs are getting close to finishing, make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook to softball stage (235F/115C).

With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle the sugar syrup into the fluffy eggs, trying to hit that magic spot between the mixing bowl and the whisk.  When all of the syrup has been added (do it fairly quickly), turn the mixer back on high and whip until the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take at least 10 minutes

In a separate mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside.

When the egg mixture has cooled, add the chocolate base to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Try to get it as consistent as possible without losing all of the air you've whipped into the eggs. We used the stand mixer for this, and it took about 1 minute.  Fold 1/3 of the reserved whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.  Pour into pan and place in freezer for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve.

When you're ready to plate, remove the marquise from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving. While it's still hard, remove it from the pan by pulling on the parchment 'handles' or by flipping it over onto another piece of parchment.  Cut into squares and plate with the meringue and drizzled caramel sauce and chocolate sauce.  Garnish as desired. 

Peanut Butter Base
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons (90 ml/3 fluid oz.) milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon (15 ml/ 1/2 fluid oz.) light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Heat peanut butter and milk together.  Mix until well incorporated.  Add cinnamon, corn syrup and vanilla.  Stir together and set aside.

Servings: Makes about 1 cup of meringue.
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon (105 ml) (3½ oz or 100 gms) sugar
Splash of apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Place egg whites, sugar, and vinegar in a clean mixing bowl.  Mix together with your clean hands.  Place bowl over a pot of simmering water.  "Stir" with your fingers until mixture starts to warm and sugar dissolves.  Remove from water and whip with the wisk attachment of a mixer until fluffy.  Add vanilla and whip until firm.  Place dolops onto a pan and bake in oven until starting to turn golden.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Time Flies...

...when you are on a busy wards month and don't have much time to do anything else!  Wow, the 27th really crept up on me.  Plus, I thought that it was on Saturday.  Ooops!  It's time to post my Daring Baker's Challenge and it's not done yet.  I had planned to make it tomorrow...but started tonight

though it is now in the freezer and won't be finished until tomorrow and not eaten (maybe) until Monday!  The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma of CookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

 I thought that maybe I'd have a reason to make this for friends this month as one friend will be soon going overseas for two years to minister to and share Jesus' love and salvation with others!  I love Michelle much and will miss her encouraging presence these next two years.  Anyway, I thought we were going to have a party for her, but that did not end up happening.  In all these plans, I decided that I would make a peanut butter version instead of chocolate.  The spice that I used was cinnamon...cinnamon and peanut butter just work!  I tasted the unfrozen version and it was pretty good!  Hopefully the finished version will be as good.  I shared some pictures with Sarah and told her that I was bringing it on Monday when we get together.  If I remember correctly, her husband Jason really likes peanut butter...hopefully, he'll like this!  I will update when I have pictures and report on the flavor.  Check here for other Chocolate Marquise delights!!!  Recipe and pictures to come.

Monday, May 23, 2011

What has Changed?

Changing things.  That is the topic of this week's Eat. Live. Be. 

What have our goals that we made at the beginning of the year made us change?  Honestly, I don't really feel that I've made that much change.  However, my goal to cook a meal twice each month have led me to search for recipes and actually make them!  I'm fairly good at searching for recipes and deciding that something sounds good.  My problem was actually making them.  So far, I have been successful in cooking twice a month.  More than that, I'm not sure.  One of the meals I recently made was a dish that my mom told me about many months ago!

 It turned out quite pleasing.  It is a shrimp and grits recipe from Southern Living with the delicious addition of asparagus and mushrooms.  All in all it was quick and easy to make and fairly good for you as far as shrimp and grits goes.  There was something missing but I couldn't put my finger on it; maybe some kind of sauce.  I added some mustard to the leftovers and enjoyed the flavor that it gave.  Maybe some kind of light mustard sauce would be a good addition.  I would, though, recommend this if you are looking for a simple shrimp and grits recipe. 

Shrimp and Grits with Asparagus and Mushrooms
1 1/2 pounds unpeeled, large raw shrimp (31/40 count) (I used medium pre-peeled and deveined)
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
3 cups chicken broth (or 3 cups water with 2 boullioun cubes)
1 cup uncooked quick-cooking grits
1/2 cup half-and-half (I used milk)
1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 bunch green onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Peel shrimp and devein, if not already done.  Snap and discard tough ends of asparagus. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces.

2. Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; whisk in grits and half-and-half/milk. Cook, whisking constantly, 7 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Keep warm.

3. Heat pan and spray with cooking spray.  Add asparagus, mushrooms, green onions, and thyme, and sauté 3 to 4 minutes (I cooked until mushrooms were beginning to soften). Add shrimp, and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in salt; cook 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.

Serve immediately over warm grits.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Habits...How's it Going?

Two weeks ago for Eat. Live. Be. we talked about what habit we wanted to get rid of.  My habit was responding in a negative way when on call, not honoring my God in how I responded to others. 

Well, I have definitely done much better this month. In fact, there have been several times when I had to consciously respond instead of just reflexively responding.  I think I've been successful...except for one time on my last call.  Based on what I was told, we were admitting a child for something that we don't normally admit...but after seeing all the information later, I felt better about admitting him...but badly about how I had responded to the other person.  Hopefully, I'll get to talk to him and apologize!  Check out how others are doing:
Sarah Caron - http://www.sarahscucinabella.com/
•Cate O’Malley - http://www.sweetnicks.com/
•Chris Arpante - http://www.melecotte.com/
•Patsy - http://familyfriendsandfood.blogspot.com/
Joanne - http://www.joanne-eatswellwithothers.com/
Tri-Fit Mom - http://trifitmom.blogspot.com/
•Allison - http://sweetflours.blogspot.com/
Jen - http://njepicurean.blogspot.com/
•Leslie - http://www.thehungryhousewife.com/
•Rivki Locker - http://www.healthyeatingforordinarypeople.com/
•Jennifer Schulz - http://lick-a-plate.blogspot.com/
•Sarah Rogers - http://sarahssweetcreations.blogspot.com/
Denise and Lenny - http://www.chezus.com/

As to the habit that I've decided to continue, I have another delicious cookie recipe to share from my Southern Living Cookie book (I LOVE this book!).  It is a Jumbo chocolate chip cookie recipe.  The recipe calls for making a cookie from 1/4 cup of dough.  That's a lot!

 I normally make my cookies about 1 tablespoon sized...they are the perfect size to eat without feeling badly.  However, I've always tried to figure out how bakeries make their cookies so good.  Well, I honestly think it has to do with the size!  Increasing the size without increasing the baking time much makes the texture that wonderful bakery texture.  You would think that the increased size would greatly increase the baking time, but it doesn't; it just changes the texture.  Yum!!!  I also made some "normal" sized cookies and they were great as well.

Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream butter and shortening until creamy; add sugars and beat well.  Add eggs and vanilla, beating well again.  Add in dry ingredients and stir well.  Add chocolate chips and pecans.  Now, if making the "Jumbo" cookies, place 1/4 cupfuls of dough onto baking sheets and flatten slightly into 3.5 inch cookies.  Bake for 12-13 minutes.  If making "normal" cookies, place 1 tablespoon sized dough scoops onto pan and cook for 11-12 minutes.  Remove when golden (cookies may be slightly soft in the middle).  Cool 2-3 minutes on baking sheet.  Remove to cooling rack.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 09, 2011

It Costs HOW Much?!

Oh my goodness!!!  It is bad that I was excited to get gas for $3.50/gallon today.  But that is really good seeing that gas at "my" Kroger was $3.75...big difference!  And gas isn't the only thing that is getting more expensive these days.  Just about everything is showing signs of inflation.  Milk and eggs are more expensive.  Oddly enough, yogurt is 3 cents cheaper...go figure!  Fruits and veggies are move expensive as well.  A green bell pepper...GREEN!...was near $1.50 today.  Sorry, just can't do that.  So, how do you maintain healthy eating habits when prices are going up? 

That is this week's topic on Eat. Live. Be.  I haven't really mindfully thought about this, but I think I tend to practice these ideas. 
1. Buy in season.  Unless there is something that you just can't do without, buy the fresh fruits and veggies that are in season...and buy frozen those things that aren't.  Despite what you may have thought, frozen veggies still have the nutrients that are so important.  Just get the simply frozen kind, not something that is salted or oversauced.
2. Buy what is on special.  As mentioned above, I didn't buy the bell pepper...but I have no doubt that this summer, all those beautiful orange, yellow, and red bell peppers will go on sale.  THEN, I will buy them! Sometimes, I'll even find some produce on manager's special.  They might but it on sale because the sell by date is near or there are some bruises on fruit.  In general, this produce is still good.  Even if the fruit is bruised, you can cut off the bruise.  If canned beans are on sale, I grab several cans.  I only buy avacados on sale.  Buy store brand, in general there is no (or not much) difference (though I did decide this week that store brand "honey nut cheerios" just don't cut it!).
3. Buy what you know you'll use.  In this category, I'll talk about milk.  I do buy organic milk but only because it lasts SO much longer than "regular" milk.  Yes, it is more expensive; but I don't use it fast enough to warrant the other milk.  This actually saves me money.  If there is fresh produce on sale (for example, today corn was 10/$3), only buy what you will use before it goes bad.  I would not need to buy 10 ears of corn...unless I have a deep freeze and could take the kernels off and freeze them.  If that's the case...go for it...buy and freeze!!
4. Buy local. Now, this is a better buy for others, I think.  We have a farmer's market here and I do love using it because the quality of the produce is SO much better that that in the stores.  However, the price difference is not that much.  Occasionally, it is actually more pricey.  But I still use the Farmer's Market (when I can get there).  I'm a bit jealous of some of the produce other people get with quite a bit of savings at their markets.  It seems that prices at markets in the NE are a better deal than down here...and if the MS floods like they are predicting, it could be worse with farmlands flooded.
5. Grow your own!  I don't do this as I have absolutely NO yard, no porch, no nothing.  But one day I would love to have a garden.  My Papa have an extensive garden and those veggie dinners were my favorite!  There is nothing that compares to homegrown tomatoes, green beans, and okra.  Oh so good!!!  This would be a good family activity, too!  Teach kids about responsibility, how things grow, and about working together.

Along those lines, another good way to save money is to "make your own."  A couple of months ago, I made this tomato soup.  It fed me for about 5 servings.  So it would be perfect for a family of 4-6, and it was very inexpensive and easy to make.  I just got a large can of stewed tomatoes, thinned it out with some water and seasoned it.  Then added about 1/2 cup uncooked lentils and some spinach.  It turned out great.  Sometimes, just throwing some things together makes a great, delicious, and inexpensive meal!
Tomato Spinach Soup
1 large (can't remember the oz, sorry but ust the large version) can stewed, diced tomatoes
1/2 cup uncooked lentils (for a thicker more lentil-y version, use 1 cup...this would be really good!)
water (to your preferred texture)
salt, pepper (season to taste)
1 box frozen spinach

In a large stock pot, put tomatoes.  Add water to get tomatoes to your desired consistency.  Add lentils.  Bring to boil and simmer for about 20 minutes or until lentils are cooked.  Taste and season as desired.  Add frozen spinach.  Cover and cook until spinach thaws.  Stir to distribute evenly.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 02, 2011


One of the bad habits that I developed this year as an upper level was responding shortly when I get an admit from the ER.  I really noticed it in March when I was consistently getting admits after midnight (and nearly none prior) so that I didn't get any sleep!  I did not like noticing this habit in myself.  It doesn't show any of the characteristics that a Christian should have: kindness, grace, patience, etc. 

This week, for Eat. Live. Be. we are supposed to talk about a bad habit that we want to work on breaking.  Well, this is mine...my attitude at work and my goal to represent Jesus accurately is a huge part of my living!  So, my goal while on wards this month is to alert to my responses to people and to respond kindly and patiently.  We'll see how it goes! 

One of my other "habits" is not one that I'm aiming to stop...and that is making cookies for our call days!  The day I made these was another one of our long calls. 

We finally got to stop for supper around 9.  Actually, my intern's husband (also an intern) paged me and said that he had brough supper as a surprise for her.  So, I sent her down to the lounge with the promise that I would follow behind soon.  When I got there she was so excited...and we had dinner from a local Mediterranean restaurant...SO good!  Then, as I walked back to do some computer work I got another surprise...he had brought their baby without sharing that part....ha!  That was such a fun surprise.

 Anyway, I made these peanut butter fingers that night.  As WE ate the food he brought, E. ate cookie after cookie!  He  probably ate about 10 of them.  Needless to say, I didn't have any leftovers at the end of that call.  Once again, Southern Living has produced a delicious cookie!

Peanut Butter Fingers
1 cup chunky peanut butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup honey (I don't think I had this, so it works without)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (called for wheat germ, which would be GREAT! but I didn't have it)
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 325.  Cream peanut butter, sugar, butter, honey, vanilla, and egg together until creamy.  Add the flour, soda, and cracker crumbs.  Mix well.  Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and then roll into logs.  Place on baking sheet or stone.  Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes.  Cool 1 minute and then remove to cooling rack to completely cool.  Meanwhile, melt the chips in the microwave.  Then dip one end or side of the cookie in the chocolate and set aside for the chocolate to firm.  Enjoy!