October 2, 2008

Drumroll Please........................

We have nooks and crannies!!

I was inspired to make English Muffins by Pete over at Pete Bakes, another DC Blogger. And, as always, I used dough from Artisan Bread. This past week I made up a batch of the Light Wheat dough. Following Pete's directions, I formed the dough into balls. I decided to just make four muffins today.

After letting them rise for an hour I transferred them to my wonderful 8" Scanpan skillet. And cooked them for 5 minutes on each side.

After that they were popped into the oven for another five minutes. You need to let them cool for 30 minutes. Then poke a fork around the edge all the way around and care..ful...ly pry the halves apart. Perfection!!

I also made a baguette to use for tonights dinner - but I'll post about that later!

September 30, 2008

I've been a baaaaaaaaaaad Blogger!

Despite my absence here, I have been doing some cooking/baking. I'm taking a cautious approach to TWD - while I love that I'm baking again, I've got to nip this weight gain in the bud. I've thought a lot about this. Since my husband finally finished the Chocolate Chunkers, he needed something for breakfast. I really wanted to make the Dimply Plum Cake that was chosen last week by Michelle of Bake-En. Unfortunately, my farmer's market didn't have any Italian Plums by the time we showed up last weekend. However, this week they did have them. Yeah!! I decided that serious calorie reduction is going to be required in Dorie's recipes if I'm going to continue. Fortunately, my revisions were successful. My husband really likes it and I'm able to indulge in a small piece once in a while.

J's Adapted Dimply Plum Cake
makes 8 servings

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 T Butter Buds
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/3c agave nectar
1 large egg
1/4 c. egg substitute
1/3c. vegetable oil (I used a light olive oil
Not EVOO!)
1 1/2 t. vanilla
8 Italian plums,, cut in half and pit discarded

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8" square pan.

Whisk toether dry ingredients. In another bowl, with either a stand or hand mixer, mix the wet ingredients. With a spatula gently mix in the dry ingredients just until combined. Pour into prepared pan. Place plum halves, cut side up in a 4 x 4 pattern and push down into the batter.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.

I've also been making Ratatouille for several weeks with our Market bounty. I searched the web for recipes and decided to make up my own. What sets mine apart is that I roast the veggies, use red wine and slow cook it in the crockpot for several hours.

Roasted Veggies just our of the oven.

J's Ratatouille

1 large eggplant - cubed
1 large onion - roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
3 carrots - sliced
1 cup mixed bell peppers (I use Trader Joe's frozen)
1 large zucchini - sliced on the diagonal
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2T Italian seasoning
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup red wine
1 can (23 0z) crushed tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375.
Put all of the veggies on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until golden and soft. Meanwhile mix the seasonings, wine and tomatoes in the crock pot and put on low. When veggies are done, add them to the crockpot and stir to blend. Cook on low for at least 2 hours.

Makes about 6 one cup servings.

September 16, 2008

TWD - Chocolate Chunkers

This week's recipe was chosen by Claudia of Fool for Food. After sitting out a few weeks (due to increased poundage!) I made these last week. I must have made them smaller than called for because I yielded almost 4 dozen - which is fine. I tasted two and thought they were quite delicious. My husband has "hidden" them to avoid temptation. He prefers your old fashioned chocolate chip cookie, but thought these were good. In fact, the first day he ate too many (they are small after all) and ended up with a tummy ache!

These cookies are actually more add-ins than batter. Thus, their name, Chocolate Chunkers, is quite accurate.

They didn't look much different before they went in the oven

than when they came out

I didn't have the amount of bittersweet chocolate so I just made up the difference with semi-sweet. I didn't have any white chips, so I just subb'd semi-sweet chips. I had exactly one cup of walnuts, so I threw these in. DH does not like raisins in cookies, so left those out. So basically this is are Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunkers!

September 12, 2008

I'd like to thank................

Peggy from Pantry Revisited has gifted me with an award! I feel honored and appreciative - especially since I've been a little down lately. Thanks, Peggy!

Isn't it beautiful!!
Here are the Award Rules:

1. When you receive a diamond, make a post about it on your blog.
2. Name the blogger from whom you received it.
3. Award the diamonds to seven other bloggers.
4. Link them.
5. Tell them they received an award.

There are so many wonderful bloggers out there and I love reading their new entries everyday. Here are the people that I am giving this award to:

1. Judy over at Culinary Escapade has adopted me as a new blogger. I'm looking forward to learning more about blogging from her.

2. Andrea of Andrea's Recipes lives in the same general area that I do and I like reading about the places she visits and the recipes she posts.

3. The Houndstooth Gourmet aka Ramona is another DC Blogger. And I just noticed she has me on her list of favorite DC Bloggers List. Wow!

4. Julie from Noshtalgia, because we have a similar heritage and her food looks yummy!

5. Kat, author 8 ounces, I cannot believe she is 17! Her blog is gorgeous. She's been posting a lot of delicious cupcakes lately.

6. A Lovely Baker, Jen, is new to TWD and I'm looking forward to visiting her blog.

7. Andrea in the Kitchen, another TWD sister with a wonderful blog.

Whew - coming up with 7 was harder than I thought! These are a little like chain letters, so it's easy to get inundated and overwhelmed with them - but I REALLY DO appreciate the thought.

Yes - I'm still here :)

This seems to be difficult time of year for many bloggers, according to several I've been reading lately. Don't get me wrong - I love Fall. I've always been confused about the conflicting emotions I have as we head into this gorgeous season.


While I haven't been blogging I have been cooking and baking. I've sat out on the last TWDs because I knew my husband wouldn't like them and I've gained five pounds between TWD and Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Last night I did make next week's selection and will report on it next Tuesday.

One of the great things about having bread dough in the fridge is the opportunity to try new breads on a whim. I've been wanting to try pita for ages. I found it so cool to look through my grundgy (sp?) oven window and watch the magic happen.

and when it didn''t

The key is to roll the dough thin and even. When there are thick and thin places it doesn't get one big whole.

Here's a finished pita with a side of hummus. Yum!

Last week I had made up a batch of the Challah dough. Though I didn't get pictures, I made two loaves. One I gave to friends who invited us for dinner and the other I used to make french toast. To finish up the batch, which needs to be used within five days as opposed to two weeks due to the eggs and butter, I attempted Monkey Bread. It tasted wonderful and fed my husband for breakfast for a little over a week!

A few weeks ago my DH was out of town and I was feeling sorry for myself, so I treated myself to some organic figs I found at the Kingstowne Farmers' Market for an outrageous amount of money .

I topped each half with goat cheese and toasted some walnuts on the side then put the whole thing under the broiler for a few minutes. I felt much better after having these (all of them..........by myself....................because I'm worth it!!)

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August 27, 2008

TWD: Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte

This week's TWD was chosen by Amy of Food, Family and Fun. The photo in the cookbook is gorgeous. For some reason, I wasn't all that keen on the ganache layer. I decided to make black bean brownies, split them, and use the brownie layers in place of the ganache. The ice cream layer was easy enough: add pureed blackberries to softened vanilla ice cream and a little cream de cassis.

Keeping with my lower sugar lifestyle, I used sugar-free ice cream and didn't add any additional sugar. We found it plenty sweet. If I were to make this again, I would definitely strain out the seeds from the pureed blackberries. They definitely detracted from the overall experience.

My ice cream layer turned out to be a very deep purple - pretty, but not much contrast with the brownie layers. Check out the other TWDers for some beautiful renditions of this tasty dessert.

There wasn't a West End Farmer's Market today due to the annual Cambodian Festival. Oh well, I'll have to make do!

Another Great Wolftrap Experience

We went to Wolftrap this past Saturday evening and the weather was glorious. The entertainment was The Beatle's Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band performed by various artists along with their own hits. Great time.

As you can see, it's a casual affair. Lawn tickets are a great deal - if the weather is good! We may make one more before the season ends.

Our picnic this time included homemade foccacia using the basic dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, cherry tomatoes, mini bell peppers purchased at the farmer's market, thinly sliced onions and fresh mozzarella. FANTASTIC!!!

We couldn't let a weekend go by without our beloved Beet Salad!! I found some beautiful golden beets and paired them with blueberries. Quite good - still prefer the original red beet/peach combo.

For desert I decided to try a homemade parfait. I had one largish peach that was quickly moving past it's prime. I mixed some graham cracker crumbs and melted butter for the base. Macerated some the cubed peach with Grand Marnier. I then made a very rich, homemade pudding with the addition of Grand Marnier. I used half-and-half and it turned out extremely thick. You can see that the pudding layer didn't flow down to fill the bottom half of the mug. It was de-LICH-us (as we say in our family!!)

August 19, 2008

TWD - Granola Grabbers

I really liked the idea of this weeks TWD selection chosen by Michelle of Bad Girl Baking- love oatmeal and raisins. My family does not like oatmeal and raisins, and therein lies the problem. Only me to eat them - and after a weekend of overindulgence my clothes are straining at the seams :). But, what the heck!

Believe it not, I do have to limit my intake of sugar. My first step was to make my own granola without any added refined sugars. I adapted a recipe I found on the web and it turned out really good:

Sugar-free Granola

2 cups whole oats
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. chopped almonds
1/3 c. toasted wheat germ
1/3 c. + 2T unsweetened apple juice concentrate
1 t maple extract
1 t cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275. In a glass measuring cup combine apple juice concentrate, maple extract, cinnamon and salt. Microwave for 1 minute.
In a large bowl combine the oats, nuts and wheat germ. Pour liquid mix over dry ingredients and mix well. Lightly oil a cookie sheet and spread the granola mixture in a single layer. Bake on a lower rack for a total of 45 minutes - stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool.

This made exactly the right amount for the Grabbers recipe. I didn't add additional nuts or wheat germ to the recipe. I also used white whole wheat flour (1/2 c) and whole wheat pastry flour (1/2c) since I was all out of all-purpose flour and substituted 1/3 c Splenda and 1T molasses for the sugars in the recipe. (You can find the original recipe on Michelle's blog.)

I really like these (too much!) They had a short-bread like quality to them due to the fairly large amount of butter used in the recipe. I froze the majority to take as a contribution to a picnic dinner we are going on at Wolftrap this weekend.

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August 12, 2008

Past and Present TWD

Today's TWD was chosen by Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity. Dolores chose Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream - and what an excellent choice it was. This was a big winner in our house for several reasons. 1. It made a small amount (we're trying to fit into our current wardrobe with all this baking.) 2. We love blueberries and the tanginess of sour cream. 3. We like to use our ice cream maker.

I had stashed several leftover Devilish Shortcakes from last weekend in the freezer and served them alongside this yummy frozen treat.

click to enlarge

I didn't make last week's TWD, Black and White Banana Loaf in time for last Tuesday's deadline. Earlier in the week I bought some bananas and they were plenty ripe by Sunday night. My DH needed breakfast for the coming week, so I wanted to make this great selection chosen by Ashlee of A Year in the Kitchen. I'm really glad I did - another winner!

Here it is out of the oven - the marbling looks great from the top.............

But you never truly know until you cut into it.......................................

Not too shabby!

Have a great week!

Another Busy Sunday

After working out at the gym, we trucked our stinky post-workout selves to the West End Farmer's Market. The weather was glorious: blue skies, scattered fluffy white clouds and low humidity. Here's what we came away with:

click to enlarge

My goal for this week is to use all of our goods before any of it goes bad - I hate wasting money. We had a bountiful dinner. In addition to the wonderful heirloom and regular tomatoes, I had some fresh mozzarella in the fridge and some leftover basil from last week. Add some good extra virgin olive oil, a little salt and pepper and .....

click to enlarge

almost too pretty to eat, but we did anyway! MMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

We are so in love with our beet and peach salad, that we are going to ride this train until it leaves the station. Today I made it with nectarines.

click to enlarge

August 5, 2008

Busy Cooking/Baking Weekend - But No TWD

This past weekend was the best we've had in a long time. Friday night we went to Wolftrap to see the National Symphony Orchestra perform Rogers and Hammerstein music from the movies. They had huge screens set up and played the movie clips that featured the song the orchestra was playing. After the sun set, the weather was perfect. We had lawn seats and brought along a picnic.

I had been wanting to try this recipe. Instead of the puff pastry called for I made my own pie crust. I forgot to take a picture of the full tart - here is one slice:

You've got to try this! It's great at room temperature and uses the fresh ingredients that are at the farmer's markets this time of year.

Another first time recipe was for this wonder Beet-Peach salad

I adapted this recipe from one I had cut out of Prevention Magazine. This was so good, I made it again Sunday night with beets and peaches we bought Sunday morning at the West End Farmer's Market.

Beet-Peach Salad
4 medium beets
2 medium peaches
1 T balsamic vinegar
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 oz feta cheese (I used fat-free)

Clean and peel beets. Cut each beet into 1/2 inch slices, then cut each slice into 6 pieces (like a pie slice.) Cook in microwave with a little water until easily pierced with a fork. Remove pit from peaches and cut fruit into cubes (about the same size as the beet pieces.) Mix beets and peaches. Add the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Once the beets are cooled, add the feta cheese.

Supposedly this would make 4 side dish servings - we polished it off between the two of us with no problem!

For dessert I made chocolate mousse.

Saturday I made crab cakes. These are the ingredients. My wonderful neighbor lent me two lemons, since I was completely out and was too lazy to run to the store.

I think the secret to this incredible recipe is sauteing bay leaves with the onions. Look at my new saute pan! It's my first "'grown up" professional pan! Isn't it beautiful - These are environmentally friendly and don't have the supposedly dangerous chemicals that other non-stick pans have. I got a great deal here. This is the 12 1/2" pan; I also ordered the 8 1/2" pan. They each come with their own handle cover that works like an oven mitt.

Take a gander at this gorgeous crab:

I formed each crabcake in 1/2 cup portions - they were HUGE. They have to sit in the fridge for several hours before cooking. I forgot to get a pic after they were brown and crispy and delicious.

I found this recipe a few years ago on Chowhound. I don't know the creator's real name but he goes by Curmudgeon. Everytime I make these people practically swoon - every person has said these are the BEST crab cakes they've ever had. I have to agree!

Curmudgeon Crab Cakes

Serving Size: 8

-= Ingredients =-
4 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 bay leaf
1 pound Crab
1/4 cup Lemon juice ; of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Grey Poupon or Dijon mustard
1/4 pound Saltines ; crushed into fine crumbs
salt ; and pepper to taste
2 eggs

-= Instructions =-
1. Sauté the onion, celery, bay leaf, salt and pepper in two tablespoons of the butter until soft.
2. In a bowl, combine the onion mixture and the crab. Mix in the lemon juice, mustard, and ½ cup of the cracker crumbs. Taste and add salt and pepper.
3. Add the two eggs and mix until incorporated.
4. Form the crab mixture into 8 patties. Coat with the remaining cracker crumbs. Place on a plate and allow to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.
5. Heat the remaining butter in a large sauté pan. Fry the cakes in the butter until golden, then turn and fry the other side. Serve immediately.
Note: These are too good to mask with tartar or cock-tail sauce. If you insist, maybe you just don?t like crab.

I wanted to make Strawberry Shortcake for dessert. I pulled out my Dorie Greenspan cookbook and found a recipe for Devilish Shortcakes aka chocolate short cakes!!!

All I can see is OH.....MY.......GOSH!! They were moist, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and a perfect compliment to the strawberries and freshly whipped cream.

After all this cooking and baking - the most I've done in a long, long time, I'm going to opt out of this week's TWD. This week's recipe was chosen by Ashlee of A Year in the Kitchen. Check out the other TWD members results.

Have a wonderful week!

July 29, 2008

Farmer's Market Bounty and TWD

Yowza was it HOT this past Sunday! We walked over to the West End Farmer's Market with the goal of buying "summer fruit" for this week's TWD. Summer Fruit Galette was chosen by Michelle; see her blog for the recipe. This got a big thumbs up from DH. I halved the recipe and made a mini galette.

Instead of making the custard (how does one measure half an egg? - that's rhetorical!) I wanted to use the mascarpone I purchased at the Kingstowne Farmer's marker the week before. I mixed roughly 2 tablespoons mascarpone with a few teaspoons of sugar and a dash of vanilla extract. It was slightly sweet and great alongside our Sunday night treat.

July 26, 2008


I happened upon this recipe on What Geeks Eat. I modified the recipe a little. I only used the brown sugar - in the original amount, left out the white sugar completely, added 1/2 cup of water, cooked it in a 13x9 pan for 30 minutes. I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa, so it is a really deep and dark chocolaty cake.

This is incredible - you have GOT to try it! I can't believe how moist it is with only one stick of butter for a 13x9 cake. Obviously it's the zucchini that adds the moisture. The batter was extremely thick, so I added 1/2 cup water to the mix.

(click to enlarge to see the moistness!)

I'm a very messy baker/chef (heck, I'm just messy period!!)and I only used two bowls and a few measuring cups/spoons. In order to give my DH a break, I hand washed the dishes myself. Poor guy - he's been having back pain for over a week. I know it's bad when he stops running to try and feel better - he's even mention the "D" word (DOCTOR!!)

Tomorrow I'm hoping to get to the Farmer's Market to get fruit for this week's TWD.

July 25, 2008

OOOOOOOO - I've been tagged!!!

I feel like a real Blogger now! I've been tagged by Judy of Judy's Gross Eats. This is actually the highlight of my week, since I've been fighting a nasty summer cold. This is also a stretch for me, as I'm usually a pretty private person. So hold onto your seats, here we go!

First, the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on the blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up

  • I met my husband at a bar when I was 17 years old. We've been happily married for 27 years!
  • I grew up with a mother who didn't even keep flour in the house and I had no idea how to cook when we first married. I'm a completely self-taught cook and baker.
  • I enjoy traveling but am a homebody at heart.
  • I have a secret (well I guess not anymore!) desire to write a book about parenting and/or a mystery thriller.
  • I'm incredibly cheap - sometimes to a fault.
  • I have an armoir filled with quilting fabric and a bookcase full of quilting books and magazine.
I tag the following people:

Have a great weekend!

July 22, 2008

TWD - Rhubarb Cherry Cobbler

This week's TWD was chosen by Amanda. I wasn't able to find any rhubarb - fresh or otherwise. I used some tart nectarines in place of the rhubarb. I don't think I did a very good job with the cobbler part - they weren't very tasty. My butter was frozen so I wasn't able to incorporate well be hand. The fruit part was good. My husband discovered that ginger in sweet foods tastes salty to him, so he didn't care for it much.

July 17, 2008

More Bread

I'm so excited! I ordered a tripod so I could get better pictures of food - now that I have a Blog and all and it came yesterday. It was having a hard time getting clear pictures on close ups because the camera would shake (technically it would be my hands shaking - whatever.)

I've been loving Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day, but hadn't had any dough going since we returned from vacation. Yesterday I whipped up a batch of 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread. This is the first bread from the book that I had to make in a loaf pan.

This is what it looked like before the rising. I weighed the dough to be sure it was 1 1/2 pounds. I let it rise for about an hour and forty-five minutes. I sprinkled oatmeal over the top, made a slash down the middle. After 1 hour at 350 - Wa Lah!

The hardest part is letting it cool before cutting into it! The kitchen smells wonderful. It didn't rise as much as I had hoped. When I make up the dough it rises great, but doesn't do as well once the loaves are formed. I have a sneaking suspicion that my yeast is on it's last legs (hehe!) I bought one of the mega packages of yeat at Costco (ahem - more than a year ago!) I just have a really hard time throwing it out when there is still so much left - not rational, but just my cheap gene.

Buy the way - it's de-LICH-us mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

July 15, 2008

TWD - Chocolate Pudding

This week's selection was chosen by Melissa of Melissa's Kitchen. Her's looks beautiful with whipped cream and springles on top.

My book is officially broken in - I got chocolate stains on it :).

After reading that several people experienced overflows, I decided to make mine in my blender. To be honest, it seemed like a lot of extra work. I do like the "fluffiness" it has due to the air incorporation. I didn't have any bittersweet chocolate in the house but was able buy a fancy schmancy organic chocolate bar at our oh-so-chic community quick mart.

I used Splenda and halved the recipe - I bought some at Costco and need to use it up and there are only two of us to eat this. Turned out pretty good - not sure I'll make it again.

Doesn't this look pretty boring and pathetic?

Yeah, I though so too. Plus, throwing out that extra egg white did not appeal to my thrifty side. I whipped up the egg white (actually over-whipped) baked it at 250 for one hour and then left it in the oven for another hour. Now doesn't this look better?

Yeah, I thought so too!