Have you ever made something that made you feel like a superstar in the kitchen? Eclairs? Beef Bourguignon? Souffles? PB and J? (Just kidding. Or not. you can feel like a super star with Peanut butter. No judging here.)
Yeah. It's a good feeling, that on-top-of-the-world-I-am-SO-awesome-at-making-food-right-now high. Mhmmm...
If you enjoy feeling like your very own bonafide chef de awesome, make cheese.
It's easier than a box of mac and cheese, but it is super impressive. And if you happen to revert to a ridiculous italian accent and calling it "Bellissima" or "Stupenda", and flinging about wooden spoons. It's ok! Because everyone will be so impressed with the fact that you made your very own CHEESE, they will look right past your little kitchen antics. Um. Yeah.
Just make the dang cheese, already.
My mom recently bought this really fun book called The Homemade Pantry. I actually sat down and read it cover to cover in about an hour. It was a happy book. :)
It highlights all the things we wouldn't usually think to make at home because they are readily available at the store. But readily available doesn't always mean the best...so homemade ricotta, homemade yogurt, homemade marshmallows...you get the idea. It's a happy book. The following recipe is adapted from this happy book. :) Ricotta Cheese (makes about 1 and 1/2 cups) 1/2 gallon of whole milk (we use raw milk that has been unpasteurized. We think it tastes best this way and makes us feel super healthy and stuff. Because if you're going to make cheese, why not go all out?) 1/3 cup of fresh lemon juice (usually about 2-3 lemons worth if they are big ones) Salt to taste
Throw an ice cube in a large heavy pot. Move it all around and let it melt, coating the bottom. When the ice is entirely melted, leave the cold water and add the milk and lemon juice. This keeps the bottom of the pot from scorching as you cook your cheese. Just be sure not to touch the bottom of the pot whenever you stir.
Stir the lemon juice and milk together for five minutes slowly, not touching the bottom. Place the pot on low heat and attach a candy thermometer to the side. Heat the mixture to 175 degrees F. This takes about 45 minutes, you can stir once or twice as it slowly warms up.
When it reaches 175, raise the heat to medium high and without stirring, watch the pot until the temperature is 205. It takes about five minutes. The surface of the milk will look like a melty bubbly lagoon about to erupt in cheesy catastrophe Mt. Vesuvius style. Don't worry, it shouldn't boil. It will just look exciting. When it reaches 205, remove the pot from heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Tada! You now have curds and whey!
Spoon the curds into a fine meshed sieve or a strainer lined with damp cheese cloth. Using a large slotted spoon, scoop the ricotta curds into the sieve. Let the cheese drain for 10 minutes. Sprinkle salt on the cheese to taste. Try not to eat the whole thing before you use it in a recipe, okay? I know it says "to taste"... but taste. Don't consume entirely. ;)
Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day! And I realized that I have posted absolutely zero Irish themed recipes here. My poor blog. I'm such a bad blog mom.
So here we go! To remedy the tragedy I'm posting Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Coffee Pudding. (OH my word. That is way to many words to say.) We should just call them St. Paddy's Pudding! Orrrrr Boozy Mocha Puddings. On the newly written out recipe card it is titled "Bailey's Irish Coffee Mousse. But then you don't know about the chocolate, which is very important. Maybe just Chocolate Coffee Mouse? Or something that is easier to say and remember. Here at home we just call it: "That amazing pudding" There is no other description needed. We all just instinctively know what "that pudding" means. Because it is so good.
For one thing, I don't like coffee. And I don't like alcohol themed desserts.
And I like this pudding. (How is that possible? I don't know how that is possible. But it's possible.)
"That Pudding"-- Irish Cream Mocha Pudding 1/3 cup brown sugar 4 Tablespoons flour 1 3/4 cup strong coffee 2 slightly beaten egg yolks 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder 2 Tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla extract 1 cup of heavy cream, whipped until stiff. 1/4 cup powdered sugar Mini Chocolate Chips to garnish, optional
In a sauce pan combine sugar, flour, a pinch of salt and the cocoa. Slowly whisk in the coffee and Baileys until smooth. Cook on med low heat until thick and bubbly. Reduce the heat to low and cook two minutes more, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs yolks and vanilla together. Temper the eggs and the hot coffee mixture. By slowly pouring in a stream of coffee (about 1/4 cup) into the eggs whisking the whole time. Then add the tempered egg yolks in to the remaining hot coffee mixture, still continually whisking. Bring the whole thing back to a boil and cook 2 additional minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a chilled bowl. Cover the pudding with plastic wrap, making sure the pudding is touching the plastic wrap to avoid a film from forming on it as it chills. Cool it completely in the refrigerator. While it cools, whip your heavy cream until it is stiff. I sweetened mine with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar right before stiff peak formed, but feel free to skip this step if you want to keep the recipe lower in sugar. Reserve half of a cup of the whipped cream to garnish the mousse, folding the rest into your chilled coffee pudding. Spoon into individual cups and garnish with the whipped cream and chocolate chips.
This last week had some delicious weather. The weekend has some really really glorious days. It was full on sun, visits to the nursery, hardware store, Brussels sprouts plants, new garden beds, purple pots, and cupcakes.
Nice green minty cupcakes.
I wish I had stuck with my recipe for these. It was the sun. I completely blame the copious amount of rays coming in all the open windows. It went straight to my head.
I decided to try a new (fancy) cake recipe. One that involved soaking mint leaves in Bailey's Irish Cream, separating eggs, beating the whites and folding batter. It was supposed to reveal a light fluffy cake of supreme fluffiness. A cloud of minty delight sprinkled with little chocolate bursts of happy.
And it was a bit dry.
The flavor itself was great. Pretty inspired. Mint with a hint of Baileys Irish Cream (as a tip of the hat to St Particks' Day coming up) with chocolate chips. A boozy mint chocolate chip. Awesome. But the texture just wasn't there.
Lesson learned? If there is something that tastes good, everyone loves it, and you like making it...just stick with it. There is no need to find something better! Sure, it's fun to experiment, but don't get your hopes up. ;) So I'm looking forward to recreating this with a more successful hope of light fluffy of supreme fluffiness. I'll keep you updated. ;)
Sometimes when I have wayyyy too much homework to do and my bathroom definitely needs scrubbing and I haven't done laundry in a week. And I should catch up on all the sleep I've lost in the past few nights. Sometimes when these things are hanging about bothering me I do a very childish and inappropriate thing.
I set my chin determinedly, my eyes squint just slightly slightly (a 100th of a centimeter) closed in that steely look that cowboys get in those western movies when they see their nemesis across the street. (you know what I'm talking about, yes? Yes.) I stubbornly ignore all those things that I should be dealing with. And I open up Netflix.
Netflix is a bad thing for young women who fancy themselves worthy of a movie night.
Now, I am not saying that when you have a million and three things to get done you should drop them all willy nilly and watch obscure movies on the internet. I am not.
But you can come across some great cinematic enjoyment in it. ;)
Like movies about orphanages and apple orchards. (OH MY GOSH. It's perfect.) When I was a kid I wanted to be one of two things...or maybe both things at once, I couldn't decide. Anyway, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I answered either with "Owner of an apple farm" or "Head Teacher of an orphanage" So a movie where half the story takes place in a New England Orphanage and the other half follows the lives of apple pickers in Maine? Pop the corn, amigos. I'm watching it no matter what.
Enter Cider House Rules. Watching this flick made me think of apples. And also of all the imaginary children I would be able to bake for if I ran an orphanage. I liked Cider House Rules.
I also like Apple Cinnamon Rolls.
Now, everyone has a good cinnamon roll recipe. Two people in one day, upon learning I was making cinnamon rolls offered to give me theirs. Everybody thinks theirs is the best breakfast bun, and I am not here to change your mind.
Except I kinda am. Going to change your mind. (ha! See what I did there? Yeah.)
Next time you make your cinnamon rolls, put in an apple. Nothing drastic...just apples.
Apple filling for your cinnamon rolls"
1 Apple, peeled and chopped finely
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. sugar
Ready for the life changing directions? Eyah.
Melt butter in a sauce pan. Put the apples in the sauce pan. Sprinkle the sugar on the apples. Cook down the apples in the butter and sugar until they are soft. There will be all sorts of bubbly butter-sugar-juice, so drain the apples, reserving the liquid. Brush your rolled out dough with this liquid and sprinkle generally with your cinnamon sugar mixture you usually put in your cinnamon rolls. Then add the softened apples to the rolls. Roll up tightly and slice. Bake like you normally would and enjoy the AWESOME-ness.
Conversation this past Friday night between me and my sister:
"How are the cupcakes?"
"They were okay. Tasted kinda weird."
"Oh no! What kind of weird? Terrible weird or good weird?"
"I don't know. Just not as good as they usually are."
"Ugh. Great. They're ugly, hideous, and not tasty."
"Well, they weren't bad!"
At this point I was in despair. I wanted to make the perfect dessert for my sister's college friends who were visiting for the weekend and I ended up making the kitchen a mess and mediocre cupcakes. Then my mom came home...
Conversation this past Friday night between me and my mom:
"Ooh! Cupcakes! What kind?"
"Cookies and Cream. Laura says they don't taste good."
"Did you use your regular chocolate cake recipe?"
"Yes." (I admit I might have said that a bit sullenly. I probably had my "Grumpy Cat" face on. My dad says I have a perfect grumpy cat face.)
"I'm going to have one."
*Grumpy Cat Face from me*
"Wow, Candice! It tastes like an Oreo in cupcake form..."
"Oh. Well, that was the goal I guess."
I had one later and I thought they were fine! They did taste like Oreos. I don't know what my sister's expectations were. Sometimes I think she believes I'm a cupcake goddess or something and everything I touch is going to taste like the dreams of baby fairies or something. And then I make a decently delicious cupcake that just tastes like a good cupcake and not unicorn wishes and she is disappointed in me. This is perfectly okay with me. I feel like all big sisters probably disappoint their little sisters at some point. I'm right on track then. Our relationship is well rounded. We are so well rounded we are like a perfectly circular...
Yeah. Like these here delicious Oreos on these here Cookies and Cream cupcakes.
Now. I don't have a recipe exactly. More like assembly instructions. Ready?
1. Pick your favorite chocolate cake recipe.
2. Pick your favorite buttercream recipe
3. Make them.
4. Throw in oreos and put oreos on everything. Thouroughly coat your kitchen in oreo crumbs.
5. Make Grumpy cat faces until you eat them and are satisfied. Drink milk from this mug in order to make it official.
No really, I used a plain chocolate cake recipe, stirred in cookie chunks (or just stuck a whole cookie in the cupcake before baking) and baked them normally. Be sure not to overfill the cupcake pan though. Mine ended up overflowing in the oven. :( I mean, I just ate the extra parts and it was fine. But there was a "OH NO! They are so ugly!" moment there for awhile. And then I used a plain cake icing that was shortening based and stirred in cookie chunks.
Oh yes. So Cordon Bleu over here. You're overwhelmed by the class and sophistication of this dessert, aren't you? Of course you are...
Dr. Seuss is one of those people that made my life better. And I can't really pinpoint it, but I love him and his crazy head. The nonsense he created has got to be some of the best nonsense I've ever read.
Look at him! It's like the face of genius and fun all wrapped up in one. I have seriously considered creating a Dr. Seuss board on pinterest. But I have wayyyy too many pinterest boards already. I mean, what is one to do when there are things like this floating around the internet?
I'm not sure what flavor of cupcakes Dr. Seuss would want for his birthday. But I do know what a lot of kids like, and Dr. Seuss is the un-official patron saint of children.
When I was a kid one of my favorite things to eat for lunch was Peanut Butter and Honey sandwiches. There was something special about them. Not your regular old pb and j fare, my friends. This was PB and awesome.
Peanut Honey Cupcakes.
If you ever loved peanut butter and honey sandwiches, you must make and eat these immediately. Just don't eat three at once and get sick like everyone else in my family. :/ That was a bit awkward.
It will be hard. You will want to eat three. You will have to reach deep within you to find that self control that every cupcake ninja possesses.
Honey and Peanut Cupcakes- Makes about 13 (I know, weird number. Sorry.)
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soft butter
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups chopped unsalted peanuts
In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a mixer cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about three minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the honey and sour cream until smooth. Add to the batter alternately with the flour mixture, beating after each addition until all the ingredients are combined. Fold in the nuts. Fill cupcake tins 3/4 of the way full and bake at 350 until the tops of the cakes spring back when pressed or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. About 18 minutes.
Frost with peanut butter, honey, cinnamon, or vanilla butter cream. You could try cream cheese frosting too because cream cheese frosting is my spirit animal icing.
And so I leave you with words of wisdom from Dr. Seuss himself...(I love this list. I want it for my future classroom. :D)