Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cuz there aren't enough pumpkin recipes floating around right now

Ya know what makes mine better? It uses donuts. Donuts make everything better, right? Or is that butter? Actually, I'm not a huge donut fan, but I'll tell ya what I am a fan of, using up leftovers.
I had gotten the kids donuts one Saturday as a treat. I snuck out before they got up and got a dozen of the little gems. Problem being, our family can't finish a dozen donuts. Or maybe it's that I don't want them to? Anyway, whatever. I found myself with 4 leftover donuts.
Those donuts stared me down for the better part of the day. I picked them up to throw them away but stopped. On the counter I saw 4 newly purchased cans of pumpkin puree (we loves us some pumpkin in our house. Also HOO-RAY for the pumpkin shortage being over) and the wheels a started turnin' in the ol' noodle.
So, I cut them upI whipped up yer basic custard for the bread pudding, with the addition of some pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spices.
I decided on individual ramekins for portion control. Ok, that's a lie. I did that because of my brand spankin' new, colorful ramekins that I got at Target in the Dollar Spot. Total steal.
Anyway, I placed the ramekins in a roasting pan and filled them with the cubed bread 4 donuts is not enough for this recipe. Probably 6-8 would be better. I ended up with a lot of extra custard, which I just baked off on it's own and was fabulous on its own!
Next, I poured the custard over the donuts till it was about half an inch below the rim. Smoosh the donuts down if you'd like. Allow it to set and soak up all that custardy goodness for about 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 while they soak. Place your pan with the ramekins in it on the middle wrack. Pour HOT water into the pan until it is about halfway up the ramekins. Fancy work alert: this is called a Bain Marie or a water bath.
But MammaDucky, why do I need to do that? Because I said so, that's why! Wait, sorry, you're not my children. You want to do this because it promotes even baking and gives the custards a silky texture. Don't skip it.
Mine took 25 minutes to reach that light golden brown color on top and a toothpick inserted into the center came out clean. CAREFULLY remove from the oven! That water will be hot!

Aren't they pretty?!

They were pretty yummy too!
Yep, did that.Ooops! All gone!!Mission Accomplished. Donut box empty.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
3 large eggs
3/4 Cup canned pumpkin (plain, not pumpkin pie mix)
1/2 Cup milk
1 Cup heavy cream
3/4 Cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (don't have it? combine 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg & 1/8 tsp allspice)
6-8 donuts, day old
or you can opt for the standard baguette, Ciabatta loaf or the golden child of bread puddings, croissant ~le sigh.
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Cut up the bread/donuts and place in greased ramekins or an 8 inch baking dish. Pour custard over the top and allow to soak for 15 minutes. Place break pudding in a larger dish and pour hot water into the larger dish. Try to aim for the water equalling the custard in the smaller dish (or halfway). Place dish on middle wrack in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. For the 8 inch dish, bake for approximately 45 minutes. Ramekins, 25 minutes. Bake until light golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What do you do with a 3 year old pickle?

Somebody found the extra frosting!

"Helping" out.

Throw it a birthday party!
Pretty much, yeah, I am.
Anyshway, I was looking over some pictures and realized I hadn't shown off the birthday cake I made for my baby big boy. Le sigh. They grow up too fast, don't they?

Seems like only yesterday he was born. Now look at him with that big boy green Mohawk and rock star themed birthday party!

Love that kid! He is such a rock star. He loves him some "kee-tars."
This is the invite:

Cool, huh? Took me about 2 minutes to fill in the information on the website and it gave me the image. I just had them printed out at Office Depot on cardstock for 6 cents per page (I got 4 tickets per page). Cheap, no?

I also made up some backstage passes and had those printed out as well. They were nothing fancy. Just whipped 'em up in Microsoft publisher and slid them into name badge protectors! They looked cool.

I served rootbeer for drink. You can pick up a case of the IBC rootbeer in plain glass, brown bottles at Sam's club for cheap. I splurged and had waterproof, personalized "beer bottle" labels made up with Pickle's picture and the words, "Rocker's Brew" on them.

On to the cake! You can order cake kits from Duff Goldman that are rock star themed. I did that. I was kinda pissed when I opened it and there was one flame, a few picks, the neck of the guitar and a bunch of plastic extras. I dunno, I expected more gumpaste and fondant pieces for the money. I ended up making more gumpaste pieces to suit my likes. The body of the guitar is gumpaste, while the collar, spikes and chain are all fondant. I hand painted the flames and guitar. I also made extra guitar pics so I could spell out his name.

I iced the cake with that faux fondant again. I don't really care for real fondant and this stuff really smooths out nicely anyway.

My favorite part of the cake is the chain. How freakin' awesome is that?! And easy?! WHAT?!
I just rolled out some fondant snakes till they were the thickness I wanted. Then I cut off 2 1/2 in pieces and shaped them into a link. The 3D part of the chain (the links that stuck out of the cake) were just half of a link. The picture kinda explains it a little better.
**I apologize for some of the picture's quality. Some of these were snapped with my camera phone as I was too lazy to go and get my real camera**

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Fancy Quesadilla

Pickles and I have this ridiculous love of pears. That kid could eat his body weight in pears, me, not so much. Not that I don't love them equally, but seriously, my body weight in pears? That's just silly.
I even loved the movie "City of Angels," partly because of how Meg Ryan describes the taste of pears to Nick Cage.
Where was I going with all of this? Oh yes, my latest snacking endeavor.
The other day I was making the kiddos some black bean quesadillas please note, it is redundant to call it a bean and cheese quesadilla as the word quesadilla actually means cheese in tortilla. Just sayin'. I was hungry, but not super hungry so I just wanted something light-ish. My friend the pear was staring me straight in the eye. Sounded good, but I needed a little something extra. I popped open the fridge and found a smidge of Gorgonzola cheese, leftover from The Dude's favorite dinner Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo pasta. LIGHTBULB!!
Back in SoCal, near where I used to live, there is this awesome restaurant that serves a Gorgonzola Pear pizza, drool.
So, I yanked that Gorgonzola out the fridge and whipped this up.

Here's how it went down:
2 - 6in flour tortillas
5-6 thin slices of pear (any variety will do)
1 T whipped cream cheese
1 T crumbled Gorgonzola cheese

Smear the cream cheese on one (or both, hell I don't care) tortilla. Lay a single layer of pears on top and sprinkle the Gorgonzola on it. We're not looking for heavy coverage on the Gorgonzola here people. Use less or more according to your liking. Top with remaining tortilla.

Fire up the ol' griddle or pan and cook that bad boy. No need to grease the pan, unless you are really looking for that extra artery clogging goodness that butter adds. Not that I'm judging you, cuz it is fabulous. Just know you will still get a nice, crisp quesadilla without it. Let it sit for a few minutes to let the juices hang out. You can do it. Resist the urge to eat it, just for a little while.

Now, it was fabulous on it's own. But I'm thinkin' I need to scout out some fresh cranberries and make some cranberry sauce. That flavor combo sounds awesome to me!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bribing the teacher with candy

That is so my style. Ok, maybe it's not technically bribing. More like giving them an extra reason to cut me some slack should I forget to send something to school on time. You know, things like that.

I sent one of these for each of my children's teachers last week. This went over well. Who doesn't like getting something for doing nothing. Let's be honest, they haven't done much of anything as of yet. It's more like incentive to do good things. Like, "See, I gave you a treat even before you did anything. Imagine what you'll get for doing well with my kids!!"

Maybe not? Anyone follow me?

Ok, anyway, here is a picture of the treat.

The blue side is that back. Obviously the white side with the writing is the front. It just wrapped around a standard Skor candy bar. oooooh, Skor candy bar, I love you. I came really close to just eating these and giving the empty wrappers but I thought that bad form.

Since I'm so lame and low tech, I don't know how to upload templates or anything on here. If you want it, comment here with an email address and I'll send you the file. Or, if you're so inclined tell me how to put the template up! Or don't, your call.

Yay for sucking up to the teacher!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Gymnast Cake

A while back a friend asked me to make a cake for her mother. No occasion. Her Mom caters and does cakes for a living. She once mentioned how no one ever made her a cake. That was where I entered. It was a simple cake: lemon cake with raspberry mousse filling and lemon Swiss buttercream. I piped little white daisies all around the yellow iced cake. Very simple, very pretty.

Another friend stopped by that house and had a piece of cake. I got a text from her the next day asking if I would do her daughter's birthday cake. She selected a cake based on the theme of the party. I got to planning and was about to buy the few things I needed when I got a text saying the theme of the party had changed. It was now a gymnastics party. The following cake is what they wanted. I had tons of fun doing it. *please note, I am obviously not a professional so please don't judge me too harshly!! Also, all pictures were taken with a cell phone camera, hence the crap-tastic quality.
WTF is with that right side? It looks bulgy! There was no bulge in person, I assure you.

Gymnast is made out of fondant. Hair was done using a...wait for it...garlic press. Bahahaha! I know they make fondant/clay extruders, but my garlic press worked perfectly!

Marshmallow fondant accents

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

O - M - G

This will be my lame attempt at blogging today. Although you may not find it so lame after you click here.
Boo-yah! How freakin' awesome is that?!
Sarah, at Stepping Thru Crazy, is a total genius. I think I may be in love.
Sisters, I can totally see you making these. I absolutely expect to see some on your wrists when I get there for Christmas.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Another thing you never knew was so easy

I'm not sure why, but the thought of cheese making intimidates me. It just seems like one of those things that only a select few can master.
I have had this recipe for homemade ricotta cheese for a while. Actually, I typed it out on October 8th, 2008, so that's more than a while, right? Wow, that was a lot of commas. Ack!! Another one. Dang. My English 1A professor was right! I DO have comma diarrhea.
Anyway, where was I? Yes, so I've had this recipe on my desk at work since then. I have no idea where it came from. None whatsoever. I saw it somewhere, copied it into Word, printed it out, and on my desk it sat until last weekend. Then it happened. I took the plunge. I made my first cheese. While it's not an aged cheddar or Romano, it is was heavenly. I saw was because it's gone. Not a nibble was left.
I'm almost hesitant to tell you all just how easy it is. Mostly because I like people to think I'm fantastic. I use trickery to fool most of them. Easy recipes like this that produce fantastical results that seem so out of reach for the regular Joe, are how I keep up the mystique.

Ok, ok. I'll share. But only cuz you're cute.
Creamy-Dreamy Ricotta Cheese

2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 T white vinegar
½ tsp sea salt

Gee, guess who shops at Walmart??

Warm the milk and cream over medium-high heat until foamy and steamy (185 degrees). Do NOT let it boil.
Allow me to throw in this little nugget: use a pot that is big enough. This one: too small. I hadn't even added all of the ingredients at this point!
This one: much too big, but I wasn't about to dirty a 3rd pot.
Remove from heat. Add vinegar and stir gently for 30 seconds; mixture will curdle almost instantly. I'll be honest here, it looks nas-tastic at this point. Push on, friend. It will all be worth it shortly. Add the salt and stir 30 seconds longer. Cover with a clean towel and let stand for 2 hrs.
Line a large colander with several layers of cheesecloth, allowing several inches to overhang. Set the colander in a large bowl. Using a slotted spoon, transfer curds to colander. Carefully gather the corners of the cheesecloth and close with a rubber band and hang over bowl.
You likey my fancy-shmancy system I rigged up here? Yup, that is totally a rubber-bandy headband.
Let the ricotta drain for 30 minutes, gently pressing and squeezing the cheesecloth occasionally to drain off the whey. Transfer ricotta to a bowl and use at once or cover and refrigerate.

Close yer yaps. Yes, it's that easy. The results are amazing. Seriously, you will never, ever buy the store bought stuff again. Ridiculous, right? Why did I let this recipe sit on my desk for a year and a half? Because I was intimidated by cheese making! Geez.

I used my ricotta to make the kick-assiest baked pasta dish I've ever had. My picky eater, Twin A, even liked it! She wanted a small bowl for herself. I drizzled it with honey and let her have at it. She declared it "the best thing I never had." Yeah, made me scratch my head too. Fairly certain she meant ever.