February 2nd, Day 33: C is for Cookie

I had my camera in the trunk of my car all day today, and when I pulled it out to take photos, my lens got all foggy. :/ That does not make me a happy girl, though I don’t want to not carry my camera with me just because it might get too cold for it. Do you have any tricks to keep this from happening?

It ended up giving a neat looking effect though:

feb 2 wm

I also put together this compilation of all my January photos.

JanuaryI think I need to take more human photos, and less close ups of grass!

I “gnocchi” you’re going to want to try this….

Thanks to Terra and Brian for sharing this recipe!

I really didn’t realize gnocchi was so simple. It’s great, because after you try this basic recipe, you will want to make it again and again, adding different seasonings every time!

Homemade Gnocchi Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs potato, sweet potato, or pumpkin
  • 1 cup flour (I learned that this will vary wildly, I used about 4 cups of flour with the 1 lb 14 oz can of pumpkin.)
  • 1-2 eggs – add one at a time, mixing well after each addition
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Directions:

  • First. bake or boil potatoes until soft. You want that mashed potato consistency to make this dough easier to mix. Boiling them is the traditional way to prepare potatoes for gnocchi, but a baked potato won’t contain as much water, and so wouldn’t need as much flour.
  • Mix ingredients together until they’re completely combined. You don’t want the consistency of the dough to be sticky. I just kept adding flour to mine until I was able to roll the dough with my hands. It’s possible that I needed to add so much extra flour because the canned pumpkin had a lot of water in it, whereas a baked potato would be drier. A boiled potato would probably need additional flour.

Here are two of mine, the one on the right was before I added enough flour. It stuck to my hands as I picked up, causing the odd shape. Still completely edible though!

  • Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a long snake (I did this is sections – small kitchen) and cut off individual pieces. You can shape them however you’d like, the first patch I just rolled them into balls, the second patch I cut off smaller pieces and rolled them into footballs.
  • Boil the balls of dough until they float. (you might need to help them off the bottom of the pot with a spatula.) Though I didn’t time them, Terra says it’s about 3 minutes.

Tah-Dah! Just out of the pot.

And that’s it! You’re done. They’re yummy plain, or with alfredo or tomato sauce.

Here are a couple of homemade topping options we used, for you to try (or turn into your own creation):

Fresh tomato salsa (I’m not really sure how else to describe it):

Ingredients:

  • tomato
  • kale
  • garlic
  • onion
  • salt and pepper
  • basil (optional)

In a hot pan  with a small amount of water or oil in the bottom, add chopped kale and onions. Cover, and give the kale a chance to cook down. Then, add diced tomato (I used three romas) and garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. After the tomatoes have cooked down some, it’s ready to top your gnocchi! Add some fresh basil to the mix for extra flavor.

This is the salsa we enjoyed the first day of gnocchi. It was de-li-cious.

Isaac’s Cashew Alfredo (no actual cream was harmed in the making of this sauce):

Ingredients:

  • cashews
  • soy milk
  • nutritional yeast
  • garlic

Add cashews to the blender (as much as you think you’ll need – you can always keep adding to the mix as you go). Add enough soy milk to cover the cashews. Add chopped garlic. Blend. You might need to add more soy milk if the mixture is too dry. add a pinch or two of nutritional yeast, and blend.

Isaac’s cashew alfredo tastes so much like real alfredo. I added chopped cilantro to mine here.

We had so much gnocchi, it lasted three days. The third night we created a weird avocado/white bean guacamole-type topping. It was good, but not as good as the above two (and I’m not sure I’d remember all that went in it…we were hungry, and just started throwing stuff together).

I’d love to hear about your experiences with this or other gnocchi recipes!

I want to try this again, with potato instead of pumpkin, and with different additions, such as cheese in the middle (gnocchi poppers? ;p ). If you have a suggestion I need to try, let me know!

Enjoy!

Simply Delicious Pretzels

I made these today, so delicious.

The only thing missing was the gooey cheese

The only thing left of these guys is this photo.

The original author of this recipe requested that I remove it from my blog, and so if you’d like to give these fun little pretzels a try, you can email me at abracole@msn.com and I’d be happy to give you the link to the blog where I found them. :)

May 16th, photo of the day: Pie

Delicious, delicious pie.

I’m off to enter one of my babies into the Columbia City Farmer’s Market Rhubarb Festival rhubarb contest, so wish me luck!

It’s not a huge deal whether I win or not, it will be fun either way. The winner gets a gift certificate to the farmers market, which would be cool, but I made a second pie for Isaac and I to eat and that’s good enough prize for me.

This recipe was the first pie recipe I ever tried, a little over a year ago. Since then I’ve made lots of different types of pie, but I always use this crust recipe because it turned out so well the first time.

If you’re interested….

I got this recipe from the Post Office Manager where I was living (Thanks Lorrie!) and she got it out of a County Gardens Magazine.

The Filling:

2 cups fresh sliced rhubarb (or frozen unsweetened rhubarb, though I’ve personally never been able to find it)

2 cups sliced strawberries*, about the same size as the sliced rhubarb (or frozen).

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca (don’t do what I did and actually prepare the tapioca…just use the little tapioca crumbles as they are in the box)

1/4 cup orange juice – this typically equals one regular sized orange (or Grand Marnier)

2 Tablespoons butter, room temperature, cup up

Combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca, orange juice, and butter in a large bowl. Cover, and set aside for 15-20 minutes.

*you can substitute the strawberries for other fruit as well; peaches, apples, raspberries, etc. It’s all good.

Meanwhile, prepare the Pie Crust Dough:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

15 teaspoons butter*, room temperature, cut up (it seems like a lot, but it’s just shy of  cup)

7  Tablespoons cold water

*The magazine said to use 1/2 “butter-flavor” or plain shortening, along with 7 Tablespoons of butter. I have no idea what butter-flavor is, it doesn’t sound good, and I don’t usually have shortening around the house. But what you use is entirely up to you!

Combine flour, salt, and butter in a large bowl until the pieces of butter are pea-sized.

Then, sprinkle 1 tablespoon cold water over part of the mixture, and toss with a fork. push the moistened dough to the side and repeat the process until all the dough is moistened. Divide dough into two balls.

Roll one of the balls out on a lightly floured surface, and wrap it around the rolling pin to transfer it to the pie plate, I use both a 9 inch or a 9 1/2 inch, the size of this rolled out dough will depend on the size of your pie plate.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Scoop the filling into the dough-lined pie plate.

With the other ball of dough, you can do the top in any number of ways. For the lattice top like mine, roll it out to about 12 inches by 12 inches, and cut strips.

I usually use 10 strips, 5 in each direction. I cut them all out first, and before attaching them I will measure them on the pie to make sure I have enough dough to go around. Attach one side of one set of five to the outer pie crust, either by pressing them together or by adding just a dab of water between them. Before attaching the other end of this set of five, weave the other set of five between them, going in the other direction. Attach all ends to the outer pie crust and fold the outer crust over the ends as necessary, seal, and crimp.

Topping:

1 egg

1 Tablespoon water

sprinkling of sugar

Combine the egg and water and brush over the top of the crust. Sprinkle with sugar.

To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of the pie with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes (until the top is brown and the filling is bubbly).

Enjoy.

and  then, she {snapped}

*Author’s note*

The competition was small, but fierce:

Fierce Competition

There were two contests, sweet and savory. The savory winner was the rhubarb salsa near the far end of the table, and the winner of the sweet was the rhubarb cardamom cake (I think that’s the square one on the pedestal plate). Mine didn’t win, but that didn’t stop it from getting eaten up after they finished judging and let everyone try them all! :)

Photobucket

May 4th, photo of the day: Rhubarb

Rhubarb is one of those foods most people don’t really think about.

It’s not really a fruit, so is it a vegetable? The leaves are poisonous, but the stems go great with strawberries in a variety of things; pie, cookies, crisp, etc. It looks like red celery, but it’s bitter. It’s one of the first vegetables to come each spring.

Over the last year, I have come to love rhubarb. The first pie I ever made was strawberry rhubarb, and it’s been a wild pie ride ever since! I have made an assortment of different types of pie, but I find that I always come back to this stalky red vegetable (yup, it’s a vegetable!).

I even bought myself my own rhubarb plant this year. I’m not sure if I’ll actually be able to use any of its shoots this summer season, and he’s going to have to live in a pot for now, but I have one! Some day I will be able to go outside and grab a couple of stalks anytime I want!

My love for rhubarb is why I was super excited to find fresh rhubarb for sale at a little home-owned honor box fruit stand next door to the Bay View State Park that Isaac and I camped at while in Mt Vernon. Whoever had set it up had rubber-banded stalks of rhubarb together with a note that said “Rhubarb stalks 3 for $1.” This alone was fantastic, since rhubarb is typically about $3.99 a pound at Fred Meyer. But add on top of the price that this rhubarb was super fresh, just picked, and most likely organically grown, I was literally a happy camper that night.

Before

I haven’t made a pie in a couple of months (this is so sad to realize!). But it’s hard to make a full pie with just Isaac and myself to eat it. That’s a lot of pie for two people! (anyone in the greater Puget Sound area want some pie? I would love to make you some)

Anyway, so I brought my little rhubarb bouquet home, where I decided to turn it into rhubarb raspberry cookies (which I did today!) rather than pie. Granted, cookies aren’t healthier than pie, but at least they last longer and we won’t feel like we have to eat them all within two days (that might happen anyway…heh heh)!

After

Anyone have a rhubarb plant I could groom for you?

 

Chocolate Cream Pie (AKA nom nom nom)

I’ve been making lists, the dreaded lists, and mine just keeps getting longer and longer. I occasionally accomplish something on it, but with each thing gone I seem to add at least two more. So many ideas, they just keep popping into my head!

Something I read somewhere recently (can’t remember where…) said that if there’s something on my list that will take less than two minutes to accomplish, I should just do it instantly. Every time I think of one of these two minutes things I remember this advice, and -at least half the time- I take it. :p

*edit* rereading this, I’m not sure where I was going with this train of thought. Looks like I lost it anyway, haha.

 

Here’s the pie:

The piece

Oh, I used a recipe found at Allrecipes.com. I took the advice of the reviewers,  many of whom suggested adding an extra tablespoon of cornstarch, which helped with the firming-up of the filling. I also added an extra egg yolk, for the same reason, and I substituted whole milk instead of  regular milk for sweetness.

It's alive!

Pre-whipped topping

The whole thing

All in all, it was delicious, albeit a bit soft (yes, despite the above additions). I changed my mind. It has an almost perfect consistency.

We also added some crumbled Butterfingers for extra topping, which will have to be homemade butterfingers in the future, but this time we already had real Butterfingers on hand.

gone

Update: I just another piece of this, and it tastes even better now than it did yesterday. Yum.

The most beautiful bagels in the world

I love bread. Any kind of bread. Hard bread, soft bread, seasoned bread, buttered bread, bread covered in cheese, plain bread. Loaves, buns, sticks, you name it, I love it.

Today I tried a bread I have always wanted to try, but never had the nerve. Bagels. Doesn’t sound hard, you say? Well, you’re right. They’re easy. Way easier than I thought they would be. I guess I was intimidated because I had seen somewhere that you have to do all this complicated stuff like floating them in boiling water. It sounds kind of stupid now, I guess I intimidate easily! Anyway, I made a dozen whole wheat bagels. I don’t think I’ll ever buy store bought again.

I followed a recipe I saw on Pinterest (so many recipes to try, so little time!) from bakingbites.com

Her instructions and corresponding photos are great, very easy to follow and see that you’re doing it right. Mine didn’t turn out quite as nice looking as hers, but my taste buds didn’t mind!

I substituted whole wheat flour for white and only used about a half of a tablespoon of salt. Though this recipe only called for 1 tablespoon of sugar, I want to try it with honey instead. And then of course I started thinking about all the other other things I could add to these little gems. What came to mind: chocolate chips, peanut butter, garlic (yum), onions, cheese…..what’s your favorite kind of bagel?

Excuse me while I go eat a bagel.

Warning: It’s a gateway cookie!

Good Evening!

As I was wandering around Pinterest the other day I came across a recipe for Lemon Crinkle Cookies.

Check out the Lemon Crinkle recipe here, at laurenslatest.com. (No, really, go check it out. She’s won awards.)

Now, I made Chocolate Crinkle Cookies over Christmas, and they were a hit. So, this version caught my eye.

I made it this afternoon, and I’m hooked. It’s basically the same cookie as the chocolate one (with the obvious differences) but this one seems so much healthier because it’s so light and lemony.

That’s why I’ve dubbed it the ‘gateway cookie’ you eat a few of these, thinking you’re still doing okay, but then you remember what’s actually all in them and BAM! You might as well dig into those Chocolate Raspberry truffles and Chocolate Chips cookie dough balls you made yesterday. Not to say that you shouldn’t eat a few of these, because if you eat one, you will want more.

I think next time I make them I will experiment a bit with the ingredients, for example substitute yogurt for the butter? We’ll see.

If you like lemon, or cookies, or anything delicious, you need to try these. Do it.

Lemon Crinkle Cookie

No Bake Treats

When I was a kid, my friend Heather and I would make no-bake cookies almost every time I stayed the night at her house.

They were tasty in their own way; it was one of those chocolate, oats, and sugar (loads of it) freezer recipes that we were allowed to make pretty much whenever, on our own. The cookies would harden up in the freezer, but if you waited more than a few minutes to eat them after taking them out, you had a gooey mess on your hands (literally). They were super sweet, and even the child version of me could only eat a few before I felt like puking.

Since then, whenever I see that a new recipe I want to try is a no-bake, I wonder how unsophisticated they’ll taste, and how much of a mess they’ll end up creating.(How pessimistic am I, huh? Geez.)

Yesterday, I tried three new recipes, all happened to be of the no-bake variety.

The first recipe I found here, at loveandoliveoil.com, a food blog aimed at creating inexpensive yet tasty dishes. For me, the best part of making chocolate chip cookies is the dough you get to snack on, so I knew I had to give this recipe a try.

I also like that it doesn’t include egg in the recipe, which, while I have never been affected by eating probably POUNDS of raw cookie dough over the years, it’s always in the back of my mind that raw eggs might contain salmonella.

Since Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us, I shaped the balls of dough into hearts before dipping them in dark chocolate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also made some where I dipped only half of the hearts in dark chocolate.

They both turned out delicious, though I think in the future I will be dipping the whole thing in the chocolate coating because the uncovered dough is hard to hang onto. I may also eventually try to see how this dough tastes when actually baked into cookies!

The second ‘treat’ I made yesterday was a Peanut Butter & Chocolate Rice Crispie Ball. Isaac’s new favorite. I printed out the recipe yesterday, but now I can’t find the exact one online…so weird. It was off of one of the bigger recipe websites, Cooks.com or Epicurious.com. Something like that. Anyway, I tweaked the recipe a bit. Here’s mine:

PB and Chocolate Rice Crispy Hearts

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup rice crispies (or more!)

2 cups dark chocolate chips to melt.

Ingredients website included but I don’t think are necessary:

1 cup powdered sugar

3 TB melted butter

Instructions:

Mix together PB and rice crispies (and sugar and butter if desired).

Roll into balls or whatever shape strikes you.

Place on wax paper on a cookie sheet and put in freezer until firm (approx 30 minutes)

Melt chocolate chips in a bowl, roll shapes in chocolate, place on wax paper covered cookie sheet, and let cool on counter.

Eat.

I also shaped the PB and rice crispy middle into hearts before dipping them in chocolate, so the final result looks exactly like the chocolate chip cookie dough hearts I mentioned above. For this reason, I won’t include a photo.

Also, since I’m not sure which hearts are which, if I make these two recipes at the same time in the future, I’ll probably go with different shapes for the different recipes. Just so I don’t go totally crazy.

The third recipe -and my favorite- I saw while skimming Pinterest. The recipe itself is from About.com. It’s a Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, and since the photo showed these guys with a red drizzle on top, I thought of Valentine’s Day again.

I didn’t have enough frozen raspberries on hand, so my version is about half strawberry, though the raspberry flavor is so much stronger than the strawberries, so it’s hard to tell they’re in there at all.

The ganache (middle part) of mine wouldn’t firm up, even being in the freezer overnight (a lot longer than the 2 hours that the recipe says it will take) and so when it came time to dip them in dark chocolate it was a big mess.

But, the end product was totally worth it, they were so so so good. And instead of red drizzle on top, I used red sprinkles.

Chocolate Raspberry Truffles - Yum.