Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Old, New, and a taste of Blue

SO I still have some old pictures to post.... but I still have to finish converting them into jpegs (currently TIFs) before blogger will accept them....

for now.. here are the cookies I made with Rhena a week and a half ago. I tried a new technique with the picture taking.... more for backdrops than anything.
good day, sunshine!

rubber ducky, you're the one!

Little Lady

Mary had a little lamb (or three)

LESSONS LEARNED: UNFORTUNATELY, these cookies were not eaten by anyone. I noticed that the icing had a taste similar to WINDEX. I had cleaned up the counter using the Windex like I usually do, but totally forgot to cover and/or rinse my kitchen aide mixing bowl before making the icing. not sure if the spray had gotten in the bowl or on the whisk part, but bleh. that didn't stop me from practicing decorating, though. oh well. better for my diet, I guess.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bake Sale- May Edition part 1

I decided to try out a biscotti recipe this time around. Being that in general, I CAN NOT STAND the taste of almond flavored things... (amaretto? blah! plegh! kaploooey!)
I saw this recipe and thought I could give it a shot.

I was intimidated.

I had never made a loaf-like cookie before, and given my general dislike for biscotti (too hard! too almondy! is this stale??) I wasn't even sure if this was a good idea.. but alas.. gotta step outside the comfort zone.

SO I had visions of grandeur that I would chop up some walnuts or pecans to put in the cookies instead of the chocolate, then half-dip the cookies when complete in chocolate.

but. no nuts.

no mini-chips, either. so I used normal sized milk-chocolate ones.

The recipe notes that you should grease your hands before forming the rectangular-shaped dough logs, because the dough will be sticky. The idea of rubbing crisco on my hands made me vomit in my mouth a little, but after trying to just pick UP the dough, I realized that when I step out of my comfort zone.. I go for the gusto.

I smeared the crisco all over my hands, and was able to shape the dough. (of course.. I chose too small of a pan to fit the two loaves on one, so I had to shimmy the one loaf over to the center, then grease up yet ANOTHER pan, and my hands AGAIN, and form the other log. Rubbing shortening between my hands made me want to start another diet like IMMEDIATELY, btw..)

after the first round of baking, I let the loaves cool for per the recipes directions. I then cut the slices, and place on the cookie sheet again to bake/brown/dry out.

10 minutes later, I flipped them, and baked some more.

I also had some leftover chocolate from the apples I made.. so I did actually do the dip.

the final product was a nice golden color, and the taste was a pleasant surprise. not OVERLY banana-y, not TOO chocolaty, and by luck of my mistake.. it wasn't rock hard. one, because I'm sure it was still oven-fresh.. the other cause I think I didn't bake it long enough the first round in the oven. and the biggest thing... no almonds.

Lessons learned: this was a long process to undergo for a cookie I wasn't sure I would actually like. kind of a pain with the in-out-cut-in-out-flip-in-out baking. but I liked the taste. the KIDS LOVED the cookies. I think this recipe, with some educated substitutions, would make great teething cookies.... again.. only if I found a way to cut the sugar and up the fruit/fiber. might be something to work on in the future.

Bake Sale - May Part 2

Usually when my folks come to visit us, we end up taking a trip to the outlet mall. One store we always seem to make a stop in happens to be a Chocolate shoppe. In their front window, they boast a HUGE copper pot which is used to make their gourmet apples. Try as we might... when my mom is with me, we cave and buy one.

I let that primal urge for needing chocolate covered apples be my inspiration for this month's bake sale and made some gourmet apples of my own.

For baking and eating purposes, I usually stick to Breaburn apples. sometimes a Fuji.. OCCASIONALLY a Gala.. but mostly I'm a Breaburn girl. However... when it comes to gourmet apples.. I personally feel that nothing beats a Granny Smith.

I've said before how I love caramel, so it should be no surprise that I started this batch of 'healthy desserts' by a generous dunk in caramel. I used the Kraft caramels.. which was much easier than making my own caramel.. but I assure you that unwrapping about 50 of those little squares was mundane. I just know I like the taste of Kraft caramels and can count on them to melt and re-form well.

after the caramel set, I coated each apple in a mix of chocolate bark and baker's chocolate (I do not like the taste of store-bought chocolate bark.. bleh! so I always add in a better quality chocolate to the mix to make it taste like REAL chocolate. for things I serve at my house or that I know I will eat, I typically skip the use of bark and go straight to Dove or Ghiradelli or Hersheys.)

I let the chocolate cool slightly, then rolled 2 in crushed Heath Bar pieces. I topped another 2 with a store-bought jar of nestle's rocky road-flavored ice cream mix-ins. the last apple was topped with mini m&ms. (speaking of; does anyone know how I can buy those? I snagged a little snack-pack that my daughter had gotten in a goody bag from school, but couldn't find them anywhere in the store?)

Lastly, I drizzled just a little more chocolate on top of the whole mess and packaged them up to sell. When all was said and done, each apple weighed over a pound. now THAT'S my idea of health food!

LESSONS LEARNED: I'm not sure how they sold, and I know that while they were packaged nice enough, I think it was really hard to see them under all the plastic wrap. Given the state of hurried buying that happens in the hall after mass, I'm not sure potential buyers would get the full effect of their looks. I know, cause I'm one of the buys, and dealing with people in front of and behind me, and holding on to my daughter.. well.. it's more of a get-in-and-buy-and-get out mentality at the table. I don't really get to PERUSE the goods like I would elsewhere. so perhaps I'll try to find a better way to present them. a giant clear box would be good, I think.