Sunday, August 31, 2008

I need S' mores, please!


Corny but true.   I need S' mores !  'Cause these S' mores Bars were the BEST I've had yet!   I don't think I've eaten anything that I have liked more.   I got the recipe from The Crepes of Wrath.   I've made several recipes from her blog and they all have  been easy and so good!  ( I actually have another recipe of hers that I've made and need to tell you about.) She also posts step by step photos! 

For the most part I followed the recipe with just a few minor changes.    I added about a tablespoon more of the ground graham crackers.  When I measured out the 3/4 cups  of the ground graham crackers  I  found that I had a little more so I just added it.  I used a WHOLE jar of marshmallow cream.  The recipe called for 1 1/2 cups but I figured more is better.  I was RIGHT!  :-) The last change I made was instead of using two king size Hershey's chocolate bars I used 4 regular sized ones from out of a six pack.  They were cheaper and I had a two bars left over for next time.  And there will be a next time!  I might as well give up on losing those ten/twelve pounds I've gained! 

I thought it had cooled down completely but it was actually still a little warm when I cut into it.  Mmmm, mmm, mm!   I hate to say it but I kinda hoped the kids wouldn't care for them.  No the time I got home from work and football practice all but two scrawnier pieces were left! 


Please excuse my photos as the majority of my baking is done at night and since school has started back up there is no time for photos in the morning before work.  And after work it's off to football practice until it's dark.  Any suggestions on how to improve the quality of the photos if you're trying to shoot at night?  Settings, flash, equipment?  Help!

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Baked & Shipped

Operation Baking GALS round two...

As some of you may have heard a group of women mostly Food Bloggers are baking a little bit of "home" and shipping their goodies to soldiers stationed overseas. The 23rd of August was the start day of shipping to their selected soldiers. This is my first month participating and feel this is a very worthy cause. I won't go into the whys of it as I'm certain you don't need me to step up onto my soapbox. If you are interested in learning more about the GALS, please, click here. A few of the hostesses have been interviewed by their local papers and if you click here you can get to the various links.

The soldier I chose is named Joe and is stationed in Afghanistan, with the Air Guard. He is the nephew of Jayne at The Barefoot Kitchen Witch. The group of women baking for soldier Joe is called Team Barefoot and is headed up by Jayne.


This is past Sunday Babygirl and I read through several interesting recipes I printed out during the month and chose two we thought would not be a repeat for Joe. All of recipes were for bars as I figured Joe would get plenty of cookies. The two recipes Babygirl and I settled on were Brown & White Walnut Bars and Chocolate Caramel Brownies. The Brown & White Walnut Bars were my favorite out of the two and the Chocolate Caramel Brownies were Babygirl's. I'll be honest while both were good I'm not certain I would make either one again. I think they need some tweaking ( my new favorite word). Maybe one of you guys will give them a try, work your magic, post the improved recipe and THEN I can give them a second try. Please?! Ha-ha- ha! I will say this both recipes are very easy and use ingredients most already have in their pantry. Don't get me wrong they were good. The kids would have willingly eaten more had I let them but for me I knew I could find better.

DSC00208 DSC00213(2)

Besides baking the two bars Babygirl and I each wrote Joe a letter. Babygirl drew some illustrations on hers. I also included in the box a three pack of gum and individual packets of Gatorade mix. At lunch time on Monday I made my way up to a UPS store and had it shipped. The package would get to the first stop on it's journey to Joe on Wednesday. The gentleman at the UPS store said that it was somewhere in New Jersey. Once there it would find its way onto a military plane headed to Afghanistan. Hopefully a direct flight and not the scenic route. :-)


The best part of all this outside of the obvious is that Joe doesn't know he's getting these packages. He knows he's getting "a" package but is not aware that he has a dozen or more women baking up a storm, all for him and his buddies. I'm so looking forward to hearing about his reaction.

One last thing so many of you bake to try out different recipes, experiment, or just for the love of baking. I've heard many of you mention their weight and needing to lose a pound or two this is an ideal opportunity. It's a win-win situation. You get to bake, try out a recipe, have a taste, and then give it away to someone who would really appreciate it! Or maybe you even have some yummies hiding in your freezer? Whaddaya say?

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Devon's banana bread pudding ~ tweaked

Earlier in the week I happened to mention saving some  bread  for bread pudding.  Well Devon heard and for several days he waited for me to whip him up some.  Unfortunate for him  I  had strawberries aging in the fridge so he was out.  By Thursday he was willing to take matters into his own hands and make the bread pudding himself.  I went online (luv the Internet) and googled banana bread pudding recipes.    I found quite a few but needed to keep in mind that Devon was going to do the majority of the work.  I found this recipe at Recipezaar.  It seemed perfect for him.  We had  all the ingredients, the directions were simple, and it only made 1 to 2 servings.


This is picture isn't the best but I was lucky to get it as Devon was holding the pan in one hand and and a spoon in the other!

Banana Bread Pudding (Tweaked)  adapted from here

1 egg

1/8 cup sugar (I eyeballed it using a 1/4 cup measuring cup)

1 T of butter (then melted)

1 ripen banana

1/4 chocolate chips or chopped nuts (you chose, I added chopped pecans, next time I'll toast them)

2 slices slightly stale bread (I toasted 2 1/2 slices and cut off the crusts, next time I'll make it 3 slices)

* I added a dash of fresh grated nutmeg & a bigger dash of cinnamon

1.  In a small bowl beat the egg

2.  lightly toast bread

3.  add the sugar and melted butter to the egg, mix until smooth

4. add dashes of nutmeg and  cinnamon

5. remove toast and trim crust, set a side

6. add banana to mixture and mash, the batter will be lumpy

7.  tear toast into bit size pieces and add to batter, mixing well so that the toast is coated with the batter, toss in nuts or chips

8.  Pour into a small (6" is ideal) baking dish

9.  Bake in a 375 F preheat oven for 15 minutes.  (a toothpick should come out clean)

Devon and Babygirl who mooched some, really liked it but I thought it needed to be tweaked even more.  The amount of bread to banana was off.  It definitely needs a bit more bread.  The nuts should have been toasted and next time I will add bigger dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg.  I also thought it needed a bit more sugar, maybe a little brown?  I'm wondering if a splash of cream or milk would hurt?  I noticed in other recipes that they called for one or both.  Guys, I'm getting crazy here, changing things up....usually I'm straight by the book!  I'm evolving!  Yea, me! Oh, yes, you might have figured out by now but  I wound up making it though Devon did get everything out and ready for me.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Strawberries & the Internet = strawberry cupcakes

I love the Internet and I especially like Google. I love how I can at the touch of a few buttons get information about everything! I feel so powerful. I type in a few words and presto more information that I could possibly read let alone use. DSC00173

On Thursday evening I realized I had a pint of strawberries in the fridge that needed to be used. If I were to ask my children they would scream for strawberry shortcake again but I wanted something different. So off to my computer I went....googl-ing (is that a word?). Cupcakes still being the rage I decided to find one that I had all the ingredients for and did not involve an all day process. This is what I found (plus a lot of other yummy looking recipes for strawberries. I really need to try my hand at a strawberry tart) Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcakes and Sprinkles Strawberry Frosting. The only change I made was to fill them with a store bought lemon curd and Babygirl filled and drizzled hers and the Twins' with strawberry puree. YUM! I would definitely make this again!


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Friday, August 22, 2008

Peanut butter marshmallow bars

On Sunday while the kids and Joe were on the boat with my brothers I made them a treat...peanut butter marshmallow bars from Baking Blonde.   There were a couple more steps involved than normal but were still very easy to make, nothing to keep you from giving them a try.  If you are a peanut butter fan these bars are for you.  Everyone enjoyed them so much that I wasn't able to get a shot of one by itself! 


The next time I make these I will mix the peanut butter with melted chocolate instead of layering just straight peanut butter.  YUM!


Look at all the peanut butter cup goodness poking out among the yummy roasted marshmallows.  I love marshmallows!

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

School supplies

Here's a photo of the Twins' school supply mess.  AND we still have not gotten everything.  Some of the supplies were either sold out or Dad simply overlooked them.  You's like how they can't  find the milk though it's right there in the fridge behind the orange juice.  Oh, wait I digress...  This photo doesn't include Babygirl's supplies as she took hers to "meet the teacher" yesterday.  We're down a over $300 and we still have one more big ticket item, a scientific calculator to purchase which will put us way over the $400 mark.   This figure of course doesn't take into consideration school clothes for the three of them and the $90 (on sale) sneakers, Devon (Thank God!  Jalen just got 2 new ones for their birthday and Uncle Ryan also just bought them each a new pair for their belated birthday) needed for school.  Needless to say we're broke and I probably won't be baking much.  Either that or I'll have to start selling what I bake to the kids and my co-workers.  Wait scratch that the kids would just bum money off of me and my co-workers are broke too!  :-)


Self frosting nutella cupcakes.

Before Martha had cupcake week on her show I never knew what blogging was about let alone that there were food blogs out there.  How I came upon it all was through Martha's site.  I saw the clip on Bakerella and  her cupcake pops, googled Bakerella, found a link to her and the rest is history!  Okay this is the part that ties in with the self frosting nutella cupcakes.  After being amazed by Bakerella and her blog I started finding other food blogs. On many of those blogs were posts featuring Donna Hay's self frosting nutella cupcakes.  I have to admit it was the "self frosting" part that intrigued me. 


These were so easy I messed them up!  The good news was that even though I messed them up the kids and their friend still ate them!  The recipe I used was from Baking Bites.  I should make it clear that it was not the recipe but me that messed up.  The recipe called for the cupcakes to bake at 325 degrees for 2o minutes.  Well my oven temp is (lower) off somewhere between 10 to 15 degrees which means I have to set my oven temp higher.  I set it at 345. DUH, it should have been 335 at the most 340!  So, of course,  I over cooked them.  They were dry and quite dense.  Now the self frosting part of the cupcake was OUT OF THIS WORLD!   I can only imagine how good these are when they are not overcooked.  I'm also wondering in what else can I put nutella.


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Look what came in the mail!








I got two new cookbooks today.  I have another one coming, Luscious Creamy Desserts . It should be here Monday, YAY!  I have a confession to make...I'm addicted to books and to a lesser extent magazines.  Ok, I'm actually addicted to reading.  I LOVE to read....anything & everything which is not helpful to my blog as I wind up reading OTHER blogs and not baking or posting on my own!  I will be honest though I am voracious reader I generally read "light" fiction.  I have three very active children and I need to be able to pick up and put down the book with ease.  To the distress of my children I have upon occasion gotten a little too involved in my book.  Usually that means dinner will not be served on time and probably was not cooked by me!  Forget about the laundry!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oreos, chocolate, & cream cheese...can we say brownies?


Unlike a lot of folks I'm not a chocolate fan and I don't care for oreos.  I'm a vanilla girl and the only time I eat oreos is when they are used inside of something else but when I saw the picture of this brownie on Sugar Plum  I just had to try it.  The fact that it had cream cheese settled it for me.   As usual I didn't make any changes.  Have mentioned that I'm a scaredy cat baker?  I'm afraid to change anything in a recipe for fear that it won't turn out.  


I did as the recipe suggested and took them out at 25 minutes.  I don't know if the brownies were supposed be fudgey or the cakey kind but mine leaned to the cakey side.  I do have to tell you that the cream cheese mixture for these brownies was OUSTANDING!  Babygirl licked the beaters clean and I went for the bowl.  The best part is there wasn't any eggs in it, so lick away!  (that didn't sound right) I'm memorizing the recipe for that part of the brownies as I'm sure it would taste great in all kinds of other baked goods that call for cream cheese or cheesecake flavor.


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Monday, August 11, 2008

Some baseball.

Devon's team was one of 24 teams from across the nation that qualified for USSSA's  12:U Elite 24 tournament held out at Disney's Wide World of Sports.  I know everyone knows about the Little League World Series and I'm not taking anything away from those boys but what most don't realize is that there are other more competitive leagues out there.  This is one of those leagues. 

I took a week's vacation to tote Devon back and forth to his games which were held at the Wide World of Sports.  Unfortunately, we only won 2 and lost 3.  Our losses were not pretty!  One consolation is while we didn't win   in pool play we did beat the team  that the whole thing 15 to 5.   This was our last tournament for the season and now it's on to football for Devon and come September/October just a little baseball on Sundays.

Congratulation to the Norwalk Stingrays, Elite 24's 12:U Champions!

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A box of goodies & a thank you!

Hi, Julia!  I got it!  Thank you so much .  I LOVED everything!


Sunday, August 10, 2008

I'm one of the GALS!

Check it out I'm one of the GALS...

Susan of She's Becoming DoughMessTic  started this terrific campaign to bake goodies for soldiers overseas.  This is such a worthy cause.  I'm so excited to be participating.  Please follow this link to learn all about it!  Give it some serious thought as it is not  any more work than you do to bake, photograph, and post on your blogs .... you'll get even more satisfaction.

And I quote "These are sick!"

That's what one of frieDSC00121nds of the Twins said after tasting one of the movie munch bars .  He also said they were better than rice krispie treats.    They were very good though I'm not sure they were better than rice krispie treats.  I love me some melted marshmallows!  Bet those would taste yummy melted in these bars, too!  You can find the recipe from thecrepesofwrath here.  The only change I made was I used fruity cheerios and I called these movie munch bars.

       My leaning tower of munch!                    DSC00125                                                 


     Before becoming munch bars.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Disappearing marshmallow blondies

  DSC00072  I'm not an expert but I do think these photos came out so much better than my previous ones.  (Tell me if I'm wrong and what I can do better.)  I followed some advice given at various blogs....I took these early in the morning (natural light) and I turned off my flash.  I used the macro setting and (I think) I had it set so that the background seemed  out of focus.   How out of focus is it supposed to be?  I'll have work on that some more.  I also took a lot more photos and from different angles to increase the likelihood of getting a better shot.  Thanks to those of you that have taken the time to post helpful info for those of us starting out and a special thank you for the ones that have left encouraging comments!

Now on to the mystery of the disappearing marshmallows....I foDSC00074und this recipe at The Crepes of Wrath and followed the link to here.  I made the recipe that was posted on Baked Perfection.  I didn't change anything but will the next time.  The blondies were good but in my opinion too chocolaty.  They tasted a lot like chocolate chip cookie bars which is not a bad thing but not what I wanted.  Next time I'll cut back on the chocolate chips or perhaps use half  bittersweet and semisweet chips and maybe a few more  'mallows.  Despite the fact they weren't quite what I was hoping for the kids, my nephew, brother, and sitter all enjoyed them and in fact the sitter ate a row!  (She's a chocolate fiend!)  


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lemon bars and a fight

lemon bars Okay in my previous post  I mentioned Babygirl and her love of "helping"  Mama in the kitchen.  What I didn't mention was that the Twins also enjoy helping Mom.  On Tuesday I told Babygirl that we could make a recipe from her cookbook, William Sonoma's Sweet Treats.  She decided on lemon bars.  (I tried to sway her over to another lemon dessert that I saw over at Butter Sugar Flour but she wanted to use her cookbook so lemon bars it would be for Wednesday.)  The biggest reason for agreeing to bake with her was to get her to CLEAN her room.  She's not what you would call neat.

It's 4:30, Wednesday afternoon  and Babygirl hasn't made a dent in cleaning her room.  By this time she's done her best to avoid cleaning it which means I'm making lemon bars by myself.  Upon hearing that Mom doesn't have a helper, Devon pipes up that he would help me.  Okay.  At this time McKenna's madly cleaning  but as soon as she realizes that Devon's  in the kitchen  with me she goes crazy and grabs her cookbook and tries to hide it.  I'm trying to calmly explain (and get back the cookbook) that she needs to finish her room and that when she does she can help too.  Devon of course is trying to wrestle it away from her.  Which leads to Jalen running over from his room, screaming he wants to help me.  Now I have THREE kids arguing and fighting over a cookbook and who's going to be the one to help.  McKenna is screaming it's her cookbook and she doesn't want to share.  Devon saylemon bar forks he just wants to help and Jalen is hollering that he never gets to help and that I love the other two better.  After about a half hour, the lemon bars are being made with Devon and McKenna(grudgingly), Jalen's feeling loved again (he'll be in the kitchen with me tomorrow) and I'm exhausted.  

The lemon bars were excellent and were so easy to make(once the fighting stopped)!  I loved the crust. It was buttery and not too sweet.  (I believe it's considered a shortbread.)  The filling was not overly sweet and had just a hint of tartness.  (Next time more lemon zest!)  The kids LOVED the bars.  They each had two and Devon was angling for a third!  Ya, got me!  I had two! 

lemon bars 2

By the way Babygirl's still cleaning her room!

Babygirl's midday snack

McKenna AKA Babygirl is my youngest  and she is often my little sous chef.  I'm sure many of you may have had a parent tell you they "hope you have one like you".  Well, I did...McKenna.  She's a sweetie and I appreciate her help except that she doesn't want to help!  She wants to take over, she hurries through steps to keep me from doing anything she wants to do herself.  We've barely avoided many a mishap and often we've ended up cross wDSC00097ith each other.  Fortunately by the time whatever we've baked is done we're ready to spilt a large glass of  milk and pat each other on the back...everything all forgotten. 

Babygirl made the snack and took the photos all by herself.  Check out her garnish of baby mint leaves. DSC00093

Friday, August 1, 2008

Much Respect

Okay, for the few of you who may stop and take a look I have MUCH RESPECT for you, the food blogger! I can't say enough how impressed I am by your baking/cooking creations, your witty prose, gorgeous photos, and limitless patience to post them. There is so much that goes into food blogging. The people who are just "readers" have no idea! On top of it it is no small task to post your photos. To say that it is frustrating is an understatement.

You may (or may not) have noticed my July 26th post actually posted after the July 31st post. That was because I tried for days to get my photos added to it and in the spots I wanted.

Thank you! Thank you, Julia! I used the link she gave me and downloaded Windows Live Writer. What a difference. I know I still have a lot to learn but at least I'm no longer thinking about quitting.