Apple Crumble Pies

Posted in Uncategorized on April 28, 2012 by adarkenedalley

I will start out by saying that I don’t like apple pie. The texture is weird and I say why waste a pie by putting apples in it?

But at my house we are the kind of people who buy apples and then never remember to eat them. So we currently have a bowl of soft apples sitting on the counter. So I challenged myself to make something with apples this week even though I’m not fond of baked apples.

The recipe was incredibly long to type. Okay, maybe I’m just lazy. So I’ve taken screen shots of the pages. They are here:

Boy was I ever proved wrong. This recipe is delicious hot or cold. We gobbled them up within two days. It comes from the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. Which is one of my favorite cookbooks of all time. I mean it. Everything in it (that I have made) is delicious.

The writing in the pictures is a little small. If you can’t read it, the book is also available in Google Books. It’s on page 46.

I’m feeling a little guilty for posting someones published work here.

Some notes about the recipe:

-This recipe made 18 pies for me. Maybe I rolled the dough out thinner than they wanted, but the pies turned out perfect.

-You can store these in an airtight container. They are delicious the next day or even the next.

-I had to strain the apples because the liquid didn’t cook out. Just use a slotted spoon when you scoop them out of the pan.

-I didn’t use fresh lemon. It didn’t seem to matter.

-You can remove the pies from the pans very easily about ten minutes after they come out. Eat immediately. Just so you know what they taste like when they are warm. Delicious.

-The crust needed more water to come together than the recipe implied. Like twice as much.

-I used soft apples, but firm apples would be the same. And I didn’t use the called for types, I used what I had on hand.  I don’t even know what type they were.

I love this recipe and I would definitely make it again. In fact, I am. Twice in one week. It must be good.

Cheesy Focaccia Bread

Posted in Uncategorized on April 21, 2012 by adarkenedalley

I fell in love. With a bread. Don’t worry, this bread is worth it.

It looks like that because we ate it too fast to get a full picture.

On my search for great breads I came across this recipe on TastyKitchen. It is not like any focaccia bread I’ve ever tasted, but it is still an amazing bread all on its own. Here is the recipe:

  • 2-¾ cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Instant Yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Dry Thyme
  • ½ teaspoons Dry Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Dry Basil
  • 1 pinch Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
  • 1 cup Hot Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese (topping)
  • 1-½ cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (topping)

“Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir in 1 Tbsp oil and water. (It already smells heavenly, doesn’t it?) Knead a few times till smooth. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.

Pat dough 1/2″ thick on a greased cookie sheet. Brush with remaining tablespoon of olive oil (I just use my hand, but if you have an aversion to touching oil, feel free to use a pastry brush.) Sprinkle with cheeses.

Bake at 425 F for about 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Try not to eat the entire batch by yourself (not that I have ever done that of course, just speaking hypothetically.)”

It was posted by craftymom.

Here are the changes I made:

-Add more herbs. I love a good herb flavor.

-I used mozzarella and cheddar. And I put a lot of cheese on it. A lot.

-My dough rolled out a lot more to reach the thickness she described. It was the size of a full jelly roll pan. The bigger the better, right?

- I added Johnny’s Garlic Spread seasoning on top of the cheese before I baked it. Amazing. I put that stuff on everything.

Seriously This bread is amazing. We ate it really fast. Faster than three people should have been able to. It’s delicious. And now we make it frequently. Delicious.

Here is the link to the recipe: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/breads/cheesy-focaccia-bread/

I love it.

Nail Polish

Posted in Uncategorized on April 6, 2012 by adarkenedalley

Little known fact: I love nail polish and I own a lot of it.

When I was a little girl and my sister lived far away she sent me the best birthday present: A Pretty Feet Pedicure Kit. It came in a pink bag with a terribly drawn picture of a foot. It was filled with nail polish and decorations and foot scrubs and lotion and those terrible toe separator things. It was amazing. What can I say; she’s a great sister. It came with most of these little bottles:

Over the years my collection has grown. It moved from a bag to a storage bin (I cut out the picture of the foot and glued it to the lid). I’ve had to throw a lot of it away from slumber parties run amok (always insure that lids are closed before put the bottles in the bin). But still I have enough to keep me satisfied.

So why are you hearing about this now? Because for once in my life I don’t have a job that requires me to have clean fingers. I’ve always worked in the food industry and they are fairly strict about nail polish. Plus, painting my nails keeps me from biting them.

I paint my nails at least once a week. Sometimes twice. But only my fingernails, I keep my toenails red. I repaint them when they grow out, but always in red. It keeps my feet happy. Here are me shades of red:

Slightly blurry. The one on the left is my favorite. They stopped selling it at my favorite store so I bought several bottles in the clearance sale. It is the best red. Nice and bloody. It’s very pretty.

When it comes to my fingernails I have more options though. Here are some:

Lately I’ve mostly been using the greens. It’s important to have a lot of greens because they are so happy.

Stacy also introduced me to these:

They are nail art brushes. I am not very good at using them, but when I can I add lines using them. Stacy is amazing at drawing with them. I am not. But they are a lot of fun.

This week my nails looked like this:

Ignore my ugly hands. This was a fun color although it is hard to tell in the pictures. I painted my nails black and then painted poison green over the top. Awesome effect. I loved it.

Today I painted them mermaid blue.

My Sister Had a Baby!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 2, 2012 by adarkenedalley

Heather and Steve had a beautiful baby boy. They named him Michael Bradford Flynn. He is 7lbs and 13 oz and is 20 inches long.

The Best Cookies Ever

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2012 by adarkenedalley

My family has a family recipe book, made by my sister, that contains the favorite meals of the Smith family and our inherited family recipes. This is the recipe for the best cookies ever. No one in my family remembers where it came from; most likely it was the back of a bag of chocolate chips. Anywho…

I say these are the best cookies because 1) they taste awesome and 2) I can’t technically call them chocolate chip cookies because you can make them with any mix-in you want. Today I made them with dried cherries and white chocolate chips. I usually make them with just chocolate chips, but I already have a couple dozen of those in the freezer.

Here is the recipe:

2 eggs

1 cup butter

1 Tablespoon (or thereabouts) vanilla

1 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups flour

12 oz chocolate chips (or other mix-in)

First: Cream together the eggs, butter, and vanilla.

Second: Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. If you like, you can mix the dry separately and mix it in, but I usually just put all of it in, mixing between each ingredient.

Third: Drop on a greased cookie sheet (I roll mine into small balls) and bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Mine usually finish closer to the twelve minute mark, so watch carefully. You want them slightly brown on the edges and a little gooey in the middle. They continue cooking on the sheet after you took them out. Once you see brown, pull them out.

That’s it. That’s all.

You let them cool a couple minutes on the tray and then pull them off to cool on racks or newspaper or paper towels or whatever you use. Or you eat them straightaway because they are best when they are warm.

The recipe makes about 6 dozen I think. I get a different amount each time.

If you are like me and don’t believe that eating 6 dozen cookies in a sitting (and trust me, you will eat as many as you cook) is the best choice, they freeze really well. I simply roll the dough into balls and pack as many on a baking tray as I can manage without them touching. Then I put it in the freezer for fast freezing.

Once they are frozen, I put them in freezer bags (labelled because everything should be labelled) and put them away for a rainy day. Or for occasions where I simply do not have enough time to make a dessert. I usually have a few dozen in my freezer at any time. Right now there are about 10 dozen. Yum.

Tip: I like to cut up my fruit before I put it into the cookies so you don’t end up with a cookie that is all cherry or have the fruit escaping entirely during the cooking process.

And I only ate three cookies while writing the post. Maybe four.

Beware the Ides of March!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17, 2012 by adarkenedalley

This year the Middle School I volunteer with is performing Julius Caesar (We do a Shakespeare play every year). Yesterday was the Ides of March (March 15) which is the day of the assassination of Julius Caesar. As such, we decided to make the students truly “Beware the Ides of March”  by taking away their scripts for the first time. Yea, I’m evil.

We (the codirectors) decided to bake them a little surprise for the occasion to soften the blow.

I started by borrowing a sheet cake pan from my sister. I made two sheet cakes from white cake mixes. The bottom layer was two cakes; the top layer was 1.5 because I saw how thick the bottom was and panicked. We put sterilized non-galvinized nails standing on their heads into the pan so the cake would cook more evenly.

Then I invited over my dear friends Haley and Grace for the decorating.

We started by whipping up some easy perfect buttercream frosting. Grace was a frosting pro, so we let her work the magic using TastyKitchen’s Perfect Buttercream posted by i am baker. You can find the recipe here: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/desserts/perfect-buttercream/ I used a tablespoon of vanilla instead of a teaspoon. The recipe is easy and delicious. We needed it as white as possible, so I didn’t bother coloring or flavoring it. Vanilla is still the best flavor there is. And it is the color of a toga (hint hint).

Once the frosting was mixed, we made a dam on the edge of the bottom layer so the filling would not run out of the cake. Then we filled the cake with raspberry filling bought at a supply story. Raspberry looks the most like blood.

Then we very carefully put the top layer on. This was my first time doing a filled layer cake, so i was nervous. But it worked really well.

We did a rough frosting job, let it harden and then did a nice thick layer of the white buttercream on top. Then we needed to decorate, but we wanted a little practice, so I gave Grace and Haley some cupcakes and let them practice.

Have you guessed what the cake looks like yet?

So after we did the clean, pretty top frosting we took red decorating gel and wrote “Beware the Ides of March”. In a very creepy font, I assure you. Then we each took up a knife and we stabbed the heck out of the cake.

The very best way to get the stabs to look bloody is to rub the knife in raspberry filling before you stab into the fake body. Do you get it? It’s Julius! We killed him!  Here’s the finished product:

That is how you make a Ides of March cake. If you are a Shakespeare nerd.

The kids loved it and we had a ton of fun. The press even showed up to our practice.

Plain White Bread

Posted in Uncategorized on March 15, 2012 by adarkenedalley

One of my goals this break was to learn to bake bread. Beautiful delicious bread. I started out with a safe recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook. It was called Cheesy Casserole Bread and it was delicious enough that I made a second loaf right away. IT did take five hours to rise though because my yeast was weak.

While I was despairing that my first bread would never rise, I set about making my second bread: Cheesy Focaccia bread from Tasty Kitchen (http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/breads/cheesy-focaccia-bread/). It was amazing, but much much bigger than advertised. We still ate the whole thing in one dinner though.

But this post is about plain white bread. The kind you cook in loafs pans and serve with jam. My mom saves the water from boiling potatos and this week she told me she was saving it to make bread. Did you know white bread uses potato water?  Did you know you were supposed to save potato water?

Today I looked up potato water in Bread Baking Made Easy by Dora D. FLack. I used her recipe for Basic White Bread.  My mom’s copy of the book is even signed by the author, so I figured it was a good bread to start with. I don’t think that you are supposed to post recipes from books online, especially if the author is still alive so I won’t post the recipe. I will tell you some things I learned today though:

  • PAM brand baking spray with flour is basically a miracle.
  • You have to shape bread into a loaf shape for them to be pretty, the pan can’t do all the work.
  • Recipe books don’t have easy to find copyright dates.
  • New yeast is better than old yeast.
  • Potato water in your bread makes your bread taste excellent.

I also made two cakes and 12 cupcakes today, but that is another story.

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