Saturday, September 28, 2013

Halloween mystery number three

It's that time of year again. Time for the third annual "here's a picture of some fabric, guess what I'm going to be for Halloween" shindig. The first year my sister-in-law guessed that I was going to be Marie Antoinette right away and last year my best friend guessed Snow White correctly, but only after seeing all the fabric together (cheating! ;)). This year? Any guesses? I'll give you a hint, it's not something scary. Or Dolores Umbridge. Although that would be a fantastic costume.

I am incredibly stoked to make this costume. This fabric you guys. I've got tulle, chiffon, shantung, and taffeta happening here. I mean, a kid at Christmas or what? Picking these fabrics out was so much fun. I love picking out fabric. Can I do that for a living? And I have been waiting my whole life for an excuse to use taffeta. It's just not practical for normal clothing, but a costume? Heck yeah. I am in love with the way the light hits it and this dusty rose color is perfection. I paid out the nose for it, but gosh it's so pretty.

I'm winging it big time with this baby. I have a pattern but I am altering it, a lot. I guessed my way through the fabric lengths and am planning on drafting my own pattern pieces for some of it. The pattern will be a good starting point, but I plan on my costume looking quite different. Or I hope so at least. Wish me luck you guys. This fabric is real pretty and I'd hate to ruin it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 39 - salted caramel dark chocolate chip cookies

Long enough name for ya? These cookies you guys. They are as insane as they sound. Salted caramel dark chocolate chip cookies. I mean, that's a hell of a cookie. I am becoming more and more obsessed with Sally's Baking Addiction, and girlfriend knows how to come up with some delicious goodies. Her recipe for these babies here. These cookies are very very good. SO rich. I mean, there's a freaking rolo baked inside. A rolo! You cannot lose.

Can we stop for a moment and just talk about how fantastic the lighting in my kitchen was for the first half of these photos? Good light makes a world of difference. Forgive the second, they were taken in artificial light after the sun went down because these cookies had to chill for two dang hours!

A MELTED ROLO INSIDE. Oh man, it's good. And the sea salt on these is perfect. I'm so glad someone decided to start adding crunchy sea salt to sweet things. The cookie itself is delicious, worth trying on it's own sans caramel if you're feeling something a little simpler. And speaking of simplicity, next time I think I'd opt for just caramels inside instead of rolos. Don't get me wrong, the rolo inside is brilliant, it's just along with caramel and dark chocolate chips, it adds milk chocolate into the mix. There's already so much going on in these things, and all of it good, I just would maybe simplify it a tad by losing the milk chocolate. These are perfect cookies to make if you are say, having a really rough day. Or week. Or month. Or if your life is completely perfect, make them anyway.

This was my fortieth week of baking. How insane is that? FORTY weeks have already gone by. Only twelve left in the year. Only twelve more baked goodies left. It's a little sad, seeing the end approaching. It's become such a nice and welcome part of my life, and I'm pretty proud of my little project. I'll need to think up a new one for next year! 52 weeks of... who knows!
EDIT: I couldn't believe it was the 40th week of the year, so I googled it. Turns out it's the 39th. I somehow misnumbered my weeks and missed 28. All is adjusted now, everything is numbered correctly. Forgive me, I am terrible with numbers. Just copy past that last paragraph onto next week's post with your mind, okay?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Welcome, Fall!

Happy fall! It's officially here, my favorite time of the year! And I love that the weather has cooperated accordingly. On the first day of fall, and the day after, it felt like FALL. It was COOL outside. And isn't there something just magical about fall air? I swear it looked and smelled different than it did a week ago. The sky was that most terrific shade of blue that seems to only appear with cooler temperatures. I love it. I spent two cool afternoons sewing in front of a breezy open window and it was divine. Aside from the allergy attack that ensued. And I made a pot of butternut squash soup (because fall means soup!) and am ready to get down with some hearty fall flavors in the kitchen!

I am also very ready for the string of wonderful holidays that are soon to begin. In just a week it will be socially acceptable to start picking out pumpkins, spookifying our little home, and of course watching my favorite Halloween movies. And time to scheme Halloween costumes! Neither Brendon or I have any idea what we're going to be, which is weird because we usually have that figured out months in advance. Slackin'.

Thanks for showing up in all your splendid glory, fall. I love you and have been waiting all year for you to arrive, please be good to us. September has been a wild month so October, you're welcome to be slightly calmer. Also cooler please.

AND, this has nothing to do with anything, but the most popular post on my blog by far is this post on Brendon's lederhosen. Random eh? Year round it gets exponentially more views than any other post (when you Google "lederhosen" Brendon's picture is on the first page), and lately, it has been blowing up. Oktoberfest, y'all. Folks are trying to get their Bavarian on. My first and second dirndls are getting some love too, though not nearly as much as Brendon looking cute in his lederhosen. I have yet to decide on whether I should make a third dirndl this year. I haven't even planned my Halloween costume and there's a dress pattern and fabric from this spring sitting on my sewing table that I haven't touched. I'm a bit behind on my sewing game I guess. So anyways, if you are here at my little niche of the internet because of Brendon in his lederhosen, thanks for stopping by. Sorry it's all food. Here's German Brendon, just for fun, because it's what the internet wants.

Friday, September 20, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 38 - lemon cupcakes

I wanted to send summer off properly with a summery baked goodie as the official first day of fall is Sunday(!).  And what's more summery than lemon? And cupcakes? And thus, lemon cupcakes were born in my kitchen. And you guys. These are the best cupcakes I've ever made. I used this recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction. The last time I used a recipe from that site was for oatmeal cream pie cookies, which were the best cookies I think I've ever made. So it must be noted that homegirl is legit.

These cupcakes though. So good. The cake is buttery, lemony, and the sweet whipped icing compliments it perfectly. Brendon and I usually share these with coworkers/classmates, but this time, we decided to keep them all. No sharing these babies.

Ironically, as the first day of fall approaches, it's starting to feel like fall! Our first "cold" front is rolling in as I type. The high is only like 89 this next week. WOOHOO. I know I'm ready. I've got new wool skirts and sweaters, begging to be worn. And get ready for cinnamon and pumpkin y'all!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 37 - donuts

This week I didn't have much time to brainstorm ideas for baking, so I took it to the old Facebook, and the response was unanimously DONUTS. And if you know me even a little, you know I love me some donuts. So donuts it was! I used this recipe from a Beautiful Mess, although I'd make some changes next round. More on this later.

I didn't have a donut cutter, so I used a glass and bottle cap for the hole. Worked pretty well!

So the only way this really slides as a baked goodie, is because the dough rose in a warm oven. That's what I'm telling myself anyway because of course, these babies were fried. I haven't fried anything in years, so busting out that giant pot of oil was a little scary. But success!

The icing was my biggest issue with this recipe. It's just a basic sugar icing with fresh raspberry juice for coloring. It's delicious, but if you look at their version, mine looks nothing like it. Not sure if their raspberries were especially... pink? or if they added a little food coloring, but this is what my icing first came out like, just a natural peachy shade:

So I added a few drops of red food coloring, and viola! Pretty pink icing!

However, my other qualm with this icing was that it was so thin it glazed the donuts more than iced them. I think I'd do less milk and corn syrup next time, so it's a little less runny. Or maybe it just needed to cool a bit more to thicken up. Who knows, but they're seriously delicious anyway, pink or not. Plus there's sprinkles, and you can't beat sprinkles.

These babies are really really good. Insane while they are still warm and crispy. And the recipe makes SO MANY. The only thing I'd change to the actual donut itself, would be to add a tad bit more sugar to the dough. I just wish they were just a teensy bit sweeter. But they're awesome and I'm pretty proud of my first donuts!

And here's me with some donut eyes:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pimento cheesin'

Fairly recently I have gone from eating meat occasionally to full on vegetarian, all day everyday. Not sure how long this will last but I'm liking it and the way I feel and have no plans on relapsing into the meat world. Every now and then I have an intense craving for bacon (or today, prosciutto), but for the most part I don't miss meat in my diet.

However, I am having to get creative with meals, specifically lunch. Ironically, lately I've been craving sandwiches. I've never been a huge fan of sandwiches, but veggie sandwiches are my jam (was that a food pun?). While we were in Ruidoso I had two truly fantastic pimento cheese sandwiches and wanted to make that magic happen at home. This was my first attempt at pimento cheese and it's pretty dang good!

I used this recipe and am fairly satisfied with it. It's definitely not the deliciousness that I had in New Mexico, but it's good. It has a bit too much of a mayo flavor and not quite enough pimento for me. I will continue to experiment. But this is great as a sandwich filler and great as dip. And it makes quite a bit and it keeps for a while. Perfect to have on hand if you're a lazy constantly hungry snacker like me.

Also, check out this Pyrex we found the other day!

We haven't been on the Pyrex game as much as we used to, mostly because I have accumulated an INSANE amount of Pyrex, but we hit up our usual spots the other day for the first time in a while and hit the motherlode. This stuff is in great condition and the bottom two lighter ones with the gold (!) designs are patterns I've never seen before. Also, LIDS? So rare to find stuff with lids. But seriously, I have way too much Pyrex. In fact I have a few doubles of some things, including that brown baby up there. Anyone in Austin want some Pyrex? There's absolutely no reason for me to have more than one of the same dish... right?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 36 - flourless chocolate cake

Well, we're back to normal folks. Back to me basically just posting food. But it's dessert, y'all, and dessert is good. I promise I'll do something exciting outside of the kitchen soon. Maybe.

This week's baked adventure was a flourless chocolate espresso cake, from my girl Martha. Because I'm on a chocolate binge (isn't that my whole life?) and this recipe called out to me from an issue of Martha Stewart Living while I was melting into my couch.

Definitely had a Charlie Bucket moment opening up this bar of chocolate. No golden ticket for me however.

Chocolate concrete. I was worried I wouldn't be able to pull my beaters out of this nonsense. It was thick.

This cake is everything you'd expect it to be. Deliciously chocolatey with the perfect hint of espresso. The top has the sweetest little crunch and the inside is soft and fluffy. The recipe calls for a chocolate glaze, but even I felt that it might be TOO much chocolate (also, I am lazy), so I did without. I think freshly whipped cream would be absolutely perfect, and intend on whipping some up for my next slice. It is great by itself, but it definitely needs something... wet. Ha.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 35 - salted caramel brownies

Baking was shoved to Sunday this week. As previously mentioned, this week has been a tad rough for various reasons. Busy busy busy, so Sunday baking it was. And because rough weeks need chocolate, brownies were needed. And not just plain brownies, but salted caramel brownies. Thank you Deb.

This was my first time making caramels from scratch, and it turns out it's very easy, as long as you don't do it immediately after rolling out of bed. Let's chat about how it took me three batches of caramels to get it straight. The first batch I melted my spatula into, the second I forgot to salt, and the third was successful. So I'm down a spatula and I've got a plate full of unsalted caramels in my fridge. But I've also got delicious salted caramel brownies.

These are dangerously dark and gooey. These will probably fall apart as you eat them, but it's worth it. The caramel is perfectly salted and it's melty and chewy in the right proportions. Caramel and chocolate... enough said. I've eaten... a few. Needless to say, they're very good. Wonderful way to wrap up your week. Every week should end in brownies. We'll see if they make it until tomorrow.