Friday, September 30, 2011

PW Lasagna

This is yet another recipe that suffers from "MQS". I decided early on to divide it into 2 lasagnas, partly because I started with slightly more beef than the recipe calls for, and partly to make the portions smaller and more calorie-conscious (for lasagna, really). I've made lasagna many times before, I've never really used a recipe. But I'll give hers a go!

Here she is, my trusty smallish stockpot. How many times have I been in this situation? LOL! I used a ton of ground beef AND sausage (new to lasagna for me). And then 2 HUGE cans of tomatoes. And paste. Who wants to bet how much of this will wind up on the stovetop when I'm stirring it together?

Not too shabby. Now it has to cook for a while.

Here we go, got everything all set out for assembly. Meat/tomato mixture, lasagna noodles, egg/cheese mixture, and shredded cheese. No, I didn't shred my own this time. Forgive me, PW. With 2's going straight into the freezer.

Here they are assembled.

And the one I baked. Mmmmmm, meaty!

I meant to get a pic of it cut up so you could see the layers, but I completely forgot. Oops! This was really good, even with all the meat in it. Nice!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Make your own....Pumpkin Spice Syrup!!

Okay. Yall.
This is gonna change your life :)

Anyone addicted to Pumpkin Spice Latte's? (those of us who are refer to them as PSL's. we're hip like that.)

Who's addicted to paying $4.50 for a small PSL? Not me!

Often times if I get a little free time it is usually spent perusing the internets for recipes. I love me some Google! On a whim I googled "Pumpkin spice syrup recipes". I only came across a couple, and they seemed endlessly complicated. So many ingredients! Tiny bit of this, tiny bit of that. I thought, surely there's an easier way! Also, turns out, the PSL syrup uses pumpkin "flavoring", not actual pumpkin. And they don't sell it, so no chance for direct comparison. I figured, I could get pretty close to the real thing, no?

Here we go: This only requires 4 ingredients: Water, sugar, canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix), and pumpkin pie spice. Well, maybe that's 3, some people don't really count water as an ingredient. Most of yall probably have you some canned pumpkin laying around by now, right?

Start with making a simple syrup. (All that is, is, equal parts of water and sugar boiled into a syrup.) For this recipe, I combined 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk it together as it warms up and completely dissolves. It will become clear.

Time to add the rest: 1/4 cup canned pumpkin and 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.
Whisk it into the syrup and bring it juuuust to a boil, still over medium heat. You just want little bubbles, not a huge rolling boil. Let it boil for a minute or so, then turn off the heat and leave it be. Let it cool down a little. (Taste testing at this point is completely acceptable.)

The next few pics give you a couple options what to do next. You need to strain it, to get the solids and granules out. I didn't have any cheesecloth on me at the time, so I just used a fine-mesh sieve. It left some "stuff" in there, but it didn't really bother me.

Here you can see what got left behind.

Into the bottle and into the fridge she went. So far, tasting pretty dang outstanding.

The next morning, you can see how it separated a little. I just gave it a quick shake and used it in my coffee. I added about 1 ounce (2 Tablespoons) and a splash of half/half. (or you can use milk). No extra sugar needed unless you take your coffee extra sweet! I feel like it dissolved nicely.

Here's a better view of what didn't fit in my bottle.

Through the day, though, I started wondering if it would keep longer if I got ALL the (pumpkin) solids out of it. Worth a shot right? So I grabbed some cheesecloth while I was out. I consider this step OPTIONAL. If a little bit of the stuff in there doesn't bother you, or you just can't wait until you have a chance to pick up some cheesecloth, then just use a sieve. Also, if you do do this step, do it right away. I imagine warmish syrup will filter through a looooooot sooner than cold syrup.

I grabbed the bottle out of the fridge and poured it through here.

It is a painstakingly long process. I suggest leaving the kitchen and finding something else to do or you will go bonkers.

If you notice it's not dripping anymore, grab a spatula and gently scrape the bottom to move the solids to the sides. Here's what's left when it's done: a brown, albeit good smelling, mass of goop.

The result: much prettier amber colored pumpkin spice syrup.

I've used it too ways so far...adding some to my regular coffee, and making a latte...since I don't use espresso at home, I just made my coffee double strength (cut the water in half) and add that much amount of heated milk to the coffee and syrup. I do have a handy dandy milk frother to froth it up after adding all that, and it was FAB-U-LOUS!!!! Just add slowly until you figure out how much you can't un-add it!

I imagine this would be good on pancakes as well. It looks like I'll be making a batch a week at this point! The whole process of making the syrup (minus the straining) took no time at all....I threw it on the stove while I was making dinner. If you did that, and had it strained before you go to bed, you can wake up to a PSL in the am!

(Note: I am all about sharing the love.....feel free to send this to anyone or post anywhere you like....please just link back here!)

Which syrup should we try to make at home next????

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Cupcakes for the husbands work...These are chocolate cupcakes with caramel filling and vanilla buttercream with a salted caramel drizzle. Actually, the drizzle is caramel and they have sea salt sprinkled on top. If you've never had anything that falls into the "salted caramel" category, go find some now. Run, don't walk!

Here they are after the toppers I made.....these are sayings they have at work I gather.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Root Beer Float Cupcakes!

Since today is the official "First Day of Fall", and therefore summer is officially over (booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo) I wanted to get these I made earlier in the summer up here to remind us all just how awesome summer is. Root Beer Float Cupcakes!

Root Beer/Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla cream filling and Triple-Vanilla Buttercream frosting.

These were really good, despite not being able to taste the root beer in the cupcake much!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

14th Birthday Pink Zebra Cake

Remember my neighbor that I made this cake for last year? Well, they moved a few months ago, far far away :( BUT, they were in town for her daughter to see Taylor Swift for her birthday, and she asked me to make her a surprise cake for her 14th! YAY! I love surprises! This was a 4 layer vanilla cake with 2 layers of vanilla buttercream and raspberry filling in the middle. Apparently it was a hit!! I even have 2 more orders for more girly cakes ***yay*** that came out of it....and they want the same filling. I guess I have a new top seller! I admit, it is pretty darn good.

I also just have to say...I LOVE the look of multiple shades of the same color. It's modern without being deco, and very pleasing to the eye I think!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Make your own...Sunflower seed butter!

Time to start branching out! Time for: Sunflower Seed Butter.

I started out with a 1 pound bag of roasted, unsalted seeds.

Here they go. They had me concerned because it got to the pasty "pastry ball" phase quickly and stayed there much longer than the peanuts.
Finally you can see a teeeny bit of paste forming at the bottom, but that's it.

FINALLY! This took about 7 minutes, more than the 3 for the peanuts.

This is pretty good! I may have added a teensy bit too much salt, I intended to add 1 teaspoon but think I added 1 1/4? Just that much difference matters. It is a little salty. But paired with super sweet jam, you can't tell. The hubs is not a fan, even though he likes sunflower seeds. His review? "Ew. No. It tastes like sunflower seeds." But the boys like it and I do to....I don't think it's that much different than regular PB.

This bag made the same amount as the peanuts, about 16oz. A full jar!

Friday, September 16, 2011

PW Burgandy Mushrooms, Olive Cheese Bread, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This post should be titled, "Things I've been waiting for my Mom to come and visit so I can make because nobody in this house will eat, including me".

Except for the cake. OBVIOUSLY.

The mushrooms take like 9 hours to make. I did 1/4th this recipe because I was making them only for my mom and her hubs. I should have 1/8th'd it, but it's already tricky dividing the recipe! You basically simmer white mushrooms in red wine, chicken and beef bouillon, and some other stuff like all........daaaaay............

I don't eat fungi, so these aren't for me.

This was later in the day, starting on the cake, you can see the mushrooms STILL cooking.

Luckily they didn't kill too much of my cake-scent mojo in the kitchen.

The cake starts with melting butter (shockingly) in the cast iron, then sprinkling brown sugar. You wait until the brown sugar dissolves, then add the batter. Be sure to add the pineapple rings and batter BEFORE the sugar starts to burn, even if all the brown sugar isn't dissolved, or you will start to see a few bubbles of black, burned sugar boil up. Trust me. Oh, and put the skillet on a cookie sheet in the oven. Just in case.

This is Olive cheese bread. It is mayo, chopped green and black olives, butter, and cheese mixed together and spread on a loaf of french bread. I made this earlier in the day, then popped it in the oven right before dinner. Again, the mass quantity problem. This mixture could have covered 2 loaves (4 halves) easily I think. But I just piled it up on there. When will I learn?

I also don't eat olives. But I was willing to try this at least. Pat on the back, right?

I discovered I think the black olives aren't so bad, but the green ones = nast.

It did get rave reviews, so that's good.

Here's the mushrooms. Also got rave reviews. I took their word :)

And then.....ta da!! (never mind the burnt sugar part in the back.)


I've only made Pineapple upside down cake once before, forever ago, from a box mix. (Just add pineapples!) This was really easy to make, and the brown sugar made kind of a caramelized crust on top. It almost candied the pineapples. GOOD NIGHT.

Here is is about 30 seconds after taking the first picture:

Note: cast iron skillets are heavy. Even small ones. Especially when filled to the brim with heavy cake.(I forgot to take a picture of it out of the oven in the chaos). I definitely needed help flipping it over on the plate. It was hot and heavy and it seemed you were supposed to flip it over pretty quickly instead of waiting for it to cool. Good thing I had help or I might have gone into labor right there!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

PW Cinnamon Rolls

Finally. Enough putting it off. I've been pretty intimidated to make these, for many reasons, among them being the MASS quantity they make. I almost halved the recipe, but I figured, we had company coming anyway, and, well, go big or go home, right? Let's get to it.

First up....melt ONE POUND of butter. I've gotten on quite the good terms with real, actual butter over the past couple years, but mainly just for making frosting. This is, without a doubt, the largest amount of butter I've ever used at one time for something non-frosting related.

I just put this bad boy in the microwave. Align Center

Down he melts into 2 cups of melted butter. WOW.

On we go with the dough (which was made earlier in the day). I did feel that it was pretty sticky...that proved to be quite the problem. It's entirely possible I miscounted the cups of flour...but I don't think I did. I took out half the amt of dough and attempted to roll it into a 30inch by 10inch rectangle. I don't actually have that much counterspace to work with, so I just did the best I could (about 20inches). Also, despite my floured countertop, it was sticking so bad it wasn't rolling out very well.

On I dump and spread out almost 1/2 the butter (about 1 cup) and the cinnamon and sugar. It was QUITE the mess.

So I start rolling. UGH! I had the hardest time with this because 1) the dough was too thick because I didn't roll it out enough and 2) it hella stuck to the countertop and kept trying to rip open as I was rolling it toward me. AND, when I got to the end, it was coming out all over the place. It's mentioned it might do that, but I'm already limited on counter space. You can see how close we're getting to the edge....yeah. Messy.

Someone remind me not to wear a black tank top next time, ok?

Having to be 7 feet from the counter is also providing some cooking challenges :)

Anyhoo, I managed to get it sliced and into the dishes. The ones in the bottom dish are really, um , special looking. It was really hard to roll it up tight enough.

Ok. Round two. Instead of taking the whole 2nd half of the dough out, I took half that. But not before kneading a decent amount of flour in it. Trying to cut down on the sticky-ness and hoping it doesn't become too dry. The smaller amount of dough also allowed me to roll it out thinner. I was also much more sparing with the melted butter.

I also put a CRAP TON of flour down on the counter. This time was waaaaay better. See the pretty rolls? The are sitting in-yep, you guessed it-more melted butter.

Here's the finished amount. The recipe says you can either freeze them already baked and iced, or freeze them unbaked, and then let them unthaw and rise and bake then ice. I planned on splitting the batch and doing both, to see which was better. I put the square pans into the freezer.

(I did try one of them over the weekend, it took about 2 hours to unthaw and rise. So, not that convenient. I suppose I could have put them in the fridge the night before? Still have a batch so will have to try that also).

The round dishes were left out to rise.

And bake. Too bad we don't have smell-o-blog.

And then iced. The icing is pretty much your standard powdered sugar and milk icing, but with butter and maple flavoring. Outstanding. I halved the icing recipe to ice these as they came out of the oven. I let the icing set on them and cool, and it kind of absorbs into them. I wasn't sure about how "icing-y" they would be after being frozen, would I have to ice them again?

Turns out, not. They were still pretty good. One morning we had a batch of each, and I think they came out pretty much the same. Obviously it's way more convenient to just pop them in the oven already done and just warm them up, although it took about 30 min, not the 15 stated in the book. I'm also wondering if I could bake them, then freeze them uniced. That way, they're already done, and could have fresh icing on them. Will try that next time I make them. This was definitely an all-day project, but with things like that I'm glad for the mass quantities so you only have to do it once. These are definitely not something that you could just whip up in the morning. I think I will be working on an easier version of these....They are WAY better than the canned kind, obviously!