Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Daring to do it: Arancine

January’s Daring Cooks’ challenge was a ball! The lovely Manu from Manu’s Menu brought our taste buds to the streets of Sicily and taught us her family tradition of making arancine – filled and fried balls of risotto. Delizioso!

My first challenge as a member of the Daring Kitchen was the risotto challenge.  I loved it, and I was hooked.  Back then, a few of the Cooks mentioned making arancini/arancine from the leftover risotto.  This sounded really cool.  Well, here we are a few years later with Manu hosting an arancine challenge!  Yay!
While arancine, filled and fried balls of risotto, are usually a savory dish, anyone who has met me, either in person or through the blog, knows that I will take any opportunity to make dessert versions of things.  So that is what I did.
I started by toasting my rice in margarine, with a touch of brown sugar:

 Then I made my "stock," vanilla soy milk, water to thin it, a bit of sugar, a bit of cinnamon:
Then cook the risotto to creamy yumminess:
Once the risotto has cooled (in my case, I made it a day in advance), form balls and make a well:
 Fill the well.  With chocolate chips if you are me...!
Coat the stuffed and sealed balls in egg whites and crushed graham crackers:
Shallow fry until warm and crispy:
Enjoy the amazingness!
These were so good.
I promise, a "real," savory version was planned, and will be made at some point.  But I loved making these, and while they take a bit of work (one of my few Yiddish words - these are a "patchke" to make!), they will be made again!
Check out what my fellow Daring Cooks created this month!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Daring to do it: Whoopie Pies

This month's challenge was a lot of fun.  While it wasn't necessarily complicated, it was something I never really thought I would make on my own...

  The December Daring Bakers' Challenge had us all cheering - the lovely and talented Bourbonnatrix of Bourbonnatrix Bakes was our hostess and challenged us to make fun, delicious and creative whoopie pies! Delicious little cake-like cookies sandwiching luscious filling in any flavors we chose... What else is there to say but "Whoopie!"

Whoopie pies, I thought, were kind of a Pennsylvania Dutch kind of treat.  To that end, I never thought about getting them, since I thought the chances of there being lard in them was high.  I am so glad the lovely Bourbonatrix hosted this challenge...!  It gave me the chance to play and to experience the joys of saying "whoopee!" with every treat!  (And, yes, the four year old insisted that we all say whoopie as we at!)
I made Snickerdoodle Whoopie Pies.  Vanilla cakes sprinkled with cinnamon sugar filled with brown sugar buttercream.

Scooping out the batter for the cakes:
The baked cakes:
The brown sugar buttercream:
Filled morsel of goodness:
These were SO good.  I was worried they would be too sweet, but they were really rather well balanced.  I filled them one at a time - the buttercream was a little runnier than I had hoped it would be.  But these were a total win.  Hubby's coworkers were very happy to eat the leftovers!!  And I have some more flavor combinations I can't wait to try!

Thank you, Bourbonatrix, for this amazing challenge!!
Take a look here to see what my fellow Daring Bakers created this month!!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Daring to do it: Cabbage Rolls

Sorry for the long silence.  I am finally back to the challenges - making them, not just editing them!!
I am also sorry that I am having a hard time getting the pictures in here.  I used my phone instead of my camera, and I guess I don't really know the right way to transfer the files..!  I will keep trying!

December’s Daring Cooks’ Challenge had us on a roll! Olga from http://www.effortnesslessly.blogspot.com/ challenged us to make stuffed cabbage rolls using her Ukrainian heritage to inspire us. Filled with meat, fish or vegetables, flexibility and creativity were the name of the game to get us rolling!

Olga's recipes looked amazing.  And the pictures she took were out of this world.  I don't think I have ever had stuffed cabbage before and I was almost drooling wanting to make these!  But with time being what it is, and with now working full time, I wasn't sure when I was going to get this done.  Then came the brain - I have a slow cooker!  I found this recipe for slow cooker stuffed cabbage and knew I had it set.  (Bonus - I also had a snow day on Tuesday, so extra time to work with!  Yay!) I did make a few changes, as usual...  I used beans instead of mushrooms, and I used yellow squash in the filling.  I also omitted the cheese...
I don't have pictures of the process, but while I was separating out the cabbage leaves I had the thought that I must have been a Daring Cook for too long if I think pealing off cabbage leaves is fun...!  It was really neat to see the leaves come apart so smoothly!
Thanks to Olga's great explanation and pictures, rolling the cabbage was not nearly as hard as I feared it might be.  And, by using the slow cooker, I could do all of my prep work the day before, then just set the crock pot in the morning.  It was great!!

Hubby and I really liked the rolls.  Big Girl wasn't a fan, but she has become quite a picky eater these days, so she says she doesn't like dinner about three nights each week.  Little Girl liked it, which was nice.  I brought leftovers into work the next day, and my teaching cohort and I inhaled them.  These are better the next day...!  And the day after, if there is anything left!

Thank you, Olga, for such a wonderful challenge, and for all of your patience and support!!
Take a look here to see what my fellow Cooks created this month!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tribute to the Queen of All Daring Bakers, Lis

I am very sorry to be writing this post.  It is going to be kind of rambling, stream of conscience, bumbling along...

One of the reasons  I started this blog was so that I could join the Daring Kitchen.  I remember sending in my request to join and waiting for a response.  Would I be accepted into this community of talented cooks, bakers and bloggers?  After what felt like forever I called my sister and asked her how long it should take to get a response.  She told me to e-mail Lis, the co-creator of the forum, to make sure my request went through.  A day or so later I got an e-mail back welcoming me warmly to the Kitchen.  For the past three and a half years I have been cooking and baking with an amazing group of people from around the world.  I am even lucky enough to have become friends with some of these people in the "real" world.
I always looked forward to my dealings with Lis.  Her personality came shining through, and she always made me feel special.  We have teased for the last two years about finally getting together to meet - and eat!!
On Tuesday of this week, Lis died suddenly.  I never got to meet her.  I never knew how much it could hurt to lose someone I didn't even really know.  She and I had just been e-mailing over the weekend.  She was getting ready for back surgery, and was looking forward to the improvement in her quality of life.  She had asked my sister and me to help with some of the Daring Kitchen responsibilities while she recovered.  This was a daunting task, and one I was honored to be asked to help with.  But I knew Lis would be there to guide me, and laugh at and with me...
I keep thinking that I will wake up and this will be some sort of twisted dream.  Lis inspired so many people.  She helped create more than an on-line forum, but a real community.  We have shared joys and sorrows together with other members.  But this one hits in a different way.
I have started and deleted so many sentences while writing this post.  What words are there?  I know, I never met Lis. Heck, I only really learned her last name this week in learning of her passing.  But I still consider her a friend.  A woman full of life, love, energy, creativity and humor.  Any time a person is taken too soon is a tragedy.  But this one feels so wrong. 
To say that Lis will be missed would be like saying that there are a couple of stars in the sky.  Lis's presence was felt every day around the world.   
I wish so much that this post, and the many like it being posted today, were never needed.  I wish Lis's heart had been as strong as it was big and loving.  I wish a lot of things.
I wish love, comfort and peace for Lis's family.
Lis - wherever you are - you are loved.  You truly are the most Daring of us all.

#tributetolis #daringbakers

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Daring to do it: Sopa Castellana

Thank you to Begona for this wonderful challenge.  Sorry for the short post which does not do justice to this host or this dish.

Our November Daring Cooks’ hostess was Begoña, who writes the beautiful blog, Las recetas de Marichu y las mías. Begoña is from Spain and didn’t want to go with the more common challenges of paella or gazpacho, she wanted to share with us another very popular recipe from Spain that we don’t see as often called Sopa Castellana which is a delicious bread soup!

Colder days call for soup.  This one fit the bill amazingly.  I made a vegetarian version based on the recipe I found here.
Home-made veggie stock, home-made sourdough bread, add in an egg or two, and an amazing dinner was had by all!

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Take a look at what my fellow Daring Cooks created this month.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Daring to do it: Savory Pot Pie

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was nothing new to me, but was so super amazing.  It was the return of a favorite dish which I had sadly not thought of in way too long...

Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.

I love pot pie.  I mean, really, I love a flaky pie crust, so how can you go wrong with a dinner stuffing into one, or two, of them?!  I used to make pot pies pretty regularly.  I remember doing it in the apartment where Hubby and I used to live.  I don't remember making one, though, in the last four or so years.  WAY too long! 
I was all set to make my vegetarian for dinner last Friday night.  On Thursday night I set the tofu pressing, I made the triple batch of crust dough, I had it all set up so that when I came home from work I would chop and saute the veggies, make the gravy and bake it all up.  Then life laughed at me.  I had a little knife oops at work (I know, I am in a preschool with one-year olds, how can that be where I oops with a knife?!) and wound up with two stitches in my hand.  And a husband not letting me use a knife for a few days!
But I finally got the pie made, and man was it worth the wait!
Crust bottom, rolled out and ready:
The filling -  onion, carrot, celery, zucchini, broccoli, garlic, tofu and white beans, and the veggie gravy on top:
Into the crust it goes:
(Sorry - I have no idea why these two pictures are oriented strangely!)
Covered and vented:
Baked up golden, crispy and yummy:
Flaky crust, tender filling:
 I loved this challenge.  I am so happy to have pot pies back in my life!  This is definitely going back into the meal plan rotation!
Hannah gave us some amazing recipe options in her challenge.  I am really interesting in the Mediterranean Pizza Pot Pie!!
Thank you, Hannah, for reminding me how amazing pot pies are!  I loved every minute of the challenge.  And, next time, no stitches to hold me back!!
See what my fellow Daring Bakers made this month, and please treat yourself to a pot pie of your own!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Surprise! Quickbread

I don't know about you, but I don't necessarily put the word "sourdough" and "quick" together.  So when I saw that this month's project for Sourdough Surprises was sourdough quick breads, I giggled at the oxymoron, then drooled over the tasty possibilities. 
And then I waited.  I am not sure what I waited for...  time? inspiration? energy?  Well,  I waited a bit long.  I made my quick bread today.  On posing day.  But it still counts, right?!  I made Cinnamon Sourdough Muffins.  But I made them it as a loaf instead of muffins.  Because I wasn' patient enough to deal with the muffin tins!  (Pretty much the same general reason why I make cookie bars instead of cookies!)
I actually started last night with the starter mixture.  Equal parts starter and flour.  Eve is a pretty wet starter, but even after an overnight, my mixture seemed pretty thick:
Then I added in (most of) the other ingredients - egg, brown sugar (instead of honey), salt, vanilla, oil, cinnamon.  I wasn't so worried about how thick it was anymore!
When these two mixtures were well combined it was time to add the magic - baking soda!  Just look at those bubbles:
Before baking I decided to add a layer of cinnamon sugar to the top of my loaf, because how can more cinnamon hurt a cinnamon bread?
Out of the oven and cooling, this smelled amazing:
Sliced and ready to taste:
Really good.  I kept nibbling at this until I had to leave the house this morning.  Even my four year old, who doesn't love sourdough as much as I do, was asking for seconds.  This was an awesome treat!!
Check out what my fellow sourdough friends made this month, you are sure to find something to tempt your tummy!