Saturday, March 27, 2010

Daring to do it: Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

I love trying new recipes. Especially for dessert. After all, dessert is almost always a good thing, so why not expand the base of options When I saw this recipe for the Daring Baker’s challenge I was both excited and a bit nervous. I had never heard of a tian before, and had no clue how I was going to pull this one off. It just looked so complex. And fancy... and I don’t really do fancy...! But when I broke it down into components, and gave myself a few days to think about my options, I knew that this would be a lot of fun.
To start with, I knew that I probably wasn’t going to do orange. Since any citrus was fair game, I wanted to do something,,, different. But I couldn’t narrow it down. I really wanted to use grapefruit, but I also know that Hubby loves lemon, and thought that the recipe would work great with it. But I thought that maybe a combination of lemon and grapefruit would be a bit too tart for one dessert. So I decided that I would simple have to make two tian (tians?)- one grapefruit and one lemon. I then thought that the lemon tian could only be enhanced by strawberries, so my two desserts were set.
The challenge called for us to make individual desserts, but allowed for family style. I thought I would be stuck making both of mine family style, as I do not have individual tart pan, not do I have good sized ramekins, or any other vessel which I thought would be an appropriate size. It was in the dollar store that inspiration struck: for $1.00 I purchased a pack of six 6 inch planter dishes. You know, the shallow plastic dished in which you place flower pots to catch the water. Yay! I could now make my individual tians! I decided to make the grapefruit as individuals and the strawberry-lemon as a family style dessert for a family birthday celebration.
But enough about my process. On to the dessert!
I started by making the marmalades. I made both flavors, the grapefruit and the lemon, at the same time, figuring if I was going to get messy and sticky, might as well do it once instead of twice! The process seemed daunting, as it required thinly slicing the citrus, then blanching it three times before you even got to the jelly-making part. But really, it wasn’t that bad. Time consuming? Sure. But not that bad, all things considered. The marmalades came out really well. The citrus flavors came through clearly, but there was enough sweetness to keep it from being overwhelming. (Luckily the desserts don’t use as much marmalade as the recipe makes, so there was plenty for snacking!)
Next I tackled the pate sablee. This seemed so fancy, but really it is “just” a pastry crust. Very similar to the pie crust I make, but richer with the addition of egg. I was worried I would have to make a double batch of the sablee dough to make both of the tian that I wanted to, but it turned out that a single batch made just the right amount – one big round for my spring form pan, and enough six inch rounds for the six “dishes” and two extra for test-tasting!

Segmenting the citrus was fun and messy I don’t know why I thought it was fun, but I did. I will make one recommendation/observation: segmenting citrus while the skin on your hands is dry and chapped? Not so much fun... But it got done, and the fruit was segmented and juiced and ready to go.

For many people, making the caramel was the scariest part of this process. I have made caramel before, so I had an idea of what I was in for there. The hardest part of it, for me at least, is letting the sugar cook and not touching it. No stirring, so swirling, nothing. I am not nearly patient enough for that! But I managed. Twice, actually, since I made grapefruit caramel sauce and strawberry-lemon.
For me, the most intimidating part of this process was the whipped cream. Believe it or not, I have never made whipped cream before! It worked, but not quite as well as I had thought it would. I don’t know if I added the sugar too rapidly or too soon, or if I needed to add the stabilizer (which I never thought of, but the recipe called for) differently or what, but I had expected my whipped cream to be a little lighter and fluffier or something. Maybe I am just too used to making meringues... Either way, the taste was good, and that’s the important part, right?

Assembling the desserts went well. I didn’t even break any of the pate sablee cookies! (This is an accomplishment for someone as klutzy as me!) And the end results? Really quite attractive! Hubby and I agreed that theses were very yummy and definitely this was a keeper recipe. Just not for every day use... Because of how much work it entailed, we agreed that this would be a recipe to pull out when we (“we,” since he doesn’t do any of it!) want to impress! And the family LOVED the strawberry-lemon tian! At the end of the evening there was only one piece left!

So thank you, Jennifer, for an amazing introduction to the world of tian! This has so much potential for variations, and I am really glad to have learned about this amazing dessert!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Could it be... seitan?!

Several years ago I had never heard of seitan. Sounded strange... Turns out, I had eaten it, though... When I ordered mock chicken dishes at my favorite Chinese restaurant, turns out that the "mock" part is seitan! While you can purchase pre-made seitan, I like a challenge, and thought it sounded like fun, so I learned to make it myself. Mine might not have exactly the same texture, but it is home made, and it works really well!
Seitan, wheat meat, gluten... All the same thing, all really versatile, all very good to know about if you are vegetarian, know someone who is vegetarian, if you are thinking about reducing meat, or if you just want to impress people at a cocktail party. Seitan is made from vital wheat gluten. It is possible to rinse and reduce whole wheat flour to get to the gluten, but this sounds incredibly hard, time consuming and messy to me! Since I don't have oodles of time, and I am messy enough on my own, I use prepackaged Vital Wheat Gluten. To this I add whatever spices I want. Sometimes I keep it plain, sometimes I add powdered imitation chicken stock, sometimes I improvise. Today I added cumin, black pepper, ground mustard and ginger. I did not add salt, as I knew the liquid in which the pieces were to be cooked would be pretty salty. After mixing in the spices, I added the water and mixed again. Then kneaded. Usually I use my stand mixer to tackle kneading. But not for this. The "dough" is very elastic, and I like to have a feel for how stretchy it is, and how the water is absorbing. Once the dough is well kneaded and has rested, it is time to cut. This really could be cut into pretty much any size or shape you want. I chose small cutlets - almost chicken nugget sized. Even knowing what is in there, and having done it myself, I find it kind of cool how meat-like the consistency really is, even at this stage of the game.
Once the pieces have been cut it is time for a bath. (Not for me! I might be messy, but I am not that bad!) There are varying theories about this step. Some people think the liquid should be cold so everything heats together, some think it should already be boiling... I am not quite sure I know the difference. I have done it both ways, and I did not feel anything about the texture making me think one way is better than the other. For today I added the pieces to cold broth - part home made vegetable stock, part water combined with the above mentioned powdered imitation chicken stock. Then the waiting for the liquid to boil. While it isn't exactly true that a watched pot never boils, it does feel like it takes forever...! Once the liquid boils, turn the burner down, and let things simmer for an hour. It is amazing how much this stuff swells up during the cooking process! The picture I took of the seitan just added to the broth looked like a picture of broth. After a short simmer, it looked like this:
Really cool! (But, then again, I am easily impressed...!)
When the seitan was done cooking, and had cooled in the pot, it had shrunk back down some. While it had grown from its original size, it wasn't quite as big as its cooking size. And I now have some great fake meat to use! I can use it in soups or stews, I can make fake chicken salad, or fry it up, or make my own "chicken" nuggets... The possibilities are darn near endless!

And what, you may ask, was Little Girl up to all of this time? Well, for part of it (though not as much as I had hoped - for her sake, not mine!) she was napping. For some of it she was playing and "helping" Mommy in the kitchen. I like to say that she likes to keep an "eye" out for what I am doing. And, if you look at the alphabet squares on the kitchen floor, you will see that she certainly does like to keep an "I" out!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Baking on the fly...

This morning we had a play-date with some of the moms and babies from our mommy group. I was really looking forward to this, as it would be an great opportunity to play. For Little Girl... Really, totally selfless... Ok, I knew it would be a fun time for me, and nice chance for Little Girl to interact with other little ones. While I knew it was both unnecessary and unexpected, I really wanted to bring something with me - I hate to go places empty handed, and always love an excuse to cook or bake...!
Now, this date had been set about a week ago. You would think I would have planned ahead. But, no. This morning came around and I had yet to even think about what to make. A trip to google to look for a "quick coffee cake recipe" yielded success. I found a recipe for Quick and Easy Coffee Cake which looked, as the name suggested, both quick and easy, and tasty to boot. Another nice thing about this recipe was that it could be made in one bowl without the use of the stand mixer. (Much as I love my mixer, sometimes it is nice to have less to clean.) I started with the dry ingredients, using a fork and knife to blend in the margarine, since I don't have (nor do I see the need to purchase or store) a pastry cutter. I also added some cinnamon, because yum!) I then added the wet ingredients, and poured everything into the greased pan. As I went to the pantry to get brown sugar for my own version of the streusel topping, I spied something that made me stop. Vanilla extract. If it was still in the pantry, clearly it hadn't made its way into the batter yet. The batter that was already in the pan... No worries - I poured the vanilla right over the cake, and stirred away. No harm, no foul.
For the streusel, I prefer an oat topping. So I combined some flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and margarine with my hands and sprinkled it on top. Looked good, smelled good, I was excited!

When the cake came out of the oven I was thrilled. It rose! It was a beautiful, high, delicious smelling coffee cake that I was proud to bring to my fellow mommies! And it tasted good, too, so I was particularly happy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pasta Tales...

Almost every week when we are working out our meal plan, Hubby requests a pasta dish. He knows it is versatile, and he knows that it will leave plenty of leftovers for him to take for lunches for the week! So tonight was pasta night. I was pretty excited about this, since I had a lot of vegetables already cut up from our fancy-shmancy salad the other night, and lots of cheese for great gooiness.
Then the unthinkable happened....

My camera fell.

Well, yeah. It fell. The lens was open, and now it remains that way. We are in the midst of trying to figure out if it is still under warranty and how we will go about fixing the oops. But, yeah...
So I will be taking pictures with my video camera for now. Which is why the photo quality is going to be not quite as good as it has been...

So back to the pasta.
I sauteed some onions, then added the already cut veggies while the pasta boiled. I love when my meals are so colorful! I also love when the hard work has already been done, taking the tedious part out of the cooking process!
One of the things I love about a baked pasta dish is how people look at it and think that it seems involved and complicated. Once the veggies were sauteed and the pasta was drained, it was time for the "hard" stuff... Into the casserole dish went the pasta, the veggies, some ricotta cheeses and some shredded cheese. Mix it all up, sprinkle with more shredded cheese, and pop it in the oven.


Dinner came out really well! Both Hubby and I, while expecting something yummy, were pleasantly surprised with how much we liked it! We both had seconds, and had to control ourselves from taking thirds or fourths!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Busy day in the sun!

The weather here has been beautiful the last few days. Because of that, one of the moms in the mommy group I participate in organized a trip to the park for any of us who could make it. It was a ton of fun! The weather was perfect, the company was great, and we all had a blast! Little Girl loves having the chance to get together with other kids, and seemed to be flirting with the boys a bit... We might have to keep our eyes on her...!

But the day wasn't all fun and games - we do have to eat! As Little Girl's food options have expanded, I have tried to make sure that what she eats is a close approximation of what Hubby and I eat. Tonight's dinner for us was quiche. So, since I have recently introduced egg yolks to her, Little Girl was going to get quiche, too! I started by making her a "right sized" crust. (Shown here with the full sized crust for comparison.) While the big people's quiche had cheese, broccoli, onion and garlic, that wasn't going to happen for Little Girl. Her quiche was filled with egg yolk, beaten with a little bit of milk. Well, milk as she knows it, anyway. The end result was really cute. And she seems to have enjoyed it, so I am glad there was enough crust and egg to make two - baby leftovers!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Birthday dinner - On a roll

We were finally able to have Hubby's birthday dinner tonight. I let him pick whatever he wanted. He chose chicken cheese-steaks. No, he doesn't forgo his vegetarianism for a day, and I don't ignore Kashrut for one meal... These are made with fake chicken and fake cheese! Morningstar Farms Chik'n Strips are great, and Veggie Slices "cheese" actually melts pretty convincingly! Add in sauteed peppers, onions and garlic and you have a great filling. But for a steak sandwich, real or imitation, you need bread, right? Usually I buy sub rolls for these sandwiches. But for Hubby's birthday, I thought it might be nice to try my hand at homemade rolls. I have made bread in the past, and successfully at that. I have even made rolls before. But never sub rolls (or hoagie rolls, or torpedo rolls, or whatever other name you might have for them!). After looking around for some new recipes, I decided to use one I was familiar with and just adapt the shape. I turned to one of my favorite cookbooks; Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I used the Fast French Bread or Rolls recipe, substituting whole wheat flour for some of the regular. I also let it rise a little longer, allowing for a more complex flavor, as he explains in the book. After the dough rose in a bowl, it was time to shape the rolls. I don't think I did it quite right... They looked kind of like flattened footballs... (Plus the two mini-rolls I made for Little Girl...!) I could have rerolled them and tried again, but I figured it didn't matter too much, right? After one more rise it was time to bake.
The rolls came out of the oven smelling great and looking nice and crispy. They didn't get quite as fluffy as I had hoped, but they were still puffy and round. They had a nice crunchy outside and a chewy, soft crumb. Not bad! The shape was not exactly as I would have liked, but that can be worked on. It was nice to use a tried-and-true recipe I could rely upon today. I knew the taste would be good, even if the aesthetics weren't exactly right!
All things considered, though, once they were sliced and stuffed, and set alongside some yummy homemade oven fries, they worked out perfectly!
Oh yeah - the birthday desserts from yesterday were great! The Bundt cake looked pretty inside and out! And the oatmeal bars were even better than I had hoped! One more time, happy birthday, Hubby!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Hubby!

Today is Hubby's birthday! Birthdays are a big deal to me. Not the numbers, and not the gifts, but the day to make sure that a person feels truly special. Of course, I try to make Hubby feel special every day, but his birthday should be a little something more. And, as you have probably figured out, one of the main ways in which I show my love and appreciation is through food.
Unfortunately, though, tonight is the one night a week I work. So our birthday dinner has to be postponed to tomorrow night... But I still needed to do something, right? So I looked for something to bake. Hubby suggested I make chocolate chip cookies. Which I could do... But I know that mine will never compare to his mom's, and I am ok with that! With that in mind, though, I want to bake something which won't be almost as good... One of Hubby's favorite combinations in the world is chocolate and peanut butter. So I got onto foodgawker and searched "chocolate peanut butter." There was a recipe I thought I had bookmarked that I thought Hubby would like, but I couldn't find it, so I had to start again. I found two things that stood out to me, and I decided there was no need to choose between the two, I would make both! But as I thought about it, I realized that, even if it is his favorite, there is only so much chocolate and peanut butter any of us should have at a time. So some creativity was called for.
First I wanted to make this Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bundt Cake. I have made Bundt cakes before, but never one with a filling. I also determined that this would be the easier recipe to change. Knowing that Hubby also likes "Black-bottom cupcakes," I chose to make the filling a chocolate chip cheesecake filling rather than a peanut butter one. I used a zip-top bag instead of a pastry bag to pipe in the filling. Next time, I think I can make a smaller amount, though. As you can see, there was too much to contain it to the center of the cake! Ah, if only this was the worst problem any of us had to face...!

Since this cake had to bake for an hour, I had time to make treat number two - No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars. (I know, it is a mouthful of a title...!) These were easy! While the oats soaked up the margarine and sugar, the chips and the peanut butter melted away in the microwave. It was then a matter of layering the oats, chocolate peanut butter goodness and more oats. The hardest part of this was keeping Little Girl happy, as she was overtired but pretending that she didn't want to sleep... I can't wait until she is big enough to help with the stirring without the risk of EVERYTHING ending up in her mouth!! I know, when that time comes I will be wishing she was small again... I love her to pieces, though, and I wouldn't trade any of these stages!!

Finally it was time to drizzle the rest of the chocolate peanut butter mixture on top of the bars and put them into the refrigerator to set. And by now it was also about time to get the cake out of the oven! It came out of the over looking great, but, more impressively to me, it came out of the pan beautifully!! I have had too many cakes stick to the pan to take for granted that this one wouldn't do the same. I was very pleasantly surprised!

The biggest problem now? I can't taste these! They are, of course, for Hubby, not for me. So he gets first crack at them. So no test tasting, even for the sake of full-disclosure blogging... Hopefully tomorrow there will be a follow up including how the ring of filling looked in the Bundt cake and, most importantly, how everything tastes!

Here are the finished products, calling my name as I try to resist them...!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daring to do it: Risotto

My first Daring Cook's challenge!! So exciting!!

The March 2010 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of Melbournefoodgeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

I have made risotto once before, and liked it, but it wasn't something that I thought of to make regularly. I tend to try not to keep too many different types of rices in the kitchen, as space is kind of an issue. But I was psyched to try it again, and knew that this would be a lot of fun.

One of the things I love about the Daring Kitchen is that people are encouraged to take the recipe and put their own spin on it. Right away I knew this would be necessary, as chicken stock wasn't something I was about to be making in my vegetarian kitchen. Vegetable stock, on the other hand, was something I had been wanting to make for a LONG time. I had in my freezer baggies full of onion peels, broccoli stems and asparagus trimmings, just waiting for the opportunity to turn them into stock. I added the frozen booty, along with some fresh carrots, bay leaves and spices to the stoneware of my crock pot, filled it with water and set it simmering. At the end of the day, after a trip through the strainer, I was left with some beautiful vegetable stock! The flavor was a little blander than I had hoped, but this is probably because I tend to under-salt things. So next time I make stock, (and I am already stockpiling "scraps" in my freezer for the next time!) I will know to add a lot more salt, and maybe some soy sauce...

It was then time to determine what kind of risotto I would be making. One of the ways our meal plans are determined is by the weekly circulars. This particular week, broccoli was a good price, so I decided to make roasted broccoli and garlic risotto with pecorino Romano cheese. So I set the stock to simmer, got the broccoli and garlic into the oven to roast, and started sauteing the onion. In went the rice to toast a bit, then it was time to make the risotto. Risotto is one of those things that seems like it ought to be really complicated, but it isn't. It is just needs a good amount of attention. So Hubby was on Little Girl duty while I added stock and stirred and simmered away!
Then end result was well worth the effort!!

The saltiness of the cheese balanced the "mildness" of the stock beautifully. The roasted broccoli and garlic gave such a nice flavor making the dish really just superb. I was so excited to have a) made such a yummy risotto and b) successfully done my first challenge!


I didn't leave well enough alone. Having this extra arborio rice in the house, and loving desserts as much as I do, I knew I had to try a dessert risotto. For this I knew I wouldn't be using my vegetable stock. It might not have had the flavor I had hoped for, but it certainly wasn't at all dessert-y!! So my dessert stock was vanilla soy milk infused with a vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick, some brown sugar and some nutmeg. Using this, I made a strawberries and cream risotto. If you have ever had rice pudding, this tops it! The creaminess of the risotto makes for a decadent dessert! For those who aren't convinced about risotto because of the texture, try it as a dessert - it not only expands the flavor possibilities, it makes the creaminess make sense!

Thank you so much Eleanor and Jess for hosting this challenge and bringing risotto back into my life! And thank you to the Daring Kitchen for welcoming me in and letting me Dare along with you!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The beauty of teething

Little Girl has always had a beautiful smile. Just because I am biased doesn't make that fact not true!! But recently her smile has been changing. Those gummy grins are gone. Arriving are the teeth. So far she has three - two on the bottom and one on top. And she has no less than three (yes, three) more coming in on the top at this very moment. Thank goodness we don't remember the teething experience. I can not imagine how painful this is for her. I know it is keeping her up and making her cranky, and I wish there was something I could do to take the pain away... Ibuprofen and teethers are all I can offer...
As her smile changes, though, we have both discovered something new we can smile about!

Since Little Girl was born I haven't worn much in the way of jewelry. (Bear with me, this is related!) Being a baby, she loves to pull on things and put them in her mouth. Especially now with teeth coming in, EVERYTHING is a chew toy! Let me introduce you to Teething Bling! Created by a mom originally from my part of the world, Teething Bling is beautiful jewelry made out of a completely safe silicone material which babies can chew on (and it is dishwasher safe, too!). There are pendants, bracelets, key chains and more in an amazing array of colors and shapes. I received mine today and love it already. I chose the blue camouflage donut shaped pendant, which isn't really a surprise - I pretty much always choose blue when I can! But there is a new color coming out in the next week or so, pink calcite, which has me pretty excited - it looks perfect for Mother's Day and the Race for the Cure, which I participate in every year... SmartMom might be hearing more from me before then...! I was also loving the bracelets. Little Girl loves to chew on both my watch and the hair band I use as my nursing "side" reminder. Just like the addition of pink calcite to the rainbow, those bracelets are on my radar!

While nothing can take away the pain and discomfort of teething (from Little Girl or from her mommy!), Teething Bling has at least made it a more attractive process to go through!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Grilled cheese grows up

Sometimes you just need some comfort food. Something that makes you feel young again, no matter what your actual age is. For me, one of the fun young foods I love to have is grilled cheese. Gotta love the orange cheese oozing out from between slices of crunchy toasted bread...
But sometimes you want to pretend to be a grown up, too, right? Tonight was grilled cheese night. But not the standard grilled cheese - grown up grilled cheese.
I started with wheat bread. Because, really, it tastes better than white bread! Instead of processed cheese slices we had some slice pepper jack cheese in the fridge. Nice way to have gooey cheese and an extra kick! I then added some slices of fake turkey. In a vegetarian house, fake meat slices make great lunches, so we try to have them on hand. Then, to really jazz the sandwiches up, I added slices of cool, creamy avocado. YUM!!
While I kind of smooshed the bread on one of the sandwiches when I flipped it, the taste was great. Ooey gooey cheese, crisp toasted bread, creamy avocado, and the fake meat for some substance. This was a grown up sandwich for the young at heart!!

Just in case you were worried, I haven't grown up too much... I had to have my shoestring french fries, of course dipped in ketchup!, right alongside my sandwich! As I frequently say, I am older than I look, and significantly older than I act!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Do you dare?

I have always considered myself to be somewhat adventurous in the kitchen. I love to try new recipes, and to play around with old favorites. I remember being in the kitchen with my dad (who normally doesn't cook, so I think that is why the memory sticks out!) and playing with rice, fish sticks and green peas to create a new dinner. Even as a kid, I knew that it was fun to try new things, or, as I call it, to experiment in the kitchen.
As much as I try to stick to a recipe the first time I use it, I have gotten to the point where I generally take the recipe as a suggestion, and try to "adjust" things based on my mood, my pantry, or my audience!! I guess that started when I began reducing dairy amounts in my baking. Being lactose intolerant, I don't have to eliminate dairy, but I try to keep things such that I don't need to worry about taking pills for everything I eat. Then came the vegetarian kitchen, and the substitutions for meat products. Oh yeah, and growing up (and continuing to be) Kosher, and keeping meat and dairy separated. So be it by necessity or by desire, I have always felt that I was up to almost any kitchen challenge.
So when Auntie Twin introduced me to The Daring Kitchen, I knew this was something I was going to need to try!! After a brief mix-up with my joining request, I finally sent my information in the right way, and have officially become both a Daring Chef and a Daring Baker! This is something I am really excited about!
So stay tuned! Once a month you will see how the challenges inspire me in the kitchen, and how I make even more recipes into things I can (try to) call my own!!
(Ok, Little Girl helps, too...)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kitchen help

Ever since Little Girl was born I have been looking forward to the day she would be able to help me craft and play. She is with me when I do pretty much everything, and I make sure to include her in what I do, as long as it is safe... (no scissors or ovens yet...) When we are in the kitchen, her "toys" include a nylon whisk, a pie plate and a rubber spatula. She seems to enjoy doing the things that Mommy does, which makes me very happy!!
Well, today was a banner day for us!! We were working in the kitchen with Auntie Twin and Little Miss, and Little Girl started to get fussy. It really seemed like she was feeling left out... So I did what any mom would do, and I included her!

Who says 9 months old is too young to help out in the kitchen?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

Sorry for the silence...
Little Girl and I came back from Florida on Friday, an Hubby came home today. Things have been a little hectic. with Little Girl having an ear infection and teething leading to little sleep for either one of us... But now that Hubby is back, I should have the opportunity to get back to crafting, cooking and baking. I was able to make a yummy dinner tonight of "Chik'n" Parmesan, but forgot to toke pictures before it was devoured! So that will have to be made again, both because it was darn yummy and to take photos of it!!
Here's hoping for a good night's sleep tonight, for all of us!
And here's to a crafty day tomorrow with pictures to show for it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Root for the home team!

As I mentioned, Little Girl and I are in one part of Florida with my parents while Hubby is in a different part to visit Spring Training. Yesterday we met up for an overnight visit. All of us, Saba, Savta, Little Girl and I, piled into the car and drove 3 1/2 hours southwest. While we didn't do anything particularly "Spring Training-y," we did have a great time. Little Girl misses her daddy when she doesn't see him, and he couldn't wait to get his hands on her! The one thing we knew we had to do while we were there was get her all decked out to cheer on our favorite team!!

We had a great visit, and we had some yummy food at places which we associate with Spring Training, but we did have to return home today... The drive back northeast took a little longer than anticipated... The GPS took us on a route that was probably shorter by miles, but took longer - and felt endless! But we are back in our temporary Northern Florida home for a couple more days. We miss Hubby, but we'll see him back at our home up north in a few days!!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sunshine and chocolate

When you think Florida, what comes to mind? Beaches? Citrus? Sunshine? Well, for me, one of the first things I think of is chocolate. Yup, that's what I said... chocolate! Very close to my parents' house is an amazing chocolate shop. Hand-made chocolates and chocolate covered treats... Hubby and I love it there, and we always make it a point to stop in whenever we are here! (I actually think that the shop is one of the reasons my parents chose the house they did...) But even with this favorite vacation spot, we are always excited to find alternative places to expand our chocolate horizons. So today Little Girl and I were introduced to Claude's Chocolates.

The store was so charming, and the view of the kitchen was amazing! I totally wanted to get a tour of the candy-making that was going on! All of the chocolates were hand-made, and I really thought it would be fun to play! Fortunately for all involved, I knew that it would be a bad - and probably illegal - move for me to walk in the kitchen and start playing. So I had to content myself with drooling over the cases of truffles and treats. We got some special presents to bring to Hubby tomorrow when we visit him at Spring Training. After that I will be able to let you know how Claude's stands up to the competition!!
Even Little Girl wanted in on the action, and she has never had chocolate before!! She knows a good thing when she sees it...!