Saturday, July 27, 2013

Daring to do it: Eenie Meenie Miney Moe

In many ways this was the hardest challenge we have ever had!

In a "celebration" of past Daring Baker and Daring Cook challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

Lisa, the creator of the Daring Kitchen (and someone I am really honored to call a friend - who I can't wait to meet one of these days!), pulled this challenge together pretty quickly after the original July host was knocked out my an injury.  (What can I say - this is a really supportive community where we all work together.  I love it.)  You would think this would be easy - choose something that looks good.  Well, ALL of the challenges look god!  How could I choose?
But choose I did...  I went way back to the November 2006 Daring Baker's challenge - Hot Buttered Pretzels.  I love pretzels, but I have a soft spot for the sweet, buttery all pretzels.  My best friends from college and I used to get three pretzels and one large lemonade to share when we went out together, and we still do when we can, which isn't too often with all of us working, having kids and one of us living on the other side of the country!   So I decided that making these would be a nice trip down memory lane, and would help bring my friends closer in a little way.
What was really cool was that my Big Girl really wanted to be hands on through the whole baking process.  She really makes her mommy proud!  She wanted to do it all, so she did:
The dough she made:
Puffed up!
While the recipe indicates making eight pretzels, we decided to make 16...
Back to Big Girl! Rolling:
Shapes and baked:
Brown and yummy!
We made half of the pretzels salty and the other half sweet with cinnamon sugar.  All of them were amazing...  The one alteration I made was to use margarine instead of butter - allergies, lactose intolerance...  You know...  So they were really Hot Margarined Pretzels, but I would make them again any day!!
Now I challenge you - choose just one of these challenges from the past.   You'll understand why this was so hard!
Thank you, Lis, for giving us the chance to go back in time!  You are awesome.

And don't forget to check out what the other Daring Bakers made this month!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Surprise! Cinnamon Rolls

I have a soft spot for cinnamon rolls.  Part of it is the flavor - sweet, cinnamon-y, sometimes with that amazing glaze or frosting...  Yum.  And, how fun is it to unroll it while you eat?!  I know, I am kind of a geek that way, but I can't help it!  It is fun!
So this month's Sourdough Surprises challenge was exciting to me.  I was intrigues by the variety of recipes there were to choose from, some which required very little resting time and some which took a LONG time to proof/sour/rest.  I chose one that was a little less time intensive, as time isn't exactly abounding in a house with two little ones and full time working at camp...!
I was a little nervous going into this challenge, as Eve had been left to her own devices on the counter for a bit longer than she should have been.  I refreshed her, and she bubbled up nicely, but she still smelled...  strong...
I added a lot of extra flour to get my dough to a rolling consistency.  It seemed ok:
Add the filling.  Brown sugar, of course, mixed with the cinnamon, dotted with margarine:
When I rolled and cut the dough I saw that, even with the extra flour, there might still be a bit of a sticking issue:
A little thin, a little stretched out... 
They looked ok, the filling smelled great, but the dough/crust/whatever you want to call the outside part still smelled strong.  And guess what?  It tasted strong, too.  This was my first sourdough creation which I just didn't like.  What a disappointment.
But I will try again.  Eve has been tempered and refreshed with new flour, and I think she is in much better shape now.  So hopefully sometime soon you will see a sourdough cinnamon roll success from me! 
Check out what the others made this month - theirs turned out so well, it is more incentive to get it right next time!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Daring to do it: Yogurt

Blog-checking lines: The lovely Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler was our July Daring Cooks’ hostess and she asked us to create homemade yogurt in our own kitchens! No incubators needed, no expensive equipment or ingredients, just a few items and we had delicious yogurt for a fraction of the cost and a whole lot healthier than what you buy in the stores!

This was a scary challenge.  Yogurt?  Doesn't that require a lot of careful attention and monitoring and temperature gauging?  Add to that the fact that I wouldn't be using dairy milk for this, and I can honestly say that I don't remember ever being so nervous about any other kitchen project.  Including souffle!
In addition to the wealth of information Cher gave us in her challenge guide, I looked up as much as I could online about making soy yogurt.  Even though I was scared, I was kind of excited to learn about this.  Between my lactose intolerance and Little Girl's dairy allergy, soy yogurt is something we like to have in the house.  And it is getting hard to find.  The brand we like is becoming scarcer in the stores for some reason, other brands use dairy cultures, making them no-no's for Little Girl, and it is REALLY expensive to buy other types.  So after a couple of weeks of putting it off, I finally got my act together and gave it a shot.
I gathered up my supplies and ingredients:
That strange bottle marked PB8 is my pro-biotic.  The culture that would turn the soy milk into yogurt.  Hopefully.
After heating the milk, adding in some sugar to feed my bacteria (since soy milk does not have as high a fat content as the milk I would otherwise have used) and a corn starch slurry in hopes of thickening the end result, it was time to add my pro-biotics.  Here goes nothing!
Time to incubate:
Yup, the is my slow cooker, lined with a small towel to insulate, set on warm overnight.  Then it was time to walk away.  SCARY.  (Add to the inherent nerves the fact that my candy thermometer decided it wouldn't read anything, so I had no clue if I had killed off all of those friendly bacteria in the first place!)
In the morning, when I opened the pot, I found this:
Slightly thickened soy milk.  It did tasted kind of sour though.  (I asked Hubby if he thought it tasted yogurt-y or like sour milk...  he said yogurt..!)
Into the fridge to set and cool.  That afternoon I had this:
Not as thick as store bought yogurt, but thicker than I thought I would get!
My girls weren't too fond of the taste plain, but I am not surprised by that.  I stirred in a spoonful of strawberry preserves, and that was yummy.  It wasn't thick enough to eat with a spoon, but it was a good drink!  The rest of the yogurt was used to make chocolate yogurt "smoothies."  Loved those.  So did everyone else you tasted them!!
I can't wait to do this again.  Maybe I will play with it, try to thicken it up, but even thin, it made a great smoothie base, and was SO much more affordable than the store-bought variety. 
Thank you so much, Cher, for helping me and my fellow Daring Cooks see how accessible and wonderful home-made yogurt is!