Monthly Archives: March 2012

52 Weeks of Baking – Week 10: Book or Movie Inspired – Strawberries and Cream Pie

Here’s the second of the recipes I’ve chosen from Diane Mott Davidson’s Dying for Chocolate.  She calls it a Strawberry Super Pie, but my title is a bit more descriptive.  Once again I took the recipe from Life Happening and Fun on the Farm because I couldn’t find the book.

The crust is a nut shortbread, and instead of just pecans, I used a toasted almond and pecan mixture that I had leftover from making baklava.  The filling is cream cheese and whipped cream mixture that is very light tasting and goes well with the sweet strawberry topping.  I took this pie to our Wednesday night church meeting at Les and April’s house, and it was gone very quickly!

My rating: 6 out of 10.  I’m not a big strawberry fan, and this would have been much better if the strawberries were in season.  The cream cheese mixture was difficult to fold with the whipped cream, so I think I’ll “lighten” it with some of the whipped cream first next time.  Also, the whole strawberries were a bit tart, so I’ll halve them next time.

Hubby’s rating: 7.5 out of 10.  He thought the texture of the crust was funky (no one else did, so maybe he’s just weird)  He also thought the whole strawberries were a bit too tart.  So not his favorite dessert, but he did like it.

Difficulty rating: 6 out of 10.  This has multiple steps that could be messed up, from cooking the strawberry goo to whipping the cream.  Experienced cooks will find it no problem, but beginners could have a difficult time.

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Posted by on March 11, 2012 in 52weeksofbaking, Good


52 Weeks of Cooking – Week 10: Book or Movie Inspired – Gourmet Spinach Soup

I was really excited about this week’s challenge until I realized that all the recipes I wanted to try from books I read would require a trip WAY out of town for ingredients.  Lamb stew with dried plums?  No lamb.  Treacle tart?  No treacle or golden syrup. I went through so many internet searches I got tired of it and decided to make things easier on myself.  In my days of buying paperback mysteries, I found a series by Diane Mott Davidson featuring a caterer who is also an amateur sleuth.  I’ve only read one of these books (Dying for Chocolate) so I decided to go with two of the recipes in that book (one for cooking, one for baking).  Then I couldn’t find the book.  I still can’t find the book.

Luckily, another blogger has made some of the recipes from this book recently, so I was able to find the recipes online.  This one is Goldilocks’ Gourmet Spinach Soup.  I did modify the recipe slightly.  For some reason, scallions give me headaches, so I substituted half a white onion for the scallion in the recipe and I didn’t add any extra onion at the end.

I also made a delicious loaf of bread!

Kind of looks like a dog bone, doesn’t it?  Plus you can see flour and spinach sprinkling my cabinets, which is awesome.  This is a bread called Everything Loaf that was absolutely delicious.  It’s not book-inspired or anything; I just thought it would go well with the soup.  And it did.  So there.  Despite the awful presentation (my bread braids need work) this was one of the tastiest homemade loaves I’ve ever made.  I did not use caraway seed in the topping, and I added dried minced garlic.

My rating: 6 out of 10 for the soup.  I don’t really like mushrooms, and I think some additional cream cheese wouldn’t be amiss.

Hubby’s rating: 8 out of 10.  He would have liked more cheese as well.

Difficulty rating: 3 out of 10.  You have to chop and cook the spinach yourself, but this recipe is pretty easy.

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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in 52weeksofcooking


52 Weeks of Baking – Week 9: Homemade Samoa-like Cookies

These took a lot of work for a very sub-par presentation.  Nevertheless, it was a very fun experiment!  First you make a shortbread cookie.  Then you top it with a toasted coconut and caramel mixture.  Dip it in chocolate and pipe some chocolate on the top, and you’re supposed to have a cookie that looks and tastes like a Girl Scout cookie.

I used this recipe for the cookies. Notice how mine look nothing like theirs.  To fix this, I need to roll the cookies out thinner, use a smaller cookie cutter, thin out the coconut mixture with more caramels and dip the cookies deeper in the chocolate.  But hey, nobody’s perfect.

My rating:  Oops.  I haven’t eaten one yet.  Hold on…

My rating: 6 out of 10.  The cookies were too soft.  The coconut mixture was too think and chewy.  The chocolate was sub-par.  The whole cookie was too sweet.

Hubby’s rating: 8.5 out of 10.  He agreed that the caramel mixture needed to be spread out better.  He was also distressed by the lack of hole in the cookie.

Difficulty rating: 7.5 out of 10.  These were pretty ridiculous as far as number of steps goes, and there were A LOT of places to mess up.

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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in 52weeksofbaking, Try Again


52 Weeks of Baking – Week 8: Candy Decorations – Embarrassing Reese’s Pieces Cookies

So a rather long story goes with these cookies.  I’m woefully behind on the 52 weeks of Baking.  I was going to make these delicious looking cookies from the Pioneer Woman when I went to Tennessee to visit my sister.  Instead, I caught a nasty stomach bug that changed our plans!  So I made the cookie dough last week to make at home.  It has to chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.  Those hours turned into days as plans changed and Nick got sick.  By the time I got back to the cookie dough, it had gone bad.

So I made some Toll House cookies and replaced the chocolate chips with the mini Reese’s Pieces that I was going to use in the PW cookies.  I’m leaving this week behind without looking back.

I’m not rating these cookies.  Just look on the back of Nestle’s chocolate chips for the recipe.  Meh.

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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in 52weeksofbaking


52 Weeks of Cooking – Week 9: Coffee – Molasses Coffee Marinated Pork Chops


Don’t those look like super-high quality sides?  But I digress.  The theme for this week was coffee, and I can’t imagine a worse challenge for me (excluding internal organs…gross).  I hate coffee.  I don’t like coffee ice cream or mocha or anything that anyone says, “Oh, but you can’t taste the coffee in this!”  Trust me; I can.

These pork chops were no different in that regard.  I used this recipe from Alton Brown, and I thought that maybe I’d found a recipe where I couldn’t taste the coffee.  Adam couldn’t really taste the coffee in them, but I could.  The good news is that this meal is incredibly easy, so if you don’t mind a slight coffee taste to your pork, you should try it!

This experience was another good reminder that you should always read your recipe all the way through before you commit to cooking it.  I didn’t realize until the pork chops were marinating that they were supposed to be grilled.  My grill is out of gas!  “This calls for emergency googling!” I thought.  So I found these handy-dandy directions for using your broiler to grill.  It worked quite well!

Hubby’s rating: 9 out of 10 (But then, he really likes coffee.)

My rating: 6 out of 10 (The pork chops ended up really juicy and tender, while still being fully cooked.  This is hard to do)

Difficulty rating: 3 out of 10, if you know how to operate a grill or broiler.

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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in 52weeksofcooking


52 Weeks of Baking – Week 7: Love-inspired – Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

What do Hostess cupcakes have to do with love, you ask?  Well….I love them.  And my belly baby has been craving them, and I love my belly baby.  And…that’s it.  These were pretty tasty!

I used a recipe from one of my new favorite blogs, Bake at 350.  Of course, mine don’t look nearly as pretty as hers do.  She wrote cool messages with the icing and everything.  I tried to do just a regular Hostess swirl on mine and that didn’t work out, so I just put a little blob on the top of each cupcake.  Mission accomplished.  Next time I’ll just leave the white icing off, as it doesn’t add much to the final product when you suck at cake decorating.

My rating:  6 out of 10.  (I’ve expanded the range from 5 to 10 as 5 seemed too confining.)

Hubby’s rating: 7 out of 10

Difficulty rating: 8 out 10 if you want them to be beautiful, unlike mine.  4 out of 10 if you don’t care that they look like cow pies.

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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in 52weeksofbaking, Good