Thursday, May 24, 2007

Marble Magnets for M!

My friend, M, has been asking me how to make these magnets so that she could try it with her daughter. So it finally occured to me to just do a post about it.(?!) It is super easy, and you don't need much in the way of supplies:
- glass marbles, the type usually found the in the floral arranging section of craft stores. They are slightly random in shape and size, and have a flattish side.
- 1/2" round magnets, also to be found in craft stores
- 1/2" round paper hole punch (craft store, in the scrapbooking section)
- silicone sealant, as seen in the following photo...I think I got this at Home Depot, but I imagine you could find something similar in any hardware store. It is found with caulk, etc, and other types of goop one would use in a bathtub? The tube says "100% silicone sealant" - MAKE SURE TO GET THE CLEAR KIND!!! (It may say "clear" or "transparent" on the tube somewhere.)
- magazines, catalogs, maps - anything with interesting pictures or designs that you would like showing through on your magnet.

Use the hole punch to chop out your pictures, then with a toothpick, or similar item, smear a very thin layer of the silicone sealant onto the magnet. Then place your picture on top and press it down. Do this with all of your pictures, and let them dry a little bit ( a few minutes is plenty). Then with your toothpick, put a small glob of sealant on top of your picture (about the size of a peppercorn) and press the flat side of the marble onto it. Let dry (about 24 hours?)

Cocoa Brownies

I cannot stop making brownies. I found a fabulous recipe that I posted on Sweet and Savory, but then I couldn't resist trying these too. The original recipe only had the cocoa, without the chocolate chips added. I added the chocolate chips because I was afraid they wouldn't be chocolatey enough, but it probably wasn't necessary (but still good!). I really like the texture (chewy!) and they were definitely chocolatey. I think they would be a good recipe if you wanted a frosted brownie. They had an interesting flavor that kept making me think of honey. I don't know if it was the kind of cocoa I used, or the fact that I used such a heaping teaspoon of vanilla? Whatever the case, it will be a tough call the next time I make brownies, choosing between these and these.

Cocoa Brownies, modified from recipe in old Pillsbury cookbook

- 1/2 cup salted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- heaping 1/2 tsp salt
- mini chocolate chips (about 1/2 cup - I wasn't paying attention)
- enough chopped toasted pecans to sprinkle on top

Oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9 pan, or line with parchment.

In large sauce pan, melt butter. Mix in sugar, vanilla and eggs, then ry ingredients. After combined, stir in chocolate chips and pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle nuts on top. Bake for about 22 minutes, when toothpick comes out with crumbs.

Mini-Roadtrip to Portland

In my mind, the drive on I-5 between Seattle and Portland is marked by a few things:

1) Heinous traffic the entire stretch between Tacoma and Seattle

2) An unusually high number of Hooters restaurants (maybe that is just my perception?)

3) Some very pretty, wide-open green stretches, mountain views, and bits of various rivers

4) Alfred Hamilton's Uncle Sam billboard. It is generally serves as something to look forward to on your drive, to break up the monotony of I-5 and provide some conversation. But I am having a hard time figuring this one out. Any ideas? Is it referring to gun control? I'm afraid I'm not quite getting it.

As far as the trip itself, we had a fabulous time. The day was basically spent walking and eating, eating and walking, which was exactly what I was in the mood for. We stayed in a motel in the Nob Hill neighborhood, and before the day was through, we had walked all the way to the main section of Hawthorne in SE Portland, and walked most of the way back to Nob Hill. We took the street car the last 14 blocks after a rain cloud opened up on us.

ps - I tried watching the movie Snow Falling on Cedars the other night. I eventually had to turn it off. It felt like I was watching porn aimed at pedophiles and I got totally grossed out. Did this movie strike anyone else in this way? I got on the internet and couldn't find much of anything on the movie - just that the book has been on banned lists for being "pornographic". I haven't read the book so I am curious if the movie was simply keeping true to the original? Ick.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lemon Sorbet

I finally tried out my ice cream maker! Of course it was way easier than I had expected, and now I can't wait to try out all of the fabulous-looking recipes that have been popping up lately. A friend had put in a request for lemon sorbet, and sorbet didn't have the intimidation factor of actual ice cream, AND the Sugar High Friday event is requesting white food! So here we are.

I found different versions of this recipe on several different blogs. Some of them included alcohol and I wish I had made the trip to the liquor store because my sorbet ended up freezing up too hard. But the flavor was perfect - not too sweet, and very lemony. And while the texture worked itself out after being left on the kitchen counter for a little while, I'll definitely try it with the booze next time.

Lemon Sorbet

- 1 cup lemon juice
- 2 1/2 cups water
- zest of 2or 3 lemons (I added some orange zest too)
- 3/4 cups sugar

Place zest, sugar, and water in sauce pan and warm until sugar is melted. Chill completely, then add juice. Put in ice cream maker, according to directions. Makes about 1 quart.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Perfect Brownies?

I may have finally found a brownie recipe that satisfies my craving for brownies from a box. The texture was perfect! They are chewy and chocolatey but not at all damp - they are neither cakey or fudgy - they are just exactly how I want them! However, in the name of full disclosure I must confess that I had a horrible cold, complete with plugged nose, when I made these, so my taste buds were probably not performing at full capacity. (I suppose I will simply need to make them again soon to reassess their superb-ness.) I found the recipe in my weird old Pillsbury cookbook, then I modified it just a bit. I thought the photo in the book looked promising and so I left the essentials alone. You could mix the pecans into the brownies, but I prefer leaving them on the top so that they stay crunchy rather than becoming soggy.

Chewy Brownies, modified from a Pillsbury cookbook recipe
- 6 ounces plus about 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (12 ounce bag)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 generous tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- about 1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Oven to 350 degrees; 13 x 9 pan lined with parchment or greased.

Melt 6 ounces of chocolate chips with the butter. Remove from heat when smooth and allow to cool slightly. Mix dry ingredients together in small bowl. Add sugar, then eggs, then vanilla to chocolate mixture. Stir in dry ingredients, and then remaining 3/4 cup chocolate chips. Pour into pan, then sprinkle pecans on top. Bake for 18-25 minutes (toothpick will be sticky with crumbs); cool in pan on rack.

Go check out the browniebabe event over at Once Upon a Tart!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Something New...World Peace Cookies

These cookies are new for me, at least! I have been reading about them for ages now, and finally got to try them out. I just got Dorie's Baking From My Home to Yours cookbook and this was the first recipe I that I put to use. (Dorie Greenspan is also new to me, believe it or not!)

Just like everyone has said, these cookies are AMAZING. My plan had been to take them into work, but immediately after baking them I got a horrible cold. So rather than going in to work, I have spent the last two days laying on my couch feeling like death warmed over, eating a steady stream of World Peace Cookies. (Actually, I did venture out long enough to track down some hushpuppies, then I returned to my couch and my cookies). It should not be a surprise to anyone that I STILL feel like crap. And I have no cookies left.

Usually, after I violate myself with some sort of treat, I never want to see the thing again. But instead, I am actually mourning that I have none left! I kept reading about the "sandy texture", and didn't know what that meant - I guess I still don't exactly, but the texture of these cookies is soft and lovely. I like them with biggish chunks of dark chocolate, to contrast with the soft cookie. Then every once in a while you get a wave of salty goodness, and maybe even a tiny crunch when you find a bit of fleur de sel. Yum! I will be making these again soon, only I will find a way to share next time (maybe).

World Peace Cookies, or Korovas, from Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 11 Tbsp butter at room temperature
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 5 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used really dark chocolate)

Mix together flour, cocoa and baking soda.

Beat butter until soft, then add sugars, salt and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients and mix slowly until just combined; mix in chocolate. Do not overmix this dough. Divide dough into two portions, and form into logs of 1 1/2 inch diameter. Chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment. Slice dough into 1/2" thick cookies, squishing back on any bits of dough that fall off (the dough is crumbly). Bake for exactly 12 minutes even though cookies will look underdone, and cool on baking sheet on wire rack.

Be sure to check out the roundup for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge, which should be posted soon.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Granny Purse #2

Like my other "purses", this one has been residing on my closet doorknob. But it was still very satisfying and very quick to make! I used the Fat-Bottom Bag pattern by Julie Holetz in Debbie Stoller's book, the Happy Hooker. I used a bunch of cheapy acrylic yarn I had sitting around, so I am not even sure what it was...

Monday, May 7, 2007

Macaroni and Cheese

I have been planning on participating in the Taste of Yellow event at winosandfoodies ever since I first read about it. (Like everyone else who commented after Barbara's announcement, cancer has made plenty of appearances within my immediate circle lately). But suddenly it was May 7th and I had not done my entry! I had pretty much given up on pulling anything together when I developed an enormous craving for mac and cheese - very convenient. So here it is.

With the exception of breadcrumbs, I followed the recipe to the letter, so I will just give an abbreviated version here.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese (only slightly modified) from The New Best Recipe from Cook's Illustrated.

- 1 pound macaroni
- salt
- 5 Tbsp butter
- 6 Tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 5 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 8 ounces monteray jack cheese, grated
- 8 ounces extra, extra, extra sharp cheddar, grated
- panko breadcrumbs

Using a large pot, cook pasta in well-salted water until tender. Drain in collander and set aside. In the now-empty pot, heat the butter over medium-high until foaming; add flour, mustard and cayenne, and whisk for about a minute, until color deepens. Continue whisking while gradually adding the milk; whisk until mixture is brought to full boil. Turn down heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes, until mixture is the consistency of heavy cream. Remove from heat. Add cheese and 1 tsp salt and stir until mixed. Add back pasta and stir over med-low heat until well heated, about 6 minutes. Pour into 9x13 pan (or ramekins). Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs and place under broiler until browned.

Go see what A Taste of Yellow is all about!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Chocolate Peanut Butter-Caramel Macaroon Tarts

I think you must have to REALLY like coconut to enjoy these macaroon tarts. I got the recipe for the tart shells from Donna Hay's book, Off the Shelf. I think that even with my pan modifications, they turned out "right". Unfortunately, it wasn't until I was sampling my first bite that I remembered that I don't like macaroons. Shoot. However, the whole point to making these tarts in the first place was to find out what happens when you mix peanut butter with sweetened condensed milk. Turns out it is every bit as good as I had imagined. I am already thinking up tastier ways to use it (ways that don't involve macaroons, for example), so you can expect to see more of that here soon. But for anyone who is interested, I will go ahead and add the recipe for the macaroons too...

Macaroon Tarts (from Donna Hay's Off the Shelf):

- 3 egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 cups desiccated coconut

Oven to 280 degrees. According to the original recipe, you should grease six 3 1/2 inch tart pans with removable bottoms. I had none of those sitting around, so I lined the bottoms of six ramekins with parchment cupcake papers. (That left me with tons of left-over crust, which I attempted to make use of in various ways, none of which succeeded.) Mix all the ingredients together and press into the tart pans (or ramekins). Bake for 25-30 (or 50) minutes, until firm and turning golden. Allow to cool.

Peanut Butter Caramel:

- 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter

Mix together over medium heat until well-combined and the consistency becomes thin enough to pour (about 3 minutes). Pour into tarts and return to 280 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, until bubbles appear in caramel. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Remove tarts from pans (or ramekins.) Make ganache.


- 4 ounces chopped chocolate
- 4 ounces heavy cream.

Heat cream in pan, add chocolate and stir until melted and combined. Pour over tarts. Chill until set.

Granny Purse #1 (with tasty pink lining)

For the record, I don't think I have ever used a "purse" a day in my life. But for some reason I keep finding myself making purses. When they are completed they generally live on the doorknob of my closet. This one is no exception.

I am pretty sure I chose this combination of green and blue because my grandma had a couch made with these exact colors. The yarn is Lion's Homespun. It is a slightly scary acrylic yarn that was perfect for this project. I can't remember where I found the pink innards, but I couldn't resist adding that in too.

I used the pattern for the "Chinese Charm Bag" from Debbie Stoller's Stitch 'n Bitch book. I changed the dimensions a bit, but otherwise followed the pattern. It was basically knit in the round, then the handles and lining were sewn on.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

View from the Olympic Sculpture Park

I finally made it down to the sculpture park the other day. It's nice to have such a wide open space right in downtown. It was windy and feeling a bit wintry again (considering that it is MAY, I do not believe I should be wearing a scarf). Still, it felt good to be wandering around outside.