Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Painting Smock for a Seven-Year-Old Horse Fan

What were you doing at 5:00 AM on Christmas morning? I was sewing this smock. Which I just finished, barely in time to run off to our Christmas gathering.

My niece found this fabric in my mom's old stashes. The pattern came from Bend-the-Rules Sewing, by Amy Karol. I think it took about an hour and a half for me to finish (that includes the requisite 20-30 minutes cursing at my sewing machine while I try to thread it.)

I have no wrapping paper and I'm leaving in an hour. Oops.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Kitchen Sink Frittata

Another left-over post from December...I am mainly posting this (so late) as a reminder to myself: This is easy to make! And was good for taking in my lunches!

Okay - that's all I have to say on that...

- 9 eggs
- milk
- grated Parmesan cheese
- roasted potatoes
- roasted onions
- frozen spinach
- salt and pepper

8x8 baking dish, lightly greased. Oven to 350 degrees.

Apple Pie

Whoever says baking a pie is easy is lying. Or maybe they just have a reliable oven. This pie spent 2 hours baking. Every time I checked my oven thermometer, it was 100 degrees off in either direction, so I was constantly trying to get it close to what the recipe called for. Also, the crust was done 20 minutes after the pie went into the oven, which didn't help much.

I used the apple pie recipe from Baking Illustrated. They described a pie with good apple flavor (yes). They also said the filling would spread because they didn't want to dull the flavors with butter or thickener (true). In making this pie, I discovered the following:
1) I like pie filling to be thick
2) I like lots of spices

I used a mixture of granny smith apples and gala, and I really liked the combination. Next time I will use more granny smith, and less of the gala, because the gala was apple sauce by the time the granny smith was finished cooking. But I liked having the flavors of both.

Also, I used a store bought pie crust, which I will NEVER do again. I used Trader Joe's, and there was nothing bad about it, it just didn't compare to Martha's all-butter pate brisee, which I will definitely take the time to make the next time I make a pie.

This is a picture of Mt. Baker that I got out the car window on the drive home from Vancouver. For some reason I am quite fond of it:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Peppermint Cookies & Cream Brownies

Thank you, Baking Bites! I saw these brownies there, and they immediately went on my Must Try List. I have been a sucker for Peppermint Jo-Jo's since I tried them last year, and nothing is better than a brownie...

I pretty much followed the recipe to the letter, but I will copy an abbreviated version here. They were every bit as fabulous as I was hoping - I especially liked how the slightly salty cookie bits contrasted with the brownie. Next time (there will definitely be a next time!) I will experiment with less sugar, because they were tooth-achingly sweet. I will also try adding a bit of peppermint extract to the brownie batter, just because you can't have too much peppermint in my book.

Peppermint Cookies & Cream Brownies, from Baking Bites

- 1 cup butter
- 6 oz unsweetened chocolate
- 3 cups sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt (original recipe called for 1/2 tsp)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 1 2/3 cups flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 18 Peppermint Jo-Jo's, roughly chopped, plus 4 more to sprinkle on top

Oven to 350F. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment, lightly grease if using foil.
Melt together butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, salt and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Stir in flour and cocoa powder. Stir in Peppermint Jo-Jo's. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle 4 additional chopped cookies over batter.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with crumbs.

Here are the brownies packed up and ready to LEAVE THE PREMISES. Otherwise I will end up in a sugar coma - there is no hope for restraint with these in my apartment, so out they go.

PS - These brownies are definitely in the fudgy camp (as opposed to chewy or cakey).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sorry...more brussels sprouts

A couple of weeks ago while eating out, I had some amazing brussels sprouts. They were roasted with bleu cheese and hazelnuts. I wanted to try duplicating them at home, but decided I needed to use up some left-over goat cheese I had in my fridge. It was good, and definitely repeat-worthy. (But bleu cheese would have been better.)

I tossed the sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then spread them face down on a baking sheet with the hazelnuts. I stuck them in a 400 degree oven until they were done, then scattered the goat cheese on top.

PS - It snowed this weekend! (In case you are wondering, that is unusual for Seattle.)