It Really Is Good Frosting

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This morning I watched the first episode of Gravity on Netflix. Judging by Ian’s meh reaction, I’ll be finishing the other nine by myself, but I enjoyed it.

Anyway, in the first few minutes, the lead actress tries to commit suicide by codeine-laced chocolate cake. It was a good-looking cake, and she cut a slice and just picked it up to eat it. The craving switch flipped, and I needed chocolate cake. Hold the opiates, please.

So we went to the grocery store for milk and flour and other various and sundry items, and came home to bake a chocolate cake.

I used Hershey’s recipe for the cake, cutting the cocoa back to a heaping half cup. But I knew I still wouldn’t have enough cocoa for chocolate frosting as well, so I found the best frosting The Pioneer Woman’s ever had. It really is that good, light and fluffy and not overly sweet.

Ian agreed when I suggested we not wait for the cake to completely cool, so I cut us each a slice and dolloped frosting on top. Before making dinner.

Sooo good.

And now, after dinner and yes, more cake, I can hardly move. Tomorrow, more cake!


Face Stuffing

Do any of you ever try my recipes? I was wondering about that this morning, as I mixed up some apple cinnamon raisin mini muffins.

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I also thought about what a good investment that mini muffin tin has proven to be recently. That’s probably because I only have six regular size muffin papers left, and a zippy bag full of tiny ones. Dozens of muffins have been consumed in the past week.

Mini muffins do have an added bonus of less waste when you have a child who insists you DON’T CUT IT MOM!! This demand must always be delivered at full volume, accompanied by splayed fingers and shaking arms, in preparation for a screaming fit if the damage has already been done.

What I really found amusing, though, was considering how young me would have been horrified at my cooking methods now. I used to be practically paralyzed with fear that something I made wouldn’t come out right. I measured and scooped and sifted and stirred until I was blue in the face.

I made muffins this morning with a bowl and a coffee spoon. I didn’t measure one single ingredient. And I spent not one second worrying about impending disaster, because I knew it would be okay, there’d be tasty muffins when I was finished.

I think I was that way because of my early kitchen training. My mom was pretty particular about measuring. Don’t scoop the flour with the measuring cup, use the back of a knife to level the top, measure liquids at eye level.

Now I can scoop, shake, and guess all I want, because it’s my kitchen, and my food, and my family.

I’m sure she was simply trying to make sure I had good fundamentals before I began experimenting, but I don’t think she ever realized how impressionable I was, and still am. Some things just stick with me.

For example, I vaguely remember some comment from my mom explaining the importance of hand washing. What I got out of it is that dirt is worm eggs. Dirt is made of worm eggs, and if it gets in your mouth you will grow worms in your tummy, and that will lead to all kinds of horrible things. Ian loves this one.

Hm, I started with muffins, but finished with worm eggs. Forgive me?


Brown Sugar Cinnamon Banana Potato Bread

I think I was doing this to myself with stress. I can be such an asshole. I will try to write about it, but I can’t make any promises.

Anyway, I woke up this morning…joyful. Now, I don’t use that word lightly, but I truly feel absolutely amazing today. I looked at Ian and I smiled. I helped my parents pack up and I was happy. I watched the cats play fighting and I got the warm fuzzies. It’s freakish.

But I am embracing it. And so I give you brown sugar cinnamon banana potato bread. That’s a mouthful, maybe I should just go with banana potato bread.

I’ve been planning to make a banana bread for weeks now, but haven’t. Today was the day, but also the day to use leftovers, hence the potato. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and it worked out well.

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about 1 cup ripe banana
about 1 cup mashed potato
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

Cinnamon sugar mix for topping

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mash together bananas, potato, butter, and egg until well combined. Add remaining ingredients, mixing after each. You may need more or less flour, depending on the amount of banana and potato. It should finish slightly thicker than cake batter. Scrape out into a greased 8×4 loaf pan and tap to settle. Sprinkle about 2 tsp cinnamon sugar mixture on top, and bake 50-60 minutes, or until golden and a knife in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for ten minutes, then turn out on rack to completely cool.


Potato Bread

I don’t know about you, but I think potatoes, bread, and baking are all pretty darn awesome. See, I remembered that I promised something awesome today!

Tonight we’re having a peppercorn pork roast, and I had some good slightly garlicky mashed potatoes leftover. We haven’t had potato bread in a while, so here we go!

The first time I make something new, I look around until I find a recipe that sounds good. Sometimes I make it that way the first time, sometimes not. The first time I made potato bread, I used this recipe. It’s a pretty easy recipe, and I had good results with it.

I am, however, completely unable to make the same bread recipe twice. I tweak every single time. The only thing that stays the same is that I never add salt to yeast dough. I find I get a better rise without it.

The mashed potatoes I’m using were mashed with cream cheese, butter, cheddar cheese, and a little bit of Papa John’s garlic butter, because that has been lurking in the pantry for months. I love cream cheese in my mashed potatoes instead of milk, because they turn out thicker and creamier.

Now, the recipe!

  • 1 1/3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • about 5 cups flour
  • When I’m not making a sweet bread, I usually use mayo instead of eggs. Mostly because I love eggs, and we run out a lot. If this sounds absolutely disgusting to you, you can use one large egg instead.

    Combine the warm water and yeast in your measuring cup and set aside.

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the first three ingredients until well blended. Add honey and sugar, then the warm water/yeast mixture. Mix by hand or on low speed until combined.

    20120128-175811.jpgI got some shadows from my beaters, I didn’t drop anything funky in the batter, I swear.

    With your mixer on low speed, beat in about three cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough is barely sticky. Turn it out onto your floured countertop.

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    Knead in 1 1/2 to 2 cups of flour, until the dough is nice and smooth and warmed up by your hands.

    If you have a knead setting on your mixer, of course that’s fine, but I need the exercise since I’m not tossing hundreds of pizzas a day anymore. Gotta keep those arms defined!

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    Grease your large mixing bowl and put the dough back in it, turning it to grease the top. Cover with a towel and put it in a warm place to rise until doubled, about an hour.

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    Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead 4-5 times to get the bubbles out. This amount will fill two loaf pans, but I always bake potato bread in my favorite round casserole dish. If I could only have one dish to bake with, it would be this one. You can also shape it and bake it on a cookie sheet.

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    Cover with a towel and let rise again until doubled, about an hour.

    Preheat your oven to 350°. You can brush the top with melted butter, or you can use a beaten egg white for some shine. Cook for 40 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Turn it out of the pan to cool, and enjoy!

    20120128-205811.jpgIf you’re like me, and everything has to be just so, leave your bread upside down on the rack. Then you have evenly spaced guidelines for slicing.

    20120128-205859.jpgMy oven cooks terribly unevenly, I have to turn everything around in the middle of cooking.

    20120128-224606.jpgI can’t wait for dinnertime!! And this is going to make awesome grilled cheese sandwiches tomorrow!!


    Holiday Cooking, and The Fish

    My favorite thing about most holidays is the meal. I love cooking, and while I don’t necessarily need an excuse to make a big fancy meal, I feel a little less silly when there’s any reason besides simply dinnertime. So, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthdays, Labor Day, Presidents Day, whatever, I’m excited because I get to make something special. Okay, maybe not Presidents Day, but I’ll start a tradition for it next year!

    We’d originally planned to have a big fancy meal, but when I was feeling down the other day I suggested that I just cook the ham and some rolls and we eat it in bed watching movies all day.

    Yeah, I couldn’t really do that.

    So there’s a pie crust cooling on the stove to be filled with chocolatey goodness.

    20111224-143601.jpgNot my best effort, but in my defense, I’ve never baked an empty pie crust before.

    As I finished up throwing some leftovers into another crust for a pot pie dinner, I realized I hadn’t looked at a cookbook in a while. So I got down my favorite from when I was a little girl, the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook. This was one of the two standby books I turned to for entertainment, mainly because of the 94 glossy pages of almost every kind of dish you’d want (the other standby was actually a dictionary, but that’s another story).

    I took my book to the living room, and paged through the yumminess until I got to The Fish. And I just had to tell you about it.

    20111224-144710.jpgYour cookbooks are wrinkly and water damaged too, right? At least, the good ones.

    My mother made The Fish when I was nine years old, and scarred me for life.

    Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a wee bit.

    But the horror!

    My dad has been an amateur fisherman for as long as I can remember, so it’s not like I never saw a whole fish before. Heck, we lived on a sailboat until I was three years old! I don’t know why none of that prepared me for the ghastliness of this poor red snapper, lying in his Pyrex coffin, staring me down.

    I’d seen plenty of fish before, dead fish, live fish, cleaned fish, filleted fish, but I’d never seen a whole cooked fish. It was the eye that got to me. Cloudy but still shiny, sinister in the way it wanted to follow me around the room, like a creepy painting.

    I did not eat The Fish. I bore the derision of my mother as best I could and went to bed hungry.

    For a long time after that I was unable to partake in any meal that could look at me. I’m a south Louisiana girl to the core, and I couldn’t even peel my own crawfish for years, because of course, they still had eyes. And they looked at me.

    I grew out of that eventually, though I’m sure I will never bake a whole fish.

    I leave you with my first chocolate pie:

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    And with my best wishes to you to enjoy your Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or Boxing Day, or whatever it is that is there to be enjoyed.


    Cheesy Biscuit Deliciousness

    Thursday night I was craving some cheesy biscuit goodness. And so, of course, I turned to my trusty friend Google. I found some good recipes, but as usual, I was missing some key ingredients. I’ve never had cream of tartar in this house, and we’ve been here six years, but it does kinda suck to be out of garlic powder. Anyway, here’s my adaptation that turned out Yummy with a capital Y. You can easily throw in some garlic powder and increase the goodness by a factor of ten. I’m making them again tonight. Still out of garlic powder though.

    Cheesy Drop Biscuits

    2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

    1 Tbsp baking powder

    1 tsp sugar

    1/4 tsp paprika

    1/4 tsp ground double superfine mustard

    1/2 tsp Tony Chachere’s seasoning

    1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temp

    1/4 cup cream cheese, softened

    1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

    1 1/4 cups milk

    Topping

    1 stick butter, melted

    1/2 tsp salt

    1/2 tsp Tony’s

    Preheat oven to 450°. Combine first six ingredients. Blend in cream cheese with pastry cutter or fork. Stir in cheese, then add butter and milk. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased 9×13 casserole pan. Combine topping ingredients and  brush or spoon half over biscuits. Bake for 20-25 minutes. When they’re done, brush the remaining topping on them. Makes 10 palm-sized biscuits.

    Yummy baked tastiness