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Archive for June, 2011

I have been thinking a lot about where I want to go with this blog and with baking — and I have come up with some ideas and goals that I want to achieve by the end of the year.

1. Support local produce by using fresh fruit, vegetables, etc from near by Farm Stands. Maybe even eggs? Any farm interested in starting some thing here? I buy eggs from you and you also get to try some yum yums? That sounds like a win/win.

2. I also want to use some fresher ingredients — I definitely need to revisit Bread of Life in Presque Isle. They have some amazing organic ingredients that I really want to give a try. I have only gotten catnip and soda (mmm, pumpkin pie soda with ice cream is absolutely amazing) from there. Definitely want to try using their flour and even different types of flour and create some gluten free baked goods.

3. Have an “open house” so to speak where I make a bunch of crazy arrangements of baked goods and people can stop by and test taste and give their feedback on the goodies and also on the experience.  I am planning this for maybe at the end of August/beginning of September. Anyone interested in participating? =)

4. Special somebody in your life and you want to make your own custom cake/their favorite dessert but only problem is you are not really a baker? I want to help you out! So instead of relying on a box mix, I can help you make everything from scratch. I hope to help at least one person within the year….besides, things test better when you put a little bit of yourself into it.

5. Make at least one baked good once a WEEK. Not Month. Not year. Week. And at least one. Special occasions may warrant more.

Those are my first 5 goals. What do you think? What would you like to see more of? What would you be interested in?

Also, I got to try something I have been wanting to try for a really long time. Put Cookie Dough inside of a cupcake. I told you. I have been getting a lot of inspiration from The Girl Who Ate Everything. This recipe is very quick and simple (especially since it uses mixes. I KNOW.Don’t look at me like that. The cookie dough is homemade, though). And it gave me the cookie dough recipe I have been searching for! Though I will probably make a couple of changes the next time I make it. which will probably be soon since I have some condensed milk that I need to use up soon. I am thinking… Cookie Dough Cheesecake? maybe? Shouldn’t be interesting regardless. I definitely need to start experimenting more and taking chances. Anyway here are a few shots of my Cookie Dough Cupcake adventure…

Look at the beautiful army of colorful cupcakes! This is after they have cooled completely from the oven (about 20 minutes) and I have cut little circles into them. Some of them look a little triangular. Oh well. Basically you just need a place to shove the cookie dough in. Gently. Or else you will tear your cupcake. Which I did to one. It’s ok. It ended up in a better place… really.

Mmm, filled to the brim with cookie dough. Do it quickly. The warmer it gets, the stickier it gets. And if you pull your hand away too fast, you will take the cookie dough and part of the cupcake with you. Though feel free to lick your fingers after all the cupcakes are filled…

I am not yet very fancy when it comes to frosting. I added mini chocolate chips to try and make up for that. Not like it matters. They will be gone quickly!

Mmm. Cookie Dough. And finally something with frosting! Enjoy!

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You know you love baking when you’re oven is not in baking order and you actually suffer from withdrawals. Seriously. There were some mornings I felt jittery and shaky and even a bit light headed and all I could think of was all the things I could NOT bake that day. It was absolutely terrible. I could almost smell the sweet aromas of cake and cookies wafting from the kitchen… and then I would wake up to another day without baking. Things were definitely looking down on the baking front after I injured my knee — which unfortunately is still not doing as well as it should be doing. Now would probably be a good time to get it checked out further, huh? I just absolutely loathe doctors… but that is another story. So without being able to bake, I looked to other ways to use my kitchen. One of the things that came from being oven-less was these pulled pork sandwiches that I got over at The Girl Who Ate Everything‘s Blog (check her out. She has been a lot of inspiration to me lately). I took her recipe and Kevin and I decided to add a bit of a twist to it. Instead of putting the pork on a regular old hamburger bun, we decided to sandwich it with garlic bread. YUM!

Melty cheese...Look at the melty cheese. And it was soo easy to make. 3 ingredients for the pulled pork. Can be slow cooked or even cooked in a big pot on the stove at a very low temperature.

3 Ingredient Pulled Pork by The Girl Who Ate Everything

2 pounds of pork tenderloin

1 can of root beer

1 bottle of bbq sauce (I used Baby Ray’s because it is my absolute favorite)

Put the tenderloin and the can of root beer in the slow cooker (or pot) and put on medium heat (for a slow cooker) or warm (on a stove). In a slow cooker, it normally takes 6 hours.On the stove top, it only took us about 3. We occasionally would take off the lid and smash the meat with a potato masher to help shred it. Once the pork is completely shredded and cooked, drain the root beer and add bbq sauce. Let it warm up a little bit more and it is ready to eat!! Then if you want to do like what Kevin and I did… bake up a loaf of garlic bread (we just got a frozen one from the grocery store) and use that to sandwich your pork. Kevin and I also added some Muenster Cheese because we like cheese…  It made quite a few meals for us and lasted about 3 days for the both of us…

Complete with macaroni salad, corn, and some chips. Enjoy.

Now, luckily this is not the only thing I have to share with you this time! Because finally! Over the weekend, I got my oven. My wonderful fiance cleaned the oven out for me so I could bake (he was very supportive of my withdrawals, and he was hoping I would make something out of his bananas… I know some of you are snickering at that one!). Truth is, I absolutely hate bananas. I hate the texture. I don’t like the mushy. I just do not like bananas. And also at one point in my youth, they tried to kill me. Not purposely… at least I do not think so. But I was 3 and eating my at the time favorite fruit… until I choked! I saw my short life flash before my eyes before I was able to cough it up by some miracle. After that, I could never eat a banana. Tragic but true. I remember that moment like it was just yesterday. Kind of. Some of the details are a little fuzzy. But I definitely know it was a banana. Unfortunately in this relationship I have with the Love, we have to make some compromises. And one of them is the fact that I have to stare at some of these cruel creations because he LOVES them. Well maybe not love since they seem to stick around… and get thrown out. Poor bananas. But not this time around. I decided to do something about it… I MADE THESE!

(Once again, excuse the terrible picture taking… I may need to hire a photographer just for my baked goods…). And what are these you are asking? Only one of the best things I have had in awhile (and that is saying something. Remember, I am the girl who hates bananas…). These are Banana Muffins. But not just any banana muffins… they have a secret ingredient!

Guess what those are? raisins? mice turds? NO! None of the above. The correct answer is MINI CHOCOLATE CHIPS. They are just so cute.. I couldn’t resist. And they added just enough sweetness without being overpoweringly chocolatey (since the Love does not love chocolate as much as I do… but he was nice to loan me his hand to model this amazing muffin). The best part is that this was pretty super easy to make.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

You will need:

3 bananas (mashed)

3/4 cups sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup butter melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I actually did just a couple of shakes. I am not a HUGE fan of nutmeg, and prefer the cinnamon flavor more).

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Topping

1/3 cup of brown sugar (packed)

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

2 tablespoons of all purpose flour

2 tablespoons of butter

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line the muffin trays (should make about 10).

2. In a small bowl (or I actually use a sheet of wax paper), mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

3. In a mixing bowl, mix together the bananas and sugar. Then add the egg and beat together until it is mixed. Do not over do it. Add the butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix together. With the mixer on a slow setting, add in the dry ingredients from step 2 until everything is moist. Once again, do not over beat the ingredients.

4. Fill the muffin liners until almost to the top… maybe like 7/8ths of the way.

5. In another bowl, mix the topping ingredients together. I used a fork to press the butter into the sugar and flour. Do this until it is crumbly and the butter is pretty evenly throughout. Sprinkle this on top of your muffin batter.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

7. ENJOY!

My Army of MuffinsHopefully next time… I will have something with frosting! :p

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This weekend was… pretty insane. I had to travel to the Great North to celebrate Father’s Day and also go to an appointment at the torture chamber orthodontist. My first night at my folks was pretty crazy. It started out normal enough, but then once we were all asleep a squeaky intruder entered! The way my mom was screaming, I thought we were being robbed! or someone was staring creepily into her bedroom! So I jumped out of bed like an ungraceful gazelle and heard  a rather disgusting “SNAP” as my knee cap went into my leg. Gimping to the hallway, I look into my mom’s room (she is screaming still) to see a bat fluttering around the room. Mom is able to get out of bed and we shut the bat in. I then proceed to sit down as I get hit with a wave of nausea… and Mom calls the police because she isn’t going to catch the bat and I can’t gimp after it.

Long story short, bat was killed by the police. =( Knee is not broken, and the late night ER people… were not very helpful at all. I mean seriously. The doctor was spinning around in his office chair, talking with the nurses, and just killing time and making me wait longer. NO ONE ELSE WAS THERE. And we were still there for over an hour. Seriously. And his leg exercises were kinda.. pointless. Dude, my leg can not bend all the way or straighten. But all he does is poke the side of my leg… Alrighty then. So I have been gimping around since then.

Father’s Day — we brought my Dad a filet mignon, baked potato with cheddar cheese and bacon bits, and sauteed mushrooms at the Veteran’s Home. He ate most of the steak and mushrooms, but not much of his potato. He was very happy with his meal. It’s been a long time since he has had steak. It made me happy to see him have such an appetite. There was time where he wasn’t eating at all. They actually had to insert a feeding tube into his stomach. Conversations are still hard, and he has a difficult time expressing himself. I hope everyone that has a living, talking, awesome Dad in their lives really appreciated them this Sunday. This Father’s Day was really hard, but it was a blessing to still have my Dad alive and being able to eat and talk. He may not remember it at all… but it is a moment I am going to treasure. But all you folks out there… APPRECIATE YOUR DADS!!! Seriously. Even if he is a buzzkill, he makes awkward jokes, makes you want to cry because his advice is right on but you do not want to admit he is right, makes you dress in more appropriate clothing, yells at you because he is/was scared that your silly mistake might have hurt you or cost you your life but he only cares so much… do not SLAM the door in his face. Give him a hug. Tell him thank you. Tell him you love him. Because you just never know when it is going to be too late. Got it? Good.

On my way home, I ended up getting caught in a check point where border control was making sure no one was… not from the United States? And checking for drugs. Luckily, I am not an illegal Canadian nor am I a drug lord. I am sure this blog may be more interesting if I was…. But too bad. You’re stuck with me!

And unfortunately still, no oven and with my injury… it is going to be hard to clean it for awhile. So no frosty treats at the moment either. Next blog post! And hopefully, by next blog post, I will have a sexier blog. Maybe? Who knows. I’m a procrastinator and easily distracted. I will figure this thing out. Seriously. Someday…

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If anyone can tell you about depression, I definitely can. I have had my fair share of ups and downs, side ways, slanted ways, never gonna see the sun ways… It’s tough. Definitely tough. Not knowing if it is even worth getting out of bed because really, what’s the point? Just going to be the same thing. The same ache. The same pains. The same “I bring no good to the world.” And it sucks. Definitely. And it is not easy to get out of the slump, despite what anyone says. The people who are like “JUST BE HAPPY” well, don’t know what true depression is. It’s like seriously, if I could be JUST HAPPY, why wouldn’t I be? Some people think it is  just for attention (and some people do it just for attention, which is an entirely different problem and a different blog, I am sure). So please don’t confuse the attention wanters with the people who are truly depressed. It is a condition that is felt deep down into the bones and there is no quick turn around for it… but there are some things you can do to help! And I want to help! What’s the point in starting a blog if you aren’t seeking to help somebody? (yourself included). So first things first…

Start with these cookies…

 

No Bake Cookies with Reece Pieces. Absolutely fantastic (much unlike my photography skills. Photography skills = 0, No Bake Cookies = 10). And something about the peanut butter and the chocolate… helps in destroying the gloom. Now my first baked good for my blog would have normally been something HUGE AND FANTASTIC, but I just moved into a new amazing apartment with the manlove and the oven still needs to be cleaned before chemistry experiments can start taking place. Right now any experiments that take place in that oven are going to cause a nuclear explosion — or at least kill off most of humanity that wishes to enjoy a lovely cupcake on a nice summer eve…But luckily for me, some things can be done without an oven! And these no bakes were just the trick. Also, they are budget friendly when you only have 10 dollars to live off of until Thursday…And they can feed a crowd. Seriously. 24 cookies. Not shabby but they are addicting. I ate 4…In 1 night. I don’t want to talk about it…

But you see, this is a double win for me because not only does chocolate and peanut butter help to fight the brain demons, it also allows me to bake (or at least be in the kitchen making something), and that is my passion. It’s always important to find your passion. And sometimes it takes a huge life changing event to help you find your passion… In my case, it was my dad being diagnosed with cancer. Not just any cancer. Brain cancer. Terminal. Back in November. (I know what you are thinking “your dad has terminal brain cancer and you are talking about baking?” why yes, yes I am because cancer is one thing you can’t let consume you and everything you do). To help out my parents, I decided to bake cookie tins for Christmas. I always loved the thought of baking a bunch of different baked goods (my mom used to do it ALL the time but has cut down over the years). I loved being in the kitchen, making my own recipes, having things come out just PERFECT… loving the reactions. Baking was an amazing distraction and I also felt like I was doing something GOOD AND PRODUCTIVE. And I believe that is important when dealing with a life event such as a family member being diagnosed with an illness… or when struggling with your own issues.. you need to find something that makes you feel good but that is also productive. And guess what? You’re going to make mistakes and sometimes you aren’t going to be able to do anything at all but cry in bed all day… and that’s fine. You’re allowed those days… they just can’t be EVERYDAY because in the end, you’re just being your own worse enemy. To me, baking and writing helps give me a purpose. What gives you yours? Gardening? Exercising? Fixing a car? Going somewhere new? What makes you feel like a kid again?

To me these do…

Quick and Easy No Bake Cookies With Reese Pieces.

Recipe:

1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)

2 cups of sugar

1/2 cup of milk

3 cups quick oats (any brand. these were made from a generic brand from Shaws)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tablespoons of peanut butter

1/2 cup of reese pieces

Instructions:

1. In a large mixing boil, put in the quick oats, chocolate chips and peanut butter. Set aside.

2. In a medium sized sauce pan, put in the sugar, butter and milk. Set the burner to medium/medium-high. Stir frequently. When it reaches a rolling boil (bubbles and becomes all frothy), let it boil for about a minute. STIRRING LOTS. If you do not stir, it will burn.

3. After a minute, pour the sugar mixture in the mixing bowl with the oats, chocolate chips, etc. STIR. While stirring, add in the vanilla. Once everything is well mixed, you can now add in the Reese Pieces.

4. Put spoonfuls of the mixture onto cookie sheets covered in waxed paper (or just on waxed paper!). Let cool and harden.

5. EAT AND ENJOY. Easy enough. Perfect for any occasion.

 

 

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