Wednesday, March 28, 2012

BBA #41: Whole-Wheat Bread

The forty-first bread of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is whole wheat bread. This bread makes me appreciate again the art of bread baking. This whole wheat bread utilizes a soaker and a poolish made the day before to help bring out flavors in the bread.

The bread was good. It was a dense hearty bread that complimented dinner great and then the leftovers went great with eggs the next morning. I am hesitant to say it was a favorite though as it was just missing something. Reinhart's intro nailed it for me as he talked about how whole-grain bread bakers are challenged to attain a "crumb network that opens up both flavor and texture". That is what was missing from my bread. The crumb texture was just too tense and dry. The flavor was good but that's to my palate. I'm intrigued at how I could improve it. So, perhaps my hesitancy with this bread is not the formula but simply the bread baker's skill (that's me!) at making this bread. Another thing to ponder is the ingredients..... the whole wheat flour I used was simply from the bulk section. Perhaps I should try becoming a bit of a flour snob and search out some premium flour and give the bread a try again just to see.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Modern Baker: Tart Lime Wafers

I've enjoyed many of the cookies I've baked with the Modern Baker group and I was so very excited about these tart lime wafers. I love tart! But, sadly they didn't turn out. I'll totally admit to baker error as the cause!
My dough was way too dry. I tried to correct it on the board but that turned quite messy!! In the end, the dough was better than the pic above but I should have returned it to the mixer and worked on it there instead of on the board. 

These cookies are made by forming the dough into logs and then cutting thin slices off. I like that these can be prepared ahead of time and then you can just slice off when you're ready for cookies. The dough is much like a nice shortbread with the zest of two limes in the dough and the zest of one more lime in the sugar coating around the dough. Like I stated earlier I love lime and the hint of lime is nice, however it was too light for me. I'd have preferred to put some of the lime juice in the dough to give it a nice tart flavor. When I see the word "tart" my mouth starts to water and I think of puckering up. The hint of lime from the zest just didn't satisfy my tart craving here and the issue I had with the dough resulted in dry cookies. I might have to work on tweaking these with lime juice in the dough though because I think there is the base for a cookie I'd love here!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rainbow Cupcakes

Our week has been all about rainbows! We're trying to trap a leprechaun so we can get his pot of gold and everyone knows leprechauns love rainbows. So, rainbow cupcakes are in order!
 I did it much like the Rainbow Cake I made a couple of years ago. Each girl helped mix a color.
And then we layered the batter into the cupcake liners.
And decorated!
Green icing with my "grass" Wilton tip.  The girls were not patient enough for adult decorating though so we made loopy grass, set in our rainbows (sour gummy rainbows from the candy aisle) and added clouds.
 Some rainbows needed a lot of clouds!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

17 St. Patrick's Day Pictures!

 Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Look what the leprechauns did it our hair last night!!!

St. Paddy's wreath 

Rainbow garland 

Shamrock jello jigglers! 

Preschool Party Fun 

Shamrock Hair for the Party 

 St. Paddy's Eve. Leprechaun traps set! Will we catch a leprechaun and get his pot of gold???

 We awoke to.... lots of mischief!!!

 Leprechaun footprints and shamrock glitter!

And silliness all over the house! 

 Oh goodness!

We didn't catch a leprechaun but they did leave us little treats. 

The leprechauns also left breakfast!
Rainbows! 
(The leprechaun assistant worked on the rainbow and forgot the blueberries for the blue. Not sure this leprechaun will get promoted if he can't remember all the colors in the rainbow!!)

And green milk! 

Besides the green hair, the leprechauns also gave each of us a shamrock tattoo in the night.

 All our stuffed animals in the closet?! 
Silly leprechauns!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A couple people asked me to share all we did, so here's the full list.
  • Leprechaun traps St. Paddy's eve.
  • Footprints and shamrock glitter
  • Streamers throughout house
  • Toilet water green
  • Chairs on tables
  • Stuffed animals crammed in closet
  • Picture frames and clocks down and upside down
  • Green milk, green pancake batter left for breakfast
  • Rainbow fruit left of breakfast
  • Little basket of goodies: Gold coins (rollos), rainbow beans (skittles), rainbow hair bows, stickers, and shamrock necklace.
  • We all awoke to green streaks in hair and a shamrock tattoo.
Better hit Pinterest for ideas for next year!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

St Patrick's Lunches

It's time for some St. Patrick's inspiration in the lunches!

I noticed in putting this together that my kids are a bit obsessed with cantaloupe lately. Probably partly due to the fact we're all a bit sick of oranges and apples. Is it summer yet? Melon seemed like a nice change and they've been requesting it a lot lately.

Turkey and Cheese Shamrock Sandwich
Rainbow:Red and Orange bell pepper, broccoli, and mushroom.
Each girl got her favorite dressing for dipping.

 Very simple but still festive.
PB&J Shamrock sandwich
Gold Coin cantaloupe melon
Frozen peas

A Shamrock Skewered lunch!
Shamrock Cheese
Turkey and Olive on picks
Cantaloupe on picks
Pickle with Shamrock pick

Green tortellini with parmesan cheese
Cantaloupe with green umbrella
Shamrock jello jiggler

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Modern Baker: Honey Peanut Wafers

Cookies, bars, and biscotti is all I think about these days thanks to the Modern Bakers challenge. I was intrigued with these cookies because sometimes peanut butter cookies are on order instead of the classic chocolate chip. I really wanted to like these cookies. The ingredients are simple and I liked how they spread out into thin little wafers while baking. I also liked that the recipe used honey as I thought that would add a nice taste to them.

Unfortunately, these cookies weren't my favorite. They were only okay. But, I should admit that I'm not a huge peanut butter cookie fan anyway. If you love peanut butter cookies I'm sure these would be a welcome to try. They were just a little too blah-peanuty to me. I think I need my peanut butter cookies to have a little pizazz.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Baby Shower Punch

I had the joy of throwing my little sister a baby shower recently. We're welcoming another little girl into the family very soon! My girls are so excited for another cousin!

We made a simple and yummy punch with a fancy ice ring. The ice ring is made in a bundt pan and instead of freezing water, you freeze ginger ale which causes the ice ring to be more slushy as it melts instead of remaining a solid block of ice.
My sister is not a traditional girl and at first said, no games. But we found two game/activities that were a little different and sure made the shower extra fun. The first was this baby in ice decoration/game. Many people could find these little plastic babies disturbing on their own let alone after you've frozen them in ice, but the minute I saw them I knew my sister's slightly twisted humor would love it.
Each guest got a baby in ice and when you're baby became free you shouted, "my water broke". The guests thought it was hysterical!
A plastic baby in ice floating in your punch..... adorable or disturbing?

The other game was to make a baby out of playdoh. The guests received about 15 minutes to sculpt and then my sister chose the winner. Everyone got really into it and there were quite a few creative people at the shower!
The winning baby with gummy teddy bear.
Baby Shower Punch
Adapted From: Addapinch
Printable Recipe

Ice Ring
1 jar of maraschino cherries
1 Orange, peeled and sliced
6-8 Strawberries, sliced
16 oz ginger ale

Punch
1 46 oz can pineapple juice
1 jug Hawaiian Punch (at least equal part to pineapple juice)
2 liters ginger ale

1. Prepare ice ring at least by the day before and have frozen. Layer the cherries, sliced oranges, and strawberries in the bottom of a bundt pan. Pour ginger ale over and freeze.

2. At the party. Pour pineapple juice and Hawaiian punch into punch bowl.

3. Float ice ring on top.

4. Right before serving, add ginger ale.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Modern Baker: New Orelans Praline Disks

The Modern Bakers are still hard at work on the cookbook and we're baking cookies.

These little praline cookies are super yummy are are made with a great base of finely chopped pecans and lots of brown sugar. N.M. warned to make sure the butter was super soft or the cookies would not spread during baking. I was in a rush and didn't heed this warning too much so cookies are more cookie than disks, however they're still quite yummy.

There are only 6 quite simple ingredients: pecans, brown sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, and flour.

A great cookie!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Apricot Cookies

A dainty cookie that is perfect for tea time or an afternoon snack!

These cookies only have three ingredients- butter, powdered sugar, and flour. Those simple ingredients combined make a soft flaky cookie that has no rise. Two cookies are sandwiched together with apricot preserves in the middle and then baked. This leads to a wafer like cookie with a center of apricot goodness.

Thank you to my mother in law for this fun new cookie!

Apricot Cookies
Printable Recipe

1/2 lb butter
1 1/4 cups unsifted powdered sugar
2 cups unsifted flour
apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 375. Mix ingredients and form into 1'' roll. Refrigerate until firm. Slice into 1/4'' cookies. Add 1/2 tsp of preserves into middle of cookie. Top with another sliced cookie. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Modern Baker: Macadamia Shortbreads

We Modern Bakers are enjoying our time in the cookies, bars, and biscotti chapter of our cookbook. I love macadamia nuts and these bars are almost too easy. I think the one thing that will stop me from making them every week is the expense of the macadamia nuts. 

Crushed macadamia nuts, sugar, flour, baking powder, and butter are mixed together and then pressed into a pan. The shortbread is then topped with more crushed macadamia nuts and sugar. Another dessert with only 5 ingredients that's combination is oh so yummy. 

Just simple deliciousness. If you like macadamia, you'll like this!
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