CoursebyCourseOnebyOne

August 16, 2010

A sad discovery…

Filed under: Chocolate,Dessert,Minor disasters,Pie,Uncategorized — by tastyace @ 5:40 pm

Alas darlings, I have some bad news. The chocolate pudding pie turned out to be an epic failure. It all went well up until the very end. But for some reason the pudding never set properly. I don’t know if my refrigerator was simply not cold enough, or if it had something to do with the type of pudding I used, but whatever the case, the end result was the same. I had chocolate pudding in a crumbly pie crust, not chocolate pudding pie. The pudding said it could be used for pies, so I don’t think that was the culprit. Alas, I may never know what went wrong. I guess this is just one of those live and learn experiences… Perhaps sometimes you just have to do everything from scratch to make it all work out in the end. Still, I’m not entirely discouraged; the cream pie was a huge hit and was devoured more rapidly that any baked good I’ve ever made. So I guess this means the whole incident was a draw. In fact, if you count my banana pancake/banana bread successes the score thus stands:

tastyace- 3

mean baking gods – 1

So there! I live on to cook another day! (Hopefully sometime soon this week!)

Yours always

–A–

Ps. Really sorry for posting this so late, life has been incredibly hectic since the great chocolate pudding pie debacle, what with the fall semester starting next week and all. I can only hope that once it starts, it won’t totally wipe out any chance I have of continuing with my baking/cooking/blog-posting  experiment!

wish me luck!

August 12, 2010

Can you bake a pie?… Neither can I…

Filed under: Chocolate,Dessert,Easy,Pie — by tastyace @ 12:13 am

Okay, so perhaps I should re-phrase the last half of the rhyme to ‘neither could I’, because guess what, I did it! I made a pie! And not one, but two! Okay, so they were both (sort of) cheats but it’s all cool, because I made two of them!

(Numbers outweigh difficulty in the grand scheme of things, right?)

Regardless, I made two, a cream pie and a chocolate pudding pie! And they both are delicious!

The cream pie is a bit of a cheat since I have made it before (last Christmas) but my dad specifically requested this tasty treat again once he heard of my new baking frenzy, and I was only happy to oblige. (Plus this recipe is SO EASY! Seriously, it’s idiot proof. Trust me, I would know).

The ingredients are so basic! See!

I followed this recipe:

Cream Pie

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugars, flour, salt, cream, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie shell.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven. Lower the temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C), and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

…which I got off of allrecipes.com. Again, I cheated a bit because I used a store bought crust, but hey, it still tastes amazing! The only thing I did to tweak it, was once I mixed everything together and poured it in the pie shell I sprinkled just a little extra brown sugar on top. It forms a really nice, almost crunchy ‘crust’ over the top of the pie, and thus far it has been a hit! (Everyone in my family also has the huge-sweet-tooth issue, so if that’s not to your taste, I’m sure you could skip it).

Still I can’t stress enough how simple this pie is. Seriously toss all the ingredients into a bowl, mix them up. Pour them into a pie shell:

Add some extra brown sugar, should the fancy strike ye.

And bake until delicious and golden brown! Yum, yum, yum!

And now for our second pie chickadees, we have another cheat. And to be honest, I was kinda flying blind on this one. I got the idea for this chocolate pudding pie from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. But unlike Deb, I was not yet brave enough to create my own pie shell and pudding from scratch. (Perhaps one day, but not yet… Baby steps, my dears, baby steps…) So to solve this essential problem of lacking both pie and chocolate pudding for my chocolate pudding pie, I used a pre-made pie shell, and instant mix pudding.

I whipped up the pudding (which only required milk).

Mmmmm, tasty, tasty!

I then put it into my pre-made pie shell (which I’d already cooked, following the directions on its bag).

And then stuck the whole thing in the fridge. (I also added some bittersweet chocolate chip morsels to the pudding, because we here are chocolate fans). When the time comes to show the whole thing off in a presentable way, I may whip up some of my own whipped cream. With this recipe:

Homemade Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tbsp sugar

Directions:

Just before serving, beat cream with remaining two tablespoons sugar until it just holds soft peaks. Spoon onto pie and garnish with bittersweet chocolate shavings, if you’re feeling fancy.

Courtesy of the ever amazing Deb of Smitten Kitchen.

So far though, I’m feeling thoroughly inspired by my successes and I can’t wait to continue. I may have one more surprise up my sleeve this week. (Hint hint, it has to do with these tasty things). But I may save it for next week, depending on my stress load with work and life and such. However, I must admit that I should probably get away from sweets next week. Any suggestions?

Hugs and cupcakes

–A–

August 5, 2010

Note:

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tastyace @ 11:32 pm

I originally started this blog on tumblr but it just didn’t work out. So everything before the post “Week the first” was posted last week.

Week the first

Filed under: Bread,Pancakes,Tartlettes — by tastyace @ 11:30 pm

Well chickadee’s, it has begun, this grand experiment of mine. So far this week I’ve made three things (though unfortunately I’ve only remembered to take a picture of one).

This week I made banana bread, banana pancakes and bacon and cheese tartlettes. An odd combo, I know. The first two were created because we had an smorgasbord (isn’t that a great word!) of ripe bananas at the house.The second was supposed to be my first ‘official’ recipe of the experiment. I had planned on making the tartlettes on Tuesday, but life got in the way, so they were moved to today. However, Tuesday night I got ambitious and decided to try my hand at some banana inspired tastiness. And boy am I glad I did!

The banana pancakes were a bit of a cheat, since I used store bought pancake batter and simply added mashed bananas to it. But it was in the house already and I didn’t feel like making pancakes from scratch for my first experiment. (I did doctor the recipe a little since I added about a teaspoon and a half of light brown sugar to the batter; I have a major sweet tooth!). But regardless they turned out perfectly! It was my first time using the griddle we have, but it was so easy! I was thoroughly stunned. They pancakes were moist, sweet and a total hit with the parental units!

Banana Bread Recipe

Ingredients

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

Method

No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

From http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_bread/

However, after I’d mixed all the other ingredients, I realized I could not find the baking soda! I searched high and low, but twas all for naught. Still rather than being discouraged I winged it and used baking powder. I know, I know, they’re totally different and by all right’s this crazy idea of mine should not have worked… But it did! Apparently baking powder requires an ‘acid’ of some sort to rise and the acidity of the bananas was enough to allow this reaction to occur. So yay me and yay luck! This recipe made the perfect banana bread though, seriously. It was sweet and moist and buttery and banana-y! It rocked! I may try other recipes for fun, but when in doubt, I can definitely say that this will be my go-to banana bread recipe. I would’ve taken a picture of it too, but today when I went to, there was none left! Between my parents, myself and the boyfriend it was devoured in a day and a half! That never happens in my house! Safe to safe, A one point, scary baking, none.

So we’ve had the good portion of this post, and now we come to the bad and the crispy. (Also know as the bacon cheese tartlettes.) To be honest, they weren’t that bad, the flavors just weren’t quiet what I was expecting. I used this recipe:

Bacon and Cheese Tartlets

Ingredients

1 (9.5 ounce) package Pepperidge Farm® Mini Puff Pastry Shells

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 medium green onions, chopped

3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Directions

Bake, cool and remove the “top” of the shells according to the package directions. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

Stir the cheese, mayonnaise, green onions and bacon in a small bowl. Divide the cheese mixture among the shells. Bake for 5 minutes or until hot.

However, I chose to double the recipe, since the Pepperidge Farm® pastries only included five in a box. (This would not have been enough to feed the parental units, myself, the boyfriend and his family. Hence the recipe was doubled.)

In the beginning everything went pretty well. The boyfriend put the pastries on a cookie sheet and they went into the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. (As per the box instructions)

The cheese was grated, (though unfortunately my mini hand grater proved to be way too fine for what we were attempting) and the green onions were sliced. I then combined all the ingredients just like the recipe required (however I used bacon bits instead of full pieces of bacon). And once the shells had baked for the required 20 minutes, the whole thing went into the oven.

Don’t they look tasty! Mmmmm! (You wouldn’t believe it, but I almost forgot the bacon! I had to put it in at the last second and do one final mixing within each little shell.)

I then waited the required five minutes, and once that was over pulled the tartlettes out. But alas, they weren’t brown yet.

I waited another five minutes, still nothin’.

So I decided to bring the oven up from 350 to 400. I figured that since the shells could have been baked for five more minutes at that temp (the box said between 20 and 25 minutes) that they could handle five more minutes at that temp.

Yeah… Not so much.

Unfortunately when my five minutes were up, some of the tartlettes looked like this.

Luckily, not all of them got crispy, some of the nicer ones turned out like this:

All in all, they tasted okay. The flavors weren’t really what I was expecting. The mayo made the whole thing a lot tarter than I’d expected, and I think it overwhelmed the flavors of the cheese and bacon. The boyfriend and his family gave rave reviews, but I honestly wasn’t that thrilled. I suppose they’d be good for a party, but unless I get specific requests for them, I don’t see myself making these babies anytime soon. They weren’t necessarily bad; they just weren’t my cup of tea. I’ll have to see what my parents think, and then perhaps I’ll make a definite decision.

However, my setbacks have not discouraged me in the least. The success of my banana bread was too great! So far I’m defying my own expectations, hey, maybe this isn’t so tough after all! I hope…

Well I guess that’s all for now, until next week!

Bon appetite!

–A–

Quotes contd.

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tastyace @ 11:24 pm

“The story of barbecue is the story of America: Settlers arrive on great unspoiled continent, discover wondrous riches, set them on fire and eat them. ~Vince Staten”

Okay, so I might have…

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tastyace @ 11:23 pm

a bit of explaining to do. I stated yesterday that cooking really kind of scares me, and reading over what I wrote, I felt that I needed to elaborate. So here goes:

Fact 1) I really like food. Aside from the obvious reasons that it can taste amazing and fill my hungry belly, I just happen to have a lot of positive associations with food. Growing up, I loved helping my mom cook or bake. I loved holidays when everyone in my family got together and cooked and laughed and argued and ate. I also loved (and still love) the fact that there are some recipes that my mother will only cook certain times of the year. (She makes a mean hot potato salad, but it only makes its appearance during the summer months) While this food/recipe guarding might annoy some people, it always gave me something to look forward to. In short food and happy memories have always been closely tied together in my head.

Fact 2) Unfortunately food and I also have some issues. I have often loved food to much, to the point of excess, to the point where I got a bit chunky to say the least. And then I hated food for what it turned me into.

In the end, food and I have come to a grudging peace.

Fact 3) Even though food and I get along, the process of actually cooking food, has always proved a challenging one to me. I get distracted, I jump in without reading all the directions and I can occasionally lose my common sense. This has lead to some flour-y cakes, burnt cooking implements, and one incident (which I will never live down) in which I added the butter for macaroni and cheese, to the boiling water, and then once the macaroni was drained, I couldn’t figure out why the cheese refused to stick.

Yeah… It’s been interesting.

And so, to conquer my own fears mostly, and to prove to myself that food is not that complicated, I decided to go about with this experiment.

I should also clarify though, that I’m not going to start out by cooking four course meals. In fact I;m staying away from ‘dinner’ altogether. Because dinner often has a great many components.

And the more components, the more distracted and overwhelmed I might become, and the more likely I am to set the house on fire.*

So when I say I’ll be cooking one thing a week over the next 30 weeks, I mean I’ll be cooking one appetizer, baked good, or dessert most likely. I may venture past that if I find a recipe too tasty or simple not to try. But right now, I’m staying away from dinner and just working on figuring out this whole ‘cooking’ thing in the first place!

*People always say they’re worried about setting the house on fire when it comes to cooking, but I take that fear more seriously than most. You see, I don’t have the greatest family track record for that one. My father actually DID set the house on fire while cooking. He got distracted and wasn’t paying attention… and then the house was in flames. So you may joke, but it can and does really happen!

Quotes

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tastyace @ 11:21 pm

“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.
-Anonymous-”

In the beginning…

Filed under: Uncategorized — by tastyace @ 11:20 pm

There was this girl, impossibly smart, incredibly witty, and a bit of a darling (if she were to say so herself). She was/is brilliant, talented and like any sane college student, (any sane human being really) she loved food. But there was just one problem:

She failed at cooking.

Okay, so let’s face it, she is me and I am her… Or something like that.

And I don’t entirely fail at cooking.

Oh sure, I can fry an egg, toast toast, and cook meat long enough to avoid trichinosis/salmonella/other icky diseases.

But past that point, I fumble, falter and become… frazzled?

Inevitably, when called upon to cook or bake for some occasion, I resort to my old standards: boxed cakes, casseroles, and dips that occasionally come with the subtitle *Note, this is impossible to fuck up*

Now that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with this type of cooking. Believe me I love top ramen as much as the next Co-ed, and I tend to think of a well executed grilled cheese as a work of art akin to a Caravaggio.

But, and here’s where I tend to differ from many of my fellow students, sometimes I want more than that.

Unfortunately in this day and age, food and cooking seems to have been divided into two camps. There’s those of us who enjoy hamburger helper, and then there are… the other guys.

They use funny words, like ‘bitters’ and ‘sherry jus’ and ‘flambe’. And their ingredient lists include ‘fennel’ and ‘lavender’ and ‘muesli’.

Just glancing at their recipes gives me a headache. And when I find out that the pinch of saffron said recipe requires costs $315, I also loose my appetite.

Again, I’m not against intriguing spices or foreign methods and ingredients, I just feel like food should be approachable.

Is that so wrong?

So, I have devised an experiment to conquer my own fear of the kitchen, as well as to (hopefully) prove that food can be tasty, healthy, uncomplicated and cheap!

Starting the week after next, I will take on the seemingly simple (though probably immensely complex) task of cooking something that is not entirely* boxed or bagged or frozen just once a week.

I say not entirely, because I believe that I do have limitations. Making my own pie crust from scratch is one of them. As a new chef/baker/cook extraordinaire I don’t want to overwhelm myself. Not to mention I have to balance this fun little exercise with being a full time college student on the dean’s list, as well as having a part time job, and a *cough* social life.

For every recipe I bring to life, I’ll include the original recipe and source, as well as how many changes I made to it. I’ll also include pictures of the process and tell how much my ingredients cost. During the in between time I may write about other meals I make outside this experiment, as well as (possibly) how-to’s for simple cooking tasks.

I will include my successes, my failures, and my thoughts and rantings.

Along the way I hope to have fun, and perhaps create some tasty, approachable, good for you, cheap food!

Wish me luck!

-A-

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