Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Pie Day!

July 20, 2011 2 comments

My office makes a pretty big deal out of birthdays. It’s always my favorite when someone comes to me to help plan (which is rare), and I get to suggest something that the honoree likes, but that I also love!


This is my second time making pies for the July celebration. What’s more summer-like than pie?

Last night I hit the store for the few ingredients I needed (apples, cherry filling and pie crusts).

Don’t get me started on making pie crusts. I have about 12 square inches of counter space so I am not about to do it from scratch! And it was Martha herself that suggested to me once to use Pilsbury crusts. So I do.

Cherry pie is easy. Bring crust to room temperature, pour in two cans of filling, put crust on top and crimp edges. Done. Bake following the directions on the can.

But I wanted it to be special so I used my paring knife to write Happy Birthday to the honorees. It’s not easy. And I should have made “Happy” bigger because the crust cracked right through the word. but it comes out cool when the red filling bubbles up through the holes!

Next was apple. My right hand is still a little cramped from peeling and slicing 6 apples. I must be out of practice. Then I added a cup of sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1 tsp cinnamon and a dash of cloves to the apples. I let them sit for about 30+ minutes until they became nice and juicy and gooey. This filling is the best one I’ve ever made, I think. It was amazing. Just look how shiny the goo is!

After filling the crust and crimping and cutting vents, I baked at 450 for about 40 minutes. You know they’re done when the crusts are the perfect color.

Now I can’t wait until we get to eat them in two hours…


Hoping I can Keep up


After this weekend, I’m really hoping that I’ll have the stamina to keep up with being part of Charles’ family one day! For a holiday weekend, there wasn’t much rest. The guy is loved by so many people and we had so many invitations to celebrations, and bless his heart he just can’t say no!

We started the weekend with friends in South Riding watching their fireworks display. I was impressed! It was a fun time had by all (especially the kids with the giant snow cones).

Saturday, we didn’t have plans, but that all changed when I had a flat tire. Boo! Damn screw! So we spent an hour or so at NTB getting that taken care of.

I spent a few hours that night at home baking for the family get together the next day. I decided to try to make mom’s mud pie brownies. We had quickly shopped at CVS and Trader Joe’s for the ingredients, so I’d only picked up big marshmallows (mom used the mini ones). The marshmallow topped brownies where breathing and expanding when I got them out of the oven! But they were delicious, topped with TJs chocolate frosting (just add butter!).

Sunday after I went to church and he played a round of golf, we headed into Maryland for the family picnic. It was great to see everyone again and Uncle Phil sent off 12 balloons in remembrance of the family who weren’t with us that day. I’ve met him maybe a handful of times, and was really touched that he remembered my father along with all his own family members.

Sunday night we headed through a severe thunderstorm to visit our friends Jana and Dave who had married on the marathon wedding weekend we had in April. We set off fireworks and celebrated Dave’s birthday with perhaps the best peach and strawberry trifle I’ve ever tasted! Super sleepy though, Charles and I were the first to head home (where Charles proceeded to sleep until 3:30 p.m. the following day. Poor little feller…)

Yesterday we hit our last cook out at our friends’ mother’s house. GIANT kobe hot dogs and hamburgers. Yum! After our own whimpy fireworks display we enjoyed an awesome view of the Fairfax Country Club show from the front lawn.

So much fun packed into so little time! I’m yawning again just thinking of it all…

Categories: Family Tags: , ,

Cousin Kathy’s Irish Soda Bread

March 17, 2011 Leave a comment

I had really hoped to bake this last night to have photos to provide for you, but unfortunately I wasn’t feeling like it. Hopefully I will get to have some this weekend when I go home to see Mom and I can add a photo of it then. She makes it better anyway. But I can assure you, it’s delicious!

I’m fairly sure this recipe came from Cousin Kathy (whose quiche I featured last year). If it wasn’t Kathy, it was someone in her family for sure! Since I don’t have a photo of the bread, I’ll share one of Cousin Kathy (dancing with her brother Danny).

This bread is best if it’s made in a large cast iron skillet. Something about the skillet gives the bread an amazing crust.


  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 tsps baking powder (note – it’s POWDER, not soda, even though it’s called “soda” bread. yeah. this confuses me)
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 cup raisins (pour boiling water over them and soak until plump)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter or oleo

Sift dry ingredients. Add the rest and blend with a fork. The dough will be moist.

Grease and flour a skillet (or cake or loaf pans if you must).

Flour your hands and loosen the batter from the sides of the bowel. It will be stiff. Pour it into your skillet or two small loaf pans. Brush the top with milk.

Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes (less time if you use smaller pans).

I can already taste the caraway seeds!

Traditionally, this bread is served with apples and cheddar. However, I prefer plain Kerrygold butter. Yum!

Pi Day

March 14, 2011 Leave a comment

In honor of Pi day, I will voice a resolution.

Now that I’ve mastered peeling an apple without breaking the skin, I need to learn how to make pretty pie crusts like my mom (to the right). Not like these.

Eggless Brownies

February 7, 2011 2 comments

In a genius move, I ordered brownies and M&M’s in my pre-Super Bowl order last week.

In a not so genius move…I forgot I’d used up all my eggs during my snowstorm baking disaster.

I’ve used yogurt to make No Pudge brownies in the past, but I’d never winged it with a mix that called for eggs and oil.

After a little googling, I came up with a plan.

1 Duncan Hines brownie mix
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt (you could also use plain yogurt and add vanilla)
3 Tbsp applesauce

I followed the directions (and topped with dark chocolate M&Ms!) and baked at whatever Ms. Hines suggested, but it took about twice as long to cook all the way through (but I was also using a smaller pan, wanting deeper brownies).

They came out amazing!

I’ve never been a huge fan of No Pudge. I think they come out sort of bread-like and dry. But these were super moist! I highly suggest it! (And it’s cheaper to buy regular brownie mix too!)

For one brownie (which Ms. Hines suggests is 1/20th of the mix) using chobani fat free yogurt, the nutritional information is 240 calories, 3 grams of fat, 30 grams carbs, 12 grams protein, 2 grams of fiber.

Snow Storm Baking

January 27, 2011 3 comments

There’s something magical about a snow storm.

Maybe because the drifting piles of snow resemble sifted sugar…

It makes me want to bake (and I have a feeling I’m not alone).

Getting home early yesterday (thank GOD we closed at 2 and no later) I began dreaming of cookies and breads.

I love chocolate chip cookies, but more for the cookie and not so much for the chocolate (call me crazy), so my first quest was to find a cookie recipe. I found a basic one and ta da! Had all the ingredients on hand. Now, because I’m super lazy, I didn’t want to think about making trays and trays of cookies. I took the easy way out and did cookie bars. YUM!

My next idea was great at the time…use up all the ripe bananas in my freezer. Defrosted and mashed it was about 3 cups worth. 3 cups = 4 times the usual recipe. But I thought psssh. My kitchenaid can handle it! (It barely did)

I mixed it, poured it out into two giant pans, and set about to bake it for 45 minutes to an hour. 45 minutes later…still liquid in the middle. And hour later…not quite done.


The power went out. I was pretty certain the bread wasn’t done, so I dared not open the oven and just left it in over night hoping the residual heat might finish baking the runny bread.

As you can see…it did not. Now I have two giant containers of something that more closely resembles banana bread pudding instead of actual bread. (It still tastes quite yummy though!)

I do not regret baking though. When I went to bed last night, my thermostat read 71. I was scared how much it would drop. By morning…61. Not too shabby! I’m sure having a hot oven helped a little bit in keeping me warm!

At least the cookie bars look pretty 🙂


Categories: Life Lessons Tags: , , , ,

My first attempt at Cake balls

November 8, 2010 8 comments

It was probably a year ago that I first heard of Bakerella’s cake pops. They sounded like such an amazing idea, but I’ll be honest: Her perfectly round little pretty balls of cake were just too perfect looking for me to think I could do them.

This weekend we were celebrating a friend’s birthday, and after she made me mashed potato cupcakes for my birthday, I had to come up with something equally fun. What’s more fun than cake on a stick?

I followed Bakerella’s original red velvet recipe. I don’t know that I’d ever made red velvet before and to tell the truth, it totally freaked me out! That shit is RED! My kitchen looked like the scene of a murder by the end of the day.

But I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of the process.

1. Bake a sheet cake. Easy enough. Even easier than cupcakes!

2. Let it cool completely. (Do not skip this step or your balls won’t stay on their sticks!)

3. Once cool, crumble and dump in a can of icing. I made the mistake of attempting this in my kitchenaid mixer bowl. The process really works a lot better if you use your hands and “mush” it so that all the cake gets mixed with all the icing (think of the icing as the egg in a meatball. It has to be there to make it stick). A shallower bowl would probalby help you not end up with bright red crap all the way to your elbows!

4. Form balls. Bakerella suggests “quarter-sized” balls. I second that. My balls were much bigger (yes, that’s what she said) and they were almost too heavy to stay on the ends of their sticks. A smaller ball would also be easier to eat.

5. Stick in sticks and Chill. If you’re attempting to make them the day you want to eat them, this is best done in the freezer. Again, Don’t rush it!! (unless you want your balls sliding down the sticks like I mentioned before.

6. Melt chocolate (I used the easy melty kind from the craft store). I needed just a bit more than one bag to cover all the balls, then a little more for the decoration. Follow the instructions on the bag for melting. I find the microwave method eaisest.

7. Dip cold pops in the melted chocolate. To solve the sliding down the stick problem, I found it best to dip the top first, then focus on the sides. I had a spoon handy to smooth any major bumps.

Another tip…red velvet is destined to make white chocolate “not so white”, so don’t expect perfection if you choose white chocolate.

8. Stick upright in styrofoam. If decorating with sprinkles, hurry and do it before the chocolate sets.For the chocolate decorations I did, I used a squeezy bottle.

9. Arrange. I did this by sticking them in styrofoam in a wine glass. However I did not think of the physics of this before I did it. You’re sticking an entire cake (plus chocolate) on whatever your base is. Choose wisely! The glass worked fine, but it was really top heavy and prone to topple!

10. If you haven’t already included this in one of the steps above, eat! Yum yum!