Peanut Butter Eggs, Made

Gram's Recipe Box

Not too long ago, I posted three recipes for peanut butter eggs, and at the time I thought they sounded pretty easy. So, this past weekend I decided to try one of them! Here we go.

IMG_1334 Ingredients for peanut butter eggs

Here’s the ingredient list:

1 lb box xxx sugar

3/4 c melted butter or oleo

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 T cocoa

5 T peanut butter any kind

I omitted the salt, as my friend and frequent site reader Diane B commented, a pinch of salt in a pound of sugar sounds irrelevant. I used creamy peanut butter and unsalted butter.

It's like brownie batter It’s like brownie batter

Once combined the mixture was a bit loose, like a pudding. Hm, I thought, how am I going to shape these into eggs? Off to the store for a candy mold! Joanne’s is a dangerous place for a woman and child…

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Construction project

It has been many years since I made a gingerbread house from scratch. I have a vague memory of doing this as a kid, and in between I did one from a kit that had pre made house pieces and awful tasting royal icing. I had a whim this week that it might be fun to make a gingerbread house with Melody, so here we go!

Ready, set, bake!

Ready, set, bake!

I downloaded some instructions from King Arthur Flour (click the link, it is packed with info!). The gingerbread recipe was easy to follow, if a bit bland. I had hoped for a more gingery gingerbread. Next time I’ll stick with my mother’s or grandmother’s recipe. The first batch was so dry I had to add a bit of milk just to get the final dry clumps to bind with the rest of the dough. The second batch was insanely sticky.  Go figure, I used the exact measurements and measuring cups for each recipe.  ???  I chilled it for an hour, then with my sister’s words of wisdom ringing in my head, I floured the heck out of my work surface, plopped down some dough, floured it again, and then floured it some more for good measure! The dough when chilled was stretchy and rubbery. I had a hard time rolling it thin enough, but did have enough left over to make some trees, elves and a Santa Claus cut out.

The King Arthur template

The King Arthur template

The Pixie House template from Gingerbread by Design

The Pixie House template from Gingerbread by Design

Instead of square windows on Melody’s house, we used a small heart cookie cutter. Awww, it was pretty cute. :-) We allowed the gingerbread pieces to cool quite a long time before assembly. In the meantime I made royal icing. The key to good royal icing is beating it a long time, not quite to merengue state, but close. You want it thick so it doesn’t drip right off or run. I used a plastic zipper type bag in a gallon size as my pastry bag, and snipped off one corner. It worked great! The freezer weight bags are quite durable.

Don't you use canned goods to make your gingerbread houses?

Don’t you use canned goods to make your gingerbread houses?

More canned goods

More canned goods

I piped a bead on the bottom edge of the wall and stood it up, then did the same with the next wall, all the way through four walls. How did I get them to stay up you ask? Well I used cans to prop them up heh. Even though the royal icing was nice and thick, gravity is stronger haha. We left these to set overnight, then put on the roof pieces in the morning. Here we ran into trouble. On the Pixie House, one front wall was actually curved, and one roof piece was too short. Not sure how that happened since I used the same pattern piece to cut them both.  I also have not figured out how to make the gingerbread bake flat. Ours was ripply and lumpy. Hrmm. we used the can technique to set the roof pieces and watched some TV for an hour.

Finally, we went to town decorating. I got a little crazy buying candy for this escapade because I didn’t know exactly what we would want. I like to have lots of choices! We had Twizzlers, M-n-M’s, Skittles, gum drops, Dots, peppermints, bell shaped chocolates, candy canes in two sizes, plus stick pretzels and mini Oreos. Oops! But, it paid off and we have really colorful houses!

One last note about the templates. The chimney on the King Arthur house left something to be desired. But the chimney for the Pixie House was very nice and sits very sturdily on top of the house. A combination of the two house templates might work if you have the right roof pitch for the “good” chimney to work.

Hey! I forgot to cut out the front door opening!

Hey! I forgot to cut out the front door opening!

Mini Oreo shingles

Mini Oreo shingles

Gingerbread house love

Gingerbread house love

Someone got bored lol

Someone got bored lol

I lost Melody at this point. She wanted to get it done and go play. She was a trooper though and spent a good 3 1/2 hours doing this! She came back at the end to sprinkle the coconut for the snow. She was also high as a kite from eating plenty of the candy. :-)

Front

I remembered my own door

Why yes, that is Life cereal for shingles

Why yes, that is Life cereal for shingles

12 rows of it with 9 pieces per row...

12 rows of it with 9 pieces per row…per side

Don't forget the back!

Don’t forget the back!

This was a really fun activity but I think in the future I will only make one house. I’m glad we both had a house to decorate because we had very different ideas of what should be included and of course different levels of talent. But if we do this next year, Melody will decorate the house and we will enjoy it however she decides to do it!

Yum!

Yum!

January Resolution: New Food

As I mentioned a while back in the month, I will be sticking to one resolution per month this year, and January’s resolution was to try new food. Specifically, I resolved to try something new each week. I would not say that I am not an adventurous eater, but I can’t try things that just sound inherently dangerous or outright gross. So puffer fish and chocoate covered ants were just out. This was a bit of a cheat for me because I had voluntarily tried brussel sprouts within the first week of the month, before I put together my resolutions for the year, but I hope you will just forget that.

Each week I considered what my food adventure would be. I did not limit myself to just produce – although that is where my failings lie – but I did try a bit of this and a bit of that.

Week 1 – Brussel Sprouts – brush with a bit of olive oil and roast; I will try these again.

Week 2 – Cinnamon Chicken – ever since I saw a Little House on the Prarie episode where Laura switched out the cinnamon for cayenne pepper before Nellie Olson made cinnamon chicken for Almanzo Wilder, I have wanted to try this dish. I posted on Facebook for food ideas and my friend Brianna sent me the recipe. It was quite good! More savory than sweet because there is no sugar.

I served it with brown rice and green beans and it was a nice change to our regular fare of “chicken something” and veggies. It takes two tablespoons of cinnamon, so poor Almanzo having to politely eat chicken with two tablespoons of cayenne pepper on it!!

Week 3 – Pineapple Melon – I have seen these in the grocery store and wondered about them. Since it was something I doubted I would ever try unless under duress, I purchased one and Melody and I tried it a day or so later.

I sliced it, not knowing what the inside would be like, but somehow not expecting what I found:

This thing is seedy and around the seeds is a gelantanous goo. This wasn’t looking good. I pried out a small piece and put it in my mouth…and immediately spat it out! This thing is horrid! I can only liken this fruit to the consistency of the inside of a tomato (and you all know how I feel about THAT) and bitter, sour, unpleasant. Yuck! Melody tasted a bit and enjoyed pulling the seeds out more than eating it. I threw the whole thing in the trash and shudder when I recall the taste.

Week 4 – Graham Cracker Cake – In an attempt to redeem my tasting tribulation of the previous week, I made a vintage recipe called graham cracker cake, except I didn’t have graham crackers, so I crushed Nilla Wafers. This cake was very good though I think I might have not baked it long enough. It acted a bit like a sponge or angel cake at first, but soon fell while it was cooling. The recipe card didn’t indicate how long to bake it, so next time I’ll try it for longer. It’s worth a second attemp and yes, we did eat it all even if it was a bit messed up.

With a bit of whipped cream, it redeemed the new foods resolution completely! I didn’t mind trying the new foods and I will continue to try to work more foods into our dietary routine. I’ve got a turnip or two in my fridge right now and I’m actively looking for preparations, plus I’ll be trying some new recipes for my sister site Gram’s Recipe Box as the months progress. All in all, I’d call January’s resolution of new foods a success!

I was in a magazine!

Recently my friend Suzanne Broughton, who is an editor over at OC Family magazine, asked me if I would like to have one of my recipes featured in the May issue of the magazine. Well, that didn’t take long to think about and of course I said YES! It was tough trying to decide which of the many favorite recipes I would choose, but after a bit of thought I selected the brownie recipe from my Grammie Hennie. They are so easy to make it’s almost a crime, and any time I make them, there are only crumbs left in the blink of an eye.

I featured this recipe over at Gram’s Recipe Box a while ago and it’s a popular post over there. Now for your reading pleasure and my bragging rights as modest as they may be:

Click on the image for a larger view. Take a look at the current edition at OCFamily.com or click here to get to the May edition.

Using the Wilton Cookie Shape Pans Successfully

Did you – like me – fall prey to the skillful marketing folks at Wilton? They had these cookie shape pans on sale at Target, Walmart, and elsewhere. Yes I bought them. Yes I was frustrated because they didn’t carry any instructions or even tips. Yes I was downright irritated that my first batch was awful. They overflowed the shape and were uncooked in the centers. I was disgusted with the whole thing. But since I am not the type to give up easily, I tried again.

So, in case you – like me – want to use these pans to spite Wilton, here are a few pointers. I used Pillsbury gingerbread dough, for no particular reason, just what I had on hand. The large batch of dough made about 36 cookies. Good luck!

1. bring your dough to room temperature if it’s refrigerated.

2. take a bit of dough, enough to make a 1″ ball, and make a ball.

3. press the dough ball into the center of the shape, then work outward into the nooks and crannies of the design. For the more oblong shapes, make a log out of the dough, the do the same as with the ball.

4. the dough should not fill the entire shape to the top. It needs room to expand, so fill it no more than 3/4 full.

5. bake as per your recipe’s instructions.

6. let cool 2-3 minutes after baking before trying to get them out of the pan. I had to use my fingernail to loosen the cookies.

7. once cooled, decorate. I used Betty Crocker Cookie Icing.

I may never use these pans again, but Wilton did not win! I successfully made cookies with their pans, and although they look nothing like the cookie examples on the Wilton site, they tasted fantastic. So there.  :-)  

So what have you been up to?

I’ve had lots of things to write about recently but not a lot of time, so here’s a brief recap of what we have been doing the past few weeks. All images are in the gallery in the Autumn Fun album.

 

My co-worker Melissa had a birthday…she leaves the office at 3:30. Six of us descended upon her desk and wrapped literally everything in foil. Something tells me that before future birthdays, she’ll be working late.

Melody and I learned how to make homemade applesauce. It’s super easy – 3 1/2 lbs apples peeled, cored & chopped; 1/4 cup water; 1 tbsp lemon or lime juice; 1 tbsp vanilla; cook in crock pot on low 4 hours. Mash for chunky applesauce.

Gramma Alice, Melody and I went to Disneyland one Saturday and had a wonderful time! We went on the new Finding Nemo ride, the Autopia, the train, and so much more. We called it an early day so we wouldn’t all be too exhausted around 3:30. It was so much fun!

My little superhero was Super Girl for Halloween. We trick or treated our own neighborhood for the first time and there were a lot of folks participating. Our next door neighbor Caelen (watch out Burke, she loves him!) had never actually been trick or treating, so it was a lot of fun to see the kids having so much fun together. This was the first year Melody seemed to really get it. And, she’s been obsessed with candy since. 

And you thought modern baking was time consuming?

This is a fun little piece my mother passed on to me. First is an excerpt from Martha Washington’s letters to her grandmother. Note, I have written these exactly as they are printed, with the exception of using the modern “s” in place of the Georgian f shaped s to make it easier to read.

To make a great Cake

“Take 40 eggs and divide the whites from the yolks and beat them to a froth then work 4 pounds of butter to a cream & put the whites of eggs to it a Spoon full at a time till it is well work’d then put 4 pounds of sugar finely powdered to it in the same manner then put in the youlks of eggs & 5 pounds of flower & 5 pounds of fruit. 2 hours will bake it add to it half an ounce of mace & nutmeg half a pint of wine & some frensh brandy.”

Now, if you can find a pan big enough to bake this cake, you may want to ice it, right? Below is an excerpt from The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse.

To Ice a great Cake another Way

“Take two pounds of double refin’d Sugar, beat and sift it very fine, and likewise beat and sift a little Starch and mix with it, then beat six White of Eggs to a froth, and put to it some Gum-water, the Gum must be steep’d in the Orange-flower-water, then mix and beat all these together two Hours, and put it on your Cake; when it is bake, set it in the oven again to harden a quarter of an Hour, take great Care it is not discolour’d. When it is drawn, ice it over the top and sides, take two Pounds of double refin’d Sugar beat and sifted, and the Whites of three Eggs beat to a Froth, with three or four Sponfuls of Orange-flower-water, and three Grains of Musk and Amber-grease together; put all these on a Stone Mortear, and beat these till it is as white as snow, and with a Brush or Bundle of Feathers, spread it all over the Cake and put it in the oven to dry, but take Care the oven does ot discolor it. When it is cold, paper it, and it will keep good five or six weeks.”

Next time on the The Colonial Baking Show, we will share a modernized version of Martha Washington’s Great Cake, be sure to tune in to see us try to wrangle a 20″ cake pan into a wood fire oven, only on The Food Nutwork…