Sunday, November 22, 2009

No brownies?!?

Nope, I didn't take the time to make brownies this weekend. I had some left over from last week (I made them on Tuesday night). But I did make stuffing bread, rolls, a chocolate cheesecake and a "Cheeto" cake. I need to take a photo of the chocolate cheesecake, it came out beautifully. It didn't crack and I've had that problem in the past. I made two modifications to what I usually do while baking a cheesecake. The cheesecake was the first thing baked in the oven on Friday and I let it rest inside the oven for a few hours after it baked.
Apparently, I shocked my youngest sister last night. She didn't know I made the "Cheeto" cake from (gasp) a cake mix. Everything else on the table was made from scratch, so what's the big deal? I do use cake mixes, I usually jazz them up some way or another. If you are a fan of cake mixes, I suggest

There are some great ideas for using cake mixes in ways I never thought of. I've been asked "is it really easier to use a cake mix" and my answer is "Depends on what you're tryin to bake". If your kid tells you at bedtime "hey Mom, I promised the teacher you'd bake 3 dozen cupcakes for tomorrow" , the answer is definitely "yes" in my not so humble opinion. Your mileage may vary, but I'm just saying that's what I have done in a situation like that.
For other cakes, you may want to make the traditional chocolate cake with the chocolate icing - or whatever is the tradition in your family.
It's your life and time, so don't stress over it if Mrs Smith makes your pumpkin pies. Just enjoy your holiday in a way that doesn't make you (and the rest of your family) bonkers.
Whoops, I didn't mean to rant. But so many magazines and shows have "How to make this the most memorable Thanksgiving ever" articles, it makes me wonder if they have missed the whole point of Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


For my birthday last week, I baked a milky way cake. Yummers. I also baked a small pan of brownies, nothing special to the mix.
But this week - ahh, this week and next are when cooks are either frazzled or excited. You can either become overwhelmed by the Thanksgiving feast or look at it as a time to break out your new recipes.
Honestly, though, I don't vary much from the Thanksgiving menu. There's turkey and ham, sweet potatoes and mashed, corn and peas and cranberry sauce like my mom always made it. Sometimes she'd even let me make it. It's easy - just open a can of Ocean Spray Cranberry sauce. You could slice it up if you want or make some fancy shapes with it, but it's got to be Ocean Spray because they are the bomb. Don't bother writing me about your great grand-uncle's recipe for homemade cranberry sauce. Not going to listen. I've had homemade cranberry sauce twice and I still wonder what all the fuss is about.
The desserts will be the "usual" - there will chocolate cheesecake per Dan's request, Craig always wants strawberry junket and Will's the variable. This year Will picked the Cheeto cake. I also make bread and try to bake as much as I can in some sort of weird celebration of baking.
My mom worked full time from the time I was 6 months old. Now what does this have to do with cooking? She was, of course, always busy. So as we got older, she'd bake a batch of birthday cakes at one time, despite that the 6 kids had different birth months. But any month is a good month to get a homemade chocolate cake in my humble opinion. So I bake the little Bundt pans of different cakes - chocolate, vanilla, might go for pumpkin this year. And that becomes "birthday cakes" for my sibs and their families. Now some of them do get a cake on their birthdays, some do not (their choice). So this way I get the cakes baked in one fell swoop. And of course, the house smells great.
Anyway, I am off (in more ways than one) to prepping some stuffing bread. That will be the basis of my stuffing on Saturday as well as Thanksgiving. (The extended family comes over on Saturday, the immediate on Thanksgiving - and who else wonders in).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

catching up

Sorry for the delay. I have been dragging around with some weird salivary gland infection and my beloved was pretty sick. I presume he had a bad cold, he never went to the doctor for it. He still has that cough, though...
Anyway, 2 weeks ago the "secret ingredient" was 2 tablespoons of frozen concentrated orange juice in place of 1 egg. Last week, the "secret ingredient" was extra vanilla. Both of these recipes got good reviews.
My younger son has been distributing "bonus brownies" to some of his coworkers. The "bonus brownies" are the ones that would be left over at the end of the week. However, he happens to be on vacation this week and his coworkers were questioning how were they going to get their weekly brownie fix. They even suggested that Will made a special trip to work to drop the brownies off.
This week's brownie is 1 less egg and extra vanilla, plus a mix of Hershey and Ghiradelli cocoa. Pretty good. The bread I made was "The Redbook Breadbook"
overnight dinner rolls.

The cake - I made a strawberry pie filling and a tart kind of vanilla cake. The strawberry filling went on top of the cake and my beloved loves it.
Soon, It will time for the biggest baking season of the year - the Thanksgiving to Christmas season. Last Thanksgiving, I had a fire in my oven (my fault) and ended up having no oven until about December 21. I wasn't a happy camper about any of it. I never had an oven fire get out of control like that before and never destroyed a stove before. This year I plan to make sure I have an oven liner for the oven. I'm sure I'll be more aware of what I am doing this year. I felt like I was struggling against a fog of grief last year.
Anyway, that's it for this week.