Sunday, August 30, 2009

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Apple and Brie Bites

I absolutely love finger foods and bite-size appetizers. We had Alex's co-interns over and I wanted to make a sweet appetizer for people to munch on. I found this recipe and switched out the fruit. The end result was a delicious little morsel and a definite crowd pleaser.

Apple and Brie Bites

Adventures in the Kitchen (
here)
1 can Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creation
1 apple, peeled, finely chopped
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
8 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed, cut into squares
Heat oven to 375F. Grease or spray 12 mini muffin cups. Unroll dough onto work surface. Using a small circle cutter, cut out 12 circles. Gently press circles into mini muffins.
In small bowl mix the apple and the brown sugar. Place 1 cheese chunk in each cup. Top with apple mixture.
Bake 10-15 minutes or until edges are deep golden brown. Cool 5 minutes and remove from muffin cups.

Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

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Obsession of the Week

The nesting feeling has kicked in. Or if not, the compulsive and obsessive traits of my personality have kicked into high gear. For the past three or so weeks I have been obsessing over the baby's method of transportation. It seems like such a random thing to obsess over but it's what has been making me toss and turn at night. I figured the only way to have a decent night of sleep would be to take care of the transportation issue. I spent countless hours doing research and I went to a few stores (thanks Jen!). The two things that topped my list were a baby carrier and a stroller. I found a carrier I loved and bought it. The stroller was even more difficult because it involved a serious internal tug-of-war.

Before I was even pregnant Alex had fallen in love with a particular stroller. The man literally drooled over this stroller. After I became pregnant and the stroller obsession kicked in I knew I had to check out the stroller and see if it was worth it. I checked out the stroller among a slew of other strollers. Whatever stroller we got had to be functional, multi-purpose, and fit into our lifestyle. While our lifestyle has changed somewhat since moving to Miami, we haven't been able to let go of the lifestyle we had in Boston. Our house is in a great neighborhood and it's within walking distance to so many things. So the stroller would have to be compatible with our desire to use the stroller more for outdoors trips than mall trips. I looked into all strollers that I thought would fit into what we wanted. We read parent reviews and consumer reviews; you name it and we read it. We looked at quite a few strollers and after everything, Alex was more set on the dream stroller. I struggled because I knew the stroller would be a great fit for us and would meet our needs (and wants) but I wasn't comfortable with the price.

Even more sleepless nights followed. I continued my research and eventually found the stroller for a price that fit within our budget and that I felt comfortable with, and we bought it. We got the stroller and I am completely happy with it. All the parts are there and the best part is that I don't have any buyer's remorse :)

Mei Tai Carrier. I tried the carrier on with Perla. I wanted to get an idea for
how it felt with some real weight in it. It's super comfortable and the weight
is equally distributed throughout the back. It provides great support.
Bugaboo Stroller. Works like a dream, has a lot of practical functions
and uses, and has great resale value.

If you have any questions about my purchases or any feedback or have had similar experiences, I want to know. This baby stuff is so overwhelming and it's amazing all the mental loops you do for someone who isn't even here yet.

Friday, August 28, 2009

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Daring Bakers: Dobos Torte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

This cake is a stunner. Don't be like me and think twice about this cake because of its name. The cake is called a Dobos Torte and for some reason it makes me giggle each time I say it. I had trouble taking it seriously. Grow up Steph, right? Making the sponge cake involves a few steps but it's amazing how you can get such a deliciously light cake in such a short amount of time. Putting it together is the best part, especially when your fingers are all covered with chocolate frosting. I didn't use the chocolate buttercream frosting recipe provided by the hosts for safety reasons but I did find a fantastic substitute recipe. Like I said before, the sponge cake is very light and it's a perfect cake to be paired with any type of frosting. Actually, it's begging to be paired with other types of frosting. Between the cake, the frosting, the hazelnuts, and the caramel topping, you can't go wrong with this cake.

The recipe is quite long so I recommend going to Angela or Lorraine's posts of the Dobos Torte for the recipe. I also recommend checking out the DB blogroll...people created some beautiful cakes this month.

Chocolate Frosting

Source: RecipeZaar (
here)

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened

2 Tbsp milk

9 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar


Note: to melt the chocolate, place in a double boiler over simmering water on low heat for 5-10 minutes; stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely smooth and no pieces remain; remove from heat and let cool 5-15 minutes or until lukewarm.


In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter using an electric mixer on medium speed for about 3 minutes or until creamy.

Add the milk carefully and beat until smooth.

Add the melted chocolate and beat well for 2 minutes.

Add the vanilla and beat for 3 minutes.

Gradually add in the sugar and beat on low speed until creamy and of desired consistency.


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TWD: Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie

Sigh...I really am turning into an unreliable blogger. I want to blog, trust me I do, but something always happens to delay my blogging. This week the excuse is one word: Router. Do you guys have a router? Does it affect your ability to connect to the internet? Alex set up our router this week and it has totally killed my laptop's internet abilities. I can't check my blogs, I can't upload pictures, and I can't even send emails. What's the point of internet then? When the internet was hooked up directly to my laptop it worked like a dream, but with the router it sucks. Any techies out there know why this is happening?

Anyways, this post shouldn't be about my computer issues. It should be about the deliciousness that is the Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie. My taste buds exploded with this dessert. I followed the recipe almost to a T except I didn't drain out the lime zest and I topped the pies with whipped cream instead of the meringue. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to enjoy this treat if I did the meringue topping because I didn't trust eating the meringue with the pregnancy. This was a great substitution and I think it made the dessert just a little more sinful. The lime taste is so soft and delicate and yet it's so vibrant and tart. It was just delicious.

Thanks Linda of Tender Crumb for choosing this week's recipe. Make sure to check out her blog for the recipe and the TWD site to see what the other bakers did this week.
Plain and simple.
All done up.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

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Watch the Belly Grow

I will apologize in advance to anyone who doesn't want to see any pregnancy posts on this blog, but seeing how life altering this is, it's going to be hard not to post anything. Either way, I'll try to keep these types posts to a minimum since this is supposed to be a food blog. With that being said, I am utterly amazed at the human body and how it goes from been a cluster of indistinguishable cells to a unique individual. I am also amazed at how MY body is changing to accommodate the little growing individual inside me. Alex has said on multiple occasions that I am going to be a big pregnant lady and I honestly think he will be disappointed if I'm not waddling within the next 2 months. There seems to be some kind of guy pride thing going on here and he will only be satisfied if my belly has its own gravitational pull. He might just get his wish...here's the picture evidence:

4 weeks and some days

14 weeks and some days
I barely fit into my work pants (belly bands are the greatest invention ever!), a bit of belly shows through in almost any shirt I wear, and when I'm sitting all I see is roundness. I can't wait to see how much bigger and rounder I get :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

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Bundt Pan Follow-Up

As I was reading comments (I haven't read my comments in a really long time...I'm sorry!) I saw that a few of you asked about the bundt pan I used when I made the Banana Bundt Cake. My mother-in-law gave it to me as a gift this past Christmas and I have no clue where she got it. I'm almost positive she got it at store in one of those outlet shopping centers. I tried to find the pan online but it doesn't seem to be available. I do, however, know the brand and name of the pan so maybe you will be a little more successful at finding it than I was. The brand is Anolon and the style of the pan is the 9.5-in. SureGrip Nonstick Musical Note Bundform Pan. Cooking.com had the pan at one point (here), maybe they know how to get a hold of more?
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TWD: Apple Spice Bar

I made it this time! Yippee! Pictures uploaded. Check. Posting on Tuesday. Check. This week Karen of Something Sweet by Karen chose Dorie's Apple Spice Bars. I was so excited about making these bars because I love every dessert with apple in it. The only problem I faced is that I didn't have an apple on hand. I had applesauce because applesauce was one thing that never made me sick during my day sickness days. I didn't have raisins or pecans either. I made the bars with what I had on hand and the bars still came out great. My bars came out more like a cake because the batter was very fluffy after it baked, but the flavor was so incredible. The cinnamon and the allspice really shined through and the dessert made me feel so warm and happy inside.

Don't forget to check out Karen's blog for the recipe and the TWD site to see what everyone else thought of this week's selection.

Monday, August 17, 2009

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Late TWD: Brownie Buttons

I am becoming an unreliable poster. After my big announcement post I promised that I would be posting more frequently. I can't even keep up with myself! I made the Brownie Buttons, which were chosen by Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen, and forgot to upload the pictures and post. These brownie bites are to die for. Get ready to serve up a glass of milk with these babies because I guarantee you won't be able to eat them without some kind of liquid. They are rich, decadent, and such a crowd pleaser. They are easy to make and are so pretty looking.

Thanks to Jayma for the great selection! Don't forget to check out their blog for the recipe and the TWD site to see what everyone thought of this delicious sweet.

Monday, August 10, 2009

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Have You Seen My Brain?

Because I lost it the day I found out I was PREGNANT. Yup, you read right. I am pregnant. Alex and I are expecting. We are having a baby! The kiddo is expected to make its arrival February 2010. This is such an unbelievably happy and exciting time in our lives. I found out June 11th that Baby was coming and it was so hard to keep it a secret this whole time. It was even harder because we were living with my in-laws and my eating habits had changed drastically. Did I tell you how much I hate morning, umm I mean, day sickness? Nothing appealed to me and I couldn't even brush my teeth. Luckily, enough all that's wearing away. Apparently, however, as the morning sickness wears away so does my brain. Just this past weekend I was so happy to find out that Thanksgiving was happening on Thursday this year. Hmmm think about that one. Now that everyone I love knows I figured it would be good time to share the good news with all of you out there.
P.S. Remember how I said you'd forgive my lack of posting? Well this is the reason why. Little Baby wanted nothing with my cooking or baking for the past few weeks. But now that I am feeling better, expect the posts to roll on through.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

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It's Official!

I am a homeowner and I made my first mortgage payment. Yipppeee! We finally moved into our house 3 weeks ago-a whopping 6 weeks after closing-and I couldn't be happier. There were quite a few bumps along the way and, while it could have been worse, I am still stunned that it took us 6 weeks to move in when we didn't do any huge renovations. We did a lot of little things that helped transform the space into a space that reflects us. The house is slowly coming together and we still have a long road ahead of us but at least now I have privacy, space, and a kitchen at my disposal. Buying a house is exhausting and moving is even more exhausting, but it is so worth it. I love my house more and more each day and I can't wait to see what else we do with the space. Here are a few before and after pictures:

Family room before:
Family room after:
Master before:
Master after:
Bathroom before:
Bathroom after:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

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TWD: Classic Banana Bundt Cake

Bananas and apples are the only fruits I like baked, so can I tell you how excited I was when I saw that Mary of The Food Librarian chose Classic Banana Bundt Cake for us TWDers to make this week?? Well, I was very excited! This was such a great recipe to jump start my TWD baking. The cake was truly delicious. It was such a moist and soft cake. I just love the subtle flavor of banana and the wholesomeness of this dessert. This will probably be my go to banana dessert because of how quickly and easily it comes together and because I like the consistency and texture of the cake better than I do of the bread.

Thanks for a great selection Mary! Make sure to check out her blog and the TWD site to see how the other bakers fared this week.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

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Daring Bakers: Cookie Fun!

Wow! I cannot believe it has been over 3 weeks since my last post. My posting since the move to Miami has sucked; I posted more during my first year of law school! There is a perfectly good reason for all this lack of posting and I'll fill you in on it, eventually. Trust me, it's a really, really, really, really good reason. And once I tell you, you will forgive me. The days are zooming by me and I hadn't even realized I missed the Daring Bakers deadline. Whoops! Because I missed the deadline and have sucked at posting I decided to do both recipes. That was the best decision I could have ever made. Why, you ask? Because the challenge for this month was to make cookies. These cookies are really special and are sure to impress and leave people in awe of your baking skills. The Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies are drops of heaven. Cookie + chocolate + marshmallow....what could go wrong with that? I even made the marshmallow (after my Dorie marshmallows I felt defeated). Of course, I bought a bag from the store just in case I messed up again. The Milan Cookies were just plain gorgeous. The scent, the taste, the look, everything about these cookies was meant to knock your socks off.
The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.
Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies
Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
3 eggs, whisked together
Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
2 egg whites , room temperature
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.
Chocolate glaze:
12 (6) ounces semisweet chocolate
2 (1) ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.


Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Milan Cookies
Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons lemon extract
1 ½ cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
½ cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 orange, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.
2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.
3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.
4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.
6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.
7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.
8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.
10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.