Tuesday, December 30, 2014

TWD: Baking Chez Moi - Gingerbread Buche de Noel

Our last Baking Chez Moi recipe for December is Gingerbread Buche de Noel!  It was actually scheduled for before Christmas, but I made it for Christmas and figured I would post it later.  Later ended up being today!  

The huge ginormous benefit to baking and posting after the post-date is you can see what other bakers thought of the recipe and what advice they might have!  Yeah!  So, thanks to that information, I made a few pieces of this recipe in advance, and halved the frosting amount.  Thanks, everyone!

There are four components to this cake:  The cake itself, which is a chiffon-style very thin cake that is rolled up' the filling, the frosting, and some pecan praline.  I  made the praline and the filling in advance!  This was fantastic since I made the somewhat crazy decision to serve this on Christmas.  The thing is, this is theoretically a perfect cake for Christmas, BUT there are lots of components so if you are making a big Christmas dinner (which we did) it makes getting the cake done a bit of a squeeze.  I got it done, but boy was I ready to be OUT of the kitchen that night! 

To further explain the cake, the actual cake part is a gingerbread flavor.  It is a very thin cake that is baked in a half-sheet pan and then rolled up.  In fact, it is rolled in a powdered sugar coated tea towel  as it cools so that it cools with the ability to roll up when the time comes.  Smart.  Before it is rolled for good (as in after it is cool and you are ready to actually put this cake together) you spread a filling of butter, cream cheese, cinnamon, vanilla, and a little of the pecan praline over the cake.  Then roll it up tightly, using a piece of parchment and a ruler and this fun pull-tug technique to make the cake roll nice and tight.  Again, smart.  That sits in the refrigerator a bit while you make a marshmallow frosting that is puffy and lovely.  Put a thick layer of the marshmallow frosting around the top and sides of the cake and then sprinkle on the praline pecans and you are ready!  

The magic occurs when you slice it.  Before hand, it just looks like this:
This is nice and everything, but once you slice it and you see all the rings, SUCCESS!!

This was really quite tasty.  I liked that the filling did not actually contain any sugar, as the cake, frosting and praline evened everything out.  And, (this is weird for a cake) but when i had another piece a day later, I thought that the flavors were actually more pronounced!  

So, overall a success!  I am not sure whether I would make this again, as there are lots of great desserts for Christmas-time.  But this was very tasty!  Dorie is right... This would be good if you just made it on some random day and then invited people over for cake and champagne. 

Oh, and there was an article in the Food section of the NY Times before Christmas that mentioned that this is the most complicated recipe in the book.  I did it!  Surely I will have continued success!!

Happy holidays, everyone!  I look forward to baking and crafting with you in the new year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Salted Nut Bars

Holy-Moley!  These are some incredible cookies.  They hit all of the right notes for me:  salty, sweet, crunchy, soft....  Mmmm.  I could eat the entire batch.  And this recipe makes a TON of cookies, so eating the entire batch is a very bad idea.  Though, it might just happen, as I cannot seem to stop myself from opening the cookie bin and grabbing another one every time I am anywhere near my kitchen.  And since our house is really open and the kitchen is pretty much in the center, you could say that I am near the kitchen almost all of the time.  Very very dangerous.  Extremely.

To be honest, looking at the ingredients, I would not know that I would have this dangerous attraction to these cookies.  I'm not really one for butterscotch chips, to be honest.  But they make this cookie heavenly, trust me. Thank you to my mother-in-law who found this recipe and made it one year.  Well, thanks, I think....  I'll let you know after I eat an entire batch of these things!

Here we go...

The crust of this cookie is  made of flour, brown sugar, butter and salt.  Throw it all in the mixer bowl and mix until it is crumbly.

Dump the crumbly mixture into a parchment covered half-sheet pan (13x18-inch).  Spread it around the pan as evenly as you can.  Then place a piece of plastic wrap on top if it all and use something to roll it out flat.  (The recipe does not say to do this, but it is a fast, easy way to get it all out into the pan and evenly pressed down.  I used a large kids vitamin bottle for rolling.  If you get vitamins at Costco or Sams and have one of these giant bottles, this will work for you too!

Bake this at 350F for 10-12 minutes, until it is golden on top.  If you bake it too long, it will be too crunchy and very hard to cut when you get to the cutting point.  I baked mine for 10 minutes and could have probably done 11 but was nervous about getting to the "too crunchy" point.

In the mean time, measure out your nuts (4c) and set them aside.  Then make the caramel...  Butterscotch chips, butter, and corn syrup, melted together in a saucepan.  Again, trust me, the butterscotch chips are really good here!

Stir a lot to keep it from burning on the bottom of the pan, and to help the butterscotch chips melt.  Timing wise, you want to this to be ready just as you are taking the bottom layer out of the oven.

Pull the crust out and sprinkle the nuts relatively evenly all over.  Immediately pour the caramel over the top, getting it as even as you can.  Then back into the oven it goes, for another 10-12 minutes.

And it will come out looking like this.  Mmmm.  Let it sit on a rack for about an hour to cool.  You don't want them to be gooey when you try to slice them.  Cut them into bars about 1x2 inches.  Small is good with these.  Then you get to eat more of them over time.  I ended up with 98 bars, having 14 rows across the wide part of the pan and 7 across the top.  Obviously they were not quite all 1x2 inches, but that is okay with me!

Salted Nut Bars
adapted from The Baking Sheet, King Arthur Flour

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt

4 cups salted mixed nuts
3/4 cup corn syrup (I used almost all light, but ran low so used about 1 1/2 TB dark)
3 TB  unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips (I just dumped in the entire 11 oz bag, which was about 1 2/3 c)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a half-sheet pan (13x18-inch) with parchment paper, letting the paper go up the sides of the pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, butter and salt in a mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment.  Mix until crumbly.  Pat the mixture into your prepared pan.  For a fast method, spread out the mixture with your hand, then cover with plastic wrap and use some sort of small roller to roll it all out and pressing into the corners and edges.  I used a big vitamin bottle.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly brown.  Allow to cool for a few minutes while you start on the topping, and then spread the nuts over the top.

Combine the corn syrup, butter and butterscotch chips in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Allow to come to a boil, stirring constantly.   Boil until all of the butterscotch chips are melted.  As soon as the chips are melted, pour the mixture evenly over the nuts.  Do not let the mixture cool first, as it will harden and become impossible to work with.

Bake for another 10-12 minutes.  The longer you bake them, the more candy-like the caramel will become, less chewy.  You need to find your perfect spot of chewy with some crunch.  I baked mine for 11 min. and they were fine. 

Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack for at least one hour.  Lay a fresh parchment paper over the top of the pan and flip the pan over onto the counter.  Then flip it back the right way so the nuts are on top. Slice with a sharp knife into 1x2-inch bars.  Store in an airtight container.
Printable Recipe

You need to try this out.  And then call me so I can come over and "test" them for you...

Friday, December 26, 2014

Sugar Cookies!

When the kiddos have parties in their classrooms at school, I generally try to sign up to bring the cookies.  Besides the fact that I have a baking compulsion, I also prefer to ensure that my kids eat homemade cookies, not random store-bought cookies with strangely colored icing or other yuckiness.  This year was no different, other than the fact that since the clever boy is now in a Mother's Day Out program one day a week, I had two class parties to deal with - his and the clever girl's!  I thought sugar cookies would be the best plan - what kid doesn't like sugar cookies??

Now, I have found that sugar cookies can be a hard recipe to perfect.  Not that they are difficult to make, but that many recipes are just not what I want.  They are too crispy, too soft, too sweet, too....  You get the picture! This year I turned to my trusty Baking: From My Home to Yours cookbook, as I knew Dorie would not steer me wrong.  And she didn't!  Mmmm.  These cookies are the perfect sugar cookie in my opinion.  They are crisp on the outside but just a little soft on the inside.  They are buttery and delicious.  I did not want to do actual cut-outs with cookie cutters (even though I have a ginormous quantity of cookie cutters, especially Christmas ones).  To expedite things, I rolled the dough into a log and did slice-and-bake cookies.  Before slicing, I rolled the logs in Christmas sprinkles so the edges would be nice and festive, and I'd still have a nice surface for sprinkling vanilla sugar when they came out of the oven.  I did change one thing in Dorie's recipe, in that I added 1/2 teaspoon almond extract.  I just like that flavor, especially when combined with vanilla.  But you could leave it out if you wanted!  You could add some lemon or orange zest, or nuts or something too, or just leave them plain!  Because even if they are plain, they will make you smile!  Yum. 
You can find this recipe here, on Dorie's blog.  And it's in Baking: From My Home to Yours on pages 146-147.  It is a great baking book, if you have a desire to bake more!  I made a double batch of cookies and ended up with 85.  My logs were about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter, I think.  These are easy, and if you do the slice-and-bake method, they are fast (except for the chilling time).  And a definite winner!  Even the teachers remarked about how delicious the cookies were! 

Any Christmas baking in your plans this year??

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hot Lemon Pie

Do you like lemon?  Well, this lemon pie is so amazingly easy and fast to make, your oven won't even be warmed up by the time you are ready to bake!  And at the end, you will have only one thing to clean, your blender!

You end up with a custardy, creamy, delicious pie in NO time at all, with barely any work involved!  Are you in? 

Hot Lemon Pie
1 large Meyer Lemon, washed well
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 9-inch pie crust

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Cut the lemon into medium-to-large pieces (depending on your blender capabilities).  Remove the seeds but that is it.  Keep the rind and peel intact!  Put all of the ingredients (except the pie shell!) into the blender and whirl like crazy.  The mixture will be foamy.  Keep blending until the mixture is smooth, with no lumps of butter.  Pour the mixture into an unbaked pie shell and bake for 40-50 minutes.  This pie sets up like custard.  Serve warm or chilled.  Refrigerate any leftovers.
Printable Recipe

I know that this recipe calls for a Meyer lemon, but I am going to try it with a regular lemon next time.  I think as long as I don't end up with one of those lemons that is has a gigantic amount of rind, it will still work!  I like the tartness of a regular lemon better than the Meyer lemons, personally.  However, this pie is delicious and you can always adjust the sugar content to your preference! 

Oh, and please note that there are lots of tiny slices in the picture on top because this was on a table with lots of other pies for Thanksgiving!  Feel free to use normal (bigger!) slices for this pie!

Friday, December 19, 2014

C & B Marianna Table Runner Tutorial

A while back, I received a Crate and Barrel advertisement in the mail.  I glanced through it while eating lunch one day, and promptly ripped this page from the book:

Item "C" are the new Marianna Table Linens.  This one got my brain a-ticking....  I can do this!  Ruby, my sewing machine, can do a ton of fancy stitches, so I knew that we could make something like this!

Instead of using linen, I used my favorite home decorating fabric, painters drop cloth.  I had a bunch already, from a curtain project that was not to be, so I pulled one of these out for my project.  Now, if you have never worked with a painters drop cloth, here is some info you might need:
  1. You need to wash them a few times so they are less stiff.  Once you do, they will be soft and lovely!
  2. Whomever sews the hems on drop cloths does not have any concern in making them straight.  Since you are making table runners, you will need some straight edges.  So, do not assume that any edge of your drop cloth is straight, you will need to do that yourself.  Here is what I do:  I cut the hem off of each side, really close to the stitching line.  You could also rip out the stitching (they use big stitches) but I am lazy and time is valuable, so I don't do that.  Drop cloths are made of a somewhat loose weave, of two strands crossing both directions.  You want to grab a set of those 2-strand pieces and gently pull it out, all the way down the fabric, leaving a little gap in the weave.  Somewhere close to the edge, snip a tiny bit (like 1/2 inch) in the direction you want to straighten.  Start with one of the long sides.  See how the weave looks like a woven tick-tac-toe?  Grab one of the lengths (2 strands together) and gently pull it out of the fabric.  This is a bit if a slow process, as the strands will break several times.  When they do, you will be able to find where they break by following the gap you have made already.  Use a straight-pin to loosen the strands again, and then pull some more.  Here is a video that also explains this process.  Once you  have pulled the strands totally out of the fabric, cut the fabric down the little path that you made.
Now that you have a straight long side to your drop cloth, you can use the same method for cutting your table runner.  The Marianna table runner is 14 inches wide, so I measured 16 inches, to allow for 2 half-inch double hems on each side.  If you have a really big cutting mat, you might be able to just cut the fabric straight without pulling the strand.  I was not certain my cut would be straight, so I pulled the strands.

Fold and press a scant 1/2 inch hem on each long side, and then fold again, press and sew.  Drop cloth, because of it's loose weave, ravels a lot so you want to make sure you get good hems on each side.  Do not hem the short ends, however.  At this point, just do some sort of finishing to the end, i.e. zigzag, overcast, serger, etc.  This is your table runner prep.  Now you can start the fun part!

Figure out what fun stitches you want to do!  I used 4 different stitches, 6 different thread colors, and made 11 total stitch paths.  If we call my stitch patterns A, B, C, and D, here is how I planned my paths:
The underside/wrong side of the table runner was always a cream colored thread (I found Coats and Clark 8010 to be a good match for my fabric), so the color is only on the top.  These fancy stitches use a LOT of thread, so make sure you have some newer spools, especially of the bobbin thread! 

Now just start sewing, randomly moving around the table runner.  Start at one short edge and wind your way down to the other end.  I sort of plotted out where I was going with each color, by placing pins down the runner in places where I thought I might want to change direction.  You can just wing it, too! 

When you finish sewing on  your last color, hem the short sides of the runner as you did the long ones.  And you're done! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TWD: Baking with Julia - Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps

We are back to Baking with Julia this week, with Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps.  Had I not watched a video of Marcel Desaulniers making these cookies with Julia, I would have never figured out the "nightcap" part.  See that swirl on the top of the cookie?  It is supposed to look like an old-fashioned nightcap.  Whatever.  Personally, aesthetically, I am not thrilled at the nightcap swirl.  It too closely resembles things that are not food and should never be confused with food, in my opinion.

However, let's not judge a book by it's cover, okay?  Let's talk about the cookies themselves.  I made half of the recipe, and ended up with 16 cookies.  The clever girl called these "cookie cakes".  The actual cookie part is quite cake-like.  Soft like a moon-pie. I would prefer a little more texture, since the ganache is also soft, but they are nice and soft and airy. 

The ganache is where the mint comes into play, or where it is SUPPOSED to come into play.  You heat cream with some fresh chopped mint, and then strain the cream into a bowl of chopped chocolate (which was supposed to be semi-sweet, but I used 2/3 semi-sweet and 1/3 70% dark chocolate).  The mint flavor did not come through as much as I would have liked.  I think to get a better mint flavor, you would have to heat the cream with the mint and then let it steep for a while, 20 minutes or so, and then heat the cream back up to then strain into the chopped chocolate.  The mint needs a bit longer to release its flavor into the cream.  You could also just add some peppermint extract...

Also regarding the ganache - the recipe says to spread the hot ganache on a sheet pan and refrigerate it to chill completely.  Well, at that point, it is unworkable so you then have to leave it out at room temperature for a while.  I initially thought I'd be lazy, so instead of getting out a piping bag and tip, I just scooped the ganache into a ziplock bag and trimmed the corner to pipe onto the cookies.  Maybe it was just that the ganache was still to firm to use, but it did not work for me.  It was a mess and then somehow the ziplock bag got a hole in another random spot so chocolate was oozing out all over the place!  (This is not always a bad thing, mind you, but in this case I was trying to convince said chocolate to behave and swirl out onto cookies for filling!)  So I went ahead and got the piping bag and a proper tip and suddenly the ganache knew I meant business so it complied and piped out nicely.  I'll show that ganache who is boss!  HA!

Overall, these are yummy and would be really great on a party tray.  You are sure to get oohs and aahs with cookies filled and topped with ganache!  I would probably try to bake the cookies a bit longer next time, and try to extract more mint flavor into the ganache.

This recipe can be found on pages 307-308 of Baking with Julia.  Check out what our other bakers did by clicking here!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TWD: Baking Chez Moi - Rugelach

This Tuesday is a "Baking Chez Moi" week, not to be confused with the "Baking With Julia" weeks.  If you aren't confused, congratulations, because I sure am!  I can't keep it all straight!  Hopefully I get the hang if this soon....  Surely I will, right?  I mean, RIGHT??

Anyway, the recipe this week was Rugelach, and if you are a frequent visitor to my blog, you will know that rugelach is an important cookie in my house.  We have had them at Christmas for as long as I can remember, and for as long as my sister can remember, and let me tell you, that girl remembers EVERYTHING.  It is amazing, really.  Isn't it crazy how some people remember the details of so many things?  My memory seems to have a quota, so as new memories get in, others get dumped.  Maybe I need ginko biloba or something...

ANYWAY, this is all to clarify why a new rugelach recipe is up to a big test in my house.  We did another rugelach recipe for the Baking with Julia book, so this is rugelach recipe number 3.  I discuss more about the history of Rugelach and the other recipes in the other posts, if you are interested.  According to Dorie, this is the Rugelach that Won Over France.  But will it win over my rugelach-loving house??? 

"My" rugelach recipe rolls the cookies into crescents, as opposed logs that are sliced like in this recipe and the BWJ recipe.  The benefit to the crescent?  You get  more cookie!!  Each cookie is more substantial.  I give that two thumbs up.

This particular recipe uses a dough that is rolled very thin, and then a filling of coconut, dried cherries, toasted pecans and semi-sweet (bittersweet) chocolate is spread across and it is all rolled into a log.  This filling is DELISH.  I will definitely be incorporating it into my family's rugelach when I make it for Christmas this year.  Can you go wrong with that combination?  I say not.  I did switch the semi-sweet chocolate to bittersweet, just because that is how we do things in my house, but I am sure it is delicious the other way too, for those who prefer semi-sweet.

To go back to the substantial-ness of the cookie....  Yes, that is probably not really a word but I think you know what I mean.  The BCM rugelach cookies are TINY.  So yes, it makes like 4 dozen, but they are 4 dozen TINY little cookies.  My rugelach recipe makes about 5 dozen, and they are actual cookies.  So with this recipe, you might want to eat a handful (or two honestly) because you can convince your brain that one or two cookies is just ridiculous and you certainly deserve more than that.  OR, if you have much more self discipline than I, you could only eat your two cookies and be so proud of yourself for really "cutting back" during the holidays. 

This cookies is like a middle ground between the BWJ rugelach and my rugelach.  And it is a very happy, yummy middle.  I still love my rugelach the best (totally biased, I know) so I will stick to that recipe HOWEVER with the addition of this new filling.  This is too good not to share with the rest of my family!!

For other baker's thoughts on this recipe, visit the TWD blog and click on "LYL:  Rugelach".   The recipe can be found on pages 301-302 of Baking Chez Moi. 

(P.S.  I did actually make the previous BCM recipe, Cranberry Crackle Tart, for Thanksgiving this year.  It was dive-bombed before I got photos taken, and I wasn't in love with the recipe, so I didn't bother to post anything.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Outfits!

I went a little crazy and made coordinating Christmas outfits for the kids this year!  I figure I won't be able to do this to them for very long, so I had better do it while I can!! 

My idea started with making a long Johnny for the clever boy, using my favorite pattern from Children's Corner.  I made him a short version over the summer and that pattern is so easy and so cute, it is one that I will repeat until he refuses to wear them anymore!  I found some super soft thin-wale corduroy at Joann's, and picked out a red/white stripe to use as lining.  Normally I just use a nice white muslin for lining, but since the legs would be rolled up a bit, I thought a pattern would be fun!  

As usual, I found the graphic for the penguin by searching Google images, and was able to use all scrap fabric to make the little guy!  I thought about finding a cute button or jingle bell for the top of the penguin's hat, but then realized that since the clever boy sleeps on his tummy and he would theoretically take a nap in this outfit some day, a button or jingle bell would not be a good plan.  So I embroidered a little star with some sparkly floss. 

Once his outfit was planned in my head, I had to figure out something for the clever girl.  I browsed my favorite kid pattern source, Oliver + S, and found the Library Dress.  This dress is supposed to have 3/4 sleeves, but I made them long instead.  To do this, I measured another of the clever girl's dresses to figure out the right length, and added the difference between the long length and the pattern's 3/4 length to the sleeve pattern, just continuing the pattern lines straight, no taper.  Easy peasy.  Configuring the pattern to fit my slender little girl was another story!  Based on the pattern measurements, she is a size 6 in length but more like a 5 (or maybe smaller but the pattern sizes start at 5) in girth.  So I cut each pattern piece with this in mind, using the size 5 lines for areas across her body and size 6 lines for areas of length.  The armholes were cut as a 6.  It was a bit tricky, but I finally got the pieces traced and cut!  Phew.

As you can see, I used the same green corduroy and red/white striped fabric for the Library Dress.  And here is where I underestimated my clever girl....  I did not plan on any applique for her dress, as I thought she might be "too grown up" for that.  Ha!  She isn't!  (Yahoo!)  I showed her the dress, sans candy canes, and the Johnny for the clever boy, and she got a sad face and asked where HER decoration was.  Why did he get a penguin and she didn't get anything??  All righty then!  So I added some candy canes with ribbon.  The candy canes are appliqued, but the ribbon is real ribbon that I tied into a bow and sewed to the dress.  That clever girl was on to something, because I honestly think the candy canes MAKE this outfit!  They took it from a pretty Christmas dress to an AWESOME Christmas dress!  The photos don't show the back of the dress, but there are buttons all the way down the back, the same little white buttons that are on the playsuit shoulders. 

This dress looks WAY more complicated than it really is.  I love it.  I think that the photos on the actual pattern cover do not give it justice.  There is another version with a collar, and I wonder if I could make it in a "uniform" color for the clever girl to wear to school??  Everything needs a collar, so surely this pattern would work!  Maybe for next school year...

Three cheers for sewing Christmas outfits for my kiddos!  
Hip hip hooray!  Hip hip hooray!  Hip hip hooray!

Are you doing any holiday sewing???

Monday, December 1, 2014

Juliana's Brazilian Milk Pudding

Earlier in the school-year, the clever girl's school had a "Hispanic Heritage Day" in which we were all asked to bring appropriately Hispanic foods and the kids would have these items for lunch while they theoretically gained some appreciation for another culture.  I say "theoretically" because other than eating, I didn't see many other cultural activities.  However at one point, someone brought out a stereo and turned on some music...

That is when I turned to the mom next to me and told her that I didn't realize that '80s Madonna was, in fact, Hispanic.  Huh.  After a while of playing random non-Hispanic music, the music was turned off.  I am not sure why appropriate music was not played, since we live in Houston and there are several radio stations that would have worked just fine.  But what do I know?  I was there to help with the food.  I stationed myself at the dessert table (if the shoe fits...) and happened to be near this heavenly concoction called "Brazilian Milk Pudding".  It just so happens that my lovely friend standing next to me made this particular dessert so I was able to taste and quiz her about the dish!  First of all, let me assure you that it is AMAZING.  You can't tell from the photo above, but the bottom of this pudding (which is the TOP when it cooks) gets all nice and caramelized and so, so delicious.  You can sort of see this in the photo below.  See how the bottom is nice and dark?  Oh, my, this creamy pudding just melts in your mouth with that yummy caramelized sugar flavor.  I caution you.  Your eyes will roll into the back of your head.

And since we were feeding kids, who were WAY more interested in the store-bought cupcakes with freakishly bright icing instead of trying this truly divine dessert, I was able to have more than one sample.  Yeah for me!  Too bad for those silly kids!  Oh, but  make no mistake, Juliana's son returned repeatedly to the table for additional helpings of this dessert.  He knows what's good!

I, of course, begged for the recipe so I could make it at home and share it with you!  Let me tell you, YOU CAN MAKE THIS.  And you should.  It is super easy and uses 4 ingredients.  4!  Unless you count water as an ingredient, in which case it takes 5 ingredients.

According to my friend, the Portuguese originally created this dish and brought it to Brazil.  My friend had to translate her recipe from Portuguese in order to send it to me, so this is legit, my friends.

Brazilian Milk Pudding

½ cup of Sugar
1/5 cup of water  (3 TB plus a scant teaspoon)

Pour the sugar into a small sauce pan and sprinkle with some drops of water.  Place the pan on the burner on high.  Let the mixture boil without mixing it.  Once the sides start to get dark, wait until it reaches the caramel color you like, then turn the heat to low and mix it with a spoon.  Once completely mixed, add the 1/5 cup water.  BE CAREFUL when you pour the water, as the heat will make the water and the caramel boil and pot at once; so it is recommended that you use a kitchen glove when you do it.  After pouring the water mix it for a couple minutes and remove from the heat.  Immediately pour into a bundt pan.  Twist the pan around so that the caramel will stick to the sides and the raised middle part.  Let it stand to cool.

Milk Pudding:
6 eggs
2 cans of condensed milk (the best brand is Nestle’s La Lechera)
2 cans (use the condensed milk can to measure) of milk

Preheat the oven to 400F. 
In a blender, blend the eggs by themselves first.  Add the 2 cans of condensed milk and blend. Finally, add the 2 cans with milk.  Once blended, pour the mixture into the bundt pan and place it in a roasting pan.  Pour water into the roasting pan until it reaches at least 1/3 the height of the bundt pan.  Bake for about 40-60 minutes.  Since ovens vary, once it gets to 40 minutes, check the consistency.  You want it to be firm (not hard), so if you move the pan a little bit and you see the content move too much it is still liquid, so check every 10 minutes after that.  Once firmer, you can stick a tooth pick in it to confirm it is done.

Remove the bundt pan from the oven and water bath and allow to cool completely before refrigerating for at least 6 hours.  When ready to serve, you will want to warm the bottom of the bundt pan a little so the caramel loosens.  To do this, put your hottest tap water into the roasting pan and let the bundt pan swim around for a few minutes.  Move it around and wiggle around the sides a bit so all of the caramel gets soft enough.  You will see the caramel soften around the sides of the pan.  Once this happens, you can flip it onto a serving platter with a lip.  That lip is important - it catches the running caramel!
Dive in to yummy bliss!

I made Juliana's Brazilian Milk Pudding for church one day and it was a big hit.  I got lots of recipe requests.  I hope they all make it!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake

A while back, we attended a dinner party with a "fall" theme.  I signed up for the dessert (as usual) and the hostess selected a pumpkin cheesecake.  I used to say that I am not really a "cheesecake person" but now that I keep making them for I  might not like ALL cheesecakes, but I like the ones that I make!  The key is keeping it light.  I am not a fan of the cheesecake wherein you eat a few bites and feel like you just ate a bowling ball.  Those are just too much for me.  But these light ones that are nice and creamy just make me want to keep eating and lick the plate! 

I combined a few ideas for this particular cheesecake, so here is my recipe, which is based on "Gina's Pumpkin Cheesecake" by Patrick and Gina Neely of Food Network. 

Pumpkin Cheesecake
adapted from Food Network
Serves 8-10

1 1/2 cups crushed gingerbread cookies
1/3 cup crushed pecans
1-2 TB chopped crystallized ginger
4 TB unsalted butter, melted

4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
4 extra large eggs (or 5 large eggs)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (use more if you use ground nutmeg, not freshly grated)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 TB all-purpose flour

Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream, very cold
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Salted Caramel Sauce 
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1 TB corn syrup
1/2 c. whipping cream
2 TB unsalted butter
1 1/2 ts. sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350F.   Place the gingerbread cookies in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until crumbly.  Add pecans and crystallized ginger and pulse a few times until well mixed.  Pour into a large bowl and stir in the melted butter.  Press the mixture into the bottom (not the sides) of a 9-inch springform pan.  Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely while you prepare the filling.

Heat water in a teakettle and bring to a boil.

Beat the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Add the pumpkin and beat until incorporated.  Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the spices through vanilla.  Mix until blended.  Add the flour and mix until the flour is incorporated.

Wrap the bottom and sides of your cooled springform pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil.  Pour the filling into the pan and place the springform pan into a small roasting pan.  Place the roasting pan on the oven rack and then pour the hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan, around the pan.  The water needs to go at least 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the pan, so you may need to boil more water.  If this is the case, VERY VERY CAREFULLY take the pan out of the oven while the water boils.  Place the pan back on the oven rack before pouring the additional water in the pan.  The more water in the pan, the easier it is to spill out while moving, so save your arms and place the pan on the rack first! 

Bake the cheesecake until the center moves slightly when the pan is gently wiggled, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Remove the cake from the water bath and allow to cool on a wire rack. 

Chill the cheesecake for at least 4 hours before serving.  Serve with salted caramel sauce and cinnamon whipped cream.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream:
Pour the heavy cream into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until thick and frothy.  Add the remaining ingredients and beat until medium peaks form.

Salted Caramel Sauce:
Place the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan, and stir to combine.  Place the saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil without stirring.  Swirl the ingredients in the pan occasionally.  Continue boiling until the mixture reaches a light amber color.  Remove from heat and very carefully add the cream in a slow steady stream, while stirring constantly.  Once combined, add the butter and salt and continue stirring until both are melted and combined.  Cool to room temperature before using.
Printable Recipe

Mmmm...  This combination of flavors is perfection! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fairies and Gnomes

Yes, I know, Halloween was totally 2+ weeks ago, but I still wanted to post the costumes we made this year in case it inspires anyone for next year!  If I wait until next year to get these posted, I'll forget entirely!! 

When I asked the clever girl what she wanted to be for Halloween this year, it took a while to convince her that Elsa (of the Frozen movie, in case you don't have a little girl running around your house) was not the best idea.  Once I explained that practically EVERY little girl was going to be Elsa this year, and wouldn't it be fun to be something DIFFERENT, she agreed and decided upon being a fairy.  I JUMPED on it.  Truly, I had to get her excited about it so she wouldn't be sad about not being Elsa!  And it worked!  She loved her fairy costume.  Once we decided that she would be a fairy, we brainstormed what the clever boy might be, and came up with a Gnome.  Love it! 

For the fairy, I didn't have to do a lot, as the main part of her costume was a dance recital costume from last summer.  I did make her a wand and her fairy wings.  

For the wand, I followed the directions on this youtube video to make a poof out of sparkly tulle and organza.  It is just like making a pompom, just on a much larger scale.  I cut a donut shape out of cardboard and then folded it in half and wrapped the pink and blue tulle/organza (holding both together) around and around the half-donut.  I wrapped a thin wooden dowel with pink ribbon and attached it to the poof with my trusty glue gun.  Then I tied some ribbon around the top under the poof just to make it extra fun.  I was so thrilled to find this tulle and organza that totally matched the dance recital outfit!  I win!  And the clever girl thought this wand was AWESOME.  She went around turning all of us into princes and princesses for days!

For the wings, I followed this instructable video.  HOWEVER, I could only find white tights, no sparkly pink or purple or blue or ANYTHING (ugh) so I used white and then painted them repeatedly with glitter paint.  And I say repeatedly because let me tell you, it was A LOT.  The thing with glitter paint is this:  It tends to be CLEAR paint with some glitter thrown in.  So if you are wanting coverage, it doesn't work so well.  I would do more searching for the right tights next time and avoid painting altogether!  Once it was fully constructed and painted, I glued sequins all over the wings in random patterns.  I thought they would provide some fun sparkle when lights hit!

Oh and that instructable video had a EXCELLENT tip for coverage under a leotard.  It happened to be cool on Halloween night, so the clever girl needed something over her arms, which a dance costume does not provide.  The idea from instructables was BRILLIANT.  Take a pair of nude tights and cut the crotch out - keeping the crotch seam IN but just cut the fabric part out of the middle.  Pull the tights over the HEAD, so the head is now going through what the crotch area used to be.  Put the arms in the tights legs and cut the tights wrist-length to make them long sleeves.  Now you have a thin nude long sleeved shirt that fits under a leotard!  Ta-da!

For the gnome, I figured he basically needed a hat, beard, belt, and blue jacket.  For the hat, I followed this AWESOME tutorial on deliacreates which uses all sorts of geometry and math to get a perfectly fitting felt cone hat.  I love the math part.  Made me think a bit and was lots of fun.  I pinched the hat together a bit on top to make it more gnome-y, and did a few stitches to hold the pinches together.

I made the beard with fur from the craft store cut into a beard-like shape - like a shaggy triangle-ish shape with a slightly rounded top.  I cut a few slits from the rounded top down about an inch, laid a strip of 1/4 inch wide elastic under the slits, then folded and glued the pieces down. Like this:

I intentionally made the beard so that it hung down around his chest area, not up on his face, as I knew there was no way the clever boy would go for that!

For the belt buckle, I cut a piece of yellow craft foam into a rectangle and cut two slits on the sides:

Then I put a piece of black 2-inch elastic up through one side and down through the other so it looked more like a buckle, and sewed the ends together, making it loose enough to go around the clever boy's belly while wearing the jacket.

For the jacket, I made Simplicity 2526, view D, size 2, out of navy fleece.  I made the sleeves 2 3/4 inches longer than the pattern suggested, and used a 1/2 inch hem on the sleeve, instead of the allowed 1 1/4 inch hem.  I think the sleeves on this jacket ran small, so I made them longer plus added more for a cuff.  I trimmed the cuff with yellow gingham so that the part that folded up was gingham.  I also used the gingham under the collar and in the button facing, so that the jacket would not be as thick in those places.  I love how this turned out!  The pattern was easy and sewing with fleece is a breeze!  No need to finish seams!  I had never sewn with fleece before!  If I ever figure out how to use my serger (some day....) this would be even easier, I bet!

Oh, and as a note, the pattern does not suggest fleece for this view of the jacket but does for another view.  I could not figure out why, so I found an email address for Simplicity and sent them a message.  They contacted me back right away!  Impressive!

So, not only did the clever boy get a great gnome costume, he got a jacket he can wear all the time!  (Note that the hood in the above photo is not part of the jacket but on the shirt he has on underneath.)

In all, a successful Halloween.  Both kids had a BLAST and the costumes were a total hit!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TWD: Baking with Julia - Amaretti

We made Amaretti this week with Baking with Julia!  Now, I have to admit, I had no idea what amaretti actually were when this recipe was chosen.  I  mean, I knew it had to contain almonds, but I had never heard of amaretti before.  Essentially it is an almond flavored macaron.

Here are my thoughts on amaretti:
1)  They are super easy to make.  Literally, there are 3 ingredients:  almond paste, sugar, egg whites.  Yes there is a pine nut on top so that is technically ingredient number 4 but it isn't actually IN the cookie, just pressed on top so I don't count that one.  It's essentially decoration.
2)  They are gluten-free for the many people who sadly cannot digest gluten well.
3)  Weird technique alert:  After piping the cookies onto the cookie sheet, you dab them with a wet tea-towel to smooth out the tops.  That's a new one for me!
4)  They are crisp on the outside and chewy inside.
5)  They are one of the weirdest cookies I have ever eaten.
6)  However, I can't stop eating them!  I am constantly lifting up the lid on their container and eating another one!!  And each time, I think, "huh, these are weird, but good, too!"

Truly, I think I would enjoy anything involving almond paste.  I love almond flavor so that is right up my alley.  If you DO NOT like almond flavor, these would NOT be the cookie for you!  But if you do, yum.  Get yourself a nice hot mug of tea and a couple of these cookies on a plate and put your feet up.  Well, only put your feet up if the cookie tin is nearby, so you don't have to get up to get more.  Because you might want to do that, and it would be a fat bummer to get all comfy with your cookies and tea and then  have to get up again just to get more!

I might try to reduce the sugar a bit in these next time.  And I am not sure if I really need the pine nut on top.  Why not a slivered almond?  Too much almond?  Maybe do a sprinkle of big-grain sugar?  

Check out the TWD blog under "LYL:  Amaretti" to see what the other bloggers thought about amaretti!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

TWD: Baking Chez Moi - Palets de Dames

Welcome to the first recipe in a new baking adventure!  The Tuesdays with Dorie group has taken on a new cookbook!  See, Dorie Greenspan published a new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi, so we couldn't let this awesome event pass us by.  We are taking it on, while continuing with our other cookbook, Baking with Julia.   Honestly, this is an undertaking that I am not certain I will be able to totally complete, as it means that we are baking and posting something for every Tuesday.  And while you know I have a compulsion to bake, I have other things I want to bake/cook/post about as well, so this could get tricky.  But I will do my best and I hope you'll stick with me!

So, our first recipe is Palets de Dames.  They are a cakey cookie with a delicate vanilla flavor that is brightened with a lemony-sweet icing on top.  The batter for this cookie is really like cake batter.  Very soft and sticky.  It refrigerates for at least an hour, which helps it firm up to be a bit more cookie-dough-ish.   It is then scooped out in little balls onto the cookie sheet.  Dorie recommends using a 2-teaspoon cookie scoop for such an endeavor.  That lady is smart.  I don't have one so I just used 2 teaspoons-worth of dough and rolled it in my hands.  This was sticky and messy.  Doable, of course, but don't you think I should purchase some cookie scoops?  I think it is definitely a good idea.  You can never have too many baking gadgets, can you?  (Hint: The correct answer is "No, of COURSE not!")

While these cookies are cute, and tasty, I am not sure I'll make them again.  They aren't a cookie that call to me every time I walk near the kitchen, "come have a treat...." which, actually, is probably a good thing.  However if anyone asks for iced cookies, I'd make these in a heartbeat.  They really are easy and tasty.  Oh, and I added the sprinkles.  They aren't a necessity for these cookies, but they sure make them cute, huh?  And trust me, sprinkles take them OVER THE TOP for 6-year old girls! 

You can find this recipe on pages 272-274 of Baking Chez Moi.  Since this is my first recipe out of this book, I can't say much about the book as a whole yet.  However, based on the brilliance of Baking: From My Home to Yours and my complete admiration for Dorie Greenspan, I suspect that this cookbook will be fantastic!  I was able to pre-order it before it was published, so it arrived on my doorstep the exact day it came out!  I have to admit that I grabbed the book from my porch, ran into the house, and slowly but eagerly looked through every page.  I'm such a dork. 

If you want to see what other bakers thought of this recipe, head to the Tuesdays with Dorie blog and click on LYL:  Palets de Dames.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Coconut and Chocolate Macaroons

When life gives you lots of egg whites, make macaroons!  That's what I decided, anyway.  You may wonder when life gives you lots of egg whites.  In my life, it happens when I make ice cream.  Ice cream recipes tend to call for lots of egg yolks, and then you have whites left over.  So I suggest making good use of those whites and making macaroons!  (You can also freeze egg whites, I have read, but I haven't actually done that before.... great idea though!)

These are actually really easy to make.  And yet they look as though you did something very complicated!  First, you gently cook some egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and flour in a large skillet, add some vanilla, and then let it cool.  I plopped mine in the refrigerator and finished up another day.  When you are ready to bake, moisten your hands with water and roll the coconut mixture into balls, place them on a baking sheet, and slide them into the oven.  If you want to dip them in chocolate (why wouldn't you want to do that??) melt the chocolate in a double boiler, dip each macaroon in the melted chocolate, and place on a baking sheet covered in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate until set.  DONE.  It really is that easy. 

You have to try this!

Coconut and Chocolate Macaroons
adapted from David Lebovitz, Ready for Dessert
makes approximately 30 cookies
4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 TB honey
2 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces (or amount of your choosing) bittersweet (or semi-sweet) chocolate, chopped

Mix together the egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and flour in a large skillet.  Heat over low to medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to scorch on the bottom.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract.  Place mixture in a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.  You can now refrigerate the mixture for up to a week, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Moisten your hands with water (this is important - it helps the coconut mixture stick to itself and not to you!).  Make mounds that are approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place them evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool completely.

Melt chocolate in a double-boiler set over simmering water.  Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap.  Dip each cookie into the chocolate and place on the baking sheet.  Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes, until the chocolate it set.
NOTE:  You should be able to find unsweetened flaked coconut in the baking aisle of a large grocery store.  I think mine was "Bob's Red Mill" brand.  It tends to come in tinier flakes than your typical sweetened coconut, and the bag is more rectangular instead of flat.  If you can't find it there, check your local natural foods store or Whole Foods type market.
Printable Recipe

These were a HUGE hit in my house.  Mr. Clever Mom thought the kids must have done something very special to warrant macaroons.  He wanted to know what the special occasion might be.  I just let him guess.....

Baby in a trance of coconut/chocolate bliss....

They are messy if you eat them before the chocolate sets! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Coconut Lime Shrimp Tacos

Ready for a quick and delicious dinner?  Here you go!  Coconut Lime Shrimp Tacos!  These are not only delicious, but they are very fast, especially you can get the people at the fish counter to peel and de-vein the shrimp for you before you even bring them home!  (I must admit, this is what I usually try to do.  I have a total aversion to de-veining shrimp.)  So if you can get said fishmonger to peel and de-vein the shrimp for you, you are golden and this recipe will be a snap! 

Besides the fact that the shrimp are coated in a tasty mixture of coconut and lime zest, there is an awesome salsa on top made of red pepper, mango and avocado.  Doesn't it look bright and cheerful?  It tastes that way, too!    I realize that these ingredients may be seasonal for some people, so if you can't get mango right now at your supermarket, print out this recipe and put it somewhere that you will remember it come summer.  If you CAN get mango, get it and enjoy a piece of summer for just a bit longer!

Coconut Lime Shrimp Tacos
adapted from The Housewife in Training Files
Serves 4 (2 tacos each)

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined (wild, if you can get it!)
1 egg
1 overflowing cup of unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 ripe mango, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced (or onion/shallot of your preference)
2 avocados, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
8 corn tortillas

Preheat your oven to 375F.  Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and place over a lined baking sheet.

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels.  Whisk the egg in a shallow bowl.  Mix the coconut, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and lemon zest in another shallow bowl or pie pan.  Dip each shrimp in the egg and then cover completely with the coconut mixture.  Place on the wire rack, evenly spaced apart.  Bake shrimp for 10  minutes, or until coconut is lightly brown and shrimp is cooked.

While the shrimp are in the oven, combine the mango, red pepper, onion, cumin, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and lemon juice.  Once it is seasoned to your taste, gently mix in the avocado, being careful not to smash the pieces. 

Heat the tortillas in the microwave or over the flame of your stove.  Add the shrimp and place the salsa on top.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve immediately.
Printable Recipe

Yum!  Enjoy a bright, healthy, tasty dinner!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

TWD: Baking with Julia - Sunny-side-up Peach Pastries

Our Tuesday's with Dorie group decided that October would be puff pastry month.  Theoretically, the weather has gotten cooler (in many parts of the world, but not here, phooey!) so making puff pastry would not be as difficult.  Making puff pastry is a time consuming project but I find it rather nice.  It's kind of like a meditation.... Roll roll roll, fold into thirds, turn, do it again...  According to the book, when you are done with the 6 turns you make with puff pastry, there are 994 layers of dough and 993 layers of butter!  I'll have to take their word for it.  I will not be testing that theory! 

Pounded butter on dough

I have made puff pastry before and found this dough to be quite easy to work.  It was simple to make and rolled out very smoothly.  I did learn that while puff pastry recipes call for very cold butter, you should  NOT use frozen butter.  I had only 2 sticks of butter in the refrigerator when I started this recipe, and you need a pound, so I pulled 2 out of the freezer.  Well, frozen butter doesn't pound as well as cold butter does.  It just doesn't give!  In case you are wondering, when you first start working with the butter, you literally pound it with your rolling pin to get it softened a bit and into the right size to start.  It's quite nice, the pounding.  It just feels good, trust me!

A nice present.. Dough wrapped butter!
You wrap the butter in the dough and then roll it out into a long rectangle.  Fold it into thirds like a business letter, turn it, and roll it out again.  If you live somewhere that isn't actually cool, this can take a while because if the butter gets too warm, you need to cover the dough with plastic and put it in the refrigerator for at least 30-60 minutes to cool down again.  Then start again!  When you make puff pastry, you do 6 "turns" which includes rolling the the rectangle, folding the dough, and then turning the dough a different direction.  I refrigerated my dough after every 2 turns.  

Here is a hint for making puff pastry:  You need a cool room and a cool rolling surface.  I can't change the weather here that brought humidity into my house, but I could help out the rolling surface.  I do not have a marble board for rolling pastry (though obviously I NEED one!) so I improvise.  I set a metal baking sheet that just has a tiny rim on the ends upside down on top of a reusable ice mat.  The baking sheet becomes my rolling surface and it stays nice and cold with the ice mat underneath!   Here is mine:

I purchased mine at The Container Store but you can probably buy them on Amazon or other places.  

These pastries are supposed to look like sunny-side-up eggs.  There are supposed to be apricots on top, but since I could not find any, I used peaches instead.  Each pastry contains 1/2 of a peach, cut into two quarters for the "eggs".  While they aren't exactly what the recipe requested, they turned out pretty tasty just the same!

Me being me, I didn't sit down to actually WATCH the Baking with Julia episode that contains the puff pastry and Sunny-side-up Pastries until my own pastries were in the oven.  Yes, it is a bit late by then to change anything, but that is just how it goes sometimes!

My thoughts on this recipe:
  1. The book says to roll out the puff pastry to 1/8 to 1/4 inch and then cut into 4-inch circles.  The video says to roll out the puff pastry to 1/2 inch and then cut into 4-inch circles.  I think 1/2 inch would have been better.  By the time I had rolled my 4-inch circle into an 8-inch long oval, it was pretty darned thin in the middle.  Had I started out with a thicker circle, I'd have a thicker  oval.  And who would complain about a little more puff pastry??
  2. I prefer a different pastry cream recipe I think.  I didn't find this one to be as delicious as I thought it should be.  I wanted to want to lick the bowl, you know?  This was good, but it was not lick-the-bowl good.  It could be because I used vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean (out of sheer laziness and time conservation).  Maybe the vanilla bean would have made the difference?  But you could use any pastry cream recipe here.
  3. Speaking of pastry cream, I dalloped mine onto my pastry and then spread it around a bit to have a place for the peaches.  Wrong!  The better plan is to dallop it on and leave it in a mound.  Set the peaches/apricots up against the mound of cream. They help hold the cream in the pastry so it doesn't leak out.  Mine did leak a bit.  Lesson learned!
Overall, we  enjoyed these pastries!  They are certainly a delicious way to start the day, if you have them with breakfast as intended.  Mine were for dessert (I cannot imagine making these in the morning, but my mornings are a bit hectic with two kiddos) and they made a nice dessert as well!

Making these pastries gave me some nice scraps of puff pastry that will be used in the next Tuesdays with Dorie challenge.  However I also have another 1 1/4 pounds of puff pastry (this recipe used 1/2 of a puff pastry recipe, if  that makes sense) so what should I create with that???  Any suggestions?

The recipe for the puff pastry can be found on pages 46-49 of Baking with Julia, or you can find it here.  The recipe for the sunny-side-up apricot pastries can be found on pages 192-194 of Baking with Julia, or you can find it here. Remember, you don't have to make your own puff pastry to make this recipe!  You could grab a box at the grocery store and have an awesome pastry in no time!

Check out our other bakers thought by going to the TWD blog and clicking on the different baker's links!