brunch


Ok, I feel like lately, this blog is turning into a cry-for-help, in that…I cannot stop making all the bad-for-you desserts that we’re supposed to avoid!  And, it’s ten-zillion times worse when I make it, and it stays in my house for me and the family to eat, bc I don’t know about you, but that generally means that the kids will have some, E might have one piece or so, and yea, the rest is mine by default.  Gross.

Still, seeing (and drooling over) a fudge recipe on Pinterest is a sure-fire recipe for bathing suit-season disaster.  But, thankfully, that dreaded season is still months away, so bring on the homemade fudge! 😉

So, this truly couldn’t be easier- melt chocolate chips w/condensed milk and a dash of salt; remove from heat and add in some vanilla extract.  Tada, fudge.

I’m pretty suspicious, so we’ll see- but the best part of this “we’ll see” is that the fudge has to cool for about 2 hrs, bringing it well past the kids bedtime.  Oh well, guess I’ll have to be the taste-tester this time! 😉

Be back in a bit!

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So…my “I’ll be back” turned into two years– sorry! 😉

This was a tricky recipe bc it seemed to change dramatically w/temperature.  Initially from the fridge, it tasted good but seemed like I had just put chocolate frosting in the fridge; it wasn’t “fudge-y,” just chocolately and sweet.  However, after the ride to my parents house (about an hour and a half), I tried it again, and it was GREAT- even the consistency was perfect.  But then…later that night, out of the fridge for a few hours, the vanilla seemed so overpowering and actually kinda gross.

So, if you know just when you’d like to serve this (down to the hour!), this is a great recipe, especially bc it’s crazy-easy!  But, it’s really difficult to judge how it’ll turn out over time, so I may just keep on searching for a fudge recipe! 🙂

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This is something I’d wanted to try forever, but didn’t bc I was scared off.  Who knows why, but anyway, I avoided making apple butter.  Never again- especially now that I found a slow-cooker recipe! 🙂

The only bad thing about this recipe is that it takes a total of 12 hrs.  And, since I’m scared of leaving my slow-cooker on while we’re asleep, I had to start this pretty early.  (Well, it’s only 8am, but it’s still early to be thinking about cooking projects!)

Peel, core, and chop 2.5 lbs apples- they suggest using a mix to create a more complex flavor, and I normally would have done that, but we had loads of Fuji apples lying around, so I didn’t get fancy w/it.  Also, I used more apples than in the recipe, only bc mine were tiny, and the recipe was for large apples.

Then, add in white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg- and cook on low (stirring occasionally) for 10 hrs:

Be back in…oh, forever, w/an update! 😉

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Ok, so I started at 8, and it was finally ready at 6pm.  But, I totally forgot about it, since I’d been smelling it all day, and didn’t remember it until nearly 7!  (Oops!)  After the 10-hr cook, I used a hand-mixer to mash the apples- you’re supposed to use an immersion blender, but I don’t have one.  The hand-mixer was a bit tricky, but I smushed the apples into one side of the slow-cooker, and ran the mixer over them a lot until the mix was pretty smooth.

Then, one more hour of cooking on high.

OH- my apple butter was really thick, almost like paste, and the thought of one more hour of cooking had me thinking I’d just be cleaning a baked-on mess out of the slow-cooker, so I added about a half cup of water, and stirred it in.  Perfect!

E had some after dinner, and said it was really good- and wow, it totally is!  Definitely using this recipe again! 🙂

Another fun project, courtesy of Pinterest! 🙂  This was the “silly” project I had in mind the other day, that I never got around to making, and honestly, it wasn’t nearly as tricky as I thought it’d be.

For starters, I used pre-made crust, which takes out all the usual pie-making nonsense.  Next, the pies are super-small, so the lattice work is really easy to do!

Anyway, the recipe in the link above is for caramel apple pies- I just made apple.  Cut up about two small apples, mix w/a little bit of sugar, some cinnamon, the smallest dash of nutmeg, and sprinkle w/lemon.  Tada!  Then, cut out circles for your pies (I used one of the kids snack containers bc it was bigger than a glass), and press it into a cupcake pan:

Press the dough into the pan, and add the apples:

Next up, the lattice work.  I made another circle in the dough, and then just cut tiny strips into it. Assemble the strips to cover the apples, and just weave them together:

A little egg wash, and then into the oven (350-degrees) for about 25 minutes.

All done- and, yum!  I only made one, as a tester, and now I’m off to make more!  So cute! 🙂

(Just be sure to really let it cool before trying to take it out of the pan- I lost a bit of the bottom by being too impatient!)

 

So, this wasn’t the “silly thing” I was planning to make (that’s going to be a bit more time-consuming), but I thought that the funny name of this drink would still work!

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and it’s not really a “recipe,” per se, but more of a…well, a list of stuff to toss into your water that will allegedly help aid weight loss (I’m guessing that’s just bc it’s encouraging you to drink water!).  Anyway, here goes:  add a medium cucumber (sliced), one lemon (sliced), and a few sprigs of mint, and let it steep overnight.

This is fantastic, and I’m not even a cucumber-fan!  It smells like lemons, but tastes cucumber-y, but not gross cucumber-y bc of the mint.  It’s delicious!

Another “special request” from the 2012 Challenge (thanks, Rebekah!)- and, as luck would have it, I just came across a recipe for almond milk!  I have to say that I was kinda scared about this challenge, too, bc I had no idea where to start but…wow, this could not seem any easier to make!  Seriously, it’s two ingredients (one of which is water), and it involves soaking.  Then a blender.  Um, yea, I couldn’t be more excited to try this now!

You’ll need:  one cup almonds, two cups water.  Let the almonds soak for 2-8 hrs (I’m going w/eight), then strain, rinse well, and add to the blender w/3 cups of water.  Blend for about a minute, until the almonds are broken down.  Strain the milk through a fine-mesh strainer, and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Anyway, we’re still in the soaking stage, but this should be ready for “milking” later tonight- check back for an update!

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All done!  This was truly the easiest thing ever- as are most recipes that involve “soaking” as the most important step!  The water practically did all the work for me! 😉

So, I strained and rinsed the almonds, and tossed ’em in the blender w/more water.  Then…blend!  After that, I poured the mix through a strainer, and…tada, almond milk!

The only difference (obviously) from store-bought milk is that…they must add sweeteners bc it’s kinda bland.  Almond-y, but bland.  I’m not a huge fan of almond milk, so that may just be it.  But, if you’re interested, definitely worth making- it was actually kinda fun! 🙂

(Oh, sorry about using ‘miniature’ feature- I just really like the colors that feature makes.  But, that one picture looks like I’m practically filling up a thimble, and this made about 3 cups, so…again, sorry!)

* Quick question for anyone who’s made almond milk before:  Do you use the pulp afterwards for anything?  I was looking online for recipes, but many of them needed a dehydrator…So, just wondering! *

Making bread came from a suggestion for my 2012 Challenge (thanks,Marjorie!), but it’s definitely something I had been wanting to do.  I’ve avoided doing it before, though, bc as previously noted, I am a terrible baker.  Truly.  I hate the exactness required for baking, which is why most of my baking adventures turn into baking disasters.

However, I’ve been reading through bread recipes lately, specifically the comments, to see if I could find a seemingly “fool proof” one.  And, after choosing this one from AllRecipes, armed w/my measuring cup (ugh) and ingredients, I set out to give honey wheat bread a try.  I picked honey wheat bc this is what we usually use for our sandwich bread.

Start out by dissolving the yeast into warm water.  Then, add in the honey.  After that, the rest of the ingredients follow- I had a tough time trying to get the dough to accept all of the flour, though.  Seven cups of flour is a lot!  Then, leave the dough in a greased bowl and cover w/a damp towel.

It’s supposed to rise to near double in about 45 mins- mine took a bit longer.  Some of the comments on the recipe said to put it in a warm oven (heat up the oven on low for just a few minutes, turn it off, and add the dough, just to keep it warm), which is what I did w/the dough loaves later on bc they were taking forever to rise.

Once it rises, punch the dough down, divide it into two loaves, and add each loaf to a greased loaf pan.  Now, it needs to rise to about 1-1/2 inches above the top of the pan.

Only one of my loaves has risen this high- the other one might never bc I think I divided the dough unevenly between the two pans…we shall see.

Anyway, the first loaf is in the oven- 375 for 25-30 mins.  I am dying w/anticipation- seriously, it looks like real bread!  It’s kinda lumpy and bumpy, but y’know what?  It smells like bread!  It’s risen, it looks like a loaf of bread…I couldn’t be happier at this point!

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This is a really great recipe- first, the bread is delicious, and second, I successfully made bread!  The credit totally goes to the simplicity of this recipe!

It did take me a lot longer than the recipe suggested (they said 2 hrs, it took me about 5-6) bc my bread took its sweet time rising, but that wasn’t a problem since this was just an experiment, not something I needed at a certain time.  And, I think I will use the warm-oven trick for next time, to see if it speeds up rising time.  The second loaf is a lot smaller, since I didn’t divide the dough completely in half, but it still looks good!

Anyway, this is a great recipe, and I’ve even used some slices tonight for grilled cheeses…E loved it, too!

I’m really happy that I tried this- it’s no longer hanging over my head as one of those elusive or scary things anymore.  I guess I just thought that I’d go through all this work, and wind up w/bread dense as a brick or something equally inedible.  However, after today’s experiment, we found out that t’s totally possible for a non-baker to bake bread! 😉

Over the holiday weekend, I bought a(nother) Martha Stewart cookbook.  Bc I love them (and, it’s pretty).

And, bc a few people made fun of me for the purchase (“another cookbook?”), I’ve made a huge effort to immediately use it, just to prove them wrong.  So, here goes: herbed-tomato-soup!  😉

This is more of a photo-dump kind of post, mainly bc I made this a few days ago, and don’t remember the steps exactly.  But, the recipe is linked above, so check it out.  Also, I don’t have a food mill, so when it was all finished stewing, I poured the mix into a colander (where the juice stayed in a pot), and put only some small portions of the solids (the tomatoes, celery, etc) into the blender.  My “soup” is really chunky, so it’s more like…watery salsa (that sounds gross, but this wasn’t!)?  Anyway, it was great w/the crostini!

I scooped out the seeds before adding in the tomatoes

Yum!

Definitely worth buying a giant bag of tomatoes for…or, if you’re smart, waiting til the summer when they’re cheaper.  Anyway, super-good!

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