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Oldway's 2nd Annual Medditeranean Diet Recipe Contest!

Posted by Taylor on June 21, 2010 at 9:37 PM Comments comments (0)

Last month, I stumbled accross an article about the 2nd Annual Oldways Medditeranean Cooking Contest.  To be quite honest, I didn't know much about Medditeranean cooking then, but I took this as a challenge and decided to learn something new.  I didn't expect to win, as I imagined that my competition was mostly adults.  However, I was determined to give it a shot, and to try something new.

 

After closely studying the Medditeranean food pyramid, I discovered something new.  Little did I know, but my family actually follows the Medditeranean diet pretty closely.   As I was flipping through recipes, I found a favorite for Greek Pasta.  The dish features penne pasta, spinach, and tomatoes, and is paired with a key and delicious ingredient that many don't think to pair with pasta: white beans.  I continued to alter it to make it my own, by adding fresh garlic, olive oil, and olives.  Altogether, it turned into a deliciously simple, healthy, and hearty meal, and I couldn't wait to get the contest results.

 

From the Medditeranean Food Alliance website-

 

To help celebrate Med Month, we asked our loyal readers and Med Diet enthusiasts to send in their favorite recipes. We had an overwhelming amount of terrific recipe submissions and we thank everyone who took the time to share their kitchen secrets.

 

Below is a list of our top 10 favorites, with the grand prize going to Taylor B. who created a delicious recipe for Mediterranean Penne.

Congratulations Taylor!

1. Mediterranean Penne ~ by Taylor B.

2. Classical Greek Horta ~ by Cynthia Daddona

3. Almond Grapefruit Cake with Grapefruit Honey ~ by Penny Malcolm

4. Lemon Lentil Salad ~ by Jennifer Huey

5. Crispy Cod with Tomato Sauce ~ by Mary Marlowe Leverette

6. Tomato & Chick Pea Salad ~ by Mary Marlowe Leverette

7. Seaside Pizza ~ by Jennifer Rodriguez

8. Grilled Salmon with Yogurt Sauce ~ by Armand Giguere

9. Roasted Balsamic Vegetables Over Garlic Whole Wheat Pasta ~ by

by Scott Bednar

10. Picnic Perfect Potato Salad ~ by Natalie Klemko

 

If you'd like to view the Medditeranean Food Alliance website, go to http://mediterraneanmark.org/

 

Happy cooking!

 

 

Swan Cream Puffs

Posted by Taylor on February 23, 2010 at 1:52 PM Comments comments (0)

 

I had quite honestly wondered what a creme puff was, and I had practically no idea until I made them myself and tried one. But in case you were wondering, here's the defenition of "Creme Puff," courtesy of dictionary.com:

 

Cream Puff (also creampuff) (kr m p f ). n. 1. A shell of light pastry filled with whipped cream, custard, or ice cream.

 

One day I was flipping through my Taste of Home Baking Book and in the back they have this section called "Fanciful Creations."  There are all kinds of yummy treats, each one built up almost like a work of art.  I saw this recipe for Swan Creme Puffs, and I knew I wanted to give it a try.  Did I think it would taste good? Hopefully.  Did I think it would look good? Uhh....I wasn't sure.  But WOW, these were way easier than I thought they'd be, and they looked awesome!  They're great filled with some vanilla pudding, and even better with some good whipped cream.

 

Want to give it a try?  These are great little treats for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and even weddings!  You can find the recipe and instructions at the Taste of Homes Website, at http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Wedding-Swan-Cream-Puffs.

 

 

 

 

Valentines Fortune Cookies

Posted by Taylor on February 11, 2010 at 5:28 PM Comments comments (0)

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It is officially the "season of love." Valentine's day is around the corner, and stores are filled with pink and red and candy and flowers, and all the elementary students exchange Valentine's Day cards in their classrooms. Did you know that in Valentine season alone, United States chocolate and candy sales reach an outrages profit of $1,011 BILLION?! I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that we could feed a billion starving people for a day with that money. Wow.

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My bible study group is getting together this weekend for a Valentine's Day sleepover. Each of us is bringing cards or candy or something to exchange, and I'd thought I'd get creative. Have you ever heard of homemade fortune cookies? I don't know about you, but I hadn't. I came across this blog a week or so ago, called "Skip to My Lou," and it had this awesome idea of making fortune cookie for Valentine's Day. Who would have thought?

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One thing I learned: you can actually color fortune cookies!? I know, awesome!? I mad a batch of plain whitish/creamish/yellowish (whatever you call the normal color) and I also made a batch of pink. The pink was my favorite, since it was so festive.

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You can find a great recipe and even better tutorial, courtesy of Cindy Hopper, at http://www.alphamom.com/holiday/2010/01/fortune-cookies-for-valentines-day.php

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Just get creative and festive.? Try green for St. Partick's Day, and red and green for Christmas!? Did you know that you can even fill them with things other than fortunes?? Try candy hearts, M&M's, or confetti!? I just filled mine with fortunes, and to go with the "love" theme I looked up love-centered Bible verses online.? They turned out super cute!

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Inspiration and Biscotti

Posted by Taylor on February 6, 2010 at 12:23 AM Comments comments (0)

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It seems that lately I've been lacking inspiration.

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Not baking inspiration so much. If anything, I think I've been branching out more and making new things than ever before. In the past couple months, I've learned how to make truffles, yeast doughnuts, biscotti, and have adapted my own bagel recipe. I made carmel corn for the first time (it was wayyyyy easy) and I even brought some to the movies with my friends. Now I have a whole list of things I'm wanting to try in the next month, including fortune cookies and swan shaped cream puffs. As far as baking is concerned, I've been having a blast .

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When I started this blog, I seemed to have two main goals:


1. To improve and expand my baking skills and to keep track of all the recipes I've tried.

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2. To improve my creative writing, and make it a little more interesting.


A third goal got added shortly after I started, because it's pretty much mandatory in an interesting food blog:

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3. To try out photographing food.

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While it seems that I've got goal #1 covered, I'm lacking inspiration in goal #2. It seems my posts started boring, got a little more interesting, and have hit a boring valley again. See, I'm a "Response to Liturature" essay-type writer. This creative writing stuff doesn't come as easily. I guess it's just something I'm going to need to work on. Metaphores, hyperboles, similies, personification...any other interesting word spices I'm missing from 7th grade grammer?? Hmmm...

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As far as goal #3, I do think it's getting better...slowly but surely. My photography started out pretty bad. Actually, when I originally started this blog over a year ago, I didn't even have photography. Imagine that. Boringggggg. I'll be working on that.

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I mentioned earlier in this post I learned how to make biscotti. I'm not crazy about it plain, but it's great dipped in coffee, tea, cocoa, milk, or whatever else floats your boat.

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Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti is the highest rated biscotti recipe on allrecipes.com. Here's the link, in case you want to try it:

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http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cranberry-Pistachio-Biscotti/Detail.aspx

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I almost followed the recipe exactly. I ommitted the almond extract, because I didn't have any. Instead, I added about 1 Tablespoon of orange zest. It was a nice touch that another reviewer had suggested. They filled the house with a warm goodness that was refreshing on another cold, windy day.

German Pancakes (AKA Crepes)

Posted by Taylor on February 2, 2010 at 6:06 PM Comments comments (0)

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I had never seen a walking pancake until I was out driving today. Actually, I was in the car and my mom was drivng (I don't get my license for another few months). We passed by a walking pancake, advertising for an IHOP Restraunt on the side of the road. Quite the site. I don't know that I'd want that job. Goodness, what will they come up with next?

Back?when I was in 7th grade, my school required that every Honor's English student take a class called "World Language."? It was basically an introduction to three languages: Spanish, French, and German.? The catch was that this class only lasted a quarter--which in our school system was only about nine weeks.? It seems like a silly requirement now, since we only spent about three weeks on each language, but it was still fun nonetheless.

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The teacher always came up with creative ways to get us to learn, and each student was given a name for each of the different language units.? We always did fun projects and watched interesting movies,?and the class was almost?entirely based on participation.? My favorite part of all was the extra credit.? For preparing a custom food, either Spanish, French, or German, we would recieve ten extra points.

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And this is how I ended up trying German Pancakes (aka Crepes, not creeps, but crepes) for the first time. But let me clarify, these were German pancakes, made by a real, live, German exchange student.

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It was near the end of the quarter for my "World Language" class, and each of us was assigned to find a topic that interested us, and do a research project on it.? I chose German Christmas, and amongst other things, I learned about traditional German food--particularily, the sweet stuff.

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Well, at that same time, there was a German exchange student staying with someone from my church.? One day we got together and she taught me how to make German pancakes, and we made a bunch so that I could bring them to class for my presentation.? They were so good!

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It's been years since I made crepes, but I'm trying to get creative with new things instead of getting caught up making the same foods over and over.? This was a step out of my box.

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I filled these crepes with a strawberry sauce made of frozen strawberries and sugar, because this was the only filling option I really had on hand.? You could use cherries, apple pie filling, blueberries, or even vegetables.? The possibilities are endless!? Hey, they're even good cold!

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Vanilla Crepes

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1.? With a wisk, mix together all ingredients except for flour, starting with the eggs.? When thoroughly combined, gradually sift in flour, and stir until smooth.

2.? Let batter sit for twenty minutes while you prepare a filling.

3.? Grease a skillet or griddle, and turn heat to med-high.? When hot, pour batter, 1/4 cup at a time.? Important tip: *To make your crepes round, swirl the batter on the pan with a spoon*

4.? After one minute, flip the crepe, and cook for an additional minute.? Fill as desired, roll up, and enjoy!

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Farewell Flan

Posted by Taylor on January 28, 2010 at 4:21 PM Comments comments (0)

 

I'll keep this post short and sweet.  I don't like flan.

 

Flan was on my list of goals for 2010.  I don't think I'd ever had it before, but I love stirred custard so I had wanted to give it a try.

 

Someone we know has a persimmon tree in her backyard.  I don't think I'd ever had a persimmon before either, but I was looking up recipes using persimmons online and I didn't come up with much.  Sure, there were a few persimmon cookies and a few persimmon quick breads, but none of them looked that great.  And besides, I was feeling adventurous.

 

So when I came upon Persimmon Flan, I thought I'd give it a try.  They say flan is something you either like, or you don't.  I guess I'm not a flan person.  I'm not sure that this looks exactly right either, but the dark dots are persimmon (in case you were wondering).

 

No more flan for me! ( ; My family didn't like it either. Sad, but we ended up feeding it to the chickens (they quite literally will eat just about anything).

 

But that's okay, there are plenty other new desserts to try.  For now, you have officially witnessed the first "tragedy" on this blog.

 

Farewell flan!

Garlic, Onion, & Poppyseed Bagels

Posted by Taylor on January 26, 2010 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

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They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.? When you wake up and have something to eat, you're fueled and ready for the day ahead of you.? And of course,?a healthy meal is always better.

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I don't know about you, but I'm not a huge cereal person.? I was never one for the fake chocolate in "Cookie Crisp" or the fake honey in "Honey Comb."? For the most part, I think they all tasted pretty bland and eating cold cereal for breakfast every day before school started to get pretty boring.? Though I do have to admit, I have my favorites.? "Life" cereal is pretty good, "Oh's" sure is tasty, and "Cinnamon Toast Crunch" will probably always remain a favorite.? But I would prefer a nice warm slice of fresh bread, the "nooks and crannies" of an english muffin, or the chewy interior of a bagel any day.? Above all, my favorite breakfast food is a toasted?onion?bagel smothered in cream cheese.

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About a year ago I first?set off to?try my hand at bagel making.? I wasn't too impressed with the results, as they didn't turn out fluffy or very soft, and they were nothing like the bagels that I was used to buying at the grocery store.? Dissapointed, I put bagel making on hold, not thinking I would try it again any time soon.

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A few months ago, a friend came over that taught me how to make bagels.? They were softer, fluffier, and cinnamon raisin flavored.? This time around it was much easier, as I had a bread machine.? I loved the bagels, and figured I would make them again soon.? I have, and each time I've gotten better and better at it.

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Last week when I made bagels, they were better than ever before.? They had a crisp exterior with the soft, chewy interior that bagels are famous for.? But do you know how that happens?? Bagels are actually formed, boiled, then baked.? You didn't know about the boiling part, did you?? Neither did I, before I made them.

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Everyone likes their bagels different.? Some like sweet, like cinnamon raisin, blueberry, apple, or chocolate chip.? Some like savory, like whole wheat, onion, poppyseed, or herb.? I like them all, but recently my favorite has been onion garlic bagels sprinkled with poppyseeds.

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Onion Garlic Bagels

1 cup warm water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons white sugar

3 cups flour

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh onion

1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Cornmeal, for dusting

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Directions

1.? Dissolve sugar, salt, and yeast in warm water.? Let sit for 10 minutes, or until yeast starts to foam.

2.? Stir in onion, garlic, and 2 cups of flour.? Knead in additional cup of flour until the dough is soft, yet not sticky.

3.? Let dough rise overnight, if time allows.? This develops a better flavor.? To do so, place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and place in refrigerator.? If you don't have the time to allow the dough to rise overnight, place it in a warm place for one hour.

4.? When dough is doubled, cut it into 9 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a small ball, but do not flatten.? With your thumb, poke a hole in the middle of each ball.? Pull each side to widen the whole, so it is about 1/2-1 inch accross.? Cover bagels and let rest for?a few?minutes.

4.Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Fill a saucepan 4 inches with water, and bring to a rolling boil. Place 2-3 bagels in the water at a time, with the lid on, and boil for 3 minutes. Do not flip.? I have found that if you don't flip the bagels, they become fluffier.? When bagels are finished boiling, place on the baking sheet.? Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

5.Bake for 20 minutes in a 375* F oven, or until golden.

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Bear Claws

Posted by Taylor on January 23, 2010 at 12:52 PM Comments comments (0)

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I remember the first time I made bear claws.??Last summer, my family was?watching "Marley and Me" for the first time.? I was in a baking mood (when am I not?) and when flipping through a Taste of Homes baking cookbook, Almond-Filled Bear Claws caught my eye.? I marveled at how the professionals made each and every pastry smooth, uniform, and seemingly perfect.? It was amazing.

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So I set off to make some bear claws of my own.? We didn't have any almonds.? We almost never do.? Whenever we get them, they vanish within a few days.? Wonder why?? My favorite filling is apple filling, but we had been out of apples too.? That got me thinking, and eventually I came up with the idea of cream cheese filling.

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Well, it sounded like a fine idea to me.? All in all, the bear claws turned out well.? The pastry was buttery and soft, and the filling was nice and creamy.? I liked them well enough, though they weren't the prettiest things in the world.? My family, however, thought otherwise, to some degree.? It's not to say that they didn't like them, because they did.? But rather, they didn't realize until they had finished eating that the filling was cream cheese, not raw dough.? We had a good laugh after that one.

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Scalding the milk with sugar and salt for the dough

Then I made them a second time.? My friend was over, and we loved to bake together, but they didn't turn out too good.


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This is called "proofing" the yeast.? If the yeast foams and bubbles after being dissolved in warm water, that means it's active. Yeast is alive, after all.

Long story short, we went through the whole three hour process of making these bear claws, and they never even ended up rising.? It was quite disappointing.? I'm not quite sure where we went wrong, but I'm thinking the?water may have been too warm and killed it. (Water should be?around?110* F, not warmer)


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After those not-so-great bear claw making adventures, I decided to set out again.? I love the taste of anything with bread, and we just so happened to have apples in the fridge.? I came up with a great apple pie filling recipe while I was at it.? Here's the recipe:

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1 Granny Smith apple, chopped, mixed with 2 tablespoons of white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

a pinch of nutmeg

2 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup water (more or less, depending on desired consistency)

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Directions:

1.? In a saucepan, combine apple, sugar, spices, and butter.? Cook for?one minute.

2.? Add in water, a little at a time, and cook for fifteen minutes, or until desired consistency is reached.

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It was really easy, and it turned out great too.? The less water you add in, the more carmely the filling.

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Deciding on a dough recipe is where it gets a little trickier.? See, I chose a sweet dough recipe after reading that it could be used for bear claws. The recipe that I had previously used from a Taste of Homes cookbook was good, yet it called for a ful 3/4 cup of butter, plus it seemed to use lots of unnecessary steps that made it take hours to prepare (literally).? I was happy with how this new dough turned out, however next time I would use more a a doughnut-type dough, instead of a sweetbread.

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The dough I used this time was much easier to work with, as it was like working with bread dough.? Roll it out into a rectangle about 11X14 inches.? Cut into six uniform rectangles.? On each rectangle, place 1-2 tablespoons of filling.? Fold over, and pinch to seal.

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Here's the part that gets bear-y fun (Pardon my cheesyness). Take a pair of kitchen sissors, and with each folded rectangle, make three slits.? Now spread out your paw, and voila!

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Bake at 375* for about 15 minutes, and you can even glaze with a basic powdered sugar icing.?

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I was glad with how these turned out, though next time I'll use a doughnut type pastry dough instead.? My friend and I will have to make these again!

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Carrot Cake

Posted by Taylor on January 22, 2010 at 11:08 PM Comments comments (0)

Speaking of the chickens I mentioned in my post the other day, let me tell you a little something about French Copper Marins.? First of all, they're a rare breed here?in the United States, because the US now bans imports on birds.? Second, French Copper Marin eggs have a dark brown shell, and the egg itself is supposedly very rich.? Third, French Copper Marin eggs are known to be prized by French Chefs.

This is why I was so excited when someone gave me a French Copper Marin hen this past October.? My family had just moved out to the country, and we had been tossing around the idea of getting some chickens until someone from craigslist offered me a French Copper Marin hen, two "Easter Egger" hens, and eleven baby chicks, absolutely free.? I was ecstatic.

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I'd heard many?a story of people trying farm fresh eggs for the first time?and never being able to switch back to store?bought.? But of all things, I was most excited to bake with these eggs.? You see, I'm quite the little miss "live off the land."? While I'm not sure that I could ever ship a lamb off to slaughter, I love the idea of growing our own vegetables and eating our own eggs.? I had been counting down the days until the first egg appeared in the chicken coop.

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I had been waiting and waiting for the French Copper, or "Mamma," as we call her, to start laying eggs.? She was plenty old enough, but the problem was that apperantly, hens don't lay eggs while they are raising baby chicks.? Now mind you, these chicks aren't her own.? Oh, no.? These chicks are her adopted babies.? That shows you just how dedicated this mama chick was.? Well, we've had her since October, and she just laid her first egg last week.? I was at camp when my parents found it, but quite excited when I found out!

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Now the quetion was...what to bake...what to bake.? When I was at camp last week, I had these yummy carrot cake cupcakes.? Well, I love carrot cake.? It's seriously my favorite kind of cake (under chocolate, of course).? So, I thought I'd try these rich eggs out in some carrot cake.? And they did not disappoint.

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World's Best Carrot Cake

2?eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1?cup white sugar

1?teaspoon vanilla extract

1?cup all-purpose flour

1?teaspoon baking soda

1?teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 3/4?cups grated carrots

Complementary Cream Cheese Frosting

1/4 cup butter, softened

4?ounces cream cheese, softened

1 3/4?cups?powdered sugar

1/2?teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch round pan.

2.In a large bowl, wisk together flour, soda, powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.? Make a well in the center, and add in eggs, oil, and vanilla.? Beat until thoroughly combined, or about one minute.? Stir in carrots.

3.Bake for 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

4.To Make Frosting: Beat together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla?until creamy.? Add in powdered sugar a little at a time until desired consistency is reached.

California

Posted by Taylor on January 21, 2010 at 1:02 AM Comments comments (0)

The stereotypical Californian girl: a blonde chick, with "beachy" hair, blue eyes, a great tan, and awesome surfing moves.

 

Let me tell you, I definitely don't fit that bill.   I've never even surfed in my life.

 

Today my mom was talking on the phone with some lady from South Dakota. Here in California, we've been having some crazy storms. The wind has been up to sixty miles an hour and rain drops have been pouring down bullets. It's been like this for three days, and it's supposed to continue for the rest of the week. Well, I suppose some places get much worse weather than ours. You always here about some great blizzard or hurricane in some place or another, but I suppose here in California we are so far removed from all of that that it doesn't have the slightest effect on us. The lady on the phone from South Dakota was talking about the ice storms they were experiencing. Ick.

 

Well, despite the worse weather in one place or another, we've been pretty home bound for the last couple of days. Life in the country makes things even more intersting...

 

There's nothing quite like running outside, at night, in the pouring rain, to catch a few stupid chickens that don't exactly want to be caught. Last night the wind got so bad that we had to take the chickens out of their coop and lock them in the garage. If we hadn't, who knows? They may have even blown away. The top of the chicken coop almost did.

 

 

While I'm at it, here are a few of our chickens.  The largest is the momma bird, called a French Copper Marin (though we believe she's mixed with Cuckoo Marin).  Marans are a rare chicken breed known for their large, rich, dark brown eggs.  More on that in my next post.

 

Aside from chasing chickens, feeding horses, moving rabbits, and my daily homework, we've had a relaxing few days and I've been cooking a lot. Today we pulled out the crock pot and I started chopping some broccoli for one of my favorite rainy-day soups: Broccoli Chedder.  I must really love broccoli soup, because I realize that I posted a broccoli swiss soup just a few weeks ago.  Oh well, perhaps I'm just envious of the big, green broccoli flourets in the store, since the broccoli in my own garden never sprouted.

  

Anyway, to go with the soup, I made this lovely pull apart garlic herb bread that we love.   It's also known as Garlic Herb "Bubble Bread."

 

Start with your favorite basic bread recipe that makes a normal-sized loaf.  After the first rise, divide the dough into twelve portions (more or less).

 

Now here's were you get creative and customize it to your likings.  Ready?

 

 

Okay, let's go!  In a small bowl, melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter or margarine.  Now, I like to stir in 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon basil.  However, you can customize it to fit your meal however you like!  One time, I only added the garlic and 1 tablespoon of basil instead of all the other herbs (I love basil!).  It was great!

 

So, after making your garlic-herb butter, take each dough ball, one at a time, and dip it in.  The dough should be covered almost completely, but doesn't have to be saturated.  Place the ball in the loaf pan, and repeat steps until all the dough is in the pan.  Bake at 375* for about 35 minutes, and enjoy your fancy pull apart loaf.

 

 


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