Saturday, July 11, 2009

At long last. . .

I've returned to my blog. It's been forever, but I suddenly felt the desire to blog again. So here I am. And while I don't think I am going to cover all the things that have been missed these past few months, I have returned with more goodies! Fried pickles this time! Now that the warm weather has finally arrived in Connecticut, I've kicked up a gear in my cooking. Seems like I can't stay out of the kitchen lately. . . making everything from Smore's eggrolls, potato chips, fried brussel sprouts to orange cream cookies and fried pickles. For something that's so yummy to nosh on, they're really a breeze to make. I hadn't even planned on making them. Robert was grilling burgers for lunch and while preparing the condiments, I got a sudden whim for fried pickles. I decided to give them my own personal spin my breading them in panko bread crumbs seasoned with Cajun seasoning. Personally I thought they were pretty delish! And while this posting is pretty short, I think it may be the beginning of longer ones to come in the future! Stay tuned!

Friday, March 27, 2009

I miss the warm weather :-(

But at least it was semi-warm for a couple days! So we decided to make the most of it and eat some ice cream...outside! Gabrielle is ALWAYS bugging me to eat ice cream cones, so finally I broke down and bought some. Good thing it was warm enough to go outside, because (as you can see from Leila's face) they L<3ved it! Of course it wasn't hot (I'm still in Conneticuit you know), as you can see my girls are still wearing their jackets.

My girls are sooo cute!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

How It All Came Together

Tonight's little creation came together due to a few different things. For starters, Robert left again today which put me in a sad poopy mood that could only be alleviated by baking something. My initial decision had been orange cupcakes, random I know. But a friend suggested that maybe I should take a cupcake break -- which I thought "Why would I want to do that?" But a little break wouldn't hurt. Then while I was coming home from the airport, I stopped at Starbucks to get a green tea latte. Green tea is like my new thing now. And while I was driving I was thinking about how if I could just get my hands on some matcha powder (that's cheaper than $42) then I could make my own green tea lattes. Then I realized what an idiot I've been! Why the heck did I go to the health food store looking for green tea powder? I buy all of my Asian groceries at the Asian grocery stores, and green tea powder is Asian, so shouldn't I go to the Asian grocery store for it? Duh! So I decided to try the Korean grocery store just down the street and wouldn't you know it, they had TWO different types of green tea powder. And the best part is that they were $6! Can you believe it? Six dollars for an ounce and a half! So anyway, you would think that the first thing I'd make is a green tea latte. But I'd already had one today and I got too sidetracked. Or maybe more cupcakes -- but I just made green tea cupcakes. Instead, I made another recipe that I'd been eyeing - a green tea roll cake! Like a jelly roll (which I've actually never made), except with green tea and whipped cream. It turned out being really strong, like a VERY strong cup of green tea. But the sweetened matcha flavored whipped cream helps to tone the flavor down some. I thought it went perfect with a mug of hot water (is that weird? that I drink plain hot water?) I'm sure it'd be good with a glass of warm milk as well. I think if I make it in the future, I'd use a little less matcha powder and maybe a little more sugar for a bit of a sweeter taste. The roll itself turned out pretty good I think, considering it was my first time. It could've been prettier. Oh well. And as for my green tea latte, I'll be making one tomorrow for sure!

More Chicken!

Well I finally got around to making that prosciutto wrapped chicken yesterday. Robert requested it which somewhat surprised me because we've had so much chicken lately. Then I remembered that he can eat chicken every day of the week. And I suppose that if I can make it a different way each day, maybe I could too. Eh, maybe not. But I was surprised by this recipe. I couldn't quite imagine how all the flavors would come together -- prosciutto, chicken, basil, mozzarella, and sun dried tomatoes. It was kind of like caprese salad stuffed in chicken. In the end, it turned out to be really good served with a side of rice pilaf and some veggies. None of the flavors were super overwhelming. And Robert liked it too -- which was the important thing since he requested it :-P

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Patty's Day!

I am sure that it has become common knowledge that in my home, a holiday is synonomous with food. To be honest, everything and everyday means food here, but when there's a holiday, I tend to get a little bit extreme. And even though we have no Irish in the family (as far as we know, except I wouldn't be surprised if there was), St. Patrick's Day was a good excuse to whip some things that I've never made before. Actually, make that a lot of things that I've never made before. For dinner, we had the ever so traditional corned beef and cabbage. . . except it's not very traditional because I've never had it before! Technically, what I made was New England Boiled Dinner because I added potatoes and carrots to the corned beef and cabbage. I took the easy way out and made it all in my slow cooker. But I was really surprised with how good it turned out. I didn't expect it to be so tender and tasty. I could definately eat corned beef again, even when it's not St. Patrick's Day. The girls didn't really seem to care for it at all. They are not real meat and potato eaters. On the other hand, they REALLY like bread. And lucky for them, I made a loaf of Irish Soda Bread to go with dinner. Once again, I've never had Soda Bread before, but based on the descriptions that I read, I am pretty sure I made it right. It was actually really easy, the easiest bread I've ever made -- considering there are only 4 ingredients involved. I almost forgot that I was going to make it, and didn't remember until an hour before dinner. Yet, I managed to mix it and bake it just in time for dinner! I was really surprised by the taste and consistency because I didn't think something so simple would be very tasty.

And of course, since I am the crazy cupcake lady, I HAD to whip up some cupcakes. I was actually torn in what kind to make because one friend told me that I should make mint cupcakes, and another really wanted me to make Green Tea cupcakes. I had originally decided on the green tea cupcakes because I had read about how green tea powder naturally makes food green (big surprise there). So even though green tea isn't very Irish, at least the cupcakes would've been green, which is in the spirit, right? Well, in the end, I couldn't make a decision, which could only mean one thing -- a whole lot of cupcakes! Because I thought mint cupcakes were just too plain and easy, I had to take it up a notch. I almost immediately thought chocolate mint, but since the last few batches of cupcakes I've made have been chocolate, I really wanted something lighter. The result -- Bailey's Mint Chocolate Irish Cream Cupcakes with chocolate chips and a Mint Cream Cheese Frosting. Say that three times fast! It ended up being a real flavor explosion. The only thing was that I had to make the batter a little denser than normal because I wanted the chocolate chips to float in it. So not my typical light, fluffy airy cupcakes. . . instead it was more like a pound cake and rather filling. But with the mint frosting, I think they made a really good combination. I am not usually a fan of chocolate chips in things, but I think these worked really well.

As for the green tea cupcakes. Well, there were definately some issues there. For starters, the recipe called for matcha powder, which is basically the green tea powder. The problem with that is that the local health food stores carries it for $42.50 per ounce! Yes that's right! And since the recipe required about an ounce, they would've been the most expensive cupcakes I've ever made and eaten in my life! And what if I ruined them, then that would be $50 down the drain. Well, either way, I wasn't going to be $43 worth of green tea, that's probably more expensive than coke (not that I would know of course). So I decided on a considerably cheaper substitute - sensha powder, which is another type of green tea, except it's sold at the commissary for 2.95 a box and is marketed as Iced Green Tea powder. I think taste wise, it was a worthy substitute. Unfortunately, the batter didn't take on the hue of green that I would've gotten with the matcha powder, which is much darker. It was barely discernable as being green. But that was nothing compared with the fact that I forgot an EXTREMELY important ingredient. In the past, I have told friends on more than one occasion that you cannot bake without baking powder or baking soda. I wish I had told myself that before I put my green tea cupcakes in the oven. It wasn't until I was cleaning up that I realized that I'd forgotten a key ingredient, and that's why my cupcakes looked exactly the same as they did when I put them in the oven. Good thing I didn't spend $43 on that matcha powder. . . I really would've been crying then! Luckily, the batter was enough to make two batches, so I was able to fix the rest of the batter and the second batch of cupcakes turned out perfectly risen. I topped them off with whipped cream, and they reminded me of mini green tea lattes! And I could almost say that because they're green tea, they're good for you!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thai Mango Chicken

I was originally supposed to make proscuitto wrapped chicken for dinner. But when it came time to actually make dinner, I realized I was missing a few things. Determined not to make a run to the store, I started trying to brainstorm other things that I could make with the already defrosted chicken. While I was frantically trying to figure out what we were going to eat, Robert decided to cut the 4 ripened mangoes that were sitting on the counter. And thus dinner was born! Amazingly enough, I had all the ingredients that I needed to make the recipe, from the red pepper (which we never have) to the cilantro. The only thing we didn't have was fish sauce, which was easy to do without. A little salt replaced the saltiness that the salt wouldn't provide. And while the recipes called for some type of chili sauce, I just ended up using Sriracha (which is Thai too, so it couldn't have been too far off the mark). It turned out to be really, really good. I couldv'e eaten the whole pot all by myself! It was so amazing to me because the sauce was sweet, salty, sour, and spicy all in the same bite. It was like one flavor after another! At first we didn't think the girls would eat because it definately had a little kick to it. But they seem to be acquiring a taste for spicy foods. They certainly didn't complain. I am eager to make this recipe again. Yum yum!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Car Wash!

The weather has actually been pretty decent lately, which I am grateful for. I could definately handle it being a little warmer, but hey, I'll take what I can get. Robert decided it was warm enough to wash the car (I secretly disagreed), but the van was looking pretty dirty from all the sand and salt it's accumulated with the snowstorms. Even washing the car is a lot more fun when you've got little ones who are sooo excited about anything new. Gabrielle actually helped to wash, and she was pretty serious about her duties. As for Leila, well Leila had a much better time just splashing around in the mud puddles that the water had created. She was really jumping around and getting a kick out of it! By the time the car was clean, everyone else was dirty, and Leila's socks and shoes were soaked! I still think it needed to be about 30 degrees warmer to be out getting wet, but who am I to argue with fun?

Picture Perfect continued. . .

Another party, another cake! I think this may be starting to spin out of control. At least there are other people eating the cakes except me and Robert. This one is a mango-pineapple torte which I actually prefered to the chocolate cake. But then again, I don't love chocolate as much as some.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Picture Perfect

I just had to include a picture of this cake because I thought it was so perfect and picturesque. This is a chocolate strawberry cake that I made for a friend's Pampered Chef party. This is another super easy recipe out the aforementioned cookbook. But my favorite part was not that it was easy to make, but that it was easy to look beautiful. I love it when the stuff I make actually LOOKS good! I mean, it even had these beautiful chocolate covered strawberries around it. Oh and yeah, it was good to eat too! Actually it was delicious and super moist. Unfortunately, all of this cooking is really starting to get me into trouble! I am going to turn into a butterball if I continue at this rate. But then again, who can resist a cake that looks like this?

Monday, March 9, 2009

First time Fajitas!

As in I made fajitas for the first time today. I know that may seem surprising with all the cooking I do. But until recently, tacos was the only Mexican dish I made. I am slowly branching out. Fajitas is what I tend to order when we go out so I was pretty proud of myself when they turned out tasting restaurant style. Unfortunately, the girls are not fans of beef and they didn't seem to appreciate the fajitas. Maybe next time I will make it with chicken . . . or perhaps just stick to tacos and reserve the fajitas for special occasions. Now I just need to get one of those skillets so that I can bring it out of the kitchen sizzling and smoking!

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Princesses!

Robert's brother in Korea sent them some princess stuff! Nothing like a box full of dress up accessories to make two girls very happy!
I took the girls with me to the hair salon because Robert wasn't in town. I was a little concerned because my hairdresser doesn't take appointments and sometimes I am there for hours. This time we were there for 5! Amazingly enough, we made it through the whole time with no yelling and no tears. And while I had Gabrielle there, I figured I could get them to wash her hair (which certainly beats me doing it) and she got it blow dried too. She absolutely adores it. And she just keeps saying how much she loves her hair straight. She actually keeps saying now she really looks like a princess. I think it is time for Disney to make a princess with curly hair. In the meantime though, I will admit that it is very pretty (and long) and much easier to comb in the mornings, but I definately don't think she should get used to it. I've bought a hair dryer hoping that I may be able to blow dry her hair in the future, but I don't think Gabrielle should get her hopes up on it looking as good as it does now. I was very proud of this little do right here. It's a recreation of that hairstyle you could do back in the 90's with that little contraption you could buy off the t.v. Somebody help me out here because I cannot for the life of me remember what it's called.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Pasta, Pasta Pasta!

My girls looooove pasta. They could probably eat it everyday and in every way. The great thing about pasta is that it is such a large genre. . . from the simple mac n cheese to spaghetti, fettucinne, tortellini, you get the idea. Today I was able to try a new and very simple pasta dish. This is kind of out of the norm for me because Robert is out of town, and I tend to cook less when he is gone. But I recently acquired this recipe from The Pampered Chef Season's Best cookbook and it looked super easy so I figured "what the heck". And it was actually very easy to make. Less than half an hour from beginning to end (which is quick by my standards) and the best part about it was that the girls loved it! Of course they did cause it was pasta right? Well I was concerned that Gabrielle wouldn't eat it because it had tomatoes in it. But she ate up her whole bowl. And when I commented that she must've been really hungry, she told me "No, it's just really yummy!" And I have to agree, I thought it was pretty yummy today. :-)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cupcake Heaven!

I think I have found the staircase to cupcake heaven! And I am truly becoming a crazy cupcake lady as this recipe is my own concoction (based upon a variety of ideas). They don't look like much, but they are jam packed with flavor! I'm calling them Kahlua Mocha cupcakes with Dulce de Leche. All the things that I love -- chocolate, coffee, alcohol (Kahlua), and dulce de leche (which I have a love affair with) in one perfect sized bite (they're mini cupcakes). I don't know what else to say except that when I gave one to Leila, she scarfed it down and asked for another one. When I said no, she actually began to cry! And when she woke up from her nap, the first thing she asked was "Mommy, can I have a cupcake?" That's my girl :-)

Cupcakes:
1 box devil’s food cake mix
1/3 c. Kahlua
1/3 c. water mixed with 4 tbsp. instant espresso coffee granules
2/3 c. milk
3 eggs, separated
½ tbsp. vanilla extract
½ c. vegetable oil or melted butter, cooled

Frosting:
1 (14-ounce) can dulce de leche (Super Walmart carries it or you can make your own )
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In large bowl, beat the egg yolks. Gradually add in the cake mix, Kahlua, coffee water, milk and vegetable oil, alternating between the wet and dry ingredients.

With clean beaters and a large bowl, beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold the meringue into the batter. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full and back for 20-25 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan for 10 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

To make frosting, place egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl. Stir the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a small, heavy saucepan. Whisk in the water first, then the dulce de leche and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk the dulce de leche mixture into the 2 egg yolks. Stir in the vanilla. Strain through a wire mesh strainer into a small bowl and set aside to cool completely.

Beat the butter on high speed in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled dulce de leche mixture. Beat in the powdered sugar until smooth and spreadable.

Frost and dust with cacao powder.

Makes 24 regular cupcakes, or 48 minis. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gumbo

Ahhh gumbo -- the dish where you can put anything that crawls, flies, walks or slithers. At least, that's what they say. I tried to think of a cool title for this blog, but I couldn't really. Nothing really rhymes with gumbo except jumbo. And well, I did make a jumbo pot of it. I generally only make gumbo twice a year as it tends to be a day long affair and requires the accumulation of so many ingredients. Might I just say that making gumbo in New England in the middle of winter is not as easy as it sounds. I generally make a shrimp and chicken gumbo to which I also add andouille sausage and crawfish. Sounds simple enough, but do you have any idea how hard it is to come across fresh shrimp and crawfish here, not to mention andouille sausage? In the end, it was a gumbo of frozen shrimp, kielbasa sausage, and the saddest part of all -- frozen crawfish meat. The gumbo looked a little plain without the crawfish claws sticking out, but it was still really, really good. I always forget how good gumbo is until I taste it again. And even though it is well worth the effort, this delicious taste will have to last me for another six months!

Monday, February 23, 2009

MYOP Day

also known as "Make Your Own Pizza" Day. This is one of those things that the girls really enjoy doing, and to be honest, I rather enjoy it myself. I guess there isn't a person in this house who doesn't love to cook. And I've found that in general they are most likely to eat the things that they took part in making. And pizza is no exception. It's really fun for the whole family because everybody gets to have their own pizza made just the way they like it. I generally just roll out the dough for everyone, and then everyone tops their pizza however they like. As you can see in the picture, Leila likes hers with ALOT of olives.
Here they are ready to go in the oven! We forgot to take a picture of them once they came out. Everyone was so excited about eating! But here's a picture of Gabrielle's after she was finished eating. Even on a homemade pizza, she still won't eat the crust.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

How My Children Entertain Themselves

Now that Leila has gotten a little older and a lot more verbal, her and Gabrielle have begun to play extremely well together. And it's really nice because for the most part they keep each other entertained, with a few moments of screaming and crying interspersed. Hey, the system's not perfect but it's pretty good. I'm always amused by the things that they find to do. On this particular day, Leila decided to hitch a ride on Gabrielle's back -- which is a little absurd because Gabrielle is only 6 pounds more than Leila. But Gabrielle managed to make it work with only a little bit of head banging and no crying from anyone -- Thank goodness!
video

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I'm Stuffed!

or rather it's stuffed, he he he. Stuffed french toast that is. As a break away from plain ole' french toast, this morning I made blueberry cream cheese stuffed french toast. Robert and I have made this in the past, but we used to use actually french bread. We would cut a slit in each piece and stuff it and cook like typical french toast. But the girls have never been too crazy about it, and we realized that it was probably because the french bread was too crunchy and hard. So now we have the new kid friendly version. It's also easier to make :-) Regular bread, spread with the blueberry cream cheese mixture, then covered with another slice of bread like a sandwich, and once again cooked like regular french toast. Leila ate a whole one by herself! This is definately a kid friendly breakfast (mommy & daddy friendly too cause it's rather tasty). Which reminds me of a version that we used to make before we found out Leila was allergic to peanuts. For those of you who like peanut butter, we used to make a peanut butter & jelly french toast. Regular bread spread with a creamy mixture of peanut butter and cream cheese, then battered and griddled like french toast and topped with strawberry syrup. Yummy!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Is a Pie still a Pie. . .

if it's missing a crust? This morning I woke up with a bit of a predicament as I had three over-ripe bananas on my counter. And while some may call me crazy (like my husband, for instance) I absolutely cannot stand the smell of bananas. And when bananas are over-ripe, it seems to make the whole kitchen stink! I can't even stand to have banana peels in the trash can. The smell makes me want to gag. Call me crazy if you want, but I could not handle having those bananas sit on the counter for the rest of the day. So I figured I could throw them away or make something with them. And since it would be so wasteful to throw them away, they got made into banana cream pie. But I've learned that when I am not really into making something (as I didn't really have a desire to make banana cream pie), then it's bound to not turn out very well. Like I didn't want to go through the trouble to make a graham cracker crust, so I decided to just use a regular pie crust. Which didn't turn out too well either, because when I pre-baked it, it shrunk itself into what looked like a pizza crust on the bottom of the pie plate. And still, I refused to make a graham cracker crust. The bananas, filling, and meringue were all ready to go. So what the heck, I filled my pie plate just as I should have, and my banana cream pie was baked with a partly missing pie crust. I was worried that the filling would stick to the pie plate since it didn't have a pastry around it, but it actually ended up turning out just fine. But if my banana cream pie is missing most of it's pie crust, is it still a pie?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Because I had nothing to blog about

as we haven't done anything or gone anywhere since our party. Robert came home and asked me if I had blogged today. Sadly, I had nothing to blog about. So while I was taking Copper to the vet (he's better now), Robert gave me blogging material. I made fried rice for dinner, not very exciting I know. And apparently Gabrielle decided it wasn't very exciting either because she asked Robert for something to go with it. So he gave her some kim, which is Korean for nori, which I guess is Japanese for seaweed. Anyway, whatever you call it, it's the stuff that you use to make sushi rolls. But we use it to make all sorts of other things like kim bop. So like I said, Robert said that he gave her some kim, and the next time he looked at her, she was making her own kim rolls by putting the fried rice in it. When we asked Gabrielle what made her decide to do that, she said "Well I had kim, and I said "hmmm, what should I do with this kim." Then I said, "I got it! I have kim, so I will take some rice and put it together and roll it up and eat it." And that's exactly what she did. When Leila saw her, of course she had to follow suit. And there you have it. . . something to blog about :-)

video

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ALOHA from Connecticut!

So Robert decided to throw a "getting through the dark ages party" which isn't as self-explanatory as he believes it is. I thought it was going to be a party where everybody dressed up like they did in the Middle Ages in Europe and eat roasted chicken with our hands, all the while cheering on jousters. But apparently it's really a party to make you feel happy while getting through the dark ages of winter. Get it? Christmas is over, spring is yet to come, and now it is just cold and depressing. So for some undepressing fun, Robert threw a luau! Yep, a luau, in the house, in the middle of winter, in Connecticut. And it was awesome! We cranked the heat up so the house was as hot as a summer's day (Thank goodness we don't have to pay for heat.) We invited our friends, and Robert got all the decorations, did all the planning, and even did ALL the cooking. After all, he was throwing the party. I did all the baking, he he he. The girls and I wore our Hawaiian dresses, and Robert wore his Hawaiin shirt, and it really did feel like a hot summer night in Hawai'i. Then came the food. First was the snacks, and unexpected big hit of the night. . . Kim chee dip. Yep, that's right. Dip made from kim chee, which is Korean spicy, fermented cabbage. And for anyone familiar with the smell and taste of the kim cheese, it is hard to imagine it as a dip for chips. But Robert made it all the same, kim chee mixed with cream cheese, and it was a hit. I have to admit, it was pretty good. I could probably eat a whole batch by myself, as long as I'm not competing with Jean, who practically did eat the whole batch by herself :-P. It's the pink in the bowl at the bottom. Doesn't look like much, but you've gotta taste to know how surprisingly good it is. There was also plenty of pineapple, cause what's a luau without pineapples? As well as watermelon, and mango bread (where my baking comes into play). For the main course, Robert served chicken and pork lau lau. Lau lau: meat and fish wrapped in or covered with leaves and steamed or roasted and traditionaly served at a luau. Robert's version included pork and mahi, or chicken and mahi, seasoned with Hawaiin red sea salt, wrapped in banana leaves, and "baked" over tea spices. He also served his version of Kalua Pork, which was really Chinese roasted pork that we got from the Chinese grocery store because let's face it, it's waaaaay to cold to be digging an imu outside. And besides, I think roasting a whole pig would've been a little bit of an overkill, don't you think? Along with that was rice, and the cutest and tastiest spamburgers you've ever seen. Ahhh spam, what's a Hawaiin meal without spam? And spam coupled with slightly sweet Hawaiin Bread makes for rather tasty little sandwiches. In fact, I could go for one right now. And for dessert, pina colada cupcakes with a beach/tiki theme. The result was pretty much blue mouths for everyone :-) All in all, I think it was a fun time had by all. And by the end of the night, I was finally able to get Gabrielle to say ALOHA!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Delights

For some reason, I cannot seem to stay out of the kitchen, especially when a holiday is around the corner. I crossed the line into candy making. This is not the first time I've made candy as I've made fudge quite a few times, and even not-so-successfully attempted turkish delights. In honor of Valentine's Day, I decided to make some truffles for Gabrielle's teachers. They were actually pretty easy to make, and I ended up making waaaay more varieties than I needed. I didn't give her teachers the milk chocolate ones with brandy, or the white chocolate ones with Kahlua :-P, but I did give them some of the regular white chocolate and milk chocolate ones, and well as some dark chocolate with orange, which I now regret because I gave some to my friend Jean to try and she said they were REALLY bitter because they were rolled in cocao powder. Sorry Jean! Why didn't I know that? Because I hate dark chocolate and refused to tasted them. They looked like the right consistency so I was willing to let em go. Guess next time I should have someone taste them before I give them away. Either way, it's really surprising how easy they are to make. And to think I've been paying Lindt Chocolate 59 cents for just one of them! I think I need to start being my own Master Swiss Chocolatier
:-P I think I ended up making over 100 truffles in eight different varieties. . . white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate with khalua, milk chocolate with brandy, milk chocolate dipped in white chocolate, white chocolate dipped in milk chocolate and on and on and on. . . you get the idea.! And now most of them are sitting in my fridge where they keep tempting Robert :-P. So if you live near me and you're reading this, be forewarned, I may be showing up at your doorstep with truffles in hand!
And as if that wasn't enough, he he he, I made more cupcakes :-P Yeah, I'll admit it. . . I am crazy cupcake lady. Or maybe just crazy lady in general! I actually made these for Gabrielle's class for her Valentine's Day party. But because I overfilled the muffin cups on the first try and they ended up looking ugly, I made a second, much prettier batch. What can I say, I am a perfectionist. Although truth be told, I think the ugly batch was tastier because they had more of the yummy filling in them. I love cupcakes with filling, it's like a surprise! Earlier this week I made vanilla cupcakes with a strawberry mascarpone filling. I forgot to blog about them and didn't take a picture of them because they were ugly too :-(. I wasn't too crazy about them, but the filling was really tasty. Anyway, back to my Valentine's cupcakes, otherwise known as Cherry Cordial cupcakes, well they were Devil's Food cupcakes with a cherry pie and cream cheese filling (that you can't see very well in the picture, but it's truly what made the cupcake great) topped with that cherry buttercream frosting that I love so much. What else can I say except delicious??? I think I'm addicted to cupcakes. Aaaaargh. . . . somebody stop me!

A lefty in the family?

One of the interesting things that we've noticed about Leila is that she doesn't seem to know which hand she wants to use to do things. Now I know that it can take children up until they are 5 to figure out whether they are right or left handed, but we knew Gabrielle was right handed (or rather Gabrielle knew) from practically the first moment she picked up a crayon. She was ALWAYS done everything with her right hand. Leila, on the other hand, ALWAYS alternates between hands. While coloring, she colors first with one hand and then puts the crayon in the other hand and colors some more. She'll throw you a ball with her left hand or her right hand, depending on which hand is closer to the ball. And even when she eats, it seems that she doesn't have a preference. If you put her spoon and the right side of her bowl, then she'll eat with her right hand, and if you put it on the left, she'll eat it with her left. It's really rather almost bizarre how she uses both hands evenly. But the most amusing thing happened last week when I made bulgogi. Bulgogi is Korean barbequed beef, and for those of you who haven't tried it, it is delish! The beef is thinly sliced and marinated before being grilled, although I actually cook mine indoors over a griddle. It reminds me of a really juicy, thinly sliced, high seasoned steak :-) (which I guess is what it is). But I think that the marinade is what really makes it so great and so different from anything else. For those of you curious for the recipe, here it is: Go to a Korean or Asian grocery store, or maybe even look in the Asian section of a regular grocery store, and find a bottle that says "Korean Barbeque Marinade" on it :-D. Make sure it has Korean Pear in the ingrediants because I think that's what makes it truly spectacular. Yeah, so I'm a cheater when it comes to this dish, but it's phenomenal and truly easy to make. And the kids love it too. Which brings me back to my original point because we gave the girls chopsticks to eat their dinner with that night. And lo and behold, Leila ate her food with her chopsticks in her left hand! Truly bizarre to me because I don't think I've ever seen anyone use chopsticks with their left hand (although I'm sure plenty of left-handed people do) and also because no one even showed her how to hold them with her left hand. I wouldn't even know where to begin. I'm interested to see if she does end up being a lefty, which would make her the first in our family. Our maybe she'll be ambidextrous. . . . which would also be the first!

I Do It My Way

So for Superbowl Sunday, Robert had wanted me to make Monte Cristo Sandwiches. But that didn't happen because of the crazy day we had then. A week later, I was finally able to make the sandwich for him for lunch. For those of you that are not familiar, a Monte Cristo is basically a fried ham and turkey sandwich. For Robert, it's one of his beloved favorites that he used to order from Bennigan's down in Virginia. Unfortunately for him, Bennigan's has since filed for bankruptcy and closed all their restaurants, although they have been trying to reopen a few. Luckily for him, since we haven't lived near a Bennigan's since leaving home, I long ago learned how to make Monte Cristo sandwiches. I was a little suprised when I googled Monte Cristo sandwiches because there are so many variations and ways of making it. But none of the recipes that I found or pictures that I look at, save Bennigan's, make them like mine. But I still think my way (Bennigan's way) looks the yummiest :-P. I supposed I may be a little biased. The jist of it is 3 slices of bread with deli sliced turkey and ham and swiss cheese. Then cut in half, stuck with toothpicks, dipped in a basic batter of flour, water, etc. Then deep fried (because everything is better fried :-D) and then sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a side of raspberry jam. It smelled and looked so good that I had to make one for myself. It was a HUGE meal in itself. . . though delicious. . . and I wasn't hungry for the rest of the day. YUM!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wasting away again. . .

yep, at Margaritaville :-P. I was in a rather pouty mood when Robert came home from work last Friday, so he decided to take me out for dinner (kids included of course because it was too late to get a sitter). And I would've been happy going to Chili's. . . aren't I easy to please? Instead, Robert suggested we take the girls to Margaritaville's, and I thought that was a SUPER idea. Unfortunately, Robert still hasn't figured out which parking garage to park in, so we ended up walking all the way through Mohegan Sun Casino (which is huge) with the girls. And you know, for some reason people tend to give you these nasty looks when you bring your children to the casino. It's not like I'm taking them with me to go gamble. They really won't let you in the gambling area with anyone under 21, even if they are 2 months old an in a stroller. We tried that with Gabrielle, and the security guy was like "Sorry, no one under 21." Anyway, we finally trekked all the way to Margaritaville and the moment we stepped in, Gabrielle was in heaven! She immediately started pointing out everything there -- the sailboat, whale, blender, seaplane, everything! We could barely get her to walk upstairs to our table. Leila seemed to like it, but she obviously wasn't as enthused. And she seemed to think that it was too loud in there because she just sat there with her hands over her ears. We were sitting on the upper deck, and apparently Gabrielle has really good eyesight. While eating, Gabrielle noticed the people on stilts making balloon hats. Just as we finished eating, one of the guys on stilts came upstairs and headed straight for our table. Gabrielle was soooo happy and excited! As the guy started blowing up the balloons to make her something, Gabrielle shouted out, "This is the Best Resturant ever!" loud enough for the people next to us to get a good chuckle. Of course, she was quickly disapointed when the balloon man gave her this flimsy looking parrot, that he had to explain to us. You know your ballon-animals need work when you have to describe what your looking at to a 4 year old and her parents. But he was quickly redeemed when he made it into a hat....because that's all she wanted (just like the ones we brought home from when Robert took me out). Leila got a nice rose...which proceeded to 'Pop' before we even left the Casino....the balloon man needs more training. What about the food you say? Well the girls had SEVEN DOLLAR mac-and-cheese!!! SEVEN DOLLARS!!! Yes, seven dollars for each of them for a bowl of mac and cheese. I could've bought 14 boxes of blue box special for that price! Oh well, Robert and I shared the Nacho Volcano, which as you can see is huge! It's the biggest plate of nachose I've ever seen. On a side note, as soon as we left the restaurant and was walking back to the car, Gabrielle asked for ice cream (because she's gotten some from Ben & Jerry's at the Sun before)...so Robert, being the pushover he is...got us Krispy Kreme doughnuts instead! The Fresh-Hot-Now sign was on and even though I absolutely love Krispy Kreme, I was too full to eat one :-( But hey, at least by the time we got home, I was in a much happier mood :-D