Monthly Archives: November 2010

Your Best Recipe – November Edition

I have a complaint to make.  It is of utmost importance and needs to be brought to somebody’s attention immediately.

WHERE HAS NOVEMBER GONE!?

Time needs to slow down just a bit.  That being said, here we are at the end of November and you know what that means!  It’s time for YOUR BEST RECIPE!  As busy as I think this month has been for me, I can’t imagine how crazy it has been for the beautiful hostess of this recipe roundup.  In case you haven’t heard, Nancy announced the release of her first cookbook (shameless plug: you can find it on amazon… and yes, I want a copy for Reyes… hint, hint mama… nudge, nudge pelirojo) that is filled with her phenomenal photography and delicious recipes.  It’s been really neat to see this project unfold.

With all of these things in play, Nancy still managed to find time to host this fun project.  I’ve been exposed to some great bloggers through this effort and it has been so much fun to see the types of recipes people submit from across the globe.  So without further ado, I invite you to click on the badge below to head over to SpicieFoodie.com and see this month’s delicious collection of recipes!

The Making of Friendship Bread

I don’t deny my rookie status in the kitchen.  I still play things very safe because I haven’t figured out what works and what doesn’t.  So when Rebecca showed up with a bag of mix that required “smushing” and “feeding,” I was confused.

“I need to do what?!  And it sits out?  And doesn’t go bad??”

The bag contained a mix of ingredients (I only know that there was yeast involved) and it came with beautiful instructions that Rebecca had put together.  The directions clearly stated what I needed to do on each day:

Day 1 – smush the bag / Day 2 – smush the bag / Day 3 – smush the bag / Day 4 – smush the bag

Day 5 – Feed the yeast!  (1 c. flour, 1 c. sugar, 1 c. milk)

Day 6 – smush the bag / Day 7 – smush the bag / Day 8 – smush the bag / Day 9 – smush the bag

Day 10 – Feed the yeast! (1 c. flour, 1 c. sugar, 1 c. milk) Divide the starter!

I took one look at it and thought, “I’m going to be killed eating this.”  (It wasn’t until later that my friend Deana pointed to sourdough bread as another example of this strategy in action.)

So apparently the milk that sits out for 10 days in this mix won’t kill you, who knew?  Well I didn’t!

Day 10 came and I prepared myself for battle.  That morning, Rebecca sent me an e-mail that simply said: “Seriously, 1 cup of oil and a box of pudding.  No freaking applesauce.  To hell with that hippie stuff.

Being a dutiful apprentice, I did as I was told.

As I began feeding the yeast and dividing the starter, I realized that this process was going to leave me with 3 new bags of this mix!  The point of this recipe is that you are supposed to hand them out to friends so that they can make their own friendship breads and then continue to pass out the starter bags to their friends, and so on, and so on.  The process is reminiscent of those chain letters that threatened “pass it forward, or else!,” but much tastier 🙂

After the bags had been divided and my starter had been dumped into a bowl, I added 3 eggs, 1 cup of oil, 1/2 cup of milk, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and mixed.  In a separate bowl, I mixed 2 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a box of chocolate pudding.  I slowly added the dry ingredients to the wet mix and stirred.  Lastly, I threw in a cup of chocolate chips and mixed.

By the time this was ready to go into a pan, I realized that there was a lot of batter.  So instead of splitting it into loaf pans, I pulled out my bundt pan and poured the batter in.  The pan went into a preheated oven of 350 degrees and sat for over an hour.  I had originally set the time for an hour, but it wasn’t quite done.  I’d say it was closer to 75 minutes (estimated) before the bread was ready to come out of the oven.

I was so skeptical.  I am such a fool.

This bread was phenomenal.  It wasn’t light or fluffy, but it’s not meant to be.  It was dense with flavor and texture, and both Ian and I had seconds before the cake had even had time to cool off completely!  The awesome thing about this recipe is that the possibilities are endless.  Instead of chocolate pudding, you can add lemon, or butterscotch or something else!  You can substitute the chocolate chips for nuts, or dried fruits, or diced apples.  You can really get creative with the starter.  The variations seemed too advanced for me initially, so I stuck closely to Rebecca’s instructions.  Next time, I think I may dip my toe in that creative pool and see what happens.

I bet you’ve never heard of “Dog Pie”

I know that I’ve been M.I.A. this week, but it’s not because I haven’t been online!  I’ve been sitting back and watching as my favorite food bloggers posted about their Thanksgiving Day preparations, and drooled as they detailed each dish that would grace their tables.  The truth is that I had nothing to contribute this week.  I wasn’t hosting my own dinner, and because we were going to be traveling to mom and dad’s, I had been working on finishing up the last of the leftovers at home (hence the lack of new posts).  I do, however, want to share a recap of the phenomenal meal my mom put together.

My favorite part about my mom’s Thanksgiving dinner is that you can’t always predict what you are going to get.  Sure, the classics make repeat appearances each year, but culinary creativity has always been her gift.  The dishes you can always count on are the turkey, the gravy, and the cornbread.  Outside of these dishes, you better have a sense of adventure!

This year, mama’s roasted red pepper tapas recipe made an appearance.  (And just in case you’re dim like me… no…the peppers were not from a jar!)  She also made her amazing shrimp salad (a regular at our holiday meals).  The next two sides that I am going to tell you about were new “experiments.”  In hopes of cutting down on those last minute dishes (i.e. dishes that can’t be prepared in advance), mom found a spinach and artichoke casserole that she wanted to make, as well as a hashbrown side dish that would substitute for mashed potatoes.  I enjoyed both, but mom wasn’t happy with how the spinach turned out.  The meal was paired with a delicious rioja wine that complimented every note of the meal.  Look at the beautiful spread she put together:

As delectable as the dinner was, and as much as we enjoyed being together for this wonderful holiday… the dinner was not the most memorable part of our Thanksgiving Day.

Allow me to introduce you to Baloo.  Baloo is the most handsome treeing walker coonhound you will ever see.  I love everything about this dog.  I love his broad chest, his long velvety ears, his webbed feet… I even love his bay.  It’s a deafening howl (mainly cause he has enough lung power for four dogs) but it is soulful, strong, and beautiful (as long as you’re not in a closed car when he does it).  This dog has brought my parents so much happiness and endless entertainment.  There are, however, two drawbacks to this handsome boy.

First, if you ever wondered where the weapons of mass destruction are, just visit this coonhound on a day he is stressed.  Any slight variance in his routine and it is game over.  GAME.  OVER.  May God have mercy on your soul if you happen to be in the same room with him when he farts.  Not to go into too much detail… but he can clear a room.  It isn’t just slightly smelly.  It’s the kind of fart you can taste.  You don’t have an option.  Leave the room immediately.  I think this is why my dad loves this dog so much.  He thinks it’s hilarious when my mom is forced to leave the room mumbling “ai por favor! que guarro!

Second, he is smart.  You can tell just by looking at him.  Don’t let those big brown eyes fool you!  He is plotting something.  He knows that all he has to do is wait.  It’ll happen.  They’ll turn their back.  And inevitably, they do.  Then, his window is open for him to STRIKE!

The newest episode in this saga includes a would-be apple pie.  Alas.  It was not meant to be.

After Thanksgiving dinner had been inhaled and the dishes had been cleaned, we took our obligatory food coma break.  This year, the dessert menu included 4 items.  Yes, your read that right… 4 items.  There were only 5 of us!  Variety is key 😉

As I was saying, there were four items that were to be put out after the food coma break.  Three of these had been made in advance: the pumpkin pie, the cherry cheesecake, and (another experiment) a frozen whipped dessert.  I can’t remember the official name of the last dessert, but it was awesome.  It included whipped heavy cream, pineapples, cherries, cranberries, and marshmallows.  The fourth dessert was mom’s famous apple pie.  She had decided that she would make it after dinner so that we could enjoy it while it was still warm.

The apples had been peeled and sliced, the crust had been crimped, and the last touches of love had been put into the pie when it happened.  Mom walked over to the oven to set it to preheat.  She turned it on, and right at this moment, I was walking out of the kitchen to run upstairs.  As soon as I reached the top step, I heard mom scream “AI!  NO!”  I ran downstairs thinking she had burnt herself only to find this carnage:

She had made a cardinal mistake!  She turned her back on the coonhound!  In less than a minute, his hours of patiently waiting and sitting outside of the kitchen had paid off.  Within seconds, my little sister and I were back in the kitchen watching our devastated mother pick up pieces of the crust off of the floor.  Nena (my kid sis) and I immediately went into damage control.  Mama walked out of the kitchen defeated.  The coonhound had tricked her again.

Nena and I decided we would try to make a crumble to go on top of the pie.  As she picked the obviously chewed apple slices out of the pie and reconstructed what she could of the crust, I got to work on mixing the flour, brown sugar, and butter.  (I had no idea what I was doing, but the cookbook assured me that this would work.)  Our final product was not beautiful, but we crossed our fingers as we put it into the oven to bake.  45 minutes later, we pulled it out of the oven and called everybody to the kitchen for dessert.  I forgot to take a picture of the result, but you can see it in the background of this picture that features the frozen whipped dessert.

Everybody politely served themselves a piece of the apple crumb thing as a show of support, but I know I was expecting the worst.  As we sat around the table and quietly looked at our plate full of little slivers of each dessert, dad said “well, let’s see how this dog pie turned out!”  Everybody broke out laughing and dove in.  It wasn’t mom’s apple pie, but it didn’t turn out that bad.

Well my friends, there you have it.  The saga of Thanksgiving’s dog pie debut.  It was an amazing visit, a phenomenal meal, and I got humorous fodder for my blog.  I hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday!

Feature Friday: Scrumptious Meatball Soup

Motherhood is probably in the “top 3” of most terrifying things I can imagine.  This list goes something like this:

  1. Walking on the wooden boardwalk over Foz do Iguaçu (Iguacu Falls).  I did it once because I was forced to (I was 5 or 6 at the time).  It was so terrifying that it scarred me for life.  I have been petrified of heights ever since.
  2. Being stuck on a roller coaster upside down.   I have no basis for this, it’s just something I have spent an odd amount of time thinking about.  I have an overactive imagination.
  3. Motherhood.

I’ve heard people say it’s just something that comes naturally, but I’m sorry… that’s bull.  Being a rockstar mother does not come naturally.  It takes an amount of energy, patience, and love that is not inherent to parenthood…  it takes work.  Of course I don’t know this from personal experience, but I know it from watching her.  I know it from watching my older sister, Nani.

Nani is a rockstar mamacita.  I am completely serious.  I don’t know how she does it.

There are three of them; three adorable, beautiful, well-mannered munchkins that demand her time.  There’s soccer practice, baseball practice, basketball practice, church activities, homework, 4 H – and these are only the kids’ activities!  Have I mentioned she’s also going to school?  Yes, I know.  She’s insane.  But she pulls it off.  Not only does she pull it off… she looks GOOD DOING IT!  (Seriously, the girl is gorgeous… hence the beautiful munchkins 🙂 )

Nani is a firm believer in the power of the crock pot.  When I moved into an apartment in college, that was the first thing she got me.  It is a magical appliance that I have grown fond of over the years, and I can see why it would be a mother’s best friend.  With Nani’s packed schedule, dinner gets thrown in first thing in the morning and then devoured before running off to evening activities.

While we were visiting a few weeks ago, I snapped some pictures of her scrumptious spicy meatball soup.  It is super easy and ideal for a busy weeknight!

The ingredients were frozen meatballs and corn, canned (the Rotel kind w/ green chilies – undrained) diced tomatoes and black beans (drained and rinsed), and chicken broth.  Everything went into the crock pot in the morning.  After a full day of playing/catching up, all we had to do was serve the soup.  No fussing with cooking AND there was still a delicious meal to be had.  See what I mean?  ROCKSTAR!

The soup came out flavorful and with a bit of a kick.  She served dinner with croissants that were perfect for absorbing the liquids after you were done fishing out the meatballs.

Ian and I both had seconds!

What Nani doesn’t know, is that this post is only the first.  She has two more crock pot recipes that I’m determined to have her share with me.  One is a spagehtti sauce recipe and the other is for her famous beef stroganoff.  Over the next few visits we make, I hope to snap a few shots of her working her magic, so stay tuned!

Scrumptious soup and phenomenal company, can you ask for anything more?

Te queiro, hermanita!  Te echo de menos!

 

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