Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rusty the Owl

I love him. Used up some of the maroon and silver grey I had left over, and felt I've had for forever and a day. Though I didn't have enough stuffing as I'd have liked, so he's not as fat as I wanted. He did take a really long time to make, but well worth it. The front is, well, above, and the back is the exact same shape and such, but in plain grey. No, he's not perfect. I'm not so great at the attaching-some-other-material-to-knit-things process.
Taken from the book Knitted Toys by Zoe Mellor, the mouse I made came from the book, too. I did adapt them both a bit, but I definitely recommend this book.

Sunday Confessional

  1. I hate when people hide healthy food in dessert. Like zucchini-chocolate cupcakes. It's shameful.

  2. I love love love coffee. I'm a two-cup-minimum kind of girl. The amount I drink is pretty much enough to kill a horse.

  3. There are a few books that will never fail to make me cry. Any of the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants books, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. And The Time Traveler's Wife. Like, gut-wrenching sobs. It's not a good sight.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dinner party

The Menu
Stuffed mushrooms
Oven-roasted asparagus
Soft garlic knots
Roast beef
Mashed potatoes

Stuffed mushrooms
Yum. Yum yum yum. I don't like mushrooms. Or most cheese (crazy, I know). But these were delicious.
(Taken from Annie's Eats.)

(These are them uncooked, sitting in the fridge. Once done, they were all oozy and delicious.)

24 whole fresh button mushrooms
3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. vegetable oil
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Bread crumbs and minced fresh herbs, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Carefully remove the stems from the mushroom caps, setting the caps aside for later. Add the stems to the bowl of a food processor. Add the garlic to the food processor as well, and pulse in brief bursts until them mushroom stems and garlic are finely chopped.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped mushroom stems and garlic and cook until all the moisture has disappeared, about 5-7 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low. Stir in the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese and spices. Stir together until the mixture is smooth and creamy; remove from the heat. Using a small spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of filling. Arrange the mushroom caps on the prepared baking sheet. Top with bread crumbs, if desired. Bake for 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are hot and liquid starts to form under the caps. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with fresh herbs if using and serve immediately.

Roasted asparagus

I love asparagus. A lot. Which is surprising, because I hate most vegetables. But these were delicious, and super easy to make.

(Thanks, Pioneer Woman)

1 bunch Asparagus
  • 4 Tablespoons (up To 5 Tablespoons) Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

After you wash the asparagus thoroughly, stack a bunch together and lop off the tough/thick bottom an inch or so.

Spread out the asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Pat it as dry as you can, as you don’t want any water to “steam” the asparagus in the oven.

Begin by generously drizzling olive oil all over the asparagus and then sprinkle the asparagus generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Roast the asparagus for about ten minutes.

Soft garlic knots
I LOVE bread. So so so much. And these were so good. Like Ippolito's. (Thanks again, Annie's Eats.)

(These are the knots after they've risen, just before they go in the oven.)

For the dough:

6 cups bread flour
2 tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. instant yeast
2 1/2 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup milk
2 cups + 4 tbsp. lukewarm water

For the glaze:

4 cloves garlic
4 tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. Italian seasoning


To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil, milk and water. Mix until ingredients have formed a dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough into 20 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 10 inch long rope and tie into a knot. Take the end lying underneath the knot and bring it over the top, tucking it into the center. Take the end lying over the knot and tuck it underneath and into the center. Transfer shaped rolls to a baking stone, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 45 minutes, until puffy.

To make the glaze, finely mince the garlic or press it through a garlic press. Mix with the melted butter and Italian seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Brush the glaze onto the shaped rolls. Bake until set and lightly browned, about 15-18 minutes.

Roast beef
I love roast beef (too, I guess. Seeing as I made the menu for this dinner, of course I love everything). But I've never made one before. The Pioneer Woman has this recipe for roasted beef tenderloin, but the tenderloin was ridiculously expensive, so we opted for eye of round. And it was still really really good. If you like roast beef, MAKE THIS.

(I realize this isn't the most attractive picture, but just so you get the drift of what it looks like.)
  • 2.5 lb-eye of round roast (this fed six, many of whom took multiple slices)
  • 1 stick Butter, or more to taste
  • Whole peppercorns, or cracked peppercorns (you're cracking them anyways, so if there is cracked, get them)
  • Seasoned salt
  • Lemon Pepper Seasoning
  • Olive Oil
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

The eye of round meat should be very lean, but if there's lots of fat, cut some of it off. Sprinkle meat generously with the seasoned salt. You'll want to use a lot, because you're not getting a lot of the edges when you actually serve it. Rub it in with your fingers. Sprinkle both sides generously with lemon & pepper seasoning. (There are no measurements because it depends on your taste, but be sure to season liberally.)

Place the peppercorns in a Ziploc bag, and with a mallet or a hammer or a large, heavy can, begin smashing the peppercorns to break them up a bit. Set aside. (Or just buy them already cracked, and you're set.)

Heat some olive oil in a heavy skillet. When the oil is to the smoking point, place the beef in the very hot pan to sear it. Throw a couple of tablespoons of butter into the skillet to give it a nice little butter injection before going in the oven. A minute or two later, when one side is starting to turn nice and brown, flip and repeat.

Place the tenderloin on an oven pan with a rack. Sprinkle the pummeled peppercorns all over the meat. Press the pepper onto the surface of the meat. Put several tablespoons of butter all over the meat. Stick the long needle of the thermometer lengthwise into the meat. Place it in a 325-degree oven until the temperature reaches just under 140 degrees. This will take multiple hours, but by cooking it slowly, it stays nice and tender.

Let meat stand ten minutes or so before slicing, so the meat will have a chance to relax a bit.


I have never had a snickerdoodle before this. Never. And as much as I believe most desserts should be chocolate, something non-chocolate was needed after such a rich meal. And these were good.

I took this recipe from Betty Crocker. Thanks, Betty. This makes 4-5 dozen.

1 1/2cups sugar
1/2cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2cup shortening (as much as I hate using shortening, you need it for this recipe because it keeps them from spreading too much)
2 3/4cups self-rising flour
1/4teaspoon salt
1/4cup sugar
2teaspoons ground cinnamon

1.Heat oven to 400ºF.
2.Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter, shortening and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour.
3.Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
4.Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. They'll be super-soft, so do this carefully.

S'mores cupcakes

S'mores cupcakes. Or, oh-em-gee cupcakes. Or, better yet, I-love-you-so-much-I-made-you-these-ridiculously-yummy-but-time-consuming cupcakes. Yeah, that last one.
I don't think a dessert has ever frustrated me more. Fairly simple ingredients. But: uses a lot of bowls and such, have to make two batters, they take a really long time to prepare, and they're so difficult to get out of the pan (if you mess it up like I did) that I had only one pan out of three survive.
But they're soooooo good. Even my father, who hates cupcakes (insane, I know, right?) loved these. LOVED them.
So, if you have the time, I recommend making them. I mean, they're worth it. And it probably wasn't that bad, I just messed up five million times.
Mess-up #1: While adding the milk to the batters, I accidentally added all of the milk to the chocolate batter, instead of half in each. Which lead to a very liquidy batter. So, I just put it in a cake pan and cooked it. BAD IDEA. It was the densest, chewiest cake I've ever made. I guess in my frustrated mind, I figured batter + cake pan = cake. Nope. Not so.

(Ew. Do not try this.)

Mess-up #2: I did not inspect my pantry well, which meant that I bought a thing of chocolate chips and a bottle of vanilla because I saw we didn't have enough, while, in fat, we had the largest bottle of vanilla I've ever seen and more chocolate chips than imaginable at the bottom of a basket in our pantry. And then I ran out of cupcake liners. Yeah, the grocery store saw me a lot that day.
Mess-up #3: I overfilled many of the cupcake tins, and did not expect them to rise as much as they did, which lead to ruining half the batch.


Mess-up #4: I did not ice these until a day after I made them (mostly because I was so aggravated about the whole ordeal), so the only photos I was able to take were pre-iced cupcakes, because once they were iced, they were gone in about five seconds.

S'more cupcakes with chocolate ganache icing (adapted from Bakerella)

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups cocoa
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups milk
4 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup oil
Bag of mini-marshmallows or bag of jumbo marshmallows, cut in half

Graham Cracker Crumb topping
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda together with a wire whisk.
Separate the mixture in half into two bowls.

Stir cocoa into one bowl and the graham cracker crumbs into the other.
Add 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla and 1/2 cup oil to the cocoa mixture and beat on medium until combined.
Repeat adding the same ingredients to the graham cracker crumb flour mixture.

Prepare the graham cracker crumb topping.
Add the brown sugar and crumbs in a small bowl and pour on the melted butter. Stir until combined.

Pour a little graham cracker cake batter into the bottom of your baking cups (you need like the size of a quarter. This rises a lot. But then again, it depends on the ratio of graham-to-chocolate you want. For mine, I did just a little dollop in the bottom) and then sprinkle the topping mixture lightly on the surface.
Place a marshmallow half on top (or about 3-4 mini marshmallows) and then cover the marshmallow(s) with the chocolate cake batter until it is about 3/4 full. (Remember: this rises. A LOT.)
Sprinkle with more topping mixture.

Bake cupcakes for about 15 minutes.

Let cool and top with ganache.

Heat the butter and cream on the stove. Heat until just before it boils. Remove and pour over chocolate. Stir until completely melted and smooth.
Pour over cupcakes and add more marshmallows if you desire.

This makes about 24-36 cupcakes.

(Hello, grainy photo taken at midnight.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Blogs revisited

People (blogs, really) you should check out:

Who -- What I love

Rawrchar -- This is Carly's blog, a good friend of mine
VO Knits -- the Lyon hat, yet to be made
Present Knits -- her Mossy Pebbles scarf. I made a similar one for my friend Megan for Christmas
Midnight Knitter -- used her Karaoke Cable scarf pattern for my mother
Na Vlne -- I LOVE her Capucine hat. This was also one of the failed January hats. Let's not talk about it.
The Sweatshop of Love -- Love the name, love her slouchy red hat
Creativeyarn -- these fingerless gloves, yet to be made
Knit Me! -- I really love this dinosaur. A lot.

BAKING, etc.
Usually I just mess around with recipes I have, but I just found:
Bakerella -- LOVE her cake pops. There are no words.
Pinch My Salt -- awesome photos
Baked Perfection -- yum. yum yum yum.
Annie's Eats -- stolen many recipes from. So good.
Cake Spy -- so cute.
Sweetnicks -- Such an adorable family, and some really awesome-sounding recipes.
Bake at 350 -- LOVE those cookies. All of them.
The Good Apple -- even though fondant terrifies me, she makes me want to try it.