23 April, 2011

Happy Easter! Cake Pops Easter chickies.

Well, it took almost all day, but I finally finished my Cake Pops! They were definitely difficult, but I think in the end they turned out very cute, for a first time!
Problems I need to address next time:
- How to get the correct consistency. I practiced yesterday with 12 and most fell off the stick into the frosting. I was sure this was because they weren't firm enough, so I popped them in the freezer and it worked. Today, however, I think I left them in the freezer too long because they were then, essentially, sweating through their candy coating! Poor little guys.
- How the heck do food markers work without getting gunked up? I had to eventually just dab them over and over until the eyes were the correct size, because writing with them caused them to stop working.
- How to get the candy coating to go on in an even fashion. I think some of my problems were because the candy coating was super hot when I was dipping frozen cake balls in, but when I waited for it to cool a little, I started to get lumpy chicks.

Well, regardless of appearance, I can assure you they are all DELICIOUS (there were at least 8 mistakes over the course of the past 2 days, so Hubby and I have been dining on carrot cake all this time.) I highly recommend checking out Bakerella's website, and definitely picking up her Cake Pops cookbook if you like baking, because these are awesome!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take my army of chicks and attempt to take over the world! (Insert sinister laugh here.)

21 April, 2011

#16 Nom-nom Paleo's "Super Porktastic Bacon-Topped Spinach & Mushroom Meatloaf" with Carrot-Turnip Puree

 Oh... my... gawd! This was, without a doubt, the BEST thing I've made all year! Last week I told you about Nom Nom Paleo's food blog and her amazing meatloaf recipe I couldn't wait to try. Well, it was worth the wait! Not to mention that after fretting over all the added fat from the bacon, and then using MyFitnessPal to figure out the calories and fat, I was more than thrilled that a 9x5 loaf cut into 8 pieces yields only 317 calories and 20g of fat! Not to mention the turnip/carrot puree was mighty tasty, if not a little baby-foodish.

So, do you wanna know how I made it? Huh, do ya? Well, the link above has the original recipe (with absolutely amazing photography to assist with your step-by-step... believe me, I'm aware that my Canon PowerShot SD630 was not made for food pornography.)
I did make a few tweaks to the original recipe: my favorite farmer did not have ground pork last weekend (insert overly dramatic sad violin here), but he has the best grass fed ground beef I've ever tasted, so I went with that. Also, I had forgotten the bacon and celery on my after-farmer's-market-grocery-store-run last weekend, and was disappointed when I made a quick run on my way home from work to find that the nearby HEB did not have organic celery, the number 1 culprit on the Dirty Dozen list. So, I instead opted for some Pacific Natural Foods condensed cream of celery soup in place of the 1/4c of cream/milk. Delicious. Yum!

Edited Recipe
1 lb fresh chopped, cooked down, and drained spinach
1 1/4 lb ground beef
1/4 c flour (or a bit more, if you're like me and too impatient to let spinach cool before wringing it out & burning yourself)
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt + more to taste
1 1/2 tsp black pepper + more to taste
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup condensed cream of celery
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 lb finely chopped portabella mushrooms
2 large eggs
5 slices of bacon

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Heat butter and saute onions and mushrooms with salt and pepper.
  • Blend cream of celery and parsley until pureed.
  • Add all of this to a medium bowl (except for bacon) & mix by hand.
  • Transfer to 9x5 loaf pan.
  • Bake for 70-75min (I had to leave it a bit longer, some of the meat was still pink.)
  • Set oven to broil and broil for 3 min or until bacon is crispy.
  • Pour off grease and let sit for 10-20min.
  • Serve with marinara or tomato sauce on top.

15 April, 2011

1st time with Lamb (#14) and "Jerk" chicken with banana fried rice (#15)

This week included my first time making lamb chops. I just bought a small amount, as I was unsure of how they would cook or taste. I'm thinking next time I'll marinate them. To me they tasted like a lighter version of beef. I slow cooked it in the oven with some sweet potatoes and mushrooms. I had to broil the sweet potatoes for a few minutes to finish them off.

Then I had a risqué recipe I had been wanting to try: jerk chicken with banana fried rice. Now, to be fair, this recipe came from a magazine that I think more northerners than southerners read. I'm mostly placing this assumption on the little inset that said "wear gloves when you cut the jalapeño, I learned the hard way!" To be fair, a few of my non-Texan relatives cannot handle the heat. But here in Texas, a jalapeño is like a freaking cucumber. That should have been my first warning flag. I wish I had added 4 jalapeños and maybe a few seeds for fun, instead of the requested 1. Still, it came out a little better than I expected (since cinnamon was in the recipe and I have an aversion to cinnamon or pineapple in my non-dessert foods.) The banana fried rice won over my hubby, but I'm wondering if that had more to do with the fact that his poor Chinese stomach had not had jasmine rice in at least a month, and not the fact that it was a good recipe. Still, it was good. (Speaking of bananas, has anyone ever really been this bored before?)

I'm excited about this week's menu. I've been obsessed with this crazy girl's blog. She and her family are on the Paleo diet (no legumes or bread products- also called the "Caveman diet"). So Nom Nom Paleo has been posting about this awesome Super Porktastic Bacon-Topped Spinach and Mushroom Meatloaf and Carrot Parsnip Puree. I must make both. Now. I'm salivating as I type this, and I was well-fed today! I don't want to post the photos she took of her food because I guarantee my photos won't look as great (she does, after all, own a REAL camera for taking food pics.)

Now, as an avid reader of her blog, I must say that I'm still not convinced of going hardcore and becoming Paleo. If anything, I think as Americans we eat too much meat. I think there are alternative protein sources available that we ignore. (RE: why my students are excited/dreading Monday- can you say chocolate covered grasshoppers?) I also think that as someone who once struggled physically and now and then still struggles mentally with an eating disorder, removing any food group from one's diet can put already susceptible parties in danger of sliding down that slippery slope to adding everything to the "bad food" list. However, this blog has really helped expand my thoughts on how to incorporate more veggies into dinnertime meals, and given me some insight into how I may someday have to appease a young picky eater.

I suppose I shouldn't be waiting so long to post, or you end up reading a book when all you wanted was a quick peak at what we cooked/ate this week. One last snigglet, though. If you love baking and you have no idea who Bakerella or what Cake Pops are, you have got to educate yourself. (Hint: start by clicking those links.) So I was absolutely THRILLED when my day's long shopping adventure with a girlfriend turned up her book at a Michael's. I will die if I do not make those cute little chicks in the upper left hand corner for Easter next weekend. Family: prepare to melt from cuteness.