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Monday, February 28, 2011

Marching into the Future

I know, I KNOW....I promised to blog about making ciabatta bread from scratch....but there have been ISSUES! Issues with a capital "I"! Like, closing on our house...oh, and the fact that the little hooskadoo (it's a real word, just ask my former co-workers!) that takes the pictures from the camera (it's an SD memory card)...suddenly just quit on me! Well, fast forward to today, the last day of February, and suddenly, it is working again. Ahhhh the vagaries of the computer chip.  BUT.... I digress....there has also been...THIS


                                                       Oooooh.....cherry pie! AND.....there was THIS!

                                                       
                                                             Coconut Cream Pie

Dear Husband had someone leaving the company, and simply HAD to have desserts to bring to the farewell bash, and yours truly had to get baking! You know how much I just ADORE baking, right? Ah well, it had to be done. I must say, I am getting better at this whole dessert thing. I guess practice does make for irritability perfect results. Ahem.

Eat well, my friends...stay tuned for Spring fun from my kitchen, the ciabatta adventure...and most importantly....THE RUBBER CHICKEN POST! Love and kindness to all,

                                                                              Pixie

Friday, February 11, 2011

Food, Furniture and Fun!

I am postponing my post on ciabatta bread from scratch, as I am too busy staring at the new furniture that arrived in Pixie-land this morning. 

Those who know me will tell you that the road to this day has been long. We, as a family have endured many hard times, both financially and otherwise...and to arrive at this moment is nothing less than a celebration. I've moved around this earth so much, and for so long...that being someplace for more than a year is significant.  I have endured losses that to me, are profound, and irreparable. However, there are times in your life that can indeed heal your heart, and make it soar with hope.  This.......is one of those times.

All past sacrificing, all maniacal, mean people...all are fading in a cloud of peaceful existence. Dear Husband told me many years ago "I will always be there to repaint your rainbow, if ever it should fade" ~  he has always kept his word, and honored me with respect and love. For this alone, I am eternally grateful. 

Sidebar note.......


GOAT CHEESE & HONEY!!!! BEST........SNACK.......EVER!  Why? Well, because goat cheese has a tang to it, and if you've tasted it, you know what I mean. I can take it on it's own...but honey just takes it to a whole new level of yum-factor.

Eat well my friends, stay tuned for the ciabatta post, and look around at the fact that you have something to sit on, and be grateful. Love and kindness to all,

                                                                      Pixie

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mac and What?

I was watching a fascinating piece about The Grilled Cheese Truck on food-related TV recently, and could not believe my eyes! A sandwich, made with macaroni and cheese? With Barbecue pork? And more cheese? And caramelized onions? Oh, it was ON! I had to make it! So the quest began.....could I duplicate this famous and decadent sandwich? Well, here's how I tried.....first make ye some macaroni and cheese...I used mostaccioli, because I thought its length would be good in a sandwich. While it was cooking, I caramelized the onions as well....multi-tasking!


Then, I made a roux with butter and flour...just a regular roux for the cheese sauce...


I selected the cheeses for the sauce...sharp cheddar, Swiss and goat cheese....

Meanwhile, the onions were caramelized, so I put them aside to cool...
Then I added chicken stock and the cheeses to the roux, and stirred to thicken into a cheese sauce..


A few seasonings later...and we've got cheesy goodness!


I put the now-completed mac and cheese into a  pan to cool completely...you must do this step so that you can cut it into squares for your sandwich. There were many mostaccioli that did not make it into the fridge....uh...yeah, it was total snacking  quality control!


I microwaved my leftover barbecue pork rib meat, with some extra sauce thrown in...hey, you can never have too much barbecue sauce!

Now comes sandwich assembly time. The bread is coated with a mayonnaise/butter mixture (I know...I ate salads for two days after this), and placed in a non-stick pan...
While it was cooking, I laid down the foundation of cheddar cheese. You are supposed to use those squares of "cheese type product", but I refuse to use fake cheese...layering commencing....

Then, the cooled and cut macaroni and cheese....


Then, the leftover barbecue pork.....


And of course, since it's not decadent enough.....a layer of the caramelized onions!



You then grill up the sandwich like you would a normal grilled cheese sandwich. That top slice also has a cheddar cheese layer as well.


How do you achieve golden crispy-ness without a panini press? Use a cast iron, or heavy skillet....this is how I did mine....
The result? Lets just say this....after tasting how rich and delicious this sandwich was, I told myself that I would only eat half of it. But, somewhere along the way, my brain thought about how good hot sauce would be on it......and, well.....it was gone!

The moral of the story? Be careful when attempting to re-create a dish you see on TV....you might be lurking in dangerously tasty territory....behold the cheesy mac & rib goodness....


And yes, as you might have guessed....this is not diet food. Every now and again, even I stray to something that is less-than-healthy! So what! Variety IS the spice of life, after all.

Plus....I ate salad for lunch for two days after this.....and took fish oil......and shoveled snow.....and....and....and...OK, I think I mitigated any artery-clogging that went on in here!

What is your favorite food to indulge in when you are being "naughty"? Chocolate? Wine? Do tell !

Eat well, my friends.....and stay tuned for the two-day process of making Italian ciabatta bread from scratch! The crusty outside, the light-as-a-feather inside....oh my word.....gotta go eat something now! Love and kindness to all...

                                                                              Pixie

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pucker Up!

Dear Husband wanted some treats to take to work. You know what that means, right? Yes, BAKING!!! Arggghhhh (creepy horror movie music playing in the background). I could not fall back on the seven-layer magic bars, either this time...because I had no graham cracker crumbs, or graham crackers to turn into crumbs. Oh crumbs.....but, wait a moment, I had lemons! Lots of lemons, that I used for my cobalt-blue-and-lemon-yellow themed kitchen in my most recent video. Go here to view that particular video, if you dare.

Anyhoo, lemon bars are what the big treat was going to be. I found what looked like an easy recipe for it..and began. First, one must make the shortbread crust that is underneath the lemony filling. Get your ingredients organized, as per usual....

I began by creaming butter and sugar until light and fluffy...remember, the butter is now at room temperature. I was rather surprised to see that confectionery sugar was called for...but I dutifully followed the recipe.

When a recipe calls for you to cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, this is what it should look like at the "light and fluffy" stage...

Then, flour and salt were added, and the mixture blended just until it became a dough....like this..

Then, you press this shortbread crust into a large baking pan. I doubled the recipe, knowing that this is a workplace treat, and there are potentially more than say, four people who would like some!

You bake this crust for twenty minutes, and allow to cool while you make the filling.....and when a recipe tells you to cool something on a wire rack...do it! The results will be worth it...


OK, since that part was done...it was time to make the lemon-a-licious filling. Keep in mind, that at this point, I have cleaned the bowl of my mixer, and the paddle, and made sure it was spotless before the addition of sugar and eggs, which looked like this..

You beat this mixture until smooth, which if you are not a baker, when you have achieved "smooth", this is what it looks like....

Now it was time to get some real lemony flavor into the custard mixture...by getting out the box grater, and the lemons...time to get zesting!

Once I had enough (two tablespoons) of the zest...it was time to get out my little citrus reamer, and get all their juice, too...

The zest and juice, along with two tablespoons of flour, were added to the mixer...

The whole shebang was mixed again until smooth, poured on top of the shortbread crust, baked for another twenty minutes, and allowed to cool...this is what it looked like before it went into the 350 degree oven.

I take it quite seriously when a recipe says to "cool completely", especially in the case of anything that one is going to cut into bars. Impatience at this step will only get you a dessert item that will not be in bars, and will come out a mushy mess. So, I cleaned the kitchen, and asked Kitchen Angel if she liked lemon-flavored desserts....I think that's a YES!



How did they come out?  Well, have a look....


The shortbread crust was buttery and tender, the lemon filling was very lemony indeed, and I will be making this again!

What is your favorite bar-type dessert? Is it easy to make?

Eat well, my friends....and stay tuned for the re-creation of the infamous Cheesy Mac and Rib!  Love and kindness to all,

                                                                              Pixie