armadillas


Technical conspiracies

I’m so upset! As you all know, my lowly yet trusted camera phone stopped working the other day. It’s a bad thing, a very bad thing for my style of blogging. My poor photos may not be high quality, but at least they are instructional. So how, pray tell, am I supposed to make regular updates without photos? I suppose we’re just going to have to use our imaginations for a while. Or, I can attempt at doodling…which has never been my strong point.

Yeah, the doodling is not working out so well. Anyway, the reason I really wanted to post some pics today is because I finally finally finally attempted to make a dough that turned out perfectly. What a feat! I mean, remember my last few attempts with dough? They weren’t very pretty. But today I stumbled upon a fairly simple recipe for homemade pretzels and it was an absolute success. I was ecstatic!

Recipe courtesy Joanne Ozug at Fifteen Spatulas

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons quick rise yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Sea salt
  • Baking soda mixture (see below)

When I said this recipe was simple, I really meant it. Take all your ingredients and dump them into a bowl. Your warm water should be around 110 degrees.

Mix it all together with a wooden spoon until the dough begins to form.

Knead the dough. This surely is not my strong point so after a few minutes of trying to figure out if the dough was doing what it was supposed to be doing I decided to stop.

Dust the dough with flour and seal into a Ziploc bag. Allow to rest for half an hour.

After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the bag and divide into however many pretzels you want. The original recipe makes eight. I decided to make six small ones for snacking and two big ones for sandwiches. Who doesn’t love a pretzel sandwich?!

Once the dough is divided, roll and  form into little pretzel knots  on a lightly oiled surface. Dunk each knot into a Baking Soda Mixture, which consists of a cup of water mixed with a tablespoon of baking soda microwaved in a bowl together.

Place the dunked knots onto a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and let rest for 10 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Indulge!

These were pretty good, especially for my first try. I sincerely apologize for not having any photos. Next time I want to experiment and make garlic pretzels. Maybe I’ll even throw some herbs into the dough, too.


Sanguistas

For the past couple days, a friend and I have been exchanging emails in search of the perfect chocolate frosting. She’s gone and made a birthday cake for one of her friends and the request was simple: chocolatechocolatechocolate! Of course, I’m not the biggest chocolate fan, but I understood her needs. We wanted a real recipe, something worth presenting for a birthday! Not one of those wimpy recipes claiming to be the best only to be the most flavorless thing you’ve ever tasted. No ma’am! My first thoughts were maybe something along the lines of a ganache, but considering the size of her cake, well, that would require a lot of frosting and a bit of money. So now there’s naught to do but choose a nice fudgy frosting. I’m sure it’ll work out fine and the chocolate lover will be most happy with the results, which will have consisted of international efforts!

All this talk of frosting has put me in the mood to bake a cake. I’ve never been much of a sweets person, but here lately I seem to be craving them all the time. Maybe craving is an exaggeration, but I usually get around to making something sweet once a week when once upon a time I made something maybe once a year (ahem my own birthday cake, which is quite divine!). I blame all the boys. In this house, we usually have some sort of weekend gathering, typically involving a bonfire surrounded by a lot of menfolk. One day, I decided to make them cookies. Then I made them brownies. Then I made- well, you get the picture. Anyway, I’ve created some sort of monster. They want sweets…and I want to make them! There’s just no controlling this new found urge. Sometimes it’s best just to give in.

Anyway, I went to a little dinner get together last night with my friends and I decided on a whim to provide dessert. For probably the past month I’ve been making a lot of chocolate things (huh?) and was itching for a change. That’s when I stumbled across a bag of pistachios in the cabinet.

Mmm pistachios! I am a recent lover of pistachios. A few years ago a friend’s grandmother made us watergate salad (oh yum!) and I was intrigued. A year later I tried some pistachio ice cream in Costa Rica and I was hooked. Finally, I had a little taste of the tiny green nut itself in a grocery store and I knew there was no going back. What a marvelous little fellow. Great snack! So addicting. Before you know it, the whole bag is gone…be warned!

I do, however, have a confession to make. I cheated. I did not make my cake from scratch. I bought a box and dumped the contents into a bowl then added a few extra tid bits. The cake was good, don’t get me wrong. It was gone by this morning. But in my opinion it was a little on the sweet side so next time I am most definitely doing it start to finish myself so I can make adjustments. But the recipe is a keeper so I thought I’d share as is. It’s a nice summer treat!

Ingredients:

The Cake

  • 1 yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 2 tsp orange extract
  • 1 package pistachio instant pudding
  • 1 cup water (or lemon-lime soda)

The Honey Frosting

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbs lime/lemon juice
  • 2 tbs honey
  • Pinch of salt
  • Splash of milk

Talk about easy! Take all your cake ingredients and put them in a bowl

Find your mixer and put it to work!

If you want, add some green food coloring (I didn’t have any)

Goodness gracious, this is going to take less then 5 minutes! Take a pan of your choosing and batter up (hehehe get it? Eh, maybe not). I chose to make a bundt cake, but I’d bet money these would make great cupcakes! Always a crowd pleaser

Gah! Go preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Once day you’ll remember to do this ahead of time. Hmph! Now for the frosting, which we are going to do ahead of time so as to let it set up a bit in the fridge. Cream together softened butter and honey. I may have been generous with my honey

Slowly mix in sugar and milk. Now, some people don’t like to find “odd” textures in their food. For the most part, I am not one of those people. That’s why I added both powdered and granulated sugar to my icing. But if you doubt me (and someone did just before they ate two slices), skip the granulated sugar and double the powdered sugar to two cups. No problema

Finally, mix in the rest of the ingredients. I love the tang that cream cheese brings to an icing. Since I didn’t have any cream cheese, I used citrus juice to create a similar flavor. It’s a nice, unexpected surprise. When your all done, put the icing in the fridge. Do you say icing or frosting? Is there actually a difference…

The cake is done. Let it sit for about 5 minutes before flipping it. If you remembered to grease your pan, this will be a cinch!

Ta-da! It’s like magic. What a beauty! Just admire that golden color

If you’re nervous your friends won’t like your new frosting experiment, serve it on the side. Ooh, how fancy!

To make it fancier, sprinkle chopped pistachios on top

To make it even more fancy, spread the nuts in shell around your cake like a professional! It’s all in the details. Guess they liked it

Hope you do, too! Next time, I”m going to try two packages of pistachio pudding. Just to see how it affects the flavor.

Tijuana