This is my cookcabulary


Bowden Thanksgiving

As promised, I have lots of pictures to share from Thanksgiving at my parents house!

..and I did end up “making” something.  I think I mentioned I bought cookie dough from my little neighbor next door, yup – that box of sugar came in handy.  I made about 2 dozen Mint Double Chocolate cookies, they were gooooood. 

There were a lot of reasons for me to enjoy Thanksgiving this year, but a big one was that my Aunt and Uncle from Detroit were going to be spending the day with us! Which meant I got to see my cousin! Last time I saw him was at my wedding 2.5 years ago, and that was not quality time, and before that it had been a year at my brother’s wedding.  In any event, the kid is so cute!  He would die if he saw I was writing about him, but it was so nice to see him all grown up! I am sure he is so tired of hearing all about that! He’s 15 now, made the basketball team at school, is almost as tall as me (actually, he might be) and he has a gf! ooooo! Ha.  And the kid can text.  You think your fast – no way.  FastfingerDrew over hear has got you BEAT! Anyway, my point was that it was so nice to spend the day with my family that I truly love – it was such a great night of playing rock band and stuffing our faces!

I started out helping mom in the kitchen! She was a trooper and let me take pics of everything, and even took a few herself.  Here I am helping to perfect the gravy.

Fun fact about my mom: she plans the meal. I mean PLANS! She has a menu, and it corresponds to what bowl the food goes in.  She even sets the table beforehand with the serving-ware.  There is no room for confusion in this kitchen, I love it !

The time was getting close – the potatoes were mashed, the turkey and ham were done. Final preparations for the bread, veggies and salad were to begin …

It was time to get all the food in it appropriate dish!

..and dish up a HEAPING serving of everything.  Let the game begin!

Do you see the Turkey shaped butter? Ha – so cute! 

The food was fantastic! All of it! We had so much fun, passing the bread, making fun of how much food Drew got, laughing at Aurora, telling old stories – all while Sam and I consumed the entire bottle of Martinelli’s sparking cider.  It wasn’t on purpose, we just never passed it around :) good think we bought 4 to bring for the evening, haha.

After we ate and had some quite conversation over coffee and Sam took a nap, we got out rock band.  2 guitars. 1 drummer. 1 singer.  We had “the whole band” as Kimball put it. From there the night just got hilarious. Aurora got on the mic, mom tried to tambourine by clapping her hip and not the mic, batteries died due to excessive playing, and good times were just had by all. It was great.

 *video not uploading, will try again later – maybe* 

I think Aurora can sum up the night in one face …

Ha, she got de-lirious being up 3 hours passed her bedtime! So worth it though.

So I hope everyone else had a great Thanksgiving! I know I am so blessed to have an amazing family, awesome husband, adorable niece, and readers who care (even if it’s a little bit) enough to read my blog.

 

 

*Don’t forget to leave any comments or suggestions of foods you would like to see me attempt! You can comment on the blog or email me @ cookcabularyofalexis@hotmail.com*

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Italian Salad

It’s Black Friday! Woo. Which really means nothing to me.  Although Sam got up at 3:00 to go find “the perfect deal”.  I just don’t see the sense in waiting in those lines … ok I do see the sense, I will just admit I don’t have the patience.  I prefer staying home and puting up Christmas decorations! Yay.  But today we are actually going to my parents house for Thanksgiving – we had the Ray Thanksgiving last night.

When I get to my mom and dad’s house I will be taking tons of pictures of the food – show you guys the awesomeness that is my mom, and why I know what I know! Last year I made a delicious Chestnut Sausage stuffing form William Sonoma, but this year – not making anything.  I asked mom if she needed help but she had it covered, unless I just HAD to bring something.  Which normally I would’ve, but this week was crazy with work, and I never made it to the grocery store and I didn’t think I could manage finding ingredients today. So, I know some of you are surprised – but I didn’t do anything for Thanksgiving! Ca-razy – I know.  

Anyway, the other weekend we had our infamous girls night! I love girls nights, Me, Katy and all my favorite Ashley’s in one room with food – I LOVE it! Before we made breakfast for dinner, but this go-around we just made good food! I decided to make an italian salad since we were having meatballs and mac-n-cheese.  So, here goes it!

The recipe is simple – lots of veggies:

  • 1 c evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 2/3 cup terragon vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (8oz.) can artichoke hears, drained and quartered
  • 1-2 heads of romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried, and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4c black olives
  • 2 celery stalks
  • salami
  • cherry tomatoes
  • romano cheese
  • mozzarella cheese
  • ground pepper to taste

We start with the dressing.  This recipe actually makes double, so feel free to cut the dressing ingredients in half, however, i just love this dressing and doubling it makes me feel better. :)

In a medium bowl with a lid, mix oil, tarragon vinegar (yum!), sugar, thyme, dry mustard, and garlic.  Cover, and shake until well blended.  Place artichoke hearts in mixture, cover, and marinade in fridge 3 hours, or overnight.

Now the chopping begins, get ready, because there is A LOT! In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients!

now the red pepper, and carrots:

…onion,

…celery and salami,

then the tomatoes, and cheeses.  Use more mozzarella more than the romano. I’d say about 1 cup mozz, and 1/2+ cup romano…its really however much cheese you want though.

I pre-made this salad in the morning, so I just let the veggies sit in the fridge while the dressing was marinating.  Then, when I got to A.Adam’s house, I poured the dressing on the top and gave it all a good toss!

…and of course, I didn’t take any pictures of the final product served.  I was way too pumped to talk about Katy’s pregnancy and the movie we were about to watch.

So, as long as you’ve got some time to kill chopping – this is a really simple dish you can pre-make way ahead of time.  Enjoy!

 


Bachelor Meal – Cheese and Meat?

…wrapped in a delicious quesadilla!

Since this is a Bach. meal, I will keep the post short and sweet.  I wouldn’t want to extend your already short attention span.

Sorry, that was rude.  But I know boys don’t want to listen to me babble about my cute cat and how the cheese smelled and what the flowers looked like and how I don’t feel like the red color of my couch matched the painting on the wall but theres nothing I can do about it b/c we arent buying new furniture until our next house …. whoa. See? Babble.

You men just want the fooood! So on with it.

I was making lunch last weekend, well actually Sam was first. He made himself a GF quesadilla and then I made mine and when I was done – I was like waitaminute! This could so be a bach meal! It took me literally 5 minutes to make!

So,  ingredients men:

1 quesadilla for a half serving, or 2 for full

lots of your favorite cheese

meat of choice (i used salami)

pickles

aaaaand, if youre feeling spicy … add some banana peppers, or onion, or bbq sauce, or moo-tard (that lex for mustard).

Spray hot skillet with Pam (this creates a nice brown crust) and lay tortilla wrap on skillet.  Then, layer your fillings making sure cheese is on top and bottom so there is something to adhere this man-meat-sandwich together.

Oh, one time I added an egg sunny side up to this – yum!

Just let it grill a few moments.

Cut into bite size treats, or devour whole – your preference.

I added some fruit and whole grain to my dish :) You may do with, or without…but what would your mother say if she knew you were only eating protein and nothing else? Get some fruit into the mix boys, food pyramid!!

Voila!

 I love when you can see each layer of what your taste buds are about to experience.  Amps me up for the meal! Woo!

Enjoy my boys.


Pumpkin Pie Oh My!

Last week Sam needed a pumpkin pie for the pie pitch in at his work.  I feel like every other week that boy needs something for work.  Every month they do a pitch-in to celebrate birthdays but it really feels like he always needs something, and last-minute.  And of course, I would never allow him to go to the store and just pick something up – I need to make it.  Those boys in his department need some good ‘ol home baking in their bellies.  It’s only right! Ha.

Ok, so pumpkin pie.  Let me start with this story.

I had decided the night before that since one Libby’s pumpkin mix was enough to make two pies, I would make one pie for Sam, and lots of mini pumpkin pies for work – to then give to a client.  On the way home form work, I go to the store and get a couple key items I need to make the pies and purchase a cute little mini muffin pan at Home Good.  (such a great stop for cheap items, I love it!!) Well, I get home from all of this and I realize, by reading the label, I don’t have enough evaporated milk.  So,  like the awesome husband he is, I sent Sam to the store (I had already gone, so he was willing to go).  And, at this point, I wanted a back-up pumpkin can so as to have stock, so I told him to grab another Libby’s can. 

He returns and as I start to line up all my ingredients, as I usually do, I read the label on the can of Libby’s he bought to make sure I have everything.  And I am immediately confused.  This can called for almost half the evaporated milk as the other can did.  Weird I thought.  I look at both the Libby’s cans closer and realize Sam accidently got the “Easy” recipe.  All the spices are already added in for you.   Which, is so not what I wanted.  I would’ve just made a pie from a box (if that were possible) if that were the case.  Call me a from-scratch-snob, but there is no joy in cooking or baking for me if most of the work is done for you when I actually WANT to do the work.  I’m weird, I really enjoy the tough labor of it all.

At this point, I still don’t have enough evaporated milk to make both Sam’s pie and the mini pies … and 3 trips to the grocery store is just annoying.  So, here comes the mom call – I always call mom when I get confused (which is often, ha!).  We agree that I have enough ingredients to make one pie, so a half recipe – but I had promised my boss I would bring mini pies for her. So, we decided to just use regular milk.  I ended up being maybe a 1/3 cup short on evaporated milk, so the different was regular milk.  And … I don’t think it made too much of a difference in the end.

SOOOOO … long introduction, but these pies are truly made with love! I was up late drizzling chocolate on the mini’s!

Ok, first we start with our crust.  Sam loves Pamela’s Bread mix, and it just so happens they have a crust recipe that we had used before that we liked! So, for the crust – gluten-free ….

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Easy Pie Crust (I used a half recipe since I only wanted one pie)

1 bag Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix (do not use the yeast packet)
2 sticks (16 TBSP) unsalted butter, chilled
7 to 8 TBSP ice cold water

Yield: two, 9-inch pie crusts

In bowl, cut butter and shortening into Pamela’s Gluten-Free Bread Mix with two knives until small pea sized pieces form.

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Why am I using two different knives, I have absolutely NO idea! I think I was cutting the cold butter with the steak knife. Oh well.

Slowly add water until dough comes together, not sticky. Add 1 teaspoon additional water if dough is too dry. Hint: Use ice cubes to chill water.  I used my skull and cross-bones ice cubes that my lovely friend bought me on my birthday!

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This is how the dough should look, not sticky but not dry.  As you are mixing the water in, you will start to feel the dough come together in a ball and shy away from sticking to the outer edges of your bowl.  This is how you know it has enough moisture.

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Do not over handle dough either, we’ve had this discussion before remember? Roll out half the dough (or in this case all of it, since I did half a recipe) between two sheets of parchment or wax paper. Peel off top paper and invert into a lightly greased pie dish. Peel off second sheet and fix crust edge. Bake unfilled crust in a 350° oven on bottom rack for 35 to 40 minutes. Or, bake filled with your favorite filling by following pie recipe directions. Dough can be frozen for later use, wrap in plastic and freeze. But make sure it is completely thawed.  Before I rolled out my dough, I stuck it in the freezer to chill out for a bit.  The butter had become room temperature at this point and this can just cause a sticky greasy mess! 

For the filling, just follow the recipe on the back of Libby’s Pumpkin mix! Here is a picture of it in case you are curious, and the infamous evaporated milk!

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and, here are my dry ingredients.  The perfect blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves – and of course sugar!

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Mix this with your pumpkin and evaporated milk, and you’ve got your filling!

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Pour this into your pie crust, bake, and voila! For some reason, I stopped taking pictures at this point until I made the mini’s.  But – check on your pie at the minimum time allotted on the recipe.  Use a bitter knife and insert it directly into the middle of the pie, if it comes out clean – its finished! However, if the pie still looks jigg-ly, like jello, it’s not done.  Give it a few more minutes, and check again with the knife.

Now on to the minis.  In the essence of time, and length of this blog. I will give you the condensed version.

I used this dough from the food network:

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

 1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (I didnt have this, so I used allllll butter baby!!)

5 tablespoons ice water, or as needed

And I tried Bakerella’s recipe for the filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

And here are pics of me in the process of it all! We begin with the pie crust (so it can chill in the freezer while I make the filling)

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Now for the filling! :)
 

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Now we get the dough from the freezer and roll it out – make sure to sprinkle that counter AND roller!  No need for wax paper this time, your counter works fine.

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Then find something small enough to cut out the perfect little circles.  Were using a mini muffin pan, so just look around the kitchen.  I ended up using the cap from my little hand help food-processor thingy. A cup would work perfect, but all of mine were too small.  Then, just drop them into the mini-muffin pan just like you would a pie pan.  Had I though about it, I would have smoothed the edges down – but it was nearing midnight and details like that were not important at the time.  However, looking at the pictures now, and how they turned out – I would recommend it.  Feel free to add little pieces for pumpkin stems!

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I then spooned in the filling and baked them for about 7-10 minutes.  While the last batch is baking, you can melt some chocolate to drizzle on top.  I am LOVING this melting chocolate thing, I might be obsessed.

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They are so cute and tiny! The perfect bite size treat!

You can drizzle chocolate on them all, or leave some plain.

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And there we have it – total pumpkin overload.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake – yum.

Last weekend we had Sam’s family over for his mom’s birthday. Then, the following night – we headed to our friend’s house for a riveting game night for Halloween.  Which only meant one thing – I needed to make something that would work for both nights.

And by the way, I need to tell you about game night.  We headed over to Katy and Sean’s house and since I couldn’t find our favorite game (Catch Phrase) I brought Yahtzee.  Which to be honest, I have no idea how to play.  We got it as a wedding present and haven’t played it yet.  In any event, we played one round of Apples to Apples, which was good.  But then we play Mad-Gab. Oh man, our teams were boys against girls and that … was a bad idea.  Somehow the boys kicked our butts! They were able to sounds those cards out so well and just keep moving through them.  Our team, the girls (obviously) would try to sound them out, yell and shout, guess awkward answers and just generally freak out.  We were awful.  Or I should say I was awful.  But towards the end of the game, when there was no chance of us winning I realized that girls can’t play this game as a woman would.  There’s no time to think about the answer and sounds it out slowly…you just need to say it fast, and spit out your answer! And when I realized this, it was on.  I was rolling through those cards towards the end.  But, no one seems to remember that – they just remember by how much the girls lost. Ha.  But next time – next time we’ll show them!!

Back to baking! So I needed something that would last for both nights.  I had seen a recipe online with brownie mix and cookie dough, and I attempted the same thing! I had a left over box of cake mix and a can of frosting. 

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So all I had to do was make the cookie dough, which was super easy.  I used a simple recipe out of one of my cookbooks

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And, like I usually do, I was baking late and didn’t want to run to the store to get extra ingredients. 2-1/2 cups of flour is a lot, and I was a little worried. This is all I had

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    Doesn’t look like much does it? Well, I barely made it! I put 2-1/2 cups in my bowl and this is all I had left:
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Coast is clear – time to keep on baking!

And first things first – I love using my crate and barrel mini-bowls! They are PERFECT for baking!

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We begin with dropping our butter into the mixer, (which should be at room temperature, not fresh out of the fridge).  Let it get nice and creamy.  (The recipe calls for 1/2 cup shortening and 1/2 cup butter, but I used all butter, totally acceptable!)

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Then I added my sugars and baking soda

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When that gets combined, add in your eggs, incorporate them – then dry ingredients.  Oh, eggs at room temperature too!! You need to set them out a good hour or so before you start baking. Trust me, it makes a difference.  Then, tap in your remaining dry ingredients into the mixer.  Don’t forget to give the bowl a good scrape to get everything off of the sides.  (*Note, I completely forgot to scrape edges, which it totally weird for me, so – my apologies for telling you to do something and not doing it myself!)

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*Chocolate chip note: I didn’t have any morsels, just left over chocolate from a previous recipe – so I just chopped them up into perfect little morsels myself!

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Time for some chocolate cake.

Basically just dump the mix into a bow, add eggs, oil, and water!

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Beat ingredients with a hand held mixer for a good 3 minutes.  Make sure there are no lumps and everything looks nice and smoooooth.

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I then poured the cake batter into a 9×13 pan, which I did spray with a little Pam. Then the fun part! Scoop up the chocolate chip cookie dough and “plop” it randomly into the batter.  When you’re finished, you may lick the bowl.  Actually, you can lick both bowls now!

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Getting excited?! Oooh yea, I know I was!

Then we pop it in the oven, and I believe I just followed the directions on the cake box.  It was probably 350 for about 23 minutes or so.  Same rule applies here – poke cake with toothpick and when it comes out with small crumbs, youre done!

It smelled so good, Kimoni wanted in on the action!

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When the cake has cooled, spread your frosting. 

I had some leftover cookie dough, so I baked a giant cookie while everything was cooling, and my intention was to totally eat it – but then I had an idea.  My cookie cake needs a topping.  So I crumbled the cookie on top of the cake, and with left over chocolate, drizzled it right onto the bad boy! Oh man, I could NOT wait to eat it!

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It tasted as good as it looked. And warning – not a good snack for diet-ers. Ha!

But, I noticed something almost immeadiatly…the cookie dough sunk to the bottom of my cake. And, I know why – cake mix.  I’m pretty sure the density the brownies have allow for more support – as in, they dough and batter would have been evenly distributed.  Cake batter is so thin that when the dough melted it just sank to the bottom. This didn’t affect the taste, but – aesthetically, it wasn’t the looks I was going for.  Next time – brownies will be my base. 

 

 


A gluten free experiment

So the other weekend I had bought those cook books on sale right? And when I got home, one of the books had gluten-free recipes in the back, do you remember this? Well, I found a little recipe that I thought Sam would enjoy! Carmel Corn Flake bars.

This particular recipe called for GL Flour Mix.  Well it just so happens I was fresh out!

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But thanks to www.celiac.com I was able to log on and use their flour recipe.  You see, you can’t just substitute 2 cups regular flour for 2 cups brown rice flour, or whatever gluten-free flour you have. Sometimes its a combination of 4-6 types of flours, and sometimes it is just brown rice.  But it’s never an equal substitute of regular flour. And it’s always an experiment for me! You truly never know how it is going to turn out.  So, with this recipe, I thought I would give it a go.

Makes 12 – Pre heat oven to 375 F and proceed to line a shallow cake tin/dish/whatever you have on hand with baking parchment or wax paper.  (Allow paper to be wider than the tin so you can lift the finished product at the end).

Crust:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups Gluten Free Flour
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the topping:

  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 6 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 cup cornflakes
  • option – confectioners’ sugar

We start by making the crust.  Melt butter in a pan, then remove from heat.  Combine sugar and flour in bowl and add beaten egg and melted butter and mix well.

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The mixture is not going to be like most traditional crusts you’ve made.  It’s more gritty and crumbly.  This recipe worked well in the fact that you didn’t have to add water until it was the appropriate consistency, so just follow the recipe and you’ll be fine.  When everything is combined, press firmly into your baking dish.

A hint I have: when using GF flour – thinner equals better. Which is REALLY hard for me.  I love nothing more than biting into something with crust, and the crust being thick and flaky and wonderfully butter-tasting.  But that is not the case with GF crust.  It cooks entirely different and the flavors are so unique, you really want to thin it out.  Otherwise it can come out cooked uneven and have the consistency of a yeast roll.  Which is just really awkward and disappointing. So – thin is in with the GF.

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Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown – and I like to hear a nice sizzle! :)

For the topping, heat syrup, condensed milk and butter over low heat for about 10-15 minutes.  Stir it occasionally and let it thicken up.  Be careful not to burn your milk! I have done this before and its AWFUL!  Keep the heat low and be verrry verrry patient.  Love your carmel sauce, work with it…

While that is heating, I took my cornflakes and smashed the crud out of them.  Ok, not really that much – but if you need to vent any built up frustration, this is a good point in the recipe for you.  I figured the corn flakes would go farther and feel better to bite into if they were smaller.  I didn’t smash them into super tiny pieces, I just squeezed and broke the flakes up a little bit.

When your sauce is ready, remove from heat and stir in the sour cream.  At this point your crust should be out of the oven, and you are ready to pour your sauce alllll over it!

My camera was not working with me on these steps (or I just didn’t know what I was doing.  Let’s be honest – I love photography, but my little Fuji Film just aint cuttin’ it!)

When you pour your sauce, sprinkle with the corn flakes and add the confectioners’ sugar if you so desire. And bada-boom – your done! Now, leave it to sit for a bit! Don’t go cutting into it right away.  That sauce needs to chill out.

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There we have it kiddo-s!

So, how did it taste you ask … a little “meh” for my liking…

I know! I’m disappointed! The cornflake and carmel-y sauce were an awesome combination, I really enjoyed the topping.  But both Sam and I agreed the crust was … too thick. Which is why I need to reiterate to make it thin.  Sometime i get excited and think I can make a nice thick GF crust, and I just cant.  Not with that recipe (from Celiac.com).  The GF Flour I used calls for a lot of brown rice flour and the rice was such a prevalent flavor that it was really all you could taste.  So, Sam and I just picked at the topping for a couple days; seeing as this baked good was not a treat to be brought into work!

But don’t you worry.  I made a pumpkin pie for Sam, for his work pie pitch in – with a GF crust – and it was amazing.  The crust was awesome. But that blog will be tomorrow. It’s my time to decompress, watch So You Think You Can Dance on my DVR, and cuddle with my man, Kimoni. Ha.

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