April 11, 2011
In the need of something sweet yesterday, I decided to try these Salted Chocolate and Pecan Cake Bars that were featured on Tasty Kitchen the other day. I love sweet and salty, and I had all the ingredients on hand… sort of. I only had about 3/4 cup of pecans, so I substituted the other 1/4 cup with hazelnuts. I toasted both before chopping them up and adding them to the batter. I used a mix of 1 cup semi-sweet and 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (Ghiradelli brand). I did not dust the top with powdered sugar, instead I sprinkled on some more coarse sea salt during the last 15-20 minutes of baking. These definitely needed a full 50 minutes to bake before a toothpick came out clean.
Making them a second time around, I think I would switch to 100% toasted hazelnuts – we LOVE Nutella in this house. I would also try switching the ratios of semi-sweet to dark chocolate chips, but I would defintely top with coarse salt again.
These were easy and really tasty. They reminded me of the chocolate chip cookies my mom used to make, and were a bridge between Sportsglutton’s love of soft, chewy cookies and my love of crispy, saltier cookies. Thank you Claire, at the Realistic Nutritionist for posting!
April 9, 2011
So after discussing all of the seed options for planting this year with our neighbor (we are in a duplex and share a backyard), we came to an agreement to try and grow… every single type of seed I ordered. That is about 34 different types of herbs and veggies (and no, we do not have a big backyard at all).
Armed with our decision, it was time to start the seeds. I tried a few different containers this year – cow pots (made from recycled cow manure, can be planted directly in the ground), tin cans (washed and then rinsed with a very light bleach solution to sterilize), and peat pots (made of peat which is gathered from a sensitive eco system and shipped hundreds of miles- I feel guilty about buying these and will probably never buy them again, can be planted in the ground). Approximately 30 of the plants can be started from seed inside, the rest are best planted directly outside.
Some photos of the pots and my first seedlings! The cow pots are the larger brown pots, the peat pots are smaller and connected like an egg carton, and hopefully the tin cans are obvious.
Herbs the day they were planted.
Poorly labeled herbs enjoying the sunny, 70 degree day, and the newly planted veggies
Cow pots with veggie seeds.
Cow pots and peat pots.
And, drumroll please… My first seedlings!!! This is huge for me. It means I was not (yet) responsible for their death or inability to grow :).
April 6, 2011
Sportsglutton wanted to make his delicious tuna melt the other day and wanted to buy some ciabatta bread. I stepped in and said “oh no, don’t BUY the bread, your AWESOME wife will bake you up a loaf” (plus the cost of bread can be a total rip off). I make bread often; this should be pretty much like making any other loaf, right?
Well it is easy, but no, it is not like making my regular loaf. The dough is much more wet and gooey… and you have to beat the living sh*! out of it.
Most of the recipes I found took two days, but I’m just not that patient. After a little poking around, I found this “quick” recipe for ciabatta - Jason’s Quick Coccodrillo Ciabatta Bread - at the Fresh Loaf and went from there.
The recipe worked out very well and is now in my regular bread roundup.
Some notes on the recipe:
- I would recommend using a stand mixer for this recipe – you really have to BEAT the bread “batter” which is loose and not kneadable. If you really need to work out a bicep and want to mix it by hand, make sure you have a very strong spoon and lots of time on your hands.
- After the initial mixing, I used my bread hook and turned my mixer up to 5 or about medium speed (for reference, I usually only have it set to 1 or 2 when making a regular loaf). For me, it took about 12 minutes for the dough to climb up the hook AND pull away from the bottom of the bowl.
- I forgot to flip the unbaked loaf over when I put two of the three loaves in the oven and it did not ruin those loaves. I would still try to remember to flip them next time I make it, just for a little more uniform bubble distribution.
One last photo – and a side note, I did not cut this loaf in the best place, but the air bubbles are typically larger in the loaves than seen in this photo.
Also, go check out Sportsglutton’s corn dog muffin recipe!