Challenge #3: Done and done!

The DBs strike again, this time it's a charm for me (get it, my third challenge?)

Hello?! Is this mic on?

Anyhoot, if I thought baking was fun before, this challenged sure did cement this belief into my mind, forever. This month's challenge was Lemon Meringue Pie. I've always loved this pie. It ranks right up there with apple, sweet potato, banana and SCRAWberry (from Marie Calendar's). So I was happy as heck to find out I'd finally learn how to make it.

First the crust:
(I truly prefer buying ready-made crust, but the DB Police would fine me big time, if I tried that crap!)

Next is the filling:
(It would truly help to purchase more than enough lemons, to squeeze for this recipe. I purchased 3 and was about to [fill-in the curse word here] bricks when it seemed like I didn't have enough.

Here's the meringue:
(don't you just love saying this word? Spelling it,... not so much!)

There was some discussion on our boards about the proper way to fill the crust to prevent "soggy-ness". I solved this problem, but trying to make everything all at the same time, which ended up me pouring the filling and the meringue (at the same time). No time to get soggy here!

All in all, it was great experience.

Look at the hills on this bad boy! :)

Even if I did start baking this challenge at 9:00am THIS MORNING <--- true insanity!

Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch
5 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.


Truly, truly, truly outrageous!

Ooooh, Jem!
Shizzam, do you remember this cartoon? She had some BAD ASS pink hair, didn't she!
Aw man, I loved Jem (not so much the Missfits thought - but oh well). I was watching Family Guy last night (we have all of seasons 1-3) and Peter was laying on the bed watching an episode. I almost spit out my Diet Dr Pepper when he started singing the theme song. Wow... cartoon is just not the same.

Who was the guy that like Jem?

and now back to the weather, Bob!

Dude... just as I thought, no rain today. Of course there was 'suppose' to be rain today. I planned for rain today. I cancelled all of my plans because it was going to rain today. Was there rain today? Hell-to-the-nah!

Gosdarnit, it was even pretty sunny out. No 90 degrees sunny, but a perfect fly your kite-type sunny.

Will the weatherman ever get it right? I bet $5 that they never do.


Tornado watch?!?

Ok, wait.. I live in Torrance, not Kansas!

I was talking to a neighbor about the wet weather situation, and they asked if I heard about the Tornado Watch that was issued to our city yesterday. "What?"

I just 'Google'd' it and found this.

Ok, now it's gone too far.

Enough is enough already, sheesh!

SoCal has been hit with a pretty big storm over the past couple of days. In my neck of the woods, we're expecting to get (at least) 3 more days of the "wet stuff" so the tunnel is still looking a little dark. I know that we need it, "we" being CAH-LEE-FURN-YA, because rain is something that we don't get much 'round this here parts.

I'm always conflicted because "rain" comes with such a high price. I mean, outdoor plans get cancelled (I have lots of those); automobile accidents increase, which in turns means I don't like to drive with ya'll crazy asschumps (further cancelling my "plans"); and my clothes (mostly my pants) always get wet because I don't have the wardrobe that handles it effectively.

Take for instance driving my kids to school this morning. My ONLY pair of rain boots (wait, define rain boots? These are my Timberland-like boots that I wear in the rain) were left outside yesterday because I was cleaning up around the building. Well, I didn't put them far enough back on the porch, and they were soaked this morning when I tried to slip them on. I had to put on my "All Day I Dream About Sex (<---80's shout out!) and try and stay dry. Of course my feet ended up getting all wet because 'sneakers' aren't made for puddles.

And you know what will happen next right? I'll go out and by the REAL rain boots, and it'll be 90+ degrees for the next 5 years.


Could you use some romance?

A heart for your Valentine

How about spicing up this coming V-Day with some heart-shaped treats for your sweet. Check out this blog to participate in the challenge, or to get some ideas. Posting date is between now and V-Day, so I'll see you then.

Proud "Mama" moment

I am so proud of my children. Just on an average they do things that make me proud to be a mom. Now, don't get me wrong... they also do things that make me want to scream profanity out of my car window, but I could never imagine my life without them.

Ryann had her softball evaluations this past Saturday and she ROCKED! This will be her 3rd season playing for NTGSL, and she's really coming into her own. During the evals she was: thrown 3 pop flies (she caught all 3); hit 3 ground balls (she fielded all 3); given 3 balls to throw from shortstop to 1st base (perfect throws) and she hit 3 out of the 5 balls the pitching machine shot to her. The damn machine wasn't working good and had to be adjusted to speed up the pitches.

Mommy just sat in the dugout and let her baby do her "thang"... she even knew she kicked butt. That's my girl!


My first test from the THE BOOK

I've decided to attempt to make delicious desserts at LEAST once a month. Of course this dessert doesn't include whatever my monthly challenge is from the DB, so make that at LEAST two treats for the house. After getting, and partially reading, the Cake Bible, I asked Clif to pick out the first recipe that I was going to attempt. He chose the "Golden Butter Cream Cake" and it turned out to be a nice cake.

This cake is a simple cake. It only bakes up to be 1 3/8 inches so it's a relatively short cake. Berambaum was right on when she described the crust of the cake, very buttery and flaky. The cake taste was a bit surprising though, it almost had a 'cracker-type' feel to it, it kind of dissolves in your mouth. At first bite it seemed dry, but if you took another bite it wasn't bad. You can definitely taste the butter which is why she says "if you love butter, you'll love this cake."

My opinion: next time I will frost the cake with a whipped cream topping, something light since the cake itself is light.

Apple Zeppole w/ Cinnamon Whipped Cream

So a few days back I was watching the food network (imagine that?) and the big-head Italian lady (you know who I'm talking about) made this delicious treat. They were everything she said they would be, and the whipped cream was the perfect compliment.

Recipe is HERE:

grated apple:

dough in the saucepan:

add the eggs:

add the grated apple:

scoop up the dough:

fry up the batter:

sprinkle w/sugar and serve with whipped cream:

Tip #1:
Be sure and use Granny Smith Apples for that sour contrast.
Tip #2:
Be sure and have enough oil to fry. I didn't, and the result was mini-pancakes, instead of round balls.
Tip #3:
Powdered sugar will dissolve quickly on the zeppole, if you don't eat them right away, the pretty decoration will be gone!



I now have the BIBLE

If you were to take a look at the blogs I have listed on my site, you'd notice two things right off the bat: 1 - most of my top blog sites are of my SFAMily sisters. This is a great group of women that I met during my wedding planning stage. We all live (or we all did at one point - one of us is gone away - but still in daily contact) in or around the LA area. We stretch from the 101, 210, 5, 10, 710, 110 and the 5. If you ANYTHING about SoCal you know this is a large area. If you ever needed to know anything about planning a wedding, decorations, photography, catering, CUPCAKES or simply WHERE TO EAT... you really just need to ask one of my sisters. We're a worldly bunch.

The second thing you'd notice is that the next group of blog sites (immediately after the FAM BAM) is what I believe to be some of the best bakers in the world. I say this because... I don't know any chefs, I haven't travelled too much to think differently (some are international sites, so I can say 'the world') and if the pictures of their desserts represent anything about what it tastes like... they are truly the best.

Julian is one of my all time favorites. I don't know what he does in his 9-5, but HONEY CHILE, he should be getting paid for baking and creating. He talks about a really great book that breaks down baking to a science. Think I'm playin? Here's a quote from THE CAKE BIBLE,

"Problems with cake baking usually begin at over three thousand feet. Lower air pressure causes water to boil at a lower temperature so that more evaporation takes place during baking and cakes may be dry. If too much evaporation takes place, there will not be adequate moisture to fully gelatinize the starch and set the structure..."

The author of this book wrote her masters dissertation on whether sifting affects the quality of a yellow cake. WTF? I now have, what I believe to be, two great books to bake with. Thanks Winnie and Julian.


Nothing too "big" for me this year.

My Top 5 go a little something like this:

1 - Develop a closer, more personal relationship with God.
2 - Be a better, more involved wife, mother and daughter (yes, it's possible).
3 - Believe in my abilities to do GREAT things, with my life.
4 - Take the risk of starting and continuing my own business.
5 - Hang out with family and friends more (I didn't see y'all much in '07).

My follow up 5 goes like this:

6 - Lose 8 pounds in '08 (it's a start)
7 - Take a "family" vacation (anywhere... even if it's locally)
8 - Save money
9 - Learn more about topics that interest me (baking, etc.)

BE GREAT IN '08... that's what it is all about.


Damnit, I am NOT a quitter!

Ok, so my previous post talked about me not participating in last month's DB challenge. I really was pumped up about making something I had never even heard of. I ran out a purchased all the ingredients I would need, and then I jsut became too busy during the holiday season. But who isn't? The rest of the DBers didn't let that stop them, so why am I the exception? I'm not!

So on that note, I give to you THE YULE LOG
(Click here for the recipe)

I was scaaared.

I did not participate in last month's Daring Bakers challenge. I had all these good intentions on making the log, I even talked about it at the SFAM gtg. I was even going to still make it late, but the way I'v been feeling lately, I'm just not in a mental mind state to pull it of. Maybe I'll try to do it this week, for shits & giggles sake.

Take a look here, at what it is suppose to look at. Trust me when I tell you that mine will not come out looking this good.

Uh oh, I was shopping at Michael's

Ok, so it's not the smartest thing for someone to let me loose inside Michael's. I swear that I can find "something that I need" each and every time I'm in that store. Like this handy dandy 'chocolate melter thingy'. Oh yeah, it may sound funny now, but when Clif and the gang (those would be my next door neighbors) got a taste of these homemade truffles that I made... they were very happy that I got it.

White Truffles:
2 tbsp heavy cream
7 oz white chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp Irish cream liquor
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz bittersweet or dark chocolate

Place cream in 'handy dandy machine' until hot. Add white chocolate. Stir frequently until smooth. Whisk in vanilla and liquor. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Chocolate will be firm and easy to scoop.

Meanwhile, place bittersweet or dark chocolate, inside your 'handy dandy machine' and melt until smooth.

Using a cookie scooper, scoop out the chocolate and roll into balls on parchment paper. Drizzle dark chocolate over the top of the truffles and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

Royal Icing

I seriously think this frosting/icing earned it's name because it is a ROYAL pain in the a** to make. Now, maybe I'm doing something wrong for following the recipe to a "T", but if in the side notes it would have said to add a little bit of water to help with the mixing process, I would have an entirely different view of this beast.

Royal (stiff) icing is what's used in order to 'pipe' a border around cookies. It helps to keep your Royal (loose) icing on the cookie after you flood the top of the cookie. Am I losing anyone?

So, I recieved a great gift at the SFAM Holiday Hoorah this year. Winnie gave me this book which I have been wanting for almost 6 months now. Inside the book it talks about the proper way to frost the top of a cookie.

Basically you use royal icing to pipe a border around the cookie. You then use a loose royal icing to flood the top of the cookie and then use a toothpick to kind of guide the loose icing all over the top of the cookie. The stiff icing holds everything in place and allows the top of your cookie to look "almost" perfectly frosted.

Royal Icing Recipe:
3 Pasteurized egg whites
4 1/2 cups Sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp Lemon juice

With an electric mixer (with paddle attachment) beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add in sugar (1/2 cup at a time). Scrap down bowl. Add in lemon juice and beat for about 6-8 minutes.
Use immediately or refrigerate. Icing should be at room temperature before use.

Loose Royal Icing, is just royal icing thinned out with water. It should have a runny consistency.

I almost forgot...

Happy New Years!

I hope 2008 is great for all those that read this blog, and for all of those who don't (but how would you know that this is my wish for you?)

May all of your dreams begin to come true, and I pray for countless blessings for all.

Oh my, how time flies!

Wow, it's been a little while since my last post. My intentions then were to fully catch you up on all the things that have been happening, all the sweets I've cooked, etc, etc. Why I ended up doing was loading a bunch of photos, cut and crop "some" them, write a brief summary about those that made the cut, and then get too tired to finish. I apologize, this holiday season did a number on me.

I know that most of you can relate, but I've just been really busy. The holidays tend to take a lot out of me, and recovering from them is just as time consuming. Lately I've been trying to hang low, and not do too much on the pc. Even tonight (this morning) as I'm writing this, I really just want to lie down and finish watching the food network (<--- I love this channel).

Clif is out of town on business. He had to go to stupid-dumb Tulsa,OK for the weekend because some stupid-dumb contractor didn't want to do their job during normal business hours/days (asschumps). Anyhoot, me and Chris have just been hanging low, messing up the house. He's asleep (for now), but now I feel all alone.

Aw, now I just want to eat a pint of ice cream, and 1/2 dozen chocolate chip cookies.