Sunday, February 14, 2010

January/February Random Pics!!!!

Snowshoeing at Gunstock XC Ski Area

We had alot of fun this day! Maggie was upset, she wanted to XC ski but we didn't know how Rylee would do so we decided to try it another day.
The kids had a great time and Reese liked the pulk sled we pulled her in. It was very easy to do and you had room in the sled to put your lunch, water bottles, there. I've been looking on craiglist for used skis and snowshoes. After the 1 1/2 hour drive to Gunstock I found out we have extensive XC trails in our town of Brentwood. This is due to all the conservation land, etc....

PULK SLED!!!! Would like to buy one of these but they are pretty expensive brand new and I've not found one yet that is used.

This is us at the Hampton Penguin Plunge at Hampton Beach. Matt's cousin, Krissy does the penguin plunge each year to raise money for special olympics. It was so cold just with our coats on (with the wind chill who knows what the temp was) and all the people that had raised money for the cause actually lined up in swimsuits, etc...and plunged into the cold Atlantic waters (around 30 degrees or so they said). I cannot even imagine, WOW!

Matt waiting for the parade to start before the plunge.

She looks cold!!!

Rylee's kindergarten class at Swasey takes turns writing in a journal about their class stuffed animal, Cookie. Reese liked Cookie!

Our new cat, Bradley. He doesn't care for us too much and basically lives in the basement. We put in a kittie door.

With 3 girls, can you imagine why he hangs out in the basement?

Rylee posing with Cookie in our town library. Pics to follow of the library, it is super cute!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Daring Bakers Challenge July 2009/Milan Cookie

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

I tackled the milan cookies, which were very similar to the Pepperidge Farm milan cookies. I think this version was a softer cookie, but still tasted great. Here's the recipe:

12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract• 2 tablespoons lemon extract• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour• Cookie filling, recipe follows
Cookie filling:• 1/2 cup heavy cream• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped• 1 orange, zested
1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kauai Vacation

Traditional hawaiian luau at the Smith Family Farm. We dined on kalua pig cooked in an imu (earth oven), haupia (coconut pudding), and poi (hawaiian tarot starch). Later we listened to live music and watched alot of wonderful entertainment.

Overlooking the tarot farms down in the valley. At the foot of Hanalei's misty green mountains is their most beautiful crop, taro. These heart shaped plants grow in flooded patches. Poi is made from the tarot root and is pretty bland resembling mashed potatoes. I ate it with the pork they served, it was decent.

Looks like a postcard!

Spouting horn blowhole on Kauai South shore. The poipu surf channels into a natural lava tube and releases a spout of water up to 60 feet high during large swells.

Hanalei Tarot Farms

Na'pali Coastline

Waterfalls at the end of our 8 mile hike up the Napali Coast. This water was freezing!

Princeville Resort

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Apple Streudel/May Bakers Challenge

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Apple strudel from “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbsstrudel dough (recipe below)1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)
1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.
3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.
4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.
5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.
Strudel doughfrom “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers
1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour1/8 teaspoon salt7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.
2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better).
3. It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can.Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.
4. The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it's about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time. Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mexican Turtle Cheesecake (Challenge)

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:
crust:2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar1 tsp. vanilla extract
cheesecake:3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature1 cup / 210 g sugar3 large eggs1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream1 tbsp. lemon juice1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)

DIRECTIONS:1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

My spin on things: I did the water bath alittle differently since I concluded from other sources that sometimes the water bath will leak into your crust. I put the cheesecake batter in a springform pan and then placed the springform pan into another aluminum type pan with the water bath under the middle pan. Does this make sense? Springform pan-middle pan-water bath in larger pan. This worked great with no cracks at all.

** Mexican Turtle - add a bar of melted dark chocolate (between 3 and 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves and a homemade caramel sauce (Kraft caramels website).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reese at Therapy!

All these pictures were taken at therapy. I didn't know they were going to try braces on her and the assistant came to get me and told me that Lisa wanted to show me something. When I walk in Reese had the biggest grin and was standing up (albeit with braces and a walker). She just stood there so proud. Lisa said when she first saw herself in the mirror she had said "Reese is tall". So sweet! I'm not sure what this means for her except that she is definitely getting stronger and this is something we were not sure that she would ever be able to do. Good job Reese, keep it up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Easter 2009

We were at the Colonial Hills easter egg hunt down the street from our house. The last time we went to this hunt it started snowing on us...right here in Tyler.

Rylee, Madison Murphy, & Maggie.
Maddie won the raffle in her age division and got a gift card to Target. She was super excited.

Rylee and Friends at Oak Tree. This was taken during their Easter Party. Looks like there are no girls in her class, I just didn't think to get their pictures.

Mrs. Sandy Zhiranek, Rylee, and Peyton. Mrs. Sandy is a great teacher. Rylee says she likes her because she is pretty and "is always smiling". Rylee also adores Mrs. Sandy's daughter Zoe, who is a year younger.

This year we had our playgroup at our house for the Easter party. It was alot of fun! Everyone brought food to share and we hid the eggs while the kiddos played. The weather was wonderful that day as you can see from this pic.

Rylee loved hunting eggs, she could never wait so she usually peeked...

What a great smile~