Sally’s Baking Addiction: November, 2019 Challenge: Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie 🥧

Well, it finally happened! It is December 6th and I am just now posting about a baking challenge that happened last month 😳 I am not sure why I let this go so long! I have not been motivated to post lately. I know many of us bloggers go through this from time to time, I guess it’s my turn now.

November is host to the most food centric holiday in the US, of course I am referring to Thanksgiving 🦃 🥧👩🏻‍🍳 and Sally did not disappoint with her challenge this year. Her Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pie combines two Thanksgiving favs, pecan and pumpkin pie.

IMG_1680

I admit, I am not a big pie fan to begin with, but I do want to be able to bake pies for the ones I love. What is great about this combination is that there is the crunch of the praline pecan topping, which is offset by the smooth creamy pumpkin component. While I still do not like each pie separately, I really did enjoy the hybrid results 😋

I was really pressed for time this year, and did most of my baking concurrently, which is a long way of saying that I didn’t take a lot of production pictures! In fact, the only real pictures I have were taken by my friend Joan. Joan has Celiac’s and asked me to make a couple traditional pie crusts, so she could take regular pies to her Thanksgiving dinner. She snapped a couple shots of me rolling out dough.

This is Sally’s favorite pie crust, and I recommend it! I did not know Joan was taking pics!!

The pumpkin custard was added and baked for about 30 minutes at 375F. Then the pecan praline topping was added and baked for the final 15 minutes.

IMG_1647 copy

This was one of two pies I made for our dinner, the other was an apple pie with cinnamon roll crust.

IMG_1646 copy

I decided to garnish with maple whipped cream and Dulce de Leche Macarons.

I found this recipe on Pinterest

IMG_1642

This was my first time baking Macarons, I will get a bigger tip next time 😉

IMG_1679

 

IMG_1681

 

IMG_1677 copy

And off to my brother in laws for dinner!

IMG_1696

 

IMG_1795

 

IMG_1693

My oldest nephew, Nicholas, photo bombing me!

We ate, drank and had a great time! I hope all my American friends enjoyed their time with family and friends as well ❤️

I will try to do a better job of posting in the future🤞

 

Sally’s Baking Addiction: October, 2019 Challenge: Homemade Caramel Apples 🍎

IMG_0253

It’s October, the month of Pumpkin spice 🎃, Halloween 👻 and falling leaves  🍁

It’s also time for another baking challenge from Sally’s Baking Addiction, and she set us the task of making homemade caramel apples.🍏

This turned out to be quite easy, and the best part is this caramel sauce, which is great on EVERYTHING 😋

To make the caramel sauce: First add the heavy cream, light corn syrup, brown sugar, butter and salt in a heavy bottom sauce pan

IMG_0239

Stir over medium high heat until all the components are mixed and the butter is melted

IMG_0242

At this point stop stirring, insert a candy thermometer and heat until 235F. The caramel will bubble up the sides of the pot, using a pastry brush and cold water, brush down the sides of the pot, every so often, to prevent sugar crystals from forming in the sauce.

It can take a bit for the caramel to get to 235F (also known as the soft ball stage) so be patient! Don’t walk away or turn up the heat.

The following images are the progression of the sauce as it made its way to 235F

IMG_0243

 

IMG_0244

 

IMG_0245

 

IMG_0246

 

IMG_0247

 

IMG_0248

It is ready!

While the sauce cooled and thickened, the apples were prepped. For me, this was the hard part😂 Getting those sticks in the apples was a little harder than I thought it would be!

Apples purchased in the store usually have a wax coating which needs to be removed to help the caramel stick to the surface. Even so, after they were washed, scrubbed and dried, there were still slippage issues! I ended up double dipping them in the sauce.

IMG_0249

Cleaned and scrubbed

 

IMG_0250

I finally got the sticks in 🍏🍎🍏

Time to dip!

IMG_0253

 

IMG_0252

 

IMG_0256

This is a pretty messy process, so I made sure to wear one of the aprons sent to me by my blog buddies!!

IMG_0257

Check out their fabulous designs in their online shop, Fashioned by Nature!

 

38CADB51-6579-456A-804B-26B4F03B0DA5

This was the end of the challenge, and the apples tasted pretty great. But, I decided to go another step further and dip them in chocolate 🍫

IMG_0263

 

IMG_0259

This was messy but quite tasty😋

Looking forward to the holidays and whatever Sally has in store for us!!!

Weigh To Be Healthy! Support Group

Looking for a fun group of women to get healthy with??
These ladies are ready to welcome you 😊 They are dedicated to getting healthy and supporting one another❤️

Everyone Else Has the Best Titles

My guess is that you think being healthy means getting to your goal weigh.  Am I right?  How many times have you done that and then regained it all and realized you were no better off than you were before?  Or worse!

I was always a fat kid.  I always thought I was a failure because I could never keep the weight off.  I told myself it must be genetic.  Believe it or not, I recently had my DNA done, and I really do have a genetic disposition toward weight gain!  I was also on an epilepsy drug that made me gain 50 pounds in six months!  “There!  See!? It’s my DNA and the drugs.  It’s not my fault!!!”

I could have given myself those very valid excuses to justify being overweight. I could refute the words of my neurologist:  “You just have to eat less.”  I had proof that…

View original post 268 more words

The Better Liar, by Tanen Jones: Book Review📚

book cover

4.5/5

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers

Description

Leslie Flores is a woman like many others living in a nice suburban neighborhood, with her husband and one year-old little boy. She has spent the past year working, taking care of her family and caring for her dying father. Her sister, Robin, has long since exited the family. But, upon her father’s passing, she learns that her inheritance is dependent on finding and reuniting with her lost sister. Leslie has to find Robin to get the money she desperately needs to secure her future, but when she tracks down Robin, it’s too late. Robin is dead from a heroin overdose. No one has seen Robin for 10 years, so when Leslie has a random encounter with a young woman, with a strong resemblance to her lost sister, she strikes a bargain with this stranger. Pretend to be Robin for a week and receive half the money, it’s that easy.

It doesn’t take long for both women to realize that that other is not what they seem. Each has secrets that will alter the future, and the past.

 

The Better Liar is the debut novel from Tanen Jones, and I was shocked when I realized this fact. Jones is masterful in her ability to draw the reader into the character’s stories.  I actually felt like I was in the room with these women, could smell the smoke from the cigarettes, and could not put the book down. Jones writes as if this was her fiftieth novel, not her first! I was genuinely surprised by the ending, and I love it when an author can do that😊

I highly recommend The Better Liar, by Tanen Jones

Sally’s Baking Addiction: September, 2019 Challenge: Homemade Cheese Bread

bread

Well, this is different! I usually do not post my baking challenge experience until the last day of the month 😂 But this September is a little special. We are leaving soon for Greece 🇬🇷 ! We won’t be back until the first week in October, so I had to be a little faster with my baking this month!

Fortunately, this was a bread challenge, and aligned well with our family, the cooler weather and the Seahawks home opener🏈

Sally’s version of this homemade cheese bread is extra soft, as it is an enriched dough, made with buttermilk, egg and butter (and lots of cheese🧀).

The first step was to mix warm buttermilk, warm water, sugar and instant yeast.

IMG_9067

This was left for 5 minutes to activate the instant yeast, then 1 cup of bread flour was added, along with the butter, egg and salt. Sally used garlic powder in her recipe but I did not since I was paring this with chicken chili for dinner 😋

IMG_9068

The rest of the bread flour went into the mixing bowl, which was fitted with a dough hook.

IMG_9070

I let the mixer do the work of kneading the dough. I do have to say that this was a wonderful bread dough to work with😊 It was soft and pliable and came together easily!

IMG_9071

I formed it into a ball and placed it in a greased bowl so it could prove. It needed to double in size, which took almost two hours in my cool, Fall kitchen.

IMG_9073

Before proving

 

IMG_9075

Tucked in for the 2 hour rest

The dough was punched down, and rolled into a 9 X 15 inch rectangle

And this is where the cheese come into play 🧀 2 cups total! I chose to use sharp, white cheddar and smoked cheddar (1 cup each).

 

IMG_9076

 

IMG_9078

The cheese was pressed into the rectangle

IMG_9081

This was where the processes gets messy! Starting with the long side, the dough is rolled into a log

FullSizeRender-3

If you have ever made a babka loaf, then you are familiar with this part. I have blogged about this before here. The log is cut, longitudinally and then wrapped around itself.

I needed both my hands for this, so I was not able to take my own pics. But, fortunately Sally had some great shots of this process!

chese-bread-step-photos

From Sally’s Baking Addiction Site

Here is how mine looked

IMG_9084

The loaf was placed into a greased 9 X 5 inch loaf pan and left to prove for a second time.

IMG_9085

The loaf was brushed with melted butter and chopped parsley.

bread

IMG_9089

And into a 350F oven for 50 minutes

IMG_9091

Very easy! And, more importantly, delicious 😍

IMG_9096

 

IMG_9098

And it went great with the chicken chili that night!

IMG_9109

Another excellent Sally recipe 👩🏻‍🍳

Sally’s Baking Addiction: August, 2019 Challenge: Lemon🍋 and Blueberry Vertical Cake👩🏻‍🍳

IMG_8760

This August Sally presented us with a rather unique challenge. A vertical cake, where the layers are standing on end, instead of horizontal.  I had never heard of such a thing, much less attempted such a creation.

This challenge was more about the process than the end product, which is great because my cake was not one of my best looking 😂

IMG_8790

See what I mean?

But let me tell you how to make it, and then you can fix my mistakes!!

Ultimately, this is a roll cake. I have blogged about these before here, and I am forturnate in that I am comfortable making this type of sponge cake (it did make this an easier challenge for me).

The first thing was to make sure this cake will come out of the pan! A full sheet pan needs to be greased, parchment paper added, greased again and finally, a layer of flour was sifted over everything.

IMG_8711

The next critical step was to make sure there was plenty of volume in the eggs (which is the only leveling in this cake).

IMG_8712

The eggs were whipped until light and voluminous.

IMG_8718

Sugar, oil and vanilla were mixed in

IMG_8716 copy

Then the flour, salt and baking powder was sifted over the mixture and, gently folded in, to maintain the air in the batter.

IMG_8721

 

IMG_8722

The batter was added to the pan, spread out and the air bubbles tapped out by gently banging the pan on the counter.

It is important to have the next step prepared before the cake is done baking. The cake bakes for ~ 12 minutes in a 350 F oven. It must be turned out onto a towel or parchment paper that has been generously dusted with confection sugar.

IMG_8726

The warm cake was turned out onto the dusted surface and immediately rolled up to cool

IMG_8728

The second element that had to be made in advance, so it had time to cool completely, was the blueberry sauce.

This is straight forward in that the blueberries, sugar, and lemon are cooked for a few minutes, then a cornstarch slurry was added to thicken the sauce

IMG_8735

This, along with the rolled cake, are left in the fridge to set up overnight

The next day, both were left out on the counter to come to room temp, while the whipped cream was made. 1 and 1/2 cup of heavy cream was whipped with some sugar and vanilla. Then the  blueberry sauce was gently folded in

IMG_8754

 

 

IMG_8755

I didn’t want the filling to be completely mixed together, so I left it swirled

IMG_8756

The sheet cake had to be unrolled and cut into three equallish pieces!

IMG_8757

The blueberry whipped cream was spread over the slices

IMG_8759

And now it is time to get this cake vertical! The first strip is rolled and aligned with the bottom of the next strip, and the rolling continues. Of course Sally has a great video showing how to do this!

IMG_8760

After the last strip was lined up and all three strips were connected, the cake is set on end

IMG_8761

And placed on a stand, which has to be refrigerated to set before it can be frosted

IMG_8762

The view from the top

IMG_8779

You can see that this is not perfectly round, to say the least,😂

The final step is to make the cream cheese frosting 😋

IMG_8781

I struggled to get this to be smooth, when I frosted it. I colored some of the frosting yellow, since the frosting and cake had lemon in them, and piled some blueberries on top

Oh well! It tasted much better than it looked!

8792

And yes, the layers were vertical!!

Untitled

 

IMG_8799

The best part of this was the cake! I really liked how easy it was to mix and bake. It rolled beautifully and had a delicious lemon flavor. The frosting was tasty too😍 I was less in love with the filling but that may be due to the fact that I am not a whipped cream lover😉

 

I am hoping to get the September challenge done in the first half of the month, as we will be traveling the second half and into October💕

 

Jay Has Done It Again!!Book Cover Reveal📚

thumbnail_Haunted-House-Ghost-Main-File

Jay has written the fifth book in the Braxton Campus Mysteries Series!! I can’t wait to get mine😍

It’s Halloween, and excitement is brewing in Braxton to carve jack-o’-lanterns, go on haunted hayrides, and race through the spooky corn maze at the Fall Festival. Despite a former occupant’s fervent warnings, Kellan renovates and moves into a mysterious old house. When a ruthless ghost promises retribution, our fearless professor turns to the eccentric town historian and an eerie psychic known for her explosive predictions, to communicate with the apparition. Construction workers discover a fifty-year-old skeleton after breaking ground on the new Memorial Library wing. Could it be Prudence, Judge Hiram Grey’s first wife, who disappeared during a fiery Vietnam War protest that destroyed parts of the campus? While Kellan and April dance around the chemistry sparking between them, a suspicious accident at the Fall Festival leaves Hiram in a coma and another dead body to investigate. Kellan’s research digs up a tale of horror and pain about the true history and dastardly connections of the Grey family, forcing April to accelerate her plan to capture the elusive killer and placate the revenge-seeking ghost.

Excerpt From the Book:

Hunkering behind a weathered, illegible headstone in Wellington Cemetery’s oldest and scariest graveyard, I remained silent and stationary amidst a slew of exhumed corpses. Though surrounded by slender, tall white pines, a gnarly and knotty willow tree’s sweeping canopy of dying branches furtively brushed my neck. After an onslaught of howling winds furiously whipped my quivering skin, I peered over the loosened tomb marker and gawked at the mounds of freshly flung dirt. Why had a ruthless monster dug up so many coffins near the Grey mausoleum?

Skulking two rows away, the determined villain’s soulless eyes glowed like burning coal. The chilling tone of St. Mary’s somber church bells blasted—midnight’s fortuitous arrival. Its ominous beckoning prompted my unsteady feet to falter, crunching a pile of decaying leaves and foolishly revealing my secret location. Suddenly enshrouded in fog and hovering near the nameless gravestone, the rogue’s flowing black and gray robes resembled billowing smoke from an overworked chimney. “I hear you breathing, Ayrwick. Come out, come out wherever you are. I’m not finished with this game.”

“I don’t know who you are, but your obsession with me has spiraled out of control.” As an aloof moon cast an eerie luminosity, I cursed my new modern, sporty aviator eyeglasses for clouding over. Apparition or figment of an overwrought imagination, I couldn’t be certain; nor did I care at that moment. “You can’t be real. My mind is playing tricks on me.”

The ethereal bogeyman glided inches above the churchyard’s hallowed ground. The soles of its feet would vaporize upon stepping in the sacred dirt of the meandering pathways. “Are you ready to die?” the menacing, shrill voice taunted while hunting and cornering me in the darkness of my desolate hiding spot—the cold, melancholy resonance frightening all the bats, owls, and other nightlife creatures into hurried seclusion. The masked phantom narrowed a sinister gaze and brandished a mammoth-sized, razor-sharp scythe that cut swiftly through the crisp air and aimed with precision for my neck

thumbnail_Haunted-House-Ghost-Promo-Hardback-Ereader

Pre Order your copy today!!!

Release Date: October 1st, 2019

5th in Braxton Campus Mysteries

Pre-Sale Link: http://bit.ly/HHGhost

Meet the Author

thumbnail_Jay

Author Bio

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 900 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, there is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have segments where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

More titles from Jay!! I have read ALL of Jay’s novels, and recommend them, whole heartedly💕

List of Books

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Academic Curveball – #1 (October 2018)

Broken Heart Attack – #2 (November 2018)

Flower Power Trip – #3 (March 2019)

Mistaken Identity Crisis – #4 (June 2019)

Haunted House Ghost – #5 (October 2019)

 

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Next Chapter: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney?rq=cudney

Social Media Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4