Sally’s Baking Addiction: December, 2019 Challenge: Homemade Butter Cookies🍪

I’m Baaaack!! So I had some technical difficulties with WordPress, for a couple months 🤨  I did keep going with the baking challenges but I didn’t get to post them in a timely manner.

I also was not able to comment or “like” most of the blogs I follow, so I am so sorry that I have been absent for so long 😔 But I will be trying to make it up to all of you!

So, now I must take you back to Christmas time for this baking challenge. 🎄Sorry!

Sally’s challenge for December was to make homemade butter cookies. I think many of you will remember these as spritz cookies. They are usually made with a special piece of culinary equipment that, quite frankly, never work! Fortunatley, Sally did not make us buy this antiquated piece of crap 😂

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Since this was a rather simple recipe, the dough came together rather quickly

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The most important part of combining the ingredients is the addition of the milk. The piping consistency of this dough is important. It needs to be thin enough to move through the piping tip, but thick enough to hold the shape after piping. So, add the milk a tablespoon at a time.

I used the largest tip that I had and, after chilling the dough for several hours, piped them onto a parchment lined baking sheet.

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These were baked at 350F for 15 minutes.

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These were cooled, and then I decided to dip them into melted chocolate and added sprinkles

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They were buttery, and full of almond and vanilla flavor! 😋

So happy to be back online with you all!!!

 

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.

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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.

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

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

I found this recipe on Pinterest

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

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And off to my brother in laws for dinner!

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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 🍎

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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

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

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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

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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.

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Cleaned and scrubbed

 

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I finally got the sticks in 🍏🍎🍏

Time to dip!

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

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

 

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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 🍫

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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

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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…

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The Better Liar, by Tanen Jones: Book Review📚

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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

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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.

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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 😋

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

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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!

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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.

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Before proving

 

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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).

 

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The cheese was pressed into the rectangle

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

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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!

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From Sally’s Baking Addiction Site

Here is how mine looked

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

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The loaf was brushed with melted butter and chopped parsley.

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And into a 350F oven for 50 minutes

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Very easy! And, more importantly, delicious 😍

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And it went great with the chicken chili that night!

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Another excellent Sally recipe 👩🏻‍🍳

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

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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 😂

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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.

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

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The eggs were whipped until light and voluminous.

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Sugar, oil and vanilla were mixed in

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

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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.

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

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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

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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

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

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

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The blueberry whipped cream was spread over the slices

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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!

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

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

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The view from the top

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

The final step is to make the cream cheese frosting 😋

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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!

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And yes, the layers were vertical!!

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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💕