Pavlovas!

So I just finished an excellent book called The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.  I really like to read books about people writing about books they love.  I learn about new books, and I often gain new perspectives on books that I have also read.  This book was more than that though.  It was also about the relationship the author had with his mother, and it’s also a tribute to his mother.  They began this book club after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, but throughout the book I also learned about her life.  She’s very inspiring.  She worked in refugee camps in several places around the world.  A very important cause to her was also establishing a library in Afghanistan (she successfully did this).

So anyway, I really enjoyed it, and I was curious to learn more about the author.  He’d been a book editor and in the book he describes how he left that work to start a website called cookstr.com.  It’s a fun site with lots of great recipes.  So all that to explain how I discovered that the national dessert of Australia and New Zealand is the Pavlova. I’d never heard of this dessert before.  I read about it, learned that it was very low fat, and so decided to try it out.

cookstr had a recipe for individual pavlovas.  It’s kinda like strawberry shortcake, but the base is not cake, instead it is a baked meringue.  You shape the meringue into disks and then bake it.  My disks do not look nearly as tall and nice as the ones pictured on the website.   This may be a combination of my altitude challenge here in Colorado, and perhaps I am also somewhat meringue challenged, as I’ve not made it many times.

However, I think I succeeded in capturing what the bases were supposed to taste like.  The base is just eggwhites, sugar, vanilla, cornstarch and a pinch of salt.

Here’s the finished pavlova.

pavlova

 

Once you bake the meringues, you just layer whipped cream and berries on top.  Very easy.

David took one bite of the meringue base and his first comment was “Strange”.  Not exactly what you want to hear. But it is unlike anything I’ve ever made.  It is kinda chewy and sort of reminds me of a more solid cotton candy.  It is very sweet and I wouldn’t want to eat it by itself, but I thought it was really good combined with the whipped cream and berries.  I didn’t actually use whipped cream this time.  I used Cool Whip.  David loves cool whip and we were trying to keep the dessert low fat and low calorie.  Next time though I’d love to try it with real whipped cream.

Despite David’s initial “Strange” reaction, I think the dessert grew on him.  He was ready to have another one today.

Davey wanted to try one too (without the fruit).

He looks a little unsure here.

unsure-pavlova

 

He wasn’t too thrilled.  I wish he’d tried it with the fruit as well!

So in summary this was a great book that led me to a good website where I found and tried what I think is a pretty fun dessert!

 

St Patrick’s Day 2013

It’s been almost a week since St Patrick’s Day, but I wanted to post a few pictures about the fun things we did.

Davey was all into St Patrick’s Day this year.  He wanted to have a “party” so we decided on a craft and a green treat to make together.

Pinterest came in really handy for this, and we settled on making a rainbow and pot of gold.  This involved Froot Loops and goldfish.  And glue.

pot-of-gold

I sorted Froot Loops.  David applied glue, and Davey attached the Froot Loops (well a lot of them).

This final result was cute!

final-result

Within about 5 minutes of the completion of the pot of gold(fish), Buster jumped up and ate about 3 of the goldfish.  That was his contribution.

We made green cookies too.  This was a really easy recipe which involved sugar cookie mix, andes mints and chocolate chips.

green-cookies

Davey refused to try a cookie.  I’ve realized he is somewhat of a purist (have to put a positive spin on his particular eating habits).  He likes sugar cookies, Andes mints, and chocolate chips – but he does not like them all mixed together.  Davey is not a fan of mixtures of any type.  (and of course the cookies were green – maybe not a selling point either!) But sugar-laden cookies -not a bad idea to refuse anyway!

baked-cookies

I like this close up of him.

st-pat-closeup

And then a short Buster story.  Buster is almost 6 months old and of course he likes to chew things.  He is in love with this Superman (who is about 3 inches tall?).

Bustersuperman

He will dig it specifically out of a tote with about 40 of these little guys.  I tested him.  He got it, and I took it away and reburied it in the bottom of the tote.  A minute later, he had found Superman and was carrying him across the room.  It’s all about the cape I think.  He was ready to annihilate the cape.   Superman is safely put away though.  For now.

Pinterest Success

I really like pinterest.  I find so many fun knitting ideas there.  And recipes.  Lots of recipes.

I got the idea about how to decorate make my Halloween cupcakes from pinterest.

 

These turned out great except no one told me (and I had no clue) that  approximately 24 hours after I placed the M&Ms on the icing, the M&Ms would turn very dull and become gritty.  Gross.  So I was quickly replacing M&Ms which just was not much fun.  Next time – icing eyes!

Then the other night, I found a great recipe.  I love Mexican food + eggs.  So this was a Mexican baked casserole.  I also like finding great meatless recipes, and this is one as well.   It’s called “Mexican Baked Eggs“.  I made a couple of minor modifications.  I used one jalapeno pepper instead of two, and I removed all the seeds.  It called for chipotle chili powder as well which I’d never used before.  I like the flavor of it a lot.  It was a little hot though.  If Davey would have been brave enough to try it, I would have cut the powder back some.  There was not much of a chance of that though.  I also sauteed some diced potatoes and put that at the bottom of the dish.

This turned out great and I will make it again for sure. It was a dish that David didn’t mind having as a leftover – always a plus too.

Then there is the recipe that is just plain old sinful.  No way around it.  I don’t know what possessed me to make it, but it may be one of the best desserts I’ve ever made.  David describes the pie as having a glow around it which continuously beckons him.

It’s called Peanut Butter Pie with Chocolate Chips.

Some of the ingredients include peanut butter (obviously!), whipped cream, cream cheese and powdered sugar.  That actually is the vast majority of the ingredients.  I confess that I did not make the homemade crust.  The recipe for that included more sugar and butter.  Next time.

I will make this again when we have enough guests so that I can be sure that most of it will be consumed when they are here.  Otherwise it is irresistible.

So while I’ve been writing about recipes, Davey has been playing away!  He’s immersed in a scenario which I think involves a snake attacking a camp.

Sunday: Shawlette and a couple of recipes

Davey and I have been hanging out this weekend.  David had to make a trip to Texas, but he’ll be back this evening.  Today Davey and I worked on putting up the Halloween lights.  Hopefully I can take a good picture in the evening.  We are very excited about Halloween!

I have a Halloween knitting project which is in progress.  I’m looking forward to blogging about it soon!

I’m working on the bind off on my Quaker Ridge Shawlette. This is a Susan B. Anderson pattern, and it’s been really nice to knit.  The slow part is the bind-off.  I’m doing a beaded bind-off.  I’ve never done one before so it was a little tricky at first.  I felt like all thumbs with the little beads.  I’m getting better at it though.  I need to get it finished up (almost 500 stitches to bind off. yikes.).

This is not a great picture.  I’ll take some better ones when it is done.

 

I also wanted to share a couple of really good recipes that I made lately.

One is Pioneer Woman’s “Simple Perfect Enchiladas“.  These are really good.  I used hamburger, but shredded beef would be good too.  I always use Hatch enchilada sauce too.  If you can get it, I highly recommend it.  It seems like some red enchilada sauce is kind of bitter.  Not hatch.

Another positive was that the enchiladas warmed up really well.  We aren’t crazy about leftovers typically, but these were great leftovers.

I also subscribe to allrecipes.com emails.   They had a recipe up yesterday for Spicy Beef Stew. Now this sounded a little weird to me because it called for a jar of marinara sauce and a can of Rotel.  So odd that I just had to try it. However, it all blended in and I couldn’t tell at all that I’d put spaghetti sauce in.  I put it on mashed potatoes.  I confess I made Hungry Jack mashed potatoes.  I had not made instant potatoes probably ever, but I’d read somewhere that they were good.  I always thought instant potatoes tasted weird, but these were really good.  Definitely good to put stew over!  Lots of leftovers on this too.

Ok we need one more extension cord for our lights.  And maybe some frozen yogurt.

As Seen on TV…Press Dough!

Press Dough!  Davey had seen this commercial a bunch of times on Sprout.  He loves to play with Playdoh, and so the idea of playdoh as real dough that you could bake and eat?  Sounded great to him!

He kept asking me to get it for him, and so I did.  As an added bonus – “if you buy now!”  – we got 2 for the price of one!

So it finally arrived, and Davey was ready to try it out.

I may have not gotten the dough just right.  I refrigerated it for awhile so it would get firm, but it still wasn’t easy to work with.  I’m no expert with cookie cutters; I sometimes find it hard to use them myself.  He liked the flour shaker which the instructions insisted was very important.  We were supposed to liberally sprinkle the molds with flour.

Davey liked playing with it for awhile, but it was kinda hard to get anything to work quite right.  It was kind of a mess.  Davey is definitely not a tidy kid much of the time, but he (like his daddy) does not like a mess.  This was a little messy!

It was his first experience with the “as seen on tv” product.  Not always quite what you think it’s going to be.

I think he’s back to Playdoh.

Koko wanted to check this all out too.  I think she smelled the dough.

 

Koko may be an old girl, but her nose still works like a charm.  I had to get the crooked mouth face.  She’s been doing that forever.

Is it Halloween yet?

Davey and I are ready for Halloween.  It’s September 15th, and we are ready to put up our Halloween decorations.  We’re going to try to hold out until October 1st.  I can’t remember when we put ours up last year, but I do know we were the first in the neighborhood…by a couple of weeks!

We did buy some Halloween cookie cutters yesterday, and we made our first batch of Halloween cookies.  Davey helped me cut some of the dough out, but then he decided to take leftovers and play with them.  Next thing I know he has gotten the toothpicks and is totally absorbed in some story he created with the dough and toothpicks.  It’s not real pretty, but he had the best time:

 

He had fun decorating too!

Angry Birds Cupcakes Extravaganza

A few days ago, actually last weekend – where did the week go? – David, Davey and I made “Angry Bird” cupcakes.  Davey has been all about the Angry Birds lately.    Sometimes I play on my phone and he plays on David’s phone, and we sit side by side with our Angry Birds.

So last week we decided to make Angry Bird cupcakes.  We found some guidelines on pinterest. Davey carefully reviewed the website.

Constructing the faces required several ingredients:  food coloring, sprinkles, candy orange slices (those should not be anywhere near me.  I can’t resist them), mini marshmallows, marshmallows, and mini-chocolate chips.  We were supposed to make the eyebrows with skinny black licorice whips, but none of us like black licorice.  I kind of wish we’d gone with it anyway though, because achieving the “Angry Look” is pretty key to a successful Angry Bird cupcake!  We made do with mini chocolate chips.

So I got everything all set up.  I used white cake mix for the cupcakes, but I made homemade butter cream icing.  we had to dip the cupcakes into sprinkles after we added icing.  That’s quite a few sprinkles.  Of course, Davey had no problem with mega sprinklage.

Once we got started, Davey really enjoyed supervising and taking pictures more than the actual decoration.  I think he got a great shot of David at work (I knew I was going to need David’s abilities to pull this off.)

David was in charge of red angry birds.  (Notice in the picture above that the little icing swiper had already made a pass at the birds.)

David took this task seriously.

I really liked the pigs:

I picked out the best of the lot for a final picture.

(The plain green one with the marshmallows is the “nest”.)

Pretty fun project!  Davey loved the process.  Davey loved the icing.  He always loves the icing.