Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stuff It!!!!

This is the famed churpumple!  It is a combination of pies and cakes.  They bake a pie, then put it in a cake and bake that, repeat 2 more times then go nuts with icing.  The peanut butter cup cake I made last month had a cheesecake sandwiched between two cakes, but it wasn't baked into the thing.  So what I want to know is when the hell did we start stuffing pies into cakes?????

And now that the door has been opened, what else are we going to be putting inside cakes in the days to come?

Let me know your ideas, what have you always wanted to find inside a slice of cake?  Give me some good ideas and I will see how it goes....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Baking Failure!

Today I was reading a blog post by Jon Acuff about failing and he basically says that when given the freedom to fail some of the most amazing creative ideas come out.  It's kinda cool to think about it and think back at things I've done in life where I took the freedom to fail.  Last week I exercised that freedom and put together chicken, cheddar, and chocolate for a tasty, alliterative slice of divine genius!  When I worked on helicopters within that freedom I pushed the limits and learned to do things others were scared to try and became better at particular tasks than anybody I knew.  When I was a child my dad gave me and my brother the freedom to fail, and like the lady referenced in Jon's blog, the order to fail when it came to fixing computers.  Because of that, we learned to approach things with a different mindset.  We learned to expect to fail, but to be able to figure out how to fix it anyway.  I remember being in elementary school and having adult relatives call because they couldn't get their computer to work and I was able to talk them through it over the phone, which might not seem like that big of a deal now because most 3rd graders can too now, but that was back before CD ROM's and the internet.  The point is, because I expected to fail occasionally, I became ok with it and learned to thrive in spite of it....baking, building decks, repairing helicopters, starting a business...it all becomes ok when you expect a little failure mixed in with it.

Go try something you're scared of.  You might be surprised at the outcome!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pick 'N Pull & Pumpkin Pie

This morning I got out of bed thinking about what I might like to bake today.  Lots of ideas ran through my head, like a candied jalapeno cheesecake, or a pina colada pie complete with rum and whipped coconut milk, but instead I decided to check my blog and see what kind of response I had to my baking challenge....
...3 comments, yep that's all, just three.  So  yeah, yeah, I know I don't have a huge following or anything, but with all the begging on facebook I anticipated much more suggestions!  And that's all the complaining I will do, and to those who did give an idea thank you very much.  I read through and liked all three.  I decided to make today a pumpkin day and in the near future I think I will combine the other two ideas and make an ice cream cake italian cream cheesecake masterpiece!  

Before I could get started baking I had to run up to the pick 'n pull with my brother to get my dad's birthday present.  He just bought a Ford Ranger but the seats are crap.  When you plop your butt down it bottoms out and hits the metal frame, and he's got a little butt....I mean he's only 5'3" and might weigh 125lbs, so if he's bottoming out its bad.  So my brother had the great idea to buy him some replacement seats at the pick 'n pull for his birthday present. And now, for those of you who are wondering what in the hell a pick 'n pull is, it is an auto salvage yard.  It's like a car graveyard where they take destroyed cars and let people come out and rummage through to find the parts they need to fix their car.  You just show up with some tools to take out the part you need and pay next to nothing for it.  We bought two bucket seats for $75 today probably saved around $500 vs. new prices.  The only problem is that you never know what you will run into when you get there.  We looked through all the Rangers they had and couldn't find a seat that was worth the effort so we ended up taking some from a mini-van.  My brother had a good point, "dad has a welder, so anything will work!"  

Once we got home I got busy in the kitchen while my brother played with my baby.  She's pretty irresistible!

 Like I mentioned earlier, I decided to do everything pumpkin today.  Since I've never made a pumpkin pie before, I decided that would be a great place to start.  I'm thinking that before I go screwing with a timeless classic like pumpkin pie, I had better make one the right way to start with.  So I just followed the recipe on the Libby's can.  It was some spices, some evaperated milk, pumpkin mush and a pie crust.  Since I usually have a couple of crusts frozen I decided to use one of those.  And like a good boy I made a pumpkin pie just like the recipe told me!!!! Boring!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This one was pretty good, tasted like homemade pumpkin pie!
Since I had never made a pumpkin pie before I was a bit concerned about how full to fill the pie crust.  The recipe said it makes one pie so I dumped all the batter into the pie crust but it was full to the top.  My fear was that as it bakes it is going to swell or inflate or somehow become bigger than the container and create a mess bigger than Dallas.  So I called around and finally got my mother-in-law who said that yes it will do exactly what I was afraid of....crap!  So I dumped half of it back into the mixer bowl and proceeded with the directions to bake.

Now, I had a pumpkin pie in the oven baking and enough pumpkin pie mix to do another pie, but I didn't have another crust thawed and don't really want two pumpkin pies so I decided to go rogue!  

As I laid (or lied which is it?) in bed this morning I was thinking about making some pumpkin pie batter and some cheesecake batter, then swirling them together in a pie crust since the baking times are very similar.  Great idea right?  Well until I made the batter....cuz cheesecake is way thicker than pumpkin pie stuff so I don't know how well the swirl thing would work.   And let me tell you, I was on the verge of trying it anyway but my wife stopped me.  Not physically but mentally... She always gets on to me for using every bowl in the house when I bake, and since I had the pumpkin pie batter(is that what you call it?  I'm not really sure) in the mixing bowl I would have had to dump it into another bowl to make the cheesecake, then swirl the two together.  This would dirty another bowl and cause my wife to give me a hard time, so I chose not to.  I decided, instead, to just make a pumpkin pie cheesecake, so I started by dumping the pumpkin pie stuff into another bowl so I could start the cheesecake batter....hahaha, yeah I know, it defeated the whole purpose but I wanted to let you into how my little brain works(sorta).

For the pumpkin pie cheesecake I made my 3-2-minus the-1 cheesecake recipe only I decided to get adventurous, I decided to use 4 eggs instead of 2, and a lot of times I will add a tsp of lemon juice but today when I opened the refrigerator I saw key limes.  So I decided to squeeze one of those into the mix.  Then I added the pumpkin stuff and mixed it all a while.  Since I had used evaporated milk in the pumpkin stuff I decided not to use the sweetened condensed milk but a quick taste let me know I needed some sugar.  I ended adding half a cup of sugar, and I wanted to try to make one that didn't collapse so I added a tsp of baking soda, and I threw in a cup of flour.  Once I got it all mixed up, the consistency was pretty close to normal so I dumped it over a graham-cracker crust in my spring form pan.

The only problem with this was that, once again, I had extra batter. 

 Sometime during the day my wife told me about something she on pinterest, somebody had used cinnamon rolls for a pie crust.....GENIUS!!!!!!!!  So without delay I pulled out a can of cinnamon rolls from the fridge and sliced them to use for my crust, then squeezed them all into a square glass pan and dumped the cheesecake batter on top. And bake it like a regular cheesecake.
Viewing the bottom of the pan.

Left is the pumpkin pie cheesecake on the cinnamon roll crust. Right is pumpkin pie.

And then I remembered, the pumpkin pie idea on my blog said it needs to have lots of fiber and protein to balance the carbs and calories.....oooops I made everything she said she can't eat!

So I tore through the cupboard trying to find something high in fiber with no idea in mind......

I found this whole wheat baking mix that says somewhere on the box that its a great source of fiber.  After I made the cinnamon roll crust above, I actually looked at the recipe my wife was talking about and learned that they had just made a normal pie crust, covered in cinnamon/sugar, rolled it up and sliced thin to make a crust that looks like cinnamon rolls.  So I decided to give it a try!  I used 2 cups of the whole wheat baking mix(kinda like bisquick), a stick and a half of butter, 1 tsp salt and a Tbsp of sugar, and some ice water to make a pie crust.  Then I rolled it out, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, rolled it into a log then cut off little cinnamon rolls for my crust.

 I racked my brain trying to think of how to make pumpkin pie have more fiber and protein, then I decided to google "high protein baking".  I didn't really find anything that helped me too much, but there was a recipe for high protein banana bread.  I didn't bother looking at it, but I said to myself "I have a banana in the freezer that I've been planning to use for some banana bread, why not throw that in the mix."  So I did!  Then as I kept looking I found THE solution, peanut butter!  It's full of protein.  So here's what I did.

3 heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter
1 banana
1 can pumpkin mush
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1.5 tsp ground cloves
1.5 tsp ground allspice
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp apple pie spice
1/2 cup sugar

I had a little more than would fit in the pie plate so I just poured it into 3 ramekins and ended up baking for about 30 mins. 

After baking at 350 degrees for 50 minutes this is what it looked like.  

This one could benefit from chocolate I think!!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Making Homemade Vanilla Extract

Yeah I know there's a hundred different sites out there telling you how to make vanilla extract, but I've got a picture of how to scrape it easily, so that makes mine different.  Maybe I'm just stupid and that's why I was doing it the  hard way, but I decided to throw in some directions to help out any of you who might be like me.  I started out cutting them in half and then like a moron, trying to use the tip of the knife to scrape the goo out.  Then I figured out it works better to do it like you're filleting a fish and run the flat part of the knife the length of the bean, and go figure...it worked great.  I ended up getting way more goop out then with my original method so I decided to take some pictures and share with the world.

Slice It down the middle.

Just like filleting a fish!

So here's how you make vanilla:

Do what I said above, then dump that goop and the pod from vanilla beans into some liquor.  Shake the hell out of it (make sure you get the lid on tight).  Wait!  Shake it like a maniac. Wait!  Wait! Shake it some more.  After a couple of months it will be good.

Here's the deal, it's not an exact science!  You use some vanilla beans and some liquor.  Buy your beans online( I purchased 1/2lb of beans for around $30 online and totally got hooked up cuz they sent an extra 1/4lb for free) and buy the cheapest liquor you can find!  There are lots of recipes out there that will give you exact ratios, but I'm not that kinda guy.  I've got about 20-30 beans in a 750ml bottle, and about 35-50 in the giant bottle.

 I bought a handle of rum a few months ago and used the 1/4lb bag to make some extract.  I ordered some bottles to pour up my Christmas presents and they came in yesterday,  so I poured up what I had that was ready(a batch that I started probably 4-5 months ago).  That left me with a 750ml bottle full of beans with no liquid so I went and bought a handle of rum, the cheapest crap they had...it was about $15.  I added about 15 beans to the bottle I had just emptied and then filled it back  up with rum.  Then I used the rest of the 1/2lb bag of beans in the big, now half-full, bottle of rum.

My experience tells me:
     *The fewer beans you use the longer it takes!
     *When you smell it and it still smells like potent liquor it's not done.
     *When it smells like vanilla extract it's done.
     *Go cheap!
     *I don't have super-human x-men type sense of taste and smell so I don't really notice a difference  between different varieties of beans.

Hope this helps!

Baking Challenge

What's next????????
awesome photoshop job here
I've made chocolate covered chicken and chocolate salsa (forgot to mention that one).  I've played with pies, cheesecakes, cookies and cakes.  I've copied, stolen, created and adjusted all kinds of recipes.  I have fun baking and even more fun when I'm creating something new.  For my chocolate covered chicken, I have read about other people mixing chocolate with savory dishes, and I've had mole enchiladas before so I had to give it a try myself.  The only real guidance I had was chili goes well with chocolate....it was amazing!  Sometimes, though, my random creations are absolute garbage.  It's a bit disappointing when that happens but it's not often enough to wreck my hopes and dreams.

What's the point??????  So I know I haven't tried everything out there, and I even have plenty of stuff on my to-do list, but I'm wanting some input from the rest of the world......What should I do next?  If you've followed my blog or read through past entries you know some of the things I've tried in the past so hopefully I won't get any repeats for suggestions....

What do I want from YOU?
      An idea!  Not a recipe, just an idea.  You can give a list of ingredients and a hopeful outcome, or you can tell me your 2-3 favorite things (i.e. chocolate, cheesecake, heath bars= i make you a heath bar cheesecake)(or chicken, cheese, chocolate= chocolate covered chicken)  and I will think of a way to make something delicious from it.  Tell me about something you had once but don't know what it was (i promise to not come anywhere near perfectly recreating it but hopefully I will get something tasty at least).

So is that a good enough explanation?  Are you gonna play along?  Just leave me a comment and I will go through and pick my favorite ideas and get started this weekend.  Remember I'm a guy who loves to bake, so I'm really looking for baking ideas, but I won't crucify you if you deviate...after all I did make chocolate covered chicken this week.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate, Cheese, Chicken; WOW!!!!!

So I was sitting there feeding my baby a few minutes ago and suddenly got the strange urge to combine chocolate and chicken.  My wife is horrified by the whole incident and has turned to drinking! I'm still sitting here in amazement wondering why I never did that before.

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1tbsp butter
1 tsp cumin
2tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt
cheddar cheese
chicken breast

I salted the chicken breast and cooked it in a skillet then set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat get the butter started melting then throw in the chocolate to melt as well. Once melted, add all the spices and stir well.  Continue to stir for 2-3 minutes then remove from heat.

Place the chicken breast on a plate then top with a slice of cheddar about the same size as the chicken, then drizzle with the chocolate sauce.

As amazing as this was, it needs more hot!  So next time I think I will add some fresh jalapenos since I've got a plant that's spitting them out like crazy.  I drizzled a bit cautiously because I had no idea what to expect, but next time i'll get a lot more sauce because it's amazing!

Oh yeah, and the recipe for my wife's drink.....pour an inch of coconut rum into an empty glass then fill remaining space with some good ole' coca-cola

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pies

I'm a failure as a baker/blogger....I suck at taking pictures!  Today I made some amazing desserts but forgot to take pictures so most of you have probably stopped reading already....but let me tell you about them anyway, and put the recipe.  I can always add pictures next time I make them.

My wife, remember I told you she's addicted to pinterest, suggested that I check it out to find a good dessert to take to church.  So I did, and I found this

Apparently Pinterest is too difficult for me because when I clicked on the picture it took me to a different website and I never could find the recipe, so I just guessed.....and it was AWESOME!!!!

What an experiment this turned out to be....I was reading a recipe yesterday that told me to combine some sugar, butter and some other stuff in the microwave for 45 seconds then remove and add chocolate chips, stirring till melted.  So, I decided to use the same method....uhhh  bad idea! I put some oreo crumbs and butter in a bowl in the microwave, but the butter wasn't melting very well so I ended up leaving it for about a minute to a minute and a half....the crap still didn't melt!  I assumed the crumbs had probably heated a bit, maybe enough to melt the butter and chocolate so I pulled the bowl out and started stirring.  As soon as I turned over the first spoon full of crumbled Oreos smoke came billowing out of the pile of crumbs followed by the worst smell ever which quickly filled the kitchen and the entire house.  I can't tell you if flames erupted or not because I turned my head in disgust and my eyes started watering....it was horrible.  And then my wife came in wanting to know what I had done....like I said...what an experiment.

All that to say this...to hell with the microwave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I hate using the thing, and would be quite content throwing it off a 4 story building to tell you the truth!  If that makes me a grumpy old man, so be it! 

Now on to the chocolate covered strawberry pie things.....I suck at making up names for my creations but oh well.

I had the picture above to go by so as you can tell it has strawberries, chocolate, and an oreo crust.  I like where they are going with this, but it just seems to fall short to me.  So to add some extra umpff, I threw in some marshmallows before I drizzled with chocolate.  Then my wife says "how are people supposed to eat this thing?"  So I tell her, "It's gonna be inside a muffin cup!"  and she replies "but how is it going to stay together, it will just be crumbs and a strawberry, I don't get it."   UGGGGHHHHHH, women!  So I went back and dragged out a saucepan, melted some marshmallows with some butter, drizzled that onto the crust, and glued the strawberry in place with it, then filled the cup the rest of the way with whole mini marshmallows and drizzled chocolate on top!  Magic!  So here's the 'structions as my mamma would say:

1/3 of a package of oreos crumbled (i used food processor)
1 tbsp butter melted
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar

combine crumbs, flour and sugar, then add in the butter. mix thoroughly.  
put cupcake liners in a muffin pan, then spoon in about a tablespoon of the oreo mixture into each one, pressing firmly into place. place muffin pan in freezer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

while the crusts are cooling, cut the tops off 12 strawberries, or if they're small ones you might want 2 per cup.  set aside and prepare marshmallow goo.

Marshmallow Layer
1cup mini marshmallows
1tbsp butter

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add marshmallows and melt them too.  Spoon about a tbsp of the goo into each crusted cup.

Next put a large strawberry or 2 small ones into each cup.  Sprinkle a few mini marshmallows into each cup to take up space.

Chocolate Topping
1 cup cream
1 cup chocolate chips

Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat.  Get it hot but not boiling.  Remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring till melted and smooth.  Let cool for a few minutes. it will thicken a bit as it cools, you want it still runny though.  Using a spoon, drizzle a spoonful over each cup.  Throw the final product into the fridge for about 10 minutes so the chocolate will harden, and then pig out!

Peanut Butter Cup Cake

Not to be confused with a Peanut Butter Cupcake!
This was my attempt at a cake my wife forwarded to me one morning.  It's as if she was saying "you should make this" but I know she doesn't like peanut butter or cheesecake so I'm not really sure why she was passing it along.  She has recently become addicted to Pinterest and I think that is where she came across this awesome cake.  If you don't want to click on the link up there to see some details about the cake I will tell you about her version....it's supposed to be 10 freakin pounds!!!!!  Yeah 10 lbs!  It's a layer of cheesecake on top of a layer of chocolate cake on top of a cheesecake on top of a chocolate cake.....talk about confusing the tongue!  Oh yeah and to make matters worse on the poor unsuspecting taste buds, it's got peanut butter cups and caramel thrown in there all slathered up with a chocolate ganache frosting!  

I read through her recipe and found things I liked about it and things I hated (it takes 2-3 days to make it).  Yeah totally hated that.  Too many ingredients, too many steps and too much time.  So I went lazy.  I decided to make my typical 3-2-1 cheesecake and throw that in between two chocolate box cakes.  The only problem is I didn't have a chocolate box cake, I had a vanilla box cake.  So I did what any man would do and added a crap load of cocoa powder to the cake mix and rolled the dice....

Not the best idea, next time I'll go buy the $0.97 chocolate box cake and use that.  

So my version of the amazing cake that my wife forwarded to me is as follows....

Make a 3-2-1 cheesecake without a crust and get it started cooling.  You can make it chocolate and throw in some quartered peanut butter cups or whatever flavor you want.  I made a vanilla version with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.  It was a great flavor, very subtle though.   I would suggest trimming the top after it collapses so when you put the layers together they fit better.  According to the sprinkle lady whose recipe I referenced, this cake is best served frozen.  So I pulled my cheesecake out of the oven, let it cool a bit then threw it in the freezer.  While that was cooling I made the box cake according to recipe on the box, only like I mentioned earlier mine was a vanilla mix with about a cup of cocoa powder.  It tasted great, but just not the perfect chocolate cake taste I was looking for. 

Once all three cakes are baked and in the freezer you can bake an apple pie...that's what I did.  In my opinion the cakes all need to be cold, not necessarily "frozen" when you proceed.

Here's where I go really different from the sprinkle lady.  I'm thinking this cake needs more peanut butter flavor so I think a layer of peanut butter whipped frosting should go between the first chocolate cake and the cheesecake.

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
8 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
9 mini peanut butter cups 

Cream peanut butter and butter together in stand mixer with whisk attachment.  Gradually add powdered sugar.  Whip on high speed until light and fluffy.

So throw down the first chocolate cake, then put the peanut butter frosting on, along with a half cup of quartered peanut butter cups, then throw on the cheesecake.  You can either drizzle some caramel on top of the cheesecake or go with some chocolate frosting, I personally don't like the caramel on this cake so I would go with chocolate if I were doing it again.  Sprinkle lady had some peanuts in there, that might be good too.  Next throw on the other chocolate cake and all that's left is the icing.  This is best done by following the sprinkle lady's directions...

13 oz. or 1 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tbsp. corn syrup

Heat the cream till hot but not boiling, then remove from heat and add the chocolate.  Stir till melted and smooth.  Remove 2/3 cup of chocolate mixture into a separate bowl and add the corn syrup.  This is for the top of the cake.

While it's still hot smear it all over the top of the cake, then throw the whole thing into the freezer while you whip the rest of the frosting.

The remaining chocolate mixture goes into the mixer with whisk attachment until stiff peaks form, approximately 7-10 minutes on high.  This fluffy stuff is for the sides.

Smear the fluffy stuff all over the sides to make it look pretty, and bam, you're done.  You can always add the peanut butter cup and pipe on some peanut butter frosting on top, but this is the ugly cheesecake blog, so if I do this cake again I'm leaving that part off!