MSBH Challenge

I wanted to tell you all about something I am doing over the next year.

I have this amazing cook book all about baking that I coveted for a long time but the $45 price tag got to me.

You see I collect cook books. Like some women have shoes. I have cook books. All different kinds and sizes. And my husband is often commenting how I don’t need more cookbooks. I can’t explain my love for them. I have been known to settle down under a blanket on the couch and read a cookbook.

Reading each recipe and thinking about the flavors and cooking methods. Which sound good to me. Which surprise me with their combinations. I came by it honestly. My maternal grandmother is the same. My mother as well.

I could list my favorites for different reasons. Best desserts. Best for kids recipes. Best French. Best Mexican. Etc. (you are seeing my inner Foodie coming out!)

Anyways, back to my challenge. This marvelous cookbook called “The Martha Stewart Baking Handbook.” It goes over anything you would want to bake. From cream puffs to all kinds of fancy cakes to baguettes and fancy yeast breads to Italian pastries.

Well I decided that I want to learn to make every thing in the book. No, I have no seen the show Julia and Julia (although I want to badly). No, I am not doing this because of or inspired by that movie. I think it will make me a better baker. And really it sounds incredibly fun πŸ™‚ (and a bit fattening….) I told my SIL Lindsay about my plan a few weeks ago and she told me to blog about it. So I will. I have no idea if any of you actually even would want to read about that… but it’s my blog. hahahaha.

I’ll share what I learn and how I mess up and what I know for next time. Shortcuts or whatever. Forever more this little challenge will be called the MSBH Challenge.

So I started the year yesterday.
And we had a good friend Anna over for Sunday dinner (who I haven’t seen in a while. And who my children instantly liked! Anna has kids my age. But we just get along super good. (I think her girls are pretty awesome too!) Anna, who my kids wanted to give a tour of our house too, which included showing her the embarrassingly large pile of laundry in the laundry room – clean on the counter to fold and dirty on the floor to wash, and she just smiled a yeah-that’s-completely-normal kind of way and sweetly said there are a few kids around here to take care of…. which would be ONE of the many reasons why I just love her!) And I made recipe #1 (not number 1 in the book but the first one I made in the challenge)and #2 for the frosting.

Here it is.
Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting.

I totally messed up the frosting. You see you beat room temperature margarine (or butter for better taste) with white sugar for 3-4 minutes and it makes it all fluffy and airy. Then you pour in your cooled to room temperature melted chocolate. The key is cooled to room temperature melted chocolate. Cause if you just pour in a bit cooled melted chocolate it makes the fluff and air of the previously beat margarine (or butter) and sugar completely leave.

See it melts the butter with it’s hot self. (You know like when you’re in a room feeling all pretty and cute and put together and then a real knockout girl walks in and you suddenly feel not quite as put together….) Then you are just a runny mess. Just like the chocolate. And it takes a whole lotta icing sugar and to make it back into a reasonable icing. Which is what I did. And just pretended that that was how it was supposed to be! I mean nobody else read the recipe. Just me. And my kids only ate the icing off their pieces of cake πŸ™‚ So my mistake worked out!

(And just for fun the meat I made for dinner too.) My new favorite meat. New as in the last year new. But still new.) Pork. mmmm. I used this recipe here. And we all gave it a two thumbs up!


MSBH Challenge #1 & #2

A Perfect Lunch

I was lucky today to enjoy a quiet lunch filled with good things amidst the crazy day of driving to here and there and watching some extra kids.

A favorite drink

Left over soup from last night’s supper
Recipe comes from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry
“Rome on the Range”

8 large plum tomatoes
2 large red bell peppers, seeded & chopped
1 large red onion, chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp each minced fresh thyme and fresh rosemary
2 cups beef broth
1 cup V8 juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

12 oz extra lean ground beef
1/4 cup minced shallots or onions
1/4 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coarsely chop tomatoes and combine with red peppers, onion, garlic, olive oil, thyme and rosemary in a very large roasting pan. It’s best if veggies are in a single layer.

Place roasting pan in oven on middle rack and roast veggies for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and give quick stir. Return to oven and turn on broiler. Broil for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare meatballs. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Using your hands space into about 48 mini meatballs using about 1 tsp of meat mixture. Set aside.

Remove veggies from oven. Transfer half to blender or food processor along with 1 cup of broth. Puree til smooth. Transfer puree to large soup pot. Chop remaining veggies into bite sized pieces and add to pot, along with every thing else. Bring to boil. Add meatballs. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through.

My alterations:
Used regular onion since I didn’t have red.
Had no breadcrumbs so I used a bit of oatmeal (has to be quick cooking or else you notice it)
Had no Italian seasoning so I used a little rosemary and thyme combined to flavor the meatballs.
And I just dumped all my veggies into a big pot, and used my hand held bruan mixer to mix all of it up. I didn’t want too many chunkies. πŸ™‚

Also left overs from supper last night…

Recipe comes from Eat, Shrink and Be Merry
“Pizza for the upper crust”

1 can 10 oz tomatoes with Italian herbs
1/3 cup pizza sauce
1 12-inch thin crust pizza shell
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano, Parmesan or Asigo cheese
3 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
Black pepper

Preheat grill to medium and leave lid closed to keep hot (or preheat oven to 425)

Drain tomatoes in a sieve, pressing down to remove as much liquid as possible. Break up any large chunks with fingers.

Spread pizza sauce over crust, leaving 1/4 inch border around edge. Top with drained tomatoes. Sprinkle evenly with Romano cheese.

Using small knife cut mozzarella cheese into thin slices. Spread evenly over pizza. Sprinkle with basil and pepper.

Place pizza directly onto grill or middle oven rack. If grilling cook 4 minutes. Then shut off heat and leave life closed. cook another 3 minutes of so til toppings are hot and cheese is melted. If cooking in oven, bake for 10 minutes or til cheese is melted and edges are browned.

My alterations:
Had no Italian seasoning so I used a little rosemary and thyme combined
Used Romano cheese (mmmmm)
And plain old mozzarella cheese.
Used fresh tomatoes since I didn’t have that kind and just squeezed out the liquid as much as possible.

And a good book to read.

What was for lunch at your house?
And yep, its seems we don’t seem to have much luck traveling with kids….

Banana Chiffon Cake

Banana Chiffon Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 7 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1. Preheat oven to 350ΒΊF. In a large micing bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, mash bananas. Add oil, egg yolks, vanilla and 3/4 cup cold water; mix to combine. Add to flour mixture, and whisk batter until smooth.
2. In a large bowl, place egg whites and cream of tartar; using an electric mixer, beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter just until combined (do not overmix.) Pour into a 10-inch amgel-food cake pan with legs. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Invert pan onto legs over counter; let cool completely. Reinvert pan, and run a thin metal spatual around edge to release onto platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve.

(I added some cream cheese icing.)


Silly Greek Chili

I’ve had a few people ask me for this recipe…..
It is from the great cookbook Eat, Shrink and Be Merry. It’s a great book (I’ll return it soon mom!!!) So cheesey, but really good healthy TASTY recipies. This is a really light fresh tasting chili. Total yum!

Silly Greek Chili
2 tsp olive oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup chopped red onions
1 cup diced zucchini
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp each ground cumin and dried oregano
1 can (19 oz) diced tomatoes with sun-dried tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups your favorite tomate pasta sauce
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1/3 cup crumbled light feta cheese

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large
non stick pot. Add chicken. Cook and stir chicken until lightly bronwed, but not cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Add onions, zucchini, red pepper and garlic. Cook and stir until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes.
Stir in chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook 1 more minute. Add tomatoes with their juice, pasta sauce, chickepas, brown sugar and pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer with 15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro. Ladel chili into serving bowls and top with feta cheese.

I read this book called Hope. I kinda got into it. It has 658 pages… and I read it in four days. Funny how I love to read but when I get into a book… i have to finish it. And fast. Regan kept commenting that he wished he could read his text books like that. πŸ™‚ I think I was reading MUCH lighter stuff!

I’ll leave you with two pictures of my cute kiddios from the last few days.