Friday, October 28, 2011

What's Baking? October: Fall Flavors

I missed last month's What's Baking (family favorites), which was sad. So I was determined to do this month's, but I unfortunately haven't had time
to blog about it until the very last minute!

I went apple picking a few weeks ago, as I try to do every year. I picked a 1/2 bushel of apples, and I really think I need to get over there again before they close for the season and get another half bushel! One more apple pie or crisp and they'll all be gone. For this reason, I made something that would use fewer apples for What's Baking?.

Joy The Baker made a lovely apple coffee cake ring earlier this month. It has a yeasty dough and is filled with apples- kind of like cinnamon rolls with apples in a ring form. It looked lovely. And it tastes lovely! I used half whole wheat flour to be a little more whole-grainy, and instead of her streusel topping, I made a cream cheese icing. It's a great breakfast bread, it's appley and cinnamony but not overly sweet (unless you smother it in the icing, of course). One recipe makes two, and we've thoroughly enjoyed having this one around for twice as long ;)

The dough is a very different dough than I've worked with before- it's kind of like a cross between a yeast bread and a cake. It tastes like a bread, though!

Apple Coffee Cake Ring
recipe from Joy the Baker

For the dough:
1T active dry yeast
1/4cup warm water
6T sugar
1 and 1/2 stick butter, softened to room temperature
1t cardamom
1/2t salt
3 eggs
4.5 to 5 cups flour (I used half WW and half AP)
1 cup warm milk

In a small bowl, stir the yeast into the warm water and add a pinch of sugar. Let sit for 10-15 min for the yeast to wake up.
In a larger bowl (of your stand mixer, preferably), beat the butter, sugar, cardamom and salt together til creamy, about 3 min. Beat in the 3 eggs and 1 cup of flour. Stir til well combined, about 1-2 min. Add 2 more cups of flour, the warm milk and the yeast mixture, beat for another minute. Then add the rest of the flour and mix until you had a sticky dough. Knead for about 10 minutes (I kneaded with the mixer). Cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let rise in a warm place til doubled, about 1.5-2 hours.

2 apples, peeled, cored and diced into small pieces
2t lemon juice (optional, good for flavor and prevents apples from turning brown)
2T brown sugar
1t cinnamon
1/2t nutmeg
pinch of salt
1t cornstarch

To make the filling, mix all ingredients together. Set aside.

Back to the dough: it's risen now, so punch it down and divide in half. Spread out one half on your floured board and roll/stretch to a 10x14in (approx) rectangle. Sprinkle half of the filling mixture over the dough, and begin to roll the long side. Form into a horseshoe, and then using a sharp knife (or even scissors), cut the dough about 2/3 of the way through the roll. Do this every 2-3inches or so, and then spread the slices out to make the horseshoe into a circle. Place this on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, cover with a dishtowel and let rise for about 45min. Repeat with the other half of the dough. You can either bake the 2nd half or wrap the long roll in plastic wrap and freeze. If you freeze, let the cylinder thaw, then cut as for the first half, let rise, and bake.

Bake at 375F for about 40 min.

When cool, drizzle with cream cheese icing: 1T softened cream cheese, 1T milk and 1 cup powdered sugar.

Yum! Take this to the next brunch or tea party you're invited to.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New shoes!

These are not the shoes you'd expect, but I love them just the same!

Over the weekend, my mom and I went to the Lilly Pulitzer Resort 2011 trunk show/preview at the Silkworm in West Hartford Center. Resort is lovely. However, I was confronted with sample sizes, which honestly kind of irks me. It's one thing to only bring one of each item in a variety of sizes, but bringing everything in S and 4 is kind of unfair. Is every single Lilly lover a size 4? I think not. Would it kill them to throw in a couple Ms, Ls, XLs, and XSs? Really? Especially when there were 3 Lana shirts in 2 different colors, all size S. What's the point of that?

This rant-let about sample sizes goes back to shopping around for bridal gowns and bridesmaids dresses. With the entire country concerned about weight gain and obesity, you'd think they could throw in a few larger sizes- why bother making plus sizes dresses if you don't have the models available to try?

And I feel completely justified in complaining because for several years, I actually was the main sample size used in bridal shops, so I could buy the samples at the end of the season sale and only have to do minimal alterations to make them work. I'm not just whining because I couldn't zip anything up.

But anyway. I just had to get that out. Other than that, the resort stuff is lovely. They didn't have many of the prints I'd caught a glimpse of in the bootleg lookbook photos that got passed around, but I don't mind waiting for the whole shebang to pop up on the website.

Even more exciting than the resort preview was the sale on all Lilly in the store! You may remember back during the Endless Summer Sale, I'd almost bought a Jonah- but then canceled my order last minute. I was worried the Jonah wouldn't be flattering on me. Yes, I could return it, but then I wouldn't be able to replace it. I played it safe and bought a cardigan. Well, I've regretted not having the Jonah. Not knowing how it looks doesn't really lessen the regret, it makes me more regretful that I haven't even been able to find one in a store to try on.

Well the Silkworm changed all that!

She had one single Jonah in Heel Yeah. Only one size, only one print. And what do you know, it was my size! I tried on a number of things- unfortunately I had my small purse so no camera (hopefully the time for the iPhone 4 is near).

The Fannie fits like the Evie (still no picture of my Evie sorry, but I can tell you it's super flattering and lovely, highly recommend). However, the Fannie has a crew neck and rather wide shoulders, which are completely unflattering on me. I would only recommend this if you have narrow or sloping shoulders. The body is very flattering, with a classic higher waist and the contrasting color stripe is very well-placed. Fannie runs true to size.
Fannie Dress
in Pink Tomato (also available in navy/black and brown/ivory)

The shop owner gave me a Connie... I don't love the Connie. I was probably wearing the wrong size, it was very tent-like- I think she runs big, consider sizing down. I think my issues are just personal preference though, and I recommend trying it on if you like it. I don't even like it on the models, to be honest.
Connie Sweater Dress
in Black High Seas Stripe (also available in True Navy High Seas Stripe, with pink stripes)

I also tried on the Augusta, but unfortunately in a smaller size, since that's all there was. In previous years, it would have been close to fitting, but with the new sizing there was no hope- so I think she runs true to size, but I can't be absolutely sure. However! This is a lovely, lovely dress. The ruching at the hip is very flattering and comfortable. The only thing is... it's REALLY low-cut. Like, get a plunge bra for this one. I was really surprised, because it looks rather high on the model. Go figure.
Augusta Dress
in Bright Navy Bravissimo

The Ciara tunic in Chorus Girls is lovely, but I have no idea how to wear a top like this! It really looked like I was trying to look nice on a fat day. It's huge around the hips (on me, at least). I considered trying the next size down, but then I think it would have been too restrictive up top. It may be that this just doesn't work on me, but I want to warn you all about the bagginess! So I'm not sure how Ciara runs- she might be a little large, she might be true to size and the cut just didn't work on me... I really don't know. I wish we'd had more time and I could have tried other sizes. I was disappointed, because this print is gorgeous, and I think it's only available in Ciara, Bowen, and the hated Eryn (I hate Eryn. I know many love it, but I despise this dress).
Ciara Tunic
in Chorus Girl (also available in Pink Tomato Standing Ovation)

Finally, the Jonah in Heel Yeah :) I saved Jonah for last, because when I took it off the hanger, it looked just like Shauna, which looks like it might not work but then fits perfectly. Jonah is just the same! Jonah is basically the knit version of Shauna. Jonah is a hair roomy compared to other dresses from this season, which may be the goal of the style. It's obviously less structured than say, the Blanca or the Evie. My closet might just become overpopulated with Jonahs and Shaunas, that's how great they are. The construction of Jonah is subtle and flattering. There's a seam above the bust that goes across the entire front, and somehow shapes the dress perfectly. The buttons on the left shoulder are a lovely touch. And there are pocket! The only thing is it's one single, long, tube-like pocket, like on a sweatshirt, not two individual pockets. That's kind of weird, but not a big deal.
Jonah Dress
in Heel Yeah

I wore Jonah last night to a meeting. I was worried the Heel Yeah print wouldn't be quite right for this meeting, a little too superficial-girly, but no one really recognized it as shoes, so now I love it even more. It's a perfect Lilly hotty pink on navy, one of the best color combinations this world has ever seen (oh, am I a little biased? hmm). I love that the buttons are pink, too! And I wore this sans sash- my figure doesn't do belted dresses (luckily the shop owner, who's about 5'10 and at most a size 2) is the same way, so we comiserated over our beltless-ness. I plan to pair the belt with jeans- I just got some gently-used Lilly jeans on ebay, and they fit all over except the waist is too big, My new White House Black Market jeans are the same, stupid things completely stretched out :( And I almost bought the next size up! yikes.

In other Lilly news, my etsy shop is up and has nearly all the inventory displayed that I plan it to have- I have Christmas stockings in 3, possibly 4, more prints to put up, and I'll get Christmas tree skirts in 2 other prints. So far I've made one sale and have 2 more in process. My goal is to be able to sew for the fun of it and be able to find homes for my products, as well as pay for the supplies :) I'm really loving making these Christmas stockings, but we're currently very traditional in our Christmas decorations, and as much as I want a very Lilly Christmas, it won't happen anytime soon. Maybe if we had a small side room that I could Lillify?

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Isn't that a fun word? I love saying it.

We had beef bulgogi at the food and wine festival at Disney World a few weeks ago- I've been writing this post for over a week now, it's actually kind of embarrassing I can't get it done. But you know why? Inserting photos into blogger is a huge pain in the... you know. And the F&W post will have upwards of 30 photos. It's a daunting task.

I'm also lazy and have attention span issues lately. But that's neither here nor there. Also? I opened an etsy shop. Making things for my etsy shop takes up a lot of my time- but it's super fun so I usually don't care that I completely miss lunchtime and forget about making dinner until 9pm (which then means that we have cereal or sandwiches for dinner- until I got smart and made a huge batch of pulled pork and homemade grinder rolls, allowing dinner to be thrown together in about 10 minutes). Clint may not agree with the funness being worth eating at 10pm, but pulled pork heals all wounds.

Go see my etsy shop! Sorry, end of advertisement.

So let me quickly tell you about this pork bulgogi recipe I made.

It's not authentic, it's Martha Stewart. But inauthentic can still be delicious! (especially when it's Martha Stewart) It was lovely and easy and thinking about eating the leftovers 2 days later was particularly joyful. We served it with sushi rice for a super yum meal.

Pork Bulgogi
Recipe from Martha Stewart

4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
2T sugar
1T sesame oil
2t crushed red pepper (I used 2t sriracha, use 1t if you don't want it really spicy)
2t ginger, freshly grated (I used ground ginger, I was lazy)
1/4t ground pepper
1lb pork tenderloin, very thinly sliced crosswise
1 onion, cut into 12 wedges
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips (my addition)
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)

In a shallow pan, assemble the marinade: whisk together the garlic, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, crushed red pepper/sriracha, ginger and pepper. Slice the pork very thinly across, and add to the marinade. Stir around to coat, cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 10-15 minutes (I left it on the counter to marinate).

Spray a large pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper and pork with marinade (in 2 batches if necessary), and stir fry until pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes. If cooking in batches, place on a plate while cooking the next batch, and when everything's done, add back the already-cooked back to warm back up. Serve over rice and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

This was such an easy dish, and is very flavorful. I cut corners by using ground ginger instead of fresh, but really, it was still great. 2t of sriracha makes it my ideal degree of hot- hot so you notice and after several bites you need some water, but not burn-your-mouth-immediately hot. Of course, we all have different preferences for spiciness, and Clint didn't think this was hot at all. The marinade makes a nice salty, sweet glaze. I plan to make this again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

German-inspired dinner

For some reason, pork chops (except for stuffed pork chops) kind of remind me of German food. Perhaps because once upon a time, I hated pork and I didn't really like German food? Also, German restaurants were once almost the only place I ever saw pork- but we're talking back in the '80s, when food and restaurants were rather different than the are now.

Fortunately, by now I've had good German food (a matter of both going to different restaurants and one restaurant just being better), and I learned how to cook my own pork chops so they're not dry and leathery. And I therefore like to eat a lot of each.

We were trying to use up the pork in our freezer, so I was looking for pork recipes. Martha Stewart has these great themed slideshows, and I found the pork one. So many delicious-looking pork recipes! Because we had apples that needed to be used up, the pork chops with apple chutney immediately caught my eye. And wonder of wonders, it was pretty quick and easy.

You'd think that while being a housewife, "quick and easy" isn't really necessary anymore, but I have other things to take up my time... I'll share more info soon ;)
(most boring plating ever, right? I wish I'd at least put this on the blue plate)

Pork Chops with Apple Chutney
recipe from Martha Stewart

For the pork chops:
2T olive oil
salt and pepper for seasoning
4 boneless center-cut pork chops (1 1/4 pounds), cut 3/4 inch thick

For the apple chutney:
1T olive oil
1 onion, coarsely diced
4 green apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup golden raisins
1t ground ginger
1/4t dry mustard
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large oven-safe skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sear the pork, about 5min on each side. Then transfer to the oven and cook til the meat is 155F, about 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the chutney. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to turn translucent, about 5 min. Add the diced apple and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the vinegar, raisin, ginger, mustard and cayenne pepper, and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Plate the pork chops and pour the chutney on top. Delicious with spaetzle!

Spaetzle. Oh god, I love spaetzle. Like, lovvvvvve. I think mostly because they have nutmeg and are sauteed in butter. Seriously, where can you go wrong sauteing anything in butter?!

I'm not sure where this recipe came from, I've been using it for years.

serves 2

1/2 cup flour (AP or whole wheat, whichever)
1/2t salt
1/2t nutmeg
2T milk
1 egg
1t butter
thyme or chives, optional

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and nutmeg and make a well in the middle. In a separate small bowl, whisk together with a fork the milk and egg. Pour into the flour well and stir around with a fork, gradually incorporating everything. Let the dough rest for 15min.

Heat a large or medium saucepan of water to boil, then place the dough in a potato ricer or colander with large holes, and extrude the dough into the boiling water through whichever device you're using. Stir so the individual spaetzles don't clump up, and boil for about 4 minutes. Strain, rinse with cold water, and then heat the butter in a frying pan/skillet over medium-high heat and add the spaetzle. Saute for a few minutes, until it turns golden brown on the edges. Sprinkle in some herbs, if desired.

Honestly, you can't have pork chops without spaetzle. That's just plain silly.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Best Sandwich Bread EVER

Last night I made some sloppy joes. Now, I don't really like sloppy joes (Clint does), but these were sloppy joes with a Vietnamese twist. And you can pretty much give any dish and Asian twist and I'll try it. But when we ate the sandwiches, what blew us away was not the sloppy joes (they were totally fine) but the sandwich bread. The sloppy joes recipe wanted to be put on French bread, and of course I didn't feel like going to the store, so you know me, I'll just make some. I googled "french bread recipe" and made the first recipe I found... which was ridiculously amazing. This is my new favorite sandwich bread. Forget your wonder bread, your healthy multi-grain bird seed bread, even your fancy artisan bakery bread. This is an easy-peasy bread recipe and only took me about 2.5 hours start to finish. I cannot wait to make a nice cuban using this bread, or maybe I'll get brave and make a french dip.

Best Sandwich Bread EVER
recipe from
makes 3 grinder roll-sized loaves, each loaf good for 2 sandwiches

2 cups warm water
1T yeast
pinch of sugar
1t salt
1T oil (I used olive)
5-5.5 cups bread flour*

*I used King Arthur's First Clear flour, which is a high gluten flour used in Jewish rye. I'm not sure if it's as high gluten as bread flour, but it has a nice earthy taste to it, kind of like whole wheat flour. I used 4 cups of first clear and 1 cup of whole wheat, and the bread wasn't heavy like whole wheat, but had that kind of hint of flavor to it. I highly recommend the First Clear.

In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water. Let sit for 10-15 minutes for the yeast to wake up. Stir in the salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour. Stir for about 2 minutes. Add 2 more cups of flour and knead for 10 minutes. Let sit in an oiled bowl until doubled, about 1-1.5hrs. Shape into long baguette-shaped loaves (I shaped into 2 loaves, next time I'll make 3 loaves), cover with a towel and let rise for another 30 minutes. Sprinkle with water (liberally) and bake in a 375F preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until they start to turn golden brown.

This bread is crusty without being rock-hard-crunchy, and super soft in the middle. It's still kind of chewy like french bread, not cottony like most grocery store sliced breads, and is my ideal sandwich roll texture. It's not so flavorful it takes away from a sandwich, but it tastes good on its own. You have to try this!!

Vietnamese Sloppy Joes, or Sloppy Baos
recipe modified from Martha Stewart

I halved the recipe, which would serve 4-5, and wanted to use onion instead of shallots

1-1.25lb ground beef (or sub in another ground meat if you like)
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1T chopped lemongrass (I used dried)
2T red curry paste
1 cup ketchup
1T fish sauce
10 basil leaves, minced
1t brown sugar
2T mustard
julienned green mango or green apple
sliced jalapenos
french bread

In a large skillet, brown the meat with the onion, garlic, lemongrass and curry paste. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the ketchup, fish sauce, half the basil, brown sugar and mustard. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the loaf of french bread lengthwise (like for a grinder/sub) and toast in the oven for about 5-8 minutes.

To assemble the sandwich, spread the sloppy joe mixture on the bottom half of the bread, arrange julienned mango/apple and sliced jalapenos on top, and top with the top half of the bread. Slice the grinder into individual-sized portions and enjoy!

I really only made this dish because we wanted to use up some ground beef in the freezer. Clint loves sloppy joes and used to eat them often before we got married. I kind of can't stand them. But like I said, I'll try almost anything with an asian twist. And.... these were ok. Clint had seconds, so you *know* he liked them. If you're a sloppy joe kind of person, you'll probably like these. And like I said before, the bread is amazing.