Cherry Galette

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Since I had a bunch of lovely sour cherries (see last post), I decided to make a cherry galette. Galettes are so dang easy, and they also happen to be delicious, so they’re perfect for a quick summer dessert! I make a peach version too.

Here’s the recipe for this Cherry Galette:

All ingredients are approximate because that’s how I roll. This dessert doesn’t have to be precise.

-6 cups of cherries (mine were tart, not sweet, so if you have sweet cherries you could add lemon juice or include less sugar)

-1/2 cup cherry juice (I used about half natural juice from my cherries and half grenadine because I had some, and grenadine is amaaazing)

-3-4 tablespoons of cornstarch (I actually used flour because I didn’t have cornstarch)

-1 cup sugar

-2 refrigerated roll-out pie crusts (I use Pillsbury)

Heat the sugar, flour, and juice in a pan on the stove, stirring occasionally until it thickens. Mix in your cherries and let cool.

Roll out your pie crusts on a buttered baking pan (they won’t fit completely, but that’s okay because you’ll be folding the edges up).

Put your cherry filling equally into the middles of each crust, leaving about an inch or two at the edges. Fold the edges up, and if you’d like, you can coat them with egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar for a crisp, brown, crunchy crust.

Bake at 450 for about 10-12 minutes.

Tip: Eat with ice cream, if possible.

 

 

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Cookiefest 2014

The womenfolk in my family got together this weekend to bake cookies…
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IMG_440190385The little ones joined us eventually and helped us decorate…

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IMG_440191120We made 5 different types in all: gingerbread, sugar, snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, and Italian almond. We did it ladies!

Also, the weather this weekend has been pretty great: up to almost 50 degrees. This is how that makes me feel:

George-Costanza-Prancing-Through-Park

Pumpkin Bars

Tonight, I was invited to a “Thought Forum”: a place for a group of people to get together and share thoughts, movie snippets, songs, poems, dreams, about a certain topic. (This month’s topic was “Dread”.) It’s kind of a potluck too, so I decided to bring a sweet treat. I love having excuses to make things. I swear, if I didn’t make things for other people, I would never make another thing.

So anyway, here was my first attempt at Pumpkin Bars. They were yummy, if I do say so myself!

Ingredients:
4 eggs
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 16 oz can pumpkin
2 cups flour sifted
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp nutmeg
For the icing:
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
Step 1. Mix the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin in a bowl.
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Add the rest of the cake ingredients and mix well.
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Step 3. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish, and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
Photo (31)4. While that’s baking, make the icing. Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla (or if you’re me, mush it all around in a bowl with a wooden spoon until it looks about right). Then gradually mix in the powdered sugar.
Photo (32)5. Let the cake cool.
Look how pretty!
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Step 6. Ice it, and enjoy!
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One Perk of Working in a School

This past weekend was amazing. Since I work in a school, we had Thursday and Friday off, so it was a nice break. I am a woman of simple pleasures, so the things that made me very happy this weekend seem kind of silly, but just let me have my fun.

Thursday, I slept in, cuddled in bed with Jane forever, which I think she was maybe okay with:

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When you can see the third eyelid, you know they’re happy.

I got lunch, and since it was THE MOST GLORIOUS FALL DAY IMAGINABLE, I did one of my favorite things: walked around a lake listening to podcasts.

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Photo (27)Then, YOU GUYS, I got a facial. Wha..? I’ve never had one before, and I’ve never done a spa thing for no reason (like it wasn’t a gift from someone or whatever). I’ve just never done it before, and I was curious. I’m a planner, so I rarely do things like this on the spur of the moment, so that was kind of fun (I mean, I booked it the night before, so there was SOME planning, but a lot less than I normally do). It was very nice. There were a lot of …feels: creamy, oily, gritty, dry, wet, heavy, light, dark, there was even some pain (she used something that I think had cinnamon in it, so it burned the way that it burns when you chew cinnamon gum).

Then I went home and had some chai tea and started a new book.

Photo (28)Super exciting story: I picked up one of my ginger cookies and thought, “Hey, what if I dunked this cookie into the tea? What would that taste like?” So I did, and it was like heaven.

Then I opened my window, and it was amazing. (This is Minnesota, so it’s usually too cold for that in October, so this is a bigger deal than it seems.)

Photo (29)I had dinner with the folks, and finished the book. Starting a new book is exciting, and finishing a book is satisfying. Both feels in one day!

The next couple of days involved some brunches with friends, running errands, getting stuff done around the house, reading two more books, and attending a RollerGirls bout (so much fun!!):

Photo (28) - CopyI also baked an apple pie…

Photo (29) - CopyAnd got some library books…

Photo (30)…for babysitting the nephews!

Photo (31)Whew!

 

Hashbrown Casserole

We had a family brunch this weekend, so I decided to bring Hashbrown Casserole a la Cracker Barrel. A friend and I used to go to Cracker Barrel for dinner every Sunday (whuddup Jon!). The closest one is about 45 minutes away, so that tells you how amazing this stuff is.

The recipe is very easy, just how I like ’em.

Ingredients:

-1 bag of frozen hashbrowns (1 lb 14 oz)

-1 stick of butter

-1 can of cream of chicken soup

-1 pint sour cream

-1/2 onion

-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

-salt and pepper to taste

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Step 1. Chop your onion.

We meet again.

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Step 2. Melt your butter.

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3. Throw everything you’ve got into a bowl and mix well. Here’s a tip: don’t take a big whiff of the cream of chicken soup just cuz you’re curious.

Photo (39)Step 4. Spread your mixture into a pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

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5. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies and a New Job

As I’ve mentioned, I like to bake people things when I feel bad about something I’ve done/will do to them. It’s my way of pathetically begging them not to hate me.

This time around, I have to have that terrifying “I’m leaving” conversation with my boss. There’s nothing wrong with my current job, but I just accepted a position in a school (!) as a Work Experience Coordinator, so I have to move on. For those that don’t know, I earned a Master’s and License in School Counseling last year, and since then, I have been searching doggedly for a job (counseling, ideally, but really anything in a school). So this is a very good, very hard-won opportunity for me. I am excited and terrified.

SO. My boss is very nice, so I’m sure he will be supportive, but I’m the kind of person who just fears making any kind of waves, so I wanted to have something that would ease us into the conversation.

So………………….COOKIES!

I love me some cookies, and I am on a constant search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I like my CCCs crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. And when I say chewy, I mean chewy. A bakery near my house (Rustica) makes the perfect CCC, so if I could just steal their recipe, I would. But I don’t know it. So I just keep trying.

Here’s the recipe I used tonight. It’s not The One, so the search continues. But it’s okay.

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Throw your white and brown sugar and butter into a bowl and mix until smooth.

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Then add the egg, and if you were a normal, intelligent person, you would also add your vanilla at this point. Unfortunately, I’m me, and I cleaned out my spice rack when I re-did my kitchen, and forgot that I never bought more vanilla. So…there’s that. Mix your egg AND YOUR STUPID VANILLA in.

Photo (49)Now the dry stuff. Mix in your flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Photo (50)Then the chocolate chips.

Photo (55)Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Give them some good distance in between because they will spread a bit.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through.

Photo (51)Let sit on the sheets for a couple of minutes afterward, then transfer to cooling racks.

Photo (52)Put them in a nice tin for your boss/co-workers.

Photo (53)And of course save some for the roomies.

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Chocolate Strawberry Trifle

It was my mom’s birthday this week, so I made her a cake..type..thing. I didn’t want to make a plain cake (not special enough for my special mama), and I was kind of in the mood to try out a trifle. Trifles are AMAZING. I think I’ve really only had one, and it was made by my friend, Cherish, who went to baking school. So that’s probably why I think they’re so great. But I’ve only seen white cake versions of trifle, and my mom needs chocolate, so here’s what I did!

One could easily make this dessert from scratch, because it’s not a “difficult” thing to make, but it does have a lot of components, so I decided to take a couple of shortcuts.

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I used boxed cake mix and jello pudding (instead of custard/mousse). I didn’t actually end up using the Cool Whip, because I found that I had time to make my own whipped cream.

So first things first, you make your cake (in 2 round pans):

Taking a picture with one hand while pouring cake mix with another: NOT EASY.
Taking a picture with one hand while pouring cake mix with another: NOT EASY.

While you wait for that to bake, you make your pudding. Like I said, trifles aren’t difficult to make, but they involve a lot of steps, and it seems that breaking those steps up is the best way to do it. I made the cake and pudding in the morning, then ran some errands while they cooled/chilled in the fridge, and did the rest in the afternoon.

Slice up some strawberries (or whatever fruit you’d like, but come on, with chocolate cake? It’s gonna be strawberries).

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I actually sliced these the night before (and put them in the fridge), so they could stew in their yummy juices for a while. I lie to you in my posts, but I tell the truth in the captions. 🙂

Then you make yo’self some delicious whipped cream. My heart broke a little when I bought that Cool Whip because I’ve NEVER used Cool Whip before, and I hope I never have to. I just didn’t think I’d have time to make my own, but I did! Yay!

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Now you get to assemble! The best part! So thunk your cake pans upside down on the counter until the cake plops out, and shove one round to the bottom of the trifle dish. Then spread a layer of fruit, a layer of pudding, and a layer of whipped cream. Repeat once, and keep a couple of strawberries to garnish the top.

Refrigerate until serving.

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By the way, as I wrapped my mom’s birthday gift, Jane hopped into the wrapping paper bin.

HAPPIEST CAT ALIVE

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