Friday, December 27, 2013

Daring Bakers: Whoopie Pies!

The December Daring Bakers' Challenge had us all cheering - the lovely and talented Bourbonnatrix of Bourbonnatrix Bakes was our hostess and challenged us to make fun, delicious and creative whoopie pies! Delicious little cake-like cookies sandwiching luscious filling in any flavors we chose... What else is there to say but "Whoopie!"

I knew there was something I was supposed to be doing last night.  I made the cookies over a week ago and then forgot to write my post in time - Holiday's are a busy time - especially when you are on a new job with no vacation yet :)

So no creativity here.  I was baking for a cookie exchange so I was thinking more quantity over creativity.  I needed 90 cookies which means I baked four batches which came to around 200 half cookies.  After my first few sets I did run out to grab a small scoop.  Using a spoon was doable but it was much easier with the scoop and I think it made the cookies much more uniform.  

The cookies looked wonderful.  They were mini whoopie pies but still were pretty large for a Christmas cookie.  A full size whoopie pie would be a lot of cookie.  It is hard for me to review these since whoopie pies are not really my favorite cookie.  They were certainly good and if you like whoopie pies these would probably be a good recipe.  For me - I have seen enough whoopie pies to last me a while.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Daring Cooks: Cabbage Rolls

For this months Daring Cook's challenge Olga from Effortnesslessly challenged us to make stuffed cabbage rolls using her Ukrainian heritage to inspire us. Filled with meat, fish or vegetables, flexibility and creativity were the name of the game to get us rolling!

It has been many years since I have had a cabbage roll and I don't know why.  Olga introduced us to some very interesting variations - I didn't even know there was such a thing as a seafood cabbage roll.  I really wanted to try one of these but since it would be my wife and sons first time to try a cabbage roll I figured I should do good old beef this time.

There was nothing hard about making the cabbage rolls but it was several steps and took a couple of hours to complete.  The recipe said it served 8-10 so I decided to cut the recipe in half.  Well even cut in half the recipe made me 20 good sized cabbage rolls - lots of leftovers.  Well it turned out the leftovers were a good thing.  Someone at church just had a baby so we were able to provide them with a nice supper and a few lunches for us.  Everyone enjoyed them - maybe I can get my wife to let me try the seafood version next time.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Tribute to The Queen of All Daring Bakers, Lis

I feel kind of strange as I write this as I have never done anything like this before but it is something I really wanted to do.  Tuesday night after I got home from a social event and found an email waiting for me from someone I didn't know.  That email was to tell me that Lis; one of the founders of The Daring Kitchen website; had passed away earlier that day.  My heart sunk.

I have been a part of the Daring Kitchen; first the bakers and then the cooks; since early 2010.  I had just become a stay at home dad with an infant so the challenges were a great diversion.  I really didn't know much about Lis, her intros to the challenges were always full of energy and humor, but that is all I knew.  That all changed late in 2011.  Lis posted a message that she needed some technical help with the site and I volunteered. 

The past three years I have been much more involved with Lis and the site.  She would email me often with different tasks or questions on the site.  I never really felt that it was a chore.  Lis's emails were always full of humor and she always sounded genuinely grateful for everything I did.  She even sent me several gifts just as a small thank you.  I never asked for anything in return but I know that she always wanted the site to make enough money so that she could pay the people that were helping her out. 

I know I was surprised at how much her death has affected me.  They say this electronic age is making us all have less "real" relationships.  Lis is someone I have never met, never heard her voice, and I don't even know what she looked like.  But in her emails, she would always ask about family, or my job, and she would always talk about some of the things she was going through.  She would complain about some of her health issues, but always kept her humor even in that.  When I heard of her death I didn’t feel as if it was just an electronic relationship.  I had two nights with not much sleep and it felt every bit real.  I have been dealing with some website things and I keep thinking I can just email Lis to ask her.  I see that cookbook she sent me or the product I just reviewed, strange how many things I have to remind me of someone I never met.

I have felt very encourage by all the things people in the group are doing with this.  I am both sad and happy at the same time reading how she has touched so many of the other members.  Many of the members are cooking or doing a challenge in memory of Lis and I only wish I would have had the time to do something like that, but for now this will have to suffice.  I haven’t had much time yet to look at what everyone else has done today but I look forward to reading all of it.

So what about the website.  Like I said, for the past three years I have been the tech guy on the site.  I am the only one other than Lis that even has access to the whole site.  I have to admit, when I was first told the news, I just assumed the website would go away.  I knew Lis did a lot to keep it going and I knew that I did not want to take all that on myself.  Well, now it is starting to become obvious that it is not going to go away.  I have been contacted by several people who don’t want this community Lis helped create to go away, and some have even offered to help :)  Some have even been in contact with Lis’s husband and I am told that he doesn’t want it to end either.  The bottom line is, there are still some hurdles to get over, but we are going to do our best at keeping this thing going.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Daring Cooks: Pierogis

In a "celebration" of past Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

It really was a challenge to pick one, so many challenges from before I started, and way too many that I missed after I started.  I decided to go all the way back to August 2010 and pick a challenge from Liz of Bits 'n Bites and Anula of Anula's Kitchen - Pierogis.  I have always liked pierogis but have only ever made frozen ones or had them from the local eastern European deli (Kramarczuks - yumm).  Well making my own couldn't be simpler.

I chose to make their recipe for Russian style pierogi.  The recipe said it made four servings.  I ended up with way to much filling for the dough, but a second batch of dough worked out just about perfect for the filling.  It ended up making about 60 pierogis which I think will be enough for 3 meals for 4 people served as a side like this.  I did boil the pierogis (not sure I needed to) and then fried them with a little onion and some polish sausage.

Boy were they good.  The whole family loved them including the one year old and especially the six year old - they were a big hit.  Much better than the frozen ones and I think they have maybe even been better than the local deli with all the bacon I put in.

If you would like the recipe you can check out the full write-up in the daring kitchen archive here.